02
Jul
10

Movie Lovers! – This WAY —->

If you continue to love movies, regardless of the release date, please checkout the new, prettier home of Good Film Hunting. We moved a while ago but I’m sorry if I didn’t let you in on the change. I promise the same amount of snarkyness.

www.goodfilmhunting.com

Please bookmark, RSS, email subscribe or whatever you do from that site. I look forward to the discussion.

16
May
10

Robin Hood

Robbing for the rich and giving to the poor, you won’t feel ripped off by this Robin Hood summer blockbuster.

Ridley Scott teams up with Russell Crowe for the fourth time to give us the latest version of Robin Longstride…or is it Loxley…or Hood. A film that doesn’t try to hard to be any thing other than what it is: middle of the road escapism. But sometimes that’s just fine too.

THE SETUP:
Robin Longstride (Russell Crowe) has returned from fighting with King Richard (Danny Huston) to find England is not as he left it. Though he has little memory of where he came from, he does know that his country under the leadership of the newly crowned King John (Oscar Issac) and lawful enforcer Godfrey (Mark Strong) will only end in chaos and death. With the help of his fellow soldiers, or “merry men”, he works with the Loxley family including Marion (Cate Blanchet) and former Marshall (William Hurt) to fight against the crown and the impending invasion by the French.

THE THOUGHTS:
It’s not Gladiator in tights. There I said it. Yes, it’s a period piece. Yes, it’s the same star and director. But this isn’t that movie for two very important reasons: Robin Hood is funnier and not as good…but still OK.

The first thing you should probably know is it’s a PG-13 rating, meaning no naughty words and not much gross violence (except for one particular arrow). This is about as family friendly as Ridley Scott and Russell Crowe get and unfortunately it comes off not as gritty as I would have liked.

The lighter tone of Robin’s relationship with his merry men was welcome and you could really believe these guys liked each other. I was even surprised there was as much humour in it as there was. (Don’t get excited, it’s not the Hangover).

Acting wise it was fine. And that’s really all I have to say is “fine.” It seems they showed up, put on some accents and had some fun but really didn’t break the Robin Hood mold. Mark Strong is, as always, a great bad guy (see RocknRolla and Sherlock Holmes) and it’s always good to see Max von Sydow and William Hurt. Both add to any movie they’re in.

The action scenes were great, culminating in a big battle with the French at the end. Most of it was believable but I think they pushed Marion into the role of “I’m an equal so suddenly I can use a sword” too forcefully. Not a huge irritation but not so necessary.

Robin Hood Rating:


2 tickets – good movie, take a friend. This felt like a movie you go into with no expectations and are pleasantly surprised but not screaming to tell everyone about it.

Rating system:

½ ticket – rip up your ticket.
1 ticket
– go, but don’t tell anyone.
2 tickets
– good movie, take a friend. 
3 tickets
– tell everyone you know.


Random Recommendations
The Full Monty (1997) – If you haven’t seen it, you should. A fun story of a group of working-class, unemployed Englishman trying to raise some money so they put on a strip show for their town. It’s funny. It’s got heart. And you’re man enough to see it.

The Gift (2000) – Directed by Sam Raimi and oddly based on Billy Bob Thorton’s mom who’s apparently a psychic. Yeah, I know. Weird. But it’s still a thrilling mix of supernatural, violence and Keanu Reeves as a redneck. How can you pass that up?

14
May
10

Iron Man 2

Bigger, louder, more heroes, more villains, same old Tony Stark/Robert Downey Jr. The sequel to Iron Man may not be as good as the original but it’s a helluva lot of fun and a great kick-start to summer eyeball candy.

 Jon Favreau returns to the director’s chair for the next installment of Iron Man and further sets up the cinematic tapestry that is The Avengers (Iron Man + Incredible Hulk  + Iron Man 2 + Captain America + Thor = The Avengers).  It may not bring a lot of new to the franchise but if it ain’t broke….

 THE SETUP:
Tony Stark has come out of the superhero closet, publicly revealing he’s Iron Man. Well his ego certainly hasn’t suffered for it. His higher profile has attracted a rival arms dealer Justin Hammer (Sam Rockwell) and son of a business collaborator that Stark’s father screwed over (Mickey Rourke having fun). If that wasn’t enough, the government (smarmily represented by Gary Shandling) wants his armour, his best friend James Rhodes (Don Cheadle) wants him to give it up and his assistant/love interest (Gwenyth Paltrow) is not handling it all so well. Did I mention a secret clandestine organization wants him too and he’s dealing with some health problems by wearing the suit? No? Well there’s a lot to keep track of.

THE THOUGHTS:
AND THERE’S A LOT TO KEEP TRACK OF. The rule is always bigger and louder for sequels, especially superhero movies. Apparently that includes stuffing as many people in the 120 minutes as possible, characterization be damned.  Iron Man 2 is no different. The two actors that suffer the most from this is Gwenyth Paltrow and Scarlett Johansson. Paltrow had great moments in the original but here just basically has an annoying nervous breakdown the entire time. Johannssen is a pretty cardboard cutout that kicks ass. Not much emoting.

Another issue is the story. How is this not exactly the same movie as the first? Bad guy feels he’s mistreated by the Stark family/legacy (i.e. daddy) and don’t like where the company is going so they want to take it out on the son. Yep, same premise…but wait…

I don’t care.

It’s Iron Man.

Robert Downey Jr. turns it up to eleven (yes even more than the first) while Mickey Rourke and Sam Rockwell swallow, chew and spit out every scene they’re in. Fun to watch. Don Cheadle is a great addition as Rhodey even if he suffers a bit from one-dimensionalism (it’s a word). But we didn’t come for the acting.

Great action, big explosions, more Stark. Done, done and done. It may be a slow start but once the repulsor rays and whiplashes get going, you are firmly in Summer Blockbuster mode.

Iron Man 2 Rating:
 
 
 
 
2 tickets – good movie, take a friend.  A good extension of the Iron Man franchise. More than just dumb fun and really only lacks as it tries to give you too much of a good thing. (too many actors, story is almost a retread of the first).

Rating system:

½ ticket – rip up your ticket.
1 ticket
– go, but don’t tell anyone.
2 tickets
– good movie, take a friend. 
3 tickets
– tell everyone you know. 


Coming Attractions:

The Adjustment Bureau (release date: September 17, 2010) –Matt Damon is on a hell of a run lately and Emily Blunt has been great even if the movies she’s been in sucked (cough WOLFMAN cough). This movie feels a bit Matrixy…but more the first one than the last two.

Random Recommendations
What Lies Beneath (2000) – Clark Gregg (Agent Coulson in Iron Man 1&2) wrote this Robert Zemeckis directed story about a woman, Michelle Pfeiffer, who sees ghosts and her husband, Harrison Ford, who doesn’t believe her. Better and creepier than my description.

Things to Do in Denver When You’re Dead (1995) – Pulp Fiction inspired a lot of crappy ensemble movies. This isn’t one of them. A group of criminals have been marked for death by the mob and this is how they spend their last few days. Good times. Don Cheadle, Andy Garcia, Steve Buscemi, Treat Williams, Christopher Walken, Christopher Lloyd star.

25
Apr
10

The Losers

Over-stylized, over-the-top, overtly sexy action movie that does the funny and the explosions to full effect.

Writer Peter Berg and director Sylvain White do an almost identical line for line/scene for scene film of the The Losers Vertigo/DC comic. It’s the fantastic casting, kickass visuals and fast pacing that make this worth taking a look.

THE SETUP:
The Losers are an elite group of military operatives who are betrayed by a high-ranking/corrupt CIA agent named Max (Jason Patric) in the middle of Bolivia. To get their lives back, they must team up with a mysterious mercenary (Zoe) to return to the States, kill Max and destroy the documents that frame them. (I tried writing this plot with more than 2 lines, but it wasn’t necessary).

THE THOUGHTS:
As I’ve stated before, I’m a little bit of a comic book geek so to see two comic book based movies, two weeks in a row…bliss. Unfortunately Kick-Ass didn’t quite meet my expectations.  The Losers did.

First off, the acting. You could tell the actors were loving every moment of scene time with the crazy action sequences and the heightened sense of reality. The stand outs for me were Jason Patric, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Chris Evans…and of course, Zoe Saldana. That there is a bad-ass, chick or otherwise. Each took their parts and just, for lack of a better thesaurus word, oozed.

Jason Patric (Max) – smarmy evil.

Jeffrey Dean Morgan (Clay) – cool charm.

Chris Evans (Jensen) – beefcake comedic relief.

Zoe Saldana (Aisha) – kick your ass, have sex with you, blow you up with a rocket launcher and kiss your charred remains good bye…with a smile. (I’m a fan.  COME ON! Star Trek, Avatar, and this?!…I’m forgetting Death at a Funeral on purpose).

The rest of the crew covered the bases and definitely felt like a close unit of combatants and friends.

The action and the visuals were great. Gun fights/knife fights in hotel rooms, airplane explosions, armed robbery…they for sure used the money they saved by not hiring top named actors and threw it into the booms and ka-pows. It may not have been HUGE SUMMER MOVIE type action but for this movie, it was perfect.

The script was the weakest part of the movie. Some of the lines I felt were a little off as things people wouldn’t really say. It would probably have been a bigger issue if the actors hadn’t taken them and made them their own. Especially Morgan and Patric. Go with it and have a good time.

The Losers Rating:

2 tickets – good movie, take a friend. A comic book movie that doesn’t really feel comicy but that doesn’t mean it’s not fun. Keep your moist toilettes at home, this is pure testosterone and “blowin’ up real good” (for you SCTV fans). Did I mention Zoe’s in it?

Rating system:

½ ticket – rip up your ticket.
1 ticket
– go, but don’t tell anyone.
2 tickets
– good movie, take a friend. 
3 tickets
– tell everyone you know.


Coming Attractions:

Get Low (release date: July 30, 2010) – I like Bill Murray. He’s at his best when he’s doing comedy with serious overtones so I’m looking forward to this movie. But then the cast of Robert Duvall, Sissy Spacek and Lucas Black doesn’t hurt either. Did I mention it’s based on a true story?

Random Recommendations
Friday Night Lights (2004) – Directed by Peter Berg and starring Billy Bob Thorton, this is the real, truly and absolutely story of football and its religious fervor in the southern U.S.  And you don’t have to be an American to enjoy and relate to the story of the kids under this extreme pressure. Watch the documentary to see what became of them.

Narc (2002) / Rush (1991) – I had a hard time picking one of these Jason Patric movies…so I picked both. Engrossing stories of guys in waaaay over their head as undercover narcotics officers: In Narc, dealing with the brutality of Ray Liotta’s character and in Rush, dealing with the drugs themselves. Both worth renting. Especially Rush, because any movie is better with Sam Elliott in it.

Narc

Rush

18
Apr
10

Kick-Ass

A fun, bloody satire of super-hero movies that suffers due to the lack of an interesting main character and the overwhelming coolness (and over shadowing) of a supporting one.

Matthew Vaughn brings Mark Millar’s comic book to the screen almost word for word, shot for shot which is usually a good thing. Usually. Though there is a lot of fun ultraviolence, the movie lacks any discernable “heart” to really connect with an audience.

THE SETUP:
A comic book/high school geek (Aaron Johnson) wonders why no one has ever tried to be a super hero…so decides to take up the challenge as “Kick-Ass,” a scuba-gear wearing, ineffectual yet semi-confident hero. The rules of real life get in the way for good/bad effect – i.e. bad guys who hit back with knives and the viral popularity of YouTube. Through the help of a real father/daughter vigilante team, Big Daddy and Hit-girl (Nicolas Cage & Chloe Moretz), Kick-Ass takes on the mob with spectacularly violent results.

THE THOUGHTS:
I’m a comic book geek so I really, really, really wanted to like this. Really. A lot. The Kick-Ass comic book is violent, potty-mouthed, extreme and yes…awesome. It’s over the top and in your face (the good kind of clichés.) The Kick-Ass movie really came close but its main actor and slow middle got in the way.

The acting was pretty great. Martin Strong as the mob boss (is there a movie he’s not a bad guy in?) was his usual fun self. His criminal/Red Mist superhero wannabe son played by Christopher “McLovin” Mintz-Plasse was the same dorky character he always is but with a darker tone. Even the comic geek buddies – Clark Duke (you just saw him in Hot Tub Time Machine) and Evan Peters were pitch perfect. The problem lies with the characters Kick-Ass, Big Daddy and Hit-girl.

In the case of Kick-Ass, he just wasn’t dorky enough. The guy is ripped and he has a love interest.  Excuse me? He’s a geek because his voice cracks and he read comics. Sorry, not enough for me. And because of that, I didn’t care about him. He wasn’t pathetic enough. I can understand he’d get his asskicked but really, I didn’t care or feel his pain.

On the other hand, Big Daddy and Hit-girl WERE AWESOME! I want to see their movie! I usually name Nic Cage as a movie killer but here he’s fantastic, channeling Adam West with a golly-gee-whillickers attitude and a sociopathic love of the maiming. Chloe Moretz’s Hit-girl steals the whole movie. The girl is a Bruce Lee pinball, with some kick-ass moves of her own and a passion for knives and firearms.

Overall, the movie started strong but got lost in the middle with pseudo-gay situations with a girl that didn’t need to be part of the storyline and a time with the mobsters that we really didn’t care about.

Kick-Ass Rating:

1 ticket – go, but don’t tell anyone. A welcome addition to the super-hero genre and a solid renter but a lack of focus on the main story and a “not pathetic enough” lead character makes me shy away from rating it higher. Give me a movie about Hit-girl and we can talk.

Rating system:

½ ticket – rip up your ticket.
1 ticket
– go, but don’t tell anyone.
2 tickets
– good movie, take a friend. 
3 tickets
– tell everyone you know.


Coming Attractions:

Paper Man (release date: April 23, 2010) – Sticking with the super-hero theme but not really. This screams INDEPENDENT MOVIE! but that’s not such a bad thing. Jeff Daniels, Emma Stone, Lisa Kudrow and Ryan Reynolds. Stories of reconnecting with people, told well, are always welcome.

Random Recommendations
Stardust (2007) – Matthew Vaughn directed this fun fantasy with Robert De Niro, Michelle Pfeiffer and Claire Danes. An Englishman makes friends with a star (Danes), the “in the heavens” kind, while fighting pirates and evil witches. If I could add ninjas I would but it’s already pretty great.

Red Rock West (1993) – Film noir is seedy. It’s twisted. It’s full of lies and deceit. Double-crosses and gunplay. Evil women and hard-up men. This is one of those movies. Nic Cage (when he could act), Laura Flynn Boyle and Dennis Hopper.

16
Apr
10

The Runaways

Sex, drugs and rock n’roll…but with girls. There’s not a lot of “new” to this take on rock bands but the kickass music, good acting and ballsy attitude make it a fun flick.

Based on Cherie Curry’s book on her experience as lead singer of the Runaways, this is a great snap shot of rebellion and females embracing sex as a means to get a point across. There certainly was room for more but it got its point across: girls can teach the boys about true rock n’roll. And yes, I’m off to get the soundtrack.

THE SETUP:
Joan Jett (Kristen Stewart) and Cherie Curry (Dakota Fanning) are two young women with crap homelives, no direction and tons of attitude. Enter slimy, but effective, music producer Kim Fowley (Michael Shannon) who teaches them to embrace their jailbait qualities while hardening them into a “they will throw crap at you” rock band. From here the all-girl group live the high life (read: drugs) with plenty of FU mind-set. It’s not long before the lifestyle becomes bigger than the music.

THE THOUGHTS:
This movie would live or die completely on the shoulders of its two you stars: Stewart and Fanning.

I’m one of those people that is really undecided on the talent of Kristen Stewart. Unfortunately my only exposure has only been the so-so Adventureland and the painful Twilight movies. Not much to go on. Well, she is fantastic as Joan Jett.

Further to that, Dakota Fanning is awesome. Nice to see a child star take their early talent and run with it rather than hitting big and disappearing (yes, you Haley Joel Osmet). And this is not your “little girl” from I am Sam, the sexy snears, the gartered onstage outfits and that growl of a voice. Yep, she sang the music too. I like her fine.

The only other person worth mentioning is Michael Shannon. After an oscar nominated performance in Revolutionary Road, he follows it up with a sex-driven, sleazy music producer that actually knows what he’s doing. He adds a lot to the narrative and what else do you want from your supporting actors?

The rest of the movie is pretty typical rock star fare. Unknowns, dealing with fame, drug use, implosion, redemption. I think every single biopic follows this formula and the only thing that can make it stand out is the performances and the tunes. You’ve got both here. I just wish they didn’t need so many “looking pensive” camera shots to break up the angst.

The Runaways Rating:


2 tickets – good movie, take a friend. The story isn’t rocket science, it’s rock n’ roll. Ch-Ch-Ch-Ch-Cherry Bomb. (that’ll make sense if you see the movie).

Rating system:

½ ticket – rip up your ticket.
1 ticket
– go, but don’t tell anyone.
2 tickets
– good movie, take a friend. 
3 tickets
– tell everyone you know.


Coming Attractions:

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (release date: July 23, 2010) – OK, sure, it’s Michael Cera playing the same character in every single movie. I get that. But ignore that. This is the story of a boy who must win the heart of a girl by defeating her 9 evil ex-boyfriends…Mike Tyson PunchOut-style. Still thinking Michael Cera? Watch the trailer and you’re welcome.

Random Recommendations
Panic Room (2002) – The David Fincher movie that isn’t Fight Club or Seven or Curious Case of Benjamin Button. Intense, and yet oddly very intimate thriller of a mother and daughter being terrorized in their own home. Jodie Foster, Kristen Stewart and Forest Whitaker do the panicking.

Before the Devil Knows Your Dead (2007) – Legendary director Sidney Lumet tells a story of two brothers trying to get ahead any way possible…even if it’s to rob their parents’ jewelery store. Philip Seymour Hoffman and Ethan Hawke are the kids, Albert Finney does the parenting and Marisa Tomei just gets better with age.

05
Apr
10

Clash of the Titans

Swords, sorcery and CGI make up this updated version of the 1981 original Clash of the Titans. Looks great, cool creatures and great fight scenes are all that hold up this badly written and unmotivated movie.

Director Louis Leterrier puts Avatar’s Sam Worthington in a chestplate and a dress to fight Greek gods and fantastic monsters. With the level of technology now, this movie was ripe for a remake but I have a feeling it could have waited a little bit longer.

The Setup:
After a personal tragedy, half man/half god Perseus (Sam Worthington) decides to do whatever it takes to prevent the destruction of the city of Argos and the sacrifice of its princess Andromeda. Embracing his godly heritage while fighting giant scorpions, evil kings and Medusa, Perseus must figure out how to stop the evil Hades (Ralph Fiennes) and his monster, the Kraken.

The Thoughts:
I grew up on the original Clash of the Titans. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen Bubo the mechanic owl fly through the air. It’s a part of my childhood which may stimulate interest for a remake but can it ever live up to my memories? Yeah, no.

Don’t get me wrong, this is a beautiful movie. The scenery, CGI and action sequences (though a little over-edited) are amazing. The set pieces, from Medusa’s lair to the Stygian Witches volcano home were nothing short of awesome. I was even a little worried the computer-generated characters would be terrible but the giant scorpions and the Kraken were really well done. What really stood out was Pegasus. You really could believe that horse could fly. It was only Medusa who came off looking a little fake.

The problems unfortunately outweighed the good.

  • If this is Greece, how come Worthington jumps between English, Australian and American accents?
  • Why does Perseus care what happens to Argos? What’s his motivation? Their actions cause a huge tragedy for him, he has no connection to the princess and they treat him like crap when he arrives. Sorry, just cause he’s a hero doesn’t do it for me.
  • The script. Wow. Cheesy. Even with heavyweights like Liam Neeson as Zeus and Fiennes as Hades, there’s only so much they can do with those bad Shakespearean words.

This was a movie that was shot normally and then updated in 3-D to ride the Avatar-wave of popularity. It’s a cash grab. I wasn’t impressed when they did it with Alice in Wonderland so I skipped it entirely for this. Sorry, if it’s shot to be in 3-D, you have my money. If not, nice try.

Clash of the Titans Rating:

1 ticket – go, but don’t tell anyone. An OK updated version of the original that would have benefited from script-writing 101. It’s fun and will look better on a big screen than a TV but a collection of pretty pictures, cool CGI and men in skirts do not a great movie make. Not really necessary to RELEASE THE KRAKEN!

Rating system:

½ ticket – rip up your ticket.
1 ticket
– go, but don’t tell anyone.

2 tickets
– good movie, take a friend. 
3 tickets
– tell everyone you know.


Coming Attractions:

Salt (release date: July 23, 2010) – Angelina Jolie likes to kick your ass. Ever since Mr. and Mrs. Smith, she’s gotten good at it (I’m ignoring Tomb Raider). Me? I’m really A-OK with that. Not a lot of women are pulling off the buttkicker role since Sigourney Weaver gave it up so Angelina as a possible Russian spy trying to clear her name…I’m in.


Random Recommendations
Unleashed aka. Danny the Dog (2005) – Jet Li. Anthony Hopkins. Jet Li. Morgan Freeman. Jet Li. He’s been raised as an attack dog, to fight and kill when he’s released from his collar. The story is of Danny’s discovery that he’s a person and the value in that…with some asskicking tomfoolery in there as well.

Clash of the Titans (1981) – How could I not possibly recommend the original? Forget Harry Hamlin’s perm, this is Ray Harryhausen doing what he does best. It may seem a little cheesy from today’s standards but this is where it all started. From Jason and the Argonauts, Seven Voyage of Sinbad to this. Enjoy.




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