Archive for the ‘Reviews’ Category

Don’t be Afraid of the Dark – Another remake opens today, but this time it is a remake of a lesser known made for TV film from 1973. A young girl(Bailee Madison) moves in with her father (Guy Pierce) and his new girlfriend (Katie Holmes). Shortly after, the girl discovers that there are voices coming from a sealed fireplace in a hidden basement that promise friendship to the lonely child. Havoc abounds when the sources of the voices are released, and stuff. I was really on board for this one, but early reviews are not positive, citing the cast as boring and flat. Directed by first time feature director Troy Nixey, it worries me that Del Toro wrote this and did not direct it himself.

I’ve gone from “in” to “rent” on this one in the amount of time it took to write this.

Colombiana – Olivier Megaton (seriously… if this doesn’t do well, how many headlines will read “Megaton bomb”) French director of Transporter 3 directs the story of a girl (Zoe Saldana) who becomes an assassin after seeing her parents die. Sounds like any number of superhero origin stories, right? Well, one thing to note is that this was written by Luc Besson. Not sure who Luc Besson is? He was the writer on films such as La Femme Nikita, Leon: The Professional (The film responsible for giving us Natalie Portman, thank you, sir), The Fifth Element, The Transporter (putting Jason Statham on the map) and Taken. Also in this one, Zoe Saldana and Zoe Saldana. There may be some other people, but no one cares.

I’m interested in this one, but I’m not convinced that it’s worth a theater screening. I think I’m going to wait on this one too.

Our Idiot Brother – This may be the tipping point for Paul Rudd, going from “I’m okay with Rudd” to “I’m over Rudd”, but then again, this may be funny. You don’t know the director and have never heard of the writer (not to take anything away from them, I haven’t seen this yet, but they’re new). This movie is Paul Rudd playing what appears to be a clueless (HA!) idealistic moron who re-enters the lives of his sisters played by Elizabeth Banks, Emily Mortimer and the always charming Zooey Deschanel. Also appearing in this one are the lovely Rashida Jones, prominent typecast d-bag Adam Scott and the hilarious Steve Coogan and T.J. Miller. Was Joe Lo Truglio busy? My gut tells me that this will be okay as a collection of offbeat characters with comedic flaws, but haven’t we seen that enough? Probably entertaining, but not for my theater bucks.

In IndianapolisAttack the Block – If you haven’t heard of this one, you probably won’t like it. I’m not going to rehash this one. If you like sci-fi (not Syfy) check out Katie’s review here Attack the Block.

KT: Fright Night

Posted: August 22, 2011 in In Theatres, KT Personal, Reviews

I’m not a big fan of horror movies, per se, but JC is, so we went to see “Fright Night” on Sunday morning. I haven’t seen the original, so I can’t do any comparisons. I’m sure JC will.
I thought it was pretty good. Nothing that made my jaw drop, but overall, a fun movie.

Colin Farrell plays a great vampire – why he hasn’t before this outing, I don’t know. But he should! He’s got this great swagger about him and plays that sexy devil of the night just the way you want out of a vampire.

Anton Yelkin – I have really liked this dude ever since I saw “House of D” and “Alpha Dog” a few years back. I think he’s a real force to be reckoned with.

Imogen Poots – what a crazy name for this young actress. She reminded me of a young Sharon Stone. I expect to see a lot out of Miss Poots in the future.

David Tennant – I think this was a good transitional role (for American audiences, at least) from my favorite portrayal of The Doctor. David does a good job playing an ego-maniacal Criss-Angel-type with an actual heart underneath all the makeup and fake tattoos. It was good to see him again – the last time was live and in person in London where he’s playing Benedick in “Much Ado about Nothing.”

Christopher Mintz-Plasse – at some point he’s going to have to grow as an actor and play something other than McLovin. Still funny, but it’s starting to get old.

Toni Collette – she plays a great mom but I think she was way underutilized in this movie.

Two things that bothered me about this movie is (1) the way it was lit. I understand it’s a horror movie and it’s supposed to be dark, but man, this movie is DARK. Foggy, black, hazy, shadowy, hard to see. I get that it’s supposed to set a mood, but I thought it was a little overboard with the dark filters. It’ll be difficult to watch this movie with any lights on when it comes out on DVD. And (2) the special effects at the end of the film. We saw it in 2D, so I’m sure it was different in 3D, but the reveal at the very end left a really sour taste in my mouth.

If you want to see a fun, somewhat scary movie, give “Fright Night” a try.

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As the upcoming semester draws near, it got me thinking about movies that deal with school. So in no particular order, I give you my favorite movies that deal with school.

Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure
This is a movie I have seen a number of times that has to be nearing triple digits. This incredibly quotable movie about two young people (that have to be perpetually stoned) that are allowed to travel through time thanks to future George Carlin. Honestly, this movie is dumb fun, but wouldn’t you have wanted to have an adventure like they had? Plus is was obviously inspired by Doctor Who. Win – all around.

Mean Girls

So many people dismiss this Tina Fey penned comedy as a movie for high school kids, but it is not only quite funny, it gave Lindsay Lohan her best role, tied with her role in Machete. It also introduced us to Rachel McAdams and the lovely Lizzy Caplan. I know this wasn’t the first role for either of them, but it is the first time I remember seeing them and it would be a crime if they never made it into my consciousness.

Scream
This Wes Craven classic makes it scary to be in high school, and I’m not talking about homework and pop-quizzes. Neve Campbell revitalizes the final girl troupe and the killer is unexpected. With tongue placed firmly in cheek, stereotypical high school kids are killed off by a villain that would become much more than the sum of its parts.

The Complete Harry Potter Series
Who wouldn’t love to receive a letter by owl stating that you have been accepted to Hogwarts. Even though it is not an actual school and it very fantastic, no other movie series has focused on life at school more than the Harry Potter films. Magic would have made high school more bearable.

Dead Poet’s Society
When I’m not watching this film, I forget how impactful it is, but whenever I watch it again, I wonder how I forgot. This is, hands down, Robin Williams’ best role (his accent disqualifies his role in Good Will Hunting). It is moving without being too heavy and manipulative.

Honorable mention to Fast Times at Ridgemont High, PCU, The Breakfast Club and Election

What are your favorite films about school? If you’re not sure if a movie you’re thinking of counts… I say it does.

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This is the movie I’ve been waiting for. Yes, HP&tDHpt2 was fantastic and provided great closure to the franchise, but this! This is a summer movie that I may just go see again in the theatre.

Saturday morning at 10am, (prime opening weekend viewing time for JC and I), we went to see “Rise of the Planet of the Apes” along with a packed-theatre full of rabid movie fans. The theatre was comprised of a great mix of people, mostly skewing older, but the younger crowd had a fair showing too.

After the 75 coming soon trailers, (including Steven Soderbergh’s “Contagion” – I’m excited for this one), the movie began. I was immediately sucked in. What I loved about this movie was the story! Yes, the special effects are fantastic and unmatched, but that’s not all the film has going for it. (See “Cowboys & Aliens”.)

James Franco has really shown himself to be a versatile little actor. I really like him in this role as super-genius scientist, Will. He plays a grieving son infused with a brilliant scientist who wants to make a difference in the Alzheimer’s community and is completely believable at every turn. The hidden gem of this film is John Lithgow, who plays Will’s papa in such a heart-achingly real performance that you want to rush out and give your own dad a hug after seeing him.

Brian Cox and Tom Felton (trying, in vain, to shake the Draco Malfoy off of him) play a sadistic father and son duo at a primate shelter – they embody everything that the apes would hate/fear in the human race, and they do it with such reckless abandon that it’s almost hard to watch.

Even the secondary characters, played by Tyler Labine (you may remember him from my favorite role in Zach & Miri – “Huck it, chuck it, football!”), David Oyelowo, and Freida Pinto bring something to the table and are not just ancillary people that you would care less about — they too are just as important as the Apes rise.

Director Rupert Wyatt shows that he is also on the Rise — this is a director I think we will see more from in the years to come. He shows that he can compete with the best of them and did a fantastic job setting the mood in this film. It would have been very easy to let the special effects run this film and people would have paid money to see a bunch of monkeys on the loose with nothing else going for it. Along with writers Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver, Wyatt creates a world, not unlike our own, with rich characters that we care for and can personalize into our own lives.

So that’s it. Great movie.
What! Oh wait, I forgot about one teeny-tiny, really minute detail. Andy-freakin-Serkis. I am absolutely and completely BANANAS for Andy Serkis. He is the embodiment of expressivity and really gives life to head-Ape, Caesar.

Here’s the thing about the Apes. Not once did I ever think I was watching anything but Apes when watching this film. The effects are amazing, completely unmatched and hyper-real. While the trailer may creep people out, once you see Caesar for the first time drinking from a bottle, you will fall in love with this character.

One last point: this movie does more with the character development with the Apes than most movies do with people. Again, the filmmakers could have really just relied on bad-ass action sequences and crazy Ape-debauchery, but does not take the easy way out. Your heart breaks and aches for these Apes when they are mistreated for others’ amusement. With simple hand gestures and far-away looks to freedom, the Apes will touch on the most human parts of your soul.

There’s a great little addition after the credits begin too…so hang around for it! It made me go squeeeeeee!

Opening this week, August 5, 2011:

Rise of the Planet of the Apes – I don’t know much of the lore of the Planet of the Apes franchise. I’ve never seen any of the originals, therefore I found the re-boot a few years back with Mark Wahlberg bearable. Looks like they are re-booting it again, from the beginnings of the Apes rise to power.

This movie looks intriguing – definitely a summer popcorn flick. With a cast with the likes of James Franco, John Lithgow, Brian Cox, Tom Felton (fresh off the last Harry Potter, and trying to reinvent himself as someone other than Draco Malfoy), and the always fantastic CGI-stuntman/actor, Andy Serkis, I feel like the chops are definitely there.From what I’ve gathered, this movie is going to be intensely fun, with moments of heart-wrenching emotion and some pretty great action sequences. I’m looking forward to seeing this one this weekend.

The Change-Up – Seems as if Hollywood will always go back to the proverbial drawing board and rehash the old-switcheroo movies from the 80’s, usually involving a father and son (I always preferred the one with Fred Savage and Judge Reinhold). This time, we see long-time friends Jason Bateman and Ryan Reynolds switching bodies and lives. Is there really anything to say about this film? I will say this: every time I see the trailer, I keep switching out Reynolds for Dane Cook. Don’t know why.  Definitely a rental.

And for those with tastes a little more independent:

The Whistleblower – This one definitely looks like an Oscar contender for Best Actress. In this based on true events film, Rachel Weisz stars as an American police officer who takes a job in Bosnia as a post-war peacekeeper. This film looks pretty intense and rather cerebral and has an R-rating for, among other things, a “brutal sexual assault.” Be warned readers – this gem of a movie may be hard to watch. Rounding out the cast is Vanessa Redgrave, David Strathairn and Monica Bellucci.

(this was also posted at The Nerdist, where JC is also a contributor)

I got up early on Saturday to head out to see Cowboys and Aliens. The buzz from Comic-Con hooked me on the idea of Indiana Jones and James Bond vs. ET. The story is as follows: a man (Daniel Craig) with no memory and a strange bracelet wakes up not far from the cattle town of Absolution, AZ. He is skilled at fighting and at handling a gun, but he has no memory of who he is and how he came to be in the middle of the desert. When he arrives in the town, he meets a preacher named Meacham (Clancy Brown from The Shawshank Redemption and Starship Troopers), who helps our main character get cleaned up and provides some medical attention to a strange wound sustained not long ago. Our mystery man draws attention to himself when he helps the local saloon keeper, Doc (played by the outstanding Sam Rockwell) with the local “I can do whatever I want because my daddy’s rich”, Percy Dolarhyde (played by Paul Dano of There Will Be Blood). As an aside, what is it with characters named Percy?
It turns out that our main character is a wanted man named Jake Lonergan and he is wanted by more than just the law. Percy’s daddy, Woodrow Dolarhyde (played by the mumble-y Harrison Ford), has been looking for Lonergan to answer for some missing gold.  Lonergan is apprehended thanks to the assistance of the mysterious Ella Swenson (played by Olivia Wilde from Tron: Legacy)

Then all hell breaks loose when the town is attacked by, well… aliens. Aliens attack the town in quick flying ships that blow up half of the town and steal quite a few people in the process, including Percy and Doc’s wife. Lonergan’s bracelet shows signs of life and he quickly figures out that it is a weapon.  In the aftermath, it is decided that Lonergan will accompany the party that sets out to retrieve those taken from the town.

The Good, the Bad, and the Unexpected:

The Good:

Director Jon Favreau knows how to give the audience action. The action scenes are great. The idea of cowboys and their rifles and six-shooters against aliens with energy weapons is cool and there are a high number of casualties as you would expect.

The Bad:

The dialogue is sparse and the characters are underdeveloped. There isn’t much of a reason to care about them, as most of them are either horrible people or annoying. Also falling under the bad category is Emmett Taggart (played by Noah Ringer from The Last Airbender) (see the previous annoying comment). The final bad thing about this one is there was not nearly enough Sam Rockwell!

The unexpected:

There was a moment in the film that made me sigh aloud and nearly give up on the film. Without giving any major plot spoilers, it takes place in a Native American camp. I did not expect such a convenient plot device in a movie that up until that point had been pretty much a western plus aliens.

Also unexpected, but not in a bad way, was the fact that those involved in this film did hold true to the Western aspect of this film. The major themes of redemption carry this one to the very end.

Cowboys and Aliens
is not a great film and for those that do not like Westerns, they may even say that it is not even a good film. Between this and The Smurfs, this was not a bad way to spend a couple hours. I’m not sure that it will make it into my Blu Ray collection (especially since my wife HATED it), but it was a decent ride.

How much would I pay to see this one again? Out of $10, I would pay $4.00. Maybe $5.00 if a Western loving friend asked me to see it with them.

Wow, I must be fired up about this movie to have rushed home so I can write this review. DISCLAIMER: Please, these are my opinions. As JC often says on the podcast, I’m right and so are you. Please don’t allow my review to cancel anyone’s plans of seeing this movie. Mr. Favreau spent undoubtedly a ton of money making this movie and needs to see at least a little return on investment. Also, JC will be posting his review in the next few days. I’m sure these reviews will give our readers just a glimpse into how differently we can see things sometimes.

There will be some spoilers — so, if you’re planning on seeing this film, read this review afterwards. Thank you!
OK, onto the flick.

I’d like to preface this by saying that when I first heard about this film, I was intrigued. Of course, I’m a big fan of Jon Favreau, ever since Swingers. I’ve enjoyed getting to know him as a director, as I am a big fan of Elf and Iron Man. I follow Jon on twitter and enjoyed reading his posts about filming and editing “Cowboys & Aliens” over the last twoish years. But, I would say over the last month or so, as advertising and marketing has ramped up for this film, and especially with Comic-Con last week and all the interviews, and the screening he had last week… I don’t know, my view started to change. I started to get annoyed with all the press. Perhaps this is because we are just coming off the Indy Film Fest, where we saw some fantastic films that people have poured their heart and soul into, and they will never ever get the kind of exposure that a big movie like this will receive.

Don’t get me wrong – I love me some big blockbusters. Anything Spielberg or Lucas – Abrams – even Bay from time to time (shush, you like him too) will get my movie-going money, especially at the theatre. Those types of movies just beg for big screen viewing. So I’m not saying that I’m only going to watch Independent film from now on – not at all.

There was just something about this movie that I did not like. JC wrote (something to the effect of) in his “Upcoming” post the other day that Cowboys & Aliens is just a western with some aliens in it. Yep. That’s what it was. SO — if you’re not a fan of westerns, this is clearly not the movie for you. OR FOR ME.

I do not like westerns. Never have. Never will. And that’s okay, it’s my choice. If you want to write me to tell me that I”m wrong for not liking westerns, please do! I love to hear why people like what they do. I don’t fault people for what they like, so I hope you do the same.

My main problem with this movie is… it felt very thrown together. Take out the aliens and it’s a poorly executed western. Take out the western and it’s a poorly executed sci-fi movie. I felt there was little-to-no character development, and the characters that were barely developed, I didn’t care for.

I love Harrison Ford. He’s great in everything – from “Star Wars” to “Indiana Jones”, to something as vulnerable as “Regarding Henry”. In this, that dynamic cockiness that we’ve all come to know and love — or even the sweet, unassuming man-child… that Harrison Ford is nowhere to be found in this film. He is hollow and wooden and one-dimensional. I don’t care enough about this character even NOT to like him! Then there is his twin in the film, Daniel Craig. He’s just as forgettable. Olivia Wilde definitely has the “I’m going to peer into your soul with my freakishly beautiful blue eyes” stare going for her, but it doesn’t save her performance. And the whole twist of her character? Completely unbelievable and what I thought was a severe cop-out. And don’t get me started on the little Airbender kid. (Noah Ringer)

Other fine actors rounded out the ensemble cast, and they were the only semblance of a saving grace in this movie. Sam Rockwell was wonderful as a bumbling simpleton. Clancy Brown played an unconventional preacher. And David O’Hara, albeit with very little screen-time, was the most believable character in the whole movie.

The aliens themselves were finely crafted, and I am happy that the trailers didn’t spoil how they looked. The special effects were the only part of this movie that saved it from being completely ridiculous.

This is a popcorn movie, where of course, you must leave all belief at the door. I did that, but I didn’t think I would have to leave good taste or an appreciation for a well-rounded movie at the door as well. This movie is all about the summer blockbuster, but I don’t think it’s going to stand the test of time that producers (all 12 of them) hoped it would. This will not be listed with Spielberg, Grazer and Howard films, and I think Favreau has taken a major step back.

Jon, you’re so much better than this.