Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Green Lantern Holds No Flicker Of Interest



By Carl Scarano-Schulze, Top Critic
Hollywood, California

Sometimes I think watching a terrible movie can be as much fun as watching a good one. Every now and again, I like to just sit back and howl about how much the studios spend to make these big-budget action flicks that honestly deserve be buried in the backyard. But then I see the box office grosses for these movies, and I get sad. Because it’s partly my fault. I forked over my own hard-earned money to see a terrible movie, and it just encourages studio heads to make more of them.

This review is about Green Lantern, although it could easily be about Transformers: Dark of the Moon, which I’m sure we’ll be barking about soon enough. Honestly, I knew fuck-all about Green Lantern’s backstory before they started heavily promoting this movie. You too, huh? Well, in a nutshell, a human fighter pilot basically gets drafted into a squadron of intergalactic space cops to protect the universe from evil forces that wield fear as a weapon against peaceful alien races. Our hero says a little poem, and is granted a magic ring that grants him powers like super strength and flying, but also the ability to mentally manifest his will & imagination. And even though he’s kind of a bumbling bore at first, he ends up saving the universe when all of the elder, more experienced space cops fail to get the job done.

Ryan Reynolds as Hal Jordan only has one mode – smirky. I didn’t give two shits whether he lived or died – just like Hal didn’t give two shits about any civilians who lived or died, as long as it wasn’t his busty gal-pal, Carol. Blake Lively as Carol Ferris was too hot and leggy to be taken seriously. The story & script had all the complexities of last Saturday morning’s episode of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers. Good is good, evil is evil, flying is neat, and monsters are scary. Speaking of scary, this movies only redeeming quality was Peter Saarsgard’s perfomance as the villainous Hector Hammond. He injected some much needed talent into the casts’ otherwise dreadful performance. Unfortunately, it just wasn't enough to make it watchable. For a movie relying heavily on special effects, they were nothing if not cringe-worthy. But perhaps I shouldn't be so harsh - all in all, Green Lantern is exactly as entertaining as your favorite screensaver.

Summary: In brightest day, in blackest night, Green Lantern is nothing but painfully trite.

Wags: 1/5

Friday, June 17, 2011

Hail Malick, Full of Grace



By Miss Tummy Cole, Top Critic
San Francisco, California

It's not often you get to see two movies for the price of one. The Tree of Life is one of those rare and ambitious double features, bringing us one tale of a mid-century American family, and a far more abstract film featuring a shit-ton of experimental footage of volcanos, cell divisioin, underwater currents, and various other nature scenes that hint at creation.

The Tree of Life is (sort of) the story of a family with 3 boys (and their dog) in Waco, Texas. The eldest grows up to be Sean Penn, who's all kinds of bitter about his stifling disciplinarian father and free spirit mother. Mr. O'Brien (played by a most effective Brad Pitt, although Heath Ledger was originally attached to star) mesmerizes as the frustrated and oppressive father, alternately thrilling and horrifying. Mrs. O'Brien (played by the ethereal Jessica Chastain) floats through the movie, quite literally, like an angel.

My biggest beef is the insertion of 20 long minutes of nature-based creationist footage stuffed into an already non-linear narrative. But there's a reason I'm a stay-at-home beagle and not a fancy Hollywood director. Leave it to Terrence Malick to blow my mind and leave me begging for more. Dropping an extended nature montage into a movie with an already shaky space/time continuum takes a big pair of stones. Terrence Malick has 'em without question.

Weird aside: Mr. Malick actually had the cojones to send out specific projection instructions with every copy of his film, insisting that every mall-dwelling, minimum-wage earning, pimple-faced teenage projectionist follow his guidelines exactly. (crap like "Proper standard (5400 Kelvin)” and “foot Lambert level is at Standard 14.” Huh?)

Summary: Love it or be totally confused by it, but at least admit it's important.

4/5 wags

Monday, June 13, 2011

Super 8 Was Doggone Great!



By River Shaughnessy, Top Critic
Denver, Colorado

Remember when movies had original stories, compelling characters, and memorable moments that made you really feel something? I sure do. And there’s a word for it now, apparently. “Spielberg-ian.” It describes nearly all of your favorite movies from the mid to late 80s. But all good things must come to an end, and Spielberg can only churn out so much movie magic. Enter JJ Abrams, dishing out a healthy dose of nostalgia that will have you home, instant-streaming E.T. before you can say “close encounters of the third kind”. Such is Super 8.

And really, what is there not to love? You’ve got your ragtag bunch of adorable kids – think Stand By Me or The Goonies. Abrams goes the distance and casts real, authentic looking kids, with acting chops to boot. When their small town is shaken by a horrific train wreck, this motley crew has to piece together the clues immortalized in their grainy Super 8 film footage to find out exactly what went down. Because things are starting to get weird! First, all the dogs run away (what?!?!). Then the electronics start acting goofy, and the Army rolls in with something major to hide. People start going missing, even their plucky gal-pal Alice (played a hastily-maturing Elle Fanning). But hey, when you’ve got a mischievous alien running amuck in your town, you just can’t trust grownups to take care of business.

Super 8 was a breath of hot, fresh, summer air. But the real beauty of Super 8 lies in what it’s not – not a sequel, not a comic book adaptation, not a star-studded Chevy commercial, and not an remake of an 80s television show. What it IS is a solid, entertaining, purely fun summer movie. JJ Abrams may not be the second coming of Jesus H. Spielberg, but he’s good enough for this dog.

Summary: Two words: Kid Power! Four more words: Quit hogging the popcorn.
Wags: 4/5

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

X-Men Prove To Be Just OK-Men



By Stella Cole, Top Critic
Hollywood, California

I remember getting chills the first time I saw the trailer for X-Men: First Class. I capital-L Loved the idea of a prequel that explored the initial friendship between Magneto and Professor X, along with the founding of the infamous Academy for gifted pups. The casting was tremendous, an all-star lineup featuring some very promising up-and-comers. So much to look forward to! So why did this film not work for me? Has working as a doggy critic made me overly doggy critical?

To be fair, the film did have many things going for it. Michael Fassbender simply transforms into a troubled young Magneto, every moment he spends on screen is a moment to be enjoyed. The scene in which he pulls the sub out of the water is was positively inspired. James McAvoy is decent as recent-grad Charles Xavier. He lacks the stoicism of the Patrick Stewart Professor X that we all know and love, and the writers attempts to inject swagger into his character didn’t quite ring true. It was hard to be truly afraid of Kevin Bacon as the films main antagonist – his German was solid, but his little piggy nose kept making me laugh. If Jennifer Lawrence’s performance as Mystique fell a little flat, then January Jones as Emma Frost was positively painful. The special effects of Emma in her crystallized state were reminiscent of my old Myspace page graphics. Rose Byrne as a human CIA operative was useless, and that fluttering stripper and her fire-loogies should have been cut from the film altogether. Thank the Hollywood Gods that they didn't make this one in 3D.

Was it a waste of 2 hours? Absolutely not. It was highly entertaining, making it easy enough to ignore some of the more gaping plot holes and inconsistencies in the script. Was it this summer’s best? Methinks not. Maybe Magneto could triumph in a one-on-one fight against Thor, but Thor had the better movie, paws down.


Summary: Call me when production’s wrapped on X-Men Babies.

Wags: 3/5
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