Archive for July, 2014

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Comic book fans across the land rejoice, for Guardians of the Galaxy is about to premiere. The trailer begins with a spaceship swooping dramatically towards some interstellar phenomenon. Cut to a tape deck, playing Awesome Mix Vol. 7. Sadly, the sweet melody of “Hooked on a Feeling” does not pour out of the sound system in this version of the trailer. Instead, cut to the green assassin chick played by Zoe Saldana kicking somebody while Chris Pratt, who the entire internet already knows is playing Starlord because of the millions other versions of the trailer, narrating something or other. Blah blah, anti-hero, bah blah Chris Pratt is somehow incredibly likeable, blah blah Groot, Rocket, Gamora, Drax, blah blah.

Turns out that random rock music that is not “Hooked on a Feeling” is a Joan Jett and the Blackhearts song. I declare this acceptable but not as fun as “Hooked on a Feeling “(or “Spirit in the Sky,” which also appears in a few of the million trailers circulating for this film).

Hey, how many of the executives in charge of this picture would you assume are currently doped to the gills on anti-anxiety and anti-ulcer medicine? I mean, if this movie is X-Men: Last Stand levels of bad then fanboys and fangirls across the land will burn them to the ground, not to mention the assassins that Hollywood studio’s keep on retainer for such occasions. As much as Hollywood needs a major summer blockbuster and my tribe needs a Marvel movie that doesn’t disappoint, this film has been teased and hyped so much that it is almost guaranteed to be a total letdown. Gosh I hope it doesn’t suck.

More guns, more spaceships, more space, more fighting. Dialogue! Chris Pratt sounds very earnest. Can we revisit the shot that’s been in every other trailer but this one where his shirt is half-off? That was a nice shot.

Shot of Rocket the raccoon, who sounds like the distillation of every angry man-boy Bradley Cooper has ever played, but I like talking raccoons so I am withholding judgment.

Switch to some leading man/leading lady gender stereotyped compulsory heterosexuality. Gosh, that green lady is versatile. So far she has stood still looking sexy, she has done a sexy spin kick of some kind, she has stood looking up to Chris Pratt while gazing compassionately at his Look of Making A Difficult Decision, and she has stood behind Chris Pratt while he said Important Motivational Stuff. Also, she gets to co-pilot. Gloria Steinem must be excited!

Chris Pratt is likeable some more, Rocket mocks Starlord’s inability plan, green chick perches supportively near Chris Pratt while Rocket laughs at him. Amusing banter ensues, Groot nibbles on himself. Green chick gets dialogue! She says “eugh” and turns away in disgust.

Ok James Gunn. You did The Specials and the Dawn of the Dead remake and I love you for that. Don’t fuck this up.

Guardians of the Galaxy

Get On Up

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French director and screenwriter Luc Besson has been on the scene since the early 1980s. He is the mind behind some of the better movies that I have seen come out of Europe. Le Femme Nikita, The Professional, The Fifth Element, and Taken are a few that I have really enjoyed. While screenwriting has proven to be a constant source of success for him, Taken is a recent example; direction seems to be a bit of an Achilles heel for him. He has not a directed anything that I would call “good” since The Fifth Element and The Professional back in the mid to late 1990s. Lucy is his most recent endeavor to get back on track as a relevant director.

Besson’s new sci-fi actioner Lucy, starring Scarlett Johansson as Lucy, is the story of a young student in Taiwan that is forced to work as a drug mule by Chinese drug smugglers. The smugglers surgically implant a kilogram bag of a designer drug that is ruptured while in her abdomen. After the exposure to the massive dose of the drug, Lucy begins a transformation that results in her unlocking the full potential of her brain. The action follows Lucy across Asia and into Europe as she evolves from a normal slutty looking blonde that uses less than 20% of her brain into a near god that has control of 100%. With the full potential of her mind unlocked, Lucy quickly discovers that she has the ability to things that are equal parts amazing and scary.

The movie has several things going for it and few things working against it. The visual presentation and effects are impressive are definitely a positive. Besson pulled out all of the stops to make the movie as visually striking as possible. As the story progresses and Lucy gains more and more power over her brain, the images that you are presented with give a concrete feel to the abstract changes that Lucy is going through. Near the end of the movie, as Lucy approaches 100%, the montage of the birth of the universe that she gains an understanding of puts the whole of the movie in perspective without a single word being spoken.

The acting as a whole was also impressive. I have seen and heard others say that Johansson seemed flat and/or clunky in the delivery of her performance. I could not disagree more. When you consider what is happening to the character and the perspective and freedom that she is granted the performance is perfectly suited. Morgan Freeman is his normal self, so no criticism is needed; he was a great casting decision. The rest of the cast is mostly unimportant so their performances can be overlooked.

The main negative of the movie is in the complexity of the ideas that are presented and in the way they are relayed to the audience. Once Lucy gains the vast knowledge that she acquires, the changes to her personality and behavior lead the audience to believe that as you get smarter and more mentally powerful, you lose any sense of right or wrong. Also, Lucy tries to explain what she is going through in such a way that it was nearly impossible to wrap your head around. At one point she even says, “your understanding of the universe is like a dog understanding the moon as he stares at it.” The concepts are going to be WAY over the heads of the Average Joe and will, probably, end up being a detractor from their ability to enjoy the movie as a whole.

As I walked out of the screening, I felt like I had just seen a really good movie, but I also felt like a total moron because of how complicated it was. If you can go into the movie, turn off the part of your brain that needs to make sense of things, and just enjoy what you are seeing; Lucy is going to be a 100% awesome experience for you. If you are the type that needs to “get it”, then I would advise you to skip it or bring aspirin for the headache you will get. Either way, Luc Besson has finally made a movie that he can rest his directorial hat on and say, “Yep I still got it.”

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A Brett Ratner film. Are there any more hateful words in the English language? Can’t think of any, myself, except maybe X-Men: The Last Stand, a Brett Ratner film.

So, Brett Ratner did a Hercules movie with Dwayne Johnson. I suppose the artist formerly known as The Rock doesn’t entirely suck. He was in Southland Tales, after all. Can he play Hercules? Well, he’s no Steve Reeves but he sort of looks alright all oiled up and draped in leather, if you squint.

Apparently, in this version of the Hercules legend there are lots of dead bodies and sandals. Also, Ian McShane is talking while The Rock wanders through various topographical features, including snow, forests, swamps, caves, and mountains. Cerberus is there, then blood pours from a cup, then children cry. Maybe Hercules took their candy, because if I remember my Greek legends properly he was kind of a dick to women and children.

The narrator changes from Ian McShane to some chick while we get quick cuts to Hercules doing more stuff. In this movie, stuff is done and make no mistake. He lusts after some girly wearing too much make-up but with very pretty hair, he rides on a chariot while his adoring fans chant his name, he fights a great big lion armed only with a wooden bow and two guns (meaning his arms).

Then he proclaims that he only wants to be a husband and father while Joseph Fiennes (?) nods his head in such a way that you just know his character can’t be trusted. Semi-naked lady, same lady getting kidnapped and or eaten by Cerberus. Yes, mix up the sex and the violence. Give the people what they want Brett Ratner!
Mood change—now there are snakes and the third narrator of the trailer is blaming the Gods for the death of Hercules’ family. And that’s not all. The Gods are super pissed (again, if I remember my Greek legends that was a pretty much a constant) and decide to unleash Hell on Earth. Now John Hurt is talking about the descendants of Hades, and they look pretty cool as they emerge from the ground.

Weirdly, now a Queen of the Stone Age start playing over a battle scene. Shot stolen from Ridley Scott, Ian McShane again, Hercules punching evil in the face. Random stupid CGI creatures more or less from 47 Ronin, Hercules swings a huge penis metaphor, line more or less stolen from Braveheart. Fires! Hot chick doing battle gymnastics! Some light BDSM play with a whip, Ian McShane is pissed off and Dwayne Johnson screams I! Am! HERCULES! Any now I can’t stop picturing him screaming that at whatever person he’s managed to coax into bed after a hard night of clubbing.

I hope I don’t get stuck watching this. I really, really hope.

 Lucy

Hercules

The Fluffy Movie

Magic in the Moonlight

 

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Annie and Jay met in college and immediately discovered that they had a great sexual chemistry. That chemistry turned them into a pair of evenly matched nymphos. They loved sex with each other more than anything. They would find themselves having sex everywhere and anywhere at the drop of hat, ANY HAT.

The sex led to true love, that love led to marriage, and marriage led to kids. Now Annie and Jay are your typical American married couple with kids. Their days start with getting the kids ready for school before they rush off to work themselves. Their evenings and nights are often spent doing “family stuff” and then passing out in order to be ready to repeat the process again the next day. They are living the American Dream.

Wait, what happened to the sex?

Sex Tape is a hilarious comedy starring Cameron Diaz and Jason Segel as Annie and Jay. The couple answers the question, “what happened to the sex?” by making a homemade porno in the hopes that it will rekindle the sexual chemistry that has escaped them. After “going the whole Lincoln” and making the three hour movie, the couple passes out. While asleep the video, accidently, gets uploaded to the all-knowing entity that is known as “The Cloud.” The couple then has to go on a mission to collect and destroy every copy of the homemade porno that exists. Hilarity ensues…

The story is almost too funny to describe in words, it is the worst case scenario for any couple that has ever filmed themselves having sex. How the couple chooses to deal with the situation leads them into situations that can only be described as ridiculous. A vicious German shepherd, cocaine, extortionists, and even porn kings all stand in their way of stopping the spread of this movie.

Cameron Diaz and Jason Segel make a great comedic team. They have great chemistry and balance each other very well. Also, to pull off a movie like this, you have to have actors that have the right balance of comedic ability and true sex appeal. Even at 42 years old, Cameron Diaz has on-screen sex appeal to burn. The scene of her in that roller-girl outfit will be in the minds of men forever.

As a word of caution, this movie is the definition of what it means to be Rated R, don’t let the lack of a frontal nude scene lull you into a false sense of security. It should go without saying that there are MANY scenes depicting some form of crazy sex. There is also a bit of drug use and even a porn reference riddled soliloquy from a surprise cast member that is probably the icing on the cake of social inappropriateness.

If you are in need of a laugh this weekend, make the trip to the theatre and give Sex Tape a try. You will not be disappointed.

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Some movies are good enough all on their own, the story is complete and the issues resolved; the proverbial bow has been tied. Other movies are made with the intention of becoming a franchise or series. The unwillingness of Hollywood to tell a difference in the two scenarios leads me to a real problem in Hollywood; needless sequels. Based off of the success of last years movie, The Purge, director James Demonaco and his group came back to make an obligatory, unnecessary sequel; The Purge: Anarchy.

Last year, I got a taste of excitement with The Purge. It was something different, not amazingly good or anything but different. Before it came out, I looked for a graphic novel for it, a foreign version, an old TV show, anything that might fit the typical Hollywood process of finding ideas. When my efforts came up empty I went to the theatre full of hope that maybe DeMonaco and his group had found something that could break up the un-originality that plagues movie-making today. I left the screening pretty well satisfied, not awe-inspired or anything, but entertained.

Enter the sequel… What part of The Purge made you think a sequel was needed? After watching The Purge: Anarchy I pulled out my DVD of The Purge to see if I missed anything in the story, nope. I also looked for any commonalties between the two movies outside of the setting, still nothing. Finally, I looked to see if any of the characters somehow slipped my attention and appeared in both movies without me noticing, strike three. It is official; The Purge: Anarchy is a money-grab only.

The story is set in the same reality of the first movie. It is one year later from the events of The Purge and people in the downtown areas of the city are preparing. They are all preparing for the one night of the year when laws and morality are suspended and society is encouraged to “release the beast” and “purge for the greater good.” We are introduced to a mother and daughter in their apartment, a husband and wife driving through town, and a very disturbed man suiting up for war. Each is doing what they can to ready themselves for the 12 hours of carnage that are on the way. Once the horn blasts and the purge begins the three different perspectives all come together through circumstances outside their control and are forced to face the night as a team.

The cast of actors in The Purge: Anarchy does not contain a “big name” to anchor the cast like Ethan Hawke did in the first movie. As a matter of fact, it does even have a “bigger” name supporting cast member like Lena Headley. Frank Grillo who played Agent Brock Rumlow in the most recent Captain America movie and Zach Gilford from the TV version of Friday Night Lights were the most well-known, or recognizable, members of the cast. The casting of a large number of, primarily, TV actors will make you think, “I have no idea who that is, but I have seen them somewhere else.” Even considering the cast’s overall lack of big screen experience, no one really stood out as a negative. On the other side of that subject, no one really stood out as that good either.

The main weakness that I found in the movie was the dump truck load of political and sociological undertones that were dropped on my head. I get it! America is a violent country with lots of guns and a disregard for the poor. Can we not just move on with story and not try to solve all the problems of the country with a movie?

The Purge: Anarchy was not a bad movie. I went in knowing full well that it was a money grab sequel, I was right. If you liked the first one and wondered what else you could do in the story, then you will probably enjoy this installment. If mindless violence for the sake of violence, intense political undertones, and ambiguous morality in your heroes is a turn-off for you, then I would advise you to skip this one. Overall, when it hits Redbox, throw a dollar at it. Don’t purge $10 from your wallet at a theatre on this one.

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In a world where I see an average of ten movie previews a week The Rover (103 minutes) was an unknown quantity. I knew it was vaguely post-apocalyptic , starred Guy Pearce and Robert Pattinson, and it somehow involved a train. Of course, after I watched it I realized only two of those three things were actually true. In my defense, most independent/foreign/limited release trailers end up blended together in my pop culture mixer of a brain, so two out of three is very impressive.

I really didn’t know what to expect when I walked into the theater. In fact, my expectations were so low it took me a while to realize the strength of the film. What could have become a low-rent Road Warrior knock-off ended up being an unexpectedly powerful story. While I didn’t enjoy watching it in the same way I enjoy, for example, a Harry Potter movie, it was certainly worth my time.

An “unspecified global economic collapse” is the new pandemic/nuclear scenario favored by post-apocalyptic auteurs . In this case, the American dollar is the most accepted currency, even in Australia and a cross-section of humanity ends up down under, including Norte Americanos Henry (Scoot “my first name is funny” McNairy) and Rey (Robert “stupid sparkly vampires” Pattinson). They attempt to rob some kind of military convoy with two background characters, but everything goes horribly wrong. Rey is left behind, while Henry heads for the hills. During the escape they wreck the getaway vehicle and snatch a car that belongs to a guy with very bad hair named Eric (Guy Pearce).

Eric seems incredibly depressed, despite his ability to buy gas and random supplies under what must be conditions of near universal scarcity. When the bad guys steal his car, he steals their abandoned truck and after about five minutes of casual effort drives away after them. The ensuing chase ends rather bizarrely, considering how well everyone involved gets along face-to-face. Perhaps this can be explained by chalking up every bad decision a character makes to the fact that every character is a screaming lunatic.

Eric, having survived thus far, ends up in a sort of Asiatic den of iniquity. He comes across the caravan of a traveling circus, apparently stranded near the local brothel, and arms himself. In a real gem of a scene he confronts people who make it pretty clear that they are just waiting to get shot and don’t particularly care who does the shooting. The dialogue in this section is just—weird. Of course, when he gets back to his commandeered truck he runs into Rey, who becomes his new best friend and traveling companion, and the dialogue gets even weirder.

The two of them set off to intercept Henry and reclaim Eric’s car, managing to make themselves pretty unlikeable in the process. If it reminded me of anything it was a similarly bleak, low-budget Australian film written by Nick Cave (yes, the singer) and also starring Guy Pearce called The Proposition. The minimalist dialogue and sudden, shocking violence also recalls No Country For Old Men.

Planes: Fire and Rescue

Sex Tape

The Purge: Anarchy

And So It Goes

 

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The Sex Tape trailer opens with the Up Tempo Music of Wacky Hijinks About To Ensue. A, ahem, “young” married couple walk through falling leaves on a beautiful autumn day in magic land. Then Cameron Diaz is dressed trampy and on roller skates as she clasps Jason Segel’s neck and suggestively murmurs that they should make a sex tape. Surprise, he’s into it. Am I alone in wishing the scene involved Jason Segel dressed in a comically small speedo while wearing roller skates and trying to seduce Cameron Diaz? No, that reversal of the sex roles doesn’t do it for anyone else? Hm. What if I suggest that Cameron Diaz is probably just as busy and exhausted as Jason Segel and it’s unfair to place the burden of keeping a marriage sexy on women?
Speaking of—scene after scene. Cameron tossing her toss-able hair around seductively. Jason holding a water pistol while fully dressed. Cameron holding a child while shooting fuck me eyes at someone off-scene. Jason fully dressed for a professional environment while holding his cell phone because women need to be sexy and men need to have fun and women need babies and men need to work.
Hey, they finally mentioned the sex tape! Somebody texted Jason that they enjoyed his video! Quick pan in while the music of I Just Screwed Up In A Big Way sends us to the next clip. Apparently, the sex tape they made has been seen by everyone. Oh well, too late to fix it without roofie-ing everyone you know and all the people who use the Internet. Except apparently the whole plot of this movie is them trying to dump the sex tape in Mount Doom or something…like once they get it sort of contained all their friends and family will politely forget it and never forward it or download it or upload it to an amateur porn site ever. Well, that’s stupid.
And now they’re talking about The Cloud and how nobody knows what it is. Well, that may be true. I’m still not laughing. Next scene, Jason Segel is looking sort of rough and watching his sex tape that he has not yet seen and becoming alarmed.
Then Rob Lowe is there and a German Shepard is chasing Jason. Insert funny joke about Siri hearing every question you ask wrong and Jason getting mauled by the dog. Remember when Cameron Diaz did physical comedy? Don’t expect to see a whole lot of that here. More sexy Cameron, some people from The Office, more sexy Cameron, fire, a scene that probably involves Jason showing his wang, falling from the roof, Cameron falling off the bed (hey! Looks like I was wrong about the lack of physical comedy for the female lead!). Jason falling again, so I guess we have collectively decided that is one of the funniest things he does in a movie. This one’s a tough call. I like Jake Kasdan and Jason Segel, but this really doesn’t seem amazing.