Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Circle Tme Review: Grown Ups

Have you ever had to spend an uncomfortable weekend reuniting with people you never even wanted to see again in the first place? Yeah, Grown Ups is kinda like that.

Sure they are all grown up and have their own families now, but Adam Sandler and company are far from "grown up". Sandler has made a name for himself as Hollywood's manchild, appearing again and again as grown men who are very immature. Sure it was funny in the beginning, and every once in a while he manages to rekindle his old spark, but when he keeps headlining in crap like this, with all his money and talent, it's hard to take him seriously.

What's even more disappointing is the lack of humor. With the comedic talent of Kevin James, David Spade, Chris Rock, Rob Schneider, and Sandler, this movie should be funny, or at least that's what they try selling it as. There is almost nothing here worth a chuckle let alone your time and money and when this motley crew is laughing, it's always at some gross joke made at somebody's expense.

Let me just save you the time and sum this movie up in one word: lazy. There is so much comedic potential here and Sandler spoils it with his same old grotesque gags.

Save your money and skip it.

Monday, November 29, 2010

In Memory of Leslie Nielsen

Yeah, I know that I am a day behind everybody and by now I am sure you all have heard the terrible news. Leslie Nielsen passed away yesterday due to complications of Pneumonia. He was 84 years young.

Leslie Nielsen will probably be remembered best for his roles as Dr. Rumack in Airplane! and Detective Frank Drebin in and the Naked Gun films. Nielsen is famous for taking his seemingly serious roles and playing them in such a way that became iconic, comedic gold. He had a way of taking a completely terrible movie and making it funny and entertaining (such as Superhero Movie).

Leslie Nielsen also appeared in movies such as Creep Show, the original Prom Night with Jamie Lee Curtis, and brought his comedic genius to films such as Dracula: Dead and Loving It, and the last two 'Scary Movies'.

Leslie Nielsen, you will be missed.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Review: Tangled

Well, if this is it and Disney really is closing the book on musicals and fairy tales, then they definitely did not save their best for last.

Now I don't mean to be so harsh on the newest edition to the Disney-Princess family, but this all seems oddly familiar. Some guy just happens across a beautiful, young lady, they have to fend from an evil, non-blood related mother, they fall in love, and then live happily ever after. I'm sorry, but is the Disney-Princess formula ever anything different? Disney has done this over and over for the past 70 years and yes, in the beginning we like them, maybe even loved them, but by the time Disney got to Tangled, their 50th animated movie, things just became too predictable.

And following the Disney tradition, everybody sings in this movie. Disney trashed the original script for this movie, started over, and even brought back Alan Menken (fammed Disney song writer) to pen the music. Sadly, it sounds like Menken got lazy here because outside of the first tune, the songs lacks enthusiasm and entertainment. 

Also following Disney tradition, the 3D here was pretty bad. Everytime I bring up 3D, I talk about How to Train Your Dragon and the depth the 3D added to that movie, well no depth was added to this film. In fact, there were parts where the 3D actually hurt my eyes and everything became blurry during a couple of scenes.

Outside of its flaws, Tangled is still enjoyable, if only a little bit. So if you've got nothing to do this holiday wekend and you want to keep the kids entertained, this movie will do the job. I just can't promise that you will also be entertained.

Rent it.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Review: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part I

Harry Potter is the boy who lived... through seven books and eight, count em, eight movies. If you ask me, he proabably should have lived through one less film.

Yeah, I know, you Potterheads are probably thinking, "But Jordan, they needed to split this book into two movies so that they could fit everything in." Maybe so, but even while I was walking out of the theater I heard even the most loyal of Potter fans say "They didn't need to add this or that in." Can you imagine that: six movies and the Potterheards are disappointed because they didn't add enough in and now they're upset because there's too much? Maybe I was wrong about Detroit Lions fans being the hardest to please. But I agree. This movie was a little too long and I definitely felt it (or maybe it was just the fact that it was 2:30 a.m. by the time I walked out).

Don't get me wrong, I did enjoy most aspects of this film. I liked the way the film was put together. All the cuts are precise and all the camerawork is beautiful. However, I think the preformances are the best thing about this film. We have grown up watching these young actors develop and settle into their roles and we have come to appreciate their skill more and more with each enstallment. Emma Watson, especially, gives a standout preformance in this movie.
Sadly, however, I felt as if though this part one suffered from what most intervening films suffer from in trilogies; it spent most of its time building us up for the next part that it drops its sense of story and leaves us with a lot of action and a lot of humor. Unfortunately, most of the humor gets dropped by the second half. At some points of this film I got a sense of "Okay, so where are we and what are we doing here?" that really lost me. Also,  There was no explanation of what the horcrux was or what significance it had to Voldemort and I could have done without the cheesy, romantic triangle subplot. Sure it had to come at some point, but it was not done well.
Sure all the Potterheads will enjoy this movie, that goes without saying, but I, however, think that DH1 is  a pothole in a road leading to a very successful climax for this franchise.
I say rent it, even though you will probably skip right over that and just pre-order the blu-ray, you Potterhead.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Review: Secretariat

That's right, it's time to saddle up for yet another race horse movie. Don't worry, this one doesn't star Tobey Maguire.

Disney brings us the impossible true story of Secretariat, the greatest race horse of all time who won the 1973 Triple Crown with record-breaking times. Now, I only bring up Disney because this is definitely a Disney movie; it's an upbeat, family movie, which takes away from the drama and when you add that on with the fact that everybody knows how this story ends, it takes away everything this movie could have been.

Along with that, Secretariat does tend to get stuck in the mud during a few scenes; not a lot goes on and it starts to feel too familiar, even cliché. Even throughout the movie things feel like they're missing, so when the end hits there doesn't feel to be much of a payoff.

Even with a Disney-backed production and a few missing elements, the preformances, along with fairly interesting camerawork, do make this movie worth seeing, though I don't advise you to run to the theater.

Rent it.
Even so, this movie is still filled with great preformances. Diane Lane is great as Penny Chenery, the horse's owner. John Malkovich is hilarious in his role as Lucien Laurin, the French-Canadian trainer who never really trains. We get a lot of scenes with Malkovich cussing people out in French and it is some pretty entertaining stuff. Though, I am disappointed with the decision to cast Dylan Walsh as Penny's husband. 

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Review: Skyline

Sure strange lights may be discending upon the city of Los Angeles, but what's stranger still is that people (including myself) are paying money to see this film. I mean, you can find cheesy alien thrillers on Syfy.

Okay, maybe it's not exactly as cheesy as something you would find on Syfy, but only the special effects save it from that. With a budget of $10 million and most of it being spent on special effects, these aliens do look pretty cool and why shouldn't they; directors Colin and Greg Strause have worked as special effects supervisors for all the special effects-heavy movies within the past two decades: Titanic, Terminator 3, The Day After Tomorrow, Constantine, Fantastic 4, X-Men: The Last Stand, 300, AVP:R, Jumper, The Incredible Hulk, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, 2012, Avatar, The Book of Eli, Iron Man 2,the upcoming Gulliver's Travels, and many more?

However, special effects alone do not make a good movie (we learned this from Avatar). There is virtually no story here. As we would find with any Syfy flick, here we just have a group of partiers fending for their lives from some aliens (much like Cloverfield except not as good). Following one alien-thriller cliche after another, most of this movie feels like they just took scenes from Independence Day, District 9, and Cloverfield, edited them together and dubbed over the top (and they kill off the black man first for good measure).

 The acting was terrible. Nobody seemed interested in their roll and I am pretty sure that the casting call read something like this: "In need of anybody. We blew all our money on special effects, so as long as you can run around and scream, you're good."

There are so many things wrong with this film that I can't count them on my hands. Nothing works here and it's all been done before. In fact, the only part I wanted to see in this movie got cut out by the ending. This movie SUCKS and I do not reccommend it for anybody at any point in their lifetime.

Please, for the sake of your grandchildren, skip it!

Friday, November 12, 2010

A Tale of Two Sequels

It's true that both Kung Fu Panda and Cars are two of the most successful computer animated films to come out of a decade that was dominated by computer animation, and the two  juggernauts pioneering this relatively new industry are Dreamworks and Pixar.

With successful films like Antz, Shrek, Madagascar, Over the Hedge, the original Kung Fu Panda, and recent hits like How to Train Your Dragon, and Megamind, it's no question that Dreamworks Animation can produce good, quality films. So when Kung Fu Panda hit theaters, it was no shocker that it became a megahit, grossing $20.3 million its opening day and $60.2 million within its opening weekend alone. Kung Fu Panda went on to grossing over $631.7 million worldwide and became the highest grossing animated film of 2008, beating out Pixar's Wall-E financially.

Not only did Dreamworks' megahit bring home the bacon, but it also won over the hearts of minds of children and critics alike. Racking up an 88% on the Tomatometer, I think it's fair to say that most people really like this movie, but how will the sequel do?

Kung Fu Panda 2 is set for a release date of May 27, 2011. Will the sequel make more money like a good sequel is supposed to do? Will those people who didn't like the first movie not show up? Will that hurt the movie financially? And how will this sequel hold up against Pixar's next movie, also a sequel?

Pixar is well known for putting out one hit after the other, both financially and critically. Cars grossed over $60 million its opening weekend and went on to gross over $244 million worldwide, only making a profit of a little over $120 million. Nominated for two Academy Awards, including Best Animated Feature, Cars did not win a single one and even though it opened to mostly positive reviews, many critics agree that it doesn't live up to Pixar's best like Toy Story or Finding Nemo.

Cars has not been Pixar's most lucrative movie, so the fact that they are choosing to follow their most successful movie (Toy Story 3) up with is a sequel to it surprises me. However, I trust Pixar and I think this will be an interesting follow up.

Set for a release date of June 24th, 2011, can Cars 2 change the mind of all those negative Nancies? Will it become the highest grossing animated film of all time? Will it redeem the franchise and win the Oscar for Best Animated Picture?

Now this wouldn't be any fun if I didn't guesstimate which movie will do better. Hold on, let me think..... Hmmmmm...... No, no.......Maybe......No. Hold on, I'm still thinking... Okay. I have it now. I am assuming that Kung Fu Panda 2 will do better financially, but I predict that Cars 2 will do better critically. Why? Eh. It's just a hunch.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Circle Time Review: Winter's Bone

It's been a while since I last had an installment of Circle Time and for that I am truely sorry. But let us not dwell on past sorrows, but look towards the bright future. Here's Winter's Bone.

To say this movie is good, in my opinion, would be a gross understatement. Throughout this year, I have seen only a handful of excellent films and Winter's Bone definitely makes that list.

Jennifer Lawrence is terrific as Ree Dolly, a seventeen-year-old Missouri girl who has to support her two younger siblings and a sick mother after her father goes missing. Soon after his disappearence, Ree soon finds out that her father has put their house up for bond and that it will be claimed by the city if he does not show up for his scheduled court date.

What starts out as just another mystery film quickly develops into something much more intricate and interesting. Now, what's so great about this film is that it does this so well. The story flows along smoothly and nothing feels out of place; writer-director Debra Granik really knows her story and she tells it very well.

The other thing that makes this movie great are the preformances; virtually everybody does a nice job here. As I said earlier, Jennifer Lawrence is terrific as the lead and John Hawkes is wonderful as the crazy uncle who scares everybody. Isaiah Stone and Beth Domann also do nice jobs as Ree's kid siblings who must learn to fend for themselves.

One of my favorite things about this film is that there is so much thought behind it and so much depth to everything that is going on, yet it still manages to feel simple. Sure you have to piece together the puzzle, but it doesn't feel like work (not that doing that kind of work is ever a bad thing). I never felt overwhelmed by anything that was going on.

For it's naturally flowing story, great preformances by it cast, and seemingly simple nature, I say go out and get this movie.

Definitely see it.

Monday, November 8, 2010

50th Post Anniversary: Due Date

Pack your bags because Robert Downey Jr. and Zach Galifianakis are heading off to Los Angeles in this funny, yet superficial, unlikely buddies film. Road trip!

Let's just put it out there: this movie is funny. It works Robert Downey Jr. and Zach Galifianakis' unique chemistry together in a way that will definitely keep the Friday night crowd entertained, which is very important to a rod trip movie. However, I was expecting this movie to be great and it falls short of that.

Here are my problems with this film: With four writers, each experienced in writing comedies, this script should have been funnier than it is. Include Todd Philips in on that and I , much like Michelle Monaghan, was expecting great things. However, unlike Michelle Monaghan, I was let down at the end of this movie. Too much of the comedy here is dark humor.

There was not much to these characters. We never learn much about Ethan Tremblay (Galifianakis) other than he is aspiring to be an actor and he really misses his father and when Peter Highman (Downey) tries opening up to Ethan, the emotional bridge between the two is broken when Ethan starts laughing, which is supposed to be funny, but instead it makes us feel bad for laughing.We never get that emotional payoff scene where the two characters really connect, it sorta just happens out of thin air towards the end of the movie while we are left wondering "Wait... why is Robert Downey Jr.'s character suddenly being nice to Ethan?".

By the end of the movie, I really didn't like Peter; he  is a jerk, punching a little kid, spitting in a dog's face, cussing out Ethan, ditching him at a rest stop, almost leaving his father's remains on the side of a freeway, and in the end makes you wonder why his wife is with him in the first place. All this makes it difficult to feel glad for the guy in the end. Sure this is all funny, but, again, it makes us feel guilty for laughing.

If you like laughing at other peoples' expense then you will thoroughly enjoy this movie, but outside of all the inhumaine slapstick, there are still enough laughs for me to reccommend it for when it hits blu-ray and DVD.

Rent it.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Why I Like the Transformers Movies

Yeah, that's right. Laugh. Go ahead, get it all out of your system. I like the Transformers movies. People often laugh at me for it, but I like them. I like them, Sam I Am.

Reason 1: Transformers is freakin' awesome. Everybody loves action and giant robots punching each other in the face; it's the perfect mix. Transformers was awesome in the 1980s and now that all those kids are all grown up, they just wanna see what they knew and loved as children on the big screen. These movies are perfect for that because they follow the material well. Yes, the material is over the top and "out there", but who does over the top better than Michael Bay?

Reason 2: Just because Michael Bay movies consist of nothing outside the realm of explosions and hot babes, doesn't mean he's not good at it. He knows how to moves the camera to tell his story, even if his story lacks depth and a decent script, but who walks into a Michael Bay film thinking "Gee, I hope this is an emotionally stirring movie that wins an Oscar for anything at all"? Just because it's simple, doesn't mean it's bad. He's no auter, but Michael Bay is good at setting the mood, that is, only when the mood revolves around something getting destroyed and Transformers is all about destroying stuff- always has been.  

Reason 3: It's just fun, people. I wish that everybody would just stop taking these movies so seriously. Who cares if it's just Shia LaBeouf running around with a mcguffin while things are getting blown up? That's how the cartoon was. Besides, it's at the very least entertaining ( and I do mean "at the very least).

So there you have it. Those are the reason why I like these movies. Oh, and by the way, another thing Michael Bay is good at doing is making millions of dollars at the box office. With the original Transformers making over $300 million worldwide and Revenge of the Fallen rakin' in more than $400 million worldwide, Michael Bay is putting up digits that you probably won't see in your lifetime. And what are you doing? You're sitting here, reading reasons why I like his Transformers movies. Ha! What a waste of time. Jokes on you, ya jerk.

Friday, November 5, 2010


Dreamworks' latest 3D animated film is a superhero movie not trying to be a superhero movie by being a superhero movie. Did you understand that or am I alone here?

After How to Train Your Dragon, I had high expectations for this latest adventure from Dreamworks, both in its 3D and overall quality of the film; however, its 3D is only okay. And much like its 3D, the story wasn't developed to its highest potential.

Sure the story here is original, sorta, but it isn't enough to completely change the superhero genre forever like it wanted to. Yes it had it had a few twists and turns thrown in there for good measure, but the overall story was predictable and it didn't feel much different than anything else we are used to seeing from this genre.

In a way, it tried so hard to be different that it ended up being the same thing, if that makes any sense.

But is this movie funny? Well, it has its laugh out loud (or "lol" for all you txt deficient readers) moments, but this movie could be much funnier if 90% of the funny scenes weren't blown on the trailers. With a cast like Will Ferell, Tina Fey, Jonah Hill, and Brad Pitt, I expected this movie to be much funnier than it is and a lot of the funniest moments were only funny because it's Will Ferell.

But this movie isn't toally void of emotion. About halfway through the movie something began to happen that I did not expect to happen- I started feeling feelings. Yes, that's right, I felt. Now maybe it's just me and I'm a sucker for a good emotional scene (which I am), but there is more emotional payback out of this movie than there is a comical one. Is that good? You have to decide that for yourself.

However, if you're a fan of 80's rock then you're in luck. Megamind is like an all 80's jukebox; with two AC/DC songs (even though one is from the 70's), Michael Jackson's Bad, Welcome to the Jungle by GNR, It's the End of the World as We Know It, and more.

Unfortunately, I think this movie may only become a classic among children. Its depth and somewhat emotional payout, in the end, were no match for the forces of predictable sotrylines and spoiled humor.

You can wait for the blu-ray. I say rent it.