Category Archives: Movies

MOVIE REVIEW: The International, Michelle’s Take

MOVIE REVIEW: The International

The International is one of those films that I really don’t have much to say about it’s the very definition of Hollywood bland. The trailers for the film had me excited to see it. I mean it was an action film staring Clive Owen, what’s not to like? Well, for starters there’s something about Clive Owen. I’m not sure if I particularly like him as an actor. He’s definitely interesting, picks good films and has a strong presence, but it always seems like he’s sleepwalking through his part and is too interested in being and looking cool than actually, you know, acting and emoting. Does every Owen film have to start off with a close up of him just staring blankly at the camera?  In this age where we all loathe financial institutions and the executives who run them, I’m ready to buy into the central conceit that bankers are E.V.I.L. bastards who will kill, make arms deals, and do whatever it takes to make a buck. But the problem is, the film takes a long time before it finally establishes your evil cabal of executives at the IBBC bank. By the time we finally see these Execs. So for the first 45 minutes it’s “this bank is evil,” it’s hard to develop an connection to a non-entity.

This bank is so big and evil that they have a hired Consultant (Brian F. O’Byrne) who handles all of the Bank’s problems which is currently the pesky New York District Attorney, Eleanor Whitman (Naomi Watts) who is working with French Agent Louis Salinger (Owen) to bring down the bank. The problem is the Italian and French authorities aren’t being particularly helpful and one helps in an assassination of a political figure. The film jets around from to various locals including Berlin, Paris (I think), Italy and New York and every place they went looked the same – gray, grim, no colors, this is one of the blandest looking films I’ve seen in a long time – well, since I saw Push the day before this screening. There’s no chemistry between Owen and Watts, although I do like that their characters did not have a romantic involvement.

The characters are so disconnected from each other that by the end of the film when Salinger finally confronts one of the Bank Executives, the guy’s response was “Who the heck are you and why are you angry with me?” After seeing Taken as part of my double feature day, it was strange going from a film where you actually care about the characters to this. Every time they try and interject some danger element for the bankers – “Oh, if we don’t do this arms deal, we’re going to go under”,  was laughable considering the real world economic situation with the Fed Government bailing out all of these crooks. The film’s ending was one of the worst, most anti-climatic endings I’ve seen in years. This is beyond the head banker not knowing who Salinger was or why he was upset. Stay away from this, it’s not even mindless entertainment because there are moments when it requires to actually pay attention and think. When I did I realized how utterly stupid this movie is.

Final Grade D

EM Review by
Michelle Alexandria
Originally Posted 02.13.09

MOVIE REVIEW: Friday the 13, A Smoking Good Time, Michelle’s Look

Movie Review: Friday The 13th, Michelle's Review

Every time I review a horror film, I start off by saying how much I hate the genre, that I don’t get the fascination people have then I go on to say how much I was surprised by how much I enjoyed the cheesiness of – insert film name here. So maybe it’s time I admit that yeah, I kind of like the genre.  There’s something pure about it, these films aren’t trying to break conventions, or be original or creative, as a general rule a good horror film knows what it wants to be, adheres to the rules and delivers exactly what you would expect from whatever franchise you happen to be watching.  In this case we’re talking about the brand new remake of Friday the 13th.  Before the screening I got into this conversation with a woman about how religion is treated in films and I’m sitting there thinking to myself a) I hate talking about religion, go away and b) why are you here, if you are so offended by how religion is treated in films?  I told her she was at the wrong film then, no response. So to gracefully exit the conversation I whipped out my Kindle and started to read. Subject change accomplished.  There’s a point to this meander, which I failed the make to this women – horror films punish all the sinners. Only virginal, non-drinking, non-cussing, non-taking the lord’s name in vain girl survives.

This new remake is a Michael Bay production (Producer) so at the very least I wasn’t surprised by the overly good production values of the movie.  It, weirdly, both detracted from the horror experience and enhanced it by making everything seem so “realistic” looking. This is because a large portion of the film took place during the day, so the grass was green and fresh, when Jared Padalecki (Clay Miller) was riding his motorcycle through the corn fields I was thinking, “why am I seeing decent looking corn fields in a Friday the 13th movie?” One question this film finally answered was, why the heck people continue to come to Crystal Lake. It’s for it’s overabundance of awesome weed. The place is flowing with it, only problem is, you touch Jason’s stash and that’s your ass. So I think this movie is a message movie – stay away from hash and it can finally be said, put a black person in a horror film and they’ll act just as dumb as white people.   Continue reading MOVIE REVIEW: Friday the 13, A Smoking Good Time, Michelle’s Look

MOVIES: Sleek, Stylish and Slightly Skeevey, Taken Delivers The Goods!

A retired spy’s daughter is kidnapped to be sold as a sex slave [the slightly skeevey part]. The ex-spy hunts the men who kidnapped her. As premises go, this one is simple, direct and a bit odd to find in a PG-13 film – but we are talking about a Luc Besson production, so maybe it’s not really a surprise.

Taken - Neeson

What is a surprise is that Taken, co-written by Besson [Leon, The Professional and The Fifth Element] and Robert Mark Kamen [The Karate Kid, The Transporter], and directed by Pierre Morel [District B13], is better than the premise suggests. This mostly because it takes a bit of time to establish that our protagonist, Bryan Mills [Liam Neeson] has retired because he wants to reconnect with his daughter, Kim [Maggie Grace]. We believe him because we see how disappointed he is when her mother, Lenore [Famke Janssen] and step-father, Stuart [Xander Berkley] upstage him at her birthday party [he brings her an expensive karaoke machine, but Stuart gives her a horse].

When she and her mother persuade him to sign a waiver allowing Kim to go to Paris, his warnings of danger fall on deaf ears and – sure enough – she and her friend are kidnapped. Then comes the phone conversation we saw in the trailer – followed by Mills taking action. Although Neeson is not a small guy, he does a good job of making himself seem ordinary as he begins tracking down the kidnappers, but once he swings into action, he becomes a force of nature.

Morel keeps the action up front and his pacing builds as Mills works himself up the chain of command – starting with the spotter who set up Kim and her friend. The usual ingredients of a Besson production are here – fights, chases, explosions – but because we buy into Mills as a father, there is a little more gravity, a little more at stake than usual.

Taken is entertaining but, ultimately, reliant on one performance. If you buy Neeson as Mills, then you’ll enjoy the movie. If not, you won’t. I did.

Final Grade: B-

MOVIES: The Best & Worst of 2008!

slumdogmillionaire

For this year’s best and worst list I am going to follow the example set, this year, by legendary critic Roger Ebert, who decided not to rank his favorite films of the year. Instead, he listed the twenty films he most enjoyed in alphabetical order. It’s a really good idea – so, here are my favorite fifteen films of 2008…

Continue reading MOVIES: The Best & Worst of 2008!

MOVIE NEWS: The Oscar Nominations Are In! What a Boring, Safe, Crop…

The Oscars have been announced and I can without a doubt tell you, I don’t care. Sure, I’m doing the obligatory blog post about it. I may try and do a commentary on this, but this year’s Oscar campaign was so lackluster and nothing on this list is either outrageously good or bad, just middle of the road safe choices.  I will say are they kidding me? Frost/Nixon as Best Picture? That movie was barely watchable, I turned the screener off 40 minutes into it and would have walked out of the theater if I saw it there. The problem is, yes, I know Frank Langella wasn’t trying to “impersonate” Nixon, but come-on, couldn’t they have at least tried to hire someone who resembled him, just a LITTLE bit? The casting was HORRIBLE, and I don’t get why people are praising his performance.

The same goes for Anne Hathaway, I love her, but she’s annoying as hell in Rachel Getting Married – and again, I realize that’s the point of her character and the movie. It felt like being trapped at your best friend’s house and being forced to sit through their crappy, grainy, poorly shot wedding video. Ok, I was wrong, I can work up some snark about this year’s nominations. So I’ll post that this weekend.  For now here’s the list, comment if you wan.

BEST PICTURE

  • The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
  • Frost/Nixon
  • Milk
  • The Reader
  • Slumdog Millionaire

Continue reading MOVIE NEWS: The Oscar Nominations Are In! What a Boring, Safe, Crop…

Movies: My Bloody Valentine 2009: A Commentary on 3-D vs 2-D

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He’s gonna break your heart.

Several people have already written some excellent reviews of this movie for EclipseMagazine so this is going to be mostly a commentary on the movie that will be mainly focused on the 3-D version vs the 2-D version with some comparisons to the 1981 My Bloody Valentine. Some of the content will be of a reviewer’s nature however.

I know that with the advances in the way a 3:D movie is formatted – to quote Jensen Ackles ‘this isn’t your grandma’s 3-D – and that the movie industry is ready to embrace this new technology, I am going to be right up front about this, having seen both versions of the new, updated My Bloody Valentine movie I have to say that I personally think that the 2-D version is better than the 3-D version when it comes to telling the story and seeing how good a job the actors really did in this movie. I also know that the executives at Lionsgate, the producers of the movie and the actors are all gung ho about the 3-D special effects for My Bloody Valentine. However to me as a viewer, no matter how technologically advanced and super whiz-bang as they are in this movie the 3-D aspect  just -and no pun intended- strips the heart out of the story and reduces the movie to nothing more than a series of fancy visual effects,

This is not to say I didn’t have an appreciation of the new 3-D technology employed in the 3-D version of My Bloody Valentine and I certainly like the new style of 3-D glasses (and yes I kept mine because I consider them paid for with the ticket price). I thought the technology was awesome and visually stunning. I jumped and cringed at all right moments. I appreciated how the 3-D effect brought out textures and depth to the scenes and especially to the visual presence of the actors on screen.

Continue reading Movies: My Bloody Valentine 2009: A Commentary on 3-D vs 2-D

MOVIE REVIEW: My Bloody Valentine 3D — Pleasantly surprised

The tag line for My Bloody Valentine: 3D proclaims: Nothing says date-movie like a 3D ride to hell. You really have to hand it to a horror/slasher film that has the guts to bill itself as a date movie! At least that’s one way to get more ladies into the theater. The other is to hire the handsome and charismatic Jensen Ackles as one of your stars. Good looks aside, ask any fan of The CW’s cult hit Supernatural and they will quickly expound this man’s acting talents as well. And we must not forget about Kerr Smith who provides a double dose of the good looks plus acting ability of his own. If the boyfriends attending this date movie can enjoy Jaime (King) and Betsy (Rue), then the girlfriends can certainly enjoy Ackles and Smith!

Let’s be very clear, I do not consider myself a great fan of horror movies, especially the ‘slashers’ whose sole purpose is to dole out as much blood, gore, nudity, and sex as possible, while the body count increases exponentially. Too often, these slashers even have the audacity to actually call what they are presenting as ‘storytelling’. I am much more intrigued by terror and fear delivered through suspense and mystery. This isn’t to say that horror films can’t be a cut above the rest, as proven early on by the likes of Halloween.

Continue reading MOVIE REVIEW: My Bloody Valentine 3D — Pleasantly surprised

MOVIE REVIEW: Hotel For Dogs: Undemanding Fun

The trailers for Hotel For Dogs make much of the Rube Goldberg devices that are created for the titular hotel and, in truth, they are pretty amazing. The film is not nearly as much fun, but it does have its good points.

hotelfordogs

Andi [Emma Roberts] and her little brother, Bruce [Jake T. Austin] are foster kids who have adopted a stray dog they’ve named Friday. Their latest foster parents, Lois [Lisa Kudrow] and Carl [Matt Dillon] are obnoxious, and talentless, would be rock stars who have a no pets policy. In trying to find ways to keep Friday with them, yet unseen by Lois and Carl, they have gone to extraordinary lengths – which take them into a closed down hotel, where they find two dogs, that Bruce names Lenny and Georgia. Before long, Andi and Bruce are being helped by a pair of pet store employees named Dave [Johnny Simmons] and Heather [Kyla Pratt] as they turn the place into a hotel for dogs. Along the way, a guy named Mark [Troy Gentile] joins the band, maybe because chunky kids are funny… or something.

The Rube Goldberg devices in all those trailers? They’re to take care of feeding the dogs and give them typical doggie experiences – like playing fetch, barking when there’s someone at the door, or sticking their heads out of a car window. The devices are created by Bruce [who is clearly the reincarnation of Mr. Goldberg], but one of the key plot points is what happens when the devices malfunction and the dogs all flee the building.

The villains are the pet control officers who rake sadistic glee at putting strays in their cages and count the moments until the unclaimed ones will be put down. Other than the sympathetic Bernie [Don Cheadle], the kids’ social worker, all the remaining adults in the film are pretty much twits [though not as bad as Lois and Carl].

Despite its flaws [and they are several], Hotel For Dogs kinda works. The dogs are well trained and steal every scene, though the kids hold their own, for the most part. There’s a certain lowbrow charm to the piece – though perhaps one too many dog poop jokes. The movie is aimed at tweens [the Nickelodeon demographic], but the dogs and Bruce’s wacky machines will keep adults interested while the forced romance between Dave and Andi develops.

Hotel For Dogs is a put your brain on hold and eat your popcorn movie. That’s precisely what it intends to be and, on that level, it works.

Final Grade: B-

MOVIE REVIEW: My Bloody Valentine 3-D: Bloody Entertaining!

When I scored a pass to see My Bloody Valentine 3-D, I wasn’t sure it was a good thing – but since I went into theater with absolutely no expectation, I was pleasantly surprised. I never saw the original, but this new version – written by Todd Farmer [from a story by Stephen Miller and the original screenplay by John Beaird] and directed by Patrick Lussier – contains all the elements of a classic horror movie: gore, mutilations, laughs, a genuine mystery and some gratuitous nudity.

bloodyvalentine

More than twenty years ago, a miner named Harry Warden survived a mine collapse by killing the other miners trapped with him in order to make what little oxygen remained last until he could be rescued. Even so, he came out of the mine in a coma. A year later, he came out of the coma and when on a killing spree – first at the hospital, then back at the mine where a bunch of teenagers were partying in the closed tunnel. Only four of the teens survived: Tom Hanniger [Jensen Ackles], whose father owned the mine and who left town right afterward; Sarah [Jaime King], Tom’s girlfriend who winds up married to Axel Palmer [Kerr Smith], who is now sheriff, and Irene [Betsy Rue], who now has a thing for truck drivers [and provides the aforementioned gratuitous nudity]. Warden is reported dead – killed by then Sheriff Burke [Tom Atkins].

Now, ten years later, Tom has finally returned to town to sell his share in the mine’s ownership and everyone is unhappy about that because if the mine closes, the town dies. And the killings begin again. Since unreported details are accurate, the townsfolk begin to suspect that Warden is back. As the killing mount, we’re given scenes that implicate former miners, Tom and even Sheriff Palmer.

Director Lussier keeps things moving along at a fast enough clip that any plotholes are skimmed over before we can recognize them as such. The 3-D effects are frequently dazzling right from the second the Lionsgate logo appears [when the audience oohs and ahhs over the studio logo/introduction, you know the effects are special] and are used in ways both subtle and sledgehammer obvious [it’s the mix that makes the more obvious effects work.

The entire cast is better than average, which gives the film just enough humanity to make the horror work, and the resolution is shrewdly realized. Both Ackles and Smith are given more to do than they usually display [or in Smith’s case, got to do] on their hit TV series and they tackle their roles with enthusiasm.

My Bloody Valentine 3-D is one of the better horror movies of the last several years because it knows what it is and isn’t afraid to be just that. In that regard, it shares a lot with some of the great horror films of the seventies and eighties. It may not be the groundbreaker that Halloween and Friday the 13th were, but it’s better than most of the raft of imitators that followed them. In short, it’s good, bloody, sexy fun.

Final Grade: B-

CONTESTS! Win Matthew McConaughey’s Autographed Surfboard!

Win Matthew McConaughey’s autographed Surfboard!
Win Matthew McConaughey’s autographed Surfboard!

Win Matthew McConaughey’s autographed Surfboard!  That’s right in one of the coolest contest we’ve ever run here at EclipseMagazine.com, we’re giving away Matthew’s board.  Sweet, man.  This board is being given away because Matthew is in a new DVD/Blu-ray movie called Surfer, Dude. Hey can the casting be any better?

Synopsis

Soulful longboard surfer Steve Addington (McConaughey) returns to Malibu for the summer to find his cool hometown vibe corrupted. New sponsorship demands Addington to expand into Virtual Reality Video Games and Reality TV. Unwilling to participate in this new digital reality, he chooses to spend his summer surfing his home break. But in a twist-of-fate, the waves go flat. Out of money, his expense accounts cancelled, and betrayed by his buddies, Addington is backed into a harsh corner. Aided by his manager (Harrelson), his mentor (Glenn), his guardian angel (Nelson), and his summer lover (Alexie Gilmore), Addington has a chance of keeping his cool, but it’s not going to be easy. The dude needs a wave, and there’s never been a drought like this.

Win Matthew McConaughey’s autographed Surfboard!
Win Matthew McConaughey’s autographed Surfboard!

Win, Win, Win!!!!!!!!

To win this board is simple: first post a comment about your favorite Matthew McConaughey film, then be one of the top 4 posters during the contest period – which will run Jan 12 – Sunday, February 1.  On February 2nd, I will select a winner from the top 4 posters of this month. The grand prize will be this Surf Board and a copy of Surfer Dude.  The other three winners will receive a copy of Surfer Dude.  Only real comments will be counted, so if you try and Spam the site, with one word replies or other methods you will automatically be disqualified from the contest.

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MOVIES & TELEVISION: It’s Time To Party With The 66th Golden Globes Awards!

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With “Awards Season” in full swing, we come to my favorite awards show to watch – The Golden Globes [the Globes’ new look featured, above]. Where else can you see an award winner rush from the little girls’ room to the stage, trailing a piece of toilet paper from her shoe [Christine Lahti, you are immortal because of this], or another award winner insist upon giving his award to the actor who inspired him to become an actor [the only award Jack Lemmon ever got that was voted for by a panel of one – and who knows how many other actors he inspired…?]. Thank you speeches that come from the heart or, on occasion, from a few too many drinks… The Golden Globes are fun because you get more moments from real people than all the other awards shows combined [excepting, possibly, The Spirit Awards]. Plus, the Globes honor movies and television – so there are twice as many opportunities for entertainment. So, here, after the jump, here are the nominees and my choices.

Continue reading MOVIES & TELEVISION: It’s Time To Party With The 66th Golden Globes Awards!