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Hot Tub Time Machine 2 (2015)
Not nearly as bad as I feared
After being disappointed by recent sequels to comedy movies (i.e. Dumb and Dumber To), as well as reading the reviews on here, I was skeptical about going to see this movie. I decided to see it because I liked the first one, and because literally there is nothing else currently playing that even remotely appealed to me.
I was pleasantly surprised and laughed out loud a few times.
The story follows three of the four misfits from the original movie having to travel to the future/past/alternate universe (in the same trip) in order to save Lou's life.
Normally it's a warning when the biggest star doesn't return for a sequel. The most prevalent theory running about is that Cusack's absence was due to budget cuts from the production company. Given the amount of (positive) references to his character in the movie, I suspect that's the case. Chevy Chase's role was relegated to a cameo in one scene, probably for the same reason.
A lot of people appear to be complaining about the same old toilet humor and crass nature of Lou. While there is a lot of that sort of humor, the characters bonded very well and have seamless dialogue. This is especially true with Jacob, who has transcended his young-blood status and became part of the pack.
What those reviewers appear to be missing is this: The crass nature of the characters isn't the writers being lazy; it's the point of the movie.
The first movie centered on life decisions and setting things on a better course. Lou stayed back because he wanted to lift them all up financially. To him, that was the most important aspect, and a belief apparently shared by Nick. But both Lou and Nick were so focused on being successful, they forgot the humility they had in their previous lives. I suspect that's the reasoning behind Nick Webber's career- ending music video (essentially a confession) and dance. He learned the lesson too late.
Adam Scott was a great addition, playing the Adam Jr., the son of John Cusack's character (though with a twist). His character was the polar opposite of the three other characters, which allowed for some balance in the group and showed there are things just as cringe-worthy as Lou's behavior.
The only disappointment I had with the movie is that Jacob, who is bald and the heir of a business empire, didn't take on more of a "Lex Luthor" role.
Is it as good as the original? No. But I would argue that it goes down better if you look at it as a continuation of the first movie instead of a different movie that should be competing with the original.
A Good Old Fashioned Orgy (2011)
Waste of time (possible spoilers)
Given the talent that signed on to do this film, one would expect a really funny and memorable ride. Unfortunately, that is not what we got.
The story follows a group of well-off 30-something's and their first-world problems which culminate in the form of losing their party spot, a summer home in an upscale New England area owned by Jason Sudeikis' father, for which they pay nothing for. After some initial complaints about the unfairness of the situation, they plot to hold off the realtor until they can have their final Labor Day party which is, as the title suggests, an orgy.
None of the characters are ever really fleshed out (no pun intended). They're an eclectic mix of boring people with largely unrelatable issues. Jason Sudeikis essentially plays every other character he has ever played, but it doesn't work here because of the overall mood, the complete lack of actual conflict, and slow, grinding pace of the movie.
Unfairness is not losing your free party spot. Unfairness is having to watch Tyler Labine in this movie while Reaper, a show where he actually dominated and meshed perfectly with his cast, got canceled.
In the end, every possible personal issue every character even remotely hinted at is sorted out and all the actors cheer wildly and hug each other. Audiences are supposed to connect to this emotionally and feel happy, but it ended up being extremely uncomfortable and left me cringing. The actors should all get Oscars for having to shoot those scenes and appear genuine.
In the end, this movie is an hour and a half that I will never get back.
Red Dawn (2012)
Not bad for a remake (mild spoilers)
The movie was not bad for a remake. There are several positives, as well as a few negatives, with this one, and I'll review it as a remake instead of a stand-alone movie.
For starters, it IS a remake. Originalists will always be there and have fits simply for nostalgia's sake, so ignore them. Yes, I am old enough to have watched the original in theaters and on VHS. It was a great movie, but this updated version is just as worthy.
The opening in this movie was better. Rather than a few generalized words on the screen, they used news clips (both real and fake) to build the backdrop: The recession, Europe's financial collapse, terrorism, Arab uprisings, etc. The use of speech clips by current politicians (Hilary Clinton/Biden/Obama) also helped add to draw the audience in, and I can't help wondering if the director would have used the change of command had Romney won to add to the backdrop. The only drawback is that it dates the movie when those politicians retire.
Coming off of two wars where insurgency was a focus, I thought making Jed a Marine and combat vet was fitting. There were other factors, such as the "un-retired" Marines, that also worked well.
Chris Hemsworth was fine, but he had some Swayze-sized shoes to fill. Turns out those shoes were a bit too big for him. On the flip side, Josh Peck (surprisingly) did a better job in his character than Charlie Sheen did 23 years ago. Adrianne Palicki was also good, but all the other characters were forgettable, though I blame at least half of that on the writers, not the actors.
At 114 minutes, the movie STILL seemed too rushed. I would have liked another half-hour for character development and a bit more action.
Bottom line, it's worth your time, especially if you liked the original.
The Shield (2002)
One of the best...
If you want a rehashed plot, where only the names and the crimes are changed on a by-episode basis, then The Shield is not for you. Stick to the CSI or Law and Order series; shows where you know the outcome in the first 2 minutes when they show the crime happening. Don't take this as a hit against those shows. I like them. I'm just saying that they cannot compare to The Shield as far as originality goes because the SAME things happen EVERY episode. They all start out with a crime, then the cops are on scene collecting evidence, then cops get bad guys, then techs get evidence results, then bad guys are put away. Robot Chicken even parodied the template in one of their episodes. Those shows are fine if you want an hour of mind-numbing entertainment, but if you want something original with excellent writing, direction, acting, and with situations and developments that are more thought provoking, your definitely want to check out The Shield.
The Shield is, by far, the best "cop" show out there, and was the only show for years that I made sure I made time in my hectic schedule for. It follows Detective Vic Mackey and his team through the streets of the fictional Farmington district of Los Angeles with a plot-line that started with the Pilot episode in Season 1 and continues to this day. Here, it is more realistic in that every decision made by a character, regardless of what point in whatever season, will affect the course of the show from then on. I disagree with the negative reviews of how the program is shot, mainly because it adds more realism and is a welcome change to the usual filming methods where the actors are clearly on a set.
"Gritty" is an overused term and has been used in relation to The Shield. Rather than just use that broad term, I would say that The Shield has a more realistic tone than the other cop shows out there. Real precincts do not have multi-million dollar labs in their buildings. The do not have spotless and impeccably lit interrogation rooms. Evidence is not fully tested within 30 minutes. Bad guys do not break because you turn your head to the side, take off your glasses and stare at them. Watching CSI, one may believe otherwise. The cops on The Shield are real people with families that work long hours and are placed in the types of situations one could expect by spending so much time in that sort of environment. As a detective that has been there and done that, I appreciate this style of character development.
As an ancillary benefit, The Shield gave me topics for three different research papers in my various Ethics classes in college.
Dismiss the negative reviews on here. The Shield is well worth the awards it has won and the time spent watching it.
Black Hawk Down (2001)
To the nay-sayers...and others
I've noticed a lot of complaining about the lack of character development in this movie. Why? It was a movie about a historical event, bottom line. Although I can't verify how closely the movie followed to the actual events, it was still great. I think it hit hard with me because it is a different kind of war movie that portrayed something that happened recently. They wear the same uniforms, shoot the same weapons, talk about the same stuff as we (in the Army) do now. Stop griping about this movie and just sit back and enjoy. Also, this next bit is a moral imperative; This movie is rated R for a reason and (my opinion of course) it's wrong to bring little kids (4-6 yrs.) to see this movie. People are getting blown up and there were kids sitting behind me crying. Disney makes movies for them so take your kids to see them.