Monday, December 28, 2009


Release Date: December 18th, 2009

Click Here for the Avatar Trailer.

In the year 2154, after the people of earth have wasted nearly all of their natural resources, new means of energy must be found. Deep in the world of Pandora, a new mineral, unobtanium, that sells for $20 million a kilo is found and is immediately sought out by the RDA mining company headed by Parker Selfridge(Giovanni Ribisi). The only problem is that the native race of Pandora, the Na'Vi, has their village built upon the richest deposit of the mineral on the planet and they don't plan on going anywhere. Diplomacy seems lost until a young marine named Jake Sully(Sam Worthington) is entered into the Avatar program in place of his dead twin brother Tom. An Avatar is a cross breed between human DNA and Na'Vi DNA and can be controlled by the consciousness of the human.

Sam is considered an inadequate replacement for his brother by Dr. Grace Augustine(Sigourney Weaver), a biologist and head of the Avatar program, who reassigns Jake as a body guard while her and Norm Spellman(Joel David Moore), another scientist, take scientific samples of Pandora in their Avatar forms. On their first outing Jake gets separated from the group and is rescued by Neytiri(Zoe Saldana), princess of the Omaticaya clan of Na'Vi and the same clan whose home rests on the desired deposit of unobtanium. Neytiri decides to take Jake back to her village where he is spared by Eytucan(Wes Studi), chieftain of the Omaticaya and father of Neytiri. Neytiri's mother Mo'at(C.C.H. Pounder), who is also the tribes spiritual leader, tells Neytiri that she must train Jake in the ways of the Na'Vi so that he may try and understand their way of life.

When Jake awakens from his Avatar body, his commanding officer Colonel Miles Quaritch(Stephen Lang) tells him that he needs to gain the trust of the Na'Vi so he can get them to move from their home so the RDA can mine the unobtanium. But as Jake learns from Neytiri more and more, he slowly begins to realize that the Na'Vi are not the savages that he has been led to believe. But when Jake's deadline to get the Na'Vi out arrives, he must choose whether he sides with the humans or the Na'Vi in the battle that is undoubtedly going to happen.

Brewing in the mind of James Cameron for over 10 years, Avatar has finally made its way onto film. Cameron has stated on numerous accounts that the reason for the delay in the film is that he did not believe the technology was ready for his envisioning of the film. After seeing this film, I can tell you first hand that the technology is definitely up to par now.

If you come to see Avatar expecting to solely see an all out action movie, you will be disappointed. If you come seeking a straight up drama, you will be disappointed. If you come thinking you are going to solely see a sci-fi epic reminiscent of Star Wars or Star Trek you will be disappointed. However, should you come into Avatar expecting to see a film with portions of each of these film types blended into one beautifully drawn out film then you will find what you are looking for.

Avatar has got to be the most visually stunning movie I have ever seen. Using motion capture technology, Cameron was able to film each individual actor acting out exactly what you see their animated character do on screen. Because of this technology, it is almost impossible to tell that the creatures you are seeing on screen are not, in fact, real living beings. Never have I seen such a beautiful piece of cinema as I did in Avatar. The rich and luscious world of Pandora was brought to live with incredible creatures and magnificent colors that were so beautiful it made you want to live there.

what stunned me the most was the enormous amount of creativity it took for Cameron to create this film. Cameron created an entire race of people, an entire language, hierarchy, planet, ecosystem and creatures among other things all with their own individuality and unique characteristics. I was blown away by the amount of detail Cameron implemented into his film. Every little detail, every little nuance was added to this film which is one of the reasons, I believe, makes it so entertaining.

Cameron also added an all-star cast to finish out his masterpiece with top name actors and actresses like Sigourney Weaver, Giovanni Ribisi. Stephen Lang, Zoe Saldana and Sam Worthington. This marks Weaver's first major film release in a while and she came back with a bang as Dr. grace Augustine. I thought she did a really good job as the scientist used to having things done her way. I was really impressed on how her character interacted with the Na'Vi and thought that Weaver did an excellent job of bridging the gap between the no-nonsense scientist she appeared to be in the beginning and the caring, Na'Vi sympathizer she came out to be deeper in the film. Sam Worthington, who made a name for himself in the recent Terminator: Salvation did an incredible job with his character as well. His chemistry between co-star Zoe Saldana(Star Trek) was very believable and I thought the two of them worked really well together on screen. It made for a very nice transition when they went from Saldana'a character hating Worthington's at first to the two of them eventually falling in love.

Overall, Avatar is a stunning piece of cinematic beauty. No other movie compares to the rich beauty and life that Cameron created on Pandora and no other film has made animated characters feel more alive than the ones in Avatar seemed. If you have the opportunity to see it in 3D or Imax Digital 3D then I strongly recommend it. It will blow you away seeing the beautiful world created by Cameron actually close enough to touch.

I give Avatar 10 Nine foot tall human/alien hybrids out of 10.

Monday, December 7, 2009

The Blind Side

Release Date: November 20th, 2009

Click here for The Blind Side Trailer.

Michael Oher(Quinton Aaron) is a homeless 18-year-old from a broken home, struggling to find a place to sleep every night. While living with his friend, Michael is taken to the private school Wingate Christian where he receives a scholarship so he can play sports. Michael is severely unprepared for the high class learning at Wingate and struggles to fit in and pass classes. All the teachers believe Michael to just be a big dumb kid except for his Biology teacher Mrs. Boswell(Kim Dickens). Mrs. Boswell decides to give Michael a verbal exam and realizes that his problem is that he has a very low reading level but that he pays attention in class and absorbs the information he is given.

While leaving a volleyball game for their daughter Collins(Lily Collins), Leigh Anne Tuohy(Sandra Bullock) and her husband Sean Tuohy(Tim McGraw) see Michael walking along the street towards the gym. They stop to ask him if he has a place to stay and when he says no, the Tuohy's invite him to stay in their house. When the Tuohy's awake in the morning, Leigh Anne finds Michael walking down the driveway. Leigh Anne tells Michael that he can stay with the Tuohy's as long as possible. Leigh Anne decides to take Michael to where he thought his mom lived so they could pick up some of his clothes. When they arrive at an apartment on the opposite side of town, Michael sees that his mom was evicted and that he doesn't know where she is now.

Leigh Anne decides to take Michael to a big and tall store to get him some new clothes where Michael picks out an assortment of striped rugby shirts. At the Tuohy's home, Michael begins to form a close friendship with the Tuohy's son S.J.(Jae Head). As Michael begins to live with the Tuohy's, they encourage Michael to go out for football, but before he can do that he has to get his grades up. With the Tuohy's help, Michael is able to get his grades up enough to play football. When try outs begin, Michael does poorly because he had never played before. Leigh Anne is called into school one day after Mr. Tuohy signed off as Michale's medical contact. While at the school, Leigh Anne learns that Michael tested low on his skills test in all categories except protective instincts, in which he got a 98%.

Learning this, Leigh Anne decides to go to football practice to see how Michael is doing. While there she sees Michael struggling and his coach, Coach Cotton(Ray McKinnon), not being supportive. Leigh Anne decides to interrupt practice and fix Michael's problem. she tells him to protect the quarterback like he protected her when they went to the other side of town to find his mother and to protect the running back like he protects S.J. Understanding this concept, Michael does a complete turn around and begins playing like he had been for doing it for years. Coach tells Michael that he is going to have to work hard so he begins training with S.J. non-stop to get into it.

At the first game, Michael starts to play like he did at the beginning of the season because the team runs pass plays and he gets confused. In the stands the Tuohy's watch as Michael gets beat by the opposing teams star linebacker whose father is in the stands making crude comments towards Michael. Michael finally realizes what he has to do and orders the play to run to his side. When it does, Michael hits the linebacker and drives him all the way down field and pushes him over the end field fence as Leigh Anne Tuohy comments that Michael is her son. The rest of the game, Michael dominates and the team goes on to win. S.J., who was filming the game, posts a video of Michael driving the other player down field on the internet and it reaches the offices of some of the best NCAA football programs in the country.

Before long, coaches and scouts from the country's top football programs are coming to Wingate Christian to watch Michael practice. But before Michael can even look at going to play in college, he has to pick up his grades, something he has struggled with all year. To help with his grades, The Tuohy's hire Miss Sue(Kathy Bates), a tutor, who helps Michael study and improve his grades. While trying to become eligible for college football, all of Michael's teachers agree to give him oral exams except for his English professor who tells Leigh Anne that the only way he will pass is by doing well on the written paper due at the end of the year. Michael struggles on what to write about, but with help from Mr. Tuohy Michael was able to find a topic and pass his class.

When Michael is trying to decide on a college to attend he picks Ole Miss, which happened to be the alma mater of both Leigh Anne and Sean Tuohy and even Miss Sue. After making his decision, Michael is brought under investigation by the NCAA, who think that the Tuohy's only brought Michael into their family and helped him in school and football so they could convince him to go to Ole Miss. Michael convinces the NCAA that the reason he wanted to go to Ole Miss is because that is where his family, the Tuohy's, went and that he wanted to be more like the family. Michael went on to play four years at Ole Miss and became the number one draft pick for the Baltimore Ravens in the 2009 NFL draft.

Based on the true story of Michael Oher, The Blind Side delivers a powerfully dramatic story and shows that it is one of the best films of the year. True stories always seem to do well in theaters. While people love to watch huge blockbusters, tons of action, major laughs etc... that is typically involved with our movies nowadays, it seems what they like even more are stories about real life. Such is the case with The Blind Side.

The movie is based primarily on the book The Blind Side: Evolution of a Game by Michael Lewis which documents Oher's rough upbringing all the way through his football career. The movie is being haled as one of the best ones of the year and I can see why. Newcomer Quinton Aaron gave a powerful performance and Sandra Bullock gave one of her best performances of her career.

This film is one of those that finds a nice balance between genres. While primarily a drama about hard times and different walks of life, the film does incorporate other genres, like comedy, into the film. I like that it didn't focus solely on drama. I think it ruins movies if you have a dram overload, like the recent movie Precious. Precious was all drama while The Blind Side was dramatic, funny, heart warming, enjoyable and just all around good. Sandra Bullock was spectacular as Leigh Anne Tuohy. It seemed that Bullock got back to her roots of acting and gave her all for this film, and it payed off. Bullock seemed to really be comfortable in the role and really made the character her own. Quinton Aaron also did an excellent job as the young Michale Oher. The 6'10" actor seemed really comfortable on screen and appeared that he could handle a role like this. I would bet we will see more of Aaron in the future as he continues his career.

As for the story, its hard to critique being as it is a true story and didn't come from somebody's imagination. What I can critique is how it was portrayed and directed however. Coming from director John Lee Hancock who did such films as The Rookie(2002) and The Alamo(2004), this movie was shot really well. The direction of the film was good and it did a good job of showing contrast between the suburban well off lifestyle of the Tuohy family and the run down, hard way of life seen in the ghettos of the film.

Overall I was very pleased with this film. It wasn't on my "must see" list and, to be honest, the only reason I saw it was because I was invited to go by a group of friends. But I can honestly say that I am very happy I went to see it because it truly was a heart warming experience. I have yet to shed a tear over entertainment. Be it on tv or in dramatic movies, nothing really makes me choke up and cry. While a movie may be touching, sad, dramatic, heart warming etc... nothing ever works on me like that. But The Blindside almost, key word being almost, made me shed a tear, which says something about how this movie is. I will say that this movie really is one of the best movies of the year and definitely one you will not want to miss.

I give The Blind Side 9 Blind Sides out of 10

Monday, November 30, 2009


Release Date: November 13th, 2009

Click here for the 2012 Trailer.

In the year 2009, Adrian Helmsley(Chiwetel Ejiofor), an American geologist, and his friend Dr. Satnam Tsurutani(Jimi Mistry) meet in India where Satnam has discovered that neutrinos from a massive solar flare are "cooking" the Earth's core causing the temperature in the core to rise at a rapid pace. Helmsley immediately goes to Washington to inform Chief of staff Carl Anheuser(Oliver Platt) and US President Thomas Wilson(Danny Glover) that these solar flares will begin a catastrophic chain of natural disasters. In 2010 at the G8 summit, President Wilson informs other world leaders about the foretold events and the leaders begin work on constructing giant arks in the Himalayas to ensure the survival of 400,000 pre-chosen people.

Jackson Curtis(John Cusack) is a struggling writer who lives in L.A. and works part time as a limo driver for Yuri Karpov(Zlatko Buric), a wealthy Russian businessman. Jackson decides to take his kids, Noah and Lily, on a camping trip to Yellowstone National Park. When they arrive at the park, they discover a government fence with a "No Trespassing" sign on it. Jackson decides to hop the fence anyways and travel to a nearby lake. When the three of them arrive, they find out that the lake is gone. As soon as they enter the empty lake, government officials lead by Helmsley arrive and apprehend Jackson and his children. Jackson inquires about the lake to Helmsley who reveals that they are trying to figure that out as well. Helmsley recognizes Jackson from a book he wrote and lets him and his children go.

While at their campsite that night, Jackson is approached by Charlie Frost(Woody Harrelson), a conspiracy theorist living as a hermit in the park and broadcasting a conspiracy theory radio show from his Winnebago. Charlie tells Jackson of the impending destruction of the planet and about a secret "space ship" project the government is running and that he has a map to their location. Back in L.A. massive cracks form along the San Andreas Fault, one of which almost kills Jackson's ex-wife Kate(Amanda Peet) and her plastic surgeon boyfriend Gordon(Thomas McCarthy). Jackson returns his children home and then rushes to pick up Yuri's two boys who tell Jackson that they are going to take a ride on a special ship and that they will live but he will die. Upon hearing this, Jackson rents a plane for him and his family and rushes back to L.A. to get them.

As soon as Jackson arrives earthquakes begin to occur and whole sections of the ground begin to cave in. Jackson races across the crumbling streets of the city and arrives at the airport, narrowly escaping death more than once. The group arrives to find the pilot dead but Kate reveals that Gordon is a pilot and the group takes off and heads to Yellowstone to retrieve Charlie's map. Jackson finds Charlie who is atop a mountain, preparing to broadcast the eruption of the Yellowstone Caldera. Jackson takes Charlie's Winnebago and drives back to the plane as the Caldera erupts. As the Winnebago falls into a crater on the runway, Gordon takes off, believing Jackson to be dead. Before the plane can leave, Jackson emerges from the crater with the map and makes it onto the plane and the group heads to Las Vegas. Jackson discovers that the ships being built are in China. While in Las Vegas, Jackson runs into Yuri, his two boys, his girlfriend Tamara(Beatrice Rosen) and his pilot Sasha(Johann Urb). Sasha finds an Russian Antonov An-225 but needs a co-pilot to fly it. Jackson volunteers a reluctant Gordon and the 10 of them board the plane and take off as Las Vegas is destroyed in a giant dust cloud.

The group heads to China in search of the ships. Also en route to China via Air Force One is Anheuser, Helmsley, and the First Daughter Laura Wilson(Thandie Newton). President Wilson elected to stay behind at the White House to give the remaining American people comfort in their last moments. While helping with the wounded outside of the White House, President Wilson is killed by a giant tsunami that hurls the USS John F. Kennedy into the White House. With the death of the president and vice president and the disappearance of the Speaker of the House, Anheuser appoints himself as acting President. Arriving over China Sasha is forced to make a crash landing that costs him his life as the others escape in on of Yuri's luxury cars. The group flags down a Chinese helicopter which transports Yuri and his boys to the ships, being as they are the only ones with passes, leaving Jackson and the others stranded. Kate is able to flag down Nima(Osric Chau), a Buddhist monk, and his grandparents who are driving to meet Nima's brother Tenzin(Chin Han). Tenzin was the lead welder on the building project and he reluctantly agrees to sneak Jackson and the others into the ark via a hydraulic chamber.

While waiting to board everybody, Helmsley receives a call from his friend Satnam, whose promised airlift failed to arrive. Satnam reveals to Helmsley that an uncharted tsunami is about to engulf India and is headed to the location of the ships, cutting the impact time down to only 28 minuets. Anheuser orders the sealing of the ships, potentially trapping hundreds of thousands of people outside. Helmsley then takes command and convinces the G8 leaders to open the doors and let the people in. Yuri, who was trying to sneak under the gate, sees that it is being lowered and is trapped until the gate begins to raise. As he hurls his two sons onto the ship, Yuri falls to his death. While in the hydraulic area, Tenzin drops a large drill which becomes wedged in the gears, not allowing the door to close completely or the engines to start. As the group tries to escape the chamber, Gordon and Tenzin fall towards the gears. Tenzin is saved with an injured leg while Gordon is pulled in and killed. As the ship begins to fill with water, emergency fail safe doors begin to close, separating Lily, Tamara and the others. Lily is found by Helmsley who tries to contact Jackson as Tamara's atch fills wth water and she drowns.

Jackson, with help from his son Noah, is able to pry the drill loose allowing the doors to close and the engines to start up. The tsunami hits the ship sending it adrift and headed straight for the summit of Mount Everest. The engines are turned on just in time to prevent the fatal collision. After the flooding stops, satellite data reveals that instead of being flooded, Africa rose with the waters and the highest point on Earth is now the Drakensberg mountains in KwaZulu Natal and the three ships set sail for the Cape of Good Hope with the date residing as December 27th, 0001.

Another disaster movie from director Roland Emmerich, 2012 is loosely based off of the Mayan prediction of the end of the world. Emmerich is known for his disaster movies which include such blockbuster titles as Independence Day and The Day After Tomorrow and 2012 is right up there with those two. Emmerich didn't short himself on celebrities to tag onto his movie grabbing big name stars like John Cusack, Amanda Peet, Thandie Newton, Oliver Platt, Woody Harrelson and Danny Glover.

Seeing this movie it is no surprise why it opened number one at the box office with an estimated $65 million on its first weekend in the US and $225 million worldwide. This movie is by all definitions a disaster movie. It focuses on huge earthquakes, exploding volcanoes, massive tsunamis and floods and the destruction of an entire planet which are all ingredients in a recipe for an edge-of-your-seat experience. Despite what the other critics say, I actually enjoyed this movie. I found it to be an exciting thriller that deals with some predictions that a lot of people actually believe in. While the movie didn't follow scientific realities to a T, we have to remember that its a movie, its fiction and its main purpose is for entertainment value. And this movie definitely entertains.

Going with a movie such as 2012, you know that a lot of its success is going to fall on how well you use CGI effects. Obviously you can not really destroy the world for a move, but you can make it look that way. Some movies, even recently, have had some very poor special effects. There is nothing more disappointing than watching a movie with tons of special effects and being drawn away from the experience due to poor visuals. If a movie delivers with the visuals it allows you to fully engross yourself in it, taking you out of reality for a while. That is what 2012 did for me with its visuals. The whole time I was glued to the screen, unable to take my eyes away.

I thought all the actors did well. Cusack performed in his first leading role since he did 1408 in 2007 and came out strong. I am a big fan of Oliver Platt and thought he did an excellent job in his role as well. Chiwetel Ejiofor had a moving performance and Danny Glover was also pretty powerful in his role also. Some of the supporting characters did better than others though. Zlatko Buric and Thomas McCarthy, I thought, did fantastic jobs in their supporting roles of Yuri and Gordon respectively. The small cameo by Woody Harrelson was entertaining. Harrelson is usually a funny actor and his small measure of comic relief was a nice touch in the otherwise intense movie.

Overall, I have an opposite opinion then most critics. I think 2012 was a great movie all around. The visuals were stunning, the action was intense and the story was unnerving enough to keep you hooked. Add that to the great cast and their performances and you have an all around good film. If you are a fan of Emmerich's The Day After Tomorrow then you will definitely find something to like in this film.

I give 2012 9 Giant Arks out of 10

Monday, November 23, 2009

Pirate Radio

Pirate RadioRelease Date: November 13th, 2009

Click here for the Pirate Radio Trailer.

Carl(Tom Sturridge) is a hopeful youth who arrives on the pirate radio ship Radio Rock after his mother sends him there to stay with his godfather and owner of the rock station Quentin(Bill Nighy). Carl has been sent to the ship after being expelled from school in the hopes that the change of life will put him on a straighter path in life. However, Carl quickly realizes, with the help of the Radio Rock crew that the boat is probably the worst place for him to get set right.

On the boat, Carl meets the ramshackle crew of Radio Rock led by The Count(Phillip Seymour Hoffman), a boisterous DJ from America who lives and breathes rock and roll. Along with The Count is all around suave Dr. Dave(Kevin Frost) and the lovable but naive Breakfast DJ Simon(Chris O'Dowd). There is also crazy Angus "The Knut" Knutsford(Rhys Darby), mysterious ladies man Midnight Mark(Tom Wisdom) and the reclusive and drug induced late-night DJ Smooth Bob(Ralph Brown). On board with the DJs is the ships only female resident, the shy and lesbian cook Felicity(Katherine Parkinson) and radio assistants news reader John(Will Adamsdale), Harold(Ike Hamilton) and "Thick Kevin"(Tom Broke) who is also Carl's roommate.

As soon as Carl arrives on the ship, the quest for a straight and narrow path is thrown out the window when Dave attempts to give Carl his "first time" with a woman. However, Dave's plan fails miserably. The shenanigans continues when The Count attempts to be the first DJ ever to say the "F" word on the radio. As he is about to say it, Quentin interrupts and tells him he can't say it. As the two argue over saying it, while saying it multiple times in the argument, The Count "accidentally" leaves the microphone on allowing the listeners to not only hear it, but hear it no less than 6 times.

Word of the pirate radio ship soon reaches the ears of Minister Dormandy(Kenneth Branagh) who despises the group claiming that they are an abomination. Dormandy is immediately tasked by the Prime Minister(Stephen Moore) to disband Radio Rock. Dormandy enlists the help of civil servant Twatt(Jack Davenport) to find a way to cancel the ships radio station permanently. Twatt's first attempt to shut the station down consisted of making it illegal to buy advertising space on the station, essentially depriving the ship of funds. The plan failed and Twatt was forced to find a new method.

In the meantime, Carl's misadventures on the ship continue. His attempts at love fail again when Quentin brings his niece, Marianne(Talulah Riley) on board. As Carl is scouring the ship for a condom, Dr. Dave swoops in and beds Marianne before Carl gets back. In an attempt to bring more funds to the ship, Quentin hires famed DJ and noted "king of the airwaves" Gavin(Rhys Ifans) who comes out of retirement to help the ship. Gavin immediately causes competition between himself and The Count. However, Gavin's trouble doesn't stop there. Simon decides that he wants to marry his girlfriend Elenore(January Jones) who literally seems to good to be true. The day after their wedding, Elenore reveals to Simon that the only reason she married him was because she really loved Gavin and, since Gavin didn't believe in marriage, she had to marry Simon to be on the boat with him. Simon immediately divorces Elenore and The Count calls out Gavin to a game of chicken saying he isn't a man. The two climb up to the top of the ships mast and then both jump off into the waters below. After sustaining serious injury, the two call a truce.

As the months roll by, Carl continues to be a part of the crew, thinking he is still there to get set straight until Kevin, in an unusual moment of insightful thinking, determines that the only reason Carl is really on the boat is to find out who his real father is, considering the two have never met. Kevin and Carl immediately believe it to be Quentin. When Carl's mother Charlotte(Emma Thompson) arrives on the boat for Christmas, Carl asks her if Quentin is his father only for her to deny it. As Carl's mother prepares to leave, Carl gives her a message from Smooth Bob that said "Muddy Water rocks". This message leads to Carl discovering that Smooth Bob is his real father.

Still unable to shut the ship down, Twatt stumbles upon a newspaper article stating that a fishing boats distress signal was unable to be picked up due to the powerful radio waves from the Radio Rock ship. Twatt sees this as an opportunity ban pirate radio for good and he proposes the creation of the Marine Offenses Act which passes through Parliament unopposed. However, Radio Rock refuses to shut down and continues broadcasting. Infuriated, Dormandy and Twatt send out a fleet of boats into the North Sea to board and arrest every member of the ship but when they arrive at the location of the boat, all they find is a fishing vessel. The pirate radio ship has fired up its old engines and set sail however the strain of moving was too much for the engines to take and they backfire creating a hole in the boat and the boat begins to sink.

The DJs and crew make their way to the upper deck as The Count agrees to continue broadcasting until physically unable to do so. He reveals their position in the hopes that somebody will come to help them, even Twatt and his police. However, Dormandy refuses to allow Twatt to send any boats out and orders them to let the boat sink. But, despite Dormandy's refusal to help, hundreds of boats captained by dire fans of the station arrive in time to save the DJs and crew before the boat sinks, with The Count emerging from the depths at the last second.

If you are a fan of British comedy or a fan of early British rock and roll, then Pirate Radio is your kind of movie. Being a fan of the aforementioned, I thought this movie looked pretty good when I saw the first trailers for it. First off, the film had an amazing cast with such stars as Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Rhys Ifans, Kenneth Branagh and Bill Nighy and some excellent supporting players like Rhys Darby and Nick Frost. Newcomer Tom Sturridge impressed me a great deal portraying Carl. I like Sturridge's performance. He really made a character you can connect with as an audience and he also added a sense of sanity amongst the insane crew and DJs on the boat.

The film itself, being set in the comedy genre, provided many genuine laughs with some outright laughable humor mixed with a nice blend of subtle humor as well. This movie was originally made as a British ensemble comedy film released in the United Kingdom as The Boat That Rocked so the humor in it has a different spin on it than we are used to in America. British humor varies ever so slightly from American humor and the British humor in this film may be refreshing to many audiences. All of the actors added their own spice to the film. Hoffman did an excellent job but he wasn't alone as all the actors were funny and enjoyable, even the villain performances in Branagh and Davenport were funny, especially with the pun on Davenport's character name of "Twatt".

If soundtracks and music is what gets you in movies, then you are going to love Pirate Radio. For me, the music in a film is an essential part in setting the tone and mood in a film. This film has one of the coolest soundtracks incorporating classic rock from the 60's with such amazing artists as The Beatles, The Rolling Stones and The Who among many many others. The music puts you in this rebellious mood making you want to jump on the ship and defy those twats in Parliament yourself.

Overall I really enjoyed this film. While it isn't a stand out movie that can be tossed up there with some of the other blockbusters coming out like 2012 and New Moon, it is still one you should see. A film to see in theaters if you truly love this style and genre and definitely one to rent if you are in the mood for a good comedy. That's why I give Pirate Radio 7 renegade radio rock boats out of 10.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Disney's A Christmas Carol

Release Date: November 6th, 2009

Click here for the Disney's A Christmas Carol Trailer.

In Victorian England on Christmas Eve, curmudgeonly old Ebenezer Scrooge(Jim Carrey) stands over the body of his oldest friend and business partner Jacob Marely. Seven Christmas Eves later, old, bitter Scrooge resents Christmas and everything it stands for and even refuses to do anything pleasant, like visit his cheerful nephew Fred(Colin Firth) for Christmas dinner. Scrooge's hatred for Christmas is so fierce that he even forces his already underpaid employee Bob Cratchit(Gary Oldman) to beg for Christmas day off to spend with his family. While sulking in his mansion on Christmas Eve, Scrooge is visited by the ghost of his old partner Jacob Marely. Marely is covered in heavy chains forged by his greed in life. Marely warns Scrooge that his chains would be much longer and heavier unless he changes his ways in life. Marely informs Scrooge that he will be visited by three spirits that will guide him to a better life.

That same night, the Ghost of Christmas Past(also Jim Carrey) arrives and transports Scrooge back to a time when he was just a boy. Back at the boarding school where he spent most of his childhood, Scrooge looks upon a very young version of himself, alone at Christmas time. Unable to see the site of his own sadness, the spirit shows him another Christmas, many years in the future. Scrooge is still in boarding school, alone on Christmas until his little sister Fannie comes with a coach to bring him home for Christmas. Jumping forward again, Scrooge is in his money lending store hunched over stacks of coin while his fiance Belle(Robin Wright Penn) tries to tell him that his own greed and pursuit of wealth is driving them apart. When scrooge refuses to listen, Belle leaves him alone to his money. Scrooge becomes unable to bear the images any longer and extinguishes the spirit, ending up back in his bedroom.

The next spirit to visit Scrooge is the Ghost of Christmas Present(also Jim Carrey) who begins to show Scrooge the joy and happiness of his fellow man on Christmas. First the spirit takes Scrooge outside his nephew Fred's home. Scrooge sees Fred and his fellow guests laughing and making jokes at Scrooge's expense and then Fred making a toast to Scrooge's good health, though he doesn't deserve it. The spirit also takes Scrooge to the home of his abused employee Bob Cratchit. Scrooge witnesses Cratchit's joy and happiness despite the poor conditions in which his family lives. Scrooge also witnesses Cratchit carrying in his son, Tiny Tim, on his shoulders who is crippled. Despite his ailment, Tim is committed to the spirit of Christmas which touches Scrooge's heart. Scrooge is dismayed when the spirit tells him that Tiny Tim may not live much longer. Before the spirit leaves Scrooge, he warns him of the evils of ignorance and want, which take the form of monstrous, uncivilized children who are destined to grow into savage, despicable individuals.

As the second spirit vanished, the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come(also Jim Carrey) shows Scrooge the final consequences of his greed. Scrooge becomes terrified of the Spirit and attempts to flee as the spirit chases him in a ghostly coach. The spirit captures Scrooge and takes him to the Cratchit's house, where an empty seat is in the corner with Tiny Tim's crutch leaned against it. The Cratchit family is seen mourning over the loss of Tim. The Spirit also reveals to Scrooge that he dies, though more joy has come from his death than grief. Fred and his wife benefit from the wealth left behind while Scrooge's old maid robs him. The Spirit then takes Scrooge to his own grave, where the marker reads that Scrooge died on Christmas day. Scrooge begs for a second chance to fix his wrong doings as the Spirit opens up the ground revealing Scrooge's empty coffin. The Spirit forces Scrooge down into the hole towards his coffin and as he hits he awakens in his bedroom on Christmas morning.

The three spirits have guided Scrooge over the course of a single night and have also allowed scrooge to atone for his wrong doings which he sets out to do immediately. He yells for a boy passing by his house to go to the market an buy the prize turkey which he gives to Bob Cratchit and his family. He also makes generous donations to the poor, sings with street carolers and even gives Bob Cratchit a hefty raise to support his family allowing Tiny Tim to live. On top of all this, Scrooge also attends the Christmas dinner party of his nephew Fred. Scrooge then spends the rest of his life a new man, embodying the true spirit of Christmas.

A brand new envisioning of the timeless tale from Charles Dickens, Disney's A Christmas Carol looks to bring a new life to the story that has captivated the spirit of Christmas since 1843. Shot in Disney Digital 3D, this film uses cutting edge technology to deliver a truly unique cinematic experience. The film stars Jim Carrey as multiple characters including the main character Ebenezer Scrooge. Not only did Carrey lend his voice talents to the role, but he also lent his physical performance as well. The animators of this film used special motion capture suits to allow each actor to physically portray the actions the character performs in the film. This makes the film so much more than just a typical cartoon. It allows the characters to have all the physical characteristics of the actors like movements, voice, mannerisms and facial expressions as well as all the exaggerated freedoms of an animated film.

It seems that 3D is the newest craze in animation as every single animated film that Disney has released recently has been in 3D. Disney has even go as far as recreating the classic Toy Story 1 & 2 films in 3D as well. While the 3D aspect does add an extra quality to the movie, I feel that Disney is overusing it by making every single animated film in 3D which makes 3D lose its uniqueness. But nevertheless, the movie does have some outstanding qualities about it that make it a joy to watch.

Jim Carrey adds his eccentric and all out craziness to the old miserly Scrooge which makes for a different take on everybody's favorite miser. I was really impressed with Carrey's use of accents in the film. Carrey portrayed four different characters: all three spirits as well as Scrooge and his earlier incarnations. Scrooge himself had an elderly yet bitter old English accent and each Spirit had their unique voice and accent. Carrey, known for his high energy performances, is not known for doing many accents, however he performed them extremely well in this film. I absolutely loved Carrey's representation of Scrooge. I think he embodied the spirit of who Scrooge was perfectly. The other supporting characters in the film were also fantastic. Gary Oldman, portraying the humble and lovable Bob Cratchit was fantastic. Oldman's performance made audiences truly fall in love with him and also made audiences feel for him and his family.

Visually, the movie really took it to the next level. The motion capture was done very well and all the characters looked astonishingly realistic to their actual actors and actresses. The film also had amazing colors that set the perfect mood for each situation. You felt very bitter and cold around scrooge and you also felt happy and warm around characters like Bob and Fred. There were bright flashes of colorful sparks when the ghosts would guide Scrooge that would be great to see in 3D and the 3D aspects are sure to please any 3D fan.

One surprising feature of this film was that, at times, it was surprisingly scary. Well, more startling for older audiences but enough to be scary for a younger audience member, one that will most likely be the majority seeing this film. One scene that comes to mind his when Scrooge is visited by the ghost of Marely. This scene as well as the scenes with the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come, may frighten some younger viewers, thought the ones in my theater seemed to find the scenes hilarious.

Overall this film is an incredible visual experience that is sure to please members of the whole family. It holds true to the book for the majority, with some added features from director Robert Zemeckis, though they do not deter you away from enjoying this re-envisioning of one of the most beloved Christmas stories of all time. Spectacular visuals coupled with incredible performances from Jim Carrey and Gary Oldman make this movie one that will put you in the Christmas spirit and one that you don't wanna miss.

I give Disney's A Christmas Carol 7 Curmudgeonly Money Lenders out of 10

Monday, October 19, 2009

Law Abiding Citizen

Law Abiding CitizenRelease Date: October 16th, 2009

Click here for the Law Abiding Citizen Trailer.

When two men break into his house, kill his little girl, and rape and murder his wife, Clyde Shelton(Gerard Butler) is positive that the justice system will put both men behind bars and essentially on death row. However, when the police botch the forensics on the case, suddenly the evidence isn't conclusive. Clyde pleads with his attorney Nick Ross(Jamie Foxx) who has a 96% conviction rate to make things right but instead, Rice makes a deal with one of the criminals, Clarence Darby, who actually was responsible for the rape and murder. Darby agrees to testify against his partner who receives the death penalty while Darby gets off in three years.

Ten years later Rupert Ames, Darby's partner, is facing his penalty of death by lethal injection. Before he is injected, Ames states that he did not kill anybody and that the wrong man was dying that day. As Ames is lowered down, the chemicals are systematically injected into his body. Due to changes in the chemicals, Ames dies a horrific and painful death. Police discover that on one of the chemical bottles is etched "You can't escape fate", a phrase Darby said to Clyde when he was in his home and the same thing he said to Ross during his trial. Police find out where Darby lives and move into arrest him.

Darby escapes the police thanks to a mysterious phone call from a stranger who tells Darby to find a cop car with an officer inside that the stranger has incapacitated. Darby is then told to go to an abandoned warehouse. Once there, the police officer reveals himself to be Clyde who, through a clever device in his phony police gun, injects Darby with a toxin which paralyzes his whole body yet still allows him to feel pain. Clyde then straps Darby to a table and begins to slowly dismember him while he videotapes the act. The police find Darby, who had been cut into 25 pieces, in the warehouse which they discover belongs to Clyde. The police immediately go to Clyde's house and find him in his study naked and surrounded by books on engineering and law.

Rice comes to the prison where they are holding Clyde and interrogates him after complimenting him on taking care of Darby. Rice thinks he has a confession from Clyde until Clyde points out that none of what he said was a confession at all, at least not a confession that can be proven in court. While Rice is interrogating Clyde, the DVD of Clyde murdering Darby is sent to Rice's house. Rice's daughter Denise, thinking the DVD is the one of her Cello recital, watches the horrific murder. Clyde does, however, agree to making a real confession under the condition that an expensive, special mattress be put in his cell. After being ordered to do so, Rice agrees to have the mattress put in Clyde's room. When Clyde is in court the following day, he begins to throw multiple, obscure legal precedents at the judge, the same one who oversaw Clyde's case for his family, trying to get his confession and refusal for bail thrown out. As the judge is about to set bail, Clyde goes on a rant about how the judge was about to let him go, just like she did for Darby.

When Rice meets with Clyde the next day, Clyde confesses to killing Darby, even going into the gruesome detail of what tools he used. When Rice begins to leave again, Clyde begins to confess to another murder, the murder of Bill Reynolds, the attorney for Darby in his case.Clyde informs Rice that Reynolds is alive and that he will tell them where he is in exchange for an expensive steak dinner delivered at precisely 1:00 pm along with his iPod so he can listen to music. Despite his demand, the Warden of the prison intentionally lingers, giving Clyde his dinner at 1:08 pm. Clyde gives Rice a set of longitudes and latitudes and after a 15 minuet helicopter ride Rice lands in a field with Reynolds' briefcase. Rice and Detective Dunnigan(Colm Meaney) begin to dig finding a steel case with Reynolds inside, dead. Reynolds was hooked up to oxygen tanks which expired at precisely 1:15 pm. Reynolds would have survived had the warden been on time. While everybody is gone looking for Reynolds, Clyde takes the t-bone from his steak and stabs his cell mate in the neck multiple times, killing him, and placing Clyde in solitary confinement.

Rice, along with District Attorney Cantrell(Bruce McGill), meet a CIA operative who informs the two men that Clyde is a "brain" with the CIA. Clyde creates complex tools and gadgets and figures out ways of killing high profile and untouchable targets without even being near them. The operative tells Rice and Cantrell that if Clyde wants them dead then they are already dead and the only way to stop him is to walk into his cell right now and put a bullet in his head. When Rice confronts Clyde again, he tells him that this isn't about revenge, but that it is about the failure of the justice system and Rice's personal failure at keeping his word. While still behind bars, Clyde manages to keep killing people associated with his family's trial, including the judge who Clyde killed with her own cell phone. Clyde tells Rice that if he isn't set free with all charges dropped by 6:00 am then he is going to kill everybody in the DA's office.

All of the office workers congregate at the prison, intensely awaiting for 6:00 am to come. When the time comes and goes, everybody begins to leave thinking it was all a hoax. While in the parking lot, multiple car bombs explode killing most of the DA office workers, including Rice's assistant Sarah Lowell(Leslie Bibb). Puzzled about how Clyde is still committing murders from behind bars, Rice suggests that Clyde has an accomplice. While leaving the funeral of Sarah and the other staff members, a remote army drone armed with anti-tank weaponry opens fire on the SUV carrying DA Cantrell. Shot multiple times and bleeding, Cantrell is still alive until the drone fires a rocket at the car, blowing it up and killing Cantrell.

After the funeral and the attack on DA Cantrell, Rice receives an e-mail from a friend of Sarah. The e-mail reveals the location of a piece of property Clyde owns which is right next to the prison where he is being held. Rice and Dunnigan investigate the building and find that there is a tunnel system dug under the prison to each of the solitary confinement cells, including the one Clyde is in, revealing that the murder of his cell mate was not random at all and that Clyde wanted to be in solitary. Rice discovers that Clyde didn't have an accomplice at all, but that he could leave the prison anytime he wanted to. Rice and Dunnigan discover that Clyde, dressed as a janitor, has placed a bomb under city hall and plans on blowing up the mayor and senior officers of the police force.

After planting the bomb, Clyde returns to his cell fining Rice waiting for him. Clyde offers Rice one final deal, which he refuses. Clyde congratulates him telling him that was one of the main points of his actions. Rice calmly tells Shelton that if he detonates the bomb that he will have to live with the consequences. After considering it for a while, Clyde decides to detonate the bomb at which point Rice runs out and locks Clyde's cell door while Dunnigan blocks his escape route. Shelton then realizes that the bomb is under his bed and he is engulfed in flames as he looks at a bracelet his daughter made for him the night she was killed.

Psychological thrillers can be hard to do, especially if the bad guy and his ways are not creative or unique. To make a truly good psychological thriller, you have to keep the audience guessing the entire move and that is exactly what Law Abiding Citizen did. How do you catch a murderer when he is already in jail?

Gerard Butler brings out one of his best performances since 300 playing the distraught father and husband who has been cheated by the system of justice. Butler does what any father would do if his family was destroyed and the man who did it went free, he seeks revenge. The best part about this movie was the fact that Butler was killing the people essentially responsible for letting the man who killed his daughter go free from inside his prison cell. And the way he killed them was also very entertaining. Everything from changing the chemicals in a lethal injection machine to bullets in cell phones is what truly made this psychological thriller stand out from the rest.

Butler gave a very powerful performance and I really loved how he transitioned from loving father and husband to intense and psycho-killer. I also liked the way he played his role. He was so much smarter than everybody and it seemed like he didn't care about what he was doing. The scene where he captures and tortures Darby was truly intense and chilling. I also liked how the film pointed out some monumental flaws in how our justice system works and how easy it is for some people to get away with some of the things they do. Jamie Foxx gave a pretty good performance as the power hungry attorney that let the murderer nearly go free. Foxx, who has been won many many awards and been nominated for countless more almost always steps up and gives a strong performance. There was also a nice supporting cast in this film including Leslie Bibb, Colm Meaney and Bruce McGill, all of which gave good performances.

This movie truly did make you think the entire time. That is one thing I enjoy about movies, if they make you think. If you can watch a movie and figure out the end 10 minuets into it then you've wasted your time and money. This film never gave you enough to put the pieces together until the very end. It blended suspense, action, creativity and drama all together in a film that is very good. Another great thing about this movie was the direction in which it was made. A lot of films these days try too hard to tailor make themselves perfect for the crowd. This film did what it did according to how it wanted to do it. It seemed like it was made they way the director wanted to make it and if audiences like it then they like it but it wasn't going to water down any part of the film to be like the critics and other people wanted it to be. I like that aspect in films, making them how they want to be made and not how everybody else wants them to be.

This movie is going to fly under the radar for some of you people out there and you may not pick this film up until it comes out on DVD, but I suggest that you go see it now because it is definitely a different film and one that will surely please that inner psycho in us all. If you like movies that are creative, slightly gruesome and ones that make you think and keep you guessing then you should definitely give Law Abiding Citizen a shot.

I give Law Abiding Citizen 9 deadly steak bones out of 10

Tuesday, October 13, 2009


ZombielandRelease Date: October 2nd, 2009

Click here for the Zombieland Trailer.

Columbus(Jesse Eisenberg) is a college student living in Austin, Texas when the world is suddenly turned into a post-apocalyptic, zombie infested wasteland due a virulent form of human adapted mad cow disease. Columbus isn't the bravest person and typically spent his time alone in his apartment playing World of Warcraft. He has stayed alive in what he calls "Zombieland" because of his lack of friends and attachments as well as not having a close relationship with his parents. Columbus has also stayed alive thanks to a set list of rules he created for survival. Columbus is trying to make his way back to Columbus, Ohio where his parents live, hoping to find them still alive. On his way there he runs into Tallahassee(Woody Harrelson). Tallahassee is a renegade outlaw searching the country for the last remaining Twinkies in the world. Tallahassee, like Columbus, doesn't like to form attachments and insists that the two call each other by their home town names, Tallahassee and Columbus, instead of their actual names.

Tallahassee dislikes Columbus almost instantly, finding his safety and list of rules ridiculous and annoying. The two make their way to a grocery store so Tallahassee can look for Twinkies. While in the store they find three very obese zombies which they quickly dispose of. Tallahassee becomes angered when he can not find any Twinkies and decides to check in the back store room. While back there he finds two sisters, Wichita(Emma Stone) and Little Rock(Abigail Breslin). Wichita tells Tallahassee and Columbus that her little sister Little Rock was bitten by a zombie and that they have decided to put her out of her misery. Wichita asks Tallahassee to do it but decides that she wants to do it herself. When Tallahassee gives her his gun, she turns it on him and Columbus revealing that her and Little Rock were conning them. They take Tallahassee's car and all of their guns and supplies and leave.

Columbus and Tallahassee leave the grocery store and soon find a Hummer H2 loaded with automatic weapons, shotguns and loads of ammunition. They take the truck and go after Wichita and Little Rock hoping to get back their things. The two spot their stolen car broken down on the road but end up getting conned again by the two girls who this time take Columbus and Tallahassee prisoner. Tallahassee manages to grab his gun back from Little Rock and after an intense stand-off with Wichita, Columbus manages to convince the group that it would be better if they all worked together to survive.

Wichita and Little Rock are on their way to an amusement park in California called Pacific Playland. According to rumor, the place is supposed to be zombie free and safe to go to. During the drive, Wichita informs Columbus that Columbus, Ohio has been completely overrun and destroyed by zombies. Wichita sees that Columbus is upset and gives him a chance to leave and make his way to wherever he wants to go, but Columbus starts to fall for Wichita, essentially one of the last females on earth, and decides to stay with the group. As they make their way to Pacific Playland, the group decides to pass through Hollywood and look at the mansions of all the celebrities. Looking for a place to stay, Tallahassee takes the group to the mansion of his favorite actor, Bill Murray. While staying in the house, Tallahassee teaches Little Rock how to shoot better while Columbus and Wichita share a bottle of wine and begin to express feeling for one another. Realizing this, Wichita leaves with Little Rock for Pacific Playland, going back to their old way of not trusting anybody but each other as a means of survival.

Columbus, realizing he loves Wichita, decides to go after the two girls, convincing Tallahassee to go with him. When they arrive at the amusement park, Wichita and Little Rock turn on all the rides and lights which unintentionally attracts the attention of every nearby zombie. Wichita and Little Rock try to flee the park but have to jump out of their car which had been overrun by zombies. They make their way to a drop tower ride which temporarily keeps them out of harms way. Their ammunition is running low and zombies have begun climbing onto the ride. Columbus and Tallahassee and Columbus arrive and Tallahassee manages to lure almost all of the zombies towards him as Columbus goes after Wichita and Little Rock. As Columbus arrives at the drop tower he is faced with his worst fear of all time, a zombie clown. Realizing the sister's lives are at stake, Columbus overcomes his fears and kills the clown, saving Wichita and Little Rock. In the meantime, Tallahassee had locked himself in a small game booth and single-handedly taken out the remaining zombies.

After the battle, Tallahassee and Columbus scour a fried Twinkie stand for Tallahassee's last joy in life, a Twinkie. As the two scour the stand they hear a noise behind a door and the two blast the door to see two rats run out. While investigating the store room Tallahassee realizes that they had shot the last box of Twinkies and filled the treats with buck shots. Tallahassee grows furious and the two leave the store when Wichita and Little Rock drive up. Little Rock pops out of the car's sunroof and tosses a Twinkie at Tallahassee, who gets teary-eyed and smiles at Little Rock. After this. Columbus realizes that this is the only family he needs and the four leave Pacific Playland together.

If you know anything about me, you know that I absolutely love zombie movies, games and basically anything that has to do with zombies. So naturally, when I saw that a new zombie movie was coming out I was naturally excited. I have seen zombie movies take different paths over the years, some going for the traditional horror feel like George A Romero's Dawn of the Dead or by going the way of comedy zombie films like Edgar Wright's Shaun of the Dead. Making a good zombie movie, whether it be funny or scary, can be a tricky business. It is very hard to scare audiences today and it is equally hard to make them genuinely laugh with the film instead of at it. But Zombieland is one of those rare gems that is a truly unique and enjoyable film.

There were so many aspects of the film to enjoy that it is hard to begin. Probably one of the funniest things about the film was the list of survival rules created by the character of Columbus. It wasn't just the rules themselves that were funny, it was how they were incorporated into the movie. The rules were narrated by Columbus but also appeared in the background either on the ground or on the backs of truck beds etc... Along with the rules was the actual character of Columbus. Jesse Eisenberg did a fantastic job in the role. His character actually made you stop and think "how in the world did a kid like this survive?". And just when you start to wonder that, one of his survival rules, that actually makes sense, comes into play and shows you how he has survived. But I really liked the character of Columbus. I found him to be an unorthodox hero which was actually quite refreshing in the zombie apocalypse.

Then we come to Tallahassee. Tallahassee was, without a doubt, the key funny man in this movie. Woody Harrelson hasn't done a real big movie in a while and he definitely picked a good one to comeback with. This is probably his best work since Natural Born Killers. He was nearly flawless in his presentation and truly made a character that everybody will love. He was practically a mirror opposite of Columbus, which made their exploits together that much more funny. I loved his carefree attitude, like it was nothing that the world was overrun with flesh eating zombies. Wichita, played by the ever gorgeous Emma Stone, was a character I had trouble liking at first. It was definitely they way the character was written and not about the acting. Stone did a terrific job in her role as well. Her character, at first, was annoying and I actually hated her for what she did to Columbus and Tallahassee. But I grew more attached to her as the movie went on. The same goes for Little Rock, played by Abigail Breslin. She was the innocence of the film although she wasn't very innocent living in a zombie apocalypse. However, she did show how she has matured in her acting career from films like Signs and Raising Helen which she did at a much younger age.

The plot was interesting, although there wasn't much to it. Basically just a group of people doing their best to survive. But it was the little things that made the movie as good as it was. It is first and foremost a comedy but it did a nice job of adding in parts that startled you or made you jump a little bit. It was almost like the perfect blend. This movie could have gone the opposite way and been a complete disaster however it put all the right pieces into place and turned out to be one fantastic move. Seeing this will definitely be a very fun and enjoyable time at the cinema. The acting was fantastic, the plot was original and the movie was just overall a big, laugh out loud, gory funfest.

If you like comedies, zombies, action, gore, post-apocalyptic scenarios and just all around fun movies, then you can not go without seeing this film. It truly is one of the best films of the year so "its time to nut up or shut up" and go see this film. I give Zombieland 10 Epic Quests for Twinkies out of 10.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Halloween 2

Release Date: August 28th, 2009

Click here for the Halloween 2 Trailer.

Following the Halloween massacre in Haddonfield, Sheriff Brackett(Brad Dourif) finds Laurie Strode(Scout Taylor-Compton) walking down the street covered in blood and in a state of shock after having shot the crazed murderer Michael Myers(Tyler Mane). Sheriff Brackett takes Laurie to the hospital along with her friend Annie Brackett(Danielle Harris) and Dr. Loomis(Malcolm McDowell), both of which suffered terrible injuries from Michael. Michael's presumably dead body is loaded into a coroner's van and begins to be transported to a nearby morgue. While in transition, the van hits a cow, destroying the vehicle and waking up Michael, who escapes the van and kills one of the coroners. Michael then has a vision of his dead mother, Deborah Myers(Sheri Moon Zombie), who tells him that it is time to bring his sister home, and Michael sets out for Haddonfield.

While in the hospital, Laurie wakes up confused and goes to find Annie. A nurse finds her and leads her to her room. Laurie goes looking for the nurse later who comes out with a large cut in her face. Michael then appears behind her and brutally stabs her in the back multiple times before going after Laurie. Laurie attempts to escape the hospital, passing by the mass of bodies and blood Michael has left in his wake. Laurie makes her way to a guards station outside and hides only for Michael to find her and begin breaking down the walls with an ax. As Michael reaches out to grab Laurie, she abruptly wakes up, realizing that it was all a dream.

It is one year after the murders in Haddonfield and Laurie is living with Annie and her dad, Sheriff Brackett. Dr. Loomis, another survivor of the last year's events, has taken the tragedy of what Michael did and turned it into a book while going on tour to promote it. Michael's body has been missing since the night of the crash but is still presumed to be dead by everybody. Laurie hasn't been the same, attending therapy to deal with her nightmares and lack of sleep. As Michael makes his way back to her, Laurie begins having visions of Michael's murders, placing herself in his position and substituting his victims with close friends of her own. Aside from the murders, Laurie also begins having visions of Deborah Myers and a young Michael that mirror Michael's own visions.

While out touring his book, Dr. Loomis has been taking hits from the public who are accusing him of exploiting the deaths of all the people Michael killed and even going as far as blaming Loomis for their deaths. Upon release of his book, Laurie discovers a grim truth that she never knew before. Laurie finds out that she isn't actually Laurie Strode, but is instead Angel Myers, Michael Myers' younger sister. After finding out the truth about her past, Laurie decides that she wants to go to a party with her friends, Mya(Brea Grant) and Harley(Angela Trimbur), and get drunk to forget about what she just learned. While at the party, Michael shows up and finds Harley in the back of a van and kills her and the boy she was with. Michael then leaves and goes to Annie's house, killing the police officer out front and then finding Annie and brutally stabbing her multiple times.

Laurie then returns home to Annie's house with Mya. When the two go inside, they see the destruction in the house and rush upstairs to find Annie lying on the bathroom floor dying. Laurie tells Mya to go outside and call the police. As she does, Michael murders her and then heads upstairs to find Laurie. Laurie escapes Michael once again and flags down a passing motorist who stops to help her. In doing so Michael throws the man through the windshield of the car, killing him and then flips the car over, knocking Laurie unconscious. Sheriff Brackett hears about the call to the police from his house and rushes over there to find Mya and Annie both dead. He then gets a tip about a person seeing Michael carrying Laurie's unconscious body to an abandoned barn where he has been holding up.

Sheriff Brackett, along with the police force surround the barn and try to get Michael to give up. When nothing is working Dr. Loomis shows up and runs into the barn in hopes of convincing Michael to let Laurie go. Laurie believes that the younger Michael is holding her down when in reality there is nobody there. As Dr. Loomis tries to reason with Michael, Michael grabs Loomis and begins slashing his face and stabbing him in the chest repeatedly. As he steps in front of the window with Loomis' body in hand, Sheriff Brackett shoots Michael twice who falls over onto some old farming equipment impaling himself through the chest. Laurie, now released by her vision, crawls over to Michael and tells him she loves him before taking his knife and stabbing him multiple times in the chest and once in the face. Laurie then runs out of the barn wearing Michael's mask. The scene then transitions to Laurie sitting in a psychiatric ward, grinning at a vision of Deborah, dressed in white with a white horse, the same vision Michael used to have.

Where do you begin when a movie is as bad as this one? I'm all for doing a remake of a cult classic like Halloween but when you take pretty much everything that was good about the original and completely screw it up the tail pipe then we have a problem. Rob Zombie makes his 4th directorial debut with this sequel to his 2007 remake of Halloween. With a list of negatives as big as mine is for this movie, it's kind of hard to know where to begin.

My first problem with this movie was the depiction of Michael Myers himself. Tyler Mane reprises his role as the iconic killer and he definitely had the potential of being a truly epic Myers. Mane, who towers at 6ft 9in tall and weighs roughly 275lbs, was definitely an intimidating and and truly scary looking the first movie that is. The way he was portrayed in this film was less than stellar. First off, he forgoes the traditional blue jumpsuit, which became iconic in the original films, for an old, dirty jacket and hoodie combo. Mane was also seen sprouting a rather large viking-like beard which protruded from underneath his mask. The mask was another problem I had with the movie. In the originals, Myers never, under any circumstances, took off his mask. The whole concept of wondering what his face looked like was one of the key factors that made him terrifying. However, Zombie decided it would be a good idea to only have Myers putting on his mask when he was ready to kill somebody and then leaving it off the rest of the time. This completely ruins the effect of Michael Myers. By showing his face, though it is blurred by the massive beard, you humanize the character and thus, make him less terrifying.

There is also the fact that Michael Myers decided to make noises when he killed people. Aside from the mask, the other particularly scary thing about the character was his complete silence. No sounds were ever heard from him except for the occasional breathing. But alas, Zombie decided to change that aspect of Myers as well, having him grunt and growl while stabbing and murdering his victims. The silence was truly scary and the noises Zombie decided to have Myers make again, deterred away from the scariness of the character. And then there is the character of young Laurie Strode, played by Scout Taylor-Compton. In the first film, Laurie was this sweet, pretty, innocent girl who everybody liked. The kind of girl "you can bring home to mom". But Zombie decided to screw her up as well. In this film, Laurie changed from the good girl everybody loved to a grungy, punky, dread locked dirty-looking girl who was the complete opposite of everything she was in the first film. I can see where Zombie was trying to go, making her seem really messed up by the events, but it didn't seem to work.

Then there was the cursing. I don't care if a movie has cursing in it. I believe that in a lot of cases it actually sets the tone and is essentially to the overall feel. But there is, in any case, a line where it goes from sensible to just down right ridiculous and unnecessary and Zombie didn't just cross the line, he leaped over it in a fit of joy. One of the most prevalent scenes with over-used cursing was when the coroner's van hit the cow. The driver was killed instantly but the other man survived. He survived and then preceded to drop the "f-bomb" probably in excess of 40 times in a row with no other dialogue in between. The whole movie was filled with unnecessary cursing which made the experience feel stupid and childish.

As the list grows, another problem I had was the weird visions of his mother that Michael experienced. The visions seemed like they would best fit in some of the other Zombie flicks like House of 1000 Corpses or The Devil's Rejects. But in this movie they seemed very out of place and kind of dumb. There is also the fact that Laurie's character experienced some of the same visions. They just didn't fit in a Michael Myers film.

The gore was immense and the violence intense but neither were enough to save this film. It's surprising because Zombie's first remake of the original Halloween was truly a great movie. It was different but not to the extent of destroying everything that was great about the originals. This sequel seemed like it sought out to do just that, destroy everything we loved about Michael Myers. I would recommend you stay away from this movie. The only possible way I could justify spending money on this is if you got it from one of the Red Box things, at least then you only wasted a dollar on it. But this movie is bad. That is why it is getting the lowest rating I have ever given on Zack's Movie Reel.

I give Halloween 2 3 Crazy, Murdering Uncles out of 10.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Jennifer's Body

Jennifer's BodyRelease Date: September 18th, 2009

Click here for the Jennifer's Body Trailer.

Jennifer Check(Megan Fox) is the typical "popular Girl". Everybody knows who she is, all the girls want to be her and all the guys want her. Anita "Needy" Lesnicki(Amanda Seyfried) is your shy, nerdy, unpopular girl who, strangely enough, has been best friends with Jennifer since the "sandbox days". Needy does everything with Jennifer and does anything Jennifer says. one night, Jennifer drags Needy to a local bar so they can see the Indie band Low Shoulder. Jennifer has her eye on bedding the lead singer, Nikolai Wolf(Adam Brody). Jennifer goes to the bar when Needy hears the band talking about Jennifer. Needy lies and tells the group that Jennifer is a virgin in hopes they will leave her alone.

During the show, the bar mysteriously catches fire and burns down, killing multiple people. Needy and Jennifer escape as well as Low Shoulder, who approach the girls afterward. Nikolai takes Jennifer, who is slightly intoxicated and in shock, to his van where they drive off and leave Needy. Later that night, Needy is home alone and Jennifer shows up bloody and beaten. Needy tries to help Jennifer when Jennifer lets out a monstrous howl and then vomits up black, ferromagnetic fluid. Needy panics and runs to call her boyfriend Chip Dove(Johnny Simmons) when Jennifer grabs her and throws her into the wall before leaving.

The next day at school, Jennifer arrives and appears to be fine with no memory of the night before. While the school mourns the loss of some students and parents in the fire, Jennifer remains unsympathetic. The next day at school, Jennifer finds the schools football captain, who is in mourning over loosing his best friend in the fire. Jennifer tells him that his friend wanted him and Jennifer to hook up so she takes him into the woods behind the school. While seducing him, Jennifer throws him against a tree and brutally massacres him.

A month after the incident, Jennifer begins to look pale and sickly. When a Colin Gray(Kyle Gallner), one of the school's outcasts asks Jennifer out, she initially denies him. But later accepts and tells Colin to meet her at a house. When Colin arrives, he sees that the house is abandoned and finds Jennifer in the attic. Jennifer begins to seduce Colin and then ends up brutally slaying and eating him as well. While Jennifer is killing Colin, Needy, who is in Chip's room having sex with him, begins to experience images of Jennifer and her deeds. Needy rushes home from Chip's house and almost hits Jennifer in the road who is covered in blood.

When Needy returns home, she finds Jennifer in her bed, completely normal. When Needy asks what is going on, Jennifer tells her that when she left the bar with Low Shoulder, Nikolai and his band took her to the lake and revealed that they began worshiping Satan in hopes that they will become famous. They told Jennifer that they needed a virgin sacrifice to offer in exchange for their fame. But, since Jennifer wasn't a virgin, the demon remained in her body, forcing her to feed off of people to remain strong. Needy freaks out and tells Jennifer to leave, who jumps out of the second story window of Needy's room and disappears.

When Needy begins to believe that Chip may be Jennifer's next victim, she realizes that she has to stop her. Needy tells Chip that Jennifer is a succubus and is killing people to survive but Chip doesn't believe her. She then tells Chip not to go to the school dance because she fears for his life and breaks up with him in hopes he won't go. Chip decides to go anyways and is met on the way there by Jennifer who lies to him and says that Needy and Colin were sleeping together. Jennifer then lies again and said she has always had feelings for Chip and takes him to an abandoned indoor swimming pool. Jennifer begins to attack Chip throwing him into the water. Needy arrives moments later to find Jennifer feeding on Chip's neck. Needy jumps into the pool and pulls Jennifer off of Chip. Needy tries to drown Jennifer who then begins hovering 10 feet above the pool. Needy pulls Chip out of the water and Jennifer begins to attack Needy. As the two fight, Chip stabs Jennifer in the stomach with a pool skimmer. Jennifer bleed a little and then escapes through the window. Needy holds Chip and he dies in her arms as they both proclaim their love for one another.

Later on, Needy breaks into Jennifer's room and begins to fight with her. As they struggle, Jennifer begins to hover, along with Needy, above her bed. Needy rips off the "BFF" necklace she gave Jennifer and then stabs her in the heart with a box cutter killing Jennifer and releasing the demon from her body. Jennifer's mom, who heard the struggle, comes into Jennifer's room to find Needy onto of her daughter's dead body. Needy is committed to an Insane Asylum. Needy was bitten by Jennifer during the fight, obtaining some of her power and murderous instinct. Using her powers, Needy escapes from the asylum. While walking along the road, Needy finds the knife that Nikolai and his band used to kill Jennifer. Needy finds out where the band is and breaks into their hotel room where she brutally murders all of them.

Horror movies are a hard thing to pull off for many film makers. Diablo Cody, who is best known for her film Juno takes a stab at one of the most difficult genres of film to create. However, Cody doesn't just aim for a straight and terrifying horror flick but instead aims at making a film that is both creepy, thrilling and scary but at the same time funny and appealing to fans of multiple genres. Although Juno won an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay, I don't think Jennifer's Body will be up for any awards.......ever.

Upon initially hearing about this movie and seeing trailers for it, I was not impressed. For me it looked like a cheap slasher flick that would focus more on how gory and brutal they could make the killings, focusing less on actual acting skills, plot and substance. However, I was surprised to find out that while not a fantastic move, it was better than I had originally planned it to be. While the violence was gruesome and disturbing, it didn't cross the line of horrid and disgusting as some movies tend to do.

Casting, to me, is a big part of a film. You can have a great movie, with a fantastic plot, script etc... and put a bad actor in the mix and completely ruin the whole thing. Jennifer's Body had a cast that, for the most part, played their roles very well. Megan Fox takes on her first lead role as the demon possessed Jennifer. Fox seemed custom made for this role. The pretty, popular, eye candy of the school seems tailor made for her. But what was really entertaining was how genuinely scary Fox was. When under the influence of the demon, Fox was one of the creepiest characters and definitely made you turn in your seat. Amanda Seyfried portrayed the dorky "plain Jane" perfectly. She made you truly feel for the predicament her character was in and allowed you to feel her struggle and fear.

The supporting actors in this film were also good. Adam Brody was a perfect Indie rocker/devil worshiping psycho. He was also creepy in the way he humorously murdered Fox's character without a second thought. I was surprised to see J.K. Simmons, who played the role of Mr. Wroblewski, one of the school's teachers. J.K. Simmons is always funny and he added an awkward sense of humor in this film.

As for the plot, it was fairly original. A girl who gets sacrificed to the devil but instead becomes possessed and goes on a bloody, murderous rampage to stay strong isn't something you see typically. What I think saved this film is the addition of a comedy aspect. If Cody had tried to go completely horror and attempted to only try and scare audiences then it would have completely failed miserably, however, it only failed a little bit.

This movie wasn't a complete and utter failure, but it wasn't an outstanding, must see film. It was mainly just mediocre. There were good performances from the actors/actresses and the plot was pretty original but the delivery of the film was just o.k. If you like funny, teen horror movies or semi-gruesome demonic possession flicks then you will probably like this movie. If you are looking for some way to pass a few hours out of your day and don't mind dropping $10 for a movie ticket, then you should go see this movie, but don't expect to leave feeling like this was a fantastic movie. It was good, but not great. Oh and for all you male readers out there, if you are going to go see this movie in hopes of seeing a part of Megan Fox you have never seen before, then stop where you are because it doesn't happen in this movie.

Overall, better than expected but still fairly mediocre. I give Jennifer's Body 5 Demon Possessed Cheerleaders out of 10.

Thursday, September 17, 2009


9Release Date: September 9th, 2009

Click here for the 9 Trailer

When he awakens, 9(Elijah Wood), a small stitchpunk rag-doll, has no idea where he is or what is going on. He finds himself in a half destroyed home with a dead scientist on the floor and without the ability to speak. While looking around, 9 finds a strange talisman which he takes. 9 goes to the window and opens it to find the world before him completely destroyed and void of all life. Looking out on the wasteland before him 9 sees something moving down below, another stitchpunk dragging some old junk. 9 tries to call out but is unable to speak so he runs down to the ground to look for him. While down there 9 accidentally hits the other stitchpunk in the face with a bolt knocking him over. The other stitchpunk gets up and says its o.k. and that he is a friend.

The other stitchpunk introduces himself to be 2(Martin Landau) and tells 9 that there are others like him. 2 is an inventor and as such fixes 9's voicebox, allowing him to speak. While talking about what happened, a machine known as the Cat Beast bursts in and grabs 2 and the talisman and ribs 9's arm before running off towards a towering factory. 9 is found passed out by 5(John C. Riley), part of the remaining group of stitchpunks. 5 takes 9 and mends his torn arm. When 9 awakens he is approached by 1(Christopher Plummer), the self-proclaimed leader of the stitchpunks, and his bodyguard 8(Fred Tatasciore), a giant, mean brute stitchpunk that follows 1 without question. 1 questions 9 about where he came from and what happened. 9 tells him about 2 and insists on saving him but 1 refuses to jeopardize the safety of himself and the others. 1 forces 9 and 5 to go into the watch tower and stay on lookout. While in the tower, 9 sees the factory the Cat Beast took 2 to and tells 5 that they need to help him because that is what 2 would have done for them. 9 and 5 grab a map of the area and head off into the wasteland to find 2.

9 and 5 make their way to the factory and make it inside to find 5 locked in a cage. As the two go to save him, they notice the Cat Beast trying to insert the talisman into an object with a similar shaped socket. The Cat Beast sees 9 and 5 trying to save 2 and attacks them, throwing 2's cage around. The Cat Beast corners 9 and 5 and moves in for the kill when another anonymous stitchpunk swoops down and decapitates the machine. The anonymous stitchpunk removes her mask and is revealed by 2 and 5 to be 7(Jennifer Connelly). 7 has been away from the group for a long time, outcasting herself after 1 took leadership, being unable to deal with his rules and fear. While 2, 5 and 7 talk, 9 takes the talisman and puts it into the machine the Cat Beast was trying to. The machine awakens and is revealed to be a large fabrication device which attempts to kill 9 but 2 pushes him out of the way. The machine grabs 2 and uses the talisman to steal 2's soul and seal it away, leaving 2 lifeless. The machine continues to attack while 5, 7 and 9 flee.

9 wants answers on the machine and the talisman so 7 takes him and 5 to an old library where she has been hiding out with two more stitchpunks, the twins 3 and 4. 3 and 4 are unable to speak but talk to each other flashing their eyes like Morse code. If they need to talk to someone else, they turn their eyes into projectors and play something. 3 and 4 play a movie for 9 detailing that the dead scientist created a super B.R.A.I.N which was seized by the government and used to make robots for peace. The robots then turned on humanity, killing every living person. 9 asks 3 and 4 about the talisman which they know nothing about. 5 then realizes that the markings on the talisman are the same ones 6(Crispin Glover) are always drawing and that he might have answers. 6 tells the group that they must return to the source. When 9 asks what that means he is interrupted by 1 who berates him on waking the fabrication machine and how he is going to bring more trouble to them.

While discussing what to do, a winged machine, created by the fabrication machine, attacks the hideout. The beast almost kills 1 and 8 but eventually is brought down, but not before the hideout is burned to the ground forcing the stitchpunks to relocate. While looking for a new hideout, the group is attacked by the Seamstress, a hybrid of machine parts and 2's lifeless body. The Seamstress kidnaps 7 and 8 and takes them back to the factory. After this, 1 is convinced by the others to strike back against the machines. While at the factory, 9 infiltrates it to save 7 and 8 while 1, 3, 4, 5 and 6 put a barrel of gas at the doorway as a trap. The fabrication machine steals 8's soul but 9 is able to rescue 7. 9 and 7 are also able to destroy the Seamstress and as they are escaping, the others light the barrel of cas and push it down a ramp into the factory which explodes.

Thinking thy have destroyed the fabrication machine the group begins to celebrate until the machine comes out of the debris and attacks them yet again. As the machine attacks it steals 5's soul and chases the others over a bridge which collapses and traps the machine temporarily. 6 tells that group that they can not destroy it because the souls of the others are still trapped inside before the machine steals his soul as well. Despite his warnings, 1, 3, 4 and 7 decide that they should still destroy the machine. 9 heeds 6's advice and returns to the house he awoke in believing it to be "the source". While there 9 finds a box in the hands of the dead scientist which has 9's name on it. 9 opens it and a holographic projection of the scientist appears revealing to 9 that each stitchpunk is a different piece of his sole and that he created them in hopes of preserving humanity's legacy. He tells 9 that the fabrication machine can be destroyed by pushing a certain sequence on the talisman and 9 sets off to end it all.

9 intends to bait himself so the others can get the talisman but 1 intervenes and sacrifices himself. While the machine is taking 1's soul, 9 takes the talisman and uses the sequence to free the soles and destroy the machine. 9, 7, 3 and 4 set up a burial and memorial for 1, 2, 5, 6 and 8. 9 opens the talisman and releases the souls which scatter into the sky bringing life back into the world.

I was really looking forward to this movie from the first time I saw a preview. It looked like nothing I had ever seen before and appeared to be a fantastic movie. First of all, the animation in this film was spectacular. Probably the best looking animated movie to date. The sound effects were also incredible. Good sound effects in an animated movie really help put you in the film and gives you a greater sense of realism and 9 had amazing sound.

The voice acting was also very well done. The cast was filled with top notch actors who all did a great job bringing their respective character to life. Each individual actor is as different to each other as their stitchpunk counterparts are. Good voice acting is also another key in great animated films. But there are some let downs with this movie.

In any movie, animated or not, plot is a big deal. The plot is one of the key factors that decides whether your movie will succeed or fail. In 9 the plot, sadly, was lacking. This movie is based on a short film, the ones you typically see before a movie at the drive-in, and may have been better served as a short film. The plot required a fair amount of thinking and wasn't represented clearly. The way things made sense came from two or three scenes that were made to just give you all the answers without you figuring them out on your own. I also felt that this movie was a bit incomplete. It just seemed like things are missing and that there is so much more that needed to be added.

This is 9's biggest flaw. The incomplete plot puts a downer on the film. However, the action sequences in 9 help to make this more than your typical cartoon. This movie gained a PG-13 rating which is rare for typical animated films these days. The action is intense and can sometimes be startling or even scary (for younger viewers). This is what sets 9 apart from other animated films, its more mature theme it has about it. The mature theme will bring in a more mature audience while the animated style will still bring in the younger crowds.

A great film with excellent voice acting, incredible animations and audio and intense action combined with an o.k. yet semi-incomplete story makes 9 an interesting film. This is definitely worth your time. If you like animated films or interesting concepts for movies or just something to pass the time, then go check out 9 because it is definitely something different. I give 9 8 World-Ending Machines That Completely Kill Everybody out of 10.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Taking Woodstock

Release Date: August 28th, 2009

Click here for the Taking Woodstock Trailer.

Elliot Tiber(Demetri Martin) is a young, aspiring interior designer living in Greenwich Village, New York. In the summer of 1969, Elliot moves back to upstate New York to help his parents, Sonia Teichberg(Imelda Staunton) and Jack Teichberg(Henry Goodman), run their dilapidated Catskills motel called The El Monaco. Things are not going good for the El Monaco. The bank wants to foreclose, Elliot's father wants to burn the place down but can't because he hasn't paid the insurance and Elliot is caught in the middle.

Elliot hears that a neighboring town has pulled the permit for a music festival and that people are outraged and looking for a place to hold the festival. Elliot calls the producers of the show, hoping to bring in some much needed business to the motel. The producers come in and inspect the area but refuse when it is discovered that the field behind the motel is nothing more than a swamp. Elliot then takes the producers to his neighbor, Max Yasgur's(Eugene Levey) farm. Max and his wife have always been fans of the music festival Elliot puts on every year and agree to hold the concert on their farm for a small amount of $5,000.

Producer of Woodstock Michael Lang(Jonathan Groff) begins preparations for the concert and decides to use Elliot's motel as the head base of operations, paying Elliot cash in advance for all the rooms they need. Elliot and his parents begin selling tickets for the event from their motel which brings in more guests and visitors and untold revenue to the motel. While getting everything ready for the event, Michael decides that Elliot should be the official town representative for the event and that he needs to do a press conference to discuss the show. Elliot is extremely nervous before the interview and begins talking with Michael's assistant(Mamie Gummer) who gives Elliot marijuana to calm him down. During the interview Elliot, in his stoned stupor, begins talking about freedom which makes people think Woodstock is now a free concert. After the interview, a half million people begin making their way to The El Monaco hotel and Max Yasgur's farm.

As more and more people begin coming to the motel, the Teichberg's begin quadrupling up rooms, which the "hippies" coming to the concert don't seem to mind. But things begin to get crazy with the sheer amount of people coming. When things seem like they are getting out of hand, Vilma(Liev Schreiber), a transvestite prostitute sent to Elliot by a "friend", steps to help out Elliot's parents with security forming a close friendship with Elliot's father. As more and more people arrive at Woodstock and Elliot's motel, the crazier and more stressful things get for him, including trying to keep his friend Billy(Emile Hirsch), a recently returned Vietnam vet from flipping out and trying to keep the theater troupe in his barn from taking their clothes off. Vilma finally sits Elliot down and shows him that even his parents, who have been miserable for the last couple of years, are coming around and having a great time. Vilma and Elliot's father then force Elliot to actually go to the concert he has worked so hard to help happen. Elliot traverses the 500,000 people in his attempt to make it to the show. Along the way he meets a couple who gives him acid at which point he stays in their van for the night.

As Woodstock comes to a close, Elliot finally realizes the point to Woodstock and everything going on around him. he sees how happy his parents are and how happy all the people around him are. His parents are accepting of him and have found true happiness in life and overall the festival was a huge success and Elliot is finally at peace.

I frequently enjoy seeing movies that aren't the huge blockbusters that everybody is raving about. It gives me a refreshing and relaxing time at the cinema that I enjoy very much. Taking Woodstock is one such experience. This film wasn't set to top anything like Transformers or Star Trek. It wasn't made to bring in huge crowds and tons of money. It was made for the sole reason to entertain, which I think is something missing in many recent films.

stand-up comedian Demetri Martin takes to the big screen for the first time in this Ang Lee adaptation of the biggest concert event in history. The plot itself is simple enough to follow. Woodstock's first choice of venue gets canceled because of the hippie hatred of the town and a man looking for some extra cash steps in and has the concert in his town. You won't find huge names like Tom Cruise or Brad Pitt in this film, though the cast is one of the best I have seen. Demetri Martin's character was slightly dull and boring, being very soft spoken and calm for a majority of the movie. But what Martin lacked in pizazz was made up by the performances of Imelda Staunton and Henry Goodman, who played Elliot's parents. Staunton and Goodman played and elderly Jewish couple who speak broken English and who don't put up with crap from anybody. These two performers brought the energy to the movie. Most of the time the two were arguing with somebody or chasing them away with baseball bats.

There were also good performances from Liev Schreiber, who played a very large and muscular transvestite and from Jonathan Groff, who played the part of Woodstock Producer Michael Lang. Groff's character was probably my favorite character to watch. His performance made his character seem unreal. I was always waiting for him to float away or ascend into the heavens, especially after he randomly rode in on a white horse which came out of nowhere. He was calm and cool through the whole film which in fact relaxed me when I watched it. Eugene Levey and Emile Hirsch played their respective roles well, adding to the great cast.

I also enjoyed the plot for the most part. It was a very interesting take on how Woodstock came to be how we know it. Based off of the book by the real Elliot Tiber, this film was something different. However there were a few things I didn't like about the film.

One of the main things I didn't like about the film was how they incorporated Elliot's homosexuality. Now I'm not in any way against a character in a movie being gay, even if it is the main character. However, I felt that the way they added Elliot being gay in the film, even though he was in real life, was pointless. It seemed like they put it in just because. To me it didn't really have anything to do with the plot of the film and didn't do anything to further the movie. I also expected more from Demetri Martin himself. Martin is a brilliant stand-up comedian and I expected him to be pouring out the laughs but I didn't really see any of that from him. Ang Lee put a stand-up comedian in the main role of a comedy movie but made the main character the more serious role. For me it didn't seem to fit right.

But overall this wasn't a bad movie. It was a refreshing film to watch amongst the multi-billion dollar, CGI infested box office mega movies. A good cast which delivered stellar performances along with a compelling story makes this film worth your while. While it won't be topping off the box office or being raved about by everybody and their mother, you should still take the time to sit down and enjoy this refreshing film. I give Taking Woodstock 7.5 Crazy Theater Troupes out of 10.