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Trailer Reviews for June 13, 2014

22 JUMP STREET



21 Jump Street was a comedy I worried would be too dumb for me, but it turned out to be both hilarious and smart. Major points went to it for making fun of the fact that it was a remake. This trailer shows the same level of self awareness. It also made me smile, though the red band trailer is funnier.

HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON 2



I loved the first How to Train Your Dragon. It was pretty much a perfect movie. But I felt like when it was over, it was done. It didn’t need a sequel. Any attempt to lengthen the story with another movie would just seem tacked-on. And this trailer hasn’t convinced me otherwise. But Dreamworks has money to make, so I guess we’ll be seeing these for a while until eventually they end up straight-to-video like Land Before Time 27.

THE DOUBLE



Wasn’t there just a movie about two Jake Gyllenhaals? Is this a trend now, that actors don’t feel challenged unless they’re playing against themselves? I’m not a fan of even one Jesse Eisenberg and this movie looks boring and weird. Weird in a way that’s meant to be funny but fails to elicit more than an awkward ‘heh’ from me. I’m skipping it.

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DVDs for June 10, 2014

jack ryan

Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit

This is the first Jack Ryan movie not based on any of Tom Clancey’s novels, and it shows. It’s a lot less politically sophisticated than the previous Jack Ryan films and a lot more confused in terms of who the Jack Ryan character is and what he can do. Though the filmmakers have tried to update the series by bringing it into the present day, it still feels like a Cold War movie, mostly because the Russians are the bad guys and digital data is treated like hard copy. Rent it if you’re looking for a generic action movie or check out my full review.

Buy Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

nonstop

Non-Stop

Speaking of generic movies, Non-Stop, a generic thriller about a sky marshall trapped on a plane with a terrorist, also releases this week. It’s a good premise for a contained space thriller, but they ruined it by spending most of the movie texting and by having everyone think that the hero was the villain, which made the plot seem convoluted. If you’re looking at Liam Neeson’s picture on the box and thinking it will be like Taken, think again. There’s only one good fist fight in the whole movie. Read my review for more.

Buy Non-Stop on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

cosmos

Cosmos

Judging from the amount of pseudoscientific bullsh** and outright lies being shared by people on my Facebook news feed, a lot more people need to watch this documentary series. It does for physics, astronomy, and ecology what BBC’s Planet Earth did for geography and biology – it makes you want to hear about science. Whether you failed every science class in school or you’re a Popular Science subscriber, TV presenter/real actual scientist Neil deGrasse Tyson has something new to say to you. And it looks pretty. Check it out.

Buy Cosmos on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

devils knot

Devil’s Knot

And now for a non-generic thriller: Devil’s Knot is based on the true story of a trio of teens accused of murdering three little boys as part of a satanic ritual. The film delves into the horror of the murders as well as the controversial aspects of the case, raising the question of whether the teens really killed anyone or if the town is just out to get them for being weird. If you’ve seen the documentaries the film probably won’t offer anything new, but if you’re coming to it fresh you’ll find it really interesting. Check it out.

Buy Devil’s Knot on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

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Chef Review

poster  from the Open Road Pictures film Chef

I was mildly interested in seeing all three of this week’s movies: Edge of Tomorrow, The Fault in Our Stars, and Chef. But while the first two likely won’t need any help from me, the third one might. It’s written and directed by Iron Man‘s Jon Favreau, so I felt like I owed it my ticket money (Iron Man was f***ing awesome).


A disaffected restaurant chef reconnects with his son and rediscovers the joy of cooking when he drives his own food truck across the country.

Chef is listed as a comedy. It has its funny moments, but I’d classify it more as a dramedy, funny drama, or maybe even an upbeat drama. There were only seven people in the theater when I went, but there should have been more, because Chef is the kind of movie that even people who don’t go to movies will like.

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DVDs for June 3, 2014

lone-survivor dvd

Lone Survivor

Based on the autobiography of a Navy SEAL who was lost and wounded during a disastrous operation in Afghanistan, Lone Survivor isn’t so much Marcus Luttrell’s survival story as it is a memorial to his fallen brothers. It’s like Saving Private Ryan, only more heartwrenching because it’s true. This makes it a hard movie to watch, but if you can handle it, I think you should do it. You may feel a bit like you’re intruding on the grief of others, but they made the movie because want us to see it.

Buy Lone Survivor on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

robocop dvd

Robocop

This movie is a remake of the classic 1987 film. A critically injured police officer in a city plagued by crime is brought back to the force as a heavily armored robot to do the police department’s bidding, but there’s more of the officer left than they bargained for, and he has an agenda of his own. Debate rages as to whether the original was better, but if you like action movies, cool special effects, and exploring the scientific aspects of your sci-fi (like in Almost Human), you’ll probably like the new Robocop.

Buy Robocop on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

son-of-god dvd

Son of God

If you’re strongly religious and of the Christian persuasion, you MIGHT enjoy this movie. It’s a biopic of Jesus edited down from a miniseries that interprets the bible literally. This movie does not have its tongue in its cheek (like Life of Brian), has no grit (like Passion of the Christ), and takes no chances (like Color of the Cross). However, even if you’re really religious, you still may not like the movie because Jesus is cast as a smirking, laid-back surfer type whose smarmy face begs to be slapped.

Buy Son of God on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

goodbye-world dvd

Goodbye World

Have you been wondering what the guy from Entourage and Ryan from The O.C. have been up to lately? Well the answer is: starring in a movie about what happens after a computer virus destroys civilization. Its an ensemble drama rather than horror or action. Almost the entire plot is devoted to their interpersonal problems (marriage falling apart, friends arguing, neighbors who are suspicious of outsiders). This, for me, is the least interesting thing that could happen in a post-apocalyptic world. But if you like people arguing (so… The Walking Dead?) you might like it.

Buy Goodbye World on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

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The Grand Seduction Review

poster from the Entertainment One movie The Grand Seduction

I can count on one hand the number of Canadian movies I actually like (well, maybe two hands at this point). I reject most at the trailer stage for being boring, confusing, pretentious, or only playing in Toronto. So when the previews my theater showed for The Grand Seduction made me laugh, it didn’t matter what else was coming out this week. I HAD to see it.

An unemployed fisherman convinces his town to lie to a visiting doctor so he’ll stay and help them meet the oil company’s requirements for a new factory.

The trailers made it seem like a romantic comedy, and it was. But the romance wasn’t between the doctor and the woman he meets in town. It’s between the doctor and the town. And while there were a few things in The Grand Seduction that I found hard to believe, it was easy to enjoy.

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Trailer Reviews for May 30, 2014

MALEFICENT



I’m confused by all of the trailers I’ve seen for this movie. Is Maleficent the main character or the villain or both? She seems pretty evil, but then again so does Sleeping Beauty’s dad. And what is Maleficent trying to accomplish in this story? Is she trying to get her wings back? Looking for revenge against Sleeping Beauty’s dad? Both? Neither? I can’t say I’m inclined to see the movie to find out.

A MILLION WAYS TO DIE IN THE WEST



I’m not a fan of Ted (though I did like the idea), and I though used to watch Family Guy back in the day, I wouldn’t say my sense of humor completely lines up with Seth MacFarlane’s. His jokes are a little cruder than the stuff that typically makes me laugh. Having said that, people dying in unorthodox ways is HILARIOUS. I don’t really understand why his character is back in the old west talking like a tour guide, but the trailer made me laugh enough that I’d pay money to find out.

THE GRAND SEDUCTION



Northern Exposure by way of Newfoundland. Nice! As funny as A Million Ways to Die in the West looks, I have to see this one this week. Not only is it a Canadian movie, it’s a Canadian movie that looks funny and upbeat and is coming to my town on opening week. I can’t pass up an opportunity like that, not if I ever want the ‘good’ Canadian films to come my way in a timely manner again.

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DVDs for May 27, 2014

endless love

Endless Love

More like creepy, obsessive love. Gabriella Wilde plays a sheltered rich girl who falls in love with a teenage boy who’s ‘below her station,’ played by Alex Pettyfer (yes, the one from the man-stripper movie). Her parents try to keep them apart, so he goes psycho and burns her house down. At least, he does in the book. In the original film and in this remake, it’s a soppy ‘we were meant for each other, they just don’t understand’ teen love story. Like Twilight. So if you like that, you’ll like this.

Buy Endless Love on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

supercollider

Supercollider

This B-level disaster movie is based on the fear that a really really powerful supercollider could tear apart spacetime. A cliched dad-who-is-not-there-for-his-kids working at an Epcot-looking supercollider begins to suspect that the slew of disasters plaguing the world are the result of the collider accidentally shoving time onto a different track, but of course everyone thinks he’s crazy so he’s the only one that can save them. Good idea, bad execution. Read Jack McDevitt’s book Odyssey instead.

Buy Supercollider on DVD.

gambit

Gambit

Sadly, this movie has nothing to do with my favorite character from X-Men. I guess we’ll have to rely on Channing Tatum (I know. What??) to give us that movie in a few years. This one was written (but not directed) by the Cohen brothers and features a Devil Wears Prada-esque abused employee trying to con his boss into buying a fake painting. Colin Firth loses his pants. Alan Rickman is naked, and Cameron Diaz has a ridiculous accent. If you want to see famous people hamming it up and having fun, check it out.

Buy Gambit on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

birders guide

A Birder’s Guide to Everything

In this coming-of-age dramedy, a group of teens lead by Kodi Smit-McPhee trek into the wilderness to earn a place in the bird watching record books by confirming their sighting of an extinct duck. Sort of like Stand By Me, but with a duck instead of a body. And no danger. And one of them is a girl. And the bad teens are replaced by adult birders trying to steal their thunder. The pace is laconic and the kids’ acting is awkward, but some people find that charming/authentic. If you’re one of them (I’m not), check it out.

Buy A Birder’s Guide to Everything on DVD.

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X-Men: Days of Future Past Review

poster from the Twentieth Century Fox film X-Men Days of Future Past

Of all the superhero movies, the X-Men are my favorite. Except, of course, for X-Men 3 – an atrocity we fans avoid speaking of like it’s the movie equivalent of Voldemort. X-Men: First Class was one of my favorite movies ever. I was looking forward to Days of Future Past, not just because it’s the sequel, but because it promised to erase X-Men 3 from history.

Wolverine is sent back to 1973 to stop an assassination that will lead to an apocalyptic future full of invincible mutant-hunting super-robots.

I had some slight worries regarding time travel rules and the huge cast of mutants, but I’m happy to report that they were groundless. Though there were some themes that were repeated from other movies, everything else was great. I’ll buy the DVD for sure.

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Trailer Reviews for May 23, 2014

X-MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST



This movie looks incredibly ambitious. It has a huge cast that’s been doubled on account of everyone having a past and a future self. I worry that since time travel is so tricky, they’ll break their own rules. And even if they don’t, won’t it seem really rushed and chaotic as they try to squeeze everybody in? However, I love the first two X-Men movies and First Class was amazing. If this movie does as promised and wipes out the atrocity that was X-Men 3, I will be a very happy person.

BLENDED



This is a TERRIBLE movie. Not only is it horrifically unfunny, it also sends the message that single women are soft carpets who can’t raise boys not to burn their damn house down, that girls raised by single men are all involuntary tomboys, and that people with kids are too dumb to go on a date without spitting in each others’ faces. I like the idea of a movie about a blended family coming together, but this movie is light years dumber than Yours, Mine and Ours.

THE LOVE PUNCH



I don’t understand why this movie is called The Love Punch but it looks MUCH funnier than Blended. I love Emma Thompson and Pierce Brosnan and the whole ‘adventures of hilarious older people’ genre. If I was going to a romantic comedy this weekend, I would pick this one. But I’m not, because X-MEN!!!!

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DVDs for May 19, 2014

pompeii

Pompeii

Attention everybody: buy this movie. My brother worked on it. No, his name’s not in the credits. He was just filling in. Behind the camera. But buy it anyway. What? You want to know about the movie? It’s actually pretty good. Kit Harrington plays a pouty Celt not unlike Jon Snow who is taken to Pompeii as a gladiator, falls in love with the mayor’s daughter, and tries to get revenge on the guy who killed his family. Oh, and a mountain explodes. Spectacularly. In very expensive CGI. Check out my review for more.

Buy Pompeii on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

right kind of wrong

The Right Kind of Wrong

While you’ve got your credit card out, you should buy this movie too. Because a) it’s Canadian and b) it’s actually fun to watch and not depressing at all. Jason from True Blood plays a failed writer who decides to break up Aunt Jenna from The Vampire Diaries and her douchey husband on account of he saw her kick a football one time. It’s both romantic and comedic and the scenery is nice too. Check out my review for more.

Buy The Right Kind of Wrong on DVD.

vampire academy

Vampire Academy

If you watched Twilight and wished there was a teen vampire movie that was less dumb and stalkery, let me introduce you to Vampire Academy. Our hero is a sarcastic, ass-kicking, hard-partying teenage vampire bodyguard who unravels a conspiracy involving secret superpowers and princess-napping. It’s about as far away from Twilight as you can get without becoming Underworld, and the book is good too. Check it out.

Buy Vampire Academy on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

monuments men

The Monuments Men

If you watched Saving Private Ryan and wished there were more art critics puttering around in crumbly basements looking for old paintings, then Monuments Men is for you. While their work was important and deserves recognition, you’ll probably get more out of the book version. The movie tries to be glib and serious at the same time by melding wisecracking characters with the serious subject of trying to rescue cultures the Nazis tried to wipe out, but the film failed to resonate with people.

Buy Monuments Men on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

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