Friday, December 31, 2010

Review: I Love You, Phillip Morris

Grade: A

Steven Russell is a happily married man. He attends church, is a member of the local police force and cares deeply for his children. However, one day he gets into a terrible traffic accident and reassesses his life, he decides to live his life to the fullest and that means finally being honest with the world, he is gay. He moves to Florida and starts living with his new boyfriend. In order to pay for his new extravagant life, Steven becomes a con-man. He commits all kinds of insurance and credit card fraud. When he is eventually caught he is sent to jail. There he meets Phillip Morris, and the two instantly fall in love. Steven’s devotion to Phillip is so strong that when the two are released from jail, Steven becomes determined to live the perfect life together, and that means pulling off one impossible con after another.

I Love You, Phillip Morris is based on an incredibly bizarre true story. The movie opens with two great lines on the screen; “This really happened.” And then “Really, it did.” Which is both funny and true, the events of this movie are so crazy that it is hard to believe that it actually happened. I wish that I could say more but I feel that it would be giving away too much of the movie, you should really just check it out yourself to see what I mean. This movie is very funny and entertaining and has a great story to it. It is too bad that it has had the trouble that it has, trying to be released in America , It shows just how homophobic this country might still be, because this movie is great and is one of the better movies of the year.

Jim Carrey (Yes Man, Fun with Dick and Jane) plays the lead role of Steven Russell. If you ever thought that Jim Carrey wasn’t much of an actor, go see this movie. His performance is absolutely amazing, easily in the top five of the year, in my opinion. It was a funny but extremely sincere performance. Ewan McGregor (Angels & Demons, The Men Who Stare At Goats) plays the role of Phillip Morris. His performance was really good as well. I really enjoyed McGregor’s performance in this movie and it proves why I like him so much as an actor. The movie also features performances from Leslie Mann, Rodrigo Santoro and many others.

I Love You, Phillip Morris is a great movie that is well worth watching. It is really funny and has a great and oddly romantic story to it. This little movie may have almost been lost and it makes me sad how few people know of this movie’s existence because on top of being really good, it features the best performance of Jim Carrey’s career. It is a fun movie that I suggest everybody watch at some point.

Great quote: “My word is my motherfu*king bond!”

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The Best Movies of 2010

Honorable mentions: True Grit, I Love You Phillip Morris, How to Train Your Dragon, Morning Glory, Conviction, RED, Legend of the Guardians, The American, Solitary Man, Robin Hood, The Kids Are Alright.

15. TRON: Legacy

My review

What an amazing and fun movie to watch. The great cult classic from 1982, TRON, is brought back and breathed new life, thanks to the wonders of modern effects. Jeff Bridges comes back as both Kevin Flynn and Clu. The story, when you really get down to it, is almost a remake of the original but with certain twists and characters involved to call it a sequel. The visuals are absolutely spectacular, the action is fun and it is all set to the brilliant score by Daft Punk.

14. Iron Man 2

My review

A great sequel to a great movie. This movie has plenty of action and laughs in it. Robert Downey Jr. is fantastic as Tony Stark, once again, and Sam Rockwell did a great job as Stark’s nemesis Justin Hammer. Not to mention Mickey Rourke’s role as Ivan Drako. This was definitely one of the best action movies of the year. It makes me sad that director Jon Favreau won’t be returning for the third installment.

13. Let Me In

My review

What a wonderful movie that came and went with a whisper. It is a remake of a great Swedish movie, and it was done very well. The story is great and makes for one of the best vampire movies I’ve seen in a very long time. It features Chloe Moretz as Abby, the vampire, and it helps solidify her as one of the best up and coming actresses today.

12. She’s Out of My League

My review

This is hands down the best comedy of the year. It is bursting at the seams with laughs and manages to have even more heart all while adding a bit of raunch to the mix. I love this movie and keep watching it over and over. If you haven’t seen it yet, go find it somewhere and watch it.

11. Get Low

My review

This was a great little movie that hardly anybody even heard of. It features Robert Duvall in one of the better performances of his career as an old hermit who decides to have a funeral party while he’s still alive so he can find out what people really think of him, and so he can make a confession of his own. Bill Murray also stars as the owner of a funeral parlor. It is a great and sentimental movie filled with laughs.

10. 127 Hours

My review

Based on the incredible true survival story of mountaineer Aaron Ralston, who got trapped by a boulder while hiking through some canyons in Utah for five days. This movie was great to watch, loaded with character and emotion, the ending actually manage to bring me to tears. It features James Franco in the role that could define his career, just amazing.

9. The Social Network

My review

I know, it’s known as the Facebook movie, but there is so much more to it than that. To start, this movie has hands down the best writing of the year. Aaron Sorkin did an amazing job with this script, filling it with his usual mesmerizing, and quick paced dialogue. Jesse Eisenberg handled that dialogue extremely well. This movie also has great performances from Eisenberg, Justin Timberlake, Andrew Garfield, Armie Hammer, Rashida Jones and Rooney Mara. The movie has an extremely interesting story that is a lot of fun to watch.

8. The Town

My review

This movie was great. It is full of action and drama with a bit of romance. Ben Affleck did an amazing job writing and directing and gave the best performance of his career. The rest of the cast, which includes Jeremy Renner, Rebecca Hall, Jon Hamm and Blake Lively, are all great as well. This is one of the better heist movies to come out in a while.

7. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part I

My review

This is probably the best movie of the series. It is dark and very tense. The story is a lot of fun and the action is great. The performances of the main actors keep getting better, plus it was great to see Ralph Fiennes in the movie for more than 5 minutes. Then the ending leaves you dying for part II.

6. Kick-Ass

My Review

This movie was amazing, completely exceeded my expectations. This movie deserved to do a lot better than it did. Definitely one of the better stories of the year. An extremely realistic look at what could happen if a kid who maybe reads too many comics and has just the right amount naïveté to try to be a superhero. Matthew Vaughn did an amazing job directing and the cast, consisting of Aaron Johnson, Chloe Moretz, Nicholas Cage and Mark Strong, all did a fantastic job on this movie. If you haven’t seen Kick-Ass yet, do yourself a favor and check it out as soon as you can.

5. Toy Story 3

My review

This is easily the most emotional movie of the year. The good people at Pixar are amazing at creating emotional stories in animated movies. Toy Story 3 is the best movie of the Toy Story series. It has everything in it, great story, lots of humor, some action, some dramatic scenes and, as I mentioned before, tons of emotion. The conclusion of the movie, and by extension, the series, is simply perfect.

4. Inception

My review

This movie was a masterpiece. Writer/Director Christopher Nolan made an absolutely amazing movie. The story of this movie completely sucks me in every time I watch it. The whole concept of the movie is fascinating to me and Nolan really pulled it all off well. The visuals of the movie, in particular the scene at the café, are spectacular and really help make this movie as enjoyable as it is. Not to mention the phenomenal cast consisting of some of my favorite actors including Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Ellen Page, Tom Hardy, Cillian Murphy, Ken Watanabe and Leonardo Dicaprio. Inception is definitely one of the better movies to come out in a long time.

3. Black Swan

My review

What an amazing movie this turned out to be. This is Darren Aronofsky’s best movie to date, in my opinion. As well as Natalie Portman’s and Mila Kunis’ best performances yet. The story and writing of this movie are amazing. This is one of the most intriguing movies I have seen in a long time as well as being one of the most disturbing and terrifying movies I’ve ever seen. It shook me to my core and I still wanted more, it certainly left an impression. I have never seen a movie that manages to be beautiful and graceful yet unsettling and spine-tingling. Every aspect of this movie was just beautiful, a must see.

2. The King’s Speech

My review

This movie is borderline perfection. Everything about this movie is absolutely amazing. The story and the writing is just fantastic. The characters are great and you really develop an emotional connection with them. The acting is as good as it gets. Colin Firth is perfect in this movie; I’ve never seen anything like it. Not to mention the best performance Helena Bonham Carter has ever delivered. The story really pulls you in and the emotions run high. This is my pick for best picture of 2010 and I strongly encourage everyone to give it a watch.

1. Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World

My review

This movie was easily the most fun I have had at the movies in a long time. Every aspect of this movie was fantastic. The story was fun, the visuals were fantastic, and the characters were great, this movie is loaded with great jokes, amazingly fun fight sequences and a cute love story, not to mention that it’s all set to a great soundtrack. Director Edgar Wright did an amazing job with this movie, making the most visually energetic movie of the year. The movie is like watching a comic book/video game come to life and I love it. It also has a great cast including Michael Cera, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Chris Evans, Jason Schwartzman, Anna Kendrick, Brandon Routh, Aubrey Plaza and more. I could watch this movie over and over again (and have been), and every time I do, I have a big smile on my face from start to finish. I do understand that this movie is not for everybody, but I absolutely love this movie and encourage everybody to give this movie a try at some point.

The Worst Movies of 2010

Underrated Movies of 2010

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Underrated Movies of 2010

There were several movies that came out this year that I felt were sadly overlooked by the general movie going audience. I thought I’d take this time to mention a few in hopes that some people might give them a shot.

Morning Glory

My review

I think most people dismissed this movie thinking that it was probably a typical rom-com that you might find Katherine Heigl starring in where she plays a busy producer who finds a man and discovers that he is all she really needs. Instead, what you actually got was a genuinely funny movie about the producer of a failing morning show who is determined to make the show succeed because it is what she loves to do. Starring Rachel McAdams, Harrsion Ford, Diane Keaton, Patrick Wilson and Jeff Goldblum, Morning Glory is a very funny and entertaining movie to watch. It has a great story and great writing, I highly recommend checking it out when it hits DVD.

Easy A

My review

A very modern and liberal take on the classic story of The Scarlet Letter, it follows Olive, a high school student who decides to lie about having sex for the first time, once word gets out she turns into the school harlot. At the suggestion of a fellow classmate, she decides to sew a red A to all of her clothes. This is an extremely enjoyable and heartfelt movie with a great sense of humor. Emma Stone is great in the lead role and really makes the movie what it is. Easy A also stars Thomas Haden Church, Lisa Kudrow, Amanda Bynes, Patricia Clarkson and Stanley Tucci. Out on DVD now, check it out as soon as you can.

Going the Distance

My review

Probably the best romantic comedy of the year and nobody saw it. The movie is about two people, Erin and Garrett, who meet and instantly have a connection, but when Erin has to move to the other side of the country in order to get a job of her dreams, the two decide to try to make a long distance relationship work. On top of being a sweet and romantic movie it is also one of the funniest movies of the year. Drew Barrymore and Justin Long were great in this movie and absolutely hilarious. It also stars Charlie Day, Jason Sudeikis, Christina Applegate and Jim Gaffigan.


My review

Victim of bad advertising which made it look like a bad horror movie, Splice is about two genetic engineers who create creature by splicing the genes together of many organisms, including human, they then begin to care for the creature as though it were their own child. This was a great sci-fi movie that has similar themes to The Island of Dr. Moreau. Adrian Brody and Sarah Polley were great in this movie. If you like sci-fi, you should give Splice a shot.


My review

All that I’m going to say about this movie is that it is easily one of the funniest movies of the year and it is the best SNL movie since Wayne’s World. This movie pays homage to/makes fun of so many great 80’s action movies. Will Forte and Val Kilmer were absolutely hilarious.


My review

Based on Robert Rodriguez’s fake trailer for Gringhouse, this movie is the most outrageous and over the top action movie I think I’ve ever seen. Starring Danny Trejo as the titular Machete, this movie has it all; action, violence, sex and humor. Really just plain fun to watch and is totally worth watching just to see Danny Trejo as Machete say “Machete don’t text.” It also stars Robert De Niro, Jessica Alba, Steven Seagal, Michelle Rodriguez, Jeff Fahey, Cheech Marin and Don Johnson.

Cop Out

My review

Director Kevin Smith’s first film that he didn’t write, Cop Out is a hilarious buddy cop movie that pays homage to all the great buddy cop movies of the 80’s. They even got Harold Faltermeyer to do the score for it. If you love buddy cop movies than you need to see this movie. Way funnier and way better than The Other Guys.

Don’t forget to check out my article about the Worst Movies of 2010.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Review: How Do You Know

Grade: C

Lisa has played softball her whole life, so much so that softball is her life, so when she gets cut from the USA softball team she finds herself lost and trying to figure out what to do with her life. She decides to start dating in order to take her mind off things. In comes Matty, a professional baseball player, who seems very nice and charming but is a bit f a player. She also meets George, who is going through some hard times himself. He is currently being investigated by the government for fraud at his father’s company. Lisa finds herself in the middle of this love triangle and is trying to decide which guy is better for her and will make her happy.

How Do You Know had an interesting concept; what happens when two people meet on the worst day of their lives. Unfortunately, the follow through was pretty weak. For being billed as a romantic comedy, there aren’t many laughs. There are some amusing points in the movie but sadly the jokes fall way short. The story is still kind of interesting and fun to watch at times but it almost lost me a couple times. James L. Brooks is usually a pretty funny writer but he definitely missed the mark on this one.

Reese Witherspoon (Walk the Line, Sweet Home Alabama) plays the lead role of Lisa. She was definitely enjoyable in this role and really handled it well. I really like Reese Witherspoon and liked her in this movie, but there wasn’t much she could do with some of the uninteresting dialogue and writing. Paul Rudd (Dinner for Schmucks, Role Models) plays the role of George. Rudd was definitely the best part of this movie. He was very funny and extremely enjoyable in this movie, you really root for his character the whole movie. Owen Wilson (Wedding Crashers, The Big Bounce) plays the role of Matty. He was ok in the movie, but his character is never really likeable, which makes the ending pretty predictable. The movie also features Jack Nicholson and Kathryn Hahn.

How Do You Know is an ok movie but it isn’t much of a comedy. The writing is kind of weak and Jack Nicholson is really only in the movie to try to draw a crowd. If you really want to watch this one, wait for DVD.

Great quote: "Never drink to feel better, only drink to feel even better."

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Review: The King's Speech

Grade: A+

The Duke of York, who is the son of King George V, has been plagued with a speech impediment all his life. Now that radio and TV broadcasts are becoming more of a necessity, He has been all but forced into speech therapy. After going to several different therapists, he is about to give up, until his wife discovers Lionel Logue, who seems to be a bit unorthodox but is convinced he can help the Prince. Reluctant at first, the Duke begins to go through many different and wild techniques that ultimately begin to slowly help his speech. Along the way, a close friendship is formed between the two. But when the King dies and his brother abdicates the throne, “Bertie” reluctantly assumes the position of King George VI, shortly before World War II breaks out. Now, with the help of Lionel Logue, he must find his voice in order to help lead his country through war.

I love movies like The King’s Speech. Movies that simply make you feel better after watching them. This movie is amazing, everything about it was just amazing. The writing was fantastic and the acting was superb, but I’ll get to that later. The King’s Speech is based on a true story, and a great one at that. It is loaded with so many wonderful moments, one of my personal favorites is when, the now, King George VI and his wife, Queen Elizabeth, go to visit Lionel at his house. Lionel’s wife is out when they start their session but she comes home early to find the Queen sitting at the table drinking tea. One of the funnier moments is when Lionel encourages Bertie to swear, because he doesn’t stammer when he swears. Not to mention watching King George VI give a very important national address at the end of the movie, awe inspiring. It was great to watch some of the characters and know what lies down the road for them. For instance his daughter Elizabeth, who is around 10 in the movie, goes on to be the current Queen of England. Winston Churchill pops up a couple times as well. This movie is just fantastic and is full of great moments and it was all extremely well written and shot, a truly beautiful movie.

Colin Firth (A Single Man, Love Actually) plays the lead role of Bertie, aka King George VI. He did an amazing job in this movie, the best performance of the year in my opinion. You really believed he had this speech impediment, he pulled it off flawlessly. The opening scene where he is attempting to give a speech at Wembley Stadium but he is struggling through it, is absolutely heart breaking. Helena Bonham Carter (Harry Potter, Alive in Wonderland) plays his wife, Queen Elizabeth. She was amazing in this movie as well and gave what is easily the best performance of her career. The subtleties of her performance were great and really brought a lot of emotion to the character. Geoffrey Rush (Pirates of the Caribbean, Elizabeth) plays Lionel Logue. Rush was fantastic in this role. He seemed to put a ton of heart into this performance and made the character extremely likeable. These three gave the best performances of the year, in my opinion. The movie also features great performances by Michael Gambon as King George V, Guy Pearce as King Edward VIII and Timothy Spall as Winston Churchill.

This movie is definitely one of the best movies of the year. I cannot recommend it enough. Please, go out and see this masterpiece of a movie, you won’t be disappointed. Like I said, I left his movie feeling great because it is a very touching and inspirational movie; it just makes you feel better. I loved The King’s Speech.

Great quote: “This family has been forced to become those lowest of creatures; we have become actors.”

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The Worst Movies of 2010

This year, I have decided to split my end of the rear review into two parts; the worst movies of 2010 and the best movies of 2010.

5. Lovely Bones

My review

I had high hopes for this movie. I had heard from many people that the book is amazing, Peter Jackson is a great director and the cast seemed pretty promising. Instead what I got was a huge mess of a movie. The story was pretty uninteresting and ridiculous, I never really felt anything for any of the characters and this movie has one of the worst endings ever in motion picture history, I can’t remember the last time I left a theater so angry. If the book is anything like the movie, I shouldn’t read it because I might try to organize a book burning.

4. Shutter Island

My review

Some people seemed to love this movie, and I’m not entirely sure why. I have a feeling that it is simply because of Martin Scorsese and many people seem to have an obsession with him where they think that he can do no wrong. Well, in my opinion, he can and did go very wrong with this movie. To start, it was the worst advertising campaign ever. That trailer was everywhere and for what felt like almost a year before the movie finally came out. The problem with the trailer is that if you’ve seen the trailer, you’ve seen the movie. I predicted the ending of the movie from the trailer. Then we get to the actual movie where within 5 minutes, my prediction of the ending is solidified. Leonardo DiCaprio was way over acting in this movie for some reason, it was kind of unbearable. The story was uninteresting and since it was so easy to figure out the ending, I couldn’t wait for it to be over. This movie was the biggest waste of 2 and a half hours to come out this year. That was another problem, it was overly long, as I was watching I found about 30-45 minutes that could have been cut with it not affecting the story at all and in fact maybe making it all flow a little better.

3. Jonah Hex

My Review

Talk about a great idea turning into a complete disaster. A western with a bit of a twist starring Josh Brolin and John Malkovich based on a comic book of the same name, sounds great to me. What we got was some of the worst writing and story telling I’d seen all year, the cast did their best with what they were given, but nobody could save this movie. The only good thing about this movie is that it was short. Even WB, who made the movie, knew it was bad and didn’t bother to really advertise for it much and didn’t even submit it for rating until a week or two before its release.

2. Skyline

My Review

Well, the teaser trailer had me intrigued, but the full trailer made me nervous. I recently found out that this movie was made for around $10 million, which makes my prediction right. I can pretty much guarantee that the Strause Brothers, who directed the movie, blew the entire budget on the special effects and worried about story, plot, writing and acting later. The movie was pretty and the special effects looked great, but the story was horrible, the acting was intolerable and the writing was even worse. Not to mention that the characters were horrible and you wanted them all to die. This movie also had one of the worst endings of the year.

1. Jack-Ass 3D

My Review

This movie easily replaces Borat as the worst movie ever made, ever. Also, the fact that this movie did as well as it did and the fact that people were willing to pay $15+ to see someone literally defecate into the air has officially caused me to lose all faith in humanity. That scene pretty much sums up the movie as a whole. It is vile, disgusting, repulsive, obnoxious and nauseating. I literally almost vomited a couple times while watching this movie. I can’t believe that this managed to get into theaters and with no problems. I feel that anybody who paid to see this movie and enjoyed it, need to be sterilized so we don’t have to deal with their dimwitted, brainless spawn.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Review: True Grit

Grade: A-

After her father is murdered by hired hand Tom Chaney, 14 year old Mattie Ross sets out to hire the toughest U.S. Marshall she can find in order to bring the man to justice. She meets Rooster Cogburn, a U.S. Marshall she believes has true grit, but who has a bit of a drinking problem, and hires him to help her track down the murderer. He reluctantly agrees to help her but is resistant to her joining him on the journey. Against his wishes, she joins him as they trek into the Indian Nations to find Chaney, who is hiding out with his gang in the mountains. They are also joined by a Texas Ranger, LaBoeuf, who is hunting Chaney for his own purposes. The trio finds a true adventure full of danger and surprises and they are all have their limits tested along the way.

Every once in a while a remake of a classic movie comes along that manages to really live up to the original and possibly surpass it as well. Well, True Grit is that movie. This movie, which is based on a book by Charles Portis and is technically a remake of a classic John Wayne movie, was great and I think might be better than the original. But, while it is technically a remake, it is also a very original movie as the Coen Brothers (No Country for Old Men, Burn After Reading) did an amazing job making this movie their own. The writing was great and the scenery was fantastic. True Grit is easily one of the best westerns I’ve seen in a long time. The story keeps you interested and, as is the Coen Brothers way, there is a fair bit of humor mixed in.

Jeff Bridges (Tron: Legacy, Crazy Heart) plays the role of Rooster Cogburn, a hard drinking U.S. Marshall. Bridges was perfect for this role, he really just did an amazing job. His portrayal of Cogburn was a lot of fun to watch and is one of the better performances of the year. Relative new comer, Hailee Steinfeld plays the role of Mattie Ross, a steadfast young girl who is determined to find her father’s killer. Steinfeld is incredible, she is surrounded by three seasoned actors and she manages to keep up with them and have one of the best performances in the movie. I honestly wouldn’t be surprised if her performance goes up for some awards. Matt Damon (Hereafter, Invictus) plays Texas Ranger, LaBoeuf. He did a really good job with this role, which was kind of a step out of the norm for Damon. LaBoeuf isn’t always a likable character, but manages to play it really well. Josh Brolin (You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger, Milk) plays Tom Chaney. Brolin is amazing in this role, but unfortunately the roles isn’t as big as I had hoped. This performance is probably one of his best.

True Grit is a movie that is full of grit. It is a fun movie to watch and is the best western of the year and one of the best of the decade. The Coen Brothers have yet to disappoint and just keep putting out great movies. If you like westerns, go see this movie, it is fantastic. If you like the cast, go see this movie as it features some of their best performances. If you like movies, this movie is definitely worth checking out.

Great quote: “I thought you were gonna say the sun was in your eyes, or rather, your eye.”

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Review: The Fighter

Grade: B-

Mickey Ward has always looked up to his older brother, Dickey, so much so that he decided to follow him in his footsteps and become a boxer. It’s all kept in the family as his manager is his mother, Alice, and his brother trains him. Unfortunately, there is a lot of inner turmoil within the family, a lot of which is caused by Dickey’s drug addictions. This has all caused Mickey to be considered a stepping stone in the boxing community and he isn’t really taken seriously. With his new girlfriend and some built up confidence, Mickey decides to look outside his family for help with his boxing career and begins to move up quickly, fighting in bigger and bigger fights.

The Fighter is based on the true story of boxer Mickey “Irish” Ward. It is already being nominated for some awards and is looking to be an Oscar contender. It is a decent movie and I enjoyed watching it, but I’m just not into boxing or boxing movies. Thankfully, the movie doesn’t really focus on the boxing but rather on the family and the conflicts within. I will admit that it is good story telling and it has some amazing acting. It is a very nice story about a working class man who is almost to the point where he is considered too old for boxing who decides to change direction in his life and go after his dream. The other side of the story that deals with Dickey and his drug addiction was fascinating as well.

Mark Wahlberg (The Other Guys, The Lovely Bones) stars in the movie as Mickey Ward. This is probably Wahlberg’s best performance to date. He is really good in it and just plays this role extremely well. Christian Bale (The Dark Knight, Public Enemies) plays Mickey’s brother, Dickey. Bale was fantastic in this movie. His style of method acting really pays off for this role and he was very enjoyable to watch in this movie. He apparently lost a lot of weight for the role, because he looks scary skinny in this movie, which works for the role but was still kind of weird. Amy Adams (Julie and Julia, Doubt) plays Charlene, Mickey’s girlfriend. Adams is one of my favorite actresses out there today and she did an amazing job with this role. It was great to see her take on a different role than she’s done in the past and she really pulled it off. The movie also features Melissa Leo, Jack McGee and others.

The fighter is a decent movie with a somewhat interesting story that is loaded with some of the best performances of the year. All of the performances were definitely made this movie worth watching. It is worth watching but, unless you know who Mickey Ward is, you could probably do just fine waiting to rent this one.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Review: TRON: Legacy

Grade: A

Kevin Flynn, the head of technology super giant Encom, disappeared over 20 years ago without a trace. His son, Sam, doesn’t want anything to do with the company that no longer resembles his father’s dreams. One day, an old friend of Kevin’s, asks Sam to go to the old arcade that his father once owned, as he got a mysterious page. When Sam goes to the arcade, he accidently gets sucked into another world, filled with menacing programs and dangerous gladiatorial games. Sam soon reconnects with his long lost father and discovers that he has been trapped in this beautiful, yet dangerous world all these years. Along with Quorra, a confidant of Kevin’s, father and son embark on a dangerous journey across the digital cyber world in order to stop a dangerous enemy from crossing over into the real world and possibly destroying it.

I know I’m probably going to upset some people with my first comment, but I don’t care. TRON: Legacy definitely improves on its predecessor, TRON, which, despite its status as a cult classic, is rather cheesy and boring. It brings back everyone’s favorite parts of the first one and includes some new stuff as well. This movie is fun and exciting to watch. Not to mention that this movie is probably the most visually stunning movie I’ve seen all year. The effects allow the cyber world in this one to look far more advanced than that of the original; thankfully they do have a valid explanation of this. The story was written well, allowing this movie to be more than just a special effects vehicle. The light-cycle and disc battles were really fun and were quite nostalgic to watch. Although I do think it is funny that Disney has buried the original, you can’t find it anywhere, because they are kind of embarrassed by it and don’t want people to be possibly turned away from seeing the new one, but then they make reference to it in this movie and mention some things that, unless you’ve seen the original, you won’t really get.

One of the best parts of TRON: Legacy is the music. Disney managed to get the perfect score for this movie by getting electronic music duo Daft Punk. They did an amazing job with the score for this movie. On top of their type of electronic music fitting the movie perfectly, it is actually one of the best overall scores of the year, it’s in the top three of the year in my opinion.

Jeff Bridges (Crazy Heart, The Big Lebowski) plays the roles of Kevin Flynn and, thanks to the wonders of modern technology, Clu 2.0. It was great to see Bridges reprise these roles. He plays Kevin Flynn at his current age, and does a great job at that, and with the help of visual effects he plays Clu at 20 years younger. It was kind of interesting because this means that he plays both a hero and the villain of the movie. He did an amazing job with both parts and it was great to watch. Garrett Hedlund (Death Sentence, Eragon) plays Sam Flynn, the son of Kevin Flynn. He did really good job in this movie and helped make this movie as enjoyable as it is. The movie also features performances by Olivia Wilde, Bruce Boxleitner, Beau Garrett and Michael Sheen.

TRON: Legacy is an incredibly fun movie to watch and I can’t wait to see it again. It is written well enough that you don’t have to have seen the original in order to watch this, although it can make it more fun. This is one of the few movies that I do believe is well worth seeing in IMAX 3D. The 3D is actually really good and the movie has variable aspect ratios when viewed on IMAX.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Review: Black Swan

Grade: A+

Nina is a hard working and very dedicated dancer in a New York City ballet company. She lives with her over-protective mother who used to be a dancer herself and tries to control every aspect of Nina’s life. When the company’s director decides to replace a veteran prima ballerina, Beth, with a younger, fresher face for their new season’s opening production of Swan Lake, Nina is his first choice. Then, the arrival of a new dancer, Lily, begins to throw Nina off her track. She becomes even more obsessed with her role and increasingly paranoid that Lily is out to take the role from her. As Nina becomes more obsessed with perfection, she begins to mirror her character in Swan Lake, as she begins to change from the sweet, innocent girl that she once was into a much more deceitful and sensual person.

Wow, that was my first reaction after seeing this movie. I was looking forward to seeing Black Swan and I had a feeling it was going to be good, I did not expect it to be this good. Director Darren Aronofsky did a fantastic job creating probably the most intense movie of the year. The whole atmosphere of the movie is rich with paranoia and obsession. The main theme of Black Swan is obsession, from Nina’s obsession with the role, her performance and perfection to her mother’s obsession with having Nina fulfill the dreams she never did and more. This movie really shows how obsession can control your life and destroy your mind. This is one of the best psychological thrillers I have seen in a long time, as well as being one of the most terrifying and disturbing movies I’ve seen in a while. I can’t remember the last time I watched a movie and literally had chills running down my spine. Not to mention that the dancing and music in the movie is awe inspiring at times. This movie really shows a side of ballet not usually seen in movies. Also, when you really get down to it, Black Swan is a new and very modern take on Swan Lake, and I loved it.

Natalie Portman (The Other Boleyn Girl, V for Vendetta) plays the central role of Nina. Portman was absolutely amazing in this movie, easily her best performance to date. She managed to perfectly pull off the Nina’s innocence in the first part of the movie as well as her obsession and paranoia that transforms her into the person she is at the end of the movie. I cannot get over this performance and it has to be a lock for an Oscar nomination. Mila Kunis (Date Night, The Book of Eli) plays Lily, a new dancer in the company. Kunis continues to surprise me more and more. She got her start on That 70s show and I never really thought she would become a quality actress but she has definitely proved me wrong. Her performance in Black Swan is amazing and is sure to get some recognition. Her character is the exact opposite of Nina, and Kunis did it so well. Vincent Cassel (Ocean’s 12, Eastern Promises) plays the role of Thomas Leroy, the director. Cassel did a great job in this movie and his performance was fantastic as part of the driving force behind Nina’s obsession. Barbara Hershey (Falling Down, The Last Temptation of Christ) plays Erica, Nina’s mother. She did an amazing job playing the super over protective mother and was very disturbing at times. Winona Ryder (The Informers, A Scanner Darkly) plays Beth, a veteran prima ballerina. While Ryder isn’t in the movie that much, her performance leaves an impression. All around, this movie had some of the best performances of the year.

Black Swan is an amazing movie that is extremely well made, well written and perfectly acted. It is a dark and disturbing movie that will leave you shaken and wanting more. I feel that this movie is an absolute must see movie of 2010. As a warning to anyone possibly thinking of taking their small child to this movie (there were several where I saw it), Black Swan is rated R and for a reason. It is highly sensual and sexualized and contains some violence and disturbing imagery.

Great quote: “That was me seducing you, when it should be the other way around.”

Friday, December 10, 2010

Review: The Next Three Days

Grade: B

John and Lara Brennan live a happy and normal life with their son. Then one day, their life is turned upside down when Lara is arrested and convicted of murder. John has spent three years going through the appeals process, trying to prove her innocence. When the courts decide that they will no longer accept new evidence, Lara attempts to kill herself because of the thought of having to spend the rest of her life in jail. This is when John gets desperate and begins to do research and form a plan to break her out of jail.

The Next Three Days is an interesting look at a man desperate to reunite his family by any means necessary. John Brennan is a loving husband and caring father, he doesn’t know anything about breaking someone out of jail, he barely knows how to handle a gun. He’s not some criminal mastermind or a genius of any sort, he teaches English at a community college. So writer/director Paul Haggis did a great job taking this everyman type character and showing how his love for his wife and his desire to make his family whole again can make someone go to desperate measures to get his wife back. The movie does start out a little slow, but the overall experience is really enjoyable and the actual breakout scene is great.

Russell Crowe (Robin Hood, 3:10 to Yuma) plays the role of John Brennan. Crowe did a pretty good job with this role and really portrayed all the different aspects of this character well. Elizabeth Banks (Role Models, Zack and Miri Make a Porno) plays the role of Lara Brennan. I am a huge fan of Elizabeth Banks, I think she is very funny but this was a different role for her. Banks really handled this dramatic role extremely well and helps show just how much potential she has. Liam Neeson (The A-Team, Taken) plays Damon Pennington, a man who has escaped from jail seven times. Neeson was great in this role, but it was such a small role that it is almost unnecessary to cast him.

The Next Three Days is a great dramatic thriller and is a lot of fun to watch. If you are into movies like this, or heist movies, you should definitely check this movie out, it is worth it.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Review: The Tourist

Grade: A-

Elise is a mysterious woman who is being followed by Scotland Yard in Venice because of her connection to a wanted man. One day, she receives a note from this man telling her to get on a train and find a man similar to his size and build to throw off the agents following her. This is how she meets Frank Tupelo, a math teacher from the United States. Frank is simply a tourist on vacation in the beautiful city, but the alluring Elise changes all of that. Before he knows it, Frank is being chased across roof tops and shot at by Russian mobsters. What started simply as Elise following the orders of a former lover, begins to turn into something more.

The Tourist is a great movie that is very enjoyable to watch. However, once again, the trailer is lying to you. It is not the shoot ‘em up, action spy thriller that the trailer makes is out to be. Instead, the movie focuses on the characters themselves and the relationship developing between them. I really enjoyed the overall story of The Tourist, it has a bit of romance mixed beautifully with a mystery story. Not to mention the beautiful scenery of Venice, which is practically a character itself, in this movie. The writing is great and there is a lot dialogue because they really worked character development. The movie has a fair amount of humor mixed in with everything that helps make this movie that much more enjoyable. It does take a little bit to get going, but I personally don’t mind when a movie is a little slower, as long as the story is good.

Angelina Jolie (Salt, Wanted) and Johnny Depp (Alice In Wonderland, Public Enemies) play Elise and Frank, respectively. These two were so great together that I hope they do another movie together soon. Jolie played the role of distant and mysterious very well and Depp complimented that perfectly with his neurotic and timid performance. I really enjoy both of these actors, so seeing them together in a movie like this was an absolute joy. While I enjoyed Jolie’s performance greatly in this movie, Elise is a bit similar to many of her recent roles. I loved Johnny Depp’s performance in this movie, this might be one of his better roles. Paul Bettany (Legion, The Da Vinci Code) plays Acheson, a Scotland Yard agent trying to find Elise’s former lover. Bettany was great in this movie, even though he wasn’t in it much. The movie also features performances by Timothy Dalton, Steven Berkoff and Rufus Sewell.

The Tourist is a great movie, but again, it doesn’t feature much action and really focuses on the story. It is very enjoyable and is one of the better movies to come out this year. The story, characters and scenery are all great. I do recommend viewing it, but if you are unsure about paying to see in theater, it could wait until it’s available to rent on DVD.

Great quote: “Elise, you are the least down to Earth person I have ever met.”

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Review: Love and Other Drugs

Grade: B-

Jamie Randall is a smooth talker who can use his outgoing personality and charm to sell almost anything. So one day when he loses his job at an electronics store, he finds a job at Pfizer selling pharmaceuticals at doctor’s offices in Ohio. One day he meets Maggie, an alluring free spirit, and is instantly attracted to her and is determined to get a date with her. When she finally agrees, Jamie finds out that Maggie won’t let anybody, or anything, tie her down. At first he is ok with just having sex with her, but soon he realizes that he is developing much stronger feelings for her. This takes them both by surprise, but Jamie is persistent while Maggie keeps trying to convince him to leave.

Love and Other Drugs was a fun and funny movie that has an identity crisis about halfway through. The first part of the movie is great and everything leading up scene where Jamie and Maggie meet is great and hilarious and just pure fun. Then the relationship begins and it’s still fun with lots of humor (and tons of sex) thrown in there, basically your typical romantic comedy. Then all of a sudden, a little over halfway through the movie, the mood of the movie takes a sharp left turn and it becomes a serious drama about a woman, Maggie, with Parkinson’s. Now her Parkinson’s isn’t that bad yet (she’s 28) but there is a serious dramatic scene involving her dealing with it, then shortly after that we meet a whole bunch of people with Parkinson’s and they discuss how they live with it. It almost felt like a PSA for Parkinson’s and I kept expecting Michael J. Fox to show up and start talking about the Michael J. Fox foundation. These scenes were very well done and they make you think and help raise awareness about the disease, it just felt a little out of place. What makes them feel even more out of place is that in the middle of these dramatic scenes there are random awkward jokes, often slapstick style jokes. It was entertaining to me because during these scenes, when one of the jokes would happen, I would hear people laughing in the theater, but it was nervous laughter, like they were thinking “That’s kind of funny but I’m not sure if I should be laughing during this situation.” Then the movie tries to return to the romantic comedy genre, but you and the characters in the movie are shaken by these events but they keep putting these jokes in there and it just feels forced at times.

Jake Gyllenhaal (Prince of Persia, Jarhead) plays Jamie Randall, a smooth talking pharmaceuticals rep. Gyllenhaal is great in the movie and is very enjoyable in this role. He manages to handle the fast talking and the comedic aspects of the movie really well, as well as the more dramatic stuff. Anne Hathaway (Alice In Wonderland, Get Smart) plays the role of Maggie, a 28 year old artist with stage 1 Parkinson’s. Hathaway is great in this movie and did well with the comedy but was really great with the dramatic stuff. If that performance wasn’t in this movie, it would almost warrant an Oscar nomination at times. She also chose to be nude in this movie, a lot, like almost to the point where it was unnecessary. There are many sex scenes in this movie, so much so that it made the elderly couple next to me really uncomfortable. The movie also features Oliver Platt, Hank Azaria, Josh Gad, Gabriel Macht, Judy Greer and more.

Love and Other Drugs is a fun romantic comedy with an identity crisis. It really is an enjoyable movie and is well worth seeing. I liked it, and it has one of the more powerful scenes of any movie this year in it, I just didn’t get why in the middle of all that was happening in this movie, they felt it was necessary to really depress you.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Review: Morning Glory

Grade: A-

Becky Fuller has a very busy life as a producer on a morning television program in New Jersey. However, one day she is let go so they can bring in a more experienced executive producer. Not willing to give up her dream of one day working on the Today Show, Becky applies for every morning show in the area. Finally, she lands a job as an executive producer on a struggling morning show called Day Break. She immediately starts to make changes to the show including bringing on a veteran news anchor as a co-host. However, everyone is still clashing on the show and things are beginning to look worse than ever. As tension mounts on the set, Becky gives it her all in order to try to save the show from being cancelled.

Watching the trailers for Morning Glory, my expectations were pretty low. I had a feeling it was going to be a bit chick flicky and focus on her trying to find a relationship. I am glad that this movie really surprised me. It is genuinely funny and has a great story and characters you can get behind. The romance aspect is actually in the background and is a very small part of the movie. This movie is more of great, feel good comedy. The movie mostly focuses on her trying to pull everything together in the chaos that is Day Break, and make a morning show that people will actually want to watch. The writing was great and a lot of the dialogue was genuinely good and funny.

Rachel McAdams (Sherlock Holmes, Wedding Crashers) plays the lead role of Becky Fuller. McAdams was great in this movie and really managed to handle the quick and sometimes frantic dialogue really well. This is one of her better performances, in my opinion, and she keeps getting better as an actress. Harrison Ford (Indiana Jones, The Fugitive) plays Mike Pomeroy, a veteran news anchor. Ford was great in this movie and played his role well, but there were parts in the movie where he was talking like Christian Bale does in Dark Knight, really gravely for some reason. Other than that, Ford was very enjoyable in this movie. Diane Keaton (Because I Said So, Something’s Gotta Give) plays Colleen Peck, a staple of Day Break, as she has been there longer than anybody else. Keaton was very enjoyable in this movie and was pretty funny at times as well. One of the best parts of the movie would be the squabbling and back and forth bickering between her and Ford. There were a couple a couple moments where I kept expecting Ford to blurt out “Jane, you ignorant slut.” The cast also includes Jeff Goldblum, Patrick Wilson and more.

Morning Glory is a surprisingly good, fun, funny and enjoyable movie. I do highly recommend this movie, it is one of the better feel good comedies of the year. Rachel McAdams and Harrison Ford are great together and all of the dialogue is great.

Great quote: “Are you going to sing?”

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Review: Faster

Grade: B-

An ex-con has been waiting to be released from prison for ten years. When the day finally comes, he has one goal in mind, revenge. As soon as he leaves the prison walls, he sets out to hunt down those who killed his brother over ten years ago and makes his first kill within a couple of hours of his release. As he drives around town in his classic Chevrolet Chevelle, seeking out the people that killed his brother, he begins to uncover a bigger mystery. During his campaign, however, he is being tracked down by a veteran cop and an egomaniacal hitman.

Faster started out strong and was a fun grindhouse-eque movie (Tarantino could take some notes) showing “Driver” getting out of jail with pure intensity and revenge in his eyes, but kind of loses its way about halfway through. This movie doesn’t have much in terms of plot, but it didn’t really need to. It seemed to be inspired by grindhouse movies of the 70’s, which is evident in the soundtrack as well, so it was supposed to be nothing but action and violence. This is the movie that Death Proof should have been. The beginning of the movie is awesome and intense, keeping you on the edge of your seat, but then you the movie starts shoving “Cop”s family down your throat, still don’t know if they were trying to make him sympathetic or not, as well as kind of doing the same with “Killer”, the assassin hired to kill Driver. However, despite the awkward middle parts, the movie does finish strong. One of the interesting things about this movie is you never really find out the names of most of the main characters.

Dwayne Johnson (Race to Witch Mountain, Southland Tales) plays the lead role of Driver. I was so happy to see Dwayne Johnson finally drop the kid movie stuff he had been doing for a while and get back to raw action. He did not disappoint, this is the Dwayne Johnson I fully enjoy in movies. His character was very intense and terrifying and he pulled it off, and you never find out his real name. Billy Bob Thornton (The Informers, The Astronaut Farmer) plays Cop. I like him but he seemed to be kind of phoning in his performance in this movie. It was still an enjoyable performance but it just wasn’t great. Relative new comer Oliver Jackson-Cohen plays Killer, an egotistical hitman. This Jake Gyllenhaal look-a-like was fun to watch in this movie and really pulled the role off well. The movie also features Carla Gugino, Tom Berenger, Mike Epps, Maggie Grace and Moon Bloodgood.

Faster is a fun and action packed revenge movie that is great to see when you’re out with some friends. So if you are into these kinds of movies, then you will probably enjoy it, if you don’t like movies that are based almost solely on revenge, you probably won’t like this. It’s not the best revenge movie I’ve ever seen but it is pretty fun to watch.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Review: Tangled

Grade: B-

After her mother received the healing powers of a magical flower, Rapunzel was born with those same healing qualities transferred to her long blond hair. Mother Gothel was using the flower to stay young forever and when she discovers that if you cut the hair off, it turns brown and will never work again, so she decides to kidnap the baby princess and lock her away in a tall tower that is hidden in the forest forever. Almost 18 years later, a thief by the name of Flynn Rider scales the tower in an effort to find a place to hide and ends up being held captive by Rapunzel. She strikes a deal with Flynn for him to act as a guide and to take her out of the tower and travel to where the floating lights come from that she sees every year on her birthday. Along the way, Rapunzel has the greatest adventure of her life and discovers the truth about the world and herself.

Tangled is a charming and cute family movie. The animation is beautiful and the writing, for the most part, is pretty fun and entertaining. I have to admit that for making a full length kids movie about the tale of Rapunzel, the people at Disney made a pretty good movie. The movie is filled with laughs which really make the movie worth watching. It also has a ton of heart and has some very touching moments. However, there are some downsides as well. To start, it seems as though at the last second Disney decided this should be a musical so rather than writing songs it seems as though they just had the characters sing the next couple of their lines. The songs in Tangles are extremely cheesy and really are pretty bad when you get down to it. Also, there is a certain creepy factor that went along with the story for a while. You don’t find out how old Rapunzel is (about to turn 18 conveniently) until towards the end of the movie and for some reason, with that long blond hair and the way she acts, I felt as though she was maybe 14 years old, so to watch her fall in love with a man who seems to be in his mid to late twenties, and vice versa, seemed a bit weird for most of the movie.

Mandy Moore (Because I Said So, American Dreamz) does the voice of Rapunzel. Seeing as 90% of the singing in the movie is done by Rapunzel, this was pretty good casting. Moore did a pretty good job with this voice work and even though the songs were bad, her voice was really good. Zachary Levi (TVs Chuck) does the voice of Flynn Rider. Levi was very fun, funny and enjoyable in this role. He had all the right voice inflictions at all the right times. The movie also features the voices of Donna Murphy (who sings probably the worst song in the movie), Ron Perlman, M.C. Gainey, Jeffrey Tambor, Brad Garrett, Paul F. Tompkins, and more.

Tangled is a great movie for a family outing. The kids are going to love it, especially the girls, and the parents will find plenty of enjoyment as well. It is a great Disney movie that is unfortunately tainted by bad music. Thankfully the music isn’t so bad that it takes enjoyment away from the movie, but I really wish they had left it out.

Great quote: “Frying pans! Who knew, right?”

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Review: 127 Hours

Grade: A+

The true story of Aaron Ralston, a mountain climber from Colorado, who decided to go canyoneering one weekend in Utah without telling anyone where he was going. While hiking and climbing through a canyon, he was working his way down into a crevasse when a boulder became dislodged and crushed his arms against the canyon wall, trapping him there, with less than a liter of water and the equipment he had, mostly ropes, a light and a cheap multi-tool. Over the next five days, Ralston examined his life and begins to imagine things due to the condition he’s in, and documents the whole thing on his handheld camera. Finally, he realizes that he has the strength and will to live and decides to take drastic measures in order to free himself from the boulder, scale a 65 foot wall and hike over 8 miles until he finds help.

A truly amazing movie. Everything about this movie is simply amazing. The story is awe inspiring, the writing was great, the direction was great and the performances were fantastic. Danny Boyle (Sunshine, Trainspotting) did an incredible job with 127 Hours, one of his best movies yet. One of the best parts about this movie is that you really get the feeling of claustrophobia that Ralston must have been going through during this situation. He is pinned in a very narrow section of the canyon and Boyle used a lot of tight shots and close-ups to show this and get that feeling across to the audience. He would also do something interesting and mix those claustrophobic shots with wide panoramic shots of the surrounding area, which were beautiful, but showed just how isolated he was. This movie really has a great style and the climactic scene where Ralston cuts his arm off (I’m not spoiling anything, this is why the movie was made) is disturbing but extremely well done.

James Franco (Milk, Pineapple Express) plays the lead, and practically only, role in the movie, Aaron Ralston. Franco keeps proving himself over and over again as one of the greater actors of this generation. His performance as Ralston was spectacular and one of the better performances of his career. He really did a great job showing the torment that Ralston was going through in those 127 hours that he was trapped, showing how Ralston began slipping into insanity, of sorts, while trapped, and of course his performance during the climactic scene and the end of the movie was just amazing. I really hope that he gets some recognition from his performance in this movie because he truly deserves it. The movie also features some performances by Amber Tamblyn, Kate Mara, Treat Williams, Clémence Poésy and Kate Burton.

This is one of the must see movies of 2010. As I have said, everything about it is just amazing. It is also one of the best “will to survive” stories I have ever heard. It is great and I recommend that everybody try to get out to see this movie. Yes, the scene where he cuts off his arm is intense and disturbing but it is also brief, so don’t let that stop you from seeing it.

Great quote: “Don’t worry, I’m only a psychopath on weekdays and today is Saturday, so…”

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Review: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1

Grade: A+

The adventure continues in part one of the final installment in the Harry Potter saga. Voldemort is growing in power and strength. He now has control over the new minister of magic and no one is safe. Harry, Ron and Hermione have decided not to return to Hogwarts, but instead go on a perilous journey to find and destroy all seven of the evil Horcruxes, the key to defeating the Dark Lord. However, the trio doesn’t really know where to begin, so they spend most of their time trying to come up with a plan to find and destroy the Horcruxes. With the world in increasing amounts of danger, they set out on their task, but Voldemort and all of his Death Eaters are searching for Harry Potter. Will they accomplish their task in time?

Deathly Hallows part 1 is probably the best in the Harry Potter series so far. This movie is the darkest, most bleak and most tense movie of the series as well. It is filled with excitement at every turn and manages to through in a few laughs here and there as well. It is a very well balanced movie that flows very nicely and keeps you on the edge of your seat the whole time. The visuals in the movie were great. There were many scenes in the movie with great scenery. The battles were very fun to watch. Really just everything about this movie was great. The story was very gripping and there were some pretty terrifying moments. This is not the 11 year old Harry Potter running around having fun with his new friends anymore. This movie fully deserved it’s PG-13 rating, it is pretty terrifying and, at times, somewhat violent. It definitely has some more mature themes to it than its predecessors. The director, David Yates, did a great job with this movie and I can’t wait to see the final installment next July.

I really enjoyed the overall style of the movie. As I said before, it is dark and bleak. In one scene, you see a group of workers inside the Ministry of Magic putting together pamphlets on the “dangers” of muggles and muggle born witches and wizards. The pamphlets look a lot like something you would have seen during the Red Scare when the government was warning people against communists. Similarly, there is an interrogation scene shortly after that is very reminiscent McCarthy’s Un-American Activities Committee from the Red Scare as well. This all really helped portray the overall tone of the movie, which is of course fear.

The movie stars, of course, Daniel Radcliff as Harry Potter. Radcliff keeps getting better and better with every movie. He does a great job of portraying the characters inner torment and his love for his friends. Emma Watson returns as Hermione. Watson does a fantastic job in this movie. I feel that her character showed more emotion than any other in this movie and she played the part perfectly. Rupert Grint is back as Ron Weasley. Grint did a pretty good job with the character, it’s nice to see this character maturing a bit more and gaining some self confidence finally. Ralph Fiennes (Red Dragon, Clash of the Titans) plays the evil Lord Voldemort. Fiennes is an amazing actor and brings his A-game to this role. Voldemort is finally given a significant part in the story and Fiennes does his best to make the character as powerful, menacing and intimidating as possible. The movie also features great performances from Bill Nighy, Bonnie Wright, Alan Rickman, Helena Bonham Carter, Jason Isaacs, Helen McCrory, Tom Felton, Timothy Spall, Robbie Coltrane, Brendan Gleeson, James Phelps, Oliver Phelps, Julie Walters, Mark Williams, George Harris, Natalia Tena, David Thewlis, John Hurt Evanna Lynch, Rhys Ifans and Imelda Staunton.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows part 1 is an absolute must for any Harry Potter fan. If you haven’t seen any of the movies, now is the time to watch the first six movies just so you can experience this one. It is fantastic. The movie, of course, leaves you with a huge cliffhanger and I can’t wait until part 2 in July when we can all finally finish the series.

Great quote: “Dobby didn’t mean to kill. Dobby only meant to maim or severely injure.”

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Review: Conviction

Grade: A

Betty Anne Waters and her brother, Kenny Waters, were about as close as a brother and sister could be growing up. One day, in 1983, Kenny was arrested and convicted of murder then sent to jail with a life sentence without the possibility of parole. Betty was the only person who believed that Kenny was innocent and vowed to find a way to get him out. She is a mother of two, but spends all of her free time finding ways to help Kenny. She finally decides to get her GED and go to law school herself in order to free her brother. Along with the help of Barry Scheck and the Innocence Project, she finally succeeded in her goal and Kenny was released from jail after 18 years.

Conviction is based on an incredible true story and is an extremely well made movie. The writing is spectacular and really makes this movie an emotional watch. The direction was pretty good and really just everything about it was great. The make-up that they used on some of the actors, to show either their aging or to get them in character, was amazing and sometimes makes it hard to believe that it is still the same actor. Conviction is easily one of the best movies of the year and is probably on its way to a couple Oscar nominations.

Hilary Swank (Amelia, Million Dollar Baby) plays the lead role of Betty Anne Waters. I’m not usually a fan of hers but I do have to say that she was really good in this movie. Swank really pulled off this character very well and it is probably the best performance I have seen her give. Sam Rockwell (Iron Man 2, Choke) plays the role of Kenny Waters. Rockwell is an extremely, extremely talented actor who I don’t feel gets the recognition he deserves. Hopefully, after this year, people will be more familiar with him. He gives an incredible performance as Kenny Waters, one of the best performances of the year. Minnie Driver (Good Will Hunting, TVs The Riches) plays Abra Rice, a fellow classmate of Betty Anne’s who decides to help her with her case. I have always liked Minnie Driver and I’m glad to see her in a movie like this, she did a great job. The movie also features great performances by Melissa Leo, Juliette Lewis, Peter Gallagher and more.

Conviction is an incredible story of sibling love and is a truly inspirational movie and story. I feel that this movie was extremely well done and I hope it goes on to get some recognition. It features some of the best performances of the year.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Review: Jackass 3D

Grade: F

All faith in humanity is lost.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Review: Skyline

Grade: F

In Los Angeles, a couple old friends are getting back together for one of their birthdays. After a long night of partying, everyone passes out only to be woken up by mysterious blue lights. These blue lights wake up most of Los Angeles and draws people towards them like a moth to the flame and disappear. The next day the blue lights return but this time alien crafts begin to appear and begin to suck people up by the thousands. It’s an alien invasion and weird alien creatures, large and small, are roaming the city taking any people they can find and seem to be indestructible. A small group of people band together in order to survive and maybe even try to fight back against the strange aliens.

Wow, that is really all I have to say. I saw the trailer for this movie and was intrigued by it but my expectations were about as low as they can get, and Skyline didn’t meet those expectations. It is amazing to me how bad this movie is. Much like I predicted from the trailer, it seems that the makers of Skyline blew their entire budget on special effects then hired second and third rate actors and ignored story, plot, believability, science and everything else. The movie looks spectacular and very realistic, but that is about it. The acting and writing was absolutely terrible. You know how when you watch a movie, specifically horror type movies, and you can just tell who is going to die because the character is a douchebag of some sort and is just asking for it? That is every character in the movie. I hated every single character in this movie, they were all simply bad people. This movie is also completely unoriginal, stealing bits and pieces from War of the Worlds, V, Cloverfield and a dash of Independence Day. I mention that this movie ignores science because once you find out why these aliens are here, I personally think, knowing what I know about biology and evolution, that a creature like these could possibly exist. Lastly, for now, the ending of this movie is absolutely horrible and will make you leave the theater with hatred in your heart.

The movie stars Eric Balfour (The Spirit, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre) plays the lead character, Jarrod. Aside from looking like a male Sarah Jessica Parker, he is a terrible actor and I kind of hated his wussy, dumb character. David Zayas (The Expendables, TVs Dexter) plays Oliver, a manager of the building the group is hiding in. When you first meet Oliver, he seems like a nice character, but after the invasion, he becomes a huge jerk and you want him to die. Scottie Thompson (TVs NCIS?) plays Elaine, Jarrod’s girlfriend. This is the only somewhat decent character in the movie, but you still never really care for her. The movie also features bad performances from Donald Faison, Brittany Daniel, Crystal Reed and Neil Hopkins.

Skyline is a very good looking movie but is very painful to actually watch and sit through. On top of being a bad movie, I can almost guarantee that we will be seeing a sequel. Seriously, do not watch this movie, and if you absolutely must, wait for DVD and rent it from Netflix or at Red Box.

Great quote: “We need to go to the top floor, it’s the safest place to be.”

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Review: Unstoppable

Grade: C+

In Pennsylvania, a couple of rail yard workers accidentally let an unmanned train lose on a main track. This train is a half mile long and is towing many cars loaded with combustible fluids and toxic chemicals and is heading towards the city of Stanton, Pennsylvania, which has a raised curve that the train will surely derail on, possibly wiping out the city. While the rail company is trying, and failing, to come up with a good idea to stop the train, a young conductor and a veteran engineer decide to chase down the train on their lone locomotive in a drastic attempt to bring the runaway train under control and bring it to a top before it decimates the town.

Unstoppable is inspired by true events, but I wonder how much of it is true because I think some of the events of this movie would have been all over national news but I never heard a thing about it. This movie is pretty entertaining, but really not that great. Tony Scott (Top Gun, Déjà Vu) has a talent in this movie of making a little bit of action, seem like a lot. For instance, there is a scene where they say that the train is going about 20mph but the camera work and everything makes it seem as though the train is going about 80mph. The movie also seems to have something against Pennsylvania State Patrol as they are all portrayed as complete idiots in this movie.

Denzel Washington (The Book of Eli, Inside Man) plays the role of Frank, a veteran engineer with the rail company. Washington was great, as he always is, playing this character. He had a quick wit and really showed the characters determination to stop this train. Chris Pine (Star Trek, Smoking Aces) plays Will, a new conductor, fresh out of training. Pine did a great job and continues to improve as an actor. He really helped make this movie enjoyable. Rosario Dawson (Seven Pounds, Clerks II) plays Connie, an employee at the rail company helps encourage the two to ignore the company and stop the train themselves. Dawson was great as usual in her role, maintaining a nice balance of drama but throwing in some witty lines here and there. The movie also features Kevin Corrigan, Kevin Dunn, Ethan Suplee, T.J. Miller and more.

Unstoppable is a fun and exciting movie, but I feel it also has many faults. As is said, even though it seems action packed, after you watch it you will think about it and realize not much really happened.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Review: Megamind

Grade: A-

When Megamind was just a small baby, his parents launched him off the planet in small rocket while their planet was being destroyed, as did a family on a near planet. Both rockets ended up on Earth in Metro City. The other boy grew up to become Metro Man, savior of Metro City. Megamind, on the other hand, grew jealous of Metro Man’s popularity and became his sworn enemy. Over the years the two fought over and over, usually after Megamind would kidnap the beautiful Roxanne Ritchi. One day, Megamind finally accomplishes his goal and manages to kill Metro Man and take over the city. Now with Metro Man out of the picture, though, Megamind becomes bored and begins to concoct a new evil plan to save him from his boredom. At the same time, while in disguise, he begins to fall for Roxanne and question his way of life.

Megamind is a very fun take on an old story of superheroes and their nemesis. This movie answers the age old question “What would happen if the villain actually won?” Well, the answer harkens back to the conversation Batman had with the Joker in The Dark Knight when the Joker says “I won’t kill you because you’re just too much fun. I think you and I are destined to do this forever.” It is really entertaining to watch Megamind run around the city after he finally wins but then getting bored at the lack of excitement because he has nobody to fight.

Megamind is a very fun and entertaining movie to watch. It manages to be consistently funny throughout, throwing out gags and jokes left and right. It is also a ton of fun to keep an eye out for all of the Superman references, of which there are many. One interesting aspect of this movie is its soundtrack. It consists of many bands and songs that I think it’s main demographic won’t know or recognize. It consists of songs by AC/DC, Ozzy Osbourne, Guns N’ Roses and George Thorogood. The songs fit in the movie really well though and make it that much more fun.

Will Ferrell (The Other Guys, Stranger Than Fiction) voices Megamind and is hilarious in the role. Ferrell really manages to bring this character to life and make him fun and entertaining. One of the more entertaining things about the character is the random words that he would mispronounce. Ferrell really helps make this movie what it is and I don’t think it would have been the same without him. Tina Fey (Date Night, TVs 30 Rock) does the voice of Roxanne Ritchi. Fey is always funny and does a great job with the role in this movie. David Cross (Alvin and the Chipmunks, TVs Arrested Development) does the voice of Minion, Megamind’s best friend. I’ve always found his funny and he really did a great job with the voice of this character. Brad Pitt (Burn After Reading, Ocean’s 11) does the voice of Metro Man. I am a huge fan of Pitt’s but it really wasn’t necessary for him to do this voice. The character is hardly in the movie and he doesn’t have the most recognizable voice, in fact at times I think he sounds more like George Clooney. The movie also features the voices of Jonah Hill, J.K. Simmons and Ben Stiller.

Megamind is a fantastic kids movie but it’s another one of those great ones that adults can love too. I know I really enjoyed this movie and would watch it again. I really have to recommend this movie to everyone, it is just plain fun. As a note, in terms of seeing this in 3D or IMAX 3D, it was ok in these formats and it's up to you if you want to spend the extra money on these formats, but the film plays just fine in standard 2D.

Great quote: “Coming up: Are you ready to be a slave army? 10 things you need to know.”

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Review: Due Date

Grade: A-

Peter Highman is a high-strung father-to-be who is on a business trip in Atlanta. He is on his way home to his wife in Los Angeles, who is pregnant and could give birth any day, when he runs into a man by the name of Ethan Tremblay, who manages to get the both of them put on the no-fly list. Now Peter has no wallet or any money and must find a way to travel across the country in a couple days so he can be home in time for his child’s birth. Ethan offers Peter a ride across the country and he reluctantly accepts. Ethan proves to be more trouble than he’s worth as he is very annoying, very dumb and keeps getting them in increasing amounts of trouble and almost gets them killed a couple times as well.

I have been excited about this movie for a while, when I heard that Todd Phillips, the director of The Hangover, was making a road trip comedy with Robert Downey Jr. and Zack Galifinakis, I knew this had the potential to be comedy gold. I am happy to report that Due Date does not disappoint. This is easily one of the funniest movies of the year, I was laughing from start to finish. There are some great gags in the movie, one of my favorites is when Peter Highman punches this annoying kid and teaches him a lesson. The comedy just never lets up, which makes me happy because more and more comedies these days are only funny for the first half then gets serious for the rest of the movie, not Due Date. This is one of the best road trip/buddy comedies ever.

Robert Downey Jr. (Iron Man, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang) plays the role of Peter Highman. He is absolutely perfect in this role. His delivery of his lines in spot is spot on, he plays high-strung very well and he delivers his lines with perfect comedic timing, simply hilarious. Zack Galifinakis (The Hangover, It’s Kind of a Funny Story) plays the role of Ethan Tremblay, an aspiring actor. Galifinakis gives funniest performance to date in this movie. I don’t quite know how to describe it, but he was just so perfect in this role, again with great timing and delivery. What really makes this movie work though, is how well these two play off each other. While both actors and characters are funny in their own way, they are side-splitting hilarious when they are together. I was curious as to how it would work out, but this is one of the better comedy pairings I’ve seen in a long time. The movie also features Michelle Monaghan, Jamie Foxx, Juliette Lewis, Danny McBride, RZA, Matt Walsh and more.

This is definitely one of, if not flat out the funniest movie of 2010. If you are looking for some good laughs, you will find them in Due Date. I was afraid that this was going to be one of those movies where all the funniest stuff was in the trailer and the rest was going to be disappointing, not the case at all. The movie contains much funnier stuff than what’s in the trailer, and the stuff in the trailer manages to stay funny and at times be funnier than it was in the trailer when you see it in context of the movie.

Great quote: “I’m sorry we drank your father.”

Friday, October 29, 2010

Review: Middle Men

Grade: B

Jack Harris was a happily married family man living in Houston, Texas in 1995. He makes a decent living fixing problem companies. One day, a lawyer he knows suggests that he goes out to California to meet with two men who seem quite idiotic but may have just started the most successful business ever. The internet was a relatively new discovery when Wayne Beering and Buck Dolby decided to put porn on the internet and charge for it. Within weeks they had made hundreds of thousands of dollars. Problem was they didn’t quite know what they were doing, in comes Jack to help them out. Before he knows it, Jack is mixed up with drug addicts, mobsters, porn stars, conmen and the FBI and is getting sucked into a new lifestyle as he makes million with the internet industry.

I have been looking forward to this movie for a while, and it was pretty good. One of its only faults though, is that it can’t really tell what it wants to be. It starts as a comedy based on a true story and in an instant it turns into a kind of serious drama and then ends on a sentimental almost Disney-esque moment. Outside of that, it is great and very enjoyable. When it’s funny, it’s really funny. Watching the antics of some of the characters is absolutely hilarious. Some of the serious moments are pretty interesting. The writing and storyline is actually very enjoyable, in my opinion. Of course, since it is at its heart a movie about the internet porn industry, it is a very R rated movie.

The cast of this movie is very entertaining and ranged. Luke Wilson (Death at a Funeral, Henry Poole is Here) plays the lead role of Jack Harris and narrates the movie. Wilson was great in this movie and hit all the notes of the movie just right. I really like Luke Wilson and actually like him more than his brother, Owen, and wish Luke had a bigger career. Giovanni Ribisi (Avatar, Flight of the Phoenix) plays the role of Wayne Beering. Ribisi was great in this movie, he was funny when he needed to be, and really pulled off the part of a crazed drug addict very well. Gabriel Macht (The Spirit, The Recruit) plays Buck Dolby, a former rocket scientist who helped introduce porn to the internet. Macht did a great job with his role as well and was very enjoyable in the movie. The movie also features great performances from James Caan, Jacinda Barrett, Rade Serbedzija, Laura Ramsey, Terry Crews, Kelsey Grammer, Graham McTavish and Kevin Pollack.

Middle Men is a great and fun movie to watch. It tells a bizarre story about how the porn industry started on the internet that is so strange, it has to be true. I found the story rather interesting and if you are interested in this subject, you’ll probably like it too.

Great quote: “If I’ve learned one thing, it’s that business is a lot like sex. Getting in is easy, pulling out is hard.”

Friday, October 22, 2010

Review: You Will Meet A Tall Dark Stranger

Grade: B

Follows a pair of married couples and their marriage woes. To start, Alfie and Helena have recently gotten a divorce. Since the divorce, Alfie has put himself back on the market hoping to pick up a young attractive woman. Helena has dipped into depression and does not know what to do with her life know so she goes to a friend of hers who is a psychic and follows everything she says. Their daughter, Sally, and her husband, Roy, have been having some problems as well. Sally just wants to be a mom but Roy does not seem to like this idea. Sally, becoming increasingly frustrated, begins to have feelings for her boss, Greg. Roy can’t keep a job and is determined to be a writer but no one will pick up his books. After a while he begins to fall for his attractive neighbor, Dia. The movie follows these characters troubles and passions as it all leads them out of their minds.

You Will Meet A Tall Dark Stranger is the latest from writer/director Woody Allen (Whatever Works, Manhattan Murder Mystery). While this isn’t Allen’s best work, it is better than almost everything he put out during the mid-nineties through most of the 2000s. The story is actually very entertaining and enjoyable to watch. The humor, while it may not always be laugh out loud funny, is still very amusing. A lot of the jokes are rather subtle but very entertaining. One of my favorite gags in the movie I barely caught, Helena’s psychic friend, Cristal, at one point is giving her a tarot reading, but she is using a normal deck of playing cards. The movie is narrated and I still have mixed feelings about that. At times the narration is helpful and entertaining and at other times it’s annoying and distracting, especially since it’s not narrated by anyone in the movie.

The cast of this movie is just fantastic. Anthony Hopkins (The World’s Fastest Indian, Silence of the Lambs) plays Alfie, a man going through a mid-life crisis a little too late in life. Hopkins was just great in this movie, as he always is. It was definitely one of his more subtle performances but still very enjoyable. Gemma Jones (Harry Potter, Bridget Jonse’s Diary) plays Helena, who seems a little bit crazy. She was great and very funny in her role. Naomi Watts (The International, King Kong) plays Sally, Alfie and Helena’s daughter who’s experiencing marital problems herself. Watts was very enjoyable in this movie and it was great to see her talking with her normal accent. Josh Brolin (Milk, No Country For Old Men) plays Roy, a washed up writer who falls in love with the girl next door. Brolin was fantastic in this movie, one of the better performances in the movie, in my opinion. The movie also features performances by Antonio Banderas, Freida Pinto, Ewen Bremner, Pauline Collins, Lucy Punch and Anna Friel.

You Will Meet A Tall Dark Stranger is a very enjoyable comedy, in my opinion. It tells a good story and throws in a few laughs. The ending is great, in my opinion. If you are looking for a comedy that actually requires a little bit of thought and doesn’t rely on gross stunts and people getting hit in the groin 100 times over in order to attempt to make the audience laugh, then this movie is for you. I definitely recommend checking out this movie at some point.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Review: RED

Grade: A

Frank Moses is a retired CIA agent living what he has come to think of as a dull existence in retirement. One day, his quiet life is disturbed when a hit squad descends upon his house. Furious and determined to get to the bottom of who is trying to kill him, he meets up a woman, Sarah, whom he has been talking to on the phone a lot, and explains his situation. Then in order to go even further into his investigation and to fight back against those trying to kill him, he seeks out some old friends who are retired assassins and spies. Together they all uncover a deep secret that goes much higher than they could have imagined.

This movie is fantastic and pure entertainment to watch. RED, which stands for Retired Extremely Dangerous, is based on a DC graphic novel by Warren Ellis and Cully Hamner. The story is a lot of fun and the action is top notch. Not to mention that the movie is full of laughs. All of the characters are just great. It is a lot of fun to see what retired life might be like for people who used to lead very dangerous and exciting lives. The story is very enjoyable and the writing is fantastic. This movie really manages to balance all of the action, suspense and comedy just right. I can’t wait to go see this again. There are moments in this movie that will make you want to get out of your seat and cheer.

One of the reasons that this movie is so great is the casting choices. Bruce Willis (Die Hard, Cop Out) plays ex-CIA operative, Frank Moses. Willis is great as he has always been the best at mixing action with comedy. Somehow this man just manages to get more badass with age. Mary-Louise Parker (Solitary Man, TVs Weeds) plays Sarah Ross, a call center worker whom Frank has feelings for. She was great in this movie and was a lot of fun to watch in this type of movie, she really held her own. Morgan Freeman (Invictus, The Dark Knight) plays Joe Matheson, a former CIA operative himself now living in a retirement community. Freeman was great in this role and it was nice to see him to something a little different. He nailed the action and the jokes so well. John Malkovich (Burn After Readin, Being John Malkovich) plays Marvin Boggs, a very paranoid former CIA op. Malkovich was probably the funniest part of the movie. He was absolutely perfect for this role and kept me laughing in every scene. Helen Mirren (The Queen, State of Play) plays Victoria, a retired assassin. For some reason, Mirren’s presence in this movie is part of what made it so great. Something about a magnificent actress like her known more for playing rather sophisticated and proper characters, running around in this movie with a huge sniper rifle and firing a machine gun… priceless. The movie also features Carl Urban, Richard Dreyfuss, Brian Cox, Ernest Borgnine, Rebecca Pidgeon and more.

If you like action and you like comedies, RED is the movie for you. The whole cast is just great in it and the movie is just plain fun to watch. It’s movies like this that make it worth it to go to the theater.

Great quote: “I never thought I’d say this but… I’m getting the pig!”