Saturday, November 19, 2011

Twitards, Rejoice!



By Stella Cole, Top Critic
Los Angeles, California

First comes love, then comes marriage.... then comes the parasitic fetus, killing you slowly from the inside out while mind-melding with your new husband and alienating the local K9s. But only if you're Bella Swan, and you're in The Twilight Series: Breaking Dawn, Part 1! This long awaited installment of the fanatically beloved vampire melodrama hit theaters this weekend, and unless you're "mature" or "capable of critical thinking", it does not disappoint. Just when you think that Twilight was sooooo five years ago, Breaking Dawn opens and you remember why you gave up your social life for this franchise in the first place.

This movie has it ALL!! Bella & Edward finally get married. They finally bang. She gets insta-preggers with a half vampire baby who is drinking her blood while in utero. Jacob tells his pack to fuck off. Edward chews the baby out of Bella's tummy, and Jacob falls in love with a five-minute old. Bella dies on the operating table, and Edward bites her all over!! Is she gonna make it? Did Edward turn her in time? Either way, they put her holocaust-worthy corpse in a blue minidress, just in case she pulls through. There are not enough exclamation points in the world to do the plot justice, folks.

Were there any dumb parts, you might ask? Boy, were there! For one thing, the Cullen's "cousins" from Alaska who flew in for the wedding were the skankiest bunch of trannies I've ever seen on the big screen. I guess when author Stephanie Meyer indicated that they were breathtakingly beautiful, she may have been being facetious. Bella's dress looked spectacular from every angle except the front, where some random seams ran diagonally over her boobs instead of under them. The scene where Bella announces the baby's name, Renesmee, was truly snort-worthy. However, in KStews defense, no one, not even Dame Judi Dench, could've delivered those lines any better, it's just a ridiculous plot point that can't be avoided, and no one's fault but Stephanie Meyers's. And finally, the only truly unwatchable scene: Jacob and Sam throw down, as CG wolves, and have a grumble-dog power struggle that ends in Jacob's rejecting Sam's alpha status, forever. Trust me, it's worse than it sounds.

All in all, it was a sheer delight to get to go from such ethereal and magical moments, such as the wedding & honeymoon, to the gross bloody horror that was the birthing of Renesmee. Hair & makeup did not shy away from transforming Bella from a luminous ingenue to a sickly, sallow corpse bride who guzzles blood from a sippy cup. And for any jerks who only tuned into previous installments for the high-speed fight scenes, you'd best look elsewhere, there's very little of that in Breaking Dawn. But if you like love, and marriage, and don't mind a little Rob Zombie in your OBGYN, then you just might agree; Breaking Dawn felt just as satisfying on film as it did in print.

Summary: How can Part 2 possibly top this one? All the good stuff already happened. I guess a little full frontal might help (Lookin' at you here, Summit).

Wags: 5/5

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Drive: Silent, But Deadly!



By Stella Cole, Top Critic
Hollywood, California

Trust me. I look really, really cool when I’m in the car with my mom, windows down, tongue hangin’ out, ears blowin’ in the wind. But nobody, and I mean NOBODY, looks as cool as Ryan Gosling does in his new movie Drive. This totally rad, totally unexpected film is not your average action flick, and Gosling is not your average action star. He’s part Samurai, part Steve McQueen, part cute patootie, and 100% Cool Dude, from the opening credits in their hot pink Dirty Dancing font, all the way to the drive-off-into-the-sunset-with-guts-hangin’-out finale. He could give cool lessons to Spuds MacKenzie, and everyone knows Spuds is the world’s coolest dog.

This Cannes Film Festival favorite tells of the story of a lonely stuntman-slash-getaway driver who finds love and companionship with his neighbor lady and her young son. But when her no-good husband comes home from jail, our hero has to help him pull off one last heist in order to settle his debts from the clink and keep the family safe. Obviously, things don’t go according to plan, and they get mixed up with some real dangerous dudes. But no sweat! Ryan Gosling can just kick their heads in, no problemo, and if he has to kill the whole Hollywood mafia in order to keep his new friends safe, well then, so be it.

Do you like suspense? Drive has it in spades, featuring some of the nail-bitingist chase scenes of all time. The real-time driving effect makes you feel like you’re right there in the car, quietly maneuvering the streets of LA, avoiding the cops at all costs. The violence was pitch-perfect – well-timed, unexpected, and with consequences to boot. Gosling plays the strong, silent type with the kind of noble stoicism that is so hard to come by in Hollywood. He makes everything look easy, and everything feel important, all at the same time. Albert Brooks as head of the Hollywood Jewish mob scene was positively threatening, and Bryan Cranston seemed right at home the grease-monkey-turned-father-figure. Even Carey Mulligan was appropriately doe-eyed and not at all nauseating. Every studio in town should listen up and take some serious notes. This is how you make an action movie that people remember.

Summary: Put your driving gloves on, grab a toothpick and haul ass to your local theater. Drive is not to be missed!

Wags: 5/5

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Contagion Infects You...With Fun!



By Miss Tummy Cole, Top Critic
San Francisco, California

Would you like to watch Gwenyth Paltrow puke up some goop and die? Well, then Contagion is the movie for you! Half Outbreak and half Dawn of the Dead, Contagion marries the best parts of boring cellular science with the joyous delights of watching spoiled white ladies convulse and die. This is one bio-thriller will have you paws-ing the next time you go to drink out of the toilet.

This particular contagion begins with the unfortunate moment where a bat poops and a pig eats it. A supervirus is born. Fast forward to grocery store looting, neighbor-on-neighbor violence, and a government quagmire that promises a vaccine, but fails to deliver. The very future of the human race rests firmly in the hands of a diverse team of scientists & officials who try (and fail) to deal with the two key issues at hand: how to keep the virus from spreading, and how to keep information from trickling out into the public and causing mass hysteria, a problem almost as dangerous as the virus itself.

Boasting an all-star cast with Steven Soderbergh at the helm, Contagion did a decent job of exploring pretty much every angle of a global catastrophe. Kate Winslet, Matt Damon, Marion Cotillard, Lawrence Fishburn, John Hawkes and even ol’ Gwennie all earned their paychecks with believable performances. Jude Law & his fake tooth were passable as the unethical blogger trying to make a buck by claiming he was cured by a big fat placebo. Props to Soderbergh for showcasing the supremely talented Jennifer Ehle as CDC researcher Dr. Ally Hextall. Anyways, I’m still not sure what the moral of the whole story is, but in the event of a vaccine shortage, I now know that the best thing to do is to howl mercilessly, push your way to the front of the line, and bite anyone in the way. Or just run to Canada.

Summary: Worth $10 for the Gwenyth Paltrow autopsy alone.

3/5 Wags

Monday, September 12, 2011

Warrior Holds Its Own



By Karl Scarano-Schulze, Top Critic
Hollywood, California

I’m lucky to have a nice home where I don’t have to fight any big dogs to earn my kibble. Sure, sometimes I like to wrestle with my dad, but it’s all in good fun. But for some dogs I know, fighting is a way of life. They have to stay lean & mean, ready to throw down at any moment, if they want to be top dog. Those guys should go see Warrior.

Warrior is about two estranged brothers who grew up fighting in the mixed-martial arts style, and were both trained by their mean ol’ dad. But then they grow up, and even though their dad is a little better now, life in general has gotten a whole lot tougher. So even though Tommy and Brendan don’t even speak to each other anymore, they wind up as underdog competitors in the world’s most high-profile MMA tournament. Tommy, the nice one, just wants to win some money to save his family home. But Brendan has some much deeper anger issues that he’s trying to punch away. When the tournament winds down to its final two contenders, well, just guess who they are. It’s brother versus brother in the fight of a lifetime!

Much like The Wrestler and last year’s The Fighter, Warrior is mostly dysfunctional family dynamic with a redemptive boxing match at the very end. But unlike those other two, this time it’s the family stuff that falls flat, and the fight scenes that are much better than average. The last half actually does a pretty good job of making up for a tedious beginning, and the big climax is surprisingly emotional. The casting of Joel Edgerton and Nick Nolte was positively inspired – these two look like just the grizzled, worn out, cauliflower-eared father/son combo that you’d expect. Tom Hardy turns in a respectable performance, but just looks a little to GQ to be perfectly believable. And he can’t hold a candle to Christian Bale’s portrayal of Dicky Ecklund. But I sure wouldn’t want to be on his bad side, either, so don’t tell him I said that!

Summary: Takes forever to get interesting, but the ending packs a punch.

Wags: 3/5

Friday, August 26, 2011

Moanin' and Groanin' For Conan



By Miss Tummy Cole, Top Critic
San Francisco, California

Yowza! Helloooo, Jason Momoa. Nice bod you've got there. Great hair, super white teeth, furrowed brow. What's that? I should be paying attention to your new movie, Conan The Barbarian? Oh, right, okay, sorry 'bout that. Is there a sex scene?

Let me back up a bit - first of all, this movie takes "topless" to a whole new level. Momoa is easily a 38DD pectoral. Then throw in a whole bevy of topless, jiggling, grateful slave girls, and you've got yourself one heck of a 3-D experience. For fans of Conan comics, there were plenty of beheadings, torture scenes, and horses being knocked over while their riders get maced in the face. The nice blend of nudity, gore, and violence made it a pleasant change from its recent adventure brethren - I'm looking at you here, Prince of Persia and Clash of the Titans (2010).

Unfortunately, there are 112 minutes of plot to sit through, and only 3 minutes of topless cavorting. And then there's the casting... Ron Perlman as Conan's warrior dad? He looks like he's got blonde dreadlocks, for christsake. Rose McGowan saunters onscreen as the black witch with the promisingly creepy bald head, only to blow it by opening her mouth and delivering her lines in a kewpie-doll-meets-Valley-Girl voice. The Jodi Foster look-alike they cast to play the romantic lead was a little lackluster, although her body double during the graphic sex scene was a perfect ten. And if that doesn't make a lame movie instantly watchable, this dog doesn't know what will. Overall, Conan The Barbarian equates to little more than 2 hours of eye candy, for the ladies and the tramps alike. But oh, how sweet it is!

Summary: "I live, I slay, I love Lisa Bonet, and I already spent my Game of Thrones money".

Wags: 3/5

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Fright Night Sucks, And I Don’t Mean Blood



By River Shaughnessy, Top Critic
Denver, Colorado

Once again, this dog got tricked by a solid 74% Rotten Tomatoes score, and an endorsement from the not-on-his-A-game-lately Roger Ebert. It’s only August, so having high expectations for a horror movie was probably a mistake from the get-go. If it were any good, they would’ve waited until October to release it, right? But after watching the newly re-imagined Fright Night, I can’t help but wish this film had met a more gruesome fate. The studio should’ve buried this corpse, or at least have sent it straight to DVD. Or straight to hell for all I care!

This movie sucked. It was really, really bad. Colin Farrell seemed convinced that his acting talent would be the sole redemption of a schlocky script and shallow, empty characters. He lays it on thick, and overacts in every scene, ensuring that his supporting cast comes across even more wooden than they might have done on their own. And let’s be honest – Anton Yelchin was only good in Star Trek. He was born to play Chekov, but doesn’t work as your average American teen. So even though there are plenty of reasons to hate the first half of the film, just wait until they introduce the comic relief! One horrible Russel Brand/Criss Angel knock-off, plus a vampire Christopher Mintz-Plasse. Someone stake me already.

The most disappointing thing of all is that this movie specifically opted for an R rating, and then wasted it. Sure, they drop the F bomb a few times, but the gore was too little, too late, the scares were basically non-existent, and there was zero nudity to speak of whatsoever. The spookiest thing about Fright Night were all the boooooooos you heard when the credits roll.

Summary: Perhaps the shittiest vampire movie since 2004’s Van Helsing.

Wags: 1/5



Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Monkey See, Monkey Poo



By Miss Tummy Cole, Top Critic
San Francisco, California

Monkeys are, unfortunately, perfect for experimentation since they resemble humans so closely. Sadly, beagles are also ideal, since we're small, sweet, and trusting of humans. I have several good buddies who spent their formative years locked in cages for the good of humanity. Maybe this is why I'm so sensitive to the topic of animal testing. Supposedly PETA approved this seventh Planet of the Apes installment, but speaking strictly as an audience member, I choose to file this movie under "cruel and unusual punishment".

Cutey science guy Will (played by James Franco) works at a big drug company seeking a breakthrough medication for Alzheimer's. When a setback results in the head honcho demanding that they start over (and euthanize all research subjects), Will sneaks a baby ape, Caesar, home and proceeds to raise him as his own. We're basically along for the ride as Caesar grows into a rebellious, but still loveable, teenage genius. But when the ape shit finally hits the fan, you've been so inundated with how sympathetic the monkeys are and how evil the humans are, you can basically just sleep through the final battle and assume that the monkeys will triumph.

Rise of the Planet of the Apes was remotely watchable, but only as an air-conditioned matinee or a rental (and frankly I'm surprised that the director was able to resist the temptation to hurl 3-D feces in our faces). As an explanation of how Mother Nature replaced man with monkey, ROTPOTA had some really neat, surprisingly plausible plot points. But it still ends up nearly unwatchable due to the lame dialogue and lack of comic relief. Andy Serkis deserves a fat cut of the box office receipts for essentially carrying the entire movie. My pitch for hollywood's next blockbuster? Forget the humans entirely and invest in a one-man Andy Serkis show.

Summary: Hollywood, quit this monkey business while you're ahead.

Wags: 2/5
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