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DVDs for January 14, 2014

riddick

Riddick

Chances are you’ve heard of Riddick by now. He was the mysterious, morally ambiguous character at the center of the 2000 horor movie Pitch Black who was subsequently demystified and turned into a meatheaded sci-fi/fantasy action hero in a sequel movie and some video games. By the time Riddick rolled around, the character been relegated to cheap-bin status. The movie itself is about Riddick being chased by bounty hunters. Read my fake review Riddickulous to see what I thought of it.

Buy Riddick on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

the butler

The Butler

In this semi-true historical epic based on a newspaper article, an African American White House butler played by Forest Whitaker witnesses (and even manages to influence) most of the major civil rights related events of the second half of the 20th century. It’s interesting as a character study (his family members are all conveniently involved in different movements, which makes for a lot of conflict) and as a historical survey for anyone who’d like to learn more about Civil Rights. Check it out.

Buy The Butler on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

carrie

Carrie

Here’s another addition to the genre of ‘movies that didn’t need to be remade.’ Since it bills itself as a ‘re-imagining,’ you might think that it goes back to the source material (Stephen King’s novel) but it doesn’t. It’s just a remake of the 1976 version, where a telekenetic high school senior goes on a rampage after her bullies take things too far, but with more simplified characters/plot and better special effects. So if you like complexity, rewatch the old version. If you like CGI tables flying around, watch this one.

Buy Carrie on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

top gear 20

Top Gear Season 20

If you’re not already watching this show… what’s the matter with you? Haven’t you been listening to me? This is the funniest show on TV (and yes, I am counting all your favorite sitcoms). Even when they’re just reviewing cars, Jeremy, James, and Richard crack me up. When they challenge themselves to build/do something that looks easy, I can’t breathe. This season their six episodes of antics include: choosing the most inconspicuous supercar, driving a homeade hovervan on the Avon River, and crashing a lot of old taxis in a race.

Buy Top Gear: Season 20 on DVD.

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Her Review

poster from the Warner Bros. pictures movie Her

I had two choices for movies this week: depressing or weird. I wasn’t in an ‘everybody dies’ mood, so bypassed Lone Survivor in favor of my brother’s choice: Her. I’m not a fan of Joaquin Phoenix or Spike Jonze and I couldn’t see any way the movie would end happily, but at least Her seemed to have a bit of a sci-fi flavor and an original premise.

A lonely writer falls in love with his artificially intelligent operating system.

While I was expecting Her to be a little science fictioney, I was surprised and pleased to find that it was a LOT science fictioney, in a classic, Isaac Asimov, Golden Age, ‘what if’ sort of way. Unfortunately, I can’t honestly say that I liked it, as the movie also felt too long, too repetitive, too close, and too awkward to be a fun time.

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Trailer Reviews for January 10, 2014

LONE SURVIVOR



I read this book. When I heard they were making a movie out of it, I thought I wanted to see it. Now I’m not so sure. For one thing, I know how it’s going to go, and it’s going to be really depressing. Everyone’s going to die. And no, that’s not a spoiler. They gave it away in the title. I’ve seen plenty of ‘everybody dies’ war movies and you really only need to see one to get the point. As for the casting… holy crap. That kid from The Seeker is old enough to play grown ups? Also, Mark Wahlberg as Marcus Luttrell? He’s not really what I would call a ‘serious’ actor. Plus the real guy is about 6’5” and looks like Greg Grunberg. On the other hand though: Eric Bana. I can never say no to that guy.

HER



My brother really wants me to go see this movie with him. I don’t know if I want to. It’s an interesting concept. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a movie about a guy falling in love with Siri before, unless you count Raj from Big Bang Theory. But it’s also really really weird, and not just because of Joaquin Phoenix’s little mustache. I’m not sure I want to see how far a guy will take his love for a computer. It’s also likely to be depressing, as there’s no way I can see his love affair working out unless they want to get a lot more science fictioney than ‘talking computer voice.’ Tough call.

AUGUST: OSAGE COUNTY



I could have sworn I saw a trailer for this where it actually looked funny, but in this one all I see are a bunch of people who would rather not see each other thrown together for a family emergency and picking on each other to fill the time. I saw another movie like that once, Death at a Funeral (British version) and I can’t help thinking I’d end up comparing this film unfavorably to that one, seeing as how this one’s more drama than comedy.

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DVDs for January 7, 2014

runner runner

Runner Runner

I like both Ben Affleck and Justin Timberlake (as an actor) but this movie just doesn’t do anything for me. It’s hard to sympathize with a character who is dumb enough to risk his college tuition in an online poker game. And dumb enough to go abroad to confront the website owner. Dumb enough to fall in with this guy, and dumb enough to be surprised when the guy turns out to be evil. There are plenty of other movies who do the poker shark and/or seduced by bad guy thing with less dumbness. Watch those instead.

Buy Runner Runner on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

closed circuit

Closed Circuit

If you like MI-5/Spooks and also enjoy legal thrillers such as those of the Law & Order or John Grisham persuasion, you’ll like this movie. Eric Bana and Rebecca Hall play lawyers who are tasked with defending the people accused of a terrorist attack. During their investigation they uncover ties between the perpetrators and MI-5, which makes them a target. A thrilling thriller starring the world’s most adorable human being and a few good explosions. What more could you want?

Buy Closed Circuit on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

thanks for sharing

Thanks for Sharing

If you’re looking for a romantic comedy with a unique gimmick or a less depressing version of Michael Fassbender’s Shame, you should watch Thanks for Sharing. It’s an ensemble comedy about a handful of couples who know each other through their sex addiction support group. It covers a lot of bases – established relationships, new relationships, and friendships, and though the characters are sex addicts, their struggles with their addictions don’t get so graphic that you might feel like it should be sold in a paper bag. Check it out.

Buy Thanks for Sharing on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

big ass spider

Big Ass Spider

If you liked Sharknado or any movies from the new ‘intentionally bad disaster movie’ genre, Big Ass Spider is for you. As the title suggests, a Big Ass Spider is on a rampage through Los Angeles and it’s up to a smart-ass exterminator and his plucky ethnic support character (a hospital security guard) to stop it. Greg Grunberg (previously a comedic support character on Alias) unleashes his inner ham on the tongue-in-cheek script, resulting in surprisingly hilarious experience. Check it out.

Buy Big Ass Spider on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

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Top 5 and Bottom 5 Movies of 2013

new-year

2013 is over and it’s time to rank the movies I saw according to their bestiness and worstiness. As I paged through my review notebook listing films according to their secret star rating, I noticed three things. One: franchise films have done well with me this year. Two: I only saw 45 movies. And three: only one of them was bad enough to rate one star. My policy this year was not to waste money on bad movies, but it made me realize that bad movies have their uses. They force you to think about WHY the movie bad, and they make for hilarious reviews. I therefore resolve that 2014 shall be the year of using my Scene points to see crappy movies.

And now, the list. If you don’t agree with it, feel free to argue with me in the comments. That’s what they’re for. Just keep it clean, ok?

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The Secret Life of Walter Mitty Review

poster from the Twentieth Century Fox Film The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

I didn’t think I’d be able to see a movie this week because of the holidays, but I’d forgotten how the combination of early rising and overeating always makes my family unfit for anything but comas and movie watching by Christmas evening. The Secret Life of Walter Mitty was acceptable to all, even though it was a) a remake and b) possibly too focused on visuals and c) likely to be a dream in the end.

A photographic negatives manager at Life magazine travels the world looking for his photographer friend after he discovers the final issue cover image is missing.

Now that I’ve seen it I’m happy to say that Walter Mitty did everything right. It was not (spoiler alert) all dream in the end. The visuals complimented the story instead of trying to BE the story. And the remade version is different enough from both the original short story and the first movie to be considered a completely new entity. I recommend it!

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Trailer Reviews for December 20, 2013

First of all: apologies! I had a snow day from work yesterday and completely forgot about the trailer reviews. Second of all: Huzzah! Saving Mr. Banks gets a wide release this week so I can finally see it!

ANCHORMAN 2: THE LEGEND CONTINUES



Like Napoleon Dynamite, Anchorman is one of those movies that people either find hilarious or painful. I fall into the latter category. I don’t laugh when people make asses of themselves in a movie. I cringe. Anchorman was so awful and unfunny to me that I didn’t even make it 20 minutes into into the movie before I had to turn it off. And I NEVER turn movies off Well, sometimes I do. But they have to be REALLY bad. Even the trailer for this one made me want to crawl under a rock, so James Marsden or no James Marsden, I’m skipping this one for sure.

AMERICAN HUSTLE



This movie has a lot of actors I like in it. Christian Bale, Jennifer Lawrence, Jeremy Renner, Amy Adams, Bradley Cooper (well, okay, I only like him sometimes). Logic states that I should be chomping at the bit to see it, but I’m not. For one thing, this trailer gives me very little idea of the plot. It’s got something to do with a con job. And for another thing – it’s about conning people, and I don’t like stories where criminals are the main characters and we’re supposed to be hoping for them to screw somebody over. I will only consider it if the person getting screwed is worse than they are (i.e. they deserve it). But the trailer didn’t tell me that was the case, so I’m not going.

WALKING WITH DINOSAURS



This trailer makes the movie seem like a Disney Nature documentary with dinosaurs, but don’t be fooled. Watch any of the TV spots like this one and you get the truth: it might be in 3D, it might have nice computer animation, but it’s still loaded with the same awful nasal voices, unfunny cliches, and poop jokes that they slap on all second rate kids’ movies. Little kids will be impressed with the looks, but if you want a good STORY about dinosaurs, rent them The Land Before Time (the first one).

INSIDE LLEWYN DAVIS



Strike One: Cohen Brothers
Strike Two: Struggling musician
Strike Three: Laconic pace which is sure to bore me
But then again: Helloooo, Garrett Hedlund. Hai kitteh! I like Carey Mulligan. And that’s not a bad song.
I might rent it later on.

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5 Underplayed Christmas Movies

xmas tree

This week, I didn’t feel like paying money to see Christian Bale as Jennifer Lawrence in Scary Hillbillies Took My Family Part 2. It occurred to me that this feeling of not wanting is similar to the feeling of not wanting that comes over me every time someone suggests we watch It’s a Wonderful Life (I’m looking at you, all the TV stations) or Love Actually (Mom) again around Christmas time. If you are also sick of whatever movies made their way into your tradition, allow me to suggest some alternatives:

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DVDs for December 3, 2013

wolverine

THE WOLVERINE

Otherwise known (by me) as Wolverine Goes to Japan to distinguish it from the other standalone Wolverine movie from 2009, which wasn’t that great. Wolverine Goes to Japan, however, is pretty awesome, largely because it keeps things simple. Wolverine turns to a Japanese mutant for help after his healing powers are stolen as part of a ploy to take over a major Japanese corporation. It only loses points in my book by referencing X-Men: The Last Stand, which should be forgotten once and for all. Read my full review for more.

Buy The Wolverine on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

city of bones

Mortal Instruments: City of Bones

I really enjoyed the Mortal Instruments book series, and for a book adaptation, the movie is surprisingly okay. The story centers around a teenage girl who discovers that she belongs to an ancient race of demon hunters after her mom is kidnapped by bad guys. There’s lots of action, a well rounded main character, and some cool mythology. However the plot was a bit confusing, the boyfriend character was kind of odd looking, and my favorite character Alec was pushed into the background. Read my review for a full rundown or just watch it yourself. Book reading is optional but recommended.

Buy City of Bones on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

smurfs 2

Smurfs 2

Ugh, I used to watch The Smurfs as a kid even though I didn’t really like them. As an adult, I don’t just find them annoying and stupid but also sexist, pervy, and unfunny. In this second film, Smurfette (the ONLY female smurf in a community of several generations) is kidnapped by the wizard Gargamel so she can use a magic smurf-making spell (sex?) to turn his evil anti-Smurfs into real Smurfs for… some reason related to magic. But since Smurfette FOR SOME REASON has always felt “different” from other Smurfs she might not want to go home. Ick. Watch The Muppets instead.

Buy Smurfs 2 on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

drinking buddies

Drinking Buddies

This movie looks like a light, fun comedy about two best friends (Olivia Wilde and Jake Johnson) who work at a brewery together and COULD have a thing were it not for the fact that they’re both in long term relationships (with Ron Livingston and Anna Kendrick respectively). However it’s more of a funny-awkward dramedy with inappropriate flirting and breakups than a flat out comedy and things don’t work out as perfectly as they would in a true rom com, so if you’re planning on renting it, just keep that in mind. But for quirky indie true-to-life dramedy people? Perfect.

Buy Drinking Buddies on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

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Frozen Review

poster from the Walt Disney Pictures film Frozen

Disney has been taking a lot of flak lately for how old fashioned their Princess line is. The princesses are too white. Too pink. Too rich. Too blonde. Too skinny. Too hung up on finding a man, etc. None of it, however, seems to have made a dent in their bottom line, so we can expect them to continue making princess movies (albeit with the odd concession to reality) until the end of time. The latest is Frozen.

A lonely Norse princess teams up with a hermit, a reindeer, and a snowman to talk her superpowered sister into unfreezing their kingdom.

As with the last two princess movies, Brave and The Princess and the Frog, Disney has attempted to be more modern with Frozen, but at the same time they’ve tried to hearken back to the old days by making it a musical. The result is cute and funny, but I just didn’t feel like it worked as a story.

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