Review: RED

Retired, extremely dangerous.

We've seen this far too many times when a film has a stellar cast and doesn't fully deliver.

Frank Moses (Bruce Willis) is retired CIA. He lives a pretty lonely life and spends a great deal of his time calling and hitting on Sarah. (Mary-Louise Parker) Frank knows he's being followed and targeted for what he knows, so he kidnaps Sarah (he's protecting her) and resembles his old team, Marvin, (John Malkovich) Susan, (Helen Mirren), and Joe (Morgan Freeman) to get to the bottom of this.

I never got around to reading the graphic novels that this film was based on, so I really can't offer a comparison for that. The cast is fantastic, it also includes Karl Urban and Brian Cox. The standout performance is very much Malkovich's, he's hilarious. The film felt really lackluster in comparison to the wonderful cast. I was expecting a bit more. The editing in the film is very different and choppy and actually made the film look a little sloppy at points. It's far from a bad film, I just left wanting more than I actually got.

Recommended: Yes

Grade: C+

Memorable Quote: "Can I kill her now?" - Marvin (John Malkovich)

Review: Never Let Me Go

Sometimes leaving questions unanswered is a good thing.

'Hard Candy' is a film that comes to mind. That movie asked more questions than answered them, and it worked for the tone. 'Never Let Me Go' feels the same way. Hours after seeing it, I found myself still thinking about it. Still asking myself "why this?" or "why that?" It didn't matter. This film is so powerful even without the added curiosity.

This is the story of Kathy, (Carey Mulligan) Tommy, (Andrew Garfield) and Ruth. (Keira Knightley) We first meet them as children at a very peculiar boarding school. Kathy is narrating, she's now 28 years old. She tells us how she always loved Tommy, and how Ruth got in the way. We also learn the ominous fate these children await. They are born for the sole purpose of donating their vital organs. The school they went to keeps them healthy, then sends them off to cottages when they turn 18. There, they wait for their first notice to donate, or they can work as "carers" and help other donors until they are called upon.

The biggest question I had was why no one ran away, but that's what makes this film so interesting and so intense. These people clearly except their short lives and don't question anything beyond that. They understand their purpose and while a slight glimpse of hope sidetracks them briefly, they eventually come to terms with their heartbreaking demise. Great acting all around by Mulligan, Garfield and Knightley. The children that played their younger versions all looked eerily similar to them and did a fantastic job as well. The entire film is beautiful, right down to the music and cinematogrpahy. Everything worked for it.

Recommended: Yes

Grade: A

Memorable Quote: "He didn't understand what you were doing, but I did." - Ruth (Keira Knightley)

Review: Jackass 3D

"We took the most expensive cameras they make and shot the dumbest sh*t with them."

Anyone who reads this blog (or my twitter account) knows how much I hate 3D movies. I think it works great for animated films. Coraline was the best movie I've ever seen in 3D, it worked for that film wonderfully. I don't think 3D is the future of film. I don't think it adds anything to movies like say 'Clash of the Titans' or 'Alice in Wonderland.' I think that studios just want to jump on the bandwagon that Avatar created and jack up their ticket prices. I don't think 3D will be around for regular films much longer. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows was originally going to be shot in 3D, they've abandoned that idea (thank you) due to time restraints. I'm willing to bet the new Chronicles of Narnia movie doesn't gross nearly as much as they are expecting because of 3D. So why did I go see Jackass in 3D? Because it's mocking it, and that's hilarious.

Jackass didn't break any grounds with 3D. They used it to gross us out more than they used it to make a stunt look cooler. I thought the use of slow motion shots worked far better than the 3D. I've always dug Jackass for the shear fact that's it's downright funny. You have to respect stuntmen for the pain they put themselves through, and we've grown to know Johnny Knoxville, Bam Margera, Steve-O, Ryan Dunn and the rest of the gang over the years. They obviously have a good time making these movies, and I have a good time watching them. It's hilarious, gross, and wait for it..even touching at times. When I say touching I'm referring towards the end credits where they show us pictures of the crew as kids, and then show them with their own children. Knoxville's daughter Madison even shows up to punch someone in the face. I thought that was a good way to end a film as funny as that one was. To show us that these guys may be crazy, they're still real people with families just like the rest of us.

Recommended: Yes

Grade: B

Memorable Quote Stunt: Rocky. That never got old.

DVD Review: How To Train Your Dragon

Did Dreamworks finally one-up Pixar?

It's no secret that Dreamworks always seems to fall short compared to Pixar. I think one of College Humor's "Honest Oscar Posters" summed it up best last year:

How To Train Your Dragon is a refreshing change. It follows a young Viking, Hiccup (voiced by Jay Baruchel) who is supposed to be training to fight dragons. Instead he finds himself caring for one that is injured, and realizes everything the Vikings ever knew about dragons was wrong.

It's a very predictable plot, but most kids movies are. Dragons manages to be very endearing and teach a valuable lesson throughout.  There's actually lots of lessons piled into this film. Learning to except who you are, and not be who someone else wants you to be. Not judging a book by it's cover. Seeing something from another's point of view, etc. The animation is good, though not as ground breaking as say, WALL-E for instance. It was a very enjoyable film nonetheless, and probably Dreamwork's best since Shrek 2.

Voice actors include Gerard Butler, Craig Ferguson, America Ferrera, Jonah Hill, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Kristen Wiig,and David Tenant.

Recommended: Yes

Grade: A-
Memorable Quote: "Thanks for the breast-hat." - Hiccup (Jay Baruchel)

--EDIT-- After thinking about it more, I raised my grade from B+ to A-. Also, l thought I should include the following: When I wrote my review for Toy Story 3, I wrote "See you at the Oscars, Dreamworks." After viewing this, I should definitely change that to "See you at the Oscars, Pixar!"

Something Scary: 10 of the worst movies I've ever seen.

Last year, I posted 10 Horror films just in time for Halloween This year I wanted to do something a little different. I decided to go with a different kind of horror. The kind you feel right after you've sat through some of the dumbest sh*t you've ever seen.

These are 10 films (in no particular order) that are among the worst I've ever laid eyes on. Most of them are horror movies anyways. They tend to fail the hardest.

1) House of the Dead
I used to think Uwe Boll was the worst director alive until I stumbled upon the work of Ulli Lommel. (We'll get to him later) Lommel aside, Boll is still a crap director and at times I almost feel bad for him. Then I remember the clusterf**k that was 'House of the Dead.' Based on the video games of the same name, this film is about a bunch of college students who pay a smuggler to take them to an island to go to the "rave of the year." When they get there, there isn't a single person in sight. Suspicious? Not to our cast, they bust out the beer, nudity, and quite possibly some of the worst dialogue in movie history anyways. When the island ends up being infested by zombies, they all miraculously learn how to shoot high tech assault rifles and try to defend themselves, accompanied by bad techno music during some of the zombie fight scenes. Everything about this movie failed. I failed for actually sitting through this and not walking out like a bunch of other people did. Thankfully I didn't pay for it.

2) The Last House on the Left
I know, how dare I, a horror fan, rip on Wes Craven's original "masterpiece." Because I hated it, that's why. It's not my type of movie to begin with. I don't care for movies that's only motivation is to "shock people" (hello, Faces of Death) and that's what this film felt like. A giant exploitation with the only somewhat believable actors being the two girls that are horrendously killed at the beginning. Though they are clearly still breathing when they're supposed to be dead, I guess continuity didn't mean much in 1972. I hated it because it offended me, I'll admit it, but in a strange way I once found myself defending this film that I loathe so much. When I heard they were remaking it, I immediately said they couldn't do it justice due to the rating system we have today. Not that ever want to witness what happened to Mari and Phyllis ever again, but why remake if you can't show half of the the violence that made this original so uncomfortable? I'm a LHOTL hypocrite, I guess.

3) Myra Breckinridge
This film can almost fall into the "so bad it's funny" category..almost. Myra Breckinridge is about a man named Myron who undergoes surgery to become a woman. Re-born as Myra, she's on her way to Hollywood. How Raquel Welch had a career after this movie is astounding. Her acting is HORRIBLE, and it's not just hers. It's every body's. What started off as an interested premise went downhill fast. "It's simple, I shall ball you." I laughed at that line, but I couldn't laugh at what followed. It was just too ridiculous. Better films about transsexuals: Breakfast on Pluto and Hedwig and the Angry Inch.

4) Zodiac Killer
Not too long ago a friend and I did a little experiment. We watched David Fincher's (awesome) film Zodiac, then we followed it up with Ulli Lommel's Zodiac Killer to compare. Comparing Fincher and Lommel's work is like night and day. They couldn't be more different. Zodiac Killer isn't actually about the real thing, it's about a copycat. That doesn't make up for the lack of decent acting, writing, production quality and historical accuracy of the murderer you are supposedly writing a movie about. After this we did a little more research on Lommel's work and found out that he does quite a few movies "based on" actual homicides. We checked out a few clips online, and even watched the majority of Green River Killer. It only gets worse..

5) The Howling II: Your Sister is a Werewolf
This movie is actually does qualify in the "So bad it's funny" category. I might even recommend this to someone who just wants to see a bad movie. Christopher Lee apparently apologized to the director of the original Howling for being in this film. Who knows if that's true, but it's pretty funny. This sequel actually tries to stay relevant to the original, but the bad acting and terrible special effects ruin it quickly. I still don't understand why Sybil Danning had her shirt off so much, I don't understand why the filmmakers didn't get out a map when they were trying to explain where Transylvania is. It's in Romania, but they say it's somewhere else in the film. I can't remember where, I was too busy laughing. I also don't understand how a werewolf transformation could really be that bad. Wow.

6) You Got Served
Yes, I was forced to watch this fiasco as well. The dancing is cool, but the plot sucked. Oh, rival dance teams, we have to battle to "serve" them since they are invading our turf. Oh, they killed some little kid towards the end of the film that we're supposed to care about, but they really didn't mention said kid until just now. Oh, surprise! The "good" team wins at the end. Double crossing friends forgive and forget. We got served. Rinse, lather, repeat..

7) Eagle Vs Shark
This indie from New Zealand felt like one huge Napoleon Dynamite rip off. It's about two socially awkward people named Lily and Jarrod. Lily likes Jarrod, Jarrod shuns Lilly. They try to help each other get over past bullies, problems, etc. All while trying to hard to be completely random. Nothing about this movie was likeable, especially not the leads. It's 88 mins dragged on and on.

8) Troll
I haven't gotten around to seeing the supposedly worse "Troll II" just yet, but believe me. I'm tempted. I taped this piece of crap off of HBO in the early 90's and my biggest complaint was that the sister always wore overalls. After re-watching my VHS, I have some new complaints. The acting is horrendous and every adult in this film is apparently an idiot. The Troll possesses little Wendy Potter, while only her brother, Harry Potter (ha!) seems to suspect anything. If my kid ran around my apartment complex with her Hardees while screaming "Works Burger!" that would warrant an ass-whooping. Nope, not these parents who pretty much sit back as the troll turns the rest of the tenants into plants. The 80's special effects are amusing, I'll give it that.

9) Old Yeller
*Begin rant* What did we learn from Old Yeller? Think about that. What was the plot of this film trying to teach us? Was it trying to tell us a story about finding a dog you grow to love. Watching that dog get attacked by bears, boars, wolves, etc. all because your little brat of a brother can't seem to stay out of trouble? Were we being taught a lesson in life not being fair because now that all of those things happened you have to shoot your beloved dog because it has rabies? Then you just get a replacement dog? What the hell is wrong with you, Fred Gipson? I missed the "touching" part of this story apparently. The films tag line is "A motion picture to remember with glowing pleasure!" Pleasure!? Are we supposed to love seeing dogs hurt in movies? Thanks to Old Yeller we now have more crappy "touching" animal movies in the form of Benji, Homeward Bound, Turner and Hooch, Where the Red Fern Grows and I'm sure countless more. Maybe I'm just bitter because this movie made me bawl like a little b*tch with a skinned knee? Probably. I still don't see the purpose this movie served, or what is so damn family/friendly about it. *end rant*

-- Speaking of 'Where the Red Fern Grows', also a terrible book/movie by the way. A former teacher of mine actually wrote the author years ago asking if everything in the book was true. He said only two things were not true. 1) The dog didn't win a 2nd trophy. and 2) A red fern really didn't grow between their graves. So the cherry on top of your depressing sundae wasn't even true? Nice.--

10) Ben and Arthur
Another example of when curiosity gets the best of you. I watched this online for one simple reason: It was (at the time) #1 on IMDB's bottom 100. I had to see how bad it was. Sam Mraovich acts, directs, writes, films, scores, and produces this low budget "drama" about two men who get married, and the obstacles they face. Calling the acting "wooden" doesn't do it enough justice. Not to mention the entire script felt like they didn't really think things through. They fly to Vermont to get married, yet there are palm trees...everywhere. Screw Continuity, Mraovich apparently didn't care to edit this film very closely. There is an interesting story underneath all this garbage, and handing it to the right person could've resulted in a decent film. Unfortunately we do not get that luxury, we get to see scrambled film making at it's worse. I laughed once, at something that wasn't supposed to be funny.

Honorable Mention:
Showgirls, Glitter, From Justin to Kelly, Kids (though affective), Ken Park, Alone in the Dark, Starship Troopers, Kazaam, Run Lola Run, The Benchwarmers, Click, Head of State, Bringing Down The House, The Fantastic Four, The Exorcist II, The Omen IV, The Calcium Kid, The Happening, The Lady In The Water, Tideland, The Village, and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (sorry Fincher, I love you)

What are the worst movies you've ever seen?

Review: Get Low

All hail Robert Duvall's awesome beard.

Felix Bush (Robert Duvall) wants to "Get Low." Meaning he's soon expecting to be underground, but until then he wants to plan his own funeral and attend it. With the help of an Undertaker, Frank Quinn (Bill Murray) and his assistant Buddy. (Lucas Black) Felix wants to invite everyone he knows to tell a story about him. This isn't easy since Felix is a hermit who's best known for keeping his rifle handy at all times. One of the people that turns up is Mattie, (Sissy Spacek) a woman he used to adore. She's also one of the few people to say something nice about him. When we get to the funeral "party", we hear stories of secrets that are told and defended. Feelings that get hurt, or redeemed. Probably the most influential of all these speeches is the one that Felix gives himself.

Get Low had every chance to be a boring drama that dragged it's feet through the dust. Yet, it's sprinkled with plenty of dry humor that helps it move along. Whenever it started to get slow, someone (mostly Bill Murray) made us laugh. Duvall and Murray are barely recognizable in their rolls and they do a fantastic job. Plenty of people are talking about Duvall being a strong candidate for the Oscars, and I agree. However, it's Murray that really stole the show for me. He was perfect in his roll, but then again, when isn't he?

Recommended: Yes

Grade: B

Memorable Quote: "I want a funeral party, and I want to be there." - Felix Bush (Robert Duvall)

Review: Wall Street 2: Money Never Sleeps

When the supporting cast steals the star's thunder.

To be honest, I wasn't a huge fan of the original Wall Street film. It was well made and well acted, but just not the type of thing that would interest me. Which is why I was a little surprised to find myself anticipating it's long awaited sequel.

Gordon Gekko (Michael Douglas) is released from prison is 2001 and is welcomed by nobody. 7 years later he's an author and catches the eye of Jake (Shia LaBeouf) a top broker at Zabel Investments and a protege of the owner; Lewis Zabel. (Frank Langella) Jake is also dating Gekko's estranged daughter Winnie (Carey Mulligan) With Zabel's firm going under, and business man Bretton James (Josh Brolin) getting in the way. Jake, trying to "avenge" Zabel if you will, enlists the help of Gekko to bring down James. Not without some interesting trades of course. When Winnie eventually finds out about all of this, she's not a fan to say the least.

After watching this film I realized that I still really didn't care about Gordon Gekko, it was the supporting cast that drew me in. Brolin has been proving time and time again that he's a scene stealer every time he's on screen. He's no different here. Frank Langella, though his part is small is very interesting as well. I really enjoyed Winnie and Jake's story and the fact that Shia LaBeouf and Carey Mulligan are dating in real life really helps their characters here. You can tell they have instant chemistry and their fights are believable. Plus having watched LeBeof grow up from his "Even Stevens" days is always a joy. A lot of people rag on him, I've always found him very interesting.

I liked the film for the reasons the fans of the original did not. I enjoyed the supporting player's stories more than the main one. Douglas is still great as Gekko, don't get me wrong. I just find Brolin, LaBeouf and Mulligan more interesting.

Recommended: Yes

Grade: B

Memorable Quote: "Every thief has an excuse.." - Jake Moore (Shia LeBeouf)

Review: The Social Network

"Insert Facebook pun here."

Before I saw 'The Social Network' I hadn't given a lot of thought into how websites like MySpace, Live Journal, and Facebook came about. Now I wonder if anyone else's story was as interesting as Mark Zuckerberg's

Zuckerberg (Jesse Eisenberg) gets dumped by his girlfriend for basically being an asshole. He copes with this by simultaneously dishing out insults on his blog and creating a site called Facemash, where users can rate the appearances of their fellow classmates. He crashes Harvord's system and gets noticed. After an interesting proposal from the Winklevoss (Armie Hammer) aka Winklevii to help them run a social networking site strictly for Harvard students. He enlists the help of his wealthy best friend Eduardo Saverin (Andrew Garfield) to start a social networking experience called The Facebook. We watch these students create the phenom that is now known simply as "Facebook", and subsequently, Zuckerberg screwing over his best friend.

The best part of this movie was the rapid-fire dialogue for sure. It was very quick witted. Eisenberg gave an excellent performance as Facebook's founder. He literally made me hate him during the entire movie. Sometimes it's hard when a movie centers around an antagonist. The story (and the way it was told) are so interesting that you just can't believe someone would sell out their friend so fast. That also helped us sympathize for Andrew Garfield's character, who in my opinion gave the best performance of the film. Justin Timberlake makes an appearance as Napster founder Sean Parker. They look nothing alike by the way, but he also gave a surprisingly great performance. As much as I wish he'd go back to singing, I can't fault him for his acting. He's good. Besides a few supporting players that felt extremely out of place, (looking at you, Brenda Song) the only issued I had with the film was the score. Trent Reznor's music seemed a tad harsh for a film of this tone. Just when I thought parts were fitting, I was welcomed with a loud, out of place symbol. I was surprised by this, I thought I'd love it.

Recommended: Yes

Grade: A-

Memorable Quote: "I can't stare at the loop of Niagara Falls, which by the way has nothing to do with the Caribbean any longer." - Mark Zuckerberg (Jesse Eisenberg)

Review: The Town

Who wants to move to Charlestown?

With 'Gone Baby Gone', Ben Affleck proved that he could handle being in the director's chair. His latest flick, 'The Town' proves that he belongs in it.

Doug (Been Affleck) is a long time thief who wants to turn his life around after meeting Claire, (Rebecca Hall) a bank manager that was an impromptu hostage in his last job. His best friend James (Jeremy Renner) doesn't approve of him being so close to someone that could possibly identify them.

I thought this film would be more about the relationship between Doug and Claire, but it's really about the relationship between Doug and James. They've been best friends their whole lives. James did time at one point, James's family took Doug in after his dad (Chris Cooper) is thrown in jail. It's all a test of loyalty. I'm normally not one that enjoys heist movies, but the flow to this one was perfect. It was intense and had some almost claustrophobic car chases. It was sprinkled with a bit of humor here and there. The ending is what I enjoyed the most, because it was different and unexpected.

Recommended: Yes

Grade: B+

Memorable Quote: "We gotta do something. I can't tell you what it is, you can never ask me about later. We're gonna hurt some people." .... "Who's car are we taking?" - Doug and James (Ben Afflect and Jeremy Renner)