Tuesday, August 31, 2010

"The Expendables" - in theaters

According to the advertising campaign for this film, I was promised a "man-gasm" if I saw it.

I didn't have one.

The story centers around this group of mercenaries for hire, led by Sylvester Stallone. They're all hardened guys who have seen a lot and have undoubtedly done many bad things. They call themselves, you guessed it, The Expendables, meaning that if one of them dies, no one would really notice.

The story takes off when Bruce Willis hires Stallone and his merry band of men to go to this island (which is God knows where) to kill a general who has basically enslaved his people and stole their livelihoods. But wouldn't you just know it, there's actually a hidden agenda in the form of Eric Roberts who is really the bad guy. It's making a statement regarding how America is bastardizing and exploiting other countries purely for resources, and it isn't entirely lost on the audience. But mostly it's just ridiculous.

There are explosions and fights galore. The Expendable crew includes Stallone, Jason Statham (so hot, seriously), Jet Li, Terry Crewes, and Randy Couture. Couture's style of fighting might have been my favorite. He would basically punch someone and then pick them up and slam them into the ground. Not the most elegant style, but effective nonetheless. Mickey Rourke plays a tattoo artist who used to run with Stallone's crew, but now just tends to get them jobs. And Dolph Lundgren plays an Expendable gone bad, who attempts to kill poor Jet Li multiple times.

So on the CWeave scale, I rate this movie a 6. No man-gasm, but I really like Statham, Li, and Couture. And I'm sorry but I just don't buy Stallone as a badass anymore. I think it's time he hung up his kick-ass pants for good. And I was also annoyed that Jason Statham, the ONE guy that I would like to see without his shirt on, kept it on the whole time! But Rourke and Stallone went topless. Entirely unnecessary.

Monday, August 16, 2010

"The Other Guys" - in theaters

I always love a good Will Ferrell movie. Even if the plot is total crap, I'm usually guaranteed a few good laughs along the way.

I was pleasantly surprised watching this movie, as not only was it pretty good, and pretty funny, it wasn't your typical Will Ferrell vehicle. He was very reserved throughout most of the film, which I found refreshing.

The story centers around two cops, Allen (Ferrell) and Terry (Mark Wahlberg), who aren't given too much responsibility around the police station. While Allen is content to sit at his desk and do paperwork, Terry is itching to get back into some tough police work. The thing is, Terry is a hated man in New York City (where the movie takes place) because he shot Derek Jeeter in the leg during game 7 of the World Series, causing the Yankees the championship. He can't seem to live it down, no matter how hard he works.

Things turn around for the two of them when another pair of hotshot detectives die in the line of duty. Terry sees this as an opportunity to step up, and basically drags Allen along for the ride. Through a series of mishaps, they get involved in something much bigger than what they were expecting, and of course, chaos and laughter ensues.

The pair are bumbling and stumbling through their big "case", and you can see that Wahlberg is having a lot of fun playing this character, given that's it pretty different than anything else he's done. Eva Mendes plays Ferrell's "plain Jane" wife, and she has some pretty hysterical moments. I hope that in the future she does more comedy because she really has the chops for it.

Steve Coogan plays the sort-of villain, a Bernie Madoff type character looking to pay back some clients with other people's money. He wasn't used to his best effect, but he did portray a slimeball pretty convincingly.

I also found that Allen's Toyota Prius was a character in and of itself in this film. It represented what Allen was made of, and it was used very intelligently.

So on the CWeave scale, I rate this movie an 8. Adam McKay (the director) could've used Coogan better, but the chemistry between Wahlberg and Ferrell is pretty fantastic. Not to mention that any time you get Mark Wahlberg to dance, you get bonus points in my book.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

"Dinner for Schmucks" - in theaters

I was hesitant about seeing this movie, because to be honest, the premise was a little unappealing. I'm not a fan of people thinking that they're better than others and mocking them to their face, so I was a little surprised by how much I enjoyed this film.

The story centers around Tim (played by Paul Rudd) a financial analyst looking to make a move for the better within his company. The opportunity arises, and he seizes it, but there's a catch. Apparently, the big wigs at the firm (played by Bruce Greenwood, Ron Livingston, and Larry Wilmore, among others) like to have dinner once a month where they invite "idiots" to attend, make fun of them, and award the biggest idiot a prize at the end of the night. Tim is a little appalled, but again, wants to get ahead, so he agrees.

Just as Tim struggles to find someone to bring to dinner, he runs into (literally... like with his car) Barry (played by Steve Carell), an IRS agent/mouse taxidermist who has very little common sense or social awareness. As Tim starts prepping for this dinner though, he finds out Barry's story, which is quite sad, and begins to feel like an ass for using him this way.

Again, I wasn't a huge fan of the plotline, but I laughed a lot, which is always a plus. Paul Rudd plays a great everyman, blundering his way through his job and relationships. Steve Carell's character reminded me a great deal of Michael Scott, his character from the office, in the social awkwardness category. My favorite character was Jemaine Clement (of "Flight of the Conchords" fame), who plays an artist working with Rudd's girlfriend. He was hysterical, and the fact that people thought he had such animal magnetism was fascinating. Plus, at one point, he was dressed as a satyr, which is always a bonus.

So on the CWeave scale, I rate this movie a 6. Probably not going to be one that I own, but it was definitely enjoyable. I was glad that I saw it during the discounted times at the movie theater though. I don't think I would have wanted to pay full price for it.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

"Step Up 3D" - in theaters

First off, I saw this movie in 3D. I mean, how can you not? Especially considering that as you go into the theater, you just KNOW that the filmmakers are going to use every cheap 3D ploy in the book, considering it's a frickin' dance movie and not Harry Potter.

And it's true. Whether it was water, bubbles, or balloons, that "spectacular" third dimension was in full effect.

The Step Up franchise is really all about the dancing, so the plot is of little importance, and in the case of this film, extremely ridiculous. I enjoy a movie with plot holes that you can drive through, and this didn't disappoint. It centers around a group of dancers who all live together and run a club in New York City (right, like that's believable). They're all training for this huge dance battle, which will win them $100,000, and at the same time, get the bank off of their backs about their late mortgage payments.

This bothered me, considering that even though they were behind on the mortgage, they could still afford to buy zillions of pairs of shoes, film-making equipment, and video games. I mean, responsibility? Hello?

But I digress.

There are basically two main couples that the movie focuses on. Moose (played by Adam G. Sevani), who featured in the second Step Up, and his friend Camille (Alyson Stoner, from the first film), enroll in NYU for their freshman year. Moose's parents have made him give up dancing, but wouldn't you know it? He just can't stay away. Him and Camille are BFF, but you can tell that there's a little something else there as well. As Moose focuses more on dancing, he spends less time with Camille, not to mention his classes. But don't worry. This storyline gets wrapped up with a bow on top.

The second couple is comprised of Luke (Rick Malambri) and Natalie (Sharni Vinson). Luke is the head of the House of Pirates (no joke, that's their name) which is the dance house mentioned earlier. Natalie is somewhat a mysterious figure who joins the House out of the blue, and who kind of has a shady agenda. But of course, they fall in love. And she inspires Luke to finish his amateur film (which is where all that film equipment comes into play), and blah blah blah. What I found to be interesting about Natalie is that she almost looks exactly like the girl from "Step Up 2", down to the way she dances, dresses, looks, and talks.

But this movie isn't about the characters. It's about the dancing. And the dancing, for the most part, doesn't disappoint. My favorite is Twitch, from "So You Think You Can Dance" because that guy can MOVE. I also loved the robot guy, and if you see the movie, you'll know who I'm talking about.

So on the CWeave scale, I give this movie a 6.5. Bonus points for all the sweet dance moves, but points off to the Luke, mostly because he DOESN'T DANCE. At least, not the way that Robert Hoffman (from "Step Up 2") or Channing Tatum (from "Step Up") did. It's disappointing to watch the credits scroll by and see that he had a stunt double for everything. Not cool, man. Not cool.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

"The Kids are Alright" - in theaters

Based on the television commercials that I saw that advertised this film, I expected it to be a lot funnier. However, much like "Lost in Translation", the laughs were somewhat few and far between.

Don't get me wrong though, I really enjoyed this film (unlike the film mentioned above, ugh). It centers around two women, Jules, played by Julianne Moore, and Nic, played by Annette Bening, and their two children, Laser (no joke, that's his name) played by Josh Hutcherson, and Joni, played by Mia Wasikowska. Now, Joni and Laser (seriously, who names their kid after a beam?) are curious about the man who inseminated each mom in turn, so since Joni's 18, she looks him up. The sperm donor is none other than Mark Ruffalo, at his scruffy, charming best, and he soon folds into their lives like a cheap suit.

At first, Mark Ruffalo's character Paul is very charming, and you really dig him. But as he continues to develop relationships with each of these family members, I find him to be less so. At one point he begins to have an affair with Jules, which eventually, the entire family uncovers. I guess what's so icky (for lack of a better word) is the way that Paul behaves and how he weasels his way in to everyone's lives. He's quite a sleazeball when you think about it more, and it sort of makes my skin crawl.

And skeezebag though he may be, Mark Ruffalo does an excellent job at it. All of the cast should be commended on their performances, as they were all very believable, and they all make you care about what happens to this family. It's surprising that this movie came out during the summer as opposed to making a winter Oscar run, but hopefully at nomination time, it won't be forgotten.

So on the CWeave scale, I give this movie an 8. Points off for lacking humor, but bonus points to Josh Hutcherson, who shows a lot of potential.

Now, as a sex educator, I have to throw in my 2 cents. I understand how this movie could spur some controversy given that the main character identifies as a lesbian, yet has an affair with a man. Personally, I don't find this horribly upsetting, because I think that you're attracted to who you're attracted to, and that can't be helped. Labels are just labels, and they shouldn't define every feeling or behavior that occurs. I prefer to think of sexual orientation as fluid, which allows for change and deviation. But again, that's just my opinion...

Monday, August 9, 2010

"Salt" - in theaters

I totally buy Angelina Jolie as an action star. For me, there are some women who can pull off the action movie, and some who can't (sorry Mila Kunis, but you should stick to comedy).

First of all, Jolie kicks some serious butt in this film. I can't describe the plot too well without giving too much away, but I will tell you this: it really keeps you guessing from start to finish. It starts out with a Russian walk-in to the CIA saying that an agent named Evelyn Salt will kill the Russian president the next day at a funeral. And guess who Evelyn Salt is? Angelina, of course. So, she kind of goes all panicky and runs for it. It's at this point that the movie really takes off, and it doesn't take that long to get there. I appreciated that.

I found the supporting cast to also be terrific. Liev Schreiber plays Salt's co-worker/boss at the CIA and their relationship is very brother/sister. You get the sense that over the years Evelyn Salt derived a lot of comfort from that. Chiwetel Ejiofor plays the FBI agent brought in to oversee things, and I enjoy whenever he pops up in films. Maybe it's because he was in "Love Actually" and who DOESN'T love that movie?

So on the CWeave scale, I rate this movie a solid 7. It could have used more humor (I do enjoy a good action comedy), but the acting was steady, the action harrowing, and again, Jolie was a total badass. And bonus points for her, because at one point, she disguises herself as a man! Woot!

Saturday, August 7, 2010

"Despicable Me" - in theaters

I love going to see animated movies as an adult. You get to pick up on all of the subtle references that you fly over your head when you're younger.

That being said, "Despicable Me" didn't disappoint. I pretty much laughed throughout the entire film (including one part where I was the only one laughing, as my friend pointed out, because it was somewhat inappropriate, but whatever), and I even shed a tear or two towards the end.

The story centers around Gru (voiced by Steve Carrell), whose an aging supervillain looking to get back in the game in a big way. His big idea is to shrink the moon and then steal it. Sounds easy right? The only problem is that the shrink ray that Gru needs to use gets stolen from him by Vector (voiced by Jason Segel), an up and comer whose out to prove himself. To get the shrink ray back, Gru has a somewhat brilliant idea to use three orphaned young girls who sold cookies to Vector. So, Gru adopts these girls, just so that he can put cookie-sized robots into the boxes that will steal back the shrink ray. Of course, once he has used the girls for this purpose, he fully intends on abandoning them.

But, inevitably, Gru falls in love with these three children, and finds parting with them to be somewhat harder than he thought.

There are several parts of this movie that I enjoyed beyond belief. The first is when the line "It's so fluffy!" comes into play. The second is any part that involves the minions. The minions live to serve Gru, and they speak a language that only they and Gru seem to understand. They're also funny as hell, and tend to giggle a lot. I was sold on them during the preview.

So on the CWeave scale, I give this movie an 8. I admit, it was probably awesome to see in 3D, but again, I didn't shell out the extra $4 to see it. But, this movie had heart, humor, and a little sadness mixed in. Overall, a great cinematic experience.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

"Inception" - in theaters

I would love to spend a day inside the brain of Christopher Nolan. Seriously.

To steal a turn of phrase from Kathy Griffin, I'd just like to say that this movie delivered like Domino's.

I mean, holy crap.

I've seen it twice, which I think has to be a must. I caught so many things the second time around that I had missed in my first viewing, not to mention that the anti-gravity fight scene is worth seeing again.

The story of "Inception" revolves around Leonardo DiCaprio's character (and really, can Leo do no wrong?), Cobb, who is a very specific kind of thief. He and his team specialize in entering your dreams and stealing your secrets. Cobb's back story is also quite sad - his wife (Marion Cotillard) committed suicide, but Cobb is being blamed and hence, can't go back to America nor his children. All he wants is his name cleared, and when Ken Watanabe's character, Saito, offers just such a thing, Cobb jumps at the chance.

What Saito wants is for an idea to be planted in someone's head, which is what they call Inception. The problem is that to do that, the dream thieves must go deeper into the dreamer's subconscious than is safe.

It's all somewhat confusing to write about, but on film, it isn't as challenging. Trust me, I was worried when I saw it that I wouldn't understand what it's about. It was needless.

What makes this movie is the team of thieves. First there's DiCaprio, all brooding and heartsick. Then there's Arthur, played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt, who is all cool and collected (not to mention smokin' hot). The British guy, Eames, played by Tom Hardy, was my favorite. He added the little bit of humor that the film needed, and his bickering with Arthur is adorable. Then there's the architect, Ariadne, played by Ellen Page. She's all doe-eyed and eager, but at the same time, has a handle on what Cobb is going through and worries about the rest of the team's safety.

Cillian Murphy plays Robert Fischer, in whose head the idea needs to be planted. I really enjoy Murphy as an actor. He has a natural grace in the way he speaks that I find appealing.

So on the CWeave scale, I rate this movie a solid 9. I was a little disappointed that everyone's dreams were so realistic. I was waiting for a unicorn to walk across the screen at some point, but alas, it didn't happen. I'm awarding bonus points to Joseph Gordon-Levitt, who did almost all of his own stunts, including the anti-gravity fight scene. Which he does while WEARING A SUIT. Spectacular. Period.