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Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (2011)


"I had... stirrings"

          Going into the theater that day I had certain... 'feelings/concerns' about what it was that I was about to see. Would it be a continuation of the headache from the third installment? Would it be a revisit to the origins of fun and adventure that we've come to cherish from this franchise? I didn't know until the first 15-20 minutes into the show.  I went from sea-sickness to sea -giddiness in a heart beat, allow me to explain...
           We embarked on the adventure from a new venue. A theater so brand new that the new-office smell was still permeating from our clothes on the ride home.  The EMAGINE theaters opened up a new location in Royal Oak, Michigan.  There, my family and I tried the much talked about D-BOX seats! [<--click]

Although disappointed that the movie wasn't available in 3D with the D-BOX seats, we still were anxious to try them out.  When the movie started and the seats started to rock back and forth, I looked down the row and all I could see was white teeth in that dark place! It was like being at a theme park. Needless to say that all that 'rocking' explained the earlier mentioned 'sea-sickness'.  After about 10-15 minutes my body caught it's own equilibrium with the seats and I was able to enjoy the rest of my experience.  Chase scenes (especially with horses), climatic suspenseful scenes, and explosions never felt so good! You're sitting there wondering what else the movie is going to literally throw at you; which therein lies the 'giddiness'.

          The movie itself was on par with awesome.  Even  if your unfamiliar with the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise the movie stands on its own so you will be able to follow.  Great one-liners and over-the-top action blended with realistic sea voyages makes even the biggest skeptic bare a grin or two.  Loved the depth and the attention to the back story of the mermaids.

Capt. Jack is played flawlessly by the talented Johnny Depp.  I thought Pene'lope Cruz did a great job of playing Angelica.  Her character was written in extremely well to offset Jacks megalomaniac, self serving , and prideful disposition.  She was at the least, unnerving and unpredictable.  She made ol' Jack... vulnerable.   Ian McShane always makes for the perfect bad guy and even though Disney continues to show us their feeling regarding Christianity, Sam Claflin played the ultimate missionary with some pretty empowering moments.  The rest of the supporting cast served the story well but none more than Geoffrey Rush as Barbossa.

I used to think Aaron Eckhart was the most underrated actor of all time. Albeit he is not appreciated like he should be, Geoffrey Rush is at a close second on that short list... He may even share that number one spot depending what the academy does with the awards this year.  

         Hans Zimmer on the theme music was flawless as always. This cinematic summer is shaping up to be a classic one. Expect box-office record breaking statistics at the end of this year.  I give Pirates of the Caribbean a B+, definitely worth your buck and any extra your may spend on the D-Box seat experience.



Monday, May 16, 2011




            I believe we all had the same intuition about Priest prior to the opening weekend...  It has the potential to be good and the exact same amount of potential to suck.  Since Thor did such an excellent job last week of being the official jump-off for the summer blockbuster fest, I became more compelled to see if Priest could keep the ball of momentum rolling.

          Since this was a graphic novel adaption to the big screen, Scott Charles Stewart [director] helped those of us who haven't read the Korean-based comics with a visual preamble.  The audience was briefed by an animated story about the origins of the wars between humans and vampires.  Then we are introduced to the main characters in the movie.  The walled-in city was next up for an explanation.  A dark Vatican-like city filled with post-apocalyptic decor and melancholy long-faced human inhabitants populated this city and they all are ruled by the church.

            Similar to but more serious than a satire of the Catholic church, the population that dwelled there including the protectors of that land called the Priests were under strict rule of the church.  Priests were somewhat of a Jedi-like order that swore to protect all humans from vampires. Even they were subject to rule under the preface of this one line: "To go against the church is to go against God".  This  was said at nauseam to instill order.  Of course a terrible thing happens that involves vampires outside the walls and there is one Priest that is compelled to be insubordinate to the laws of the land and leave on a solo mission to take care of this menace.   In spite of the direct orders of the church to withdrawal from his campaign he decides to "go against God".
          The one-liners were so shallow in this proverbial action flick.  The story was weak. No chemistry between the love interest(s).  Character development was inept.  I truly didn't feel or care for anyone in this story.  As a matter of fact, the Marshall/cowboy was so irritating that I was really hoping that he got what was coming to him early so that we could continue with the main plot.  Whether he got what was coming to him or not is left up in the air... no spoilers here.

          Speaking of shallow, this movie contained some of the most ridiculous action scenes that I have ever seen in cinema... down-right insulting stuff.  In fact I would like to make a list off the top of my head right now , in order
  1. Dang near every action scene in Priest besides those from the lady Priest (she was sweet).

  1. The roundhouse kick of the needle from Blades foot to dead-center of  Deacon Frost's head Alibi: It worked because the rest of the movie was awesome.  The original Blade is at the two spot for best vampire movies ever made... maybe number one.
  2. The slow-mo flamingo kick Trinity gave an agent in the Matrix. Alibi: Like Blade, the rest of this movie was so awesome that she could have sneezed in slow-motion and it would have looked great.
  3.  Every single kick and punch performed in StreetFighter the movie.  Alibi: The director was trying to keep the action authentic to the video-game.
  4.  Rocky's jabs to Clubber Lang's face stopping short about a foot and Clubber's head still jerking back .  It was like Mr.T was saying "Yes, Yes, Yes".  Alibi:  Rocky III was and still is a classic.  We didn't care, in fact it's considered taboo to point that out! [shame on me!]

           The moves in Priest put all the ones mentioned above to shame and I'm not exaggerating. Above all that, again, the Cowboy/Marshall character was the most irritating aspect of the movie! So prideful; So arrogant and stupid he made it extremely difficult to feel an ounce of compassion towards him or his cause.  
          Since it's only available in 3D we have no choice but to pay the extra $.  For that and everything else mentioned above this movie just isn't worth your dollar.  I strongly urge you to wait for DVD for this D grade of a flick.


Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Jumping the Broom



I thought this movie was cute.  I probably won't ever cue it up to watch again but I was able to enjoy it once all the predictability got out the way and we wound up thigh deep in the main dilemma.  

I am continually impressed with Paula Patton.  I recently pegged her as the new Halle Berry.  She has every attribute Halle had but Paula is a better talent early in her career.  The talent really came to the surface when the movie needed some emotion.  Laz Alonso really showed up when he had to as well.  Impressive performances from the both of them in spite of a screenplay that was two clicks north of mediocre... actually it wasn't the script but the subject matter.
           Supporting cast played nicely together.  I love the fact that Mike Epps wasn't just placed into a section of the movie but had a nice part to play through the entire flick. Julie Bowen [wedding director] was funny as well.
         I think everyone can relate to something from anyone of the multitude of characters in the movie.  Which enables them to take something away from the screen as you leave and continue your day.  For that fact I'll say that this movie is worth watching and I'll stamp a B- on it because a C+ seems a bit harsh.  I felt the movie was a little bit better than that!




          I don't know what percentage of the masses I represent, but I am a viewer with very limited knowledge of Thor or his comic book origins.  So the character development in the story would be essential to me enjoying this flick. Now-a-days comic book made movies have been pretty good about that and I expect nothing less from the official lead off of the 2012 summer-blockbusters. In my opinion they did an excellent job with the movie but the real jump-off for the 2011 summer cinema fest started last week with Fast Five! I'm slightly irritated that Vin Diesel & company got kicked under the bed when Marvel came in the room but that's another story, let's get into THOR.

Upon hearing that Hollywood was going to make this picture some years back my knee-jerk reaction was to do my own personal casting call.  I didn't take long, in fact the next Sunday while watching True Blood it became clear to me Alexander Skarsgard who plays Eric Northman in True Blood would be perfect!

  Smiling at the thought reminiscent to the same smile I drew while watching Remington Steel as a young-ling--- "Boy, that Remington (Pierce Bronson) would make a great 007!" Little did I know that they had their sights on Australian born actor Chris Hemsworth. Little is known about Chris, especially from us that live here in the states. I remember the very brief but effective and long-lasting impression of his acting skills in the 2009 blockbuster Star Trek

His version of George Kirk (James T. Kirk's father) was a memorable one to say the least. Then the other more familiar names started to emerge... the Natalie Portmans, the Anthony Hopkins, Jeremy Renner, Idris Elba.  Kudos to the head of the casting team! Job well done!

           When the movie started we were thrust into battle. Many of the definitions and explaining came while the story was unfolding itself. I'm sure many characters from the anticipated Avengers movie were foreshadowed but none caused more of a stir than the first peek at 'Hawkeye' played by Jeremy Renner [see below].

         Who is Hawkeye some of you ask?  That's the guy with the bow and arrow awaiting orders to take THOR out while perched in that cable car unit above the action.  More applause as Stan Lee [creator of the Thor comics] made another classic cameo. A partial applause came after the post-credit material finished.  A lot of us wasn't sure what we witnessed so don't forget to stay after the credits and see if you can make it out.
          Besides being incredibly loud, it was fun seeing Thor going through his character arc.  It was equally impressive learning how deceitful and cunning your foes can be.  Honor, love, and duty all put to the test. I'm sure you'll enjoy the result.

This movie is worth watching and worth and definitly worth your buck.  This one you don't have to neccessarily see in 3D but above all...

Don't forget to wait for all the credits to scroll,
you really want ot see the very brief bonus 

THOR earns a B.

See this great featurette below.

More Thor Videos


Monday, May 2, 2011

Fast Five


"Running ain't freedom"

         I don't understand how ANYBODY could not want to see this movie after the partaking of any one of the trailers that lead up to this event.
  • Due date in Michigan: Friday April 29th
  •  Saw it that Saturday afternoon 
  •  Can't wait to see it again.
          Another A grade given out by me to a flick that I'm not sure qualifies as a summer blockbuster. By the amount of adrenaline that was spent making this movie and the amount of rush spent watching the last installment of this NOS charged franchise; The implication is the "Summer Blockbusters" have started early! If I'm wrong, we are going to have an incredible summer at the cinema.

           The movie picks up exactly where the last one stopped. I really and especially love the way all the characters are re-introduced from the start. All characters that showed up in Rio De Janeiro fit their cue to a 'T', but none more spectacularly than Dominic Teretto [Vin Diesel].

     Dominic is easy to like because he is the only one out the crew that is straight forward with his agenda.  He's known for his values, whether it's racing values, family values, or moral issues.  Tremendous logical appeal. He has this big-brother presence that resonates with us all. Not much of a talker, so everything he utters is a jewel.  Man! If he wasn't before, he has to be now considered one of the top action hero's of his generation.  I'm not feeling  Sam Worthington [Terminator: Salvation, Avatar, and Clash of the Titans] like that even though they are trying to force feed us a lot of him in the past few summers. You can insert Vin right above Gerald Butler, Matt Damon, Mark Wahlberg and whoever else you would like to insert as a top action star in the year 2000 and up. [ Maybe Sly Stone can make an Expendables with the actions stars of 2000]  If not him then there is one more canidate that can vouche for the spot.

The Rock's character played well into this story.  Mixed with chuckling at his highly aggressive articulation of orders, was one eyebrow up.  It was raised at all the Under Armour shirts being worn worn by the federal agent elites.  I guess the higher you go up in law enforcement the tighter your shirt gets.  The Rock gives you the usual menacing scowl and brisk walk while barking orders.... You know, the patent stuff we've come to love from the Rock.  Also like Dom, Hobbs [the Rock] leaves no guess work regarding his intentions...

          Everything that was billed for this fight is an understatement!  I mean... The most hay-makers EVER in one fight and that's all I'm going to say about that.  The only thing that comes close to that is the finale of the whole thing at the end.

                    One of the best car chase scenes to date.  A great heist story with an extraordinarily supportive and very cohesive cast ... One reminiscent of The Italian Job with a lot of Bad Boys 2 sprinkled... well, more like dumped into the batter makes for a whirl of a ride and a lot of popcorn missing my mouth.

This is a movie that I really want to own because of the "play again" value...  That is the reason behind the 5 McGuffins below. As earlier stated the movie gets an A because I simply don't know how the movie could of gotten any better.