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Saving Mr. Banks Review

poster from the Walt Disney Pictures film Saving Mr. Banks

Until I saw the trailer for Saving Mr. Banks, I had no real desire to watch Mary Poppins (too cutesy) or read the book (because I had no idea it existed). But in the interests of knowing what the hell they were talking about, I read the book and watched the movie the day before I went to see Saving Mr. Banks. I was surprised to discover how different they were, a circumstance which is explained in this movie.

Mary Poppins author Pamela Travers refuses to sell Walt Disney the rights to her stories until the re-writes address wounds left over from her own childhood.

Now that I’ve seen Saving Mr. Banks, I’m awfully glad I ‘did my research’ so to speak. This movie seems to assume you’re familiar with the book and movie (though I think you could get by with only having seen the movie). You may be confused if you aren’t. On the whole though, it was a very good movie.

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Trailers for December 13, 2013

THE HOBBIT: DESOLATION OF SMAUG



To be perfectly honest, after last year’s The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey failed to do more than get the massive, indistinguishable clump of dwarves within binocular viewing distance of their destination, I’m not eager to see this movie. As the middle chapter in a trilogy of movies made from a single not-even-very-long book, it will have more time to waste than the other two, which at least have beginnings and endings to deal with. Fans will no doubt lap up the time wasting and beg for more, but I can’t read more than a few chapters of J.R.R. Tolkien without wondering why I’m torturing myself. Unfortunately, it looks like I’ll have to see this movie. We’re not getting Saving Mr. Banks at my theater.

SAVING MR. BANKS



Now HERE’S a movie that interests me. As a writer who has experienced the attempted hijacking of my work by clueless people, I can understand why P.L. Travers was so reluctant to sell the rights to Mary Poppins despite Walt Disney’s 20 years of asking for them. Though obviously she did eventually and Dick Van Dyke was in it and there were lots of words in it that were made up, so I have to wonder – how’d he get her to change her mind? Plus, Emma Thompson is just great in everything.

TYLER PERRY’S A MADEA CHRISTMAS



Okay, I’m not normally a Tyler Perry fan, but this looks funny in an “I need something upbeat and uncomplicated for my family to watch on Christmas eve” way. I’m ALWAYS looking for more of those movies so I won’t have to watch Love Actually again. Favorite joke:
“Your daughter is grown. Leave her alone!”
“I’ll pay you.”
“When do we leave?”

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Trailer Reviews for November 29, 2013

FROZEN



It looks cute and funny and everything, but what is it ABOUT? I hate it when animation trailers do this. They spend so much time on all their funny jokes and cute little characters and forget to explain what the hell is going on. So it’s supposed to be summer and everything is frozen. And it has something to do with that girl’s sister… so she must be freezing things… but what the hell for? And what’s her sister supposed to do about it? I mean, I’ll see it, because look what else is playing this week, but still, this is a bad trailer.

HOMEFRONT



Everything in this trailer is utterly ridiculous. Bullying that obvious, boy vs girl, in a school these days? A mom flipping out over it so bad that she calls her drug dealing… whatever… and sics him on the girl’s dad? A meth dealer continuing to harass a guy HE KNOWS WAS A DEA AGENT who just wants to be left alone, thereby ensuring that this guy and/or the DEA will rain fire on his ass? And to top it all off, they claim that no one in town likes this guy or his kid, yet somehow they’re all at her birthday party! Dumb dumb dumb. Anyway, I don’t even need to see it, they showed the entire thing in the trailer.

PHILOMENA



This looks hilarious! I want to see it, but we’re not getting it, so I’ll probably have to wait for the DVD. I’ll be mad if it turns out that her son’s a corrupt politician jackass who doesn’t want to see her, though, especially if I have to wait all that time. I know it doesn’t SEEM like that kind of movie, but it’s possible. It’s based on a true story.

THE ARMSTRONG LIE



“Losing = death.” Well, isn’t that dramatic. I just can’t drum up the energy to give a crap. I mean, I don’t like sports at the best of times, but I find it especially ridiculous when people lie, cheat, steal, backstab, etc. just so they can claim they’re the best at something. I mean… how insecure do you have to be? No way would I pay this issue enough attention to watch a whole movie about it.

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DVDs for November 26, 2013

red 2

RED 2

I liked this movie when I saw it in theaters (though not as much as liked the first one). But after a few months, it sort of blended into the latest Die Hard movie: A Good Day to Die Hard. Russian setting, Bruce Willis paired with a younger person (his son in Die Hard, his girlfriend here), madcap action… the difference, I guess, is that RED 2 stars more old people, and that when it’s funny it’s because it’s supposed to be, not because the filmmakers are completely divorced from reality. Read my full review for more.

Buy RED 2 on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

getaway

Getaway

After the success of Taken, there have been many imitators. In this one, Ethan Hawke plays a guy who drives really fast. Some people kidnap his wife in order to get him to drive really fast for them. But they don’t give him a car, so he has to hijack one with way-too-young-for-him eye candy in it (Selena Gomez), and her computer hacking skills (such as they are) end up helping Ethan while he drives really fast. In this movie, driving fast is what throat chopping was to Taken, so I’d really only recommend it to you if you’re a huge fan of Mustangs.

Buy Getaway on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

jobs

JOBS

This movie is trying to be The Social Network, but since we already have The Social Network, it mostly just comes off as two hours of Ashton Kutcher alternately having revolutionary ideas and being a dick to people. It’s based on the popular biography of Steve Jobs’ life, which exposed his dark underbelly, but since everyone already knows about it, there’s nothing revolutionary about the movie. I’d only recommend it for big Steve Jobs/Apple fans, as I’ve never bought an Apple product in my life and my attitude toward the film is a giant ‘who cares?’

Buy JOBS on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

the canyons

The Canyons

Wow, I guess the studios wanted to make sure all the bad movies were out in time for people to not buy them for each other for Christmas. Most of the people who saw this movie were tricked into it by the fact that it was directed by the guy who did Taxi Driver and written by the guy who did American Psycho. But really, it’s just about a crazy dude (a porn star called James Dean, but with two Es) going crazy on the stars of his movie. It’s billed as an ‘erotic thriller’ but that was probably just an excuse to get Lindsay Lohan to take her top off (which, incidentally, is why the rest of the people saw this movie).

Buy The Canyons on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

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Trailer Reviews for November 8, 2013

THOR: THE DARK WORLD



Thor! Hey buddy! Good to see you again! Any chance you’re gonna take a few minutes in this movie to stumble over some hilarious Earth customs? I’d love to be able to add something like ‘Thor Goes to the Grocery Store’ or ‘Thor Uses an ATM’ to my list of potential Marvel picture book plotlines. No? You plan on smashing things and arguing with Loki for two straight hours? Yeah, that’s what the trailer looked like. I just thought I’d ask. I’ll still come, of course. Because there’s Team Thor/Jane/Loki. But in the future, if you want to throw in a little more ‘myeh myeh,’ I’ll be really happy.

KILL YOUR DARLINGS



Ugh. Please, no more Beat Poets! They’re so pretentious and annoying! And the stories about their lives are always so messed up and depressing. I’m sorry, Daniel Radcliffe, you’re very good. But there’s no way I’m seeing this movie.

THE SUMMIT



Looks cool. It’s like the Into Thin Air for K2. They make it seem like there’s a big conspiracy but then one of the reviewer quotes describes it as a cliffhanger… I hope she meant literally because I don’t want to see it if they don’t at least decide on a theory as to what happened to everyone.

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DVDs for November 5, 2013

white house down

White House Down

Some action movies are just big loud fun, and that’s the category this movie falls into. Starring Channing Tatum as a down-and-out cop and Jamie Foxx as the prissy US president, White House Down is a odd-couple action movie that involves a terrorist plot on the United States. Don’t confuse it with the Gerard Butler/Aaron Eckhart White House terrorism movie Olympus Has Fallen, though, because while Olympus is trying to take itself seriously, White House Down knows its just a bit of fun and is consequently more fun to watch. Check it out.

Buy White House Down on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

grown ups 2

Grown Ups 2

The term ‘grown up’ is something of a misnomer when applied to the characters in this movie (played by perpetual man-children Adam Sandler, David Spade, Chris Rock, and Kevin James). The men are selfish, immature doofuses who blunder through a silly plot involving the four of them moving their long-suffering families back to their hometown. Even if you like that sort of thing, or you’re a fan of the actors, this is a poor effort. Phoned in performances combined with lazy jokes. American Reunion was about the same thing and is better. Rent that.

Buy Grown Ups 2 on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

parkland

Parkland

Even if you’re normally turned off by the bevy of ridiculous conspiracy theories surrounding the Kennedy Assassination, you should watch this movie about the Kennedy Assassination. Why? Because it’s not about a conspiracy. It’s about how a collection of ordinary people (the doctors and nurses who treated Kennedy’s gunshot wound, the man who accidentally filmed the shooting, the FBI agents who are trying to solve the case) and how the event affected them. It’s more like a collection of documentary-style vignettes than a movie, so give it a shot.

Buy Parkland on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

girl most likely

Girl Most Likely

I’m always harping on about how we should stop filling people’s heads with the idea that making it as a writer/actor/director/seal trainer/whatever is a) easy b) fast and c) likely. Finally, someone has made a realistic movie about breaking in as a writer. In that she doesn’t. She totally fails, has a breakdown, and has to move home with her mother. The only thing that could make this movie more appealing to me would be if Kristin Wiig’s character decided to become a dental hygienist. Watch it. Seriously. Especially if you have fame fantasies.

Buy Girl Most Likely on DVD on on Blu-Ray.

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Trailer Reviews for November 1, 2013

ENDER’S GAME



Ender’s Game movie! Woot! I know Orson Scott Card’s jerky behavior has turned a lot of people off this movie, but as the rights holder, he would have been paid yonks ago for this film, so I can’t see how not seeing it will hurt him. Also, I really want to see it. Yeah, Ender is too old. Yeah, there aren’t enough girls in it. Yeah, the sequels are too political and/or religious. But THIS one was awesome because THIS one was about little kids fighting GIANT SPACE BATTLES, which is 95% of what went on in my imagination as a child (FYI, there are still a lot of space battles going on in there). So I have to see it. Seeing it in real life is JUST TOO AWESOME. Who wants to come with me?

LAST VEGAS



Ooh, sorry Last Vegas, you look funny. Morgan Freeman especially, you crack me up. But you’re no competition on Ender’s Game weekend. Come back and see me in a few weeks… or maybe not. Thor: The Dark World comes out next week and after that we’ve got The Book Thief followed by The Hunger Games: Catching Fire. On second thought, Last Vegas, thanks for the entertaining trailer. I will see you on DVD.

FREE BIRDS



Okay, that tiny spherical bird was adorable. But… does this movie involve time travel? Because it kind of looks like it involves time travel. It is way too easy to mess up time travel mechanics, especially when you don’t care about them – you’re just doing it for kiddy laughs. Plus it doesn’t even look that funny. If I want to watch a movie about game birds who want to be free, I’m going to put in my Chicken Run DVD.

ABOUT TIME



Now this one I’m upset about. I love Love Actually and I was really looking forward to seeing this movie. (Yes yes, I know I was just railing about time travel in non-science fiction movies, but since it’s so important to the plot here it must have internal consistency). It looks really sweet. In a funnier, less depressing Time Traveler’s Wife sort of way. But not only is it releasing opposite Ender’s Game, my theater’s not even getting it. Boo

ALL THE WRONG REASONS



Well hello, another Canadian film I might actually watch! (And no, not just because Cory Montieth is dead) Because Kevin Zegers. Because main character with one arm. Because firefighters. Because no touchy. And because hilarious behind-the-scenes Zellers action. Now… all I need is for it to come here.

DALLAS BUYERS CLUB



I used to be able to stomach Matthew McConaughey, but now every time I see his face on screen I have this urge to knock his smirking mug into next week. I know it’s a moving topic and all, but did it have to be him?

DIANA



Part of me is like: ooh! Secrets and drama! But the other part feels like this movie is too much like one of those tabloid tell-alls – full of things that are none of my business.

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The Fifth Estate Review

poster from the Walt Disney Pictures film The Fifth Estate

I was looking forward to this movie. Not because of Wiki Leaks, though. I only vaguely remember it from when it was in the news years ago. It wasn’t really the friendship story, either. I mean, I enjoyed The Social Network, which had a similar dynamic, but that wasn’t enough to tempt me away from 12 Years a Slave. So: confession time. The reason I chose The Fifth Estate was to see Rush‘s Daniel Bruhl in action again.

A German computer programmer gets drawn into a friend’s plan to solicit and release confidential documents in the name of public transparency.

Luckily, The Fifth Estate is a story about people (Julian Assange and Daniel Berg) more than a story about a thing (Wiki Leaks). The script kind of winds the characters up and lets them go, and the result is almost as wrenching as Anakin and Obi-Wan fighting in a river of lava. I loved it.

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Trailer Reviews for October 18, 2013

FIFTH ESTATE



Sorry, Fifth Estate movie, but that title doesn’t make me think of Wiki Leaks. It makes me think of CBC documentaries (for those of you who are not Canadian, our national broadcasting corporation runs an investigative documentary series called The Fifth Estate). Why didn’t they just call it Wiki Leaks, I wonder? Everyone knows what that is. Title issues aside, it looks exciting. Lies! Spies! Getting chased! Best friends fighting! Whee! It’s like The Social Network crossed with Mission Impossible (the first one). I didn’t follow the real Wiki Leaks story that closely so I don’t know how it ends (yay ignorance!) Plus, after Daniel-Bruhl-as-Niki-Lauda totally knocked me over, I’d watch (almost) anything with him in it (FYI – he’s the Wiki Leaker who’s not Benedict Cumberbatch).

12 Years a Slave



Oh no! This looks really good too! Not as exciting, of course, but more moving. Life sucked for slaves across the board, but I imagine it would be a lot worse if you knew what it was like to be free beforehand. There’s got to be legal rules/policing on that sort of thing, even back then.
And there’s GOTTA be a happy ending (if there isn’t, I will be mad). So I guess the question is: do I want to be moved or excited? I also have to choose between Chiwetel Ejiofor/Michael Fassbender and Daniel Bruhl. That’s a tough call. And between Benedict Cumberbatch and…. Benedict Cumberbatch (I guess his movies come in Cumberbatches – hur hur). Maybe I’ll save this one for next week.

CARRIE



Nope. This was a movie that did NOT need a remake. The book was very creepy. The original movie was very creepy. The only thing they can really improve on is the special effects, which tends to damage the story. Too many things flying around, not enough character. My money will go elsewhere.

ESCAPE PLAN



I have a couple of questions for this movie. This is a huge prison with many inmates. Who built it? Who paid for it? Who works in it? How to they manage to kidnap and imprison high profile baddies without one anybody’s friends/family finding out about the prison and demanding their friend/family member’s release, a la Guantanamo Bay? If you’re going to break the law that obviously, wouldn’t it make more sense (and be a lot cheaper) to just kill all these guys? Especially when it comes to the PROFESSIONAL PRISON BREAKER. If I could get past that (I probably couldn’t) it looks like it could be an okay movie… except for that vegetarian line. That doesn’t even make any sense, but at least they didn’t say ‘girl.’

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Trailer Reviews for October 9, 2013

CAPTAIN PHILLIPS



I know this is supposed to be a big movie, but I’m feeling pretty meh about it. If there’s no actor I like in a movie (I’m not a Tom Hanks fan, scream about it all you want but you’re not going to change my mind), then I need to at least be learning something. What it’s like in another country, how a person might react to a situation, or even just how the plot turns out. But I don’t really feel like this movie has any surprises for me. The plot is obvious. There’s a ship. It’s taken over by pirates. The captain tries to protect the crew. Navy SEALs descend on them. The end. I’ve already seen movies about how it sucks when you’re poor and sometimes you have to steal to survive even if you’re a good person. I already know how SEALs operate. And I’ve seen plenty of movies about heroic ordinary people. And I hate hostage situations. So I think I’m going to skip this one.

THE RIGHT KIND OF WRONG



I guess after four months, it’s okay to tell you that I’ve seen this movie already. I was in the test audience when they screened it in Toronto in June. As soon as they handed me the flyer, I knew I wanted to see it, and not just because of Ryan Kwanten. I loved the idea of a girlfriend spilling all her bile about him in a blog which became a book and a talk show phenomenon, because let’s face it – it could happen. There’s no privacy these days. People air all their dirty laundry online, and some of it has other people in it. Plus it just plain looked funny. I loved it, and I’ll (finally) be able to write a review for you this weekend.

ROMEO AND JULIET



Ugh, why? There are thousands of stories in the public domain. There are dozens of other Shakespeare plays (most of them happier than this one) and only a handful of them ever get made. Why can’t they make something else? I’m so sick of endless remakes in general and of Romeo and Juliet in particular. It’s just so soppy and depressing. I’d see Right Kind of Wrong Again (I’d PAY to watch Leap Year again) before I went to this movie.

MACHETE KILL



Okay, so I saw the poster for this and I was all set to say I’d never see it, then I actually watched the trailer and saw how intentionally ridiculous it was. He can’t be electrocuted, has a knife in his iPhone, and fights ladies with machine-gun corsets. Don’t get me wrong, a lot of action movies are ALMOST as goofy, but when you play it up intentionally it can be really funny. I thought Shoot ‘Em Up was great. I probably wouldn’t pay ten bucks to see it in theater, but someday I’ll give it the old Netflix try for sure.

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