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The Best of Me Review

poster from the Relativity Media film The Best of Me

This Friday was Halloween. There weren’t a lot of new movies at the theater to pick from, and even most of last week’s were gimmicky, phoned-in looking low budget horror movies. So I rewound the clock a few weeks and went to The Best of Me with my mother. After all: The Lucky One was pretty good, and who can say no to James Marsden?

A pair of high school sweethearts from opposite sides of the tracks are reunited twenty years later by the death of their mentor.

Mom and I both like a good love story. The kind where you float away from the theater thinking: “awww.” Our mistake was looking for one from Nicholas Sparks. The Best of Me was the worst of Nicholas Sparks: he created an adorable couple and then beat them to death with the Hammer of Tragedy.

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Gone Girl Review

poster from the Twentieth Century Fox film Gone Girl

I haven’t read Gillian Flynn’s novel Gone Girl (too many books, too little time, etc.) but I have seen David Fincher’s other movies (most recently The Social Network). That alone was enough to make me choose it over the creepy doll movie (news flash: china dolls don’t need any help looking creepy). The story for Gone Girl seemed pretty well worn.


A husband falls under public and police suspicion when his wife goes missing on their fifth anniversary.

I mean, The Fugitive, Prisoners, The Captive… same thing, right? NO. Gone Girl is all kinds of f***ed up. I’m really glad I didn’t read the book first and ruin it on myself. I will now attempt to describe the experience of watching the movie without revealing any spoilers.

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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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Maze Runner Review

poster from the 20th Century Fox film Maze Runner

I read a lot, but I didn’t get around to James Dashner’s Maze Runner before the movie came out, so I went in ‘blind’ so to speak, which is probably the best way to go with book adaptations. No one likes to sit there going ‘that’s not how it was in the book!’ All I knew about the movie came from the trailer: that it was like The Hunger Games, but all-boy.

A teenage boy with no memory starts asking questions that change everything for a community of boys living at the center of a giant maze.

While the The Hunger Games was all about survival, Maze Runner‘s plot is centered around figuring what the hell is going on. I enjoyed watching their action-packed quest for answers, but unfortunately when the answers finally came, they made no sense.

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The November Man Review

poster from the Relativity Media film November Man

Nothing really struck my fancy this week, even though I had three weeks of new releases to pick from. I guess the summer season is over. The trailer for November Man wasn’t inspiring – sort of a Spy Game redo with Pierce Brosnan as the trainer and some new guy as the trainee. Don’t fall in love, etc. etc. But I picked that one anyway and it turned out the trailer didn’t do it justice.

A retired CIA agent is pitted against his former student as he tries to find a missing woman before the CIA can use her to control the next Russian president.

Action-thrillers like Taken that pretend to be smart and complicated but are actually just about throat chopping are all the rage these days. What I like about The November Man is that you get the visceral throat-chopping satisfaction but with actual intelligence, complex characters, and plot twists.

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DVDs for July 22, 2014

transcendence

Transcendence

This movie explores the interesting (if unoriginal) idea that we can’t tell the difference between human and machine intelligence. After a computer scientist is fatally wounded, his wife uploads him into an AI, which immediately starts taking measures to improve the world and it’s people. But is it really? And who’s doing it, the scientist or the computer? Unfortunately, not a lot actually happens so it gets kind of boring. Read my review for more.

Buy Transcendence on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

heaven is for real

Heaven is For Real

When I type this title, it ends up as “Heaven Is Not For Real.” Freudian slip. You can yell at me if you want, but that won’t change the fact that even if you set aside the issue of veracity, this movie belongs to the same ‘hamfisted inspirational slap’ genre popularized by the Chicken Soup for the Soul series. A little boy has surgery, wakes up, tells his dad he went to heaven and met a bunch of famous people, and the dad puts him on TV to convince and uplift a skeptical public. It’s based on a “non-fiction” book written by the boy and the dad.

Buy Heaven is for Real on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

sabotage

Sabotage

My first thought was: how did Sam Worthington and Joe Manganiello star in a movie together without my knowing about it? (It was straight to DVD in Canada). The premise is a weird cross between an action movie and a horror movie. Arnold Schwarzenegger and a team of wise-cracking DEA agents who aren’t as witty as they think they are (a la The Expendables) take down a drug cartel safe house and then start getting killed off one by one (a la every horror movie ever made) on account of some missing money. It’s about as good as Arnold’s movies usually are.

Buy Sabotageon DVD or on Blu-Ray.

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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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The Fault in Our Stars Review

poster from the 20th Century Fox film The Fault in Our Stars

I wanted to see Begin Again this week, but all we got was Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, and as I previously mentioned, Planet of the Apes has overstayed its welcome. So my brother and I decided to go to a film from a few weeks ago: The Fault in Our Stars. I havn’t read the John Green novel (not because I wouldn’t, I just haven’t gotten around to it) but I knew it would be sad.

Two teens with cancer meet at a support group and fall in love.

I’m not opposed to sad movies per se. I’m opposed to tearjerkers. For those of you who don’t go to a lot of dramas, sad movies are like The Boy in the Sriped Pajamas. They’re all about conveying the reality of sad situations. Tearjerkers are like The Notebook. They’re all about hamfistedly slapping tears out of your face. This movie is the former.

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Deliver Us From Evil Review

poster from the Sony Pictures film Deliver Us From Evil

This week I refused to see Tammy on the grounds that it’s just a giant fat joke. I also rejected Earth to Echo, because I saw E.T. and have no desire to watch a remake starring annoying modern kids. Deliver Us From Evil didn’t look all that special either, but it had three things to recommend itself by: Eric Bana, Edgar Ramirez, and Sinister.

A police officer with a talent for finding trouble turns to a renegade priest for help tracking down a painter possessed by evil.

I was expecting hot guys and some good scares from this movie, but I only got one out of two. Eric Bana and Edgar Ramirez were still worth the ticket price, but writer/director Scott Derrickson failed to recreate the “I am about to chew my own fingers off” tension levels I remember so well from Sinister.

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Game of Dopes: Me Reading ‘A Song of Ice and Fire’

Ned Stark from Game of Thrones is a little dumb

I just finished reading A Dance With Dragons, the fifth book in George R.R. Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire series (that’s Game of Thrones series to you, if you only watch the TV show). Instead of reviewing it, I thought I’d give you a look at what’s going on inside my head as I read these things.

CHARACTER #1: I have a daring plan! It will bring me honor and/or glory!
ME: It’s a dumb plan. It will bring you death.
CHARACTER #1: Nonsense! I’m sure it’ll be fine.
ME: Yeah, that’s what the last guy said.
DEATH: Just so you know, I’m coming to kill you in 3…
CHARACTER #1: Who said that? Must be the wind…
DEATH: 2…
CHARACTER #1: Silence, craven wind-speaker!
DEATH: 1…
CHARACTER #1: Onward! For honor/glory!
*SliceBleedChompBurnSplatFail*
ME and DEATH: I fucking TOLD you.
CHARACTER #1: Oh, oh, I’m dying! Woe! Woe! I totally did not see this coming.
ME: I refuse to feel sorry for you. You’re obviously too dumb to live.
CHARACTER #1: Oh fine then.
*Dies*
CHARACTER #2: Wasn’t that dramatic? Are you moved?
ME: Try annoyed. I’m gonna go read a different book.
CHARACTER #2: Wait! Don’t you want to know what happens to me?
CHARACTER #3: Or me?
ME: Are you as thick as the other guy?
CHARACTER #2: Umm….
CHARACTER #3: Err…
ME: That’s what I thought.
*Leaves*
CHARACTER #2: Wait!
CHARACTER #3: Take us with you!
CHARACTER #2: Poop. I hate it when I don’t get everything I want.
CHARACTER #3: Oh but we CAN have what we want.
CHARACTER #2: How?
CHARACTER #3: I have a plan!
CHARACTER #2: Is it daring?
CHARACTER #3: Without a doubt.
CHARACTER #2: Will it bring us honor and/or glory?
CHARACTER #3: By the bucket! …if it works.
CHARACTER #2: Is this plan ill-conceived?
CHARACTER #3: Possibly. But I’m sure it’ll be fine.
CHARACTER #2: LET’S DO IT.

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