Once upon a time, little girls dreamed of growing up and discovering they were princesses – or of at least marrying a prince. Disney made a lot of movies based around that idea, some brilliant, some merely marvelous. The Princess and the Frog harkens back to those days and – although the film is set before and after World War I – brings a combination of modern attitudes, two [count ‘em, two] princesses, and an edge that can only be kindled by magic and dreams.
It’s hard to believe that my first movie review in months is this. The sad thing about Twilight: New Moon is that I went in with very low expectations and found the movie to be ok, but here’s the thing – Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart) is loathsome and not aware how insipid, self involved, narcissistic and whiny she is. When she yells at her vampy boyfriend, with the weird ruby lips Edward (Robert Pattinson) to “take her soul,” I laughed out loud – what soul? The really sad thing is on the one hand she knows she’s broken – but the reason isn’t because she’s shallow and treats everyone around her like garbage – this fact doesn’t even enter her mind. No it’s because the love of her life broke her heart. Yet every male she comes into contact with instantly falls in love with her – the werewolf, Jacob (Taylor Lautner), her human male friend – the long suffering Mike (Michael Welch) and her father Charlie (Billy Burke) all try and help her and she just dismisses them.
From the moment that Zombieland begins with an earnest, yet extremely funny narrative on the rules on how to survive a zombie attack done over the backdrop of surprisingly tame but effective scenes of zombie attacks and people flying through windshields, you immediately become aware that this is not your typical “George A. Romero” type zombie movie.
Even though the film takes place within a post-apocalyptic world where a unknown virus has turned the people who ate the meat tainted with it into Zombies, this beginning narration sets the tone for the well paced seriocomedic nature that sets Zombieland apart from the typical zombie horror movie. The narrator and main character of the movie is “Columbus” (Jesse Eisenberg), a a twentysomething loner type college student who, up until the zombie virus changed the world, lived a very phobic/uptight existence in Austin, Texas. Once the virus struck he sets out on a journey to get back to his hometown of Columbus, Ohio to check on his family.
Local Baltimore Boy Jimmy Traynor is a machine. He’s a young director who manages to do a lot with very little. He’s the definition of an Independent Filmmaker who loves what he’s doing. He already has more than 10 movies to his name. His latest effort Live and Die was shot in 8 days using friend’s homes for locations. The movie was written, directed and has a cameo by Jimmy in it. The one thing that I’m noticing in his films is he knows Baltimore and really has the language and its people down.
Whenever I review a Quentin Tarantino I feel like I have to establish where I am on the Tarantino curve. So before we begin, I love Pulp Fiction (who doesn’t?), love Kill Bill, hate Kill Bill 2, don’t like Jackie Brown, loathe the dialogue in Grindhouse and think Reservoir Dogs is just ok – I’ll watch it anytime it’s on TV but it’s just an OK film for me. In this body of work comes Tarantino’s latest Inglourious Basterds. I’m of two minds this, on the one hand the film is pure Tarantino “cliché,” there’s the dialogue – I’ve never understood why everyone thinks it’s always the best – personally I find his judicious use of the N word obnoxious and offensive, I was waiting to see how he works it in here and he does. Of course you get the black title slate that separates each act, the fantastic use of music, the directing style it all screams Tarantino. But there’s a been there done that feeling to watching Basterds – if you judge it purely based on Tarantino’s body of work. On the other hand, in this year of bland, boring, visionless studio films by hacks like McG and Brett Ratner, Ingourious Basterds is a fun, inventive breath of fresh air that I just wanted to keep breathing in and hold as if my life depended on it. There are many things you can say about Basterds but bland isn’t one of them.
Paramount’s The Goods: Live Hard, Sell Hard is, next to The Hangover, the funniest film of the summer. It’s unapologetically crass, irreverent, obnoxious, politically incorrect – pick the adjectives you prefer. It’s also, thanks to fine performances from a varied and idiosyncratic cast of characters – played with gusto by an equally idiosyncratic cast of actors.
Some movies you see because the trailers and the buzz are so good. With G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra, I went because I wanted to see if the movie could possibly maintain the same laughable level as the trailers – and the buzz certainly suggested it would. It did.
The Rise of Cobra is the story of how Duke [Channing Tatum] and Ripcord [Marlon Wayans] become part of the G.I. Joe team. It’s also the story of how Duke’s ex-fiancée became the infamous Baroness [Sienna Miller] and hooked up with wannabe world conqueror McMullen [Christopher Eccleston]. It’s also the story of how Duke failed to save the life of the Baroness’ brother [Joseph Gordon-Levitt] – and the story of how McMullen plans to use nanomites to destroy the three most important cities in the world. It’s also the story of how Snake Eyes [Ray Park] and Storm Shadow and Shadow Storm became enemies. It’s also… Well, you get the idea.
For his third film as a director, Judd Apatow wanted to tackle something a little deeper than a one-night stand that resulted in a baby or a sexual late bloomer with goofy friends. I can almost see him in the “reading room” when the proverbial light bulb goes off above his head and he shouts, “Imminent death! Of course!”
And so we have a film about a crisis in the life of America’s most beloved comedian, George Simmons [Adam Sandler], who gets the news that he has the rare and usually fatal disease, AML. To balance the darkness of George’s plight, we get a look into the life of wannabe stand-up comic, Evan Wright [Seth Rogen] who works at Otto’s Deli alongside a fellow named Chuck [RZA] who thinks so little of his skills that Evan has to pay him to attend his next performance.
The Pearson family is a generic family [laid-back dad, middling hyper mom, mathlete son, boy crazy teen daughter and cute as a bug pre-school daughter] who leave their average home to spend a week in a generic touristy town where they are joined by an ingratiating uncle , his slightly bullying eldest son and two mischievous twin boys. These are the Earth’s only hope to stave off an alien invasion – well, except for the adults who are susceptible to the aliens’ mind-control devices.
Our heroes are Tom [Carter Jenkins], the mathlete [who’s in trouble because he deliberately let his grades slip to avoid being tortured at school]; Jake [Austin Butler], the bully [who turns out to be okay when confronted with a reason to be heroic]; Art [Henri Young] and Lee [Regan Young], the mischievous ones; Hannah [Ashley Boettcher], the pre-schooler [and something of a secret weapon], and Bethany [Ashley Tisdale] as the boy-crazy, self-absorbed one [who has problems with her boyfriend].
G-Force tells the story of a team of special agent rodents who were sent on a mission for the U.S. Government. The team was trained by Ben (Zach Galifianakis) who has been training them for three years to take on the missions the FBI cannot handle.
The team was threatened by the government to be shutdow, but they performed one mission to prove their might. Their latest mission was to infiltrate the home of Dr. Saber (Bill Nighy) and retrieve information of Operation: Clusterform. Clusterform was in reality a code sent to computer chips in Sabersense Appliances (The largest applicance company in the world) to turn them into killing machines that will exterminate the human race.
Ever since Kathryn Bigelow made a splash with her “vampire western,” it was thought that she would one day produce a masterpiece. That day has come. The Hurt Locker is one of the year’s best films.
Set in Iraq, The Hurt Locker is not about any particular war – this one just happens to be handy and provides an immediate frame of reference. Rather, this is a film about the effects of war on those who fight in them – in this case, members of a team of bomb experts.