Wednesday, July 17, 2013

One Minute Movie Review: Escape from Planet Earth

Callan Brunker makes his directorial debut with this sci-fi CGI animated feature starring the voices and personalities of The Mummy's Brendan Fraser, Sarah Jessica Parker, Jessica Alba, George Lopez, The one and only William Shatner, and Glee's Jane Lynch among others.  You would think with that amount of A and B grade star power you might have a pretty decent flick.   You would think, not so much this time around though.  It possess an original and intriguing concept, but again, fails to deliver on all of its potential.  What could have been a hilarious parody of itself and other fantasy fare inside of a fun kid flick, reduces itself to a bland and predictable, unfunny, cartoon feature that stretches itself longer than the material provided.   It achieves some briefly cute moments, but overall, it just doesn't come together as it should.  The paychecks were apparently bigger than the story and the talent who received them.   You can blame the script and story, but its the actors that flesh it out and the good ones, the genuinely good ones, can make even the worst script digestible.  Now this is not a complete fail, my kids, four and seven, enjoyed it and watched it all the way through which is worth some kudos but as an adult, in all honesty, it was a tough 89 minutes.  1 out of 3 Kernels: it appears that making a solid film might have been alien to this new director, get it, alien, hey that line was funnier than most of the schtick in this movie.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

One Minute Movie Review: Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters

Tommy Workola, the director of such non blockbusters as Kill Buljo and Dead Snow, and if you haven't heard of either of those films you are in excellent company, brings us his re-envisioning of the classic Brothers Grimm German fairy-tale.   That reboot includes one of the most poorly written scripts, requiring excessive profanity just to keep it interesting, mechanized acting, and some of the silliest special effects since the SYFY channel used balloons filled with paint, in their made for TV masterpieces, note the sarcasm, in order to portray exploding heads, and yes you read that correctly.     Although the premise is somewhat unique and intriguing, Workola does little to keep it engaging or entertaining and based of his earlier cinematic incarnations there is little guesswork as to why.  It is astounding who Hollywood bank rolls now a days.   Jeremy Renner needs to seriously reconsider his agent's sanity as he continues to take horrifically bad role after role ever since his brief stint as the famed Avenger's archer and Gemma Arterton has all the charisma and talent of day old bread.  The remaining cast is as effective in this celluloid train wreck.   The special effects, as mentioned earlier, are goofy, not on purpose, which is probably the saddest part of this disaster as I am sure they were designed to carry the picture. This was a nifty idea, given to the wrong person, a fate that befalls much of the trash, that may have once been treasure, filling the screens of most movie houses.    0 out of 5 Kernels: With the lack of originality in Hollywood, I am almost certain we will see a Lucky Charms or Cinnamon Toast Crunch movie in the very near future.  

One Minute Movie Review: Pacific Rim

This is one of those flicks you just have to see, on the big screen, to truly appreciate its scope and staggering effects which are the lone stars of the show.  You have to go into this with the understanding that this is a movie about cool arss, gigantic robots (called Jaegers), fighting even cooler monsters (called Kaiju) that sets the CGI bar higher than any film to date.  If you go in expecting anything else; like compelling and authentic performances, a complex story, or even spurts of humor, you will be sadly disappointed.   This is a film about Godzilla's extended family having a world wide throw down with the Power Rangers for adults, portrayed in epic proportion with mind boggling battle sequences, nothing more, nothing less.   All the characters remain two dimensional, without any real connection with the audience.  Their back stories, though present, never engage the viewer and, the special effects overshadow any attempt at plot or character depth.    There are some very sleek plot devices, like the Drift and the Kaiju origins, but they are only quickly passed by and not explored to their fullest story potential.   But it is hard, as a fan-boy, to be overtly critical about a film that features a skyscraper size Mech beating down an equally sizeable behemoth using a battleship as a club.   Now that is what cinema is all about, certainly makes the twelve bucks I spent a little less painful.  Yes, I long for the days that featured realistic and entertaining comradery in the midst of insurmountable odds and near Armageddon like such films as Armageddon, Die Hard, Independence Day, the original Star Wars trilogy, and their like.  Yes,  they were campy and somewhat predictable, but they had, something today’s productions are sadly missing, heart and soul.  You rooted for the heroes, despised the villains, and even though you knew the good guys would most certainly win in the end, you sat on the edge of your seat until the end credits rolled.    Hollywood has totally lost touch with the public, and with each film, that becomes more and more apparent as their inability to relate to the common man is undeniable.    Powerful effects are easy, compared to creating realistic drama, story, and character evolution.  3 out of 5 Kernels; c’mon, a flippin’ Jaeger, slaps down a Kajiu with a freakin' battleship, nough said.  

Monday, July 8, 2013

One Minute Movie Review: Despicable Me 2

Rarely does a sequel surpass its predecessor in story, quality, humor, and entertainment.  This follow up, to one of the most innovative and endearing productions in the sheer litany of CGI features, proves that point.  Despite that, the movie is not a total loss, although much of the character and magic of the first is replaced by an over abundance of slapstick and an underwhelming story.  The major issue, this felt like a sequel, in which they tried to do way too much in too little time.  In doing so, several key plot points that should have been explored are, instead, simply glossed over.  Now, I know I am being a bit harsh in my criticism, especially for an animated feature, but the original was so unique and engaging that it raised the bar among its ilk.   Although, I enjoyed the greater Minion exposure and there were some definitive laugh out loud moments, the overall production fell short.  Even Carell's performance was somewhat lackluster, and the new comers didn't fare any better.  In saying all this, my children noticed none of the issues I saw, and giggled and cackled throughout the movie.  They even recognizing an 80's boy band parody that I thought only us old folks would get a kick out of.  And yes, if you were a teen in the 80's you are old, get over it.    So with that in mind, I can not, in good conscious, completely pan the film.  3 out of 5 Kernels: I will probably own the Blu-Ray, forced to watch it ad nauseam as my 5 year desperately attempts to mimic the language of the Minions, to which he seems to perfectly understand.  Did I mention I am getting older?