Wednesday, June 29, 2011

"Transformers: Dark of the Moon"

I only vaguely remember the first and second Transformers movies (from 2007 and 2009), but the second one did not do very well with critics. With this third movie, director Michael Bay aimed to "reboot" the series, and he definitely achieves this; the movie was easier to follow and the 3D effects were excellent.

Sam Witwicky (Shia LaBeouf, "Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps") has graduated from college and is looking for a job, and is frustrated that even though he has saved the world (twice, he says) and has received a medal from the president, he can only find openings in menial jobs. Sam is living in D.C. with girlfriend Carly (newcomer and model Rosie Huntington-Whitely) in her enormous apartment, and his parents are coming to visit soon, which means he needs to find a job ASAP. He takes a job in the mail room at a computer company, only to find out that the Decepticons have returned, and some of them are even present at the company. Sam calls the government agents working with the Autobots, and together they must try and defeat the Decepticons as they, once again, try to take over the world and conquer the human race.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Movies out on DVD this Tuesday, June 28th

Season of the Witch is out on DVD this Tuesday - read my review before buying, and if you do choose to buy, please use my Amazon Affiliate links below:

     

Friday, June 24, 2011

"Bad Teacher"

When I saw the trailer for Bad Teacher a few months ago, it looked like it was going to be hilarious; the fact that Jason Segel, Cameron Diaz, and Justin Timberlake were in it definitely helped as well. Although it does bring a few laughs, the film was not as funny as I thought it would be, and it definitely does not live up to expectations.

Elizabeth Halsey (Cameron Diaz, "The Green Hornet") has quit her teaching job and has a rich (albeit homely) fiancee; when he calls off the engagement, however, she has to go back to work at John Adams Middle School (JAMS for short). She wants to find a guy who will take care of her so that she doesn't have to work, so when Scott Delacorte (Justin Timberlake, "The Social Network") shows up, Elizabeth tries to win him over. Unfortunately, one of her fellow teachers, Amy (Lucy Punch, "Take Me Home Tonight") also has her eye on Scott. In addition, the school gym teacher, Russell (Jason Segel, "Gulliver's Travels") tries to woo Elizabeth (to which she flippantly responds: "Still a gym teacher? Then no."). Although Elizabeth definitely isn't a model teacher, we see her slowly start to warm up to her students, especially after her coworker Lynn (Phyllis Smith, TV's "The Office") tells her that the teacher with the best school scores on the state standardized test gets a $5700 bonus.

"Cars 2"

Before this past weekend, Cars was the only Pixar movie I hadn't seen. To prepare for the sequel, then, I decided to finally watch it. The first Cars was very cute and made me look forward to the sequel; unfortunately, Cars 2 isn't as good.

Lightning McQueen (voiced by Owen Wilson, "Midnight in Paris") is back in Radiator Springs after winning his fourth Piston Cup. He reunites with his best friend Mater (voiced by Larry the Cable Guy, "Witless Protection") and his girlfriend Sally (voiced by Bonnie Hunt, "Hurricane Season") and is ready to enjoy his life post-race season. However, the creator of a new type of fuel, Allinal, is having a multi-country race, and he wants Lightning McQueen to compete; McQueen can't pass up the chance to beat his enemy Francesco Bernoulli (voiced by John Turturro, "The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3"), who will also be racing, so he agrees to the race and asks Mater to come with him to work in his pit crew. What they don't know, however, is that a group of lemons (as in faulty cars) want to sabotage the race so that Allinal will be ruined as a brand, and they will not stop until all the cars racing are harmed.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Michigan-filmed "Ides of March" to open Venice Film Festival

Clooney directs "Ides of March," coming to
Venice on August 31st, 2011
On August 31st, The Ides of March will open the 68th Venice Film Festival in Italy. George Clooney directed the film and it was shot in Ohio and the Detroit-area (including Bloomfield Hills and Ann Arbor) in February and March. I was an extra in one of the Bloomfield Hills scenes, so I am excited to see the movie when it opens in the U.S. on October 7th.

Ryan Gosling, Paul Giamatti, Evan Rachel Wood, and Max Minghella also star.

Read more at my Examiner.com article.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Movies out on DVD this Tuesday, June 21st

The Adjustment Bureau, Cedar Rapids, and Unknown are all coming to DVD and Blu-Ray this Tuesday, and I enjoyed all three of these fine movies. Check out my reviews before you decide to buy, and if you do buy, please use my Amazon affiliate links below:

     

     

        

Saturday, June 18, 2011

"Trust"

Trust was filmed in the Ann Arbor area, among other Michigan locations, in October 2009, and the movie itself was released in April 2011, but not in Michigan, for some reason. The movie started playing at the Michigan Theater in Ann Arbor last week, and has since moved to the State Theater nearby, which is the only theater in metro Detroit at which it's currently playing. I had been wanting to see the film ever since I heard David Schwimmer ("Friends") was the director, and that it had filmed at many U of M locations. Since I happened to be in Ann Arbor yesterday with some extra time to spare, I went to see it, and I'm very glad I did, as it was excellent.

14-year-old Annie (Liana Liberato, TV's "Sons of Anarchy") talks with her friend Charlie online almost every day, and sometimes even on the phone. Charlie is 15, and plays for his high school's volleyball team, just like Annie hopes to do. He just "gets her," as she puts it, and she can't imagine not talking to him online. He gives her tips about her volleyball playing and she even makes her high school's team because of him. But Charlie has a confession to make: he's not actually 15, he's 20, and he is a sophomore on the volleyball team at UC Berkeley. But it's okay, because he's still the same Charlie, right? They continue talking and a few days later he confesses yet again: he lied the first time - he's 25 and a graduate student. He even sends Annie a few pictures of himself, and she finds him cute.

Later, he asks Annie if she wants to meet up. He lives in California but is willing to fly out to Chicago, where she lives, to meet her. She says yes, and they meet at a mall, where Annie gets a surprise: Charlie is not 25 ... he's actually much older. But he's still the same Charlie she has been talking to all this time, and he treats her to ice cream in the mall, and she decides to go back to his motel room with him; he's bought her a gift, some sexy lingerie, and wants to see her wearing it.

Friday, June 17, 2011

"Green Lantern"

Green Lantern is probably one of the most anticipated comic book movies of the summer, and although it's a fun movie, it wasn't as good as X-Men: First Class. The special effects and 3D were great, which is why I am giving it a "Yes" review, but the plot was only so-so. I am betting that there will be a sequel to the film, and perhaps they will be able to work out the kinks more in that movie since it will be the second in the series.

Hal Jordan (Ryan Reynolds, "Buried") works as a test pilot at Ferris Aircraft with the lovely Carol (Blake Lively, TV's "Gossip Girl"), whose father owns the company.. One night, Hal is transported across town in a green bubble and stumbles upon a dying alien in a spaceship, who bequeaths to him a green lantern and a ring, which has "chosen [Hal]," the alien says. Hal soon realizes that this ring has special powers, and he must be trained to harness these powers and use them to defeat the evil Parallax that has been killing other Green Lantern fighters.

"The Art of Getting By"

The Art of Getting By is yet another movie where the trailer is better than the film itself, although late in the second half the film does redeem itself. Its trailer is fast-paced, witty, and makes the movie look like a typical teen romance film, which of course sold me instantly (I am a big rom-com fan). However, the film itself ends up being a bit slow.

George (Freddie Highmore, "The Spiderwick Chronicles") is used to slacking off at his NYC high school, but now he's a senior, and his teachers and the principal have informed him that if he continues to be a slacker, he won't graduate. He meets Sally (Emma Roberts, "Scream 4," and Julia's niece) when she is having a forbidden smoke on the school roof, and when a teacher busts them, he pretends it was him that was smoking. George and Sally quickly become friends, both of them misfits in different ways, but George wants more out of the relationship, and Sally doesn't, or so she thinks at first.

"Mr. Popper's Penguins"

Mr. Popper's Penguins is based on the children's book of the same name, which I have not read. The concept, though, is simple: a man inherits some penguins from his adventurous father and has to decide whether to keep them or ship them off to the zoo. Zany Jim Carrey is just the man for this role, and he plays his part well. The film started out with lots of laughs and humorous lines, but it quickly turned into the type of movie that panders to children, which is not always fun for the adults in the audience.

Mr. Popper (Jim Carrey, "I Love You Phillip Morris") is a real estate businessman who is very close to making partner at his firm. His superiors tell him that they need him to land one more case and then he can be partner: he needs to get the Tavern on the Green owner, in Central Park, to sell it to him. Unfortunately, Mr. Popper has just received a very unusual gift from his recently deceased father: penguins. The penguins become attached to him and follow him everywhere, which is not helping him acquire Tavern on the Green. Mr. Popper's kids, however, with whom he was a bit estranged from, LOVE the penguins, and so he is forced to keep them around for a while, although he soon finds out that they are more lovable than he first thought.

Monday, June 13, 2011

3,000+ turn out for Oz casting

3,000+ people turned out for "Oz" casting this Saturday in Pontiac
(photo from freep.com)
The call for extras for Oz: The Great and Powerful was this past Saturday at Raleigh Studios in Pontiac, and more than 3,000 people showed up to try and get their fifteen minutes of fame. James Franco, Mila Kunis, and Zach Braff are already attached to the project, and I believe they are still casting as well.

Read more at my Examiner.com article.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Out on DVD this Tuesday, 6/14

Red Riding Hood and Kill the Irishman are out on DVD and Blu-Ray this Tuesday, June 14th. Read my reviews before buying, and if you do choose to buy, please use my Amazon affiliate links:

     

Friday, June 10, 2011

"Super 8"

Super 8 is pitched as a monster/alien movie, but it really is the story of kids growing up in the late '70s. While there is indeed an alien, and a thieving one at that, it tends to take a backseat to the "real" plot, which focuses on these kids and their relationships, both with their parents and each other.

Joe (newcomer Joel Courtney) has recently lost his mother in a factory accident, and his father (Kyle Chandler, TV's "Friday Night Lights") is frequently busy, as he's the deputy sheriff in their small town of Lillian, Ohio. Joe is involved in making a zombie movie with his friends, and the "director," Charles (newcomer Riley Griffiths), wants them to film a pivotal scene in the movie at the train tracks late at night. They recruit beautiful Alice (Elle Fanning, "Somewhere") to be the wife in their movie, and they all meet up around midnight. Elle knows how to drive, so she "borrows" her father's car and takes the "film crew" to the train station. Charles decides to start filming the scene as the train itself is passing by, for "production value," he says; however, the kids get a big surprise when the train derails, and they must run for their lives.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Gifts for the fathers and grads in your life

Father's Day (June 19th) is fast approaching, as is graduation season. You may be considering buying a favorite DVD or Blu-Ray for your grad or dad; however, which ones are worth seeing that they will like? Here's my Gift Guide for the season.

If your grad or dad likes action movies:




"Red" reminded me of a kid hopped up on sugar and adrenaline - just when I thought the movie couldn't get any crazier, it did. It is also one of those rare action movies that manages to be funny throughout as well. When you combine that with an all-star cast, you get this movie, which was great and definitely fun to watch.

"Faster" is not going to win any Oscars, but if you're looking for a good "shoot 'em up" movie that actually does have a plot, then you will enjoy it - it's very "Kill Bill"-esque and it makes the most of its 98-minute runtime.

I liked The Fighter (and I'm not someone who normally likes boxing), so it is my opinion that anyone could like it. The performances of all of its actors, and its magnetic story line, make this movie great. The film is also based on a true story, which makes it even better.

If your grad or dad likes comedies or romantic comedies:



I like Jennifer Aniston and Adam Sandler, but Sandler's movies usually end up being hilarious or really dumb. "Just Go With It," however, ended up surprising me; it was a lot better than I thought it would be, based on what I saw in the trailer. I didn't know that Nicole Kidman stars in the film either, so that was an added plus, as I like her a lot.

Morning Glory had a really good cast, including three "big" A-listers, and I was expecting it to be great. Although it slowed down near the end, for the majority of the movie we are thrust into the fast-paced world of morning news, and it is this hectic atmosphere that makes the movie so enjoyable to watch.

"Easy A" definitely won't win any Oscars, but it's an enjoyable movie that definitely brings laughs and it lives up to, if not surpasses, its trailer, which is hard for a comedy to do these days.

If your grad or dad likes dramas:



"The Social Network" is extremely slick and also very compelling. Even if you are not a member of Facebook, you will still be able to appreciate this film; it slides back and forth between the present, in which Zuckerberg is involved in two lawsuits against him, and the past, where it shows how Facebook got off the ground and how it matured as a company.

"Conviction" was definitely one of the better law/courtroom films that I had seen in a long time, and it was particularly interesting to me that it was based on a true story. I don't doubt that Hilary Swank and perhaps Sam Rockwell will receive Oscar nominations for their roles in "Conviction," and the movie should get an Oscar nod as well.

I knew "The Tourist" would be good (you can never go wrong with Angelina or Johnny, and when you put them together in a movie there's so much star power that you may actually need sunglasses), but it surprised me by pulling out a twist at the end. I then went over the entire movie in my mind and tried to figure out what clues I missed, but I may have to see it again to fully put my mind at ease.

If your grad or dad likes fun movies, of any genre:



I have seen the original "Tron," albeit a while ago, but I remember that I watched it in my 7th grade computer class. My teacher wanted to show us the movie because when it came out in 1982 it was new and exciting, in that it was the first computer-animated movie of its kind. I know Jeff Bridges was in it as well, but other than that, I don't remember much about it; after seeing the dynamic "Tron Legacy," however, I am going to have to re-watch it.

I had wanted to see "Burlesque" ever since I saw its trailer, and so I was pleased when a Detroit-area screening became available approximately two weeks before it comes out in theaters. I expected that the combination of Cher and Christina Aguilera would be explosive, and it turned out that I was right.

Usually a trailer for a movie ends up making the movie seem better than it actually is, but the trailer for "Tangled" actually doesn't do it justice. We get that it's going to be a story about Rapunzel, and that it's Disney so it's probably going to be good; the actual story, however, was much more complicated, and the movie was much better than I thought it would be.


I hope these suggestions help in picking out a gift for the dads and/or grads in your lives! Check out my reviews from January 2011 and older at right to see other movies that are now out on DVD.

"X-Men: First Class"

First of all, I had the privilege of seeing a screening of this film at the new Emagine in Royal Oak. The auditorium they put us in was their only large auditorium, I believe; it held about 350 people. There was ample aisle room, and the auditorium was very similar to Emagine Novi's "luxury seating," except more wood-paneled. It's a great theater, and I look forward to seeing more screenings there.

Now on to the movie ...

I have seen all of the X-Men films in the series and really enjoyed them, and I thought that this one would be good as well, especially since it is a prequel and takes place in the 1960s, with a whole new cast, although some of the mutants are mutants that we have already met in the other X-Men movies, just as a younger version of themselves. Charles Xavier (James McAvoy, "The Conspirator") and Erik Lehnsherr (Michael Fassbender, "Jane Eyre") both find out at young ages, in completely different upbringings, that they are mutants. Xavier meets Raven (Jennifer Lawrence, "The Beaver") at a young age, who has the power to shape-shift human forms, and they grow up together, eventually lending their talents to the CIA. They meet Erik when he is trying to kill Sebastian Shaw (Kevin Bacon, "Super"), who had killed his mother when he was in the Nazi Germany concentration camps in the 1940s. Shaw is a mutant as well, although Erik didn't know it when he was younger. Xavier vows to help Erik, and they bring together a band of mutants, all with extraordinary powers, to help capture and defeat Shaw and his group of mutants, who have been using their powers for evil.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Movies out on DVD this Tuesday (6/7)

True Grit and Just Go With It will be out on DVD this Tuesday, June 7th. Be sure to read my reviews before buying or renting, and if you choose to buy, please use my Amazon affiliate links below: