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Evil Dead Review

poster from the Sony Pictures film Evil Dead 2013

I don’t plan on comparing this Evil Dead remake/reboot with the original, mostly because I didn’t see it. I like horror movies, but the ones I enjoy are the ‘tense and scary’ type like Sinister rather than the ‘gross and spattery’ type like Saw. I wasn’t sure which kind Evil Dead would be, probably because I watched the green band trailer.

A group of people retreat to a cabin to help a friend recover from a drug addiction but accidentally unleash a demon by reading an evil spell book.

I should have watched the red band trailer instead (or the original), because it would have clued me in to what Evil Dead really is: an attempt to break the Guinness World Record for most fake blood used in a movie. It’s not so much scary as it is disgusting (my friend was actually gagging) and as a result I was bored with it by about the 30 minute mark.

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Trailer Reviews for April 5, 2013

EVIL DEAD



Yes, I know the original Evil Dead from the 80s is a sort of accidental cult classic, and no, I don’t care that they’ve rebooted it and replaced Bruce Campbell with a girl no one’s ever heard of. I’m going to judge this movie on its own merits. I kind of have to, since it’s the only new movie coming out this week and I haven’t seen the original (yes I’m a deprived child yadda yadda). The trailer’s a pretty good one as far as horror movies go – they give you the basics (there’s a book – don’t read it) and then just bombard you with scary scenes for two minutes so you don’t have enough information to guess the end or even who’s going to die. When I see this, I’ll be totally surprised by everything that happens, which is how I like it.

JURASSIC PARK 3D



Like I said, there’s nothing else NEW coming out this week. But if I wasn’t seeing a movie for the purposes of reviewing it… yeah, I might pay $14.50 to see Jurassic Park again in 3D. I don’t really care about the 3D part – Jurassic Park was freaking awesome on the big screen the first time around, largely because of the sound – all the dinosaur roars played loud enough to make your lungs rattle. It’s amazing how well the special effects have held up, too, even in the current ‘we can make anything from CGI’ era. Anyway, I won’t be going, but at least I won’t yell at them for releasing it – or you for handing over more money.

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DVDs for April 2, 2013

nerd alert

Avengers Boxed Set

Nerd alert! If you’re a big Avengers fan and you don’t get have all the Blu-Rays or 3D Blu-Rays, now’s your chance to get them all together in a SHIELD briefcase with a Tesseract (glowy blue cube). Note that there are no DVDs in this set but there is a bonus disc full of extra scenes and featurettes, plus replica dossiers. For those who need a run down on the movies: Avengers: pretty good, Captain America: really good, Thor: terrific, Iron Man: awesome, Iron Man 2: less than, and Incredible Hulk: kind of forgettable.

Buy The Avengers Super Nerd Set on briefcase.

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hitlers children

Hitler’s Children

I wasn’t originally planning to talk about anything other than the Avengers super nerd boxed set this week, but then I saw Hitler’s Children. It’s a lesser known German documentary (subtitled in English) about the descendants of Adolf Hitler’s inner circle: people like Goering and Himmler. If you’ve ever wondered what it would be like to have everyone associate you with genocide despite the fact that you thought your family was totally normal until the shades were suddenly pulled away, you’ll find this fascinating. I sure did.

Buy Hitler’s Children on DVD.
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dirk gently

Dirk Gently

And finally, if you enjoy detective and police procedural shows, this little known British television series might be up your street. It will be even more up your street if you like clever satire, madcap plotlines, and zany characters, as this is a Douglas Adams adaptation (he of Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy fame). Dirk is the eccentric, insolvent proprietor of a ‘holistic’ detective agency, who relies on the universe’s inherent interconnectedness to solve crimes of a more peculiar nature than you might see on Sherlock or CSI. Check it out if you can find it.

Buy Dirk Gently on DVD.

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The Host Review

poster from the Chockstone Pictures film The Host

I’m not a fan of Stephenie Meyer but I do like science fiction. After the Twilight debacle, my friend assured me that The Host was much better. And it did seem to be at first. Invasion of the Body Snatchers as a romance is at least an interesting (and somewhat original) idea. I read about thirty pages and then got bored – mostly she just sat around talking to herself in her head. So when I heard there was a movie, I had to see it just to find out how they could make it work.

An alien consciousness implanted in a struggling human girl comes to value humans for themselves rather than as vessels.

The surprising thing about The Host for me was that it did mostly work. It’s still a Stephenie Meyer story though, so most of it’s about LURV and how LURV is the answer to everything. But it wasn’t horrible like Twilight thanks to the fact that the actors could act, which saved a lot of otherwise dopey scenes.

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Trailer Reviews for March 29, 2013

THE HOST



Though I think the Twilight books are terrible, I do think that Stephanie Meyer’s other book (her ONE other book) has an interesting premise – a human trying to coexist in her own head with an alien consciousness. The problem is that I can’t get through the book. I read about 30 pages and didn’t want to go any further. The trailer for the movie version looks pretty interesting. Humans vs alien car chases, sci-fi laser effects, and best of all: they can’t spend the whole time inside her head with the two of them just talking back and forth. It could be funny to watch her struggle with herself on screen like there are two cartoon characters in her brain fighting for control over her puppet strings. Yeah there’s a love story, but it’s already better than Twilight just by not having any sparkling vampires, so I might give it a chance.

G.I. JOE RETALIATION



The first G.I. Joe reboot only made it to #5 on my worst movies of the year list, so if The Host turns out to be ‘typical’ Stephenie Meyer (i.e. #1 worst movie) this sequel might actually turn out to be better. It’s going to be dumb, though. That much is a given. But it’s a fun kind of dumb. The first one was dumb. The trailer is dumb. The plot is a ripoff of the good X-Men movies and every commando movie made in the last two years (oh noes! The government has turned on us! Whatever shall we do?!) Bruce Willis is (yet again) THE ONLY MAN THAT CAN SAVE US. Even though they’re Awesome Team G.I. Joe Commandos or whatever. Ninjas on ropes fight with swords and never think to CUT EACH OTHER’S ROPES. So I guess you have to ask yourself which is better: potentially terrible or definitely dumb?

SPRING BREAKERS



I could hardly even FIND a green band version of the trailer for this movie to embed in this article, so that should tell you a lot about this movie. A better title might have been ‘James Franco pervs on some teenagers in bikinis who have a tenancy to make bad life decisions.’ And no, I’m not talking about how they pick their clothes – I’m talking about their decision to ROB A BANK and BECOME INVOLEVED WITH DRUG DEALERS. It’s like Girls Gone Wild crossed with Blow but ‘legitimate’ because it’s ‘fiction.’ FYI though if your teenage sons want to go see it, you should probably say no. The whole thing reads like a desperate ploy by former Disney actresses to break out of the ‘good girl’ mold.

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DVDs for March 26, 2013

lincoln

Lincoln

Pretty much everything Daniel Day-Lewis touches these days turns to gold… or at least into golden awards, usually for himself. Lincoln, a historical biopic of President Lincoln’s struggle to abolish slavery before the end of the Civil War, was nominated for the best picture Oscar but lost to Argo. Lincoln is probably the more stereotypical ‘best picture’ movie, though. It’s two and a half hours long, incomprehensible to anyone with no prior knowledge of the topic, and consists mostly of slow moving scenes of people talking or making speeches. I’d take Argo over Lincoln any day.

Buy Lincoln on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

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parental guidance

Parental Guidance

If your family is getting together for the holidays this weekend and you want to put on something inoffensive to keep everyone from having to talk to each other too much, this would be a good choice. It involves all three generations of a family as the grandparents step in to look after the grandkids when the kids go away for work. Almost everyone will find something to identify with (high strung parents, bratty kids, inflexible grandparents, etc.) and almost no one will find anything really objectionable about it, as the most risque joke in the movie involves grandpa getting hit in the crotch.

Buy Parental Guidance on DVD or on Blu-Ray.
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killing them softly

Killing Them Softly

The title makes it seem like maybe people are smothered with pillows, but actually they spend a lot of time filling houses full of bullets. The storyline has to do with some dumb criminals robbing the mob’s card game and then getting chased around for the rest of the movie. Nobody in this film is really likeable or even redeemable so it’s a little hard to care when they get their asses shot off. There are a few quips and jokes here and they try to satirize American politics (how original) but it just comes off as insufferable and annoying. The pool of people who might actually like this movie is small.

Buy Killing Them Softly on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

empire strikes out

Lego Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Out

I’m a big Star Wars nerd and I own most of the Lego video games, but even I wouldn’t pay $12 for 22 minutes of content. The Empire Strikes Out is a cartoon TV special starring Lego characters satirizing The Empire Strikes Back. It’s cute and funny (funnier if you’re a Star Wars fan, obviously) but it’s also on YouTube, where you can watch it for free. Even including a Lego figure of Darth Vader with the DVD doesn’t make it worth the money. If you’ve got $12 to spend, go out and pluck one of the Lego video games out of a sale bin instead.

Buy Lego Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Out on DVD.

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Trailer Reviews for March 22, 2013

OLYMPUS HAS FALLEN



When I first read the name of this movie in the Coming Soon lists I thought it might be another Greek mythology movie, but I think this might actually be worse than The Titans Do Something Angrily Part 3. They had me interested in Gerard Butler’s character when he had to make a tough call about leaving Mrs. President in the car, but then they got into the real point of the movie which is… ridiculous. Like: plot-of-a-video-game ridiculous (I’m looking at you, Modern Warfare series). Armed airplanes swanning into White House airspace, barely two dozen random terrorists who are possibly North Korean toppling the whole Secret Service and then NOT KILLING the president for some weird reason? Isn’t that like terrorist goal #1? This movie looks dumber than Red Dawn, and it doesn’t even have that dopey kid from Drake and Josh in it!

THE CROODS



Oh Dreamworks… I thought we were going to leave the history-massacring animated movies to Twentieth Century Fox? And speaking of Twentieth Century Fox, isn’t the whole plot of this movie (Earth breaking up – must move!) plus the character of the annoying/abusive granny, lifted wholesale from Ice Age: Continental Drift? If they’re trying to compete against Ice Age, I already know they’re going to lose. This trailer didn’t make me laugh even once. I think they’re trying too hard to impress us with their colorful plants and starry skies and skimping on the originality (remind you of any other movies you know? *cough*Avatar*cough). We know you can do nice things with computers, movie studios. We’re not impressed anymore. Give us back our good stories.

ADMISSION



If this movie starred anyone other than Tina Fey and Paul Rudd, I would skip over it without a second glance. I didn’t laugh at the trailer. They gave almost the entire thing away (WHY would you ever think it would be a good idea to stick the “he’s your son!” revelation into the TRAILER?!) and on top of that… it just feels kinda blah. A comedy from the perspective of an admissions officer who’s getting bombarded with every sob story and rambling, narcissistic essay in the nation is original and could be really funny. But then they had to go and muddy it up with the “I’m suddenly a mom” thing, which could be funny (but isn’t) and certainly isn’t original. Poorly done, movie. Poorly done. And a waste of Tina Fey!

WELCOME TO THE PUNCH



Two things struck me about this trailer: 1) it is extremely blue. Like Smurf blue or Avatar blue. I’m pretty sure that’s not what they were going for. 2) It’s very laconic for an action movie or a thriller or a crime movie or whatever this is. I wondered why, and then I saw Ridley Scott’s name, and I thought: mystery solved. I like both James MacAvoy and Mark Strong, but this trailer has not made me want to see their movie.

KNIFE FIGHT



So… this has surprisingly few knives and fights for a movie called Knife Fight, though I suppose I should at least give them half points for talking a lot about metaphorical knife fighting. I’m not really sure what this movie is about, though. A political fixer who’s working for both sides in the election? That could be funny… though the trailer was pretty low energy. Overall I was not enthralled.

INAPPROPRIATE COMEDY



Didn’t I already disparage a terrible sketch comedy film starring famous people this month? Wasn’t it called Movie 43? I was barely ten seconds into the trailer and I already wanted to stop watching. I can’t see myself paying actual money to see this unfunny. I’m not a masochist.

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DVDs for March 19, 2013

les miserables

Les Miserables

Les Miserables is one of those films you either love or hate. Some people say it’s melodramatic and overwrought, and others are transported. I rated Les Miserables as the best movie of 2012, so you can probably guess which camp I’m in. This movie, based on a famous-book-turned-stage musical about a convict struggling to raise his adopted daughter in the middle of a student uprising in France, is in a class apart from other movie musicals because all of the singing was recorded live, freeing the actors up to go with the flow. The results are astounding. Check it out or read my review for more.

Buy Les Miserables on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

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zero dark thirty

Zero Dark Thirty

The best movie from last year and my frontrunner for best movie of 2013 coming out the same day – it’s a good week! This war thriller, which tells the story of the CIA manhunt for Osama Bin Laden and the subsequent Navy SEAL takedown, was tense from start to finish, incredibly intelligent, positive in its depiction of women agents, and at times disturbing. It’s probably the best movie about modern war I’ve ever seen, but don’t let that fool you into thinking it’s an explosion fest. It’s a lot more subtle than that. You should definitely check it out. It deserved that Best Picture nomination. Read my review for more specifics.

Buy Zero Dark Thirty on DVD or on Blu-Ray.
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hobbit

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

I liked Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy even though I barely made it througha third of the first book, but The Hobbit just didn’t work. This story of a sedentary hobbit who is recruited to help some dwarfs win their mountain home back from a dragon is one book but was dragged out into three movies. They barely get within sight of the mountain in three hours and most of the plot is taken up by monster and character cameos shoehorned in to appease Tolkien fans. Rent it if you must, but don’t expect much. You can read my review for more.

Buy The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

this is 40

This is 40

I almost went to this movie in theaters, but then I decided I’d rather stay home than give Judd Apatow more of my money. I’m not a fan of Knocked Up, the sort of prequel movie (the main characters in that film are only referenced in this one) but I do like Paul Rudd. Unfortunately, he’s not given much to work with here. His character (all of the characters, really) are spoiled, spiteful, entitled, and irresponsible. Since there’s not even really a plot to speak of, just endless sequences of people picking on each other, there’s no reason this needed to be over two hours long. Unless you’re a huge Apatow acolyte, skip it.

Buy This is 40 on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

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The Incredible Burt Wonderstone Review

poster

We’re well into the doldrums period of film releases now and I wasn’t particularly excited about either of this week’s offerings: The Incredible Burt Wonderstone or The Call. Burt Wonderstone emerged as the front runner because a) The Call made me watch its trailer 5,000 times on the CTV website and b) Jim Carrey’s back playing a nutcase (which means it is officially the 90s again).

A jaded Las Vegas magician tries to restart his career after he loses his audience to a rival with bloodier tricks.

I’ve seen this Siegfried and Roy vs Criss Angel setup before in really well done episodes of CSI: NY and Supernatural, so what it all boiled down to for me was: is it funny? And yes, I’m happy to report that it is hilarious, which easily makes up for a few plot and character related issues.

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Trailer Reviews for March 15, 2013

THE INCREDIBLE BURT WONDERSTONE



Siegfried and Roy vs Criss Angel? Okay, I can dig it… but what the hell is wrong with Steve Carell’s face? He looks like Joseph Gordon-Levitt after they tried to turn him into Bruce Willis for that stupic time traveling hitman movie. Is that part of the story? Is it important to the plot? Did he have a tragic wax accident? Or did they consciously decide to coat his entire face in prosthetics for the whole movie just to get one laugh (now that’s dedication… not efficiency, but dedication). It bothers me, but I will go to this movie because it’s good to see Jim Carrey back doing what he does best – being a complete lunatic. I’m tired of trying to take him seriously in movies when I wish he would just float by in a tutu for no reason and liven things up.

THE CALL



I don’t even know where to start with this. First of all, 9-1-1 operators are not responsible for ensuring the well being of the people who call them. That’s what police are for. Also, why does she call back that girl when she knew the girl was hiding from a killer? Doesn’t she watch TV? And why does this movie even exist when everyone has GPS trackers in their phones and all it would take is one call to the phone company to see where the girl’s calling from? Also, two people on the phone to each other is a boring setup for a thriller. I know. I watched The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3. So will I go to this movie? Hell no. Even if they hadn’t given the whole thing away in the trailer, I watch better versions of this movie on TV every week – they’re called episodes of Criminal Minds. I might have considered being kinder to The Call if I hadn’t been forced to watch the trailer 3,000 times in one day just to see some videos on CTV.ca, but I was so I didn’t.

A ROYAL AFFAIR



This movie almost lost me right out of the gate – it’s called A Royal Affair and I hate movies about adultery. Period movies seem to be even more obsessed with it then contemporary ones, probably because there’s only so much needlepoint one can do before one fancies a boink. I was a little more sympathetic about the adultery thing when I found out the main character was married to a nutbar she didn’t even pick for herself. I don’t think Madds Mikkelson is attractive – he still looks too much like a Bond villain to me – but I guess I’d pick him over the nutbar, even if the nutbar was the king. Now, if I only knew what else happens in this movie, because what it looked like to me was a lot of confused yelling.

AMOUR



You may remember, if you bothered to watch the Academy Awards (like I didn’t) that this movie won Best Foreign Language Film. So it’s old but it’s coming back to theaters because now some people might actually want to watch it. If you think that winning an Oscar means Amour will be slow and boring, you’re right! If you don’t believe me, watch the trailer. If you don’t get bored and/or confused before it’s over, you’re more of a ‘real’ critic than I am. (i.e. you’re either more pretentious or more willing to lie about it). This is what I was thinking:
WOMAN: What’s going on here?
ME: Yeah, what IS going on here? The trailer’s almost over and I still have no idea!
Even the people who liked this movie compare watching it to being tortured, so if you want to be tortured, all it will cost is $11.50 plus popcorn! A steal!

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