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Movie review : Gamer

Gamer

This movie would certainly have experienced a horrible, bloody, disfiguring death at the box office if it weren’t for Gerard Butler lending a hand to save it. But though he saved it doesn’t mean the movie survives in perfect health. Far from it. If this movie were embodied in human form it would be paralyzed, missing a few fingers, and certainly suffering from extensive brain damage to the point that it couldn’t hold a coherent thought in it’s head.

Even though Gerard Butler saved the movie this isn’t something he’s going to be proud of. No amount of acting talent is going to make a lame role shine. The only fault I can find is that Gerald needs to be more selective of the roles he accepts. He’s a great actor and probably has a buffet of roles that are offered to him. So Gerald, buddy, don’t fill up on stale bread sticks when they’re serving steak and lobster.

If you loved the Crank movies – from the same directors Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor – then you might be tempted to see this movie just for the action scenes. But then you could see 90% of the action by watching the previews. If you do find yourself watching this movie just for the action scenes then you can leave as soon as Kable escapes from prison.

And now a special note to the directors: Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor. Just because you read a few issues of Discover Magazine doesn’t mean you understand enough to use some future tech as the plot basis for your movie. The ending was lame, lame, lame.

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

Movie review : All About Steve

All About Steve

I must confess that one of the reasons I enjoyed All About Steve is that Mary’s character – played by Sandra Bullock – is a lot like my wife. So I’ll admit that I have a bit of a prejudice for the film.

That aside the film was rather bland. There was little or nothing that was outrageously funny but lots of little chuckles throughout. The story isn’t particularly riveting. The best that is offered is the message to not give up on yourself no matter what a freak you are.

As a date movie it might be okay. But there isn’t much depth to the story that would lend itself to a conversation about the dynamics of the story over dinner afterward. Unless you’re really desperate to see a movie let me suggest catching this on DVD.

What did you think about All About Steve? Share your thoughts about the movie in the comments below.

Movie review : Extract

Extract

Since Extract billed itself as the funniest movie of the summer I think I have grounds to demand a refund based on false advertising. I think The Hangover wins that title hands down, or is that hands together? 🙂

I’m not saying Extract was a bad movie. It just didn’t quite get over the hump of being a good movie. Throughout the film I just couldn’t shake the feeling that something was missing. It finally dawned on me, “This movie would have been much better if the Coen Brothers – Raising Arizona, Burn After Reading, No Country for Old Men, etc. – had rewritten and directed it.” ( Do you agree? )

Now it’s impossible for me to fairly review the movie because I can only think about how much better/funnier it could have been. If you really want to go to the movies and see a comedy this is probably your best option since there isn’t a lot of funny in the theaters right now. Otherwise, wait for it on DVD or better yet wait for the Coen brothers to remake it. 🙂

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

Movie review : Taking Woodstock

Taking Woodstock

To me one of the most important aspects of a film is the pacing. Ang Lee is a masterful director and you can see his handywork here. I can’t think of another film that used pacing as a part of the story so effectively. The movie is very slow to get started. But you know that something huge is going to happen because, well, it’s about Woodstock.

Pacing like this can be dangerous because it depends so much on the mood of each movie goer. If a person is in a hurry to be entertained, they will get bored quickly. But if they trust in the story to deliver something entertaining and meaningful…then it can work. So I can tell you now: if you go into this movie in the mindset that you want to be grabbed by the story right away then you’ll be disappointed. You’ll just have to trust that Ang Lee is going to get you there.

The question is, does the story deliver in the end? This is where I’ll give the movie a B+. I think an A+, home run for the movie would require that I felt, for just a moment, like I had actually been at Woodstock. Which would be a tall order. However, by the end of the movie I did wish that I could have been there . That’s good enough for me and I think that makes the story a success.

Aside from the story the movie performs well as a documentary. I understand a good deal more about the events surrounding Woodstock.

What else do you need to know? The acting, cinematography, etc, were all rock solid. I don’t see anyone getting an award for their role, but that’s mainly because there isn’t all that much to get excited about. If anyone stood out I would say it’s Elliot’s father. I thought he did a marvelous job.

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

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Movie review : (500) Days of Summer

(500) Days of Summer

500 Days of Summer is the best romantic comedy I’ve seen in a long time. I’m going to put it in that group of great romantic comedies that sits right under When Harry Met Sally, and Four Weddings and a Funeral.

It was funny, but not hilarious. There were a handful of laugh out loud scenes that were funny to the audience but not funny to the characters ( I think we call that ironic comedy from now on).

What really surprised me is the effectiveness of the non chronological storytelling. The movie begins with day 500 and then skips around through the days non-sequentially. But it isn’t as if the story skipped around for no reason. Each jump was based on what the characters were thinking at the time. At no point was I lost thinking, “Is this the before or after breakup? Where are we?” The entire movie is a sequence of flashbacks but you hardly notice. And it seems obvious why it is written that way: it’s because this is how we actually remember things. So kudos to the writers and director for a job well done.

Zooey Deschanel was a perfect cast for this part. She is cute and quirky without being too beautiful for the role – just beautiful enough is more like it. 🙂 ( Yes, I’m a Zooey fan. ) It is fun seeing an actor like Joseph Gordon-Levitt go from the brother in G.I. Joe to this role. Even though I just saw G.I. Joe last week I didn’t recognize him. He played the role superbly by not overdoing it. He’s just an average guy who got his heart broken.

And let me add that this movie has the best post first-sex music montage ever.

What did you think about (500) Days of Summer? Share your thoughts about the movie in the comments below.

Movie review : The Time Traveler’s Wife

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The Time Traveler’s Wife

When I go to the movies I like to sit back, relax, eat popcorn and wash it down with that monster diet soda, especially now that I don’t have to worry about missing key parts of the movie while making a trip or two to the ladies room. (RunPee.com). The Time Travelers Wife is not a movie that allows one to do that. Even though it’s a nice love story, it is confusing. I spent way too time tying to figure out if Henry,the time traveler, was the Henry of the past or the future. However, I did enjoy the scenery and Eric Bana was easy on the eyes.

What did you think about The Time Traveler’s Wife? Share your thoughts about the movie in the comments below.

Movie review : Bandslam

Bandslam

Bandslam reinforced a lesson that I’ve learned many times: never judge a movie based on it’s genre. I’m not a fan of horror movies but I’ve seen many horror movies that I love. And I’m not a big fan of cop/gangster movies yet I think some of the movies in that genre are great. And since I’m more than twice the age of the oldest teenager you would think that I wouldn’t like teen movies, such as Bandslam.

But I’m happy to report that I’ve found another instance of a movie that I loved from a genre that I generally don’t care for.

Bandslam is just an old fashioned good movie. It’s solid story telling and avoids the common cliches that teen movies are prone to have.

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

Movie review : District 9

District 9

You can tell from the previews that District 9 is slightly atypical. Much of the movie is shot as a documentary. Especially the first 10-15 minutes. After that it begins to stray into a more conventional filming style while retaining a hint of the documentary camera style. The director Neill Blomkamp finds a nice balance – meaning he didn’t use it so much that it became irritating.

As a science fiction fan I’m always hoping that a movie like this will become an instant classic. In that aspect I’m quite disappointed. However I did enjoy the movie. It was good. Not great.

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

Movie review : G.I. Joe – The Rise of Cobra

GI Joe - CollectionaryIt’s good to keep in mind that G.I Joe is a movie based on action figures. The good guys are good guys and want to be even better. The bad guys are bad guys and want to be even badder. There is no internal conflict. No questioning motives. Okay, maybe a tiny bit but nothing like the internal conflict of X-Men or Spider Man. But that’s okay. G.I. Joe is from a generation that didn’t have that whole conflicty thing going on. The most recent generations – you know who you are – just thrive on internal conflict to the point of inflicting it upon Superman – which is really just wrong on so many levels.

No, G.I. Joe is pretty much what you might get if you gave a 10 year old Spielberg the entire action set and then stuck electrodes in his head that could record his imagination. Lets have big fights between teams of fighter jets underwater. And then lets have these two guys fight each other a lot because they both fight with swords. And of course the bad guys inevitably must capture one of the good guys so that there can be a rescue.

There is nothing wrong with G.I. Joe if you want lots of action and a shallow and easy to follow plot. If you’re big on intrigue, twisty plots and the ubiquitous internal conflict then you might be a bit disappointed in this film. This might be an action film that baby boomers like more than twenty somethings.

BTW, anyone know where I can preorder an accelerator suit? 🙂

What did you think about G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra? Share your thoughts about the movie in the comments below.

Movie review : Julie & Julia

Julie & Julia

Julie & Julia is a story driven film and pretty light on plot. But that isn’t a bad thing by any means. The script by tells a good story that the director put together masterfully. Which shouldn’t be difficult since both jobs were done by Nora Ephron: Harry Met Sally, Sleepless in Seattle, You’ve Got Mail, et al. Combine that with exceptional acting and you have a good film. I’m not saying it’s great or not. That takes time and rewatching to discover. But there is that potential.

Most surprising is the number of times the audience laughed. There were at least 6 scenes that got a goodly percentage of the audience to laugh out loud. A few times it was enough to miss the next few lines of dialogue. While I wouldn’t label this movie a comedy it was funnier than most of the moves that do so.

Of course Meryl Streep’s performance was what one would expect: perfect. She is astonishing in her abilities and we see it here. Amy Adams does a fine job as do the supporting men playing their husbands. There really isn’t a weak link in the film.

What did you think about Julie & Julia? Share your thoughts about the movie in the comments below.