Thursday, July 28, 2011

Captain America: The First Avenger

My View:  Captain America: The First Avenger   Chris Evans (Fantastic Four) plays Steve Rogers, a man who dreams of joining the service during World War II but is repeatedly turned down because he is too small and sickly.  He is then recruited to a secret Army project that turns him into Captain Americajust in time to fight an evil Nazi officer named The Red Skull, who is building a fighting force to take on the world.  This movie does a brilliant job of building up the legend of Captain America, and Chris Evans has the charisma and the physique to fill the uniform.  The first 15 minutes of the film are a wonder of special effects as Steve Rogers is shown as the "96 pound weakling" in a body much smaller than the average man.  This makes his transition to Captain America all the more believable.  A smashing storyline, rousing special effects and a love interest for the Captain in Hayley Atwell make this a great summer adventure.  Be sure to stay through the credits.  At the end of the film, there are a few scenes that set up the next Marvel film, The Avengers.  My Rating:  Full Price   Captain America Website
The 50 (a movie from my best/worst film of all time)
#38 Worst Film:
Kazaam  (1996)   The tagline sums up this film nicely - "He's a Rappin' Genie with an Attitude...And He's Ready for Slam-Dunk Fun!"  At one time, Shaquille O'Neal had thoughts of becoming a movie star, and this is the film that broke that dream.  Shaq plays a genie released by a lonely young boy who is trying to survive in the dangerous "hood.”  Max (played by Francis Capra) is granted three wishes by Kazaam.  Shaq is just horrible in the role and makes it worse with a musical number where he raps about being a genie.  By the end of the movie, you just wish Kazaam would go back into the boombox he came from.   Kazaam Info
Forgotten Film:  Bullitt (1968)  When you look up the word, “cool,” in the dictionary, you should see a picture of Steve McQueen as Detective Bullitt, the starring role in this film.  Wearing a turtleneck and driving one of classic film cars of all time, a tricked out Mustang, McQueen plays a detective who is assigned to protect a witness.  The witness is murdered under McQueen’s watch, and he does everything he can to solve the case.  This film contains one of the greatest chase sequences ever, a race through the streets and hills of San Francisco where most of the driving stunts are done by McQueen, himself.  Jacqueline Bisset is just gorgeous as Bullitt's girlfriend, but's it's McQueen's movie, and he plays it perfectly.   Bullitt Info
In Case You Missed It (A Film Just Released on DVD):  Source Code (2011) Jake Gyllenhaal plays a man who wakes up on a train sitting across from a woman (played by Michelle Monaghan) who seems to know him.  After eight minutes, a bomb goes off on the train, and Gyllenhaal discovers that he is a soldier who is part of a secret government project.   This project allows him to go back in time in someone else's body and reenact their last 8 minutes of life using a time loop program, so he is sent back to discover who the bomber is to prevent a future bombing.  Gyllenhaal is top-notch in this action role, and there is great chemistry between him and Monagham, a woman he decides is worth risking his life for.  My Rating:  Bargain Matinee   Source Code Website
In Memory of Ed Wood (A Movie I've Only Seen in Trailers but Just Looks Like a Bad Idea):  Bucky Larson:  Born to Be a Star:  A dimwitted nerd discovers that his parents were porn stars in the 1970s.  He decides to travel from his hometown in Iowa to the big city of L.A. to follow in his parents’ footsteps.  The trailer looks awful, and the movie looks like a cross between Dumb and Dumber and Porky’s.  I'm sorry, but any movie with Don Johnson in a major role just has to be bad.  Bucky Larson Website

Weird Credits:  From the credits of Captain America:  The First Avenger:  Norwegian accent advisor

Coming Soon to a Theatre Near You:  Attack the Block (2011)  This British horror/comedy film was the talk of the South by Southwest Film Festival.  A teen gang in a low income housing project takes on an alien invasion in London.  Think Shaun of the Dead, but instead of zombies, aliens are the freak show.   Attack the Block Website
Until Next Time!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2

My View:  Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows:  Part 2:     As the film begins, things are not going well for Harry, Ron and Hermione.   They are on the run from the Dark Lord and are having to make deals with people they don’t trust.  Their mission is to destroy the remaining Horcruxes that Voldemort needs to kill to continue his quest for immortality.   This film is amazing because it has spanned eight films over ten years, and the leads, Daniel Radcliffe and Emma Watson, especially, have grown into talented, adult actors who can handle complex roles.   It also doesn’t hurt when you have quality actors as Maggie Smith, Ralph Fiennes, Alan Rickman, and Helena Bonham Carter rounding out the cast. The film does a brilliant job of wrapping up the series, and fans will be happy with the touching, exciting ending that takes place where the series started…Hogwarts. By the way, the film was not shot in 3-D, so save your money and enjoy it in 2-D.  My rating:  Full Price   Harry Potter Website
The 50 (a movie from my best/worst film of time)
#39 Best Film
Red River  (1948)  Howard Hawks directed this sweeping western about a Texas rancher, played by John Wayne, who, with his adopted son, played by Montgomery Clift, embark on an ambitious cattle drive.  Wayne plays a driven man who is set in his ways and is used to his word being the law.  Clift, while respecting Wayne, comes to realize that his father’s ways are not correct.  The film portrays the ultimate power struggle between father and son with great performances from Wayne as the flawed father and Clift as the son who must challenge his father’s ethics.  A great, majestic score and crisp, clear cinematography make this one of the all time classic westerns.   Red River Info
Forgotten Film:  The Flamingo Kid  (1984)  Matt Dillon plays Jeffery Willis, who, after graduating high school, gets a summer job at The Flamingo Club, an upscale beach resort.  There he meets a flashy car dealer, Brody (played by Richard Crenna) who begins to fill Jeffery with ideas of fame, money and the good life.  Throughout the film, it looks like Jeffery will  fashion his life and lifestyle after Brody’s until he discovers that maybe the “good life” isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, especially if you have to leave behind your friends and family.    The Flamingo Kid Info
In Case You Missed it (A Film Just Released on DVD):
Limitless  (2011)   Bradley Cooper stars as a burnt out writer who discovers a pill that makes him so brilliant that he quickly becomes rich and famous.  But, there’s a price to pay, and he soon becomes involved in a complicated plot where he attempts to stay one step ahead of a  ruthless businessman (played by Robert De Niro).  This is one of those films that, if you want to enjoy it, you just have to let the film kind of run by you.   Don’t put too much thought into the plot and just try to enjoy the performances.   My Rating:  Bargain Matinee   Limitless Website
In Memory of Ed Wood (A Movie I’ve Only Seen in Trailers but Just Looks Like a Bad Idea);  The Change-Up   Jason Bateman plays a family man, and Ryan Reynolds plays his best friend who is single and sleeps around.  After a drunken wish (while peeing into a fountain), the two men wake up to discover that they have switched bodies.  This looks just like a raunchy version of Freaky Friday, and my pee-in-a-fountain-wish would be that this film will just go away.   The Change-Up

Weird Credits:  From the credits of Project Nim:  Primate Choreographer

Coming Soon to a Theatre Near You:  One Day   Anne Hathaway and Jim Sturgess meet on the night of their college graduation and decide to continue to meet for one day every year.   Directed by Lone Scherfig (An Education) and a possible Oscar nod for Hathaway, this romantic comedy could be the perfect end to the summer.   One Day Website
Until Next Time!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Horrible Bosses

My View:  Horrible Bosses:  Three buddies (played by Jason Bateman, Charlie Day and Jason Sudeikis) meet after work to exchange stories about their horrible bosses.  Bateman is berated by his boss (played by Kevin Spacey) for being two minutes late…at 6 am. Day, a luckless dental assistant, is constantly sexually harassed by his boss, a female dentist (played by Jennifer Aniston).  And the company that Sudeikis works for is being taken over by a coked-out egomaniac (played by Colin Farrell).  Due to the economy and other factors, each buddy feels they are stuck in their job and, after a night of drinking, each decides the only way out of their miserable employment situation is to kill their boss by hiring a hit man.  This film is one of a long string of recent comedies that consistently decides to go with the cheap, raunchy laugh. Jamie Foxx is especially wasted in his role as the not-too-bright hit man, and I continued to want to see more of the boss characters (especially the comb over, karate punching Colin Farrell) and less of the adventures of the buddies.  My Rating:  Cable   Horrible Bosses Website
The 50 (a movie from my best/worst film of all time)
#39 Worst Film
Mannequin 2: On The Move  (1991)  The original Mannequin film was a surprise hit in 1987 with Andrew McCarthy and Kim Cattrall and was about a mannequin that came to life and fell in love with a department store worker  So, Hollywood decides to do a sequel of this film, but instead of coming up with an original storyline,  producers use almost the same plot from the first movie.  This time, Kristy Swanson is the girl under a curse turned into a store mannequin and who only comes to life when a young department store worker removes a cursed necklace.  Apparently, the only way writers and producers could figure a way to call this a sequel instead of what it is, a remake, was by bringing back the very unfunny, gay window dresser, Hollywood Montrose (played so over-the-top by Meshach Taylor).  In this film, Meshach seems to be almost apologizing for some of the lines he delivers.  To me, the promo person who wrote the tagline for this movie knew it wasn’t worth making an effort: “A lively comedy about a living doll.”   Mannequin 2 Info  
Forgotten Film:  Night Shift  (1982) Henry Winkler, in this Ron Howard-directed film, is a mild mannered man who takes a night shift position at the city morgue and decides this slow, quiet job will be perfect for his recovery from his past pressure filled world of being a stockbroker. Winkler’life is changed when he meets his next door neighbor, a cute prostitute, played by Shelly Long and a fun-loving, get-rich-quick screaming co-worker, played by Michael Keaton.  Keaton makes this film so enertaining to watch as his non-stop moneymaking schemes get more creative over time.  Winkler does a good job as the man trying to just do the right thing and gets involved with Keaton and Long against his better judgment.  Long is very charming as the hooker with a heart of gold who falls for Winkler.  This is the film that revealed to Hollywood that Howard could direct and that Keaton could be a star.   Night Shift Info
In Case You Missed it (A Film Just Released on DVD):
The Lincoln Lawyer  (2011)  I reviewed this film in March.  I liked Matthew McConaughey’s performance as a defense lawyer who works out of the back seat of a Lincoln Town car.  What I didn’t like was the plot, which, I felt, was too easy to figure out, and the concept seemed straight out of a 1970’s T.V. lawyer show (we could call it Matthew to the Defense).  My Rating:  Cable   The Lincoln Lawyer Website
In Memory of Ed Wood (A Movie I‘ve Only Seen in Trailers but Just Looks like a Bad Idea):  Final Destination 5   Do we really need another lesson that you can’t cheat death?  This time, a group of people escape a collapsing bridge only to die via Lasik surgery.  No, really…I can’t make this stuff up!  Death by Lasik.   Final Destination 5 Website

Weird Credits:   In the credits of Horrible Bosses:  Mr. Foxx’s Hair Dresser

Coming Soon to a Theatre Near You:  Moneyball  Based on a true story, Brad Pitt plays Oakland A’s general manager Billy Beane, who revolutionizes how baseball teams are put together.  Robin Wright, Philip Seymour Hoffman and Jonah Hill make up the rest of the cast, but the question will be, “Can Pitt draw enough of an audience to fill seats for a movie about what goes on behind the scenes of a baseball team?”   Moneyball Website
Until Next Time!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Transformers: Dark of the Moon

My View:  Transformers: Dark of the Moon  (2011)  Michael Bay takes out his Hasbro toys for another film in the series where transforming robots beat the crap out of each other.  If you see this film, pack a lunch; it’s long - almost 2 hours and 45 minutes long.  Shia LaBeouf is back as Sam Witwicky (this has to be one of the worst names in history of action films), and he is having a tough time transitioning into the working world.  He has a new girlfriend (played by Victoria Secret model Rosie Huntington-Whiteley) who’s not helping Shia’s ego and confidence as she takes a job offered by a playboy mogul (played by Patrick Dempsey).  The Autobots have learned that mankind hasn’t been upfront with them and that the original moon landing was to research a crashed alien spacecraft that the evil Decepticons want to get their hands on.  This movie was shot in 3-D, and the battle sequences are worthy of putting on the funny glasses, but the problem is how long it takes to get to those battle sequences.  We begin not to care who is going to win.  In fact, save yourself some time and arrive at the theatre about 2 hours after the film starts.  You won't miss any plot, and you will be awake for the big action finish.  If you do see the film from the beginning, here is a helpful hint:  When the new girlfriend begins to speak or when LaBeouf’s parents show up, that’s the time to take that bathroom break you’ve been wanting. My Rating:  Cable
Transformers Website
The 50 (a movie from my best/worst film of all time):
#40 Best Film:
Safety Last!  (1927)  Harold Lloyd was one of the great comedians of the silent film era (at that time he was second only in popularity to Charlie Chaplin), and this is his most famous performance. Lloyd plays a naive country boy who moves to the city to make enough money so he can marry his sweetheart.  He gets a job at a department store and convinces the store manager to offer $1,000 to anyone who can bring the most customers into the store.  Lloyd then arranges with a friend to be a “human fly” and scale the building.  Unfortunately, his friend has to bow out of the stunt, and now Lloyd must scale the building himself.  The climb, full of near falls and misses, ends with one of the most famous scenes of the silent film era where Lloyd hangs from the face of a giant clock on top of the building.  Lloyd was one of the great slapstick comedians, who was not only good at small, subtitle comedic moves, but also had great feats of strength and timing.  Many scenes in this classic comedy have been copied again and again.   Safety Last! Info
Forgotten Film:  Summer School  (1987)  Mark Harmon plays a high school gym teacher who has been looking forward to spending his summer on the beach.  Unfortunately, he gets trapped into teaching English in summer school.  Harmon must teach a bunch of rag-tag students who would rather be doing anything else that summer.  The student body include a surfer girl (played by a very young Courtney Thorne-Smith), a pair of want-a-be horror film makers, a nerd, and a foreign exchange student.  Harmon slowly develops a working relationship with the students and with the teacher next door, played by the then cute Kirstie Alley.  This film has a amusing, conventional storyline, and while it has a feel good ending, it never takes itself too seriously.  The scene to watch for is when the two student film makers, for their final project, create an homage to their favorite horror films.   Summer School Info
In Case You Missed it (A Film Just Released on DVD):
13 Assassins (2011)   This Japanese Samurai film is in the vein of the classic film, The Seven Samurai. A group of 13 samurai are gathered together to try and assassinate a crazy, power hungry warlord.  This film is not for the squeamish as the battle sequences are long, drawn out and bloody.  The final fight takes place in the last 30 minutes of the film.  If you like action films in the mold of Kill Bill, this might be one for you.  My Rating:  Bargain Matinee   13 Assassins Website
In Memory of Ed Wood (A Movie I’ve Only Seen in Trailers but Just Looks Like a Bad Idea):  Shark Night 3-D:   This film looks as if it belongs on Saturday night on the Sy-Fy channel.  A group of young people are vacationing on a lake house retreat when they are attacked by sharks… fresh water sharks…fresh water sharks in 3-D.  Can we just pack up the fishing pole and go home?   Shark NIght 3-D Website

Weird Credits:  From the credits of Buck:  Special thanks to Rebel, Ace and Charro.

Coming Soon to a Theatre Near You:  Captain America:  The First Avenger:  I have seen a few trailers for this film about the origins of Captain America and have high hopes, but it’s coming from director, Joe Johnston, whose last effort was the horrible The Wolfman (2010), and screenwriter, Christopher Markus, mostly known for the Chronicles of Narnia films.  We can only hope that the star, Chris Evans, shows up with the charisma that this role will need.   Captain America Website
Until Next Time!

Friday, July 1, 2011

Cars 2

My View:  Cars 2  (2011)   The first Cars movie came and went a few years ago, and it was a pleasent picture but really didn't create the excitement of Toy Story or Finding Nemo.  Now Pixar has come out with Cars 2, and it really misses the mark.  Lightning McQueen and his buddy, the tow truck Mater, enter a World Grand Prix and get mixed up in a spy caper at the same time.  The film is hard to follow with all of the new characters, and I was disturbed by the violence (lots of car crashes, guns being fired and talk about cars dying).  Though the animation is up to the usual Pixar standards and the action looks good in 3-D, the story line is just not up to the high level Pixar usually sets with their scripts.  Even the short, animated film before the feature (a Toy Story piece) is very disappointing.  Instead of shelling out the money for this feature, rent Toy Story 3 or How to Train Your Dragon.  Those films know how to tell a story.   My Rating:  Cable   Cars 2 Website
The 50 (a movie from my best/worst films of all time):
#40 Worst Film:  BloodRayne (2005)  To prove this film belongs on my worst film list, all I have to say it that the director is Uwe Boll, who brought us such epics as House of the Dead (2003), Postal (2007) and the equally bad Stoic (2009).  How Boll continues to make films is beyond me.  In this film, Rayne (played by Kristanna Loken) is half human / half vampire and seeks revenge on the King of the Vampires with the help of the Brimstone Society, a group of vampire hunters.  The special effects are almost as laughable as the dialogue, and the plot gets so confusing that it would take a flow chart to figure out everything.  By the end of the movie, we don't care who wins…we just want them all to die and go away.  Unfortunately, they don’t, and Boll has created two sequels.  So, like a vampire, these bad movies keep on appearing in the night.   BloodRayne Info
Forgotten Film:  A New Leaf  (1971)   Walter Matthau plays a well-to do-playboy who is used to the pampered life.  But, much to his dismay, Matthau’s character learns that he has blown through his fortune and is soon to be penniless.  He decides that the solution to his problems is to marry a wealthy woman, but after realizing his marital prospects are slim, he meets a meek, accident-prone heiress (played by the writer/director of the film, Elaine May) who will inherit a vast family fortune.  Matthau’s plan is to sweep her of her feet, quickly marry her and then, since he can't see himself being tied down, murder her.  But is it possible that love might rear its head to dash his dastardly plans?    A New Leaf Info
In Case You Missed It (A Film Just Released on DVD):  The Adjustment Bureau  (2010)  I gave a good review for this film this past March, and I stand by that review.  This is a very entertaining film that is part Sci-Fi mystery (sort of in the vein of Inception) and part romantic thriller.  I loved the chemistry between the two leads:  Matt Damon, who plays an up-and-coming Congressman and Emily Blunt, a woman he meets by chance and becomes instantly attracted to.  This film has a great pace to it, and there are many, unique twists and turns that make it intriguing.  My Rating:  Full Price   The Adjustment Bureau Website
In Memory of Ed Wood (A Movie I've Only Seen in Trailers but Just Looks Like a Bad Idea):  The Smurfs  (2011)  Really?  Is there a film worth anything that combines animation and live action? This movie looks more like a Garfield bomb than a winner like Who Framed Roger Rabbit.  The Smurfs have come to New York to spread their magic, but I hope the movie-going audience will treat them like New Yorkers would…and just ignore them.   The Smurfs Website

Weird Credits:  From the credits of Cars 2:  Production Babies

Coming Soon to a Theatre Near You:  The Help  (2011)  Emma Stone (Easy A) plays a writer in 1962 who has returned to her Mississippi home after graduating from college.  She makes friends with several maids in the community and decides to write a book about their experiences.  Emma Stone has the acting skills to pull this off, and with a great supporting cast (Allison Janney, Sissy Spacek, Cicely Tyson), this might be another southern-based hit.   The Help Website
Until Next Time!