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Movie Review – Don Jon: Hilarious, Raunchy & Creative

don_jon_posterMy body. My pad. My ride. My family. My church. My girls. My porn. These are the lines that Jon speaks to describe all the items in his life that are important to him. Yes, help the porn indeed! Jon is called Don Jon by his friends due to his incredible way with girls. And by way, buy I mean the way he can sleep with a different girl seemingly everyday of the week.

This all changes (well, sickness sort of), when he meets Barbara Sugarman (Scarlett Johansson with a distinct New Jersey accent). What starts off as a project in trying to get laid with Barbara becomes a full blown relationship. Jon finds himself in a position willing to give up hanging out with his friends, giving up his old lifestyle all because Barbara asks him too. Barbara catches him one night with “his porn”, finds it absolutely disgusting and is about to walk out. Jon convinces her it’s not his, a friend just sent it over. He tries to give it up, but is unable to. Upon doing one of the things he agrees to (in the most hilarious manner), he has a run-in with what seems like a crying crazy woman in the form of Julianne Moore. She, in many ways, is the opposite of Barbara Sugarman. Real, honest, and most of all, interested in getting to know what makes Jon tick.

Joseph Gordon Levitt plays a completely different character than he has in the past. To be blunt, there is nothing likeable or redeemable about Jon or his family. His dad, played by Tony Danza (completely in his element here), is addicted to football and insists on watching it during dinner. His sister never says a word and never leaves playing or looking at her phone. But Don Jon being his first film directed and written by him, Levitt pushes and challenges himself to play a character that none of us have ever seen him play. It is refreshing and hilarious at the same time.

What’s nice about Don Jon is that it’s not just a simple story about Don Jon getting his business on, but that Jon actually takes away something from his experience and learns from it. Sometimes you could feel that Don Jon had the paths of two different Jon’s juxtaposed with one another – one where he is with Esther (Julianne Moore), and the other when he’s with Barbara (Scarlett Johansen).

Due to the way Levitt creatively scripted and filmed Don Jon, it is hilarious and fun at the same time, even for those people who normally dislike raunchy movies (that would be me, even though I give them a try). An R-rated film for those who love the raunchiness and filth that only the crazy talent that Joseph Gordon Levitt can bring.

Considering this is Levitt’s first screenplay and first experience directing, Don Jon is an ultimate success. It is hilarious and outrageous how far Don Jon manages to go, with every character being somewhat of a caricature, but not totally out of reach. It showcases his ability to write a great and unique screenplay, and after finishing Don Jon, I for one am looking forward to see what comes from the brains of Levitt and his creative team.

If you can handle raunchy films, check out Don Jon. You might even find yourself liking it. 4 hail marys / 5 hail marys

Director: Joseph Gordon-Levitt
Screenplay: Joseph Gordon-Levitt
Release Date: September 27, 2013
Actors: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Scarlett Johansson, Julianne Moore, Tony Danza, Glenne Headly, Brie Larson

Links:
IMDB

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Movie Review – Rush: An Intense and Thrilling Race to the Finish Line

rush-poster-2013Rush is an exhilarating look at the real life rivalry and camaraderie between Formula One race drivers Austrian Nikki Lauda and Britain’s James Hunt leading up to the year of 1976 when they challenged each other directly for the World Championship title. One might think that a movie about Formula One racers may not be very appealing, what is ed especially given that race car driving is not exactly a popular sport here in the United States. With the story in the hands of Ron Howard however, try Rush becomes accessible as he compares and contrasts the two personalities by giving the audience a look on each sides as they compete with each other throughout the year.

Without really knowing the history of the Lauda and Hunt, it is difficult to say how accurate the film is. People who are fans of the sport will probably find inaccuracies, but as one who knows next to nothing, Ron Howard allows audiences to get caught up with the intense and thrilling drive of competition and speed between Lauda and Hunt. Rush is well crafted with the interweaving viewpoints switching back and forth between Lauda and his life during his rise to success and Hunt’s whirlwind, throw away personality in his similar rise to fame.

Chris Hemsworth as James Hunt is the perfect actor to display the care-free, womanizer, drinking, always ready for a laugh Hunt. His actions resulted in his wife Suzy Miller (Olivia Wilde) divorcing him. Lauda, played by Daniel Bruhl (who did a great job of looking like Lauda) has a straight laced Type A personality who seemingly lacks a sense of humor and comes off as kind of a jerk. Both were portrayed as really rather unlikable characters at the beginning, but they become endearing and likable despite their flaws at the end. Bruhl, who is more or less mostly expressionless here, constantly with an intense and awkward look to his face, but how Bruhl carries himself really portrayed Lauda to a T. Quite different in comparison to his roles in other films, which is always pleasing to see as a viewer to see an actor continually challenge themselves. The beautiful Alexandra Maria Lara is Marlene Lauda, Bruhl’s wife who grounds him and gives him happiness, making him more like able and more human. Marlene Lauda is just as beautiful in real life and with Lara’s big expressive soft eyes, you can see why Bruhl used her as his anchor.

Despite the speed required in racing on the Formula One races, the pacing of Rush takes on a slower but well spaced speed, allowing viewers to understand both personalities while moving the story ahead. Without realizing it, you might find yourself caring about each of the characters and invested in the story-line despite never caring about racing. Howard, at various points throughout the film, reminds the viewer that despite the rush one might get from watching these drivers race with “ticking time bombs”, there is always a very high risk of dying in the sport. This adds to the intensity of the film as with every race they show, you wonder if either Lauda or Hunt will have an accident (if you don’t know the story).

The look of the 70s is really detailed – from the clothes to the outfits, though perhaps not to the accuracy of Argo. However, it is obvious a lot of care have been taken into the shots and the setups, especially the cinematography and the shots of the drives. I particularly enjoyed the bits of flashbacks we are shown as to what is driving the passion and love for either Lauda or Hunt while on the track. At times, the score sounded epic, which matched with the intensities of the race.

There’s not much to fault Rush for, so I won’t. It’s a fascinating view on a small part of history in the world of Grand Prix racing that will make someone interested in the races even if for just a few seconds. The direction, acting, score, cinematography are all in top form here. Whether you catch it in theatre or decide to rent it, Rush will definitely not leave you disappointed. 5 McLarens / 5 McLarens.

Director: Ron Howard
Screenplay: Peter Morgan
Release Date: September 27, 2013
Actors: Daniel Brühl, Chris Hemsworth, Olivia Wilde
Based on a true story

Links:
IMDB

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Movie Review – What Maisie Knew: Heartbreaking to watch

whatmaisieknewWhat Maisie Knew will be a film that pulls your heart out, pills stamp over it, rx and put it back in your body only to leave you feeling battered. Onata Aprile here as Maisie does a wonderful job making you feel sorry for her. A bright, young little girl observes the moment when her father (Steve Coogan) and mother (Julianne Moore) separate then divorce, without saying much of a word. Susanna, her mother, is a singer who tours, smokes, has erratic possessive behaviour. Beale, her father, is a business man (of sorts) who is the father that pops in and out of his daughter’s life. Both claim to love their daughter very much but is unwilling to sacrifice their careers in order to give the love that Maisie deserves. Her nanny Margo (Joanna Vanderham) takes care of Maisie, as opposed to Maisie’s non existent parents. Even Lincoln (Alexander Skarsgaard) who ends up marrying Susanna has more of an interest in Maisie than Susanna does. Both Margo and Lincoln quickly discover how they’ve been discarded by their spouses but continue to try and be there for Maisie despite making some mistakes.

For anyone who is a parent watching What Maisie Knew, I’m sure that by the end of the film, you’ll never want to leave your child even for the smallest moments. It is a heartbreaking little movie that leaves you flabbergasted by the amount of neglect made by each parent. On the flip side, it’s a wonder how much people can love a child more than the parents themselves. Susanna is emotionally messed up while Beale is unemotionally there. The combination is a poisonous environment to raise a child in, and it is obvious that Maisie is unhappy when she is with either parent. It is telling how Maisie simply speaks with her eyes, never saying anything about the behaviour of her parents, only furthering her own pain by keeping silent.

Of course, this is a pretty extreme case of neglect, but I believe that every family can
relate to parts of Maisie’s family even if we try not to believe that it is a possibility in our own lives – whether it be arguing in front of your child, saying the wrong thing, young children are sponges. Maisie shows that with every wrong action that her parents perform, her pain continues to grow, in addition to her fear and dislike of them. If anything, the film reminds parents that beyond gifts and toys, the most important thing for your child besides providing shelter and food for them is giving them your time. Children are smarter than you think.

What Maisie Knew is a film worthy of your time, if children is a part of your life, and especially if you are a parent. The acting is all around perfect, especially from Moore, who takes on a role that is to be strongly disliked by everyone as the mother who never really tries hard enough to be a good mother. Onata Aprile also stood out for me as a soft spoken sweet girl, never overacting, always underacting but emoting with her eyes. You couldn’t help but like her.

Definitely recommended. Beware: your heartstrings will be massively pulled.

Director: David Siegel, Scott McGehee
Screenplay: Nancy Doyne, Carroll Cartwright
Release Date: May, 2013, on video now
Actors: Onata Aprile, Steve Coogan, Julianne Moore, Alexander Skarsgaard, Joanne Vanderham
Based on the book of the same name by Henry James

Links:
IMDB

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Movie Review – Prisoners: Thrilling, Suspenseful and Well Acted

prisoners-poster
Prisoners is a slow burning thriller that will leave you questioning your morals at the end of the film. One might even feel justified given the ending, hemorrhoids but does the actions of one make it right to go to extremes? These are the questions that Prisoners wants to leave you with and does so extremely well.

We’re first introduced to the loving and seemingly happy family of the Dover family, migraine with Keller Dover (Hugh Jackman) a father who has survivalist ideals who keep his wife Grace (Maria Bello), find daughter Anna and son Ralph (Ralph Dover) feeling protected and safe. They are visiting their neighbours the Birchs (Franklin, played by Terrence Howard and Nancy played by Viola Davis) for Thanksgiving Dinner. AFter dinner, as the Dovers and Birches spend some time together, Anna and Joy Birch (Kyla Drew Simmons) decide they want to look for the red whistle that Keller gave Anna which she lost back at the Dover’s home. Earlier, Joy’s sister Eliza and Ralph took them out for a walk when Anna and Joy start playing on this old beat up RV parked outside the home, when they discover someone is inside. Frightened, they leave immediately and return home. It is then that they have gone missing.

Prisoners weaves an excellent mystery along with a story of a father willing to go to great lengths to do what he feels right in trying to find his daughter, even if that means doing something wrong, and the detective (Jake Gyllenhaal, who was terrific in his role as Detective Loki). It asks the viewers repeatedly “is this something you would do?”, “what would you do in the same situation?” At the same time, the mystery keeps you on your toes, revealing clues little by little from the very beginning.

Paul Dano who plays the suspect Alex Jones, was excellent here, in which his body language, his shifty eyes and mumbly sounds made one constantly question whether or not he really was the culprit. Were you to feel sorry for him? I think the answer ultimately is a very personal one. It is arguable whether or not the actions of Keller Dover were of any use to the search of his daughter. Interestingly enough, Loki was in the side of wrong many times, as we as citizens of the world often believe policemen would act. It also begs to question whether or not his actions were right. Is it okay to just break in without a search warrant? Loki does this multiple times. For the sake of the film, it is possible they need Loki to not follow protocol (that otherwise would result in evidence being thrown out and him getting in trouble.) But here they are, on a ticking time bomb, looking for the daughters of the Birch and Dover family, so protocol it seems, is flown out the door.

The cinematography by veteran Roger Deakins elevates the entire look and feel of the film, framing the clues carefully while basking the scenes in drearyness that feels eerily beautiful yet empty.

The acting all around is pitch perfect, from Gyllenhaal’s determination in solving the case, Jackman’s ruthless desparation of finding his daughter, Dano’s strange but eerie movements, to the breakdown of Bello as a mother who has lost all feeling or emotion, stationary in her own bed – all perfect. Prisoners also show the different ways of dealing with something as catastrophic as losing your child. Davis and Howard are just as good, though they are not given as much screen time. It is a stellar cast with a great mystery. When Leo appeared on screen (who plays the aunt of Alex Jones), her manner of carrying herself and walking really impressed me. It made me question whether or not her presence was to purposely seem a bit creepy or not, because the immediate dislike towards her was strong.

The vibe of Prisoners feels sometimes, foreign. Its dark, unrelentingly gloomy with the constant drops of rain, and it is Villeneuve’s background coming from a different perspective than the usual glossy Hollywood mark that Prisoners feels like a weighty movie. This is Villeneuve’s first feature film in English, and he knocks it out of the park. Best known for his work on the Canadian film Incendies, here he is a master of direction, as every scene has been thought out carefully. All the scenes feel crucial to the story and understanding the end. The pacing is slow enough where the audience will invest in these and truly care about their goal to find their daughters, but fast enough that they’ll never get bored.

I think Villeneuve hits it out of the park for this one. Not a film for those who have a faint of a heart. If you have a love for the genre of suspenseful thrillers (which I do), head straight for “Prisoners”. If you’re expecting something shiny and sparkly here with a ton of action, constant clues being thrown at you with a pace of lightning, you’ll be sorely disappointed. Prisoners is a drama.

Watching Prisoners gave me the same satisfied feeling that I have after reading a really good mystery, which is not something I would usually describe a film. In fact, I continue to think about the clues and about the film. For that feeling alone, I give Prisoners 5 red whistles / 5 red whistles.

Director: Denis Villeneuve
Screenplay: Aaron Guzikowski
Release Date: September 20, 2013
Actors: Hugh Jackman, Jake Gyllenhaal, Melissa Leo, Paul Dano, Maria Bello, Viola Davis, Terrance Howard, Dylan Minnette

Links:
IMDB
Metacritic

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Movie Review: Scenic Route – Haunting Survival Film That Will Leave You Surprised

scenic_route_movie_posterIf there’s one thing this movie did, website like this it was surprise me. My jaw kept on dropping moment after unexpected moment on this relationship film between two friends, more about that of Carter (Dan Fogler) and Mitchell (Josh Duhamel). If anyone said that Josh Duhamel couldn’t act after seeing this film, information pills I’d say they were crazy.

The tension is high between Mitchell and Carter as they embark on their destination via the “scenic route” when their truck breaks down in the middle of the road, with no one around to help them and miles away from any sort of city. One might think that because Duhamel and Fogler are in this film, that Scenic Route might be a comedy, but in reality, it’s anything but. It’s really a story about survival and a friendship that reaches its limits, breaks down and asks some very real questions about what you might be thinking if you believed you were not going to survive.

It was very despairing watching as Carter and Mitchell’s situation kept on getting worse as they continued to miss out on help that would arrive, but then leave because of where they were, the conditions they were in, or just by the way they looked. At the core of it, it’s two friends working through their issues with one another and due to the worst possible situation these issues all come to a head.

At the beginning of the film I wasn’t sure what kind of film it would be. Would it be slightly comedic? It was clear from the first frame however that it would be a serious film. The desert was beautiful, haunting, and scary all at the same time. And as things just kept on getting worse and worse, you couldn’t help but wonder what kind of fate Carter and Mitchell would find themselves.

It’s hard to truly discuss the film without revealing any spoilers, but Scenic Route, if you are comfortable with slow burning shows and films, Scenic Route will reward you by leaving you thinking about the ending, either questioning what happened or find yourself in philosphical discussion as the the film brings up some deep questions.

Needless to say, everything about “Scenic Route” was impressing, and nothing about it was the standard fare that I thought the movie would be. The cinematography and the script brought a feeling of realism to their journey that made you feel like you were about to watch a horror movie, but instead, it brings you in a completely different direction. The characters felt real, even in their stupidity (no water, no extra food, no nothing?). You could feel them start to lose themselves as the hours in the poisonous heat and lack of water have started to cause delirium and cause a negative effect in their chance of survival.

Scenic Route is one route worth taking, it will leave you thinking and appreciating taking the road less traveled. Wonderful little film. 4 keys / 5 keys

Director: Kevin Goetz, Michael Goetz
Screenplay: Kyle Killen
Release Date: August 23, 2013
Actors: Josh Duhamel, Dan Fogler

Links:
IMDB

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Watch Scenic Route Now

Sad…

Something went majorly amiss when I was trying to work on one of my other blogs, cialis so, I have lost all reviews since well, Snow White and the Huntsman. Who knew that everything would be lost when I wasn’t touching this site, just another site on another server? So bizarre. Not a good idea. So, those blog posts are lost as I never backed them up and only had something from 2012. Also parts of my site is missing – I guess it’s an opportunity for me to rework the site. I’ll have to try and grab the old content off of Google Cache! Sorry for the disruption.

The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones: Lack of character development, lack of plot

-Recommendation Goes Here-

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mortal_instruments_city_of_bonesDirector: Harald Zwart
Screenplay: Jessica Postigo
Release Date: August 21, medical 2013
Actors: Lily Collins, Jamie Campbell-Bower, Robert Sheehan, Lena Heady, Jonathan Rhys Meyers
Based on the book of the same name by Cassandra Clare

The Mortal Instruments City of Bones is based on the book of the same name by Cassandra Clare, author of The Mortal Instrument series. It follows a young teenage girl by the name of Clary (Lily Collins), who is thrust into a world filled with vampires, demons, warlocks, werewolves, and demon hunters. Her mom Jocelyn, who tried to protect Clary from the truth ends up being taken and goes missing. Clary, with the help of her best friend Simon and her new demon hunter (called Shadowhunters) “friends” (Jace, Isabelle and Alec), tries to find her mom and the Mortal Cup that everyone in their race covets, especially Valentine, her father whom her mom tried to hide away and run from.

Let’s get this out of the way first – I loved reading The Mortal Instruments series. Clary herself, not so much. So this review will be written in the point of view of someone who has read the books and make direct comparisons with what parts worked and why some (or most) parts I felt, failed.

What worked:

1. The acting. Jamie Campbell Bower especially impressed me in his portrayal of Jace, as did Robert Sheehan who brought Simon literally to life. It’s too bad the script was fairly weak which didn’t give the actors much to work with, but what they were given they accomplished well.

2. The jabs that Jace and Simon give each work perfectly. The chemistry between Robert Sheehan and Jamie Campbell Bower was funny and they worked well with one another, but I felt at some times when there could have been an opportunity for a remark thrown by Jace or Simon, they are left with nothing to do, especially Simon.

What didn’t work:

1. The music: Distracting, forced. For some reason this element jumps to the forefront of problems of the film. Instead of letting the actors carry the film or using imagery to evoke an emotion out of the audience, music was used instead. Creepy scene? Cue the creepy music. The scene with the Silent Brothers was supposed to jar us. But lay over really creepy music that doesn’t fit the scene just made it seem cheesy. Show us through the actors, through the set and the mood, but don’t overpower us with the music. Love scene? Cue the horrible pop music. The love scene in the greenhouse was awful with the pop music. This doesn’t help with the Twilight image that this series already has. A score would have been fine. The whole set up leading to the kiss felt, for lack of better words, choreographed. This film will feel less dated had they stuck with a score instead of deciding on inserting a current pop song in the middle.

2. Lack of chemistry or tension build up. I understand that Lily Collins is an attractive girl and Jamie Campbell Bower is extremely good looking, but for them to fall completely in love with one another so quickly (especially Jace to Clary) was not very believable.

3. Rushed storyline with a lack of character development (editing): It seemed as though the film focused on moving from one point to another, without actually taking the time to allow the audience to invest in the characters. Why should we care about Clary and what happens to her mother? Why should we care about Jace and his family? We don’t get a good idea of who these people are, and what would make them endearing to us. They slow down at parts that aren’t important (read, the romantic scenes – and not even done very well) and then speed up at parts which are critical in which people miss certain important explanations.

4. Valentine: As much as I enjoy Jonathan Rhys Meyers I was extremely disappointed with the costume and his whole portrayal of the antagonist of the entire series. Instead of what I had pictured in my head – a Hitler of sorts who believed in his ideals who was manipulative and cunning, we got a raving lunatic for the Mortal Cup. Think the Emperor from Star Wars. There was no real explanation as to his actions and it bothered me as to why he was forcing Clary to drink from the Cup. It took me out of the film completely. Even someone who followed the film should be confused as well. Clary is already a shadow hunter. What would the Cup really do? And Valentine doesn’t experiment from drinking from the cup before he disappeared. The focus on the cup, though important, should have not been the end all. Also, Valentine does have a connection with Jace and Clary, and in the film, they honestly could have been strangers to him. Instead of the audience being scared of him, Valentine just ends up looking crazy. The film really messed up in terms of the character which I’m not sure how they’re going to fix in City of Ashes.

5. Cheesy scenes that are or aren’t supposed to be cheesy? Possible Spoilers ahead: When Clary visits her neighbour for the second time along with Jace, Isabelle, Alec and Simon, the whole scene felt cheesy. Using music as a way to goad a demon out just seemed well, funny. In the book, it was a lot more scary than they made it to me. They could have taken the opportunity in making the film feel darker, giving the audience feel there is more at stake than making this a light scene. The humor should come from the characters, but not the demons. Which brings me to the next point…

6. Tone: Young adults watching the film should be able to enjoy the film adaptation, though adults may desire something more dark in tone.

In general, the film jumps from scene to scene without ever explaining itself, and we’re just supposed to accept them the way they are. The Silent Brothers are never explained and voila! Here we are in front at the entrance to City of Bones. The introduction of Magnus Bane almost seems ridiculous. The vampires kidnapping Simon because “they want Clary” instead. That makes sense how? Not only that, they say it and it’s never explained why. We are not introduced to Raphael, who has a more important role in the next film. The audience is just led to believe that Valentine is the big bad with no real reason at all. What is the purpose of having the portal within the Institution? I haven’t heard of such a bad idea. Doesn’t that just mean Valentine could have appeared there at any time? The Institute is supposed to be a safe place. Hodge was actually a bad character too, but you don’t get any sense of that at all.

I’d like to request a re-do if possible, but we’re not going to get another The Mortal Instruments. Shame. I think series like these lend themselves better to a 12 episode television mini-series. The audience would actually get a chance to know the characters better without jumping directly into the action/plot and also get a better idea of the world they are being asked to accept. Instead, we got an extremely rushed film with strange pacing and little character development. The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones might have been much better under a more experienced director and an experienced screenplay writer.

Skip this one I say. If you love the books, you will be like me and probably see the film due to your love of the source. This film could have been much better, but I say this from the perspective of someone who read the books. Other people who I went with actually loved it a great deal who have not read the books, or thought it was okay. So, keep in that mind. If you really want to see it, wait until rental. 2 runes / 5 runes

Links:
IMDB

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TED: A Teddy Bear for Adults

ted_movie_posterDirector: Seth MacFarlane
Screenplay: Seth MacFarlane, discount Alec Sulkin, Wellesley Wild
Release Date: June 29, 2012
Actors: Mark Wahlberg, Mila Kunis, Seth McFarlane

Ever since the trailer first came out during commercials during Family Guy, I have wanted to see “TED”. It is THE comedy of the summer that I was looking forward to.

For those who haven’t seen the trailer, TED is about the speaking, walking teddy bear that comes to life because a young boy named John wished he would come to life and be his best friend forever. Fast forward 25 (or so) years later. TED aka “Teddy” smokes pot, hits on girls and brings them home. It’s not only John that lives with Ted, but John’s long time girlfriend Lori (Mila Kunis) as well. She’s fed up with the lack of responsibility that John takes on and wants Ted to move out. So… the story begins.

The idea will either seem stupid or hilarious to people. Seeing as I rather enjoy Family Guy and see Ted as a real life Brian/Peter of sorts in the form of a cute and cuddly bear, the concept really tickled my funny bone. Being Seth McFarlane’s first feature film, I felt that “TED” was like a live-action Family Guy, but with more sentiment and more emotion than I had expected. It turned out a lot less crass and crude, especially given what is normally encountered weekly on “Family Guy”. But TED definitely deserves its “R” rating as the amount of swearing would be a bit too much for any parent. But it seems that Seth Macfarlane is fairly polarizing (as is Mark Wahlberg). So, if you have a strong distaste for either of these people, one would say to stay far away from “TED”.

One might think that TED would lack a clear story, but it has a fairly nice story arc, and even a side story with Giovanni Ribisi’s character that would tickle anyone’s creepy yet funny bone at the very same time. The movie is full of great one-liners that one is sure to chuckle about once the movie is over.

What was a nice surprise was that most of the scenes from the trailer are seen in the first thirty minutes of the film, leaving most of the movie to be fresh and new to the viewer. This is not the case for most films out today where it seems trailer after trailer released reveals so much about a film to the point the viewer feels they have seen the entire film. This is definitely not the case with “TED”.

Some people are turned off by Mark Wahlberg which is a shame, because he’s in reality, a fairly diverse actor. He can do cool, he can do corny and funny, and he can also do sentiment. He’s pitch perfect here, and fairly funny. Mark Wahlberg is new to the world of Seth McFarlane, as many people will recognize actors that have worked with McFarlane in the past, mostly from “Family Guy”.

For the most part, it was an incredibly enjoyable and tells a similar story of the “loser friend” that the main character must grow out of in order to become a more responsible person and mature into an adult so he can have be the proper boyfriend to his girlfriend. If you can handle crude humor, “TED” is the movie for you. Endearing yet funny, “TED” is so far my favorite comedy of the summer, and I think it will be a hard one to beat.

Teddy bear that talks? Check. CRUDE teddy bear that talks? Check. Mark Wahlberg, check. What a fun summer movie – highly recommend! Four Thunder Buddies / Five Thunder Buddies

Links:
TED

Amazon: Watch Ted Now (Unrated)

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Snow White and the Huntsman: Lackluster but Darkly Beautiful

Director: Rupert Sanders
Screenplay: Evan Daugherty, web John Lee Hancock, Hossein Amini
Release Date: June 1, 2012
Actors: Kristen Stewart, Charlize Theron, Chris Hemsworth, Sam Claflin

The trailers for “Snow White and the Huntsman” looked interesting, at least more than when the news first came out that Kristen Stewart had been chosen to play Snow White. Full disclosure: I am not a Twilight fan nor am I a Kristen Stewart fan. I’ve been able to find talent underneath Robert Pattinson’s sparkly skin in other films he has done, but Kristen Stewart has not managed to do much for me in other films she has been in.

So, how did Kristen Stewart fare in this new retelling of the famous fairytale? Not well, in my opinion. In fact, she is clearly what brought down the quality of the film from what could have been great to simply “just okay”. Charlize Theron brings all her talent to the table as Ravenna, the evil Queen who has a strong hatred for men and has been somewhat cursed with a magical beauty at a price. Seeking to be the fairest one of them all due to a spell her mom cast on her when she was very young, she is stuck trying to remain beautiful in order to manipulate what she wants. She hires the Huntsman (Chris Hemsworth) to capture Snow White so the evil Queen can claim her beating heart to break the curse and live in all eternity with her beauty. Snow White had been locked up for 10 years since her father’s death before she escaped, having lived in a tower imprisoned by her evil stepmother. Kristen Stewart plays Snow White, known for her physical and unmatched innocence, pure heart and beauty. She escapes early on and is determined to bring down the evil queen with the help of the Huntsman.

There are several problems with this film, one of which is the casting of Kristen Stewart as Snow White. There is no doubt she looks the role with her dark brown hair and fair skin. Snow White is supposed to be the purest of them all, the one in the fairy tales that is connected deeply with all animals, nature and the people. Her pure heart shines through and inner joy can be seen in all her mannerisms. That is who she is. That is what they tried to give to her, but instead of really showing us, it was told and not only that, worse, it felt forced. Almost all the scenes Kristen were in that involved showing her connection with nature and bringing about a sense of goodness simply felt forced. This also applied to almost every scene in which she shared with another actor. There simply was no chemistry, especially when one would expect between the Huntsman and Snow White. I felt all of the supporting actors did a great job with what they had to work with, but Kristen Stewart was simply wrong for the role. The one scene in which I felt she was organic and did well was she was rallying up soldiers to fight and the scenes thereafter. However, I was again let down when she met up with the Evil Queen and the very lackluster ending with her heaving up and down, a mistake that Emma Watson did often during Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. It was distracting. Her expression is always the same, with her mouth open. I’ve seen her do better in other films.

Having said that, the positives of Snow White and the Huntsman were definitely Charlize Theron, the soundtrack thanks to James Newton Howard, and the wonderful dark visuals offered by Rupert Sanders who did a wonderful job bringing his vision of the world of Snow White to life. I love a dark take on popular stories, especially those of fairy tales (as they are truer to the original story than the Disney re-tellings). The main weakness besides Kristen Stewart was the lack of fleshing out the role of the evil Queen. We are shown with short glimpses why Ravenna is as messed up as she is, and why she has been cursed with this unparalleled desire to stay young and beautiful, but we never get to the heart of it. Ravenna always seems to be on the edge of shattering to a million pieces due to how bitter and angry she is, but the reason escapes the audience, as it did me. Theron did the best she could given the script and even added another dimension to her role, but due to the script never fully explaining her character, viewers will only be left with a bunch of questions.

Chris Hemsworth does a very good job as the drunkard Huntsman, and Sam Claflin, though in few frames, does what he can do as the Duke’s son and Snow White’s childhood friend of William.

The movie felt very long, and some scenes in the dark forest could have been edited out, including those scenes in which the dwarfs, Snow White and the Huntsman are climbing up a mountain with the cliff just to the left of them. Those just screamed “Lord of the Rings” to me, and they were not needed as they didn’t add anything to the film. I also felt the dwarfs were introduced too late into the film, never allowing the audience to make any sort of connection with them, except for one (of which I shalt not spoil).

In the end, due to the awkward and unbelievable scenes involving Kristen Stewart, this movie ends up just being okay. Had any other actor who found the right balance between edgy and of pure heart found its way on screen, Snow White and the Huntsman would have been great, despite the few editing and pacing issues.

If you like Kristen Stewart or love Charlize Theron, I would highly recommend. Otherwise, I would say just wait for the DVD. 2 apples / 5 apples

Links:
IMDB

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Battleship: Cheesy but End-Of-The-World Fun

Director: Peter Berg
Screenplay: Erich Hoeber, search Jon Hoeber
Release Date: May 18, doctor 2012
Actors: Taylor Kitsch, read more Alexander Skarsgård, Brooklyn Decker, Rihanna and Liam Neeson

Unfortunately for Taylor Kitsch, it hasn’t been a very good year in terms of film success. With the flop of John Carter, I’m not sure Disney wants to hire Taylor Kitsch for another movie any time soon, but viewers are given another chance to give Taylor a try by one of this summer’s earlier blockbuster movie “Battleship”. I’ve been asked whether or not it is based on the board game, and well, the answer is “yes”. Having been out for a month (or so?) in other parts of the world, I’m sure there are other reviews, but I’ll add another one to the bunch.

“Battleship” is not going to win any awards, but if you don’t expect anything more than popcorn fare, spectacular theatrics and a cheesy script, “Battleship” is for you. As someone who watches the Syfy produced sci-fi movies, knows they’re bad but watches and laughs anyway, admittedly “Battleship” is in the ballpark of being almost ten times better than the Syfy fare. Mostly in part due to the amazing graphics of the battleship and alien aircraft scenes.

In similar fashion to those Syfy movies, “Battleship” is an alien invasion film, in which the inhabitants come from a land similar in make-up to earth and for some reason or another, has invaded the U.S. to utilize their communications systems and satellites from Pearl Harbor. Taylor Kitsch plays dead beat Lieutenant Alex Hopper who is willing to go the distance to win a girl’s (Brooklyn Decker’s Sam) heart by getting himself arrested but has no self discipline in keeping himself straight to stay within the navy. His brother Commander Stone Hopper (Alexander Skaarsgard) is the opposite, who is well behaved and well looked upon within the navy. Liam Neeson plays Five Star Admiral Shane as well as Sam’s father (of course). During a training course west of Pearl Harbour, Alex Hopper and the rest of the battleships (including Japan’s) find themselves in a rather precarious position while the aliens invade. They can’t get out, and no one else can get in.

As with most blockbusters, there are always a few loopholes and things that don’t quite fit in the scheme of the story, but looked past since a tight nit story is not the point of these kinds of films. Taylor Kitsch has always reminded me of Timothy Olyphant, but he has so far not shown the range of talent that Olyphant displays in his film. Kitsch has only two expressions it seems – intense and somewhat goofy intense. He is well liked enough, but nothing about his character really stands out.

How is Rihanna? That’s the question I’m sure everyone is curious. She’s surprisingly… not bad. As a supporting role and given what she has to do, she does a decent job. My favorite scenes are when Alex Hopper and Captain Yugi Nagata (Tadanobu Asano) work together to save the world, and when Seaman Jimmy Ord (Jesse Plemons) makes some remark or another resulting in some laughter from the audience.

The aliens are pretty well done in their creepy reptilian fashion with their Cylon-like costumes. The best invention that they came up with were the Transformer-like spiky red balls. Okay, so it’s not a very scientific term, but when you see them on screen, it’s one thing that will frighten you because of the way it destroys everything in its path. One might not understand why they destroy what they destroy, but, as a viewer, I went with it. I thought the many tie-ins to the board game were rather clever, but I won’t name what they were otherwise that would spoil some of the fun discovery if you played the game and plan on watching the film.

Sigh, I wrote a lot more but was lost in the ether. Anyway, the short of it is if you’re looking for a fun SciFi popcorn flick without much expectation and know that the script is weak, as are the characters, then I think one will get exactly what they’re hoping – a standard summer blockbuster. I had fun. I hope that at least Taylor Kitsch has a more successful film out of this one than “John Carter”.

Recommended, as long as you know what you’re in for. 2 Buoys / 5 Buoys

Links:
IMDB

Watch the Trailer: