May 23, 2013 / 4:00 pm
Greetings movie lovers, it's time to take a peek at what the cinema has to offer us this weekend.
Fast & Furious 6
Since Dom (Vin Diesel) and Brian's (Paul Walker) Rio heist toppled a kingpin's empire and left their crew with $100 million, our heroes have scattered across the globe. But their inability to return home and living forever on the lam have left their lives incomplete. Meanwhile, Hobbs (Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson) has been tracking an organization of lethally skilled mercenary drivers across 12 countries, whose mastermind (Luke Evans) is aided by a ruthless second-in-command revealed to be the love Dom thought was dead, Letty (Michelle Rodriguez). The only way to stop the criminal outfit is to outmatch them at street level, so Hobbs asks Dom to assemble his elite team in London. Payment? Full pardons for all of them so they can return home and make their families whole again.
I remember walking out of the theatre back in 2001 having just seen the original The Fast and the Furious and thinking meh. Sure it had some fun action in it, but for the most part it was pretty dopey and I didn't really get what all the fuss was about. Of course it was quite successful at the box office and naturally spawned several sequels, none of which I bothered to even check out due to general lack of interest on my part, not to mention lousy critical response. I'd pretty much written this series off as a complete waste of time. And then a funny thing happened two years ago with the release of Fast Five. The film was getting some tremendous advance buzz online and I figured since I was a fan of The Rock, who had just been added to the cast, that I would give this series another shot and check it out on the big screen. Boy, I'm glad I did because I had an absolute blast with it. What a fun show!
It's not surprising at all that Fast Five became the most successful film in the franchise grossing over $600 million worldwide, and it even achieved the rare feat of being a critically lauded action film garnering a 78% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes. It was a smart idea on the filmmakers part to essentially relaunch this franchise into more of a big heist epic action extravaganza rather than just another goofy film about street racing. They really ramped up the stunt sequences and created enormous set pieces that were totally thrilling and exciting to watch. It was so well done that now I'm actually bristling with anticipation to see the latest installment in this action series.
Justin Lin returns to the director's chair for his fourth and final go around with this franchise. I wouldn't be the least bit surprised if he wants to go out with a bang by creating some of the most insane and crazy action sequences and car chases in movie history. I'm pretty sure that he pulled out all the stops to top what he did in Fast Five, and if so, the audience is going to be in for a treat. Oh, and in case you're wondering, there will indeed be a Fast & Furious 7. It will be released July 2014 with horror director James Wan (Saw, Insidious, The Conjuring) taking over behind the camera.
Fast & Furious 6 features the whole gang returning for another adventure. Dom, Brian, Mia, Roman, Tej, Han, Gisele, Letty, and Hobbs are all here as well as the addition of Gina Carano, Luke Evans and Joe Taslim. Also be sure to stay until the end of the credits for a teaser scene that will reveal the villain in the upcoming seventh film. I couldn't resist and I spoiled it for myself, but trust me when I say that it's pretty bad-ass.
Well, needless to say I'm pretty geared up for the release of Fast & Furious 6 and I can't wait to witness some massive amounts of vehicular destruction and chaos. I can't imagine any fan of action films not wanting to check this out. It should be a ton of fun.
The Hangover Part 3
This time, there's no wedding. No bachelor party. What could go wrong, right? But when the Wolfpack hits the road, all bets are off.
The bottom line is that the only reason this film was made is money. The first two Hangover films were a smash at the box office grossing $1 billion combined worldwide, so naturally the studio was going to do a third one. Personally I have zero interest in this film.
I enjoyed the first Hangover for what it was and was fairly entertained by the raunchy nature of it. The second film is essentially a rehash of the first, just set in a different country so it's pretty much a waste of time. This third go around has added a kidnapping element involving a drug lord-type played by John Goodman to try and spice things up a bit and maybe even make it a bit darker in tone. I doubt it will work because, quite frankly, when people go to comedies they just want to laugh. This film doesn't particularly look all that funny. It just appears like more of the same loud and obnoxious chaos that I usually find annoying. Of course comedy is totally subjective though so there may be a slew of people that can't wait to see this latest installment in the popular franchise.
The whole cast returns (clearly for a paycheck) again including Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, Zach Galifianakis, Justin Bartha, Heather Graham and the ever annoying Ken Jeong.
The Hangover Part 3 already has a built in audience. Anyone who enjoyed the first two will likely be lining up for more of the same again. It opens tonight already for those who are interested. I really do hope it's the last one though.
A teenager finds herself transported to a deep forest setting where a battle between the forces of good and evil is taking place. She bands together with a rag-tag group of characters in order to save their world - and ours.
This 3D computer animated fantasy-adventure is brought to us from the producers of Rio and the director of Ice Age and Robots. It is based on a children's book by William Joyce called The Leaf Men and the Brave Good Bugs.
It's fairly apparent that Epic has a strong underlying environmental message in its story so in that regard it seems reminiscent of films such as Fern Gully: The Last Rainforest and Avatar. That's not such a bad thing though since it's a good message for children to be exposed to. Epic looks like it will be a suitably rousing and visually stimulating adventure for people of all ages to enjoy.
The all-star voice cast includes the talents of Amanda Seyfried, Josh Hutcherson, Colin Farrell, Christoph Waltz, Beyoncé, Aziz Ansari, Chris O'Dowd, Pitbull, Jason Sudeikis and Steven Tyler.
Epic should be the perfect movie for parents to take their children to this weekend while the adults are checking out Fast & Furious 6 and The Hangover Part 3.
Have a great weekend everyone, see you at the movies.
May 21, 2013 / 11:00 am
New out on DVD/Blu-ray for Tuesday May 21.
This provocative new thriller is about Emily and Martin (Rooney Mara and Channing Tatum), a successful New York couple whose world unravels when a new drug prescribed by Emily's psychiatrist (Jude Law) - intended to treat anxiety - has unexpected side effects.
With Side Effects, director Steven Soderbergh (Traffic, Erin Brockovich, Ocean's 11) has made a methodically paced and compelling psychological thriller that plays out somewhat like a film noir, albeit one with some social commentary about the state of mental health in America and the dependence on pharmaceuticals thrown in for good measure. Rather than getting too preachy about the subject matter, however, Soderbergh chose to make a twist filled mystery that actually delves into sleazy b-movie territory at one point, and that's a good thing. Side Effects is definitely not predictable and the film goes in some very intriguing directions.
Featuring stellar performances from Rooney Mara, Jude Law and Catherine Zeta-Jones, Side Effects is an intelligently written mystery thriller that is sure to keep you guessing throughout how the whole thing will play out and who the main antagonist is.
It's been reported that this may be Soderbergh's last film and if that is true then at least he is going out on a fairly high note.
Seek out Side Effects.
The Last Stand
Sheriff Owens (Arnold Schwarzenegger) is a man who has resigned himself to a life of fighting what little crime takes place in sleepy border town Sommerton Junction after leaving his LAPD post following a bungled operation that left him badly injured and most of his team members dead. After a spectacular escape from an FBI prisoner convoy, the most notorious, wanted drug kingpin in the hemisphere is hurtling towards the border at 200 mph in a specially outfitted car with a hostage and a fierce army of gang members. He is headed, it turns out, straight for Sommerton Junction, where the whole of U.S. law enforcement will have their last opportunity to make a stand and intercept him before he slips across the border forever. At first reluctant to become involved, and then counted out because of the perceived ineptitude of his small town force, Owens ultimately accepts responsibility for the face off.
After a decade long hiatus from the movie industry, Arnie returns to doing what he does best - kicking butt. Featuring plenty of bloody shootouts, car chases and high octane action sequences, The Last Stand is the proper vehicle to showcase what the Governator is capable of. He's an action star pure and simple and even at his advanced age he still reminds us what made his movies so much fun to watch in the 80s and 90s. He has a certain charm and charisma with his broken English accent, and even though he is a little bit more subdued in this film, he still gets to crack off a few of his signature one-liners, many of them having to do with the fact that he is old.
Korean director Kim Jee-Woon (I Saw the Devil, The Good, The Bad, The Weird) has basically made a modern day version of Rio Bravo mixed with elements of High Noon. It has a bit of a western feel to it, albeit one with automatic weapons and a lot more stunts and carnage.
The Last Stand is all about fun, popcorn entertainment though and in that regard it succeeds quite well. If you are in the mood for some really good action and thrills then check out Arnold's latest. It's pretty good!
A supernatural love story set in the South, Beautiful Creatures tells the tale of two star-crossed lovers: Ethan (Alden Ehrenreich), a young man longing to escape his small town, and Lena (Alice Englert), a mysterious new girl. Together, they uncover dark secrets about their respective families, their history and their town.
Thanks to the enormous success of that darn Twilight franchise (blech!), we are going to be inundated with a whole slew of these paranormal teen romance movies for quite some time. This particular teenage love story shrouded in supernatural hokum is based on the novel by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl.
The filmmakers have included a strong cast of supporting stars such as Jeremy Irons, Emma Thompson, Viola Davis and Emmy Rossum in order to lend some dramatic weight to the film, but sadly it fails miserably.
Beautiful Creatures is just a mess of a film. It's too long and draggy and I never felt the slightest bit of investment in any of the characters or the situations that they get themselves into. I just didn't care about anything happening in this movie.
Beautiful Creatures is totally lame and uninspiring. Don't bother!
A thief with a unique code of professional ethics is double-crossed by his crew and left for dead. Assuming a new disguise and forming an unlikely alliance with a woman on the inside, he looks to hijack the score of the crew's latest heist.
Parker once again finds star Jason Statham in his comfort zone doing what he does best, being the action hero. Even though I like Statham and think that he is well suited for these types of roles, I found Parker to be a pretty generic and standard formula picture. It wasn't really that bad, but there was nothing overly special or memorable about it either.
Parker also stars Jennifer Lopez, Michael Chiklis and Nick Nolte and it is directed by longtime filmmaker Taylor Hackford (An Officer and a Gentleman, The Devil's Advocate, Ray).
If you are a big Jason Statham fan then you might want to check this out, otherwise you'd be better off with The Last Stand if you are in the mood for fun action.
Stand Up Guys
Val (Al Pacino) is released from prison after serving twenty-eight years for refusing to give up one of his close criminal associates. His best friend Doc (Christopher Walken) is there to pick him up, and the two soon re-team with another old pal, Hirsch (Alan Arkin). Their bond is as strong as ever, and the three reflect on freedom lost and gained, loyalties ebbed and flowed, and days of glory gone by. But one of the friends is keeping a dangerous secret - he's been put in an impossible quandary by a former mob boss, and his time to find an acceptable alternative is running out. As the sun rises on the guys' legendary reunion, their position becomes more and more desperate and they finally confront their past once and for all.
You'd think with the presence of Pacino, Walken and Arkin that you would get a pretty decent and entertaining film. Well, where Stand Up Guys is concerned you'd be wrong. This flaccid and lame comedy drama just meanders along full of tired geriatric jokes involving viagra and how things were better in the good old days. Everything about it just seemed forced and contrived.
This movie is a real waste of the fine talents of Al Pacino, Christopher Walken and Alan Arkin. It must have been a paycheck for them.
Stand Up Guys just plain sucked!
Also out this week is the highly acclaimed documentary directed by Sarah Polley called Stories We Tell, the PBS nature documentary, Cuba: The Accidental Eden, and the stand up comedy special, Jim Jefferies: Fully Functional.
New out on DVD/Blu-ray is brought to you by Leo's Videos, 2680 Pandosy St. (250) 861-8437
May 17, 2013 / 4:00 pm
I find myself faced with a bit of a conundrum. In order to fully describe the new movie Star Trek Into Darkness and truly give my detailed thoughts about it, I would need to reveal massive amounts of spoilers. Now there's likely only 5% of the intended audience that doesn't already know the film's big twist, but for those few out there that want to go into this cold, I certainly don't want to be the jerk that ruins it for them. So with that being said I'm going to provide you with some spoiler free ramblings about the latest adventure of Captain Kirk and crew.
First off, let me just say that Star Trek Into Darkness was an absolute blast to watch. Chock-full of action, adventure and wonderful science fiction escapism, it's the perfect piece of summer popcorn entertainment. This film should appeal to fans both young and old alike, whether you are a Trekkie or not. And a note to some of the more fervent and nit picky Trek fans; please check your preconceived expectations and ego at the door and realize that J.J. Abrams is playing around a bit with the canon of the original series, and that's ok. He has set out to make his own version of a thrilling space adventure involving beloved characters and there is no rule that states he needs to adhere to a strict set of guidelines in doing so. I personally love his version of Star Trek and I can't wait to see many more adventures in the future from him, providing he has time after signing on to tackle the Star Wars franchise.
The new film kicks off with a bang as we see Captain Kirk (Chris Pine) and Bones (Karl Urban) being chased through a forest by the strange looking natives of a primitive planet called Nibiru. The Enterprise has been sent there on a mapping expedition as well as to defuse an active volcano that could destroy the civilization. When Spock (Zachary Quinto) risks his life to save the planet, Kirk violates the Prime Directive (Starfleet's guiding principle that dictates that there can be no interference with the internal development of alien civilizations, nor any exposure of advanced technology to primitive cultures) by exposing the Enterprise in order to save Spock. After being called back to Earth, Kirk is demoted to first officer and Admiral Christopher Pike (Bruce Greenwood) re-assumes command of the Enterprise.
An emergency meeting is assembled at Starfleet Command after a terrorist attack on an archival station in London, perpetrated by a former Starfleet agent named John Harrison (Benedict Cumberbatch). After the meeting is ambushed by Harrison resulting in multiple casualties, Kirk is tasked with a special mission from Admiral Alexander Marcus (Peter Weller) to hunt down and kill Harrison with the use of 72 photon torpedoes. They track him to the Klingon planet of Kronos whereupon a landing crew consisting of Kirk, Spock and Uhura (Zoë Saldana) end up in an action-packed battle with the Klingons until Harrison essentially saves them and wipes out the Klingons. Upon learning the exact number of torpedoes that the Enterprise has, Harrison decides to surrender peacefully and is taken captive aboard the Enterprise. And this is the point where I can't tell you anymore about what happens because it would ruin the thrill of discovery. And trust me when I say that the really good stuff occurs from this point on in the story and I was totally engrossed in every thrilling minute of it.
Once again the cast does a tremendous job portraying these iconic characters. While the heart of the film is the ever growing friendship and mutual respect developing between Kirk and Spock, the other characters get plenty of wonderful moments to shine throughout the film. I loved Karl Urban's take on Dr. Leonard "Bones" McCoy. He exhibits the requisite amount of cantankerous surliness that truly captures the essence of DeForest Kelley's original series role. Simon Pegg is great as Scotty. His character gets a really fun arch in this film and he once again provides us with much needed levity throughout. Sulu (John Cho) and Chekov (Anton Yelchin) get their little moments to shine as well, even if they are relegated to secondary status.
The real revelation to me though was Benedict Cumberbatch as the villainous John Harrison. He simply commands every moment that he is on screen with his deep, resonant voice and ominous presence. He is easily one of the most compelling villains in Star Trek history and his performance is incredible. If I were to choose one actor from this film who deserves an Oscar nomination, it would easily be Cumberbatch.
J.J. Abrams once again nails it. He's created a visually spectacular, fast-paced, thrilling space adventure full of action, humour and plenty of peril for our beloved characters to face. The consequences are steep in this one and the film actually has some weight to it. He also includes some nice homages to the original series for the hardcore fans who are really paying attention. I can't imagine anyone who liked his 2009 film not enjoying the heck out of this. I think I may have even enjoyed this one slightly more.
Star Trek Into Darkness is a rousing, slam-bang piece of sci-fi entertainment that is sure to be an enormous blockbuster, ensuring that audiences will continue to be treated to more adventures of the Starship Enterprise for many years to come. I look forward to it.
What are you waiting for? Go see Star Trek Into Darkness!
I give Star Trek Into Darkness a 9.5 out of 10.
May 16, 2013 / 4:00 pm
Greetings movie lovers, it's time to take a look at what the cinema has to offer us this weekend.
Star Trek Into Darkness
When the crew of the U.S.S. Enterprise is called back home, they find an unstoppable force of terror from within their own organization has detonated the fleet and everything it stands for, leaving our world in a state of crisis. With a personal score to settle, Captain Kirk leads a manhunt to a war-zone world to capture a one man weapon of mass destruction. As our heroes are propelled into an epic chess game of life and death, love will be challenged, friendships will be torn apart, and sacrifices must be made for the only family Kirk has left: his crew.
While I wouldn't quite go as far as to say that I am a Trekkie, I am definitely a big fan of Star Trek, specifically the original series from the 60s. I love the characters from that era such as Spock, Kirk and Bones, so I was really happy when director J.J. Abrams decided to go back to these iconic characters for his reboot of the franchise in 2009. The last time we had seen the original cast all together was in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country back in 1991. After that film the studios decided to start making Trek movies featuring the cast of Star Trek: The Next Generation, a show that I never really got into for whatever reason. I still went to see the big screen adaptations with these characters but I just wasn't as invested in them and kept wishing that we could see the old gang again. When the tenth film in the series, Star Trek: Nemesis, was released in 2002 to both critical and commercial failure, many thought that this was a dying franchise.
Thankfully J.J. Abrams gave this series the shot in the arm that it needed to please the old fans as well as introduce a new generation of fans to these great characters. His version of Star Trek was the perfect summer popcorn film filled with incredible action, adventure and excitement, not to mention loads of humour and nods to the original series that made many fans smile in delight. I know some of the older generation of fans bemoaned the fact that he toyed with the canon of the series, but I thought that it was clever of him to set the film in an alternate timeline so that he could free the franchise from established continuity constraints while simultaneously preserving certain original story elements.
They also did a bang up job casting this film. The standouts to me were definitely Zachary Quinto as Spock and Karl Urban as Bones. Those two in particular really nailed their characters and you can tell that they clearly studied the mannerisms of Leonard Nimoy and DeForest Kelley. For the benefit of anyone that is less than familiar with the principal characters in Star Trek, here is a roll call for you to get to know them better.
Chris Pine - Captain James T. Kirk - Commanding officer and captain of the starship Enterprise, he's brash, cocky and a hit with the ladies, but also possesses the qualities that make him an exceptional leader.
Zachary Quinto - Spock - The Enterprise's half-Vulcan, half-human commanding science officer, Spock displays little to no emotional response to anything, instead deeming a given situation as either logical or illogical. He essentially serves as Kirk's right hand man and most important ally.
Karl Urban - Dr. Leonard "Bones" McCoy - The Enterprise's chief medical officer, Bones is an intelligent but surly individual who won't ever shy away from a good bout of verbal sparring, especially with Spock.
Zoë Saldana - Lieutenant Uhura - The ship's primary communications officer, the beautiful and brilliant Uhura has a knack for foreign languages and an eye for a certain Vulcan (if you know what I mean).
Simon Pegg - Lieutenant Commander Montgomery "Scotty" Scott - The chief engineer and second officer of the Enterprise, Scotty treats the ship like it's his baby and he knows every square inch of her. If anything needs fixing then he is your man.
John Cho - Lieutenant Sulu - Third officer and helmsman of the Enterprise, it's usually up to him to maneuver the ship out of dangerous situations. In addition to being a skilled pilot, he also has a penchant for fencing.
Anton Yelchin - Ensign Pavel Chekov - The ship's navigator and weapons officer, Chekov's thick Russian accent often creates humourous miscommunication issues.
Bruce Greenwood - Rear Admiral Christopher Pike - The original captain of the Enterprise who relinquished his position to Kirk after getting seriously injured by a Romulan attack.
New characters being introduced in Star Trek Into Darkness include:
Benedict Cumberbatch - Commander John Harrison - The villain of the film. Do yourself a favour and don't read any spoilers about this character.
Alice Eve - Dr. Carol Marcus - A scientist who joins the crew this time around.
Peter Weller - Starfleet Admiral Alexander Marcus - Dr. Carol Marcus' father.
Star Trek Into Darkness is easily one of the most anticipated films of the summer and definitely one that I have been looking forward to for the past four years now. The advanced buzz has been tremendous so far and it appears that J.J. Abrams has hit this one out of the park once again. Trek fans and science fiction fans in general are surely going to want to check this one out when it opens tonight. I have no doubt that it's going to be a rousing, rip-roaring fun time at the movies. Get your popcorn ready!
Have a wonderful long weekend everyone, see you at the movies.
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