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Showing posts from June, 2010

It Sucks Being a Toy

Movie Review: Toy Story 3 (2010)
Spoilers: none

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Technology keeps raising the bar in movie animation just like it does in the making of video games. It's damn hard for me to accept the fact that side-scrolling games like Ninja Gaiden (Arcade Version) which came out when I was in high school wouldn't be popular if it were released today. Even so, Hanna-Barbera-style art has fallen out of favor in exactly the same way. We expect more from our animation.

Fanciful CGI work has become the norm and more loved than the classics of the last 50 years of movies. To think that an entire generation doesn't understand why Gone With The Wind was a great film is rather sad, but the same generation understands that CGI-produced characters can act better than real actors. That point is undisputed since CGI “actors” are the result of going back and tweaking the smirks and nods and every little blink of the eyes unto perfection.

Toy Story 3 is as impressive as anything you’ve seen from Pixar…

When Voices Carry

Movie Title: Alphonso Bow (2010)
Spoilers: none

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What opens with an oddly out-of-the-box music selection and an urban drive in Los Angeles to a restaurant is merely a stage-setter for where the rest of the movie will take place.

Alphonso Bow is about two very different friends who meet at On The Border and talk. The entire movie takes place in the restaurant. They get lunch and they ramble on about the same worn-out topics like two close friends or siblings would over a beer or a cup of coffee. The value, which can seem so pitifully non-existent in the vessel of a movie, must be appreciated at least on a sentimental level.

These two friends, Frank (Michael “Changeling” Dempsey) and Alphonso Bow (Michael “The Nine” Pierce), have a very patient waitress (Kasey Buckley) in a restaurant with a way-too-careful-not-to-offend management that is hesitant to say anything to their loud, obnoxious guests whose voices carry. They should say something—you keep waiting for them to do so. Then the t…

Superficial in the City 2

Movie Review: Sex in the City 2 (2010)
Spoilers: none

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The girls are back in town in Sex in the City 2, featuring - among other attractive stars - Sarah Jessica Parker, that woman who appears to be the perfect cross-over between a seductress and a horse.

This silly and superficial ensemble is almost sure to disappoint even the most adoring fans, with its sluggish and weak-as-soup storyline that never alleviates the painfully slow pacing.

There are guest appearances by Miley Cyrus and Ron White, but all the star power in the eastern hemisphere wouldn't stop this film from needing to be cut into fourths to make watching it more endurable.

Watch and you're sure to be annoyed by crying babies, women who don't know what they want, girl spats, bouncing nannies without bras, suspicions of infidelity, and frivolous wardrobe changes with almost every scene.

Many segments of the film could have been salvaged with some trimming, but when Samantha (Kim Cattrall) gets her girlfriends an a…

CGI and Talking Animals at the Expense of Quality

Movie Review: Marmaduke (2010)
Spoilers: none

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It's talking animals once again in Marmaduke, the story of a big, clumsy Great Dane that, along with Phil Winslow (Lee Pace) and family, moves to Orange County, California. Phil is a dog food sales promoter and the proud owner of a large and undisciplined Great Dane named Marmaduke. 

Marmaduke narrates and talks...too much, which doesn't make a lot of sense since the original Marmaduke cartoon's dog never did. Marmaduke the movie is a failure as a comedy that will only generate laughs with very young children, and is not so much based on the comic as much as the fans might be expecting, but is a gaseous and goofy exploration of canine fun for young audiences that the directors obviously didn't think too highly of.

The movie is a cheap attempt to use CGI to create yet another talking animal kid's story, which is more about the dogs than it is the kids in a film that practically begs to be bashed by critics everywhere. N…

Jake: The Legend and the Feline Angel

The above may seem a bold headline for someone to write who doesn't believe in angels. I'm not going to make up the existence of angels, my readers know, even in the interests of appealing fiction. But I'm also not going to make up this story you are about to hear of a wonderful part of my past. The story deserves telling. It is something I want to make sure gets passed along in the cruelly shunning stream of time.

I've never been a die-hard cat-lover, but I've made several exceptions in my time, the first one being the most precious of them all—my childhood cat, Jake. She was as close to a guardian angel as this teaming-with-life planet could offer me. Jake was a pure-blooded Siamese goddess if ever there was one. You may not have known her, but she was a legend on a few streets in one small neighborhood in my old neck of the woods in San Antonio.

Jake came around just before I was born. In January of 1973, a neighbor who my parents barely knew informed them tha…

The Ninjas Have Gone. The Karate Crazies Remain.

Movie Review: The Karate Kid (2010)
Spoilers: none

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2010's remake of The Karate Kid proves it: Have a good-looking black kid, make the music black, and give the kid a more outspoken black mom and you can expect the movie to be a better catch with the youth. But in a movie that owes its very existence to an older and better film, we must not be superficial in our judgment.

So I won't be concerned in my review with what seemed to be worth mentioning to some critics, like that the movie should have been called "The Kung Fu Kid" since young Dre Parker (Jaden Smith) learns Kung Fu instead of Karate, or that Mr. Han (Jackie Chan) doesn't look good with facial hair. But some things we just can't ignore, like Dre's hairstyle.

Smith is cool and convincing with or without that hair, but it's there, hanging off his head, just to remind viewers born after 1995 that he's open – or at least not against – weed-smoking (if not now, then some day). It likewise ser…

Splice

Movie Title: Splice (2010)
Spoilers: none

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The word "splice" is a notably strong word. And for this review, instead of providing my usual given titles, I will let this one stand alone. It deserves to, not unlike the film itself, which stands proudly on its own two feet. In the context of the movie, splicing refers to the splicing of DNA from different animals to create new forms of life.

As it stands, this lofty-sounding, B-movie-ish, Sci-fi idea is not impossible or a crazy exaggeration, and it should not be ridiculed. Indeed, it is done and has been done for some years, making the premise eerily believable, and therefore, more enticing to tinker with in the name of mildly disturbing entertainment. And as shocking and unbelievable as the idea may have sounded to our grandparents, the light shock value it possesses has nothing to do with things while the issue of biomedical ethics and the debate on human cloning has everything to do with it.

Hard at work in white - and for s…

Get Us to the Drugs

Movie Review: Get Him to the Greek (2010)
Spoilers: none

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Jonah Hill plays a record company intern looking to get ahead in the incredible (albeit poorly titled) summer comedy, Get Him to the Greek.

As Aaron Green, Hill has the increasingly frustrating task of getting an out-of-control, hard-partying rock-star from London to Greek stadium in L.A. to perform within the tight space of 72 hours.

The almost has-been rocker, Aldous Snow (Russell Brand), is an egocentric, sex-addicted drug-user whose life has long since spiraled into a mess of repetitive, self-destructive behaviors. Searching for a meaning to his wild and wayward existence, he meets Green and finds a most unlikely friend.

While hands-down managing to stake claim as one of the funniest films of the year by far, Get Him to the Greek is also a contender for “Most Raunchy Comedy of the Decade,” as it pulls no punches in being especially endearing to college partiers, drunks, acid-heads, and all-round junkies of every caliber.

As…

A-Team. C-Movie.

Movie Title: The A-Team (2010)
Spoilers: none

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2010's A-Team isn't exactly an “A-movie.” And it isn't a “B-movie” either, not in quality or in grade. The budget was big ($110,000,000) and the fluff therefrom can be seen. The A-Team has something going for it, but it gets a C.

Joe Carnahan's A-Team is a grievously twitchy work, but it does what every 80s remake this side of the 21st century does—exploits the sensibilities of audiences with the heavy use of nostalgia. Some of us are nostalgia junkies. And consider that using precious memories to win points with a wider percentage of audiences is not a dumb marketing strategy. Consider why...

First, you have those who saw, knew, and loved the TV show growing up. They will unquestionably love the movie, being that they are the primary target audience. Second, you have the kids and everyone else too young to have seen the series. They will appreciate the movie because it is something new (to them) and has enough action to mak…

The Title Stands Out. The Movie Does Not.

Movie Review: Killers (2010)
Spoilers: none

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Killers is a 2010 Action-Comedy starring Ashton Kutcher and Katherine Heigl, focusing on the life of Jen Kornfeldt, a recently broken-up young woman from a well-to-do family who meets Spencer Aimes (Kutcher), the guy of her dreams in France. But things get complicated when she finds out that her knight in shining armor also happens to be a foreign spy.

This low-profile comedy is good enough never to rely on clich├ęs and always to buy and trade on the richly nourishing supply of good chemistry and naturally aspiring performances. Ashton is more of a mature charmer than he's ever been, with a brand new look, and with Heigl as a sensational match-up.

As Jen's insensitively blunt but keen-minded father, Mr. Kornfeldt (Tom Selleck) is not as much of a submissive pushover as in the Magnum P.I. days. Pretty boy actors are often given rotten roles. It's refreshing to find Selleck in a part that fits his rougher, foreign looks and sophist…

When Aladdin Met Indiana Jones

Movie Title: Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time (2010)
Spoilers: none

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Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, directed by Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire's Mike Newell, is one of the best video game movies I've seen. Don't get excited. That is simply to say that I am no worse off for watching it, which can't be said of most video game films. The same can be said, for instance, of 2008’s Max Payne. Just call this one a cross between Aladdin and Indiana Jones and you've pretty much nailed it.

Alone in the Dark (2005), Super Mario Brothers (1993), and Double Dragon (1994) were loathsome accomplishments that will never see the light of day in terms of knowing movie success, or accomplishing simpler things, like...you know...just being semi-entertaining. Prince of Persia has the entertaining part down in a cast of good characters and motivated, chemistry-laden performers who go so far as to care about the parts they play. Aside from being white people in a dark-skinn…

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It's a Wonderful Life + Back to the Future + the Color Green = Shrek Forever After

Movie Review: Shrek Forever After (2010)
Spoilers: No

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Fortified with vivid voice-work from a celebrity-stocked cast, Shrek Forever After follows in the footsteps of three previous films, all of them but one being clearly superior to this film. This one, we are told, will be the last installment in the series—and that – dear readers – is a good thing. 

The only monumental flaw in this could-have-been positively charming endeavor is its plot, an audacious rip-off of It's a Wonderful Life, and believe it or not, Back to the Future. Add a little something (or big something) green and you have this inferior end to a now magic-drained fantasy. The novelty of the 2001 film has long since worn off.

Shrek (Mike Myers) has fallen into a routine of being “the good ogre” and misses simpler times when humans were terrified of the big, green monsters. In despair and frustrated with his plain life of husband and father, he strikes a deal with Rumpelstiltskin (Walt Dorn) in which he gives away a …