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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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DVDs for April 16, 2013

django

Django Unchained

Quentin Tarantino tackles slavery in his usual style: with lots of violence, blood, and a certain hysterical detachment from reality. Jamie Foxx plays a slave (Django) who escapes with the help of a bounty hunter (Christoph Waltz playing the same character he always plays) and together they go after Leonardo DiCaprio, the horrible slave owner who has Django’s wife under his thumb. Enough Tarantino fans had a nerdgasm over it to get it high ratings online, but a lot of people will be turned off by the endless, glorified violence and the fact that most of it makes no sense.

Buy Django Unchained on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

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monster in paris

A Monster in Paris

This 3D animated film produced in France borrows a lot stylistically from the Aardman films, specifically the Aardman film Pirates! Band of Misfits – right down to the monkey assistant who speaks through cue cards. Story-wise it’s a cross between The Phantom of the Opera and Beauty and the Beast. It follows a pair of oddballs who discover a giant singing flea and his human partner when they go hunting the streets of Paris for the ‘monster’ that’s been ‘terrorizing’ it. It’s pretty decent (for both kids and adults) but nothing special.

Buy A Monster in Paris on DVD.
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spies of warsaw

Spies of Warsaw

If you enjoy spy movies like Skyfall and Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol, then this is not the movie for you. It’s more along the lines of a ‘realistic’ spy story a la John LeCarre wherein nothing much really happens until someone gets killed, and even then it doesn’t feel like anything’s happened. David Tennant (of Doctor Who fame) plays a French Embassy worker who falls for a Polish woman on the eve of World War II. Running time is about 5 hours (it’s really a mini-series) but it will feel like about 5 years to people who like their spy movies to have actual tension and/or action.

Buy Spies of Warsaw on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

wings of life

Wings of Life

In a nod to the fact that next Monday is Earth Day, Disneynature is releasing a documentary about the pollinators – the butterflies, bees, bats, and hummingbirds who fly around landing on flowers and plants, spreading the pollen around so that they reproduce. As always, the cinematography is incredible – sometimes achieving Planet Earth levels of awesome when they’re showing hummingbirds in slow motion close up. But since it’s for kids, it’s short (77 minutes) and quite superficial on an informational level, so if you have any training in science you probably won’t learn anything new.

Buy Wings of Life on combo pack.

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Revolution Review

poster from the Rob Stewart documentary Revolution

I make it a point to read/watch the environmental books and documentaries that seem like they have new information to give me. Rob Stewart’s Revolution has been racking up the awards at film festivals and the trailers trumpet it as, well, revolutionary. That plus its focus on the oceans intrigued me enough to pay box office prices to see a documentary that’s not even an hour and a half long.

Filmmaker Rob Stewart of Sharkwater fame turns his sights toward discovering how we can stop ocean acidification to save humanity.

Now that I’ve seen it, I can tell you there’s not much about Revolution that’s revolutionary. It can best be described as ‘Rob Stewart discovers what everyone else already knows.’ It’s extremely light on scientific fact and the presentation is disjointed and superficial. It’s like a dumbed down version of An Inconvenient Truth.

Read More

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Trailer Reviews for April 12, 2013

REVOLUTION



I’ve been seeing trailers for Revolution for months, but I’ve never seen this one before. While the other trailer mostly focused on the fact that Rob had discovered that pollution was a problem and had gone on to make a movie about it to inspire people to change, I never really got the sense from it that he had anything new to say. This trailer, however puts us on to the fact that the oceans (which are a massive carbon dioxide sink) are nearing their capacity and that when they tip over the edge, they could take everything else with it. Apart from in Gwynne Dyer’s book Climate Wars, I don’t recall any popular authors or filmmakers talking specifically about the oceans with regard to environmentalism and I’d like to know more. For that reason, I’ll probably see this movie.

42



I feel like I’ve seen this movie already. Ever since I was a kid, I’ve been seeing the story of Jackie Robison through the extremely well-produced (and popular) Canadian Heritage commercials. It basically condenses this film into a one minute sound byte and focused on the most important point to Canadians – that the city of Montreal (where he played for the Royals before going to Brooklyn) supported him when American cities were finding excuses to shut their ballfields to him. Perhaps this movie can fill in some interesting factual details (or, you know, not… this is a Hollywood movie after all, not a documentary) but I’m not a fan of the rap soundtrack on the trailer. It clashes with the historical period. I might skip this one.

SCARY MOVIE 5



I have a confession to make. I’ve seen all the Scary Movie films, and I think most of them are funny (okay, okay, all of them… except for Scary Movie 4). I actually own Scary Movie 3. I wasn’t thrilled by the first trailer I saw, but this one makes me want to see it more. It focuses more on the actual horror movies it spoofs (Mama, Paranormal Activity, Insidious, Evil Dead, etc) and less on spoofing Inception, which is pushing the definition of horror a little (okay, a lot… okay, so they chased the definition right into science fiction). I’ll probably watch this movie too. And I’ll probably like it. But this isn’t the kind of movie you pay $12 to see in theaters. I’ll wait for it to come out on DVD.

THE COLONY



It’s a shame we’re not getting this one. I like Kevin Zegers and the plotline is like The Day After Tomorrow crossed with Event Horizon (complete with Laurence Fishbourne in charge). Both of those movies gave me the heebie jeebies. The problem, of course, is that they gave away the entire thing in the trailer, so now what’s the point of going to see it in theaters?

TRANCE



I don’t like heist movies. I don’t like movies that try to mess with your head regarding what’s real and what’s not real. I don’t like it when all the characters in a movie are criminals or when those criminals get free rein to wreak violence and mayhem. So why am I thinking about seeing this movie? Because it’s a Danny Boyle movie, and I always think I won’t like Danny Boyle movies, but then I see them and I think they’re fantastic. Unfortunately we’re not getting this one in my town either.

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DVDs for April 2, 2013

nerd alert

Avengers Boxed Set

Nerd alert! If you’re a big Avengers fan and you don’t get have all the Blu-Rays or 3D Blu-Rays, now’s your chance to get them all together in a SHIELD briefcase with a Tesseract (glowy blue cube). Note that there are no DVDs in this set but there is a bonus disc full of extra scenes and featurettes, plus replica dossiers. For those who need a run down on the movies: Avengers: pretty good, Captain America: really good, Thor: terrific, Iron Man: awesome, Iron Man 2: less than, and Incredible Hulk: kind of forgettable.

Buy The Avengers Super Nerd Set on briefcase.

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hitlers children

Hitler’s Children

I wasn’t originally planning to talk about anything other than the Avengers super nerd boxed set this week, but then I saw Hitler’s Children. It’s a lesser known German documentary (subtitled in English) about the descendants of Adolf Hitler’s inner circle: people like Goering and Himmler. If you’ve ever wondered what it would be like to have everyone associate you with genocide despite the fact that you thought your family was totally normal until the shades were suddenly pulled away, you’ll find this fascinating. I sure did.

Buy Hitler’s Children on DVD.
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dirk gently

Dirk Gently

And finally, if you enjoy detective and police procedural shows, this little known British television series might be up your street. It will be even more up your street if you like clever satire, madcap plotlines, and zany characters, as this is a Douglas Adams adaptation (he of Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy fame). Dirk is the eccentric, insolvent proprietor of a ‘holistic’ detective agency, who relies on the universe’s inherent interconnectedness to solve crimes of a more peculiar nature than you might see on Sherlock or CSI. Check it out if you can find it.

Buy Dirk Gently on DVD.

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DVDs for February 26, 2013

breaking dawn 2

Breaking Dawn Part 2

The worst movie of 2012 is now available on DVD! Fans of the Twilight series will want to buy it and relive its insipid finale forever, while non-fans who are forced to watch will only feel like it goes on forever. The plot concerns a pair of vampire lovers and their vegetarian vampire/werewolf family protecting a creepy half human infant from the evil vampire ruling class, but all you need to know is that nothing really happens…. and it’s like three hours long. Easily the worst of the five films in the series, though they’re all pretty bad. Read my review for more.

Buy Breaking Dawn Part 2 on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

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chasing mavericks

Chasing Mavericks

No, this is not a movie about tracking down loose cannon fighter pilots. Mavericks are really big, really dangerous waves, and Chasing Mavericks is the (sort of) true story of a teenage boy who decides to surf one and enlists the aid of a local surfing legend named Frosty (no, he is not a snowman) to help him not die. As an inspirational surfing movie, it’s less annoying than Soul Surfer (too religious), but still pretty trite. The big draw is the surfing footage: apparently they lost six cameras just trying to film in the big waves. Check it out if you’re into the sport (or wish you were).

Buy Chasing Mavericks on DVD or on Blu-Ray.
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master

The Master

Quite a few Hollywood movies are thinly veiled takes on Scientology. Perhaps the thinnest veil of all belongs to The Master, which stars Joaquin Phoenix as an alcoholic post-World War II naval officer who gets sucked into a cult run by Philip Seymour Hoffman. It’s one of those movies that’s not very satisfying to watch, though, where everything falls apart and everybody is horrible, so the movie did well with critics and award committees but not with regular viewers like you and me. So I’m recommending that you get your cult on by watching episode 3 of Cracked instead.

Buy The Master on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

africa

Africa

This is a BBC documentary. It is presented by David Attenborough. Need I say more? Can we all agree that the BBC makes the best nature documentaries and that whenever a new one comes out you should watch it? We got quite a few fascinating glimpses into Africa during the Planet Earth series, but here the continent has a whole series all to itself. MOAR ELEPHANTS! MOAR LIONS! MOAR WEIRD ANIMALS AND SAND DUNES! The best part is, you won’t even realize you’re learning while you’re watching it (and neither will your kids).

Buy BBC Africa on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

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DVDs for December 11, 2012

The Bourne Legacy

I used to say (repeatedly to anyone who would listen) that I would like the Bourne movies a lot better if they didn’t have Matt Damon and didn’t look like they were filmed by a camera man who was having a seizure. Bourne Legacy finally granted me my wish – it stars Jeremy Renner as a Bourne-type agent who needs his doctor’s help to get the drugs that make him stable after his own agency decides to hunt him down. It would have been a great movie… if only they hadn’t ended it in the middle. Click here for more.

Buy The Bourne Legacy on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

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Ice Age: Continental Drift

I don’t get excited for Ice Age movies like I get excited for Disney/Pixar movies. I don’t know why – whenever I go to see one I always think it’s funny, and not just because of Scrat. In this one, Manny the mammoth and his pals get separated from their families when the continents start to break apart and have to go on a pirate iceberg adventure to get back to them. It’s cute and funny and a good movie for parents to watch with kids because it won’t grate on your last nerve like those Santa Buddy movies. Click here to read more about it.

Buy Ice Age: Continental Drift on DVD or on Blu-Ray.
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Ted

I think Mark Wahlberg is great in comedies. I loved him in The Other Guys and Date Movie, but I just couldn’t bring myself to like Ted. The story sounded pretty good: a boy who wished for his teddy to be alive is now all grown up and so is his teddy, but it was just too crude in the execution. They’re members of the mom’s basement generation – drinking, womanizing, smoking up, and never growing up. They even seem to forget that Ted is a teddy. I would have liked it better if they were working in an office together or something (Teddy with a briefcase!)

Buy Ted on DVD or on Blu-Ray.


Mankind

From the makers of the terrible regional history documentary America: the Story of Us comes the terrible world history documentary Mankind: the Story of All of Us. This documentary purports to chronicle the story of people, but in practice mostly focuses on European males (MANkind) and their ancient need to pound the snot out of each other. This one at least looks like it cost more than $40 to produce, but it’s definitely not going to transport anyone like the BBC documentaries do. Lucky Europeans get Stephen Fry narrating, we sad North Americans get Josh Brolin (ugh).

Buy Mankind on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

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DVDs for November 20, 2012

The Expendables 2

“Happy birthday, Kat!” says the studio. “Our gift to you is that The Expendables 2 – the movie you least want to own – will be released on DVD just in time for your special day!” Well thanks, Studio, but no thanks. The Expendables 2 can best be described as Sylvester Stallone and his fellow aging action stars (Statham, Schwarzenegger, Li, Van-Damme, Lundgren, Norris, Willis… and also Liam Hemsworth for some reason) blowing up the world. It’s like the first movie, but this time with revenge instead of rescuing. There. Now you don’t need to see it. You’re welcome.

Buy The Expendables 2 on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

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Santa Paws 2: The Santa Pups

Soon it will be December and you will be looking for Christmas-related movies to occupy your kids during family events and parties. No doubt some of you will see the word “Santa” in the title of this one and pick it up. Do not do this if you intend to watch it with your children. It’s one of those painfully trite and awful straight-to-DVD Disney releases featuring talking dogs (thanks, Disney, for taking Air Bud and ruining it). And as if that weren’t bad enough, the dogs are coming to a small town to restore the magic of Christmas. So… it’s like the Grinch, but longer. And more awful.

Buy Santa Buddies 2: The Santa Pups on DVD or on Blu-Ray.
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The Survival Games

At first glance, this movie looks like a Hunger Games ripoff. But don’t worry – it’s MUCH too cheap for that. It follows two couples who go Geocaching in the woods and are then set upon by a trio of people in suits who have come to take the cache from them at gunpoint. Cache handed over, movie finished, right? Wrong. Everyone makes enough dumb decisions and attempts enough pathetically fake looking stunts to bring the movie up to 95 minutes. Which is about 90 minutes longer than you will want to watch, no matter how much they tried to make the lead character look like Zac Efron.

Buy The Survival Games on DVD.
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Dust Bowl

I like to watch documentaries sometimes – good ones – about things I know almost nothing about. For things I do know a bit about, books generally have more to offer me. The Dust Bowl, Ken Burns’ latest documentary, is a good one. The Dust Bowl was a ten year drought and series of dirt storms that was caused by overfarming in the Midwest during the 1930s. He focuses on people who were kids at the time and what it took for the prairies to recover – all told it’s about four hours long, which will be a bit much for some people. But you should check it out – it’s got implications for climate change.

Buy Dust Bowl on DVD or on Blu-Ray.
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Trailer Reviews for October 19, 2012

ALEX CROSS



Alex Cross is a detective character from a series of James Patterson thrillers who has previously been played by Morgan Freeman in Kiss the Girls and Along Came a Spider. Normally I like crime thrillers but I dislike James Patterson – I find him to be a very bland writer. This can often be made up for in a movie adaptation. However, going from Morgan Freeman to Tyler Perry (who you will remember because he plasters his name all over everything that he’s in) is not trading up. In fact, that would be a reason NOT to see this movie (ANOTHER reason to not see this movie, on top of it being based on a Patterson novel). Even in the trailer Perry impresses me with his incredible ability to be completely blank even during tense and exciting scenes. That’s just too many reasons to say no for me, especially considering I still haven’t seen Sinister yet. So I’m going to pass on this one, sorry Matthew Fox.

PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 4



This doesn’t look like a bad movie. I still don’t like the whole found footage thing, it seems like too much of a gimmick to me, especially considering how many contrived reasons they have to come up with to leave the cameras on overnight and while they’re not around or whatever, but I can overlook it if a movie seems likely to give me a series of small adrenaline induced heart attacks. The Paranormal Activity series is pretty good at that – they can ramp up the tension to the point where you have no choice but to jump when the scare comes because you’re wound tighter than the springs in a pogo stick. But still, it seems like almost a remake of previous Paranormal Activity films, so I think I’d rather see Sinister instead.

THE IMPOSTER



So… this movie is a true story about a kid who disappears and then is “found” by police, but it’s not really the same kid, and it’s creepy and weird because he’s different but kind of the same. So this movie is Changeling? No? Are you sure? Okay then… well, the trailer doesn’t really give us much to go on other than the kid likes to wear hoods a lot. If that’s all that’s weird about him, every teenage boy I’ve ever met must also be an imposter. I might watch it eventually, but only because of the true crime hook. That trailer really didn’t help me want to see it at all.

SEARCHING FOR SUGAR MAN



LOL, he sold six records in the USA and then exploded in South Africa. It’s so weird how that happens. I mean, David Hasselhoff is now a joke over here, but apparently in Europe he’s a hugely popular recording artist! I guess that means if you can’t get famous where you are, you should move. Someone somewhere will think you’re awesome. Anyway, back to the Rodriguez guy – how is it possible that no one knows what happened to him? It’s not like he lived in the 1800s or something. There was TV! I might watch this (eventually) just to find out the answer to how he could disappear so completely.

Also, if you’re in Sydney on Thursday, October 18 at 7pm you can catch the Cape Breton Film Series showing of Safety Not Guaranteed a movie that’s ostensibly about time travel but mostly about the same relationship crap as always. You can check out the trailer review here.

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DVDs for October 16, 2012

Chernobyl Diaries

The premise of Chernobyl Diaries was good – a group of idiot tourists decide to visit the irradiated site of a Ukrainian nuclear reactor meltdown and (surprise!) have horrible things happen to them. But instead of letting the debilitating radiation sickness have its day, Chernobyl Diaries feels the need to fill the abandoned town with radiation mutants, turning it into just another crappy monster flick (and insulting radiation victims while they’re at it). You can read my full review for more detail or just trust me and skip it.

Buy Chernobyl Diaries on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

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Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted

Madagascar is not my favorite cartoon franchise, largely because the incessant use of the “Move It Move It” song makes me want to drill into my own brain. This same crippling flaw is also what most appeals to kids (especially the under 5s) so this is an ideal movie to rent for your kids… as long as you’re going to be out of the room. It picks up from where Madagascar 2 left off: which four zoo animals trying to get home to New York. This time they join a European circus and are hunted by the French police equivalent of Cruella DeVille.

Buy Madagascar 3 on DVD or on Blu-Ray.
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Moonrise Kingdom

This is one of those movies where you either love it or you hate it. You can guess whether or not you will love it or hate it by consulting your feelings on Wes Anderson’s other movies. If quirky, awkward characters, slow pace, and subtle, very dry comedy make you squirmy, bored, and irritated, this is not the movie for you. If, on the other hand, you liked The Fantastic Mr. Fox, Darjeeling Limited, or The Life Aquatic, you will probably find this tale of an entire town searching for 12 year old lovers who ran away from scout camp charming and original.

Buy Moonrise Kingdom on DVD or on Blu-Ray.


Half the Sky

As a Girl Guide leader, the worldwide women’s equality movement is something I support, so rather than forcing myself to talk about James Cameron’s latest money grab (Avatar 3D) or the atrocity that is That’s My Boy, I’m going to tell you to watch this documentary series, which features stories from women around the world about how much go they can (and have) done for their communities with a few micro loans and a little more commitment to human rights. Watch this doc, seriously. I guarantee it’ll make you rethink who you donate your money to.

Buy Half the Sky on DVD.

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