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DVDs for September 25, 2012

The Avengers

I’m in the minority here (I may even get yelled at for saying this), but I think The Avengers is overrated. Sure you get to see snarky Iron Man, Captain America, Hulk, and Thor buddy up with two assassins and kick alien ass on a flying aircraft carrier, but the the alien invasion plot has been done to death recently, they spend an awful lot of time fighting amongst themselves, and the supervillain Loki is badly underused. I prefer the individual films, but that’s just me. You should watch it anyway. Read more about it here.

Buy The Avengers on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

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Batman: The Dark Knight Returns Part 1

Don’t get this confused with The Dark Knight Rises. That one stars Christian Bale. This one is a cartoon. However, that doesn’t mean you should run out and buy if for your six year old who loves Batman. Even though it looks like the 90s Batman animated series you remember, it’s actually based on a Frank Miller comic, which mean’s it’s loaded with brutal violence. The plot follows 50 year old Batman as he returns to fight crime after a ten year absence, so it’s kind of a little bit like Dark Knight Rises, but not really. Check it out if you’re over 12.

Buy Batman: Dark Knight Returns 1 on DVD or on Blu-Ray.
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Resident Evil: Damnation

Exercising what they no doubt see as great restraint, the people at Sony waited a whole ten minutes after the last Resident Evil movie (the live action Retribution) before putting out this one. It’s animated and stars floppy haired Leon Kennedy, who goes to Eastern Europe to investigatebioweapons/kill zombies. You may notice this is the same plot as most of the Resident Evil games and that the animation is the same weirdly jerky CGI as the cut scenes, so I can only conclude that this was supposed to be a game but they forgot to put in the game part. Sadly it’s still better than Retribution.

Buy Resident Evil: Damnation on DVD or on Blu-Ray.
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American Horror Story: Season 1

If you regularly watch cliched haunted house movies like Amityville, The Haunting, and Paranormal Activity and wish they were drawn out until they were twelve hours long, this is the DVD set for you. It follows a family (Dylan McDermott, Connie Britton, and Taissa Farmiga) who move into a rickety old mansion which (SUPRISE!) turns out to be haunted. It’s fairly highly rated on IMDB and has won a Golden Globe, so it’s not terribly done – it’s mostly the characters who carry it – it’s just an overdone story.

Buy American Horror Story Season 1 on DVD or on Blu-Ray.
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Resident Evil Retribution Review

poster from the Constantin Pictures film Resident Evil Retribution

It was a slow week for movies, so once again I find myself reviewing the latest Resident Evil Gong Show. For those of you who can’t keep track of their random vaguely threatening compound word naming scheme, it’s #5 in the series, which is based on a series of zombie video games. 5 picks up from where 4 left off, but if you haven’t seen it, don’t worry. They recap. A lot.

Alice must fight her way through various global outbreak scenarios in order to escape the Umbrella Corporation’s secret underwater testing facility.

The Resident Evil series is known for nonsensical plots that are somehow both overcomplicated and simplistic, stupid viruses that do things viruses don’t really do, and for prominently featuring a mindlessly evil corporation with a propensity for pasting little pictures of umbrellas all over everything. Number 5 is more of the same.

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Battleship Review

poster from the Universal Pictures film Battleship

There are two decent looking movies opening this week: The Dictator and What to Expect When You’re Expecting, plus my theater has also brought in the hilarious British comedy Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. So you might be wondering: why in the name of all that is holy did I choose to see Battleship instead? I chose Battleship for the same reason we all slow down to gawk at car crashes – because I just couldn’t help myself. That Battleship would be a trainwreck seemed certain from the previews:

A young Navy lieutenant and his pouty friend find that their battleship is Earth’s only hope when they are suddenly attacked by an alien fleet.

The whole “massive alien invasion” thing has been done before in about a million other movies, among them The Avengers, Independence Day, and Transformers 3. But (brace yourself) Battleship is not as bad as Transformers 3. In fact, there were times when I was laughing WITH the movie rather than AT the movie.

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Act of Valor Review

poster from the Bandito Brothers film Act of Valor

This week’s choice of movie was a no brainer. As I mentioned, I have a crippling weakness for actioney real life jobs, so if you’ve got a movie, documentary, or biography about a fighter pilot or a UN police officer or a rescue diver, I’m so there. Act of Valor was exciting in trailer form because it’s sort of a hybrid of all three: movie, doc, and bio, with a made up story based on true events starring both real SEALs and actors.

A team of Navy SEALs tangle with South American drug cartels, Somalian smugglers, and religious extremists to stop a smuggler/terrorist team from executing a terror attack in the United States.

I really wasn’t sure what to expect from this movie. All movies say they’re new and different but this one seemed like it actually would be. Now that I’ve seen it, however, I have to report that watching Act of Valor was not the unique experience I was hoping for. In fact, it felt exactly like watching my brother play Call of Duty: Modern Warfare. I’m not sure if this reflects well on Call of Duty or badly on Act of Valor.

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DVDs for February 14, 2012

Rum Diary

I love watching Johnny Depp act like a crazy person (which is another way of saying I like watching all Johnny Depp movies) but I had no desire to see this one, which is about a journalist’s adventures in Puerto Rico. Usually at least the movie around Johnny’s nutty character at least makes sense, but here nothing does. It’s almost like a dream in that it’s disjointed and nonsensical and doesn’t really relate back to itself very well. I’d say that Hunter S. Thompson fans (the movie is based on a Hunter S. Thompson book) would feel differently, but a lot of them seem to be complaining about this movie too. Skip it.

Buy Rum Diary on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

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Human Centipede 2

Happy Valentine’s Day! Here’s a movie about a psycho who sews people together mouth-to-butt! It’s one of those Scream 2 type sequels where the first movie inspires a copycat (copycentipede?). Apparently it also features a psychologist who looks like Santa Claus and a mother who is only shocked by the fact that his centipede has TWELVE people as opposed to a much more reasonable number like three or four. It’s also banned in the UK, but probably not for the reasons the filmmakers would like it to be banned for. It’s not subversive or controversial so much as downright gross. Probably not the best choice to rent on your Valentine’s night in.

Buy Human Centipede 2 on DVD or on Blu-Ray.
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The Dead

Continuing with the Valentine’s Day horror theme, we have The Dead, the latest entry in the river of zombie related films, graphic novels, and video games that have been whooshing past faster than I can register their existence. This movie has a plot reminiscent of Resident Evil 5 (minus the octopus monster) in that the characters are trapped in an African village populated by zombies. The acting is only a little better than the blank-eyed video game characters are capable of. It’s also relying on the “there are zombies” factor for scariness, and that just doesn’t cut it anymore.

Buy The Dead on DVD or on Blu-Ray.


Take Shelter

And for a little light relief from all that horror, here’s a psychological thriller about a doomsday scenario! What a bright and happy holiday we’re having! In the film, a contractor starts having visions of the apocalypse and decides to go all Noah and build an ark… and by ark I mean bomb shelter. His family thinks he’s nuts, and maybe he is, but he’s decided to be on the safe side and build it anyway. Unless you count the visions, there’s not much action in this movie, so don’t let the locusts on the DVD box fool you into thinking it won’t be boring.

Buy Take Shelter on DVD or on Blu-Ray

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Trailer Reviews for December 16, 2011

SHERLOCK HOLMES: A GAME OF SHADOWS



I just loved Guy Richie’s Sherlock Holmes and have been looking forward to this movie coming out for months. Robert Downy Jr. isn’t British, but he can fake an accent convincingly (I think Renee Zellweger is the only other American to do this successfully) and his comic timing is perfect. So is Jude Law’s, for that matter. They’re perfect partners. The only thing missing from the last film was his arch nemesis Moriarty, so guess who’s showing up for Game of Shadows. (No, not Renee Zellweger!) I get only the vaguest sense of the plot from the trailer, but that’s okay. The last one had so many twists and turns in it that they couldn’t possibly have compressed it into a trailer anyway. I trust you, Guy Richie, don’t let me down.

MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE – GHOST PROTOCOL



After Tom Cruise caught the crazy virus, I expected the Mission Impossible movies to stop, but J.J. Abrams, in his quest to bring Awesome to more franchises, defty worked around the crazy and made a cool film in Mission: Impossible III. There’s no J.J. Abrams this time and the plot seems like it’s ripped off of the last Modern Warfare game, but I still want to see Ghost Protocol. I like the Russian connection (Russia’s popular again in movies and games – have we just randomly decided the Cold War is back on?) and I love anything with Simon Pegg or Jeremy Renner. I’ve gotta ask, though: what happened to the random wife (Bridget Monaghan) he had in M:I 3? Is she just going to never be mentioned again like that one movie where James Bond got married?

ALVIN AND THE CHIPMUNKS: CHIPWRECKED



I used to love Alvin and the Chipmunks as a kid, but like most of the 3D animated/live action attempts to induce nostalgia for old 80s cartoons (The Smurfs, Transformers, Garfield, etc.), this is more likely to induce vomiting. The kindest thing I can think of to say about the last film, which I took my cousins to see, is that it was a God-awful train wreck. Perhaps the filmmakers realized this. Perhaps that’s why they called this one “Chipwrecked” (in addition to it being a lame pun). Alvin’s voice makes me want to punch someone, and when they all get together and sing, it gives me chills. As in horrified chills. I’m hoping my cousins will want to see something else when they visit for Christmas, because I don’t think I can sit through another one of these movies.

YOUNG ADULT



The first thing I thought of when I saw the title for this movie was books – young adult (or YA) is a hugely popular subset of publishing, but when they say YA in the publishing world, what they mean is teenagers. What they mean in the context of this movie is all those slacker types who never really made it into adulthood developmentally, even though their chronological age is like 32. For most of us, this conjures images of unwashed boy-men playing Xbox 24/7 and living in their mom’s basement, but there’s another type – the type that’s in this movie. The girl who never ditched the bitchy teenage attitude. The Juno and Thank You For Smoking connections probably mean it’ll be snappy (maybe too snappy) but also awkward and embarrassing. I might pass. We’ll see.

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Asteroids: The Movie

original photo by Neitnagel on Flickr

When I first heard a rumor that they were making a movie out of Asteroids, I thought they were kidding. For those of you who are unfamiliar with Asteroids, it’s an extremely primitive first generation video game where you play a spaceship that has to shoot a bunch of little rocks that fall from the top of the screen. How could anyone make a movie out of something that thin? It had to be an April fool’s gag. But it wasn’t. In fact, Roland Emmerich (known as the Destroyer of Worlds and Budgets to his friends) is REALLY MAKING THIS MOVIE RIGHT NOW.

By all all accounts, the movie is about some humans and aliens living in an asteroid belt. I don’t even understand why he needed to buy the rights to this game to make a movie like that. Did they need to buy the rights to Asteroids for that bit in Empire Strikes Back when Han Solo was shooting his way out of an asteroid belt? Did they need to buy the rights to Asteroids to make Deep Impact or Armageddon? No, because you CAN’T COPYRIGHT A NATURAL OCCURANCE. Asteroids hit ships and planets and break them. It’s just something that happens. You can’t slap a trademark on it and say you invented it, thus forcing everyone who wants to use the concept to pay you money. If you could, we’d all be paying royalties every time we sneezed or stopped at a stop sign.

Roland Emmerich’s movies are usually ridiculous, plotless, distructo-fests (see 2012, 10,000 BC, The Day After Tomorrow, Godzilla, and Independence Day… or rather don’t, because they’re bad) but Asteroids takes the cake. There is literally nothing to it, which means there’s two whole hours free to showcase the destruction wrought by big rocks banging into things. Gee, I can’t wait.

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Sucker Punch Review

poster from the Warner Bros. film Sucker Punch

This was an awfully lean week for new movies. My choices were limited to Roderick Rules, which I could only be induced to suffer through in exchange for a large pile money, and Sucker Punch, which was greatly anticipated by comic book nerds but looks retarded. Stupid won out over torturous, of course. Sucker Punch is Zack Snyder’s third blowout action movie, the other two being 300 (dumb) and Watchmen (decent). It looks like another comic book movie, but actually it’s not. He made up the whole thing and it goes like this:

A young woman finds refuge in escape plans and fantasy worlds after she is committed to an institution for the criminally insane.

The thing about his making up the whole thing himself is that there’s no one else he can blame when the movie turns out badly. I’m guessing a lot of people will be sucked in by the trailer’s visuals forget to think about that crucial, make-or-break element: story. I’ve watched the movie. I’ve seen the visuals. I know the story. So I can now tell you that my suspicions were correct. Sucker Punch is retarded.

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The Impracticalities of Being a Female Superhero

If you’re a reader of comic books (sorry, “graphic novels”), a player of video games, or a watcher of movies, you’ve no doubt noticed that the female superheroes always seem to have hardly any clothes on, and what little they do wear is skintight and usually made of leather. Their hair is generally about four feet long and salon styled with some sort of headbands or ribbons that are more adornments than tie-backs, and their boots have heels in excess of six inches. This is all well and good if you’re a drooling fan watching the female superhero, but what if you ARE the female superhero?

You would have to hope there was never anything on a high shelf that you needed, because your skintight uniform would make it impossible to raise your arms above your head.

You’d have to cart around an extra large purse with your sneakers and sports bra in it, just in case any criminals tried to get away, otherwise you’d end up with two sprained ankles and a bad concussion from your huge, wildly jiggling boobs hitting you in the face.

You’d be limited to about two months out of the year for superheroing unless you lived in the tropics, because wearing a string bikini outside in a New York City winter will give you frostbitten nipples no matter how vigorously you’re working out.

You’d have to avoid any rooms containing conveyor belts, engines, garbage disposals, large clocks, or any machinery with rotating parts for fear of your improbably long hairdo getting caught in the works and ripping your whole scalp off.

You would have to approach criminals from the front and hope the sight of your rather arresting costume will freeze them in place so you can nab them, because with all that leather creaking and groaning, you’d only be able to sneak on the deaf representatives of the feloniusly inclined.

You would have to coat the inside of your uniform torso with double sided tape to reduce the chances of the ladies springing free in the middle of a punch-up.

You would have to keep a hospital-worthy collection of gauze pads and antibacterial cream in your super-purse to treat your super rug burns in case you had to slide under a truck, brush against a brick wall, or touch anyone who hadn’t shaved yet that day.

On the other hand, though, if you ever had to go after a straight female or a gay male criminal, they would be easy to apprehend on account of they would fall over laughing the instant they caught sight of your ridiculously impractical outfit.

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Hollywood Needs New Boots

I read an article online yesterday that they’re rebooting the Tomb Raider movie franchise. The last movie in that series, Tomb Raider: Cradle of Life, came out in 2003. That’s less than ten years ago, and it starred people (Angelina Jolie, Gerard Butler, Daniel Craig, etc.) who are both still alive and still famous. There was nothing wrong with the movies plot or production wise that screamed out for a do-over. Special effects haven’t advanced all that much in the intervening years, except for 3D, which doesn’t make things seem any more real, just more gimmicky. So why the hell do they need to reboot it?

It’s the same thing with Spider-Man. They’re rebooting that franchise with Andrew Garfield as Peter Parker instead of Toby Maguire. It’s only been four years since Spider-Man 3 came out. Three years since the DVD. Geez Hollywood, how short do you think our attention spans ARE? And furthermore, why do we need to keep remaking the same old things anyway? Is there really such a shortage of new material that it’s necessary to reboot or remake all the old stuff instead? (Answer: no.)

The reason they keep doing this is because we, the ticket buying public, have shown a proclivity towards buying tickets for things we’re already familiar with. We play it safe, and go to yet another Saw movie instead of a new movie about a Brazilian door-to-door salesman with a briefcase full of murderous spiders. So when the studios are given the choice between rebooting a done-to-death franchise like Spider-Man that was popular just a few years ago and adapting something different, they’ll choose ol’ faithful almost every time.

If you ever find yourself getting annoyed by the fact that there are ten movies playing in your theater that don’t have one original idea among them, remember: it’s all your fault for buying a ticket to Transformers 2 that time. I told you it would come back to bite you.

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