21 Jump Street

21 Jump Street poster

Release: Friday, March 16, 2012


Jonah Hill, as of late, has been quite the man about Hollywood. The former chubster’s darting in and out of almost every movie that has a possible scene of comic lewdness in it, for the chance of boosting a paycheck a couple mil. Can’t say I necessarily blame him. In many instances he’s great and he fills out the screen nicely — and no, that’s not another fat joke. Or, maybe it is. I don’t know.

This past March we took a drive past Johnny Depp’s old neighborhood — 21 Jump Street –this time, in the form of a full-length feature film. Unfortunately, in 2012, most of those tough jean-jacket-touting teen idols have been substituted by a contemporary hallucination of the stigmas. One that doesn’t have Depp’s charisma and that doesn’t have (for obvious reasons) the lingo and attitudes held by most teens of the time, so directors of today instead substitute in penis/fart/boob jokes that is the comic expressiveness of our era.

This wouldn’t have necessarily been a mistake had the entire movie not suffered a case of the look-a-like, sound-a-like, be-a-likes. Whereas Tatum offers his funny side in 21 Jump Street, Hill does nothing more but pad his resume in this raunchy little romp down backroads and dark alleys …wait. No, damn it that was Superbad. Now I’m getting confused.

And, how easy it is to get that way. With Hill starring in films like Moneyball (a viable movie that enjoyed great success) as well as the upcoming The Watch (already showing tell-tale signs of a critical and commercial flop) and lots of stuff in between, it’s next to impossible to get away from thinking about everything that Hill is bringing to a revamped late-’80s television show about kicking crime’s ass out of high schools/colleges.

Sadly, there’s nothing comically different in this from many of Hill’s other works of the filmed variety, but I also cannot dismiss this picture by saying it was not hilarious — it was. Painfully so, at times, actually. The cameo by Depp was a must, and I’m glad he did get a line in edgeways.

Additionally, I credit directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller for keeping things real when every environment within the movie seemed to go to hell. A rather focused and trim storyline requires the two recently-graduated-to-full-cop-status bozos (Hill and Tatum) to keep track of a new drug on the market — a synthetic substance that is known to kill and create all kinds of crazy hallucinations. The typical series-of-misadventures montage whisks us straight to a conclusion that can be detected a mile away — yes, even while in the ‘Tripping Hard As Balls’ phase.

Though relatively true to the spirit of its televised ancestor, 21 Jump Street is largely a collection of some of the funniest lines Hill (and definitely Tatum) have read and rehearsed for their director(s). Mix that in with plot twists that have been recounted over and over again and you average out with an enjoyable experience, but be weary that you’re in for déjà vu all over again, with at least one actor.

3-5Recommendation: For the laughs, this is an absolute must. For originality, you’d be better off with Inception….or at least, something else.

Rated: R

Running Time: 109 mins.

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In The Land Of Blood And Honey


Release: Friday, December 23, 2011


If nothing else, In The Land Of Blood And Honey is a long slideshow of violent periods in European history. While it focuses on the Bosnian conflict of the early 1990s, specifically the chaotic Siege of Sarajevo (1992), it barely rises to be anything more than a bloody documentary on the discussion. Scenes are spliced together with the quickness of a bullet from its shell, a tactic that simultaneously accents the lack of sensitivity in all of this, and loses the audience just as effectively.

I cannot afford to let Jolie off the hook too easily, she has starred in enough movies at this point to know what separates attention-feeding from attention-dismissing. Through the endless scenes of rampant violence it slowly becomes more and more of a chore to watch this film. There are only sprinklings of acting throughout, and its hardly dialogue-driven. Not that it had to be. It’s purpose here is expository, not the development of even its most central characters. Indeed, the movie’s pivotal scene is at the very beginning: the main characters Danijel (Goran Kostic) and Ajla (Zana Marjanovic) having a romantic night out at a club when a bomb detonates, destroying the entire scene in an instant. From there, its virtually all blood and no honey.

I was every now and again reminded of the film Blood Diamond, a statement on the inherent problems with diamonds from war-ravaged African countries. Those reminders only had the shock caused by graphic scenes of torture in common. Plots and everything else, obviously, were different. I just remember feeling the same, disconcerted and completely hopeless in my seat as I watched woman after woman getting raped and humiliated by the Serbs. I owe my discomfort to Jolie. The most poignant aspect of the film is that there often is not enough commentary on non-soldiers and non-prisoners of wars. Where the cameras go here, it is safe to say, is an emotional low that many journeys have yet to visit.

When you get away from all that, however, you have a problem. Scenes in which Bosniak and Serbian attacks weren’t being accurately dissected were boring and not engaging enough to recover from said attacks. There’s a fragmented relationship between Muslim Ajla and Serbian Danijel but it truly never develops; in fact it was practically stunted from the get-go. Every now and then there would be a redeeming moment, enough for you to come to grips with the seriousness of Jolie’s purpose, and for you to appreciate (for lack of a better word) the realities of living during wartime.

Reiterating, I will rate Blood and Honey‘s violence scale thus. During another random sweep of apartment blocks in Sarajevo, some Serbian ruffians explode through Ajla and her sister’s unit, and in an unexplained instance, punish the sister by dropping her infant child from the second-story window.

That may be all you need to know about Jolie’s debut into filmmaking. The choice should be yours to decide if it is going to continue. My vote is yes, but I advise her to keep her vision together a bit more next time. It all fell apart for me as the weight of the untold horrors grew heavier, to the point where I was convinced the director fully intended for us to not forget one second of the suffering.

That’s why there was such little payoff , and such little triumph, for both Danijel and the audience come time to roll credits.


1-5Recommendation: I would NOT do what I just did: pick it up on a whim from your local Wal-Mart with the intent being its your nighttime enjoyment. This is a heavy movie, with very real damage to be potentially done to anyone who isn’t prepared. A vast majority of the time, a movie’s purpose is to provide entertainment. Not sure if we receive that In The Land Of Blood And Honey; it may just be an outlier.

Rated: R

Running Time: 126 mins.

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The Dark Knight Rises

Bane in the rain

Release: July 20, 2012


Allow me to first give an acknowledgement to the families of the victims of the July 20, 2012 Colorado shootings at a screening of this very film. Tragically viewers lost lives while enjoying Nolan’s third installment of his Batman series and we’ll probably never know for what reason. My condolences to all Aurora-area victims.

The legend has ended.

What’s come, has gone and what’s gone is, well….some of the best action hero moments in the history of filmmaking. Though Nolan headed up this particular crew and had the vision to make Batman as dark as it became, there must be many thanks given to the plethora of others involved in the nearly seven-year process. Not to mention, what fantastic acting from a mostly-consistent cast throughout the trilogy (the whole thing with Rachel Dawes being played by two different actresses still gets me, though). We started on a high plateau with the standard set by Batman Begins in 2005. Nothing could prepare us for what was to come three years later, when we were introduced to the Heath Ledger Joker — who was really not as funny as he was disturbing. And now, here we are in 2012.

Nolan’s epic finale is a nearly-flawless two-hour-and-forty-four-minute ode to the temporarily relieved Gotham City, a metropolis free from the fugitive Dark Knight and his intentionally misconstrued identity. Set eight years after his vanishing following the death of Harvey Dent, TDKRis truly a monster of its own. For a lot of the time the burden Batman is carrying is almost so great as to exceed capacity on the screen; audience members leaned further forward in their seats in this movie than I’ve seen in recent memory. Will Batman rise to the challenge? Or even more elemental than that, can he?


It was long thought that the city was surely strong enough to stand on its own without the bat silhouette gracing the sky, without a bat symbol smeared on the sidewalk from a child’s chalk pastel. It was long thought that Harvey Dent was the new good in Gotham (until, well, you know…..). That good, though, was not nearly good enough. We enter the film at a ceremony celebrating the life of the late district attorney (Dent) with Commissioner Gordon commending the man’s efforts in cleaning up the streets. Thanks to him, Gotham has been corruption-free for several years.

Thus, Nolan has given us quite the vantage point at the start; the notion that familiarity breeds contempt. Too much down time for the city’s finest inevitably gives rise to the city’s newest, most formidable threat ever. For Nolan to choose Bane over the studio’s supposed favorite (The Riddler) was to signify that something much larger than the return of Batman was going to happen to Gotham. The Dark Knight is an answer, though for a limited time only, Batman’s services are being offered at half-price. We see Selina Kyle for the first time here, played by the luscious Anne Hathaway. She’s sometimes at Mr. Wayne’s side, sometimes not; then again, that’s not the kind of attention you want. Hathaway’s Catwoman is a subversive trickster, nearly camouflaged by the night that hangs like Wayne’s cape.

Personally I thought Nolan’s interpretation of Catwoman was brilliant (perhaps owing more to Hathaway’s performance). She creates a tension that is always present throughout the film, a tension we haven’t seen consistently or been obsessed with throughout the course of the film since the evil chuckles of the Joker rattled down empty hallways a few years back.  She is a minor foil for Batman at first, but when push comes to shove, it is Bane that proves just how much they need each other to triumph.


The moment we first get to meet Tom Hardy at his most intimidating is an opening sequence involving planes and some precious cargo. Again, leave it to Nolan to set a high standard early on. This one scene alone may even eclipse the pinnacle of ass-kicking in Batman Begins. Its a stunning moment that brings us up to speed with a man like Bane — what his intentions are, how big a threat, who he wants to focus on making suffer first. But apparently that last one can be answered with ‘everyone.’ All that stand in Bane’s way basically get annihilated. His focus is the entirety of Gotham, when he blows up 99% of the bridges that feed the city, leaving only one to the surrounding areas.

The confinement of all Gotham City policemen to the underground sewage system; the destruction and terrorizing of a football game; the breaking of Batman’s back: it is all part of a scheme that’s larger than life. It should make your jaw drop.

Especially the last hour or so of the film. What goes down in the concluding moments to Nolan’s franchise is some of the most intense, visually arresting, violent and complex fighting sequences ever attempted on camera. Not to mention Nolan’s chief use of the IMAX cameras, and wanting to release it on an eight-story screen. “It’s larger than life, that scope and that scare; [its] what I really wanted to provide for them,” is what Nolan tells a reporter at the London premiere.

It’s one thing to watch superhero versus villain duking it out in the streets, but when you add to that thousands of freed prisoners (all armed with assault rifles) and the entire city’s police force you come to understand that, by now, Nolan knows how to work under pressure and how to manipulate violence so that it becomes something more representative of art than of hatred. Bane’s revolution is a kind of symbology that Nolan’s work has finally been done. We’ve reached extremes here, with the Hudson and East Rivers entirely frozen and serving as death traps for any citizen wishing to escape.

Interestingly enough, Bale seems to spend less time in his suit in TDKR than he did in his first time donning the suit in Begins. While there was certainly reason to demonstrate Wayne’s life out of the suit, it would have been nice to see Batman being more….Batman. I don’t deny him The Bat (a cool new toy courtesy of Mr Lucius Fox once again); aerial support was critical in the end. But we learn that its Selina Kyle who would take down Bane, Lucius and the Commissioner keep everything under control while Batman bombards the city with his attacks against the Bane infantry, and Detective Blake (the perpetually awesome Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is the man charged with essentially freeing all the city’s cops from their underground prisons. Ultimately, what is it that Batman does that would absolve him from his so-called sins against Gotham? What would reflect a lifetime of pain and suffering? All arrows point to self-sacrifice.


4-5Recommendation: This becomes the only logical conclusion to the somber saga that is the Dark Knight. It’s not even necessary that I recommend this film! You’ll see it if you’re wanting to see it. But here’s why Nolan succeeded in reaching scores of fans worldwide: independently, each film stands alone as a work of art. When put together as a trilogy, you may be looking at one of the most comprehensive and cohesive superhero stories that will ever be filmed. We’re not talking technological breakthroughs, or instantly recognizable casts. We’re talking about states of mind. If you are willing to lose yours over a movie, this one is it.

Rated: PG-13

Running Time: 164 mins.

Quoted: “Calm down, Doctor! Now’s not the time for fear. That comes later.”

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Preview: Nolan’s Legend Ends


Four years have yielded this final night of waiting for a conclusion to Christopher Nolan’s epic and visionary Batman series. It’s been, particularly as of late, a period of massive speculation, of hype and hysteria and even death threats on the part of fans who are going up against anyone who may talk ill of the third installment. Yes, this movie has generated quite a frenzy and almost not even in a good way anymore. Critics have been threatened and fans look all the more ridiculous.

I know I’m going to enjoy this movie whether or not it winds up as good as its predecessor or even its original. It’s a new Nolan production; it deserves a kind of acknowledgement that something has really been achieved here. No matter if there are those who try to take more away from his movies but simply can’t (because it is, after all, based on a comic) it is still a milestone in filmmaking — if, only for the size of the hypersphere surrounding its release.

I can’t tell you exactly what I’m expecting to love in this movie — in all likelihood, everything! But with biased opinion comes shitty writing so I’m going to have to dig deep to find flaws and weaknesses in The Dark Knight Rises. I have a ticket to see it at ten minutes after midnight tonight and I will share details intimately with everyone sometime after that, when my brain summarily collapses under the weight of Nolan’s genius.

See you at the flick!

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Wanderlust movie poster

Release: Friday, February 24, 2012


Something about Paul Rudd tricks me into watching more Paul Rudd movies. Some are good, a few, not so good and there’s the occasional one or two that are terrible and make me think twice for the future Rudd rentals or theater pilgrimages. From the three Ruddy options I had to choose, I go with my gut and say that I hope he never does a movie like this again.

Sweet George Gergenblatt this was a misfire of a comedic take on the hippie culture! I mean, don’t call me a hater of tree-huggers….I do like planet Earth but some of the vibes thrown by what’s purportedly a “big cast” here in Wanderlust just don’t do it for me in this bizarre Apatow production, dude…

Recently laid-off George (Rudd) and his wife Linda (Aniston) are forced to leave New York and head to an Atlanta dwelling belonging to his scab of a brother, Rick (Ken Marino). The obviously well-adjusted man is rich, abusive to his increasingly distant wife, and the owner of a company that makes port-a-johns to boot. Okay, he just sucks.

Then there’s the casual and easygoing layover that George and Linda happen upon on the journey south after Linda insists she has to stop for the night. Turns out, its a magical hippie commune and the outer world is quickly sealed out of the frame from here on out. Pulling down a long driveway, the couple are met by a nude man who tells them its only a few miles down the road. Backing up in a frenzied panic results in flipping the car, so the two are destined to lodge up.

Justin Theroux is as obnoxious as ever as Seth, seemingly a ringleader in the caravan of carefree minglers, nudists and nurturers, herbal consumers and health activists. It’s not a bad place to be by any stretch of the imagination. It’s the awkward way the film crew crash into the scene and portray the entire thing, that’s all. It’s the loud noise at the party that causes everyone to go silent for a moment and no one steps forward to say it was them.

The movie’s hyperboles aren’t isolated to the so-named intentional community. Back in Atlanta (zip code ‘normal’) the rich older brother is beyond insufferable. I didn’t think it was possible for a character to be such a detestable jackass — never mind what Marino was thinking pursuing a dead balloon from the get-go. But we eventually do get away from Rick, and his uppance does come!

Rudd may not be at his best form here (at least in terms of the classic characters he has done before and those he shall reprise soon) but I cheered for him and Linda at the end. The hippie culture was all sorts of weird and mainly a gathering of textbook cliches about people who celebrate the purity of life, of loving one another and doing no harm to others.

It was grossly miscalculated on Wain’s part — or maybe the writers, or everyone — and in particular the overwrought script they had drafted for anyone not a hippie in the film. (The media take a particularly nice jab.) Perhaps the suits wishing to convert the property that is Elysium into homes and other buildings were drawn to scale; everyone and almost everything else — overblown.

More importantly, I think it could have benefited the overall design had Marino and Wain focused less on including all possible banalities and more on beefing up the plot so there was actually more to existence than tripping acid around a circle of hypocrites. I suppose it only seems that way since none of the actors are really believable hippies.

George falls asleep on Linda

1-5Recommendation: Worth seeing if you are a fan of Paul Rudd for the penis jokes. There are some good line-o-rama moments in front of a mirror. Wouldn’t want to watch, though, if you’re looking for an accurate take on hippie culture.

Rated: R

Running Time: 98 mins.

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Jeff, Who Lives At Home


Release: September 14, 2011 (limited)


Jeff, Who Lives At Home may be as skimpy on the scenes/shots as a filmmaker may ever want to go without having to possibly reconsider his career in full-length features. With this new Duplass story, we meet, greet and then leave in under 80 minutes — if you don’t include end credits.

In that way, Jeff really is paced like a semi-tragic short story, a novella of true novelty. Its the story of a strange 30-year-old man-child who lives in his mother’s basement and has an (endearing) obsession with things being universally connected. One day his mom calls requesting that he do her a solid and run to the local Home Depot to pick up some wood glue for a broken kitchen item. In the course of trying to accomplish the one task, Jeff gets distracted.

Segel’s character is a man of depth, to say the least. The movie is constructed so that it catches him at all the coincidental (or not) moments which enable him to think that things are all happening for a reason. An angry caller with the wrong number (or, again, is it?) keeps asking for someone named Kevin. Confused, he hangs up but Jeff’s left wondering.

Along the way we bump into Jeff’s older brother Pat (Ed Helms) who looks like this the entire time:

A strung-out paint store employee, Pat’s a night-and-day difference from our main man. His marital woes are obvious: he’s impulse-bought a Porsche — as one does to enhance their love life. Jeff and his brother become entangled en route to finding the ever-illusive ‘Kevin’ and in the process, Pat wrecks his idea of marriage into a tree.

An act of the cosmos? More hilarious than anything, really. This movie is like watching a game of catch. Perspective seems to keep shifting back and forth between Jeff and Pat, one an idealist the other a realist. The idea of the movie is actually somewhat profound but in my view the underlying ideas aren’t as fully realized as they maybe could have been. There’s great acting, however, that should not go unnoticed. Susan Sarandon as the boys’ mother, her own emotions fragile after the passing of her husband, is wrapped up in an affair all her own, adding another twist that was downright weird.

Still, just to watch Jason Segel manage to hold back most of his goofy, school-of-Seth-Rogen chuckles is more rewarding than you might expect, even if How I Met Your Mother and Freaks & Geeks are Segel’s stomping grounds.

bruhh. . .

Recommendation: Worth watching for the young and the awkward. This was a neat little addition to the so-called “mumblecore movement” and a welcome distraction from megalithic/awesome/phenomenally huge wide-release superhero action franchises. 

Rated: PG-13

Running Time: 83 mins.

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Release: Friday, June 29, 2012


I’ve been a guffawing fan of MacFarlane’s Peter Griffin for a long time now, so it was a natural transition for me, from apartment to car to Regal Cinemas West Town; even though I’d be seeing it quite after-the-fact. Still, entering the theater and leaving this one came with some strings attached: you gotta know what you’re in for…

Seth MacFarlane makes his debut on the big-screen with Ted, what’s being proclaimed as THE comedy of 2012. There should be a dot-dot-dot and then ‘so far’ with that, but we don’t get that in the tagline for this movie and maybe we shouldn’t. This is a strong, hilarious introduction for the funny guy who’s the brains behind the Quahog operation on Adult Swim; a show, by the way people, that’s simply a batch of goofy fart jokes, infantile crude humor and amazingly timely (if not damn offensive) one-liners. Does it make sense, then, to assume the first film from its creator would be anything different?

I’m not saying that’s a bad thing, by the way.

As a child, John Bennett (Wahlberg) fulfills a wish that his stuffed bear, Teddy, would have a real personality so they could be friends forever. And so they grow up together being inseparable buddies, which yes, does come to serve as a point of no return for Mark’s future, and beautiful girlfriend Lori (Kunis). That being said, the stuffed animal causes more havoc and whoops more ass than a hurricane it seems, and possesses a worse mouth than Howard Stern himself. Remaining lovable, though, Ted does indeed come to realize that the meaning of ‘forever’ has to be shortened sometimes despite his repeated antics in trying to keep his owner around.

There are no plot twists or scratch-your-head moments in Ted, but it does in fact have a heart (though it may pump more testosterone than blood through its soft little body) and the characters are all likable — minus one jackass (Lori’s boss). It’s unlikely that people who come out decrying this movie are fans of the show(s) either, or at least have seen enough episodes to get used to this man’s brand of humor, but it’s also safe to assume that there could have been worse coming from Seth MacFarlane in a full-length feature.

Mark Wahlberg is great (and very Bostonian) in this movie, as are Kunis and MacFarlane — who’s only had to tweak his Rhode Island twang a tad to fit the bear. Oh, and Giovanni Ribisi’s pedophiliac comic genius apparently needed to be exploited sooner; he’s …. wow.

This is the Family Guy movie we needed. It’s the Griffins, just not in animation. Unfortunately there’s no Cleveland, but there’s a talking stuffed bear for God’s sake. I suppose the highly detestable Rex could be the closest we get to Quagmire?

It’s no blockbuster, but it’s pretty much what we needed from these guys, and there are painfully funny scenes. So grab your thunder buddy and check out Ted in a theater near you!


3-0Recommendation: It beats sitting at home watching re-runs of Family Guy on lots of channels. This has freedom to run with more jokes, more insensitivity and more beer-chugging and bong-ripping, yet has more time also to redeem those moments. Mila Kunis does stick around, after all. And that, was a spoiler alert.

Rated: R

Running Time: 115 mins.

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To Rome With Love


Released: Friday, June 22, 2012 (limited)


To put it kindly, this latest installment from Woody Allen had a lot going on in it. So much in fact that it was clear he didn’t know what to do with it all. Though I can’t say that anything about the film was insufferable or even really bad, its just….well, maybe its that which was wrong with the whole affair — when it was over, so what? Everything pretty much worked out perfectly, including one of the the movie’s more compelling female characters — Monica (Ellen Page) — being written off all-too-conveniently. In fact her entire character was too perfect to be true, as a supposed bisexual, “pseudo-intellectual,” temporary-out-of-work actress from the States. She was flirty besides.

This was a romantic film with about as many different plots occurring simultaneously as there were languages being spoken by a plethora of talented actors — some recognized and some not (the actors, that is.) We are whisked into the urbane, yet wonky storyline via an Italian policeman directing heavy traffic. He provides the cue which introduces us to many of the characters, including famous American architect John (Alec Baldwin), his wife Phyllis (Judy Davis), and a young student named Jack (Jesse Eisenberg).

If there’s one thing Allen did really really well on this project, it was placing emphasis on the street corner. Jack comes across the architect literally at the corner of a quaint little avenue, a run-in that causes John to follow Jack back to the place where he had spent some time as a youth. Baldwin’s role in this movie is an interesting one, as he functions more narratively than as a plot character. But, ultimately, he shadows Eisenberg around the set, advising him here and instructing him there, and “oh I wouldn’t do that if I were you” in almost every scene he is invited into. It gets a bit old.

While there were a few moments that got on my nerves the movie’s intent was good; it had heart and lots of it. Penelope Cruz was a nice touch, also.

The random and rapid rise to celebrity-status of Leopold Pisanello was absolutely gold, despite a lack of an explanation as to how it happened. Thank Roberto Benigni for that as well; he comically sold us the notion that the most important meal of the day can be the most important story of your life! Between that and getting interviewed while shaving in his own bathroom, Leopold’s situation anchored the movie deeper into the comedy side of rom-com, and the fact that a stray bride-to-be (Alessandra Mastronardi) roamed the streets in search of a beauty salon, only to bump into a famous Italian actor and subsequently get held at gunpoint and make love to her assailant thereafter  revealed the movie had no intentions of really getting too serious at any point. Like most of the so-called relationships throughout.

So when I say everything in this film ends perfecto, I mean so. Its a little too Cinderella-y for my tastes, and the presence of Jesse Eisenberg in a Woody Allen film was simply too soon for Allen and too American for Roma. There’s oodles of laughs in here, a good number from 76-year-old Allen, but there’s no consequences.

I say, who cares? If he continues at the rate he’s going currently, there’ll be another Allen test piece next year, and its already July.


3-0Recommendation: Lesser Woody Allen, there is no doubt. This isn’t top-tier stuff by any means, but it’s just entertaining enough. 

Rated: R

Running Time: 102 mins.

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The Amazing Spider-man

Amazing Spiderman poster

Release: Tuesday, July 3, 2012


It’s difficult not to style a review of The Amazing Spider-man in a compare-contrast manner; let’s face it, we only just got over seeing Tobey Maguire donning the red-and-blue a few years ago. However, let the record be set straight: there was so much room for improvement in the cartoonish early-2000s film about a boy whose spider bite yields a new life with strange abilities.

Marc Webb decided to set off on a mission to gruff up Peter Parker a bit — make it just a bit more believable that an actor could pull off the true outcast look that was trademark comic book Spider-man. That applied to more than just spiking up Andrew Garfield’s hair, or incidentally hiring Willem Dafoe’s doppelgänger as the cop-slash-father of Spidey’s love interest. A decade after Maguire made slinging webs (and himself) between gleaming skyscrapers look more than glamorous, we get a slightly darker image of who Spider-man really was. We get the truth.

The Amazing Spider-man is deftly edited, quickly paced and notably more realistic. The individual discoveries Parker makes post-spiderbite are exhilarating happenings, not the gimme leaps and bounds Raimi had Parker go through magically. Whereas in the ’02 Spiderman, we have lost the cheesy dialogue, the so-called cutesy happenings of Spider-man in public, and we have gained a flesh-and-blood boy who has spider-like tendencies. Creepy. And damn cool.

Surrounding a revamped and punkier Peter Parker is a solid cast featuring Martin Sheen, Emma Stone, Rhys Ifans, Denis Leary and a cameo by the man himself, Stan Lee. Though none are allowed to breathe all the life into their respective roles in this one a great deal — at least, not as much as what we are perhaps accustomed to receiving from Mr. Sheen — what little time we get with each is a treat and makes the general storyline richer and more compelling, more human, than any that have come before. I’m sure we’ll hear from them more in the future.

Ifans comes the closest to slipping into cliche territory when he wigs out and transforms into the Lizard, though the moments where I felt a groan forming in my throat were brief and limited. Make no mistake, Dr. Curt Connor’s Lizard is far more ominous than that of Norman Osborn’s Green Goblin.

To delve into more detail would be to ultimately give the entire feature away. I will counter to a trend in current movie review opinion that this new release of Spider-man was either premature or unnecessary completely. I say neigh to both counts. For one, this was more true to the comic books. (What studio wouldn’t want to get this story right?) Secondly, it differs from the others more than critics are willing to give credit for. I think many people out there have simply been rubbed a little raw with the flurry of superhero action movies this year, for there is certainly room enough for this new re-telling of a classic.

Spider-man whoops ass

3-5Recommendation: Just go. Yes, it’s a quick re-boot. Yes, many scenes are recollections of the 2002-2007 franchise. So-called ‘repeated’ scenes may annoy some, but the death of Ben Parker and the look-alikes in the movie were necessary to not only stay true to a fan base, but to Stan Lee as well.

Rated: PG-13

Running Time: 137 mins.

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Photo credits: http://www.impawards.com; http://www.imdb.com 

Moonrise Kingdom


Release: Friday, May 25, 2012 (limited)


My complaint about this release is that it was not wide.  I had to seriously try hard to find a theater that was playing it. Then, when I made a plan to see it I wound up going to the wrong theater at first and nearly missed the showtime. These trials were worth it though. I thank Wes Anderson for getting me in such a state of excitement.

Ha-ha. Moonrise Kingdom. Writing about it is almost a nostalgic process. For that I give credit to writers Wes Anderson and Roman Coppola, for depicting a very young couple who fall in love on an estranged New England island. Maybe its the binoculars focusing every now and again throughout the film, or maybe its the moon; whatever it is leaves one feeling warm as they exit the theater, causes the audience to, maybe for the first time in a long while, actually care for the protagonists.

Sam (Jared Gilman) and Suzy (Kara Hayward), both fugitives from their own families — Sam’s being adoptive as his biological parents had died a long time ago — strike out on a journey across the island of New Penzance to seek a life together, but in so doing cause the adults to branch out on a search party to rescue/remand the two. The plot is spruced up by brilliant performances from Bruce Willis, the local island cop; Bill Murray (Walt Bishop, who is Suzy’s rather lifeless father); Frances McDormand (her mother) and perhaps that which cannot be emphasized enough: Edward Norton, as Scout Master Ward.

In the first few opening scenes, Moonrise Kingdom reveals a slightly skewed world where kids rule and the adults, well not so much. It’s an hilarious compromise, another reminder of what its like watching a Wes Anderson feature. It’s like being part of a club or even, the Khaki Scouts where you have to let go of your preconceived notions about the functionality of really short boys’ shorts or an absurdly unbalanced tree house construction. These are enviable traits of a filmmaker who pays attention to detail.

Detractors from Anderson’s work say this film is another copy of his other films, simply with filler content and characters. Unfortunately for them, that’s the best argument they have with this film. That, and maybe the inclusion of a couple of cheesy animations (the lightning bolt and the static shock-kiss). Anderson’s usual tricks and secrets may indeed be there in Moonrise, but they gel so well together in the barely-ninety-minute affair that its more like a dream when its over than an actual movie.

The incorporation of beautiful cinematography and a very odd orchestral arrangements serving as the chief soundtrack do blend nicely for the feature, perhaps elevating its estrangedness, all ignoring the fact that the movie does take place on an island possibly off the coast of Maine — already a remote enough location. In order to add some sense of grounding to civilization, it was ingeniously decided upon that there would be a narrator (the wonderful Bob Balaban) who becomes about as iconic and intriguing as the girl behind the binoculars.

It could take awhile for some people to come around to seeing this movie or to appreciate the genius behind its romanticism, its heartfelt conception and ultimate execution, or may take them forever. It doesn’t matter. That will obviously bare truth in the tangibles, in the lower numbers it will produce at the box office (although ranked slightly higher right now on Rotten Tomatoes than when The Avengers hit theaters). Then again, that’s a site full of harsh critics, some in moods and a lot of them bad ones. And that also doesn’t take note of the fact that one was a wide-release and one was not.

Though it makes no attempt to break out of the Wes Andersonian film school noir, Moonrise Kingdom makes a profound revisitation of childhood and intelligently ignores the conventional examination done by the grown ups by essentially painting them all as the children in this world.


4-5Recommendation: No cult-classic pretense here. This one is good for the soul. Those who have seen other films by him are bound to instantly love, while those newcomers are in for a warm enchanting tale. Either way it’s probably not possible to leave with a frown on one’s brow. Getting struck by lightning, it turns out, is really that funny.

Rated: PG-13

Running Time: 93 mins.

All content originally published and the reproduction elsewhere without the expressed written consent of the blog owner is prohibited.

Photo credits: http://www.impawards.com; http://www.imdb.com