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Showing posts from March, 2014

Review - Noah

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Noah (2014), PG-13, 138 minutes - Please allow me to begin by making what may be an obvious statement: this is a review for Noah, Darren Aronofsky's latest film.   The film is an interpretation and adaptation, and as such, inevitably differs from the source material.  I am commenting on the film itself and am not looking to get into a religious debate. So, with that being said...

Noah (Russell Crowe) is the descendant of Seth (brother of Cain and Abel).  While Cain was covetous, killing Abel and leading man on a path of dominion over the world, Seth went an opposite direction, accepting his place in the natural order of things and only killing and using what was necessary for survival.  This way of life was handed down through the generations to Noah, who has been tasked by The Creator to construct an ark to provide a safe haven for one pair of every living thing (one male, one female) when a devastating flood is sent to eradicate the wickedness of man and give the world a fresh s…

Review - Muppets Most Wanted

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Muppets Most Wanted (2014), PG, 112 minutes - Jim Henson's Muppets are timeless.  Especially for anyone close to my age.  That being said, some Muppets movies are better than others.  Muppets Most Wanted is the eighth big screen adventure for everyone's favorite set of puppets, and while it may not be quite on par with 2011's The Muppets (which successfully re-introduced the franchise to theaters and a whole new generation of fans), it is definitely superior to 1999's Muppets from Space (which effectively put an end to the film franchise for twelve years).

Muppets Most Wanted picks up immediately after 2011's The Muppets.  Immediately, as in as soon as the final musical number ends.  The Muppets have successfully kept their theater open and are approached by Dominic Badguy (Ricky Gervais) about his becoming their manager and taking them on a world tour.  Kermit is a little leery, not just because of Dominic's last name (he tells them it is pronounced Badgie), …

Review - Divergent

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Divergent (2014), PG-13, 139 minutes - I was a little late to the party when it came to reading the Divergent series written by Veronica Roth.  I started the trilogy last fall just before the third book (Allegiant) was released.  Despite that, I have been eagerly awaiting this movie as I tore through all three installments quicker than anything since I had read Suzanne Collins' Hunger Games trilogy.  Most likely because they are both considered part of the Young Adult genre. Hey, I'm not a fast reader...sue me.  In any event, I was very interested in seeing how this tale based in a dystopian future Chicago would be adapted.  As far as I'm concerned, they did a pretty good job.

A great war has taken place.  In its aftermath the survivors of Chicago have fenced the remains of the city off from the wasteland left beyond.  Chicago's inhabitants have split into five factions (Abnegation, Amity, Candor, Dauntless, and Erudite), with each faction providing a different service…

Review - 300: Rise of an Empire

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300: Rise of an Empire (2014), R, 102 minutes - On March 9, 2007, a stylized sword and sandals epic based on a classic Frank Miller graphic novel stormed into theaters and set box office records.  At the time 300 may have only been known by comic book nerds, but after that early weekend in March the world knew not only of Miller's 300 Spartans, but of Gerard Butler and Michael Fassbender as well.  Seven years later - almost to the day - a sequel (of sorts) finally arrived, and had much the same effect on the competition when its opening weekend was said and done.  Only time will tell if Rise of an Empire will launch anyone into the nation's consciousness the way 300 did for Butler and Fassbender, but it was a much better follow up than I had anticipated.

Shortly after the success of 300, Frank Miller announced that he was working on another graphic novel, a prequel of sorts that was going to focus on Xerxes.  Not long after that, a sequel film was also announced.  That graphic…

Review - Mr. Peabody & Sherman

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Mr. Peabody & Sherman (2014), PG, 92 minutes - When we were little, my sister and I used to spend parts of vacations with our grandparents or with one of our aunts and uncles.  My Aunt Carol was a child at heart and loved the old The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show.  Her collection of that show on VHS was where I was first introduced to Mr. Peabody & Sherman through their short segments about a dog, his boy and their travels through history.  Aunt Carol is no longer with us (she passed away almost seven and a half years ago from cancer of the everything) and because they remind me of her, these characters hold a special place in my heart.  I went to see the big screen version of Mr. Peabody & Sherman with both excitement and sadness as I wish she had been here to see it with.

Unlike the live action The Adventures of Rocky & Bullwinkle from back in 2000, this adaptation got it right as it stuck with animation.  I had originally worried a little about how they may expand a sho…

Review - The Monuments Men

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The Monuments Men (2014), PG-13, 118 minutes - Everything about this film screamed 'Tim you need to see this!'.  It's a war flick, a period piece, it tells a little known WWII story, and it sports a George Clooney gathered ensemble cast.

This film is based on the non-fiction book titled The Monuments Men: Allied Heroes, Nazi Thieves and the Greatest Treasure Hunt in History by Robert M. Edsel and tells the story of a World War II platoon made up of museum curators, artists, and historians who are tasked with recovering art stolen by the Nazi's before Hitler orders it all to be destroyed as the Reich falls.  This is easier said than done as the Nazi's stashed their stolen goods in the most random of places: mines.

The platoon consists of Frank Stokes (Clooney), James Granger (Matt Damon), Richard Campbell (Bill Murray), Walter Garfield (John Goodman), Jean Claude Clermont (Jean Dujardin), Donald Jeffries (Hugh Bonneville), and Preston Savitz (Bob Balaban).  They sp…

Review - RoboCop (2014)

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RoboCop (2014), PG-13, 108 minutes - I'm not sure when it started, but a trend has come to my attention over the last couple of years.  That of movie studios dropping macho-centric flicks over Valentine's Day weekend.  Last year it was A Good Day to Die Hard and this year it was this reboot of the RoboCop franchise.  I see what they are trying to do, but I'm not sure it has been all that successful.  Although, I suppose that could be in part because neither of the films mentioned were all that spectacular.  Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed this reboot, but it wasn't Earth-shattering enough that I would have been able to talk my wife into seeing it over something more romantic!  

To be honest, this new version of RoboCop was better than I expected.  The same basic idea of the original was kept in place: in the not-too-distant future (2028) a private defense firm (OmniCorp) is developing drones to help combat crime and must find a way to 'humanize' their drones…

Trailer Talk - Guardians of the Galaxy

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Um, can you say 'AWESOME!'?  Because that's what the first trailer for this summer's Guardians of the Galaxy looks like.  Guardians appears to basically be Marvel's attempt at a true sci-fi/space opera (a la Star Wars) within their cinematic universe.  Based on the group of the same name from their comics, Marvel has positioned this rag-tag group of characters to be a comedic and entertaining expansion beyond the nine realms already seen and mentioned in Marvel's films (including Earth of course).

A co-worker asked me who the Guardians of the Galaxy were the other day, and the simplest answer I could give was that they are the Island of Misfit Toys equivalent of space-based comic book characters.  You have Star Lord (Peter Quill, an human/alien hybrid), Gamora (daughter of Thanos - yes, that Thanos), Drax the Destroyer (originally human, his spirit now inhabits a more powerful alien body), Rocket Raccoon (a bipedal raccoon-looking alien who isn't actually…

The 86th Annual Academy Awards: 2014 Oscar Picks

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It is time once again for the annual Academy Awards picks post.  I find it hard to believe that it has already been a year since Ben Affleck was snubbed in the directing category, and then redeemed when Argo took home Best Picture. In the past this post has had a guest contributor (my friend Wieder), providing a second opinion and adding a bit more depth to the discussion.  Unfortunately, he was not able to participate this year so you're stuck with me!

I will be following suit with last year's expansion of categories picked here on the blog.  Twenty categories will be covered - all but the those for the documentaries and short films.  I am still excluding these because I haven't seen any of the nominees and wouldn't have any clue what I was talking about.  Please keep in mind that these are not predictions, but the selections I would make if I actually had a vote.  Each category is listed below.  The nominees that I have seen are denoted by a link to my review of that…

Crunching Numbers - How Prior Oscar Picks Fared

As I was working on this year's Oscars Picks post, I wondered just how accurately picks from previous years turned out.  Curiosity got the better of me, and I went back through my records to see how well my friend Wieder and I have fared with our picks in the years that such a post has been made.

This year marks the fifth of the last seven that I've made an Oscar related post including my thoughts on who would win.  Originally I only considered eight categories (the six big ticket awards and the screenplay categories). More recently, as I've been able to see a larger number of nominees, I have expanded the number of categories picked to twenty (all but the documentary and short film categories).  As you will see from the numbers below, having seen more nominees and picking more categories does not necessarily equate to picking more accurately.

My first set of picks was back in 2008 and was posted via the blog on my myspace page (those picks have been re-posted here).  I …

Archive - The 80th Annual Academy Awards: 2008 Oscar Picks

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As I was looking through old Oscar related posts this morning, I was reminded by my 2010 post that I had also made picks on my old myspace blog a couple of years earlier.  Prior to deleting my myspace account years ago, I made sure to copy all of my reviews from that blog space for my personal records.  Out of curiosity, I went searching through that old file to see what I could dig up.  Low and behold, I found that earliest of Oscar picks posts regarding the 80th Annual Academy Awards from February 24, 2008.  For completeness sake, I have reproduced that post here.  It has been edited for formatting purposes only.  The content has not been changed.

Sunday, February 24, 2008 

Tonight’s Oscars - My two cents
Current mood: nerdy
Category: Movies, TV, Celebrities

I've managed to get away from posting any movie reviews the last couple of months, but with the 80th annual Oscars tonight I thought I'd share my picks for some of the larger categories (where applicable, I …

Rental Review - Blue Jasmine

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Blue Jasmine (2013), PG-13, 98 minutes - I'll get this out of the way right off the bat - I'm not much of a Woody Allen fan.  Outside of 2011's Midnight in Paris (which I didn't even see until my wife had me watch it), I can't think of a film of his that I truly enjoyed.  To be honest, the only reason I sat through Blue Jasmine was because Cate Blanchett's performance as Jasmine is grabbing all of the Best Actress awards this year.

Jasmine is a New York socialite and the widow of a very wealthy man (played by Alec Baldwin), who finds herself moving into her sister's apartment in San Francisco until she can get back on her feet.  That actually sounds like a pretty decent place to start a story but as the film goes on, we learn more and more about how and why Jasmine got to be in the situation she's in and it becomes about impossible to like or feel for the character.  Her sister Ginger (Sally Hawkins) on the other hand is someone the viewer can connect …

Rental Review - Dallas Buyers Club

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Dallas Buyers Club (2013), R, 117 minutes - Much like Captain Phillips, Dallas Buyers Club is a story that is worth passing on to future generations.  While 1993's Philadelphia looked at AIDS from a legal rights point of view, Dallas Buyers Club is based on a true story that looks at the disease through a different lens: one of a man just trying to survive.

Dallas, Texas, 1985 - Ron Woodruff (Matthew McConaughey) is an electrician who oozes the manly man stereotype.  He loves sex, drugs, the rodeo, and is quick to run off a string of homophobic slurs if the opportunity presents itself.  After going to the hospital for a work related injury, he's informed that extensive testing shows he is HIV+ and has about 30 days to live.  He launches into a homophobic rant and proclaims that 'nothing can kill Ron Woodruff in 30 days!' disregarding the information that Dr. Sevard (Denis O'Hare) and Nurse Eve (Jennifer Garner) provided.  After a day or two, he settles down and go…

Rental Review - Captain Phillips

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Captain Phillips (2013), PG-13, 134 minutes - We all remember the story: in 2009 an American cargo ship, the MV Maersk Alabama was hijacked by Somali pirates, and in the process became the first such American ship successfully taken in two hundred years.  The situation had the potential to be an absolute disaster, but thanks to the ship's Captain, Richard Phillips (Tom Hanks), the crew suffered no casualties and was reclaimed by the United States Navy.  I remember this story dominating the news for days.  It really was an amazing story, but there's something about watching it play out in front of your eyes that makes it that much more unbelievable.

This was one of the films that I missed last fall as we were getting prepared for the wedding/honeymoon and I'm glad that I finally had a chance to check it out in my push to catch as many Oscar nominees as possible before tomorrow's Academy Awards.  In any other year, we probably would have seen Tom Hanks snag yet another …