Monthly Archives: January 2013
Top 10 (err…13) Movies that I saw in Theatres in 2012
My ratings are on a scale of 1-10.
1. Ted (2012). My rating: 9
2. The Dark Knight Rises (2012). My rating: 9
3. Jack Reacher (2012). My rating: 9
4. Skyfall (2012). My rating: 8.5
5. Contraband (2012). My rating: 8.5
6. End of Watch (2012). My rating: 8.5
7. Looper (2012). My rating: 8.5
9. Men in Black 3 (2012). My rating: 8
10. Total Recall (2012). My rating: 8
11. Lawless (2012). My rating: 8
12. 21 Jump Street (2012). My rating: 8
13. The Dictator (2012). My rating: 8
Note: Hugo (2011), and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011) would have both been on this list, but I didn’t count them because they were filmed in 2011. That being said, 21 Jump Street and The Dictator would have been knocked off of the list.
One of the darkest, creepiest Disney kids movies that I can recall in recent years.
The awesome, unique animation was obviously influenced by the warped brilliance of Director Tim Burton. It is basically the love child of The Nightmare before Christmas (1993) and Corpse Bride (2005). Ever since Burton made a name for his crazy self when he directed Beetlejuice (1988), every one of his movies has been a visually stunning work of art.
Burton takes the classic Frankenstein (1931) and puts it in a blender with Lassie Come Home (1943), Pet Sematary (1989), The Mummy (1932), Dracula (1931), The Wolfman (1941), Bride of Frankenstein (1935), Gremlins (1984), and Godzilla (1954). The monster that is created from this movie concoction goes by the name of Frankenweenie.
Frankenweenie is a touching, heartfelt, twisted tale of a boy’s love for his dog, Sparky. After a Sparky dies in a terrible accident, the boy cannot cope. He tries to use science to bring his beloved dog back from the dead. His classmates think that he is doing the experiment to win the trophy at the science fair. In order to compete, the students try to raise dead animals of their own.
The entire film has a classic old-movie feel that is incredible. It is the first full-length animated film that I have seen that has achieved the sense of an earlier time in such a realistic way.
Fun facts: O’Hara and Ryder played stepmother and stepdaughter in Beetlejuice. The character that Ryder voiced actually looked a lot like she did in Beetlejuice. Landau was in Burton’s Sleepy Hollow (1999) and Ed Wood (1994).
The movie is rated PG. Parental guidance is suggested. I highly suggest that you view this movie before you show it to your little ones. It was pretty frightening for a Disney movie. That being said, you might just get pulled into this funny, clever, tender, superbly crafted film.
I rate this movie an 8.5 on a scale of 1-10.
Buy, rent, or run? Buy.
The Possession (2012)
It is not often that I watch a horror movie. My reason behind this is not because I have anything against the genre. I watch a horror movie because I want to experience the rush of being scared. I crave the feeling of chills running down my spine as something eerie is taking place in front of my eyes. I long for the moment when I am so absorbed in what is happening in a film that when something jumps out at the screen it causes me to shoot out of my seat like I was fired from a cannon. When the show is over and there is complete and utter silence, I desire the paranoia that ensues as I fear that something is out there in the murky darkness and coming to get me. That is the whole point, right? A scary movie is meant to scare you.
Scary movies do not scare me anymore. At least most of them don’t. They just are not made like they used to be. The Possession is no exception. The film did not frighten me in the slightest. At best, the little girl in the movie who was supposed to be possessed (Natasha Calis) did a pretty good job of acting creepy. There were a few scenes that had things jump out at you, but they were too predictable. Not only was the movie predictable, but it was also not very original or surprising. As the film neared the end, it became more and more impossible.
The movie followed what seems to be the basic horror movie outline these days. It starts out at a scene that tries it’s best to be intense and attention grabbing. When that scene is over, the mood lightens and the story starts at a snail pace. Characters slowly develop and after a while, little by little, weird crazy things start happening. These things are often overlooked as a fluke until they get more and more intense. Usually not everybody realizes that there is some sort of problem until it is so blatantly obvious that you would be stupid not to see that something is wrong.
Finally when everybody understands that there is a predicament, somebody actually gets the idea to run from it or do something about it. This just makes the issue worse and it becomes more powerful. When the story reaches its climax, the problem gets solved. Everyone starts feeling better and they go back to leading their normal lives. Or do they?
That outline just about sums up The Possession and the majority of all of the other horror movies that are out there. There is the occasional scary movie that will surprise you. This was not one of them. It did not make me jumpy, nor did I get the chills. I never felt scared during the film at all. After the movie was over I did not get paranoid. I went to bed and slept like a baby.
I rate this movie a 4 on a scale of 1-10.
Buy, rent, or run? Run.
Clever, yet cheesy and intriguing artistic special effects give Dredd a late 1980s or early 90s feel. This is fitting and obviously intentional because Dredd (2012) is sort of a remake of Judge Dredd (1995). The distant future in Dredd (2012) feels similar to what filmmakers in the 80s and 90s thought the distant future would be like. So, in a sense, the movie takes you back in time but to their future.
The entire film seems to be a satire on the action movie era during the time when Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Bruce Willis ruled the genre. No acting skills are necessary, only gratuitous amounts of bloody, gory violence, corny one-liners, and an endless supply of bullets. Of course, the main characters are severely outnumbered and always appear to be bulletproof, while countless numbers of bad guys get obliterated. It is absolutely a popcorn movie.
It was mildly humorous, but quite entertaining throughout to watch a movie that mocked it’s out genre. It’s almost as if the creators wanted to prove that they could do a better job at 80s and 90s filmmaking than the actual filmmakers of the 80s and 90s. Adding a little twist to that concept, the movie went back and forth between cheap special effects and present day awesome special effects.
The cheap technology was used during most of the very gruesome scenes and as a result, those scenes were easier for the viewer to watch because the overuse of blood and gore would make the scene look pretty fake. There was the occasional scene that looked awfully realistic and it would sort of sneak up on you.
The main character (Judge Dredd) was played by Karl Urban, but it didn’t really matter because he wore a mask the entire movie and you never saw his face. Anybody could have been under that mask. Urban did supply his character with a high-quality tough guy voice, to his credit. Have you ever heard of the guy though? Me neither. He is a character actor whom I would recognize, but has never been important enough to remember.
I think that Dredd is worth watching as long as you know what you are getting yourself into. Don’t expect much and you might be pleasantly surprised. It’s not great, but it is enjoyable.
I rate this movie a 6.5 on a scale of 1-10.
Buy, rent, or run? Rent.
Broken City (2013)
Mark Wahlberg and Russell Crowe both let their presence be known in Broken City. Each man carries himself with such tenacity and vigor that when you put them both in the same movie together, you are certainly in for a show. Put them both in the same scene, and you are in for fireworks.
In this film, Crowe reminds us all just how powerful his acting can be. He seemed like he was very comfortable with his part and was having a lot of fun with it. That aspect of it was pretty obvious and made the movie more enjoyable.
Wahlberg has been choosing his movie roles very carefully lately, and makes yet another wise choice. He has definitely shown us that he can act with the best of them and delivers another very raw, intense performance. Obviously he is the lead in this film and he was billed first before Russell Crowe, but I think that he has rightfully earned that position. He has paid his dues and has reached the superstar status.
The movie is pretty dark. It is filled with deceit, dirty cops and politicians, murder, and violence. It’s almost scary how well it was all depicted. It was all very well written, well directed, and skillfully filmed. It was all rounded out by a superb supporting cast: Catherine Zeta-Jones, Barry Pepper, Jeffrey Wright, and Kyle Chandler. The latter three of those four are all very solid character actors and they were all at their best.
I have noticed a trend recently. Female lead characters have not had much of a chance to develop their characters in movies. It just seems that more and more, actresses are not given too many lines or very big roles in larger movies as of late. They may be main characters, but the men usually dominate the film. Obviously this happens a lot in movies, but usually when the movie has a big budget and a high caliber cast, it also gets a couple of strong female lead characters to go with it. Broken City continued the trend of weak or underdeveloped female lead characters. This may have taken a little bit away from the movie, but at the same time could have contributed to how and why the male characters went off the deep end. Their female counterparts were a little too withdrawn.
Broken City was reminiscent of old Humphrey Bogart private detective movies such as The Maltese Falcon (1941), or The Big Sleep (1946). Of course it is a new age and more intense film than those were, but it just reminded me of them while I was watching it. Those were classic films that were fun to watch.
Overall, Broken City was a very strong, entertaining film.
I rate this movie an 8 on a scale of 1-10.
Buy, rent, or run? Buy.
If you enjoyed Broken City, then you will probably like:
Ted was without a doubt the funniest movie of 2012. The film weaves together more types of humor than I can imagine. It’s a crude, crass, vulgar, silly, raunchy, stupid, quirky, dark, dry, clever, witty, well written, laugh out loud, pee your pants, riot! It was absolutely and utterly hilarious! If you’re a fan of the TV show Family Guy, then you will love Ted. Both shows have the same type of comedy because they were both created by the same funnyman genius, Seth Macfarlane.
There are many similarities and differences to both shows. Family Guy is an animated TV show, while Ted is a live action movie with the title character being the only one that is computer animated. In Family Guy there is a talking baby and a talking dog, while in Ted there is a talking teddy bear that has come to life. Ted is able to get away with a lot more rude humor because it is rated R and unrated, while Family Guy is a little more toned down because it’s on TV.
If you are familiar with the TV show Family Guy, then you probably know that Mila Kunis supplies the voice of Meg Griffin and Seth Macfarlane contributes the voice of Peter Griffin. Kunis plays Mark Wahlberg’s girlfriend in Ted, and Macfarlane does the voice of Ted. Oddly enough Seth Macfarlane did the same voice for both Peter Griffin and Ted. They sound the same. He didn’t bother to make them different. Honestly, I don’t know which one is funnier.
Macfarlane does an excellent job directing the entire cast to make Ted as real as possible. It’s not long before you forget that Ted is not a living thing. The actors do a wonderful job interacting with something that is not even there. I think that Walhberg does an especially good job in his scenes with Ted and making them believable.
Mila Kunis is actually very likable in Ted as opposed to her character Meg in Family Guy, who everybody loves to hate.
Giovanni Ribisi adds an awesome lunatic character to the film. It is another one of many weird roles that he adds to his resume’ of crazy characters.
Patrick Stewart narrates the film and even he is quite comical.
If you are looking for a good laugh and are into all types of comedy, then this movie should do the trick.
I rate this movie a 9 out of 10.
Buy, rent, or run? Buy.
Jack Reacher (2012)
This was a highly anticipated movie for me to see. I was excited to see it about a year ago when I first heard it was being filmed. This was all mainly because in the last year and a half or so, I read all 17 Jack Reacher novels written by Lee Child. I absolutely loved the books. What a wonderful series! I read through those stories like a fat kid eats a candy bar. I just could not get enough.
Being the Reacher fan that I am, I was very skeptical when I first heard that Tom Cruise was going to play the part of Jack Reacher in the movie. I think that Cruise is one of the best actors of our time. But physically, Tom Cruise is 5’7’’ and 170lbs. while Jack Reacher is 6’5’’ and depending on the book, anywhere from 210-250lbs. In other words, Cruise is 10 inches shorter and 80lbs. lighter than the character that he plays.
An unemployed Lee Child was at the grocery store with his wife and he would help reach groceries that were on the top shelf. His wife joked that he could get a job as a Reacher at the store. That is where Jack Reacher gets his name.
Tom Cruise could not reach the top shelf and therefore he could never get a job as a Reacher. For all we know, he probably can’t reach the middle shelf. This being said, Cruise is going to play the role of Reacher. How is that going to work?
It worked. It was an enormous reach, but Cruise pulled it off. Somehow the camera added 80lbs and 10 inches. He did it. He was Reacher. He was not actually any bigger, but he was a walking, talking, ass-kicking, Jack Reacher.
Jack Reacher was a smart, fun, action adventure that was a worthy screen depiction of a very solid novel called One Shot. One Shot is the 9th novel in the Reacher series. It is not necessary to read the books in order and therefore not necessary to film the movies in order.
I think that the filmmakers could film the Reacher series James Bond style. Get a new actor to play Jack Reacher and a new director every few movies. That gives you 17 and counting quality stories to work from. They should do it. I would watch them all. That would keep the characters fresh and the stories already speak for themselves. My favorite Reacher novel is Persuader. I hope they turn that one into a movie.
It was a treat to see 81-year-old Robert Duvall in the film. He’s still got it.
Lee Child also has a cameo in the movie. Without spoiling the story, just look for a guy who hands something to Tom Cruise. If the other books get turned into movies, it would be cool if Child went all Alfred Hitchcock and had a cameo in every movie.
I wondered why the movie was named Jack Reacher and not One Shot like the novel that it is based off of. My only conclusion is that more people are familiar with Jack Reacher than One Shot and therefore would likely be more interested in seeing the movie. Jack Reacher’s reputation is enough to fill the seats, but the title One Shot is not. With that being said, One Shot is not the best novel in the Reacher series. There are multiple Reacher books that are better than that one. In other words, there should be plenty of awesome Reacher movies to come. At least, I hope so.
I rate this movie an 9 out of 10.
Buy, rent, or run? Buy.
Fire with Fire (2012)
The whole movie was a little too convenient and pretty predictable. Watching this movie is almost like doing a puzzle where the pieces are numbered and you know exactly where each piece goes. The filmmakers took the guess work out of the film and therefore they took the fun with it.
It was all too formulaic. When you know what is going to happen next because it is so obvious, what is the point of watching anymore? You already know the story. There is no point. I felt like basically everything in the entire movie had already been done before in so many other movies.
I had low expectations about the movie before I watched it, but I was hoping that it would surprise me. It didn’t. Not one bit.
Josh Duhamel plays the main character in the movie. The guy is not capable of carrying a film on his own. He is not believable enough and just not a talented enough to lead a movie by himself.
Bruce Willis would have done a better job as the main character. At least he would have been able to make the obvious outcome of every scene a little more interesting with his trademark Bruce Willis tough guy charm. Unfortunately he chose instead to take on a supporting role. It felt like the guy just showed up to collect a paycheck. They gave him one good scene in the whole movie and the rest of the time he was just there.
I found it funny that 50 Cent was on the cover of the movie because he was only on screen for about a minute.
Vincent D’Onofrio hardly entertained as a bad guy. Vinnie Jones was a far superior and more believable tough guy (as he always is), but he gets disposed of way to early in the film and much too easily. Would you believe that Josh Duhamel would not have much trouble taking out Vinnie Jones, but would struggle against Vincent D’Onofrio? I don’t think so.
Rosario Dawson was Rosario Dawson. Good enough to be an actress, but just barely. Not a memorable performance. I forgot about it already.
Do not waste your time watching this movie. Definitely do not waste your money.
I rate this movie a 3 out of 10.
Buy, rent, or run? Run.
Here is a list of 13 other Bruce Willis movies that are better than this one:
- Die Hard 1 (1988), 2 (1990), 3 (1995), and 4 (2007) (we will count those as 1)
- Pulp Fiction (1994)
- Twelve Monkeys (1995)
- The Sixth Sense (1999)
- The Whole Nine Yards (2000)
- Unbreakable (2000)
- Bandits (2001)
- Hart’s War (2002)
- Tears of the Sun (2003)
- SinCity (2005)
- Surrogates (2009)
- Red (2010)
- Looper (2012)
Let’s face it, Vincent D’Onofrio has not been in 13 movies that were better than this one, but here are a few:
- Sinister (2012)
- The Newton Boys (1998)
- Men in Black (1997)
- Ed Wood (1994)
- JFK (1991)
- Full Metal Jacket (1987)
The same goes for Rosario Dawson, but here is her list:
- Kids (1995)
- He Got Game (1998)
- Men in Black II (2002)
- 25th Hour (2002)
- Sin City (2005)
- Clerks II (2006)
- Death Proof (2007)
- Eagle Eye (2008)
- Seven Pounds (2008)
Josh Duhamel has not made any good movies. He is probably most known for the Transformer movies.
This list belongs to Vinnie Jones:
- Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels (1998)
- Gone in Sixty Seconds (2000)
- Snatch (2000)
- Swordfish (2001)
50 Cent. Really? Okay he was alright in Righteous Kill (2008).
Gangster Squad (2013)
With a huge squad of big name actors, Gangster Squad definitely had enough firepower and got the job done right. Although with such a high caliber cast, one would have to try very hard to not make a good film. With Josh Brolin, Ryan Gosling, Sean Penn, Giovanni Ribisi, Nick Nolte, Emma Stone, Robert Patrick, Michael Pena, Anthony Mackie, who could go wrong? The supporting cast is an endless number of recognizable awesome character actors and I couldn’t name them all if I tried. Every other scene I recognized another face. I kept saying; Wow he’s in this too? Or, I like that guy. What else have I seen him in?
This could just be perhaps, Josh Brolin’s best performance. He was excellent! His role fit him like a glove.
Ryan Gosling was his usual suave and slick self. Once again he was paired with Emma Stone as they were in Crazy, Stupid, Love. (2011). They were a great couple again, but her character in my opinion, did not get much of a chance to develop. She was the big love interest, but she really was not in much of the movie.
Gangster Squad is Sean Penn’s best movie since Mystic River (2003). He has quite honestly been pretty disappointing on and off the screen in the last decade. This is a solid comeback movie for him. His character far exceeded my expectations.
Speaking of comeback movies, Nick Nolte surprised us all with a major comeback and Oscar worthy performance in the movie Warrior (2011). Even though his role in Gangster Squad was pretty minor, he reminded us that he can still act.
Giovanni Ribisi never ceases to disappoint and he continued that tradition once again.
Robert Patrick’s film career peaked when he played the T-1000 robot in the film Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991). He has been in many movies and TV shows in the last 22 years since then, but none of his roles have ever lived up to T2. He gives a good supporting role in Gangster Squad.
Michael Pena and Anthony Mackie have both been up and comers for a while. The two of them were both fun additions to the film.
The filmmakers did a remarkable job recreating Hollywood in the 1940s. Everything about the movie seemed real and believable. The clothing, the cars, the buildings and surrounding landscapes, and even the way people talked and acted were all works of art in themselves.
Gangster Squad is one of the best movies that I have seen in the last year. I was only a little disappointed that Emma Stone did not get much of a chance to develop her character. Even the much lesser known Mireille Enos, who was Josh Brolin’s wife in the film, seemed to have a bigger role than Emma Stone. If the film was a little longer and had developed its female characters a little more, I think that it would have been even better. The film was pretty amazing though, and if you have not done so already, you should check it out!
I rate this movie an 8.5 out of 10.
Buy, rent, or run? Buy.