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DVDs for April 8, 2014

smaug

The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug

Attention my one friend who likes these movies (hi, John): the longest movie in the world is now available to bore you right in your own home! If you’re the type that likes the extra long, extra boring re-cuts (hello again, John) then you’ll want to wait for the extended edition. This one only has a few featurettes. For those of you who aren’t familiar, this is the second film in a one-book trilogy about a hobbit and some dwarfs who are trying to kick a dragon out of a mountain. There’s a lot of filler. Read my review for more.

Buy The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

grudge match

Grudge Match

Other appropriate titles for this film would be Bum Fights: The Movie and Battle of the 80s Has-Beens: a sort-of Music and Lyrics Spinoff (but not really). It features creaky old Sylvester Stallone and flabby old Robert DeNiro as a pair of aging boxing rivals who agree to make a spectacle of themselves in public for money by fighting a rematch. If you want to see a comedy where 9/10 jokes are in the vein of “I’m too old for this sh**”, this is the movie for you. Otherwise, I wouldn’t bother.

Buy Grudge Match on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

marked ones

Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones

Otherwise known as Paranormal Activity: The Other Side of the Tracks. Whereas the previous films have all featured hauntings among white suburban families, this movie switches things up a little. It’s still found footage and it’s still connected to the overarching story, but it’s about an inner-city Hispanic kid who gets possessed after he sticks his nose in his weird neighbor’s business. It’s rather a lot like all the other possession movies, but if you’re into horror I still think you should see it. There’s a scene where the kid pulls a worm out of his own eyeball.

Buy Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

august osage

August: Osage County

I am not a fan of dysfunctional family dramas, especially not when they’re adapted from plays, because there tends to be too much talking and not enough happening. That’s the kind of movie this is. Here’s the extent of the story: there’s a family crisis, the whole family comes home, they squabble a lot until the movie’s over. There are a lot of famous people in it, but that’s because they like to flex their acting muscles by getting all worked up and yelling at each other, not because the story is good. Critics like it, but normal people… not so much.

Buy August: Osage County on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

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DVDs for April 1, 2014

47 ronin

47 Ronin

Based on a true story (sort of), 47 Ronin features a group of samurai who attack a rival faction to get revenge for the death of their master. The difference between this movie and the other 47 million films about Japanese martial arts is that this one is American, stars Keanu Reeves, and is mostly a vehicle for CGI. Paradoxically, this Japanese story will best be enjoyed by people who are not fans of Japanese cinema because it seems so inferior by comparison. However, if you just want to watch some hackey slashy and cool special effects, you might actually enjoy it.

Buy 47 Ronin on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

anchorman 2

Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues

Will Ferrell’s iconic newsman and his entourage emerge from the 1970s and attempt to join the 80s by taking over a 24 hour news channel. Like Anchorman, you’ll either love this movie or hate it. Unfortunately the litmus tests seems to be attempting to watch one of the films. Haters (like me) rarely make it to the end. Some clues that you might not like this movie include: disliking other Will Ferrell movies, being offended by sexist/racist/anythingist jokes, and squirming with agony when characters embarrass themselves. Watch at your own risk.

Buy Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

pirate fairy

The Pirate Fairy

In this straight-to-DVD movie, Disney makes yet another feeble attempt to bring its Princess properties into the 21st century… by slapping a 19th century bar wench outfit on a fairy and setting her up as a misunderstood Tinkerbell villain. She apparently stole some pixie dust and Tinkerbell’s crew has to rescue it whilst attempting to sort out their switched-around powers. It’s a Tinkerbell movie so a lot of little girls will like it, but it mostly leaves me wondering who switched Disney’s brains around with bags of rocks.

Buy The Pirate Fairy on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

knights of badassdom

Knights of Badassdom

Knights of Badassdom is a goofy horror comedy about a group of scewups who accidentally summon a succubus while at a live action roleplaying convention (sort of like a pretend medieval camping trip/battle re-enactment). It’s better than Your Highness, mostly because it stars Peter Dinklage and Ryan Kwanten instead of Danny McBride, but it’s still pretty dumb. You might like it if you’re a fan of that Supernatural episode where Sam and Dean infiltrate a LARP convention as part of a case.

Buy Knights of Badassdom on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

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Winter’s Tale Review

poster from the Warner Bros. Pictures film Winters Tale

I was underwhelmed by this week’s movie choices: one remake of an 80s movie (Robocop), one film adaptation of a novel (Winter’s Tale), and one film adaptation of a novel that is also a remake of an 80s movie (Endless Love). I probably should have said ‘the hell with it’ and gone to Vampire Academy but I didn’t. I went to Winter’s Tale. Blame Colin Farrell.

Angels conspire to help a handsome thief fall in love with a lonely girl dying of tuberculosis before Lucifer’s forces can kill him.

Winter’s Tale is partly historical fiction, as it’s mostly set in the early 1900s, and partly fantasy, because there are angels and demons and magic horses. It’s the literary type of fantasy, though, because the magic is just there to assist the story in being DEEP and MOVING. So it’s soppy, but the damn thing managed to make me cry anyway.

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Trailer Reviews for February 14, 2014

ROBOCOP



Oh joy. Another unnecessary 80s remake. Seriously, this has got to stop. Studios are obsessed with ‘established properties’ (i.e. not taking any risks) and I feel like if I support it by handing over money for a ticket, it will result in the total death of new big-budget movie ideas. If you think I’m overreacting, scroll down. The other two movies coming out this week are based on books. And so are 4 of the 7 other movies playing this weekend. Of the remaining 3, one is based on a toy franchise and the other is based on a meme, leaving a total of one original film out of 10. And I can’t even watch that movie, because it’s stupid.

WINTER’S TALE



I guess Robocop was a token nod to the existence of single people, because the other two movies coming out this week are (unsurprisingly) romances. This looks like the better of the two. And no, not because it has Colin Farrell (okay, not ONLY because it has Colin Farrell). I’m not sure how much magic comes into play here, because when Russell Crowe orders the death of his rival he makes sure to mention that he wants the guy to stay dead (like people routinely spring back to life in this movie’s world) but then he acts really surprised to find out the guy’s still alive. Also this movie gets the award for most unintentionally hilarious line: “I’ve had no memory ever since I can remember.” What?

ENDLESS LOVE



My friend assures me that this movie (and the book it’s based on) are romantic, but you’ll have to forgive me if my heart doesn’t melt at the thought of a guy who is so obsessed with his girlfriend that he stalks her and burns her house down. That’s the kind of Twilight-styke love we’d all be better off without. How uplifting and Valentines-y. I wouldn’t have seen it anyway, but if you’re also opposed to remakes you should know that this isn’t just a novel adaptation but a remake of a novel adaptation from 1981 (the freaking 80s again… are we trying to reclaim our glory days or something?)

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Trailer Reviews for February 7, 2014

THE LEGO MOVIE



It’s probably just a cynical marketing ploy to sell more toys (I couldn’t help noticing the LEGO Movie themed building sets in the Target flyer) but I MUST see this movie. It’s like one of those Superhero Movie type parodies of The Matrix, but actually funny to actual adults (okay, to ME) and with all the characters played by LEGO minifigures. What more could you want?? Also, if you need me I’ll be at the store buying (more) toys.

VAMPIRE ACADEMY



Dang! I also really want to see this movie. I know it doesn’t look like much in this trailer – kind of a Buffy the Vampire Slayer goes to vampire high school type thing, but I saw a much snarkier and funnier trailer earlier (which I can’t find now). I’ve also read the book and discovered that it has many redeeming features, including the fact that it a) makes sense b) has action and c) features characters that are not cardboard cutouts with holes cut where their faces should be (in other words, not like Twilight). But in a LEGO/Vampires battle, Batman always wins.

THE MONUMENTS MEN



My degree is in history and most of the courses I took were war (specifically World War II) related. And I like war movies. So this movie SHOULD pose a dilemma for me when stacked up against The LEGO Movie and Vampire Academy. But The Monuments Men easily loses out to the other two. Why? One of my reasons is right there in the title. Monuments MEN. I know it’s historically accurate, but if I have to watch one more movie where the only female characters are the real characters’ girlfriends, I’m going to scream. Second and third reasons: Matt Damon and George Clooney. I know they have a fan club, but I am not in it.

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DVDs for January 28, 2014

rush

Rush

Rush is the first of two movies where Daniel Bruhl knocked my socks off. He and Chris Hemsworth play Niki Lauda and James Hunt, a pair of real-life 1970s Formula One drivers competing for the championship in an era where safety comes a distant second to driving really fast in a tank full of flammable liquid. You can read my review for more. Once you’ve watched Rush (and you should) check out another of this week’s DVD’s: 1: a Formula One documentary on the drivers who changed the face of the sport by pushing for safety measures.

Buy Rush on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

fifth estate

The Fifth Estate

Coincidentally, here’s the second movie where Daniel Bruhl knocked my socks off! In this one he plays computer hacker Daniel Berg opposite Benedict Cumberbatch’s Julian Assange, founder of Wikileaks. The story follows their friendship and falling out as Wikileaks rises from obscurity to international fame and controversy. It’s based on Daniel Berg’s book, so it’s not Julian Assange’s favorite movie in the world, but it’s definitely worth checking out. You can read my review for more.

Buy Fifth Estate on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

last vegas

Last Vegas

Last Vegas is essentially a tamer, old-man version of The Hangover where three crochety retirees (Morgan Freeman, Kevin Kline, and Robert DeNiro) meet their suave pal (Michael Douglas) in Las Vegas for his bachelor party (he’s marrying a much younger woman). After they’re mistaken for mobsters, suddenly they can have anything they want. The question is: what do they want? I really liked it – I thought it was sweet and funny. If you prefer your comedy crude, stick with The Hangover.

Buy Last Vegas on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

meatballs 2

Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2

If you want something totally weird and different to watch with your kids, choose these movies. Flint Lockwood, the inventor from the previous movie, returns with his friends to his old town to find that his food-making machine is creating hilarious and menacing hybrid food-animals (hippo potatoes, shrimp chimps, mosquito toast, etc). Kids will love it because it’s wacky and colorful. You’ll like it because it’s a) actually funny and b) not the same cliched princess crap all over again. Check it out.

Buy Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2 on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

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The Secret Life of Walter Mitty Review

poster from the Twentieth Century Fox Film The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

I didn’t think I’d be able to see a movie this week because of the holidays, but I’d forgotten how the combination of early rising and overeating always makes my family unfit for anything but comas and movie watching by Christmas evening. The Secret Life of Walter Mitty was acceptable to all, even though it was a) a remake and b) possibly too focused on visuals and c) likely to be a dream in the end.

A photographic negatives manager at Life magazine travels the world looking for his photographer friend after he discovers the final issue cover image is missing.

Now that I’ve seen it I’m happy to say that Walter Mitty did everything right. It was not (spoiler alert) all dream in the end. The visuals complimented the story instead of trying to BE the story. And the remade version is different enough from both the original short story and the first movie to be considered a completely new entity. I recommend it!

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The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug Review

poster from the Warner Bros. Pictures film The Hobbit Desolation of Smaug

I’m not a J.R.R. Tolkien fan, and after the epically too-long nothing-fest that was The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, I wasn’t looking forward to Desolation of Smaug either. In fact, I was all geared up to see Saving Mr. Banks this week until I found out we weren’t going to get it here. So here I am, talking about the second of three movies that should have been one.

A raiding party of dwarves travel to a deserted mountain kingdom to steal a special gem from the dragon who displaced them many years ago.

The most I was really hoping for from Desolation of Smaug was that it be bearable. And it looked like it was going to be – in the beginning it was fun and lively and interesting. But then it went on and on and on and on and on and finally ended with no payoff for any of the plots they were developing, so in the end I wasn’t impressed.

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Trailers for December 13, 2013

THE HOBBIT: DESOLATION OF SMAUG



To be perfectly honest, after last year’s The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey failed to do more than get the massive, indistinguishable clump of dwarves within binocular viewing distance of their destination, I’m not eager to see this movie. As the middle chapter in a trilogy of movies made from a single not-even-very-long book, it will have more time to waste than the other two, which at least have beginnings and endings to deal with. Fans will no doubt lap up the time wasting and beg for more, but I can’t read more than a few chapters of J.R.R. Tolkien without wondering why I’m torturing myself. Unfortunately, it looks like I’ll have to see this movie. We’re not getting Saving Mr. Banks at my theater.

SAVING MR. BANKS



Now HERE’S a movie that interests me. As a writer who has experienced the attempted hijacking of my work by clueless people, I can understand why P.L. Travers was so reluctant to sell the rights to Mary Poppins despite Walt Disney’s 20 years of asking for them. Though obviously she did eventually and Dick Van Dyke was in it and there were lots of words in it that were made up, so I have to wonder – how’d he get her to change her mind? Plus, Emma Thompson is just great in everything.

TYLER PERRY’S A MADEA CHRISTMAS



Okay, I’m not normally a Tyler Perry fan, but this looks funny in an “I need something upbeat and uncomplicated for my family to watch on Christmas eve” way. I’m ALWAYS looking for more of those movies so I won’t have to watch Love Actually again. Favorite joke:
“Your daughter is grown. Leave her alone!”
“I’ll pay you.”
“When do we leave?”

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DVDs for December 3, 2013

wolverine

THE WOLVERINE

Otherwise known (by me) as Wolverine Goes to Japan to distinguish it from the other standalone Wolverine movie from 2009, which wasn’t that great. Wolverine Goes to Japan, however, is pretty awesome, largely because it keeps things simple. Wolverine turns to a Japanese mutant for help after his healing powers are stolen as part of a ploy to take over a major Japanese corporation. It only loses points in my book by referencing X-Men: The Last Stand, which should be forgotten once and for all. Read my full review for more.

Buy The Wolverine on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

city of bones

Mortal Instruments: City of Bones

I really enjoyed the Mortal Instruments book series, and for a book adaptation, the movie is surprisingly okay. The story centers around a teenage girl who discovers that she belongs to an ancient race of demon hunters after her mom is kidnapped by bad guys. There’s lots of action, a well rounded main character, and some cool mythology. However the plot was a bit confusing, the boyfriend character was kind of odd looking, and my favorite character Alec was pushed into the background. Read my review for a full rundown or just watch it yourself. Book reading is optional but recommended.

Buy City of Bones on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

smurfs 2

Smurfs 2

Ugh, I used to watch The Smurfs as a kid even though I didn’t really like them. As an adult, I don’t just find them annoying and stupid but also sexist, pervy, and unfunny. In this second film, Smurfette (the ONLY female smurf in a community of several generations) is kidnapped by the wizard Gargamel so she can use a magic smurf-making spell (sex?) to turn his evil anti-Smurfs into real Smurfs for… some reason related to magic. But since Smurfette FOR SOME REASON has always felt “different” from other Smurfs she might not want to go home. Ick. Watch The Muppets instead.

Buy Smurfs 2 on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

drinking buddies

Drinking Buddies

This movie looks like a light, fun comedy about two best friends (Olivia Wilde and Jake Johnson) who work at a brewery together and COULD have a thing were it not for the fact that they’re both in long term relationships (with Ron Livingston and Anna Kendrick respectively). However it’s more of a funny-awkward dramedy with inappropriate flirting and breakups than a flat out comedy and things don’t work out as perfectly as they would in a true rom com, so if you’re planning on renting it, just keep that in mind. But for quirky indie true-to-life dramedy people? Perfect.

Buy Drinking Buddies on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

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