Monday, June 27, 2011

Last week in DVD through June 26th.

Red Riding Hood

What a piece of junk! It's like fairy tales for the Twilight-loving, tween generation. Shot on the set of a Renaissance Fair...well, that's what it feels like anyway. The movie feels very small and low budget. They literally only have like two or three sets in the whole movie.

I don't really need go into the story, as there isn't much of one here and most of you are already aware of Red Riding Hood. It stars Amanda Seyfried. That's about all you need to know. She likes some guy, but is supposed to marry another guy. What this has to do with anything, I don't know. You know this movie isn't going for seriousness when the main love interest for Amanda Seyfried's character shows up with his hair styled up with all kinds of hair gel, yet everyone else is dirty and grimy. I'm surprised he wasn't holding a bottle of Axe during scenes for product placement.

The whole movie just looked generic to me, and it's BOOOOORING. If the werewolf isn't there, then there just isn't anything to care about. Speaking of the werewolf, it was pretty awful looking anyway. It looked worse than the werewolves from Twilight. At one point it's just bounding around the town and you can't even tell what's going on. It's killing villagers indescriminately and you don't who any of them are and you don't care either.

This movie wastes the talents of Gary Oldman and Colonel Tigh from Battlestar Galactica. I have to wonder why someone like Gary Oldman would even be in this, but I guess actors have to eat. I think he tried to have a little fun with this, but there just isn't that much to work with. The acting and dialog are just bad all around. I actually didn't mind Amanda Seyfried here, but again, she's not given that much to do except look pretty. She just had the right look for a movie and role like this.

Also, the soundtrack was awful and distracting. The songs sounded like modern songs that had no place in a movie like this, but again, I'm sure it's that they were targeting the movie at tweens, so you need a modern soundtrack so you can sell it.

It's just clear this is a movie made to get tweens to see it and make money. They don't even try to tell a good story or get good performances out of anyone. The awfulness of this movie shouldn't be a surpise considering it was directed by Catherine Hardwicke, who directed the first Twilight film, and we all know how terrible that was. Also this was written by David Johnson, who is also writing the upcoming Clash of the Titans 2, so you know that's just going to be great now.

Oh and the ending is just terrible!

Pass on this.


The Other Women

Natalie Portman plays, here's a shocker for you, the other woman. Only she's really only the 'other woman' in a flashback. She's actually married to the guy at the start of the film. Then they go back and show you how they met, which was confusing, because they just randomly switch to a flashback that lasts for like 15 minutes. Unless maybe I blinked when they said x month/years ago or something. Then you find out that Portman and her new husband had a kid that died I guess or had a miscarriage, it's not clear at first, but finally explained later.

I felt like this was about a bunch of unlikeable people. There are times where it seems like everyone in the movie is an asshole, even the kid. Eventually, they tone it down, but overall there's just not that much to like here as far as the characters.

You get decent performances by Natalie Portman and Lisa Kudrow, who plays the 'original woman', but that's about it.

This was written and directed by Don Roos, who wrote Marley & Me and Single White Female, so I was expecting a little more here.

This is a pass for me.


Somewhere

Yes, it goes 'nowhere'...hahaha...we all get it! I've heard that joke like ten times. Seriously though, this really just goes nowhere at all.

Sophia Coppolla wrote and directed this, and I believe this is intended as a companion to Lost in Translation. The difference is that with Somewhere you don't care about the lead or much of what's going on. Where Lost in Translation starred a charming Bill Murray, here you get a blank Steven Dorff. You're kind of behind the eight ball right off the bat when you get Stephen Dorff as your lead. I don't dislike the guy, but he's just not all that interesting or distinguishable. In fact, I bet if you showed the average person pictures of Stephen Dorff and then Ethan Hawke, I bet most people would get them mixed up. Hell, I almost wrote this starred Ethan Hawke. Anyway, it's hard to buy this movie because of the lead.

It's about an actor, and you're under the impression that he's a hot commodity (which is why the Dorff casting doesn't make sense), that just seems bored with his life. He's bored with partying, acting, and women. Hell, he's even falling asleep during sex a few times. It seems like everyone kisses his ass, but nobody really likes him. About the only thing he seems to enjoy is his time with his daugther, played by Elle Fanning, who once again is the strongest thing about this movie. Superstar, I tell you!

It's not a bad movie, it's just not all that entertaining or something that you get emotionally connected with. I mean, I get what they were trying to do here, but I just don't see many people watching this and sympathizing with the main character at all. Oh, you're bored with being rich, famous and having women throw themselves at you. Poor baby! Yeah, I get how it would be boring after a while if that's all your life was, but still, cry me a river.

Watch on streaming or cable, but I wouldn't go out of your way to rent it.


Vanishing on 7th Street

Uh oh...another one of my favorites, Hayden Christensen, stars in this one, along with Thandie Newton and John Leguizamo. I actually didn't mind Christensen here, but this isn't exactly a movie you watch expecting great performances. It's a horror/thriller.

It's starts with an interesting enough premise. Basically, there's a rapture-like event where nearly everyone on Earth disappears, leaving only their clothing behind. The survivors figure out that people seem to only disappear when they are surrounded by darkness and any light source, even a small flashlight protects them. Somehow, whatever caused this, also caused all power to fail everywhere and also is causing the days to be shorter and shorter. They eventually all meet up in a bar that is powered by a gas powered generator and is basically the only safe place left in the city.

The issue I had is that nothing is explained. It's never really understood who is doing this. It's just shadows. You don't know the motivation, the cause and there's ultimately no resolution. How are shadow beings affecting the power? How are they making the days shorter? Why is any of this happening?

It is kind of creepy in parts, especially if you have issues with the dark or shadows. I wasn't terribly invested in anyone in the film. Although, there was a short moment at the end that tugged my heart strings a bit, but that involves a kid who's only in the movie for a moment.

This actually feels like something that could have been a TV movie or just an episode of a show like the Twighlight Zone. It's kind of interesting that this was directed by Brad Anderson, who has mostly worked on TV shows, so I guess that explains the TV feel.

Ultimately, I'd only recommend watching this if you catch it streaming or on cable. It's available streaming on Netflix, which is about as far as I'd go out of my way to watch it.


Cedar Rapids

Ed Helms plays an insurance salesman from a small town. He's a sweet guy, but very sheltered. It becomes pretty clear that he's never been outside of the small town he lives in. He's sent to a work conference in Cedar Rapids, which for him is like a normal person going to the big city for the first time, except at the end of the day, it's still just Cedar Rapids. At first he seems to have a hard time acclimating and relating to everyone, but eventually losens up, makes friends and eventually finds himself.

If it feels like I'm kind of just glossing over the the plot, it's because the plot of this movie really isn't the point. It's more about the characters and their interactions. The story itself really isn't all that interesting, but the characters are.

Fans of either John C. Reilly or Ed Helms should like this. The rest of the cast, is great as well. There are many recognizable actors here that show up and bring a little something to the movie.

Overall, I enjoyed this. It had a great cast, it's funny, sometimes sweet, with a little bit of raunch (mostly provided by John C. Reilly), but it's not over the top with it. However, I can see people not liking this. It's one of those comedies that's a little different and I can see it not being liked by everyone.

This one is a good rental for me.


Brotherhood

Here's a simple one for you. This is basically about a fraternity prank gone wrong. Once the mistake is made, the frat boys continue to compound bad decision after bad decision. They keep doing stupid things to avoid getting in trouble, save for the one character that wants to do the right thing, but he still kinds of screws up himself.

If you want to see frat-boy douches screw up, then you'll like this all the more.

It has pretty good performances, despite it starring essentially a bunch of unknowns. Also, it's only about 80 minutes long, so it doesn't drag on too long and you don't have to invest a lot of time in this one.

This was written and directed by Will Canon and it looks like this was his first feature, so hopefully we can expect good things from him in the future.

I think it's worth a rental.


Ceremony

The main character, played my Michael Angarano, who appears to be an unsuccessful children's book writer, attempts to rekindle a friendship with an old best best and they take a road trip. However, it becomes clear the the main character is just a fast talking dude that was really masking the trip as a chance to sneak into a wedding to stalk Uma Thurman's character, whom he had a short fling with.

His best friend is a nice enough guy, but also the kind of guy that always lets a stronger friend or personality walk all over him, which happens here a lot. At times you want to sympathize with him, and later you might not like him for not standing up for himself enough. This is the thing I always have an issue with in a lot of Ben Stiller movies.

At times Angarano's fast talking character is amusing, and at other times I didn't like him cause he seemed like too much of a user. The drunk brother played by Jake M. Johnson was the bright spot for me. I thought he was consistently funny. It was also funny seeing Lee Pace (Pushing Daisies) playing kind of arrogant ass in this, but he's not in it much.

It's really uneven for me. There are times I thought it was funny and times I couldn't stand either of the main characters. This was written and directed by Max Winkler, and this also appears to be his first feature, so maybe he'll improve over time. It just seems like he wasn't quite sure what kind of movie he wanted to make here.

This is also probably not worth going out of your way to rent, but if you catch it on cable, it wouldn't be a complete waste of your time.


The Eagle

Master thespian Channing Tatum plays a Roman centurion who goes on a mission to find...you guessed it...an Eagle. Actually it's a golden eagle standard, which is a symbol of Roman honor and was lost by his father years ago. As his father lost this symbol of honor, Tatum's family honor has been tarnished and he's on a mission to restore it and prove that his father was not a coward. As it's too dangerous to take an actual force into Northern Britain, he decides to go only with the aid of his Briton slave, played by Jamie Bell.

This has some brutal fight scenes, but it's really not that bloody. Also, the fight scenes are a little few and far between. There are lots of scenic shots and all, but I was hoping for more action. It's just a little too slowly paced for me.

I'll give Tatum credit. At least he's trying. He's still got a long ways to go before being a good actor though. I thought it was weird that all of the actors spoke in American accents, even though most of the actors were English. I don't know if this was an intentional decision or forced by the fact that you cast Channing Tatum as your lead and he probably can't pull off the accent. It was just distracting. Oh Mark Strong (Sinestro from Green Lantern) is in this briefly and is almost unrecognizable. Seems like a waste of a good actor.

This was directed by Kevin Macdonald, who directed The Last Kind of Scotland and State of Play, which I both really liked. I was a disappointed in this as a result.

It's not bad, but there's just nothing to get excited about. As I mentioned above, there isn't enough action, and you really don't care about any of the characters one way or another.

I suppose there are worse things you can rent, but I wouldn't go out of your way. If you get it on streaming or cable, then I'd go that route.

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