Review: Water for Elephants

A circus of depression.

Jacob (Robert Pattenson) is a veterinary student who is just about to take his final exam when he is informed his parents have died in a car accident. Their home belongs to the state, so Jacob is left with nothing. To rub it in the officer that tells him this delivers the gem of a line "Well if you hadn't gone to college maybe this wouldn't have happened." Nice. Jacob packs his bags and sets out for work. He hops a train that happens to be a traveling circus run by August. (Christoph Waltz) August is a hard ass and initially wants to throw Jacob off of the train, he eventually gives in to the fact that Jacob was becoming a vet, and keeps him aboard to assist with the animals. Jacob begins to form a close relationship with Marlana, (Reese Witherspoon) August's wife and star of their main attraction. Eventually they acquire an elephant named Rosie, and August puts Jacob in charge of training it. Rosie is what brings Jacob and Marlana together, and also what brings out the worst in August.

The pacing of this movie is horrible to say the least. I felt like it dragged it's feet the entire way. It's not that the movie was uninteresting, it just felt like it could've been wrapped up a lot quicker. I try to give Pattenson the benefit of the doubt. I try to look beyond his unfortunate role as Edward Cullen, but his acting didn't really help here. He's easily the weakest link. Christoph Waltz plays a terrific villain and he gets you to hate him quickly. His scenes with Rosie are hard to watch, but effective with what we should be feeling about this character. Reese Witherspoon was good as well, although she and Pattenson have absolutely zero chemistry. Looking back, the elephant was my favorite character. I'll let you decide if that's sad or not. (It is)

A few things I did enjoy about the film were the beautiful music and the sweet ending. Some might find it corny, but I liked it. It made me feel a bit better about waiting so long for it to happen.

Recommended: No

Grade: C

Memorable Quote: "We had a pickled Hippo for two weeks." - August (Christoph Waltz)

Indie Gems: Mean Creek

In control.
I'm going to try to make Indie Gems an every Friday thing, depending on my seemingly ever changing schedule of course.

Sam (Rory Culkin) is being beaten up by local bully, George. (Josh Peck) His older brother, Rocky (Trevor Morgan) has seen enough. Rocky decides he's going to trick George into coming with him and his friends on a fishing trip for Sam's birthday. They plan to teach him a lesson. When Sam and the others spend this time around George, they realize that he's just a troubled kid and want to back out from what they are about to do. Their friend Marty isn't ready to back down. Will things follow through?

Today my friends and I saw the new Super 8 trailer and got on the discussion of good movies with children/teens as the central characters. This one instantly came to mind. I've always thought Rory was the most talented of the Culkin clan, and this movie is one of the reasons why. Josh Peck also particularly stands out. (this was pre Drake and Josh fame) I didn't like the George character at the beginning of the film, but I began to legitimately feel bad for him as it rolled on. The story was simple and the settings are limited, but these kids really carry the film and keep it interesting. The only issue I really had was the continuity errors. Yes, I'm a nerd and notice that occasionally. The film was very low budget, so you can't really blame them, but at the same time there were quite a few noticeable goofs.

Recommended: Yes

Grade: B+

Memorable Quote: "If you could snap your fingers, and he would drop dead in his tracks. Would you?" - Millie (Carly Shroeder)

Trailer Breakdown: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part II

My blog is getting a bit sporadic, so I wanted to try and do something on a weekly basis. I'm going to post a trailer breakdown every Thursday. It will mostly be trailers for movies that are coming soon, occasionally I might take an older trailer just for fun. I'll break it down with what I thought worked, what I think might not, and I'll bring it home with how excited I am to see it.

What better trailer to start with than Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part II

What works: The entire trailer feels more epic than any other Potter film. As it should be, DH1 had a somber feeling for most of the film, this one won't have any. From the looks of it, it will be nonstop action throughout. Just what Potter needs to go out with a bang. I liked how the trailer showed a lot of different characters and not just our trio. (Lots of Snape love!) Everyone plays a role in the battle of Hogwarts, it's good to see them get a little love.

The Prince's Tale: Aka Snape's memories, aka one of the most interesting parts in the book. I like that a few clips of it made the trailer, even though I read they are adding something that wasn't in the book I could hardly care less. I loved that chapter and I'm dying to know more.

What might not: "Complete the journey in 3D." No, can you please pull out of 3D last minute again and make EVERYBODY happy? This is not a film for 3D, HP is going to make a ton of money at the box office anyways, so adding the extra surcharge is just greedy and unneeded. 3D should be left to animated films, stop trying to bring it into live action. It never works.

Steve Klove's obsession with Harry and Hermione still hasn't gone away. Not that I expected it too, I was just hoping for more Ron and Hermione moments in the trailer. Since, you know, that's the couple JK Rowling wrote about. I don't think Kloves has ever read a Harry Potter book.

Harry vs Voldemort. This I'm completely split on. In the book, their final show down takes place in the Great Hall in front of everybody. From the looks of the trailer, they battle in the court yard alone. I understand they wanted to make the fight look better on film because in the book it was actually quite short. I'm hoping it works out. I hope everyone eventually runs out and watches them fight, because that's what made it so special.

Random thought: Where the hell are Voldemort's shoes?

When to watch: At midnight, opening night. I'm a die hard Harry Potter fan and I always will be. But you already knew that.

Review: Super

Shut up, crime!!

Frank Darbo (Rainn Wilson) has lost his wife Sarah (Liv Tyler) to a manipulative drug dealer named Jaques. (Kevin Bacon) Frank has always been the loser in life, and Sarah was the one thing he loved most. Now she's gone. Frank has a vision that he is touched by the finger of God (campy CGI at it's best) and that he must rise against. The only thing that makes someone a hero is that they stand up for crime, and that's what Frank is about to do. He creates The Crimson Bolt, and runs around bashing druggie's, pedophile's, line cutter's, and other wrong doer's faces in with a wrench. Along the way he picks up a side kick, Boltie, in the form of Libby. (Ellen Page) She's a comic store clerk that initially gives him ideas for his hero, she probably has ADHD and is perhaps a little borderline. She gets out of control, but it turns out that's what Frank needs.

I imagine Super is what Kick Ass was trying to do. (and maybe would've succeeded had they left the annoying Nic Cage and Chloe Moretz off of the bill) Super starts off with a lot of laughs, but then goes into a very dark place. It's almost not fair to call this a comedy, because there is some serious things that happen. Sure the film is littered with cartoon effects and cheap blood gags, but beyond that it tackles some serious issues. The ending for me was a draw. I found it sweet, but also kind of a downer. I had expected it to get chaotic, but the serene ending came off as slightly contradicting.

Rainn Wilson really impressed me here. We're used to just seeing him as a nerdy, funny guy, which he still is in this. However he tackles the dramatic side with ease. Ellen Page was a real treat. I'm bias because she's one of my favorites and I love her in everything, but it was really nice to see her play a character that isn't the smart, wise beyond her years type. Libby is erratic, loud, and a date rapist. (just watch it.) Liv Tyler and Kevin Bacon don't have a lot to do, but their presence is felt. Not to mention Bacon has some of the best lines in the film.

Recommended: Yes

Grade: A-

Memorable Quote: "This is about her loving me more because!" - Jaques (Kevin Bacon)

For Your Consideration

If you're a member of LAMB chances are you've heard of the LAMMY's: The annual voting for Best Movie Blog, etc.

I'm not the best, nor the funniest, nor the most creative blogger, but I am a new LAMB and I think my layout is easy on the eyes. Feel free to vote for me in these categories, or any others. I'm not picky. :)

Review: Source Code

This is what happens when David Bowie reads you Sci Fi books for two hours every night.

At least that's what director Duncan Jones said in an old interview about his father. Jones has been a huge fan of sci fi every since. It showed with his spectacular and highly underrated first film Moon. Now he follows up with Source Code; Jones seems to have a bit of a theme going here, but I can't tell you what exactly that theme is without spoiling the whole thing.

Capt Colter Stevens (Jake Gyllenhaal) wakes up on a train. He doesn't know how he got there. When he looks in the mirror, he's in somebody else's body. Everyone seems to know him as this person, but before Colter can do anything else the train explodes. He finds himself in a pod, talking to a woman named Goodwin (Vera Farmiga) via video chat. He's part of a mission that puts him in another person's body during the last 8 minutes of their life. He's not there to alter the event, but to find the bomber and to see if there are any more targets.

I didn't have any expectations going in. I'm a fan of Gyllenhaal, but I was afraid this movie would be like Vantage Point and get annoying with it reliving the same moment over and over. Luckily it didn't.

I'm really started to love Jones' work. I hope he does a lot more. Source Code was completely different than I expected and the ending caught me off guard. That's the main reason I recommend the film; the ending. It must be a good one right? Not exactly. In fact, as unique as the ending was I thought it asked a few more questions than it answered. After pondering those questions I almost wish the film would've went in a slightly different direction. Nonetheless, it's very interesting and worth the watch.

Recommended: Yes

Grade: B

Memorable Quote: "Everything is going to be ok." - Colter Stevens (Jake Gyllenhaal)

Review: Arthur

Money is everything.

At least it is to Arthur. ( Russel Brand) He's a rich, boozy, man child that's heir to a $950 billion dollar fortune. His erratic behavior doesn't set well with his mother, who tells Arthur he has to marry an uptight go-getter, Susan. (Jennifar Garner) Arthur isn't too keen on this idea after he falls in love with a aspiring writer/illegal tour guide named Naomi. (Greta Gerwig) Arthur tries to hide the fact that he's set to be married and sees Naomi behind Susan's back. He does all of this while under the care of his very patient nanny Hobson. (Helen Mirren)

I never saw the original Arthur, so it's impossible for me to compare this remake. Arthur had a lot of funny moments, but it soon treads into downright depressing waters. The ending involving a bunch of school children briefly redeems it, but it still felt like a harsh turn to such a light hearted comedy. I'm a big fan of Brand, but I think he does better when he can be at his raunchiest. The PG13 rating felt like it held him back a bit. He wasn't unfunny, (though his high pitched voice in the beginning of the film is beyond weird.) he's just better when he can let loose. (See: Forgetting Sarah Marshall) Helen Mirren was charming as always, there really isn't anything she can't do.

Recommended: Sure (yes, I'm adding "Sure" to my recommendations, because I've been so split on films lately. I'll try to us it sparingly.)

Grade: C+

Memorable Quote: "I'm telling you because I want you to feel bad." - Hobson (Helen Mirren)

DVD Review: It's Kind of a Funny Story


Craig (Keir Gilchrist) is a suicidal teenager. He walks into an emergency room expecting to be given a pill and sent on his way, but ends up being admitted for 5 days in the psych ward. He doesn't think he belongs there. He couldn't possibly be as crazy as some of the other residents. However it's his 5 days here that are going to shape him for the rest of his life. His interactions with his fellow residents, Bobby, (Zach Galifianakis) Noelle, (Emma Roberts) and others will change him.

I didn't find It's Kind of a Funny Story to be particularly funny. Or moving, or sad. I felt myself somewhat rolling my eyes at the way things were being handled in this psych ward, because things like that could never be so laid back in real life. I was expecting not to be impressed but I actually really enjoyed the film. It's not that humorous or moving, but it had a nice quirk to it. I liked the story, and all of the actors were interesting. I never really felt connected to the main character, but I didn't turn away either.

Bottom line is; It's Kind of a Funny Story isn't a good movie, but I still enjoyed it for what it was.

Recommended: Yes

Grade: B-

Memorable Quote: "You never asked me why?" - Noelle (Emma Roberts)

Cinematic Alphabet

I got this idea from Anna at Defiant Sucess. so here it goes. My favorite movies beginning with each letter of the alphabet. (sans pictures since my computer hates me right now)

A - American Beauty

B - Brick

C - City of God

D - The Dark Knight

E - Eastern Promises

F - Friday the 13th (1980 version)

G - Gangs of New York

H - Halloween 

I - Inception

J - Judgement at Nuremberg

K - Kill Bill vol I

L - The Last King of Scotland

M - Mysterious Skin

N - The Nightmare Before Christmas

O - The Omen (1976 version)

P - Pan's Labryinth

Q - Quiz Show

R - Requiem For a Dream

S - Star Wars

T - Thirteen

U - Up in the Air

V - The Vicious Kind

W - What's Eating Gilbert Grape

X - X2: Xmen United

Y - Y Tu Mama Tambien

Z -zodiac

Review: Sucker Punch

Lets step into Zack Snyder's mind..

Apparently in his deepest fantasies, mental institutions are cover ups for brothels. Scantily clad babes battle Nazi zombies, dragons, and travel to Middle Earth to battle orcs. Everyone wears fake eyelashes, and 90% of the men are rapists. (or at least attempt to be) Yep, Zack Snyder loves pulp. He's got a very unique vision, which I've always admired about him. But his first original screenplay is all over the place, despite the awesome scenery.

We meet a 20 year old girl known only as Baby Doll. (Emily Browning) Her evil stepfather has thrown her into a mental institution and has scheduled her to receive a lombotomy. Baby Doll happens to be a mesmerising dancer, and everyone stops what they are doing to watch her. As a coping skill, she escapes into a fantasy land where she must find objects to help her escape. She's joined by a group of fellow patients, Sweet Pea, (Abbie Cornish) Rocket, (Jena Malone), Blondie, (Vanessa Hudgens, who still can't act her way out of a paper bag) and Amber. (Bai Ling) Take note of Sweet Pea, as we see her fantasy land as well.

Clusterfuck would've been a great title for this movie, because that's what it really was. We quickly go back and forth between fantasy, another fantasy, and reality. The script had nothing to hold it together and felt very cluttered. The actions sequences were visually stunning. I absolutely loved those parts of the film. The music blended great and I always love the talents of Browning, Cornish and Malone. The ending was horrible, plain and simple. The overall message of the film (or at least, what I think it was trying to say) didn't really mesh with the rushed ending. Although we did get a Jon Hamm cameo, which I really can't complain about.

Sucker Punch is a different breed of film. I really dug the "now fight" point it was trying to make. See it for the visuals, and for Browning, Cornish, and Malone, but don't expect much from the scattered plot.

Recommended: Yes - for the reasons I listed above.

Grade: C+

Memorable Quote: "You have everything you need, now fight." - Sweet Pea (Abbie Cornish)