Monday, August 31, 2009

The Time Traveler's Wife

Release Date: August 14th, 2009

Click here for The Time Traveler's Wife Trailer.

When he is a young boy, Henry(Eric Bana) is riding in the car with his mother(Michelle Nolden) shortly before Christmas. On their way home, a drunk driver begins to swerve on the snow and is headed straight for them. During the intense moments before the inevitable crash, Henry starts to disappear until he is completely gone from the car leaving nothing but a pile of clothes. The next thing he knows, Henry is naked in the very street he and his mother were just on, witnessing the crash from the side of the road. As he runs to the crash he is stopped by a man who tells young Henry that he is him from the future. Older Henry tells younger Henry what just happened and tells him what he must do. He then gives young Henry a blanket before disappearing himself. The older Henry finds himself time traveled back to the library in which he works. He picks up his clothes and gets dressed before going into the main room to continue working.

Clare Abshire(Rachel McAdams) is an adolescent girl playing in the field behind her parents estate in the 70's. While playing one day, she hears a rustling off in the bushes. When she calls out, a man answers back. Clare threatens to tell her parents but the man talks her out of it and asks her for her blanket. Once wrapped in the blanket, an adult Henry emerges from the bushes and explains to Clare that he is a time traveler. When Clare doesn't believe him, he tells her to wait long enough and she will see for herself. Henry asks Clare to bring a set of her fathers clothes to leave in the bush for the next time he comes. Clare agrees and Henry fades away, leaving Clare stunned.

One day, while Henry is working at the library as usual, he runs into a very grown up Clare who, having seen Henry throughout a big portion of her life, recognizes him instantly. Clare and Henry have dinner where Clare proceeds to explain the relationship between the two of them, Henry has never seen Clare before, according to him. But the fact is, he has not traveled to her in this point of his life yet. But Henry believes Clare when she shows him a journal where she recorded every time he came to see her. After this first encounter, Henry and Clare begin to form a relationship. However, Henry's time traveling begins to take its toll. Henry can not control when or where he travels which makes it difficult to handle. Every time he time travels, Henry winds up naked in a city he doesn't know and in a time he doesn't know. He has to quickly find clothes, which causes him to steal often, leading to more conflicts in his life. Henry then has to figure out what time he is in and has to make due until he travels back.

Clare takes Henry to meet her two best friends Charisse(Jane McLean) and her boyfriend Gomez(Ron Livingston) in an effort to make Henry a bigger part of her life. Henry runs into Gomez a little while later after he time travels. Henry ends up outside a night club that Gomez was at. Henry had to steal the first clothes he could find and ended up putting on a skin tight pink frilly tank top and skin tight denim short shorts which attracted the unwanted attention from a group of guys in the alley. The men began to attack Henry believing him to be homosexual. Henry beats up the main guy as Gomez comes around the corner and sees him, breaking it up. Henry then breaks into an army supply store next door to the club with Gomez right behind him. Henry explains to Gomez that he is a time traveler. Gomez begins to think Henry is crazy until he witnesses Henry time travel before his very own eyes. Gomez then goes and tells Clare what he saw, telling her to break up with Henry because of his condition. Clare explains to Gomez that she has always known about it and that she still loves Henry, no matter what.

Henry and Clare decide to get married. Henry goes back home to his father's house, asking him for his mother's engagement and wedding rings. Henry has not had a good relationship with his father(Arliss Howard) since the death of his mother. Henry's father is bitter and believes that Henry should travel back in time and stop his mother from getting into the car that night. As Henry begins to leave, his father gives him the rings. The wedding is to take place at Clare's family's estate. There is a good turnout and even Henry's father cleans up and comes out, much to the surprise, yet great happiness, of Henry. As Henry and Gomez are getting ready for the ceremony, Henry time travels away, leaving Gomez in a nervous fret not knowing what to do. A few minuets later, a much older Henry with some gray hair arrives at the window. Gomez lets him in and the older Henry goes off and marries Clare, who realizes that it is an older Henry. The two get married and go off on their honeymoon. In the hotel room the two begin to celebrate their marriage when Henry again time travels away leaving Clare alone in the hotel room. Over the years, Henry and Clare's relationship begins to have troubles as Henry continues to be uncontrollably transported through time.

When Clare begins to fell cramped by Henry's small apartment, they start to look for a house. Clare likes many of the ones they look at but Henry, having been to the future, knows which one they want. They finally settle on an older house that needs some renovations. Clare is initially dissatisfied with the house until Henry shows her the garage and tells her that it is to become her new art studio. The two move in and start fixing the place up. But more problems arise when a bloody, wounded Henry ends up on the floor of Clare and Henry's house. Henry looks in disbelief at himself lying their bleeding. The wounded Henry disappears and Henry doesn't know what to do. Clare tells Henry that in the future Henry told her once about a Dr. Kendrick(Stephen Tobolowsky) in the future that helps Henry with his condition. Henry seeks out Dr. Kendrick and asks for help. Dr. Kendrick believes Henry to be ill until Henry asks him about a grant is trying to win. Dr. Kendrick, having not told anybody about it, asks Henry how he knows at which point Henry begins to talk about his ability. Dr. Kendrick storms out of his office, giving no aid to Henry. To make matters worse, Clare becomes pregnant. Clare is ecstatic about but all Henry can think about is whether or not his condition will carry over to his child.

Clare has a miscarriage and the two begin to wonder if the baby is traveling outside of the womb. After hearing this, Dr. Kendrick agrees to help Henry and to figure out his condition. Through the process Clare has another miscarriage. Dr. Kendrick learns that Henry's condition has to do with his neurological pathways and frequencies in his head and that it could have carried onto his child. Dr. Kendrick believes that high stress from the mother could cause flare ups in the babies brain which would cause it to time travel. When Clare becomes pregnant for a third time, her and Henry work hard to keep calm and let the baby not be under any stress. Clare begins to get depressed, hoping this baby lives. Henry tells her that this one does live because he has seen her in the future.

One time, while Henry is in the future, he is approached by his daughter Alba(Hailey McCann) Who is now almost 10 years old. Alba tells Henry that when she was 5 years old, he died. The sight of the wounded Henry starts to make more sens to Henry now. When Henry travels back to his present life, He sees 4 year old Alba playing with 10 year old Alba who had time traveled to that point. 10 year old Alba tells 4 year old Alba about what was going to happen to Henry and Henry makes Alba promise not to tell Clare. On Alba's fifth birthday, Henry finally tells Clare that he is going to die sometime this year.

Henry time travels back to his house and ends up outside in the snow. He then sees fireworks in the sky and witnesses everybody in his house, who were there for a party, rushing over to the wounded Henry. When Henry is transported to that same night a few moments before his wounded self arrives, he asks Gomez to step outside with him. Henry thanks Gomez for being such a wonderful friend and asks him to take care of Clare and Alba for him. Gomez realizes what Henry is trying to tell him and the two hug before Clare comes out to see whats going on. Gomez goes back inside and Henry begins to tell Clare that tonight is the night he is going to die. Although the reasons for Henry's death are still a mystery, he knows that it is going to happen tonight. Henry and Clare say their final goodbyes as Henry disappears in Clare's arms. A few moments later, Henry wakes up in lying in the snow in a forest. He looks to his left and sees a very large buck standing next to him. Off in the distance he hears two hunters, the buck runs and the hunters shoot at it, accidentally hitting Henry who is immediately transported to the living room of his house.

A few years pass and Alba is at the zoo on a class field trip. while at the zoo, a group of people begin laughing at a man who is in one of the displays. The man turns out to be a younger Henry. When he leaves the cage, he is approached by Alba who screams out "Daddy!". Alba tells Henry that at this point in her life he is dead. Henry talks with Alba some more before she is called away by her teacher. Henry again travels through time and ends up in the same field he always would visit Clare in. He looks down and sees the same clothes Clare always left for him. When he emerges from the field he sees Alba playing with Charisse's and Gomez's kid. Alba tells them to go and get Clare. Henry comments on the clothes to which Alba says you can never be too careful. Clare comes running from the house and sees Henry. The two embrace, having not seen each other in some time. Henry begins to slowly time travel away as the movie ends.

O.k., so this movie is based off of the book of the same title from author Audrey Niffenegger. If ever there was a sappy romantic chick flick it would be this movie. Other critics will try to draw you into this movie telling you it has the romantic plot for the women combined with interesting sci-fi for the guys. Well that is a lie. While the concept of the time traveling is very interesting and compelling, it is dramatically overpowered by the romanticism of the plot. But this story is first and foremost a romantic movie and a sci-fi movie second. Eric Bana is a decent actor and did a fairly decent job although his performance did leave something to be desired. Rachel McAdams did a good job as well. She is becoming a more widely known name in the business and can certainly become one of Hollywood's top actresses.

This just isn't my type of movie. The ladies will definitely find this tearjerker a wonderful romantic movie that will make them cry and do whatever else it is you girls do. Guys, don't be suckered in to the false pretenses of sci-fi that will try to draw you in, it isn't really there. I didn't really like anything about this movie. The whole time i watched I could stop asking myself when it was going to be over. The acting was good but the premise was just dull and uninteresting to me. While the thought of a man who uncontrollably travels through time and the burdens it puts on his life is an interesting concept, this movie doesn't focus on it. This movie is about the time traveler's wife, which is probably a good inclination into why the movie is titled The Time Traveler's Wife. This movie reminds me of such films like Titanic and and Pearl Harbor. Both of those films took interesting and dramatic occurrences in history and made them into crappy love stories. Now, while the story of a man who travels through time isn't a dramatic or interesting occurrence in history, it is an interesting concept turned into yet another crappy love story.

The women will definitely love this movie and the guys will dread it. The overdose of romance just drives it into the ground almost. I do enjoy the occasional romantic movie but this one was just too much for me. If romance in a movie were a drug this movie would have killed me. If you like romantic movies or are a huge fan of the Lifetime or Hallmark channels then this is the movie for you. However for me, it didn't quite make the cut, which is why I give The Time Traveler's Wife 5 Uncontrollable Jumps Through Time out of 10

Monday, August 17, 2009

G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra

Release Date: August 7th, 2009

Click here for the G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra Trailer.

James McCullen(Christopher Eccleston) is a Scottish weapons designer who has just created a nanotechnology-based weapon. The nanites are remote controlled and are capable of destroying an entire city. With his company MARS, McCullen sells four nano-warheads to NATO who puts the U.S. Army in charge of delivering the warheads. Conrad "Duke" Hauser(Channing Tatum) and his best friend and second in command Wallace "Ripcord" Weems(Marlon Wayans) along with their team are entrusted with the delivery of the warheads. En route to their destination, the team is ambushed by a squad of super soldiers that seem virtually unstoppable.During the fight, a woman emerges and attempts to take the case of warheads from Duke and Ripcord. While fighting her off, Duke realizes that the woman is his ex-fiance Ana Lewis(Sienna Miller), who now goes by "The Baroness". The Baroness is about to kill duke and Ripcord when they are saved by Shana "Scarlett" O'Hara(Rachel Nichols), "Snake Eyes"(Ray Park) and Hershel "Heavy Duty" Dalton(Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje) who retrieve the warheads and transport them, along with Duke and Ripcord, back to The Pit, the command center for G.I. Joe. Upon arrival, Duke and Ripcord meet General Clayton "Hawk" Abernathy(Dennis Quaid). After the debriefing, Hawk dismisses Duke and Ripcord who insist on staying to which Hawk agrees to let them join G.I. Joe.

Upon inspecting the warheads, McCullen appears via a hologram message and tells them to disable the tracking device which has already been disabled by Abel "Breaker" Shaz(Said Taghmaoui). McCullen then wishes to view the warheads to make sure thy are in tact. Breaker then uses an visual x-ray scanner to examine the case without opening it which reveals the warheads to be intact, however McCullen insists on seeing them and gives Breaker a code to unlock it, however, the code actually re-initiates the tracking device and it is revealed that McCullen sent the people to steal the warheads. McCullen is implanting soldiers with nanites to create super soldiers who do not feel pain and do not know danger, threat, or fear. With the tracking device now working, McCullen sends The Baroness along with Thomas "Storm Shadow" Arashikage(Lee Byung-hun) and Zartan(Arnold Vosloo) with an army of super soldiers to infiltrate The Pit and steal the warheads. During the battle in The Pit, General Hawk is badly injured while The Baroness and Storm Shadow escape with the warheads. They take the warheads to Baron DeCobray, The Baroness' husband, who is a scientist. They force Baron DeCobray to weaponize the warheads while the Joes pursue them.

The Baroness and Storm Shadow get the warheads weaponized and head to the Eiffel Tower to detonate one. Storm Shadow and The Baroness are fleeing through the streets of Paris with Duke and Ripcord following in their accelerator suits trying to stop them. During the chase, Snake Eyes jumps onto the Baroness' car and attempts to stop them as well with Scarlett, Breaker and Heavy Duty following close behind. The Baroness and Storm Shadow's car gets hit by a train and the two split up with Storm Shadow taking the warhead and The Baroness taking the remote control and kill switch. Duke follows after The Baroness while Ripcord pursues Storm Shadow. Ripcord finds Storm Shadow but is too late to stop him from firing the warhead at the Eiffel Tower which detonates and begins dissolving the support beams. Duke finds The Baroness who escapes in a plane. However, thanks to Duke's accelerator suit, he is able to jump into the plane and hit the kill switch but not before the Eiffel Tower plummets to the ground. While in the plane Duke is incapacitated and captured. Duke is taken to McCullen's secret research base under the ice caps of the Arctic. While being transported, Duke attempts to steal the case and escape but is easily apprehended again. But while Duke had the case he was able to re-initialize the tracking code letting the Joes know where he is. Breaker, Ripcord, Heavy Duty, Scarlett and Snake Eyes travel to the Arctic to save Duke and retrieve the warheads which McCullen has already integrated into three missiles which he launches at specific world powers including Russia and the United States. Snake Eyes takes out one of the missiles while Ripcord hijacks a prototype Night Raven jet and goes after the other two.

Scarlet, Breaker and Snake Eyes infiltrate the base to find the control room to guide ripcord to the missiles and shut down the base. While captured, Duke is strapped into a medical chair and is being prepared to be operated on by The Doctor. The Doctor plans on altering Dukes physical features and turning him into one of the mind controlled super soldiers. While preparing for the procedure, The Doctor reveals himself to be Rex Lewis(Joseph Gordon-Levitt), The Baroness' younger brother. Rex was a science officer in the army with Duke and Ripcord who was presumed dead after an attack in Afghanistan went wrong. Rex hid in a bunker with Doctor Mindbender(Kevin O'Connor) and was severely disfigured by the blast. Doctor Mindbender told everything he knew about nanotechnology to Rex who went mad by the thought of the power. The Baroness, who is persuaded by Duke, tries to save him but is restrained. Rex then reveals that he has implanted her with nanites as well and that she has been under his control for the past four years. Rex is surprised that she is resisting after being controlled for so long. When McCullen tries to kill Duke and The Baroness his face becomes horribly burned and he flees the area with Rex to an escape submarine.

Meanwhile, Heavy Duty is leading an underwater assault against McCullen's super soldiers and his base. While Breaker and Scarlett are attempting to shut down the base, they successfully lead Ripcord to the other two missiles which he succeeds in destroying. While defending Scarlett and Breaker, Snake Eyes is confronted by Shadow Storm and the two face off, having been enemies since childhood. In the ensuing battle, Snake Eyes defeats Shadow Storm whose body falls into the icy water. Duke and The Baroness pursue Rex and McCullen in a small attack vessel. Rex sprays McCullen's burned face with nanites which develop into a steel mask at which point Rex dubs McCullen "Destro". While fleeing, Rex renames himself "Cobra Commander" and attempts to flee the base with Destro. Duke and The Baroness catch up with Cobra and Destro whose ship is far larger and more powerful than the small attack vessel Duke and The Baroness are in. When it seems that Cobra is going to destroy Duke and the Baroness, the entire G.I. Joe army emerges behind them and captures Cobra Commander and Destro. Duke and the rest of the team take refuge on the USS Flagg where The Baroness is placed under close security and medical care until all the nanites can be removed from her body.

Back in Washington, the President(Jonathan Pryce) is taking shelter in his bunker from the previous missile attack when Zartan emerges with the help of a mind-controlled Secret Service Agent. Zartan is revealed to have undergone facial reconstructive surgery from Rex to make him look exactly like the President. Zartan then take the President's place in the White House while Cobra Commander and Destro are locked in specialty jail cells in The Pit with cobra commander vowing to Duke and the rest of the Joes that the fight isn't over yet.

Taking one of the most beloved childhood toys of all time and turning it into a big screen motion picture like this can be tricky. The new trend in film making these days is making movies based on the entertainment we already love like comic books, toys and video games. This movie is based on a prequel type story to the comic books and cartoons from the earlier years of G.I. Joe. But you can not watch this movie and try to compare it to other stories because it just won't work. That being said, it is time to get into the pros and cons of this movie.

Despite other reviews on this movie, I actually enjoyed it and thought it was a great film. The main focus of this movie was without a doubt action. G.I. Joe is, in fact, a soldier toy so it make sense that the movie would be packed full of action and it was. There were tins of fight scenes, fast chases and huge explosions littered throughout the entire film. But this is to be expected from a series like G.I. Joe. This movie reminded me of a cartoon with actual people. One thing this movie didn't have going for it was some of the dialogue. At times the dialogue seemed a bit corny but again, G.I. Joe was a comic book and cartoon from the late 80's to mid 90's where corny dialogue was the "hip" thing to do. Some of the action and dialogue is what reminded me of a cartoon.

What I did like about this movie was the amount of characters they had in it. The main Joe team had 7 members and Cobra had 4 with his full army of super soldiers. Watching this movie with all the characters reminded me of what it was like playing with the toys when I was a kid which brought back many happy memories and made the movie more enjoyable. Other review will tell you that this movie lacked acting skills, depth and all that other "Emmy Nominated" banter, however, in a movie like G.I. Joe, none of that is necessary. Nobody makes G.I. Joe to win best new movie or best drama. It is made for the pure fun and adrenaline you get while watching it. Which is exactly what G.I. Joe does for you. This movie is like being a kid again. The corny dialogue and over-the-top action is what first drew people in to the cartoon and the comic book and that is what will draw people in to the movie. If you are a fan of the G.I. Joe comic book or t.v. show then you will undoubtedly be a fan of this movie.

The acting won't win any of the stars a "Best Performance" Emmy but that is hardly the point with this movie and the actors/actresses themselves didn't do that bad of a job. I don't really have any problems with any of the actors and I thought they all did a great job. This is definitely a movie for the true fans of G.I. Joe and is also one that may be able to draw in some new blood to the franchise like the new Star Trek movie did for it's fan base. One of the better Summer action movies, G.I. Joe is one you should go see, especially if you are already a fan of the show, comic books and toys. I give G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra 8.5 Accelerator Suits out of 10.

Friday, August 14, 2009

District 9

District 9 - review by ZackRelease Date: August 14th, 2009

Click here for the District 9 Trailer.

28 years ago an alien space craft landed over Johannesburg, South Africa. The craft floated in the sky with the human race waiting for first contact or even an attack. When nothing at all happened, the humans decided to cut their way into the ship and investigate. Inside the ship, the humans found millions of alien refugees starving and dying of malnutrition. The aliens appeared to be only workers with their leadership mysteriously gone. Seeing the terrible state the aliens were in, the humans decided to transport them from the ship to a special camp set up for them. At the camp the humans gave them shelter and food, with the aliens developing an addiction to cat food. The world's most powerful nations argued over what should become of the aliens and when patience ran out, they put the Multi-National United (MNU), a private weapons manufacturer, in charge of the aliens. The camp the aliens were in eventually became a fenced in slum with the aliens living shacks. The area, under heavy surveillance, became known as District 9.

MNU, who is in charge of the aliens, cares nothing for the safety or well being of the "Prawns", which is the derogatory term given to the aliens by the humans. The only thing MNU is interested in is the alien weaponry the Prawns brought with them. For years the humans have tried to used the alien technology to no avail. The humans can not use the alien weapons because the alien weapons only respond to alien DNA. If MNU can make the advanced weaponry work, they stand to make a tremendous profit. While MNU is working to figure out the weapons, the citizens of Johannesburg are becoming increasingly hostile towards the Prawns and the Prawns are starting to riot in the streets. When the citizens have had enough, they demand that the Prawns be moved. To comply with the demands of the people, MNU creates a team to serve eviction notices to the Prawns and force them to move to a new area, named District 10, which is located 240km outside of Johannesburg.

MNU field operative Wikus van der Merwe(Sharlto Copley) is put in charge of moving the 1.8 million Prawns to the new District 10. The legality of the eviction notice says that MNU must give the prawns 24 hrs notice before evicting them but MNU is trying to fool them and do it immediately. With help from a private military corporation working for MNU, Wikus goes into District 9 to begin the evictions. While evicting the residents of District 9, Wikus and his teams come across many illegal human and non-human weapon's caches hidden in the Prawn's shacks. While Wikus and his team are evicting the aliens, a Prawn named Christopher Johnson is searching through debris with his son Little CJ and Christopher's friend. Christopher is looking for any piece of alien debris that could house a special type of fluid they can use as a fuel source. Little CJ finds what they are looking for and the three of them go back to the friend's house to use it. While there the MNU agents arrive. Christopher tells his friend to hide the canister the fuel is in and to be polite to the agents so they don't get suspicious. When the Prawn answers the door he slams it in there faces which causes the MNU agents to break in and discover his "chemistry set" he was using to harness the fuel. While searching the shack, Wikus finds the canister. Believing it to not be a weapon, Wikus messes with it and accidentally releases the fluid directly in his face.

After the incident, Wikus became very ill and sustained a serious injury to his left arm. While back at work, Wikus starts to feel the effects of the incident more heavily. He starts having serious stomach cramps and some of his fingernails even start to fall off. When he returns home, he finds a surprise party celebrating his promotion ti head of the eviction team. while at the party, Wikus becomes even more sick and passes out. His wife takes him to the hospital where the doctors remove the bandage on his arm. when they do, it is revealed that Wikus' arm has transformed into a claw exactly like the Prawns have. MNU takes Wikus into custody and begins to perform tests on him. During the tests, it is revealed that Wikus can use the alien technology since his DNA is now infused with the alien DNA, making Wikus the most valuable human in the world. The scientists discover that Wikus' DNA is now in perfect harmony with the alien DNA and decide to cut him up and harvest him for biological material so they can attempt to replicate his ability to use the alien weapons. Before the scientists can begin, Wikus grabs a scalpel and takes a doctor hostage which allows him to escape.

On the run, Wikus goes to the one place he knows MNU won't go looking for him, District 9. While hiding out there, Wikus stumbles into the shack of Christopher. Christopher is initially unaccepting of Wikus and tells him to leave until he sees his arm. Christopher knows that Wikus' condition is a result of the device Wikus confiscated from Christopher's friend. Christopher tells Wikus that if he can get to the mothership then he can fix Wikus. But in order to do so he needs the cylinder that MNU now has in their laboratory. Wikus tells Christopher that going there is a suicide mission and leaves. That night, Wikus talks to his wife who tells him that she still loves him and still wants to be with him. After hearing his wife say this, Wikus is determined to fix his arm and return his life to normal. He goes back to Christopher and agrees to help him break into MNU but first they need weapons. Wikus goes to a local gang leader who was trading cat food to the Prawns in exchange for alien weapons. The gang leader is trying everything he can to get alien DNA so he can use the weapons and take over Johannesburg. Wikus offers to pay for the weapons but when the gang leader sees his arm he becomes infatuated with it. He believes the only way to get the alien powers is to eat Wikus' arm. When the gang tries to kill Wikus, he grabs an alien gun and fights his way out, taking more weapons with him.

When he returns to Christopher, the two of them stage their assault on MNU. They blast there way into the building and head down to the lower levels where the lab is. When there they begin looking for the device when Christopher sees how MNU has been chopping up his people and using them as experiments. When the security force comes down to kill Wikus and Christopher, the two blast their way out. When they get back to Christopher's shack, Christopher reveals a ship that is buried under his shack and tells Wikus that it is the way he is going to get up to the mothership. However, Christopher says that it will take around three years for him to fix Wikus, saying he needs to save his people first year. Outraged by the amount of time it will take, Wikus knocks out Christopher and goes into the ship with Little CJ. Wikus, using his alien arm, flies the ship out of the ground while the MNU army force comes to arrest them. The security force shoots one of the engines off of the craft, forcing it to crash. The security team begins to move to that location as the gang in District 9 does the same. A huge firefight breaks out between the security force and the gang members with the gang members capturing Wikus and taking him back to their boss. While there, Little CJ takes remote control of a mechanized battle suit and frees Wikus who enters the suit and goes to find Christopher. Christopher is about to be killed by the security team until Wikus attacks them telling Christopher to go to little CJ and the shuttle while he fends off the attackers. A tractor beam lifts little CJ, Christopher and the disabled shuttle into the mother ship as Wikus' mech suit is disabled and Wikus is released from it.

As Wikus crawls away he watches the mothership slowly start to fly away while the security chief approaches ready to kill Wikus. As he stands over Wikus, four Prawns, seeing what Wikus did, emerge from the shacks and tear apart the security chief, allowing Wikus to escape. The last known footage of Wikus is the scene of the security officer's death captured by security cameras set up in District 9. Christopher leaves in the mothership with Little CJ promising that in three years he will return for Wikus so he can help him become human again.

It is surprising that a movie made by a director/writer that not many people have heard of and starring a cast full of actors and actresses that nobody really knows would be one of the best movies of the summer. In fact, the only big name attached to this film was the name of producer Peter Jackson (Lord of the Rings). This film is based off of the short film Alive in Joburg which was also directed by Neil Blomkamp, Sharlto Copley, Simon Hansen and Shanon Worley. If there is one thing this movie has it is originality and uniqueness. We have all seen alien movies in the past but this one is unlike anything ever attempted.

This differs from most alien movies in several key factors. First of all it takes place in South Africa where the ship landed. A majority of alien films take place in big American cities like New York, L.A. or Washington D.C. They even make a point in the movie to mention how most people would expect the ship to land in one of those places. Another way it differs is the circumstances by which the aliens arrive. They arrive as refugees, starving and on the verge of death. There is no first contact or war or anything. This movie also differs in the treatment of the aliens. The aliens are set up in a concentration camp-style housing situation and are treated like second class citizens. This movie brings an entirely new meaning to the term racism. The aliens, for the most part, just try to make it through their lives but the humans treat them like animals. It really added to the originality of the movie. In almost all alien films, the aliens are higher beings and are portrayed to be so much more wise and better than the humans. However in this film, they were beneath humans. In some ways, the aliens acted just like humans in the way they lived and talked. It seemed sometimes the only difference was how they looked.

The way this movie was shot was also very unique. The beginning of the film was set out to be a documentary/interview following Wikus van der Merwe and his eviction of the aliens from District 9. It had shaky camera angles and realistic actions as if an actual person was holding the camera. It reminded me a lot of movies like Cloverfield and Quarantine, both of which had the same feel to them. Once Wikus escaped and was on the run, the camera switched to a more stationary angle.

The main genre of this movie is a sci-fi drama. However, it adds in a bit of humor and a lot of action towards the second half of the film. From the trailers, you really do not know what to expect from District 9. You think it is just about alien abuse and how humans are dealing with aliens however the nice twist thrown in gives you more than you were expecting and possibly leaves room for a sequel. The biggest problem people will have with this movie is the beginning. The movie starts off very slow which could deter you and make you loose interest before the great aspects of the film can take hold of you. If I can give you any piece of advice on seeing this move it would be to watch all of it and give it a chance. If you do you will experience a film whose originality and unique theme is something that does not come along very often.

This truly was an incredible film. The aliens looked very realistic in how they reacted with the environment and other things in the world. It really seemed like an actual documentary about real aliens living amongst us. A brave film indeed and one that took a big risk. But with big risks comes big rewards and District 9 is already well on it's way to becoming the most popular and best movie of the summer. I give District 9 10 Alien Concentration Camps out of 10

Monday, August 10, 2009

(500) Days of Summer

(500) Days of Summer - review by ZackRelease Date: July 17th, 2009

Click here for the (500) Days of Summer Trailer.

Tom Hanson(Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is a young man working for a greeting card company. Tom's life is mediocre with hanging out with his roommates and going to karaoke clubs comprising a good portion of his day to day life. Tom doesn't have a bad life, just a normal, uneventful, unexciting one. But all that changes when Tom is in a typical meeting at work. While in the meeting, Tom's boss Vance(Clark Gregg) introduces his new assistant Summer Finn(Zooey Deschanel). From first glance, Tom is infatuated with Summer. Tom believes in true love, love at first site, and all the other things that go along with it and believes that he has found the girl of his dreams in Summer. Tom wants to make an approach on Summer until his roommate and co-worker McKenzie(Geoffrey Arend) tells him that Summer is unapproachable, that the last guy in the office to do it couldn't even get a second look. At this news, Tom becomes irritated and decides to put Summer behind him until the two bump in to each other on the elevator where they exchange conversation about liking the band Smiths. At this instant, To believes Summer to be "the one".

Tom spends the next two weeks trying to initiate something between him and Summer with most of his attempts ending in an awkward fail. When all seems lost, McKenzie tells Tom about an after work party at a local karaoke bar where the entire office is going, including Summer. Tom arrives at the bar to find McKenzie on stage singing. While watching Tom is approached by Summer, who is happy he decided to come. The two begin talking until Summer is called up on stage to sing. Afterward Summer gets Tom a little drunk and convinces him to get up and sing to which he agrees. After he is done, the three of them sit down and talk about life, relationships and love which Tom and Summer disagree on. Tom believes that there is such a thing as love where Summer doesn't believe in it. The two agree to disagree and decide to leave. While Tom is helping a very drunk McKenzie into a cab, McKenzie bursts out to Summer that Tom likes her. After some persuading from Summer, Tom reveals that he does in fact like her but tacks on an "as friends" to the end of it. Summer tells Tom that she thinks he is very interesting and leaves Tom on the sidewalk. The next day at work, Summer and Tom are in the copy room together when Summer kisses Tom. The two passionately kiss until Summer's copies are finished at which point she just leaves him there by himself.

The two begin spending a lot of time together, going around and having fun in the city with Summer sharing some of her most intimate secrets with Tom and Tom taking Summer to his favorite spot in the city. While there, Tom explains to Summer how he was studying to become an architect until he ran out of money and had to quit school and get a job at the card company to sustain himself. One day, as the two walk around Ikea, they begin to play and joke as if they were a married couple in the many Ikea show rooms. When the two fall in a bed together the two go to kiss when Summer tells Tom that she isn't looking for anything serious. They go back to Tom's apartment and start making out in Tom's bed when Tom excuses himself to the bathroom. While in there, Tom reassures himself that it is just casual fun and to take things slow. But things change when he comes out of the bathroom to find Summer naked in his bed. The next day, Tom has a new skip in his step and feels like life couldn't get any better.

Things start going well for a few weeks until Summer and Tom are at a bar where a slightly drunk man approaches the two and starts hitting on Summer. Summer makes it clear to the man that she is not interested which he doesn't believe. When Tom interjects, the man begins to laugh and can not believe that she is dating Tom. Tom gets up and punches the guy in the face. Tom then flashes an awkward smile at Summer before the man gets up and beats up Tom. The two go back to Summer's apartment where Summer yells at Tom saying he wasn't acting cool at all and that the only reason he hit that guy was for himself. Tom begins arguing back saying he did that for her and that even though she doesn't want to label things that they are in a relationship and that the things they do with each other isn't just a friendship. When they are done Tom storms out in anger. While the two at at their respective apartments, Tom debates calling Summer but decides against it. Summer comes to his apartment where she apologizes for everything. The two have a long discussion about their past relationships and the two seem happy.

Over the next few weeks, things start to get good again. Tom and Summer start hanging out more and they go to the movies. While at the movies seeing The Graduate, Summer begins to cry at the scene where Dustin Hoffman and Katherine Ross flee their wedding and their looks of joy and excitement slowly fade. After the movie, Summer tells Tom that she is tired and wants to sleep but Tom convinces her to go get pancakes with him. While at the restaurant, Summer tells Tom that they should stop seeing each other. Taken aback by this sudden statement, Tom asks why they should if they are both so happy. Summer explains that she isn't happy and as the pancakes come, Tom gets up and leaves as Summer yells for him to stop saying that they are still best friends. Tom returns to his apartment where he begins breaking his plates over the counter in a catatonic state. His friends call the only person they could think of to help, Tom's little sister Rachel(Chloe Moretz). Rachel rides her bike to Tom's apartment where she sits him down and tells him to explain to her what is going on. Tom recounts the breakup with Summer and explains vehemently that he doesn't want to get over her but to get her back.

As his depressed state worsens, his work becomes affected. Tom's boss calls him into his office one day asking him if everything is ok and asking if his recent state as anything to do with Summer leaving. Tom denies that it has anything to do with Summer to which his boss interjects saying that everybody in the office knew about them. As the months pass, one of Tom's co-workers is getting married. On the train to the wedding, Tom passes Summer, who is in the same car. Tom pretends not to notice Summer who notices him and walks up to talk to him. The two begin talking and go into one of the cars to have coffee. Tom and Summer spend the entire weekend together and Tom asks Summer to dance at the wedding. She agrees and the two have a very romantic night together. The next day, Summer invites Tom to a party at her apartment buildings roof. Tom agrees, hopeful that this will reunite them. While on his way to the party, Tom is imagining his dream night and hoping to match it up to reality.

At the party, Tom quickly realizes that his dream night is nowhere in site. Summer barely talks to him and Tom's only company seems to be a bottle of alcohol. But things get worse when Tom sees Summer showing one of her friends an engagement ring and introducing her fiance. Furious, Tom leaves without a word. Tom spends the next five days staying in his apartment like a zombie, only leaving one time to buy orange juice, Twinkies, and Jack Daniels. By the time Tom returns to work, it is time for the weekly meeting. Halfway through the meeting of presentations for new card ideas, Tom realizes that his beliefs on love, life and relationships is wrong. He stands up and delivers a passionate speech about how the company he works for is feeding people lies about how life and love is. After his speech, Tom quits and leaves as the room is left stunned. As his depression worsens, Rachel tells Tom to seriously look back on his and Summer's relationship[p and to notice the bad things.

After this, Tom begins to take up architecture again, trashing his apartment and using his walls as a canvas. Tom creates a portfolio of work and a list of prospective firms to show his designs to. Tom looses hope as he is slowly denied by each firm until only a handful of firms are left. To clear his head, Tom goes to his favorite part in the city. As he is gazing out on the city he is approached by Summer. Summer compliments Tom on his wardrobe and tells him that she realizes that he is angry. Tom confesses to Summer that all his ideas on life, relationships and love were wrong to which Summer disagrees, telling him that the girl who didn't want to be anyone's girlfriend is now somebody's wife. She tells Tom that with her husband, she is sure of what she never was with Tom: if she loved him or not. Summer holds Tom's hand before telling him that she has to go. Tom tells her that he is happy that she is happy but makes it a point not to congratulate her on her marriage to which she smiles and leaves.

As Tom sits in the waiting room of his next interview he sees a girl sitting across from him. She asks tom if they have met, swearing that she knows him from somewhere. Tom denies knowing her, having never seen her before. The girl suddenly remembers that she has seen Tom at his favorite spot in the city which is coincidentally her favorite spot. The two joke with each other hoping that the other will not get the job. As Tom goes in to the interview, he pauses and walks back to the girl asking her if she wants to get some coffee after the interview. The girl says no, stating she is already meeting someone. However, as Tom turns to walk away, the girl changes her mind and agrees to go with him, stating they will work out the details later. Tom introduces himself while the girl reveals her name to be Autumn.

I did not initially want to see this movie when I first saw things about it, but the power of a woman is strong and I ended up seeing it. Much to my surprise, I really really enjoyed this movie. I was most impressed with the performance by Joseph Gordon-Levitt, who has been on a bit of a major movie hiatus in recent years. This film does something that most romantic films can not do and that is accurately display what appears to be an actual relationship. First of all, the chemistry between Zooey Deschanel and Joseph Gordon-Levitt was remarkably realistic. It actually felt as if you were watching the lives of two actual people unfold before you as opposed to two actors in a movie.

This film, I think, is as close to real life as you can get without making a horrible reality show. There was nothing flashy about the lives of the characters, no big mystery in their lives, no big climactic shocker in the end, just two people living life as it typically is. This movie really made you want the relationship between the characters to succeed but at the same time made you understand if it didn't. This was one romantic comedy that actually took the term to heart.

If I could explain this movie in one word, I might say things like quirky, cute, delightful, warm, cozy etc...Probably the best thing about this movie was that it was different from all the other movies out today that tend to focus on crude humor, sex, foul language and insane antics to draw a crowd. This movie draws it's audience with exceptional acting and wonderful story telling. It also had an interesting way of showing the story to the audience. The plot revolves around Gordon-Levitt's character and his 500 day relationship with Deschanel's character. However, instead of going day by day in chronological order, showing how the relationship fell apart, director Marc Webb jumps from the early days of the relationship with the couple being very happy and enjoying life to the latter days with Gordon-Levitt's character slipping into depression and becoming more upset with life. Webb bridged the day changes with a little animated interval showing the day number with the backdrop of a city drawing either in bright happy colors or dark black and whites depending on the day. It was this transaction between days that made the movie interesting to watch. You would see one of the many happy days and then be transported to the depression times wondering what happened along the way which causes you to stick around to find out. This style makes the movie interesting, not to mention an omnipresent narrator who pops in from time to time to explain what is going on if you are confused, which you shouldn't be because the plot is simple enough to follow.

This really was a very enjoyable film. It is a love story that everybody can relate to and one that appeals to people of all ages. It also does a great job of not bogging you down with a sappy love story throughout the entire movie by adding in a nice blend of comedy. This movie just made me feel good. I left the theater in a good mood and the rest of my day was good as well. I think this film will get underrated by most people because it doesn't have any really big names tagged onto it. While Zooey Deschanel is a very popular actress and Joseph Gordon-Levitt has had a good career, they don't raise the same kind of fame as some of the other stars in recent movies to come out. However, if this film does get over looked by viewers, then they are the ones that are missing out. This is one of those hidden gems that everybody should go see. I give (500) Days of Summer 9 Greeting cards out of 10

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Funny People

Funny People - review by ZackRelease Date: July 31st, 2009

Click here for the Funny People Trailer.

George Simmons(Adam Sandler) is a highly successful stand-up comedian who branched off to make a slew of funny and famous movies. Everything seems to be going god for George until he goes in for a check-up at his doctor's office. While there, George learns that he has a rare blood disease that is like leukemia which is killing him. The disease is past the point of surgery or chemotherapy but the doctor prescribes some experimental medication. The medication only has an 8% success rate which doesn't give George much hope. George goes home and slips into a depression, reflecting on his life and how truly unhappy he was with it. George finds solace in old videos of his stand-up performances and decides to go back to the small clubs he once performed at.

Ira Wright(Seth Rogen) is a struggling stand-up comedian who works at a local deli to make money. Ira shares an apartment with his friends Leo(Jonah Hill), who is a stand-up comedian enjoying a little more success than Ira, and Mark(Jason Schwartzman) who is an actor on a semi-popular t.v. show called Yo Teach!. While Ira is at a comedy club he is excited to learn that one of the acts didn't show up so Ira gets 10 minuets on stage. As he is about to go on, George Simmons shows up and Ira gets bumped. George delivers a humorous set but slowly makes it darker and more depressing the longer he goes on, which doesn't go over well with the crowd. Ira performs after George and experiences his own difficulties with the crowd but manages to raise some laughs by making fun of George's set. When Ira leaves the club he notices George is parked next to him so close that Ira can't get into his car. When Ira goes to ask George to move, George tells Ira that he is funny and drives away in a furry almost hitting Ira, who doesn't realize that George was being rude to him, thinking it was just George trying to be funny.

The next day, George calls Ira and says he liked Ira's set and that he also liked Leo's jokes, who performed before George. George asks Ira and Leo to both right jokes for him. Ira immediately agrees but lies to George and tells him that Leo is busy and doesn't want to do it. George picks up Ira and takes him to a MySpace event. George asked Ira to write him some jokes about MySpace so he could use them at the show. While at the show, George tells Ira to open for him. Ira, o didn't write any jokes for himself, ends up using the MySpace jokes he wrote for George which angers George. Both comedians get good reviews from the crowd and George decides to hire Ira as a full time assistant and joke writer. The two go back to George's house where they party with some girls before George asks Ira to talk him to sleep.

In the morning, George tells Ira about his condition explaining that he only told Ira because he doesn't know him well. George then tells Ira not to tell anybody but Ira ends up telling his roommates Leo and Mark anyways. The two begin working on their stand-up routines and going to different clubs with Ira opening for George. Ira begins to become more comfortable on stage while writing jokes for George. George begins to feel the impact of his sickness and the medication and tells Ira he needs to go to the doctor right away. The doctor takes some samples of George's blood and informs George that they will have his results in a few days. Afterward George and Ira go to a restaurant where Ira breaks down and starts crying, telling George that he needs to tell other people about his sickness. George reluctantly agrees inviting friends like Andy Dick and Paul Reiser to talk. George even invites his sister and his divorced parents over, whom he hasn't had much contact with over the years. George is shocked when his ex-fiance, Laura(Leslie Mann) arrives at his house to see him. Laura broke it off with George when she found out he was cheating on her. The two talk and George learns of Laura's two daughters, Ingrid and Mable, and of her husband of 12 years, Clarke(Eric Bana), an Australian salesman. Like George, Clarke is also cheating on Laura which has made Laura's life miserable.

Ira invites George to Thanksgiving dinner at his apartment with Leo, Mark and the cast of Yo Teach!. George begins mingling with the guests and then asks Leo why he was too busy to write jokes for him which causes Leo to go off on Ira. The two have a heated argument which George calms down before they eat. Afterward, Mark offers Leo a role on Yo Teach! which Leo takes out of spite to make Ira mad. The next day George and Ira go to the doctor who has the results of George's blood work. The doctor reminds George that there is an 8% success rate with the medication and that George is now in the 8% group. The doctor said there were no traces of the disease in George's blood but also tells him not to get over confident because there is a chance the disease could show up again. Ira is floored by the good news while George, who was ready to die, is unsure about what he wants to do with his life. George realizes that he wants to take a break from movies and wants to settle down and have a long term relationship. George calls Laura but can't bring himself to tell her about his health improvement.

George and Ira travel to San Francisco to perform at the Orpheum. George invites Laura who goes back stage before the show to see George who again can not bring himself to tell her he is better. George tells Ira that he has to tell her during the intermission between George and Ira's set. Ira reluctantly agrees and tells Laura about George during intermission. Laura is speechless and confronts George after the show telling him that she was happy and invites both him and Ira back to her house. While there, they meet Laura's daughter's and the whole group has a good time together. Laura tells Ira that she and George are going to buy groceries so she can cook for them. When they leave the house Laura drags George into the guest where they have sex. While in the guest house, George shows Laura a collage reel of all her acting performances and brings out a pair of jeans that Laura used to love. They two go back into the house and are confronted by Ira who asks why they don't have any groceries. Laura tells him that she decided to order pizza. Ira immediately sees through the lie and confronts George about them having sex. George tells the truth and Ira becomes extremely nervous believing that Clarke is going to come and kill them.

While the group is waiting for the pizza Clarke unexpectedly comes home and surprises the group, leading to an awkward first encounter. Clarke insists that Ira and George stay for dinner. Laura tells George and Ira that they have to keep pretending that George is sick because that is the only reason Clarke likes George and if he finds out he isn't sick he will get suspicious. After dinner, Clarke believes that George and Ira are too drunk to drive home and insists that they stay in the guest house. The next morning, George and Ira get ready to leave and say their goodbyes to the family. Clarke gives George a tearful hug goodbye when Ingrid and Mable, who were told earlier by Ira, tell Clarke that George isn't sick anymore. Clarke then confronts Laura about it and suspects her of cheating on him. Laura then confronts Clarke about cheating on her and Clarke storms off to the airport. Laura tells Ira and George that she is going to go to the airport later and tell Clarke to find a new place to lie when he comes back from his trip. Laura starts planning on being with George and Ira insists on the two of them leaving, telling George that his happiness isn't worth breaking up the family. George becomes angry with Ira and threatens to fire him and Ira shuts up.

Laura drive to the airport intending to break it off with Clarke but the Clarke wants to give their marriage another shot and the two make up. Ira tells George he is going to buy some cigarettes but instead goes to the airport to stop Laura from ending it with Clarke. When he sees them making up, Ira attempts to sneak away but is caught by Clarke. Ira tells them the truth and Clarke realizes that George is at his house with Ingrid and Mable and vows to kill him. Laura yells at Ira for screwing things up and tells him to get out of her life. Clarke finds George watching t.v. with the girls and tells him to go outside where he begins to attack George. During the fight Ira jumps in to help George who intentionally punches Ira in the face calling him a backstabber and a snitch. After the fight, George begs Laura to tell Clarke that she loves him more, but Laura refuses. Clarke then thinks that all this trouble is his fault and that it is karma for the way he has been acting. Clarke apologizes to George and him and Laura go back into the house. On their way back to Los Angeles, George becomes infuriated with Ira and ends up actually firing him. Ira gets mad at George and tells him that he has learned absolutely nothing from his near-death experience and is still the same miserable person he was before got sick.

Back at his apartment, Mark offers Ira a spot on Yo Teach! if one ever comes up, but Ira declines and goes back to work at the deli he worked at before. George and Ira bump into each other at a comedy club a few weeks later and George watches Ira, now more comfortable on stage. George arrives at the deli the next day and asks Ira to take a break and talk with him. George tells Ira that even though he isn't sick anymore, he still needs to drastically change his attitude. In a show of good spirits and a willingness to change, George gives Ira some jokes that he wrote that he thinks will help Ira's routine on stage.

Funny People is the third film from funny man director Judd Apatow(Knocked Up, The 40-Year-Old Virgin) and it is definitely one of his better films. Apatow does a brave and complicated thing with this movie. He takes multiple funny comedians and actors that are known for their over-the-top antics and puts them in a funny yet surprisingly sad and serious film. Sandler plays the perfect role of a comedian turned famous actor faced with the looming prospect of death. The character of George Simmons seemed to be custom tailored to mirror Sandler's life. Sandler himself was a stand-up comedian who gained fame and became a productive actor which is exactly same as his character George Simmons. Apatow and Sandler also did an interesting yet effective thing by adding actual footage of Sandler doing stand-up at various points in his life which was coordinated into the film nicely.

However, Sandler wasn't alone in this movie. He was supported by a cast filled with comedic geniuses and all around funny actors. I really enjoyed Seth Rogen's character who, for the first time, didn't play a burnt out stoner. Rogen showed that his acting abilities went further than portraying the typical pot smoking loser and that he could handle a role that required more of his acting skills. Sandler and Rogen seemed to have a good chemistry between them. Their respective characters seemed to fit well together with one being the star struck, struggling comedian and the other being a sort of inspirational figure to the other. And even though they only played minor parts, the roles of Jason Schwartzman and Jonah Hill were also very good. Their parts really added to the down and out sense of Rogen's character, especially with Schwartzman flaunting his big paycheck and semi-celebrity status in front of Rogen all the time.

But what I really liked most about this movie was how Apatow took these really funny actors and made a serious movie with them. Typically when one thinks of an Adam Sandler movie, films like Happy Gilmore, Billy Madison, or The Waterboy come to mind. All of these movies have one thing in common and that is Sandler's performance. In a majority of his movies Sandler plays a hysterically over-the-top character who is fueled by energetic and crazy outbursts. However, it seems that Sandler is attempting to broaden his repertoire by tackling more serious roles.

This film is deceiving in the sense that from the previews you think it is going to be another typical Adam Sandler movie. However when you watch it you get so much more than that. While Sandler's traditional goofiness is prevalent throughout the film, we also get a taste of the more serious side of Sandler which is where I think this movie really excels. Sandler does an incredible job of making the audience break down and feel for his character. His loneliness, his desperate love for the girl who got away and the looming threat of death are all aspects that Sandler really does a great job in portraying. It is definitely a new and refreshing side to the actor that we have only see in maybe one or two other movies.

This movie is a must see. Rogen and Sandler have a great chemistry and the supporting cast really play their roles with conviction. Apatow is proving that he knows how to direct and even shows that he can direct big name stars as well as he can to the lesser known ones. If you are a fan of Adam Sandler, Seth Rogen, Judd Apatow, or any of the other great actors/actresses than Funny People is sure to tickle your liking. Definitely one of Sandler's best films. I give Funny People 8 Scary German Accents out of 10.