Sunday, December 23, 2012

Movie Reviews - 2011

    Scott Pilgrim vs. the World

    I'm sure this movie was targeted at a younger dudes than me, but I really liked it. Clever humour, excellent casting and characters, music highlights and comic book playfulness. A weird blend of a movie that really worked.
    Sex and the City 2
    I'm sure I'll get a lot of flak from the lads for this, but I'll give it a 6. Definitely better than the 3.9 (out of 10) on IMDB. I enjoyed it, but then again, I like watching fashion shows, flipping thru Architectural Digest and dreaming of exotic locations.
    The American
    The American (2010)
    Wasn't expecting much, but Clooney's superb acting kept me glued. Pseudo-film-noir perhaps; great performances and emotion all around with delicious sexual tension.
    Nanny McPhee Returns
    how can you not love a movie with flying pigs and a superb all-star cast; and WWII heartache. Gyllenhaal's accent was awful, but Ifans physical humour made up for it.
    Inside Job
    Inside Job (2010)
    can't say I followed all the stats; but what I did get was frightening, especially Wall Street influence on big universities. Even after all the probs of 2008 and today's situation, there doesn't appear to be any real changes that will improve world/US economics any time soon.
    Love and Other Drugs
    More of sex-com rather than a rom-com; well played out, especially the versatile Hathaway. Interesting premise and setting that adds a welcome depth to the genre, very entertaining.
    The Education of Dee Dee Ricks
    Not the deepest of docs, but lots of genuine heart felt feeling; super wealth doesn't take away from her bravery and her drive to do good.
    Battle: Los Angeles
    Action was pretty good; aliens were pretty scary adversaries; and tension was pretty high throughout. If only they could have avoided trying to deliver the weighty multi-liners - awful. Still pretty entertaining.
    Hot Tub Time Machine
    My friend actually summed it up very well this morning ...great movie. The funny 80's references were great, as was the old friends aspect of the movie. Silly, predictable, crude and rude with new wave 80's soundtrack; Rob Corddry (from the Daily Show) was a standout - brilliant; Lizzy Caplan captivating. And there's a music coincidence here as well.
    127 Hours
    127 Hours (2010)
    Much better than I expected. Yes "the" scene was pretty horrific, but Franco really did a superb job portraying this interesting character and making the story very believable. And as other reviewers mention, beautiful visuals.
    The Crazies
    The Crazies (2010)
    Fun formula horror flick. Pretty poor acting, but some decent tension and a good scare.
    Simon And Garfunkel - The Harmony Game
    Took me right back to Sunday afternoons when I was growing up. Can't say I'm a fan, but man, they had a beautiful sound, worth a re-listen. Great doc on pure music genius.
    Red (2010)
    Good action fun from eclectic cast. Looked like Helen Mirren enjoyed being out of her element and letting lose with the firearms.
    The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest
    Fabulous final installment in the wonderful adapted trilogy. Characters continued to evolve and entertain to the very end. Superb storytelling and acting. Not sure how this would be reviewed in isolation - if you have the time, all three in order is my recommendation. Note that the Hollywood version of ...Dragon Tattoo will be released this Christmas, previews look good and appear to respect the original.
    WarGames (War Games)
    Really enjoyed re-watching this 80's classic with my son - he said it's the best movie he's ever seen ! Loved being taken back to a time of 8" floppy disks, dial-up modems; rotary phones; and seeing Broderick and Sheedy in their prime. A classic celluloid landmark for my generation, perhaps even more entertaining now with the retro-tech element. Available on Netflix Canada.
    Senna (2010)
    Superb documentary - perfect blend of the man and the intriguing world of Formula 1. Impressed how well they chose the segments and his words, great to see some behind the scenes footage. A must see for anyone who follows the sport and highly recommended for anyone who loves a story about exceptional people. I got very anxious and my heart was racing as the film raced to its tragic conclusion. Wow.
    Due Date
    Due Date (2010)
    3.5 stars for quite a few LOL moments. Absurd plot lines and nowhere near as likeable as the similar Planes, Trains and Automobiles. Fans for Zach G will definitely like it.
    The Girl Who Played with Fire (Flickan som lekte med elden)
    It's been a while since I finished Larsson's Millenium trilogy and watched the first on video, so I really enjoyed getting back into the twisted plot lines and complex characters. Although some of the action scenes seems a little amateur, the dramatic acting was excellent and the movie delivered a very intense and emotional payload.
    Hereafter (2010)
    Slow but powerful; odd, disconnected storyline that somehow works.
    Life as We Know It
    I liked it, perfect for Heigl who seems to shine in these types of roles; some good laughs; predictable but fun rom-com.
    Letters to Juliet
    If you're read some of my reviews and ratings in the past, then you'll know I'm a bit of a romantic. Ok story, iffy acting, but made respectful by the ever classy Vanessa Redgrave. 3.5 stars for the beautiful scenery and tantalizing touches with the food and wine, plus a foundation of the Bard and you have a perfect recipe for a romance. Bernal added a nice dash of comedy. Makes me want to listen to jazz, open a Chianti Classico and look at my old photos from my two wonderful holidays in Italy.
    Get Him to the Greek
    One of those movies you feel you shouldn't really laugh at and enjoy. That and numbskull plot = 3/5. Brand - you love him or hate him, Can't help myself laughing at his craft. Odd to see Elizabeth Moss in a different decade.
    The Fighter
    The Fighter (2010)
    Why is it boxing movies can make me cry ? Something to do with the struggle or the common man (woman in Million Dollar Baby's case) to find victory in an ugly world. One of those movies, that could be seen as just too Hollywood, but it's based on the true story of the these dysfunctional brawlers. Superb acting all around, esp. Oscar winner Bale. Gritty, bloody, heart felt and powerful.
    Midnight in Paris
    If you're a Woody Allen fan, you'll love it. If you're a hopeless romantic who loves the joie de vivre of Paris on film, you'll like it. I can't say too much without a spoiler, but the plot line is pretty damn clever and the writing around it is only as Woody can write it, with every line a bite into a wonderfully crafted meal. Ravishing, refreshing, modern, yet traditional and a lot of fun. Yes, Wilson could easily stand in for Woody, as Woody.
    Despicable Me
    Despicable Me (2010)
    Loved it, voices were superb, esp. Carell as the lead. Reminded me of the laughs from Adams Family. Absurd and thoroughly entertaining.
    The Tourist
    The Tourist (2010)
    Oddly entertaining, I guess because it was Depp and Jolie. You can't fault the location shots and sets; slow moving and moody with ok plot.
    Salt (2010)
    Very entertaining, but I have to admit Jolie was the main reason I gave it a chance. Plot was good and twisty, lots of over the top action and casting was spot on.
    Cars 2
    Cars 2 (2011)
    Lots of fun, I think adding the spy plot and the European settings made for a great follow-up, but not sure it's as young-family friendly as the first. Gran Tourismo should add those tracks.
    An Education
    An Education (2009)
    Sarsgaard perfectly cast as creepy seducer - yes, heavy doses of uncomfortableness and inappropriateness, but it managed to work (compliments to Hornby for great book/screenplay). The 1961 setting helped rationalize the situation and add some commentary on the limitations and expectations for young ladies in these changing times.
    Knight & Day
    Knight & Day (2010)
    Rather silly, but I thought the Cruise Diaz chemistry worked and was fun - entertaining enough.
    Milk (2008)
    Great, important true story superbly portrayed by Sean Penn - well deserved Oscar winning performance.
    Rush: Beyond the Lighted Stage
    Brilliant doc again from my old ultimate [frisbee] friends; a must-see for any Rush fan; great story that goes beyond their music.
    Iron Man 2
    Iron Man 2 (2010)
    Great tech, action, fx, and humour - lots o' fun. Excellent casting and soundtrack. Side note: I missed the full effect with only SD Netflix feed and basic sound - argh.
    Black Swan
    Black Swan (2010)
    Wow, much better than I anticipated. Psycho stylistic classical ride, wonderfully put together and absorbing plot. Portman deserved all the awards, brilliant. But should have been an opera.
    Limitless (2011)
    I really liked it, lots of fun, action and interesting premise. Plot could have taken a little more load, but all together, very entertaining. Gotta go and connect a few new synapses.
    The Adjustment Bureau
    Loved it. Not for unromantics, cynics, nor cave dwellers. Lots of fun without over doing it or trying to answer all the questions. Casting was spot on with fab chemistry between Damon and Blunt. Got me thinking about stuff, incl. web idea.
    Rango (2011)
    Classic Western meets Chinatown meets Star Wars with great voice casting. Very quirky with adult undertones. Entertaining, some slow bits and good smattering of laughs. I'd watch it again.
    Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium
    Gotta really be a big kid to like this one. Portman was as charming as ever, little Zach was a nice addition and worked well w/ Bateman, but Hoffman was a little creepy.
    The Blind Side
    Wonderful feel good story, bonus if you like anything to do with football or the South. If it wasn't for the fact that it's based on a true story, you might say it was too Hollywood. Bullock and Quinton Aaron were perfect.
    Frost/Nixon (2008)
    An immensely complex story that comes down to a few minutes of heart felt reflection and a close up. I've watched a few of the original interview segments, and I think the movie has done a decent job in representing the original. I didn't know a lot about Nixon, but the movie shows that Nixon was a very intelligent man and even charming at times. Frost was perhaps out of his depth, but recognized a massive TV exclusive, a monumental opportunity for his career and he pulled it off. Wonderful acting and storytelling, Rebecca Hall was a lovely distraction and the production was wonderful.
    Toy Story 3
    Toy Story 3 (2010)
    Lots of fun, with just enough adult humour and old toy references to keep us entertained. Nice ending.
    The King's Speech
    Lived up to the hype, wonderful story excellently portrayed by all. Firth's handling of the King's stammer was amazing and you could feel his pain in every shot. Rather gray motif worked for serious tone, but Rush added lots of humour. Who needs boring history books when we have fabulous historical films like this. Even though this retelling (like other historical films) may not be 100% accurate, it paints a very clear picture of part of our history and with The King's Speech, I've learned a new deep respect for King George VI.
    Morning Glory
    Morning Glory (2010)
    I really liked it...perhaps because of the adorable and gorgeous (Canadian) McAdams. Ford's stuffy persona fit his role perfectly. Decent soundtrack too. Some very funny bits.
    The Kids Are All Right
    The Whacky premise is just the backdrop for this wonderful, heartfelt human drama. I think I would have added another scene if it had been my screenplay. Fantastic acting all around. Some solid new music finds too. Something in there for everyone.
    The Town
    The Town (2010)
    Not very creative, but solid acting (especially Rebecca Hall) and well made action scenes keeps this violent crime action drama entertaining.
    The Social Network
    Excellent acting all around. Although only perhaps 40% accurate, an interesting tale of .com glory. Good balance of geekdom with startup energy and big business powerdrive. Puts a little fire back in the belly of some of us in the IT world that have an idea for the web. I don't recall another significant movie that portrays a the .com startup story; long overdo very well told; and one of the reasons I'm rating this as a 4/5. Oh, and the irony of it all.
    The Secret (Si j'├ętais toi)
    A cheesy start, but this simple and clever plot provides a good emotional depth; great performance by Olivia Thirlby.
    Office Space
    Office Space (1999)
    Excellent fun. Geeks and cube rats will find it delightful. Nice and quirky casting. Odd rap soundtrack.
    The Thirteenth Floor
    Well put together on great sci-fi premise, comparisons to The Matrix with less guns and no slow mo. In case you're wondering why I'm watching all these old movies of late...sorry to say, kind of the best quality choices on
    Taken (2008)
    A little uncomfortable subject having a daughter, but pretty good action flick. Neeson pulls off this new kind of role well and the pace of the story and action make you forget the simplistic plot.
    (500) Days of Summer
    Excellent. Refreshing and quirky, killer soundtrack (gotta love one which include The Smiths and even a ref to Sid and Nancy) and excellent casting and acting. Not your average romantic comedy, some dudes may even like it.
    Primer (2003)
    Ultra indy, but uber clever - actually a bit too clever for me - would probably need to watch it two more times to understand all the time travel paradox elements. Very well acted.
    Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief
    My 11 year old daughter has been raving about the book series and we watched the movie of the first book last night. From what she'd told me about the story based around the Greek gods and mythology I thought it would be a little like one of my favourites from my childhood - Jason and the Argonauts (1963). It didn't disappoint with all the top mythological stars and villains, incl. Medusa and the Hydra. So if you like Greek mythology and some teen action and don't mind some vicious creature attacks and a decapitation, then you'll like this "family" movie.
    Louis C.K. - Chewed Up
    Definitely not for casual viewing on the kitchen TV with polite company...really explicit language and "don't go there" topics, but some really hilarious bits. First viewing via - nice interface, reasonable quality, but really poor content availability.
    Angels & Demons
    Another one that took me 2 nights to get through, but it was pretty entertaining. If you liked the subject matter in the book, then you'll likely enjoy seeing it come to life on the screen.
    New York, I Love You
    Very slow and moody (a two night viewing), but beautiful cinematography and acting by superb ensemble cast. Not as good as the Parisian version, but still very enjoyable for fans of New York and complex urban characters.
    Chloe (2010)
    I really liked this steamy drama, good acting, decent plot and wonderful Toronto shot locations. Should have known it was an Atom Egoyan film.
    From Paris with Love
    Action packed shoot-em-up ride in Paris, but things do get rather serious !