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DVDs for October 9, 2012

Prometheus

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.

Buy Prometheus on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

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Rock of Ages

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.

Buy Rock of Ages on DVD or on Blu-Ray.
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The Raven

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.

Buy The Raven on DVD or on Blu-Ray.


Bones Season 7

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.

Buy Bones Season 7 on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

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Trailer Reviews for October 5, 2012

TAKEN 2



Just in case you thought there weren’t enough movies that were exactly the same as Taken, here’s Taken 2, which is exactly the same as Taken 1. If you think it’s slightly ridiculous that the same person would have family members kidnapped multiple times, clearly you have never worked in a movie studio, because if there’s one thing studio mavens know, it’s that if something ain’t broke, you don’t fix it. We paid to see Taken, ergo we’ll pay to see it again in a different city with less Liam and more annoying, too-young-for-her-age daughter (hooray). Though it may seem sophisticated that Liam and his fist of death have to face up to the consequences of their actions in the last film (slaughtering a bunch of dudes) the fact that he goes up against the same guys as before means that they (and the writers) are too dumb to take the hint that they cannot win against him. One Taken was enough for me.

FRANKENWEENIE



Like so many of Tim Burton’s animated movies, Frankenweenie looks vaguely disturbing despite being aimed at children. It’s just something about the way the characters look and move – the dark shadows under their dead staring eyes, the pinched flesh, the rotten wood look of Sparky’s tail… it’s so different from other Halloween-ish movies, like Hotel Transylvania, which came out this week, or the ever popular Hocus Pocus. I like to be creeped out by movies – I go to horror movies looking for that unsettled feeling – so I’ll definitely be checking Frankenweenie out. It also helps that it looks really funny – the kitty cracks me up and so does young Igor – Igor is one of my favorite comedic characters ever.

THE PERKS OF BEING A WALLFLOWER



This movie is based on one of those skinny emo boy novels. My friend has been trying to get me to read it forever, but the whiny adolescent “waaaa I’m so different why doesn’t anyone appreciate that I am u-neek” thing has never really appealed to me, at least not on it’s own. To some extent all teen characters are like that, but at least some of them, like Katniss Everdeen or Harry Potter, at least DO stuff while they’re whining. The Perks of Being a Wallflower just looks like another one of those “nothing” coming of age plots where the character just goes to school, gets bullied, and ends up with a girlfriend, but the “passive aggressive” joke made me laugh, so I might check it out someday on DVD when I get bored.

BUTTER



Oh yes, I remember seeing this trailer ages ago and thinking it was funny. Apparently it dropped off the edge of the Earth for a while as it toured all the festivals and is finally getting released now. Carving butter is weird. Not so weird that I doubt anyone out there actually does it, but I do wonder how they keep their sculptures from turning into greasy melted puddles under all those lights. Do they mix the butter with pasticine or something? Anyway, that’s not the point. The point is that this movie looks funny. It cracks me up to see Jennifer Garner acting like a butter contest is the presidential election, and I love that “I get pregnant like once a month” line. It reminds me of Idiocracy. I will see this movie, but probably not until I get around to subscribing to Netflix.

SAMSARA



This movie describes itself as a “nonverbal, guided meditation” (read: load of New Age bullsh**), so if you’re looking to put yourself to sleep and you’ve got no one to flash back issues of National Geographic at you while you listen to Yanni on your iPod, watch this film. You might want to wait until it comes to DVD, though. I don’t think the theater will look kindly on you spending the night in your seat.

Also, if you’re in Sydney on Thursday, October 4 at 7pm you can catch the Cape Breton Film Series showing of Compliance, a disturbing drama about a fast food manager who violates an employee on the orders of someone pretending to be a police officer. You can see the trailer review here.

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DVDs for October 2, 2012

Dark Shadows

Based on a 1960s TV horror soap, Dark Shadows stars Johnny Depp as a vampire who breaks out of his coffin in order to help his eccentric descendants defeat the evil witch who is squeezing their canning company out of business. It’s a vampire story, but it’s nothing like the broody, sappy Twilight, except for one irritating teenage family member. It’s hilarious and dark, much like The Addams Family, and well worth watching, especially the part where a 200 year old vampire tries to figure out TV. Check out my full review for more.

Buy Dark Shadows on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

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People Like Us

If you missed this one in theaters (and you probably did, because it didn’t get round to all of them), you should check it out on DVD. It’s a family drama (about families, not necessarily for families) about a guy (Chris Pine) who discovers he has a sister and a troubled nephew (Elizabeth Banks and some boy) he never knew about while handling his dead father’s estate. He doesn’t tell them who is is because he’s looking for money from his father’s death, but he discovers that what he really wants/needs is a close family. It’s really sweet.

Buy People Like Us on DVD or on Blu-Ray.
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Red Lights

At first glance, this movie looks like something that would appeal to fans of The X-Files. It’s about a pair of paranormal debunkers (Cillian Murphy and Signourney Weaver) who decide to go after a renowned psychic (Robert DeNiro), which turns out to be more dangerous than they realize, given that he may or may not really have psychic powers that allow him to disappear his doubters. But the movie relies on you to know a little too much about paranormal debunking and tries to jam a crazy twist in where it doesn’t really fit. I wouldn’t bother with it.

Buy Red Lights on DVD or on Blu-Ray.
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The Princess Bride

If you’ve never seen this movie, buy it right now, because it’s amazing. It’s the story of Buttercup, a princess engaged to a jerk prince who is kidnapped and falls in love with a farm boy turned pirate. It’s such an iconic tale that your friends have probably quoted it at you without you realizing (e.g. “as you wish,” “inconceivable!” “Hello, my name is Inigo Montoya, you kill my father, prepare to die.”) This is the 25th anniversary edition, so it’s loaded with special features, including featurettes on the famous swordfight scene, the Dread Pirate Roberts, and Billy Crystal’s make-up.

Buy Princess Bride 25th Anniversary Edition on Blu-Ray.
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Looper Review

poster from the Endgame Entertainment film Looper

It was hard to decide what to see this week. I wasn’t keen on Looper, since it was a time travel movie and it would probably stop making sense at some point. But I was hearing great things about it and not so great things about my other two choices: Hotel Transylvania and Won’t Back Down. So in the end, I did see Looper. The trailer didn’t give me much of the story, which is actually quite a lot like The Terminator, with the part of Skynet played by mobsters.

To save his own life, an hit man must track down and kill his future self, who has come back in time to kill a child who will grow up to be a powerful mobster.

I wasn’t expecting much from Looper, and not just because it’s a time travel movie. It also stars Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Bruce Willis (two of my not favorites) and is set in a world where mobsters control time travel, yet use it only to dispose of bodies. But it actually turned out to be pretty cool. It even made a bit of sense.

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Trailer Reviews for September 28, 2012

LOOPER



Hmm. Well, I recognize that I probably should be excited for this movie. It’s an actiony science fiction story. I love those. However, I’m not thrilled about the Joseph Gordon-Levitt factor or the Bruce Willis factor (I think they’re both merely okay – nothing to get excited over). And I’m definitely not thrilled about the time travel factor, because 99% of movies that deal with time travel end up breaking their own rules and not making any sense. The likelihood of a screwup is even higher with this one, since he’s chasing after himself. I dunno, a friend of mine swears it’s good, but I just can’t shake the feeling that it’ll only blow your mind if you don’t think very hard.

HOTEL TRANSYLVANIA



Haha, now this one I’m looking forward to seeing. The first trailer wasn’t great – it followed that irritating Pixar practice (this is not a Pixar movie) of not giving away any hint of plot in the teasers. But the full trailer reveals the existence of the daughter and now I can see it’s actually got a story – he’s kind of like Nemo’s dad, trying to keep his kid from getting hurt in the big bad world, only with an Addams Family twist. I freaking LOVE the Addams family, and this movie looks pretty funny. I love the bingo lady monster. So I’ll probably pick this one over Looper, even though I probably should see Looper… oh well, this is why it’s great not having a boss to tell me what to review.

PITCH PERFECT



Call me crazy, but I actually kind of want to see this one, too. Sure, it’s the same “oh we’re a (insert activity here) team and we really need to win (insert name of competition) if only we can get our act together and get us some boy/girlfriends” plot that they use in every movie related to a sport or contest, but it just seems so… funny. The rape whistle joke is pretty clever (and spot on, if I’m remembering college correctly) and that Australian girl from Bridesmaids is HILARIOUS. I think that sets it apart from all the Step Ups and Joyful Noises out there. So I’d watch it, just probably not this week.

WON’T BACK DOWN



Dang, I wanted to see this one as well! I’ve been interested in movies to do with the (American) school system since I saw Waiting for “Superman”, and this is kind of the Waiting for “Superman” version of Erin Brockovich. It’ll make me cry. I know it. These kinds of movies all do. I think that’s probably why I go to them. Plus it’s a true story (as true as these movies ever get, anyway), and Maggie Gyllenhaal is a total ass kicking mom. What more could you want? I’d say I’ll save it for another week, but with the coming weeks stacked up with Frankenweenie, Argo, Cloud Atlas, Wreck-It Ralph, and Skyfall, it’s not looking like I’ll get a chance. Maybe I’ll have to save this one for the DVD release.

INESCAPABLE



Oh my god! It’s Doctor Bashir! I need to see this movie. I don’t think I’ve seen this guy since Deep Space Nine… actually, no, that’s a lie. He was in Cairo Time, which was so boring I don’t think I even watched the whole thing, so you’ll understand if the same director’s name being attached to this movie doesn’t make me jump for joy. In fact, he may be the only person in the world who can lift the “missing daughter in another country” concept from Taken and make it boring. Which is quite a feat, when you think about how dangerous Syria can be. Lots of quiet meetings in dark parking lots, very little throat chopping, though the last few seconds of the trailer look promising. I guess we’ll see.

ARBITRAGE



Wait, was that his wife he was making out with or a mistress or something? I’m confused. I guess I zoned out when they started talking about money and business and all that boring stuff I don’t really care about. Anyway so then he gets in a car crash… and runs away? Because…. why? Because he was drinking? Because he crashed the car on purpose? Because he’s afraid of cops? What is it? And what does his running away from an accident have to do with his money going missing or getting frozen or whatever? This trailer is confusing. Thankfully it’s a limited release so it’s not even going to come near me.

THE MASTER



Ohhhh right! This is that not-Scientology movie that has all the Scientology nuts up in arms. I’d go see it just for that. But I have to say the trailer doesn’t make it seem like much. They barely even give you any plot. I feel like I have to fill in the blanks for you. There’s a guy, he comes back from World War II, he joins a cult, the cult is a stand in for Scientology, bad cult sh** goes down. It sounds good, but from what I understand it’s done in a really jumbled up style (much like the trailer) that makes it really annoying, so maybe I won’t watch the whole thing after all. Later, I mean. It’s only a limited release.

Also, if you’re in Sydney on Thursday, Sept. 27 at 7pm you can catch the Cape Breton Film Series showing of In a Better World, a Danish movie about bullying, revenge, and working in a refugee camp as well as a 12 minute short called When You Sleep by a New Waterford filmmaker.

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DVDs for September 25, 2012

The Avengers

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.

Buy The Avengers on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

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Batman: The Dark Knight Returns Part 1

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.

Buy Batman: Dark Knight Returns 1 on DVD or on Blu-Ray.
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Resident Evil: Damnation

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.

Buy Resident Evil: Damnation on DVD or on Blu-Ray.
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American Horror Story: Season 1

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.

Buy American Horror Story Season 1 on DVD or on Blu-Ray.
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Dredd Review

poster from the DNA Pictures film Dredd

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.

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Trailer Reviews for September 21, 2012

DREDD



When I heard Karl Urban was taking over Sylvester Stallone’s old role in the Judge Dredd remake, I was excited. “I love Karl Urban!” I thought. “He’s a terrific actor! This is going to be great!” Except now that I’ve seen the trailer, I don’t see any differences between the old Stallone version and this new one. The special effects are better, obviously, and the plot’s a little different. I don’t remember there being slow motion drugs in the old one. But Judge Dredd never takes off his helmet and always speaks in a gravelly monotone, so Karl Urban might as well BE Sylvester Stallone in this for all he gets to show of his talent. I dunno, maybe it’s just that the trailer is bad, but I’m not expecting much from this one other than a few hours of smashy smashy.

HOUSE AT THE END OF THE STREET



See, now this is a good horror movie trailer. It sets up the premise without giving away the entire plot of the movie and then teases you with a few scary glimpses. A teenage girl’s family moves in next door to a teen boy with a scary past. The teen girl falls for the teen boy and gets embroiled in his scary past. The end. The scary thing could be his dead sister, his live but traumatized sister, a demon that convinced his sister to kill their parents, the dead parents, the live but traumatized parents, the teen boy, a demon possessing the teen boy, or any one of a thousand other things. WE DON’T KNOW. And that’s the way it should be. We should not know until the movie chooses to tell us. I for one will (eventually) go and see what it has to tell me.

THE TROUBLE WITH THE CURVE



Mmm, two baseball movies in a row I wouldn’t mind seeing? (this one and Moneyball)? Maybe I don’t hate baseball as much as I thought….. *turns on baseball on TV*….. annnd nope. Still hate it. What actually happened was that someone figured out that a sports movie that was about more than just sports would appeal to more people. Moneyball had the math angle, this movie has the father/daughter relationship. Not that I believe Clint Eastwood could be Amy Adams’ father. Great Great Great Great Grandfather, maybe. He looks to be about 1,000 years old. But I can overlook it just for this movie because his character is so funny.

END OF WATCH



Oh great, now they’re taking that annoying home movie/found footage gimmick and applying it to a police movie. Which makes it… what? A glorified episode of Cops? And – oh extra joy – the plot is all about how they cross organized crime! At least they’re not involved in organized crime. That would be even more annoying. But it does seem that the more time they spend running from assassin bullets, the less time they have to remember their gimmicky home video premise. I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or a bad thing, but it’s definitely an inconsistent thing. If End of Watch starred someone I liked, MAYBE I could be convinced to eventually rent this DVD, but I don’t care for Jake Gyllenhaal or Michael Pena, so I have no qualms about giving this one a pass. It’s a limited release, so not everyone will get it anyway.

ROLLER TOWN



Ugh, it’s like a bad parody of Flashdance, which was itself also a bad movie. I didn’t laugh once during this trailer, and by halfway through I was bored and wanted to turn it off. HALFWAY THROUGH A TWO MINUTE TRAILER. That joke at the end was more sad than funny, because it’s so true. Score one more success for Canadian film! Geez, I don’t know whether we just suck at making movies or if I’m just the purple penguin of Canada, but I’d be hard pressed to think of even one Canadian film that came out in the last five years that I even wanted to see. Maybe no one will give us money to make movies because they know we won’t make anything good (not that that ever stopped people funding American movies).

Also, if you’re in Sydney on Thursday, Sept. 20 at 7pm you can catch the Cape Breton Film Series showing of PINA, a formless, plotless collection of interpretive dancing scenes.

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Resident Evil Retribution Review

poster from the Constantin Pictures film Resident Evil Retribution

It was a slow week for movies, so once again I find myself reviewing the latest Resident Evil Gong Show. For those of you who can’t keep track of their random vaguely threatening compound word naming scheme, it’s #5 in the series, which is based on a series of zombie video games. 5 picks up from where 4 left off, but if you haven’t seen it, don’t worry. They recap. A lot.

Alice must fight her way through various global outbreak scenarios in order to escape the Umbrella Corporation’s secret underwater testing facility.

The Resident Evil series is known for nonsensical plots that are somehow both overcomplicated and simplistic, stupid viruses that do things viruses don’t really do, and for prominently featuring a mindlessly evil corporation with a propensity for pasting little pictures of umbrellas all over everything. Number 5 is more of the same.

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Trailer Reviews for September 14, 2012

RESIDENT EVIL: RETRIBUTION



It’s time for another Resident Evil: Compound Vaguely Dangerous Sounding R Word. I’m not even sure which one this is. Four? Six? Five hundred? I’ve seen most of them, but not all of them, though I couldn’t identify the ones I have seen due to the aforementioned naming trend. It makes little difference, as the storyline is so messed up that missing one won’t make it any less confusing. The movies usually start with Alice being dumped into the company of some random people (who will later be killed) but this time she’s apparently a super creepy, super not believable suburban mom who’s married to the warrior guy from The Mummy. What?? It’s all a trick, but what possible purpose could the Umbrella Corporation have for making her think she was not creepy? And didn’t they already take over the world? I look forward to seeing what retarded explanation they come up with.

FINDING NEMO 3D



This movie came out ten years ago. I like it. I might even go so far as to say it’s one of my favorite cartoons, but I’m not going to pretend I’m happy that it’s back in theaters. It’s taking up a theater that could be used for a new (actually new) movie and the 3D will be that token aftermarket diorama effect that only impresses four year olds. If your kid hasn’t seen it, save yourself ten bucks (more like forty if your whole family is going) and rent the DVD. And please, studios, stop trying to wring the last few cents out of your old stuff and actually make something new.

Also, if you’re in Sydney on Thursday, Sept. 13 at 7pm you can catch the Cape Breton Film Series showing of Oslo, an artsy, slow moving film about a recovering Norwegian drug addict.

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