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Trailer Reviews for February 18, 2011

Releasing this weekend: I am Number Four, Unknown, Big Mommas: Like Father, Like Son, the limited release of Biutiful and the Cape Breton Film series is also showing Tales from the Golden Age.

I AM NUMBER FOUR



Okay… so they seem pretty set on the order here. How did that come about? Did they obligingly escape in a straight line? Did their captors make an alphabetical death list? What is going on here, anyway? Obviously it involves teenagers with superpowers who escaped from… somewhere… I’m guessing a secret government superpower lab…. but beyond that the trailer remains stubbornly silent. This could be a good thing (i.e. there are so many brilliant twists and turns that they couldn’t say anything in the trailer without giving something good away) or it could be a bad thing (i.e. it’s so stupid that they feel they need to hide most of it from us until our money is safely in their pockets). I have not read the novel by Pittacus Lore (the ridiculous pen name for Jobie Hughes and James Frey), so I guess I’ll have to go see it and find out. Plus, Timothy Olyphant is in it, so it gets an automatic pass.

UNKNOWN



This movie reminds me a bit of Taken: Liam Neeson goes to continental Europe to kick ass. The whole, “You’re not Dr. Martin Harris, I am!” angle was very intriguing. I expected that the movie would toy with me. Is he really Martin Harris? Is there a conspiracy? Is everyone in on it? Or is he just crazy? Was he given someone else’s memories in a secret experiment? Like The Net or Cypher, I was expecting a mystery/thriller. I wanted to see the movie and find out the truth. And then the trailer continued on and ruined it. Yup, it’s a conspiracy, now on with the action! And now I no longer want to see it. They should have quit while they were ahead.

BIG MOMMAS: LIKE FATHER, LIKE SON



I have a confession to make. I didn’t hate Big Momma’s House. I wasn’t seven when I saw it, and I even laughed a little. While I’m getting things off my chest, I should also admit that I cracked a smile while watching this trailer. I can almost sort of understand why this movie has had two sequels (Big Momma’s House yes, Norbit no). Martin Lawrence doesn’t exactly have a stellar track record, even for a comedy actor (see exhibits College Road Trip and Welcome Home Roscoe Jenkins) but there’s just something about him as a fat lady that he doesn’t have as a short dude. I could be convinced to rent this movie sometime.

BIUTIFUL



This is the film that was nominated for best foreign film in the Golden Globes and the Oscars. Javier Bardem even got a best actor nomination out of it. It won’t come anywhere near my town until it’s on DVD, but it may come to yours, so I’ll put the trailer up anyway. I’ve watched it, and I still have no idea what the movie’s about. The main character’s life is in some sort of turmoil, the voiceover made that clear. But what’s turing the moil I have no clue. Is he involved in organized crime? On the run from the cops? Dealing with a drug addicted girlfriend? Struggling with anger issues? Grieving the death of a relative? Did someone steal his shoes and throw them on a telephone wire? Because it kind of looks like all of the above. And that would be turmoil indeed.

TALES FROM THE GOLDEN AGE



This film is Romanian, in case you were wondering, though it does say that in the subtitles. And speaking of subtitles, wear your reading glasses because the spoken language is going to be (you guessed it) Romanian. The movie is about a period in their history that the government insisted on labeling “The Golden Age” but was mostly crappy for everyone because they didn’t have two sticks to rub together, let alone pennies. It’s a comedy, because comedy is really the only sane way to handle a situation like that. It looks pretty funny, but it’s only playing Thursday at 7pm, and I will still be at work. So go and see it for me and tell me about it or I’ll have to dig up the DVD from somewhere.

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DVD Releases for January 11, 2011

The Social Network

I hate Facebook, but I loved The Social Network, which is a movie about Mark Zuckerberg and how he founded Facebook. This is largely because the movie doesn’t bow down before Zuckerberg’s computer/moneymaking prowess, but paints him as a socially inept jerk, which he apparently is, at least according to the book it was based on. It stars Jesse Eisenberg (you know, the guy who isn’t Michael Cera), Andrew Garfield (you know, the guy who’s going to be Spider-man) and Justin Timberlake. If you haven’t seen it, do. You can read my full review beforehand if you like.

Buy The Social Network on DVD or on Blu-Ray

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Alpha and Omega

Computer animation software must be dirt cheap by now, because every studio and its dog has gotten into making these movies. This one, which is about a pair of wolves getting kidnapped and escaping a wolf preserve, is by Lions Gate (you know, that studio that produces all those horror movies). It’s not exactly the freshest thing that ever hit the shelves – they hate each other, then they fall in love – but your kids will probably like it, and Justin Long (you know, that kid from the Mac commercials) does the voice of the boy wolf.

Buy Alpha and Omega on DVD or on Blu-Ray.


Piranha 3D

I don’t know if you remember the original Piranha, but it was released in 1978 and the piranha attacks sounded like an overstressed coffee machine percolating. It was hilarious. But in a way that it was meant to be funny, not that it was so bad it was funny. It’s something of a cult hit, but I wouldn’t have considered it a candidate for a remake. But here it is. It has some semi-famous people in it and it’s in 3D this time. That’s about all that’s different. You might want to give it a shot if you’ve got a 3D TV.

Buy Piranha 3D on DVD or on Blu-Ray or on 3D Blu-Ray.


Dances With Wolves: 20th Anniversary Edition

Remember that movie Avatar, how it was so new and fresh and original? Except really it wasn’t, because James Cameron ripped the story off of this movie: Dances With Wolves. It’s about a military guy (Kevin Costner) living on the frontier and identifying more with the natives than his own people… sound familiar? This film won 7 Oscars, including the biggies: best picture, best director, and best adapted screenplay. Watch it. Seriously. People need to be less impressed with Avatar already. The new edition comes with a bunch of documentaries and history guides and a fancy box.

Buy Dances With Wolves on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

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The Quiet Earth Review

I was looking forward to this Friday. I was going to see Country Strong, and I was going to like it. And then I was going to write a review of how I liked it. Friday came, and I went online to buy my ticket. AND IT WASN’T PLAYING! What gives!? It’s a big movie. It’s been advertised everywhere. It has big names in it. Apparently the bastards-that-be at Empire Theatres just decided that I don’t get to see it. Instead, I had the choice of Season of the Witch or nothing. I chose nothing, because the last thing I want to do is reward those stupid theater people for screwing me over. So Empire Theatres’ loss was Blockbuster’s gain. The movie I’m reviewing for you this week is The Quiet Earth. Here’s a run down on what it’s about:

A scientist working at an astronomical observatory in New Zealand wakes up to find that he seems to be the only person left on Earth.

What a killer idea for a movie, eh? Are you surprised you’ve never heard of it? Well, that’s because it’s a sci-fi movie from New Zealand made in the 1980s, so that’s three strikes against popular dissemination. I had originally intended to review Flipped, which is what I rented from Blockbuster, but although it was cute, plenty of reviewers have called your attention to it already, and I have way more to say about The Quiet Earth.

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A Letter to Santa

Dear Santa,

I know it’s Christmas Eve, which is sort of late to be sending in request letters, but that’s why I’m emailing this to your Blackberry instead of putting it in the mail. It’s probably better to go paperless anyway seeing as how you’re in danger of being melted off your land if we don’t knock it off with the carbon dioxide spewing factories already.

Anyway, in case you were wondering, for Christmas I would like:

a Blue Toes DVD
a boxed DVD set of Pensacola: Wings of Gold
an Into the Sun DVD (the one with Michael Pare, please. Not the one with Steven Segal)
a Popples DVD boxed set (Region 1)
Tiny Toon Adventures: How I Spent My Summer Vacation on DVD
a new season of Defying Gravity
and a second Firefly movie

Yes, Santa, I do realize that because of a lack of interest by studio heads, none of these things actually exist. But I figured since you’re magic and you have your own workshop, you could hook me up. I’m willing to trade for homeade cookies, but both my brothers are home so you’ll have to hurry up if you want any. These things disappear fast in our house.

Thanks Santa. Don’t forget to put the studded tires on your reindeer, it’s getting pretty snowy in places and you don’t want to fall off a roof and wind up in the hospital before you get to my house.

Your Friend,

Kat

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Trailer Reviews for December 23, 2010

It’s almost Christmas, which means it’s slim pickins if you’re looking to see something new in theaters. The only types of movies that come out the week before Christmas are the ones that are about Christmas or that nobody really expects to do well… or both. Anyway, this year we ended up with Little Fockers, Gulliver’s Travels, and True Grit.

LITTLE FOCKERS



Ugh, another one? I didn’t like Meet the Parents or Meet the Fockers, so I don’t exactly hold high hopes for the third installment in the franchise. Even if I had liked them, the third movie is usually around the time that the horse dies and producers keep kicking it anyway. Apparently they either didn’t get the memo about how you’re supposed to put the film’s funniest jokes in the trailer or those ARE the funniest jokes. Either way, not lookin’ good, Little Fockers. If I remember correctly there were only ever two jokes in the whole franchise: 1) Greg has a stupid name and 2) Jack used to be a spy. If I have any choice at all this week, I’m picking something (anything!) else.

GULLIVER’S TRAVELS



As usual, I spoke too soon. I think I’d like this one even less. There are two rules of adaptation: 1) you owe nothing to the original, and 2) you owe everything to the intention of the original. So either the point of Jonathan Swift’s novel was actually that being really big is funny, and everyone’s been misinterpreting it as a cutting satire on human nature all this time, or screenwriters Joe Stillman and Nicholas Stoller are idiots. I’m betting on the second one. After all, the film does star Jack Black. I predict that this movie will bomb just as bad as Land of the Lost, which was also about big stupid things in another land… and it wasn’t even based on anything more profound than a television show from the 90s.

TRUE GRIT



What an odd movie to put out on Christmas. It’s neither heartwarming nor holiday based. Perhaps it’s meant to give all those misanthropes something to do on Christmas day. This is not a movie I’d be at all interested in either, unfortunately. I’ve got nothing against Westerns per se (I really liked Gunless) but the Cohen brothers are not my favorite directors… or directors I like at all. Actually, I’d probably go out of my way to avoid seeing one of their movies. So I guess I’m going to have a hard time picking something to see this week. Maybe I’ll do something crazy: like stay home and actually enjoy my holiday!

Given the quality of the films releasing this week, I’m going to have to make a special recommendation to those of you whose tradition it is to see films on Christmas Eve. Choose something else. If Tron Legacy, The King’s Speech, Tangled, Voyage of the Dawn Treader, or even Harry Potter are still around in your area, see one of those instead.

Merry Christmas.

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Tron Legacy Review

poster from the Walt Disney Pictures film Tron Legacy

When the original Tron came out in 1982, it was like Star Wars in terms of how many people flipped their lids for it. Back then, computers were glorified calculators that took up whole rooms and could only be afforded by very important universities and used for very important scientific research. A movie about using a computer to go inside a video game just about blew people’s minds. So naturally, Disney waited 28 years to make a sequel. It’s called Tron Legacy, and here’s the storyline:

The delinquent heir to a computer company investigates a page from his missing father and finds him trapped inside the computer world he created several decades ago by a tyrannical computer program.

It’s a cool idea for a movie, but Disney completely missed several boats, which will undoubtedly hurt its bottom line. First, there’s the technology boat. People who have grown up watching Reboot cartoons no longer find stories about the insides of computers new and different, even if Tron did do it first. And second, there’s the 3D technology. A year ago, it was new, and people flocked to Avatar just for the experience. And now it’s old and people don’t care anymore. So Tron Legacy is effectively stripped of its novelty factor and left to stand on the old fallbacks: story, character, setting, and special effects.

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Top 5 Christmas Specials on DVD

christmas tree

‘Tis the season for your favorite shows to be replaced by reruns and old holiday specials. Unfortunately, between buying and wrapping presents, baking cookies, entertaining relatives, frantically cleaning and decorating your house, and pulling your hair out, you probably don’t have time to go through and TiVo your favorite holiday specials, much less sit down in front of the TV at exactly the time the networks have decided to play them – if they decide to play the good ones at all. But fear not – there is a solution. Many of the good old specials have been released on DVDs which can be rented or bought almost anywhere. Sadly, Blue Toes is not among them, but here are my picks for the top five Christmas special DVDs:

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Love and Other Drugs Review

poster from the 20th Century Fox film Love and Other Drugs

The only new movie our theater got this week was Faith, Fraud, and Minimum Wage, and I know I should have been a loyal Canadian and gone to see it, I didn’t. So let’s just move on. Instead, I took the opportunity to go on cheap night (which I love, but can never go to) and catch up on a movie that got bypassed before: Love and Other Drugs, which came out last weekend. You’ve probably seen the trailers and heard the buzz wondered what the big deal over Anne Hathaway was. After all, a movie that goes like this:

A cocky drug rep finds love with his client’s patient while riding the wave of success generated by the release of Viagra.

… is just another romantic comedy, right? And those don’t generate Oscar buzz. If they ever did, it would probably be taken as a sign of the approaching apocalypse. So I figured there must be something they weren’t telling me. Something they were keeping out of the trailers. So I went to see it, and you know what? There was. But it’s still a romantic comedy.

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Tangled Review

poster from the Walt Disney Pictures film Tangled

Disney used to be the King of Animation. Between the 30s and the 90s, they turned out so many iconic movies (Snow White, Fox and the Hound, Little Mermaid, etc.) that no other company could hope to even catch up. And then came the computers. Disney didn’t jump on them fast enough, so they were beaten to the CGI punch by Pixar and later Dreamworks. It was only once they bought Pixar that they started to regain lost ground with movies like Meet the Robinsons and Bolt. Pixar is bogged down with making sequels, so with Tangled, Disney seemed poised to regain their former glory.

In a modern retelling of the Rapunzel fairy tale, a sheltered stolen princess escapes the clutches of her witch captor with the help of a dashing rogue thief.

Fairy tales are always good source material because everyone knows them and you don’t have to pay any royalties. But Disney’s old “Princess” approach of willowy beauties needing rescue from big strong men wouldn’t fly anymore. Modern females are tough and sophisticated and want characters that reflect this. So does Tangled deliver? Oh yes, all that and more!

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Conviction Review

poster from the Fox Searchlight Pictures Film Conviction

I had a hard time figuring out what to see this weekend. Should I see Megamind, even though I’m going to see it for cheap with the Girl Guides in a couple of weeks? Should I see Due Date, which came out this week but doesn’t look particularly promising? Or should I see Conviction, which I’m actually interested in but came out two weeks ago? In the end, I decided on Conviction (obviously) because I am cheap and not into self-torture. And besides, this is the first week that Conviction has appeared in OUR theater, so it counts as new (sort of). For those of you who aren’t familiar with it, here’s what Conviction is about:

When her brother Kenny is convicted of a murder he didn’t commit and sentenced to life in prison, Betty Anne Waters sets about putting herself through law school in order to take on his case and prove his innocence.

Talk about dedication, eh? (Hence the title) This is an interesting enough premise as it is, but add in the fact that it’s a true story and I’m impressed enough to break my self-imposed rule about only reviewing new movies unless I’m on vacation. So was Conviction worth bending my own rules for? You betcha.

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