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Into the Storm Review

poster from the Warner Bros. film Into the Storm

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles came out this weekend, but I decided not to pay Michael Bay to retroactively ruin my childhood. I didn’t completely forego 90s nostalgia, though. I chose Into the Storm, a tornado movie that I hoped would re-create the ‘wow’ factor from my first viewing of Twister.

A high school vice principal and his videographer son tag along with a team of tornado chasers in order to rescue his other son from a tornado-demolished factory.

Armchair storm chasing is one of my family’s favorite hobbies. Everybody who was in town turned out for this movie, even though it wasn’t all that popular among regular folks. Into the Storm was no Twister. Take out the tornados and it would be terrible. But you can’t take out the tornados, because it’s a tornado movie. So it’s still pretty awesome.

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Guardians of the Galaxy Review

poster from the Marvel Studios film Guardians of the Galaxy

I don’t read many superhero comic books, so before they started brewing up this movie, I’d never heard of Guardians of the Galaxy. I do watch science fiction films though, so even if this hadn’t been a Marvel movie I’d still have gone on opening night. Because spaceships! Handsome smugglers! Gun-toting raccoons!

A thief, an assassin, a revenge-obsessed father, a genetically modified raccoon, and a huge talking plant join forces to keep a world-ending weapon out of the hands of terrorists.

Guardians of the Galaxy is similar to The Avengers in that it involves a bunch of smartasses with diverse skills reluctantly teaming up to stop evildoers. The big difference for me was that while The Avengers was almost all infighting, actual plot actually happens in Guardians of the Galaxy, which makes it the better movie.

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Lucy Review

poster from the Universal Pictures Film Lucy

My theater got zero movies that I wanted to see this week. I contemplated staying home and reviewing a much more promising looking DVD, but my friends were in town. So I let them pick the movie (well, to be fair, the decision was made on the basis of start time rather than content). Anyway, they picked Lucy, the movie I thrashed in my trailer reviews.


A coerced drug mule goes after the Triad who kidnapped her when a drug bag leaks and gives her superpowers.

Sometimes there’s a small possibility that I might like a movie I didn’t like as a trailer. This is usually because the trailer failed to get at the essence of the story. But with Lucy this was not possible. With Lucy, the premise is the problem. It’s just another revenge movie, but based on the fallacy that we only use 10% of our brains.

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Trailers for July 25, 2014

HERCULES



It’s interesting to see Rufus Sewell and Ian McShane playing wisecraking sidekicks rather than villains, especially considering that this is exactly the type of big budget hollywood meatheadstravaganza that is most likely to typecast actors (such as slapping a loincloth on a wrestler). Can’t say the Ancient Greek action appeals to me, though. I only watched the Perseus movies because Sam Worthington was in them.

LUCY



I can’t even begin to list the things that piss me off about this movie. Kidnapping people to use as drug mules when there are plenty around who would do it for money. Using a mule to transport supersoldier drugs. Supersoldier drugs. Supersoldier drugs that make the main character into an instant remorseless assassin savant with telekenetic powers. The fact that the filmmakers are probably patting themselves on the back for creating such a ‘strong female character.’ A science fiction movie that doesn’t bother to read up on science (the 10% of your brain thing is Hollywood science, not fact). I could go on, but I think you get the point.

AND SO IT GOES



A little insensitive? A little rude? Let’s call it like it is, okay? Dude’s an a**hole. No one in their right mind would ask him to look after a child. Also, the last movie I liked that involved reforming a total jerk was Cars. And Cars had a talking helicopter.

A MOST WANTED MAN



Oh no, not John Le Carre! I know he’s hailed for his realism but in my experience, realism in a spy movie means boring and confusing. I guess that explains why the trailer gave me almost no sense of what the f*** was going on.

THE BIRDER



Park? I thought they were at a university. Other than that it looks pretty funny. I just hope that the slightly lackadaisical tone in the trailer doesn’t mean the movie is slow and/or boring.

LAND HO!



This looks like a fun trip to BE on, but not a fun trip to watch these two old dudes go on. It was only two minutes long and I was bored.

I ORIGINS



Oh no, the director of Another Earth. That movie was a really cool idea that was unfortunately too metaphorical and boring in execution. I’m not sure about the idea part of this one – I’m kind of confused about what her eyes are supposed to be telling them – but I get the sense it is also too metaphorical and slow-moving for me.

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DVDs for July 22, 2014

transcendence

Transcendence

This movie explores the interesting (if unoriginal) idea that we can’t tell the difference between human and machine intelligence. After a computer scientist is fatally wounded, his wife uploads him into an AI, which immediately starts taking measures to improve the world and it’s people. But is it really? And who’s doing it, the scientist or the computer? Unfortunately, not a lot actually happens so it gets kind of boring. Read my review for more.

Buy Transcendence on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

heaven is for real

Heaven is For Real

When I type this title, it ends up as “Heaven Is Not For Real.” Freudian slip. You can yell at me if you want, but that won’t change the fact that even if you set aside the issue of veracity, this movie belongs to the same ‘hamfisted inspirational slap’ genre popularized by the Chicken Soup for the Soul series. A little boy has surgery, wakes up, tells his dad he went to heaven and met a bunch of famous people, and the dad puts him on TV to convince and uplift a skeptical public. It’s based on a “non-fiction” book written by the boy and the dad.

Buy Heaven is for Real on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

sabotage

Sabotage

My first thought was: how did Sam Worthington and Joe Manganiello star in a movie together without my knowing about it? (It was straight to DVD in Canada). The premise is a weird cross between an action movie and a horror movie. Arnold Schwarzenegger and a team of wise-cracking DEA agents who aren’t as witty as they think they are (a la The Expendables) take down a drug cartel safe house and then start getting killed off one by one (a la every horror movie ever made) on account of some missing money. It’s about as good as Arnold’s movies usually are.

Buy Sabotageon DVD or on Blu-Ray.

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Planes: Fire and Rescue Review

poster from the Disney film Planes Fire and Rescue

To people who are not me, this would be another lean week for movies. However, since I automatically line up for all movies concerning airplanes and/or firefighting, I was excited for this weekend. I thought the only problem with Planes was its resemblance (story-wise) to Cars, so this time, with firefighting planes, it had to be different. Right?

After a gearbox failure a racing airplane trains as a firefighter in order to help save his hometown.

As a pure Disney effort rather than a Disney-Pixar film, Planes: Fire and Rescue is pretty good. The characters are cute, there are scenes of exciting action, and a handful of jokes that made me laugh out loud. Unfortunately Fire and Rescue lacked heart, which means that by next week I’ll probably have forgotten all about it.

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Trailer Reviews for July 18, 2014

SEX TAPE



While I have to give this movie credit for acknowledging that there’s never just one copy of a thing in the digital age (something action movies like Skyfall and Jack Ryan have yet to clue into) it’s still pretty dumb. Why are these people flailing across the nation thinking they can get every copy back? THIS IS DIGITAL. THERE ARE INFINITE COPIES. YOU WILL NEVER GET THEM ALL. They would have done better to explore the comedy inherent in the two of them becoming overnight internet porn celebrities.

THE PURGE: ANARCHY



What is it, stupid premise day? Horror movies get a certain amount of leeway as far as believability goes, but this one pushes the envelope right over a cliff. National legal crime day is not only stupid (who would live in a country where everyone was allowed to kill them? And who wants to rebuild their entire nation every year after the criminals destroy it?) but it wouldn’t work. Criminals would not wait 364 days to get revenge if someone pissed them off the day after the purge. Also, how dumb are those two who decided to go for a drive just before the purge started?

PLANES: FIRE AND RESCUE



I know Planes didn’t go over well with anyone other than me, but this is a cool idea for a movie. Firefighting AND planes! Firefighting planes! I’m even willing to overlook the fact that Dusty is way too small of a plane to be much help in fighting forest fires. I mean, how much water could he hold in his tank? And how would he scoop it up? Poor Dusty doesn’t look like he could put out a campfire. But he’s still a plane that fights fires so I’ll see it.

BOYHOOD



I think it’s a cool idea to make a movie where the kid grows up on screen, and it looks like a good movie, but it’s kind of like a Guinness record attempt – the only reason to do it is for the pleasure of knowing you’re the only one who has. It just seems like 11 extra years of work when you could have made a good movie in a year by hiring a herd of brothers who all look alike or something.

SNOWPIERCER



I guess this is what you do when you want to make a post-apocalyptic action movie on a small budget. Set it on a train. It looks okay, but it does seem a little silly. I mean, their whole goal is to get to the front of the train. When they get there, they’ll still be on a train.

WISH I WAS HERE



It looks okay I guess. I remember liking Garden State many moons ago so I’d probably like this one as well. There just wasn’t anything in the trailer that really jumped out at me and made me say “Yes! This one! I want to see this one!” All I got was a vague sense of puzzlement… was that a hovering robot??

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DVDs for July 15, 2014

rio 2

Rio 2

In the first Rio, a terrified, flightless macaw named Blue was brought to South America to breed with Jewel, the only other remaining bird of his species. In this sequel, we discover that blue macaws aren’t as rare as everyone thought: Jewel’s whole family is out in the jungle, so Blue (reluctantly) takes the family to Brazil once again to meet their relatives. Like the first Rio, it’s an okay movie. Not the funniest or most exciting movie ever, but it’s cute, it looks nice, and kids enjoy it.

Buy Rio 2 on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

under the skin

Under the Skin

If you’re in the mood for a movie that will make you go: “What the #$%$@& is happening?!” then Under the Skin is for you. Don’t be fooled by the mention of aliens and the fact that Scarlett Johansson is in the cast (okay, she pretty much IS the cast). This movie is more about self discovery and learning about feelings, and by that I mean the main character has a weird look on her face while incomprehensible things happen around her. The only reason people who are not film critics might want to watch this movie is for the nudity.

Buy Under the Skin on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

wipers times

The Wipers Times

If Downton Abbey and Call the Midwife have sucked you into the world of British period drama, expand your horizons a little further and try a BBC war movie. Don’t worry, it’s not full of blood and bombs and harrowing death scenes. It’s about a group of soldiers (led by Ben Chaplin) who find a printing press in World War I and use it to publish a satirical newsletter to keep up morale in the trenches (even though the brass think it’s borderline treasonous) so it’s quite funny. And the best part is – it’s true!

Buy The Wipers Times on DVD.

hercules reborn

Hercules Reborn

There is a Hercules movie coming out soon that stars Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. This is not it, but a sizeable portion of its marketing team are probably hoping you get the two confused – it’s about Hercules and stars a WWE wrestler (John “Johnny Nitro” Hennigan), but the movie itself is sort of a sequel. Hercules is a down-on-his-luck exile who is pressed into action once again when a young man’s bride is kidnapped by an evil king. It’s about as good as any of the knockoffs in the “mockbuster” family (Transmorphers, Chop Kick Panda, etc.) which is to say: not very good.

Buy Hercules Reborn on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

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The Fault in Our Stars Review

poster from the 20th Century Fox film The Fault in Our Stars

I wanted to see Begin Again this week, but all we got was Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, and as I previously mentioned, Planet of the Apes has overstayed its welcome. So my brother and I decided to go to a film from a few weeks ago: The Fault in Our Stars. I havn’t read the John Green novel (not because I wouldn’t, I just haven’t gotten around to it) but I knew it would be sad.

Two teens with cancer meet at a support group and fall in love.

I’m not opposed to sad movies per se. I’m opposed to tearjerkers. For those of you who don’t go to a lot of dramas, sad movies are like The Boy in the Sriped Pajamas. They’re all about conveying the reality of sad situations. Tearjerkers are like The Notebook. They’re all about hamfistedly slapping tears out of your face. This movie is the former.

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Trailer Reviews for July 11, 2014

DAWN OF THE PLANET OF THE APES



Planet of the Apes is a one-off for me. It was good for that one surprise at the end of the first one (I won’t say what it was in case you haven’t seen it) and the brief ‘ha ha, those are monkeys that act like people’ aspect of the premise. It’s not something I want to keep seeing movies about, even if they’ve upgraded from monkey suits to CGI and hired Gollum to animate them. Also, I think the title for this one and the one that came before it (Rise of the Planet of the Apes) should be switched around. It would just make more sense.

BEGIN AGAIN



Once was a film with a very simple (too simple, really) story that was carried on the strength of its soundtrack… or mostly that one song: “Falling Slowly.” I liked Once enough to check out another John Carney film but I do hope the “rejected rockstar girlfriend meets rejected agent” story is stronger than the storyline in Once.

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