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Trailer Reviews for September 13, 2013

INSIDIOUS 2



The big twist from Insidious (which they don’t reveal in this trailer, so I won’t say what it is) was so bizarre and unusual that it’s really not possible for them to replicate the feel of that movie in a sequel. Unless they plan on assuming the audience hasn’t seen the first movie, they’ll just have to proceed as if their secrets are being taken as read and move on. Unfortunately there’s nowhere to move on to. They’re pretty much confined to replicating the events from the first movie – this trailer bears that out. It could be the trailer for the first one except the kid in danger is a different one this time. Once was enough for me, so I won’t be seeing it.

THE FAMILY



The title is boring and generic, which will make it difficult for people to get results when Googling it, but the movie looks like it could be okay. It may be a little difficult to like people who blow up grocery stores just because they feel insulted, but the sheer ridiculousness of their overreactions could be funny. I just hope they don’t abandon the comedic premise halfway through and switch to destroying half of France in a giant gun battle. But it seems likely that’s exactly what will happen, given that it’s directed by the guy who did Taken. And the fact that the trailer contains at least three explosions. But if this is the only other thing we’re getting, I guess I’ll take it.

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DVDs for September 10, 2013

into darkness

Star Trek: Into Darkness

If there’s such a thing as too action packed, Star Trek: Into Darkness is the poster child. It begins with an exploding volcano, segues into a series of terrorist attacks on Starfleet, and ends with a final battle against craziness and corruption that lasts for almost the entire third act of the movie. If you hadn’t figured it out before, Star Trek isn’t just for Star Trek fans anymore. If you don’t believe me yet, check out my full review or just go ahead and let this movie do the talking.

Buy Star Trek: Into Darkness on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

blood

Blood

Blood is one of those deep but depressing gritty police dramas where the cops end up guilty of more than the perps they’re chasing. Paul Bettany plays a British detective investigating a crime. He’s so sure a particular perp committed it that he goes a little overboard and has an ‘accident’ that results in a coverup he must share with his partner and an investigation by their department. We’re basically watching Bettany’s character fall apart, which can be interesting as an artistic/intellectual exercise but I wouldn’t really call it ‘entertaining.’

Buy Blood on DVD.

wish you were here

Wish You Were Here

Horror movies would have you believe that biggest thing to worry about on your vacation is man-eating sharks, but that’s not really true. Running afoul of a foreign legal/criminal system is both scarier and more likely, because what can you do about it other than beg heartless bureaucracies to help you? In this movie, four friends go on a vacation to Cambodia but only three of them come back… and they come back with an awful lot of secrets and lies that will have to be unraveled before we find out what happened to the fourth guy. Great mystery/thriller.

Buy Wish You Were Here on DVD.

chicago fire

Chicago Fire: Season 1

If you’re not already watching this show, you should start. There’s something for everyone: shirtless men, heroic rescues, tragedies, coverups, inter-truck rivalries, a lesbian paramedic, issue-driven storylines, and even a cute puppy who rides a fire truck! The only thing I didn’t like about this season was the recurring police corruption arc, but luckily they’re spinning off the cops into their own show so we won’t have to hear about them anymore. Check out the DVDs or go online and watch some on your TV network’s website, because it starts again soon and you need to catch up!

Buy Chicago Fire: Season 1 on DVD.

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DVDs for September 3, 2013

now you see me

Now You See Me

If you (like me) really enjoyed the stage magic-based movies The Illusionist and The Prestige and are looking for another movie that will wow you the same way, you should know that this movie is trying to be what you want, but isn’t. It features a group of stage magicians who perform bank heists as part of their act and distribute money to the audiences while outwitting the cops. The big reveal just isn’t as believable or original as it needs to be to sustain the ‘wow’ factor after the film is over. Good only for a throwaway movie night.

Buy Now You See Me on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

empire state

Empire State

There’s a really terrific spy novel by Henry Porter called Empire State. Sadly, this is not an adaptation of that novel. Instead, it’s yet another armored car/inside job robbery film where we’re supposed to believe that because the ‘system’ has wronged someone, they’re entitled to steal millions of dollars from it (otherwise known as the new American Dream). Cliched premise paired with uninspred execution leaves you with a film that you’d just as well not watch, even if it does star Liam Hemsworth and the Rock.

Buy Empire State on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

revolution

Revolution

I wanted to mention this show on here, but not because it’s good. Because it’s TERRIBLE and I hated it. I only watched one episode, but here are the impressions I came away with. 1) It’s supposed to be a post-apocalyptic show taking place 15 years after all the electricity mysteriously went away, yet everyone is clean, nicely clothed, and smooth. 2) The main character, a teenage girl whose mission is to rescue her brother from organized bandits and find out what caused the blackout, is just a whinier version of Katniss Everdeen. AVOID.

Buy Revolution: Season 1 on Blu-Ray/DVD combo pack.

criminal minds

Criminal Minds

And finally, I will round the set off with a TV show that you SHOULD watch: Criminal Minds. Eight years later and having replaced several cast members, the show is still fantastic and utterly chilling. The highlight of this season is the overarching plot concerning the serial killer who is himself stalking the serial killer hunters of the FBI. They’ve been delving more into the characters’ personal lives in the last few seasons, but not enough to get annoying or ridiculous (like what happened in Private Practice). Watch it and if you like having to sleep with the lights on.

Buy Criminal Minds: Season 8 on DVD.

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Trailer Reviews for August 30, 2013

CLOSED CIRCUIT



This movie looks good. We’ve got some Eric Bana, some Julia Stiles (whom I haven’t seen in a movie in like ten years) and a huge dollop of Spooks (MI-5 on this side of the pond). The only problem I can see is that they gave most of it away in the trailer. Let’s review what we know, shall we? There was a terrorist attack. The bomber was caught. Two lawyers are assigned to defend him. With a journalist’s help they discover MI-5 were responsible for getting him into the country and setting him up in a terrorist cell as a double agent. MI-5 uses closed circuit cameras to try and bump them off before the trial brings everything to light. Am I missing anything? Apart from a non-Bana reason to pay $11.50 to see it again, but longer?

GETAWAY



Taken – sorry, Getaway is the story of a guy whose female family member was kidnapped by bad people and who has to wreck a lot of stuff to get her back. Geez, how many times are they going to make this movie? The only things that are different about it are the fact that they also ripped off The Fast and the Furious (the bit where they’re driving around very fast in cool cars to steal things) and The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (where he’s got a young punk ass hacker girl helping him). Actually, now that I watch it again, I realize I’m wrong. It’s not a movie, it’s a two hour ad for the Ford Mustang.

THE SPECTACULAR NOW



Yes, enjoy your impulsiveness and popularity now, children, because soon you will have JOBS and STUDENT LOANS and RESPONSIBILITIES and if you try to cling too hard to your youth, you will end up becoming that creepy person who works at Staples, lives in their parents’ basement, and tries to get drunk with high schoolers every night! Bwahahahahahaha!

ONE DIRECTION: THIS IS US



No. Just… no. Though I have to say, I did enjoy the graphic of the big red band logo spreading across the world like a hemorrhagic fever.

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DVDs for August 27, 2013

gatsby

The Great Gatsby

As much as I love how the 10 Classics in 10 Minutes version of The Great Gatsby boils down to “lets have a drink!” it doesn’t do justice to the depth of character portrayed in this movie. Sure the characters are all rich, frivolous, selfish 1920s socialites who believe that rules are made for other people, but that’s just on the surface. Underneath they’re repressed, desperate lovers or confused fish out of water (well, some of them are, anyway). Add that to the sheer decadence of the filming style and you’ve got a compelling film. Check it out or read my full review for more.

Buy The Great Gatsby on Blu-Ray or on DVD.

elementary

Elementary

I love this show. Typically American versions of British shows (this is an Americanization of Sherlock) are terrible but in this case I think both are great. In this version, Watson’s a woman (Lucy Liu) and Sherlock (Jonny Lee Miller) is a recovering heroin addict who acts as an unpaid (and sometimes unwanted) consultant to detectives Gregson (Aidan Quinn) and Bell (Jon Michael Hill) of the NYPD. He’s still an abrasive but lovable genius but other than that don’t waste your time comparing it with Sherlock, its totally different. Still worth checking out, though, so go do it.

Buy Elementary on DVD.

kon tiki

Kon-Tiki

I loved this book when I read it as a kid, and I can’t believe it took them this long to make a film of it (there was a documentary in 1950 but that’s about three millenia ago in Hollywood time). It follows a group of Scandinavian explorers who sail across the Pacific ocean on a balsa wood raft with almost nothing just to prove that the Polynesian peoples could originally have come from South America. I’m glad they did wait, though, because now modern technology has given us a really incredible looking movie to go along with the incredible story. Whether you’ve read the book or not, you’ve got to see it.

Buy Kon-Tiki on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

pain and gain

Pain and Gain

Anthony Mackie, Mark Wahlberg, Dwayne Johnson return to their muscle head roots for this movie (well, Dwayne Johnson does, Anthony Mackie started out in engineering and Mark Whalberg was in a boy band). They play a trio of bodybuilding knuckleheads who decide to try and force the universe to give them the American dream through kidnapping and extortion, and as you might expect, it goes hilariously and predictably wrong. The weirdest part about this action/comedy/crime/thriller/mess is that it’s based on a true story. I guess you can’t make this stuff up.

Buy Pain and Gain on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

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DVDs for August 6, 2013

oblivion

Oblivion

Usually I’m excited whenever Hollywood deigns to produce a science fiction movie, but Oblivion is pretty generic even for Hollywood. Tom Cruise plays a lowly repairman working on a ruined Earth, counting down the days to when he can move to the place where everything is nice. He meets a girl from an escape pod and finds out: SURPRISE there’s a big conspiracy and nothing he’s been told is true, which is such a common plot twist that no one is surprised any more. It’s nothing profound, but it looks nice and it’ll kill two hours if that’s what you need.

Buy Oblivion on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

place beyond the pines

The Place Beyond the Pines

I know some people who will blindly adore anything featuring Ryan Gosling (hi Angella) or Bradley Cooper (hi Meghan) but if you’re not one of them, this film will be an exercise in frustration and boredom. It’s a wannbe epic, with three very common crime movie plots giving way to one another. The story of Gosling’s motorcycle-riding bank robber shifts to the story of the cop who took him down (Cooper) shifts to the story of their sons. With its slow pace, overlong running time, and inability to focus on any particular character, most people won’t be moved. They’ll just be glad it’s over.

Buy The Place Beyond the Pines on DVD and on Blu-Ray.

sapphires

The Sapphires

The sixties were a turbulent time, what with civil rights and missile crises and everyone shooting up Vietnam, but sometimes you just want a nice happy movie about the 60s, not a depressing epic. That’s what The Sapphires is. Four young Australian Aboriginal singers are discovered by the Irish cop from Bridesmaids and together they go on a tour of Vietnam entertaining the troops, where they have fun and learn life lessons rather than developing PTSD and a chest full of bullet holes like in a regular Vietnam movie. If you liked Dreamgirls or That Thing You Do, give this one a shot.

Buy The Sapphires on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

on the road

On the Road

Based on the book by Jack Kerouac, this movie is about a blocked writer (Sam Riley) who goes on a road trip with the promiscuous, drugged up Dean (Garret Hedlund) and Marylou (Kristen Stewart). None of the characters are worth caring about and nothing in the story is connected to anything else. The characters just drift along doing things without it stemming from or leading to anything. If you’ve read the book or like the Beatnik/sex-and-drugs/dicking-around-being-useless-to-society lifestyle, you’ll enjoy this movie, but I think Garrett Hedlund is the only reason to watch it.

Buy On the Road on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

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Trailer Reviews for July 19, 2013

RED 2



I absolutely loved the first RED. It took me completely by surprise. Obviously the surprise factor will be gone this time but judging from the trailer it’s going to be just as funny. With the Russian connection, missing nuke, and locked up scientist, the plot seems very similar to A Good Day to Die Hard, but I’m going to think of it as this plot’s chance to redeem itself from its terrible showing in Die Hard rather than outright copying. After all, it’s not like Twentieth Century Fox can copyright Russia (though they’ve probably tried). At least you know when this movie gets ridiculous, it’s actually TRYING to be ridiculous rather than totally ignorant of the laws of physics.

R.I.P.D.



Oh, hello again, Mary Louise Parker! That’s two movies for you in one week. If it weren’t for the fact that RED 2 was opening this weekend, I might have gone to see this one. The trailer hooked me as soon as it smashed Ryan Reynolds’s face off the concrete. Ouch! That’s gotta be worth a broken neck. The R.I.P.D. Thing is a little cutesy but funny – in the same way that the angels hell-bent on getting Ewan McGregor and Cameron Diaz to fall in love in Life Less Ordinary were funny. Though, obviously, there’s a lot more wanton destruction in this movie, probably because they had a lot more money. I’ll wait for the DVD.

Turbo



Oh, hello again, Ryan Reynolds! That’s two movies for you in one week as well! Are we playing a game I’m not aware of? Perhaps One Degree of Separation? I have to thank this movie, because I had no idea that nitrous oxide was capable of giving superpowers molluscs. Since there seems to be a fine line between superpowers and horrible death by poisoning, I’ll know to be careful if I ever decide to douche-up my Honda Civic with happy-gas canisters and little green lights. I was also unaware that cars were optional in the Indy 500. Look at all the new facts I’m learning today! If you need me I’ll be in Indianapolis pedaling madly on my tricycle. Where I will NOT be is in the theater watching this movie.

The Conjuring



Oh, hello again, Patrick Wilson! Sadly, you’ve ruined the game. This movie seems very familiar, probably because found footage films are a dime a dozen these days and there are whole shows devoted to people who wander around old houses with EMF meters trying to talk to ghosts. Sadly none of them are as good as Supernatural, though I suspect this movie won’t be a total waste of money. If it’s anything like Insidious it will take a 90 degree turn into crazytown about two thirds of the way through the movie, so even if you think you know the whole story from watching the trailer there are still a few surprises left. I wish they weren’t so liberal with displaying all the horrors all over the screen, though. Don’t they get that what we CAN’T see is scarier?

Renoir



This movie reminds me a little bit of Ever After, though I couldn’t say why. Maybe because it’s a semi-historical love story that stars a famous painter as the grownup who browbeats the two young lovers into pulling their heads out of their own asses. I’m intrigued by the story and the characters. It looks good, the acting seems solid…. and yet, I suspect it would be boring. Not because it’s foreign and I’d have to read – I like reading. Because they used the slowest, dreariest music they could possibly find for this trailer. That does not bode well for the pace of the film.

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DVDs for July 9, 2013

the host

The Host

I hated the Twilight movies and I couldn’t make it past the first few chapters of Stephenie Meyer’s book version of The Host, but I kinda liked the movie. It’s a post-apocalyptic alien invasion sci-fi love story starring Saoirse Ronan as a girl with an alien living in her head trying to discover where the last people are hiding. Girl loves Max Irons, alien loves Jake Abel, and killer alien death squads are after them, which leads to less action than you would think, but it’s still pretty cool. I guess all they needed to do was remove the Meyer factor. Check it out or read my review for more.

Buy The Host on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

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admission

Admission

I love Tina Fey and Paul Rudd, so anything with BOTH of them in it should be amazing. But Admission is a resounding ‘meh.’ It’s half decently funny, but the story of a college admissions officer trying to get her long lost weirdo son into her university and falling for the teacher at his hippy school just didn’t grab me. I think the problem was that the movie couldn’t decide whether to be a straight up comedy or a romantic comedy so it tried to do both and stretched itself too thin. There are better things out there, so read my review first before you waste your time.

Buy Admission on DVD or on Blu-Ray.
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dead man down

Dead Man Down

I’m not into movies about organized crime and/or retribution because too often they’re ridiculous and convoluted, trying way too hard to make it the most perfectly perfect revenge scheme ever. Dead Man Down falls into this trap. Colin Farrell and Noomi Rapace both want Terrence Howard dead. So what does Colin do? Saves Terrence’s life to ‘get close to him.’ Things go downhill from there, with a lot of ‘I do but I don’t’ tomfoolery. It’s very serious and gritty, but with that plot it probably would have been better as a comedy. Skip it.

Buy Dead Man Down on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

spring breakers

Spring Breakers

This movie is part parody on people’s expectations of spring break and part rampant crime extravaganza. Four teens: Selena Gomez, Vanessa Hudgins, Rachel Korine, and Ashley Benson, rob a restaurant so they can get to Florida for spring break, whereupon they skip the whole ‘get drunk at the MTV beach house’ scene and take up with a rapper played by James Franco, who turns them all into bikinied mobster hitgirls. The whole thing is bizarre and it’s hard to care about the characters, so you should probably only rent it if you like half naked chicks or movies like Goodfellas.

Buy Spring Breakers on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

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The Heat Review

poster from the Twentieth Century Fox film The Heat 2013

Bridesmaids was a little grosser than I usually like my comedies, but I can’t deny that it’s opened up a lot of doors for female comedians. One by one the old male-dominated sub-genres are falling, with the latest one being the buddy cop genre. I enjoy buddy cop movies but sexism makes me angry, so even if The Heat looked dumb I probably would have seen it. Luckily it looked funny.

A braggart FBI agent meets her match when she tries to take over a drug case from a pushy Boston cop who terrorizes her entire precinct.

Now that I’ve seen it I can tell you that The Heat is indeed downright hilarious. The best part about it that it wasn’t the gross kind of funny like in Bridesmaids. There are lots of witty one liners, action scenes loaded with physical comedy, and the whole thing is a fairly apt satire of the cop movie genre, much like The Other Guys. It’s a great time. You should see it.

Read More

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Trailer Reviews for June 28, 2013

THE HEAT



You’ve probably never thought much about it, but all the buddy comedies, especially the buddy cop comedies, are all about two mismatched GUYS who are forced to partner up. You almost never see two females in a buddy movie, which is why I’m so excited for this one. A female buddy cop movie! And it looks funny! Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy are a good pairing. We already know they’re talented comedians and when they play off each other it’s a good dynamic – straight-laced vs…. unlaced, I guess it would be. Can’t wait.

WHITE HOUSE DOWN



See what I mean about buddy movies always being about guys? If I’m not holding that (or the fact that the main character’s name is John – AGAIN) against White House Down, it actually does look pretty funny. Channing Tatum is a brawny goof and Jamie Foxx is a smart person who can act, so between them I think they can carry this thing. The story is ridiculous, but that’s not the point. Big dumb fun and all that. Not quite as dumb as Battleship or quite as big as Olympus Has Fallen but big dumb fun nonetheless.

UNFINISHED SONG



LOL, what did those people expect, singing outside his window early in the morning? I’d have told them off too. I kind of love this guy – he’s like the live action version of Statler and Waldorf all rolled into one. I’ve seen the underdogs-in-singing-contest thing before, but never featuring a choral group of curmudgeonly seniors. I’d watch it.

STORM SURFERS 3D



I guess if you’ve ever watched a surfing movie and wished the story would f*** off so you could watch two hours of crazy Australians surfing pipe than this movie is for you. They seem like pretty funny guys, so I’m glad the filmmakers were able to catch them on video before they try to surf a tsunami and get wiped out by an office building filled with water or something.

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