Monday, July 19, 2010

Review: Inception

Finally a movie that lived up to the hype. Inception is 2 hrs and 22 min of intense storytelling. My mind was stretched, but not lost. I walked out of the theater happy instead of confused, which was rather nice. Sometimes I feel that writers try too hard to be original and in the process lose their audience.

Bravo to writer/director Christopher Nolan for creating a beautifully woven story, complete with action and special effects that leave me feeling like I need to watch a making of the movie special so I can figure out how in the world half of it was done.

I would also like to congratulate the casting director. The cast was, in a word, superb. Leonardo DiCaprio, Ellen Page, Marion Cotillard, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Ken Watanabe and Cillian Murphy all starred in this film. The only thing that I had trouble with, were a couple of Ken Watanabe's lines, I couldn't understand him. Another thing that needs mentioning is the movie's score. It reminded me of Jaws. Inception has one loud base note that stands out when things get intense. If I ever hear that sound it will be impossible not to think of this film. I don't want to say anything else about the story. It is one you should experience with no preconception. Keep an open mind and go along for the ride.    A

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Review: Toy Story 3

Toy Story     2010 has not made for a strong year at the movies thus far. While all have not been complete busts, there has been a strong sense of being underwhelmed. Just imagine my surprise when the best film of the year so far, was brought to me courtesy of the Pixar/Disney team. Toy Story 3 had everything a good movie should have: action, plot, love, a message, comedy. It was fun from the time the 3-D glasses went on.
     I laughed, I cried (yes, I know it is a cartoon) and I loved it from beginning to end. I think we have a lock for the best animated film category at the Academy Awards. This film showed what it means to come full circle. Andy is all grown up, like many of us, and although we get older and move on to different stages of our lives, there is always another generation ready to play. Buzz, we will always be amigos.   A

Review: Twilight Saga Eclipse

     The franchise is back and better than ever. Finally a movie that closely resembles the book on which it was based. Twilight was a low budget practice run, New Moon was a vast improvement and Eclipse is what happens when the director gets it right. My expectations for Eclipse were high, and fortunately I was not disappointed.

     The music flowed, the cast learned to act, the makeup artist deserves a raise and all the key points of the book were included. All Twilight fans can breathe a sigh of relief. Since there is no need for me to give you a plot synopsis, let me just list a few of my favorite scenes.
1. Jasper's training session with the rest of the Cullen's and the wolf pack
2. The tent on the mountain
3. The night alone at the Cullen's (beware of monkey sounds escaping from the girl sitting next to you)
4. The big fight at the end
                                 5. Rosalie and Jasper's back stories

     The new additions to the series fit in quite nicely. It's a shame Bryce Dallas Howard (Victoria) won't be back. She played the character well. As for Xavier Samuel (Riley), I don't think he will have trouble finding work. Leah and Seth Clearwater were new to the wolf pack and I look forward to seeing both of them again. Now it's time to start waiting impatiently for the fourth and fifth installments. We can only hope the final two films capture the fourth book and all its story. There is, after all, a lot to cover.   B+

Friday, June 18, 2010

Review: The A-Team

I have to ask, how much money did these guys spend on special effects? There was a crazy helicopter rescue set up before the opening title even appeared. The A-Team was better than I expected, but for the most part it was advertised accurately. There were the expected explosions, over the top action scenes and four guys who looked like they were genuinely having fun.

Liam Neeson portrayed Colonel John 'Hannibal' Smith and was as entertaining as ever. He is one of the best actors around. Bradley Cooper, Lt. Templeton 'Faceman' Peck, stood out from the rest and no it wasn't just his abs, although those stood out as well. Cooper is turning into the go-to guy in Hollywood for summer blockbusters. This was a first turn for Quinton 'Rampage' Jackson, B.A. Baracus, but he did well overall. On the plus side he didn't say "I pity the fool," a hundred times like I feared, he let his knuckles do the talking. The only down side to his performance was when he was supposedly a changed man after spending 6 months in jail, he didn't quite convince me. Sharlto Copley, Murdock, was a riot from the moment he hit the screen and kept the laughs coming.

The comedy is what makes this movie better than other action movies. I would also like to mention that Jessica Biel didn't sound as though she were reading her lines. There is a first time for everything. I also enjoyed Patrick Wilson's performance. It was a very different role than that of Raoul in Phantom of the Opera.
Good to see on the big screen for the action, but make it a matinee.   B

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Review: Prince of Persia

Take one part The Mummy and one part Aladdin and you have The Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time. The special effects are good, but not over done. The plot, luckily there is one, is actually deeper than I was expecting. It's nice to be surprised by a movie; either because the plot takes an unexpected turn or because it's better then you expected it to be. Prince of Persia falls into the latter category. Some of that might be because I have never played the video game it was based on, but I like to think it just turned out well.

Jake Gyllenhaal, who plays moral Prince Dastan, led the movie well and lets just say all those months of training paid off. The accent was nice, among other things, ladies you'll understand. Ben Kingsley was a welcome addition to the cast, as Dastan's uncle Nizam. He is good in every role that he plays and this was no exception. British actress Gemma Arterton played the leading lady Princess Tamina, and based on her performance and her beauty, I would say that this won't be the last we see of her. She has a face made for the big screen.

I don't want to give away plot, I hate it when I know the whole story going in, so I will just touch on it briefly. Three princes, one magic dagger, beautiful princess set to protect the dagger. Dagger falls into the wrong hands and life as they all know it will end. You get the idea. This movie is worth the price of a ticket and I have to admit I was glad it was not in 3-D.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

10 Worst Movies Since 1990

Oh how to choose the worst. Unfortunately there are a lot to choose from. The criteria: no sequels, prequels, spoof movies (i.e. Scary Movie, Meet the Spartans) and nothing that went straight to DVD. Since there will undoubtedly be more to add to this one, let me hear from you.

10. Kazaam (1996) - Shaquille O'Neal stars as a genie in this movie and proves why not all athletes should cross over to acting. Just because you are good at sports does not mean we want to watch you embarrass yourself or appear out of a boom box. Our wish? That you had not made this movie.

9. I Know Who Killed Me (2007) - Dear Lindsay Lohan, how could you? What happened to the long ago days of The Parent Trap? Even though you seem to want to self destruct, why would you sign on for this film? It is a hot mess of pole dancing, limbs being cut off and mistaken identities. In a word, dreadful.

8. Battlefield Earth (2000) - Oh John Travolta how we usually like thee, but not this time. No plot, which is impressive considering it was based on a novel. Usually a novel gives you a built in plot, you don't even have to come up with a new idea for goodness sake! Then there is the bad acting and bad special effects. In this day and age there is no excuse for bad special effects. You know it's bad when people start laughing and it's not meant to be a comedy.

7. Gigli (2003) - Where this film went wrong? Casting Jennifer Lopez and Ben Affleck as the two main stars. Had this film been made as an independent film and acted out by unknowns maybe it wouldn't rank on almost all worst film lists. Not all main stream studios and actors should try to be deep. Nine times out of ten they can't pull it off.

6. From Justin to Kelly (2003) - There are no words....well actually there are. Just because two people are on American Idol and they happen to be the flavor of the week, that does not mean they should star in a movie. We are not talking about a made for television movie here people, we are talking released in the theater. No acting ability whatsoever. Not to mention no chemistry between the two of them. If you think you are going to watch this movie for a laugh, beware the joke is on you. It is TORTURE!

5. Home Fries (1998) - This movie probably slipped through the cracks for most people, consider yourselves lucky. I can usually find a silver lining in a film with actors that I like even if it's not the best movie ever made, but this one took the cake for me. Drew Barrymore, Luke Wilson and Catherine O'Hara star in this movie about a pregnant fast food restaurant worker who falls for the stepson of the baby's deceased father. I realize it is supposed to be a dark comedy, but it failed. It is a silly mess, not worth the $1 RedBox price tag.

4. The Island of Dr. Moreau (1996) - H.G.Wells probably turned over in his grave at the release of this gem. Although it had a cast worthy of a decent film, it missed the mark. It starts off well enough as a man is transported to an island to learn that the recluse doctor who lives there is conducting strange experiments on animals, but then it spirals out of control. Part of the issue could be that the original director was fired mid-way through shooting (thank you Val Kilmer), and the film was completed by another director, but that isn't all of it. It's just not that great.

3. Showgirls (1995) - Saved By the Bell was a long time ago, which seemed to be what Elizabeth Berkley was trying to prove to everyone during the entire duration of this stripper disaster. The acting, if you want to call it that, is terrible. This looks like a film someone made in their basement. Shame on you Kyle MacLachlan for stooping so low. I expected this from Berkley and Gina Gershon, but not you.

2. Glitter (2001) - Oh goody a chance to watch Mariah Carey's narcissism on the big screen. Not to mention her insanely bad acting. When you can't say anything nice.....

1. Freddy Got Fingered (2001) - Hate the title, Tom Green is annoying and the entire plot of this film is ridiculous. For the people out there who feel that this film is just over some people's heads, that is fine. To each his own, but even though it is hard to gross me out this film did it tenfold. FYI: It is never okay to cut an umbilical cord with your teeth.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Review: Sex and the City 2

It was a good night last night; dinner and a drinks with a friend and then we went and visited our old friends Carrie, Samantha, Charlotte and Miranda. There's something to be said for familiarity. For all the sadness that took place in the first movie, number two was meant to serve as the yin to that yang.

The girls all have personal things going on, as usual, but instead of just meeting for lunch, this time they get to go on an all expense paid trip to Abu Dhabi. Thank you for that Smith Jerrod; and so many other things. Ladies you know what I mean. Charlotte finally has everything she has ever wanted, but she is learning how hard being a mom really is, and that is with the help of a braless nanny. Miranda is killing herself, and missing her son's life all to try to please a new tyrant of a boss. Samantha is battling menopause with the help of Suzanne Somers and Carrie is well, Carrie. She is trying to find a way to merge her old life with her married one.

During their stay all the girls have their own cars and their own butlers, not a bad way to travel, and don't even get me started on their plane ride. Who knew they even made planes like that? The girls are their usual selves. They play by their own rules, ignoring most of the traditions of the Middle East and they have a lot of fun. Camel rides, karaoke and cheap shoes. Every girls dream.

While in Abu Dhabi Carrie runs into Aidan, and since she is feeling a bit suffocated by married life, drama ensues. She was the most unlikeable one in the film. It was hard to listen to her whine about being married when we watched her go back and forth over Big for years. If he was the screw up in the first film she was this time around. Thanks to her butler and her run in with Aidan, distance really did make the heart grow fonder.

In turn, one of the best parts of the movie takes place when Charlotte and Miranda stay in and have a few drinks and Miranda gets Charlotte to let loose about what is bothering her. Their time together turns into a bit of a drinking game. If there are people in the audience around you laughing, they too are moms. Samantha's time in the desert is eventful. I don't want to give too much away, but lets just say she gets into trouble like only Samantha can.

This movie served its purpose. It was a great excuse to go out with the girls and reminisce. There are plenty laugh out loud moments, even if the beginning starts out a little bit slow. When it's time for the girls to return home the movie gets a little silly, but all is well that ends well. C