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Trailer Reviews for May 11, 2012

DARK SHADOWS



I’ve been really looking forward to seeing this movie. Alas, I won’t be able to review it for you this week because I promised my friend Angella we would save Dark Shadows to see on her birthday, which is next Friday. You can understand that she might not want to end up seeing the horrible abortion that is Battleship: the movie. Anyway, Dark Shadows is based on a TV show from the 60s and it looks completely hilarious in a bonkers Addams Family sort of way. Johnny Depp (I have no idea how they managed to make him look that young) is priceless. “Reveal yourself, tiny songstress!” Unsurprisingly, Tim Burton is directing and the script can be attributed to Seth Grahame-Smith (he of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies fame). I’m counting the days until I get to see this!

THE BEST EXOTIC MARIGOLD HOTEL



A friend of mine recently returned from India – not in an ambulance, but close – so I would never imagine India would be a good place in which to retire unless your idea of a relaxing day is to spend it on the toilet. However, I can totally see a bunch of stogy old Brits falling for the tourism poster version of the country, which is still slightly dodgy due to misspellings and promises slightly too good to be true. Bill Nighy, Maggie Smith, Judy Dench, and Tom Wilkinson are all fantastic and hilarious in their dry British way and we also get Dev Patel, the boy we all loved from Slumdog Millionare! What’s not to like? I really want to see this movie, like, right now. But it’s a limited release – boo.

CITIZEN GANGSTER



I was already turned off by the word “gagster” in the title, and by the poster, which features a guy in a fedora waving two guns around, but I am required to push through and watch the trailer, so I did and it wasn’t bad. Scott Speedman is a good actor (and cute) so of course that helps, but there’s also a vein of comedy here that I appreciate… or I did, until it disappeared about 50 seconds into the trailer and it became as depressing as the rest of the criminal-as-hero movies I dislike. That said, it still looks better than about 99% of the Canadian movies I’ve ever heard of, which is an accomplishment.

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DVDs for April 3, 2012

War Horse

Don’t believe the hype that claims this movie is one of the best of 2011. I went to it fully expecting to be moved but I just… wasn’t. Sure it looks pretty, but because it mostly follows a horse who has no facial expressions rather than the farmer boy who’s trying to find him and rescue him from being in World War I, it’s hard to get emotionally invested. Not that it doesn’t try hard to wring emotions from you, because it does. It tries really, really, hard. It just didn’t work on me. Maybe it will work on you if you have a thing for horses. Check out my full review for more details.

Buy War Horse on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

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We Bought a Zoo

Every year the pipes are clogged with quirky family comedy dramas about reconnecting and/or grieving the loss of a parent. So far, this is the only one where the family in question buys a wildlife park. If you’re thinking it’s in the talking animal vein like Zookeeper, you’re wrong. The animals don’t talk, sign, or do anything non-animal. This movie is all about the people adapting to their new lives in a zoo. There’s your obligatory cast: the struggling parent, the cute little girl, the cranky teen, and the local love interest. You pretty much know where this is going, so rent it if you like the formula.

Buy We Bought a Zoo on DVD or on Blu-Ray.
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Tyrannosaur

Just to let you know: the DVD box for this movie is lying to you. There are no actual tyrannosaurs in this movie, in fossil form or otherwise. It’s actually about a man with a lot of buried anger (see what they did there? That’s called a METAPHOR). Anyway he’s angry but he meets a woman who works in a charity shop. She’s nice to him for no reason and there’s hope that he can maybe be a little bit less angry. And they’re Irish. So if you like character dramas with accents that may or may not end in total disaster, this is the movie for you. If you like dinosaurs, this is not the movie for you.

Buy Tyrannosaur on DVD or on Blu-Ray.
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Being Elmo

How often do you think about the fact that there is a hand up Elmo’s butt? If you’re like me, the answer is probably: as little as possible. But there is a hand, and it’s attached to a person named Kevin Clash who makes his career out of puppeting and voicing Elmo. And this movie gives you a chance to meet him. Whether this will ruin Sesame Street for you forever, I don’t know. “Will I be able to look at the puppet afterward and still ignore the hand?” is something you’ll have to ask yourself. But it is a fascinating movie about a fun job that hardly anyone knows anything about, so I’d recommend you watch it.

Buy Being Elmo on DVD.
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DVDs for March 20, 2012

Girl With the Dragon Tattoo

I’ve seen both the Swedish and American adaptations of Stieg Larsson’s novel about a disgraced journalist and a reclusive hacker who team up to solve a decades old disappearance and I’m not sure which I like better. By necessity, each leaves out some subplots and scenes, but not the same ones. This one, the American one, is a little more stylized and plays up the brutality (there’s rape) a little more, but that’s Americans for you. Both are good movies. You should rent them (unless you’re squeamish or a child) but with this one you don’t have to read subtitles.

Buy Girl With the Dragon Tattoo on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

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The Muppets

As a rule, nostalgia movies do not work. Shows we liked as kids adapted into new movies always end up retroactively ruining our childhoods and confusing our kids. But with every rule there must be exceptions, and The Muppets is one of them. In the story, it’s been years since the Muppets broke up and a trio of human fans (including Jason Segel and Amy Adams) bring them back together to save their old theater from an oil tycoon. Loaded with songs and kid/adult friendly humor, it’s one of those rare movies that actually is fun for the whole family. Do rent it. Wokka wokka!

Buy The Muppets on DVD or on Blu-Ray.
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Hop

While The Muppets was in theaters just a few months ago, it’s been a whole year since Hop. I know they’re timing the theatrical and DVD releases with Easter, but a year is enough time to forget this movie even existed. Hop was made by the people who did Despicable Me but it’s got a standard plot (son of mythical holiday creature runs away to be something else – in this case a drummer) and it’s that eternally annoying blend of live action and animation. Flop might have been a better name for it, but it’s still good enough to entertain your kids for a few hours.

Buy Hop on DVD or on Blu-Ray.


Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

If you’re looking to be bored out of your skull during this upcoming long weekend, look no further than Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. It’s more tedious and uninteresting than any movie about a Cold War spy uncovering a Soviet mole has any right to be. Don’t let its Oscar nominations fool you. Only critics like this movie. Normal people will want to drill into their own brains to escape it. Rent this movie only if you need to read the John Le Carre novel for school and you’d rather torture yourself for two hours than the two weeks it will take to slog through the book.

Buy Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

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21 Jump Street Review

poster from the Columbia Pictures film 21 Jump Street

Choosing a movie to review this week was not hard. It was 21 Jump Street or nothing. I suppose I could’ve chosen something from previous weeks, but there was nothing there to interest me either. So 21 Jump Street it was. It’s not like I was opposed to seeing it per se. I like Channing Tatum. The only thing holding me back was my intense aversion to Jonah Hill. But I could suck it up for one movie. After all, the trailer made the story look pretty funny:

Two inept young cops are sent back to high school to infiltrate a drug ring run by the popular kids.

It sounds pretty simple – all they’d have to do is load it up with the usual high school clichés and shove the movie out the door. What surprised me was that they didn’t do that. They took the clichés, punched them in the nuts, and laughed at them while they writhed on the ground in agony. Which is incidentally also how the characters acted. It was brash, but also funny. Very funny.

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Trailer Reviews for March 16, 2012

21 JUMP STREET



Hmm. What we have here is a dilemma. I really like Channing Tatum, but I can’t stand Jonah Hill. Ultimately the awesome list wins out over the “I frikkin’ hate you” list, but will it be enough for me to enjoy the movie? Or will they just cancel each other out like matter and anti-matter and leave me watching a blank screen for two hours? I think I might like it. It’s a little bit Never Been Kissed, but with cops… and no kissing. Or, if you want, like the 80s TV show, except they’re smart enough to poke fun at the fact that neither of those guys look even remotely like they could still be in high school. That’s the factor – the intelligent satire factor – that could push it over the edge into enjoymentland for me. Since there’s nothing else coming out this week, I guess I have no option but to find out.

JEFF WHO LIVES AT HOME



I know I said there’s nothing else coming out this week, but what I meant was ALMOST nothing. This is a limited release, so for most of us there really will be nothing else. Anyway, underachieving adult children who still live at home with their parents and are depressed that they haven’t achieved their wild dreams is a popular subject for movies these days, probably because most of the people who are going to these movies are adult children who still live at home with their parents and are depressed over not being able to achieve their wild dreams. I don’t have any desire to see this movie, mostly because it seems boring and it reminds me of people I know.

Also, if you live in Sydney (Nova Scotia, not Australia), on Thursday at 7pm the Cape Breton Film Series people are showing A Dangerous Method, an insane/boring drama about two therapists who can’t seem to keep their hands off a patient. You can check out the trailer review here and see if you want to go.

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DVDs for March 6, 2012

Game of Thrones: Season 1

Game of Thrones is the latest HBO sex-and-violence fest, but although I like True Blood and Deadwood, Game of Thrones just isn’t up my street. I don’t like the George R.R. Martin books, which are an incomplete chronicle of a political chess game set in a medieval fantasy world where multiple players are scheming for a throne. Interpersonally it’s as complicated as a soap opera and there are more characters to keep track of than there were in the Lord of the Rings, but if you can commit to never missing an episode, you might want to try it. It’s been picked up for season 2.

Buy Game of Thrones on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

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The Immortals

If you liked Clash of the Titans and are looking forward to Wrath of the Titans, this movie may tide you over until then. It’s about Theseus, a son of Zeus who has to save the world from the maniac King Hyperion, who wants to let loose the evil Titans on Greece and its gods. Theseus, of course, does his heroics in a skirt. With a sword. It’s like every other old timey fighting movie, lots of monsters and blood and CGI armies. It’s not my thing, but there are plenty of other people out there (mostly guys and fans of Henry Cavill not wearing pants) who might like it.

Buy The Immortals on DVD or on Blu-Ray.
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Footloose

If you were alive in the 80s, you already know all about Footloose. It’s about a bunch of whiny teenagers getting up to some tame dancing rebellion after their moron parents decide to ban dancing from the town after some teens are killed in a car accident on the way home from a dance. (I agree – a more sensible response would be to ban teenage driving). Anyway, this is the same thing, except the teens are whinier, the music is newer (read: more irritating) and there are explosions, because apparently our attention spans are now much shorter. Rent the old one.

Buy Footloose on DVD or on Blu-Ray.


Tooth Fairy 2

Hey, remember that movie from a few years ago, where Dwayne Johnson played a hockey player who was magically transformed into the tooth fairy? Remember how it was lame and stupid? Do you spend all your days wishing it was even lamer and stupider? (me either) Well now it is! They’ve remade it starring Larry the Cable Guy and called it Tooth Fairy 2! Doesn’t that just make you want to rush out and buy it (read: kill yourself)? This is the last gasp bottom of the barrel rent for parents who are desperate for an hour off from their kids. Get it only if they’re out of Space Buddies.

Buy Tooth Fairy 2 on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

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DVDs for February 28, 2012

Hugo

Hugo won five Academy Awards Sunday night, but thankfully none of them were for the “big three” (best acting, best directing, or best picture). The awards were all for sound, artistry, and visuals, which makes sense, because although this movie looks nice, overall it’s extremely pompous, annoying, and message oriented. The story is ostensibly about an orphan boy living in a Paris train station who uncovers a mystery related to his father’s automaton, but it’s actually just a heavy handed lesson in film history that will bore kids to tears. You can read my full review here.

Buy Hugo on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

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Johnny English

There are some days when I really miss Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, and those are the days when I rent Johnny English movies. A lot of people compare his antics to Mr. Bean but the wacky antics have always reminded me more of early Jim Carrey. And that’s not a bad thing. Early Jim Carrey was hilarious, and so is Rowan Atkinson as Johnny English. It’s not as sophisticated a satire as Get Smart, but it’s definitely worth a look if you’re in a goofy mood and you’re hanging out with friends. In this sequel, moron secret agent Johnny English is in China trying to foil an assassination attempt on the premier.

Buy Johnny English Reborn on DVD or on Blu-Ray.
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Top Gear Season 17

I have no interest in cars, but I absolutely adore Top Gear. These guys have the best jobs in the world because they get to spend all day doing wacky stuff. In this season, Richard takes a giant South African Hummer-thing through a McDonald’s drive through, James pulls a series of flaming caravans down the train tracks, and Jeremy buys a used land-mine thrashing mining machine to knock down a row of derelict housing. There are only six pisodes and the only bonus is an episode of the crap US version of the show, but these DVDs are cheaper and more reliable than subscribing to BBC Canada.

Buy Top Gear Season 17 on DVD or on Blu-Ray.


Tomorrow When the War Began

The John Marsden books this movie is based on are fantastic, but also Australian, so I was waiting to see this movie for like a year. Sadly I couldn’t afford to fly to the big Sydney just to see a movie. Tomorrow When the War Began is the first in a series of movies about a group of Australian teenagers who go on a camping trip, come back to find their country has been invaded by a nameless Asian power, and decide to become guerrillas. The books are some of the best war novels I’ve ever read, so I’d recommend this to all teens and grown ups. It’s too heavy for younger kids, though.

Buy Tomorrow When the War Began on Blu-Ray.

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DVDs for January 10, 2012

Moneyball

This movie, which is based on the true story of the Oakland A’s manager who changed the way baseball teams are picked, should be incredibly boring. After all, it’s about math. Instead of picking players based on how hot their girlfriends are or whatever, Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill devise a statistics based strategy to find players they can a) afford and b) will make a good team. However, Moneyball is not incredibly boring. I know. I was surprised too. Especially since I don’t like Jonah Hill. But give it a chance. You might find it interesting too.

Buy Moneyball on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

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What’s Your Number?

The title of this movie makes no sense. It’s about a woman (Anna Faris, playing the usual doofus) who goes back through her twenty exes looking for “the one.” The premise was stolen from the much more appropriately named TV show The Ex List, but if you liked that show you should rent this movie just to get some resolution. Or you can just watch the trailer, because it’s beyond obvious she ends up with her “friend” across the hall, Chris Evans. Anyway, it’s good for a couple hours of mindless entertainment, just don’t expect anything profound.

Buy What’s Your Number? on DVD or on Blu-Ray.
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Killer Elite

Is there anything more ridiculous than Clive Owen with a mustache? Yes! This movie. It has a plot, but you pretty much have to consult IMDB to find out what it was even after you’ve watched the movie because it’s just a long string of seemingly unconnected shootouts and leaps off buildings. But that’s what Jason Statham’s fans have come to expect from his movies – pointless violence so relentless that it becomes boring – so maybe you’ll like it anyway. I, however, will hold out for an action movie that’s slightly less silly.

Buy Killer Elite on DVD or on Blu-Ray.
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There Be Dragons

If you missed this one in the theaters – and we pretty much all did, because I certainly never saw hide nor hair of it – give it a chance on DVD. It’s biopic based on the true story of a journalist who found out all his father’s deep dark Spanish Civil War related secrets while investigating the background of another priest who is being put up for sainthood. Don’t worry too much about the religious aspect – it’s more about secrets and lies and war. It’s especially interesting because the Spanish Civil War isn’t usually featured in movies except as five minute background/flashbacks.

Buy There Be Dragons on DVD or on Blu-Ray.
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The Adventures of Tintin Review

poster from the Paramount Pictures film The Adventures of Tintin

Since it’s the holidays and I have more spare time on my hands, I actually saw several movies this week: Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol (totally fun and awesome), The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (totally disturbing and awesome), and The Adventures of Tintin. I wasn’t sure which to review at first, but then I decided to do the one most suited to a family trip to the movies during the holiday season. And that movie is The Adventures of Tintin. The plotline is taken from one of Herge’s original Tintin comic books:

An intrepid reporter and his dog team up with a cursed sea captain to uncover the mystery behind a treasure filled ship that disappeared a hundred years ago.

I watched the Tintin cartoon avidly as a kid, so while I was excited for the movie, I was also a little worried it wouldn’t live up to my expectations, like most of the nostalgia driven 90s movies they’ve made in the last few years (Transformers, The Smurfs, The Chipmunks, etc.) But I should have known better. Any movie directed by Steven Spielberg and produced by Peter Jackson can’t help but be awesome.

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DVDs for December 20th, 2011

WARNING: The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo opens Tuesday night! However, I won’t be posting a trailer review until Wednesday evening. Just thought you should know.

Warrior

I don’t normally like fighting movies, but I loved this one. It stars Joel Edgarton and Tom Hardy as two estranged brothers who end up fighting each other for an MMA title because they both need the money for really good reasons. Tom Hardy’s character was a little too obviously evil, but Joel Edgarton’s obviously good/adorable character more than made up for it. A good movie for guy’s night, and it has enough shirtless men in it to catch the attention of the ladies as well. You can read my full review of Warrior here.

Buy Warrior on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

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Dolphin Tale

You might be looking for a nice family movie that you can put on when the relatives come calling this holiday season. If so, then I urge you rent something other than Dolphin Tale. At first glance it seems like a moving drama about a boy bonding with a crippled dolphin, but it quickly drowns in triteness and sap and overlooks the disability and the dolphin in favor of finding person friends for the young boy character, who was shoehorned into a true story. Rent Free Willy instead. You can read my full review of Dolphin Tale here.

Buy Dolphin Tale on DVD or on Blu-Ray.
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Columbiana

Remember that throat-chopping action-stravaganza Taken? Well, swap Liam Neeson for Zoe Saldana, the kidnapped daughter for a dead dad, and the sex trafficking ring for drug dealers and you’ve got Columbiana. Not surprisingly, it was written by the same people. It’s just as dumb as Taken, but if you’ve got someone on your gift list who loves throat punching, and tight/no clothes on Zoe Saldana, this is a great gift idea. DO NOT RENT THIS WHEN YOUR IN LAWS VISIT unless you want them to think you’re a psycho.

Buy Columbiana on DVD or on Blu-Ray.


Glee: the Concert Movie

There are lots of movies coming out this week to take advantage of the last-minute Christmas gift buying glut. Midnight in Paris. Margin Call. The Tempest. The Straw Dogs remake. But the one I’m going to talk about is the Glee concert movie. Why? Because millions of people love Glee, and the friends and relatives of these people should know that there’s a Glee movie out there that they can buy as a Christmas gift. The whole movie is just the Glee characters getting ready for a concert, but that’s more than enough for Glee fans.

Buy Glee: the Concert Movie on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

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