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: Spring Breakers (2012)

Clio: 3.4/5 stars, 7.6/10.
Carolyn: 3/5 stars, 7/10.
Jesse: 3/5 stars, 7/10.
Native ratings: 3.7/5 stars Netflix, 5.9/10 IMDB.

Written & directed by Harmony Korine (Kids, Gummo, Julien Donkey-Boy), but to tell the truth, this movie is, to me, exactly what it would be like if Harmony Korine directed a Gregg Araki movie — especially something from Araki’s Teen Apocalypse trilogy (Totally Fucked Up, Nowhere, The Doom Generation). The feel of this movie REALLY reminded me of the fatalistic feeling found in Aaraki’s work.

Compared to Korine’s other work, this had wayyyyy more structure than Gummo. Korine has matured, and his movies now actually have specific plots.

Carolyn thought it was somewhat drawn out with the monologues and repeating phrases. “But it seemed right when I would start to get actively annoyed, they would finally move on.” I really disagree with that critique.

Plotwise, It’s worth watching. An interesting plot that captures the feel of Spring Break, but then diverges into a totally different, crime-related angle. And a strange romance — of sorts. “You guys are my soulmates.”

Ultimately, it is entertaining yet artsy at the same time. Which is what I’d expect.

Also: Bonus points My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic appearing on screen TWICE during this movie! The Elements Of Harmony..Korine!

Outlaw Vern’s got a good review of the movie, which is what caused us to watch it: http://www.outlawvern.com/2013/03/26/spring-breakers/

Starring:
A barely-recognizable James Franco (127 Hours, Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes, Oz in Oz The Great And Powerful, Date Night, Pineapple Express, Harry Osborn in the Spider-Man movies) as Alien.
Selena Gomez (Justin Bieber’s girlfriend, Barney & Friends, Wizards Of Waverly Place) as Faith (the brunette).
Vanessa Hudgens (High School Musical, Sucker Punch) as Candy. I think she’s better as a blonde.
Ashley Benson (13 Going On 30, Days Of Our Lives, 75 Pretty Little Liars, dated Justin Bieber’s “swagger coach”) as Brit (the other blonde).
Rachel Korine (Harmony Korine’s wife) as Cotty (the pink-haired one).
Heather Morris (Glee) as Bess.
Real-life rapper Gucci Mane as Archie, Alien‘s rival.

LINK URL: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2101441/combined

VIDEO: MOVIES: REVIEW: Black Death (2010)

Clio: 2.4/5 stars, 4.6/10.
Carolyn: 2.4/5 stars, 5.6/10.
Jesse: 2.4/5 stars.
Native ratings: 3.4/5 stars Netflix, 6.4/10 IMDB.

This was recommended to me. It held promise, but just wasn’t that special. It was way, way too slow (an hour passed without much happening), relyed too much on mood over substance, and kind of droned on.

Jesse seemed to like it about half-way through, but then by the end he had changed his mind and thought he didn’t like it.

It wasn’t very action-packed, except for a few brief, awesomely visceral fight scenes.

Moreso at the beginning, it reminded me of the Dreamweaver album’s plot, which filled me with naive, inspired promise, but ultimately things didn’t go in the direction I’d hoped.

The movie does have a few neat structural tricks up its sleeve.

But still. I’d rather have my time back. I was (unfortunately) reminded of Valhalla Rising.

Directed by Christopher Smith (who directed and wrote Triangle, which WAS FUCKING AMAZING).
Written by Dario Poloni.

Starring Eddie Redmayne (8 eps of The Pillars Of Earth) as Osmund.
Sean Bean (Game Of Thrones, Boromir in Lord Of The Rings, Zeus in Percy Jackson, Silent Hill, Troy, Mirror Mirror) as Ulrich, the emissary of the bishop.
John Lynch (Shades [the one who dropped acid] from the movie Hardware!!!!!!) as Wolfstan, the older soldier who survived to the end and was also the narrator.
Carice Van Houten (Game Of Thrones, Carol from Repo Men) as Langiva (anagram for vaginal?!), the necromancer.
David Warner (Archmage in Gargoyles, Ra’s Al Ghul in Batman, In The Mouth Of Madness, Lord Downey in Hogfather, Sweeney Todd, Avatar, 9 eps of Men In Black: The Series) as Abbot.
Kimberley Nixon as Averill, the Osmund’s girlfriend.
Emun Elliott (Prometheus) as Swire.
Johnny Harris (Snow White And The Huntsman, Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, Dorian Gray) as Mold.
Andy Nyman (1 ep of Holliston, Death At A Funeral) as Dalywag.

LINK URL: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1181791/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: Imaginaerum (2012)

Clio & Carolyn: 2.8/5 stars, 6.4/10.
Native ratings: 5.7/10 IMDB. Not available on Netflix.

This will be the 2nd time we watch a movie based on a concept album we’ve never listened to, performed by a band we’ve never listened to. The last one was Marillion:Brave, by Richard Stanley, director of the movie Hardware (1990). This one is based on an album by the Finnish metal band, NightWish. We mostly watched it for the visuals, which were pretty cool, but we were not as impressed as we were hoping.

The story was a bit lacking. The sound mix was surprisingly bad (though that is a distribution problem). It was overly-dramatic and kind of full of itself. But of course, it’s a video for an album, and music videos are sorta-kinda SUPPOSED to be like that — all grandiose and shit. So I might be faulting the genre for its own self-definition here. It also got a lot less exciting (and a lot more depressing) near the end. The acting wasn’t the greatest, but this also wasn’t a movie with very much acting in it.

In the end, this was style over substance. Some pretty awesome visuals. Definitely a great movie to watch — not as great to listen to, or think about. But visually, it was an 8/10.

Directed by: Stobe Harju (who directed Nightwish’s “The Islander” music video).
Written by: Stobe Harju & Mikko Rautalahti (Alan Wake video game), and Richard Jackson.
Story written by Tuomas Holopainen (Nightwish songwriter and band member) & Stobe Harju.

Starring Marianne Farley (Undressed, 2001: A Space Travesty, 6 eps of Vampire High) as Gem Whitman.
Quinn Lord (young boy in The Imaginarium Of Doctor Parnassus–is he now typecast to only be in movies with Imaginae?rium in their title?, 2 eps of Smallville) as Tom Whitman – age 10.
Tuomas Holopainen (Nightwish song writer and band member) as Tom Whitman – age 47.
Francis X. McCarthy (BASEketball, 7 eps of Melrose Place, 4 eps of the original 21 Jump Street, Alien Nation, 2 eps of The Greatest American Hero, 1 ep of Smallville, 1 ep of Cheers, 1 ep of ALF, 1 ep of The A-Team, 1 ep of Parker Lewis Can’t Lose) as Tom Whitman – age 70.
Joanna Noyes (Grandma Thora Read in Arthur) as Ann – age 73.
Anette Olzon (Nightwish band member) as Ann.

LINK URL: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1959409/combined

VIDEO: MOVIES: CARTOONS: REVIEW: The Lorax (2012)

Clio: 2.8/5 stars, 5.4/10.
Carolyn: 3/5 stars, 5.6/10.
Native ratings: 4.1/5 stars Netflix, 6.3/10 IMDB.

Based on the Dr. Suess book. Very generic. Too many songs. It’d probably be more enjoyable for a young kid, but didn’t have nearly as much to offer to adults.

Worth it to be able to visually explore a CGI instance of a Seuss-inspired world. For a lot of these Seuss movies, that’s really the sole point: Seeing what it looks like a grander scale.

Worth it, but I’d like more.

Directed by:
Chris Renaud (Despicable Me) and Kyle Balda.
written by: Ken Daurio (Despicable Me, Horton Hears A Who, College Road Trip, The Santa Clause 2).

Starring Danny DeVito (Taxi, Penguin in Batman Returns, Twins, The War Of The Roses, Man On The Moon, Mars Attacks!, It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia) as The Lorax.
Ed Helms (Andy Bernard in The Office, The Hangover movies, 3 eps of Arrested Development, Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story, Harold & Kumar Escape From Guantanamo Bay) as The Once-ler.
Zac Efron (Anakin Skywalker in Robot Chicken: Star Wars Episode III, 17 Again, High School Musical, 1 ep of Firefly) as Ted.
Taylor Swift (the singer) as Audrey.
Betty White as Grammy Norma.
Rob Riggle (P.O.T.N. in NTSF:SD:SUV, 4 eps of American Dad, The Hangover, Step Brothers, Human Giant, Talladega Nights: The Ballad Of Ricky Bobby) as Mr. O’Hare.
Jenny Slate (2 eps of Bob’s Burgers, 1 ep of Ugly Americans, Saturday Night Live) as Ted’s Mom.
Nasim Pedrad (87 eps of Saturday Night Live, The Dictator, 7 eps of Allen Gregory) as Once-ler’s Mom.
Elmarie Wendel (Mrs. Dubcek in 3rd Rock From The Sun, 1 ep of American Dad, 5 eps of General Hospital) as Aunt Grizelda.
Danny Cooksey (5 eps of Invader Zim, Kung Fu Panda, 2 eps of G.I. Joe Renegades, Tiny Toon Adventures, Terminator 2, Static Shock, Dave The Barbarian) as Brett / Chet.
Stephen Tobolowsky (Bob Bishop in Heroes, The Time Traveler’s Wife, Boxboarders!, Buried) as Uncle Ubb.
Chris Renaud (he’s the director of The Lorax, Despicable Me) as Forest Animals.

 

Christie: Agreed. Liked it, but too many songs.

 

LINK URL: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1482459/combined

VIDEO: MOVIES: REVIEW: TerrorVision (1986)

Clio: 2.6/5 stars, 5.4/10.
Carolyn: 2.0/5 stars, 4/10.
Native ratings: 5.2/10 IMDB. Not available on Netflix. Ha!

Another cheezy movie to watch while Carolyn is ill.

Sooooo 1980’s!

And the fact that this is a family, but that the parents are swingers? That really added to the hilarity, and was arguably what caused this to be worthwhile.

The whole sex-positive vibe of the movie was incongruent with the profanity-negative vibe. They went out of the way to say “what the hey” and other such ridiculousness (rather than cursing)… But they have Nagel’esque bondage threesome art and other topless art all over their walls?

So refreshing to see sex portrayed as less harmful than cursing or violence.

Also, the actors all seem to be from other things I’ve seen. And yet I only recognized about 3 of them.

Overall this was a campy piece of 1980s cheeziness. Something I would have probably loved as a kid, but can only barely stand as an adult, and only as something to ridicule.

There was definitely redeeming value, though. I can see why so many people recommend this movie. It was over-the-top 80’s-horror cliche to the max. Dude.

Written & Directed by: Ted Nicolaou (involved in a lot of cheesy horror movies, it seems like)

Starring Chad Allen (147 eps of Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman, 21 eps of My Two Dads, 5 eps of General Hospital: Night Shift) as the brother, main character Sherman Putterman.
Diane Franklin (Better Off Dead, Bill & Ted‘s Excellent Adventure, How I Got Into College, The Adventures Of Lass 1-3) the punk-rock daughter/sister, Suzy Putterman.
Gerrit Graham (guardian in Gargoyles, Franklin Sherman in The Critic, 6 eps of Parker Lewis Can’t Lose, 22 eps of Now And Again) as the dad, Stanley Putterman.
Mary Woronov (The Devil’s Rejects, The Living End, Rock N Roll High School) as the mom, Raquel Putterman.
Jon Gries (Uncle Rico in Napoleon Dynamite, Lazlo in Real Genius, Unicorn City, 2 eps of Carnivale) the metal-head boyfriend, O.D.
Bert Remsen (Dick Tracy, 4 eps of Dynasty, 3 eps of Melrose Place, 13 eps of It’s A Living) as Grampa.
Alejandro Rey (74 eps of The Flying Nun, 7 eps of Dallas, 1 ep of Knight Rider) as Spiro, the swinger.
Randi Brooks (Hamburger: The Motion Picture, 8 eps of The Last Precinct, 1 ep of Designing Women) as Cherry, the swinger. You can find videos of her real estate company on YouTube. And another one where she sings with her daughters. Not as hot today, obviously–but still not bad.
Jennifer Richards (2 eps of Night Court) as Medusa, the Elvira wannabe. She had the vibe of a Tromette, for sure.
Sonny Carl Davis (Evil Bong 1-3, Thelma & Louise, Where The Buffalo Roam) as Norton, the satellite tv guy.
Ian Patrick Williams (1 ep of Dexter, 1 ep of Batman Beyond, 2 eps of Weird Science) as Nutky (the cop?).
William Paulson (5 eps of Law & Order) as Pluthar, the alien.
Frank Welker (voice-actor GOD) as the monster’s voice. How he manages to always be SO GODDAMN UNIQUE is beyond mystery. We counted his IMDB credits: 750. I’ve never seen anyone else with 750 credits in my life!

LINK URL: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0092074/combined