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Dark Knight Rises Review

poster from the Legendary Pictures film Dark Knight Rises

Batman Begins is one of my favorite movies of all time, but The Dark Knight disappointed me. With a 2 hour 44 minute running time, I was worried the third and final entry in Christopher Nolan’s Batman reboot would be more of the same convoluted rambing that put me off of The Dark Knight. It didn’t help that the trailers were maddeningly tight lipped about the plot, which usually means it’s too complicated to sum up.

The city of Gotham falls prey to a masked villain named Bane as it anxiously awaits the return of the vilified vigilante known as the Batman.

But of course I went to the movie anyway because it’s Batman and I love Batman. I was pleasantly surprised to find that this movie was far superior to The Dark Kight and almost on par with Batman Begins: simple, direct, tight – The Dark Knight Rises was the perfect end to the trilogy.

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Trailer Reviews for July 20, 2012

THE DARK KNIGHT RISES



Batman has always been my favorite superhero and I loved Batman Begins, BUT I wasn’t tremendously impressed by The Dark Knight like everyone else in the world was. The story was a little too rambling and cluttered. I want to trust that this will be better, but I’ve had a look at the running time (2 hours 44 minutes!) and I just don’t think it will be. I think it will be worse. The trouble is that they give you so little to work with in the trailer(s) that the plot could be about anything. All we know is that Catwoman is in it, that Batman goes somewhere at some point. and that the ending will be so endy that it will not be possible to make anymore movies. Sounds nice and uplifting (not) but sometimes the darkest movies are the awesomest. I hope it’s the awesomest. Please be the awesomest. They really can’t justify keeping me in a theater for 2 hours and 44 minutes if it’s not going to blow my mind… can they?

MOVING DAY



I see there is only one film brave (or stupid) enough to face up against Dark Knight Rises this weekend: and I’ve never heard of it. Actually, I’m glad. It looks like something I’d actively avoid anyway. It’s my least favorite Mad TV alumni (Will Sasso) starring in a movie made by the creator of my least favorite TV show (Trailer Park Boys) about (one of) my least favorite subjects: losers acting like losers. Add that to the fact that it’s set in Canada (so it’s probably only going to be in a few theaters anyway) and you’ve got a movie that only the families and friends of the people involved are going to see – AFTER they’ve all seen Dark Knight Rises.

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Amazing Spider-Man Review

poster from the Marvel Studios film Amazing Spider-Man

Superheroes are “in” these days. So “in” that they’re revamping old film franchises like Spider-man, which, it could be argued, set off the modern superhero filmmaking trend in the first place only a few years ago. So why, instead of giving lesser known superheroes like, say HAWKEYE and BLACK WIDOW their own movies, are they making yet another Spider-Man film? This time they claim to have something new and different: parent drama.

The son of a famous missing scientist finds the secret to cross-species genetics, accidentally turning himself into a spidery hero and his mentor into a giant destructive lizard.

Another thing that’s different is that the movie is filmed in 3D, which does not matter to me. All that matters to me is the storytelling, so although I will admit the new film is more acrobatic than the old, and that it’s not a bad movie per se, it’s not different enough to justify its existence.

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The Avengers Review

poster from the Marvel Studios film The Avengers

The first of the summer blockbusters is here! (unless you want to count The Hunger Games, in which case, the second of the summer blockbusters is here!) Marvel has been winding us up for this movie ever since Iron Man 2 so The Avengers was going to have to be pretty freaking awesome to live up to all the hype, especially considering how good Iron Man, Thor, and Captain America were. And to be honest, the trailer didn’t inspire a lot of confidence.

Six superheroes butt heads when they are forced to team up against a demigod with plans to lead an alien army against the earth.

The “alien army taking over the earth” thing has, quite frankly, been done to death, but with Joss Whedon (otherwise known as God to all nerdkind) at the helm and half of the population of my awesome list in the cast, I had to believe The Avengers was more than it seemed. And I’m sad to say that it wasn’t. It was funny (Joss-style), it was action-packed, but it was also a little disappointing.

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DVDs for March 13, 2012

The Adventures of Tintin

As a kid, I loved to watch the Tintin cartoon show. It was so funny and full of adventure. If you remember the show, watching this movie will make you feel like a kid again. This time, Tintin the intrepid reporter and his faithful pals Snowy the dog and Captain Haddock are rendered in eerily realistic motion capture animation as they search for a ship full of sunken treasure. This movie is a great way to get your jaded kids to indulge you in your nostalgia-fest, but I wouldn’t show it to really young kids, as it deals with alcoholism. You can read my full review here.

Buy The Adventures of Tintin on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

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Three Musketeers

If Tintin is an example of a movie that is really good at being both actiony and funny, Three Musketeers is an example of one that’s very bad at it. It’s an irreverent period retelling of the classic story about a young man who joins an elite trio of swordsmen who work for the French king, but it’s so loaded with cliches, plot holes, ridiculously impossible feats, and ripoffs of other movies that it’s really irritating to watch. Plus, Logan Lerman’s smarmy attitude will make you want to slap his face. Avoid it, if at all possible. You can read my full review here.

Buy Three Musketeers on DVD or on Blu-Ray.
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Happy Feet 2

If you just can’t get enough dancing penguins, this is the movie you want to rent. It’s a sequel that focuses on the son of the main character from Happy Feet, who is like his dad in that he just doesn’t fit in with the other penguins. They sing and dance, he wants to fly. It’s a little bit like Chicken Run, but more convoluted and not as funny. And, obviously, more dancing and singing. The dancing and singing will keep young kids entertained, but older ones will probably be annoyed, because it’s not as good as the first one or indeed most CGI movies these days.

Buy Happy Feet 2 on DVD or on Blu-Ray.


The Descendants

If you’re working your way through the Oscar winners, this one is probably next on your list. If it is, I don’t envy you. It may have won Best Adapted Screenplay, but it’s still the same boring family drama we see over and over. There’s a dad, he works too much, his wife suddenly knocks herself out of the picture, he has to reconnect with his kids, everyone’s upset, blah blah fighting heartbreak and hugging. As a George Clooney unfan, I have to admit I’m biased, but that’s not going to stop me from advising you to rent something else. Preferably something without George Clooney in it.

Buy The Descendants on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

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Top 5/Bottom 5 of 2011

It’s the New Year, which means all of the movie sites are slapping together “Best of” lists and starting their Oscar predictions. I don’t bother with Oscar predictions (that would require caring about the Oscars) but I do like to put together a Top 5/Bottom 5 just in case you missed something good or want to revisit a terrible movie and make fun of it some more. Only movies that I’ve seen count, so there are about 65 movies in contention out of the six million or so that were released in 2011. My criteria for winners and losers are rather nebulous – it all boils down to how I feel about it rather than acting or the directing or the effects or whatever.

Wondering if I picked what you’d pick? Click below to find out!

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The Adventures of Tintin Review

poster from the Paramount Pictures film The Adventures of Tintin

Since it’s the holidays and I have more spare time on my hands, I actually saw several movies this week: Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol (totally fun and awesome), The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (totally disturbing and awesome), and The Adventures of Tintin. I wasn’t sure which to review at first, but then I decided to do the one most suited to a family trip to the movies during the holiday season. And that movie is The Adventures of Tintin. The plotline is taken from one of Herge’s original Tintin comic books:

An intrepid reporter and his dog team up with a cursed sea captain to uncover the mystery behind a treasure filled ship that disappeared a hundred years ago.

I watched the Tintin cartoon avidly as a kid, so while I was excited for the movie, I was also a little worried it wouldn’t live up to my expectations, like most of the nostalgia driven 90s movies they’ve made in the last few years (Transformers, The Smurfs, The Chipmunks, etc.) But I should have known better. Any movie directed by Steven Spielberg and produced by Peter Jackson can’t help but be awesome.

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DVDs for October 25, 2011

Captain America

I’m a sucker for underdogs, World War II, science fiction, and airplanes, so I loved Captain America. It’s the last Marvel comic book movie before The Avengers and it follows a shrimpy but determined soldier as he gets artificially pumped up and takes on an evil Nazi science division. It’s got the same sort of tone as the movies from that period, but with more depth of character and of course, humor. Rent it. Now. You can read my full review for confirmation of its awesomeness and pictures of Chris Evans in tights.

Buy Captain America on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

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Winnie the Pooh

A lot of older cartoon franchises have been rebooted so they can incorporate modern CGI and 3D and pop culture references (Transformers, Smurfs, Ninja Turtles, etc.) but thankfully Disney resisted the urge to go that route with Winnie the Pooh. The animation is still 2D and the tone is the same. They went back to the original books for the story, which features Pooh and friends having a contest to replace Eyore’s lost tail. This one is good choice for young kids or nostalgic adults, or both.

Buy Winnie the Pooh on DVD or on Blu-Ray.
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Attack the Block

Attack the Block is like a cross between Alien vs Predator Requiem and Home Alone. In it, a bunch of London teenagers pit their gang against a horde of invading fangy dog type aliens in the ultimate “turf war.” It’s produced by the people who did Shaun of the Dead, so it’s a good choice if you like that dry, British approach to blood and comedy… and you’re a teenager. Their accents are pretty thick, though, so if you’re North American you may find yourself watching it with the subtitles on.

Buy Attack the Block on DVD or on Blu-Ray.
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Wrong Turn 4: Bloody Beginnings

This is another one of those movies where the sequels (or prequels in this case) are more like remakes, since generally speaking no one other than the villain is left alive at the end of any given outing. To continue the story, replace the characters and possibly the setting and repeat. In this one, they changed the vehicle, characters, and season. A group of friends get lost on snowmobiles and take shelter in an abandoned sanatorium (I think I’d rather freeze). Naturally, they are set upon and killed. For horror fans only.

Buy Wrong Turn 4 on DVD or on Blu-Ray
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DVDs for October 17, 2011

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides

This is the fourth installment of the film series, which was resurrected after the end of the trilogy without Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightley. Though Johnny Depp was undoubtedly the soul of the franchise, the movie still suffers from the lack of these two “normal” characters as crazy Captain Jack Sparrow staggers through the movie on a search for the fountain of youth with a love interest he doesn’t really connect with. Fun, but not up to the level of the first three films. You can read my full On Stranger Tides review here.

Buy Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides on DVD, on Blu-Ray or in 3D.

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Bad Teacher

All the teachers I know love this movie. In it, Cameron Diaz’s character does everything real teachers have always wished they could do: swear at students, tell off parents, dress inappropriately, and just generally not care about their job performance. She’s also looking to get in the pants of the school’s most perfect teacher (played by Justin Timberlake) by pretending to give a crap about her job. The comedy is the usual R-rated sex jokes. It’s a little too vulgar for me, and Cameron Diaz’s character is just a little too horrible, but that probably won’t stop you from enjoying it, especially if you’re a teacher.

Buy Bad Teacher on DVD or on Blu-Ray.
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Monte Carlo

It’s a cutesy tale aimed at tween girls, but I have to confess that I really did like this movie. It’s got a vaguely Prince and the Pauper style plot where a recent American high school grad takes over the life of her rich British lookalike in Monte Carlo, except the lookalike doesn’t know about it. There are three concurrent love stories in this film, one for each of the girls, but what I liked best is that they didn’t try to pretend that Leighton Meester and Kate Cassidy were teenagers too. This is one movie moms may not actually mind watching with their daughters.

Buy Monte Carlo on DVD or on Blu-Ray.


Batman: Year One

Have you ever wished that you could watch Batman Begins, but this time in cartoon form? Have you ever tried to make the pictures in Frank Miller’s Year One comic move by flipping through them really fast? Then this is the movie for you. Done in a similar animation style to the cartoon we used to watch as kids in the 90s, Batman: Year One tries to tap into the Christopher Nolan grit that has recently revitalized the series. Though the animation style clashes with the tone, fans of the Batman series will probably find something to like about it. Personally, I’d just rewatch Batman Begins.

Buy Batman: Year One on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

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DVDs for October 11, 2011

Green Lantern

Normally, I love science fiction and superhero movies, but Green Lantern was a big letdown. Ryan Reynolds plays a jerkoff Air Force test pilot who inherits a ring from a dying alien that makes him a member of an intergalactic police force that’s trying to stop a giant pyroclastic cloud of evil from enveloping Earth. His powers enable him to make anything he can think of out of green energy, which is exactly as stupid as it sounds. Easily the dumbest superhero movie this year. Check out my full Green Lantern review for more details.

Buy Green Lantern on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

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Horrible Bosses

Horrible Bosses is basically 9 to 5 for the grossout comedy crowd, but since no one remembers 9 to 5, they can get away with it. Three idiots get together to moan about their awful bosses and jokingly attempt to have them bumped off, except their plans go awry when their reconnaissance mission ends in the actual death of one of their bosses. There’s a bit too much emphasis on butt jokes, but it still manages to be funny. Most guys and anyone who liked The Hangover will like it, everyone else will merely not hate it. You can read my full Horrible Bosses review for more.

Buy Horrible Bosses on DVD or on Blu-Ray.
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The Tree of Life

I know a lot of people who wanted to see this movie but never got a chance because it hardly came to any theaters. If this sounds like you, now’s your chance to see The Tree of Life. It’s a meandering epic about a trio of boys growing up in the 1950s and their resulting disillusionment as adults. It’s written and directed by Terrence Malick (the same guy who did the unfortunately boring epic The New World) so make sure you know what you’re getting into. You’ll likely either think it’s moving to the point of genius or pretentious, boring and pointless. There aren’t many people who occupy a middle ground on this one.

Buy The Tree of Life on DVD or on Blu-Ray.


Judy Moody and the Not Bummer Summer

Zookeeper also comes out this week, but that movie is so confused and lame that I’d rather feature Judy Moody and the Not Bummer Summer. Judy Moody is a very popular book series among younger girls, so if you know a girl in Grade 3 or lower, this is a good bet to entertain her. Despite the fact that it’s written for eight year olds, it’s got the same level of sophistication (i.e. not sophisticated at all) as Diary of a Wimpy Kid. The storyline follows Judy, her brother Stink, and her cool aunt as they try to pack the summer full of adventurous challenges. More installments are sure to follow if it does well.

Buy Judy Moody and the Not Bummer Summer on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

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