Attention Twilight saga fans: the dullest entry in the series is now on DVD! Of course, if you are a Twilight fan, you probably think this is the best part, what with Edward and Bella getting married and going on their honeymoon and all, but for us normal people it’s just a lame sapfest with a mismanaged monster baby plot that gets shunted aside in favor of two blank-faced teens staring at each other. And one of them is a sparkly vampire. You can read my full review of it here, but I’m pretty sure you already know if you’ll be buying it or not.
You’re probably thinking I’m going to trash this movie for being crass and stoner-y, but I actually thought it was funny… well, sometimes. Harold and Kumar, who are now estranged, have to hunt down a perfect Christmas tree to win over Harold’s in-laws. In the process, they get a baby high, adopt a robot that makes waffles, turn into claymation, and backup dance for a Broadway show starring Neil Patrick Harris. It’s pretty episodic, but I laughed few times (mostly at the waffle robot) which means you people will probably find it hilarious from beginning to end. You can read my full review of it here.
I really have to be in the right mood to watch movies where everyone ends up dead or miserable, so I guess this one caught me at the right time because I liked it. The relationships are really convoluted (so and so is sleeping with so and so and is secretly related to this person but actually acknowledges these other people as family etc etc) but at its core it theorizes that William Shakespeare was just a front man for the Earl of Oxford, who couldn’t admit that he wrote plays because he would get in trouble. I don’t believe it, of course, but it’s entertaining to watch it all fall apart.
In an effort to cash in on the Valentine’s Day buying boom, Disney is taking The Lady and the Tramp, out of the “vault” (read: moneymaking gimmick). You remember Lady and the Tramp. It’s that classic cartoon about the pampered house dog falling in love with the scruffy street mutt after her owner’s mean relative kicks her out. The spaghetti part is what everyone remembers, but my favorite part is the creepy Siamese cats and their skin-crawling song. “We are Siamese if you please…” One of the special features is on that song. Others include deleted scenes, songs, a featurette, and the story meeting.
Dear Sam Worthington and Jamie Bell,
I think you’re awesome and that your movie looks totally cool. Finally, someone put an actual twist into a heist movie! Sadly, I cannot contribute to the success of your film by attending it on opening night because my theater (Empire Theaters in Sydney, Nova Scotia) is a bastard and has decided not to bring it in. In protest, I will not be seeing any movies this weekend. Readers, if you’re upset about this too, I encourage you not to keep quiet and settle for second best either. Don’t go to the movies this weekend. It’s called “Voting With Your Wallet,” and it’s the only think big companies can be swayed by. You should also make sure you register your complaint with them (so they can’t say they didn’t know) by going to their website and using the “Share Your Comments” or email contact features. This can work for any theater. Thanks.
ONE FOR THE MONEY
I’m not a fan of Janet Evanovich’s novels, and at first blurb this movie seemed a little too close to The Bounty Hunter, but that trailer is frikkin’ HILARIOUS. Also, it’s the girl whose the bounty hunter, which is preferable to the guy, because then you’ve got a girl power angle. I know a lot of people have a hate on for Katherine Heigl, but you’ve got to admit, her snappy sarcasm is perfect for this role (or maybe you don’t have to admit it, I don’t know). Anyway, I’d totally see this. In fact, I would like to see it. I WILL see it, just not this week, because once again, my theater is being a bastard. I guess I’ll have to settle for checking the book out of the library. If you live in Sydney (not Australia) you’re a Janet Evanovich/Katherine Heigl/girl power/sarcasm fan, you know what to do! (if you don’t know what to do, see my comments on Man on a Ledge).
For some demented reason, THIS is the movie the illustrious heads of our theater decided we should all see this week. It certainly can’t be because the movie looks to be the best of the big three that are coming out this week. Twisty and tense (Man on a Ledge) or hilarious and girl power-y (One for the Money) trump Alive crossed with White Fang made stupider any day. I mean, Liam Neeson’s been going downhill for a while now, what with all the brainless action films he’s been starring in, but moving from throat chopping human traffickers to knuckle dusting WOLVES is just silly.
That’s weird. From the name and the poster I assumed this was one of those ancient history fighting movies, like 300. But then the trailer started and everyone was dressed up like characters in Modern Warfare 2. I was really confused until I saw the William Shakespeare part. Ahhh. Now it makes sense. I thought I’d heard that weird random word before. Coriolanus is a modern adaptation of a Shakespeare play about a Roman emperor, so essentially it IS an ancient history fighting movie where everyone is dressed up as characters in Modern Warfare 2. That’s just different enough to be interesting, both to me and the “real” critics (though sadly there are fewer excuses for shirtlessness). This is a limited release, so unless you live in a city you’ll have to wait for a second-run or the DVD.
BACK TO THE SEA
It looks like big names like Pixar and Dreamworks are getting some competition from no-name studios in the 3D movies department – though this one is paradoxically animated in the 2D classical style. It looks almost Japanese, which is especially weird since the poster makes it look like the film is done with CGI. Story-wise it’s a bit like an extended version of the escape sequence from Finding Nemo with a little boy (must it always be a boy?) attached for human interest, but I applaud its existence. In fact, more animation studios should produce their own scripts. I’ve got a few if you’re interested 🙂
Also, if you live in Sydney (Nova Scotia, not Australia), on Thursday at 7pm the Cape Breton Film Series people are showing Le Havre, an oddly laconic French comedy about an old man who takes in a refugee. You can watch the trailer on their website and decide for yourself if you want to see it.
I don’t like George Clooney or Ryan Gosling or politics, so you’ll understand if I’m not falling all over myself to tell you to see this movie. It’s a political drama (not really a thriller, despite the trailer music) about a young campaign staffer who is lured into stabbing “his” candidate in the back (which of course works out perfectly for the staffer… not). It’s sort of kind of vaguely calling back to Julius Caesar, but not in a way you’d really notice. If you’re into politics, by all means, rent it. You’ll probably like it. The rest of you… don’t bother.
This movie is an action thriller about a boy who discovers he was stolen from his original parents, so what do they put on the cover? Taylor Lautner standing around doing nothing. This is no doubt a calculated move to appeal to tween girls, because the fan club kids are the only people who would like this movie – it’s pretty crappy. I know the premise sounds interesting, but this movie is so riddled with cliches and bad logic that you’re better off reading The Face on the Milk Carton instead. Unless, of course, you’re a member of Team Jacob.
This movie should have a big red warning label on it: CAUTION! THIS MOVIE HAS A LOT OF GOD STUFF IN IT!! So that normal people who are expecting a heartwarming TV-movie style drama about some police officers who reconnect with their families don’t get annoyed when they’re stuck watching scenes of praying and bible groups instead. Because that’s what this movie is about. The cops find RELIGION first, and THEN they reconnect with their families. So for all you religious people out there: look! It’s a movie for you! Go rent it! The rest of you, steer clear.
I usually try to avoid talking about Japanese animation on this blog, mostly because I don’t like it and therefore know almost nothing about it. However, there’s not much else coming out this week, so I’m stuck featuring Redline, an anime movie about a racing series in space (not to be confused with the OTHER Redline, a live action racing movie that is not in space). This one is kind of like if you took the F-Zero video game, removed the controller, and made it even crazier. You never know – if you’re a fan of anime and The Fast and the Furious movies, you might like it.
Um… hasn’t this movie been made before? Hasn’t it been made before with Mark Wahlberg in it? Or perhaps I’m just thinking of the thousands of films, TV episodes, and novels that have also had nothing new to say about crime. Oh! He’s a reformed criminal forced to go back to being a criminal for his FAMILY! How original! Oh no! He leaves his family and they’re kidnapped! THAT never happens in movies!! This movie seems so over the top at times it could almost be a comedy. I mean, wrapping bricks of money around your chest with pantyhose to smuggle it? Is that the best idea you had? Isn’t someone going to get a little suspicious about your squareular paunch? And OH MY GOD the duct tape balaclava? You know that’s going to rip all your skin off, right? Sigh. This movie is far too stupid to warrant any further attention.
Again with the tired premise. Oh! We’re poor! But we like to sing/dance/choreograph squads of chickens in cheerleading. If only we had enough money to get to the big concert/competition/chicken chearleading rally so we can win big and earn our money/pride/chicken cheerleading badges. Add in the requisite puppy love subplot and you’ve got a successful Disney franchise. Having said that, however, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a movie pit Dolly Parton against Queen Latifah. That one scene where they’re fighting in the diner is very funny. I think that just might be enough to tip the scales from “ho hum, seen it” to “I don’t care that it’s a retread because I’m laughing so hard a Junior Mint flew out my nose.” If I have to see something this week (and I do) I’d rather give this a try then Contraband.
THE IRON LADY
I really want to see this movie. What a tough lady! I’ve only ever heard of Margaret Thatcher in movies in a context where she’s messing up some coal miners’ lives or almost causing a nuclear war or something. It’d be so cool to see the other side of things, because of course no one sets out to be the most hated Prime Minister ever. I’m surprised they asked Meryl Streep (who is not British) to play Thatcher. Sure, she does look a bit like her, but surely there was a British actress they wanted? Maybe they all hated Thatcher so much that no one would do it. Anyway, it’s a limited release, so guess whose theater isn’t getting it? That’s right! Mine! And yours too, if you’ve decided you want to see it. Those of you who aren’t interested – you’ll be the ones who get it. That’s just how these things go.
BEAUTY AND THE BEAST 3D
I looooove Beauty and the Beast. I kept the VHS tape far longer than I even kept my VCR. I don’t care that re-releasing it in 3D is just a gimmick to get more money and that the 3D is going to be that awful post-production diorama stuff. I’m just happy that I get to see Beauty and the Beast again. Beastly just did not cut it. And there was no singing. Or cute little teacup children. I’d go this week when it opens, but we’re taking our Girl Guides to it next week and I don’t want to ruin it on myself. Besides – how can you review a movie everyone has already seen? What good would that do?
A DANGEROUS METHOD
Call me crazy (hur hur, get it?) but I’ve never seen psychiatry as a particularly dangerous profession. Unless they’re psychoanalyzing serial murderers. Then all bets are off. The doctors in this movie, however, are not psychoanalyzing serial killers. They’re psychoanalyzing one lady – a crazy lady – but one whom they can simply not sleep with if they want. Being a) married and b) in a position of trust over a person who is damaged, not sleeping with the patient is a good idea. So at least one of them does it (sigh… men). And everything falls apart. Quelle suprise. It seems to be that the only dangerous thing is how stupid these guys are.
The trailer doesn’t give much of a hint as to what the movie’s about, so I’ll tell you what I learned from the theater website: these are two sets of parents who get together to work things out after their kids get in a fight. I can’t decide if it would be hilarious or annoying to watch. It would definitely be hilarious as a short film. These kind of oversensitive, postmodern parents annoy the crap out of me. Seeing someone make fun of them would be immensely satisfying. However, watching them bicker for two hours? Gah.
Since it’s the holidays and I have more spare time on my hands, I actually saw several movies this week: Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol (totally fun and awesome), The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (totally disturbing and awesome), and The Adventures of Tintin. I wasn’t sure which to review at first, but then I decided to do the one most suited to a family trip to the movies during the holiday season. And that movie is The Adventures of Tintin. The plotline is taken from one of Herge’s original Tintin comic books:
An intrepid reporter and his dog team up with a cursed sea captain to uncover the mystery behind a treasure filled ship that disappeared a hundred years ago.
I watched the Tintin cartoon avidly as a kid, so while I was excited for the movie, I was also a little worried it wouldn’t live up to my expectations, like most of the nostalgia driven 90s movies they’ve made in the last few years (Transformers, The Smurfs, The Chipmunks, etc.) But I should have known better. Any movie directed by Steven Spielberg and produced by Peter Jackson can’t help but be awesome.
I just loved Guy Richie’s Sherlock Holmes and have been looking forward to this movie coming out for months. Robert Downy Jr. isn’t British, but he can fake an accent convincingly (I think Renee Zellweger is the only other American to do this successfully) and his comic timing is perfect. So is Jude Law’s, for that matter. They’re perfect partners. The only thing missing from the last film was his arch nemesis Moriarty, so guess who’s showing up for Game of Shadows. (No, not Renee Zellweger!) I get only the vaguest sense of the plot from the trailer, but that’s okay. The last one had so many twists and turns in it that they couldn’t possibly have compressed it into a trailer anyway. I trust you, Guy Richie, don’t let me down.
MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE – GHOST PROTOCOL
After Tom Cruise caught the crazy virus, I expected the Mission Impossible movies to stop, but J.J. Abrams, in his quest to bring Awesome to more franchises, defty worked around the crazy and made a cool film in Mission: Impossible III. There’s no J.J. Abrams this time and the plot seems like it’s ripped off of the last Modern Warfare game, but I still want to see Ghost Protocol. I like the Russian connection (Russia’s popular again in movies and games – have we just randomly decided the Cold War is back on?) and I love anything with Simon Pegg or Jeremy Renner. I’ve gotta ask, though: what happened to the random wife (Bridget Monaghan) he had in M:I 3? Is she just going to never be mentioned again like that one movie where James Bond got married?
ALVIN AND THE CHIPMUNKS: CHIPWRECKED
I used to love Alvin and the Chipmunks as a kid, but like most of the 3D animated/live action attempts to induce nostalgia for old 80s cartoons (The Smurfs, Transformers, Garfield, etc.), this is more likely to induce vomiting. The kindest thing I can think of to say about the last film, which I took my cousins to see, is that it was a God-awful train wreck. Perhaps the filmmakers realized this. Perhaps that’s why they called this one “Chipwrecked” (in addition to it being a lame pun). Alvin’s voice makes me want to punch someone, and when they all get together and sing, it gives me chills. As in horrified chills. I’m hoping my cousins will want to see something else when they visit for Christmas, because I don’t think I can sit through another one of these movies.
The first thing I thought of when I saw the title for this movie was books – young adult (or YA) is a hugely popular subset of publishing, but when they say YA in the publishing world, what they mean is teenagers. What they mean in the context of this movie is all those slacker types who never really made it into adulthood developmentally, even though their chronological age is like 32. For most of us, this conjures images of unwashed boy-men playing Xbox 24/7 and living in their mom’s basement, but there’s another type – the type that’s in this movie. The girl who never ditched the bitchy teenage attitude. The Juno and Thank You For Smoking connections probably mean it’ll be snappy (maybe too snappy) but also awkward and embarrassing. I might pass. We’ll see.
Jack Black is far from my favorite person, but I like the Kung Fu Panda movies. In this sequel, Po the fat, unlikely kung-fu legend is tasked with bringing down an evil emperor who is threatening everyone with cannons. The opening backstory sequences are amazing, some of the jokes are pretty hilarious, and you’ll actually learn a smidgeon about Chinese history from the plot. It’s a fun movie to watch even if you don’t have any kids with you to use as an excuse. You can read my full Kung Fu Panda 2 review here.
The original Planet of the Apes tried to be really deep, but mostly came off as goofy because it features talking ape-people that didn’t even look that realistic. Rise of the Planet of the Apes, the prequel, achieves what the original was trying for. It’s about a scientist who struggles with the ethical implications of raising one lonely super smart ape for scientific testing purposes, only to have said lonely ape rebel and try to take over the planet. It’s science fiction, but accessible to everyone – like an action movie with a little science on the side. Check it out.
Fright Night is a remake of the 1980s horror movie of the same name, and has achieved approximately the same B movie status as the original, but without the possibility of a cult following seeing as how it’s been drowned in the glut of other 80s horror remakes. The story follows Anton Yelchin’s character as he tries to take down Colin Farrell, his nextdoor neighbor who happens to be a vampire (an evil one, not a Twilight one) with the help of Dr. Who… I’m sorry, I mean David Tennant. See it only if you’re not offended by remakes or already tired of Hollywood’s half-assed attempts at scaring you.
This movie came out on DVD a couple of months ago and wasn’t that great to begin with, but there’s not much else coming out this week so I’ll talk about this new director’s cut version. If you didn’t know, it’s a meathead action movie about a team of mercenaries played by famous meathead action stars (Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, etc) getting back together for one last South American job (full review here). The director’s cut has 11 extra minutes of things blowing up, a feature length documentary about how many things they blew up, and a Godsmack music video. Blech.
I really wanted to see Hugo this week, but to my utter shock, when I checked the listings, it wasn’t there. A big-budget 3D Martin Scorcese movie getting shunted aside like a two-bit Canadian independent? Impossible. So I complained to Empire Theaters. The email I got back was along the lines of “too bad, maybe it’ll pop by some other time” LIKE THEY DIDN’T FREAKING KNOW. It was at that point that I realized it would be pointless to continue pushing these idiots and settled for Arthur Christmas instead. I had hopes for it. After all, it’s Aarman’s latest film.
The bumbling second son of Santa joins forces with his aging grandfather and an elf wrapping specialist to deliver a gift to the one kid missed by their high-tech Christmas operation.
There’s really not much that hasn’t been said or done when it comes to Christmas. The militarized elves were done in Santa Clause and Fred Claus featured a screwup son of Santa, so it wasn’t the concept that attracted me. It was the involvement of Aardman, who has made some of the funniest cartoons I’ve seen, including Chicken Run and Flushed Away. I took a chance and found out I was right: Arthur Christmas is hilarious.
I’ve been really looking forward to this movie, and no, it’s not because of Martin Scorsese. Martin Scorsese is incidental. What’s important is that it’s a cute movie involving a Steampunk mystery that stars a British kid rather than an American (the one who was in The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, no less) and features the 30 Seconds to Mars song “Kings and Queens” in the trailer. I frikkin’ love that song. So I can easily forgive it for having a lame cake-wrecking joke in the trailer. In fact, I’ve been looking forward to it so much that I might just burn down our theater if it doesn’t get here pronto. I checked today, and it’s not in the lineup. This is a BIG MOVIE, Empire Theaters in Sydney, WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU!!!?
This movie reminds me of something that’s been done before… a combination of the “marginalized Santa family member” plot from Fred Claus and the militarized elves of the E.L.F. Sqad from The Santa Clause perhaps? But still, it’s Aardman/Sony, so that’s a big draw for me. Aardman have been behind several movies I love, including Chicken Run and Flushed Away. James MacAvoy is perfect as Arthur, and that’s a pretty clever jab at the American “no child left behind” education initiative at the end of the trailer there. I think it’s going to be worth seeing, but unfortunately it comes out the same week as Hugo. And you can’t beat Hugo.
When I was a kid, there were some programmes I only watched because they were on. Smurfs fell into that category. And there were others that I loved to pieces, like The Muppets. I still laugh every time I see Statler and Waldorf, and I’ve been a grown up for ten years now. I love the idea of a new muppet movie, but did they really have to put Jason Seigel in it? That guy is like everywhere, and he is not growing on me. I do like Amy Adams, though. And OH MY GOD they play the “munah munah” song. I love that song. I’ve seen the trailer a few times now and I’m still not sure what the plot is supposed to be. They’re putting on a reunion show? Is that the whole plot? Oh well, the whole reason people will be going is to see the nutso looks on the muppet faces as they flail around behind chest-high wall anyway.
I know at least half the world is waiting in line to give George Clooney acting awards, but I just don’t see it. Look at that scene where he’s sitting across from his daughter attempting to have a meaningful conversation. The daughter looks embarrassed and exasperated. Clooney looks blank, just like he looks in every other scene in this trailer. I’m sorry, but if I’m going to watch a character-based drama like this, I need it to star someone who can freaking emote. Even the robot dad from And You Thought Your Parents Were Weird is more lovable than this. I am, therefore, unlikely to see this movie. If I want to watch a dad/child bonding film, I’ll break out my DVD of The Boys are Back, because even Clive Owen can do better than this.
I suppose they’re trying to capitalize on all the Occupy Stuff protestors sitting around outside for various reasons by putting the movie out now, but is this what we really want to see as the Christmas season begins? A depressing movie about the terrible state of the economy? Yes, we like Zachary Quinto and Kevin Spacey and and Paul Bettany and Penn Badgley and Jeremy Irons and Simon Baker and Stanley Tucci, but even all of them combined will not be enough to induce people to subject themselves to a movie that will make them miserable when they want to feel happy. So they will go see Hugo and Arthur Christmas and The Muppets and forget about this until January, when their Christmas credit card bills arrive and they’re looking for someone else to blame it on. That’s my prediction.
MY WEEK WITH MARILYN
This is a limited release, so I was just going to ignore it until I saw the cast list. Emma Watson and Michelle Williams and Kenneth Brannagh and Dominic Cooper and Judi Dench all in one movie together?? Well I had to check it out. I’m not a big Marilyn Monroe devotee. I think all I’ve ever seen are the posters, which are pretty much a cliché now, so it would be interesting to see more of her life from a more personal perspective. And of course it’s British, so I wouldn’t miss it for that. I wouldn’t have thought of Michelle Williams as looking much like Marilyn Monroe, but I have to say she does pretty well here, from what I can see. I’ll add it to my list of DVDs to see.
This is another limited release, but I feel like I have to talk about it anyway because I talked about the last one. Is this a silent movie about silent movies? I have to admit, I’m intrigued. Some of my favorite episodes of TV shows have been the ones where characters lose the ability to speak and have to rely on their body language and the ambient music to convey emotion. (Check out Buffy the Vampire Slayer 4×10 “Hush” and The Fairly Odd Parents 3×24 “Pipe Down” to see what I mean) Holy cow that hand-in-the-empty-jacket thing is freaky, though! Anyway, it looks totally cool. I definitely want to see it. Sign me up for the DVD.
And in other news, the Cape Breton Film Series is showing a cool looking documentary called The Interrupters, which is about people who try to fight urban violence like it’s an infectious disease. Click here to see the trailer and decide for yourself. The show is at 7pm on Thursday at the Empire Theaters in Sydney.
The same type of thing happened to Breaking Dawn, the longest book in Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight series, as happened to Deathly Hallows – it was split into two films, mostly to make more money. I have every expectation that this movie will be as boring and drawn out as Deathly Hallows Part 1, with the added bonus of the obvious chastity/teen marriage element making me want to puke. But of course I have to see it anyway, because that’s what everyone is going to be wanting to read a review about, which makes all of my criticism pointless (from the studio/publisher’s point of view) because I’m still spending money on it. Vote with your wallets, kids, and don’t go to this one!
HAPPY FEET 2
Happy Feet was the story of a penguin who didn’t fit in because all the other penguins were singers and he was a dancer. Now, one generation later, the whole penguin flock (Clan? Mob? Community?) has seemingly converted to dancing AND singing and the original character’s kid sucks at both and wants to…. what? Fly? This is significantly more difficult to achieve, on account of his power-to-weight ratio. He’ll have to build a hang glider or something. And kids, that “penguin who can fly” is not a penguin at all. It’s a puffin. I thought the last one way okay, though, so I’ll probably watch this one at some point. Just not eagerly.
THE SKIN I LIVE IN
Okay… what the hell? What is this movie even about? So there’s a guy who licks surveillance videos of other people, a lady in a beige body suit who apparently lives in an art gallery, a guy chained to the basement, and Antonio Banderas making skin in a petri dish and squirting him with a riot hose? And then a lady in a burn mask kicks him in the testicles. So of course he gets to carry a gun (this is an Antonio Banderas movie, after all), which scares a lady so bad she decides to start walking in the woods at night and going to museums to consult with party dresses. Who made this trailer and what drugs were they on? If the whole movie is like that… extra WTF.
Oddly enough, the TV movie of this story seems to have come out long before the documentary. I remember hearing about it when I was living in Vancouver, and that was years ago. Cleverly, they set up the conflict between the people who wanted to be Luna’s friends and the people who take a hands-off approach to nature in the trailer, but didn’t give any hint as to who won in the end. Of course, you could watch the TV movie or you could look it up on Wikipedia, but it makes you just that little bit more likely to seek out and watch the documentary. I’d see it. I don’t even care if Ryan Reynolds is in it.
And in other news, the Cape Breton Film Series is showing Win Win. It’s a bland drama that’s sort of about high school wrestling which came out ages ago on DVD. Click here to see the trailer review and decide for yourself. The show is at 7pm on Thursday at the Empire Theaters in Sydney.