June 2009

  • Title: Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen
  • IMDB: link

transformers-revenge-of-the-fallen-posterI hated Michael Bay’s first Transformers, and this second installment is more of the same only longer, louder, sleazier, and (if possible) dumber.

Part Deux is filled with lazy humor, cheap gags (such as multiple shots of humping dogs and robots), a confusing and ridiculous plot (which is so inane characters twice have to stop and explain it not only to us but each other), big, though not too impressive, special effects, and little else. It’s obvious that Bay and screenwriters Ehren Kruger, Roberto Orci, and Alex Kurtzman love robots (wait, it took three of you to write this movie?). What isn’t obvious is if they give two shits about Transformers, or their fans.

Once again we’re given a plot which has more to do with Sam (Shia LaBeouf) learning a life-lesson and Megan Fox looking hot than Autobots or Decepticons. In fact the Decepticons aren’t even the big baddie here, it’s the Fallen. What is the Fallen? Well, you see, he’s one of a race of seven Primes, ancient Transformer brothers… (the sound you just heard was me dying a little inside).

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I’ve got a “Proposal” for you

by Alan Rapp on June 19, 2009

in Movie Reviews 

  • Title: The Proposal
  • IMDB: link

The ProposalRomantic comedies can scare critics away quicker than a mob racing out of a burning building. It’s hard to warm up to a genre that’s let you down so often, and so consistently. So settling down to watch The Proposal all I really was hoping for was to make it out of the theater with my sanity intact.

Here’s the thing, aside from the contrived device used to get the film’s stars together (and a few best-forgotten groan-worthy scenes), the film actually works better than I expected. It’s not great by any stretch of the imagination, but for the genre it’s above average.

Sandra Bullock stars as Margaret Tate, a bitchy cutthroat book editor who is feared by all. Her assistant, Andrew (Ryan Reynolds), sums up her character best as someone who is allergic to “pinenuts and the full spectrum of human emotion.” When Margaret is faced with being deported and losing her job she decides to blackmail Andrew, whose career track is tied to her success, into marrying her. The newly engaged couple take a trip to Andrew’s hometown to learn about each other and prepare for a quicky wedding. And so the shenanigans begin.

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Easy Virtue

by Alan Rapp on June 19, 2009

in Movie Reviews 

  • Title: Easy Virtue
  • IMDB: link

easy-virtue-posterWhen you stop and think about it, it’s amazing any movie ever actually gets made. Many films flounder through the maze of casting issues, constant rewrites, shooting problems, and budgetary constraints. A finished film, even an awful one, is something of a miracle. If you don’t believe me check out Terry Gilliam’s Lost in La Macha which chronilces just how far a film can go off course when the gods are against you.

Easy Virtue isn’t a great film. It just didn’t navigate those treacherous waters with enough skill. Despite several pieces which work well, and a definite style, it’s a deeply flawed film. Much, though certainly not all, of its troubles can be laid at the feet of its young stars.

The film stars Jessica Biel as Laritta, a poor American race-car driver who marries young British aristocrat John (Ben Barnes) for love. What follows is something of a farcical Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner (with snobby class warfare replacing racial tension) as John and Laritta travel to England to introduce his family meet his new bride.

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Leverage – The 1st Season

by Alan Rapp on June 15, 2009

in DVD Reviews 

  • Title: Leverage – The First Season
  • tv.com: link

leverage-season-one-dvdGrifter. Hacker. Hitter. Thief. Four thieves agree to work under direction of an honest man helping those who can’t help themselves. As the show’s tagline states “sometimes the bad guys make the best good guys.”

Insurance investigator Nate Ford (Timothy Hutton) and four thieves are brought together by an unscrupulous executive (Saul Rubinek) who planned to use them for his own ends. After turning the tables and completing their mission, the team begin to work together as modern day Robin Hoods by going after those who have been taken advantage of by the system and those in power.

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  • Title: Leverage
  • tv.com: link

Season Two of Leverage is set to begin tomorrow night. The show centers around a team of thieves and con artists (Timothy Hutton, Gina Bellman, Christian Kane, Beth Riesgraf, Aldis Hodge) who use their unique talents to help those who have been taken advantage of by the system. If you, like me, missed the first season (seriously, I don’t even remember hearing about this show last year) here’s a quick recap to get you up to speed. The first episode of the second season, “The Beantown Bailout Job,” airs Wednesday night at 9/8c on TNT.

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The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3

by Alan Rapp on June 12, 2009

in Movie Reviews 

  • Title: The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3
  • IMDB: link

taking-of-pelham-123-posterAs a director Tony Scott is a bit hit (Domino, Spy Game) and miss (Deja Vu, Enemy of the State) for my tastes. His latest, The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3, is not the first movie to be adapted from the novel by Morton Freedgood, but does showcase Scott’s trademark style.

I had planned to sit down and watch the original before hitting the screening for the new remake, but couldn’t quite find the time. So I can’t tell you how the film measures up to 1974 film with Walter Matthau. What I can tell you is the film delivers your basic “Die Hard in a subway” scenario, with smart crooks, mostly dumb cops, and a twist or two as well.

Our protagonist this time isn’t a hero. He isn’t John McClane in the wrong place at the wrong time. Denzel Washington stars as Walter Garber, a lifer in the subway bureaucracy who has been demoted pending the outcome of an investigation into his ethics. That puts the unlucky Walter at the dispatch desk when the call comes in that terrorists have taken control of a subway car with 19 hostages and are demanding $10,000,000 which must be delivered in one hour.

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  • Title: Batman: The Brave and the Bold – Legends of the Dark Mite
  • tv.com: link

Catman and Calendar Man, plus Bat-Mite? Oh yeah! Not to mention Mr. Zero, Kite-Man, Gorilla Grodd, Solomon Grundy, Tweedledee and Tweedledum, Ace the Bat-Hound, Mr. Polka-Dot, Killer Moth, Tiger Shark, and a Fifth-Dimesion Comic-Con panel. Paul Dini gives us “Legends of the Dark Mite,” the best episode of Batman: The Brave and the Bold yet, which even includes a nice nod to the intro for Batman: The Animated Series and the use of one of the ‘buddha offices favorite phrases “Awesomesauce.” In this clip Bat-Mite’s imagination gets the better of him as more and more of Batman’s rogues gallery appears. You can check out the full episode here.

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Land of the Lost

by Alan Rapp on June 5, 2009

in Movie Reviews 

  • Title: Land of the Lost
  • IMDB: link

land-of-the-lost-posterWhy? That’s the question that kept reverberating through my mind as I watched this big-budget feature based off of, let’s be brutally honest here, a pretty cheap Saturday morning TV show that hasn’t exactly aged all that well.

Don’t get me wrong, I spent some time as a kid watching Land of the Lost on Saturday mornings, and I have a warm spot in my heart for the Sleestak and the theme song. But I sure wasn’t demanding a feature based on the show, and this trainwreck of a film is exactly why.

In the original series, a family finds itself sucked through a portal into the land of the lost, a weird alternate world featuring dinosaurs, furry cavemen called Pakuni, and the villainous reptile men known as the Sleestak. In the new version, Will Ferrell, in the Hollywood tradition of Denise Richards as a nuclear physicist or Tara Reid as an archeologist, plays brilliant paleontologist Dr. Rick Marshall. I’ll give you a second to digest that. Take all the time you need.

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  • Title: My Life in Ruins
  • IMDB: link

Aside from the beautiful scenery, and a few nice moments from Richard Drefus (who’s really slumming it here), there’s very little to separate My Life in Ruins from any number of braindead romatic comedies. Here’s one of those films where a character notices the love of her life under her nose, finds meaning in her demeaning job, and everything ends happily ever after for everyone (except the audience).

When the film isn’t throwing out contrived plot points like candy, and simply allows the actors to give some actual weight to their characters, there are slight glimmers at what this film could have been. Sadly, these moments are few and far between.

Nia Vardolas stars as Georgia, a disgruntled travel guide. She hates her job, she hates the people she works with, she hates her rundown tour bus, and she hates her tourists who are a collection of cliches you are much more likely to find in a movie like this than on an actual tour bus.

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Up

by Alan Rapp on June 1, 2009

in Movie Reviews 

  • Title: Up
  • IMDB: link

up-posterPixar’s latest, Up, tells the story of a grump old widower (Ed Asner) befriended by a young kid (Jordan Nagai) who sets off on a wild adventure.

What could easily have been a paint-by-numbers tale is given the Pixar treatment. This isn’t Gran Torino; it’s so much more. In fact it’s arguably the most grown-up story the company has done, and quite possibly the best flick Pixar has ever made.

The film begins by giving us a brief history of Carl Fredricksen (Asner). Rather than simply giving us a grumpy old man the plot takes the time to let us get to know him and see how he became the person he is as the main story begins. This may seem like a small thing, and some may find it too much backstory, but it’s just one example of how Pixar goes the extra mile in terms of character, animation, and story. Could the movie still work without these scenes? Yes. Would it be as good a movie? No.

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