Sunday, January 31, 2010

The Final Destination (2009)

"The Final Destination" not to be confused with "Final Destination" was released in 3-D this past year.  I ended up watching it on DVD in 2-D.

The 3-D effects seem fun for a movie like this, as long as those damn glasses don't give the viewer a head ache.  But this is the type of 3-D that the medium is meant for.  There are many scenes of things flying towards the camera including tires, snakes, and fire.  

The story of "The Final Destination" is unoriginal.  Every single sequel is the same film as the original.  Someone has a vision, they evade the accident, they all die.  Nothing too new.

The effects were terrible in the film, but what can you really expect from this.  It is almost like a live action "Looney Tunes". 

The main character and his girlfriend were OK.  The supporting characters were bland.  The douche surfer dude and the racist hick were very annoying.  I guess you have to have a good annoying character in these films because when they die, the audience gets very excited.  

"The Final Destination" is just mindless entertainment.  You go in just to see things blow up and see people get decapitated.  That's pretty much all there is to the film.


Extract (2009)

Ay ay ay...  Boy was this a real stinker.

I couldn't believe how unfunny "Extract" really was.  There was only one scene that was mildly amusing involving Jason Bateman smoking pot, but the rest of it was so boring.  There was not one character I liked.  

I thought that the only redeeming quality "Extract" would have for itself is that Mila Kunis stars in it.  I like her, but she is barely in this and I don't even like her character.  

I am not the biggest Mike Judge fan.  I hate "Beavis and Butt-head" and I think "Office Space" is just OK, but "Extract" was worse than either of those.  At least those had funny points to it.  


Jennifer's Body (2009)

This was a strange choice for Diablo Cody's follow up to her Oscar winning screenplay of "Juno".  I was curious to see it because I loved her writing in "Juno", but the trailers made this film look terrible.  That was a good representation.  It was a bad film.

Frankly, I don't get what all the fuss is about Megan Fox.  She's pretty, but nothing special.  She looks more like a cheap porn star than a movie star and her acting is on the same level as a porn star.  She is terrible in everything I have seen her in.  It almost seems like this film was made specifically for her to show off how slutty she can get.  

Amanda Seyfried was the best thing about the movie.  She was good and I liked how her character totally changed by the end of the film.

I'm sorry to say that Diablo Cody's script was a bad one.  While I didn't mind the dialogue in "Juno", I couldn't stand it here.  It has the same type of speech that Kevin Williamson used to write for his characters in "Dawson's Creek".  It didn't bug me back then, maybe because I was younger, but now it irritates the hell out of me.  

"Jennifer's Body" was a dumb movie.  It seems like it was trying to bring back the style of horror "Scream" made popular in the 1990s.  Something is missing for it to work though.  There just wasn't anything special about it.


Friday, January 29, 2010

Gracie's Choice (2004)

Why am I reviewing a Lifetime movie, you may ask?  Why did I watch a Lifetime movie?  Well the answer is plain and simple: Kristen Bell.  I think she is a terrific actress and I am interested in all of her projects.  Also Lifetime movies have an addicting quality.  Even though they are incredibly corny, they are fascinating and hard to stop watching.

"Gracie's Choice" did have that quality of being addicting and very corny.  It kept my interest all the way through, but it wasn't the best Lifetime movie I had ever seen.  

Kristen Bell did a very good job playing a teenager who has to fight her mother for custody of her brothers.  Anne Heche played her crackhead mother and she did a great job.  She really seemed to embody what a druggie's life is like.

"Gracie's Choice" is an interesting movie that will pass the time on a rainy day.  I wouldn't say you should go out and rent it as soon as possible, but if you get the chance to see it, maybe you will enjoy it.  The film screams "Lifetime", which isn't always a bad thing.


Friday, January 22, 2010

Peter Pan (2003)

"Peter Pan" is a strange story for me in the fact that I am not crazy about every film adaptation.  I love Disney's version, but I was worried about this one.

This version of "Peter Pan" is just OK.  It has some good stuff, but a lot of bad stuff.  The best thing about the film is the score by James Newton Howard.  I really liked it.  The flying theme was later used by Disney for their Disney Parks commercials.  

I also kind of liked Captain Hook in this version.  I probably liked him because he resembled Hans Conreid's Disney version.

Now for the bad...  The worst thing about the film was Tinkerbell.  She was one of the most annoying characters I have ever seen and that says a lot when she didn't have a word of dialogue.  I didn't care about her at all.  All of the other actors were average.  Nothing stood out.  Another big problem with the film were the visual effects.  They were some of the worst I have ever seen, especially when it came to the giant CG alligator.  It was ridiculously huge!

My final problem with the film was the ending.  After a long disappearance, the Darling parents don't even ask their kids where they were.  They just accept them with open arms and act like everything is perfect.  It was strange.  

This version of "Peter Pan" lacks the magic and fun of the Disney version.  It was bland and it dragged on.  I'm not going to say it was a bad movie because I can see how some kids would enjoy it, but overall it was not a good movie.


Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Inglorious Basterds (2009)

Quentin Tarantino proves again why he is such a unique filmmaker with this tale of a group of soldiers out to kill Nazis.

I thought "Inglorious Basterds" was going to be outrageous with many graphic scenes of violence, but it was not.  It did have a few violent things that were tough to watch, but most of the picture was dialogue driven and that dialogue was some of the best I have ever seen.  The script was incredible and it was brought to life by some wonderful actors, including Brad Pitt, Eli Roth, and Diane Kruger.  But, the standout actor is Christoph Waltz who plays the head Nazi nicknamed "The Jew Killer".  His performance was amazing because you really sort of like him, but he is incredibly evil at the same time.  What is even more amazing is the fact that Waltz speaks three different languages throughout the film and each accent seems to be perfect.  He really was quite the find.  

But the reason the script works so well, especially with Waltz's scenes, is because of the anticipation.  You are just sitting there, waiting for him to snap.  There is always an underlying tone that Waltz knows more than what he leads on.

"Inglorious Basterds" is a great story and the climax is one of the best I have ever seen.  I really enjoyed the way the film ended.  It may not be historically correct with what is portrayed in the film, but it works.  There is nothing more satisfying than watching Nazis get what they deserved.

A-  I recommend it.

Daybreakers (2009)

"Daybreakers" has a very interesting concept.  The world is now run by vampires and they are running out of humans to feed upon.  If a vampire doesn't feed on human blood, he starts to morph into a hideous vicious creature.

I was really expecting this film to be bad, but to my surprise, it was quite good.  The starving vampires had very good make-up and they were very scary.  The first scene when Ethan Hawke confronts one is the best scene of the movie.  It was very effective.

The film had a lot of parallel themes also.  There is one scene of a girl being turned into a vampire and it was really realistic in the fact that it represented a rape scene.  It was disturbing.  

All of the acting was fine in the picture.  Ethan Hawke, Sam Neill, and Willem Dafoe all did very good jobs.  I thought some of Dafoe's dialogue was very corny though.  For instance, when discussing a dangerous situation, Dafoe says "That's more dangerous than bare-backing a $5 whore."  See what I mean?

"Daybreakers" is not your typical vampire film.  It is a smart horror film.  It deals with issues of rape, economy, and corporations, just to name a few.  I am glad I saw it.

B  I recommend it.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Up in the Air (2009)

"Up in the Air" has had great reviews and it has been nominated for many awards.  There is a chance it can win best picture at the Oscars.

I like "Up in the Air", but I wasn't blown away by it as many people seem to have been.  It is a good story and it has some great acting, but there were a couple of slow points to it.

My biggest problem with the film is Anna Kendrick.  While I understood her character and realize she is a valuable asset to the film, I just find her to be incredibly annoying.  I think it is Kendrick herself.  Something about her just irritated me.  Bad casting choice!

"Up in the Air" is a good movie with a great screenplay.  Watching the changes and emotions of George Clooney's character really made this film worthwhile.  It is a good film, but best of the year?  I'm not quite sure...

B+  I recommend it.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Sherlock Holmes (2009)

When I first saw the trailer for "Sherlock Holmes" I was worried that Holmes would be reduced to an action star rather than being an intelligent master of disguise.  Fortunately, I was wrong.

There is a fair amount of action in the film, which is very fun.  But like I said before, I am so glad they displayed Holmes as being a genius.  I really liked how Holmes plans his attack when in a fight with someone.  The plan is shown in extreme slow motion and then the actual fight takes place resulting in that very expectation.  I really enjoyed that.  I also liked how Holmes was able to solve problems with just a simple glance over.  That is what Holmes is all about.  

My favorite thing about the classic Basil Rathbone "Holmes" films are when Holmes uses costumes and disguises.  This really showed off the acting talent of Rathbone.  I was very happy that they did the same thing in this film.  I would have liked even more disguises, but what we get is good too.

The acting from Robert Downey, Jr. and Jude Law was very good.  They make a great team.  Rachel McAdams wasn't remarkable however.  I like McAdams, but she just seemed out of place in the picture.  Some of it has to do with the writing of the character, but she just didn't seem to bring her A game.  

"Sherlock Holmes" is a great blockbuster with twists and turns at every corner.  It is the start of what I think will be a very fun franchise.  I look forward to seeing more adventures from Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson.

B+  I recommend it.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Terminator Salvation (2009)

This is the 4th "Terminator" film in the series and I would have to say it is my least favorite.

"Terminator Salvation" is not a bad movie, however.  There are some pretty good things in it.  Sam Worthington's half human, half terminator character was very interesting.  While Worthington was a big bore in "Avatar", he is very compelling in "Terminator".  He was sort of like a modern day Frankenstein Monster in the fact that he didn't know what he was and where he belonged.  

My biggest problem with the film was Christian Bale.  "Terminator Salvation" again proves my point that Bale is one of the most overrated actors working today.  I just don't like him at all.  For the first time, John Connor was boring.  I even prefer Nick Stahl's Connor over Bale's.  

My biggest worry was I would not enjoy the film because Arnold was not in it.  Instead a CG Arnold is used.  The effect was convincing enough and I really enjoyed that fight scene.  It was an unexpected surprise that made a good climax to the film.

"Terminator Salvation" has its problems.  The film has its thrilling moments, but it is also filled with its boring moments.  It is enjoyable enough, but I think the "Terminator" franchise has reached its end by this point.

C+  I recommend it.

Friday, January 8, 2010

(500) Days of Summer (2009)

"(500) Days of Summer" has had great reviews since its release and I was very curious to finally see the film.  

As the film says, the film is not a love story, but a story about love.  It couldn't be more spot on.  Watching Joseph Gordon-Levitt try and figure out what exactly his relationship is with Zooey Deschanel really rings true to what relationships are like.  
I thought the acting was very good in the film, but I didn't like Zooey Deschanel's character.  I'm not complaining about Zooey herself.  She did a perfect job.  Her character was just a snobby girl who would not commit to anything, including her relationship with Gordon-Levitt.  It really makes you not like her.  

There is one scene that I really liked where a split screen effect is used.  On the left hand side of the screen, Gordon-Levitt's expectations of what a meeting with Zooey would be like is shown, and on the right, the reality of that meeting is shown.  I can't tell you how many times I have played meetings and dates in my mind, hoping they would go one way, just so it ends up in the total opposite direction.  I thought the film really displayed that well.

"(500) Days of Summer" is a very good independent film that shows the struggle of relationships and love in a true light.  If anyone has been in love or has wanted to love, you will relate to this film.

B  I recommend it.