Tag Archives: horrible

Jack Reacher: Taking it back to the 80’s

Tom Cruise is JACK REACHER. Courtesy of Paramount Pictures and Skydance Productions

Tom Cruise is JACK REACHER. Courtesy of Paramount Pictures and Skydance Productions


Remember the good-old days when 80’s action movies were a barrel of fun and laughs? There were no concerns with winning awards or receiving critical acclaim. Instead, entertainment was the highest priority as is the case with Tom Cruise’s latest investigative action film, Jack Reacher.

Cruise plays a funny, smart-mouthed ex-army cop who comes out of hiding to track down a mass murderer.

Jack Reacher 4All of the 80’s clichés have been thoughtfully checked off by director Christopher McQuarrie (The Way of the Gun), who adapted Lee Child’s book, “One Shot”. There’s a wise-cracking detective, a sexy woman, clashing of personalities, a foreign bad guy with a heavy accent, and buckets of action. McQuarrie also was kind enough to keep any gore out of the movie’s action, so those with weak stomachs won’t have to bring their trusty barf bucket.

Jack Reacher 7The recently divorced Tom Cruise gives us nothing we haven’t seen before. Truth is, I love that character and so do you (don’t deny it). The person who deals out the best performance is Joseph Sikora, who made the biggest impact with less than five minutes of screen time.

JACK REACHERFive-time Academy Award nominated cinematographer Caleb Deschanel does an amazing job of lighting every scene to complement McQuarrie’s fantastic shooting style. There’s also some excellent audio design with the sound of firearms having incredible lifelike impact.

Jack Reacher 3Bottom Line: If you enjoy the older action flicks as much as I do, you’ll have a blast with this one.

Grade B-

Runtime: 130 minutes
IMAX: No
3D: No


The Guilt Trip: Popcorn comedy

Seth Rogen is Andrew Brewster and Barbra Streisand is Joyce Brewster in THE GUILT TRIP. Courtesy of Paramount Pictures

Seth Rogen is Andrew Brewster and Barbra Streisand is Joyce Brewster in THE GUILT TRIP. Courtesy of Paramount Pictures


Moms have a way of loving you… sometimes too much… sometimes to the point of irritation. No matter how much we would like to move to the Arctic to gain freedom from their perpetual nagging, in the end we always succumb to the truth that they always have our best interests at heart.

The Guilt Trip tells the story of an overbearing, but loving, mother whose son takes her on a cross country road trip while he attempts to sell his revolutionary invention to big retailers.

The Guilt Trip 2The screenplay features a large variety of gags ranging from fun to outright hilarious. The filmmakers removed any cultural references to make this movie accessible to all, which is welcome yet unexpected seeing as the two leading stars are hilarious Jewish actors.

On another note, the story doesn’t reach for anything worth mentioning and follows very basic themes. If the cast wasn’t as good they are, this would have been a very… very bad film.

The Guilt Trip 4Barbara Streisand hasn’t had a leading role since Meet the Focker’s (2004), but she hasn’t lost her stride. Streisand and Seth Rogen have great chemistry as a mother and son duo. Both have great comedic energy and play off of each other quite naturally.

The Guilt Trip 3Basically, it’s the perfect hour and a half escape from your relatives who are bound to tug on your last nerve during the holidays.

Bottom Line: Popcorn comedy de jour. Have some laughs then move onto bigger things.
Grade B-

Runtime: 95 minutes
IMAX: No
3D: No


Beasts of the Southern Wild: The journey you’ve never taken

Pick up your copy of the award contending Beasts of the Southern Wild on December 18, 2012. Courtesy of eOne Media

Pick up your copy of the award contending Beasts of the Southern Wild on December 18, 2012. Courtesy of eOne Media


Independent films depend purely on the strength of their story, lacking access to flashy special effects and bloated budgets to hide imperfections. Instead, everything is stripped bare revealing the heart of the tale. Sure to be an Academy Award contender, Beasts of the Southern Wild is, at its core, an exemplary demonstration of the rawness that is the independent film.

In this semi-fantastical story, we follow six-year old Hushpuppy and her hot-headed father as they face the harsh realities of life in a bayou cut off from the rest of society.

It takes a while to really sink into this film. The characters are difficult to connect with and their thick Louisiana accents can be troublesome to comprehend at times. However, as the film progresses and you witness the predicaments of the people, you slowly begin to latch on to them – Especially little Hushpuppy, played beautifully by Quvenzhané Wallis.

(Quvenzhané Wallis)Wallis’ performance is astonishingly natural for a first time actor of five years old. Her innocence and strength keep you interested in the film, even if the story appears to drift at times.

Writers Lucy Alibar and Benh Zeitlin, who also directed the film, deliver a psychological look into the daily life of the neglected and underprivileged people of the world.

(Quvenzhané Wallis), (Benh Zeitlin)For the DVD home release, the original film is given good video transfer, even if there is an excessive amount of film grain. The audio, however, is top notch. Subtle details are everywhere to be found and the use of bass at the appropriate moments really adds weight to certain scenes. The special features are solid and include an in-depth, 18 minute Behind the Scenes featurette, Deleted Scenes with director commentary, some of the audition footage for the father and daughter leads, and the short that led to this movie, Glory At Sea.

(Quvenzhzé Wallis), (Dwight Henry)Bottom Line: This movie has Oscar nominations written all over it and the DVD release is one any movie fan will want to check out.

Movie Grade A-
Blu Ray Grade B+

Runtime: 93 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1


Killing Them Softly: Potential slaughtered by director

Brad Pitt, Scoot McNairy, Ben Mendelsohn, James Gandolfini, Richard Jenkins, and Ray Liotta star in Killing Them Softly. Courtesy of Alliance Films


Amazing movies have that uncanny ability to feel as if time just flew by. I’m sure we’ve all experienced a movie that seems intriguing on the surface but in execution falls short forcing us to check our watches every five seconds. Sadly, Killing Them Softly is one of these films.

Not all is lost as there are some positives in Andrew Dominik’s (The Assassination of Jesse James) latest film.

In Killing Them Softly, a couple of young knuckleheads rob a mob protected poker game only to find themselves hunted by a hired enforcer.

The adapted story has a great deal of promise, but Andrew Dominik’s direction seems to belay the entire film’s plot. Subtlety is clearly not one of Dominik’s strengths as he endlessly beats us over the head with the political speeches of Bush and Obama in an attempt to provide poignant social commentary. It just doesn’t work.

The cast is solid with Brad Pitt, Scoot McNairy (Argo), Ben Mendelsohn, and James Gandolfini putting forth a great combination of dramatic and comedic performances.

The brutally, vivid violence was given a great deal of thought behind shooting at interesting angles and variable framerates.

In the end, the slow pace and lack of tension throughout most of the film forces the audience to nitpick on the faults rather than rejoice in the otherwise thought-provoking story.

Bottom Line: Not worth a trip to the theatre. However, there’s enough potential to give this a chance as a cheap rental.

Grade C

Runtime: 97 minutes
IMAX: No
3D: No


Lincoln: Has Oscar written all over it

Daniel Day-Lewis stars in Steven Spielberg’s latest film, Lincoln. Courtesy of Disney Pictures


With the USA battling through election pangs this year, it’s fitting that we take a look back to what a great president like “Honest” Abraham Lincoln can do for their country. In Steven Spielberg’s latest historical epic, we follow Abe as he fiercely battles the confederates and most of the nation to rid the United States of Slavery.

Daniel Day-Lewis is absolutely brilliant as the 16th president. His performance is packed with a special blend of both subtlety and power – The kind of which only great actors can deliver. The supporting cast keeps close to Lewis’ charisma, with Sally Field leading the charge.

Spielberg has nothing left to prove in his career, yet shows no complacency in his direction of Tony Kushner’s excellent adapted screenplay. There is a constant tension throughout the film that is perfectly broken with rich comedic relief from the statuesque president himself.

As far as cinematography is concerned, this is some of the best the Hollywood has offered this year.

My only minute criticism is toward the sheer quantity of names being thrown at you. It can lead to confusion when you’re trying to decipher whom the characters are referring to scene after scene.

Again, that is just a tiny blemish in this phenomenal film that will light up the Academy ballots come 2014.

Bottom Line: Steven Spielberg and Daniel Day-Lewis are a winning combination in this must see taste of American history.

Grade A

Runtime: 149 minutes
IMAX: No
3D: No


The Odd Life of Timothy Green: Blooming disappointment

THE ODD LIFE OF TIMOTHY GREEN stars Cindy (Jennifer Garner), Timothy (CJ Adams) and Jim (Joel Edgerton). Courtesy of Disney Pictures


When we’re presented with a premise that shows promise it’s only logical to think that the final product should be mildly entertaining, at the very least. When it comes to The Odd Life of Timothy Green, that logic is thrown into a bottomless pit and we’re left with one of the most lackluster films of 2012.

In Disney’s latest film, a married couple who are unable to conceive, write down the ideal child on paper and plant it in their garden. Their dreams are realized as a fully grown boy named Timothy.

Without much effort, you’ll be able to effortlessly predict the remainder of this lazily written story.

Well known writer turned director, Peter Hedges (What’s Eating Gilbert Grape), displays absolutely zero talent on either front. Every facet of this film lacks drive. Instead, events just casually take place without any drama or suspense.

There weren’t even performances worth mentioning in a positive light. Jennifer Garner gives us her usual exaggerated attempts at acting and amplifies the annoying tendencies of an already overly irritating character.

The one positive to take away from this film is that it was shot beautifully, featuring a stunning palette of vibrant colours in most every scene.

Bottom Line: Unless you want to fall into a well of disappointment, stay away from this movie.

Grade D-

Runtime: 100 minutes
IMAX: No
3D: No


W.E.: Blu Ray + DVD Review

W.E. is Madonna’s latest directorial effort. Courtesy of eOne Entertainment


A pop icon such as Madonna has the world as her oyster. There’s no denying that the singer turned actress has had a few moments in the sun as an actress in the cinema world but When it comes to her direction and writing, the sun simply refuses to shine – And with good reason.

In W.E., Madonna attempts to tell the story of King Edward VIII’s affair with American divorcée Wallis Simpson, while trying to connect it to a modern day affair between a trophy wife and a security guard.

To be as blunt as a rusty axe, Madonna should never step behind a camera. Her insistence on using every perceivable technique and camera angle served as a distraction and nothing else. Perhaps she should have bought a couple of gallons of crazy glue to add some sense of cohesion to the story she was painfully trying to tell. With the aid of Alek Keshishian, she managed to take what could have been a wonderful biopic of Edward VIII, and turned it into a convoluted mess.

She luckily had a decent cast to work with, all of whom managed acceptable performances within the confines of the uninspired script.

The picture quality is decent as is the audio. There are no special features to indulge in, so if you’re a fan looking for a little bit more (why??) don’t get your hopes up.

Bottom Line: Nothing to see here but a horrendous film.

Movie Grade F
Blu Ray Grade D-

Runtime: 119 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1