Saturday, July 23, 2011

Captain America: The First Avenger

Starring Chris Evans, Tommy Lee Jones, Haley Atwell, and Hugo Weaving

Directed by Joe Johnston

Release Date: July 22nd, 2011

Before we get the team assembled for THE AVENGERS movie, there's one hero left to include in the pantheon of silver screen stars: CAPTAIN AMERICA. Sure, there were 2 television movies starring Reb Brown and a direct to video adaptation starring Matt Salinger, but those three stories were either too goofy or unfaithful to the source material. Therefore, it's very encouraging to see such an inspiring adaptation of the WWII icon.

Boy is this movie a lot of fun! After we left the theater, some friends and I were discussing how entertaining and exciting the exploits of Cap (Evans)  fighting the Red Skull (Weaving) in the European Theater were! Speaking of, the main leads of Evans and Weaving each get some great moments with their characters. For example, Evans really understands the need for Steve Rogers to be a man dedicated to protecting the people, rather than wanting power for power sake. Weaving , on the other hand, gets to glower and grit his teeth as the villainous Red Skull. Finally, there's a lot of care and attention to detail such as using the Comic accurate costume, or answering where Cap really got his shield.

Rating: * * * * * of 5 

Friday, July 22, 2011

Defendor

Starring Woody Harrelson, Elias Koteas, Kat Dennings, and Sandra Oh

Directed by Peter Stebbings

Release Date: February 19th, 2010 (Canada)

Let's get this out of the way: yes this did remind me of Kick-Ass. However, the two films are completely different and my review of Kick-Ass can be seen here. Where as that film is more of a cartoon-ish violent comedy, Defendor is a more realistic, drama of a real person who wants to be a superhero.

I have to applaud the actors, as each one of them gets to play around with a stereotypical comic-book character role, such as the stalwart hero or the plucky young sidekick. Particularly, I enjoyed the relationship between Arthur (Harrelson) and Kat (Dennings), as both actors are clearly having fun and work well together on screen. Speaking of Arthur, the character is a wonderfully diverse role for Harrelson, allowing him to play two diverse characters: Arthur, the timid nobody, and Defendor, the deep voiced, "bullet-proof" hero. Let it be said, the movie is definitely a lot darker than Kick-Ass; where the main hero in that movie gets to win a few fights, Defendor is constantly getting beat up and laughed at by the thugs he fights against.

Defendor is definitely worth seeing, particularly if you enjoyed Kick-Ass. 


Click here to buy Defendor Defendor [Blu-ray]

Rating: * * * * of 5 

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Legend

Starring Tom Cruise, Mia Sara, and Tim Curry

Directed by Ridley Scott

Release Date: April 18th, 1985

(Note: I am reviewing the US Theatrical Cut of Legend. There is a director's cut available, which I may review at a later date).

In a land far away,  a creature called DARKNESS (Curry) aspires to take over the world by eliminating the most rare creatures in the woods: Unicorns. Their protector, Jack o'the green (Cruise) is a reclusive young man in love with Princess Lili (Sara). Will the forces of good stop the cloven footed monster and save the unicorns?

As per usual with Ridley Scott films, Legend  is a gorgeous sight for the eyes, as if he were bringing a storybook fable to life. Everything from the set designs to the make-up and prosthetics are highly detailed and add a rich lushness to the visual style. Unfortunately, while the visuals are absolutely wonderful, I feel that the story and characters fall a tad flat. The story is fine, a standard fantasy concept of find the girl and save the day, but there's no real deviation or development beyond that. Sure, there's a text prologue, but I would have loved to see some back story on the main characters. For this review, I saw the 90 minute U.S. cut but would love to review the Director's cut at a later time.

Click here to buy Legend (Ultimate Edition) Legend (Ultimate Edition) [Blu-ray]

Rating: * * * 1/2 of 5 

Game Boys

Starring Brad Jones, Bianca Queen, Alex Shryock, and Jake Norvell

Written and Directed by Brad Jones

Released on THE CINEMA SNOB: September 9th, 2010

NOTE: THIS MOVIE IS UNRATED. IT CONTAINS EXCESSIVE LANGUAGE AND SEXUAL REFERENCES. 

Well, here we are again with another STONED GREMLINS Production. Instead of Jones usual genres of horror or exaggerated drama, we have a light-hearted romantic comedy.

I really like this movie, if for nothing else than the appreciation of nerds with particular tastes and interests. Anyone who knows me knows that I have a predilection for movies, cartoons, anime, and comic books. When I go to the latest X-Men or Spider-Man movie, I'm naming off obscure comic-books that pertain to the movie, or just go into great detail about other movies I was reminded of. Therefore, I really connected with Jones' story of old-school gamers with a panache for the obscure title and the embrace of Atari graphics rather than the latest title on XBOX 360.

As usual with his films, Jones employs his closest friends to play his cast of characters, such as his wife Jillian playing a minor character or Midnight Heat's Alex Shryock playing main character Ray. Like Jake Norvell in Midnight Heat (who plays Steve), Shryock makes Ray into an energetic and hilarious character, the overly aggressive gamer with a strange obsession with horrible Superman games. Sure, the game goes heavy into video-game references, some which may fly over the heads of many, but that's the language these guys speak and you either study up or get left behind.

Click here to watch GAME BOYS in its entirety on The Cinema Snob.

Rating: * * * * 1/2 of 5

Monday, July 18, 2011

The Dark Knight Rises: Teaser Trailer Reaction

So, opening weekend of Harry Potter DH Part 2 and the premiere trailer for THE DARK KNIGHT RISES is attached with an assortment of bad trailers (Arthur Christmas and Happy Feet 2 immediately come to mind). Then, it happens: we get a few brief clips from Batman Begins and The Dark Knight before the new footage kicks in.

My response: I am so ready for TDK Rises. Sure, I'd love to say 'No! Keep the franchise going', but in all honesty I'm glad that Christopher Nolan and Christian Bale are wrapping up with Batman before they get sick of the franchise. Sure, the teaser goes by too fast and I'd rather get a clear audio track for the scene we get to see, but maybe this scene will make sense in the finished film. I love the villains they're using (Bane and Selina Kyle, so far), and perhaps Nolan will deliver a few unexpected twists and turns for this finale come Summer 2012.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2

Starring Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, Emma Watson, Helena Bonham Carter, Ralph Finnes, Michael Gambon, Alan Rickman, Robbie Coltrane, Bonnie Wright, John Hurt, Timothy Spall, Tom Felton, Jim Broadbent, and Jason Issacs

Directed by David Yates

Release Date: July 15th, 2011

(NOTE:  I did not see the 3D version. I do not support 3D at this time and rarely review movies in 3D)

It has come down to this: Ten years in the making, seven previous films for one epic event.

Continuing directly where Part One ended, this is the ground breaking, heart-stopping action upon action scenes where not every character survives to the finale. There's not a lot of character development in this movie, as that was covered more in Part One. In all seriousness, most of Part two is running upon running with characters fighting one another and very few moments to catch your breath. There are many impressive stunt sequences, such as the trio fighting a dragon or Neville Longbottom taking out hundreds of dark wizards with an exploding bridge. I really must compliment the stunt people and Special effects team for working so hard in this installment to make these incredible sequences feel chilling and so great to look at.

That being said, the movie does have a few problems, but they're minor quibbles. First, there's a slight weirdness during a conversation with Harry Potter (Radcliffe) and Dumbledore (Gambon); it's nothing about the conversation they have, the performances the actors give, it's just I find the situation in which the characters speak is just odd. Second, I did' find the story's epilogue to be weak, which I've heard is also criticized by fans of the novels. If you're a diehard Potter fan, stick around for the epilogue. If you're satisfied with the film's finale, skip the epilogue.

Now that the Series is over, I am sad to see the adventure end. Still, it was a fun ride and am glad to have seen such a grand tale.

Rating: * * * * of 5

Friday, July 15, 2011

Midnight Heat

Starring Jake Norvell, Bianca Queen, and Brad Jones

Written and Directed by Brad Jones

Released on The Cinema Snob: 2011

WARNING: The following review is for a film that was unrated, but contains adult language and drug use.


Brad Jones is a collaborator on THAT GUY WITH THE GLASSES, a website that offers such talents as The NOSTALGIA CRITIC, LINKARA, and TODD IN THE SHADOWS. Brad is usually known as "The Cinema Snob", an elitist film critic who ends up reviewing D-Grade Horror and Exploitation movies. Aside from that, he makes his own movies which brings us to Midnight Heat. 

As stated in the intro video, Brad made Midnight Heat as an homage to the 1980s action movies he grew up on. If that is the case, I must say that Brad does a great job capturing the feel of movies made during that decade. Midnight Heat is a gritty and intriguing film, one that draws you in with memorable characters and snappy dialogue. One of the film's best qualities is how well the characters are written, each having their own idiosyncrasies and quirks. I also have to applaud how well writer/director Jones balances his scenes with the non-diegetic music used for the soundtrack. The actors are very talented in their roles, particularly Jake Norvell and Jones. Norvell makes the hero of the story, Det. Rick Wilson, into a broken and flawed protagonist with a charisma and personality that makes him memorable. Jones, on the other hand, plays the mentally unstable Martin with such a manic energy that it makes one think back to a young Jack Nicholson. 

"Midnight Heat" can be seen in its entirety on THE CINEMA SNOB or That Guy with the Glasses

Rating: * * * * of 5 

Thursday, July 14, 2011

(500) Days of Summer

Starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Zooey Deschanel, Clark Gregg, and Chloe Moretz

Directed by Mark Webb

Release Date: July 17th, 2009


A quirky look into a relationship between Tom (Gordon-Levitt) and Summer (Deschanel). I like how the film jumps back and forth during their time together, giving the audience a look at happy times and sad ones. Sure, the film does hit heavy with the struggle and heart-break, but I feel that works better than a formulaic rom-com.

The performances are wonderful from the cast, from the main leads to the supporting cast. Deschanel and Gordon-Levitt have wonderful chemistry together and have great presence on screen. Then, there's the scene stealing moments of Chloe Moretz as Tom's sister, who may be wise beyond her years.

Rating: * * * * of 5

Click here to buy (500) Days of Summer (500) Days of Summer [Blu-ray] with Digital Copy

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Horrible Bosses

Starring Jason Bateman, Charlie Day, Jason Sudekis, with Jennifer Aniston, Colin Farrell, Jamie Foxx, and Kevin Spacey

Directed by Seth Gordon

Release Date: July 8th, 2011

 Much better than "Bad Teacher", the lesser of the Summer 2011 Black Comedies.

We've all had bad bosses, our superiors whom we put up with. Sadly, Nick (Bateman), Kurt (Sudekis), and Dale (Day) may have the worst bosses in the history of job employment. Nick's Boss (Spacey) is a manipulative jerk who loves kicking him around and insulting his employees. Kurt's Boss (Farrell) is a greedy drug addict who would rather cut corners than take care of his deceased father's company. Then there's Dale's Boss (Aniston) who sexually harasses  and blackmails him. Soon, the trio are discussing their woes over beers and decide: Our bosses are horrible people, why not just kill them?

Horrible Bosses is a manic, dark comedy that makes those daydreams at the office a reality thanks to our white-collar Three Stooges. Bateman, Sudekis, and Day all have great chemistry together and fire off so many great jokes, you may have to re-watch the movie to catch that one line you missed due to the leads talking over each other. Also, each of the actors playing the villianous bosses, Aniston, Ferrell, and Spacey, bring their characters to life with great interplay with the leads and Kevin Spacey stealing the show as a controlling arrogant jerk with a slight obsession with his cat. Finally,  there's a great scene-stealing character played by Jamie Foxx.

Rating: * * * * 1/2 of 5

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Splice

Starring Adrien Brody, Sarah Polley, and Delphine Chaneac

Directed by

Release Date: June 4th, 2010


A twisted science fiction story, but a tad too slow at parts with a finale that was...icky.

Director Vincenzo Natali most certainly knows how to make a tense, psychologically driven thriller. Splice is a crazy tale of science gone wrong, where two scientists (Brody and Polley) decide to play God by mixing the DNA of humans and several animals to create a creature that could modernize modern medicine. The movie most certainly builds the tension not only of the evolution of the creature known as "Dren" but also of the crumbling relationship between Clive and Elsa.

However, the one complaint I have against the movie is that the third act has a few moments that don't feel like authentic actions from the characters.

Rating: * * * 1/2 of 5 

Click here to buy: Splice Splice [Blu-ray]

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Kung Fu Panda 2

Starring the Voice Talents of Jack Black, Angelina Jolie, Gary Oldman, Lucy Liu, David Cross, and Dustin Hoffman

Directed by Jennifer Yuh

Release Date: May 26th, 2011


As charming and energetic as the first movie.

Set after the events of the first movie, Po (Black) and the Furious Five learn of a new weapon that is poised to take over China, but powerful enough to defeat KUNG FU! The villainous peacock Shen (Oldman) is building Iron Weapons using powerful fireworks to take out Kung Fu warriors. Will the Dragon Warrior be able to stop them?

So Dreamworks may not be as layered and developed as Pixar, but that doesn't mean they're laying down on the job. If their animation studio continues to make films like How to Train Your Dragon or the Kung Fu Panda films, they may find themselves more praise from the critics than with continuous Shrek sequels and ineffectual star-driven projects. Like the first movie, Kung Fu panda 2 makes great use of the kung fu genre with quick, entertaining and quite humorous fight scenes. Many times during the film, I was stunned and then laughing in the same breath.

If I had to criticize the film for anything, it would have to be a quick visual reference to Pac-Man. Don't get me wrong, it's a funny gag, but the first film did without any modern pop culture jokes and was still a great movie. I'm just wondering why they felt the need to make a video game reference for a film set in feudal China.

Rating: * * * * 1/2 of 5

Friday, July 8, 2011

The Brothers Bloom

Starring Adrien Brody, Mark Ruffalo,  Rachel Weisz and Robbie Coltrane

Directed by Rian Johnson

Release Date: May 15th, 2009


The movie tries too hard to be quirky and "indie", but feels forced and artificial. Also, the pacing is off balance, being a light-hearted comedy one minute and a heavy-handed drama the next.  Still, I have to commend the actors for great performances and wonderful cinematography that captures the whimsy and oddities of this strange world. 


The Brothers Bloom is flawed, but worth seeing if you're a fan of Wes Anderson's work or con-artist movies such as Ocean's Eleven or The Grifters.


Rating: * * * of 5 

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Legion

Starring Paul Bettany, Charles S. Dutton, and Lucas Black

Directed by Scott Stewart

Release Date: January 22nd, 2010



Terminator. Terminator Terminator. Terminator. Rip-Off.  Oh man, this was a boring movie. The CGI sucks, the pacing of the movie is bad, and the characters are barely two-dimensional.  Plus, why angels? It's just silly when you discover that this movie is just a zombie movie with quasi-religious overtones.

If you want a better movie with the same premise, watch THE TERMINATOR...or Ghostbusters II.

Rating: * 1/2 of 5

Time to End: Charlie Sheen

Dear Charlie Sheen,

Do I really need to say anything? You sir, are a tornado of destruction to yourself and your family. Please get the mental health you desperately need. In addition, your constant tirades again Chuck Lorre and CBS are childish, sir; as a father and an adult, you need to grow up. I am tired of hearing about you and your "truth tour" or whatever you call it. We've all stop caring about your tiger-blood fueled exploits months ago.

Please, find help, as this joke is no longer funny.

Sincerely,

Critical View

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Bad Teacher

Starring Cameron Diaz, Justin Timberlake, Lucy Punch, and Jason Segel

Directed by Jake Kasdan

Release Date: June 24th, 2011


A dark, edgy comedy that definitely could have used some improvements.

Elizabeth Halsey (Diaz) is a horrible teacher: She drinks, shows movies in class, and is more concerned finding a sugar daddy than providing her students with an education. Soon, she sets her sights on nerdy substitute teacher Scott (Timberlake) and will go to any lengths to get his attention. Lie, Cheat, Steal? All in Elizabeth's lesson plan....

Bad Teacher is certainly a dark and warped perspective on teachers. As such, audiences will see Elizabeth blackmail parents, steal from a local car wash, and demean her students at the drop of a hat. In short, Cameron Diaz is having a ball with the character and it shows. Lucy Punch, as antagonist Amy Squirrel, is delightfully manic as an over enthusiastic teacher who's out to prove Elizabeth's not what she seems. However, not all of the cast get to liven their characters. Jason Segel and Justin Timberlake, get to play the minor parts of male teachers that occasionally get some funny jokes, but are just there to support the female leads. In terms of humor, Bad Teacher gets in a lot of sex gags and pot shots at teaching, but nothing ground breaking or memorable.

Bad Teacher is certainly a funny dark comedy, but I wish the writers had tried harder to make the jokes better.

Rating; * * * 1/2 of 5

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Midnight in Paris

Starring Owen Wilson, Rachel McAdams, Corey Stoll, Adrien Brody, Marion Cotillard, and Michael Sheen

Directed by Woody Allen

Release Dates:

May 11, 2011 (Cannes) 
May 20, 2011 (US limited) 
June 10, 2011




A quirky and giddy romp through the streets of Paris on the longings for the past and the dangers of nostalgia. 


Gil (Wilson) is a screenwriter lost in the beauty of the streets of Paris, wishing he was living in the 1920s rather than in the 21st century. His fiance Inez (McAdams) cannot understand his longing and would rather listen to the misinformation from a pseduo-intellectual and shop for expensive furniture with her mother. Soon, Gil has found himself sharing a bottle of wine with Zelda and Scott Fitzgerald in 1920s Paris, with no explanation how or why he got there. However, Gil has decided to make the most out of his new adventure and discover more about his life, his career as a writer, and his relationships with Inez and a stunning French woman named Adrianne (Cotillard). 


Midnight in Paris is a delightfully whimsical tale of beauty, love, and the true meaning of how to appreciate the present rather than dwell on the past. Director Woody Allen does a commendable job making the tone of the film into a breezy character study, making the exploration of Gil's adventures into a light and humorous farce on time travel without dwelling on explaining how Gil traveled 90 years into the past. Speaking of, Owen Wilson displays a lot of grace and charm as Allen's latest surrogate protagonist, rattling off Allen's usual grasp of quick-witted neuroses and literary references that are both funny and thoughtful. 


Rating: * * * * * of 5

Friday, July 1, 2011

Time to End: Tracy Morgan

Dear Tracy Morgan,

Just stop. Stop doing stand-up, stop apologizing, stop appearing in public. Every time you're in front of an audience, you say something offensive and it gets you in trouble. I have never found you funny, but now I'm just ashamed to hear your name in the news because you offended another organization or group of people. Just resign from 30 Rock, slink off to your giant mansion and go away.

Sincerely,

Critical View 

Transformers 3: Dark of the Moon

Starring Shia LaBeouf, Josh Duhamel, Patrick Dempsey, and the voice talents of Peter Cullen and Leonard Nimoy

Directed by Michael Bay

Release Date: June 29th, 2011

So on Wednesday, I posted an announcement about possibly seeing Transformers 3.  Was it as bad as all the reviews claim? Let's take a look.

 The last Transformers movie, "Revenge of the Fallen", was certainly a hodgepodge of racist characters, clich├ęd dialogue, and plot-holes the size of Cybertron. Therefore, Director Michael Bay claimed that the third movie in the franchise, Dark of the Moon, would eliminate all the failings of the last movie and make the tone darker than the two previous films.

Dark of the Moon is most certainly a step up from "Revenge of the Fallen". While this installment suffers the same staples of Bay's previous work, it makes up for it with great voice-over work from Peter Cullen and Leonard Nimoy, and some incredible action sequences in Downtown Chicago.

First, the bad: the same awful, awful comedy that no one seems to enjoy but Michael Bay. For example, the uncomfortable humor of Sam's parents return, such as mocking him for getting dumped by his latest girlfriend. Speaking of, Megan Fox has been replaced by newcomer Rosie Huntington-Whiteley as Sam's new girlfriend Carly. Considering that Megan Fox has one style of acting (namely staring off into the distance) at least Whiteley makes Carly into a more interesting character who gets an awesome line near the finale. Next, there's a lot of what I call "Necessary Stupidity", where characters makes actions that only make sense to move the plot along, if nothing else. Finally, the Decepticons are still numerous and nameless. Is it too much to give us more named Decpeticons other than Megatron, StarScream, and Shockwave?

That being said, the movie's got some impressive CGI for the Transformers, the plot about Sentinel Prime and the Moon landings was interesting, and the third act battle was pretty cool.

Rating: * * * * of 5