December 2009

  • Title: It’s Complicated
  • IMDB: link

Not everything released around Christmas is Oscar-worthy. Now, It’s Complicated certainly has some talent. Meryl Streep collects awards like I do comics, and Alec Baldwin (as I have often said before) just reading a phone book can be funnier than almost everyone else on the planet.

This new rom-com from writer/director Nancy Meyers (The Holidaywhich I liked, What Women Want – which I didn’t) is exactly what you’d expect going in. Thankfully there’s enough humor that guys won’t have to struggle too much when they’re dragged by their better halves to see this over the holiday weekend.

Love the second time around is a complicated business, or so the film tells us. Divorced for ten years, emotions resurface for Jane (Meryl Streep) and Jake (Alec Baldwin) while attending their son’s (Hunter Parrish) college graduation.

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Sherlock Holmes

by Ian T. McFarland on December 25, 2009

in Movie Reviews 

  • Title: Sherlock Holmes
  • IMDB: link


Everyone’s been making a fuss about the new Sherlock Holmes movie, from Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels English Crime filmmaker Guy Ritchie, and how it’s suposed to be a different animal from the Sir Arthur Conan Doyle detective stories that are ingrained in Pop Culture. Many have worried it would be all flash and dazzle, a fear that wouldn’t be totally unjustified considering the quick-cut editing and matter-of-factness dialogue that Ritchie’s filmography has been host to. But now that it’s out, it turns out we have nothing to worry about – well, almost nothing.

The Sherlock Holmes we’ve come to know is the one with that ridiculous deerstalker hat, perpetually starring through a magnifying glass and walking alongside an amusingly obese Watson. While it’s always more entertaining to see a jolly fat man in the movies than Holmes‘ version – the slim but adept (and to be fair, pretty strong in his own right) Watson presented in this latest movie, played by Jude Law, is just one example that proves the changes made in Ritchie’s Holmes work pretty well.

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The Young Victoria

by Alan Rapp on December 25, 2009

in Movie Reviews 

  • Title: The Young Victoria
  • IMDB: link

The Young Victoria is a solid effort from screenwriter Julian Fellows (Gosford Park, Vanity Fair).

Emily Blunt proves capable of capturing a young woman on the verge of controlling an empire and struggling with advisers, her mother’s power-hungry lover (Mark Stong), and her own ideas for her country’s future.

And yet, something is missing.

Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed The Young Victoria. The sets, cinematography, acting, costumes, all demonstrate talent and a keen eye for the period.

Maybe I’ve just seen too many of these paint-by-number historical dramas, or perhaps this film does too little to distinguish itself from all the others.

The film is an attempt to show Victoria (Blunt) blossoming into womanhood, her rise to power, her early years as Queen, and her romance with Prince Albert (Rupert Friend). And it does exactly that, and nothing more.

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Up, WAY UP, In the Air

by Alan Rapp on December 18, 2009

in Movie Reviews 

  • Title: Up in the Air
  • IMDB: link

Every couple of years it seems director Jason Reitman is putting out a movie that ends up on my best of the year list. Oh wait, that’s exactly what he’s been doing.

Starting in 2005 with Thank You for Smoking followed by 2007′s Juno, Reitman has quickly made a name for himself creating smart, funny, off-beat, award-winning films with heart, wit, and a little bit of sass.

Another two years have gone by, and Reitman returns once again with tale of a salesman. In Thank You for Smoking Aaron Eckhart made smoking not only palatable, but patriotic.

Here Reitman casts George Clooney as a termination specialist, a man who is selling unemployment – with a smile. And as he did with Eckhart, Reitman allows the man’s natural charm and the wit of the script to soften the hard edges of what it is he’s selling. If you’ve never believed a movie about firing people could be this entertaining, you’re about to be proven very wrong.

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The Princess and the Frog

by Alan Rapp on December 11, 2009

in Movie Reviews 

  • Title: The Princess and the Frog
  • IMDB: link

It’s been awhile. For more than a decade Disney has been, well, very un-Disney. In many ways, with the latest animated feature, the company returns to the roots. We’ve got a classic tale, a princess (of sorts), talking animals, big musical numbers, true love triumphant, a wicked villain, and a curse.

The Princess and the Frog, Disney’s 49th animated feature film, might not be in the same class as Sleeping Beauty or Snow White, but for the first time in a long time the studio has released a movie that feels like a Disney film (and not an animated feature that any studio could have produced).

That’s not to say the movie doesn’t have its warts. The Princess and the Frog is at least 15 minutes too long, the story meanders a bit in places, and the animation isn’t as crisp as I’d like. That said, over the course of the film you can feel (at least in places) the old-time magic being re-awoken. In many ways through the process of making this film it feels as if the studio is slowly rediscovering itself.

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Invictus

by Alan Rapp on December 11, 2009

in Movie Reviews 

  • Title: Invictus
  • IMDB: link

Invictus is a project Morgan Freeman has been trying to get off the ground for more than a decade. Although I think it’s a quality film, and the story is definitely worth telling, I can certainly see why it took this long for the film to get made. It feels at least one more rewrite away (the script was adapted from John Carlin‘s book by Anthony Peckham) from cashing in on its full potential.

Invictus centers around an event, the 1995 Rugby World Cup. The focus is split between that of the newly elected President Nelson Mandela (Freeman) and the captain (Matt Damon) of the South African Rugby team, the Springbok.

The film certainly captures the importance of the event and what it meant to a new South Africa coming out of the days of apartheid. It also succeeds in demonstrating the change in attitude of the South African people to the team, and effectively spotlights how sports can truly unify people in a very unique way.

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The “best” bad movie of 2009

by Alan Rapp on December 8, 2009

in DVD Reviews 

  • Title: Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li
  • IMDB: link

street-fighter-the-legend-of-chun-li-posterThere are bad movies, there are awfully bad movies, and then there are movies so ridiculously bad they force you to bellow with laughter and titter with glee as they instantly earn guilty pleasure status.

Street Figther: The Legend of Chun-Li isn’t a good movie, let’s get that straight. It is however a enjoyable trainwreck and one of the most unintentionally funny films I’ve ever seen.

Based on the Street Fighter video game character Chun-Li, the film tells the story of a young girl who grew up to be world renown concert pianist. The sudden arrival of mysterious scroll coinciding with the death of her mother leads her to Bangkok. There she will learn the art of Wushu to kick ass and save her father from Bison (Neal McDonough) and the terrorist organization called Shadaloo who controls him through threats of harm against his family. (You follow all that?) Not exactly Shakespeare, but as action scripts go I’ve seen worse.

All movies rely on the audience’s level of disbelief, often asking the audience to accept some downright dumb ideas. Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li asks more than most.

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Batman Dynamic Double Team

by Alan Rapp on December 1, 2009

in Gaming News & Reviews 

The game play isn’t much to talk about (your basic punch, kick, ‘n jump side-scroller), but I do like how the art of the Batman: Brave and the Bold TV-show is used here. If it only included more characters from the show!

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