Thursday, June 30, 2011

Review: Transformers: Dark of the Moon

Grade: A

It’s been a couple years since the Autobots defeated The Fallen and chased the Decepticons off of Earth. In that time, the Autobots have been working with the government on covert assignments and making sure that the Decepticons do not return. When they learn of an Autobot spacecraft that crashed on the moon in the early 60’s, launching the space race, Optimus Prime and the others race to the moon to retrieve its contents and the ship’s captain, and former Autobot leader, Sentinel Prime. They quickly learn that the Decepticons have been hiding out on Earth and are trying to obtain the mysterious cargo from the ship that will allow them to destroy Earth once and for all as well as rebuild their home planet.

Transformers: Dark of the Moon is the latest chapter in the Transformer franchise. I will start out by saying that it is definitely better than the second movie, Revenge of the Fallen, but not quite as good as the first. This one actually has a pretty decent story and the action is great. I am thankful that, while it does still have some funny moments, they didn’t try to load this one with tons of stupid humor like they did with the second one. Director Michael Bay (The Rock, Armageddon) actually managed to put together an interesting story and you really feel for a lot of the characters. He loaded it with tons of great action and you spend the last hour of the movie hanging on to the edge of your seat. It is definitely the most intense movie of the series and the third act is actually kind of emotional at times. My only complaint is that they could have trimmed up a couple scenes, but nothing major. It is a long movie but it keeps you interested the whole time so you don’t really mind.

The movie stars Shia LaBeouf (Eagle Eye, Disturbia) plays the role of Sam Witwicky, a close friend of the Autobots since they first arrived on Earth. LaBouf is his usual tolerable self who manages to play terrified very well. He has some decent moments in the movie but overall I just don’t care for him that much. New comers Rosie Huntington-Whitely plays the role of Carly, Sam’s new girlfriend. She is Megan Fox’s replacement after being kicked off the movie and is really just there for eye-candy, and in that sense, she succeeds. Josh Duhamel (Life as We Know It, When in Rome) is back as Lennox. He has a decent part in this movie and manages to be pretty good in it. John Turturro (Secret Window, Barton Fink) is back as Simmons, a Transformer expert. Turturro is always enjoyable and is pretty good and funny in this movie. The movie also features Tyrese Gibson, Frances McDormand, Patrick Dempsey, John Malkovich, Kevin Dunn, Julie White, Alan Tudyk, Ken Jeong and more and it features the voices of Peter Cullen, Hugo Weaving, Leonard Nemoy, James Remar and more.

Transformers: Dark of the Moon is a very enjoyable movie and is a lot of fun to watch. It is also a great ending to these movies. If you have enjoyed the first two… or at least the first one, then you should really head out and check this movie out. I will say, even though I’m not a fan of 3D, it is pretty good in this movie and seeing this movie in IMAX 3D is well worth it and is the way I recommend seeing it.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Podcast: Episode 9

Episode 9 of Shut Up! The Movie's Starting, the official podcast of Cucu for Movies, is now available by clicking here!

In this episode, Michael and Russell discuss the movie Bad Teacher, playing in theaters now, and from the Netflix Instant Queue they discuss the movie Big Nothing. Also, the two talk about Tim Burton’s Planet of the Apes, Clerks, Percy Jackson, The badassness of Sean Bean, the atrocious Footloose remake trailer, Michael’s adoration for writer/director Kevin Smith, movies available on Netflix Instant Watch and more! So enjoy!

Review: Bad Teacher

Grade: C-

Elizabeth is a teacher at John Adams Middle School and she really doesn’t care about her job. She planned on marrying her fiancé, who is very wealthy, and living easy off his money after that. However, when he figures out her plans, he dumps her forcing her to take her job back at the school. She wants to try to find another wealthy man and to do so she feels that she needs to raise money to get a boob job. She doesn’t care about teaching and does horrible things to get money. Then, when she finds out that whichever teacher’s students score the highest on the state test, that teacher gets a large bonus, She kicks things into high gear in order to get that bonus and to try to land the new substitute teacher, Scott Delacorte.

Bad Teacher is a raunchy R-rated comedy that falls short in so many different areas. While it does have some pretty funny parts, the writing is pretty bad and there aren’t as many as there should be and many of the moments are just so stupid that you can’t help but laugh. The main character of Elizabeth is a horrible person so you never sympathize with her. While (slight spoilers ahead) the movie does have a happy ending, of sorts, she never faces any repercussions for the many horrible and immoral things that she does. In fact, any repercussions that do happen, she manages to push off on to another person, thus making her an even worse person. It astounds me that anybody would want to be with her at the end of the movie because of how she acts and treats people throughout.

Cameron Diaz (Green Hornet, Knight and Day) plays the lead role of Elizabeth, a horrible person who I have to wonder how she ever got a job as a teacher in the first place much less kept her job. Diaz was hired mostly because she is hot and looks the part of what they wanted. She had a couple funny lines but again, her character is such a horrible person you never really find what she’s doing all that funny. Justin Timberlake (Social Network, Southland Tales) plays the role of Scott, a substitute teacher with rich parents who Elizabeth is desperate to marry or whatever. Timberlake was alright in this movie but he has definitely been better and more enjoyable. Jason Segel (I Love You Man, Knocked Up) plays Russell, a gym teacher who, for some reason, really wants to start a relationship with Elizabeth. I normally don’t like Jason Segel much but he was really the only funny part of this movie. He had a bunch of great one-liners and his sarcastic demeanor through the movie was great. Lucy Punch (Take Me Home Tonight, Diner for Schmucks) plays Amy, a rival teacher who begins to go insane trying to prove Elizabeth is a bad person. She was pretty entertaining and really funny at times in this movie. The movie also features Phyllis Smith, John Michael Higgins and more.

Bad Teacher got it half right, it is a bad movie. I really can’t recommend seeing this movie anytime soon. I would suggest waiting for DVD then renting it. It has its moments, but overall it in poorly written, has a lose premise and an extremely unlikable main character who never learns her lesson.

Great quote: “Don’t throw it at her, through it THROUGH her.”

Monday, June 20, 2011

Podcast: Episdode 8

Click here to listen to episode 8 of Shut Up! The Movie's Starting!

In Episode 8 of Shut Up! The Movie’s Starting Michael and Russell discuss the movies Mr. Popper’s Penguins and Green Lantern, that are in theaters now. They also discuss the revenge thriller Harry Brown that is currently available on the Netflix instant queue. In addition they talk about their Film on the Rocks experience with Scott Pilgrim vs The World, The Walking Dead, Nurse Jackie, Poolhall Junkies, the movies of Kevin Smith, Planet of the Apes, a Hawkman movie and so much more, take a listen.

Review: Green Lantern

Grade: C+

Hal Jordan is one of the best test pilots around. One day he quits though after a near death experience after taking on two unmanned A.I. jets. At the same time, an alien known as Abin-Sur, the member of an intergalactic peace squadron, is attacked by a deadly force. He manages to escape and fly to Earth, with his final breaths, he uses his power ring to find a replacement for himself. The ring finds Hal Jordan, giving him the powers of the Green Lantern. The ring takes him to a distant planet that he discovers that the Green Lantern Corps use as their base of operation. There he learns how to use the power of the green lantern to fight evil. Unsure of himself, Hal returns to Earth where he discovers that the great evil that killed Abin-Sur is heading towards Earth to destroy the planet.

Green Lantern is based on the DC comic series of the same name. I wanted so badly for this to be good but unfortunately DC has proved to me once again that the only good movies they make are Batman. This movie really seems to rush things, so much that I feel that you barely get to know any of the characters, and that includes Hal. There are bits of his past that they push out there right away that I feel would have been more effective if they waited until later in the movie to reveal. They also have many characters pop up and they don’t explain their relationship with Hal. While other characters just simply aren’t in it long enough to really know anything about them. On top of that, they maybe should have spent a little bit longer on some of the special effects because some of the characters looked extremely fake. The story itself was ok and somewhat enjoyable but I was still hoping for more. This movie felt like a big advertisement for a possible sequel.

Ryan Reynolds (Buried, The Proposal) plays the lead character of Hal Jordan, who becomes the Green Lantern. I usually really like Ryan Reynolds but in this movie they didn’t really let him be Ryan Reynolds. He looks the part for sure but I like Reynolds because of his great sense of humor, which they didn’t really let out much in this movie. Blake Lively (The Town, Accepted) plays the role of Carol Ferris, the love interest. I like her and she did a good job with the role that she had but again, I don’t feel like they showed enough of their history to make you care. Peter Sarsgaard (Knight and Day, An Education) plays Hector Hammond. While Sarsgaard did a good job with the role, the role itself was weird because he was supposed to be a bad guy but he didn’t really do anything. The movie also features Mark Strong, Tim Robbins and more.

Green Lantern is a decent attempt at a superhero movie but I really feel like it fell short in many places. I can’t really recommend seeing this in theaters, it’s a good one to wait for DVD to rent. Hopefully the sequel they set this movie up for is better. It does have some pretty good moments but not enough for me.

Great quote: “You think that just because I won’t know who you are because I can’t see your cheek bones!?”

Review: Mr. Popper's Penguins

Grade: B

Thomas Popper is great at his job and his job is buying real estate for a firm in New York City. His bosses have a challenge for him that if he completes it, they will make him a partner at the company. Mr. Popper needs to convince the owner of a building in the middle of central park to sell the property to his company. However, Mr. Popper’s life is thrown upside down when he receives a package from his distant father shortly after his death. In the package are six penguins that begin to take over his apartment. At first he tries to find a way to get rid of them but when the penguins begin to act as a way for him to reconnect with his kids who don’t seem to like him too much, Mr. Popper begins to turn his place into an arctic wonderland so the penguins can stay there comfortably. This, of course, begins to cause conflict with his work but allows him to reconnect with his ex-wife as well.

Mr. Popper’s Penguins was a great children’s book that they managed to turn into a very fun kid’s movie. This movie is very kid friendly and does tend to follow many clichés of kids movie i.e. distant father, crazy thing allows him to reconnect with his kids, risks his job for crazy thing etc… However, it still manages to be a lot of fun to watch. The jokes are great and constant and managed to keep me laughing through most of the movie. There are many great gags like the fact they keep the alliteration of the title going throughout the movie via the character of Pippi, Mr. Popper’s assistant. She says as many p words as possible throughout the movie and it is actually pretty consistently funny. The penguins themselves are very entertaining and all have funny little characteristics separating themselves from each other.

Jim Carrey (I Love You, Phillip Morris, Yes Man) plays the titular character of Mr. Popper. I have always been a big fan of Jim Carrey and he is the main reason I was looking forward to this movie. He was great in it and was just as funny as he always is. He really kept me laughing through the whole movie, he managed to be Jim Carrey and also be a very kid friendly character, just great and very enjoyable. Carla Gugino (Sucker Punch, Race to Witch Mountain) plays the role of Amanda, Mr. Popper’s ex-wife. She was pretty enjoyable as well in the movie and made it pretty enjoyable. The movie also features Angela Lansbury, Ophelia Lovibond, Clark Gregg, David Krumholtz, Phillip Baker Hall and more.

Mr. Popper’s Penguin’s is a great kid’s movie that the adults can enjoy as well. So if you’ve got kids or are just looking for a light hearted comedy, I would recommend checking out this movie. It can easily be enjoyed by people of all ages.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Podcast: Episode 7

Oops, forgot to post this Monday. Episode 7 of Shut Up! The Movie's Starting is available for your listening pleasure here.

In episode 7, Michael and Russell discuss the new movie Super 8 (in theaters now) (without spoilers), Close Encounters of the Third Kind (on the Netflix Instant Queue), Steven Spielberg, J.J. Abrams, Jurassic Park, World War Z, It’s Kind of A Funny Story (On DVD), Midnight in Paris (In theaters), Simon Pegg, Danny Glover, Justin Timberlake, remakes and so much more! Please take a listen.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Review: Super 8

Grade: A+

In the summer of 1979, a group of middle school friends are all working together to help make a zombie movie in a small town in Ohio. One night, while shooting at an abandoned train station, the group witnesses a massive train crash and barely escape with their lives. The Air Force shows up immediately to pick up their mysterious cargo and help clean up the wreckage. The next day, strange things begin to happen all around town. First, all the animals seem to have run off in every direction, then people start disappearing and the Air Force begins to act weirder and weirder about what’s going on. The group of kids accidently stumble upon some information and begin their own investigation as to what is truly happening in their town.

Super 8 is the latest movie written and directed by J.J. Abrams (Star Trek, Mission Impossible III) and it is amazing. If nothing else, Abrams is the master of marketing; he released a teaser for this movie over a year ago and had me interested immediately. The movie is produced by Steven Spielberg (War of the Worlds, Jurassic Park) and he and Abrams seemed to work brilliantly together in creating this movie. In fact, Abrams clearly is inspired by Spielberg because this movie draws a lot from movies like Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Jaws and E.T. Now, despite that this movie is clearly inspired by those movies, it is an incredibly original movie, and is possibly the most original movie in years. It is just great.

The story is fascinating as well. From the first scene I was completely hooked and couldn’t wait to see how it plays out. The movie really keeps you on the edge of your seat because you never really know what is going on and you are just as curious and suspicious as the kids are. They also don’t show the creature until very late in the movie, which is great. Throughout the movie, you keep seeing flashes and possible glimpses of the creature but you really don’t get a good view of it until somewhat close to the end of the movie. Really, the only complaint that I have about the movie, and it is a minor complaint that I can ignore, and that’s that Abrams really likes lens flares, I knew that before, but there were some scenes with lens flares where they were kind of out of place and unnecessary.

The characters and actors in the movie were great as well. In my opinion, it is extremely hard and very rare that filmmakers find good child actors. Somehow, they found six amazing kids to be in this movie. Every one of the kids in this movie were amazing and you really grow to love all of their characters. Just amazing. The kids, who are the main stars of the movie, are played by Joel Courtney, Elle Fanning, Ryan Lee, Riley Griffiths, Zach Mills and Gabriel Basso. The rest of the cast was great too and included Kyle Chandler, Noah Emmerich, Jessica Tuck, Joel McKinnon Miller and more.

Super 8 is an amazing movie and a spectacular sci-fi/suspense movie. I would have to say that it is currently my favorite movie of this year and one of the best movies to come out in the last couple movies. I cannot recommend this movie enough. It can play to almost any audience. Everything about this movie is just amazing and I haven’t enjoyed a movie watching experience this much since Scott Pilgrim last year. Seriously, go see this movie, now!

Great quote: “I’m telling you this as your friend; your obsession with fireworks concerns me… and my mom.”

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Review: Midnight in Paris

Grade: B+

Gil is on vacation in Paris, France with his fiancée, Inez, and her parents, who are there for business. Gil was a screenwriter who is now trying to write a novel. He instantly falls in love with the city of lights and begins to talk about moving there, much to the chagrin of Inez. One night, slightly frustrated, Gil decides to take a walk around the city before heading back to the hotel. However, he gets lost and winds up in a part of Paris he is not familiar with. At midnight, while he is trying to find a way back to the hotel, a mysterious car pulls up and the people inside insist that he join them for a night of fun. He hesitantly agrees to join them, next he finds himself at a party where he meets F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, Pablo Picasso and more. He comes to find out that he has somehow wound up in the 1920s. It is there that he meets Adriana, a beautiful woman and mistress of Picasso’s. He decides to go back every night where he continues his odd affair as he also begins to question his relationship with Inez.

Midnight in Paris is the latest movie written and directed by Woody Allen (Whatever Works, Vicky Cristina Barcelona). I have to say, I didn’t used to care much for his movies, except for a few of his older ones, but over the last couple of years, he has really been winning me over. This movie is definitely one of his better movies of the last several years. It tells a very interesting story and is loaded with great characters. Gil forms a close relationship with a robust Hemingway and encounters many other great writers and artists of the late 19th and early 20th century. I found the whole time travel aspect of this movie very interesting. It shows Gil living in a time and place that he considers ideal. The whole story is very entertaining and funny at times but I wouldn’t really call this a comedy, it’s just a very lighthearted movie.

Owen Wilson (Hall Pass, How Do You Know) plays the role of Gil, a writer struggling to finish his first novel. I haven’t really like many of Wilson’s roles/performances for the last couple years but he did a great job and was excellent casting for this movie. He is of course playing the part that Woody Allen himself would play if he were younger and he manages to play it very well. Rachel McAdams plays the role of Inez, Gil’s fiancée. She was pretty good in this role and really managed to portray the character very well. Marion Cotillard (Inception, Public Enemies) plays the role of Adriana, Picasso’s lover. The movie has an amazing supporting cast that includes Kathy Bates, Kurt Fuller, Michael Sheen, Alison Pill, Tom Hiddleston, Corey Stoll, Adrian Brody and more.

Midnight in Paris is a very fun movie and one of Woody Allen’s better movie’s, in my opinion. It is a lot of fun to see all these great writers and painters interacting with the main character. It is a very charming movie and is definitely worth watching if you are a fan of Woody Allen at all. It’s a little bizarre at first but I quickly grew to love its quirkyness.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Review: X-Men: First Class

Grade: A+

In 1944 in Poland, a young Erik Lehnsherr is forced to use his mysterious powers in order to move a coin by a Nazi officer who then kills his mother. At the same time in Westchester, New York a young Charles Xavier encounters a mysterious blue girl named Raven with the ability to change her appearance. 18 years later, the CIA is investigating possible communist activity when agent Moira MacTaggert witnesses a woman turn into diamonds and a man teleport hundreds of miles in an instant. She decides to track down Charles Xavier, who is now a genetics expert, and asks for his help. At a meeting with top government agents, Charles and Raven out themselves as mutants then help them track a man by the name of Sebastian Shaw, who is attempting to start World War III. It is there that Charles and Erik meet for the first time and decide to work together in order to find other mutants and to stop Shaw.

X-Men: First Class is a great addition to the X-Men franchise. It manages to allude to the other X-Men movies while creating a whole new story and movie experience. I was worried about this movie at first because I kept hearing about how Fox was rushing this movie into production, which is rarely a good thing. However, they hired director Matthew Vaughn (Kick-Ass, Stardust) and it seems as though he managed to pull together a great movie. In this movie we find out how Charles Xavier, aka Professor X, and Erik Lehnsherr, aka Magneto, first meet and become friends. You can’t think of this movie as a prequel to the other X-Men movies because while some parts of the movie play right into those films they also change just as much in order to create a new series of movies. The movie brings back many of our favorite mutants from previous movies and introduces some new ones. It is a great movie and I love how it plays with the history of the Cold War and the Cuban missile crisis.

James McAvoy (The Conspirator, Wanted) plays the role of Charles Xavier. I have always like McAvoy but I have to say, he is excellent in this movie, it might be my favorite role of his thus far. He plays a young Professor X perfectly by being a great leader for the rest of the mutants, teaching them how to master their powers, while also being very intelligent and insightful. Michael Fassbender (Centurion, 300) plays the role of Erik Lehnsherr. I haven’t seen much of his work but he is spectacular in this movie, extremely enjoyable. The scenes where he is training to better control and use his powers are really great stuff. Jennifer Lawrence (Winter’s Bone) plays the role of Raven, a young Mystique. She is relatively new to acting in movie, but she is quickly on her way to being one of the greatest actresses of her generation. She is amazing in this movie and really manages to pull the role off extremely well. Kevin Bacon (Super, Death Sentence) plays the role of Sebastian Shaw. He has been making a bit of a comeback lately and I wholeheartedly support it. He is great as Shaw, truly evil and devious. The movie also features performances by Rose Byrne, Oliver Platt, January Jones, Jason Flemyng, Zoe Kravitz, Nicholas Hoult, Lucas Till and more including some awesome cameos.

X-Men: First Class is an excellent and extremely enjoyable movie. You don’t have to have seen the other films in order to understand it either. I would have to say that this movie is right on par with the first X-Men but isn’t quite as good as X2, in my opinion. I for one can’t wait to see more X-Men movies and stories like this one, which won’t be too far off as they have mentioned that they want this to be the start of a new trilogy.

Great quote: “I have found that true focus lies between anger and serenity.”

Don't forget to listen to Shut Up! The Movie's Starting, the official podcast of Cucu for Movies.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Podcast: Episode 6

Head over to to listen to the latest episode of Shut Up! The Movie's Starting, the official podcast of Cucu for Movies.

In this episode, Michael and Russell discuss X-Men First Class, Wet Hot American Summer, the trailers for Girl With the Dragon Tattoo and Rise of the Planet of the Apes, Starship Troopers (we are 6 for 6 on this movie), Smurfing, Kevin Bacon, Film on the Rocks, the awesomeness that is Michael Ironside and more!!!

Review: Kung Fu Panda 2

Grade: B

Po the Panda, also known as the Dragon Warrior, is happy with his new role in life as a kung fu master. He has been training with the Furious Five, Tigress, Monkey, Mantis, Crane and Viper, in the Valley of Peace since they defeated the evil Tai Lung. However, lately there have been a number of incidents of bandits raiding villages and stealing all the metal they can find. It turns out they all work for Shen, a peacock who was banished from his family and palace when he started using gunpowder for evil doings, who has been devising a plan to reclaim his family home and rule over the city. Po and the Furious five must team up with some new kung fu allies in order to defeat Shen and his powerful weapons that seem to destroy anything and anyone it their path.

Kung Fu Panda is the sequel to the awesome Dreamworks Animation movie, Kung Fu Panda. The original movie was excellent and very well done so I was actually pretty excited for this sequel. This movie is actually a very good continuation of the story from the first movie. This one keeps the action going and is loaded with plenty of jokes. It is very entertaining but it’s not quite as good as the first, close though. One of the things I really liked about the story for this movie was that they finally showed where Po came from and showed his “origin story” if you will. They finally explained how a goose could have a Panda for a son.

It was great to see all those great characters back. Jack Black (Orange County, The Holiday) does the voice of Po the Panda. He is perfect for this role because if Jack Black was an animal, it’d probably be a panda. He does a great job with this voice and you can really tell he gets into this character. Sadly, I felt like everybody else in the movie was hardly there, the movie was mostly Po and Shen with other people chiming in every once in a while with something. Gary Oldman (Harry Potter, The Dark Knight) does the voice of Shen. If anybody could make a peacock sound evil, it’s Gary Oldman. The movie also features the voices of Angelina Jolie, Seth Rogan, Jackie Chan, Lucy Liu, David Cross, Dustin Hoffman, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Danny McBride, Michelle Yeoh, James Hong and more.

Kung Fu Panda 2 is a very well made sequel and is definitely worth watching if you are a fan of the first one. It really manages to hold up to the first movie. I am, however, worried about the rumor I heard that Dreamworks wants to make five more. I do have to say, the 3D is not worth it, just go see the 2D version, save some money.