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DVDs for Feb 4, 2014

gravity

Gravity

The #2 best movie of 2013 (according to me) is now available to own! If you’ve seen it, you’re probably already pre-ordered your copy. If you haven’t see it – buy one now. It’s the thrillingest thriller I’ve seen in… possibly ever. Sandra Bullock plays an astronaut with a tragic past who struggles to stay alive in space after her shuttle is destroyed by debris. There are some science problems if you think about it too hard, but that doesn’t matter, because the rest of it is so awesome. Read my full review for more.

Buy Gravity on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

thor 2

Thor: The Dark World

Coincidentally, the #4 best movie of 2013 (according to me) is also available to own today. Thor himself may not be my favorite superhero (or even my favorite Avenger) but his movies are full of fun, action, witty jokes, and science. Fun science, not real science. In this one, Thor teams up with his (girl)fan-favorite brother Loki and portal-hop-battles an evil elf who wants to take over the universe with dark matter. Awesome! You can read my review for more or just go buy it already.

Buy Thor: The Dark World on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

nebraska

Nebraska

The quote on the DVD box, from the LA Times reviewer, says: “one of those movies I’ll watch for the rest of my life.” “Because it seems like it goes on forever,” my brain finished for him. This is one of those movies you either love or hate. If you’re into indie art house American slice-of-life drama, then you’ll think it’s the bees knees. If, however, you don’t, the prospect of a crotchety geezer trekking across a dreary black and white landscape to collect a scam lottery prize, occasionally stopping to argue with other local caricatures, will probably seem boring and pretentious.

Buy Nebraska on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

twice born

Twice Born

In Twice Born, Penelope Cruz plays a single mother who takes her teenaged son to Sarajevo so she can tell him all about his dad (Emile Hirsch), who died in the Bosnian war. Normally I’m all for depressing stories about Bosnia. I liked The Whistleblower, Welcome to Saeajevo, and Savior. But I think they would have done better to focus the depressingness on the conflict and the people caught up in it rather than trying to shoehorn in the same adultery/betrayal/marriage on the rocks drama that we’ve seen a million times. I recommend one of the other three movies I mentioned instead.

Buy Twice Born on DVD.

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Top 5 and Bottom 5 Movies of 2013

new-year

2013 is over and it’s time to rank the movies I saw according to their bestiness and worstiness. As I paged through my review notebook listing films according to their secret star rating, I noticed three things. One: franchise films have done well with me this year. Two: I only saw 45 movies. And three: only one of them was bad enough to rate one star. My policy this year was not to waste money on bad movies, but it made me realize that bad movies have their uses. They force you to think about WHY the movie bad, and they make for hilarious reviews. I therefore resolve that 2014 shall be the year of using my Scene points to see crappy movies.

And now, the list. If you don’t agree with it, feel free to argue with me in the comments. That’s what they’re for. Just keep it clean, ok?

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Saving Mr. Banks Review

poster from the Walt Disney Pictures film Saving Mr. Banks

Until I saw the trailer for Saving Mr. Banks, I had no real desire to watch Mary Poppins (too cutesy) or read the book (because I had no idea it existed). But in the interests of knowing what the hell they were talking about, I read the book and watched the movie the day before I went to see Saving Mr. Banks. I was surprised to discover how different they were, a circumstance which is explained in this movie.

Mary Poppins author Pamela Travers refuses to sell Walt Disney the rights to her stories until the re-writes address wounds left over from her own childhood.

Now that I’ve seen Saving Mr. Banks, I’m awfully glad I ‘did my research’ so to speak. This movie seems to assume you’re familiar with the book and movie (though I think you could get by with only having seen the movie). You may be confused if you aren’t. On the whole though, it was a very good movie.

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DVDs for December 3, 2013

wolverine

THE WOLVERINE

Otherwise known (by me) as Wolverine Goes to Japan to distinguish it from the other standalone Wolverine movie from 2009, which wasn’t that great. Wolverine Goes to Japan, however, is pretty awesome, largely because it keeps things simple. Wolverine turns to a Japanese mutant for help after his healing powers are stolen as part of a ploy to take over a major Japanese corporation. It only loses points in my book by referencing X-Men: The Last Stand, which should be forgotten once and for all. Read my full review for more.

Buy The Wolverine on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

city of bones

Mortal Instruments: City of Bones

I really enjoyed the Mortal Instruments book series, and for a book adaptation, the movie is surprisingly okay. The story centers around a teenage girl who discovers that she belongs to an ancient race of demon hunters after her mom is kidnapped by bad guys. There’s lots of action, a well rounded main character, and some cool mythology. However the plot was a bit confusing, the boyfriend character was kind of odd looking, and my favorite character Alec was pushed into the background. Read my review for a full rundown or just watch it yourself. Book reading is optional but recommended.

Buy City of Bones on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

smurfs 2

Smurfs 2

Ugh, I used to watch The Smurfs as a kid even though I didn’t really like them. As an adult, I don’t just find them annoying and stupid but also sexist, pervy, and unfunny. In this second film, Smurfette (the ONLY female smurf in a community of several generations) is kidnapped by the wizard Gargamel so she can use a magic smurf-making spell (sex?) to turn his evil anti-Smurfs into real Smurfs for… some reason related to magic. But since Smurfette FOR SOME REASON has always felt “different” from other Smurfs she might not want to go home. Ick. Watch The Muppets instead.

Buy Smurfs 2 on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

drinking buddies

Drinking Buddies

This movie looks like a light, fun comedy about two best friends (Olivia Wilde and Jake Johnson) who work at a brewery together and COULD have a thing were it not for the fact that they’re both in long term relationships (with Ron Livingston and Anna Kendrick respectively). However it’s more of a funny-awkward dramedy with inappropriate flirting and breakups than a flat out comedy and things don’t work out as perfectly as they would in a true rom com, so if you’re planning on renting it, just keep that in mind. But for quirky indie true-to-life dramedy people? Perfect.

Buy Drinking Buddies on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

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DVDs for November 26, 2013

red 2

RED 2

I liked this movie when I saw it in theaters (though not as much as liked the first one). But after a few months, it sort of blended into the latest Die Hard movie: A Good Day to Die Hard. Russian setting, Bruce Willis paired with a younger person (his son in Die Hard, his girlfriend here), madcap action… the difference, I guess, is that RED 2 stars more old people, and that when it’s funny it’s because it’s supposed to be, not because the filmmakers are completely divorced from reality. Read my full review for more.

Buy RED 2 on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

getaway

Getaway

After the success of Taken, there have been many imitators. In this one, Ethan Hawke plays a guy who drives really fast. Some people kidnap his wife in order to get him to drive really fast for them. But they don’t give him a car, so he has to hijack one with way-too-young-for-him eye candy in it (Selena Gomez), and her computer hacking skills (such as they are) end up helping Ethan while he drives really fast. In this movie, driving fast is what throat chopping was to Taken, so I’d really only recommend it to you if you’re a huge fan of Mustangs.

Buy Getaway on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

jobs

JOBS

This movie is trying to be The Social Network, but since we already have The Social Network, it mostly just comes off as two hours of Ashton Kutcher alternately having revolutionary ideas and being a dick to people. It’s based on the popular biography of Steve Jobs’ life, which exposed his dark underbelly, but since everyone already knows about it, there’s nothing revolutionary about the movie. I’d only recommend it for big Steve Jobs/Apple fans, as I’ve never bought an Apple product in my life and my attitude toward the film is a giant ‘who cares?’

Buy JOBS on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

the canyons

The Canyons

Wow, I guess the studios wanted to make sure all the bad movies were out in time for people to not buy them for each other for Christmas. Most of the people who saw this movie were tricked into it by the fact that it was directed by the guy who did Taxi Driver and written by the guy who did American Psycho. But really, it’s just about a crazy dude (a porn star called James Dean, but with two Es) going crazy on the stars of his movie. It’s billed as an ‘erotic thriller’ but that was probably just an excuse to get Lindsay Lohan to take her top off (which, incidentally, is why the rest of the people saw this movie).

Buy The Canyons on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

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DVDs for November 12, 2013

man of steel

Man of Steel

Superhero movies are a major gravy train right now, with Marvel getting a LOT more gravy than poor DC. Green Lantern was a flop but this new Superman reboot struck the right chord. Superman as a lonely spaceman with crazy powers he has to keep hidden… until more spacemen show up wanting to terraform the planet he currently enjoys living on. Granted, half the earth gets destroyed anyway in the battles, but I think that was at least half the draw for most people. It’s no Batman Begins or Lois and Clark, but it’ll do. Check out my full review for more.

Buy Man of Steel on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

turbo

Turbo

Some animated movies seem silly at first glance but are actually clever and funny, and some just stay silly. Turbo is among the permasilly. The premise is that a snail (voiced by Ryan Reynolds, of all people) is exposed to nitrous oxide and somehow becomes a) fast enough to compete in the Indianapolis 500 and b) admissible in the Indianapolis 500 despite not being a car or indeed a large enough object for other drivers to avoid running over. Dumb dumb dumb. Maybe you can get past it, but I can’t. Kids will have an easier time of it, mostly because they’re used to things not making sense.

Buy Turbo on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

dear dumb diary

Dear Dumb Diary

For those of you who aren’t familiar with the Dear Dumb Diary books, they’re the girl version of Diary of a Wimpy Kid, but with a main character who’s less of a total jackass. This is a good quality kids’ film for a made-for-TV effort – it’s better than the Wimpy Kid movies – but it has the same problem in that it doesn’t really have a plot, just a string of school-related events. It’s also a little disturbing that the characters all look like they’re cute little 9-year-olds but dress and act like they’re 17 and about to dance back-up in a music video, but I guess the kids all do that these days.

Buy Dear Dumb Diary on DVD.

prince avalanche

Prince Avalanche

This is a weird little remake of an Icelandic film. It’s a character-based comedy-drama about two guys who spend the summer of 1988 painting lines down a Texas highway with a jeep and a wheelbarrow. Paul Rudd and Emilie Hirsch both play a little different than their character types (Rudd is less of a straight-man comedian, Hirsch is less of a surly teenager) but if you ask me, the real star of the movie is their dorky overalls. There’s a LOT more talking than action, but it’s an okay movie. If you like quirk and minimalism, it should appeal to you.

Buy Prince Avalanche on DVD on Blu-Ray.

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Thor: The Dark World Review

poster from the Marvel Studios film Thor the Dark World

Thor isn’t my favorite superhero. He’s not even my favorite Avenger. But when I’m ranking my favorite standalone films, Thor’s come second only to Iron Man’s. Why? Two reasons: hilarity and scienceyness. Thor was hilarious in the first half and then mostly gave way to smashing and arguing, and when I saw the trailer for The Dark World I was worried it would be ALL smashing and arguing.

Thor enlists his untrustworthy brother Loki’s help when dark elves try to unleash a weapon that will turn the universe into dark matter.

Luckily, my fears were completely unfounded. Thor: the Dark World was peppered with jokes and fun scienceyness all the way through, which officially makes it even better than the first film. I loved it and if you’re into sci-fi or action comedies, I think you will too, even if you haven’t seen Thor or The Avengers.

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Trailer Reviews for November 8, 2013

THOR: THE DARK WORLD



Thor! Hey buddy! Good to see you again! Any chance you’re gonna take a few minutes in this movie to stumble over some hilarious Earth customs? I’d love to be able to add something like ‘Thor Goes to the Grocery Store’ or ‘Thor Uses an ATM’ to my list of potential Marvel picture book plotlines. No? You plan on smashing things and arguing with Loki for two straight hours? Yeah, that’s what the trailer looked like. I just thought I’d ask. I’ll still come, of course. Because there’s Team Thor/Jane/Loki. But in the future, if you want to throw in a little more ‘myeh myeh,’ I’ll be really happy.

KILL YOUR DARLINGS



Ugh. Please, no more Beat Poets! They’re so pretentious and annoying! And the stories about their lives are always so messed up and depressing. I’m sorry, Daniel Radcliffe, you’re very good. But there’s no way I’m seeing this movie.

THE SUMMIT



Looks cool. It’s like the Into Thin Air for K2. They make it seem like there’s a big conspiracy but then one of the reviewer quotes describes it as a cliffhanger… I hope she meant literally because I don’t want to see it if they don’t at least decide on a theory as to what happened to everyone.

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DVDs for October 1, 2013

croods

The Croods

The Croods can probably best be described as “some cave people and their adventures with anachronisms” and will best be remembered (among my friends, anyway) as the reason we didn’t get popcorn buckets with Star Trek: Into Darkness on them. The movie is in the same vein as Ice Age, in that science and history are twisted in any way the filmmakers like for the purposes of plot and puns. Reviewers on IMDB are falling all over themselves to praise it, but I think that’s mostly because it looked pretty and the jokes weren’t (all) cringe-worthy.

Buy The Croods on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

this is the end

This is the End

I know a lot of people who think this movie is hilarious, but I really don’t like it. The main attraction is the fact that it stars a bunch of celebrities (James Franco, Jonah Hill, Seth Rogan, Craig Robinson, Michael Cera, etc.) as “themselves.” And by “themselves,” I mean I hope it’s not accurate, because the characters are all selfish morons. I can’t stand over-the-top crudeness or unlikeable characters and this movie has the biggest collection of them I’ve seen yet. Be warned that it’s really only going to please people who are already fans of the actors involved.

Buy This is the End on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

fright night 2

Fright Night 2

In this straight-to-video sequel to the 2011 remake of Fright Night, Jerry Dandridge the vampire next door neighbor is now Gerri Dandridge the vampire college professor who preys on visiting high school students who just so happen to be connected to the last film. Charley is still Charley (though played by a different kid) and Peter Vincent, the vampire hunter whose help he enlists, is still Peter Vincent (though played by a different guy) and the staking is still a staking. It’s brand new, so it’s a good choice for your upcoming Halloween party – no one will have seen it already.

Buy Fright Night 2 on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

ferb marvel

Phineas and Ferb: Mission Marvel

For all you Avenger fans who are off salivating over the Age of Ultron trailer, wait! Come back! The Disney Channel has done a crossover cartoon with one of your OTHER favorite franchises: Phineas and Ferb. Okay, so mostly it will just be kids who will watch this movie, but seriously grown-ups, you’re missing a chance to see Iron Man being wheeled around on a dolly. Apparently he, Hulk, Thor, and Spider-Man have all lost their powers and need help from the inventive, oddly-shaped stepbrothers and their secret agent platypus. YES REALLY.

Buy Phineas and Ferb: Mission Marvel on DVD/Blu-Ray combo pack.

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DVDs for September 24, 2013

iron man 3

Iron Man 3

A lot of people are upset with Iron Man 3 for not having much Iron Man in it, but it was always Tony Stark (not Iron Man, per se) that held my interest (and no, not just because he’s hot!) In Iron Man 3, we get a lot of Tony without the suit as he tries to bounce back from a terrorist attack that took out his house and avoid the glowy blowing-up people who are suddenly turning up out of nowhere. I liked it better than Iron Man 2 but not quite as much as Iron Man. You can read my full review or just go ahead and watch it. It’s great.

Buy Iron Man 3 on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

unfinished song

Unfinished Song

On the opposite end of the film spectrum from loud, smashy Iron Man 3 is Unfinished Song, a quirky comedy-drama about a crotchety old man (Terence Stamp) who joins a choir to honor his dead wife’s wishes and recover a relationship with his son. It’s just as good as Iron Man 3, but in a different way. Specifically in the way that it will make you cry happy inspired tears no matter how often you tell yourself it’s not affecting you. Rent it if you’ve been wishing someone would release a music-based feature that didn’t have any back flips in it.

Buy Unfinished Song on DVD.

kings of summer

Kings of Summer

Also on the ‘didn’t cost 5 bjillion dollars to film’ end of the spectrum is Kings of Summer, a coming-of-age comedy/drama about three boys who break free of their parents and spend the summer living off the land in a cabin they built in the woods. Kings of Summer has a lot of company in the indie coming-of-age story genre, as this type of movie is cheap to film and everyone (even grown ups) can relate. Kings of Summer isn’t as annoyingly anti-adult as some of them, so if you’re a Stand By Me fan (or a teenager) you should enjoy it.

Buy Kings of Summer on DVD.

redemption

Redemption/Hummingbird

In this crime/thriller/action/drama, Jason Statham showcases his inability to be anything other than an unstoppable badass. He starts out as a homeless vet and ends up as some sort of avenging angel roaming the organized crime world freeing the downtrodden. It tries to have depth and emotion and stuff, and though the tone is kind of noir-y, there’s still Jason Statham to contend with, whose face displays all the emotion of a brick. Not enough action for the shoot-em-up crowd and not enough emotion for the gritty drama crowd, this movie ends up not being for anyone but Statham fans.

Buy Redemption/Hummingbird on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

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