Saturday, March 17, 2012

21 Jump Street

Title: 21 Jump Street
Directed by: Phil Lord, Chris Miller
Starring: Jonah Hill, Channing Tatum, Ice Cube
Genres: Comedy, Action/Adventure, Adaptation
Running Time: 1 hour. 35 minutes
Release Date: March 16th, 2012
MPAA Rating: R

Review: For the last few weeks, every commercial break seems to have included a '21 Jump Street' trailer. And they been hilarious. But still, the trailer-bombing made me suspect '21 Jump Street' might suck. You know the type type of movie that looks hilarious in the trailers, but when you watch the film, you realize every single scene worth watching was already used in the trailer. The rest of the film is shit. Yeah, those suck.

However, '21 Jump Street' is NOT one of those films. '21 Jump Street' really is hilarious! I haven't laughed out loud this much in the movie theater for ages. In fact, every single person in the audience were laughing hysterically. There was no way to avoid it. The plot line is pretty weak, granted, but it is really the performances of the cast, and the bromance chemistry between Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum that makes '21 Jump Street' so hilarious.

Personally, I can't wait to own this baby on Blueray.

Grade: 8.5

Friday, February 10, 2012

Safe House

Title: Safe House
Directed by: Daniel Espinosa
Starring: Denzel Washington, Ryan Reynolds, Brendan Gleeson, Sam Shepherd, Vera Farmiga
Genres: Thriller, Action/Adventure
Running Time: 1 hour. 55 minutes
Release Date: February 10th, 2012
MPAA Rating: R

Review: 'Safe House' is rapid paced and action packed, almost to the point of too much. The majority of the film is gun fights, fist fights, car chases, or a combination thereof. I do wish they would have spent less time fighting, and more time exploring these characters. The small portion of the close-to-2-hour film spent on character development laid the groundwork for some fairly strong characters, especially considering the caliber of the cast. It is easy to see the potential of how great this film could have been, and while it does not quite reach that potential, it is still a really good film.

Denzel Washington puts in a solid performance, and Ryan Reynolds is actually, surprisingly, a pretty good in the action genre, something that I found somewhat unexpected, considering his usual fare of rom-coms opposite the likes of Sandra Bullock.

'Safe House' is definitely worth seeing, if you like action thrillers.
Grade: 7.5

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Big Miracle

Title: Big Miracle
Directed by: Ken Kwapis
Starring: Drew Barrymore, John Krasinski, Dermot Mulroney, Kristen Bell, Tim Blake Nelson, Vinessa Shaw
Genres: Adaptation, Drama, Family
Running Time: 1 hour. 47 minutes
Release Date: February 3rd, 2012
MPAA Rating: PG

Review: 'Big Miracle' is a family film, based on the true story of a small town news reporter and a Greenpeace volunteer who join forces with some unlikely allies to save a family of gray whales trapped by rapidly forming ice in Alaska. It has a great story, a great cast (Hello, Kristen Bell, Drew Barrymore, and John Krasinski!), and some really funny moments. It's not called 'Big Miracle' for nothing.

All things considered, 'Big Miracle' is a heartwarming family film, suitable for kids and adults alike. And while it does occasionally tug at the heart strings, and might even well up an eye or two here and there, it is not a sad story overall. I will admit to having shed a couple of tears, but I'm pretty soft-hearted, particularly when it pertains to animals, and I still left the theater uplifted. I would recommend seeing 'Big Miracle', and if you don't in the theaters, definitely see it on DVD.

P.s. Do not walk out as soon as the credits start rolling, or you will miss the side-by-side comparison of the real deal versus the film, which was quite entertaining.
Grade: 7.5

Wednesday, February 8, 2012


Title: Chronicle
Directed by: Joshua Trank
Starring: Dane Dehaan, Michael B. Jordan, Ashley Hinshaw, Michael Kelly
Genres: Science Fiction/Fantasy, Thriller, Drama
Running Time: 1 hour. 24 minutes
Release Date: February 3rd, 2012
MPAA Rating: PG-13

Review: I saw 'Chronicle' yesterday. It tells the story of 3 teenage boys who develop unique abilities after being exposed to some mystery item. What follows is their exploration of their new power while documenting everything with their video camera. Having the story told Blairewitch Project-style really suited the story, but depending if you like that style of film or not, it might be a deal breaker.

The backdrop of the story is the pre-power teenage lives of these boys. High school, popularity, bullying, parental abuse, parental alcoholism, and a very sick mom. You can clearly see how each of their backgrounds really influenced how they handle their new power. The reaction of the boys was actually one of the strongest parts of the film. They are irresponsible, childish, careless and full of hybris. The troubled kid, well portrayed by Dane DeHaan, drives the film, and his reactions were particular realistic and believable. DeHaan kind of reminded me of a young DiCaprio.

Personally, I found 'Chronicle' extremely depressing.

The target audience of this flick is of course teenage kids, as it should be. I find it unlikely anyone else would actually like this film. I recommend passing on this one, unless you are in fact part of that target market.
Grade: 6

Monday, January 23, 2012


Title: Haywire
Directed by: Steven Soderberg
Starring: Gina Carano, Michael Douglas, Ewan McGregor, Channing Tatum, Michael Fassbender
Genres: Action/Adventure, Thriller
Running Time: 1 hour. 33 minutes
Release Date: January 20th, 2012
MPAA Rating: R

Review: I thought 'Haywire' might be an interesting action flick, given that the female lead is played by Gina Carano, a retired MMA fighter (and x-gladiator). Add a cast of Michael Douglas, Ewan McGregor, among others, and directorial by Steven Soderberg and you might have yourself a good film.

Unfortunately, not.
Honestly, I almost walked out, and that is not something that happens every day.

'Haywire' is a strange collection of Gina Carano running over rooftops to the sound of [nothing but] odd plinky-plonky music, a few driving scenes, a number of overly choreographed, and rather ridiculous looking fight scenes, and a whole lot of surprisingly terrible acting. 'Haywire' contains about ten lines of dialogue in the entire film. The overall experience is that of watching a really crappy movie on mute, while listening to horrid 60s elevator music.

Skip this one, it's a waste of it's hour 33, and you could do something better with your time.
Grade: 5

Sunday, January 22, 2012


Title: Contraband
Directed by: Baltasar Kormàkur
Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Kate Beckinsale, Ben Foster, Giovanni Ribisi, Lukas Haas, Caleb Landry Jones
Genres: Action/Adventure, Crime, Remake, Thriller
Running Time: 1 hour. 50 minutes
Release Date: January 13th, 2012
MPAA Rating: R

Review: Walking into the theater, I had low expectations for 'Contraband'. It appeared to be the typical generic crime flick, with a so-so cast. And at the beginning of the movie, I found it to be very much in line with those expectations. The start was slow, and nothing beyond the ordinary, dime-a-dozen action flick. But as the story continued, I found my self sucked in, at the edge of my seat even. By the time the credits rolled, I found myself positively surprised by this film.

So what sets 'Contraband' apart from it's mass of generic siblings? Instead of the usual action-centric mix of intricate fight scenes and explosive car chases, 'Contraband' tries to be a bit more subtle. While it does have some fight scenes, as well as a car chase or two, the focus is not to dazzle teenage boys with cool angles coving expensive cars exploding. Instead, this is the type of sneak-up-on-you thriller, with an ending that will have you holding your breath. All in all, an above average crime flick, with a so-so cast doing a better than so-so job.

Grade: 7