THRS Movie Reviews

Movie Review: The Lone Ranger

July 8th, 2013 at 6:15 pm by under The Hampton Roads Show, THRS Movie Reviews, Uncategorized

CLICK HERE to watch the official trailer for The Lone Ranger.

Now playing in theaters across Hampton Roads.

The-Lone-Ranger-Movie-PosterThis new incarnation of The Lone Ranger stars Armie Hammer as the masked one and Johnny Depp as his faithful sidekick Tonto.

We get the whole backstory here and then some!  We learn how Tonto and the Lone Ranger came to be partners and why he wears a mask and why Tonto was crazy, but we never find out why there are so many chase scenes, shoot outs, and explosions in the wild West in this film. Ugh.

There are a ton of  subplots and characters shoved into this film.  Gore Verbinski directed this and guess what else he directed?  Pirates of the Caribbean!  All of them.

Armie Hammer does an adequate job here, but for me Johnny Depp is just Jack Sparrow reincarnated with make up on speaking broken English to make us buy into him being an old Indian.  The Sparrow-ish dry wit and Depp-esque timing on the humor make it hard for us to forget he’s Johnny Depp.

This is a Disney film, and for the life of me, I just don’t get it. I expected to be much more entertained and feel something through the story. Plus there’s this weird mingling of ancient Tonto pretending to be a statue in a traveling sideshow who comes to life and tells the old story of the Lone Ranger and Tonto to a passing kid. This inner-cutting between old Tonto and young Tonto is really distracting and makes the movie a lot longer than it needs to be — like an hour longer than it needs to be!  Seems more like a ploy to make little kids interested in a film they probably wouldn’t otherwise be interested in.

If you’re askin’…skip this one Tonto!  I mean PRONTO.

TWO OUT OF FIVE COOKIES

Rated PG-13 for sequences of intense action and violence, and some suggestive material.

 


Dreamworks’ TURBO is coming! Get tickets to an advance screening!

July 8th, 2013 at 6:50 am by under The Hampton Roads Show, THRS Movie Reviews

Tidewater AAA has teamed up with DreamWorks Animation and 20th Century Fox Pictures for a special screening here in Hampton Roads!  So how can you get your hands on passes!?  It’s easy!

Just CLICK HERE for all the details!


White House Down: Not as bad as it looks

July 1st, 2013 at 1:46 pm by under The Hampton Roads Show, THRS Movie Reviews

CLICK HERE to watch the trailer for White House Down.

Now playing in theaters across Hampton Roads.

white_house_down_poster

If you are like me, when you saw previews for White House Down, you thought… That looks terrible.  I’m here to tell you; it’s not that bad.

Here’s the jist of the story:  Channing Tatum plays divorced dad John Cale, a one-time Iraq-War vet now serving on the security detail for the Speaker of the House.

He’s had a rough patch being able to be there for his 11-year-old daughter Emily (Joey King) – whose personal hero is the President of the United States.  Cale lands an interview for the President’s security detail and decides to take Emily with him for a tour after the interview.

Little do they know an elaborate plan to take over the White House and blow up (essentially) the world is underway.  Before long Cale is working along side the President (Jamie Foxx) to save him (and them) all.

I’m not a fan of Channing Tatum; I am a fan of Jamie Foxx (when he puts on the I-can-act hat).  Neither of these actors are particularly great in this film, but they do give enough to make them believable although the characters themselves remain rather thin throughout.  Not surprisingly, little Emily is repeatedly the hero.  She’s not scared of the terrorists.

Director Roland Emmerich is no stranger to blowing things up that mean something to Americans.  From Independence Day to the end-of-the-world flick 2012, he manages to destroy all that is sacred.  In White House Down, he blows the U.S. Capitol Rotunda to bits in the first 15 minutes (something you’ve no doubt seen a million times in the trailer) before proceeding to take out room after room of historic significance in the White House.

The story itself is preposterous, but somehow plausible.  The fact that Cale and the President survive in scene after scene is preposterous, but somehow believable.  The explosions and shoot-em-up scenes are larger than life, but somehow we buy it.  And, despite the fact that I thought this was going to be tremendously unbearable based on the trailer, I was pleasantly surprised that I found myself able to sit through the entire film, and come out on the other side fairly entertained.

White House Down is not the best film of the summer by any stretch, but you won’t ask for your money back.  In fact, you may just look forward to the day it permeates cable channels on Sunday afternoons so you can catch the explosions and one-liners whenever you want.

THREE OUT OF FIVE COOKIES

Rated PG-13 for prolonged sequences of action and violence including intense gunfire and explosions, some language and a brief sexual image. 

Don’t be scared of this prequel!

June 24th, 2013 at 3:33 pm by under The Hampton Roads Show, THRS Movie Reviews

CLICK HERE to watch the trailer for Monsters University.

Monsters University is now playing in theaters across Hampton Roads.

Monsters-University-PosterMonsters University is the prequel  to Disney-Pixar’s hugely successful and endearing films Monsters Inc.  

We get a little backstory on the childhood of Mike Wazowski (Billy Crystal).  We find out how he came to want to be the best scarer and what lands him at Monsters University with books all around him studying feverishly.

It’s not long before he encounters James P. Sullivan — otherwise known as Sully — (John Goodman).  Sully of course comes from a long line of scarers and feels like all he has to do is show up – no studying required.

Right out of the gate Mike and Sully are at odds over their different feelings about scaring.  Soon they find themselves on the outs of the Scare Program and looking for a fraternity.   This is where the plot line of the 1980s flick Revenge of the Nerds takes over.   Before you know it they have pledged the misfits frat — Oozma Kappa (We’re O.K.!), and they are spending their first night in the house.

Their only hope to stay on the scare path is a campus-wide scaring competition between fraternities and sororities overseen by one of the founding mothers of the university — Dean Hardscrabble (Helen Mirren).

The misfits fraternity manages to band together against insurmountable odds and give it everything they’ve got to stay on campus… You’ll just have to see how it works out.

Monsters University has some slow parts, but it manages to stay true to the original characters while doing something tricky as prequels go… Ad that is developing the characters into who we already know them to be, without losing the audience of the character.

Writer/Director Dan Scanlon (along with his co-writers Robert Baird and Daniel Gerson) manages to take us on a great ride full of lessons for kids and reminders for adults told through characters we already love.  (And that’s saying something!  This is Scanlon’s first big film… He’s done art direction on some films and is the 13th writer listed on Cars, but other than that not much to speak of until now. )

Monsters University is heartwarming and reliable; never a disappointment.  It’s not as exceptional as Monsters Inc. was, but the characters are there, it’s fun to watch them become the characters we know and see some of the history that created these best of friends.  

Don’t be scared of this prequel!

(I really was disappointed at the end that I didn’t at least get a character reminiscent of “Booger Presley on a mean guitar, and a rap by little old me Lamar.”  Revenge of the Nerds reference for those playing the home game.)

FOUR OUT OF FIVE COOKIES
Rated G.


Dying to watch World War Z

June 24th, 2013 at 3:26 pm by under The Hampton Roads Show, THRS Movie Reviews

CLICK HERE to watch the official trailer for World War Z.

Now playing in theaters across Hampton Roads.

world_war_z_poster

World War Z is based on the novel by Max Brooks.  The book is way more complex than the film, and for that reason never quite pulls off the real story.

We find earth in a battle to survive against a zombie plague taking over all corners of the globe.  A rapidly spreading virus of some kind is turning humans into zombies at breakneck speed.

It’s up to former United Nations employee  Gerry Lane (Brad  Pitt) to try and save us.  He globe trots in search of Patient Zero and the actual start of the outbreak, only to wind up at the World Health Organization looking for other viruses.

This is an interesting take on the next world war and a treatise on how we must find a way to work together for the common good if the human race is to survive.

Brad Pitt is ok here as the hero, but some of the other character actors tend to outshine him.  Some of the zombie special effects are over done especially in the huge sweeping scenes where we see the zombies practically flying they’re running so fast.  I wish the pace of the scenes would have slowed down to make the animation more believable. 

As for the pace of the film itself, it felt a little herky jerky.  Lots of starts and stops in the story.  By the way is Brad Pitt’s character the only one on the planet with family to protect here?  Felt like it!

If you like to jump from a good startle, there are a few times you’ll find yourself doing just that!  

THREE OUT OF FIVE COOKIES

Rated PG-13 for intense frightening zombie sequences, violence and disturbing images. 

Didn’t want This is the End to end

June 17th, 2013 at 1:22 pm by under The Hampton Roads Show, THRS Movie Reviews

CLICK HERE to watch the trailer for This Is the End.

This-Is-The-End-poster

In This is the End, Seth Rogan, James Franko, Jay Baruchel, Jonah Hill, Danny McBride and a host of other celebrities play themselves in this Hollywood blockbuster wanna-be film complete with a science-fiction/religious end-of-the-world plot — coupled with true comedy and absolute horror and fright!

When the world starts going to heck during a party at James Franko’s house, a handful of celebrities hole up in Franko’s spectacular Hollywood home.  But dwindling supplies and giant egos are making things quite difficult for these actors.

The entire film is filled with fantastic cameos of real actors playing themselves and poking fun at what we think they do with their lives… all while this doomsday story is playing out.

This is a fantastically fresh concept, and I loved just about everything  about it.  What didn’t I Iove?  Much of the acting is weak, and, I believe, it’s done on purpose; so no harm, no foul (even though it can be distracting).  And also… well, it is extremely Rated R and at times it is wholly inappropriate.   But, it’s always hilarious.  If you are easily offended with very bad words or talk of graphic sexual situations, this is not the film for you.  But, if you loved Pineapple Express and believed that those characters must be “just like that in real life”, you are going to be very satisfied!  Because they are!! Who knew?!?  *Wink, Wink*

Seth Rogen and his Superbad writing partner, Evan Goldberg teamed up to do this script and its directed by the duo too… A directing debut for both that looks anything but!  They manage to maintain momentum, flip off the entertainment business while entertaining us and showing that even these actors can have a heart.  Really Shocking stuff!!

You believe that the dialogue coming out of their mouths is actually leaving their brains as original thought. The conversations are brilliant — It’s simply believe-able on every level.  I laughed until my sides hurt.  I was so bummed when I looked up and realized THIS IS THE END!?!?!  I didn’t want it to end.  In fact,  I can’t wait to see it again!

FOUR AND A HALF COOKIES

Rated R for crude and sexual content throughout, brief graphic nudity, pervasive language, drug use and some violence. 


Man of Steel takes off; lands with a thud

June 17th, 2013 at 1:09 pm by under The Hampton Roads Show, THRS Movie Reviews

CLICK HERE to watch the MAN OF STEELE trailer.

Man of Steel is now playing in 2D and 3D and iMax at various locations across Hampton Roads!

man-of-steel-poster-2Man of Steel is not a re-telling of the story of superman, it’s a whole re-imagining of the story.  Changing things up and shaking up characters is the order of the day.

We get the back story of Kal El – son of Jor El (Russell Crowe) sent from an imploding Krypton to live on Earth and carry on the Krypton DNA (and help the people of Earth).  Of course, on Earth he’s taken in by the couple who finds him – the Kents (Kevin Costner and Diane Lane) where he is named Clarke (Henry Cavill is the grown version).  We see his childhood and coming of age told in fits and starts as flashbacks along Clarke’s journey to find himself. 

It’s not long before General Zod (Michael Shannon) from his home planet comes looking for him so he can get the DNA and take over earth.  Clarke now the Man of Steel will have none of that. And so begins a series of long, loud, and at times boring crash/bash/explosion scenes. 

Along the way Clarke meets Lois Lane (Amy Adams) a reporter for the Daily Planet.  I’m stopping short here because this storyline is one of my problems with the film.  As a lover of the superman stories of old – I loved the quirky secret love for Lois that Clarke had and her funny hard nose journalist sense that there was something more to this Clarke Kent guy.  That’s not in here!

Batman’s Christopher Nolan produced and helped Dark Knight writer David Goyer with the story – which I really did not enjoy.  For me – Director Zack Snyder managed to take both the humor and the heart out of Superman. 

And at 2hours 28minutes long it was too long!  If you go, skip shelling out the extra cash for 3D – noway is it worth it to me.  And if you are one of those people like me who waits through all the credits for a bonus scene (known as an Easter egg scene) — none here.  But do keep an eye out during the film… There are some Easter eggs teasing the next villain.  Watch for key logos on some buildings.  

Here’s what’s worse!  We only see Cavill shirtless once.  This film was disappointing on so many levels!  *wink*

Three out of Five cookies

Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi violence, action and destruction, and for some language. 

Not quite sold on The Internship

June 10th, 2013 at 12:08 pm by under The Hampton Roads Show, THRS Movie Reviews

Click here to watch the official trailer for The Internship.

The Internship is now playing at theaters across Hampton Roads.

internship Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn play two 40–something best friends who suddenly find themselves out of a job that they were really good at – salesmen.  They could sell anything.

They soon set out to find new work (and prove themselves to the people who love them that they can and will get it together).

Billy (Vince Vaughn) stumbles across an internship opportunity with search engine giant Google.  Nick (Owen Wilson) is all in to try — after all if they can sell anything, why not sell themselves as interns.  So, despite the fact that neither of them has any idea how to use a computer and both still carry flip phones, the dynamic duo tries to work for Google.

Once on campus they must spend the summer proving themselves worthy of employment.  Interns are divided into teams and the team with the most points at the end of the summer will be offered jobs.  Billy and Nick find themselves on a team made up of outcasts – the interns who didn’t get picked for any other team.  

There are a series of scenes in the film that asks the audience to suspend belief.  Which typically would be fine since that’s what we do in movies anyway.  My mother’s in her 60s and she had a smart phone and uses Google all the time.  I think it’s crazy to ask the audience to believe that these young forty-something dudes have no idea where to look on a WebCam, how to pull up the computer, use a smart phone, understand what an app is, or know anything about pop culture and the apps that are talked about daily in the news, on TV, and in print media.

I am not saying that there aren’t people like this, and I am not judging or saying anything is wrong with not understanding computers. What I am saying is that I find it crazy to believe these characters in this situation.  It kind of felt like the gang from Wedding Crashers got back together and decided to try to get a job — except the thing, is they aren’t the same characters, and this is a different movie.

The Internship is a buddy comedy, and it does have a heart.  It has moments where it succeeds, and if you are a comedy fan – I would say just mild laughs here.  The story is based on the idea of salesmen trying to sell themselves as interns.  I, for one, am not sold on the idea.

TWO OUT OF FIVE COOKIES

Rated PG-13 for sexuality, some crude humor, partying and language. 

 


Now You See Me full of tricks

June 5th, 2013 at 12:00 pm by under The Hampton Roads Show, THRS Movie Reviews

CLICK HERE to watch the trailer for Now You See Me.

Now playing in theaters across Hampton Roads.

movies_now-you-see-meTalk about an all star cast!  I couldn’t wait to see this film for no other reason than the cast list… Here goes: Woody Harrelson, Jesse Eisenberg, Isla Fisher, Dave Franko, Michael Caine, Mark Ruffalo, and Morgan Freeman.  With this cast, it has to be great, right???  That’s what I was thinking.

The plot goes a little something like this:  four different magicians/illusionists are brought together by some unknown person to form “The Four Horsemen”.  They are an eclectic group whose mission, it seems, is to – like Robin Hood – steal from the rich and give to their audiences.  But they do this in extremely larger-than-life ways.

Beginning in the big room at the MGM Grand, they seemingly pull off a heist of epic proportions – robbing a bank in Paris, then showering the audience with the bills.  This sets everything in motion and brings in an FBI detective (Mark Ruffalo) to solve the crime. Two more illusions/heists baffle and bewilder the FBI (and us in the audience) before the giant finale and explanations for everything begin to unfold.

Now You See Me is filled with of twists, magic explanations and very little acting.  I don’t know the names of The Four Horsemen, and I didn’t care.  For so many good actors to be pulled into one film, you would think that the script would have developed the characters and let them actually act.  But it doesn’t.  The screenplay is smart, but maybe too smart for its own good.  It seems to be overly involved in the whodunit explanations of how the writers think they have baffled the audience. 

Instead the audience feels dragged along through a maze of facts and plot twists (maybe a couple too many) that leave us feeling unsatisfied, largely because we are never really connected to the characters.  They are easily forgettable characters given the lack of storyline they each get to play with.  The one exception is Morgan Freeman.  He plays a magic debunker who keeps explaining the tricks to us.  He gets to act.  I’m not sure we get much out of it other than one more plot twist, but at least he got to act!

Now You See Me dragged a bit in places, but the large scale production value sometimes made up for it.  A Little more than slight of hand going on here – but remember all movies are magic.  I just felt tricked. 

THREE COOKIES out of five.

Rated PG-13 for language, some action and sexual content. 

Boldly going… where the last one went…

May 24th, 2013 at 5:54 pm by under THRS Movie Reviews

CLICK HERE to watch the trailer for Star Trek Into Darkness.

Now playing across Hampton Roads and Northeastern North Carolina.

StarTrekIntoDarknessEnterprisePosterStar Trek Into Darkness is the sequel to the franchise reboot launched by J.J. Abrams in 2009.  The writers of Into Darkness have opted to stick with the story flow and characters of the originals, but Abrams tried to take the action up a notch.

Into Darkness finds our faithful characters quietly existing and –led by Capt Kirk — roguely bucking the intergalactic rule book much to the dismay of the rule-following Spock.

It’s not long before they have to begin battling a serious bad guy terrorist – no spoiler here!!  But, if you know the second film in the original film series –  that’s a hint.  And I’m sure if you’re a Trekkie madly awaiting this film and somehow you didn’t see it this weekend — you still already know.  (Nevertheless I won’t mention the name of the returning villain.)   Of course we have to find the bad guy in the middle of some Klingons right from the beginning!  And that leads to a massive escape scene!  (This made me question — Might this be a preview of what a new Star Wars might look like with J.J. Abrams at the helm?)

Of course the crew of the Enterprise carries out its mission as tasked to battle the villain, but along the way the story unfolds as more about the development of the characters and especially about Kirk and Spock getting to know each other than anything…which I found refreshing and interesting.  

I’ve never been a particular fan of Chris Pine as an actor, but I do find him doing an above par job as Kirk.  And Zachary Quinto as Spock continues to shine as Spock!  I love watching him; he’s always spot on, but this time he seems to have added more layers to the character.

Director J.J. Abrams manages to go bigger and relatively better in the special effects and explosions department.  I was never distracted by the CGI, and found it believable even in the middle of an unbelievable scenario.  Some of the 3D was particularly impressive.  It’s been a long time since I ducked in my seat to avoid something seemingly flying right at me… But I did.  Twice.

The 2009 writing team of Alex KurtzmanRoberto Orci were joined this time around by Abrams’ pal and partner on many projects Damon Lindelof.  Not sure how they managed it as a team, but the character development seemed stronger here, and the story seemed more tightly woven than 2009. 

One interesting thing to note for me is in the casting – particularly of the bad guy (Benedict Cumberbatch), but also in the choice of Alice Eve as Carol Marcus.  I found it distracting, maybe the accents had something to do with it?  They just seemed weak choices to me.

I liked Into Darkness well enough, not as much as Star Trek 2009, but I think that’s because I was high on the newness and refreshed take on the characters then.  Now that they are settling in, you get to be a bit more nit picky.  There are things I liked better than 2009, too, namely the focus on characters.  No doubt about one thing, with Into Darkness, Abrams and crew boldly go exactly where they want it to go, and Star Trek fans are enjoying the ride. 

THREE OUT OF FIVE COOKIES

Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi action and violence.