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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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Trailer Reviews for April 4, 2014

CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER



I can’t decide if the Winter Soldier’s identity is supposed to be a secret. Black Widow is talking like the guy’s a big mystery, but you can see his face a couple of times in the trailer. Even if you don’t already know the answer from reading comics, you’ll recognize him from the other movies. It doesn’t really matter, I suppose. I’ll still see it. I like Cap better in his own movies than in the Avengers, because he gets to be funny instead of herding cats around all the time. Also, that winged jet pack is awesome. If I was the Cap, I’d be like: where’s MY winged jet pack?!

CAS AND DYLAN



Let me guess – she has such a meaningful, heartwarming adventure with the dying guy that once he dies she writes a meaningful heartwarming book that gets published super easily, the end. I feel like I’ve seen all this before.

AFFLICTED



Okay, I applaud them for finding a different excuse for their characters to be filming every weird and horrible thing that happens to them, but it doesn’t make sense. Who is editing and uploading the footage to their blog once they’re dead or full of rabies or whatever? And whose first instinct when their buddy comes down with rabies is to grab the camera and take it with them to the hospital? Though illogical, the rabid hulk/spiderman chest camera shots are pretty cool.

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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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Devil’s Due Review

poster from the 20th Century Fox film Devils Due

The movie I wanted to see this week was Devil’s Knot – the fictionalization of the West Memphis Three story. But the only new movie we got was I, Frankenstein. In keeping with my New Year’s Resolution to see more bad movies on Scene points, I presented myself for the Saturday matinee. Fate decided to step in and save me by canceling the showing, so I asked for a ticket to whichever of last week’s movies started next. It turned out to be Devil’s Due.

A young couple who were kidnapped on their honeymoon return home pregnant with a fetus that causes terrible things to happen.

I like horror movies but I preach moderation in the showing of monsters and blood because absence and expectation make for more tension and scariness. Devil’s Due showed a lot of restraint in that department… too much, unfortunately. It crossed the line between tense and boring.

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Trailer Reviews for January 17, 2013

JACK RYAN: SHADOW RECRUIT



I’m looking forward to this movie. I like Chris Pine. I liked the other Jack Ryan movies (especially The Sum of All Fears) and I don’t mind that they’re departing from the Tom Clancy source material (I find his books too dense and technical anyway). He’s a little more James Bond-y than he used to be, but that could be a good thing. The James Bond movies have moved away from James Bond-y ness and into the realms of grittiness and shaky cam, so there may be niche there to be refilled. Actually, now that I watch the trailer again, I’m thinking it’s more complicated and mysterious (more Mission Impossible) than James Bond. If it plays its cards right, it could become my second favorite spy franchise.

THE NUT JOB



I do not like that purple squirrel’s voice. It’s too deep and harsh for a light family film about squirrels stealing nuts. Also, if I wanted to see a movie about animals planning an elaborate operation, I’d watch Chicken Run or The Fantastic Mr. Fox.I know it’s a kids’ movie, but this trailer didn’t even make me laugh once. Cliched movie dialogue doesn’t automatically become funny just because it’s being delivered by a squirrel.

DEVIL’S DUE



So she’s possessed by her devil baby? That’s interesting I guess. But the trailer took all the life out of the idea for me. They showed everything except for the very end, which I’m assuming will be along the lines of The Exorcist. And can I just say: enough with the found footage. I’m tired of the contortions the characters have to go through just to explain why they’re filming every horrible thing that happens to them, just so the movie can look cheap.

RIDE ALONG



Stop talking and show me the damn trailer! Also, WHY is that lovely woman dating that immature loser? That’s another thing I’m tired of! Beautiful, intelligent, well-to-do women in movies who are dating lazy, unattractive morons for no other reason than ‘the plot demands it.’ The trailer was three minutes long, yet I saw no hint of a redeeming quality that might make me believe those two were in a relationship. So no, even though I like buddy cop movies and even sometimes movies where the main character is an idiot, I will not see this movie.

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DVDs for January 14, 2014

riddick

Riddick

Chances are you’ve heard of Riddick by now. He was the mysterious, morally ambiguous character at the center of the 2000 horor movie Pitch Black who was subsequently demystified and turned into a meatheaded sci-fi/fantasy action hero in a sequel movie and some video games. By the time Riddick rolled around, the character been relegated to cheap-bin status. The movie itself is about Riddick being chased by bounty hunters. Read my fake review Riddickulous to see what I thought of it.

Buy Riddick on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

the butler

The Butler

In this semi-true historical epic based on a newspaper article, an African American White House butler played by Forest Whitaker witnesses (and even manages to influence) most of the major civil rights related events of the second half of the 20th century. It’s interesting as a character study (his family members are all conveniently involved in different movements, which makes for a lot of conflict) and as a historical survey for anyone who’d like to learn more about Civil Rights. Check it out.

Buy The Butler on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

carrie

Carrie

Here’s another addition to the genre of ‘movies that didn’t need to be remade.’ Since it bills itself as a ‘re-imagining,’ you might think that it goes back to the source material (Stephen King’s novel) but it doesn’t. It’s just a remake of the 1976 version, where a telekenetic high school senior goes on a rampage after her bullies take things too far, but with more simplified characters/plot and better special effects. So if you like complexity, rewatch the old version. If you like CGI tables flying around, watch this one.

Buy Carrie on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

top gear 20

Top Gear Season 20

If you’re not already watching this show… what’s the matter with you? Haven’t you been listening to me? This is the funniest show on TV (and yes, I am counting all your favorite sitcoms). Even when they’re just reviewing cars, Jeremy, James, and Richard crack me up. When they challenge themselves to build/do something that looks easy, I can’t breathe. This season their six episodes of antics include: choosing the most inconspicuous supercar, driving a homeade hovervan on the Avon River, and crashing a lot of old taxis in a race.

Buy Top Gear: Season 20 on DVD.

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DVDs for January 7, 2014

runner runner

Runner Runner

I like both Ben Affleck and Justin Timberlake (as an actor) but this movie just doesn’t do anything for me. It’s hard to sympathize with a character who is dumb enough to risk his college tuition in an online poker game. And dumb enough to go abroad to confront the website owner. Dumb enough to fall in with this guy, and dumb enough to be surprised when the guy turns out to be evil. There are plenty of other movies who do the poker shark and/or seduced by bad guy thing with less dumbness. Watch those instead.

Buy Runner Runner on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

closed circuit

Closed Circuit

If you like MI-5/Spooks and also enjoy legal thrillers such as those of the Law & Order or John Grisham persuasion, you’ll like this movie. Eric Bana and Rebecca Hall play lawyers who are tasked with defending the people accused of a terrorist attack. During their investigation they uncover ties between the perpetrators and MI-5, which makes them a target. A thrilling thriller starring the world’s most adorable human being and a few good explosions. What more could you want?

Buy Closed Circuit on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

thanks for sharing

Thanks for Sharing

If you’re looking for a romantic comedy with a unique gimmick or a less depressing version of Michael Fassbender’s Shame, you should watch Thanks for Sharing. It’s an ensemble comedy about a handful of couples who know each other through their sex addiction support group. It covers a lot of bases – established relationships, new relationships, and friendships, and though the characters are sex addicts, their struggles with their addictions don’t get so graphic that you might feel like it should be sold in a paper bag. Check it out.

Buy Thanks for Sharing on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

big ass spider

Big Ass Spider

If you liked Sharknado or any movies from the new ‘intentionally bad disaster movie’ genre, Big Ass Spider is for you. As the title suggests, a Big Ass Spider is on a rampage through Los Angeles and it’s up to a smart-ass exterminator and his plucky ethnic support character (a hospital security guard) to stop it. Greg Grunberg (previously a comedic support character on Alias) unleashes his inner ham on the tongue-in-cheek script, resulting in surprisingly hilarious experience. Check it out.

Buy Big Ass Spider on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

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Top 5 and Bottom 5 Movies of 2013

new-year

2013 is over and it’s time to rank the movies I saw according to their bestiness and worstiness. As I paged through my review notebook listing films according to their secret star rating, I noticed three things. One: franchise films have done well with me this year. Two: I only saw 45 movies. And three: only one of them was bad enough to rate one star. My policy this year was not to waste money on bad movies, but it made me realize that bad movies have their uses. They force you to think about WHY the movie bad, and they make for hilarious reviews. I therefore resolve that 2014 shall be the year of using my Scene points to see crappy movies.

And now, the list. If you don’t agree with it, feel free to argue with me in the comments. That’s what they’re for. Just keep it clean, ok?

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Trailer Review for January 3, 2014

PARANORMAL ACTIVITY: THE MARKED ONES



At first I was like… are they sure this is a Paranormal Activity movie? Because it seems like one of those indie dramas about poor kids coming of age/getting in trouble. And then they grabbed a video camera and it became The Blair Witch Project, set in the wilderness of ‘the hood’ with Native American dreamcatchers taking the place of creepy stick figures, and not turning on the lights taking the place of legitimate darkness. And then it became The Exorcist. So it’s kind of all over the place. BUT I probably still would have seen it if it hadn’t come out on Top Five/Bottom Five week, because the Paranormal Activity movies at least have a decent chance of making me jump out of my seat.

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DVDs for November 26, 2013

red 2

RED 2

I liked this movie when I saw it in theaters (though not as much as liked the first one). But after a few months, it sort of blended into the latest Die Hard movie: A Good Day to Die Hard. Russian setting, Bruce Willis paired with a younger person (his son in Die Hard, his girlfriend here), madcap action… the difference, I guess, is that RED 2 stars more old people, and that when it’s funny it’s because it’s supposed to be, not because the filmmakers are completely divorced from reality. Read my full review for more.

Buy RED 2 on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

getaway

Getaway

After the success of Taken, there have been many imitators. In this one, Ethan Hawke plays a guy who drives really fast. Some people kidnap his wife in order to get him to drive really fast for them. But they don’t give him a car, so he has to hijack one with way-too-young-for-him eye candy in it (Selena Gomez), and her computer hacking skills (such as they are) end up helping Ethan while he drives really fast. In this movie, driving fast is what throat chopping was to Taken, so I’d really only recommend it to you if you’re a huge fan of Mustangs.

Buy Getaway on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

jobs

JOBS

This movie is trying to be The Social Network, but since we already have The Social Network, it mostly just comes off as two hours of Ashton Kutcher alternately having revolutionary ideas and being a dick to people. It’s based on the popular biography of Steve Jobs’ life, which exposed his dark underbelly, but since everyone already knows about it, there’s nothing revolutionary about the movie. I’d only recommend it for big Steve Jobs/Apple fans, as I’ve never bought an Apple product in my life and my attitude toward the film is a giant ‘who cares?’

Buy JOBS on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

the canyons

The Canyons

Wow, I guess the studios wanted to make sure all the bad movies were out in time for people to not buy them for each other for Christmas. Most of the people who saw this movie were tricked into it by the fact that it was directed by the guy who did Taxi Driver and written by the guy who did American Psycho. But really, it’s just about a crazy dude (a porn star called James Dean, but with two Es) going crazy on the stars of his movie. It’s billed as an ‘erotic thriller’ but that was probably just an excuse to get Lindsay Lohan to take her top off (which, incidentally, is why the rest of the people saw this movie).

Buy The Canyons on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

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