REVIEW: Tron

September 12, 2014 Leave a comment
TronDirected by: Steven Lisberger
Produced by: Donald Kushner
Written by: Steven Lisberger (screenplay), Steven Lisberger, Bonnie MacBird (story)
Edited by: Jeff Gourson
Cinematography by: Bruce Logan
Music by: Wendy Carlos
Starring: Jeff Bridges, Bruce Boxleitner, David Warner, Cindy Morgan, Dan Shor, Barnard Hughes, Peter Jurasik, Tony Stephano
Year: 1982

 

For the longest time, Tron was somewhat of a white whale for me. Apart from fleeting footage on TV here and there, I’d only heard and read about it several times in my childhood, having only gotten a very rudimentary understanding that it was some kind of old Disney film set in a computer. References to the movie seemed to pop up everywhere, though, from video games to that one Halloween episode of The Simpsons where Homer crosses over into a computer generated 3D world, and I’d always be reminded of that one Disney film set inside a computer that everyone seemed to have seen, including my own mom, who had seen it back when she was in high school and who mentioned it more often than probably anyone else in my life. I never was able to get a hold of a copy, however. It never seemed to turn up in rental stores on VHS or DVD (and LaserDisc was something my family never adopted), and not even cable TV seemed to turn up any airings. It wasn’t until the release of the 20th anniversary DVD in 2002 that I was provided with an opportunity to finally watch it, thanks to my fellow nerd and friend loving the film enough to actually get the 2-disc set. While I don’t recall exactly when we actually got around to watching it, I do remember the emotion that ran through me upon getting to the middle part of the movie: Complete and utter boredom. Read more…

REVIEW: Super Mario Bros.

September 6, 2014 Leave a comment
Super Mario Bros.Directed by: Rocky Morton, Annabel Jankel
Produced by: Jake Eberts, Roland Joffé
Written by: Parker Benett, Terry Runté, Ed Solomon
Edited by: Mark Goldblatt
Cinematography by: Dean Semler
Music by: Alan Silvestri
Starring: Bob Hoskins, John Leguizamo, Dennis Hopper, Samantha Mathis, Fisher Stevens, Richard Edson, Fiona Shaw, Mojo Nixon, Dana Kaminski, Francesca Roberts, Don Lake, Gianni Russo, Frank Welker, Dan Castellaneta, Lance Henriksen
Based on the Nintendo video game series created by Shigeru Miyamoto
Year: 1993

You know, there was a lot of controversy in the 1990s, mostly spurred by the 1992 and 1993 release of the first two Mortal Kombat games. Regardless of your feelings on that particular series, however, it did lead to some good: the creation of the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) and the industry wide adoption of its ratings system, which has successfully given parents absolutely no excuse for blaming games for their children acting out… or, at least, that was the idea in theory, but you get the idea. However, perhaps the most disconcerting thing about the early 90s in regards to video games was the sudden proliferation of movie adaptations of video games – bad ones. REALLY bad ones. Double Dragon, Street Fighter, a toned down PG-13 film based on Mortal Kombat and its even worse sequel, Mortal Kombat: Annihilation… It’s a trend that has continued to this day throughout the Resident Evil films, the tax write-offs directed by German anti-auteur Uwe Boll, up to today, with the recent Need for Speed garnering a whopping 22% approval on Rotten Tomatoes. Read more…

THEATRICAL REVIEW: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2014)

August 29, 2014 Leave a comment
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2014)Directed by: Jonathan Liebesman
Produced by: Michael Bay, Andrew Form, Bradley Fuller, Galen Walker, Scott Mednick, Ian Bryce
Written by: Josh Appelbaum, André Nemec, Evan Daugherty
Edited by: Joel Negron, Glen Scantlebury
Cinematography by: Lula Carvalho
Music by: Brian Tyler
Starring: Megan Fox, William Fichtner, Will Arnett, Alan Ritchson, Noel Fisher, Jeremy Howard, Johnny Knoxville, Pete Ploszek, Tony Shalhoub, Danny Woodburn, Tohoru Masamune, Whoopi Goldberg, Minae Noji, Abby Elliott, Taran Killam, K. Todd Freeman, Paul Fitzgerald, Malina Weissman
Based on the comics by Peter Laird and Kevin Eastman
Year: 2014

 

Full disclosure: Of all the nerdy things that I’m into, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles was, incredibly, the one thing I never actually got into. I do recall that my first exposure to them was through the old Nintendo game when I was little and my friend brought over his NES sometime before I started kindergarten. I remember that was pretty fun, but I really had no broader understanding of what the franchise really was until I got went to school and made more friends, but I was already at a stage where I looked down on them as being pretty stupid. (The Power Rangers were way better, amiright?) So, by the time that I wised up and realized a silly concept doesn’t automatically negate something as being legitimately entertaining, I was still pretty much just ambivalent about the whole franchise and never cared to catch up to the hype train. That’s right – I’ve never seen anything Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle related beyond the video game and… maybe one or two episodes of the 1990s series. That is, until this past weekend. Read more…

REVIEW: (500) Days of Summer

August 22, 2014 Leave a comment
(500) Days of SummerDirected by: Marc Webb
Produced by: Mason Novick, Jessica Tuchinsky, Mark Waters, Steven J. Wolfe, Scott G. Hyman
Written by: Scott Neustadter, Michael H. Weber
Edited by: Alan Edward Bell
Cinematography by: Eric Steelberg
Music by: Mychael Danna, Rob Simonsen
Starring: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Zooey Deschanel, Geoffrey Arend, Chloe Moretz, Matthew Gray Gubler, Clark Gregg, Patricia Belcher, Rachel Boston, Minka Kelly, Maile Flanagan, Yvette Nicole Brown, Richard McGonagle
Year: 2009

 

“The following is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to persons living or dead is purely coincidental. Except you Jenny Beckman. Bitch.”

The opening lines to the movie – unspoken, but probably the loudest statement this film makes – sets the tone for the remainder of this quasi-romantic comedy. Reportedly inspired by a real relationship experienced by screenwriter Scott Neustadter, (500) Days of Summer is clear right from the start (heck, even from its title) that this is not a story about everlasting love, but rather a season in passing. In fact, as if that point weren’t clear enough, yes, the girl at the center of the film is, in fact, named Summer. She’s a pretty girl who floats into the life of Tom, our film’s leading man, who is immediately smitten by Summer when she is introduced to everyone at work as the boss’ new assistant at the greeting card company Tom works for (another canny element playing with the theme of cheap, temporary sentiments). Summer is, as I said before, very pretty, seems quite nice, and she shares the same taste in music as Tom, even going so far as to make the first move when she notices this coincidence. Naturally, the two decide to hang out together. And, also naturally, there’s a big misunderstanding about what all this means. Where have you heard that before?

(Minor spoilers ahead.) Read more…

THEATRICAL REVIEW: Guardians of the Galaxy

August 13, 2014 Leave a comment
Guardians of the GalaxyDirected by: James Gunn
Produced by: Kevin Feige
Written by: James Gunn, Nicole Perlman
Edited by: Craig Wood, Fred Raskin, Hughes Winborne
Cinematography by: Ben Davis
Music by: Tyler Bates
Starring: Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldaña, Dave Bautista, Vin Diesel, Bradley Cooper, Lee Pace, Karen Gillan, Michael Rooker, Djimon Honsou, John C. Reilly, Glenn Close, Benicio del Toro, Josh Brolin, Peter Serafinowicz, Laura Haddock
Based on the comic book by Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning
Year: 2014

 

I’ve come to the conclusion that there’s no stopping the superhero hype train, and, to be honest, I’m quite happy with what’s come about ever since the X-Men and Blade franchises revived the concept and The Dark Knight Trilogy raised the bar and made these movies into this prestige thing (no pun intended) that seemingly everyone from B-list has-beens to A-list Oscar winners were hyped to be a part of, these types of films have really come along way, and despite some embarrassing lows (Green Lantern, X-Men Origins: Wolverine), most of what has come out has been mightily enjoyable – particularly from Marvel Studios, who has managed to turn several B-list superheroes into some of the most engaging and entertaining action heroes of all time. Now, apparently, it’s time for the C-listers to have their chance in the spotlight, as Marvel has gone deep for their latest film, Guardians of the Galaxy. Read more…

REVIEW: Napoleon Dynamite – Ten Years Later…

August 3, 2014 Leave a comment
Napoleon DynamiteDirected by: Jared Hess
Produced by: Jeremy Coon, Chris Wyatt, Sean C. Covel, Jory Weitz
Written by: Jared Hess, Jerusha Hess (screenplay)
Edited by: Jeremy Coon
Cinematography by: Munn Powell
Music by: John Swihart
Starring: Jon Heder, Jon Gries, Efren Ramirez, Tina Majorino, Aaron Ruell, Diedrich Bader, Haylie Duff, Emily Kennard, Shondrella Avery, Sandy Martin, Trevor Snarr
Based on the short film Peluca by Jared Hess
Year: 2004

 

Released in the summer between my junior and senior years of high school, Napoleon Dynamite would pretty much become one of the defining films of that year for my class (and a lot of other people, too, but this is my blog). Along with the first Anchorman and Garden State, seemingly nobody was able to shut up about these three films, all released that same year. Of those three, though, Napoleon Dynamite was the only one that I took to along with everyone else – I didn’t see Anchorman until well after it was released on DVD (and even then, I didn’t care for it much – I was a bit of a prude at the time), and I didn’t see Garden State until after college, when I gave myself the graduation gift of Netflix, because I had gotten quite sick of hearing about how wonderful it was over the next few years (it was… alright). Read more…

REVIEW: Under the Skin (2013)

July 25, 2014 Leave a comment
Under the SkinDirected by: Jonathan Glazer
Produced by: James Wilson, Nick Wechsler
Written by: Walter Campbell, Jonathan Glazer (screenplay)
Edited by: Paul Watts
Cinematography by: Daniel Landin
Music by: Mica Levi
Starring: Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy McWilliams, Adam Pearson, Joe Szula, Kryštof Hádek, Paul Brannigan, Michael Moreland, Dave Acton, Jessica Mance
Based on the novel by Michel Faber
Year: 2013

 

Under the Skin is one of those weird art films that apparently will perplex most, bore many, and leave only some at varying levels of admiration for the film. I don’t mean for that to sound snooty or anything, but it’s kind of true – this is a bizarre but arresting film that’s told through lots of strange and/or confusingly beautiful images and as little dialogue as possible without being a silent film, and the matter of fact way in which the film presents is unique premise will leave some put off if they’re not prepared or willing to accept what is happening and still let the film take them deeper into the world of “Laura,” an alien in a beautiful human woman’s body who patrols the streets of Scotland ensnaring men to take back to her lair. Yeah, I told you – it sounds pretty weird. Read more…

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