Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The Tourist

The Tourist was promoted as an action, drama, romance, but after watching it, I came away thinking this movie was an excuse for Angelina Jolie to walk around exotic locations in Europe in slow motion in designer gowns. If you are into fashion, makeup, modeling, or glamor shots, then this movie may be appealing to you.

Johny Depp seemed like he had been sedated for his role in this movie. Unlike his amped up personality as Jack Sparrow, he now has all the excitement of a mashed potato sandwich on white bread. I'm not blaming him, I know that was what the role called for, but it's kind of hard to see him so sluggish and reserved.

Be prepared for lots of this.
And even more of this.

I'm not really complaining about all the glamor in this movie. It's tasteful and not slutty which is a nice change for Hollywood, but it takes more than pretty faces to make a movie (I hope you heard that Christopher Walken and Steve Buscemi). I also had higher expectations for this movie since Paul Bettany, Rufus Sewell, and Timothy Dalton all have supporting roles. Despite the talented cast and a surprise ending, I can only give The Tourist 6.5 stars.

Friday, May 27, 2011


To be honest, I've never been into comic books so accepting a superhero who's weapon is a magic hammer was an up hill battle for me. Thor was directed by Kenneth Branagh which surprised me but he actually did a good job of mixing  modern day earth with the mythical world of Asgard in the same movie. Despite the superhero aspect and special effects, it had some elements of a Shakespeare drama.

Chris Hemsworth gave a good performance as Thor who is banished to Earth by his father for his pride and arrogance. I had previously only seen him in Star Trek where he played George Kirk. I really liked Tom Hiddleston's performance as Thor's brother, Loki the trickster god. 

Natalie Portman seemed wasted in her role. Anyone could have played her character so it was kind of beneath her abilities. At least she didn't look like a little boy like she did in Mr.Magorium's Wonder Emporium. As usual Anthony Hopkins gave a great performance as Odin and reminds us why he is referred to as "Sir" Anthony Hopkins.

I give Thor 7.2 stars despite having a hard time with the whole Norse mythology superhero concept. It could have been higher if it weren't for the giant fire breathing robot that somehow made it's way into this movie.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Voyage of the Dawn Treader

I feel kind of guilty reviewing Voyage of the Dawn Treader since I did not give it my full attention. I watched this video with many distractions in the background, like game two of the Thunder and Mavericks series. I still got a feel for it and am willing to share some insights with you about the third installment of Narnia Movies.

I read the Narnia books when I was young, but I can't remember a thing about any of them now except LWW- (that's hip movie critic lingo for The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe). As a result, I can't complain about this movie not following the book. I know C.S. Lewis is a genius and uses all kinds of symbolism, but I was too tired to search for meaning while I watched this.

The biggest impression this movie made on me was that it was geared towards kids. Wasn't the mouthy rat with a sword the same character as Puss 'N Boots in Shrek minus the accent? I noticed there were some inconsistencies with the special effects. Some of them were great while others were only mediocre.

The cousin in this named Eustace is the most obnoxious kid I have ever seen in a movie and I'm talking Jar Jar Binks level of get on your nerves.

I give Voyage of the Dawn Treader 6.6 stars. I'm sure kids will enjoy it. I'm sorry for the half hearted review. I guess it's time to see a new release movie in the theater that I can get excited about.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Inside Job

Inside job is a documentary about Wall streets practices which brought about the 2008 stock market crash and financial crisis. This movie is narrated by Matt Damon and does a good job of explaining how lack of regulation in the banking, investing, real estate, insurance, and other industries brought about the recession.

It is very frustrating to see what some of these guys got away with. If a pick pocket steals $50, he will go to jail, but the slime balls featured in this documentary run businesses into the ground because their greed and dishonesty, which in turn affects other industries and causes a global depression. Instead of getting fired or going to jail, they get paid millions of dollars in tax free severance packages and bonuses and are appointed to presidential cabinets.

There are many scenes where financial "experts" and academic geniuses are being interviewed and questioned about their actions. It's amusing to see them stammer and stutter and avoid questions and flat out lie. This movie shows how corrupt our government is and how special interests and big money can influence our nations leaders regardless of what party is in power. I give Inside Job 7.8 stars. I highly recommend it, but you may walk away angry and frustrated.

Friday, May 13, 2011

If I Could Cast a Movie

If I could cast a movie I would probably still employ the same type cast actors we've been watching for years, but I'd put them in different roles for a change. We've been too conditioned over the years when we see the same actors in the same roles. This way we could really find out who can act.

No more mafia role for you!

Mafia guy-Robin Williams, Will Ferrel, Jim Carrey, or Steve Carell

The Good guy/hero- Christopher Walken, Christopher Lee, or Malcolm Mcdowell

The Villain-Harrison Ford, Bruce Willis, Tom Hanks, or Matt Damon

The Scientist-The Rock, Jason Stratham, Sylvester Stalone, or Vin Diesel

Comedy Relief Role-Anthony Hopkins, Robert Duvall, or Jack Nicholson

The President- Joe Pesci, Vincent Pastore, Al Pacino, or Ray Liota.

I'd probably let the key grip and lighting technician direct the the movie and make Steven Spielberg hold the boom mike during filming.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Waiting For Superman

I recently watched Waiting for Superman, which is a documentary that addresses the problems in the public education system in America.  It shows how many public schools are failing and how some parents attempt to get their kids into better public schools, charter schools, or private schools in order to get them a better education. Since there is an enrollment cap at the better schools, they end up having lotteries to determine the lucky few who will be able to attend them.

I believe teachers deserve to be rewarded better for the important service they provide, but it should be based on the results they get and not because of tenure. We should reward teachers like we do every other profession and pay the good ones more and pay the bad ones less. This movie highlighted the resistance that education reformers encountered from the teacher's unions when they attempted to remove bad teachers and reward outstanding ones.

On a side note, I'd like to challenge any film maker out there to make a documentary without including black and white footage from 50's movies or old newsreel footage. It 's starting to get old.

After watching this film, I came away feeling bad for kids in inner cities who have such horrible schools, but it also helped me realize that if someone wants a good education, it is really up to the individual and their parents more than it is the school boundaries they live in. That may sound like a cold hearted message for little kids, but it's a matter of one's desire to learn combined with taking the responsibility for one's education.

It looks like I just solved our nation's education problems. You are welcome. I give Waiting for Superman 7.1 stars.
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