The Simpsons Movie (2007)
Simpsons Fans Rejoice!
At last, after nineteen glorious seasons, the hilarity that is the Simpsons has been made into a full length theatrical movie. The Simpsons Movie is everything you could possible hope for it to be, and more. After Homer over-pollutes the river with an overflowing silo of "Pig Crap", Springfield becomes becomes the most polluted town in the wold. This causes the EPA to encase the entire town into a glass dome. Homer and the family escape, and now they must find their way (around their own problems) to save Springfield before President Schwarzenegger orders for the annihilation of the town. Simpsons fans rejoice, the movie is far from a letdown. It will leave you rolling in your seat with laughter with the rapid amount of hilarious jokes and gags. What makes this more than a bunch of Simpsons episodes strung together (besides the screen and sound format) is the depth of character explored and the focus of the story. In addition, The Simpsons Movie is much more offensive than a typical episode, with much more language and sexual humor. Parents beware, it earns its PG-13 rating. Even if you aren't a hardcore fan of The Simpsons, you'll still love this fantastic, outrageous comedy.
'Phoenix' May Be Best 'Potter' Yet!
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix is the 5th installment out of 7 in the story of Harry Potter. With the release of this film as well as the final literary installment of the series, 'Potter 'has received a great abundance of exposure (as if it needed it). In 'Phoenix', Harry and Dumbeldore are targeted by the Ministry of Magic after claiming (correctly) that the dark Lord Voldemort has been reborn. A sadistic member of the Ministry is installed in Hogwarts who slowly takes over the entire school. Meanwhile, a secret organization, the Order of the Phoenix, recruits Harry, and prepares for the Dark Lord's return. As the story gets darker, the films get better. This film (while it was not the best book in the series), is quite possibly the 'Potter' film yet. The teenage as well as adult cast excel while visuals and special effects are nothing less than top notch. While the film did do a good job making a page 896 book into a 2 hour and 15 minute movie, I do wish that it could have been longer to include more details and sub-plots which were cut either in post production or during the writing process. The explosive finale is incredible and will cast a spell on you throughout. 'Phoenix' is a must see for any 'Potter' fan, while others will still find it an enjoyable ride.
Live Free or Die Hard (2007)
Die Hard Rocks Despite Watered Down PG-13 Rating
Live Free or Die Hard is the fourth installment in the Die Hard series, starring Bruce Willis as the tough ass police detective John McClane. This time, McClane teams up with an internet hacker (Justin "Hello, I'm a Mac" Long) in attempts to take down some internet terrorist organization, whose goal is to destroy the entire United States economy. The whole plot moves quickly without giving the viewer much time to actually think about what's going on, and in actuality, just sets up the movies' next stunning, yet implausible action sequence. The action sequences are really what this movie is all about. No one comes into this movie theater for a clever script or Oscar material acting. They come to see Bruce Willis shoot people, run around, blow stuff up, and say "Yippy-yi-yay mother------" . And that's exactly what they receive. Shot as an R movie, Live Free or Die Hard was watered down in the editing room to obtain a more "family friendly" PG-13 rating. It's obvious where some of the choppy cuts are to blank out an F word or cut away right before the impact of a bullet. Even so, it does not become a children's movie. It's still bad ass, and Bruce Willis is still awesome. Keep an eye out for a great cameo of Kevin Smith as "The Warlock." **** of *****
'At World's End' is better that 'Dead Man's Chest', but not as good as 'The Curse of the Black Pearl.'
Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End is the third installment in the 'Pirates' saga. Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) is stuck in Davy Jones' Locker, located somewhere off the map, for eternity. Will Turner (Orlando Bloom), Elizabeth (Keira Knightingly), and Captain Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush) must travel to this location and save our favorite pirate, in a plot that is somewhat overblown with too many characters, plot twists, and impulses of randomness. Besides being overloaded with just a little too much of everything, 'Pirates' is also much longer than necessary at a running time of nearly three hours. What powers 'Pirates' is not the plot, but the visuals. What's really amazing about the movie is use of special effects. From a ship full of Johnny Depp's to a climactic battle literally at the world's end, 'Pirates' never fails from continuously dropping the jaws of moviegoers. Though for me, the whole 'Pirates' idea is a little old, and with an ending implying a forth, it seems like money is all the franchise has in mind, I still enjoyed the movie thoroughly. The movie will make you want to doze off during any inaction, and want to wait for the action to start up again, but make sure that you don't doze off during the sessions of dialog, for you will find yourself quite lost. So pay attention, or after the movie you'll say to yourself, "Wait...what just happened!?" The bottom line is: 'At World's End' is better that 'Dead Man's Chest', but not as good as 'The Curse of the Black Pearl.' ***1/2 of *****
Hot Fuzz (2007)
You will enjoy yourself so much, you just might explode.
From the creators of "Shaun of the Dead" comes "Hot Fuzz", a hilarious film that somewhat parodies buddy cop movies, and is filled with references to films like "Bad Boys II" and "Point Break". Just as in "Shaun of the Dead", "Hot Fuzz" starts of slow, and builds it's way up to a hilarious and amazing second half. It stars Simon Pegg as Nicholas Angel, a sergeant in the London police force who is reassigned for being too good, and making the other officers "look bad". But the small, innocent town of Sandford where Angel is reassigned to, turns out to be anything but that. After a series of grisly "accidents", Angel starts to believe there's something much bigger than than a few mishaps afoot. What you see in the trailer for "Hot Fuzz" is quite misleading actually, because most of it occurs in the first half of the movie. But after that, the movie takes a large turn into a completely different direction. That direction, which I'm not going to elaborate on, ends in a completely mind blowing conclusion, that you will not see coming. With that said, I would like to note that if you don't like British humor, you might want to stay clear of this one. I, myself, love British humor, and found the comedy aspect of this movie to be genius. In the middle, there are some scenes that drag a little, but it all builds up to the incredibly climactic ending. There's also quite a bit of graphic violence, though it is over-the-top. So if "Shaun of the Dead" was too violent, you may want to skip this one. And if you haven't seen "Shaun of the Dead", you should really check it out before going to see "Hot Fuzz". You will appreciate it much more. "Hot Fuzz" is an incredibly entertaining film. You will enjoy yourself so much, you just might explode.
Grindhouse Kills and Thrills as a Double Feature
'Grindhouse' is a double feature recreating the experience of a 70's exploitation film grindhouse theater. It is made up of two films. The first is Planet Terror directed by Robert Rodriguez, and the second is called Death Proof which is directed by Quentin Tarantino.
Planet Terror, directed by Robert Rodriguez (Sin City), is the better of the two movies. It is about El Wray (Freddy Rodriguez) and his go-go dancer (NOT stripper) ex-girlfriend Cherry Darling (Rose McGowan), who gets her leg bit off and eaten by zombie creatures referred to as "Sickos". The Sickos have broken out of their cages and have started infecting the entire town. With a machine gun/grenade launcher in place of her severed leg, Cherry must team up with her ex and the town's police station to defeat the Sickos and save their own lives. Planet Terror is bloody. Very bloody. In fact, the gore is so extreme that many will cringe and cover their eyes in many scenes. The violence is over-the-top though, so it's not too bad to endure at times. It is hard to label Planet Terror in one specific genre because it really doesn't belong to one. It's horror, action, sci-fi, comedy, and more. It is sick and twisted. Pure exploitation. The dialog is extremely cheesy, as is the whole film, really. But it is all done purposely to pay homage to similar B-movies of the past. Planet Terror is intense. It will make you laugh, cry, jump, cringe, cheer, and do god knows what else. It is great fun to watch. You will enjoy yourself throughout the entire fantastic film.
Tarantino's "Death Proof" is about a psychotic ex TV stunt driver called Stuntman Mike (Kurt Russell). He stalks his female victims with his "death proof" car. The girls that he stalks include characters played by Rosario Dawson (Sin City, Clerks II), Vanessa Ferlito (CSI:New York), Shannon Hazlett, Marcy Harriell, Zoe Bell, and Tracie Thoms. These women all play great roles and are interesting characters. The problem is, they talk. A lot. I don't have a real big problem with this, it is Tarantino's writing after all, which is usually fantastic. Parts of it are great. The dialog is fantastic and really roles in some parts, but in others, it gets somewhat tiresome and seemingly pointless. But enough about the dialog, lets talk about what we all came to the movie to see: the car chase scenes. The only thing more incredible than the car chase scenes, is the fact that they were done completely on location and for real. That means no stuntmen (except Stuntman Mike!) and no green screen. Tarantino, who admits he's a little fed up with the fakeness of today's car chase movie scenes, has taken it back to what it used to be: real cars, real people, real stunts, and only a few cameras set up, rather than an armada of cameras split a second a part from each other. And really, that is what makes "Death Proof" so fun to watch. Don't expect any serious conclusions or moral life lessons at the end though.
Fake Movie Trailers Grindhouse features several fake movie trailers before Planet Terror and in between the two features. The first is "Machete", which is rumored to be made into a straight-to-DVD release. Other trailers include Eli Roth (Hostel)'s "Thanksgiving", Rob Zombie's "Werewolf Women of the S.S." (also rumored to be made into a full movie because Zombie says he's shot enough footage for the trailer to be made into a full length film), and Edgar Wright(Shaun of the Dead)'s "Don't!" All of these trailers are hilarious and serve as great comic relief between the films. Some are quite disturbing and feature extreme violence, language, and nudity even though they are only trailers. All of them can be found on Youtube. ****1/2
****1/2 of *****
Blades of Glory (2007)
Ferrell and Heder are HILARIOUS!
Will Ferrell and Jon Heder star as two rival Olympic ice skaters were stripped of their gold medals and permanently banned from men's single competition in "Blades of Glory", a hilarious slapstick comedy directed by Josh Gordon and Will Speck. A few years later however, the two skaters find a loophole that allows them to skate together in the men's pairs division. Ferrell and Heder work well together on screen (in more ways than one), and provide the majority of the humor in the movie. Will Arnett and Amy Poehler co-star, and are very funny in their supporting roles. I have to admit, I was a little skeptical coming into this movie, but I was pleasantly surprised. The movie is far from perfect, but you will find yourself laughing out loud constantly throughout the movie. Although the script is somewhat lacking, and the acting and directing won't win an Oscar any time soon, it is still a hilarious movie, even if you are not a huge fan of Ferrell or Heder. And for those of you who are homophobes...this movie is only a little bit gay.
**** of *****
'300' Is Nothing Short of a Masterpiece
Based on Frank Miller's graphic novel about the Battle of Thermopylae in 480 B.C., '300' tells the tale of King Leonidas' stand with 300 of his finest Spartan warriors against the massive and impenetrable force of Xerxes' Persian army. This over-stylized, but stunning interpretation of the event is not meant to be historically accurate. Director Zack Snyder based the movie off of Frank Miller's graphic novel. In fact, they are nearly identical frame-by-frame. The overall story is true, but the details have been altered quite a bit. But unless you are a history fanatic, that really shouldn't matter to you too much. The movie itself is visually stunning. Your jaw will hit the floor so many times, you'll loose count. '300' is an epic beyond epics. Using 90% blue screen, and 10% green screen, the creators of '300' opened a world of options for CGI graphics. The possibilities became virtually endless with today's technology. This is the future of computer animation in live action films. And the action in '300' is phenomenal. The choreography, camera work, and execution of the battles is mind-numbing. You will not see anything like it anywhere, anytime soon. '300' is near perfect. The only complaint that I could possibly have is the potentially right-wing conservative political view of writer Frank Miller. That aside, this as an amazing film, with not a dull minute through it's running time. I highly recommend it to action fans in particular, but really any mature movie audience. '300' is nothing short of a masterpiece.
P.S. Try to see it in IMAX. It is more worth it than you can imagine.
Amazing, and Very Important Film
The movie Screamers is a documentary/rockumentary that focuses on the Armenian Genocide of 1915, but also points out the atrocities that have occurred in other genocides through the present. Director Carla Garapedian follows System of a Down, an American rock band with Armenian ancestry, on their tour through the U.S. and Europe. On their tour, System of a Down educates their audience of the horrors of the past. The Armenian Genocide today, is still not recognized by the Turkish government, its perpetrators. On April 24th, the anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, System of a Down's front man Serj Tankian made his message clear. On stage before the screaming fans, he shouts, "Tonight is not just the 90th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, it's also time to break down all the walls of hypocrisy around the world with all genocides known and unknown, accepted or not accepted. It's time to make the Turkish government... to pay for their f***ing crime!" SOAD then proceeded to play their song P.L.U.C.K., which stands for Politically Lying Unholy Cowardly Killers (referring of course to the Turkish government). Half of the film is concert footage from SOAD's tour, and the other half is some very graphic footage of genocide, and interviews from researchers, survivors, etc. Most notable of these is Serj Tankian's grandfather, one of the few living survivors of the Armenian Genocide. In addition to the fact that the Armenian Genocide is still denied by the Turks today, another reason that this film is so important, is that right now there is genocide occurring in Darfur. Some of the images in Screamers are very graphic, and hard to watch, however, it is necessary that people be exposed to the truth. This is an incredibly powerful and important film. A lot of people haven't heard of this film because of it's limited release and exposure. It's a real shame because it really is an amazing film. It also helps a lot if you're a System of a Down fan.
The Pursuit of Happyness (2006)
Great Story. Great Acting.
Inspired by true events, The Pursuit of Happiness follows the story of a struggling salesman (Will Smith), who takes custody of his son after his wife leaves, and tries to work his way up to becoming a stockbroker through internship. Faced with a nearly empty bank account, he must try to care for his son the best he can, and pray that his hard work will pay off, and give him the job that will save his life, all in the pursuit to find happiness. Will Smith has come a long way since The Fresh Prince of Bell-Air. This appears to be his shoot for an Academy Award, and his phenomenal acting is definitely worth an Oscar nomination. The story is very emotionally moving, and truly inspiring, however, at times it is quite depressing and drags a little bit. There is a little humor thrown in here and there, but for the most part, the film is quite serious. The viewer really becomes attached to Smith's character, and the movie makes you root for him to succeed all the way through. Although you could call The Pursuit of Happiness a "feel-good" movie, for the most part it is on the depressing side. Despite that, it is a great story, told wonderfully by top-notch acting.