The Call

The Call Review

The Call

I was actually semi-surprised by The Call, I was honestly expecting to completely hate it and want to smash my TV after I watched it.

But I didn’t hate it and definitely didn’t smash my TV, despite this being a “WWE Studios” film, which are notoriously horrible.

Unlike most WWE Studios films, this one had some actual star power in Halle Berry and Abigail Breslin — that didn’t stop them from adding in wrestler-turned-quasi-actor David Otunga, and round out the cast with a bunch of relative unknowns.

The premise of the movie sounded enticing, which is why I decided to give it a viewing last night.  A 911 operator takes a call from a girl that’s been kidnapped and is in the trunk of a car.  After a bad experience with a similar situation months earlier, Halle Berry‘s character Jordan takes the reigns on the phone and tries to help Abigail Breslin‘s Casey escape.

A solid concept for the story, and one that I enjoyed.

Abigail Breslin gives a riveting performance as the girl who thinks she’s about to die.  At some times I almost believed she was really in danger.  Her screams were deafening at times, but I enjoyed it.

Halle Berry is equally as great as she always is.  She conveys a pain from her character that you’d expect, given the situation she’s placed in.

My favorite part was towards the end.  Without giving anything away (though you can probably guess what happens), I enjoyed the last few minutes quite a bit.  It was a nice change to see it end the way that it did.

I also quite enjoyed the way it was filmed.  It’s hard to explain but during key points in action shots, the video freeze frames for a second right before something’s about to happen, almost like a teaser of “this guy’s going to do something right now!”  I quite liked that. It wasn’t something I’ve often seen in other movies.

Would I recommend The Call? Sure.  If you’re at home on a weekend and want to grab something mindless but fun from Redbox or Netflix, have at it. It’s a great hour and a half.

  This Is 40

This Is 40 Review

This Is 40

I don’t want to say that I was disappointed by This Is 40, because I’m not a huge fan of Judd Apatow (though I did love The 40 Year Old Virgin).  I will, however, say that I wasn’t as impressed with This Is 40 as I thought I would be, based on all the positive reviews.

Sure, I identified with a lot of the storyline, a lot of the bits, and most of the jokes.  And yes, I laughed out loud a few times, in very short bursts of laughter.  Was I rolling around crying with my sides hurting? No.  But that’s not what Judd Apatow movies are all about — at least not for me.  While surely funny, his movies have more heart than humor.  I absolutely loved Funny People, despite not many people liking it.

Paul Rudd is his usual awkward, yet hilarious self.  We don’t see anything new or ground breaking from him here, but we still get our typical laughs out of him.

Leslie Mann is great, as she always is.  Just the right amount of “I’m funny” mixed in with “I’m a serious actress” to balance it all out, and not be too much of either.

Apatow’s kids, Maude and Iris, are growing into fine young actors. Which they should, since their dad’s been putting them in movies since they were tiny children.  Maude, especially, is really becoming quite an actress, and stole a few scenes from those that she was acting with.

Overall I enjoyed This Is 40. I wouldn’t say it was the best movie I saw this year, not by a longshot. But it was still good for a few hours at the movies, laughing with those around you (even if the theater was mostly empty on Christmas Eve.)

  Friends Giveaway!

Our friends over at Warner Brothers are giving away some limited edition special prizes just for checking out the video below!

Want to win a Friends prize pack including two Friends mugs, and a limited edition picture frame exactly like the one that hung over Monica’s door?  Just drop a comment on this post, and you’re entered! Winner will be picked at random on December 5th, 2012.

Also be sure to check out the Friends weekly trivia game!

And be sure to get your copy of the Friends: The Complete Series on Blu-ray, available now at any reputable retailer!

  The Awakening

The Awakening Review

The Awakening

If you’re interested in seeing The Awakening, you’ll likely read how it takes bits and pieces from The OthersThe Sixth Sense, and countless other suspenseful types of movies over the last few decades.  You’ll also likely read that it isn’t very original, and that people may have not liked it.  I’m here to tell you that those people couldn’t be more wrong.  Sure, it pulls from other movies from the genre.  How can you not? More or less everything’s been done over the last few decades, it’s tough to come up with any new ideas that don’t have a hint of another film in them.  That’s near impossible.

The Awakening, I’d go as far as saying, is fantastic.  I loved it.  Perhaps it’s because I’ve loved Rebecca Hall since The Prestige.  Perhaps it’s because I was dying to figure out what was actually going on the entire time.  I kept thinking I had it all figured out, and then it turned out I was wrong.

I think the reason some people didn’t like this movie is because they expected to be scared out of their minds the entire time.  And that’s not what The Awakening is meant to do.  Sure, it’s a “ghost story” in the traditional sense, and that’s how it’s been billed in the (limited) trailers I’ve seen for it.  But that’s not what it is at its core.  It’s got a few jump out of your seats spots, but nothing to make you want to cry.  It’s not that scary, and I’m okay with that.

What is it then? It’s a story that happens to take place at a boarding school for boys, that happens to be haunted.  The story that we see, and the point of the movie is to tell why the boarding school is haunted. And I loved the way they tell this story.  It gripped me in a way that one of these types of movies hasn’t in quite a while.  I think back to the last of these types of films that I saw in the theater, which was the absolutely dreadful The Woman in Black, starring Daniel Radcliff. Which was abysmal, at best.  The Awakening doesn’t scare your pants off, but it does get the job done.

I don’t want to say too much, or give away too much of the reveal at the end, as that’s the whole point of the movie.  So I can just reiterate how much I loved the film.  It’s not perfect, which is why I’m only giving it 4.5 stars, instead of 5.  But it’s close enough to perfect that I’ve pre-ordered the Blu-ray (which as of the writing of this review, does not have a release date.)

If you like movies that make you think, let you try to figure out what the “answer” is, and have people with British accents, this film’s for you!

  Taken 2

Taken 2 Review

Taken 2

Let’s get right to it, shall we?  I wasn’t as in love with Taken 2 as I wanted to be.  Sure, it’s a great film with lots of fun action scenes, and tons of Liam Neeson punching people.  But it just wasn’t the same.

Since it came out a couple of years ago, Taken (the original) has become quite the cult classic.  While it didn’t do that well at the box office, people adore it, and most people (like myself) will watch it any time it’s on television, regardless of the channel or editing.

Its sequel comes flying at us, written and produced by Luc Besson who did the original, but not directed by him.  And it’s clear that it’s directed by someone else, which may or may not be a bad thing, depending on how you look at it.  I personally didn’t care for the directorial style during the fight scenes, but some of the cinematic shots of Istanbul and Los Angeles were quite nice.

Neeson returns as Bryan Mills, all around bad-ass kung-fu ninja with marksmanship to boot.  Famke Janssen returns as his ex, mother of Kim (played by the never aging Maggie Grace), with a much larger role than the first film. Which, if you’re a fan of Famke, is a good thing for you.

Taken 2 has plenty of punching, shooting, and a pretty bitchin’ car chase scene where Kim herself gets to do the driving.  The entire time she’s trying to elude bad guys, and her dad’s shooting at them out the passenger window, he’s yelling at her to drive faster.  Which makes her more nervous.  It’s both hilarious and awesome at the same time.

As we were leaving the theater, my movie going partner turned to me and asked what I thought, and I could only tell her that while I enjoyed it, I didn’t love it.  In reading some other reviews before heading to the theater, it seems most others had the same reactions.  It’s a good film, but it fails in comparison to the firm Taken film, which was one of my favorite movies the year it came out.

I won’t waste time in summarizing the plot for you, it’s really simple: revenge.  Marco (from the first film) is dead, and his dad is pissed.  That’s about all you need to know going into this.  Dad wants Bryan dead. Bryan wants to not be dead, ergo, fighting.

I’d definitely see this again, and while it has its flaws, it’s also a great film to pass an hour and a half of your life.  It’s not perfect by any means, but it’s certainly a film worthy of taking your $10 at the box office.

  Snow White and the Huntsman

Snow White and the Huntsman Review

Snow White and the Huntsman

Snow White. Another Snow White movie.  Did we really need another one? Isn’t Disney’s classic cartoon enough to pacify those who love the fairy tale? Apparently not.

This re-imagining of the Snow White fairy tale is a bit different. Darker and grittier than what we’re used to in the cartoon version. (I believe Mirror, Mirror which also came out around the same time was gritty, as well.)

There were a handful of things I really liked about Snow White and the Huntsman, but more things that I didn’t like. Let’s start with the positive, shall we?

The CGI in this film is impressive. I was actually surprised at how good some of the elements looked (the bridge troll, for example, and the actual mirror when it becomes a person).  The studio certainly spared no expense on making the animation realistic, and did a great job at it.

Charlize Theron was stellar as the evil queen Ravenna.  So often do you forget how talented she is, as she so often takes bland roles that don’t really let her spread her wings.  If you ever have any doubt as to how talented she is, just re-watch Monster.

I wouldn’t necessarily call this a “period piece”, as the timeframe that it takes place is most fictitious. But it does have a certain medieval feeling to it, that’s for certain.  Though I think that’s more to do with the fairy tale aspect of it, than actually trying to take place during that time.

The downsides of this movie, of which I feel there are many:  it’s really long.  Over two hours, in fact. And there’s many parts where those two hours really feel as long as they are. (As opposed to The Dark Knight Rises, which flies by.)

Kristen Stewart. I said it.  I’m not sorry.  She’s terrible in this. Well, she’s terrible in practically everything (Panic Room excluded), and there’s no reason why studios should keep casting her. Her performances are so boring and monotonous that it’s almost painful to watch her.  I watched Kevin Smith’s “Spoilers” that talks about this film, and someone in the group points out that Kristen’s mouth is 50% open the entire time of the film. Clearly I knew this going in, so I kept an eye on it. And she really has her mouth gaping wide open the entire film.  “Spoilers” also pointed out that Chris Hemsworth is either holding or swinging a weapon in almost every scene, and that’s also true.

Truth be told, I really wanted to like this movie.  It’s a great fairy tale, and one that I’m very familiar with from my childhood.  In actuality, though, I couldn’t like it.  While it had its high points, the amount of low points just outweighed it all for me.  I couldn’t get past how long the movie felt, and I always have a problem with the way that modern actors speak in these supposedly older films.  I just don’t buy the way the dialog is written in most times, and find myself thinking “there’s no way they’d say something that way!” and getting frustrated.

I’d say only bother with this film if you’re a real diehard Snow White fan. And even then, it’s just to see Charlize’s portrayal of Ravenna, as she’s quite brilliant.  The rest, as they say, is for the birds.  (That’s a joke about Ravenna, which’ll make sense if you’ve seen the movie.  Yep, I’m ending this with a joke, deal with it.)

  The Five-Year Engagement

The Five-Year Engagement Review

The Five-Year Engagement

Jason Segel is funny. There’s no doubt about that.  And, based on the movies he’s written, he’s had his heart smashed to a million pieces more times than one person should have to endure.  I’m a huge “How I Met Your Mother” fan, and especially of Segel’s.

The Five-Year Engagement is another movie that Segel has his hand in writing. And after the hilarious Forgetting Sarah Marshall, I wanted to check this out.

The first thing you’ll notice is that it’s long. It’s a two hour plus comedy. And there are a lot of points of downtime. Many times throughout I felt that it was dragging along, and would have definitely edited out some parts of it, were I an editor.  That’s not to say that each scene couldn’t be seen as important to the plot of the story, but they could have trimmed some bits to save on time.

I laughed quite a bit throughout. Not as hard as Sarah Marshall, but still enough to say I enjoyed it.

What I most definitely enjoyed was the last 15-20 minutes. There is an amazing payoff at the end of the movie.  My gut reaction when it happened was (and I said outloud), “it took way too long to get there, but I’m glad that’s where it went”.

Overall I enjoyed the movie. It may me laugh, (almost) cry, and root for the characters.  The title may be a bit misleading, but it’s still worth seeing.  A good ol’ fashioned romantic comedy that you can snuggle up and watch with someone you love. (Be warned though, there are some sad parts throughout!)

  The Hunger Games

The Hunger Games Review

The Hunger Games

I suppose I’ll start with the mildly obvious – I had no real desire to see this movie. Not even a little bit.  But boredom on a summer night when there’s no new episodes of any TV show airing results in you watching some things that you wouldn’t normally watch.

That said, I loved this movie.  Probably more than I should have.  I should probably also admit that I (embarrassingly) am just about done reading the book too, because I liked the movie so much.  I’ve always been interested in seeing what things get cut from books to make them into movies.  I’ve often read the book first, so I’m approaching this a bit backwards.  My real goal in reading the book(s) is that I want to know what happens next.

Pretty much everything about The Hunger Games fascinated me.  Seeing these entire worlds that digital artists get to create is amazing.  Seeing how someone takes the vision of a writer and transposes it onto screen is a feat that I wish I had the ability to accomplish.  And The Hunger Games certainly is beautiful.  The scenery, the villages, the city, the arena.  Everything about the movie is visually beautiful.

Like any good movie, in addition to looking good, you have to have substance. You need characters and a story that people want to invest in and fight for. And this movie has all that, and more.

I’m sure you know the premise of the story by now, so I won’t bore you with telling you what the movie’s about. But I will say that I immediately wanted to root for Katniss.  From the very beginning where we’re learning about who she is, and where she lives, I wanted her to win whatever it was that was coming her way.   That doesn’t happen too often these days with movies (maybe Iron Man and The Dark Knight Rises.)

While the film runs a bit long (almost 2 and a half hours), it doesn’t feel like it. There are very few dull spots where you want things to pick up and move faster.  I was actually surprised once the film ended and I was reading about it online to see how long the actual runtime is.  Granted, you can probably cut 10 minutes off the end, unless you’re the type that wants to watch every last second of the credits (which I’m not, unless I know there’s something hidden at the end.)

The combination of characters I actually liked, and a story that’s compelling and different from the normal dick and fart jokes that Hollywood is churning out these days made me really enjoy The Hunger Games.  I’m comfortable saying that, in writing, on the internet, as a man in my thirties.  If I’m okay with liking it, you should be too.

While I loved it, it wasn’t a movie that I felt like I immediately needed to run out and buy a copy of, or even see again in the near future. Though I imagine when the time comes closer for the second film in the series to come out, I’ll want to re-watch this one. Just to refresh my memory on who’s who, and what’s what.  (I’m also sure that if Amazon has a deal on the blu-ray sometime in the near future, I’ll score myself a copy.)

If you like action, good characters, a fun story, and fighting for the good guy, then The Hunger Games is for you!

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