1. Movies I watched, Oct. 24, 2012:

    I almost didn’t want to write this because I knew it would be a long write.

    First off, finished “Nip/Tuck” and “That ’70s Show,” and I’m blazing my way through “South Park” now. I’m fairly satisfied with all of them as solid television work.

    1.  ”The Faculty" 7.5/10 [Surprisingly solid Robert Rodriguez work. Beginning is a bit hammy, but it finds its stride. Cast features a young Elijah Wood.]
    2. The Garbage Pail Kids Movie" 2/10 [Probably the worst movie I’ve ever seen in my life. Features same issue as “Howard the Duck” where the technology fails to convince, and comes off as hokey and cheap (even though in reality, it was quite expensive at the time). The kids are grotesque, and not in the way the film preaches. Rather, in a cheap, crappy distracting way.]
    3. Caddyshack" 7/10 [I’ve finally seen the comedy classic. What do I think? The comedians all got to shine, it was funny. It didn’t change my life though.]
    4. Moonrise Kingdom" 9/10 [Great acting work from the elaborate cast, and genius direction from Wes Anderson. The entire film is so farcical, it’s charming.]
    5. Click" 6/10 [Also the first time I’ve seen this comedy. It was mundane in its direction, not capitalizing on its premise with solid behind-the-camera work. However, despite this, (and despite misusing eternal beauty Kate Beckinsale) I think it could be critiqued as solid writing given a metaphorical lens of addiction, and its power of making life pass by. Otherwise, Sandler is just Sandler and Walken is as fun as ever. It all adds up to being average.]
    6. Man of the House" 5/10 [I thought it would be fun to see Tommy Lee Jones ham it up for a teen comedy. That’s basically what he did. That’s what I expected. The young teen girl cast is hot btw!]
    7. That’s My Boy" 6/10 [The premise was genius: Andy Samberg is Adam Sandler’s son, R-Rated style. So why didn’t it work? Because Adam Sandler was in it. If he dialed back on his comedic schtick (here meaning a different way of being obnoxious he invents right before walking onto set the first day of shooting), it’d have been better. Billy Madison, Waterboy, Little Nicky, etc all had different schticks…maybe the schtick isn’t funny. Maybe the character needs to be.]
    8. Zathura" 5.75/10 [The pace needed a little pick-up. The action beats are a bit too far apart, and the premise can’t fill a 113 min. running time. Should’ve been a 93 min. running time instead. I could feel Favreau’s directorial hand behind the frames, which was a bonus, as it helped keep the tone from going PG-13.]
    9. Safe House" 7/10 [I think Denzel Washington is stuck in this mindset that his villains are scarier if they are twisted mentors. It worked for "Training Day," but hasn’t been the same lightning in a bottle since. Not with "American Gangster," and not with "Safe House," both of which are solid work, but nothing as powerful nor threatening for the protagonist to overcome. Good for a night in…just don’t expect it to get the heart racing too fast.]
    10. Kinsey" 7.5/10 [Of course I’m wary of a biopic on the socially bludgeoned Alfred Kinsey, but they do a beautiful job here of keeping the darker edges of his story subjective so they can paint a more detailed portrait. Wonderful film.]
    11. High Fidelity" 7/10 [Not that great, but it’s ok. Jack Black does his usual. John Cusack does his usual. The thing that’s different is the plot, which is structured like a countdown clock as they count back a few ex-girlfriends of the protagonist in detail. Gets a little tedious.]
    12. Shakespeare in Love" 8/10 [A very clever way to refreshen how we look at the Bard of Avon, and what must have been as passionate an inspiration he had in order to write such passionate inspired work. We quite often forget the man’s tale alongside the tales he spun.]
    13. Top Gun" 6/10 [Just…not even well-shot. If the aerial fights were better shot, maybe it’d have at least impressed me as an action film. I’m not sure why this was so popular, besides Tom Cruise’s popularity at the time.]
    14. Wrath of the Titans" 5.5/10 [Finally saw this one. Some of the action beats are badass as hell. But the story is so average that I hardly care. At least the protagonist was a shy more intriguing, and the action was more brutal than the preceding "Clash of the Titans."]
    15. **”Frankenweenie (2012)" 7.5/10 [A nice return to form for Tim Burton, who reaches new heights of sentimentality for himself here. The movie works as a sweet story of a boy and his dog, but the true genius is how Burton expanded the premise from his original live-action short and twisted it into a genius monster mash climax. That is what got my geek flag waving in the IMAX theater.]
    16. Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted" 7.5/10 [This is quite a head-scratcher of a film. The individual leads’ stories are bundled together in this installment, and yet it’s more satisfying that way. Alex, Marty, Gloria and Melman have a group mentality here, which has a nice emotional payoff for the trilogy’s over-arcing story. Also, some of the coolest visuals of the series to date.]
    17. Robot Chicken: Star Wars" 7.5/10 [Very clever material. Led to a far more successful formula than MacFarlane’s reenactment parody "Blue Harvest" trilogy.]
    18. Robot Chicken: Star Wars Episode II" 8/10 [Actually improves on the original with smarter jokes.]
    19. Robot Chicken: Star Wars Episode III" 7/10 [MacFarlane’s efforts to work in a story arc for the Emperor is a bit heavy-handed here in this 45 min. episode. Makes it more episodic than sketch comedic, which in the prior "Star Wars" parodies had been its very strength.]
    20. Hostel: Part III" 7.5/10 [We know the premise, and the formula. I was surprised by the lack of sexy lead-in the horror usually has, but it was a tighter, meaner machine than its predecessor (I have not seen "Part II").
     

  2. Movies I watched, May’s end, 2012:

    It’s June 1st, so let’s review the rest of the films I watched in May:

    1. **”Battleship" 8/10 [I think this film was a sincere tribute to the Navy, giving them the greatest possible threat they could ever face (technologically advanced alien beings) and having them conquer it in a solid-paced, action-packed blockbuster. Not to mention, the ensemble writing pays off with memorable characters.]
    2. **”Men in Black III" 6.75/10 [The writing is a little bare for a ten-year wait for this pic. Still, Griffin and Boris are new standouts while Brolin’s young Agent K steals the show. Also, it’s genuinely funny and the action beats are solid. Enjoyable enough to give it a look and remember why we liked the MIB in the first place.]
    3. The Notebook" 7/10 [Resolution was quick and faulty (what happened w/ the fiancée? the father?), but it was nearly exactly what I came to expect from all the hype in the past 8 years. And in that regard, it’s a nice piece of sweet, generic romance.]
    4. Edward Scissorhands" 8/10 (Re-Review) [Tim Burton’s lower-budget, still-rookie execution has its seams, but the subtext on suburbia and outcasts is too strong in this modern (now period) fable to hold it against it.]
    5. An American Haunting" 4.5/10 [Some of the creative horror choices were solid. But overall, this film adds up to nothing more than average, with a pseudo-twist to boot. Personally, it’s disappointing that this is all there was to the story. Donald Sutherland is the genuine star of the show here…strong performance.]
     

  3. Movies I watched, mid-May, 2012:

    1. **”Dark Shadows" 6/10 [I’m always good for a Burton-Depp monster mash, but what should’ve came so naturally easy for Burton became a struggle over tone and proper plotting. Depp doesn’t disappoint, nor does the rest of the cast. Just the uneven tone and lack of momentum. Also, the clever moments are pretty clever.]
    2. The Devil’s Advocate" 8/10 [I was perfectly enthralled in this film (despite Keanu Reeves’s poor performance)…then the Devil had to monologue and preach to the audience for a minute. That deflated the momentum. That made itself far too known. Prior to that, it was a fun morality play with heavy consequences, with perfect pacing to wring out every drop of development. Also, best interpretation of the Devil I’ve seen onscreen thus far.]
    3. Tower Heist" 7.5/10 [Everybody knows I hate Brett Ratner’s guts more than most directors in Hollywood. He’s caddy, shallow, and his films are equally as generic. This film had a great cast, some laughs and decent pacing. That’s the only reason it’s perfectly passive as afternoon entertainment. Also Eddie Murphy, triumphant.]
    4. The Darkest Hour" 5/10 [If the characters had been a bit more fleshed out, and the action beats made closer together (trimming down the runtime), I think this could’ve been a bit more than generic. But it’s average, obvious, typical, with a few creative flairs that were the reason this film was probably successfully sold to a studio.]
    5. **”The Dictator" 6/10 [Sacha Baron Cohen is king of modern character-based comedy. He emerges effortlessly into his characters, a feat that is just diverting enough to save a film that’s only half-baked. This film should’ve been smarter (knowing Larry Charles and Cohen, of "Borat" and "Bruno" collaboratively). Also, though it had its great, awesome moments, the structure is all too similar to the prior collaborative efforts. We know you guys are smarter than this.]
     
  4. You’ve seen the “Dark Shadows” trailer…never heard of it before? Give this “Behind the Trailer” ep a look to help you out:

    Also, watch the trailer here.

     
     

  5. Re-Review: “Batman Returns”

    This will be brief. I watched “Batman Returns” again because I watched “Batman” again (read my re-review of “Batman” here).

    Basically, all I will say on this film is that (I believe) it is the best “Batman” film of the 90’s. Out of “Batman,” “Batman Returns,” “Batman Forever,” and “Batman and Robin,” it is the best. Not only is it the best out of a mediocre run of Batman films (admit it, they all could’ve been better), it was highly entertaining and a great, solid film, even by today’s standards.

    Dark, riveting, humorous, and intelligent, this film deserved a better reputation than it has gotten over time. Most people think of it as overly dark, gross, and not worth your time. It’s also gotten such a bad rep because it is the film that forced Warner Bros. to reconsider how serious the series was getting, hence the childish Joel Schumacher Batman films. If they’d stayed on course, however, I think Burton knew what he was doing, and would’ve been just fine. Besides, it’s really not much darker than Heath Ledger’s portrayal of the Joker. It’s even less violent.

    And by the way, this film has some witty-ass banter in it! Like, the double entendres, with animal puns (puns that are actually clever?? whaaaat??), and subtext that’s thoroughly enjoyable. I mean, this makes some badass villains! “Meow,” Catwoman declares before a store blows up behind her. That is a cinematic moment I would never trade for anything.

    Also, as a sidenote, I certainly hope Anne Hathaway can manage to top Michelle Pfeiffer as Catwoman…and I’m not saying Pfeiffer did a bad job. On the contrary, Pfeiffer has done the best job here out of any other Catwoman in film history. Thus, Hathaway has a challenge to top Pfeiffer’s performance with next year’s “The Dark Knight Rises,” and I have faith Nolan chose wisely.

    I recommend that you look back at “Batman Returns” and give it another look…especially if you’re a Tim Burton fan.

    ———————————————-

    Re-Rating: 8/10

    Final say: Sleek, fun, serious, action-packed, and damned intelligent, “Batman Returns” doesn’t deserve the bad reputation it received. Out of the 90’s Batman films, this one was a home-run, and has stood the test of time very well.

     

  6. Re-Review: “Batman”

    Oh yeah…I went back and rewatched “Batman,” the 1989 Tim Burton classic I watched as a kid. Keep in mind that this Batman film was one of the few I had to watch as a kid. Kids today are so spoiled…they have seven total Batman movies, with an eighth on the way (though I really shouldn’t count the shitty 1960’s Adam West “Batman: The Movie”).

    Either way, I love Tim Burton’s work. You fans of my site will have to get used to that. I know Burton’s got his haters, but I’ll stand up for his work eternally. It sings to me.

    Well, not much changes in my opinion of Burton when I watch this film. I also keep in mind that the budget was low ($48 million back then would be roughly $85 million today). Still, that money ended up on the screen in some great ways.

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