Monday, May 30, 2011

Faster (2010)

This is just a generic revenge flick, but it was great to see The Rock move away from those crappy Disney family movies.

When Driver (Dwayne Johnson) is released from prison, he doesn't hesitate once and immediately sprints into action. For a decade, Driver has been stewing in the joint just waiting for his chance to get revenge on those who wronged him. Driver was sent to prison after being set up with a bank heist, during which his brother was brutally killed by those who set him up. Now that he's out, no one can stop him. On his trail are a grizzled, junkie cop named Humpheries (Billy Bob Thornton) and a straight-laced officer named Cicero (Carla Gugino). The two of them, working side-by-side but not by choice, quickly figure out who Driver is going to target next and how he's going to do the deed. They're going to do what they can to stop him, or maybe they'll just stand to the side and watch the carnage. Either way, Driver isn't going down without a fight.

There was nothing great about this movie at all. A simple plot that could've been no longer one sheet of paper, and a villain that you see coming a mile away. That being said, revenge movies are fun. You know what you're getting when you walk in, and that's what you will have seen when you walk out. The Rock just needs to stick with action or action/comedy movies. Those are his bread and butter. Fans of revenge films will like this, otherwise stay away. Grade: C

Fast Five (2011)

Believe it or not, this really is the best movie of a Fast and the Furious franchise. I was surprised that I enjoyed it as much as I did.

After Brian O'Conner (Paul Walker) and his crew break Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) out of jail, they go on the lam. They wind up in Rio and quickly get a job boosting cars from a train. Of course, the cars aren't as they seem and the crew gets on the bad side of a major crime lord. Meanwhile, US authorities including Agent Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson), are fresh on O'Conner and Toretto's tail. So, the gang decides to play both sides against each other, while at the same time pull off an Ocean's Eleven style heist to take the kingpin's money. They're going to need help, so they enlist the services of their cohorts from the other Fast movies. It may be working, it may not. Then again, maybe that's the point.

"The Rock" was such a boost to this film. With Diesel and Walker having a wooden-acting staring contest throughout, throwing a dose of charisma in there helped immensely. The plot was not perfect, not at all, but it was solid and a hell of a lot of fun. Hopefully, this is the end of the crew's capering because the filmmakers should stop on a high note. Surprisingly, I recommend this movie. Grade: B

Sunday, May 29, 2011

The Green Hornet (2011)

Ugh. I don't really have much else to say about this. Let's just get into it.

Britt Reid (Seth Rogen) is the playboy son of a powerful newspaper publisher who does nothing but throw wild parties. When his father suddenly dies, Britt takes control of The Daily Sentinel. Britt also fires all the staff of the mansion except for his maid and Kato (Jay Chou). Kato was the elder Reid's friend/mechanic. Turns out, Kato is also a very skilled martial artist. After a drunken night of thievery, they decide to become superheroes. With Kato's fighting techniques and Britt's money, the two can design and build whatever they need to take down the bad guys, the kingpin Chudnofsky (Christoph Waltz). As the Green Hornet and his sidekick start to wage a war on Chudnofsky, they realize it's becoming to much for them to handle. They may be out of their element.

I can't really go into much more detail because, frankly, I don't want to. The movie was colossal disappointment considering the trailer looked so good. Credit where credit is due, some of the fight scenes and choreography were cool, but that's all. And poor Michel Gondry. The director just keeps going downhill since Eternal Sunshine. Don't be surprised if this reigns supreme as the worst movie of 2011. Avoid this flick like the friggin' plague. Grade: D+

Love & Other Drugs (2010)

Just a massive disappointment, even within itself. The movie started out so well and then took a nosedive in the second half that sent it careening out of control. But hey, at least part of it took place in Chicago.

Set in 1996, Jamie (Jake Gyllenhaal) is a womanizing ne'er-do-well who can't seem to figure out a career path. When his parents find out he's been fired, his wealthy brother (Josh Gad) offers him a job as a pharmaceutical sales rep. Jamie reluctantly agrees and begins working for Pfizer, selling Zoloft and other drugs. While talking to a doctor, Jamie meets Maggie (Anne Hathaway), who is suffering from the early stages of Parkinson's. Maggie is a loner who doesn't like to hold down relationships for longer than when the sex goes bad. Of course, this is right up Jamie's alley and the two eventually strike up a dalliance. In the midst of their tryst, Jamie scores the big gig and starts repping Pfizer's new wonder-drug Viagra. The little blue pill blows up and Jamie is living the good life. Only now, he wants to take Maggie with him and she refuses. From then on, Jamie's got to work real hard to prove he's worth her time.

Did you catch that? The little tweak of the story towards the middle about their relationship turning is just dull. I swear I've seen it done better in kids movies. The storyline was what dragged this movie down because the performances weren't that bad. Especially Josh Gad, who got some great one-liners in as the comic relief of the film. I cannot recommend this overrated movie unless you plan on turning it off halfway through. Grade: C-

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Top 10 of 2010

Well, after several unsuccessful attempts to complete a video Best Of... like I did last year, I decided to just write my Top 10 of 2010 list. Since we're 6 months into 2011, I've had plenty of time to catch up on 2010 releases I missed. I've also included my Bottom 5 of the year as well. Here we go:

Top 10:

Honorable mentions: 127 Hours, The Ghost Writer, The Other Guys

10. Exit Through the Gift Shop - What a cool-ass movie. The may-or-may-not-be directed by Banksy movie takes you through the eyes of an aspiring street artist who subsequently proves how easy it could be to become one.

9. Toy Story 3 - It's Pixar. Whatever movie they put out is almost guaranteed to make top ten lists. What I liked about this was the somewhat dark tone it takes about halfway through. Not many kids cartoons have the huevos to do that.

8. Scott Pilgrim vs. the World - This is a basically a video game put on screen. I'm not talking about a video game movie like Mortal Kombat, I'm saying this could literally be a kick-ass video game if put out.

7. Buried - As awesome as 127 Hours was, this movie felt more intense and much more harrowing. Ryan Reynolds played scared to perfection.

6. The Town - Remember when Ben Affleck was just an act-when-he-wanted-to actor? Thanks to this, I'm starting to forget that and think of him as a great director. He knows how to turn a simple story into complex tale of family and trust.

5. True Grit - See, you make remakes of films that weren't terrific the first time around and make them great. The Coen brothers usually do no wrong and True Grit is their best outing in years. Also, how good was Hailee Steinfeld in her FIRST MOVIE ROLE?

4. The Social Network - I think this made practically all Top Ten lists that I've seen, and rightfully so. The fact that a movie about a website could keep me intrigued is amazing. Bonus points because it's Aaron Sorkin.

3. Animal Kingdom - I hadn't even heard of this movie until some of the acting started to get Oscar buzz and, boy, am I glad I watched it. The characters and the story were both so deep and rich.

2. Inception - How long is too long to stay in awe of that hallway fight scene? The graphics, the cinematography and the directing were just phenomenal. Also, the story didn't get nearly enough credit come awards season.

1. Black Swan - Simply put, Darren Aronofsky knows how to direct a film. He takes this movie about ballet and makes it such a deep and twisting thriller that kept me on the edge of my seat the whole time. And Vincent Cassel deserved an Oscar nod over Mark Ruffalo.

Bottom 5:

Dishonorable mentions: Love & Other Drugs, The Expendables, From Paris With Love

5. The Kids Are All Right - There are worse movies that came out last year, but this made the list because of all the unnecessary hype it got. The acting was OK, but none of the characters stood out or were even likable.

4. Salt - The plot of this movie somehow managed to be both completely predictable and utterly incomprehensible. Salt tries so hard to be Jason Bourne that it's just sad at points.

3. Get Him to the Greek - What a disappointment. I think Russell Brand is hilarious and Jonah Hill is funny enough, but neither did anything. Also, it's weird that Hill played a different character from Forgetting Sarah Marshall, while Brand played the same one.

2. 44 Inch Chest - One guy's wife has an affair and he gets a group of friends together to beat up the male mistress. That's it. It's a 25 minutes movie dragged on for more than an hour and a half. Just plain boring.

1. Cop Out - The biggest problem with this movie is that Kevin Smith directed a flick that he didn't write. Also, the plot sucked...big time.

There you go. Here's to 2011 being a better all-around year for movies. Cheers.