Monday, May 30, 2011

X-Men 1 - 3


Seeing as the latest X-Men film, a prequel, is opening this Friday, my self-assigned homework assignment this holiday weekend was to revisit the original trilogy, none of which I'd seen since they premiered in the theater in 2000, 2003, and 2006, respectively.  (Yes, yes, I know, 'X-Men Origins: Wolverine' was also released in 2009, but I'll save a review of that one for another day.  In short, I'm not a fan.)  So here are some if my random thoughts on the trilogy and Marvel comic films.  (Full disclosure:  I used to be a fan of the comic, so I knew the characters going in.  As such I went in with some strong feelings about the series.)

The key casting is perfect, most notably Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellan, Hugh Jackman, and Famke Janssen.  I couldn't have imagined a better fit for Professor X, Magneto, Wolverine, or Jean Grey.  In fact, as good and memorable as Stewart was as Jean-Luc Picard, I really believe he was born to play the part of Professor X.  On the other hand, I really didn't care for Tyler Mane's Sabretooth in the first, Alan Cumming's Nightcrawler in the second, or Kelsey Grammer as The Beast in the third.  (Frasier as the Beast?  Seriously??)  Re-casting Sabretooth with Liev Schrieber in 'X-Men Origins: Wolverine' was a smart (and necessary) move.

Marvel comic films rarely hit the mark, but they're also rarely terrible (although 'Thor' was pretty bad and 'Spiderman 3' was definitely a disappointment.).  I can't quite explain why they're rarely great, but maybe it's something about the focus on the visuals, effects, and action sequences rather than creating meaty roles and a good script.  Or maybe it's that they get bogged down with origin stories of the heroes and villains, which can be dull especially if you know them already.  (Does anyone not know Spiderman's origin yet?  I sure hope the reboot next summer starts fresh and original.)  But certainly some Marvel comic films are better than others, with 'Iron Man' being at the top of my list largely due to Robert Downey Jr.'s undeniable charisma, and 'Spiderman 2' for its surprisingly touching scenes and for the casting of Alfred Molina.

The characters are often a little too black and white; There are heroes and there are villains.  At least in this series, with Magneto and Professor X, you get some shades of grey, with a sense for why they think the way they do.

I know it's always a throwaway, but I do enjoy Stan Lee's cameos.  Does any human look and sound more like they belong in a comic book movie?  Give this guy more screen time.  It's a slight shame he doesn't make it into the first two X-Men films.

Bryan Singer directed the first film shortly after his breakout hit 'The Usual Suspects'.  (He did one film in between called 'Apt Pupil, also with Ian McKellan.)  All things considered I think he did a a decent job, but I expected something a little more from the guy who made 'The Usual Suspects'.  Although after seeing it a second time I must admit, the first film is better than I originally gave it credit for.  The allegory for the extermination of mutants to the nazis is an interesting one.

Unfortunately, the storyline of the second film is not as interesting as the first and third, yet still a fairly fun watch.

I think the third film is underrated, with a solid and thought provoking storyline about 'the cure'.  Unfortunately, letting director Brett Ratner take the baton from Bryan Singer was a mistake.  This one, with some key character deaths, would have benefitted from being a little darker.  (More 'Batman Begins', less 'Rush Hour').

But enough of my rambling criticism.  They're all fun watches.  So see 'em again, bub.

Grades:
X-Men 1:  B+
X-Men 2:  B-
X-Men 3:  B+

And am I psyched for the prequel opening this Friday?  I am, but really only because it's directed by Matthew Vaughn, who directed 'Layer Cake', 'Stardust', and 'Kick-Ass' and produced several of Guy Ritchie's films.  With that track record I'd be psyched seeing anything he does.  Although I'm not sure an X-Men prequel was really high on my priority list.  But we'll see...

Friday, May 27, 2011

FOX 35 News Orlando - Friday 5/27/11


Check out my appearance from this morning where I gave my thoughts on 'The Hangover Part II', 'Kung Fu Panda 2', and 'Too Big to Fail'.


In Theaters Now

Looking to head to the theater this weekend, but don’t know what to see?  Here are my grades at a glance:
(Movies released today are in green)

Meek's Cutoff                      Grade: A

Scream 4                              Grade: A-

The Greatest Movie Ever Sold    Grade: A-

The Hangover Part II           Grade: A-

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides     Grade: B+

Hesher                                  Grade: B+

The Conspirator                  Grade: B+

Bridesmaids                        Grade: B+

The Double Hour                 Grade: B

Rio                                        Grade: B

Win Win                              Grade: B

Water for Elephants          Grade: B

Insidious                             Grade: B

Jane Eyre                            Grade: B-

Everything Must Go          Grade: B-

The Beaver                        Grade: B-

Cave of Forgotten Dreams    Grade: C

Thor                                   Grade: C

Forks over Knives              Grade: C-
Something Borrowed       Grade: D
Kung Fu Panda 2               Grade: D
Hobo with a Shotgun       Grade: F

The Hangover Part II


It's been two years since we were treated to the unexpected hit of the summer of 2009 with the surprisingly perfect ensemble cast of Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, Zach Galifianakis and Justin Bartha.  They're all back for seconds and, as you can tell from the poster, we lost a tiger and a missing tooth, and gained a monkey and a tattoo.

Like most people, I loved the first one.  But a lot of that was due to the fact that we all went in with low expectations.  My main concern for this sequel was that we now know the score, so if they try to do the exact same thing again we won't be as easily charmed.  Well, I must tell you, they did indeed try to do the exact same thing.  In fact, the entire story arc is eerily similar to the first film, albeit this one takes place in Thailand rather than Vegas.  However, amazingly enough, despite the fact they basically remade the first film, it still totally works again.  I can't believe it.  This movie is very entertaining.  Once again, the chemistry is perfect, the comedy is dead on, and there is a pervasive sense of real danger throughout.  It's really impressive.  Besides the cast, Todd Phillips, who also directed the first one as well as 'Old School', probably deserves a lot of credit for getting the tone and performances just perfect.  These are well made films.

This is easy.  If you loved the first one, definitely go see the second.  It's a no brainer.

Grade: A-

Kung Fu Panda 2


If you read my review of 'Kung Fu Panda', you know I'm not a fan.  Not even close.  Nevertheless I was hopeful there was good reason to make this sequel and that I'd be pleasantly surprised.  I was not.

It's hard for me to find anything positive to say here.  The storyline was a bore, the dialogue was lame, it wasn't funny, and the visuals weren't even that interesting.  And truthfully, it seemed too dark, and with too much dialogue and backstory for the kids.  I would skip it and join me in a prayer that the powers-that-be at Dreamworks don't decide to make this a trilogy.

Grade: D

Too Big to Fail


This made for cable film about the financial and real estate crisis that began in 2008 premiered a few days ago on HBO.  When I first saw the trailer for it, I couldn't believe the stellar cast including William Hurt, James Woods, Paul Giamatti, Bill Pullman, Tony Shalhoub, Topher Grace, Cynthia Nixon, and Ed Asner.  Wow.  That is a seriously good ensemble.  And this is a seriously good film.  Having lived through the crisis, and having read about it and seen the TV coverage, and having watched the documentary 'Inside Job', I would have figured I knew everything I needed to know about what happened.  But this dramatization really hits it home.  It's entertaining and eye opening.  It details what went wrong and who was responsible.  I definitely recommend watching it (along with 'Inside Job') if only so that we educate ourselves and hopefully not let it happen again.  Oh, and it's also a pretty fun watch.  I just wish it were fiction.

Grade: B+

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Kung Fu Panda


If there are two genres I'm not a fan of they are surely Kung Fu and maybe Animation.  There are many exceptions to the latter but not any I can think of to the former.  A good Kung Fu film sounds like an oxymoron to me.  And surely, this film is no exception.  I skipped it when it was in theaters in 2008, but since I'm going to be reviewing the sequel on Friday I figured I should give it its due diligence.  Much to my chagrin.

I went in knowing nothing about the film except for the title (which is right up there with 'Hot Tub Time Machine' in the category of titles I clearly don't find as humorous as the creators.) And I could tell in the first five minutes exactly what was going to happen.  At that point I knew it was going to be a rough ride.  The only good news was I only had 86 minutes to go.

Jack Black voices a panda who dreams of being a Kung Fu hero rather than the heir to his father's noodle restaurant.  First off, I am so damn tired of these 'follow your dreams' message films for kids, like this one and 'Hop' (which is bad, but better than this).  What is this world going to come to if we have no more noodle restaurants because no one wants to run them, and instead we have a society full of people trying to become Kung Fu Dragon Warriors?  Oh, it's gonna get ugly.  And besides my issue with the message, it's just a complete waste of time.  It's one of those films I feel like I could've written while sitting on the toilet.

Other voices include Dustin Hoffman, Angelina Jolie, Ian McShane, Seth Rogen, Lucy Liu, David Cross, and Michael Clarke Duncan.  Seriously, Dustin Hoffman, couldn't you find a better use of your time?  Painful, just painful.

Grade: D

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Swingers


Baby, you're so money and you don't even know it!  Rewatching 'The Hangover' got my juices flowing to revisit this classic from 1996 with the original trip to Vegas, baby, Vegas.  It doesn't matter how many films Vince Vaughn and Jon Favreau make, we'll always think of them paired together in this Miramax classic.  (Unfortunately their future team-ups in 'Made', 'The Break-Up', 'Four Christmases', and 'Couples Retreat' weren't nearly as memorable.)

Is it the snappy dialogue?  Is it the male bonding and camaraderie?  Is it the classic uncomfortable scene when Favreau leaves like six messages in a row on a girl's answering machine right after getting her number?  Is it all the 'honey babies' sprinkled throughout?  Is it director Doug Liman's homages to Tarantino's slo-mo walk sequence from 'Reservoir Dogs' or Scorsese's tracking shot from 'Goodfellas'?  Is it the great swing and rat pack soundtrack?  Yup. 

Oh, it's on.

Grade:  A

Monday, May 23, 2011

The Hangover

In anticipation of the upcoming sequel opening this Friday, I thought it was an appropriate time to revisit this bachelor party trip to Vegas gone horribly awry.  I clearly remember seeing it in the theater almost exactly two years ago, and being very pleasantly surprised.  But a large part of that was having low expectations.  Frankly, it didn't really sound all that appealing.  Call it 'Bachelor Party' meets 'Swingers' meets 'Very Bad Things'.  Ho hum.  It's all been done.  But yet it worked again, possibly better than ever before (well, arguably with the exception of 'Swingers') and this time it blended great comedy with a darker element of real danger and mystery.

In Hollywood a lot can change in two years.  Two years ago, I hadn't really paid much mind to anyone in the cast, although Bradley Cooper had already been in 'Wedding Crashers' and 'Alias', and Ed Helms was gaining fame from 'The Office', but I wasn't at all familiar with Zach Galifianakis or Justin Bartha.  But here their chemistry was undeniable.  I never would have guessed that would be the case.  It was genius casting.  And this movie definitely propelled them all to new levels of fame.

So can 'The Hangover Part II' bring it again?  I'm skeptical.  The element of surprise is gone.  This time we're all going in with higher expectations and they're going to need more than a tiger, a missing tooth, and Mike Tyson to wow us.  Check back on Friday for my thoughts.

Grade:  A-

Friday, May 20, 2011

Hobo with a Shotgun


I hate grindhouse and exploitation movies.  I don't get the attraction.  And this one is absolutely terrible.

It's actually based on one of the fake trailers from Quentin Tarantino's and Robert Rodriguez's 'Grindhouse' film.  That alone should be an indicator it's going to be terrible.  (And this is actually the second fake trailer-turned-feature film from that movie, with 'Machete' being the first.)

Purposely filmed to look like it was made in the 70's, and filled with extreme gratuitous violence and gore, Rutger Hauer (who will always be 'The Hitcher' to me) stars as the hobo with the shotgun who decides to take on a town of psychopathic murderers, vigilante-style.  Reminiscent of the 'ultraviolence' of 'A Clockwork Orange', a 'classic' film of which I never understood the appeal, this is just bad-for-the-soul trash.  I actually walked out after 25 minutes.  And I never do that.  But I feel really good about that decision.

I understand this will have a small cult following of disturbed individuals who think it's the greatest film of the year.  But they are wrong and should seek professional help.  It's the worst movie of the year.  By far.

Grade: F

FOX 35 News Orlando - Friday 5/20/11


Check out my appearance from this morning where I gave my thoughts on 'Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides', 'The Beaver', and 'Paper Man'.


In Theaters Now

Looking to head to the theater this weekend, but don’t know what to see?  Here are my grades at a glance:
(Movies released today are in green)

Meek's Cutoff                      Grade: A

Scream 4                              Grade: A-

The Greatest Movie Ever Sold    Grade: A-

Limitless                              Grade: B+

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides     Grade: B+

Hesher                                Grade: B+

Source Code                        Grade: B+

The Conspirator                  Grade: B+

Bridesmaids                        Grade: B+

The Double Hour                 Grade: B

Rio                                        Grade: B

Win Win                              Grade: B

Water for Elephants          Grade: B

Insidious                             Grade: B

Jane Eyre                            Grade: B-

Everything Must Go          Grade: B-

The Beaver                        Grade: B-

Cave of Forgotten Dreams    Grade: C

Thor                                   Grade: C

Forks over Knives             Grade: C-
Something Borrowed       Grade: D

Hobo with a Shotgun       Grade: F

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides


Jack Sparrow is back!  I didn't think it would happen, but Johnny Depp reprises his role yet again as that lovable flamboyant pirate and this time he's out to find the Fountain of Youth.  Along for the quest is Geoffrey Rush returning as Barbossa, and a new cast of characters including Penelope Cruz and Ian McShane.  Unfortunately I didn't feel like Rush was given as interesting a part as he had in the first and third films, and that's a real shame because he can really bring it if the part is there.  I always find Cruz annoying, however she didn't ruin the experience for me.  But McShane fits right in to a film like this.

The fourth installment has a new feel to it than the original trilogy.  This one struck me as more of an Indiana Jones type adventure film.  And Jack Sparrow meets Indiana Jones makes for a pretty fun combination.  But, not surprisingly, this one is not as good as the original trilogy.  It doesn't have nearly as much of an intricate plotline, and the action sequences are too frequent and not quite as interesting as the prior films.  Since the writers are the same, I have to place some blame on the new director, Rob Marshall, who replaced Gore Verbinski.  Marshall is most famous for film musicals like 'Chicago' and 'Nine', so why didn't he use that experience to make this film a bit more musical?  I think that would have complimented the levity of the series.  Nevertheless, it's fun and, like Indiana Jones, I'd rather have an inferior sequel than not ever get to see the character again.  (Yes, I actually enjoyed the fourth Indiana Jones movie.  There, I said it!)  In fact, I wouldn't mind having many more Pirates sequels to come.  And fortunately, I suspect I'll get my wish a few times more.  Shiver me timbers, matey!

Grade: B+

Forks over Knives


What you're eating is killing you!  That's the thesis of this documentary preaching healthier eating habits.  Basically the filmmaker believes that the dramatic rise in cancer, heart disease, and diabetes is due to all the meat, dairy, and processed foods we eat.  And the cure for these diseases isn't medication, but merely a whole foods plant-based diet.  And now I've just saved you 90 minutes and $10.

I have to separate my review of the message and of the film itself.  I do believe in the validity of the message and if I were a stronger willed person I would implement changes in my diet immediately.  (But since I am not, I'm eating a chocolate bar as I write this.)   However, I just don't think it's a well made film.  Truthfully, it looks like it was made in the 70's to be shown as a filmstrip in grade school.  It's ironic that a film with such a cutting edge message looks so dated.  And don't look for any Michael Moore or Morgan Spurlock type entertainment value.  This is a dry, educational film with a bunch of talking heads.  And since I already conveyed to you everything you need to know, you can skip it.  You're welcome.

Grade: C-

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Pirates of the Caribbean 1 - 3




Yo Ho Yo Ho a Pirate's Life for Me!  It's hard to believe it's almost time for the fourth installment for this hugely popular (and hugely expensive) series that began back in 2003.  (Reportedly, the second and third installments were made together for an estimated combined $450M, making them the most expensive film production of all time.)  Does anyone even remember these mammoth blockbusters were based on a ride from Disneyland and the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World?  Undoubtedly kids born in the 2000's will henceforth think the ride was based on the films.  Regardless, they're great fun and there is so much detail and exposition that they make for excellent repeat viewings.  I just watched them for the second time and I think I could still use another viewing to get it all straight.  If you don't recall words like parlay and savvy, and characters like Davy Jones and Bootstrap Bill, then it's probably time to revisit them.

I must admit, when I first saw the first film in the theater back in 2003, I wasn't initially blown away.  Like many, I was surprised at the non-traditional approach Johnny Depp had taken to creating the character of Jack Sparrow.  Is he gay?  Is he Keith Richards?  What gives??  Reportedly, many studio executives on the set of the first film were quite confused and quite angry about it during filming.  Of course, since the film became a huge success, it turns out Depp is the true genius and not the Suits.  And like most movie fans, I now deem the character as one of the most memorable in film history, and I have very much warmed up to the first film.  Throughout the entire trilogy, every scene with either Depp or Geoffrey Rush never ceases to bring a smile to my face.  And I find the love story between Keira Knightley and Orlando Bloom very sweet and satisfying.

As is often the case, I disagree with many critics on the second and third installments.  The second and particularly the third films were criticized for being too confusing, and some even claimed incomprehensible.  But I disagree.  It's the fact that there is so much detail to the story that makes them so rewarding for repeat viewings.  Yes, it is difficult to understand who all the characters are, and who is good and who is bad.  But after two viewings I think it all hangs together quite well, and I actually think the third film could be the best one of the trilogy.  All the additions to the cast, particularly the always amazing Bill Nighy as Davy Jones, are absolutely perfect.  Who else but Nighy could make a character whose face you can barely see so animated?

Oh, and seriously, is there a better, more triumphant score than in these films, written by Klaus Badelt and continued on in the second and third installment by the legendary Hans Zimmer?  I have it playing blaringly loud right now as I write this very post.  I highly recommend giving it a listen.

And as for the fourth?  I'm pretty excited but cautiously optimistic.  The writing on the first three remained very strong throughout, so I'm feeling great about the continuation of the series with the same writers on board.  I'm slightly concerned that Gore Verbinski is no longer directing, replaced by Rob Marshall, famous for the film musicals 'Chicago' and 'Nine'.  But the original trilogy had a whimsical, musical quality anyway, so a director with a musical background might be just what the pirate ordered.  I'm most concerned about the addition of Penelope Cruz, of whom I'm not a fan, but I really hope my concerns are put to rest.  In any event, I'm psyched and I'll let you know what I think on Friday.  Drink up me hearties, yo ho!

Curse of the Black Pearl:  A-
Dead Man's Chest:  A
At World's End:  A

Monday, May 16, 2011

State of the Blog

Since this is my 201st post since I started this blog around 230 days ago, I figured it was time for my third 'State of the Blog'.  (In case you missed them, check out my first from 10/15/10 and second from 1/25/11).

In my 200 posts, I've given my thoughts on over 250 films and relayed all my experiences at the Toronto, Philadelphia, Santa Barbara, Philadelphia Cinefest, and TriBeCa film festivals.  I've also offered my thoughts on the Golden Globes and Academy Awards.

Since my maiden post 7.5 months ago, I've had over 12,000 page views, making my average view per post around 60.   Yet I still only have 27 Followers.  That stat could certainly use improvement if I'm going to catch up to Ashton Kutcher, so tell your friends!

On the plus side, all things FOX are going great.  I've been on FOX 35 Orlando pretty much every Friday since 10/15/10, with a few special non-Friday appearances along the way as well, including a segment shown nationally on how one can get free tickets to advance screenings.  In total I've been on 34 times, and at an average of 3 to 4 minutes each, that puts my TV screen time at over 2 hours.  Eat your heart out Andy Warhol!  You can watch my appearances on the FOX Orlando website by searching for Flieder's Flicks, or you can watch them right here on my blog.  As always, my continued thanks to all the great folks at FOX in Orlando and Philadelphia.

Now that I'm basically caught up on 2010 and 2011 I plan on doing what I always had in mind for this blog, and highlighting older films you have probably missed.  I'm still trying to figure out how best to do that.  I may begin with a focus on the best of 2009, and work backwards, which I think is a better approach than random.  Of course I also may post reviews of much older films as well.  We'll see.  Eventually I plan to publish more 'Best of' lists, but I'd rather not do that until I've had a chance to revisit films I haven't seen in quite some time.   (Sometimes films we love in our minds don't age as well as we think they do.)  But feel free to offer suggestions of what you want to see reviewed.

And lastly, and most importantly, thank you to all my loyal readers and commenters.  (Taralyn, CK, and The Martins get special nods.)

This week look for a look back at the 'Pirates of the Caribbean' trilogy as well as a review of the fourth installment opening this Friday.  And next week I'll be reviewing the first 'Hangover' and 'Kung Fu Panda' films in anticipation for their upcoming sequels next Friday.  Clearly summer has reached the box office.  Stay tuned...

Saturday, May 14, 2011

The Beaver


Sorry classic TV fans, this is not a remake about the infamous son of June and Ward Cleaver.  It's a film directed by and co-starring Jodie Foster, featuring America's sweetheart, Mel Gibson.  I kid, of course.  Gibson has arguably become the least popular actor in America due to his run-ins with the police, drunken tirades, and alleged abuse of his girlfriend.  And that undoubtedly accounts for the delay in the release of this film which was made back in 2009 for an estimated $19M.  Studios didn't want to be associated with him, and it remains to be seen if audiences do either.

In this dark drama, Gibson plays a once successful business and family man who is now a suicidal wreck, estranged from his wife, hated by his eldest son, and expected to lose his once thriving toy company.  And then, seemingly out of nowhere, he becomes a new man, but bizarrely channeled through a beaver puppet with a Cockney accent that he wears on his left hand.  Has he gone mad?  Or is this some sort of weird therapy for him?  No one around him (including we, the viewers) seem to know the answer.

Think what you want about Gibson as a person.  I won't offer my thoughts there.  But I will say, he's one hell of an actor.  Like other celebrities with publicly displayed anger issues, including Christian Bale, Russell Crowe, and Alec Baldwin, I think it is that deep rooted anger that fuels their unbelievable performances.  When we saw Gibson's amazing work in the 'Lethal Weapon' series, did we really believe all of that craziness was just acting?  Is anyone THAT good an actor?  Doubt it.  But he's generally very watchable in everything he does.  And in many respects his private troubles are apropos for this particular role.  But rather than the explosive over-the-top Gibson performance I was hoping for, here he just looks like a beaten man.  And his 'recovery' isn't quite as interesting to watch as I'd hoped.  Unfortunately, besides the intriguing and original concept, there isn't much of interest at all with the film.  The cast, other than Gibson, is a snore-fest.  And in many ways the film just plays out like a darker, twisted version of an after school special.  It's either too dark, or not dark enough.  In the hands of a better director than Foster, with a more appropriate tone, I think it could have been something great.  Instead it's just OK.  But at least it's different which is more than I can say for 'Thor'.

Grade: B-

Bridesmaids


Kristen Wiig from Saturday Night Live stars in the latest R rated comedy produced by comedy uber-producer Judd Apatow.  She plays a nice, normal gal who just can't find love.  In the meantime, she's sleeping with callous and immature Jon Hamm, and hoping he'll change.  She also has career and housing troubles to boot.  And if that ain't enough, when her BFF, played by Maya Rudolph, announces she's getting married, it puts a strain on their relationship as conflict develops between Wiig and Rudolph's new besty, played by Rose Byrne (who's great and everywhere I turn these days, in 'Damages', 'Get Him to the Greek' and 'Insidious'), as they're jockeying for position during all the pre-wedding festivities.  I've heard a few people call this the female 'Hangover', and I can see the analogy.

You can't go too wrong with an Apatow comedy, including 'The 40 Year Old Virgin', 'Knocked Up', and 'Forgetting Sarah Marshall'.  And this one is pretty funny, courtesy of Wiig, who also cowrote the script.  It's a vehicle for her first leading role after many shining cameo and supporting parts over the last few years.  And she does a great job in the drivers seat.  I'd say she's perched and ready to be the next Jennifer Aniston as queen of the romantic comedy.

I must admit, I had some issues with the stereotypical characters and predictable storyline, but the film exceeded my expectations in terms of comedy.  And since the target demographic is clearly women, and yet I was still very entertained, I think this one's a success.  So ladies, grab you gal pals or convince your date it's the right choice for the weekend and Wiig out.
Grade: B+

Friday, May 13, 2011

FOX 35 News Orlando - Friday 5/13/11


Check out my appearance from this morning where I gave my thoughts on 'Bridesmaids', 'Everything Must Go', 'Blue Valentine', and 'No Strings Attached'.


In Theaters Now

Looking to head to the theater this weekend, but don’t know what to see?  Here are my grades at a glance:
(Movies released today are in green)

Meek's Cutoff                      Grade: A

Scream 4                              Grade: A-

The Greatest Movie Ever Sold    Grade: A-

Limitless                              Grade: B+

Hesher                                Grade: B+

Source Code                        Grade: B+

The Conspirator                  Grade: B+

Bridesmaids                        Grade: B+

The Double Hour                 Grade: B

Rio                                        Grade: B

Win Win                              Grade: B
The Lincoln Lawyer            Grade: B
Water for Elephants          Grade: B

Insidious                             Grade: B

Jane Eyre                            Grade: B-

Everything Must Go          Grade: B-

The Beaver                        Grade: B-

Arthur                                Grade: C+

Cave of Forgotten Dreams    Grade: C

Thor                                   Grade: C

Hop                                     Grade: C
Hanna                                Grade: D

Something Borrowed       Grade: D

Now Available on DVD

Looking to head to the video store, but don’t know what to see?  (Does anyone still go to video stores?)  Well, here are my grades at a glance for 30 recent releases worth seeing:
        (Newest releases are in green)
The Social Network                            Grade: A+

Kick Ass                                                Grade: A+

127 Hours                                            Grade: A+

Get Low                                               Grade: A+

City Island                                           Grade: A+

Please Give                                          Grade: A+

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1       Grade: A+

It's Kind of a Funny Story                  Grade: A+

The Greatest                                       Grade: A

Black Swan                                         Grade: A

Blue Valentine                                    Grade: A

Buried                                                  Grade: A

Never Let Me Go                                 Grade: A

Heartbreaker (L'Arnacoeur)              Grade: A

Paper Man                                          Grade: A

Against the Current                           Grade: A-

Inception                                            Grade: A-

The Way Back                                    Grade: A-

Winter’s Bone                                    Grade: A-

The Fighter                                        Grade: A-

Casino Jack                                        Grade: A-

Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work          Grade: A-

The Art of the Steal                          Grade: A-

Middle Men                                       Grade: A-

The Next Three Days                        Grade: A-

The Kids are All Right                        Grade: A-

Toy Story 3                                        Grade: A-

The King's Speech                             Grade: B+

Rabbit Hole                                        Grade: B+

Waiting for 'Superman'                    Grade: B+

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Gulliver's Travels


As you can clearly see from the Blu-Ray cover, Jack Black plays the literary classic character, Gulliver, in this updated comedic adaptation of a few of his travels.  I was hesitant to see it because reviews haven't been kind, but it's actually a pretty easy, smooth, kinda fun viewing.  Black is generally pretty entertaining, and if he gets a decent script he can usually deliver, but his track record of good scripts is hit or miss.  This one is helped by an enjoyable supporting cast including 'How I Met Your Mother's Jason Segal, Amanda Peet (who also co-starred with Black in 'Saving Silverman'), Billy Connelly, and Emily Blunt.  As comedy fantasy films go, this one isn't anywhere close to a classic, but it's much more enjoyable than the disappointing 'Your Highness' and better than reviews lead you to believe.

There are plenty of better new release options on DVD, but if you want to turn your brain off and just watch something that will put a goofy smile on your face, this isn't a terrible choice.

Grade: B