29 June 2012

Ted: Family Guy Live Action

Review is up at InsideStL.

28 June 2012

Brave & Madagascar 3 (Two-fer)

This past weekend, the Wife and I took our son, henceforth to be called the Kid, on his first movie going experience.  With him being only seven weeks old, we decided that a trip to the Skyview Drive-In over in Belleville made the most logical sense.  So, we packed up some snacks and drove across the river for a double feature: Brave and Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted.

First up, Pixar’s thirteenth feature length film Brave.  Brave tells the story of a Scottish princess, Merida (Kelly MacDonald), who is to be wed against her will to one of the other three tribes’ first born sons.  She decides to go against her mother, Elinor (Emma Thompson) and father Fergus (Billy Connolly), as she interferes at the games for her hand.  This puts the kingdom in an uproar.  Merida slips out of the castle into the woods, where she follows magical blue flames, or whisps.  They lead her to a witch that gives her a potion to change her mother’s mind.  Of course, this does not go according to plan, and Merida is left trying to unravel a riddle before time runs out.

Brave is a disappointing film from Pixar.  Had any other animation studio put this out, I would have thought it was better.  But this is Pixar.  The team behind Toy Story, Finding Nemo and Up.  Brave offered nothing new or exciting and was not up to snuff.  In the end, it boiled down to a weak villain and the mom turning into a bear.  Better luck next year, Pixar.
Next up, the third film in the Madagascar franchise.  I watched the first one a few years back, and was not impressed.  I did not bother with the second one Escape 2 Africa, but since I was at the drive-in, I stayed for part three, Europe’s Most Wanted.  I should have just gone home.

Madagascar 3 picks up where the part two left off, I assume.  The penguins and monkeys left for Monte Carlo on a reconstructed plane.  So, Alex (Ben Stiller), Marty (Chris Rock), Melman (David Schwimmer), Gloria (Jada Pinkett Smith), and company go to France to get them.  They find the penguins as they are winning lots of money at a casino.  After the extraction attempt goes haywire, an animal control officer (Frances McDormand) goes in pursuit of the group of escaped zoo animals.

After thirty minutes of random chase scenes, I have no idea what is going on, or the overall plot of the film.  My sister-in-law, her boyfriend, the Wife and I are just plain confused.  More and more random scenes and songs being covered and butchered by the cast, and finally, the animals meet up with a circus bound for America.  The circus animals are lead by a tiger names Vitaly (Bryan Cranston).  Also in the mix are a leopard Gis (Jessica Chastain) and Stefano (Martin Short) a seal.  I blinked, and the zoo animals bought the circus with the penguins casino money to ensure their trip home to New York.

I am not joking, this movie made little to no sense to me.  A lot of the other patrons got in their cars and left.  We stayed.  The Kind was asleep, and who wants to wake a sleeping 7 week old?  We suffered through the rest of the 93 minute film, only to be more confused by the ending.  If there is a fourth, I will be passing for sure.

As a whole, neither film was great.  Brave was a letdown, but way better than Madagascar 3.  Yet, I cannot stress to you how much fun it was to go to the drive-in.  If you have kids, take them.  It is cheap, and you can bring your own snacks and beverages.  Shows start at 9pm, get there early for a good spot.  It was sold out the night we went.  Here is a link to their website.  Again, I highly recommend taking your little ones, so they can experience a real drive-in movie theater.

BRAVE: 6/10

22 June 2012

Ghost Rider: Spirit of...Who Cares?

So, back in February, Sony did not screen Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance for critics.  After I saw it flop in theaters, I was glad that I did not spend my money or 95 minutes on it.  Yet, curiosity got the better of me.  My younger brother came to visit, and we wondered over to the local Redbox and gave it my $1.50, and rented the latest film from Neveldine/Taylor, the duo behind Crank.

All I really have to say is, 2007’s Ghost Rider was not a spectacular film, but it was not terrible.  Eager to prove that they could do worse, Neveldine/Talyor gave us a sequel devoid of everything but incredibly cool action shots.  Not action scenes, just action shots.  There were numerous videos and articles about how they directing duo were strapped into harnesses and jumped from various things and were attached to various riggings to get the shots.  They also held onto a motorcycle while wearing rollerblades.  So, those action shots did stand out.

Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance follows Johnny Blaze (Nic Cage) as he tries to save the spawn of Satan (Fergus Riordan) from being taken over by Roarke (Ciaran Hinds), the corporeal form of Satan.  In the meantime, Roarke has dispatched his minion Ray Carrigan (Johnny Whitworth) to capture the child and his mother Nadya (Violante Placido).  Working for the good, we have Moreau (Idris Elba) and a short lived cameo from Anthony Stewart Head, of Buffy, The Vampire Slayer fame.

On no level does Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance work.  The story is convoluted and simply terrible.  All three, yes three, writers should be ashamed of themselves.  The action scenes overall are dumb.  There is one whole scene of Moreau and Blaze doing motorcycle tricks on the highway.  Why?  I don’t know.  The acting is awful.  Last year, I deemed Season of the Witch the worst movie of the year, and stopped trying to defend Nic Cage’s career.  Since then, I have not changed my mind.  As a matter of fact, this is his first theatrically released film following two direct-to-video flops, and I do not see his career getting any better.  Idris Elba has no excuse for being in this.  He is in Thor, and supposedly its sequel.  That should have quenched his thirst for a comic book film.  There is also a quick cameo by the Highlander himself, Christopher Lambert.  I don’t even know why his character is in the film at all.

Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance is terrible and not worth the $1.50 I paid to rent it.  It started off in the worst way possible.  In a movie as shitty as this, there is no reason I should have to wait fifteen minutes to see Ghost Rider himself.  The visual effects were head and shoulders about its predecessor, but who would have guessed I would prefer the original with Eva Mendes and Donal Logue?  Not me.  Neveldine/Taylor was a one-trick pony, and that trick was Crank.  Everything else they have done has been pure garbage, and I am calling a ban on their films along with Cage’s.  Good riddance.

RATING: 1/10

Abraham Lincoln: Soulless Film

Review is up at InsideStL.

20 June 2012

Safety Not Guaranteed

Safety Not Guaranteed is the theatrical debut of writer Derek Connolly and director Colin Trevorrow.  It is a low budget dark comedy that stars three sit-com actors: Mark Duplass (The League), Aubrey Plaza (Parks and Recreation) and Jake M. Johnson (New Girl).  The film opens on Darius (Plaza) interviewing for a waitress job at a restaurant.  After turned down, she heads back to her unpaid internship at a Seattle magazine agency.  Her boss Bridget (Mary Lynn Rajskub) holds a meeting asking for ideas for articles.  Jeff (Johnson) brings up a wanted ad from a small town Ocean Side, in Washington.  The ad reads “WANTED: Someone to go back in time with me.  This is not a joke.  You’ll get paid after we get back.  Must bring your own weapons.  I have only done this once before.  SAFETY NOT GUARANTEED.”  Bridget approves, and Jeff leaves for Ocean Side, which happens to be his hometown, with two interns in tow: Darius and Arnau (Karan Soni).

The three of them set up a stakeout to watch the PO Box listed with the ad.  Finally, Kenneth (Duplass) shows up to claim his mail.  They follow him to his place of employment and then to his rundown house. After Jeff blows trying to be Kenneth’s partner in time travel, Jeff decides to hook up with an old high school flame that he found on facebook.  In the meantime, Darius befriends Kenneth, and he “trains” her for their journey.  Kenneth warns Darius that he is being watched by the government because they are scared of his knowledge and technology.  All this comes to a head at the end of the film.

Safety Not Guaranteed is a story about regret, living life to the fullest, and making everything count.  Both Darius and Kenneth want to go back to save someone they lost.  Jeff tries to rekindle an old relationship with Liz (Jenica Bergere).  Jeff also takes the nerdy Arnau under his wing and tries to help him experience life before it is too late.  The film has a lot of heart in it, and is very endearing because of it.  The end of the film is left open and extremely vague.  This usually bothers me, as I feel it is a cop out to have actually just written and ending.  Yet, for Safety Not Guaranteed, it works better.  It allows you, the viewer, to decide what happens.

Opening on a small amount of screens here in the StL, I encourage you to see Safety Not Guaranteed while you can.  Hopefully, this film will make enough money in its limited release so that it can keep expanding.  This is one of those films that could roll out into a nice midlevel hit.  Even with the time travel aspects of the film, this is not a science fiction movie.  It is grounded in reality, and that allows it to work very well.  I look forward to what the writer and director have in store for their next feature film.

RATING: 8/10

15 June 2012

07 June 2012


The review is up tomorrow at InsideStL.