Thursday, September 29, 2011

Tucker & Dale vs Evil - Movie Review

I'm a huge slasher flick fan.  The gorier and sillier the film, the better.  For me, slasher flicks are more of a guilty pleasure than even bad romantic comedies.  So naturally, I was really looking forward to watching Tucker & Dale vs Evil.

This movie takes the typical horror movie and flips it on it's side. It's both gory and hilarious.  I didn't think the gore in T&D was the type that's made to gross you out or shock you though.  Also, when I say it's hilarious, that's a good thing, as this movie is intentionally funny.  Most of the time, I think slasher flicks are funny because they are just plain awful or take themselves too seriously while not realizing how bad they are.  Other times, a slasher flick will use humor to break tension.  With Tucker & Dale, this movie is more of a parody of the slasher genre.  Don't be scared by the word 'parody' though.  This is no Scary Movie or any of the 'films' from that awful family of crap.

In the movie, Tucker and Dale are a pair of hillbilly brothers on their way out to the woods to fix up a cabin they plan on turning into their first vacation home.  At the same time, you are following a group of typical college kids headed to the same woods to go camping for the weekend.  After the first few minutes, you'll quickly realize that this movie isn't quite going the direction a normal slasher flick is going.  Once everyone gets to the woods, the movie takes off and really starts to shine.

This review is tough for me because I'm chomping at the bit to tell you all about it, but I liked it so much that I just don't want to ruin anything for you.  The less you know about Tucker & Dale, the better.  Some of the better moments and surprises in this movie are SPOILED by the trailers.  If you're going to watch this, don't watch the trailers.

I'm kind of torn on the trailer thing this time around, as it was a bit of the double-edged sword.  If I hadn't seen the trailers all those months ago, I wouldn't have known about T&D and wouldn't have had much interest in seeing this right away.  I probably wouldn't have rented it for a few months and then been a little pissed I didn't watch it sooner.  I was considering posting the trailer here, but I just can't spoil it for you.  I really think you should go into this knowing as little as you can.
Despite many things being spoiled, I still enjoyed the hell out of  Tucker & Dale.  As soon as I was done watching it, I immediately started the movie back over and watched a few of my favorite scenes again.  There were a few parts that I found funnier the second time around.

This stars Alan Tudyk (Firefly, Dodgeball, Transformers: Dark of the Moon) as 'Tucker' and Tyler Labine as 'Dale'.  I thought they were both really funny.  With Alan Tudyk I expected as much, because been in a lot of good things and is a fan favorite.  Tyler Labine surprised me a little more.  He's one of those guys you'll recognize as he's shown up with small roles in lots of different movies and TV shows, but I wasn't sure if he could carry a movie as one of the leads.  I think he worked really well here.

The only other person you might recognize is Katrina Bowden, who plays 'Cerie' on 30 Rock.  She's really cute as the lead.  I'd like to see her get a little more work and see if she has more to offer than the small roles she's played so far.  Maybe a romantic comedy or something like that.

I have to credit the writing and direction Eli Craig for how much I liked Tucker & Dale.  He did a lot with a small budget and a cast of mostly unknowns. Neither Eli Craig, nor co-writer Morgan Jurgenson, have a notable body of work.  It looks like this was the first feature for either of these guys.  I hope they didn't blow their wads with T&D.

If you're a fan of the horror genre and want to watch something that isn't your typical slasher flick, I highly recommend Tucker & Dale vs Evil.  I think this is a great party movie.  Rent it, invite over a few friends and I think you'll have a great time.  It should be available On-Demand starting Friday and in a few smaller theaters here and there.  I know it's playing in Berkeley and I think this would be great movie to see with an audience.  Alternatively, I have it saved on my DVR for the next week or so and will host a viewing party on Saturday, October 8th if anyone is interested.

Oh, on another note.  I was able to sign up for the Amazon Associates program.  If you plan on buying something from Amazon, please click through one of the Amazon related links on my blog to get you to Amazon's site.  I guess I'm supposed to get a little bit of a kickback form Amazon if you buy something going through one of the links on my page.  I appreciate the support!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Moneyball - Movie Review

I wasn't actually all that excited about seeing Moneyball, even though I was a huge Oakland A's fan growing up. In recent years, I've grown out of them, and baseball in general. I wasn't sure I was going to be able to enjoy a movie about a team and the man behind them. What's worse was that this movie is based during a time when I was still heavily into the A's and year after year they would break my heart. The A's would lose in the playoffs and then see their best players jump ship for more money. I think I thought of watching Moneyball as kind of like opening an old wound.

The good thing is that Moneyball is that it's a movie that you don't have to be into baseball, or the A's, to enjoy. I found it made me more nostalgic about those times, than reminding me of my consistent disappointment in the A's.

Moneyball, is more of a story about their Billy Beane, and how he changed the way a lot of people think about baseball, rather than a movie about baseball itself. Billy Beane, played by Brad Pitt, is the Oakland A's General Manager. For those of you that don't know, the Oakland A's are 'small market' baseball team that couldn't keep up with the payrolls of larger teams like the Yankees and saw their best player consistently leaving the A's for more money.

Beane had to figure out a way to stay competitive, and put a winning team out on the field at just a quarter of the budget of some of these larger teams. Enter Peter Brandt, played by Jonah Hill. The Brandt character was actually Paul DePodesta, but they had to change the name for legal reasons. Anyway, the two of them started to look at and evaluate players in a different way and were still able to put a winning team out on the field.

They basically did this by looking at players that had a tendency to get on base, but weren't exactly the best baseball players or the flashiest. Many of these guys were cast-offs from other teams or older players way past their prime. As a result, they were able to get them for much cheaper. I remember one of the reasons why I used to love the A's during this time was because they had a underdog feeling to them and were a team full of nobodies. That's not to say they didn't have good players though. One of the things not mentioned in the movie was that at the time, they had one of the best shortstops in the game (Miguel Tejada, who I believe won MVP that year) and one of the best pitching rotations (The Big Three).

As I mentioned before, the movie is more about Beane and their 'Moneyball' theories, than the actual game of baseball. The scenes of baseball are actually kind of few and far between. Most of the baseball is really featured in the last part of the film, when they go into the 20-game win streak (I was actually there for win 18, I believe, but it might have been the 16th). There is very little focus on the players, and only two or three of them are even given much screen time or anything to say or do.

Obviously, when you watch a movie based on real events, there are some things that get changed for dramatic purposes or legal reasons (as with the changing of Paul DePodesta to Peter Brandt). I felt like the baseball stuff was pretty spot on though, or at least how I remember things. For those of you that are interested, I've included a link to a article at the end of the review that goes into details on some of the reality vs. movie.

Moneyball is a pretty dialog-heavy movie, but that's a good thing, as the dialog really pops! The movie was co-written by Aaron Sorkin, who also wrote The Social Network. I felt like Moneyball had a similar tone to The Social Network, particularly with the dialog. Much like with The Social Network, I was pretty engaged in almost every scene of dialog. It was almost to the point that when they would show a short clip of baseball being played, I'd be like, "Get back to the dialog!"

Brad Pitt is great as Billy Beane! He really played him in a way that made him both interesting and likable. He deals with people in a very direct and confident way. This contrasts with the many scenes of him interacting with his daughter that are really sweet. I did kind of get the feeling that this is being put out as Oscar bait for Pitt, but it is a great performance. I'm not sure it's Oscar worthy, but I wouldn't be surprised to see a nomination thrown his way (or at least a Golden Globe).

Jonah Hill is also really good here. It was nice to see him in a roll that was different for a change. This is the first movie I've seen him in where he isn't playing that same character that you've seen in movies like Superbad or Knocked Up, where he's just crass and silly. There's hope for him yet.

The rest of the performances were good across the board. I thought Chris Pratt was good as Scott Hatteberg. I could have used a little more Philip Seymour Hoffman (whom I refer to as 'the PSH') as Art Howe. All movies can generally benefit from more of the PSH though. However, he did play Howe are more of a villain. I'm sure this was done for dramatic purposes, as I guess all films need a villain. I always remember Howe to be a nice guy in interviews, and I recall he had a reputation for be a really nice guy, so seeing him as the villain seemed weird to me.

Moneyball was directed by Bennett Miller, who also directed Capote, which was another great movie starring the PSH. Aaron Sorkin also wrote the screenplay for Charlie Wilson's War, which was yet another movie that the PSH was great in. You can call this section of the review, 'My man-love for the PSH'.

Overall, I really, really liked Moneyball. I could watch this a few more times. Again, I thought the performances were great, the dialog was snappy and you don't have to be a baseball fan to enjoy this movie. I'm surprised to say this, but I think it is one of the better films I've seen this year. I think this something that everyone can enjoy and don't have a problem recommending it to anyone. Go see it!

Here's an article that goes into some of the movie vs. reality of Moneyball:

Friday, September 16, 2011

Drive - Movie Review

This has been an interesting year for me at far as leading men in movies. A whole bunch of guys that I used to think couldn't carry a movie, I've now changed my opinion on. Guys like Bradley Cooper, and now Ryan Gosling, not so much for Drive (he kind of won me over in Crazy, Stupid, Love), but I no longer roll my eyes when I see there's another moving coming out with his name attached to it.

Drive is about Ryan Gosling's character, who I don't even think had a name in the movie. I think he was just known as the Driver. Anyway, he's a stunt driver in movies that also moonlights as a getaway driver for hire. He's partnered up with Bryan Cranston (who's always great, as he is here) and they work in an autoshop together. Cranston's character is trying to buy a NASCAR car that he wants the Driver to drive. He borrows money from the local loan shark, mob-types, played by Ron Perlman and Albert Brooks.

Driver strikes up a friendship with his neighbor, played by Carey Mulligan, and her son. They seem to have a little bit of a romance brewing, but then her husband is released from prison. He's in trouble with some mob-types after getting out of prison, and Driver attempts to help him out. I'll stop talking about the plot here.

I have a feeling a lot of people might walk out of this movie not knowing what to think. The trailer plays up the action, yet there are large stretches of time were nothing happens. I think this is one of those movies where the trailer might be a little misleading for some. The opening sequence is great and builds a lot of tension, but then it seems nothing happens for a good 30 minutes or so. I started to wonder when it was going to get on with it.

There's a lot of weird dialog, or lack of dialog. Gosling's character hardly says anything. There's a lot of moments were Gosling and Mulligan just stare at each other. She'll ask him a question and he'll just stare for a minute before giving like a one word answer. Sometimes it felt like he would say something that didn't have anything to do with the current conversation. That seemed to be how he interacted with almost everyone.

Drive had a weird 80's vibe to it, starting with the font the used for the opening credits and then the music used throughout the movie. I kind of dug that part of it though. Since Drive doesn't have a lot of dialog, you do focus on the music more than you normally might. It also gives the movie kind of a muted feel.

However, this muted tone makes the sudden moments of BRUTAL violence all that more jarring. Once the movie hits the halfway mark and starts to take off, there are some crazy scenes. These moments are shocking as they differ so much from the rest of the film.

I thought the cast was great. Gosling, Mulligan and Cranston were all fine, but I thought Albert Brooks really killed it in Drive. I don't think I've ever seen him in a role like this.

Drive does have more of an independent, artsy feel to it. You might get annoyed at the lack of dialog, but I think think this is a good example of a movie you can watch with the sound off and still know what's going on and get something out of it. It kind of reminded me of Hanna in the way the soundtrack was used.

This was directed by Nicolas Winding Refn, who also directed Bronson, which I coincidentally just watched this week, and is another brutal, weird movie. He also directed Valhalla Rising, which attempted to be artsy, but needed to be more brutal. He might have finally found just the right combo with Drive.

Overall, I enjoyed Drive. This is something I'd like to watch again once it comes out on Blu-Ray. I don't think it's for everyone though and I can see a lot of people not being able to get into it. For those of you looking for something a little different, I think it's a good matinee.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Contagion - Movie Review

Don't see this movie if you have a thing about germs. If you do have a thing about germs, then you're a scardey-cat anyway. I'm not talking about washing your hands before leaving the bathroom, but some people take it to an unhealthy extreme.

Anyway, originally I was upset at the trailer for Contation for spoiling the death of a character, played by a major actress. That seemed like a pretty big reveal and something that really irritates me about trailers these days. Fortunately, that death occurs in the opening moments of Contagion and doesn't really spoil much about the movie.

Contagion had an interesting start: Gwyneth Paltrow comes back home from a business trip in China. Shortly after arriving home, she falls ill and dies of a mysterious illness. In a weird twist, they add a flaw to her character that kind of makes you not sad she died, but anyway...

You see MATT DAMON freak out in the trailer, but that scene was edited for trailer impact. His actual reaction in the movie seemed a little toned down in comparison.

Many others die in a short period of time, which throws the CDC in a frenzy to identify the cause, and cure, of this illness. The CDC team is lead by Morpheus, I mean Laurence Fishburn, and Kate Winslet. Marion Cotillard's character is also involved, but I wasn't sure if she was part of the CDC or some other agency.

The cast of Contagion is stacked! Bryan Cranston shows up in a small role as some military dude, Elliot Gould is some scientist, Jude Law is a snaggle-toothed blogger (it's a weird fake tooth thing they gave him), and Oscar-nominated actor John Hawkes shows up for two seconds as a frigging janitor. It's like Steven Soderbergh cashed in a bunch of favors.

The first part of the movie is actually pretty tense and works as a good thriller. I was pretty engaged in what was going on. Then after about an hour, shit gets real! Once the disease becomes public, panic spreads and people start to revert riotous behavior. Except for MATT DAMON, who is inexplicably immune to the disease and as a result is unusually calm. I guess he's watched movies like I Am Legend and is just planning his strategy.

They don't focus all that much on the public reaction. Contagion seemed to focus more on the behind the scenes of the disease. I actually liked what they did here.

They do some things with the characters to let you know that nobody is safe. Unfortunately, there's so much going on that you at times lose track of the characters in the movie and subplots until they come back to them. Towards the end of the movie, they try wrap up one of the subplots and I had actually forgotten about that character entirely. Contagion isn't that long, only about an hour and forty minutes, so I think it might have been better served by slightly expanding those subplots so you cared a little more. I felt like it was paced pretty well, so I might have benefited from a little more development in a few areas. I never caught myself checking my phone to see how far I was into the movie. I don't mind a longer movie if they keep it interesting.

Contagion was directed by Steven Soderbergh, who has a good track record with large, star-studded casts, but there was just too much going on here. This was written by Scott Z. Burns, who clearly is in love with MATT DAMON, as this is the third film he's written that stars him (The Informant and The Bourne Ultimatum were the others). Soderbergh has also worked with MATT DAMON a few times, so the DAMON-love goes all around.

Contagion is a pretty good movie for what it is. It's nicely paced, has a good plot and has good actors doing their thing. I didn't walk out of it disappointed or feeling like I had wasted my money.

If you want my recommendation for the weekend, see Contagion if you're in the mood for a thriller-type movie. Otherwise, see Warrior if you want something a little more action-based, with some family drama thrown in for good measure.

Either way, I recommend either Contagion or Warrior as a strong matinee this weekend. I think Warrior is the better overall film though.

p.s. MATT DAMON rulez!!!

Monday, September 5, 2011

The Guard - Movie Review

Sometimes, even when an independent movie has a great cast, it doesn't get a wide release, because it just won't be appreciated by the mass audience. The Guard is one of those movies.

The Guard is about a small-town, Irish cop, played by Brendan Gleeson. His methods are unusual and he seems to get off on messing with both his subordinates and superiors. I think most people would consider him to be a bit of an asshole. He's good enough at his job, but doesn't seem to take it all that seriously, as not much happens in his neck of the woods.

When word that a big drug deal might be moving through his town, the FBI, led by Don Cheadle, is brought in to help capture them. That's pretty much the whole story. The rest is just the character interaction.

This has elements of a fish-out-of-water story with Cheadle's character, but this movie is really all about Brendan Gleeson's character. Gleeson is just fantastic here! I've always been a huge fan of his and this is up there with movies like In Bruges.

Don Cheadle gives another great performance and is pretty much the straight man to Gleeson's character. Cheadle doesn't know what to make of Gleeson. Cheadle's character even says of Gleeson's at one point, 'You're either really smart or really dumb.' The Guard plays with that throughout the film.

Even the villains, led by Liam Cunningham and Mark Strong, are played with a sense of humor and given actual personalities, rather than just being cookie cutter bad guys.

This is one of the funniest films I've seen all year. If you like black comedies where most all of the delivery is deadpan then you'll love this. If I wasn't laughing for several moments after a particular scene, then I was just smiling my way through the movie. The Guard is one of those
movies I just thoroughly enjoyed from beginning to end.

At it's heart, The Guard is a buddy cop film, but if it were made by the Coen brothers, with a little bit of Guy Ritchie thrown in.

This was written and directed by John Michael McDonagh, and this appears to be his first major feature. He has almost nothing else to his credits. If this is his first major film, I hope his follow up films are even close to this good. I expect good things from him.

The Guard might be my second favorite film of the year. It's playing at The Vine in Livermore through the 22nd. I highly recommend checking it out, but you might need an Irish to American translator. This is a movie I plan on buying on Blu-Ray the second it comes out and I'm going to watch it over and over.

Space Battleship Yamato - Movie Review

Here's another DVD-review that I'm doing stand alone, as this movie was not released in the US and still hasn't even been released on DVD in the US. This is an import DVD I had to buy from an overseas vendor.

For those of you, like me, that grew up watching Star Blazers, this is the live-action version made and released in Japan back in 2010. There was actually a good amount of hype for Space Battleship Yamato on the various sci-fi sites out there. They even got Steven Tyler to record a (hugely cheesy) song for the credits, which I'm sure was an attempt to make people think of Armageddon and Aerosmith with "Don't Want to Miss a Thing".

Anyway, Space Battleship Yamato follows a streamlined version of the first season of the cartoon; an alien race, the Gamilas, bombards Earth with radioactive meteors forcing humans underground. The alien's plan is to make our planet like theirs, killing us in the process and then they can inhabit Earth. I might be wrong about them wanting to make our planet like theirs, but they definitely want us out.

Just as things are starting to look like humanity isn't to make it, a mysterious message is received that promises a technology that will allow us to fix the Earth. The catch is that we have to go the planet Iscandar to get it. Fortunately, they also sent us plans to create a warp drive and weaponry to allow us to make the flight. The humans add this technology to an old battleship, the Yamato (the Argo in the US version), and it's off to the stars to save the Earth. We have a year to get to their planet and then back before the Earth is doomed.

There's actually not much to Yamato. They go to Iscandar, warp a bunch of a times, have a bunch of space battles, reach Iscandar, and then come back to Earth. If you watched the cartoon, you pretty much already know how this is going to play out.

The cartoon was told over a 26 episode season, so it's going to be hard to capture everything that happens in a 2 hour and 15 minute movie. A lot of the character's personalities and development are going to be lost. That's to be expected though. As long as they get the basics right, then they should be okay.

The effects were really good and were what I would have hoped for in a live-action version of Star Blazers. They did a great job of capturing the same look of the ships and outfits from what I remember as a kid. I thought the Yamato looked great! I heard the budget for the movie wasn't all that high, so it would appear they really spent their money well. The movie does not look like it was made cheaply.

I really liked the space battle scenes. The opening scene was pretty bad ass and really set the tone. I was pumped to see how the movie would play out at that point. The movie really works best when the space battle scenes occur. There was a small issue I had though and that was that some of the fighter scenes were so fast, it seemed hard to believe that a human pilot would have been able to keep up. It was hard enough just to follow the action at times as a viewer. Imagine being the pilot. Also, whenever they fired the Wave Motion Gun it felt easy to the point where it was almost anti-climactic. That was how the cartoon was though, so again, this wasn't a huge issue.

Unfortunately, there were a few things I didn't like about Space Battleship Yamato.

My first gripe is how they changed the villains. In the U.S. Star Blazers, the enemies were the Gamilons (Gamilas in the original), a raced of blue-skinned aliens lead by Desslok (Desslar in Japan). In the live-action version, they've been changed a collective consciousness that inhabit generic, faceless robots. I really didn't like this change. It took away the human element of the enemies. Now they were just fighting generic, CG-robots. The robots didn't look very good either and there were TONS of them in certain scenes. I have to wonder if this was a budget thing or maybe they thought it would be easier to go with CG instead of hiring actors and painting their skin blue?

Originally, the mysterious message was sent by Queen Starsha from Iscandar, which was the twin planet of the Gamilas' homeworld. In the movie, there is no queen and it's revealed that Iscandar is basically a faction of the Gamilas collective consciousness that doesn't agree with what the Gamilas are doing and wants to help the humans. Again, this is a change that I just don't understand.

I really didn't like the ending. I don't know why Japanese films always have to have a bittersweet ending where one or more of the main characters die. This didn't happen in the original, so I didn't see the need to change things here.

Plus, the pettiness of the Gamilas in the movie was a little annoying. From what I recall of the cartoon, Desslok eventually learns to respect the humans and backs off. I think this happened in the second season though. In the movie, Dessla decides that the Gamilas no longer want the Earth. However, if they can't have Earth, nobody can, and try to blow up Earth. Um...that's mature. Imagine me stealing your car, then telling you I don't want it anymore, but instead of giving it back, I light it on fire.

Despite trying to summarize the entire first season in a movie, Yamato's run time felt too long. There were many scenes were it just felt like they were staring at nothing, staring at each other for too long, or hanging on lines of dialog. They could have tightened up these scenes and got the running time down closer to 2 hours. Towards the end, I was starting to get antsy and wanted them to just get on with it.

Maybe it's a cultural thing or something was lost in translation, but the character interaction was very unusual to me. The dialog and behavior felt really weird and silly at time. Also, there seemed to be times where characters were mad at each other and ready to fight for no real reason. I guess you could say that it had a very cartoon-like feel and maybe that's what they were going for. The overall tone of the movie is so serious though that the silliness didn't work and felt out of place.

I didn't hate Space Battleship Yamato. I'm glad I was finally able to check it out, but I just came a way from it disappointed. It was just a little lacking in a few areas. I hate to say make an American version of this, but I think if you got a competent director and screenwriter, you might really have a hit here. There's nothing about the basics of this story that wouldn't translate and make for a good film. It makes me a little more hopeful for the Robotech movie I keep hearing getting kicked around every once in a while.

You may not ever get a chance to watch the live-action Space Battleship Yamato, but if you get a chance and you were fan of the cartoon as a kid, it's worth a watch...once. If I watch this again, I'm just going to watch the space battle scenes and skip everything else.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Warrior - Movie Review

I caught a sneak preview of Warrior over the weekend, so I finally have a review up of a movie before it actually comes out!

The movie is about a kid trying out for the Golden State Warriors. Sorry, got my 'Warrior' mixed up. This has nothing to do with those Warriors.

Warrior is really about the story of two brothers. The younger brother, played by Tom Hardy (Bane in the upcoming The Dark Knight Rises), is a former Marine, who returns from home and begins to train in MMA. His main motivation appears to be to raise money for the family of a friend of his, who died in the war.

The older brother, played by Joel Edgerton ('Uncle Owen' from the Star Wars prequels...ha!), is a high school physics teacher and former MMA fighter. He and his family are underwater with their mortgage and Edgerton starts to fight again in order to raise money to keep their house.

Hardy, moves back in with his father, played by Nick Nolte, a recovering alcoholic and former boxer, who trains Hardy for the fights. It's clear that both sons don't respect or like their father and that his alcoholism tore the family apart some time ago.

Both brothers enter the same MMA tournament, which has a top prize of $5 million. Do you see where this is going? It is pretty cliched at times, to the point where my friend joked at one point though the film, 'I somehow think this is all coming to an inevitable conclusion.' It doesn't help that the trailer gives the conclusion away either. It'll draw comparisons to movies like Rocky and The Fighter, but I would think any movie featuring a fighter trying to take care of his family is going to draw some kind of comparison to those.

The refreshing thing is this is finally a MMA-based movie that is actually good, as opposed to trash like Never Back Down and Fighting.

Warrior is not based on a true story, despite what you may have heard. I don't actually think that's ever stated during the movie or the trailer. I just think that's the perception of the film, and probably based on the fact that a lot of 'grittier' fighting movies, like The Fighter, are based off real events. There are, however, elements of real fighters though. For example, Kurt Angle's character, Koba, appears to be somewhat based on Fedor. It was kind of funny seeing Kurt Angle playing a Russian fighter, when he was a former US Olympic Gold Medal winner. He has no dialog though, so this was clearly a role he was brought in for just to have his physical presence.

You get your usual training montages, but fortunately they weren't overdone. They don't overload you with MMA terminology. If you've ever watched even just a single MMA fight, you won't have any trouble following the fight scenes in Warrior.

It kind of felt like 'Hollywood-MMA', similar to 'Hollywood-Boxing'. My friend pointed out that particular move done at one point would have been illegal, but that's Hollywood doing MMA for you. It's like the guy that did the fight scenes saw that one clip of "Rampage" Jackson slamming Arona and said, "Oh yeah, that must happen several times a fight. We need to put that in our movie!"

I thought the performances were all great. I really felt for Nick Nolte's character. It's a very emotional performance as a recovering alcoholic, who just wants to be forgiven by his sons and have relationships with them.

Hardy and Edgerton were both great, but clearly Edgerton's character is the protagonist. At least he was the character I found myself rooting for. Both guys got in great shape for the movie and I'm sure the ladies will like looking at them.

You can't help but feel a little bit of a tear come in at the final moments. This is a movie you might see a lot of guys crying in. I don't mean to say I cried something in my eyes. Stop looking at me!

Warrior was written and directed by Gavin O'Connor, who doesn't have a lot of work to his name that you'd know of, outside of Miracle. This is clearly his best work so far.

Warrior takes a bit to get going, but there's enough humor and real human moments here to keep you going through it all until the fighting starts. The movie has heart! This is one of the better fighter-based movies I've seen. I wouldn't quite put it up there with Rocky or The Fighter, but just behind them. Overall, I still think this is a really good movie. I think this is a strong matinee and recommend seeing it this weekend.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Apollo 18 - Movie Review

I wasn't sure when I saw the commercials, but my fears were confirmed after the first 30 seconds, Apollo 18 is yet another 'found footage' film. How they found the footage, you really can't be certain. There's a pretty huge flaw in the found footage aspect of this that will be clear if you actually have the patience to stay awake through this 87 minute bore-fest. Basically, there's no way footage could be found on the Moon, or floating around in outer space.

The setup is okay. You are told that after the 17th Apollo mission, the program was scrapped. However, there was one final mission that you didn't know about. This 'found footage' was the assembled footage from that mission. They even try to pass this off as real by giving you a fake website this footage was uploaded to (I already tried looking up the site, but can't find it).

However, if you recognize an actor in the first scene of a movie, the whole 'found footage' aspect is ruined. Not that I think anyone would believe this was a real event. The person I recognized was Warren Christie who's currently on SyFy's Alphas, which I would recommend you watch instead of Apollo 18.

Anyway, they are on the Moon for day and weird stuff starts to happen. They hear things. Stuff seems to have moved around outside. Junk like that. None of it is all that interesting and it just drags along making you wait to find out whatever it is.

There are a few moments that might scare you, but it's all jump scares. Apollo 18 never really succeeds at being creepy. It just succeeds of being boring. Even when you get to the big reveal towards the end, it is totally unsatisfying and actually quite lame.

This movie was directed by Gonzalo Lopez-Gallego, who has only directed foreign films up to this point, which is interesting because this movie had a kind of a foreign film to me, even though it's based on US astronauts.

I don't recommend seeing Apollo 18. This might be better to watch at home if you watched this with good surround sound with the lights off, as I think the sound effects might come off better in a smaller room. Save it for rental or streaming though. Even that's stretching it.

I really wish I would have hung around and sneaked into another movie, so I could have felt I got my money's worth today.

Shark Night 3D - Movie Review

I have to admit I'm a sucker for movies like this. If done right, they can be a guilty pleasure; laughs, good use of gore, gratuitous nudity, etc. Shark Night 3D contains none of these things. Shark Night 3D isn't worth the chum thrown in the water to attract actual sharks.

If you're going to make a movie about sharks, maybe you should consult someone that knows something about actual sharks. You know, maybe get someone that knows more about sharks other than what one looks like. This is sharks if they were written by 12-year-olds and turned into superheroes. In Shark Night, sharks can swim faster than speeding boats and can hit boats hard enough to make their engines stall and smoke. You know, cause sharks do that all the time.

The sharks never move with the grace that you are used to seeing them have on Shark Week. The sad part is, they even reference Shark Week during the movie. So the makers of this movie are aware there is a thing called Shark Week, but I guess never spent a moment of time watching it?

The effects are awful! The sharks never look real or even consistent. There's a shark attack towards the end where you get a good look at the shark before the attack. A few seconds later they show the same shark attacking again, yet it doesn't look like it's even close to the same size, as the shark you just saw.

At one point, they tell him he's looking at a tiger shark, but when he's dunked under water, he's presented with a slow motion shot of shark that clearly wasn't a tiger shark. Plus, it was a weird slow motion shot were the shark was looking at him and going, "Oh hai, Guy. I'm going to eat you in a second."

There's nothing notable about the cast or dialog other than to say that they were all bad. Oh, they do kill the black guy first. American Idol fans will see Katherine McPhee try to act and show why she hasn't had much of a career post-Idol. Even her death scene is unsatisfying.

There's one redneck guy that at first you think has missing teeth, only to see later in the film, that he's basically filed his teeth down to resemble shark teeth. This movie is just nothing but cliches.

This was directed by David E. Ellis, who's directed some of the Final Destination films and Snakes on a Plane. That's too bad, if he had injected a little Snakes on a Plane in Shark Night, this might have been actually entertaining on some level.

This is what you get for making a movie like this PG-13. You aren't going to attract the right audience, as your PG-13 rating is going to eliminate the gore or any of the nudity you'd expect. The only way you can get away with PG-13 is if the movie is hilarious! This movie has nothing going for it!

The 3D is awful, yet again. Certainly not worth it.

The ending is terrible, predictable and actually rips off Piranha 3D's ending.

Anyway, there's absolutely nothing to enjoy or like Shark Night 3D. This isn't even worth watching on DVD. In fact, they just caught a 4-ft Great White and is on display over in Monterey. Go check that out instead.