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How Do You Know Review

poster from the Columbia Pictures film How Do You Know

My notes from a month or so ago listed Sam Worthington’s new movie The Debt as premiering on New Year’s Eve, but apparently they changed their minds, because there are no new films coming to Empire Theaters at all for December 31st. If I was a bad person, I’d have taken another week off today, but I’m not, so I didn’t (you’re welcome). I went to see a decent looking romantic comedy that came out a few weeks ago called How Do You Know My brother and his girlfriend hadn’t heard of it, so I’ll assume you haven’t either and give you the lowdown:

A female softball player gets cut from her team and hits it off with an honest businessman who’s just been indicted, leading her to wonder if what she’s got with her pro-ball playing boyfriend is the real thing.

It’s a pretty generic rom com setup, which is probably why it disappeared underneath the onslaught of big budget films and popular sequels like Tron Legacy and Little Fockers that have been dominating the theaters this month, but if you’re going to the movies this weekend, you could really do a whole lot worse than How Do You Know, and it’s not just because Gulliver’s Travels and Yogi Bear are still playing.

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DVDs for November 16, 2010

Avatar Collector’s Edition

Though it was released as a bare-bones DVD last April, this is the edition that Avatar fans (and also me) have been waiting for. It’s got the theatrical and re-released versions with the sixteen extra minutes (including the character-establishing beginning part). It’s also got 45 minutes of deleted scenes, plus documentaries and production footage. The only thing it doesn’t have is 3D, but that’s ok because my TV can’t show it anyway. Buy the Blu-Ray, because it’s got more on it. If you’re not familiar with Avatar, it’s a space movie by James Cameron about blue aliens and it stars Sam Worthington and Zoe Saldana. You can read more about it in my review here.

Buy Avatar on Blu-Ray or on DVD

.


The Last Airbender

Adapted from a Japanese animated series also ironically called Avatar, The Last Airbender is about how a young boy who can control all the elements gets embroiled in a war. It’s pretty much universally hated, so I can’t really recommend it. Fans of the show complain about how much it changes from the TV series, and people coming to it fresh complain about how boring it is that everything is in slo-mo ballet-o-vision when it’s supposed to be a fantasy action movie. If you’re a fanboy or fangirl, however, you might be interested to know that Jackson Rathbone (Jasper from Twilight) and Dev Patel (Jamal from Slumdog Millionaire) are in it and that it was directed by M. Night Shyamalan.

Buy The Last Airbender on DVD or on Blu-Ray.


Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore

This is a sequel to the popular 2001 film Cats & Dogs, which I thought was hilarious, even if it was pretty goony and the special effects sometimes looked fake. The sequel solves the effects problem and is still as goony as ever, but it managed to attract people like James Marsden, Bette Midler, and Roger Moore to do voices, so it’s got that going for it. Plot wise, it’s like X2: X-Men United because the cats and dogs who have traditionally been at odds (the cats are evil, of course) have to team up. Rent it for the kids, but don’t expect too much. The Blu-Ray version even comes in 3D.

Buy Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore on DVD or on Blu-Ray.


The Kids Are Alright

Ah ha! And here you were thinking there weren’t going to be any really original and intelligent movies this week! But you were wrong, because The Kids Are Alright is coming to DVD. No it has nothing to do with The Who. If you haven’t heard about it, it’s a very funny and engaging dramedy about a pair of kids with two moms who go looking for their sperm donor dad and the merry havoc his presence wreaks on their carefully ordered lives. It’s not just entertaining but relevant, considering there’s a woman in BC trying to force sperm clinics to hand over their records to kids born of artificial insemination. It stars Julianne Moore, Annette Benning, and Mark Ruffalo.

Buy The Kids Are Alright on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

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DVD Releases for November 2, 2010

Toy Story 3

In Pixar’s final entry in the Toy Story series, Woody, Buzz and the other toys are given away to a daycare by accident and must return home before their owner Andy leaves for college. It’s actually quite a poignant story, with themes of growing up and moving on, and it’s pretty funny, especially when Buzz goes into Spanish mode. It doesn’t quite measure up to Pixar’s other films, but it’s still amazing compared to the standard in children’s entertainment. Rent it for your kids, and then watch it yourself. You can read my full review here.

Buy Toy Story 3 on DVD or on Blu-Ray.


The Pacific

This isn’t a movie, it’s a ten-part miniseries, but I’ve been looking forward to it coming out on DVD for a while now so I’m featuring it. It’s an HBO production about American soldiers in the Pacific Theater of World War II. That’s where they fought the Japanese and has epic sea battles and got sent to horrible POW camps where they were starved and made to build railroads. Instant drama. These are the same people that did Band of Brothers, so if you liked that one, or if you like war movies in general, check it out. I am.

Buy The Pacific on DVD or on Blu-Ray.


Centurion

Have you, in your nerdiest dreams, ever pitted Gerard Butler and the bare-chested legion from 300 against Mel Gibson and his bare-ass warriors from Braveheart? (Don’t lie. You totally have.) Well, your dreams are coming true. Centurion is a slashy slashy kill-fest about a bunch of Roman soldiers whose fellows have been slaughtered trying to escape from Britain (did you know the Romans were in Britian? Well now you do) before the Celts put all their heads on pikes. It stars Michael Fassbender from Inglorious Basterds. Could be cool if you like that sort of thing.

Buy Centurion on DVD or on Blu-Ray.


Love and Distrust

This is one of those straight-to-DVD movies that’s all interpersonal drama and no plot, but I figure it’s worth mentioning because it’s got Robert Downy Jr., Sam Worthington, Amy Adams, James Franco, and Robert Pattinson in it. So either they were all threatened at gunpoint or there’s something about this movie that’s actually interesting. The trailer gives no hint of what it might be, so maybe you should hold off and let me be your guinea pig. (I haven’t seen it yet, since it only came out today) It might be one of those things where all the actors are just looking to be “meaningful” and scream at each other for a while.

Buy Love and Distrust on DVD.

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Thunderstruck Review

poster from the movie thunderstruck

Do you know AC/DC is Australian? I didn’t, at least until I watched Thunderstruck. No, it’s not a documentary or a concert video or a music video of the famous song. It’s an Australian road trip comedy. Since I’m away this weekend at Hal-Con, I thought I’d review Thunderstruck and continue the “review Australian movies on DVD when I go away” trend that I started in August with Newcastle. If you haven’t heard of Thunderstruck (and very few people have) it goes like this:

Four washed up AC/DC fans reunite to steal their dead friend’s ashes and bury them next to former AC/DC singer Bon Scott.

Despite the emphasis on AC/DC, you don’t have to be a fan of the band, or even know of the band, to enjoy this movie. The boys know enough about AC/DC to cover for your lack of knowledge and at heart it’s a road trip movie about friends and unfulfilled dreams, which pretty much everyone can relate to. Plus, it’s just plain fun to watch.

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Trailer Reviews for August 27, 2010

ANIMAL KINGDOM



Another trailer for one of those award winning movies that never quite gets around to telling you what the plot is… which leads me to suspect that the plot is either nonexistent or too convoluted to sum up in two minutes. Since this movie is Australian, I’m guessing the latter. Normally I wouldn’t be interested in a convoluted movie about (yet another) crime family (what is it with crime families? They’re not THAT interesting), but since it’s Australian, the acting will probably be really good, so it might be worth a look. I mean, Guy Pearce is in it… with a ridiculous Magnum P.I. mustache, but still. It speaks well for the film (Guy Pearce, not the mustache).

TAKERS



Paul Walker is a clone, Hayden Christenson always tries too hard, Zoe Saldana has turned into an attention-sucking vortex since she was in Avatar, and I hate Mat Dillon. Then add in a cast of characters who are jerks and criminals and you’ve got exactly the type of movie I don’t want to see. Now, obviously I’m prejudiced, so there are plenty of people who won’t feel the same way. If you love heist movies and you don’t feel like nine million heist movies being made in about five years is too much, you’ll probably like this movie. Just don’t ask me to go see it with you.

THE LAST EXORCISM



The Last Exorcism looks like it’s trying to capitalize on the success of two different films The Exorcist (obviously) and Paranormal Activity (by trying to look like a sketchily shot documentary). As with most movies that don’t bring anything new to the table, it looks pretty standard. There’s nothing in here that hasn’t been done before, but it’s hard to tell from the trailer if they manage to create actual tension (which is the most important part of a horror movie). Those running around in the dark bits make me think maybe they did, so if you like scary movies, maybe give this one a try. I think I might, given it’s lack of competition this week.

AVATAR RE-RELEASE



If there’s one thing you can say about James Cameron, it’s that he loves money, and he knows how to make it. As if his 3D extravaganza of epic blueness didn’t make enough the first time around ($2.7 billion), he’s sticking in a couple extra minutes of footage and releasing it again. If you’ve seen it already I wouldn’t bother. If the sixteen extra minutes were important they would’ve been in it the first time around (when it was ONLY two and a half hours long) and they’re not new real Sam Worthington parts, only more blue parts. But if you haven’t seen it, just go already so everyone in the world will have seen it and James Cameron can stop insisting that his movie needs to stay around in theaters taking up space that could be given to newer 3D movies. All’s I can say is that it better give way when The Legend of the Guardians comes around or I’ll be mad. You can read the full review of the original Avatar here.

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A Parliament of Flames

As the owner of a movie related website, I frequently have cause to look up information on IMDB. Whenever I do so, I always make a point to scroll down to the bottom to look at the message boards, just for a laugh. I’ve found some pretty ridiculous thread titles, but the funniest part is always how even the most reasoned debates eventually degenerate into two people hurling insults at one another. This thread was so funny I had to read it out loud to my brother in its entirety. It was on the Sam Worthington boards, but it doesn’t matter which actor/movie you look up, there’s always a thread like this. Here are a few choice snippets:

rajak1: What you see as subtlety in your little fangirl world is a lack of acting talent in the real world.

Athena21: People in the biz obviously see him as talented. Someone like you (someone with the maturity of a two-year-old) will never understand why they do – but that’s ok because people are allowed their own opinion and retarded people like you are always given extra leeway anyway.

rajak1: I think you are the only one here on this board not able for a serious discussion, cause your behaviour on this (and other boards) is like a hormone-driven drama queen.

Athena21: You wouldn’t know a serious discussion if it bit you on the arse. For one thing, you don’t debate. I often do… I can’t decide whether to think of you as a kid that has lost their favorite toy or a hormonal thirteen year old. Either way you are someone who is a complete joke.

rajak1: If you cannot stand the critism here on this board, maybe you are too much a pantywaist…

Athena21: …you are a troll, and trolls aren’t welcome.

Two people with no idea how to debate debating over their (in)ability to debate… did your brain just explode? I think mine did.

As long as internet message boards offer users the ability to hide behind screen names and there’s zero possibility of “debaters” ever having to meet in person, this sort of thing will continue to happen. People have to let off steam somehow. It makes me wonder, though: what if the internet style of debating bled over into politics?

Currently, parliamentary debates in Canada are boring. Their discussions on renewable energy go something like this:

ALBERTA MP: Blah blah oil blah blah prosperity blah blah taxpayers blah blah deficit blah.

ENVIRONMENT MINISTER: Blah blah climate change blah blah future blah blah biomass blah blah responsibility blah.

If, however, we let the politicians wear little paper bags over their heads…

I move that anyone who disagrees with me has to wear a PLASTIC bag

…. and pick out nicknames for themselves, then their debates would sound more like this:

Iluvtrees: We need to stop burning coal and oil or the environment will be ruined in only, like, twenty years.

Icecapzsukmaiballz: Twenty years, pff! Who cares?

Iluvtrees: U should! I care!

Icecapzsukmaiballz: Yeah, only cause u r like, married to a tree, you dirty hippie.

Iluvtrees: U should talk, what do u do with all that oil, ne way greaseball? Bathe in it?

Icecapzsukmaiballz: Shut up, u r so immature. We r supposed to be having a debate and u r just insulting me. U r so stupid, ur brain cellz must be dead from all that patchouli u r sniffing.

Iluvtrees: I m not debating??! U r the one who callz ppl dirty hippiez when they have legitimate concerns. Maybe if u wernt getting it up the bum frum the oil companies we could have a real discussion!

Icecapzsukmaiballz: I m not gay!!!!! Ask ur mom, I gave it to her last nite and she loved it.

Iluvtrees: F*** you, a**hole.

…and at this point the censor would have to step in, since these things are usually televised, but wasn’t that more entertaining? It’s like C-SPAN crossed with Jerry Springer. Apparently Australian parliamentary debates go something along these lines. Bill Bryson, in his book In a Sunburned Country, says it’s well worth the trip to Canberra to hear them go at each other. I’m totally putting that on my list.

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Casting Bond 23

bond 23 poster

With MGM up for sale and Bond 23 on indefinite hiatus, current James Bond actor Daniel Craig has jumped ship in favor of the English adaptation of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, leaving the role of James Bond potentially open for casting once things at MGM have been settled.

Before Craig was cast for Casino Royale, Australian actors Hugh Jackman and Sam Worthington were also being considered for the role, leading me to believe MGM was interested in reaching new audiences (i.e. Australian ones) with their choice of Bond. They didn’t go for it, obviously, since they chose Daniel Craig, but perhaps when MGM has a new head they’ll actually try to reach out. They won’t choose Jackman or Worthington, of course. The new head of MGM will want to put his or her “stamp” on things, so they’ll choose someone else entirely. Someone British (some things never change).

I have some casting suggestions for the James Bond role based on which new audiences MGM wants to attract to the theaters, hopefully solving the studio’s money problems.

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DVD Releases for July 27, 2010

As you may or may not know, Tuesday is the day that new DVDs come out. I don’t know why, I just know that that’s how it works. And it’s not even like SOMETIMES they come out on Monday or Wednesday, like in the theaters movies usually come out on Friday except for the really eager ones that come out on Wednesday or Thursday. It’s always Tuesday for DVDs. So I thought I’d give you a run down of what’s coming out this week so you can rent it if it looks interesting. Just the new ones, though. None of that special edition/super old stuff just being released nonsense. I don’t have all day, and neither do you!


Clash of the Titans

Clash of the Titans is a remake of an 80s movie starring Sam Worthington as a skirted Greek warrior battling monsters. You can my full review here but suffice it to say though it was lacking in characterization and could have used a more complicated plot, there sure were was a lot of swordfights and yelling. Rent this one if you love swordfights and yelling.

Get Blu-RayGet DVD


Repo Men

I was really looking forward to this one in the theaters, but for reasons I can’t seem to remember right now I never got to see it. It stars Jude Law and Forest Whitaker as two guys who repossess organs for a rent-to-own organ company. Such a cool idea. I’ll totally be renting this one, and if you’re at all a fan of sci-fi or horror you should too.

Get DVDGet Blu-Ray


Batman: Under the Red Hood

I confess I hadn’t even heard of this one until I looked up the release list, because I haven’t watched a Batman cartoon since I was 12. Batman: Under the Red Hood looks pretty standard: there’s a villain called the Red Hood. Batman kicks his ass. But the trailer made me nostalgic so maybe I’ll actually watch this one. Plus it attracted a bunch of name voice actors (Jensen Ackles from Supernatural, Neil Patrick Harris from How I Met Your Mother, Jason Isaacs from the Harry Potter movies, etc) so it must be at least decent.

Get DVDGet Blu-Ray


Ip Man

Ip Man is a biographical account of the martial arts grand master named Ip Man (Donnie Yen) who taught Bruce Lee. This in itself will be interesting to both martial arts fans and Bruce Lee devotees, but the really interesting part for me is that he lived in a really turbulent time. Looks well made and interesting, I’d totally watch it. There’s subtitles though, just in case you hate reading.

Get DVDGet Blu-Ray


Stargate Universe: Season 1.5

I don’t understand how this show is still on. Not only does it have the exact same premise as half of sci-fi TV shows (a group of people is stranded somewhere, they try to get home) and is a direct ripoff of Stargate Atlantic but without the interest factor of being located in Atlantis. But not only has Stargate Universe made it to a second season, it got nominated for prime time Emmys! Rent it if you’re a massive Robert Carlysle fan, but otherwise I wouldn’t bother.

Get DVDGet Blu-Ray

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Clash of the Titans Review

While I am inclined to like Sam Worthington (you’ll remember that he’s on the list), I am not inclined to like Greek mythology or indeed any story that features a lot of swords and dust and men wearing skirts, so I hesitated over Clash of the Titans. But the nature of the list meant I had to go, so I did. Twice. Once in 3-D and once in regular D. I wouldn’t have PAID for it twice, but the second time my Dad treated me.

If you haven’t already seen Clash of the Titans or the atrocious 1980s film of the same name that it’s based on, the basic story is this:

When gods Zeus (Liam Neeson) and Hades (Ralph Fiennes) send a huge monster to punish mankind for its ingratitude, Perseus (Sam Worthington), a mortal son of Zeus who wants nothing to do with the gods, turns out to be the only one who can stop it.

You see, the Gods need mankind’s prayers. Mankind is not happy, so they’re not offering many. In a stroke of pure genius, Zeus (who sparkles like the Cylons from the old Battlestar Galactica) and Hades (who looks like Voldemort) decide that the best way to reinvigorate their gratitude is to send the Kraken to wipe out their city. (I don’t know about you, but nothing makes me more grateful than having huge fangy monsters sent to kill me).

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Avatar Review: the blue one, not the anime one

In my head, I have a list of film professionals (writers, directors, actors, composers, etc) whose involvement in a project triggers my automatic ticket purchase reflex. It won’t surprise you to learn that Avatar warranted a reflex purchase, but you might raise an eyebrow if I told you it was Sam Worthington’s name, not James Cameron’s, that triggered it. (If you’ve ever seen True Lies you know why James Cameron is not on the list).


I wanted to love Avatar. I went into the theater hoping to come out feeling the way I felt when I saw Star Wars for the first time – awestruck and excited. When it was over, I was forced to admit to myself that I was neither, though I couldn’t shake the feeling that if I maybe went to see it again, it would be better, just because I wanted it to so bad. So I did, but it wasn’t.

I can blame some of my disappointment on the hype. I tried to stay away from it. It was pretty easy in Cape Breton (the theater wasn’t even full on opening night) but impossible on the internet, which was teeming with pictures and videos and articles on James Cameron and his blue people. With so much anticipation built up, if Avatar was anything other than the most amazing and moving film ever made it was going to be a disappointment.

For those of you who are cave dwellers and STILL haven’t heard of it even though it’s made over a billion dollars, here are the cliff’s notes:

Avatar, a movie James Cameron has been working on for something like 15 years, is a full 3D film that blends live action with motion-captured CGI to create lush jungle planet called Pandora and the a race of blue natives that inhabit it.

The story follows Jake Sully, a wheelchair bound ex-marine who is recruited by a ruthless mining company to take over his dead twin’s avatar and finds himself caring more about the clan of natives he’s infiltrating than the interests of the company he works for.

Sounds amazing, right? And it is, sort of. Is it an amazing accomplishment? Yes. Should James Cameron quit now to rest on his laurels/money? No.

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