Thursday, April 29, 2010

Review: A Nightmare On Elm Street

Grade: B

A group of high school students all appear to be having the same nightmares. In the dream a man, who is horribly burnt and wears a glove with four blades embedded on the fingers, is chasing after them trying to kill them. The problem is that when he cuts you or hurts you in your dream, you are physically injured as well in reality. This man is killing more and more teens in their dreams and now Nancy and her friend Quentin are being chased by the man in their dreams. As Nancy tries to find out who the man is and tries to find a way to stop him, she discovers a grand conspiracy formulated by the parents in the community.

This is a remake of the classic A Nightmare On Elm Street from only 26 years ago in 1984. Even though I am not really a horror fan, especially horror movies of late, I have always enjoyed the Nightmare On Elm Street series. This movie is a very fun remake and they even have a couple scenes that are almost shot for shot remakes of the original. However, I feel that the writers of this version took a little too many liberties with the original story and changed it just a little too much so I still definitely prefer the original. They changed certain aspects of Freddy’s past for whatever reason but I guess there are worse things they could have done. The movie is also a little slow, it starts off with a bang but then I don’t think it really picks up again for another hour. None the less, it is a far better remake than the Friday the 13th remake from last year. Speaking of, they took little bits from most of the Nightmare movies and even bits from the Freddy vs. Jason movie that added to some of the nostalgia.

When I first heard that they were remaking this movie all I could think was that nobody could replace the infamous Robert Englund as Freddy Krueger. Well, much to my surprise they found the only man who could fill those shoes when they cast Jackie Earle Haley (Watchmen, Shutter Island) to play the gloved slasher. He was absolutely perfect in the role and his performance alone as Krueger makes this movie worth watching. His voice just matches the role so perfectly and his mannerisms were just really creepy and scary at times, not to mention his twisted sense of humor with many of his lines. Not to mention the new Freddy Krueger make-up is great and really creepy. Some people might have a hard time coping with the new Freddy simply because this is the first time ever that Freddy hasn’t been played by Robert Englund. The movie also features decent performances from Rooney Mara, Kyle Gallner, Katie Cassidy, Thomas Dekker and Connie Britton.

This movie is a lot of fun and is one of the better remakes in recent history. If you love horror movies and/or if you love the Nightmare On Elm Street movies, definitely check this movie out.

Great quote: “Did you know that after the heart stops beating the brain continues to work for seven minutes. We still have six minutes to play.”

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Review: The Losers

Grade: A-

Rogue, Pooch, Cougar, Jensen and Clay are members of a CIA black ops team who call themselves the Losers. While on a mission in Bosnia to bring down a drug lord, the team is betrayed by a man in the CIA by the name of Max. Max, and the rest of the world, think that the Losers are dead. Really, Clay and his men are trying to make money anyway they can and are looking for information on Max so they can get their revenge and return to their lives and families. One day, they meet a mysterious woman, Aisha, who tells them she knows where Max is and is willing to fund their operation to kill him by any means necessary. At the same time, Max is secretly buying extremely dangerous weapons and plans to use them to start a war.

This movie, based on the comic book series of the same name, is surprisingly good an entertaining, despite its PG-13 rating. The movie is loaded with action and even more humor. I was really surprised by it all. The story is really good and keeps you interested through the whole movie. This is the first of three A-Team-esque movies coming out this year (The others being Expendables and A-Team of course) and I feel that it will be the best of them. Unlike last weeks comic book adaptation Kick-Ass, the trailer for Losers doesn’t misrepresent the movie, if you liked the trailer you will love this movie. It is a very fun movie to watch, that is for sure. I would say though, that this movie would have been a little better if it were rated R. I say this only because I prefer realism and I find it a bit ridiculous to see this team of black ops shooting countless people dead but not a drop of blood is seen. To me that is kind of weird and messed up.

The cast of The Losers is really what attracted me to the movie, it stars Jeffery Dean Morgan (Watchmen, Taking Woodstock.) as Clay, the leader of the Losers. I am a pretty big fan of him and he did a fantastic job as the leader of the group. Zoe Saldana (Avatar, Star Trek) plays the mysterious Aisha. Saldana is a very talented actress and she shows that in this movie, she’s great. Chris Evans (Fantastic Four, Sunshine) plays techie Jensen. Evans was easily the best and funniest part of the movie, every time he was on screen I was laughing, I can’t wait to see him as Captain America. Idris Elba (RocknRolla, Obsessed) plays weapons expert, Rogue. I really enjoy Elba and he was really good in this movie. Columbus Short (Death at a Funeral, Cadillac Records) plays transportation expert, Pooch. Short was very good and funny. Oscar Jaenada played sniper, Cougar. This character doesn’t say much but Jaenada did a great job with the performance. Jason Patric (My Sister’s Keeper, Expired) played the role of the sinister Max. Patric was brilliant with Max’s coldness and heartlessness, just great.

This movie is absolutely a joy to see and if you like action movies or comedies or a combination of both, you should definitely go see The Losers. This movie has it all and it is a fun ride from start to finish. Although I will say, as much as I enjoyed this movie, please go see Kick-Ass and support movies like that and Watchmen, proper adaptations. Yes this movie pulls off the PG-13 rating but many comic book adaptations they are working on won’t.

Great quote: “There are few things in life that a liberal use of duct tape won’t fix.”


“Face down! Or I’ll stop your heart with my mind.”

Friday, April 16, 2010

Review: Kick-Ass

Grade: A+

Dave Lizewski is as typical and as normal of a teenage high school student as they come. He’s not into sports and he has a close group of friends he likes to go hang out at the comic book shop with. One day, with no motivation, no powers and no training but lots of naïveté, he decides to don a green and yellow wet suit and mask to become a real life super hero. He becomes an overnight sensation when he is recorded protecting an innocent man from a group of thugs. Dave names his alter ego Kick-Ass. He thinks that Kick-Ass is the first of his kind, only to discover that there are two other super-heroes that have been working secretly for years, Big Daddy and Hit Girl. Soon, though, Dave’s world is turned upside down when a mobster comes looking for him because he is convinced that Kick-Ass is the one destroying his drug business.

Kick-Ass is kickass, there are no other words to describe it. This is the best movie I have seen in a while. It wasn’t quite what I was expecting but it still managed to exceed my every expectation. The movie is based on a series of comic books by the same name, I have never read them but hear good things and am now going to check them out. Director Matthew Vaughn (Stardust, Layer Cake) did an amazing job with the writing and directing of this movie, it completely blew me away. The movie stays so firmly set in reality that it makes it that much more enjoyable and exciting to watch. I also think that because of its firm grip on reality, this movie won’t be convincing anybody to try to done a costume and fight crime. I will say, the reason this didn’t get an A+ is because like I said, its feet are firmly planted in reality, but there is a bit towards the end that comes out of left field and isn’t very realistic at all, you’ll see what I mean.

I still have to do this every time because many people don’t pay attention. While this movie is based on a comic book and is about a high school student trying to be a super hero, much like Peter Parker in Spider-man, this movie is not kid friendly. More and more comic books over the years have been more aimed at adults, and this is one of those comic books. On top of the large amount of adult language in the movie, the superheroes in this movie, don’t just wait for the cops to come to take the bad guy to jail, they kill them. My favorite character in the movie, Hit Girl, shoots and dismembers so many people in this movie I couldn’t even begin to count her death toll.

Up and coming actor, Aaron Johnson (The Greatest, Nowhere Boy) plays the main character Dave, who decides to create the alter ego Kick-Ass. He did an amazing job with the role and definitely was perfect casting for the part. Nicholas Cage (Knowing, National Treasure) plays Damon Macready, also known as Big Daddy. Cage was hilarious because Macready is this awkward nerdy guy but when he dons his Big Daddy costume, he becomes an insane action hero. Chloe Moretz (Diary of a Wimpy Kid, 500 Days of Summer) plays Mindy Macready, also known as Hit Girl. Moretz is amazing in this role and made this character my favorite of the movie. Moretz is only 13 and her character is only supposed to be 11 or 12 but she kicks more butt in this movie than anyone else and her acting was spot on. Mark Strong (Sherlock Holmes, RocknRolla) plays Frank D’Amico, a drug kingpin. Strong is an amazing actor and he was fantastic in this role, he just plays mean and evil so well. The movie also features Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Clark Duke, Dexter Fletcher, Evan Peters, Lyndsy Fonseca and Jason Flemyng.

I highly recommend everybody go see this movie, it is amazing. Like I said, it is one of the best movies I have seen in a while, it’s full of action, humor and drama. It moved me is the first movie since Up to tear me up. Just amazingly well written, directed and acted. Go see it, I can’t say that enough. You will enjoy it.

Great quote: “With no power comes no responsibility, except that’s not the case.”

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Review: Death at a Funeral

Grade: B

Aaron’s father recently died and it was his wishes to have the funeral at his house. It has been a very stressful situation for Aaron, he hasn’t really had time to mourn his father’s death because of the planning, his brother hasn’t helped out at all, and he and his wife are trying to buy a new house and are trying to get pregnant as well. When everybody shows up his stress level shoots through the roof when things go from bad to worse. His cousin’s boyfriend accidently took a hallucinogenic, his mother is hysterical, his uncle is yelling at everybody and a mysterious man is trying to blackmail him over his secret love affair with Aaron’s father.

I was very skeptical of this movie as it is a remake of a hilarious movie that is a whopping 3 years old. The original was a very funny British comedy that was written by Dean Craig and directed by Frank Oz. I did have some faith in this Americanized remake because Dean Craig also wrote the new version. The new Death at a Funeral was almost identical to the original in many ways, even so much as a good chunk of the dialogue is the same. Also, Peter Dinklage (Elf, Find Me Guilty) plays the same character that he did in the 2007 version. Because of this, I really did enjoy this movie and it was very funny and almost as good as the original. I say almost because there is one gag in the original that I barely liked and they brought it back for this one and took it to a far grosser level. Other than that, this movie was very enjoyable.

The movie does have a great cast that helps make it as funny as it is. Chris Rock, (Head of State, Down to Earth) plays Aaron, the son who is trying to have a peaceful funeral. Rock did a great job with this role especially since it’s a very toned down role from what he usually plays. Martin Lawrence (Bad Boys II, Wild Hogs) plays Ryan, Aaron’s successful younger brother. Lawrence did a pretty good job with this role and was entertaining when he needed to be. Zoe Saldana (Avatar, Star trek) plays Elaine, Aarons cousin. Saldana was great and very funny, I really enjoyed her performance in the movie. James Mardsen (Superman Returns, Enchanted) plays Oscar, Elaine’s boyfriend. Mardsen was hands down the funniest person in the movie. His character accidently takes a hallucinogenic and begins to go crazy and everything he does is absolutely hilarious. The cast is too large to talk about but the rest of the cast includes Peter Dinklage, Keith David, Ron Glass, Regina Hall, Danny Glover, Tracy Morgan, Columbus Short, Luke Wilson, Loretta Devine and Kevin Hart.

This movie is really funny and definitely worth watching. I would recommend, however, that you check out the 2007 version as well at some point, it is a great comedy that not too many people know about which is probably why it was remade for American cinema like this.

Great quote: “My father is dead, put on some panties.”

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Review: Date Night

Grade: A

Phil and Claire Foster are a typical married couple with two kids living in New Jersey, but when their friends decide to get a divorce because they’ve fallen into a rut, the same rut the Fosters feel they are in, Phil and Claire decide to try to change things up a bit. Their idea is simple, go to New York for a romantic evening at an upscale restaurant. But when they get there the restaurant has no table for them, so when they hear that a couple, the Tripplehorns, hasn’t shown up for their reservation, the Fosters decide to pretend they are the Tripplehorns. Problem is, the real Tripplehorns have a mob boss looking for them and his goons are now convinced that the Fosters are the people they are looking for. As the Fosters try to stay alive and figure a way out of their predicament, they stumble upon a bigger conspiracy.

As soon as I heard about the casting of this actiony comedy I knew this movie was going to be good. The director, Shawn Levy (Night at the Museum, The Pink Panther) had decided to cast Steve Carrell (40 Year Old Virgin, TVs The Office) and Tina Fey (Baby Mama, TVs 30 Rock) as the Fosters, this is a comedy match made in heaven. Carrell brought his usual wit and humor to the movie and Fey was as funny as she always is at times bringing her Liz Lemon charm to the role. Carrell and Fey worked perfectly together in this movie and were so funny I don’t think I stopped laughing the entire time. One great running joke throughout the movie would involve the Fosters trying to explain to people the predicament that they are in and whenever they get to the part about taking someone else's reservation, the person they are talking to stops them and acts like that is the worst thing a person could do. The movie is absolutely hilarious from start to finish and has plenty of action and some suspense mixed in with it too. This movie completely met my expectations and is now probably the best comedy of the year in my opinion. Just a great and fun movie to watch. I really want to go back and watch it again because I think I missed a bit of this movie because I was laughing so hard.

The rest of the cast was great too. James Franco (Pineapple Express, Milk) and Mila Kunis (Book of Eli, Extract) show up as the real Tripplehorns in a hilarious scene. Also, Mark Wahlberg (The Lovely Bones, The Departed) plays Holbrooke, an ex-client of Claire’s, who is in private security and used to do black ops type stuff and never seems to want to wear a shirt. The scenes with Wahlberg are great, his character’s interactions with Carrell and Fey’s characters are absolutely hilarious. The rest of the cast includes Taraji P. Henson, William Fichtner, Bill Burr, Mark Ruffalo, Kristen Wiig, Jimmi Simpson and Common.

This movie was just fantastic and one of the funnier movies I’ve seen in a while. Like I said, I was laughing from start to finish. The comedic combination of Steve Carrell and Tina Fey was absolutely perfect and really makes this movie worth watching. If you are looking for a good funny movie to see, go see Date Night, trust me, you won’t be disappointed.

Great quote: “Aw man, now I have to pick it up off the ground to eat it.”

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Home Viewing Recommendations

Cirque Du Freak: The Vampire’s Assistant

Grade: B

Cirque Du Freak is a fun movie about a boy who goes to a strange freak show one night where he encounters a real vampire. Through certain circumstances, that vampire turns the boy into a vampire himself. Afterwards, the boy learns that there is a war going on between two factions of vampire and must help in the fight.

This movie is a lot of fun and is worth watching if you’re into this kind of movie. It’s actually pretty funny but I wouldn’t quite call it a comedy. I really enjoyed it and it has a pretty good cast that includes John C. Reilly, Chris Massoglia, Ray Stevenson, Ken Watanabe, Orlando Jones and Selma Hayek.

Cold Souls

Grade: B+

This is an interesting movie where Paul Giamatti plays himself. Paul is working on a play but can’t quite seem to get the performance right. One day he comes across and article about a company that has developed the technology to remove the soul. Paul looks into it and decides that life would be easier if he didn’t have his soul weighing him down. After he gets his soul removed things do go better with the play, but the rest of his life starts to fall apart. When he goes to the company to get it put back in, it turns out it has been stolen and taken to Russia.

This movie is great but when I say that it is a dark comedy, I mean it. The humor is really subtle most of the time. Yes, the story is rather strange but if you enjoy odd movies or simply the idea of the movie, you will probably enjoy this movie. It is a little slow at times but I was expecting that. I am a fan of Paul Giamatti and his performance in this movie is excellent, and it’s nice to see he has a bit of a sense of humor about himself.

Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog

Grade: A

This musical is about an aspiring super villain who is trying to balance his career of evil doing with his desire to pursue a beautiful do-gooder, all along the way being thwarted in every way possible by the hero, Captain Hammer.

This charming little musical was made for practically nothing, which is a great deal of its charm. It was written and directed by fan favorite Joss Whedon. It stars Neil Patrick Harris as the titular Dr. Horrible and the great Nathan Fillion as Captain Hammer. This movie is only 45 minutes long and is available to rent on DVD and is currently on the Netflix Instant Queue. I recommend everybody watch this, it is fun, funny and just really well done not to mention all the songs are great.

Fantastic Mr. Fox

Grade: B+

Based on the book by Roald Dahl, is about a fox who decides to return to his old farm raiding ways and challenges the three local farmers. But, when the farmers find out, they retaliate and Mr. Fox must help his community of animal friends fight back against the farmers.

This movie is kind of charming. It’s interesting because it was done with stop-animation, something that hasn’t really been seen in a while. The story was good and plenty of fun and the cast was great and included George Clooney, Meryl Streep, Jason Schwartzman, Bill Murray, Owen Wilson, Michael Gambon and Willem Dafoe. It was directed by Wes Anderson, whose movies I don’t normally enjoy. The most genius part of this movie is that it essentially has the dialogue of an R rated movie but they replaced all the adult language with “cuss”, this made it extra funny so they would say stuff like “are you cussing with me?”, hilarious.

Julie & Julia

Grade: B-

This movie tells two stories, the first is the story of Julia Child and how she became a cook and eventually a cooking icon. The other story is of a young woman who decides to go through Julia Child’s cook book and cook every recipe and write a blog about it.

I’m going to say right off the bat that only half of this movie is good. The story of Julia Child, where Meryl Streep brilliantly plays Julia Child, is really good and a lot of fun to watch and what makes it better is Stanley Tucci as Julia’s husband. The other half of the movie, which sadly stars one of my favorite actresses, Amy Adams, is really boring and pretty stupid. I just didn’t care for the character of Julie at all. But the half of the movie about Julia Child is so good that I recommend suffering through the Julie part to see it.

Paper Heart

Grade: A-

This documentary, which was all staged by the way, follows young actress Charlyne Yi as she treks across America discussing the one subject she doesn’t understand, or really believe in: Love. Along the way she meets actor Michael Cera and they develop a relationship. The documentary then begins to follow the two as love begins to grow between the two.

This independent comedy was really good and pretty funny at times, especially the ending, genius. This movie is simply really cute and a lot of fun to watch, I highly recommend this one.

Planet 51

Grade: B+

This animated movie follows and American astronaut who goes to Planet 51, he lands thinking he is the first person to step foot on the planet. Much to his surprise, the planet is inhabited by little green aliens who are happily living a life rather similar to 1950’s American suburban life.

This movie is hilarious and tons of fun to watch. The story is a very interesting twist on the classic story and the movie is loaded with references to classis sci-fi movies. It’s a great kids movie too. Also, it has a pretty good voice cast that includes Dwayne Johnson, Justin Long, Sean William Scott, Jessica Biel, Gary Oldman and John Cleese. If you are a fan of classic sci-fi, you will probably love this movie.

This Film Is Not Yet Rated

Grade: A+

This amazing documentary follows academy award nominated filmmaker Kirby Dick as he looks into the super secret organization that rates movies, the MPAA. In the documentary he hires a private investigator to try to find out who is on the ratings board and he interviews filmmakers and critics who have had run ins with the MPAA as they discuss their corruption and backwards standards of rating movies.

This documentary is simply amazing, I loved every second of it. It is an absolute must see, especially if you care about censorship, movies or have ever wondered why movies are rated the way they are. Kirby Dick interviews great filmmakers and actors like Kimberly Peirce, John Waters, Kevin Smith, Wayne Kramer, Maria Bello, Darron Aronofksy and many more. I love how this movie discusses the backwards ratings system that deems sex, a natural thing, far worse than violence, an unnatural and illegal thing. The discussions are just great, I really can’t recommend enough that everybody watch this documentary. It is available to rent on DVD and is currently available on the Netflix Instant Queue.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Review: How To Train Your Dragon

Grade: A+

Hiccup lives in a quiet Viking town. Only thing is, they have a dragon problem. All the Vikings in the village live to kill dragons, but hiccup is viewed as too small and clumsy to do the work. All Hiccup wants is to be accepted by the rest of the village and most importantly, his father. He is determined to bring down a dragon and one day builds a mechanism that will take down a dragon for him. When he is successful in taking down the most feared of all dragons, he goes to investigate and to kill the dragon. Problem is, when he gets to the dragon he can’t bring himself to kill it and releases it instead. Then, over the next couple weeks while he’s in dragon killing school, he sneaks off to the dragon and over time befriends it and trains it to the point where he flies on the dragons back. He learns that the dragons are misunderstood, gentle creatures and he tries to figure out a way to teach this to the rest of his village.

This movie was simply amazing. There are no other words for it. DreamWorks animation really outdid themselves with this one and are going to create some solid competition for Pixar this year. The story in this movie is just amazing. It’s funny, it’s touching, it’s emotional and it’s really fun. I really did end up liking this movie a lot more than I originally thought I would. This movie is fun for everybody, kids will love it and adults will love it. Simply put, it is a really well made movie. All the different types of dragons are awesome, all the characters are great, just everything about this movie is superb. You really feel for the characters and get caught up in their plight. The main dragon, Toothless, is absolutely adorable and so easy to fall in love with.

Jay Baruchel (She’s Out of My League, Tropic Thunder) does the voice of the main character, Hiccup, the hapless boy who just wants to be a true Viking. Baruchel was a perfect choice for this voice and he did such a great job with it. Gerard Butler (300, RockNrolla) did the voice of Stoick, Hiccup’s father and leader of the village. I loved this aspect of the movie, it takes place in a Scotland Viking settlement so we got to hear Butler’s true voice and didn’t have to suffer through him forcing an American accent. Butler was excellent with this voice and is again a perfect casting choice. America Ferrera (Our Family Wedding, TVs Ugly Betty) did the voice of Astrid, the girl Hiccup has a crush on. Ferrera did a great job with her role. Comedian Craig Ferguson does the voice of Gobber, a blacksmith and teacher of dragon fighting school. Ferguson is Scottish as well and did a great job with this role as he was absolutely hilarious with all the lines. The movie also features the voices of Jonah Hill, Kristin Wiig, T.J. Miller and Christopher Mintz-Plasse.

I cannot recommend this movie enough. It doesn’t matter what type of movies you are into, this one has it all and appeals to everybody. Go see it right away. It is available in 2D, 3D and IMAX 3D, it doesn’t matter how you see it they are all great and it’s worth the ticket price no matter how much you pay.

Great quote: “Thank you for nothing, you useless reptile.”

Friday, April 2, 2010

Review: Clash of the Titans

Grade: B+

In ancient Greece, the people have become upset with the gods as they feel the gods have turned their backs on them. A large group of soldiers from Argo have made it their mission to challenge the gods by destroying statues and temples. Well, the gods have heard them and have decided to fight back. Perseus was a humble fisherman with his adoptive parents until Hades attacked a group of soldiers who destroyed the statue of Zeus and in turn killed Perseus’ parents. Perseus soon after discovers that he is the son of Zeus and is therefore a demigod. Zeus and the other gods decide to remind the humans who is in charge by challenging the city of Argos to sacrifice their beloved princess or they will release the Kraken, a horrifying monster that killed the Titans, upon their city. Perseus, angry with Hades and the other gods, decides to take it upon himself to take on the gods, kill the Kraken and kill Hades himself.

I am a huge fan of Greek mythology and this movie really has fun with it. I also happen to be a moderate fan of the original 1981 movie of the same name. I have to admit, the new version is far superior to the original. The new Clash of the Titans is far more exciting and far less cheesy. The monsters look better and more realistic and are more terrifying. This version is just fun to watch. The action is awesome and fun to watch and it has just the right amount of humor mixed in with it all. It also features a great throwback to the original at one point, see if you can catch it. Director Louis Leterrier (The Incredible Hulk, Transporter 2) did a great job revamping this movie, better than I was expecting it to be.

Sam Worthington (Avatar, Terminator: Salvation) plays the lead role of Perseus, son of Zeus. Worthington’s career is exploding right now and for good reason, he’s pretty good with these action movies. He really does a great job as Perseus in this movie. Liam Neeson (Taken, Batman Begins) plays the role of Zeus, king of the gods. He did a great job with the role and the effects made him look rather god like, the only problem I had was his unkempt beard, it just looked weird at times. Ralph Fiennes (In Bruges, Red Dragon) plays Hades, god of the underworld. Fiennes did a great job with this role, especially portraying Hades hatred of his brothers for making him ruler of the underworld. Gemma Arterton (Quantum of Solace, RockNrolla) plays Io, a woman cursed with eternal life who watches over Perseus. Arterton was really enjoyable in this role and her career is beginning to take off as well. The movie also features Jason Flemyng, Alexa Davalos, Mads Mikkelsen, Danny Huston and Pete Postlethwaite.

If you are a fan of the original, a fan of greek mythology or just a fan of action movies, go see Clash of the Titans, it is a lot of fun. I will recommend you don’t waste your money on seeing it in 3D. This movie was not intended to be in 3D but after the success of Avatar, the studio forced it to be put in 3D, quickly. As a result I hear that the 3D is unimpressive and just not worth the extra money.

Great quote: “One day, somebody’s got to make a stand. One day, somebody’s got to say enough.”