Sunday, November 21, 2010

You won’t think about this for The Next Three Days by William Kunz

          The Next Three Days is your typical run of the mill pre-winter action film. Russell Crowe, a veteran Oscar winning actor, has resorted to taking less edgy roles in reward for a bigger pay-day. The Next Three Days is a prime example of Crowe’s fall from greatness. Along side Russell Crowe is Elizabeth Banks from the comedy genre, who is definitely out of her comfort zone in this drama. Liam Nelson who also decided a long time ago to sell his talent for money shows up for a scene to drop his mysterious voice into the film. Besides that we have a mix of “B list” actors including Olivia Wilde of “House Md” and Jason Beghe who has had various bit parts throughout the years. Wrap all of them into a cheesy plot and out comes The Next Three Days.
          The film starts off with an odd sequence showing a bloodied Russell Crowe with a man dying in the back of his car. The film quickly cuts to what I thought would be the title, but to my surprise it said The First Three Years and for a second I felt as if I wondered into the wrong film. The film then cuts to an enraged fight, which involves Russell’s wife getting into a fight with another couple. The next morning Elizabeth Banks character is seen being arrested for murder. All of this takes place in front of Crowe’s and Banks precious but annoying child who seems to cry the entire film. Soon the film cuts three years later where Russell Crowe has exhausted all his options. Crowe’s lawyers have abandoned his case and he has no money to bring the case to the Supreme Court. After going to the local library and reading a few books he decides the most logical plan is of all things, a prison break! This leads to an hour of overly boring and stupid scenes showing Russell Crowe attempting to get money and ideas to break his wife out of county jail that could have easily been displayed in a simple montage. The only reason I could see them wanting to do this is because of a single random scene that involves Liam Nelson. Nelson shows up to tell Russell Crowe all the useful things he has to do- like how much time he needs to escape the city and that he needs a metaphorical key to break his wife out. Ultimately the scene was boring and pointless, with the only interesting aspect being Nelson getting third billing.
         The film decides to put logic and realism aside for the purposes of action, and I feel as if the film suffers because of it. For one, why is his Crowe’s wife in county jail for three years on a murder conviction? Once the conviction would have been handed down she would have gone to the state penitentiary regardless of her appeal process. Also the plot device known as Liam Nelson, knows everything Crowe needs, why would he help somebody for a little bit of money? That’s called accessory before the fact! And why would a tired Nelson risk going back to jail after escaping prison seven times? It’s little things like this that drags the film down.
         Anyway, enough complaints where were we? Ah, right after the initial boring hour of lead up! Crowe’s character eventually figures out how to best the system which the film takes time to explain and then Crowe takes out his “carefully” laid out plan to new extremes. Most of it just seems fake and out right unbelievable. The ambiguous ending would have worked much better and instead destroyed the mystery element of the film entirely. This really hindered the film as a whole, and brought about yet another disappointing aspect.
          Overall, the film was probably thirty minutes too long and really felt like there was too much filler. The movie moved along at a decent pace and just built up for the last forty-five minutes where they make the classic “run for it.” The chemistry between Crowe and Banks didn’t work great and GM obviously paid a large sum to show off their cars in this particular film. Basically this is a great film to see if you didn’t pay, and or got it by way of rental.

Rating: (meh) 2.5

Mega-weak in Originality by Taylor Ellis

Animation, Animation, Animation- it seems to be the big hype these days, as every few months a new visual film leaks through the studios of Hollywood into our nearby theatres. However this is not surprising, with the success of movies like Toy Story 3 and Despicable Me, studios will continuously be at the “drawing board” trying to strike up a masterpiece.

Megamind (2010), the newest film from DreamWorks appeared to be the newest form of this modern day visual candy.  The story follows “Mega-mind,”(voiced by Will Ferrell) a super villain who hasn’t had much luck in the takedown of his archenemy “Metro-Man” (voiced by Brad Pitt), who strikes an ingenious plan for his ultimate demise.  Megamind also starts the voice talents of Tina Fey and Jonah Hill, as an anchorwoman and cameraman who always have the latest scoop on Metro-Man and his battles against Megamind.

As the story progresses one can see a lot of familiarity from other films being used in this new animated flick. The whole premise of the film seems almost as if it was borrowed from Despicable Me, and some dialogue throughout the film is just outright stolen.  While the statement of “ There is nothing new under the sun” remains true, the fact that Megamind took away brilliant elements of other films is just low. One of the most important aspects of animated films is their originality, and with Megamind originality is rarely seen.  While the story of Megamind was far from original, it must be said that there were parts in the film that were clever and humorous.

Annoying as the plot may have been, this was not the only element of the film that seemed to be lacking. Through the colorful characters it couldn’t be ignored: the setting (Metro City) was amazingly dull and bland. I couldn’t believe it. It was as if the entire city was just completely ignored. Every building looked identical- color, texture, and gradient—it was all the exact same. Even as shots of the city were shown, the streets were bare and everything looked all too neat for a city that needed a “hero.” One could argue that parts in the film explain the emptiness of the city, but I don’t buy it. Metro City it self appears empty and void, which doesn’t help the viewer place care on the silly matters at hand.

Many will find the humor in Megamind is hit or miss. Occasionally, there are laughs that will exceed the mindset of children, but most of the time it is directed at school-aged humor. Without the voice talents of Ferrell, it would be safe to say that the humor would be hardly existent in this film. Other characters in Megamind may draw a few laughs, while Megamind himself will remain at the heart of the matter. However, Megamind more than likely will spawn a few smiles from even the most cold hearted villain.

 While Megamind clearly has its problems, it also has its successes’ as well. The voice acting was outstanding, and gave the film a good helping of personality. Will Ferrell knows how to bring out the humor in many situations, and even in Megamind this remains true (for the most part.) With the help of Tina Fey and Jonah Hill, viewers will be pleased with the amount of humor in the film, but may find it childish and out of place at times. Visually, Megamind was good, but not great. The liveliness of the bright colors and costumes made the film exciting and the main characters were animated quite beautifully. Picky viewers may notice some characters are more visual, while other characters aren’t as crisp as their counterparts.

 Overall, Megamind was an incredibly fun film. Yes, it lacked in originality and seemed very predictable, but its voice cast and visuals seem to do the film somewhat a justice. While Megamind isn’t an animated film to be remembered, it is one that lets you appreciate previous works such as Up. Unfortunately Megamind's sub par humor and plot stole far too much from other films which ultimately overshadows it's potential.

Rating: 2.5+ out of 4 

Saturday, November 20, 2010

We're Back and Its Show Time!

Man-o-man! Its been awhile since the last post! Things have been pretty busy for both Ellis and Kunz lately, but you can expect reviews to start coming in on a weekly basis starting tomorrow.

-Ellis and Kunz

Friday, April 2, 2010

Hot Tub Time Machine Review by William Kunz

This movie I naturally knew going in wasn't going to be exceptional or great judging by the preview. However after last years The Hangover, which had an awful preview, I was not going to look down on the film before I had seen it. The film centers around four characters, Adam, Jacob, Nick, and Lou. Each played by John Cusack, Clark Duke, Craig Robinson, and Rob Corddry respectively. The films starts out showing how each of the characters is doing really bad in life and things are not on the up. After Lou nearly kills himself by revving his engine up in his shut garage the four decide to take him on a vacation to an old ski retreat in the woods where they had awesome memories back in the 80's. They get there and the town and resort they loved has fallen on harsh times is now a dump. They decide to stay anyway and procede to get wasted and spill a high energy drink on the hot tub controls flashing them back to 1986 where they to eachother look like themselves but to everyone else look like them from 1986 with the execption of Jacob because he wasn't born yet.
The film proceeds to go through with cliched 80's things such as walkmans, Michael Jackson jokes, bad hair styles and Red Dawn. Admitedly there were a couple of good laughs such as the constant running joke with Lou getting excited because he knows the bellman(played by Crispin Glover) will get his arm chopped off, for in the future he only has one arm, and is always let down when the bellman is in compromising situations and the arm does not go, but the film follows the typical comedy formula of one hour of laughs, a friend or two gets mad and they need to reconsile, and in the end it all works out. Which is starting to get really old and is what The Hangover did so perfectly which was to stray from the typical formula and be completely different. Overall the film brings a few laughs with John Cusack doing a great job as always(kind of untrue, I won't forget 2012 yet!) and some memorable moments but not a film I will be rushing to see again or to buy on dvd at all maybe worth a netflix.

Rating: 2.5 out of 4

A Clash of Acting, Not Titans by Taylor Ellis

With a story comprised of a great acting cast and a plot driven deep in the heart of Greek mythology ,“Clash of the Titans” looked to be a extremely promising flick that would sure to be an early 2010 blockbuster. As movie goers galore filled the theatre, a overwhelming sense of anticipation filled the room. It seemed as if everyone had a colossal amount of hope for Leterrier’s new film, and I must admit I did as well. Soon, it was show-time and my preconceived notions were soon to be shattered by the gods themselves.

“Clash of the Titans” follows the story of Perseus(Sam Worthington), Zeus’ bastard son who has been raised by a human family; away from the heights of Olympus. With a unfortunate set of events Perseus is soon whisked away from his quaint lifestyle and dropped in a feud between gods and men. While Zeus contemplates with the other gods, Hades has a plan of his own; to force the humans back into the will of the gods. Of course there is a damsel in distress and the city must choose over a beautiful princess or their beloved beachfront town.Perseus quickly realizes Mankind is angry with the gods “control” over humans, and the humans are angry with the gods. Personally, I am angry with both, because from this point out the movie takes many undesirable turns that will leave many audiences feeling flat.

We soon meet the overbearing and over-bearding Zeus, portrayed by Liam Neeson. At first Neeson seems to be the perfect fit for the “King of the gods”, but as minutes go by Neeson seems to become a little to serious in his portrayal, and at some points even a laughing matter. Zeus’ counterpart “Hades” portrayed by Ralph Fiennes adds a little more spice to the movie but just doesn’t seem to be evil enough to be playing the god of the underworld. With that being said a viewer could begin to wonder if the script itself was just a big mess up. While the gods seemed to be failing at more than the ruling of Olympus,Persues portrayed by Sam Worthington seemed to slowly lift the movie out of the depths of Hades itself. While I was no fan of Persues love interest in the movie “Io”, a ageless woman cursed by the gods portrayed by Gemma Arterton, I did understand the need of some sort of sex appeal for all of the teenaged boys out there. Overall their love story was out of place and just simply confusing. With the exception of the love story or lack thereof, I throughly enjoyed Worthington’s overall acting and all of the chaotic combat that he participated in; helping to cover up some of the movies early flaws. Overall Worthington did an “ok” job, nothing outstanding by any means but enjoyable at that.

While all of the other “major” stars continued to disappoint to me, there was a small, but rather large glisten of hope that resided within the movie from early on. This glisten of hope came from Draco portrayed by Mads Mikkelsen. Within the first hour of the movie Mikkelsen had impressed me the most with his potrayal of Draco. A rough, fierce warrior Draco seemed to be a well trained and battle hardened veteran. Draco’s hate of the gods was extremely evident but suppressed in a way that was hard to comprehend or understand. As the rightful leader of the army against the gods Draco came to give up his position to Perseus (Worthington) and except the gods may always have the ultimate favor. Mikkelsen delivered the audience a character that exemplified all of the courageousness traits a solider under those circumstances would have and proved to be the most memorable character of the entire film, in my opinion of course.

Before the showing many where talking about the CGI and the 3D that was input AFTER the initial production, which seemed to be at the very soul of “Clash of the Titans” (as seen by trailers nation wide.) (Note: I did not see “Clash” in 3D due to the fact that the movie was not initially made for 3D.) Being a person who loves CGI and respects the momentum that it expresses in films nowadays; I was hoping for another “Avatar moment” but this turned out to not be the case. The CGI in “Clash” seemed to be focused in about three instances throughout the movie. At point, a scorpion fight in “Clash” proves to be the weakest of all the CGI in the movie. It was hard to tell if this point in the movie was rushed or just not well done, to me it was both. Overall the CGI was pretty good but not commendable, and could have been so much more in so many ways.

Ultimately, “Clash of the Titans” was yet another huge letdown for movie goers everywhere. With its ruffled plot and decent story line, “Clash of the Titans fell short of the standards that many had hoped it would reach. Overall the acting and special effects are equally moderate, but not horrible. If taken lightly with a loving heart and a full bag of popcorn I suppose “Clash” can be considered a fun movie. But for all of the movie buffs out there I am sure this film will have you wanting to jump off the highest peak of Olympus within the first hour.

Rating: 2.0 out of 4

Monday, March 22, 2010

Repo Men Review by William Kunz

It is a shame to start the blog with a bad review but this will hopefully get the worst out of the way. Repo Men was a film that had an awesome preview and two good leads, oscar nominated Jude Law and oscar winner Forest Whittaker, so naturally I was very excited for the movie and went in with high hopes, even though most critics despised it. The movie is about two men in the future(Law and Whittaker) whose job it is to reposess artificial organs whose owners can't afford payments, not to bad a plot kinda a rip off of Repo! The Genetic Opera, but maybe it will seperate itself from that monstrosity. Thirty minutes in I was still saying this isn't awful yet maybe they will explain some of the backstory later in the film, like why is the economy crumbling? and why does half of the city look great and the other like a slum? Boy was I wrong, the movie kept increasing the violence, which I don't mind I love violence but god this was almost more disturbing than most torture porn flicks like the SAW franchise, and they never explained anything. This all culminates to a bizzare sexualized scene where Jude Law and the female lead are cutting eachother open to scan in their bodyparts so they will be taken out of the system which was disgusting. In the end I walked out perplexed at why two great actors would sign on to this film it was just terrible. The director copy pasted scenes and scapes from such films like Blade Runner and Equilibrium and didn't even try to make it his own and instead tarnished their reputations.(Equilibrium didn't have much left to tarnish, it was already ripping off The Matrix). Overall this film was poorly scripted and just a big sloppy mess that didn't deserve my six dollars and twenty five cents.

Rating 1.5 out of 4