Screen Junkies » review http://www.screenjunkies.com Movie Reviews & TV Show Reviews Wed, 13 Aug 2014 02:16:33 +0000 en hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.3.1 The Film Cult Presents: Death Becomes Her http://www.screenjunkies.com/movies/the-film-cult-presents-death-becomes-her/ http://www.screenjunkies.com/movies/the-film-cult-presents-death-becomes-her/#comments Fri, 21 Mar 2014 17:03:48 +0000 Philip Harris http://www.screenjunkies.com/?p=260424 “Now a warning!?” Obviously Meryl Streep is a genius. Within my lifetime I think she may break Katharine Hepburn’s record for most best actress Oscars. The Great Kate has four,...

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“Now a warning!?”

Obviously Meryl Streep is a genius. Within my lifetime I think she may break Katharine Hepburn’s record for most best actress Oscars. The Great Kate has four, her first in 1934 and her last in 1982. Poor Meryl only has three, her first in 1979 and her most recent in 2011 for her portrayal of Margaret Thatcher. If only Meryl had been nominated for her consummate portrayal of Madeline Ashton in Death Becomes Her. If only the Academy had realized her true artistic acuity. Then again, they didn’t nominate her for her work in She Devil, so I guess it makes sense they’d overlook Death Becomes Her.

Death Becomes Her is not a great movie. It may not even be a good movie. Still, it’s pretty freakin’ awesome. With only a 43% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, it remains one of those strange, one-off films by cinema greats that becomes a cult to its most ardent fans. With material so wacky and a plot line that sort of dissipates half way through, it’s the star power of Meryl, Goldie Hawn, and Bruce Willis, along with some amazing, if not a tad dated, special effects that make this movie a gem.

The premise is simple: a love triangle complicated by a pink potion that reinstates a person’s optimum beauty and renders the drinker immortal. Streep, Hawn, and Willis are the love triangle, and their chemistry throughout the movie is not only believable but hilarious. For some reason you believe Streep and Hawn are former best friends. I can see them right now having lunch in Santa Monica, gossiping while their salads go untouched. And Willis is just attractive enough as a the dorky Dr. Menville to make him worth fighting over. When the elixir of life is thrown into the mix, all hell (and bone density) breaks loose.

This film is most famous for its special effects and one liners. When the tensions of the love triangle reach their crescendo, physical fights break out in absurdly delectable ways. And yet, there they are, happening right before your very eyes. They shoot each other through the stomach (“And I can see right through you!”) They push each other down the stairs (“You’re in the shit house now pal!”) And they bash each other in the bean with shovels (“Will you please put your head on straight so I can talk to you?”) The scene where Streep’s body adjusts back to its former glory is still believable some twenty-odd years later.

Let’s talk about cameos. I’m not sure you could call Isabella Rossellini’s role a cameo, as she’s pretty fundamental to the story. But, I just can’t believe they got her to do it. She’s the forever young Lisle Von Rhuman, living in a Gothic palace somewhere above Sunset Boulevard. She’s wears necklaces as blouses, and yes, that’s Fabio as her body guard. Her acting is so deliciously over the top that every time she appears, you just hope for more. When she reappears in the third act, stepping out of a pool completely nude, you almost cheer. Other notable cameos are Sydney Pollack as the uncredited doctor, who examines Streep’s living dead body, and the late great Alaina Reed-Hall who turns in a great performance as Hawn’s long-suffering psychologist.

Turning in another uncredited performance is Los Angeles itself. Without ever really saying it, the only way any of this seems plausible is the fact that it’s all going down in LA. Only in LA is Greta Garbo still hiding out after drinking Rossellini’s potion. Only in LA are we willing to give up everything to live forever in perfect beauty, always remembered as the stars we once were. LA is the gilded lint trap for the rest of the country, catching all the once-beautifuls and the gorgeous dreamers in its palm fronds. Here, no one notices if your skin needs a touch-up because it’s starting to crack and reveal the dead gray beneath. Everyone is too busy hustling their own dream to notice the dead bodies in the back of the church or the car being pushed over Mulholland Drive. No one will notice you shot your best friend through the stomach, for as Streep confidently declares after Willis is worried about people hearing the gunshot, “Neighbors? In twelve years in Los Angeles, have you ever seen a neighbor?”

Like I said, Death Becomes Her is not a great movie, but it’s indelible kook is irresistible. It still plays on the premium channels all the time, and everyone I know can quote it for hours (“Make some room from for my friend for Christ’s sake. But, keep your ass handy.”) And, did I mention it won an oscar for best special effects? It did, and rightly so. While maybe not a critically acclaimed classic, it’s a comedy cult classic that I, and millions of others (mostly gay men, sure) are proud to call a favorite.

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‘Oblivion’: An Affair to Barely Remember http://www.screenjunkies.com/movies/movie-review/oblivion-an-affair-to-barely-remember/ http://www.screenjunkies.com/movies/movie-review/oblivion-an-affair-to-barely-remember/#comments Fri, 19 Apr 2013 22:50:04 +0000 Screen Junkies http://www.screenjunkies.com/?p=254470 A review by Inkoo Kang...

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By Inkoo Kang

It’s hard to blame Tom Cruise, now aged 50, for clinging to the kind of high-concept, spectacle-heavy, sci-fi action films he’s made his career on. Between his limited thesping skills, increasingly unhinged private life, and refusal to hang up his leading-man aviators, the middle-aged star is facing fewer and fewer ways to stay on the A-list. After three decades in the biz, though, you’d think that Cruise, who stars in and produced Oblivion, would know how to spot an obvious turkey by now.

Oblivion takes place on a whitish-gray, post-apocalyptic Earth with two inhabitants, pilot/drone repairman Jack (Cruise) and his ground controller/wife Victoria (Andrea Riseborough, W.E). Decades ago, Earth was destroyed during a war against extraterrestrial invaders called Scavengers, a catastrophic event that left the planet under human control but inhospitable to life. The human survivors settled on a moon off Saturn and have been converting the remaining water left on Earth into energy.

Jack and Victoria’s mission is to oversee the drones that perform energy extraction. They know their memories have been wiped to make them an effective team, but they seem surprisingly fine with that. They live in a glass house in the sky (because hey, it’s the future), but Jack keeps a secret lake-side cottage where he goes to try on baseball caps, read old books, and talk to his belongings – traits that are supposed to prove his likability, but just remind you of your not-totally-there grampa.

Two weeks before the end of the mission, a space capsule crashes near Jack during patrol, and its lone survivor turns out to be the beautiful, not-at-all age-appropriate woman Jack always sees in his dreams. Her name is Julia (Olga Kurylenko, Skyfall) and she claims she’s his wife, leading to an awkward Three’s Company scenario with Victoria.

The rest of the film is structured as a series of reveals: who Jack and Julia used to be, how Julia ended up on Earth, where the Scavengers come from, and what’s really on the Saturnine moon. Two, maybe three, of the reveals are genuinely surprising and presented in visually imaginative ways. One even complicates the romance between Jack and Julia in a way that seriously threatens their relationship.

But audiences can only be expected to care about character- and universe-subverting twists when we have a firm grasp of their specificities and an emotional investment in them. Sadly, neither the script nor the stars – all of whom act as if they were in completely different movies – provide any reason to care about any of the characters. And it doesn’t help that the film’s mysteries unravel so slowly that the film is three-fourths over by the time Act One breaks, nor that the plot developments are, on the whole, so by-the-numbers it’s impossible not to dwell on the crater-sized plot holes and the countless cribbings from much better movies like Total Recall, Planet of the Apes, and 2001: A Space Odyssey.

Ultimately, Oblivion is aptly named – no other movie so far this year has been so instantly forgettable. For those who need their fix of movies about ravaged dystopias, they should wait a few months for the can’t-be-any-worse-but-could-definitely-be-better Elysium, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, After Earth, or World War Z. (It’s nice to see Hollywood’s so hopeful about the future.)

See it now, see it later, or run in the other direction? See it later, ideally when you’re bedridden with the flu and the syrupy slowness of the plot will lull you into sweet dreams of Olga Kurylenko.

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Review: Give ‘Real Steel’ A Second Chance On Blu-Ray And DVD http://www.screenjunkies.com/movies/dvd/review-give-real-steel-a-second-chance-on-blu-ray-and-dvd/ http://www.screenjunkies.com/movies/dvd/review-give-real-steel-a-second-chance-on-blu-ray-and-dvd/#comments Thu, 19 Jan 2012 00:06:16 +0000 Mark Potts http://www.screenjunkies.com/?p=242922 This film deserved to do better.

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Real Steel is one of those movies that I wish had done better. It’s not an especially great film, but it’s admirable for what it wants to do and say, and is, at the very least, an enjoyable time. But nonetheless, it fell flat in theaters, but is now available on DVD and Blu-Ray.

The Blu-Ray looks amazing, crystal clear and colorful. And, I’m aware of how dorky this is, but I was quite happy the loading time on the disc was very low. (I hope I’m not the only one to recognize the leaps and bounds Blu-Ray loading times have made. I remember the first Blu-Ray I bought took forever. And by forever, I mean about 10 seconds. But those are 10 seconds of looking at cat and girl photos on the Internet that I won’t get back!)

It’s not packed to the gills with features, but what it does have is pretty good. “Countdown to the Fight: The Charlie Kenton Story” is sort of a behind-the-music video of Hugh Jackman‘s character from the film. You only need to watch it if you’re an “extra features completist.” Otherwise, you can skip it.

“Making of Metal Valley” is a great feature where you see how they created a large sequence in the film. Director Shawn Levy does most of the talking and explaining as they show how they created Metal Valley, which had no real description in the script (isn’t that something of a screenwriting no-no? And is saying no-no a no-no?) Levy gives a lot of credit to his crew for helping create the film, which is nice to see since Hollywood is full of many egotistical directors (COUGH-Michael Bay-COUGH).

The rest of the features are a nice watch. Sugar Ray Leonard has a five minute segment detailing how he helped Hugh Jackman act like a real boxer. “Building Bots” is a cool behind-the-scenes look at how they created the practical and CGI robots. “Real Steel Second Screen” is a feature where you download an app to your computer or iPad, sync it to the film playing on your TV, and watch more extra features while the film plays. It’s a pretty cool feature and something I hope gets included on more Blu-Rays.

And finishing things out are your standard deleted and extended scnes, bloopers, and audio commentary by Levy, who is a fairly charming and interesting guy.

Overall, it’s a great Blu-Ray, It looks phenomenal, and has some fun features you can enjoy. Also, the film provides you with the fun game of “Who is Hotter: Hugh Jackman or Evangeline Lilly?” Man or woman, it’s a tough game.

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A Guy’s Guide To ‘The Twilight Saga: Eclipse’ http://www.screenjunkies.com/movies/movie-review/a-guys-guide-to-the-twilight-saga-eclipse/ http://www.screenjunkies.com/movies/movie-review/a-guys-guide-to-the-twilight-saga-eclipse/#comments Sat, 19 Nov 2011 00:44:58 +0000 Nicholas Pell http://www.screenjunkies.com/?p=237241 Our look at one of the four greatest Twilight films ever made.

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Until today, Eclipse was the most recent movie in The Twilight Saga. It’s pretty much the same story as New Moon, except there’s more snow and we have to deal with Edward through the whole thing. Much like the last movie, not much happens, except there’s a sick army of new vampires who tear it up.

Check out a Guy’s Guide to The Twilight Characters, Twilight, and The Twilight Saga: New Moon

Summary

The blond dude from the first movie (the one that Edward killed) has a vampire girlfriend who is still alive. She’s so pissed that she creates an army of vampires to kill Bella. We’re pretty much cheering for the vampire army throughout the movie, because we hate Bella and think that vampire armies are a pretty sweet idea. Apparently, though, vampire armies violate some unwritten vampire law, so the Italian goth family who rules over the vampire world has to step in. The film also focuses on Edward and Bella’s love, and how Jacob is too stupid to move on. Actually, he’s kind of stupid for being in love with Bella in the first place, because what kind of fool loves a girl who hates herself and everything else in the world except some 100-year-old dude who manipulates and abuses her?

Anyway, eventually the vampire army attacks, but because Jacob is kind of a bitch, he makes all the werewolves fight for stupid Bella. Some of the fight scenes on the mountain are admittedly pretty dope, and we like it when Jacob is all like “I gotta cuddle your girl to keep her warm, dawg.” Especially because cuddling is pretty much the equivalent of anal sex in the Twilightverse. At the end of the movie, the Italian goth dudes are all “For real, bro, you have to make your girl a vampire,” setting the stage for The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn, Part I, the film with the worst title in the history of cinema.

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Review: ‘Jackie Brown’ On Blu-Ray http://www.screenjunkies.com/movies/movie-review/review-jackie-brown-on-blu-ray/ http://www.screenjunkies.com/movies/movie-review/review-jackie-brown-on-blu-ray/#comments Tue, 18 Oct 2011 13:30:11 +0000 Archibald Bayou III http://www.screenjunkies.com/?p=232783 Although it's the black sheep of the Tarantino film family, hopefully it will get its due with this excellent Blu-ray release.

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Quentin Tarantino‘s Jackie Brown doesn’t get the praise or attention of some of Tarantino’s other films, but it deserves its place among the great movies of the last 15 years. While it may not be as quotable as Pulp Fiction or Reservoir Dogs, it features some of Tarantino’s deepest characters, and maybe his most compelling overall story.

Jackie Brown was released on Blu-ray on October 4th, with an SRP of $19.99. Although it’s the black sheep of the Tarantino film family, hopefully it will get its due with this excellent Blu-ray release.

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‘Real Steel, is…Real Good http://www.screenjunkies.com/movies/movie-review/real-steel-is-real-good/ http://www.screenjunkies.com/movies/movie-review/real-steel-is-real-good/#comments Fri, 07 Oct 2011 13:00:31 +0000 Noah Griffith http://www.screenjunkies.com/?p=231419 It's by far the best father-son fighting-robot movie I've seen this week.

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Real Steel is one of those movies that you see the trailer and think “Hugh Jackman…Boxing Robots…hmmm.”  You can’t expect Oscar material, but a part of you is hoping it’ll bring you back to those childhood days watching Amblin films.  Luckily, Hugh Jackman…Boxing Robots…is well worth it.

Jackman plays Charlie Denton, an ex-boxer working the low level robot boxing circuit in the near future.  He’s a jerk. He owes everyone and their mother money, and when his fighter ‘Ambush’ gets demolished in a Texas rodeo, he’s hit rock bottom. This all changes, however, when he receives word his ex wife has died in a car crash, leaving his estranged son, Max (Dakota Goyo), in his custody. With an Aunt eagerly wanting to adopt Max, Denton weasels his way into selling the kid to her rich husband so he can buy the famed robot ‘Noisy Boy’ and continue competing in the circuit. The only problem is, he has to take care of Max for rest of the summer, something he’s not cut out for. But since the kids got an attitude, he forces Denton to take him along for the ride.

As they compete, Denton’s impulsive personality lands him into even more dirt when he gets Noisy Boy destroyed. With no other choice, he takes Max to the scrap yard for a new fighter, where the kid finds ‘Atom’, an old school sparring bot he believes will be their champion. Tension ensues as they both try to make Atom a winner and take him to the big leagues.

You can pretty much see where this is going, but that doesn’t mean it’s a bad thing. Shawn Levy (Night at the Museum, Cheaper by the Dozen) hits us with great boxing matches, stunning shots on the American Heartlands, and most importantl, building a great dynamic between Jackman and Goyo from the start. Not to mention elevating Richard Matheson’s short story (which became a twilight zone episode with Lee Marvin) to a whole new level. There’s plenty in here for both kids and adults to enjoy.

Is Real Steal formulaic? Yes. Does a Limp Bizkit song play during one of the fights? Yes. Is Phil Lamar one of the commentators for the end battle? Maybe. But rest assured, Real Steel is a father-son story first, sports movie second. The only reason we remotely care about what we’re watching is because of the chemistry Jackman and Goyo share on screen, which is superb. Add in a great cast of supporting actors like Evangeline Lily, Anthony Mackie, and the always entertaining Kevin Durand, and you’ve got yourself a piece of good ‘ole Hollywood Cinema.

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Review: X-Men: First Class http://www.screenjunkies.com/movies/movie-review/review-x-men-first-class-review/ http://www.screenjunkies.com/movies/movie-review/review-x-men-first-class-review/#comments Sun, 05 Jun 2011 22:00:38 +0000 Fred Topel http://www.screenjunkies.com/?p=214843 It’s so good, I held my pee for at least 90 minutes because I didn’t want to miss anything.

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Oh my God, I can’t believe how good X-Men: First Class is. It’s so good, I held my pee for at least 90 minutes because I didn’t want to miss anything. Also, I shouldn’t drink coffee in movies.

This is the best prequel ever, because it actually tells a story. It’s not just setup, although there’s plenty of that too. The characters are actually different at this stage of the story, not just younger imitations. Xavier (James McAvoy) uses his telepathy to pick up babes, and has a cocky swagger that’s in no way reminiscent of Patrick Stewart. Mystique as a child is sweet and heartwarming, and once she grows up to be Jennifer Lawrence she’s a lovely lady, not yet the cold, hard edged Rebecca Romijn version.

Kevin Bacon Shows His Skills In New ‘X-Men: First Class’ Trailer

The superpowers get to be delightful at this stage because they haven’t totally become burdens yet. The kids get to train and experience the joy of discovery, like the best parts of Spider-Man and Iron Man. It’s just plain awesome, Azazel teleporting humans to the sky and dropping them, Magneto turning a knife into a boomerang or turning barb wire into snares. It’s beautiful and tragic too. Spoiler alert, but not all the mutants grow up to be X-Men, especially not the ones who don’t have well known comic book names.

The film really emphasizes the practical uses of mutant powers. Xavier even comments that his telepathy is being blocked, like, “Oh well, it’s not working right now so I can’t help you today. Maybe I need to call tech support.” It’s momentous, triumphant, powerful and still debates all that important philosophy. It totally invalidates the prologue of X-Men: The Last Stand but something tells me no one will mind that.

I love the way Matthew Vaughn shoots. He creates Hitchcockian suspense, only instead on knowing there’s a bomb under the desk, we know that Magneto is going to bend some metal. But will it be the gun or the coin or all the metal in the room? Vaughn’s camera captures little details that make the scene feel real, like Magneto’s reflection in a gold bar.

3 photosThe January Jones/Emma Frost Underwear Shots We’ve All Been Waiting For

More obvious details make the world feel even more real than the Bryan Singer films. Yeah, it’s a period piece, but using the period details grounds the film where X2 will still feel generically modern long after 2003. So they play “Palisades Park” in a go-go club and the fashion is disco. Just showing Mystique brushing her teeth gives her a real world context.

First Class is this year’s great comic book movie, up there with Spider-Man 1 and The Dark Knight, maybe somewhere in between them. (Sorry Green Lantern, it won’t be you this summer.) It’s the summer movie I’ve been waiting for. Actually, it makes me realize I might have been settling for others before this.

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Review: ‘Teen Wolf’ http://www.screenjunkies.com/tv/review-tv/review-teen-wolf/ http://www.screenjunkies.com/tv/review-tv/review-teen-wolf/#comments Fri, 03 Jun 2011 23:53:49 +0000 Fred Topel http://www.screenjunkies.com/?p=214737 Unfortunately, this “Teen Wolf” is just a typical slick MTV show with no character.

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I loved Teen Wolf as a kid and even played werewolf with my little buddies. I’m fine with the idea of a serious reboot in name only. I’m not so nostalgic I can’t enjoy that drama. Unfortunately, this “Teen Wolf” is just a typical slick MTV show with no character.

I almost thought it would cold open with the wolf out in the mirror, but no it was just a fake out and a silly intro of Stiles (Dylan O’Brien). They want to go find a dead body? That’s something high schoolers do? That’s when Scott McCall (Tyler Posey) gets bitten by a wolf, so it’s a totally ordinary rehash of The Wolf Man.

I don’t see why they had to lose the whole family history. That would be even more interesting in a drama. A wolf bite is just random and you lose the generational relationship where he could learn from or repeat his father’s mistakes. I think this Scott has a single mom, because that’s more relatable to today’s broken homes. The case of the body keeps coming up and sounds stupid like teen CSI.


Well groomed kids walk around school looking at hot cars, ignore lame teachers and talk about fashion. The background soundtrack of “TRL” hits makes it sound like an MTV vehicle, which is all it is. At least a house party looks like a long lost episode of “The Grind.” They even drop references to changing a song on your iPod. It’s very forced to sound like it’s in touch with the youth culture who have these crazy devices that distract them from driving. I know I’m no longer attuned to how teenagers talk, but I know bad writing. It only gets worse when Scott starts describing his wolf symptoms.

The powers are the same only now his super hearing picks up distant cell phones. Oh, and when a whistle hurts his ears, it’s a coach’s whistle. Okay folks, the reason the dog whistle hurt Michael J. Fox’s ears was to demonstrate he could hear nonhuman frequencies. The coach’s whistle just causes discomfort. There’s nothing creative or dramatic about that. Scott throws furniture around when he gets angry, so this truly is no more interesting than puberty and dealing with body changes.

I don’t mind changing the sport to lacrosse. I grew up in a lacrosse town so I know it’s a big deal. The show seems defensive about it though. They keep trying to tell you how cool lacrosse is. Visually, it’s not as striking to see Scott catch lacrosse balls as it was to see Fox dribble and dunk. If they eventually have wolf Scott with fur sticking out of a lacrosse uniform, that will be awesome. The wolf himself looks like you’d expect a TV makeup job to look. Cable TV, not network level makeup like “Buffy.”


The characters are so stupid. There’s the hyper pepped up coach, the sensitive hottie Allison Argent (Crystal Reed), the juiced up jock. The introduction of wolf hunters only promises more clichéd subplots. This Scott works in an animal clinic. Come on, guys. Those aren’t creative developments. It’s not ironic that he works with animals and then he becomes one. Or maybe it would be if it was important to his personality, but it’s just a job they inserted into his character profile on the screenplay template.

This show is so stupid. Maybe it’s trying to cram too much into a pilot, but I won’t watch any more to find out. I’m pretty confident this is the artistic direction of MTV’s “Teen Wolf.”

“Teen Wolf” premieres June 5 at 11.

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ActionFest Review: ’13 Assassins’ http://www.screenjunkies.com/movies/movie-review/actionfest-review-13-assassins/ http://www.screenjunkies.com/movies/movie-review/actionfest-review-13-assassins/#comments Fri, 15 Apr 2011 23:41:01 +0000 Fred Topel http://www.screenjunkies.com/?p=207398 I knew when I saw it this was something special, but it kind of took me two viewings to process it all.

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13 Assassins played in Toronto and Fantastic Fest. I saw it in SXSW, but it took me until ActionFest to finally review it. I knew when I saw it this was something special, but it kind of took me two viewings to process it all.

Lord Naritsugu (Goro Inagaki) is torturing his servants, shooting arrows into kids and amputating women. Someone’s got to take this guy down. It’s up to lord Shinzaemon (Koji Yakusho) to assemble a team of samurai. He’s got 13, Naritsugu has 200, so it’s a samurai 300 with better action and tougher odds if you do the math.

The big battle is what everyone is going to remember about 13 Assassins and it is in essence the movie. For 30 straight minutes, Shinzaemon’s assassins plan comes together and tears apart the opposing army of 200. With a booby trapped stronghold, strategic tactics and badas fighting, the film’s battle is one for the cinematic ages.

At one point they set bulls on fire and send them trampling after the enemy. This is obviously a CGI effect, because you can’t light a bull on fire and then expect him to hit his mark. Even though it looks like an effect, the idea is so awesome it’s worth showing on film. That may be inhumane of the heroes too, but it’s awesome.

Hioki (Sosuke Takaoka) is the super badass of the 13. Koyata (Yusuke Iseya) is the 13th they pick up on the road, a hunter who twirls some rocks as a cool counterpoint to the other 12 swordsmen. You get to know each character through scenes of training and backstory, but they distinguish themselves the most during the battle.

Even though 13 Assassins builds up to a conclusion that totally overshadows everything else, you want to spend two hours in this world and watch them plan. Takashi Miike creates the tone of Kurosawa with blood and contact. I got a little lost in the clans and politics but the characters and moments are universal.

It’s all about the little details, like a kid peeing in the street to punctuate the tension. The preparations and initial battles set a stage. A sword gets stuck in the samurai’s enemy. Duels interest other duels. 13 Assassins is an epic masterpiece.

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Review: ‘Henry’s Crime’ http://www.screenjunkies.com/movies/movie-review/review-henrys-crime/ http://www.screenjunkies.com/movies/movie-review/review-henrys-crime/#comments Fri, 15 Apr 2011 23:24:59 +0000 Fred Topel http://www.screenjunkies.com/?p=207392 I don’t think it’s great or memorable, but as one of the unorthodox releases this weekend, it may interest some of you.

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Henry’s Crime is one of those quirky indie movies. It probably ranks on the higher end of that scale, just by the A-list cast and cinematic production value. I don’t think it’s great or memorable, but as one of the unorthodox releases this weekend, it may interest some of you.

Henry Torne (Keanu Reeves) gets tricked into driving getaway for a bank robbery, and he’s the one who does the time for it. When he’s free, he decides he’d like to rob the bank for real, since he already went to jail for not robbing it. He gets his prison buddy Max (James Caan) out to assist him.

The hook is that there’s a tunnel leading from the local theater to the bank vault, from Prohibition era. So Henry strikes up a relationship with local actress Julie (Vera Farmiga) and ultimately ends up playing a role in their production of “The Cherry Orchard.” Isn’t that quirky? A bank heist AND a local theater production. Oh, the hilarity.

I’ve always been a Keanu defender. You would not have loved The Matrix so much if he weren’t playing it like a kid discovering his first Nintendo. Henry’s Crime allows him to be more understated than ever, because he’s a stifled sad sack. It’s the bland guy coming to life, a formula as trite in the indie world as the rom-com is in mainstream movies.

Max and Henry case the bank and the theater while Henry romances Julie. They have some technical problems to figure out, like dealing with the dirt from the tunnel. Along the way, more characters horn in on their scam. Ultimately Henry is torn between acting and going through with the plan.

It’s so mellow, it’s hard to get excited about Henry’s Crime, but maybe you want to see James Caan as another badass mastermind, or Reeves stretching from stoic leading men. There’s actually a good production of “The Cherry Orchard” in there, until Julie and Henr break character to deal with their actual relationship. Director Malcolm Venville makes the film look professional, so it will certainly stand out in an arthouse theater surrounded by first time foreign features.

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Review: ‘Knight and Day’ http://www.screenjunkies.com/movies/movie-review/review-knight-and-day/ http://www.screenjunkies.com/movies/movie-review/review-knight-and-day/#comments Wed, 30 Nov -0001 00:00:00 +0000 Knight and Day PG-13, 109min.,2010 Cast: Tom Cruise, Cameron Diaz, Peter Sarsgard, Viola Davis, and Paul Dano Directed by James Mangold Screenplay by Patrick O'Neill   Knight and Day evaporates from the mind like most summer action flicks once the end credits roll.   Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz star as Miller, the reflex quick spy, and June, the tough but at times ditsy blonde – two roles they both can do in their sleep at this point. Miller and June are involved in a worldwide espionage plot that they find way over their heads, giving excuse for over the top car case sequences and fireball explosions that will come in the next 2 hours. With them filling script flaws with pseudo-action chemistry and the occasional information of character story and plot connection, action comedy has never looked this boring.MORE AFTER THE JUMP...

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Knight and Day
PG-13, 109min.,2010
Cast: Tom Cruise, Cameron Diaz, Peter Sarsgard, Viola Davis, and Paul Dano
Directed by James Mangold
Screenplay by Patrick O’Neill
 
Knight and Day evaporates from the mind like most summer action flicks once the end credits roll.
 
Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz star as Miller, the reflex quick spy, and June, the tough but at times ditsy blonde – two roles they both can do in their sleep at this point. Miller and June are involved in a worldwide espionage plot that they find way over their heads, giving excuse for over the top car case sequences and fireball explosions that will come in the next 2 hours. With them filling script flaws with pseudo-action chemistry and the occasional information of character story and plot connection, action comedy has never looked this boring.

MORE AFTER THE JUMP…

Director James Mangold of Walk the Line and 3:10 to Yuma, tries to fuse together a supposedly original script from Patrick O’Neill as a classic boy-meets-girl story mixed with screwball humor and the similar plot action of North By Northwest and To Catch A Thief.
 
Almost every episodic action sequence will remind film junkies and older audiences of something out of a 50s Hitchcock movie, but filled with modern CGI and action steroids.
 
One particular action sequence that does work is the final car chase sequence in Spain, where Cruise on his signature motorcycle with Diaz rush through the streets of Seville during the running of the bulls. It has some wild fun with them being chased in the parade by bulls and some amazing car stunts that elevate the movie to something memorable for a few minutes.
 
The script by Patrick O’Neill could have at one point looked like a promising original homage, before names like Diaz and Cruise signed aboard. The movie might have worked, had it gone another route by casting more character driven performers like Sam Rockwell and Rosario Dawson, two physically capable and funny actors that could really punch up the dialogue, but here like before with Cruise and Diaz its the same old song and dance number.
 
With this, Knight and Day sets itself as another mindless action adventure in an ever lasting summer box office of sequels, prequels, remakes, and superhero movies.
 
Grade: C-

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Review: ‘Survival of the Dead’ http://www.screenjunkies.com/movies/movie-review/review-survival-of-the-dead/ http://www.screenjunkies.com/movies/movie-review/review-survival-of-the-dead/#comments Wed, 30 Nov -0001 00:00:00 +0000 Survival of the Dead R, 90m., 2010 Cast: Kathrine Munroe, Kenneth Welsh, Richard Fitzpatrick, Devon Bostwick and Alan Van Sprang Written and Directed by George A. Romero   Survival of the Dead is so cartoonish, that you wouldn’t be surprised to see the cast of Looney Tunes popping out of nowhere and blasting away some Zombies.   Marking his 6th official journey into the world of the undead, legendary filmmaker George A. Romero, creates a hybrid Z-picture that can be decribed as part Western, part cartoon, and part iconclastic horror movie.MORE OF THE REVIEW AFTER THE JUMP.

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Survival of the Dead
R, 90m., 2010
Cast: Kathrine Munroe, Kenneth Welsh, Richard Fitzpatrick, Devon Bostwick and Alan Van Sprang
Written and Directed by George A. Romero
 
Survival of the Dead is so cartoonish, that you wouldn’t be surprised to see the cast of Looney Tunes popping out of nowhere and blasting away some Zombies.
 
Marking his 6th official journey into the world of the undead, legendary filmmaker George A. Romero, creates a hybrid Z-picture that can be decribed as part Western, part cartoon, and part iconclastic horror movie.

MORE OF THE REVIEW AFTER THE JUMP.

A bloody family life-long feud on an island off the coast of Delaware between two Irish families, the Muldoons and the O’Flynns, is put into overdrive when the zombie apocalypse hits and the two families take to their own managing of the zombie problem. Muldoon and his clan, looking like a cross between Elmer Fudd and Foghorn Leghorn, want to keep the undead held in captivity untill a cure comes along. On the other hand, O’Flynn and his clan, a cross between Yosemite Sam and Bugs Bunny, take a shoot-first-ask-questions-later approach to dealing with the undead creatures.
 
The message this time, or lack of one, amounts to it being about borders and flags, and how we make a whole big deal about them until we forget about the real problems that need to be fought together.
 
Yet this is totally erroneous to the fact that Romero just wants to make another head bashing zombie movie. Here he succeeds for about 60 percent of the time, but is one or too leg chomps away from a total disaster.
 
Too many subplots and broad humor at times get in the way of his more grittier, intense moments. Still, he brings plenty of gore and humor, even with a much lower budget, similar to his Diary of the Dead two years ago, which Survival has several spin-off characters from.
 
Survival is  the first, according to Romero, in a planned trilogy of more Dead movies. Someone should let him know that "triology" means "three." Three movies focusing on the same subject material. We’ve already got two trilogies, and then some, George.
 
The Z-genre, with the exception of Zombieland, Shaun of the Dead and 28 Days Later, has been decaying on the movie going audience for the past decade, and Survival of the Dead is no exception.
 
Grade: C+

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THIS THURSDAY!! ‘DISTRICT 9′ MIDNIGHT SCREENINGS!!! http://www.screenjunkies.com/movies/movie-news/this-thursday-district-9-midnight-screenings/ http://www.screenjunkies.com/movies/movie-news/this-thursday-district-9-midnight-screenings/#comments Wed, 30 Nov -0001 00:00:00 +0000  Anticipation is in the air as nerd boners stiffen and engorge across the country. The eagerly-awaited District 9 opens THIS THURSDAY AT MIDNIGHT and that means that YOU can be one of the first to see it. According to early buzz and our review, the movie is stellar. You should definitely stay up late to catch what looks to be one of this summer's best. I'd stay up to watch it but I've got to deliver my papers in the morning. It's my sworn duty and I intend to honor it. (District 9) Focus your eyeballs on these morning links... Some info about The Thing prequel. (/Film) Paul Giamatti replaces Sean Penn in The Three Stooges. (Empire)  Sum Dood cast as Green Hornet's Kato. (Cinematical) Salma Hayek totally unshaven. (Dread Central) Doug Liman is the new Hero of the Hudson. (Cinema Blend) Awesome scenes from G.I. Joe cartoon box set. (io9) So happy that Tuco made this list. (Pajiba)

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Anticipation is in the air as nerd boners stiffen and engorge across the country. The eagerly-awaited District 9 opens THIS THURSDAY AT MIDNIGHT and that means that YOU can be one of the first to see it. According to early buzz and our review, the movie is stellar. You should definitely stay up late to catch what looks to be one of this summer’s best. I’d stay up to watch it but I’ve got to deliver my papers in the morning. It’s my sworn duty and I intend to honor it. (District 9)
 
Focus your eyeballs on these morning links…
 
Some info about The Thing prequel. (/Film)
Paul Giamatti replaces Sean Penn in The Three Stooges. (Empire
Sum Dood cast as Green Hornet‘s Kato. (Cinematical)
Salma Hayek totally unshaven. (Dread Central)
Doug Liman is the new Hero of the Hudson. (Cinema Blend)
Awesome scenes from G.I. Joe cartoon box set. (io9)
So happy that Tuco made this list. (Pajiba)

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‘STAR TREK’ REVIEW http://www.screenjunkies.com/movies/movie-review/star-trek-review/ http://www.screenjunkies.com/movies/movie-review/star-trek-review/#comments Wed, 30 Nov -0001 00:00:00 +0000 “Star Trek” has been lying on the emergency room table for a good 10 years now, finally flat-lining with the ultra-flop “Nemesis” back in 2003, and then being confirmed dead when the pitiable TV series “Enterprise” was cancelled in 2005.  After having overcome cancellation, diminishing box office returns, and an increasingly maligned mythology only taken seriously by hardcore fanboys, “Star Trek” looked like it had finally breathed its last  Enter JJ Abrams, who has retooled, rebooted, and re-energized this franchise into a slick, hip, action-packed and character-driven summer blockbuster that will bring in much-needed new fans and please plenty of hard-to-satisfy Trekkies.  The hardcore fans won’t be happy, but then again, are they ever?

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“Star Trek” has been lying on the emergency room table for a good 10 years now, finally flat-lining with the ultra-flop “Nemesis” back in 2003, and then being confirmed dead when the pitiable TV series “Enterprise” was cancelled in 2005.  After having overcome cancellation, diminishing box office returns, and an increasingly maligned mythology onl taken seriously by hardcore fanboys, “Star Trek” looked like it had finally breathed its last  Enter JJ Abrams, who has retooled, rebooted, and re-energized this franchise into a slick, hip, action-packed and character-driven summer blockbuster that will bring in much-needed new fans and please plenty of hard-to-satisfy Trekkies.  The hardcore fans won’t be happy, but then again, are they ever?

The Plot in 13 Words
The Enterprise must once again save the planet in two hours, oh no!

Where’s Spock?
Right from the first scene, Abrams proves he knows Trek, by giving us a banquet of exploding, slam-bang action that the series has never seen before – a massive ship with huge metallic claws emerges from the maw of a gaping black hole vortex, captained by the Romulan Nero, who demands the awaiting starship USS Kelvin of Spock’s whereabouts.  Kelvin’s captain is one Kirk, a Kirk who doesn’t know who Spock is, and after a crackling, exploding space battle, they quickly find they are no match for the Romulan vessel.  Kirk sacrifices himself by sending the ship hurtling towards the vessel after escape pods have been jettisoned, one of them containing his wife in labor and his son.  Before the ship crashes into Nero’s, he has time to hear his new son’s name: James T. Kirk.

“I dare you to do better.”
Over the next forty minutes or so the movie follows Kirk in his rebellious youth as he wastes away most of his life getting in bar fights and driving cars off cliffs.  Captain Pike, who was an officer aboard the Kelvin, is now captain of the Enterprise, and he gives a stirring destiny speech to Kirk.  “Your father was captain of a starship for twelve minutes.  He saved 800 lives.  I dare you to do better.”  This is a strong, solid set-up for Kirk’s character and provides believable motivation for him to enlist in Starfleet.  Chris Pine gives Kirk a snide, cocky, self-assured gait and look that slowly hardens into confident experience tempered by just a dash of humility.  There’s a bit of the Shat visible in there, too, but it’s not an imitation; it’s its own performance and succeeds on its own right.  Not to mention his chemistry with Zachary Quinto as Spock, a relationship crucial to the franchise and crippling to the movie if it had chosen the wrong guys to play these two icons. 

Sylar Spock
They didn’t.  Just like everyone knew he would, Quinto (from TV’s Heroes) channels the cold, logical-yet-emotional face of Spock nigh-on perfectly.  He’s a bit more rough around the edges here; an occasional smile even sneaks in, and he has more outbursts in the movie than Spock had in all six of the original ones.  However, it makes much more sense this way; we first see Spock in a tender and funny scene at around age eight, as he is taunted, logically of course, by some older Vulcan boys about being half-human.  It’s a dichotomy that Spock has to struggle with his whole life, and it makes sense that he wouldn’t have the wisdom, and completely emotionless expression down quite yet.  The next few movies in the franchise will be the true test of Quinto’s skills.  Not that they aren’t on excellent display here, along with the rest of the cast, all working together in humming harmony even if there are a few hiccups, which can easily be forgiven, this being basically the first entry in the franchise.

Meet the crew
Let’s begin with Karl Urban as McCoy, who comes closer to an actual impression of the original actor than anybody else.  The classic Bones drawl is there, and a pleasant surprise is that the old Bones-Spock banter is back too.  Zoe Saldana as Uhura is hot, young, and sexy, and a pretty good pick for a fresh-out-of-the-academy Uhura.  She’s a much stronger character here than she was in the original series, and she has more sass and pizzazz too.  She can’t quite pin down the regal yet smokin’ hot thing Uhura had going on in her too-short Starfleet uniform, though.  John Cho (yes, stoner Harold) is Sulu, a fencing champ and rookie pilot of the Enterprise.  With what little screen time he’s given, Cho proves he can play action drama just as well as stoner comedy. Anton Yelchin plays a young, blubbering, just barely out-of-his-teens Pavel Chekov, but he comes too close to annoying for comfort sometimes, and his character seems only to rely on how many times he can make his accent seem funny.  Then there’s Simon Pegg acting very Simon Pegg-y as the ship’s engineer, Scotty, in this universe’s scenario a Starfleet officer assigned to some off-world barren planet as an engineer.  Pegg’s hard not to like, though, and his take on Scotty is fresh and different, while still managing to retain some of the charm that made James Doohan’s role so iconic.

Back to the future again…?
The whole plot revolves a well-worn Trek device: time travel.  Since most everything else about the movie manages to break all that’s old and dreary about the franchise into a fresh new light, it’s odd that this obviously over-used plot device should be what Abrams chose to re-ignite Star Trek into the next generation – until you see the way it’s used in the movie.  Without giving anything away, Abrams manages to twist the conventional into something new and surprising that manages, in many ways, to have its cake and eat it too.  The one other glaring weakness of the film is the villain – a one-dimensional angry sociopath valiantly played by Eric Bana.  His bad character development him more of a placeholder than an actual threatening figure, but that’s a small complaining, as he provides just enough awe and menace and to serve as a fearsome villain for one movie.

What I Thought
Combined with the acting, character development, and special effects, the script works in balancing out the above weaknesses with yet more Trekkie wealth; the movie is peppered with a couple dozen references to Trek history, from the time travel discussion between Spock and Bones in The Voyage Home, to Kirk and Kahn’s classic conflict, to a red suit being the first to go up in flames on an away mission.  The movie never gets too in-jokey enough to alienate newcomers – the references are worked into the storyline so that they’re just part of the world, not glaring winks.  In the end, it’s an extremely clever movie that is exactly what this franchise needs to get back on its feet – a movie that loves its predecessors just as much as its fans do, but knows that in order to honor them, changes must be made, and drastic ones.  This installment easily ranks in the top three or four of the series, and hopefully this solid platform will be a good jumping off point for Abrams to really blow our minds in the next flick.  It used to be that if you suggested to someone that you go see the latest Star Trek, they’d look at you like you were some kind of twisted geek and ask you on which couch in your mom’s basement you slept. (The green one.) The change that they’ve put Star Trek through is staggering, and even more so when you realize how much it still feels like the same crew, flying that same starship, disappearing into that same pinpoint of light in the night sky, a voice floating over the stars, ethereally familiar and yet heralding a whole new era.  “Space.  The final frontier…”

I give it an 8/10.

– THOMAS ANDERSON

CHECK OUT THESE ‘TREK BABES:

Zoe Saldana

Winona Ryder

 

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