Thursday, December 23, 2010

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader

Release Date: December 10th, 2010

Click here for The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader Trailer

Lucy Pevensie (Georgie Henley) and her older brother Edmund (Skandar Keynes) are the last of the Pevensie children to remain in Europe as their older siblings Peter (William Moselye) and Susan (Anna Popplewell) are away in America. Lucy and Peter are forced to live with their dreadful cousin Eustace Scrubb (Will Poulter), a smart, annoying boy who despises Lucy and Edmund and their stories of Narnia, stories which Eustace does not believe at all.

While the three children are arguing one day, water begins pouring out of a painting on the wall and fills the children's room up with water, transporting Lucy, Edmund and Eustace to Narnia. There they are picked up by the Dawn Treader, the greatest ship in the Narnian fleet. The ship is led by Caspian (Ben Barnes) who is now the King of Narnia. Caspian informs Lucy and Edmund that he is in search of the seven lost Lords of Narnia, who his uncle banished when he usurped the Narnian throne.

Edmund and Lucy's journey will take them to places they have never been before and will have them face foes they have never imagined. The gang will find themselves in Aslan's land and will face such threats as sea snakes and a terrible green mist that slavers sacrifice people to. This test will surely be the greatest one Lucy and Edmund have ever faced.

The third movie in the Narnia series sees the return of Skander Keynes and Georgie Henley, who reprise their roles as Edmund and Lucy Pevensie, the youngest of the four Pevensie children. Also returning from the last movie is Ben Barnes as Caspian, Simon Pegg as the voice of Reepicheep, the swashbuckling mouse, and Liam Neeson as the voice of Aslan, the lion. A new character also joins the ranks, Will Poulter who plays Eustace Scrubb, the annoying cousin of Lucy and Edmund

A lot of people liked this movie better than the previous one, The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian. Many fans thought the previous movie was boring. This one, however, was anything but boring. It had a lot of action as well as a deep story line that brought out the true characters in everybody involved.

When I first saw reviews for this film, I was a little skeptical. I saw that only the younger two Pevensie children were in this film and, to be honest, I always found them to be particularly annoying in the other films. However, I was thouroughly surprised and pleased with their performances and how they have matured, both as actors and as characters.

I was pleased with the action in this movie as well. Keynes and Barnes were both very good with their action scenes and I loved seeing Henley get in on some of the fighting. She was always so useless when it came to fighting in the other films, so it was nice to see this change of pace for her.

Old characters aside, there were a lot of new characters in this film. First off is Will Poulter who plays Eustace Scrubb, the younger cousin of Edmund and Lucy. Although his character was younger, I loved how "grown up" he was. He talked like a well educated adult and acted like a prissy, always-follows-the-rules type of person which was a nice contract to the magical, carefree and childlike attitudes of the other characters. Another new character is Reepicheep. While the character is not necessarily new, the person who does his voice is. Simon Pegg (Shaun of the Dead, Star Trek) portrays the swashbuckling mouse instead of Eddie Izzard and Bill Nighy who portrayed the character in the other films.

I felt like this movie had a lot more going for it. There was a lack of major battle scenes like in the first two films, but there were a lot of little fight scenes sprinkled throughout the entire film. There also seemed to be more plot and more underlying themes. Everybody knows that these movies are based on the novel series by C.S. Lewis and that Lewis is known for his symbolism related to Christianity that he places in the novels. The movie did a good job of staying true to that area of the novels. The plot was also much better than the last one. It seemed to have more meaning and it also seemed to really portray the struggles faced by Edmund, Lucy, Caspian and Eustace.
Overall, this movie was very good. I was pleased with the progression of character for both Keynes and Henley, and I thought all the other characters were great too. Barnes did a great job portraying Caspian, and Poutler was a great new addition as Eustace. The plot was definitely more engaging and more intense, and it can really grab the attention of the audience and hold it until the very end. If you loved the first two Narnia movies and you loved the novels, then you will not want to miss this one, especially considering that it is the last movie to feature any of the Pevensie children.

I give The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader 8.5 Creepy Green Mists that Like to Kidnap Slaves out of 10.

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Saturday, November 20, 2010

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1

Release Date: November 19th, 2010

Click here for the Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 Trailer.

Following the death of his friend and Headmaster of Hogwarts Albus Dumbledore (Michael Gambon) at the hands of Professor, and Death Eater, Severus Snape (Alan Rickman), Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe) decides to drop out of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry in his final year in order to complete the mission entrusted to him by Dumbledore: finding the remaining horcruxes that Lord Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes) created to hold pieces of soul, essentially making him immortal.

Accompanied by his two closest friends, Ron Weasley (Rupert Grint) and Hermione Granger (Emma Watson), Harry sets off across the many places where Voldemort could have hidden his horcruxes. But things quickly spiral out of control when, in a daring move, Voldemort kills Minister of Magic Rufus Scrimgeour (Bill Nighy) and takes over the Ministry of Magic as well as Hogwarts, appointing Death Eaters Pius Thicknesse (Guy Henry) and Severus Snape as Minister of Magic and Headmaster of Hogwarts, respectively.

With the ministry under Voldemort's control, Harry, Ron and Hermione must go into hiding as Harry has been deemed Undesirable No. 1 by the ministry, who has placed a 10,000 Galleon bounty on the boy wizard. With the only person able to stand up to Voldemort on the run and Voldemort's forces growing stronger, it is only a matter of time before the dark lord reveals himself to the wizarding world, taking control of everything. If he is to be defeated, Harry, Ron and Hermione must find the remaining horcruxes and destroy them, before all they know is lost.

The highly anticipated film adaptation to the final chapter in J.K. Rowling's epic masterpiece has finally arrived.....well, the first part at least. That's right, the final book in the Harry Potter series has been deemed so epic that it was forced to be split into two separate movies, the first which was just released and the second set to be released in July of 2011.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 is the first half of the two part series set to round out the Harry Potter franchise. The film sees our main trio of characters on the run from Voldemort's forces while trying to destroy the dark lord's remaining horcruxes, objects into which Voldemort has placed pieces of his soul.

Anybody who has read all the books, or even just seen all of the films, has seen how as each book or movie comes out, the feel and the theme of them have gotten progressively darker, especially in the previous film, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (who could forget the dramatic death of Albus Dumbledore?). Well, this one proves to be the darkest film yet and is definitely not one for the younger Harry fans out there.

This film is definitely dark with a lot of sad and even depressing themes to it. For the first time in the series the main setting is not the safety and security of Hogwarts. Instead, our trusty trio takes to the hills for their journey, one which holds the fate of both the wizard and muggle worlds in the balance. This change of scenery is a much needed break from the traditional halls of Hogwarts Castle. For me it added a sense of realism. It also helped to show just how far our characters have grown since we first laid eyes upon them in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone.

When I say that this film is darker than the others, I mean it. There is a lot of drama in this film. With all that is going on around them and the weight and severity of the mission they have set out upon you can really get a sense of how serious things are for our three wizards.

Taking one book and making it into two movies is no easy task but director David Yates does a great job of finding the perfect cutoff point (Chapter 24 for those reading the book) and leaving fans with a huge cliffhanger and probably more anticipation for the next film than is needed.

There isn't a whole lot of action in this film as many may expect from the previews. There are about four or five mini-fight scenes in the film that help keep pace and are very exciting to watch. However, I find that this film wanted to focus more on developing the characters and the drama as well as the story than action. And that is exactly what Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 does.

With this film you really get a sense of dread and despair that the characters are feeling. You can really feel the weight and importance of their decisions and how they will affect everybody around them. I love how through this movie you can really come to terms with who these characters have become and how grown up they have become through the course of these films. This film is so much darker than the other six that it may be a bit too intense for some of the younger fans of the series. There is definitely a more adult feel to this film, mainly because our characters are, in fact, adults.

Some fans of the series may find this film to be a tad on the boring side, reminiscent of the last film in the series, which many fans were less than impressed with. However, fans of the book will understand the direction this film takes and will remember that the whole of the action will take place in the second installment of the film.

As far as following the book goes, the film stays pretty close to the subject matter. There were things here and there that were left out that I, as a huge fan of the book, would have loved to see in the film, but I understand that they were not crucial points. On the other hand, there were instances in the movie that only people who have read the book may comprehend. For instance, the scene in the film where the gang infiltrates the ministry in order to capture one of the horcruxes felt a bit rushed and thrown in there. And many people may be a little confused about what is going on if they haven't read the books. There were a few parts like that in the movie but for the most part, everything seemed to flow quite nicely.

As far as the acting goes, this film was the best yet. It has really been cool to see how these main actors have grown up throughout the films and to see how far they have come in their acting careers. This movie strays away, for the most part, from the lightheartedness that was key in the other films, and the actors take it in stride. Daniel, Rupert and Emma really show their range in this film which takes the characters down whole new roads.

Overall I thoroughly enjoyed this film. It was not my favorite out of the series but it definitely added a lot to the plot and added a great deal of depth to the characters we have come to know and love. While some fans may find it a bit boring, true fans of the book will love it. The movie leaves you with an epic cliffhanger, so to speak, and makes anticipation for the next film that much more intense.

If you haven't seen this film yet and you are a true Harry Potter fan ,then you must see it. Growing up with these characters makes this feel less like a movie and more like a part of life. While I wished they had kept a few things from the book, I can honestly say that Yates stayed true to J.K. Rowling's subject matter. Definitely one of the best in the series.

I give Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 9 Horcruxes out of 10.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Paranormal Activity 2

Release Date: October 22nd, 2010

Click Here for the Paranormal Activity 2 Trailer.

Kristi (Sprauge Grayden) and Dan Rey (Brian Boland) come home from vacation to find their home burglarized. Every single room in the house is trashed but the only thing that appears to be stolen is a necklace that Kristi's sister Katie (Katie Featherston) had given her. To prevent any further disturbances, Dan installs security cameras all over the house in order to keep an eye on every room. When mysterious "disturbances" start to plague the family, Dan's daughter Ali (Molly Ephraim) begins investigating with a hand held camera.

When Kristi and Katie talk about how they were tormented as children by "something" things begin to get out of hand. Kristi begins to feel personally attacked by whatever is in the house and her and Dan's new baby boy, Hunter, begins to be at risk as well. When the baby is mysteriously taken out of its crib by an unseen force and Kristi is viciously dragged out of the baby's room and into the basement Dan finally starts to believe the stories Ali has been telling him.

Dan tries to figure out a way to get rid of the "spirit" tormenting his family any way he can before everything he holds dear, Kristi, Hunter and even Ali, are hurt or worse, killed, by whatever it is that is terrorizing this family.

I love horror movies but I must admit that there isn't really a whole lot that can scare me. Michael Myers, Jason, Freddy, none of these "monsters" can really make me bat an eyelash. What does, however, get my spine tingling is anything that has to deal with demons, demon possession or the devil. The thought of somebody being "occupied" by some otherwordly force that has powers beyond imagination is quite literally terrifying. And seeing somebody physically effected by something nobody can see is just as bad.

That is why Paranormal Activity 2 was an instant hit in my book. The film follows the story of a family terrorized by what appears to be a demon bent on nothing but destroying this family. Like its predecessor, Paranormal Activity 2 is shot a little differently. Reminiscent of the Blair Witch Project style of shooting, the first film was shot using a hand held camera whereas the second used a mix of hand held camera and installed security cameras.

I feel that this style of cinematography adds an extra "creepy" feel to the entire film. It makes it feel more real. It is this style of shooting that is one of the key factors that makes this movie scary.

This film isn't really a sequel, and it isn't entirely a prequel either. The best way I can describe it is that 3/4 of the film is a prequel and 1/4 is a sequel/continuation. You definitely need to watch Paranormal Activity in order to fully understand what is happening in Paranormal Activity 2. Also, Paranormal Activity 2 explains a whole lot in the plot of the first film. By the time this one ends, everything about the first film will make sense.

The scares in this film were definitely freaky though the pacing was a little off. I felt like I spent a lot of the movie waiting for something big to happen. However, when those moments finally came they were well worth the wait. The big scares in this film were definitely terrifying. There were even a few scenes involving the baby that made me want to scream out at the screen in defense.

With any sequel/prequel/parallel/whatever movie you generally find yourself comparing it to the other one. In most cases one is way better than the other. Not the case here though. Neither one of these films was incredibly better than the other. They were both very good.

Overall I liked this movie. I thought is was very scary but not to the point of making me pee my pants. I thought all the characters were really good and most people will be able to relate. All the actors did great jobs in their roles and it was really cool to see how the first film, along with its two main characters, was tied into this one.

If you loved the first Paranormal Activity then you will love this one but DO NOT go see this one if you haven't experienced the scares of the first because the ending will not make sense. Oh! I almost forgot about the ending! The ending was incredible. It was a huge twist that I did not see coming at all and I even thought they were going to end the film at a different point. But then the real ending came and I was blown away.

I give Paranormal Activity 2 9 Helpless Babies Dragged from their Cribs by an Unseen Demon out of 10.

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Monday, October 4, 2010

Case 39

Case 39Release Date: October 1st, 2010

Click here for the Case 39 Trailer.

Emily Jenkins(Renee Zellweger) is a young social worker who is assigned to investigate the family of 10-year-old Lillith Sullivan(Jodelle Ferland). Lillith's grades have steadily declined and an emotional tear between her and her parents has warranted the concern of the state. When Emily investigates the family, she comes to the conclusion that they are abusing Lillith and neglecting her. But without hardcore evidence, Emily cannot do anything to help Lillith.

But the scene quickly changes when Emily receives a phone call from Lillith saying her parents are coming for her. Emily, along with her friend Detective Mike Barron(Ian McShane), go to Lillith's house to find her in a horrible situation. After that, Lillith is placed in a group home until she convinces Emily to adopt her until the state can find a decent foster family.

After Lillith moves in with Emily, strange things begin to happen. The kids in Lillith's support group begin acting violently and Emily's friends, including her best friend and Lillith's Psychiatrist Douglas J. Ames(Bradley Cooper), begin experiencing horrible accidents. Emily soon begins to think that this case of a poor helpless girl may not be as clear as she once assumed, and it is up to her to figure out exactly what is going on and exactly what Lillith is before it is too late.

Renee Zellweger returns to the big screen, in person that is, for the first time since 2008 and does a pretty good job. I hadn't heard a lot about this movie before I saw it. At most I had seen maybe two previews for it, but other than that I was completely in the dark about the plot, the actors etc... but I decided to give it a chance anyway. Now considering it is October, scary movies are definitely the way to go.

As far as Case 39 goes, this movie won't top my all time scream fests but it will lay somewhere in the middle with films like Signs and 30 Days of Night. I just wasn't particularly scared during this movie. While it did have a few spots that made me jump, the overall "scare factor" just wasn't there. What was there was a great cast list as well as an original and interesting story that kept me involved.

I've always liked Renee Zellweger and I have always thought she has done great work with all of her films. She kept her streak with me going with Case 39. I felt obligated to feel for her character and empathize with how she felt and reacted to certain situations. Normally I find social workers in film and television to be pompous and just downright annoying. However, with Zellweger I felt like she was legitimately trying to help people. This will connect with audiences and keep them paying attention throughout the film.

I was really impressed with the performance delivered by the young Jodelle Ferland. Now everybody knows that children in horror roles are creepy, but Jodelle took it to a whole new level. While she definitely does not outshine the terror that is Linda Blair in The Exorcist, Ferland does add her own form of creepiness. I think what got me the most was the fact that the whole time she was making these horrible things happen she maintained a cute, bubbly personality like everything was normal. She would giggle and act like a normal little kid which, for me, was the creepiest part.

I thought the story was very intriguing. While I already knew what Ferland's character was, I still found the main basis behind her behavior and why she did the things she did to be very interesting. The power of whatever Lillith was supposed to be was definitely scary, and it always made you wonder what was going to happen next and when it was going to happen. This also made you feel the stress that Zellweger's character went through.

I do, however, have on gripe on the story. Towards the end, when you finally realize what Lillith is and what she wants, the movie builds and builds and builds, adding all this anticipation for what you think is going to be some huge confrontation. For me, I was expecting Lillith to go full on demon mode and wreak havoc or at least go out with some style. However, spoilers aside, she didn't. While I won't tell you the exact ending, for me it felt abrupt and unimaginative. I felt like something greater should have taken down Lillith.

Other than that this was a pretty decent movie. Enough plot and suspense to keep you interested but definitely not one of the scariest films in theaters. If you want a decent psychological horror film, then you should definitely give Case 39 a look.

I give Case 39 7 "Harmless" Children Shoved into Ovens out of 10.

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Sunday, September 19, 2010


Devil PosterRelease Date: September 17th, 2010

Click here for the Devil Trailer.

Five strangers enter an elevator on what appears to be a normal day with none of them expecting the horrors they are about to face. Not more than a minute into the trip the elevator stops, stranding inside the five individuals. With two security guards, Ramirez(Jacob Vargas) and Lustig(Matt Craven), working frantically to get the people out, the police show up, led by Detective Bowden(Chris Messina) and his partner Detective Markowitz(Joshua Peace) who are investigating an apparent suicide that took place in the building earlier that day.

The news of the suicide reminds Ramirez of a story his mother told him when he was little. The story tells of the Devil roaming the earth and sometimes taking human form to torture and take the souls of the damned. The story always begins with a suicide opening the doors for the Devil to come in. Ramirez believes that the people in the elevator have been selected by the Devil to be punished for the sins of their past.

According to Ramirez's mother's story, the Devil is one of the five people in the elevator, and one by one they will each be killed with the last person being killed in front of the love of his/her life. As more problems occur and individuals in the elevator actually do begin to die, Bowden races to figure out just exactly what is going on and try to save those in the elevator before the devil takes his dues.

Ok. I'm not going to lie. When I saw M. Night Shyamalan's name attached to this film, I was, like I always am with him, a little wary. Let's be honest though, the last few movies from Shyamalan haven't been the greatest (The Last Airbender ringing any bells?). But I decided to give it a chance and not "judge a book by its cover", and I'm glad I did.

Throughout the movie I kept wondering where Shyamalan would throw in his big "twist" that would completely change and, most likely, ruin (*cough cough* The Happening *cough cough*) the entire movie, but that point never came. Another point that also never came was M. Night Shyamalan's cameo that he makes in all of his films. It was only after this that I realized why this movie wasn't failing.....because Shyamalan wasn't directing it. In fact, he didn't direct or write it, he was merely a producer who wrote the story from which this movie was created.

The movie was actually directed by John Erick Dowdle, and the screenplay was adapted by Brian Nelson with Shyamalan acting as a producer and creator of the concept. So now you know why this film didn't suck. So let me get into why this film was good.

The concept was very intriguing with five people trapped in an elevator, one of which is the Devil aiming to kill everyone else. This movie could have gone very badly. Most audiences do not like the feeling of being trapped. When making a film where the main characters are stuck in one solitary, confined space, audiences could feel claustrophobic which would deter them from enjoying the film. Thankfully, the film pulled out of the elevator regularly to allow audiences to breath.

If you are into suspense, then you will definitely like this film as it keeps you on the edge of your seat for the entire 80 minutes. In the beginning you immediately try to figure out which of these five people is the Devil and as the movie progresses, and each person is slowly killed off, you desperately try to figure out what is going on which makes the entire film very attention grabbing.

The film is also a little scary at times. You always know when something bad is about to happen as the lights in the elevator begin to flicker on and off and eventually shut off for about a minute. When they come back on, somebody has been killed in a gruesome way. Another thing I really liked about the movie is how clues were dropped that tied everyone together by bringing up bad things they have done in their past making them perfect for the Devil to take.

I thought all the performances were very good. I recognized some of the actors like Bokeem Woodbine, Gefforey Arend, Matt Craven and Jacob Vargas. Others like Chris Messina, Bojana Novakovic and Logan Marshall-Green all did excellent jobs. This film was probably difficult to film with the actors all confined to one set. However, they all seemed to handle it well. I loved how they turned on each other in the film, it added even more suspense to the already stressful film.

Overall this was a very good movie. The film switched between inside and outside the elevator enough to keep the audience from feeling trapped, and it definitely had an interesting and suspenseful plot with a killer twist ending that may shock a few people. The acting was all very good, and the gore was enough to be scary/creepy but had enough moderation to not be disgusting. In my opinion, M. Night Shyamalan should stick to making stories and let other people direct them as it seems to bode better for him.

I give Devil 8 Devil Infested Elevators out of 10.

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Tuesday, August 24, 2010


InceptionRelease Date: July 16th, 2010

Click here for the Inception Trailer.

Dom Cobb(Leonardo DiCaprio) lives in a world where people can enter other people's dreams and, in doing so, extract information that would otherwise be impossible to retrieve. Dom is an extractor, a professional thief who specializes in conning secrets from his targets by infiltrating their dreams. Dom has a specialized team including his partner Arthur(Joseph Gordon-Levitt) who is the point man, the Forger Eames(Tom Hardy) who can take the form of other people in a dream and Ariadne(Ellen Page), the team's architect who is in charge of constructing the worlds were the dreams will take place.

Dom and his team are approached by Mr. Saito(Ken Wantanabe), a businessman whose dreams they were infiltrating. Mr. Saito reveals that he was testing the team for a job. Mr. Saito wants Dom and his team to perform something known as Inception, implanting an idea into somebody's head through their dreams which will then push the person to make the decision in real life.

The act of inception has never been successfully done and Dom is wary about trying it. Mr. Saito's target is Robert Fischer(Cillian Murphy), the son of Mr. Saito's terminally ill corporate rival and heir to his father's business. Mr. Saito wants to implant the idea that Fischer should break up his father's empire so Mr. Saito can be number one in the industry. In order to perform inception, Dom and his team must infiltrate a dream within a dream within a dream in Fischer, deeper than anyone has ever gone.

Due to the depth of the project, Dom enlists the help of Dr. Yusuf(Dileep Rao), a sedative chemist. Yusuf develops a sedative that is strong enough to keep Dom and his team unconscious long enough to achieve their objective. However, should someone die in the dream they will not be woken up in real life as is common with extracting information. Instead they will be stuck in a limbo for an indeterminate amount of time. With the risk of inception along with the risk of going so deep into a human's subconscious, the added threat of any training the subject has had against dream infiltration and Dom's personal struggles against a ghost from his past, the hopes of coming out of the dream is slim at best.

Ok so Inception comes from the mind of Christopher Nolan, the same genius that brought us The Dark Knight. So needless to say, this movie is probably going to be good. But it isn't good, it isn't great, it's phenomenal. This is probably one of the best movies I have ever seen and is definitely one of my new all time favorites.

First off, the premise behind the movie is just so intense. The possibility of going into somebody's dreams and retrieving information or even implanting information is beyond cool. Couple that with all the things some of these characters can do in the dreams and the imagination highway seems endless. One thing I loved about this film is how Leonardo DiCaprio's team could do almost anything they want and add or subtract virtually anything. It sort of reminded me of the premise behind The Matrix where the characters could receive anything and learn anything instantly.

Let me just say that if you don't like movies that make you think, then you should not see this movie. You will be constantly wondering whether or not the characters are in a dream, how many dreams they are in or if they are in real life. But this just adds to the overall suspense of the film. It also grabs your attention and doesn't let go until the credits roll, and even then you won't want to leave.

I really loved the action in this film. Car chases, shootouts, assaults on military bases and an insane fight in zero gravity are just the tip of the iceberg. One cool element that added to the action was how, if something went wrong, a person's dream could begin to collapse causing all kinds of mayhem.

I thought all the actors and actresses were fantastic. There was a nice blend of personalities and styles. From fairly new actors like Ellen Page to seasoned veterans like Leonardo DiCaprio and the always incredible Michael Caine, there was somebody for everybody to enjoy. All the performances were top notch and will definitely be ones people remember for years to come.

I don't think I can find any fault with this ending. The one thing some people may have a problem with is the ending, which leaves plenty of room for debate. But I like that fact about the ending so for me it is a positive. Overall this movie was fantastic. It had a story that blew my mind and caused me to doubt whether or not I was living or in a dream. The action was intense and flowed perfectly with the story and most certainly was not overdone. The acting was incredible and no person delivered a bad performance.

Overall I think I will have to say that this movie is my favorite of the summer. In my opinion this film needs to win an award for Best Picture. I give Inception 10 Totems out of 10.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Grown Ups

Release Date: June 25th, 2010

Click here for the Grown Ups Trailer.

Lenny Feder(Adam Sandler), Eric Lamonsoff(Kevin James), Kurt McKenzie(Chris Rock), Rob Hillard(Rob Schneider) and Marcus Higgins(David Spade) are 5 friends who reunite after 30 years to mourn the death of their Junior High basketball coach, Coach "Buzzer"(Blake Clark), who led them to their first, and only, championship. The friends and their families gather in New England for the funeral and decide to spend the following 4th of July weekend in the very same lake house they celebrated their victory in 30 years ago.

While at the lake house Lenny, along with the rest of his friends, are shocked to find that their kids would rather sit inside and play videogames so the group forces them all to stay outside and find new ways to amuse themselves. When the families gather later the first night at a local restaurant, Lenny runs into his old nemesis Dickie Bailey(Colin Quinn). Dickie still holds a grudge about their basketball game 30 years ago, claiming that Lenny was out of bounds and challenges him and his friends to a rematch to which Lenny declines.

Later on at a 4th of July barbecue, the families run into Dickie and his friends again, who try to challenge the group to a rematch only this time Lenny and his friends agree. The game goes back and forth for a long time but, due to the players being old and out of shape, everybody quits except for Lenny and Dickie who bring out their sons to continue playing with them. As the game winds down, Lenny has a chance to make a game winning shot, exactly the same as he did 30 years ago. However, Lenny intentionally misses the shot, giving Dickie a sense of victory.

At the fireworks later that night, Lenny and his friends watch fireworks with their families, having an increased appreciation and love for one another. The weekend accomplished what it was intended for by bringing all the families closer together and helping them realize what was truly important in their lives.

Adam Sandler has been one of my favorite comedians for a long time now. He has a history of making some insanely funny, albeit over the top films and was one of the funniest cast members on Saturday Night Live. That being said, Sandler has taken a different turn in his comedic ways, shifting focus from all out comedy explosions like Happy Gilmore and The Waterboy to more subdued comedies that always find a way to add in some life lesson like Click or Funny People.

For me, this new style of comedy doesn't really work well for Sandler. While these movies are all, for the most part, pretty good films, they lack the classic Sandler humor that made him great in the first place. The same goes for the other actors in the film like Chris Rock, who hasn't done a film in many years, David Spade, Kevin James and Rob Schneider. All of these actors seem to be reverting to a more mild mannered form of comedy. This could be due to the fact that all the actors have been making movies for quite some time, with the exclusion of James. They seem to be slipping into what I like to call the "Eddie Murphy Complex". Now that most of them are married and have kids, they are trying to make movies that they are comfortable with their kids watching, just like the last 20 Eddie Murphy movies.

That all being said, this wasn't a terrible movie and it did bring out some genuine laughs. The comedy in this film wasn't as subdued as in some films but it was definitely more family friendly. The film wasn't as funny as I had hoped it would be but nevertheless it still made me laugh and when you bring in 5 actors that are known for comedy its going to happen. I thought all the actors in this film did a great job. The main 5, Sandler, James, Rock, Spade and Schneider were all pretty standard and delivered up to par performances. Salma Hayek, Maria Bello, Maya Rudolph, and Joyce Van Patten, who played Sandler's wife Roxanne, James' wife Sally, Rock's wife Deanne and Schneider's much older wife Gloria, respectively, all did a nice job too. They were all such different characters that it made for a nice hodgepodge of personalities to blend together.

It seems that Sandler always puts the same 7 people in all of his films and this one is no different. Supporting character like Steve Buscemi, Tim Meadows and Colin Quinn are all familiar faces we have come to see in Sandler films and I find it kind of nice to have them there. It's kind of like a "Where's Waldo" game when you watch the film, trying to find the Sandler regulars.

Overall this wasn't a bad film, but it wasn't a great one either. Sandler has been lacking of late with his films on the comedy front. I think he needs to revert back to his old school ways. However, I do like a serious Sandler every now and then and those of you who saw Reign Over Me know what I'm talking about.

Standard acting, above average laughs and a decent life message make this one of Sandler's decent family films. Definitely not his best and definitely not his worst, Grown Ups succeeds as an average film.

I give Grown Ups 6.75 games of arrow roulette out of 10.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

The Last Airbender

Release Date: July 1st 2010

Click here for The Last Airbender Trailer.

In a world where people can harness and control the four elements of wind, water, earth and fire, one individual stands supreme, the Avatar. The Avatar has the unique ability to learn how to control all four elements and is tasked with keeping peace between the four nations. But the last Avatar went missing nearly 100 years ago. Since then, the Fire Nation has declared open war on all other nations and has completely wiped out the Air Nation and begun enslaving both the Water Nations and Earth Nations.

The threat of Fire Nation dominance over the world seems almost complete until a two young members of the Water Nation, a young warrior named Sokka(Jackson Rathbone) and his water bending sister Katara(Nicola Peltz), find a young boy frozen in a globe of ice. When they release the boy, they realize that he is of the Air Nation and the last of his kind, Remembering the stories that the Avatar was to be born of the Air Nation, Sokka and Katara determine that this boy is the Avatar.

The Avatar has reincarnated himself as Aang(Noah Ringer), you young boy from the Northern Air Temple. Aang doesn't realize that he has been frozen for nearly 100 years. Sokka and Katara take Aang back to their tribe where Young Prince Zuko(Dev Patel), son of Fire Lord Ozai(Cliff Curtis), is waiting. Zuko was exiled by his father and determines that the only way to get back into his good graces is to capture the Avatar and deliver him to his father.

Aang agrees to go with Zuko if he promises not to hurt any of the villagers. While aboard Zuko's ship, Aang quickly escapes and is picked up by Katara and Sokka on Appa, Aang's pet flying bison. Sokka and Katara tell Aang that they will travel with him on his journey. The Only way for Aang to defeat the Fire Nation is to master all four elements. Aang, Katara and Sokka make their way to the Northern Water Tribe where so Aang can learn water bending from a true master.

Zuko learns of this plan and the Fire Nation attacks the Northern Water tribe in order to stop the Avatar. Fire Lord Ozai realizes that there is only one way to stop the Avatar. A comet, known as Sozin's Comet, pases by the world of the Avatar every hundred years. The Fire Nation benders are able to draw power from it as the comet makes their bending impossibly powerful. In order for Aang to defeat the fire nation he has to master the four elements before Sozin's Comet arrives in 3 years.

Ok so I am a HUGE fan of the Nickelodeon cartoon Avatar: The Last Airbender, the basis behind this movie. The cartoon brought something different to the normal hodgepodge of animated crap that decays the minds of today's youth. It had plot, entertainment, humor, drama, action and anything else you could want in a good show. So needless to say that when I saw the first teaser for The Last Airbender I was giddy, to say the least. And then I saw that it was being directed by M. Night Shyamalan and I thought "no no no! Why him!" Let's face it, after The Sixth Sense and Signs Shyamalan's movies have pretty much sucked. But then I thought, "well this already has a set plot and characters and storyline, he can't possibly throw something in there to completely ruin it." I was wrong.

To say that M. Night Shyamalan ruined this movie is an understatement. He literally took the pure joy that was the cartoon and beat it to within an inch of its life and then proceeded to run over it with a combine while laughing at it. Almost everything about this movie was wrong, from the over exaggerated bending moves to the dull, lifeless characters to even the mispronunciation of the characters' names Shyamalan just didn't get anything right.

Lets start off with the characters. Noah Ringer plays Aang and here we have our first mistake. This kid was purely horrendous. Ringer was emotionless, lifeless and tried to act better than he really can. The original character is supposed to be fun loving, charismatic and energetic and Ringer was anything but all those. Nicola Peltz, who plays Katara, was equally as bad. While she was slightly better than ringer, its only like saying that cat poo is better than dog poo. The we have Mr. Rathbone. Jackson Rathbone, who many of you may recognize from those Twilight movies, plays Sokka, Katara's older brother. Shyamalan decided to take the most unserious character from the show and try to make him into a badass leader. Well Mr. Shyamalan, mission failed.

The only salvageable performances came from Dev Patel, who played Prince Zuko, and Shaun Toub who played Zuko's uncle Iroh. Patel's performance wasn't bad considering he is an Indian actor playing and Asian character! Toub wasn't hard;y in the movie enough to get screwed by Shyamalan so kudos to him. Nearly all the characters were lifeless. Even Aang's pet flying bison Appa and his lemurbat MoMo (who was only seen maybe twice) were emotionless, as opposed to the cartoon where they added life and comic relief.

My next gripe is with the dialog and mispronunciation of names. Sokka, Aang and Iroh were the top three mispronounced names, oh, and even the word Avatar was pronounced with long "a" instead of a short one sometimes. Is it really that hard to insert the DVD of the cartoon into the DVD player and listen to how they pronounce the names? I mean seriously? The bending effects were cool. I will give the movie that. When there was actual bending and fighting going on the movie did good though the actions used sometimes to perform the bending were too long and drawn out which seemed completely pointless.

The opening credits have given anybody who has seen the show or movie regret as it stated "Book One: Water" which, of course, was the name given to the first season of the cartoon implying that there are two more movies that are being made. I feel that their only hope of success is to find a new director and writer. And while I am not particularly fond of different actors being brought in to play the same role as somebody else, the next movies could definitely benefit from it, especially in the title character of Aang.

Overall M. Night Shyamalan managed to take a beloved Nickelodeon cartoon that was one of the best ever created and turn it into a steaming pile of crap. If you have never ever seen the cartoon then there is the vague hop that you may find something in this film to like. But for those of us who were fans the original source material, this film just does not simply live up to our heightened expectations.

I give The Last Airbender 5 six-legged flying bison out of 10.

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Monday, June 28, 2010

The A-Team

The A-TeamRelease Date: June 11th, 2010

Click here for The A-Team Trailer.

Deep in the heart of Mexico John "Hannibal" Smith(Liam Neeson) is on a rescue mission to save his teammate Templeton "Faceman" Peck(Bradley Cooper) from a renegade Mexican general. En route to Face, Hannibal enlists the help of disgraced Army Ranger Bosco "B.A." Baracus(Quinton Jackson). The two manage to free Face and escape to an army hospital to enlist insane chopper pilot H.M. "Howling Mad" Murdock(Sharlto Copley). The four men flee the hospital with the General in pursuit, narrowly escaping death multiple times thanks to the incredible, and unbelievable, flying of Murdock. The team makes their way across the American/Mexican border where the general's helicopter is destroyed by an United States Air Force Jet.

"Eight years and eighty successful missions later", the four men have become the most highly-regarded, elite combat unit in the United States Army and are stationed in Iraq. A C.I.A Agent, Agent Lynch(Patrick Wilson) arrives one day an informs Hannibal and his commanding officer General Morrison(Gerald McRaney) that Iraqi insurgents are in possession of a United States Mint printing press as well as U.S. Treasury plates and have printed over $1 billion in counterfeit money. Lynch wants Hannibal and his team to retrieve the plates. At the same time, DCIS Captain Charissa Sosa(Jessica Biel), who coincidentally was Face's ex-girlfriend, arrives in Iraq and informs Face that he and his team needs to stay away from the plates and out of Baghdad.

Hannibal finds out that the mercenary group Black Forest, who was working with the U.S. Army, is going to be retrieving the plates lead by their leader Brock Pike(Brian Bloom). Hannibal disregards General Morrison's orders and stages an unofficial "Black ops" mission to retrieve the plates. Hannibal and his team return successfully from the mission and go to meet with Morrison. On the way Morrison's jeep is blown up with Morrison presumably dead. Hannibal realizes it was Pike and the rest of Black Forest but is unable to stop them before they make off with the plates.

Hannibal and his team are charged with Morrison's death and the stealing of the plates and are dishonorably discharged and sentenced to 10 years in separate Federal Prisons. Six Months later, Hannibal breaks out of prison with the help of Lynch and the C.I.A. and reassembles his team. Hannibal along with Face, B.A. and Murdock stage a plan to find Pike and the plates and clear their names. But there is more to the plates than Hannibal realizes which unfolds into a deeper and darker plot than expected.

Who doesn't love an action movie based off of one of the most beloved t.v. sitcoms from the 80's? That's what I thought. The A-Team comes from director Joe Carnahan who tries to out his own spin on the iconic show without sacrificing what made it great in the first place. Carnahan brings together a great, if not extremely mixed cast for this film. The A-Team has everything from UFC fighters and Award-winning actors to upcoming Hollywood stars.

Let's "Face" it (ya get it? "Face"?......whatever) nobody looks at a trailer for The A-Team or hears about this film and thinks "man I can not wait to see the gripping plot or the award-winning story". People come to see this movie for the action, the explosions, the gunfights and the humor and on that front this film really delivers. The story isn't immaculate, and the acting isn't something you are going to find in a some big movie like The Shawshank Redemption. But that isn't the point of this movie. The point is the action.

Oh, and if you want realistic action then find another movie, because you won't find it here (and I'm not sure you should even be looking here). The action in this movie is definitely high octane, face melting action and it comes at you from start to finish. As the lovely Jessica Biel states towards the beginning of the movie "these h=guys are the best at what they do and they specialize in the ridiculous" which couldn't be closer to the truth. From barrel rolls and mid air stalls in helicopters to floating a semi trailer with airbags to even trying to fly a tank (yeah, you read that right) the action never gets dull. That is one of the main reasons I loved this movie. It was fun to watch. With all the serious movies coming out lately like Avatar, Shutter Island or even The Crazies a movie with over-the-top, insane and unrealistic action like this one is a welcome break.

I said earlier that you won't be coming to this film for award-winning acting. That being said, I was not trying to imply that the acting was terrible. Quite the contrary. The overall cast of the film did a pretty good job making everything flow. Liam Neeson performed wonderfully (I mean he's Liam Neeson, come on now). He really seemed to capture the original character of Hannibal from the television series. Bradley Cooper is proving to be one of the hottest new actors in Hollywood right now. He shows his range a little bit in this film bouncing between funny man, ladies man and action man. I was really impressed with Quinton "Rampage" Jackson's performance. When you think of a big, tough UFC fighter you don't typically think big Hollywood movie. However Jackson didn't seem out of place at all with the cast and showed that he could hold his own in acting. My favorite performance was from Sharlto Copley. The South-African native proved he could act with his performance in District 9 and he followed it up nicely with The A-Team. He was, without a doubt, the comedic relief in the film. Copely did a great job pulling off a American southern accent and made himself very believable.

This movie was packed with insane action, some very nice laughs and came out to be just a straight good time. On all those fronts it succeeded. Was it a contender for an Academy Award for Best Picture? No. Was it a contender for an Oscar Nominee for Best Screenplay? Probably not. Does anybody really think of seeing this movie in the hopes of receiving any of those qualities? Absolutely not. This is movie is good for what it is and set out to be, an action flick. If you wanna see a ton of stuff blowing up, a bunch of insane stunts that would most likely never happen in real life and if you wanna laugh your butt off then you should definitely hit up your local theater and check out this movie. Sure the plot was a little predictable but who cares? You get to see "Rampage" Jackson body slam somebody into a freight tank and Sharlto Copley cook with gunpowder. What more do you need?

I give The A-Team 9 Flying Tanks out of 10

Friday, June 18, 2010

Toy Story 3

Release Date: June 18th, 2010

Click here for the Tory Story 3 Trailer.

Andy has grown up and is on his way to the big, adult world of college, a place that doesn't really have a place for fond childhood toys. Knowing that Andy is leaving, Woody(Tom Hanks), Buzz Lightyear(Tim Allen) and the rest of the toys are worried that they might be put in the attic or worse, thrown in the garbage. Andy intends to take only Woody with him to college and begins to put the rest of the toys in a trash bag bound for the attic. But when Andy's mom mistakes the bag for trash, she pitches it to the curb. Thankfully the toys escape the garbage truck and make their way into a box of donated toys bound for Sunnyside Daycare. Woody joins the toys only in an attempt to draw them back to Andy with no luck as the toys believe Andy pitched them to the curb intentionally.

As the toys arrive at Sunnyside they are warmly greeted with open arms by the multitude of toys already at the daycare, including the "leader" of the toys Lots-o-Huggin' Bear(Ned Beatty) who goes by Lotso. All the toys are content on starting a new life at Sunnyside except for Woody, who is intent on remaining Andy's toy. Woody tries to persuade the toys to return to Andy's with him to no avail and begins the trek back home alone. Lotso tells Andy's toys that they will be a part of the "caterpillar room". Everything seems great until the children return. The children in the caterpillar room are ruthless toddlers whose knowledge of playing with toys extends as far as how many pieces they can stick up their nose.

Woody, in the meantime, made it as far as the street until he was picked up by a sweet little girl named Bonnie from Sunnyside who took Woody home to be with her toys Chuckles the Clown(Bud Luckey), Mr. Pricklepants(Timothy Dalton), Trixie(Kristen Schaal), Buttercup(Jeff Garlin), Dolly(Bonnie Hunt), the Peas-in-a-Pod and Totoro. Woody explains that he just came from Sunnyside to which Bonnie's toys tell him that the daycare is a deathtrap for toys. Woody returns to Sunnyside to find that his friends are being imprisoned by Lotso and Buzz, who has been reset to demo mode by Lotso.

Time is running out for Woody and the rest of the toys. Andy will be leaving at any moment for college and the toys will be left behind. Woody stages a desperate escape with the help of all the toys in the hopes that they can escape the perils of Sunnyside Daycare and the evil grip of Lotso and his posse of toys and make it back to Andy before they are lost forever.

So it isn't a new statement to say that the people at Pixar are the undeniable leaders in animated film and Toy Story is the title that put them on top of the game. It has been nearly 11 years since Toy Story 2 graced our cinemas and a staggering 15 years since the original Toy Story was created. Now many people are hesitant when seeing the third installment of a movie and most third pieces are just a quick cash in on a name or character (need a remind you all of Spiderman 3?). However, Toy Story 3 stays true to everything that made the original two films incredible and captivating and truly brings back what it was like to be a kid and live life through imagination.

One of the best thing about this film is that the creators managed to bring back nearly every one of the characters from the previous films as well as the original voice actors. The list of stars in this film is anything but short. Tom Hanks and Tim Allen return as our favorite Sheriff and Space Ranger duo Woody and Buzz Lightyear along with Joan Cusack as Jesse, Don Rickles as Mr. Potato Head, Estelle Harris as Mrs. Potato Head, Wallace Shawn as Rex, John Ratzenberg as Hamm, R. Lee Ermey as Sarge and even John Morris, who has played the voice of Andy in all three films. Pixar also brings in a ton of new characters voiced by some popular actors like Ned Beatty as Lotso, Michael Keaton as Ken, Jeff Garlin as Buttercup, Bonnie Hunt as Dolly, Timothy Dalton as Mr. Pricklepants and even Whoopie Goldberg as Stretch. The voice acting is incredible in this film and all the actors managed to bring their characters to life and give them all a unique persona.

The great thing about the past two Toy Story movies is that the stories have been so amazing and magical that you can not help but fall in love with them no matter your age. These films have a unique way of taking you back to your childhood and reminding you what it was like to be a kid. Thankfully Toy Story 3 doesn't stray from the fantastic story telling that made the first films great. Some sequels and threequels (as I like to call them) have stories that become stale. But that is definitely not the case with this film. Pixar manages to give us fresh new characters as well as a fresh new plot and struggle for our toys to face.

I'm not going to lie, this film was definitely more stressful and dark than the other two. Sure we all found Sid from the first Toy Story to be creepy and in desperate need of a hug but this film had giant mongo baby dolls with a tendency to twist their heads around, clapping monkeys with terrifying eyes and horrific screams, giant trash slicing blades and an incinerator that slightly resembled the flaming eye of Mordor. There were times when I literally thought it was the end of Woody and the gang and just when the stress would almost become to much to bear, a lighthearted silly scene would burst in to save the day. It might sound odd but there is just something about sitting in a packed theater with nobody under the age of 13 and hearing people gasp, scream, shout for joy and clap at a movie about toys.

There is not an age group on this planet that can not like this film. It takes you back to a simpler time when instead of engaging in realistic, computerized entertainment, we used toys that could do nothing more than lay there and were brought to life by our imaginations. Toy Story 3 is an incredible, fantastic, imaginative and beautiful story that channels the inner child of every single person that watches it. The long wait was well worth it and did not disappoint in the slightest. Incredible voice acting, an amazing story and a visually beautiful world culminate into a film that is nothing short of magnificent. If you loved the first two Toy Story films (how could you not) then Toy Story 3 is something that you HAVE to see.

I give Toy Story 3 10 Ken's Dream Homes out of 10.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Get Him To The Greek

Release Date: June 4th, 2010

Click here for the Get Him To The Greek Trailer.

Aaron Green(Jonah Hill) is a driven, idealistic young intern for Pinnacle Records, one of the top labels in the music business. Pinnacle has taken some heavy financial losses and the head of the company, Sergio Roma(Sean "Diddy" Combs), gathers all the interns and has them start pitching ideas. Aaron proposes to have legendary rocker Aldous Snow(Russell Brand) do a 10 year reunion concert of his best show performed at the Greek Theater in L.A.

Sergio agrees to the idea and sends Aaron to London to pick up Aldous and take him first to a performance on the Today Show and then to the Greek Theater in 72 hours. Aaron arrives in London to find Aldous, who has been consuming large quantities of both alcohol and drugs since his girlfriend Daphne(Elizabeth Moss) left him and took custody of their son Naples. Instead of listening to Aaron and going back with him, Aldous goes off to multiple bars and parties dragging Aaron along with him. Aaron finally convinces Aldous to make his way to America but Aldous always has some trick up his sleeve to delay their arrival.

Aaron must fight through Aldous' true rock personality, multiple parties, gallons of alcohol, a little bit of drugs and a few shots of Absinthe in order to Get Him To The Greek. If Aaron fails, his career (and maybe his whole life) may go down in one blown out fiery train wreck that only true rock 'n roll can produce.

Get Him To The Greek is a spin-off/sequel to the 2008 comedy film Forgetting Sarah Marshall which reunites director Nicholas Stoller and stars Russell Brand and Jonah Hill. I came into this movie knowing that it would be funny. The previews all looked hilarious and I am a fan of both Jonah Hill and Russell Brand. I expected the movie to make me laugh, what I did not expect was for this movie to make me cry, sweat and hold my stomach to keep from collapsing at just how funny this film truly was.

Produced by Judd Apatow, you can pretty much guarantee that the humor in this film is going to go down the twisted path of raunchy, perverse humor. The great thing about this film though is that it manages to do this in a way where it lays it on thick but doesn't smother you with it. The jokes are so widely varied that they do not become stale at any point and they really make you guess just what exactly is around every corner.

The humor in this film comes from three main sources, well two main sources and a third almost main source, and those are the likes of Jonah Hill, Russell Brand and Sean "Diddy" Combs. I find that some comedies these days fail because they try to add to many characters. With too many characters, you have too many people trying to be funny and it is too hard to spread it all around. In the case of Get Him To The Greek, the main humor is focused on Hill and Brand with "Diddy" coming in at the perfect moments and adding his special blend of humor. Hill, Brand and Combs all have completely different styles of humor which blend together into this margarita of magic that leaves your sides hurting from all the laughter.

I have never really seen Brand in a movie before. I have seen him do stand-up but some of the best stand-up comedians do not make the best actors. That being said, I thought Brand was amazing. He delivers a lot of humor in his facial expressions but his timing is also great. He knows exactly how to deliver some of those crucial lines that can make or break a funny scene. On the flipside, director Stoller felt the need to add in some semi-serious scenes for Brand in order to show off a different side of the character. In these scenes Brand did well though I am not sure anybody would be able to watch an entirely serious Russell Brand performance.

Hill was his typical self adding in some very hilarious awkward comedy. His character was so different from that of Brands which made their interactions that much more appealing. Hill makes you feel for his character and feel bad for him as he tries so desperately to get Brand's character to the Greek. With all the bad things that happen to Hill in the film you can't help but feel a little bad for him........a little bad as you maniacally laugh your face off at his expense. And then you come to the performance of Sean "Diddy" Combs. Where to begin on him? Diddy's performance actually showed that he is serious about acting. He seemed to take the role seriously (as seriously as you can take a role in this film) and he proved that he can handle a real acting gig. His antics were so crazy that I literally thought he was going to rip off somebody's appendage and beat them with it.

This movie is a breakout comedy and I am calling it this year's Hangover. I haven't laughed this hard at a movie in a while and this is definitely one I would go see multiple times in theaters. Hilarious performances from Jonah Hill, Russell Brand and Diddy come together in this cavalcade of comedic greatness. If you are looking for something to literally make you fall over laughing then look no further than Get Him To The Greek. You honestly will not be disappointed.

I give Get Him To The Greek 10 Strokes of the Fury Wall out of 10.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time

Prince of Persia: The Sands of TimeRelease Date: May 28th, 2010

Click here for the Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time Trailer.

As a boy Dastan(Jake Gyllenhaal) was an ordinary orphan until one day, while running from a group of Persian guards, he was approached by by the King of Persia, King Sharaman(Ronald Pickup), who adopted Dastan as a son. Fifteen years later Dastan, along with his brothers Tus and Garsiv, plan to attack the Holy city of Alamut under the assumption that the city is selling weapons to the Persian's enemies.

Once the city has been captured, Dastan finds an ornate dagger, which he keeps as a trophy from the battle. King Sharaman arrives in the city along side his brother Nizam(Sir Ben Kingsley) and holds a celebration in the main hall of the Alamut Palace. During the celebration, the princess of Alamut, Princess Tamina(Gemma Arterton) is brought before the king as a gift for Tus. Tamina, who is escorted by Dastan, realizes that the dagger he carries is the mythical Dagger of Time that she is entrusted to protect.

During the celebration, Dastan is framed for the murder of his father and flees the city along with Tamina. Nizam, who has gained the trust of Tus and Garsiv, organizes a hunt for the Dastan for the sole reason of acquiring the Dagger of Time, which has the ability to rewind the very fabrics of time itself. With it Nizam plans to rewind time to his childhood where he saved his brother from a lion. Nizam plans to let his brother die so that he may one day become the King of Persia. Dastan, along with Tamina embarks on a journey to save not only himself and the dagger, but the world as he knows it.

I know what you are thinking, "Oh great, another video game based movie. Just another way to disappoint me." Well if you are thinking that then shame on you for hating it before you see it! Sadly, the fact is that most movies based on video games do suck something awful. In this adaptation of the incredibly popular 2003 game, Jake Gyllenhaal and director Mike Newell attempt to do what seems to be impossible, make a good video game based movie and for the most part, they succeed.

If you are familiar with the Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time video game then you know that the concept for a great movie is extremely possible. The game offered incredible visuals (for its time), an insane combat system, intense acrobatic platforming and a game mechanic that truly changed the way you solved puzzles and defeated enemies. Now, incorporating this into a movie worthy of sitting through is the tricky part. So now for the review.

I am going to start if with my complaints first. Being a huge fan of the game, the biggest disappointment I had with the film was the story. The movie plot and story was entirely different from the game story and I think that the only thing that the two had in common was an acrobatic prince, a sassy princess and a time-controlling dagger. Lets compare them side-by-side. In the game, the Prince was born a Prince and had no name. In the movie he was an orphan adopted by the king and was named Dastan. The game: enemies were sand creatures that possessed the bodies of other people and were brought on by the betrayal of the king's trusted adviser called The Vizier. The movie: the prince fought humans and was betrayed by his uncle.

Those are the major ones though the Princess' name was changed from Farrah to Tamina and the story took place in the city of Alamut mainly as opposed to Persia like the game. But, while there were gigantic differences from the game to the film plot, the film plot was still very entertaining.

One of the main aspects of the game was the extreme agility of the Prince and Gyllenhaal seemed to display that perfectly. The nimble, high flying and crafty free running in the movie instantly brought me back to my times with the game. The film's combat was also very good. The Prince in the game uses many acrobatic moves to dispatch his foes as does Gyllenhaal in the film. The fight scenes with the Hashshashins towards the end were particularly entertaining.

While the fighting was great, the movie is called The Sands of Time so it would seem that this is an important concept. The Sands of Time are controlled by a device known as The Dagger of Time. It allows the user of the dagger to rewind time for one minuet and only the holder is aware. The scenes where the dagger was used to rewind time were, in my opinion, incredible. I felt that they truly captured the spirit of the game and how the time elements were controlled. Not only did they look amazing and added a new stylization, the really just felt genuine.

Performance wise Gyllenhaal made a very convincing visual Prince. There has been a lot of controversy over a white actor portraying a Persian character but I think that Gyllenhaal had a very close visual resemblance to the game character. The only thing that didn't make sense was the Prince, and all the other characters', accents. They were all done with a British voice with a slight Middle-Eastern draw. The game characters spoke the same way but I just find it odd.

Gemma Arterton did fine as Princess Tamina. She wasn't annoying or helpless like some female characters can be and she seemed to have good chemistry with Gyllenhaal. I was very pleased with Sir Ben Kingsley's performance. Kingsley is such a well-defined actor and his role as the main antagonist was a perfect fit. Had the director not changed the character to an Uncle and left it has a Vizier, Kingsley still would have been amazing because I think he played more like that character. Alfred Molina added in a perfect blend of humor to the action packed movie, bringing the audience down from the adrenaline rush to allowing them to catch their breath.

Overall, if you look at this movie as just an original move, it does pretty good. The story is unique and the acting is good. Add that to great action and some stylish visuals and you have a solid all around experience. If you, like me, come into this seeing it as a video game based movie, then you are in for a surprise. Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time the best video game based movie to date. It may stray drastically far away from the original game's plot, which is strongly disappointing, but the film does do a fantastic job of recreating the epic feel and style that the game had. Let's just hope they don't do the unthinkable and make a video game based off of a movie based off of a video game (that would almost be too much).

If you are looking for a solid move to see, then you should definitely check this one out. If you are looking for a movie based on a video game that doesn't completely suck then you will definitely want to see this film. Had the film stayed with the original plot then it's score would have been higher but it is still a good film.

I give Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time 8 Suicidal Racing Ostriches out of 10.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Robin Hood

Robin HoodRelease Date: May 12th, 2010

Click here for the Robin Hood Trailer.

Late in the 12th Century, Robin Longstride is a common archer fighting in the Third Crusade under King Richard the Lionheart(Danny Huston). In the last battle of the war, Robin, along with his nephew Will Scarlet(Scott Grimes), friend Allan A'Dayle(Alan Doyle) and fellow soldier Little John(Kevin Durand) are put in stockades following a brawl the injured the king. After Richard's death, the men escape and plan to return home to England after 10 years of fighting. While headed for the fairy, Robin and his men come across the kings royal guard who had been ambushed by Sir Godfrey(Mark Strong), an English Knight with French lineage and allegiance. The only Knight still alive is Sir Robert Locksley of Nottingham, who wishes Robin to return his sword to his father.

Robin finds the King's crown and sees an easy attempt home. Robin and his men assume the identities of the Knights and proceed to return the crown to England. Upon arrival they witness the crowning of the new king, King John(Oscar Isaac), Richard's younger brother. John immediately imposes harsh taxes on the kingdom and sends out sir Godfrey to collect them, not knowing of the knight's true allegiance. Godfrey uses his power to try and stir up Civil War in the kingdom, which would allow the French King to easily take over England.

Robin obeys the wishes of the deceased Sir Robert and returns to Nottingham where he delivers the sword to the Knight's father, Walter(Max Von Sydow) and Sir Robert's wife, Lady Marion(Cate Blanchett). As Godfrey continues to create unrest in the kingdom and the French King and his army move closer to the coast, Robin must unite the people of England to fight under the newly appointed King John or face an imminent take over by France.

Russell Crowe and director Ridley Scott team up for the fifth time to bring you a story of how a man became a legend and how a common archer became the most wanted outlaw in all of England. This film is a different, and refreshing, take on the traditional story of Robin Hood. As opposed to being a refurbished story of the typical outlaw adventures of Robin Hood and his band of Merry Men, this story seeks to tell you how and why Robin Hood became an outlaw.

I love how this film took a step away from the traditional story. I mean, how many times can you watch the same story over and over again? It was good to see how the character we have come to love over so many years became who he is. Origin stories are always interesting to me because most of the time we do not think about how our favorite characters in film and literature got to where they are.

Scott was definitely trying to go for a more realistic approach to the classic tale. There was much more action and story than there was romance as we have seen in previous Robin Hood films (for example Kevin Costner's take). They also didn't try to glam up the characters. Both Blanchett and Crowe looked like common people which, you could tell, was supposed to represent the Crusade's take on Robin and the poor living conditions of the people in England. For me it made everything appear as it may have in those times.

I thought the cast of the film was fantastic. Crowe played an excellent Robin. We already know that Crowe has action prowess from his films like Gladiator, 3:10 to Yuma and Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World. Blanchett was a very different Lady Marion. In the past, Marion is typically striking beautiful and elegant. However, Blanchett's Marion was gritty, real and was shown as more of a commoner than someone of higher class society. I actually prefer Blanchett's Marion to any other I have seen. Mark Strong and Oscar Isaac were both dubious villains. Strong was a clear villain throughout the entire film which gave you a nice character to hate. Isaac's character was sort on the fence at times. At first he was a spoiled prince, then he was the harsh king, followed by a king uniting his kingdom to fight the french and then finally going back to the villain King John.

I liked the co-characters of Will Scarlett, Little John and Friar Tuck, played by Scott Grimes, Kevin Durand and Mark Addy respectively. There parts were not major, which I was disappointed in, but nonetheless they did add to the fantasy of the film. Should Scott ever decide to throw out a sequel to this film these roles would be greatly increased and would do very well.

The action of the film was pretty good. There wasn't a total onslaught of fighting, just some good battles speckled throughout the film leading up to a climactic battle on the south coast of England against the French. I am a sucker for archers. I love archery and I love seeing it in films. The archery in this film, along with the other fight scenes were done really well though I thought there could have been more, especially in the end battle. While the end battle was good, it was slightly short and didn't feel as epic as it should have.

Overall, Robin Hood was a good. It was a great, new insight into the legend and it was awesome seeing how the outlaw came to be. A top notch cast performed great and director Ridley Scott made a film worthy of holding the Robin Hood title. If you are a fan of other Robin Hood movies then this one is definitely for you but it also has an appeal that will draw in all sorts of audiences. Do not expect to get tied up on the romance between Robin and Marion or the outlaw adventures but be prepared to see why all of that is the way it is.

I give Robin Hood 9 Merry Men in Tights out of 10.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Iron Man 2

Iron Man 2Release Date: May 7th, 2010

Click here for the Iron Man 2 Trailer.

Six months after revealing himself to be Iron Man, Tony Stark(Robert Downey Jr.) has helped to keep a sense of world peace, being that nobody is brave enough (or crazy enough) to go up against him. But life isn't all great in Stark's world. Stark is continuously hounded by Senator Stern(Gary Shandling) and a United States Senate Committee who are trying to force Stark to turn over the Iron Man suit to the U.S. Government. Stark refuses assuring everybody that nobody will have technology like the Iron Man suit for at least another 5 years.

In the meantime, a Russian physicist named Ivan Vanko(Mickey Rourke) was given blueprints to the arc reactor, the main power source in the Iron Man suit, by his father, disgraced Soviet physicist Anton Vanko who was Howard Stark's(Paul Bettany), Tony's father, business partner and original co-inventor of the arc reactor. Vanko used the blueprints to create his own arc reactor and specialized electric whip weapons which he plans to use for revenge against Tony Stark.

Ivan attacks Stark in Monaco at a race where Stark easily defeats him, sending him to prison. However, Ivan doesn't stay in prison long as Tony's biggest rival Justin Hammer(Sam Rockwell) breaks Ivan out of jail to convince him to create a series of Iron Man drones that will one up Tony Stark. Ivan secretly begins creating a new suit for himself, while Stark's best friend Lt. Colonel James "Rhodey" Rhodes(Don Cheadle) takes the Iron Man Mark II armor and delivers it to the U.S. Government. With Ivan still seeking revenge, an Iron Man suit missing, the government trying to confiscate the Iron Man armors, S.H.I.E.L.D placing him under house arrest and the palladium in his chest slowly poisoning him Stark has minimal time to prevent all out war.

Superhero/comic book movies are a risky business. Sequels to superhero/comic book movies are even more risky. Gambles like this have proven disastrous to movies in the past and making a good original movie and trying to make a sequel that is as good or better is near impossible at times. Thankfully director John Favreau has seemingly done the impossible by doing both:making a great superhero movie as well as making a great sequel.

Fans fell in love with Tony Stark and Iron Man when the first film debuted back in 2008. Since then, there has been nothing but unbridled anticipation for this sequel to be released. Bringing back almost all of the original, great cast as well as adding in some truly unique and appealing characters, this sequel has something for everybody.

Robert Downey Jr. reprises his role as the narcissistic, womanizing Tony Stark and delivers a truly great performance. Downey plays Stark with this swagger that, despite some of the things he does or say, you can not help liking him. Downey also adds an amazing sense of humor to the character. One things fans remember about the first film is that while they all remember the huge fight scenes and the big action they equal remember the hilarity of Tony Stark. Downey's comedic timing in the film is perfect and he truly owns every scene he is in.

Returning from the first film comes Gwyneth Paltrow as Virgina "Pepper" Potts. Paltrow's character seems to have a little bit more control over the antics of Stark which adds a very nice sense of order and responsibility to the chaos that is Tony Stark. The relationship between the two almost resembles a mother/child relationship where Paltrow has to continually step in and discipline Stark. I like how they brewed the love interest more between the two characters even leading up to the first kiss between the two.

Don Cheadle replaces Terrence Howard as Lt. Colonel James "Rhodey" Rhodes in the sequel. Ok so I am not a fan at all of having different actors play the same character in sequel movies. It, for me, breaks the "world" the director is trying to create. That being said, I would have much rather had Don Cheadle in place of Terrence Howard in the first Iron Man. I thought Cheadle played the part much better than Howard and brought more personality to the character. I didn't like how Rhodes' character stole an Iron Man suit from Stark. Seeing how much they played up the friendship role between the two it doesn't seem logical. But I do think that, overall, Cheadle did a fantastic job.

Mickey Rourke joins on as a newcomer to the cast playing as the main antagonist Ivan Vanko. I really enjoyed Rourke's performance. Half of his character's dialogue was in Russian which was Rourke's idea. I think that added a greater sense of mystery and villainy to the character. The one thing I was most disappointed with was the fact that the trailers for the movie really played up Rourke's character as being this huge badass that was going to wreak tremendous havoc on Stark and everybody else. While Rourke's character was a complete badass, his screen time was severely lacking. He only donned his armor and whips twice and the combined screen time of both was hardly anything compared to what a true villain deserves. His final battle in the movie was also almost anti-climatic and I felt he was ended far too quickly.

Another newcomer, Scarlett Johannson throws on some very sexy uniforms as Natalie Rushman/Natasha Romanoff, an undercover S.H.I.E.L.D. agent posing as Tony Stark's new assistant. While she did not get an immense amount of screen time she did very well with what she got. I think Favreau was merely introducing her for a bigger role in Iron Man 3 and possibly in the new Avengers movie set to be released in 2012. Johannson did do a great job though and could definitely hold her own in a fight pulling off some insane acrobatic fighting moves.

Other supporting characters include Sam Rockwell as Justin Hammer, Stark's new rival. Rockwell's character was mainly a sort of plucky relief but don't be surprised if he becomes a bigger threat in Iron Man 3. Director John Favreau adds himself a little part coming back as Stark's personal bodyguard and chauffeur Happy Hogan. But the biggest supporting role comes from the great Samuel L. Jackson who comes back as the mysterious Nick Fury. Jackson had a very small role in the end of the first film but has an drastically bigger part in this film. Jackson and his character are obviously in the film to pave the way for the upcoming Avengers film which just leaves all of us nerds sitting in giddy excitement.

The action in this film was insane. For a second I thought I was watching another Michael Bay film but it didn't go that far. I could have used more action spread out through the film. There were basically two main fighting scenes, both of which were extremely well choreographed and incredible to watch. I only just wish there was more action throughout the entire film. Like I mentioned earlier, the build up and hype of Rourke's character was greatly misleading and his final fight scene was lacking in screen time, especially when compared to the final fight scene of the first Ron Man.

One thing I thoroughly enjoyed were the references and hints at the Avengers film. I won't spoil it but look closely at the scene where Stark creates a new element and please, in the name of plaything that is decent and holy on this earth, stay for the end of the credits. Coming from a comic geeks perspective it was one of the greatest "easter eggs" I have seen in a movie and is even better than Stark showing up at the end of The Incredible Hulk and Fury showing up in the end of Iron Man. Trust me, you will not be disappointed.

Overall, Favreau does what most directors in this genre typically fail at and that is delivering a worthwhile sequel that doesn't completely and utterly destroy everything we loved about the original. There could have been a little more action and the action could have been a little more spread out but the fight scenes were still amazing. The characters were gripping and were easy for the audience to fall in love with. Downey was hilarious and the foreshadowing for Iron Man 3 and The Avengers was purely awesome. The film industry is definitely starting off this summer with intensity and this is one film you can not go without seeing, especially if you loved the first one.

I give Iron Man 2 9.5 Billionaire playboys with insane suits of weaponized armor out of 10.

Monday, April 19, 2010


Release Date: April 16th, 2010

Click here for the Kick-Ass Trailer.

Why hasn't anybody ever tried to become a real-life superhero? That is the exact question and point of Kick-Ass. Dave Lizewski(Aaron Johnson) is you average everyday teenager who wonders why nobody has ever tried to be a crime fighting superhero. After being mugged one day while a bystander watches and does nothing, Dave decides enough is enough. Buying a scuba suit from eBay and arming himself with fighting batons, Dave begins to wonder the streets looking for people in need and his first case comes sooner than expected. Walking home from school, Dave encounters the muggers who attacked him earlier breaking into a car. Dressed in his costume, Dave tries to fight off the muggers who end up stabbing him and leaving. As Dave staggers away he is struck by a car, which then drives off and leaves him as well.

Due to his accident, most of Dave's skeleton is covered with metal plates and his nerve endings are fried removing his ability to feel pain. Dave then opens up a MySpace account for his new alter ego, Kick-Ass, who has made city wide news after a video of him defending a man against three gang members hit the internet. Because of Kick-Ass' stardom, the girl of Dave's dreams, Katie Deauxma(Lyndsy Fonseca) asks Kick-Ass to take care of a guy that has been harassing her. Kick-Ass goes to the guys apartment only to find out that he is a violent drug dealer. As the man goes to kill him, Kick-Ass is saved by Mindy Macready, a.k.a. Hit-Girl(Chloe Grace Moretz) who kills all of the drug dealers with help from her dad and former police officer Damon Macready, a.k.a. Big Daddy(Nicholas Cage). Big Daddy and Hit-Girl think Kick-Ass has potential and tell him that they could all work together and that they will be in touch.

Kick-Ass goes on with his day to day life only to find out that the drug dealers Hit-Girl and Big Daddy killed were working for Crime Boss Frank D'Amico(Mark Strong), the biggest crime lord in New York. Kick-Ass also realizes that D'Amico thinks Kick-Ass is killing all of his men as opposed to the real threats, Hit-Girl and Big Daddy who have a personal vendetta against the entire D'Amico crime family. D'Amico begins to formulate a plan to kill Kick-Ass and the only way he is going to survive is with the help of Big Daddy and Hit-Girl.

If I could describe this movie in one word it would be epic, bu I personally believe that the only way to describe this movie lies within the very title, this movie was Kick-Ass! It blended a great mix of well-known actors like Nicholas Cage and Mark Strong with some excellent up and comers like Aaron Johnson and Christopher Mintz-Plasse and Chloe Grace Moretz. It took the comic book movie genre and turned it on its head creating one of the most unique and entertaining comic book movies ever.

Where to begin on this film. Well for starters, let me talk about the subject matter. This is not your mother's superhero/comic book movie. Its violent, graphic and contains more curse words than an episode of South Park. But it all works. The movie, directed by Matthew Vaughn, is an adaptation of the Marvel comic book series by Mark Millar and is one of the best adaptations to date. It follows the story very closely and does its best to stick true to the characters and capture the same feel that the comics were trying to impose. As far as comic book movies go, this one will definitely rank at the top of the list.

The film also had an amazing cast and amazing characters. A lot of times, movies either try to get as many big names in as possible or they try to keep most of the big names out. Kick-Ass tried to fuse that together by incorporating big names with small names and everything in between. Rolling out the big league names are acting greats Nicholas Cage and Mark Strong. Cage did a phenomenal job as vengeful ex-cop Damon Macready/Big Daddy. The character seemed to form a mix between "Elvis and Adam West" (who we know was the original televised Batman) coming from director Matthew Vaughn. What I liked most about Cage's performance was his awkwardness. Looking at him, you would never guess he spends his time hunting down and killing mob members and drug dealers. Sometimes when he talked under his alter ego of Big Daddy, I got feelings of William Shatner's Captain Kirk from Star Trek. It made the character seem like an odd ball which I thought worked perfectly. Strong also did great as crime boss frank D'Amico. Strong had the intense style of a hard core killer mixed with the humorous aspects of the family man that he also played.

Vaughn also did a great job of blending in great up and coming actors like Christopher Mintz-Plasse and Lyndsy Fonseca, with some rather unknowns like the lead Aaron Johnson and the show stealing Chloe Grace Moretz. Mintz-Plasse was awesome as Red Mist, another wannabe superhero who signs on to help out Kick-Ass. Mintz-Plasse has already a nice resume under his belt with such movies as Superbad, Role Models, and Year One and can now add another notch with Kick-Ass. Aaron Johnson, being that he was in every scene, was very well cast as the title character. He really brought the movie together and did a great job of making a real, down-to-earth character. However, the real show-stealer goes to the young Chloe Grace Moretz. Moretz has one of the most "controversial" roles of the film playing the 9-year old mob murdering Hit-Girl. Let me just tell you that if you are offended by a girl of this age saying some very crude words and packing enough hacking and slashing to make Kill Bill look like The Andy Griffith Show, then please walk away now.

Moretz was fantastic and was really the star of the show in my opinion. She took on the mature role extremely well and showed that she has some real acting chops. A lot of people were "offended" by her role, like that twat Roger Ebert. Well to that I saw get over it. This movie is rated "R". That means it probably isn't good for young children or the faint of heart. But what many people fail to realize is that the movie is also fiction. When you get so offended by something then you can no longer discern fact from fiction and it is you who needs some help.

Sorry about the rant and back to the review. The action in this movie was violent, intense and a wicked good time. It rivaled the action of many other comic book/superhero movies and Hit-Girl packed enough punch to make Bruce Lee flinch. The film also incorporated some very funny themes. This movie will have you laughing just as much as it will have you wincing at the sheer amount of damage that is dealt with each crushing blow from our heroes. I also thoroughly enjoyed the music in this film. Soundtracks are very important and the right music can make that perfect scene that much better which is the story with Kick-Ass.

Overall Kick-Ass is one of my favorite movies of the new year and will definitely be high on my list of overall amazing comic book movies. The characters were great, the acting was great, the action was great. An all around great movie for those who are not easily offended.

I give Kick-Ass 10 mob murdering little girls out of 10.

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