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Trailer Reviews for August 16, 2013

KICK ASS 2



I think I must be getting old, because I really don’t want to see this movie. I enjoyed Kick Ass well enough, mostly because they actually made a token concession to reality and had the teen superhero-wannabes get their asses handed to them. But this one just seems like a regular superhero movie – a bunch of people inexplicably able to beat up bad guys for the entertainment of the audience. Also, their teen smartassery makes me want to slap them in the face. Okay, maybe that’s just how I feel about Hit Girl. She just has one of those sneering faces you want to slap. So no thank you, Kick Ass 2, I am maxed out on your franchise after one film.

JOBS



I cannot express the depths to which I do not care about Steve Jobs or the overpriced gadgets he markets to ‘the cool kids’, so this movie would have to be pretty damn amazing looking to entice me. It’s not an impossible thing to do – I hate Facebook and Mark Zuckerberg but I still went to see The Social Network, precisely because they didn’t sugarcoat the story to make him look like a saint (actually, he comes across as quite a large douchebag). Steve Jobs was crazy (according to all the people I’ve talked to who read the biography, anyway) and some of it does seem to come across here, but they’re still obviously on the hero worship train. Oh, he’s such a VISIONARY he started a REVOLUTION. He’s being held down by THE MAN. Ugh. No thanks.

PARANOIA



This movie reminds me an awful lot of Cypher, except without the part where it messes with the audience’s head in addition to the main character’s. The premise also seems kind of sketchy. He’s a genius with technology, which would make him desirable to about a million Fortune 500 companies, yet they make it seem like the only job he can get is one that offends his morals (and, incidentally, the law). And then they turn him into Schmoozy McMoneybags because… why? Because technology companies won’t look at him if he wears a plaid shirt? Half of Silicon Valley rocks up to work in cargo shorts and superhero t-shirts. Also, way to give away the entire movie in the trailer. I’ll probably see it anyway, though, because my other options are a two hour Apple ad or a teenage snarkfest.

THE BUTLER



Here’s the movie I REALLY wanted to see this week, but sadly it’s not coming to my town. I’ve never even heard of the White House butlers, though, obviously, they must be there. I can’t imagine the President opening his own front door or carrying his own dinner plate. But that’s why it’s fascinating. Who ARE these people? What must they see in the line of duty? They’d be like Winston Churchill’s secretary, full of amazing stories about key points in history. It’s like Gosford Park, but as a historical epic. Thirty years, eight Presidents, Civil Rights, Vietnam, Watergate… and James Marsden as JFK! Hell yeah! Sign me up. My only real concern is that the movie might have had to sacrifice some cohesiveness to cover such as long period, but I’m perfectly willing to pay money to find out. If only I was able…

BLUE JASMINE



I saw Woody Allen’s name in the blurb and went “oh no…” but then I decided I was going to try and give him a fair shot. Watch the trailer. Treat it like I didn’t know he was involved. And guess what? It still sounded boring. Oh the trailer made it clear the movie at least had a premise – a woman is broke and has to move in with her sister. But then what? Then she complains a lot and people yell at each other and say awkward things that (I guess) are supposed to be funny. So no, I will not be seeing this one either, Woody Allen. Ever.

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The Wolverine Review

poster from the Marvel Entertainment film The Wolverine

I love the X-Men. Wolverine isn’t my favorite (that honor goes to Gambit) but he’s so gruff and hilarious I can’t help but care what happens to him. I thought X-Men Origins Wolverine was pretty good but I pretend that The Last Stand doesn’t exist. The trouble is, this movie doesn’t have that luxury, so I wondered: would the festering shadow of X-Men 3 drag it down?

Wolverine, struggling with his guilt over killing a friend, is brought to Japan to help a dying man he once saved from a nuclear explosion.

I wasn’t expecting anything profound from The Wolverine. When they tried to do profound last time (in X-Men Origins) all the fans made fun of them. So for this one they kept it simple – a one-off story that takes no leaps and doesn’t advance anything in the long run – like a comic book or a TV episode. And in that context, it works.

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Trailer Reviews for July 26, 2013

THE WOLVERINE



Wolverine was one of my favorite characters in X-Men and X-2 (we do not speak of the atrocity that was X-Men: The Last Stand), largely because he was so sympathetic. He was a broken guy trying hard not to fit in anywhere and failing. I thought X-Men Origins: Wolverine was pretty good but not great, mostly because they covered too much ground time-wise and sacrificed coherency of story. I’d like to see more of Wolverine but I have mixed feelings about this movie for several reasons. 1) They reference the movie that we do not speak of right in the opening seconds of the trailer 2) Despite being more than 2 minutes long the trailer still doesn’t give me much of an idea what the movie is about 3) Giant stupid robot.

THE TO DO LIST



I have major problems with this movie. The poster makes it look like it’s a harmless Judy Moody type tween movie, when in reality it’s brash and dirty enough to have a red band trailer. Hint – that sex list she’s working on contains more than just ‘hickies’ and ‘french kiss.’ It’s supposed to be a high school movie but the leads are 28 (Aubrey Plaza) and 34 (Scott Porter). Also, in said red band trailer, the actress introduces the film as a Valentine’s Day movie (it’s July) in a voice like a bored robot on drugs. The green band trailer also seems to indicate that bored robot on drugs is her standard mode of acting. In fact, I might even go so far as to say that Agent Phil Coulson spoke the only non-stilted line in that whole trailer. Interesting concept, poor execution. Skip!

FRUITVALE STATION



This trailer spends all its time trying to hide what happens at Fruitvale Station. This might have been a more effective tactic if they hadn’t a) outlined the entire plot in the theater website blurb and b) hadn’t based the movie on a true story everyone knows about from a couple of years ago. Hell, YouTube even suggests cell phone videos of the ‘BART Shooting’ after the trailer is finished. However, it seems like a pretty good movie otherwise. One of those: ‘let us move you by showing you the tragic results of senseless errors by persons in positions of authority’ films that film festivals go for.

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DVDs for July 23, 2013

trance

Trance

Danny Boyle movies rarely slip by without a lot of people taking notice and making a big deal over them, but Trance did, probably because it’s just not as good as Slumdog Millionaire or Sunshine. James McAvoy works at an auction house and his job is to hide the expensive paintings if thieves come to steal them. Thieves come, he hides the painting, then they hit him on the head and hire a hypnotist to mess around in his brain with the ultimate goal of finding out where the painting is. It deliberately messes with you, so if you don’t like being confused and/or frustrated, watch something else.

Buy Trance on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

riders of berk

Dragons: Riders of Berk

This ‘movie’ is really a kids’ TV series that has already been released on the Cartoon Network. There are only twenty 22 minute episodes, but for some reason Dreamworks went the Battlestar Galactica route and released them on two separate DVDs. Probably to try and weasel more money out of you. The show itself is good, almost as good as the movie, and it stars the same voice actors. Post-movie, the town of Berk has opened a Dragon Academy and each episode features a standalone problem that requires dragon and human cooperation. However, you don’t really need to part with $26 just to watch it. Someone’s already uploaded them all to YouTube.

Buy Dragons: Riders of Berk Part 1 and Part 2.

love and honor

Love and Honor

Now that Liam Hemsworth is well known as “the much hotter dude” who doesn’t get to be Katniss’ boyfriend from The Hunger Games (see the Honest Trailer), you might be looking to see something where he gets the girl. And boy does he ever in this one. Love and Honor is a sappy, stilted, weirdly clean-cut Vietnam War movie about a soldier who flies home on leave with his buddy to help the buddy win back his hippy girlfriend and ends up with a hippy girlfriend of his own. It feels like a god movie with the god stuff missing, but if you like Hallmark Channel movies, you might like it.

Buy Love and Honor on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

turtles 3

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Season 3

If the three Transformers movies aren’t enough reason to stay away from the Michael Bay reboot of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, buy these DVDs and relive the awesomeness of your childhood all over again. Then think of how bad the first set of live action films were. Then think of Michael Bay and how he’s going to turn April O’Neil into Megan Fox, and vow to keep your money in your pocket. Seriously, as long as people keep going to the trainwrecks he produces, people will continue to hire him to produce more trainwrecks. IT’S A VICIOUS CYCLE.

Buy Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Season 3 on DVD.

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RED 2 Review

poster from the Summit Entertainment film RED 2

I remember the first RED being a pretty big movie. Based on a comic book, starring a host of famous actors, and featuring lots of nice big explosions, it was a sure hit. It did well – enough to warrant a sequel, anyway – and then… something must have gone wrong, because not only did RED 2 premiere in one of the few remaining tiny theaters at my local megaplex, it did so to an audience whose members I could count on one hand.

A group of retired spies team up to uncover the truth when a rumor that they were involved in a secret op thirty years ago results in a government-sponsored contract on their lives.

I think it must have been a bad week for it to come out, because there’s nothing wrong with the movie. It’s as good as the first one was, with their trademark blend of comedy and action and a plot that twists and turns so much even I have trouble guessing what’s going to happen next. Far better than some dumb cartoon about a snail.

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Man of Steel Review

poster in the Warner Bros. film Man of Steel 2013

I’m not a fan of the old Superman movies. They’re too “Superman does super stuff.” It’s character that grabs me, so I much prefer the TV show Lois and Clark, which was “Clark does reporter stuff” with Superman as more of a hobby. I was excited for Man of Steel because the scenes of Clark as a lonely hobo led me to believe the movie might have the same focus on character.

A lonely refugee alien decides to use his super powers to protect his adopted planet from an attack by other members of his species.

However, now that I’ve seen Man of Steel I realize that they’ve invented a third category for themselves: “super alien does alien stuff.” So it’s action packed and it doesn’t rehash anything you’ve seen before (keep in mind I haven’t seen the comics or cartoons) but it doesn’t quite manage to become my favorite.

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Trailer Reviews for June 14, 2013

MAN OF STEEL



I’m not a Superman fan, largely because I feel like ‘Superman Does Some Super Stuff’ isn’t enough of a story. Superman is invulnerable, which makes him uninteresting unless we can delve into his personality. Sure his BODY is invulnerable, but he’s got feelings, right? He gets lonely, angry, has dreams, falls in love, right? That’s the Superman that I want to see, which is why I like that 90’s show Lois and Clark so much more than the old Christopher Reeve movies. I think Man of Steel could have what I’m looking for, which is why I’m stoked to see it. I mean, how sad is that music? How pathetic is little teen Clark’s face in that bus scene? Yup. This is gonna be a good one.

THIS IS THE END



Hmmm…. I don’t know about this one. I mean, the idea sounds funny. A disaster movie comedy starring stylized versions of famous actors (kind of like that one episode of Supernatural where Sam and Dean came through to our world). But I’ve seen a couple different trailers for this movie and none of them are very funny. The closest I came to laughing was when they tried to duct tape the foundation of their house back together. Sure, the red band trailer has a lot more swear words in it, but it’s not funnier. A lot of it probably has to do with the fact that I don’t like Jonah Hill or Seth Rogan, but in theory the rest of the cast should have been able to make up for it. I dunno. It looks like a dud.

KINGS OF SUMMER



“You’re right. It’s a classic kidnapping. They took our children and the canned goods and pasta.” LOL. That line alone would have convinced me to see this movie, but the rest of it is pretty clever too. It’s like Stand By Me, but less boring and without the dead body. They don’t even fall into the trap of making it look super easy to live off the land. All the people I know who tried it for any length of time ended up back at their parents houses when they got hungry.

MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING



Joss Whedon and the casts of Firefly, Angel, and The Avengers do Shakespeare? Okay, I’ll bite. Especially since I really liked that play when Kenneth Branagh made a movie of it in the 90s. It looks like another one of those ‘I’m bored, come shoot a movie at my house you guys’ projects (see Dr. Horrible’s Sing Along Blog). I could do without the black and white… and the ye olde English lines. But what the hell, I’ll still watch it. It’s Joss Whedon!

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DVDs for June 11, 2013

oz

Oz the Great and Powerful

Studios seem to be competing with one another to create more and more visually stunning movies to play in 3D. A lot of them forget to have a decent story to go with all the special effects, but Oz the Great and Powerful does pretty well. It’s a prequel to the Dorothy story which focuses on Oz the stage magician and how he ousted some evil witches to become the ruler of the Land of Oz. It’s a great movie to watch with kids (unless they’re little and/or easily scared) but it can be a bit of a struggle to like Oz himself. Check out my full review for more.

Buy Oz the Great and Powerful on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

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hansel and gretel

Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters

Updated versions of fairy tales are all the rage, but most of them, like Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters are pretty bad. Jeremy Renner and Gemma Arterton star as the fabled brother and sister, who become witch hunters after their encounter at the candy house. They’re both shallow and insufferable, the action is way too gory to make the movie acceptable for kids, and the writers seems to think anachronisms = steampunk. Check out my my full review for more on why even the Renner Factor can’t save this movie.

Buy Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters on DVD or on Blu-Ray.
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snitch

Snitch

If this movie is to be believed, it is perfectly possible and even downright acceptable for the relatives of accused criminals to offer themselves up as sacrificial lambs in order to free their loved ones from jail. Dwayne Johnson, here masquerading as an ‘ordinary dad’ goes undercover for the government in exchange for the DA dropping the charges against his wrongly accused son. If you can get past that bit of ridiculous logic and the fact that an ‘ordinary dad’ can hold his own against the combined forces of the government and every drug dealer in the world, you might actually like Snitch.

Buy Snitch on DVD/Blu-Ray combo pack.

Lego Batman: The Movie – DC Superheroes Unite

I love the Lego video games and I’m chomping at the bit to get a copy of Lego Batman 2. Seeing your favorite superheroes as Lego minifigures who get blasted apart and put back together as often as the scenery is hilarious for both kids and adults. This movie, which is based on the game, features Lex Luthor and the Joker banding together to destroy Gotham against the combined forces of the Justice League, is great for parents to watch with kids because there’s a lot of clever little satirical bits, just like in the video games. It will make you nostalgic for the old Batman cartoons.

Buy Lego Batman: The Movie on DVD/Blu-Ray combo pack.

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Iron Man 3 Review

poster from the Marvel Studios film Iron Man 3

Until 2008, I didn’t have a thought to spare for Iron Man, probably because until I’d only seen the suit. Then Iron Man introduced me to Tony Stark, and all of a sudden I’ve got a new favorite superhero. I mean, how can poor gloomy Bruce Wayne compete with a guy who’s as hilarious and intelligent as Tony Stark? Iron Man 2 was a bit of a letdown for me because Tony wasn’t as funny, but of course that didn’t stop me from rushing to the theater to see this one.

After an international terrorist blows up Tony’s house, he finds himself without his iron suit or Jarvis as he plots his revenge.

Because of Iron Man 2, my biggest worry was that Iron Man 3 would be too convoluted and not funny enough. Now that I’ve seen it I’m delighted to report that the plot is simple and linear (but not always obvious) and that it might have been even funnier than Iron Man. Go at once, I tell you!

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Trailer Reviews for May 3, 2013

IRON MAN 3



OMG Iron Man! I love Iron Man. He’s hot and he’s funny AND he dresses up as a jet plane to blast people with lasers. The first movie in this series is one of my favorite films ever and Iron Man 2, which I recently re-watched, seemed like less of a confused mess the second time around. Third installments of big budget action movies have a tenancy to try and pack about four movies worth of plot into two and a half hours (I cite Spider-man 3 and Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End as two of the most egregious offenders). But Dark Knight Rises pulled back from the drowning-in-plot cliff that Dark Knight was in grave danger of plunging over, and the trailer looks good, so I have hope, even though they’ve switched directors. Switching directors before the last movie is shades of X-Men: The Last Stand, so you understand why it has me worried. Fingers crossed for Tony Stark’s continued awesomeness.

KON-TIKI



Man, I remember reading this book in school. There was something simultaneously awesome and insane about a bunch of guys sailing a bundle of sticks tied together across a whole ocean just to prove it’s possible. It’s such an obvious setup for an adventure movie that I’m surprised no one did it earlier. I’ll totally watch this, especially since I don’t even have to watch a subtitled version if I don’t want to – they filmed it simultaneously in English and Norwegian.

THE COMPANY YOU KEEP



The synopsis for this movie on my theater’s website is both too long and describes the plot of the entire movie right up to the final confrontation. That’s not necessary. In fact, it’s detrimental. People see a huge block of text and they hiss, making the sign of the cross to fend off the dreaded devil: READING. The trailer did a much better job: focus on the drama. Dramatic string music. A twerpy little reporter digging up dirt on an old radical… what are the secrets this guy holds? HA HA WE’RE NOT TELLING YOU GO WATCH THE MOVIE. That’s what sells tickets. I might buy one if this wasn’t Iron Man 3 week…. and it didn’t star Shia LaBeouf.

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