Friday, December 31, 2010

Review: I Love You, Phillip Morris

Grade: A

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The Best Movies of 2010

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

15. TRON: Legacy

My review

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

14. Iron Man 2

My review

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

13. Let Me In

My review

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

12. She’s Out of My League

My review

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

11. Get Low

My review

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

10. 127 Hours

My review

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

9. The Social Network

My review

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

8. The Town

My review

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

7. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part I

My review

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

6. Kick-Ass

My Review

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

5. Toy Story 3

My review

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

4. Inception

My review

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

3. Black Swan

My review

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

2. The King’s Speech

My review

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

1. Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World

My review

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

The Worst Movies of 2010

Underrated Movies of 2010

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Underrated Movies of 2010

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

Morning Glory

My review

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

Easy A

My review

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

Going the Distance

My review

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


My review

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


My review

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


My review

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

Cop Out

My review

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

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

Monday, December 27, 2010

Review: How Do You Know

Grade: C

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Review: The King's Speech

Grade: A+

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The Worst Movies of 2010

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

5. Lovely Bones

My review

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

4. Shutter Island

My review

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

3. Jonah Hex

My Review

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

2. Skyline

My Review

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

1. Jack-Ass 3D

My Review

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

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Review: True Grit

Grade: A-

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Review: The Fighter

Grade: B-

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Review: TRON: Legacy

Grade: A

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Review: Black Swan

Grade: A+

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, December 10, 2010

Review: The Next Three Days

Grade: B

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

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

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

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

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Review: The Tourist

Grade: A-

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Review: Love and Other Drugs

Grade: B-

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

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

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

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

Friday, December 3, 2010

Review: Morning Glory

Grade: A-

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

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

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

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

Great quote: “Are you going to sing?”

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Review: Faster

Grade: B-

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

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

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

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