Friday, November 1, 2013

Film Friday: A Random Bunch of Rented Movies

Opening Credits
I've watched a number of movies lately, be they rentals over the internet, acquired at a Redbox kiosk, or found via the magic of Netflix. I thought it would be fun to review them in no particular order as while I haven't been to a movie theater for a bit, I have seen plenty of flicks sitting on the couch. Without further ado, I present to you a bunch of random movies!

Olympus Has Fallen

There are action movies you have to switch off your brain to enjoy, and then there are the kind of films that basically require you to be utterly brain-dead when it comes to any form of logic. Should you be able to completely and without question accept this film's way of showing things, with a single plane somehow getting past our air security, assaulting the white house, and then a weird kind of ground-invasion taking place with the result of course being where only ONE MAN can save the President...then yeah, this is kind of fun.

The cast is pretty good too. Gerard Butler has his ruggedly good looks, Aaron Eckert plays the Prez decently, and Morgan Freeman seems criminally under-utilized, but let's be honest, you aren't seeing this movie for the acting--you're seeing this because you want to watch shit blow up even if its the White House, but that's okay because in the end America comes out on top and boy aren't we awesome, USA, USA, USA!
Yeah, I play an evil jerk in this movie, it's a living.
Oh, I almost to forgot to mention how I knew from the first moment I saw him that Dylan McDermott was going to be a bad guy, because lately when it seems you need someone to be the villain, he's the go-to guy (see the TV show "Hostages" for proof). Obvious villain and lack of any common-sense aside, I kind of enjoyed this in a guilty-pleasure sort of way.
3 out of 5 stars.

The Lords of Salem
Rob Zombie made the mostly-mediocre movie, "House of a 1000 Corpses" that had some flashes of genius but generally was a bit of a slog. He also made the quite impressively good, "The Devil's Rejects" which despite some issues (many aspects are heavily cribbed from other movies, such as the insane sheriff bringing back memories of "Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2") is definitely a flick I would say is solid horror-viewing. I skipped Zombie's "Halloween" remakes because I'd rather just watch the originals than a remake, but I was excited for "The Lords of Salem" in the hopes I would get more of that "Devil's Rejects" magic. I didn't.

You can imagine how disappointed I was when instead of the often clever dialogue in "Devil's Rejects" I received over-the-top melodrama. Instead of the creative imagery of "Devil's Rejects" flick I got a random confusing mess of pictures. Plus the plot was basically garbage, and all-in-all I was extremely let down. There are at least a few tense moments, but mostly I would say this is a waste of time.
1 out of 5 stars.

This movie does pretty good justice (get it?) to the famous comic-character. Its futuristic but feels grounded, gritty and violent, but with some moments of levity to help relieve tension. The basic plot is that Dredd and a rookie cop/"Judge" become trapped in a 200-story apartment complex and have to fight their way out. Yes, this plot is a bit like, "The Raid: Redemption" and folk have actually accused each movie of ripping the other off at various points in time. Both are fine movies however so why bother comparing them when instead you can just enjoy the snazzy slo-mo gunfights in "Dredd" and kung-fu in "The Raid"? If you enjoy action movies, do give "Dredd" a try.
3.5 out of 5 stars.

Pain & Gain

Michael Bay is a director known for various quirks. He likes to do quick-cuts, his movies go on a bit too long, and there has never been an over-the-top action sequence he would hesitate to throw in. Pain & Gain is actually pretty enjoyable however because Bay seems to tone down things and instead focus on a more human tale, that is all the more interesting due to how much of it comes from a an absurdly true story during which body-builders formed a gang and committed increasingly heinous crimes.

Bay does a solid job of making our protagonists sympathetic enough that we still like them  even as their actions get increasingly violent and unforgivable until things get to a point where you have to ask, "Really? They were this sociopathic and stupid?" and then find out that yes, they were. "Pain & Gain" is a movie that runs too long, is full of jokes that seem to miss a bit more than they hit, but is made well enough that you feel like you at least had some fun when its over.
3 out of 5 stars.

InAPPropriate Comedy
Well, this was terrible. Even though almost everyone hated another comedy-sketch movie that came out recently, "Movie 43," I thought it at least had its moments of being at least kind of funny. This film however, often just takes a punch-line that is barely humorous as it is and then milks it until the metaphorical cow has long since gone dry. A spoof of Jackass with an all-black cast called, "Blackass"? Okay, but then you do "skits" with that idea it loses any humor beyond relying on racial jokes. Speaking of racial jokes, "The Amazing Racist" with a guy going around being a huge racist again elicits a small chuckle at first, and then keeps going and going, and going until you just want each bit to end.
Oh, you think Asians can't drive? Okay.
You're going to do this joke for 10 or so minutes? No thanks.
As for other segments, Adrien Brody--who actually has a Best Actor award from the Oscars, keep that in mind--appears in some barely funny shorts where he plays a gay version of Dirty Harry known as, "Flirty Harry," and that too wears out its welcome when it becomes apparent we're getting little more than barely-disguised puns as our jokes. The less said about Rob Schneider and Michelle Rodriguez as porn-critics the better for that DOA bit, and Lindsay Lohan's brief appearance in the movie wasn't entertaining so much as it made me marvel at how bad she looks these days--the years of drug and alcohol use definitely have taken their toll.

There are some ever-so-brief glimpses of actual humor, such as bit where Schneider serves as a Psychiatrist to a former sex and drug-addict and he seems more interested in the sex and drugs than helping her, and the riff on "127 hours" at the beginning made me smile, but those are tiny nuggets of joy in a steaming pile of misery.  Unless you want to not laugh for 80-ish minutes (which felt like forever) you should avoid this film at all costs.
0.5 out of 5 stars.

This is the End
I thought this would be funnier, considering the cast. It was pretty below-average though. That's pretty much all I have to say about that.
2 out of 5 stars.

Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox

I actually found the comic-event, "Flashpoint" to be a lot of fun even if in the end it was used more as an excuse for DC to reboot their Universe into the "Nu52" than it was an exercise in creating a solid story. That said, this movie actually might be better than the comic because it doesn't have all the tie-ins weighing it down, and instead the key points and characters can be focused on.

The animation is solid, and even though I've never been a huge fan of any version of the Flash (well, I did have a slight soft-spot for Wally West), I found Barry Allen engaging enough that I wanted things to work out well for him, plus the Batman of this altered-world is just as interesting in the movie as he is in the comics. This is definitely worth checking out.
4 out of 5 stars.

Ending Credits
I've seen some movies I liked, and others I loathed, but to truly appreciate films I guess you need to see both the good and the bad.

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