Friday, April 29, 2011


I'm having some issues with my computer, apparently my laptop likes to just erase half or all of what I just typed and then I made another mistake to get it back by refreshing back until unfortunately there wasn't anything left. It ended up automatically saving that nothing so then of course I had nothing left of what I just wrote. Soooooo, here I go again for a second time. I took my little guy to see the first big kid flick of the Spring.  He's been a little more excited to see the upcoming Cars sequel and Winnie the Pooh but given that he is my kid and that he would pretty much watch anything that was on the screen I convinced him that it would be a good idea to check it out. Rio is a 3D flick but thankfully they also have some 2D screenings for those of us with little kids who can't handle wearing the glasses for 2 + hours. Which is a relief cause the last time I took Nathan to see a 3D or 4D film it really freaked him out. When we got to the theatre he was really excited to get the popcorn again and he wouldn't relinquish his grip on it until the movie was done.
The film follows a nearly extinct Macaw named Blu (Jessie Eisenberg) who finds himself a domesticated bird, who can't fly, living in Minnesota. His Human, Linda (Leslie Mann), helps him to live the good life without much of a care, until both of their lives are turned upside down when they are visited by a Brazilian ornithologist, Tulio (Rodrigo Santoro), who is interested in mating Blu with another Macaw in order to preserve the species.  The only hitch is they have to travel to Rio de Janeiro in order to complete the task. Once they make it there Blu and, his soon to be mating bird, Jewel (Anne Hathaway) are kidnapped by a trio of Poachers (Carlos Ponce, Jeffrey Garcia & Davi Viera) and  their evil bird, Nigel (Jemaine Clement). The Macaw's get a little help from their friends in the animal world, a couple of musical birds (Jamie Fox & and a Toucan (George Lopez) who is intent on teaching Blu how to fly.
I was a little worried at first, Nathan seemed happy with his popcorn as he was munching away but after about twenty minutes he looks up at me and says, "I want to go home now, Daddy." I looked down at him and told him, "don't you want to see what happens to Blu? Maybe he'll learn how to fly and you'll be able to see that." He looks at me very cutely and said, "No, that's ok, I want to go home to see McQueen." Ugh, of course nothing holds a candle to Lightning McQueen. I leaned in and told him give it a few more minutes. Thankfully my gambit worked. Once he got to the amusing Bulldog (Tracy Morgan), he was back into it again. I found it to be a very cute film, but not quite on the level for little kiddies and it still didn't seem to be pulling the clever punches for the Adults either. But it was entertaining and Nathan in the end felt very confident about flying like his new pals Blu and Jewel. I was a little concerned with the dastardly-ness of Nigel, I could have sworn he killed a couple of the animals--but I don't think Nathan noticed, thankfully, and he didn't seem to be overly afraid of him, good news for me, cause if I had traumatized the kid Tamar would never let me take him to another movie again. All in all it should be a good time for the whole family. There isn't any language, a little action and of course that malicious bird but overall it felt pretty kid friendly. So if you are looking to take your little one to something this weekend you should definitely check this one out.
Grade: 3 Buckets

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Source Code

When I was a kid one of my favorite shows I would watch with my Dad was Quantum Leap with Scott Bakula as Dr. Sam Beckett.  He was a scientist who discovered an interesting way to time travel, he'd step into the accelerator and his consciousness would transport to another person through time travel. He couldn't control when he would leap but the rules were that he could only leap within his own timeline. His mission was to put right what once went wrong with the hope that his next leap would bring him home to his own time. It was a really great show and a great concept for time travel. It lasted about three years and was unfortunately canceled. Now you are wondering why am I talking about an obscure show from the 90's when I should be reviewing Source Code? Other than a few changes this kind of Quantum Leap is exactly what happens to Jake Gyllenhaal's character Captain Colter Stevens in Source Code. I recognized from the trailers what it was referencing but I didn't realize how much, and it was a real treat to see what appears to be a more updated version of Quantum Leap up on the big screen.
Captain Colter Stevens (Jake Gyllenhaal) wakes up on a train with a face that he does not recognize. After 8 minutes of confusion a bomb explodes and Captain Stevens finds himself trapped inside a chamber with a image of a Captain Colleen Goodwin (Vera Farmiga) on the viewsceen, who tells the Captain that he is apart of a mission called Source Code that allows his consciousness to transport to a passenger on a train that was blown up that morning by a possible terrorist cell. He has eight minutes everytime he enters the Source Code to determine where the bomb is and who set it in order to avert another possible attack. This is kind of like Quantum leap meets 12 Monkeys. . It's not clear whether or not Captain Colter can alter the past but only study the tragedy in order to piece together clues in order to stop this from happening again. The scientist who created the Source Code, Doctor Rutledge (Jeffrey Wright), explains that the Source Code is only meant to be used to study and analyze, according to him the current reality we are living in is not able to be changed. Therefore it doesn't matter what Captain Colter does while in the Source Code. Which creates a dilemma for him cause he begins to form feelings for a woman, Christina (Michelle Monaghan), who is in a relationship with the passenger that is now inhabiting Captain Colter.
This was a really clever and fun flick, well written and executed. In the beginning it felt a lot like Groundhog Day as Colter is trying to learn about his surroundings. He takes an all business approach at first but he comes to appreciate the other innocent people on the train which fuels his determination to try and save them all. There is some really nice humor here among all the confusion and it balances out nicely. I still have yet to see Director Duncan Jones' directorial debut Moon, but I can see why this guy is in high demand. He really builds an interesting moral problem for Captain Colter while slowly peeling away his own mysterious past and why he is in the predicament he's in. There is a nice twist here that, in my mind, plays really well but I promise I won't reveal what that is here. But I was rather proud of my picking up the identity of the actor doing the voice of Colter's father. When I came home I had to make sure and there it was on IMDB, Captain Colter's Fathers voice was of course---Scott "Sam Beckett" Bakula. I'm willing to bet that the writer and possibly the director were big fans of Quantum Leap and got him as a wink to the fans. It's very possible, if they wanted to, there could be a sequel potential here and if they were to do it you can bet I would be one of the first to line up for it. We are gearing up for the Summer blockbusters but until then, if you haven't seen Limitless yet, then you should really go and check out this very clever thriller.
Grade 4 Buckets

Friday, April 01, 2011

Sucker Punch

I saw this one last week but got so bogged down with work I didn't have a chance to post it. To be honest I wasn't in such a hurry. I had mixed thoughts about seeing this one to begin with. I really like Director Zack Snyder and most, if not all of his films so far, but there really aren't that many. I've seen two of the four so far, Watchmen and 300. Both are great but they are also not his original works. Sucker Punch on the other hand is Snyder's attempt to make something completely his.  And here is where we run into the roadblocks. The visuals in this movie are simply stunning. I loved most if not all of the action sequences but the story is seriously lacking and it's hard to relate to or care about anyone involved. Which, after a bit of time, makes even the coolest action sequence seem mundane and boring if we can't feel invested.
Babydoll (Emily Browning) is thrown into a mental institution by her abusive step-father after she accidentally shoots her sister.  The step-father is after the family money and Babydoll is in his way. So he pays off an Orderly, Blue Jones (Oscar Isaac) to have her treated with a Lobotomy within a few days. Which of course gives her time to devise a plan to get her and her new nuthouse friends outta there; Rocket (Jenna Malone), Sweet Pea (Abbie Cornish), Blondie (Vanessa Hudgens) & Amber (Jamie Chung). So this thing has two added layers to it. Once were in the nuthouse we see Babydoll envision this place as a Brothel and the girls are sex slaves to their pimp Blue. The girls get instructions from their Doctor/Madame Dr. Gorski (Carla Gugino) who tries to give her girls a way out of this hell by allowing them to dream when they perform. So when Babydoll dances for the clients she is able to go to another dreamlike place that allows her to be truly free. She hatches the plan to get out and enlists the help of the other girls.
It's really a shame honestly because I really felt like there was so much opportunity with a movie like this but in the end it felt similar to me and my friends in Film School sitting around talking about how great it would be to make a movie with every pop culture reference we could think of. Nazi zombie samurais and such. It was almost an overload of visual stimuli. The problem, I felt no sense of real peril for anyone until the end and even then I'm not sure if what happened actually happened. They never truly established an anchor for the real world for us to truly understand what was supposed to be true and what was imaginary, and maybe that's the point but if so, it just didn't work. The girls really tried to give it their all but it just wasn't enough. Not to mention it was truly wasted having Scott Glenn as the Wiseman that appears in the girl's dreams who just utters a bunch of empty platitudes and tries to lead them in the right direction. This role could have been meatier and better written but the script just felt forced in some ways and half ass on the other.
So to sum up, it was a visually stunning with interesting action pieces but overall a complete waste of time. There was no substance and falls completely flat after the first act. It literally was like watching a video game movie. They had different levels one more insane then the next but I just didn't see the point for it. I would have actually appreciated the movie more if they dumped the second dreamscape and just kept it in the Brothel, but that's just me. There are quite a few new flicks coming out over the next few weeks that frankly should bury Sucker Punch, so if you really want to see it I suggest you see it soon before it's gone.

Grade: 2 Buckets