Wednesday, May 9, 2012

This Week in DVD - May 9th

It's a new month, so that means some good movies right?  Once again, I didn't have much to watch last week, so I'm combining the last two weeks again.

Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked (2011)

Ugh...look, I know this is supposed to be a kids movie, but I think this series is trash.  It seems like all they do is take any opportunity to shoehorn a Chipmunk version of a bad pop song, even when it has nothing to do with the story.  In the context of the films, this is what they are famous for: Chipmunk karaoke.

Also, why are they hiring well known actors to voice the Chipmunks only to process the voices to the point where they can't be recognized?  Why not save a few bucks and just hire capable voice actors?

I love how nobody seems at all bothered or nonplussed by the fact there are talking chipmunks just casually walking around in plain sight.  Plus, how are the Chipmunks themselves always so unaware of their own surroundings?  This is the third movie and they still haven't learned how to act appropriately in public and acclimate to society?

The low point of this movie was when a group of sassy 'club rats' gets into a dance off with the Chipettes, which had to be one of the more embarrassing things I've ever seen in a movie.  It would be like picking a fight with children and with lots of people watching, but nobody going, "Hey, how immature are you?"

Anyway, they get stranded on an island, I don't recall that they were actually shipwrecked, so the title is kind of misleading and just a bad, forced pun.  The movie is so recycled that once on the island, they run into a character played by Jenny Slate, who has a family of balls she's talking to.  One of them is named 'Wilson'.  Yes, 'Wilson' as in Cast Away.  Really?  Did they think it was okay to rip off Cast Away because no kid would have seen it?  Why would you make a reference to a movie that no kid would have seen anyway?  There are many other (bad) jokes throughout the film that also don't make sense to include in a kids film as they wouldn't get the reference.  Did you do that for the poor parents that had to watch this?

Movies like this are why I generally don't review kids films when they are in the theater.  Pixar has shown that it's possible to make great 'kids' films that appeal to all audiences without pandering.

1 (out of 5) Death Star - I'm sure kids will like this and that's it.  It's a terrible movie even by those standards.

Hop (2011)

Poor James Marsden.  He really deserves better than this.  I'm serious, I think he's a talented guy that for some reason seems to get stuck making crap most of the time.  In Hop he stars as an unemployed slacker, so right away, he doesn't seem like someone that you're going to be able to get behind.  Plus, I also can't stand it when characters in a movie don't act like a normal human beings in situations that aren't unusual.

A young rabbit, named E.B., is next in line to succeed his father in the role of the Easter Bunny.  However, he decides it too much pressure and runs away to be a drummer.  The rabbit is voiced by Russell Brand, who's voice is like nails on a chalkboard for me. 

This movie features a huge pet peeve of mine, being a former, serious drummer.  I hate when you see someone drumming, and what you hear doesn't match what you see them doing.  Normally, it's a small thing here or there, but in Hop, he'll play drums and you hear sounds that don't even closely match for long stretches and then accompanying music joins him despite that he's playing by himself.

Anyway, E.B. and Marsden are thrown together and sent off on a series of silly events which lead to them becoming co-Easter Bunnies.  While you may this think is a spoiler, you are told in the opening moments of the movie that this is the story of how they became the Easter Bunny, so there.  

It's pretty boring and not very clever or funny.  However, I didn't think it was as annoying and insulting as I thought the Chipmunks was.  However, as with the Chipmunks, it's another movie featuring a talking animal where nobody seems to be bothered or surprised by it.

I will say the animation is pretty good, it's just too bad it wasn't used in a better movie.

1.5 (out of 5) Death Stars - Again, kids will enjoy it, but there's not much for adults to latch on to.

W.E. (2011)

Wow, what a mess!  This movie was almost as pretentious as the actual Madonna, who co-worte and directed this.  Just because you were married to a director, doesn't mean you can also direct.  This feels like unchecked ego bleeding into other areas.  Okay, enough Madonna hate for now...

W.E. mashes two unrelated stories together in such a rough fashion that initially I thought maybe I had hit the wrong button on the remote and skipped ahead in the movie.  It feels like you're starting in the middle and it took me a while to get what the hell was going on.

First, you have the story of Wallis Sampson, who's best known for marrying King Edward, which led to him giving up the throne, and that leads into the events of The King's Speech.  Unfortunately, we aren't watching The King's Speech today.  Intertwined with this, you have the story of Wally (Abbie Cornish), a bored housewife that's trying to get pregnant by her abusive, alcoholic husband (who's also cheating on her).  Yes, the two women in this movie are named Wallis and Wally.  Okay...

Why are these two stories mashed together when there's no actual link between the two women, other than having similar names?  Who knows?  Wally doesn't seem to be very happy in her marriage, so she becomes obsessed with Wallis and Edward's story and spends her time checking out an exhibit and auction for junk from their estate.  She just stares at their stuff and daydreams about them.  While this is happening, some douchey security guard continues to hit on Wally, even though he knows she's married and they have absolutely no chemistry together.  Eventually, Wally's marriage falls apart and she ends up with the douchey security guard, which only made sense because he actually paid attention to her for more than a minute.  It still seemed odd considering there didn't seem to be any actual attraction between them.

To make things even more confusing, Wally or Wallis would randomly show up in each others stories and actually have conversations with each other, like interactive ghosts.  There's all kind of weird, distracting things in the movie.  At one point Wallis dances in one of the flashback sequences, but a Sex Pistols song starts playing.  What the hell for?

The movie has some style and I thought the flashbacks of Wallis and Edward were actually done pretty well. In fact, Andrea Riseborough, who plays Wallis, was the strong point of the film.  The story telling is just too disjointed and the movie is pretty boring overall.  I'm also mad because it wastes Abbie Cornish, who's one of my Aussie girlfriends.

 1.5 (out of 5) Death Stars - I'm gonna say pass.  I just don't think there's enough here to recommend.

The Vow (2012)

A Nicholas Sparks-lite movie.  Even during the trailer they advertise it as staring Dear John's Channing Tatum and The Notebook's Rachel McAdams.  At least they know who your audience is and who to market it to.

The movie begins with the couple getting into a car accident.  Instead of pulling over, they simply stop on snow covered road at a stop sign and decide that it's a perfect time to have sex in the car.  You almost feel like they deserved to get rear ended.  Tatum then does voiceover about some nonsense about 'moments of impact', and Tatum is not an actor that should be doing voiceover in any movie.  He just doesn't articulate very well.  To illustrate one of the 'points of impact', they decide to show you a super slow motion shot of Rachel McAdams going through the windshield.  Why they felt that was necessary, I'll never know.  Then, to show how totally realistic these movies are, you see her in the hospital afterwards with just a few cuts on her face.

The movie flashes back to how they met as a super-annoying, hipster couple (Tatum wears what appears to be a wicker fedora when he meets McAdams, barf).  I already can't identify with these people.  They have their super-hispter wedding and tickle fights to try to show you how in love they are in a few minutes.  Anyway, she awakens from her coma not recognizing her husband and having no memory of the past several years of her life.  She still thinks she's in law school, rather then the artist she was, and still engaged to her former fiance, instead of married to Tatum.

The rest of the movie features a lot of melodrama about Tatum trying to spark McAdams memory and get them to fall in love again.  Even though she hasn't talked to them in years, McAdams family steps back into the picture to use the opportunity to bring her back into the fold.  Meanwhile, McAdams keeps running into her ex, still feeling the way she did about him years ago.  Her ex is a dick, too, and doesn't have any problem using the situation to his advantage.

The true story this is based off of is actually an interesting premise, but it's failed by the total lack of chemistry between McAdams and Tatum.  Plus, McAdams character post-accident is actually kind of unlikeable, which is kind of a shock for me, as Rachel McAdams is my girlfriend.  I actually felt for Tatum's character, but since Tatum can't act, it was hard to really care about what he was going through either.

In another unintentionally hilarious twist at the end, they show you a picture of the actual couple and they look nothing like the actors you just watched play them.  I guess nobody would like a romantic comedy featuring normal looking people.  Look I don't mean to make light of the actual tragedy these people went through, but I think the whole thing is kind of insulting.

2 (out of 5) Death Stars - This is only something I can recommend to either a rental for date night or people that like really melodramatic romantic dramas in the vein of other Nicholas Sparks films.

Movies recently out on DVD that I've already seen.

Haywire (2012)

This is one of my early picks for my top ten of the year, but I have a feeling it will get edged out of list pretty soon with so many other potentially good movies still on the horizon.

Former MMA fighter Gina Carano stars in this Steven Soderbergh directed film about a mercenary that's looking for payback after being setup on a botched job.  One way you could look at this movie is the girl from Hanna all grown up, but with a little bit of the Soderbergh, Oceans 11's flair thrown in.

One of the reasons I liked this so much was for the realistic fighting scenes and how it finally featured a strong female in a believable action role.  I hope Carano gets a chance to be in a few more films like this.

I gave it 4 Death Stars in my original review, and I'm sticking to that.  I highly recommend renting it.  I'm going to pick it up on Blu-Ray soon.

Underworld: Awakening (2012)

I enjoyed this probably more than it deserved.  I haven't been a big fan of the Underworld series, but I ended up liking this the best of all of them.  Also, I appreciated how it started with a recap of the previous films, so you didn't have to remember all the details of the previous films.

Don't get me wrong, it's far from a perfect film.  I wouldn't even actually call it a good film, but I found the over the top vampire vs werewolf action to be highly entertaining.  If you're a fan of the series, then I think you'll really like this one, too.

I actually saw this the same day that I saw Haywire.  Good day for action chicks!

I gave it 3 Death Stars the first time around.  It's a good rental.

Tim and Eric's Billion Dollar Movie (2012)

While there are a few funny moments, this was pretty awful.  If I hadn't seen a few funny sketches of theirs before watching this, I would have wondered how they even got a movie made, let alone why they have a fan following.

Having said that, the humor seemed like the kind of stuff I would have thought was hilarious back in Junior High or High School.

I initially gave this .5 Death Stars, but then bumped it up to a full Death Star after watching it a second time just to make sure I wasn't hating it because I was in a bad mood.  The second viewing didn't help much.

I can only recommend this to die hard Tim and Eric fans.  For anyone else, there's no reason to ever watch this.

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