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phd_travel

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704 reviews in total 
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Mostly painful - hardly a comedy, very badly written, 25 July 2014
2/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The writer of this movie just isn't funny enough to have written an entire comedy. There are a couple of cute lines here and there but they are obscured by too much clichéd and silly dialog.

A couple gets married but realizes they are not meant for one another when he connects with an old flame and she with a new client. The actors are talented comedy actors but they look ill at ease given the strained situations. Anna Faris looks so awkward here and she is usually such a good comedienne. The slim and beautiful Rose Byrne tries hard with an English accent and all. And she is still so charming it kind of rescues some parts of the movie. Simon Baker is wrong as an American business man. And he looks a bit old for the role.

There are some terrible scenes, including the dove, the station finale etc.

Maybe it is a well intentioned warning against getting married before knowing your spouse well enough and not having enough in common. But it is a painful way to get the message across.

Engrossing stories but the conclusion isn't well handled, 24 July 2014
6/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The 3 stories are interesting and each hold attention. Firstly Liam Neeson and Olivia Wilde play married writer and mistress in Paris, then James Franco and Mila Kunis play artist and wife / negligent mother in a custody battle in NYC, finally Adrien Brody as tourist in Rome subject to a scam. The acting is good especially from Mila in a dramatic turn as the mother struggling as a maid and get visitation for her child. The Adrien Brody part is all too familiar and frustrating as most tourists have had some scam practiced on them in Europe big or small. Olivia plays the quintessential mistress type very well and looks stunning.

The problem is that when things link up at the end it's too rushed and not clear enough so it feels frustrating that you got all interested in the characters to be resolved in a rushed manner. One spends all this concentration and effort on the stories and seeing how they link up and then the explanation is so crude. What a shame this movie could have been good if only the conclusion had been better handled.

Surprisingly touching, 23 July 2014
8/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

You may think you have seen enough terminal romances but surprisingly this one works. Even though you can expect some predictability and clichés, this tear jerker romance is engaging and watchable. It doesn't get too cute too often. Good twist.

Good job on how they made up Shailene Woodley to look tired around the eyes but not too sickly. For this kind of role she is quite dignified and restrained. Ansel Elgort smiles a bit too much at first but later on his sad face is touching. The trip to Amsterdam is enchanting and the valiant visit to Anne Frank's house is quite touching. At first I thought that the pairing would be strange with the sibling casting in Divergent but didn't really figure because the settings are different.

The Willem Dafoe writer thing is a bit annoying but it's good contrast so show how in real life everyone isn't all sweetness when it comes to cancer. The bitterness and bile are the reality check in this movie.

Overall worth a watch.

8 out of 18 people found the following review useful:
Don't waste your time - it's irritating, 21 July 2014
1/10

With all the good series these days don't waste your time on this one - it will probably be canceled. If it's irritating and doesn't entertain then there is no point watching it.

I've given this series 3 hours and it just isn't good. If after 3 episodes it can't get a viewer involved then forget it. The story feels contrived and uninteresting. But most of all the characters are annoying. The most irritating are the non speaking cult with Amy Brenneman and the sad looking Liv Tyler who wants to join. And there is no explanation for their silly behavior. So unfortunate for Justin Theroux - he finally gets a series and it's this.

The luckiest ones are the ones who disappeared in the beginning of the series which is exactly what the viewer should do.

2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Realistic racing sequences but lame story, 20 July 2014
3/10

F&F movies were running out of story with all the silly crime and fighting and overblown special effect type car chases so this movie has one thing going for it getting back to pure and simple car racing with some good scenery along the way. The Northern California race is spectacular and exciting enough and looks realistic - not obviously stunt man driven or special effect enhanced. Read that the actors had to learn how to drive racing style for their parts so kudos to them. But that's about all that is good about this movie.

The story is lame and badly written. The revenge thing is so contrived and you really don't feel for any of the characters. The romance is completely sizzle free. As far as the British cast is concerned Imogen Poots is a little out of place and the evil character played by Dominic Cooper seems a bit nasty for no good reason. Dakota Johnson has a insipid supporting role - wonder how she will do in 50 Shades? Aaron Paul is a terrific actor and is just priceless on "Breaking Bad" but he isn't right for this role. He doesn't have the cool edge and the rakish looks required for this character. And the intense stare he gives now and then simply looks daft.

Watch it if you like to see this kind of racing but be warned the story is bad.

0 out of 11 people found the following review useful:
Unfunny and painful - it's no 'First Wives Club', 20 July 2014
3/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

There are hardly any jokes and no laugh out loud moments. The humor is strained unoriginal and the crude toilet part is so done to death. The dialog is obvious and predictable. Even when they started to exact their revenge it wasn't delightful to watch at all. What they made Leslie Mann do - acting so loopy was just painful. The drunk thing was repetitive. The ending with Nikolaj Coaster Waldau walking into glass is not funny at all. Cameron isn't so good at acting the serious one. Better as the crazy one. She was better in Bad Teacher. Kate Upton didn't have many lines and looks quite sweet. Of course her voluptuous body is used to full effect. Taylor Kinney as Cameron's love interest is a bit under utilized.

Can't help but compare to another wronged woman revenge comedy "The First Wives Club". That one was funny and delightful. Melissa Stack is not good enough a writer to write a movie - she needed help. The talented cast could do nothing with this material.

The only good point is that it's pretty to look at with nicely decorated sets and beach resort scenery.

See it if you are a fan of one of the stars but be warned it's not funny.

A female version of Taken, 19 July 2014
7/10

Entertaining female version of Taken set in Moscow. It's fun for fans to see the differences and similarities. Julie Benz is quite a likable police officer. Her daughter visits Moscow with her friend who is the daughter of the U.S. Ambassador to Russia. They go to a night club and get kidnapped for sex slavery.

Of course the high heels and long hair during chases are a little unrealistic but who cares. The Ambassador looks and behaves more like support staff. And it's not as exciting or well written as a big budget movie but for a lifetime movie it is better than expected. Nice team work at play - it's not so unrealistic that she could do it all herself.

Worth a watch especially if you are a fan of the Taken formula.

0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Detailed but not uplifting, 18 July 2014
8/10

Often the point of a movie version of a beloved musical is to give more story and detail than the stage version. Clint Eastwood surely gives more emphasis to the story. For fans of the musical it's fascinating to watch the characters of each singer brought to life in a less rushed manner than on stage where the story is more quickly handled that it's secondary to the music. In the movie the mob connection and role of each singer is clearly shown. The period detail is good and the actors and singers are all terrific having been picked from various stage productions.

Unfortunately this shift in focus is what brings a damper to the overall feel compared to the musical. The story of the struggle to succeed is interesting but the break up of the group and the family troubles of Frankie Valli are depressing. The biggest fault was what Clint did to "Can't Take My Eyes Off of You" by linking Frankie Valli's daughter's death to the song and having the performance in a ballroom. In the musical it was a grand happy build up and the feel good climax of the whole show. In the movie it felt so anti climactic.

Overall it's a wonderful thing to have the great songs of Jersey Boys captured on screen for immortality. So despite the faults it's still worth watching for sure.

7 out of 21 people found the following review useful:
The best since the original - the apes are amazing, 10 July 2014
10/10

This film is the best in the series since the original Charlton Heston version and totally eclipses the last two disappointing movies with Mark Wahlberg and James Franco. Clear your memory of those two.

Modern effects combine with an interesting current story to create the perfect update. The apes are so life like expressive and captivating they are the real stars of the movie. They are given the more compelling story with a whole range of emotions and dialog. The "Switched at Birth" type sign language and subtitles are cute. Keri Russell provides sympathetic support. Jason Clarke is okay for the lead role though he looks a bit Neanderthal himself. Gary Oldman looks bedraggled enough.

Liked the San Francisco setting and City Hall scene though the Golden Gate was under utilized. More familiar landmarks and scenes of SF could have been used. The battle scenes are exciting and the story makes enough sense for this kind of scenario. There is a gun control message.

A must see - it's better than you can imagine.

The Surrogacy Trap (2013) (TV)
Topical and entertaining thriller, 9 July 2014
8/10

This lifetime thriller is above average - in fact one of the better ones for the non based on a true story movies. With the recent rise in surrogacy and gestational carriers among the famous the topic is quite current. As expected from the title, a couple use a seemingly perfect surrogate who turns out to want the kid for herself.

Rachel Blanchard who reminds of Sarah Paxton is pretty good as the surrogate. Mia Kirshner (why don't we see more of her?) is the biological mom. The acting is good. There are elements of Hand that Rocks the Cradle here. But things are kept fairly realistic for this kind of movie and the plot is not far fetched - it makes it more exciting because it could happen that way.

Entertaining.


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