Category Archives: Movies

MOVIES: UP, Up, & Away Tour at the NEWSEUM

Up, Up & Away!

Recently I had the distinct pleasure of going Up, Up, & Away in an old armchair that’s attached to several balloons.  I bet you are wondering am I try to get into the Guinness Book of World Records. Not at all, but I had taken part in the Up, Up, and Away Tour at the NEWSEUM in Washington, DC. This tour is to help promote the latest Disney/Pixar movie, Up!, which is playing in theatres right now!

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MOVIE REVIEW: Drag Me to Hell – Good News! Sam Raimi is Back in the Horror Biz!

While millions more movie-goers know Sam Raimi from his three Spider-Man movies, a much smaller – better probably more dedicated – group of Raimi fans have been wondering when the heck he was going to do another horror movie! Now that Drag Me to Hell is finally in theaters, it is time to rejoice. Sam Raimi has come home!


Christine Brown [Alison Lohman] works in a bank, where she’s attempting to buck the system and gain a promotion to assistant manager – ahead of new guy Ray [Reggie Lee], who routinely butters up their boss, Mr. Jacks [David Paymer] with Lakers tickets. We know she’s a nice person – a good-hearted person – from an early sequence where she spends time with her boyfriend, and brand new professor, Clay Dalton. They’re a sweet couple, but not overly so.

When Mrs. Ganush [Lorna Raver] comes into the bank seeking a third extension on her mortgage, Christine is subtly informed by Mr. Jacks that assistant managers have to make the hard decisions – and this is a hard decision. So, Christine ignores her heart and goes for the promotion, placing the elderly woman in the position of having to beg for the first time in her life. What follows is madness…

Although Drag Me to Hell is less quirky than the Evil Dead Trilogy [not that hard to do], it has its quirks and makes them work by giving us characters we can relate to. The script, by Sam Raimi and Ivan Raimi, is brisk and concise. Sam Raimi translates it to the big screen with brio. The movie zips along at a perfect pace – quickly enough that the glimpses of Something Nasty, and the various physical gags that produce the events that drive Christine nearly to the brink, but not so quickly as to let everything run together.

Raimi pulls us into the movie by giving us characters we can relate to, in Christine and Clay, then takes our investment in the characters and twists it just a bit. Although Christine may be morally wrong to refuse Mrs. Ganush, she’s trying to do something to make her situation – and therefore clay’s as well – better.

Between the subtle CG; the mostly terrific practical effects; the sound effects and music, and several solid performances, Raimi manages something rare – a character driven horror movie. He also realizes that it’s best, sometimes, to let the audience’s imaginations run free, rather than inundating it with gore effects. It’s that movement in the corner of one’s idea that is the scariest. That’s why Drag Me to Hell is the year’s best horror movie.

Final Grade: B+

MOVIE REVIEW: Up Has Some Downs, But Mostly Soars



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.
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MOVIE REVIEW: UP – Reserve a Spot on Your Top Five List for Pixar’s 10th Wonderful Movie in a Row!


When the Disney rep asked me what I thought of UP at the conclusion of the screening, my immediate response was, “Several million points out of ten!” Yeah, I know. Douglas Adams. Zaphod Beeblebrox. What can I say – I only steal from the best. The thing is, UP is going to make more top ten, top five and top three lists than almost any other film to be released this year. Why? Because it is Pixar’s biggest risk and most fully realized motion picture.

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MOVIE NEWS: Fan Made Green Lantern Trailer, Rocks!

This is one of the greatest fan trailers ever. I found it at the website, someone put a lot of thought and effort into this, Warner Brothers should hire whoever did this to be involved in their rumored Green Lantern movie. You would think Green Lantern would be one of the easiest characters to bring to the big screen. But whoever created this trailer, bravo!

MOVIE NEWS: Fox Gets Social with new Contest for I Love You Beth Cooper


The folks at Fox are doing something interesting for their upcoming Hayden Panettiere – who many know as the Cheerleader on Heroes, movie I Love You Beth Cooper. They are asking people to go to and post a Video of a special message they’ve always wanted to express – to a friend, parent, love interest… anyone. Selected videos will be featured in television spots for I LOVE YOU, BETH COOPER. Hayden launches the campaign on on May 20 with a series of sample “moment of truth” videos that will be promoted on MySpace, Facebook and YouTube. The site also includes a Twitter tool that allows users to tweet their secret confessions anonymously or via their personal Twitter accounts. I LOVE YOU, BETH COOPER opens in theaters everywhere July 10. Directed by Chris Columbus (“Home Alone,” “Mrs. Doubtfire,” “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone”), the film is based on the popular 2007 novel of the same name by Larry Doyle of The Simpsons and Beavis and Butthead fame.

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MOVIE NEWS: The Good News: A Buffy Movie Is In The Planning Stages; The Bad News: It’s Whedon-Free!


Reports from, The Hollywood Reporter and The Los Angeles Times are stating that Fran Kuzui [director of the cult fave film] and husband Kaz Kazui are looking to produce a new Buffy the Vampire Slayer movie. Word is that they want to do a darker version in keeping with the times. At this time, there is no indication that project would Buffy creator, Joss Whedon in any way [’s Michael Ausiello quotes Whedon as saying, “I hope it’s cool,” when asked his feelings on the matter].

The Kazuis have held the rights to the character ever since the movie – and received executive producer credits for the TV series, which they produced with Gail Berman and Sandollar Television, bringing Whedon back to the character. They also received executive producer credits on the Buffy spin-off series, Angel.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, “Roy Lee and Doug Davison of Vertigo Entertainment are working with original movie director Fran Rubel Kuzui and her husband, Kaz Kuzui, on what is being labeled a remake or relaunch, but not a sequel or prequel.

The news of the potential Buffy relaunch has already touched a flood of criticism. A poll on the site sits as follows [as of a few minutes ago]:

How do you feel about a big-screen ‘Buffy’ that doesn’t involve Joss Whedon?

65%  – When and where is the riot occurring?

33%  – They can make it, but it will never exist to me.

2%    – Great! Can’t wait to see it!

MOVIE REVIEW: Michelle Weighs in on Terminator Salvation!

Terminator: Salvation

How is it possible McG continues to get these huge directorial movie projects? I’ll tell you – he is capable of making the trains run on time, but not much else. He has no vision, discernible style, wit or knows how to get much out of his actors. Whenever I watch one of his films, I think of this scene in Jay and Silent Bob Strikes back where Matt Damon is doing a sequel to Good Will Hunting and he asks the director how he should do a scene and the camera cuts to the Director saying “Just do it however you want to,” while he counts his piles of cash. Terminator Salvation is one soulless endeavor.

A lot of this is the fault of a bad script combined with lazy direction, but I also am officially sort of fed up with the entire franchise and how it treats time-travel.  It’s the saga’s magic bullet that solves – or muddles everything. They have used it so much that I just no longer care about anything that happens in this Universe and there seems to be no consequences to them using it other than nothing major ever seems to change. Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles television show made me care again, but they canceled that and this movie has nothing to do with the events of that, so again nothing matters.
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MOVIE REVIEW: Terminator 4 – Salvation? Nope!

The most impressive thing about Terminator Salvation is that it features only one character who actually earns our emotional engagement – and it’s not John Connor [Christian Bale using his Bat-voice]. Neither is it sweet, mute, cute, black girl Star [Jadagrace], a kindergarten-aged child who is so obviously planted to manipulate our emotions that the strategy fails, miserably; nor is it Connor’s pregnant wife Kate [Bryce Dallas Howard] whose worries about her husband are so underwritten that the character feels more like an add-on than someone from the original story. It’s not even Moon Bloodgood’s Blair, who follows her heart when it comes to dealing with the character who does earn our involvement, Marcus [Sam Worthington].

John & Marcus

Y’see, we meet Marcus in 2003, just before he’s about to be executed for murder – and Dr. Serena Kogan [Helena Bonham Carter], who is dying of cancer, persuades him to donate his body to science by allowing him a kiss [“That’s what death tastes like,” he notes]. When he awakens, it’s in a desolate 2018 and he makes the mistake of attracting the attention of a T-600 – fooled by its bipedal appearance. He is saved by the teenaged Kyle Reese [Anton Yelchin] who exists, plot-wise, only to provide Marcus with directions and Skynet with bait to lure Connor to his death.

Other than Marcus, the human characters are of the “insert tab A into slot B” variety. Connor is one-note and utterly lacking in any real charm, or charisma; Star is but a blatant manipulation by the writers [who also wrote the disastrous T3]; Blair exists, primarily to convince us that Marcus is human; Kate is there to make think that John Connor can actually care about anything other than beating Skynet. Even the submarine-based Command exists only to make Connor look real – despite some vintage mugging by the extremely ill-used Michael Ironside.

The real star of the film the half-human cyborg, Marcus [which you probably figured out from the trailer]. Outside of Worthington, the movie’s real stars are, as in T3, the machines – and even then, all the quality FX in the world can‘t give them any sense of real intelligence. In The Terminator, and T2, the back and forth between humans and machines seemed like a game of Risk – each move was made within the structure of a plan. Move and countermove. In T3 and Salvation, there’s none of that. As good as look onscreen, the machines of Skynet are random and chaotic.

Even worse, for all its technical skill and well-executed action sequences, Salvation is a machine on virtually every level – excepting Marcus, who is not only engaging, but actually provides the film with its only genuine moment poignancy [if you see Salvation, you know it when you see it].

Sadly, for all its budget and high-powered cast, Salvation is little better than an empty, soulless, but well-made B-movie – which places it in the company of other beautifully made misfires like Max Payne and Punisher: War Zone. This series should died with T2 – and more people should have watched the Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles TV series, which honored those movies and built upon them.

Final Grade: D+

EM Review by Sheldon Wiebe

Posted on May 23, 2009