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