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Frozen Review

poster from the Walt Disney Pictures film Frozen

Disney has been taking a lot of flak lately for how old fashioned their Princess line is. The princesses are too white. Too pink. Too rich. Too blonde. Too skinny. Too hung up on finding a man, etc. None of it, however, seems to have made a dent in their bottom line, so we can expect them to continue making princess movies (albeit with the odd concession to reality) until the end of time. The latest is Frozen.

A lonely Norse princess teams up with a hermit, a reindeer, and a snowman to talk her superpowered sister into unfreezing their kingdom.

As with the last two princess movies, Brave and The Princess and the Frog, Disney has attempted to be more modern with Frozen, but at the same time they’ve tried to hearken back to the old days by making it a musical. The result is cute and funny, but I just didn’t feel like it worked as a story.

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Trailer Reviews for November 29, 2013

FROZEN



It looks cute and funny and everything, but what is it ABOUT? I hate it when animation trailers do this. They spend so much time on all their funny jokes and cute little characters and forget to explain what the hell is going on. So it’s supposed to be summer and everything is frozen. And it has something to do with that girl’s sister… so she must be freezing things… but what the hell for? And what’s her sister supposed to do about it? I mean, I’ll see it, because look what else is playing this week, but still, this is a bad trailer.

HOMEFRONT



Everything in this trailer is utterly ridiculous. Bullying that obvious, boy vs girl, in a school these days? A mom flipping out over it so bad that she calls her drug dealing… whatever… and sics him on the girl’s dad? A meth dealer continuing to harass a guy HE KNOWS WAS A DEA AGENT who just wants to be left alone, thereby ensuring that this guy and/or the DEA will rain fire on his ass? And to top it all off, they claim that no one in town likes this guy or his kid, yet somehow they’re all at her birthday party! Dumb dumb dumb. Anyway, I don’t even need to see it, they showed the entire thing in the trailer.

PHILOMENA



This looks hilarious! I want to see it, but we’re not getting it, so I’ll probably have to wait for the DVD. I’ll be mad if it turns out that her son’s a corrupt politician jackass who doesn’t want to see her, though, especially if I have to wait all that time. I know it doesn’t SEEM like that kind of movie, but it’s possible. It’s based on a true story.

THE ARMSTRONG LIE



“Losing = death.” Well, isn’t that dramatic. I just can’t drum up the energy to give a crap. I mean, I don’t like sports at the best of times, but I find it especially ridiculous when people lie, cheat, steal, backstab, etc. just so they can claim they’re the best at something. I mean… how insecure do you have to be? No way would I pay this issue enough attention to watch a whole movie about it.

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DVDs for Oct 29, 2013

monsters university

Monsters University

Of all the Pixar films, I would probably list Monsters Inc. as my least favorite (yes, below Cars – I love Cars) so when I heard they were making this prequel about the first meeting of kid-scaring monsters Mike and Sully, I whined a lot about how they need to stop cashing in on their old franchises and go back to making original stories. I’d like to say I’ve changed my mind since then, but I haven’t. You’ll probably like it though, if you’re into those college-boy buddy movies a la Old School and Animal House. And your kids will if they’re kids (probably… unless they didn’t like Monsters Inc. either).

Buy Monsters University on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

RIPD

RIPD

Despite the punny acronym, I think this movie had a good premise. Dead cops who police dead people. Unfortunately, in practice it turned out to be a Men in Black clone. Two stereotypically mismatched buddies, Ryan Reynolds as the overachieving straight man and Jeff Bridges as the over-the-top loose cannon, running around shooting at big goofy monsters with science fiction weapons. It would have been better with people-ghosts. As it is, it kind of falls apart under the weight of its special effects, so if you think it sounds cool, just go watch Men in Black again.

Buy RIPD on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

byzantium

Byzantium

Finally, an actual horror movie for Halloween week. This movie has a bit of a Twilight-esque setup. A teenage vampire moves to a small town with her vampire mommy and falls in love with a boy that she shares all her deep dark secrets with, but if you’re going to rent it, don’t expect sparkles. Loose lips sink ships and all that. Because mommy is a vampy hooker and a lot of people get their throats ripped out. At the same time, though, it’s not straight up horror, either. It’s more drama horror, focusing on the characters, so if you’re a slasher fan, heads up.

Buy Byzantium on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

bounty killer

Bounty Killer

If you’re a fan of those goofy, over-the-top Machete Kills style action comedies and you don’t need the movies you watch to make sense or be clever, Bounty Killer ought to keep you occupied for 90 minutes or so. It’s trying to be Mad Max, set in a world where the apocalypse is brought on by corporations and hit men ride around on motorcycles killing people in business suits for the good of the people (but really for the money). It’s a lot muddier (in the making sense sort of way) and siller than Mad Max though. If you’re going to bother with it, just watch it for the violence.

Buy Bounty Killer on DVD on on Blu-Ray.

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DVDs for October 15, 2013

pacific rim

Pacific Rim

Before I saw Pacific Rim, I wouldn’t have said it was possible to love and hate a movie at the same time. I loved the damaged characters who became stronger by pairing up to pilot a giant robot, and the giant robot vs monster fighting was cool, but there were just too many ridiculous, impossible things and not enough secondary females – seriously, it was like the movie took place in the aftermath of a virus that wiped out all the ladies. (Lady virus + space monster attack, a double whammy) And yet – I still enjoyed it. Check out my full review for more.

Buy Pacific Rim on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

the heat

The Heat

I love The Heat. It’s a comedy dominated by female characters (which you hardly ever see) and it doesn’t get bogged down in sex and toilet humor (like Bridesmaids). It’s smart, witty, and action packed enough to appeal to anyone, even guys who don’t give a crap about gender equality. It pairs a smug know-it-all (Sandra Bullock) with a brash nutcase (Melissa McCarthy) in a drug case simply because no one else will work with either of them. Check out my full review for more or just go right out and see it. It’s great fun.

Buy The Heat on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

shrek the musical

Shrek: The Musical

I know what you’re thinking, but this isn’t another straight-to-DVD holiday special tied to a popular animated franchise. It’s a Broadway-to-DVD recording of a stage show adapted from a popular animated franchise. I wouldn’t have thought it would be possible to put a computer animated movie on stage, especially one starring a green ogre, a talking donkey, and a huge purple dragon, but it’s amazing what they can do with makeup and anamatronics these days. Little kids will LOVE it and it retains enough of the movie’s cleverness to appeal to parents as well. Check it out.

Buy Shrek: The Musical on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

the colony

The Colony

This movie is like a Day After Tomorrow featuring the Reavers from Serenity/Firefly. It’s years after the apocalypse and people are living underground in colonies. One colony receives a distress signal from another, sends a team out to investigate, and ends up in the middle of a Dead Space video game, complete with blood all over the walls (poor Laurence Fishburne – he never seems to catch a break). It’s pretty good, as horror movies go. It falls into some of the usual cliches (esp. characters and decision making) but it’s not bad enough to pass over.

Buy The Colony on DVD on on Blu-Ray.

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DVDs for October 1, 2013

croods

The Croods

The Croods can probably best be described as “some cave people and their adventures with anachronisms” and will best be remembered (among my friends, anyway) as the reason we didn’t get popcorn buckets with Star Trek: Into Darkness on them. The movie is in the same vein as Ice Age, in that science and history are twisted in any way the filmmakers like for the purposes of plot and puns. Reviewers on IMDB are falling all over themselves to praise it, but I think that’s mostly because it looked pretty and the jokes weren’t (all) cringe-worthy.

Buy The Croods on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

this is the end

This is the End

I know a lot of people who think this movie is hilarious, but I really don’t like it. The main attraction is the fact that it stars a bunch of celebrities (James Franco, Jonah Hill, Seth Rogan, Craig Robinson, Michael Cera, etc.) as “themselves.” And by “themselves,” I mean I hope it’s not accurate, because the characters are all selfish morons. I can’t stand over-the-top crudeness or unlikeable characters and this movie has the biggest collection of them I’ve seen yet. Be warned that it’s really only going to please people who are already fans of the actors involved.

Buy This is the End on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

fright night 2

Fright Night 2

In this straight-to-video sequel to the 2011 remake of Fright Night, Jerry Dandridge the vampire next door neighbor is now Gerri Dandridge the vampire college professor who preys on visiting high school students who just so happen to be connected to the last film. Charley is still Charley (though played by a different kid) and Peter Vincent, the vampire hunter whose help he enlists, is still Peter Vincent (though played by a different guy) and the staking is still a staking. It’s brand new, so it’s a good choice for your upcoming Halloween party – no one will have seen it already.

Buy Fright Night 2 on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

ferb marvel

Phineas and Ferb: Mission Marvel

For all you Avenger fans who are off salivating over the Age of Ultron trailer, wait! Come back! The Disney Channel has done a crossover cartoon with one of your OTHER favorite franchises: Phineas and Ferb. Okay, so mostly it will just be kids who will watch this movie, but seriously grown-ups, you’re missing a chance to see Iron Man being wheeled around on a dolly. Apparently he, Hulk, Thor, and Spider-Man have all lost their powers and need help from the inventive, oddly-shaped stepbrothers and their secret agent platypus. YES REALLY.

Buy Phineas and Ferb: Mission Marvel on DVD/Blu-Ray combo pack.

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City of Bones Review

poster from the Sony Pictures film Mortal Instruments City of Bones

I read the original Mortal Instruments trilogy several years ago and really liked it. Reading it directly after Twilight gave me a special degree of appreciation for its heroine with a personality, complex world, villains who do things, and actual battles that actually happen. I remember thinking that it would make a good movie, and now the first one, City of Bones has arrived.

A teenage artist discovers she comes from a race of secret demon hunters after her mother is kidnapped.

I’ve heard from other people who’ve seen it that it deviates quite a lot from the plot in the book, but it’s been a few years since I read the book and I didn’t notice anything glaringly different except for a few minor things, which is to be expected when you’re cramming 485 pages of story into a 120 page movie script. And apart from a few minor glitches, I liked it.

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Trailer Reviews for August 23, 2013

MORTAL INSTRUMENTS: CITY OF BONES



I really liked this book, and not just because I read it right after Twilight, when anything that didn’t actively insult my intelligence would have seemed fantastic. I liked that the main character was a girl who got to have powers of her own and that the world had actual details and that there were plenty of battles. I thought it would make a good movie, but now that the movie is here I’m not that thrilled about it. Why? Casting. Lily Collins and Kevin Zegers seem like good picks, but who cast the hero’s big love interest as a scrawny, girly, way-too-old guy? He’s like some sketchbag biker version of one of those androgynous boys from the manga comics. The bizarre casting is enough to push this movie to #2 spot, which means I probably won’t get to it until next week, if at all.

THE WORLD’S END



I love these guys. After they piled Hot Fuzz on top of Shaun of the Dead they earned a free pass for life. It might not have been enough to get them chosen over City of Bones without that movie’s casting fail, though. For some reason the pub crawl doesn’t seem like enough of a goal, even considering the robots. In Shaun of the Dead they were trying to live through a zombie apocalypse, in Hot Fuzz they were trying to save the town, but in this one they’re trying to, well, get drunk. Not exactly enthralling, but it WILL be funny, I can trust in that much.

IN A WORLD



I really want to see this movie, for several reasons. 1) It looks funny. 2) I love it when movies do fake movie trailers for pretend movies (think of all those fake trailers from Tropic Thunder). 3) It’s an inside look at a job I know nothing about. The closest I’ve ever seen to this was in The Holiday when Cameron Diaz and Jack Black were trailer editor/musicians. 4) I was just reading a bunch of articles about sexism in the film industry and I’d be really interested in hearing about sexism in the film spinoff industries too. ALAS (again) it will probably take forever for it to come my way.

YOU’RE NEXT



I don’t understand the point of this movie. It seems to have something to do with hunting or animal revenge, but the people being hunted are just some stupid family who haven’t even done anything to deserve it and the animals are just guys in masks. Plus it would be a lot scarier if they didn’t show the killer so much. If we can see him, we know where he is, and if we know where he is, we’re not twisted up in knots wondering if he’s going to be around the next corner. So no thanks. I prefer horror movies that are actually horrifying.

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DVDs for August 20, 2013

epic

Epic

I feel pretty ‘meh’ about this movie. It’s like Honey I Shrunk the Kids crossed with A Bug’s Life, both of which I would probably watch again instead of this movie. A girl gets shrunk down to bug size and helps leaf and bug based warriors save the world from a cackling evil villain. The best you can really say about the story is that it’s familiar, which can be a plus if you’ve got one of those kids who just wants to watch the same movie over and over again. It’s occasionally funny, but it’s clear that most of the effort went into the animation quality. It is pretty nice looking, but then what isn’t these days?

Buy Epic on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

evidence

Evidence

I like this movie because it’s an interesting twist on something that I feel has been done to death – found footage. There is found footage in the movie shot by some hapless tourists who are being mauled to death by unseen entities, but WE aren’t watching it. A pair of detectives (Stephen Moyer and Radha Mitchell) are watching it after the fact with the goal of figuring out what happened and putting somebody behind bars for it. I find it MUCH more interesting than the usual found footage story, which tends to go: everyone dies. The end! Check it out.

Buy Evidence on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

killing season

Killing Season

Humans hunting humans in the middle of a forest is nothing new. They did it in Deliverance, in Battle Royale, and most recently in The Hunger Games. This movie puts a bit of a twist on it by having John Travolta pretend to be Robert DeNiro’s friend and then going after him for some Bosnian War-related reason. The pretend friend setup is just a transparent attempt to get the characters into the woods where their battle can be filmed cheaply, but it didn’t turn out badly (except, of course, for John Travolta’s facial hair). If you like psychological action/thrillers, you might want to check it out.

Buy Killing Season on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

rapture palooza

Rapture-Palooza

I had to mention this movie because it involves John Francis Daley shooting down Jesus with an anti-aircraft cannon. That’s how silly it is. Like Idiocracy level silly, but perhaps with a less intelligent satirical undertone. As you may have guessed, it’s Daley and Anna Kendrick (as teenagers, no less) vs Hell (in the form of Craig Robinson as the anti-Christ). There’s plenty of Christian satire thrown in for fun, including a TV show of people being raptured during embarrassing moments. It’s pretty funny. Give it a look next time your friends are over.

Buy Rapture-Palooza on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

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Ghost Stories

grey area

Happy Random Friday, everyone! In this edition I want to talk about Grey Area, a ghost story anthology that’s coming out in October (just in time for Halloween). I have a story in it and the publishers (Third Person Press) are running an Indiegogo campaign to pre-sell some books and raise money for the launch.

I’m not begging for your lunch money this time (though you can make a small donation if you want). It’s basically just an opportunity to pre-order your copy with free gifts for doing so like Futureshop might do for the release of a superhero movie. Prizes include stuff like ghost postcards, ghost jewelry, free paper/ebooks from the publisher’s catalog, and writer stuff like email writing courses. Check them out here.

My story for the anthology is called “Grey Area” (the editors liked the name so much they used it for the whole anthology) and it’s about a gambling addict whose untimely death encourages him to turn his life around (so to speak) with the help of some ghostly superpowers. I talk about where I got the idea for it here, so have a look if you’re into ghost stories.

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DVDs for August 13, 2013

the big wedding

The Big Wedding

I’m not gonna lie – I saw this one mostly because of Ben Barnes, but I ended up being glad I chose it because it was cute and funny despite the fact that it was based upon a ridiculous premise: that his adopted parents would pretend to be married to each other to avoid insulting his staunchly Catholic birth mother. It’s one of those ensemble event-themed comedies that are hard to pull off, but this one does it. Great for watching with family. Check out my full review for more.

Buy The Big Wedding on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

once upon a time season 2

Once Upon a Time: Season 2

Talking about TV on a movie blog is a slippery slope, but I thought I’d risk it for Once Upon a Time, because I look forward to it every week. Each episode is split between two stories – one taking place in the town in our world where all the fairy tale characters were banished by a curse, and the other a flashback set in their old magical world, both focused on the same character. I love it because you never know how they’re going to twist the fairy tale or who in town they’ll turn out to be. This season adds Dr. Frankenstein, Peter Pan, Sleeping Beauty, and Mulan.

Buy Once Upon a Time: Season 2 on DVD and on Blu-Ray.

olympus has fallen

Olympus Has Fallen

Not to be confused with White House Down, which is still in theaters, this movie is about Gerard Butler rescuing the President (as played by Aaron Eckhart) while White House Down is about Channing Tatum rescuing the President (as played by Jamie Foxx). Olympus Has Fallen takes itself a lot more seriously, though. They even had an ad campaign that tried to fool people into thinking the White House was really under attack, so it’s less fun to watch. Still okay for killing two hours, though. The action is pretty over the top.

Buy Olympus Has Fallen on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

what maisie knew

What Maisie Knew

I’m a sucker for movies featuring unselfconscious acting by little kids, and this is a great one. Maisie (Onata Aprile) is a resilient seven year old girl with two divorced self-absorbed bigshots for parents (Julianne Moore and Steve Coogan). The movie is told from her perspective, as she ends up confused and neglected (but not bitter) and then forms a bond with her parents’ new spouses – Alexander Skarsgard, who looks like a creepy deadbeat but is actually sweet, and Joanna Vanderham, her former nanny. Check it out. Seriously.

Buy What Maisie Knew on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

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