Okay, so here are my thoughts on the movies I attended this summer. Surprisingly, most of them were at least entertaining and I wouldn’t say any of them sucked. That is seriously saying a lot. Although the summer was a bit underwhelming as far as generating a truly “knock your socks off” kind of movie (although Inception comes closest), there was still a decent amount of good times to be had.
Having a little tot who does not allow you to watch movies sans a babysitter makes you a much more selective moviegoer, so you narrow your choices down to the more guaranteed good movies, rather than risking it on a “whatever” choice. Unless you don’t know shit about movies, in which case you probably stumble through just about anything.
So, I guess a solution to having a more enjoyable experience at the movies is to have a kid. Just see if you choose Grown Ups over Inception when you have to pay for a babysitter on top of tickets and snacks, as well as being on a time limit. Come to think of it, the whole experience is a lot like dating again. Only, you go home with your date. And you can most definitely have sex, since, well, it’s your house, your rules. And if you paid for the movie, she damn well better put out or there will be NO lawn mowing this weekend!
All right, enough fuckin’ around. Let’s get to the goods.
Iron Man 2
I want to say I had high expectations for this. Okay, I’ll say it. I had high expectations for this. However, I also had a sense that it might underwhelm. Unfortunately, it delivered in that department.
The look, established by director Jon Favreau, was consistent with the first film, but everything else was kind of all over the map. Too many subplots helped to sink the story in many ways, including visits from Tony Stark’s dad via 16mm film, more SHIELD b.s., and an imbalance of characters onscreen, including a significant lack of the titular star in full armor for a better part of the film’s center.
It’s a shame, because the action and effects are all top notch and the action, when it’s kickin’, is pretty solid. Downey Jr. owns the role of Stark, Gwyneth Paltrow as Pepper Potts is fine, but the inclusion of Don Cheadle as War Machine is pretty ho-hum. He’s okay, but I actually enjoyed Terrance Howard, who played Col. Rhodes/War Machine in the first film, just a bit more.
The ending attempts to build up to a solid showdown and then peters out quickly. As Mickey Rourke’s Crimson Dynamo shows up in full armor and ready to go head-to-head with Iron Man and War Machine, we are treated to a thirty-second battle that ends rather pathetically. It’s like a bout between Rocky and Ivan Drago that ends in one punch. Could you imagine that? Sitting through an hour and a half of Rocky training in the Soviet mountains only to show up and clock Drago once, knock him out, and just walk away? I mean, okay, that might be kind of cool, but not enough to watch the movie again. We want a battle, damnit!
The introduction of Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow is handled nicely and she does just fine looking smokin’ hot in a skintight black outfit and beating up poorly trained guards. We get more in-depth on her cleavage than we do character, but strangely most people aren’t complaining about this.
In the end, Iron Man serves to give some set-up for The Avengers in 2012 (unless we’re all dead because John Cusack fails to save us), and progresses the mythos enough to warrant a third film. It’s not a franchise killer, but it’s no “Empire” either. Let’s hope the third film can stand on it’s own two feet without tripping over boring conventions.
One of my favorite movies of the summer and much loathed by critics. Director Ridley Scott has created a completely different kind of Robin Hood than we’re used to seeing, diving into a more historically themed film, rather than the swash-buckling hero theme we have grown accustomed to. And that’s the problem most people had with it. For me, it was the opposite. The absolute last thing I wanted to see was another retread of Kevin Costner’s “Robin Hood: Prince of Theives” (which has not aged well, by the way).
Obviously, Scott did not wish to go that route either and I’m thankful for it. I hate to use the word, as I don’t want to be mistaken for an uninformed hippie, but the film feels organic. And by that, I mean it really feels like you’re there. From the dust in the air, the smoke from burning fires, the water splashing onto the beach, every aspect of this world feels like you are in it. This isn’t a major surprise, as Scott is renowned for having a tremendous sense of atmosphere in his films. In my opinion he is the king of atmosphere.
There is no better director to handle epic storytelling like this, even when attempting to shed light on a well-known myth in a more historical setting. Russell Crowe is fine as the titular character and is reminiscent of a less violent, but still dangerous and strong version of his Gladiator character, Maximus. I think that is another problem that inhibited audiences; the expectation that this would be another Gladiator, given that Crowe and Scott were the caretakers of that success.
Cate Blanchett proves to be the most formidable Maid Marion I’ve seen portrayed onscreen and King John is ever the bastard, with Nottingham playing a much smaller, but no less sleazy role. The big villain is portrayed by the new go-to-bad-guy Mark Strong as Godfrey, a double-crossing S.O.B. if there ever was one. All players do a fine job, and emulate the times and attitudes accordingly.
As far as action goes, it’s much more sporadic, but no less thrilling when it gets going. There are a healthy number of beautifully filmed moments, from the slow motion close up release of Robin’s arrow to the final charge on the beach. The battles are gritty and real, rather than over-the-top and fun. Which, I felt was a breath of fresh air for this oft-told story.
Robin Hood is a movie to approach with a sense of settling in and taking a trip back. It’s not a bloody slash-fest, a la Gladiator. I think once people break down those walls and dump the cheese ball idea that Costner’s “Hood” film is the superior one, they will enjoy the hell out of this deeper, darker, visceral, and more rewarding film.
If Hollywood got together and said they wanted to make a movie about the ultimate “bro” high five, from the moment that inspired it to the monumental “smack,” when hand meets hand, culminating in the overall high of celebrating a truly epic moment, then it would come out as The A-Team.
In short, I loved this movie. It was better than expected, even for a PG-13 rating, and pulled more than enough punches, blew up more than enough shit, broke more than enough plate glass windows, and cracked more than enough skulls to make it a breakout hit in my book. And my book is truth.
Unfortunately, you didn’t go see it. Yeah. You. I’m looking right at YOU. The A-Team didn’t catch, for whatever reason, which is rather disheartening, because I would really have loved to see these guys continue the adventure. Everyone is solid, from Liam Neeson as Hannibal, Bradley Cooper as Face, some MMA fighter as B.A., and the dude from District 9 as Murdock.
And Jessica Biel. However, no underwear scenes for once, which is an epic fail on her part. I thought it was in her contract, but someone fucked up and forgot to include it in this film. However, some dick wad made sure to get Bradley Cooper with his shirt off, so all the ladies win and now I’m suing the studio as my wife won’t sleep with me until I achieve his standard. I am suing for the cost of the protein shakes, P90X, and weekly high colonics.
Anyways. Directed by Joe Carnahan, of Smokin’ Aces fame, the film kicks into high gear and never changes out of it, which is a welcome thing. The story is basic, with our heroes suffering through a set-up/double cross and attempting to win back their good names, fraught with explosions and more explosions.
The real strength of the whole film is that it is just a blast from start to finish. The actors are all cheeky and fun, the dialogue and interactions are all a perfect blend of tongue-in-cheek to laugh-out-loud to subdued seriousness. There are no real embarrassing moments of contrived emotion or snooze-fest exposition. They know why you’re there and don’t disappoint in delivering on your expectations. You don’t go to Strip Clubs for the drinks. The A-Team gets that. Bring singles. Have a blast.
Knight and Day
There’s this weird inclination to eye-roll at Tom Cruise these days and I really feel it’s unwarranted. I mean, he doesn’t call his ex-wife and tell her that she should blow him before he gets in the hot tub. The guy danced on a couch, disagreed with Brooke Shields, and believes in aliens as his God.
Who gives a shit? You aren’t paying for any of that, you’re paying to watch this monkey act. Act, monkey, act! If he wants to eat and fling poop in his personal time, so be it.
Anyways, despite my defense of Mr. Cruise, Knight and Day is still an underwhelming mess. However, it’s also a pretty damn fun mess. Cameron Diaz is rather what-the-fuck-ever, but the hijinks, spy games, bombastic action, and pithy dialogue go a long way in delivering the popcorn-chomping action. And in the end, that’s what we expect from a summer movie. Chomping popcorn. And you should stop doing that, because it is annoying.
Cruise is essentially his bad-ass character from the Mission: Impossible films, only without his meds. He’s much crazier and a lot funnier. A lot of people forget that Cruise can do funny pretty well, he just doesn’t do it often. I think that’s one of his key strengths, especially as he struggles through his acting mid-life crisis, and Knight and Day really gives him the opportunity to spread his wings in that territory.
However, even with all the goofball fun that can be had with this film, it just feels miscast. Cruise and Diaz should be moving on to greener pastures. Had they done this ten years ago I think you would have seen more success, but they have passed their prime for films like this. It should have starred Ryan Reynolds and Anna Farris.
Strangely, Cruise passed on this summer’s Salt, which was turned into an Angelina Jolie vehicle in his absence. Although I’ve heard that Salt is kind of dumb and formulaic, I think I’d rather have seen Cruise in that, more so than this.
One other issue I had was with the somewhat shoddy effects done at the film’s otherwise thrilling ending. When you can spot CGI inside a realistic environment it immediately takes you out of the moment, and when digital bulls are emplaced over real ones, I am busy throwing popcorn rather than gnawing my nails in anxious joy.
My fingers are crossed for Cruise to bounce back with next years Mission: Impossible IV, which is what he should have done instead of this anyway. For Diaz, I’m pulling for The Sweetest Thing 2. Aren’t you?
Toy Story 3
Man, some of you are gonna hate me. Eh, you’ll get over it. So, I enjoyed this movie, but I didn’t cry or start worshipping it at the altar of great movies. It was good, not great for me. A fitting wrap up to Woody, Buzz, and friends, but I guess I just would’ve rather seen a new property from the geniuses at Pixar (and yes, they are geniuses. It’s science), rather than another trip down familiarity lane.
Everyone fell back into their roles with the same panache as before, but man, I was just kind of bored with it. I’m done with these fucking toys already. I’m glad they’re gone. I’m glad they’re at that little girls house. Now, Pixar can stop fucking around and get back to something original.
Nope. They’re making stupid Cars 2. I’ve never even seen Cars 1! What-ever!
Plus, my son got bored at the end and decided that the movie theater stairs were more entertaining, running up and down them for the last twenty minutes. Oh, it was entertaining for me, too! A blast! Oh, no, grown men chasing their kids up and down stairs, while wearing 3D glasses don’t look like assholes at all!
So, maybe I’ll shed a tear and my heart will grow back, Grinch-style, when I see this on video, but for now it was aiight for me. Picture me saying that like Randy Jackson from American Idol. Now, picture me as a black man, with glasses. Okay, stop doing that now. Stop messin’ around. Shit ain’t funny anymore.
With the unlikely addition of Robert Rodriguez as producer of this continuation of the ever-popular franchise, I had high hopes that the stigma of glossed-over bullshit (see both AVP movies) would be washed down the drain.
And thankfully, that was the case with Predators, which isn’t so much a sequel to the original film, but a continuation of the series.
Adrian Brody takes on the Schwarzenegger role as the resident bad ass, along with a ragtag group of violent adversaries (Mexican cartel enforcer, death row inmate, various military types) for the Predators, who insert these formidable opponents on a random planet and proceed to hunt them down for…well, whatever reason.
Predators feels, in many ways, like a shot-for-shot remake of the original in many respects, but still takes a number of creative liberties in defining the Predators and their hunting process, giving us a few scraps of as-yet-unknown detail about the creatures, while dangling even slimmer snippets of info about their human prey.
And that’s all fine. What I wanted was a healthy amount of action, gore, and overall thrills, which Predators does a pretty good job of making good on. Brody is surprisingly good in a role that seems completely out of range for him, but he pulls all the right snarls and barbaric yells he can muster to solidify his right to be there.
Lawrence Fishburne drops by and starts off as Morpheus, but ends up as a crazy version of Gary Busey snorting coke off his dog. Which, I felt was an unsuspected turn. I was thankful that Fishburne wasn’t about to become the mentor once again. Been there, done that, got the t-shirt.
The Predators themselves are cool, creepy, and ultraviolent as always. No need to stray from the one thing that works in all the films, and that is making the Predators a force to be reckoned with. Methodical killing machines would be the best way to describe them.
There are a number of moments that had me really feeling the old school tingles that made the original a classic, but it never quite pushed it over the edge. In many ways, Predators feels like an apology for the last two entries into the franchise, as if they had to prove that a non-sucky Predator movie could be produced before they gave the green light to proceed any further into the franchise.
In doing so, they kept it simple. Too simple, in my opinion. Any fan of the franchise is already well-stocked on the bare bones (pun totally intended) details about the Predators that it would have done them justice to take the story in a more bold direction.
But, that’s nit picking. It doesn’t redefine the Predator lore, but it’s a solid entry and definitely the second best Predator film made. I hope they churn out another one, only next time jump right in, rather than just dipping their toe in the water.
Man, a lot has been churned out about this movie already, there really isn’t too much more to elaborate on. At this point, everyone that’s seen it has their own theory on the whole thing and I’m no different.
Director Christopher Nolan has been making films with the same type of themes since he began his career, trudging into the psychological elements of character, challenging what’s real and what isn’t (see Memento, Insomnia, The Prestige) and he seems to be truly obsessed with this notion of reality versus unreality.
Inception is the topping to his butter cream cake opus of these films, and it hits all the beats with perfect, mind-boggling, anxiety-ridden suspense, reminiscent of Hitchcock and DePalma at their peaks.
DiCaprio plays the leader of a group of “dream thiefs” who steal information from the dreams of their targets. It’s a clever concept and it’s portrayed so realistically that you completely overlook how utterly ridiculous it is. If anything, Nolan should be given a box of kudos for that alone. Now, if he could only do that for Grown-Ups.
The movie dives deeper and deeper into what we can possibly make sense of as it gets well underway into the second act and it is a doozy to follow. Your own mind will be reeling as you struggle to keep it all together, which would be pretty damn boring usually, but Nolan cranks it up by putting the whole thing into an action movie state, a proverbial “Matrix” on mushrooms, if you can even imagine such a thing.
The ending, of course, is the most talked about since M. Night Shyamalamadingdong’s The Sixth Sense. Without spoiling it for those who have yet to see it, the moment comes just before the film “ends” and goes to black, but will leave your mind working it over like a Rubik’s cube for days, ultimately leaving it up to you to make a decision.
Any movie that can keep you mulling over it for days on end is a true cinematic achievement. It is the essence of storytelling. You forget what Kendra did on the last episode of her reality show, because it’s nothing but junk food for the brain. Inception, on the other hand, is the steak and potatoes of entertainment.
The Other Guys
Will Ferrell is running into the problem of now being established so well that there is a divide of followers and non-followers. He is now in the love/hate category, rather than the Everybody Loves Raymond realm.
With that being said, I am team Ferrell, all the way. He’s not as consistent as I’d like, but when he’s on his game, he’s at the head of the pack. Thankfully, he is in top form here and so is his co-star, Marky Mark Wahlberg. Somewhere along the way they dreamed up the ramifications of this team-up and I suspect it exceeded their initial expectations.
The storyline is surprisingly involved, tackling the world of corporate greed as it applies to today’s standards (or lack there of) and tracks Ferrell and Wahlberg as two unlikely screw-up cops taking on the case.
The chemistry is spot on and they go together like peas and carrots. Director Adam McKay (Anchorman, Talladega Nights, Step Brothers) hits all his usual comedy beats as well, crafting a finely tuned laugh fest, that builds on Ferrell and co.’s improv skills, catching a number of truly hilarious moments.
There are a slew of guest stars who pop up and lend a few giggles, but the best addition to the cast is the strangely missing in action Michael Keaton, who plays the police captain with a penchant for unwittingly referencing TLC songs. Keaton has always had the comedic skills to pay the bills and it was great to see him back onscreen and it made me wish he’d get back to work already. I mean, seriously, why is there no sequel to Beetlejuice? Am I gonna have to write that shit myself, damnit?
I missed Get Him To The Greek, and it’s top of my list as I have a feeling it will gut wrench me with laughter, but until that happens, The Other Guys is my standout for best comedy of the summer, but mostly because it’s the only one I saw, so take that lightly.
Still, if you are a fan of McKay and Ferrell’s previous team ups it’s quite likely that you will enjoy this one as well. I’d hold out for the unrated bluray when it drops, which will allow for a lot of additional goods that were held back to secure that dreaded PG-13. Not that you really notice, but still. I need more F-bombs.
Big. Dumb. Real dumb. Lots of washed up actors. But, in a really good way. Explosions. More explosions. Lame story. Shooting. Jason Statham being himself, only awesomer. Bloody violence. Mickey Rourke takes a break on the set of Iron Man 2 to film a few scenes. Eric Roberts has a weird limp. Stallone still knows what the fuck’s up when it comes to directing. Terrible dialogue. Hot chick alert. No boobies. WTF? Airplane obliterates dock. Nice. Real nice.
Stallone shoots Dolph. Bet that would’ve worked out better for him in Rocky IV. Jet Li should not speak in movies. Steve Austin has one look. Angry. South American dictators sure do make lovely artists. Dressing in all black and wearing a beret is both stylish and tactical. Whoa. Someone just shifted gears into KICK FUCKING ASS. Finally. Shooting. Explosions. Oh Fuck moments. Oh Shit moments. Hell Fucking Yeah moments. Why can’t we get more action like this? Welcome back, boys. Best send Stallone a Christmas card this year, ‘cause this is the best movie most of you have been in for the last ten years.
Scott Pilgrim vs. The World
Apparently, the hype (over?) for this film didn’t draw in enough audiences to make an impact and I am left baffled. I really thought this one was in the bag. It has such a wide, gaping appeal that it should have drawn in everyone; whites, blacks, browns, reds, gays, teens, preteens, gamers, comic nerds, dems, repubs, tea partiers, everymuthafuckin’body. But, for some reason you’re reading this and thinking, “I was gonna go see it, but I didn’t.” And you probably saw Grown Ups. I hate you.
Scott Pilgrim is the best movie I saw this summer, followed closely by Inception and The A-Team. It is the most inventive, fun, original, and creative film playing on screens for the next few weeks, until America fucks it over and sends it to bluray by next month.
Maybe it was Michael Cera, who is hit or miss post Arrested Development. He shines here, though. He owns the role. Mary Elizabeth Winstead gives Ramona Flowers an allure, sexiness, and outwardly bitchiness that is both genuine and vulnerable. The supporting cast is spot on, from Ramona’s who’s who of Evil Exes, each one squaring off the personalities of each to near perfection.
Mostly, everyone seems to “get it,” from the old school Nintendo 8-bit music, the ironic t-shirts, the sarcastic humor, and the fantasy world mixed with the real world metaphors. It’s one of the best times you could have at the movies this summer. And yet, you still haven’t gone. Why? What little silly nitpick excuse do you have? Who cares? Go see it. Stop fucking me over by paying to see crap, which begets more crap and leaves me starving for great entertainment like Scott Pilgrim.
I would be genuinely shocked and surprised and utterly pissed if someone said they didn’t like this film. I’m not saying they have to love it, but to say it wasn’t any good leaves me with the overwhelming desire to DELETE YOU FROM MY FACEBOOK FRIENDS LIST.
All right. Let’s all calm down. It’s just a movie, right? Put the knives down. Sit down. Can I get you some water? Okay. We’re cool.
Seriously, though, stop fucking me over. Go see Scott Pilgrim.
I caught this on HDNet movies, which plays first run movies on cable for one night only, the week before their theatrical release. Pretty cool, eh?
Centurion is directed by Neil Marshall, who has shown a general fanboy enthusiasm in his work, with a slew of throwback genre flicks (Doomsday, Dog Soldiers, The Descent) under his belt, and has succeeded immensely in my opinion.
When I heard he was making a Roman Legion action/survival film I got excitement tinglies, because it fits perfectly into his reportoire. I knew it would be a hard R, which is much appreciated this day in PG-13 age. Fuck, I’m so bored with PG-13. And no, not every movie needs to be rated R to be good, but there are so many that need to transcend that PG-13 in order to fully realize their potential and when they don’t it’s just sad and disappointing.
Luckily, Centurion is neither of those. It’s fast, frenetic, gory, violent, and simple. And simple is good here. This isn’t a convoluted story at all. It’s very straightforward. You don’t have to figure out if the top is still spinning. You just settle in and enjoy.
The story is about a Roman Legion that is completely wiped out, save a handful of Soldiers, who must fight for their survival, while being tracked by a local tribe, Hell bent on revenge. Simple.
Now, sometimes that simplicity can rob you of any meat in the story. Normally, that would stand here, but because of Marshall’s deft hand at crafting the action, acting, pace, and setting, you never get an opportunity to get bored and question it. The scenery is amazing and the film feels cold and isolated throughout, which is done, no doubt, to invoke the feeling of the Roman Soldiers on the run, in the wild, being tracked by the relentless tribe.
I’m sure some will see this and give it the ol’ “ho-hum,” but I challenge you to really give it some thought after viewing it. At first, I felt I wanted more build up to the ending, a gradual rise in action, but on second thought it felt more realistic for things to happen quickly, as it’s more in tune with reality, and I dug the shit out of that aspect.
This is a movie that will get lost throughout the years, but with a steady and solid fanbase to champion it to their friends should help to spread the word. This is a cool film. It’s not a classic. It’s not perfection. It’s just cool, and will sit on my shelf or hard drive someday.
Sex and the City 2
Look, man, I couldn’t do it. I could not take the bullet for my wife and see this shit. I’m well past the point of rationalizing seeing this so that I could have sexual fantasies about any of the women in this movie. They are all well past their primes. I’d rather fuck the Golden Girls at this point. The alive ones.
So, I asked my lovely wife to share her thoughts, for your enjoyment and so as to please any female readers I may have (unless I lost you with my Golden Girls comment. Shit happens). I have a jaded view on these movies, so I don’t feel I’d be doing you justice with my opinion (although I will admit to watching and enjoying a healthy amount of the show on HBO).
Without further ado, my lovely wife:
Confession: I have seen the entire Sex and the City series from start to finish at *least* 5 times from start to finish. Calling me a superfan is an understatement. When Paul told me they were making the series into movies I was thrilled. (BTW, I get all my movie news from Paul, who is like the Google of the movie kingdom). I even made him go with me to the first one which was a HUGE mistake since he does not appreciate a single conquest that Samantha beds OR even knows what a Manolo is. When SATC 2 hits theatres I tagged along with a group of galpals, got sauced up on Cosmos and hit the theater. What a better way to spend a Saturday night than watching our favorite foursome on the silver screen? That is, until Liza showed up.
Who the hell invited Liza Minelli to this party? Her cameo was the equivalent of your drunk-ass aunt at the Christmas dinner table; loud, obnoxious and a face full of botox. 15 minutes of being tortured by singing gay men and I was ready to get on with my chic flick of 2010. We get a glimpse into what each of our fab foursomes’s lives have become since the last SATC movie and since the series ended. For four ladies who high rolled in NYC, their lives have all turned into boring, hot messes. Miranda is still ugly and boring. Charlotte is still a spoiled-and-unhappy-with-her-life brat. Samantha is still two steps away from a STD and Carrie is still indecisive and held hostage by her own neurosis. I’m bored already. In the seven years since the series ended the writers have done nothing to further these characters personal growth and development. Am I looking too deep into this? Absolutely, but the truth is that if you had a friend who was exactly the same after seven years you would be bored with them, too.
The movie could have ended there. Seriously. It could have been a 25 minute movie showing us what happened to the SATC ladies. They could have even made it into an E! True Hollywood Story show and I would have been happy. Instead, they drug it out for two-and-a-half HOURS. Even worse? The girls decide to take a trip to Abu Dhabi. That is really all that is different in this entire movie from the series or the first SATC movie. No new plot lines, no character arcs, and nothing that we haven’t seen a million times from these four. Oh, look, Samantha is still a slut. Oh, look, Carrie is having to choose between Big and some other guy. Oh, wait, the other guy is John Corbett making his appearance as Aiden!! YES! WHOA, isn’t he married now and Carrie is still trying to get with him? Why do I all of a sudden hate Carrie for being such a whore? Why isn’t John Corbett naked? THAT would make this worth buying on dvd.
As usual, all I heard with that was: Blah, blah, blah, sex and the city, blah, blah, blah, STD, blah, blah, blah, boring, gay, Liza Minelli, Abu Dhabi, and lots of other things that would help me steer clear of this mess. Luckily for you readers, my wife took the bullet. Breathe easy.
As my site progress and my posts grow, I’ll provide more in depth reviews of the movies I see from here on out. I love a good wrap up, though, and felt this would be a good chance to give any newcomers a peak into my movie reviews.
Hit me below with your thoughts/agreements/disagreements or any of your own favorites. Let’s get it all out on the table. I don’t want any hurt feelings. Unless you saw Grown Ups. Then, you’re fucked.