Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Another Year of Reviews Oct 26

It has been three years since I started this blog so it's time to celebrate with my annual summary of movies and videos that I have reviewed over the past year.

I think it's helpful to see how these movies do when ranked in relation to each other. In case you missed it, here are my ranking for the movies I saw over the last 12 months

True Grit  9.0
Harry Potter part 2  8.5
Warrior  8.4
Limitless  8.2
Harry Potter part 1  8.0
Rise of the Planet of the Apes 7.9
The Next Three Days  7.8
Inside Job  7.8
Source Code  7.7
Ghost Writer  7.7
Hereafter  7.6
X-Men First Class  7.6
The Social Network  7.5
The Adjustment Bureau  7.4
Captain America  7.4
RED  7.4
Megamind  7.4
Fast 5  7.3
Unknown  7.3
Unstoppable  7.3
Get Low  7.3
Tron Legacy  7.2
Super 8  7.2
Hanna  7.2
Thor  7.2
Devil  7.1
Waiting for Superman  7.1
Killer  7.0
Sucker Punch  6.9
Of God and Men  6.9
Battle: Los Angeles  6.8
Pirates 4  6.8
Cowboys and Aliens  6.7
The Eagle  6.7
Fair Game  6.7
Diary of a Wimpy Kid 2  6.6
Voyage of the Dawn Treader  6.6
Armored  6.6
Priest  6.5
The Tourist  6.5
The Lovely Bones  6.5
I am Number 4  6.4
The Green Hornet  6.3
Ondine  6.3
Just Go With it  6.2
Grown Ups  5.9
Takers  5.9
Season of the Witch  5.8
The Bounty Hunter  5.8
Jonah Hex  5.4
Skyline  5.0
The Last Airbender  4.7

Some people may disagree with me on how I ranked some of these movies, but taking a stand and making hard judgement calls is all part of being an incredibly successful and sought after movie critic. Now that I have three years of experience, I am qualified for speaking engagements or at least coming to your child's birthday party dressed as a clown.

Saturday, October 22, 2011


I knew that Priest was going to be a bad movie, but for some reason, I still wanted to see it. It's kind of like when someone tells you to smell a gross couch cushion and you know better, but you still do it. Even though it was not very good, I was still entertained by it..

Priest is about a post apocalyptic society that is plagued by vampires. The church, which is the ruling authority, commissioned warrior priests (kind of like Jedi knights) who are gifted in martial arts and are able to kill the vampires. After years of war they believed they had been eradicated. The priests were then disbanded and no longer useful to society. Several years later, the vampire threat returns and one renegade priest played by Paul Bettany disobeys the church's command to remain in the city and he heads out to rescue his niece who was recently kidnapped by vampires.

The worst thing about this movie was the opening explanation that set the story up. It was an animated summary and was completely laughable. It looked more like Itchy and Scratchy than a serious movie. My kids came in during that part and were laughing uncontrollably because it was so funny.

The term vampire in this movie refers to eyeless CGI monsters that look more like aliens than people. Karl Urban plays an ex-priest who was infected by the queen vampire and as a result becomes a human vampire hybrid. He spends most of the movie dressed like he is trying to imitate Clint Eastwood in one of his spaghetti westerns.

Christopher Plummer has a convincing role as he plays the stubborn church leader who refuses to accept the fact that the vampires have returned. The movie never really explains his motivation for his stance which leaves you wondering if he was in alliance with the vampires. The ending is resolved by the good guys simply jumping off a speeding train full of vampires before it explodes.

The critics were right in giving this movie poor ratings, but despite the low marks, there was still some cool stuff in it and I have to admit that I enjoyed some aspects of  it. I give it 6.5 generous stars.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Rise of the Planet of the Apes

I finally got around to seeing Rise of the Planet of the Apes. I wasn't really expecting much from another remake, especially after Tim Burton's attempt, but this ended up being more of a prequel and it was surprisingly entertaining. I thought I knew what to expect after watching the trailer, but there was much more to this movie than I anticipated

The movie is about a scientist working on a drug to help Alzheimer patients. It is tested on apes and makes them more intelligent but ends up being deadly for humans. Over time, we see the main character grow from a baby ape to a full grown primate with human intelligence.

James Franco and John Lithgow are not my favorite actors, but I liked their performances in this movie. Andy Serkis has continued the trend of taking on roles that require him to hunch over in a motion capture suit like he did as King Kong and Gollum. He did a great job of playing Caesar, the main ape.

The special effects were amazing and CGI has sure gotten better over time. I remember how fake and boxy the animals looked in Jumanji, but I was impressed with the effects in this movie, but I was even more impressed with the emotions that the CGI characters were able to convey to the audience.

As usual, Brian Cox is a bad guy and speaking of soon to be type cast actors, Tom Felton (Draco Malfoy) is following in his footsteps. This installment pays homage to the original with several quotes and character names. For an unrealistic premise and far fetched story, this was still quite convincing and much better than I expected.

The biggest lesson I learned from watching this movie is that disobeying company protocol can result in the annihilation of the human race. (I will no longer check my e-mail during work). I give Rise of the Planet of the Apes 7.9 stars.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Re- Releasing Movies

What's up with releasing a movie in the theaters that has already been on video for over 10 years? I can understand when George Lucas did it with the digitally enhanced Star Wars movies. It was kind of fun watching for the additional CGI features, but I just don't get the appeal for most other movies.

I recently noticed that The Lion King is in theaters again. I think it's because it is being released in 3D or maybe there is a new auto tuned version of Elton John's theme song for the movie. I don't know, but I just don't get the appeal of paying good money for a movie that you probably already own on video.

I can see how a cult classic might be an exception for fans to get together in a theater and watch it but I just don't think most people are willing to fork out new release money for an old movie. I have a feeling Disney knows something I don't and they are probably laughing all the way to the bank.

Besides The Lion King, I have also seen this happen for Toy Story and ET. It also appears that Ghostbusters is going to be re-released which means we will have to put up with another generation of kids using the lame "ghost busters" joke answer when people ask them who they are going to call.

Maybe some day they will re-release The Grapes of Wrath, Judgement at Nuremberg, and 12 Angry Men in 3D. If you want to take your kids to The Lion King it at the theater, then go ahead, but I will not pay full movie price for a movie in the theaters unless it is a "real" new release.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Is It Just Me...

Is it just me, or does anyone else think Antonio Banderas kind of looks like a young Sean Connery in the poster for his new movie The Skin I Live In?

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Season of the Witch

Season of the Witch is about two nights played by Nicholas Cage and Ron Perlman who are fighting in the Crusades. They become disenchanted with the war after years of slaughtering their enemy and become deserters. They return to their homeland only to learn that the land is cursed with a plague. They are put in charge of escorting a witch (a young girl who they blame for the plague) to a church monastary where she will be given a trial and most likely killed.

I suffer from Nicholas Cage anxiety because I never know which Nicholas Cage would show up for a movie. This movie started off on a negative note for me as the two main characters joke like Gimli and Legolas about who will kill more enemies in battle. The dialogue was unbelievable and what I mean by that is that there was absolutely no credibility since they spoke as if it were a modern day movie. There is some suspense since we are not sure if the girl is really a witch or an innocent victim but it is not enough to carry the movie.

I started to doze off at the end of the movie and when I came to my senses I was surprised to see them fighting a giant CGI demon which didn't help the movie either. I give Season of the Witch 5.8 stars which I feel is generous. I liked the idea behind it and it could have been a suspenseful story, but it was not very convincing. If you want entertainment from the middle ages, I'd suggest Cadfael from the BBC. There may not be much action but you will at least have good acting, decent accents, a plot, and a more authentic feel for the that period.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Sucker Punch

Sucker Punch is about a girl who's abusive stepfather commits her to an insane asylum. (Apparently an institution that only accepts beautiful young girls). Those running the asylum exploit the patients and have turned it into a night club/brothel. The main character, who is played by Emily Browning, plans to escape along with 4 other girls. The film goes back and forth between the mental institution and a parallel fantasy/sci- fi world as they undergo several missions in an attempt to escape their captors. Sucker Punch has elements of The Matrix, Wizard of Oz, Charlies Angels, and Scott Pilgrim vs.The World.

Once again I am really torn about a movie. There were things I liked and disliked. Let's start with the bad news first and finish up with the positive.

The Negative

I felt kind of awkward watching girls named Baby Doll, Sweet Pea, and Blondie wearing skimpy school girl uniforms.

There were too many dramatic poses each time the girls jumped and landed on the ground during the fight scenes ala Trinity.

Maybe I'm a little slow, but I couldn't figure out how much of the movie was supposed to be real, especially at the asylum vs. her imagination.

If you give someone a lobotomy with an ice pick and hammer, wouldn't there be some bleeding of the eyes or nose as a result?

The Positive

The visuals were incredible, and I'm not talking about the girls. Even if you hate this movie you will still be impressed with many of the visual effects. This movie was directed by Zack Snyder who is known for 300 and Watchmen so if you like his style, then you will probably be entertained.

I liked the dirty greenish tint and old 50's look the asylum had and really liked the scenes when they fought the World War 1 zombies.

I really liked the performance by Oscar Isaac as the bad guy. I also thought he did a great job as the villain in Robin Hood last year.

This movie probably appeals to teenage boys more than anyone since it includes, action, sci.-fi, fantasy, and features girls in skimpy outfits. As a result, I'm sure many will write this movie off as being superficial eye candy. I give Sucker Punch 6.9 stars which may be kind of high, but the special effects were amazing and I felt it was very original even though it may have borrowed some components of other movies. I predict it will have a much better reception on video and over time than it originally did in the theaters.
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