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Red Riding Hood Review

poster from the Warner Bros. film Red Riding Hood

Everyone has heard the story of little red riding hood. In it, a young girl sets out to bring food to her grandma in the woods and is too thick to immediately recognize that she’s actually in the presence of a talking wolf, whereupon she is either eaten or chased around a bit before being rescued by a handsome woodsman depending on how badly your parents wanted you to be traumatized. The moral of the story is never bring food to your grandmother, so Warner Bros. banked on the fact that since no one is bringing food to their grandmothers, everyone would have enough time to see a movie version of this classic story:

A young woman caught between two suitors becomes the center of controversy when it turns out that someone in their village is a murderous werewolf.

Okay, so it’s not really the story our parents told us. It’s more like the gruesome old-timey version that’s been tweaked to appeal to the Twilight crowd, what with the two suitors and how one of them may or may not be a werewolf. In fact, the only real similarities between the movie and story we were all told is that the main character wears a red cape and has a grandmother. So really, it’s just another movie. The question is: is it a good one? The answer: yeah, mostly.

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Trailer Reviews for March 11, 2011

Releasing this weekend: Battle: Los Angeles, Red Riding Hood, Mars Needs Moms, Cedar Rapids, The Extraordinary Adventures of Adele Blanc-Sec, and the Cape Breton Film series is showing Inside Job.

BATTLE: LOS ANGELES



Okay, so do the aliens really sing lullabies in Wall-E filter-voice or is that just a gimmick they made up in order to have some contrast in the trailer? Because from the visuals, this whole movie looks like just one big battle (hence the title, I suppose). Kind of like Independence Day, but without all that pesky talking. Or like Skyline, period. Come to think of it, why did they feel it necessary to make this movie? The trailer gives no hint of any factor that might indicate it has anything new and different to offer, so I am forced to conclude that it doesn’t. It’s the same alien invasion movie as always, except this time starring Aaron Eckhart and the aliens from Space: Above and Beyond (remember that show?)

RED RIDING HOOD



So this is like the 1300s, but she’s dating a boy who looks like he stepped off the cast poster for Twilight? Give me a break. (I’m guessing that’s the director’s influence) This seems like a pretty cool setup for a thriller/horror/mystery type story – there’s a werewolf and it’s someone in town. It’s kind of like one of those Agatha Christie whodunnits where they’re all cloistered in Lord So-And-So’s country house. I don’t see how it’s related to the fairy tale of little red riding hood, apart from the fact that Amanda Seyfried has a red cape on and it’s got a hood. Is the wolf going to pretend to be her grandmother? Is she going to bring it cakes in a picnic basket? I might be intrigued enough to actually pay for a ticket in order to find out.

MARS NEEDS MOMS



Ugh, Disney, what were you thinking? Everything about this movie just drips with lameness. There’s not one line of dialogue in this whole trailer that didn’t make me cringe, and they probably cut in their BEST lines to draw people in! They actually used the words “butt blasters.” Make no mistake – this isn’t a family movie, like Wall-E or How to Train Your Dragon, where there are jokes and themes that adults AND kids can relate to. This is a straight-up kids’ movie of the kind that make parents groan and wish they were somewhere else. So if your kid is begging to see this movie, find some poor unsuspecting relation to foist them off on. You can call it bonding time.

CEDAR RAPIDS



I’m still trying to figure out how my least favorite Saturday Night Live actor became a big mainstream comedy movie star. Personally, I blame The Hangover. Ever since then Ed Helms has been everywhere, and I don’t like it. I don’t think he’s funny. I’m not a particular fan of John C. Reilly, either, at least not as a leading comedy man. I like him in a subsidiary role, like in Talladega Nights. But alas, I hardly ever get what I want, and sometimes I get the total opposite of what I want. Which is pretty much what this movie is: an awkward, old nerd comedy starring two of the ranking names on my “least funny comedy actors” list. Oh well. At least no one’s forcing me to see it.

THE EXTRAORDINARY ADVENTURES OF ADELE BLANC-SEC



If you couldn’t tell from that babble at the end of the trailer, this is a French movie (a French-Quebec movie, not a French-France movie, as evidenced by the fact that it is not fractured and/or incredibly depressing). Therefore, it will probably only be playing in theaters in French areas, and perhaps later on in subtitle-o-vision in the tiny theaters in English areas. It is unlikely that I will come across an English copy before the DVD comes out, which is a shame, because it looks really cool. Adventure, pterodactyls, early 20th Centuryness… like a kids’ book, but in movie form, and for grown-ups. I’d go.

And then there’s Inside Job. The film series missed the boat on that one, as it’s already out on DVD (I talked about it in the post before this one), but if you want to see it on the big screen, Thursday night at 7pm is your last chance. Check out my trailer review to see if you find it interesting enough to go.

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DVD Releases for November 30, 2010

Twilight Saga: Eclipse

This is the unnecessarily long-named third movie adaptation of Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight series, the first two being Twilight and New Moon. It’s about an ordinary girl with a vampire boyfriend and a werewolf almost boyfriend and a psycho vampire enemy sending armies of other vampires after her. It stars Robert Pattinson, Kristen Stewart, and Taylor Lautner, whose faces adorn every issue of Tiger Beat magazine. I am a notorious non-fan of the Twilight series, so it may surprise you to learn that I actually like this movie. Read the full review to find out why this does not mean the Earth is about to fall into the sun.

Buy Twilight Saga: Eclipse on DVD or on Blu-Ray

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The Sorcerer’s Apprentice

If you saw the Harry Potter movies and wished they were lamer, more American, and filled with annoying and/or awful actors, then this is the movie for you. Jay Baruchel plays a NYC college physics student, Nicholas Cage plays a greasy man who can do magic. Saving of the world ensues. It’s not so aggressively bad that it wouldn’t be good to rent if you were bored and wanted to watch a bit of mindless action, but don’t expect anything clever. Most of the cool stuff is ripped off of other (better) movies. Even kids, who have notoriously low standards, won’t be terribly impressed. You can read my full review of it here.

Buy The Sorcerer’s Apprentice on DVD or on Blu-Ray.


Going the Distance

It’s not often you find a romantic comedy that you won’t have to force your male of choice to watch on pain of death. This is one of those movies. It’s about a couple played by Justin Long and Drew Barrymore, who try not to fall in love but do anyway and end up having to suffer through a long distance relationship. It leans more to the ‘hilarious comedy’ end of the spectrum than the ‘sap-tacular romance’ end, and the two main characters have really lovable, funny friends. This is a great movie to rent when you’re having some friends or a boyfriend over. You can read my full review here .

Buy Going the Distance on DVD or on Blu-Ray.


Knight and Day

Tom Cruise is crazy. That’s something we can all agree on, but it doesn’t stop this movie from being totally, totally awesome. It’s in the same vein as Killers: an action comedy where an ordinary woman gets dragged into a bunch of spy action by some random guy she met, but it’s way better. It’s got a plot that makes sense, clever action stunts, funny writing, and Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz are great. I thoroughly enjoyed it, and I bet you will too if you have any appreciation for action movies and comedies. Click here to read my review, which will give you five good reasons to see this movie.

Buy Knight and Day on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

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DVDs for November 16, 2010

Avatar Collector’s Edition

Though it was released as a bare-bones DVD last April, this is the edition that Avatar fans (and also me) have been waiting for. It’s got the theatrical and re-released versions with the sixteen extra minutes (including the character-establishing beginning part). It’s also got 45 minutes of deleted scenes, plus documentaries and production footage. The only thing it doesn’t have is 3D, but that’s ok because my TV can’t show it anyway. Buy the Blu-Ray, because it’s got more on it. If you’re not familiar with Avatar, it’s a space movie by James Cameron about blue aliens and it stars Sam Worthington and Zoe Saldana. You can read more about it in my review here.

Buy Avatar on Blu-Ray or on DVD

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The Last Airbender

Adapted from a Japanese animated series also ironically called Avatar, The Last Airbender is about how a young boy who can control all the elements gets embroiled in a war. It’s pretty much universally hated, so I can’t really recommend it. Fans of the show complain about how much it changes from the TV series, and people coming to it fresh complain about how boring it is that everything is in slo-mo ballet-o-vision when it’s supposed to be a fantasy action movie. If you’re a fanboy or fangirl, however, you might be interested to know that Jackson Rathbone (Jasper from Twilight) and Dev Patel (Jamal from Slumdog Millionaire) are in it and that it was directed by M. Night Shyamalan.

Buy The Last Airbender on DVD or on Blu-Ray.


Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore

This is a sequel to the popular 2001 film Cats & Dogs, which I thought was hilarious, even if it was pretty goony and the special effects sometimes looked fake. The sequel solves the effects problem and is still as goony as ever, but it managed to attract people like James Marsden, Bette Midler, and Roger Moore to do voices, so it’s got that going for it. Plot wise, it’s like X2: X-Men United because the cats and dogs who have traditionally been at odds (the cats are evil, of course) have to team up. Rent it for the kids, but don’t expect too much. The Blu-Ray version even comes in 3D.

Buy Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore on DVD or on Blu-Ray.


The Kids Are Alright

Ah ha! And here you were thinking there weren’t going to be any really original and intelligent movies this week! But you were wrong, because The Kids Are Alright is coming to DVD. No it has nothing to do with The Who. If you haven’t heard about it, it’s a very funny and engaging dramedy about a pair of kids with two moms who go looking for their sperm donor dad and the merry havoc his presence wreaks on their carefully ordered lives. It’s not just entertaining but relevant, considering there’s a woman in BC trying to force sperm clinics to hand over their records to kids born of artificial insemination. It stars Julianne Moore, Annette Benning, and Mark Ruffalo.

Buy The Kids Are Alright on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

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DVD Releases for October 5, 2010


The Karate Kid

I was really disappointed that I didn’t get to see this one in theaters, because unlike a lot of remakes it actually looked good. The five million credited producers (which include star Jaden Smith’s parents) recognized that the people who like martial arts movies these days are either 25+ or 10, and wisely downgraded the hero’s age (he was a teen in the 1984 version). Okay, so it’s not so much Karate as Kung Fu, because they’re in China, not Japan, but Jaden Smith is cute, Jackie Chan is funny, and it’s a decent “new kid on the continent” story that kids will like and adults can actually stomach. So try it.

Buy The Karate Kid on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

Splice

What a ridiculous movie. Let’s break the law and genetically engineer a part human monster! And then be surprised when it escapes! And is vicious! And wants to go to the prom like a real girl…(WHAT??) It’s like Resident Evil crossed with Pinocchio. Adrian Brody’s in it, but I think that’s more like evidence that he needs money to pay off his back taxes rather than evidence that the movie is actually good. Not goot sci-fi, not good horror, this is a movie I wouldn’t even watch on TV if I was trapped in a blank room for days unless somebody was paying me to make fun of it (I’ll accept Visa, Mastercard, or candy).

Buy Splice on DVD or on Blu-Ray.


A Nightmare on Elm Street

If you’ve ever seen one of the Elm St. movies, you know the drill. Scary man, burned face, scratchy fingernails, haunts your dreams, and then you die. Solution: don’t go to sleep. Horror movie fans will want to see this (if they haven’t already), as will people who like Jackie Earle Haley in The Watchmen and anyone who’s obsessed with Twilight, because the kid who plays Emmett is in it. Less psychological and more slasher, this is an even more ADD version than the original series from the 1980s. Don’t expect anything Earth shaking, obviously, but it’s good for a few scares.

Buy A Nightmare on Elm Street on DVD or on Blu-Ray.


Beauty and the Beast

I know it’s not exactly a new movie, but I thought I’d mention that Beauty and the Beast is out of the Disney vault. The Disney vault is a stupid gimmick but you can’t deny that Disney makes good cartoons. Beauty and the Beast has great music, cute characters (the little teacup!), a heartwarming love story, and a great message (real beauty is on the inside, etc.) So if, like me, you still have your scratchy VHS copy but no VCR, you can now pick up a shiny new 3-disc copy on DVD or Blu-Ray and pretend it’s for your kid when really it’s for you.

Buy Beauty and the Beast on Blu-Ray/DVD Combo.

TV seasons out this week:

Bones: Season 5 (Bones is probably my favorite show on television. Booth and Brennan are crime fighters with great chemistry… which they actually succumb to [briefly] in Season 5.)
Caprica: Season 1.0 (I’m a HUGE Battlestar Galactica fan but I never got past the pilot of this prequel series. It’s just not as good.)
Medium: Season 6 (I like the premise – psychic medium gets messages from the dead and helps cops – but my plate is already full of cop + random profession shows.)
Stargate Universe – Season 1 (Stargate was an amazing movie, but none of the spinoff series ever did anything for me, least of all this one. I don’t know anyone who watches it.)

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New DVDs for August 24th

The Backup Plan

The Backup Plan is a romantic comedy about a woman (Jennifer Lopez) who meets a guy (Alex O’Laughlin) just after she gets inseminated. Hijinks ensue (naturally), people slip on placentas, and there are plenty of jokes about how pregnancy makes you fat. In other words, it’s a highly intelligent and sympathetic look at a very real issue and… I’m sorry, I can’t continue with that sentence, even sarcastically. The Backup Plan is a shallow turbo romantic comedy that stampedes toward resolution like a fright train to weddingtown. Rent it if you like that sort of thing (or if you have a crush on Alex O’Laughlin) but otherwise I wouldn’t bother.

Buy The Backup Plan on DVD or on Blu-Ray.


Dorian Gray

Dorian Gray is a period horror movie about a really hot guy (Ben Barnes) who’s cursed to stay really hot forever (Some curse, eh? L’Oreal has been trying to develop a cream form of it for ages) and his mentor/guy he wants revenge on (Colin Firth). I haven’t seen it. It was one of the ones that slipped through the cracks. It looks good, though. Romance, scaryness, and it’s British so we can pretty much assume everything was well done. Rent it. I am.

Buy Dorian Gray on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

George A. Romero’s Survival of the Dead

George A. Romero is one of those guys that just never stops (kind of like a zombie!). Survival of the Dead is the latest installment of his “of the Dead” series. It’s about a bunch of guys (Alan Van Sprang, Devin Bostick) who try to find refuge on a supposedly zombie-free island and find (surprise!) zombies. The island is supposedly off the coast of Delaware, but I guess it’s REALLY off the coast, because the bit players are all Irish. They’ve gone back to shambling, funny zombies from their brief foray into running, scary zombies, and have also gone back to the fakey looking blood splatter graphics. Rent it if you wish it was still the 1980s.

Buy George A. Romero’s Survival of the Dead on DVD or on Blu-Ray.


The Bad Mother’s Handbook

The Bad Mother’s Handbook has actually been around for a few years, but they’re only now releasing it in North America because Robert Pattinson is popular. Despite the fact that he’s front and center on the box, he’s not the star of the movie. The Bad Mother’s Handbook is about a teenager (Holly Grainger) who gets pregnant and ends up with a closer relationship to her crappy mom (Catherine Tate) because of it. Robert Pattinson plays the boy who helps her while her mom’s still being a twat. It’s funny and heartwarming – I really like it. And Robert Pattinson does actual acting in it (who knew he was capable?). Rent it even if you’re not a Twihard.

Buy The Bad Mother’s Handbook on DVD.

TV seasons out this week: Lost Season 6: The Final Season, NCIS: Season 7, Gossip Girl: Season 3, and The Simpsons: Season 13 (God, won’t that show just end already?).

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Magical Powers: Poll

The Sorcerer’s Apprentice might be Disney’s attempt to capitalize on the immense popularity of the Harry Potter series, but J.K. Rowling is not the first person who has ever used magic in a story. Writers and filmmakers have been telling stories about magic for centuries because we all wish we were more than ordinary – that we could use magic. If given the choice, most people would jump on the opportunity to use magic. But what if you couldn’t emulate Gandalf and Harry Potter and have a wealth of fantastical powers. What if you could only have one?

Which magical power would you choose to have?

View Results

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Twilight Saga: Eclipse Review

the poster from the Summit Entertainment film Eclipse

As you will know, if you have been reading this blog for any length of time, I am not a fan of the Twilight books. This puts me in a group that represents approximately .0001% of the female population, most of the rest of whom live in caves or can’t read. And yet I not only went to see The Twilight Saga: Eclipse (unnecessarily long title, much?) but am now reviewing it. Has the world gone mad? Well, yes, but that’s not why I did it. I did it because I’m a movie reviewer, and Eclipse is a movie.

For those of you who are in the caves portion of the .0001%, here is what Eclipse is about:

Bella, a human girl, has to get her boyfriend Edward and his vampire clan to co-operate with her almost-other-boyfriend Jacob and his wolf pack in order to fight off an army of evil vampires.

See? As a movie it sounds not awful. This is because there were actually some decent ideas in the Twilight books that were dragged down by poor execution. (Speaking of executions, I’d better say goodbye now before the Twilight fan club shows up at my door to lynch me for the previous statement). Any half decent screenwriter should have been able to extract these ideas and turn them into a pretty good movie.

So let’s see how Eclipse’s director (David Slade) and screenwriter (Melissa Rosenberg) did.

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Aussie Doppelgangers

My friend Ashley Seely has a theory that everyone has a Dutch doppelganger. She came to this conclusion because she’s living in the Netherlands and she keeps seeing Dutch people who look exactly like people she knows from home. I was inclined to doubt her theory until I watched the Australian surfing film Newcastle and I realized the truth: not only is she right, but her theory doesn’t go deep enough. If Canadians have Dutch doppelgangers, then Americans have their long lost twins in Australia.

I present the following as evidence.

The lead characters in Newcastle are a group of five teenage boys. Their names are Jesse, Fergus, Nathan, Scotty, and Andy. But their names aren’t important. It’s their faces. Three out of the five of them are the spitting image of actors I’d seen in different American films, all made at different times.

Observe:

This is Jesse from Newcastle, played by Lachlan Buchanan.

This is ALSO Jesse, but from Free Willy, played by Jason James Richter.

VERDICT: Lachlan Buchanan looks more like the grown up version of Jason James Richter than the actual grown up version of Jason James Richter.

This is Andy from Newcastle, played by Kirk Jenkins

This is Dylan, from Zoom: Academy for Superheroes, played by Michael Cassidy.

VERDIT: Separated by birth in a time machine accident, which explains why Michael Cassidy is several years older than Kirk Jenkins.

This is Nathan from Newcastle, played by Ben Milliken

This is Robert Pattinson, who plays Edward in the Twilight movies.

VERDICT: I’d say that Dan Castle (director of Newcastle picked Ben Milliken specifically because he looked like Mr. Famous Vampy Guy, except Robert Pattinson was a nobody when they would have been casting for Newcastle.

Initially I thought that my recognition reflex was kicking in because I’d seen these specific boys somewhere before and I just couldn’t think of where. It’s annoying when that happens, but at least you can look it up on IMDB. There is nothing more frustrating than discovering the person you recognize actually looks like someone ELSE you recognize from a movie you can’t remember, because there’s no connection to follow except the one in your head. You HAVE to remember. I had a tough time with Andy, let me tell you. (It was remembering the superhero costume that did it).

Anyway, it’s crazy enough to start finding Australian doppelgangers of Americans (except Pattinson, he’s British), but to find three of them in the same movie is downright creepy. Is there an Australian walking around out there with your face??

Imagine you’re on vacation in Sydney and all of a sudden, BAM! It’s you, but not! How crazy would that be?

Anyway I’ll save the Newcastle review for another time, but if you absolutely MUST see the amazing Aussie look-alikes NOW, you can get the Newcastle DVD here.

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Trailer Reviews for the Weekend of July 2nd, 2010

There are two big movies coming out this weekend… well, I say “coming out” in the sense that they’ve already come out because they were too impatient to wait for the actual weekend. Twilight: Eclipse had teenage girls lining up for in on Wednesday morning and The Last Airbender (formerly Avatar: The Last Airbender but they dropped the “Avatar” part so they wouldn’t be confused with James Cameron’s blue thing) premieres tonight. Making their appearances on the actual weekend will be Solitary Man and the limited release of The Girl Who Played With Fire. Hopefully my trailer reviews will help you decide if any of them are worth your time.
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