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The Cinematic Katzenjammer: June 2012


June 30: Goon

"Labeled an outcast by his brainy family, a bouncer overcomes long odds to lead a team of under performing misfits to semi-pro hockey glory, beating the crap out of everything that stands in his way."
Directed by: Michael Dowse, Rated: R, 92 minutes

Goon has been on my radar for quite some time. I remember seeing a trailer for it months ago and for some, was very excited for it. It's surprising, because I really don't like hockey at all, and the closest I've ever come to giving a damn about it was when I was watching The Mighty Ducks when I was younger (Emilio Estevez makes everything cool). Luckily, my wait for the film paid off, as Goon certainly delivers one hell of a punch. It's funny, it's heartfelt (shocking, I know), and it's bloodier than a butcher's shop. It's a funny underdog story that just happens to be set in the hockey world and tells the story of one man trying to find his place in the world, even if it's the penalty box. 

Some call it "time-out", Doug calls it home. 

Goon tells the story of Doug Glatt (Sean William Scott), a bouncer with fists of steel and who does his job well. He's not the brightest of people, but far from stupid. He's simply, simple and goes through life with a smile on his face, loyalty to his friends, and no expectations of becoming anything great. However, when Doug gets in a fight with a hockey player at a game he's attending, he finds himself getting hired by a minor league hockey team, everything changes. He's thrown into a sport he's only been a fan of, having no idea of how to skate or even shoot the puck. He's hired muscle thrown out on the ice to rough the other team up and defend his teammates. And he does it incredibly well. An older player on a rival team, Ross Rhea (Liev Schrieber), who has been known to knock the f**k out of anyone in his way, crosses paths with Doug and the two's showdown is the big finale of the film. Goon is really all about Doug's story and the wins and loses of his team are very much background information that adds to the plot. While his team does play second fiddle to Doug's "blossoming into the ice fighter", the cast of characters that make up the team are both hilarious and fun to watch. 

This mousy little fellow (Jay Baruchel) not only produced and wrote the film, but also plays Doug's best friend, Ryan. He also provides the majority of the film's f-bombs. 

The best part of the film is that very cast, led by the terrific Sean William Scott. I fully believe that Goon is his best performance to date, which may not be saying a lot given his career, but it's still a damn good performance. His Doug is a mix between Forrest Gump and Lenny from Of Mice and Men and it's his heart and simple-mindedness that make Doug so likable. You really root for him and seeing him get beaten up is pretty hard to watch. Not to mention, the whole thing is incredibly violent and Michael Dowse's direction does not hold back showing every punch. The fights actually feel like you're watching a boxing movie and really adds a lot of authenticity to the film. Instead of just watching staged "scrapping" on the ice, you feel you're at a real game watching real players beat the shit out of each other. 

Or in the living room, watching rival siblings pummel each other. 

I would highly recommend Goon. Sure, it's violent, but it's incredibly sincere and tells a great story of a simple man finding some meaning in his life. It's an underdog story at its best, with the focus on a lovable brute as opposed to an entire team. Sean William Scott is at his best and it's great to see him in something other than his raunchy Stiffler from the American Pie movies (not that it's bad). It's by no means a perfect movie but it's certainly worth your time, even if you're no fan of hockey. Goon will make you laugh and cringe, something that's incredibly hard to do well. It's a bloody good time.

The Good:
a surprisingly heart-felt story told with just enough humor without feeling too over-the-top
The Better:
an authentic look at the brutality of the sport of hockey
The Best:
Sean William Scott in his best performance to date, taking an otherwise run-of-the-mill comedy into the realm of some of the best hockey (if not sports) movies of all time

Overall: 7.6/10


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June 29: Journey 2: The Mysterious Island

"Sean Anderson partners with his mom's husband on a mission to find his grandfather, who is thought to be missing on a mythical island."
Directed by: Brad Peyton, Rated: PG, 94 minutes

Journey 2: The Mysterious Island is a confusing movie, in that I really have no idea what audience it's made for. One moment will be filled with terribly childish jokes (even of the poop variety) and the next will have giant lizards chasing the group through a jungle. Some parts are for kids, some parts for adults, and some parts for everything in between but never truly finds its audience. Not to mention, everything happens way too fast to even realize what's going on, and I think the movie just tries to stuff in as much as it can in as little of time possible. Quite frankly, Journey 2 would have been much better as one of those interactive rides at an amusement park, where the seats shake and air puffs in your face, than an actual full length motion picture. 

Journey 2 follows Sean Anderson (Josh Hutcherson), the boy from the first film, who after getting quite the taste for adventure, decides to track down his long lost grandfather (Michael Caine), who he believes to be stranded on a mysterious island. After finding the coordinates in a cryptic message/plot device, Sean and his stepfather, Hank (Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson), take a plane to Palau, a small nation in the Pacific, and the gateway to the mysterious island. They hire Gabato (the hilariously weird Luis Guzman) and his daughter, Kailani (the very plain Vanessa Hudgens) as guides to the island. Of course, on their way, they crash land on the island and for the rest of the film, they adventure through its jungles, searching for a way home. And what's the best way to go on a journey? With hit and miss special effects, piss poor dialogue, and more slow motion than a highlight reel. 

It also has giant bumble bees you ride like... flying horses? Pegasuses? Pegasi?

As I just admitted, the special effects are all over the place. However, for the most part, they are pretty good. Sure, most of the movie is green screen, but it does utilize a handful of "live" effects that are pretty impressive. Obviously the movie is aimed to be a visual feast, and the fact it's in 3D has plenty of shit flying out at you (I'd only assume, I watched in 2D), but I believe a some of that money spent on the "pretty parts" should have been spent on the script. It's the crappy dialogue that brings down a handful of pretty good actors (Michael Caine of course, looking for an easy paycheck). The script is the victim of the film and if the movie could just be a bunch of action sequences strung together without a plot, I'm sure it would. It is worth mentioning, however, that The Rock does sing a rather interesting rendition of "What a Wonderful World" with a ukulele. 

Nothing like a nice campfire, some s'mores, and The Rock singing a cover of a Louis Armstrong classic. 

I would not immediately recommend skipping Journey 2. It's bad, but still watchable. It looks nice and it would be quite the adventure if you were the one partaking it (thus the ride reference). But it's just still too childish and messy to care about it too much. The Rock, as always, is engaging and fun to watch, but dammit the man has to get his career back on track. Kid's movies have nice paychecks, sure, but I don't want to see another movie with him running around with a bunch of teenagers. Michael Caine's presence is baffling, because he really adds very little to the film, in a role that any older actor could have played. But I guess in the end, any of the actors could have been swapped out for others, and you'd still have pretty much the same movie- a big, overambitious attempt at being some epic adventure that's waterlogged by a terrible script. 

The Good:
the special effects that, minus a handful of moments, carry the film past the line of unwatchable and into the "meh" realm 
The Bad:
a story that rushes every aspect, telling a tale of adventure, squeezing in a love story, and forcing in a step-daddy issues subplot
The Ugly:
that same rushed story told with terrible dialogue that thinks it is much smarter than it really is, and weighing down, otherwise good actors

Overall: 5.1/10


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June 28: The Artist

"Silent movie star George Valentin bemoans the coming era of talking pictures and fades into oblivion and self-destruction, but finds sparks with Peppy Miller, a young dancer lighting up talkies like no one else."
Directed by: Michel Hazanavicius Rated: PG-13, 100 minutes

The Artist is a terrific film that takes us back to the Golden Age of Hollywood and reminds us of the magic of the movies. It's beautifully filmed, with the effects and camera shots you'd find in the 20s, with great set pieces and wonderful costumes. The movie does its hardest to be authentic and does a very good job at channeling the past. It's very easy to get lost in the magic, and; The Artist genuinely feels like a classic that came out in the Great Depression era. 2011 is a great year for movies and The Artist, along with Hugo, are perfect reminders of how incredible the silver screen can be. Rich with history, classic movie references, and so much respect for the art itself, The Artist is the kind of film we need these days, with so many movies being forgettable and unoriginal. 

George Valentin (Academy Award Winner Jean DuJardin) is a washed up silent era movie star who can't make the transition into talkies. As his career is declining, the beautiful Peppy Miller (Bérénice Bejo) has her's just beginning, as she's found stardom in the era of talking movies. Contemporaries at one point, the two's careers spiral into completely opposite directions, Valentin hitting rock bottom and Miller being the Hollywood "It" girl that everyone falls in love with. Valentin struggles while Miller shines, but even after her success, Miller continues to admire the down and out Valentin. The Artist is more a story of friendship than it is of love, and while the two leads clearly feel something for each other, it's more about the human emotion, and worrying about the thought of becoming irrelevant. One does not want to wake up one day and mean nothing to the world and The Artist does a fine job showing that actually happening to a very talented man. It's a humbling experience, for both Valentin and the audience, and we're reminded that the past should not be simply swept away and replaced with the new, but should be embraced for what it is. 

And realizing that a funny walk, a face gesture, or over-sized shoes can warrant more laughs than you could ever imagine

The best part of The Artist is the cast, led by a perfect Jean Dujardin. A French actor who was practically completely unknown in America, he shines as the tragic hero and has made his mark in Hollywood. In a silent film, the power of the actor is what makes it good, and Dujardin is brilliant. Every smile, eye brow raise, and hand gesture is a complete throwback to the movies of the past, and he is very believable as a silent era star. He channels a combination of Douglas Fairbanks and Rudolph Valentino and he's absolutely amazing to watch. Of course, a leading man cannot go without a leading lady and the gorgeous Bérénice Bejo fills the role of Peppy Miller with poise and a presence you can't help but fall in love with. She is genuinely believable as an "It" girl of the past and is the film's driving force of optimism, never letting up and always hopeful. In a sense, she's the heroine to the hero and without her, The Artist would just be a glimpse into the complete downfall and destruction of one man. It's also worth mentioning the third star, Uggie the dog, who follows Valentin throughout the film, starting as his co-star in his successful pictures, and then as his only friend. 

A man's best friend, through thick and thin. 

I would highly recommend The Artist. Nothing in recent years is like it and it's in its reverence and reference to the early days of Hollywood that makes it feel fresh and original. The fact that the movie is filmed in black and white and is nearly completely silent only adds to its genuineness. Director Michel Hazanavicius does a beautiful job. It's a marvel to watch and witnessing the magic reminds you how good movies can really be. It's a movie about movies and the joy of watching and making them. It's a pleasant jump start to a hopefully new era of film where originality, heart, and incredible acting are the stars, and childish jokes, gimmicky special effects, and predicable plots fade into the past. It's about time a movie like The Artist comes along and it certainly deserves all of the recognition and awards it has received. Watch it, enjoy it, and let it remind you of the magic of the movies because, believe it or not, it's still there. 

The Good:
seeing a movie about the past, filmed in the style of the past, with the camera effects, costumes, and sets of the past, and having the whole thing still feel new
The Better:
the magic of the past renewed, giving hope of a better future in the movie world
The Best:
the two leads, both unknowns, who fit their roles perfectly and work incredibly well together

Overall: 9.7/10


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June 27: 21 Jump Street

"A pair of underachieving cops are sent back to a local high school to blend in and bring down a synthetic drug ring."
Directed by: Phil Lord & Chris Miller Rated: R, 109 minutes

21 Jump Street is easily the best comedy of the year so far and is a breath of fresh air in a Hollywood dominated by shitty Adam Sandler and Tyler Perry movies. It's raunchy and it's loud and it pokes fun at the original 1980s TV show while also making fun of the generation of dumbass high school kids who, although "environmentally aware", think the Titanic was just a movie and that the only way to communicate with one another is through an iPhone their rich parents bought them. 21 Jump Street does a great job at showing that high school is nothing like what it appeared to be in the 80s and 90s, while reminding us that some things never change (cliques, popularity wars, and of course, drug use). Led by Jonah Hill 2.0 (he lost a bunch of weight for the role) and the actual funny Channing Tatum, 21 Jump Street delivers plenty of laughs, enough surprises to keep everything from being too predictable, and a good amount of heart to make the craziness that ensues all the more relatable and human. 

And you can't talk about heart without talking about Ron Swanson (Nick Offerman) and his manly, meat-clogged arteries. Yes, he has a small role. 

The story follows Schmidt (Hill) and Jenko (Tatum), two young, fresh out of the academy police officers who want to be the hot-shot cops you see in the movies. After a complete botching of their first arrest, the partners are "demoted" to an undercover police operation, under the watchful eye of an "angry black police captain" played by Ice Cube. In the operation, they are to assume the identities of two high school kids in order to infiltrate a drug ring that is selling a nasty kind of fun to the school's teenagers. Ironically, Schmidt and Jenko went to high school together, but were in completely different leagues of each other, Schmidt being a brace-face nerd and Jenko being the hot shot star athlete. Schmidt sees this as a chance to be cool, something he was never able to be, and tries his hardest to do so. Jenko, however, finds that the changed times prevent him from doing what he did to be cool when he was in high school, and he finds himself falling down the social ladder very quickly. Schmidt has the time of his life, even falling in love with Molly, a senior in his drama class, while Jenko is learning what covalent bonds are in his chemistry class. 

Because clearly folks, Tatum is awful at chemistry. 

Speaking of which, Hill and Tatum have great chemistry together and work off each other incredibly well. Hill proves to be the "veteran" in the funny department, but Tatum holds his own, proving that he needs to be utilize in comedies, as opposed to his romantic lead/dramatic dancer roles. I genuinely enjoy watching the two work off each other and the possible lead in to a sequel makes me excited that I can see them together again. The rest of the cast is filled out nicely as well, with small parts for Chris Parnell (SNL), Rob Riggle (The Daily Show), Ellie Kemper (The Office), and James Franco's little brother, Dave, all of which are recognizable but no too big of a star to steal the thunder from the leads. There is also a pretty interesting cameo by Johnny Depp, who starred in the original TV series, and even returns to the same role that first put him on the cover of Tiger Beat magazine. Along with the great cast, 21 Jump Street has a solid script. The movie was actually a "passion" project for Jonah Hill and he not only produced it, but also wrote the story. It's in this enthusiasm you can tell that the script was written with a smart approach, and is what elevates the movie to the well above-average comedy. It's also nice to see Hill slimmed down for a role. It's a fresh look at the actor and helps make him a more believable lead. 

See? There is hope for everyone... if you have millions of dollars. 

As you can assume, I would definitely recommend 21 Jump Street. It's fun, hilarious, over-the-top just enough, and stars two guys who clearly have fun work together. Whenever you can watch actors enjoying themselves, as opposed to acting for a paycheck, it's much more entertaining. It should also be pointed out that the jokes are not all the same, given out over and over. There is a good blend of physical and verbal humor as well as a bunch of laughs from a bit of the unpredictable. I liked this movie a lot more than I thought I would and honestly do want to see more of the characters. 

The Good:
a good script that's not stupid, nor insults the intelligence of the audience like most recent comedies do
The Better:
Channing Tatum in a comedic role- a place he's much more comfortable in than the crappy sappy shit he makes
The Best:
Tatum and Jonah Hill's chemistry that is solid as hell by the film's end, leaving you wanting more of their "adventures"

Overall: 8.0/10


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June 26: Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows

"Sherlock Holmes and his sidekick Dr. Watson join forces to outwit and bring down their fiercest adversary, Professor Moriarty."

Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows does as much as it can to build off of the first entry that came out three years ago. It's bigger and bolder and takes Sherlock Holmes and Watson on quite the adventure throughout all of Europe. Introducing Mycroft Holmes (British icon Stephen Fry) and Moriarty (Mad Men's Jared Harris), A Game of Shadows expands on the universe created by the always awesome Guy Ritchie, incorporating all sorts of characters, places, and events that encompassed the beloved Sir Arthur Conan Doyle novels. It's fun, it's dramatic, and it's entertaining.

And it features a little bit of Rachel McAdams (thus, obligatory picture). 

The story follows Holmes (Robert Downey Jr.) and Watson (Jude Law) as they uncover a sinister plot by the evil genius Dr. James Moriarty that will ignite a universal war in Europe. Moriarty, in fact, has elaborately planned the assassination of a European leader that would start the war, while stockpiling arms, ammunition, and medicine in order to profit off of the war, making him damn stinky rich. Holmes and Watson get the help of the gypsy Simza (Noomi Rapace), who's brother has been caught up in Moriarty's plot. The group's investigation leads them throughout all of Europe and ends up being a race against the clock to prevent their continent falling into chaos and destruction. The plot is not the most original, or even that unpredictable, but the ride is fun and allows you to forgive the story. A lot of the story is reminiscent of the first film, but as I said, it's bigger, bolder, and with a lot more slow-motion. Seriously, there is A LOT of slow motion. I understand it's part of capturing Sherlock's insane attention to detail and perceptive abilities, but if you took out all of the slow motion, the film's run time would probably be at least ten minutes shorter. Regardless, the problems I have with the movie are small enough to ignore, and I still enjoyed the movie a lot.

This sequence is great, but the film-makers turn 45 seconds of footage into a 5 minute "chase" scene. 

Overall, I would definitely recommend Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows. Especially if you were a fan of the first one; you will certainly enjoy the sequel. It's the chemistry between Downey Jr. and Law that makes the movie great, and I could watch the two of them banter, argue, and fight together over and over. Their work together is marvelous and it's become more of a buddy "cop" kind of film than it is a Sherlock-focused movie. One would think this would be disappointing because Sherlock is the title character, but you can't have one without the other. It's also nice to see the introduction of Mycroft Holmes and Moriarty and, while I would have preferred a bigger name in the role of Moriarty, Jared Harris does a fine job...even if I can't stop thinking of him as Lane Pryce. 

The Good:
an incredible cast that works beautifully together and reside in a universe that would be hell of a good time to live in
The Better:
seeing Sherlock and Watson on another adventure, even if parts of it feel recycled and over-used
The Best:
The chemistry between Downey Jr. and Law and their budding "bromance" that takes the series to another level 

Overall: 7.7/10


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June 25: Hostel: Part III

"While attending a bachelor party in Las Vegas, four friends are enticed by two sexy escorts to join them at a private party way off the Strip"

Hostel: Part III is a bloody mess that leaves you disappointed. Sure, the first two entries weren't masterpieces and one would think they would not be the hardest acts to follow, but HP3 really doesn't even come close. The appeal, if you will, of the first two films is that they are genuine "torture-porn" movies that show a hell of a lot of skin and even more blood and gore. Yes, it's f**ked up saying that is the appeal, but it's true. People like seeing other people murdered in an over-the-top fashion. It's disturbing, it's nothing you'd see in every day life, and it's creepy. It's entertainment at its worst (and best), and I don't mind saying I appreciate when a film can push, nay, rape the limits of what is acceptable. But, when you have a film like HP3 that follows two movies that have their way with the limits pushed, there is a lot to expect. Hostel: Part III absolutely fails in the gore department, and each torture scene uses little zip-lock pouches of blood instead of buckets and buckets. 

Good for Dexter, bad for Hostel. 

HP3's plot is actually pretty decent, given the fact it's an extremely low budget horror movie. I was very weary that the movie might follow a similar approach to The Human Centipede, where everything is just too f**ked up to even give a damn about, but HP3 actually has a handful of twists that keep everything interesting. I can honestly say I was surprised by a couple of them, and whenever a movie can trick me into thinking something else, I have to give it props, even if it's an overall terrible movie. The story follows a bunch of twenty something guys who head to Vegas for a bachelor party for one of the fellas. The group soon find themselves wrapped up in a very dark "game" and are all either kidnapped or drugged, then brought to a warehouse club where rich people pay to watch others murdered. They bet on the weapon the murderer will use, how long the victim will last, and even what they'll say before their throats are slit, their faces cut off, or even shot a dozen times with a crossbow. What ensues is a struggle to survive, as the captured fight for their lives while trying to figure out any way to get out of the torture dungeon.

Actually, it's less dungeon, more f**ked up hospital on a reality TV show. 

I really wouldn't recommend Hostel: Part III. The franchise, on its own, is nothing special, and Part III certainly doesn't help that case. It lacks the graphic ew factor the first two movies had, while clearly being made on a much lower budget. Plus, Eli Roth is no longer at the helm, having previously directed Part I and II. His style and finishing touches would maybe have brought HP3 into a more watchable state but, alas, he is nowhere present this time around. The movie also starts off pretty strong, building a somewhat original story, but it gets disgustingly bad as it progresses. The ending is one of the worst, far-fetched, ridiculous things I have seen in a long time and while it tries to be "fresh" it comes off as just too absurd. However, it's certainly not bad enough to the point I could call it unwatchable, but it still really isn't worth your time. Go watch the f**ked up, creepy as hell French movies Martyrs and Inside, if you really want a blood and gore fix. They hold nothing back on either of those. 

The Bad:
a movie advertised for it's shock factor that is completely lacking of said "shock"
The Worse:
a story that starts off decently strong, but follows with a terrible second and third act
The Worst:
wondering why American horror movies can't push it further like foreign horror, and wondering if that's a good or bad thing

Overall: 3.5/10


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June 24: Moonrise Kingdom

"A pair of young lovers flee their New England town, which causes a local search party to fan out and find them."

I am a huge fan of Wes Anderson and every single one of his films. I especially love Rushmore, Fantastic Mr. Fox, and even the underrated The Darjeeling Limited. He has a very unique approach to his movies, painting them as almost live-action storybooks, with vibrant colors, beautiful sets, and characters that are a little too over-the-top for the real world. He is certainly an acquired taste and many may find his movies to be a little too odd, but each one is its own work of art, and Moonrise Kingdom is no exception. In fact, it's one of Anderson's strongest, most imaginative films. 

The story follows Sam and Suzy (newcomers Jared Gilman and Kara Hayward), two young lovers who decide they have had enough with their families and friends and decide to run away together. The only thing, however, is that they are situated on a 16 mile island and don't have the widest of spaces to run off to. The runaways cause quite the ruckus in the small island community and everyone, from the only police officer, Captain Sharp (Bruce Willis), to a dedicated, yet confused Khaki Scout Master Ward (Edward Norton), join in the search for the two secret lovers. And thus, Moonrise Kingdom plays out in glorious fashion, mixing romantic and comedic themes, while interlacing a somewhat violent manhunt, as though the runaways are fugitives eluding capture. The shakeup of themes leads to a rather unpredictable story and makes it all the more enjoyable. 

Can't mention a Wes Anderson movie without talking about the good music, which also creates one of the most unique end-credit experiences. 

I would highly recommend Moonrise Kingdom. I am very sad to see the film is in such limited release, as a wider audience should have access to this work of art. Moonrise Kingdom has incredible attention to detail and each shot is set up beautifully, with each set constructed with great care and precision, each item and background creating another layer to this imaginative love story. The cast is flawless, and; Anderson was able to get two terrific performances out of the two leads, who both show signs that they certainly have what it takes to make it in Hollywood. The movie also features Bill Murray and Jason Schwartzman (two Anderson staples) as well as Frances McDormand, Harvey Keitel, and Tilda Swinton. Wes Anderson continues to make magic in his movies and I eagerly anticipate whatever he has for us next. Watch Moonrise Kingdom, you won't regret it.

The Good:
such attention to detail that you can watch the movie several times and still miss little aspects
The Better:
a great script that is in true Anderson form, blending romantic, funny, and even dark themes to create a vibrant, colorful world and cast of characters
The Best:
that very cast, with each actor fitting his/her perfectly and showing that Anderson really does get the best performances out of everyone he works with

Overall: 9.2/10


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June 23: Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter

"Abraham Lincoln, the 16th President of the United States, discovers vampires are planning to take over the United States. He makes it his mission to eliminate them."

Yes, I actually went to the theaters and saw Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter and yes I enjoyed the hell out of it. I even paid to see it in 3D because I wanted to get even more "involved" in this bloody fictional history lesson. It's a ridiculous premise executed with style and a crap ton of slow motion, but dammit I really liked it. Vampire Hunter had been one of the more under the radar movies I had been anxiously looking forward to and I am very glad I went to see it. Sure, it has many, many flaws and is far from being anything perfect, but is saved by it's campy special effects, awesome violence, and a damn good performance by Benjamin Walker (who looks like a young Liam Neeson) as Honest Abe. 

Like a young Oskar Schindler liberating the souls of the undead.

The plot is fairly unique, using historical events as a backdrop for a mess of conflicts with the undead. Abraham Lincoln witnesses a vampire murder his mother and swears to avenge her death by any means necessary. He's recruited by Henry Sturgess (the underrated Dominic Cooper), a man with his own mysteries who trains Lincoln in the art of vampire hunting. Thus, after weeks of training (because who needs more than a month learning the art of killing the undead?), Lincoln heads to Springfield, IL to begin his new vocation. With each blood sucker destruction, Lincoln grows stronger and wiser, eventually finding a place in politics, where he plans on using his words instead of his silver-laced ax. Randomly jump 30 years into the future, when Lincoln is president and is at the eve of the Civil War. Adam (Rufus Sewell), an ancient vampire has allied himself and his army of undead soldiers with the Confederacy. Thus, a battle on every front ensues and Lincoln, as well as the entire nation, have a personal stake (no pun intended) in the conflict. 

"Johnny Reb and the Confederate Dracula: A Novel" by Confederate President, Jefferson Davis

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter is campy fun. You really can't go into it thinking it will be a masterpiece because, hello?, the premise has one of our greatest presidents slaying vampires. Sure, it's pacing is pretty bad (a lot of substance in certain areas is missing) and the dialogue seems like it was ripped from the best-selling book and kind of missed the transition to the screen. Not everything that sounds great in a novel sounds great when actually spoken aloud, but a few lines slip through that are fairly awesome. Overall, I'd definitely recommend Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, but I would suggest skipping the 3D. I feel a lot of the action would look a lot better in standard 2D and my eyes got a little tired by the film's end. Still, it's worth a watch and even if it fails miserably at the box office, it has all of the elements to be one hell of a cult classic. 

The Good:
Benjamin Walker kicking so much ass in the vampire hunting department and giving chills with a powerful presence as President Lincoln
The Bad:
a plot that jumps ahead too quickly and too often, not giving quite enough investment into building the relationships between the characters
The Ugly:
an overall seriousness to the film that tries to make itself much more of a historical drama than a historical action movie with a bunch of bloody bits

Overall: 7.4/10


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June 22: Ghostbusters

"Three unemployed parapsychology professors set up shop as a unique ghost removal service."

Ghostbusters is not only a classic, it's one of the best comedies of all time. It's been quoted, spoofed, and referenced over and over and has spawned a sequel, a cartoon series, an iconic theme song, and plenty of merchandise. It features Bill Murray and Dan Aykroyd in arguably their best roles (at their prime) and blends the supernatural with the super funny in glorious fashion. Not to mention, Ghostbusters features a giant, evil marshmallow man that arrives at the movie's conclusion, wrecking havoc on New York City. That alone would make a movie for me, yet Ghostbusters goes above and beyond just the "usual" massive s'more. 

Life tip: Use Reese's Peanut Butter Cups instead of chocolate for s'mores. It's GLORIOUS. 

Ghostbusters is so good, every line and special effect clings to your memory, never to be forgotten or trumped. The story follows Dr. Peter Venkman (Murray), Dr. Raymond Stantz (Aykroyd), and Dr. Egon Spengler (Harold Ramis), three professors turned supernatural researchers, who, after losing their jobs, start a ghost hunting and capturing business. Venkman joins mostly for the franchising opportunities and possible fortune to be made (and the ladies), while Stantz and Spengler are much more serious about their new "calling". Their business proves very successful and the trio become quite the celebrities. With their growing attention comes investigation, and the new business is threatened to be shut down by the EPA, as their proton packs (devices used to capture ghosts) are believed to have possible negative effects on the environment. When the Ghostbusters discover that a portal to another dimension has been opened in the apartment of poor Dana (Sigourney Weaver), threatening to unleash a great evil on the world, the crew takes it into their hands to save the city and show that they are a much greater good than bad to the world. 

Even though they kind of look like super villains. 

There's really not a lot I can say about Ghostbusters that hasn't been said already by someone, somewhere. It's a universally loved film seen by practically everyone and is certainly deserving of all the praise it has been given. It's smart, side-splitting funny, and continues to entertain new and old audiences. Bill Murray certainly steals the show and practically ever line uttered from him is comedic gold. His dead-pan humor is beyond genius and Ghostbusters is one of the first films to show he is most definitely a national treasure. I cannot recommend Ghostbusters enough and if for some weird, inexcusable reason you haven't seen it already, go buy it immediately. 

The Good:
campy but brilliant special effects for its time (1984)
The Better:
a memorable cast that has perfect chemistry and shows you how fun it must have been to make a movie with your friends
The Best:
Bill Murray being Bill Murray and proving to everyone that he is the greatest comedian of all time (yes, I am being that bold)

Overall: 9.6/10


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June 21: Godzilla

"A enormous, radioactively mutated lizard runs rampant on the island of Manhattan."

Looking back, it's sad that I liked Godzilla when I was a kid. I can only imagine I was enamored by the fact that a giant lizard was roaming the streets of New York City solely on the fact that I was quite the dinosaur nerd. Nonetheless, I had a horrible taste in movies when I was younger and if I was ever able to get behind the wheel of a Dolorean, I'd go back in time and slap some sense to myself. Godzilla is very, very bad. It's campy without the cheese (the good kind) and it is so poorly written I can only assume the script came to be after a round-table discussion post-snack time in a Kindergarten class room. 

Ms. Hunt's Kindergarten class filed suit against TriStar and Sony for their lack of screen credit, but the children quickly lost interest (and energy) and were put down for a nap.

Godzilla has the classic movie monster making its way to New York City. Of course, being a monster from Japan, it's only logical that its American landing spot would be on the east coast. I can only assume San Francisco politely turned away the mega-beast and gave it directions south towards Panama. Nick Tatopoulous (Matthew Broderick), or "the worm guy" as he is called in the movie, is hired by the government to investigate the makeup and behavior of this radiated behemoth. After it's arrival, while smashing through the city like an angry sister knocking over her brother's Lego sets, Nick discovers that Godzilla is pregnant. Yes, a classic movie monster that's wrecked havoc for decades is "with child" and it's up to Nick and the good ol' American government to track the beast and its nest, and rid the Big Apple of its reptilian infestation. Throw in a bunch of unnecessary, dated, jokes as well as a very weak romantic subplot and Godzilla makes for an all-around awful movie experience. Hell, even the special effects aren't terrific. 

Godzilla- 1998
Jurassic Park- 1993

As you can tell above, Godzilla looks like the bulky plastic toy that hurts like f**k when you accidentally step on it walking to the bathroom at night. And heck, that's what watching the movie even feels like. It's obnoxious and unnecessary and should be left in the past to rot away into nothing. It has probably one of the worst scripts I have ever seen (I guess heard?) in a movie and its sad attempt to be some dramatic end of the world epic fails at every single level. Even Ferris Bueller can't save it. Skip it and watch Jurassic Park instead. Or even draw a picture of a giant lizard and carry it around your house "roaring" like the beast you just illustrated, and you'd have a hell of a lot more fun. 

The Bad:
a piss-poor combination of unfunny jokes, ridiculous happenings, and "big" budget effects
The Worse:
raping a classic creature with an unnecessary injection of America
The Worst:
a script so bad and so disgusting the screenwriters should have been immediately fired and banned from every working again

Overall: 2.4/10


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