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DVDs for April 5, 2011

Tron Legacy

Disney dropped the ball in November by not putting the original Tron out on Blu-Ray, but they’re making up for it now by putting out about a dozen different Blu-Ray and DVD combos and special editions of Tron Legacy and the original Tron in 3D and regular D. The original Tron blew everyone’s mind in the 1980s and Tron Legacy, which came out last December, was a 3D extravaganza featuring old original cast members Jeff Bridges and Bruce Boxleitner as well as relative youngsters Garrett Hedlund and Olivia Wilde. Both are about life-or death adventures taking place inside a high-tech computer game. You can check out my Tron Legacy review if you need details.

Buy the Tron movies on some combination of DVD, Blu-Ray, and 3D .


The Chronicles of Narnia: Voyage of the Dawn Treader

Voyage of the Dawn Treader is the third film in the Narnia series, and while the second, Prince Caspian, wasn’t really different enough from the first to bother with, the third is completely different. Only the two youngest children (Skandar Keynes and Georgie Henly) and and their cousin (Will Poulter) come through to Narnia this time and go on a Pirates of the Caribbean style adventure with Prince Caspian (Ben Barnes) where they meet everything from sea monsters to dragons . Kids will think it’s pretty awesome, but the only adults who will find anything to like about it are the ones who are already predisposed to like both fantasy and kids’ movies. Click here to see my full review.

Buy Voyage of the Dawn Treader on DVD or on Blu-Ray.


Little Fockers

Ugh, I hate these movies. Ben Stiller is not funny. Robert De Niro is not funny. The writing is not funny. It’s just a series of obvious jokes and physical gags that are more embarrassing than amusing. Painful to watch from start to finish. But apparently I’m alone in thinking this, because Little Fockers was at the top of the box office for several weeks prior to Christmas. I guess if you liked Meet the Parents and Meet the Fockers, you’d better get this one, too. It’s got kids in it this time, and nobody is meeting anybody for the first time. That’s about the only difference.

Buy Little Fockers on DVD or on Blu-Ray.


I Love You, Phillip Morris

I thought this was out on DVD a while ago, but I guess I was wrong. I Love You, Phillip Morris is a cross between Me, Myself and Irene, Catch Me If You Can, and Brokeback Mountain, if you can believe that. Plus: it’s a true story. Jim Carey reverts to his hilarious old ways (from before he started trying to be serious), this time as a bisexual con man. His partner (whom he meets in prison), is played by Ewan McGregor, so you know it’s going to be good. Rent it even if you don’t have an open mind, because maybe you’ll have one afterward. And also a pain in your face from laughing so hard.

Buy I Love You, Phillip Morris on DVD or on Blu-Ray.
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Harry Potter 7.5

If you’re like me, you’re eagerly awaiting the second film installment of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. The last movie, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 came out in November and largely dealt with the part in the books where Harry, Ron, and Hermione spend about six months mucking about in the countryside. Part 2, which comes out on July 15, features a huge final battle and is widely known as “the good part” or “the part where stuff actually happens.”

Part 2 is going to be a lot more exciting, but there are some elements of Part 1 that will be carried over. The animated section during Hermione’s retelling of “The Tale of The Three Brothers” was critically lauded as the best part of the film, so animation director Ben Hibon has been asked back to do an animated final credits sequence, which I fully expect to be totally awesome, like that sequence from the end of Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events.

And though Part 2 is going to be the darkest of all the Potter movies, director David Yates has revealed that there will be a few moments of levity included for the purposes of audience relief. There will be a brief moment during Harry, Ron, and Hermione’s search for Helga Hufflepuff’s cup in Gringott’s Bank where sharp eyed people can catch a glimpse of Monty Python character King Arthur from Monty Python and the Holy Grail trying to get into another vault containing the grail, which is guarded by two French knights. John Cleese and Michael Palin will reprise their roles as the French knights, and Arthur will be played by a computer generated recreation of Graham Chapman, who died in 1989 (similar to how “young Kevin Flynn” was created for Tron Legacy, so we’ll see how well THAT works out.)

For more sneak peeks into what you can expect from the latest Harry Potter movie, check out news section of the official website.

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DVDs for March 29, 2011

Tangled

A lot of people point to some of Disney’s lackluster CGI efforts (Mars Needs Moms, A Christmas Carol, etc.) as evidence that classical animation is superior, but this movie really shows that the new paradigm can be super awesome when it wants to be. This 3D CGI animated tale is hilarious updated telling of the Rapunzel myth. There’s adventure, romance, comedy, musical numbers, and a cute horse support character. What more could you want? Rent this movie immediately, regardless of whether or not you have any children. You can check out my full review for confirmation of it’s awesomeness.

Buy Tangled on DVD or on Blu-Ray or on 3D Blu-Ray.

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Black Swan

There are two reasons you might want to see Black Swan. 1) You’re watching your way through all the Academy Award nominees. 2) You’re looking for something that will explode your brain. You might be forgiven for thinking that ballet fans will also be interested, but although the story focuses on a ballerina (Natalie Portman) and her struggles against being replaced by a younger model ballerina (Mila Kunis), this is more of a psychological thriller than anything else. Normal ballerinas do not grow feathers. I think that should give you enough information to decide if you want to see it.

Buy Black Swan on DVD or on Blu-Ray.
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Fair Game

This movie took a long time to be released on DVD. It’s that one you probably heard about briefly months and months ago but never went to see in theaters, where a CIA agent played by Naomi Watts gets outed and put in danger by her own bosses after her husband (Sean Penn) criticizes the Bush administration. It’s the true story of Valerie Plame, and it’s definitely worth checking out. Not only is it entertaining (especially if you like thrillers) but it’s also good to educate yourself on the kind of crap you could get caught up in if you decide to work for the government.

Buy Fair Game on DVD or on Blu-Ray.
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Made in Dagenham

I love Sally Hawkins. She’s just so delightful to watch. I’d tell you to rent this movie for that reason alone, but Made in Dagenham has also got the added recommendation of being British, and you know how I feel about British film. If you absolutely MUST know what it’s about first, it’s the mostly true story of a strike at the Dagenham auto factory in 1968, when the female employees got fed up with being paid less and demanded their fair share. It’s funny and lively rather than dark and angry, so even if you’re not a feminist you’ll probably enjoy it.

Buy Made in Dagenham on DVD or on Blu-Ray.
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Sucker Punch Review

poster from the Warner Bros. film Sucker Punch

This was an awfully lean week for new movies. My choices were limited to Roderick Rules, which I could only be induced to suffer through in exchange for a large pile money, and Sucker Punch, which was greatly anticipated by comic book nerds but looks retarded. Stupid won out over torturous, of course. Sucker Punch is Zack Snyder’s third blowout action movie, the other two being 300 (dumb) and Watchmen (decent). It looks like another comic book movie, but actually it’s not. He made up the whole thing and it goes like this:

A young woman finds refuge in escape plans and fantasy worlds after she is committed to an institution for the criminally insane.

The thing about his making up the whole thing himself is that there’s no one else he can blame when the movie turns out badly. I’m guessing a lot of people will be sucked in by the trailer’s visuals forget to think about that crucial, make-or-break element: story. I’ve watched the movie. I’ve seen the visuals. I know the story. So I can now tell you that my suspicions were correct. Sucker Punch is retarded.

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The Impracticalities of Being a Female Superhero

If you’re a reader of comic books (sorry, “graphic novels”), a player of video games, or a watcher of movies, you’ve no doubt noticed that the female superheroes always seem to have hardly any clothes on, and what little they do wear is skintight and usually made of leather. Their hair is generally about four feet long and salon styled with some sort of headbands or ribbons that are more adornments than tie-backs, and their boots have heels in excess of six inches. This is all well and good if you’re a drooling fan watching the female superhero, but what if you ARE the female superhero?

You would have to hope there was never anything on a high shelf that you needed, because your skintight uniform would make it impossible to raise your arms above your head.

You’d have to cart around an extra large purse with your sneakers and sports bra in it, just in case any criminals tried to get away, otherwise you’d end up with two sprained ankles and a bad concussion from your huge, wildly jiggling boobs hitting you in the face.

You’d be limited to about two months out of the year for superheroing unless you lived in the tropics, because wearing a string bikini outside in a New York City winter will give you frostbitten nipples no matter how vigorously you’re working out.

You’d have to avoid any rooms containing conveyor belts, engines, garbage disposals, large clocks, or any machinery with rotating parts for fear of your improbably long hairdo getting caught in the works and ripping your whole scalp off.

You would have to approach criminals from the front and hope the sight of your rather arresting costume will freeze them in place so you can nab them, because with all that leather creaking and groaning, you’d only be able to sneak on the deaf representatives of the feloniusly inclined.

You would have to coat the inside of your uniform torso with double sided tape to reduce the chances of the ladies springing free in the middle of a punch-up.

You would have to keep a hospital-worthy collection of gauze pads and antibacterial cream in your super-purse to treat your super rug burns in case you had to slide under a truck, brush against a brick wall, or touch anyone who hadn’t shaved yet that day.

On the other hand, though, if you ever had to go after a straight female or a gay male criminal, they would be easy to apprehend on account of they would fall over laughing the instant they caught sight of your ridiculously impractical outfit.

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Trailer Reviews for March 25, 2011

SUCKER PUNCH



What is this asylum, the Home for Abucted Hookers? Because real crazy people do not take care of themselves. They’re not pretty and shapely like these ladies. Even non-crazy abducted people usually don’t get to eat/wash/brush/etc. But since this is one of Zack Snyder’s over-stylized movies, I guess their ludicrously consistent level of attractiveness needs to be taken as read. You would think, from this and the “you must find five items” plot, that Sucker Punch was either originally a comic book or a video game, but it’s not. It’s original. I think when I see it, though, I’m going to find that it would be better as a comic book or a video game. I like action movies as much as (perhaps even more than) the next person, but I just can’t see the point of a movie where everything important happens in their imagination and has no impact on the real world.

DIARY OF A WIMPY KID 2: RODERICK RULES



Those of you who have read my Diary of a Wimpy Kid review already know that I am not a fan of the Wimpy Kid series. The books are basically cartoony easy readers filled with awkward jokes and a main character who’s a huge jerk rather than a wimp. The movie took these facets and blew them up, making the whole thing even worse. From what I’ve seen of Roderick Rules it’s more of the same. At least Zachary Gordon is looking more like the adolescent he’s supposed to be (even if he hasn’t gotten any better at acting). Still, there’s almost no chance of my ever seeing this movie. Your kid will want to go, because it’s popular, but I’d think twice. For one thing you’re basically going to be tortured for ninety minutes, and for the other, Greg Heffley is not the kind of character you want making an impression on your kid.

HOBO WITH A SHOTGUN



Either this was shot on a very low budget or the set designer for this movie has never been in a hospital in his life, because those babies are not lying in bassinets but in plastic bathtubs perched on top of filing cabinets. Here at least is a horror movie that knows it’s a joke. Even if the explosions of kool-aid looking blood and the ridiculously elaborate death setups doesn’t clue anyone in, the title is a dead giveaway. How much more on the nose can you get? As funny as this trailer is, I think I would get tired of it in two hour form. There’s only so many times you can laugh at an old guy with a shotgun or a line of cheesy dialogue used slightly more facetiously than in a hundred other horror films before you get bored and change the channel.

WEST IS WEST



I know they wanted to play on the name of their first film, East is East but Pakistan is still east of Britain, so how does the title make any sense? Whatever, so it’s a fish out of water story where he goes to Pakistan and he hates it… but then he won’t go home? Are we missing some scenes of him enjoying himself in between these two things, Mr/Ms Trailer Cutter? I’m usually fond of British comedy and the printed synopsis of the film interested me, but the trailer is badly done. It doesn’t make much sense. The movie is probably better, but they’re shooting themselves in the foot here.

And then the Cape Breton Film Series is showing Another Year. I’ve talked about it before in my trailer review segments. It’s playing Thursday night at 7pm only.

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Trailer Reviews for March 18, 2011

Releasing this weekend: Limitless, Lincoln Lawyer, Paul, and the limited release Jane Eyre, plus the Cape Breton Film series is showing Somewhere.

LIMITLESS



Why is it that the only writers who have cool things happen to them in the movies are the hopeless, hobo looking ones who haven’t actually written a word and yet somehow manage to smoke, drink themselves stupid, and pay for an apartment in New York? Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying I want my life to degenerate into a secret government conspiracy to kill me, but it’d be nice to be given super special powers or something. I’m not sure what I’d do if I had access to my whole brain. Probably invent myself an X-Wing and a lightsaber and learn to move things with my mind. Anyway, the idea is a cool one. I’d see this movie.

LINCOLN LAWYER



Out of all of the Michael Connolly books I’ve read, Lincoln Lawyer was probably my least favorite. I’d complain, but after the hash they made adapting Blood Work, I’m not so sure I want Hollywood anywhere near my favorite titles. I don’t mind Matthew McConaughey. He’s definitely less slimy and more attractive than the ponytailed lawyer in the book version. I also really like Ryan Phillippe and Josh Lucas, and judging from the trailer, I think the movie could be decent, if not good. But I’m kind of spoiled on the ending since I’ve read the book. The twists are never as good the second time around, so I think I’ll give a pass on paying $11.50 to see it in the theaters.

PAUL



Given how tightly Simon Pegg and Nick Frost are attached at the hip, it’s a wonder they ever managed to detach them long enough to film Pegg’s “Scotty” scenes in Star Trek. This is their fourth movie together (I think) and this time they’ve added an annoying American comic actor as their sidekick/star/McGuffin (depending on how you look at it). This film will automatically be less awesome than their others on account of it not being fully British and having Seth Rogan in it (though not ALL of him, luckily) but it could be decently funny. I like science fiction and aliens and comedy. I smiled several times during the trailer. So I might give it a go eventually.

JANE EYRE



I remember reading Jane Eyre long ago, perhaps in high school (though not FOR school), and liking it. I remember there being some sort of creepy mystery involving Mr. Rochester’s house, but not what it was. Which is awesome, actually, because it means that when I finally get to see this movie (it probably won’t be until it comes out on DVD) that I’ll be surprised by what happens near the end. Unless of course something before that reminds me how things turn out. I hope nothing does, because I’ve been rather impressed with Mia Wasikowska (she was in Alice in Wonderland), Michael Fassbender (Inglorious Basterds), Jamie Bell (Billy Elliot, The Eagle), and Sally Hawkins (Persuasion, Happy-Go-Lucky) and I really want to see their efforts unencumbered by my own mental images.

And then there’s Somewhere. It’s that new Sofia Coppola one. It was out for real a long time ago. You can check out my trailer review to see what I thought before you go. It pays at 7pm on Thursday only.

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Red Riding Hood Review

poster from the Warner Bros. film Red Riding Hood

Everyone has heard the story of little red riding hood. In it, a young girl sets out to bring food to her grandma in the woods and is too thick to immediately recognize that she’s actually in the presence of a talking wolf, whereupon she is either eaten or chased around a bit before being rescued by a handsome woodsman depending on how badly your parents wanted you to be traumatized. The moral of the story is never bring food to your grandmother, so Warner Bros. banked on the fact that since no one is bringing food to their grandmothers, everyone would have enough time to see a movie version of this classic story:

A young woman caught between two suitors becomes the center of controversy when it turns out that someone in their village is a murderous werewolf.

Okay, so it’s not really the story our parents told us. It’s more like the gruesome old-timey version that’s been tweaked to appeal to the Twilight crowd, what with the two suitors and how one of them may or may not be a werewolf. In fact, the only real similarities between the movie and story we were all told is that the main character wears a red cape and has a grandmother. So really, it’s just another movie. The question is: is it a good one? The answer: yeah, mostly.

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Trailer Reviews for March 11, 2011

Releasing this weekend: Battle: Los Angeles, Red Riding Hood, Mars Needs Moms, Cedar Rapids, The Extraordinary Adventures of Adele Blanc-Sec, and the Cape Breton Film series is showing Inside Job.

BATTLE: LOS ANGELES



Okay, so do the aliens really sing lullabies in Wall-E filter-voice or is that just a gimmick they made up in order to have some contrast in the trailer? Because from the visuals, this whole movie looks like just one big battle (hence the title, I suppose). Kind of like Independence Day, but without all that pesky talking. Or like Skyline, period. Come to think of it, why did they feel it necessary to make this movie? The trailer gives no hint of any factor that might indicate it has anything new and different to offer, so I am forced to conclude that it doesn’t. It’s the same alien invasion movie as always, except this time starring Aaron Eckhart and the aliens from Space: Above and Beyond (remember that show?)

RED RIDING HOOD



So this is like the 1300s, but she’s dating a boy who looks like he stepped off the cast poster for Twilight? Give me a break. (I’m guessing that’s the director’s influence) This seems like a pretty cool setup for a thriller/horror/mystery type story – there’s a werewolf and it’s someone in town. It’s kind of like one of those Agatha Christie whodunnits where they’re all cloistered in Lord So-And-So’s country house. I don’t see how it’s related to the fairy tale of little red riding hood, apart from the fact that Amanda Seyfried has a red cape on and it’s got a hood. Is the wolf going to pretend to be her grandmother? Is she going to bring it cakes in a picnic basket? I might be intrigued enough to actually pay for a ticket in order to find out.

MARS NEEDS MOMS



Ugh, Disney, what were you thinking? Everything about this movie just drips with lameness. There’s not one line of dialogue in this whole trailer that didn’t make me cringe, and they probably cut in their BEST lines to draw people in! They actually used the words “butt blasters.” Make no mistake – this isn’t a family movie, like Wall-E or How to Train Your Dragon, where there are jokes and themes that adults AND kids can relate to. This is a straight-up kids’ movie of the kind that make parents groan and wish they were somewhere else. So if your kid is begging to see this movie, find some poor unsuspecting relation to foist them off on. You can call it bonding time.

CEDAR RAPIDS



I’m still trying to figure out how my least favorite Saturday Night Live actor became a big mainstream comedy movie star. Personally, I blame The Hangover. Ever since then Ed Helms has been everywhere, and I don’t like it. I don’t think he’s funny. I’m not a particular fan of John C. Reilly, either, at least not as a leading comedy man. I like him in a subsidiary role, like in Talladega Nights. But alas, I hardly ever get what I want, and sometimes I get the total opposite of what I want. Which is pretty much what this movie is: an awkward, old nerd comedy starring two of the ranking names on my “least funny comedy actors” list. Oh well. At least no one’s forcing me to see it.

THE EXTRAORDINARY ADVENTURES OF ADELE BLANC-SEC



If you couldn’t tell from that babble at the end of the trailer, this is a French movie (a French-Quebec movie, not a French-France movie, as evidenced by the fact that it is not fractured and/or incredibly depressing). Therefore, it will probably only be playing in theaters in French areas, and perhaps later on in subtitle-o-vision in the tiny theaters in English areas. It is unlikely that I will come across an English copy before the DVD comes out, which is a shame, because it looks really cool. Adventure, pterodactyls, early 20th Centuryness… like a kids’ book, but in movie form, and for grown-ups. I’d go.

And then there’s Inside Job. The film series missed the boat on that one, as it’s already out on DVD (I talked about it in the post before this one), but if you want to see it on the big screen, Thursday night at 7pm is your last chance. Check out my trailer review to see if you find it interesting enough to go.

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Trailer Reviews for March 4, 2011

Releasing this weekend: The Adjustment Bureau, Rango, Beastly, Another Year and the Cape Breton Film series is showing Blue Valentine.

THE ADJUSTMENT BUREAU



Now this looks interesting! I just love it when there’s a huge dark conspiracy. The huger and darker the better (does that mean I’m paranoid, or that I want to be paranoid?) Anyway, I’m not a Matt Damon fan (I find him very bland and not at all attractive, I’m not sure what all the fuss is about) but I like Emily Blunt. Besides, the idea and story in this movie look interesting enough to stir me out of my apathy. Like Wanted but not lame. Blank faced old men in suits and hats are the cliché of posh evilness (even if they don’t float around like the ones on Buffy the Vampire Slayer) and the whole “we monitor the entire world” thing sounds just a little too much like Santa Claus physics, even for movie believability, but the coolness… oh the coolness. I’d totally see this one.

RANGO



Oddly, animated films tend to be very close-lipped about their plots, at least until the last minute when they release a trailer that actually shows you more than one scene from the film. Except this IS the long trailer, and I’m still not sure what’s going on. I gather from the TV spots that Rango (the lizard who is voiced by Johnny Depp) is in town to become the new sheriff, but why that involved walking through the desert and almost getting eaten by a hawk is beyond me. All the same, I loved Pirates of the Caribbean, and I do rather like Johnny Depp (though it is odd to see him in a movie without his bosom buddy Tim Burton) so this is another movie that I’d totally see. Two in one week!

BEASTLY



Hrm. I see I have a dilemma on my hands. There are not two but THREE movies coming out this week that look interesting enough to spend money on. It’s kind of weird that Alex Pettyfer/Beast is speaking in a high school that looks like the lobby of a multinational corporation… is he a student or some kind of businessman? Has he already graduated? Anyway I loooooove the Disney version of Beauty and the Beast, and although this one’s clearly aiming to be darker and less musical than the Disney version (sorry, Vanessa Hudgins from High School Musical) I still expect to like it. I wonder what excuse he gives her for keeping her in his house… and what weird disease he makes up to explain his “condition” (there was a terrible accident in the ink pen factory….) Is it enough to entice me away from Rango and The Adjustment Bureau though? We shall see.

ANOTHER YEAR



Another trailer without a hint of plot, indicating to me that this is another one of those plotless character based things that show up so often on awards lists because…. film slobs hate plot? I don’t know. Anyway, the title, “Another Year” tells me that what happens in the movie is more of the same for the characters in it. Certainly nothing in the trailer seemed too wild and crazy. They might as well have called it “normal things happening to normal people, as they do normally” and be on the nose about it. Sometimes I can go for character-based stories (I loved Playing By Heart), but there’s just nothing about these characters that really draws me in. It’s a moot point, of course, since my theater won’t get it.

BLUE VALENTINE



It didn’t win anything at the Oscars, but it was good enough to get nominated, which is why the film series people went out of their way to bring it into town. It seems like it starts out a little bit like Once, with the strangers playing hobo guitar outside a shop, but then veers off into tragedyland judging by the tears and the punching. I’m not a fan of the tragedyland veerage myself (I am of the “real-life-is-depressing-enough” persuasion) so I can only occasionally be induced to watch something like this. Since I’m not feeling peppy enough to need a comedown this week, I won’t be going, but if you to see Blue Valentine on the big screen, this is probably your last shot at it. It plays Thursday at 7pm.

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