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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.

Movie review : Pandorum

Pandorum
Pandorum

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[ no spoilers ]

There’s a perfect Litmus test to tell if you will like Pandorum or not: did you like the first Resident Evil movie? Forget about the sequels which were disappointing at best. The first Resident Evil movie was pretty solid and engaging. And Pandorum is every bit of that if not more.

The creatures in the movie are very much like zombies with a dash of Alien thrown in. The story does a good balancing act on keeping them a mystery and not overdoing the scenes with them.

Speaking of mystery’s this movie is full of them. And some of them you don’t even know about until the very end. I’m not going to give anything away but the ending is very deep and does not disappoint.

That’s usually the total failure of movies. They tell a great story right up until the end and then fall to shreds. You’re left leaving the theater thinking, “WTF?” Not the case here. At least not for me. I was presently surprised.

I must admit that I did not want to see this movie. I don’t go for horror movies much anymore but I’m glad I was forced into seeing this one. And the comparisons with Event Horizon are way off base. Okay, mostly off base. This movie has it’s fair share of gore but nothing remotely like Event Horizon. On the gore level this movie is no more gory than your typical zombie flick these days.

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

Movie review : Love Happens

Love Happens

I cried. There, I said it. Yes, I cried at the end of the movie. This movie taught me to embrace my feelings of care and sympathy for fictitious characters. Okay, now I’m just being funny. But I really did cry.

First off, this movie isn’t really a love story. It’s about the beginning of a relationship between the two main characters but it’s mostly about someone coming to grips with their past. I won’t say more because I don’t want to spoil the movie.

The downfall of many dramatic movies is that they oftentime tell us the story without letting us feel it. The actors may show emotion but we don’t always get the motivation for those feelings. My best example is The English Patient. Although I didn’t hate the move as much as Elaine all the way through the movie I’m trying to figure out why the Count and Hana give up so much for each other. Yes, they love each other but why. I never saw it. I was told that they loved each other. I saw them doing loving things for each other. But it seemed to me that they went from meeting each other and then stuff happens and all the sudden they are in love with each other. I must have missed the part where they actually fell in love.

Fortunately Love Happens doesn’t suffer from the same oversight. I felt for the characters. And not just the main characters. There are many characters in this movie that we get. And in getting them we empathize and feel with them. That’s what makes this movie better than the average romance. Even though it’s not really much about a romance. But, having said that it seems more realistic that way. This isn’t about a whirl-wind romance over a few days with some emotionally tumultuous ending. It’s more adult and realistic than that. Which is another thing that I really liked about the movie.

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

Movie review : The Informant!

The Informant!

Although Matt Damon did a nice job in his role I didn’t care much for the movie. The main reason is that the story was a bit of a letdown. Pardon me but all along I’m expecting some sort of Oceans 11 bizaro ending or something. And that never came. Given that Matt was the star, Steven Soderbergh directed and George Clooney was the Executive Producer – all worked together in Oceans 11/etc – then I’m excused for expecting that. Nor did it have the Silkwood, The Insider, Erin Brockovich, etc. ending which would have been almost as good. Nope, this story is uniquely different from either of those genres and not in a good way.

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

Movie review : Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs

Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs

This might be the best children’s movie of the summer and I think it will appeal to a lot of adults as well. Visually I think it will appeal to children in the 3-6 range. The action and physical humor will appeal to the 7-10 range and the story will appeal to the 11-15 range. However, your mileage may vary.

As an adult I certainly enjoyed it. And I must confess a weakness for stories that involve nerds finding their place in life. Which is what this movie is all about. So if you have a precocious child who has trouble fitting in then this is for them.

There were at least 5 good LOL moments and many more chuckles from the audience. Plus, the crowd of children that watched the movie with me actually clapped at the end.

What did you think about Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs? Share your thoughts about the movie in the comments below.

Movie review : I can do bad all by myself

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I can do bad all by myself

I can do bad all by myself is a well told story filled with a good number of laughs, some amazing song and dance, and wonderful performances from the entire cast.

I noticed that most of the laughs come in the first half of the film. As the film goes on it becomes more and more dramatic. Which is to be expected as the main character has to go through an ordeal to come out the other side a better person.

One of my pet peeves is seeing characters in movies smoking. But as the movie wore on I noticed that the director was putting a positive spin on it by making the characters that we don’t like to be smokers – such as the asshole boyfriend. And the main character – April – only smokes when she is unhappy. That’s a nice touch. It’s also something that Joss Whedon did in the Buffy the Vampire Slayer series.

While I didn’t think this movie was outstanding I would be surprised if it doesn’t get a number of Oscar nods. Taraji P. Henson – April – is almost a lock for a best actress nomination.

What did you think about I can do bad all by myself? Share your thoughts about the movie in the comments below.

Movie review : Whiteout

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Whiteout

Writing reviews for average movies are the most difficult. So this will be a hard review to write. The one thing that inspires me to make this a slightly better than average movie is Kate Beckinsale performance. She did just about everything that could be done with her part. She’s a fine actress and did her job in this movie just right.

The rest of the cast held their own. I was pleasantly surprised to see Tom Skerritt in the movie. He’s a great actor as long as he plays exactly the same role over and over. And he got that role here in Whiteout. This isn’t a knock against Skerritt, there are many actors who can’t do any roles well. But there is hardly any difference between Skerritt’s characters in Alien to Top Gun to Contact to Whiteout. That’s probably why it’s good to see him in a movie because it’s almost like seeing a old friend.

The story itself is just ho-hum. There are twists to be sure. But you know that there are going to be twists and they’re not anything that makes you think, “Wow, I didn’t see that coming.” It’s more like, “Yeah, that makes since” sort of twists.

That just about does it for this very average – at best – review. Now hopefully next week there will be either an awesome movie or at the very least a movie that sucks so I can write a better review. 🙂

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

Movie review : 9

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9

[ No Spoilers ]

Although this film drips with Tim Burton’s style he was only the producer and not the writer/director as he is with many of his films. Shane Acker is the director and the creator of the original story. So kudos to Shane for making such a outstanding film on his first try. I’m looking forward to seeing more of what he creates.

The visual appearance of the movie is wonderful. It reminds me of a cross between The Matrix and Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow. And the similarities with The Matrix don’t end with the visual. The story and characters also seem to have influences from The Matrix while not at all being obvious. It’s easy to understand why since Acker originally developed the story in a short 11 minute film back in 2005.

The movie is PG-13 which seems about right. There are many violent scenes but no blood since there are only a few scenes with humans. But we come to think of the characters as human so some of the film might be a little traumatic to young children. However the ending is moderately happy. As happy as you can really get considering that a handful of characters die and the world is in a post apocalyptic state.

What did you think about 9? Share your thoughts about the movie in the comments below.