Showing posts from 2011

Review - The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011), R, 158 minutes - About a year and a half ago, just after I had seen the Swedish adaptation of this best selling first installment to late author Stieg Larsson's  Millennium trilogy I read the news that an American adaptation was going to be made.  My first reaction was 'why bother?'.  The novel was excellent, was equaled by the Swedish film starring Noomi Rapace and Michael Nyqvist, and at the time was only a year old (my original review can be found  here ).  I generally adhere to the belief that film remakes aren't necessary.  Every once in a while they can be worth it if they are far enough removed from the original (i.e. the Cohen brothers'  True Grit last year).  The key to remember in this case though is that David Fincher did not set out to remake the Swedish film but to provide an English language adaptation that would be more widely distributed here in the States.  The fact that Fincher was named the director fo

Review - The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 1

The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 1 (2011), PG-13, 117 minutes - ... ... ... ... that you've had a few moments to get over the shock of my taking the time to review the latest installment of the Twilight series, please allow me a brief moment of explanation.  The reason for my blog has always been to share thoughts and opinions of newly released films with friends because I quite often get the question 'was such and such a movie any good?'.  When I'm in the habit of posting, I also try to post something about any new release I have seen.  And since I ended quite a long stretch of inactivity here on my blog last weekend, I feel that it's only fair that I continue what little momentum I built by writing about this weekend's movie viewing.   Some of you who are more familiar with my movie tastes may know that a couple years ago I had rented the first Twilight movie from NetFlix.  I knew that I was by no means part of the film's target

Review - J. Edgar

  J. Edgar (2011), R, 137 minutes - It has been a while since I last updated the good old blog here (about 3 months as I was so kindly reminded by a  former co-worker/blog follower), and as anyone who knows my taste in films, what better way to return to posting than by reviewing Clint Eastwood's most recent directorial effort? J. Edgar is Eastwood's biopic about J. Edgar Hoover, long time Director of the FBI (and architect of the FBI as we know it today).  While the film covers Hoover's life from shortly before he took the position with the FBI up until his death, it really is more of a character study of his relationships with family and co-workers as well as how he viewed himself.  If you are looking for an action filled story about major crime busts that Hoover oversaw during his years in office, you won't find it here.  What you will find is a film that shows how his own paranoia about just about anyone and everyone led to trailblazing improvements in how the FBI

Review - Cowboys & Aliens

Cowboys & Aliens (2011), PG-13, 118 minutes - #5 on my Most Anticipated Films of 2011 list, Cowboys & Aliens is a Sci-Fi/Western mash-up directed by Jon Favreau that boasts a pretty hefty cast led by Daniel Craig and Harrison Ford. The movie takes place in Arizona back in 1873, when Jake Lonergan (Craig) comes to out in the desert with no recollection of what came before. He works his way into town where he has a scuffle with Percy Dolarhyde (Paul Dano), the arrogant, free-loading son of local tough guy prospector Woodrow Dolarhyde (Ford). Both are tossed in prison and are set to get shipped out of town courtesy of the U.S. Marshalls. Just as the carriage is about to take them out of town, the elder Dolarhyde arrives looking for his son. Then all hell breaks loose: alien ships buzz the main drag of the western town, shooting lasers, blowing things up, and abducting people. It's at this time that a bracelet-like object on Lonergan's wrist comes to life. He re

Review - Captain America: The First Avenger

Captain America: The First Avenger (2011), PG-13, 124 minutes - This new Captain America movie (there was a terrible one made back in 1990 ) checked in at #3 on my personal Most Anticipated Films of 2011 list. Cap also happens to be one of my favorite comic book characters so my hopes for this movie were pretty high. Much like Thor, I was quite satisfied with the end result. Captain America: The First Avenger, as one would expect, tells the origin story behind the character. Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) is a scrawny young American who attempts to enlist in the Army repeatedly in 1942. He keeps getting rejected due to his size and medical history. During one attempt, he is checked out by Dr. Abraham Erskine (Stanley Tucci). Dr. Erskine is a German scientist who defected to the United States and is overseeing the Super Soldier Project in an attempt to help the U.S. fight Hitler's Nazi's. He offers Rogers the one thing he wants: an opportunity to join the Army and fight

Review - Transformers: Dark of the Moon

Transformers: Dark of the Moon (2011), PG-13, 157 minutes - I'm just going to go ahead and get this out of the way: Dark of the Moon was much better than anticipated and those of you who told me as much were right. I'd also like to point out that I never said this looked bad, just that I wasn't wicked excited about it after the disappointment that was Revenge of the Fallen. Dark of the Moon might be the best of the three Transformers films. The origin story is out of the way and the plot gets back to story aspects from the original Generation 1 cartoon from the 1980's. Megatron is the plotting/scheming villain that he was always meant to be, and the soldier side of Optimus Prime comes out (this time believably), after he no longer feels he can trust the intel provided by his human allies. The short version of the plot: the space race of the 1960's was fueled by the crash landing of an Autobot ship known as The Arc on the moon. Lost in the wreckage was Senti

Review from the Vault - Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen

Over the past couple of weeks I have been asked on numerous occasions whether or not I plan on seeing Transformers: Dark of the Moon in theaters. Any given day my answer seems to drift between 'after Revenge of the Fallen? Are you serious!?' and 'there's a good chance I'll get talked into it.' I had not yet started this blog two years ago when Revenge of the Fallen came out, but I did post the below review on the Flixster app on facebook. I figured that since I have been getting so many questions about Dark of the Moon that I should re-post this review so those who have not heard my rant about Fallen can see why I'm so leery about Dark of the Moon despite the trailer making it look quite intriguing. The review below is a straight copy/paste. I have not edited any of the content from the original post (which wasn't my best edited work by a long shot). I do have every intention of seeing Dark of the Moon eventually. Whether or not that happe

Review - Green Lantern

Green Lantern (2011), PG-13, 105 minutes - Over the past 6 years, Green Lantern, under the watchful eye of writer Geoff Johns has become one of my favorite comic books. So, as one could imagine, I've been looking forward to this pretty much since the day that it was announced. The first teaser trailer from late last year come off pretty cheesy and I started to worry a bit. Later trailers were cut differently and looked much more promising. Then, this week, initial reviews started coming out and Green Lantern was getting absolutely crushed. So last night when I went out with a few friends to see it, I wasn't sure what to expect. Could it possibly be that bad? I had a hard time believing that. Geoff Johns didn't pen the script, but he did Co-Produce the film (Marc Guggenheim, another comic author helped with the screenplay). And anyone who has read even a couple of issues of his run can tell that he cares deeply about the character. Surely Warner Brothers would li

Review - Super 8

Super 8 (2011), PG-13, 112 minutes - Super 8 is yet another movie that made my Most Anticipated Films of 2011 list. Come to think of it, there are only 3 movies from that list yet to be released. Maybe I should have made it for the first half of the year. Oh well, that's a conversation for another time. Anyway, Super 8 is brought to us by the minds of JJ Abrams and Steven Spielberg, so it must be good right? Abrams tells his story through the eyes of Joe Lamb (Joel Courtney) and his friends, a group of teenagers making a zombie movie over their summer vacation back in 1979. While filming one late night at a local train station in an attempt to add more 'production value' to their film, the group witnesses and survives a horrendous train derailment. Ordinarily such an incident would be bad enough for a small town, but this train was carrying top secret Air Force cargo, something that escaped the crash. After the incident the Air Force takes over the crime scene,

Review - Kung Fu Panda 2

Kung Fu Panda 2 (2011), PG, 90 minutes - Three years ago, Kung Fu Panda was a pleasant surprise. It was an extremely well animated, well told, ridiculous story of a fat slob of a panda becoming part of a team of Kung Fu masters. Luckily, this follow up provides more of the same fun. Jack Black returns as Kung Fu Panda Po, and the Furious 5 are also back with their original voice actors (Angelina Jolie, Jackie Chan, Seth Rogen, Lucy Liu, and David Cross). The best addition to this sequel is the character of Lord Shen, voiced by Gary Oldman. Shen is a peacock who is the overzealous heir to the ruling family of Gongmen City. After having been banished for years, he returns not only to take his rightful place on the throne, but to expand his rule across all of China. Po and the Furious 5 battle Lord Shen and his army of wolves (led by Wolf Boss voiced by Danny McBride) in an attempt to keep China free of Shen's rule. Kung Fu Panda 2 is a good follow up and builds on the ch

First Impressions - The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011): First Trailer

The first trailer for David Fincher's version of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo has been released, and while it is only a minutes and forty seconds long, I am both encouraged and discouraged by it. Anyone that has followed this blog over the past year knows how much I enjoyed the original Swedish versions of the movies based on the late author Stieg Larsson's 'Millennium' Trilogy. I won't re-hash my love for the films here, you can see my reviews for the Swedish films at these links: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo , The Girl Who Played With Fire , The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest . I am encouraged by a couple things. Even though the trailer is a collection of many short clips, it appears as though Fincher has kept the most disturbing scenes which is really the foundation for the Lisbeth Salander character. What will be interesting to see will be how those scenes are shot and cut. They were pretty graphic in the Swedish film and I remember thi

Review - X-Men: First Class

X-Men: First Class (2011), PG-13, 132 minutes - Each summer I take a day trip down to Charlotte, NC with some friends to wander around HeroesCon (a comic book convention put on by Charlotte based comic shop Heroes Aren't Hard to Find). Part of the trip has always been stopping on the way home to get dinner and to take in a movie. The film selection tends to be comic or game based depending on what is in theaters at the time. Over the six years that I've been a part of these trips, we've seen some absolute wrecks (Prince of Persia: Sands of Time), and some half way decent flicks (The Incredible Hulk). This year's obvious choice, since it was just released, was X-Men: First Class. After Fox has done their best to completely ruin the X-Men franchise since X-2 (I am referring specifically to X-Men: The Last Stand and Wolverine: Origins), none of us had very high hopes going in. Just over two hours later, we all agreed that not only was this easily the best Charlo

Review - The Hangover Part II

The Hangover Part II (2011), R, 102 minutes - A few months ago when I first heard that a sequel to The Hangover was being made, I was very leery. How would they follow up the original? It was a classic adult comedy that told a fairly stand alone story. As teasers and trailers for the new film were released, I became less leery and even began looking forward to the follow up. Well, the answer to my question was answered. The answer? You follow up The Hangover by making the sequel in almost exactly the same way. The story beats are virtually identical. The only difference is that Part II sports some even more adult, more crude humor than the first one. Don't get me wrong, The Hangover Part II is a fun hour and forty minutes, it just doesn't bring anything new to the table. Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, Zach Galifianakis are up to more of their old shenanigans and those looking for more Mr. Chow (Ken Jeong) will be pleased. There is a humorous look into how Alan see

Review: Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (2011), PG-13, 137 minutes - From what I have read online, the creators of the latest Pirates installment wanted 'dumb' down the plot. That isn't meant in a bad way, there was just so much going on in the second and third films (who was two timing who) it really took away some of the fun. This time around they were definitely successful in providing a plot that isn't so convoluted, but it dragged on a bit. On Stranger Tides marks the first film in the franchise that isn't directed by Gore Verbinski. Instead Rob Marshall (Memoirs of a Geisha, Chicago) was at the helm. Of course Johnny Depp's Captain Jack Sparrow returns. After all, there wouldn't be a Pirates of the Caribbean franchise if not for him. The rest of the cast is comprised of a nice mixture of familiar faces (Geoffrey Rush, and Kevin McNally) and new characters (Penelope Cruz, Ian McShane). The story does include a little two timing - or

Review - Fast Five

Fast Five (2011), PG-13, 130 minutes - The fifth installment in the Fast and the Furious franchise has been out for a couple weeks now and seeing as though I was talked into checking it out in the theater by multiple friends who had already seen it, I'm going to keep this short because quite honestly, I think I'm about the last person to see it amongst the folks that tune in to this blog. Fast Five takes a page from the Ocean's movies. It really is a heist flick that happens to have a couple car related scenes in it. The commercials tout it as having many chase sequences, but there's really only one at the climax of the film. This isn't necessarily a bad thing though as the banter between members of the crew while planning the heist is really what carries the movie. Stars from the first four movies come back to pull off a heist to retire off of. All while jumping to the top of America's Most Wanted list (mostly for crimes they didn't actually com

Review - Thor

Thor (2011), PG-13, 114 minutes - May is upon us and with it the release of the first wave of big summer blockbuster releases, and with that renewed enthusiasm for someone such as myself to share my opinions with the masses (otherwise known as the five people who regularly check in). This marks a nice 'return to form' so to speak as I've been tied up watching more NBA and NHL playoff games than movies over the past few weeks. Thor has been one of the films that I've been most anticipating for quite a while now and I am pleased to report that it did not disappoint. Kenneth Branagh succeeded in bringing the magical/mythical side of the Marvel Universe to the big screen with the help of a well selected cast that ranges from Oscar winners (Anthony Hopkins as Odin and Natalie Portman as Jane Foster), to relative new comers (Chris Hemsworth as Thor, Tom Hiddleston as Loki). Thor is the God of Thunder and resides in the realm of Asgard (one of nine realms connected

Review - Sucker Punch

Sucker Punch (2011), PG-13, 109 minutes - Much like Battle: Los Angeles, my opinion of Sucker Punch has shifted a bit after having a little time to reflect on it. Originally, I was quite disappointed in Zack Snyder's latest directorial effort. Now I think I'm only sort of disappointed. After 300 and Watchmen, Sucker Punch is definitely a letdown story wise. That may be because this wasn't just directed by Zack Snyder, but written by him as well whereas his previous films have been adaptations of other writer's works (and highly regarded writers at that). Visually, it more than holds it's own. It looks and feels like a Zack Snyder film and that's the best thing that it has going for it. The majority of the story takes place in the mind of a single character and doesn't quite tie together when it is all said and done. Baby Doll (Emily Browning) is admitted to an insane asylum after she attacks her stepfather in the aftermath of her mother's death

Combo Review - Rango/Battle: Los Angeles/Limitless/Paul

In an effort to get caught up after my lack of posts over the last couple of weeks (you can thank the NCAA tournament for that), I'm going to provide real quick thoughts of the movies I have seen as opposed to my usual longer posts. Rango (2011), PG, 107 minutes - Rango is a fun animated film carried by Johnny Depp voicing the main character - an acting chameleon trying to find his way in the world. There are a couple nice references to previous films including Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas and a very convincing Clint Eastwood impersonation by Timothy Olyphant in the form of 'The Spirit of the West'. Battle: Los Angeles (2011), PG-13, 116 minutes - Immediately after watching Battle: Los Angeles, I didn't think very highly of it. Now that I've had time to reflect, I realize that feeling was primarily because the people in the theater that I saw it in felt the need to clap and cheer when it ended. Battle: Los Angeles isn't nearly that good (altho

Review - The Adjustment Bureau

The Adjustment Bureau (2011), PG-12, 105 minutes - For those that read my '10 Most Anticipated Films of 2011' post, The Adjustment Bureau should look familiar (as it topped the list). For those that haven't, take a look here . The Adjustment Bureau is based on a Philip K. Dick short story titled 'Adjustment Team' (which I have not read). I actually didn't realize this until I read it in the end credits - one more thing to add to my 'to read' list. It centers around David Norris (Matt Damon), a young, rising political star who is running for the U.S. Senate and seemingly has a lock on the seat. After a story breaks about some class reunion shenanigans, he gets steamrolled in the election. On his way to deliver his concession speech, he has a chance encounter with Elise Sellas (Emily Blunt). There's an instant attraction and after their talk he completely ditches the speech that he had planned on making and instead goes with a much more matter

The 83rd Academy Awards: 2011 Oscar Picks

It's that time of year again. Time for me (and my friend Chris Wieder) to take a stab at predicting the turnout of this year's Academy Awards. The format below is basically the same as my picks were from last year ( see previous blog post ): the categories, the nominees, which nominees from that category that Wieder and I have seen, and our thoughts about that category. We've picked the seven most well known categories, and with a little luck we'll disagree somewhere (I did not read Wieder's picks prior to making my own). Otherwise, what's the fun in having multiple opinions? Wieder is a friend and former co-worker who, I must say, has pretty decent taste in movies. If it wasn't for him, I wouldn't have seen Winter's Bone as early as I did. Knowing that he and I have many of the same interests when it comes to movies, I will apologize in advance on the off chance that he and I have similar rants concerning the Best Lead Actress ca