Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979)


I Know Engineers.  They LOVE to Change Things.

Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979)In my video review for Star Trek Into Darkness, I suggested that J.J. Abrams may turn me into a fan of the Star Trek series were he to keep making such good movies from them.  Ever since I made that claim, something powerful has been brewing inside me.  It was my nerdiness.  It had overridden the bias that caused me to write off Star Trek lest my love of Star Wars be tested.  Also, the BluRays of the original movies were on sale just after the new movie’s release.  Inspiration enough for me!  I bought the original movies, but delayed watching them until I watched the entire original series on Netflix.  We’ll review those later.  TV series take much longer.  After finishing the TV show, I finally sat down and watched Star Trek: The Motion Picture, based on characters created by Gene Roddenberry, written by Harold Livingston, story by Alan Dean Foster, directed by Robert Wise, and starring William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley, Persis Khambatta, Stephen Collins, James Doohan, Walter Koenig, Nichelle Nichols, George Takei, and Majel Barrett.

A monitoring station for Starfleet detects a massive cloud of energy that destroys some Klingon warships, and later the monitoring station itself, en route to Earth.  Starfleet sends out the newly refitted starship Enterprise as a test of her new systems.  Her former Captain, Admiral James T. Kirk (William Shatner), comes aboard the Enterprise and takes command from Captain Willard Decker (Stephen Collins), citing his experience with the Enterprise as precedence over Captain Decker’s experience with the Enterprise’s new systems, creating friction between the two.  Elsewhere, Spock (Leonard Nimoy) is interrupted from a ritual to purge himself of all emotion when he detects the cloud, and he rejoins the Enterprise to help find it.  The Enterprise encounters the cloud, where a probe is sent onboard that attacks Spock and abducts the navigator, Decker’s love interest, and Hair Club for Women model, Ilia (Persis Khambatta), who is later replaced by a robotic doppelgänger.  The crew of the Enterprise must work together to find out what this cloud wants before it destroys Earth.

I agree with the general population in saying that this was a less than substantial movie.  I kind of understand the problems with this movie, but I feel they pretty much damaged the movie beyond interest.  It was basically like watching a longer, prettier version of one of the less interesting TV show episodes.  It was mostly about getting the band back together on their new decked out ship, showing off that they have more money to spend on the movie than they did on the TV show.  But I didn’t understand that either.  Has time forgotten the phrase, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it?”  The Enterprise did great on the TV show, but you have to go and update everything and now nothing works?  Then I got bothered with the resolution to the movie.  Turns out the cloud surrounds a planet that itself surrounds the Voyager 6 probe that just wants to return to Earth to drop off its information, as it was programed to do.  But everyone thinks it’s called V’Ger because all of its nameplates are covered up coincidentally in exactly the same spots.  Then it ends with Decker fisting the Voyager and it decides that its mission is accomplished.  It’s something that would be done on the TV show, but didn’t really feel like it required a movie.

The look of this movie is really good for its time, but it’s also to the movie’s detriment.  It’s a great step up from the TV show, but I think they were a little too aware of it.  I have heard this movie described as a bunch of glory shots of the Enterprise, and it’s not a lot more than that.  They love showing off their pretty new graphics though.  The opening scene looked a lot like Star Wars mashed up with Tron.  Then they reintroduce the Enterprise, and Mister Scott takes Kirk on a three minute ride around the outside of the Enterprise, sitting quietly in a dock.  They do the same thing with pretty much every ship shown, even the space station that is doing absolutely nothing.  They also love to show random people floating out in space in space suits doing busy work for some reason.  It’s either done to pad out the film or just to show off how much more money they had this go around.  And it’s true that most of it is really pretty for its time, but there were a couple of things I found goofy.  For instance, the fact that the Klingon ship has a butthole cannon.  And, since we’re on the topic, the opening to the robotic planet that the Enterprise sits outside of for a long time looks like a giant, pulsating, blue anus.  But when travelling through it, it doesn’t look like you’d expect an anus to look like.  Instead, it looks like a series of screensavers.

There’s not a whole lot to say about the performances in the movie.  After playing the same characters in around 80 episodes these people are going to know how to do it better than anyone.  All of them still remember how to do what they’d been doing for so many years before.  Shatner is great.  I’ve made fun of his delivery before, but it just seems right when he’s doing it.  He may be overacting a bit, but when Shatner does it, I still like it.  I didn’t appreciate the changes in uniform as much.  I think the yellow, blue, and red shirts worked.  Plus, they had full sleeves and didn’t reveal that Shatner has unpleasantly hairy upper arms now.  I would also say that, as someone who just recently got turned into a Star Trek fan, I didn’t like seeing Kirk confused on the Enterprise.  I like him much better when he knows what he’s doing.  I think Leonard Nimoy is my favorite amongst the cast.  I like Spock.  He’s got super powers!  And the lack of emotion thing always makes the character more mysterious and interesting.  When Spock rejoins the Enterprise though, I thought he came off more as a dick than a Vulcan, but he eased up a bit on that.  I also love DeForest Kelley.  He’s kind of comic relief without being too overt about it.  Except in that outfit he’s wearing when he first shows up, as if they beamed him up straight out of Studio 54.  Persis Khambatta never really worked for me.  I assume they wanted me to be able to tell what she was saying because she might be saying something that would help me understand what was going on, but the greater majority of things she said did not compute in my brain.  At first it might have been her accent, then later the robotic quality they added to her already hard to understand accent.  Also, she was hot and looked great with that really high skirt, but women don’t really look good bald.  At least not on their head.

I am saying nothing new about Star Trek: The Motion Picture, but it’s all new to me because this is the first time I have seen it.  The story lacks substance and feels more like a longer version of one of the less interesting episodes of the show, and they wasted a lot of time staring at the Enterprise doing nothing to show off their new graphic capabilities.  I still like the greater majority of the actors playing the roles that they created, but they couldn’t do much with what they were given here.  I still look forward to what they can do with a good script, and I’ve heard good things about the next movie.  We’ll find out how that worked out later.  For now, Star Trek: The Motion Picture gets “No, Admiral.  I don’t think you’re sorry.  Not one damned bit” out of “It knows only that it needs, Commander.  But, like so many of us, it does not know what.”

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My Father The Hero (1994)


If I Tell Him I Made All This Up, He’ll Hate Me.

My Father The Hero (1994)Today, I received a review request all the way from Poland … wherever the Hell that is.  I had to use Google Translate to find out what exactly this “Booski” person was requesting of me, but after I finally figured it out, I found myself very disappointed.  The movie that Booski requested was a movie I was aware of, but a movie I never found myself interested in watching, even at the mere 11 years of experience I had when the movie was released.  As I got older and gained the ability to pick movies for myself, the lack of interest remained.  Truthfully, there’s absolutely no way I would ever watch this movie of my own accord.  But in accordance with a request, I will relent and watch My Father the Hero, based on the French film Mon père, ce héros, written by Gérard Lauzier, Francis Veber, and Charlie Peters, directed by Steve Miner, and starring Gérard Depardieu, Katherine Heigl, Dalton James, Faith Prince, Lauren Hutton, Stephen Tobolowsky, and Emma Thompson.

André (Gérard Depardieu) is a French divorcé who comes to New York to take his 14-year-old daughter, Nicole (Katherine Heigl), on vacation with him.  But it turns out that his daughter is a dirty bitch, obsessed with the idea of being treated like a woman and not a girl.  She also falls instantly in love with a local boy named Ben (Dalton James), who she desperately wants to impress.  For some reason, her idea of impressing a boy is to tell him that André is not her father, but actually her sugar father.  Meaning that she’s banging her dad because he helped her get off drugs.  But the fact that André is now a pedophile in the eyes of everyone at the resort starts to create problems for him.  And the fact that he agrees to go along with this bullshit creates a few more.

I hated this movie so much I can’t even put it into words.  But I’m going to anyway because this would be a strange review if I did it all with numbers and emoticons.  Part of me really wanted to like this movie because I’m pretty sure I hated the last movie Booski requested of me, but I could just not support this story.  It was so gundamned icky!  This girl tells someone that she’s banging her father?!  And why?  To impress a boy?!  Yeah, ‘cause there’s nothing does it for me more than a recovering addict with serious daddy issues.  And then the lies keep getting worse and worse, as does the movie.  I was getting more and more frustrated as André started actually going along with this nonsense, but it was worse when it had a happy ending.  My desire was to see this movie end with the guy finding out that Nicole was a lying bitch and being done with it, but then they rip off Cyrano de Bergerac and everything is all better with some lame confession of love for someone this girl has known for about a week.  And that doesn’t change the fact that she was only 14, making this Ben guy nearly as gross as he thought André was.  I really have no idea what makes Booski like this movie so much.  I didn’t find it funny as the only attempts at humor I could even see either made me feel awkward because they were kind of poking fun at pedophilia or they were simple silliness and slapstick.  As best I can assume, maybe there’s some understanding of this movie that I’m missing because I don’t know what it’s like to be a tedious, teenaged girl.

Technically speaking, the greater majority of the performances in the movie were fine, but the problems I had with most of the characters made it too hard to even concentrate on it.  Needless to say, the greater majority of the issues I took were with Katherine Heigl’s character.  Part of the problem was that she was only 16 in this movie, probably 15 when it was filmed, and 14 in the movie, yet the movie and almost everyone in it sexualizes her so much.  Granted, it would be very difficult not to as she was good looking, had a rockin’ body, and wore a bathing suit with zero percent coverage over her ass in one of the first times we see her, but even as I say those things I feel the need to take a hot shower to cleanse myself of the ickiness of sexualizing a 14-year-old girl, even though that girl is actually 4 years my senior.  These are the feelings that this movie should have had when dealing with her at the time instead of slutting her up and having every 40+ year-old guy in the movie have their tongues dangling out whenever she walked by.  But I started feeling less for her when it turned out her character was a crazy lying bitch.  I hated her for the greater majority of the movie, which probably hindered me liking the movie since she was one of its main characters.  First, why would she act like she doesn’t speak French anymore?  Is she worried that her friends would think she was too interesting and cultured because she speaks a second language?  But technically, the greater majority of my problems were with what was written for Heigl and not Heigl herself.  The only time I took issue with her acting was when she was trying to act scared for Depardieu on the boat.  She did not deliver that very well.

Not many of the people in this movie were likeable.  Ben (played by Dalton James) was fuckin’ stupid as well.  He starts off on the right track, hating Depardieu for the pedophile he thinks he is.  But when he is told that he was a veteran, he starts feeling bad for the guy?  That wouldn’t change anything for me.  That’s a great thing you did for your country, but that doesn’t make what you’re doing now forgivable.  And he sees André with his shirt off numerous times in this movie, so why doesn’t he realize that André has no scars whatsoever from all of these war injuries he’s received?  And then the douche is stupid enough to forgive her?  To Hell with this chick!  She’s told you next to nothing that wasn’t a lie!  And she’s leaving in about a day from when you find out the truth and forgive her.  Why even bother?  Also, you’re going to leave Nicole in the hands of a potentially abusive pedophile just because he can play piano better than you?  Of course, all the other guys in the movie were also awful, as they idolized André for being a pedophile.  I also hated André’s girlfriend, Isobel, until I found out she was played by Emma Thompson.  Isobel let André go through all the horribly challenging things that Nicole was putting him through because she wanted to get married?  What a shitty girlfriend!  André should’ve ended up with Faith Prince’s character, Diana.  She only started off a little irritating, but she got along well with Nicole and was actually there for André in these trying times.  Diana was one of two people in this movie I didn’t hate.  The other was André himself.  I felt bad for him for what he was dealing with, and Gérard Depardieu was very likeable as well.  I liked him from the moment he called Nicole a liar.  Someone had to say it!

I found myself really wanting to like My Father the Hero, but subsequently found myself completely unable.  The story was just so … icky!  A girl lying to say she’s a recovering drug addict that’s banging a man so old that he could be her father … because he IS her father?  Ewwwwwww!  And all this to somehow impress a guy that ends up loving this girl, despite her completely icky lies?  I’m not on board with any of this.  I may have been on board with Gérard Depardieu in this movie, but it was not enough to override the rest of it.  I can’t recommend this movie.  From what I have found, I suppose you would like this movie if you’re a girl from Poland.  But as far as I know, there are only two of those.  Everyone else can skip it.  My Father the Hero gets “Your life will not be ruined.  Mine maybe, but yours won’t” out of “Oh, you’re such a bitch.”

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This Is the End (2013)


Take Yo Panties Off!

This Is the End (2013)Based on the poster alone, I had no interest in seeing today’s movie.  I liked the people I saw on the poster, but I’ve seen them all in movies that were both great and awful, so the poster alone couldn’t really capture my attention.  But that’s why they make trailers.  When I started seeing the trailers for the movie, my desire to see it took to a sharp incline.  The trailer wasn’t laugh out loud funny, but that could be a good thing in this case.  The trailer should just show the potential for the movie; not spoil the best jokes.  And that’s what this trailer did.  Plus, the premise seemed fantastic.  But Friendboss Josh already had an appointment to see this movie with his girlfriend, the Whitney-Bird.  So we went down to the theaters to catch Man of Steel instead.  But that shit was sold out.  Good thing for me, Friendboss Josh values his friendshipbossship with me more than he values vagina, so we went to see This Is the End, written and directed by Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, and starring Jay Baruchel, Seth Rogen, James Franco, Craig Robinson, Jonah Hill, Danny McBride, Emma Watson, Michael Cera, Jason Segel, David Krumholtz, Paul Rudd, Mindy Kaling, Martin Starr, Channing Tatum, Kevin Hart, Rihanna, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, and Aziz Ansari.

Jay Baruchel goes to Los Angeles to visit his friend Seth Rogen.  After a celebratory day of smoking weed and playing video games, Rogen suggests that the two of them go to a party at James Franco’s house, but Baruchel doesn’t want to go because he doesn’t know or like anyone at the party and worries about being left alone there.  Sure enough, upon arriving to the party Rogen goes off on his own, leaving Baruchel in uncomfortable conversations with people like Michael Cera, Emma Watson, and Rihanna.  Rogen and Baruchel walk down to a store to pick up some snacks, but their shopping is interrupted when blue beams of light grab some of the shoppers and drag them up to the heavens.  Then the fuckin’ apocalypse happens, instantly killing many of the celebrities at Franco’s party, leaving Rogen, Baruchel, Franco, Craig Robinson, and Jonah Hill alone in the house to fend for themselves.  They ration out what little supplies they have and go to sleep for the night.  When they wake up, they find that Danny McBride had crashed the party and fallen asleep in a bathroom upstairs, and had come down and prepared all of their food for breakfast.  How will this group of sheltered celebrities be able to survive the reckoning?

I feel like I won’t have very much to say about this movie.  What I will say is this: this is probably the best comedy I’ve seen in a very long time.  I just can’t think of very many funny things that I could put in a review about something that was keeping me laughing super consistently for the greater majority of the movie.  There was a moment to make me laugh out loud at least once every five minutes.  That’s one hell of a ratio!  I barely ever laugh in movies, so that should tell you just what I think about this movie.  I would say that it could be easily argued that the story was a little underwhelming.  It was mainly just an excuse to get these really funny people into situations they could improvise jokes about.  But a comedy doesn’t really need to blow you away with story.  One of my favorite comedies is Airplane! and that’s really all that movie is.  I’m not going to come back here and write a review about the fact that its story wasn’t spectacular when all it was trying to be was a comedy and it kept me laughing.

The cameos in this movie are crazy.  They have ridiculous celebrities in this movie.  I liked most of those people and was tickled to see them in this, and I even really liked the celebrities that I don’t normally like.  Rihanna had a funny moment with Michael Cera, Channing Tatum had an amazing joke, and even though I don’t like them, the Backstreet Boys reveal was pretty awesome, albeit unnecessary.  Jay Baruchel was a little whiny in the movie, but he was also plenty funny.  Seth Rogen was hilarious.  I did think that it didn’t make sense for people to act like he wouldn’t get into heaven if he used Jesus’ name in vain.  He’s Jewish!  They don’t care about Jesus!  James Franco had plenty of funny moments as well.  I especially liked the story he told about Lindsay Lohan thinking he was Jake Gyllenhaal and him telling her to call him the Prince of Persia.  Danny McBride is always a strange character for me.  He never really plays anyone likeable, but he’s really good at playing that character.  And he made a great joke about Franco being gay.  I would say if there were anything bad to say about the cast of this movie it would be that Emma Watson had too small of a part in the movie.  She was great in the movie, and the parts she was in were pretty hilarious, but I want to look at her at all times, and I also want to have a little resolution to what happened to her.  After she leaves, we never see her again.  I assume there’s no way she could go to heaven because she portrayed a witch in 8 movies, so that’s means she’s for sure Hell bound, but the movie never said for sure.

I really can’t do much in a review of This Is the End.  I cannot add funny to the funniest movie I’ve seen in a long time.  This movie was created by a bunch of professionally funny people, and I do this for free.  The story was an interesting idea, but a little simplistic, but who cares because it was mostly there to set up some really funny people being funny.  This movie kept me laughing all the way through, giving me only brief pauses to catch my breath so I wouldn’t die while watching it.  You definitely need to get out to see this movie as soon as you can.  I can’t imagine you’ll regret it.  This Is the End gets “The power of Christ compels you!” out of “I’d be pretty bummed if I don’t at least get a bite of the Milky Way.”

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Pitch Perfect (2012)


You Have Juice Pouches and Rocky!

Pitch Perfect (2012)I feel like as much of me that wanted to see today’s movie did not want to see it.  It looked like it had just as much opportunity to be cute and entertaining as it had to be painful and predictable.  My inner torment led to me not bothering to see it in theaters and even ignoring it every time I saw it at a RedBox, but my finger came close to clicking that button numerous times.  The push that I needed came from my friend Ashley Janet, who requested the movie.  That would be enough to cause me to finally watch and review Pitch Perfect, based on the book by Mickey Rapkin, written by Kay Cannon, directed by Jason Moore, and starring Anna Kendrick, Skylar Astin, Brittany Snow, Anna Camp, Rebel Wilson, Ester Dean, Alexis Knapp, Hana Mae Lee, Adam DeVine, Utkarsh Armbudkar, Ben Platt, Freddie Stroma, Jinhee Joung, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, John Benjamin Hickey, John Michael Higgins, and Elizabeth Banks.

Beca Mitchell (Anna Kendrick) is a bad girl wannabe DJ, angry at daddy for getting divorced, and for forcing her to go to college instead of pursuing her dream of going to Los Angeles to produce music and then failing and winding up doing porn.  I feel like I would’ve liked to see Anna Kendrick in that movie instead, but that’s not how this one goes.  Instead, her dad talks her into giving college a shot and joining some clubs to have the college experience.  One of the heads of the accapella group, the Barden Bellas, named Chloe Beale (Brittany Snow) catches Beca singing in the shower and forces her to join the Barden Bellas, still reeling from their failure last year where the other leader of the group, Aubrey Posen (Anna Camp), throws up all over the stage.  Beca joins the group with the black lesbian Cynthia-Rose (Ester Dean), the white whore bag Stacie Conrad (Alexis Knapp), the quiet Asian Lilly Onakuramara (Hana Mae Lee), and the Australian comic relief Fat Amy (Rebel Wilson).  Problematically, Aubrey refuses to take any chances and deviate from the song they’ve been performing forever, and they’ll need something new to beat last year’s champions, the Treblemakers.  Also a problem, Beca’s reluctant love interest, Jesse Swanson (Skylar Astin), is a member of the Treblemakers.

I kind of went into this movie thinking I’d hate it, which was probably the reason I avoided it for so long.  The greater majority of the movie helped me believe I had been making the right decision.  It’s just too predictable.  I imagine I could’ve written a rough outline of exactly how the movie was going to go down if you just handed me the setup.  There’ll be some dumb reason for the “bad girl” to join the team, there will be some friction, then a falling out, then a tearful reunion, and they’ll win and she’ll get the boy.  And the story itself isn’t even realistic, or at least I hope it isn’t.  If there are indeed places that take accapella so seriously, I’d be much more comfortable acting like they don’t.  They have accapella Fight Clubs!  But none of that is me telling you my feelings about the movie in general.  I have buried the lead and fooled you all.  This movie still managed to charm me, strangely enough.  Sure it was predictable and lacked anything resembling a surprise in the story, but it was cute.  I guess the story itself wasn’t what did that for me, but we’ll get to what did later.  Some of the dialogue was good, and some was bad.  I never was really able to tell whether or not the shitty puns they used all over the movie were aware of themselves or not.  It seemed a lot like a whole movie of “Cheer-ocracy” and “Cheer-tator” from Not Another Teen Movie.  One of the groups was called the Treblemakers, and there was a whole section where they talked about a “Toner,” which is apparently a musical boner.  That was pretty terrible, but the payoff of Anna Kendrick saying “That’s my dick” got a chuckle out of me.  I also thought the line about juice pouches and Rocky was pretty adorable, but I feel like most of the credit goes to the delivery.  I also took issue with the vomiting in the movie.  It happens a couple of times, and I assume it was for humor’s sake, but I just thought it was disgusting and juvenile.

The music and I started out at odds, but eventually it swayed me.  The music wasn’t exactly my cup of tea, being a great deal of pop music that I either didn’t like or didn’t recognize.  But I started getting into it around the time of the “Riff-Off,” when they started mixing up pop songs with some 80’s rock in some very appealing ways.  The music kind of won me over from that point.  I did get mad during the Riff-Off, when Beca started rapping at Jesse and her whole team seemed dumbfounded by what she was singing.  These people practically dedicate their lives to music and they can’t recognize No Diggity?  Even I recognized that song!

I think what wins me over the most about this movie is the cast.  Anna Kendrick is extremely likeable.  Good-looking and great actress.  Her character motivations were slippery for me at times.  I don’t know why the “bad girl” would be so tolerant of the leader girl’s controlling way of running the group.  I believe her father only said she had to “try” with the group thing, and her character didn’t seem like the type to tolerate that crap.  If she had joined a Face-Punching Society and decided it wasn’t to her liking, I’m sure he’d be cool with her leaving the group.  I also wasn’t a fan of Skylar Astin.  I didn’t think he was nearly charming enough, and didn’t really believe that Kendrick’s character would find him that interesting either.  I didn’t even know if he was supposed to be a good singer either based on the part he sang when the other kid asked him how his voice was.  He turned out to be a good singer, but I felt like a better take could’ve existed there.  It was a little pitchy, dog.  Of course, all of these things might be me being bitter because I didn’t get to make out with Anna Kendrick.  Who could say, really?  Rebel Wilson is typically funny, and it wasn’t much different here.  I felt like she was trying too hard in parts, and some of her better jokes were in the outtakes, but she held up the comedy really well.  I was also a fan of the slutty girl in the group, Alexis Knapp.  She was really hot and said a lot of things about sex, so it’s pretty easy to get me on your side with those credentials.  Elizabeth Banks and John Michael Higgins had a pretty good job in this movie too, playing the announcers.  They just got to chill in a booth and say ridiculous and funny things, but it was enjoyable.

Pitch Perfect did nothing for me by way of story, being too predictable and cliché while seeming to be well aware of both.  But over time the movie melted my cold heart with great performances, beautiful ladies, some genuine funny moments, and some pretty fantastic music that was able to draw me in even though it wasn’t really my musical tastes.  I’m not going to act like I didn’t raise my fist in the air at one point in this movie.  I can’t help it when a certain song is playing.  It’s a reflex at this point.  I’ll probably wind up buying this movie and maybe even downloading the soundtrack, although I think the music wouldn’t do as much without the visuals.  For you, I’d recommend at least giving it a shot by renting it.  Pitch Perfect gets “I set fires to feel joy” out of “I can’t concentrate on anything you’re saying until you cover your junk.”

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Fast & Furious 6 (2013)


Ride or Die, Remember?

Fast & Furious 6 (2013)I was personally not that interested in seeing the movie that I am reviewing. This is the sixth part in a movie series I have been mostly disinterested in all the way through. Whichever ones I saw of the first four did nothing for me, though I did enjoy the fifth one for what it was. When they released the sixth one, I still couldn’t muster any interest in it because 1/5 is still not a great ratio. But my friend Greg said that the sixth was worth seeing, more like the fifth than the other four that preceded. Jesus I’m sick of typing numbers! Let me do just one more as I review Fast & Furious 6, written by Chris Morgan, directed by Justin Lin, and starring Vin Diesel, Michelle Rodriguez, Paul Walker, Dwayne Johnson, Luke Evans, Gina Carano, Tyrese Gibson, Chris Bridges, Sung Kang, Gal Gadot, John Ortiz, Joe Taslim, Clara Paget, Kim Kold, Jordana Brewster, and Elsa Pataky.

Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) and his gang – Roman Pearce (Tyrese Gibson), Tej Parker (Chris Bridges), Han Seoul-Oh (Sung Kang), and Gisele Yashar (Gal Gadot) – have retired after becoming rich from their successful heist in Rio, and because Brian O’Conner (Paul Walker) and Dom’s sister Mia (Jordana Brewster) have spawned. DSS agent Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) and his partner Riley Hicks (Gina Carano) have other things in mind for them, such as taking down a former British Special Forces soldier turned bad, Owen Shaw (Luke Evans), before he builds something bad. But Hobbs would need something big to make Dom come out of retirement and get the band back together, and something much more important than that being the cliché that starts all of these sorts of movies. Hobbs has just the thing. Dom’s former girlfriend and current amnesiac Letty Ortiz (Michelle Rodriguez) is a member of Shaw’s team. Let’s get these cliché’s started!

I didn’t go into this movie with any expectations, and I was right. Story is probably never going to be a strong point of the Fast movies, and I’m sure no one goes in with expectations of anything different. But the story of this movie was quite a trudge for me. How hard can you dig into the cliché barrel in one movie? Coming out of retirement. Getting the band back together. Amnesia. It’s like soap opera quality writing with a few more explosions and face-punches. And we got the band back together on the last movie! So you’re not only using clichés, you’re RE-using clichés! And if elements of your story hadn’t already been done to death, you could only manage passing sense with your own story elements. You have an important mission to accomplish, but you can take time out in the middle for a random street race? I know you could argue that Dom did it thinking that Letty would be there, but what was her justification for it? I think the only real argument you could make was that this is a Fast movie so they felt obligated to do it, whether it made sense or not. Maybe they just did it to keep the audience from getting bored, but it didn’t work on me. I was well into bored by the time Shaw and Dom met up after that for their scheduled dick-measuring contest. It also made no damned sense that Brian went back to LA to find out how Letty got involved. He flies back, gets himself arrested, gets himself thrown into solitary confinement, all just to talk to a mob boss and find out what bullshit they made up to justify Letty surviving the explosion that supposedly killed her. But then he returns and Dom says that information was just for him, and even Letty doesn’t care to hear about it, just accepting Brian’s apology and moving on. So that was a giant waste of time. The one-liners in the movie were hit-and-miss, but more miss than anything else. I liked Letty’s line about Team Muscle and Team Pussy, but a later line of “That ain’t a plane; it’s a planet” is just awful.

Let’s face facts: most people that are interested in this movie have no interest in the things I wrote about in the story paragraph. Hell, some of them can’t even read it. So let’s talk about the action. It was decent. The greater majority of the action in the bulk of the movie was nothing altogether spectacular to me, but I would give Fast 6 the credit for having a climax of the movie even more ridiculous and spectacular than the last movie, but it does take a little away from it that they spoil it right in the trailer. So they’ll take a plane down with cars and cables, eh? I don’t know if that’s physically possible, but I already know it’ll happen. And I didn’t even search out trailers for this movie! Spoilers were forced upon me! But I’ve also never really had that much interest in car stuff, so I started liking a little better when they threw a tank into the mix. I did think the race car was an interesting idea, using its leverage to topple opposition cars, but I also didn’t understand how it was so hard to take out when its wheels were completely exposed. The face-punching stuff was pretty good when it happened as well. The fight inside the plane was pretty exciting, and kind of reminded me of Uncharted, but I really spent the entire fight waiting for the inevitable moment when Hobbs threw down against Shaw’s giant muscle dude. I also found myself bothered by the fights between Letty and Hicks, because Letty came out on top both times. I know Letty was more the hero of the story and so she should win, but I do not accept Michelle Rodriguez winning a fight against Gina Carano. No matter how much Michelle Rodriguez acts like a man; Gina Carano would beat that ass.

Most of the performances were entirely underwhelming, as expected. Vin Diesel is rarely my cup of tea. He always talks like he’s being choked by his own neck muscles, or like the lady with a tracheotomy in the anti-smoking commercials. I’ve seen Paul Walker act once. I’ve seen him in many movies, but I’ve only seen him pull off acting once. This was not that movie. He wasn’t particularly bad in this one; he was just a non-entity. I do, however, tend to like Dwayne Johnson whenever I see him. He’s got a lot of charisma and is ripped as hell. He outshines everyone else in this movie easily, but that also doesn’t really seem like it’d be that difficult.

Fast & Furious 6 came slightly below meeting the expectations that I didn’t have for it. The story was cliché and predictable, and the acting was mostly underwhelming. The action was decent enough, and probably much more interesting to people that like action involving cars, but I personally was getting bored with most of the movie right up to the climax that was ridiculous and spectacular enough to make this movie just pass as watchable. If you like the other movies in the series, you’ve probably already seen it. Otherwise, I’d recommend this movie for a rental. Fast & Furious 6 gets “This code you live by makes you predictable” out of “If that’s what it takes. I just wanna race.”

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Dark Skies (2013)


Sooner or Later, When They’re Ready, They Will Take Your Family.

Dark Skies (2013)At the behest of my friend Tiffany, I decided to watch a movie I believed I had never heard of. When I started looking into it a little more, it turned out I actually did know what it was from the trailers, but decided I had zero interest in seeing it. I had an idea of what they were going for from what I had seen, and most of it seemed like what it was trying to call scary looked more goofy than anything else. But this was a legitimate request, and that requires a legitimate review. Plus, it seemed to be fate, since this movie started with the same Arthur C. Clarke quote about not being alone in the universe as X-Com, the game I started playing at exactly the same time. The quotes even popped up on screen about the same time! So I rented it and I present you with my review of Dark Skies, written and directed by Scott Stewart, and starring Keri Russell, Josh Hamilton, Dakota Goyo, Kadan Rockett, and J.K. Simmons.

The Barrett family – father Daniel (Josh Hamilton), mother Lacy (Keri Russell), eldest son Jesse (Dakota Goyo) and youngest son Sammy (Kadan Rockett) – are troubled. Daniel is unemployed and can’t get a job, Lacy is too honest to sell a house, Jesse is hanging out with an older kid who gets him to smoke weed and touch a girl’s titties, and Sammy pees himself and screams in public. The very last thing they’d need is a bunch of strange occurrences and alien invaders. But we do have a movie to make here, so let’s get some birds crashing into the house, let’s get Lacy to smack her face repeatedly against a window, let’s get Daniel bleeding from the nose and making strange faces, and the kids can have a few spazzy moments and bruises on their bodies. Sound good? Alright, break!

I was not a fan of this movie. Nor was I a fan of anything this director has brought to the world. He made Legion and Priest, two exceptionally mediocre action movies. This time he brought us an exceptionally mediocre thriller movie. I have been criticized before for reviewing something that I wasn’t contributing very much attention to, but I found that I couldn’t help it here. This movie just really wasn’t interesting. They spend an awful lot of time dealing with family issues, and that was just boring. And mostly didn’t even bother making sense. They’re having financial problems but they still invest in a brand new security camera system for the entire house? I understand wanting to know what is causing the troubles in your house, but you’ve spent the entire movie talking about how broke you are. You talk about getting rid of cable! I guess you have something to watch either way, so if you’re making the choice, go with the CCTV. None of the alien stuff made much sense either. At first, the aliens are just dicks. They come in and build towers out of food stuffs and pull all of the pictures out of the frames? The just want to pester humans? I agree with J. K. Simmons’ logic when he says that the aliens travelled hundreds of light years to get to Earth, so moving a couple of miles down the street or staying in a hotel room wouldn’t keep you safe from them. What I don’t agree with is saying that they have the ability to fight back. Especially when their version of fighting back is the Signs principle of fighting back. Hundreds of light years travelled, but boarded up windows, a dog, and a shotgun will fix them up real good. If only they had some random cups of water lying all over the place because of some other annoying brat, this movie would’ve had a different ending. I also didn’t appreciate how they handled the ending. The actual ending notwithstanding, what happened afterwards was irritating. They had Lacy looking through pictures and remembering thing the family had said and things Simmons had said that would indicate that Jesse was going to be taken instead of Sammy, as they previously thought. But why bother acting like this is significant information? He’s already been taken. If the whole family had made it through and THEN you started looking through the stuff, only to find out he just got abducted, then I would accept your tactics.

The performances never really made any positive impact on me. Josh Hamilton came off as mostly douche, as most husbands do in these kinds of movies. The woman usually figures out what’s going on long before the man does, and he remains incredulous despite her pleas. He acts like she was insane after he was just standing outside with a stupid look on his face and blood pouring from his nose. The blood was still crusting on his face as he told her how ludicrous she was. He even used the line, “Who are you and where is my wife?” Come on! The 80’s called, and they want their joke back. And the one I just used to mock the original joke. Keri Russell did well enough through the movie, but the part where she banged her head against the window was more goofy than anything else. I get the feeling that this was not their intention. Neither of the kids made any impact on me whatsoever.

Dark Skies is an entirely skippable movie. It’s not at all interesting, and most of what they attempt by way of scares turns out goofy. Most of the movie makes little to no sense and it ends with a whimper, though the greater majority of the movie was one long whimper. The performances only managed to fit into the stereotypes of this kind of movie. Basically what I’m saying is there is no reason I can think of to watch this movie. It’s not the worst thing ever, and wouldn’t be painful for you to watch. It just has nothing of value. Dark Skies gets “Either we are alone in the universe or we are not. Both are equally terrifying” out of “I don’t know whether to be pissed or impressed.”

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Now You See Me (2013)


Who Doesn’t Love a Good Magic Trick?

Now You See Me (2013)As the day of my birth approaches, I decided that I should not be at work as I turned 30.  Well, not at one of my jobs at least.  I would spend my vacation from one job working on the one I actually enjoy: stuff-reviewing.  The first step would be to make my way to the theaters, with my friend Greg in tow.  There were a few movies that I wanted to see in theaters, but Greg had either already seen them or had no desire.  We agreed only on today’s movie.  This movie had piqued my interest when I saw trailers for it, but I had apprehensions about it.  It seemed like an interesting enough premise, but I worried at the movie’s ability to realize that interest.  We find out how well it did as I review Now You See Me, written by Ed Solomon, Boaz Yakin, and Edward Ricourt, directed by Louis Leterrier, and starring Mark Ruffalo, Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson, Isla Fisher, Dave Franco, Mélanie Laurent, Morgan Freeman, Michael Caine, Common, Michael J. Kelly, and Elias Koteas.

A few stray tarot cards bring together four magicians – Daniel Atlas (Jesse Eisenberg), Merritt McKinney (Woody Harrelson), Henley Reeves (Isla Fisher), and Jack Wilder (Dave Franco) – with a plan to accomplish three amazing feats for a mysterious benefactor.  They become “The Four Horsemen,” sponsored by insurance magnate Arthur Tressler (Michael Caine).  For their first trick, they rob a bank in Paris and give all the money to the audience.  This attracts the attention of FBI Agent Dylan Rhodes (Mark Ruffalo) and Interpol Agent Alma Vargas (Mélanie Laurent), who need to figure out how they did it and what they intend on doing next.  For that, they enlist the help of an ex-magician who makes a living debunking other magicians, Thaddeus Bradley (Morgan Freeman).

I enjoyed this movie.  It was not without its share of problems, but I still found the experience enjoyable.  I found the premise of the movie to be the most compelling part.  The idea of magicians using their abilities for “evil” instead of their usual motivation of “pussy” was very interesting to me, and I thought it was clever how they did it.  I especially liked when Jack Wilder fought the two FBI Agents using magic as a fighting style.  I wasn’t able to figure out their Las Vegas stunt until they revealed it to us.  Their New Orleans stunt was much more predictable and much less mystifying, especially with what they did with the word “Freeze” and how easy it would be to make someone’s money move from one account to another with a simple computer, but there were still some clever ideas in there.  I feel like the problem I had with the movie was that it practically dared the audience to figure it out and to be wary of misdirection, but overall wasn’t clever enough to make it happen.  When one of the characters tells Rhodes that someone might be a spy for the magicians, you can pretty much rest assured that it won’t be either the character that told him that or the character he was talking about.  That would be too easy.  But it doesn’t leave many options, so it wasn’t that hard to figure out.  And though you might not have known how they accomplished something, you can have an idea that something was accomplished, like the part in the story with a car crash.  I didn’t know how it was faked, but it’s a movie about magic.  Of course it was faked.  I would also say that the movie started off by getting me, because I totally picked the card that Jesse Eisenberg put on the side of the building, but there’s also a chance that this could’ve been manufactured with camera tricks.  I also felt like Woody Harrelson’s mentalism stuff was mainly included for exposition, because he delivered most of the character’s backstories using that stuff.

The cast of the movie was great, with no real complaints.  They got great people so I would expect nothing less.  Jesse Eisenberg plays nervous and self-conscious better than he plays a cocky douche, but he did very well.  Isla Fisher is hot, and I heard she almost drowned at one point in this movie, so props for the commitment as well.  Woody Harrelson was pretty entertaining all the way through, and he got to be the funny one in the group most of the time.  I’ve loved me some Mark Ruffalo ever since he was the Hulk, and I found myself worried for the magicians that they might get him too angry.  They might not enjoy that.  I was also very excited to see Mélanie Laurent since I haven’t seen her since I fell in love with her in Inglourious Basterds.  Long distance relationships are always so hard…  I also got to thinking that, with both Michael Caine and Morgan Freeman in this movie, how could they not have been able to get Christian Bale (and maybe even Hugh Jackman) to come in for a pivotal scene at the end of the movie where they just yell, “THE PRESTIGE!” and dance around in circles?  It would’ve made the movie for me.  But sometimes, I just want to watch the flash paper burn…

I thought the premise of Now You See Me was great, but there just wasn’t enough magic in the storytelling.  Their clever ideas also activated the parts of the brain that cause us to try to figure out how magic is accomplished, but the story wasn’t quite polished enough to hide their secrets from me.  But their ideas were clever enough to keep me interested, and it was presented well enough and included many great performances.  I’d say this movie is definitely worth a watch.  I don’t know that I’d say it was important enough that it need be seen immediately in theaters, but it also wouldn’t hurt.  Renting it would do fine as well.  Now You See Me gets “The more you think you see, the easier it’ll be to fool you” out of “You have what we like to call in the business, ‘nothing up your sleeve.’”

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