Category Archives: Movies

MOVIE REVIEW: The Taking of Pelham 123, Ruined by Incredibly Dumb Moments. Michelle’s Review!

 Movie Review - The Taking of Pelham 123

 

In a year when every summer film has been directed by some bland, visionless studio hack like McG, it was great watching a movie that clearly had a style and vision to it.  At no point in “The Taking of Pelham 123,” you do not know that yes, this is a Tony Scott movie. All of his signature touches are here – the slow-quick motion edits, the fly in transitions, the map of the city with the text overlays it’s all here. Usually, I don’t like it when Directors insert themselves into the movie, but here it works.

For a movie written by a great screenwriter like Brian Helgeland, it’s filled with some draw droppingly bad moments. There were times when things got so stupid that I wanted to walk out, these moments kept taking me out of an otherwise thoroughly enjoyable movie.  It’s why I’m having so much trouble with this review, does the good make you forget the bad? Ultimately, yes, but wow the bad moments are really, really bad. Most of them center around New York City’s Mayor (James Gandolfini) and this idiot Girl whose boyfriend has a laptop on the train that happens to have the web cam turned on so everyone in the city can see what’s going on. I got the feeling she cared more about being an Internet star than her boyfriend, there’s this dumb moment when she’s begging her boyfriend to tell her he loves her when one of the Terrorist is right near the computer.

Continue reading MOVIE REVIEW: The Taking of Pelham 123, Ruined by Incredibly Dumb Moments. Michelle’s Review!

MOVIE REVIEW: Away We Go to a wonderful dramedy

Away We Go is a new film by Sam Mendes that tells the story of a couple who are expecting their first child.  Verona (Maya Rudolph) is an early 30’s artist who wanted to know if she is ready for the next step.  Burt (John Krasinski) is her boyfriend who can be a bit goofy but is always supportive of Verona.

One day, while meeting with Burt’s parents they found out that his parents are moving to Belgium for two years of the baby’s life. At first, Burt & Verona were distraught that his parents will not be in the baby’s life. However, Verona decide that they should leave their home and travel across the country to find the perfect place for their upcoming family. So, they packed up and headed to Phoenix, AZ; Madison, WI, and Montreal, Quebec . Along the way, they met up with old friends and relatives who can help them find their “home”. At various points in the film, Verona wonders if Burt and her have what it takes to become great parents and improve their lives before the baby arrives. Burt wonders why Verona will not marry him since he had always been by her side.

Away We Go is one of the best films I have seen this summer. The casting could not be better! Krasinski and Rudolph played their roles so well that soon-to-be parents can relate to the struggles and the triumphs that everyone may endure. Burt & Verona showed great chemistry throughout the film. It was like looking at a documentary of a young couple getting ready to become a happy family. I have to give praise to Allison Janney who plays Lillian, a former coworker of Verona who we meet in Phoenix. Lillian is so hilarious that she is funny and obnoxious at the same time. Lillian just steals the Phoenix scenes hands down when she talks about her kids and her husband Lowell (Jim Gaffigan) in the most embarassing way imaginable. Another scene stealing performance goes to Maggie Gyllenhal who plays LN (Yes you read the spelling correctly). LN is a professor at a University who is into the new age of things and is somehow against strollers.

Away We Go is a journey about adulthood and responsibility. It cleverly disguises itself within the movie. The way it did was done so well that it can speak to people. I have to give Kudos to Maya Rudolph. She has come a long way from her long stint on Saturday Night Live. To see her in the role of Verona allows us to see Maya in a dramatic role that’s fit to a T. Maya has found her starring vehicle as a dramatic actress. I proudly tip my hat to her outstanding performance. John Krasinski’s role as Burt was very good as well. Krasinski, know for his role in The Office, played Burt as this very suporrtive, often goofy, very friendly gentleman. If we keep seeing films like this, Hollywood won’t need all the hype. It just need a great story, wonderful casting and a brilliant director to blend it all together.

FINAL GRADE: A+

I will declare that Away We Go is the Sleeper Hit for Summer 2009!

EM Review by Dean Rogers

MOVIE REVIEW: The Taking of Pelham 123 Zips Right Along!

Though it’s a remake, The Taking of Pelham 123 has an intriguing pedigree. It’s written by Brian Helgeland [L.A. Confidential, Conspiracy Theory, and Mystic River among other things] and directed by Tony Scott [Top Gun, True Romance and Deja Vu – but also The Fan and Domino], whose career hasn’t been exactly hot of late. The Talking of Pelham 123 may make Scott an in demand director again and it certainly won’t hurt Helgeland’s career, either.

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It doesn’t seem like a particularly bad day for Walter Garber [Denzel Washington]. He’s running a section of dispatch for the New York City subway and things are going smoothly. We know that’s going to change because we see a series of quick cuts with determined looking men boarding a particular train – one of them is Ryder [John Travolta]. An unexpected moment of violence puts their plan into action a bit early, but it goes smoothly and the determined men take control of the train.

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MOVIE REVIEW: Murphy’s Newest Film Doesn’t Suck – Imagine That!

Imagine That is a better movie than either of Eddie Murphy’s last two live-action films [Meet Dave and Norbit]. That might seem like damning it with faint praise, but Imagine That is a relatively well written, decent little story that is not – as the trailer might have suggested – the Eddie Murphy version of Bedtime Stories. Instead, it’s a riff on the same tropes that gave Dwayne Johnson his first big hit in The Game Plan – in this case the workaholic father [Murphy] who only begins to bond with his daughter [Yara Shahidi] when her imaginary friends give him astoundingly accurate assessments of companies in which his clients might wish to invest.

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Evan Danielson [Murphy] is the investment executive dad and Olivia [Shahidi] is the imaginative daughter. To provide a little friction, Danielson has a competitor in the invest biz by the name of Johnny Whitefeather [a perfectly unctuous Thomas Hayden Church] who gussies up his investment strategies in quasi-Native American hoopla.

The script, by Ed Solomon and Chris Matheson, relies too heavily on the building animosity between Danielson and Whitefeather to be more than a pleasant diversion. Its saving grace is the chemistry between Murphy and Shahidi – and Murphy plays Danielson’s willingness to act silly to get investment advice from the imaginary friends with just enough looseness to suggest that, on some level, he really is beginning to bond with Olivia. The other performance worthy of note is Nicole Ari Parker, who plays Olivia’s mom, Trish, with the right amount of exasperation towards Danielson’s missteps and the right amount of protectiveness about her daughter’s feelings.

Imagine That is more than a little predictable, and it does stray too far from its emotional center on more than one occasion – but, unlike Norbit [which was just mean and ugly] and Meet Dave [which was just not funny], it does work when centered on father and daughter. Karey Kirkpatrick keeps things moving well enough that the Danielson/Whitefeather animosity zips by before it gets too far from the heart of the film – though a bit with Whitefeather’s son is pretty useless.

Overall, though, Imagine That is good enough to sit through once. Whether that one time is in a theater or at home when the DVD comes out is up to you.

Final Grade: C+

FIRST LOOK: Fierce Light – Spiritual Activism Behind Velcrow Ripper’s Thoughtful, Reflective Documentary

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Every now and then, I get to see unique films that may not reach all audiences at the same time. Usually, these are independent films – and occasionally, they are worthwhile, thought provoking documentaries like Velcrow Ripper’s Fierce Light: When Spirit Meets Action.

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MOVIE NEWS: Mickey Rourke as Whiplash in Iron Man 2 Revealed!

Iron Man 2 Mickey Rourke

The folks over at USA Today have scored this shot of Mickey Rourke in full on Whiplash gear on the set of Iron Man 2.  Here’s a link to their article. Whiplash (Mickey Rourke) sports a power pack on his chest that looks similar to the one that Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) uses.  In the comic book the whips are electrically powered whips that have enough of a charge where it can damage Iron-Man’s armor. Whiplash (Mickey Rourke) sports a power pack on his chest that looks similar to the one that Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) uses.  Here’s link to USA Today’s story.

MOVIE NEWS: Twilight: New Moon, Makes Movie Trailer History

Twilight: New Moon

You know, I think there might be some interest in this Twilight: New Moon movie. The movie trailer for Summit Entertainment’s THE TWILIGHT SAGA: NEW MOON received 10.6 million online views in its first week from the trailer’s domestic launch partners, MySpace and MTV.  The trailer views on MySpace set a new record for the site with a total of 4.2 million online views within the first 24 hours and a total of 7.8 million within the first seven days.  After being seen by 5.3 million viewers during its broadcast debut during the 2009 MTV Movie Awards, the trailer also received a total of 2.8 million online views on MTV.com within the first week.

The achievement is not only a record for MySpace, but also surpassed the views of the third and final trailer for the first film TWILIGHT, which received 3.2 million views in its first 48 hours online. THE TWILIGHT SAGA: NEW MOON starring Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson and Taylor Lautner, and directed by Chris Weitz will be released November 20, 2009.

MOVIE REVIEW: Here Comes Your Summer Hangover!

the-hangover-1If you’re familiar with the phrase, “What Happens in Vegas, Stays in Vegas?”, then this movie is right for you. Imagine that you are on the eve of getting married and your best friends treat you to a weekend in Sin City. You & your friends decided to get a suite at one of Vegas’s famous casinos. Then, you do a toast to celebrate your last night as a bachelor. Then the next morning, everything that can go wrong, has gone wrong. The hotel room is trashed beyond recognization. You’re sleeping on the floor. One of your friends is missing a tooth. A baby is in the closet. Finally, you found a bengal tiger in your bathroom.

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MOVIE REVIEW: Easy Virtue – Not Quite Vintage Coward But Entertaining Nonetheless!

Stephan Elliott’s adaptation of Noel Coward’s breezy comedy of manners, Easy Virtue [which he co-wrote with Sheridan Jobbins], is a bit of pleasant counter-programming to give anyone who is tired of explosions and rude comedies something smart and light in which to indulge themselves.

easy virtue poster

The story is centered on a battle of wits, and quips, between two women – one a tightly wound Englishwoman of the gentry trying to preserve the family property as the family fortune has withered away; the other a brash young American who makes a living racing cars – when she can get past the prejudice against female drivers. Veronica Whittaker [Kristin Scott-Thomas] is the heroically stiff upper-lipped woman who has pinned all of her hopes for saving the family estate on her son’s marrying into a wealthy family. Jessica Biel, in her best work since The Illusionist, is Larita Huntington, the brash American woman who arrives as the new wife of John Whittaker [Ben Barnes] – and destroyer of Veronica’s hopes.

Colin Firth co-stars as Veronica’s burnt out husband, Colonel Jim Whittaker, who has not been the same since he led men to theirs deaths in World War One, and spends most of his time in the barn puttering about. Charlotte Riley has the thankless task of playing the Sarah Hurst, the woman Veronica expected John to marry. There are also a couple of conniving but not terribly bright Whittaker sisters [Kimberly Nixon and Katherine Parkinson] and a subversively perceptive [and funny] butler, Furber [Kris Marshall], who steals scenes in the manner of the best British butlers.

Being Coward, naturally there is a scandal and a turn in tone, but Elliott does a nice job of keeping everything flowing just smoothly enough to keep our attention and return us from the momentary emotional glitch to a spot on ending that works out for the best for everyone – even though they might not realize it at the time.

Because the soundtrack includes a number of beautifully placed songs –mostly by Coward, and Cole Porter – I was surprised to note, in the closing credits [you bet I watch them!], that there were a few contemporary tunes mixed in and given period arrangements. They work just fine, too. Another reason to stay for the credits is the introduction of the Easy Virtue Orchestra [an affectation that adds a Radio Age feel to the film in retrospect].

Easy Virtue is an adequate adaptation of Coward, which makes it an above average film filled with wit and humor and just the right tinge of appropriately placed melancholy.

Final Grade: B

Review by Sheldon Wiebe

Posted June 6, 2009

MOVIE REVIEW: The Hangover – The Perfect R-Rated Summer Comedy!

If you’ve seen the ubiquitous trailer and TV spots for The Hangover, you’ve seen several of the movie’s high spots – tiger in the bathroom; am I missing a tooth; is that a baby; Mike Tyson air-drumming to Phil Collins – but, and you can trust me on this, they comprise the tip of the iceberg that is one weird, twisted and even trippy comedy.

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We’ve seen all these characters before – the nerdy dentist with the shrewish girlfriend; the inappropriate fat guy; the schoolteacher who’s about as mature as his students and yet happily married; the slightly uptight groom-to-be – but we’ve never seen them from quite this angle before.

The set up is so simple – three guys take a groom-to-be to Vegas for his bachelor party… a night to remember. Then, the three wake up with no memory of the previous night; their hotel suite… sorry, villa… is a shambles, and the groom is missing!

Beyond the clips in the trailer, anything I might want to use as an example of the high FQ [Funny Quotient!!!] of this film might spoil whole chains of events, so I’ll simply tell you that Todd Phillips, director of Old School, has found a terrific script [by John Lucas and Scott Moore] and done right by it.

Bradley Cooper [Phil, the schoolteacher], Ed Helms [Stu, the dentist] and Zack Galifinakis [Alan, the brother-in-law to be – and a bit of a savant] are in the best form of their respective careers. Somehow, they make these stereotypes both sympathetic and hysterically funny. Justin Bartha [Doug, the groom-to-be] is both a solid straight man/victim of circumstance and funny when the script demands it of him.

The extremely good supporting cast includes, among others, Jeffrey Tambor [the very knowing father-in-law-to-be], Sasha Baresse [Tracy, the bride-to-be], Rachel Harris [Melissa, the shrew], Heather Graham [Jade], and Ken Jeong [Mr. Chow]. The gags range from polite to “OMIGAWD!!! Did you see/hear that???” – and the set up is as funny as the rest of the movie. Stay for the credits – there is a montage that tells us exactly what happened in those hours that have, mercifully it turns out, been erased from the guys’ memories…

Final Grade: A

Eclipse Review by Sheldon Wiebe

Posted June 5, 2009

MOVIE REVIEW: The Hangover Keeps The Buzz Going

 

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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.
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