Thursday, March 29, 2012

Mirror Mirror

Do you like Fairy Tales? Or a more direct question is, do you watch Once Upon a Time on ABC? If the answer is yes then Mirror Mirror (Comes out this Friday March 30th) is the movie for you. Mirror Mirror is the retelling of the classic Grimm's Fairy tale about a young Princess who escapes the clutches of her evil stepmother and her despotic rule. She builds allies in the 7 Dwarves and Prince Charming to take her Kingdom back. You know the tale, but there are a few updates in this version directed by Tarsem Singh (Immortals & The Cell). It's fun, a little bit silly, funny and beautifully filmed, a great time for the whole family. So if you've had your fill of Hunger Games and you aren't that interested in seeing Sam Worthington in sandals and a mullet then take the fam to see Julia Roberts, Nathan Lane, Armie Hammer and Lilly Collins in Mirror Mirror.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

21 Jump Street

Yet another TV show made into a movie and like many others before the makers have decided to take a fairly straight laced show and make it a comedy on the big screen. This formula worked well for at least the first Charlie's Angels, not so well for the A-Team, even though personally I thought A-Team was great. As far as Jump Street is concerned I never watched the show I only know it was how Johnny Depp made his bones in the acting world other than that I know pretty much nothing. The trailers were pretty funny, stupid, but funny. It's what would have happened if the two guys from Superbad grew up and became Cops.

In high school Jenko (Channing Tatum) was a dumb jock who liked to prey on the weaker kids, especially Schmidt (Jonah Hill), a Eminem wannabe who can't talk to girls. They both graduate High School and they find themselves in the Police Academy, as you would figure it Schmidt is smart and aces the paper tests but is inept in the field. Jenko is talented in the field and bad at taking tests. They decide to be friends to help each other out and...were off. The two knuckleheads get their first bust but they screw up the Miranda rights and cause a scene at the arrest when they act like little children. They get kicked down to 21 Jump Street where they have to go undercover at a local high school to bust drug pushers like student Eric Molson (Dave Franco). Jump Street is run by an a- typical angry chief played this time by Ice Cube.

Let's be honest this is a pretty stupid movie but damn if it wasn't funny. They get great comedic support from Rob Riggle a jerk of a Gym Teacher and Elle Kemper as Jenko's Bio teacher who is looking to Mary K. Letourneau his ass. You also have Chris Parnell and Jake Johnson putting in some time to great effect. These guys are as ridiculous as the two dumb ass cops in Superbad and maybe a bit more so it's tough to see how they got through basic training much less one day as a cop, but again this is an action/comedy not by any means a drama. It was nice seeing Johnny Depp pop up for a few minutes reprising that character that everyone who has seen the show would know and love, me I didn't get it but I'm assuming if you had context it would be an even funnier scene.  Overall it's a forgettable comedy with some funny bits here and there but not much else. If you can't find something you like with the Hunger Games, Stooges or American Reunion, then definitely go and see it for a few laughs. Trust me your head won't hurt you if you do.

Grade: 3 Buckets

Monday, March 19, 2012

John Carter (Of Mars)

I had intended to write this review last week when I saw the film but I have a day job and a night job so it took a little longer than I had intended. If you follow movie and entertainment news then by now you have read that John Carter is a bonafide flop. Disney released a statement today saying that they were taking a 200 million dollar loss on the film. Wow, and that is after they made over 100 million overseas and about 50 mil domestically for the movie.  So the question is who is to blame? Can we chalk it up to an overzealous director, Andrew Stanton,  in way over his head? Should this fall on the Disney heads who oversaw this massive expenditure, was it the marketing? Or was it just a bad film? After seeing the movie myself, having no real expectation what-so-ever I can say pretty clearly this fuck up is all Disney execs and marketing and it is a damn shame.
John Carter (Taylor Kitsch), Confederate Civil War veteran and explorer finds himself near penniless scratching and clawing at a piece of dirt hoping for gold. I know, what you are thinking, Civil War? I thought this was like Buck Rogers in space or something? But keep watching...So while on the run from a band of Indians he finds himself in an abandoned cave. A cave the Indians won't go near. He runs into a strange monk-like man with a strange device, Carter kills the man in self defense and picks up the device transporting our hero to....wait for it....Mars! For most of the film he's playing the fish out of water scenario as he seems to, due to the heavier gravity on Earth, appears to be stronger and able to leap tall buildings in a single bound, sort of like Superman. He crash lands in the middle of another civil war. Between the humanoid Zondangan's and the people of Helium. With the giant multi-armed alien Thurns in the middle.  Of course there is a Princess, Dejah (Lynn Collins) and an evil villain, General Sab Than (Dominic West). Plus you can't have a good sci-fi film without a mysterious shadow character, Matai Shang (Mark Strong) whose motives remain largely unknown through most of the film.
So I know my explanation of the film probably isn't going to make you run out and see the movie. But apparently neither did Disney's. My question to them is if they felt that doing a movie with Mars in the title was such a liability, why do it in the first place? Why not try to cater to some older folk who may know who Edgar Rice Burroughs is. Why not call it John Carter of Mars at least it sounds like a sci/fi film that way and not some Backstreet Boy. I mean this is the guy who also wrote Tarzan, they have adapted both John Carter and Tarzan a billion times over in comics, movies and cartoons. I ask again, HOW DO YOU FUCK THIS UP??? You own a comic book company in Marvel now, there is no excuse for this kind of screw up. There is an audience for these kinds of movies but you have to go the extra mile. The Comic book interstitial would have been a good start. Introduce the world of Barsoon (What the people of Mars call their planet) to young readers so they aren't scratching their heads later. This is a rich fantasy world that, in the proper hands, could have rivaled Pandora in Avatar. 
The movie itself was pretty good honestly, it's a tough sell, I know that. It's kind of like Watchmen it stretches the imagination a bit further and you have to be prepared for what you are seeing. The 3D also was pretty good it had a sense of scale and brought Mars to life in a fun way. I thought all the leads were pretty great and you had some excellent back-up with James Purefoy and Ciaran Hinds. I thought the pacing was solid and considering this was his first time with a live action film, Andrew Stanton did a pretty good job. Yes it was long, yes it was a little absurd, this was a throwback film after all. If you like Flash Gordon, Buck Rogers or even Jules Verne you will enjoy this movie.  My advice is go and see it now before Hunger Games washes it away.
Grade: 3 Buckets

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Dr. Seuss' The Lorax in 3D

I saw this with some trepidation with my son last week. I say trepidation because the Dr. Seuss book has been his favorite since he was two. I've read it to him for consecutive days and weeks on and off for years now, he quotes it endlessly and it's also the only book where I go full out with character voices. What if he hates Danny DeVito's voice as the Lorax because I don't sound like Danny DeVito it actually sort of sounds like Professor Frink from the Simpsons. It's the cutest thing in the world when he comes over to me telling me that he speaks for the trees because the trees have no tongues. What if he hates the movie so much he stops doing that? To add another wrinkle to the mix he declared to me that he wanted to see the movie in 3D.  This was going to be a nightmare outing, I could just sense it.
The Lorax is based on the charming little book by Dr. Seuss about a naive young man named the Once-ler  (voiced by Ed Helms) who comes to a charming valley with the desire to start a business. He discovers the beautiful Truffula Trees that are apparently softer than silk with the smell of fresh butterfly milk. He starts chopping the trees and making these things called Thneeds until a orange furry creature called the Lorax (Danny DeVito) appears to tell him to stop.  This is the basic plot of the movie and the book but of course that would probably only take about ten or fifteen minutes to tell. For the movie they added another story on top of the Once-ler's story about a boy named Ted (Zac Effron) who likes this girl named Audrey (Taylor Swift, I assume she was hired to act and sing the big song with Effron) who is obsessed with Truffula Trees. Ted is obsessed with Audrey so he goes in search of Truffula trees and finds the Once-ler and the two stories merge.
The good news for me is that Nathan really enjoyed the movie and sat through the whole thing with his glasses on for pretty much the entire picture which is a pretty big feat for him. The 3D was actually pretty good and it worked out well. It didn't have too many things flying at you and it didn't seem to scare him at all. He laughed at the hi-jinks he quoted the memorable lines. He really loved the humming fish and the Brown Bear-ba-loots. I think he sort of ignored Ted and his story about restoring the air from the three stooges like character Mr. O'Hare (Robb Riggle), which is probably a good thing because it was the most annoying part of the movie. I really understand what they were trying to do in order to fill it in to make it almost two hours but man it just felt like a massive sell out to me. This book was all about anti-commercialization and phoniness and many of these scenes felt just like that. Again, thankfully, the little one didn't seem to notice and he loves his book even more than before with the major difference that he always asks why Ted isn't in the book more than a few pages and how come he doesn't talk. He also seems to like my nasaly Lorax voice better. All is right with the world.
So if you are looking for a very cute and ultimately painless version of a great Dr. Seuss book then please take your kids I'm sure they'll love it. If the current Box Office is any indication you don't need my review to help you decide. There are a few throw-away lines here and there that will go right over the little one's heads but other than that it's a pretty sterile and non-threatening little movie. Those Brown Bear-ba-loots are ridiculously cute.
My Grade: 3 Buckets

Kid Grade: 5 Buckets