Sunday, December 5, 2010


There is a slight chance that I wanted more than what Faster was ever going to be able to give to me. I wanted The Rock to beat people up and be a badass again so badly that I didn’t really care what movie it was in. Thinking along those lines is how you end up with Faster.

November was just full of movies with the most basic premises possible. Faster is just the story of The Rock getting out of jail and immediately hunting down and killing the people who killed his brother. They at least tried to throw in a hefty twist at the end but it lacked any surprise and couldn’t make up for the rather thin plot.

If the storyline was pointless, Faster was worthwhile just because of the fantastic freaking cast. It was like I was consulted on the choices … which, when I come to think of it, I should be from now on. I started the review by saying that I saw this movie because of The Rock and he did not disappoint. He even hit the gym to remind me just how freaking huge he was during his wrestling days. Maybe giving The Rock a role with 5 lines of dialogue defeats the purpose of casting The Rock but there ya go. We’ll skip past Billy Bob Thornton because I’ve never had anything to say about him outside of Bad Santa. And seeing Carla Gugino is always welcome. But I want to concentrate on the smaller roles given to Xander Berkeley, Jennifer Carpenter, and Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje. That’s George Mason, Debra Morgan, and Adibisi all in the same movie. Thank you; here's my money.

If you want to see The Rock drive around and shoot people in the face then Faster is the movie to go see. But make sure that is what you want because there is nothing else to the movie but that.

6 out of 10

Due Date

Todd Phillips had to follow up The Hangover with something and since it took me nearly a month to see Due Date, you can gauge my excitement. Well, like everyone else in the world, I’m a fan of both Robert Downey Jr. and Zach Galifianakis so if all else failed I would at least have that.

There is not much to say about Due Date. This is one of the go-to comedies plots … road trip. Give the characters a destination and a timetable then have crazy shit happen to them. Shockingly, that is exactly what Due Date puts on screen. And even more amazing than that, Downey and Galifianakis don’t get along in the beginning but become friends by the end. Ah movies.

So if no ground was broke and the plot was obvious, why see Due Date? The answer is the cast. Robert Downey Jr. is at that point of his career where he can do whatever he damn well pleases. His timing is impeccable and I would listen to him deliver dialogue all day long. He can make everything sound amusing. So after a decade of trying, Zach Galifianakis is now a coveted name. Good for him, but I don’t really know how long he can continue to play different versions of the same mentally simple character. Who knows; but it will be funny while it lasts. It was nice to see Jamie Foxx do comedy for the first time in what feels like a decade. Even better is the idea that RZA is becoming one of those revolving group of guys who will appear in all of the comedies nowadays. Would I prefer him to be producing all the beats for the Wu-Tang Clan? Of course, but any RZA makes me smile.

I just don't have much to say about Due Date. It was funny and I barely remember any of it. I'm sure I'll watch it a bunch of times when it shows up on cable but for now all I can say is that it made me laugh.

7 out of 10


Once again Denzel Washington and Tony Scott have decided to team up ... I will never know why out of all the directors to choose from Denzel has decided to work with Ridley Scott’s brother for the fifth time. Hopefully Unstoppable will be more Man on Fire and less Déjà Vu.

Hmm … the plot of Unstoppable is so intricate that I’m not sure if I will be able to explain it in the amount of space available. A train is out of control and Denzel and Chris Pine are chasing it down. They catch the train and the credits roll. I guess that was easier than I thought...

This is another in a long line of Denzel Washington roles where he shows up and portrays Denzel Washington. Oh sure, they give him a different name and he works a different job but I know Denzel when I see him. It’s all there; the jokes, the gestures, the emotion, the heroism, check, check, check, and check. This time around he gets to play alongside Captain Kirk. Chris Pine continues to prove that he deserves his spot as one of the go-to younger actors. Nothing spectacular here but he banters well with Denzel. We need to fill out the rest of the obvious characters that show up in these movies, so Rosario Dawson is the company woman helping them while Kevin Dunn is the company man threatening them. The always awesome Kevin Corrigan is the smart guy giving them key advice at key moments. And last but definitely not least, Ethan Suplee is the idiot who screwed up and set the train loose. Gotta give the audience what they expect.

Just like every other Tony Scott movie, Unstoppable shines when the action is taking place. You don’t get any more basic than a runaway train, but the man knows how to build tension and blow shit up. And Unstoppable is just an hour and a half of tension building and shit blowing up, so Mr. Scott played to his strengths.

7 out of 10

Jackass 3D

What can I say? I’ve always been a Jackass fan, so here I am for the third time. Nothing has changed. A bunch of dudes got hit in the nuts, there were multiple stunts involving shit, and way too much male nudity. That is my review for Jackass 3D.

6 out of 10

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1

The Part 1 at the end of the title makes this review seem a bit premature. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 is literally the first half of a five-hour film. Instead of an old school intermission, we were sent home for seven months with no real conclusion at all. So, I’m gonna review this under the belief that the second half will be more of the same and not a random u-turn.

Now, of course, what was omitted from the book can randomly show up in Part 2 but since the plot went in somewhat the same order I think I’m safe to nitpick. The movies have blown off the Dursleys many times, so not getting to see Dudley be nice to Harry is no big loss. The movie decides to give Hedwig a more noble death instead of being an innocent bystander but this is put in place of Harry using expelliarmus to reveal himself to Voldemort. There is much less polyjuice potion and no use of the invisibility cloak. This allowed us to see more of the main actors but makes them seem much more reckless than they were in the book. Sadly, we don’t get to hear the annoyed dialogue of Phineas Nigellus Black. This leaves a hole in the Silver Doe plot but that’s for Part 2 to explain or ignore. We do get to see Harry play with the cool mirror shard throughout the film … too bad he was never given the mirror by Sirius in the Order of the Phoenix so he just seems to have a random magical mirror shard. None of this bothers me in the slightest.

One of the many sad consequences of the series ending is I won’t get to see anymore random great British actors popping up with each new film. The opening scene is the dulcet tones of Bill Nighy giving a speech as the new Minister of Magic, Rufus Scrimgeour. He may have only been in a couple of scenes but any Nighy is always appreciated. Luna needed a father so they brought in Rhys Ifans. If he was good enough for Little Nicky and Formula 51, he is good enough for Harry Potter. I also need to point out the smaller parts for Peter Mullan and David O’Hara for their portrayals of the Death Eaters, Yaxley and Runcorn. And even smaller parts were given to Rade Serbedzija and Jamie Campbell Bower but I hope Part 2 may have more of Gregorovitch and Grindelwald. Goddamn seven-month wait…

Finally after ten years of movies and lots of growing up, Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, and Rupert Grint carry this entire movie on their very capable backs. They have reached adulthood as actors and are also working with serious and emotional material throughout the movie. The shocking performance was Rupert Grint bringing a lot more darkness to Ron Weasley than I would ever expect him to deliver. Way to be more than the guy in the background as Harry and Hermione move the plot forward. Along those lines, as usual, Emma Watson gets so much screen time you would think that the stories are Harry Potter and Hermione Granger and the Deathly Hallows. Eh, it’s worth it. The movie is full of these little moments of Hermione dealing with her grief and Emma is just phenomenal in each and every one of them. Daniel Radcliffe has proven to be up to the task of Harry Potter for multiple films now. Skipping past all the emotionally heavy moments, I love his comedic timing. The way he reacted to Hermione figuring out why Dumbledore left him the sword or how he denied having her wand were just perfect choices. I can’t wait to see him get put through the damn ringer in the final movie.

It wasn’t just the abilities of the Potter and friends actors that are the highlight of the Deathly Hallows: Part 1; there were scenes from the book that I was dying to see and the film delivered. Starting from the ending, Dobby’s death is one of the most powerful moments in the book and somehow they were able to reintroduce Dobby after his absence in the last four movies and make his death an absolute kick in the groin. I love Dobby. Then you have the creepy as hell locket attack that turned Harry and Hermione into Lord of the Rings-style elves while they were making out. They were so pretty and shiny. The telling of The Tale of the Three Brothers, now with animation, exceeded my expectations on every level. Then you have the scenes that were not in the book. Hermione wiping her parent’s memories was heartbreaking. Harry and Hermione dancing were hilarious. And all off the locations they camped at were beautifully shot. I just thought Britain meant rainy and London. Who knew?

The seven month wait for the conclusion of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows is painful to even write about in this review. I need to see how they conclude this series on film. They've exceeded my expectations over and over again so I just want to sit back and enjoy the ride.

10 out of 10

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (remix)

Now this is just completely ridiculous. I reviewed Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince last year, what could have possibly changed! This seems pointless. Wait a second … reviewing movies is always pointless so why stop now! And more to the point, Half-Blood Prince had the best visuals in the series since Prisoner of Azkaban.

And the book eviscerations continue. To start there is no meeting of the ministers so we are not introduced to Rufus Scrimgeour. But, of course, he is necessary in the finale so will get to see Bill Nighy next time around. They removed the Dursleys again which wouldn’t have been that bad but this means no mention that Harry inherits Grimmauld Place and also Kreacher. Not that those plot points will play any part in the finale. I could have sworn that Bill Weasley and Fleur Delacour become engaged in this one but I could have been imagining that. Although Harry has the only perfect invisibility cloak, Luna can see him because of her wacky glasses. And sadly we don’t get Luna on quidditch commentary. That’s a painful loss. There is no Trelawney so Harry never finds out that Snape overheard the prophecy that lead to his parents' death. And we don’t get Harry’s awesome argument with Dumbledore over this revelation. Now for the significant cuts that make me cry a bit just thinking about them. The majority of Tom Riddle’s back-story is cut and fuck you for that. There is no battle with the death eaters after Dumbledore is killed because they didn’t want to diminish the insane battle coming in the finale. Weak. Worse than that, there is no funeral for Dumbledore and no phoenix song from Fawkes. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince the movie took a lot of damn liberties with the book.

Must move on to a happier topic. Who did they bring into the family this time around? Jim Broadbent portrays a very not fat and not facial haired Horace Slughorn. But he is Jim Broadbent so none of that matters once he appears on the screen. The remaining member of the Malfoy family is cast with Helen McCrory taking on the role of Narcissa Malfoy. Good haughty choice. And that’s that. Sigh there could have been so many fantastic characters to populate in the memories of Tom Riddle. Hopefully that will be my last whine.

Back to the positive side of life, the acting from the student population took a noticeable step forward in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. Daniel Radcliffe has been constantly improving in each movie and really shines as Harry stoned on Felix Felicis and when he’s manipulating Slughorn. Emma Watson finally gets to do some emotional work and takes advantage, while also getting a cute moment as buzzed Hermoine. Out of nowhere, Tom Felton is phenomenal as Draco Malfoy. Its not like he was a bad actor in the first five movies, he was just barely used. This time around he puts Draco through the ringer. The adults do their usual work. I love Michael Gambon as Dumbledore and he easily has the most material to work with in Dumbledore’s swan song. There should have been more Rickman as Snape but every little bit counts. Where was Ralph Fiennes? Oh yeah … they cut the stuff he could have appeared in! Damn, I wasn’t supposed to bring that up again.

I mentioned it earlier, but David Yates is definitely more comfortable this time around. His artistic choices are much more striking in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. The scenes at Spinners End, the path to Hogsmeade, the memories, and the Cave are all highlights. I'm very intrigued to see what he does with the last book.

Complaining is fun, but once again the movie version of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince is a fine piece of work. I love the story that is told and I love the performers and I love the look, so what more could I want? The damn memories of Tom Riddle ...

9 out of 10

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (remix)

Hmm, it’s only been a few years since I rated and reviewed Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. That makes doing this a bit weird but I finish what I start (usually) so here we go. This is the turning point for the movie series since David Yates sits in the director’s chair and will never relinquish it. So I hope you like his style because he is finishing this thing.

Oh shit … this is going to be a massacre. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix is an absolute marathon of a book so I didn't envy the screenwriter. Right from the beginning there is no Mundungus Fletcher, which wasn’t a problem until he played a major part in the final book. Whoops. The continual bypassing of house elves continue as Kreacher is only shown in the background and he is never explained in any fashion or play any role in the story. Dobby is given the shaft again. The Room of Requirement gets 3 of the movies favorite alterations; Neville discovers it instead of Dobby, Hermoine narrates what it is even though she had no idea in the book, and Umbridge uses bombarda maxima to blow up a wall to get inside which goes against everything about the room from the book. Good times. We don’t even step foot in St. Mungo’s, so no Lockhart or Neville’s insane parents. Instead of wiping the floor with Fudge, Umbridge, Dawlish, Percy, and Kinglsey, Dumbledore just uses Fawkes to teleport from his office to escape arrest. Boo. Then Kingsley steals Phineaus Nigellus’ line because there is no Phineas Nigellus in the movie. No Quidditch, which meant no “Weasley is our King”. The cuts from the Ministry of Magic sequence are so significant that I can’t even list them all. This is a huge disappointment. And Bellatrix straight up kills Sirius in the movie instead of leaving it ambiguous as he falls through the veil. The Harry/Dumbledore confrontation and conversation is eviscerated to fit into the movie. They barely even explain the prophecy. I’d move on to nitpicks but I don’t have all day. The bottom line is that Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix was too damn big to fit into one movie and this is the fallout.

Alright that’s enough bitching let’s get on to the good stuff. We have gotten really deep into the franchise, so the amount of new characters to cast has gotten smaller. We only got two worth mentioning this time around. I despise Dolores Umbridge in the book and Imelda Staunton’s performance allowed me to despise her in the movie. I hate that character so very much. On the other hand, Helena Bonham Carter always brings something interesting to her performances. She made Bellatrix Lestrange her own and will always be how I view the character. Although those are the only big name additions, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix provided many of the returning actors chances to shine. Michael Gambon, Gary Oldman, Alan Rickman, and Ralph Fiennes all dominate every second of screen time that they are given. This is also a heavier emotional movie for Daniel Radcliffe to deal with. He takes advantage in Dumbledore’s office and during his occlumency lessons. Thankfully, the boy actually has some talent. Order of the Phoenix was also the introduction of Evanna Lynch as Luna Lovegood, probably the best child actor casting choices in the entire series.

So I spent about half a day bitching about what was left out of the movie, does that mean there is anything I like in the movie? That is an easy yes. Like I said a couple lines above, many of the adults are given just phenomenal scenes to ply their trade. Oldman nails every single line of dialogue he delivers. Alan Rickman uses the occlumency lessons as an opportunity to show why he was the only choice for Severus Snape. And Gambon and Fiennes are just incredible during the Dumbledore/Voldemort battle. Not only are their performances amazing, this scene is the highpoint of magical effects to this point in the series. They way they bounced spells off each other was beautiful to see. Although I usually don’t have much to say about the younger actors, I did think that all the Dumbledore’s Army sessions were very well done and another highpoint of the movie.

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix is a weird movie to review because the only real complaints I have are what they didn't put in the movie. But judging the movie as a movie, it kinda rules. And the producers must have agreed, since they trusted Yates to director the rest of the movies.

9 out of 10

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

Once again, we turn the page to a new kind of Harry Potter movie. Not only do they switch the director to Mike Newell, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire is the first book that is quite literally too big to fit into one movie. So the tightrope walking begins here, in exchange for chopping up the book we finally start seeing some real action and real consequences in this world.

To bring Goblet of Fire in under two and half hours, they broke out the hacksaw so let’s sift through the debris. First of all the Dursleys do not even appear in the movie which was odd. Then the Quiddditch World Cup was skipped, although they took the time to do the team introductions then blew past the actual match. But worse than that … no Winky! Damn you I want more house elfs. On top of that, Hermoine doesn’t even start up SPEW. And where the hell is Dobby? Why do the movies hate house elfs? Going back to the World Cup, Ludo Bagmen is completely removed from the plot. Another character cut from the film is Bellatrix Lestrange which just delays her awesomeness for one more movie. No Bill or Charlie Weasley again and this time no Percy … damn it these brothers exist! For some reason, they brought Gary Oldman in for some voiceover work instead of actually using one of the best actors working today in any actual acting scenes. Finally, the climatic chapters of the book are just completely missing from the movie. I understand that Harry can’t recount the whole story to Dumbledore on film after we just saw it happen, but this was a great chapter of the book. Ah well.

We are four movies in of casting great actors; who is left? Goblet of Fire answers this by bringing in a Dr. Who, David Tennant, as Barty Crouch Jr. A completely unknown Robert Pattison as Cedric Diggory. The new Defense against the Dark Arts teacher is Mad-Eye Moody and Brendan Gleeson puts on the mechanical eye and growls for a couple of hours. Miranda Richardson is brought on as the horrifyingly annoying Rita Skeeter and captures all of that quite well. And in the most important piece of casting for the entire series going forward, Ralph Fiennes gets his nose removed and is the reborn Lord Voldemort. What an inspired choice and a man who is actually able to live up to the buildup.

I may have detailed about a dozen detours from the book but that does not mean that I have a negative opinion of the movie version of Goblet of Fire. There are some phenomenal moments in this movie. The dragon battle is the first legitimate action sequence in the franchise. It is a complete reimagining of the book version of the First Task but who the hell cares!?! That was a fun chase. To bookend that early sequence, they were somehow able to capture the creepiness of Voldemort’s rebirth. Much of this was Fiennes’ performance, but they didn’t shy away from the killing of Cedric or Wormtail cutting his arm off or Harry’s desperate battle for his life. And although it is another add-on that doesn’t exist in the book, but I love the scene where Hermoine hugs Harry before he faces the dragon. Awwwwww.

My main complaint is that the movie grinds to a halt and spends about half hour on the Yule Ball. This is about 2 chapters in the book, but takes up the entire middle portion of the movie. It ruined the flow of the movie just so Hermoine can wear a pretty dress and yell at Ron. Thanks. And someone needed to cut Daniel Radcliffe's hair.

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire may be my favorite book in the series so it would be impossible for me not to like the movie version. This is where Lord Voldemort finally appears and that is the only thing they had to get right and they passed with flying colors. I'm pretty much rating the entire movie based on that one scene. I have that right.

9 out of 10

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

And now we come to the movie that made me a fan of the world of Harry Potter. Prior to Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, I saw the movies, enjoyed them, and then never thought about them again until I stumbled upon them on cable. I was fine with this. Then Alfonso Cuaron replaced Chris Columbus and made my favorite movie in the franchise to date.

One of the consequences of bringing on a new director with a new artistic style was many more alterations of the book. There were a ton of little nitpicks throughout the way and a few big left turns. The stuff that I notice every single time I watch include Harry using magic in the first scene of the movie. I know we need to introduce the world as soon as possible but come on! Respect the restriction on underage magic! Then you got the goofy talking shrunken heads that pop up a couple times for comedic value and nothing else. I’ll allow it. One of the biggest omissions to this point in the movies was never revealing who wrote the Marauder’s Map, which is kind of important. And the less said about bombarda the better … just unlock the window. Why must we blow up things in movies? Remember when I made fun of hugging Hagrid at the end of Chamber of Secrets? Yeah, I wish Prisoner of Azkaban brought that back instead of a broomstick freeze frame of Harry looking stupid.

Prisoner of Azkaban takes the casting to an even higher level or maybe I just love Gary Oldman a bit too much. That may be the reason. Oldman comes aboard as Sirius Black and just tears up every scene he is in. The pinnacle of this is the confrontation in the shrieking shack, which probably still stands as my favorite scene in the series. One of the reasons why is because one of the other actors in the shack is David Thewlis. Thewlis is Remus Lupin and he has always been a fantastic actor. He was able to depict Lupin as the professor that Harry trusted and learned the most from which is the key to Professor Lupin. The third big name introduced in Prisoner of Azkaban is Emma Thompson as Professor Trelawney. She’s Emma Thompson so, of course, she delivered. The last name is kind of sad because Richard Harris died in between Chamber of Secrets and Prisoner of Azkaban. This meant that Dumbledore needed to be recast, which is a goddamned big deal. Thankfully for me, they got another actor that I’m a big fan of, Michael Gambon, to fill his shoes. I prefer his more active take on the Dumbledore to Harris' still and quiet version but I may be in the minority.

I’ve already mentioned that the new cast members were one of the main reasons why I loved Prisoner of Azkaban. But it went farther than that. Cuaron’s visual style is such an improvement from Columbus that it is not even fair. He darkened the tone and had a clear color scheme throughout. It was a fantastic looking film. There were also numerous slick editing moments that just improved the whole deal. Man, I love the work that Alfonso Cuaron does in each and every one of his films. Another improvement was starting to move Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, and Emma Watson into more acting heavy scenes. This wasn’t a perfect alchemy, since Harry screaming about Sirius being his parent’s friend was his weakest acting moment in the entire series. Still, they had to start holding their own because from here on in it will just get more and more serious and emotional.

I wouldn't call Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban a perfect film but, then again, I don't have any complaints. Alfonso Cuaron is one of my favorite directors working today and he brought that skill to the Harry Potter franchise. Throw in the addition of Gary Oldman and you have the ingredients to make my favorite Harry Potter movie.

9 out of 10

Monday, November 15, 2010

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

Well because of the rules of listing, there needed to be a Harry Potter movie that ends up in last place and Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets took the honor. That doesn’t mean that it is a bad movie; it is just the only movie that felt like a sequel in the entire franchise. This might as well have been The Sorcerer’s Stone part 2 and that is a bit disappointing compared to the rest of the films.

Much like the Sorcerer’s Stone, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets does not deviate from the book in any significant way. Unless you really care about Professor Binns … now that I think about it, WHERE THE HELL IS PROFESSOR BINNS!?! Then you get the two nitpicks that I have this time around. First, why the hell do Harry and Ron talk in their own voices after getting polyjuice potioned? That defeats the purpose of having a potion that turns you into some else! If that were the case, Barty Crouch Jr. should have gone to Vegas with his Mad-Eye Moody impression in Goblet of Fire. The other nitpick will continue on for the rest of the series; Hermoine knows everything at all times. This time around she steals Ron’s dialogue from the book and explains what mudblood means. Damnit the point of the scene in the book was that Malfoy insults her and she doesn’t even know what it means! Bah. Oh wait I forgot … let’s hug Hagrid to end the movie because that makes sense. And this won’t even be the worst final scene of the series!

All of the major cast members return for their second go around. It becomes painfully obvious that Richard Harris is not a well man during the filming of the Chamber of Secrets. Sadly this would be one of his last performances. The newbies are once again high-level performers. Jason Isaacs is brought on in the important role of Lucious Malfoy. He clearly is enjoying every second of being the absolute douche bag that is Lucious Malfoy. The new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher replacement is Kenneth Branagh and he is just as annoying in the movie as Gilderoy Lockhart is in the book. And in a fun bit of casting, Toby Jones provides the voice of Dobby. What a great actor being brought in for such a ridiculous voice. Still not much to say about the kids, they get the job done without being all that memorable.

The Chamber of Secrets introduced us to the Burrow and once again the movies were able to capture the insanity of that building that the book described. That set was easily one of the best parts of the film. I also thought they did a really good job with Dobby. He may not have been on the level of Gollum but his CGIness wasn’t a distraction. And the climatic scene in the Chamber of Secrets was very well done. The young Tom Riddle who is not the young Tom Riddle in the Half-Blood Prince does provide us with the first glimpse of Voldemort setting the stage for his true introduction down the road.

Honestly, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets is the most forgettable movie in the franchise to me. Nothing distinguishes it from Sorcerer's Stone so I was happy to see Chris Columbus replaced as director moving forward. In the end, it is still a great movie but to me it just feels less special than the rest.

8 out of 10

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone

Since I’ve only watched each movie in the Harry Potter series about 100 times by now (thank you ABC Family), I think its about time for me to write some true reviews. It’s almost been a decade since Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone was released and the quality of the franchise has improved so steadily that the first couple of movies are nearly unrecognizable. Still, I love me some nostalgia so here we go.

So, I think I’m gonna skip any sort of plot breakdown for these movies. For the later installments I can start pointing out the more significant departures from the books. That isn’t really necessary for the Sorcerer’s Stone because it sticks to the book rather strictly. Outside of no Charlie Weasley, the only really omission is a couple of trials protecting the stone. So no unconscious troll and no potion bottle logic test. Ah well, major stuff will start going missing down the road so this is quite quaint.

When Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone came out there was just no idea of what we were about to get. At that point in time, it was still viewed as a children’s book series. The more adult books hadn’t been released and the phenomenon was still in its infancy. There was a very good chance that the Sorcerer’s Stone would just be a forgettable childish fluff filmed to just cash in. The first sign that this wouldn’t be the case was the their attempt to cast every single top shelf British actor. All of the major adult roles were given to people like Richard Harris, Maggie Smith, Robbie Coltrane, Fiona Shaw, Richard Griffiths, John Hurt, and Alan Rickman. This might as well have been the cast for one of Shakespeare’s plays. So even if the child actors were terrible, there was too much talent surrounding them to make a bad movie. Luckily Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, and Rupert Grint weren’t terrible but since this is about the Sorcerer’s Stone, they were still children here and just trying hard not to get in the way of the story.

The other big positive that the first movie made clear was the tone of the film. The Sorcerer’s Stone is the story of an 11-year-old going to his first year of wizard school but thankfully this didn’t mean that we were subject to cheap jokes and bright explosions. These movies have always been told in a serious tone with the magic being used as either a major plot point or just an every day task. The characters always came first and that is why the movie works. Some of the highlights of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone were all the ways that they were able to translate Harry’s wonder at being exposed to world of magic for the first time. From the introduction of Hagrid, to his trip down Diagon Alley, all the way to his arrival at Hogwarts, these were all great moments. The chess set trial was also very well done. And right from the beginning, Alan Rickman owned the role of the Snape and made it impossible to read the book without hearing his voice.

On the negative sign was that this was 10 years ago and the CGI was weak in some scenes. The centaur, troll, and Fluffy could have all looked better. And they only stand out because the rest of the movie looked so damn good. Ah well, you can’t bat a thousand.

Wow, we have go back more than a decade to think about a time where there wasn't a Harry Potter movie to anticipate. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone set the stage by taking this story seriously and making a fantastic film. Later films will have more heavy plots to deal with and better movies will be made but that is not fault of the Sorcerer's Stone.

8 out of 10

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Let Me In

All right, its Hollywood remake time. What a dirty word that gets everyone’s panties in a bunch. Let the Right One In was a fantastic Swedish vampire movie that took advantage of the vampire craze by actually making falling in love with a vampire as creepy and fricked up as it should be. Let Me In was in no way a disappointment and in fact made some improvements to the original.

Let Me In was anchored by 2 child actors who completely delivered and carried the movie. It will never happen, but Chloe Moretz should get some sort of acknowledgement as maybe the best actress of 2010. She follows up Hit-Girl with Abby and just does a grown woman’s work once again. Ah child actors being amazing then making us hold our breath as we wonder what will happen when they get older. Whereas Hit-Girl just chewed scenery, Abby was very still and calm with violent bursts. Now Kodi Smit-McPhee follows up the joyride of The Road with another turn at the disturbing. I’m kind of sad that they took away the albino aspect of the character, but Owen lived just as sad a life as the original version. I do find it amusing the bullies were so damn violent in order to set the stage for their comeuppance. Bloody bloody comeuppance.

Let Me In is just the right amount of twisted. It never went for the cheap scares while at the same time it never pulled back from the horrific scenes that were occurring. All of Abby’s feedings were just crazy violent with quick editing to make her seem supernatural. And those weren’t the only murders, everything Richard Jenkins did was just creepy as all hell. While the climatic scene was just a thing of bloody beauty. This is the type of horror movie that I'm a fan of. Any movie that makes the murder of children such an uplifting moment can take my ten dollars just for being willing to tell that story.

Its sad that Let Me In made about fifty seven dollars at the box office, while another Saw movie came out and cashed in. Damn you American viewing public.

9 out of 10

The Town

Two great movie genres are brought together in The Town; bank heists and Boston accents. Finally. And it is now quite clear that Ben Affleck needs to dedicate his professional life to directing. He is two for two and if he can make a movie that doesn’t take place in Boston … we just may be on to something here.

This time around Ben puts himself in front of the camera instead of his kid brother and steers hard into the Boston accent. In other words, this was completely inside his wheelhouse and he took advantage by giving one of the best performances of his career. But better than that, he surrounded himself with a strong core of supporting performances. How can you not look good when you are bouncing dialogue off Jeremy Renner, Jon Hamm, Chris Cooper, Rebecca Hall, Pete Postlethwaite, my man Titus Welliver, and an awesomely white trash Blake Lively. Just a phenomenal cast working with some quality material. The movie revolved around Affleck but everyone else got to play some great characters. Renner was a perfect lunatic partner. Hamm was the dick fed making you feel sympathy for the criminals. Cooper and Postlethwaite got to play the hardened crooks in Affleck’s life. And I must reiterate how much fun Lively was as the street trash that Affleck is leaving behind. Good stuff.

Now the plot was fairly obvious, but it’s a heist film and I’m not looking for a twist in every act. Just introduce the thieves, show them in action, show me the big target, watch them prep, have it all go to hell, and hopefully surprise me a bit with the ending. The Town did all of that and did it slickly. Full marks.

I could watch movies like The Town every single week. There is nothing I would change about this film. It may not be best movie released in 2010 but sometimes just being a great movie is enough.

9 out of 10

Resident Evil Afterlife

The 3 years are up so its time for a brand new Resident Evil movie. I think the breaks they take in between each mediocre entry makes the entire franchise as a whole acceptable. It never wears out its welcome and you kind of forget how forgettable the last movie was. Then again; none of the movies have been great and Resident Evil: Afterlife does nothing to change my opinion.

I wouldn’t call the Resident Evil video game series works of art, but these movies make no goddamned sense. What the hell is Umbrella doing in these movies? So they accidentally release a bioweapon causing a zombie outbreak (1), which then spreads to a city (2), and the world (3). Now in Afterlife the world is gone yet Umbrella is still killing people to create more weapons … to what end? Even if you build the perfect bioweapon, who are you going to kill with it? All they had to say is they are experimenting for a cure, but they wouldn’t even give me that. Why must stupid movies continue to be stupid?

The storylines were never important in Resident Evil. What is important is how much fun it is to watch Milla Jovovich kick ass. She does plenty of that and even gets to fight the large infected guy with the makeshift ax. That wasn’t the only new element from the games brought in for the fourth movie. They also used the weird whole head splitting open look for the infected, which is nice and disgusting. Plus we finally got both Chris Redfield and Albert Wesker. Wentworth Miller was brought in for Chris and he had the look down so points for that. As for Wesker, they took advantage of the sunglasses and glowing eyes, so if you are a details of Resident Evil fan … hooray.

I'll be there in 2013 for whatever Resident Evil subtitled movie hits theaters. There clearly is going to be more and as long as people are alive Umbrella will try to kill them and Milla will stop them and we'll all lose an hour and half of our time.

5 out of 10

The Expendables

And here is the end of the trilogy of mercenary movies; this time now with Sly Stallone. The Expendables has been coming for a couple of years now and there was no chance that it could live up to the hype. I will applaud it for taking advantage of the R rating and actually being a violent mercenary movie.

The Expendables is all about checking off all the fun names populating the cast. Stallone took his ridiculously juiced body to the next level to prove his manliness because that matters in a movie. He was Stallone … what else do you want me to say? The second name on the poster was Jason Statham and he was very much Jason Statham here. You get all the usual stuff that he is good at so no complaints. Poor Jet Li gets third billing and he barely even gets to do anything. Stay away from America; it’s no good for you. If Jet was a disappointment, Dolph Lundgren needs his own spinoff. He was awesome in every single second he was on the screen. The main villain was Eric Roberts and he has perfected this character over decades of work. Its been a awhile now, but Stone Cold finally got a decent role. Yeah he was just the lead henchman and only spoke a few lines of dialogue but it worked for this movie. I want more Steve Austin in the next decade of action movies. They got the cast right and left room for the missing action names for a sequel.

Was there a plot? I’m sure they gave of us some reason why a handful of guys needed to kill hundreds of guys in a climatic battle. Something involving the CIA, drugs, and a fake island nation … pretty much the usual nonsense. Who cares? Shit is blowing up everywhere.

I've already thought about this movie way too much. The Expendables was exactly what it was supposed to be; an over-the-top violent movie with action stars all over the place. I have no problem with a sequel happening down the road.

6 out of 10

Friday, October 1, 2010


So they went and made Machete after everyone cheered during the fake trailers of Grindhouse. I guess there have been worse reasons why a movie was made but not many come to mind. Still, Machete was just a great over-the-top movie that I can’t find too many faults with if we are just looking for a good time at the theater.

The thin premise of the Machete trailer led to an equally thin premise for the Machete movie. People love Danny Trejo so let’s make him look like a badass. There’s your movie. They worked in some sort of Mexican immigrant plot and evil politicians and law enforcement but, in the end, it was all about Danny Trejo killing dudes. So Machete tries to right some wrongs while running into a few regular Robert Rodriguez faces, like Cheech Marin, and some crazy casting choices like Robert De Niro and Steven freaking Seagal. It is exactly what you would expect from a full length Machete movie.

Who doesn’t love Danny Trejo? But be careful what you wish for because the man has gotten a bit old and moves like it. He pulls it off completely because he is Danny Trejo but the fight scenes are some old school shit with everyone moving in slow motion. This became a convergence of hilarity when he has his climatic battle with Seagal. I’m not sure if either man moved during the fight. And, obviously, Seagal dies in a way that only Steven Seagal would allow. De Niro had about the most fun I’ve seen him have in years. Don Johnson follows close behind in the scene-chewing category. I love Lapidus so it will always be a nice reward when Jeff Fahey appears. And throw in both Michelle Rodriguez and Jessica Alba looking all sexy-like and you got yourself a movie.

Machete was good times.

7 out of 10

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World

Yeah, there was a zero percent chance of me not loving Scott Pilgrim vs. the World. It’s adapted from a comic book series I’ve read with a plot heavily influenced by old school video games being directed by Edgar Wright. I was there if the rating on Rotten Tomatoes was in the negatives.

Of all the comics that have been brought to the big screen so far, Scott Pilgrim was one where I truly wondered how they were going to translate book to film. I should never have doubted Edgar Wright. This was closer to his television series, Spaced, than Shaun of the Dead or Hot Fuzz but that worked for all the weirdness that takes place in the Scott Pilgrim universe. He somehow made it work when defeated enemies turned to coins or all the scenes that take part in Scott’s head or just the fact that people are breaking into life or death fights and no one bats an eye. Although, my attention span may no longer work at such a quick pace because things moved at breakneck speed.

For reasons I don’t truly understand, some thought Michael Cera would not be able to pull off Scott. I felt he was a solid choice and brought all of his Cera-ness to the table and delivered. They didn’t make Scott as stupid as he is in the books but there were still plenty of scenes where Cera was just dumbfounded by everyday stuff. And he even pulled off all the fight scenes, which is something he has never really done before. The other major casting choice was Mary Elizabeth Winstead as Ramon Flowers and once again it worked. She nailed the distinctive look with all the crazy hair colors and the way that Ramona never really helped Scott understand what the hell was going on.

After those two, there is an avalanche of side characters and nearly everyone deserves a mention. Kieran Culkin stole every single second he was in as Scott’s gay roommate, Wallace Wells. He was easily the funniest character in the movie. Now if it was just facial expressions I would give that award to Alison Pill as Kim Pine. Who knew a person could have so many different dirty looks. Mark Webber was great as the leader of Scott’s band, Stephen Stills. Ellen Wong brought the perfect energy as Knives. It should come as no surprise that Chris Evans was easily the best of the evil ex-boyfriends. He is on an absolute tear recently. Evans was the best but Jason Schwartzman pulled off making Gideon Graves a worthwhile villain for Scott to overcome at the end. This was nearly a perfect cast.

Hooray for another movie in 2010 that I loved and no one saw. I wish a few more people saw Scott Pilgrim vs. the World ... and by a few I mean literally 3 people. That might have tripled the box office.

9 out of 10

Piranha 3D

I have bashed 3D movies all year but that ends now. Piranha 3D was a completely acceptable use of the ridiculous format because the movie knew it was a joke and just went from there. I’m crossing my fingers for a trilogy.

Do I really need to explain the plot of Piranha 3D. Earthquake, prehistoric hidden lake, piranhas, spring breakers, gore, gore, gore, cliffhanger. Good times … good times. The whole thing was an excuse to show hot chicks in bikinis then murder the hell out of those hot chicks in bikinis. That is a solid premise.

I assume there was supposed to be an emotional arc with Elisabeth Shue’s son but all I remember was lots of nudity with Kelly Brook and Riley Steele during those scenes. Then they brutally died. Aw. Going back to Elisabeth Shue, hey look, it’s Elisabeth Shue! And she brought along with her Ving Rhames and later Adam Scott. Ving is always a good time and got to kill a lot of fish before succumbing to his own brutal demise. Adam Scott is hilarious and definitely brought his full bag of comedic tricks to play here. Sadly, the final twist probably removes him from the sequel. Boo.

And that is about enough time spent on Piranha 3D. To paraphrase Dennis Green, "it was what I thought I was."

7 out of 10

Monday, September 27, 2010


Maybe if the Bourne movies didn’t exist, I wouldn’t have found Salt so hilarious at times. But that is the only thing I could think of; Salt is a dumber cousin of the Bourne franchise. Then again Angelina Jolie action star will always work in a pinch.

I love me a plot where shady Russians attack the United States. Does Salt’s story make sense, eh, not so much but it was fun for a couple hours. If I’m remembering correctly, there are dozens of Russian sleeper agents throughout the American government some going so far as to be in the highest places of power. Now wait a second … if you are able to reach the highest levels of the CIA and or Army through legit means of career advancement, why is there a need for some sort of doomsday plan? Just use your power to influence American policy and actions to reach the ends you are looking for. And I’ve now thought about this plot way too much.

Now that I’ve hurt myself thinking about Salt’s plot, let’s move on to Angelina Jolie doing what she does best. Looking good while running around and beating the shit out of people. And that is what she did for 2 hours here. There was the ridiculous, to the crazy ridiculous, to the are you freaking kidding me ridiculous. By this point, it is impossible for me to complain that a single person can outsmart, outfight, and just generally embarrass every American agency. Fine. Then when Jolie dresses up and puts make-up on and becomes a passable effeminate man that was at least something new. But the middle action sequence where she is literally hopping from roof to roof of speeding trucks at a superhighway interchange was a just a few steps too far, I just don’t buy it and it made me laugh. One of the reasons why Jolie the superheroine didn’t kill the movie for me was because the other two main actors were Liev Schreiber and Chiwetel Ejiofor. That is the type of casting that will always get me on your side. Both of them deliver their usual top-notch performance, although Liev acting shady is becoming a bit too obvious.

Still, I’d see a Salt 2 or Salt and Pepper or Salt-Free or whatever. I like action movies and this was your basic summer action movie.

7 out of 10


After Alien vs. Predator and Alien vs. Predator – Requiem, who wasn’t waiting for another sequel that takes us farther away from the awesomeness of Predator? Predators survives on pure ridiculousness of storyline and some odd but memorable casting choices. Should there be more? Why not? It’s Predator!

Before getting into all the twists towards the end of the story, Predators starts with the idea that Earth’s best, I don’t know, “warriors” are kidnapped and dropped onto a planet and hunted. All right fine, but a death row inmate armed with just his shank? A Mexican gang executioner? A Yakuza armed with just his handgun? I’m surprised there wasn’t a MMA fighter armed with just his fists. The Predators couldn’t have even left them a supply of weapons to give them some sort of chance? And, of course, the shank was eventually used on a Predator. Yeah it was. There were a series of left turns throughout the movie. First we get the introduction of the Super-Predators who fight with the regular Predators along with hunting humans. Ooooookay. Then there was the little more than a cameo by Laurence Fishburne. I only mention this because he was all over the trailers but was only in the movie for a psychotic 10 minutes. The final twist was the most obvious but it was still fun to see Topher give it his all.

And now that I mentioned Topher, I can get down to the cast. Topher was phenomenal throughout as the neurotic doctor until the end when he just started chewing scenery. If I added redneck in front of death row inmate armed with a shank, who is the fist actor that would come to mind? For me, Shane Vendrell/Boyd Crowder and lo and behold Predators did cast Walton Goggins for the role. And as usual he was the highlight of the entire movie. He is always entertaining. Just like Goggins, the casting of Mexican gang executioner just so happens to be Danny Trejo. Duh. I’ve put it off long enough. The star of Predators making him the lead badass was Adrien Brody. Wow, I did not see that one coming. And I definitely didn’t see me buying it once he was on screen with his big gun growling orders. I guess that means he is talented ... who would have thunk it?

Predators happened it almost makes up for the last 2 movies. Almost. They got back to the basics of humans getting hunted by Predators. Good times.

7 out of 10

Winter's Bone

Even when I’m not getting to the theater as much as I’d like, I still seem to find movies like Winter’s Bone. And movies like Winter’s Bone are the reason why I see movies like Winter’s Bone ... sure that makes sense. This will easily be one of the best films I see in 2010.

This was just about a flawless film. Winter’s Bone is a very simple story about a daughter searching for her deadbeat father. But that sentence does not do justice to the world that Ree Dolly lives in and navigates. It's always fun to experience a place that just never shows up in major motion pictures. The world of Winter’s Bone is a small town in the Ozark mountains and that does not seem to be a wholesome place to grow up in. Not only is it really cold but also there is some sort of redneck mafia that makes life really difficult. Ree needs to find her meth-cooking father so the courts don’t take the house the family lives in. And the people she deals with are just a murderer’s row of memorable faces and I mean that literally their faces were memorable. Of course it doesn’t get better than her uncle with the name Teardrop. Beautiful. In the end she runs afoul of the meth-cooking mafia gets her ass kicked, stands tall, and keeps her family together by any means necessary.

Jennifer Lawrence portrays Ree Dolly and she better get a nomination for her work. She carries this entire movie on her back. Jennifer goes toe-to-toe with every other actor in the film and never fails to deliver. She morphs from caregiver with her mother, brother, and sister to hardass with her uncle and lower level thugs and finishes off with scared but determined in the climatic scenes. Look I’ve held back as much as possible, but Garret fucking Dillahunt! The man plays the yellow-bellied sheriff and he is fantastic as usual. His final scene with Ree is just perfectly played. And if Garret isn’t enough, John Hawkes is the second lead as her uncle, Teardrop. Perfect. He is just on the edge in every one of his scenes. Hawkes is both terrifying and heartbreaking as he tries to deal with the realization why his brother was killed.

Winter's Bone was a phenomenal independent movie. That is all I really need to say on the matter.

9 out of 10

Sunday, September 26, 2010

The Girl with the Dragon Tatoo

My decade long obsession with the Swedish entertainment industry has finally paid off. So the entire world read The Girl with the Dragon Tatoo and it is going to be David Fincher’s next movie, but the Swedish version came first. And although I trust Fincher, the remake has a tough road ahead of it.

The book was a solid mystery and the movie doesn’t stray too far from the written version. Thankfully they didn’t shy away from the harsh plot points that are easier to write but harder to film. Wow … I’m not comfortable with the fact that I just wrote that sentence. Let’s try to dig myself out of this hole; there are some absolutely brutal scenes in this movie that are important to the character of Lisbeth. But good goddamn; I’m sure the American remake will have the rape and the rape revenge but there is no way it will be filmed as horrifically as the Swedish version. And the plot is tight and detailed in the book and even in the shortened movie timeframe the mystery can still be followed if you pay attention. Also it would help if you have 3 hours to sit still because this is a long-ass film.

It's always amusing when a foreign movie like this hits big and the names start popping up for future Hollywood movies. There are 2 main performances in The Girl with the Dragon Tatoo, Noomi Rapace as Lisbeth Salander and Michael Nyqvist as Mikael Blomkvist. Lisbeth is THE role in this trilogy and Noomi steps up to the plate. It is hard to explain her character in a sentence but she is both the most powerful and the most vulnerable person in this movie. She gets brutally raped and gets an even brutaller revenge. She has a photographic memory and uses her skills to hack into everyone's business. And because of her performance, Noomi got herself cast in the Sherlock Holmes sequel. The actual main character in The Girl with the Dragon Tatoo is Mikael Blomkvist. He is the reporter investigating the 50 year-old disappearance of a teenage girl. His part is the standard mystery performance while Lisbeth delivers all the memorable moments. Still Nygvist got himself a spot in Mission: Impossible IV so he must have done something right.

I probably didn't do justice to The Girl with the Dragon Tatoo because this was a phenomenal movie. The mystery holds up on film and Noomi Rapace was able to bring such a memorable character to life. I have high hopes for David Fincher's version.

9 out of 10

The Karate Kid

Would it have been that hard to get a hip-hop remix of “You’re the Best” during the climatic montage scenes? If you are going to remake an 80s movie, the least you could do is bring back the most memorable musical moment. Without that … I’m left quite disappointed but not angry with The Karate Kid.

Hey look it’s Jackie Chan! In some sort of weird coincidence, this may end up being Jackie Chan’s best performance in a Hollywood movie. He has been funnier and he has had better fight scenes, but Jackie actually had a well-rounded character that went through an actual emotional arc. I don’t think he has done that before with English as the spoken language. With all that, he even gave us a fun fight scene where he takes apart all of the bullies. That is a polite way of saying he beat up some kids. It’s Jackie Chan so he actually seems to be a worthy teacher as opposed to Mr. Miyagi moving in slow motion. So I’m thinking about if Jaden Smith is a step up or a step down from Ralph Macchio. There is no easy answer to the question. What is clear though is that Jaden is Will Smith’s son and he has picked up many of his father’s acting tics especially when it comes to reacting to someone like Mr. Han. At least he is an actual teenager who is very athletic so the fighting looked halfway decent.

I say halfway decent because the kids ages were a bit too young. There was no real danger with boys who were damn near pre-teens fighting each other. The cast looked good when they squared off but it felt like an exhibition when you were supposed to fear for Dre's life or at least health. The age problem also made the love story kind of hilarious. I assume they were shooting for cute but it definitely fell short of that mark every time they went back to it. Still these things did not ruin the movie but were more like nitpicks.

The Karate Kid was a solid remake when no one really asked for one. It had nothing to do with karate and was some sort of Chinese tourism advertisement but was also fun and uplifting like it was supposed to be.

7 out of 10

The A-Team

Now its time for the second attempt at the amusing band of mercenaries summer flick. The A-Team was the most known property of the three, which made it the easiest failure. Thankfully it didn’t fail but when you are shooting for fun summer movie it’s not like the target is that small.

It would be completely impossible to hate this movie simply because of Sharlto Copley. All four of the original A-Team members were memorable, but come on, Murdock! Somehow Sharlto was able to make you forget what was there 25 years ago and steal every single second of screen time. He was great to the point where I would prefer they just spin-off the sequel to just be about him. There are too many scenes to highlight but I will have them all memorized when it shows up on cable. Bradley Cooper just turned up his normal charm and called himself Face, but who doesn’t get a kick out of Cooper acting like a borderline douche. His scenes in the prison were fantastic. I don’t think I would have ever thrown out the name Liam Neeson for Hannibal. He tried but his performance was fun because it was Liam not because he was recognizable as the original Hannibal. He chewed on the cigar and said the lines and that was enough to get the point across. That leaves Rampage to take on the Mr. T role and there ya go. He was fine but Mr. T is Mr. T so you can’t really duplicate the man. In the end, I have no issues with their casting choices or the performances they delivered. They were also kind enough to throw in Jessica Biel, Patrick Wilson, and Major Dad into the mix. Good stuff.

The action was very similar to Joe Carnahan’s last movie, Smokin’ Aces. Everything is completely over-the-top from handcuffing 2 dogs to each other to the final scene where containers were being tossed around on a tanker like legos. But this is The A-Team so it worked. And he was kind enough to throw in the classic explain the mission then show the mission working sequence. I love that stuff.

There seems to be a formula brewing with Carnahan's movies and it leads to nothing more than fun. The A-Team is not deep in any sort of way. It was just a good time for a couple of hours. Who doesn't want that every once and awhile?

8 out of 10

Grown Ups

Unlike 2 years ago, I've fallen behind but I am about to catch up real quick. I will do this by cutting some of these short. First up may be the shortest:

Grown Ups is one of the lazier movies I’ve seen in a long time. At first I was going to say look at all the talented people cashing a check but … really? Everyone is cashing a check but there isn’t an award winner as far as the eye can see. Grown Ups is a bunch of friends getting together and making a movie. A very forgettable movie that I doubt I’d watch again on cable.

Sometimes it is hard to remember that I loved Adam Sandler’s movies 15 years ago. Its not like Billy Madison changed the course of cinema history but it felt like Sandler was trying. Grown Ups is just another Sandler movie that is funny while I watched it but now that I think back I don’t remember anything about it. And adding a handful of guys that I don’t have any interest in seeing in movies, Kevin James, David Spade, and Rob Schneider doesn’t help matters. I don’t even want to think about Chris Rock. One day he will top Pookie, but this wasn’t it.

There are better comedies than Grown Ups and would recommend seeking them out. I wish it would have had the common decency to at least suck instead of being boring.

5 out of 10

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

24 Lists

1. Perfect CTU

  • Division/District: Bill Buchanan
  • Director: George Mason
  • First Officer: Tony Almeida
  • Head Tech: Chloe O’Brian
  • Other Tech: Edgar Stiles
  • Head of Field Ops: Jack Bauer
  • Other Field Agent: Chase Edmunds
  • Random CTU Agent: Baker

2. Awful CTU

  • Division/District: Brad Hammond
  • Director: Erin Driscoll
  • First Officer: Dana Walsh
  • Head Tech: Jamey Farrell
  • Other Tech: Kim Bauer
  • Head of Field Ops: Renee Walker
  • Other Field Agent: Mike Doyle

3. Alt CTU

  • Division/District: Ryan Chappelle
  • Director: Brian Hastings
  • First Officer: Michelle Dessler
  • Head Tech: Adam Kaufman
  • Other Tech: Morris O’Brian
  • Head of Field Ops: Curtis Manning
  • Other Field Agent: Cole Ortiz

4. Presidents

  1. David Palmer
  2. Charles Logan
  3. Alison Taylor
  4. Wayne Palmer
  5. Noah Daniels
  6. John Keeler
  7. Hal Gardner

5. Chiefs of Staff

  1. Mike Novick (twice)
  2. Tom Lennox
  3. Ethan Kanin
  4. Wayne Palmer
  5. Walt Cummings
  6. Rob Weiss

6. Best Villains

  1. Charles Logan
  2. Habib Marwan
  3. Christopher Henderson
  4. The Drazens
  5. Nina Myers

7. Final Order for the Seasons

  1. Day 4
  2. Day 2
  3. Day 3
  4. Day 5
  5. Day 1
  6. Day 8
  7. Day 7
  8. Day 6

8. 24 Evil Pecking Order

  1. Americans (mostly white) 2 (main), 5 (main), 6 (main), 7 (main), 8 (main)
  2. Russians/Eastern Europeans 1 (main), 5, 6. 8
  3. Muslims 2, 4, (main) 6, 8
  4. Chinese 4, 5, 6
  5. Everyone else 3 (main), 7

9. My Most Hated (significant characters)

  1. Kim Bauer
  2. Martha Logan
  3. Renee Walker
  4. Dana Walsh
  5. Olivia Taylor
  6. Teri Bauer
  7. Erin Driscoll
  8. Richard Heller
  9. Allen Miliken
  10. Alberta Green

10. Dumbest Storylines

  1. Amnesia
  2. Walid
  3. Paul dies
  4. Allen Miliken
  5. Dana Walsh
  6. Cougar
  7. Chloe and the baby
  8. Maya Driscoll
  9. Kim Bauer and her psychiatrist
  10. Sexual harassment Shari

11. Jack’s Best Interrogations

  1. Syed Ali
  2. Ted Coffell
  3. Pavel Tokarev
  4. Nina Myers
  5. Tony Almeida

12. Jack's Best One Man Army Assaults

  1. Freeing the Hellers (12 dead)
  2. LA Coliseum (6 dead)
  3. Fayed’s final hiding place (7 dead)
  4. Oil platform (12 dead)
  5. All the Russians at the end of season 8 (7 dead)

13. Bloodiest Days

  1. Day 6 (49)
  2. Day 4 (43)
  3. Day 5 (38)
  4. Day 8 (35)
  5. Day 2 (28.5)
  6. Day 7 (24)
  7. Day 3 (15)
  8. Redemption (15)
  9. Day 1 (14.5)

14. Torturiest Days

  1. Day 3 (10)
  2. Day 4 (9)
  3. Day 6 (9)
  4. Day 2 (7)
  5. Day 5 (7)
  6. Day 8 (6)
  7. Day 7 (3)
  8. Redemption (2)
  9. Day 1 (1)

15. Which Main Characters Were Put to Sleep by Jack

  • George Mason
  • Chase Edmunds
  • Curtis Manning
  • Mike Doyle
  • Renee Walker
  • Bill Buchanan
  • Tony Almeida
  • Charles Logan
  • Chloe O’Brian

16. Jack Cries on Camera

  • 15 times!

17. Jack says “Damnti!”

  • 15 times!

What the hell?

18. Nuclear Bombs on American Soil

  • Season 2
  • Season 4 (nuclear power plant meltdown)
  • Season 6
  • Season 8

19. Biological Attacks on American Soil

  • Season 3
  • Season 5
  • Season 7

Sense a pattern?

20. Assassination Attempts on the President

  • Season 1 (the next President of the United States David Palmer)
  • Season 2 (David Palmer)
  • Season 4 (John Keeler)
  • Season 5 (Charles Logan not really but it was hinted that Jack would)
  • Season 6 (Wayne Palmer)
  • Season 7 (Alison Taylor)

21. Most Appearances (IMDB stats)

  1. Kiefer Sutherland / Jack Bauer (195)
  2. Mary Lynn Rajskub / Chloe O'Brian (126)
  3. Carlos Bernard / Tony Almeida (115)
  4. Dennis Haysbert / David Palmer (79)
  5. Elisha Cuthbert / Kim Bauer (79)
  6. James Morrison / Bill Buchanan (64)
  7. Reiko Aylesworth / Michelle Dessler (62)
  8. Jude Ciccolella / Mike Novick (58)
  9. Kim Raver / Audrey Raines (53)
  10. Glenn Morshower / Aaron Pierce (50)

22. Best Acting Performances

  1. Kiefer Sutherland / Jack Bauer
  2. Gregory Itzin / Charles Logan
  3. Dennis Haysbert / David Palmer
  4. Sarah Clarke / Nina Myers
  5. Jude Ciccolella / Mike Novick
  6. Xander Berkeley / George Mason
  7. William Devane / James Heller
  8. Peter Weller / Christopher Henderson
  9. James Cromwell / Phillip Bauer
  10. Mia Kirshner / Mandy

23. Who is Still Alive for a 24 Movie

  • Jack Bauer
  • Chloe O’Brian
  • Tony Almeida
  • Morris O’Brian
  • Chase Edmunds
  • Jim Ricker
  • Mike Novick
  • Aaron Pierce
  • James Heller
  • Mandy
  • Wayne Palmer(?)
  • Audrey Raines (?)
24. Who Should be Brought Back from the Dead

  • David Palmer
  • George Mason
  • Ryan Chappelle
  • Christopher Henderson
  • Curtis Manning
  • Bill Buchanan