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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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Trailer Reviews for June 6, 2014

EDGE OF TOMORROW



This movie looks awesome and stupid at the same time. Dying every day and waking up to do a big battle over again until you get it right? Awesome. The suits they wear in said battle? Stupid. They’re clunky and they offer no protection at all (I guess if you just keep waking up again it doesn’t matter if you get shot?) Their only purpose seems to be as a framework for hoisting their massive, ridiculous guns.

THE FAULT IN OUR STARS



Again, I do and I don’t want to see this movie. I’m sure it’s cute and romantic and meaningful, but one or both of them is dying, so there’s no getting around the fact that it’s going to be really f***ing depressing. So I guess the question is: do I want to be sad all weekend?

CHEF



To me, Jon Favreau will always be the guy who made Iron Man hilarious and awesome. But who’s to say he couldn’t make independent dramedies about cooking awesome and hilarious as well?

TRACKS



I’m pretty sure Robyn Davidson is who they were making fun of in Priscilla: Queen of the Desert, when the lady dragging the little blinking light would run by. It’s an inspiring story and Mia Wasikowska is a great actress, but I feel like this movie will have to work really hard not to be boring. Struggling alone makes for a compelling autobiography, but put it on screen and it’s just a woman squinting at the horizon.

WOLFCOP



This movie was some sort of Cineplex contest winner. I’ve been seeing ads for this for months. Looks pretty funny. Maybe I’ll see it someday. Our theater’s not currently on the Wolfcop list.

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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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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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Blood of Alexander Book Review

I’ll be stuck in the woods all weekend, so there will be no Godzilla review this Sunday. I did receive an equally implausible free book through Goodreads recently. As a consolation prize, I shall share my impressions with you. It’s an action/adventure novel called Blood of Alexander, recently released by Forge Books.

blood of alexander cover

A globetrotting antiques expert working for a secret organization must save the word from a weaponized artifact in the hands of an evil villain.

I requested Blood of Alexander because I’m a fan of archeology thrillers such as Dan Brown’s Angels and Demons and Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child’s Relic. However, I’m sorry to report that I gave up on The Blood of Alexander about a third of the way through.

The Blood of Alexander ticks all the boxes on the action-thriller genre list. A terrorist plans to use a relic to destroy the world. The only one who can stop him is the main character, a man with more skills and knowledge than the Encyclopedia Britannica. Scarcely a dozen pages go by without a gunfight, and the the chapters all seem to end with cliffhangers. This is exactly what many genre fans are looking for, so that’s great.

However, the book never managed to engage me. The awkward writing prevented me from losing myself in the story. It sacrificed flow in the name of glib irreverence and it made me want to put the book down as soon as I started reading. The story seemed to be built on a very shaky foundation and the characters’ actions were dictated by the needs of the plot rather than what was logical or realistic.

The characters were constantly either fighting or escaping. I like action-oriented thrillers as much as archeological ones (I’m a huge fan of Jack Reacher and Alex Rider) but the battles in The Blood of Alexander seemed to be stalling the plot rather than advancing it. I stopped reading a third of the way through the book, and at that point the characters had only collected one clue. There was still no sign of anything related to Alexander the Great.

I also wasn’t a fan of the main character, Jonathan Blake. Jonathan’s tragic back story and his first person perspective were (I believe) meant to help readers empathize, but I couldn’t connect with him. It seemed like Jonathan was trying to be Indiana Jones and James Bond at the same time, but in my opinion, you can’t be both a scruffy rogue who’s constantly in over his head AND a suave operator who can garotte a henchman with a spool of dental floss.

I would tentatively recommend this book to action-thriller fans who like Hollywood-style high-concept plots and jack-of-all-trades heroes (think Clive Cussler or Ted Bell), but even then you should read the first few pages before you commit to the book.

Given that I wasn’t interested in finishing, I give Blood of Alexander a rating of:

category 0

This review brought to you by:
Indiana Bond and the Temple of Explosions

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Trailer Reviews for May 16, 2014

GODZILLA



I don’t normally get excited for big dumb giant thing movies, but this one looks pretty good. I like how the trailers hold back on the Godzilla reveal to make it clear that it’s a movie with actual characters and story, not just a two hour CGI rampage. There’s a trailer focused on Aaron Taylor-Johnson’s character that’s even better than this one, but I can’t find it. Anyway, I wish I could go this weekend but I’m camping with my Girl Guides.

MILLION DOLLAR ARM



Dang, I wanted to see this movie too! Oh well. I’m just glad they didn’t decide to make me miss the opening weekend of X-Men: Days of Future Past. I don’t like baseball but I do like sports movies, I guess because they’re less about sports than they are about relationships and overcoming obstacles to become the best version of yourself. The idea of Jon Hamm becoming a ‘big brother’ to a bunch of Indian cricket players nobody thinks will succeed sucks me right in.

THE IMMIGRANT



Hmm. It looked nice, but I’m not sure I got much from this trailer. I get that Marion Cotillard is an immigrant, her sister’s in quarantine (consumption?) and that Joaquin Phoenix probably takes advantage of her while Jeremy Renner loves her, but why is it so quiet? Also, I get worried when I see reviews quoted that describe the movie as like a ‘dream’ or a ‘delusion.’ Dreams and delusions make no sense, and I can’t abide by nonsensical movies.

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