Sunday, November 27, 2011

One Minute Movie Review: Breaking Dawn Part 1

First, and foremost, I want all to understand, my only purpose in viewing these movies, is to make my wife happy. As most of my fellow, loving husbands will agree, when the wife is happy, everyone is happy. So expectations for this film were lower than Lindsey Lohan's sense of self and tolerance for alcohol. With that said, I will try to be as subjective as possible. As far as the franchise goes, this is the best of the four, which may not be saying much at all in comparison. This installment could very well stand alone among its predecessors. It possesses; engaging storytelling, fluid, natural, and sometimes raw, performances, effective chemistry among its characters, and action sequences that contain decent levels of testosterone. Now, keep in mind, this is the series that reduced vampires to brooding, love lorn, "sparklers, and werewolves to whiny, clumsy, consistently shirtless, back street boys. The main wolf, Jacob, obsessed with Bella, is bordering on a restraining order. The most applaud worthy aspect of this adaptation is the superior make up effects that gradually transform the young, naive, and lovestruck Bella into literally death warmed over and one particularly gruesome birthing scene. The special effects used to create the lycans is sleek and stylish, as well, although they are apparently the most repulsive aspect of the film to the original author. For a fourteen year old girl, this is a masterpiece. A 30 something wife thinks this is one of the best films she has ever seen. A 40 some male grins and bears it, thanking God for smart phones with Internet access that, fortunately, work in the theater. Stay for the credits, as the Voltaire make an appearance, which was a little goofy. The final installment is due out in a year, which for the fans is probably a lifetime. 3 out of 5 Kernels: yes I gave it a three, I am just as surprised as your are, if only they did not make them sparkle, geesh!

One Minute Movie Review: Puss in Boots

The first two Shrek films were absolute classics in their own right. Myers created characters that have both endeared and endured woven into a story that created a well balanced tapestry of humor and heart. However, the third and fourth installments are simply horrid, losing all the freshness and humor of their rpedescessors, replacing them with corny jokes and parodies and inferior plot devices. This newest conquest is no exception. To think that the stories of Humpty Dumpty and Jack and the Beanstalk combined would appeal to anyone was a stretch, to begin with, especially the writers of this cat-astrophe utilized them. Why the so called creative team thought that a movie about Puss in Boots should not tell the story of Puss in Boots from literature escapes me, but most recent ideas floating about in Hollywood usually do, and judging by box office numbers I am not alone. The comedic timing is off, the plot is uninspiring and silly, the action is okay, and the acting is mediocre at best. It had a lot of potential but utterly miss the mark. These boots were made for walking, but they limped along at best. Like a Bobby Ewing shower scene, pretend all the later flicks in this series are an awful dream, and focus on the original movies that are true cinematic gold. 2 out of 5 Kernels: this film is a little better than watching Puss cough up a hair ball.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

One Minute Movie Review: How to Train Your Dragon: Gift of the Night Fury and The Book of Dragons

The original, is by far, one of my favorite CGI animated films to date. My children positively loved it. So I was excited when I heard that these "shorts" had been released; however, that was tempered by a history of similiar endeavours falling far short of their originals. I am happy to report, these featurettes deliver in every way. They capture the feel, creativity, and fantasy of the first film, adding a new and exciting layer to the tale which hopefully will not replace the possibility of a true sequel. The Gift of the Night Fury is the best of the two titles and has a sincere, beautiful, and engaging story. The characters, in both 30 minute stories, are thoroughly entertaining, emersing you in their world with ease.  The GCI is remarkable in scope and quality. With attention to detail, sweeping backdrops, and unique characters, this film flies high above all of peers. The Book of Dragons combines the two artforms , creating a short that is quirky and entertaining.  Look for some cool extra features. 4 out of 5 Kernels: a true delight for adults and children alike.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

One Minute Movie Review: Green Lantern

As the glut, of comic book movies finally begins to roll to an end (unless a Hawkman or Aquaman movie is in the works), it seems the wheat is separating from the chaff and the cream is rising to the top. Marvel and DC are now in a dead heat to see who can turn out the best retelling of their comic fare. As the tally continues, Marvel has scored with Thor, Captain America, and Ironman, while DC has had hits and misses with the Batman franchise revamp and RED debut as significant wins and the Superman reboot and Losers effort being critical fails. Now DC has moved into the lesser known, but equally compelling B list characters that do not generate the same mainstream following as the Dark Knight or Krypton's finest has. Green Lantern is such a hero, who is better known among fandom (or geekdom depending on your point of view) rather than the general public. With this feature, DC scores a small victory. The real highlight of this movie is the special effects which are exquisite, creating a world that rivals Pandora. Rather than stand on that alone, as most films of this category, unfortunately, rely on, the director throws a curveball and weaves a quite imaginative and engaging story with solid acting and character development. The action sequences are cool and exciting and in a fascinating and unexpected move the film becomes downright creepy at times. Ryan Reynolds has quickly moved from quirky sitcom star to action film wannabe and quite handily holds up the story and film. He has a sharp and quick wit displayed in all his portrayals with his interpretation of Hal Jordan being no exception. The most notable thing to remember is this is a comic book flick, so any expectation for Oscar level performance or storytelling should be checked at the door. 3 out of 5 Kernels; definitively one of few at the top of the class and managed to leave room for the predictable sequel in a "as corn free" way as possible.

One Minute Movie Review: Horrible Bosses

I was told this movie lived up to its name, at least the horrible part.  So I went into this with extremely low expectations, that is, possibly, why I was more impressed with it then most.   A definitive guy film, with profanity in abundance, sexually charged innuendoes and comments that would make Dr. Ruth blush, and the ridiculous notion that Jason Sudeikis is a player and can score with anyone woman he chooses.  That last fact may make it more of a fantasy film, whatever.   The humor was not half bad, and the story, though confused and chaotic, was entertaining.   I think the most endearing aspect, if I can use that word in reference to such a feature, is the acting and chemistry between all the characters.   Bateman has perfected the straight man bit, ala Lou Costello.   Day plays his role like a rabid hamster who has just been neutered (the reference will be understood after watching the movie).   I have already mentioned Sudeikis role as the irresistible lady's man, which is as, believable as Sudeikis as an Oscar winner.   Spacey, Anniston, and Farrel play their parts with such momentum that they truly propel the film forward.   There is a sick satisfaction that is evident in their portrayals, deriving enormous pleasure in behaving badly.  The quick, witty, and generally funny banter between the three leads is the most effective and entertaining aspect of the film, and these three have perfected that style of comedic timing and dialogue.  The ending is anti climatic and goofy, but this vehicle should be judged on the overall ride and handling.  It is not the Ferrari of comedies but , at best,  a fully equipped Camaro.  Without a doubt, not for the kiddies, in fact, do not even put the DVD in any proximity to them.  2 out of 5 Kernels;   not horrible, a little stronger than tolerable, and somewhere between amusing and outright silly.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

One Minute Movie Review: Judy Moody and the Not Bummer Summer

There is a plethora of kiddie movies out there, and in my experience, the quality seems to worsen film to film. The plots, acting, and overall feel of these flicks are so goofy and disorganized that they quickly devolve from entertainment to annoyance. I understand the direction at the younger set, but that does not negate the fact that they should be at least tolerable by parents forced to participate. My daughter, 6, loved it of course, so it scored big with her because of the juvenile humor, never ending slapstick, and erratic characters. My 3 year old son, however, lost interest in about 15 seconds. For those who desire a mindless romp that has no cohesiveness or point than absolutely rent this feature. There are, however, many children’s' films that engage in a dynamic manner without sacrificing their quality or producing mind numbing dribble. It seems Hollywood now believes that this what the public deserves, and how I long for the days of Charlotte's Web, The Never-ending Story, The Peanuts Episodes, and their like.  1 out of 5 Kernels, any Disney film, would be a better alternative.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

I am exceedingly happy to report I am permanently changing my political affiliation to Independent. I no longer support the Republican establishment which is just as corrupt as the Democratic machine. I have also decided that if Romney is the nomination, he will not get my vote. I would rather send a message to the establishment that I want neither Mitt the Cyborg or the Hillbilly Hick Perry, or let the GOP fat cats continue their standard M.O of saying much and doing little. The Karl Rove's of the world who brought us the worst Republican president in history, in George Bush the latter, will not steer my choice or will his cronies, who serve their own agendas and have no real desire to improve or change the system that has brought us to this brink. Furthermore, I believe we should bring every solider home. Until we get this country's priorities straight, there is no need to sacrifice another one of this nation's brave men and women's lives for the sake of; wars we have no intention on winning, to assist allies who act like enemies, and to give terrorists more rights and better conditions than the criminals in this country's justice system. We need to; reduce taxes, discipline spending, rework all entitlement programs to return us to a culture of accountability and personal discipline, become fully energy independent, limit terms in order to end the opportunity for career politicians to become career politicians, end the power of lobbyists, bring about TORT reform to take control away from the trial lawyers, remove the government's stranglehold on this economy and private businesses, and reduce the pay and benefits to all those who serve in congress. That, my friends, should only be the beginning. If we continue to accept the same ole same ole, we will have no one, but ourselves to blame when freedoms become a mere memory. A reality we face, in greater abundance, every day. Occupy that!

The Gospel of Rocky

 1) Just because you are taking a licking, doesn't mean you are losing
2) To win means to believe in something greater than yourself
3) The only bums in life, are those who choose to be bums
4) The only losers are those who never try
5) Real victory comes from the love of a good woman
6) Respect your opponent and never underestimate yourself
7) Champions choose to be champions
8) Anything can be accomplished through the sweat of hard work and perseverance
9) The most important piece of equipment required to win is heart

and most importantly, according to Mickey...

10) "There ain't no can't!"

Sunday, November 6, 2011

One Minute Movie Review: Let Me In

Based on the award-winning Swedish movie Let the Right One In, which was adapted from the best seller by John Ajvide Lindqvist, this Americanized version is both subtley and effectively terrifying.  This film is deeply troubling, darkly eerie, intensely engaging, at times almost unbearably uncomfortable to watch, and immerses the viewer in a world of constant loneliness and hopelessness. With all this considered, it is, without a doubt, an instant horror classic. The story replaces the cheap thrills, quick shocks, corny dialogue, and gore galore of other like features with suspense, haunting and captivating characters, and the emanation of the overwhelming sense of increasing desperation. A villain has never been portrayed with such innocence and malevolence simultaneously. Chloe Moretz is light years ahead in her talent compared to others of her age, or most in Hollywood, for that matter and Kodi Smit-McPhee delivers a performance that is flawless, real, and unrelenting. You do not watch this film; you are entranced by it. It grabs you, addicts you, and then forces you to grapple with concepts that violate sensibility, as the audience becomes a voyeur, hopelessly ogling, the undeniable decent of innocence into the bowels of evil that serves as the only escape from the characters undeniable lifetime of misery and torment, which in itself is a contradiction. The film makes you think, and few cinematic expressions do so anymore. This is the return of the true Horror genre, leaving the audience to think more than mindlessly stare, and to leave with its rich symbolism and haunting tones and ideas still in tow.  4 out of 5 Kernels;  a modern masterpiece of suspense in a world of uncreative gore fests, unimaginative creature focused blockbusters, over the top effects, and aimless sequels that seem Walmartesque in their assembly line, one size fits all, glut like existence.

One Minute Movie Review: Winnie The Pooh (2011)

While a young'en the VCR was introduced. We were one of the first on the block to own one and the Atari 2600, oh the memories. One of the first movies my father brought home for us was the original 1977 version and I remember, even as a young boy, sitting there mesmerized at the screen, immersed in the many adventures of Pooh and his friends. I am embarrassed to admit, years after, I still have those moments, where the classic tune, "I'm just a little black rain cloud," pops into my head. So I was excited when the initial write ups for this 2011 release indicated the return of the series to its traditional roots. This was my chance to see if my children, 3 and 6, would have the same reaction as I did many moons ago. So I placed it in my DVD player and hoped for the best. I am happy to report, their eyes never left the screen, lost in the hijinks of that silly ole' bear, Tigger, Piglet, Eeyore, and Christopher Robbins. Suddenly, that warm, soothing blanket of nostalgia covered me like so many Snuggies. Add in hot chocolate and popcorn creating a memory that I will never forget. As a bonus, Pooh as the little black rain cloud returned in a short clip as a special feature, completing the experience for my children. It is positively refreshing to witness that some of life’s little pleasures can still stand the test of time and breech the generational gap. 4 out 5 stars; one of those films that truly create a moment, a precious rarity.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

One Minute Movie Review: The Fifth Quarter

This is one of those movies you look forward to seeing but afterward leave with the nagging sense that they entirely missed the boat. There just could have been so much more accomplished. A film, I can honestly say, that fails in comparison to the trailer. Rather than a well constructed story, (based on a true story, so they already had it spelled out for them), with dynamic acting, heartbreaking drama, and hopeful anticipation, the audience ends up with a hodgepodge of ideas that are either coherent or satisfying. The film cannot make up its mind on whether it wants to be an attempt at moving tale of a family's journey from tragedy to triumph or a docudrama about Wake Forest's most successful and historic football season. In the end, it tries to do both unsuccessfully, lacking in any emotional engagement or fluid storytelling, instead creating a final product that is a movie riddled with highlight footage and not much else. The cast, which is rich in acting talent, is as engaging and effective as swimming in glue. They either lack the capacity or desire to make this story passionate and heartfelt. The editor had a field day in cutting this film together like a Raggedy Ann doll that just emerged from a wood chipper. The scenes are lackluster, lack any continuity, never focus on the workings of the inner family, and leave more questions than answers. It all feels like they had a plethora of football clips and decided to join the dramatic scenes as filler rather than focus. It was disappointing, to say the most, and here was never any connection with the characters or the plot. 1 out of 5 Kernels, this would have been a truly inspirational story if they fully utilized the inspirational true story.