Friday, December 30, 2011

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo


David Fincher brings one of the best selling novels of the past decade to the silver screen and it is a resounding success. This movie is a remake of a Swedish movie made in 2009 and that is pretty quick for a remake to be made. But when David Fincher wants to helm a movie, you give him what he wants. The casting of Daniel Craig and Rooney Mara were excellent decisions, and Mara really shines in this movie playing the iconic character of Lisbeth Salander. Craig also does a fantastic job but that is really expected of him whereas Mara's best role to date has been a supporting role in The Social Network. This movie proves that Craig can play roles other than James Bond and the Rooney Mara can actually act and carry a movie on her performance.

I really do not feel like posting a plot summary because I feel writing it out would confuse readers. This is a very complicated story that really needs to be seen or for the original experience pick up the book and read the novel. What I will say is that this is one of the best "murder Mystery" movies that I have seen in a long time and Mara's performance alone makes this movie worth watching. Fincher does also bring a certain degree of brutality to the movie, when there is violence on screen he really makes sure that you know it. Whether it be a rape scene, a revenge rape scene, or someone getting blasted by a 9 iron, Fincher makes sure that you see or feel every action that is going on.

The funny thing to me when watching this movie is that you get the sense that Fincher took elements from two of his best movies (Seven and Zodiac) and combined them to make this movie. It has the brutality of Seven and the procedural nature of Zodiac. The end product isn't as great as the other two films but it is right below them. Not bad when compared to two of the finest movies I have ever seen. The soundtrack to the movies is also incredible. Trent Reznor is a musical genius and the score that he put together for this movie is every bit as good as the score he put together for The Social Network. His score also holds up very well against those of the movies Hanna (The Chemical Brothers) and Drive (Various Artists) which I considered to have the best scores of the year.

The problem with a movie of this high quality is that I try and nitpick where it went wrong in certain areas but I really can't come up with anything. Just be advised when seeing this movie that it is almost three hours long and contains a pretty graphic rape scene. So if graphic sexual scenes make you uncomfortable then you may want to skip this one. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo was one of the best movies that I have seen in theaters this year but when stacked up against all of the other movies that I have seen this year, it is not even in my top 10 movies of the year. This movie does deserve a 9/10, one of the best movies I saw all year just not one of the most original and entertaining.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Our Idiot Brother


This is going to be a quick review, not really up to writing a really long piece tonight. Our Idiot Brother is a comedy/drama that is full of heart and that is where the movie really succeeds. Paul Rudd is likable in almost every movie that he is in and this movie is no exception. His character, Ned, has such an optimistic outlook on life that is infectious. Ned gets thrown into jail for selling pot to an on duty police officer, on the pretense that the cop was having a really bad week and needed some weed. This is where his journey begins and we see him as he lives his life and adjust to being around his family after he gets out of jail. His outlook on life gets him into trouble because he trusts people to do the right thing where in many situations they will do the opposite. He tries imparting this to all of the other characters in the film but it takes time for them to realize that he is not stupid but he just has a different way of living his life than everyone else. His three sisters, played by Elizabeth Banks, Zooey Deschanel, and Emily Mortimer write him off as a big kid who will never grow up. They fail to realize that he is just really trusting and loves everyone unconditionally. His wisdom is lost on them due to the fact that they are wrapped up in their own lives and situations which they manage to mess up due to their selfishness.

This is a movie that will mostly be overlooked in favor of other comedies such as The Hangover Part II. This is a movie that has a lot of heart and really deserves a shot because the lead performance by Paul Rudd is really charming. This movie is a breather from the gross out comedies that have come out over the last few years and shows how a great lead character in a comedy can carry a comedy. This movie gets a 7.5/10, not the best I saw all year but it was still a very solid comedy.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Cowboys & Aliens


There are many words that could properly describe this movie but the best of the bunch would have to be, disappointing. This is one of those movies that the premise alone gets you excited for the movie. The trailers were intriguing but mostly underwhelming, the only thing that really salvaged my hopes initially was the fact that Daniel Craig was involved in the movie and I can't really remember a time where he did not give a good performance. Having Olivia Wilde in the movie also did not hurt considering she is maybe the hottest woman on the face of the Earth. Harrison Ford really hams it up in the movie and really adds nothing to the movie at all. Sam Rock well tries his best but his character is underwritten and the other characters in the movie are mostly filler and set up to die in the movie.This movie ended up being a huge financial disappointment but is a decent movie overall that takes itself way too seriously.

The movie's plot concerns itself with Jake(Daniel Craig), who has amnesia and remembers nothing of his past. Jake also has a strange device attached to his wrist that is alien in nature. He wanders into the local town and his wounds are treated by the local preacher. Jake also comes into conflict with the family the controls most of the town's activities that is led by Woodrow Dolarhyde(Harrison Ford). Ella(Olivia Wilde) is the mysterious woman in town who has an instant connection with Jake. The first night of him being in town, aliens begin abducting the townspeople and the device activates on Jake's wrist revealing itself to be a weapon. This leads to an adventure to discover his past and also save all of those that were abducted by the aliens.

Daniel Craig and Olivia Wilde provide two good performances while the rest of the cast mostly phones it in for most of the movie. Everything else in the movie is really mediocre, the story is really not that engaging at all because it takes itself way too seriously for such an over the top concept. Harrison Ford gives one of his worst performances, basically this was just a paycheck for him and you can really tell. The direction in the movie is all over the place because at times it wants to be a pure western and then at other times it wants to be a science fiction action movie. There is never a happy median between the two and you can tell that no one knew what type of movie they were actually trying to make. Sub-par special effects do not really help the movie at all with the aliens looking fake in every scene that they are in, there were not practical effects used to make the aliens and that really took away from the impact of seeing the creatures for the first time.

This was one of the most disappointing movies of 2011 and if you were pumped by watching the trailers then this movie will definitely let you down. That is a real shame because this movie really did have a lot of potential. With a little more humor and some better casting decisions this would have been one of the most surprising movies of the summer. This movie gets a 5/10 and that is really only because of the excellent performances from Daniel Craig and Olivia Wilde.

The Bourne Identity


The Bourne Trilogy is the most consistently high quality film series in the history of movies. The series gets better with each passing movie, learning where the previous one faltered then fixing that problem while upping the quality of the rest of the movie. This is also the movie that brought Matt Damon to the masses in many ways because this is his most well known starring role and also his best, outside of The Adjustment Bureau. Along with Doug Liman's direction, the two make an exceptional spy thriller that blossomed into on of the best trilogies in film history and created one of the most memorable characters in recent memory.

The Bourne Identity tells the story of Jason Bourne, who is found floating in the sea off of the coast of France by a fishing vessel. He has been shot in the back twice and is nursed back to health by the medic in the ship, who finds a laser pointer containing bank information in Bourne's leg. On top of currently recovering from gunshot wounds, he also cannot remember who he is which sets up most of the film's narrative. Bourne goes to the bank to check the bank account and find a large sum of money, passports, and a gun. He begins to question why he would have all of these items and goes to an American embassy to see if he can get some answers. At the embassy, security forces try and detain him but he quickly dispatches his pursuers and is this then leads to a series of events throughout the movie that only reveal a fraction of the truth that he was in search for.

This movie seemed to inspire a new wave of spy thrillers along with a lot of copycat movies as well. For every Hanna that wowed audiences there was a Green Zone that killed audiences' spirits. The combination of a great story, superior action, and memorable characters allowed the Bourne franchise to succeed and there are very few movies in that genre that are able to do that, so it is a true accomplishment. Salt and Hanna are the only two other movies that I have seen in recent times that stack up against The Bourne Trilogy in almost every way. The idea that the main character is discovering themselves while the movie progresses is a fantastic idea because the viewer is there each step of the way to see each character grow and this allows the viewer to actually care about what the character is going through. This is one of the main reasons I loved the movie Hanna so much. I felt like I was there each step of the way through the characters adventure, and the same goes for the Bourne series. We as the viewer are uncovering the mystery at the same time as Jason Bourne and that creates a bond with the character. That along with awesome action/fight scenes is what keeps us watching though.

This is one of the best spy thrillers that you will ever see. Matt Damon gives one of the best performances of his career and helped to create on of the most memorable movie characters in recent memory. The Bourne Identity led the way for the rest of the Bourne Trilogy and while it may not be the best of the series, it is much better than 95% of the thrillers that have come out in the last 20 years. Watch this movie and you will get a mix of great performances, excellent story, and epic fight scenes. This is a 8.5/10 only because I have seen the rest of the trilogy and know that the other two movies are superior films.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Warrior


Warrior is 2011's answer to The Fighter, they are very similar in tone and story but Warrior is the more engaging of the two movies. The combined performances of Joel Edgerton, Tom Hardy, and Nick Nolte carry this movie from beginning to end. This movie was marketed as a pure MMA movie but that is really only a small portion of what the movie is truly about. This is one of the first movies that allows US audiences to get a good look a the acting talents of Tom Hardy and Joel Edgerton, and it showcases their acting talent and also their ability to each carry the dramatic weight of the movie. This is a fantastic movie that displays how strong the bonds are between family members and also how everyone deserves a second chance.

If you watch the trailer you will get an overall idea of what the movie is about. What the trailer does not show you is how each of the brothers reacts differently to their situation and how they are not that much different from one another. Brendan(Edgerton) has been able to adapt to the horrors of his past and work through the trauma that came along with those events. Tommy(Hardy) on the other hand is unable to let go of the anger that has built up within him stemming from similar experiences that Brendan went through. Tommy was trained by his father to be a world class wrestler but his father was a drunk and constantly abused the family. Paddy(Nolte) is trying to reconnect with his sons in any way that he possibly can. He starts to train Tommy for an upcoming MMA tournament and sees Brendan from afar when he sees him fighting in the same tournament. Tommy and his father have the most hostile of relationships because Tommy no longer even considers Paddy his father due to him leaving him and his mother. Over the course of the film, we see as Tommy begins to understand his father and finally forgives him after an argument leads Paddy to drink again for the first time in 3 years. Each of the men find their own way of forgiving each other and that really shows how unconditional love does exist.

This is a very good movie, it just ran into a buzz saw in terms of movies that I have seen recently. The quality of this movie diminished a little due to the awesome movies that I have seen recently such as Midnight in Paris, Another Earth, Hanna, and Drive. This movie is just not as complete as those movies ion my honest opinion. Hardy and Nolte give exceptional performances with Nolte really stealing the show. His character had the longest road to travel to redemption and he has a great journey over the course of the movie. This movie deserves a 8/10 and really is worth a viewing.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Alien


I challenge you to find a better horror movie than this. This was about the 6th time that I have seen this movie and everything that happens in the movie is still terrifying even after multiple viewings. This is the movie that cemented Ridley Scott's legacy in the genres of both horror and science fiction. The movie also has an All-Star cast consisting of Sigourney Weaver, John Hurt, Tom Skerritt, Ian Holm, Harry Dean Stanton, and Veronica Cartwright. This movie is single handedly responsible for creating the movie genre of science fiction/horror and is still its finest example. This is in the top 10 of my favorite movies of all time and there are not a lot of movies that will be worthy of replacing it.

Alien tells the story of a commercial towing crew transporting a refinery back to Earth. During their trip they are awakened from their hyper sleep and are told to investigate a beacon. A massive spaceship is found that is housing thousands of leathery eggs and one of the crew members, Kane, is attacked. An alien life form attaches itself to his face and the crew debates what to do with him. Dallas, the Captain, and Ripley, the second-in-command, have differing opinions of what to do. Ripley wants to quarantine the subject in hyper sleep whereas Dallas wants to remove the creature from Kane's face. Before either can act, the life form separates itself from Kane and dies. Kane is then seen to be acting normal for several hours but then during a meal an Alien bursts from his chest starting a chain reaction that leads to a majority of the movie's events. What follows is a brutal "game" of cat and mouse between the crew and the Alien.

This is one of the first movies to actually feature a realistic female heroine in a horror movie. She does not need to be helped or protected by her male coworkers. Ripley has become the prototype which all other female heroines are measured and none are really as good as the original. She has her moments where she is close to breaking down but then sucks it up and keeps her head in the game. She makes difficult choices and the story would have played out much differently had the Captain listened to her in the first place. She is a very levelheaded character in that she is trying to follow her protocols to the best of her ability and then when they breakdown and the situation becomes more dire then she is able to adapt to the situation and tries her best to make the right decisions. She seems to be one of the few characters in the movie with any common sense, along with Parker. The Captain seems to throw caution to the wind at a point and gets himself isolated in a duct with the Alien. Others freeze at the sight of the Alien and are unable or too afraid to act. Parker's death is no fault of his own but due to the non-action of another character who is paralyzed by fear. Ripley is a very realistic and well rounded character and there are small things that signify this throughout the course of the film. Such things as her finding her cat and trying to protect it from danger to the fact that as second-in-command she has to work harder for respect from the crew. Another thing that struck me was how they filmmakers handled her reactions when she comes face to face with the Alien in the escape pod. You can see this panic on her face but at the same time you can see her analyzing the situation, trying to come up with the best way to get out of danger. She is one of the best character in cinematic history, male or female. She is a personal favorite of mine and is the main character in two of my favorite movies of all time.

I could go on and on about this movie but I generally try and keep these reviews to a decent length. This along with Aliens and Blade Runner comprise three of my top ten movies of all time and are the top three science fiction movies of all time in my honest opinion. I have not seen another movie that can match the tension and terror that this movie is able to bring to the screen. This is also one of the movies that has ever given me a nightmare, so you know it is an effective horror movie. This movie deserves to be seen by everyone of the appropriate age and is a true cinematic classic. A perfect 10/10.

P.S.- This movie also has one of the greatest posters of all time.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The Hurt Locker


"The rush of battle is a potent and often lethal addiction, for war is a drug.". This is one of the best quotes that can describe what is going through the minds of the three main characters in the movie and how each is affected differently over the course of the movie. This is one of the most poignant movies in recent history and one of the most important movies of my generation. Jeremy Renner and Anthony Mackie give standout performances but Renner is definitely the star of the show. He gives one of my personal performances of all time and he was jobbed the year he was nominated for Best Actor. This is one of the finest movies about the war in Iraq, the only other movie dealing with the same type of subject is Restrepo. This one of the first movies dealing with our war in the Middle East without using grand over the top set pieces and tried to tell an actual story.

The Hurt Locker tells the story of an EOD unit in Iraq in the early stages of the American occupation of the country. The unit consists of Sergeant James(Renner), Sergeant Sanborn(Mackie), and Specialist Eldridge. James is the ordinance disposal specialist and Sandborn and Eldridge support him on their mission. James becomes their team leader after their previous team leader was killed in the line of duty. James is very good at his job but is unhinged in almost every way, taking chances with both his life and the lives of his teammates. Sandborn is the voice of reason and tries his best to keep James in line at every turn and Eldridge is the "rookie" of the group and is more impressionable with his allegiances changing through the course of the movie. Over the course of the movie, we see the team as they evolve and how each escalating situation takes a toll on them both mentally and physically.

Sanborn is the most interesting of the characters in my opinion. You can see that he truly believes in what he is doing and that he is helping people on a daily basis. He understands why they are there and his main goal is to keep his team safe then he worries about everything else. When his team is put in danger he will throw himself in the line of fire for his teammates, but has no tolerance for anyone putting his team in needless danger which his team leader does on several instances. There is a rage that you can see is boiling beneath the surface with him and you see him snap at times during the movie because the situation he is in is overwhelming him and he needs to let his frustration out. He recognizes that he needs more in his life and feels like he will be an afterthought if he is killed. By the end of the movie he comes to the realization that he wants to start a family and get out of this violent and dangerous setting that he is in. On the other side there is Sergeant James, who loves his job and feels at complete ease during the most tense of situations. James is in love with his job and comes to realize that he is not suited for normal life and can barely function around his family on a day by day basis. You do begin to see cracks in his macho exterior when he thinks that a kid he becomes friends with in Iraq has been killed. He freaks out and goes after the people that he thinks is responsible but then finds out that the kid is not dead. He is fully invested in the war and feels like this is the only place that he belongs. Whereas Sanborn breaks away from the addiction of war, James fully embraces it and continues to feed his addiction.

This is one of the best movies of my generation and really shows how war effects all types of soldiers in different ways. Renner and Mackie dominate this movie and give some of the best performances that I have ever seen. I will be a fan of Renner and Mackie for their entire careers due to this movie. This is a must see for anyone of my generation or anyone who has been affected in any way by the ongoing Middle East conflict. The Hurt Locker is a personal favorite of mine, it may not be the most uplifting movies I have ever seen but it has one of the most engaging stories that I have ever seen. A 10/10 for this movie. If this movie does not effect you in some way then you have no soul and may want to stick to your shit movies.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Man on Fire


Man on Fire is one of those movies that really takes you by surprise and holds your attention for the entire runtime. I am by no means a Denzel Washington fan but this is the movie he was born to be in. He captures the viewer's attention every second he is on screen and is a complete bad-ass 99.99% of the time. He gives an unbelievably great performance that was ignored by critics because they felt the movie was needlessly violent and the movie received many less than positive reviews when it was released in 2004. I was it when it came out in 2004 but had no real appreciation for the story or the complexity of the characters in the movie. On another note, this is not the first adaptation of the story in movies, with the first being a 1987 film starring Scott Glenn.

The movie tells the story of John Creasy, who is a former Marine Force Recon officer, that is looking for work to essentially support his drinking habit. He has a former colleague, played by Christopher Walken, that tells him to come to Mexico City so he can find some work as a bodyguard. Creasy soon comes into the employ of a wealthy family living in Mexico City and he is tasked with protecting the daughter, Pita played by Dakota Fanning, who has been out of school because there has been a string of kidnappings in Mexico City. At first Creasy is uneasy in getting to know Pita and is against getting to know her in any way. Over time his guard is broken down and he begins to bond with her and becomes somewhat of a father figure to her because her real father is on business trips most of the time and does not spend time with her. She is then kidnapped after her piano lesson and Creasy manages to kill several of the kidnappers but is severely wounded in the process and Pita is taken any way. He is then charged with the deaths of several police officers because the men he killed were "off duty" police officers who help kidnap children for ransom money. This is where the movie kicks into high speed and Creasy's plan for vengeance begins. He then starts to systematically torture and murder everyone that was involved in the kidnapping.

FROM THIS POINT ON THERE WILL BE SPOILERS.

This is not a movie for the faint of heart and if you are squeamish about brutal violence then this may not be the right movie for you. Many critics did not understand why he was doing what he did and interpreted that he was taking pleasure in killing all of the people involved in the kidnapping. Everything he is doing is to avenge the supposed death of Pita and he will stop at nothing until all involved with the kidnapping are dead. When he finds out that she is still alive he is willing to give his own life for hers in order to let her live a full life. Creasy is a tragic figure from the beginning of the movie and sets upon a path of redemption that ends in his death. This is a fact that eluded many critics and I suppose they had it out for the movie once they saw just how brutal it could be. Do not listen to people who did not actually pay attention to the movie. Most critics are influenced in some way by their peers and contemporaries and that really skews their views in most cases. This movie is definitely worth a viewing and is a very good revenge movie.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Hugo


Hugo is a beautiful movie from the mind of Martin Scorsese. This is his love letter to early cinema and to the creators that preceded him. This is one of his less action packed movies and lacks the crudeness of a lot of his other films. This is a family friendly PG movie that also deals with a lot of grown up themes as well. The cast is excellent consisting of Ben Kingsley, Asa Butterfield, Chloe Moretz, Jude Law, and Sacha Baron Cohen. Scorsese does a superb job of getting the cast top give great performances and he also incorporates many elements from classic movies into this one that he does not usually use.

Hugo tells the story of a boy with the same name who has recently lost his father, and his search for answers. He lives in a train terminal in Paris and winds the clocks in the train station. He has an automaton that he and his father were restoring and he is searching for the key that will allow him to start it up and hopefully find some answers that he is searching for. He meets Isabelle(Moretz) while she is working at her guardian's shop in the terminal and they form an instant bond. They each help one another in their own personal journeys with Hugo taking Isabelle on an adventure and Isabelle giving Hugo the key to the automaton. The movie then takes off from this point and the real adventure starts. Taking the viewer into the minds of some of the earliest directors in Hollywood and showing what went into the movie making process in the early 1900s.

The main theme that runs through the course of the movie is the fixing of broken things and never giving up. Through the course of the movie, the character of Hugo has a compulsion to fix broken things, both mechanical and human. Each of the characters in the movie are broken in some way be it mentally, emotionally, or physically. Hugo is not really broken but he is looking for answers as to what he should do because he has been left with no one to guide him and he has to fend for himself. He helps mend the characters of the movie in all different ways and the most profound is with Kinsley's character who is George Melies, who was one of the first people to film surreal style movies. Melies in the fictional movie had renounced his film career after World War I because he felt people just threw away all of the art that he put his heart and soul into. Hugo finds a way to show him that there are still people who appreciate his work and this inspires him once again and he snaps out of his depression.

This is a fantastic movie that can be enjoyed by all age groups. People going into this movie looking for the Scorsese trademarks may be disappointed because this is totally different than his other works. This is a movie that sucks you in and gets you fully immersed in the story from start to finish. Just be aware that at times it is slow and takes some patience to get the story moving at a good pace. This movie deserves a 9/10 for bringing me back to a time when story ruled over sex and violence.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

The Hangover Part II


I really get a kick out of people saying that the sequels are never as good as the originals. In reality, most sequels are just money grabs for studios looking to make a quick buck, just look at the entire Saw franchise. The first movie had a logical end point and then the studio took a brilliant movie and raped it until they had to put it out of its misery. The same thing is happening to the Paranormal Activity franchise and sure there will be many other franchises to follow. I fully recognize that The Hangover Part II is a money grab but that doesn't detract from the fun that I had watching it. The laughs easily equaled that of the first film and this movie definitely takes more risks than the first part. Stu, Phil, and Alan are all back for more Wolfpack adventures. This is one of the funniest movies I have ever seen and easily sits side by side with the first one, and right beneath Old School. Who can resist a coke dealing monkey who chain smokes and Mike Tyson tattoos.

The movie is a continuation of the first movie taking place several years after the first movie. Stu has a new fiance and he is getting married in Thailand, and the Wolfpack(Stu, Phil, Alan, and Doug) start a new adventure of debauchery. Chang comes along for the ride this time as an ally and Stu's fiance's little brother also tags along for good measure. I am not going to describe a lot of the events in the movie because it would really take away from the experience of see them on screen for the first time. I will leave you with three phrases that will prepare you. Lady men, a bump of cocaine, and spider nest. That is all you get in terms of spoilers.

I would like to take the rest of this time to dissect that fact that people were unhappy with this being essentially the same as the first movie but just in another setting. Is that really such a bad thing, the first movie is one of the funniest movies of all time and the second equals it in almost every way. I really don't see anything wrong with that situation. Do people complain when they see the 9th version of Paranormal Activity? If you are a paying customer and don't like a movie I can respect your opinion but if you laughed throughout the movie or actually liked the 9th sequel of a sub par horror franchise then don't hide that you liked the movie. I fully acknowledge that the Friday the 13th series has mostly been comprised of crap films but I love them all and I will tell anyone who asks me that I love them. The same goes for the Nightmare on Elm Street series and every Jason Statham movie since he cam out with The Transporter. Don't see the movie if you don't want to see another crap sequel, no one will blame you. I know this is turning into a really long rant but that's just the way this is going to turn out. The Hangover Part II was awesome and you should see it if you liked the first movie.

I am also not defending cash in sequels as well. Michael Bay is the prime perpetrator of this and has committed some of the biggest atrocities in cinematic history starting with Transformers 2. That movie was a steaming pile of shit and everyone working on it said it as well. I have never been so hyped for a movie and then been let down so badly before. This is the movie that killed Megan Fox in my eyes, I will never watch a movie with her in it again. There was no work put into the movie to make a coherent story or any chemistry between characters. This is the movie that turns people away from sequels. Every animation studio is guilty of doing the same thing by spitting out shit sequels that don't even come close to the original.

I fully realize this review went a little off the rails and I can't really say that I am sorry. I got some things that needed to be said off of my chest and in the process got to blast some pretty shitty movies. I also hope that there is another sequel of The Hangover. If the writers change up the story and allow the characters to actually know what is going on in the next installment then I think it has a real chance of being great. See The Hangover Part II because it really is a great comedy. See it for yourself and don't listen to other people. If I went by what people told me all the time about movie I would have missed out on a lot of great experiences. The movie deserves an 8/10, as good as the original but just needed a little more originality.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Due Date


Due Date is another insane buddy comedy from the mind of Todd Phillips. This movie fits in with the rest of his movies and almost plays out like a toned down version of his other films if they were all combined together. Robert Downey Jr and Zach Galifianakis make a really good comedic duo. This movie is also not of the quality that I have become accustomed too with Phillips and his crew. I will get more in depth with that point later in the review. Galifianakis, just as he does in most movies he is in, manages to steal almost every scene that he is in. The duo of him and Downey is what carries a somewhat decent movie to be a good movie.

Due Date tells the story of an uptight businessman, Peter(Downey), and his quest to get back home to Los Angeles to be there to witness the birth of his child. He comes into contact with an aspiring actor, Ethan(Galifianakis), who wishes to make it big in Hollywood. Their first meeting could not go worse with Ethan getting Peter kicked off a plane, shot by an air marshal, and put on the no-fly list. When Ethan offers to drive Peter cross country, he reluctantly agrees and this is where the movie goes crazy with the situational humor. Through the course of the movie, there are a series of misadventures dealing with a hyper violent paralyzed veteran who has a penchant for making reservations at Chili's, a strange pot dealing couple, and a masturbating dog. All this time Peter is learning how to deal with people he can't get along with and also learns how to depend on other people for things. His flaws are also exposed over the course of the adventure and he learns that he must fix his flaws in order to be a good man and a good father. Ethan is in search for a friend and he finds that in Peter even though he puts Peter through hell, the situation becomes better through the movie.

This is a good buddy comedy, nothing Earth shattering, but is is a very well done comedy. The main problem I had with the movie is that nothing felt natural, a lot of the bits feel extremely forced and the viewer is guided to laugh. Great comedies get you to laugh at even minor things happening on screen or things that weren't planned to carry a scene. I never really felt that way at any point through the run time of this particular movie. If they had made a movie of just Galifianakis going across the country with his dog on a giant misadventure then that would have been great. I never really found Downey to be doing anything particularly funny through the movie, his character does not carry the scenes, he simply reacts to the outrageous things that Galifianakis' character does during the movie. His reactions in many scenes are priceless but at times they are just hurtful and aren't all that funny. The forced nature of the movie is ultimately what dampened the experience for me. Still worth a watch, its just not an essential viewing. Due Date deserves a 7/10, not a great comedy but is still a solid one.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Tucker & Dale vs Evil


Tucker & Dale vs Evil was the best horror movie I have seen all year and upon a repeat viewing take the crown for being best movie of the year. This is also the best buddy comedy I have seen since Hot Fuzz. Everyone involved in this project seemed like they had a great time making the movie and it really translates onscreen. The fact that the writers turned the crazed hillbilly dynamic on its head and made the hillbillies the reasonable ones in the movie was a really inspired choice. Alan Tudyk and Tyler Labine also make a fantastic team and there should definitely be a sequel or another collaboration between the two in the future. This is the way that horror/comedy movie should be made. Get actors that have a great time working with each other and then find a story that is great to compliment them.

Tucker & Dale vs Evil tells the story of two well meaning hillbillies, Tucker(Alan Tudyk) and Dale(Tyler Labine), who are going away for the weekend to fix up their newly bought vacation home. At the same time a group of college students are going up to the same lake for a Memorial Day weekend trip. The college students are the typical "frat" types with the girls being airheads and the guys being Hollister model wannabes. One their first night on their trip, Tucker and Dale go fishing in the local lake and the college kids go skinny dipping at the same time. One of the college students, Allison(Katrina Bowden), falls into the lake and Dale dives in and saves her. The other college students think they are kidnapping her and this is where the story starts going into overdrive. The college students start to attack Tucker and Dale but in the process accidentally kill themselves in many situations because they are not the sharpest knives in the drawer. While the college kids are killing themselves, Tucker and Dale are trying their best to stay calm and do not realize that the kids are trying to kill them at all. While this is all going on, Dale and Allison start to have feelings for each other and get to know each other extremely well through this whole situation. Watch the movie and you will see that this movie is head over heels better than its competition in lost every way.

This movie does a fantastic job of going against genre conventions and telling an entertaining story that feels fresh. Using two lovable hillbillies as the main characters was a great idea because they seem like two normal guys just trying to get some work done and have a good time at the same time. The college kids in the movie are pretty standard characters with the rich white kid, token black guy, and the airhead blonde. Nothing really changes in horror movies when it comes to the college kid archetype. As they say, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it". Dale is the main focus of the plot because he is an underdog in almost every way. People think that he is stupid, ugly, and useless. Over the course of the story we find out that he is extremely intelligent but lack book smarts and he is charming without really trying. The character, Allison, comes to see all of this over time when she lets her guard down and actually interacts with Dale. The buddy dynamic is also something that is not usually used in the horror genre because most of the time characters are isolated and then killed off one by one in the movie. Tucker and Dale are rarely separated from each other in the movie and when they are they are extremely vulnerable and left open to attack. This is the story of how strong the two characters' friendship is as well as being an amazing horror/comedy.

After seeing this movie for a second time, I can truly say that this is the best movie I have seen all year. Tyler Labine and Alan Tudyk are a great comedic team and should really think about teaming up for another movie in the future. Katrina Bowden is also an up and coming talent who really is a talented comedic actress, so she has the brains to go along with the beauty. This along with Children of Men are the only two movies that I have seen that really deserve a 10/10. This is easily the best or one of the best movies that you will see all year.


Saturday, December 3, 2011

The Warriors


The Warriors is a small cult film from the 1970s telling the story of a gang, The Warriors, and their struggles to get back to Coney Island from a meeting gone wrong. I actually forgot how much I liked this movie and left it out of my Top 20 because it just escaped my mind when I was coming up with a list. Walter Hill directs this masterpiece which combines the feel of a comic book and a 70s exploitation movie. The story is based off of a book from the 1960s and is also based of a story in ancient Greece that tells the story about a small legion of soldier caught behind enemy lines that must make it home.

While on their way to a meeting of all of the major gangs in New York, The Warriors, who control Coney Island and the area surrounding it, are introduced. Their leader is Cleon, second in command is Swan(the central character), then there are Ajax, Cowboy, Vermin, Cochise, Fox, Snow, and Rembrandt. Each plays their role in the gang with Cleon and Swan being the main leading force of the group. They are on their way to Van Cortlandt Park to hear a speech from Cyrus, the leader of the largest gang in New York, about his plan to unite all of the gangs and take over the city. During the meeting a member of another gangs assassinates Cyrus and blames The Warriors' leader Cleon. During the resulting chaos The Warriors manage to escape except for Cleon who is beaten to death. From this point on this movie is a giant chase scene, with the Warriors trying to get back to Coney Island while every gangs is out for their heads. The Warriors do not even know that they were blamed for the death of Cyrus and just think that the truce between all of the gangs has been erased with the death of Cyrus. They find this out about 3/4 of the way through the movie.

The characters in this movie are fantastic. Swan, the reluctant leader of the Warriors finds his inner strength and becomes a great leader in the process. He is willing to do whatever needs to be done in order to ensure that him and his crew get back to Coney Island in one piece. He is one of the only members of the group to actually stay on point and try and get back to their turf, where as other members of the group are more willing to diverge from their goal to give into their carnal desires. Ajax, the tough guy of the gang, is caught while trying to rape a woman in Central Park, after the woman handcuffs him to a bench. Others in the groups get taken in by an all female gang and narrowly escape with their lives. Swan and Ajax are the two main characters in the group and they represent both sides of the leadership spectrum. Swan, the unexpected leader who excels in his position, and Ajax, the hopeful leader who has no idea what he would do with the position. Swan is mostly emotionless and tries to examine a situation before he decides on an action whereas Ajax is willing to run into a situation, outnumbered, if he thinks he can beat the other group. This is a story of how to be a leader, and Swan is the reluctant recipient of that title but he does the best he can in the role.

I am a huge fan of 70s exploitation films and cult films from the 70s and this is one of the best of the bunch. Everything screams "1970s" in this movie, from the clothes, the disco gang, to the shots of the seedier sections of the city. Each neighborhood has its own gang and some of them are much stranger that other such as the Baseball Furies, who's members wear face paint and carry baseball bats, to the Gramercy Riffs, which is an all black kung-fu gang. The thing in the story that surprised me was how fast all of these gangs were to turn on the Warriors and believe a scummy gang such as the Rogues. If that name doesn't scream liar then I don't know what does, on top of the fact that the head of the Rogues, Luther, actually looks like a rat.

This is a fantastic movie that may seem dated in some ways but it is as good a watch as ever. This is easily one of my favorite movie and I just needed a refresher to remind me of that fact. The Warriors has a significant effect on pop culture, the rap community being the epicenter and that is for a good reason, which is because this movie is magnificent. Give this movie a watch and you won;t regret it. This movie easily deserves a 9/10. Having a good time watching a fantastic movie.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Another Earth


Another Earth could be categorized as a beautifully twisted movie. This is not a happy movie and deals with very serious subject matter. It also challenges the viewer to think of what they would do if they were in the same situation as the characters in the movie. The movie succeeds in every area that you could imagine. Beautiful cinematography, original story, emotional acting, and believable situations. Brit Marling also shows herself to be one of the more promising young actresses in Hollywood and also proved herself to be a fantastic writer in the process due to her crafting this masterpiece which was her first work. I really wish more writers took the time to actually create movies with the passion that she has. For a first time writer, this was as an impressive of a debut as I have seen in a long time.

The movie tells the tale of a young woman, Rhoda played by Brit Marling, who after being accepted in MIT, gets drunk at a party and goes for a drive. While driving, she hears a news report detailing that a mirror planet of Earth has appeared in the sky. As she looks up at the mirror planets she slams into a car carrying a college professor, his wife, and their son. Flash forward 4 years and Rhoda is released from jail and she has to get her life back together. The movie details her daily struggles of adjusting to a normal life and also questioning what this mirror world could mean for her. She also comes into contact with the man who's family she killed four years earlier. He does not know who she is and was in a coma for several months after the accident, so his memory is not at full strength. The rest of the movie deals with Rhoda trying to win a contest to go to the other planet, and she also beings a romantic relationship with the man who's family she killed.

The story of the other planet mostly takes a backseat to that of the tragic love story that unfolds throughout the movie. There is also a theme of redemption that runs over the course of the movie. Rhoda tries to do the best she can with her life and she only comes to terms with her situation and is able to move on when she is able to see that the man she hurt so much finally has some hope. The man, John played by William Mapother, is a completely hopeless individual when we first meet him in the movie and we see his evolution over the course of the movie. Each character is instrumental in the redemption and evolution of the other. They just don't realize how they are effecting each other right away and it takes some time in the movie for each character to realized how they have each changed. Rhoda does realize that the whole situation is very twisted but she realizes that she is making John happy and is willing to hide the terrible secret in order to preserve his new found happiness.

This is a movie that does an unbelievable job of creating questions within the viewer and really puts you into the shoes of the characters in the movie. I am not completely sure that I would have been able to do what Rhoda did through the entire movie. I feel as though I would have wanted to have gotten my life back to the way it was before the accident and put the past behind me. Rhoda goes the opposite direction and she cannot move on with her life until she has helped the man she hurt so badly. I'm also not sure that I would want to meet another version of myself. The other version will essentially be you but not truly because they have made different decisions and have a different way of thinking and reasoning. This is a strange thing to think about and in a universe where anything can happen then it is entirely possible that a mirror image of our planet exists in our universe. There must be other life in the universe and this movie take a very plausible situation and puts it on to film. The possibilities of this happening are slim but if it were to actually occur then that world may be entirely different than our own because of minor changes in decision making processes of it may literally be the same world as our own just as it is portrayed in the movie. The movie states that two worlds only started to differ when they each learned of the others existence.That was very interesting to show in the movie because the moment the two planets' discovered each other is also the moment that had profound effects on the main characters of the film.

This is easily one of the best movies that I have seen all year, and it ranks in my top five of the year. Brit Marling is an immensely talented individual and I hope she gets more opportunities to showcase her abilities on a larger scale. The plot and the questions it brings up really took this movie to another level because it kept you thinking of the movie for a long time after you saw it. This is a movie that really deserves to be watched and needed a bigger push from the studio to get more viewers. This movie deserves a 9.5/10 and could have probably gotten a 10/10 with a look at the other Earth after the discovery of our Earth. Watch this and enjoy, you will thank me later.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The Last Circus


The Last Circus is easily one of the most over the top and disturbing films of the year. There is absolutely no subtlety to this movie at all, there is ultra-violence and some of the most perplexing sequences I have ever seen in a movie. I really felt like Hobo With a Shotgun was the craziest movie I had seen all year until I was witness to this movie. I can only describe what goes on in the movie because I know nothing of any of the actors and have never heard of the director of the movie before. This movie mainly consists of scene after scene of pure insanity with a little bit of odd emotionality. The main characters in the movie are strangely unappealing to the viewer, as the "main" character become more and more unhinged and finally snaps towards the end of the movie. This is a movie that really made me say "what the fuck is going on", multiple times and I'm usually really good at following the most convoluted of plots. But this movie really did have a lot of scenes that were shocking or were used to make the viewer uncomfortable. The best part of the movie was the first 10 minutes of the film with the machete wielding clown that takes out an entire regiment of soldiers. It was a beautifully shot movie but it was not really a great movie in my eyes. It was a good foreign "horror" film but it really didn't appeal to me. I could not sympathize with any of the characters and the only characters in the movie with any common sense are the background characters. I would give this movie a 6/10, not really that great but it is a beautifully shot movie.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Top Ten Movies of 2011 (So Far)

In the following article, I will detail what I believe to be the top ten movies of the year so far in 2011. This is my opinion only and for each movie give you my reasoning for putting each movie on the list.

10. CrazyStupidLove- I am an absolute sucker for romantic comedies, I don't know what it is but I usually end up liking most romantic comedies that I see. This was a fantastic movie and had some of the best chemistry between characters that I saw all year. This movie also made me laugh out loud in several parts. I'm kind of glad that I got to see this in an empty movie theater because it allowed me to pay attention and soak in the greatness of this movie. Ryan Gosling and Steve Carell have some outrageous moments together and this is also the movie that affirmed my belief that Emma Stone is my dream girl.

9. Fast Five- This is the big dumb action movie of the list. I saw this opening night with a bunch of my friends and it was probably the best experience that I had all year in a theater. Everyone was pumped to be watching the movie and people cheered at parts of the movie but it was never distracting which was a plus. Vin Diesel and Paul Walker know their characters inside out and this is one of the only times that their dialogue does not feel forced. The action is amazing and the use of real stunts instead of CG was an inspired choice. This was the most fun I had in a theater this year.

8. Stake Land- As I described it in a previous review, this is The Walking Dead with Vampires. The story may not be something entirely new but the characters are believable and the action is brutal. These are not Twilight "sparkle" vampires, these are "I'll rip your throat out and eat it" vampires. The cast is comprised of mostly "unknown" actors outside of the horror genre and that is perfect for a movie that demands a focus on story and character development. Having a huge star in the cast would have instantly ruined the movie. For those of you looking for a great horror/action movie, look no further than this.

7. Bridesmaids- I am fully aware that this is kind of a chick flick, but this movie was flat out hilarious. Kristen Wiig and Melissa McCarthy steal the show in this movie with McCarthy stealing absolutely every scene that she is in. Ensemble comedies work more often then single starring comedies because it allows for smaller roles to be featured and jokes and gags are spread throughout the cast to take advantage of each actor's talents. This was one of the funniest movies of the year and my only regret was not seeing it in the theater. Watch this with a group of your friends to get the most out of the movie, its always better to laugh in a group.

6. X-Men First Class- The comic genre could not be shut out of the top ten that would be a tragedy. This ranked higher earlier in the year for me but since its release other have surpassed its quality. Michael Fassbender and James McAvoy are amazing as younger versions of Magneto and Professor Xavier, and the supporting cast is also great. This is the first movie that really brought Jennifer Lawrence to the mainstream movie audience and all I can say is that she is a great young actress and has an untainted beauty to her. This is also a movie that will open comics up to a whole new generation. It was also impressive how they wove the narrative into real life historical events without anything feeling forced or unnatural.

5. Tucker & Dale vs. Evil- The only reason this movie is not higher is because the top five movies on this list are virtually interchangeable with each other and this was the first one that came to mind when thinking of my top five. I rented this movie after hearing about it for a while and seeing trailers that really intrigued me. This movie isn't a traditional horror movie but it is in the same vein of Shaun of the Dead in that it is a horror/comedy with light dramatic influences. Alan Tudyk and Tyler Labine make a great team and play so well of each other it wouldn't surprise me to see them in more movies together or possibly a television show. This was the year's biggest surprise in my eyes because no one really expected a small independent horror/comedy to be this good. Just a great movie all around. Also on a side note Tyler Labine gave me a few retweets when my site started, so a big thanks goes out to him for his support.

4. Super 8- This was my favorite of the summer movies because it really brought me back in terms of feel and tone to the great movies of the 80s. J.J. Abrams is a genius and everyone in the film business knows it. This man knows how to put together a great story and if this movie isn't for your liking then watch his reboot of the Star Trek franchise. The child actors are great in this movie because they haven't been tainted by the Hollywood machine and seem to be acting from the heart. The only movie that had a better collection of child actors in it would probably be The Goonies and that is one of my top movies of all time. The action is great, the storyline is superb and the effects are spectacular. What more could you want in a summer blockbuster? Also a shout out goes to Kyle Chandler, who finally got the chance to star in a major motion picture and does not disappoint. Watch this movie if you want to be taken back to the greatness of early Spielberg films.

3. Drive- This is where I have a really hard time ranking the movies. Drive was such an astounding film in many ways but two simply beat it out for my favorite. This is the movie that proved that Ryan Gosling can carry a movie on his back with almost no help, that is not to say that the rest of the cast was not fantastic but most of the movie is focused solely on Gosling's character. Bryan Cranston does a really great job in this movie in a mostly thankless role as Gosling's character's best friend and boss. The only problem people may have with the film is that it is an art house movie and at times it is rather slow. Fans of Mad Men get to see one of their favorite characters just get obliterated in this movie and for some strange and morbid reason I fould it kind of funny and laughed a little out loud in the theater. Gosling gives on of the best performances of the year in this movie and the brutality of the action will keep gore hounds and meat heads (who can't understand the movie) engaged through the movie's slower points. Bonus points go to Ron Perlman for continuing his stream of playing shit sack bad guys and Albert Brooks for playing an amazing antagonist opposing Gosling's Driver.

2. Hanna- This and the number one movie on my list are in the top ten movies I have seen all time, so that is how highly I hold this and the following movie. Hanna is an incredible movie with characters that you actually feel for and a story that gets progressively better and better. Saoirse Ronan kills it in her role as Hanna and has command of the screen whenever she is on it. For such a young actress she also seems to be physically overpowering at times and that may be due to camera effects but she also does a fantastic job during her many fight sequences. The music in this movie is a character all its own and each scene has its own specific track meticulously crafted by The Chemical Brothers. If you haven't heard this soundtrack then you need to go download it right now. It is as good as the soundtracks for Drive and Tron: Legacy, maybe even better when you take into account how the soundtrack tells a story. This is the best "spy" movie I have ever seen and ranks up there with the best action movies I have ever seen as well. This is a pure 10/10.

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