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Trailer Reviews for February 21, 2014

POMPEII



I’ve been looking out for this movie ever since my brother told me about how he filled in for one of their sound guys. Of course I’ll go see it, but I’m not sure I would have been so eager if it weren’t for the brother factor. It’s like Gladiator crossed with Dante’s Peak – both are movies I like, but I probably wouldn’t put them together. I worry this movie is just an excuse to spend a billion dollars on 3D volcano eruptions.

THE WIND RISES



I’m not a fan of Japanese animation, with its punches that last a year and the flashing backgrounds that threaten to give me seizures. One of my cousins insisted I would like Miyazaki’s films anyway, but I didn’t believe him. Eventually I got around to watching Howl’s Moving Castle and had to admit that my cousin was right. I’ll see this one too, even though the trailer spends too much time praising the director to convey much of the plot. All I got out of it is ‘Harry Potter likes airplanes.’

3 DAYS TO KILL



When I saw the name of this film, I assumed it would star Jason Statham. Imagine my surprise when I saw Kevin Costner on the screen. Kevin Costner? When did he decide he was going to be an old-guy action hero like Liam Neeson? First Shadow Recruit, now this. This movie looks every bit as dumb as a Statham or Neeson flick, so I guess he’s doing it right. The goofy pesudo-medical ticking clock from Cranked combined with the teenage daughter drama of Taken. “Hang on, sweetie. Daddy just has to go punch the spare tire for a second.” No thanks.

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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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Labor Day Review

poster from the Paramount Pictures film Labor Day

This week, I chose Jason Reitman over Zac Efron. The trailer for Labor Day looked good, but I hadn’t read the Joyce Maynard novel it was based on, so I couldn’t tell whether it would have a (relatively) happy ending like Juno or a depressing ending like Up in the Air. I was really hoping for happy. I mean, who wants to depress themselves on purpose?

A thirteen year old boy recounts the story of how his mother fell in love with a fugitive during who invited himself into their home.

I have seen it now and am happy to report that while there are certainly depressing parts in Labor Day, I would not call it, on the whole, a depressing movie. In fact, it would make a pretty good date movie, especially if you’re an escaped murderer with a captive girlfriend you’re trying to Stockholm Syndrome into liking you. Because hey, if it worked once…

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DVDs for January 28, 2014

rush

Rush

Rush is the first of two movies where Daniel Bruhl knocked my socks off. He and Chris Hemsworth play Niki Lauda and James Hunt, a pair of real-life 1970s Formula One drivers competing for the championship in an era where safety comes a distant second to driving really fast in a tank full of flammable liquid. You can read my review for more. Once you’ve watched Rush (and you should) check out another of this week’s DVD’s: 1: a Formula One documentary on the drivers who changed the face of the sport by pushing for safety measures.

Buy Rush on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

fifth estate

The Fifth Estate

Coincidentally, here’s the second movie where Daniel Bruhl knocked my socks off! In this one he plays computer hacker Daniel Berg opposite Benedict Cumberbatch’s Julian Assange, founder of Wikileaks. The story follows their friendship and falling out as Wikileaks rises from obscurity to international fame and controversy. It’s based on Daniel Berg’s book, so it’s not Julian Assange’s favorite movie in the world, but it’s definitely worth checking out. You can read my review for more.

Buy Fifth Estate on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

last vegas

Last Vegas

Last Vegas is essentially a tamer, old-man version of The Hangover where three crochety retirees (Morgan Freeman, Kevin Kline, and Robert DeNiro) meet their suave pal (Michael Douglas) in Las Vegas for his bachelor party (he’s marrying a much younger woman). After they’re mistaken for mobsters, suddenly they can have anything they want. The question is: what do they want? I really liked it – I thought it was sweet and funny. If you prefer your comedy crude, stick with The Hangover.

Buy Last Vegas on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

meatballs 2

Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2

If you want something totally weird and different to watch with your kids, choose these movies. Flint Lockwood, the inventor from the previous movie, returns with his friends to his old town to find that his food-making machine is creating hilarious and menacing hybrid food-animals (hippo potatoes, shrimp chimps, mosquito toast, etc). Kids will love it because it’s wacky and colorful. You’ll like it because it’s a) actually funny and b) not the same cliched princess crap all over again. Check it out.

Buy Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2 on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

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Devil’s Due Review

poster from the 20th Century Fox film Devils Due

The movie I wanted to see this week was Devil’s Knot – the fictionalization of the West Memphis Three story. But the only new movie we got was I, Frankenstein. In keeping with my New Year’s Resolution to see more bad movies on Scene points, I presented myself for the Saturday matinee. Fate decided to step in and save me by canceling the showing, so I asked for a ticket to whichever of last week’s movies started next. It turned out to be Devil’s Due.

A young couple who were kidnapped on their honeymoon return home pregnant with a fetus that causes terrible things to happen.

I like horror movies but I preach moderation in the showing of monsters and blood because absence and expectation make for more tension and scariness. Devil’s Due showed a lot of restraint in that department… too much, unfortunately. It crossed the line between tense and boring.

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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 21, 2014

captain phillips

Captain Phillips

I know this movie was designed to be moving, true-story, Oscar bait, but I just can’t drum up any feelings about it other than ‘meh.’ It’s partly the Tom Hanks factor (a ‘meh’ actor if I ever saw one), partly the Paul Greengrass factor (I HATE shaky cam) and partly the hostage-taking factor. Hostage situations are by nature sedentary until the burst of action at the end, consisting mostly of arguing (bo-ring). They do throw in a little sympathy for the hostage takers by blaming their actions on globalization, but… meh. I’d rather watch Speed 2: Cruise Control.

Buy Captain Phillips on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

machete kills

Machete Kills

I love action movies that don’t take themselves seriously. The Machete series goes the ‘so bad it’s funny’ route by playing up the bad acting, cliched dialogue, terrible effects, and silly plots common in B action movies. Machete Kills sends the titular crazed sharp-object-wielder on a mission from the President to foil a plot involving space weapons. If you want a laugh, this movie is about the same silliness level as Shoot ‘Em Up. So goofier than Knight and Day but not quite as goofy as MacGruber, if that helps you at all.

Buy Machete Kills on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

in a world

In a World

I bet you never even think about movie trailer voice-overs. Like air and wallpaper, they’re just THERE in the background. But now that you are thinking about it, when was the last time you saw a trailer with a voice-over by a woman? I’m guessing it’s something like ‘never.’ That’s what this movie is about – a female voice coach goes up against her dad and brother to achiever her dream of doing movie trailer voice-overs. I bet you never saw a movie about that before. And it’s funny, so what more could you want?

Buy In a World on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

starving games

The Starving Games

This is a spoof from the same people who did Vampires Suck, so it exists partly to make fun of a popular movie and partly to trick your grandmother when she goes out to buy you a copy of The Hunger Games. These movies are beyond stupid – basically a shot-for-shot remake of the original with its flaws cartoonishly blown up like the noses in fairground caricatures. And a few pokes at other movies thrown in for good measure. But… (confession time)… I laughed. You might too if you like SNL or MAD magazine movie parodies.

Buy The Starving Games on DVD.

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Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit Review

poster from the Paramount Pictures film Jack Ryan Shadow Recruit

I was looking forward to this movie. I liked the previous Jack Ryan films and since the world’s biggest ‘fun’ spy franchise (James Bond) has become ultra-serious, realistic, and confusing, I thought that Jack Ryan (previously ultra-serious, realistic, and confusing) might switch places with it. I was led to believe this from the fact that they chose Chris Pine and stopped basing the plots on Tom Clancy novels.

A CIA analyst is reluctantly pressed into action after he uncovers a Russian plot to take down the American economy.

While Shadow Recruit was certainly a thrilling thriller, that was (relatively) easy to understand and (somewhat) realistic, it lacked the element of fun I was hoping for. It’s moved away from the usual tropes of the Jack Ryan franchise but hasn’t taken over the ones James Bond abandoned, so it comes off a little bland. I worry about its staying power as a franchise.

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