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Double Review: Interstellar and Big Hero 6

posters for Interstellar and Big Hero 6

Last week was a big one: both Interstellar and Big Hero 6 on the same day. This week: not so much. I was on vacation last week but have since seen both movies and found them worthy of talking about, so… double review time!

Interstellar
In a last-ditch attempt to escape a dying earth, an ex shuttle pilot leads a mission through a wormhole to find a suitable colony world.

Big Hero 6
A teenage robotics genius teams up with his dead brother’s friends and a health care robot to bring down the villain who ruined his life.

You really can’t go wrong with either as long as you’re in the target audience. Those who don’t like science might be bored by three whole hours of Interstellar‘s space rambling while grown-ups who don’t retain much of their inner child might find the bombastic action of Big Hero 6 silly and forgettable.

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Book of Life Review

poster from the 20th Century Fox film Book of Life

Fury, The Best of Me, and Book of Life came out this week. I’m tired of World War II movies about Heroic Americans in general and Brad Pitt specifically. Nicholas Sparks movies tend to make me want to punch his lights out. Book of Life is a cute cartoon about dead things created by Jorge R. Gutierrez, a Guillermo del Toro student. No brainer.

Two best friends, a soldier and a musician, compete for the hand of the same girl while the king and queen of the dead wager on the outcome.

In most respects, Book of Life is pretty good. It’s pretty original. The story is pretty tight. Characters are pretty likeable. It’s got a pretty cute side kick. The message to kids is pretty relevant. Where it really shines is in the visuals. Every inch of the screen is filled with something bright and intricate, which will either give you a headache or make you want to buy it as poster art.

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The Box Trolls Review

poster from the Laika Entertainment film The Box Trolls

There’s just something about stop-motion animation. Maybe it’s the enormous amount of work that goes into it. More likely it’s the incredible amount of detail you end up with when you’re filling your screen with real objects rather than pixels. Whatever it is, I couldn’t resist The Box Trolls, which was adapted from an Alan Snow book I have not read by the people who did Paranorman.

A boy raised underground by box trolls joins forces with a neglected girl to rescue the harmless creatures from the town exterminator.

Box Trolls is ghoulishly cute like Paranorman. It also has that underlying theme of ‘just because we’re different doesn’t mean we can’t get along.’ It’s not as funny or as scary (or as good) as Paranorman, but there’s so much detail in the sets and characters that you might not even notice.

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Planes: Fire and Rescue Review

poster from the Disney film Planes Fire and Rescue

To people who are not me, this would be another lean week for movies. However, since I automatically line up for all movies concerning airplanes and/or firefighting, I was excited for this weekend. I thought the only problem with Planes was its resemblance (story-wise) to Cars, so this time, with firefighting planes, it had to be different. Right?

After a gearbox failure a racing airplane trains as a firefighter in order to help save his hometown.

As a pure Disney effort rather than a Disney-Pixar film, Planes: Fire and Rescue is pretty good. The characters are cute, there are scenes of exciting action, and a handful of jokes that made me laugh out loud. Unfortunately Fire and Rescue lacked heart, which means that by next week I’ll probably have forgotten all about it.

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Trailer Reviews for July 18, 2014

SEX TAPE



While I have to give this movie credit for acknowledging that there’s never just one copy of a thing in the digital age (something action movies like Skyfall and Jack Ryan have yet to clue into) it’s still pretty dumb. Why are these people flailing across the nation thinking they can get every copy back? THIS IS DIGITAL. THERE ARE INFINITE COPIES. YOU WILL NEVER GET THEM ALL. They would have done better to explore the comedy inherent in the two of them becoming overnight internet porn celebrities.

THE PURGE: ANARCHY



What is it, stupid premise day? Horror movies get a certain amount of leeway as far as believability goes, but this one pushes the envelope right over a cliff. National legal crime day is not only stupid (who would live in a country where everyone was allowed to kill them? And who wants to rebuild their entire nation every year after the criminals destroy it?) but it wouldn’t work. Criminals would not wait 364 days to get revenge if someone pissed them off the day after the purge. Also, how dumb are those two who decided to go for a drive just before the purge started?

PLANES: FIRE AND RESCUE



I know Planes didn’t go over well with anyone other than me, but this is a cool idea for a movie. Firefighting AND planes! Firefighting planes! I’m even willing to overlook the fact that Dusty is way too small of a plane to be much help in fighting forest fires. I mean, how much water could he hold in his tank? And how would he scoop it up? Poor Dusty doesn’t look like he could put out a campfire. But he’s still a plane that fights fires so I’ll see it.

BOYHOOD



I think it’s a cool idea to make a movie where the kid grows up on screen, and it looks like a good movie, but it’s kind of like a Guinness record attempt – the only reason to do it is for the pleasure of knowing you’re the only one who has. It just seems like 11 extra years of work when you could have made a good movie in a year by hiring a herd of brothers who all look alike or something.

SNOWPIERCER



I guess this is what you do when you want to make a post-apocalyptic action movie on a small budget. Set it on a train. It looks okay, but it does seem a little silly. I mean, their whole goal is to get to the front of the train. When they get there, they’ll still be on a train.

WISH I WAS HERE



It looks okay I guess. I remember liking Garden State many moons ago so I’d probably like this one as well. There just wasn’t anything in the trailer that really jumped out at me and made me say “Yes! This one! I want to see this one!” All I got was a vague sense of puzzlement… was that a hovering robot??

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DVDs for July 15, 2014

rio 2

Rio 2

In the first Rio, a terrified, flightless macaw named Blue was brought to South America to breed with Jewel, the only other remaining bird of his species. In this sequel, we discover that blue macaws aren’t as rare as everyone thought: Jewel’s whole family is out in the jungle, so Blue (reluctantly) takes the family to Brazil once again to meet their relatives. Like the first Rio, it’s an okay movie. Not the funniest or most exciting movie ever, but it’s cute, it looks nice, and kids enjoy it.

Buy Rio 2 on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

under the skin

Under the Skin

If you’re in the mood for a movie that will make you go: “What the #$%$@& is happening?!” then Under the Skin is for you. Don’t be fooled by the mention of aliens and the fact that Scarlett Johansson is in the cast (okay, she pretty much IS the cast). This movie is more about self discovery and learning about feelings, and by that I mean the main character has a weird look on her face while incomprehensible things happen around her. The only reason people who are not film critics might want to watch this movie is for the nudity.

Buy Under the Skin on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

wipers times

The Wipers Times

If Downton Abbey and Call the Midwife have sucked you into the world of British period drama, expand your horizons a little further and try a BBC war movie. Don’t worry, it’s not full of blood and bombs and harrowing death scenes. It’s about a group of soldiers (led by Ben Chaplin) who find a printing press in World War I and use it to publish a satirical newsletter to keep up morale in the trenches (even though the brass think it’s borderline treasonous) so it’s quite funny. And the best part is – it’s true!

Buy The Wipers Times on DVD.

hercules reborn

Hercules Reborn

There is a Hercules movie coming out soon that stars Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. This is not it, but a sizeable portion of its marketing team are probably hoping you get the two confused – it’s about Hercules and stars a WWE wrestler (John “Johnny Nitro” Hennigan), but the movie itself is sort of a sequel. Hercules is a down-on-his-luck exile who is pressed into action once again when a young man’s bride is kidnapped by an evil king. It’s about as good as any of the knockoffs in the “mockbuster” family (Transmorphers, Chop Kick Panda, etc.) which is to say: not very good.

Buy Hercules Reborn on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

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How to Train Your Dragon 2 Review

poster from the Dreamworks Pictures film How to Train Your Dragon 2

The only new movie we got at my theater this week was Jersey Boys, and since I couldn’t sit through two hours of Frankie Valley’s horrible voice without driving nails into my ears, I went to How to Train Your Dragon 2. I loved the first one, but didn’t feel it needed a sequel, so I had no idea whether I would be impressed or not.


20-year-old Hiccup clashes with his father over whether it would be better to reason with or hide from the villain who plans to attack their village with a dragon army.

In some respects, I was right. How to Train Your Dragon 2 was not necessary, but it was enjoyable. Like most sequels, Dreamworks made it because there was more money in the franchise, but there are a few new elements to keep the story from getting too stale and the dragons are (of course) still cute.

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Trailer Reviews for June 13, 2014

22 JUMP STREET



21 Jump Street was a comedy I worried would be too dumb for me, but it turned out to be both hilarious and smart. Major points went to it for making fun of the fact that it was a remake. This trailer shows the same level of self awareness. It also made me smile, though the red band trailer is funnier.

HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON 2



I loved the first How to Train Your Dragon. It was pretty much a perfect movie. But I felt like when it was over, it was done. It didn’t need a sequel. Any attempt to lengthen the story with another movie would just seem tacked-on. And this trailer hasn’t convinced me otherwise. But Dreamworks has money to make, so I guess we’ll be seeing these for a while until eventually they end up straight-to-video like Land Before Time 27.

THE DOUBLE



Wasn’t there just a movie about two Jake Gyllenhaals? Is this a trend now, that actors don’t feel challenged unless they’re playing against themselves? I’m not a fan of even one Jesse Eisenberg and this movie looks boring and weird. Weird in a way that’s meant to be funny but fails to elicit more than an awkward ‘heh’ from me. I’m skipping it.

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DVDs for April 15, 2014

mitty

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

If you like snazzy, colorful, Life magazine photos about people’s experiences, this movie is for you. It follows an archivist as he tracks an elusive photographer across the world looking for the missing photo negative he needs for the cover of the magazine’s final print issue. The story will resonate particularly well with people who have boring lives and who frequently daydream about having adventures, like the titular character does. Read my review for more.

Buy The Secret Life of Walter Mitty on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

nut job

The Nut Job

If you’re not already sick to death of heist movies, here’s another one. It features squirrels trying to steal nuts from a store so they can survive the winter. Sounds cute, right? It would be, if the lead squirrel wasn’t a self-centered, backstabbing jacka** who lost the winter food supply to start with and is only helping get it back because the store is a front for human bank robbers. A much better animated animal-related food-heist movie is Fantastic Mr. Fox. Rent that one for the kids instead.

Buy The Nut Job on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

philomena

Philomena

This is another nice, quirky British comedy-drama. Steve Coogan plays a jaded journalist who helps Judi Dench’s character find the son the Catholic Church forced her to give up many years ago. Philomena herself is a real person, as is her son, and though they do take a few liberties in the name of story structure, it’s mostly accurate. It’s also an indictment on church adoption policy and a heartwarming buddy/road trip movie, without all the cliches you usually expect (oh no, the car rolled into a pond, etc.) Check it out.

Buy Philomena on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

ride along

Ride Along

Speaking of comedies that are loaded with cliches, here’s Ride Along. A wimpy, video-game obsessed security guard (Kevin Hart) accompanies his fiance’s cop brother (Ice Cube) to work in order to prove himself. The only thing he really proves is that he can get increasingly squeaky and hysterical in response to danger, which I guess is supposed to be funny. Rent it if you must, but the poor dialogue and the lack of original situations for the duo to face will make you wish you’d rented any other buddy cop movie ever made.

Buy Ride Along on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

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Trailer Reviews for April 11, 2014

RIO 2



Giant meh. The first Rio was pretty good, but I don’t remember it fondly enough that the thought of a sequel makes me excited. Jesse Eisenberg’s nervous parrot is a little annoying, I don’t like the dog… or the singing… none of the jokes in the trailer made me laugh and one of them (the super bicep parrot) seems like it’s ripped off The Fairly Oddparents. The only thing I really like is the evil cockatoo, and I don’t think I want to see a whole 3D movie just for that.

DRAFT DAY



Moneyball with football? Most of this seems like it takes place in an office… or on the phone. It doesn’t seem very exciting, but they managed to pull it off in Jerry Maguire. Even if it doesn’t get very tense, I’d rather watch this than another Rio movie.

OCULUS



Sadly, this movie has nothing to do with the Oculus virtual reality headset (that would have been a cool horror movie, eh?) I dunno about this. The trailer tells us nothing of the story. Something weird happens with a mirror that may or may not involve souls being taken, depending on whether the poet who wrote the voiceover was being metaphorical or not. I like horror, but the fake blood in the mirror looks cheesy, and the mirror thing has been done before, so I’m going to stick with Draft Day this week.

DOM HEMINGWAY



“Jude Law as you’ve never seen him before!” says the trailer. “Yes, with a different accent,” says I. The character and the accent seem funny but the whole ‘screwup tries to make up with his family’ thing isn’t drawing me in. Maybe because I’ve seen it too many times before. Or maybe I just don’t like screwups.

THAT BURNING FEELING



Okay, so, what is the plot of this movie? That scruffy guy has to tell all the people he slept with that he may have given them an STD? Or is he trying to get somebody to date him while he has an STD? Or both? I didn’t get much from that trailer other than that the characters are quirky enough to attract ‘name’ actors who are not quite famous. It’s still funnier than I expected, so it’s possible I may rent it later on.

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