Sunday, August 29, 2010

Capsule Reviews

The Tooth Fairy - C+

There's a charming movie in here somewhere. The Rock plays a has been hockey player dealing with the issues of dating a single mother, while trying to decide his future and overcome his past. Now, imagine he also must learn how to be the Tooth Fairy. Which part of the story sounds like it doesn't belong?

Oscar Potential: Zero.

Legion - C

Mankind is on the brink of being wiped of the earth and only a guardian angel can save it...from God? Yes, God is the bad guy apparently. So, it's an action thriller remake of the Travolta comedy bomb Two of a Kind, I guess. There's some really creepy moments, mostly at the beginning. The rest is just sort of blah.

Oscar potential - Zero.

Edge of Darkness - C+

Mel Gibson is a detective who's daughter is murdered in front of him. The investigation leads to a convoluted conspiracy involving an evil corporation and government dirty dealing. All the plot takes away from the pain of a father losing his child. Gibson is good, even if his Boston accent wavers frequently.

Oscar potential: Zero.

When in Rome - B-

Charming, sweet romantic comedy that benefits greatly from a strong supporting cast of Danny DeVito, Will Arnett, Angelica Houston and Jon Heder. However, I was greatly distracted by the actor playing Kristin Bell's assistant. I knew I recognized him from somewhere. Couldn't figure out what movie I knew him from. Turns out, I actually know the guy from local theater productions of Fiddler on the Roof and, my all time favorite theater experience, Floyd Collins. Congrats, Brian Golub.

Oscar potential: Golub deserves supporting actor consideration, but I'm a tad biased.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Capsule Reviews

Extraordinary Measures - C-

It's really hard to bash a movie like this. A true story about a father battling a pharmaceutical company, that he also works for, in a race to save his child's life. Despite Brendan Fraser's limitations as an actor, there aren't too many around his age who play loving fathers like he does. Harrison Ford doesn't usually play the scientist type, but he's effective enough. To be honest, I slept through the entire second act of the film. Didn't feel like I'd missed a thing. Seriously, I can't imagine what went on in between. It's odd, but I would suggest taking a nap as well.

Oscar Potential: Zero.

The Spy Next Door - B-

Deciding whether or not you will like this entertaining little movie depends greatly on how entertaining you think Jackie Chan is. It's rare when I don't. His acrobatics are still pretty amazing and the opening credits are practically his greatest hits. He's actually pretty believable as both the spy and the nerd he pretends to be. Not to mention a rare chance to show off his singing voice. Slightly less predictable than you'd expect, but just slightly.

Oscar Potential: That's pretty funny to type.

Clash of the Titans - B

Forget the original. Seriously, you'll enjoy this one more if you block it out of your mind. There are some story changes with the remake that make almost no sense and, in some cases, ruin the fun. Now that I'm writing this, more pop into my head. Hence, why judging it on its own merits is important. The Zeus/Hades storyline is the least effective change. That said, it's solid fun, from start to finish. Although, I would say that if the Kraken were created by the Gods, it would look more like the one in the originals, not like Cloverfield.

Oscar Potential: Visual Effects. That's all.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Eric Bird Capsule Reviews

Leap Year - F

It's supposed to be a romantic comedy. The film's main issue is that it's neither funny nor romantic. What's worse is that it could've easily been both if it weren't for the motivations behind the two leads. Amy Adams' character is colossally stupid (going to Ireland to propose to a rich guy who had no intention of proposing to her) and Matthew Goode, whose original motivation is money, stays with a girl he has no reason to like and, in reality, probably cost him far more money than he needed. And what on earth is John Lithgow doing in this movie?

Oscar Potential: Zero.

The Book of Eli - B-

Call it the result of low expectations, but I enjoyed this film. Denzel Washington is a man motivated solely by his faith. Usually in modern movies, this character would be the bad guy, so it's refreshing. There is a wholly unnecessary and unbelievable twist at the end, which is intended to show the extent of Eli's faith, but mainly succeeded in making me cry "bullish*t!" But it's a solid movie from the Hughes Brothers and rarely dull.

Oscar Potential: Zero.

Youth in Revolt - B

Gee. Michael Cera in a movie about an awkward teenager. Haven't seen enough of those. It's a shame he's played this character so often in a short time because, outside of Juno, this is the best one. And Cera has a terrific supporting cast to work with Zack Galifianikis, Jean Smart, Ray Liotta, M. Emmet Walsh, Fred Willard, Justin Long and a terrific, against-type turn by Michael Cera (see the movie and you'll see that wasn't a mistake on my part.) The film is sometimes too quirky for its own good and never laugh out loud funny, but very watchable.

Oscar Potential: Zero.

Valentine's Day - B

Although it fails to be the American Love Actually it desperately tries to be, it does have some very funny moments and story twists you don't see coming, which is refreshing for a romantic comedy these days. A few story lines too many. Some that don't get fleshed out nearly enough. Some that drag way too long. Some funny play on the celebrity of its mammoth star cast (Taylor Lautner, of all people, has the funniest self-referential joke). If you watch the DVD, check out the deleted scenes. Some very funny cameos (Dwight Howard and Penny Marshall, especially) that landed on the cutting room floor.

Oscar Potential: Zero.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Martin Scorsese Film Festival

Part 8: Boxcar Bertha

Well, if there's one positive thing to say about this film, besides a frequently naked Barbara Hershey in her early 20s, is that it drove Scorsese to make a more personal film, Mean Streets. Another positive is that it's probably a reminder to Scorsese what happens when he's not really in charge. You could not tell this was a Scorsese movie unless someone told you. It looks, feels and sounds like a B movie, or more to the point, a Roger Corman movie, which it is. As far as the "Scorsese" aspects, it's impossible to judge since they aren't here.

One film left to see in the Scorsese Canon. One I'd avoided seeing, not because of any religious beliefs (I'm Catholic and so is Scorsese) but because it just sounded dull. Now that I'm more than accustomed to the Scorsese style, I'm looking forward to it. Next up.... The Last Temptation of Christ.