Friday, March 23, 2012

This Week in DVD - March 23rd

I've been lagging on my writing, but I'll get to why below.  Here's my recent recap of what I've seen in the past week.

Answers to Nothing

This was an absolute mess of a film that fails right out the gate by casting Dane Cook in a dramatic role.  I think casting Dane Cook in anything is an automatic fail, but a drama?  Sure there are examples of other 'comedians' succeeding in dramatic roles, but Cook hasn't even been funny in the comedies he's been in.

The movie actually opens with him cheating on his wife, who's patiently waiting for him at the doctor's office to donate sperm so she can b inseminated.  I'm not going to say exactly how, but Cook actually takes the sperm from this sex session to the doctor's with him.  So a really classy and likable character right off the bat.  The movie is all downhill from there.

This is another one of those movies that features a bunch of intertwined people and stories, except that it all felt weird and uncomfortable.  It seemed all very random and disjointed.  It's funny this was called Answers to Nothing as it ended up answering nothing and being about nothing.  Kudos!

.5 (out of 5) Death Stars - There's no reason to ever watch this.


This movie was kind of a shame for me because it was actually an interesting idea, but the execution was poor.  You have a couple, played by Cillian Murphy and Thandie Newton, staying in a isolated cabin on an island.  They find an unconscious person on the island and they take him into the cabin.  When the mysterious man comes to, he tells them that there's been an outbreak of an airborne disease, there's no cure, and they have to seal themselves in the cabin to prevent anyone from getting in or out.  As time goes on, the mysterious man begins to behave strangely, which ramps up the tension further.

Again, it's a good idea that would have worked much better as a one-off TV show, like a Twilight Zone episode.  Even though it's only about 90 minutes, it felt drawn out and took too long to get to the conclusion.  I felt like there's a lot that could have been edited out of this and it would have made the movie much more tense. 

Also, I didn't think there was any chemistry between Murphy and Newton.  They didn't seem like a married couple.  Also, some of the shots toward the end made me think they weren't quite sure how they wanted to end this movie or where they wanted to go with it.

It's not a bad movie, but flawed. This had the potential to be great with better pacing and maybe a different cast.

2.5 (out of 5) Death Stars - Not a bad rental if you're looking for a thriller to watch.

Year of the Carnivore (2009)

This is one of those weird, quirky films that probably won't be your cup of tea if don't like indie films.  It is about Sammy Smalls (Cristin Miloti) as a grocery store security guard.  Why she's a security guard makes no sense, as she's about 80 lbs.  Anyway, she's into this guy, but he rejects her because she doesn't have enough sexual experience.  This already doesn't make sense to me, as the guy didn't look like the type of guy that gets a lot of sex.  Plus, Sammy was attractive, so why not offer to help her out?  I don't see how lack of sexual experience is a deal breaker in this instance.

Anyway, in an effort to gain more sexual experience, Sammy spends the rest of the movie trying to get sex in very weird and unusual ways.  That also seemed weird to me, as if lack of experience was an issue, why suddenly go the complete opposite and start having sex with strangers in sometimes 'dangerous' situations?  There are much easier methods for a shy, inexperienced girl to get more sexual experience without doing things like taking a 50+ year old man she just met into the nearby woods and blowing him.  Yeah, she does stuff like that.

There's parts of this that made me laugh a little, especially when Will Sasso makes an appearance, but I thought overall I thought it was kind of absurd.  I didn't think it was a bad movie, but it just didn't connect with me.

2.5 (out of 5) Death Stars - Might be the type of movie that catches your attention if you saw it when channel surfing, but I wouldn't go out of your way to rent it.

Game of Thrones

And now we get to the reason I haven't had a lot of 'spare' time lately.  I finished watching the first season of Game of Thrones on Tuesday.  DAMN!  I really loved this from beginning to end!  It's a great story and interesting and well-developed characters.

The performances for the most part were all very good.  I can see why Peter Dinklage got all the awards that he did.  Every scene he was in was riveting to me.  I was really critical of Jason Momoa after watching Conan, but I thought he was great here.  Just goes to show you that sometimes an actor is only as good as the movie he's in.

While there is nudity and violence, it's not over the top or as cartoonish as something from the Spartacus series.  Don't get me wrong though, I love Spartacus.

It's rare when I buy a series on TV, finish it, and I'm already planning on watching again very soon.  I even want to watch the special features and listen to the commentary.  I'm hooked and I can't wait to see what they do in Season Two!

5 (out of) 5 Death Stars - I can't recommend it highly enough!

Also out this week:

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo

I really did enjoy this over the original, Swedish version.  I'm sure a lot of that is due to the fact I didn't have to read subtitles this time around.  Also, familiarity with the story from watching a different version probably made a second watch of this a little easier to get through.

I thought Rooney Mara was great! She really elevated herself to a actress to watch after her performance here.

Plus, it has one of the best opening title sequences in recent memory.  I don't understand why Trent Reznor didn't get a Oscar nomination for his work.  I don't care if he won last year for The Social Network.  People win awards in back to back years all the time.

Anyway, you can read more in my original review here.

4 (out of 5) Death Stars - I only gave this 4?  Not 4.5?  Weird.  Maybe I need to watch it again.  I plan on buying it anyway.

Tinker, Taylor, Soldier, Spy

This movie also kind of bummed me out.  I was really looking forward to a cerebral spy film and it had such a great cast.  It ended up being kind of boring though.  I wrote in my original review that outside of the cast, there was nothing to really grab me or keep my interest.  There's just too much going on in the story to try to tell this in a single movie.  It's easy to understand why this was originally a mini-series.

I think the problem I had with the movie was that when you have a slower paced, character-driven, spy drama, a two hour movie isn't going to allow for the character development needed to make people care about the (many) characters in the story.  When you reach the conclusion, there was no impact.  It was just like, "Okay.  I guess I can go home now."  I liked the parts with Tom Hardy and Mark Strong the best.  Gary Oldman is great.

Based on the positive reviews on, I thought it was really overrated and actually kind of of forgettable.

3 (out of 5) Death Stars - It's a good rental, but be prepared for a slower paced movie.

The Muppets

This I really enjoyed and loved the nostalgic feelings it invoked.  I was just about to jump on the 'I'm getting tired of Jason Segel' bandwagon, but he scored extra points for not only bringing the Muppets back, but actually making a good movie.

I wrote in my review, that it almost made my tear up at the end.  It really affected me.

This also features the Academy Award winning song "Man or Muppet", written by Flight of the Conchords member, Bret McKenzie.  My 4-year-old nephew loves that song!

Looks like this was another movie I reviewed before I started giving Death Stars.  I'll give this 4 (out of 5) Death Stars.  A great family film that old and young can enjoy together.  I wouldn't hesitate to buy it if you're thinking about it.

The Sitter

This is a movie that had an opportunity to be really funny, but ended up being a very sloppy and lazy comedy that attempts to be an update of Adventures in Babysitting.

This was one of the movies that made me start to get tired of Jonah Hill.  He won me back with 21 Jump Street though.  They just don't do anything new here and I felt the movie's tone was uneven from beginning to end.

In my original review, I criticized the movie for lacking consistency across the board and that seems like a pretty good assessment still.

The only significant thing for me is that this is the first movie where I introduced my Death Star rating system.  What a weird movie to start with.  What a shame.  I gave it 2 (out of 5) Death Stars originally, and I'll stick by that.

This is something to catch on streaming or on cable, but don't go out of your way to rent it.

That's it for this week folks!  I should have reviews up for The Hunger Games and Salmon Fishing in the Yemen up this weekend.

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