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Movie review : This Is It

This Is It
This Is It

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In case you didn’t know This Is It has a documentary format. Seems pretty obvious but I just wanted to make sure you were clear on that. This documentary is a sequence of shots from the rehearsals for MJ’s planned tour. Most of the action focuses on MJ, as you would expect with a bit here and there from the dancers and musicians who were performing with him.

I’m not a huge MJ fan but I enjoyed watching This Is It. I was happy to see that MJ didn’t act like a prima donna. He took direction from his advisers and offered feedback to his support cast without being overly sensitive about it.

What I really enjoyed was watching the process that everyone, even MJ, went through to produce the show. It isn’t like MJ walks out and nails a dance move or musical note on the very first try. Even the greatest get it wrong more often than not on the first try.

The downside to this documentary is that it seems rushed. My guess is that the powers that be wanted to get a version of the documentary to the theaters as quickly as possible. And then in a few months we’ll see the DVD that has much more footage than a movie ever could. So if you’re not dying to see this then hold off and wait for the DVD which should be much more complete.

What did you think about This Is It? Share your thoughts about the movie in the comments below.

Prima donna

Movie review : The Vampires Assistant

The Vampires Assistant
The Vampires Assistant

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I love vampire movies and was looking forward to seeing this one. And I’m not hugely disappointed because at least the movie didn’t suck. But it sure didn’t impress either.

The action scenes were just ho-hum. There were just a few funny bits and they weren’t all that funny. The story seems to leave a lot on the table because the one thing the movie might have going for it is that it has a fairly rich mythology.

It’s plane to see that the story was meant to introduce a series of movies. This bit played the role of the introduction to the characters along with the back story. Who knows, maybe the second movie will be a real winner. If it gets made.

The real failing of this movie was that it should have either been much darker with more angst and foreboding or it should have been a lot funnier. Either way would have worked. But the middle ground is pretty boring.

What did you think about The Vampires Assistant? Share your thoughts about the movie in the comments below.

Movie review : Astro Boy

Astro Boy
Astro Boy

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Astro Boy is visually appealing, which kids will enjoy, but the story is a darker than you might expect. But then this is a Japanese story which explains a lot: namely that slightly bizarre things will happen for no apparent reason. For instance some of the characters seem to change their personality without any explanation which is a bit of a jolt.

The voices were great. Nicholas Cage and Donald Sutherland both have distinctive voices and add depth to the characters.

Based on the reviews I was hoping for something much better than this. It’s certainly not on the level of most of the Pixar films. And it isn’t the best animated movie of the past few months either – Cloudy with a chance of Meatballs gets that distinction. But fortunately it isn’t bad either.

What did you think about Astro Boy? Share your thoughts about the movie in the comments below.

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Movie review : Amelia

Amelia
Amelia

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No one but Hilary Swank could have made this movie. Not only is she one of the finest actresses today but she LOOKS so much like Amelia, it’s almost spooky. Her preformance was beyond great. Yes, yes…Richard Gere and Ewan McGregor were very good along with Christopher Eccleston, but she could still have made this movie unforgetable if the above actors were replaced with Moe,Larry and Curly.

What did you think about Amelia? Share your thoughts about the movie in the comments below.

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Movie review : Where The Wild Things Are

RunPee - PeeTimes link
Where the Wild Things Are
Where the Wild Things Are

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[ no spoilers ]

I’m new to the Wild Thing story. Before today all I knew about them came from the artwork. So I have no idea how well the movie tells the story presented in the books.

The audience was mostly small children. I would guess most were in the 5-8 year old range. The content of the story seems well beyond the grasp of a young child but at the end of the movie the audience applauded and it sounded like there were a lot of children doing the clapping. So apparently they enjoyed it.

The movie has a lot of cartoonish violence. Characters are thrown about, they hit things, fall and jump on each other. All with nothing more than a momentary head shaking before continuing on. But the cartoonish violence shouldn’t be a problem for children because it’s never the intent of any of the Wild Things to hurt anyone. It’s all for fun and play.

I enjoyed the movie. It wasn’t great or life changing by any means but I am looking forward to seeing it again and trying to understand it better. As I said, the content of the story is complex and I’m sure that I missed a good bit myself. Although I can use the excuse that I was distracted by writing down PeeTimes.

[ possible spoilers ]

My interpretation is that all of the Wild Things represent either some aspect of Max’s psyche or of someone in his life. What I like about the story, assuming I interpreted it correctly, is that Max realizes through the behavior of the Wild Things that he needs to change his own behavior with his family. It’s subtle and I may have totally read the move incorrectly. Which is why I would like to see it again.

What did you think about Where the Wild Things Are? Share your thoughts about the movie in the comments below.

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Movie review : Law Abiding Citizen

Law Abiding Citizen
Law Abiding Citizen

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[ no spoilers ]

Lets face it: best case scenario is that this movie is just going to be average. We all know the story well about what happens when a man has everything important taken from him.

With Jamie Fox and Gerard Butler staring in the movie there’s hope that this might be about as good as it gets for this genre. But unfortunately no. It’s getting a rating of 25% at RottenTomatos and that’s probably fair. I’d say Law Abiding Citizen falls into the average rating if you were to compare it to other movies in this genre – Man on Fire, The Crow, Mad Max, Payback, Braveheart ( What is it with Mel Gibson and revenge movies? ).

What did you think about Law Abiding Citizen? Share your thoughts about the movie in the comments below.

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Movie review : Couples Retreat

Couples Retreat
Couples Retreat

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[ no spoilers ]

As of today, Couples Retreat is getting a 9% at RottenTomatoes.com. If you added a zero after the 9, then I think you would have a much more accurate rating of the film. Most of the reviews to date are probably from professional reviewers who get in to see the film before opening day. I think that once the working crowd gets their reviews in there then the rating will go way up.

The movie is way better than a 9% just based on the laughs. The audience that I saw the movie with laughed many times. It was hard to get a PeeTime in the first 2/3rds of the movie because there were so many funny scenes. ( I try to not make PeeTimes during comedic scenes. )

The one critical thing I would say about the humor is that from what I recall it mostly centers around Vince Vaughn and Jon Favreau – Dave and Joey. There isn’t anything wrong with that, except that there is very little humor centered around the female characters – aside from Lucy gawking at Salvadore. I’ve seen most of the work that Kristen Bell has done and she is a fine comedic actress. They should have put that to better use. Though to be fair she isn’t a particularly happy character throughout most of the movie.

Aside from the humor, the movie does a fine job of characterizing a lot of common problems that couples have. I think that any couple seeing this movie is bound to find certain problematic aspects of their own relationships sprinkled throughout the characters of this movie. So be prepared to have food for thought and conversation afterwards. It might even make a good movie for a group of couples to see together.

And I’d like to give props to the writers: Jon Favreau, Vince Vaughn and Dana Fox, for putting together a pretty tight story. They did a great job of showing us the character’s problems instead of telling us about them. Plus I never felt that the movie dragged.

What did you think about Couples Retreat? Share your thoughts about the movie in the comments below.

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Movie review : ZombieLand

ZombieLand
ZombieLand

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[ no spoilers ]

Let me say first off, that this movie has a fantastic cameo appearance and it’s a big surprise. So try to see the movie before you run into some new previews that give away who the actor, or actress, is in the cameo. And whatever you do, don’t go to IMDB.com and look up the cast. I checked the day before the movie came out and this cameo person wasn’t listed. But they are now. So you’ve been warned.

I was really looking forward to this movie since the first time I saw a preview for it. I left the theater thinking that it nearly met my expectations. The one flaw with the movie was that it was so short -under 90 minutes. I could have really gone for another 15-20 minutes watching them try for zombie kills of the week! Maybe more action will be on the DVD.

If you’re a zombie movie fan like me, and you like comedies, then you most likely have seen Shawn of the Dead. ZombieLand isn’t quite as good as that. Close though.

The movie itself was simple. Not that zombie movies are often deeply intellectual. The typical zombie movie plot involves two choices: A ) See zombie, run from zombie. Or, B ) See zombie, kill zombie. That pretty much sums up 90% of this plot. What makes a good zombie movie oftentimes revolves around interesting and gory ways to achieve scenes involving points A and B. ZombieLand gets high marks for point B.

Aside from that it’s fairly funny. Woody Harrelson was born to play this role. You can tell from the previews that he nails his character. Jesse Eisenberg does a fantastic job of playing the paranoid geek. His humor is very subtle and he pulls it off just fine. The two girls in the movie – Abigail Breslin and Emma Stone – didn’t have a whole lot to work with. But they did good with what they had.

There is some decent character development. We discover interesting things about the characters along the way. Which is well done; the writers didn’t pull that lame stunt that is so common these days, where a character is given some deep dark secret that we have to guess about during the movie, only to discover in the end it’s a pretty stupid secret.

What did you think about ZombieLand? Share your thoughts about the movie in the comments below.

Movie review : Surrogates

Surrogates

[ no spoilers ]

Okay, stop me if you’ve heard this one before: scientists create a technology that revolutionizes our every day life. Everyone thinks it’s the greatest thing since the invention of the right-mouse-button. Then one guy starts to think maybe this isn’t so great after all and . . .

Right, so you’ve heard this one before. I get it. You get it. So WHY DOES HOLLYWOOD KEEP TELLING THE SAME STORY OVER AND OVER? Dude, James Cromwell – Dr. Canter – even plays the exact same roll as he did in iRobot.

Here’s an idea for a great movie: scientists create a technology that revolutionizes our every day life. Everyone thinks it’s the greatest thing since the invention of the right-mouse-button. Then one guy starts to think maybe this isn’t so great after all and then everyone else laughs at him and says, “Dude, you watched to much science fiction. Chill out. This is way better.”

[ spoilers ahead ]

One thing that I did like about the movie is the very very end when Tom and Maggie are together in the flesh and look at each other. They are both scarred and aged. Yet they realize that they are happy together. It’s that they share these flaws together. And that is part of the human condition and loving each other. That was the one saving grace in an otherwise cloned movie of every other science fiction cautionary tale.

What did you think about Surrogates? Share your thoughts about the movie in the comments below.