Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Tuesday's With Movies: 5/28/13

Dark Skies: The only thing I know about this movie is Keri Russell staring out the window and the bird flying directly into it. But, it looks to be the horror film of the week - so enjoy you horror buffs. I however will continue to stay away.

The Numbers Station: I saw this on a preview of some DVD I watched awhile back and was intrigued - but then saw nothing about it again. Then, not long ago, I watched another DVD and saw that it was coming out. Not sure if this ever landed in a theater anywhere, or if it was a direct to DVD launch, but at some point I think I may check it out.

Generation Um...: Wow, this looks extremely bad. Has Keanu Reeves fallen this low? I seriously hope he was doing the filmmaker a favor by working on this. The name alone, although it did intrigue me, is not a great name for a film. Staying away.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Theater Review: Iron Man 3

I have to say it was pretty smart of Marvel to drop an Iron Man film as the first to follow last year's Avengers.

Iron Man was a surprise hit in 2008 and Robert Downey, Jr. became both Tony Stark and Iron Man - his quote at the conclusion of the first film was perfect, "I am Iron Man!".

But, as much as the original film was a surprise hit, it feels like Iron Man 2 was a bit of a let down to many movie goers. Sure, it was definitely a step backwards - especially since the villain was actually much better, but Whiplash was never really the villain he should have and could have been.

Plus, the main reason for Iron Man 2 was to pretty much setup The Avengers film - with the introduction of Black Widow and Nick Fury inviting Tony to join the Avengers Initiative.

So, now we have Iron Man 3.

I would probably put it somewhere between the original and its sequel. I feel it was better than the last one, but still can't live up to the first.

Since the events that happened in New York in the Avengers, Tony has had trouble sleeping - and has spent that time creating new and different Iron Man suits. His relationship with Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow) continues to grow, but Tony's issues that he gained after almost dying in the alien invasion have strained it somewhat.

In a flashback, we learn that Tony spent a night with Maya Hansen (Rebecca Hall) and also blew off Aldrich Killian (Guy Pearce), who wanted to speak to him about an experiment he is working on.

Killian, now with a new backer, returns to Stark Industries - this time speaking to the new person in charge, Potts. But, like Tony before her, she turns him down because of the ability to possibly weaponize is product.

Over seas, a terrorist much like Osama bin Laden, is threatening the United States and he goes by the Mandarin (Ben Kinglsey). After Happy Hogan (Jon Favreau) is injured during an apparent attack by the Mandarin, Tony tells him to come after him at his home - and he does.

With Stark's home destroyed - and feared dead - he is flown to Tennessee by his suit, until it loses all of its power. Tony teams up with Harley Keener (Ty Simpkins) to track down information on some of the attacks that have been happening, and to also recharge the Iron Man suit.

After the Mandarin steals Iron Patriot - formerly War Machine - from James Rhodes (Don Cheadle) so that he can kidnap the president (after already kidnapping Pepper) - Rhodes and Tony team up 80s-cop style to rescue them both and put a stop to the Mandarin once and for all.

Pretty tough to recap this without giving things away - but I think I did. Some great surprises happen, which I honestly did not see coming.

Best parts of the film, hands down, are the interactions between Stark and the kid. It was pretty darn funny and the kid held his own pretty well with Downey, Jr. Second has to be the final battle scene.

I am not giving anything away here because it is shown in the trailer - but Stark has really not been sleeping much and he has created a ton of new suits - some of which do many different things.

The culmination has all of them coming together to take down the Mandarin and help Rhodes and Stark rescue Potts and the president (William Sadler).

If this is the final Iron Man film, it went out pretty well. The story was wrapped up in a nice bow - but it felt like there was also more to tell if it continued.

Downey, Jr. is in the renegotiating phase with Marvel for his salary to continue as Tony Stark - which no doubt will be for Avengers 2 and Avengers 3. As more and more standalone features are announced, Iron Man has not been one of them. And, I don't have a problem with that - I am fine with him continuing to just be part of Avengers and maybe cameo in other films along the way.

But, this film made a butt-load of money and I doubt Marvel (and Disney) will just stop altogether leaving this much money on the table. It's obvious people still love their Iron Man - and if they can get Downey, Jr. under contract - I really expect another film in the future.


Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Tuesday's With Movies: 5/21/13

Side Effects: The takeover of Channing Tatum continues, here with a Steven Soderbergh film. He joins fores with the Dragon Tattoo-girl herself, Rooney Mara. Looks like it might be a decent film, will probably give it a shot.

Beautiful Creatures: A film about witches - a girl must choose between the light and the dark side (the force?), and appears to be a top choice for the dark side. But, a normal boy appears to be getting in the way of her destiny.

Parker: I tend to enjoy Jason Statham movies every now and then - they aren't something I rush out to see, but occasionally I will toss one in or watch it on television. The involvement of Jennifer Lopez has me thrown off a bit - I can't really remember a movie I liked that she was in. But, perhaps down the road I will check it out.

The Last Stand: Yes, I will definitely be checking this one out. Despite his involvement with the Expendable films, this is Shcwarzenegger's first real film since leaving the governor's office. Looking forward to seeing it.

Stand Up Guys: Pacino, Arkin and Walken team up for one last hurrah as stickup men. Has me somewhat intrigued, but not running out to see it right away. If I catch it on tv I may check it out.

Struck by Lightning: Kurt from Glee has written a movie that he is now starring in. Though Kurt is not one of my favorite characters on the show, I will give him some love and check this out at some point.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Theater Review: Jurassic Park 3D

There isn't a whole lot that I can say about this movie that you already do not know. If you haven't seen it yet, you either don't enjoy these types of movies, or you may be living under a rock.

Either way, a couple year's back my local theater played Jurassic Park as part of its Throwback Thursdays (that I am not sure if they still do). And, I kicked myself for not going to see it.

Luckily, the film was re-released for its 20th anniversary and given the 3D treatment. Now, I don't think it needed to be in 3D, but everyone else is obviously doing it now - so I guess it had to as well.

Jurassic Park was originally released in 1993 when I was 12 years old. But, I did not get to check it out in the theater. My first taste of T-Rex and company came on VHS, and I really fell in love.

So, having the chance to see a loved film in the theater - after missing it a year or two earlier - I had to go and see it. And, it was just as great as I thought it would be.

Steven Spielberg truly brought dinosaurs to life in this tale - and though at the time I was really unfamiliar with almost all of the cast - I knew that all of them put in magnificent performances. In fact, the lone actor I may have recognized at the time was Wayne Knight - from his time on Seinfeld, which was actually just getting started on television.

Again, this is me trying to remember my 12-year-old self, so some of this may not be entirely accurate. That being said - I really enjoyed Jeff Goldblum as Ian Malcolm. And, as Family Guy said, Samuel L. Jackson is in almost every movie. And although his role is small, he is another stand out here.

But, the true stars of the film are of course the dinosaurs. We had never really seen something as truly realistic - at least not in the form of dinosaurs - as we do here. Not only that, but as a dinosaur lover, I was introduced to even more dinosaurs. Especially the velociraptor, which became such a big star and so well liked - the NBA expansion team from Toronto was named the Raptors.

Still, the big star was T-Rex. It's the one we all loved as a kid (truly I was a triceratops fan) and he didn't disappoint here. He was truly the King of the Jungle.

Of course, Jurassic Park spawned sequels - one of which was already written by the original writer Michael Crichton, The Lost World while another was penned just for a film feature. But, the original is definitely the crown jewel.

But, going back and checking them all out again recently definitely has me excited for more dinosaur adventures - and the success of the re-release has those involved excited as well, which has made Jurassic Park IV move along much quicker than it has in the past.

And, I look forward to it.

But, for the original - it was definitely great to go back to my 12th year of life and enjoy my favorite dinosaurs on the big screen - for the first time.


Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Tuesday's With Movies: 5/14/13

Texas Chainsaw 3D: Is this a prequel? A sequel? A remake? Truth is, I don't care.

Cloud Atlas: This will be the final film of my Hanks-O-Thon, which has been going on for quite a long time. It's been fun, and I am looking forward to finishing it. Heard both good and bad things about this film, so I look forward to seeing which side I fall on.

A Glimpse Inside the Mind of Charles Swan III: Wow, a lot people are in this movie. Too bad I have no idea what the heck this is about. Looks extremely strange - almost Wes Anderson-esque.

Frankie Go Boom: Hadn't heard of this before, but it stars Chris O'Dowd and Charlie Hunnam, and looks like it might be somewhat interesting. Might be something I check out down the road.

Tomorrow You're Gone: I am guessing this is a direct to DVD film because I can hardly find anything on it. But, it stars Willem Dafoe, Michelle Monaghan and Stephen Dorff.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Reaction: Survivor Caramoan

I don't recap all of the Survivor shows that I watch, and honestly, it takes either something amazing happening to get me to write something - or a pretty fun season.

I think here it was the latter. The season was pretty fun. It might have been an added bonus that this was the first time I played a Survivor elimination game to add a little more fun to it - and I thank those involved for allowing me to participate (I learned more as I went, and think I will play much differently next time).

There are a lot of people out there that absolutely hate that some players continue to get the opportunity to play the game. And that is fine, I have a few things in this show that I cannot stand (the 3-person finale for instance - more on this later), but I really enjoy former contestants coming back and competing.

Do I think they for some reason bring back 'favorites' that I really wouldn't consider favorites? Yes, absolutely. Phillip and Brandon were both crazy characters - but were they actually anyone's favorites? For the life of me I could not remember which season Brenda was from - when I saw her she was familiar to me, but I couldn't really remember her - that being said I felt she was a fun player and deserved being there. (at some point I think I will go back and see exactly which 18-20 players from past seasons I would like to see again).

Anyway, having returning favorites back on the show really makes the first handful of episodes worth watching. I really like the Fans vs. Favorites idea - All-Stars was great too, but I like the idea of having new participants as well. And, as we get to know the new participants, we can follow and enjoy those we already know (if we do in fact know/remember them).

OK, on to the show.

Out of the favorites that were returning I really loved the idea of Erik returning. He got his start on the original Fans vs. Favorites season - and for him to return as a favorite on the next edition was a pretty cool idea. Plus, I actually liked him during his first run - but he was young, naive and definitely made one of the biggest mistakes in Survivor history by giving up his immunity. So, I was interested in seeing how he would do again - and from the start I thought he was on the outside of the favorites tribe. But, he managed to stick around and was right there in the end.


After what I thought was a horrible decision by Dawn to vote out Brenda at tribal council - the woman who found your teeth for you and sat and calmed you down during all 200 of your breakdowns, plus you asked her to jump down in the immunity challenge to give it to you - pretty much guaranteeing her that she was not going home. Then, stabbed her in the back. I know it's a game - but that was one of the harshest moves I have seen in this game. Just really cold-blooded.

But, we were teased that someone was getting pulled from the game in last week's preview - and my fear was realized when Erik was pulled for 'starvation' symptoms. So mad, I honestly felt he might have had a chance (oh, I picked him to win in my pool - so that added to my frustration).

In the end, I think Cochran made the right move. He had the option of bringing either Dawn or Eddie into the final three with himself and Sherri. Dawn did have the six children, sweet as can be mother angle to play - but the way she played really angered people, especially after she eliminated Brenda. Eddie, though he played the dumb guy, did a lot in the game to keep himself in it - from the very start he and Reynold were on the outs and they made it very far. Eddie had at least two votes in Malcolm and Reynold on the jury, and he may have even had Andrea and Erik as well. So, do you take that chance?

Finally, I was OK with the way Brenda reacted. She was very upset with Dawn after becoming so close to her on the island. And, she was right - if she hadn't gotten into that water and saved Dawn's teeth, I think Dawn would have pulled herself. So, she wanted her to prove that she would have stayed. If she hadn't saved her teeth, that is what everyone would have seen for weeks if Dawn would have decided to stay - so I see no problem with it. Ruthless? Absolutely.

Now, back to the three-person finale. My memory on this is horrible, but has the third person in the finale ever been worthy of being there? Have they ever even come close to winning or receiving a few votes?

I have always felt the best is to have a two-person finale. Not only is it down to two, but in the end on the final vote before the jury - the person with immunity must choose who they want to sit next to, which is a huge decision that could help or hurt them.

Sherri in the finale was despicable. Her plea to the jury by saying she was a successful business woman with 75 employees, and that she wanted to treat the other contestants as her employees? Yeah, that helped her cause. She did nothing throughout the entire game - and she was hardly mentioned once during the jury questions (though she snapped at Erik, that certainly was going to help her) and wasn't asked one question at the reunion show. Even though she technically tied for second.

In the end, I feel the correct person won. Even though Phillip was so flamboyant and out there, I always felt like Cochran was the mastermind behind everything. He stayed calm (and held back his laughter) when speaking with Phillip and, for the most part, steered him in the direction he wanted him to go.

If this were any other season I would have been wishing for Cochran to win - and in the end I still feel OK that he won. Because I had voted for, and liked Erik so much, I was really pulling for him to win. And, if he had got to the final with Cochran - I don't think Cochran would have won 8-0. But, I think he still should have won.

And with that, another season is over. Looking forward to the next installment in the fall.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Theater Review: G.I. Joe: Retaliation

The first film in this franchise probably didn't live up to the hype surrounding it, despite having such great star power involved. But, it was still enjoyable - despite the fact that Cobra Commander didn't look like the Cobra Commander we all hoped.

So, G.I. Joe: Retaliation was a semi-reboot, but still tied up loose ends that were left from the first film. Missing were Sienna Miller (Baroness), Rachel Nichols (Scarlett), Dennis Quaid (General Hawk), Marlon Wayans (Ripcord), Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje (Heavy Duty) and Said Taghmaoui (Breaker).

Returning to the film as characters, but with different actors were Destro and Cobra Commander, so Christopher Eccleston and Joseph Gordon-Levitt did not return.

The only characters returning with the same actors were, Jonathan Pryce as the US President, Arnold Vosloo as Zartan, Ray Park as Snake Eyes, Byung-hun Lee as Storm Shadow and Channing Tatum as Duke.

(Spoilers of both films are involved)

The threat, however, remains the same - Zartan has taken over as the President, and no one knows it yet. He has framed the Joes for stealing nuclear warheads and has sent a strike team to destroy them - including their leader Duke.

As the dust settles, only Roadblock (Dwayne Johnson), Lady Jaye (Adrianne Palicki) and Flint (D.J. Cotrona) were able to survive after jumping into a nearby well.

Storm Shadow and newcomer Firefly (Ray Stevenson) have located where Cobra Commander (Luke Bracey) and Destro are being held - and gets himself taken prisoner in order to break them out - though in the end, Cobra Commander decides against freeing Destro. Storm Shadow, though, is injured from a blast and goes to a temple to recover.

Snake Eyes and his new apprentice Jinx (Elodie Yung) set out to the temple to capture Storm Shadow and bring him back to Blind Master (RZA) to answer for the death of Hard Master.

Meanwhile, Roadbloack, Flint and Lady Jaye try stop the impostor President who is blackmailing other nations into submitting to him and his new weapon of mass destruction - which he uses as to destroy London. For help, Roadblock takes them to retired and original Joe - Joe Colton (Bruce Willis).

I have heard the grumblings - and by the ratings on Rotten Tomatoes, critics have let it be known that this is not a good film.

But, I feel it may be the perfect film. The perfect film to kickoff the summer.

Summer is about explosions, stupid one-liners and beautiful people. It usually isn't about the best script, or even the best actors. It's is mostly about having fun. And, G.I. Joe: Retaliation was fun.

I had a few complaints - for instance, killing off Duke. Now sure they can figure out someway to pretend he wasn't dead, but at the end of this film he was. Channing Tatum may not be an amazing actor, though I have come to enjoy some of his work, but he has become a start. And, unless you intend on bringing him back from the dead, he is now gone from this franchise. Which, may not have been the best idea. Even those characters from the first film can still return - they were not killed.

Second, RZA is a terrible actor. The scenes with him instructing Snake Eyes had to be the most painful to watch. They could have easily gotten someone else - someone way better to play that role.

Finally, the mountain-side fight featuring Snake Eyes was absolutely amazing to watch. And, Cobra Commander actually somewhat looked like Cobra Commander - I just wish Gordon-Levitt had returned.

So, yes I liked this movie. It was fun. If you don't like fun movies - why are you watching them? If you want to watch Oscar-nominated movies alone, you have that right. But, don't continue to blast these summer popcorn flicks - what the hell are you expecting them to be like?


Tuesday's With Movies: 5/7/13

Jack Reacher: Tom Cruise stars as Jack Reacher, a former US military police officer, who is called in to track down a sniper. Looks like a pretty interesting and fun action film - plus it takes place in Pittsburgh. I am in.

Mama: Two kids are found and given to their aunt and uncle - both are feral after living alone in the forest for five years. Nope - but at least I took the time to say what it is sort of about.

Safe Haven: Nicholas Sparks movie - yeah I am pretty sure I will be checking this out with Mrs. Kano.

The Oranges: Saw the trailer for this once, and it looked pretty funny - and yet, rather odd. I will definitely check it out.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Quick Shots 23 Part II

Title: Unstoppable. 

Starring: Denzel Washington, Chris Pine, Rosario Dawson, Ethan Suplee, T.J. Miller, Kevin Corrigan, Kevin Dunn.

Brief Synopsis: Rookie Will (Pine) is joining veteran railroad worker Frank (Washington) to pick up and deliver a shipment. Meanwhile, Dewey (Suplee) and Gilleece (Miller) accidentally let a train get away from them with no driver - setting up a thrill ride to try and figure out how to stop the train before it gets to a largely populated area.

Opinion: This was pretty darn fun. You pretty much know what you are going to get from Washington now, but Pine is still somewhat of a new commodity - and so far he has done a great job. And, even though his role was small, anytime you can get Kevin Corrigan in a film I am going to love his character. He is great. Pretty exciting film, and also pretty hard to believe that something like it could actually happen.


Title: Dredd. 

Starring: Karl Urban, Olivia Thirlby, Lena Headey, Wood Harris, Warrick Grier.

Brief Synopsis: In a future United States, most of what is left is a wasteland. Not just police officers, but law enforcers are now judge, jury and executioners depending on how they see it. A new drug called 'slo-mo' is introduced and after Judge Dredd (Urban) and his new partner Cassandra Anderson (Thirlby) find a couple of dead bodies and decide to check out the slum tower known as Peach Trees, which is ruled by drug lord Ma-Ma (Headey).

Opinion: Wow, a non-stop thrill ride. I was really hoping to check out the original Judge Dredd before I watched this one, but I had heard so many good things that I just decided to check out the new one. And, it was a great action flick. Urban was great as Dredd, and my first real introduction to Thirlby - even though I have apparently seen her a handful of times before. She was just more of a standout here.


Title: Expendables 2.

Starring: Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Jet Li, Dolph Lundgren, Chuck Norris, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Bruce Willis, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Terry Crews, Randy Couture, Liam Hemsworth, Nan Yu.

Brief Synopsis: Church (Willis) has returned to force Barney (Stallone) to retrieve an item from a plane that has crashed in Albania and sends along tech expert Maggie (Nan). Barney pulls up his Expendables crew and has no problems tracking down the item. But, Billy (Hemsworth) is captured by Jean Vilain (Van Damme) and his crew - which forces Barney to hand over the retrieved item. The rest of the film, the Expendables look for revenge on Vilain and his crew, and look to retrieve the stolen item.

Opinion: In the first film, I was just happy to see some of the old guys - Stallone and Lundgren for the most part - but the film itself wasn't exceptional, though it was still enjoyable. This one, though, I felt was much better and more of a fun ride. Plus, seeing Stallone, Willis and Schwarzenegger shooting their guns side-by-side was just amazing to see. Looking forward to the next installment.


Title: Taken 2.

Starring: Liam Neeson, Maggie Grace, Famke Janssen, Leland Orser, Jon Gries, D.B. Sweeney, Luke Grimes.

Brief Synopsis: Bryan Mills (Neeson) and his daughter, Kim (Grace), are still trying to recover from the events that happened in the first film. But, apparently so are the families of those that Mills killed trying to recover his kidnapped daughter. And, they are out to kidnap the family again and make Mills suffer like they did.

Opinion: As much as I was still into this film, I don't think they caught the lightning that they did during the first film. Something in that one just mesmerized a lot of people - including Neeson's delivery over the phone of that one conversation with the kidnappers. The first film was centered around Grace's character, but she wasn't as involved as she was here - though I liked her, she may have held Neeson back a bit. Not sure, but I liked the first one better.


Quick Shots 23 Part I

Title: Hangover Part II.

Starring: Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, Zach Galifianakis, Justin Bartha, Ken Jeong, Paul Giamatti.

Brief Synopsis: Two years have passed since the Wolf Pack's first predicament in Las Vegas at Doug's (Bartha) bachelor party. Next up is Stu's (Helms) wedding, which is taking place in Thailand. Phil (Cooper) and Alan (Galifianakis) join the rest of them for the wedding. Alan has kept in touch with Mr. Chow (Jeong) and invites him to the bachelor party - and again all hell breaks loose.

Opinion: With the high success of the first Hangover film, which pretty much came out of nowhere, there was bound to be a sequel. And, I am fine with that. But, going back to the well with a bachelor party being the reason for the 'blackout' was a bit lazy. But, I will let it slide. It was still pretty funny, and fun to see the gang retrace their steps yet again. I just really hope No. 3 isn't Alan or Phil's wedding.


Title: This is 40.

Starring: Paul Rudd, Leslie Mann, Maude Apatow, Iris Apatow, Jason Segel, Megan Fox, Charlyne Yi, Robert Smigel.

Brief Synopsis: The family from Knocked Up, minus Katherine Heigl, is at it again. We see a glimpse into the lives of Pete (Rudd) and Debbie (Mann) as they are struggling in their marriage and jobs during the week of their 40th birthday. And, the issues in raising their two daughters, Sadie (Maude) and Charlotte (Iris).

Opinion: Honestly, the best part of Knocked Up was the two side groups - including Pete and Debbie's family. Their relationship is so real, which makes it interesting - and, in my opinion, pretty funny as well.


Title: Red Dawn (2012).

Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Josh Peck, Josh Hutcherson, Adrianne Palicki, Isabel Lucas, Connor Cruise, Jeffrey Dean Morgan.

Brief Synopsis: North Korea has invaded the United States, and a small group of teenagers in Spokane, Washington that call themselves the Wolverines (the mascot of their high school) try to retake their town. Led by former Marine Jed Eckert (Hemsworth) and his brother Matt (Peck), the group hides out in the woods and tries to find weaknesses to take out the enemy.

Opinion: I had never watched the original Red Dawn until a few years ago during my first 50 list - and I enjoyed it, but it definitely felt dated. Here, things aren't really an exact shot-by-shot remake, but a lot of the themes are the same. I am not sure why it got panned as much as it did - perhaps because of the love for the original - but this was not a bad remake, in fact I found myself enjoying it.


Title: Bachelorette.

Starring: Kirsten Dunst, Lizzy Caplan, Isla Fisher, Rebel Wilson, Adam Scott, Hayes MacArthur, Kyle Bornheimer, James Marsden.

Brief Synopsis: Becky (Wilson) is getting married and has asked her friends, Regan (Dunst), Gena (Caplan) and Katie (Fisher) to be in her wedding. All three are suffering from issues in their life: Regan is a perfectionist who is pissed Becky is getting married before she is, Gena has hated herself ever since she lost her boyfriend Cylde (Scott) back in high school, and Katie has serious party issues. Together, they ruin Becky's bachelorette party, including ruining her dress - and spend the rest of the movie trying to make things right.

Opinion: Really had no expectations for this movie going in, but I really found myself laughing a ton. This will probably always be compared to Bridesmaids, which was the more successful film, but I think I might have liked this one better - even though I did enjoy Bridesmaids. Caplan and Fisher were outstanding, and Dunst really steps out of her comfort zone, and I feel succeeds.