Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Final Destination 5


For the fifth time around, death is coming! This franchise brought fourth a new vision of terror to the horror/slasher genre when it debuted at the start of the new millennium. Instead of a super-powered monster chasing and killing teenagers, the spirit of death itself stalked those who thought they were fortunate enough to elude it after the main character would persuade them out of a catastrophic event they were warned about by a premonition. This concept worked very well starting in 2000 with an airplane explosion and even better when they increased the carnage with a highway accident in 2003's sequel. Unfortunately, as with almost any horror franchise, repetition took the shock value away and its next two sequels dulled the series.  Hence, I was reluctant to go see this film, but the previews made me want to give it a chance.

I must say that I was pleasantly surprised! Immediately, I was drawn in with the film's 3D animated opening. It felt very cinematic. Although the buildup is virtually the same, (this time the tragic accident involves an office bus trip that falls victim to a bridge collapse), the filmmakers succeeded simultaneously in restoring the dark edge of the franchise and giving it a fresh look. Tony Todd's reprisal of the coroner character gave the fans a nostalgic feel while the elaborate death scenes kept it true and traditional and the concept of taking someone else's life to preserve your own brought forth a new dimension. Overall, a sickeningly fun time at the movies! Although I really hope this is the last film as it would end the franchise on a high note, I have already heard a rumor that a sixth installment may be on its way. Nonetheless, Grade A for this film for restoring my interest in the slasher genre!

30 Minutes or Less


What happens when two dumb criminals strap a bomb to a down on his luck pizza delivery boy and give him 10 hours to rob a bank so that they can hire a hit man to kill one of the criminal's wealthy father? The plot to a slacker comedy film happens. I found the previews as well as the collaboration of director Reubin Fleischer and Jesse Eisenberg (the film's lead character Nick, the walking time bomb) to look somewhat promising as I absolutely loved 2009's Zombieland. While I did laugh out loud at some of the distasteful but clever one-liners, I was just left unfulfilled with the boring side plots, unsurprising turns and lame ending. Grade C+.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

The Change-Up


The grass is always greener on the other side. This cliched statement is put to the test by "Hangover" writers Jon Lucas and Scott Moore in this age old but still entertaining body swap comedy. We are off to a good start with the choice of two great lead actors, Jason Bateman and Ryan Reynolds that both have a reputation of portraying great comedic and dramatic roles. Although best friends, their characters are almost total opposites. Bateman portrays Dave Lockwood, a lawyer and husband with three children and Reynolds portrays Mitch Planko, an unemployed stoner actor. After a night of drinking, they simultaneously wish to have the other's lives while urinating in a wishing well.

I hate to play off another cliche. However, it is appropriate to be careful what you wish for! Especially when you wake up the next morning to see that it has come true. The two lead characters are now living each other's lives. The story is a great example of how we learn to accept change by stepping outside of ourselves and viewing from somebody else's perspective but also successfully blends in the perfect amount of raunchy humor the aforementioned writers are known for. Thus, the final product is a well balanced serious and funny portrayal of life's obstacles. Grade B+.

Rise of the Planet of the Apes


The Planet of the Apes franchise is once again resurrected, however this time with somewhat of a contemporary twist. This version is an origin story involving a lab performing controversial experiments on apes in order to enhance their intelligence. Scientist Will Rodman (played by the film's lead James Franco) adopts "Ceaser",  an infant ape and the relationship evolves from an experiment into a passion.  This is the basis for a great cinematic chronology that takes the audience from childhood innocence through tragic turmoil and perfectly rounding out with an epic action packed climax. I found this to be the best film of the 2011 summer season. It manages to keep you on the edge of your seat and still touches your heart.
Grade, solid A.  

July Digest

Okay, okay, I know I have been neglecting my blog. To be honest, it has mostly been out laziness, which I guess I could chalk up to writer's block. However, I plan on coming back strong with Rise of the Planet of the Apes and The Change Up. No, really I do. Anyway, here's everything between those films and Transformers!

Horrible Bosses- a funny but predictable comedy that pits disgruntled employees against their bosses, Grade B+

Friends with Benefits-Funny and very realistic look at relationships that is played out very well by its leads, Justin Timberlake and Mila Kunis. I also liked the idea of a romantic comedy poking fun at other romantic comedies! Grade A

Captain America-The First Avenger-One of the best stories yet leading up to next year's blockbuster Avengers film (hint: stick around after the credits.) However, a bit slow for a comic book movie. Grade A-

Crazy Stupid Love-What is it with me a chic flicks lately? I must be settling down in my old age. Anyway, this was like the aforementioned, FWB, a great mix of comedy and drama that demonstrates realistically how "crazy and stupid" we are over finding true love. Grade A

Cowboys and Aliens- a "Sci-fi Western" that is a text book example of a summer movie that blends both of those genres very well together. Really enjoyed Harrison Ford's anti-hero character and the epic annihilation and battles, even though the film had somewhat of a lag. Grade B

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Transformers: Dark of the Moon


For the past couple of years, I have been celebrating my independence with an annual 4th. of July trip to the movie theater. Ironically, it all started in 2007 with the release of the first live action Transformers film. So, it was the perfect opportunity to go see the third installment of the franchise based on the popular 1980's animated series. A lot of you out there beat me to it however. According to imdb.com, the film set an Independence Day weekend box office record, grossing slightly under $195 million.


After two epic battles, Sam Witwicky (played by the returning Shia LaBeouf) has a new love interest, Carly Spencer and is struggling to simply find a job. Meanwhile, the Autobots now secretly work with the American government protecting our national security and the Decepticons have gone into hiding. The rivaling robots are soon again raging war when Sentinel Prime, a former leader of the Autobots that was recovered during the 1960's moon landing and kept top secret by the American government is resurrected. Optimus Prime remembers him as a great leader. But, in a shocking twist, he sides with Megatron and along with the other Decepticons, they set out to bring forth thier home planet of Cybertron here to Earth and use humanity as slave labor.

The mix of historical events with conspiracy theories as well as the factioning between robots and humans to decide to chose between freedom and justice with the Autobots or enslavement and power with the Decepticons easily make this the best installment of the series. The film is visually incredible with battle scenes that go over the top but still appear believable and not computer generated. It also maintains substance with a well written plot that contains good storytelling and a touch of comedy to relate to all demographics for a fun summer night at the movies! Grade, solid A.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Bad Teacher


Cameron Diaz stars as Miss Halsey, a slacker teacher who is recently dumped by her sugar daddy. It's a scary thought that a hot starlet looking for a new set of tits is shaping America's youth! Nonetheless, it's a good time at the movies. Halsey's decadent behavior as well as her rivalry with her fellow teacher Amy Squirrel make for some cheap laughs and will also make you route for the anti-hero underdog.
Grade B+.