24 December 2009

The Princess and the Frog

Spanks - 4

Director - Ron Clements and John Musker

Writer - Ron Clements & John Musker and Rob Edwards

Voices - Anika Noni Rose, Bruno Campos, Keith David, Michael-Leon Wooley, Jennifer Cody and John Goodman

Release Date - 11 December 2009

MPAA Rating - G

The Princess and the Frog is the 49th animated film by Walt Disney Animation Studios. It is their first hand drawn film since Home on the Range and their first new princess movie since Beauty and the Beast.

The movie is about Tiana, a teenage girl growing up in New Orleans who has a dream to be a chef and open the restaurant her and her father dreamed of opening since she was a young girl. Meanwhile, Prince Naveen comes to town to court Tiana's wealthy friend Charlotte. On his way to the ball in his honor, he meets a voodoo doctor who calls himself The Shadow Man. This meeting changes the lives of Tiana and Prince Naveen forever.

Louis, the trumpet playing alligator was my favorite of the supporting characters. The Shadow Man reminds me a little of Jafar in his evilness. Ray, the firefly, was funny the way he talked about his true love Evangeline.

The film follows the fairytale formula that Disney has been using successfully for over 70 years. After all that time, they can still make fun, original, and inspirational films for children of all ages. I thoroughly enjoyed it immensely and even laughed throughout Tiana's journey.

11 December 2009

Pirate Radio

Spanks - 4

Director - Richard Curtis

Writer - Richard Curtis

Starring - Nick Frost, Bill Nighy, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Kenneth Branagh & Tom Sturridge

Release Date - 13 November 2009

MPAA Rating - R

Pirate Radio (originally known as The Boat that Rocked) is the newest film from the brilliant mind who brought the world Mr. Bean and Blackadder. The film takes place in the United Kingdom in 1966. It follows the staff of pirate radio station Rock Radio who are on a ship in the North Sea and the politicians in London who want to shut them down.

The staff of Rock Radio are all fun and free and enjoy to party and rock. Rock n' Roll is the biggest thing in their lives and their listeners. Things change when they find out the British government wants them off the air. They don't plan to give up without a fight. The film is loosely based on true events involving pirate radio stations at the time, but certain plot elements like Rock n' Roll being banned on the British Isles is completely fiction. Writer/Director Richard Curtis said this film was made for entertainment purposes only and not to tell the real story of events of the late 1960s.

The film is funny, but in a British way of funny. If you don't like the British comic style, this film isn't for you. If you don't mind it, you will enjoy it greatly. All the characters are likeable, and Philip Seymour Hoffman continues to be a fantastic actor.

16 November 2009


Spanks - 3

Director - Roland Emmerich

Writer - Roland Emmerich & Harald Kloser

Starring - John Cusack, Amanda Peet, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Thandie Newton & Oliver Platt

Release Date - 13 November 09

MPAA Rating - PG-13

Roland Emmerich's latest disaster film, 2012, is full of plot holes, bad dialog, impossible situations, and some out of order editing; but damn is it a fun movie! Instead of giant flying saucers, a nuclear mutated lizard, or an ice age the cause or the disaster is solar flares and shifting in the Earth's tectonic plates.

The film has the luckiest character ever created in Hollywood. John Cusack plays a poor divorced writer/limo driver who survives earthquakes, fires, and any "red shirt" doesn't; not once, or twice. I lost count half way through. Each time it gets more comical (I don't think that was the filmmakers intent). I am not going to say how, but some will entertain you and others will just make you want to jump ship. The dialog is equally as comical. With Cusack saying things like "When they tell you not to panic... that's when you run!" or his son says "Woah, big plane." and the Russian billionaire who owns it replys "It's Russian." The entire two and a half hour movie is written in this manner.

The film is all about showing off computer special effects technology. Most of the movie is CGI and the filmmakers have even said that it is more of an animated film because of how much isn't real. The effects do look better (and more real) then they did in the trailers but like the Star Wars prequel trilogy they just showed off and made it way to busy. Because of this, it takes away the realness of the disaster and destruction. All the modern digital special effects in the world will never beat the simple but very awesome destruction created with practical effects in Independence Day.

The only reason to watch this film is because you like disaster movies. That is the best part of the movie. The only way to watch it is in a theater or on a big HDTV with a kick ass home theater system. Any other way would be pointless.

12 November 2009

The Men Who Stare at Goats

Spanks - 4

Director - Grant Heslov

Writer - Peter Straughan and Jon Ronson

Starring - George Clooney, Ewan McGregor, Jeff Bridges, Kevin Spacey & Stephen Lang

Release Date - 6 November 09

MPAA Rating - R

The Men Who Stare at Goats is inspired by the top secret true story of the United States military and its attempts to use psychic powers in a group of soldiers as told in the book by Jon Ronson.

The film follows reporter Bob Wilton, who meets Lyn Cassady in Kuwait. Bob knows about Lyn's involvement as a psychic spy from one of his previous articles After the two men meet, Lyn invites him to write a story about his new mission, that brought him out of retirement, in Iraq. The film also tells about the creation of the New Earth Army that Lyn was an original member of.

The humor in the movie is very dark and weird. It is definitely not your typical comedy. It is funny, but only if you are interested in off beat comedy. Jeff Bridge's Bill Django character is his funniest since The Dude. George Clooney can play a wacko and should continue to stick with these kind of roles and refrain from playing the action hero.

27 October 2009

Where the Wild Things Are

Spanks - 4

Director - Spike Jonze

Writer - Spike Jonze & Dave Eggers

Starring - Max Records & Catherine Keener
Voices - Catherine O'Hara, Forest Whitaker, Lauren Ambrose & James Gandolfini

Release Date - 16 October 09

MPAA Rating - PG

It took 46 years for Where the Wild Things Are to be adapted into a motion picture. After many failed attempts at making it a computer animated film, director Spike Jonze, who Maurice Sendak said "was young, interesting and had a spark that none of the others had", was hired to make it with actors and puppets and it couldn't have been done better.

The story is of Max. Max is a ten year old boy who has a very creative imagination and acts like your regular New Jersey ten year old would. His rambunctious mindset gets the best of him one evening which causes alarm for his mother. After his mother yells at him he runs out of the house. He then finds a boat and sails to an island. On the island he befriends a character named Carol and his group of friends.

The visuals used to create this world are what makes this movie great. The fact that the Wild Things where made and actually exist is even more exciting. They could have easily made seven Jar Jar Binks in the computer, but they took the time and craftsmanship to build all seven costumes, and you can tell.

The film is childish at times, but it is an adventure taken from the point of view a ten year old boy. The dialog isn't great, but think of the book and how the story is told more through the pictures then the words. If you go expecting a typical Disney film, you will be greatly disappointed. Remember how the book is, and watch the film as if the book is being projected onto the screen.

16 October 2009


Spanks - 4

Director - Ruben Fleischer

Writer - Rhett Reese & Paul Wernick

Starring - Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson, Emma Stone & Abigail Breslin

Release Date - 2 October 09

MPAA Rating - R

Zombieland is a comedy about a group of human survivors that come together after the world is destroyed from most of the population being turned into zombies. The four of them are in search of completely different things until they are all brought together. Wichita and Little Rock are on their way to Pacific Playland, an amusement park in California, that is rumored to be zombie free. Tallahassee and Columbus decide to go there too after the girls attempt to steal their car.

Throughout the film Columbus tells us his rules for staying alive in Zombieland. Some of them are what you would expect, but the ones that you don't expect are funny. The way they are described and shown is an added comedic treat.

The movie is hysterical. I laughed the whole time. It has an awesome cameo and Tallahassee's original search is brilliant and unexpected (both I won't ruin for you). It also has a few scenes that can be scary, but when you are closing your eyes or hiding behind your neighbor in the next seat you will be laughing your ass off. How many movies do you know that can do that to you?

30 September 2009


Spanks - 4

Director - Shane Acker

Writer - Pamela Pettler & Shane Acker

Voices - Christopher Plummer, Martin Landau, John C. Reilly, Crispin Glover, Jennifer Connelly, Fred Tatasciore & Elijah Wood

Release Date - 9 September 2009

MPAA Rating - PG-13

9 is the first full length animated film from director Shane Acker and it is based off the original short film he made in 2005. The film takes place just after the fall of humanity when the 9th of a scientist "stitchpunks" comes to life. He finds a talisman next to him and picks it up then sets out to find out what this object is and why he was created. He quickly finds another like him who says there are more stitchpunks before he gets attacked and taken away. And the mystery of this world continues to unfold.

9 has a very unique look created by Acker and his animators. The world they created looks a lot more real than the animated features by Pixar, Dreamworks, etc. The "camera" work also has the fell of a live action movie with the use of zooms and focuses. The world is steampunk like in that it looks like it is set in the first half of the 20th century, but the technology is similar to today. Its very different than any other animated film.

The film moves along fast and it doesn't slow down for one second. Most films have few scenes that are slow and mess up its pacing, but not 9. The stitchpunks face some kind of danger the whole way through and it keeps you on the edge of your seat the whole film, I can't wait to watch it again.

17 September 2009

Inglourious Basterds

Spanks - 3

Director - Quentin Tarantino

Writer - Quentin Tarantino

Starring - Brad Pitt, Mélanie Laurent, Christoph Waltz, Eli Roth & Diane Kruger

Release Date - 21 August 09

MPAA Rating - R

Inglourious Basterds is the latest film from Quentin Tarantino and his first war movie (or a spaghetti western but with World War II iconography if you ask him). The film is set in World War II Europe, but that is the only thing that historically accurate in the film. Historical figures are in the film by name only, because their personalities and actions are altered to fit in this "alternate universe". Like most of Tarantino's movies, this one follows a multiple story lines that somehow and at some point cross each other.

The three stories Inglourious Basterds follows are of Colonel Hans Landa, a Nazi officer who is very good at searching France for hiding Jews. Shosanna Dreyfus, a Jewish French girl who runs a movie theater in Paris who agrees to let the Nazis use the theater so she can lock the Nazi officers inside and burn it down. The last is of Aldo Raine and "The Basterds", a group of 8 US soldiers who drop into occupied France whose orders are to kill Nazis until the Allies get news of the Nazi movie premiere, then they are ordered to assist a British film critic in an attack on the theater.

The trailer for the film makes it seem like it is just about Brad Pitt and his men running around tormenting and killing Nazis. The actual screen time showing them at work is very little. The stories involving Hans Landa and Shosanna Dreyfus are followed more. I didn't know of the other stories before seeing the film so I was disappointed. Now knowing that the movie is more than that, I might like it more the second time around.

The film is very Tarantino in that there is lots and lots of dialog used to tell the story, unlike most war movies where the visuals tell a lot of the story. The film does have a good share of comedy written in. Everything Hans Landa says is funny, but sometimes is the way he says what he is saying and not what he is saying. Christoph Waltz who plays Landa better win an Oscar for his performance, because it was flawless.

16 August 2009

District 9

Spanks - 5

Director - Neill Blomkamp

Writer - Neill Blomkamp & Terri Tatchell

Starring - Sharlto Copley, Mandla Gaduka, William Allen Young & Jason Cope

Release Date - 14 August 09

MPAA Rating - R

District 9 is more proof that you don't need one hundred plus million dollars to make a science fiction/action film look great. The "Prawns" in the film look more real than any other CGI created character all summer and its total budget was only 30 million dollars. Compared to Transformers and G.I. Joe whose budgets were above 150 million each.

The film is shot partially in documentary style. The second act is shot as a typical fiction film, while the first and third act are documentary. By doing it this way, you get a better understanding of the District 9 world. The film tells the story of the government of South Africa and the company, Multi National United evicting and relocating the almost two million alien refugees (called negatively by the humans as Prawns) who showed up over the city of Johannesburg twenty something years earlier. MNU assigns Wikus van der Merwe to lead the relocation and the "documentary film crew" follows him into District 9. As with any forced relocation, the aliens resist. Problems also persist with the Nigerian gang who run a black market for the aliens.

The film is an allegory for racism in the world whether it is the way African Americans were treated in the United States after the Civil War until the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960's or, since the director is from South Africa, the Apartheid that lasted up into to 1990's. The "Prawns" representing the repressed group.

The movie is also different in that the aliens are not here to take over and destroy humanity even though they have better technology and well advanced weaponry. The filmmakers don't shove the racism thing down your throat, so you don't have to worry about being preached to about being caring and loving to all living beings. District 9 is the best film of the 2009 summer so far, and I don't see another film topping it this season.

District 9 is based off of Neill Blomkamp's 2005 short film Alive in Joburg. Check it out onSpy Films. It is only six minutes long.

11 August 2009

G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra

Spanks - 3

Director - Stephen Sommers

Writer - Stuart Beattie, David Elliot & Paul Lovett

Starring - Channing Tatum, Marlon Wayans, Christopher Eccleston, Dennis Quaid, Sienna Miller, Rachel Nichols, Joseph Gordon-Levitt & Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje

Release Date - 7 August 09

MPAA Rating - PG-13

G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra
has been getting a lot of bad press since it was released on August 7th. Truthfully, I went expecting nothing out of it, as should have all the other critics. It will never win any kind of award and I don't believe the filmmakers were going for an Academy Award for Best Picture. The film is exactly what it should have been. It was a summer popcorn movie that was so bad that it was awesome!

The film is an origin story, but unlike most films, its the origin of the villian, Cobra Commander. The G.I. Joe's have been saving the world with all their ultra high tech toys for years. It shows the Joe's from the point of view of two new recruts, Duke and Ripcord. Duke and Ripcord started in the U.S. Army, were ordered to deliver four brand new warheads to NATO. Warheads that can quickly destroy an entire city. The convoy gets ambushed and the warheads get stolen by the Baroness before the Joe's arrive. General Hawk recruits Duke and Ripcord to help find the Baroness and the four warheads before cities get leveled and millions of people die.

The film is very predictable. The special effects are average. The weapons are ridiculous. The accelerator suits being an example, but the action sequence they were used in was cool. The dialog is cheesy (deliberate?). It is overacted (deliberate?). The girls are super hot (of course!). All these factors make for a summer movie that is nothing more than great fun. If you go expecting Citizen Kane you are going to be greatly disappointed. If you go expecting a film based on a doll/action figure/toy (whatever you consider a G.I. Joe) who fights an evil organization called Cobra who just wants to control the world you will probably have a good time.

27 July 2009


Spanks - 5

Director - Duncan Jones

Writer - Duncan Jones & Nathan Parker

Starring - Sam Rockwell & Kevin Spacey

Release Date - 12 June 2009 (Limited)

MPAA Rating - R

is the directorial debut of Duncan Jones, who just happens to be the son of David Bowie. The film is 99 percent one person, Sam Bell played by Sam Rockwell and his robot GERTY who is voiced by Kevin Spacey. The film follows Sam Bell who has two weeks left on his three year contract to mine helium-3 from the dark side of the moon. A problem with the communication satellite allows only recorded messages to be sent to and from Earth. From being by himself and isolated from everyone, Sam starts to see a woman on the station and on the lunar surface. Sam has an accident and wakes up back on the station under the care of GERTY. Things then don't add up for Sam as he starts seeing himself and hearing things. That is all I can say without spoilers.

The story is completely original, which is something you don't see much in movies these days. They are normally books, remakes or old movies (sometimes not even old movies) and comic book characters. Seeing something original always makes me happy. The film is also based on science and is not all science fiction, although we are many years away from harvesting helium-3 from the surface of The Moon.

Sam Rockwell's performance is awesome, you wouldn't think he was that great of an actor from his previous rolls. The effects used to create the lunar surface and to fake the gravity looked better than a lot of movies that have tens of millions of dollars (Moon's budget was about five million).

Since the film is in limited release, it might not be playing in your local theater. If you can't make it to one of the theaters it is screening in, definitely get it on DVD the week it gets release. You won't be disappointed. Click here for the list of theaters that are screening Moon.

25 July 2009

Public Enemies

Spanks - 3

Director - Michael Mann

Writer - Ronan Bennett, Michael Mann & Ann Biderman

Starring - Johnny Depp, Christian Bale, Marion Cotillard, Stephen Lang & Billy Crudup

Release Date - 1 July 09

MPAA Rating - R

Public Enemies is the latest film about John Dillinger. It takes place over a year of his life from when he broke his gang out of the Indiana State Prison right after he himself was paroled from prison until he is shot and killed by the FBI outside the Biograph Theater on July 23, 1934. Along with telling Dillinger's story, the film follows Melvin Purvis who was the FBI agent in charge of finding and arresting Dillinger and his gang.

The film is accurate in showing the downfall of each member of Dillinger's gang, but the time line of the deaths is out of order to make for a better screen story. The robbery scenes and the shootouts were shot well, but it could have used more of them. The rest of the film was very slow in the pacing, and I was bored at some parts. Johnny Depp and Christian Bale are great actors and portrayed their characters magnificently.

The filmmakers did a wonderful job recreating the 1930's with the cars, architecture, clothing, and props. In that way it was incorporated into the film. The picture was too clear and looked to me that it was shot with home video cameras. That took away the feeling of being in Dillinger's time. Period films should look more gritty and old, not perfect and crystal clear. That doesn't represent The Great Depression. It might look better on an HDTV than the huge movie screen, which is where you should watch this film anyway.

14 July 2009


Spanks - 4

Director - Larry Charles

Writer - Sacha Baron Cohen, Anthony Hines, Dan Mazer & Jeff Schaffer

Starring - Sacha Baron Cohen & Gustaf Hammarsten

Release Date - 10 July 2009

MPAA Rating - R

Brüno, the new film by Sacha Baron Cohen, is the same style as Borat. However instead of being a satire about racism it is about homophobia. It does not say anything bad about being gay or stereotype them in a bad light like G.L.A.D says. It shows the viewers how homophobic the American people are, using the extreme stereotypes in the character to make it more comical. If you think Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan pushes the boundary of taking things to far, Brüno takes that line and goes twice as far. Brüno went as far to have a group of people walk out yelling in disgust because of a scene*.

The film is shot documentary style and follows Brüno as he travels to Los Angeles to become a superstar after he is fired from his Austrian fashion show Funkyzeit mit Brüno. Accompanied only with his assistant's assistant Lutz, (who is secretly in love with Brüno) they set out to become a superstar.

The film is very funny, but it isn't like any other R rated movie. The film's first cut was originally rated NC-17 and was re-cut. There are an uncountable number of mentions to gay sex; there are scenes of naked men; scenes of exaggerated gay sex acts; but it is done for comedy and to get reactions from the unsuspecting people involved in the prank and not to be pornography.

* The scene people walked out of included a physic medium and the deceased half of Milli Vanilli. Rob Pilatus was his first of his two loves. Use your imagination.

09 July 2009

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen

Spanks - 3

Director - Michael Bay

Writer - Ehren Kruger, Roberto Orci & Alex Kurtzman

Starring - Shia LaBeouf, Megan Fox, Josh Duhamel, Tyrese Gibson, John Turturro, Peter Cullen & Hugo Weaving

Release Date - 24 June 09

MPAA Rating - PG-13

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen is your typical Michael Bay film. Little plot, crappy dialog, lots of explosions, and special effects. The film continues 2 years after the first film with the Autobots working with an international team of soldiers tracking down and capturing Decepticons. Also, Sam Witwicky is about to enter college and begin a normal college life, but that doesn't happen and Sam is pushed back into the Autobots/Decepticons War. Megatron wants information from Sam's brain that can save the Decepticons and win the war for them.

The film was entertaining, but a little long. They could have made it tighter, especially the third act. The desert battle looked great visually, but the action was very repetitive. Parts were set in the Philadelphia area, and it is always cool to see places you know in a film, even if the geography of it all is all wrong.

The special effects companies did an amazing job making giant robots look real and believable as if they belong as a part of the world and not cartoony and fake. My only problem was that they edited the movie quickly and the camera is always moving so you can't get a very good look at all their details like you could in the first installment. The sound design was also great, making robots sound alien.

The movie doesn't change my mind about Shia LaBeouf. He still is an annoying actor and I wish he would stop being cast. John Turturro is the comic relief of the film as he was in the first, and has the best character in the movie. Megan Fox is still hot, and they should just keep her and get rid of Shia.

Transformers is a good movie to see in the theater, even with the silly plot and bad acting. It just wont have the same feel to it at home, giant robots will just seem small on a television. Don't expect anything great, just lots of chases, fights, fire, load noises, and things blowing up. The special effects and sound design are the main reasons you would want to see it.

18 June 2009

Land of the Lost

Spanks - 1

Director - Brad Silberling

Writer - Chris Henchy & Dennis McNicholas

Starring - Will Ferrell, Anna Friel, Danny McBride & Jorma Taccone

Release Date - 5 June 09

MPAA Rating - PG - 13

Land of the Lost is an absolutely terrible film. The story stinks, the dialog sucks, it isn't funny, and the sets look like they were taken from the original show. The only thing that made me laugh was the terrible writing. And I don't think that is what the writers were going for. At one part during the climax of the film Holly was talking to a Tyrannosaurs Rex about what just happened and it was supposed to be serious moment, but instead it was so bad it was the funniest part of the movie.

The film didn't know what it wanted to be. It was rated PG-13 mostly for a few little things in the dialog, but other than that it was a family film. They should have chosen one direction, either a "Step Brothers" like direction like Will Ferrell is good at or that of "Journey to the Center of the Earth" to attract the family.

The film's main antagonist is the Tyrannosaurs Rex that Holly names Grumpy. He has a vendetta against Marshall (Will Ferrell) because he said he had a small brain the size of a walnut. Grumpy than follows Marshall, Holly, and Will's as they search for the lost tachyon amplifier. The Sleestaks, who I researched to be the most famous of the creatures, were reduced to slaves of Enik and could have made for a much better group of bad guys.

I have never watched the original show from the 70's or the 90's remake, but I would recommend that if your in need of Land of the Lost fix, just watch them.

15 June 2009

Drag Me to Hell

Spanks - 5

Director - Sam Raimi

Writer - Sam Raimi & Ivan Raimi

Starring - Alison Lohman, Justin Long, Lorna Raver & Dileep Rao

Release Date - 29 May 09

MPAA Rating - PG-13

Drag Me to Hell is the best new horror movie in years! It isn't a remake of an old horror flick or foreign film like they all are now. It isn't a silly slasher film were everyone gets senselessly killed in outrageous ways. It is just old fashion horror.

The film follows an ambitious loan officer (Christine Brown) looking to get a raise to assistant manager who gets cursed by an old gypsy woman because she wouldn't give her an extension on her mortgage. She is cursed by the Lamia and has three days to break the curse or it will take her soul to hell.

Drag Me the Hell finally has Sam Raimi going back to the lower budget horror movies that made him famous. Hopefully after Spiderman 4 & 5 he makes another one. It has its predictable moments, but I was on the edge of my seat the whole film waiting for Christine's fate. It uses a lot of cool shooting styles Raimi used in the Evil Dead trilogy and subsequent films.

If you want something different to go see, Drag Me to Hell is that movie. The ending was awesome, and made the movie even better.

09 June 2009

The Hangover

Spanks - 3

Director - Todd Phillips

Writer - Jon Lucas & Scott Moore

Starring - Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, Zach Galifianakis, Justin Bartha, Heather Graham & Ken Jeong

Release Date - 5 June 09

MPAA Rating - R

The Hangover was way funnier than I thought it would be from the trailer. It is about three friends and the brides' brother who go to Las Vegas for a bachelor party. When they wake up the next morning the groom is missing, there is a tiger in the bathroom, the room is trashed, a baby is found in the closet,and nobody remembers what happened the previous night. They have 12 hours to find the groom and get him home for the wedding.

I was surprised at how funny the movie was. I was expecting the only funny part to be the scene with Mike Tyson singing Phil Collins. Even when friends told me it was good, I still had my doubts. It is the funniest movie I have seen since Role Models.

Zach Galifianakis who plays the weird brother of the bride steals the movie. Everything he says doesn't make any sense but it is hysterical. Ken Jeong, who has had supporting roles in many comedies over the past year is great and I wouldn't be surprised if we saw him in some starring roles in the near future.

The Hangover is the movie to see if you want to just laugh and have some brainless fun.

02 June 2009


Spanks - 5

Director - Pete Docter

Writer - Bob Peterson

Voices - Edward Asner, Christopher Plummer, Jordan Nagai, Bob Peterson, Delroy Lindo & John Ratzenberger

Release Date - 29 May 09

MPAA Rating - PG

You would never think a movie about a crabby old man would be good or that you would care for this man, but Pixar's Up did it. Pixar once again creates an animated movie that is different and original. Up is about Carl Fredricksen's adventure he never got around to doing when he was younger. With urbanization closing in around him and his house and to avoid the Old People's Home, he ties thousands of helium balloons to his house to fly away to Paradise Falls in South America.

The animation of the film is nothing revolutionary. It is the story that makes the movie great. It doesn't follow the norm of animated family films where everything in the world ends in happiness and fantasy. The movie, yet far fetched with the flying house, is very real in the way it deals with life, humanity and relationships.

The film is very funny too. Dug the Dog has the funniest lines in the movie. The interaction between Carl and Russell is perfect for how an old man would talk to an annoying little boy. I laughed from start to end.

28 May 2009

Terminator Salvation

Spanks - 3

Director - MCG

Writers - John D. Brancato & Michael Ferris

Starring - Christian Bale, Sam Worthington, Moon Bloodgood, Anton Yelchin & Bryce Dallas Howard

Release Date - 21 May 09

MPAA Rating - PG-13

As a post apocalyptic machines take over the world and kill most of humanity movie, Terminator Salvation is a good movie. As a Terminator movie it is not. The film doesn't feel like the last three. It just used the characters that James Cameron created over 20 years ago and forgets everything and they just do whatever they want with them. The story doesn't fit the time line already created. It has no suspense. The story isn't original. All it is is special effects and explosions, which are great, but you need the story to make it good.

The one thing the filmmakers did right was to use "real" terminators and not CGI ones. The large machines were CGI, which I expected from the beginning, but not the small ones. The CGI ones looked great, but the one that captured and held the humans looked just like a Transformer. The visuals of the film were the best part of it, but what has Stan Winston done that hasn't been amazing.

The film is about Marcus Wright, a man who wakes up not knowing were he is or what happened to the world. He runs into a young Kyle Reese who is looking for John Connor to join the resistance. The two become buddies and look for Connor together. Along the way Kyle gets captured by the machines which leads Marcus on a journey to save him. He meets Connor who is not yet the leader of the resistance and clash with each other about how to go about reaching both of their goals.

Since seeing the future in the earlier Terminator movies I wanted to see a movie set in this time. I wanted this film to be great, but I was disappointed because so much could have been done and the filmmakers did so little. At this point they should have left T:2 to be the end of the story. With two equals planned, I am scared at what they could do next to ruin the Terminator franchise. The only hope is hire new people to write and direct.

12 May 2009

Star Trek

Spanks - 5

Director - J.J. Abrams

Writers - Roberto Orci & Alex Kurtzman

Starring - Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Leonard Nimoy, Eric Bana, Bruce Greenwood, Karl Urban, Zoe Saldana, Simon Pegg, John Cho & Anton Yelchin

Release Date - 8 May 09

MPAA Rating - PG-13

Star Trek is a reboot of the Paramount franchise created over 40 years ago by Gene Roddenberry. It takes place before the events in the original series and tells the story of how James Tiberius Kirk became the captain of the USS Enterprise and found the crew that followed his leadership up until Star Trek The Undiscovered Country. It is a story that was never told.

The cool thing about this reboot is that it does not forget everything that has come before like they normally do. With the "simple" use of time travel and the theory of multiple dimensions (Spock explains it) the film exist in both universes. Leonard Nimoy is what bridges them both together.

I can understand why the big fans are upset with the film because of some of the things they did to their precious canon. I don't see why because there hasn't been a really great Trek film sinceFirst Contact. I think Paramount made a good decision for once with putting some fresh faces in charge of Star Trek, and I have nothing against Rick Berman and his people. Would you have rather they started from scratch?

The movie has a perfect pace to it, I wasn't bored with any scene, and it was just the perfect length. The sets were awesome. The way they did the space battle scenes were different than any other Trek film so far. It was funny. The one thing that I could have seen cut was the giant predators on the one planet. Star Trek is definitely a movie to see in the theater and it could be hard for other films to beat this summer.

Here are some funny videos joking about Star Trek and Trekkers from SNL featuring original Enterprise crew members.


07 May 2009

X-Men Origins: Wolverine

Spanks - 3

Director - Gavin Hood

Writers - David Benioff & Skip Woods

Starring - Hugh Jackman, Liev Schreiber, Danny Huston, Taylor Kitsch & Ryan Reynolds

Release Date - 1 May 09

MPAA Rating - PG-13

X-Men Origins: Wolverine is the first spin off film from the X-Men Trilogy. The film starts when Logan is just a young boy and discovers his claws about 20 years before the events of the first X-Men film.

The film was a little disappointing to me. I was expecting more of Wolverine going berserk like he does in each of the X-Men films. There is only one short sequence of him in super crazy attack mode. The rest of them is him fighting only one other bad guy. I also thought the beginning was slow up until he gets his adamantium implants. The ending was for the most part predictable and unoriginal.

The one thing about the movie I really liked was how they related the story to the rest of the X-Men universe. From the trailer it seemed like they were just throwing characters in because people liked that character. The film did need more Deadpool/Wade Wilson and not just use him for a small part and to introduce him for his own film.

X-Men Origins: Wolverine could have been a better movie and some better fight scenes. To compare how good it is to the previous X-Men movies, it would be around the level of X-Men: The Last Stand.

08 April 2009

Alien Trespass

Spanks - 4

Director - R.W. Goodwin

Writers - James Swift & Steven P. Fisher

Starring - Eric McCormack, Jenni Baird, Robert Patrick, Jody Thompson & Dan Lauria

Release Date - 3 April 09 (limited release)

MPAA Rating - PG

Alien Trespass is a science fiction movie from 1957 that was never released by Goldstone International Pictures because of a contract dispute between the films star M. Eric McCormack and the head of the studio Louis Q. Goldstone. Weeks before its original release date Goldstone ordered all the prints to be destroyed. 50 years later at a construction site on the location of the Goldstone back lot buried deep underground was a metal box containing the trailer, promotional material, and the finished film in perfect condition.

In reality, the film was made last year. Its director R.W. Goodwin's hommage to the movies he loved as a kid. It was made to look like it was made back in the 1950's. It uses all the effects methods of the day, although modern CGI was used for the scenes where the flying saucer was flying. They also follow the Hays Code that Hollywood had to follow until 1968. The main instrument used, like in many old films, on the soundtrack is a theremin. The film does parody the genre, but not nearly to the degree as The Lost Skeleton of Cadavraa.

The film is well written and is funny. The crash site set is very cheesy looking, but that was the point. The dialog is full of 50's slang and it has the stereotypical greaser kid who is looking for trouble whose best friend is the goody two shoes. It has the B movie cliches like rubber monsters, screaming women, the cop who is days from retirement, and many many more, but it is all done very well.

Alien Trespass is takes place over two days in a small California mountain town. A flying saucer crashes and a Ghota escapes in the crash. The alien Urp borrows the human body of Ted Lewis to find and capture the Ghota before it destroys all life on Earth. To make it harder for Urp, the Ghota is capable of chromodynamic distortion (invisibility).

01 April 2009

Monsters vs. Aliens

Spanks - 4

Director - Rob Letterman & Conrad Vernon

Writers - Maya Forbes, Wallace Wolodarsky, Rob Letterman, Jonathan Aibel & Glenn Berger

Voices - Reese Witherspoon, Seth Rogen, Hugh Laurie, Will Arnett, Kiefer Sutherland, Rainn Wilson, Stephen Colbert & Paul Rudd

Release Date - 27 March 09

MPAA Rating - PG

Monsters Vs. Aliens is the first Dreamworks Animation Studios film to be produced for 3D. All future films will also be made this way as theaters with the digital projection systems are all over the place now and the number continues to grow. Up until this one they were produced in traditional 2D and digitally converted to 3D.

The film is a homage to the monster movies made in the early 1950's. The hero's are a 50 foot tall woman (Ginormica), a giant moth (Insectosaurus), a mad scientist that changed himself into a cockroach (Dr. Cockroach, Ph.D.), a brainless jello goo thing (B.O.B.), and an amphibian mutant (The Missing Link). They are sent to fight off the squidlike alien (Gallaxhar) who comes looking to find the quantonium that fell to Earth from a meteor and since he is here he decides to take over the world.

Monsters Vs. Aliens is funny, it has a few jokes thrown in for the adults like the presidents first contact attempt with the aliens. It is the most action packed animated film since Titan A.E and has the hottest cartoon character since Jessica Rabbit. It is a fast paced fun film for the whole family to have a night out together.

If you plan on seeing this in 3D, try and go to IMAX 3D because its less than a dollar more and the screen is way bigger and the sound system is far superior. It is well worth it.

23 March 2009


Spanks - 4

Director - Alex Proyas

Writers - Ryne Douglas Pearson, Juliet Snowden, Stiles White, Stuart Hazeldine, Ryne Douglas Pearson, Alex Proyas & Richard Kelly

Starring - Nicolas Cage, Chandler Canterbury, Rose Byrne, D.G. Maloney & Lara Robinson

Release Date - 20 March 09

MPAA Rating - PG-13

Knowing is a disaster movie with a twist. It isn't straight forward like Armageddon and The Day After Tomorrow. It actually makes you think about what might happen next and it wasn't easily predictable like most. Some previous trailers for the film made it look like the normal disaster film, which I think turned off the people I saw it with. The film has a lot of mystery along with it, "The Whisperer People" are one example.

The plot follows John and Caleb Koestler. Caleb gets a page of numbers when his schools time capsule is opened. His astrophysicist father figures out the numbers are the date of disasters over the past 50 years and how many lives were lost. The numbers list three events that have not yet occurred.

The plane crash scene was shot beautifully and in one continuous take. It gave me the feeling like I was there with Nicolas Cage. The subway scene was done even better. It is one of the most realistic disaster scenes ever shot. Proyas held nothing back developing the scene.

The people I saw it will did not like the ending. I thought the ending worked very well and can't see an other way it could have ended. This again could have been because of the way the film was marketed early on.

If you go see Knowing, do so with an open mind and expect it to be different. If you don't, you will walk out feeling like my friends did and hate it.

09 March 2009


Spanks - 5

Director - Zack Snyder

Writers - David Hayter & Alex Tse

Starring - Malin Akerman, Billy Crudup, Matthew Goode, Jackie Earle Haley, Jeffrey Dean Morgan & Patrick Wilson

Release Date - 6 March 09

MPAA Rating - R

The long awaited film adaptation of of the "unfilmable" Watchmen is out and it was done brilliantly. Based on Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons graphic novel that Time named as one of the 100 greatest novels of all time. The story is set in an alternate 1985 at the height of the cold war and Richard Nixon is still the president. Masked heroes have existed since the 1940's , until it became illegal in the 1970's. The film starts with the murder of Edward Blake. Rorschach, a vigilante who doesn't care its illegal, finds out Blake was an ex masked hero that now works for the government who called himself The Comedian. Rorschach believes someone is picking off masked heroes and sets out to warn the other retired masked heroes.

The film is left mostly unchanged from the graphic novel, which is great because endings and settings are almost always changed when adapting a book and its always for the worst. It is being reported that he changed the ending, but the only thing changed was the MacGuffin that makes the ending work. Zac Snyder left out some of the smaller sub plots but filmed them all for DVD (the film would have been over three and a half hours long) but without them the story is complete.

If you read the graphic novel first you will see Easter eggs in a lot of scenes that viewers who didn't read will not notice. This to me shows how much Snyder cared for the source material and didn't just make the movie for the paycheck.

The film is not your normal superhero movie. If you go expecting Spiderman or Superman you are going to hate it. Go in with an open mind and you will enjoy it.

23 February 2009

81st Academy Awards

I know it has been a few weeks since I posted a review. Being busy and February not being a big month for movies made it a bit slow. I do want to see Coraline in 3D, if i get a chance this week I will go, but I hear that that is going to be done this week for the Jonas Brothers 3D Concert (I hope that isn't true).

The 81st Academy Awards were on last night. I only saw a few minutes of it. I am happy they gave best supporting actor to Heath Ledger. To see a list of winners click here! Hugh Jackman's opening was funny too (hopefully they don't take the video off You Tube)!

New reviews coming very soon. Thanks for reading.


03 February 2009


Spanks - 4

Director - Pierre Morel

Writers - Luc Besson & Robert Mark Kamen

Starring - Liam Neeson, Maggie Grace, Famke Janssen & Xander Berkeley

Release Date - 30 January 2009

MPAA Rating - PG-13

Taken is the most recent take on the kidnapping movie. It follows Liam Neeson's character after his daughter is kidnapped in Paris. He plays a retired CIA "preventer" who takes finding his daughter into his own hands.

The film isn't anything original and is predictable at times. It is a good movie for some good old butt kicking, and Neeson is bad ass. The fight scenes reminded me of the Bourne trilogy in the cinematography, and that is not a bad thing. The beginning I felt moved a little slow, but that is because I was looking forward to the butt kicking and didn't care about the character development of the film.

21 January 2009


Spanks - 4

Director - Edward Zwick

Writers - Clayton Frohman & Edward Zwick

Starring - Daniel Craig, Liev Schreiber, Jamie Bell & George MacKay

Release Date - 16 January 09

MPAA Rating - R

Defiance is a film about the Bielski Brothers and their camp during World War Two. It is adapted from Nechama Tec's book "Defiance: The Bielski Partisans". The Bielski's were a Jewish family living in Nazi-occupied Poland. Their parents were killed because they wouldn't go to the ghettos by the local police under the orders of the Nazi. The brothers fled into the forest and find other survivors. Tuvia, the oldest Bielski, becomes the leader. The camp continues to grow as more Jews escape the Germans. The film follows the groups survival in the forest.

The film's trailer makes it look like its about the Jews fighting back against the Nazis like a typical war movie. There are a few battle scenes, but the main focus is the lives of the people living in the forest. The struggles of a cold winter, the sibling rivalry between Tuvia and Zus, antisemitism from the Soviets, starvation, and keeping away from the Germans to stay alive.

It is a very good story. I don't know why it isn't well known, because you don't hear of that much good coming out of World War Two. It wasn't taught to me in high school, I don't know if it was in other high schools.

Defiance doesn't use and fancy cinematography or million dollar digital special effects. It doesn't need too. Its about the people and their lives, not the horrors of war. Showing all that would take away from the story of survival. The only problem I had was the film moves a little slow at times.

19 January 2009


Spanks - 3

Director - Bryan Singer

Writers - Christopher McQuarrie & Nathan Alexander

Starring - Tom Cruise, Kenneth Branagh, Bill Nighy, Tom Wilkinson, Terence Stamp & Eddie Izzard

Release Date - 25 December 08

MPAA Rating - R

Valkyrie is about the assassination attempt on Adolf Hitler on July 20, 1944. Tom Cruise stars as Colonel Claus von Stauffenberg, who is a key member of the German Resistance and the man who lead the assassination attempt at the Wolf's Lair. The film starts in Tunisia where Stauffenberg is wounded in battle, then sent back to Germany where he is recruited into the resistance. The film follows how the plot was put together, carried out, and its aftermath.

From what I read, the film is historically accurate, but has a few Hollywood liberties added. Before seeing the film I knew of the assassination plot, but I didn't know the details. I was surprised by a lot of it. The filmmakers also got permission to shot at many of the original locations around Berlin.

Valkyrie is a good film to see if you are into World War II history. It is detailed well about Project Valkyrie, the characters, and the event. If you don't care, then you probably won't like it. It doesn't have loads of battle scenes like Saving Private Ryan, so don't go expecting that. There is action and suspense, just not your typical war movie kind.

04 January 2009

Gran Torino

Spanks - 3.5

Director - Clint Eastwood

Writers - Nick Schenk & Dave Johannson

Starring - Clint Eastwood, Ahney Her, Bee Vang & Christopher Carley

Release Date - 12 December 08 (limited release) and 9 January 09 (wide release)

MPAA Rating - R

Don't base Gran Torino on the trailer. I didn't want to see it after watching the trailer, but went because my friends wanted to see it. Whoever was in charge of producing the trailer made it seem like a different kind of movie. I was very impressed with the film. It was a lot better then Benjamin Button.

The film is about racism that still exist in America in 2008. It follows Clint Eastwood's character, a Korean War veteran, who is struggling with life after the death of his wife. The fact that his neighborhood is being over run by the Hmung doesn't make him any happier. After the troubled teenage neighbor tries to steal his 1972 Gran Torino, he takes the kid under his supervision to make him a good kid.

The film is full of racial remarks to his neighbors, and sometimes he says it right to them. He says some that I have never heard too. If you don't like racist language, this isn't the film for you. Eastwood's character is one of those cool old men who don't care what people think and does whatever he wants because he wants to do it. He does a great job at it, I wouldn't be surprised if he is nominated for an award for acting or directing.

Gran Torino makes you laugh at times, but it also makes you think. Above all it entertains, and that is why we go to the cinema.

03 January 2009

The Spirit

Spanks - 3.5

Director - Frank Miller

Writers - Frank Miller

Starring - Gabriel Macht, Samuel L. Jackson, Dan Lauria, Scarlett Johansson & Eva Mendes

Release Date - 25 December 2008

MPAA Rating - PG-13

The Spirit is a fun comic book adaption and nothing more. If you go expecting exactly that you will enjoy it. If you expect an award winning movie, you won't. Its an origin story about how The Spirit came to be the protector of Central City. It is a good starting point for a franchise series for Lionsgate, if they choose to make more.

The film is set in a unique noir-ish world. The cars, buildings, and costumes are very 30's and 40's looking, while there is modern technology like mobile phones, cloning, big guns. Some characters even talk like they are from that era. Its like Frank Miller took one of Will Eisner's stories and just modernized a few little details.

Of all the comic book adaptions that have come out, The Spirit is the most comic book like. Samuel L. Jackson said in a interview that fighting The Spirit was like Wile E. Coyote and the Roadrunner and that is the perfect comparison.

If you don't think they are reasons to see the film, here are 5 other reasons to see the spirit. Scarlett Johansson, Eva Mendes, Sarah Paulson, Stana Katic, and Paz Vega.

02 January 2009

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

Spanks - 3

Director - David Fincher

Writers - Eric Roth and Robin Swicord

Starring - Brad Pitt, Cate Blanchett, Julia Ormond and Tilda Swinton

Release Date - 25 December 2008

MPAA Rating - PG-13

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button is an interesting concept for a film, but it didn't live up to the expectations I had for it. The makeup and digital special effects to make Cate Blanchett and Brad Pitt look younger and older were brilliant, as was the acting and direction.

A lot happens in the film, but nothing happens. The film starts in 1918 on the eve of the end of World War I and ends in 2005 when hurricane Katrina hits New Orleans. It is narrated by the main character's daughter reading the journal of Benjamin Button to her dieing mother. It goes from the birth of Ben as an old man, to his death as a baby. Ben falls in love, Ben travels the world, people die, Ben comes home, he falls in love again, more people die, he travels again, he comes home, he is a child. If your looking for a climax it never comes. It moves very slowly, it seemed like I was there for longer then the 166 minutes run time.

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button is a thinking film, and it grows on you a little as you think about it more. It is also depressing and sad at times. I think if it were shorter I would have liked it a lot more. If I were you I would wait for the DVD to watch it.