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Showing posts from July, 2010

SALT

Movie Review: SALT (2010)
Spoilers: none

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Spy fascinations go much further when the spy looks like Angelina Jolie, as is the case in SALT, starring Jolie as Evelyn Salt, a CIA officer whose loyalty is put to the ultimate test when a defector accuses her of being a Russian spy. When her own government sets out to get her, she finds herself on the run and under fire.

Jolie, who seems especially invested in her character, puts on an outrageous and cutting performance in comparison to the many wanting ones we get from everyone else in the film, who seem to showcase a rather noticeable lack of character development and shallow writing.

The continual flashbacks of Salt to her past only hint at dramas and internal conflicts from earlier times, but things remain void of meaty plot-twists and a much-needed emotional spark that never comes. Without that spark, Jolie comes off more like the Terminator than a female version of Jack Bauer.

While SALT is set back by a few significant script-based pr…

The Animated Mops Were Still Better

Movie Review: The Sorcerer's Apprentice (2010)
Spoilers: none

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I guess we shouldn't be surprised by the fact that the spell to raise an army of the undead to conquer the living can be pulled right out of an apparently ordinary spell book, along with many other pages with many other spells on them, and that this book is kept in a wizard's ordinary library, with what seem to be plainly ordinary sorcery books.

Wouldn't such a spell deserve being kept in a vault deep under the earth to prevent the forces of wickedness from getting a hold of it? Apparently, the powerful and just Merlin didn't think that was necessary. But that is the bare-bones fact behind the plot of Disney's The Sorcerer's Apprentice, which follows more than 8 Disney shorts and scores of other spins-offs made from the foundation of the 1797 Goethe poem.

The film wastes no time in getting into the anatomy of the story it so hastily introduced with soundly impressive narration in the opening seg…

Water and Fireballs, Karate Poses...Oh, Not This!

Movie Review: The Last Airbender (2010)
Spoilers: none

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The Last Airbender has the grace and class of a skinny, sweaty, pale, off-his-meds schizophrenic man putting on a martial arts display in the middle of an intersection in a major metropolitan area. It comes as close as a movie can possibly come to being a textbook definition example of a grandiosely bad movie. And that's not grinding an ax.

When trying to keep its puny legs from buckling under the enormous weight of its would-be-aspiring and epic plot, it foolishly resolves to not be concerned about the fact that its muscles will just never be that strong. The content is thrown up in our faces way too fast, and as it was drawn out properly, was enough for three seasons-worth of cable programming, involving Asian folklore and an astrological-supernatural TV adaptation.

Most of the dialogue sounds like it was taken in heavy portions from an astrology encyclopedia—that or two geeks arguing over who put a fear spell on who first.…

Don't Bank at the Bank of Evil? Mr. Gru Does!

Movie Review: Despicable Me (2010)
Spoilers: none

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Despicable Me
, with the voice talents of Steve Carell and Will Arnett, is like The Grinch Stole Christmas, but made for any other time of year, the primary character being Gru (Steve Carell, voice), a shady-eyed, world-class villain who makes it his all to be the best villain in the history of humankind. He fails not to strive to make mom (Julie Andrews, voice) happy with the same accomplishments. 

And he's almost there, being surpassed at the start only by one villain named Vector (Jason Segel, voice) whose calling card as of late has been to steal the great pyramids and replace them with life-sized blow-up models.

Outdone, Gru has for years made it his mission to steal the moon in precisely the same fashion. In order to do that, he needs a shrinking ray, which in order to get, he needs a loan from the Bank of Evil. Yes, in this caricature-ishly cute universe, outlaw villains have their own bank and lenders reserved just for them.…

The Full Meaning May Eclipse Me

Movie Review: The Twilight Saga: Eclipse (2010)
Spoilers: none

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Some may by now want to drive a stake through the heart of the Twilight series. Others passionately may not. Either way, no one can deny the far-reaching affect of what Twilight has become—a semi-erotic sensation for the young, the lonely, the misunderstood, for the discarded looking for love, probably in the absence of it.

With the choppy and uneasy arrival of the first in the series, we were taken aback by the crafting, which made it fit only for 13-year-olds convinced that nobody understood them. The very long but slightly improved second film added some dimension to its viewing demographic and gained a debatable increase in respect—more so than it lost in powerfully portraying (if in a very manipulative sort of way) the fragility of emotions.

Twilight Saga: Eclipse again raises the bar in continuing to garner admirers while expanding its value in content. The first two movies were only praise-worthy for hitting dead-cen…

Predators (but the Movie is the Prey)

Movie Title: Predators (2010)
Spoilers: none

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I didn’t enjoy watching Predators. I didn’t expect it to be great, but it calls for repeating that I didn’t enjoy watching it. What could as well stand to be repeated is that the Predator creation is a more than remarkable work of science fiction, utilizing so many enticing elements of Darwinism, and even some alien cultural anthropology. How many of us, having ever picked up a philosophy book or having watched with remote interest the Science Channel, could not be fascinated by at least hearing about these topics?

The Predator race is a race of big-brained animals, competitive beings that, so far as we know, live for the hunt and the kill. Such things are sacred to their kind, the two hallmarks on which their ethics are built. Not many of us are suckers for ethics, but a lot of us are admirers of Predator.

First, there was Predator (1987) and then the less impressive but no-slouching Predator II (1990). Since then, we’ve had the unworthy A…

What The "Hex" Am I Watching?

Movie Review: Jonah Hex (2010)
Spoilers: none

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Josh Brolin and John Malkovich star in Jonah Hex, a revenge/action thriller that takes place during the presidency of Ulysses S. Grant.

A formidable army veteran-turned-terrorist, Quentin Turnbull (Malkovich) has lost his way. In his plot to destabilize the young United States through incendiary, secretive government technology, the only worthy opponent is one man, Jonah Hex (Brolin), who stands able and ready to oppose him.

The scarred-for-life, hungry-for-vengeance vigilante killer with a cryptic necromantic gift is offered a clean record in exchange for taking down Turnbull, and thus, securing the nation. Hex's close brush with death bestows upon him the ability to make contact with the damned in the spirit world and “pump” them for information.

The original Hex character storyline in the comics may have done well at churning up fears of contacting the impudent dead as they await roasting, in fear of approaching hellhounds, in the c…

Grown Ups: a “Shrunk Down” Comedy

Movie Review: Grown Ups (2010)
Spoilers: none

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What opens up to a recreation of a 1978 school basketball game is prelude to a tenuously-delivered series of put-downs and awkward interactions between the main characters: Lenny Feder (Adam Sandler), Eric Lamonsoff (Kevin James), Kurt McKenzie (Chris Roc), Marcus Higgins (David Spade), and Rob Hilliard (Rob Schneider), all of whom are childhood best friends who grew up, got married, and then got the tragic news that their childhood coach passed away. This is where Grown Ups takes off.

Reuniting at dear old coach's funeral, it is supposed to be a somber occasion, a time for everyone to say goodbye to a childhood mentor who meant so much to these guys who were kids some 30 years back and hadn't seen him in all that time. While I can't see kids being this attached to a childhood authority figure they hadn't seen in forever, I certainly cannot see how 2010's Death at a Funeral didn't teach us anything about unleashing…

No Shining Armor, Just a Knight

Movie Title: Knight and Day (2010)
Spoilers: none

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Director James Mangold brings you Knight and Day, an action-based romantic comedy where June Havens (Cameron Diaz), an ordinary woman looking forward to her sister's wedding, crosses paths with the dangerous Roy Miller (Tom Cruise), a government agent who appears to have gone rogue.

With praiseworthy fight scenes (ah, finally someone shows us how it's done in the year 2010!) and enticing action shots that DON'T rely on camera shaking, the abounding chemistry between Diaz and Cruise is not to be taken lightly. It is never less than noticeable and is only not immediately visible when Cruise is fighting on a plane and kicking the mother-lovin' rumps of government agents sent to take him, or when he is being chased and leaping from car to car as easily as you or I walk to the bathroom to take a tinkle. 

You, the viewer, get to see unbelievable stunts successfully done with off-timed compliments given in conversations happe…