Harry Potter and The Half Blood Prince Review

July 20, 2009

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Ahh the dog days of summer.. when its 90 degrees outside and regularly updating your blog just isn’t on the to-do list. I hope nobody holds it against me. I did however have a chance to see the sixth Harry Potter film this past weekend. It’s predictably doing well at the box office and Potter fans have something to feed their appetite until next year.

We start things off with a much darker tone in this film. London is under attack and the Death Eaters are going wild. The “muggles” or non-magic practicing humans are being openly terrorized and theres a pretty cool sequence where a bridge is destroyed. The Potter series gets progressively darker in tone in the books, and it’s great to see that the movies are headed in the same direction. It was interesting to note that the theater I saw the movie in was predominantly filled with adults and only a handful of small children. It show’s how relatable the franchise is to the everyday moviegoer, something it’s rival Twilight doesn’t seem to have going for it.

The cast is all back together, Potter (Daniel Radcliffe), Hermione (Emma Watson), and Ron Weasley (Rupert Grint) are all preparing to head back to Hogwarts and there is a sense of fear of going back as nobody knows when Voldemort will strike. There’s a pretty riveting scene in the beginning with Harry and Professor Dumbledore exploring a ransacked house. There’s also some great comedy between the three main characters and their classmates. This film does a great job of balancing dark tone and subject matter with comedy and lighthearted fun.

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Bruno Review

July 15, 2009

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Sacha Baron Cohen is back with another character from his HBO series “Da Ali G Show.” This time its the flamboyantly gay Austrian fashion expert, Bruno. I will start off by saying that this movie is not as good as Borat. There are plenty of slow parts and some boring backstory involved and the film overall doesn’t seem to have the same touch that Borat had.

In fact, it seems like too many of the gag’s are staged and that the media explosion over Cohen a couple years ago didn’t work to his favor as everyone seems to be in on the joke this time around. Bruno is unceremoniously yanked off his Austrian fashion show Fenkyziet after crashing the runway at a fashion show. He is quick to recover from this setback as he decides to do the next best thing, go to LA and become a celebrity. Bruno arrives out west looking to get into acting. After a failed audition and disasterous role in the show Law and Order, we learn that Bruno’s acting aspirations may be a bit of a stretch.

Cohen is great at having us believe in this character and you almost forget that this same person played Borat a couple years ago. There are some genuinely funny moments as Bruno’s interview with Paula Abdul, the focus group session for a show he tries to pitch to CBS, and an awkward party with a swinger’s group. Please be warned that this is in no way a family movie or meant for people who may offend easily. There’s plenty of male nudity and graphic language and images. I would not recommend this film for anyone who thought Borat was gross as this film goes above and beyond anything you could see there.

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Public Enemies Review

July 6, 2009

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Public Enemies on paper had all of the makings to be an instant classic. Johnny Depp, Christian Bale, Michael Mann, and an epic gangster story set in the depression era. What more do you need to make cinematic gold? Well apparently, a lot more. As Public Enemies was slow, tedious, and at times downright boring. It’s one of the first film’s I’ve seen in a long time that I actually regret going to the theater for it and wouldn’t mind having my time back.

Now I must preface my review by saying that this film is not a total stinker. There is some decent action scenes and you do end up caring about the characters. But theres just far too many misses to make up for the hits. Depp plays John Dillinger, a smooth talking and charming bank robber in the 1930’s. One of the first of his kind and a man who made the entire U.S. police system rethink its methods. Dillinger has a cast of cohorts straight out of a Dick Tracy comic. There’s Baby Face Nelson and Pretty Boy Floyd, as well as a bevy of buxom beauties and the brutal force of a tommy gun. This is American mobster’s at their best, unfortunately the plot isn’t strong enough to give credence to this glamorized genre.

We start off with a cool jail bust and bank robbery, but then theres about 45 minutes of talk that kills any remaining buzz you might have. The girl in this film Billie Joe is sexy but probably not enough to make Dillinger stop in his tracks. The ensuing love story is monotonous, cliche, and just plain bland. These care free lovers are off galvanizing in the night with their stolen riches, while Detective Melvin Purvis (Christian Bale) seems to always be one step behind.

Dillinger is caught, escapes, caught again, escapes again in a never ending merry go round of blood and bullets. It isn’t til the film’s third act that we finally see some sort of true climax with a pretty intense shoot out at a winter home in the woods. If only Michael Mann had the foresight to build up to this in a better way and close the film on a high note. Rather than to attach about another 30 minutes of pointless babble. In one of the film’s more eery scenes, Dillinger breaks into the police HQ of the task force assigned to bring him down. He even asks the detectives who are surrounded by wanted posters of him for the score to the ballgame, none of them noticing the criminal they seek stands right there before them.

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Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen Review

June 30, 2009

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The sequel to 2007’s Transformers has been hailed as the summer movie event of the year. After drawing an impressive $201 million this past weekend it came very close to beating The Dark Knight’s record for all time biggest 5 day opening. It’s safe to say that regardless of what my review will contain, Transformers 2 is a box office smash. After watching this film, it is quite clear that Michael Bay and company have not lost a step and that every Transformers fan to step in to the theater for this one will be more than pleased by what they see.

The critics have not been kind to this film, but I think that they really missed the point of what Transformers is all about. From the beginning to the end, this film brings an unapologetic sense of violence, action, sex, and an expansive story that spans from 17,000 BC to now. No expense is spared in the making of this film and the plot is larger than life. But for a summer blockbuster would you really have it any other way?

The film picks up 2 years after the first. We find out that the Autobots are working with the Government to track down any remaining Decepticons. Optimus Prime has become a central figure for the government and the military seems to be taking a liking to the alien lifeforms. We also find out that Sam Witwicky (Shia LeBouff) is headed off to college which will put a rift in his relationship with Mikaela (Megan Fox) who is staying in town to help out at her Dad’s auto shop.

Megan Fox is stunning from her first appearance in the film and her fan’s will not be disappointed as their is ample cleavage and slow motion running. Sam heads off to school with his comedically stereotypical parents in tow. His dorm roommate is a hacker named Leo (Ramon Rodriguez) who is the film’s easy to hate sidekick. We are also introduced to Alice (Isabel Lucas) a girl who immediately takes a liking to Sam even though he is taken, and turns out to be more than we thought she is.

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The Hangover Review

June 21, 2009

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The Hangover is the first great comedy of 2009, it only took us 6 months to get there. While the premise is quite simple and the characters are at times stereotypical, its the on-screen chemistry and mystery of the events that transpired the night before, that keeps the viewer thoroughly engaged. The audience is learning right alongside the characters about what happened and trying to figure out where their friend Doug (Justin Bartha) might be. It’s quite an interactive experience that leaves you guessing what can possibly happen next, while having you rolling in laughter at the same time.

The main chunk of this film is told through the three friends Stu (Ed Helms), Phil (Bradley Cooper), and Alan (Zach Galifianakis) who wake up with an incredible hangover and no recollection of the previous nights bachelor party. They quickly discover their friend Doug is missing who is supposed to get married in just 24 hours. The laughs are pretty much constant throughout this film. We see the boys get ready to go to vegas, bits of the road trip there, and the events leading up to their first alcoholic shot of the night. After that it’s the next morning, so we never actually get to see what transpired during the party, just bits and pieces of it as it unfolds throughout the film.

There are so many great bits with a tiger, nudity, stun guns, and yes even Mike Tyson. Heather Graham has a role as well, playing a stripper that one of the guy’s ends up marrying in their drunken haze. This film really puts the saying of “what happens in vegas, stays in vegas” to use, as they all have significant others back home who they must make sure don’t find out about the wild shenanigans. Ed Helm’s character really steals some great scenes in this film as he is in a power struggle with his wife who wants him to grow up and mature out of childish partying with the boys. Bradley Cooper’s portrayal of Phil almost seems like Cooper is just playing himself. He’s cool, confident, and the defacto leader of the group.

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“Fanboys” Review

June 5, 2009

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The movie Fanboys has almost become a highly anticipated internet legend. Originally slated to come out in theaters in 2007, the film was pushed back time after time for reshoots and finally hit a small indepedent theater release in February 2009. On May 19, the 10 year anniversary of The Phantom Menace, Fanboys finally arrived on DVD and don’t let the short theater run fool you, this film is everything you hoped it to be.

The story takes place back in 1998 when the world had yet to see any of the three new Star Wars films. The Phantom Menace is about a month away from release and a group of pals (Eric played by Sam Huntington, Hutch played by Dan Fogley, Linus played by Chris Marquette, and Windows played by Jay Baruchel) come up with a convaluted plan to trek cross country and steal the film from the Lucas Ranch for their viewing pleasure. These boys are uber Star War’s nerds who know every piece of trivia about the films and want to be the first ever to see the newest episode. As we all now know how The Phantom Menace turns out.. maybe they should have just waited for home video. It’s quite funny that the film does in fact allude to the film being disappointing and theres a pretty good Jar Jar Binks joke thrown in for good measure.

The star of this cast is Kristen Bell (Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Heroes) who plays Zoe, the typical guy’s girl that hangs out with the nerds, has beaten every game of Zelda, and brings the sarcasm to every situation. The movie is chock full of cameos. I was surprised to see Kevin Smith and Seth Rogen pop up. There’s also some great scenes with former Star Wars cast members as well, but I won’t ruin who they are. The best cameo is from a Star Trek star who you may know from some Priceline commercials.

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Star Trek Review

May 10, 2009

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The general consensus on JJ Abram’s Star Trek reboot is that this film will appeal to both new fans as well as die hard trekkies, while at the same time staying close to the source material. With rave reviews and comparison’s to last year’s powerhouses Iron Man and The Dark Knight, Star Trek has a lot of hype and goodwill going in its favor. Fortunately, it does not disappoint, the hype is certainly real with this one and Star Trek may very well be the film to beat for the summer blockbuster crown.

The film opens with some backstory on James T. Kirk’s (Chris Pine) father who is under attack from the Romulan’s and Commander Nero (Eric Bana). The film opens with a large battle scene and never loses steam throughout its running time. We see Kirk being born and escaping to safety while his father does not have the same outcome. There is also some backstory on Spock (Zachary Quinto) and his constant struggle of self identity. Being half Vulcan and half human, he never quite fits in with the others and doesn’t know which path to choose for his life. This is obviously a tried and true storytelling technique, but its something that is relatable and Zachary Quinto dominates the screen in every scene that he appears. Quinto is known mostly for his work on Heroes as bad guy Sylar, but he was almost born to play Spock.

Pine holds his own as Kirk, although there are times early in the film where you would think you are watching deleted scenes from a Fast and the Furious movie. Kirk is very much the prototypical alpha male, fast cars, breaking the law, bar fights, and women are all status quo. He of course rejects the initial offer of being invited to join the Starfleet Academy, but then immediately has a change of heart and grows to be a very successful protege in a short period of time. At Starfleet we are introduced to many of the beloved characters in the Star Trek universe. Uhura (played by the smoking hot Zoe Seldana), Scotty (Simon Pegg), McCoy (Karl Urban), Chekov, and Sulu (John Cho) are all part of the crew on the U.S.S. Enterprise.

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