Friday, April 20, 2012

(MOVIE REVIEW) The Cabin in the Woods

What do people think of when you say geek? Is it the traditional acne infested kid with a pocket protector that can speak Klingon? Well that, faithful readers, is a stereotype. Geeks come in all shapes and sizes! They may be in tiny guy that is one missing inhaler away from an ER visit, or they may come wrapped in the package of a ruggedly handsome movie reviewer that has loved all things geek since he was a kid. The rarest of the geek-world are those that are so funny, intelligent, insightful and, dare I say, “popular”, that they almost seem too good to be true. Joss Whedon, writer and producer of The Cabin in the Woods, is the perfect example of the aforementioned alpha-geek.

Storyline: When a group of five friends embark on a weekend long trip to a secluded cabin they have nothing on their minds except being young and partying. Once they reach the cabin they find that not everything is as it seems. Two way mirrors, a basement full of discarded memorabilia (that each person seems to be drawn to), a change in their personalities, and, oh yeah, video surveillance. Not to mention a clan of zombies. The group must find a way to survive this crazy weekend and to find out what other secrets are attached to the cabin….even if it is the last thing that they ever do.

To all of those people that continue to remake movies and rehash old Hollywood staples, PLEASE pay attention to this movie. This film is more original than anything that I have seen in a long time. Possibly since The Matrix. I don’t think that a lot of critics “get” the movie. We have all sat around and watched horror movies and said, “Ugh. Why is this always the same? Why do we see the same old thing with a new cast behind it”? Thanks to this movie, you will never have to question that again.

Worth to admission? As if you can’t tell from my above praise, YES! This movie drips with clever dialog, fantastic acting (especially from Fran Kranz), and some of the coolest movie monsters to ever be on film (even if they are only in the movie for a few minutes). Cabin takes all of the things that we have gotten so bored by in traditional horror movies and flips it. It is easily the most original movie that you have seen this year. Do yourself a favor and go to The Cabin…you don’t even need to bring bug spray.

NOTE: Joss Whedon has created some of my favorite characters on TV, and I have always had faith in him, but this movie gives me hope that his next movie, The Avengers, will be handled with the attention and respect that the characters and fans deserves.
Let me know what you thought of the movie

(TV REVIEW) American Idol

Alright. I'm probably one of the only guys that will admit that they watch American Idol...but I can't help it. I never really watched it until the year Carrie Underwood won and I have been hooked since. AI is now a staple in the Spring TV Lineup in the Jenkins House. So, that brings me to this season.

So far, I have to say that I am amazed at the quality of singers and completely UNDERwhelmed by their lack of originality. They all, for the most part, sound like they are singing Karaoke. There are only a few standouts in my opinion and one of those is a local Mississippian named Skylar that rocks the socks off this show. She is amazing.

As for my official top 3 predictions, I think that Joshua, Phillip and Skylar will be in the final 3, but I can't call a winner after that. So do yourself a favor and check it out!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

(Movie Review) American Reunion (2012)

The year was 1999.  Gas was only $1.22, Napster was the music download king, and four friends from East Great Falls High entered into a pact that would unfold as one of the greatest teen comedies of our generation. It was one of those rare movies that, if you were about the same age as the characters, spoke to you in a way that few movies do. Now, I can’t speak to the female perspective depicted in these movies, but I can tell you that as an 18 year old male, I saw myself (and my friends) in so many of the characters in this film. As the franchise progressed it was funny that I, again, found myself relating to where the characters where in their own lives. Then a horrible thing happened. Some “genius” in Hollywood decided to market a slew of Direct-to-DVD movies that ended up exactly where they should…the bottom of the discount DVD bin. So it was with EXTREME pleasure that I watched this movie as it marked the rejoining of the original cast in a new adventure.

Storyline: It’s been over a decade since the group from East Great Falls High graduated and it’s time for a reunion. The hard part about a reunion is seeing how much you have changed and, for most of this group, how much hasn’t changed at all. Jim (Biggs) and Michelle (Hannigan) are starting to feel like their lives are in a rut but they hope that a nice relaxing weekend at their reunion will help them reconnect. But when the gang gets back together the old high school hijinks ensue and call an end to the romance that seems to be missing in their relationship. The old gang is out to prove that growing older doesn’t mean that you have to actually grow up.

Worth the admission? If you are a fan of the original movie, I say that it is a definite YES. If not, the movie may fall very flat with you. This is one of those movies that are not really written to attract a new audience, it is only here to offer another chapter to the story and characters that many people fell in love with 13 years ago. If you are anything like me you will walk out of the theater with plans of downloading the soundtrack on iTunes and looking up old high school friends that you have lost touch with. You know the ones. As a 90’s teen, this movie was dripping with nostalgia and references that made me feel like a teenager again. Make sure you check it out!

Note: I must warn that this is a pretty hard “R” rating and has a good bit of foul language and some nudity, so make sure that you aren’t allowing minors in to see it.
If you loved it as much as the original, or thought it was a poorly executed attempt to cash in on the past success, let me know.

(Movie Review) The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011)

Do you love movies where the people are all of the highest moral standings and the female characters are full of hope, optimism, and they are always wearing their Sunday best??? Well go watch the Walton's, because this movie is the exact opposite. Most of the people in this movie are the lowest of the low, even the "hero" in this movie is not of the norm. That being said, this movie was great. The characters, the acting, the scenery...everything was as appealing as one could hope for. The story is, at least to me, somewhat predictable (as I figured it out once all of the characters had been revealed), but that doesn't make the movie any less fun to watch.

Storyline: Journalist Mikael Blomkvist (Craig) is aided in his search for a woman who has been missing for forty years by Lisbeth Salander (Mara), a young computer hacker. - IMDB.COM

Thoughts? This movie was pretty great. Not really for the weak stomached, as the scenes with torture/murder and there is a particularly disturbing rape scene. But the movie itself was very well done and very enjoyable. Make sure to see it!

(Movie Review) Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close (2011)

I have never liked a movie so much yet liked the main actor so little. This is an absolutely wonderful movie that, at some times, is almost ruined for me by the main character. No, it isn't because of the challenges that his character has, it is because of the way the actor delivers some of the performance. There are moments that the character/actor are spot on and really make you feel the message of the film, then some times it drops off and becomes almost like a caricature of the affliction that the main character suffers from. For me, the performance just felt to uneven.

Storyline: A nine-year-old amateur inventor, Francophile, and pacifist searches New York City for the lock that matches a mysterious key left behind by his father, who died in the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. - IMDB.COM

Thoughts? Even though Tom Hanks was not in the whole movie, I loved him in this. I also loved the performance from Max von Sydow. Because of them and the amazingly heartbreaking situation that this movie depicts, I say check it out. But be prepared for a few moments where you find Thomas Horn to be slightly aggravating.

(Movie Review) Immortals (2011)

If 300, Conan and Clash of the Titans had a little ripped, mean, and highly stylized baby...this would be it. The movie honestly feels like they took those three movies and smashed them together. That isn't really a bad thing, as they were all good action/testosterone flicks, but the movie really doesn't stand alone with its own identity. It feels like they took the wardrobe and actors from 300, the sword play from Conan, and mixed both of those stories with the Gods/Demigods from Clash. It's just so easy. Easy movies are never as rewarding as those that you have to "get". Anyway, I'm rambling.

Storyline: Theseus (Cavill) is a mortal man chosen by Zeus to lead the fight against the ruthless King Hyperion (Rourke), who is on a rampage across Greece to obtain a weapon that can destroy humanity. - IMDB.COM

Thoughts? Meh. The movie was great for a popcorn flick. Also, I was glad to see that the new Superman (Henry Cavill) can be such as bada**, as I think that was missing a LOT for the last Superman movie. Overall, I would say that you should check it out, but only if you are in the mood for some blood, guts and half naked men.

PS. Stephen Dorff is in this movie! I thought he was dead. Glad to see that he isn't homeless...yet.

(Movie Review) The Hunger Games (2012)

I love movies. We all already knew this, but in recent years some “blockbusters” have made me a little more cynical than I once was. Movies like Harry Potter, which I found boring, and Twilight, which I found to be an abomination to the film industry, have given me little hope that a well-rounded movie can be produced from the books that are popular among teens and young adults these days. Going into The Hunger Games I started getting a little nervous. The setting was the same as it has been with the other movies mentioned. Teens and young adults crowded the theater like sardines packed into a tin. The lights went down, the credits began to roll, and then a magical thing happened…the movie wasn’t horrible. In fact, it was really (REALLY) entertaining.

Storyline: In a dystopian future the Capitol selects a male and female participant from each of the 12 districts, which once rebelled against the Capitol, to compete in a brutal competition. The Hunger Games is a contest that pits 24 people against one another in a fight to the death where only one person can survive. These contestants can be provided outside help from sponsors but ultimately must rely on themselves to survive and be crowned as the victor. At the lottery, to choose the participants, Primrose Everdeen (Shields) is chosen but her older sister, Katniss (Lawrence), offers herself as a volunteer to take her younger sisters place. Now, as a contestant in The Hunger Games, Katniss must find a way to survive the games and make her way back to her family.

I admit that I haven’t read the books, so I can’t speak to what this movie used and didn’t use from the source material. What I CAN tell you is that this movie was a lot of fun and ended up being so much more than I thought it would. While this movie may seem like a thrilling action film, it actually has some incredibly tender moments peppered throughout the film. The acting is actually really good in this film too. Woody Harrelson is fun, Stanley Tucci is as amazing as always, and Jennifer Lawrence plays the role of Katniss flawlessly. The only exception to the standout cast was Josh Hutcherson who, yet again, underwhelms. While he has one or two great scenes, I never feel that he fully conveys the emotions that he is trying to convey.

Worth the admission? Does Tucci look awesome in a blue wig? The answer is YES. The story was well balanced, the actors were great, and the film helped wash out the bad taste left in my mouth from the final 4 Harry Potter movies and Twilight. There may be hope for this genre yet!
Let me know what you thought of the movie

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

TOP 5 Fictional Male Heroes

Lists are fun, especially when they are lists about heroes doing heroic things. :) These are 5 of my favorite fictional male heroes.

#5. BATMAN: Some of you might be surprised  that he is at the number five spot, especially when you see who some of those above him are, but Batman is one of those characters that I LOVE, but don't like (if that makes any sense). For those that do not know, Bruce Wayne, after witnessing the murder of his parents, began to use his family fortune to finance his vigilante assault on the scum of Gotham City. He, all of his adult life, has made it his goal to wage war against any villain that poses a threat to the city that he loves and that he hopes to one day bring back from the edge of ruin.

So, why is he #5? Because he is such a downer. I don't mind a character to be "dark", but they need to have a more relatable side too. So, for that, he barely makes the list (as I was going to replace him with Rorschach from Watchmen)

#4 Captain America : This is a guy that is almost impossible not to like and respect. Sure, he comes off as a little too squeaky clean in the modern world of "dark" heroes, but he is still one of the most beloved and iconic characters that the world has ever seen. The back story for the character is that Steve Rogers, a weakling in size but with the courage of 10 men, wanted badly to serve his country during WW2. After being rejected, because of his size, he agrees to participate in an experiment that the Army is working on to create a race of Super Soldiers. After Steve successfully transforms into Captain America, the lab is destroyed along with the secrets of how Captain America came to be. Steve is later in pursuit of a villain and is thrust into freezing temperatures only to be later discovered (decades later), thawed, and he begins to fight crime.

I love that this guy is still very much a man from the 1940s. He still carries the ideals that where so prominent then. One of the most patriotic times in our history bleeds out of Steve Rogers in everything he says and does. A true hero.

#3 Malcolm "Mal" Reynolds: Those of you that do not know who this man is should be ashamed. Mal is the creation of Joss Whedon and was the main character in a short lived TV show (Firefly), the movie Serenity, and a series of comics. Mal was a fighter for the Independents or "Browncoats" against the Alliance. When the war was over, and the Independents lost, Mal became a rebel. Armed with a crew, his ship (a Firefly transport) and a strong sense of nobility, Mal does whatever it take to care for his crew and his ship. Sometimes this means doing things that most would find unethical, sometimes it means going against the law, but EVERYTHING that he does is always for the good of his crew and their safety/livelihood. He is a rebel in a war that has long been over...and he still thinks that he can win.

I love the commitment that this character has for his cause. Honestly, one of the most driven and interesting characters to come on TV in a long time. Most of the love for the character is driven by the insanely talented Nathan Fillion and the way that he steals every scene he is in.

#2 Angel: Again, another creation of Joss Whedon. Angel is a character that was introduced as a one note heartthrob on Buffy the Vampire Slayer and, by the second season of that show, had evolved into an amazing talent and a great partner (and sometimes a villain) to SMG's Buffy. Played by David Boreanaz, Angel is a character that is at odds with the world that he lives in. Born as an Irish slacker name Liam, he was turned into Vampire by his soul-less mate Darla and adopted the name Angelus. After years of wreaking havoc on the world, Angelus was cursed by a gypsy clan with a soul. Having a soul, and being forced to be remorseful for all of the wrong that he has done, forced Angelus into solitude and near the throws of insanity. He later finds his calling when he is introduced to Buffy, a young Vampire Slayer that Angel (as he now goes by) falls in love with and fights to become a better man for. The only problem with this is that Angel, if he achieves a moment of pure happiness, with lose his soul and begin to kill again. So, Angel must live a life of solitude, fighting for redemption and to hopefully find a way to become human once again.

The reason that I LOVE this character is that he is willing to do anything to redeem himself and pay for his past sins. He is willing to die, numerous times, just in the off chance that he may become human again one day. An awesome character that I have always favored over the other Vampires in TV/Movies.

#1 Superman / Doctor Who : Is it fair to have 2 #1s? No. But if you don't like it, write your own list. :). Really, I did it like this because one is a TV character and the other is a Comics character. These two actually have a lot in common, both from doomed planets that were destroyed and killed all of the planet's inhabitants, except for the occasional villain that shows up. Both have incredible powers. Both are always, through seeking them out or by chance, in the pursuit of helping those in need and saving the world time and time again.

 - #1 a. Doctor Who: If you don't know who "The Doctor" is, I suggest you look it up. Doctor Who is one of the most beloved characters in all of TV history. Having been on the air (on and off) since 1963, Doctor Who has been a highlight of many people's childhoods. The Doctor is the last of a great race known as Timelords. As the great Time War, between the Timelords and the Daleks, was coming to an end, The Doctor stole a spacecraft that could move throughout time and space, and decided to go on an adventure. As the ships cloaking device is now stuck, making the ship look like a Police Box, he now bounces through time in space in it looking for companions to take on adventures. The Doctor can die, of course, but upon death he can regenerate, giving him an entirely new body and attitude while still maintaining all of the memories of his past incarnations. He is now in his 11th form.

Doctor Who is a hero in every letter of the word. He saves people, time and time again, and the world never knows it. He doesn't use gun. His only weapons are his superior intellect and his sonic screwdriver. I fell in love with this character in 2005 and haven't shaken it since. Honestly, this is my favorite character to ever grace a TV screen.

 - #1 b. Superman : Born Kal-El on the planet Krypton, he was placed in a ship and rocketed to earth to avoid the cataclysmic destruction of his home planet. Arriving on Earth as a small boy, Kal-El is found by an elderly couple and taken home to live on their farm. As Clark Kent, Kal-El began to display powers that were far beyond those of mortal men. Super strength, heat vision, flight and many others made Clark an outcast, as he went to great lengths to hide is natural ability. After the death of his adopted father, Clark goes to work at the Daily Planet where he uses a disguise to fight crime in the streets of metropolis (and all over the world). Quickly named Superman, he fights daily for truth, justice, and the American way.

Honestly, this was actually my #1, but I just had to throw Doctor Who in there. Superman stands for everything I love about heroes. Selfless. Completely selfless. He always does what is right. He is a light in the dark shadow that is cast over the city of Metropolis. He doesn't compromise, he doesn't waiver, he is the greatest hero of my generation.

So that is it. That is my list. If you have someone that you think should have made it, let me know.

(TV REVIEW) Bones: Season 7 Premiere

So, I have been waiting for Bones to come back on for a while now (it has been on break longer than normal due to Emily being pregnant) and Monday night it finally came back on. The episode was OK, but the whole thing about  *spoilers below*

them giving birth in a manger, because the Inn was full....really? That is REALLY heavy handed and just beats you over the head with an analogy.

I have been aggravated about this show for a while now. After years of this show playing the "will they, won't they" angle they finally pay off the big hookup...OFF SCREEN? Come on! That is just cheap!

And B&B have great chemistry when it comes to being flirty/caring co-workers, but they suck as a couple. They act like buddies that tell each other "love you" every once in a while. After their baby popped out Booth says "We're a family now" and he could have said "I want a sandwich now" with the exact same amount of emotion.

The show can be better than this. It was never written to be taken too seriously, but has always been a good way to waste an hour. Now, I don't know if I will keep the faith and watch every week.