• Countdown to Zero (2010)

    I haven't had much time lately for movies, but I did manage to rent and watch this after that whole Korean artillery strike thing that went on a few days ago.  This is actually a documentary, not a movie, so I am not really sure how I should go about reviewing it.  It was still a really interesting watch.

    You can probably guess from the cover art that this is a movie about nukes, and because of this, also involves lots of TERRORISM.  I am pretty tired of the word after so many years of constantly seeing it in the media, but I suppose it can't be ignored!  Most of the film involves things like how many nukes each nation has, and how many of said WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION are...missing.  Yes missing, somehow, our trusted governmental leaders have somehow managed to lose quite a few of these world ending, million dollar explosive devices. 

    Luckily is doesn't focus on scaring you like some of the other TERRORISM documentaries have in the past,  it's primary goal is informing the viewer.  As with most films these days, it has to stick with the laws of Hollywood on some aspects and focus on entertainment, so I'm sure some of the information is hyped up and overdone, but I am way too lazy to go research it.  Overall it was interesting to watch, and definitely something to check out if you like these types of movies. 

    Countdown to Zero gets a 4/5 for making TERRORISM fun.
  • The Expendables (2010)

    I don't think I have ever seen a more anticipated action movie than this one, with the piles of youtube videos and trailers clocking millions of views.  It seemed to almost drop off the face of the earth when it actually hit the big screen though. I didn't hear anything about it until recently when I found out it was being released next week.  With an all star cast like this, how could they screw it up? 

    The story is...definitely not the focus here.  Some crazy ass dictator is causing all sorts of trouble for the peaceful inhabitants of a non existent island somewhere in South America.  "The Expendables", a legendary crew of (aging) mercenaries are called in to deal with the issue directly using all sorts of fun explosives and high powered weaponry. 

    I am a huge fan of well done action movies, but it can't be "copied" action.  There has to at least be an interesting arch villain or new movie mechanic that makes things actually interesting.  A good example of this is "Shoot em' up", where they focus on making everything as over the top and unrealistic as possible;  this is perfect.  The Expendables on the other hand doesn't really pull anything off that any action fan hasn't already seen done countless times.  You have your gun fights, your plane fights, and your close quarters combat fights.  It definitely does a great job with these encounters, but it seems to be banking way too much on the fact that it dropped a few extra million to recruit a bunch of tired old actors into the mix.  Some of them were great in their hay day, but they were never amazing actors, and they didn't improve at all with age. 

    I know I'm going to get all sorts of crap from some people for not thinking this was the greatest movie of all time, but in all honesty it just wasn't as epic as I expected it to be.  If you really need your Stallone or  Schwarzenegger fix, you might want to consider picking up Rocky or Terminator instead.  But if you desperately need to see them in a new movie, this is a reasonably average action film that is pretty entertaining, but isn't setting any new boundaries.

    The Expendables gets a 3/5 for making me hope that "Red" pulls off the "invite all the stars for an action movie" formula off better. 

    Release Dates
    Blockbuster: November 23, 2010
    Red Box: November 23, 2010
  • 2010: Moby Dick

    Asylum, the illustrious creators of movies like "Titanic II" and "Mega Shark vs. Crocosaurus" is at it again in this remake of the classic tale of Ahab vs the great white whale Moby Dick.  Yes, that is in fact a modern day ship on the movie poster.  But this is not Ahabs vessel...  Asylum isn't known for modesty in it's films.  Journey into the depths with a custom built whale-hunting military grade nuclear submarine! Now THAT is entertainment!

    The story is your typical Moby Dick tale with a modern spin.  Ahab was in his 20's when Moby decided to make a meal out of his submarine and kill the rest of the crew.  He escapes with one less leg and a serious grudge against the poor whale.  Fast forward 40 years and Ahab is the captain of his very own military submarine.  Unfortunately, his sanity has taken a pretty serious beating in his old age, and being the genius that he is, he takes off with the 2 billion dollar sub, kidnaps a marine biologist (who talks to whales), and sets out with his loyal crew on a revenge mission of epic proportions.

    This movie is completely ridiculous, but after watching several Asylum films, I'm pretty sure this is the goal of the company. It comes across as a stab at the old jaws movies, borrowing heavily from their dramatic underwater tension and corny looking monster fish.  Moby Dick himself seems to defy gravity as he skims across the top of the water and jumps over islands.  From an entertainment perspective, the movie does seem to drag on at points.  The characters are pretty unlikable and shallow, but for it's budget is isn't completely horrible.

    I probably wouldn't outright suggest it to anyone, but if you are in the mood for a jaws-like monster movie this one should do SOMETHING for you. 

    2010: Moby Dick earns a 2/5 for demonstrating how useless funky looking spear guns are on mountain size whales.

    Release Dates
    Blockbuster: November 23, 2010
    Red Box: None
  • Lottery Ticket (2010)

    My least favorite part of pretty much every movie is the inevitable downfall after the main character(s) hit their climax of success.  Just that feeling of everything crumbling down is uncomfortable.  I have seen a few movies that completely skip this aspect, and to be completely honest, I don't miss it at all.  This movie does the EXACT OPPOSITE. 

    You can probably guess from the title that the main character (Kevin Carson) wins the lottery. Unfortunately, he finds out that the prize claim office is closed for the holidays.  This is where that dramatic tension comes into play... for the rest of the movie.  See, Kevin isn't the sharpest tool in the shed when it comes to... well anything.  What better way to wait out the weekend than to take a 100,000 dollar loan from a nearby crime boss and blow it all in a day while he waits? 

    This movie is swimming in African American stereotypes.  Normally it wouldn't bug me too much.  I have found plenty to enjoy in this style of humor in the past, but this one is just ridiculous.  Kevin's greatest ambition is sports shoes.  He has a closet full of them.  His friends are your typical gangster wannabes, who greet people by waving handguns around while throwing all sorts of obnoxious insults.  Martin Luther King would be turning over in his grave from just 10 minutes of this nonsense. 

    It has some funny parts, but I can't really recommend it to anyone, including blacks; I'd be afraid that they would take it as an insult.  If you want a African American style comedy movie, go with the Chris Rock remake of "Death At A Funeral" instead.  This one is just garbage. 

    Lottery Ticket gets a 1/5 for attempting to destroy 100 years of Civil Rights. 
  • A Christmas Carol (2010)

    Yay for the holidays, where we are bombarded by all sorts of remakes and Harry Potter movies.  I think this one has been redone 5 times now?  Maybe more if you count all of the cartoon series that attempt to emulate it. Can Jim Carrey and CGI save the franchise from the same disease that cripples most of the other rehashes?

    I think everyone knows the story here, and if you don't then you are probably from a tribe in the middle of the amazon and not reading this blog anyway.  Everyone's favorite stingy asshole, Scrooge, is doing his best to live out the last few years of life alone as all sorts of people storm into his shop begging him for money.  One chilly Christmas eve night, he is visited by three ghosts that each want to show him how crappy his death will be if he doesn't fix his attitude and start stimulating the economy with his hard earned shillings.  You probably know the rest.

    The CGI is really well done, and if you have ever read any of my other reviews before, you know that I love me some computer generated goodness.  The characters do look a bit weird at first.  It took me a while to get used to them.  Unfortunately, that's about it when it comes to upgrades here.  Everything else is the same thing as the last 5 remakes.  If it didn't say Jim Carry on the box, you probably wouldn't even realize it's him.  The sound is also a bit off.  I don't know if it was just my disc, but Scrooge is really difficult to understand sometimes.  The same holds true for the ghosts themselves, who have wispy voices that tend to disperse halfway through their sentences. 

    If you really want the same story again with some new age graphical improvements, it does a good job at telling it.  Other than that... it's just average. 

    A Christmas Carol gets a 3/5 for being nice to the poor, overworked Disney writers out there while it just redoes the same story for the 6th time. 
  • Predators (2010)

    I've always been a fan of the Predator movies.  Like most classics, the last few "revamps" have been less than amazing.  I think this is more due to nostalgia than anything though.  I sometimes wonder what would have happened if these newer Alien and Predator movies were actually released years ago.  Maybe it was just due to the technology back then, and the fact that these days we are much more desensitized to it.  If I go back and watch the old ones, there really isn't THAT big a difference.  They were still somewhat mindless action movies.  But they did it first right?  So I guess that instantly makes them superior to anything we released in the digital age.

    Predators has a very straightforward story, almost too much so...  They literally just drop the cookie cutter action star team onto an alien planet and say go for it.  If you have seen any Predator movies in the past, you can probably guess why they were dropped there.  It's a game preserve and they are the game...exciting.

    If you pick this movie up for some mindless action, it won't disappoint.  That's pretty much it though!  The characters are your typical hardcore badasses who throw logic out the window in favor of going it alone since all the cool people fly solo.  Even the comedy relief death row inmate is forgettable. 

    There aren't a huge amount of straight up action movies anymore, and I can see why.  After watching a few of them, they all sort of blend together.  This one doesn't try to separate itself at all.  It does it's job well, but doesn't bring anything new to the table. 

    Predators gets a 3/5 for making my entire first paragraph pointless.
  • Extraordinary Measures (2010)

    I honestly don't like Brendan Fraser much.  The first time I saw him in a movie was years ago and it was probably the most awkward and strange movie I have ever seen, and his character is batshit insane throughout the whole thing.  This has tainted my views of him for life I'm afraid.  Harrison Ford on the other hand is a badass, so when I heard he was in this movie, I had to pick it up. 

    Extraordinary Measures is about a businessman (Brendan Fraser) who has two kids with the muscle deteriorating disease Pompe (not to be confused with the Volcano, Pompeii).  As his daughter nears her 9th birthday, and the end of the overall lifespan for kids with this disease, he decides to drop everything and focus 100% on a cure for the illness.  Unfortunately, all sorts of medical company nonsense is going on, so he takes matters into his own hands and opens a biotech institute where he recruits the grumpy old Pompe specialist Dr. Robert Stonehill to do the actual sciency stuff. 

    I honestly didn't expect to be entertained in the slightest with this one, but I actually found something to enjoy. Don't watch it seeking any action, it's drama in the deepest sense. Brendan Fraser plays an awesome desperate dad and Harrison Fords grouchy old guy persona is top notch.  It seems almost unrealistic how quickly everything got funded and started up, but to my complete surprise, it's actually based on a true story.  The time lines in the film going from non-profit organization to full on biotech facility were actually realistic!

    So why can't I get rich this quickly? Whoever taught this guy business is a genius!

    Extraordinary Measures gets a 4/5 for motivating me to be less lazy. 
  • Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (2010)

    I am not normally a fan of Micheal Cera movies.  They are usually way too down to earth and slow for me.  This one on the other hand... holy shit.  It's about time he did something awesome.

    Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (which I think looks better with a capital T for "the World" but grammar says otherwise) is about a kid who finds himself head over heels in love with a crazy hipster girl with hair that randomly changes colors throughout the movie.   When he finally manages to hook up with her, he finds out that she has seven evil ex-boyfriends, each with their own over the top super mutant style abilities.  The only way to win her heart is to defeat them all in glorious Dragon Ball Z meets X-Men style combat.

    Everything about the movie is over the top.  Anyone who has ever played a classic video game, be it at an arcade or on an old Nintendo will find something to relate to.  The movie is littered with all sorts of gaming references, as well as a soundtrack heavily influenced by the culture as a whole.  The fight scenes range from completely ridiculous to overwhelmingly epic, keeping the pace fast and the plot fresh as each ex-boyfriend is conquered in the name of love.

    This is a must see unless you absolutely hate being entertained, because that is exactly what it will do.

    Scott Pilgrim vs. the World gets a 5/5 for taking No-More Heroes and turning it into the first ever truly awesome video game movie.  Take notes Uwe Boll!

    Release Dates
    Blockbuster: November 9th, 2010 (delayed at some stores)
    Red Box: December 7th, 2010
  • Language of the Enemy (2008)

    Contrary to popular belief, Blockbuster employees do in fact listen to customer suggestions about movies.  This is one of those that was recommended to me by one of our regulars.  It's something I normally wouldn't have bothered with.

    The film takes place in Israel, where everyone seems to absolutely despise each other.  Being the stupid American I am, I didn't know a whole lot about this part of the world before the movie, aside from "bombs go off and CNN reports it...sometimes".  A Jew by the name of Romi finds out about a bus explosion in the middle of the city.  Unfortunately, his father was one of the victims, so he flies out to Israel for the first time to visit his family.  When he arrives, he discovers that his brother is part of an anti-Palestinian group who immediately recruit him as an under-cover agent due to his knowledge of the enemy language.  Fast forward, and he meets a Palestinian woman (Joleh) who he instantly falls for (and who just so happens to be the daughter of the enemies leader).

    I should have realized it sooner based on the names, but it took me while.  If you haven't guessed it by now, this is LITERALLY Romeo and Juliette: Middle East edition.  Complete with the poisoning and the faked deaths.  Don't run for the hills just yet though!  The movie does an excellent job of portraying the every day dangers of the region, with top notch acting and an amazing inside look at the every day life of terrorist organization #32.  It was still a bit disappointing once I realized what the overlying story was going to be, but overall it's a solid movie.

    So if you are in the mood for a twist on the classic Shakespearean play, this one definitely destroys some of the other knock offs.  But in all honesty the formula is getting pretty stale.  I would split this movie in half and review each section separately if I could, but that wouldn't be accurate now would it?

    Language of the Enemy gets a 3/5 for fortifying my fears of visiting any country between France and China.

    Release Dates
    Blockbuster: October 14, 2010
    Red Box: (Not Carried) 
  • Locked Down (2010)

    Mixed Marshal Arts sure did explode quickly.  I remember first seeing it on youtube a few years ago and being surprised at how few rules there were.  Though after seeing two or three matches, and realizing that 90% of them turned into a sweaty muscle man hugging match on the floor, I swiftly lost interest.  I didn't expect much from this one to begin with.  It has been sort of a dry spell on movie releases lately, so I'm grabbing whatever I can get, and this just happened to be in the new release pile. 

    Locked Down's primary character is a cop who is famous for getting hardcore crime bosses around the nation thrown into prison.  One day, he wakes up (after a 10 minute soft core porn style sex scene, wtf?) and is greeted by a swat team who quickly locate a stash of drugs and cash planted under his sheets. Due to some strings pulling by a "mysterious and unknown source", he ends up in the same prison as all of his best criminal buddies.  As is the norm with any movie involving the Mafia, every other cop on the force is corrupt, so no one bothers to question any of this in the slightest.  Fast forward and he is cage fighting in the basement of the prison hosted by a crime boss controlling the entire place from his master bedroom sized luxury jail cell.

    There are a lot of things about this movie that are just straight up corny.  The prison guards are some of the least intimidating officers I have ever seen, including a tiny Asian woman with a nasty attitude, and a wanna-be sadist who bombards everyone with awful one liners throughout the entire movie. The main character doesn't talk much, but when he does, it sounds forced and unnatural.  Luckily most of the other characters do a pretty good job when it comes to acting.  The fighting is well done, aside from some ridiculous bone cracking sound effects.  At least they aren't making out on the floor the whole time like real MMA fights. 

    For a straight to dvd movie, this one isn't terrible.  If you can get over the cornyness, the whole rocky style revenge/training thing can be entertaining.  The bad acting and lame dialogue hurt the movie, but don't completely kill it.  It's just average.

    Locked Down gets a 3/5 for being the perfect example of straight to dvd.

    Release Dates
    Blockbuster: November. 9
    Red Box: (Not Carried)
  • Grown Ups (2010)

    It has been a while since I've seen an Adam Sandler movie.  They definitely tend to bank on the fart/poop/boob jokes quite a bit. This movie is no exception.  There is more flatulence here than a senior center during bean burrito night.  Luckily that isn't the only convention it uses for humor. 

    Grown Ups is about a group of adults who all chose different paths in life.  You have the stay at home dad (Chris Rock), the Multi-millionaire (Adam Sandler), the slacker/womanizer (David Spade),  the crazy hippy vegan (Rob Schneider), and the co-owner to a lawn furniture company (Kevin James), whatever that is supposed to be .  The 5 friends all have a common ground in a small suburban City where their basketball coach and idol, "Buzzer" dies of old age.  Adam Sandler rents out a lake house and they spend the weekend being kids again. 

    The movie doesn't have a novel quality story.  The clashing lifestyles and personal attacks are the primary focus here, which is a lot more entertaining than I expected.  Don't pick it up expecting a life-changing experience. It's here to entertain, and in that it does a great job.  If you aren't a fan of past Adam Sandler movies, then I can't really recommend it to you. It follows the exact same formula.   For everyone else, it's a hilarious movie that most people will probably find something to enjoy in. 

    Grown Ups gets a 4/5 for making reunions sound less awful.

    Release Dates
    Blockbuster: November. 9
    Red Box: November. 9
  • A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010)

    Hollywood sure does to butcher classics.  Luckily, I never watched any of the old Nightmare on Elm Street movies, so they can't crap all over my memories with their green screen shenanigans! I know it's a bit late for a horror movie, but I couldn't rent this one until now.

    A Nightmare on Elm Street is about a group of teenagers who find themselves haunted by a batshit crazy sadist in their dreams.  Unfortunately for them, these dreams are quite deadly, killing off the majority of them.  It works sort of like a mystery solving movie, where the group is trying to find out why this zombie looking guy has such a  bloodthirsty vendetta against them.  This is something it does well, and the story is definitely intriguing with all sorts of twists. 

    I have heard countless times that this movie is nowhere near as good as the old ones, so I will most likely be renting them next (if they ever come back, Halloween wiped out the more popular horror movie section).  As a standalone movie, I thought it was mildly enjoyable.  It's not going to blow you away with amazing horror sequences or acting that would make Morgan Freeman jealous; it's just....average.  Freddy just isn't all that scary.  Maybe it's because he has been so overused over the years. 

    A Nightmare on Elm Street gets a 3/5 for failing to give me any nightmares. 
  • Altitude (2010)

    So about 2 weeks ago I was rummaging around on blockbuster online, when I ran into this in the new release section.  It definitely wasn't something we carried in store, so I went ahead and ordered it.  The description promised a supernatural airplane thriller, which seems like a long stretch.  I like to give the low budget disaster style movies a chance.  Every once in a while you hit some really low karat gold and after around 300 swings, you dig up something like this; freakin diamonds. 

    Altitude's story is too difficult to explain without ruining it.  I went into this movie knowing almost nothing about it, and I think that is the best way to experience it.  Every 30 minutes it seems to borrow from a new genre, from horror, to suspense, to drama, action, mystery, sci-fi, you name it.  The general premise is a group of college students embarking on a plane ride with their inexperienced pilot friend, and accidentally flying into what appears to be storm clouds due to a malfunction in the planes flaps. Not too exciting sounding eh?  Well shit goes crazy. 

    You will probably enter the movie expecting plane trouble and obnoxious drunk college kids, but don't let its initial appearance deceive you.  The film combines all sorts of awesome movie/tv series conventions from over the years, from "Cloverfield" style monster mystery,  to "Heroes" comic book prophecy.  The acting can be a little bit off sometimes, and it probably could have lead up to the ending twist a bit better, but overall everything flows perfectly into an awesome supernatural style roller-coaster ride. 

    Of course, once again, Imdb believes the exact opposite.  Maybe I'm just into weird movies?

    Altitude gets a 4/5 for making motherfucking Cloverfield on a motherfucking plane actually work.  (but completely evicting the snakes)