By now you may have heard a rumbling about a rather small film called District 9. If you haven’t seen the movie as of yet, you probably don’t know much about its plot, or even who is in it, but you’ve probably heard something good about it from other critics. But here’s the real secret- the reason why everyone keeps raving about District 9 is because they knew nothing about it going in and it was the fun of being surprised that won them over. And if you’re even remotely interested in seeing this film after this review, you’ll do yourself the favor of reading or hearing as little as possible about it before the lights go down.
The story of two Neanderthal-like men, who stumble and bumble away from their village and through a series of famous early Biblical stories, makes up the so-called plot of Year One. On paper I could see how a studio executive greenlit this project especially since Harold Ramis, writer of Caddyshack and Animal House, was at the helm. However if any movie yet to be released in 2009 is worse than Year One, I’ll be shocked.
Two friends and one soon to be brother-in-law decide to take their pal out for his bachelor party in illustrious Las Vegas two days before the wedding. Upon waking up the morning after, the hotel suite they stayed in is trashed, a few unexpected houseguests appear, the groom is missing, and no one can remember a thing.
I’m very happy to see the return of the R-rated, smart comedies. I’ve enjoyed movies like Wedding Crashers, Role Models, Old School, etc., and for fans of those films, The Hangover will most likely one day find a spot in your collection right next to them.
It’s been thirteen years since the Pulitzer Prize winning rock musical Rent took Broadway by storm. Jonathan Larson’s masterpiece exploring then-taboo themes interlaced with Puccini’s La Boheme was an instant success for its well-crafted songs, diverse and complex characters and powerful messages about a bunch of artists in New York dealing with life, death and relationships. In 2009, Rent is seeing resurgence as original Broadway (and film) performers, Adam Pascal and Anthony Rapp, Roger and Mark respectively, take the show on the road.
Up, Pixar’s 10th animated outing to date, stars Carl, an elderly gentleman voiced perfectly by Ed Asner. Now that Carl has gotten up in years, he decides that he should undergo one last great adventure- the one he’s always dreamed of but never ventured on. So he rigs up his house with balloons and sails away unaware that Russell, a local boy-scout-esque character, has joined him for the ride.
Within the first four minutes of Up, there’s no question you will be emotionally invested. Pixar always does such a good job of enabling its audiences to feel and empathize with its characters, and this is no exception. By the time Carl’s montage showcasing his life has concluded and you are brought up to speed, you will understand his every action and be rooting for him for the remainder of the movie.
A few years following Larry Daley’s (Ben Stiller) first adventure as night watchman in New York City’s Museum of Natural History, Daley discovers that his friends, the exhibits which come to life, are now being shipped to the Smithsonian museums in Washington, D.C. Upon arrival however, Daley’s old compatriots now find themselves battling against a whole slew of new, evil exhibits bent on conquering the world.
When the first Night at the Museum was released, I thought it looked a little silly to even be fun. Eventually when I rented it, I was pleasantly surprised by its charm. Battle of the Smithsonian definitely continues in this tradition and if anything, takes the creativity to new enjoyable places.
By the year 2018, the war between man and machines will be full throttle (no McG pun intended). As the humans band together and form the resistance, one of their foremost leaders is John Connor, a man who has been fighting in this war since before he was born. This is where Terminator Salvation, the fourth installment of the franchise, launches from.
The reviews for this movie are going to be incredibly polarized. Some are going to enjoy it immensely while others will decry it for ruining James Cameron’s science fiction classics. I’ve already an amazing amount of articles saying it’s the worst movie ever, and others that talk about how well crafted it is.
Hollywood has come to Washington D.C., as Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian, the sequel to the 2006 family hit movie debuts in the museum’s backyard. Since most of the action takes place in and around the famed exhibits surrounding the National Mall, the cast and crew decided to come promote the film by holding a press conference in the Smithsonian Castle.
Sitting before me was a star-studded lineup including: Ben Stiller, Amy Adams, Owen Wilson, Robin Williams, Rick Gervais, Hank Azaria, director Shawn Levy and writers Robert Ben Garant and Thomas Lennon.
Stiller started things off by talking a little bit about his character of Larry, and how it felt like the right time to revisit the series. He mentioned how Larry is no longer really happy in his life, and he finds himself needing that bit of adventure back, which is what launches the story.
Angels and Demons, set some time after Ron Howard’s previous adaptation The Da Vinci Code, finds Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon being summoned to The Vatican in order to help them with an impending crisis. As a new pope is set to be elected, a mysterious organization known as the Illuminati, an old villain to the Catholic Church, threatens to eradicate the holy city and everyone in it by using an unstable substance with bomb-like properties.
When speaking about this movie, I seem to always get the same basic opening question- is it better than The Da Vinci Code? The short answer is yes. Ron Howard has done a much better job on this venture of trimming the fat from the novel and leaving the audience with a far more engaging movie than the first film. Fans of the book should be rest assured that some of the more preposterous events have been wisely omitted. Hanks also fares better by showing much more confidence and comfort in his role as Langdon, which I’m sure is aided partly by a much deserved upgrade in his hairstyle.
When J.J. Abrams (creator of Lost) announced that he’d be taking up the reigns of the famed Star Trek franchise with a reboot showcasing the original characters, there was a universal mix from future audiences made up of about 50% excitement and 50% trepidation. If you were in the worried category, let me put your fears to rest. Star Trek is amazing.
I should start with this- the 2009 Star Trek film does not demand in any way that you know anything about the previous films or the universe in general. That being said, if you are familiar with the characters, their quirks and a little bit about their history (specifically plot points and dialogue from the second movie, Wrath of Khan), this experience is going to be all the more gratifying and fun.
Tyson, by writer and director James Toback, takes an honest and insightful look at Mike Tyson’s triumphs and battles throughout his life both in and out of the boxing ring, narrated by the former fighter himself.
Toback has been a lifelong friend to Mike Tyson, and you can almost feel the heart of that friendship in every frame of this feature. This is not because he has chosen to portray a controversial figure in a biased positive light, but rather because he allows his subject to express himself, and in his own way, directs the audience to listen. Toback never judges or spins, but his part of the deal is that in return, no subject is off-limits to be discussed and explained through Tyson’s own words regarding his turbulent history.
The end result is a fascinating tale. Tyson is a lean 90 minutes long, but in it, you’ll hear deep personal reflections from the former heavyweight champion’s about almost every aspect of his life. If anything, Tyson delivers on giving the audience a very private perspective on a very public individual.
If I have a complaint about the film, it’s one I’m wavering on. I wish that I could recommend this movie for everyone to see, but what prevents from doing that is some of the very graphic language used in the film. The reason I waiver is because while it’s crude and may make some people uncomfortable, his language choices are part of his character and so to omit them, or edit him, would take away from fascinating nature of the movie.
What’s most interesting about this documentary is that regardless of what your view is of Mike Tyson- love him, hate him, or don’t know enough to care- your perception of him after the movie will probably be changed from what it was going in. I think I have to recommend this film to most audiences, just on the basis of intrigue and success in portraying an interesting man in a light not yet before seen.
Final Grade A
By Christopher Troilo
Originally Posted 5.07.2009