Monday, February 28, 2011

A Blurb About 'The Eagle'

Kevin Macdonald's The Eagle tells the story of Marcus Aquila (played by Channing Tatum) who crosses Hadrian's Wall into Northern Britain in search of The Eagle, Rome's symbol of honor, which his father lost on his last expedition, in order to restore honor to his family's name and Rome herself.

Channing Tatum isn't a very diverse actor. He seems capable of playing only one type of role and this is it. Unfortunately, his performance doesn't help and this movie doesn't fully peak on the inspirational level that it wants to and for everything that happens, it's kind of boring.

Review: Drag Me to Hell (DVD)

After years of sidetracking to other projects, Director Sam Raimi returns to the genre that gave him his start and made him so famous. Welcome back, Sam.

Christine Brown is the nicest person you'll ever meet and Alison Lohman does an outstanding job making her one of the most likeable characters that I've seen, on screen, in a while. Christine works as a loan officer at the local bank. Convinced that she's capable of making the tough decisions, she turns down an old lady's plee for an extension on her home loan in order to impress her boss and, hopefully, get a leg-up on a promotion. The old lady then places a curse on Christine, who must now seek help from a psychic in order to prevent her soul from being dragged straight to Hell.

Drag Me to Hell is a shocking, often funny, horror movie filled with nudges to obvious cliches in the horror genre; from the perpetrator who won't die to the most implausible circumstances such as a conveniently placed anvil hanging up in your toolshed above the perp's head and a skate in your hand so you can cut the rope holding it up. Sam Raimi loves to exploit these conventional tactics and in doing so provides the humor that makes his movies stand out from others in the genre.

Even the title is a throwback to the blatantly named horror films of the 1950s such as Teenage Zombies, Night of the Blood Beast, Attack of the Giant Leeches, The Blob, and From Hell it Came. It is this kind of approach that makes Drag Me to Hell and other Sam Raimi films so much fun to watch.

With that said, this movie didn't exactly keep me on the edge of my seat but it did provide enough startling "gotcha" moments to keep my adrenaline flowing.

Overall, I think Drag Me to Hell is a successful return to satirical horror for Raimi that is sure to satisfy fans and wet their appetites until his third coming.  

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Review: Unknown

Liam Neeson is back in Europe, wreaking havoc and unleashing hell. Naturally this is bad news for the bad guys, but is it necessarily good news for us?

I would like to say it is. I would also like to say that this film is much like its rugged, older brother Taken in that it's almost all action all the time. Alas, Unknown is the brainier, more passive twin with a much more profound premise. That's right all you adrenaline junkies, you're actually going to have to think this one through.

Neeson plays Dr. Martin Harris, an American botanist who travels to Berlin with his wife, played by January Jones, to give a presentation at a biotech confrence. Martin's world is flipped upside down when a car crash robs him of most of his memory. After awaking from a four-day coma, Martin finds that nobody, including his own wife, remembers him and that some other guy has taken his place.Without any identification, Martin scours the streets of Berlin looking for answers.

Liam Neeson is an expert in this type of role. In fact, his performance is the most magnetic thing about this movie and for such a formulaic, internationall thriller such as Unknown, the filmmakers did a nice job with filling the archetypal stereotypical supporting roles with people like Diane Kruger, Bruno Ganz, and the always creepy Frank Langella. All these performances add a lot to the overall enticement of the film.

Another thing that adds to the enticement of this film is, of course, the plot itself, which a lot of critics have been saying twists too much. I don't agree. The filmmakers were careful not to give anything away too soon which keeps you involved throughout. Yes, the revelation is sort of anticlimactic but it isn't anything too overwhelming or that will make you hate this movie. Besides, it's not the destination, it's the trip.

As far as movies for 2011 go, Unknown is the first to not completely suck. With a terrific cast, lead by action hero Liam Neeson, and an intriguing premise that will keep you guessing, you can finally spend some money on a movie without total bordem setting in.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Review: Big Mommas: Like Father, Like Son

Through the years, mankind has found enjoyment out of watching masculine dudes dress in drag. So much so that Hollywood has given us exactly that, over and over again, to the point where we've become desensitized to it.

Lawrence regrettably returns to his most prominent role as Big Momma in this totally unnecessary third enstallment of the franchise. This time around, Lawrence must go back undercover as Big Momma to recover a flash drive hidden away in the bowels of the Georgia Girl School for the Arts. Unfortunately his son (played by Brandon T. Jackson) witnessed a murder and must accompany his father in order to keep hidden from the bad guys.  

What follows? A bunch of unfunny, unconcievable dialouge and grotesque slapstick (as if we really needed to see Big Momma or her great niece naked). Nothing any of these characters has to say is fuuny or witty and after a short while it becomes apparent that this script is lacking even the slightest signs of intelligent life. It's amost as if every character is engaged in a compettition of who can utter the dumbest line.

Eventually this new 'Big Momma' begins to cater to every unfunny, racial stereotype typical of this type of comedy. We got the horny black man looking for love in all the wrong places (it was only remotely funny in the first 'Big Momma'), the black kid who wants to drop college to become a hip-hop star, the white bad guy with a funny accent, and of course the preppy white, teenage girl who thinks that being skinny means being hot.  

None of this is entertaining and it all turns this film into a boring, predictable, unfunny comedy that is an early contender for worst movie of the year. Here's to hoping that Martin Lawrennce retires the fat suit for good.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Review: I Am Number Four

With teen-based novels such as Twilight, Harry Pottter, and Percy Jackson and the Olympians all finding huge success in Hollywood, Producer Michael Bay and Director D.J. Caruso give it a shot with Pittacus Lore's I Am Number Four. Does it work?

Well, if you find filmmaking to be an entertaining form of art used to tell stories and not just a way of suckering people out of their money, then you probably won't be surprised when I say this: No. It doesn't.

With a cast made up of people like Alex Pettyfer, Timothy Olyphant, Dianna Agron, and Teresa Palmer, there is definitely no shortage of good looking people. Fortunately, Michael Bay is used to substituting authenticity and talent for sex appeal. Everybody here looks too old to still be in high school and nobody can act, but none of that matters as long as they all look good- classic Bay. 

Alexy Pettyfer plays John, an extraterrestrial who, along with eight others, are the last of their kind who have been sent to earth as infants in order to save their lives. Together, these nine are prophesied to one day save their race, but first they must fend off an group of evil, alien bounty hunters who are picking them off one by one.

Sure, the premise is interesting enough, but the execution is sadly lacking. As I said earlier, nobody in this film can act which begins to take its toll once the boring teenage angst and predictable high school drama begin to kick in not too long into the movie and we're supposed to take it seriously. It was like watching a little seven-year-old girl play with her Barbie and Ken dolls (still waiting for them to get back together).

Speaking of predictability, holy cow, you don't have to see this movie to know what's going to happen. The beginning was some pretty interesting stuff and it grabbed my attention for sure, but that didn't last long once the title slide hit and, just like every other film last deacade, cut teenage boys were jet skiing to some distasteful punk rock. From there, it was pretty much just another film adaptation of a girly teen novel.

But it's Michael Bay so there has to be some action. Don't worry, all you adrenaline junkies will get your fix, if only for fifteen short minutes towards the end. That is, if the rest of the film doesn't put you to sleep first.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Review: Just Go With It

When somebody asks you to fake being their wife so that they can get some from some girl they just met and it leads into living a complete lie for an entire week accompanied by pointless shenanigans, you say no.

Adam Sandler keeps up his losing streak starring as Danny, a plastic surgeon who tricks half-witted women into bed by wearing a wedding ring and making up some sob story about a fictitious wife who beats him. Jennifer Aniston is likeable but not probable as Danny's apathetic assistant who just goes with it, even allowing her children to be brought in on it without even batting an eye. Sandler and Aniston do work well together; however, it isn't enough to make this a good movie.

The supporting cast, for the most part, is annoying and not even a star like Nicole Kidman or funnyman Nick Swardson can do much to help out. Even the children, played by Bailee Madison and Griffin Gluck, can get irritating at times with their constant malicious scheming and whinning. Actually, none of these characters are plausible. Sandler is a jerk who sleeps with a different woman every weekend and then tells Aniston about it, which makes me wonder why she falls in love with him in the first place and then he spends almost the entire movie treating her kids like dirt yet, in the end, they all love each other and we're supposed to buy into it.

This movie pretty much follows the same dull layout as many other Adam Sandler film. As my Law of Sandler states: once you've seen one Adam Sandler film, you've seen them all. Adam plays an ignorant jerk who somehow still finds success in his life, meets some nice girl, falls in love, lives happily ever after, while still finding time to treat some kids and his friends like garbage.

Adam Sandler knows how to ruin a perfectly decent comedy: take a potentially amusing situation and throw in a bunch of vulgar or silly antics that take away from the integrity of the film. Thanks to this, a lot of the humor in Just Go With It  falls flat. Case in point: in one scene Swardson pile drives a sheep, something that shold be funny but isn't because he is also performing a number of gross actions to the sheep.

Just Go With It is a lame romcom that fails as both a romance and a comedy. The unlikeable characters coupled with Sandler's trademark high jinx makes for yet another boring, lewd, Adam Sandler misfire and with a runtime of almost two hours, it all lasts for far too long.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Review: The Roommate

In a world where teen slasher films have given way to mindless, horny partying, The Roommate doesn't exactly stand out but definitely fits in.

As I sat in my seat and looked around, I noticed that pretty much the entire theatre was empty and that the only seats taken were occupied by pairs of teenage girls, all texting and giggling relentlessly. If that wasn't enough, I knew I was in trouble when the title slide hit, followed by a montage of the LA party scene, all accompanied by tasteless pop rock.

And the teen thriller cliches don't stop there. In the beginning party scene alone, me and my girlfriend were able to point out and predict pretty much every stereotypical incident that exist in this type of movie, down to the cute guy spilling the spiked punch all over to get the girl's attention, and they all happen. From there, the rest of the film follows a predictable string of events that ultimately turn The Roommate into a snoozefest.

Not only is Sonny Mallhi's script formulaic, it doesn't even live up to its categorized genre; there isn't anything thrilling about this movie. At no point in this film was I on on the edge of my seat waiting for whatever might come next. Everything came slowly and when something did happen, it had the intensity of a highly anticipated sloth race.

The performances in this film are bland. Leighton Messer is only OK as the psychopathic roommate who has relationship issues with her parents as well as her new fashion student of a roommate, played unenthusiastically by Minka Kelly. There is almost no depth to these characters and by the time the filmmakers actually attempted to explore Messer's backstory, I had already lost interest.

Above all, this film idolizes beauty in the form of skinny, white females. You'd be hard pressed to find anybody of any other ethnicity in this film, even as an extra. In fact, the only African American chick in this film disappears literally ten minutes into the film for no apparent reason, along with many other characters who are just dropped and never seen or heard from again.

By the time the end credits hit, I was filled with a plethora of emotions. First, I couldn't believe I actually paid to see this and by the end I was fed up with the chatty, overexcited teenage girls who actually bought into this crap. But even more so, I was just glad it was all over.