Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Hostel 2 is better than Hostel?

I hated Hostel with a passion. It's not that I didn't like the nude women or some of the gore, it's just that the whole movie was so ludicrous and stupid that I couldn't fully appreciate the "beauty" of the film. Some critics liked Hostel because it was a "smart satire of American culture" or what not, but I thought that was a load of B.S. Hostel was a cheesy horror movie trying to capitalize on the trend known as torture porn. Nothing more.

And in reality, the gore was a bit goofy at times (the eyeball hanging out of the girl's head looked extremely fake) and, more importantly, the plot was so bad it made most horror movies look like they had Award-winning stories.

So, Hostel: Part II (Hostel 2) is now out on DVD, and having watched it, I must say it's a lot better. That's not saying it's all that good, or that it's reason to make a third one, but the movie is a lot more coherent, features better, more believable characters and its gore is a lot more realistic. There are some pretty lame parts (the opening sequence and the final minute of the movie), but there are a few torture scenes that are quite elaborate and somewhat clever.

All in all, it wasn't too much of a struggle to watch Hostel 2, and that's saying a lot. You can read my full Hostel 2 movie review here.

Cage Boy with Banana Video

I filmed this a good ten years ago. I would try to describe it, but really, all I can say is it's a video of a cage boy with a banana. This is my first YouTube video ever, so please, feedback welcome, and, regardless of feedback, vote for it and pass it around to your friends! I want to see what the potential of YouTube can offer!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

DVD Review: Ratatouille (2007)

Ratatouille (2007), one of my 14 underrated movies of the year, is coming to DVD on November 6th. The movie was a bit of a box office disappointment in terms of Pixar standards, but is certainly going to be a hit on the small screen. It is an excellent movie and easily one of the best films of the year.

You can read my full Ratatouille movie review here.

The DVD is a bit of a disappointment, a precursor, I'm sure, to a two-disc special edition. The features are pretty slim, and somewhat misleading.

The only real highlight is Fine Food & Film, a featurette that looks at how the Pixar guys came about creating a movie about food. The featurette includes interviews with acclaimed chef Thomas Keller ("acclaimed" because it says so on the box), as well as the creators of the movie.

The animated short Your Friend The Rat is pretty lame; I tuned it out within a minute.

The deleted scenes are where I really have a problem. I absolutely hate DVDs that advertise deleted scenes, only when you try to watch them you realize they were deleted at the screenplay review stage. The deleted scenes here are not CGI, but instead rough hand drawn animations with voice overs. The commentary introducing each scene is slightly interesting, but a deleted scene shouldn't be a deleted scene until after it is "filmed" and then cut.

The DVD also includes the short film that ran before the film, titled Lifted, which is a pretty funny little animation about a teenage alien doing "driver's ed" by abducting a human.

Overall, the DVD looks like it was put together at the last moment and will not appeal to fans who really like DVD features. Oh, at least the DVD includes a $10 rebate if you also buy Ratatouille on Blu-Ray. Are you kidding me? Why would you buy the movie on two different formats?

19 Horror Movies to Watch This Halloween

From 1999 to present day (October 31, 2007), there haven't been that many stand out horror movies, but here's a list of some that either really good, good enough for horror or just plain gruesome. Looking to rent a horror movie for Halloween? Choose from the list below...
  1. Wolf Creek
    One of the best movies on this list, Wolf Creek is scary, gory, suspenseful and, worst of all, realistic. Based on a true story, this one will make you nervous to visit Australia. The film follows several young people as they fall victim to a psychopathic killer in the Outback.

  2. The Descent
    One of the best horror/monster movies ever, The Descent is about a group of women trapped a mile underground with a bunch of ferocious mutated creatures that like to eat flesh. Awesome film!

  3. A Tale of Two Sisters
    Hollywood is remaking this movie, unfortunately. The original, a Korean film I believe, is one of the best and scariest movies I have seen in a long time. Watch carefully, otherwise you'll be lost!

  4. Dawn of the Dead (2004)
    This is the film that rejuvenated the zombie genre for the modern age, and it definitely deserves the credit. Funny, exciting and gruesome all at the same time. The director went on to provide fans with 300.

  5. 28 Weeks Later
    This zombie film is actually very, very exciting, and a bit scary. While some people hated this film, it's actually better than its predecessor, 28 Days Later.

  6. Halloween (2007)
    This movie isn't out on DVD yet, but is a very respectable remake of the John Carpenter classic.

  7. Joy Ride
    Yes, it stars Paul Walker, but this is one of my favorite thrillers. It's non-stop action and features a crazy truck driver who stalks three innocent young people all over the place (and tears off one guy's jaw).

  8. Final Destination
    One of the more original horror movies of all time, the film is surprisingly exciting considering the killer is completely invisible. And if you like Ali Larter on "Heroes", check her out here.

  9. The Others
    This Nicole Kidman ghost story was a surprising box office and critical hit, and has a great twist ending. This one was creepy enough to feature a spoof in one of the Scary Movies, played by a fake Michael Jackson.

  10. The Ring/Ringu
    The American and Japanese versions are so similar that I list them both together. If you saw the American version first, like I did, you'll probably like The Ring better, but those who saw the Japanese one initially will think the opposite. Either way, they have a neat concept and scary results. Too bad they spawned a slew of crappy Japanese remakes - and The Ring Two.

  11. Signs
    This M. Night Shyalaman movie isn't as scary the second time around, but I remember being on the edge of my seat at theaters. This was the last movie where his twist ending was halfway decent.

  12. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003)
    Some people slam this film, but it features Jessica Biel looking super hot, tons of gore and an ultra creepy psychotic family. This was a great remake, yet doesn't take away from the original.

  13. Deep Blue Sea
    Sure, it's a cheesier version of Jaws, but this movie about genetically advanced sharks is surprisingly good. There are some scary moments, a few surprises (one big actor gets killed a lot earlier than expected) and... genetically advanced sharks!

  14. The Host
    This monster movie isn't very scary, but as far as monster movies go, it is one of the most well done flicks in years. It's funny and serious all at the same time.

  15. High Tension
    If you're looking for disturbing, look no further than this French film. The bad guy gives himself a blow job with a decapitated head at one point in the movie, and that's the soft part of the R-rating. Blood, blood and more blood is splattered on screen, and the movie even takes a very weird, controversial twist near the end.

  16. Jeepers Creepers
    Sure, it turns out that the killer is a flying creature from Hell, but up until that point, this hit horror film is amazingly suspenseful and disturbing. The sequel really, really sucked, though.

  17. The Hills Have Eyes (2006)
    This isn't a great film, and the original from Wes Craven is better overall, but this remake, from the director of High Tension no less, is one of the goriest, f**ked up movie ever. Nothing is sacred in this bloody picture.

  18. What Lies Beneath
    This Harrison Ford/Michelle Pfeiffer film wasn't perfect, but every time Pfeiffer would walk slowly into the bathroom, you knew a ghost was just waiting to grab her.

  19. The Blair Witch Project
    A classic in its own right, The Blair Witch Project put indie horror back on the map. If you watch it a second time it's just unbearably boring, but the first time was great. I actually watched this for a second time at Halloween with a bunch of people; it was definitely the lamest party I had ever hosted.

Monday, October 29, 2007

The X-Files 2 Begins in December

Yes, you've waited a long time, but it is finally coming. According to Comingsoon.net, a site I frequent quite... er, frequently... The X-Files cast and crew will wipe the dust off the cameras starting December 10th. It's been ten years since the last movie, and many people assumed that David Duchovny was full of crap as he kept suggesting The X-Files 2 would eventually come.

Both Duchovny and Anderson are expected to return (they wouldn't make a movie without both of them, would they?). Yes, I know that the show continued even after Duchovny left, but I think they learned their lesson, right? Series creator Chris Carter is directed a screenplay written by himself and Frank Spotnitz.

The movie has a shooting name of Done One. All I can say is that I'm really, really, really excited, and this gave me an excuse to put a picture of Gillian Anderson on my blog.

Battlestar Galactica Movie Coming Soon

As many of you Battlestar Galactica fans already know, a two-hour TV movie is hitting screens in November, will feature the now deceased Admiral Cain as she captains the Pegasus and is titled Razor. What fans don't know is that eight major cities will show the movie on the big screen. November 12th is the date, and you can watch it for free at select theaters in the following cities: in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Boston, Dallas and Seattle (go Seattle!).

You have to be 17 or over to see the movie as it is rated TV-14.

The question is, will I go see it in theaters? I do live in Seattle, and it would only take a few minutes to get whereever it is going to be playing (I'm guessing Pacific Place), but I think I'll just watch it on TV. Why take the time to go out in the cold (and probably rain) when I can just sit on my couch, eat potato chips and watch on my HDTV?

New Online Paid Survey Blog

I try to keep movie work and "real" work separate, but I've just got to pitch this new blog my company, and, specifically my team (thanks Boyd!), just launched last week to help promote GlobalTestMarket, an online paid survey website. Basically, you take surveys to earn money, just by participating in online market research over the Internet.

Anyway, the online paid survey blog looks quite sharp (making me realize that I really need to revamp the look of this movie blog), so you should at least check it out to see our handy work. Beyond that, there are several new fun surveys you can take without becoming a member, and that's the main reason for this post:
  • Is Albus Dumbledore Gay, and what do you think about it?
  • Who Is Your Favorite NFL team, and who will win the Superbowl?
  • There's also a survey about who will win the World Series, but unfortunately the Boston Red Sox embarrassed the Colorado Rockies. What a lame World Series!

Movie Review: Surf's Up (2007)

I recently watched Surf's Up, which is yet another penguin movie. But, unlike Happy Feet, Surf's Up relies more on screenplay and less on cute looking critters dancing like they're on crystal meth. I found Happy Feet dreadfully dull after the first 20 minutes, but Surf's Up keeps on entertaining from start to finish.

It just has these three things going against it:
  • It's a penguin movie, and March of the Penguins, a documentary featuring the real thing, was more entertaining.
  • It's still not as good as the really good animated films, like those from Pixar
  • It won't appeal to little kids. The humor is dry and very dialogue-driven; little kids will find Happy Feet a bit more visually stimulating.
Still, for those of you who like animated films, Surf's Up is one of the better ones of the year. Read the full Surf's Up movie review here.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

14 Underrated Movies of 2007

It's only October, but 2007 is already full of tons of great or really good movies. It's pretty amazing, because I've gone years where I haven't seen a truly great movie until the final weeks of December and struggled to piece together a top ten list where the bottom three aren't on there simply for the sake of filling out the top ten.

2007, however, has had plenty of great films, some of which were complete surprises (28 Weeks Later), some were ones you were hoping to be good but weren't expecting them to be (Transformers) and others ones that received great critical reaction but not many box office dollars (Michael Clayton comes to mind). And so this list below takes a look at the movies released thus far that have failed to reach their box office potential for whatever reason...

Zodiac
It's no real surprise that this serial killer movie didn't make a ton of money as it is nearly three hours long and it's no action thriller along the vein of Seven, but Zodiac is a near masterpiece in its presentation of the long and arduous investigation that went into finding the Zodiac killer, a real person. Pulling off a movie like this is difficult, but David Fincher seemed to be on automatic as pieced together the complicated storyline.

28 Weeks Later
Yeah, it's a zombie movie. But it's a zombie movie that takes what was accomplished in the first film and makes things scarier and more exciting. This is definitely one of the best horror sequels ever, yet didn't perform too well in theaters and even got slammed by quite a few critics as being unoriginal. Seriously, I've read many reviews, some from professional critics and some from bloggers, that have mocked this movie, but I don't know what the hell they were watching. I consider myself to have pretty good taste in film, and 28 Weeks Later was certainly a pleasant surprise.

Gone Baby Gone
The full strength of this movie is yet to be seen, but it already appears to be skirting under the radar. The directorial debut of Ben Affleck, the movie stars his brother Casey as a private detective looking for a kidnapped girl. The film fires on all cylinders and is a dramatic yet exciting detective flick with heart.

The Kingdom
Sure, the script isn't all that great and overall the movie could have been more, but The Kingdom is an exciting, well-paced action thriller that was seemingly made to blow away the competition. Surprisingly, this one flopped massively, and I'm still scratching my head as to why.

The Last Mimzy
It's a kid's movie, but a very good kid's movie at that. In a year where Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix was a bit disappointing, The Last Mimzy is a refreshing and unique adventure tale about a brother and sister who discover a toy that give them special powers. However, what is the true purpose of the alien toy? This one probably flopped because it's a more serious kid's movie, and the title sucks. Highly recommended, even to adults.

Michael Clayton
Some people predicted this would top the box office when it hit theaters, but of course a slow-moving legal thriller wouldn't do that. Still, the movie has shown disappointing returns even though it is one of the best reviewed movies of the year and features some of the best performances of the year, by Tom Wilkinson, George Clooney and Tilda Swinton most notably. This movie isn't for everyone, but those who are patient while find payoff in the film's climax.

Seraphim Falls
This Liam Neeson/Pierce Brosnan movie was never even released wide, but it is a non-stop action thrill ride set in the old west. With a simple story of one man trying to hunt down another man through snowy mountains and the desert, Seraphim Falls offers very little dialogue but haunting performances from the men involved nonetheless. More importantly, it is exciting from start to finish and features some great visuals.

Ratatouille
The Pixar movie still made a good amount of money at theaters this summer, but compared to other Pixar films, it was a box office disappointment. Some blamed it on the fact that the title is hard to pronounce or that it stars a rat, but I don't really know. All I know is that this film features absolutely stunning visuals, an entertaining storyline and witty screenplay. It is a pure treat, and one of the few animated films that I could see competing against live action movies as "best movie of the year". It isn't THAT good, but I hope you get my point.

Rescue Dawn
Christian Bale's movie about a man who crashes in Vietnam and forced to live in a prison camp in the middle of the jungle looked cheesy at first, but it is actually one of the finest made pictures of the year. Featuring great acting, beautiful scenery and exciting, fact-based story, Rescue Dawn is certainly one of the hidden gems of 2007.

Sunshine
This film about the death of the sun and human's last attempt to save the species is more pure sci-fi than most films we see these days, but it's a shame it wasn't marketed to general audiences more effectively. Featuring dazzling special effects, good performances and an exciting, chilling story, the movie could easily appeal to both sci-fi buffs and regular moviegoers alike. I blame the studio for not positioning this sci-fi classic better.

The Lookout
I can't remember how this one did at theaters, but regardless it probably didn't get the attention it deserved. Featuring a great performance from Joseph Gordon-Levitt and a memorable story about a young man trying to overcome a disability, and a bank robbery, the movie is exciting, dramatic and "twisty" all at the same time. Those who like small-town crime thrillers should certainly check this out. It may not be Fargo, but it's still really good.

Vacancy
The last minute or two kind of suck, but Vacancy, starring Luke Wilson and Kate Beckinsale, is an edge-of-your-seat thriller about a bitter couple who get trapped in the hotel from Hell. There isn't a moment that passes when the tension eases up, and that's all that really needs to be said.

Grindhouse
Amazingly, the Quentin Tarantino/Robert Rodriguez double feature flopped at theaters, forcing The Weinstein Company to split the directors' two movies, Death Proof and Planet Terror, into two movies in Europe, and DVD. Had they released this around Halloween we might have seen better results, as while neither film are absolutely amazing, both are certainly better-than-average horror movies, if you can even call them that.

The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford
Casey Affleck hits this list for the second time, as he plays the second title character for this slow-moving western drama. He turns in an award-winning performance, as does Brad Pitt, who plays the famous outlaw. As with Michael Clayton, this movie isn't for everyone, but it has certainly gone under the radar without much box office impact.

The year is still young. I expect more quality films to make this list as we wind down to New Years...

Movie Review: The Assassination of Jesse James... (2007)

I just got back from watching the two-hour, forty-minute The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, a western that's quite a bit different than anything I've seen in recent memory. In a year of constant, pleasant surprises, Jesse James is just the latest in a number of surprises, though it certainly isn't for everyone.

It isn't an action movie, though it does have a fair amount of killings. It is dialogue driven and relies on its acting and screenplay to carry the audience through to the tragic ending (tragic in more ways than one). It can easily be described as a character study, a slow and methodically meandering character study. Brad Pitt and Casey Affleck both turn in career-best performances, and the movie itself is all but mesmerizing from beginning to end. It suffers from a few loose parts in the middle, but makes up for it with one of the most emotionally devastating endings I've witnessed on screen in a long time.

Read my full The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford movie review here.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Why, audiences, why? Saw IV wins the weekend.

Just when I think American audiences are getting smarter, they go ahead and feed the pockets of Lionsgate by shelling out over $14 million in ticket sales on Friday alone to see Saw IV. If this franchise is ever going to die, it's not going to be anytime soon, as Saw IV will make around $33 million for the weekend, the best opening of the Saw movies thus far.

I'm not surprised that Saw IV won the weekend. With only Dan in Real Life, an indie comedy-drama starring Steve Carrell, opening as competition, it was clear Saw IV would win handily. Still, I was hoping for a $25 million opening and a slow decline that would eventually force the Saw franchise onto a direct-to-DVD release pattern so that I would never have to write about it again.

Damn.

That's all I have to say.

First The Love Gury Pic - Jessica Alba and Mike Myers

Here's the first picture of Jessica Alba and Mike Myers from The Love Guru. Myers looks pretty funny, and Jessica looks good as usual.

Click on the picture to see a larger version.

The plot of the movie is this:

In the comedy, The Love Guru (Mike Myers), Pitka is an American who was left at the gates of an ashram in India as a child and raised by gurus. He moves back to the U.S. to seek fame and fortune in the world of self-help and spirituality, specializing in settling intimacy issues between couples. His unorthodox methods are put to the test when he must settle a rift between major league star hockey player Darren Roanoke (Romany Malco) and his estranged wife. After the split, Roanoke's wife starts dating the star member of a rival team, out of revenge, sending her husband into a major professional skid -- to the horror of the team's owner Jane Bullard (Jessica Alba) and Coach Cherkov (Verne Troyer). Pitka must return the couple to marital nirvana and get Roanoke back on his game so the team can break the 40-year-old "Bullard Curse" and win the championship.

DVD Review: The Adventures of Young Indiana Jones, Volume One

It's always fun returning to your childhood, especially when that return includes a high quality television show (or, if you will, a series of television movies) based on one of the most popular trilogies ever to grace the silver screen: Indiana Jones.

The Adventures of Young Indiana Jones: The Complete Volume One is now out on DVD in a 12-disc collection that includes seven full-length television movies and tons - I mean tons - of special features. I've never seen a 12-disc box set that contains "only" seven movies/episodes - that is, until now.

I won't begin to claim that in the week or so I had to review this collection that I watched most of the special features, but I will say I'm impressed by the amount of stuff that has been offered to fans. Of course, in reality, I would have preferred to get all three volumes in one collection, so I'd have all the movies rather than a bunch of documentaries, but hey, Paramount and Lucasfilm will make a lot more money by selling three volumes instead of one.

Having watched the first couple movies, it's nice to see that the production values still hold up quite well. These first two pictures focus on Indiana Jones as a young boy, as he travels around Egypt and Africa with his parents. Amazingly, I remembered small parts of the movies from when I was a child, but for the most part they played like new. These Young Indiana Jones movies featuring Corey Carrier are a bit slow at times as they feature Indiana more in learning mode as he collects information on different cultures and just happens to stumble across adventures accidentally. The later movies, starring Sean Patrick Flanery, are a bit more action based if I recall.

Of course, these movies are actually re-edited versions of The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles, the series of 45-minute shows that featured an old Indiana Jones who flashbacked to his childhood and teenage years typically in the same episode. Apparently, Mr. Lucas decided to do what he liked to do - revise things he already created and "finished" and make 2-hour movies out of them, effectively removing the alternating storylines, flashbacks and old Indiana Jones (I don't remember particularly enjoying watching Indiana Jones as an old man anyway) to make a more chronological series of movies. The result is that the first several films focus entirely on Carrier's Indiana, which means that the adventures aren't quite as explosive. Still, it's a good way to go, although I'd rather view the episodes how they were originally intended - and how I remember them.

Fans of the show and fans of Indiana Jones should certainly take a look at the box set, as these movies, even if reconstructions based on the original series, are pretty well done and do a good job of extending the Indiana Jones storyline.

Is Teresa Palmer Wonder Woman?

I usually don't like to post rumors, but when the rumors give me an excuse to place a picture of a good looking woman like Teresa Palmer, I make any exception. Moviehole.net is suggesting that Palmer will play Wonder Woman in George Miller's Justice League of America, which begins to production shoots soon.

Teresa Palmer has a role in Daniel Radcliffe's new movie December Boys (I believe she plays the love interest) and has also been seen in The Grudge 2. I don't think she survived that one.

Warner Brothers has not officially announced anything, however.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Movie Trailer Review: Awake (2007)

The movie trailer for Awake is now online, and I must say I'm intrigued. The movie stars Hayden Christensen and Jessica Alba (oh, and Terrence Howard), and is a psychological thriller about a guy who is put under anesthesia for a dangerous operation, but who doesn't quite fall asleep. While he is in his nearly comatose state, he hears the doctors, including one of his friends, plotting to just kill him to save themselves the trouble. What happens next appears to be a surreal adventure, as he isn't sure what is true and what isn't. All I know is that includes scenes of Jessica Alba about as nude as you've seen her.

The movie looks interesting, and the concept is a good one. Other than in Star Wars, I've liked Christensen quite a bit - he was great in Shattered Glass, and his performance in Life as a House was also top notch. This one looks a little more mainstream, but could be a good vehicle for him if done right.

Sadly, Awake is one of those films that could end up being lame, especially if the ending is pretty stupid (I give it a 50/50 chance). Still, I'll be heading to theaters, if not just to see Ms. Alba.

Watch the Awake movie trailer.

Crazy Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Woman

Okay, so the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are pretty cool, but this woman has taken things a bit too far. Watch the video to find out what I mean:



The question is, is this for real? It's hard to believe it is, but it certainly could be.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Movie Review: Fido (2007)

Fido, a zombie movie that is quite different from most zombie movies, is now out on DVD, and I have a copy in my possession. As such, I have written a movie review for the film.

I was rather looking forward to this picture, as 1) zombie films are hard to mess up (though Resident Evil 3 certainly proved me wrong with that one, 2) zombie comedies are generally funny and 3) a movie about a boy and his pet zombie just sounds entertaining.

Unfortunately, the film fails to live up to its potential, as it just isn't funny enough. Read my full Fido movie review here.

Movie Review: Captivity (2007)

I just watched 30 Days to Night, which has a pretty bad ending, but it does not even compare to the God-awful ending that Captivity, starring hottie Elisha Cuthbert, offers. I mean, talk about out of left field, the bleachers, the street and the warehouse across the street out there.

Captivity is essentially a Saw rip-off (and I thought Saw sucked), only with less amounts of gore and less excitement. At the same time, it does offer one of the grossest scenes I've ever seen, which involves sticking a funnel down Elisha's throat and forcing her to swallow a blended concoction of noses, ears, guts and blood. Lovely.

Read my full Captivity movie review. The horror picture lands on DVD next week, and offers a making-of featurette, an on-the-set featurette and some deleted scenes, including alternate endings (although they aren't that alternate).

Movie Review: 30 Days of Night (2007)

I just wrote a movie review for 30 Days of Night, the new vampire flick starring Josh Hartnett. I had really high hopes for the movie, but unfortunately it failed to meet expectations. While 30 Days of Night has some things going for it, it lacks the proper direction and editing to make it anything more than a standard thriller. The ending is atrocious, too.

Josh Hartnett is surprisingly good, and I think given the right roles he could be a popular leading man. Melissa George is decent in a supporting role, but really doesn't get much to work with. Ben Foster is once again a creepy highlight, and he doesn't even play a vampire.

Read the full 30 Days of Night movie review.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Who will win the World Series? Take a survey!

Wow, so the Red Sox came back and won the series from the Cleveland Indians, and I can't say that I'm happy about it. Still, it should hopefully be a good World Series... with the Colorodo Rockies prevailing, of course. And no, I'm not a huge Colorodo Rockies fan, but I am now - and ever since the Sox won a few years back, I no longer have any interest in them.

Anyway, here's a quick InstantSurvey where you can say who you think will win and other opinions about baseball. Take the survey now!

Saturday, October 20, 2007

First Rambo movie poster online

Here's the new poster for the now-titled Rambo (also known as John Rambo), which continues to show that Sylvester Stallone still has a chance at making a comeback (at least for this one movie). The trailer footage this far has been top notch (bloody, that is) and now the movie poster itself looks pretty slick.

Learn more about the new Rambo movie here.

Win an autographed Ron Livingston poster!

I just started a new contest where you can win one of three autographed Music Within posters, which opens in select theaters on October 26th.

The autographed movie poster is signed by Ron Livingston, Melissa George, Michael Sheen, Yul Vazquez, Rebecca De Mornay and Steven Sawalich.

You can enter the contest here!

Bill Maher kicks out rowdy audience member

Watch this funny clip of Bill Maher yelling at a protester shouting about how 9-11 is a conspiracy and eventually "helping" security push the guy out the door. Of course, in reality, his security didn't need help, but it was funny to watch him run into the audience and participate in the removal.

Other protesters follow, and Maher repeatedly threatens to kick their ass. Good stuff.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Meet the Spartans Teaser Trailer

Watch the God-awful teaser trailer for the next spoof comedy Meet the Spartans, which, as one might guess, is a spoof of 300. Honestly, how and why do they keep making this pictures? They get horrible reviews, don't make much money and just plain suck. Why not spend $100,000 more on a better writer and make double the profit?

Anyway, here's the Meet the Spartans teaser trailer:

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Movie Review: Sherrybaby (2006)

I just finished watching Sherrybaby, an indie drama where Maggie Gyllenhaal shows some nudity, and, more importantly, a very raw and powerful performance.

Gyllenhaal, who seems to always be overshadowed by her brother (though just barely), once again shows that she is an extremely talented actress. Here, she plays a young woman recently released from prison after a long stint for stealing and drug use. Looking to get her life back on track, she lands a decent job but discovers that her daughter has been "adopted" by her brother and his wife. As tensions increase within her family, she finds herself struggling to stay clean and avoid breaking parole.

Read the full Sherrybaby movie review here.

Movie Review: Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee (2007)

Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee, an HBO film, is of course based on the well known Dee Brown book about how American Indians were displaced as the U.S. expanded west, eventually ending in bloodshed. It is a tragic tale and a reminder that the United States has committed its fair share of injustice over the course of its history.

As one would expect from an HBO movie, Wounded Knee stars several recognizable actors, including Aidan Quinn ("The Book of Daniel"), Adam Beach (Flags of our Fathers), August Schellenberg (you may not know the name, but he plays just about every Indian American when a role is available), J.K. Simmons (Spider-Man), Colm Feore (Chicago), U.S. Presidential candidate Fred Thompson (coincidentally as President Grant) and Anna Paquin. All around, the acting is top notch, though Adam Beach, who was one of the real highlights in Flags of our Fathers (playing a frustrated American Indian living in a white world), steals the show here as a frustrated American Indian living in a white world. Unfortunately, Oscar-winning Paquin, who I still believe is a tour de force just waiting to be unleashed, appears to be here just to look pretty.

Overall, Wounded Knee is a well done, gritty and ultimately tragic tale, but it's hard not to compare this film to the HBO series "Deadwood", which was even grittier and darker than this. It's not that the subject matters of Wounded Knee and "Deadwood" are the same, but Wounded Knee is trying to look realistic and gritty, and it ends up looking second rate to a television show. The black-and-white flashbacks are what really killed for me, as they just don't look that professional.

Nevertheless, fans of the subject matter will find a strong drama in Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee. The movie is now available on DVD.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Hellraiser remake confirmed!

To no real great surprise, the latest horror franchise to get reinvented is Hellraiser, which was originally conceived by writer/director Clive Barker in 1987 and, in my opinion, is one of the freakier and more disturbing pictures of the '80's.

Since other recent remakes have done quite well, most notably the remake of Halloween, Dimension has hired French filmmakers Julien Maury and Alexandre Bustillo to write and direct the movie. The two recently saw their supernatural film Inside acquired by the company.

The story comes from The Hollywood Reporter, which describes the original as this (because I'm too lazy to reword the synopsis myself): Released in 1987, "Hellraiser" told the story of an unfaithful wife who attempts to assist her dead lover in his escape from hell. The movie introduced viewers to a race of demons called Cenobites, most notably one nicknamed Pinhead -- who became one of the most enduring horror characters of the decade -- who was summoned using an antique puzzle box. As usual, I'm torn here. Hellraiser could definitely make for a cool remake, but, then again, the original still works quite well (I just watched it for the first time a couple years ago). Why remake a good thing other than money? Oh, wait, duh. For money!

In-theater advertising revenue increases - why not drop concession prices?

The Hollywood Reporter says, "in-cinema advertising grew into a $455.7 million business in the U.S. last year, 15% better than in 2005 and far outpacing boxoffice growth during the same frame."

This is not surprising, as we have definitely seen more ads and people have grown more accustomed to them. I must admit I'm past the point of complaining about all commercials in general, though I certainly appreciate going to theaters that still refuse to do any advertising (or at least blatant on-screen advertising). I used to complain about commercials before films every time I went to the theaters - now I just complain about how many there are, or how bad they are (the Forest Whitaker cell phone commercial is one of the worst commercials ever conceived by man).

We all know that theaters make only small margins off box office revenue, and a good chunk of their revenue comes from concession sales (note that $38.3 of that $455.7 million number is off-screen advertising, such as ads on popcorn bags, lobby stands, etc.). As non-movie advertising continues to grow and theaters start making more of a margin, perhaps it is time for them to experiment with lowering concession prices?

After all, they might have been scared about experimenting with concession prices in the past because one bad mistake could severely hurt their bottom line (though I'd say that's stretching it, too), but do they really make optimal profit by selling popcorn for $6 a bag? If they sold popcorn for $4 a bag, I would think a lot more people would buy the popcorn and overall revenue numbers would increase, with costs increasing not nearly so strongly. Of course, maybe the business guys have already calculated the cut even price for concessions, but I sure as hell would be inclined to toss a lot more money their way if they dropped concession prices just a bit.

Okay, so I went on a tangent here, but it's my movie blog!

Sunday, October 14, 2007

DVD Review: Transformers Two-Disc Special Edition


Transfomers, arguably the most popular movie of the summer, is now out on DVD (as of this Tuesday), and it's safe to assume that the DVD (one-disc, two-disc and HD DVD two-disc) will be topping the charts for the coming weeks.

So, is the two-disc special edition worth the extra dollars? I'd have to say... yes.

The two-disc special edition is not the most jam-packed DVD you'll find on the shelves, but it still has a good two hours of honest, legitimate special features (vs. those editions that include a bunch of useless and seemingly filler bonuses).

The special features are split into three segments, each of which vary in length from 45 minutes to over an hour:
  • Our World
    An in-depth look, broken into chapters, at the production, cast and stunts of Transformers. There's plenty of behind-the-scenes goodness here, including interviews with the cast (and not just promotional interviews where they're saying, "You'll see stuff here that's never been done before), on-set footage and more. The feature drills into several of the stunts of the movie, and it's surprising to see how many of them are not just special effects. Apparently, Michael Bay and his crew destroyed over 200 real cars in the movie...
  • Their War
    This featurette looks at the creation of the Autobots, Decepticons and military vehicles used in the movie. This one will appeal to Transformers fans a lot as it discusses how the creators went from the original toys and cartoons to the robots found in the movie, and why changes were made. The in-depth look at how the production worked with the military is also pretty interesting.
  • More Than Meets the Eye
    This one looks at the making of the desert attack sequence.
Other features include several of the film's trailers (which are quite cool) and conceptual art.

Overall, the Transfomers: Two-Disc Special Edition has a lot of honest, in-depth special features. There may not be a lot of features, but what lacks in quantity is made up for with quality. Fan boys should definitely invest the extra dollar or two into this more enhanced version. Also, you can read a Transformers movie review here.

Movie review: A Mighty Heart (2007)

A Mighty Heart was released to theaters in the middle of June, a surprising date considering its subject matter. Surrounded by super heroes and John McClanes, Paramount chose to counteract the offerings everyone wanted to see with a depressing drama about a woman's struggle to overcome the kidnapping of her journalist husband in Pakistan.

The movie, starring Angelina Jolie, is a pretty good one. Jolie turns in an excellent performance as Mariane Pearl, a strong-willed French-Cuban (I think) who suddenly finds herself in a nightmare. If A Mighty Heart had been released in November and December, we might be talking about award nominations for the beautiful actress, but as is all I can say is that this is one of her finest performances to date. She has transformed her mannerisms, accent, style of acting and even her appearance (no, not anything like Charlize Theron) to the point where you will forget you're watching Jolie, and that right there is an accomplishment in itself.

Aside from the acting, A Mighty Hearts drills into the tension and events that took place over a short time in 2002. Director Michael Winterbottom (The Road to Guantanamo) has made a pretty decent little drama-thriller here, based on the book by Mariane Pearl. The acting all around is good, the direction relatively gritty, and Winterbottom manages to evoke emotion in every scene.

There's only one problem... Read the full A Mighty Heart movie review to learn what that is.

The Hoax (2007) movie review: No Shattered Glass?

One of my favorite movies is a one most people haven't seen, the true life-based drama Shattered Glass, starring Anakin Skywalker - I mean Hayden Christensen - as journalist Stephen Glass, who famously made up a bunch of stories to make himself famous. With that in mind, I was drawn into seeing The Hoax, a Richard Gere-starring drama with a similar theme, even though it didn't look nearly as good.

The Hoax is a true story (how true, I don't know) about journalist and writer Clifford Irving, who managed to trick a major publishing house into paying him a million dollars for a groundbreaking biography based on personal interviews with billionaire recluse Howard Hughes, a man who hadn't been seen in public in years. The only problem is that Irving never actually spoke with Hughes to get his permission, and in fact his entire piece of work is based on fabrications.

The Hoax is one of those movies where it's hard to fathom them ever being true. How a man could think that he'd get away with writing a fake biography about someone still alive - especially with someone as many resources as Howard Hughes - is pretty unbelievable. And furthermore, to risk everything by running up a publishing company for a million dollars in the process? And yet, Clifford Irving did it. That alone makes The Hoax worth watching.

Read the full The Hoax movie review.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Just finished the season finale of Jericho: Season One...

Only two weeks after getting the DVD, I finished the first season of Jericho, the possibly defunct television show starring Skeet Ulrich about a town who faces isolation and other far more serious problems after most of the United States is nuked into oblivion.

While the first part of the series relies on mystery as the townspeople don't know what's going on, the second half reveals quite a lot - although, as we find out, you can't always trust the rumors going around. Certain frightening things are revealed, such as the fact that the United States has apparently fractured into six governments, and that the bombs were not a result of foreign attack by a home grown terrorist cell. More is revealed about Hawkins, the guy who at times appeared to be a villain. With his identity further revealed, he really is able to kick ass.

Other episodes I really liked (there aren't many I didn't) were:
  • Crossroads
    Several mercenaries threaten to invade Jericho, claiming they are working for the government.
  • Semper Fidelis
    U.S. marines finally show up and say that the country is getting back on track, but it soon becomes clear that these people are not actual soldiers.
  • A.K.A.
    The truth of Hawkins is further explained and Jake gets "in the know".
  • The last four episodes
    I loved serialized stories, and the last four episodes play out like one long episode (and end with a hair-tingling cliffhanger that leads into next season). This is a great end to the season, as the nearby town of New Bern plans out a very strategic attack, and things go from bad to worse in a hurry
That being said, there were a couple episodes I wasn't as crazy about:
  • One Man's Terrorist
    Realizing that the relationship between Jake and Emily could go nowhere with Roger around, the producers abruptly turn Roger into a hostage taker, effectively forcing him out of Jericho, both the show and the series (forever?). This didn't seem like a very believable turn of events.
  • Heart of Winter
    Jake is left at the brink of death for much of the episode. As he is the main character, there isn't much tension here as we know he'll be okay.
  • Red Flag
    People squabble over whether to trust food aid from China. The whole idea that China would try to kill off people by poisoning food seemed rather paranoid and unrealistic to me.
Overall, I can't wait for the next season of Jericho, even if it is only seven episodes long.

Movie review: Michael Clayton (2007)

Wow, what a year 2007 has been. And it's only October. Last year, we were scraping bottom well into late November before good movies started cropping up, but 2007 has been gifted with all kinds of really good movies, from comedies (Knocked Up, Hot Fuzz, Superbad) to action (300, The Bourne Ultimatum, Transformers) to dramas (Eastern Promises, Zodiac, Rescue Dawn), and that's only to name a few. Now, we have Michael Clayton, George Clooney's latest drama-thriller.

Written and directed by The Bourne Ultimatum writer Tony Gilroy, Michael Clayton does for legal thrillers what the Bourne franchise did for spy flicks - take the genre to a whole new level. It's not that the legal thriller hasn't had its fair share of great successes - several John Grisham adaptations come to mind - but Gilroy's approach is certainly don't-bullshit-and-slowly-build-tension-until-it-bursts. There are some slow sections in Michael Clayton, and those expecting a fast-paced thriller might find themselves falling asleep in the first half, but those of you who have patience and know a good movie when you see it will certainly find something to campaign around. For much of the movie, you don't really know what the title character's job is, but then, when it reaches the amazing and surprisingly quick ending that it has, you realize he's been doing it all along. Michael Clayton is a movie with a few twists, or at least new directions, and a mounting sense that there will be only one winner.

Read the full Michael Clayton movie review.

Saw 5? When will the pain stop?

How many Saw movies will Lionsgate produce before they let the pain stop? Or, a better question, how many Saw movies will they make before they shift the franchise to direct-to-DVD and I can stop writing about them?

No, I'm not talking about Saw IV, which comes out this October. I'm talking about Saw V (Saw 5 for you Roman numeral illiterates) that is now scheduled to be released in October 2008. Saw IV production designer David Hackl has been tapped to direct the next installment based on a screenplay by Marcus Dunstan and Patrick Melton.

None of the Saw movies have been especially good, and it's amazing they still get as much traction as they do. At what point in time will audiences give up on the Saw movies to abandon them in theaters altogether, forcing Lionsgate to turn to direct-to-DVD releases? I'm sure the theatrical releases are just a promotions for the DVD releases, but audiences are still giving Lionsgate its Saw budgets back in theaters on opening weekend.

Why do this to yourselves, people? The Saw franchise is one of the lamest long-running horror franchises to come along, so just stop going.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Rambo 4 back to John Rambo

Well, after I complained about the new title for Rambo 4 - Rambo to Hell and Back - Sylvestor Stallone's movie has been changed back to just John Rambo. I still think it needs a better name before it hits theaters. Hell, just use Rambo 4!

For John Rambo photos, trailers and information, click here.

Watch Jessica Alba in The Eye teaser trailer

The Eye, a new horror movie (or an old one if you consider that it is a remake) starring Jessica Alba, is coming to theaters in February 2008, and the teaser trailer for this long awaited project is now online.

The movie looks pretty good. Of course, since it's a teaser, there's not much plot revealed, but the marketing department has done a good job of piecing together a taught-looking thrill ride that doesn't include a single word of dialogue. Alba looks as good as ever, even when her eyes are grayed out, and the teaser builds tension incredibly well.

Watch the teaser trailer for The Eye.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

A new Martin Lawrence movie: Oh no.

I have to admit it. I'm not a fan of Martin Lawrence. He's not that funny, especially when he's doing stand up. He's good in Bad Boys, but that's only because there are enough explosions and hot women to distract us. And without further ado, here's the trailer for his next movie, the grammatically incorrect Welcome Home Roscoe Jenkins...

Christmas in Wonderland Movie Trailer

Here's the trailer for the new Patrick Swayze movie Christmas in Wonderland. Where the hell has he been?

Simon Pegg to play Scotty in Star Trek

Wow. The cast for the upcoming movie Star Trek just keeps on getting more and more interesting. With Zachary Quinto ("Heroes") already playing Spock and rumors flying about a relative unknown playing Kirk, the latest announcement is that Simon Pegg, who is most certainly at the peak of his career right now with Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz, has been cast as Scotty.

What do I think of all this? I think it could work. Pegg will be a good balance between seriousness and comic relief; I'd expect something sort of along the lines of what we saw of him in Mission: Impossible 3 - he warns of the worst but cracks jokes at the same time.

Will Trekkies be happy with this? I guess I need to Google it to find out...

New Rambo movie title not much better?

The title for the upcoming Sylvester Stallone movie Rambo 4, which was originally called John Rambo, has been changed Rambo to Hell and Back. A little cooler than the approach, which sounded a bit too much like Stallone's other comeback attempt Rocky Balboa, but still, it sounds a bit cheesy.

Stallone is still a bit of a laughing stock, and I'm sure Rambo 4 is not going to change that (even though it looks like bloody goodness). Naming your film Rambo to Hell and Back just sounds a bit... off. Why not Rambo 4, or Rambo Returns, or Rambo's Revenge (okay, that's cheesy too).

There has got to be a better title than Rambo to Hell and Back. What do you think?

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

DVD Review: Grindhouse presents Planet Terror (2007)

Robert Rodriguez's Planet Terror, the intentional B-grade zombie film that was the first half of the theatrical flop Grindhouse (I'm quite certain it will be a cult classic, though), arrives on DVD next Tuesday, October 16th.

Planet Terror is about several individuals, including a stripper (Rose McGowan) who has a machine gun as a leg and a mother who can't use her hands because her husband has injected her with a numbing agent, who have to face off against a horde of zombies and even more dangerous military personnel. The movie is camp, but done so quite specifically. The first time I watched it I liked it but didn't love it; the second time around, on DVD, I appreciated Planet Terror a bit more - the gore is great, the women scorching and the excitement non-stop. It's not a perfect movie, but that's okay - in reality, it was never meant to be. Read the full Planet Terror movie review here.

The 2-disc Special Edition version of Planet Terror is well worth it even if you are even a mild fan of the Grindhouse movies. Planet Terror is a great movie to watch with friends, and the special features are just as good:

10-Minute Film School With Robert Rodriguez
This is a very insightful little featurette with Rodriguez showing us "how easy" it is to make a movie such as Planet Terror. Of course, not anyone can just inject computer graphics and gore, Rodriguez does break down his film pretty well, showing how he did a lot of the snazzy things in the film, from the machine gun leg to heads blowing apart to explosions and a dozen other things.

The Badass Babes and Tough Guys Of Planet Terror
The great thing about the featurettes on this DVD are that they are insightful, short and too the point. There are some great 45-minute featurettes out there (see Pirates of the Caribbean), but it's tedious watching something so long. These two 12-or-so-minute featurettes look at the hot women in the movie and the reasoning for their casting and characters; and the men - I didn't really pay attention to that one too much.

Casting Rebel
Is Robert Rodriguez's son really called Rebel? Anyway, it's his son who's the kid in the movie, and Rodriguez talks about his decision to cast his son. Of course, the other stars praise the kid - not that there was anything wrong with him, but would they really say anything bad even if they thought he sucked?

Sickos, Bullets and Explosions: The Stunts of Planet Terror
This one looks at the special effects and such in the movie. It's a fun one and delves into the behind-the-scenes workings of several of the big stunts in the movie. The big explosion scene at the end is certainly the highlight.

There are a few other special features, and don't forget that the movie itself is extended and unrated (I noticed a little more almost-nudity, among other things). The special features are quite good, as they provide a more detailed glimpse into the workings of the movie without spending too much time on any one thing. Recommended.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Report your bad neighbors at RottenNeighbor.com

Okay, I'm pissed off. As an Internet Marketing Director and the creator of Movie-Source.com, a relatively good but ultimately un-original site (how many movie websites are there out there), I always get annoyed when someone creates a website that gets some major press attention, lots of traffic, good advertising dollars and probably only took a week or two to create.

RottenNeighbors.com is a great idea for a site. The implementation might not be perfect, but it's good enough... based on Google Maps, anyone can add an address and write a short article about a rotten neighbor they have living neighbor. People can vent about nosy bastards, sexual predators, wife beaters and loud dogs in any way they want. At some point, the site could be a decent way to check out the quality of a neighborhood.

Anyway, check it out, but while I give it props, I am extremely annoyed I didn't think of such a simple idea myself!

Monday, October 8, 2007

Take a horror movie survey - win 6 DVDs

As Halloween is fast approaching, I figured I'd get rid of some DVDs I had lying around (most, if not all, are unopened), but don't think I'm going to give them away for nothing. No, I require just about 60 seconds of your life to take a horror survey, which allows you to rank the best and worst horror franchises and dictate what the most anticipated horror movie of 2007 is.

The horror movie survey is now closed, but you can see some of the horror movie survey results here.

No more female leads in movies? And no more Wonder Woman?

There will be no more movies where the main character is a woman, at least in the land of Warner Brothers, where the president of production has allegedly made a decree that "We are no longer doing movies with women in the lead." This comes from Deadline Hollywood writer Nikki Finke, who claims she heard the news from three different producers.

After films like The Brave One, starring big box office draw Jodie Foster, and The Invasion, starring Nicole Kidman, failed to perform, women are out as leads. This has some DC fans worried that the long awaited comic book movie Wonder Woman may never make it to the big screen, unless Brad Pitt is cast as the title character.

Movies starring women have rarely done as well as men, but there of course have been notable exceptions (although those exceptions are generally more critical than financial in nature). Of course, it is quite foolish to establish a precedent for all future movies, as just because there have been a few financial flops this year doesn't mean that movies starring women on their own are guaranteed failures. At the very least, Warner Brothers should try to make high quality films on lower budgets; if movies starring women are doing as well, then cut costs and get the critics behind you.

The Brave One received mixed critical reviews (though I and everyone I know liked it), and The Invasion was a disaster from the beginning with no fault to Kidman (the movie was delayed over a year, the instant kiss of death, and received no marketing from Warner Brothers whatsoever). Other 2007 films starring females such as Lucky You (Drew Barrymore) did bad because they looked bad.

Bottom line is that Warner Brothers should worry more about making good movies and less about who is starring in them.

Following the poor performance of the Jodie Foster-starring The Brave One and the Nicole Kidman vehicle The Invasion, Warner Bros. President of production has made the decree that "We are no longer doing movies with women in the lead," writes Nikki Finke at Deadline Hollywood.

Finke writes: 'This comes to me from three different producers, so I know it's real.'

With the policy now being that every film produced by Warner Bros. must have a male lead, the future of a Wonder Woman movie looks grim indeed. While it cannot be argued that the woman-starring Elektra and Catwoman both left much to be desired, it seems utterly foolish to think that Warner Bros. would pass on making a long in-development film about one of DC Comic's most iconic characters due to this new policy.

Nicole Kidman and Julia Roberts to team up?

It may be too early to say whether both actresses are past their prime, but if there are two actresses that come to mind when you think of drawing power, box office demand and pure salary, it's Julia Roberts and Nicole Kidman.

According to Fox News, the Pretty Woman star may join Kidman in the upcoming movie Monte Carlo, based on the novel known as "Headhunters". Isn't "Headhunters" a better name than Monte Carlo?

Monte Carlo/Headhunters is about three school teachers in the Midwest who pose as socialites in the world's glamorous gambling capitol and end up hooking up with some billionaires. Apparently, the movie is an update of "How to Marry a Millionaire", but isn't it based on "Headhunters". I'm confused. And I'm confused as to why this movie sounds good to anyone, and why Kidman and Roberts continue to show films below what they're capable of.

Everquest movie coming in 2009?

It's always a scary prospect, but I'm sure fans of the video game will be delighted: Everquest is coming to the big screen, according to Variety. Michael Gordon, the writer of the hit film 300, will write the adaptation of the game as Sony plans to release the film by 2009.

I'm not familiar with the plot of Everquest, so here's what the article reads: The plot of the multiplayer game revolves around the world of Norrath, where players interact with other players and fight off creatures while going on quests for treasure. The game stood as the most popular role playing videogame from 2000 to 2004, before World of Warcraft launched.

Wow, sounds like it is going to be a video game version of The Lord of the Rings, which, like almost all other video game adaptations, means it is going to suck.

Radha Mitchell breaks The Code

Radha Mitchell, the star of Silent Hill, has been selected to star in The Code for Millennium Films. Variety also reports that Morgan Freeman and Antonio Banderas will also be involved in the project.

The crime drama revolves around a seasoned thief who trains a younger crook to help him pull one last job in order to pay his debt to the Russian Mob. Mimi Leder is directing a screenplay by Ted Humphrey.

The film will begin shooting later this month in Sofia, Bulgaria at the Nu Boyana Film Center.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

DVD review: Jericho, Season 1 (2006)

Is Jericho the most underrated television show on network TV? Many people have never heard of it, it only scraped by to manage a second season (which premieres in January 2008) and its subject matter isn't exactly cheerful, but Jericho, about a town that must come together after most of the United States is ravaged by nuclear war, is an effective drama-thriller that people should certainly check out on DVD (the first season was just recently released).

Jericho stars Skeet Ulrich, among others (including the very pretty Ashley Scott), as a young man who has returned to his hometown (where his father is mayor and brother is sheriff, and he has traditionally been on the wrong side of the law) just in time for a mushroom cloud to be seen over Denver, and reports of other explosions in Washington, D.C., Atlanta and San Diego as well as multiple other locations.

Immediately, the leaders of the town find themselves forced to act quickly to maintain order and control and, of course, figure out what has happened. Is the country under attack? Is the government still intact? Those questions linger throughout the season, as well as other mysteries in terms of where was Ulrich's character for five years, what is the true nature of the new guy in town and are loved ones in other cities really dead?

Jericho is the latest in a series of serial dramas trying to capitalize on what Lost managed to do: stick a bunch of characters in an isolated situation, have the mysteries surrounding their situation remain story arcs for the entire season or even the series, and offer individual stories for each episode. Of course, Jericho isn't supernatural and thus doesn't quite have the same intrigue as Lost, but you get the point.

I'm halfway through the third disc as of writing this review, but I'm certainly hooked. The first several episodes are hair tingling, as, of course, the first episode features a nuclear blast and lots of confusion. Subsequent episodes offer storylines revolving around nuclear fallout, escaped prisoners, stealing and looting, and so on and so forth. One especially eerie moment shows nuclear warheads being launched from the United States, presumably showing a counter attack. Other mysteries include who is in charge of the country, as so far there has been no live communication from the government, but broadcasts and food deliveries from China.

The show works to a large array for interesting characters, some intriguing relationships and relatively fast-paced stories. The acting is good, and you'll recognize several of the actors involve. The very premise of a show set in a post-nuclear America is enough to make me wet my pants.

That being said, Jericho could improve in a few parts. The show isn't quite as gritty as it probably should be to be realistic, as it's hard to believe that a month after the explosions no one would have branched out far enough to learn exactly what has happened. Even with several of the big cities destroyed, that would still leave hundreds of millions of people still alive, and it probably isn't too realistic that every resident would choose to just stay in town rather than figure out the truth. While people's lives don't go back to normal, they certainly try to maintain some normalcy; this is believable, but only to a point. If the country was under attack, I think most people would be on guard all the time until they knew everything was over.

Interestingly, the show most similar to Jericho is Battlestar Galactica, as that Sci-Fi Channel show carries the same themes: a small group of humans banding together after a nuclear holocaust, unsure of how many other survivors are out there, and having to deal with law and order in a new age. Unfortunately, Jericho isn't nearly as political, gritty or theme-based as Galactica, but for a network show set in modern day, it is quite good.

Overall, I would highly recommend Jericho!

Movie Review: The Sleeping Dictionary (2003)


Here's my review for The Sleeping Dictionary, which was released on DVD way back in 2003...

We all know it, even the women: Jessica Alba is one hot young woman. She epitomizes good-looking in the 21st century. Most men would risk the herpes rumor just to have one night with her. And that's why I risked everything - and I mean everything - by watching The Sleeping Dictionary, a movie I neither needed to nor particularly wanted to watch, other than to see Alba walk around half naked the entire time.

The Sleeping Dictionary is about a young, uptight British officer who is sent to Sarawak under orders from the government. There he finds a native culture unlike anything he's ever known, and an incredibly beautiful girl named Selima (Alba) who, by chance, has been selected to be his "sleeping dictionary," his guide to learning the local language, and his personal concubine. Now, most men would take full advantage of this situation, but John (Hugh Dancy), with his conservative values, denies Selima at first, causing plenty of tension and fighting between the two. But as they slowly become more accustomed to one another (i.e. screwing), John finds himself falling in love with this girl who is completely off limits, at least in an emotional sense. While his duties lead him to a British girl, his heart remains with Selima, but will they and can they ever be together?

The movie is a surprisingly decent romantic drama set against a backdrop of British expansion into innocent "native" lands. It is quite clear that writer/director Guy Jenkin wanted to make a sweeping epic out of his picture, but he just isn't the right man for the job. His film is entertaining and presents likable and interesting characters, and the romance between Alba and Dancy is believable. The chemistry between the two is good, and that alone makes The Sleeping Dictionary enjoyable.

But...

There's just something missing from the film. It lacks a certain edge needed for a period piece such as this, and the movie comes off just a bit too much like an excuse to highlight Alba's looks. It's not that Jenkin flaunts her looks, but The Sleeping Dictionary seems built around the capabilities of Alba. No offense to Alba, but she's no Meryl Streep. Perhaps at some point she will be able to power a drama herself, but right now, and especially a few years ago when this film was released, her acting capabilities are a bit limited. The Sleeping Dictionary, overall, feels a bit light and fluffy, which seems to match quite well to Alba's performance. It's not that she's bad - she's actually quite decent here - but there is something about the whole screenplay, casting and acting that don't seem quite right for a movie looking to be a sweeping, epic, period piece drama.

The Sleeping Dictionary is a surprisingly fun and enjoyable little romantic drama, but it isn't a movie that could have ever won awards. There is a little bit of sex and nudity throughout, for those who are interested, though it is quite clear that Jessica Alba used a double for those scenes. It's still nice to pretend, isn't it?

Movie Review: Black Sheep (2007)

Okay, I'll admit it... This isn't my best written movie review by any means. For one, I'm tired (I fell asleep halfway through writing it). Two, I'm hung over. And three... I'm ashamed that my Seattle Seahawks embarrassed themselves so badly.

Without further ado, here is a part of the Black Sheep movie review...

Humanity has faced its share of monsters. We've survived alligators, crocodiles, sharks and snakes, but never have we faced such a serious threat: sheep. Yes, those lovable, cuddly, wool-providing livestock can be quite ferocious, especially when they're infected with a radioactive substance that turns them into flesh-loving mutants.

Black Sheep, the B-grade New Zealand horror flick, is about just such a likely attack, as a man and a woman find themselves at the center of a crisis where deadly sheep are unleashed upon the countryside, and one bite from the animals could cause massive mutation.

Read the full Black Sheep movie review...

Saturday, October 6, 2007

The Seeker: The Dark is Rising Completely Flops

Wow. Fox's new film, The Seeker: The Dark is Rising, debuted on a large 3,100 screens across the country, but, apparently no one ever knew it was coming. The film opened to only $1 million on Friday, which means at best it will probably achieve $3 million for the weekend.

The movie looked pretty bad as previews had it appearing like a dreary yet more slapstick version of Harry Potter, despite being based on a classic fantasy kid's book by Susan Cooper. Of course, I remember reading the book when I was younger and not really liking it...

Overall, the weekend was a bust, according to Box Office Prophets. The Heartbreak Kid, directed by the Farrelly brothers and starring Ben Stiller, looks like it will achieve around $16 million for the weekend, about half of what some experts were estimating. Last week's #1 film, The Game Plan, will most likely remain in the top spot with just a million more.

Somehow, Feel the Noise, another under-advertised dance flick that looked pretty bad, managed to earn more money on Friday than The Seeker, though only by $0.1 million. Expect $3 million for that film.