Posts Tagged ‘2010 movies’

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A Few Movie Reviews

September 7, 2011

It’s been a while since I’ve done some movie review updates and the list of movies I need to talk about has been stockpiling, so I’m just going to get it all out at once.

Hobo With A Shotgun (2011) – This movie is straight grimy. It has the production value of a B-movie and is as gruesome as anything I’ve seen in years. There’s not a lot of story here, but you could tell that much by watching a trailer. If you like ultra-violence and tons of gore, you will be pleased. 6/10 (Recommended)

Source Code (2011) – This film had enough solid word of mouth during its theatrical run that it has been my most highly anticipated DVD release for quite some time… and it did not disappoint. With the unique premise of being able to relive the last 8 minutes of someone’s life in order to extract crucial information (in this case, the identity of a serial terrorist to prevent a future attack), Source Code is immediately engaging and keeps a quick pace throughout its short run time. Jake Gyllenhaal is great as Colonel Stevens. I enjoyed his swagger in this film. One of the more enjoyable films I’ve seen in 2011 with enough replay value to make me want to buy it. 8/10 (Excellent)

The Lincoln Lawyer (2011) – Matthew McConaughey stars as the title lawyer, a cocky defense attorney that finds himself representing a manipulative–and very guilty–client played by Ryan Phillipe. Surprising, thrilling, and entertaining, The Lincoln Lawyer is a solid court drama with McConaughey’s best performance since Frailty in 2001. 6.5/10 (Recommended/Must See)

Trollhunter (2010) – A Norwegian documentary/hoax in the vein of The Blair Witch Project focusing on Norway’s little known troll problem. A group of film students start investigating a bear hunter they soon learn has his targets set on much bigger game. Unlike Blair Witch, Trollhunter doesn’t leave anything to the imagination… the suspense level isn’t quite the same, but I must admit, the trolls are visually impressive creatures. For what looks and feels like a low budget fauxumentary, no expense was spared on this film’s monsters. They look great. And real. Are they? 6/10 (Recommended)

I Am Number Four (2011) – Yawn. I’m a little offended by how many people have told me they wish I could be more like James Frey. Between the controversy surrounding the authenticity of his A Million Little Pieces and this uninteresting Superman rip-off written under a pseudonym, I can think of plenty of writers I’d rather to aspire to be like. Obviously I wasn’t a big fan of the story here, but the film adaptation only makes things worse. Alex Pettyfer might have potential as a leading man, but let’s not start his career with a franchise like this. Dianna Agron, great on the Fox TV show “Glee”, is incredibly disappointing here, playing her character like a piece of stale bread and making me wonder if Quinn Fabray is the extent of her acting skills. The whole film has the feel of an MTV movie or an overblown (and bad) “Smallville” episode. Fuck I Am Number Four and fuck James Frey. 2.5/10 (Horrible/Skip It)

Blue Valentine (2010) – A bleak, depressing, and honest look at the evolution of modern courtship and marriage. Blue Valentine focuses on a young couple, Cindy and Dean, interweaving its story between the blissful days of their “honeymoon stage” and years later when they merely try to co-exist with each other. Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams are both fantastic in the lead roles, with Williams’ performance being particularly fascinating since it comes fresh on the heels of the death of her own husband, Heath Ledger. Whatever it’s goal, the film is a stark reminder that love doesn’t always have a happy ending and many young people jump into a legal connection without much thought. Not exactly a fun film, but definitely a necessary one. 7/10 (Must See)

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Tangled (2010)

May 31, 2011

Starring: Mandy Moore, Zachary Levi, Donna Murphy
Director: Nathan Greno, Byron Howard (Bolt)

Quick Thoughts: Disney goes back to its fairy tale roots with great success. Tangled tells the story of Rapunzel, a princess that was stolen at birth by an old woman because of her magical hair that had the power to keep the old woman looking young. Locked away in a tower through her teenage years, Rapunzel finally seeks adventure when fugitive Flynn Ryder inadvertently seeks escape in her isolated home. Tangled is a perfect addition to the Disney archives, combining innovative animation with good storytelling. 3D and CG technology are used to breath life into characters that resemble the more traditional hand drawn models of Disney’s past. The story and characters are strong and humorous, with Ryder’s noble horse providing the most laughs throughout the film, a remarkable feat for a non-speaking character. The songs in the movie are solid and Mandy Moore is enjoyable in the lead role. I wouldn’t list Tangled amongst Disney’s all-time best work, but it’s close between this and Bolt for Disney’s best animated, non-Pixar feature film of the past decade.

Viewings: 1
Replay Value: Lots of value here for kids and families.
Sequel Potential: Disney likes to make direct-to-video sequels, but the conclusion of the film doesn’t leave much left to explore with these characters.
Oscar Potential: Nominated for Best Original Song and possibly snubbed for Best Animated Feature (I haven’t seen The Illusionist yet).
Nudity: N/A
Grade: 6.5/10 (Recommended)
RottenTomatoes Scores: Critics: 89% Audience: 88%
IMDB Rating: 7.9/10
Recommendation: A solid, but unspectacular Disney movie that is great for kids and enjoyable for adults.

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Little Fockers (2010)

May 30, 2011

Starring: Ben Stiller, Robert De Nero, Teri Polo, Owen Wilson, Dustin Hoffman, Barbara Streissand, Blythe Danner, Jessica Alba
Director: Paul Weitz (About A Boy, American Pie)

Quick Thoughts: The first sequel was not only unnecessary, it was also forgettable. Little Fockers doesn’t suffer the same fate, but unfortunately that’s not for good reason as it will be remembered for being one of the worst comedies of the past decade. I’m not going to spend time talking about the absurd plot to this film–and why should I? It’s not like the filmmakers put any serious thought into the script themselves. Screenwriter John Hamburg is a frequent collaborator with star Ben Stiller, but it’s obvious that Hamburg is much more talented at coming up with original stories (Meet The Parents, I Love You, Man) than continuing previous ones. Little Fockers is star studded with several A-Listers, but the film is terrible and offers very few genuine laughs. I’d recommend for the cast to quit while they’re ahead, but it’s already too late for that and at this point all we can hope for is that Hollywood will put this franchise out of its misery before the sequels put such a powerful taint on the series that we forget how truly fantastic the original was.

Viewings: 1
Replay Value: Zero.
Sequel Potential: Meet The Fockers grossed $280 million in the U.S. and even though business fell off dramatically for Little Fockers, at $148 million, it’s still a box office hit. It was universally destroyed by critics though, so it’s quite possible that the stars of the series will realize it’s time to give it up.
Oscar Potential: None
Nudity: None
Grade: 3/10 (Skip It)
RottenTomatoes Scores: Critics: 9% Audience: 41%
IMDB Rating: 5.3/10
Recommendation: Little Fockers is borderline unwatchable. It’s a comedy that’s not particularly funny and a great barometer for judging someone’s taste in movies. Ask someone enthusiastically: “Have you seen Little Fockers yet?” If they respond with: “Yeah! It was really funny.” then you know never to take their opinion on films seriously again. One of the worst movies of the year, for sure.

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I Love You Phillip Morris (2010)

April 21, 2011


Starring: Jim Carrey, Ewan McGregor, Leslie Mann
Director: Glenn Ficarra, John Requa

Quick Thoughts: I really had no idea what to expect from this movie. The title led me to believe it might be about the cigarette industry, but it has absolutely nothing to do with that. Rather, Jim Carrey stars as Steven Russell, a seemingly regular family man who makes some drastic life changes after he suffers a brutal car accident. He admits to his wife that he’s actually homosexual and begins a career as con man that eventually finds him locked up in prison, where he meets Phillip Morris (Ewan McGregor) and they have a soul mate connection. Apparently, this is actually a true story based on real people and that fact makes it really hard to swallow because it’s ultimately a tragedy… yet it’s presented as a comedy. There was a moment during the second act of this film where I seriously considered turning it off. Russell’s first stint in prison when he befriends Phillip is excruciating to watch. I’m no homophobe–I thoroughly enjoyed Brokeback Mountain and Milk–but the focus on these characters’ sexuality is over-the-top and, at times, gratuitous, to the point where it feels like it’s being rubbed in your face rather than eloquently portrayed. Fortunately, the story picks up when Steven and Phillip are released into society and the character of Steven Russell becomes quite fascinating; his ability to manipulate borders on genius levels and his repeated escapes from prison later in the film are wildly creative and successful… and often funny. Even so, I can’t help but wonder what the real Steven Russell is like; as smart as his cons are, Jim Carrey mostly plays him as a fool… and maybe he is. After all, he is spending the rest of his life in a maximum security prison.

Viewings: 1
Replay Value: Barely made it through the first viewing.
Sequel Potential: None.
Oscar Potential: None
Nudity: I can’t remember… but there were plenty of uncomfortable scenes.
Grade: 4/10 (Rental)
Recommendation: I struggled through this movie, for sure, but it wound up being watchable. Steven Russell’s story is intriguing, but the execution here left a lot to be desired. No need to go out of your way to see it.

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127 Hours (2010)

April 12, 2011


Starring: James Franco
Director: Danny Boyle (Slumdog Millionaire, 28 Days Later, Trainspotting)

Quick Thoughts: Danny Boyle’s 127 Hours is a gripping, claustrophobic film. James Franco plays Aron Ralston, a perpetual outdoorsman that must fight for his survival after his arm gets trapped under a rock while hiking through the mountains and canyons of Utah. It’s a compelling story, as Ralston slowly realizes the severity of his situation: it takes at least 24 hours for the boulder on Ralston’s arm to transform from major inconvenience to a seriously life-threatening object. No sir, that rock’s not going anywhere. 127 Hours makes you squirm in ways that would make a horror auteur jealous; it’s genuinely scary. Take a step outside the film and realize this is something that actually happened to someone and then put yourself in his shoes… it will send shivers down your spine. Due to the nature of the situation, the scope of the film is pretty limited, but Boyle and Co. more than make up for this in the first twenty minutes, most of which features stunning cinematography of the beautiful landscape this crisis takes place in. Franco is great in this movie and well deserving of his Oscar nomination, displaying a wide range of character that goes from cocky to scared to outright delusional. 127 Hours is a haunting, true tale of survival that is thrilling throughout its duration despite the fact that the majority of the story unfolds in a very small space.

Viewings: 1
Replay Value: Doesn’t strike me as something I’d want to watch repeatedly, but I’d strongly consider buying it.
Sequel Potential: None.
Oscar Potential: Six nominations: Best Actor (Franco), Best Director (Boyle), Best Original Song, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Editing, and Best Picture. No wins.
Nudity: None.
Grade: 7.5/10 (Must See/Excellent)
Recommendation: 127 Hours is a great story with a fast pace and clocks in at just over 90 minutes, making for a quick watch. I’ve heard complaints about the hallucinations (Scooby Dooby Doo… where are you?)–people calling them silly–but I suggest going five days without food or water… or mobility… and seeing how your brain holds up. Personally, I thought this movie was great, but if you didn’t like Into The Wild or Slumdog Millionaire, you suck… and you should probably skip this.

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Love & Other Drugs (2010)

April 4, 2011


Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Anne Hathaway, Hank Azaria, Oliver Platt
Director: Edward Zwick (Blood Diamond, The Last Samurai, Glory)

Quick Thoughts: Love & Other Drugs has the feel of a chick flick, but has enough screen time of Anne Hathaway’s breasts to make any reluctant male companion a happy camper. Also, Jake Gyllenhaal’s Jamie Randall is an easy guy for us to root for: successful at his job, funny, extremely adept at attracting women, and emotionally unavailable. Until he meets Hathaway’s Maggie Murdock, a woman that is basically the female version of himself. They say opposites attract, but in this case, two similar people find something in each other that has been absent from every other relationship they’ve ever had: love. Gyllenhaal is slightly underrated as actor–probably because he’s starred in some substandard action fare (see: The Prince Of Persia)–and he continues to charm here. Anne Hathaway is on my radar as a serious up-and-coming actress. She’s been displaying Oscar talent since her turn in Rachel Getting Married and I can’t wait to see what she does with Selina Kyle (Catwoman) in the next Batman movie. Her performance in Love & Other Drugs as the free-spirited, but unavailable Maggie Murdock, a woman experiencing the early stages of Parkinson’s Disease, is yet another strong performance in her young career. Love & Other Drugs isn’t The Notebook, but it’s an above average romantic dramedy with enough charm, humor and gratuitous female nudity to leave both males and females satisfied.

Viewings: 1
Replay Value: I wouldn’t buy it, but I’d watch it again some day.
Sequel Potential: None.
Oscar Potential: None.
Nudity: YES! Anne Hathaway @ The Oscars: “Whatever happened to the good ‘ole days? It used to be you get naked, you get nominated.”
Grade: 6/10 (Recommended)
Recommendation: A solid romantic comedy with good performances from its leads and Anne Hathaway’s boobs. Repeatedly. I mean, come on!

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Let Me In (2010)

March 6, 2011


Starring: Kodi Smit-McPhee, Chloe Moretz, Richard Jenkins
Director: Debra Granik (Cloverfield)
Quick Thoughts: The American remake of Sweden’s Let The Right One In isn’t quite as chilling as the original, nor is it as loyal to its source material. I thought casting Chloe Moretz as Eli/Abby was a genius move after seeing how awesome she was in Kick-Ass, but the talented actress doesn’t do much with her role here, basically playing the part of Abby on auto-pilot. Let Me In does retain some of the story’s creepiness and has some frighteningly good moments. It’s weird that the names of the main characters have been changed. You develop an attachment to these characters through the novel and the previous film, so the name changing is kind of jarring. These characters aren’t exactly iconic, but it’d be like changing Lisbeth Salander’s name for the U.S. version of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo… you just don’t do it. Overall, Let Me In is a decent vampire thriller but leaves something to be desired if you’re a fan of the source material.
Viewings: 1
Replay Value: If I had to pick a version to own, the Swedish film was superior.
Sequel Potential: None.
Oscar Potential: None.
Nudity: None.
Grade: 5/10 (Worth Watching)
Recommendation: As a stand alone film, Let Me In is pretty enjoyable, but it doesn’t really hold up to the Swedish version, so watch that if you’re considering seeing this movie.

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Megamind (2010)

March 3, 2011


Starring: Will Ferrell, Tina Fey, Jonah Hill, David Cross, Brad Pitt
Director: Tom McGrath (Madagascar, Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa)
Quick Thoughts: Megamind is another solid family film in a pretty good year for animated movies that was somewhat overlooked because of how vastly superior Toy Story 3 was compared to everything else. Megamind features a stellar voice cast with Will Ferrell and Jonah Hill particularly killing it. The story essentially asks the question: what would happen if Lex Luthor defeated Superman? And this film is basically an animated version of that story. Megamind is a bald supervillain with genius-level intelligence, Metro Man has all the same powers as Clark Kent, and the alliteratively named Roxanne Richie is the story’s Lois Lane. Megamind isn’t exploring the deep, human thematic issues like Toy Story 3 does, but it’s still a funny and enjoyable kid’s movie that manages to tug just a little bit at your emotions.
Viewings: 1
Replay Value: Probably a must own for families. I’d watch it again but no rush…
Sequel Potential: Seems likely.
Oscar Potential: How long before 5 films are nominated for the Best Animated Feature category? This film got passed up, but it was pretty good.
Nudity: N/A
Grade: 6.5/10 (Recommended)
Recommendation: A solid family film that adults should enjoy and kids will love.

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The Girl Who Played With Fire & The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo (2010?)

March 3, 2011


Starring: Noomi Rapace, Michael Nyqvist, Paolo Roberto
Director: Daniel Alfredson (“John Adams” mini-series)
Quick Thoughts: These films are relatively solid adaptations of Stieg Larrson’s wildly popular Millennium trilogy of novels, with the second film being noticeably more faithful and entertaining than the first. The filmmakers definitely took more liberties in the first film: changing significant plot points and missing the mark on the Blomkvist character. Though the mystery aspect of the first book/movie keeps it moving at a fast pace, I think the second novel/film is the superior work. While the first film focuses on the secrets of the Vanger family, the second part dives into the history of Lisbeth Salander, clearly the most interesting character in the series. Our heroine is played expertly by Swedish actress Noomi Rapace, chain-smoking while contemplating her next move and displaying enough dark side to make us believe she’s capable of murder. Overall, these are enjoyable movies and Rapace is perfect for the role of Salander, but I can’t help but think that with David Fincher at the helm there’s a lot of room for improvement in the Hollywood versions.
Viewings: 1
Replay Value: Probably worth a couple viewings.
Sequel Potential: A third Swedish movie is out and the American versions are on the way.
Oscar Potential: Rapace was good enough that she had some outside buzz for Best Actress in 2010.
Nudity: Rapace is constantly naked. Rooney Mara, will you be true to the character and follow in her footsteps?
Grade: The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo: 6/10 (Recommended); The Girl Who Played With Fire: 7/10 (Must See)
Recommendation: Fans of the novels shouldn’t be too upset, but expect some disappointment in the first movie, especially if you’ve recently read the books. These are Swedish films and I’d recommend watching them in their original language with English subtitles, but if you don’t do foreign films you might as well wait for the American versions that start coming out in late 2012.

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The King’s Speech (2010)

February 23, 2011


Starring: Colin Firth, Geoffrey Rush, Helena Bonham Carter
Director: Robert Schwentke (“John Adams” mini-series)
Quick Thoughts: The King’s Speech opens with Colin Firth’s character, the future King George VI, preparing to address an audience of thousands over a megaphone. There’s sweat on his brow, his eyes are watering, and he’s visibly shaken. You know this isn’t going to end well. It’s actually painful watching him stammer helplessly, unable to even complete a sentence, embarrassing himself in front of his legions. Part of you wants to laugh, but most of you is horrified. Can you imagine being a man of enormous power, required to be the voice of your people, when speaking publicly is your absolute worst nightmare? I’ve actually heard criticism of The King’s Speech claiming that the story isn’t particularly strong or interesting, but I personally find the King’s predicament absolutely fascinating. If this story was about a regular Joe with a speech impediment the dilemma wouldn’t be nearly as dire nor the impact as strong, but this is royalty we’re talking about here and his problem is severe. Though The King’s Speech is clearly a dramatic film, it had numerous hilarious moments. I was laughing out loud through numerous scenes, including this exchange:

Lionel Logue: I believe sucking smoke into your lungs will kill you.
King George: My physicians say it relaxes the throat.
Logue: They’re idiots.
King George: They’ve all been knighted.
Logue: Makes it official then.

And the script is filled with funny moments like that. Obviously, Colin Firth’s performance is phenomenal here. Successfully pulling off the stammering dialogue is impressive enough, but he does it while exuding the body language of someone that is completely void of self-confidence. Amazing. Anything short of a Best Actor statue is CRIMINAL. Nothing comes close. The entire acting ensemble is solid, from Helena Bonham Carter in an oddly subdued role (sedatives?) as George’s hopeful and supportive wife, to the excellent Geoffrey Rush as his speech therapist, all the way down to Timothy Spall in a small, but great role playing a smug Winston Churchill. The King’s Speech has more Oscar nominations than any 2010 film and deserves all of them. The Social Network is favored to win Best Picture and even though I love that movie, I know I wouldn’t bet my money against The King’s Speech. An excellent movie with a triumphant story and great acting, and easily one of the best films of the year.
Viewings: 1
Replay Value: Character dramas don’t tend to have a ton of replay value, but the script is funny enough and Firth’s performance is so good that repeat viewings are a must. I know I’ll be buying it.
Sequel Potential: N/A
Oscar Potential: 12 nominations, including Best Picture, Best Screenplay and acting noms for Firth, Carter and Rush.
Nudity: None
Grade: 8/10 (Excellent)
Recommendation: Obviously, this is must see cinema.