More Movie News!

Dear readers,

Tom Levier, creator and writer of DVD Critics Corner is on a temporary sabbatical and was unable to cover this breaking news story. In his place, we have recruited Tom’s 74 year old uncle Jack.

SOME KIND OF SUPERHERO MOVIE TRAILER IS ON THE INTERNET NOW

by Jack Levier

Apparently there’s a trailer for some kind of new movie that’s all over the internet that I’m supposed to tell you about. It’s got superheroes in it which is what all the movies are about these days. What’s with all the superheroes? Bunch of showoffs if you ask me. Anyway, this group of superheroes are called the Adventures or something, and they’re a team that protects the planet when Superman isn’t around I guess.

The members of The Adventures are Captain America, Iron Guy, the green thing, that guy with the hammer, the red haired girl, and bow and arrow man. The trailer has them running around and breaking stuff, and the green thing and Iron Guy fight for some reason, the red haired girl drives a motorcycle and there’s some robot who wants to kill them all. Superman isn’t in this movie. My grandson says he’s part of another comic book universe like I’m supposed to know what that means.  He has a lip ring. Like that’s going to get him a good job.

Anyway, here’s the trailer to this Adventures movie which doesn’t come out for another seven months. I don’t think it will be a hit. But what do I know? I’m still waiting for them to bring back Flash Gordon. Now HE was a super hero.

3 Days of the Costner!

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3 Days to Kill (2014)

Director: McG

Starring: Kevin Costner, Hailee Steinfeld, Connie Nielsen, Amber Heard

Plot: Aging CIA agent with serious health problems tries to get some family time in but is forced to do one last job because the CIA hates families!

Rating: PG-13 for gunplay, explosions, and close quarter punchin’ and kickin’.

Hey kids. Let me tel you all about this movie I just watched! It stars an aging movie star who plays a badass assassin…

No, its not Taken.

Anyway, he has a young daughter he’s trying to shield from his dangerous career but…

No, it’s not Taken 2.

It’s written by Luc Besson and it has some car chases and gunfights and..

No! Its not Taken 3, which is coming to a theater near you on January 9, 2015!

Why do we always have to argue when I’m doing the blog?

 3 Days to Kill stars Kevin Costner, the untouchable man who danced with wolves and fielded dreams in Waterworld.  He plays Ethan Renner, a veteran CIA spy on a mission with his team to capture a pale bad guy known as The Albino (Tomas Lemarquis) who is trying to sell a dirty bomb to some dirty people. Unfortunately, things turn south as the often do in these movies and bullets start flying and stuff gets blown up and lots of European guys get dead.  Oh, and the Albino escapes.

Feeling a bit under the weather after the disasterous mission, Ethan gets a checkup from his CIA doctor and finds out he’s got a brain tumor that will kill him faster than Message in a Bottle killed his comeback in 1999.

Hoping to make the most of the last few months he has, Ethan heads back to Paris to reconnect with his estranged wife Christine (Connie Nielsen) and his daughter Zooey (Hailee Steinfeld) who he abandoned long ago for the demands of his job. Christine barely tolerates his return and Zooey knows very little about her Dad, and wonders if he is in fact a travelling salesman as he claims to be. Maybe it’s because he always smells like gunpowder and is covered in fresh bruises whenever he visits.

But before Ethan can book is first daddy/daughter day, he is approached by another CIA operative Vivi (Amber Heard) who makes him an offer the former Prince of Thieves cannot refuse: find and kill The Albino’s boss, a man known only as The Wolf, and Ethan will receive an experimental drug that will cure him.

Ethan is not so sure if he can trust Vivi, but since she gives him a sample of the treatment for free, and since he has to do something during the day when Zooey is at school, he takes the job.

Before we continue with the review, I’d like to go of on a slight tangent.

Look, I know we as movie viewers are expected to suspend disbelief a bit when we watch these CIA spy type films, but Vivi is without a doubt the worst secret agent in the history of movies.

First, she maintains a “low profile” by wearing a Lady Gaga wig and dressing like a European dominatrix:

A spy blending in with the citizens of Paris.

Second, in keeping  with the “I’m a spy so I must maintain a low profile” thing, she tools around Paris at breakneck speed in a sports car:

SCREEEEEEEEEEEEEECH!!!! No one will pay any attention to us!

Screeeeech! No one will pay any attention to us!

And finally, Viv the super covert /don’t attract any attention/ leave no traces/ top secret spy racks up a body count  that rivals the opening 15 minutes of Saving Private Ryan:

They were dead when I got here!

 Just so we are clear, WORST. SPY. EVER.

Okay, tangent over. I won’t pick on Vivi any more. I’m sure leather corsets are in the CIA budget somewhere.

Anyhoo, the rest of 3 Days to Kill jumps back and forth between Ethan trying to win back his estranged daughter and Ethan trying to hunt down and kill The Wolf. There’s also subplots involving the African family squatting in Ethan’s old apartment, and a henchman for The Albino who Ethan kidnaps for information then kidnaps a few more times to ask him for parental advice when he learns the guy has teenage daughters of his own.

See? A top secret CIA spy has regular problems just like the rest of us regular Joes!

3 Days to Kill draws to a rousing and bullet riddled climax when Ethan’s two worlds collide during a huge party at the penthouse apartment owned by the family of Zooey’s boyfriend. You thought your Mom and Dad meeting your sweetheart’s Mom and Dad for the first time was awkward, you should try it with gunplay! Hoo boy! I hope the caterers brought some extra bandages!

Despite having the writer from Taken, the father/daughter dynamic of Taken, and the European setting of Taken, I have to admit I was not taken at all by 3 Days to Kill. Costner took the director’s note to look tired and sickly and ran with it, because he looks like he’d rather be someplace else the entire movie, and Amber Heard’s character is from a completely different movie altogether.

That movie is about the WORST. SPY. EVER.

Sorry.

A DVD Critic’s Corner Back to School Quiz!

THE HOBBIT: THE DESOLATION OF SMAUG

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (2013)

Director: Peter Jackson

Starring: Martin Freeman, Ian McKellen, Richard Armitage, Evangeline Lily, Orlando Bloom

Plot: Bilbo Baggins and his dwarf pals continue their journey to fight a dragon and kill things.

Rating: PG-13 for swords clashing and scary monsters monstering.

Good day, class!

It’s September, and that means it’s time for the little miscreants – sorry, students to return to school for another fun filled year of readin’, writin’, and that stuff you do with numbers that makes no sense whatsoever.

Since the younglings will be facing a whole bunch of tests in the coming weeks, I though it would be a hoot if we took a quiz based on a DVD I recently viewed – The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, directed by Peter Jackson.

So take out a sheet of paper and a pencil and we will begin. Keep your eyes on your own papers please, and no cheating or you’ll have to eat the food in the cafeteria as punishment.

Let’s begin!

1. The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug is a continuation of an epic movie saga based on a series of books by:

A) J.R.R. Tolkian

B) R.J.R Nabisco

C) J.R.J.R.R. Tolllkiann Jr.

D) That fat guy with the hat who writes Game of Thrones.

2. In this movie, Bilbo and his Dwarf companions:

A) Continue their journey to Lonely Mountain to reclaim the Dwarf Kingdom.

B) Fight deadly adversaries at every turn.

C) Resist the urge to stop and bathe once in a while.

D) All of the above.

3. When giant spiders capture the dwarves and wrap them up in their webs, Bilbo frees them by using:

A) A huge rolled up newspaper.

B)  The magical One Ring Bilbo stole from Gollum in the previous movie.

C) A can of Raid Giant CG Ant, Roach, and Spider Killer.

D) His glorious singing voice, which charmed the spiders into making Bilbo their King!

4. The Wood Elves:

A) Have a long standing animosity for the Dwarf race.

B) Are unwilling to help the Dwarves in their quest to defeat Smaug.

C) All dress like they’re in some 1970′s glam rock band.

5. Evangeline Lily plays Tauriel, an elf warrior who:

A) Is Chief of the Elvenking’s guards.

B) Goes against the Elvenking’s wishes and helps Bilbo and the Dwarves

C) Is one of only two chicks in all of Middle Earth! Seriously, this movie is one giant sausage fest!

6. Azog and his Orc army are still chasing our heroes because:

A) Azog wants to kill Thorin like he killed Thorin’s father decades earlier.

B) He wants to destroy all Darves.

C) He’s just a giant, evil, asshole.

D) All of the above.

7. At the climax of the movie, Bilbo sneaks into Lonely Mountain and meets Smaug. Smaug:

A) is a fierce dragon with immense powers.

B) holds captive the vast treasure of the Dwarf kingdom – a literal mountain of gold!

C) is voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch, star of the popular BBC series Sherlock.

D) Which is totally awesome, by the way. I cant wait for the next series.

E) Martin Freeman is great in that show too. They make a great team.

F) Wait, what are we talking about?

8. While watching The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, I thought:

A) This is another well made film by Peter Jackson.

B) The fight scenes were exciting and the effects were amazing!

C) Did everyone in New Zealand work on this movie?

D) Orlando Bloom is the prettiest elf of them all!

Please pass your papers forward. I will grade them sometime between Friday and never.

Z is for Zombie, that’s good enough for me!

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WORLD WAR Z (2013)

Director: Marc Forster

Starring: Brad Pitt, Marielle Enos, Daniella Kertesz, James Badge Dale, Fana Mokoena

Plot: In your head, In your head, Zombie! Zombie!

Rating: PG-13 for violent zombie rampages that aren’t gory enough to warrant an R rating.

 A zombie apocalypse? No thank you. Count me out compadre. No siree-bob.

Why? They’re noisy, frightening, and disgusting and nothing good ever comes from them. Basically  a zombie apocalypse is like the Coachella Music Festival minus the hippies.

But when a global pandemic turns everyone into bloodthirsty zombies, you’ll be glad Brad Pitt is on your side and not me.

Trust me. I don’t do well under pressure. I burst into tears when Starbucks is out of Cranberry Orange Scones.

On a beautiful morning in Philadelphia, retired United Nations investigator Gerry Lane (Brad Pitt) is having breakfast with his beautiful wife and daughters, who are also by some amazing coincidence beautiful too!  Their perfect TV commercial family world is blown to heck when a mysterious viral outbreak rumbles through Philadelphia, turning normal citizens into violent bloodthirsty maniacs with a taste for human flesh. And no, I’m not talking about Phillies fans, I’m talking Zombies!

And these aren’t the usual shuffle along at one mile an hour zombies you see in the movies – these are the stampede at you full speed and climb up buildings to get to you zombies which is totally unfair for a guy like me who can barely break the 20 minute mile on the treadmill.  So I guess slowpokes like me are zombie food before the opening credits are over. Great, a zombie and I’m in Philadelphia. Not sure which is worse.

Anyhoo, Gerry and his family manage to escape Philly and head for the safety of Newark New Jersey, where the zombie outbreak has also taken place, but very few people notice. Luckily, Gerry puts a call to his best buddy, UN Deputy Secretary Umutoni (Fana Mokoena) who picks up the Lane family in a chopper and takes them to a Navy ship in the ocean where the remnants of the United Stated government are trying to figure out how to stop the zombies while voting on who is the next secretary of transportation.

And so Gerry begins a one man journey to find out where the zombie virus originated and how to stop it before the entire world is destroyed. He heads to South Korea, where there are zombies and some clues to the origin of the outbreak, then to Jerusalem where there are more zombies and more clues, then finally to a remote World Health Organization lab in Cardiff where he figures out a cure, but the ingredients to the cure are in a sealed off section of the compound which are surrounded by – wait for it – zombies!

World War Z moves along at a pretty urgent pace as Brad Pitt tries to stay one step ahead of the zombie hoards that are engulfing the planet. The movie hints of a possible sequel, but since this movie didn’t make a ton of money I’d say this is a one shot zombie apocalypse.

 I’ll say one thing about World War Z:  With the entire world in flames and society as we know it collapsing it’s good to know that the airplanes are still running frequent flights around the globe. Of course, you and I aren’t superstars like Brad Pitt, so if we had to fly across country to stop a zombie apocalypse there’s a really good chance we’d have to change planes in Denver and have at least a two hour layover in Atlanta.

Why is it always a layover in Atlanta?

If You Build It, Everything Will Be Awesome!

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THE LEGO MOVIE (2014)

Directors: Phil Lord, Christopher Miller

Starring: Chris Pratt, Elizabeth Banks, Will Arnett, Morgan Freeman, and Will Ferrell

Synopsis: Everything is awesome.

Rating: PG for Lego type violence and brick on brick action.

Every once in a while, a movie comes along that shakes the very foundation of your being and rocks you to your very core.

The Lego Movie is such a movie.

What exactly makes The Lego Movie such an exceptional standout in a sea of lesser movies?

Is it the wonderful visuals? The funny voice work by a very funny cast? The perfect blending of story and humor with a thoughtful message about learning to put down the instruction manual from time to time and follow your own path?

Nope. it’s the Legos.  Every movie should have Legos. And every movie that has been made would be better if it had Legos.

The Hunger Games? Decent movie. The Hunger Games with Legos? Super awesome!

Jaws? Great movie. Jaws with Legos? Boom.

R.I.P.D? You know what, let’s skip that one…

If you haven’t seen The Lego Movie yet, then for Heaven sake screw it together and buy a copy! I mean, here’s a brief synopsis lf this charming tale of fun and adventure:

In the all Lego universe, happy go lucky Emmet (Chris Pratt) happily goes about his life in the city of Bricksburg, getting up early, driving safely, and doing his construction job with a positive attitude and a smile on his face.  One day Emmet catches the pretty and mysterious Wyldstyle (Elizabeth Banks) snooping around the construction site, and while chasing her discovers the mysterious Piece of Resistance, an object that has been prophesized to save the Lego universe.

Now Emmet the ordinary becomes Emmet “The Special,” the being destined to stop the evil Lord Business (Will Ferrell) who wants to used his Kragle superweapon to freeze everyone and everything in the universe.

I know what you’re thinking – is Emmet truly “The Special?” Well…maybe. Not quite. Sort of. Not really. But thankfully he has a team of Master Builders in his corner to help guide our goofy but lovable protagonist along to find his courage and train him to become The Special. They are the aforementioned Wyldestyle, the mysterious blind wizard Vitruvious (Morgan Freeman) who offers all kinds of wisdom and advice, and superhero extraordinaire Batman (Will Arnett) who offers no help whatsoever.

Emmet and his pals travel from one amazing Lego world to another, trying to stay one step ahead of Lord Business and his Super Secret Police which is lead by Bad Cop/Good Cop (Liam Neeson), a cop with personality issues. Can Emmet become a Master Builder and put an end to Lord Business’ plans to really mess up Taco Tuesday?

The Lego Movie is a glorious, enjoyable action fantasy with lots of humor and a heartwarming ending.  If you watch this movie and aren’t charmed down to your shorts by this movie, we can no longer be friends.  Seriously, I will un-friend you on the spot if you don’t love this movie. This is what it’s come down to. I am drawing a line in the sand here compadre.

But I wouldn’t worry. You’re going to love The Lego Movie, and we’re going to be friends for a long, long time.  Can I crash at your place for a few weeks?

 

Home Is Where The Kicking Is!

homefront-movie-review-jason-stathamHOMEFRONT (2013

Directed by: Gary Fleder

Starring: Jason Statham, Izabela Vidovic, Winona Ryder, Kate Bosworth, Clancy Brown, James Franco

Plot: An ex-DEA guy moves to a quiet town with his daughter and runs afoul of some meth dealing rednecks and killer bikers who are just dying to get their asses kicked because the ex-DEA guy is Jason Statham!

Rating: R for bad language, a little sex, meth cooking, and a glorious amount of kicking and punching!

I’ve never been to New Orleans, so I don’t know much about it. I know they celebrate Mardi Gras, shiny beads are valued currency, and vomiting in the streets is encouraged.

New Orleans is in Louisiana, another place I know very little about except from what I’ve learned from the various movies I have seen.  According to action/thriller type movies Louisiana is one giant swamp. Seriously, the swamp is everywhere! Also, just about everyone in Louisiana lives along the swamp in a decrepit old shack with a rickety porch. Rich people live in giant mansions or plantations that are pretty but still in a swamp, so they’re “swamp pretty.” Oh, and there are alligators everywhere, because in the opening credits of every movie set in Louisiana they have a shot of a giant gator slithering into a murky swamp.  But the most important thing I’ve learned about Louisiana from the movies is that the people who live there are vicious bunch of greasy loons who don’t own shirts with sleeves that really hate you and want to kill you.

And I thought New Jersey was unpleasant in spots.

Okay, I’m sure the real life Louisiana is a wonderful place. But movie Louisiana is a rough and terrifying place, especially if you’re Jason Statham and you just moved into town with your daughter like in the movie Homefront.  I mean, how can you hope your kid will make honor roll this year if murderous meth addicted rednecks want to kill you? It’s the worry of every modern day parent I’m sure.

Undercover DEA agent Phil Broker (Statham) has infiltrated a biker gang that is about to make a meth deal so huge Walter White would flip his pork pie hat. But since this is a movie, Broker’s cover is blown and the deal goes to heck, leading to a massive gun battle which kills several cops and bikers and leaves Broker with a death mark on his head by the gang’s leader Danny T (Chuck Zito) who really hates going to jail when his drug deals go wrong.

Two years later, Broker (now a widower) has moved to a small Louisiana town with his cute daughter Maddy (Izabela Vidovoc) hoping to put the violent DEA years behind him and have a life that doesn’t involve pretending to be a greasy biker.  Their awesome Daddy-Daughter time is short lived when Maddy kicks the crap out of a bully one day in the schoolyard.

The bully’s Mom Cassie (Kate Bosworth), the queen of the greasy meth addicts demands revenge, and when her equally greasy husband nearly gets his spleen handed to him when he picks a fight with Broker, Cassie calls upon her brother Gator Bodine (James Franco) to bring to bring balance to their white trash world by killing the brooding stranger and his pretty daughter.

It turns out Gator is also the local meth dealer who has the sheriff in his pocket and evil on his mind.  When Broker easily dispatches two of Gator’s thugs at a gas station (seriously, would you take a swing at a a brooding bald guy with a “I love beating people to death” bumper sticker on his truck?), Gator breaks into Broker’s house and discovers files that reveal Broker’s secret undercover past.

With his newfound information, Gator contacts his girlfriend/meth business partner Sheryl (Winona Ryder, seriously) who happens to know the biker gang that Broker infiltrated years before because she used to be a meth addicted biker whore before she became a meth addicted drug dealer. Hey, everyone chases success in his or her own way.

Sheryl informs Danny T she knows where his old buddy Broker is hiding, hoping to leverage this info into a mega south eastern drug distribution deal for her and Gator’s meth business. But wouldn’t ya know it, dangerous meth dealing bikers just can’t be trusted, and Danny T dispatches a hit squad led by the sadistically greasy Cyrus (Frank Grillo) to kill Broker, Maddy, and probably Sheryl and Gator if they don’t go along with the plan.

It’s a home invasion of the hillbilly kind as the evil bikers attack Broker’s house with more firepower than your average Marine platoon. But since the home belongs to action hero extraordinaire Jason Statham, a man who kicks the crap out of more people before breakfast than you do before a million breakfasts, you know little Maddy is going to have a safe place to call home when the smoke clears.

Hopefully the house is still standing.

Homefront is by no means an original movie – there have been lots of films featuring a hero up against bad guys who run the town – but the final five minutes of the movie are well worth the rental, particularly if you’re not a fan of the sometimes off putting James Franco. I won’t spoil it for you, but Jason Statham does to Franco what millions of people wanted to do to him after his dreadful co-hosting of the Oscars in 2011.

Thanks Jason. We owe ya one.

 

Catching Sequels!

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THE HUNGER GAMES: CATCHING FIRE (2013)

Director: Francis Lawrence

Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Woody Harrelson, Liam Hemsworth, Donald Sutherland

Plot: Katniss and Peeta are back for more wacky hijinks as they once again step into the arena of death in a dystopian future! It’s an all out laugh fest!

Rating: PG-13 for violence, near nudity and for flogging Gale,  the handsome guy.

In case you didn’t know, DVD Critics Corner! has been around for a few years. I think it’s due to clean living, my lack of other hobbies, and the unbelievable fact that no one has told me to stop.

Anyhoo, when running a movie review blog during a sequel crazy era in movie history, it was only a matter of time before a sequel to a movie I’ve reviewed has arrived at the top of my DVD queue.  That movie is The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, the sequel to The Hunger Games and the second film in the four part Hunger Games movie saga; a saga not quite as epic as The Hobbit saga and not nearly as stupid as the Twilight saga, but a saga nonetheless.

Catching Fire picks up shortly after the events of the first film. Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) and Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) have survived the 74th Hunger games, but they are far from safe. President Snow (a seething Donald Sutherland) fears the young winners have sparked a rebel movement among the people of Panem who for some reason are growing tired of an oppressive government that starves them and kills them for no reason. Kantiss and Peeta embark on a “victory tour” of the 12 districts, but they stray from their “we love the facist world we live in” script and a few riots are started, which doesn’t look good on Panem’s version of Entertainment Tonight.

Snow knows he must kill the two troublesome kids who are making him look bad without looking like the type of guy who kills troublesome kids who make him look bad. So when the 75th Hunger Games rolls around a short time later, he pulls the end all be all of dick moves by futzing with the rules: All tributes for the next Hunger Games will be chosen from previous winners, which means Katniss and Peeta are going back in the jungle for another chance at violent death, facing a bunch of former winners who are really happy they were plucked from their lives of luxury with the overdressed elite of Panem and forced to fight for their lives again.

To make things even worse, the new game designer Plutarch Heavensbee (Phillip Seymour Hoffman) has promised his best buddy President Snow that Katniss and Peeta will certainly die in his game arena, which is filled with killer monkeys, random flash floods, and a mysterious fog that not only cleans and exfoliates the skin, it eats it off completely. No more unsightly blemishes!

Katniss is severely worried that this time Snow has finally got her trapped in a no win situation, but her good ol’ buddy and District 12 mentor Hamish (Wood Harrelson) calmly advises her to make as many allies as she can with the other disgruntled tributes, promising her that things will work out in the end.

The game sequence in Catching Fire is as thrilling and suspenseful as the first movie, but it’s not as long because there are other things going on in Panem (like the growing underground revolution against Snow’s regime) and the movie was almost over when the game sequence begins. The games itself are just a side event that leads up to the important stuff: the final scenes where Katniss learns who her true allies are and what part she’s going to play in the next movie.

I’ll give you a hint: it rhymes with Shleader of the Shrevolution.

In conclusion, not only is The Hunger Games: Catching Firea sequel to The Hunger Games, it is a sequel to a movie I have written about in a previous entry in this blog. You’re welcome, Katniss, Peeta, and all your  kooky revolutionary pals.

Now go play nice.

Click here for the DVD Critics Corner review of The Hunger Games

Kids In Spaaaaaaaaaaace!!!

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ENDER’S GAME (2013)

Director: Gavin Hood

Starring: Asa Butterfield, Harrison Ford, Hailee Steinfeld, Viola Davis, Abigail Breslin, and Ben Kingsley

Plot: In the future, a super smart kid named Ender Wiggam is shot into space and trained to fight a war against a race of alien bugs who tried to take over Earth decades earlier. Will Ender save humanity, or is he just another no good lazy slacker with his iPonepads and instavine video things…

Rating: PG-13 for some violence and sci-fi explosions with space fighters flying around going pew! pew! at one another.

Ender’s Game is based on a huge series of science fiction books written by Orson Scott Card. How huge? Currently, there are 14 in the series, with two more on the way. Also, there is a series of Ender’s Game short stories, and a comic book series based on the books.

That is a heck of a lot of reading. I have to take a nap after I proofread my shopping list.

Luckily Hollywood (that’s where the movie making folks live!) wanted to help all of us avoid such a lengthy reading list so they adapted the fourth book of the Ender series into a big screen sci-fi adventure.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, those Hollywood folks are really watching out for us!

In the near future, an alien bug-like species called the Formics invade Earth hoping to turn our lovely little planet into an alien bug vacation destination. The Earth’s military forces fight back and drive the Formics away, but millions of lives are lost in the process. Determined not to be caught with their pants down again, the International Force is formed to train the best and brightest young people how to fight the aliens should they ever return.

Fifty-something years later, a brilliant young cadet named Ender Wiggan (Asa Butterfield) is acing the training programs and defeating everyone in battle simulation games. Naturally the other cadets dislike being beaten regularly by a tiny kid with a weird first name, so they hate him and want to punch him repeatedly. It’s nice to now that even in the future, your classmates will still be homicidal dicks.

International Force Colonel Graff (Harrison Ford) sees potential in young Ender, and sends him off to Battle School, which is an orbiting space station conveniently located in outer space. Ender and his fellow newbies start their training to be space soldiers or something by playing a game that involves shooting lasers at each other while floating around in a huge zero-gravity dome. I’m not sure how this trains cadets to be better soldiers, but flying around and shooting stuff sounds like a hoot to me, so sign me up baby!

As Ender learns the ins an outs of space cadet life, he makes some friends like Petra Arkanian (Hailee Steinfield) who helps him catch up on training when he’s promoted to another unit, and makes some enemies like Commander Bonzo Madrid (Moises Arias) who helps no one because he’s a homicidal dick.

But Ender presses on undaunted and his skills as a space soldier/alien killer impresses Graff so much he is given command of his own squad who show Bonzo and the other haters how Ender gets his game on!

See what I did there?

Ender’s Game isn’t all fun and…well, you know. There are a lot of serious issues Ender tries to come to terms with throughout the movie: like death, sacrifice, honor, and whether or not kids should be emotionless machines trained to kill a species who may not be looking for a fight this time around.

That’s some pretty heavy stuff for a sci-fi adventure film, but nobody ever said a sci-fi movie had to be non stop laughs and amusement. Ever see The Adventures of Pluto Nash? I rest my case.

The movie concludes with Ender and his Battle School crew prepping for a huge battle just outside the Formic’s home planet. With some sage advice from former war hero Mazer Rackham (Ben Kingsley sporting some sick facial ink), Ender prepares for war.  Can Ender and his army of drone fighters defeat an alien race that lives in dirt tunnels and yet were somehow able to master intergalactic space travel?

Seriously, how do giant bugs with no visible grasp of technology build spaceships with laser weapons?

Maybe we’ll find out in the next movie – Ender’s Game 2: Catching Bugs!

Proper Planning prevents.. Something, Something, Something!

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ESCAPE PLAN (2013)

Director: Mikael Hafstrom

Starring: Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jim Caviezel, Amy Ryan, Sam Neil, Vincent D’Onofrio

Plot: A prison escape expert is double crossed and finds himself in a high tech prison that is really super hard to escape from. I mean, they have lots of guards and locked doors and everything!

Rating: R for gunplay and bloodshed and guys getting clubbed and tazered. Surprisingly, not one single prison shower joke.

Without a doubt prison is number three on my list of places I hope to never go.

Number two is a live taping of the CBS sitcom Two Broke Girls: a show which deserves to be called a “comedy” the same way Schindler’s list could be categorized as a “the feel good movie of a lifetime.”

Number one on my list of places I hope to never go is the popular mall store Hot Topic. The loud music, the rubber bracelets, the posters and t-shirts featuring bands I’ve never heard of; Hot Topic is the overstocked  Sarlaac pit I hurriedly dash past on the way to the soft pretzel guy.

I loves a good soft pretzel.

Anyhoo, a high tech escape-proof prison is the setting of Escape Planwhere the guards are cruel, the discipline is swift, and the cafeteria menu is loaded with sodium and carbs! Oh, and you’ll probably die trying to escape.

Ray Breslin (Stallone) is a structural engineering genius and prison escape expert who is paid by maximum security prisons to try to break out of their prisons. It must be a pretty lucrative job because Ray has a huge office building with a fun support staff and an oily partner named Clark (D’Onofrio) who probably won’t screw him over.

Ray is approached by the CIA to break out of a super top secret prison so secret, they can’t tell Breslin and his team where it is. Ray takes the job along with the huge check that comes with it, but before he can say “you can always trust the CIA,” he’s thrown in a truck, drugged and taken to the super-secret prison which is code named The Tomb, where everyone lives in tiny cubicles and there is no windows to the outside world. Sounds like my old apartment in New York.

Turns out (big surprise here) Ray has been royally screwed over. The warden who was supposed to be his contact is in fact another guy named Hobbes (Jim Caviezel) who knows nothing about Ray’s real identity and assignment and has different set of orders: Keep the breakout expert locked away forever or maybe longer, and kill him if he tries to escape.

Ray now has to put all his skills to use to break out of the most secure prison ever built. Luckily he’s befriended by a veteran con named Rottmayer (Schwarzenegger) who knows plenty about the prison and also wants to escape before the warden can torture information out of him about some master criminal named Mannheim who Rottmayer works for.

Escape Plan is full of suspense and intrigue as Ray teaches Rottmayer the intricacies of prison escape planning while trying to uncover the identity of the bad guys who wanted him locked up. Can these two tough guys put aside their differences long enough to realize that they love each other like no other prisoners have loved each other before?

Oh wait, that’s another prison movie. Forget I said that.

Things draw to a slam bang conclusion as Ray and Rottmayer lead a full scale riot to escape the escape proof Tomb. There’s a great plot twist at the end when Ray finally learns who put him in the Tomb which nearly cost him his life, but I’m not ging to give it away because I don’t like to spoil things. Also, I have a terrible short term memory so I don’t remember what happened at the end of the movie any way.

Speaking of movies, did I tell you about Escape Plan starring Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger?

In conclusion; if you grew up watching the action movies of Stallone and Schwarzenegger, you’ll enjoy seeing these two big screen legends share a movie for the very first time.

If you were too young to remember or weren’t even born when these guys ruled the summer blockbuster movie season, you’re obviously one of those “millennials”  the internet news reports are always yammering about. You with your fixie bikes and SXSW festival things. I bet if Sylvester Stallone was an iPhone app you’d know who he was! Now get off my lawn!

I’m just kidding. You youngsters are fine.

Seriously get off the lawn. I just seeded.

A Wolverine Abroad!

wolverine

THE WOLVERINE (2013)

Director: James Mangold

Cast: Hugh Jackman, Rila Fukushima, Tao Okamoto, Hal Yamanouchi, Famke Janssen

Plot: Did you ever see The Bad News Bears go to Japan?  It’s exactly like that.

Rating: PG-13 for shooting and stabbing with the claws and more stabbing with swords. There’s a whole lot of stabbing.

I’m not a big follower of the X-Men movies and characters, but I do know that Wolverine (also known as Logan) played by Hugh Jackman is without a doubt the most popular character of the bunch.

Sorry Halle Berry.

And what’s not to love about this Canadian loner? He’s mean and surly, he’s quite fond of mumbling, he loves a stiff drink and a good cigar, and when push comes to shove he unleashes his adamantium claws and turns his foes into thinly sliced deli meat.

Oh, and he calls everyone “bub.” Love this guy!

The Marvel folks love Wolverine so much he got a second movie to star in all by his angry self. This movie, simply titled The Wolverine has our moody hero traveling to Japan to settle old scores, make some new enemies, and figure out once and for all what the hell is up with Japanese game shows!

As the movie opens, poor Logan/Wolverine is living alone in the woods of his native Canada, still brooding about that time in  X-Men: The Last Stand where he had to kill fellow X-person Jean Grey, who Logan loved but she only loved him as a friend, and we all know how those kinds of relationships turn out!

One night Logan is approached by a mysterious girl named Yukio (Rila Fukushima) who has been sent by a Japanese bazillionaire Yashida to find Logan and bring him to Japan for a reunion. Turns out a young Yashida was saved by Logan when the A-bomb destroyed Nagasaki at the end of World War II, and since he’s a bazillionaire now he wants to pay Logan back with what I assume will be one of those giant Publishers Clearinghouse checks and a lifetime supply of Omaha Steaks.

Logan travels with Yukio to Japan and reunites with Yashida who is dying of old age. He makes Logan an incredible offer – Yashida has the technology to transfer Logan’s mutant healing power to his frail and dying body so he may live again, which will also take away Logan’s immortality which he always hated anyway.

I can see why Logan hates being immortal. I mean, how would you like it if you stayed young and healthy forever while the jerks in your life grew old and died?

Wait, can I change my answer?

Anyhoo before Logan can give his final answer, Yashida dies. At the huge funeral, all heck breaks loose when members of the Yakuza (the Japanese Mob) try to kidnap Mariko (Tao Okamoto), Yashida’s granddaughter and heir to the family fortune. Logan and Yukio (who by an amazing stroke of luck is a master of martial arts) prevent Mariko from being taken, and Logan is now on the run with Mariko as they try to figure out what the heck is going on and who wants Mariko dead.

Oh, and to make things interesting, a mysterious blonde lady (Svetlana Khodchenkova) uses her mutant powers to rid our man Wolverine of his healing powers – which makes Logan rethink his usual fighting technique of letting the bad guys shoot him repeatedly until they run out of ammo and then killing them.

The Wolverine bounces from on action scene to another as Logan battles Yakuza thugs on the roof of a bullet train, fights ninjas in a Japanese village, and battles a giant silver robot samurai because it’s freakin Japan and they invented giant silver robot samurai. The film drags in spots to give Logan a few romantic scenes with the lovely Mariko, who should know that The Wolverine aint got no time for love when there’s bad guys to be sliced and diced bub!

Once again, Hugh Jackman does a fine job as the super stabby anti-hero we all know and love. Personally, I think Jackman should get some kind of award for the  thousands of hours he spends in the gym to achieve the super ripped physique required to play Wolverine. At the very least I hope his gym gives him free towels or coupons for free smoothies at the juice bar. That would be nice.

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