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Movie rating system (0-2) The movie is balls (2-4) A few moments but mostly bad (4-5.5) Entertaining film but lacking something to make it good. (6-7.5) A recommendation meaning a good solid watch. (8-10) must watch films, they are usually leaders in their respective genre. I can also be found on Facebook or follow my blog at the bottom of this page. THERE MAY BE MINI SPOILERS AHEAD!!! But there will be no endings/twists/cameos/or large plot reveals given.

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Thursday, 28 June 2012

That's My Boy

That’s My Boy
Rated: R
Running Time: 116 Minutes
Starring: Adam Sandler, Andy Samberg, Leighton Meester, Vanilla Ice, James Caan
Directed By: Sean Anders
Rating: 2.5 out of 10
A teenage father raises his son and then they part ways. Many years later the father is back for money and a second chance at parenting.

Adam Sandler movies always make me philosophical these days, and they just make me feel plain old. Not because Sandler himself has gotten old more that I just don’t find him that funny anymore. Could it be that this movie is hilarious to teenagers like Billy Madison and Happy Gilmore was to me? I will discuss in detail later but it makes me sad to see how far he has fallen. That’s my Boy is the tale of a boy named Donny who fathered a son named Todd while in his early teens. Donny raised Todd as a single parent and they went their separate ways on Todd’s 18th birthday. Shoot forward many years to present day and Donny is back looking for money at the worst possible time. It is Todd’s wedding weekend and it looks like Donny might not only ruin the big day but Todd’s entire life.

The film starts off as so many of Sandler’s movies do with a flashback as his character Donny as a kid. The opening scene is a pathetic attempt at humor with kids talking about sex and sexual acts that will not even register a smile on most viewer’s faces. Sadly the film never regains any traction from the opening scene letdown. Shoot forward to present day with most of the players well into midlife and what should have been a funny movie was dragged down by really everything imaginable. The story is sound and provided ample opportunities for funny dialogue and jokes but never pulls the trigger at any of the right moments. A kid raising a kid although sad morally is a great setup for hilarity. However this film took everything way too far and spoiled every joke. Donny raises Todd in the 80/90’s and so this film is riddled with pop culture from that era. Todd has a New Kids on the Block Tattoo on his back and is forced to wear a feathered earring. These are just two of the multitude of bad and unfunny references. I can see what they were trying to do in involving and evolving Sandler to try and win over the Family Guy/American Dad audiences they just didn’t know how to do it.

Sandler has been doing this for years and his audience is mostly built in if not eroding away swiftly at this point. These movies are all about going to see Sandler and his cast of crazy sidekicks do their stuff. Donny played by Sandler in this film was easily his worst character for me since Little Nicky and that is saying a lot. Donny was a 40 something year old man child. He was a cheap gimmick of a character that Sandler obviously just mailed in. At some points Donny had a high pitched intelligible lisp and at other times he was understandable with no lisp. It was like Sandler himself did not know what he was doing with the character. He goes from scene to scene cracking open beers in inappropriate places but was never funny. In fact I cannot remember anything he did that was funny. His son Todd played by the usually reliable Andy Samberg was also a miss for me. He did an admirable job as the straight laced character but really had no funny parts. His shy awkward routine never really did it for me and certainly won’t bring out the finer points of comedy we expect from Samberg. The two of them together should have been great but it was a forgettable a match as could be.

They have a bevy of support from all over the comedy spectrum and yet no one stood out when they really could have in this film. When a 300 plus pound black stripper with nipple tassels is the funniest thing in a movie you know it has failed. Just for the record Nick Swardson, James Caan, Will Forte, Vanilla Ice, and many more are in this film yet none of them are funny.

The only thing this film does do well is go with the R rating. I cannot even imagine what this film would have been like if they didn’t stick to riskier humor. Bottom line though is with Donny being such a bad character this film never could have worked. Donny is back and trying to get Todd to give him money during his wedding weekend. Donny somehow charms everyone with stupid sexual tips and advice on life. Instead of a normal reaction from people like kicking him out or calling the police everyone seems to love him even though he is a skuzzy weirdo. Donny was not a great dad and he is an even worse adult. Of course he shows up Ben Stiller Meet the Parents style to ruin Todd’s wedding. As the film dragged on you saw every joke coming and every scene would be ruined by terrible dialogue. When the end does come around not only is it painfully obvious what is going to happen you could care less that it is happening.

Sean Anders directed the surprisingly funny Sex Drive so I was shocked he put together so horrid of a film. There are a multitude of things he did wrong but the worst was the running time of this film. No one cares about the story or characters in a film like this. To have a running time of just shy of 2 hours is unforgivable. It runs half an hour to long and you will feel it. He cast poorly and I found the progression of the story unoriginal and uninspired. I will give Anders another shot because the writing (David Caspe) was way below par but he failed to deliver on almost every scene.

Not only do I not give this film my recommendation it easily could be back to back Razzies for the once sure thing Sandler. Go back and re watch his old stuff I cannot see anyone liking this even teens.

T Factor + If you are a fan of Sandler oddball characters like Little Nicky then this could score way higher on the rating scale.

T Factor – Not a fan of sexual humor than this could score lower on the rating scale.

If you liked this film reel recommendations: Little Nicky, Wedding Crashers

Friday, 22 June 2012

Gone Baby Gone

Gone Baby Gone
Rated: R
Running Time: 114 minutes
Starring: Casey Affleck, Michelle Monaghan, Ed Harris, Morgan Freeman
Directed By: Ben Affleck
Rating: 7.5 out of 10
A pair of detectives searches for a kidnapped local girl and in doing so head down a road that might have no return from.

The kidnapping of a child is one of the most vile and shocking crimes imaginable. It can no doubt bring a community together but more often than not it is left shattered as the story ends in tragedy. We find ourselves following the story of two Boston private detectives hired on to the case of a local kidnapped child named Amanda McCready. They must sift through the seedy underbelly of the city and look in all the places of the community that only they can get to. It is in this search that they find out when you look in the dark shadows of the world sometimes there are monsters lurking. The search for Amanda will test the detectives in ways they never saw coming and may change them forever.

I found this movie totally captivating from the start. A nicely filmed intro of regular and not so regular Bostonians living their lives sets the backdrop for this film. I liked the starting technique for although the cast is well known it makes you feel like you are more immersed in real everyday culture of the city. Having the two private detectives Patrick and Angie dating was a refreshing change as you very rarely see women in these types of roles. They have real world issues and discussions while working and it added some nice tension in a few scenes.  I also appreciated the fact that Patrick is a local, born and raised. It leads to a very believable search for the child throughout the film as he is familiar with so many of the players already. The film seemed to build momentum as it went along. Not in the pacing but more in the intrigue department. Every door the two detectives opened would lead to many unanswered questions. I almost felt the search for the child was secondary to the actual investigation in this film. The eclectic group of suspects leads to very intense scenes of barely contained violence and conflict.

Who out there could ever picture Casey Affleck not only as a great lead but also a bad ass in a movie? If you raised your hand your nose definitely grew but he nailed it in this film. Casey Affleck played one of the detectives Patrick Kenzie. He is a local boy who stayed in the area to help him navigate through the populace and ask questions for his job. He is the perfect character in this film as he is laid back but can change in the drop of a hat to tough guy if someone steps out of line or threatens his girlfriend. Affleck did a great job with not only the character but also the voice. I am not entirely sure what an authentic Boston accent sounds like but it was believable to me. The biggest compliment you can bestow on an actor is when you cannot picture anyone else doing this role and this is clearly the case with Casey. Patrick’s lady and partner in this one is Angie Gennaro played by Michelle Monaghan. She is a nice compliment to Patrick. Their easy dialogue and familiarity with each other seems genuine and she lets Affleck do his thing without detracting from the film. Overall she did a nice job and I have no complaints.

Having Ed Harris and Morgan Freeman supporting in any movie is only going to help your film. Ed Harris playing Remy Bressant a cop investigating the kidnapping and his boss Jack Doyle played by Morgan Freeman were both solid. There smooth veteran expertise while coming in smaller roles still helped the film gel in all the right places.

Finally a big surprise for me was the kidnapped child’s mom Helene McCready played by Actress Amy Ryan. She was such a natural in this role it seemed they picked her right off the local street. She plays the rundown and helpless mom so well she looks like she could be on the news instead of a movie.

Over all this film has more twists and turns than a Gumby doll but I enjoyed the many layers working in this film. This film won’t be for everyone as it has slow parts and I felt it ran a tad long. The conclusion to the story seemed very fragmented and choppy to me and won’t agree with everyone. The story and dialogue more than make up for any negatives that this film had though.

Director Ben Affleck in his movie debut knocked it out of the park with this film. Some say nepotism is wrong but in this case it was very right as casting his brother as Patrick was genius. He actually did a great job of incorporating bigger names like Harris and Freeman with lesser known names like John Ashton and Titus Welliver. He told a story about kidnapping but made it more about self discovery than about the missing child. He used great dialogue and a mix of well thought out characters and plot developments to have the viewer buy into this film. He needed to tweak the ending for a more polished finish but I cannot wait to see what Ben does with his next movie. This is just a great start to his directing resume.

Overall this movie is a big recommendation from me. It caters to Drama lovers and to people who enjoy a good mystery. The films story is about a lost child but is much more about situational choices and the ethics of right versus feelings.

T Factor + If you like Casey Affleck as an actor this could score higher on the rating scale.

T Factor – If do not like Casey Affleck as an actor this could score lower but give it a chance.

If you liked this film reel recommendations: The Town, Edge of Darkness

Thursday, 21 June 2012

Hot Rod

Hot Rod
Rated: PG-13
Running Time: 88 minutes
Starring: Andy Samberg, Jorma Taccone, Danny McBride, Bill Hader, Will Arnett, Isla Fisher, Sissy Spacek, Ian McShane
Directed By: Akiva Schaffer
Rating: 7 out of 10
An amateur stuntman must raise enough money for a medical procedure for his sick stepdad.

I know I know how I can ridicule such movies as Napoleon Dynamite and Anchorman and still am able to enjoy a film like this. I am not sure I have an answer for you. All I know was this movie is just an oddball collection of hilarious scene after hilarious scene. The story focuses on permanent man-child Rod Kimble. He is an amateur stuntman and needs to raise money to pay for a medical procedure for his abusive Step Dad. If you are wondering is this the whole story? than I am here to tell you yes it is. In fact I don’t think I would have liked the film half as much if they tried anything other than a plot that is as dumb as the characters are.

First things first grab a Thesaurus and look up the word ridiculous. All the synonyms you find beside it can easily be used to describe this movie. Is it going blow your mind with gripping characters and a Pulitzer worthy script? Nothing can be farther from that question than this movie. What it will do is keep you very entertained for a couple of hours. The film’s opening scene will tell you all there is to know about the film and the lead character Rod Kimble. It is one of the greatest opening scenes ever rivaling Saving Private Ryan as Rod tries to jump a van on a moped with pedals. This film is not always that shockingly violent like the opening scene was but the humor never stops. The film just presents wave after wave of weird scenes at you. I found it more akin to watching sketch comedy. Because the story was so poor it seemed each of the funny bits happened in short 2-3 minute sketches and it totally worked for me. Nothing was better than Rod and his group of friends prepping for the grand finale stunt though. Blowing himself up with dynamite, jumping pools, holding his breath under water, and a multitude of other events is all in a day’s work for a failure of a stuntman but it works somehow.

The lead character Rod Kimble played by Andy Samberg was hilarious. He kind of looks like a cross between Sidney Crosby the hockey player and the actor Jason Biggs. He has an adult body with a kid’s mentality down to a science. He delivers his lines for the most part by yelling at the screen and I never got tired of it. There is something genius about a simple man doing all kinds of stunts for money. Samberg will do anything for a laugh including an homage scene to the movie Footloose in the forest. His friends are all funny guys and seem to fit seamlessly into this movie. His friends played by Bill Hader, Danny McBride, Jorma Taccone who are all accomplished comedians in their own right let Samberg shine in all the right places. It is not to say they were not funny because they all certainly were they just never stole the leads thunder. The always cute Isla Fisher does an admirable job as basically the only adult in the group named Denise. While not particularly funny Denise is no doubt a nice contributor to the story. The usually solid Will Arnett was a disappointment for me in a limited role as Denise’s obnoxious boyfriend.

Somehow throughout the craziness of this film you want Rod Kimble to succeed in raising the money. Not in a feeling invoked way or even an inspired way but more in the underdog status he has heaped on himself way. 4 grown men should have one voice of reason but that would not work in this film. Nothing is off limits in this film and don’t be surprised when you find yourself laughing when you should be just shaking your head in bewilderment. I easily could stand to watch a second of these films.

Director Akiva Schaffer does not disappoint in his feature film debut. Not to say this film was a challenge by any stretch of the imagination but he seems to know his target audience. With his work on SNL and the Lonely Island comedy team he clearly had a vision for this film and I think it worked for the most part. The film is never slow and even when it seemed like it was too out there it would always correct itself somehow. Overall a solid job on a film that should not have worked but did.

I give this movie a surprising recommendation to low brow comedy lovers and people who like things quirky and crazy. Some people might turn their noses up at this film I just say it is Cool Beans!

T Factor + If you are fan of Lonely Island skits this could score higher on the rating scale.

T Factor – Do not like stupid humor this could score way lower on the rating scale.

If you liked this film reel recommendations: Zoolander, Napoleon Dynamite

The 13th Warrior

The 13th Warrior
Rated: R
Running Time: 102 minutes
Starring: Antonio Banderas
Directed by: John McTiernan
Rating: 7 out of 10
A cast out Arab journeys north with a group of Vikings to face off against an ancient and deadly evil.

I am not sure why I liked this movie so much. It could be the fact that people think I am part Viking so I felt a kinship to the characters. It could be that it was just a simple tale of good battling unknown evil. What I do know is I was thoroughly entertained during this film. The film centers on Arab courtier Ahmad Ibn Fadlan. He was banished from his homeland after falling in love with a taken woman. He finds himself in the heathen northland amongst barbarians and the like. He is attached against his will to a group of Vikings and must travel with them to their homeland. What evil awaits them is unknown but it is rumored this monster eats the living.

The film does things the right way. It starts with a short back story into the life and subsequent banishment to the north of the Arab Ahmad Ibn Fadlan. He is then quickly introduced to his Viking cohorts and then must proceed north with them. It is in this journey north where the movie really seals you to the story. It is a case of opposites attract. The unclean, vulgar, and untamed Vikings are a stark contrast to the clean, courteous, an educated Arab. In this contrast you find humor and respect where you would never expect to find it. The Vikings win you over with their easy familiarity and believable camaraderie. Besides the Arab each Viking has relatively short introductions and screen time and yet you know you will be sad if any of them die.

Ahmad Ibn Fadlan or Eben as the Vikings call him is cast brilliantly and played by Antonio Banderas. Banderas is a natural as the highly educated but untraveled Arab. The Vikings teach him a thing or two about war while he instructs them on other finer points of life. He was a great fit into the groups fold and it was easy to see him getting along with such strange men to his normal tastes. The Vikings themselves were not the best of actors but highly believable and certainly had the look down. It was easy to get into the story when they looked like they have been companions for years. Although all the Viking actors did an admirable job the standout was definitely the leader Buliwyf played by Vladimir Kulich. He led the group with a strong presence and stood out in the fight scenes as a bulwark of awesomeness.

I have been praising this film but it did have its faults. The action scenes were a dark and edited mess. Because the Vikings look so similar and the lighting was off it was hard to see sometimes who was doing what. People would be hit with arrows or spears and you wouldn’t know until the end of the fight what really happened. So although the scenes of action were well put together when you knew what was going on they were disappointing a lot of the time when you didn’t. I also found the evil human eating monster a letdown for the most part. What started off as a well thought up idea where the bodies of the slain were carried off into the night failed to hold up until the end of this film. Having said my negative piece this movie was just solid. The story and character development more than made up for the shaky action scenes and that is hard to do. A well timed joke or scene of humor eased your way through to the next scene of them fighting for their lives. Bottom line was this is a movie that you will care for the characters and hope they make it and I enjoyed it immensely.

Director John McTiernan knows how to make a decent action film to say the least. Having Predator and Die Hard on your resume allows you to do what you want with an action film and he delivered with this film. I was very confused with his choice of camera work and lighting in a lot of the scenes though. With crisper and more detailed scenes of fighting this movie could easily have been great instead of good. His pacing was perfect with the right amount of dialogue and never having to wait too long in between bloodshed.  He also cast perfectly and was able to turn a horrible book (Michael Creighton’s Eater of the Dead) with the help of a great screenplay (Wisher, Lewis) into a movie well worth the watch. When you care what happens to the group you truly have done your job as a director.

I give this movie a recommendation to Action and Epic lovers as it was a well constructed film. 13 maybe unlucky to some and lucky to others for you it will just be a good time.

T Factor + If you are forgiving during your Action films this could score higher on the rating scale.

T Factor – If you don’t like Antonio Banderas this could score lower on the rating scale.

If you liked this film reel recommendations: King Arthur, Kingdom of Heaven  

Saturday, 16 June 2012

Grandma's Boy

Grandma’s Boy
Rated: R
Running Time: 94 minutes
Starring: Linda Cardellini, Allen Covert, Peter Dante, Shirley Jones, Kevin Nealon, Doris Roberts, Nick Swardson, Jonah Hill
Directed By: Nicholaus Goossen
Rating: 6.5 out of 10
After getting evicted a 35 year old video game tester has to move in with his Grandma until he finds a place.

This film has turned into a cult comedy classic. If you can believe it this movie actually made it to theatre and was not straight to DVD as many people think. I went to see In Good Company over this in theatre so I was clearly not wise like Yoda that day.  Anyways Grandma’s Boy has one of the thinnest plots imaginable. The story follows Alex a 35 year old video game tester and a group of his nerdy tester friends. They are in charge of making sure the new game Eternal Death Slayer 3 is released on time and with no hiccups. Yes this is the entire plot of this movie so don’t be shocked by its moronic storyline.

 The opening scene is the perfect gauge for if you are going to like this movie or not. A scene of Alex and his buddy smoking pot and playing video games is what this movie is all about. The jokes never get deeper than the standard and not so standard, drug references, sex references, even fart jokes are not off the table in this film. Because I never took this film too seriously I found myself immersed in a surprisingly funny film. The actors on screen seemed to be having fun so even when something might not have been particularly funny it was never a slow watch. This was very much an R rated Adam Sandler movie minus Adam Sandler. Maybe Sandler should take some notes because he has been putting out less than stellar comedies recently.

 If you were watching this movie and said to yourself “I have seen these guys somewhere before”. That is because you have. Most of the cast show up as bit parts in basically every Sandler movie ever made but have been given their chance to shine in this one. Lead character Alex played by Allen Covert did a good job in keeping the movie on track as the older video game tester. He is funny in all the right places and never tries to do too much with the role. Although a scene involving a Lara Croft Tomb Raider doll may suggest otherwise. His leading lady Samantha played by Linda Cardellini was a good fit as Alex’s straight laced boss.  She has the look if not the comedic chops for this film and that is all she needed to be. Although there are many funny people and cameos two actors stood out for me. The first being Alex’s friend Jeff played by the hit or miss Nick Swardson. Jeff always has something funny and usually sexual to say and Swardson will have most viewers laughing with his funny facial features and toilet humor. The second stand out was Alex’s Drug dealer Dante played by actor Peter Dante. Dante is so dumb he is funny. Importing foreign pets and selling weed does not seem so out of place for a character as clueless as he is. Whenever he is on screen it is a guaranteed good time. Jonah Hill, Kevin Nealon, Doris Roberts also have supporting roles if you are fans of theirs.

 The last character I have to mention was J.P. the genius video game creator played by Joel David Moore. This character was a miss for me but I can see him working for some people. In his Matrix style trench coat he paraded through the office with odd robot voices and weird sayings. He was moderately funny sometimes and just too weird in others. He was almost a weirder robotic version of Napoleon Dynamite, trust me it was strange.

 Bottom line is this movie is not going to win any awards for acting or style. What it will win is a steady stream of laughs with its low brow humor and interesting characters. Naked Drug Dealers, African Tribesmen, Asian karate masters, bikers, old senile people, and men addicted to hookers can all be expected and generate a fair amount of entertaining dialogue.

 Director Nicholaus Goossen does a decent job in his debut. With a ragtag cast of virtual nobodies he has crafted a well put together comedy. It is cast very well and seems to get better as the movie progresses. The flow of the movie is always smooth and a very easy watch. With limited plot it allows the film to shine on the humor side. I wouldn’t mind seeing him do another film with a more known cast to see what he can do.

 I give this movie a surprising recommendation for people who enjoy a simple entertaining film with plenty of pot references and risqué sexual humor. This has high (pun intended) re-watch value and is the best video game movie since the Wizard.

 T Factor + If you don’t need your movies to have a strong plot this could score higher on the rating scale.

 T Factor – If you do not like toilet humor this could score lower on the rating scale.

If you liked this film reel recommendations: Half Baked, Accepted.

Friday, 15 June 2012

500 Days of Summer

500 Days of Summer
Comedy (Drama)
Rated: PG-13
Running Time: 95 minutes
Starring: Zooey Deschanel, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Chloe Grace Moretz, Clark Gregg, Geoffrey Arrend
Directed By: Marc Webb
Rating: 7 out of 10

A boy follows his heart and reaches for the love of his life with a girl who may or may not be so willing to go down that road.

I put off watching this film for the longest time because of the title. 500 days seemed like too long of a time commitment for another weak romantic comedy. Of course I found out quite quickly that this is not your typical romantic comedy in any way, shape, or form. It is actually not even a romantic comedy at all, more of a romance with comedy. We find ourselves following the not so love story of Tom and Summer. Tom is falling for Summer and is all about finding his soul mate in another. Summer is seeing Tom as a close friend but she is more of a free spirit and seems disenchanted in the whole aspect of love and the so called right one.  

 Films usually take linear paths in terms of development and storyline but not so with this one. The viewer is graced with random days from Tom and Summer’s courtship. So while one minute you are following them a couple months into their relationship walking through an IKEA holding hands. The next minute they are a year in and you find them fighting at a bar. Then back to when they first met, and so on and so forth. This jumping of timelines was a fresh and interesting look at their relationship. Although Tom seems way too serious and overly dependent he never the less is very relatable. His obsession with Summer is bordering on the creepy but most of us have been in the position of unrequited love before so it is still within reason. Summer on the other hand seems like the cutest person on the planet sometimes and at other times a cold bitch but she does it in an upfront manner. Her wild changes of attitude come across as believable and frustrating.  

 Tom is played by the kind of nerdy but I am sure girls love Joseph Gordon-Levitt. Levitt takes this quiet unassuming character and makes you want to like him. You want him to win in life and always end on a happy note. He does a very good job of making you side with him even though he is partially in the wrong. Summer played by Zooey Deschanel also does a really good job with her character. She can be sweet and then bitchy at the drop of a hat. The two of them together are a perfect and not so perfect fit and that is pretty much the point of this film. It is also why the film worked so well is that you can easily see parts of your personality in both characters. They are helped along in the story by many supporting people. Chloe Grace Moretz playing Rachel, the older than she is sister to Tom, and actor Geoffrey Arend as Tom’s drunk/crazy/coworker/friend McKenzie were the standouts.

 All in all this film is just quirky. You find yourself at times laughing out loud at a random comment and at other times feeling sad that the relationship is not working. Even a musical number that has Tom dancing on the street which should have been ridiculous was fun and not out of place. The characters make this film though and teach us life sometimes doesn’t always go as planned when Matthew McConaughey is not leading the way. Some people might find this film a little dark and depressing at times, I just found it real world.

This was Director Marc Webb’s first full length feature and he did a great job with this movie. Although the lead characters obviously are the selling point to this film he none the less guides them in the right direction. The film shot in the non linear style was neat and new and whenever the story edged to the boring side a well placed joke picked it right back up. He took a non-traditional love story and made you love and hate the characters at the same time which is hard to do. I say well done Mr. Webb for making such a surprisingly enjoyable film.

 I give this movie a big recommendation to romantic comedy fans and to guys having to compromise on something to watch for her. It is a real world look into a one sided relationship that will make you laugh all along the way.

 T Factor + If you are fans of romantic comedy than this could score higher on the rating scale.

 T Factor – If you do not like unorthodox storylines than this could score lower on the rating scale.

 If you liked this film reel recommendations: Garden State, Love Actually.

The Incredible Hulk

The Incredible Hulk
Action (Comic Book)
Rated: PG-13
Running Time:  112 minutes
Starring: Edward Norton, Liv Tyler, Tim Roth, William Hurt, Tim Blake Nelson, Ty Burrell
Directed By: Louis Leterrier
Rating: 4.5 out of 10
A scientist is on the run from the army as a lab experiment causes him to turn into a giant green monster.

The Hulk is back for round two after a dismal film debut and he is ready to Hulk Smash at will. Unfortunately for us the viewer it is much of the same monotonous film watching. This film centers on scientist Dr. Bruce Banner and his experiments with Gamma radiation. After an accident at the lab during one of these experiments the radiation changes him drastically. Bruce Banner changes from man into a hulking green monster with little to no control if his pulse hits a certain accelerated rate. Naturally the army can’t have this menace around so they need to capture or kill Dr. Banner before he does any damage to the populace or so they would have us believe.

 This film gets off to a good start as the actual laboratory accident and Dr. Banner’s subsequent flight from the army is all covered in an opening credits montage. People who don’t know much about the Hulk or have not seen the first movie might find this a little strange and too quick of a plot development. Although the players have changed I liked to think of this as Hulk 2 so I liked the quick intro of the back story. I felt it could have led to a fresher film with less drawn out scenes of storyline. The film however found new ways to bore the audience even though a big chunk of the original film's storyline was cut out. The problem with the Hulk movies will always be story to action ratio. Bruce Banner is not as captivating a character as Bruce Wayne or Tony Stark. So when we are forced to watch, like we are in this movie, long dramatic scenes of self discovery and love it is tiresome. When the action scenes do finally arrive you are almost bitter they took so long to get there instead of enjoying them.

 Edward Norton takes over the character Dr. Bruce Banner from Eric Bana in the first film and does an admirable job in the role. His unassuming style and smaller body type lead to a solid character that you could get behind. His quest for the truth of the accident plus trying to find a cure for his Hulkism was well done. His love interest Betty Ross played by Liv Tyler however was less than stellar. Her pained raspy delivery coupled with stupid character decisions was a major detractor. Running towards a Hulk battling men with guns is one of the many things you can look forward to from this awful character. I hated the Banner/Ross love story angle and wish it was deleted from this film. They have zero chemistry together and she should have been recast. It should come as no surprise that the star of this movie was Tim Roth playing soldier Emil Blonsky. Roth is always at his best when playing the bad guy (See Rob Roy) and he was no different in this one. His decidedly evil features coupled with a good perception of his characters focus was what this film needed. Having William Hurt in a supporting role never hurts (No pun intended) a movie either.

 Comic movies are always about action and although I found the story ruined this film the action for the most part was a good if not a great watch. The film is all about the army trying to take down Dr. Bruce Banner as the hulk and while an opening scene in Brazil had a lot to be desired due to choppy camera work. The action sequences in the middle and at the end were a fun watch. The Hulk is at his best when tearing things apart so battling the army and its many gadgets is a good start. Also having the fighting venues take place in the city causes for a lot more wanton destruction and human casualties so I liked the setting a lot. The CGI while on purpose cartoonish was put together nicely and led for some great scenes. All in all the action sequences were decent and well polished but they always felt too long in the making.

 Director Louis Leterrier is no stranger to action films with the first two Transporter movies and Unleashed on his resume. He unfortunately tackled a monster in this film that in my mind is not to be. Leterrier I think did as good a job as he could have with the script handed to him. The action sequences were crisp and outside of Liv Tyler the casting was correct. The film however felt like it was 3 hours long instead of just under 2 with unwanted dialogue and forced scenes of reconnecting with the past. Having to wait for the fight scenes in this film is torture as Bruce Banner is not a fun guy to watch. Leterrier did a decent job in some places but ultimately turned a film that should be action with drama into drama with action and that was a huge mistake. I also felt this movie could have used a little comic relief in places or if they did try it just wasn’t funny. Lastly and this is me just being petty I hated Bruce Banner’s wrist pulse counter telling us when he was about to Hulk up. Like the audience is really going to be scared when his pulse is rising it was a stupid addition to this film. Overall he did a respectable job with a hard topic.

 I cannot recommend this film. Hopefully this will be the last of Hulk as a standalone film as although he might be called the Incredible Hulk in the title he is Mediocre Hulk at best.

 T Factor + If you like lots of dramatic buildup in your movies then this could score higher on the rating scale.

 T Factor – If you need lots of action in your movies then this could score lower on the rating scale.

 If you liked this movie reel recommendations: Iron Man, Captain America

The Hills Have Eyes

The Hills Have Eyes
Action (Horror)
Rated: R
Running Time: 107 minutes
Starring: Emelie De Ravin, Vinessa Shaw, Kathleen Quinlan, Dan Byrd, Aaron Stanford
Directed By: Alexandre Aja
Rating: 4 out of 10

A family is stranded in a New Mexico desert. With little chance of rescue they realize the barren landscape might not be as empty as it seems.

We know radiation in large doses can be detrimental to nature’s health. Blinky the three eyed fish from the Simpsons, The Hulk, Godzilla, and I can only assume Sloth from Goonies, were all caused by heavy exposure to radiation. You will quickly see why this is important. We find ourselves following the Carter family across the New Mexico desert. A wrong turn and a flat tire finds them stranded in the middle of nowhere with no cell phone reception and no human traffic. This desert used to be the testing place of Atomic bombs for the United States, and not all the inhabitants were so willing to leave.

 I liked the start of this movie as it gives you a bloody taste of what is to come. There is no build up of suspense it just prepares you for the bloody viscera spray that you know will happen with urgent frequency. After the opening, this movie is no more and no less than the word bizarre. The Carter family itself is a gun toting, Jesus loving, roving group of America propaganda. So basically picture the opposite to the television show Glee. They are travelling across the country together in a tiny RV , and taking the back roads to their destination. I never understand these movies because ultimately the Carter family gets lost with the help of a creepy gas station attendant, but they are not that lost. I won’t get into that much but if people went missing this regularly along this stretch of road someone would notice.

 The desert setting itself is great at night but what isn’t scary at night when you are isolated? The actual frights are more gross than scary and when they are scary it is the usual loud convenient bump or noise that gives you a jolt. The people in the hills that terrorize the Carter family are here for a little mayhem and fun and are very well put together. They are as varied and disgusting as one would hope in a film like this. Hideous deformities are the norm in this desert and they put a lot of thought into makeup and costume.  

 With a little known cast the acting of the Carter family itself I was not upset with. Although the dialogue tended to be very stilted and at times forced they seemed to be genuinely scared. They also were not as dumb as most people in horrors so It did not detract from the film. The bickering between them though to start the movie was terrible and could have been rewritten. The mutants required very little acting but were solid in their performances.

All in all though people watch these types of movies for the scare factor and I have to admit there were the odd moments but nothing to write home about. You can tell this movie prided itself on trying to disgust the viewer and for the most part it works on that level. Cannibalism, torture, incest, is all in a day’s work for these mutants and those are a few of the milder things happening in this film. I will say this though the gore is well done I am just not sure who likes watching it to this degree.

Director Alexandre Aja has put together a truly bizarre and disgusting film. He does a few things well though. The mutant designs are great and the musical score during the scenes of violence is different yet works. He does a few scenes of gore very well and the movie is never boring. What he doesn’t do well though offsets the good. I understand this movie is a remake from the same named film in the 70’s but it doesn’t need to have that same vibe. Even though this is happening in the present the Carter family seems to be right out of the 70’s. Their clothes, hairstyle, vehicle, in fact everything about this film including some of the musical score is very out of place. You will be surprised every time someone pulls out a cell phone as it will seem wrong somehow. Also some of the scenes of gore are more comical than scary. All in all he did an okay job just needed to tweak some things to make this movie work.

 I cannot give this movie a recommendation. Ultimately the viewer is here for scares and frights not shock and disgust. The hills maybe have eyes but I doubt they would tune into this movie for long.

 T Factor + If you like scenes of shocking gore this could score higher on the rating scale.

 T Factor – If you do not like shocking scenes of violence then this could score lower on the rating scale.

If you liked this film reel recommendations: Wrong Turn, Chernobyl Diaries

Sunday, 10 June 2012


Rated: PG-13
Running Time: 86 minutes
Starring: Alex Pettyfer, Vanessa Hudgens, Mary-Kate Olsen, Neil Patrick Harris
Directed By: Daniel Barnz
Rating: 1 out of 10

A New York teen is cursed with ugliness after teasing a girl in his High school. He has one year to break the curse by falling in love or it lasts forever.

I knew nothing about this movie going in besides the title. I was a little disappointed to find out that it wasn’t the life story of the evil henchman Beastly from the Care Bears cartoon. Please don’t read into that last statement too much. What we did find out and quite quickly was this movie is not even remotely worth anyone’s time. This movie is a modern day take on the Beauty and the Beast story. A New York teen is transformed into a vile looking monster and must find true love to break the curse. I really didn’t understand why this movie was made and who it was catering to. The story that was captured so well in the animated film Beauty and the Beast, was completely mangled by this movie. This film is a watered down, joyless look into a classic story.

 The film introduces us to its key players and instantly you regret having tuned into this film. The lead character Kyle Kingston played by Alex Pettyfer is a super exaggerated narcissist who has little regard to people who are not so called beautiful. He is god’s gift to the world and he treats everyone around him like dirt because he is good looking.  I hated this character in both substance and execution. There may be Kyle Kingston’s in the world but I highly doubt they are this idiotic. Even if they do exist a more subtle bully would have been better suited. Even after Pettyfer gets cursed with ugliness he does nothing with the character and it basically ruined the film. His love interest Lindy played by Vanessa Hudgens was unremarkable as a carefree soul. The supporting cast was a mishmash of poorly fit personalities and performances. His classmate Kendra played by Mary-Kate Olsen was a complete failure in this film. She gets picked on by Kyle for being different and then curses him for his wicked ways. She is a modern day witch and just an eyesore with substandard dialogue and film presence. The other disappointing character was Kyle’s blind tutor Will played by Neil Patrick Harris. He has a couple of funny lines but he seems lost and out of place in this film.

 With such substandard acting and interactions the film had no chance to succeed. For some reason when Kyle gets cursed he doesn’t change into a hideous beast like the title of this movie would imply. He is changed into a white version of Mike Tyson with a few scars. It was a strange choice of tattoo transformation. Kyle also would never be able to win Lindy’s love. Not because of his looks but more of his creepy stalking ways. He follows her around the city like a madman and was quite awkward in a lot of scenes. You are supposed to want the two of them to find endless love not for the movie to end. There was no chemistry between the two and everything seemed contrived and forced. The films modern take on this story was just plain strange. Witches, drug dealers, blind tutors were not seamlessly fit into this love story at all.

 Director Daniel Barnz put together a film of staggering dismalness. Poor casting choices coupled with a downright terrible script left this movie floundering. Modern day stories are notoriously hard to do so I will not fault the attempt. I unfortunately have to disdain the final product though. Everything in this film was off with nothing I can praise. Beauty may be in the eye of the beholder but this film will be beautiful to no one. He not only missed producing a nice love story he didn’t even make a like story.

 I cannot recommend this film as you are better off just going with rewatching Disney’s Beauty and the Beast. Or even try finding the Beauty and the Beast television show with Linda Hamilton kissing Beast Ron Perlman. Anything would be better than this.

 T Factor + If you like teen love stories this could score higher on the rating scale.

 T Factor – If you like typical love stories this could score lower on the rating scale.

 If you liked this film reel recommendations: Phantom of the Opera, O

Chernobyl Diaries

Chernobyl Diaries
Action (Horror)
Rated: R
Running Time: 86 minutes
Starring:  Olivia Dudley, Devin Kelley, Jonathon Sadowski, Jesse McCartney
Directed By: Bradley Parker
Rating: 3.5 out of 10

A small group of tourists head out to Chernobyl for sightseeing when they are attacked by something in a town that is supposed to be abandoned.

The nuclear meltdown at Chernobyl in the Ukraine was one of the world’s worst manmade disasters. I know very little about it except no one would ever visit it or anywhere close to it for vacation purposes. Of course Chernobyl is where we find ourselves in this film. More specifically the abandoned town of Pripyat which housed the workers and their families that worked at Chernobyl. A small group of people  accompanied by a guide travel to the town for sightseeing purposes. They soon discover that the town is not as abandoned as it seems. I am not going to delve into how ridiculous the setting is for the movie because it is an absurd place to end up in. However the bleakness of the landscape accompanied by the empty buildings and complexes does have a great feel for murder and mayhem.

 The film has the right start with a quick introduction to the players involved. It is filmed predominantly in a quasi lost footage style which I thoroughly enjoyed. The film shot mostly on a handheld camera adds a sense of realism lacking in a lot of horror these days. While I usually laud lesser known actors for horror this group of actors was a mess. The character Paul played by Jonathon Sadowski was average until things started happening and then his acting degenerated into him running around like a chicken with his head cut off. Paul’s brother Chris played by Jesse McCartney was a blazing light of bad acting and his delivery was more cringe worthy than most of the horror scenes in this film. Everyone else had forgettable performances and while horror doesn’t need strong acting it should be at least passable. This film had way below average acting.

Bad acting doesn’t have to ruin horror movies if the suspense or gore is well done. Alas this film rarely delivered on either count. The film is the typical slow build up of things half seen and strange interactions. The film is basically a buildup of all of the seen before plot developments in horror. Let’s head out to a place giving off radiation, which is miles from help, in a dilapidated van, with a sketchy driver, and I am sure things will turn out for the best. The film is asking way too much from its viewer while giving little in return. Easily the most frustrating thing of the film though is the things left unseen. While the camera work does add realism the shakiness aspect killed off a lot of the hectic violent scenes. The scary scenes during the day were comical and the things that happened at night were never properly shown to the viewer to be appreciated. This film was screaming for torn appendages and big payoff kills but it never panned out. Without the proper visuals this film could never have worked.

 Director Bradley Parker’s debut film was riddled with amateurish problems and execution. I am not sure if he had enough money to pull off this film but whatever the case he failed. The things in the dark stayed in the dark. Not glimpsing the lurking killers properly will be very frustrating to most viewers. When the group had a reprieve from the frights the dialogue was tedious and rushed. The characters also made typical poor choice decisions no one would make.  And finally the ending was as odd as the location for this film. He did capture a couple of decent scenes by using great sound techniques but that was about it. More scenes of hearing things being chewed in the dark or pots being rattled could have made this film more viable. Parker needs to study a little bit more about the genre before he does another horror film.

 I cannot recommend this film as it was a tired seen before attempt at horror. And while it was a great backdrop for bloodshed it was bloodshed you ultimately did not get to see.

 T Factor + If you don’t need great dialogue in your films this could score higher on the rating scale.

T factor – If you like your horror with bloody kills this could score lower on the rating scale.

If you liked this film reel recommendations: Quarantine, REC

Saturday, 2 June 2012

The Avengers

The Avengers
Rated: PG-13
Running Time: 144 minutes
Starring: Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johnasson, Cobie Smulders, Tom Hiddlesworth, Robert Downey Jr., Samuel L Jackson, Jeremey Renner, Mark Ruffalo
Directed By: Joss Whedon
Rating: 9 out of 10

A group of superheroes must band together to protect the Earth from a menacing Alien presence.

Move over Aliens, Die Hard, Bad Boys 2, Star Trek, 300, and even The Dark Knight. You have a new film that takes its rightful place amongst you and arguably at the top of the awesome action genre pyramid. I can just easily review this film in six words YOU NEED TO SEE THIS FILM! Alas, that is not how the movie review game works so here it goes. The Avengers has been in works for many years and literally had nerds drooling in anticipation. It was up to brilliant director Joss Whedon to bring this all together in a coherent presentation and he didn’t disappoint. The Avengers is based on the comic of the same name and has many superheroes working together to fight the common cause of evil. Because of the sheer magnitude of this film my review will be broken down into each character and participants so I can cover all angles.

Captain America/Steve Rogers played by Chris Evans is the natural leader of this group and I found at times to be lacking in this film. It is not to say Chris Evans is a bad Captain America it is just in the room of strong personalities his star seemed to fade a bit. His straight man routine was pure entertainment when bickering with Tony Stark though. He holds his own in the action sequences and his rah rah good guy routine was an effortless fit into the film. I just wanted a little more from the role. It is noted that this character seems to be getting better and hopefully the second Captain America movie will bring him up to a level of coolness everyone wants.

Iron Man /Tony Stark played by Robert Downey Jr. is the star of this film. The most recognized actor from this movie outside of Samuel L Jackson maybe. He shone at all the right moments be it dramatic or action. It is a good sign as the second Iron Man movie was not a shining moment in this character’s history. Tony Stark with his quick wit and cool gadgets always led the scenes in the right direction. His fighting scenes were crisp and explosive and his presence on film is undeniable. All in all Iron Man was the best character of the film bar none.

Thor played by Chris Hemsworth lost a little bit of momentum from his awesome self titled stand alone movie. Thor is a god and needs to dominate the screen time and he never really hits his stride in this film. He is awesome during the fight scenes but his dialogue is not as intriguing as his introductory movie. Hemsworth has the look down and the personality he just needed some better lines to show how cool this character can be. I am guessing the next Thor film will restore my faith in this character.

Bruce Banner/Hulk played by Mark Ruffalo was a surprise smash hit. The Hulk is a character that we have seen before and has left a bitter taste in our mouths. Eric Bana played Hulk in Ang Lee’s disaster of a film that shook our faith in the character. Edward Norton’s portrayal of Hulk then confirmed our fears that the Hulk is good idea on paper but will never pan out on film. I have to admit I still believe a Hulk stand alone movie will always suck but Ruffalo left me wondering. It was his quiet almost passive portrayal of Bruce Banner that won me over. He also doesn’t have a lot of screen time as the Hulk character so when he is smashing things you appreciate it all the better. Kudos to Ruffalo for bringing out the best in such a limited character and who knows where this will lead.

Nick Fury played by Samuel L Jackson is a needed but almost a useless character to this film in my mind. He is tasked to bring the Avengers squad together but really anyone could have done this role. He does direct the movie in the right way however and that is a good thing. His plotting and faith in this ragtag team allows the film some actual dramatic moments instead of mindless action which at times were needed. Jackson was solid as Fury but unremarkable.

Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow played by Scarlett Johansson was another surprise hit for me. Her character was introduced to us in the second Iron Man film and she was mediocre at best in that film. Johansson more than held her own in this film and in a genre dominated by men. Her dialogue is average but when the fighting starts she does not take a backseat and I compliment her on a job very well done.

Clint Barton/Hawkeye is played by Jeremy Renner. Renner is one of my favorite actors and while having said that he seems to be left behind in this film. People have picked on Hawkeye and I can see why but Renner still did a good job with the character. At the end of the day he is just a dude with a bow and arrow while his teammates are blowing up stuff with crazy abilities and technology all around him. He was an okay character and if critics hated Hawkeye I cannot wait for Antman to arrive on the scene. Yes there is character called Antman whose power is controlling ants that has not been introduced yet.

Loki played by Tom Hiddleston was great. Every great film needs a great bad guy and Hiddleston delivers the goods. Loki felt he was slighted in the Thor movie and vows to take his revenge out on the little old planet Earth with the help of an alien army. His pale complexion coupled with his menacing demeanor is exactly what you wanted from this bad guy. You loathed and felt sorry for Loki at the same time and Hiddleston just made this film a treat to watch.

Worthy mention goes to Colby Smulders playing Agent Maria Hill. Smulders best known for her role as Robin Scherbatsky on television’s How I Met Your Mother was another solid female presence and was above average in a role I thought she would be terrible at.

Last but not least to the man of the hour director Joss Whedon. Whedon is a brilliant man and it is great he is finally getting his recognition outside of his small but very loyal fan base. He is the man behind arguably the best Sci Fi show ever made in Firefly. He has done such things as Dr Horrible’s Sing Along Blog as well as television’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel. Now he will be most known for this but he has been a genius in the industry for a long time. He had a Herculean task of bringing all these actors together and putting together a film of staggering proportions. He did it with style and grace and that is hard to do when so many of the stand alone films leading up to the Avengers were below par. He combined a staggering amount of great action scenes with a perfect amount of humor and intrigue. Take a bow mister Whedon this film has set a new standard of greatness.

By now you are probably cursing my name for such a long review but it was surely needed for a film that was so amazing in every capacity. This film had like 6 action sequences that would be considered great ending scenes for most films. The CGI was well put together and while the camera work was not perfect at times it was certainly way above average. I also liked it was not just a feel good everyone gets along type of film. The bickering and internal fighting within the Avengers crew was as entertaining as when they were fighting Loki. You will laugh, you will be amazed, you will smile, and you will be upset you have to wait for the next one. I recommend this film to everyone as I loved it from start to finish.

T Factor + If you don’t need graphic/bloody fight scenes this could score higher on the rating scale.

T Factor – If you didn’t watch the stand alone films leading up to the Avengers than this could score lower on the rating scale.

If you liked this film reel recommendations: X-Men series, Batman series