Archive for June, 2014


Deliver Us From Evil

Earth to Echo

America: Imagine a World Without Her




Eric Bana plays a New York cop who has seen some horrible things, which he makes sure to tell us about in a hard to source accent.  Is the terrible accent the result of something horrible you saw, Eric Bana?  Can you just take your shirt off now please?  I find it must easier to ignore your stupid voice when you look pretty.  Also, it is apparently raining for most of the movie and I am sure you will increase the box office receipts if you sell the movie as  “half-naked and dripping wet Eric Bana keeps his mouth shut while fighting evil.”

So, Eric Bana has a daughter who is both annoying and cute, in the way of child actors.  He also has a wife.  Apparently, her job is to be his wife, dress is sexy nighties, and raise their daughter, so it’s one of those movies.  Anyway, he gets called out to the Bronx Zoo at night, and now it sounds like a Boston accent?  Maybe he watched Good Will Hunting before showing up to work?  Anyway, there are strange goings-on at the Bronx Zoo in the middle of the night.

Cut to a scene from Penny Dreadful (wolves looking shifty at the zoo!  Probably werewolves because…evil).  The cops wander aimlessly, and find a woman doing some frankly unsettling shit.  I am sure that giving crazy eyes while on your knees scraping at the unforgiving ground is bad enough, but the trailer editors amp up the disturbing factor through the use of nails on the chalkboard music.

Then, a priest with a hard to source accent appears.  Spanish?  I think it might be Spanish.  Anyway, blah blah evilcakes, but Eric Bana is like, blah blah spiritual void, blah blah I dare this movie to change my mind about God and the Devil.  Screaming, scared lady with scary husband, more rain, bodies fall from the sky.  Third mention of scratching as a plot point HOLY CRAP THERE IS A CREEPY DEMON GUY HOVERING OVER HIS DAUGHTER, oh, wait, that was just in the mirror, guess it’s safe to walk away and leave his daughter in the clearly haunted room.

At what point did Eric Bana see that demon guy in the mirror?  Because she is in bed during a lot of scenes in the trailer, and while I’m on the fence about the scare value of the rolling hooting owl head, if I see something weird in my son’s room, like, I don’t know, a demon guy, for example, we’re all going to sleep in the car that night.

Spiders, more screaming, that dude is tied to a chair, that other dude is popping out of a dumpster, more rain.  Apparently Eric Bana’s daughter is named Christina, because that’s the name he keeps repeating,  He doesn’t sound that worried though.  More like he found out that she drew on wall in permanent marker and needs a time out. Definitely looks decent, but every time I see the trailer I notice that Joel McHale (The Soup, Community) has a role, and I am dying to know where he could possibly fit in.  Maybe the wisecracking Chief of Police?

Transformers: Age of Extinction



Dear whoever made Earth to Echo…Awesome ET rip-off!  It’s like the studio threw found footage, cute kids, robots, Super 8 and The Iron Giant into a blender and this emotionally void slop is what got spewed out.  In case you were wondering, I take schmaltzy, poorly done science fiction as a personal insult.  We ‘re talking, My Name is Inigo Montoya, You Killed My Father, Prepare to Die levels of personal insult.

The trailer opens with the Sweet Music of Whimsy and a voiceover.  Cut back and forth (may your intestines rot while still in your body, person who thought shaky cam was good idea) between various Lil’ Rascal-inspired kids showing off their phones.  Which, by the way, are much nicer than I can afford and should not be given to children, ever.

Then the unsupervised and dangerously neglected gang of future delinquents rides their bikes into the desert while more whimsical music plays.  Then they are poking at what appears to be a dusty bit of something or other, but is actually a robot alien of some kind.  Then, the children shriek in fear and probably wet their pants.  Just kidding.  But you know that would be the way more realistic reaction.

Ok, cute kid asking where the alien robot comes from, which is weird, because other than I come from space you dumb kids, what more specific answer will have meaning for them?  Are these kids astronomers?  Do they know advanced math?  Then having the alien robot show them a star chart is sort of pointless, isn’t it?  Why would the alien robot hang out with these kids anyway?  Is it an early version of WALL-E?  I read on the internet that the reason WALL-E was abandoned on the planet was that the robot model flipped out soon after its creation and “cleaned” the planet of humanity.  Please, please, alien robot—cleanse the Earth in radioactive fire starting with the precocious children that surround you!

Then one of the children says “those dudes.” And I really have to wonder if anybody under the age of 25 uses that word anymore.  Children running, blonde girl not having anything to do but conform to adolescent gender norms locating her as appropriately female while still able to serve as the token girl in the gang of boys, metal floating.  Truck Disassembly!  Truck Reassembly!  Boy bragging about he and his gang of outsiders did something, possibly, but not necessarily, relating to the truck disassembly-reassembly.

Think Like a Man Too

Jersey Boys

 The Rover



When 21 Jump Street premiered in 2012 I felt a good bit of trepidation about the movie. As a fan of the original series that ran on Fox from 87 to 91, I was wary of it being re-imagined as a comedy. After I sat down and gave 21 Jump Street a chance, I found myself thoroughly entertained and impressed by what I was seeing and hearing. My fears about not doing the original show justice were not needed.

Fast forward to 2014 and 22 Jump Street is on its way to theatres. Tatum and Hill are back in their roles, Ice Cube returns as the Captain of Jump Street, and a few other supporting cast members are back for more. With the amount of fun that I had with 21 Jump Street in the back of my mind, I went into 22 Jump Street prepared for a let-down. How many times have we gone to the theatre for a sequel and been let down? I know I have lost count.

Once the movie started, I realized that I really need to work on my attitude…

Right from the start this movie delivers with laughs and fun that rival the first. The writing team of Michael Bacall and Jonah Hill took the formula that was so successful with 21 Jump Street and brought it back with an infusion of cash to amplify it. The jokes were witty and smart, the action scenes were eye catching, and the supporting cast filled out the story.

Hill and Tatum picked up right where they left off with 21 Jump Street, their chemistry continued to click and their characters meshed even more than before. It became apparent that what we all saw in 21 Jump Street was no fluke; these two can really make this type of movie work. Maybe they will be able to capture what Glover and Gibson had with the Lethal Weapon series and keep this rolling.

As for the rest of the cast that returned, they stepped up their games as well. Ice Cube brought even more anger and energy to the role of Captain Dickson. The character was the recipient of greater emphasis in this installment with the insertion of his family into the story, his wife’s appearance on screen was a shocking laugh in and of itself. Nick Offerman as Deputy Chief Hardy returned as well and was rewarded with some of the funniest lines of movie. His meeting with the guys to tell them of their new assignment is littered with double-meanings about the movie that we all had in mind.

The new characters that are introduced stole the show in my opinion. The Kenny and Keith Yang are identical twin brothers that are the dorm neighbors to Schmidt and Jenko and Metro State. They are played by a real life set of twin brothers Kenneth and Keith Lucas and are very funny and dynamic in the delivery of their lines, they easily steal every scene they are in. Jillian Bell as quirky roommate Mercedes is also very funny. Bell’s dry delivery of the barrage of insults and jokes Mercedes directs towards Schmidt and Jenko is mechanical and relentless, but also good for several laughs..

Overall, 22 Jump Street is hilarious! It is very worth the trip to the theatre to see on the big screen. Good jokes, funny story, and a great team of actors make this movie really work. The team of Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill did what many others have attempted and failed; made a sequel that is as good as the first.



How many people do you think MIchael Bay has killed?  I’m not including the number of people he killed with bad movies, or the people who dropped dead from Transformers: Dark of the Moon related rage embolisms, or even the few hundred or so who saw the original Transformers movie and lost the will to live after seeing Optimus Prime share a screen with Shia LaBeouf.  I mean that I really believe Michael Bay has his people find him the most dangerous game (like in that movie Surviving the Game starring Ice-T) and then lets them run naked through a labyrinth while popping away at them with a rocket launcher.

When he’s not doing that, he’s making terrible movies and rolling around in the big pile of money they earn for him.  For example, Transformers: Age of Extinction.  At least Shia LaBeouf doesn’t appear in this one.  Instead, Marky Mark is the star, presumably because Director Bay remembers how he good he sang “You’ve Got the Touch” the theme song from The Transformers: The Movie (1986) that one time.

The trailer opens with the ominous music that typically highlights something bad about to happen.  A scientist tells us about science in a British accent, so you know he’s smart and knows science stuff.  A Decepticon (?) is tied to a medical bed, and then Stanley Tucci is there radiating smarminess.

Shift to a junked up truck being towed to the Midwest.  Farmer Marky Mark and his daughter (the hot farmer’s daughter archetype replacing the hot gearhead with Daddy issues archetype from the first two films) have a sophisticated array of stuff designed to repair junked up trucks, for some reason?  Maybe he’s a disgraced scientist of some kind?  Anyway, I though the Midwest was constantly being flooded or tornado-ed, so I hope he has good insurance for all the equipment.

So, obviously the junked up truck is Optimus Prime.  Make up your own story for how he ended up in the hands of Marky Mark, because explaining that will probably not be a huge priority in the movie.  They are going to spend more time on the shady government types in the caravan of black cars being mean to Marky Mark and the hot farmer’s daughter.

Then things explode!  Because, of  course they do, because it’s a Michael Bay film.  The explosion kicks us to an Optimus Prime voiceover, and he sounds serious.  Apparently, humans like Stanley Tucci are hunting the Transformers, but something worse than Transformers are coming to hunt the humans AND the Transformers.  I wonder if they will come together and learn to work as a team to fend off a world-threatening alien species?  Hm.  That one Transformer has a gun for a head.  If I were a Transformer I wouldn’t waste my time turning my head into a gun just to look cool.  I would turn my head into a flamethrower and roast the planet, thus rendering it human free.

Anyway, alien ships that closely resemble super-sized snail shells are attacking the planet.  Only one thing left to do!  Bust out some Dinobots.  Wait, what?  Yes, you read that right.  The Dinobots, the spoiled bratty children/pets made by Transformers finally appear, presumably to fight against the super-sized snail ships.

Bumblebee is back and there is also some weird looking Transformers with a manly beard made of thick beaded cables.  More explosions, Marky Mark somehow maintaining a straight face while talking life and death with a giant children’s toy, transformer sound effect.  More explosions, hot farmer’s daughter, Marky Mark gets a gun, a Transformer who could find work as an obesity poster child, and OH MY LORD THAT DINOBOT IS BREATHING FIRE.

Then, Optimus Prime rides the fire-breathing Dinobot through cite streets while carrying what appears to be a red-hot glowing claymore.  Well, there’s something you don’t see everyday.  it might be worth my while to peek into the theater just for that scene alone.


How to Train Your Dragon 2

22 Jump Street




In the near future, aliens land via a series of asteroid impacts and quickly rise up and take over the continent of Europe. The major militaries of the world unify in their efforts to fight the aliens forming a Unified Defense Force. The soldiers of the UDF are not typical soldiers; they are draftees and conscripts equipped with special robotic exo-suits called “jackets” that augment them physically. One such soldier is Sergeant Rita Vrataski, played by Emily Blunt, who is affectionately referred to as The Full Metal Bitch by her fellow soldier due to her prowess at fighting and dispatching the aliens she is put up against.

In direct contrast to the battle prowess and bravery of Rita is US Army Major William Cage, played by Tom Cruise. Cage is a sleazy advertising expert that uses propaganda and spin techniques to give the public a positive view of a war that is quickly being lost. When he uses his slimy skills to get out of an assignment that would take him to the front lines he quickly finds himself demoted to Private and assigned to the draftees and conscripts. During his first battle with the aliens he has a run-in that changes him and the war effort; he is given the ability to reset time every time he dies.

Edge of Tomorrow is a surprisingly entertaining movie, especially when you consider how poorly Tom Cruise’s last 2-3 movies were received.

The story is a well done mash-up of the science fiction, comedy and action genres. The first half of the 113 minute runtime can best be described as an action comedy. It is Saving Private Ryan meets Groundhog Day. As scary as it may sound, it actually works. As you watch Cage train with Vrataski and attempt the mission he is assigned over and over again, you find yourself laughing and wincing each time he dies.

Another funny positive is Bill Paxton as Master Sergeant Farell. Paxton was great as the smart ass drill instructor charged with getting Cage into battle. Paxton is equal parts R. Lee Ermey of Full Metal Jacket and Damon Wayons of Major Payne. Maybe it is just me, but I thought he was hilarious.

The second half of the movie takes on a considerably more serious tone. The story focuses on the dynamics of the relationship between Cage and Vrataski as they attempt to deal a deciding blow to the aliens. The action sequences slow down and the character development picks up. The movie takes on a more bleak and moody feel as you see the two soldiers try and fail over and over at achieving their goals. To me, the chemistry of Cruise and Blunt was a little off, but overall they get a passing grade.

Overall, Edge of Tomorrow is a fun summer action movie that gives you laughs, action, a little suspense, and a good overall payoff. It is available in 3D and regular formats, find the standard as the 3D serves no purpose.


In addition to, Michael Smith is also a regular contributing writer for the Fayetteville, NC weekly newspaper, Up and Coming Weekly.

This week’s edition of Up and Coming Weekly features an article about this summer’s show schedule from Sweet Tea Shakespeare.

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Michael Smith at Up and Coming Weekly