Archive for the 'Amadarwin' Category

Rush

Saturday, September 28th, 2013

Rush

Click the image for more photos & behind the scenes footage of Ron Howard!

Alyn Darnay gave it 3.5 and Amadarwin gave it 4.5 stars, read both reviews below:

Alyn's take Amadarwin's take

 

Snitch

Friday, February 22nd, 2013

**

It sucked!It'll be on cable.I liked it.It was good!It was awesome!! (1 People gave this 1.00 out of 5)
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Snitch

A desperate father convinces a federal prosecutor and the DEA to let him go undercover to help free his son from a mandatory minimum ten year sentence for drug trafficking. In a nutshell, that’s a pretty interesting premise, provided you can suspend enough disbelief that this option would be viable enough for a federal prosecutor to bite down on.

Jason Collins (Rafi Gavron), the estranged son of John Matthews (Dwayne Johnson), agrees to help a friend out and hold onto a stash of ecstasy. Unfortunately for Jason, it was a set up and next thing you know, he’s in prison for a minimum of ten years. Do not pass go, do not collect two-hundred dollars. He could reduce his sentence, however, if he implicates someone that leads to an arrest. Sadly, the only drug dealer he knows is the very one that set him up. If you read the first paragraph, the rest of the story is pretty self-explanatory.

As far as the story goes, it completely fell short of decent. The pacing was sporadic, the action was sparse, and let’s face it, the lead was miscast. That last part really hurt what could have been a 3 star affair. From his Ram ‘tough’ 1500 down to his (I’m guessing) ‘Tough Solar’ G-Shock, everything screams ‘Tough S.O.B’. Even John Matthews is a hulking, beast of a man, not the unassuming construction company owner that we’re led to believe he is. However, I don’t think you can blame the casting company, considering the lead was also in the Producer’s chair. I’m assuming Johnson wanted to stretch his acting chops from his normal comedy and action affair. He’s getting better, but you can tell he was slightly out of his depth at times.

Daniel James (Jon Bernthal…Shane, for you Walking Dead fanatics) Bernthalcompletely dominated every scene he was in. Had he and Dwayne Johnson swapped roles, Snitch would have effortlessly gained a star at best (only hampered by the writing). James, an ex-con, was integral to Matthews’ scheme to free his son. However, he neglects to tell Matthews what’s going on, endangering both their families lives.

Considering Justin Haythe, the writer for Revolutionary Road, get’s co-writer credit for this, I’m really cringing to see what he did to the Lone Ranger. Unlike Revolutionary Road, however, Snitch isn’t a  complete snooze-fest, but it’s hardly an edge of your seat popcorn thriller either.

Enjoy at your peril.

Hotel Transylvania

Monday, October 1st, 2012

***

It sucked!It'll be on cable.I liked it.It was good!It was awesome!! (Give us your rating!!)
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Fun family romp that won’t make you zing!

Welcome to the hotel Transylvania (I can’t write that phrase without humming an all too familiar Eagles tune) where monsters come to enjoy themselves and not worry about humans chasing them with pitchforks and flaming torches – a getaway, if you will…for monsters. About a century ago, Dracula built this hotel for that exact reason, well, to be more precise, to have a place to raise his daughter, Mavis, safely. Unfortunately for him, she is now 118 years old (I see what they did there) and wants to explore the world. What does a father do to protect his only child from the general populace that hates vampires and their ilk? Not to mention how he can hide the human named Johnathan (Andy Samberg) who wandered into their midst…

For a father/daughter story, it was interesting that the majority of the film focused on Dracula and Johnathan, and the antics that ensued as he tried to cover up the human’s presence from the rest of the monsters. While the premise, hell, the TITLE, suggests this takes place in a hotel, you never get the sense that’s where the setting really is beyond the undead help or towards the end, especially since everyone that visits is there for Mavis’s birthday party. That nitpick aside, Hotel Transylvania is standard kiddy fare, giving very few nods the adult’s way. I can’t say it wasn’t enjoyable, and judging by the target audience’s (my daughter’s) faces, this one will have to go into my Blu-ray collection soon.

I’ve never been fond of Adam Sandler’s attempts at voices, even if his lack of ability is where the comedy is at. So it surprised me that one of them found a home in Dracula, and that I did not mind it one bit. While it not be ‘authentic’ vampire, it still passed muster for me. The rest of the voice acting was just fine. There wasn’t much required from the actors except to deliver their humor on cue.

If you expect the emotional depth of a Pixar film, you’ll be expecting too much, as this film takes a high dive into a kiddy pool where that is concerned. But if you go into it with no expectations, you might find yourself enjoying this one regardless.

The Campaign

Friday, August 10th, 2012

***

It sucked!It'll be on cable.I liked it.It was good!It was awesome!! (Give us your rating!!)
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In order to control their North Carolina district for capital gains, two CEO’s pit naive Marty Huggins (Zack Galifianakis) against long-term congressman Cam Brady (Will Ferrell) for office. Brady, who has run unopposed for many years, is annoyed to pull his career out of cruise control for the political battle to come. Huggins, an all around nice guy, loves his community and thinks the Motch brothers (which kept sounding like some people were pronouncing it ‘Marx’) are giving him the means to do so, employing underhanded campaign manager, Tim Wattley (Dylan McDermott), to ensure a victory.

Brady comes off as a not so smart, yet ferocious politician that is willing to go to whatever depths of hell in order to pull a win for his campaign. Unfortunately, his extremely competitive nature does him more harm than good on the heels of a sex scandal that opens his campaign. Ferrell plays this type of character to a T. I see no difference between Cam Brady, Ron Burgundy, Brennan Huff, or Ricky Bobby. They’re essentially all the same characters with a different focus. Luckily for Ferrell, I haven’t tired of the schtick just yet.

Huggins is a naive manager of the local Tourist Center who has allowed his long term aspirations for office to dwindle until the Motch brothers tap him for candidacy. Galifianakis plays the well meaning, eccentric Huggins well, with his bright-side mentality buoying his daily routines. While Brady’s humor comes from his impulsive and vulgar nature, Huggins’s are more from how he reacts to circumstances. The characters (and actors) play well off each other in that respect.

Motch brothers Glenn (John Lithgow) and Wade (Dan Aykroyd) want to bring big industry stateside so they can reap the profits of no longer having to pay for shipping from China. Sadly, that would mean having to pay higher wages to workers…unless they can get regulations in place to circumvent the employment laws. Other than the fact that there would be no movie, it didn’t make sense that the brothers didn’t just approach Cam Brady for this to begin with. Brady would have jumped on it in a heartbeat, given his impulsive nature. Still, it would be odd to do political satire without some big business pulling all the strings on a candidate. Lithgow and Aykroyd aren’t anything special, not that it was required of them in their limited puppet master roles.

While The Campaign examines corruption, poor political sportsmanship and underhanded big business influence from a satirical perspective, it doesn’t fail to squeeze at least a chuckle from the audience when it wants to. For those of you champing at the bit for this year’s elections, The Campaign should whet your appetite for the main course in November.

The Watch

Sunday, July 29th, 2012

**½

It sucked!It'll be on cable.I liked it.It was good!It was awesome!! (Give us your rating!!)
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One lame film . . . two reviews

Alyn Darnay’s review:

I came, I saw, I laughed, and then I forgot it. That’s how you have to tackle Ben Stiller’s newest film “The Watch”. You go for the few Big Laughs, chuckle at the smaller ones, and forget about the superficial plot. This one is far from Stiller’s best, certainly not in the league of the Museum Films. Really the true joy in the film is watching the four main characters (Stiller, Vaughn, Hill, and Avoade) inter-act. They are obviously friends in real life, having a great time making a film together. It’s sad that it doesn’t all work the way they thought it would.

Here’s the story line: Stiller, the manager of a small town Costco Store somewhere in Ohio, returns to open his store one morning only to find his friend the night watchman dead, sans skin. He forms a Neighborhood Watch Group with three other mundane losers to solve and avenge the murder. When they accidentally discover that their town has become overrun with aliens posing as ordinary suburbanites, they have no choice but to save their neighborhood (and the world) from alien extermination.

A less than brilliant concept, that could have used a comic writer or two to redraft it a few more times before the camera’s started rolling. I fault director Akiva Schaffer with the result, because even though the interchanges between actors (Stiller & Vaughn for example) are sharp and fast and work well, the overall timing of the film needed work, it’s too stilted to maintain the comedic level it struggles to rise to. There are too many starts and stops in the forward motion to really get into the action.

As with all these stupid and insipid films, there is some inspired humor at work here to save the film from being an exercise in ‘time-suck’. The performers, most comedy film veterans, do the best with what they have to work with. I particularly enjoyed Jonah Hill, who is having a blast here as the misunderstood, brain deficit pseudo bad boy, trying to look worse with a flipping knife. I should also mention Richard Avoade whose character is a study of uncomfortable, bumbling, and distracted loser.

If you’re looking for a quick laugh or two, and you don’t mind waiting for them, or if watching Stiller and Vaughn act dumb does it for you, then this is your film. If you don’t like either option, wait for the DVD release.

Amadarwin’s review:

Evan Trautwig (Ben Stiller) is a very busy man as a manager of Costco and his community career as a club starter. Managing various clubs including the Running Club and the German Club, it’s no surprise that he becomes the catalyst to starting a new group by forming the neighborhood watch after a gruesome murder of a night security guard at the Costco he manages. Unfortunately, his new endeavor gets off to a shaky start as only three people show up: Bob (Vince Vaughn), who has an unruly teenaged daughter; Franklin (Jonah Hill), an emotionally disturbed police force reject; and Jamarcus (Richard Ayoade), a recent divorcee who just wants his balls sucked by an asian woman. To make matters worse, none of them seem too interested in Evan’s vision, and instead are determined to drink and hang out in Bob’s man cave.

If you’ve seen the previews, then you already know they get more than they bargain for when they discover an alien conspiracy set to go off right in the middle of their beloved town. I won’t get too much further than that, because the story is pretty straight forward and not surprising in the least, even with the twist.

The four comedians played well off each other, powering through the story with their pooled comedic talents. Stiller, as always, has the straight man down, while Vaughn and Hill’s frantic stylings left plenty of room for Ayoade’s flavor. If you haven’t heard of Richard Ayoade before, you should check out The IT Crowd.

While there were funny moments in The Watch, it falls way short of Stiller’s other comedic offerings like Meet the Parents or There’s Something About Mary, and is more in line with Zoolander, though not quite as ridiculous. It’s sad, really, considering two thirds of the writers were involved in Pineapple Express and the final third had a hand in Bolt – two movies I really enjoyed. Is this movie a turd? I’d say not. You could definitely do worse in theatres, especially if Ted’s still playing anywhere near you. I know I’d rather watch a foul-mouthed teddy bear than what amounted to a 101 minute ad for Costco.

Ice Age: Continental Drift

Friday, July 13th, 2012

**½

It sucked!It'll be on cable.I liked it.It was good!It was awesome!! (2 People gave this 3.00 out of 5)
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The Ice Age franchise was always lukewarm for me. While watchable, the stories were never compelling, and the characters were never anything special. Except for Scrat. Everyone loves that wayward saber-toothed squirrel obsessed with acorns.

It’s no different in this latest installment of this bland franchise as we follow Scrat’s antics to the core of the Earth where he sets the stage of the film by ripping Pangea asunder while giving chase to the ever elusive acorn.

Which brings us to the main characters of our story. Peaches (Keke Palmer) is a teenager now, and wants to hang with the ‘cool kids,’ most notably, Ethan (Drake), who she crushes on horribly. Manny (Ray Romano) jumps into the over-protective father role and wants to keep her near the herd at all times. Of course, they butt heads, and Peaches rolls out the hate carpet, widening the gap in their relationship. Right on cue, the continental rift separates them better than their words can, and Manny, Diego (Dennis Leary), Sid (John Leguizamo) and Sid’s toothless granny (Wanda Sykes) find themselves drifting to sea on an ice floe and away from Peaches and the others. All isn’t fine on the mainland though, as Peaches and her mother Ellie (Queen Latifah) find themselves in the path of a moving landmass. Their only hope is to meet Manny and crew at the land bridge where they pray they’ll be safe, that’s if the pirates don’t get in Manny’s way.

IA:CD is a fairly linear story, with little room to develop as it went on. The father/daughter sub-plot seemed way too contrived, and really wasn’t needed to advance the story. If it wasn’t so shoe-horned in, it would have made it more believable, but I guess the writers felt they needed something to base the physical metaphor of the rift on. It seemed that at least they knew when they would lose the audience, because they peppered Scrat’s own storyline at pretty accurate intervals to keep me, at least, interested. Obviously, this film was not for me, based on how often it pandered to the children, but I don’t think it’s too much to ask that a film truly entertain both parents and kids alike. Disney and Pixar do it quite often, so I know it can be done.

My kids gave it a 5 out of 5 stars, if that’s any indicator of how much yours will enjoy the film. Oddly enough, I would say that the 4th incarnation of this franchise rivals the 1st as the best of series. That said, wait to get this one on video and take your kids to see Brave instead.

This Means War

Friday, February 17th, 2012

**½

It sucked!It'll be on cable.I liked it.It was good!It was awesome!! (Give us your rating!!)
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A mindless bromantic comedy


Look, it’s Kirk’s Nemesis? – A Swift Thought

Girls, you may want to avoid this one, as This Means War wasn’t made for you. Not entirely. The first clue is the opening scene where we meet our intrepid heroes Tuck (Tom Hardy) and FDR (Chris Pine) at the tail end of their covert operation. Unfortunately, they forget to put the ‘c’ in ‘covert’ and the ensuing chaos has them end up riding the pine in the Los Angeles branch of the CIA offices until further notice, where boredom reigns supreme. FDR, a known lady-killer, and Tuck, a divorcee, are best friends as well as partners, so when Tuck decides to hit the dating scene again, FDR offers to gladly be his wing man. However, the closest Tuck will allow is a quick phone call to let FDR know if he needs an extraction or not.

What follows is a little perplexing. Maybe I’m so far gone from the dating scene that what transpired seemed odd and in reality is perfectly normal, or maybe the writers had no concept of a first date at all. Enter Lauren Scott (Reese Witherspoon), a product tester/blogger with a firm grasp of her professional life and no grasp of her romantic one. Against her will, her confidante and best friend, Trish (Chelsea Handler) signs her up for a dating site that pairs her with Tuck, resulting in a 5-10 minute first date that to me seemed more like a meeting. Although the attraction is instant and the pair enjoys each other’s company, Lauren tears herself away so that she could…rent a video to watch alone? Never mind we’re to believe that in 2012 there’s still a ginormous video store conveniently located near the ‘meeting’ site, but we’re also to believe that she’d rather watch a movie by her lonesome than possibly catch a bite to eat with a man she finds incredibly attractive despite his gigantic protruding tooth? Of course we are.

Movie serendipity, also known as “convenient writing,” steps in so that Lauren can meet bachelor number two. At where else? The movie rental place. Despite calling the player on his game and putting up the Great Wall of China, Lauren finds herself accidentally pitting the two friends together by dating them both. In the face of a gentleman’s agreement on the best man winning, all hell breaks loose as both CIA agents use every government-funded resource at their disposal to spy on Lauren, and one another, to ensure neither get the upper hand.

Once you get into the shenanigans, you can ignore the contrived plot devices and shut off your brain as the action picks up. Director McG (sounds more like a DJ by the way) may try to convince the ladies that this is a standard romantic comedy, but I’m here to tell you that is completely false. It sails more on the bromantic comedy side of things as we quickly come to realize that the story is about two friends who put their friendship to the ultimate test only to find out that they truly belong together…In a non-gay way, of course.

Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

It becomes clearer that this is more bromantic at the climax, where – shocker! – Lauren learns of the two’s friendship, but instead of the typical rom-com trappings where we have to endure 10 minutes of sadness, pining, and profuse apologies followed by a heartfelt wowing speech that had us at ‘Hello,’ we’re met with explosions and stunt work . . . not that there is anything wrong with that!

As vapid as this movie was, I enjoyed it for the popcorn-flick it turned out to be. So guys, if you want to avoid another romantic comedy with your gals, take them to This Means War . . . and enjoy pulling the wool over their eyes.

Chronicle

Saturday, February 4th, 2012

***

It sucked!It'll be on cable.I liked it.It was good!It was awesome!! (2 People gave this 4.50 out of 5)
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Growing up a bonafide comic geek, my circle of friends would occasionally pose the question: What powers would you want to have? It was always a gas to hear the reasoning behind the power choices. One of my favorites discussed was the power to manipulate time…usually for criminal and perverted acts. My choices were varied at first, from super strength, to invisibility, and finally settling on Telekinesis. It was the one power that seemed limitless. You want to lift a car? Done. You want to fly? Done. You want to stay dry in the rain? Done. I could go on, but I’ll assume you get the picture. When tasked to see Chronicle, of course I jumped at the opportunity.

Until I realized it was a ‘found footage’ film, which meant shaky camera shots, poor composition, and weird angles that may or may not get the scene. So, yeah, I’m not a big fan.

I found myself pleasantly surprised, however, when watching Chronicle. Sure, there was every aspect that I hated about ‘found footage films’ present front and center; however, I think it was handled fairly well, and thankfully only a fairly short amount of time was spent on the hand held aspect of the cam. Once the boys get their powers, the shots get smoother, as one of them uses their Telekinetic ability to keep the cam afloat. Ingenious.

The other issue I had was that the plot might have been taken from a 2002 film called The Surge (or The Source, depending on where you’re from.) That movie was about a group of friends that stumble onto a rock in the forest that imbues them with powers – not at all dissimilar from Chronicle. Thankfully, that’s about all they share as the stories they tell branch off sharply from there.

As the boys fine tune their powers, all kinds of shenanigans ensue. Unfortunately, for those of us that previously had watched the trailers online and on TV, there won’t be many surprises coming that way. The hilarity doesn’t last long; however, as Andrew (Dane DeHaan, who incidentally, looks strikingly like he could be Leonardo DiCaprio’s brother) allows his home life and school life to affect his increasingly reckless behavior, boiling to the inevitable pulse pounding showdown between friends.

Chronicle does a passable job in creating a sympathetic villain in Andrew. He’s bullied at school, his father is abusive, his mother is terminally ill, and he barely has any friends. The pieces were in place, but the execution seemed lacking, as the only sympathy I could muster for him was superficial at best. His relationship with his mom was never solidified, or portrayed deep enough for you to see how he felt about her. There were glimpses, but nothing that convinced me his descent into madness was believable. Likewise with the abusive father. I got the impression the abuse was only recent, as his father was unable to cope with his wife’s ailment and recent job loss, but the resentment Andrew shows would indicate a longer stint as a punching bag than I’d imagined.

Those few hiccups aside, I enjoyed Chronicle. The story was good, and the way they altered camera shots to piece together the story kept it interesting. The special effects delivered most of the time, though there were a few noticeable missteps. And the acting was well done, considering how difficult it is to act like you’re not acting. All the boys handled that task well.

If you were on the fence about seeing Chronicle, hop off it now and go see it. You could do worse at the theater.

Contagion

Thursday, September 8th, 2011

*½

It sucked!It'll be on cable.I liked it.It was good!It was awesome!! (4 People gave this 3.25 out of 5)
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Stop touching your face!

How many times does the average person touch their face? Check it out, here: Wiki Answers & ChaCha.Com (yes, only two places…I’m lazy) the consensus agrees that the average person touches their face three to five times every waking minute. So that means on the high side, subtracting eight hours for sleep, the average person is touching their face a whopping four thousand, eight hundred times a day! Think about it…how many times have you touched your face today? What did you touch prior to that? Money? A doorknob? Toilet lid? Lightswitch? A pen? Your keys? Someone else? You get the picture – germs get transmitted easily through your touch. If you want a better picture, check out the Mythbuster’s episodes where they test the dirtiest items in a home.

Contagion predicates itself on this consensus, opening our story on day two of the outbreak with our first known victim, Beth Emhoff (Gwyneth Paltrow), who just returned from Hong Kong on a business trip. Her husband, Mitch Emhoff (Matt Damon) and son Clark (Griffin Kane) are both exposed but we soon find out that Mitch is immune. The story branches from there involving the CDC, most prominantly Dr. Ellis Cheever (Laurence Fishburne), Dr. Erin Mears (Kate Winslet) and Dr. Ally Hextall (Jennifer Ehle). Rattling the CDC and the government cages, is blogger/writer and rabble rouser Alan Krumwiede who is dead set to blow his percieved government conspiracy wide open while making moves to cash in on the ground floor with a publicized cure. There are some other branches of story I won’t even touch, because in the end, it was all pointless.

I sat there feeling like I was watching a movie for the entire one hundred five minute run-time. For me, that’s a bad thing. I like to watch movies to be engaged, to be sucked in almost as if I were part of the story rather than a spectator. Sure, there was drama, and there was some suspense, but anything not directly pertaining to the impending epidemic at hand was just trite bullshit fluff that left me comfortably nowhere near the edge of my seat. For me, Contagion falls flat on its ass in that regard, just like the Oscar-winning Traffic did, which is no surprise as director Steven Soderbergh managed to lay a golden turd with that one. No doubt, his bowels are moving for a repeat.

Yoou mussst sssave uss!

Diatribe aside, there are a few bright spots of Contagion. The opening infection path montage was nicely done, and Matt Damon takes a hearty step into his non-Bourne Identity and plays the limited role of Mitch Emhoff very well. Another notable, though not on purpose, is Enrico Colantioni who plays Dennis French, a bureaucratic agent of some sort. He was notable in that I could not separate him from one of his previous roles – that of Mathesar (Galaxy Quest).

Every time he came onscreen I kept picturing him saying, “You must save us,” with that flaccid humor inducing smile to whichever person he was addressing. Jude Law is also convincing with his portrayal of a typical dirt digging conspiracy theorist/reporter that provides one of my favorite lines in the movie, ringing the death nell of print media.

In the end, while it was a good attempt, the multiple threaded storyline detracts what could have been a solid movie. Sadly, I think there will be some Oscar nods for this fluff, but the only thing Contagion can really be applauded for is its feast on people’s paranoia. Purell’s bottom line will make some executives happy in the next few months, I’m sure.