Wednesday, June 30, 2010

"The Last Airbender"

A lot of my friends were really excited about "The Last Airbender," as it's based off an animated television series called "Avatar" (unrelated to the movie). I haven't seen the animated series but the movie looked like it would be good, and it's 3D as well. However, as with many films these days, I ended up being disappointed.

Aang (newcomer Noah Ringer) has been frozen in ice for the past century, until Katara (Nicola Peltz, "Deck the Halls") and Sokka (Jackson Rathbone, "Eclipse") find him. They soon figure out that Aang is an avatar, which means that he has the ability to manipulate air, water, earth, and fire. However, Aang ran away from his teachers, who were monks, before he learned to bend water, earth, and fire; therefore, he is only an "air bender." Sokka and Katara are from the Water Nation and they offer to find "water bender" teachers for him. The plot gets complicated because Prince Zuko (Dev Patel, "Slumdog Millionaire") of the Fire Nation is seeking to find and capture the avatar so that his father, whom he has disgraced, will welcome Zuko back to the Fire Nation. Katara and Sokka want to prevent this from happening, but inevitably Zuko catches up with them.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

"The Twilight Saga: Eclipse"

I have seen the first two "Twilight saga" movies, and while I really liked the first one ("Twilight"), I was a little disappointed by the second ("New Moon"). I have also read all four of the original books by Stephenie Meyer, but I try to treat the movies as separate entities from the books; after all, they are "based" on the books, not 100% the same as them. Going into "Eclipse," then, I was expecting a lot, because this is the first book in the series that really delves deeper into the characters. Luckily, I was not disappointed.

Bella (Kristen Stewart, "The Runaways) is on the cusp of graduating from Forks High School, and she wants Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson, "Remember Me") to turn her into a vampire after graduation. Edward, however, wants Bella to marry him first. Meanwhile, a vampire army is assembling in Seattle, led by the evil Victoria (a casting change - now played by Bryce Dallas Howard, "Spider-Man 3"), who wants to enact revenge on the Cullens, specifically Edward, for killing her mate, James. The werewolves, especially Jacob (Taylor Lautner, "Valentine's Day") and the vampires must unite for Bella's safety, and battle the vampire army together.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

"Knight and Day"

There were no screenings for "Knight and Day" (none that I knew of, anyway), and so I decided to pay the $5 and go see a matinee screening at the theater today. The critics had been giving this film mixed reviews, but I usually like movies with Cameron Diaz and/or Tom Cruise in it, and so I decided to give it a chance; I am very glad I did.

Roy Miller (Tom Cruise, "Valkyrie") is a fugitive on the run - or is he? He meets June Havens (Cameron Diaz, "The Box") at the Wichita airport, where they are on the same plane together going to Boston. She later becomes his hostage, of sorts, as he shoots and kills various agents, some who seem to be CIA and some who are the "bad bad guys," as he says. June doesn't know whether to believe Roy's stories or what the CIA is telling her, and she must decide whom she wants to trust, with consequences either way.

Friday, June 25, 2010

"The Sorcerer's Apprentice"

I was surprised that I got to see a screening of this film so early, because it won't hit theaters until July 14th. The trailer looked like it was going to be a great movie, and although it wasn't as "epic" as I thought it would be, "The Sorcerer's Apprentice" was entertaining and had a lot of interesting visual effects.

Balthazar Blake (Nicholas Cage, "Kick-Ass") was one of Merlin's apprentices, and was told by Merlin himself that he would find a successor. He has been looking for the past thousand years, and he finally finds a successor when young Dave stumbles in to his shop in New York City. Dave accidentally knocks over a special vase, however, releasing Horvath (Alfred Molina, "Prince of Persia"), another Merlin apprentice who turned evil, and Horvath and Blake both end up being imprisoned in the vase for the next ten years. Enter older Dave (Jay Baruchel, "She's Out of My League"), who is now twenty and a physics student at NYU. Balthazar needs to find another lost vase that contains both another evil sorceress and also the woman he loved back when he was an apprentice; unfortunately, Horvath is looking for the same vase, and wants to use it for evil rather than good.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

"Grown Ups"

I'll admit that I was not super excited to see this movie. I like Adam Sandler but his last few movies have been very raunchy and not that great. The trailer for "Grown Ups" looked like it would follow that typical Sandler path, but the movie was cute with mostly entertaining jokes.

Five men who played together on their middle school basketball team are reunited when their former coach passes away. Lenny (Adam Sandler, "Funny People") is now a hotshot Hollywood exec, with a beautiful wife (Salma Hayek, "Bandidas") and children; Eric (Kevin James, "Paul Blart: Mall Cop") has packed on the pounds but has a wife and children who love him; Kurt (Chris Rock, "Death at a Funeral") is a stay-at-home dad whose wife is pregnant; Marcus (David Spade, TV's "Rules of Engagement") is still a free spirit who hasn't married and is a bit of an alcoholic; and Rob (Rob Schneider, "Grandma's Boy") has a wife who is almost twice his age. Although these five haven't seen each other for many years, they decide to spend the weekend after the funeral at Lenny's lake house, and they soon find that they are still good friends after all these years.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

"Solitary Man"

I wasn't quite sure what to expect from this film. I knew it was an indie movie, which was only confirmed by the fact that the screening was held at the Maple Art Theater, and I knew it had a great cast, including Michael Douglas, Susan Sarandon, and Danny DeVito. What I didn't come to find out until later, however, was that it was a "slice of life" type movie, and those types of movies usually don't interest me much.

Ben Kalmen (Michael Douglas, "Ghosts of Girlfriends Past") is having a midlife crisis of sorts - at age 60. He is divorced from his wife, Nancy (Susan Sarandon, "The Lovely Bones"), and on thin ice with his daughter, Susan (Jenna Fischer, TV's "The Office"), as he often neglects his grandson. He doesn't have any real relationships in his life, which might explain the fact that he sleeps with the youngest women he can find, including the 18-year-old daughter of his soon-to-be-ex girlfriend, Jordan (Mary-Louise Parker, TV's "Weeds"). When he escorts Jordan's daughter back to his alma mater in Boston for her college interview, he finds himself thinking of the past more and more, and his actions become more and more "unlike him," as his daughter says.

Friday, June 11, 2010

"The Karate Kid"

I went in to this movie unbiased; although I may have seen the first "Karate Kid" movie (1984) on TV once, I don't remember much of it, and therefore I was not comparing this film to its predecessor. The film ended up surprising me, however, and definitely in a good way.

Dre Parker (Jaden Smith, "The Pursuit of Happyness") is being forced to move from Detroit to China by his mom (Taraji P. Henson, "Date Night"), who has been transferred for her job. Dre struggles to adjust to his new home, and it doesn't help that he is beat up by some bullies on his first day there. He makes a violinist friend, Meiying (newcomer Wenwen Han), but the bullies tell Dre to stay away from her. Dre finally decides that he needs to learn kung-fu so that he will be able to defend himself, and the maintenance man for his building, Mr. Han (Jackie Chan, "The Spy Next Door") agrees to teach him. Dre decides to compete in the Open Kung-Fu Tournament, where some of the best kung-fu fighters, including the bullies that had taunted him, will be fighting, and by the end of the movie, both his fighting skills and his attitude have improved.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

"Cyrus"

I was expecting good things from "Cyrus," as it was shown at the Sundance festival, and had been ranked one of the most promising films there. However, it was too much of a "slice of life" movie, and a little slow paced for my taste.

John (John C. Reilly, "Cirque du Freak") has a rather depressing life, and his ex-wife Jamie (Catherine Keener, "Percy Jackson and the Olympians") has just told him that she is getting remarried. She invites John to a party with her and her fiancee, and it is there that he meets the beautiful Molly (Marisa Tomei, "Wild Hogs"), with whom he soon starts a relationship. There's one problem, however: she is very close with her 21-year-old son, Cyrus (Jonah Hill, "Get Him to the Greek"), who still lives at home with her. John tries to get along with Cyrus, but Cyrus hates him from the get-go, although he "plays nice" in front of Molly and she has no idea what is going on. As John's relationship with Molly gets more serious, the animosity between him and Cyrus becomes more intense, and John must eventually decide if it is worth it to stay in this relationship.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

"Despicable Me"

I received some very last minute passes (they were emailed to me at 12:30am) to see an 11am screening of "Despicable Me" this morning. Did I still go? Of course! I had seen the trailers for this animated 3D movie a few weeks ago, and they looked adorable, and I am happy to report that the movie lived up to my expectations.

Gru (voiced by Steve Carell, "Date Night") is the #1 supervillain and master thief of all time, at least until the young Vector (voiced by Jason Segel, TV's "How I Met Your Mother") steals an Egyptian pyramid. Gru, however, is planning an even bigger heist: he plans to shrink and then steal the moon. All he needs is a shrink ray, which he steals from the Chinese. Unfortunately, Vector then steals the ray from Gru. Vector's gigantic fortress where he lives is impenetrable, but Gru notices that he lets three little girls - Agnes, Edith, and Margo - inside, as they are selling the equivalent of Girl Scout cookies. The girls live in an orphanage run by the mean Miss Hattie (voiced by Kristen Wiig, TV's "Saturday Night Live"), and Gru finds a solution to his problems: adopt the girls, and wait until they lead him into Vector's fortress. But he doesn't count on actually growing to like the girls.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

"Splice"

I had reservations about seeing "Splice"—I am by no means a horror movie junkie—but the movie ended up exceeding my expectations. However, the ending was rather shocking, and many parts of the movie are guaranteed to either make you gag or stare at the screen in disbelief.

Clive (Adrien Brody, "The Brothers Bloom") and Elsa (Sarah Polley, "Dawn of the Dead") are two scientists interested in pushing the boundaries of their field. They decide to merge human and animal DNA to see what will result, with the agreement that they will not bring the creature to term. The creature, however, has other plans; it is born prematurely and pushes its way out of the machine in which it was being kept. At first, Clive wants to kill the creature (whom they later name "Dren"), but Elsa argues that they should study and learn from it, and that it's growing so fast that it will soon be dead anyway. Both Clive and Elsa bond with Dren, and it is that bond that later ends up destroying both of them.