Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Review: The Last Airbender

Grade: B+

In a world, there are four nations, each created around the four elements: Earth, Water, Wind and Fire. In each nation, there are people called benders, who can control their element. There is one person, known as the Avatar, who can control all four elements. All of the nations lived in peace until the Fire Nation started a war campaign to control all other nations. When this war started, the Avatar mysteriously disappeared. 100 years later, two siblings from the southern Water Nation, Katara and Sokka, stumble upon a boy trapped in ice. They quickly learn that this boy, Aang, is the Avatar, but he unfortunately only knows how to bend air. As the three travel to the northern Water Nation where Aang can train to be a Waterbender, the Fire Nation learns of his existence and begin to track him down to capture him. Along the way, Aang starts a series of rebellions against the Fire Nation in small towns in other nations.

This movie was written and directed by M. Night Shamalan (Lady in the Water, The Sixth Sense) and is the first really enjoyable movie he has done in a while. I think the reasoning for this is that it is not his idea, it’s based on an anime TV show. I have only seen a couple episodes of Avatar: The Last Airbender, so I don’t know how accurate of a representation the movie is, but I thought it was great compared to the little I’ve seen. The movie is just a lot of fun with a pretty interesting story behind it. The effects are great and action scenes are a lot of fun to watch. There was a nice bit of humor thrown into the movie as well. I really enjoyed the characters and he takes the time to let you get to know them.

Newcomer Noah Ringer plays the central role of Aang, the last Airbender who discovers he is the Avatar. Aang did a pretty good job with this role and he handled the martial arts sequences very well but he is the one person in this movie whom I feel could have been cast a little better. Relative newcomer Nicola Peltz played Katara, a young girl still learning to become a Waterbender. Peltz did a fantastic job with this role, I really enjoyed her performance. Jackson Rathbone (The Twilight Saga) plays Sokka, Katara’s older brother. Dev Patel (Slumdog Millionaire) plays Prince Zuko, son of the Fire Lord, who is determined to find and capture the Avatar in order to regain his father’s respect. Patel did a decent job with this role, which included a lot of pouting and angry yelling. Aasif Mandvi (Ghost Town, TVs The Daily Show) surprisingly plays Commander Zhao, who hates Prince Zuko and is trying to capture the Avatar first. I say surprisingly because he has only done comedy so to see him take on a serious role was interesting, but he really pulled it off and did a great job. The movie also includes Cliff Curtis, Shaun Toub, Seychelle Gabriel, Francis Guinan and Summer Bishil.

Ok, so there has apparently been a lot of controversy around this movie because of the casting and people are calling Shamalan racist. People are upset that some of the main characters are white and that it seems all of the people in the Fire Nation, depicted as the bad guys, are Indian. This makes me laugh because Shamalan is Indian himself, so I’m pretty sure he is not bashing his own race. To me, the casting makes sense. The Fire Nation is Indian, the Earth Nation is mostly Chinese, the Water nation appears to be mostly white, maybe somewhat Eskimo and the Air Nation (which you only see in flashbacks) appears to be monks of some sort. To me, the casting makes sense in a way. Each nation is a different race, much like all the different nations in the real world.

If you are a fan of the show, go see this movie. Even if you aren’t, I really think this movie is worth checking out. It is just plain fun and entertaining.

Great quote: “Prince Zuko is not allowed to wear the Fire Nation’s uniform, but on this occasion, we will allow it, like a child wearing a costume.”

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Review: Solitary Man

Grade: B+

About six and a half years ago, Ben Kalmen was at the top of his game, he was the owner of best line of car dealerships to go to in the northeast; he had a great wife and an amazing daughter. Then when a doctor tells him that they want to take some tests to check out his heart, Ben’s life gets flipped upside down. Ben makes a couple bad romantic and business decisions and is now living in hard times, but is trying to turn it all around again. Then he makes one last bad decision and that completely throws him down. Now he’s trying to salvage his relationship with his daughter and his grandson as well as trying to figure out who he is and what is important in his life.

Michael Douglas (King of California, Romancing the Stone) plays the lead role of Ben Kalmen, once known as the “most honest car salesmen in New York”. Douglas gives an amazing performance in this movie and really made this movie. He does such a great job with the role, which was a very interesting role. The character of Ben Kalmen is a very interesting man. He is extremely honest, brutally so sometimes, he is strong willed, he is stubborn and he is a borderline sexaholic who essentially prays on women younger than his daughter. Somehow, Douglas manages to make this character an almost likeable character and he was pretty funny at times.

The rest of the cast is pretty spectacular as well. Jenna Fischer (Blades of Glory, TVs The Office) plays Susan Kelman, Ben’s daughter. She did an amazing job with this role. It is the first really dramatic role I’ve seen her do and she really pulled it off. Susan Sarandon (Speed Racer, Enchanted) plays Nancy Kelman, Ben’s ex-wife. She did a pretty good job with this role too and was pretty funny when she needed to be. Danny DeVito (Nobel Son, Be Cool) plays Jimmy Merino, an old friend of Ben’s from college. DeVito was great in this movie, even though he’s not in it a whole lot, but his character is great and he played it well. The movie also features performances from Imogen Poots, Richard Schiff, Mary-Louise Parker and Jesse Eisenberg.

This dark comedy is kind of charming and fun to watch. It is actually pretty funny at times and well worth watching. I recommend checking it out whenever you can, especially if you like Michael Douglas.

Great quote: “I say a whole lot of stuff, some of it’s even the truth.”

Friday, June 25, 2010

Review: Knight and Day

Grade: A

June Havens was just trying to fly back to Boston from Wichita when she literally bumped into Roy Miller. June is then let on to an earlier flight back, much to the dismay of Roy, as the flight turns out to be mostly empty except for a couple assassins trying to kill Roy. After the plane crashes in a field, June mysteriously wakes up in her own bed back in Boston. She then discovers that there are government agents out to get her and that Roy Miller is keeping an eye on her. Roy then insists that the two stay together while he figures out what the agents want with June and he tries to complete his mysterious mission. June discovers that Roy might be a rogue spy and is having a hard time figuring out who to trust as all stories sound convincing.

I don’t know why so many people seem to have a problem seeing this movie. It was great and so much fun to watch. Many people have also been comparing it to Killers with Ashton Kutcher and Katherine Heigl, well, the only similarity that Knight and Day has to Killers is that the male lead is a spy, after that they both take very different paths. To start, Knight and Day has a far better cast, as they can actually act. Tom Cruise (War of the Worlds, Top Gun) plays Roy Miller, a spy, or possibly rogue spy, just trying to complete a mission. Cruise was fantastic, as he always is, he was very funny and his action scenes were great. Cameron Diaz (The Holiday, Charlie’s Angels) plays June Haven, a classic car fanatic just trying to get home for her sister’s wedding. Diaz was great in this movie and she was very funny as well. The two really seemed to play well off each other, which isn’t too surprising as this is their second movie together. The movie also features Peter Sarsgaard, Viola Davis and a very interesting and great performance form Paul Dano.

This movie is the epitome of the summer movie. It is just plain fun to watch. The action is great and the laughs keep coming. One of the more entertaining parts of the movie, to me, was that Cameron Diaz’s character wasn’t coping well with all that was happening, so Roy drugged her and she blacked out, then she keeps semi-regaining consciousness and the audience gets these glimpses of crazy things going on then she blacks out again then wakes up when everything is ok hours later. This happens like two or three times. I was laughing so hard at these sequences because even though it seems like we’re missing great action sequences it’s just so amusing and it helps the story move along. I will admit, however, that the ending is a little cheesy and predictable but whatever, it was still a lot of fun and the cheesyness of the ending ads to the overall charm of the movie.

This movie is everything a summer movie should be. I recommend everybody head to the theater and check this one out. Is it an academy award winning movie? No. Is it just plain and simple fun summer escapism? Absolutely. Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz are great together in this movie that is loaded with action and laughter and romance. I loved this movie and will definitely be seeing it again.

Great quote: “June, I can dismantle a bomb while blindfolded with nothing but a paperclip and a junior mint, so I think I could change your clothes without looking… I’m not saying that’s what happened, but I could.”

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Review: Grown Ups

Grade: B

Lenny, Eric, Kurt, Marcus and Rob were the best of friends 30 years ago when they were on the school basketball team. When their old coach, whom they affectionately call Coach Buzzard, dies, the five get together for the funeral. They then decide that they, and all their families, should spend the Fourth of July weekend together at a lake house where they all used to hang out together when they were teenagers. As they reunite they grow back together and learn a lot about each other. All their families begin to become good friends too. On top of that, they teach their kids how to have fun without all the technology out there now.

This movie was made mostly for the great ensemble cast of mostly SNL alums. Adam Sandler (Funny People, Big Daddy) plays the role of Lenny, who is now a very successful Hollywood agent. Sandler was pretty good and very funny at times. Chris Rock (Death at a funeral, Bad Company) plays the role of Kurt, who is now a “house husband”. Rock is very funny as usual at times but I feel the whole domesticated male jokes got old pretty quick. David Spade (Joe Dirt, TVs Rules of Engagement) plays the role of Marcus. Spade was very funny and entertaining, good to see him in a movie again. Rob Schneider (The Hot Chick, The Animal) plays the role of Rob, who is now a new age healer, of sorts. Schneider was really funny in this role but that’s because he does well in these supporting role types. Kevin James (Paul Blart: Mall Cop, Hitch) plays the role of Eric, who is now the co-owner of a furniture store. James was very funny with this role and they seemed to have given him most of the physical stuff. The cast also includes other great people like Salma Hayek, Maria Bello, Maya Rudolph, Joyce Van Patten, Steve Buscemi, Colin Quinn and Tim Meadows.

It is a lot of fun seeing this cast get together for a movie like this. It was very funny while being kind of sweet as well. The movie takes a little bit to get going. In the first part of the movie, the only part I really liked was the constant jokes they were all making at each other’s expense. But once they get to the lake house, things really pick up and the movie becomes this really fun and enjoyable movie. On top of the main plot of these five friends reuniting, there were a couple fun sub-plots as well. One involves Colin Quinn, Steve Buscemi and Tim Meadows playing people who hold a grudge against the gang because of a basketball game 30 years ago, so they keep challenging them to a game and the outcome is hilarious. My favorite sub-plot was about all the kids, Lenny’s in particular. It was about how kids rely too much on technology these days for entertainment, always playing video games or texting or whatever, these kids were really spoiled. It got to the point where the parents finally forced them outside and the kids had no idea how to entertain themselves. I really enjoyed this as I completely agree with it, kids these days are spoiled and don’t know how to have fun outside. One problem I had with the movie was how all the parents were constantly lying to their children, I don’t get why people do this, you are just making your kids dumb.

Anyway, this movie is a lot of fun and well worth seeing, especially if you like the cast. It was great seeing all these actors getting together for a movie like this, they are all still very funny after all these years. I recommend this movie to anybody looking for a good laugh.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Review: Please Give

Grade: B

Kate and her husband Alex own a unique, antique-like store. In order to get the furniture and items, they go to the apartments and houses of the recently deceased and scour the place for anything they can buy cheap and sell at an increased price in their store. On top of that, they are currently butting heads with their 91 year old neighbor, who they are waiting for her to die, so they can expand their apartment. That neighbor has two granddaughters, Rebecca and Mary. Rebecca is a radiologist who spends all of her free time taking care of her bitter grandmother. Mary is a self obsessed beautician who really doesn’t care about her grandma and is kind of looking forward to her death. As all these characters lives meet, many problems start to arise including love, money and Kate’s struggle with ethics and morality.

This dark comedy is pretty charming. It has a great cast. Catherine Keener (The Soloist, 40 Year Old Virgin) plays the role of Katy. Keener did a fantastic job with this role portraying this woman who is questioning whether or not she is a good person and tries to volunteer at a couple different places to feel better. Oliver Platt (2012, Frost/Nixon) plays Kate’s husband, Alex. Alex is very easy going and doesn’t mind the business he’s in at all, but when he meets Mary, he begins to become attracted to her and starts to stray. Platt did a great job with this role and was very enjoyable as usual. Rebecca Hall (Vicky Christina Barcelona, The Prestige) plays Rebecca, the granddaughter of a bitter 91 year old woman who doesn’t seem to appreciate all her work. She did a really good job with this role and did was fun to watch in the parts where she finally starts getting interested in a guy and goes on some dates with him. Amana Peet (2012, Martian Child) plays self obsessed and out spoken Mary. Peet was great with this role and was very enjoyable to watch.

This movie is a dark comedy and therefore while it’s not always laugh out loud funny it is pretty entertaining and funny at times. The writing is very good in my opinion and makes this movie worth checking out. The movie deals with some pretty interesting issues and shows how some people would deal with those issues. I actually do recommend checking this out whenever you can. I really liked it but to be honest it could easily wait to rent when it comes out on DVD.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Review: Jonah Hex

Grade: D-

Jonah Hex was a civil war soldier fighting for the confederacy but informing on them to the North. When his general, Quentin Turnball, finds out, he kills Jonah’s family in front of him then burns the side of his face. Jonah almost died but was brought back by a Sioux Indian medicine man. As a result, Jonah gained other worldly powers; he can talk to the dead by simply touching them. When Hex hears that Turnball is dead, he decides to take up bounty hunting for a living. One day, it is discovered that Turnball faked his own death and is currently building a weapon capable of reducing nations to rubble. The president calls on Jonah Hex to find Turnball and stop him before he attacks Washington D.C. on the countries Centennial celebration.

Well, after seeing this movie I completely understand why Warner Brothers have all but completely ignored that this movie was coming out. They hardly advertised for it and they didn’t even submit it for ratings until about a week or so before its release. This movie is, simply put, not good. It is obvious that they rushed the story because it is uninteresting and feels pretty forced. Also, you can tell that the actors really didn’t care about the roles they were playing as it really seemed like they were just reciting the lines given to them. The only positive I can think of for this movie right now is its runtime of just 80 minutes. So shortly after it starts, it is already almost over.

The cast is the reason I actually though this movie was going to be decent, too bad they let me down. Josh Brolin (No Country for Old Men, Milk) played the titular role of Jonah Hex. Hex is actually a very interesting character and this could have been a really fun and new take on westerns and Brolin could have been great in this movie. Brolin wasn’t necessarily bad in this movie, the writing was, and he can’t help that. John Malkovich (Burn After Reading, Being John Malkovich) played the main villain in the movie, Quentin Turnball. What I said about Brolin goes for Malkovich too, he can’t help that the writing for his character was terribly cliché and just plain bad at times. Megan Fox (Transformers, Jennifer’s Body) plays a prostitute, Lilah, the only friend Jonah seems to have. Fox has never been a talented actress and the only thing she’s good for in this movie is something to look at. The rest of the cast includes Will Arnett, Michael Fassbender, Micahel Shannon, Wes Bently, Julia Jones and Aidan Quinn.

I definitely have to say skip this one, or if you really want to see it, wait for DVD. I really think that the only good part about this movie is that it is so short.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Review: Toy Story 3

Grade: A+

Woody, Buzz and the rest of our favorite toy box friends are back once again. It’s been many years since we last saw the gang and now Andy is all grown up and getting ready to leave for college. The toys are trying to cope with the very real possibility of finally being abandoned or worse, thrown out, by Andy when they are accidentally donated to Sunnyside daycare center. At first, the daycare seems like a dream come true where the toys can be happy forever. Then, they discover the toys there, lead by a strawberry-scented Lots-o-huggin Bear, don’t take well to new comers and have the toys locked in the toddler area where a toy is lucky to last a week. Woody helps the toys come up with a plan to escape the daycare and make their way back to Andy, where they feel they belong.

Pixar has done it once again. I was nervous at first but the third adventure with everybody’s favorite toys is spectacular. For all the true fans of Toy Story, the first scene alone is just awesome and amazing trip to nostalgialand with the first Toy Story. The movie is loaded with fun references to the previous movies, so keep an eye out. This movie introduces the character of Ken, as voiced by the great Michael Keaton (Post Grad, Batman), and the bits with Barbie and Ken are great, some of the best parts of the movie. As usual with Pixar, the story for the movie is absolutely wonderful. I was a bit worried as I feared a third visit to these characters might be a bit forced and unoriginal, but they proved me wrong. Toy Story 3 is more enjoyable than Toy Story 2 was, in my opinion. Just as a fair warning, all true fans of the Toy Story movies, especially those of us who grew up with these movies, the ending of this movie is very emotional and will bring most of you to tears, I know I welled up a bit.

The movie brings back that great ensemble cast we’ve all come to know and love with these characters including Tom Hanks as Woody, Tim Allen as Buzz Lightyear, Don Rickles as Mr. Potato Head, Wallace Shawn as Rex, Joan Allen as Jesse and John Ratzenberger (the only actor to do voices on all of Pixar's movies) as Hamm. It also brings in many new great characters with a great voice cast as well including Ned Beaty as Lots-o-hugs Bear, Timothy Dalton as Mr. Pricklepants, Kristen Schaal as Trixie, Jeff Garlin as Buttercup, Bonny Hunt as Dolly and many more.

As with most of the Pixar movies, Toy Story 3 brings us a new Pixar Animated Short. This one is titled Night & Day and is an absolute joy. It just might be one of the better Pixar shorts. It is hard to describe briefly what it is about but it is a very cool concept and Pixar pulled it off very well.

I recommend Toy Story 3 to absolutely everyone. I have to super recommend this movie to everyone around my age who grew up watching these movies when they first came out and were as mesmerized by the characters as I was and were amazed by Pixar's storytelling abilities. This movie is fantastic and well worth seeing however you can, standard 2D, 3D or 3D IMAX, it really doesn’t matter, just see it.

Great quote: “The thing about Woody is, no matter what, he’s always there for you.”

Review: The Karate Kid

Grade: B-

When twelve year old Dre Parker’s mom gets transferred to China for work, the two are forced to leave their home in Detroit and embrace a new culture. However, when they get to China, Dre realizes that may be harder than it sounds. Dre instantly connects with and falls for fellow classmate and the feelings seem to be mutual. However, these feelings seem to have upset the class bully, Cheng. Cheng and his friends, who practice Kung Fu with a ruthless teacher, decide to make Dre’s life a living hell. When Dre discovers that his building’s maintenance man, Mr. Han, is a secret Kung Fu master. Mr. Han then decides to teach Dre that Kung Fu is more about maturity and calm than hitting your opponent, after entering him in a Kung Fu tournament so Dre can stand up to the bullies.

This movie really shouldn’t be called The Karate Kid as he is not learning Karate, he is learning Kung Fu, which is much more than a fighting style. This movie is pretty enjoyable. The story is actually pretty good and captivating. It is a bit long and they could probably cut about 20 or so minutes out of the beginning. They took too long getting the point across to the audience that Dre isn’t adjusting well to China and that he is afraid of the bullies who beat him up. He didn’t even really start talking to Mr. Han until about 40 minutes into the movie. However, once the training begins, the move really picks up and gets pretty entertaining. On top of it all, the movie is pretty inspirational at times. Mr. Han’s lessons about Kung Fu and really interesting and when you learn about his past in inspires Dre to work harder.

Jaden Smith (The Pursuit of Happiness, The Day the Earth Stood Still) plays the central role of Dre Parker. For such a young actor, Jaden is pretty decent and shows potential for future growth, looks like some of his fathers talent might be rubbing off on him. Jackie Chan (The Forbidden Kingdom, Rush Hour) plays the character based on the role of Mr. Miyagi from the original, Mr. Han. When I heard Jackie Chan was cast in this role I was completely against it, while I really enjoy Mr. Chan’s work, he is no Mr Miyagi. Well, the studio came up with a great idea, rename the character, it works for me. Jackie Chan did a fantastic job in the role of the Kung Fu master. Taraji. P. Henson (The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Date Night) did a wonderful job as Dre’s mom, Sherry. The rest of the cast did a really great job as well.

I actually recommend this movie to almost everyone. It is a great kids movie and if you are a fan of the original, there is a good chance you will like this remake.

Great quote: “Life knocked me down, and you showed me I have the choice to get back up again.”

Saturday, June 12, 2010

What makes a "Best Picture"?

I know that it is well after the awards season and I know that the next award season is still a good ways away, but this is a subject that I’ve been debating in my head for years and I’ve talked to some people about it too. Recently, I had this discussion with a close friend and fellow cinephile and so I’ve finally decided to write about it and see if I can get some other opinions on it too.

I understand that the awards circuits work on a different level and that I will probably never completely agree with their picks, but I feel that they could try a little harder. The Oscars are the most prestigious of the awards but they have a problem with being a little overly pretentious with their nominees and their winners. They have a tendency to completely ignore that comedies are movies too, no matter how well written and executed. The Golden Globes solved this problem by creating two separate categories, one for best Drama and one for best Comedy/Musical. Maybe the academy should give this a try, it might get more people interested in watching their program. Last year many great comedies came out and none were nominated at the Oscars, they included movies like The Hangover, not for everybody but there is a certain amount of genius that went into making it nonetheless. Other great comedies that were very well made last year that got completely ignored by the award circuit include Away We Go, Zombieland, (500) Days of Summer and Whatever Works.

Sometimes I wonder what the people who vote for these awards are thinking. Many times the Oscars have been way off in what the Best Picture really is. One example would be the 81st Academy Awards when they gave the award to Slumdog Millionaire. For one thing, Slumdog Millionaire wasn’t even that great of a movie, the writing wasn’t that great and the acting was pretty bad. I might have been able to get over it if it wasn’t for the fact that it was up against The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, easily one of the greatest movies ever made. It had an amazing story line, extremely well written, some of the best acting I’ve ever seen by the entire cast, and the amount of effort that went into the movie to make it look so authentic is mind-blowing. Another reason the 81st Academy Awards upset me is that they didn’t nominate The Dark Knight, again, one of the best movies ever made, but the academy couldn’t get past that it was based on a comic book so they ignored it. The best example of the Academy Awards picking the wrong movie would have t0 be the 14th Academy Awards in 1941. This was the year that movies like Citizen Cane, widely regarded as one of the best movies ever made, and The Maltese Falcon were nominated. But did Citizen Cane win that year? No. instead they gave the award to How Green Was My Valley, a movie most people don’t even remember.

So, what does make a movie the “best picture” of the year? In my opinion it should have a number of things, a compelling story, outstanding writing, amazing acting, great directing and maybe even some wonderful cinematography. But another thing that I feel that a “Best Picture” should have is re-watchability. As I look at the winners of the Best Picture award for the last 15 or so years, not many of them have re-watchability. For instance, the movie Crash, while it is a well made movie, I will never watch that movie again. The same goes for The Departed, American Beauty, Million Dollar Baby and even the most current one, The Hurt Locker. And this year the academy made it interesting by nominating 10 movies, of those 10 I find 4 of them to have great re-watchability. Movies like Up, Up in the Air and District 9 are great movies that I could watch over and over (and have actually). I still get a kick out of the fact that Avatar was nominated and that so many people wanted it to win, because I love it for the same reasons I love the Transformers movies (which are widely hated), it is just big dumb fun with lots of special effects. Granted, those special effects were pretty groundbreaking.

So, there you have it, my opinion of what qualities a “Best Picture” should have. So what qualities do you believe a “Best Picture” should have?

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Review: The A-Team

Grade: A-

In Mexico, Army Rangers Col. John “Hannibal” Smith and Lt. Templeton “Faceman” Peck are working together on a mission. Along the way they run into former Army Rangers Sgt. Bosco “B.A.” Baracus and Capt. “Howling Mad” Murdock, and the four decide to form an ultimate black-ops team that they named the “A-Team”. Eight years later in Iraq, the team is encouraged to pull off a job to recover US counterfeit printing plates. After they pull off the job they are framed for killing a general and stealing the plates and the team is dishonorably discharged and sent to jail. Six months later, the team is given a window of opportunity to break out of jail. They then decide to hunt down the men who framed them, recover the stolen plates and clear their names of the crimes they were framed for. They have to come up with the perfect plan to pull it off and dodge the US government as they are now hunting them.

This movie is so much fun to watch. It turned out to be a bit better than I was expecting. Liam Neeson (Clash of the Titans, Taken) did a great job playing the cigar chomping Hannibal. He was really enjoyable in the role and it was great watching him come up with their crazy plans. Bradley Cooper (The Hangover, All About Steve) was fantastic as Face and really brought a certain type of charm and humor to the role and movie. Former UFC fighter Quinton Jackson takes over the infamous role once occupied by the one and only Mr. T, “BA” Baracas. Jackson actually did a pretty good job with the role and made it his own. Sharlto Copley (District 9) completely stole the show as “Howling Mad” Murdock. For a man who only acted in D9 as a favor and claims to have no interest in acting, he is really good at it. Copley is absolutely hilarious as Murdock in A-Team and is the best part of the movie. Jessica Biel (Valentine’s Day, Next) plays Charisa Sosa, a government agent assigned with capturing the A-Team and bringing them back to jail. She did a pretty good job and was enjoyable in her scenes.

The movie is loaded with lots of really fun action. It also has just the right amount of humor mixed in to the whole thing. I hear there are complaints coming out that the movie didn’t keep with the feel of the TV show because of the violence, as in people do actually die in the movie. I feel that it works really well for the movie and I think only diehard fans of the show are going to complain. This is the second of the “A-Team-esque” movies coming out this year, the first being Losers. It is almost as good as the Losers, for some reason I just loved that movie. What cracks me up is that both movies have their climax scenes take place at the Port of Los Angeles. I don’t know if this is coincidence or if the filmmakers really want these movies to be alike. I’m going to laugh if Expendables has its climax at the Port of Los Angeles as well.

This movie is just pure fun to watch. It is well worth the trip to the theater and is a great escape for a couple of hours. I really think that most people will enjoy this movie.

Great quote: “This escape is so much cooler in 3D. It’s like we are actually being shot at.”

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Review: Killers

Grade: C+

Jen Kornfeldt is a beautiful, young, super-cautious computer tech vacationing in the south of France. Spencer Aimes is a government trained super assassin completing a mission in the south of France. When the two meet by chance in the hotel they are both staying in, there is an instant connection and the two fall instantly in love. Spencer quits his usual business and takes up a contractor job at a construction company. The two marry and live the seemingly perfect life in suburbia. Three years later, though, Spencer is contacted by his old boss, the next day, he learns he is the target of a $40 million hit contract. This brings all the assassins out of the woodwork, most of whom the couple knows. Jen and Spencer then go on the run trying to find out who wants him dead and try to stop all the madness.

This movie was enjoyable for the most part. The jokes in the movie are pretty cliché and the story has kind of been done, and is sort of being done again later this year with Knight and Day. Ashton Kutcher (Valentine’s Day, Spread) plays the former super assassin, Spencer. I don’t really care for Kutcher outside of That 70’s Show and this movie didn’t really change that. He wasn’t bad in this movie he just wasn’t all that great and they mostly got him because he looks good without a shirt on. Katherine Heigl (The Ugly Truth, Knocked Up) plays the nervous wreck that is Jen. I really don’t like Katherine Heigl and again, this movie didn’t change that either. Heigl plays the same character and acts the same way that she does in every movie that she’s in. As with Kutcher, the best part about her is her looks.

The action in the movie is pretty decent. A lot of the fight scenes or car chases are actually pretty enjoyable and tend to have a bit of the comedy mixed in. The comedy isn’t anything new and was catered to the two main actors. Sadly, the joke in the movie that I found to be funniest was when they were talking about how sweet Tom Selleck’s character’s mustache is. One part of the movie I found to be completely ridiculous is that it seems that every single person the couple knows is an assassin, that just seems a bit insane and over the top to me. I’m not saying that this movie is bad by any means, it was rather enjoyable it was all just pretty by the book for this kind of movie. All I’m saying is that Mr. and Mrs. Smith, starring Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, did it way better.

The movie is loaded with appearances and cameos by other actors. Including Tom Selleck, Catherine O’Hara, Kevin Sussman, Casey Wilson, Rob Riggle, Martin Mull, Alex Borstein, Larry Joe Campbell and the most random and pointless appearance by Usher playing a store manager.

If you’re looking for a simply fun and mostly enjoyable action comedy, Killers is the movie to see right now. It isn’t a great movie but it is pretty fun to watch and is worth the trip to the theater to see. It actually would make a pretty great date movie.

Great quote: “That is a pretty sweet mustache.”

Friday, June 4, 2010

Review: Get Him to the Greek

Grade: B+

Aaron is an intern at a big record company. When his boss has a staff meeting one day to try to come up with ideas to boost slowing record sales, Aaron comes up with the idea to do a tenth anniversary concert at the famous Greek Theater in LA with his favorite musician, Aldous Snow. When his boss, Sergio Roma, surprisingly agrees to the crazy idea, Sergio puts the task of getting the out of control rock star from his home in London to the Greek Theater in three days, in Aaron’s hands. Aaron is excited with the task until he actually tries to accomplish it. Sergio has demanded that Aaron not let the musician get too out of control before the concert, which turns out to be an almost impossible task as the rocker doesn’t listen to anybody and does whatever he wants.

This movie is actually a spin-off of the movie Forgetting Sarah Marshall, not many people have caught on to that. This movie actually excited me because the character of Aldous Snow, as played brilliantly by Russell Brand (Bedtime Stories, St. Trinian’s), was the only part of Marshall that I found funny. This movie was absolutely hilarious as it mocked the stereotypical rock star lifestyle. Jonah Hill (Funny People, Superbad) plays the role of Aaron and he was Very funny. It was kind of an odd couple type movie as Aaron is somewhat up tight and anal, but still is willing to let loose a little bit, and Aldous is, of course, an out of control, balls to the wall, drug taking, over drinking rock star. The two were hilarious together and played off each other really well.

However, some of the funniest parts of the movie came from the supporting cast. Sean “Diddy, P. Diddy, Puff Daddy” Combs played Sergio Roma. Combs was surprisingly hilarious and delivered some of the finniest parts of the movie. I seriously couldn’t believe half of the stuff that Combs seemed willing to do with the role. Rose Byrne (Knowing, Sunshine) plays Snow’s old flame and fellow music artist, Jackie Q. Byrne was hilarious is most of her scenes but some of the better stuff came from the songs that she performed as her character. Elizabeth Moss (TVs Mad Men) plays Aarons girlfriend, Daphne. Moss was great in her role, she plays a doctor who is just exhausted most of the time and her delivery of her lines with Hill is just so funny. The biggest surprise of all, to me, was the appearance of Lars Ulrich, drummer for Metallica. Ulrich wasn’t in the movie much but it was great seeing him interact with Brand’s character, really funny stuff. The movie is loaded with random appearances of rock stars and actors, so keep your eye out for those. Also, the soundtrack for the movie is great as it is mostly comprised of songs by the fake band, Infant Sorrow, which Aldous Snow heads. The songs are extremely funny as they tend to be loaded with double entendres.

This movie was really funny and a lot of fun to watch. If you like comedies and if you liked Russell Brand’s character in Forgetting Sarah Marshall, go see this movie, it is well worth it.

Great quote: “Why isn’t anybody answering their phone!? I’m answering my phone and I just got hit by a motherf***ing car!”

Review: La Mission

Grade: A-

Che Rivera has lived in the Mission district of San Fransisco all of his life. He learned early on that you have to be tough in order to survive. He is a reformed inmate and a recovering alcoholic. Now, he’s a much respected man in the Mission district who drives a bus for a living, but lives to build and customize beautiful lowrider cars. He works hard to do right by his son, Jesse, who he loves more than anything. In the Mission, people live strongly through tradition and faith. However, Che’s path to redemption and his belief in tradition is tested greatly when he discovers that his son is gay. Che then is forced to chose between the safety of his son in the neighborhood or keeping his life longs beliefs.

This movie was a very pleasant surprise. I expected it to be boring and uninteresting but the movie took a direction I wasn’t expecting. Benjamin Bratt (Miss Congeniality, TVs Law and Order) stars in the lead role of Che Rivera. Bratt’s performance was outstanding and probably the best of his career. La Mission is written and directed by Benjamin’s brother, Peter Bratt. Peter did an amazing job with this movie. The real star of the movie is the Mission district itself and the lowrider culture that Che and his family and friends invest so much time in. The scenery is great and I really enjoy the way that the movie was shot. Not to mention that the cars are breathtaking, really moving pieces of art.

This movie is actually a wonderful character study. Che is a very tough man from growing up in a rough district. He learned how to survive by using his fists. He is and always has been very religious. As a result of all of this, he doesn’t know how to handle the fact that his son is gay and bursts out, violently at times. Jesse, played extremely well by Jeremy Ray Valdez, is a somewhat typical hardworking teen. He is working hard to graduate from high school so he can go on to college at UCLA. Now, he is just trying to make it out of the Mission as it isn’t exactly a gay friendly neighborhood. Throughout the movie, you really connect and feel for all of the characters involved.

I really have to recommend that if you get the opportunity, to go check out La Mission. It is an extremely well made movie with a wonderful story. The look into the lowrider culture is a lot of fun too. Really, my only complaint is that the ending is a little drawn out, other than that it's great.

Great quote: “That’s the thing about lowriding, We don’t really go anywhere, we just take our time getting there.”

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Review: Splice

Grade: B

Two young rebellious scientists, Elsa and Clive, have been working hard for years creating new species by genetically splicing together the DNA of multiple organisms. The company that the two scientist work for are extremely interested in the creatures as they produce a protein used in farming and many other things. Elsa and Clive want to take the experiments to the next level by splicing human DNA into the creations as it could help them cure many diseases. The company, however, finds that to be too morally questionable and instead shut down their research so they can harvest the protein out of the existing creatures. In an act of defiance, Elsa and Clive decide to secretly make the creature with human DNA anyway. Never meant to go full term, the creature is “born” early and continues to grow and develop rapidly. Now, the creature looks like a beautiful young girl and is very intelligent. But as she continues to evolve she becomes tired of being locked up all the time and begins to act out in increasingly violent ways.

This movie actually took me by surprise. I didn’t have any real expectations for it but it turned out to be pretty enjoyable. This movie is essentially a modern take of the story of “The Island of Dr. Moreau” with some Frankenstein themes thrown in. Dren, the creature, was created by combining the genes of multiple organisms with the DNA of a human. Clive, played by Adrian Brody (The Brothers Bloom, King Kong), struggles at the beginning of the film and wants to kill the creature as he feels it never really should have existed and if anybody found out it does exist, they would probably go to jail. Elsa, played by Sarah Polley (Dawn of the Dead, TV’s John Adams), bonds with the creature instantly and almost starts treating Dren as though she were her daughter.

Here’s the thing about this movie though, I have a very hard time classifying it as a horror. I would say it’s more of a sci-fi movie with some suspenseful moments towards the end. The whole movie is more of a character study of Clive and Elsa, that Brody and Polley did a great job with, and it shows their bond with this creature, Dren. And Dren is a character all herself. She can’t speak but she emotes really well and you can see her longing to learn more about the world that she is being kept from. The special effects in this movie are really good, Dren has odd kangaroo-esque legs, a tail and her eyes are pretty far apart and it all looks extremely realistic.

The movie is also pretty funny, where it shouldn’t be. There are some scenes that are supposed to be taken seriously, I think, but it just comes off as comical. Not to mention that some pretty messed up stuff happens in this movie, not horror-wise, just plain messed up that raises some moral questions and some debate as to what it all means. I wish I could say more but I’ll let you go see the movie and judge for yourself when you see the scenes I’m talking about.

Splice is actually pretty enjoyable and if you like sci-fi “Island of Dr. Moreau” type stuff than this movie is worth checking out at some point. If you are looking for a scary horror movie, like this has been advertised as, this just isn’t that movie. In my opinion, the only stuff that could be construed as scary happens in the last 10-15 minutes of the movie.

Great quote: “Cloning humans is illegal, this won’t be human, not entirely.”