TRAILER: The Dictator

In my humble opinion the jury's still out on whether or not people have had enough of Sacha Baron Cohen's schtick. Personally, I feel it's pretty damn funny the first time around but negates any form of repeat viewings. That said, when you make as much as he does the first time around, who needs a second viewing? And of course, the Megan Fox bit is priceless.

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REVIEW: The Art Of Getting By

"Nothing special, but worth a look."

George is a special kind of slacker, a smart one whose been able to make it all the way to graduation without doing homework, projects or even tests.  Things get complicated when the principle cracks down on him and then to make matters even more tricky, he accidentally befriends Sally, the popular hot chick who he reluctantly falls for. 

There are countless teen angst movies out there that focus on different aspects of High School such as teen love, prom, being cool, sex and of course who can throw the biggest and best parties.  Because the High School niche is so vast, oftentimes it becomes easy as a viewer to get lost in the jumbled mess.  THE ART OF GETTING BY distances itself from the norm on most levels, focussing more on the reality of being a teenager in this day and age.  I had my reservations about this film at first, but I have to admit, there's a lot of truth floating about this flick, hard truths, the ones that sneak up on us when we're young and kick us in the face.  These trials and tribulations are game changers, they can and do often times determine our strengths, our weaknesses and test our resolve as we're moulded into the men and women of tomorrow.  This flick comes at us from a mostly male point of view, but I'd be hard pressed to believe there's any guy out there who wouldn't be able to relate with George on at least some level.

Painting an accurate picture does have its drawbacks however.  This by no means is a happy-go-lucky film, nor is it a comedy.  As a matter a fact, it's pretty damn depressing.  George's outlook on life isn't all the eccentric or out of place for being seventeen/eighteen, but as far as school goes, I know teachers have become a bit slack over the  years but letting everything slide till the end of the year and then letting him make it all up in the last three weeks seems like a bit of a stretch to me.  I dug how they didn't pull any punches when it comes to the game of love either.  We all remember our first burn, and it's never pretty.  I felt for this poor bastard because we've all been there, waiting too long to say the right thing (or anything at all) only to lose your chick to the next guy in line.  It's rough, but they got it right on the money here. 

THE ART OF GETTING BY is picture perfect view of life as a teenager out in the real world.  Reality seldom means rainbows, leprechauns and unicorns and that's where this flick excels.  Freddy Highmore and Emma Roberts handle their leading roles well, nothing memorable but at least they were believable.  Blair Underwood and Alicia Silverstone (who doesn't seem to be aging well, yikes) make cameo appearances as school faculty, but the coolest of the bunch was Harris the Art teacher, he was the shit.   One thing did stick out though, the fact that everywhere these kids went they were handed booze by parents and at bars despite the fact they're only eighteen.  This flick takes place in New York folks, where the drinking age is twenty-one.  Hell, I live in Canada where getting drunk is a national pass time and our drinking age is still nineteen.  I guess New York's a lot cooler than I thought. 

This flick isn't gold, but it spoke to me on a personal level.  I saw more than a few situations here than reminded me of High School, and all the lessons they don't teach you in the classroom.  It's not perfect, but there's something here to be sure.  It does however make me shake my head and whisper, "if I only knew then what I know now."

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TRAILER: Spartacus Vengeance

This third season of SPARTACUS has so very much riding on it. First, fans have had to wait two years to see how the first season progressed (due to Andy Whitfield's cancer diagnosis). Whitfield passed, may he rest in peace, and now the story continues with a new Spartacus leading the crowd. I wish Liam McIntyre all the best and hope he brings the same heart and soul to the character that Whitfield did. Of course, after a surprisingly interesting prequel season (GODS OF THE ARENA), I'm anxious as hell to see more Gannicus.

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TRAILER: Prometheus

I love all out, balls to walls science fiction pieces and they don't come around nearly as often as they should (please note, that although AVATAR was indeed a Sci-Fi flick, it doesn't cover this sort of territory). There's truly something magical happening here and I'm totally on board. I guess all the hype was worthwhile after all, trailer-wise, lets hope the film follows suit.

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BLU-RAY REVIEW: Evil Dead 2

"A face only a mother could love."

After clearly not learning his lesson the first time, Ash heads back into the woods to yet another dusty old cabin where he and his friends wake the dead a second time, this time losing his girl and a hand in the process.  Seriously bro, try Vegas next time.

When I was a kid just coming into my own with movies I was a big fan of horror.  I used to scan the many rows of VHS horror titles looking for the scariest or coolest pictures to aid in my selection.  I hadn't seen EVIL DEAD at this time, but the box for EVIL DEAD 2 looked (and still does look) pretty creepy.  Obviously I didn't know much about the storyline or the characters but I got the gist of it; these fools shack themselves up in a cabin out in the boons where they summon up some demons, accidentally or otherwise.  There's a part where Ash goes into the cellar and an old crone grabs his feet after saying, "someone's in my fruit cellar, someone with a fresh soul."  Our basement stairs back then looked just like that, and every time mom wanted me to go get something out of the deepfreeze I could hear that voice in my head (my view on mounted deer heads was also forever changed).  Oh yes, this movie scarred me as a child. 

Suffice to say, the old days were the days to enjoy campy horror like this as today I barely batted an eyelash.  Sam Raimi still gets mad props for going at the gruesome details with real prosthetics and loads of slimy substances.  This has become a trademark of his these days that still lives on (DRAG ME TO HELL), but this was Raimi's gore days at his finest.  He's known more now for his SPIDERMAN flicks, but horror is where he cut his teeth.  Particularly interesting here is where Raimi goes with the story at the end of the film, the time travel situation wasn't done all that much back then and it proved to be a clever story arc for a dullish sort of film.  Now bear in mind I say dullish because this film was a rough recreation of the first: a group of peeps end up in a secluded cabin in the woods where they open a big can of evil whoopass.  This is where the film fails for me now that I'm older and truly understand what's going on.

Raimi carries Ash over from the first film, which is fine, but I have to ask, if you and your crew went to a cabin in the woods in the first film only to have all hell break loose literally, why would you gather a new crew and do the same thing again?  This isn't like DIE HARD, where Bruce Willis ends up fighting a group of bad guys twice at Christmas, Ash CHOOSES to go back into the woods, to a decrepit cabin where they again, summon the undead.  This breaches the realm of believability for me and ends up pitching a tent on asinine stupidity.

EVIL DEAD 2 is gory, campy horror at its finest, no question there, but to properly appreciate it where this journey takes you, you really had to enjoy it in its hay day.  The other thing I always wondered about this series was how they went one eighty on the tone with ARMY OF DARKNESS.  Don't get me wrong, that's my favourite of the series simply because Ash becomes such a cool, over the top character, but again, this is completely opposite of the first two films.  I'm not saying it's a bad thing per say, but it is very confusing when trying to view these films as a series.  Be that as it may, all three films are classics that shouldn't be tampered with and I for one am not looking forward to Diablo Cody smearing her mark of the beast all over them here soon.     

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TRAILER: Game of Thrones Season 2

The first season of GAME OF THRONES was fantastic, everything I could hope for in a book to life conversion. Now that they have their audience, their budget and the free reign to go big, I'm thrilled to the bone to see where they take us. April feels so very far away.

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TRAILER: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

I'll be honest and say that I wasn't overly keen on a Hobbit film, simply because the book itself felt too childish for my liking. The LOTR's trilogy however was a true and solid step forward for fantasy and the second you see Ian Mckellan, the ring and Gollum here in the trailer, I'm sure your heart will skip a beat or two if you're a fan. I'm hoping this is every bit as epic and I want it to be.

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TRAILER: The Dark Knight Rises

No matter how you slice it, this one will be put under tremendous scrutiny and debate, but being a fan of the Knightfall series, as well as Bane, I've been anxious to see what Nolan would do for the character. This trailer still leaves a lot up in the air but that's fine, I have faith in Nolan's vision and his team and know for a fact that this will be a, if not the, highlight of the coming summer.

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TRAILER: Wrath Of The Titans

CLASH OF THE TITANS was alright, but I'll be honest in saying that I didn't enjoy it as much as I would have had I not reviewed the original (watching it for the first time) a couple weeks prior. I knew the plot and it was so fresh in my mind that I know it hurt the process. This one looks like they upped the ante in every way possible and I'm definitely looking forward to it. Bring on the wrath!

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REVIEW: Sherlock Holmes: A Game Of Shadows

"Obviously not as good as the first, but still good."

In pursuit of his most dangerous adversary yet, Professor James Moriarty, detective Sherlock Holmes must breakup his trusty sidekick Watson's Honeymoon plans in hopes of enlisting his aid on a journey that could very well prevent or ignite a world war.

Sherlock Holmes is a character Hollywood has been trying to reinvent for years now, but Conan Doyle's sultry detective hasn't been foremost in people's minds these past couple decades so it took a back shelf for quite some time.  But with Christopher Nolan's reinventing of another brilliant detective, came Guy Ritchie's turn to do the same.  There was a lot riding on the first Sherlock film (which could have easily bombed like so many other re-imaginations), but much to many people's surprise it was a big hit.  The ending prodded at a sequel that would pit Holmes against arch nemesis Professor James Moriarty, and low and behold we got exactly that...sort of.  The real question is does it live up to the first one and for me it was a mixed bag.

I saw the early trailers for the film as a red flag, mainly because there really didn't seem to be much happening.  Sure, there were a couple choice words between Holmes, Moriarty and Watson, but they weren't nearly enough to get the blood pumping.  There were numerous explosions and slow motion shots, but when it came right down to it I was hoping for more.  Even the final sequence, a joke between Holmes and Watson, was only remotely funny (and wasn't even in the film I might add).  The film itself is fun, but I do have two very large complaints, the first being the film's length and pace.  With all the explosions and fighting in the trailer, you'd think this was an adrenaline packed powder keg...but you'd be mistaken.  There are some great action sequences here, mainly the train and gun battles but these scenes get lost in unnecessary storylines as our two main characters interact with gypsies, street thugs and Holmes' eccentric brother.

For starters, these aforementioned characters are unnecessary and do relatively nothing to further the main plot.  Noomi Rapace was awesome in the original GIRL WITH THE DRAON TATTOO flicks, but sadly she's quite useless here.  The same can be said of Holmes' brother (and his ridiculous nude scene).  So many other aspects of the film relied upon the old "if it ain't broke (and made us a ton of cash the first time) don't fix it" method that the addition of these weak characters really came out and slapped me in the face.  They kept in the martial arts aspect of Holmes fighting style (which to some fans is debatable but I loved), but they went all Michael Bay on the explosions and slow motion end of things though.  It was still cool (the woods scene especially) but felt a little overdone this time.  The storyline itself wasn't nearly as intricate or grandiose as the first one, nor was the piecing together of the puzzle at the end, but make no mistake, the end conflict between Holmes and Moriarty is phenomenal.  I've heard it referred to as "Bond-esque" and I would certainly have to agree, that castle retreat in the mountains is in itself breathtaking.

SHERLOCK HOLMES: A GAME OF SHADOWS may drag its heels at times whilst relying a little too heavily upon old tricks, but rest assured this is still a good flick and that's mostly due to Robert Downey Jr.  RDJ came back to the game with KISS KISS BANG BANG (which you NEED to watch it if you haven't) and then fully rocked the world with both his Tony Stark and Sherlock Holmes personas.  His witty charisma is a welcome treat in Hollywood and has me rooting for the guy tenfold.  Jude Law also comes back in style, but the "piece de resistance" here is Jared Harris as Moriarty.  That said, though the end conflict (and few key pieces of dialogue building up to it) are indeed memorable, the film got drastically lost in the not so important details when it should have focussed more on this interesting rivalry.  On a side note, Rachel McAdams' character deserved better as at least she felt like she belonged in this story.  Sequels in this genre were starting to do so well there for awhile, but this and say, IRON MAN 2 (not to pick on RDJ) are two examples of Hollywood dropping the ball.  I'm still game for more HOLMES down the road but let's hope they go big or go home for round three.    

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TRAILER: Expendables 2

This is probably the best usage of the word "tease" in a long time. We don't see much but it's enough to get the old adrenaline pumping. I can't wait for the full trailer baby!

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TRAILER: Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance

I'm still not feeling this one, not even with the addition of Idris Elba (who rocks). I don't know, I guess it's just because they had a chance to do something special here by making a hard R comic book hero and giving the devil his due, so to speak. Instead, they dropped the ball quite terribly and though this one does look a slight bit better, I still have an awful taste in my mouth from last time that no amount of booze or red bull can wash away.

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TRAILER: Jack The Giant Killer

So Brian Singer is making an epic action flick based upon "Jack and the Beanstalk"...color me curious. I'm not a huge fan of this Hollywood endgame either (redoing children stories and fables--see RED RIDING HOOD to understand this folly), but in light of a decent trailer for SNOW WHITE AND THE HUNTSMAN, I might be able to get on board here. Time will tell.


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TRAILER: G.I.JOE 2: Retaliation

G.I.JOE was a mixed bag for many people, but as an avid fan of the toys as a kid and the cartoons even now, I was all for it. News of a sequel with significantly less cast had me worried, but I have to say this is a bold way to go and I'm pumped as hell to see where this journey takes us. This one had the making of a serious action adventure that just may surprise us all.


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TRAILER: Men In Black 3

I loved the first one, but lets be honest, the second one sucked big time and I'm not thinking a third one will be all that exceptional either. It really sucks too because Will Smith is a solid actor when he wants to be and this is not the return to glory I was hoping for after a long hiatus.


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TRAILER: Battleship

I still can't believe they're making a movies based upon board games but apparently it's happening whether we like it or not. That said, this doesn't look like the turd burger I expected and might (just might) end up being an okay action piece. One thing I'm not digging is Rihanna's forced accent.

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REVIEW: Another Earth

"Dull and very uninventive."

In the wake of a tragic car accident that claims the lives of to two people, the very night a second Earth is spotted in our solar system, a young girl who had everything going for her is left with nothing until she tries to make amends with the husband who's wife and son's deaths are her fault.

I remember catching the trailer for ANOTHER EARTH and feeling a bit intrigued, as the thought of well, another Earth (though unlikely) is still pretty damn cool.  That said, the idea behind this film can summed up quite easily by saying this is a tragic and very depressing story about a girl and an accident that destroys a family whilst a cool and provocative idea is lingering in the background.  The problem however, is that this film should have focussed upon this very cool idea, using the accident as the catalyst for sure, but keeping it in the background rather than building the story so closely around it.

Brit Marling's character Rhoda is a mess.  I can't even imagine going from being one of the youngest people accepted to MIT to being a school janitor.  The scene where she runs into a dude from school and he asks where she's working and what she's up to is brutally awkward and made me want to jump off a bridge, so I can only imagine what was going through her mind.  Of course, it was no more awkward than the relationship between Rhoda and John, the father from the accident.  I dug the idea of her wanting to make things right by him, even apologise at some point when she got the nerve, but I'm not so sure I dig where the relationship goes or what it blossoms into.

Not to seem like I'm being nitpicky but the few times they do try to explain Earth 2 make no real sense on a scientific level.  First, how the hell does another planet Earth just randomly pop up in our solar system and then invade our atmosphere like that without causing any sort of chaotic imbalances?  I mean seriously, this thing looks like it's going to hit us and nobody saw it coming before it was a blue light in the sky?  Now I'm no astrology major, but I thought all planets in our solar system revolve around the sun on very specific axis, and I can't help but think that another planet would throw it off, causing all sorts of trouble (remember in BRUCE ALMIGHTY when Bruce pulled the moon in closer for a romantic view causing disasters around the world?  That's how close Earth 2 seems to be, yet everything is fine).

ANOTHER EARTH sparks the imagination with talk of a second Earth like it's a parallel universe, but only enough to make us hungry rather than satisfy our appetites.  The story is far too depressing, even when it's trying not to be.  I loved the idea of winning a trip to EARTH 2, and that our main character had a shot at a second chance, but again, none of this makes any sense within the realm of reason.  The media and radio are making this new Earth out to be potentially dangerous, yet the first contact team won't be military...they'll be a rag-tag lottery group?  Also, people are at home watching the "first contact" via footage on TV as it happens?  I don't think so.  There's no way in hell the government would have that footage rolling live for audiences at home to view, it just wouldn't happen.  There was definitely potential here, it was just never truly realized or properly thought out.

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REVIEW: Hugo

"Not worth the effort."

After losing his father to an accidental fire, twelve year old Hugo goes to live with his uncle who tends the clocks at a train station.  When his uncle up and leaves, Hugo's left to fend for himself and when he's not stealing to survive or doing his uncle's job, he spends his time trying to fix his father's automaton, a metallic doll built like a music box.  With the automaton nearly fixed, Hugo struggles to unlock the one remaining mystery, a heart shaped keyhole he has no way of opening.

I love Marty Scorsese's work, from GOODFELLAS, CAPE FEAR, CASINO, GANGS OF NEW YORK, THE DEPARTED, to SHUTTER ISLAND and even BOARDWALK EMPIRE.  What do all these films (and one TV show) have in common you might ask, well they have nothing at all to do with HUGO on any level or in any way, shape or form.  Scorsese's at his best with gritty, violent works of art, not family films and though visually this film does have his sense of grace and style, atmospherically it's way off and I wasn't liking it one bit.  I can sum this one up in two words:  immensely overrated.

The story is all over the place with where it's trying to go, ignoring the straight line between A and B and instead rearing off in any and all directions as it tries to jam in all sorts of nonsense in to kill time.  And as such, we end up with about a half hour of dead weight that just drags the film down.  The subplot with the dog lady is just plain ridiculous, then we have a drawn out bit with Sacha Baron Cohen's inspector character and the flower girl that, in my opinion,  was elaborated upon simply because it's him.  And beyond that, there's all sorts of extra stuff like finding out a police officer's wife left him and is pregnant, which in itself doesn't fit within the realm of family themed fun and feels terribly out of place.  The mystery of the automaton is interesting to be sure, but the way it all comes together should've been handled smoother to keep the audience interested rather than putting them to sleep. 

The one thing this film has going for it is the acting.  Sir Ben Kingsley is brilliant (as always) and I love Chloe Grace Moretz, her rise to fame is well deserved and puts a big smile on my face.  Jude Law and Ray Winstone make brief appearances but are forgotten almost instantly as a result.  It's a shame really, as I'd rather see more of them than more of Cohen (I enjoy the guy's work, but his bumbling character here feels more like he belonged in Mr. Magoo).  It was however, refreshing to get some Christopher Lee action, that man dominates the screen no matter how small the role.  Newcomer Asa Butterfield did a good job as Hugo, he handled the emotional pull of dealing with tragedy very well and he, Moretz and Kingsley shared some believable, heartfelt chemistry when and where it counted.

HUGO is film with heart and some visual flare, but although this young boy's quest to help others is indeed noble, the whole thing seemed very unlikely.  A twelve year old boy can't live in the walls of a train station.  Sure, the film tries to justify it by way of Hugo tending the clocks in his uncle's stead, and like he says, "as long as the clocks keep working, I'll be fine".  If only it were that simple.  Without giving anything away, his uncle's found dead, and has been that way for months apparently, so who was cashing his pay checks this whole time?  They didn't have direct deposit back in the 30s, so don't you think someone in payroll would've noticed?  Hugo steals a bun and some milk at one point, but there's no fridge, stove, or even cupboards in his little niche in the walls, so what's he eating to stay alive?  Add to that it's winter time and everyone else is bundled up coats, hats and gloves, meanwhile this kid's running around in shorts.  I hate to cut up a family film, but the plot has more holes than a shooting range target after a day of heavy gunfire.  Had they trimmed the fat a bit better and addressed some of these points with a little more finesse, HUGO couldn't been much more fun, but instead we end up with a slow, drawn out film that loses you in all extra clutter.  Hopefully Scorsese goes back to the hardcore adult themed stuff, that's clearly where he belongs.

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