Tag Archives: movie

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


Monster’s Inc. 3D: Get yourself geared up for the sequel

Catch Monster's Inc. 3D in theatres on December 19, 2012. Courtesy of DisneyPixar

Catch Monster’s Inc. 3D in theatres on December 19, 2012. Courtesy of DisneyPixar


Extrapolating on a classic fear of little children, DisneyPixar’s Monster’s Inc. became the highest grossing computer animated film upon its release in 2001. This holiday season, Disney is giving you the chance to experience this wonderfully original tale in 3D hoping to secure a new audience for the upcoming sequel, Monster’s University.

For the handful of people who have yet to experience it, Monster’s Inc. tells the story of an alternate universe of monsters whose only connection to our world is through the bedroom closets of little children (eeek!).

Monster's Inc. 3The adventure is absolutely hilarious with Billy Crystal and John Goodman starring as best friends who work as a team to get a lost little girl back to her human world.

Since the movie is nothing short of amazing, let’s focus on the 3D conversion…

This year we got a chance to see DisneyPixar’s best three-dimensional animated effort to date with Brave. The depth of image present and sharp animation lent a surreal amount of life to the images on screen.

MONSTERS, INC.With the Monster’s Inc. conversion, it feels more like 2.75D without ever reaching the true effect 3D can offer. Sure you can tell that one character is in front of another and there’s a good amount of depth when the scenes call for it, such as the door storage chase scene. However, the seamless “looking through a window” effect is never fully achieved. Truth be told, it was still great seeing these lovable characters on the big screen again (your toddlers will have a blast with the film).

Monster's Inc. 4Bottom Line: The 3D isn’t the best, but it’s far from the worst. Don’t hesitate in checking out one of DisneyPixar’s finest films to date.

 


Click to open and print out these fun activities!

MI3D_Coloring

MI3D_DoorHanger_R

MI3D_Hexaflexagon_REV

MI3D_Maze


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


Up: Blu Ray Review

Grab your copy of Up on Blu Ray 3D December 4, 2012. Courtesy of DisneyPixar

Grab your copy of Up on Blu Ray 3D December 4, 2012. Courtesy of DisneyPixar


Finding those complete films that deliver on all accounts is rare these days. When I first watched Up, I laughed, cried and was taken on a rollercoaster ride with the oddly paired old man and his accidental sidekick. As I reviewed the all new Blu Ray release, I was amazed as I relived all these emotions for a second time around. Now that’s a powerful film in my book!

Up 1In DisneyPixar’s Up, Carl Fredricksen deals with his loneliness and a promise to the love of his life by flying his house to the Venezuelan wilderness with the unwelcome assistance of a good-intentioned Boy Scout, Russell.

The team behind this movie provided such incredible depth of character; you see right past their cartoony shells and dive into the soul of a real person. Combine this with a highly entertaining adventure and what you have left is a timeless classic.

Up 3Edward Asner and first time actor Jordan Nagai are perfect together. Director Pete Docter did a fantastic job in getting a very natural performance out of the young Nagai – Not an easy thing to do when working with brand new actor.

Not only will kids love this movie, but as an adult, you’ll be glued to the screen beside the little ones as you watch Carl and Russell’s quest unfold (Just be sure to have a box of tissue handy).

Up 2As far as the Blu Ray release is concerned, this is one of the best. DisneyPixar has included both 3D and 2D Blu Ray discs, a DVD copy and a Digital Copy to future proof you as your home theatre evolves. The video in both the 3D and 2D copies is magnificent. While the 3D copy adds the expected immersion, it is shocking how much depth of image is in the 2D Blu Ray. On top of that, Michael Giacchino’s Academy Award winning original score sounds beautiful alongside the amazing audio design.

There isn’t a single special feature not worth watching in this home release. Included in the vast array of high definition features you’ll find:

• Cine-Explore Commentary

• Adventure Is Out There

• Partly Cloudy

• Dug’s Special Mission

• The Many Endings of Muntz

• Documentaries – A series of behind the scenes featurettes.

• Married Life

• Global Guardian Badge Game

• Up Promo Montage

• Worldwide Trailers

Not only do they include behind the scenes of the making of the film, they also provide a fun educational game for kids (just as much fun for adults).

UPBottom Line: This is how Blu Rays should be done. With a movie this good, why wait to let the fun begin? Pick up your copy today and go on a ride of a lifetime with your wee ones.

Movie Grade A+
Blu Ray Grade A+

Runtime: 96 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1


Finding Nemo: Blu Ray Review

Pick up your copy of Finding Nemo on Blu Ray 3D December 4, 2012. Courtesy of DisneyPixar

Pick up your copy of Finding Nemo on Blu Ray 3D December 4, 2012. Courtesy of DisneyPixar


The story of an overprotective father’s desperate search for his lost son captured audiences worldwide like few films ever have. Unhindered perfection is the best way to describe what DisneyPixar produced in 2003 with Finding Nemo. Nine years after grossing over $900 million worldwide in theatres and Oscar Award acclaim, Nemo and Co. received the 3D treatment and is now available on Blu Ray.

Finding Nemo 1For those few of you who haven’t seen the movie, Finding Nemo is the story of a father and son clown fish that are quickly separated and spend the rest of the movie engaging the help of a variety of quirky sea creatures as they attempt to find their way back to one another.

It should go without saying, but for that sole individual who has yet to embark on this incredible journey, this movie is inspiringly original, and features some of the best voice work to date.

Finding Nemo 3Albert Brooks and Ellen Degeneres’ performances are sublime. Degeneres’ portrayal of the memory addled Dori is absolutely hilarious with just the right amount of emotion to provide an unforgettable character.

The all new Blu Ray release is fully loaded to future proof you (from a technology standpoint). Included are 3D and 2D Blu Ray discs, a DVD copy and a Digital Copy, ensuring that you can enjoy the film anywhere. The image quality is great, only topped by the immersive and dynamic audio design/mastering. Finding Nemo 4If you have the equipment to watch the movie in 3D, you’ll definitely enjoy the added depth the third dimension adds to this deep sea adventure. If you don’t, the 2D experience is no slouch, delivering a crisp, clean image.

There are a lot of special features to go through, including:

• Cine-Explore

Finding Nemo: A Filmmakers’ Roundtable

• Reinventing the Submarine Voyage

• A Lesson in Flashbacks

• Deleted Scene

• Knick Knack

• Trailers and Sneak Peeks

• Art Review

• Making Nemo

• Exploring the Reef

• Studio Tour

• Old School

• Deleted Scenes

• Outtakes

• Publicity Pieces

• Mr. Ray’s Encyclopedia

• Aquariums

Most of these features combine comedy, educational elements and a good deal of insight into the making of the blockbuster film. My only complaint would be with the lack of a “play all” option, as some of the features are a concise 10 seconds long, but take almost 30 seconds to load. Other than that, fans will have fun going behind the scenes with the cast and crew.

Finding Nemo 2Bottom Line: A must own DisneyPixar adventure that you’ll want to dive into time and time again.

Movie Grade A+
Blu Ray Grade A

Runtime: 100 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


Anna Karenina: Never-ending drama

Keira Knightley and Aaron Taylor-Johnson star in Anna Karenina. Courtesy of Alliance Films


Leo Tolstoy’s first official novel (according to Tolstoy), Anna Karenina, is regarded as the greatest novel of all time (2007 “The Top Ten in Time”). In its thirteenth film adaptation, director Joe Wright gives the story a staged theatrical spin. However, all the glamorous theatrics cannot spark life into this endless melodrama.

Anna is an upper class socialite in 19th century Russia whose affair with an affluent Count defames her among society’s highest ranks and throws her life into disrepute.

Whether it was the director’s or the writer’s idea to have the movie’s scenes transition from stage to the cinematic world – It just doesn’t work. It acts purely to bring the audience out of the fantasy world they are attempting to draw us into.

The story itself is a drawn out soap opera that seldom features a thought provoking moment outside of the infidelity and flashy wardrobes and sets.

The cast makes due with what they are given. No performances stand out or are even worth mentioning. It all felt very… adequate.

This is the first Joe Wright film I did not enjoy. In fact, I downright detested it. Unlike past treasures of his, such as Pride and Prejudice and Atonement (both period pieces), this film fails on every count outside of costume design.

Bottom Line: Unless you are a diehard fan of the novel, stay miles away from this heap of pretentious babble.

Grade D+

Runtime: 130 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


360: Blu Ray Review

360 is available to own on Blu Ray, November 6, 2012. Courtesy of eOne Entertainment


Infidelity makes up such a large portion of entertainment in our society. Soap operas, movies and even reality TV are riddled with some form of adultery.

Fernando Meirelles’ latest film, 360, connects the lives of various sexually corrupt people from different areas of the world.

The crippling factor in this film rests in the story. Unlike brilliant films such as Closer or Little Children, this movie tries especially hard to tell far too many stories (I stopped counting at 7), without ever fully developing any of them.

Luckily, the performances are solid. The star studded cast including Jude Law, Rachel Weisz, Anthony Hopkins, Jamel Debbouze, Lucia Siposová, Gabriela Marcinkova, and Ben Foster showcase their abundant talents commendably. Foster’s performance as the paroled sexual offender in particular, is fantastic, albeit chilling.

The Blu Ray release delivers the solid cinematography and thoughtful score nicely; however, the special features are fairly thin. Both The Making-of 360 and A look at 360 featurettes feature the cast and filmmakers synopsising the story and its characters. Behind-The-Scenes, however, actually lets you stand behind the camera and watch scenes being filmed or hear discussions between the actors and director Fernando Meirelles. Very cool stuff!

Bottom Line: Unless you’re a fan of the film there isn’t any reason to add this Blu Ray to your collection.

Movie Grade C+
Blu Ray Grade B+

Runtime: 110 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 2.4:1