Thursday, September 23, 2010

Reviews: The Legend of the Guardians

Grade: A-

Soren and Kludd are young owlets who don’t even know quite how to fly yet. They were raised being told amazing stories about warrior owls known as Guardians. Soren believes whole heartedly in them while Kludd is skeptical. One day, the two were messing around outside of their hole when they accidently fall from the tree to the ground. They are then kidnapped by owls large mysterious owls and brought to a mysterious place. They are told that they are now orphans and must work for the evil queen Nyra and her husband, Metalbeak, the evil owl from all the stories who tries to rule the owl kingdom. Soren and another small owl manage to escape and decide that they must find the island of Ga’hoole and warn the guardians about Metalbeak’s return. Along the way they make some new friends and when they arrive they all start training to become guardians themselves.

Director Zack Snyder (Watchmen, 300) has done it again, he has yet to disappoint. Legend of the Guardians was a fantastic movie that is so much fun to watch. Zack Snyder is known to make very adult movies loaded with violence and bloodshed so I was curious to see him make a kid friendly movie and he really pulled it off. I will say though that it is just barely kid friendly in my opinion. It seems that he managed to make an R rated movie but not really show any of the violence so it will get the PG rating, but he does hint at the violence. For instance, many of the evil owls have very red feathers, it is explained at one point that these owls feathers are red because they are blood stained. The action sequences in this movie are very intense and will keep you on the edge of your seats. The movie manages to be quite funny as well which really helps it out at times. I really loved the look of the movie though. The animation was just spectacular and made all the characters beautiful. It was fun to see many different species of owls involved in the story. Some of the best parts, though, were when the guardian owls donned their battle gear, very interesting and a lot of fun to see warrior owls.

The voice cast for the movie was pretty impressive as well and consisted of Jim Sturgess, Ryan Kwanten, Abbie Cornish, Essie Davis, Sam Neill, Helen Miren, Geoffrey Rush, Hugo Weaving, David Wenham, Richard Roxburgh and more. They all did a great job bringing their characters to life and really helped make this movie as enjoyable as it is.

Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole is simply a fun and enjoyable movie to watch. I recommend this movie for everybody.

Great quote: “Who are these small owls and why are they talking to dinner?”

Friday, September 17, 2010

Review: Easy A

Grade: A-

Olive was an extremely average high school student, unnoticed by most others at her high school in California. One day, she is sentenced to detention for verbally abusing a fellow student. In detention, she reconnects with an old friend, who happens to be gay. Later, he asks her to do him a favor, he is ridiculed constantly at school for being gay and he wants it to stop, his solution: He and Olive fake having sex at a big party so the rumor will spread that he is straight. Shortly after, the rumor spreads and she is painted as the school harlot. Instead of denying the claims, Olive decides to embrace the claims and help out some guys who wanted to gain a little popularity by letting them claim that they hooked up with her. All the while, in her English class they are reading The Scarlet Letter, so Olive decides to adorn her clothes with a red A as well, but then the everyone at the school starts treating her very differently and she wonders if she made the right choice.

Easy A is actually a lot of fun and a pretty decent movie. This movie is very funny and rather touching at times. It has many great lines and scenes that had me laughing and it’s all complimented by almost tragic scenes of Olive realizing what the rumor she helped start has done to her life. One of the more entertaining parts of the movie are the parallels that they make between Olive’s story at school and the Scarlet Letter. The story was actually pretty well written and very enjoyable. I was pleasantly surprised with how much I enjoyed this movie. The only problem that I really had with Easy A was how so many of the characters at one point make it sound like the word twat is the worst word ever, much less a bad word at all.

Emma Stone (Superbad, Zombieland) plays the lead role of Olive. I have liked her performances in the past and she did a great job in this movie. Her portrayal of this type of character was spot on and did a great job with the more emotional stuff as well. Amanda Bynes (Hairspray, She’s the Man) plays Marianne, a super religious girl who starts a campaign against Olive. Bynes was very enjoyable in this movie playing a character people love to hate. Stanley Tucci (Julie & Julia, The Terminal) plays Dill, Olive’s dad. Tucci was absolutely hilarious in this movie and some of the best lines came from him. Thomas Haden Church (Sideways, Spider-Man 3) plays Mr. Griffith, Olive’s English teacher. He did a great job with the small role that he had and was very enjoyable. The movie also features Penn Badgley, Dan Byrd, Patricia Clarkson, Lisa Kudrow, Malcolm McDowell, Alyson Michalka, Fred Armisen and more.

If you are looking for a funny, sweet and just plain fun movie, go see Easy A. It is a great movie for what it is and it has a lot of heart to it too. The ending is fantastic too.

Great quote: “I don’t understand your generation’s obsession with documenting every thought you ever have.”

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Review: The Town

Grade: A+

In Boston, the blue-collar neighborhood of Charleston is widely regarded as the bank robbing capitol of the world. Doug is the leader of a group of bank robbers, he is the brains of the operation and has planned many successful robberies, but he knows his luck will not last forever and is looking for a change in his life. During one of their bank robberies, Doug forced the bank manager, Claire, to open the safe, he then took her hostage to use as leverage during their getaway. When the group finds out she lives within blocks of the gang, Doug is tasked with keeping an eye on her to make sure she won’t be a problem and won’t be able to identify them. However, while doing that he forms a relationship with Claire and forms strong feelings about her. As Doug is forced to plan one last big job, his relationship with Claire takes them both down a perilous path.

This movie actually took me by surprise. After watching the trailer, I was afraid that it had given too much away but I was wrong. The story is actually really good and the different twists and turns keep you on the edge of your seat. Director and star of the movie, Ben Affleck (Extract, Daredevil) also co-wrote the movie and did a really good job. The writing was really good, in my opinion, and the suspense of the movie and the relationships between the characters was great. Not to mention that Affleck’s performance in the movie was top notch, one of the best of his career. I’m not usually a huge fan of Affleck’s more dramatic role but his performance in this movie really surprised me, Affleck is back and in top form.

The movie also stars Jon Hamm (The Day the Earth Stood Still, TVs Mad Men) as Adam Frawley, an FBI agent who is desperately trying to find Doug’s group of bank robbers. Hamm is really beginning to prove himself more and more as a talented actor who could take over the movies if and when Mad Men ends. Rebecca Hall (Please Give, Vicky Christina Barcelona) plays Claire, the bank manager who Doug falls for after taking hostage. She did a great job with her role and I hope to see her start showing up in bigger roles like this soon. Jeremy Renner (Hurt Locker, 28 Weeks Later) plays James, Doug’s closest friend and right hand man in the group. Renner gave an amazing performance in this movie, doing such a great job showing his instability and the fact that the only person he is close with is Doug. The movie also features great performances by Blake Lively, Pete Postlethwaite, Chris Cooper, Titus Welliver and more.

The Town is a great movie filled with drama and suspense about a man seeking redemption. I have to recommend this movie to anyone looking for a quality movie to watch. Just great and well worth watching.

Great quote: “I’ll see you around, this side or the other.”

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Review: Resident Evil: Afterlife

Grade: C+

It has been four years since the T-virus outbreak in Raccoon City. The infection that brings people back from the dead, turning them into flesh hungry zombies, has spread worldwide now. Alice continues to battle the evil Umbrella Corporation while still trying to find as many survivors as possible and trying to get them to safety. After a trip to Alaska, where there was supposed to be a safe haven free of infection, turns up a dead end, Alice is reunited with an old friend. The two fly to Los Angeles in hopes of finding more survivors but find the city in ashes except for a small group of survivors hiding out in a prison. As they help the small band of survivors, they come across new dangers and realize that they are all about to enter a trap as they uncover even more secrets of the Umbrella Corporation.

I love the Resident Evil movies but unfortunately Afterlife is a bit of a disappointment. The action in the movie is still a lot of fun to watch and the story is still very interesting and keeps you on the edge of your seat, constantly wondering what is going to happen next. The rest of the movie, however, falls short. To start, it’s almost as if there were two movies in one and the first movie, the more interesting of the two, only lasts the first ten to fifteen minutes. The opening sequence where the army of Alices (which are shown at the end of Extinction) break into the Umbrella hive underneath Tokyo was pretty dun and interesting, but I felt that could have been a movie all in itself. After this sequence, director Paul W.S. Anderson takes a note from Roland Emerich’s book and the movie slows way down for way too long. For a movie in a series which has focused mostly on fighting zombies, there is really only one sequence in the movie where this happens. The director seems as though he is also trying to be the next John Woo because in every action sequence the movie goes into slow motion every five seconds. The movie was shot in 3D so when you watch it in 2D there are many parts that look stupid because stuff is just pointing right in the camera. One of my biggest problems is that this movie is to insider-y. There are constantly things showing up with little to no explanation. When I did ask some people they would say “it’s in the game”, that’s nice, I still want an explanation as to what it is. I will say though, the sequences in the movie with the main protagonist, Wesker, are pretty fun and entertaining to watch, especially the fights.

The movie stars Milla Jovovich (Resident Evil, Ultraviolet) once again as the movies main character, Alice. Jovovich is once again a blast to watch in this role, for some reason it almost seems as though the role of Alice was made for her, she did such a great job. Ali Larter (Obsessed, TVs Heroes) returns as well as Claire. Larter was fun to watch in this movie as well as her character takes on a slightly larger part than she had in Extinction. The movie also features Shawn Roberts, Kim Coates, Boris Kodjoe, Wentworth Miller and more.

This movie has plenty of moments that make it fun and worth watching but it also has a lot of flaws. If you like the Resident Evil series, I still have to recommend watching it, but I really hope that this is the final installment in the series, they need to quit now before they completely ruin it.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Review: Going the Distance

Grade: B+

Garrett has just broken up with his girlfriend so he and his two best friends decide to go to the bar. There, he meets Erin when he interrupts her game play, so he buys her a beer. They have a great night together and head back to his place. The next morning over breakfast he learns that she is only in town for the summer while she interns at a newspaper, and will soon be returning to San Francisco to finish grad school. At first they agree to not let it get serious but it quickly does, so when Erin departs for San Francisco, they agree to do everything they can to make the long distance relationship work.

Going the Distance was surprisingly good, I really felt that it was going to be cliché and only have a couple funny parts but I was wrong. To start, I didn’t realize that it was rated R, and yes, that made all the difference. If they tried to take this very funny and, at times, raunchy movie PG-13, it would have dumbed down the humor so much it wouldn’t be funny anymore. Instead, I found myself laughing hysterically through most of the movie. This movie is definitely my kind of romantic comedy, by that I mean it has a little more comedy than romance.

Justin Long (Accepted, Live Free or Die Hard) plays Garrett and Drew Barrymore (Whip It, Charlie’s Angels) plays Erin. I am a pretty big fan of Justin Long, he is very funny and does a great job with the roles he does. Drew Barrymore tends to be pretty hit and miss with me but she is a definite hit in Going the Distance. These two have great on screen chemistry and played off each other so well which really helped make the movie that much more enjoyable.

The supporting cast in the movie was great too. Charlie Day (TVs It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia) plays Dan, Garrett’s best friend and roommate. Day was absolutely hilarious in this movie, every time he opened his mouth, or really did anything, it would make me laugh. Jason Sudeikis (The Bounty Hunter, TVs Saturday Night Live) plays Box, Garrett’s other best friend. He was pretty funny in this too and he and Day played off each other very well. Christina Applegate (Anchorman, The Sweetest Thing) plays Corinne, Erin’s sister. She was great too and very funny. Jim Gaffigan (Away We Go, TVs My Boys) plays Phil, Corinne’s husband. Gaffigan was absolutely hilarious in this movie. The movie also features Ron Livingston, Kristen Schaal, Rob Riggle and more.

This movie is actually very funny and very sweet. I definitely enjoyed it more than I thought I would. If you are looking for a good romantic comedy with just the right amount of drama, go see Going the Distance.

Great quote: “Would you pay attention to me for one second, I’m trying to talk about how there are no baby pigeons.”

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Review: Machete

Grade: A-

The man known only as Machete was once an honorable federale agent in Mexico. When a drug kingpin, Torrez, kills Machete’s wife and child and attempts to kill Machete himself, he flees across the border to America to hide. Three years later, Machete is working as a day laborer in a border town in Texas. One day, a mysterious man, Booth, shows up and gives Machete $150,000 dollars to assassinate a Texas senator, Senator McLaughlin, which is a job he doesn’t want. When Machete shows up to do the job, he is double crossed and shot and framed for attempting to kill the senator. Machete then goes on a rampage to hunt down the people who double crossed him and find out who is behind it all and in the process, begins a Mexican revolution at the border.

Machete is just plain bloody, over the top, ridiculous fun. As many of you may remember, back in 2007 directors Robert Rodriguez (Desperado, Sin City) and Quentin Tarantino (Inglorious Basterds, Reservoir Dogs) made a double feature movie called Grindhouse that was an homage to the exploitation / grindhouse movies of the 70’s, complete with fake trailers for other grindhouse movies, one of those fake trailers was Machete. Well, Rodriguez decided to take his fake trailer and make an actual movie out of it. So this movie is crazy and over-the-top and unrealistic but loaded with violence and fake gore. This movie is just good fun and about the cheesiest movie to come out in a long time, but that just adds to the fun of watching it. The only thing about this movie that I didn’t like was the political message being beat into your head throughout the movie. The bad guy in the movie is the senator who wants to build a wall and kick all the illegal immigrants out of the country. On top of the politics taking a little bit of the fun out of the movie, the political message being spout out is a little messed up in my opinion and I don’t really agree with it, but this isn’t the place to talk about that.

Danny Trejo (Predators, Once Upon a Time in Mexico) plays the titular character, Machete. While Trejo has been in a ton of movies, he’s never really played a leading role. He did a great job leading this movie, there really is no better person to play the role of Machete. Robert de Niro (What Just Happened, Stardust) plays the evil Senator McLaughlin. He did a pretty good job playing a really bad guy for once, did a good job playing the stereotypical Texan. Jessica Alba (Fantastic Four, Sin City) plays Sartana, an immigration officer who decides to side with Machete. Alba did a good job with this movie, I like her acting but she seems to do a lot of bad movies. Steven Segal (Under Seige, Out for Justice) plays Torrez, an evil drug kingpin trying to kill Machete. Segal was entertaining and very Segal-esque that we all remember, he also got pretty fat. The movie also features performances by Michelle Rodriguez, Jeff Fahey, Cheech Marin, Don Johnson, Lindsay Lohan, Daryl Sabara and many other familiar faces from Rodriguez’s other movies.

If you liked Grindhouse, you will absolutely love Machete. It is just so much fun on every level. If you remember the fake trailer for Machete before Grindhouse, you will be very pleased with this movie because every shot that is in that trailer is in the movie at some point. On top of that, they kept the cast in their proper roles from the trailer. If you love cheesy, campy, over the top action type movies, go see Machete.

Great quote: “Machete don’t text.”