Friday, March 29, 2013

The Host

The Host movie Stephenie Meyer

I read The Host when it was released, back in 2008, and although I want to reread it, I haven't had a chance yet. Therefore, I went into seeing the movie version with a sort of "book amnesia" - I remembered the main gist of the book, but not all of the small details. Regardless, I ended up really liking The Host, despite its currently dismal Rotten Tomatoes rating.

Melanie (Saoirse Ronan) lives on a planet where most of the humans have been occupied by "hosts" - aliens that take over their bodies and eventually force out the human souls that lie within. She is one of the members of the Resistance, one of the few people still human that hide from these aliens to avoid becoming occupied. She gets caught by one of the Seekers (Diane Kruger) and flings herself out a hotel window, but with their advanced medicines, the aliens are able to revive her and implant Wanderer, a host, into her. Wanderer's duty is to report Melanie's memories to the Seeker so that they can find the Resistance; what they don't anticipate, however, is that Melanie's soul will not die out so easily, and she eventually convinces Wanderer that they must find her boyfriend, uncle, and younger brother, before the aliens find them.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

G.I. Joe: Retaliation


The first G.I. Joe movie, G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra, came out in August 2009, when I was a very recent college graduate still living in Ann Arbor and car-less, so I wasn't able to see it. G.I. Joe: Retaliation, however, has an almost completely different cast, and definitely stands out on its own; there's no need to see the first one to enjoy this movie, although I'm guessing it might help with a little of the backstory. Retaliation is a mix of X-Men and Kill Bill, in my opinion, and it had some of the best action scenes I've seen in a film in a while.

Duke (Channing Tatum) and Roadblock (Dwayne Johnson, aka "The Rock") are G.I. Joes, and they fly back and forth between the desert and their families. After an attack on base camp, however, all of the Joes are murdered except for three of them. Together, they figure out that it was the President (Jonathan Pryce) who attacked them, because one of their enemies, Warden (Walton Goggins), who is skilled at disgusing himself, has taken on the form of the President and wants to start another world war; to do this, he needs to eliminate the Joes first. The three remaining Joes must team up with a few of their former comrades, including Snake Eyes (Ray Park), and try to get rid of the imposter President before he is able to do this.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Olympus Has Fallen

Olympus Has Fallen movie, Gerard Butler, Morgan Freeman

Gerard Butler's last few movies haven't been great, and his last one I reviewed, Playing for Keeps, was awful. Luckily, he's back to the action film genre in Olympus Has Fallen, and he plays a former secret service agent who now works at the Treasury. The movie was much better than Butler's recent endeavors, and there is a lot to recommend about it, although parts are definitely a bit unrealistic.

Mike Banning (Butler) serves President Benjamin Asher (Aaron Eckhart) as a secret service agent. One night, when the roads are especially snowy and treacherous, the President and his wife and young son leave Camp David with their entourage, headed to some billionaire's Christmas party, with the two of them in one car and the son and Banning in another. Their entourage of cars are suddenly halted when the lead car hits some ice and spins around, headed for the river. The car teeters and Banning is able to save the President; however, the car goes down with his wife still in the car.

A year and a half later, Banning has a boring security job at the Treasury, where he can see the White House from the window. The leader of South Korea comes to visit the President to talk about the North Korea situation and their mutual interests; soon, however, the White House finds itself under attack by North Korean forces. The President and some of his staff is kidnapped by Kang (Rick Yune), an evil man who wants to make a "united Korea," and he threatens to kill the President if the U.S. Government does not do as he says. Banning has made his way to the White House by now, and actually has slipped inside, even though the rest of the President's secret service guards have all been shot down. Banning makes contact with the government and helps get the President's son out of the White House, and will battle Kang to save the President as well.

Admission

Tina Fey, Paul Rudd, Admission

Admission was one of the first books I reviewed on my book blog, back in 2009, and I remember the novel took me a while to get through. It was a serious book, and I liked it a lot; I was surprised, then, to see it being made into a movie, and being marketed as a comedy, with Tina Fey and Paul Rudd in the leading roles. Although the movie had not been receiving good reviews, I still wanted to see it; unfortunately, as I suspected, it doesn't really know what movie genre it wants to be, and because of that, the film as a whole suffers.

Portia Nathan (Fey) is an admissions officer at Princeton, and is currently in the midst of helping to select the incoming freshman class of 2016. Her work is her life, and she takes it very seriously. When she learns that her boss (Wallace Shawn) is about to retire, she pits herself against one of her ambitious coworkers, Corinne (Gloria Reuben), so that she will be the top choice for the job; when she gets a call from John Pressman (Rudd), the principal of an alternative school called Quest, she goes to the school thinking that it will score her some originality points. What she finds, however, is an exceptionally bright student named Jeremiah (Nat Wolff), who wants to apply to Princeton, although "on paper" his grades are awful. When John tells her that he thinks Jeremiah is the son she gave up for adoption eighteen years ago, she's shocked, but wants to do her best to help him gain admission to Princeton.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Review: Disney on Ice at the Palace of Auburn Hills

This was not my first Disney On Ice, but I think it's the one that I enjoyed most. In the past two I've seen, it seemed as if they tried to squeeze in more content than they should in a 2-hour show (with intermission, too) but in Dare To Dream, the newest show to hit the Palace, there were only three stories: The Princess and the Frog, Cinderella, and Tangled.

I attended the show with my parents - my mom is a huge Disney fan, as am I - and we all very much enjoyed it. The show started with Princess and the Frog, which my parents hadn't seen, but I was able to explain the gist of the plot to them.

It then moved on to Cinderella, a Disney classic, and ended with Tangled, a recent movie that may become a classic in the next few years.

The skating, of course, was phenomenal, but there were some pyrotechnics and some aerial things that were surprising and also very cool.

I was glad I got to attend Disney On Ice this year, and am looking forward to next year's performance!

There are still some shows left for Disney On Ice today, March 17th, and you can get 20% off tickets with my discount code - use the code MOM during checkout.

Showtimes: 11:00am, 3:30pm, 7:30pm.

Valid for any performance but not valid on Rinkside or VIP tickets.

See below for some pictures from the show, as well, although I apologize for the quality - I brought my regular camera but unfortunately the batteries went dead, so these are from my cell phone.

*Disclosure: I am a Feld Family Ambassador and was provided with free Disney On Ice tickets for the purpose of writing this post. The opinions expressed here, however, are my own.


Disney on Ice
Mickey and Minnie
Disney On Ice

Disney On Ice
My mom and I at the show
Disney on Ice
The Princess and the Frog
Disney on Ice
Some voodoo magic during The Princess and the Frog
Disney on Ice
Cinderella and the castle

Friday, March 15, 2013

CONTEST: The Hobbit on Blu-ray


I reviewed The Hobbit back in December 2012, and it's definitely a unique movie. Fans of the Lord of the Rings series will love it, and I thought it was interesting, although to be fair I'm more of a Harry Potter than a LOTR fan.

Synopsis, in case you missed the movie:
J.R.R. Tolkien’s epic adventure follows the journey of Bilbo Baggins, who is swept into an amazing quest to reclaim the lost Dwarf Kingdom of Erebor from the fearsome dragon Smaug. Approached out of the blue by the wizard Gandalf the Grey, Bilbo finds himself joining a company of thirteen dwarves led by the legendary warrior, Thorin Oakenshield. Their journey will take them into the Wild; through treacherous lands swarming with Goblins and Orcs, deadly Wargs and Sorcerers.

From Academy Award®-winning filmmaker Peter Jackson comes “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey,” the first of a trilogy of films adapting the enduringly popular masterpiece The Hobbit, by J.R.R. Tolkien.


The Hobbit is coming to Blu-ray on March 19th, and you can win a copy here!

First, check out the widget below:




Then enter the contest via the Rafflecopter widget below. Prize will be sent via FedEx or UPS - no P.O. boxes, please. The contest ends on Saturday, March 23rd at 11:59pm EST, and winner will be contacted on Sunday, March 24th and have 24 hours to respond, or an alternate winner will be chosen.

Good luck!

*Disclosure: Warner Bros., as well as DBA Worldwide, is sponsoring this contest, and will be shipping the Blu-ray to the winner.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Stoker

Mia Wasikowska, Nicole Kidman, Stoker

Stoker is the first English-language film from director Chan-wook Park (Oldboy), who is known for creepy, psychological-type movies. It's also written by Wentworth Miller (Prison Break). With an all-star cast including Nicole Kidman, Matthew Goode, and Mia Wasikowska, Stoker often evolves past just being "creepy," and although it is slow-paced, most of the time you won't be able to keep your eyes off the screen.

Richard Stoker (Dermot Mulroney) dies in a car accident, leaving behind his wife Evelyn (Kidman) and daughter India (Wasikowska). His brother, Charlie (Matthew Goode), whom India didn't even know existed, shows up at the house, and decides to stay with the family for a bit while they get back on their feet. Mysterious things start to happen - he has chemistry with Evelyn, and people whom he seems to dislike start disappearing, like Mrs. McGarrick (Phyllis Somerville), the hired help, and his aunt Gwendolyn (Jacki Weaver), who stops by the house for a bit. India knows that something is up with him, but doesn't know exactly what, until an incident occurs that shows off his dark side.

The Call


I saw a trailer for The Call a few weeks ago and it looked fantastic; when an early screening was offered, I was excited to see it. About two-thirds of it is an "at the edge of your seat" thriller, and the last third is a bit more gruesome than I would have thought. The entire movie is very fast-paced as well - one of my major pet peeves with movies is when they are slow - and will keep you interested throughout its runtime.

Jordan Turner (Halle Berry) is a 911 operator, and is great at her job. She works in "The Hive" with the rest of the operators, gets along with her coworkers, and most of her calls are routine. One day, however, a girl calls in saying there's an intruder in her house. When Jordan is talking to her, the girl says that the intruder is leaving, but then hangs up; when Jordan calls her back, the intruder hears the ringtone cut short (the phone being picked up) and runs back upstairs to grab the girl. The next day, the girl is found dead in a field, and Jordan permanently changes jobs, to be a 911 training officer; the whole situation shook her up more than she would care to admit, and she knows it's her fault that the girl was murdered.

Six months later, Jordan is training a new crop of 911 operators. When she brings them down to see "The Hive," one of her coworkers gets a call that she doesn't know how to handle; another girl (Abigail Breslin) has been abducted, this time from the mall, and is stuck in the trunk of a car. Jordan's coworker isn't calm enough to talk to the girl, and so Jordan takes over, only to realize that the abductor is the same one who kidnapped and later murdered the same girl on Jordan's call six months ago.

The Incredible Burt Wonderstone

Steve Carell, Burt Wonderstone, Steve Buscemi, Jim Carrey

I was really looking forward to The Incredible Burt Wonderstone, and not just because it's set in Vegas, (one of my favorite cities) and that I visited it in January. The cast is definitely A-list - it includes Steve Buscemi, Steve Carell, Olivia Wilde, James Gandolfini, and Jim Carrey, among others - and the trailer looked extremely funny. Unfortunately, Burt ended up being a case of all of its jokes being in the trailer, and the rest of the movie just being so-so.

Burt Wonderstone (Carell) decides at a young age that "magicians are cool," and he becomes friends and magic partners with Anton Marvelton (Buscemi), after learning from an instructional video by Rance Holloway (Alan Arkin), a famous magician. Flash forward thirty years later, and the two have been the headlining act at Bally's in Las Vegas for the past decade. Their boss and the owner of Bally's, Doug Munny (Gandolfini), however, thinks that they need to do something new to draw in ticket sales, and they decide to do a public stunt, which of course goes awry, ending with Marvelton being injured and very angry at Burt. Burt tries to do their magic act alone (with hilarious results, actually), but of course it fails, since it's a 2-person show, and Doug kicks him out. He's left trying to decide if he even wants to do magic anymore, and trying to find as many gigs as he can; he ends up taking a regular gig at an assisted living home, where he runs into Rance Holloway, and the 10th birthday party of Doug's son.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

CONTEST: Return to Nim's Island Blu-ray combo pack


Return to Nim’s Island is premiering on Hallmark Channel March 15th 2013 at 7/8C!

About the movie:
Return to Nim’s Island, the sequel to Walden Media’s 2008 box office hit Nim's Island, picks up the story a few years later with 14-year-old Nim (Bindi Irwin) more determined than ever to protect her island and the animals that call it home. With ruthless resort developers and greedy wildlife poachers threatening the existence she loves, Nim realizes she and her animal pals can’t defend their home alone. To save her island, she is forced to combine forces with an outsider: Edmund, a runaway from the mainland. Only with his help does she stand a chance of stopping the villains from dismantling her world.

Return to Nim's Island will be available on Blu-Ray and DVD exclusively at Walmart four days after its TV premiere. Or, you could win a copy here!

First, check out the widget below:



Then enter the contest via the Rafflecopter widget below. Prize will be sent via FedEx or UPS - no P.O. boxes, please. The contest ends on Tuesday, March 19th at 11:59pm EST, and winner will be contacted on Wednesday, March 20th and have 24 hours to respond, or an alternate winner will be chosen.

Good luck!

*Disclosure: Walden Media & Hallmark Channel, as well as DBA Worldwide, is sponsoring this contest, and will be shipping the Blu-ray to the winner.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, March 11, 2013

Contest: That '70s Show Blu-ray, Daimajin Triple Feature, and Up From Slavery

Mill Creek Entertainment is excited to announce that it has been nominated for a few categories for the Home Media Magazine Awards, and because of that, readers of Yes/No Films will be getting some perks.

First off: please go vote for Mill Creek Entertainment in their various categories, at this link: http://homemediamagazine.com/awards-vote 

The voting window is now open and will end on April 14.

Below are their nominated discs that are available for the contest:

Best Older TV Show on Disc:
That ’70s Show: Season 1 Blu-ray, Mill Creek
Masters of the Universe: 30th Anniversary Commemorative Collection, Mill Creek

Best Complete TV Series Set:
Masters of the Universe: 30th Anniversary Commemorative Collection, Mill Creek

Best Boxed Set (Non-TV):
Daimajin Triple Feature Blu-ray, Mill Creek

Best Nonfiction TV Show:
Up From Slavery, Mill Creek

Best Packaging:
Masters of the Universe: 30th Anniversary Commemorative Collection (Castle Grayskull), Mill Creek

Best Title Upgrade:
Daimajin Triple Feature Blu-ray, Mill Creek
That ’70s Show: Season 1 Blu-ray, Mill Creek

Best Kidvid Disc:
TV Toons to Go, Mill Creek

Best Animation on Disc:
Masters of the Universe: 30th Anniversary Commemorative Collection, Mill Creek

Best Catalog Collection:
Daimajin Triple Feature, Mill Creek

Best Foreign Film on Disc:
Daimajin Triple Feature, Mill Creek (Japanese)

Best Animated TV Show:
Masters of the Universe: 30th Anniversary Commemorative Collection, Mill Creek
TV Toons to Go, Mill Creek

Best Comedy: 
That ’70s Show: Season 1, Mill Creek

*If you are interested in buying any of these, I have a code for 25% off your purchase at millcreekdirect.com. Code: MCDB7B6.

Mill Creek Entertainment has graciously agreed to give one lucky reader a three-pack of That ’70s Show: Season 1 Blu-ray, Daimajin Triple Feature Blu-ray and Up From Slavery. 

Enter via the Rafflecopter form below. The contest will end next Monday, March 18th, at 11:59pm EST. Winner will be contacted on Tuesday, March 19th and have 24 hours to respond or an alternate winner will be chosen. Prize will be shipped by Mill Creek Entertainment.

Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, March 8, 2013

Oz The Great and Powerful

Oz the Great and Powerful, James Franco, Mila Kunis, Zach Braff, Rachel Weisz, Michelle Williams

Oz The Great and Powerful filmed at the Raleigh Studios here in Michigan during the summer of 2011, and during that time, James Franco, Mila Kunis, and sometimes Zach Braff could be seen out and about around Royal Oak and other nearby cities. It's the last big movie to film at Raleigh, and certainly one of the last before Governor Snyder cut the film incentive rebates. Michigan can take great pride in Oz, as it both pays homage to the original 1939 film as well as showing that it definitely stand on its own two feet as a fantastic prequel to that movie.

Kansas, early 20th century: Oscar, known as Oz (James Franco) plays a magician in a traveling circus. He's a bit of a "ladies man," and has just picked his latest (woman) magician assistant. His male assistant, Frank (Zach Braff), cautions Oz that the other circus folk are after him, and he manages to escape in a hot air balloon. Only one problem: there's a tornado in the sky, and he and his balloon get caught in it.

When he opens his eyes, however, he's in a beautiful world, and the first person he meets is the beautiful Theodora (Mila Kunis). He showers her with attention, and because she's never had this much attention from a man before, she instantly falls in love with him. She also realizes that he's the Wizard, the man with the same name as their land who is part of a prophecy; legend says that he will save them from the Wicked Witch. Oz meets her sister, Evanora (Rachel Weisz), who urges him to go find the Wicked Witch and claim the gold that will rightly be his as king - but it turns out to be a trick, because Evanora is actually the Wicked Witch. On Oz's journey, he meets the supposed Wicked Witch, Glinda (Michelle Williams), who is actually Glinda the Good Witch, and they figure out Evanora's lies. By this time, also, Evanora has turned Theodora against him, and she flies into a jealous rage ... which ends up having major consequences.

Dead Man Down


I wasn't entirely sure what Dead Man Down would be about before seeing it, other than it had a revenge plot, but it ended up being like the TV show Revenge, minus Emily VanCamp's red Sharpie pen, and with a lot more violence and guns. It's hard to say what the moral of the story was, either, and Colin Farrell didn't have many lines in this film (but wore lots of tank tops, so ... that's fine). The movie was more entertaining than not, but it could have benefited from a much shorter runtime.

Victor (Farrell) lives in a huge apartment building in New York City. He often sees a beautiful woman, Beatrice (Noomi Rapace), on the balcony across the way, and one day he gets a note from her. They go out on a date of sorts, and it's going well until she shows him a video on her cell phone of him killing a man. She tells him she isn't going to call the police, but she wants a favor from him: to kill the drunk driver who hit her car a few years ago, and left her with permanent scarring on her face. Victor agrees, and they strike up a relationship of sorts, but Beatrice soon finds out that Victor is not entirely whom he appears to be, and she eventually gets entangled with his game of revenge and vendetta that he harbors against two hit men.

Emperor


I knew almost nothing about the fate of Japan after World War II until I saw this film, and the movie is almost like taking a history lesson. Since the Americans had recently won the war, it was up to us to decide what would befall the Emperor of Japan, and if he committed "war crimes" or not. Those that had committed war crimes were either put in jail for life or sentenced to death. This job fell to General McArthur, who trusted a few of his men to give him honest recommendations; this is where Emperor starts its story.

General Bonner Fellers (Matthew Fox) is in charge of investigating whether or not the Emperor committed war crimes - and ordered the bombing on Pearl Harbor - during World War II. General McArthur (Tommy Lee Jones) has assigned him the task of figuring out who was responsible for Pearl Harbor, and thus starting the war; but what McArthur doesn't know is that Fellers had a Japanese girlfriend, Aya (Eriko Hatsune), while he was in college, who later returned back to Japan. Aya had been in the U.S. to study abroad, but when her father became ill, she returned back to her home country. Since Fellers is now back in Japan, he assigns his valet the task of looking for Aya, and is optimistic that she is still alive; however, there have been many bombings, including using the atom bomb over Hiroshima, and she may or may not have survived the attacks.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Jack the Giant Slayer


Nicholas Hoult, who recently starred as a zombie in Warm Bodies, now has the title role in Jack the Giant Slayer, and although I liked him as a zombie, he works just fine as a human as well. I didn't know Stanley Tucci was in this film, either, and playing "the bad guy," nonetheless; a role that is different than his usual roles. However, despite mediocre reviews from friends, I ended up enjoying Jack, although it's not a "thinking person's" movie by any means.

Jack (Hoult) lives in a tiny cottage with his dad. Princess Isabelle (Eleanor Tomlinson), heir to the throne, lives in the palace with her mom and dad, the king and queen of their small city in medieval England. Ten years later, Jack has lost his dad to an illness, and Isabelle has lost her mom, too, and the times have not been kind to them - Jack lives with his uncle, a constant nag, and Isabelle's father, the king (Ian McShane), has betrothed her to a man twice her age, Roderick (Stanley Tucci), despite her pleas that she be allowed to marry for love instead. Jack goes into the village one day to sell a horse, and a monk gives him some magic beans for it, and cautions him not to let the beans get wet. Unfortunately, that's exactly what happens, and a beanstalk grows through Jack's cottage, which has the princess inside at the time. Jack and some of the king's men, including Roderick and Elmont (Ewan McGregor), must climb the beanstalk and rescue the princess, and hope that there's no giants at the top like legends have foretold.

21 and Over


If you think 21 & Over looks like The Hangover, there's a good reason: the writers, Jon Lucas and Scott Moore, are the directors and writers for this movie. Instead of having best friends looking for a missing friend, this time it's college-themed, so the friends have to get their drunk BFF home before his med school admission interview the next day. The only catch is that he isn't telling them his address - he's too drunk to be coherent - so the friends have to retrace their steps and find someone who knows it.

Casey (Skyler Astin) and Miller (Miles Teller) have reunited at the college of their best friend, Jeff Chang (Justin Chon), to surprise him for his 21st birthday. However, his super-strict dad, Dr. Chang (Francois Chau), coldly informs them that Jeff has his med school admission interview tomorrow, and will not be going out partying with them. Once his dad leaves, though, they manage to convince Jeff to go out with them for one drink; as in any good party movie, though, one drink is never what it sounds like, and soon Jeff Chang - always called Jeff Chang by his buddies, never just Jeff - is definitely not sober anymore. Casey and Miller have to figure out how to get him back to his house, except there's one problem ... they don't know his address.