Day Seventy-Three – Even More New Releases

14 03 2010

These movies came out well after the date that their reviews have been posted, but that’ll give you an idea of how behind I am. Anyway, here are three more reviews.

Hot Tub Time Machine

Movie titles seem to be getting a lot less creative lately, but I’m completely okay with that if the movie transcends the title. Use the title to sell the concept and the film to build character. ‘Hot Tub Time Machine’ doesn’t do much of either. Instead of going somewhere unexpected with the comedy, it’s always the most obvious gag possible. Poo, barf and piss are supporting cast to the F-word. The characters take a backseat to hit and miss jokes. It just feels like it never really gets going.

Rating: 40 (2 Stars)

The Princess and the Frog

Though it doesn’t quite re-capture the magic of the hand-drawn Disney animated classics, ‘The Princess and the Frog’ is a step in the right direction. The twist on the classic story fits well enough and all the expected archetypes are there. Though it’s a staple of any Disney classic, the songs get quite tedious to sit through. None were really memorable as they skipped from one to another. The resolution feels tacked on as Tiana changes her feelings for no other reason than to wrap things up.

Rating: 65 (3 Stars)

Date Night

‘Date Night’ isn’t much of a plot-driven thriller. It doesn’t surprise you much. It’s the typical formula of crooked cops and mistaken identity. The main characters are two unlikely, but believable heroes. They’re the every-couple. When things go south, they react as anyone would, but with the wit and charisma you would expect from the Fey and Carrell. The laughs are well earned as the Fosters react completely in character, even with the short first act to get you familiar with their mannerisms.

Rating: 80 (4 Stars)

I know, Date Night doesn’t come out for at least month after this post claims to be posted. Forgive me and we’ll have some fun. Taking a break from the movie reviews and moving on to some grub reviews! Are you with me? Well, too bad. I’m doing it anyway.


Day Seventy – Some Reviews to Catch Up

11 03 2010

I’m writing this a month behind schedule, so I’m going to use some of my writing from one of my favorite social networking sites, Criticker, to help fill in the gaps.

Not Quite Hollywood: The Wild, Untold Story of Ozploitation!

I liked the idea of ‘Not Quite Hollywood’. When I read the synopsis. It promised an examination of Ozploitation films and the folks who made them. Instead, you get a lot of “remember when”. They insist we should love their work, yet barely explain, let alone examine, why these movies were made or successful at all. They do a little, but not enough to justify the love they share over the films. I wasn’t around for these flicks, so the nostalgia was completely lost on me and this doc hinges on it.

Rating: 65 (3 Stars)

Wonder Woman

“My name is Zeus and I am the king among gods. Ares, my son, is the god of war. We must fight because we disagree.” That’s not verbatim from ‘Wonder Woman’, but it may as well be. I was rolling my eyes so much during this flick that my eyelids started to hurt. So many exposition dumps. Why tell each other so much information you already know? “You and I are sisters, Athena.” Would you not punch that person? I wish I could. When the plot picks up, it recovers, but not enough to save the film.

Rating: 40 (2 Stars)

Shutter Island

Is it okay to bore you to tears if your ending is good enough? That’s the question that ‘Shutter Island’ had me pondering once I left the movie. This film benefits like no other by watching it in the theater. Unlike at home, you’re captive and forced to see it through. Once you do, the ending almost makes the torturous first hour and some worth it. All the non-sense – explained away in one long expository scene. It had me thinking once I left, but had me steaming when I was left out of the loop.

Rating: 60 (3 Stars)

This is only the beginning. I have a lot of catching up to do and I’ve been writing a lot of reviews of not only movies, but restaurants, stores and books. Stay tuned for all that fun.

Day Fourty-Four – Late Movie Reviews

13 02 2010

If you’re reading this, you clearly know that it has been posted late. I’m going to cop out and post even more reviews for films I’ve seen recently below to catch up.

Funny enough, I gave them all the same ranking for very different reasons.

Youth in Revolt

Just like Nick Twisp, ‘Youth in Revolt’ has a split-personality. A great movie is trying to break free, but it’s interuppted by scenes aching to be quirky. Cartoon driving segments rip you right out of the story. It’s better when it doesn’t hold back on the harsh. Nick Twisp’s alter-ego, Francois Dillinger, is a total and utter jerk. Yet, he’s easily the best part of the movie, but that only takes up 20% of it or so. The rest of the film is spent waiting for Francois to make another appearance.

Rating: 70 (3.5 Stars)

The Book of Eli

Not until seeing ‘The Book of Eli’ have I seen a movie’s ending render almost everything that happened beforehand completely irrelevant. Though ‘Vanilla Sky’ is another example, ‘Eli’ does so without seeming to realize it. It’s upsetting, because the film ‘Eli’ wanted to be was great. It really evoked a sense of a world sent back to the Wild West. Questions raised about religion and belief make an interesting debate, until the ending deems it all irrelevant. What a turn south for this flick.

Rating: 70 (3.5 Stars)


‘Outrage’ is one of those weird examples of how a film can get less entertaining by making your case too well. Everything Kirby Dick has to say in this film is completely valid, and he does so with some overwhelming proof. The only problem is, as a documentary, there is only so much to say about the topic and too much time to do it. It ends up repeating itself, not bringing up any new arguments, just making the same ones over and over. The topic is interesting and the doc is slick, but too long.

Rating: 70 (3.5 Stars)

As always, if you haven’t joined Criticker yet, do so as my Kumpel by clicking the link below.

I’m going to try to stay on time, getting posts done ahead of time. It’s all part of the learning process. We’ll see what happens when my free time dries up even further.

Wish me luck.

Day Fourty-Three – Critics Have a Place in the Business

12 02 2010

I was visiting the Rotten Tomatoes message boards, which happen to be like a barren wasteland of outdated posts, spam and advice for burning bootleg DVDs, when I ran into something disturbing.

In the critics’ forum, someone felt to post that critics are irrelevant, but it the most confusing way possible.

Read below:

“Why do most film critics act like they actualy know what they are talking about?… when movies are all about art and art cannot be viewed from an objective point of view. I personaly think they are frustrated and vent their frustration through this because thay can’t actualy do something with thier lives and bash movies cause it makes them feel like they actualy know something.”

Out of that entire run on sentence, there may be one valid point. If films are considered art, they cannot, nor should not, be viewed objectively.

Film critics are at their best when they find hidden gems that wouldn't get attention in a world where 'Transformers 2' is considered good film-making.

However, film critics never view films with objectivity in mind. If that were the case, Rotten Tomatoes would have scores of 100% and 0% only. Subjectivity within film criticism is exactly what makes it relevant. Whether you agree with me, Roger Ebert or Michael Phillips is irrelevant. We all take something different out of the movie, and that’s what makes the film art in itself.

I think people are worried about the power that critics used to have in the newspaper era. If Roger Ebert gave a film a thumbs down, that could hurt the box office. Nowadays, it’s Twitter and Rotten Tomatoes that decide the fate of films. It has become much more of a democratic system and some don’t see the use of the film critic any longer.

That concept worries me. The film critic isn’t there primarily to scare you away from films. Most would agree that they hate giving films a score, but need it in order to draw readers. The job of a film critic is share their interpretation of the film, leaving it up for discussion as you would any other art form.

When film critics are at their best, they are able to lift a film from the ground floor. By listening to suggestions from various critics, I have seen some of the best films that the overwhelming majority hasn’t even heard of. The Smashing Machine was suggested by Chris Gore and I now share that find with anyone who will lend their ear. Nearly every film critic was urging people to go see The Hurt Locker, which I’m happy I saw in theatres, since watching it at home would have provided an entirely different experience.

In the end, film critics have their place in the industry. They don’t force their opinions on anyone. They are readily available, but can’t stop anyone from seeing Transformers 2 and it’s ilk. That’s no mystery.