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Muppets Most Wanted Review

poster from the Walt Disney Pictures film Muppets Most Wanted

The offerings this week consisted of Noah (too ridiculous) and Bad Words (too angry) so I decided to turn back the clock to last week and see Muppets Most Wanted. I’ve never been a big fan of Kermit, Miss Piggy, or any of the ‘big’ Muppets but I do love backgrounders like Beaker, Robin, and Statler and Waldorf. Plus the last movie was really funny.

After taking Kermit’s place, international criminal Constantine and the Muppets’ manager Dominic Badguy use their world tour as a cover for stealing priceless artifacts.

I’m always worried that a movie with a hilarious trailer will be disappointing because it used up all its good jokes already. Luckily, that didn’t happen here. Though I did occasionally wish for less Muppets and more supporting cast, it turned out to be as funny as the last one.

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DVDs for March 18, 2014

frozen

Frozen

Frozen is the big-deal cartoon cartoon of the year (it just won an Oscar) but to me, this confused story about a princess trying to get another princess to unfreeze their land is just Disney’s first, fumbling attempt to bring their damsel-in-distress musical model into the 21st Century. The reindeer is cute and the twists on convention are amusing but the songs all sound the same and the plot meanders all over the place. Check out my full review for more.

Buy Frozen on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

saving mr banks

Saving Mr. Banks

If you’ve ever wanted to see a Disney movie about how they get the rights to make movies, this is for you. It follows the (sort of) true story of author Pamela Travers and her twenty year fight with Walt Disney over the rights to her book Mary Poppins. Travers is portrayed as unpleasant and Disney as a giant man-child and their battle is less interesting than the flashbacks to Travers’ childhood in Australia. It’s not strictly true to life but it does make a compelling movie. Read my review for more.

Buy Saving Mr. Banks on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

american hustle

American Hustle

This movie won a bunch of Golden Globes but no Oscars (as is usually the way with Golden Globes and Oscars) and is almost as popular as David O. Russell’s last movie, Silver Linings Playlist. It didn’t appeal to me, but if you like crime dramas where everyone’s in over their head and nobody’s quite sure who’s going to be conned by who when, then you might. It follows a pair of con artists (Christian Bale, Amy Adams) and an FBI agent (Bradley Cooper) who worm their way into mafia circles in New Jersey.

Buy American Hustle on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

mandela

Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom

This film, which is based on Nelson Mandela’s autobiography, is a school history style overview of Mandela’s life, starting with his childhood. It chronicles his opposition to South Africa’s racist Apartheid policy, the time he spent in jail, and his decision to pursue a peaceful resolution. It ends with him becoming president. Since this movie is more about ideology and personal struggle than chronicling the violence of the time, it’s not too gritty to show to young people. With a PG-13 rating, it’s appropriate for classes of junior high schoolers and above.

Buy Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

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Trailer Reviews for March 14, 2014

NEED FOR SPEED

)

No. Nope. Nuh uh. If I want to oogle expensive cars, I’ll watch Top Gear. At least those guys are funny. What I will not do is watch another terrible video game adaptation starring a guy who has that same dopey look as Deputy Dewey from Scream. Also, that stunt with the helicopter was a whole lot more hilarious in my head, where the chains just ripped off the car bumper and those two idiots plunged to the bottom of the canyon in a big dumb fireball.

ENEMY

)

Directed by the Prisoners guy or not, this looks slow and boring. I’m only mildly curious about why there are two guys who look the same and I feel like the answer to the puzzle is some kind of spaced-out metaphor that would just piss me off anyway. So no way.

THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL

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I have kind of a love/hate relationship with Wes Anderson films. I love The Life Aquatic and Fantastic Mr. Fox but I hated The Darjeeling Limited (too depressing, not funny enough). This one looks to be more on the goofy side of things, so I’ll see it.

VERONICA MARS

)

Ah yes, the Kickstarter movie the Veronica Mars fans funded when they couldn’t accept the cancellation of their beloved show. I never watched the TV show and I don’t live in one of the select cities this film will be playing in, but if you are/do, I hope you get your money’s worth out of it. I think it looks like Nancy Drew as written by Joss Whedon.

TYLER PERRY’S SINGLE MOM’S CLUB

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Tyler Perry invents babysitting?

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DVDs for March 11, 2014

book thief

The Book Thief

A lot of people have flipped their lids over this movie and the book it’s based on. It’s a Nazi era story narrated by Death which follows an illiterate girl who steals books and shares them with the Jew her foster parents are hiding in the basement. As a ‘kid in the Nazi era/Holocaust’ movie, it’s decent. I’ve definitely seen better (Life is Beautiful, Boy in the Striped Pajamas, Devil’s Arithmetic, etc.) But as a film adaptation it can’t help but be miles better than the source material, given how sparse and confusing the writing was.

Buy The Book Thief on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

out of the furnace

Out of the Furnace

As I mentioned during my trailer review, Out of the Furnace can best be described as Winter’s Bone starring Christian Bale in the Jennifer Lawrence role. A desperate person (Bale) ventures into rural crime gang territory looking for a missing family member (in this case, a brother). It necessarily takes more of a turn into revenge thriller territory though, because we don’t have the dramatic angle of the searcher being a young dependent about to be turned out on her ear. There’s nothing new or particularly enthralling here.

Buy Out of the Furnace on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

homefront

Homefront

If you’re looking for a crime thriller with more shooting in it, skip Out of the Furnace and rent Homefront. It’s a paint-by-numbers action film starring Jason Statham as a burned out DEA agent who retires to a small town with his daughter to recover from an incident involving a tragic death. But guess what? Drug dealers in this small town want to cause another tragic death (of his daughter this time) over a bullying incident at school (yes really). Commence shotguns, explosions, and hero redemption.

Buy Homefront on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

inside llewyn davis

Inside Llewyn Davis

I like Garrett Hedlund, but if he keeps choosing bit parts in meandering period films about the messed up lifestyles of struggling artists, I’m going to have to jump ship to save my sanity. It’s not that the acting is bad. The movie is full of famous people looking to expand their range as actors. The problem is that they’re playing characters I can’t care about who wander through a story where nothing seems to be connected to anything else. If you like glacier-paced, introspective indie dramas, this will appeal to you. As you can probably tell, it didn’t appeal to me.

Buy Inside Llewyn Davis on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

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Trailer Reviews for March 7, 2014

300: RISE OF AN EMPIRE



I know I have a long history of watching not-otherwise-awesome programs featuring shirtless dudes, but even I have to draw the line somewhere. The first 300 movie bored me so hard I almost fell asleep. I blame it on a combination of irritating filmmaking gimmicks (filters, slow motion) and beards. I never was a fan of beards.

MR. PEABODY AND SHERMAN TRAILER



I only vaguely remember this show growing up, which is good, because I won’t care if they changed a bunch of things for the movie. I like history jokes and the trailer was pretty cute, so I’ll go. I just hope it’s funny enough to mask all the inevitable historical inaccuracies and broken rules of time traveling.

NO CLUE



I hate film noir, but this movie makes fun of it, so that’s a plus. Also, it’s Canadian, features Amy Smart, and looks half decently funny, so that’s enough for me… to check out on DVD… later.

ALAN PARTRIDGE



Apparently this movie is called Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa in regions (Britiain) where they actually know who Alan Partridge is (a BBC radio sketch comedy character). I normally like British comedy and Steve Coogan, but honestly, this trailer isn’t all that funny and it doesn’t give me much of an idea what the movie’s about. I’ll pass.

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Trailer Reviews for January 24, 2014

I, FRANKENSTEIN



Updated fairy tales are all the rage these days, but not all of them adhere to the adaptation adage: ‘stay true to the intent of the original.’ After all, the intent of original stories like Beauty and The Beast and Frankenstein is that the main characters are ugly. When you ‘update’ their ugliness to a few scars (I, Frankenstein) or an eyebrow tattoo that says ‘suck’ (Beastly) you miss the point and your movie doesn’t work. This is what happened to Beastly and what I predict will also happen to I, Frankenstein, no matter how big they go with the special effects. Actually, it will probably be worse for I, Frankenstein. I mean… superpowers? Saving the human race? What?? And Frankenstein was the doctor’s name, not the monster’s.

DEVIL’S KNOT



Ooh, I remember this. There was a really good documentary about it called Paradise Lost. The whole (true) story is such a big mess (did the teens do it, is the town blaming them just because they wear black, why is that other guy so sketchy in interviews) that the title is an apt one. I just hope they’re able to ‘unravel the knot’ so to speak by the end of this fictional version, otherwise why bother to fictionalize it at all?

WHITEWASH



A drunken snowplow driver. Now there’s a scary thought. As our province continually reminds us in TV commercials, a snowplow ‘ain’t no featherduster’ (seriously – they really say that). But in this movie’s case, the snowplow really is a featherduster! Just look at that silly little thing! Also this trailer is confusing. So he ran a guy over… on purpose? By accident? Before or after the dude was crashing at his house cooking up a tray of eyeballs and our pal snowplow driver was hiding in a quinzhee? And then there’s a…. what’s who doing with that snowmobile? WTF is going on??

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DVDs for January 7, 2014

runner runner

Runner Runner

I like both Ben Affleck and Justin Timberlake (as an actor) but this movie just doesn’t do anything for me. It’s hard to sympathize with a character who is dumb enough to risk his college tuition in an online poker game. And dumb enough to go abroad to confront the website owner. Dumb enough to fall in with this guy, and dumb enough to be surprised when the guy turns out to be evil. There are plenty of other movies who do the poker shark and/or seduced by bad guy thing with less dumbness. Watch those instead.

Buy Runner Runner on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

closed circuit

Closed Circuit

If you like MI-5/Spooks and also enjoy legal thrillers such as those of the Law & Order or John Grisham persuasion, you’ll like this movie. Eric Bana and Rebecca Hall play lawyers who are tasked with defending the people accused of a terrorist attack. During their investigation they uncover ties between the perpetrators and MI-5, which makes them a target. A thrilling thriller starring the world’s most adorable human being and a few good explosions. What more could you want?

Buy Closed Circuit on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

thanks for sharing

Thanks for Sharing

If you’re looking for a romantic comedy with a unique gimmick or a less depressing version of Michael Fassbender’s Shame, you should watch Thanks for Sharing. It’s an ensemble comedy about a handful of couples who know each other through their sex addiction support group. It covers a lot of bases – established relationships, new relationships, and friendships, and though the characters are sex addicts, their struggles with their addictions don’t get so graphic that you might feel like it should be sold in a paper bag. Check it out.

Buy Thanks for Sharing on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

big ass spider

Big Ass Spider

If you liked Sharknado or any movies from the new ‘intentionally bad disaster movie’ genre, Big Ass Spider is for you. As the title suggests, a Big Ass Spider is on a rampage through Los Angeles and it’s up to a smart-ass exterminator and his plucky ethnic support character (a hospital security guard) to stop it. Greg Grunberg (previously a comedic support character on Alias) unleashes his inner ham on the tongue-in-cheek script, resulting in surprisingly hilarious experience. Check it out.

Buy Big Ass Spider on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

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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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DVDs for December 10, 2013

despicable me 2

Despicable Me 2

Lovable villain Gru (Steve Carell), his three cute daughters, and all his squeaky yellow minions are back for more in Despicable Me 2. Since Gru is now a non-evil father, the action comes from Gru being recruited into the Anti-Villain League. And since Gru has already learned to love kids, he learns to love a lady agent named Lucy who is nearly as nutty as he is. Great fun for the whole family, though not as brilliant and original as the first one. Read my full review for more.

Buy Despicable Me on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

fast and furious 6

Fast and Furious 6

In case you haven’t heard already, Paul Walker, one of the stars of the Fast and Furious series, has died in a car crash (not on set), so this will likely be the last one which features him unless the studio goes ahead with his half-filmed part in #7. In this sequel, the usual crew of fast driving thieves bands together to stop the head of a fast-driver mafia in exchange for a pardon for all the things they did in their other films. It’s the same constant physics-less action as the previous films, but if you buy it on DVD the studio will donate to Paul Walker’s charity.

Buy Fast and Furious 6 on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

day of the doctor

Day of the Doctor

Calling all relatives and friends of Doctor Who fans: this is what you’re getting them for Christmas. Recently shown only in theaters and on BBC, there will be a sizeable number of fans who haven’t seen it yet (unless they have the internet and slightly loose morals). Anyway, it stars two doctors (David Tennant and Matt Smith) as well as a third half Doctor in a giant episode that cuts back and forth from the 1500s and today and has cameos from old doctors and favorites. Too confusing for a newbie, but a massive nerdgasm for people who are already fans.

Buy Day of the Doctor on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

battle of the year

Battle of the Year

When I hear the words Battle of the Year, I think of war. Or maybe boxing. What I do not think about is dancing. But that’s what this movie is about. It’s your standard sports movie. There’s a team. Other teams keep beating them. They want to win, so they drag some grouchy retired person (Josh Holloway) back into the sport. Said grouch is hard on them but makes them bond as a team, then they try their hardest and either win or lose depending on which lesson they’re supposed to learn. Only reccomended for So You Think You Can Dance fans.

Buy Battle of the Year on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

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Trailer Reviews for November 29, 2013

FROZEN



It looks cute and funny and everything, but what is it ABOUT? I hate it when animation trailers do this. They spend so much time on all their funny jokes and cute little characters and forget to explain what the hell is going on. So it’s supposed to be summer and everything is frozen. And it has something to do with that girl’s sister… so she must be freezing things… but what the hell for? And what’s her sister supposed to do about it? I mean, I’ll see it, because look what else is playing this week, but still, this is a bad trailer.

HOMEFRONT



Everything in this trailer is utterly ridiculous. Bullying that obvious, boy vs girl, in a school these days? A mom flipping out over it so bad that she calls her drug dealing… whatever… and sics him on the girl’s dad? A meth dealer continuing to harass a guy HE KNOWS WAS A DEA AGENT who just wants to be left alone, thereby ensuring that this guy and/or the DEA will rain fire on his ass? And to top it all off, they claim that no one in town likes this guy or his kid, yet somehow they’re all at her birthday party! Dumb dumb dumb. Anyway, I don’t even need to see it, they showed the entire thing in the trailer.

PHILOMENA



This looks hilarious! I want to see it, but we’re not getting it, so I’ll probably have to wait for the DVD. I’ll be mad if it turns out that her son’s a corrupt politician jackass who doesn’t want to see her, though, especially if I have to wait all that time. I know it doesn’t SEEM like that kind of movie, but it’s possible. It’s based on a true story.

THE ARMSTRONG LIE



“Losing = death.” Well, isn’t that dramatic. I just can’t drum up the energy to give a crap. I mean, I don’t like sports at the best of times, but I find it especially ridiculous when people lie, cheat, steal, backstab, etc. just so they can claim they’re the best at something. I mean… how insecure do you have to be? No way would I pay this issue enough attention to watch a whole movie about it.

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