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Archive for March, 2013|Monthly archive page

The Croods gets Angsty

In Movies on March 28, 2013 at 5:24 pm

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What’s worse then being the man of the house and having to put up with a whiny teenage daughter who is suddenly interested in the opposite sex? Being a cave-man and the man that your daughter is interested in is a semi-intelligent cro-magnum, makes things extremely difficult, because not only are you upset because you’re no longer number 1, but this teenager is smarter then you.

“The Croods” is an animated prehistoric film intertwined with John Hughes angst. Eep, voiced by Emma Stone, is a teenage girl who doesn’t want to spend her life sitting in a cave and listening to what her father Grug, voiced by the one and only Nic Cage, tells her is and is not safe. She wants to explore, be a teenager, and evolve. Things change when she encounters Guy, voiced by Ryan Reynolds, who shares Eeep’s love of exploration and living. Things change drastically when the continents begin to break apart and the Croods must work together to get on the better side of this fracture. With Ugga, voice by Catherine Keener, Gran, voiced by Cloris Leachman, and Thunk, voiced by Clark Dunk, in tow, Grug, Eep, and Guy set off to fly above the clouds, to tomorrow.

This is a movie made for all ages, there are some adult jokes in there, like Grug’s wishes for his mother-in-law to die, or Eep’s scream of joy when she is given the fist pair of shoes. But there are also some hilarious parts for children as well, like when Grug gets slapped around by a bunch of monkeys and when Thunk makes his pet roll off a large cliff, accidentally of course. There are also some very emotional/dark scenes as well, reminiscent of “Toy Story 3” that may upset some younger children but luckily those scenes are few and far between.

Nicolas Cage should absolutely lend his voice to animation more often. He was great as the protective father with a soft spot. The scene where he believes that he can create ideas, is hilarious and was made a lot better due to Nicolas Cage’s voice.

Ryan Reynolds was also great and I believe that he should stick to animation as well, and luckily for us he is. “Turbo” is coming out July 17th and stars Ryan Reynolds as a snail who becomes super fast and wants to compete in the Indy 500. I thought he was excellent in this movie and I felt like I could actually see bits of Ryan Reynolds within the character. I’m not sure if they did any facial mapping for his character but his expressions were spot on, appearing to match the body language of his character.

Emma Stone was fairly decent in this film. I say that because I feel like she was worth mentioning but there wasn’t anything that really stood out to me about her character. I liked her in this but I felt like she could have been replaced and i wouldn’t have known the difference.

This was a great kids movie and if you’re looking for something to see while your child has spring break, then look no further. Check out “The Croods”, it will make you laugh, cry, and respect Nicolas Cage a lot more then you already probably do.

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Stoker was Electra(fying)

In Movies on March 24, 2013 at 5:47 pm

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Well it sort of was…. “Stoker” is Chan-wook Park’s first American film starring Mia Wasikowska, what a mouthful, Nicole Kidman, Matthew Goode, Ozymandias!, and Dermot Mulroney. Mia played India Stoker whose father passed away and is struggling to come to terms with it when her uncle Charlie, Goode, comes to stay with her mother Evelyn, Kidman, to help ease the pain. Nothing is what it seems however, when India and Charlie become closer then familial relations may allow, much to the dismay of India’s mother.

That synopsis made the movie seem kind of soap-opera esque, didn’t it? Well after watching it, it kind of is a soap opera, except with blood, sex, and insects. And I have to say I did enjoy it, but this movie does not hold a torch to “Oldboy” and it also left me feeling unusual and unfulfilled. But there are excellent parts contained within this film.

The sound editing and cinematography are excellent. At the start of this film, the audience witnesses these chilling scenes that are extremely beautiful  Those scenes appeared to be more then just a film, but rather a collection of photographs. They also leave the audience craving a bit more because only so much is shown. The music for this film was unnerving in how great it was.Every piece within this film, made you feel exactly how you were supposed to feel, unnerved, hopeful, scared, etc. It was very well organized, to such an extent that you felt as if you were being toyed with.

Mia Wasikowa was good int his film, however, she didn’t have many lines and, I felt, because of this she wasn’t able to bring a lot to the film. Oh did I mention that the script for this film was written by “Prison Break” star Wentworth Miller? Oh I didn’t? Well he wrote this provocative and   subtle script so well that he may have been involved with a story similar to India’s at some point in his life.

Matthew Goode was creepy in this film and I believe perfect for this role. His smile appears to only show so much, as if he is hiding many many secrets, spoiler, he is. His lines and the actions he takes within this film were delivered as they should have been, robotically and unemotionally. There are several scenes in this film when Goode is doing some very naughty things and he doesn’t appear affected by it. Not. One. Bit.

I had a difficult time understanding Kidman as well as her character. She was ambiguous but not in a good sense, as India was, rather I had no idea what her motives were. She seemed to vacillate from one extreme to the other, and because of it she was difficult to follow. I blame her character because I felt that not enough time was spent on developing her. The audience was supposed to hate her, it appeared that way at least, but when it was finally revealed why the audience should hate her, she had already changed, so hate was no longer an option. Confusing, isn’t it? I think her character didn’t benefit from this confusion, but suffered for it.

The parts of this movie do not make the sum of it great. There were two particular scenes in this film, that I will discuss in a bit, that made me feel uneasy and used. Like I spent my money, believing I was going to see another “Oldboy” and sadly I did not. My personal opinion, wait until this movie comes to Netflix or Redbox before seeing it and save your money.

Spoilers Ahead, Beware!

 

 

The first scene that bothered me was when India’s mother realized that Charlie killed her husband and then tried to seduce him in order to save her daughter. How was that going to work exactly? He would decide that because she was so good in bed, he wouldn’t kill her? And what about the fact that she was an extremely selfish character who didn’t really mourn the loss of her husband and yet the audience is supposed to believe that she is sacrificing herself to save India? He would have just killed her and left. I know she isn’t a stupid character, so why make her attempt such unusual behavior. 

Why oh why, did India kill the cop in the end? I understand why she killed Whip and Charlie, but why the cop. My girlfriend thought it may have been due to the fact that she wanted to kill him because he had suspicions about her and her family, but really killing a cop isn’t going to dispel any suspicions. It will just make more! Alright, maybe I am being a bit too nit picky with this film, and I hate when others do that, but I didn’t have to suspend my disbelief for any other parts of this film except the ending. A lot of it made logical sense, except for India’s mother. So why did she kill the cop? It really just bothered me. 

Simon Baker Bakes and Guards

In Television on March 21, 2013 at 10:27 pm

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Pretty awful title? Sure is! Do I really care? Nope. Does Simon Baker playing Nick Fallin look like he cares? Nope! He’s looking to the next child that needs his protectin’. And that child is one lucky mamajama.

In all seriousness, I found this show after buying a new television because I threw the old one out the window after attempting to watch “Scandal” and I was pleasantly surprised. I was looking for a mystery/drama show that wasn’t as long as all the BBC shows are and as wasn’t as predictable as “C.S.I.” or “Law and Order”. And this show is anything but that.

Simon Baker plays Nick Fallin, a Fallin angel is you will, who has to serve 1500 hours of community service at Child Legal Services for doing a ton of drugs. Fallin doesn’t flinch though and begins working alongside Alvin Masterson, played by Alan Rosenberg, and James Mooney, played by Charles Malik Whitfield, while also holding his corporationy job at Fallin and Associates which is run by his father Burton played by Dabney Coleman, who aged horribly and I could hardly recognize him as the Commodore for “Boardwalk Empire”.

The pilot begins with Fallin meeting his first client, a young boy who witnessed the killing of his mother by his father. After receiving this news, Fallin is visibly shaking, possibly alluding to something he may have witnessed in his childhood perhaps? I don’t know I’m only on episode 5. But Fallin looks into the case a bit more and finds that the father might not be responsible and his corporationy law office may be able to represent the boy in a potentila million dollar case. This becomes the back story throughout the season and the audience receives some updates on the case as it continues, meanwhile Fallin continues working with his clientele at Children Legal Services. Oh did I mention that this show takes place in Pittsburgh, a city that is on a pretty steady downwards trend from awesome steel producing capital? No? Well it is.

This allows the show to get a bit dark, drugs and race are brought up quite a lot, without getting too dark, imagine “The Wire” except on basic cable television. Now I know what you might be thinking? But “The Wire” was great and was even better with the cursing and the shooting and the boobs, but even without those, I truly believe that it would be a good show and I think “The Guardian” is a good example of that. It’s got a decent script, nothing mesmerizing about it, but it’s intelligent, throws a lot of jargon on you, and pushes you to keep up with it.

Simon Baker is also pretty good in this show, he hasn’t really flexed his acting muscles in any episodes I’ve seen yet, but I think he has potential. He’s got a decent script and a pretty good story line, he just needs to ride the emotional roller coaster a bit more.

Charles Malik Whitfield came out of nowhere, literally had no idea where or if I have seen this guy in any other show, and showed some serious acting mojo. He has a very good understanding of his character and appeared to truly embrace that story line of the boy from the hood who made it. He puts Fallin in his place and puts Fallin’s world into perspective. His character also intrigues me because I truly enjoy watching stories involving individuals who made it in order to help those who couldn’t. I like that story.

“The Guardian”, from the episodes I’ve seen, rarely has a happy ending. It would be completely unrealistic to expect a show about the legal system and foster care to have a happy ending every single episode, and this show definitely does not. I recently watched an episode where every single outcome for a child’s placement was bad. Literally, there was nothing that Fallin or anyone else could do to improve the life of this child. Should you be concerned that I like a show specifically for these reasons? Maybe, but not entirely.

“The Guardian” is on Netflix. Give it a watch if you want to catch something original for once. Oh yeah, just ignore the cheesy 90s music in the beginning.

So Tried Watching Scandal the Other Night….

In Television on March 19, 2013 at 10:47 pm

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And it sucked. Seriously this show right from the get-go tried way too hard. I got about 5 minutes into it before I tried to find another show on Netflix.

“Scandal” follows the story of Olivia Pope, played by Kerry Washington, who “manages” the Washington D.C. elite with the help of her staff consisting of Harrison Wright, played by Columbus Short, Abby Whelan, played by Darby Stanchfield, Quinn Perkins, played by Katie Lowes, Huck, played by Guillermo Diaz, and Stephen Finch, and Henry Ian Cusick, famous for saying “BROTHA!” on “Lost”. Despite this pretty excellent group of actors and what could be a solid story line, this show was over the top with it’s use of quick panning shots and Kerry Washington narration. It also seemed truly unoriginal, everyone says no to the case, Olivia Pope follows her gut and says yes. Never seen that before and in the end, the audience probably is shown that she was right all along, cue the sappy music. Oh give me a break.

This show just tried to stuff its unoriginal plot down my throat and it wasn’t at all graceful about it. If I were you, I would totally give this show a miss, unless you can stomach their moral code that they shove down your throat. 

 

 

VIKINGS RULE! AND NOT THE MINNESOTA ONES!

In Television on March 7, 2013 at 10:28 pm

I just finished the first episode of the new hit series, yes I will dub it a hit series, “Vikings” and by the raven of Odin, I was surprised by how good this show appears to be. First off, “Vikings” is being shown on the History Channel and being produced by MGM, unexpected? Totally! “Vikings” was created by Michael Hirst and stars Travis Fimmel, as Ragnar Lothbrok, what a name, also his imdb picture is a ridiculous juxtaposition to his character, as he decides to travel to the west, enlisting the help of Floki, played by Gustaf Skarsgard, to the world Vikings have not explored yet. Leaving his lusty sword wielding wife Lagertha, played by Kathryn Winnick, to travel abroad with his handsy brother Rollo played by Clive Standen. The ruler of Ragnar’s clan, seriously naming my kid Ragnar,  Earl Haraldson, played by Gabriel Bryne, is not too happy about this decision and sees Ragnar’s choice as a rebellion of sorts. 

That was the first episode in a nutshell and let me tell you, it was an extremely well written and well acted. Travis Fimmel, who is someone I haven never heard of until now, plays his character Ragnar as if he himself were planning on raiding America with a long boat and a sword. He just appears to be completely within his character and it shows in his mannerisms as well as the way in which he speaks.

Props to Kathryn Winnick who won me over in an episode of “House” in which she plays a rape victim and still continues to win me over in this show. She portrayed this strong Viking woman showing modern day females that chicks don’t need to be frail to be sexy, cough cough “Twilight” they can be strong and fight for themselves. This character will allow the audience to see that although men were strong withing Viking society, they aren’t always needed. 

The chemistry that is shown between Lagertha, what an awful name, and Ragnar was palpable, to such an extent that they appeared to be having conversations without even talking. If you have watched the first episode you will know what I am talking about.

Gabriel Byrne, who played Keaton in “The Usual Suspects” and Tom Reagan in “Miller’s Crossing” does an excellent job playing the power hungry leader. I liked the way he looked, acted, and sounded. He shows the effect his power has had upon him both good and bad, and the audience even gets a glimpse at some back story which I am very interested in learning about. 

Gustaf Skarsgard looks like a nut job and behaves like one too and deserves to be mentioned because of that. I’m pumped to see his character develop because he has that sort of unhinged but awesome feel about him, like Rorschach. 

Also, give it up to The History Channel for creating something that should belong on HBO or Showtime. Seriously, where did this come from? I guess Pawn Stars and Storage Wars can only get so many viewers. Notice I didn’t put those shows in quotes, I did that because I hate those shows and I hate The History Channel for showing them. But if they keep this up, depicting history in a narrative fictional manner, I will be all over that channel. And I mean, what’s wrong with that? If they keep this techniques up they could cover so many awesome time periods and attract one hell of an audience. Also, kudos to you for subtitling and then switching to English. I would have enjoyed subtitles throughout, but I understand why ya did it.

So watch this show. It’s unexpected because it’s The History Channel and it rocks because well it’s Vikings and they are awesome. It’s also gory and appears to have one hell of a story to drive it. 

I Can’t Believe It’s Not……..

In Movies on March 4, 2013 at 10:20 am

BUTTER! 

“Butter” directed by Jim Field Smith tells the story of Destiny, Yara Shahidi, who just recently moved in with her foster parents Jill, Alicia Silverstone, and Ethan, Rob Corddry. Destiny has been moved from one home to another, keeping her suitcase packed just in case she gets shipped off to another home, and feels suspicious of this crazy “cracker” household. Laura, Jennifer Garner, is married to the best butter sculptor in Iowa, Bob Pickler, Ty Burrell, and plans on using his notoriety to get him into the governor’s mansion. Brooke, Olivia Wilde, is a stripper who Bob has had a few flings with and now relies on his money to support her. All of these great characters come together, to compete in a butter sculpting competition in order to better themselves or bring down one another. 

This movie was unexpectantly entertaining and sweet. Yara Shahidi absolutely stole the show with her portrayal of Destiny. She plays this meek, modest, and smart young girl brilliantly. Her monologues were well written and insightful, offering, what I believe, the true thoughts of a young foster child who simply misses her mother.

Rob Corddry was surprisingly fantastic in this film, offering Destiny some advice that seemed to really come from a father. The back story for Jill and himself was heartbreaking and allowed his character to become so much more. He also benefited from some great lines, that he may have ad-libbed. 

Olivia Wilde also deserves mentioning because of how different this character appeared from the other roles that she had taken. She became an angry scorned stripper, who was going to walk in in her stilettos and and grind her cigarette into the floor. She wanted to be noticed and to make everyone in the room cringe, and she did just that.

I was disappointed in Ty Burell because I felt that he could have brought more to the table. I don’t know if this was due to him or a lackluster script but I felt like I was waiting for him to burst, like a butterfly from a cocoon, if you will, and stand up for himself. But, sadly, he never really does.

Jennifer Garner was fairly good in this movie, but I felt that she didn’t really flex any of her acting muscles she simply appeared to just be a stale reactive character.

 

All in all, this movie was a surprising hit for me. It was funny and sweet in all the right places without being too much of both. This movie is on Netflix, so if you’re streaming, give it a chance. You won’t regret it!