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Dark Shadows Review

poster from the Warner Bros. Pictures film Dark Shadows

I know I said I wouldn’t be able to review Dark Shadows this week, but: surprise! It worked out that I could. And I’m glad – Dark Shadows is an updated version of a horror soap from the 1960s and 70s. The words “horror” and “soap” don’t really go together except in a universe where everything is crazy, so naturally it’s screenwriter Seth Grahame-Smith (who wrote Pride and Prejudice and Zombies) and director Tim Burton (who did Corpse Bride) who bring the classic to life (again).

Cursed by the witch whose love he spurned, a rich canning company heir turned vampire spends two hundred years in a box then returns to restore his family’s prosperity.

I really enoyed Dark Shadows because after a decade of supernatural fiction moving further and further away from the vampires-as-monsters model and toward an ideal where vampires are broody sparkly bunny munching boyfriends, it’s refreshing to see something that calls back to the good old days where vampires were scary. Scary and hilarious.

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DVDs for May 8, 2012

The Vow

Romance books and movies are often a good choice for Mother’s Day gifts, and The Vow is better than most – certainly better than any of those horrible Nicholas Sparks movies that end in tragedy (no, this is not a Nicholas Sparks movie) (yes, I know it looks like one). It starts with tragedy – a car accident robs Rachel McAdams of her memories of her husband – but gets happy as hubby Channing Tatum makes her fall in love with him all over again. If you don’t buy it for mom, check it out yourself. You can read my my review here for more details.

Buy The Vow on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

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Underworld: Awakening

If your mom is one of the many people who are sick and tired of the brooding Mr. Sparkles model of vampire, you should check out Underworld: Awakening (actually, if you’re new to the series, start with Underworld). In this incarnation, vampires are bloodsucking badasses who are at war with the Lycans (who look more like bigfoot than Taylor Lautner). This is the fourth in the series, and it focuses on humans trying to wipe out both vamps and lycans. Heavy on action, light on drama – perfect for moms who want to puke on Twilight.

Buy Underworld: Awakening on DVD or on Blu-Ray.
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Mother’s Day

Okay. I know this movie is called Mother’s Day, and therefore it seems like a good Mother’s Day gift for your mom. But unless your mom is a big fan of Saw or Hostel, DO NOT BUY THIS MOVIE FOR YOUR MOM. It’s about an evil mother and her mindlessly obedient sons who show up to torture the new owners of their old house during a party. If you give her this movie she will think that a) you are sick and twisted and in need of psychiatric help or b) you equate her with a sadistic serial murderer in your head every time she tells you to eat your vegetables.

Buy Mother’s Day on DVD or on Blu-Ray.


Tim and Eric’s Billion Dollar Movie

Tim and Eric’s Billion Dollar Movie seems to assume that you already know about and/or revere Tim and Eric, but if your mom is like me, she’s never heard of them. And if she’s never heard of them, how will you know whether or not she will like this movie? Well, if she thinks Zach Galifianakis or is funny, she might like it. If (like me) she thinks he’s an irritating goon, you should probably buy her something else. A word of caution, though: if she’s offended by grossness or nudity, she’ll be offended by pretty much every minute of this movie.

Buy Tim and Eric’s Billion Dollar Movie on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

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Trailer Reviews for March 23, 2012

THE HUNGER GAMES



I see the other studios have wisely refrained from pitting any of their films up against The Hunger Games, because they would most likely be steamrolled by this latest teen sensation. Thankfully, the Hunger Games is action packed and awesome, not insipid and vomit inducing like the last trend (Twilight). The female character is a fighter rather than a cardboard cutout, and they don’t spend endless pages describing how perfectly perfect her potential boyfriends are. These were the only books that could tempt me to break my “no first person present tense” rule and even as I was reading them, I knew they’d make a great movie. Possibly even a movie that’s better than the book, given the aforementioned first person present tense issue. I don’t like to set my expectations of a movie too high (too late) but I don’t mind telling you I’ve had my ticket for the midnight opening show for like a month. See you there 😉

Also, if you live in Sydney (Nova Scotia, not Australia), on Thursday at 7pm the Cape Breton Film Series people are showing Martha Marcy May Marlene, a disjointed psychological drama about a woman who escapes from a cult. You can check out the trailer review here and see if you want to go.

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DVDs for February 7, 2012

Breaking Dawn: Part 1

Attention Twilight saga fans: the dullest entry in the series is now on DVD! Of course, if you are a Twilight fan, you probably think this is the best part, what with Edward and Bella getting married and going on their honeymoon and all, but for us normal people it’s just a lame sapfest with a mismanaged monster baby plot that gets shunted aside in favor of two blank-faced teens staring at each other. And one of them is a sparkly vampire. You can read my full review of it here, but I’m pretty sure you already know if you’ll be buying it or not.

Buy Breaking Dawn: Part 1 on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

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A Very Harold and Kumar Christmas

You’re probably thinking I’m going to trash this movie for being crass and stoner-y, but I actually thought it was funny… well, sometimes. Harold and Kumar, who are now estranged, have to hunt down a perfect Christmas tree to win over Harold’s in-laws. In the process, they get a baby high, adopt a robot that makes waffles, turn into claymation, and backup dance for a Broadway show starring Neil Patrick Harris. It’s pretty episodic, but I laughed few times (mostly at the waffle robot) which means you people will probably find it hilarious from beginning to end. You can read my full review of it here.

Buy A Very Harold and Kumar Christmas on DVD or on Blu-Ray.
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Anonymous

I really have to be in the right mood to watch movies where everyone ends up dead or miserable, so I guess this one caught me at the right time because I liked it. The relationships are really convoluted (so and so is sleeping with so and so and is secretly related to this person but actually acknowledges these other people as family etc etc) but at its core it theorizes that William Shakespeare was just a front man for the Earl of Oxford, who couldn’t admit that he wrote plays because he would get in trouble. I don’t believe it, of course, but it’s entertaining to watch it all fall apart.

Buy Anonymous on DVD or on Blu-Ray.


The Lady and the Tramp

In an effort to cash in on the Valentine’s Day buying boom, Disney is taking The Lady and the Tramp, out of the “vault” (read: moneymaking gimmick). You remember Lady and the Tramp. It’s that classic cartoon about the pampered house dog falling in love with the scruffy street mutt after her owner’s mean relative kicks her out. The spaghetti part is what everyone remembers, but my favorite part is the creepy Siamese cats and their skin-crawling song. “We are Siamese if you please…” One of the special features is on that song. Others include deleted scenes, songs, a featurette, and the story meeting.

Buy Lady and the Tramp on 2 disc Blu-Ray or 3 disc Blu-Ray.

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DVDs for January 17, 2012

The Ides of March

I don’t like George Clooney or Ryan Gosling or politics, so you’ll understand if I’m not falling all over myself to tell you to see this movie. It’s a political drama (not really a thriller, despite the trailer music) about a young campaign staffer who is lured into stabbing “his” candidate in the back (which of course works out perfectly for the staffer… not). It’s sort of kind of vaguely calling back to Julius Caesar, but not in a way you’d really notice. If you’re into politics, by all means, rent it. You’ll probably like it. The rest of you… don’t bother.

Buy The Ides of March on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

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Abduction

This movie is an action thriller about a boy who discovers he was stolen from his original parents, so what do they put on the cover? Taylor Lautner standing around doing nothing. This is no doubt a calculated move to appeal to tween girls, because the fan club kids are the only people who would like this movie – it’s pretty crappy. I know the premise sounds interesting, but this movie is so riddled with cliches and bad logic that you’re better off reading The Face on the Milk Carton instead. Unless, of course, you’re a member of Team Jacob.

Buy Abduction on DVD or on Blu-Ray.
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Courageous

This movie should have a big red warning label on it: CAUTION! THIS MOVIE HAS A LOT OF GOD STUFF IN IT!! So that normal people who are expecting a heartwarming TV-movie style drama about some police officers who reconnect with their families don’t get annoyed when they’re stuck watching scenes of praying and bible groups instead. Because that’s what this movie is about. The cops find RELIGION first, and THEN they reconnect with their families. So for all you religious people out there: look! It’s a movie for you! Go rent it! The rest of you, steer clear.

Buy Courageous on DVD or on Blu-Ray.
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Redline

I usually try to avoid talking about Japanese animation on this blog, mostly because I don’t like it and therefore know almost nothing about it. However, there’s not much else coming out this week, so I’m stuck featuring Redline, an anime movie about a racing series in space (not to be confused with the OTHER Redline, a live action racing movie that is not in space). This one is kind of like if you took the F-Zero video game, removed the controller, and made it even crazier. You never know – if you’re a fan of anime and The Fast and the Furious movies, you might like it.

Buy Redline on DVD or on Blu-Ray.
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Breaking Dawn Part 1 Review

poster from the Summit Entertainment film Breaking Dawn Part 1

I am no fan of the Twilight series. I did, however, rather like the last film, Eclipse, so I decided to give Breaking Dawn Part 1 (or if you want to be proper about it The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1) a fair chance. I wouldn’t have chosen to give it a fair chance on the weekend of my birthday, but I guess we all have to suck it up and make sacrifices at some point in the name of increased website traffic. Now, the plot blurb for Breaking Dawn Part 1 is rather exciting:


A human girl marries a vampire and quickly finds herself pregnant with fast-growing hybrid that is slowly leeching the life out of her, making her and her “abomination” a target for the local werewolf pack.

A vampire-human hybrid monster eating it’s mother from the inside out like a baby Ebola virus? Enormous, vicious wolves circling in for the kill? This is the stuff of nightmares. They could not possibly make a boring movie out of a setup like that. If you think this, you are wrong. Despite the exciting setup, Breaking Dawn Part 1 manages to be both boring and stupid. Twilight fans are now invited to send me angry emails that have no chance of changing my mind.

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Trailers for November 18, 2011

BREAKING DAWN PART 1



The same type of thing happened to Breaking Dawn, the longest book in Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight series, as happened to Deathly Hallows – it was split into two films, mostly to make more money. I have every expectation that this movie will be as boring and drawn out as Deathly Hallows Part 1, with the added bonus of the obvious chastity/teen marriage element making me want to puke. But of course I have to see it anyway, because that’s what everyone is going to be wanting to read a review about, which makes all of my criticism pointless (from the studio/publisher’s point of view) because I’m still spending money on it. Vote with your wallets, kids, and don’t go to this one!

HAPPY FEET 2



Happy Feet was the story of a penguin who didn’t fit in because all the other penguins were singers and he was a dancer. Now, one generation later, the whole penguin flock (Clan? Mob? Community?) has seemingly converted to dancing AND singing and the original character’s kid sucks at both and wants to…. what? Fly? This is significantly more difficult to achieve, on account of his power-to-weight ratio. He’ll have to build a hang glider or something. And kids, that “penguin who can fly” is not a penguin at all. It’s a puffin. I thought the last one way okay, though, so I’ll probably watch this one at some point. Just not eagerly.

THE SKIN I LIVE IN



Okay… what the hell? What is this movie even about? So there’s a guy who licks surveillance videos of other people, a lady in a beige body suit who apparently lives in an art gallery, a guy chained to the basement, and Antonio Banderas making skin in a petri dish and squirting him with a riot hose? And then a lady in a burn mask kicks him in the testicles. So of course he gets to carry a gun (this is an Antonio Banderas movie, after all), which scares a lady so bad she decides to start walking in the woods at night and going to museums to consult with party dresses. Who made this trailer and what drugs were they on? If the whole movie is like that… extra WTF.

THE WHALE



Oddly enough, the TV movie of this story seems to have come out long before the documentary. I remember hearing about it when I was living in Vancouver, and that was years ago. Cleverly, they set up the conflict between the people who wanted to be Luna’s friends and the people who take a hands-off approach to nature in the trailer, but didn’t give any hint as to who won in the end. Of course, you could watch the TV movie or you could look it up on Wikipedia, but it makes you just that little bit more likely to seek out and watch the documentary. I’d see it. I don’t even care if Ryan Reynolds is in it.

And in other news, the Cape Breton Film Series is showing Win Win. It’s a bland drama that’s sort of about high school wrestling which came out ages ago on DVD. Click here to see the trailer review and decide for yourself. The show is at 7pm on Thursday at the Empire Theaters in Sydney.

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Trailer Reviews for September 23, 2011

MONEYBALL



Call me crazy, but I actually do want to see this movie. And no, it’s not because it has Brad Pitt in it. I never really understood the whole “Brad Pitt” thing. And it’s definitely not because of Jonah Hill. I hate that guy. It’s not the baseball factor, either. It’s the world’s second most boring game (golf is #1). Could it be because of… math? After barely scraping by second year calculus in college (thanks, Jenny) I thought I was done with math, but there’s really nothing else it could be. I just want to see them make a baseball team with math. Me wanting to see a math movie may actually be a sign of the apocalypse. Call the National Guard, I think the world is about to end.

ABDUCTION



Ah, and so it begins – the attempts to cash in on the popularity of Twilight by hiring its lead actors to be in unimaginative genre films that will go straight to the $5 bin upon their release on DVD. I’m actually surprised that they waited this long. The idea behind the film isn’t too bad (it’s ripped off of The Face on the Milk Carton, a popular YA book) but the execution… so bad. You can tell just from the trailer. “Sometimes I feel different” (no sh** Sherlock, you’re a teenager) “Why would my picture end up on a missing persons website” (um, because you’re a missing person?) Apparently they didn’t think to include his NAME on said website, if he’s asking for it a few seconds later (in a flat, blank way characteristic of bad actors). Even the title is bad: “there’s an abduction in it, let’s just call it Abduction.” No thank you.

DOLPHIN TALE



Hee hee, it’s clever because it’s called Dolphin Tale and it’s about a dolphin’s tail! Get it? In all seriousness, though, I will probably see this movie because I have a crippling weakness for cute kids and cuddly animals. It’s like Free Willy, only a dolphin, and the story is true. Winter the dolphin even plays herself! Also, it’s not from the 1990s, which means a blessed lack of neon outfits and Jason James Richter. Those Blind Side people made this movie, though, so it’s probably going to make everyone cry. Just putting that out there in case you’re one of those parental units who feel like they have to spirit their children out of the theater at the faintest suggestion of sadness. Stick around and see the happy ending instead.

AFGHAN LUKE



In the beginning of the trailer, I was interested. I thought it would be one of those journalist expose movies about tracking down difficult truths in wartime, but funny. And then it took a left turn into nuttytown and I was like “… what?” When I saw that it was made by the Trailer Park Boys people, I finally understood what was going on. Or rather, I understood that the people who made this movie had no idea what was going on. Seriously, from watching this trailer it’s obvious that they can’t even decide whether they’re making a point or not. Serious moments, ridiculous moments, all combined into a confusing soup. At least Trailer Park Boys knew it was dumb. This movie thinks it’s smart. I doubt it is. After all, it was made by the Trailer Park Boys guy.

KILLER ELITE



“You and I got a lot in common.” It’s true, they’re both unattractive British actors who star in a lot of terrible action movies. And they both look stupid with facial hair. Oh, and let’s add Robert DeNiro into the mix for extra unattractiveness and cliches. And just so everyone knows it’s riddled with cliches, let’s throw in some cheesy one liners: “This guy is good!” “You have no idea!” “The gloves are off!” “This ends today!” This trailer gives no indication as to what the story is about, so I have to assume there isn’t one. It’s just a two hour montage of terrible mustachioed one-liners and things exploding. It’s supposed to be based on a true story, but this does not seem like the type of story that gets around, if you know what I mean. As in: no witnesses live to tell the tale of how half the city got destroyed.

And in other news, the Cape Breton Film Series is showing Jane Eyre. It’s an excellent adaptation of one of my favorite classic books. It’s already out on DVD, but if you want to see it on the big screen you can go to the Empire Theaters in Sydney this Thursday evening at 7pm. Click here to see my trailer review of it. I recommend seeing it and THEN re-reading the book. It really enhances the experience.

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DVDs for September 13, 2011

Thor

Thor is a comic book movie about a Norse god turned superhero who gets banished to Earth for his arrogance. It’s part Shakespearean style drama, part hilarious fish out of water comedy. It’s also more science fictiony than most comic book fantasies (they actually use the words “Einstein Rosen Bridge”). I just love it – almost as much as I loved the first Iron Man. If you haven’t seen it, do. Even if you’re not a comic book fan, there may be enough mythology and drama in there to keep you from rolling your eyes until they fall out. You can check out my full review before you decide if you want.

Buy Thor on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

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Love Wedding Marriage

If you want to see one of the background vampires from Twilight acting (badly) alongside Mandy Moore in a bland, tired romantic comedy, this is the movie for you! Mandy Moore plays a relationship counselor who stoops to scheming to get her own parents back together when they separate and ends up ruining her own relationship (or rather almost ruining it, as romantic comedies are required by law to have happy endings). It’s pretty ridiculous in a parent-trap for grown-ups sort of way, so I’d think twice about choosing this one for date night… or any night, really, unless you’re a rabid Twilight fan, in which case you need help.

Buy Love Wedding Marriage on DVD or on Blu-Ray.
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Hesher

Sometimes, for whatever reason, famous actors decided to slum it and be in films like this. Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays a drugged up burnout loser who wrecks things, Natalie Portman plays a nerd in a dead end job who likes him for no reason, Rainn Wilson plays a depressed, scuzzy dad, and there’s a little kid who just lost his mom tossed in there to make all their flailing about seem meaningful. It’s not enjoyable to watch and it’s not exactly original, either, so I fail to see the point of its existence. Maybe rent it if you’re a fan of one of the above actors or if you want to be depressed after your movie night, but otherwise don’t bother.

Buy Hesher on DVD or on Blu-Ray.
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Incendies

Yes, I know it’s in French and you don’t want to spend you precious screen time reading, but it’s a really good movie. It’s about a Quebec brother and a sister whose mother dies and tells them in her will that they have a secret sibling in the Middle East. So they go over there trying to retrace her steps and end up digging up a lot of explosive stuff (sometimes literally – this is the Middle East, after all) about the family they never knew. The result is a movie that’s won a bunch of awards. You should give it a chance as long as you’re cool with some heavy subject matter.

Buy Incendies on DVD or on Blu-Ray.
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DVDs for June 14, 2011

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Red Riding Hood

I’ve you’ve ever read the Little Red Riding Hood fairy tale and wished it could be more like Twilight, then this is the movie for you. It’s a stylistically dark story set in something like 700 AD of a girl with a sullen boyfriend, an angsty suitor, and a werewolf which may or may not be her grandmother trying to chow down on her town. It’s actually pretty mysterious if you can get past the ridiculously stylized sets, occasional nonsensical plot points, and annoyingly broody boyfriends. You can read my full review here.

Buy Red Riding Hood on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

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Battle: Los Angles

It’s been a while since an alien invasion movie has hit the shelves… and by a while I mean it’s been a few hours. It’s tough to stand out in a genre that already has so many titles in it, so it’s no surprise that Battle: Los Angeles doesn’t. It’s a fairly standard Black Hawk Down style war movie about a group of soldiers mounting a rescue in a city at war, the only difference is that instead of Somali warlords or Iraqi terrorists they’re fighting against aliens. It’s not as good as Independence Day, but at least it’s better than Skyline. Rent it if you have a perverse desired to see Los Angeles leveled.

Buy Battle: Los Angeles on DVD or on Blu-Ray.
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Hall Pass

There’s a sequel out to The Hangover, but with it being an almost word-for-word remake of the original, you may get more satisfaction out of watching Hall Pass instead. It’s a movie about two idiots who get a week off of being married and try (mostly unsuccessfully) to get with everything in sight. It’s not up to the level of the original Hangover, and it definitely ranks low down on the list of top Farrelly Brothers comedies, but it’s less of a phone in job than the Hangover sequel. Rent it if you’re too misogynistic to go see Bridesmaids instead.

Buy Hall Pass on DVD or on Blu-Ray.


Big Mommas: Like Father Like Son

No one knows how to milk the tiniest smidgen of success like Martin Lawrence. He’s turned a surprisingly funny film into a terrifically unfunny franchise, and now he’s dragged Brandon Jackson (the promising young actor who wanted to hook up with Lance Bass in Tropic Thunder) down with him. In this latest incarnation, an FBI (which must stand for Federal Bureau of Idiocy in this universe, since they’ve kept a Martin Lawrence character on staff for so long) agent turned fat suit cross dresser needs his son’s help to infiltrate an all girls college as part of a murder investigation.

Buy Big Mommas: Like Father Like Son on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

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