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Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Monsters University (2013) - Review

Mike and Sully are back and this time they are in college.  Instead of a sequel, we get to see how they came to be the monsters we saw in Monsters Inc.

Sequels are a tricky thing.  Prequels are much trickier.  Surprisingly, Monsters University delivers one of the best prequels I can remember.  It avoids the prequel pitfalls and although not as fresh as its predecessors, it does a good job creating a worthy back story for the characters you enjoyed from the first without relying on too many references to the original that could have made it stale.

Where most followups (both prequels and sequels) jack up the volume of jokes, effects, etc., the story is here is much smaller and safer.  That is a good thing, we are spared a parade of familiar characters (that have no reason to be in the film) and the lazy repetition of gags we have seen before.  Bigger doesn't always make it better.

The film really does play like a first entry and can completely stand on its own.  If you have never seen either Monsters film you can easily start with this one and not miss a beat.  There are plenty of laughs, some heart felt moments and its full of great visuals from beginning to end.  Even though the climax does not meet the same level of enthrallment and as a whole it does run a little longer than it needs, it is satisfying and should entertain all audiences
7 out of 10

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Spike Lee's "Oldboy" Remake Trailer

Much too the chagrin of fans, the Spike Lee remake of the cult classic film "Oldboy" is well beyond being cancelled. So much so, here is the trailer. Check it out. Voice your opinion. Does it stay true to the original? What do you think of the casting? Will you see it?

Monday, July 8, 2013

Jack Reacher (2012) - review

Coming into this film with absolutely no knowledge of the character (it turns out that Jack Reacher is a character in a series of books) or even what the film was about, I found the film to be a pleasant surprise.  A thriller with an old school vibe to it.

When a sniper takes out several people, drifter, Jack Reacher, played by Tom Cruise, comes to town and searches for the truth behind the crime.  No, he is not a cop or a detective, he is a former military police corps officer who uses his intellect and ability to hand out some ass-whoopings to get the needed answers.

It felt familiar in many ways, nothing too new here, but that doesn't mean it is bad.  I enjoyed Cruise's performance, he is tough, smart with a good dose of wise ass.  Even knowing that he is barely over five feet tall, I believed him in the fights scenes and more importantly during scenes when he would have to intimidate just through words and body language.   Another aspect of the film that i found refreshing was the both the fights and action seemed to be rooted in reality.  Far too often we are force fed CGI extravaganzas, extended car chases or impossible fights scenes - this film steered away from that delivering believable action.

If you are looking for something completely original, look elsewhere.  If you are looking for a solid thriller that will entertain without making you try to hard, this should do.

7 out of 10

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

American Reunion (2012) - review

The gang from American Pie is back (again) for a high school reunion that, to their credit, feels much like a real life reunion.  By that I mean, you reminiscence about how great the past was, then when you are actually in the room with everyone you realize you have grown up, moved on and for the most part it is best to keep the past the past.

The film deserves props for the incredible job reuniting the characters with all the same worn out jokes they have used since the first film.  Besides their overly familiar and unwelcome jokes the rest of the film is strung together crude humor and misunderstandings.  Funnier than the jokes are the pathetic ways they find to crowbar original characters into the film.

If they decide to do another sequel to this film in 30 years I am sure they will find another improbably way to write in Jim's Dad (Eugene Levy) alive or not.  If it is up to them there will be multiple sequels, by the end of the film we are threatened with not just another high school reunion, but a yearly reunion.  Looking at the flailing careers of the cast I am sure fans of the series can look forward to follow-ups for years to come, just make sure you check the direct-to-dvd listings.

If I were you I would throw the invite to this reunion in the garbage.

3.5 out of 10

If you do not want to waste two hours (yes, it is nearly two hours long) and have a couple laughs, take a closer look at the poster.  Photoshop at its worst.  I could do a better job making a movie poster with photos that were never intended to be combined.  Actually, I think I did, here (shameless self-promotion.)

Monday, July 1, 2013

Dark Shadows (2012) - Review

The returns on the Tim Burton/Johnny Depp collaborations are shrinking by the outing.  This vampire tale had a great deal of previous material to work with going in, but no clear solution what to do with it.  The story is of Barnabas, a vampire imprisoned in his coffin for hundreds of years by a jealous witch, who is accidentally set free and unleashed on the 1970's.  Sounds like a the premise for some great hijinks.  Unfortunately it is unsure of what kind of film it wants to be.  Part horror, part comedy with zero luck blending the two genres.  It also lacks lacks an interesting storyline or much else to latch onto.  A few years back Tim Burton's name on a film used to mean "must see," lately that has transitioned to "must rent... to be let down in the comfort of my own home."  4.5 out of 10