This movie is awesome. Seriously. It’s the best movie I’ve seen all year – and the year’s almost over. It’s a prequel to the Alien movies, where some scientists and an android check out some strange ruins on a planet far away, touch some things that should be left alone, and find (surprise!) things that want to kill them. There’s a ton of back story on how humans got to Earth, why we exist, and where aliens come from, plus the acting, plot, and effects are amazing. Watch it. Right now. For more, you can read my full review.
I love musicals, even though I don’t watch all that many of them. And Rock of Ages is a fun one. The songs and the outfits will all make you nostalgic for the 80s and you’ll discover (to your great surprise, probably) that Tom Cruise sounds just like Bon Jovi when he sings. The plot is pretty standard – two attractive young people move to L.A. looking for their big break, fall in love, yadda yadda. But it’s really funny, especially superstar rocker Stacee Jaxx, club owner Alec Baldwin and his pal Russell Brand. Watch it. And/or read my full review for more details.
This movie is about a serial killer in the mid 1800s who uses the works of Edgar Allan Poe as his inspiration, forcing the investigating detective to team up with the author (sort of like a turn of the century version of Castle). This sounds like a great idea in theory, but I don’t know what they were smoking when they cast John Cusack as Poe. His face is like the human version of a bloodhound and he’s got a squeaky voice, which totally ruins the horror atmosphere. The planned Ewan McGregor/Jeremy Renner pairing would have worked so much better. You can skip this one.
Season 7 carries on from the “we hugged once and now we’re pregnant” fiasco of Season 6, and I have to say I think the show has gone downhill since Booth and Brennan stopped beating around the bush and just got together already. They still try to replicate the “intuitive FBI agent paired with practical forensic anthropologist” banter of previous years but it just doesn’t work as well. On the plus side, the cases are still really cool and I love all of Brennan’s rotating lab assistants, so it’s still worth watching… for now.
I’m in the minority here (I may even get yelled at for saying this), but I think The Avengers is overrated. Sure you get to see snarky Iron Man, Captain America, Hulk, and Thor buddy up with two assassins and kick alien ass on a flying aircraft carrier, but the the alien invasion plot has been done to death recently, they spend an awful lot of time fighting amongst themselves, and the supervillain Loki is badly underused. I prefer the individual films, but that’s just me. You should watch it anyway. Read more about it here.
Don’t get this confused with The Dark Knight Rises. That one stars Christian Bale. This one is a cartoon. However, that doesn’t mean you should run out and buy if for your six year old who loves Batman. Even though it looks like the 90s Batman animated series you remember, it’s actually based on a Frank Miller comic, which mean’s it’s loaded with brutal violence. The plot follows 50 year old Batman as he returns to fight crime after a ten year absence, so it’s kind of a little bit like Dark Knight Rises, but not really. Check it out if you’re over 12.
Exercising what they no doubt see as great restraint, the people at Sony waited a whole ten minutes after the last Resident Evil movie (the live action Retribution) before putting out this one. It’s animated and stars floppy haired Leon Kennedy, who goes to Eastern Europe to investigatebioweapons/kill zombies. You may notice this is the same plot as most of the Resident Evil games and that the animation is the same weirdly jerky CGI as the cut scenes, so I can only conclude that this was supposed to be a game but they forgot to put in the game part. Sadly it’s still better than Retribution.
If you regularly watch cliched haunted house movies like Amityville, The Haunting, and Paranormal Activity and wish they were drawn out until they were twelve hours long, this is the DVD set for you. It follows a family (Dylan McDermott, Connie Britton, and Taissa Farmiga) who move into a rickety old mansion which (SUPRISE!) turns out to be haunted. It’s fairly highly rated on IMDB and has won a Golden Globe, so it’s not terribly done – it’s mostly the characters who carry it – it’s just an overdone story.
As I’ve probably mentioned before (ad nauseum), I’m not a fan of Sylvester Stallone’s. I do remember watching the old Judge Dredd, but I don’t remember caring enough find out that it was based on a comic book. Now that comic book movies are big moneymakers, they’ve dreddged (get it? Dreddged??) up the franchise and given it the modern FX treatment. The story is different:
Two judges, a veteran and a rookie, are trapped inside an apartment complex by a gang leader while trying to make a drug bust.
The 90s one was about Judge Dredd getting framed for murder, I think. Both make sense in terms of the world, which is a humungous lawless post apocalyptic city policed by judges who are actually more like executioners than anything else. It sounds like a token smashy smashy, but I really liked it.
Sacha Baron Cohen is known for making movies that polarize audiences – either you love it or you hate it. This one, which is about an imaginary Middle Eastern dictator who goes to New York prevent the UN from introducing democracy to his country, is probably the most outrageous. It is likely to piss you off if you are: Middle Eastern, involved in politics, offended by racism, made uncomfortable by crude humor, opposed to movies that set a bad example for youth, or over thirty. So will you like it? Consult the previous list.
Every year Disney makes a cute animal movie for Earth Day. This year’s was Chimpanzee. While chimps aren’t as cute as baby cheetahs or even elephants, the story of little Oscar the chimp is adorable. His mom is killed in attack by a rival clan and Oscar has trouble being accepted after that until a cranky old alpha male adopts him. Though it’s a documentary, don’t expect much in the way of education on chimps – Tim Allen does the narration in a Meerkat Manor sort of way, making jokes and giving the chimps human motivations. African Cats is better.
This movie, which is set in Iran, follows a married couple who are arguing over whether or not to emigrate. She wants to leave and give their daughter a chance at a better future, he wants to stay because he feels obligated to look after his father, who has Alzheimers. Though the movie deals with a lot of issues that are specific to Iran, the central question of whether or not to stay together when you’ve got such different goals is something a lot of people can relate to. If you’re looking for something different to watch, check out A Separation. It won the best foreign language film at the Oscars.
I almost fell over when I saw this movie in the list – it seems like I’ve been waiting forever for it to come out on DVD. It’s a special movie from the 90s cartoon show Tiny Toon Adventures that follows the characters during the summer. Buster and Babs get courted and almost eaten by alligators after getting swept downriver, Hampton and Plucky pick up a hitchiking serial killer on their way to Happy World Land, and Fifi dates a movie star who’s in love with himself. Really clever, really funny, really worth watching, even if you’re not nostalgic for 90s TV like I am.
I complain a lot about how there aren’t many new ideas getting made into movies, so I can’t argue with this one: an infertile couple want a kid so badly that one grows out of their garden. It’s a nutbar idea, of course, but most of the best ones are. At least, I hope The Odd Life of Timothy Green could be one of the best ones. It’s got that same “weird yet moving child” sort of feel you got with Pay it Forward, but hopefully without the sad ending. They don’t reveal much of the plot in either of the trailers apart from the fact that he comes from the garden, which could be a good sign or a bad one. But Jennifer Garner and Joel Edgerton agreed to be in it, so I’m going to take it as a good one.
THE EXPENDABLES 2
Oh God, not another one. I suppose I should have expected this – washed up action stars are always looking for ways to be not washed up anymore – but after the first one was so not worth my time I had hoped to avoid a sequel. But I can’t, and if possible, this movie looks even worst than the first one. They’ve not only expanded Schwarzenegger’s cameo into a full-on role, they’ve also taken on Chuck Norris and Jean Claude Van Damme, the kings of wooden acting land. And WTF? What is Liam Hemsworth doing here? Washing up before he’s washed out? All they need is Steven Segal, Clint Eastwood, and Christian Slater to jump on the bandwagon and we’ll have the whole set of bad 90s action movie trading cards. You would think that with a cast so ponderously large the film would collapse under its own weight, but luckily they don’t need any plot development beyond “go here” and “blow that up.”
Oh no! I want to see this movie too! Which do I choose? The Odd Life of Timothy Green or Paranorman? (or The Expendables 2 for its sheer hilarious terribleness?) I hate these weeks. Coraline was a great movie and I love the stop motion. I’m not sure the whole being scared/change who you are line really fits in with the lighthearted tone of the rest of the trailer and the “bullied loser saves the town” plot has been done to death, but those zombies are really hilarious looking and I love the hockey mask joke. If I don’t see this next week, I’ll probably go to it the week after.
Wait wait wait… their names are Sticks and Sparkle? Did their mothers think they were adopting dogs? Who names their kids that? I might believe it if Whitney Houston was really their mom (famous people always give their kids crazy names) but she’s only acting… or trying to, anyway. Mostly it just seems like a promotion to reignite interest in Whitney Houston’s music (dead people still sell records). Plot wise it’s pretty much the same as Joyful Noise except set in night clubs instead of churches and with Whitney Houston taking over the role of singer mom who doesn’t want her pretty daughter to be a singer lest she be knocked up and have her life ruined. I liked Joyful Noise, but this one just seems too phoned in. I’m going to skip it.
I was really excited for Total Recall – excited enough to induce me to review it for this blog even though I’m on vacation. I don’t remember a lot about the first Total Recall, but what I do remember is that Arnold Schwarzenegger is not a good actor. So although I’m generally against remakes because they mean new stories aren’t getting made, I’m in favor of this one because there was a lot of room for improvement. The basic story was the same, taken from a Philip K. Dick short story called “We Can Remember It For You Wholesale.”
An ordinary guy visits a company that promises to implant fun spy memories only to have his repressed memories of being a real spy rise to the surface, making him a police target.
Where the new Total Recall differs from the old Total Recall is in the details, and the details can make all the difference. For me, they turned a “meh” movie into a great one.
Have you ever watched The Breakfast Club and wished there were more murders? If you have, then Detention is the movie for you. It’s a horror comedy starring Josh Hutcherson in a neon 90s getup. He and his smart talking girl friend are part of a group of “quirky” teens that are stalked by a serial killer while they’re stuck in detention. It’s dripping with irony (the annoyingly self-conscious indie teen irony, not the smart kind) but it’s better than a horror movie that tries to play the same things seriously.
Le Havre is a French film about an old shoe shiner who finds an African refugee boy in a shipping container that was on its way to London and hides him from the police while he tries to track down the kid’s family. It’s one of those heartwarming indie stories that does well in the festival circuit but is also non-boring enough for regular people to watch because the characters have snappy, clever dialogue (not annoying clever, actual clever). If you don’t mind reading the subtitles (I did mention it was in French) then you should check it out.
This is a History Channel movie about the most famous family feud in America, which occurred in Kentucky and West Virginia after the Civil War and almost caused ANOTHER civil war. It starts out with a friendship but the rest of the 290 minutes (it’s a mini-series) is taken up by eye for an eye hatred and violence, so if you weren’t tired of the whole thing going into it you sure will be afterward. It does have some pretty big names in it though – Bill Paxton, Kevin Costner, Jena Malone, and that girl who plays Crystal on True Blood so if you’re a fan you’ll probably want to check it out.
All these high school movies act like they’re the first movies in the world to discover boyfriends and breakups and be misunderstood by their parents. So basically, teen movies are like teens, but that doesn’t make them any less repetitive to watch. Miley Cyrus and her weird teeth break up with their d-bag boyfriend, fall for a girly musician, post it all on the internet, and then act surprised (or try to – they’re not good at it) when their parents find out. Ho hum, so dumb. Not to mention it’ll be outdated in 2.5 seconds because it’s loaded with technology and pop culture. Avoid.
It feels like I only saw this movie yesterday, but here it is, out on DVD already. It’s the fourth (or possibly millionth) entry in the raunchy American Pie series and it makes all of us who were in high school for the original feel like old geezers because the characters are back in town for their ten year high school reunion. If you liked the other films you’ll like this one too, but if you haven’t watched them (or haven’t watched them recently) the multitude of callbacks will be as lost on you as they were on me (I think I missed some of the middle films).
Ayrton Senna was a champion Formula 1 driver who was killed in a horrific crash when he was only in his 30s. This was ages ago, so I don’t know why it took so long to come out with a documentary about his life – especially since most of it was filmed before he was killed in 1994. Having said that: if you’ve ever wondered what possesses people to to drive at high speeds in open topped carbon fiber bullets, then this documentary is your best chance of getting answers. It’s a bit skewed (Senna is widely revered in Brazil) but fascinating nonetheless.
If you’ve been wondering what Christian Bale is doing in between Batman movies, this is it (well, come of it anyway). He stars in this Chinese movie about a guy who poses as a priest in order to protect Chinese women from Japanese invaders in 1937 (yes, this is BEFORE World War II). This was during a period known as ‘The Rape of Nanjing’ so you can guess what he’s protecting all these women from. Being a film about rape and war, it’s pretty graphic, but it had huge box office returns in China and nominated for a Golden Globe and it’s the kind of film you really should see. So check it out.
I’m sorry, I know there are people out there who fall all over each other to praise Robert DeNiro, but I never, ever believe him in anything, mostly because he always has that same note of falseness in his voice. It fits in well enough in comedies but in a serious drama like this, he just ruins it for me. It’s supposed to be an adaptation of a memoir about a son (Paul Dano) who wants to be a writer reconnecting (through a homeless shelter) with his absent father, who also considers himself a writer. But all I see if Robert DeNiro being Robert DeNiro. Maybe you’ll see it differently.
Dear Spiderman (sorry The Amazing Spider-Man),
Movies do not come out on Monday. Movies come out on Friday – or, occasionally, at midnight on Thursday. I know some of them have been sneaking out on Wednesdays, but these are badly behaved movies and you are the worst of the lot. Please stick to the rules or I will have to get angry. Having said all that, I’m going to see you because even though the cameras that filmed the last Spider-Man movie are barely cool yet, Andrew Garfield is still a better Peter Parker than Tobey Maguire. Lawn furniture would be better at playing Peter Parker than Tobey Macguire, though, so I’m reserving judgment on the rest until Sunday.
Ooh, drugs and violence among criminals, two of my least favorite subjects for movies! I like Taylor Kitsch, but lately he’s been picking a lot of movies that I don’t like, so I don’t think he’ll be making it onto my Awesome List anytime soon. With all the drug running and the shooting and the rocket launchers and the dangling timeclock of the kidnapped girl, this seems more like a first person shooter game than a movie. I have no desire to see it.
KATY PERRY: PART OF ME
I am not a teenaged girl or a gay man. I don’t even really like pop music. Mostly I switch stations when boppy stuff like Katy Perry comes on. And yet…. I am weirdly interested in seeing this movie. Maybe it’s that Katy Perry seems like a nice person. Maybe it’s that every concert scene looks like a bad acid trip. Or maybe it’s that I want to see where they’re going with the “100% Christian” atmosphere comment – did it hold her back or (*gag*) inspire her? Oh, I won’t see it in theaters of course, especially not in 3D. Or probably rent it… or keep it on if it’s on TV… okay so I don’t want to see it that badly, but I didn’t hate the trailer. That’s something, right?
SAFETY NOT GUARANTEED
Hey, it’s that dorky guy from the movie I forgot about. What’s up, dorky guy? Honestly, I think I will forget this movie exists too. The time travel is probably a metaphor for something and even if it’s not, it’s obvious from the trailer that they don’t actually do it (if they do it at all) until the end of the movie, probably to save money or something. It’s just not reaching out to grab me. Annnnd I’ve already forgotten about it. What movie??
Hmm, I was not aware that lacrosse was a Native American sport. In fact, I wasn’t aware anyone actually played it except for that one girly dude from American Pie. I was also not aware that Brandon Routh was (at least partly) Native American. You learn something new every day. So let me get the plot of this film straight – Brandon Routh is a sleezy businessman who wants to exploit his heritage for money and the only way they’ll agree to it is if he coaches the lacrosse team? It’s like Hard Ball but missing the point. And they’re going to do it to the music of Chumbawamba, whom no one has heard from since like 1995. Sounds promising. Actually, it sounds just like every other sports movie ever made.
Clash of the Titans was two hours of men in skirts yelling and flinging themselves at monsters, but the sequel, thankfully, has a bit more depth. Perseus (Sam Worthington) has a son now and only reluctantly returns to the monster killing business when his dad Zeus (Liam Neeson) gets kidnapped by his evil uncle Hades (Ralph Fiennes) as a ploy to release a giant lava monster. It’s pretty cool – I liked it a lot better than the first one – and the special effects were awesome. Check it out or read the full review.
Mirror Mirror is the campy version of Snow White that came out earlier this summer – the one that features Julia Roberts as the evil queen trying to poach a young prince played by Armie Hammer out of her stepdaughter Lily Collins’ hands. There are also a magical dragon and some marauding little people on stilts who steal the pants off anyone that wanders into the woods. It’s goofy, a little lame, and nobody dies, so it’s perfect for younger kids and anyone who’s not looking to get into anything at all serious. Check out the full review here.
If you remember 21 Jump Street from the 80s, you should know that this is nothing like that. The other has a serious “drugs are bad” message, this one is a vehicle for sex jokes, goofing off, and making fun of high school movies. Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill play two (not so) young looking police officers who end up in the opposite roles they played in high school when they return to school as part of an undercover drug sting. It’s pretty funny, so check it out, but not if you’ve got kids with you. Most of the jokes are HIGHLY inappropriate. Read the full review here.
I went to this movie with a friend. I loved it, she hated it, so it could go either way for you. The movie is black and white and almost entirely silent, which means you’ve gotta be cool with reading title cards and people’s faces if you want to know what’s going on. The story is that a famous silent movie actor (Jean Dujardin) is made obsolete by his protegee/girlfriend (Berenice Bejo) when Hollywood moves from silent pictures to “talkies.” It’s really sweet and also really different, so do check it out, even if you’re not a film snob.