June 2009

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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