FRIGHT NIGHT, BLOODSUCKING SCARY

The scary, seething, suspenseful, gory, horror filled Fright Night left me turning my head on my way to the car following the showing.  It’s a frightening flick that takes its toll on those that can have a love for the thrills that evil can provide.  You don’t have to be Goth to enjoy, just a sense of humor and a need to feed your bloody thirst for a good horror movie.

 

Charley (Anton Yelchin) has finally made it to the in crowd in his senior year at his local high school.  He’s got the top girl Amy (Imogen Poots), cool duds and the guys respect him, what more can a teen want.  How about some thrills, just what Charley needs, right?  Well he’s about to get his fill when Jerry (Colin Farrell) a vampire moves in next door and starts raiding the neighborhood for ‘food’.  When his former best friend Ed (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) comes up missing, Charley tries to convince his mother and girlfriend that evil lurks in the house on the left.  Luckily Peter Vincent (David Tennant), the vampire killer is in town performing his magic show.

 

Charley (Anton Yelchin) and Amy (Imogen Poots) face up to a vampire

 

I am a huge horror fan and I’ve seen the 1985 original starring Chris Sarandon as Jerry and Roddy McDowall as Peter Vincent and loved it even though it didn’t have all the special effects that ramp up this version.  The remake of Fright Night does have much of the comedy as the first except here they use it as a relief from the horror where in Tom Holland’s it was more of a tongue in cheek campy kind of fun.  While this one has a LOT more horror and suspense, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to rent the original for some good laughs, but not before seeing the remake.

 

Jerry (Colin Farrell) tries for a bite out of Charlie

 

The performance by Colin Ferrell as the relentless blood lusting ghoul is chillingly terrific and most times terrifying.  He brings to Jerry a wicked smile and evil eyes that makes his character very creepy and spine chilling, just what’s needed to carry off the menacing plot.

 

Director Craig Gillespie on the set of FRIGHT NIGHT

 

Director Craig Gillespie does a great job of infusing the intermittent laughs with the help of Christopher Mintz-Plasse as Charley’s nerdy best friend Ed who steel many scenes while trying to escape the clutches of the vampire.  Gillespie lays out his story and gets to the meat of it in a very nice fashion leaving no time to make his audience think of other films that may be similar.  He charges right in letting you know who the vampire is and what kind of mayhem he’s taking to the neighborhood.

 

The film is rated R for bloody horror violence and language including some sexual references.  The 3D in Fright Night does have some very nasty things coming at you and a scene of glowing ashes that’s quite mesmerizing, thanks to some amazing CGI.

FINAL ANALYSIS: A very good horror flick with a lot of gory fun. (B)

 

 

THE NAMES OF LOVE, LIBERALLY FRENCH

 

The French really know how to make a lighthearted sexy comedy and the proof comes in a very funny and provocative film called The Names of Love.  Although complicated as most French comedies are, the quirky little film puts on a good show.

 

Do you remember the days when young people were running around in nearly nothing and chanting, “make love not war”? Well if you do then you’ll fall into the audience category for which this movie takes aim.

 

Baya (Sara Forestier) and Arthur (Jacques Gamblin)

Baya’s (Sara Forestier) a single young outgoing, kinda overly sexual liberal that has found a way to solve her political woes, seduce her rivals and convert them to her way of thinking.  Working her way though some very big political names and receiving excellent results, Baya’s on top of the world.  Everything she touches turns in her favor, up until she meets Arthur (Jacques Gamblin), an older man who has made exceptional strides in the scientific community.  Although a fence walker when it comes to politics, Baya still wants Arthur as one of her trophies.  When she finds out that they have a few too many things in common, things start to get complicated.

 

Director Michel Leclerc does a fine job of helping Forestier put together an outstanding performance as the uninhibited girl that takes French lascivious humor to another level.  The comely Forester burns up the screen showing off her beautiful frame and then some.  Boldly she’s Baya and every sly look, prim walk and confident gesture is projected on the screen for all to see.  It’s a gaping mouth voyeuristic film depicting the bliss for which the French are known.

Baya (Sara Forestier) at the beach in THE NAMES OF LOVE

But, Forestier wouldn’t have given the performance of her life had she not been opposite Gamblin who gives her the naive Arthur who doesn’t have a clue that he’s corralled Baya one of the hottest items in Paris.  But it’s not all romance and sex, the film gloats on several issues that challenges the minds of the modern day world, including anti-Semitism, Arab-Jewish relationships, immigration, and cultural identity.

 

The Names of Love is rated R and includes adult situations, nudity, sexuality and language.  The spoken language is French with English Subtitles.

 

FINAL ANALYSIS:  A very good movie for lovers and art film enthusiasts. (B)


FINAL DESTINATION 5, A COOL GROSS OUT

 

Shattering, piercing, suspenseful, queasy, bloody, gouging, bone breaking, mind blowing, and yet mesmerizing that’s what Final Destination 5 is all about, especially in 3D.  This is one of those select few films that use 3 Dimension well and it will blow your mind.  If you have never seen a Final Destination movie or are a big fan of the guts and gore they deliver, then rush to see Final Destination 5, but do not go over a bridge on your way.

 

The premise behind all 5 of the Final Destinations is that you cannot cheat death.  In the first film 8 students get off an airplane as one of them sees a vision that it is going to crash.  One by one the students find that life is an elusive commodity. The next three sequels feature a horrifying highway wreck, a roller coaster ride gone wrong and a car that explodes into the stands at a racetrack.

 

Molly (Emma Bell) as hangs on to the bridge for dear life

 

The special effects, make-up, computer graphics imaging and motion capture are amazing and the real stars of the film.  The opening credits have so much coming at you that it startles.  If you have seen the first four films then you will find most of the weapons of death used in those flicks popping into view.

Jacqueline Macinnes-Wood as Olivia Castle in FINAL DESTINATION

 

The acting in Final Destination 5 comes in above average with some performances exceptionally good especially Jacqueline MacInnes-Wood as the arrogant Olivia Castle who you lean to love to hate for her snotty selfishness.  When her time comes to meet her maker the ‘eyes’ have it.

 

The film is rated R for strong violent/gruesome accidents, and some language.  If gore makes you ill you may want to stay away from this gross-out.

 

FINAL ANALYSIS: A goody gruesome for horror hounds. (B)

 

 

 

 

 

 

30 MINUES OR LESS, A ZANY COMEDY

 

The situation action comedy 30 Minutes or Less does a very good job of setting up the laughter while following a story that’s as idiotic as a 3 dollar bill.  The film moves along much like the title with very little time to catch your breath.  It’s a fantasy, but if you accept it then it’s a lot of fun.  If you like films such as Pineapple Express or Fun With Dick and Jane where there’s a lot of unreality with some measure of probability than you should check out 30 Minutes or Less.

 

Without giving a lot away the movie goes something like this.  Nick (Jesse Eisenberg) gets along in life delivering pizza in this small town where there’s not a lot of excitement. Involved in the plot are a couple of hapless delinquents Dwayne (Danny McBride) and Travis (Nick Swardson) who hatch a plan to knock off Dwayne’s father for the fortune.  Unfortunately the deal with Chango the hit man (Michael Pena) goes bad so the two kidnap Nick to rob a bank for the money to set the matter straight. But there wouldn’t bee a lot of fun if the plan worked out, now would it?

McBride and Swardson in 30 MINUTES OR LESS

 

The actors make this scatterbrain plot work.  McBride plays his usual off-the-wall persona, Swardson kicks in his daffy comedy while Eisenberg uses his dead pan to make the mix work into a lot of laughs.  Throwing comedian Aziz Ansari as Nick’s best friend Chet who tries to make sense of it all becomes a bonus.

Aziz Ansari and Jesse Eisenberg in 30 MINUTES OR LESS

Direction of any comedy takes a lot of vision and Rubin Fleischer (Zombieland) does a great job with timing making the situations screwy enough to elicit the necessary off the screen responses. Although the film’s plot is quite predictable, it’s the fun getting to the weird ending that makes it worth a see.

 

On the downside, in addition to the predictability, I found Ansari’s performance a little too wacky, jumpy and unemotional.  But, that just might be me as I have not seen his role in TV’s Parks and Recreation to get enough feel for his kind of comedy.

Michael Pena as Chango in 30 MINUTES OR LESS

On the upbeat, Michael Pena gives a hilarious performance as the Hispanic hired hit man who gets stiffed on his pay.  Going after Chet and Nick turns into some extremely funny ethnic comedy.  Pena is a mainstay with over 10 years in the film industry playing support characters in such films as The Lincoln Lawyer, Lions for Lambs and his other 26 movies.  Here he shows another side of his many faces inserting nervously scary comedy into 30 Minutes of Less.

 

30 Minutes or Less has been rated R for crude and sexual content, pervasive language, nudity and some violence.  VERY IMPORTANT: Avoid seeing trailer as it gives away a lot of the sight gags, excitement and comedy traps.

 

FINAL ANALYSIS: A zany fun film (B)


 

 

 

THE HELP, TOUCHING AND REAL

It’s hard to believe that it was only a short period of time ago that people were still separating black from white.  In The Help we find what a little thing like writing a book could do to stir up segregation and bring it to the forefront.  In this story there’s a huge helping of right versus wrong with an unexpected outcome that reminds all that man’s inhumanity to man did exist even in the good old USA.

 

It’s the 1960’s Mississippi and the women in this particular town are prominent southern ladies who spend their days at teas and community events.  Their social life depends on how they look and present themselves so having a maid or two is a normal thing.  Skeeter, a local socialite, has just graduated college from Mississippi State and returns following her long absence. Being brought up by a black housekeeper she’s familiar with the power of the local ladies over the help.  A New York publisher gets a call from Skeeter about her wanting to write for the publication and the editor tells her that she wants something controversial.  When she offers her a story on ‘The Help’ things start getting edgy in Mississippi.

Emma Stone, Octavia Spencer and Viola Davis in THE HELP

I like the way writer/director Tate Taylor spools his story out slowly delivering a lot of character build-up in this segregation drama. Featuring fine acting from the whole cast their characters are caring, loving, controlling, hurtful and rebellious making the story forceful and convincing yet entertaining.

Tate Taylor and Emma Stone on the set of THE HELP

Both Taylor and novelist Kathryn Stockett were brought up in Mississippi homes where African American maids did all the work including the much-needed attention to the children of the household.  This first hand knowledge makes the film more real and compelling.  Taylor uses his sets and costumes to depict the era while putting his actors through their everyday routines, confrontations and finally a remarkable showdown that sums up the message embodied the film “Change begins with a whisper”.

 

The musical score by Thomas Newman helps put each of the scenes in the mood intended and remarkably adds to the dialogue. A song by Mary J. Blige “The Living Proof” written and sung by Mary for the film adds power to the presentation. Please stay for the end credits to hear the complete rendition.

 

Emma Stone has been making films for several years, all of which were shallow except for possibly Zombieland where she excelled here as a sweetheart with a cobra’s bite.  Here she does an outstanding job playing Skeeter with a very believable performance showing that yes, she can play with the big girls.

 

The Help is rated PG-13 for thematic material.  It does contain some derogatory language and vicious remarks so please be aware of this in choosing to bring immature youngsters.

 

FINAL ANALYSIS: A very realistic story and reminder of a troubled past (B)

 

 

 

MARS NEEDS MOMS, on 3D Blu-ray

 

Technology has really taken a big leap with 3D home viewing and many films with the original format are now available on Blu-ray 3D.  This is the case with the newest Disney Release to 3D called Mars Needs Moms.  Sure it hit big in theatres to its target group kids and pre-teens, but now adults can check it out at home.  Whether you have 3D or other mode of video, the animation in Mars Needs Moms rivals PIXAR.

 

The story involves a nine-year-old named Milo who like most all pre-teens can’t seem to get a grasp on growing up.  Whether it’s at the dinner table or keeping his room tidy, Milo’s not one to follow that drill.  But his mom thinks otherwise and while she provides a good life for Milo, she finds herself in the same boat as other moms when it comes to adolescents.

 

One evening a huge commotion outside brings Milo to out of bed only to see his mother being whisked away by an alien space ship. In hot pursuit he catches up to the ship and stows aboard.  What happens next is an adventure filled with comedy, danger and a chance to make it all up to mom.

 

The 3D special effects are blazing on a home theater.  The strength comes mostly on the depth of field, but there’s plenty of action that comes out at you.  The most exciting thing I found however is the crispness of the animation.

 

Like most Blu-ray and DVD the fun for the kids here is the replay button that will allow them to run the film over and over again.  The story has a lot of kiddy twists and keeps them interested and laughing.  I found myself getting involved in the story even though I found it a little trite and corny at times.  Sure it’s a one time through for me, but since there are children in my life, it will get played plenty of times.

 

There are some cool extras on each of the formats.

 

If there is a 3D theater in your future you’ll want to get the 3D combo pack which has 4 ways to view, 3D, Blu-ray, DVD and Digital Copy all in one package.  Otherwise Mars Needs Moms can be obtained in a Blu-ray Combo or just a DVD.

 

The extras on the 3D disk include everything on the Blu-ray & DVD plus…. “Mom-Napping (All-new 3D Exclusive) – There‘s more than meets the eye during the Martian abduction of Milo‘s Mom”. This alternate scene — completely finished in 3D — tells all.

 

Blu-ray 2D includes Everything on the DVD plus an “Extended Opening – The movie begins… but wait, there‘s more. See it here.”

 

They all have deleted scenes, and many other fun things to search out.  You know, I never thought the youngsters as young as 5 years old would even find the extras, but my son’s children are pros at it.  And even if they have seen it once, unlike me, they will upload it again.

 

Things like  “Life On Mars: The Full Motion-Capture Experience” – Go way behind the scenes to where the actors performances are captured. This feature-length, picture-in-picture viewing mode also lets you listen to director Simon Wells and actors Seth Green and Dan Fogler give a fun and insightful look into creating the movie.

 

Deleted Scenes with Simon Wells introductions (4 Blu-ray 2D Exclusive Deleted Scenes) – 7 deleted scenes of which four are exclusive to the Blu-ray 2D release. Some cool scenes ended up on the cutting room floor. Now you can see them with introductions by director Simon Wells.

 

“Flower Power” Easter Egg – the name of the show that Ki watched and learned English from is entitled ?Freaks on the Street.

 

RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES, AWESOME

Do you have your Action/Adventure fill for summer, or are you ready for more?  Try Rise of the Planet of the Apes for a thriller that will have you on the edge of your seat.  I like the way Director Rupert Wyatt makes sure each exciting scene develops with emotion, first creating interest, then suspense finalizing in aggressive thrills.  If you are ready for a creative story that connects to the original, then swing down to your nearest movie theater.

 

The story goes something like this; Will Rodman (James Franco) a budding scientist has developed a virus that has signs of curing Alzheimer disease called ALZ112.  Testing it on chimpanzees he finds that it makes them smart and easier to manage.  His test subject Bright Eyes seems to be progressing nicely till one day where she starts to shy away from her handlers.

 

Because of her aggressive emotional state, one handler tries to move Bright Eyes to another cage and that’s when she bolts escaping from the lab into the foyer. Fearing that she will hurt someone a security guard shoots her, revealing that she was about to give birth.  The ape child Caesar gets taken and raised by Rodman.  When she starts showing signs of over aggressiveness by injuring a neighbor, Rodman is forced to take Caesar to a special primate compound.  When the virus ALZ113 gets discovered things take a serious turn for the worse.

You can see the detail and realism in this shot of the revolt by the apes

The CGI, make-up, puppetry, performance capture, stuntmen and special effects make the film a success. With the film wholly dependent on the realistic look of the apes, the creators do a superb job of binging the animals to life.  I am amazed on how the personalities of each of the animals progress as the film goes on.  Showing the playfulness, cleverness and then aggression of the primates, the crew makes the film work.

Caesar (Andy Serkis) examins the ALZ113 container

Director Rupert Wyatt does a great job of moving the story along at a pretty fast clip introducing his characters, interacting them within storyline and keeping his audience on the edge of their seats.  His selection of Franco as Will Rodman proves to be a perfect choice making the scientist a caring and instinctive person who can relate to the apes.  But the most creative role goes to Andy Serkis as the ape Caesar who Wyatt hones into the most amazing performance this year.

 

The Rise of the Planet of the Apes is PG-13 for intense and frightening sequences of action and violence. The film has very little flaws during the nearly two-hour playtime.  All the apes looked real and dangerous when need be.  The support acting is flawless, cinematography bright and expansive, storyline interesting and certainly well worth watching.

 

Stay after the credits start to roll for the thread that makes the final connection to the original Planet of the Apes.

 

FINAL ANALYSIS: A thriller with a gorilla. (A)



 

 

THE CHANGE UP, MISSES TERRIBLY

Not much to say positive about The Change UP a lame film that tries every old trick in the book to grab your attention and make you think it’s comedy.  The film suffers from ‘I’ve seen that before’ and a sick humor syndrome.  If you think that watching a baby try to stick its hand in a blender is funny, then this is your kind of weird.

 

Two long time buddies, Mitch (Ryan Reynolds) and Dave (Jason Bateman), go out to a bar to watch a Braves game, get drunk and end up peeing in a magic fountain that swaps their brains to live in each other’s bodies.  Now straight arrow Dave, a family guy with a gorgeous wife (Lisa Mann) and three kids, has worked hard all his life to be this amazing lawyer on the verge of becoming a Vice President of his firm, while Mitch has been hanging out being a playboy wannabe actor.  So when the two exchange lives the craziness begins.

Olivia Wilde plays office hottie Sabrina

Although I do like what Bateman (Extract) and Reynolds (The Proposal) have done in the past, the script the two have to act out is far too kinky, sleazy and ridiculous for anyone other than hormonal males that need a stimulating brain fix.  That said, Olivia Wilde looks great in the raw, and if she didn’t use a body double, so does Lisa Mann.

Mitch tries his best to be Dave

The Change Up has an inordinate amount of site gags that in most cases cause laughter and for this the film does entertain.  However, that’s not enough here because I really didn’t find myself accepting Bateman inside Reynolds nor Reynolds inside Bateman’s skin.  The two are too much alike to become different and this predictable film proves it.  I really can’t say that any film of this one’s ilk ever worked including Freaky Friday, Like Father Like Son and Vice Versa.  The only one that came close is Face Off where you could feel the sinister coming out of Nick Cage’s Caster Troy and the softening of John Travolta’s Sean Archer.

 

The film is rated R for pervasive strong crude sexual content and language, some graphic nudity and drug use. In the film they present a new term, ‘lorno’ meaning a light porno film and after watching The Change Up I had the feeling I just saw one.  Although comically presented, the over the top scenes tend to be more of a gross out than a misadventure.  Other scenes show babies handling knives, sticking their tongue in an electrical socket and a hand in a blender, all of which are more shocking than funny.

FINAL ANALYSIS:  Only if you and your buddy have nothing else to do. (D)

 

 

 

 

 

 

SNOW FLOWER, BLOOMS

Beautifully photographed the drama Snow Flower and the Secret Fan provides a stunning window into the lives of four women.  Although the film is a bit long, I found the journey well worth taking. Although a major chick flick, the film still plays well to older males.

 

The film features the custom of laotung a binding of friends for life as soul mates.  The tradition comforts the main characters Snow Flower (Ji-hyeon) and Lilly (Li Bingbing) through the best of times and then the toughest tests of their lives.

 

In a parallel story in present day Shanghai, the laotong’s descendants, Nina and Sophia, struggle to maintain the intimacy of their own childhood friendship in the face of demanding careers, complicated love lives, and a relentlessly evolving Shanghai.  Drawing on the lessons of the past, the two modern women must understand the story of their ancestral connection, hidden from them in the folds of the antique white silk fan, or risk losing one another forever.

Snow Flower and Lilly become laotung

Director Wayne Wang (The Joy Luck Club) pulls excellent performances from his cast although I found myself struggling at times to separate the modern day female pair from their ancestors because he used the same actors.  Even with the make up and costume differences, the ploy just doesn’t work for me.  That said, Ji-hyeon as Snow Flower/Sofia and Li Bingbing as Nina/Lilly are brilliant in their roles portraying the delicate women who have to live through some very hard times.

 

The film does have some drawbacks however; the transitions between the modern day laotung women to their 1800’s counterparts happen a little too frequently, which causes a disjointing of the storyline.  Although director Wang found it a necessary bridge between eras, larger spans of each couples lives would have made the film more compelling.  Continuity suffered from a possible shorting of some scenes, especially the invasion of the Chinese rebels that displace a whole village only to find them returned in such a short span of time.

 

The customs of the early Chinese involve foot binding whereby the parents of young girls wrap their feet tightly so they will not grow.  Since most high-class suitors like women with small feet it becomes a way for most families to increase their station in life. Nicely inserted this binding process generates empathy and sadness for Sunflower and Lilly adding to the emotional charged film.

 

Snow Flower and the Secret Fan is rated PG-13 for sexuality, violence/disturbing images and drug use. Be cautions on dragging along immature pre-teens due to the subject matter. English subtitles are used during Chinese dialog.

 

FINAL ANALYSIS: A challenging film for viewers and the filmmaker. (B-)


 

Beer-Soaked & Sweatin’ It Out at the Village Voice 4Knots Music Fest

 

[In case you missed it] … Every summer for ten years straight, The Village Voice has tossed New York a golden indie-rock bone with its popular (not a dirty word in this case) Siren Music Festival showcasing a well-curated roster of artists. This year they decided to pull a switch-a-roo, doing away with Coney Island’s Siren to debut Manhattan’s 4Knots Music Festival – a showcase with basically the same vibe as before, only written in a different font and held at a better location. Land ahead…

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THE SMURFS, A KIDS DELIGHT

Reviewed by Marisa Ings

 

Hidden deep within an enchanted forest is a small village with houses made of mushroom and little blue men (and one woman) living together in peace. The magical blue creatures are called The Smurfs and they have lived in their town for hundreds of years. But, in one instance that all changes when an evil wizard named Gargamel discovers the village and goes on a rampage destroying their happy homes with the dastardly intent to capture all smurfs for their magical essence.

The little blue beings frantically try to escape Gargamel’s wrath when six of them are sucked into a vortex that plunges them in the middle of New York City. In the Big Apple, the estranged smurfs cross paths with Patrick Winslow VP of Marketing of Anjelou cosmetics, turning his life upside down and painting the town blue while doing it. Missing their home and friends, the smurfs are determined to find a way back to the enchanted forest.

Neal Patrick Harris has a run in with The Smurfs

Honestly, I was a bit excited when I discovered that a movie based on one of my favorite cartoons was coming to the big screen and I would be able to see it! The little blue people often entertained me on Saturday mornings as I sat, eyes glued to the TV while eating a bowl of cereal. Parents and children alike will enjoy this film as I observed during the screening I attended. There was much laughter in the theatre and the kids really enjoyed the pummeling of the foolish antagonist that is Gargamel.

Hank Azaria does a fantastic job portraying the sometimes-gullible Gargamel and all his wackiness. Besides the CGI smurfs, Gargamel is the best entertainment in the film. While Neil Patrick Harris does a fine job playing Patrick Winslow, Jayma Mays as Grace Winslow just does not flow well. Luckily, most children don’t see a movie for it’s acting anyway instead they are excited about the laughs and the outrageous scenes.

Similar to the movies Enchanted and Alvin and the Chipmunks, I would suggest that if your film tastes are too sophisticated to enjoy a simple child-targeted movie you will not enjoy this film. However, if you are still a hipster, in tune with your inner child, you may enjoy the slapstick comedy and cute CGI smurfs.

Final Grade: C+



Great, now I have the song stuck in my head again “La la la-la la la, Sing a happy song”…enjoy everyone!

 

REVIEWED BY Marisa Ings for John Delia’s page on the ACED Magazine Network

 


CRAZY, STUPID, LOVE – ROMANTIC NONSENSE

It’s crazy and yes it’s stupid and not much more than that.  While I found myself wondering why Steve Carell would make a movie this mediocre, hackneyed and not a lot of fun to watch, I realized he just didn’t have his “Office” on for Crazy, Stupid, Love.  A below average romancer, this flick is perfect for young couples who want to smooch in the back row of the theater and don’t have to pay attention to the dialogue.

 

The movie centers on Carl (Steve Carell) married to his wife Emily (Julianne Moore) for nearly 25 years.  One evening while driving home from a parent’s night out Emily tells Carl that she wants a divorce.  Carl’s stunned by the announcement and so are the children, especially their 13-year-old son Robbie (Jonah Bobo) who has reached puberty and lusts for the baby sitter Jessica (Analeigh Tipton) who lusts for Carl. After moving out of the house Carl frequents a local bar where he meets Jacob (Ryan Gosling) a local womanizer. Jacob takes Carl under his wing and gives him a new look setting off a chain of events that puts his family life in a tizzy.

Jacob (Ryan Gosling) teaching Carl (Steve Carell) his pick-up tricks

The film falls flat after the first fifteen minutes and I found myself trying to figure out whether it’s nice to laugh at divorce and the circumstances surrounding the life choice.  The plot has some funny stuff watching Carl being set free after a makeover to run with the bulls bedding every hot lady he can drop a line on, but haven’t wee seen that before in a film.  Beyond that the writer thinks he needs to treat us to a somewhat awkward attempt by a 13-year-old (Carl’s son) to connect with his 17-year-old babysitter; and that babysitter’s cruel imagination of taking pictures of her body as bait to hook up with her boss (Carl).

 

Well you can see where I am going with this.  Crazy, Stupid, Love just doesn’t work as a comedy or a romance and it may be due to the story written by Dan Fogelman (Cars, Bolt, Tangled and Fred Claus) who doesn’t seem to have made it to the PG-13 Romantic Comedy big league.  There’s nothing in this film that’s realistic enough for teens or the pre-teens who will sneak in to see it.

 

Some of the problem could be attributed to the fact that Crazy, Stupid, Love had TWO directors, John Requa and Glenn Ficarra.  The two also collaborated on I Love You Phillip Morris that was about romance of a completely different variety.  That film took on a dark comedic theme, but the change over to a lighter theme here just doesn’t come off the screen in their Crazy, Stupid, Love.

 

The film is rated PG-13 for coarse humor, sexual content and language and contains some material that may be a bit over-the-top for immature teens.

FINAL ANALYSIS: Romantic Nonsense. (D)

COWBOYS & ALIENS, A RIP SNORTER

Strap your six-gun to your waist, tie the string around your leg and ride over to see the movie Cowboys & Aliens a rip snorting account of a universe invasion.  Seriously now, there will be no guns allowed in the movie theatre, not even toy type.  If you want some action with great special effects that make a film come alive with awesome space creatures then check this one out.

 

The story centers on Jake Lonergan (Daniel Craig), a badass cowboy who awakens with memory loss.  With a weird bracelet attached to his wrist he rides into a small 1870’s town where he gets caught in the middle of an incident where Percy Dolarhyde (Paul Dano) the son of a domineering rancher gets arrested.  Shortly thereafter Percy’s dad, Colonel Dolarhyde (Harrison Ford) comes to town to get him released. But, just when the Colonel and Percy think they can ride out of town the place gets invaded by space ships snatching people off the streets, including Percy.  When Jake finds he can use the bracelet to shoot down a couple of fighters, the Colonel enlists him to go after his son.

Jake Lonergan (Daniel Craig) awakens in the desert

The acting here is very good with Daniel Craig doing his best western accent, Harrison Ford working his serious face and Olivia Wilde showing her, well you’ll have to see that for yourself.  Although the story’s a little campy and sometimes ridiculous, the actors are so much fun to watch in this ‘Gun Fight at the OK Corral’ facing the ugliest aliens in recent film history.  If you really want to enjoy this movie, leave your serious face at home.

Jake (Craig) and the Colonel (Harrison Ford) take on the aliens

The direction here by Jon Favreau (Iron Man) fits well with his style of science fiction fantasy, especially working with a huge popular cast.  He gets into the action quickly and keeps it coming so there isn’t any time for your mind to wander.  I like the way he introduces Jake Lonergan lying face down in the dust, slowly getting up and with a lost look on his face.  It’s classic western and he shows his audience that they are in for an unusual ride.

 

If there is a downside to the film, it’s the resiliency of the characters and fast recovery from mayhem, but it is a movie however and much like other Favreau work we are dealing with fantasy.  Also if I were a town’s person in the 1870’s and saw a metal airship come flying out of the sky shooting at the ground, I would be terror stricken, and a lot of them acted a little dumbfounded, yet ready for action. With flaws like this however, it’s really something easily overlooked if you are a true science fiction fan.

 

Cowboy’s & Aliens has been rated PG-13 for intense sequences of western and sci-fi action and violence, some partial nudity and a brief crude reference, but nothing your X-Box users haven’t already seen.

FINAL ANALYSIS: A fun Sci-Fi action film with a lot of whimsical exaggeration. (B)

 

CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE FIRST AVENGER,

Not what I expected, but Captain America: The First Avenger pours on the adventure in style.  I’m not a huge comic book fan and know little about this super hero yet for me, that’s a good thing.  If you like your action with a good back-story, then this one should fuel your engine.

 

Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) has been trying to join the military to help his country fight the Nazis in Europe, but he keeps getting rejected because of his size. Dr. Abraham Erskine (Stanley Tucci), a scientist, has developed a super soldier serum and quite by accident finds Steve Rogers a perfect subject.  Steve volunteers to participate in the experimental program and it turns him into the Super Soldier known as Captain America. But Rogers finds himself being a recruiter for the Army instead of a fighter.  When the evil HYDRA organization led by the Red Skull (Hugo Wearing) takes over the Nazi crusade with special weapons, Captain America steps up to meet the challenge.

 

Chris Evans as Captain America

 

The computer graphics play a huge part in the production of the film and in most cases come across with a WOW factor.  There is plenty of action created by the huge blaster tanks, high-powered ray guns, Red Skull’s blazing car, special ‘gyrocopter’ and may other things to dazzle the action hound’s brain.  The winged airplane was a total treat with a battle that overshadows most Iron Man sequences.

Joe Johnson on the set of CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE FIRST AVENGER

Director Joe Johnson (Jumanji) does a terrific job of creating the period piece not only with an amazing set, but make-up and costumes for his cast. Hayley Atwell’s portrayal of the tough WAC Peggy Carter stands out in her WWII apparel, hot red lips and long black lashes dating her into the strong hearted women soldiers of the time.  I liked the way he deals with the whole Army sequence and relates to the war films of old.

Steve Rogers before and after serum

The film is not perfect as I found myself trying to fit Chris into my mind as a skinny little runt.  I am amazed on how they computerized his character, but something just didn’t feel right much like what bothered me with Benjamin Button (The Curious Case of Benjamin Button) and his body change.  But it’s easy to get past this and I found myself right in the middle of the action as the film progressed ‘knowing’ that Chris became the hulk that he is meant to be.

 

This chapter in the Avengers finally puts all the back-stories in line for the grand finale when Iron Man, Captain America, Black Widow, Thor, Hawkeye, The Incredible Hulk, Nick Fury get together in an estimated $150 million production for one explosive time.

 

Captain America: The First Avenger is rated PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi violence and action, nothing that most mature pre-teens cannot handle. The film is available in 3D (however unnecessary).

 

FINAL ANAYLSIS: A ‘BLAST’ of the past. (B)