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Trailer Reviews for September 13, 2013

INSIDIOUS 2



The big twist from Insidious (which they don’t reveal in this trailer, so I won’t say what it is) was so bizarre and unusual that it’s really not possible for them to replicate the feel of that movie in a sequel. Unless they plan on assuming the audience hasn’t seen the first movie, they’ll just have to proceed as if their secrets are being taken as read and move on. Unfortunately there’s nowhere to move on to. They’re pretty much confined to replicating the events from the first movie – this trailer bears that out. It could be the trailer for the first one except the kid in danger is a different one this time. Once was enough for me, so I won’t be seeing it.

THE FAMILY



The title is boring and generic, which will make it difficult for people to get results when Googling it, but the movie looks like it could be okay. It may be a little difficult to like people who blow up grocery stores just because they feel insulted, but the sheer ridiculousness of their overreactions could be funny. I just hope they don’t abandon the comedic premise halfway through and switch to destroying half of France in a giant gun battle. But it seems likely that’s exactly what will happen, given that it’s directed by the guy who did Taken. And the fact that the trailer contains at least three explosions. But if this is the only other thing we’re getting, I guess I’ll take it.

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RIDDICKulous: An Epic Tale

I wasn’t kidding when I said I’d rather stay home this week than pay $11.50 to see another Riddick movie. Money’s tight and must not be wasted on franchises that are really one-offs which have overstayed their welcome. However, NOT seeing Riddick (and therefore being ignorant of the plot details) put me in the unique position of being able to create a best-guess story pieced together from the results of a Google image search for ‘Riddick,’ which, let’s face it, will probably be more entertaining than the real plot of the movie anyway.

So on we go with:

cover

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Trailer Review for September 6, 2013

RIDDICK



Boy, Riddick sure has his own movies pegged. “This ain’t nothin’ new” is right. It’s nothing you haven’t seen in Pitch Black or Chronicles of Riddick or those Riddick video games. Riddick is a criminal, lots of bounty hunters want to take him… somewhere… so they can have a lot of money, but OH NOES some very bad aliens that live in the dark are coming to eat everyone’s faces and Riddick is the ONLY ONE who can save them because he can SEE IN THE DARK! (I guess all the night vision goggles are killed by a night vision goggle plague in the future). So they let him loose and he goes on a rampage, some people get killed, and he ends up going free to make another Riddick movie because he’s just such a do-gooder at heart. No thank you. This movie is an excellent argument for staying in this weekend.

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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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Trailers for August 9, 2013

ELYSIUM



I really liked District 9 and this movie looks pretty interesting, even if it does seem to consist of elements taken from District 9, the new Total Recall, and numerous other science fiction movies. I’d go if it didn’t star Matt Damon. He’s like the cardboard vanilla flavor of actors and no matter how action packed the movie got or how apt the socio-political satire, I’d still be annoyed that I wasn’t watching someone else. I’m skipping this one.

PERCY JACKSON AND THE SEA OF MONSTERS



I liked the Percy Jackson books and I didn’t hate the first movie, Lightning Thief, but the big problem I had with that movie remains (and has gotten worse) in this sequel: Percy Jackson and his buddies are much too old. Logan Lerman (Percy) is 21. Alexandra Daddario (Annabeth) is 27. Brandon T. Jackson (Grover) is 30. None of them can pass for less than 17. In the books, Percy and his pals were wise-cracking, trouble-making 13-year-olds. This wouldn’t have been a problem if they’d updated the rest of the material to fit the characters’ new ages, but they didn’t. The characters still look and act like tweenagers, gawping and bumbling their way through a summer camp adventure, and it’s annoying.

WE’RE THE MILLERS



This looks, at best, mildly funny. At worst, I suspect it’s cringe-worthy. Too many instances of vicarious audience embarrassment pass as jokes these days. Also the principle of the film seems flawed. Surely there are dogs hanging around border crossings sniffing for drugs that would make their half-assed plan to pass themselves off as a family pointless?

PLANES



As the lone living adult who actually enjoyed the Cars movie and a lifelong lover of airplanes, when I found out about Disney’s Planes, I felt like they made it just for me. I reserve judgment on the story, however. The flying-creature-with-fear-of-heights thing was done in Rio and the learning-to-be-a-racer story was done in Cars. In fact, other than the fact that it has planes in it, I can’t see ANY way in which this movie is different. That bothers me, but not enough to make me see something else.

THE CONSPIRACY



When I first started watching this trailer I thought I had the wrong one – it looked like one of those Inside Job style documentaries. But it’s a fake documentary style horror movie. It seems kind of cliched to me that the conspiracy theorist should fall victim to a conspiracy theory. I also think I’ve read or seen half a dozen stories about a cabal of shadowy villains who direct the political and financial course of the world by yanking on puppet strings. All in all nothing here that would convince me to see this movie.

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Trailer Reviews for July 19, 2013

RED 2



I absolutely loved the first RED. It took me completely by surprise. Obviously the surprise factor will be gone this time but judging from the trailer it’s going to be just as funny. With the Russian connection, missing nuke, and locked up scientist, the plot seems very similar to A Good Day to Die Hard, but I’m going to think of it as this plot’s chance to redeem itself from its terrible showing in Die Hard rather than outright copying. After all, it’s not like Twentieth Century Fox can copyright Russia (though they’ve probably tried). At least you know when this movie gets ridiculous, it’s actually TRYING to be ridiculous rather than totally ignorant of the laws of physics.

R.I.P.D.



Oh, hello again, Mary Louise Parker! That’s two movies for you in one week. If it weren’t for the fact that RED 2 was opening this weekend, I might have gone to see this one. The trailer hooked me as soon as it smashed Ryan Reynolds’s face off the concrete. Ouch! That’s gotta be worth a broken neck. The R.I.P.D. Thing is a little cutesy but funny – in the same way that the angels hell-bent on getting Ewan McGregor and Cameron Diaz to fall in love in Life Less Ordinary were funny. Though, obviously, there’s a lot more wanton destruction in this movie, probably because they had a lot more money. I’ll wait for the DVD.

Turbo



Oh, hello again, Ryan Reynolds! That’s two movies for you in one week as well! Are we playing a game I’m not aware of? Perhaps One Degree of Separation? I have to thank this movie, because I had no idea that nitrous oxide was capable of giving superpowers molluscs. Since there seems to be a fine line between superpowers and horrible death by poisoning, I’ll know to be careful if I ever decide to douche-up my Honda Civic with happy-gas canisters and little green lights. I was also unaware that cars were optional in the Indy 500. Look at all the new facts I’m learning today! If you need me I’ll be in Indianapolis pedaling madly on my tricycle. Where I will NOT be is in the theater watching this movie.

The Conjuring



Oh, hello again, Patrick Wilson! Sadly, you’ve ruined the game. This movie seems very familiar, probably because found footage films are a dime a dozen these days and there are whole shows devoted to people who wander around old houses with EMF meters trying to talk to ghosts. Sadly none of them are as good as Supernatural, though I suspect this movie won’t be a total waste of money. If it’s anything like Insidious it will take a 90 degree turn into crazytown about two thirds of the way through the movie, so even if you think you know the whole story from watching the trailer there are still a few surprises left. I wish they weren’t so liberal with displaying all the horrors all over the screen, though. Don’t they get that what we CAN’T see is scarier?

Renoir



This movie reminds me a little bit of Ever After, though I couldn’t say why. Maybe because it’s a semi-historical love story that stars a famous painter as the grownup who browbeats the two young lovers into pulling their heads out of their own asses. I’m intrigued by the story and the characters. It looks good, the acting seems solid…. and yet, I suspect it would be boring. Not because it’s foreign and I’d have to read – I like reading. Because they used the slowest, dreariest music they could possibly find for this trailer. That does not bode well for the pace of the film.

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DVDs for July 16, 2013

evil dead

Evil Dead

Evil Dead calls itself “the most terrifying film you will ever experience” but Evil Dead is confusing ‘disgusting’ with ‘scary. Movies like Evil Dead are the first while moves like Sinister are the second. In a sort-of reboot from the 1980s Bruce Campbell original, a group of twentysomethings retire to a remote cabin to help one of their friends deal with her drug addiction. There are demons and chainsaws and more than one person hacks their own body parts off. I think that’s all I need to say here. Read my review for more or just trust me and avoid it.

Buy Evil Dead on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

.

42

42

The government did the Jackie Robinson story in a Heritage Minute commercial, officially beating this movie by 127 minutes… if moviemaking was a race. Being an American movie, 42 skims over the playing-in-Montreal part of Jackie Robinson’s career and focuses instead on his first season with the Dodgers, when everyone was horrible to him and he had to be the bigger man and take it until his awesomeness at baseball changed people’s minds. It’s a good movie but it’s not even my favorite civil rights sports movie. That would be Glory Road. I just don’t like baseball.

Buy 42 on DVD or on Blu-Ray.
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erased

Erased

This movie, which is also called The Expatriate outside of North America, is a cross between The Net, The Bourne Identity, and Taken. Aaron Eckhart starts out as a computer engineer and OH NO his company suddenly disappears and someone’s trying to kill him! Then it turns out that WHOOPS he’s a spy so he’s got to drag his useless and now very angry daughter around on the run. Then she gets captured and suddenly he’s an unstoppable war machine who wants her back. Think of it as three half decent movies for the price of one. It’s pretty good.

Buy Erased on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

ice road terror

Ice Road Terror

What’s more dangerous than driving a fully-laden tractor trailer down a mountain of ice? Driving a fully-laden tractor trailer down a mountain of ice chased by dinosaurs! ROWR! As you may have guessed, this is one of those Sharknado style silly horror movies that the SyFy channel likes to put out. This is a movie you see for its epic badness so if you’re going into it expecting quality, I can tell you right now: you’ll be disappointed. However, if you want a big dumb laugh (think Battleship with terrible CGI) then Ice Road Terror may be right up your street.

Buy Ice Road Terror on DVD or on DVD.

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DVDs for July 2, 2013

56 up

56 Up

I was first introduced to these documentaries by my Russian professor in college, who showed us the Soviet version of the first film in the series, 7 Up. It’s a pretty simple concept – interview a bunch of 7-year-olds and return every seven years to interview them again so you can capture a stop-motion version of their lives on film. Director Michael Apted started this project in 1964 and as you can see the original kids are 56. Watch the series from the beginning if you haven’t seen them before. It’s fascinating to see where people end up as opposed to where they thought they would be at that age.

Buy 56 Up on DVD.

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last resort

Last Resort

When I heard that there was going to be a military show about Navy SEALs on a nuclear submarine, I thought: that’s going to be so awesome! Unfortunately when I watched the pilot my only thought was: this is so stupid. The premise of the show is that there’s an extremely convoluted plot afoot in the US government which results in the sub crew getting an order to launch their nukes. They refuse to do it, get attacked by their own people, and retire to a deserted island to bicker amongst themselves. I stopped paying attention after about 10 minutes. No wonder it didn’t get a second season.

Buy Last Resort: the Complete Series on DVD.
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smart cookies

Smart Cookies

Normally I don’t bother talking about Hallmark Channel movies on this blog because a) there are too many and b) most of them make me want to throw up. But I’m a Girl Guide leader so I wanted to mention this one, which is about a woman who becomes a Girl Scout leader in the United States. It’s got the format of an inspirational sports movie, so she of course sucks when she starts out as a leader but then they bond over selling cookies and then all the little girls love her. So it’s cutesy, but it’s a shout-out to Guiding. You’ll want to watch it if you’re a leader too.

Buy Smart Cookies on DVD.

6 souls

6 Souls/Shelter

I’m going through a phase where I’m reading a lot of psychology, so I thought I’d also mention this one, which has a different title depending on where you live. It stars Julianne Moore as a therapist trying to help Jonathan Rhys-Meyers, who’s got six multiple personalities. They all seem to be murder victims, so the only way she can help him is to solve the murders. It’s a pretty creepy movie even though it’s not terribly educational and it’s kind of a ripoff of Identity. It’s definitely worth two hours in front of your TV though.

Buy 6 Souls/Shelter on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

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