“From the writers of Taken” they say. “Consisting wholly of people being punched in the throat” is what I think. This time it’s Zoe Saldana on a rampage instead Liam Neeson because her parents were killed instead of her kid being kidnapped (sorry Zoe, but you are way less scary than Liam Neeson). They’re also in Columbia (I think) instead of Europe and she has sex with Michael Vaugh from Alias. Oh, and some guy says “never forget where you came from” with annoying frequency (you think it’s annoying now – wait until the full feature!). Other than that it’s the exact same movie. Trauma. Anger. Rampage. Killing. The end. Been there, seen that, don’t need to spend another $11.50.
DON’T BE AFRAID OF THE DARK
The first thing I thought of when I heard the title for this one was Are You Afraid of the Dark?, that show from YTV where a bunch of kids would tell each other scary stories around a campfire. It was campy and fun and that’s not what this is at all. This is more Guillermo del Torro crazy weirdness. It’s like if all the things you were scared of as a kid are true. Things under the bed. Noises in the dark. I was creeped out until they went and showed the things right there in the trailer. Showing things too much makes them less scary, so I hope that the trailer guy just didn’t get the memo. This movie could be pretty scary if they manage to hide the creatures behind darkness and flashes of movement like in the rest of the scenes.
OUR IDIOT BROTHER
Paul Rudd has always had an endearingly idiotic quality about him. He looks a bit like a perv with scraggly hair and a beard, but I think he’s still charming enough to pull of this movie. He’s a bit like Sally Hawkins’ character in Happy Go Lucky in that he’s blithely happy and seemingly oblivious to the effects he has on other people, but even she wasn’t dumb enough to sell weed to cops. It’s far from the only “unwanted dysfunctional family member screwing up my life” movie out there, but I have a sneaking suspicion it will turn out to be one of the funnier ones. Though I have to admit – they usually seem funnier in the trailers than they are in reality.
Everyone understands, in a general sense, that Wall Street is dirty, and that they’re responsible for the fact that no one (apart from the people who work on Wall Street) seems to have any money anymore. Some people know that Bernie Madoff was the mastermind behind the great ripoff. But hardly anyone knows what went on behind the scenes that brought his scam to light. It’s like Watergate, and this movie is like All the President’s Men… except for the fact that it’s a documentary and not a feature film. I really want to see this movie. It looks tense and intelligent and I can’t wait to suck up the facts it contains like a little sponge. Unfortunately like Waiting for Superman and Inside Job, I won’t get a chance until it comes out on DVD.
I’m not sure whether this is a promotional/propaganda video or a real documentary, but it somehow managed to make it into IMAX theaters despite only being 45 minutes long. With IMAX tickets so much more expensive than regular tickets, there’s no way it would be worth it to go to this movie, even though it’s in 3D, and it looks fascinating and I love helicopters and the Canadian Forces are in it. I’d watch it if it was on TV for sure, and I’d probably pay to get in if they paired it with another shortish documentary. I might even pay the weekday fee to see it in a regular theater. But at that price? At that length? No way.
Strangely, though Conan the Barbarian is probably one of the most simplistic movies out there, it actually makes sense for someone to remake it. See, when the story consists entirely of “a large man kills things with a sword” the movie becomes all about the special effects. Effects technology has come a long way since they filmed the 1982 Arnold Schwarzenegger version, ergo it makes sense to release a remake. I’m not going to SEE it, mind you (I prefer my steamy hunks of man-flesh to have more than one functioning brain cell) but I can see the reasoning behind remaking it. The tentacles and clouds of smoke and explosions all look very nice. You can tell that’s all they care about because the trailer doesn’t even mention a plot at all.
*On a side note, it it really weird to see Agent Seaver from Criminal Minds dressed as a greasy medieval Conan groupie.
Another 1980s remake! Anton Yelchin is a very talented boy, so I gotta trust that he knows what he’s doing on this one, even though the trailer makes this movie look like just another standard Hollywood horror flick, all bright blood and hands slapping the screen out of nowhere. Maybe it’s supposed to be a tip of the hat to the old genre, like Super 8, but I think those kinds of movies are lazy. Don’t go back to an old formula unless you’ve got a new twist to add to it. Who knows, maybe it really is just your average horror movie but Anton just wanted to dress up in his Kyle Reese combat outfit and star in a movie that kids his own age would actually want to watch.
SPY KIDS 4: ALL THE TIME IN THE WORLD
Oh goodie, another Spy Kids movie, this time with time travel, which is such an easy concept to get right, I’m SURE they won’t screw it up (yeah right). It’s been so long since the last one that their original stars (and their fans) are too old, so they merely put in a token cameo and fill the actual kid parts with some cutsey yet curiously blank Disney-faced newcomers. The gimmick this time (and there’s always a gimmick) is that they’re going to be pumping smells out into the theater for a “4D” effect. I hate to break it to you, Spy Kids 4, but all 3D movies are already in 4D because the fourth dimension is TIME. What you’re doing is more like… smellovision. And given how many fart/poop jokes there are in a kids movie, I could do without that kind of immersion.
I really really want to see this movie. Why do we never get the ones I really really want to see? It’s a bit weird that they’d give a British role to Anne Hathaway when there are so many awesome British actresses out there and there are times when she’s not terrific at the accent, but I think I can get over that. They’re just so cute! And that song is really catchy… I just hope the whole “only getting to see them for one day each year” thing doesn’t end up too jarring. Do they see each other more than once a year or no? Perhaps I should read the book, but I don’t want to spoil myself on the film when it eventually does make its way around to me.
The best science fiction isn’t just a flashy series of gadgets and a collection of loopy looking aliens arguing about intergalactic matters so disconnected from our own that we can’t even relate. It’s a way to push deeper into exploring human issues – our own issues. Luke Skywalker struggles with his desire to escape the tentacles of his boring hometown, and the girl in this movie is plagued by guilt over a car accident that she caused. Another Earth asks the question: if you could take a path other than your own, even if you didn’t know what it was… would you? I for one am very curious to see what she finds on that other earth.
Most of the well-known Holocaust movies deal with events that happened in Germany, Poland and Eastern Europe, where the majority of the death camps were located and where the bulk of the worst atrocities were committed. Not everyone realizes that other occupied countries betrayed their Jews, too, even ones – like France – that saw themselves as having an enlightened attitude toward the Jews in their midst. Before you go telling yourself it’s too depressing to watch – actually look at the trailer. This is a mystery, not about uncovering death, but about finding someone who’s alive. Very interesting. I definitely want to see it.
LEGEND OF THE PSYCHOTIC FOREST RANGER
Just when you thought there couldn’t possibly be another 80s-inspired horror flick on the same weekend – there is! This one is a low budget local effort, however, so unless you care to go to their website and demand a showing, there are only a few cities (including Halifax and London, Ontario) that get to partake. What sets this one apart is that it’s a parody, not a remake, which means the cheesy dialogue and bad acting is intentional. In an effort to support the local filmmaking community, that’s what I’ll be reviewing this week. I’m hoping it falls closer to Wet, Hot American Summer than Vampires Suck on the parody spectrum. Showings in Sydney are tonight (Wednesday) at 11:30 and then again at the same time on Saturday. You have to get tickets off their website. It’s not in the regular Empire Theaters listings.
Normally I don’t like romantic comedies where one character tries to steal somebody’s boyfriend or girlfriend, but this movie, which is based on a book by Emily Griffen, I liked. Ginnifer Goodwin plays a girl who always lets her best friend Kate Hudson have everything, even Colin Egglesfield, until one day she decides not to anymore. It’s got great chemistry, and thanks to John Krasinski and a host of secondary characters, its also quite funny. If you’re into the genre, this should be near the top of your “to see” list. Click here for my full review of Something Borrowed.
I feel like I’ve been waiting forever for this movie to come out on DVD. We didn’t get it in theaters. I want to run down to the video store and elbow the old ladies out of the way just to make sure I get a copy NOW. I’ve always liked the story of Jane Eyre, which was originally a novel by Charlotte Bronte about an English governess in the 1840s who falls in love with her mysterious employer. After I saw Michael Fassbender as Magneto in X-Men First Class, I knew he’d be a perfect Mr. Rochester, and of course Mia Wasikowska played innocence very well in Alice in Wonderland. This one is a must see period drama, just be careful to stay out of my way if you’re going to the video store today.
The blurb on the DVD case describes this movie as “brilliant, engaging, and quite possibly the most original vampire movie you’ll ever see,” but I think they must have gotten their quotes mixed up with the ones for Daybreakers, because Priest is actually a lame hodgepodge of ripoffs from other post apocalyptic action-horror movies. The plot (not that there’s much of one) revolves around a nameless rogue priest trying to get his nice back from vampires on the frontier. If you care more about fighting than substance, you might like it, but otherwise steer clear.
I’m a history nerd, so it naturally follows that I enjoy historical dramas. This one, which is directed by Robert Redford, focuses on the investigation into the assassination of Abraham Lincoln – specifically on the part where a woman is charged as a co-conspirator for refusing to give up her son, who was directly involved. Part investigation and part legal drama, The Conspirator is almost like an 1860s version of Law and Order. Very cool. Check it out unless you’re one of those people who needs to be constantly bombarded with cuteness or action.
This trailer starts out all “adaptation of quirky Bridget Jones-esque working woman searching for boyfriend novel” and then progresses into “serious drama about human rights” and finally ends up as a “hopeful, yet inspirational true story.” The full film is probably a mix of these three concepts, but I’m guessing, from the font and colors they use on the book and posters, that it doesn’t get too depressing, which makes it a good prospect. With so many action movies and cartoons clogging up the theaters in the summertime, I think this movie is going to be a breath of fresh air for a lot of people.
30 MINUTES OR LESS
Oh good. Danny McBride AND Michael Cera – I mean, Jesse Eisenberg – my two favorite people (not), neither of whom ever play any other character other than themselves (okay, okay, so Jesse Eisenberg was himself with Aspergers in The Social Network). In a completely not surprising turn of events, Jesse Eisenberg plays a socially inept loser pining away for some girl and… then gets involuntarily turned into a bank-robbing suicide bomber? Okay, that’s a new one. Not new enough for me to spend $11.50 to see it in a theater, but at least it’s not another touching coming of age comedy-drama.
FINAL DESTINATION 5
Final Destination is another horror series that just keeps churning out remakes (sorry, sequels – the number on the end is different) regardless of quality or the length of time that has passed since the last one. There must be three or four in varying stages of production at any given time, like an assembly line of gory mediocrity. To be fair, though, the Final Destination movies have never been very gory. Apart from the first one, they weren’t even very scary, either. But this one is in 3D, so that’s something, I guess. They’re really stretching it trying to do “unique” deaths this time. I mean: laser surgery? Acupuncture? Gymnastics on a thumb tack? Seriously? What makes it even more ridiculous is that the lead guy from this one and the last one even look like each other, like the cookie cutter is so detailed they can’t even deviate from the last actor’s hair and eye color.
GLEE : THE 3D CONCERT MOVIE
Glee is one of those shows that gained popularity with the rapidity and addictiveness of cocaine, but I’ve never been able to get into it. It’s just too damn happy. A little bit of happy is good, but too much happy makes me want to either throw up or punch somebody. The only thing I find even remotely appealing about it is Jane Lynch as the hateful teacher. Nevertheless, there is now a movie, which seems to be a fake documentary about a fake concert that the fake Glee club from a fake school put on. I guess they’re going for a High School Musical crossed with The Office sort of feel? Oh well, I suspect they could play the TV show soundtrack for two hours and leave the screen blank and still make money.
THE DEVIL’S DOUBLE
Dominic Cooper is about as Iraqi as Jake Gyllenhaal was Persian, but the story here is an interesting one – this guy was an involuntary bullet catcher for a total bastard. What’s weird is that they seem to be going for an irreverent, almost Pulp Fiction-y vibe that you don’t usually see in biopics, especially not war biopics involving torture and/or murder. From what I can see of the trailer, it looks like Dominic Cooper does a pretty good job of playing off of himself (he’s both Uday and Latif) but he does slip up with his accent. There’s too much of a crime family feel to it for me to get excited about seeing it, but I’ll probably rent it someday.
We’ve officially been around long enough that you can expect most 3D movies to be crappy, and this one definitely falls into that category. A lame Disney effort based on a book, it follows a young boy as he learns a thinly veiled lesson about appreciating his mother by chasing her across the solar system after she gets kidnapped by aliens. It uses that weird motion capture technology so the characters look rather creepy in addition to being annoying. If your kids are in desperate need of a cartoon to watch, pick something else. Wall E. Meet the Robinsons. Despicable Me. Almost everything is better.
I’m one of those people who thought Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz were hilarious, so keep that in mind when I tell you to rent Paul. It’s written by the same duo (Simon Pegg and Nick Frost) and is therefore in the same raunchy yet intelligent vein as their previous efforts. It’s still about two losers (quelle surprise) but this time they’re sci-fi nerds and they’re on a road trip to Area 51 where they accidentally pick up an alien. Don’t worry too much about the fact that Seth Rogan gets third billing – he’s only the voice of the alien so he’s tolerable (for once).
I know comedy is subjective, but take it from me that there is only the smallest subset of people who actually think this movie is funny. If your goal for the evening is to listen to Danny McBride tell dick jokes for an hour and forty minutes, congratulations! You won’t hate this movie. Everyone else: you totally will. Do not be fooled by the presence of James Franco and Natalie Portman. They were obviously insane when they agreed to do this film. This movie is the final damning evidence that Danny McBride should never be allowed to write, act in a lead role, improvise, or breathe.
With the recent resurgence of superhero movies, naturally there has been a corresponding increase in superhero parodies and satires. Kick Ass, Dr. Horrible’s Sing Along Blog, Megamind (we’re not going to mention Superhero Movie) and now there’s Super, which is on the cheaper, quirkier end of the spectrum. It features Rainn Wilson and Ellen Page as “real life” superheroes fighting crime to win back Liv Tyler. It uses cartoon POW type inserts to avoid spending money filming action, but if you’re a fan of the Juno style comedy, you’ll like it.
I can’t decide if this looks awesome or awful. On the one hand, you’ve got Daniel Craig and Harrison Ford and some ass kicking and a cool-ass alien wristwatch that shoots lasers. On the other hand, you’ve got cowboys. And these cowboys are fighting aliens. From horses. The horses are not robotic. They’re not holographic. They’re real horses really fighting spaceships. And it is ridiculous. They would last about two seconds. Cowboys are kind of silly anyway, to me at least. They exist only in clichés: mustachioed westerns and swoony romance novels. I dunno, maybe it’s all an illusion or something and that will make it make sense, because I really can’t see why aliens would bother with cowboys, unless they’re from Horseonia and they’re trying to free their brethren.
CRAZY STUPID LOVE
The plotline of this film is similar to The Change Up, where there’s a family man with a failing marriage and a younger ladies man type just falling in love, except nobody has to switch bodies to learn their lesson, so it’s probably a little less ridiculous. If you’re having trouble telling them apart, remember that this one is Ryan GOSLING and the other one is Ryan REYNOLDS. It looks like actual effort went into the making of this movie, as opposed to most romantic comedies, where I’m convinced the director just records the actors calling their lines over the phone and then films the production assistants moving little cardboard cutouts of them around. I’d see it, especially since it’s got Emma Stone in it. I love her: she’s so funny!
This movie is coming about twenty five years too late for me to get excited about, seeing as how I stopped liking the Smurfs around age two. No kids now give a crap about the Smurfs, so I guess they’re hoping to bank on nostalgia (prediction: it won’t work). I don’t even know where to start describing what’s wrong with this movie. Maybe with the fact that they’re constantly using “smurf” as a curse word, which only came about because of the old smurfs, and is only mildly amusing the first time, then rapidly becomes annoying? Just because they have Neil Patrick Harris pointing that out doesn’t make it okay. And just out of curiosity, how DID they get Neil Patrick Harris? Blackmail?
THE SNOW FLOWER AND THE SECRET FAN
Ah, history. It makes such a great backdrop. Take a movie like this. It’s a movie about friendship. There are lots of movies about friendship, especially independent movies, because friendship is cheaper to show on film than, say, action. So how do you set your friendship story apart from the crowd? You set it in old China. Suddenly your story is exotic. If this movie was about two modern Canadian women, I probably wouldn’t even give it a second glance. But because I want to learn more about China, I’d probably watch it. I’m not going to hold my breath, though, the odds are slim that it will ever come to my theater.
THE DRUMMOND WILL
Okay, why is this movie in black and white? It looks pretty funny in a Death at a Funeral sort of way (the British one, not the godawful American remake) but filmed in black and white it looks like its supposed to be gritty and serious but the actors are hamming it up for some strange reason. Very strange and unpleasant. I’d guess that they did it to save money, but I’ve heard from photographers that black and white film is actually more expensive than color these days, so I really don’t understand why they did it. I guess they’re trying to be arty.
For a long time, I’ve always thought of Captain America as the lamest of the Marvel superheroes. With his two main activities being spouting annoyingly patriotic jargon and prancing around in a helmet with little wings on it, I would have thought it would be very difficult to make a serious movie about Captain America. But Marvel is gearing up for an Avengers movie and Captain America is an Avenger, so they had to go for it. And I thought: what the hell. Why not? I liked Iron Man and Thor. Chances are this one will be good too. The story sounded promising, at least:
An undersized American with a host of medical problems gets his shot at contributing to World War II when he is tapped for a supersoldier program.
The trailer didn’t let on much more than that, but there had to be more. I was a little worried that the more would be stupid, but now that I’ve seen it, I can tell you emphatically that it is not. In fact, Captain America is nearly flawless in every way, and that’s rare, especially for a superhero movie.
I have to say: I’m excited for this movie. I’ve got my ticket already. One of the things that really sold me on it was the World War II angle. I don’t know why, but things set during World War II always seem so much more important. Perhaps because it was the last time we really had to fight for anything – and there was a big chance we could lose. I don’t know how they got Chris Evans to look so puny (I guess they can do anything with computers these days) but the whole “weak guy becomes strong” idea is intriguing. Also, I’m pretty sure there was a Stark on the project. Tony’s daddy or granddaddy, perhaps? I just hope the movie has a plot after the transformation other than “fight things.”
FRIENDS WITH BENEFITS
Romantic comedies appeal to people primarily based on the lead actors and their chemistry together rather than the actual plot of the film. This work to the advantage of Friends With Benefits, because it has the exact same plot as No Strings Attached, which came out earlier in the year. Whether you prefer one film or the other depends on whether you’re a fan of Justin Timberlake and Mila Kunis or of Ashton Kutcher and Natalie Portman. Either way both of them feature one half of the main couple from That 70s Show. Coincidence? Stranger things have happened, I guess. Having said all that, the movie at least looks half decently funny. I’ll rent it when it comes out on DVD, or maybe go on Tuesday cheap night.
It’s only been a few months since my review of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1, but here I am again reviewing Harry Potter for the last time. With Deathly Hallows Part 2, J.K. Rowling and the film crew she keeps on puppet strings wrap up the final volume of her epic wizardry series. The first Deathly Hallows movie focused on the three young wizards wandering around the country looking for Horcruxes, or objects containing pieces of Voldemort’s soul. This second film focuses almost entirely on the final battle.
During their mission to find and destroy Voldemort’s remaining Horcruxes, Harry, Ron and Hermione find themselves back at Hogwarts helping the Order of the Phoenix lead the students in a final showdown with the Death Eaters.
I’m going to go ahead and review Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2, even though I know it’s useless. At this point, nothing is going to stop J.K. Rowling from amassing enough money to buy the United Kingdom and turn it into a Harry Potter theme park. The sad part is that I would totally visit the new Potter-UK, because I think the franchise, including this movie, is awesome.
At last, the GOOD half of Harry Potter and the Longest Title in the Universe! While Part 1 consisted mostly of puttering around in the forest and probably could have been condensed into a ten minute prologue for this movie, Part 2 promises almost nonstop action. I’m excited, but I’m wary too. Action that is truly nonstop ends up being exhausting and actually becomes boring after you get desensitized to it (two hours and ten minutes is more than enough time to get desensitized). Some of my favorite bits are the quiet lulls between battles, and I hope they haven’t shaved them off to save time. Therefore I’m reserving judgment until after I’ve seen it, which will happen tonight at midnight.
No, I am not dressing up.
WINNIE THE POOH
If you want to see a new movie this week, it looks like your only options are children’s movies (not that I would encourage children to see Deathly Hallows, as its very violent). Disney’s aim with this film seems to be to reboot the Winnie the Pooh franchise, but not as a more modern, 3D animated extravaganza like every other reboot (think Transformers, Smurfs, and so on) but in a classical, return-to-the-roots sort of way. I’d rather they released new and different stories, but if it has to be a remake I’m glad it’s gone this way. I’ll likely never see it, though. I was never much of a Pooh fan as a kid. Maybe it was the name I just couldn’t seem to get past.