I’ve heard this movie compared to Alice in Wonderland and while it was meant as a compliment, I can’t help but be concerned. Alice in Wonderland was a little too much “look at all the cool stuff we can do with CGI” and not enough “boy, have I got a really great story to tell you.” It does help, though, that this is not the same Oz story we all know – with Dorthy and the little dog and the friends who are all missing their important bits. This is a prequel story about Oz, who has probably the least screen time of anyone in the original film yet somehow manages to be the most interesting character. I for one am looking forward to delving into the back story of the Wizard of Oz. On a side note – that was a cool thing they did there with the aspect ratios in the trailer. It gives me hope that the film will be clever also.
DEAD MAN DOWN
I’m a big fan of the original Swedish Dragon Tattoo movies. That trilogy was loaded with violence and it didn’t bother me but they almost lost me in Dead Man Down when she started talking about revenge. Too many dark/crime movies turn me off because the main characters are terrible people – revenge obsessed, self-interested, remorseless. I guess the reason I liked Dragon Tattoo so much – and the reason I’m actually kind of interested in seeing this movie – is that the main characters are sympathetic. Obviously the Terrence Howard character is horrible and needs to be stopped. Obviously some really bad stuff happened to the Noomi Rapace character that convinced her nothing but death would stop him. And Colin Farrell’s character is affected by the fact that he kills people. So yeah, I’d probably watch this movie.
Apparently Wentworth Miller writes screenplays. Did you know Wentworth Miller wrote screenplays? I did not know Wentworth Miller wrote screenplays. I wish I could say I like the trailer for the screenplay he has written, because he seems like a nice guy, but sadly I cannot. I mean, it looks like it could have been scary, but it’s way too quiet. As in, quiet enough that I’d probably get bored watching the movie. Too many close ups of spiders crawling around and bits of gunk floating in water. Too many long awkward pauses between lines of dialogue. Too many blank faces delivering emotionless lines. I like all these actors in other things but here… either their characters are psychopaths who missed the ‘mimicking human emotion’ day in psychopath school or they were all having a bad acting day (year?). I’ll pass on this one.
I love Wreck-It Ralph. In fact, I rated it as one of my favorite movies of 2012. It features a video game villain who throws the arcade into chaos when he abandons his game and befriends a marginalized little girl in a racing game in his efforts to be a hero. Anyone who gamed in the 90s will find it nostalgically awesome while today’s kids should be sufficiently entertained by the Halo references and the lands made of candy. Rent it for the whole family or read my review for more.
On the other side of the coin, we have the terrible modern remake of the also-terrible 80s film Red Dawn, where an off duty marine played by Chris Hemsworth must turn a bunch of whiny teenagers into a guerrilla squad after their town is invaded by North Korea. It only narrowly avoided making my ‘worst movies of 2013’ list by the skin of its Chris Hemsworth (Hey! Hotness can make up for a lot!) Unless you’re a huge fan of the original for some odd reason or you’re watching Chris Hemsworth’s backlist, there’s no reason to rent this movie. Read my review instead.
Playing for Keeps can’t seem to decide what type of movie it wants to be. Is it a comedy about a washed up pro soccer player who gets roped into coaching a bunch of little kids? Yes, sort of. Is it a buddy movie about an immature, absentee dad who reconnects with his son? Yes, sort of. Is it a romantic comedy where a sexy ex-boyfriend steals his one true love away from her new fiance? Yes, sort of. It’s all these things, but not enough of each to make it really resonate, which is why it’s merely okay. Read my review for more.
Not a lot of people watch foreign language films, and that’s a shame, because some of them are really good. If you’re one of the people who assume that anything European is bound to be confusing and/or depressing, I challenge you to find anything confusing or depressing about Les Intouchables, a hilarious and heartwarming French film about a wealthy paralyzed man who hires a big, tough poor guy as his caretaker against everyone’s advice and he ends up pushing his boundaries and having a great time. Check it out!
I was less than thrilled to hand over $14.50 to see Jack the Giant Slayer in 3D this weekend, and even less thrilled that I had to watch about ten minutes of 3D ads in addition to paying for the privilege of watching the movie in useless 3D, but the only other movie coming out this weekend was 21 and Over. There were so many ads I forgot what I was there to see: a retelling of the Jack and the Beanstalk fairy tale.
A farm boy discovers the legend of giants is true when his friend the princess is accidentally stranded in their land by a rogue beanstalk.
I like fairy tale retellings (I watch Once Upon a Time regularly) and I had some hopes for this movie because Ewan McGregor (who is awesome) and Bryan Singer (who directed X-Men) were both involved, even though the trailer was lackluster. And while it was better than I expected, it just didn’t hook me.
I have to say – this movie looks pretty dopey and uninspired. If you want to impress me with fairy tales these days, you have to give them a twist, not just load them down with CGI. Hansel and Gretel as serial killers. Rapunzel with magic hair. Once Upon a Time has already twisted the Jack and the Beanstalk story (Jack was a girl and the giants were the good guys) so I expect to be unimpressed by this movie. I mean – simple farm boy? Beautiful princess? Where have we seen that before? (answer: everywhere) And yet… and yet… Ewan McGregor almost always picks movies to be in that I like. So I have to wonder – does he know something I don’t? Is there something about Jack the Giant Slayer that the trailers didn’t show? Or is Ewan McGregor just having a little fun hauling a sword around?
LAST EXORCISM II
I saw The Last Exorcism. I even reviewed it for this blog but I still couldn’t tell you whether the woman in this movie is the same woman, or even if the vaguely I Know What You Did Last Summer plot has much of a connection to the previous movie. That’s how much of an impression it made on me. I do know that The Last Exorcism #2: Really the Last One This Time has taken a few pages from the Supernatural playbook since the last outing, though (the black demon eyes, crazy symbols on the doors, circles of salt on the floor). Keep an eye out next year for Last Exorcism #2: Seriously, this is the Last One, You Guys, We Promise, featuring Sean and Dam Flinchester as renegade priests looking to do their final exorcism (for serious this time).
21 AND OVER
Haven’t we seen this movie before? Like a million times? Wasn’t it already released this year under the name Project X? I mean, as happy as I am that Jon Lucas and Scott Moore have stopped ripping off their own script from The Hangover, they haven’t really moved on that far, have they? Another party, another collection of drunken antics, another pressing morning deadline. The only difference from The Hangover is that they don’t start at the end of the night and the characters are all teenagers, which makes me even less eager to see it. Teenagers are annoying and at least the looking-for-the-missing-friend/piecing-together-the-night gimmick was interesting. Now they don’t even have that.
Damn. For a Die Hard movie, this trailer is BO-RING. It’s forty seven snoozeworthy seconds before anything explodes. I looked through a bunch of different teasers and trailers on the diehardmovie YouTube account and they were all boring, right out of the gate. Classical music? Flat, uninteresting dialogue? What’s up with that? Are they making us wait for it? Do they think that just because everyone knows the Die Hard franchise that we’ll give it a free pass? Well you won’t get one from me, A Good Day to Die Hard. I think that the Die Hard movies are pretty reliably decent as far as meatheaded action movies go, but this trailer inspires nothing but apathy in me for the new sequel. I won’t be going.
Josh Duhamel, I think you’re hot. I went to see the Transformers sequels, despite the fact that I knew they would be terrible, because you were in them. However, I draw the line at suffering through another sappy Nicholas Sparks tragedy just to watch you get your smolder on. I didn’t mind The Lucky One because Sparks messed it up and the tragedy missed the main characters, or Dear John, because the filmmakers changed the ending, but I’m not going to delude myself into thinking it could happen again. Something obvious and terrible will befall the young lovers (who kinda sound like they’re phoning it in, actually) and tears will be slapped from your face. If Nicholas Sparks wasn’t so famous, the movie adaptations of his novels would be movies of the week on cable, not worldwide theatrical releases.
I’m not a fan of these books. Hell, I haven’t even read them. But I’m SO GLAD the movie adaptation is coming out this week because it means I won’t have to pay like $14 to see the uninspiring new Die Hard movie or another godawful Nicholas Sparks movie. There are several things I find promising about Beautiful Creatures: the disintegrating Southern culture aspect (it’s not completely moving away from the ‘typical American teen’ cliché but it’s a start), the destiny vs choice aspect of whether the main character turns light or dark, the fact that it’s the girl who has the superpower and the boy who’s normal (in teen paranormal romance it’s almost always the other way around) and of course Emma Thompson as an evil witch. Emma Thompson! As an evil witch! Awesome. Looking forward to it.
Okay… what? Someone steals this guy’s identity… the authorities know about it… they HAVE A PICTURE OF THE PERSON WHO DID IT AND HER LOCATION but they’re gonna send him down there to sort it out on his own? I’m sorry, but that’s just dumb. The few times people I know have had their credit card numbers stolen, the companies have jumped in to take over, canceling the cards, tracking down the culprits, and striking the bogus charges off the bill. They have to be like that, or no one would have a credit card anymore. It’s just way to easy for the number to be stolen. I could look past the dumb premise (maybe) if the movie looked funny, but Jason Bateman is bland and Melissa McCarthy is crude and I didn’t laugh once during the trailer. So I’ll be skipping this one.
“From the creators of Contagion.” Woah woah woah, let me stop you right there, trailer. Contagion is not something you want to brag about. Contagion was boring, directionless, and had an annoying tenancy to never fully develop any of its plot points. I rated it as one of the worst movies of 2011. The fact that you think it was awesome enough to brag about tells me that this otherwise interesting sounding medical conspiracy murder thriller starring Channing Tatum is going to be boring, directionless, and full of underdeveloped subplots as well. So thanks, movie, for not tricking me into thinking you were going to be good. I just saved $11.50!
TOP GUN 3D
Awesome. Now I’m a total hypocrite for ragging on all those studios that re-released old movies in aftermarket 3D and expected us to fall all over ourselves running to the theater to buy tickets. Because all I could think of when I heard about Top Gun 3D was HOMG! TOP GUN! IN 3DDDDDDDDDDDDDD!!!!!
I started my review later than usual this week, partly because I just got back from a Girl Guide sleepover and I’d rather be in a coma recovering from a bad case of chronic exasperation, and partly because I’d rather read page after page of funny autocorrects than try to think of things to say about Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters. But I’ve run out of funny autocorrects, so I guess we can talk about the movie now. It’s the Hansel and Gretel legend, but gimmicky.
Adult Hansel and Gretel discover secrets about their past while hunting witches who are stealing children from the forest.
I probably wouldn’t have bothered with this movie were it not for Jeremy Renner. The ‘re-imagining fairy tales’ thing is popular right now but 9 out of 10 attempts are not very good. Unfortunately, despite the Renner factor, Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters is one of the lousy ones. No wonder it took forever to get a release date.
I kind of feel like I’ve seen this movie before (in Van Helsing and Brothers Grimm) but that’s not going to stop me from going to see it. I’m not gonna lie – the fact that it stars Jeremy Renner is probably the biggest (read: only) reason I upgraded it from “ignore” to “go see.” There’s nothing in the trailer that’s particularly enthralling – in fact it seems a little like a slapdash, pseudo-medieval version of Supernatural. I mean, if Hansel is such an expert hunter, how come he throws his shotgun (um… shotgun?) over his shoulder even though the muzzle is pointing right in some poor villager’s face? And where did that witch get a machine gun? And I really REALLY hope that wasn’t Gretel in the lake with Hansel (Surprise! The twist is that they’re not REALLY brother and sister!) [Not really – I made that up].
I was intrigued by this movie when I heard it was a collection of sketch comedy shorts. I love sketch comedy shorts (GOOD sketch comedy shorts, that is) But then the blurb went on to say that it was produced by one of the Farrelly brothers, and I was like: “woah woah, let me stop you right there, movie. You can just turn right around and crawl back into the arsehole you came from.” And then I thought: “No, no, you’re being unfair. It could be good.” Even though the blurb warns that the movie isn’t for the ‘easily offended.’ So I watched the trailer and I have to say, it’s not so much offensive as it is stupid, so I guess they’re partially right: if you’re offended by stupidity, you shouldn’t see this movie.
I have a friend who is a huge Jason Statham fan (Hi, Meghan!) We do not agree on the relative merits of Jason Statham, probably because one person’s bad assity is the next person’s douchebaggery (it’s a fine line). This is a shame (from the studio’s point of view), because an irrational devotion to the lead actor is the only thing that could possibly make me go see a movie about criminals as heroes AND revenge plots conducted by the supposedly dead AND elaborate jewel heists (three of my least favorite movie premises). So enjoy, fans of baldy-headed criminals with their own moral codes! You will have no competition for tickets from me.
I wasn’t a fan of the Sylvester Stallone version of Judge Dredd but I was surprised to find that I really enjoyed this one. The plot was simple – a by-the-book future cop and his psychic rookie partner take on a drug lord while locked in a huge apartment building. The characters are pretty simple too – Karl Urban never so much as exposes the upper half of his face. So why did I like it so much? Because it was clean and uncluttered. And a lot of stuff got shot up. Read my review for more.
Frankenweenie is the full length stop-motion animated version of an old Tim Burton short film where the young Victor Frankenstein brings his beloved dog back to life and causes havoc in the town. It’s pretty good, but the message is a little confused (Is messing with death bad or not? Is it ok to discriminate against reanimated corpses or not?) and there are some subplots that seem kind of shoehorned in because they don’t make sense alongside the rest of it. Read my review for more.
Since Jennifer Lawrence is kind of an it-girl now, there will probably be a lot of people watching this movie just to see her. It’s not that bad. It’s about a girl and her mom who move in next door to a boy (Max Theriot) with a murdered family. But you should know that it’s more of a slow building thriller than a horror movie, so if you’re expecting a madman running around with a bloody knife, you’ll be disappointed. You should also know that climactic plot twist is pretty obvious to anyone with more than a single functioning brain cell.
If you’re really excited to see Zero Dark Thirty, the movie about the CIA officers and Navy SEALs who went after Osama Bin Laden, and you’re too impatient to wait three days for it to come out, then good news! This terrible TV movie is about the same thing! And it comes out today! Sure it stars one of the vampires from Twilight. Sure it’s boring as hell. Sure the performances all sound like they were phoned in via a bad Skype connection. But you’ll see the story three days early. That’s all that matters, right?
Well, another year has gone by, so it’s time to look back and see how the 62 movies I saw in theaters stack up against one another. This year’s best and worst movies were easy to choose but numbers 2 through 5 were hard, especially when I thought about them in retrospect – some big ticket movies were great in the theaters but didn’t hold up when I thought about them later. Others weren’t that great to begin with. In the end there were a lot of pretty good movies and a lot of pretty bad movies, but pretty doesn’t make the cut with me. Here’s what did.