A long time ago Bing Crosby and Bob Hope had a successful series of comedy films, such as Road to Morroco, where they would travel somewhere and basically have fun with each other in various locals. After finding a lot to enjoy in The Trip and now having seen The Trip to Italy, if Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon want to continue making films where they play exaggerated versions of themselves, while traveling to different countries to eat amazing looking dishes, humorously argue with each other, and do hilarious impressions, then I would be all for it. The Trip to Italy not only continues to give these two the opportunity to have a lot of fun together, it also plays even better than the first entry, with plenty of laughs to be had during this European vacation.
Archive for the 'Movie Reviews' Category
A film like Frank is not for everyone, but who cares? I had a lot of fun with this offbeat comedy that keeps the head of its main character inside a large papier-mâché head. The film is a comedy, a road movie of sorts, and a look at experimental/indie music culture. It is also very funny, well-acted, and a little bittersweet, given what we learn of Frank, the man behind the head. Given that Michael Fassbender can work for me in just about anything, I was not surprised to be so taken by this film, but it is still one I want to see be given a chance, because having a little (or a lot) of weird can be a very good thing.
This is the one movie I promised myself I would have nothing to do with after I learned about the abysmal PG-13 rating the filmmakers trimmed it down to be to comply with requirements of the much feared MPAA in order to get it out to a wider audience (more about that later). If it had not been for a trip up to Cleveland, OH to visit all my family and friends I can pretty much guarantee that I would have never partaken in a screening of The Expendables 3 as to my knowledge it wasn’t being screened down in Austin, TX at all. Odd, huh? Not really. From my experience that usually means the studio, like myself going into this one, didn’t have much confidence in it and wanted to get as much first weekend foot traffic in as possible to avoid the negative reviews they must’ve known would come with the early screenings. I’m just subjecting myself to the below experience to kill two birds with one stone, visit my most favorite Cleveland marketing team leader (she knows who she is) and also my favorite theater, that of Cinemark Valley View. I have so many memories there and obviously now The Expendables 3 is one of them. So let’s dispense with all the filter and formalities I’m employing here and talk about Barney (Stallone) and his old and new gang. Continue reading ‘The Expendables 3: Rocky Balboa vs. Sgt. Martin Riggs (Movie Review)’
At this point in the Expendables franchise, it seems apparent that there is little understanding as to how to really deliver on what could make these films true action delights. The story means little to me in these films, the presence of all the big name action heroes is more important than their acting, but somehow these films have yet to deliver well-directed action. There are moments that payoff, but these films still have not found a way to be consistently entertaining due to the very thing that should be most important – solid action. It may be hard to capture the sort of magic that one enjoys from the various decades of action movies, starring these heroes that have been repeatedly watched by many, but at least being able to show the action clearly would be nice. As it stands, while the effort is there and the comradery is apparent, I can still only depend on The Expendables to be mediocre.
The Giver is the story of a young hero living in a futuristic society where a governing system has seemingly made everything perfect and free of chaos, with ruminating thoughts on possible corruption lurking just beneath the surface. This seems like an interesting idea, were one not to realize how often it seems to come about. These past few years have already given us films like Divergent and The Hunger Games, and while The Giver is also a popular book now adapted into a feature film, it seems to have come at a time where we did not really need it. It is not because the book did not deserve the film treatment, but more due to how relatively slight it feels by comparison. Like it or not, a film like The Hunger Games succeeds for numerous reasons, such as its scope, the actors involved, and cultural relevance at the time. While The Giver has aspects that keep it from being a poor film, it unfortunately feels like it missed its opportunity to be a bigger deal.
I see a lot of movies and I enjoy rewatching a lot of movies. One would think that I would rewatch movies that I especially like, but that is not necessarily true. The example that applies here is a film called Blue Steak. This was a forgettable Martin Lawrence comedy from 1999, where Lawrence starred as a jewel thief posing as a police officer. It is not especially clever, but I find it entertaining and seem to watch it, for some amount of time, whenever it appears on TV. Let’s Be Cops is similar in both being about some guys posing as police officers and that it is not especially clever either. The film is not even as good as Blue Streak, but hey, I would maybe stop to check in on Let’s Be Cops, were I to find it on TV years from now.
When I think back to joys of my childhood some of my earliest thoughts of happiness revolve around family and sports, but quite honestly movies and comics. Yep! As a child, I had one wild imagination growing up and with no nearby childhood friends to play with I had to find ways to occupy my time and keep myself busy. I swear I rehearsed that lightsaber duel as Luke Skywalker against Darth Vader in the Empire Strikes Back almost daily. However, I digress because we are not here to talk Star Wars, but that of Ninja Turtles. So remember, just five sentences ago I mentioned the word comics? Yes! Besides Groo, I can still remember those rated-R, crisp, black and white pages of those early Mirage Studios issues of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. That was 1984! A lot has happened in the world of the four turtles since then, but possibly none more revolutionary than the casting of Megan Fox as April O’Neil in this newest onscreen reboot by Michael Bay’s production company, Platinum Dunes. Continue reading ‘‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’ Now With Less Ooze (Movie Review)’
There is a scene where Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (TMNT) seemed to reveal its true colors. It features William Fichtner’s villainous character dressed in all black, sporting an Under Armour top, and looking about as close as he can to producer Michael Bay, while explaining his nefarious plot that felt like a metaphor for blockbuster superhero movies. While standing in a very glossy and elaborately designed set, in the midst of fantastical CG creations, we hear about a dreaded disease that will be spread, only to have the same villains release a cure and make billions as a result. Having just been treated to Guardians of the Galaxy a week prior, TMNT feels like another emotionless superhero film produced by Hollywood, while a potentially huge money makers seek to reassure some faith in these studio blockbusters. That in mind, it is not that TMNT is all that bad, it just feels like a generic film rolling off an assembly line.
There is a level of familiarity to musician biopics at this point that tends to keep me from becoming too excited about the prospect of a new one. With varying degrees of separation, they mostly tend to follow a formula, much like any film that hits similar beats as its predecessors within the same sub-genres (just look at the Guardians of the Galaxy, which opens on the same day, as it is supremely entertaining, but still following a proven formula). Keeping that in mind, I am also a big fan of James Brown and was happy to go in to this film pretty open-minded (as I generally do). If there is one way to express how much I ended up enjoying Get On Up, it would have to be by stating that no musician biopic has ever made me want to dance as much as Get On Up did. While the film only occasionally falls into some familiar trappings, Chadwick Boseman’s lead performance is terrific in a film that tries to be fair to its main subject, and add plenty of soul to the genre.
When you’re talking the Marvel Cinematic Universe I’m in the mood for something different, what about you? Going into the press screening of Guardians of the Galaxy this past Tuesday evening “different” is what I was hoping for. I wasn’t expecting anything spectacular other than just simply wanting to have a good time. The past few Marvel flicks, although rather enjoyable, have been kind of heavy and serious in tone (while keeping the Marvel humor of course). So to have something brand spanking new and capable of shaking up the Marvel universe just a tad would be very much welcomed in my world. After the piece of cr@p Transformers: Age of Extinction and the disappointment of Lucy last week in the “fun” category, I really went into this craving and hoping for the best. I wanted to be dazzled and most of all…entertained! Is that too much to ask for from a popcorn, summer blockbuster? Continue reading ‘Star-Lord Shoots First in the ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ (Movie Review)’
While the word is out on what the future holds for the films from Marvel Studios, they are currently in a place of comfort, as the films produced are consistently entertaining, despite fitting into familiar structures. Given that the films all have reasonable budgets and lots of talent both behind and in front of the camera, it is not too much of a surprise that audiences generally really enjoy these movies. Guardians of the Galaxy is both the wildest step yet for Marvel and the biggest risk since 2008’s Iron Man, as it is based on an obscure comic property and lacks huge name stars in the lead roles for audiences to be easily sold on the film. With that in mind, Guardians of the Galaxy will be a real test of the Marvel brand. It helps that the film is very good. It may only break some new ground, given the setting and style of the film, but even while fitting into a familiar mold, it is a total blast of space opera-style joy.
In the premise for Lucy, Scarlett Johansson’s character is forced to deliver a package implanted inside of her, only to gain unique abilities after the package is ruptured. I am sure some kind of variation of that description is what got writer/director Luc Besson the means to make this film as a big studio movie, as opposed to a smaller release. With that in mind, it is almost as if Besson was able to pull one over on many, as he may have a film built up to be a slick, easy-to-digest, summer sci-fi/action film, but Lucy has more going on than one may expect. It is unfortunate that the film’s ambition is masked underneath a wavy sense of actual science and Besson’s own penchant for kinetic (and very violent) action beats, but a strong central performance and a very fast pace keep Lucy from ever slowing down in its brief runtime.
Continue reading ‘‘LUCY’ Express (Movie Review)’
I’m not sure what happened, but sometime circa the Black Widow’s entrance into the Marvel Cinematic Universe in Iron Man 2 and later on in movies such as Don Jon and most recently Under the Skin (my full Blu-ray reviews of those two titles can be found here and here) I have become a HUGE fan of the sexy starlet Scarlett Johansson. Who isn’t, right? However, I’m not too happy that she’s pregnant and in the process kind of shuffled things around on the newest Avengers set with not one but three stunt doubles, but I suppose a girl has to do what a girl has to do. After all, she did give me one very fine looking performance that I’ll never forget in my favorite Michael Bay movie of all-time, The Island, which came out in 2005 before all those aforementioned movies above. So I suppose I will let her surprise pregnancy slip into the farthest, darkest and remotely inaccessible areas of my brain (since I’m using less than 10% of it) because it absolutely gives me great pleasure to chat about Scarlett and her latest action vehicle down below…Lucy! Continue reading ‘‘Lucy’ Mixes With The Matrix Instead Of The Transporter (Movie Review)’
One of the more impressive aspects of The Purge: Anarchy is not really the movie itself, but the fact that how it was sold managed to get me excited, despite the first ‘Purge’ from a year ago finding its way to my ‘Worst of 2013’ list. Fast-tracked sequel or not, ‘Anarchy’ seemed set out to resolve the main issue that the first film created, which was to go a more open world route, given the endless possibilities that the ridiculous basic concept set up. Here is a film that exists in a reality where crime and unemployment are at all-time lows in America, because a 12-hour period exists one night a year, where all crime (especially murder) is legal. It is a very dumb premise if you stop to think about it, but there is so much to do with that concept, which is something this higher-budgeted sequel tries to do. With all of that said, even when considering the couple degrees that separate this film from reality, in an effort to add some level of social commentary, I did not take away much from this film that will likely stick with me no further than a week.
A few years back, writer/director Mike Cahill made a film called Another Earth, which managed to find itself on my top ten list. It was a debut feature and had some rough edges, but it hit me in just the right way and at just the right time (going well with its existential-sci-fi-drama counterpart – Melancholia), providing me with enough to let the film get to me more than I was expecting. Now we have Cahill’s follow up feature, I Origins, which I cannot say I was as enraptured by, but still found to be interesting. The main curiosity I have outside of this film is whether or not audiences will be happy to go along with what is essentially a character journey that does not really decide to engage in a specific plot until more than halfway through the film. There is a sense looseness here that I think can go either way for people, but I did find myself involved in some key moments that led me to admiring I Origins quite a bit.
I guess there is something to be said for a Disney film like Planes: Fire & Rescue that does not try to go for the modern Disney approach of being a film for everyone, rather than just kids. While there is nothing about this theatrical sequel to a film that was originally supposed to go straight to video that makes it essential viewing or even all that innovative, there is also nothing here that really makes it unwatchable either. I may have some quibbles over the implied lessons that Dusty Crophopper learns at the end of this film, but it really makes no difference, as Planes: Fire & Rescue is kiddy stuff, through and through, which is not a bad thing, just something to take into consideration.
The only thing more complicated than the time traveling plotline of the original Planet of the Apes franchise is realizing that Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is the sequel to Rise of the Planet of the Apes, the reimagining of the fourth film in the previous franchise, which took place before the first film, chronologically. Relieving the stress of such complications is the fact that ‘Dawn’ may be the 8th film in a long running series of ‘Apes’ movies, but it stands very close to the top, nearly outdoing the Charlton Heston classic. This is a summer movie that is not afraid to embrace the idea of keeping the damn dirty humans in second tier positions, while Andy Serkis, the other actors, and the fantastic visual effects team at Weta Digital do tremendous work at not only creating what appears to be living, breathing apes, but well-developed and empathetic characters. Along with a clever script and some ace direction, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is another very strong entry for the 2014 summer season, let alone a fine sci-fi spectacle.
If the year 2011 taught us nothing but the fact that good things can come from rebooting a beloved franchise, then I’d be alright to call it a day right then and there. Never in my wildest dreams could I have ever conjured up the belief or the cohones that the quirky Planet of the Apes franchise could ever be resurrected after that feeble attempt by Tim Burton (I really wish they could have went through with the Adam Rifkin script) way back in the summer of 2001 before our economy took a crap and I have been broke ever since because of low interest rates. However, I digress. We are not here to discuss our nation’s economy because if the fictional ape character of Caesar was real, I have no doubts that it would thrive once again under his direction. All hail Caesar, right? Exactly! That’s exactly the sentimentality I want you to have over the course of the next five minutes or so as I birth into your mind a world dominated by apes, or at least on the cusp of that becoming so in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. Continue reading ‘Caesar Reigns in ‘Dawn of the Planet of the Apes’ (Movie Review)’