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Need for Speed Review

poster from the Walt Disney Pictures film Need for Speed

My brother and I were all set to see Grand Budapest Hotel this weekend. Then I opened up the theater schedule and the only new movie playing was Need for Speed. In 3D. While I don’t hate cars (Top Gear is one of my favorite shows) I do hate dumb things. And this movie is based on a video game with no actual people in it.

A street racer jailed on a false manslaughter charge drives a one of a kind car across the country to defeat the real killer in a secret street race.

With the plot and character motivations tenuous at best, the real reason to watch Need for Speed is the cars. Though it does feature non-CGI race action and European supercars like the Bugatti Veyron, Lamborghini Elemento, and Koenigsegg Agera, it’s a shame that the star of this movie is a boring old Ford Mustang (GT500). For that we can probably blame sponsorship and the fact that the movie is American.

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Trailer Reviews for March 14, 2014

NEED FOR SPEED

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No. Nope. Nuh uh. If I want to oogle expensive cars, I’ll watch Top Gear. At least those guys are funny. What I will not do is watch another terrible video game adaptation starring a guy who has that same dopey look as Deputy Dewey from Scream. Also, that stunt with the helicopter was a whole lot more hilarious in my head, where the chains just ripped off the car bumper and those two idiots plunged to the bottom of the canyon in a big dumb fireball.

ENEMY

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Directed by the Prisoners guy or not, this looks slow and boring. I’m only mildly curious about why there are two guys who look the same and I feel like the answer to the puzzle is some kind of spaced-out metaphor that would just piss me off anyway. So no way.

THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL

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I have kind of a love/hate relationship with Wes Anderson films. I love The Life Aquatic and Fantastic Mr. Fox but I hated The Darjeeling Limited (too depressing, not funny enough). This one looks to be more on the goofy side of things, so I’ll see it.

VERONICA MARS

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Ah yes, the Kickstarter movie the Veronica Mars fans funded when they couldn’t accept the cancellation of their beloved show. I never watched the TV show and I don’t live in one of the select cities this film will be playing in, but if you are/do, I hope you get your money’s worth out of it. I think it looks like Nancy Drew as written by Joss Whedon.

TYLER PERRY’S SINGLE MOM’S CLUB

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Tyler Perry invents babysitting?

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Ender’s Game Review

poster  from the Summit Entertainment film Enders Game
Apologies for the late review. I’ve been having problems with my home internet connection.

As a space-battle obsessed kid, I was a big fan of Ender’s Game. I even read the sequels, though most of them were too religious/political for my liking. Orson Scott Card’s opinions on religion and politics also threatened to ruin this movie because they pissed off potential ticket buyers.

To save humanity from a second alien invasion, a young prodigy trains to lead an attack fleet by playing war games.


If you’re are a fan of Ender’s Game or space battles but not a fan of Orson Scott Card’s opinions, you should know that boycotting the movie won’t hurt him. He was paid off for the rights long ago, so your money will go to the studio to encourage them to make more movies about space battles. Which they should, because this one is pretty awesome.

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DVDs for March 26, 2013

lincoln

Lincoln

Pretty much everything Daniel Day-Lewis touches these days turns to gold… or at least into golden awards, usually for himself. Lincoln, a historical biopic of President Lincoln’s struggle to abolish slavery before the end of the Civil War, was nominated for the best picture Oscar but lost to Argo. Lincoln is probably the more stereotypical ‘best picture’ movie, though. It’s two and a half hours long, incomprehensible to anyone with no prior knowledge of the topic, and consists mostly of slow moving scenes of people talking or making speeches. I’d take Argo over Lincoln any day.

Buy Lincoln on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

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parental guidance

Parental Guidance

If your family is getting together for the holidays this weekend and you want to put on something inoffensive to keep everyone from having to talk to each other too much, this would be a good choice. It involves all three generations of a family as the grandparents step in to look after the grandkids when the kids go away for work. Almost everyone will find something to identify with (high strung parents, bratty kids, inflexible grandparents, etc.) and almost no one will find anything really objectionable about it, as the most risque joke in the movie involves grandpa getting hit in the crotch.

Buy Parental Guidance on DVD or on Blu-Ray.
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killing them softly

Killing Them Softly

The title makes it seem like maybe people are smothered with pillows, but actually they spend a lot of time filling houses full of bullets. The storyline has to do with some dumb criminals robbing the mob’s card game and then getting chased around for the rest of the movie. Nobody in this film is really likeable or even redeemable so it’s a little hard to care when they get their asses shot off. There are a few quips and jokes here and they try to satirize American politics (how original) but it just comes off as insufferable and annoying. The pool of people who might actually like this movie is small.

Buy Killing Them Softly on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

empire strikes out

Lego Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Out

I’m a big Star Wars nerd and I own most of the Lego video games, but even I wouldn’t pay $12 for 22 minutes of content. The Empire Strikes Out is a cartoon TV special starring Lego characters satirizing The Empire Strikes Back. It’s cute and funny (funnier if you’re a Star Wars fan, obviously) but it’s also on YouTube, where you can watch it for free. Even including a Lego figure of Darth Vader with the DVD doesn’t make it worth the money. If you’ve got $12 to spend, go out and pluck one of the Lego video games out of a sale bin instead.

Buy Lego Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Out on DVD.

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DVDs for March 5, 2013

wreck it ralph

Wreck-It Ralph

I love Wreck-It Ralph. In fact, I rated it as one of my favorite movies of 2012. It features a video game villain who throws the arcade into chaos when he abandons his game and befriends a marginalized little girl in a racing game in his efforts to be a hero. Anyone who gamed in the 90s will find it nostalgically awesome while today’s kids should be sufficiently entertained by the Halo references and the lands made of candy. Rent it for the whole family or read my review for more.

Buy Wreck-It Ralph on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

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red dawn

Red Dawn

On the other side of the coin, we have the terrible modern remake of the also-terrible 80s film Red Dawn, where an off duty marine played by Chris Hemsworth must turn a bunch of whiny teenagers into a guerrilla squad after their town is invaded by North Korea. It only narrowly avoided making my ‘worst movies of 2013’ list by the skin of its Chris Hemsworth (Hey! Hotness can make up for a lot!) Unless you’re a huge fan of the original for some odd reason or you’re watching Chris Hemsworth’s backlist, there’s no reason to rent this movie. Read my review instead.

Buy Red Dawn on DVD or on Blu-Ray.
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playing for keeps

Playing for Keeps

Playing for Keeps can’t seem to decide what type of movie it wants to be. Is it a comedy about a washed up pro soccer player who gets roped into coaching a bunch of little kids? Yes, sort of. Is it a buddy movie about an immature, absentee dad who reconnects with his son? Yes, sort of. Is it a romantic comedy where a sexy ex-boyfriend steals his one true love away from her new fiance? Yes, sort of. It’s all these things, but not enough of each to make it really resonate, which is why it’s merely okay. Read my review for more.

Buy Playing for Keeps on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

intouchabes

Les Intouchables

Not a lot of people watch foreign language films, and that’s a shame, because some of them are really good. If you’re one of the people who assume that anything European is bound to be confusing and/or depressing, I challenge you to find anything confusing or depressing about Les Intouchables, a hilarious and heartwarming French film about a wealthy paralyzed man who hires a big, tough poor guy as his caretaker against everyone’s advice and he ends up pushing his boundaries and having a great time. Check it out!

Buy Les Intouchables on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

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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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DVDs for December 25, 2012

For those of you who are hanging out with your families and/or having dinners and parties today, HAPPY HOLIDAYS!

For those of you who are trying to shop for DVDs even though all the stores are closed, GOOD NEWS! There are actually some things coming out today. Here they are:

Looper

I know a lot of people who were blown away by Looper, but I’m not one of them. It’s a futuristic story about a hit man (Joseph Gordon-Levitt with unnecessary facial prosthetics) who kills people sent back in time by the mob. He’s supposed to shoot his older self (Bruce Willis) and doesn’t, meaning he has to chase the guy around while he’s on some vengeance mission against a little kid. As with many time travel movies, the plot kind of falls apart if you think about it too hard (read: at all), but otherwise it’s pretty decent. Check out my full review for more.

Buy Looper on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

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Justified Season 3

I don’t usually talk about TV shows, but there’s not a lot coming out on Christmas Day and I love Justified. It stars Timothy Olyphant as a US Marshal who gets in trouble in Miami and is sent back home to Kentucky to work with the local yokels and deal with all the gun toting homegrown terrorist maniac wife beater types (rural Kentucky: surprisingly not quiet). It’s pretty gritty and violent but it’s also really smart and different. Raylan the Marshal has tons of charm and badass Marshal skills, so if you don’t love him, there may be something wrong with you.

Buy Justified Season 3 on DVD or on Blu-Ray.
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Mass Effect: Paragon Lost

Have you been wondering what Freddie Prinze Jr. has been up to since the last of those 90s teen love stories has faded from memory? Yeah, me either, but here he is again, providing the voice for the random not-Shepard lieutenant who was in Mass Effect 3. He has to lead some troops against an alien invasion in this terrible straight to video anime movie based on the popular video games. Call me crazy, but I thought the appeal of this franchise was that you actually got to PARTICIPATE in space battles, not just watch them from the sidelines.

Buy Mass Effect: Paragon Lost on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

And that’s all, folks! There will be no trailer reviews this week because everything opens today, so I lumped them in with last week’s. Next article will be the Les Miserables review. See you then!

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Wreck It Ralph Review

poster from the Walt Disney Animation Studios film Wreck it Ralph

I played my first video game on the Commodore 64 my grandparents bought for us when I was five. It took me a while to wear my parents down, but eventually I managed to get a Nintendo for our house, followed by a Sega Genesis, a Super Nintendo, and so on. What I’m getting at is that I was a child of the gaming 90s, so when I saw how many of my favorite games had cameos in Wreck It Ralph, I just had to go. Though to be fair, the Disney story would have hooked me anyway.

A destructive bad guy in an arcade game longs for friends and praise, so he leaves his game to earn a hero’s medal in another, throwing the whole arcade into disarray.

As I suspected, though Wreck It Ralph is billed as a kids’ movie, the setting and characters are obviously geared toward the children of the 80s and 90s, who are now twenty and thirtysomethings with kids of their own. This doesn’t mean today’s kids won’t enjoy it, it just means that you can take your kids and everyone will have a great time.

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Trailer Reviews for November 2, 2012

WRECK IT RALPH



This movie’s setting reminds me of Reboot. Does anyone else remember that show? They lived in a computer and had to play as NPCs in games that descended on them out of nowhere or they died. It’s a little different, obviously, because they have their own games, but I like the idea of trying to get out of a life path that’s been set for you. Actually my Nanowrimo novel for this year has that theme too. Anyway, I love Disney movies, so I would have gone to this movie regardless, but I’m so pumped to see a bunch of my favorite video game characters! I was recognizing people all over the place – Sonic the Hedgehog, Bowser, PacMan, M.Bison, Q-bert…. they’ve even got Jane Lynch’s character as sort of a cross between Samus Aran and the Master Chief. I can’t wait!

FLIGHT



This movie is obviously based on that crash from 2009 that they call “Miracle on the Hudson” because the Captain, “Sully” Sullenberger, managed to land an airbus on the water without sinking or breaking apart and everyone was calling him a hero, saying no one else could have pulled it off. With, obviously, the twist that “the man” is trying to get not-Sully in trouble for being drunk or something so Denzel Washington can get mad and yell at everyone (it seems to be his trademark). It sounds like an interesting story – I might have seen it if Wreck It Ralph wasn’t also opening this week. But there’s one thing that bothers me – they show Whittaker rolling the plane… how in the hell would that possibly be required for a landing? Were they half rolled over and they only had the one aileron so they had to keep going? It just doesn’t seem very logical.

THE MAN WITH THE IRON FISTS



Okay… what is this movie even about? Besides flying severed eyeballs and blood spatter? So there are a bunch of people… and they’re in what looks like a brothel… and there’s some money in a box… and everyone wants the money… so they kill each other for it. And then Colossus from the X-Men shows up… and does… something. This is what the movie looks like to me. A pointless exercise in sex and violence. At least when Tarantino does his own films he’s generally got some sort of a point (revenge, more revenge, lots of revenge, etc.) but this just has nothing. I don’t mind blood and violence if there’s a story or a message or something, but I don’t want to watch it for it’s own sake. I’m skipping this one.

THE SESSIONS



I saw the words “poignant autobiographical writings” and “poet” in the blurb and went: oh no, this movie is going to be boring, pointless, and pretentious. And then I watched the trailer. I was immediately hooked when I found out he was paralyzed and then he cracked me up with all his snappy dialogue. So I’d like to see this movie. I’m especially interested to see how this guy carries a whole performance lying prone. I suspect there’s more great dialogue.

Also, if you’re in Sydney on Thursday, November 1 at 7pm you can catch the Cape Breton Film Series showing of Les Intouchables, a cute French comedy/drama about a paralyzed guy and his badass assistant. You can check out the trailer review here.

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Trailer Reviews for October 26, 2012

CLOUD ATLAS



Man, I really want to see this movie. It reminds me a lot of Tomorrow and Tomorrow, an awesome sci-fi book by Charles Sheffield about a man who puts himself and his wife (who has a terminal disease) into cryosleep and keeps being woken up over and over in different (crazy) periods of future history without getting to cure his wife. Obviously it’s not EXACTLY like that because there’s a song and they’re being reincarnated or something, but still, it’s really cool looking. The Wachowski brothers’ involvement could be either a good thing (see The Matrix) or a bad thing (see The Matrix Reloaded), so this movie will either turn out to be epically awesome or pretentious and confusing. I’d love to find out this week, but I’m going to be away, so it will have to wait. Possibly a long time.

CHASING MAVERICKS



Crap! What a weekend to be away! I want to see this movie too. I have a secret weakness for surfing movies even though I would probably be the worst surfer ever due to my lack of balance and (completely healthy) fear of water walls the size of apartment buildings. Anyway – I went to see Soul Surfer because I wanted an inspiring surfing story, but I was put off by all the god stuff. Maybe this movie will be what I was expecting. Inspiring without being, well, preachy. Plus it’ll be awesome to see those huge waves on screen. Gotta love modern movemaking. They can stick a camera just about anywhere (and get it back again… that’s the important part).

FUN SIZE



This movie has the same plot as A Very Harold and Kumar Christmas – the part where they lose the baby. But it’s set during Halloween so at least it can corner the holiday market (kinda like Harold and Kumar Christmas). This movie hits all the necessary teen genre points – teens who look like they’re in their late 20s (it’s not far off – Thomas McDonnell, who plays the hot boy, is 26), obligatory Converse sneaker plugs, desperate acts committed in the name of attracting the attention of those more popular, and “nerds” who actually do things for fun instead of committing the aforementioned desperate acts. Slap some Halloween costumes on it, call the Homecoming party a Halloween party, and you’ve got a Halloween movie! (no thanks)

SILENT HILL REVELATION



The Silent Hill video games are known for their quietly horrifying atmosphere which morphs, by the end of the game, into a bat-poo crazy fever dream featuring living banana peels and people with triangles for heads. This movie looks like it’s following suit, though this time I started off feeling confused because the main character is apparently not Michelle Williams and Sean Bean is her father, not her husband (NOT the impression I got, but whatever). Her “father” disappears, she goes to a quiet, creepy town, but soon there are mystical symbols and cults and people with triangles for heads. Personally, I’d find it scarier if they dispensed with all the triangles and cults and kept on with the snow and ash in the empty town.

THE PAPERBOY



Let me just start out by saying that no, this movie has nothing to do with the Nintendo game we all played as kids. I know. I was disappointed too. I thought Zac Efron would be the logical choice for the pixelated kid on the bike. But I digress. Let’s talk about THIS movie now. First off – ew. Those shorts? Just ew. Secondly – OMG, DANNY!! I’ve missed you since that horrible thing we shall not speak of happened to you on MI-5 (Spooks if you’re British). The trailer starts off like one of those Erin Brockovich type movies where some do-gooder civilians are righting a wrong, but it quickly devolved into sordidness and then they give away the ending by telling us that not only is Hillary out of jail, but he’s also a psycho killer. Thanks. Now I don’t have to bother going to the movie.

Also, if you’re in Sydney on Thursday, October 26 at 7pm you can catch the Cape Breton Film Series showing of Laurence Anyways a Quebec film about a man who struggles to keep his family and his girlfriend after he decides to live life as a woman. You can check out the trailer on their website.

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