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Trailer Reviews for March 29, 2013

THE HOST



Though I think the Twilight books are terrible, I do think that Stephanie Meyer’s other book (her ONE other book) has an interesting premise – a human trying to coexist in her own head with an alien consciousness. The problem is that I can’t get through the book. I read about 30 pages and didn’t want to go any further. The trailer for the movie version looks pretty interesting. Humans vs alien car chases, sci-fi laser effects, and best of all: they can’t spend the whole time inside her head with the two of them just talking back and forth. It could be funny to watch her struggle with herself on screen like there are two cartoon characters in her brain fighting for control over her puppet strings. Yeah there’s a love story, but it’s already better than Twilight just by not having any sparkling vampires, so I might give it a chance.

G.I. JOE RETALIATION



The first G.I. Joe reboot only made it to #5 on my worst movies of the year list, so if The Host turns out to be ‘typical’ Stephenie Meyer (i.e. #1 worst movie) this sequel might actually turn out to be better. It’s going to be dumb, though. That much is a given. But it’s a fun kind of dumb. The first one was dumb. The trailer is dumb. The plot is a ripoff of the good X-Men movies and every commando movie made in the last two years (oh noes! The government has turned on us! Whatever shall we do?!) Bruce Willis is (yet again) THE ONLY MAN THAT CAN SAVE US. Even though they’re Awesome Team G.I. Joe Commandos or whatever. Ninjas on ropes fight with swords and never think to CUT EACH OTHER’S ROPES. So I guess you have to ask yourself which is better: potentially terrible or definitely dumb?

SPRING BREAKERS



I could hardly even FIND a green band version of the trailer for this movie to embed in this article, so that should tell you a lot about this movie. A better title might have been ‘James Franco pervs on some teenagers in bikinis who have a tenancy to make bad life decisions.’ And no, I’m not talking about how they pick their clothes – I’m talking about their decision to ROB A BANK and BECOME INVOLEVED WITH DRUG DEALERS. It’s like Girls Gone Wild crossed with Blow but ‘legitimate’ because it’s ‘fiction.’ FYI though if your teenage sons want to go see it, you should probably say no. The whole thing reads like a desperate ploy by former Disney actresses to break out of the ‘good girl’ mold.

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Beautiful Creatures Review

poster from the Warner Bros. Pictures film Beautiful Creatures

I hate Twilight and I haven’t even read the Beautiful Creatures books, but boy was I glad this movie came out on Valentine’s Day weekend because it meant I had an excuse for not seeing Safe Haven (*puke*) or the new (boring looking) Die Hard movie. What’s more, the trailer actually made the story look somewhat promising (i.e. not horrible).

A bookish boy falls in love with a spell caster, which may cause her to be chosen by the dark side on her approaching sixteenth birthday.

It’s pretty standard as far as teen paranormal romances go (except usually if someone’s normal, it’s the girl) and the couple was likeable enough, and I enjoyed it when I was watching it. It was only later on that I realized how confused I was by all the spell caster lore they try to cram in around the edges of the love story.

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Warm Bodies Review

poster from the Summit Entertainment film Warm Bodies

I didn’t want to see Warm Bodies when it came out last week, because I thought the premise sounded stupid. Zombies cured by the power of love? What is this, Twilight? Way to ruin a perfectly good monster. But it’s amazing how much Warm Bodies seemed to improve when compared to Identity Thief (apparently written by someone with an icepick in their brain) and Side Effects (Contagion with extra boringness). So let’s talk about some zombies!

A zombie becomes obsessed with a human and decides to protect her instead of eating her.

I was expecting Warm Bodies to be Twilight with zombies, so I was pleasantly surprised to discover that it’s actually a smart satire on the genre. Movies like The Apparition have taught me that a good premise doesn’t necessarily equate to a good movie, but I had no idea a bad premise could yield a good movie until Warm Bodies.

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Trailer Reviews for February 1, 2013

WARM BODIES



If you’re a horror fan who’s consoled yourself by thinking that at least zombies are safe from the horrible teen supernatural romance trend on account of their being totally non-hot, shambling, smelly, and incapable of voicing their undying lurv for a teenage girl… sorry. Summit Entertainment (the movie studio that ruined vampires and werewolves simultaneously) has officially demolished the last remaining patch of ground for you to stand on. The entire world is now filled with lurv and nothing will ever be scary again. Please don’t jump off a building. Come to sci-fi – we have aliens.

BULLET TO THE HEAD



The first thing I thought when I heard the title for this movie was: “that’s a dumb title. On the nose, much?” and the second thing I thought was: “you know, a lot of the people involved in making these dumb action movies seem to have bullets in their heads.” As far as the trailer goes, I’m not even sure where to start. Criminal with a code of ethics? Gee, I’ve never seen that one before. And I definitely didn’t see it LAST WEEK when Parker came out. Top assassin trying to get out of the business? Seen it, in at least ten films in the past couple of years. Kidnapping of daughter? Oh, jumping on the Taken bandwagon are we? Every line of dialogue made me want to roll my eyes. And if you’re still not sure if this movie’s worth your time, let me cinch it for you: it has Christian Slater in it.

STAND UP GUYS



I’m still not keen on movies with criminals for protagonists but at least this one is getting a little closer to something I would see (not if it’s as depressing as Million Dollar Baby though!). What interests me about this movie is that one of them is supposed to kill the other – and the guy knows it! And he still hangs out with him all night, like it’s the last day before his cancer is supposed to get him or something. I could take or leave Al Pacino but I do like Christopher Walken and Alan Arkin. They’ve both made me laugh a lot in the past. Don’t get me wrong, I still won’t see it. But at least I didn’t feel like I was suffering through the trailer (all two minutes and 27 seconds of it).

QUARTET



This movie officially came out on January 13, but we’re only getting it now and I don’t think I’ve talked about it, so here we go: I really want to see this movie. It reminds me of that hilarious part of Cloud Atlas where Jim Broadbent and his elderly buddies are trying to escape from the old folks home, only without constant interruptions so Tom Hanks can talk in a stupid hillbilly accent. These retirement comedies are the British answer for keeping baby boomer actors in work, and I have to say I prefer it to the American ‘let’s just put them in action movies again but throw in the occasional joke about them being old’ method.

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DVDs for January 22, 2013

End of Watch

Jake Gyllenhaal looks totally weird with a bald head. I just wanted to get that out there before I started talking about the movie. Okay, so, the movie. It’s a pretty typical L.A. Cop story – it pretends to be routine but then throws in a bunch of really serious stuff like uncovering human trafficking or stolen suitcase nukes or whatever. The thing that makes it seem more routine or realistic than your average movie is the fact that it’s shot like a fake documentary. It’s not up my street but if you like a lot of shooting and macho swearing this one’s for you.

Buy End of Watch on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

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The Paperboy

As much as I wish this was a movie about Zac Efron riding a bike up the street pelting people’s houses with newspapers, alas he plays a kid from a scary Florida backwater who helps two journalists investigate whether or not a death row inmate really committed the crimes he’s getting executed for. It sounds very dramatic and possibly thrilling but is actually kind of disjointed and pretentious. But there’s some pretty sensational stuff in there, so you might want to check it out if all you really need from a movie is a few good shocks.


For a Good Time Call

If you liked Bridesmaids, you may have noticed that there weren’t a lot of other films you could follow it with. Most of the crude sex comedies are guy-oriented. But here’s another one from the female perspective. It follows two women who used to hate each other as they start a phone sex hotline in order to keep their insanely expensive apartment. So it’s both a buddy comedy and a sex comedy, combining “we hate each other” jokes with “omg what’s this dildo thing?!” It’s pretty funny. If you think you can handle it, check it out.

Buy For a Good Time Call on DVD or on Blu-Ray.


Hansel and Gretel: Warriors of Witchcraft

If you’re looking forward to seeing Jeremy Renner and Gemma Arterton in Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters, you should probably be aware that this is not that film. It’s a cheap high school knockoff starring a real life sister and brother who were apparently named after Fievel Mousekewitz and Yogi Bear’s sidekick. Their only claim to fame is playing werewolves in the Twilight movies, so that should tell you something about this movie (namely that it is terrible). If you didn’t get my hint, let me spell it out for you: this movie is terrible.

Buy Hansel and Gretel: Warriors of Witchcraft on DVD.

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Top 5 and Bottom 5 Films of 2012


Well, another year has gone by, so it’s time to look back and see how the 62 movies I saw in theaters stack up against one another. This year’s best and worst movies were easy to choose but numbers 2 through 5 were hard, especially when I thought about them in retrospect – some big ticket movies were great in the theaters but didn’t hold up when I thought about them later. Others weren’t that great to begin with. In the end there were a lot of pretty good movies and a lot of pretty bad movies, but pretty doesn’t make the cut with me. Here’s what did.

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Breaking Dawn Part 2 Review

poster from the Summit Entertainment film Twilight Breaking Dawn Part 2

I’ve seen all the Twilight movies and read all the Twilight books, mostly so I can criticize them properly. I have to admit that the first and third movies were almost tolerable, which made them much better than the books. Breaking Dawn 2, which deals with the most interesting, most potentially exciting, biggest letdown half of the last book, also had the potential to be an almost decent movie.

Vampire Bella and her new family of wolves and vampires form an army to protect her half-vampire child against the murderous vampire ruling class.

The posters bill Breaking Dawn 2 as “the epic finale that will live forever,” but now that I’ve seen it I have to report that these taglines were misprinted (I blame autocorrect). They should have read “the insipid finale that will feel like it goes on forever.” As you might expect, this is a movie only fans will like.

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Trailer Reviews for November 16, 2012

TWILIGHT: BREAKING DAWN PART 2



It’s pretty safe to say that if you haven’t been looking forward to the release of this movie, you don’t need to bother seeing it. First of all, it’s the last of a five-film series and you need to have seen the one before it (Breaking Dawn Part 1) to make sense of it. Breaking Dawn Part 2 picks up halfway through the last of Stephenie Meyer’s teen vampire romance books, right around the point Bella became a vampire, developed an actual personality, and became mildly interesting (at least, I stopped wanting her to be ripped apart by one of the many giant wolves). The clincher for me will be whether the battle with the killer Italian vampire ruling elite that they spend the whole book/movie building up to actually goes down or not. If it doesn’t (like it doesn’t in the book), I may have to burn down the studio (you’re on notice, Summit Entertainment). I’m just saying: if I have to spend my birthday weekend watching this movie, somebody needs to get ripped apart by a giant wolf.

LINCOLN



My quota for Abraham Lincoln movies has already been met this year, so I don’t feel any great need to see this movie. Besides which, I feel like this would be less exciting to watch than Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. Steven Spielberg, you know I think you rock, but if you’re going to tell us a story we already know inside, outside, and upside down, at least have the decency to tweak it a little bit. Put in some zombies or something. I’m sure Daniel Day Lewis will win more awards for the role (though I can’t help thinking the voice sounds wrong) and that the critics will like it. History teachers will also wear out their copies showing them to their classes, but the regular people, the ones who are not critics or history teachers, are just going to glaze right over this one. “Been there, learned that” they will think to themselves. “Slavery bad, war sad, Lincoln good.” And then they will buy a ticket to Skyfall.

Also, if you’re in Sydney on Thursday, November 15 at 7pm you can catch the Cape Breton Film Series showing of Your Sister’s Sister, an awkward romantic comedy/drama about two traumatized people trying to start a relationship with a third wheel in the middle. You can check out the trailer review here.

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DVDs for August 7, 2012

The Lorax

Dr. Seuss stories are always really bonkers and have some sort of message, but The Lorax, which is about a boy from a polluted world who finds out how much better things used to be when an orange monster shaped like a peanut protected the trees, is probably the most message-driven. It’s cute, there are original songs, Zac Efron is in it, and there’s also a lot of clever satire aimed at commercialism to entertain the parents, so this is a movie you can watch with your whole family. Check out my full review to hear more.

Buy The Lorax on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

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Bel Ami

Robert Pattinson is working hard to not be typecast as a sparkly vampire. He’s been an elephant tamer (Water for Elephants), a mobster (Cosmopolis), a crazy painter (Little Ashes), and now a slutty period soldier who bones everything that moves in order to move up in Paris society (gee, any guesses as to how that’s going to turn out?) So it’s kind of like Dorian Gray, but without the magic painting. His woodenness (if you’ll forgive the pun) in this one doesn’t do much for the film he’s carrying, so I’d recommend you only rent it if you’re a big fan of the Twilight movies.

Buy Bel Ami on DVD
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Marley

Famous musicians have no end of biographies, official and otherwise, made about their lives, but this one bills itself as the “definitive” story of Bob Marley. They can say this because he’s dead (and therefore not going to do anything else) and because they have access to his family and his old interview footage. But they spend so much time talking to people who are not Bob Marley about how they were affected by Bob Marley that it almost would have been more accurate to call it The Bob Marley Legacy or something. Check it out if you’re a fan though.

Buy Marley on DVD or on Blu-Ray.
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One Direction: The Only Way is Up

While I’m glad to see anything loved by under-10s that is not Justin Bieber, you should know that this documentary was out of date by the time it was released – these pop things usually are unless the subjects are dead. It’ll be even more out of date when their fifteen minutes of fame are over and they’ve disappeared back into obscurity. Perhaps they’ll make another documentary about that process called The Only Way is Down. For now, though, get this for your tween daughter if you want to buy a brief moment where she acknowledges and appreciates you.

Buy One Direction: The Only Way is Up on DVD.
.

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Snow White and the Hunstman Review

poster from the Universal Pictures film Snow White and the Huntsman

It often happens that two movies based on the same premise come out in the same year. It’s happened with volcanoes, asteroids crashing into the earth, special operations teams being betrayed by the government (actually, there’s about a million of those) and now it’s Snow White’s turn. Though they’re based on the same premise, it’s hard to imagine a pair of movies as different as Mirror Mirror and Snow White and the Huntsman. Mirror Mirror was a screwball comedy while this one is dark and gritty..

A teenaged princess escapes the clutches of her evil stepmother to start a revolution among the people with the help of some dwarves and the huntsman who was sent to track her down.

I’ve seen them both now and both have their strengths. Mirror Mirror is good for a few laughs and appropriate to take young kids to while Snow White and the Huntsman is totally bad ass. It’s not perfect, but I’d take it over Mirror Mirror any day.

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