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Trailer Reviews for March 22, 2013

OLYMPUS HAS FALLEN



When I first read the name of this movie in the Coming Soon lists I thought it might be another Greek mythology movie, but I think this might actually be worse than The Titans Do Something Angrily Part 3. They had me interested in Gerard Butler’s character when he had to make a tough call about leaving Mrs. President in the car, but then they got into the real point of the movie which is… ridiculous. Like: plot-of-a-video-game ridiculous (I’m looking at you, Modern Warfare series). Armed airplanes swanning into White House airspace, barely two dozen random terrorists who are possibly North Korean toppling the whole Secret Service and then NOT KILLING the president for some weird reason? Isn’t that like terrorist goal #1? This movie looks dumber than Red Dawn, and it doesn’t even have that dopey kid from Drake and Josh in it!

THE CROODS



Oh Dreamworks… I thought we were going to leave the history-massacring animated movies to Twentieth Century Fox? And speaking of Twentieth Century Fox, isn’t the whole plot of this movie (Earth breaking up – must move!) plus the character of the annoying/abusive granny, lifted wholesale from Ice Age: Continental Drift? If they’re trying to compete against Ice Age, I already know they’re going to lose. This trailer didn’t make me laugh even once. I think they’re trying too hard to impress us with their colorful plants and starry skies and skimping on the originality (remind you of any other movies you know? *cough*Avatar*cough). We know you can do nice things with computers, movie studios. We’re not impressed anymore. Give us back our good stories.

ADMISSION



If this movie starred anyone other than Tina Fey and Paul Rudd, I would skip over it without a second glance. I didn’t laugh at the trailer. They gave almost the entire thing away (WHY would you ever think it would be a good idea to stick the “he’s your son!” revelation into the TRAILER?!) and on top of that… it just feels kinda blah. A comedy from the perspective of an admissions officer who’s getting bombarded with every sob story and rambling, narcissistic essay in the nation is original and could be really funny. But then they had to go and muddy it up with the “I’m suddenly a mom” thing, which could be funny (but isn’t) and certainly isn’t original. Poorly done, movie. Poorly done. And a waste of Tina Fey!

WELCOME TO THE PUNCH



Two things struck me about this trailer: 1) it is extremely blue. Like Smurf blue or Avatar blue. I’m pretty sure that’s not what they were going for. 2) It’s very laconic for an action movie or a thriller or a crime movie or whatever this is. I wondered why, and then I saw Ridley Scott’s name, and I thought: mystery solved. I like both James MacAvoy and Mark Strong, but this trailer has not made me want to see their movie.

KNIFE FIGHT



So… this has surprisingly few knives and fights for a movie called Knife Fight, though I suppose I should at least give them half points for talking a lot about metaphorical knife fighting. I’m not really sure what this movie is about, though. A political fixer who’s working for both sides in the election? That could be funny… though the trailer was pretty low energy. Overall I was not enthralled.

INAPPROPRIATE COMEDY



Didn’t I already disparage a terrible sketch comedy film starring famous people this month? Wasn’t it called Movie 43? I was barely ten seconds into the trailer and I already wanted to stop watching. I can’t see myself paying actual money to see this unfunny. I’m not a masochist.

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Titanic 3D: A Blatant Money Grab

This just in: apparently James Cameron is the greediest person ever.

You remember James Cameron. That guy who holds the number one and number two spots for highest grossing movie of all time (and is nowhere near the top of the list of best movies of all time)? Remember how he made that movie Avatar and made more than two billion dollars off of it, then re-released it like two months later with a few extra minutes of footage just so he could rake in another nice big pile of money?

Well he’s doing it again. Only this time he’s dredging up his old movies and slapping some of that diorama-level fake 3D on them that was so unimpressive in movies like Clash of the Titans, which is even more insulting than asking audiences to pay 2011 prices for a movie from 1997. What’s next? A $90 4 disc 3D Blu-Ray set of Ghosts of the Abyss? A theme park ride of Piranha Part 2: The Spawning? Where does it end?

I’m sorry, I liked Titanic as much as the next person (the next non-psycho who only went to see it once and never bought anything with Leonardo DiCaprio’s face on it, that is), but I refuse to be a party to James Cameron’s efforts to line his swimming pool with money.

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DVD Releases for January 11, 2011

The Social Network

I hate Facebook, but I loved The Social Network, which is a movie about Mark Zuckerberg and how he founded Facebook. This is largely because the movie doesn’t bow down before Zuckerberg’s computer/moneymaking prowess, but paints him as a socially inept jerk, which he apparently is, at least according to the book it was based on. It stars Jesse Eisenberg (you know, the guy who isn’t Michael Cera), Andrew Garfield (you know, the guy who’s going to be Spider-man) and Justin Timberlake. If you haven’t seen it, do. You can read my full review beforehand if you like.

Buy The Social Network on DVD or on Blu-Ray

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Alpha and Omega

Computer animation software must be dirt cheap by now, because every studio and its dog has gotten into making these movies. This one, which is about a pair of wolves getting kidnapped and escaping a wolf preserve, is by Lions Gate (you know, that studio that produces all those horror movies). It’s not exactly the freshest thing that ever hit the shelves – they hate each other, then they fall in love – but your kids will probably like it, and Justin Long (you know, that kid from the Mac commercials) does the voice of the boy wolf.

Buy Alpha and Omega on DVD or on Blu-Ray.


Piranha 3D

I don’t know if you remember the original Piranha, but it was released in 1978 and the piranha attacks sounded like an overstressed coffee machine percolating. It was hilarious. But in a way that it was meant to be funny, not that it was so bad it was funny. It’s something of a cult hit, but I wouldn’t have considered it a candidate for a remake. But here it is. It has some semi-famous people in it and it’s in 3D this time. That’s about all that’s different. You might want to give it a shot if you’ve got a 3D TV.

Buy Piranha 3D on DVD or on Blu-Ray or on 3D Blu-Ray.


Dances With Wolves: 20th Anniversary Edition

Remember that movie Avatar, how it was so new and fresh and original? Except really it wasn’t, because James Cameron ripped the story off of this movie: Dances With Wolves. It’s about a military guy (Kevin Costner) living on the frontier and identifying more with the natives than his own people… sound familiar? This film won 7 Oscars, including the biggies: best picture, best director, and best adapted screenplay. Watch it. Seriously. People need to be less impressed with Avatar already. The new edition comes with a bunch of documentaries and history guides and a fancy box.

Buy Dances With Wolves on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

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Tron Legacy Review

poster from the Walt Disney Pictures film Tron Legacy

When the original Tron came out in 1982, it was like Star Wars in terms of how many people flipped their lids for it. Back then, computers were glorified calculators that took up whole rooms and could only be afforded by very important universities and used for very important scientific research. A movie about using a computer to go inside a video game just about blew people’s minds. So naturally, Disney waited 28 years to make a sequel. It’s called Tron Legacy, and here’s the storyline:

The delinquent heir to a computer company investigates a page from his missing father and finds him trapped inside the computer world he created several decades ago by a tyrannical computer program.

It’s a cool idea for a movie, but Disney completely missed several boats, which will undoubtedly hurt its bottom line. First, there’s the technology boat. People who have grown up watching Reboot cartoons no longer find stories about the insides of computers new and different, even if Tron did do it first. And second, there’s the 3D technology. A year ago, it was new, and people flocked to Avatar just for the experience. And now it’s old and people don’t care anymore. So Tron Legacy is effectively stripped of its novelty factor and left to stand on the old fallbacks: story, character, setting, and special effects.

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Trailer Reviews for December 17, 2010

Coming out this weekend: Tron Legacy, How Do You Know?, The Fighter, and Yogi Bear.

TRON LEGACY



Why this movie isn’t in the Wednesday release club, I don’t know, because I really think it could have a chance at being huge. The original Tron was huge when it first came out in 1982 and this new one came within a hair’s breadth of being the first real 3D movie (unfortunately it lost to the pretty but generically storied Avatar). Garret Hedlund and Olivia Wilde are awesome – we already know that thanks to Four Brothers and House, plus we’ve got all that awesome stuff like light cycles and glowy outfits. They’re deliberately vague on the plot, so I’m reserving judgment on that, but I’m still pretty excited about seeing this movie on Friday.

HOW DO YOU KNOW?



This movie looks cute. I really like Paul Rudd and I really find Owen Wilson annoying, so it’s nice to see Owen Wilson in something where he loses the girl to Paul Rudd. Reece Witherspoon has been in at least half a dozen rom coms before, so obviously she knows what she’s doing, and Jack Nicholson is, well, Jack freaking Nicholson. So I expect this movie is a pretty solid bet if you want cute, funny, romantic, etc. I’d totally see it this week if it weren’t competing with Tron Legacy, which looks AWESOME! So I guess I’ll rent it later. Probably. If I remember.

THE FIGHTER



Ugh, another boxing movie? Oh he loses some fights. Oh he wants to make a comeback. Oh the odds are against him. Oh but he he’s got HEART. Just because it’s inspired by or based on a true story doesn’t make it not the same exact story every single time. Yes Christian Bale went and lost a lot of weight again. Yes Mark Wahlberg is cute, but there’s no way I’m shelling out money for a ticket for this movie when I can rent Rocky for like 99 cents. Not that I would. I don’t even like boxing movies. Make a movie about another sport for once. Lawn darts. Skeleton. Anything.

YOGI BEAR



I used to watch the Yogi Bear cartoon when I was little. It actually had a pretty prominent role in our lives – my mom made us sweaters of the characters and everything – but I don’t remember actually liking it that much. Yogi is annoying. And yet the annoyingness of the original Yogi doesn’t hold a candle to this. Live action CGI blended Justin Timberlake bear? WHY?! Oh pie in the face, ooh, what an original joke. This is even worse than those Garfield movies. I don’t care if it’s in 3D. That just makes it worse, because it means it’s three dollars extra. No thanks.

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DVDs for November 16, 2010

Avatar Collector’s Edition

Though it was released as a bare-bones DVD last April, this is the edition that Avatar fans (and also me) have been waiting for. It’s got the theatrical and re-released versions with the sixteen extra minutes (including the character-establishing beginning part). It’s also got 45 minutes of deleted scenes, plus documentaries and production footage. The only thing it doesn’t have is 3D, but that’s ok because my TV can’t show it anyway. Buy the Blu-Ray, because it’s got more on it. If you’re not familiar with Avatar, it’s a space movie by James Cameron about blue aliens and it stars Sam Worthington and Zoe Saldana. You can read more about it in my review here.

Buy Avatar on Blu-Ray or on DVD

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The Last Airbender

Adapted from a Japanese animated series also ironically called Avatar, The Last Airbender is about how a young boy who can control all the elements gets embroiled in a war. It’s pretty much universally hated, so I can’t really recommend it. Fans of the show complain about how much it changes from the TV series, and people coming to it fresh complain about how boring it is that everything is in slo-mo ballet-o-vision when it’s supposed to be a fantasy action movie. If you’re a fanboy or fangirl, however, you might be interested to know that Jackson Rathbone (Jasper from Twilight) and Dev Patel (Jamal from Slumdog Millionaire) are in it and that it was directed by M. Night Shyamalan.

Buy The Last Airbender on DVD or on Blu-Ray.


Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore

This is a sequel to the popular 2001 film Cats & Dogs, which I thought was hilarious, even if it was pretty goony and the special effects sometimes looked fake. The sequel solves the effects problem and is still as goony as ever, but it managed to attract people like James Marsden, Bette Midler, and Roger Moore to do voices, so it’s got that going for it. Plot wise, it’s like X2: X-Men United because the cats and dogs who have traditionally been at odds (the cats are evil, of course) have to team up. Rent it for the kids, but don’t expect too much. The Blu-Ray version even comes in 3D.

Buy Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore on DVD or on Blu-Ray.


The Kids Are Alright

Ah ha! And here you were thinking there weren’t going to be any really original and intelligent movies this week! But you were wrong, because The Kids Are Alright is coming to DVD. No it has nothing to do with The Who. If you haven’t heard about it, it’s a very funny and engaging dramedy about a pair of kids with two moms who go looking for their sperm donor dad and the merry havoc his presence wreaks on their carefully ordered lives. It’s not just entertaining but relevant, considering there’s a woman in BC trying to force sperm clinics to hand over their records to kids born of artificial insemination. It stars Julianne Moore, Annette Benning, and Mark Ruffalo.

Buy The Kids Are Alright on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

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Trailer Reviews for Sept. 10, 2010

It’s a slow week for movies. That means I have a choice between Resident Evil: Afterlife, and Resident Evil: Afterlife. I’ll try to contain my enthusiasm. For those of you who live in Halifax and beyond, you’ve got a few more options. Flipped (which I talked about on August 6th) is back, as is The Disappearance of Alice Creed, which I talked about on August 13th . There’s also a documentary on Joan Rivers and short drama on Afghan refugees to choose from.

RESIDENT EVIL: AFTERLIFE



So, Resident Evil: Afterlife is the third sequel to Resident Evil, which is based on a series of zombie video games. It’s also the first movie (after Avatar) to use James Cameron’s special 3D filming technique. The movie is so proud of this fact that it touts it for two straight minutes in the trailer. 3D movies are usually overreliant on visual gimmicks to generate interest, so I guess can assume from the fact that that trailer told us absolutely nothing about the story that there IS no story to speak of. There are zombies, monsters, and a girl with a sword. All the middle bits are filled up with scenes that show off the 3D, like throwing stars coming at you or water flying up. I am not hopeful that this movie will be worth the $15 they’re going to charge me to see it, but I don’t really have a choice. You do. Choose wisely, grasshopper.

JOAN RIVERS: A PIECE OF WORK



A documentary that got rated R? Now that’s interesting. Not surprising, just interesting. After all, the subject of the documentary is a stand up comedian, not a sea turtle. It probably got the rating for raunchy jokes. It’s true what she says in the trailer, that she’s kind of the plastic surgery gone wrong poster girl and that people don’t generally say nice things about her, but she keeps on trucking, which you have to respect. This documentary seems like it has what she really thinks in it, and what’s really going on behind the scenes, not just the platitudes and outright lies that actors usually tell for DVD featurette interviews and stuff. I’d like to see it.

HEIRAN



You’d never guess from watching the trailer that this movie is about an Iranian girl who falls for an illegal Afghan immigrant and fights with her parents/society over it. I guess they wanted a trailer with no dialogue so they could release it everywhere with no extra work, but it just made it look like a movie about chasing after busses. It almost looked like a farcical rom com in the beginning. It’s a failure of trailer, because it doesn’t give you enough information to decide whether you want to see the film or not. That’s an automatic “no” for most people, me included. If they can’t put together a coherent story in 2 minutes, how can they do it in two hours?

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Trailer Reviews for August 27, 2010

ANIMAL KINGDOM



Another trailer for one of those award winning movies that never quite gets around to telling you what the plot is… which leads me to suspect that the plot is either nonexistent or too convoluted to sum up in two minutes. Since this movie is Australian, I’m guessing the latter. Normally I wouldn’t be interested in a convoluted movie about (yet another) crime family (what is it with crime families? They’re not THAT interesting), but since it’s Australian, the acting will probably be really good, so it might be worth a look. I mean, Guy Pearce is in it… with a ridiculous Magnum P.I. mustache, but still. It speaks well for the film (Guy Pearce, not the mustache).

TAKERS



Paul Walker is a clone, Hayden Christenson always tries too hard, Zoe Saldana has turned into an attention-sucking vortex since she was in Avatar, and I hate Mat Dillon. Then add in a cast of characters who are jerks and criminals and you’ve got exactly the type of movie I don’t want to see. Now, obviously I’m prejudiced, so there are plenty of people who won’t feel the same way. If you love heist movies and you don’t feel like nine million heist movies being made in about five years is too much, you’ll probably like this movie. Just don’t ask me to go see it with you.

THE LAST EXORCISM



The Last Exorcism looks like it’s trying to capitalize on the success of two different films The Exorcist (obviously) and Paranormal Activity (by trying to look like a sketchily shot documentary). As with most movies that don’t bring anything new to the table, it looks pretty standard. There’s nothing in here that hasn’t been done before, but it’s hard to tell from the trailer if they manage to create actual tension (which is the most important part of a horror movie). Those running around in the dark bits make me think maybe they did, so if you like scary movies, maybe give this one a try. I think I might, given it’s lack of competition this week.

AVATAR RE-RELEASE



If there’s one thing you can say about James Cameron, it’s that he loves money, and he knows how to make it. As if his 3D extravaganza of epic blueness didn’t make enough the first time around ($2.7 billion), he’s sticking in a couple extra minutes of footage and releasing it again. If you’ve seen it already I wouldn’t bother. If the sixteen extra minutes were important they would’ve been in it the first time around (when it was ONLY two and a half hours long) and they’re not new real Sam Worthington parts, only more blue parts. But if you haven’t seen it, just go already so everyone in the world will have seen it and James Cameron can stop insisting that his movie needs to stay around in theaters taking up space that could be given to newer 3D movies. All’s I can say is that it better give way when The Legend of the Guardians comes around or I’ll be mad. You can read the full review of the original Avatar here.

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Trailer Reviews for the Weekend of July 2nd, 2010

There are two big movies coming out this weekend… well, I say “coming out” in the sense that they’ve already come out because they were too impatient to wait for the actual weekend. Twilight: Eclipse had teenage girls lining up for in on Wednesday morning and The Last Airbender (formerly Avatar: The Last Airbender but they dropped the “Avatar” part so they wouldn’t be confused with James Cameron’s blue thing) premieres tonight. Making their appearances on the actual weekend will be Solitary Man and the limited release of The Girl Who Played With Fire. Hopefully my trailer reviews will help you decide if any of them are worth your time.
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How to Make a Hollywood Action Movie

I have money (sometimes). I like to spend that money on tickets to action movies. GOOD action movies. Action movies that make me go “Yessss! That is so AWESOME!” not “Guuuugh, that is sooo LAME!” I have seen a disturbing number of the latter type films in theaters lately so I thought current and future Hollywood producer types might appreciate (okay, more NEED than appreciate) this guide on how to get my money from me.

You could be forgiven for looking at the less-than-stellar repertoire of action stars like Steven Segal or Jean Claude Van Damme and extrapolating the formula for making a successful Hollywood action film as follows:

The Hollywood Action Equation: Boobs + Bombs = Money

Roughly translated as: boobs plus bombs equals massive pile of money

But if all you want is successful, go back to Underachievers Anonymous, because you’re obviously not getting the message. Film is an art form as well as an entertainment medium. Contribute, dammit! You should be aiming for maximum entertainment value: and that means making a GOOD action movie.
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