Change Your Image
Upload An Image
Crop And Save
Mind Game Mines Gold
Trance (2013) | UK, 101 minutes, Rated 18A (ON) 13+ (QC) | Reviewed 04/13, © Stephen Bourne
James McAvoy stars as sharply fractured London auction house turk Simon Newton, trapped in an often brutal psychological maze after his underworld cohort in crime Franck (played by Vincent Cassel) sends amnesia-stricken Simon to sultry hypnotherapist Elizabeth Lamb (Rosario Dawson) for help in remembering where a recently stolen Goya painting is hidden, in this visually stunning, artful brain-mulcher from director Danny Boyle.
Holy cripes, Trance is an incredibly compelling, trippy Art House thriller from beginning to closing credits. Sure, it feels slightly inspired by the likes of Memento (2000) and Inception (2010), but this one definitely stands on its own as a memorably exceptional effort. Joe Ahearne and John Hodge's screenplay is packed with punchy dialogue and white knuckled twists, and Boyle makes astounding use of cinematographer Anthony Dod Mantle's wonderfully rich camera-work perfectly matched by Jon Harris' stylish editing throughout. This movie mind game mines pure gold.
A grim sense of menace permeates every scene, as you watch McAvoy squeeze every ounce of physical and emotional grime and sweat from his role here. His transformation in this film truly is incredible. Too bad Hollywood bigwigs can't figure out what to do with this powerhouse talent.
Cassel also pulls in a great performance as noble thug Franck, criminal mastermind behind the robbery of Spanish artist Francisco Goya's 1798 oil painting Witches in the Air with the aid of Simon's inside insight until the plan goes pear-shaped. Is Franck the player, or is he being played? What's real and what's imagined? You're never sure until the final scene. Maybe.
As for the missing painting, it's valued in the film at 27 million pounds sterling, and in reality resides in Madrid's Museo del Prado. The painting depicts a hovering figure laid backwards, being devoured by three witches as a cloaked man walks under them and past a corpse. Horrifying, yet wonderfully telling within the context of this movie.
Goya is arguably best known for his 1800 work, The Nude Maja, a life-size reclining nude considered scandalous and obscene in its time for being the first European painting to depict female pubic hair. Conversely, Doyle's sparse use of close full frontal nudity in Trance is neither scandalous nor obscene. Visually, clothed or not, Rosario Dawson is a goddess here. In her depiction of clinically therapeutic hypnotherapist Elizabeth, Dawson deftly articulates an inner strength, measured fragility and a complexity of motive unseen on the big screen in ages. Phenomenal.
While it's a given that Danny Boyle films are a treat for moviegoers who love their characters perpetually scraped up and crammed through an emotional meat grinder, Trance is a particularly enjoyable feast for the senses: Captivating story. Remarkably intense characters. Visually stunning at times. Truly a work of art, and a thousand times better than its closest cinematic cousin, Inception (2010). Check it out as one of the best films screened off the mainstream radar so far this year. Awesome. Reviewed 04/13, © Stephen Bourne.
Knife Fight (2012)
Sharp high for Lowe
Knife Fight (2013) | USA, 100 minutes, Rated 14A (ON) NR (QC) | Reviewed 03/13, © Stephen Bourne
Rob Lowe returns to the big screen as San Francisco-based veteran political spin doctor Paul Turner in this unabashedly wry yet plodding mild satire from director Bill Guttentag. In Knife Fight, Turner callously juggles damage control duties handling the separate scandalous affairs of incumbents California senator Stephen Green (played by David Harbour) and Kentucky Governor Larry Becker (Eric McCormick), until an unforeseen consequence of Turner's Machiavellian scheming and media manipulation results in pangs of unsettling conscience.
There are several clever moments of wonderfully insightful dialogue found throughout this 100-minute screening. Stanford University professor Guttentag's work in documentaries has garnered him five Academy Award nominations and two Oscar wins, and his co-writer on this project, Chris Lehane, reportedly earned the title "Master of the Political Dark Arts" after serving as spin doctor for Bill Clinton's presidential campaign and White House administration. Lehane and Guttentag also co-wrote the 2012 behind-the-scenes book The Masters of Disaster: The Ten Commandments of Damage Control. They know the landscape of contemporary American politics. You see it in this film. Sitting through Knife Fight, I couldn't help wishing the comparably over-hyped and pedantic The Ides of March (2011) had been this woefully overlooked, often fascinating feature.
Lowe is incredible here, effortlessly carrying this picture while nailing his performance as charismatic yet oily Turner, skilfully manipulating public opinion by any means necessary to save his high profile clients from themselves. Top marks also go to McCormick's wryly underplayed effort as philandering Governor Becker, Jamie Chung as Turner's able and ambitious young intern Kerstin Rhee, and Richard Schiff's part playing Turner's muck-dredging go-to connection Dimitris Vargas. Surprisingly, many of the remaining supporting roles feel less memorable. Carrie-Anne Moss plays Bay Area Mission Clinic doctor Penelope Nelson, eager for Turner's help in winning her own political bid, but her character and that story line seem so entirely peripheral and unnecessary to this movie the way it plays out. I might have been happier if Moss had played a slightly modified take on blackmailed war vet Senator Green instead of the Dr. Nelson role, for instance.
However, the most glaring flaw with Knife Fight is that Guttentag and Lehane's screenplay has a tendency to grind to an unforgivable snail's pace whenever the movie feels the need to indulge its long-winded Liberal musings about American politics and those involved. We know this flick is a satire. We get the point that greed is a humorous duality within human nature that can create and destroy with equal and conflicting force. The characters have just illustrated that. We laughed, they cried, it was better than Cats. Why then is it necessary for Turner to explain to Rhee what we've just seen? More than once! She's not stupid. Neither are we. Much. So, doing so becomes redundant, preachy, and boring.
Speaking of boring, the official website at knifefightmovie.com/ is possibly the poorest aspect of this contemporary feature. No synopsis. No cast and crew blurbs. Just a bland, basic page with links to YouTube, Facebook and twitter, and a lame scrolling gallery of random photos, all dominated by the film's politically-themed logo. Ooh, a logo! One that's not even used on the hokey poster. Lame. I guess it's a given that fans know by osmosis more source info can be found online at either the production company Divisadero Pictures or distributor IFC Films' sites. Too bad, Knife Fight and its cast deserved a better marketing effort than this trite flip of the bird to a potential ticket-buying audience...
Definitely not an hilariously rollicking satire for anyone outside the cutthroat arena of politics, Knife Fight is still an insightfully satisfying piece of entertainment over-all and a great new big screen high for Lowe, McCormick, Chung and crew well worth checking out as a rental. Reviewed 03/13, © Stephen Bourne.
Knife Fight is rated 14A by the Ontario Film Review Board for limited use of slurs, coarse language, partial or full nudity in a brief sexual situation, illustrated or verbal references to drugs, alcohol or tobacco, embracing and kissing, tobacco use, and restrained portrayals of non-graphic violence, and is Not Rated by la Régie du Cinéma in Québec.
More reviews: http://www.moviequips.ca | Follow: http://www.twitter.com/moviequips
Tags: Knife Fight, Rob Lowe, Jamie Chung, Carrie-Anne Moss, Eric McCormack, spin, scandal, politics, satire, moviequips, Ottawa, movie, review
The Incredible Burt Wonderstone (2013) | USA, 100 minutes, Rated PG (ON) G (QC) | Reviewed 03/13, © Stephen Bourne
Steve Carell and Steve Buscemi irreverently channel the spirit of glitzy Las Vegas illusionist duo Siegfried & Roy - without the white lions and tigers - as small town USA boyhood friends Albert Wunderstein and Anthony Mertz turned long toothed and bickering Sin City headlining magic act Burt Wonderstone and Anton Marvelton in this hilariously entertaining farce from TV's Cosby and 30 Rock former director Don Scardino. Olivia Wilde, James Gandolfini, Alan Arkin and Jim Carrey round out this exceptional cast as Burt & Anton's grudgingly enlisted stage assistant Jane, their Bally's Hotel and Casino CEO boss Doug Munny, aged Harry Blackstone, Jr.-like mentor Rance Holloway, and Criss Angel inspired foil: extreme street magician Steve Gray, respectively.
The Incredible Burt Wonderstone is an absolutely riotous, laughs-filled big screen effort showcasing the immense comedic talent of this cast throughout, while delighting in the astounding and bizarre profession of modern illusion. The arc that Wonderstone takes, from being a completely egotistical, womanizing showbiz sleazebag who loses everything towards awkward redemption and a slow reclamation of his passion for sleight of hand is, well, pure magic. Carell and Carrey effortlessly bring a wonderful intensity of outrageous verbal and physical humour left unseen from either of them since sharing the spotlight in Bruce Almighty (2003). Just looking at Buscemi in his ridiculously coiffed, wavy blonde wig is side-splitting. It's also a treat watching how Jonathan Goldstein and John Francis Daley's screenplay cleverly pits smug Wonderstone's flamboyant, velvet costumed showmanship against crazed Gray's shock value antics, bringing in Arkin's Holloway as a sober voice for the simple craft of inspiring wonder. Awesome.
Switching over to the visually impressive official site at theincredibleburtwonderstone.com conjures up the usual static film synopsis, photo and video galleries, and the soundtrack available through iTunes and Amazon.com. You'll also find PDF access to the fairly interesting production notes, wallpaper downloads, an interactive features page, and a comprehensive sweeps section of tie-in swag. Of course a lot of the contests were only good leading up to this movie's opening date, but probably the most impressive related gem found online is magic resource site theory11.com's video challenge for your chance to win a grand prize chat with world-renowned illusionist David Copperfield, promoted on this film's Facebook page. Clever!
Definitely do yourself a huge favour and check out this oftentimes irreverent and outrageously funny flick of wondrous and maniacal mayhem. Good stuff! Reviewed 03/13, © Stephen Bourne.
More reviews: http://www.moviequips.ca | Follow: http://www.twitter.com/moviequips
Jack the Giant Slayer (2013)
Big giant fun
Jack the Giant Slayer (2013) | USA, 113 minutes, Rated PG (ON) 13+ (QC) | Reviewed 03/13, © Stephen Bourne
UK-born Hollywood rising star Nicholas Hoult returns to the big screen as Kingdom of Cloister farm boy Jack in director Bryan Singer's thoroughly enjoyable live-action/CG-animated family feature. Here, Jack is thrown into the biggest adventure of his young Medieval England life when magic beans from a forgotten past send him, free-spirited Princess Isabelle (played by Eleanor Tomlinson), her conniving betrothed Lord Roderick (Stanley Tucci) and elite Captain of the Guard Elmont (Ewan McGregor) skyward into the realm of monstrous giants who have long-awaited this chance to mete bone grinding vengeance against Mankind.
The movie's title is inspired by Jack the Giant Killer, the protagonist from The History of Jack and the Giants, a long-lost chapbook reportedly first published in 1708. Its author is unknown, but its origins are believed to come from Norse folklore. The book places wily monster-slaying farm boy Jack's gory heroics "In the reign of King Arthur, near the Lands-end of England, namely the country of Cornwall." As the tale goes, Jack's adventures brutally ridding the countryside of many colossal man-beasts cites him collecting several magical items - a sword of sharpness, coat of darkness, cap of knowledge, shoes of swiftness - and becoming a Knight of the Round Table. No beanstalks are mentioned, magic or otherwise. Giants lived amongst and fed upon us.
"Fe, Fi, Fo, Fum, I smell the blood of an Englishman; Be he living or be he dead, I'll grind his bones to mix my bread," is still a well-known quote coined by an evil two-headed giant from that centuries-old story. You've likely heard variations of it said in everything from Bugs Bunny cartoons to Shakespeare's King Lear. The phrase is also found in the significantly different and far more familiar 1820 British children's book, The History of Jack and the Bean Stalk. Its author also remains unknown. In that milder story, country cottage brat Jack sells his poor widowed mother's cow for magic beans that grow a beanstalk to the kingdom in the sky, where Jack steals gold coins, a magic harp, and a hen that lays golden eggs from a giant who subsequently falls to his death when an escaping Jack chops down the beanstalk. Morals? What morals, kiddies? Too funny.
Sporadically possessing a similar sense of wonder as seen in The Princess Bride (1987), the movie Jack the Giant Slayer borrows from the "Giant Killer" and "Bean Stalk" books, cleverly distilling aspects of both stories into a wonderfully entertaining, freshly scribed - albeit wildly anachronistic - tale of oftentimes epic proportions for contemporary moviegoers of all ages. The screenplay by Darren Lemke, Christopher McQuarrie and Dan Studney truly crackles with punchy dialogue and wry plot twists. Hoult and his supporting cast pull in extraordinary performances here, with Tucci stealing every scene as the best comic villain seen in a long time. Hilarious. Everything about this feature consistently encourages your suspension of disbelief that these characters really live in this world of magic beans, mythical lands and monster-sized men. Even the magic beans have a compelling back story that includes a fabled, warring King Erik banishing hordes of man-eating giants back to their vast and untamed realm perched between Heaven and Earth. What a realm! Awesome.
Along with the synopsis, bios, photos, videos and wallpapers, the film's impressively self-contained official site at http://jackthegiantslayer.warnerbros.com/ cleverly serves up a page for buying tickets to screenings, another for downloading the soundtrack, as well as several chances for you to win related swag from various tie-in partners and sweepstakes. There's also a Features page of interactive media such as the Fallon's Fury and Jack's Giant Race games, plus a simple Giant Photo Upload and Your Giant Height activities. Great stuff.
Sure, it's a slight turn-off that Jack the Giant Slayer needlessly accommodates the latest (and hopefully waning) novelty of 3D screenings, but absolutely do yourself a huge favour and check it out on the big screen for its immensely entertaining storytelling and good old big giant fun. Reviewed 03/13, © Stephen Bourne.
More reviews: http://www.moviequips.ca | Follow: http://www.twitter.com/moviequips
Dark Skies (2013)
Dark Skies (2013) | USA, 95 minutes, Rated 14A (ON) 13+ (QC) | Reviewed 02/13, © Stephen Bourne, Ottawa, Canada
Keri Russell stars as struggling California realtor Lacy Barrett who quickly discovers her quiet Franklin County suburban home and family have become the target of inexplicably bizarre occurrences that her youngest son Sam (played by Kadan Rockett) blames on a night visitor he calls The Sandman - one of three shadowy extraterrestrials haunting them - in this poorly written and easily forgettable alien abduction stinker from writer/director Scott Stewart. It co-stars Josh Hamilton, Dakota Goyo, and L.J. Benet, as Lacy's laid off architect husband Dan, their 13 year-old eldest boy Jesse, and Jesse's delinquent bud Kevin respectively.
Despite what moviegoers might hope for going in, Dark Skies isn't a particularly good ghost story where Stewart's paper-thin screenplay replaces ghosts with extraterrestrials. Clever idea. Badly realized. All you see for the most part is the psychological unravelling of this dull family as their awareness of what's happening to them clarifies with (for them) terrifying results. Remember M. Night Shyamalan's tragically lame 2002 alien invasion movie Signs? Yeah, this one's an even weaker cousin of that one: All suspense, no scares. None. Even the few glimpses of the film's tall and skinny, sausage-headed aliens feel anti-climactic. Just like the cliché ending. Awful.
J.K. Simmons is the only highlight here, making a couple of brief, stoic appearances as a kind of David Jacobs/Budd Hopkins-like alien abduction expert named Edwin Pollard, lending explanations and warnings to the Barretts later on. When Dan finally starts to believe and asks, "What's so special about us?" Pollard replies, "Nothing," telling Dan and Lacy they're little more than lab rats to those malevolent E.T.s. However, unlike Communion (1989) or Fire In The Sky (1993), this feature neither claims nor attempts to specifically reenact what self-professed alien abductees have insisted actually happened to them. I can't imagine anyone who takes ufology or any aspect of it seriously being particularly satisfied with this movie.
Along with being a boring and utterly pointless flick from beginning to closing credits, the most aggravating aspect of Dark Skies is how often what's presented makes no real sense. For instance, after being told of physical evidence resembling abuse experienced by their sons, Lacy and Dan being the desperately concerned parents they are react by worrying about what friends and the authorities think. We never see them tend to Sam's and Jesse's injuries. This kind of ridiculousness happens time and again, mainly during the times when the Barretts aren't summarily reduced to twitching, slack-jawed meat puppets momentarily tormented by alien mind control. At least some of those scenes are so cheesy they're funny.
Online, the movie's stylishly useless web page at www.darkskiesfilm.com merely presents you with basic links to its vaguely updated Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Tumblr pages. The only bright point is the film's separate www.youhavebeenchosen.org site, where Facebook users have the chance to see their personal info and photos creatively incorporated into an eerie infographic gallery of alien abduction data. Officially, there's no synopsis or cast line-up to be found, except at Blumhouse Productions' own site which nobody bothered to link to. Sloppy. Just like the movie, sadly.
The premise is promising, but Dark Skies is so forgettably disappointing that it's hardly worth the price of admission for fans of alien invasion movies or of flicks that go bump in the night. Dark Skies, Dull Grays. Reviewed 02/13, © Stephen Bourne.
Escape from Planet Earth (2013)
Escape From Planet Rehash
Escape From Planet Earth (2013) USA/Canada, 89 minutes, Rated PG (ON) G (QC) Reviewed 02/13, © Stephen Bourne
Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay and Warm Bodies supporting cast member Rob Corddry lends his voice to Vancouver-based Rainmaker Entertainment's first big screen CG-animated Sci-Fi feature. Corddry stars as Gary, unappreciated Head of Space Agency Mission Control on his home planet Baab, launched 50 light years through space to the perilous Dark Planet (aka Earth) when his daring younger brother, astronaut Scorch Supernova (voiced by Brendan Fraser,) is imprisoned as part of the diabolical scheme of Area 51's General Shanker (William Shatner).
Escape From Planet Earth is definitely made for kids. That makes sense, considering its source. Canadians might remember Mainframe Entertainment's wildly successful computer animated TV series ReBoot (1994-2001). ReBoot was clearly made for teens. Rainmaker is the latest incarnation of Mainframe. That pretty much ends the notable fun facts, other than this flick also features the voices of Jessica Alba, Sarah Jessica Parker, George Lopez, Sofía Vergara, Ricky Gervais, and Steve Zahn. Who do they play? It doesn't matter.
This movie is surprisingly mediocre and unimaginative. It's presented as a comedy for children, but the jokes consistently fall flat for kids and their accompanying adults. There's also a 3D version playing, so things do jab and jerk around a lot, all 3D-like, for no reason. Everything is bright-eyed and colourful, too. And, ooh, there's a food fight scene. Yawn. Director Cal Brunker and Bob Barlen's screenplay certainly sets the ground work for a potentially amazing aliens-on-Earth adventure, but so much of what transpires here feels lazily derivative of Monsters vs. Aliens (2009), Planet 51 (2009), Transformers (2007), Men in Black (1997), and even Independence Day (1996) that I couldn't help wonder how Escape From Planet Earth avoided being fast tracked to the wasteland of video-on-demand. This is a small screen effort. Too small for most tots.
Checking out the official website at escapeearthmovie.com serves up the usual synopsis, scene stills, trailer page and social media links, plus a basic roster of the main characters. You'll also find the simple Escape From Planet Earth Area 51 maze and Gnarlach Rescue jumping games. Its Alien Welcome Kit features An Alien's Brief History of Planet Earth, where we learn Area 51 opened its door to alien visitors of every shape, colour and smell in 1947. The site's Alien Activities Funzone offers three printable puzzle pages that are also included in the six-page For Educators and Parents downloadable activities PDF from Young Minds Inspired. The website is more cleverly thought out than the movie itself.
For a $40 million film project that's reportedly been in the works since 2007, Escape From Planet Earth is forgettable at best. If you have small kids who love anything Sci-Fi, save yourself the box office aggravation by pointing them at the comparably clever website while waiting a couple of seconds for this boring blockbuster rehash to air on the Cartoon Channel. Reviewed 02/13, © Stephen Bourne.
Special Chabbis (2013)
Cool Caper Crackles
Special 26 (2013) | India, 153 minutes, Rated PG (ON) NR (QC) | Reviewed 02/13, © Stephen Bourne
Bollywood triple threat superstar Akshay Kumar is wily career con artist Ajay Singh in acclaimed director/screenwriter Neeraj Pandey's incredibly captivating 80s crime drama that co-stars Manoj Bajpayee, Jimmy Shergill, Kajal Agarwal, and Silver Linings Playbook (2012) SAG Awards ensemble cast nominee Anupam Kher, as intensely dogged Central Bureau of Investigation agent Waseem Khan, Senior Police Inspector Ranvir Singh, Ajay's love interest Priya, and his aged pokerfaced partner in crime P.K. Sharma, respectively.
Originally entitled Special Chabbis in its homeland India, Special 26 is reportedly inspired by a notoriously bold 1987 Mumbai jewelry store robbery valued at an estimated 3.5 million Rupees (approximately $150k Canadian.) Pandey's meticulously crafted screenplay adopts several aspects of that unsolved daylight heist, including these actual scamming masterminds posing as CBI agents and running a newspaper ad leading to the recruitment of locals to unwittingly join their latest jewel-snatching scheme as fake Government of India security officers.
Kumar is phenomenal here, effortlessly shedding the hammy, goofball screen personas of his many previous movies to tightly define Ajay's consistently cool charisma while carrying the lion's share of this 153-minute caper. As well, take note of the soundtrack's wonderfully haunting love song Mujh Mein Tu, sung by Kumar throughout. Kher and Bajpayee also pull in thoroughly astounding performances here, deftly squeezing out every morsel of character definition and drama from this cleverly twisty script for moviegoers of all ages to enjoy. The fun cinematic touches and CGI trickery used in recreating India circa 1980s are virtually seamless and truly inspired.
Sure, there are flaws. The pacing at times feels unnecessarily drawn out and unintentionally comical, particularly during early scenes that seem intent on heightening dramatic anticipation. The accompanying incidental boop-boop instrumental doesn't help. It's also disappointing that Agarwal's role as Priya and that of Divya Dutta as Shantiji play out as little more than peripheral human eye candy unimportant to the over-all storyline. Also disappointing is that there's no official website for this big budget effort, apparently relying exclusively on a simple Facebook page and Twitter account for its online presence.
Absolutely check out Special 26 for the outstanding performances led by Akshay Kumar, and for this subtitled, masala-tinged crime drama's clever and thoroughly satisfying story. Awesome! Reviewed 02/13, © Stephen Bourne.
Special 26 is rated PG by the Ontario Film Review Board for occasional use of words such as darn, damn, hell, limited embracing and kissing, and restrained portrayals of non-graphic violence, and is not rated by la Régie du Cinéma in Québec.
Hotel Transylvania (2012)
Mondo monster fun!
Somewhere within haunted woods lays the secret entrance leading under a foggy graveyard and over a lone stone bridge to Hotel Transylvania, perched on its secluded rocky island in the shadows of central Romania's Carpathian Mountains. Human-free since 1898, Dracula's (voiced by Adam Sandler) castle-like vacation destination offers sanctuary to monsters of all kinds seeking refuge and relaxation from the daily grind of damnation. A tireless staff of zombie redcaps, witchy maids and gargoyle waiters lurch at the ready to serve all guests. The hotel is also home to Dracula's daughter Mavis (Selena Gomez), whose upcoming 118th birthday means finally discovering the unknown world beyond her overprotective father's creature comfort inn - until lost young American backpacker Jonathan (Andy Samberg) wanders into the lobby.
Wow. What an incredibly entertaining animated feature. Heavily softened and loosely modernized, the primary supporting characters Dracula, Frankenstein (Kevin James), Griffin the Invisible Man (David Spade), Wayne the Werewolf (Steve Buscemi), and Murray the Mummy (CeeLo Green) are delightfully based on some of the most famous Universal Studios monsters to ever haunt the silver screen. It's great seeing them lovingly depicted here for a younger and young-at-heart crowd of moviegoers. If you're so inclined, doing a quick search through Wikipedia brings up a wealth of history regarding each of these legendary creatures of the night, including which famed films were based on stage plays, literary treasures and ancient lore.
And, before the ghoul patrol purists start foaming at the ears, yes Wayne isn't really a werewolf. We know he's more an anthropomorphised wolf night and day. Yes, Frankenstein has always ever been the name of the doctor not the monster in the true classics. Relax, it's a fun kids movie. Just roll with it, and enjoy the glib aside at the Twilight movies near the end.
Peter Baynham and Robert Smigel's screenplay crackles with boundless energy and clever laughs throughout this 91-minute screening. It's sheer genius that these monsters are actually just as terrified of humans, fearful that we're getting fatter to overpower them and do nasty things such as cut open their heads to fill with candy. Hilarious. The story arc shift from it being about Dracula and his wonderfully motley hotel guest to it being about sheltered Mavis seeing the wider world through Jonathan's gregarious eyes is memorably rich and compelling. Also, keep an eye out for Wayne's daughter Winnie (voiced by Sandler's daughter Sadie), who uproariously steals her one scene opposite the big boys. Top marks also go to Ron Lukas and Noelle Triaureau for their outstanding art direction here. Hotel Transylvania is visually amazing.
Amazing still, the official website is absolutely well worth checking out. Before clicking enter at its splash page, checking out the What guests have to say link takes you to a wonderfully imaginative listing on TripAdvisor. Notable highlights of the site itself are the paper toys of Mavis and Murray and the colouring pages of all the main characters available in the free downloads section. You'll also find slightly addictive games including Dracula's Maze, Wayne's Wolf Pup Wrangle, Suitcase Sort, and a What Monster Are You quiz. I easily lost a couple hours, uh, stringently investigating their play worthiness... okay, I was goofing off movie site gaming. Facebook users can also login to play The Hotel Transylvania Game app that lets you build your own hotel for monsters, and the site features a link to the free Hotel Transylvania Dash game on iTunes. Awesome: welcometohotelt dot com
Definitely do yourself a huge favour and check out Hotel Transylvania on the big screen for its brilliant humour aimed at the entire family, and be sure to check out all the free extra goodies on the truly impressive official website while it's still up. Reviewed 09/12, (c) Stephen Bourne
Hotel Transylvania is rated PG by the Ontario Film Review Board for scenes containing some grotesque images in a fantasy, comedic or historic context, limited use of slurs, crude content, scenes that may cause a child brief anxiety, or fear, embracing and kissing, and restrained portrayals of non-graphic violence, and is rated G by la Regie du Cinema in Quebec.
Blood Work (2002)
Sure, this flick plays out somewhat like an episode of 'Columbo' or 'Morse' at times
Blood Work -
Methodically paced and almost seamlessly plotted out, this crime thriller is a rare treat for fans of this genre. As with most of Eastwood's cop movies, there's a certain stride of logic to the way his brand of anti-hero meticulously peels apart whatever case he's become obsessed with. Him focussing on each piece of evidence until the actual truth eventually emerges. It's like watching a master stonemason chip away at a block of marble until the sculpture that was always there is magically freed by his capable hands. Awesome.
Terry McCaleb (Eastwood) is an F.B.I. investigator forced in to an uneasy retirement after suffering a life-threatening heart attack and subsequent transplant operation. When a recent homicide victim's sister proves that McCaleb's new heart is linked to the unsolved crime, Old Steel Eyes ignores the valid objections of his overprotective doctor and uses his wits and connections to hunt down the killer. Possibly a ruthless serial killer and his nemesis-at-large who has unexpectedly returned from the past.
Sure, this flick plays out somewhat like an episode of 'Columbo' or 'Morse' at times, where you've got a pretty good idea of whodunnit before the lovably crotchety protagonist gets back on track, figures it out and (in this case) beds the gorgeous love interest and fills the bad guy with a fistful of bullets. When I grow up, I wanna be Clint Eastwood. Although, the only niggling gripe I had was that one relatively interesting question regarding a possible database security breach was never really resolved. That aside, and as with every entertainingly plotted out morality play, getting caught up in the action and the deductive reasoning used to ultimately mete out Eastwood's patented vengeful justice still gives you good reason to leave the theatre feeling completely satisfied.
Full Frontal (2002)
I don't care that it was shot in three weeks, and has a speaking cameo with Brad Pitt as himself. I liked it anyways.
Full Frontal -
Just so there's no confusion, I will start off by stating that I liked this movie. This likely makes me part of a very small minority, judging from the feedback I've read and heard to date. However, I don't really care what other people think of this movie. Just as I don't care that it was shot in three weeks, and has a speaking cameo with Brad Pitt as himself. I liked it anyways.
Sure, it has Director's Experimental Art Film written all over it. It's not your run of the mill, linear style of cinematic storytelling. It's an easily confusing, sporadically funny, and often neurotic 'behind the scenes/slice of life' offering that seemed at times as though it had been edited together backwards. That is, until the jumbled pieces surrounding a forty-one year-old birthday girl/human resources exec, a magazine columnist, two movie actors, a theatre manager, a masseuse, and a birthday boy/entertainment producer all fall neatly together near the end. As things usually do, with 20/20 hindsight, in real life. And, I'm not quite sure what Soderbergh was trying to do with the film-within-a-film scenarios that are interwoven throughout the two secondary tales and what ends up being the main saga. Unless they were inserted as either crisp visual breaks from this picture's predominantly grainy self-conscious 35mm look, or as a clever device used to reflect a certain mindset regarding love. At any rate, this one is pretty heavy on the process of letting events just happen Real World-like, and is fairly light on spoon feeding a lazy audience looking for a bit of eye candy to go with their buttery popcorn tastes.
As I've alluded to, 'Full Frontal' is about love. Actually, several meaty yet subduely presented love stories about a handful of characters whose meandering, unnecessarily complicated lives intersect at various moments over a twenty-four hour time frame. Sometimes, love seems to be hiding in the background, as it is for our main married protagonists (played vulnerably well by Catherine Keeler and David Hyde Pierce). Sometimes, love is solely based on email-induced fantasy. Sometimes, love takes on a rather narcissistic flavour (this is about people in the entertainment industry, after-all). And sometimes, love just has to do with finding descreet indiscretions to maintain a tenuous sanity. Where this film slightly faulters is that these variations on this same theme get pushed aside by the director's almost insatiable need to get inside the screwed up heads of these screwed up lives. I suppose this is to make each character humanistically interesting - which it does - but, I can see how the absence of an obvious Hollywood plot to follow would put off a lot of mainstream movie-goers. Too bad for the majority. I liked it.