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Trailer Reviews for November 1, 2013

ENDER’S GAME



Ender’s Game movie! Woot! I know Orson Scott Card’s jerky behavior has turned a lot of people off this movie, but as the rights holder, he would have been paid yonks ago for this film, so I can’t see how not seeing it will hurt him. Also, I really want to see it. Yeah, Ender is too old. Yeah, there aren’t enough girls in it. Yeah, the sequels are too political and/or religious. But THIS one was awesome because THIS one was about little kids fighting GIANT SPACE BATTLES, which is 95% of what went on in my imagination as a child (FYI, there are still a lot of space battles going on in there). So I have to see it. Seeing it in real life is JUST TOO AWESOME. Who wants to come with me?

LAST VEGAS



Ooh, sorry Last Vegas, you look funny. Morgan Freeman especially, you crack me up. But you’re no competition on Ender’s Game weekend. Come back and see me in a few weeks… or maybe not. Thor: The Dark World comes out next week and after that we’ve got The Book Thief followed by The Hunger Games: Catching Fire. On second thought, Last Vegas, thanks for the entertaining trailer. I will see you on DVD.

FREE BIRDS



Okay, that tiny spherical bird was adorable. But… does this movie involve time travel? Because it kind of looks like it involves time travel. It is way too easy to mess up time travel mechanics, especially when you don’t care about them – you’re just doing it for kiddy laughs. Plus it doesn’t even look that funny. If I want to watch a movie about game birds who want to be free, I’m going to put in my Chicken Run DVD.

ABOUT TIME



Now this one I’m upset about. I love Love Actually and I was really looking forward to seeing this movie. (Yes yes, I know I was just railing about time travel in non-science fiction movies, but since it’s so important to the plot here it must have internal consistency). It looks really sweet. In a funnier, less depressing Time Traveler’s Wife sort of way. But not only is it releasing opposite Ender’s Game, my theater’s not even getting it. Boo

ALL THE WRONG REASONS



Well hello, another Canadian film I might actually watch! (And no, not just because Cory Montieth is dead) Because Kevin Zegers. Because main character with one arm. Because firefighters. Because no touchy. And because hilarious behind-the-scenes Zellers action. Now… all I need is for it to come here.

DALLAS BUYERS CLUB



I used to be able to stomach Matthew McConaughey, but now every time I see his face on screen I have this urge to knock his smirking mug into next week. I know it’s a moving topic and all, but did it have to be him?

DIANA



Part of me is like: ooh! Secrets and drama! But the other part feels like this movie is too much like one of those tabloid tell-alls – full of things that are none of my business.

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Planes Review

poster from the Walt Disney Pictures film Planes

Not many adult Pixar fans include Cars on their list of favorites, probably because it was a more obvious attempt to sell toys than even their movies about toys were, so it was only me, the airplane fan, who got excited over Planes. Now a Pixar-less Disney franchise, my big concern that Planes would turn out to be Cars with planes and therefore a big cynical marketing ploy.

A cropdusting plane with a fear of heights competes in a round-the-world race to show everyone that it’s not what you’re made for but what you’re made of that matters.

Now that I’ve seen it, I can tell you that it is Cars with planes, but it’s also Cars 2 with planes, Speed Racer with planes, the pod racing subplot of Star Wars Episode I with planes, and of course Top Gun with (animated) planes. In other words, it’s different enough not to be a total insult to the audience. Plus it’s really, really cute.
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Trailers for August 9, 2013

ELYSIUM



I really liked District 9 and this movie looks pretty interesting, even if it does seem to consist of elements taken from District 9, the new Total Recall, and numerous other science fiction movies. I’d go if it didn’t star Matt Damon. He’s like the cardboard vanilla flavor of actors and no matter how action packed the movie got or how apt the socio-political satire, I’d still be annoyed that I wasn’t watching someone else. I’m skipping this one.

PERCY JACKSON AND THE SEA OF MONSTERS



I liked the Percy Jackson books and I didn’t hate the first movie, Lightning Thief, but the big problem I had with that movie remains (and has gotten worse) in this sequel: Percy Jackson and his buddies are much too old. Logan Lerman (Percy) is 21. Alexandra Daddario (Annabeth) is 27. Brandon T. Jackson (Grover) is 30. None of them can pass for less than 17. In the books, Percy and his pals were wise-cracking, trouble-making 13-year-olds. This wouldn’t have been a problem if they’d updated the rest of the material to fit the characters’ new ages, but they didn’t. The characters still look and act like tweenagers, gawping and bumbling their way through a summer camp adventure, and it’s annoying.

WE’RE THE MILLERS



This looks, at best, mildly funny. At worst, I suspect it’s cringe-worthy. Too many instances of vicarious audience embarrassment pass as jokes these days. Also the principle of the film seems flawed. Surely there are dogs hanging around border crossings sniffing for drugs that would make their half-assed plan to pass themselves off as a family pointless?

PLANES



As the lone living adult who actually enjoyed the Cars movie and a lifelong lover of airplanes, when I found out about Disney’s Planes, I felt like they made it just for me. I reserve judgment on the story, however. The flying-creature-with-fear-of-heights thing was done in Rio and the learning-to-be-a-racer story was done in Cars. In fact, other than the fact that it has planes in it, I can’t see ANY way in which this movie is different. That bothers me, but not enough to make me see something else.

THE CONSPIRACY



When I first started watching this trailer I thought I had the wrong one – it looked like one of those Inside Job style documentaries. But it’s a fake documentary style horror movie. It seems kind of cliched to me that the conspiracy theorist should fall victim to a conspiracy theory. I also think I’ve read or seen half a dozen stories about a cabal of shadowy villains who direct the political and financial course of the world by yanking on puppet strings. All in all nothing here that would convince me to see this movie.

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DVDs for February 19, 2013

argo

Argo

I love Argo, which is a dramatization of the true story of a CIA rescue during the Iranian hostage crisit. It pairs a hilarious first half, where a CIA agent played by Ben Affleck dives into the craziness that is Hollywood to craft a cover story for his rescue mission, with an unbearably tense second half where the Iranians get closer and close to figuring out who he is and catching him before he can make off with the embassy workers. Ben Affleck really did a great job directing. It’s a shame he didn’t get an Oscar nod for it. Check it out or read my review for more.

Buy Argo on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

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sinister

Sinister

I’m pretty jaded, so horror movies that scare other people tend to elicit little more than a few sarcastic comments from me. Sinister is pretty cookie cutter – a crime writer brings his family to stay in the house of a murdered family… which (quelle surprise) turns out to be haunted. But, as I discovered, cookie cutter plots don’t necessarily mean not scary. I jumped quite a few times watching this movie, and it was largely due to the directing (well done, Scott Derrickson). So if you want a horror movie that really will actually freak you out a bit, see this one. Read my review for more.

Buy Sinister on DVD or on Blu-Ray.
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battlestar

Battlestar Galactica: Blood and Chrome

I used to complain a lot about Battlestar Galactica because they spent too much time yelling at each other and having political campaigns when they should be blasting robots to kingdom come. And… it’s like someone was listening. Blood and Chrome is the pilot for a new, action-oriented Battlestar series (that’s not getting made… sorry). It follows William Adama as a young recruit in the First Cylon War. It’s awesome, but you don’t need to buy the DVD. You can watch it all for free on YouTube, where it was released (officially) in 12 minute installments.

Buy Blood and Chrome on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

anna karenina

Anna Karenina

Anna Karenina is a famous Russian novel about some aristocrats having an affair. It’s quite long, which is why many high school and college students will be watching this movie instead. But be warned, if you’re not interested in opulent and unreal lifestyles, parties, and dancing, you’ll probably bored by this movie. I can’t even recommend it to fans of director Joe Wright’s Pride and Prejudice adaptation, because the love story isn’t righteous and happy but sordid and tragic. You may also have trouble drumming up sympathy for the characters, who are varying degrees of horrible.

Buy Anna Karenina on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

skyfall

Skyfall

I forgot to do a DVD article last week (blame my snowpocalypse induced shoveling coma) so I’ll briefly also mention the only movie worth mentioning from last week: the latest James Bond. It sucks – it’s contrived, forgetful, lacking in cool technology, and steals plot points from other movies (named Mission: Impossible and Home Alone. It is better than Quantum of Solace, but everything is better than Quantum of Solace. If you must watch a gritty, Daniel Craig take on Bond, make it Casino Royale. At least that one made sense. Read my review for more detail.

Buy Skyfall on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

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Trailer Reviews for February 8, 2013

IDENTITY THIEF



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.

SIDE EFFECTS



“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!!!!!

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DVDs for February 5, 2013

flight

Flight

The true story of Capt. ‘Sully’ Sullenburger’s textbook ditching of a plane on the Hudson was a great news story but a bad movie idea – there just wasn’t enough drama. So when the studio was ‘inspired’ to make a movie about hero pilots and airplane crashes, they also tacked on some stuff about the pilot being under investigation for drinking while flying. It’s Denzel Washington at his most typical (i.e. being angry and yelling at some dudes) so if you’re a fan check it out. Personally I’d prefer to catch the episode of Mayday concerning the real incident.

Buy Flight on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

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alex cross

Alex Cross

I find the Alex Cross books by James Patterson (and his legion of co-writers) to be extremely bland, so it’s only fitting that for the film version, they hired the king of blankness, Tyler Perry, to play the title character. The plot of the movie deals with a cop (Perry) hunting a crazed serial killer (Matthew Fox) who killed his wife. It’s pretty standard cop thriller stuff with lots of manufactured ‘twists’, but Alex Cross himself is so boring you’ll probably find yourself rooting for the serial killer. Skip it and watch some episodes of almost any cop show. They’re all better.

Buy Alex Cross on DVD or on Blu-Ray.
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here comes the boom

Here Comes the Boom

The title of this movie gives you no clue as to what it’s really about, so I’ll have to tell you. It’s Kevin James. He’s a teacher at a high school that’s experiencing budget cuts so he decides to take up MMA (mixed martial arts) to raise money, which in turn lands him a hot girlfriend (naturally). It sounds cute, but it’s the same bumbling, asinine stuff you’ve seen from him before. If you’re interested in the story but not the dopeyness, rent Warrior instead. One of the MMA fighter brothers in that movie is also a teacher who needs money. Plus it doesn’t suck.

Buy Here Comes the Boom on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

deadfall

Deadfall

I love Eric Bana and Olivia Wilde, but this movie is just unsettling, and not in a good way. They play a brother and sister (with sexual chemistry… ew) who kill a cop after a casino heist and end up stranded in the snowy woods for most of the movie. They separate and invade two different families who are home for Thanksgiving, and Charlie Hunnam is in it. It’s meant to be thriller-y, but apart from a few action scenes it’s mostly boring and/or a mess, so it’s probably better if you just skip this one. Plus, it’s hard to watch adorable Eric Bana be so mean.

Buy Deadfall on DVD or on Blu-Ray/DVD combo pack.

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DVDs for May 22, 2012

This Means War

This one didn’t really catch on with people when it came out in theaters, and I think that’s a shame, because it’s hilarious. You’ve got Chris Pine (the new Captain Kirk) vs Tom Hardy (from Warrior) as they use all their mad spy skillz to sabotage each other after they figure out that they’re both after the same girl (Reece Witherspoon). If you liked Mr. and Mrs. Smith or the middle bit in True Lies, you’ll like this one too. You can check out my full review for confirmation of its hilarity.

Buy This Means War This Means War or on Blu-Ray.

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The Woman in Black

Daniel Radcliffe is trying to have a career beyond Harry Potter, so if you’re a fan of his you’ll want to see this movie. Personally I don’t think he’s a very good actor and he still looks too young to be taken seriously as a lawyer with a four year old son. There are a few scary moments as he gets stuck in a haunted house on a tidal marsh as while he tries to sort out a dead client’s papers, though, so I’d probably say this is the scariest horror movie I’ve seen so far this year. You can read the full review here.

Buy The Woman in Black on DVD or on Blu-Ray.
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Sherlock: Season 2

I don’t usually talk about TV shows here but Sherlock is just too awesome a show to let the DVD release go by without mentioning it. The show is a modern-day adaptation of the Sherlock Holmes mysteries with Benedict Cumberbatch as the borderline autistic puzzle solver and Martin Freeman as his Afghan war vet/doctor/blogger friend/sidekick. The episodes are movie length and all three: “Scandal in Belgravia,” “Hounds of Baskerville” and “The Reichenback Fall” are all mind blowing. Watch them and wait with bated breath (like me) for Season 3.

Buy Sherlock: Season 2 on DVD or on Blu-Ray.
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Red Tails

If you have access to a copy of Tuskegee Airmen, there’s no reason to watch this movie, which is also about a squadron of African American fighter pilots in WW2 overcoming racism and Nazis. You might think that since it’s newer, the effects will be better, but there’s nothing wrong with the old plane footage from Tuskegee Airmen. If anything, the CGI sequences look even faker than the old stuff did. And even if they were awesome, they couldn’t save this movie from bad writing, bad research, and bad music. The real Tuskegee airmen were really awesome and deserve better.

Buy Red Tails on DVD or buy Tuskegee Airmen instead because it’s better.
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DVDs for March 13, 2012

The Adventures of Tintin

As a kid, I loved to watch the Tintin cartoon show. It was so funny and full of adventure. If you remember the show, watching this movie will make you feel like a kid again. This time, Tintin the intrepid reporter and his faithful pals Snowy the dog and Captain Haddock are rendered in eerily realistic motion capture animation as they search for a ship full of sunken treasure. This movie is a great way to get your jaded kids to indulge you in your nostalgia-fest, but I wouldn’t show it to really young kids, as it deals with alcoholism. You can read my full review here.

Buy The Adventures of Tintin on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

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Three Musketeers

If Tintin is an example of a movie that is really good at being both actiony and funny, Three Musketeers is an example of one that’s very bad at it. It’s an irreverent period retelling of the classic story about a young man who joins an elite trio of swordsmen who work for the French king, but it’s so loaded with cliches, plot holes, ridiculously impossible feats, and ripoffs of other movies that it’s really irritating to watch. Plus, Logan Lerman’s smarmy attitude will make you want to slap his face. Avoid it, if at all possible. You can read my full review here.

Buy Three Musketeers on DVD or on Blu-Ray.
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Happy Feet 2

If you just can’t get enough dancing penguins, this is the movie you want to rent. It’s a sequel that focuses on the son of the main character from Happy Feet, who is like his dad in that he just doesn’t fit in with the other penguins. They sing and dance, he wants to fly. It’s a little bit like Chicken Run, but more convoluted and not as funny. And, obviously, more dancing and singing. The dancing and singing will keep young kids entertained, but older ones will probably be annoyed, because it’s not as good as the first one or indeed most CGI movies these days.

Buy Happy Feet 2 on DVD or on Blu-Ray.


The Descendants

If you’re working your way through the Oscar winners, this one is probably next on your list. If it is, I don’t envy you. It may have won Best Adapted Screenplay, but it’s still the same boring family drama we see over and over. There’s a dad, he works too much, his wife suddenly knocks herself out of the picture, he has to reconnect with his kids, everyone’s upset, blah blah fighting heartbreak and hugging. As a George Clooney unfan, I have to admit I’m biased, but that’s not going to stop me from advising you to rent something else. Preferably something without George Clooney in it.

Buy The Descendants on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

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John Carter Review

poster from the Walt Disney Pictures film John Carter

I was really ambivalent about whether I wanted to see this movie, but since my only other choice was A Thousand Words, picking this week’s film wasn’t difficult. The reason I wasn’t eager to see John Carter is that it’s based on an Edgar Rice Burroughs novel that was written at a time when we had a much higher tolerance for ridiculous made up science fiction names and climactic sword battles. But to us now, John Carter is just more of the same:

A Victorian-era ex-cavalry soldier is accidentally transported to Mars and falls in love with its princess, sucking him into a civil war between four factions of Martians.

Even just the word Martians is now goofy, mostly because we’ve sent rovers to Mars and not seen anything more interesting than red rocks and old Soviet space junk, so John Carter is automatically at a disadvantage. Fortunately, it’s aware of that fact and doesn’t take itself too seriously, which actually makes it pretty fun to watch.

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Act of Valor Review

poster from the Bandito Brothers film Act of Valor

This week’s choice of movie was a no brainer. As I mentioned, I have a crippling weakness for actioney real life jobs, so if you’ve got a movie, documentary, or biography about a fighter pilot or a UN police officer or a rescue diver, I’m so there. Act of Valor was exciting in trailer form because it’s sort of a hybrid of all three: movie, doc, and bio, with a made up story based on true events starring both real SEALs and actors.

A team of Navy SEALs tangle with South American drug cartels, Somalian smugglers, and religious extremists to stop a smuggler/terrorist team from executing a terror attack in the United States.

I really wasn’t sure what to expect from this movie. All movies say they’re new and different but this one seemed like it actually would be. Now that I’ve seen it, however, I have to report that watching Act of Valor was not the unique experience I was hoping for. In fact, it felt exactly like watching my brother play Call of Duty: Modern Warfare. I’m not sure if this reflects well on Call of Duty or badly on Act of Valor.

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