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Rush Review

poster from the Imagine Entertainment film Rush

I keep saying I don’t care about cars, but Top Gear is one of my favorite shows and I was really looking forward to Rush. So on some level I must care about cars, right? Nope. I watch Top Gear because it’s funny and I’m interested in Rush because it’s about the kind of people who risk their lives for championship points, not about the cars they drive.


In the dangerous days of 1970s Formula 1 racing, heated rivals James Hunt and Niki Lauda battle for the title of world champion.

Because Rush is a clash of personalities, there’s not as much actual race car driving as you might expect from a race car movie. Instead, Ron Howard takes you inside the culture of 1970s Formula 1 – to the point where it even looks like it was shot in the 70s. It’s utterly engrossing, even for people who don’t care about cars or racing.

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Trailer Reviews for September 27, 2013

RUSH



I was raised by Formula 1 fans, so I know my Michael Schumachers from my Fernando Alonsos. However, until I saw the trailer for this movie, I’d never heard of Niki Lauda or James Hunt, probably because their rivalry played out back in the 70s, which was pretty much ancient history as far as I was concerned, even when I was watching races with my parents on a fairly regular basis. Because I don’t know the story, I’m that much more excited for the movie. Why? Because I have no idea how it plays out. Who wins? Who loses? Does anyone die? The trailer doesn’t give it away either, so seeing this film on Friday should be pretty exciting!

CLOUDY WITH A CHANCE OF MEATBALLS 2



I really liked the first Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs. It was just so completely bonkers. And it has a great title – no chance of getting a lot of extraneous results searching for THAT monster on Google! I’m sad that I’m going to miss the sequel. The trailer actually made me laugh! Shrimpanzees! Mosqui-toast! A leek in the boat! Ah ha ha ha ha ha! ‘Course, it’s only funny if you know what a leek is, so that’s kind of a parent joke. I had hoped I could fit it into my schedule next week, but next week is Gravity and after that Captain Phillips is coming… so I don’t know. This may be something I’ll have to catch on DVD.

AT ANY PRICE



The blurb for this movie starts off with ‘In the competitive world of modern…’ which makes you think it’s going to be a sports movie, but then it goes ‘agriculture’ and you go: ‘what?’ And then they switch from farming to race car driving anyway, because I guess even the movie realizes that farming is too boring to support a whole movie (though I would point to MacLeod’s Daughters to disprove that theory). A couple of weird things though: what did they do that could ruin them and why are the wind turbines the only things that make this movie look like it’s set later than the 90s?

BAGGAGE CLAIM



I feel like it’s been ages since a romantic comedy has come near my theater. We’ve been so overloaded with big budget super movies and 3D animation and gut wrenching drama that I could really use a nice relaxing romantic comedy. The premise is a little thin (but they always are with rom coms) and it’s not very original (similar thing to The Ex-List and What’s Your Number?) and it’s not obvious from the trailer who her soul mate is supposed to be (which makes me a little nervous). But it looks like it fits together well and (this is the important part) is looks FUNNY. “Nobody move! I have no life, which gives me all day to ruin yours!” Priceless! But what are the odds we’ll actually get this in my theater?

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DVDs for September 24, 2013

iron man 3

Iron Man 3

A lot of people are upset with Iron Man 3 for not having much Iron Man in it, but it was always Tony Stark (not Iron Man, per se) that held my interest (and no, not just because he’s hot!) In Iron Man 3, we get a lot of Tony without the suit as he tries to bounce back from a terrorist attack that took out his house and avoid the glowy blowing-up people who are suddenly turning up out of nowhere. I liked it better than Iron Man 2 but not quite as much as Iron Man. You can read my full review or just go ahead and watch it. It’s great.

Buy Iron Man 3 on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

unfinished song

Unfinished Song

On the opposite end of the film spectrum from loud, smashy Iron Man 3 is Unfinished Song, a quirky comedy-drama about a crotchety old man (Terence Stamp) who joins a choir to honor his dead wife’s wishes and recover a relationship with his son. It’s just as good as Iron Man 3, but in a different way. Specifically in the way that it will make you cry happy inspired tears no matter how often you tell yourself it’s not affecting you. Rent it if you’ve been wishing someone would release a music-based feature that didn’t have any back flips in it.

Buy Unfinished Song on DVD.

kings of summer

Kings of Summer

Also on the ‘didn’t cost 5 bjillion dollars to film’ end of the spectrum is Kings of Summer, a coming-of-age comedy/drama about three boys who break free of their parents and spend the summer living off the land in a cabin they built in the woods. Kings of Summer has a lot of company in the indie coming-of-age story genre, as this type of movie is cheap to film and everyone (even grown ups) can relate. Kings of Summer isn’t as annoyingly anti-adult as some of them, so if you’re a Stand By Me fan (or a teenager) you should enjoy it.

Buy Kings of Summer on DVD.

redemption

Redemption/Hummingbird

In this crime/thriller/action/drama, Jason Statham showcases his inability to be anything other than an unstoppable badass. He starts out as a homeless vet and ends up as some sort of avenging angel roaming the organized crime world freeing the downtrodden. It tries to have depth and emotion and stuff, and though the tone is kind of noir-y, there’s still Jason Statham to contend with, whose face displays all the emotion of a brick. Not enough action for the shoot-em-up crowd and not enough emotion for the gritty drama crowd, this movie ends up not being for anyone but Statham fans.

Buy Redemption/Hummingbird on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

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Prisoners Review

poster from the Warner Bros. Pictures film Prisoners

Serious dramas don’t make it through to my theater very often. We’re usually brimming over with dopey kids movies, meatheaded action franchises, and dumb comedies and there’s no room for anything intelligent. So when I heard that we were getting Prisoners on its opening weekend, I had to go. Me and about half of my town, because not only was it a serious drama, it looked like a GOOD serious drama.

A distraught father takes things into his own hands when he feels like the police aren’t doing enough to recover his missing daughter and her friend.

I watch a lot of Criminal Minds and CSI and other murder shows, so you can trust me when I tell you that this is a good one. It’s well-acted, well-written, and while I did figure out some of its secrets well in advance of the characters, there were a few crucial things that I missed which made it riveting all the way to the end.

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Trailer Reviews for September 20, 2013

BATTLE OF THE YEAR



At first I was watching this trailer thinking: didn’t they make this movie already? Wasn’t it the last Step Up sequel? And then it morphed into the cheer boot camp from Bring it On, but with acrobatic dancing, and I thought: okay, that’s something at least. And then the punchable kid from the Red Dawn remake came on screen and I thought: NOPE. Not even if you paid me.

PRISONERS



Wow, this seems like such a deadly serious movie… until Jake Gyllenhaal shows up with his shirt buttoned dorkily all the way to his neck and announces his name is Detective Loki. ‘Hi guys! Detective Norse God of Mischief here to save the day!’ In all seriousness, though, it’s an excellent trailer. It sets up the drama well but it doesn’t give away the whole thing. I feel like I need to see the movie because I want to know – did Paul Dano take the girls? Where are they? Are they alive? How far is Hugh Jackman going to go?

ADORE



This was me reading the blurb for this movie: “A pair of childhood friends and neighbors fall for each others’s sons….Oh gross! Say it isn’t so!” I was marginally comforted to watch the trailer and find that the sons are in their 20s, but still, I don’t think I’ll go. Apart from the ick factor, it looks kind of boring.

COPPERHEAD



I like war movies and period dramas but this one looks kind of boring too. Not the subject matter. That’s interesting. People fighting with their friends and family over whether they should be fighting against their friends and family. But everyone in the movie seems to be moving around at half speed and talking like they don’t really care what they’re saying. That’s boring.

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DVDs for September 17, 2013

world war z

World War Z

I know a lot of people hate this movie, largely because it has very little to do with the book it’s based on, but I really like it. Not many horror movies manage to scare me, but this one did. It’s loaded with tension as the main character tries to get his family out of a zombie-riddled city and then track down the disease’s origins and cure (I’m a sucker for epidemiology stories). The zombies are much scarier than regular zombies – they pile like ants and react to sound. Watch it with the lights on or read myfull review first.

Buy World War Z on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

the east

The East

The East is a boring title that tells you nothing about the movie and makes it difficult to get relevant search results on Google, so let me make it easy for me. This is a dark thriller about a woman who gets hired by a security company to infiltrate a group of anarchists who are launching guerrilla attacks against the company’s sleazy big-business clients. She kind of falls down the rabbit hole and ends up questioning whose side she should be on (especially when she meets the hot ringleader – Alexander Skarsgard). It’s pretty good. Check it out.

Buy The East on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

scenic route

Scenic Route

I have to laugh at this one. The DVD box makes it look like a quirky comedy, like ‘oh, haha, this dude went on a road trip and ended up with dirty clothes and a goofy haircut’ but if you watch the movie or the trailer, it’s obvious that it’s a serious psychological horror/thriller about a pair of guys who come unhinged after their truck breaks down in the desert. I don’t know about you, but I’d have preferred the first scenario. Still, there is the Josh Duhamel factor, and it’s not bad for what it is.

Buy Scenic Route on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

disconnect

Disconnect

This is a drama/thriller, but it should really be classed as a public service announcement and shown in schools, because it’s all about the different ways you can totally screw yourself over by posting too much online. Cyberbullying, sexual exploitation, scams, stalking, and just generally spending so much time digitally connected that you forget to have a life in the real world – it’s all in here, each issue presented as a different subplot in an ensemble drama. There have been a couple of ‘online dangers’ issue movies, but this is the best one so far.

Buy Disconnect on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

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The Family Review

poster from the Relativity Media film The Family

It was a lean week again for movies, and though I didn’t really want to spend my hard earned money on either of the offerings – Insidious 2 and The Family – I couldn’t keep making up reviews forever, so I accepted an invitation to see The Family. The trailer was mildly funny but led me to believe that most of the comedy would come from wonton violence and that half of France would be demolished in the final shootout.

A family of New York mobsters who snitched on the higher ups hide out in small town France as part of a witness protection program.

While The Family wasn’t as much of a free-for-all on bodily harm as Luc Besson’s last movie ( Taken) it was still more than I could handle without getting annoyed. Also, it was boring in places, the characters weren’t all that likeable, and the plot is full of contrivances. Oh, and they do murder half of France in the end.

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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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