Wednesday, November 27, 2013

November Recap

NOTE:  The jerks at Moviefone snuck in 3 new movies this morning that weren't listed yesterday for the Box Office Blitz.  If you wish to change your answers, you can do so until 6am Saturday.  The 3 other movies added are:
  • Philomena*
  • The Book Thief*
  • The Christmas Candle*
Of the three I'd say probably only The Book Thief would do anything.  Anyway it's kind of annoying in this day and age they can't get their shit together until Wednesday for what's coming out Friday.

Here were the top 3 posts of the month.  They've been pretty tightly packed together so the order
keeps changing.
And here's some stuff I watched:

Star Trek Into Darkness:  Here's a backhanded compliment:  this wasn't as terrible as I feared it would be.  Still not that great and I still will not accept Chris Pine as Captain Kirk.  I could probably do a whole blog post on it but really the problem is they wanted to draw parallels to Wrath of Khan but the problem is the characters of THIS movie don't have the relationships as in Wrath of Khan.  In particular Kirk and Khan don't quite have the same level of hatred that was born of 20 years of simmering hatred.  And Kirk and Spock don't have 20 years of being best friends to draw on so when they try to parallel the warp reactor scene it just doesn't work because at this point these two characters can barely tolerate each other.  It's just not the same thing at all.  Karl Urban as Bones I thought stole the show at times; he can really sound like DeForrest Kelley at times.  Now that people have pointed them out, gawd, those lens flares!  Yeesh.  The plot was OK but I wish they'd stop stupid crap like starships operating underwater and in atmosphere.  They're called starships because they operate in the stars.  Duh. (2.5/5)

GI JOE: Retaliation:  It's probably a push on which GI JOE movie is dumber.  The first one set the bar pretty low.  Anyway, the plot of this doesn't make a lot of sense, especially the part about Zartan murdering Snake Eyes and Storm Shadow's ninja master like 25 years ago and then training Storm Shadow.  Say whaaaat?  Zartan isn't a fucking ninja!  It seemed like they really shoehorned that Snake Eyes plot line in there.  And of course most people would be sad that Channing Tatum was killed, but he sucked in the first one so it wasn't much of a loss to me.  At least this time they tried to get the look of some characters closer to the toys, though those all seemed to be COBRA characters.  They did take the superfluous mouth off Snake Eyes's costume; I mean what use does a guy who took a vow of silence have for a mouth on his mask? (2/5)

Now You See It:  I'd been wanting to see this movie for a while so I was hoping for more from it.  It was OK.  It involves four magicians (the Four HorseMEN despite that one is a girl) who use their magic shows to first rob a French bank and then an insurance tycoon.  I was surprised that most of the movie follows the FBI agent (Mark Ruffalo, aka the Hulk from the Avengers) and an Interpol agent, but there's a twist that explains why this is.  Though for that twist to work, someone would have needed to meticulously manipulate events for about the last 30 years, which I find inconceivable!  It's an OK heist movie but not everything I was hoping for.  BTW, Tony Laplume would be happy to see one character reading The Savage Detectives by Roberto Bolano at one point. (3/5)

Identity Thief:  Chalk this up with "Anchorman" and "Wedding Crashers" as a popular comedy I didn't really enjoy.  I chuckled a few times but never really laughed at anything.  I guess I didn't find a fat woman falling down and punching guys in the throat to be that hilarious.  Pretty much everything in this movie was done better by Steve Martin and John Candy in "Planes, Trains, and Automobiles" or Robert de Niro and Charles Grodin in "Midnight Run."  The latter might be a bit more apt.  Might as well just watch those again. (2/5)

30 Days of Night:  Vampires take over an Alaskan town where it's dark for 30 days straight.  Unfortunately the movie has as much personality as the star Josh Hartnett, which is to say none at all.  What confused me the most was that the "vampires" eat people like zombies, which seems to be a really inefficient way to get blood. But did they really want blood or what?  Nothing is really explained about the vampires like who they are or what language they're speaking.  (2.5/5)

An Awkward Sexual Adventure:  This is pretty much the Canadian version of a Judd Apatow film.  Instead of a 40-Year-Old Virgin you have a 36-year-old Winnipeg accountant who's just really bad in bed.  So bad his girlfriend falls asleep.  While on a trip to Toronto he visits a strip club and meets a stripper with a heart of gold who has terrible financial management.  So they agree that he'll help her with her financial problems and she'll help to teach him about sex as his "Sexual Yoda."  Other than an oral sex scene there's less graphic sex than you might expect.  It was fun, but really could have used a little trimming since the end was pretty obvious. (4/5)

The Host (2013):  Like Hulk or Van Helsing, this is another failed attempt by Universal Pictures at launching a franchise.  In this case it's based off a pre-Twilight book by Stephanie Meyer.  Parasitic aliens take over all the people on the Earth, including some girl named Melanie.  From seven years of watching Deep Space Nine I know that you can coexist with a parasite and it could actually help you.  Instead these aliens just try to take over the hosts, except for William Hurt and a bunch of generic Abercrombie & Fitch models who hide in some desert caves.  (Honestly I didn't realize there were two guys after the main girl until like 3/4 through the movie.)  The aliens don't seem to have anything particularly interesting about them except a fondness for silver vehicles and white clothes.  It's a real accomplishment that the main character manages to be whiny and boring as two species.  The idea of them sharing a body would have worked better in the book.  In the movie it's kind of lame with her talking to herself all the time.  The human girl part can't ever seem to make up her mind whether she hates the alien or how she wants it to react to boys.  But it was neat how they grew crops underground, so that's something. (2/5)

The Host (2006):  This is a completely different animal from the movie of the same name above.  This is a Korean kaiju movie where something that looks like a mutant catfish crossed with a squid is created thanks to a stupid American doctor who orders a bunch of toxic chemicals dumped into a river because the bottles are dusty.  (Which harkens back to Godzilla where the monster is woke up thanks to stupid Americans dropping nukes.)  Cheesy effects and hammy acting make it hard to take this seriously; the movie can't seem to decide what tone it should strike, whether it's a corny "Shaun of the Dead"-type parody or an actual monster movie.  The 2 hour running time is probably a half hour too long and really the monster needed to be bigger and on screen more. (2.5/5)

Olympus Has Fallen:  This movie was all kinds of implausible.  First off, I'm pretty sure the two F-22 fighters wouldn't line up on either side of the cargo plane so they can get blown out of the sky.  Common sense would dictate one stay back to cover the other while it checks the situation out.  The rest of it plays out like Die Hard meets Air Force One only without any fun or cleverness.  Whoever played the defense secretary was so awful I really wanted her to die, and quick.  Anyway, despite all that it was an OK but really dumb action movie.  (2/5)

Hulk Vs.:  I appropriately watched this before an episode of Agents of SHIELD one week.  About 60% of it is dedicated to Loki bringing Hulk to Asgard during the Odinsleep (when Odin is recharging like your iPhone) to rampage around while Thor tries to stop him with his hammer.  The other 40% is dedicated to Hulk fighting Wolverine in the Canadian wilderness, though probably 50% of that 40% is actually focusing on Wolverine and the Weapons X project who want to use Hulk for their own ends.  This really demonstrates how pointless the Hulk often is as the fights between him and Thor and Wolverine get pretty dull pretty quick because for the most part it's always going to be a stalemate.  Really if you're going after the Hulk you should fight him with scented candles and Yanni music to cool his rage; hitting him with a hammer or stabbing him with claws just makes him angrier.  Unfortunately he doesn't rip Wolverine in half like in the comics.  Boring!  (2/5)

Redemption (2012):  This isn't your typical Jason Statham movie, though he does still kill plenty of people.  Statham is a British soldier who's on the lam after going AWOL from Afghanistan.  He's living on the streets with a girl named Isabel until Isabel's pimp catches up to her.  Statham escapes the pimp's henchmen and crashes into a flat whose owner is conveniently gone for the summer.  So hey, why not steal his identity, right?  Especially since a new bank card is conveniently in the mail.  Then he starts trying to get his life together and in the span of a couple of weeks goes from homeless to a dishwasher in a Chinese restaurant to an enforcer for a Chinese gangster--talk about upward mobility!  Along the way he tries to find out about Isabel with the help of a nun whose mobile kitchen he used to frequent.  As the title suggests it's about him trying to redeem his life of bad choices.  But it all comes down to a final choice between hanging out with the nun at the opera or getting revenge for Isabel.  Which do you think he chooses?  It's a little slow but better than your typical Statham fare like "Parker" and "The Transporter."  Still probably not as good as "The Bank Job" or a couple of early Guy Ritchie movies. Statham seems like the British Nic Cage in that he's capable of doing better material but he has a really shitty eye for picking scripts.  (3.5/5)

Erased:  The start of this reminded me of "The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret" in that a guy (Aaron Eckhart) is recruited for a job overseas that turns out to be for a company that doesn't really exist.  In this case it's far more sinister than comical when he goes into work with his daughter one morning to find everything (people, phones, computers, Post-It notes) vanished.  All his bank records and personal records from that time are erased too.  So to find out what's going on he basically does his Liam Neeson and goes around Belgium kicking people's asses.  This is another of those pretty much straight-to-Redbox movies that's not bad if you like a cross between "Taken" and "The Bourne Identity."  (3/5)

Assault on Wall Street:  They probably take away your reviewer's card if you admit to liking a Uwe Boll movie.  But wait, I only liked it for a really shallow reason!  Boll's inadvertent genius was casting Erin Karpluk as the main character's wife and I had such a huge crush on her from watching this "Being Erica" show on CBC a couple years ago.  (I think I made a couple of veiled references to it in my Wordpress blog back in the day.)  How much of a crush?  The young Sylvia in the Scarlet Knight books is pretty much modeled on her and so is the woman in my short story "Meet Cute."  So when she's sick and dying in the movie I could totally feel the guy's frustration and rage.  If I had a machine gun I might have run off to Wall Street for delusional vengeance.  But if you don't have a huge crush on that chick then you might not feel the same way.  Other than that it takes way too long to get up to the assaulting part of the movie.  I mean well over an hour goes by before he starts on that.  If you really, REALLY hate bankers then you might like this.  I might have to take some points off because Boll didn't work in a gratuitous naked scene.  C'mon it's R-rated, why not go for it!? (3/5)

(BTW, if you can ever get the chance go watch that "Being Erica" show.  The first season was pretty cool.  It was like "Quantum Leap" meets "My Name is Earl" as she gets to go back in time to right a list of various wrongs in her life.  I had to buy it on DVD since I'm pretty sure you can't get it from Netflix and the like except maybe in Canada.  I never watched the next season or two because everything seemed worked out pretty well in the first season, so why bother watching it unravel and then reravel again?)

Phantom:  You know how in some Russian submarine movies like The Hunt for Red October they hire British actors to use their normal voices so they at least seem foreign or in others like K-19 The Widowmaker they have everyone do bad Russian accents?  Well Phantom decides the hell with all that and just lets all the Americans talk like Americans even though they're playing Soviet submariners.  That kind of lazy inattention to detail is compounded by the message at the end saying all the records on this story are still classified so who the fuck knows what really happened?  The probably completely bogus story "inspired by real events" is one part Red October, one part K19, and one part Crimson Tide as a Russian sub captained by Ed Harris goes out to test a new "phantom" machine for confusing American subs and then gets taken over by David Duchovny as a Russian commando who wants to start WWIII.  Appropriately later the night I watched this I caught the end of Dr. Strangelove on TCM which is a much better movie about crazy people trying to start a nuclear war.  (2/5)  (BTW, don't confuse this with The Phantom with Billy Zane as the 30s hero or with Phantoms, in which Affleck was the bomb.)

This is 40:  This movie has some good bits, but at 133 minutes, it's much muuuuuuch too long.  It rambles on and on and at the end we're not really any farther along than when we started.  This was based on characters from "Knocked Up" which I watched only once, which was enough.  At least this one doesn't have Seth Rogen in it; that would have only made it worse.  It's another good object lesson on not working with your family; Apatow has his wife as the wife and his kids as the kids; if they had a dog it'd probably be his dog too.  The older kid is OK but the younger one is worse than any of those kids on those AT&T commercials.  Of course readers who are married and over 40 might get more from it than someone unmarried and not 40. (2.5/5)

Lovelace:  A lot of movies I complain are too long (see above) but this one was actually too short.  It seems like they skip over so much stuff and just give lip service (huh huh) to a lot of other stuff.  It's the kind of dramatization where you'd probably be better served watching a real documentary.  The story as presented is pretty cliche.  Sort of naive young woman gets involved with older, abusive guy.  Only instead of just knocking her around he forces her to make perhaps the most well-known porno ever.  As for the sex there really isn't anything graphic actually depicted.  Some nice boob shots, so that's something.  (2/5)

This is the End:  Like "This is 40" above it had some nice bits but was too long.  Like the Ocean's movies it was probably more fun for the people making it because they could all hang out and get paid for it.  For me it was less enjoyable.  Too much time is spent in the house after the Rapture begins.  The highlight of that is when they do most of the drugs and make a Sweded version of a "Pineapple Express 2" trailer.  Once they start getting out of the house the plot begins to move again.  But I have to say if Heaven involves smoking weed with Seth Rogen and spontaneously dancing to the Backstreet Boys then I'd volunteer to go to the other place. [Cue "Twilight Zone" guy saying, "This IS the other place! Hahahahahaha!"] (2.5/5)

The Place Beyond the Pines:  I probably should have read more about this movie before I added it to my queue.  It was really confusing.  We start with Ryan Gosling as a carnie who rides a motorcycle in a metal cage until he finds out he knocked up Eva Mendes.  Then he starts robbing banks.  When he's busted by a rookie cop played by Bradley Cooper, it turns into a whole different movie about dirty cops.  Then we skip forward 15 years so we can catch up with their kids, who are fucked up in different ways but then seem to become their fathers.  It was really hard to follow the thread of the story since it seems like 3 different movies spliced together. (2/5)

Goosebumps:  When I was browsing Netflix's Halloween channel I saw they had the old Goosebumps TV show based on those R.L. Stine books from the 90s.  So I decided to watch a few episodes I remembered seeing back in the day.  At best the show is like "The Twilight Zone" for 8-year-olds while at worst (far more frequent) it's completely nonsensical crap marred by acting and special effects much worse than anything on TZ back in 1959.  One of the better episodes is basically a retread of a "Twilight Zone" episode where someone finds a magic lamp and gets 3 wishes that of course backfire.  (This was also the basis of a Simpsons Halloween parody.)  In this case a gawky teenage girl gets 3 wishes that go horribly wrong, like when she wishes to be the best player on her basketball team she's the only one who gets a basket in the whole game.  And then the genie says, "What?  You were the best player on the team!"  The point being that you should never ever make a wish (or a deal with the devil) because it will always backfire.  You really have to question the callousness of some of these characters like in that episode I mentioned, the girl's mortal enemy gets turned into a statue and she's like "Woo hoo!" and in another episode a boy accidentally alters history so his bratty sister disappears and then is like, "Meh.  I'll fix it later."  Anyway, if you need a nostalgia fix from the 90s there are better ways. (1/5)


  1. I see a lot of Canadian references in your list. And because I don't get to see many movies, I shall just read your musings on each. I think I'd watch An Awkward Sexual Adventure. Then again, I must just stare at myself in the full-length mirror.

    Have yourself a really nice American type Thanksgiving, eh.


  2. You haven't watched too many movies you cared for lately.
    From the ones I've seen I would have to agree. The Host was Twilight with aliens....

  3. I enjoyed the Korean movie called the Host. I assumed the fx were done on a budget and appreciated them as being pretty awesome. The tone of the movie was a tad schizophrenic though.

    The other Host movie was amazingly awful. I mean, it was a stunning achievement in crap. I'm mad that I saw it.

    I'm going to wait to predict on the movies then. Might as well I guess. Unless I forget.

  4. I rather like Chris Pine as Captain Kirk. He has the swagger and over-confidence that are Kirk's hallmarks. If I don't get another chance I hope you have a very Happy Thanksgiving. Take care.

  5. I read a little of this today and the rest now that I'm at home making airplanes out of blocks and cooking pies for tomorrow.

    So now I can comment!

    First, I really liked "The Host (Korean Version)". I know it altered its tone a bit but I thought it had some very effective moments and overall was about a B of a movie.

    I also liked (again, moderately) "This Is The End," which I thought had a good concept and some fun moments. I agree, it got a little long. The ending was kind of dumb, but it's tough to come up with a concept of Heaven AND have it be funny, so I guess it was okay.

    I wanted to see "The Host (Stephanie Meyers Version)" and read the book but I got scared off the latter by it being YA and the former by reviews like yours, so that'll never happen now.

    The rest don't really appeal to me. "Pines," though, deserves a mention: I thought I would want to see it, and we got it from Netflix, but it's been sitting on my dresser for 2 weeks (alongside "The Purge") and 2 weeks is my deadline. If I haven't watched a movie in 2 weeks, I send it back. So I told Sweetie to send those two back and she said "No."

    I said "Are you going to watch them?"

    She said "No, but there's nothing good in the queue, so why bother sending them back?"

    THERE is your review of those movies: Not good enough to watch, but better than every other movie she's picked that's available.

    (She rejected my suggestion that perhaps one of MY movies be allowed to move up the list. I'll NEVER see "Moonrise Kingdom.")

    You don't watch much regular television, do you?

  6. The underwater spaceship didn't bother me because they have forcefields. The Host was very lame and I saw White House Down so I figure I've seen Olympus.



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