Friday, August 24, 2012

(Movie Review) The Expendables 2 (2012)

When I was younger I, like most kids, had toys that I would play pretend with. But playing with only one toy at a time was never as much fun as playing with lots of them at the same time. So I would add He-Man, Spiderman, a few Ninja Turtles, and Superman to the mix and have a blast. It didn’t matter if they were all part of their own toy lines, because mixing them all up together in one fun Battle Royale always made more sense to me. Then, while watching this movie, it finally made me realize why I loved the first film as well as The Expendables 2 so much. It reminds me of taking the very best toys from the toy box and putting them together to fight the bad guys. Watching the greatest action stars of the past 30 years, all on screen together, just makes you feel like a kid again.

Storyline: Mr. Church (Willis) calls in a favor to Barney Ross (Stallone) to collect on what should be an “easy paycheck”, but that mission becomes something much more dangerous when Jean Vilain (Van Damme) and a group of mercenaries kill a member of Ross’ team. Ross commissions his team to help him take down Vilain for the murder of one of their own.

I will go ahead and save you the trouble of making fun of Jean Claude Van Damme’s character name. Jean Vilain. Really? That is the best they could come up with? But in a way, it doesn’t really matter. Sure, if we sit back and poke holes in a very simple script we are destined to enjoy this movie much less. There are probably close to 200 (or more) people killed in this movie and no blood splatters on the wall/floor etc. In some scenes, people have their heads just disappear after being shot. But the fact that you get to see the people you grew up idolizing working together as a team should be enough to overlook that.

Surprisingly enough, Dolph Lundgren and Van Damme actually give some solid performances. Lundgren doing a few comedy bits that actually work is something that I was not expecting. And to see Van Damme as a villain in a movie works on so many more levels than watching him as the good guy…and the guy STILL has an awesome roundhouse kick.

Worth the admission? Without a doubt. Even my lovely wife, who is not a huge action movie fan (unless Nicholas Sparks decided to write one), liked it. Hats off to Terry Crews who, by some miracle, makes Arnold Schwarzenegger look like a tiny tiny man. Seriously. Terry Crews is a massive physical specimen. The whole movie and the actors within it are fun and enjoyable.

(Movie Review) The Campaign (2012)

Small doses. That is usually the setting that Ferrell and Galifianakis do their best work. Ferrell’s work on Saturday Night Live and movies like Old School make him stand out from the crowd, same goes for Galifianakis in movies like The Hangover, but you give them a movie where they are the lead and they tend to become overwhelming. Granted, this is just my personal reaction to them, I’m sure plenty of people love them in lead roles. So I was less than excited when I heard about this movie. I figured that it would be a few stupid jokes about the political make-up of the country and that would be about it. I’m happy to say that I was more than impressed with the comedy that this movie offered up.

Storyline: Congressman Cam Brady (Ferrell) is on the cusp of winning another term in office due to running unopposed. When two CEOs decide that his time as congressman should end they begin to back local Tourism Director Marty Huggins (Galifianakis) to run against Cam. After being publicly embarrassed numerous times by Cam, Marty decides that it is time to take the gloves off and start playing dirty. Huggins has to find a way to beat Congressman Brady at his own game without becoming the monster that he is trying to defeat.

This movie is GOLD to me. Not only has it been a while since I have laughed this hard at either of these actors, but the movie itself could not be any more perfect. Galifianakis walking around with that sweater and fanny pack on, Ferrell channeling his inner politician to give some of the best comedic political speeches since his days of impersonating George W. Bush on Saturday Night Live, and the general writing of the movie is great. I laughed a lot in this movie and I would bet that you will too.

Worth the admission? Does Marty Huggins love a Pug? Absolutely! I think that this comedy is more accurate about politics than most political dramas out there. I fully believe that those running for office tend to square off before hand, while smiling for the cameras, and talk “trash” to each other. Comedies are rarely really funny these days. Think about it. When is the last time that you just laughed your head off in a movie? Usually only gross out comedies make much money at all in the Box Office now. This movie, while FILLED with adult language, contains very little (if any) gross out comedy. Way more tame than movies like The Hangover 2, but a lot funnier for those that like exaggerated political humor. And with the elections coming up soon, who wouldn’t enjoy an exaggerated political comedy?

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

(Movie Review) LOCKOUT (2012)

I'm not going to make a big effort to come up with stuff to say about this movie? Why? Because it is really not worth the time. This movie is not anything to get too excited about or to take time to find. It's about as "meh" as you can get.

Storyline: Set in the near future, a falsely convicted ex-government agent has one chance at obtaining freedom. He must undertake a dangerous mission to rescue the President's daughter from rioting convicts at an outer space maximum-security prison.-IMDB.COM

Thoughts? This movie will forever be known to me as a movie with the WORST action scene in the history of movies. There is a scene where Guy Pearce is being chased on a motorcycle that looks like it was made by a 10 year old. It is trash. Maggie Grace is beyond horrible as an actress. She was tolerable in Taken and on LOST, but she is horrible in this movie.

I will give credit to Guy Pearce  for the physical shape he go in for the role. At some points in the movie I felt that this role was made for Hugh Jackman, because of Guy's size, mannerisms, and overall look. It was a real departure from what I have seen Pearce do in the past.

I would recommend that you skip the movie. It's just no good.

(Movie Review) Wanderlust (2012)

I have a special place in my heart for Paul Rudd movies. Always have. Since I saw him in Clueless he has been one of my go-to actors for uncomfortable comedic actors. He has a way about him that you you can honestly believe that he is the most sincere person in the scene. That is a rare quality that most actors do not have...yet he has an abundance of this quality. It's an amazing thing. Might be why his movies always get a pass with me...because he is that damn good at his job.

Storyline:After George is downsized from his financial firm and Linda's depressing documentary is cancelled, they can no longer afford their overpriced 'micro-loft' in New York. They find themselves with just one option - to pack up their lives and head south to move in with George's brother and his wife. George and Linda stumble upon Elysium, an idyllic community where the only rule is to be yourself.Written by Universal Pictures

Thoughts? This movie actually has some really funny moments. The nudist, Wayne (played by Joe Lo Truglio) hangs some serious "dong" in this movie, so be ready for that. This movie made me like Aniston's character in a few scenes and absolutely HATE her in others...which leaves you with an odd feeling as the movie ends, as you think that certain people deserve better than what they end up with. That is just my opinion.

Rudd does, unfortunately, has one of the most annoying scenes in the movie. It's a scene where he is trying to psych himself into having "relations" with another woman and it turns into about 2 minutes of stupidity. But, for the price of a trip to redbox, the movie is worth $1 to check out.

(Movie Review) Wrath of the Titans (2012)

Do you know what is better than a horrible rip off of a long loved/respected piece of scifi/fantasy history? A sequel to the horrible rip off. Because when it is all said and done, what is the industry about? Making dreams and memories for new generations of movie goers? NO! It's about trying to make mountains of cash off of the name of a movie instead of the quality of the movie. A sin that, I'm told, earns you a special spot in hell.

Storyline: A decade after his heroic defeat of the monstrous Kraken, Perseus-the demigod son of Zeus-is attempting to live a quieter life as a village fisherman and the sole parent to his 10-year old son, Helius. Meanwhile, a struggle for supremacy rages between the gods and the Titans. Dangerously weakened by humanity's lack of devotion, the gods are losing control of the imprisoned Titans and their ferocious leader, Kronos, father of the long-ruling brothers Zeus, Hades and Poseidon. The triumvirate had overthrown their powerful father long ago, leaving him to rot in the gloomy abyss of Tartarus, a dungeon that lies deep within the cavernous underworld. Perseus cannot ignore his true calling when Hades, along with Zeus' godly son, Ares (Edgar Ramírez), switch loyalty and make a deal with Kronos to capture Zeus. The Titans' strength grows stronger as Zeus' remaining godly powers are siphoned...Written by Warner Bros. Pictures 

Thoughts? This movie was trash. From start to finish. So, we have a sequel that basically makes the first movie pointless. Great job. Way to reward your fans. Also, the always-boring-as-hell Sam Worthington, gives us yet another example of why he is quickly disappearing from Hollywood as a "go to" leading man.

(REVIEW) ALIEN 3 (1992)

As the last of the Alien movies trickled in to the house, I finally conclude my watching of the entire Alien Franchise. Sure, they have been out of order, but that is alright. I won't complain.

Storyline: After escaping from the alien planet, the ship carrying Ellen Ripley crashes onto a remote and inhabited ore refinery. While living in the ore refinery until she is rescued by her employers, Ripley discovers the horrifying reason for her crash: An alien stowaway. As the alien matures and begins to kill off the inhabitants, Ripley is unaware that her true enemy is more than just the killer alien.-

Thoughts? This, to me, is the second best film of the Alien movies. Sure. It is as predictable as most of the others in the franchise, but you see a level of badass-ness that is sometimes missing from the other films. Sure, she gets tough in some instances in the other films, but in this one she is hardcore from front to end. Very solid movie and you should watch (or re-watch) it!

Friday, August 3, 2012

(Movie Review) The Watch (2012)

The Watch isn’t exactly “otherworldly funny”, but it manages to abduct a few laughs

If you are wondering, those puns were just as painful for me to write as they were for you to read. Nonetheless, they were too obvious for me to pass up. Much like how the concept for this movie was too obvious for Stiller and Vaughn to pass up. Why? Because neither of these actors have carried a movie on their own shoulders for a while. I’m sure that the thought of getting paid a lot of money to do a fourth of the work is really attractive. Think about it. When is the last time Stiller was funny without an ensemble cast to do all of the work? Zoolander (2001)? Vaughn hasn’t made me laugh since Wedding Crashers. Maybe they just work better in large groups. They are like the Hyenas of the comedy world. They can do nothing on their own but when they are in a large pack they actually appear formidable.

Storyline: After a grisly murder at the local Costco, store manager Evan (Stiller) takes it upon himself to start a neighborhood watch group. After he makes a public plea at a local sporting event, he ends up with 3 participants that agree to join his cause. While on a call one night they encounter something that confirms to them that we are not alone in this universe. The four men must find a way to protect their town, and the world, from an impending alien invasion.

I have to be the one that points out how completely unfunny Ben Stiller has been lately. I can name plenty of movies that were “OK” that he was horrible, unlikeable, and unfunny in. He just seems to phone it in most of the time. I know that some might disagree with me, but I feel like he was just as bad in this film. Not horrible, just not memorable. The only time that I laughed at his scenes was when he shared them with someone else (usually Jonah Hill or Richard Ayoade).

Worth the admission? It’s a pretty crude comedy. But other than the shortcoming mentioned about Stiller, the movie oddly works for me. I will say that it is worth the price of admission, but only because I was expecting it to be a huge disaster and it turned out to be much better than the previews suggested.

While this movie tries to force Ben Stiller on you as the star, Vince Vaughn’s character almost takes control of the film. Not that Vaughn is even that much better than Stiller these days, but his character was  consistently more likeable and funnier in this film than the “star”.

(Movie Review) The Dark Knight Rises (2012)

The Dark Knight Rises before Nolan allows his standards to fall

Bittersweet is a word that most people have used to describe the final film in the Christopher Nolan directed Batman Franchise. By definition, the word bittersweet means “for something to be pleasurable as well as painful of regretful”. I don’t really see this movie as bittersweet. Where is the “bitter”? With three wildly successful movies under his belt, Christopher Nolan has rescued the good name of Batman from the cartoonish hell that Joel Schumacher left the franchise in after Batman & Robin (1997). So why not consider this departure a SweetSweet conclusion?

Storyline: Years have passed since Harvey Dent died and Batman (Bale), after taking the fall to give police a reason the crackdown harder on crime in Gotham, went into hiding/retirement. When a new threat to the people of Gotham emerges in the form of a madman named Bane, Batman must come out of hiding and face off against one of his deadliest foes yet.

The great thing about these movies is that Christopher Nolan has found a way to improve upon the story and characters in every new film. While there is obviously a huge void to fill, after the exceptional performance given by Heath Ledger in The Dark Knight, Tom Hardy’s Bane is a surprisingly effective and genuinely scary villain.

Worth the admission? As if you can’t tell from the above comments I think that this movie is 100% worth the price of admission. It’s pretty long, but the movie never feels like it drags. Of the three films this movie seems to have the most developed story, the most even (and surprisingly good) acting, and some of the more iconic imagery that we have seen thus far. All in all, this may go down in history as the most fitting ending to one of the greatest Batman stories ever told. A truly good movie that all will enjoy.

Also, I am pleased to say that one of the trailers on The Dark Knight Rises is the highly anticipated, and long overdue, Man of Steel trailer. The trailer is short, heartbreakingly poignant, and promises to offer us a much grittier version of Superman. It absolutely cannot wait to see it!

Notes: I’m the first to admit that I am not a very big fan of Christian Bale’s Batman. The added GRUFF that he attaches to everything the character says, even when no one else is listening, is a huge irritation to me. Batman doesn’t growl. He doesn’t need to. You know who growls? Scrappy Doo. So whoever they pick to play Batman next (as this is the last time Bale will wear the cape and cowl) please do not feel the need to make Batman sound quite so constipated.