Trailer Reviews for July 5, 2013

THE LONE RANGER



I’m really not sure about this movie. On the one hand, it seems to have that same combination of madcap action and wacky characters that made me like Pirates of the Caribbean so much, where you’ve got a straight-man heartthrob type (it was Orlando Bloom, now Armie Hammer) paired with an eccentric genius type in a flamboyant outfit (was Johnny Depp, still Johnny Depp) flailing their way through huge destructive setpieces. But the whole Tonto thing… isn’t it super racist? I know Johnny Depp has said he’s got some Native American blood in him and the Tonto character has always been way smarter than the Lone Ranger, but they’re still playing it for laughs, especially the outfit and the accent, and it makes me uncomfortable. Maybe I’ll just avoid the issue altogether by not seeing the movie.

DESPICABLE ME 2



I absolutely loved the first one but never got a chance to review it, so I’m looking forward to this one. I did wonder, when they announced that they were making a sequel, what they would have Gru do now that he was done being a villain. I was worried that he would stop being funny once he wasn’t trying to corral three little girls into helping him with a ridiculous evil plot. I’ve seen the trailers for Despicable Me 2 and I still can’t figure out what it’s about, mostly because Gru isn’t even in them except as a logo! They’ve focused entirely on the minions. I know the minions are cute and funny (actually cute and funny rather than intended to be cute and funny but actually annoying) but they can’t carry the whole movie. There’s got to be a plot in there somewhere.

THE WAY WAY BACK



Oh I see, Gru couldn’t be in the Despicable Me 2 trailer because Steve Carell was already booked to star in this trailer for The Way Way Back. It looks like a pretty decent (if pretty 500 Days of Summer-y) coming of age movie with the added bonus of Sam Rockwell as the father figure, but I don’t like the title. It’s too similar to The Way Back, an awesome movie about some guys who walked 4,000km to freedom after escaping from a Siberian Gulag. I also really don’t like that kid. He’s too hunched and sulky (i.e. too much like a real teenage boy) and I doubt I would appreciate spending two hours in his company. I’d probably come out sympathizing more with the supposedly douchey boyfriend than the kid.

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DVDs for July 2, 2013

56 up

56 Up

I was first introduced to these documentaries by my Russian professor in college, who showed us the Soviet version of the first film in the series, 7 Up. It’s a pretty simple concept – interview a bunch of 7-year-olds and return every seven years to interview them again so you can capture a stop-motion version of their lives on film. Director Michael Apted started this project in 1964 and as you can see the original kids are 56. Watch the series from the beginning if you haven’t seen them before. It’s fascinating to see where people end up as opposed to where they thought they would be at that age.

Buy 56 Up on DVD.

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last resort

Last Resort

When I heard that there was going to be a military show about Navy SEALs on a nuclear submarine, I thought: that’s going to be so awesome! Unfortunately when I watched the pilot my only thought was: this is so stupid. The premise of the show is that there’s an extremely convoluted plot afoot in the US government which results in the sub crew getting an order to launch their nukes. They refuse to do it, get attacked by their own people, and retire to a deserted island to bicker amongst themselves. I stopped paying attention after about 10 minutes. No wonder it didn’t get a second season.

Buy Last Resort: the Complete Series on DVD.
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smart cookies

Smart Cookies

Normally I don’t bother talking about Hallmark Channel movies on this blog because a) there are too many and b) most of them make me want to throw up. But I’m a Girl Guide leader so I wanted to mention this one, which is about a woman who becomes a Girl Scout leader in the United States. It’s got the format of an inspirational sports movie, so she of course sucks when she starts out as a leader but then they bond over selling cookies and then all the little girls love her. So it’s cutesy, but it’s a shout-out to Guiding. You’ll want to watch it if you’re a leader too.

Buy Smart Cookies on DVD.

6 souls

6 Souls/Shelter

I’m going through a phase where I’m reading a lot of psychology, so I thought I’d also mention this one, which has a different title depending on where you live. It stars Julianne Moore as a therapist trying to help Jonathan Rhys-Meyers, who’s got six multiple personalities. They all seem to be murder victims, so the only way she can help him is to solve the murders. It’s a pretty creepy movie even though it’s not terribly educational and it’s kind of a ripoff of Identity. It’s definitely worth two hours in front of your TV though.

Buy 6 Souls/Shelter on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

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The Heat Review

poster from the Twentieth Century Fox film The Heat 2013

Bridesmaids was a little grosser than I usually like my comedies, but I can’t deny that it’s opened up a lot of doors for female comedians. One by one the old male-dominated sub-genres are falling, with the latest one being the buddy cop genre. I enjoy buddy cop movies but sexism makes me angry, so even if The Heat looked dumb I probably would have seen it. Luckily it looked funny.

A braggart FBI agent meets her match when she tries to take over a drug case from a pushy Boston cop who terrorizes her entire precinct.

Now that I’ve seen it I can tell you that The Heat is indeed downright hilarious. The best part about it that it wasn’t the gross kind of funny like in Bridesmaids. There are lots of witty one liners, action scenes loaded with physical comedy, and the whole thing is a fairly apt satire of the cop movie genre, much like The Other Guys. It’s a great time. You should see it.

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Trailer Reviews for June 28, 2013

THE HEAT



You’ve probably never thought much about it, but all the buddy comedies, especially the buddy cop comedies, are all about two mismatched GUYS who are forced to partner up. You almost never see two females in a buddy movie, which is why I’m so excited for this one. A female buddy cop movie! And it looks funny! Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy are a good pairing. We already know they’re talented comedians and when they play off each other it’s a good dynamic – straight-laced vs…. unlaced, I guess it would be. Can’t wait.

WHITE HOUSE DOWN



See what I mean about buddy movies always being about guys? If I’m not holding that (or the fact that the main character’s name is John – AGAIN) against White House Down, it actually does look pretty funny. Channing Tatum is a brawny goof and Jamie Foxx is a smart person who can act, so between them I think they can carry this thing. The story is ridiculous, but that’s not the point. Big dumb fun and all that. Not quite as dumb as Battleship or quite as big as Olympus Has Fallen but big dumb fun nonetheless.

UNFINISHED SONG



LOL, what did those people expect, singing outside his window early in the morning? I’d have told them off too. I kind of love this guy – he’s like the live action version of Statler and Waldorf all rolled into one. I’ve seen the underdogs-in-singing-contest thing before, but never featuring a choral group of curmudgeonly seniors. I’d watch it.

STORM SURFERS 3D



I guess if you’ve ever watched a surfing movie and wished the story would f*** off so you could watch two hours of crazy Australians surfing pipe than this movie is for you. They seem like pretty funny guys, so I’m glad the filmmakers were able to catch them on video before they try to surf a tsunami and get wiped out by an office building filled with water or something.

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DVDs for June 25, 2013

burt wonderstone

The Incredible Burt Wonderstone

While it’s not my favorite movie by Steve Carrell or Jim Carrey, The Incredible Burt Wonderstone was pretty hilarious. Carrell and Steve Buscemi play a Siegfried and Roy style pair of stage magicians who are knocked out of their top billing in Vegas by Jim Carrey, a Criss Angel style stunt magician. They have to team up with a female magician (Olivia Wilde) and an old guy (Alan Arkin) to come up with something big enough to win their audience back. Check out my full review for more or just go ahead and rent it, because it’s decent.

Buy The Incredible Burt Wonderstone on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

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the call

The Call

If this movie gets much attention from movie renters, I suspect it will be because it stars Halle Berry, not because the story is particularly unique or well executed. Berry plays a 9-1-1 operator who takes a call from a young girl (Abigail Breslin) who has been kidnapped by a serial killer. Because she’s taken calls from this killer’s victims before, Berry’s character defies all rules of 9-1-1 operating and common sense and chases after the guy herself hoping to rescue the girl. They do manage to generate some tension, but you’d be better off watching some episodes of Criminal Minds instead.

Buy The Call on DVD or on Blu-Ray.
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upside down

Upside Down

It’s a shame this one was only a limited release in theaters because it’s totally unique and really well done. It’s a love story about two people who live on opposite sides of a twinned planet where one surface is upside down from the other and significantly poorer. Scientifically it would never work, of course, but that doesn’t stop the movie from pulling it off. Jim Sturgess and Kirsten Dunst are adorable as the boy from the wrong side of the tracks and the girl born to privilege and the whole concept has got to be the best interpretation of the ‘bird and fish in love’ that I’ve ever seen. Check it out.

Buy Upside Down on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

hansel and gretel get baked

Hansel and Gretel Get Baked

I just had to pick this one because the title was so bad. It conjures up images of two little blonde kids smoking up in their parents’ basement… which turns out to not be far from the truth. The movie features a modern day Hansel and Gretel (played by the reject boy from Twilight and Rick Castle’s daughter) who get high on a drug called ‘Black Forest’ and raid the house of an old lady rumored to be growing the stuff at home and chowing down on people who come to visit. It’s a mildly funny concept but probably would have been better as a short film.

Buy Hansel and Gretel Get Baked on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

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World War Z Review

poster from the Paramount Pictures film World War Z

Modern movie audiences (like me) are so cynical that it’s difficult to scare us. Maybe it’s because so many filmmakers have abandoned tension in favor of gore or maybe it’s just because we’ve seen it all so many times before. Regardless, the pressure of creating a movie from Max Brooks’ popular fake ‘oral history’ of the ‘zombie war’ resulted in many delays and rewrites but eventually a full narrative emerged.

In order to ensure protection for his family, a UN investigator must travel outside the safe zone to uncover information about the zombie virus that has devastated the world.

The production problems and the lackluster trailers for World War Z gave me the impression that the movie would be okay at best, so I was totally shocked when it was f***ing awesome. After a bit of a slow start, we ramped up into a story that was linear, cohesive, fascinating, believable, and downright scary too! I dare you to see it and not look apprehensively at crowds as you’re coming out of the theater.

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Trailer Reviews for June 21, 2013

WORLD WAR Z



I like zombie movies but I’m not often scared by them, largely because people in them tend to die from their own stupidity more than anything else. Running zombies are scarier than shambling zombies but running climbing hive-mind zombies? Terrifying. Those zombies alone are reason enough for me to go see the movie. I haven’t read the book (just the Zombie Survival Guide by the same author) and I find Brad Pitt to be a really bland actor, so those zombies are really all that’s keeping me going. I hope there’s a LOT of them in this movie (or the investigation plot turns out to be really interesting) or I’m going to be disappointed.

MONSTERS UNIVERSITY



Normally I always go to Pixar movies, but I’m thinking about skipping this one. Monsters Inc. is one of my least favorite Pixar movies anyway (just above Cars 2 and just below A Bug’s Life) and the trailer just looks… bland. And kind of pointless. The storyline seems to be about Mike Wazowski trying to become a scarer but we already know that he doesn’t – in Monsters Inc. he’s Sully’s assistant. It’s also really hard to care about either Mike or Sully because I’ve never really found them that interesting as characters. So the question is: am I wrong (again) or is Pixar finally starting to go downhill?

BEFORE MIDNIGHT



Let me say upfront that I haven’t seen either of the two prequels, Before Sunrise or Before Sunset but I have a vague impression that they’re love stories about two people who only have a very limited amount of time together for some odd reason. It’s nice to know that should I decide to see this one, I won’t have to watch the other two first, because she just summed them both up in like three lines of dialogue. I don’t think I will decide to see this movie, though. It seems like it’s just This is 40, but for slightly more intelligent people. Unfortunately that still means they spend most of the movie whining about each other. Maybe I’ll be more interested when I’m forty.

THE BLING RING



This movie looks kind of interesting. It’s like a commentary on how wide-open people’s lives (especially celebrities’ lives) are now with everything ending up on the internet, and also how stupid teenagers are in thinking they can post all their misdeeds online and not get in trouble (um, duh, the police have computers too). But (and this is a big but) the movie is directed by Sofia Coppola. She also directed Lost in Translation, which looked funny and interesting at the trailer stage and turned out to be bland and boring as a full movie. So I think I’ll just content myself with the trailer and move on.

MY LITTLE PONY: EQUESTRIA GIRLS



OMG PONIES! I used to love the My Little Ponies when I was like four. But ponies turning into people? I’m a little weirded out by that. Besides, I thought the point of ponies was… well, PONIES! Regardless, it’s only coming to select theaters, so you might not be special enough to see it anyway.

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DVDs for June 18, 2013

quartet

Quartet

Quartet is part of a new genre of movies I like to call “old people are still funny” in which aging comedians choose scripts where they play age-appropriate characters dealing with age appropriate situations to show that they’ve still got it. Quartet isn’t as funny as Best Exotic Marigold Hotel but it’s still really good. It stars Maggie Smith, Billy Connolly, Tom Courtenay and Pauline Collins as famous retired opera singers who had a falling out years ago but end up together again in a retirement home for musicians. Check out my full review for more.

Buy Quartet on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

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jack giant

Jack the Giant Slayer

In this updated version of the Jack and the Beanstalk fairy tale, Nicholas Hoult plays a Luke Skywalker-esque farm boy who wants to grow up to be a knight and marry a princess. Thanks to a giant beanstalk transporting her into a land of people-eating giants, he gets to meet the princess. Thanks to good breeding practices, she doesn’t turn out to be his sister. It’s kind of funny, kind of exciting, and also kind of disappointing. There’s just not enough that’s different about it to make it worth remembering. You can read my my full review for more.

Buy Jack the Giant Slayer on DVD or on Blu-Ray.
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call the midwife

Call the Midwife: Season 2

If you haven’t started watching this show yet, you should. It’s terrific. It’s a BBC drama set in the 1950s about a group of nurse-midwives who are living in a convent in a poor London neighborhood and riding around on bicycles providing free medical care to pregnant women and new mothers. The production values are great and all the characters are lovable and hilarious. The best part about it, though, is getting to see how much of a difference free health care to poor people.

Buy Call the Midwife: Season 2 on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

21 and over

21 and Over

21 and Over is the tired story of a group of boys celebrating a friend’s birthday with a night of wild partying right before a big interview. It was written by the same writers as The Hangover and it shows, because it’s almost the same movie as The Hangover – only worse. It doesn’t have any clever gimmicks like The Hangover does and it calls up all the same cliches that you see in every teen party movie. Teens who haven’t been so overexposed to the genre (especially boys) might like it, but adults will likely think it’s stupid and/or boring.

Buy 21 and Over on DVD or on DVD.

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Man of Steel Review

poster in the Warner Bros. film Man of Steel 2013

I’m not a fan of the old Superman movies. They’re too “Superman does super stuff.” It’s character that grabs me, so I much prefer the TV show Lois and Clark, which was “Clark does reporter stuff” with Superman as more of a hobby. I was excited for Man of Steel because the scenes of Clark as a lonely hobo led me to believe the movie might have the same focus on character.

A lonely refugee alien decides to use his super powers to protect his adopted planet from an attack by other members of his species.

However, now that I’ve seen Man of Steel I realize that they’ve invented a third category for themselves: “super alien does alien stuff.” So it’s action packed and it doesn’t rehash anything you’ve seen before (keep in mind I haven’t seen the comics or cartoons) but it doesn’t quite manage to become my favorite.

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Trailer Reviews for June 14, 2013

MAN OF STEEL



I’m not a Superman fan, largely because I feel like ‘Superman Does Some Super Stuff’ isn’t enough of a story. Superman is invulnerable, which makes him uninteresting unless we can delve into his personality. Sure his BODY is invulnerable, but he’s got feelings, right? He gets lonely, angry, has dreams, falls in love, right? That’s the Superman that I want to see, which is why I like that 90’s show Lois and Clark so much more than the old Christopher Reeve movies. I think Man of Steel could have what I’m looking for, which is why I’m stoked to see it. I mean, how sad is that music? How pathetic is little teen Clark’s face in that bus scene? Yup. This is gonna be a good one.

THIS IS THE END



Hmmm…. I don’t know about this one. I mean, the idea sounds funny. A disaster movie comedy starring stylized versions of famous actors (kind of like that one episode of Supernatural where Sam and Dean came through to our world). But I’ve seen a couple different trailers for this movie and none of them are very funny. The closest I came to laughing was when they tried to duct tape the foundation of their house back together. Sure, the red band trailer has a lot more swear words in it, but it’s not funnier. A lot of it probably has to do with the fact that I don’t like Jonah Hill or Seth Rogan, but in theory the rest of the cast should have been able to make up for it. I dunno. It looks like a dud.

KINGS OF SUMMER



“You’re right. It’s a classic kidnapping. They took our children and the canned goods and pasta.” LOL. That line alone would have convinced me to see this movie, but the rest of it is pretty clever too. It’s like Stand By Me, but less boring and without the dead body. They don’t even fall into the trap of making it look super easy to live off the land. All the people I know who tried it for any length of time ended up back at their parents houses when they got hungry.

MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING



Joss Whedon and the casts of Firefly, Angel, and The Avengers do Shakespeare? Okay, I’ll bite. Especially since I really liked that play when Kenneth Branagh made a movie of it in the 90s. It looks like another one of those ‘I’m bored, come shoot a movie at my house you guys’ projects (see Dr. Horrible’s Sing Along Blog). I could do without the black and white… and the ye olde English lines. But what the hell, I’ll still watch it. It’s Joss Whedon!

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