Saturday, September 19, 2009


I want to say first, that I REALLY wanted to like this movie. I had been seeing trailers for this one for a while and am a big fan of Jason Bateman. Unfortunately either my expectations were too high or this movie is a dud.

Extract is Mike Judge's (Office Space, Idiocracy) latest effort. The film follows the owner of an extract plant, Joel, (Jason Bateman). Bored with his job, unhappy with his marriage and desperately seeking a change, he searches out ways to put his life back on track. Following some awful advice from his bartender friend (Ben Affleck), he embarks on a series of misadventures. Thrown into the mix is Mila Kunis' character, Cindy. She decides to intern at the extract company following an accident that takes place during working hours.

The actors in this comedy, are without a doubt fantastic. David Koechner is brilliant. He plays the kind of annoying neighbor, that I think just about everyone has encountered at one time or another in their lives. His character gave the audience just the right amount of awkward tension and comedy. Ben Affleck plays his character very kooky - which I think works for him. Also keep your eye on newcomer, Dustin Milligan. Although not impressed by him on 90210, his portrayal in this movie is very funny. Also, Clifton Collins Jr, all over the place this summer, is a presence on screen.

My main problem with this movie was the story. It never commits. The story consists of a bunch of random events that never really come full circle. I think what frustrates me most is that this story has so much potential! The characters are great but, I was never fully invested in anything they were doing. It bounces around things so unevenly. Maybe the cutting room floor houses some answers...

There are a few specific scenes that are good. Unfortunately, there wasn't much in the in between to connect. I think one of the things I loved so much about Office Space was how close to home some of the office humor really was. In this one, there is nothing to connect to. There was no reason this story needed to be told.

If you go, go because you like 1 or 2 of the actors and go in with your expectations low.

1.5 buckets

Sunday, September 06, 2009


Violent and disturbing only mildly describes the movie I just walked out of. On one hand it was a cookie cutter action movie, predictable till the end. Then there were parts of this film, we'll call social commentary, that truly disturbed me. Let me just say before I continue further that Gerard Butler is a bonefide action hero. Mark him up with Stallone, Willis and Schwarzenegger, this guy is the real deal. A moment ago I was looking at the box office report and it looks like Final Destination is still hanging on to the top spot, with Gamer 3rd with 9 million. I'm actually surprised by this. I guess we'll have to see what Gamer does on Monday, but I was sure that this one was going to rake in at least 30 million opening weekend. It just goes to show that you can't predict them all. Now I'm not implying that this film is great by any means, it's a loud and at times over the top action film. If you liked the Crank movies then you should love this one. Still the visceral nature of Gamer has really stuck with me for some reason. It feels a lot like the first Robo Cop. There were silly elements sure, there was extreme violence but there was also a social message. A seedy disgusting element that truly makes you want to look away. I felt that in a big way through portions of this movie.Gamer follows the best real/Avatar soldier ever, Kable (Gerard Butler.). Kable is a death row inmate who is given a chance at freedom as long as he survives a real war zone. The catch is that his movements are controlled by another human. A seventeen year old brat to be exact, named Simon (Logan Lerman). It's kind of like if you were playing the on-line video game Call of Duty and instead of controlling a computer simulated person, you are actually in charge of a living breathing and possibly bleeding human being. Kable is just a few missions away from obtaining his freedom. But the creator of the game called Slayers, Ken Castle (Michael C. Hall), is more interested in Kable meeting his death in a blaze of glory as well as controlling the world. Kable receives some help from an underground group called the Humanz led by Brother (Ludacris) and Trace (Alison Lohman). Every futuristic film where society is controlled has to have an competent underground organization to mix things up. It's just the rules. Remember Edgar Friendly? As I said before the movie is fairly cut and dried. Kable is a bad ass good guy, possibly framed, and on death row. He's got a wife and a daughter he's trying to get to-- yada yada. These elements were fun and exciting but as I said before extremely predictable. If you've seen Running Man or Logan's Run then you'll get where this is going quickly. Now here is where it gets interesting, when they start to explore Castle's other creation, called Society. Society, like Slayers, has Avatars as humans that are being controlled by people at home. The difference here is that it's not a war zone it's more like the Sims. But when you see a few of the people controlling these avatars, especially the one controlling Kable's wife Angie (Amber Valletta). You totally feel nausuous at this fat lazy blob sitting in a chair acting out his sick fantasies through this woman. You hope and pray that our society never even enters into this realm of the absurd and the humiliating. We are so desensitized to violence that I suppose, if we are not careful, we could become this uncaring sack of shit sitting in a living room playing puppet master with someone's life. Let's hope not.Overall the flick was fun and extremely violent. The dialogue was cheesy pretty much all the way through. One of the heavies in the flick played by Terry Crews is just so ridiculous it's hard to take him seriously. The guy is big and he could be scary for sure but his character is so silly that he doesn't feel like an obstacle at all. I was just waiting for Gerard to double-tap this guy in the skull. The same goes for the number 1 baddie. (You see how de-sensitized I have become, geez.) Michael C. Hall is a great actor. If you've seen Six Feet Under or Dexter then you know this guy is a top-notch thespian. His first mistake was the corn-pone accent, I couldn't take him seriously after that. The movie works for what it is, Gerard Butler is, as always, a joy to watch. If you haven't seen the Basterds then this should be your next stop on the Action Movie gravy train. I would skip All About Steve and Final Destination. They both look terrible regardless of the box office numbers. Gamer is a true action flick and it does exactly what it's supposed to do.

Grade 3 Buckets

Thursday, September 03, 2009

The Time Traveler's Wife

I suppose it is time to add a bit of a female perspective to this blog and luckily Jeff is in agreement. I absolutely love movies and go see them pretty regularly so I hope I can contribute, if even a little. So in this, my inaugural post, I will talk about The Time Traveler's Wife.

First, full disclosure, the closest I have come to this book is perhaps giving it a glance in a Borders, so I came into the movie with absolutely no background. The only thing I knew was that Rachel McAdams and Eric Bana were to star in it and being fans of both I was excited to see how they interacted together. I also happen to be a science fiction fan so the time traveling element intrigued me.

The story begins with the first time Henry (Eric Bana) time travels. He never is able to take clothes with him as he travels - which presents somewhat of a problem when he gets to wherever he goes. He is constantly in a state of flight, looking for clothes and then trying to blend in until the next time he travels. He seems to be pulled into big events - one of which is Clare (Rachel McAdams). The story very early sets up the history of Henry and Clare, though it is not especially clear if he met her first as a child or as a young adult (time traveling can be rather confusing). The movie has him going back and forth between seeing her as a young girl and being with her in their adult life with a little bit of him traveling to random places in between.

I happen to like a good romantic comedy but I'm not quite sure this one hit the mark. Most of the movie Henry and Clare don't seem happy and there are few truly romantic/happy spots. I also was distracted by the time traveling aspect quite a bit. For one thing, I don't know if they age Henry enough. I went with a friend and she didn't realize that he was traveling from the future to the present at some points because Eric Bana had little more than some grey spots in his hair to show he had aged. I also didn't see the point to the random spots he visited. Most times these random travels showed little more than him running away with stolen clothes. Maybe it's that way in the book and I am being too harsh - but I probably could have done without those scenes.

I did really enjoy the performance of Ron Livingston who played Gomez, the friend to both Henry and Clare. He was funny in scenes that needed some humor but also played sensitive when it was called for. I haven't seen a lot of him since Office Space and so he was a nice surprise.

Performance wise I thought Rachel did a really good job. I think she is one of the few actresses who manages to not over act in intense scenes. There is one scene in particular when Clare and Henry are in a fight and she manages to make it more true to life than movie dramatic. I appreciate that. Eric Bana, I was a little bit less impressed with. I've seen a lot of him this summer with Star Trek and Funny People and I've got to say, I don't know that this type of movie is his bag. I think he was a bad reactor, if that makes any sense. He is not good in a reaction shot, especially to big news.

Random fact for music fans: Broken Social Scene makes a cameo as the wedding band.

The song they choose to perform in the movie is weird if not comical but a decent band nevertheless.

I think my favorite part of the movie was the end and that's not to say that I was only happy when it was over. I thought the final scene was touching and maybe the most heartfelt part of the movie. Seeing the film, did spark my interest in reading the book, but I'm not sure I would see the movie again.

Grade: 2 buckets