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Friday, April 29, 2011



          Arthur started off at an annoying pace. Unfunny, weird predicaments, and one-liners that were more miss than hit.  The only thing that really grabbed what was left of your attention were the outlandish ways Arthur [Brand] spends his millions.  The story seemed predictable enough especially when using applied knowledge from the trailer...  This is were the casting of  Russell Brand works.  When you have a screenplay that bland and that slow to pick up, you need someone to grab the attention of the viewers to get them over the first giant hill of the theatrical roller-coaster. 

Whatever "it" is Russell Brand has a ton of it.  I don't know if it's that British accent or his wisely placed "in-your-face" remarks that often leave you intrigued at the simplicity of his sarcasm; but whatever it is it kept you in your seat wondering what he was going to say/do next.
As you move along in the story we are introduced to the drinking habit, which is like a cherry on top of the sub-par story thus far. Character development seems redundant as we are reintroduced to the same characters over and over again.... Bimbo's, the stern nanny, his cold mother, and  Naomi played by Greta Gerwig.  Naomi and even the nanny [Hobson] played by Helen Mirren were strangely captivating though, especially as the movie went along. 

             I will say about half-way through this movie does a 180.  I mean everyone's character becomes very interesting. The movie starts to form some depth and I'm very much engaged into the story. 

          This movie is very much worth watching if you see it through.  Very impressed with the way the story concluded and it was great seeing Nick Nolte again: B-



Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Soul Surfer




"I don't need easy. I just need possible."

Very inspiring movie.  If you've watched ESPN, followed competitive surfing or just watched the trailer you pretty much know what happens to Bethany Hamilton's arm. So you go to the theater and as you sit there in your seat watching this feature you are squinting, waiting for the inevitable. Every time a water scene is shown you are cringing the entire time. Sean McNamara[director/screenplay] did a good job misdirecting and playing with our emotions/nerves.... and to take it to the twilight zone, I was out at the MJR Marketplace theater last Sunday[ April 17th] watching this movie.  This happens to be the day that the weather unleashed it's fury down south and knocked out the power briefly up here in Michigan.  So the picture went out shortly but the audio remained.  We are sitting there listening to the movie but can't see it yet. Wouldn't you know it, the part that we were expecting came up but we could only hear it.

When the theater got the projectors back they hit rewind and we watched it from where it initially stopped.  Kudos to MJR Theaters! Even though it wasn't their fault they gave everyone in the auditorium a free pass!  Love that theater and apparently I'm not the only one.  So thankfully I was able to watch the rest of the film off edge and I must say, when the unfortunate occurred and then I saw AnnaSophia Robb's [who played Bethany] reaction to it I was, in a word...  disappointed.
Even though the movie explained why, I still thought the initial reaction or lack thereof was questionable. I mean the whole story evolved around this one event. They give it to us and it's like...  a prick to the finger during your last physical. Pinches at first then quickly forgotten, hopping that was the brunt of your traumatic experience. Thank God the movie was so much more than that.  The depth of the subject matter truly earns the first word in the title.

            Everything the movie lacked in one area it made up in another.  Learned a lot about surfing and the shots in the waves, underwater, and in the impact zone were extremely good for the budget that they were working with.
           Any movie with Dennis Quaid in it scares me. Even though he did a really good job playing Bethany's father, Helen Hunt delivered in her limited role as a highly competitive but tamed by motherhood mother. 

          As in most great true story pictures the best parts are usually the 'actual footage' which are, most times, near or at the end of the movie.  That truth holds here too.  It was enough to warm the coldest heart in Michigan.  
        Another attribute about 'true stories' that can't go unnoticed are the perimeteres in writing a script are confined to the real event.  That's why it's so important when chosing a real story: make sure that the real event is worth investing all this time and money in.  A lot of times it may be better to make a documentary depending on the subject matter.  I'm glad they decided to do this faith based movie.  I was certainly able to get a lot out of it and I'm beyond doubt that you will too.
      Definitely worth it and I give Soul Surfer an A.


Tuesday, April 19, 2011



      So... I'm fully aware that most of my readers skip this whole section and scurry down to the ratings and that's cool, I write out this stuff as an outlet and if you have time I hope you [the remaining few] enjoy my cinema viewing experience reviews.  Not to save the few that read this stuff a few scrolling  clicks but I give this movie an abrupt A+.  The reasoning behind me giving you that now is because I want to address an issue...  I want to discuss all these high marks I've been giving out lately.  I have really been impressed with the quality of movies and film that we've seen thus far, right before the huge summer blockbuster flicks.  We have truly been spoiled as an audience.  Hoping karma doesn't serve us a raw dish of mediocre high-budget flops during the hot days this year,  this might actually turn out to be a historical year for cinema; Speaking of hot...
           Rio was amazing. Smitten is the only adjective that accurately describes my viewing experience. The color, the rhythm , the captivating and interesting characters. From the start we are introduced to the splendor of  Rio de Janeiro and a young Macaw named Blu.

Blu has a few issues as I'm sure you will discover. This story is  well written. Your taken in so many directions which didn't appeal to most critics... I loved it.  I like not being able to see whats around the next bend.  Every great story has that attribute.

A really nice love story, a lot of action, a couple of truly heinous villains and...
          the music.
My God, the music in this adventure was wonderful; Authentic too. Elaine Elias would surly be shifting/rocking back in forth and side to side in her theater seat.
The Girl from Ipanema, Lionel Ritchie, Will.I.AM, and the incredible Jamie Fox... 

If I may drift for a minute: Jamie Fox's song called "Fly Love" is by far the most beautiful and romantic song that I've heard in quite sometime.  The placement of it in the movie was perfect.  Before you click play do me a little favor... close your eyes right before you hit play and think back to the last Island vacation/cruise that you embarked on...  If you've never been to the Caribbean think Florida or Cali, heck Fantasy Island ,just get your mind ready to drift after you've placed the mouse cursor over the play button.  So go ahead and get your cursor ready and when you're ready...
          [close those eyes!]

            Did you feel it?  
This song just leap-frogged "Kiss the Girl" song by Sebastian as best love song in a movie. I know you don't feel that way yet, just wait till you get smacked by it in this movie!
Go ahead and let it play while you read the rest of this :)

          The animation here is top notch. On par with Rango but not surpassing it... which is saying a lot.  Caricature animation is often under appreciated because of it's satirical nature but what a lot of people don't understand is that most times it's more important to exaggerate the essence of a being so that it may create something more... identifiable.  What else would you expect from the good folks that gave you the soon to be classic ICE AGE series, by the way.... We get a mini-series from the adventures of the ICE AGE squirrel and that ever elusive nut!  Sooner or later that whole conflict with the nut is going to get tired and dull  but until it does this appetizer serves more as the cherry on top of a great dessert after an incredible meal!

Recapping:  A+ and this movie is undeniably worth your dollar. [spend the extra two for 3D, why not get the premium experience]


Monday, April 11, 2011





           When I was very young I saw this movie called D.A.R.Y. L. This daunting story was a bout a boy who was also young, 'abnormal' and looking for answers. I think the reason why I will never forget this movie is because it represents the first time I saw the concept of a child's innocence being used a weapon.  In 1985 I was just a child myself and that whole experience was very unnerving. Enter Hanna in 2011. 
I've successfully been been desensitized to adolescent virtue weaponry though a surplus of evil child movies ie. The Good Son, all the Omens, The Orphan, Chucky and who can forget...Home Alone.  So as for a new notion of a "little killer" apparently using her powers for good, per the trailer, I became seriously intrigued.  

'Was she everything I expected?'...

Mmmmmm, I can't honestly say 'better' but this movie was right on par with what I thought it was going to be...  Intense throughout. Passionate when it had to be.  A fairy tale of realism.

          With the Chemical Brothers doing the score music and the girl being of German decent I was put in the mindset of  the famous"Run Lola Run" film. Which therein lies the only huge problem that I had with this film, with all these abilities and years of 'readiness' training ... why run?  That question was answered inside the film. So were a few other questions that spawned up while watching.  By the time the finale came around, I was satisfied and just in time too... kudos to the Director and the writers for such a great conclusion then cut to credits ending !!!  

Even though I would of liked to see more of her lethal fighting [ie. SALT] and more... ruthlessness on her part; I must say that this film is most definitely worth watching, B.


Guest Evaluator Brayden Brandon Cleaver

The brief, unapologetic stare said enough.
But her phrase, “I just missed your heart”, set the tone for Hanna’s detached personality from the film’s onset. She capped the words with a single bullet into her helpless victim.
Unfortunately for Hanna, the film also just missed its marked. It had the makings of a fast paced, espionage type flick, with its main cold-blooded killer a predestined 90-pound innocent looking teenage girl. But that rarity, the uniqueness that brought so many viewers into the theater, was sadly scarce throughout the movie.

Hanna was built to kill. Plain and simple.
Her genetically altered inception had her pegged as a “Super Soldier”. A lack of feelings and enhanced physical capabilities, coupled with a virtuous face and storybook name all made for the perfect killer, right? Well, if a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it does it make a sound?
Feeling guilty for the research he had helped with years ago, Hanna’s “father” (played by Eric Bana) took her as a baby before she was destroyed like the other test subjects. Knowing that one day she’d be hunted by Cate Blanchett, a CIA official who also helped with the research, he prepared Hanna for such day.
We were privy to glimpses of the intense training Bana put her through from what we’re left to believe was her whole, young life. She grew up in a forest, away from even something as commonplace as electricity. This helped to show how truly isolated her life was, and in contrast, brought more focus onto Bana’s preparation of Hanna.  But viewers were spoon fed the results of the training and her bio engineered abilities.
Shrouded by a Quentin “Tarentinoesque” soundtrack, you’re given bits and pieces of Hanna’s killer nature. You’re expecting lots of hand-to-hand and maybe weapon filled action, but are frequently served more chase scenes than confrontations.

Why make her training, her frigid-like demeanor, her displaced youth and her overall assassin-like potential such a focal point of the movie, but only give us nominal portions of it?
We’ve seen the super soldier theme before. We’ve seen cold-blooded assassins. We’ve seen intense training sequences. But we hadn’t seen these mixed with someone as unassuming as Hanna.
Due to its average output, despite good potential, Hanna gets $$ for mediocrity.
Where is the perfect mesh of a Jason Bourne when you need it :(


Thursday, April 7, 2011

Rango <--- click for official website



So you think you've seen the ultimate use of CGI [Computer Generated Imagery] in film. Perhaps while viewing Toy Story or Up. Maybe you shouted 'wow' while watching Avatar. Heck, I know I was overwhelmed with the use of it in Tron but never, ever, ever ever ever ever, would I have THUNK that a film by Nickelodeon would trump all that I've seen from the movie industry thus far... I want to say"with the exception of Tron"... Just keep in mind that Tron used it in a different way. Rango was shot entirely in CGI and it just looks incredible!!! Landscapes! Water!  Even though there weren't that many [maybe 2 or 3], the humans looked real enough to fool even the biggest skeptic. However, the main attraction where the animals.  Every visible scale down to the signature movements, attitudes, and charisma where just eye candy.  I was so engrossed by the imagery that even through the most compelling parts my mouth was still ajar in admiration of the work.

          After you get pass the visuals the next great attribute is Johnny Depp.  You get all this great dialogue from Rango at the beginning and throughout the film.  The first time we see our  hero hopeful he's doing all these different split character monologues while maintaining his origin voice characteristic of the chameleon!  Not sure if kids [depending on the child] will appreciate everything about this flick but I am sure they will certainly be involved with it.  The pace of the movie is pretty slow [western style] and a lot  of the innuendos, comedy, and back and forthness will surely fly over their little heads.

          This movie is a lot of things but a kid's movie... ehhhh. This is a western trying to disguise it's self as a kid's movie.  When it's time to separate these videos at your Blockbuster I can see them putting Rango under Western's, Family movies maybe.  
If you read my review for True Grit[<---click it], you would know that I'm far from a Western lover, in fact I don't watch a lot of westerns at all but the few that I like, I really like...eeer, okay, love [contradicting myself]. I love the grit, the toughness, the outdoor scenery... everything that makes a western a western including the staple of any great western... the saloon/bar scene. The uncertainty in the atmosphere when a stranger walks in is truly transferable from on screen to your nerves. The place is usually dim in light and serious.  Rango captured ALL of that just right!

          Talented cast, and a beautiful written screenplay with amazing graphics and oh yeah... Hans Zimmer doing the music... You end up with an A from me, and a masterpiece in the making depending on how it resonates with the rest of the grown-up crowd [contradiction no.#2, I may not have grown up yet]



Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Source Code


Source Code was a last minute decision for me.  I went to the theater intent on seeing Rango.  As I'm going in the front door I notice that Rango is another 2 hrs away and Source Code is only 15, guess which movie gets the nod. I saw that it [Source Code] got great reviews from the critics and it seemed interesting enough so I gave it a shot.  What do I have to lose? How about... more of my sense of discernment.  Movies where the McGuffin is a machine/contraption that allows you to do the unbelievable IS unbelievable unless you just gooooooooooo with it.  Since I pride myself on not being a cynic I often just gooooooo with it, for instance: 
  • Any time Machine movie.
  • The red pill in the Matrix
  • The transparent pill in Limitless
  • Or how about the contraption in Inception that allows two or more people connect in one dream?
I've swallowed a lot during my cinema adventures and thank God! Otherwise, I may have missed out on some truly good stories.
This story about a source code was a pretty good scientific story if you don't forensically dissect the science. What this movie is and what you may have gathered from the trailer is that the movie is more of a love story than anything else; An extremely good one at that. My only problem is when the movie itself defined exactly what the source code was. Then gradually began to break and bend it's own principals and rules. Although, I know part of  a great story or movie is one that evolves and takes you into unexpected sub-plots and surprise endings, misdirection, ect... I just wish that this one would perform the same task within it's own defined perimeters... This movie is almost impossible to review without spoiling part of it so I won't go any further.
Jeffery Wright [Dr. Rutledge] is like Aaron Eckhart to me... continually impressive by each flick!
I was entertained by this one and I feel that it is definitely worth your dollar.  I give it a very strong C+.