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Showing posts from 2012

Review - Django Unchained

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Django Unchained (2012), R, 165 minutes - There are a few followers of this blog that already know this, but for anyone new or just passing through, here it is: I enjoy westerns.  Unfortunately it is a rare genre in this day and age.  I have also become a fan of Quentin Tarantino’s work over the years.  So, as one could imagine, Django Unchained (the D is silent) is a film that I've been pretty excited about for a while now.  It snuck onto my ‘Most Anticipated Films of 2012’ list earlier this year as an honorable mention entry (it would have been much higher had there actually been an official trailer released at that point), and my excitement only grew throughout the year.

Django Unchained is a wonderful mash-up of a well made spaghetti western and Tarantino’s style of storytelling and violence.  It takes place two years before the Civil War and follows Django (Jamie Foxx), a slave who is purchased by a bounty hunter by the name of Dr. King Schultz (Christoph Waltz).  Schultz det…

Review - Killing Them Softly

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Killing Them Softly (2012), R, 97 minutes - Killing Them Softly is a film that I saw on a whim a week or so ago starring Brad Pitt, Scoot McNairy, James Gandolfini, Richard Jenkins, and Ray Liotta. I didn't know much going in other than who was in it and that it involved the mob or organized crime in some way.  Having had a few days to try and process my thoughts, I'm still not sure what to make of it.

Here's what I do know: Killing Them Softly is well acted.  Pitt, McNairy, and Jenkins are the best of the bunch.  Gandolfini does well too, he just plays a character that is about impossible to like and Ray Liotta does his usual mob movie thing.  I'm not real familiar with him, but Ben Mendelsohn was pretty entertaining as well as one of the two small time crooks who knock over an underground poker game.  Liotta's character (Markie Trattman) runs the poker game.  A couple of years before, he had the brilliant idea of having someone hit his own game because he'd …

Review - The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

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The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012), PG-13, 169 minutes - After The Lord of The Rings: The Return of the King came out in 2003, the question soon became 'when would The Hobbit be adapted?'. Legal/contractual issues then made the world wonder if The Hobbit would ever be made at all.  Once that situation got sorted out, Jackson was going to produce while Guillermo del Toro was set to direct.  It took so long to get things off the ground, del Toro moved on to other projects and The Hobbit was left up in the air again.  Finally Jackson decided to take another trip through Middle Earth, the universe that he so perfectly brought to life with the Lord of the Rings trilogy.  It only took nine years, but the first part of Jackson's vision of J.R.R. Tokien's The Hobbit is finally here.

An Unexpected Journey follows a young Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman), an unassuming hobbit that is very much a homebody.  Gandalf (Ian McKellen) pays him a visit and unbeknownst to Bilbo, cho…

Trailer Talk - Pacific Rim (2013)

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Mechs!  Monsters!  Guillermo del Toro!  Idris Elba!  Ron Perlman!  Can it get any better?  Seriously though, this has been a greatly anticipated and discussed project from Guillermo del Toro for the last year or two.  And to finally see footage, gorgeous footage at that, really is exciting.

The trailer gives us the basic premise: giant monsters rise up from within the Earth and mankind takes to piloting giant mechs to fight off the threat.  It may be a very basic and nerdy plot, but with previous films like Blade II, the Hellboy movies, and Pan's Labyrinth under his belt, Guillermo del Toro has proven to have an unbelievable creative mind, both story and design-wise.  I love that his cast is littered with great character actors such as Idris Elba and Ron Perlman (even Charlie Hunnam, Burn Gorman and Clifton Collins, Jr for that matter).

There are already quite a few movies on the slate for next year to get excited about, but after seeing this trailer I think that Pacific Rim tak…

Rental Review - The Lorax

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The Lorax (2012), PG, 86 minutes - Some may remember that The Lorax ranked #10 on my Most Anticipated Films of 2012 list back towards the beginning of the year.  As I mentioned there, this was mostly because The Lorax was one of my favorite Dr. Seuss books when I was a kid.  If I were making my Top 10 list for this year today, The Lorax probably wouldn't make the cut, but it was a very fun and entertaining presentation of Dr. Seuss' environmental tale.

The big screen version of The Lorax tells the story of a boy named Ted and his efforts to find a real tree to bring back to his small town of Thneedville in an effort to impress a girl named Audrey.  At first this doesn't sound like this would be a big deal, but Thneedville has grown into a completely artificial town.  There are no naturally occurring plants anywhere and as a result, a local business mogul named Mr. O'Hare all but runs the town.  His company supplies the people of Thneedville with fresh are to breath.  I…

Trailer Talk - Star Trek Into Darkness (2013)

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Here it is!  The much anticipated first teaser for Star Trek Into Darkness!  As is typical of a J.J. Abrams project, information about this film has been pretty hard to come by.  It shouldn't be any surprise that this teaser does its fair share of teasing.  Whetting our appetites, without giving away too much of the plot.  We're shown bits of a film that looks more bleak than its predecessor (Abrams' franchise reboot from 2009).  We see plenty of action (including the Enterprise crash landing?).  We see the new incarnations of the Enterprise's crew all returning.  We see Benedict Cumberbatch's villain for a fleeting moment.  Is he Khan?  Is he not?  Who cares!  Either way he'll probably be an excellent antagonist for Kirk (Chris Pine) and company.  As far as I'm concerned, it'll just be an added bonus if he does turn out to be Khan.

I grew up watching re-runs of the original Star Trek series and the movies that spun out of it.  I wouldn't consider…

Review - Lincoln

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Lincoln (2012), PG-13, 150 minutes - When it comes to movies, I've always enjoyed period pieces.  Give me a film that provides a glimpse into another time and I'm happy.  I've also always enjoyed a well made biopic.  Luckily for me, these two genres often times go hand in hand.  In this case, Steven Spielberg covers both genres with an excellent film that focuses on the final four months of our 16th President's life, including his push to get the 13th Amendment to our Constitution passed in order to abolish slavery.

Most biopics tend to cover an entire lifespan, but Spielberg decided to narrow his focus on a fraction of Abraham Lincoln's life that had the most lasting effects on our country (Tony Kushner's screenplay draws heavily from Doris Kearns Goodwin's novel 'Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln').  He takes a look behind the scenes and shows us Lincoln's mindset after having made the Emancipation Proclamation and being …

Review - Rise of the Guardians

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Rise of the Guardians (2012), PG, 97 minutes - Every year there are a handful of new holiday themed films that pop up in theaters between Thanksgiving and Christmas and just about every one involves a Christmas heavy plot.  Oddly enough, despite including a couple of holiday specific characters, Rise of the Guardians doesn't revolve around this gift giving time of year.

This film focuses on a group called The Guardians (based on a series of children's books by William Joyce), that is comprised of North (Santa Claus), Bunny (the Easter Bunny), Sandy (the Sandman), and Tooth (the Tooth Fairy).  Their job is to look after and protect the children of the Earth.  The more the children believe in The Guardians the stronger and more real they become.  This is where Jack Frost comes in.  He has the power to control winter.  He's the one that gives kids snow and ice and snow days.  He has no memory of his life before receiving his wintry powers and there are no tales about Jack and…

Rental Review - Brave

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Brave (2012), PG, 93 minutes - Brave is the most recent animated effort from Disney/Pixar.  In my book, Pixar's involvement made it a must see, but just like The Amazing Spider-Man, it came out at an inconvenient time this past summer.  Fortunately, we didn't have to wait ages for its home video release.

Brave tells the story of Merida (Kelly Macdonald), a Scottish princess who loves archery and runs as free as she can (she has more tomboy in her blood than princess). Her father King Fergus (Billy Connolly) holds an archery tournament for Merida's hand in marriage at the urging of her mother Queen Elinor (Emma Thompson).  Not wanting her destiny to be chosen for her, Merida decides to enter the competition herself.  She wins and embarrasses the Lord's and their sons who came to participate.  After the impending fight with her mother, Merida storms out into and comes across a witch's hut.  She wishes that things were different so that her mother wouldn't continu…

Review - The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 2

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The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 2 (2012), PG-13, 115 minutes - I find myself oddly conflicted right now.  The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 2 is not a film that I would have chosen to see myself (I went with my fiancĂ©, who has followed the films after reading the books), but, unlike some of its predecessors, I do not feel ashamed for admitting that I've seen it.  I’ve made no qualms about my dislike for the first Twilight film (and I won’t waste time by rehashing the many reasons here).  But each subsequent entry has proven to be better than its predecessor.  Breaking Dawn Part 2 continues that trend in my opinion. If any of the Twilight films could be recommended for the male audience, it would be this one.

The story has finally gotten beyond the Bella/Edward/Jacob love triangle and actually introduces a touch of suspense and action into the mix.  Part 2 picks up, as one might imagine, right where Part 1 left off, with Bella having just given birth to her and Edwar…

Rental Review - The Amazing Spider-Man

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The Amazing Spider-Man (2012), PG-13, 136 minutes - When The Amazing Spider-Man was first announced, I had the same thought that a good majority of people had at the time: 'it has only been three or four years since Spider-Man 3, do they really need to reboot the franchise so soon?'  Then they announced that Marc Webb would be directing (I thoroughly enjoyed his (500) Days of Summer from 2009).  Then shortly thereafter the announcements that The Social Network's breakout Andrew Garfield would be Peter Parker and personal favorite Emma Stone would play Gwen Stacy (as Peter's original love interest as she was in the comics).  At that point I knew that I was on board with a Spidey reboot, even if we weren't all that far removed from Sam Raimi's trilogy.

If I was 'all-in' so to speak, you might be wondering why it has taken me five months to get a review posted. Well, The Amazing Spider-Man came out the week of the July 4th holiday this past summer, and th…

Trailer Talk - World War Z (2013)

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I haven't read Max Brooks' novel World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War, which is the source material for this upcoming Brad Pitt flick.  It is a book that I have heard is quite good, but bears very little resemblance to this big screen counterpart based on internet chatter.

Having heard that, World War Z still looks like it could be pretty entertaining.  Brad Pitt is almost always good, and a quick look at imdb.com shows that he is joined in the cast by the likes of Matthew Fox and David Morse.  It is also directed by Marc Forster, who has a pretty diverse list of films to his credit including Monster's Ball, Stranger Than Fiction, and Quantum of Solace.  The zombies don't appear to be your run of the mill undead either.  They move quickly and en-mass, almost like a wave crashing down on the shore.

We've got a few more months to wait before World War Z hits theaters.  It doesn't release until June of 2013, but base on this initial trailer I think I&#…

Review - Deftones - Koi No Yokan

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Well here it is: my 100th post on the blog formerly known as "Somebody Check My Brain" and "Brooks Hatlen's Library".  It's sort of hard to believe that I have stuck to blogging actually, albeit with some delays here and there.  As the description in the header for "Nerd in the 'Noke" states, this is primarily a place where I share my thoughts on movies, but from time to time I have been known to post about other interests such as music or comics.  To celebrate my 100th post, I thought that it might be fun to revisit something a little different from the earliest days of the blog: a music review.  But before I get into my review, I would like to thank all of you that have taken the time to check in and read my thoughts.  Because of Blogger's stat tracking, I have been completely surprised at just how much this blog has been viewed.  It started as a place to collect and share my thoughts about things that interest me.  I can honestly say t…

Review - Skyfall

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Skyfall (2012), PG-13, 143 minutes - The tagline at the end of 2008's Quantum of Solace gave us the standard post credits promise "James Bond will return".  And return he did, just a little bit later than we had hoped (thanks to a delay caused by the fallout of MGM's bankruptcy and the legal limbo the franchise found itself in), this time around in Skyfall.  Not only does the latest Bond adventure mark the twenty third trip into the field for Ian Fleming's fictional British super spy, but also the 50th anniversary of the 007 film franchise.

Skyfall is a very personal story for MI6's best agent as he sets out to eliminate the agency's most recent threat: a former agent whose motive comes from what he perceives to be a lack of loyalty on the part of the agency, and more importantly from M (the head of MI6) herself.  Bond does this after surviving a botched operation in which he was shot after being caught in the line of fire.  A shot that was ordered by M …

Trailer Talk - Zero Dark Thirty (2012)

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Zero Dark Thirty is director Kathryn Bigelow's first film since her Oscar winning effort The Hurt Locker (Best Director and Best Picture in 2010).  It is based on the hunt for, and death of Osama bin Laden thanks to Navy SEAL Team 6 in May of 2011.

The Hurt Locker was a very small budget film, filled with great performances from relatively unknown actors at the time.  This time around, she is armed with a much larger budget for another military thriller and a cast filled with promising and veteran stars.  Jessica Chastain has proven to be a force with roles in recent films like The Debt, The Help, and The Tree of Life).  Joel Edgerton was excellent in Warrior, and Mark Strong and Kyle Chandler are good in just about everything they work on.

With all of the classified information that revolves around such events, we may never know how accurate this portrayal of the story is.  It will be interesting to see how politically charged the film turns out to be.  The Hurt Locker was an e…

Trailer Talk - Django Unchained (2012)

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I enjoy Westerns.  I enjoy Quentin Tarantino films.  I enjoy most films starring Jamie Foxx,  Leonardo DiCaprio, Christoph Waltz, Samuel L. Jackson, Kerry Washington, or Jonah Hill.  Tarantino has rolled all of them into his latest effort.  It is pretty safe to say that I am eagerly anticipating Django Unchained.

It will be very interesting to see how Tarantino's violent, explicit styles mesh with the western genre.  I like the role reversal that Tarantino is using with DiCaprio and Waltz (DiCaprio as the villain and Waltz seemingly being an accomplice for good).  Samuel L. Jackson's almost obligatory appearance in a Tarantino film is always appreciated as well.

If the movie itself plays half as well as the trailer does, I think we'll be looking at another excellent outing from Quentin Tarantino.  While I've never been one to run out to the theater on Christmas afternoon (and I don't really see myself making an exception in this case), you can bet that I'll t…

Review - Argo

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Argo (2012), R, 120 minutes - I know that I begin quite a few of my reviews with a statement about how much I was anticipating the film. I’d love to tell you that I’m not going to do that this time around, but that would be a lie. Not only does Argo have an amazing and intriguing story on which it is based, but it also marks the third directorial outing from Ben Affleck. When I first saw the trailer for Argo, I thought to myself that it was a film that needed to be seen. When I realized that it was directed by Affleck, in my mind it became a can’t miss based on my enjoyment of his previous directorial efforts Gone Baby Gone and The Town.  So yeah, I was quite looking forward to Argo.  (Side note: Gone Baby Gone predates this blog, but my review has been re-posted below.  My review for The Town can be seen here.)

Argo is based on actual events surrounding the 1980 joint CIA/Canadian exfiltration of six American diplomatic personnel from the Canadian Ambassador’s home in revolutionar…

Trailer Talk - Iron Man 3 (2013)

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The first teaser trailer for Iron Man 3 just hit the web in the last day or two and from this first look at the film, it appears to be more of the same Robert Downey, Jr. as Tony Stark goodness that we've come to expect from the first two films (and from The Avengers for that matter).  Iron Man may not be my favorite Marvel Comics character (that distinction belongs to Daredevil), but judging from the success of the franchise, there is no denying that he is the character that drives the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

The trailer is absolutely packed with great looking action sequences, Stark's Extremis Armor (from Warren Ellis' run on the comic), Stark's Armory, Iron Patriot, and the first sights and sounds of Ben Kingsley as The Mandarin (a classic Iron Man villain who has been brought back to the forefront in Matt Fraction's current run on the comic)!

Iron Man 3 boasts an amazing cast, no different than the first two films in the franchise.  The aforementioned Kings…

Review - Paranormal Activity 4

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Paranormal Activity 4 (2012), R, 88 minutes - I was never really into the Paranormal Activity movies until my fiance had me watch them in preparation for last year's Paranormal Activity 3.  It turned out that they were actually right up my alley.  Suspenseful, creepy, good jumpy scares hear and there, but they were not slasher filled.  I even really enjoyed the continuity that they created by making the second and third movies prequels that made the events from the first film not so random.  So my fiance and I were very much looking forward to Paranormal Activity 4, which skips ahead and takes place 5 years after the events of the first two films.

This time around the story focuses on a new family that lives across the street from Katie (Katie Featherston) and her son Robbie (Brady Allen), the characters that carry over from the previous installments.  Most of the film follows Alex (Kathryn Newton), the teenage daughter of the family across the street.  Her family takes Robbie in …

Rental Review - Moneyball

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Moneyball (2011), PG-13, 133 minutes - Ok, so this wasn't so much a rental as a 'I bought it months ago but just hadn't had a chance to watch it' movie.  I know I am way behind the curve on this one, but Moneyball was a wonderful film.

Moneyball is based on the novel of the same name by Michael Lewis, and tells the story of Oakland A's General Manager Billy Beane, and how, in the early 2000's he and his Assistant GM Peter Brand adopted what was considered a new and radical way of evaluating players.  They began focusing on statistics like on base percentage and other advanced metrics more than the long time 'tried and true' categories like batting average, home runs, and runs batted in.  Beane (played by Brad Pitt) came to this line of thinking after his Oakland A's team had been knocked out of the playoffs by the New York Yankees, then lost their three best players because they could not afford to match the monstrous contracts offered to those pla…

Review - House at the End of the Street

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House at the End of the Street (2012), PG-13, 101 minutes - My fiance and I decided the other day that we were in the mood for a scary movie.  From the trailer that we had seen part of, we thought that House at the End of the Street might do the trick.  We were under the impression that it was a horror flick, but House at the End of the Street only sets itself up like a horror film.  It really turns out to be more of a psychological thriller.  That's not to say that it is bad, it just wasn't quite what we were expecting.

House at the End of the Street gets its start when a mother and daughter (Sarah and Elissa, played by Elisabeth Shue and Jennifer Lawrence respectively) move into a house that they are newly renting.  The house just through the trees (at the end of the street - see what they did there?) has a bit of history and is looked down on by the rest of the neighborhood.  You see, a family used to live there.  That is, until the daughter stabbed the parents to death.  I…