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.