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Thursday, October 30, 2008

Who Watches The Watchmen?


When I turned the final page of "Watchmen", I had two thoughts.

First, I thought that I might have finished one of the most fantastic pieces of fiction ever written.

Second, I thought that I would end up trying desperately to justify Hollywood's right to make it into a movie.

Since 1986, Hollywood has been trying to bring this incredible story to life. The movie has been repeatedly dropped, and left in the dark. Finally, 300 director Zack Snyder has decided to undertake the task of accurately depicting what might be the greatest graphic novel ever written.

And it's no easy task. The characters of this story are so complex that in order to do them justice, the movie must match the book. Often times in Hollywood productions of comic books and graphic novels, events tend to change. I don't know what Snyder has in mind for this, but I do know this: if he stays as close to the book as he Robert Rodriguez did with Sin City, Watchmen just might be one of the best movies of all time.

I liked 300 a lot. While I have not read it, I have been told by readers that Snyder did a great job with it. Apparently, the whole movie is just a shot-for-shot reproduction of the graphic novel. Again, if he does the same thing here, the film is sure to be fantastic. I have faith in him. He also directed the 2004 version Dawn of the Dead, which was great.

Superhero movies are ascending to a new place. In the last few years, a line has been drawn between films like The Dark Knight and Iron Man and other films like Fantastic Four, and Fantastic Four - Rise of the Silver Surfer. We are moving to a new place where it is not the explosions, or the cool gadgets that make a superhero movie good, but the characters.

It's as simple as this: if Watchmen is executed as well as creators Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons intended, then we just might have the best superhero movie ever made.



Watch The Watchmen March 6.

About the Indie Film

“Indie."

Many times we have given too much importance to this adjective, an importance it doesn’t necessarily deserve. We strive to make indie films, indie music, or just to be indie; in a way this is due to the attractiveness of doing your own thing. Taking your pure vision and transplanting it on to the screen with no modifications, and working with only a close creative team that has a vision similar to yours is rewarding. So strong the taste for indieness has become that the line between indie and studio has been blurred, to the point where indie can be used as a marketing ploy.

Just last year a film promising all the originality of an indie film was released. The film had a budget of over 7 million dollars for its production, and twice that money for advertisement. Judging from this budget, we can safely guess that Juno was within no definition of an indie film. Nevertheless the film tried and attempted to look and feel indie, and was released under the standard of Fox Searchlight.

Has anyone noticed how each major studio has an “indie” or “artsy” film distribution logo? We have mentioned Fox Searchlight, there’s also Warner Independent, Paramount Vantage, and Sony Picture Classics amongst others. Many of these are actual subsidiary companies dedicated to the promotion of the so called “indie” films, although others are simply a branding name used to market a film. Babel was originally going to be released under the Paramount Pictures banner but was finally marketed as a Paramount Vantage product due to its artsy and somewhat progressive nature. The following year No Country for Old Men, and There Will Be Blood were released under the same banner, all with academy award nominations.

Juno was a direct response to the success of Little Miss Sunshine, an actual independent film with half of Juno’s budget. Marc Turtletaub himself covered all the expenses, finally gaining back his investment after Fox bought the distribution rights for ten million dollars. A few weeks ago, Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist was released as a second follow-up to this trend. Indie is more and more looking like a genre rather than a definition of the films origins. Originally this genre involved lots of gore and sex, a fact that is referenced in Juno when Juno and Mark watch the Wizard of Gore an old school indie film, or B-movie as they used to be called.

It is strange to think however, that if we take the indie definition as a hard rule a film, then Star Wars Episode I - The Phantom Menace or any of the new Star Wars trilogy can be considered indie. They were all written by George Lucas, directed by George Lucas and produced by George Lucas under his own studio and funding. There were no middlemen at any point during the creative process. How is that for an “indie” film? The only indie quality within it is the small romance between a nine year old boy and a galactic queen, surely something too much of a taboo for mainstream Hollywood.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

YouTube Pick of the Week


Hey all!

We have started a new feature here where every Wednesday, we will pick one video we come across on YouTube and talk about it. we're obviously not going to be talking about viral videos like The Dramatic Rodent or the video of the baby who laughs like an adult, though, don't get us wrong, those are great.

We will be picking one video that we think show substantial filmmaking. Whether it is just a great piece of sketch comedy, a poetic film, or just something that is executed very well, I will posting it here. People tend to forget that YouTube exists for more things than just videos of guys falling onto rakes. Great things can be found if you look hard enough. Unfortunately most of these videos don't get the exposure they deserve, and I hope I can help to change that.



This week's video is a music video for The Beatles' "Help!". I found this while browsing through someone's favorites, and the thumbnail caught my eye.

This video is awesome. Clearly a group of guys got together, and planned this out perfectly. The whole thing is only three or four shots, and the amount of precision and hard work that are present here is astounding.

Maybe the acting is not the greatest in the world, but I can't get over how well is planned out. Long takes are great to watch, especially when they are executed so well. And finally, the last shot of the movie shows you what the song is about, and everything comes together beautifully.

Well done, guys.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Is Replacing Actors for Sequels a Good Idea?


It was reported last week that Terrence Howard would be replaced by Don Cheadle in the highly anticipated sequel to the summer blockbuster Iron Man. Reportedly, it was due to Howard's demand for higher pay for the role. Knowing how War Machine was teased in the film made it seem like there was going to be some more development in the Jim Rhodes character. It is unfortunate for a franchise that is destined to make a lot of money to not want to put out for a little bit of continuity in a film.

This goes for all sequels that get recast, and not just Iron Man. Several that come to mind immediately are Marvel, so that's convenient. As you may have heard, Thomas Jane is not returning for The Punisher: War Zone and Ed Norton doesn't want to reprise his role as the Incredible Hulk for a possible sequel or The Avengers. Jane didn't like waiting for the project to start shooting and Ed Norton hasn't given a reason, but it is most likely due to the changes he made to the script of The Incredible Hulk being edited out of the theatrical cut.

People making choices to compromise the quality/success of a film takes it away from the consumer and makes the imaginary world that a film creates a lot more realistic. When Iron Man II comes out and you see Tony Stark talking to Jim Rhodes, won't it be weird seeing him talk to a physically different person than the one he was talking to a day/week/month/year ago? Recasting makes the audience aware of the fourth wall and consequently, makes it easier for an audience to be taken out of a movie.

Also, don't get me wrong, the actors used to replace the leaving ones usually do a good enough job, but it's not the character from the previous films. A few months ago, Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor was released without Rachel Weiss. They did something kind of smart in the film to address it. At the beginning of the film, one of Maria Bello's first lines, referencing a character based on her the she wrote in books titled "The Mummy" and "The Mummy Returns", was, "Honestly I can say that she's a completely different person." Now that seemed to be the studio telling the audience about the change, but that didn't change that the new Mummy film was bad.

To any Hollywood types reading this blog, please listen to my plea. If you go the extra mile in keeping the original talent used, not only will the profits grow, but it will be more likely to maintain a franchise.

-Mark

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Review: QUARANTINE


For me, to review this movie is to handle a double-edged sword. I am supposed to tell you what I think is substantial filmmaking. However, I am a fan of almost every single "zombie" movie I have ever seen, so it is hard for me not to wildly endorse this.

So, I am not going to review this movie on traditional film standards. Rather, I am going to review it as a zombie movie. There are things zombie films should achieve, and things they should cover. I will try to grade Quarantine by these guidelines.

The whole movie is shot like Cloverfield. And for this, the director, John Erick Dowdle, had a lot on his plate. For a movie like this, you need to have as little cuts as possible to make it more realistic. This means higher level production design, and better performances from the actors. He pulled it off with flying colors. While the main actress, Jennifer Carpenter, was not the greatest, she at least pulled through the movie without making me hate her.

Quarantine achieves several things Cloverfield did not. For one, it was more realistic. This time, we were not saddled with the burden of watching through a camera that is indestructible and powered by batteries that don't die. This camera has its batteries changed several times throughout, and special care was taken with it. Secondly, the physics of the entire place were handled better than Cloverfield. Gravity applies to these people, and if you fall off of something, guess what? You pay the physical toll.

These days, zombie films seem to ignore one crucial question: how did the infection start? This one doesn't. In fact, it presents you with little clues as to how it started from beginning to end. By the end of the movie, if you have put the pieces together, all you can do is exclaim, "COOL!". I know I did.

The film also explores something I have never actually seen, unless I just can't remember. It shows what zombies do when they are not eating people's brains and gaining their knowledge. There is about two minutes of footage of a zombie on its own - and it's really interesting.

Also: this movie is scary as hell. It's among the most terrifying horror movies I've seen. For me personally, this is great. I think horror movies should give you the jibblies. This definitely gives the movie +1 HP.

In the end, I liked it. It's realistic, it's scary, and it's about zombies. For me, these are three great things. If you want to be scared stiff, or you like zombies, or you just want your date to grab your arm in fright, go see Quarantine.

However, there is one thing I must note. And if you are not an avid zombie fan like I am, reading this will do nothing for you. I do believe they used the word "zombie" in it. Good zombie films try to avoid this at all costs; it takes the realism away. Shaun of the Dead spoofs this beautifully. I am not sure that is what the girl said, but if it is, it saddens me deeply.

Oh well. Had to happen sooner or later.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Review: TINKERBELL


Let me address your either vocal or mental, "No he didn't!" with a very real, yes. Yes I did.

Now don't get me wrong, everything leading up to this movie led it to look like a crappy Disney knockoff.

It wasn't. In fact, this film was more than just watchable, I actually enjoyed it. The music and the voice acting definitely helped with the sometimes hokey jokes. Tink has never talked before, so giving her a voice in general seems like a bad idea, but for you Avatar fans out there, it actually works for this film. Mae Whitman, voice of Katara in Avatar, voices Tinker Bell in the movie. Her fairy friends are played by familiar faces as Raven Simone voices Iridessa the light fairy, America Ferrera voices Fawn the animal fairy, Lucy Lui voices Silvermist the water fairy and Kristen Chenowith voices Rosetta the garden fairy. Each fairy has their own quirk that will probably be expanded upon further in the rest of the Disney Fairies series, and it doesn't look like they'll be uninteresting. Rob Paulsen of Animaniacs, Pinky and the Brain, etc. voices a fellow tinker named Bobble who is one of the fairies that Tink first becomes friends with. Anjelica Huston, Madame Morticia Adams, plays the Queen of all the fairies, whose entrance is very beautiful and showy, but not condescending in any way, it's just right.

The story was essentially a Tinker Bell finding her place in Fairy Glen and realizing that using what you have been given is more important than trying to be something you're not. There is a good character arc with Tink and even an appearance by someone from the main story at the end. It's pretty fast paced, clocking in at a whopping seventy minute running time, they had to get a lot in quick. The 3D animation in this film is very soft and fantastical, just what one would expect from a film about fairies. Disney definitely put a good chunk of time, money and effort into this film and it really shows. If more of Disney's direct-to-DVD offerings had calibur like this, they wouldn't be as kicked down as they have been.


The score was written by Joel McNeely, who has done other Disney films like Mulan II and Return to Neverland, but this score is possibly one of my favorites of any Disney Film. McNeely found a violinist named Mairead Nesbitt to play a classically styled, yet strong Celtic piece after seeing her on PBS (Thanks to viewers like you). In a word, beautiful. It portrays a sense of wonder and curiosity that one should have in a movie about self discovery. It did it's job of keeping me in the movie at points where I may or may not have cared less. If a CD of the score exists, I will buy it and won't be ashamed of it.

Overall, this film succeeds in furthering the amazement with Tinkerbell. With a new meet and greet coming to Disneyland and more, the folks down in Burbank are going to milk this thing for all they got. With that in mind, and despite John Lassetter's intervention, I actually want them to make a direct sequel to this movie. Now that we know how she came to be, a lot of questions start popping up. How did she lose her voice? How did she meet Peter? Anyway, I suggest finding a little cousin or sister that has this movie to give you a reason to watch it.
3 stars

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Quantum of Solace... Not the Greatest?


It seems that Quantum of Solace, after a couple of pre-screening reviews, is not as good as Casino Royale.

I remember when Casino Royale came out, seemingly so long ago. I remember talking to a friend of mine about it. The trailer didn't really catch my interest, but I have always been a big Bond fan, so I naturally wanted to see it. My friend asked, "You gonna see the new Bond? It's probably just a big explosion and hot-girl fest."

"You don't see a James Bond movie for the character development, Alex," I responded, jokingly.

Then I saw Casino Royale - and all I thought was how wrong I was. Never before had it been attempted to make Bond look like anything more than a kickass, suave, and intelligent secret agent. But there he was in Casino Royale, a real character with real character flaws. We had a whole new look at someone we all thought we knew so well. When Casino Royale ended, all I could think of was how interesting it was that they developed James Bond as more than a killing machine.

Naturally, it would be hard to live up to something like this.

Maybe the early reviews are on to something. Maybe not. And it has to be clear by now that I will be the one reviewing Quantum of Solace when it comes out.

But I promise to review it fairly. Even though I believe it will be the greatest thing ever to happen to Earth since the birth of Rachel McAdams, I will try to give my opinion of Bond's next adventure with all the honesty I can muster.

Some Issues With Comments...

Before we get to the day's news, I have disabled anonymous comments for the time being because people have been abusing the right to post anonymously by posting both insulting and unrelated-to-film comments. At some point, anonymous comments will return, but not right now.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Review: MAX PAYNE


Allow me to get this out of the way: if you have not played any of the Max Payne video games you can't appreciate this movie or get into it.

That being said, if you have played the games you will find this movie amazing.

Keeping this in mind, it is irrelevant to explain the premise of the film - either you have played the games and should know the story, in which case you should see it as soon as you can. Or you haven't played the games, don't already know the story and the meaning, and should not see the movie.

What Max Payne achieves as a movie is what all video game inspired films should strive for. The game(s) are a legend amongst the gamer community for their groundbreaking storyline, character depth and style. The first game was a representation of how an awesome video game could have an amazing story behind it as well, and the movie has done the same.

This movie was perfect in its adaption of Max to the big screen, from Mark Wahlberg's mantastic portrayal of Max himself to the aesthetically perfect environment around him. Yes, there are little things that were staples of the games that were missing from the film (such as painkillers, aww) but they were things that would have made the movie un-movie like. Similarly, director John Moore (Flight of the Phoenix, Behind Enemy Lines) did a magnificent job of taking the "gameplay" so to speak, out of the action without ruining the action itself. What follows are some beautiful gunfights staged within scenary that is almost directly out of the game. The result will have fans in the audience shivering uncontrollably and urgently button mashing a game controller that isn't there. One scene in particular, when Max enters the Rag-Na-Rock club for the first time and moves down the hallway shotgun raised, made the hair on the back of my neck stand on end.

Now the film itself was beautiful. The art direction of this movie had my inner cinematographer nearly soiling himself. Issues that the audience will find will almost certainly center around performances by the actors. For one thing, Mila Kunis's character of Mona was completely lacking in substance. Of course, the film makers obviously chose not to develop Mona or make her very important except as a guntoting, female badass. As soon as that became apparent I stopped paying any attention to her, which is what Moore must have been going for because it was remarkably easy. Beau Bridges as BB was terrible. I firmly believe that had this role been filled by a more talented and engaged actor most fan members in the audience would have a very difficult time finding anything else wrong with this movie.
(on a side note, Ludacris was surprisingly good as Lt. Bravura - much better than his other rapper-turned-actor contemporaries)

I personally felt that the script was well written, with some fantastic lines that are dropped every once in a while. The biggest issue I had here was the almost complete lack of humor and rarely seen over-the-top action dialogue that made scenes from the games so engaging. But again, I think that if BB had been a more exciting character and was focused on more than Lupino was, these lackages would have been a minor annoyance.

The final verdict stands: I really enjoyed this movie. I appreciated its ability to stay true to the material without making a stupid, gunfight polluted debauchery of a movie and I absolutely loved the way it was shot. Again, I don't think that anyone who hasn't played the games can appreciate this movie. If you fall into that category, spend your money seeing Sex Drive or save it for Quantum of Solace. If you played the games, see this movie for no reason other than it captures the most important parts of the games you so dearly love without being stupid.
3 stars

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Review: SEX DRIVE


Ok, I know I am bound to get lots of hateful comments and emails from my readers on this one. But here we go.

I... uh... yeah. I loved this movie. I did. I took a glance at its rating on IMDb. Not good. Rotten Tomatoes gave it a 44 %.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Review: W.


All of my politics aside, all of my beliefs aside, I liked it.

It's not really a comedy like the trailers advertise. And it's not really a normal president biography like Oliver Stone usually goes for.

No, W. is just a story - a story about a guy. A guy who gets into something way over his head.

I went in expecting to see a mockery of Bush (not to say the movie is completely devoid of that), but I left the theater feeling something for him. Not hatred, not anger, but sympathy.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

I Don't Think I'll Revolt


Finally, a book to movie adaptation that I am not deathly afraid of.

As a hardcore fan of C.D. Payne's Youth In Revolt, it would be difficult to win my approval for the film adaptation.

The book is about 14 year-old Nick Twisp, an extremely intelligent, and extremely horny boy. He has two missions in life; read more books, and lose his virginity to the ever elusive Sheeni Saunders.

It is easily one of the funniest books I have ever read, and it is also one of the most graphic. If they were to make this movie true to the book, it would be rated X. However, they want to make money on this thing, and I think MIchael Cera doing an X rated movie would be, for lack of a better phrase, the end of his career.

So here we have MIchael Cera saddled with a character that he has never played before - someone charismatic, and someone with the vocabulary of someone 40 years older than him.

And you know what? I think he can do it. Not because I want him to be able to. Because I really do. I know he has played the same character over and over. But, it is because the script has always called for it. I believe in my heart he can pull it off. So Michael, if you are reading this, DON'T LET ME DOWN.

As for Sheeni, I don't know what to expect. The character of Sheeni is very complex, and not just anyone can play her. If you've read the book, you know what I mean. If you haven't, think of Hermione Granger, but way more promiscuous. Portia Doubleday is cast as Sheeni. I don't know her work, and I hope she can make it happen.

As for the rest of the cast, I think it looks great. We have Ari Graynor (who I mentioned was great in Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist), Steve Buscemi, Jonathan B. Wright, Jean Smart, Fred Willard, Justin Long, Ray Liotta, and Zach Galifianakis.

Miguel Arteta is signed on to direct. The only two things I have seen of his are single episodes of The Office and Freaks and Geeks. And I can't recall an episode I didn't like of either. So...

Sounds good to me. I look forward to this movie greatly.


Oh, and if you haven't read the book, go ahead and pick it up. It's among the best books I've read.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Review: APPALOOSA


I left the theater after seeing Appaloosa with a bit of a chip on my shoulder.

The premise has been seen before; a town in the middle of New Mexico Territory being harassed by a lawless rancher in the countryside. His name is Randall Bragg (Jeremy Irons), and he allegedly killed the former town marshall and his two deputies. The three most affluent citizens in the area come together and decide to hire a couple of gunslingers who travel around enforcing the law for "folks that can't shoot." Not surprisingly, the leader of this spineless trio of "gentlemen" is none other than Timothy Spall, playing the same character he played in Sweeney Todd (but this time without warts and with a nicer disposition).

Enter writer/director Ed Harris as bad ass Virgil Cole and his sidekick Everett Hitch (a superbly jaded Viggo Mortensen). The first scene is a perfectly executed one-sided conversation that entails Spall and co trying and failing miserably to hold on to some power instead of handing over complete control of the town to Cole and Hitch (who insist that its a must in order to make everything that is going to happen legal). The audience gets a real treat with the dialogue of this scene, which nicely wraps with the duo kicking some Bragg-minion ass without even trying. This sudden defiance of the boss's men irritates Bragg and sets in motion the rivalry and personal vendetta that constitutes the plot for the rest of the movie.

And what would a western be without some female interference? The next morning the train drops off one Allison French, a down on her luck lady played by Renee Zellweger just to fulfill this requirement. Predictably Ms. French does her fair share of interfering and messing around (literally and figuratively), getting involved with Virgil and taping into the loneliness that is Virgil's one real weakness. Between her and the entrance of two gun slinging professionals from Virgil's past, Appaloosa has all the pieces of a western it needs.

Now, this movie was pretty good. It had all the right stuff: great characters, a fun script, excellent actors. As characters, Virgil Cole (played by writer and director Ed Harris) and his deputy Everett Hitch (a perfectly jaded Viggo Mortensen) are the embodiment of the gun slinging bad ass that every good Western has, yet the best part is how they manage to fulfill these requirements without coming across as unoriginal or cookie cutter.

These two gunslingers carry themselves in a way that makes them equals only to each other, taking the whole cowboy buddy genre to a new level of awesome. Their conversations in particular bring the audience into the film. It doesn't matter what the two are discussing. Maybe it's Virgil's tragically unfaithful woman Allie - "Do you think she loves you? Yes, I really do. It's just unfortunate that she has to f**k the bull stallion in every herd." Or, following a shootout between 4 of the best gun men in the country - "That was quick...(pain filled gasp)...Well yea, everyone could shoot."

It was easy to see right from the beginning of the film that the script and the characters would be the bearers of the entertainment. The fancy effects and gun fights were all secondary. Truth be told, I even liked the gun fights in this movie more for their brief, executioner style. No fight lasted more than 10 seconds and most of the characters were much more willing to use fists and gun butts to make a point, which is much closer to the actuality of how cowboys threw down than Hollywood's 15 minute, endless bullet supply barrages.

I was thoroughly impressed by the aesthetic of everything, particularly Harris' characters and the motivations of their actions. The whole film has a pervasive sense of cause and affect. Audiences don't have to make that "movie" jump to see the forces moving the pieces. Emotion drives this movie in the same way that it drives real people, which is exactly what the tagline foreshadows and promises (Feelings get you killed).

Why then, you ask, did I leave the theater with a chip on my shoulder? Because this movie was pretty good but it could have been great. And when I say great, I mean one of the best westerns of all time - certainly in the last 30 years. I left the theater feeling about this film the way a parent must feel when their rather intelligent and gifted child barely manages to graduate highschool and squeeze into college - what a shame that it didn't reach its full potential.

The biggest failing that this movie runs into is that it doesn't maximize; the plot is resolved but the characters aren't. Renee Zellweger's character is intensely annoying and doesn't become anything more than a convenient piece of the plot until a good 45 minutes into the movie, and even then its hard to really feel her. The avenues that would make her a compelling character are presented but never investigated and on a whole she leaves a lot to be desired. I'm sure other critics will agree when they say that Zellweger had absolutely no chemistry with either Harris or Mortensen. Which is unfortunate because a lot of attention is placed on her relationship with Harris' character. So much so that it almost eclipses the more important relationship between Virgil and Everett, which is the true masterpiece of the script and the real key to the movie. That however, is something that has to be seen to be understood.

In the end Appaloosa will leave you feeling the same way that I felt. That isn't to say that this movie is not worth your time - far from it. The dialogue is truly great; you will laugh at the comments that Everett and Virgil make over the heads of the other characters and high five your friends when one of them says something particularly supreme. There are multiple times where the calm, calculated manner of violence that the two main characters favor will ellicit envy and respect from you. My personal favorites are the way that Cole and Hitch both reload their guns right after they shoot them and the way that Hitch carries his 8 gauge shotgun around to everything like a silent scary friend. Bragg might even worm his way into your good graces with some of his better scenes. Just don't be surprised when the end credits roll and you die a little on the inside for the lost potential.
3 stars

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Review: BEVERLY HILLS CHIHUAHUA


I had it coming. Ever since I penned my Beverly Hills Chihuahua defending debut post at the Movie Watch I knew I was destined to see it, even if I knew I'll be eating crow in the process. The result, well as I stated in my previous post Beverly Hills Chihuahua is far from a Disney classic but considering the awfully low pedigree it's coming from (Raja Gosnell, the director of the dreadful Scooby-Doo live-action movies and Big Momma's House amoung others) I found the film to be a pleasant surprise. Beverly Hills Chihuahua will entertain anyone in the 6-9 year old crowd that laughed at the teaser before WALL-E and is inoffensive enough to keep parents from checking their watch too often.

The plot of Beverly Hills Chihuahua mostly serves as a vehicle just to get more talking animals on the screen. The basic premise follows Chloe (voiced by Drew Barrymore), a spoiled Paris Hilton-esque chihuahua as she gets lost in Mexico and caught up in a dog fighting circuit. There's also Papi a day laborer who sounds and acts like George Lopez (voiced by George Lopez) who is in love with our titular hero. Offensive stereotypes aside the plot is very simple but it has a few genuine moments here and there which sort of half work due to a lack of a proper build-up.

Luckily, the horrible CG seen in the teaser trailer is fairly scarce in the actual movie and apart from a few "pee-jokes" the humor is fairly low-key. As for Raja Gosnell this is a huge step up from his previous dreadful work but as an actual Disney branded movie it would be a bit of a letdown for families expecting the depth of WALL-E or even Bolt for that matter. Then again, the Disney "brand" has already been diluted to the point where a Little Mermaid prequel is reduced to a plot about hip hop music spreading to Atlantica.

The question of whether or not you should see it really boils down to how much your "kids" want to see it and if you'd like anything that happens to have a cute animal in the leading role. Young children will love the quirkiness (albeit wholly unoriginal) in the film and parents will love the fact that it gives them an hour and a half of peace while being mildly amusing at the same time. While I cannot recommend Beverly Hills Chihuahua, you can certainly do a lot worse, even when dealing with Disney comedies about anthropomorphic dogs.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Review: HOW TO LOSE FRIENDS & ALIENATE PEOPLE


It's funny, and a bit unexpected, but Simon Pegg and Kirsten Dunst worked really well together in this.

That's the reason the movie is good.

It's a simple story. Sidney Young (Simon Pegg) is a shlub from England who has always dreamed of hanging out with famous people. He's the son of an actress, and he has grown up watching these glamorous people on TV, and wanting to live 'the high life', just like them.

Also, he's kind of an idiot, and creates more awkward situations than Mike Birbiglia.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Review: ZACK AND MIRI MAKE A PORNO


So Zack and Miri made a porno. Then I reviewed it.

Basic Summary (Spoilers May Occur) - not major ones though!

Zack (Seth Rogen) and Miri (Elizabeth Banks) are two friends who have known each other in the platonic way since 1st grade. Now they live in a little loft in the suburbs. However, neither of them have jobs that are that great. Zack works with his best friend Delany (Craig Robinson) at a coffee shop known as Bean-n-Gone, under an unforgiving boss (Gerry Bednob). After work one day, Zack purchases a 'self pleasure' item, and subsequently finds out he cannot pay the bills for the month. The power and water get shut down. So rather than live like hobos, they get Delany to invest as a producer, and decide to join the porn industry with Zack and Miri as the main stars. However... soon it becomes apparent that this media venture will not run as smoothly as it did on paper.


Tuesday, October 7, 2008

A Quick Summary Of Things...

Hello There,

There are a few new things on THE MOVIE WATCH... this is what they are...

1. We will now be taking submissions of GUEST POSTS from all you readers out there who also want to talk about movies. If you guys write up a critique of a movie, or things you like in film, or whatever pretty much as long as it fits the theme of this site, I will select a few a week and upload them so everyone can read your opinions. Send the Subject Line as - Guest Post to themoviewatch@gmail.com. Read more info in the Side Bar ----->

2. Also in the side bar if you haven't noticed is the new "Donica In a Box' where our contributor Mark Donica will write little blurbs about things in the film world that make big news but could be overshadowed in a small post on the main section of the page. Check that out! ----->

3. Suggestion box in the side bar! --->

That's it for now! Enjoy.

Check back later tonight or tomorrow for a review of ZACK AND MIRI MAKE A PORNO.



Also - Happy Birthday to Rachel McAdams.... for it is her birthday I suppose, and Wilder proclaims the whole world has to know.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Review: NICK AND NORAH'S INFINITE PLAYLIST


Don't let this picture fool you; Michael Cera is not this happy in the movie. He smiles about three times, and it never lasts very long.

His character is so monotone and sad the whole movie that is impossible to establish a likeable main character. Not to say Cera didn't do a great job with what he had.

Here's what I make of this movie: Hollywood decided they wanted to make a film that looks independent. It's as simple as that. And because of this incredible paradox, it is nowhere near as good as it would have been... if it was independent.

Why it's called Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist, I have no idea. They both like music, but that seems to be the only clue.

Nick (Michael Cera) and Tris (Alexis Dziena) just broke up (what Nick saw in Tris in the first place is beyond me, as she just might be the worst person in the world). Nick is upset. As I said, he never really cracks a smile until the end of the movie. He meets a girl named Norah (Kat Dennings) one night at a show his band is playing. They hit it off, and the rest of the movie is about Nick learning to forget about Tris, and learning to love Norah. And it's not hard to love Norah - Kat Dennings totally steals the show here. She is really good, really real, and really funny. It makes her so much more likeable than Nick, to the point where you wish the movie was about her.

Imagine if Forgetting Sarah Marshall was set in New Jersey, with high school seniors. That's what this movie is.

Oh, and not nearly as good.

Not to say it was the worst movie I've ever seen. It has moments where I was laughing, and Ari Graynor's performance is truly fantastic, but with Michael Cera's newfound stamp of credibility, I thought this would be Juno quality.
2 stars

Sunday, October 5, 2008

George Lucas' Worst Nightmare


Ok, I can't wait for this movie.

In a little more than a month, there is going to be an epic collision of all the goodness in the world - Star Wars, Heist Movies, Comedies, and Kristin Bell.

Fanboys is the allegedly true story of a group of intense Star Wars fans who drove to Skywalker Ranch early to get their hands on a copy of Episode One before it was released.

The cast gives me a braingasm. Let's hear it:

Jay Baruchel, Dan Fogler, Chris Marquette, Sam Huntington, and Kristen Bell. I happen to love every single person listed. Not to mention cameos by Seth Rogen, Will Forte, Craig Robinson, Kevin Smith, Jason Mewes, Danny Trejo, and, yes, almost the whole cast of Star Wars (including but not limited to Billy Dee Williams, Carrie Fisher, and Ray Park).


So in other words, if this is not the best movie ever, I don't know what is.

It was made a while ago, back in 2006 and 2007, and released independently in 2007.

But it will be here in November, and, I can almost guarantee it; the force will be strong with this one.



Coming to our galaxy November 26.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Review: THE LOST SKELETON RETURNS AGAIN


What happened to the silliness of Monty Python and Leslie Nielsen?

Yes, Judd Apatow has made his mark in film, setting the bar for what makes a good comedy, but is there still room for the old style of absurd humor that was present in things like Spaceballs?

Larry Blamire says yes. A passionate, passionate yes. And The Lost Skeleton Returns Again is his way of saying it.

His earlier 2000 film, The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra, gave us a hint at this old time silliness. And while it was funny, he has given us something funnier in the sequel. Spoofing the 1950s style B-Movies, he has done it again.

Before I say what I thought of it, you should note that it is nearly impossible to find this movie, as it is extremely independent. I was lucky enough to catch a screening of it at San Francisco State University, with a Q&A with Blamire.

It's impossible to explain the plot, but let me say it is great. The writing is perfect, the acting even better, and the music takes it to the top of the mountain. It almost seems like it is impossible for this type of movie to be funny, but since the actors take their performances so seriously, it works.

The fact that Blamire wrote, directed, and starred in this movie is also something to be taken into account. It was no easy feat, and he made it look like a walk in the park.

In the end, check this movie out. It is pretty funny, and you might even recognize a couple of the faces from other more mainstream films. The only real downfall of the film is that it borders on juvenile, just a little too often. I could have done without most of Chinfa's lines. Oh well.

Blamire's next movie, Dark and Stormy Night, is in the same vein - a spoof of a 30s murder mystery. I'm pretty excited.
2 stars

Friday, October 3, 2008

Review: PONYO ON THE CLIFF BY THE SEA


Gake no Ue no Ponyo is the latest export from Hayao Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli. It came out in July in Japan and I have been trying to find it ever since. This film blew me away.

The story follows a fish who happens to drift to the mainland where she is found by a five year old boy named Sosuke. Sosuke cuts himself and starts to bleed a little while trying to save the fish, but the fish licks the wound and it heals immediately. Sosuke thought it was magic, named the fish Ponyo and promised to protect her. Ponyo's father, who is a human, but has an aversion to land, Fujimoto, comes searching for her. For if she does not get returned soon, the ocean will consume the land. Ponyo ends up being taken back to the sea where she tells Fujimoto that she prefers the name Ponyo and wants to become human.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

You Don't Know Jack



If you're like me, when you started watching 30 Rock, you wondered where you had seen that blonde guy before. His voice is unmistakable, and his smile impeccable.

Then it hits you. Oh! He was in Talladega Knights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby! For me, he was the one that stole the show.

And if you are even more like me, you realize something else. Wait! He was in two episodes of the greatest television show ever to air, Arrested Development!

Jack McBrayer has the face of a warrior, the voice of a champion, and the timing of a mongoose. And pretty soon, Kenneth on 30 Rock had found his way into our hearts.

Then, without warning, he struck again, and found his way into Judd Apatow's group (always a good place to be). He had a big memorable laugh in Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story.

And before we knew it, he had almost stolen Forgetting Sarah Marshall, playing a nervous, newlywed Christian.

As of now, he is signed on to be in Cats and Dogs 2. But I think it's safe to say that soon Jack will be back, and better than ever.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

What isn't Judd Apatow doing these days?


Judd Apatow. I've heard of him (obviously), you've heard of him (likely) and even the little baby what will be born in 10 seconds will hear of him soon enough. Since 2007, Apatow has become the biggest comedy producer in all of Hollywood. I know there has been a lot of talk about him lately (there always is), even on this blog. So I figured I would do a big ole' update about all his upcoming projects right now, knowing that I'll probably have to do another in three weeks.

To Sum Up: In the film industry, Judd headed the producing (and sometimes directing and writing) of Crossing the Bridge, Heavyweights, Celtic Pride, The Cable Guy, Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy, Wake Up, Ron Burgundy: The Lost Movie, Kicking & Screaming, The 40 Year Old Virgin, Fun with Dick and Jane, Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby, The TV Set, Knocked Up, Superbad, Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story, Drillbit Taylor, Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Step Brothers, and Pineapple Express.

So, now what is Judd doing?


Get Him to the Greek

I already talked about this one in the past so this post will be short. Pretty much, Aldous Snow (Russell Brand's character from Forgetting Sarah Marshall) is back on drugs and he is also still a rock star. He needs to get from London to the Greek theater in Los Angeles, and is relying on a 'fresh out of college' insurance adjuster (Jonah Hill) to get him there. Since Hill was also in Forgetting Sarah Marshall, it seems weird that he is not going to be playing the same character this time around. Or is he... nobody really knows yet...

Funny People

Also previously written posted about, the next feature to be DIRECTED by Judd (40 Year Old Virgin, Knocked Up) is called Funny People. Not surprisingly it is about stand up comedy. The film will star Adam Sandler (as a comedian with a near death experience), Seth Rogen, Aubrey Plaza (30 Rock), Jonah Hill. For this film, Apatow hosted two shows at the UCB (Upright Citizens Brigade) in Hollywood, featuring all the principal actors as well as special appearances from Andy Dick, Kevin James, Mike O'Connell and Ken Jeong (Million Dollar Strong), and some others. Sandler performed in character for about 20 minutes, and all the others proved they can be just as hilarious in real life as they are on the screen.

Anti High School Musical

Over the summer Apatow hosted a show at the Montreal 'Just For Laughs' festival. His lineup featured Craig Robinson, Million Dollar Strong, Rogen, Hill, and many more- including Judd onstage performing a version of 'Painted Pony', with music from Craig Robinson's jazz band. However, Judd was not the last one on the menu that night, in fact, 18 year old Bo Burnham came on stage after (which if you know the world of comedy is a big deal). Burnham is a pun master, and has many hilarious comedy songs. Apparently, Judd loved the songs and Burnham so much that he enlisted him to write a musical, an 'Anti-High School Musical' so to speak, because it will probably be quite filthy. Burnham may star in the film as well. Sounds like a musical Superbad... but taking place over a whole year as opposed to one night.

Sherlock Holmes

Teaming up with Sasha Baron Cohen (Borat) as the illustrious detective and Will Ferrell as Dr. Watson, Apatow is bringing what might be the first vulgar comedy about Sherlock Holms. Not much else on that at the moment besides the fact that Robert Downey Jr. is also starring as Sherlock in another adaptation, which will probably ring more 'true' to the original... hopefully they aren't released at the same time. I could see a lot of people being angry that they walked into the wrong theater.

5 Year Engagement

After "Greek" Nick Stoller and Jason Segel are reuniting to write and create a romantic comedy about a couple who has been engaged for five years and I suppose something happens to upset the groove they have fallen into. Sounds like fun, but also sounds like a prequel to Forgetting Sarah Marshall. Maybe Aldous Snow will be in this one too... that would be fun. I don't see Russell Brand really playing any other characters in Apatow-land.

Year One

Harold Ramis is making this one (You'll remember him from the 1980's). Starring Michael Cera (Superbad) and Jack Black as people in the first year ever (of all time). It should be fun watching Cera and Black interacting in slapstick ways with the formation of the biblical events we know so well. I say expect a delightful 1980's style comedy... they say expect a Monty Pyton comedy. I didn't know other people could make Monty Python movies... then again, those were made in the 1980's as well, so maybe we're both right.

Pineapple Express / Superbad Crossover

This might be a rumor. I have no idea. It could work I suppose as both films take place in Clark County... only problem is Seth Rogen has roles in both, so unless they nix the cops (which were integral to Superbad) it would be quite a weird film. Then again... digital double effects have been used in more weird ways...

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