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Trailer Reviews for March 8, 2013

OZ THE GREAT AND POWERFUL



I’ve heard this movie compared to Alice in Wonderland and while it was meant as a compliment, I can’t help but be concerned. Alice in Wonderland was a little too much “look at all the cool stuff we can do with CGI” and not enough “boy, have I got a really great story to tell you.” It does help, though, that this is not the same Oz story we all know – with Dorthy and the little dog and the friends who are all missing their important bits. This is a prequel story about Oz, who has probably the least screen time of anyone in the original film yet somehow manages to be the most interesting character. I for one am looking forward to delving into the back story of the Wizard of Oz. On a side note – that was a cool thing they did there with the aspect ratios in the trailer. It gives me hope that the film will be clever also.

DEAD MAN DOWN



I’m a big fan of the original Swedish Dragon Tattoo movies. That trilogy was loaded with violence and it didn’t bother me but they almost lost me in Dead Man Down when she started talking about revenge. Too many dark/crime movies turn me off because the main characters are terrible people – revenge obsessed, self-interested, remorseless. I guess the reason I liked Dragon Tattoo so much – and the reason I’m actually kind of interested in seeing this movie – is that the main characters are sympathetic. Obviously the Terrence Howard character is horrible and needs to be stopped. Obviously some really bad stuff happened to the Noomi Rapace character that convinced her nothing but death would stop him. And Colin Farrell’s character is affected by the fact that he kills people. So yeah, I’d probably watch this movie.

STOKER



Apparently Wentworth Miller writes screenplays. Did you know Wentworth Miller wrote screenplays? I did not know Wentworth Miller wrote screenplays. I wish I could say I like the trailer for the screenplay he has written, because he seems like a nice guy, but sadly I cannot. I mean, it looks like it could have been scary, but it’s way too quiet. As in, quiet enough that I’d probably get bored watching the movie. Too many close ups of spiders crawling around and bits of gunk floating in water. Too many long awkward pauses between lines of dialogue. Too many blank faces delivering emotionless lines. I like all these actors in other things but here… either their characters are psychopaths who missed the ‘mimicking human emotion’ day in psychopath school or they were all having a bad acting day (year?). I’ll pass on this one.

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DVDs for February 26, 2013

breaking dawn 2

Breaking Dawn Part 2

The worst movie of 2012 is now available on DVD! Fans of the Twilight series will want to buy it and relive its insipid finale forever, while non-fans who are forced to watch will only feel like it goes on forever. The plot concerns a pair of vampire lovers and their vegetarian vampire/werewolf family protecting a creepy half human infant from the evil vampire ruling class, but all you need to know is that nothing really happens…. and it’s like three hours long. Easily the worst of the five films in the series, though they’re all pretty bad. Read my review for more.

Buy Breaking Dawn Part 2 on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

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chasing mavericks

Chasing Mavericks

No, this is not a movie about tracking down loose cannon fighter pilots. Mavericks are really big, really dangerous waves, and Chasing Mavericks is the (sort of) true story of a teenage boy who decides to surf one and enlists the aid of a local surfing legend named Frosty (no, he is not a snowman) to help him not die. As an inspirational surfing movie, it’s less annoying than Soul Surfer (too religious), but still pretty trite. The big draw is the surfing footage: apparently they lost six cameras just trying to film in the big waves. Check it out if you’re into the sport (or wish you were).

Buy Chasing Mavericks on DVD or on Blu-Ray.
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master

The Master

Quite a few Hollywood movies are thinly veiled takes on Scientology. Perhaps the thinnest veil of all belongs to The Master, which stars Joaquin Phoenix as an alcoholic post-World War II naval officer who gets sucked into a cult run by Philip Seymour Hoffman. It’s one of those movies that’s not very satisfying to watch, though, where everything falls apart and everybody is horrible, so the movie did well with critics and award committees but not with regular viewers like you and me. So I’m recommending that you get your cult on by watching episode 3 of Cracked instead.

Buy The Master on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

africa

Africa

This is a BBC documentary. It is presented by David Attenborough. Need I say more? Can we all agree that the BBC makes the best nature documentaries and that whenever a new one comes out you should watch it? We got quite a few fascinating glimpses into Africa during the Planet Earth series, but here the continent has a whole series all to itself. MOAR ELEPHANTS! MOAR LIONS! MOAR WEIRD ANIMALS AND SAND DUNES! The best part is, you won’t even realize you’re learning while you’re watching it (and neither will your kids).

Buy BBC Africa on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

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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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Beautiful Creatures Review

poster from the Warner Bros. Pictures film Beautiful Creatures

I hate Twilight and I haven’t even read the Beautiful Creatures books, but boy was I glad this movie came out on Valentine’s Day weekend because it meant I had an excuse for not seeing Safe Haven (*puke*) or the new (boring looking) Die Hard movie. What’s more, the trailer actually made the story look somewhat promising (i.e. not horrible).

A bookish boy falls in love with a spell caster, which may cause her to be chosen by the dark side on her approaching sixteenth birthday.

It’s pretty standard as far as teen paranormal romances go (except usually if someone’s normal, it’s the girl) and the couple was likeable enough, and I enjoyed it when I was watching it. It was only later on that I realized how confused I was by all the spell caster lore they try to cram in around the edges of the love story.

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Trailer Reviews for February 15, 2013

A GOOD DAY TO DIE HARD



Damn. For a Die Hard movie, this trailer is BO-RING. It’s forty seven snoozeworthy seconds before anything explodes. I looked through a bunch of different teasers and trailers on the diehardmovie YouTube account and they were all boring, right out of the gate. Classical music? Flat, uninteresting dialogue? What’s up with that? Are they making us wait for it? Do they think that just because everyone knows the Die Hard franchise that we’ll give it a free pass? Well you won’t get one from me, A Good Day to Die Hard. I think that the Die Hard movies are pretty reliably decent as far as meatheaded action movies go, but this trailer inspires nothing but apathy in me for the new sequel. I won’t be going.

SAFE HAVEN



Josh Duhamel, I think you’re hot. I went to see the Transformers sequels, despite the fact that I knew they would be terrible, because you were in them. However, I draw the line at suffering through another sappy Nicholas Sparks tragedy just to watch you get your smolder on. I didn’t mind The Lucky One because Sparks messed it up and the tragedy missed the main characters, or Dear John, because the filmmakers changed the ending, but I’m not going to delude myself into thinking it could happen again. Something obvious and terrible will befall the young lovers (who kinda sound like they’re phoning it in, actually) and tears will be slapped from your face. If Nicholas Sparks wasn’t so famous, the movie adaptations of his novels would be movies of the week on cable, not worldwide theatrical releases.

BEAUTIFUL CREATURES



I’m not a fan of these books. Hell, I haven’t even read them. But I’m SO GLAD the movie adaptation is coming out this week because it means I won’t have to pay like $14 to see the uninspiring new Die Hard movie or another godawful Nicholas Sparks movie. There are several things I find promising about Beautiful Creatures: the disintegrating Southern culture aspect (it’s not completely moving away from the ‘typical American teen’ cliché but it’s a start), the destiny vs choice aspect of whether the main character turns light or dark, the fact that it’s the girl who has the superpower and the boy who’s normal (in teen paranormal romance it’s almost always the other way around) and of course Emma Thompson as an evil witch. Emma Thompson! As an evil witch! Awesome. Looking forward to it.

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Warm Bodies Review

poster from the Summit Entertainment film Warm Bodies

I didn’t want to see Warm Bodies when it came out last week, because I thought the premise sounded stupid. Zombies cured by the power of love? What is this, Twilight? Way to ruin a perfectly good monster. But it’s amazing how much Warm Bodies seemed to improve when compared to Identity Thief (apparently written by someone with an icepick in their brain) and Side Effects (Contagion with extra boringness). So let’s talk about some zombies!

A zombie becomes obsessed with a human and decides to protect her instead of eating her.

I was expecting Warm Bodies to be Twilight with zombies, so I was pleasantly surprised to discover that it’s actually a smart satire on the genre. Movies like The Apparition have taught me that a good premise doesn’t necessarily equate to a good movie, but I had no idea a bad premise could yield a good movie until Warm Bodies.

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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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Trailer Reviews for January 11, 2013

ZERO DARK THIRTY



I’m excited to see Zero Dark Thirty for several reasons. Not because it’s going to be historically accurate, because there’s no way they declassified all this stuff already. It’s because #1. I loved Hurt Locker. That was also a Katherine Bigelow movie. #2. I always read/watch about Navy SEALs when I can. And #3. Hello, Joel Edgerton! Hi there, Kyle Chandler! Nice to see you guys again! Now, the trailer looks pretty slow, but that’s okay. This isn’t an action movie. It’s more of a mystery thriller… where you already know the end. I know, I know. That doesn’t really sound like it should work. But I believe it will, especially since it managed to dodge the bullet of being directed by James Cameron (he of annoying piles of money).

GANGSTER SQUAD



I can’t tell you how glad I am that Zero Dark Thirty also comes out this week. Now I have a good excuse for why I can’t go see Gangster Squad, which I already hate, despite the fact that I haven’t even seen it yet. Where do I even start with this? Well, as far as gangster films go, I’m sure it’s very good. But I hate gangster films with a fiery passion. I can’t sympathize with or care about the characters in any movie where the bad guys are the protagonists (I include brutal vigilante justice in my definition of ‘bad guys’… unless it’s being dispensed by Batman). Also, I can’t stand Ryan Gosling. I know he’s supposed to be some sort of heartthrob, but his eyes are blank and his voice annoys me. He sounds like he’s got something stuck in his throat. You know, kind of like a baby goose.

THE IMPOSSIBLE



I remember reading about this story on the internet (sort of). Only it was a little girl who saved her family because her science teacher had taught them about what the water looked like just before tsunamis hit. But I guess that wouldn’t make much of a movie. I do really want to see this (I doubt my theater will get it, though). It looks like a very dramatic and moving story. But it does make me a little uncomfortable that the family is foreign. Like somehow the regular people who lived there don’t matter as much as the white family on vacation. The sad thing is that if Naomi Watts and Ewan McGregor were replaced by Southeast Asians, probably nobody would go to see it.

ON THE ROAD



We did beat poets in high school and I discovered that I don’t like jazz, poetry, or the irresponsible, drug addled authors of same. Since then I have never, ever had any desire ever to read On the Road, that Jack Kerouac semi-autobiographical novel that so many people get pretentious and snooty over (no joke – it’s almost as insufferable as Atlas Shrugged). So why oh why did they have to put Garrett Hedlund in this movie? They KNOW I can’t resist Garrett Hedlund! This trailer makes the movie look like a giant annoying mess full of characters that I will want to slap, but I’ll still see it eventually anyway, because I have to. I hope you’re happy, Walter Salles.

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DVDs for January 8, 2013

Dredd

I wasn’t a fan of the Sylvester Stallone version of Judge Dredd but I was surprised to find that I really enjoyed this one. The plot was simple – a by-the-book future cop and his psychic rookie partner take on a drug lord while locked in a huge apartment building. The characters are pretty simple too – Karl Urban never so much as exposes the upper half of his face. So why did I like it so much? Because it was clean and uncluttered. And a lot of stuff got shot up. Read my review for more.

Buy Dredd on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

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Frankenweenie

Frankenweenie is the full length stop-motion animated version of an old Tim Burton short film where the young Victor Frankenstein brings his beloved dog back to life and causes havoc in the town. It’s pretty good, but the message is a little confused (Is messing with death bad or not? Is it ok to discriminate against reanimated corpses or not?) and there are some subplots that seem kind of shoehorned in because they don’t make sense alongside the rest of it. Read my review for more.

Buy Frankenweenie on DVD or on Blu-Ray.
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House at the End of the Street

Since Jennifer Lawrence is kind of an it-girl now, there will probably be a lot of people watching this movie just to see her. It’s not that bad. It’s about a girl and her mom who move in next door to a boy (Max Theriot) with a murdered family. But you should know that it’s more of a slow building thriller than a horror movie, so if you’re expecting a madman running around with a bloody knife, you’ll be disappointed. You should also know that climactic plot twist is pretty obvious to anyone with more than a single functioning brain cell.

Buy House at the End of the Street on DVD or on Blu-Ray.


Seal Team Six: The Raid on Osama Bin Laden

If you’re really excited to see Zero Dark Thirty, the movie about the CIA officers and Navy SEALs who went after Osama Bin Laden, and you’re too impatient to wait three days for it to come out, then good news! This terrible TV movie is about the same thing! And it comes out today! Sure it stars one of the vampires from Twilight. Sure it’s boring as hell. Sure the performances all sound like they were phoned in via a bad Skype connection. But you’ll see the story three days early. That’s all that matters, right?

Buy Seal Team Six: The Raid on Osama Bin Laden on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

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Top 5 and Bottom 5 Films of 2012


Well, another year has gone by, so it’s time to look back and see how the 62 movies I saw in theaters stack up against one another. This year’s best and worst movies were easy to choose but numbers 2 through 5 were hard, especially when I thought about them in retrospect – some big ticket movies were great in the theaters but didn’t hold up when I thought about them later. Others weren’t that great to begin with. In the end there were a lot of pretty good movies and a lot of pretty bad movies, but pretty doesn’t make the cut with me. Here’s what did.

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