Tuesday, June 8, 2010

About movie reviews...

It's been raining here. A lot. The area's reservoirs are at 100 percent capacity, a rarity even in the sopping Pacific Northwest.

But all this rain has been good for one thing--I have seen LOTS of movies lately and in turn can spread the word about what's hit and what's miss. Yay for you!

Be sure to check out movie reviews weekly at Chic Mom Magazine (.com!). This week's new releases (DVD) include Shutter Island and The Wolfman, as well as theatrical release Get Him to the Greek

And if you haven't seen Invictus, about the South African rugby team fighting against insurmountable odds in the tinderbox of a post-apartheid country, you MUST. Morgan Freeman and Matt Damon are effing AMAZING.

For the kiddos: 

Shrek the Final Chapter is worth the price of admission--another of those "don't know what you got until it's gone" stories, but a fun romp nonetheless. Who doesn't love that big green ogre?

How to Train Your Dragon -- adorable! Loved it! I might be partial because I'm a closet dragon nerd, but whatever. It was clever, quick, and funny. And my 5-year-old sat through the whole thing without begging to go home. That's an impressive endorsement. 

Alice in Wonderland -- Not sure if this is really a kids' film, but my kids loved it. Then again, my kids are pretty sophisticated movie watchers. Favorite movies for them before age five included Lord of the Rings and Nightmare Before Christmas. So...Johnny Depp is terrific, as usual, and the visuals are stunning. This is one film I wished I would've seen in the theatre, simply to see all those colors on that ginormous screen.

Here are a few QUICKIE REVIEWS that didn't make it into last week's posted review online (these titles are DVD new releases from the last few weeks):

Uncertainty—Joseph Gordon Levitt, Lynn Collins: Strange little film. The story of a young couple faced with a major decision: she’s pregnant, they’re young and broke, just starting their lives in the Big Apple. The approach taken by the filmmaker was unique. You are presented with two scenarios—Yellow and Green—and the story details what would happen to Kate (Collins) and Bobby (Levitt) depending on which path they chose. The paths are divergent: green is safe, a day spent with Kate’s family at a 4th of July barbeque. Yellow, however, is a whole different ball game after the couple finds themselves in possession of a cellphone that some very angry, very well-armed men want back. (This path is really the one that gives the film its legs—green is flat and sort of boring. Something is missing.) If you’re a film purist, you will enjoy this movie for what it is—a film lover’s film. There was no scripted dialogue; the actors were given a scene and they worked it out between themselves. From that perspective, it is an impressive piece of work as Levitt is a sublimely talented actor, and Collins is great as his opposite. But if you’re less prone to watching avant-garde practice on screen, you might find the premise a little too much, a little too off-putting. It’s not your typical date-night fare, for sure, but if you’re feeling adventurous, it’s worth a shot.

Dear John—Amanda Seyfried, Channing Tatum: The truth? Boring, cliché. Even though this story is from the same guy who wrote The Notebook, at least that film had some oomph to it. Noah and Allie had killer chemistry, and their characters were larger than life (as was the real off-screen romance between Rachel McAdams and Ryan Gosling). But Dear John’s romantic couple, John and Savannah, lack the same powerful connection, the same urgency in their relationship. Yeah, it’s a war story—they meet, fall madly in love after just two weeks, but he’s got to do his tour of duty as an Army guy.  The two of them agree to stay together over John’s year of playing GI Joe and Savannah’s year at university. But when his tour is just about up, 9/11 hits, and all bets are off. John’s unit re-ups their commitment, which means he has to do the same (it’s an honor thing among soldiers), and Savannah is left on the homefront to sit with her candle in the window and hope he survives. They write back and forth constantly, but when the stream of letters from home begins to wane, John suspects the inevitable. Savannah has moved on. The only saving grace with this film is the unexpected twist toward the end. And of course, happy endings are never in short supply with a Nicholas Sparks’ lovefest. Enjoy, but don’t expect the searing intensity of The Notebook.

Daybreakers—Ethan Hawke, Sam Neill, Willem Dafoe, Claudia Karvan: More vampire fare? Noooo! But wait—it’s okay—this isn’t a romantic tour of adolescence, no one sparkles, and human blood is always on the menu. Fast forward to 2019: the world has flipped on its head. A plague has turned everyone vampire, and if you’re not a vampire, then you’re among the dwindling 5 percent of remaining humans who is likely hanging from a scary tower of medical tubes while they drain the last drops of precious hemoglobin from your still-living body. Ethan Hawke plays human-sympathizing hematologist Dr. Edward Dalton who’s been charged with finding a blood substitute to deal with an impending global blood-shortage crisis: the humans are running out, and running dry. And if a vampire does not get a minimum daily intake of human blood, creepy things start happening to their bodies, and eventually they morph into sadistic, unrecognizable monsters. But when Dr. Dalton comes across a small group of human survivalists, including Elvis (Willem Dafoe) and Audrey (Claudia Karvan), they embark on a mission to reverse the vampirism and save the world from imploding on itself. This is a taut, suspenseful film, the evil pharmaceutical head played by the always-charming Sam Neill, that will give the horror lovers plenty to nosh on. Early buzz about this film touted it as an allegory for modern society’s voracious appetite for natural resources, and it may have served that purpose if it weren’t for the ending. Note to directors Michael and Peter Spierig: less is more. There was one point where I thought perhaps they had production assistants standing off camera just throwing buckets of fake blood onto the melee happening in the shot. Pretty silly. Overall, this is an okay film with a cool premise and a strong cast. It was worth the cost of the rental.

And as a final note…I tried, really tried, to watch Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, especially since I, like many others, love(d) Heath Ledger, Johnny Depp, Jude Law, and Colin Firth, but I couldn’t get through it. Too weird. And for kids’ fare, Tooth Fairy (Dwayne Johnson, Julie Andrews, and Ashley Judd) should’ve been a TV movie instead of a theatrical release. Gave me a toothache.

There are a number of really amazing films coming out in the next few months, but if you want the drop on what's on the cinematic horizon, Apple's Web site has trailers galore and is one of my favorites. Check it out at http://trailers.apple.com/, and of course, check back at ChicMomMagazine.com for my latest reviews!

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