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Trailer Reviews for February 14, 2014

ROBOCOP



Oh joy. Another unnecessary 80s remake. Seriously, this has got to stop. Studios are obsessed with ‘established properties’ (i.e. not taking any risks) and I feel like if I support it by handing over money for a ticket, it will result in the total death of new big-budget movie ideas. If you think I’m overreacting, scroll down. The other two movies coming out this week are based on books. And so are 4 of the 7 other movies playing this weekend. Of the remaining 3, one is based on a toy franchise and the other is based on a meme, leaving a total of one original film out of 10. And I can’t even watch that movie, because it’s stupid.

WINTER’S TALE



I guess Robocop was a token nod to the existence of single people, because the other two movies coming out this week are (unsurprisingly) romances. This looks like the better of the two. And no, not because it has Colin Farrell (okay, not ONLY because it has Colin Farrell). I’m not sure how much magic comes into play here, because when Russell Crowe orders the death of his rival he makes sure to mention that he wants the guy to stay dead (like people routinely spring back to life in this movie’s world) but then he acts really surprised to find out the guy’s still alive. Also this movie gets the award for most unintentionally hilarious line: “I’ve had no memory ever since I can remember.” What?

ENDLESS LOVE



My friend assures me that this movie (and the book it’s based on) are romantic, but you’ll have to forgive me if my heart doesn’t melt at the thought of a guy who is so obsessed with his girlfriend that he stalks her and burns her house down. That’s the kind of Twilight-styke love we’d all be better off without. How uplifting and Valentines-y. I wouldn’t have seen it anyway, but if you’re also opposed to remakes you should know that this isn’t just a novel adaptation but a remake of a novel adaptation from 1981 (the freaking 80s again… are we trying to reclaim our glory days or something?)

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DVDs for February 11, 2014

enders game

Ender’s Game

Whether or not you agree with the things that Orson Scott Card has been saying online, you should see this movie, because you buying or not buying it won’t affect his bottom line. Ender’s Game is probably the best adaptation we can expect from the classic novel about six-year-olds who are training to wipe out an alien space fleet. It’s a little hectic and a little de-toothed, but it’s exciting, it poses some interesting questions, and the effects are cool. Read my full review for more.

Buy Ender’s Game on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

sherlock season3

Sherlock: Season 3

ERMEGERD! SERSERN THRUH IS ERRT! Says everyone who watches Sherlock but fell into a coma during the long hiatus between seasons. WTF IS THE BIG DEAL? Says everyone who has not watched the show. Group One: the link to buy the DVD is below. Group Two: you need to watch this show. Seriously. Each season is three two hour movies starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman as modern day Holmes and Watson. It blows your usual CSI and Law and Order type shows out of the water.

Buy Sherlock: Season 3 on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

the counselor

The Counselor

If you would like to be depressed, confused, and generally divested of your faith in humanity by your next film, add The Counselor to your Netflix list. It’s a teamup between Ridley Scott and Cormac McCarthy and features a greedy lawyer who ruins his life by getting involved with drug trafficking. All the wholesome violence of No Country for Old Men combined with the bleakness of The Road. Who could resist? It’s the feel-good movie of the year for people who don’t like there to be anyone left alive at the end of the film.

Buy The Counselor on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

austenland

Austenland

Either I missed this in theaters or they changed their minds and put it out straight to DVD, because I was looking for it. I read the book. It was cute and half decently funny – better than the other Pride and Prejudice-inspired chick lit novels I’ve read (there are a lot). The main character decides to go on a Regency retreat to kick her Mr. Darcy addiction once and for all, only to fall in love with the actor playing Mr. Darcy (d’oh). It’s not going to rock anyone’s world, but it’d make a great selection for your next Girls’ Night In.

Buy Austenland on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

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DVDs for Feb 4, 2014

gravity

Gravity

The #2 best movie of 2013 (according to me) is now available to own! If you’ve seen it, you’re probably already pre-ordered your copy. If you haven’t see it – buy one now. It’s the thrillingest thriller I’ve seen in… possibly ever. Sandra Bullock plays an astronaut with a tragic past who struggles to stay alive in space after her shuttle is destroyed by debris. There are some science problems if you think about it too hard, but that doesn’t matter, because the rest of it is so awesome. Read my full review for more.

Buy Gravity on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

thor 2

Thor: The Dark World

Coincidentally, the #4 best movie of 2013 (according to me) is also available to own today. Thor himself may not be my favorite superhero (or even my favorite Avenger) but his movies are full of fun, action, witty jokes, and science. Fun science, not real science. In this one, Thor teams up with his (girl)fan-favorite brother Loki and portal-hop-battles an evil elf who wants to take over the universe with dark matter. Awesome! You can read my review for more or just go buy it already.

Buy Thor: The Dark World on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

nebraska

Nebraska

The quote on the DVD box, from the LA Times reviewer, says: “one of those movies I’ll watch for the rest of my life.” “Because it seems like it goes on forever,” my brain finished for him. This is one of those movies you either love or hate. If you’re into indie art house American slice-of-life drama, then you’ll think it’s the bees knees. If, however, you don’t, the prospect of a crotchety geezer trekking across a dreary black and white landscape to collect a scam lottery prize, occasionally stopping to argue with other local caricatures, will probably seem boring and pretentious.

Buy Nebraska on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

twice born

Twice Born

In Twice Born, Penelope Cruz plays a single mother who takes her teenaged son to Sarajevo so she can tell him all about his dad (Emile Hirsch), who died in the Bosnian war. Normally I’m all for depressing stories about Bosnia. I liked The Whistleblower, Welcome to Saeajevo, and Savior. But I think they would have done better to focus the depressingness on the conflict and the people caught up in it rather than trying to shoehorn in the same adultery/betrayal/marriage on the rocks drama that we’ve seen a million times. I recommend one of the other three movies I mentioned instead.

Buy Twice Born on DVD.

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Trailer Reviews for January 24, 2014

I, FRANKENSTEIN



Updated fairy tales are all the rage these days, but not all of them adhere to the adaptation adage: ‘stay true to the intent of the original.’ After all, the intent of original stories like Beauty and The Beast and Frankenstein is that the main characters are ugly. When you ‘update’ their ugliness to a few scars (I, Frankenstein) or an eyebrow tattoo that says ‘suck’ (Beastly) you miss the point and your movie doesn’t work. This is what happened to Beastly and what I predict will also happen to I, Frankenstein, no matter how big they go with the special effects. Actually, it will probably be worse for I, Frankenstein. I mean… superpowers? Saving the human race? What?? And Frankenstein was the doctor’s name, not the monster’s.

DEVIL’S KNOT



Ooh, I remember this. There was a really good documentary about it called Paradise Lost. The whole (true) story is such a big mess (did the teens do it, is the town blaming them just because they wear black, why is that other guy so sketchy in interviews) that the title is an apt one. I just hope they’re able to ‘unravel the knot’ so to speak by the end of this fictional version, otherwise why bother to fictionalize it at all?

WHITEWASH



A drunken snowplow driver. Now there’s a scary thought. As our province continually reminds us in TV commercials, a snowplow ‘ain’t no featherduster’ (seriously – they really say that). But in this movie’s case, the snowplow really is a featherduster! Just look at that silly little thing! Also this trailer is confusing. So he ran a guy over… on purpose? By accident? Before or after the dude was crashing at his house cooking up a tray of eyeballs and our pal snowplow driver was hiding in a quinzhee? And then there’s a…. what’s who doing with that snowmobile? WTF is going on??

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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.

Read More

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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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DVDs for December 17, 2013

prisoners

Prisoners

It’s almost Christmas and you’re frantically looking for good movies to buy for people on your list. Is this a good movie? Yes. Should you give it as a Christmas gift? NO. Nothing says ‘happy holidays’ like a big old bucket of dark and disturbing. Well acted dark and disturbing, but there’s still a lot more kidnapping and torture of children than a lot of people like to watch on a family holiday. On the plus side, it’s got a really good investigation plot, so do put it on your list to watch for a normal day or read my full review for more.

Buy Prisoners on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

the family

The Family

The Family contains nearly as much violence as Prisoners but because it’s tongue-in-cheek, it’s less not okay to buy and watch on Christmas. Unfortunately, it’s also a lousy movie. Robert DeNiro plays the head of a mafia family in witness protection. Being a family of idiots who think they’re awesome, they make no effort to hide the fact that they are awful and thus end up getting tracked down by the mob they betrayed, putting the lives of their protectors in danger. Read more about it or just trust me and avoid it.

Buy The Family on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

elysium

Elysium

Do you have a sci-fi lover on your gift list who either is a fan of or doesn’t actively hate Matt Damon? Then this is the gift idea you were looking for. Elysium is a District 9 style movie from the writer/director of District 9 about a poor guy who gets pissed off at the fact that the Earth is a garbage heap and the rich get to live in style on a HALO ring, so he drills an exoskeleton into his spine and goes off to attack them. It’s got quite a few plot holes but if you’re into Matt Damon, destruction, or expensive special effects, you and/or your recipient may not even notice.

Buy Elysium on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

lone ranger

The Lone Ranger

And speaking of things that are expensively filmed and exciting but have problems if you think about them too much, there’s also The Lone Ranger. This movie has several things going for it: it’s Pirates of the Caribbean style action/comedy tone, Armie Hammer being hot, Johnny Depp being silly, snappy dialogue, and bombastic destruction of every cliched Wild West setpiece imaginable. On the other hand, there’s also the fact that Johnny Depp being silly is a dicey prospect when no one can figure out if it’s disrespectful to Native Americans or not. Buy accordingly.

Buy The Lone Ranger on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

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