VIDEO: MOVIES: CARTOONS: REVIEW: Superman: Unbound (2013)

Claire: 4.4/5 stars, 8.6/10.
Carolyn: 4.6/5 stars, 8.6/10.
Native ratings: 3.7/5 stars Netflix, 6.4/10 IMDB.

This one was still good, but it didn’t seem as good as the last movies. This wasn’t Bruce Timm’s work.

But it’s still pretty damn good, because we love us some superhero cartoons! Especially ones not made for TV.

That being said… How many times do we have to watch Superman fight off Braniac? It seems to have happened like 5 times now. I’m getting a bit tired of it.

This was still pretty solid, though.

Directed by James Tucker (5 eps of Batman Beyond, 5 eps of Static Shock, 4 eps of Legion Of Super Heroes).
Written by Bob Goodman (Batman: The Dark Knight Returns 1&2, 51 eps of Batman Beyond, 51 eps of Superman, 2 eps of The Batman, 4 eps of Justice League, 8 eps of The Zeta Project)

Matt Bomer (In Time) as Superman / Clark Kent.
Stana Katic (3 eps of 24, 2 eps of Heroes) as Lois Lane.
John Noble (The Dragon Spirit in The Last Airbender movie, 100 eps of Fringe, 3 eps of Transformers Prime, 3 eps of 24) as Brainiac.
Molly C. Quinn (105 eps of Castle, Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story) as Supergirl / Kara Zor-El.
Diedrich Bader (Batman in Batman: The Brave And The Bold, Guy Gardner in The Green Lantern-TAS, Kraven The Hunter in Ultimate Spider-Man, 2 eps of Gravity Falls, 3 eps of King Of The Hill) as Steve Lombard.
Jason Beghe (X-Men: First Class, Thelma & Louise, Maid To Order) as Terrorist Leader.
Frances Conroy (the mom from Six Feet Under, The Wicker Man remake) as Ma Kent.
Melissa Disney (Blade in Batman Beyond) as Thara.
Alexander Gould (Shane Botwin from Weeds, 1 ep of The Life & Times Of Tim) as Jimmy Olsen.
Sirena Irwin (Persephone in Striperella, 3 eps of Adventure Time, 80 eps of Spongebob Squarepants, 3 eps of Batman: The Brave And The Bold) as Alura.
Andrea Romano (voice actress casting director) as News Anchor #2 / Superman‘s Ship.
Stephen Root (Bill Dauterive in King Of The Hill, Office Space, NewsRadio, Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story, The Men Who Stare At Goats, Penguin in Batman: The Brave And The Bold, 4 eps of Gravity Falls, 2 eps of The Legend Of Korra, 1 ep of the new Thundercats) as Zor-El.
Wade Williams (Harvey Dent in Batman: The Dark Knight Returns – Part 1, Black Mask in Batman: Under The Red Hood, The Dark Knight Rises) as Perry White.
Michael-Leon Wooley (Twayne Boneraper in Ugly Americans, 2 eps of Batman: The Brave And The Bold, 1 ep of Delocated) as Ron Troupe.

LINK URL: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2617456/combined

VIDEO: MOVIES: REVIEW: Vampires Anonymous (2003)

Claire: 2.8/5 stars, 5.8/10.
Carolyn: 2.6/5 stars, 5.6/10.
Native ratings: 2.8/5 stars Netflix, 5.1/10 IMDB.

A vampire joins a 12-step program to stop drinking human blood (and use animal blood instead). Good premise…though tainted by the Twilight stigma.

Anyway, this was pretty generic. The one thing it had going for it was that it was a comedy. However, it was only OK, and not that good.
It was somewhat funny, but not that much.
The romance angle of the romantic comedy grew to overtake the comedy, like with most romantic comedies. That’s bad.
But not quite as much as the average rom-com; That’s good.
It wasn’t even widescreen, it was fullscreen!
Lots of booms! The most booms I’ve ever seen in a movie. Also the furthest into the screen I’ve ever seen a boom go in any movie.
Some bad editing.
Bad filmstock.
Sometimes unbelievable plot — even for a movie about vampires.
Still…. It did have laughs. A vampire-loving comedy-completist might want to check this out.

Directed by Michael Keller (he directed some 4 “Expert Insight” things, whatever those are…), written by J.P. Srinivasan (the only thing he’s written) and Michael Keller.

Paul Popowich (1 ep of Dark Angel) as Vic Weller.
Michael Madsen (Mr. Blonde in Reservoir Dogs, Scary Movie 4, Kill Bill: Vol 1, Not Another Not Another Movie, 4 eps of 24, 1 ep of Bob’s Burgers) as Geno.
Nicole Forester (298 eps of Guiding Light, Jack Reacher (action movie like Parker that we haven’t seen)) as Maggie Miller, the love interest.
Judith Scott (1 ep of Frasier, 1 ep of 24) as Christine, the VA moderator.
Carolyn Lawrence (Orel in Moral Orel, Spongebob Squarepants, Resident Evil, 1 ep of Caroline In The City) as Penelope. She must have been the blonde chick from the VA group.
Michelle Stafford (1468 eps of The Young & Restless, and she plays *THAT SAME CHARACTER* from Young & Restless in the movie Parker [WTF]) as Taffeta Munro, the vampire slayer.
John Boyd West (21 Grams) as Jimmy.

So yes. There are 2 women in this movie who were in hundreds of episodes of soaps, and then one 2013 action movie each: Parker and Jack Reacher. What The Fuck.

Another, personal coincidence: The night we watched this movie, Carolyn was reading her book (Discworld#24: The Fifth Elephant) and there was a reformed Vampire who talked about how she was addicted to blood and how she only drank animal blood now. Hmm, from the imdb message boards: “I haven’t seen the film but it sounds exactly like the vampire in Terry Pratchett‘s Discworld novel ‘The Truth’.” Carolyn hasn’t read that one yet. Oh, that is #25, so that will be the next one she reads. Go figure. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0197996/board/flat/4225539

LINK URL: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0197996/combined

VIDEO: MOVIES: REVIEW: Upstream Color (2013)

Clio: 1.4/5 stars, 3.6/10.
Carolyn: 1.6/5 stars, 4/10.
Native ratings: 3.4/5 stars Netflix, 6.8/10 IMDB.

Written, directed, and starring Shane Carruth, the brilliant director of Primer. And that’s why we watched this.

And damn, what a shock. Primer may be the most confusing time-travel movie of all time, but this movie is way less coherent, and way more confusing!

I sum it up as: “That movie was awful and I have no idea what it was really about.” Carolyn agrees.

Basically, this movie jumps between 4 different substories a LOT. It’s similar to Cloud Atlas in that style, except lacking the coherence of Cloud Atlas (which continually jumped between 6 different stories in 6 different time periods).

It’s actually somewhat skillfully crafted. This image illustrates the concepts in this movie, and how the scenes fed into each other. And in retrospect, it all makes sense: http://www.flickr.com/photos/30585110@N04/8700138325/in/photostream/

…But when it’s so obtuse that the two of us couldn’t even piece that together… That makes it less enjoyable. Carolyn pieced together maybe 25% of it, but Clio pieced together close to 0% of it.

It helps if you are aware of worm charming (wiki that). I wasn’t.

Carolyn’s thoughts:

This movie was pretty bad. It did not compare to Primer. It started out interesting enough, but it got confusing pretty quick. Halfway through, we almost aborted, but then it seemed to get more interesting (with the shared memories between the two characters.) So we kept going, and then it STILL didn’t get good. Eventually, we put it at 1.5X, then 2.0X speed, and we didn’t feel like we missed much by speeding through the ending. IT WAS STILL SLOW, even at double-speed. Unsatisfyingly slow. It just left me unsatisfied.

Clio sent me this this morning: http://briansfinas.com/review-of-shane-carruths-upstream-color/ That review says I’m too dumb to enjoy this movie. Thanks, reviewer, that makes me feel wonderful. Anyway, based on those 2 paragraphs of summary of what happened, I had gotten all that, but there are pieces in between that are still missing.

It didn’t make any sense to me how they were able to find the pig guy so they can free the pigs. (This review says they were able to track him down because they were listening to his music…. That still doesn’t make sense to me.) I mean, it didn’t make any sense how she even went to the pig guy to have the worm extracted in the first place… it was just so confusing, drawn out… there were interesting moments (such as the shared childhood memories), but nothing really solid that this movie could stand on.

Also, I guess you don’t need real actors when there is hardly any dialogue.

Written & directed by Shane Carruth (Primer)

Starring Amy Seimetz (she’s in a lot of stuff, but we’ve only seen Wristcutters: A Love Story) as Kris.
Shane Carruth (the writer & director, and Aaron in Primer) as Jeff.
Andrew Sensenig (also in a bunch of stuff we haven’t seen) as The Sampler.
Thiago Martins (some nobody who has only been in 2 movies (including this one) and 1 ep of a TV show) as Thief.
Kathy Carruth (a caterer for the movie Primer, and other than that, this and Primer are her only movies. And she did craft service in this movie) as Orchid Mother.
Meredith Burke (she’s a co-producer in 3 movies, and this is her only acting gig) as Orchid Daughter.
Andreon Watson (absolutely nothing except for this movie) as Peter.

LINK URL: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2084989/combined

VIDEO: MOVIES: REVIEW: The Host (2013)

Clio: 4.6/5 stars, 8.6/10.
Carolyn: 5/5 stars, 9/10.
Jesse: 3.4/5 stars, 7/10.
Evan: 4.1/5 stars, 8/10.
Native ratings: 3.7/5 stars Netflix, /10 IMDB.

Written & directed by Andrew Niccol, which had me hyped up to see the movie! We’ve seen every movie he’s directed (Gattaca, Lord Of War, In Time, S1m0ne), and also half the movies he wrote-but-didn’t-direct (The Truman Show, but not The Terminal). It is all excellent stuff, though we enjoyed some (In Time) more than others (Lord Of War, S1m0ne).

This movie, strangely, is based on a novel by Stephenie Meyer, the woman who wrote the Twilight Trilogy. Really?? This knowledge alone causes a lot of people to hate on the movie without watching it. Such sheep behavior is sad to witness.

This is Twilight-esque in the sense that teen romance is inserted into a genre that it is not normally so prevalent in. Is that a crime? Is mixing genres a crime? Should an action movie have no comedy? Should a comedy movie have no romance? Should a horror movie have no comedy?

So yes, this is a sci-fi movie about parasitic symbiotes taking over the planet by taking our bodies from us, but it is focused more on a few specific characters, and the love story that ties them together. There are no explosions or big gun fights. It’s about a race taking over humans and controlling them. They aim to live along with us and bring us further than we would get left to our own devices, but they also basically genocide us by killing our consciousnesses and replacing them with their own.

But some of us resist. The alien parasite hears the voice of the original human in their mind. It’s rare. And that is the case here.

Apparently a lot of people just reduce that to “watching a girl talk to herself”, which is a sad reducto absurdum applied to an idea that is actually far more interesting than that. I think it requires a litte bit of empathy that some people don’t have. I don’t find it a valid complaint.

There is REALLY a lot of hate here. The anti-Stephanie Meyer bandwagon is kind of pathetic. It’s like they are scared that someone might like something she’s involved in, because it would invalidate their own opinions — which are often themselves based on groupthink and expressed by people who have never seen one of her movies or read one of her books.

Fuck those guys. This was a great sci-fi, and had an unexpectedly interesting emotional/relationship angle, that most sci-fi movies don’t have. Good for Andrew Niccol — keeping his track record intact. Good for Stephanie Meyer — improving her track record, which needs it.

Evan: “I really liked the concepts and the story was good, but I’m going to have to knock it down a bit for the cheesy teen-movie moments.”

Saoirse Ronan (Hanna from Hanna, the voice of Arriety in The Secret World of Arrietty) as Melanie Stryder / Wanda.
Diane Kruger (Adult Anna in Mr. Nobody, Inglourious Basterds, National Treasure, Helen in Troy) as The Seeker / Lacey.
Chandler Canterbury (Repo Men, Benjamin as age 8 in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button) as Jamie, Melanie’s little brother.
Jake Abel (Luke in Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief) as Ian O’Shea, [highlight for spoilers] Wanda’s love interest.
Max Irons (Dorian Gray, 9 eps of The White Queen) as Jared Howem, Melanie’s boyfriend.
William Hurt (The Village, The Incredible Hulk, Dark City) as Jeb, Melanie’s uncle.
Frances Fisher (Sex & Death 101, 1 ep of Childrens Hospital) as Maggie, Melanie’s aunt.
Scott Lawrence (The Social Network, Avatar, Cloverfield, Star Trek Into Darkness, 2 eps of 24, Darth Vader in a bunch of Star Wars video games) as Doc.
Rachel Roberts (Simone in S1m0ne, In Time) as Soul Fleur.
Marcus Lyle Brown (Snatched) as Healer Fords.
J.D. Evermore (Django Unchained) as Trevor Stryder.

LINK URL: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1517260/combined

VIDEO: MOVIES: REVIEW: Parker (2013)

Clio: 3/5 stars, 6/10.
Carolyn: 3/5 stars, 6/10.
Native ratings: 3.5/5 stars Netflix, 6.1/10 IMDB.

Generic Jason Statham movie.  It was OK, but not as good as Crank or The Transporter.  It was about the action, not the story, and the action wasn’t *that* special.

Directed by Taylor Hackford (The Devil’s Advocate).
Written by John J. McLaughlin (writer of Black Swan, 3 eps of Carnivale).

Based on a novel by Donald E. Westlake. The 6th movie to be based on the same character, but only the first one to actually call him Parker! He was actually “Porter” in Payback!

Starring Jason Statham (Crank, Transporter, The Expendables, Death Race, Snatch, Lock, Stock And Two Smoking Barrels) as Parker.
Jennifer Lopez as Leslie Rodgers.

Michael Chiklis (Ben Grimm in the Fantastic Four movies, 4 eps of Family Guy, voice in the English version of Spirited Away, 1 ep of Roughnecks: The Starship Troopers Chronicles) as Melander.
Wendell Pierce (The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 2, 1 ep of Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!, 2 eps of God, the Devil and Bob) as Carlson.
Clifton Collins Jr. (we *just* saw him in The FP the previous night, Rules Of Attraction, Crank 2, Star Trek (2009), Traffic, Scott Pilgrim Vs The World) as Ross.
Bobby Cannavale (Fake Superman in Movie 43, The Ten, Snakes On A Plane, 3 eps of Six Feet Under, ) as Jake Fernandez.
Patti LuPone (Mrs. Lovett in Sweeney Todd, Heist, 7 eps of Oz) as Ascension.
Nick Nolte (Tropic Thunder, Hotel Rwanda, 48 Hours) as Hurley.
Daniel Bernhardt (Agent Johnson in The Matrix 2: The Matrix Reloaded) as Kroll.
Jon Eyez (Django Unchained) as Jack.

LINK URL: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1904996/combined

VIDEO: MOVIES: REVIEW: 21 & Over (2013)

Clio: 3.4/5 stars, 7/10.
Carolyn: 2.6/5 stars, 7/10.
Native ratings: 3.5/5 stars Netflix, /10 IMDB.

Written & directed by Jon Lucas & Scott Moore (The Hangover movies, The Change-Up). Oh yay! Party movie!

But wait! This is the least funny movie these guys have ever done. It was OK, but it could have been funnier, and there could have been more to it. It just kind of fell a little bit flat.

It was definitely not as good as The Hangover movies… The Change-Up was also way better than this one.

This still had laughs, memorable characters, and memorable moments. Plenty of ridiculousness. And it’s not that the genre’s dead, or that we’re sick of it. I love this kind of movie. But some are better than others. This one was unfortunately more in the league of National Lampoon than American Pie. Everything was a bit more contrived and forced and less satisfying.

I still liked it… But coming in from “OMG MOVIE BY THE HANGOVER PEOPLE”-level expectations is a recipe for disappointment.

Starring Miles Teller (we haven’t seen the other 13 things he’s been in) as Miller, the party-hard one.
Skylar Astin (Roy from Wreck-It Ralph) as Casey, the responsible one.
Justin Chon (Eric in the Twilight movies, Puff Puff Pass) as Jeff Chang, the stressed-out Asian.
Sarah Wright (The House Bunny) as Nicole, the love interest.
Jonathan Keltz (American Pie presents Beta House) as Randy, the douchebag boyfriend.
Francois Chau (Lethal Weapon 4, Quick Kick in G.I. Joe, Shredder in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2: The Secret of the Ooze) as Dr. Chang, Jeff Chang’s father.
The chicks that made out with each other? One was in In Time, and one was in 17 Again. So weird.

LINK URL: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1711425/combined

VIDEO: MOVIES: REVIEW: The Incredible Burt Wonderstone (2013)

Clio: 2.8/5 stars, 5.8/10.
Carolyn: 2.6/5 stars, 5/10.
Native ratings: 3.2/5 stars Netflix, 5.9/10 IMDB.

Man. This movie had such potential. The main cast is Steve Carell, Steve Buscemi, Jim Carrey, Olivia Wilde, and (less so) James Gandolfini (Sopranos!) and Alan Arkin (The Change-Up, Argo, Gattaca, Grosse Pointe Blank, The Last Unicorn, Edward Scissorhands).

These are all great actors.

The premise was suspicious — rival magicians? Well, it’s just ridiculous enough that it could work! They make fun of Criss Angel, and do make a valid point that these new “magicians” aren’t doing tricks… They are doing stunts, and that’s not “magic”.

It’s directed by the 30 Rock director. People say that’s funny, right?  Well at this point, I’m less likely to watch 30 Rock than ever… Because this movie FELL FLAT. Let’s look at who wrote it… A guy involved in Shit My Dad Says (the show). If I’d known that… I’d probably have steered clear of this movie. The other writer was Mitch from the movie Waiting, but yea… These guys don’t write funny things I’ve heard of.

So yes. Magic-partner buddy bromance with a side of romance, and a side of friendship. Many ingredients that could have worked together well, but ultimately did not.

 

This movie is hollow and fell flat. It wasn’t bad. It just wasn’t that good.

There were definitely laughs, and a scene or two I’ll never forget in my entire life. But I don’t know if it was worth our time. Perhaps we would have enjoyed it better if we had seen The Prestige.

LINK URL: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0790628/combined