So this episode was a red shirt bloodbath with three guys dying in the first 10 minutes (poisoned plant dart, explosive rock, and lightning). This is also another one where Checkov almost gets his girl and is totally aced out by the script. He has the worst dating luck since…me I guess. I wonder if he ever went on a date with a girl who turned out to have been born a man?
I supposed I could talk about this episode and how it technically is a huge violation of the Prime Directive, the hair styles that most have been what inspired Flock of Seaguls, or the fact that no one in the episode was wearing a shirt but you know what I always used to wonder about as a kid when I saw this one? I always wondered it was like inside the mouth of Vaal. When the Feeders of Vaal go in was there a conveyor belt or chute to drop the explosive rocks down, or did they go down a stair case to some kind of chamber with a furnace or something? Also if they had been feeding Vaal rocks for centuries wouldn’t they eventually run out of rocks just lying around? How do they find more? What if they find a big one but it’s too big to carry or fit in Vaal’s mouth? How do you break one up without blowing yourself up? Could they mine them somehow? Wouldn’t you constantly be in danger of blowing up the whole planet?
The woman who played Checkov’s love interest Yeoman Landon is Celeste Yarnall. I know this because I see her at every single Star Trek convention I go to. She’s a nice woman but seems to think the Apple was the best episode ever and doesn’t understand why I don’t have 150 Apple t-shirts in addition to this one from the tv show t shirt category or can’t just print up one with her on it. The subtle nuances of licensing are more or less missed by her. Still, she is very sweet and I wish her continued success in selling her Apple autograph photos.
the Infamous Dave Inman
Cute and fun.
I actually saw this film a while ago but have not been able to get to writing it up. My life has gotten even busier if that’s possible. I quite enjoyed it. Say what you will about Disney but in the execution of positive, uplifting movies they have no equal. When you see a Disney film you will have your heart warmed whether you want to or not.
Regular readers should recall that the list of things I would rather do than watch baseball is massive and includes things like sort my sock drawer and watch paint dry (I have found you can pretend you are watching a continent slowly being flooded out due to global warming if you look at it properly) yet I love baseball movies. I’m sure there is some kind of psychological reason that will inevitably boil down to a screaming need for approval from my father but the fact is I hate sports but love sports movies. However that kind of deep psychological investigation into my head is a dark and dangerous path so I will simply leave it by saying I have no idea why.
This film has a lot of the things I love in sports films and adds some wonderful cross cultural acceptance elements. My favorite parts were set in India as the main character tromped around the countryside looking for a cricket player who could pitch fast. The cheerful yet mercenary good will of the locals was very entertaining and seeing the protagonist learn to appreciate and love the countryside was refreshing.
Some funny jokes that unfortunately got stretched over too much movie.
This is a film that I have to fight past my own prejudices to review fairly. I was a GDI in college and proud of it. I tend to find organizations who’s sole purpose is to get its members drunk and/or laid to be a waste of oxygen (although were I to go back in time I’d probably rush a fraternity if only to get laid once in a while. And that, my friends, is the official sound of me selling out. I’ll leave my punk rock/alternative lifestyle membership card at the door) . I also find Seth Rogan’s humor either really hot or really cold and have yet to forgive him for the Green Hornet.
Then there is my issue with Zac Efron. I really, really want to hate him. He is way too pretty a male (I don’t know if I can call him a man) and grievously exacerbates my own image and self esteem issues (sometimes I don’t know if I can call myself a man). He as done not a single movie to date that I didn’t hate (That Awkward Moment in particular, but the Lorax sucked too and I still have nightmares from the festering midden known as New Years Eve) and his success with women makes me sometimes wish for a tragic illegal firework to the groin accident so at least I would have an excuse for how miserably I do.
The problem is deep down inside I suspect that if I were to hear him interviewed on Howard Stern or maybe meet him somewhere and grab some coffee he might just turn out to be a super cool and chill dude and that just isn’t fair. I am so much happier with successful, beautiful people who are soulless douchebags. People who have all that plus are neat damage my mental paradigm. Also I can’t fault Zac’s work ethic. He might be making crap movies, but at least he is making a lot of them. Eventually he might hit a script that doesn’t count on him carrying the entire film by taking off his shirt.
So did I like this movie or not? It definitely had some great moments but honestly it felt like a 20 minute SNL skit stretched out over 96 minutes. Seth Rogan seems to now ascribe to the “if it was funny once, it will be funny four more times” school of humorous repetition. Like so many modern comedies the story is basically the taxi that moves the film from set piece to set piece joke. It also didn’t help that the best running gag of the film (the airbags inserting into normal seats) I have seen in trailers several dozen times.
Then there is the level of stupidity exhibited by the protagonists. Drug movies are funny when you see stoners come up with dopey plans based on the gaps vacated by their long lost brain cells. This is why I love It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia (image courtesy of the TV Show T Shirts). The problem I had with these characters is they are supposed to be responsible adults with jobs and an infant but are coming out with plans that would seem dumb to Shaggy and Scooby Doo on angel dust. The story is that Seth is an ex stoner who is trying to grow up but it just didn’t seem credible. Also, while the baby was super duper cute and a big plus in the movie seeing her parents getting drunk and stoned as hell but trying to listen to their baby monitor had me squirming in my seat for concern for her. Having both your parents pass out drunk on the floor seems like a recipe for SIDS. Also what was the deal with the two of them needing to have sex in the same room with the baby awake and mobile? You are OK using your baby monitor to keep tabs on your kid from next door at a massive frat party while getting completely wasted and listening to very loud music but you can’t go into the next room and leave the door open a crack to keep from giving your kid some repressed trauma to work on in therapy in 25 years?
That being said there were some really excellent moments. Some of the party scenes with Seth and Zac were really funny (especially the dance off) and if I hadn’t already seen it 50 times the air bag thing would have been hilarious. There was a really cool growing up/bromance/homoerotic undercurrent going on between Zac’s character and Dave Franco’s. I thought Rose Byrne crushed every scene and in my opinion stole a lot of the movie. There were a few rated R topless scenes (including one that I both strongly suspect and hope were prosthetics for Rose Byrne. When you see it you will understand) to keep things interesting and the final scene with Zac and Seth both topless was pretty amazing.
The story is basically the ultimate nightmare of suburban college town living. Mac Radner (Seth Rogan-This is the End, Guilt Trip, 50/50) and Kelly Radner (Rose Byrne-the Internship, X-Men First Class, 28 Weeks Later) live in suburbia with their super cute infant daughter Stella (played by twin babies Ellise and Zoey Vargas. Kind of a clever way of getting more work out of a baby actor. No other credits, obviously, unless they did some indy “in the womb” piece). Their life seems pristine and Mac still gets to spark the owl with his work stoner buddy Jimmy (Ike Barinholtz-the Awesomes, Eastbound and Down, the Mindy Project).
The house next door gets sold to a frat led by president Teddy Sanders (Zac Efron-the Lucky One, the Paper Boy, At Any Price) and vice pres Pete (Dave Franco-21 Jump Street, Now You See Me, Warm Bodies). The Radners head over to try to make nice and seem to do well. The frat is dedicated to partying epically on all levels and throws a huge one that night. Mac and Kelly head over to ask nicely for them to turn down the music and Teddy is accommodating, even inviting them in to join the party. The two of them rage until dawn (newborn babies sleep all night with epically loud techno music playing next door, right?) and Teddy and Mac bond.
Unfortunately the next night there is another party and they have to call the police. The worst cop ever shows up and rats out the Radners. At that point it becomes a fragmented Animal House with Mac in the role of Dean Wormer. He tries to go to the dean of the school (played very unconvincingly by Lisa Kudrow. Sorry Lisa. I do love you but you looked like you were attending the frat parties, not regulating them. I mean that as a compliment. -Friends, Analyze This, Easy A) who is more motivated to control bad press than make sure students get a quality eduction. Sit com-style episodes start rolling down the chute. Mac finds Stella chewing on a condom, he busts a pipe and floods the frat house basement, the frat makes molds of their erect penises and uses them to sell sex toys (I’m sure that joke looked a lot funnier on paper, and by on paper I mean rolling paper) in order to pay for the damage, Kelly manages to force a wedge between Pete and Teddy, yada yada yada.
Honestly things just keep going until party Armageddon. Eventually everything comes to a head and then later sort of resolves itself in a very tepid and unsatisfying way.
Some really funny moments. Two stars. Acting was in general pretty good. One star. Rose Byrne in particular killed it. One star. I thought the sub plot of Teddy and Pete having a serious bromance and facing growing up was better done and more interesting than the main story. Kind of wish they had played that one out more. One star. Every woman in this film was at least super hot (especially Rose. I don’t see any mention of a husband on IMDB. Hmm. Rose if you are reading this and are single it would be my honor to take you out to the most romantic dinner $27 can buy. Tweet me). One star. Some brief but nice topless shots (the Rose one is a wash at best however. It almost earned this film a black hole). One star. If you enjoy watching young people party their asses off and drug/booze humor works for you welcome to Nirvana. One star. Total: eight stars.
The black holes:
I don’t know about you but I find it very difficult to identify with stupid protagonists. One black hole. After a while the set pieces got old and I found myself yearning for an actual story. One black hole. If this were real life there would be legitimate concern for the safety of the baby and that is something I don’t consider funny. One black hole. I really, really want to black hole this movie for Zac Efron but honestly he did an admirable job (and I secretly suspect he could be cool to hang with). I also want to black hole this film for showing kids having more fun in 10 minutes of college than I had in five years (word to the wise, kids. If you want to enjoy college choose any other UC than Irvine. Really, who wants to call themselves an Anteater anyway?) but this is where I put on my grown up reviewer pants and keep my personal bias out of it. Total: three black holes.
A grand total of five stars, which for me puts it at the bottom of the good category (mediocre tends to be 3 stars down to 2 black holes. I honestly don’t know why but that is how it seems to work out). Should you see it? Sober? Maybe. Drunk and/or stoned? Absolutely. This is a film that will seem 100 times better if you can blaze up and loc it in the parking lot with a fifth of vodka and a pint of orange juice prior. Date movie? Sure. Nothing here to creep her out and if she finds this funny it might help. On the other hand every second she sees Zac Efron with his shirt off (and there are a lot of them) you are bleeding sex appeal so maybe not. Bathroom break? Any of the Dean meetings could be missed with impunity assuming you saw Animal House and understand how double secret probation works (although in this case it’s three strikes).
Thanks for reading as always. The film world still in Spider-Man recovery so not a lot more to see. I think I will try to catch up on some smaller fish that slipped my net, but I have two shows back to back the next two weekends (Big Wow in San Jose and Kublacon in Burlingame. If you are going to be at either stop by and say hi) and that always screws up my writing schedule. Follow me on Twitter @Nerdkungfu (<–Rose take note) or email questions and suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org. Comments on this film or my review can be left right here. Have a great weekend.
“the Infamous” Dave Inman
Yes I’m back on this. In fact I need to stay on it in order to actually finish this project. I have an idea following this for TNG next.
So A Piece of the Action. I quite liked this episode. The story of how the Sigma Iotians became all 20’s gangster actually made sense, as opposed to “they just evolved into an exact replica of a Paramount backlot”. Sorry but the whole Yang thing from Omega Glory always bugged me (not to mention the Roman Empire from Bread and Circuses).
The other part about this that rocked is it really shows the importance of the Prime Directive. The book Chicago Mobs of the Twenties was left pretty much by accident by the Horizon and rewrote the entire direction of the culture of the Sigma Iotians. Would that JJ Abrams had watched this episode before creating his last abomination (actually, would that JJ Abrams had ever watched a single episode before signing up to direct the Star Trek reboot).
As an aside I recently learned that Star Trek fans at the Vegas Con voted Star Trek Into Darkness the worst movie of the series. Kudos to you all. This is why I love Trek fans and am proud to count myself among your number. Of course the TNG Fanboys voted First Contact the number two best movie in a lame homage to the Borg but as long at TWOK is number one I have no real complaint (although if we were to sit down together I could tell you in excruciating detail why First Contact also sucks. Am I too hardcore in my Star Trek purity? Mabye). I might do a blog about that list some time in the future. It puts a smile on my face.
The episode image comes from the TV Show t shirt category. Yes, I know it has the wrong number on it. I go by release order while my printer goes by production number. It is a bone of contention.
“The Infamous Dave” Inman
What’s the deal with all the Jack movies?
Yes, this is what I was thinking about as I left the theater. It seems if there were a Baby Name Book for movies the first 60 pages would all be Jack over and over again with the last 10 pages all being variations on “dead”, “night”, “house”, and “love” (read what you will of me from that selection of words). Jack Reacher, Jack and Jill, Jack and the Giant Slayer, Percy Jackson, Kangaroo Jack, You Don’t Know Jack, and my own personal favorite: Jack Reed: Monster Slayer. I’m sure there is some logical, marketed demographic reason for this having to do with a strong one syllable masculine name that ends on a hard -k sound that is supposed to appeal to Americans but based on what I see I would not discount the possibility that Hollywood is overburdened with uncreative bozos who just feed off each other like a human centipede sewn into a circle. (Samurai Jack is the only media Jack worthy of the name. Image courtesy of the TV Show T Shirt category)
Also, does Hollywood never learn from their mistakes? Name a movie with a relatively unknown generic male name that has done well. Remember John Carter and Jack Reacher? Tank city. I might call this borderline stupid if we were talking about different studios and genres, but Jack Reacher and Jack Ryan are both from Paramount and both involve super capable white males doing spy-ish stuff. That goes beyond the pale of stupidity into functionally brain dead zone.
As for the myth that the name Jack Ryan was supposed to be recognized enough to put asses in seats I can tell you that I am 44, have seen all the other John Clancy movies, and couldn’t have told you who the hell Jack Ryan is supposed to be. When I see that name I think Saving Private Ryan and I can promise you that anyone younger than me not only doesn’t know but doesn’t give a crap who he is. Honestly a title like “Super Awesome Spy Guy: Shadow Recruit” would have been 100 times better.
I’ve read a couple Tom Clancy novels and they can be summed up as follows: America rules and the rest of the world sucks and hates us for it. This is the kind of pap that really appeals to white Americans in the flyover states and as such this movie is a tremendous success. Never before has America been more awesome (or whiter. I’ve seen more racial diversity in a gallery of marble statues. The only black guy in the whole thing gets killed early on trying to murder Jack. There was an Asian girl but she had like two lines and spent most of the time working a computer. Stereotype much?) or more threatened by our old nemesis, those dastardly Russians. Look, I’m an American and proud of it but that doesn’t mean I think we are flawless and I resent what I really see as being pandered to. It’s OK for another country to not suck and hate us IMO.
There is another problem I’m seeing in these spy novels adapted to movies and that is the stories are generally so complex that it is nigh impossible to not have gaping plot holes unless you want to add two hours of expository scenes. Clear and Present danger really didn’t have these problems, nor did the Hunt for Red October but in both cases they weren’t really spy movies. I’m just saying as soon as you go spy the need to stay under six hours hurts the continuity of the film.
I also don’t want to give you the idea that I thought this movie was bad. It wasn’t great, but if you want to be entertained by a slightly more complex story, are willing to swallow a plot hole or two, don’t feel the need to have most of the connecting plot explained to you, and have ever pleasured yourself to a picture of a hot girl wrapped in an American flag and caught yourself looking at the flag more than the girl this movie will be right up your alley. For all it’s title failure it is a functional movie and will succeed in it’s goal of entertaining you for a couple hours (Feel free to use that quote as a blurb on the back of your DVD release Paramount. “It is a functional movie and will succeed in it’s goal of entertaining you for a couple hours.” -TheNerdBlog)
The story. Jack Ryan (Chris Pine-Star Trek (bleh), Rise of the Guardians, This Means War) is going to school for his PhD in economics when 9-11 happens and he joins the Marines. His helicopter gets shot down and he spends months in rehab. While there a shadowy CIA guy name Thomas Harper (Kevin Costner-Field of Dreams, Dances with Wolves, Waterworld (am I the only one who kind of liked that movie?)) recruits him to be a financial analyst looking for terrorist holdings on Wall Street. Meanwhile he falls in love with the hottest optometrist ever (sorry Cindy. You are very hot) and they get engaged (Keira Knightley-the whole Pirates of the Caribbean series, Pride and Prejudice, Laggies (?)).
Jack uncovers some weird discrepancies from a Russian company and Harper sends him off to Moscow to investigate. When he arrives his black bodyguard tries to kill him for no discernible reason and Jack drowns him in a bathtub. The next morning he meets the head of the Russian company Victor Cherevin (Kenneth Branagh-Frankenstein, Henry V, Valkyrie) who seems to have forgotten he ordered Jack killed. Cherevin sold all the companies Jack was there to audit, making his trip worthless. Jack invites him to dinner for no discernible reason.
Back at the hotel he finds his fiance hanging out. Harper tells them the need to work together that night so that Jack can sneak out and steals some data having to do with Cherevin’s nefarious plot. I don’t want to spoil this film so I won’t go into details. At that point Jack goes full on James Bond and is pretending he’s 007 until the last few minutes of the film.
I thought Kevin Costner was pretty good. He does the sort-of good, sort-of bad guy well. One star. In terms of what makes a movie there were no obvious defects. Film work, editing, continuity, direction, and pacing were decent. One star for not screwing up I guess. The best part was the fight scenes were totally believable. Jack Ryan is not a super man who can kill a guy with a single punch. His one big fist fight early on with the body guard was brutal and desperate. One star. While the film groaned under the weight of the PG-13 rating the director managed to still make the action worth seeing, something of a serous task. One star. In general not a waste of my time (<–another great box blurb! You are welcome). One star. Total: five stars.
The black holes.
There were a few glaring plot holes that were probably explained in the book but didn’t make it to the screen. Why did the body guard try to kill Jack? Why did they wait until the got to the hotel instead of just driving him to a dark alley and shooting him there? When Jack showed up at Cherevin’s office very much alive why didn’t Cherevin make the logical assumption that Jack killed the guy and is a secret agent? In reality he should have tossed Jack off the building for a unhealthy dose of kinetic energy poisoning. One black hole. Also at one point the bank accounts that the Russians were using totaled over $2,000,000,000.00. The GNP of Russia is $3,261,000,000.00. Do they really think we are going to believe that Russia would dedicate 62% of their entire nations earnings on some hair brained scheme that relies on some emo kid driving a van into a sewer? I’m pretty sure the number in the book was much more reasonable but the producers of this flick decided they needed a more impressive sounding number and that none of the audience would have the intellect to look it up. Glad to prove you wrong jackasses. Anyway, one black hole. The uber American Clancy jingoism is a little hard to take although I walked into the theater looking for it so I might be overly sensitive. I’m not wrong the the lack of racial diversity however. One black hole. Total: three black holes.
A grand total of two stars. I will admit I really held myself back on the black holes. This film didn’t feel like a black hole film but I couldn’t find enough reasons to give it stars. Competently made mediocre pap for white middle class America basically. I’m sure your parents will love it. Should you see it? Meh. If you fit into one of the categories I mentioned previously as being good candidates for liking it sure. You will forget it in short order however. I’d say wait for NetFlix or use it for a chance to spend some time with mom and dad without having to talk to them. Date movie? Another big meh. Chris Pine is pretty hot so you will not be doing yourself any favors once you step into the lobby and she can see you clearly. Bathroom break? There’s a scene towards the end when they are on a plane trying to track down the bad guys. If you can live with the idea that eventually they just find them this would be an opportune moment.
Thanks for reading. Lots more to see so keep checking back. Feel free to follow me on Twitter @NerdKungFu. Leave any comments on this film or my review here, and off topic questions or suggestions can be emailed to email@example.com. Talk to you soon.
I’m kind of embarrassed to say I found myself laughing at parts.
The cop buddy film is a genre so prevalent that most of the studios in Hollywood must be using them as insulating material. It honestly dates back to the Lone Ranger and Tonto and hasn’t change much since then. Some films get more comical, some more serious, and some might involve a dog or other non human mammal (or alien. Anyone else remember Alien Nation, I Come in Peace, or the Hidden?). It is a formula that appeals to the gestalt Western consciousness and is a very safe foundation upon which to build your house.
The point is Ride Along has jumped on that long and slow moving freight train pioneered by officers Ridzik & Danko, Costanzo & Hughes, Sykes & Francisco, Crokett & Tubbs, Tango & Cash, Starsky & Hutchinson, Tuner & Hooch, Doyle & Russo, J & K, Burnett & Lowrey, Riggs & Murtaugh, and Bomowski & Bomowski and really didn’t ever get off. While on the train it picked up every scene, cliche, joke, and action sequence it could stuff down it’s pants to make it’s own Frankenstein cop movie and animated it by hooking up the star power of Ice Cube and Kevin Hart and flipping the switch. (By the way, as a true test of your pop culture mojo see how many of those partners I just listed you can name the movie or show they are from. It’s a fun challenge. Crockett & Tubbs image courtesy of the TV Show T Shirt category).
That’s not to say it’s bad. The formulas used and borrowed are all good ones and if you haven’t seen a cop buddy film in a while you will probably enjoy it. Also if you gain a sense of smug satisfaction from predicting exactly how the story is going to progress you might just reach know-it-all Nirvana while watching this movie. Within five minutes of the film starting I knew exactly how it was going to play out even to the point of knowing who was going to be injured. You will find more surprise in using the same blue pen you write with every day and discovering that today it is writing with blue ink.
In checking the filmographies of the stars of this film (yes I do research. I don’t just roll my face back and forth across my keyboard while drinking methylated spirits) I was surprised to discover Ice Cube is something of a stealth actor. What do I mean by that? I mean he is an actor who seems to have his role type cast as the bad ass cop or rap star but when you look at what he has done you rediscover that he has actually done a number of really good or out of the box movies. When I think of him Boyz in the Hood is not the first film that pops into mind but is exceptional. Anaconda was a horrible movie but is so bad it’s good, and Ghosts of Mars actually got me laid back in 2001 (as it turns out that is about the only time for this century. I am eagerly anticipating New Years Day 2100) so I have some warm feelings about him as an actor. Nothing caught me off guard with regards to Kevin Hart’s career. I think he is really funny but doesn’t seem ready to do a serious drama yet.
The story. Ben Barber (Kevin Hart-This is the End, the Five Year Engagement, Think Like a Man) works as a security guard at a high school and plays FPS video games incessantly. In spite of all that he has a stunningly hot fiance Angela (Tika Sumpter-Salt, What’s Your Number, The Have’s and the Have Nots). She wants to get her cop brother James (Ice Cube-Boyz in the Hood, 21 Jump Street, Friday) to approve of him but James has (accurately, IMO) determined that Ben is a worthless layabout completely lacking in machismo.
Ben gets accepted into the police academy and tries to use that as a bond with James. James rejects him again but offers to take him on a ride along where they can both rip off lines from Training Day. Meanwhile James is trying to track down local crime kingpin Omar (Lawrence Fishburne-Cherry 2000 (I know. Not the movie he would want to be credited for, but I think it’s awesome), the Matrix, Apocalypse Now). They go out together and comedy hijinx ensues.
Honestly that’s it. By that point I had pretty much written out the whole script in my head. James tries to inject Ben into really annoying but non lethal situations. Ben finds some critical clues with regards to Omar. James gets set up by his friends (John Leguizamo-Kick Ass 2, Ice Age, One for the Money)(Bryan Callen-Warrior, the Hangover, 10 Rules for Sleeping Around) and Ben saves him in the dopiest way possible. Like I said, if you know the answer to the question “Knock knock” is “Who’s there?” this film will hold no unexpected shocks for you.
While playing his traditional role as a serious bad ass Ice Cube was not really stretching his acting ability I enjoyed his character and liked him on the screen. One star. Kevin Hart is honestly funny too, although his antics occasionally shifted from funny to uncomfortable. One star. Tika Sumpter is drop dead gorgeous and spent a lot of the film lounging around in t-shirt and underwear (easily the sexiest look for a girl around home, in case any of you ladies are wondering what the secret is to attracting an elite dude such as myself). One star. There were some actual funny moments. One star. Kind of fun in a very formulaic sort of way. One star. Total: five stars.
The black holes.
The story was basically a retread of about 1,000 other buddy cop films. The director avoided even the scent of a risk like it was a skunk smoothie left in the sun for a couple days. One black hole. For me this would have been about 10 times better rated R rather than PG-13. When you see Ice Cube get pissed off you expect some cursing. Seeing him restrain his language is as unnatural and out of place as seeing an elephant trying to ride a skateboard. Also if you are going to film a PG-13 movie don’t insult my libido by having a scene in a strip club but have all the girls fully clothed. That is figuratively trying to have your cake and eating it too (I’ve been literally trying to avoid misuse of the word literally). One black hole. If you happen to not be the type to get turned on by your own precognition the predictability will grind like a fine grit sandpaper bikini. One black hole. Total: three black holes.
A grand total of two stars. Meh-worthy I guess. If you are an Ice Cube or Kevin Hart fan you will not be disappointed, but honestly if you are not there is nothing in here to positively contribute towards the enjoyment of your life. This film pretty much screams Tuesday night Red Box, so wait until you can see it in the comfort of your home or trailer park rec center. Date movie? Sure, why not? There is a love story here sort of and it is funny. None of the violence is over the top (or really interesting) and seeing a guy save the day thanks to the thousands of hours he has played video games may bode well for any argument you have with your girlfriend regarding the direction you have chosen for your life. Bathroom break? Any scene you miss you will have probably already watched on the screen of your imagination, but the scene that stands out as most missable is when James and Ben get to the hospital. Contribution to the plot: 0.00.
Thanks for reading. Lot’s more to see in order to survive the bleak movie season known as January. Not a lot of Oscar nominations surface in this month. Follow me on Twitter @Nerdkungfu (Do it now!). Post comments here on this film or my review (telling me what a sexy genius I am is also welcome) right here and off topic questions or suggestions can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org. Talk to you soon.
I always feel a little guilty about how much I love war movies where the USA is the coolest and all non Americans can suck it. Intellectually I try to be more open minded and cross political but these movie hearken me back to days or yore when an eight year old boy named David was allowed to stay up late to watch Patton for the fifteenth time with his father. As much as I may or may not support our current government I am proud to be an American and feel an adrenalin rush when I see the guys I was raised to believe were the good guys win.
(The other reason I tend to feel guilty is I know there are guys out there (two of them are cousins of mine) for whom movies where American rules is better than the best porn and are probably servicing themselves to something like this film as I type)
That being said this movie was brutal but good. Watching those brave men die knowing that the film was based on real men dying was heart wrenching. What was even more heart wrenching was having the movie show real life images and video of each of the people killed in that operation. It was like attending 15 funerals back to back.
It was all done very well, however. I love movies that evoke emotions and this one definitely accomplishes that in spades. You connect with each of the men on the screen and will find yourself rooting for and hoping against hope for their survival. Each death hits hard and will leave you appreciating the bravery and camaraderie of these sailors.
The other thing I really liked about this film is it wasn’t just a jingoistic America rules all Muslims are awful experiment in patriotic manipulation. The lone survivor in question only survives due to the kindness and bravery of local Afghan locals who follow the law of Pashtunwali, rules which include hospitality, kindness, and protection of strangers. By including their part the movie shifted the story away from “kill everyone wearing a turban” to a true story about courage and honor. I found that very refreshing and greatly appreciated the open minded thinking that emphasized it.
There honestly isn’t much to the story. Four Navy SEALS (Mark Wahlberg-Boogie Nights, the Fighter, Prisoners; Taylor Kitsch-Battleship, John Carter, Savages; Emile Hirsch-Speed Racer, Into the Wild, Milk; Ben Forster-3:10 to Yuma, the Mechanic, Pandorum) Marcus Luttrell, Michael Murphy, Danny Dietz, and Matt ‘Axe’ Axelson are tasked with bringing down a major Taliban leader in a remote village in Afghanistan. After some pre-mission development (seeing the guys go for a run, have a sort of new guy introduction for some guy, etc) they get the word from their commander and are given the green light. The helicopter in to a remote mountainous region and start hiking in.
Once they get close to the target things start to go wrong. They discover rather than the few Taliban fighters they were told to expect they are facing up to 200. The region messes up their communications and they cannot check back to base for information or orders. They spot their target but before they can do anything three unarmed civilian shepherds (a kid, a teenager, and an old man) stumble across them.
At that point there is some debate as to how to proceed. Without orders to the contrary they opt to do the decent thing and releases the shepherds and scrub the mission. They fall back towards a higher point, hoping to establish communications and effect a retrieval.
At that point they are attacked by the Taliban and are in a running battle for their lives. Part of the problem is they keep falling down cliffs and hills, giving the Taliban a height advantage. They fight bravely but all but Lattrell are killed in turn (the death of Axe was particularly moving). Eventually Lattrell passes out under a rock and wakes the next morning undiscovered.
He finds water and there is picked up by local a local Afghani tribesman (sorry for the lack of credits but except for the four main guys I can’t tell one supporting character from the other). He takes Lattrell to his village and helps nurse him back to health. Lattrell writes a message to the US forces and an older man heads off to deliver it. Meanwhile Taliban forces come looking for him but just before he is to be executed the entire village rises up to save him out of respect for Pashtunwali. Eventually massive Taliban forces attack but are eventually beaten back by the intervention of US forces.
A very moving story. Not a ton of character development but even without that you are drawn into the characters. Very well done. Two stars. Based on a real story. Two stars. I was never able to serve but it looks like they tried to keep everything as true to actual SEAL training and traditions as possible. An excellent window. One star. The action was G-damned exciting, made even more so by the fact that you know it was based on a true story and that most of these guys were going to die. Two stars. I liked all the characters. They all seemed like guys I would be happy to know. One star. Overall a great movie experience. Two stars. Total: ten stars.
The black holes.
I feel bad even thinking about these but need to be true to you, my beloved reader, and myself. Watching guys die for real is a gruesome experience, and the montage of actual photos of the men killed in the film at the end was hard to watch. I don’t mean that at a criticism and am glad they included it, but I’m just saying it was difficult. One black hole. There are times during the action scenes where you just want to bite your own lip off in frustration. Again, not bad. Just difficult. One black hole. Total: two black holes.
A grand score of eight stars. What a good way to start 2014. Should you see it? Honestly that depends on you. If you are a patriotic sort and appreciate story about bravery and honor sure. However if you think you might find watching these guys get butchered you should probably give it a pass. If you are going to see it go for the biggest screen you can find. Date movie? Probably not. Bathroom break? There is a scene towards the end where Lattrell has to cut some shrapnel from his legs that is both gruesome and not really needed for the story. Hurry back though.
Thanks for reading my first review of 2014 movies. I am working on my list of movies from last year and will try to have my best/worst posts up early this next week. I still need to see Her and Grudge Match, but I really want to see the new Hercules movie. It looks so bad that I might be able to skip writing the review just by vomiting all over my keyboard. I haven’t had a true fish-in-the-barrel reviewing experience in a while and my trigger finger is feeling itchy. (Kevin Sorbo Hercules (the real Hercules) image courtesy of the TV Show T Shirt category) I’ll probably see Her tonight and maybe do two movies tomorrow. Follow me on Twitter @Nerdkungfu. If you have comments on this movie or my review feel free to post them here. Off topic questions or suggestions can be sent to email@example.com. Have a great weekend. Talk to you soon.
It didn’t quite NOT deliver.
Have you ever met a person of the gender of your sexual interest and are totally attracted to in spite of the fact that all of your previous experience, logic, and just common sense should in no way be into? I’m not just talking about good girls wanting bad boys (you girls can all blame your fathers for that) but rather someone who is so far out of your normal scope of attraction that you find yourself questioning your base foundations?
My best friend and I have a term for this phenomenon and that is “strangely attractive”, as in “In spite of the fact that I want to hate that girl with the burning passion of 10,000 suns I find her strangely attractive.” Vince Vaughn is strangely attractive as an actor. The lists of reasons why I should hate him and his movies is more than extensive, but for some bizarre reason I find his films appealing and entertaining. It is one of the great movie conundrums, like why do Adam Sandler movies make money, where the f&$% did midichlorians come from, or why did the nerd community not come together and declare a fatwa on Joel Schumacher after Batman and Robin?
Unfortunately Vince Vaughn’s bizarre, inexplicable appeal was not enough to carry this film all the way through. This film looks like one that started with a seed of brilliance and then died on the operating table. The basic idea is really good: average Joe (haw!) finds out that through a mix up at a fertility clinic he is the biological father of hundreds of kids. At that point, however, it seems like the writers just sat back and assumed comedy would spontaneously manifest itself through the will of the human gestalt consciousness. There are a few good set pieces but once we get through the comedy of Vince freaking out discovering his revelation the whole thing turns into a mediocre heart warmer and all the best comedic lines get handed off to the lawyer buddy.
However, like I said in the sub title the movie isn’t horrible. It has it’s moments and you will laugh upon occasion. What was horrible, however, was the timing of this release. I don’t know who at DreamWorks thought going toe to toe with the Hunger Games was a good idea, but that person should not only be fired but frozen in carbonite for a few hundred years in hopes that a cure will have been found for whatever genetic brain defect he or she suffers from rather than risk passing it on to the next generation. Either that or just shoot them into space. Trying to compete with a juggernaut like Catching Fire is like a class of baby seals taking a field trip to the International Club and Cudgel Convention (this year located in Garden City, Kansas).
The movie begins with down and out loser David (no irony there. Vince Vaughn-the Internship, Dodgeball, Wedding Crashers) working as a meat delivery guy for his fathers company with his two brothers. His father Mikolaj (Andrezej Blumenfeld-the Pianist, Little Rose, Where Eskimos Live) and brothers (Simon Delaney-This Must Be the Place, Roy, Amazing Grace and Bobby Moynihan-the Invention of Lying, Monsters University, the Brass Teapot) love him but think of him as a complete loser. In a direct slap in the face to my life this penniless loser with no education and nothing going on has the hottest girlfriend on the planet Emma (Colby Smolders-How I Met Your Mother, the Avengers, Safe Haven) and a best friend Brett who is a lawyer beset by being a single dad with four toddler kids (Chris Pratt-Parks and Rec, Zero Dark Thirty, Movie 43. Li’l Sebastian image comes from the TV Show T Shirt catetory).
Emma tells David that she is pregnant but doesn’t want him involved since he is a flaky loser. David goes home and is confronted by an attorney for the fertility clinic he donated to over 600 times. The attorney tells him that due to a massive error at the clinic he is now the biological father of 533 children, a lot of whom are suing to find out who he is. There is a nice collection of David freaking out and coming to grips with his fatherhood scenes while Brett volunteers to handle his case for him. The kids give him a file of profiles of the assorted kids and when he gets home he pulls one out and looks at it.
Turns out the first kid is a professional basketball player. David goes to see a game and gets pumped up. He starts randomly pulling out profiles and visiting each kid anonymously. They range from successful to almost homeless. He tried to help them when he can and feels a kinship with each one. Meanwhile he owes $80K to some loan shark for some reason and is in danger of getting killed, and he is trying to prove to Emma that he is worthy of being his newest kids father.
Once the big reveal is done and he falls into the routine of visiting kids the story kind of peters off. The funny lines get shifted over to his friend Brett and the film tries to end up a feel good romantic comedy with mixed results. In truth this film felt more like a TV show pilot than a feature film, and that TV show is My Name is Earl. You know, Earl has an epiphany and has to visit and make amends with all he ever wronged? This could have been a really good show but as a movie the assumption was that we would see the funny in the feel good and the feel good in the comedy. Tonal failure IMO. Started as a comedy and tried to end as an After School Special about the importance of family.
Vince Vaughn was entertaining for no reason I can put my finger on. One star. Colby Smulders rocks my world, although at some point in her career I would appreciate her showing some skin that isn’t exclusively on her hands, neck, or face. One star. Many of the individual set pieces were funny, and would have been great on a one hour TV show. One star. The father and brothers were all pretty good. One star. Some of the individual children were entertaining, especially Viggo. One star. In general not a waste of my time. One star. Total: six stars.
The black hole:
No real tone. Comedy or feel good? At times it even got almost grim and gritty. One black hole. The movie ended with all the power of a balloon with a slow leak finally settling on the ground. Great concept, but the story needed to really be fleshed out. One black hole. More TV pilot than movie. One black hole. Total: three black holes.
A grand total of three stars, a very mediocre score for a fairly mediocre movie. Even if this film had not tried to go against the biggest movie powerhouse of the year odds are it would have disappointed in the box office. You can’t stop a flood with a sugar filled sandbag. Definitely worth killing an evening at home one night on NetFlix, but I doubt it will leave a lasting mark. Date movie? Sure, it’s heartwarming and will put baby making in your date’s mind. On the other hand this could lead into one of those horrible girl questions for which there is no good answer, such as “Would (or have) you ever donate(d) to a sperm bank?” “Do you masturbate and if so how often (and to what)?” Bathroom break? Any of the individual kid vignettes are not really important in and of themselves, so pick one and miss it with impunity. The best one to miss would be the drunk fat guy trying to get into the cab.
Thanks for reading. I saw Homefront about and hour ago and will review it tomorrow morning. Join the vast majority of humanity and my readers by specifically NOT following me on Twitter @Nerdkungfu. No one really wants to be an original I guess. Just like when I ask girls out on dates. If you have a comment on this film or my review leave it here. If you have an off topic question or suggestion feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Have a great Thanksgiving.
On my way home from the theater I was wondering if I have to consider myself a Ron Howard fan boy. I like pretty much every movie he has done (even Gung Ho) and will go out of my way to see any movie he makes. I love Arrested Development (image from our TV show t shirt category) and even liked him in Happy Days. Does that qualify me as a fan boy, in the same sense that I am a Star Trek TOS fan boy?
In truth, no. A true fan boy will defend anything their fan obsession creates, and when the object of their desire excretes a turd they will sift desperately through it in hopes of finding a lost diamond ring or interesting tapeworm. It is to the point where he will take the least crappy part of the crap and elevate it to the level of still better than anything else out there. Get me waxing poetical about Star Trek and I will find parts of episodes even as bad as Spock’s Brain that make it worth watching (to be fair, that episode did have a large number of hot women in bikinis who controlled men with shock collars, an apt comparison to my personal dating life. Also the episode was a clear foreshadowing of the the industrialization of the human mind as seen by devices such as the Google Glass, and the recent advances in prosthetic limbs controlled by the human brain can find their roots in the computer/brain interface. When you consider those parts of it Spock’s Brain really is not that…oh God I’m doing it now!).
The thing that keeps me a Ron Howard fan and not a Ron Howard fan boy is if he did produce an awful movie I would not hesitate to tear through it like a chainsaw through a gingerbread house. Fortunately he has not given me the opportunity to date, and Rush continues that trend. Yes, I did enjoy it a great deal. It’s basically the F1/70’s version of Days of Thunder with a better story, but since I liked Days of Thunder a lot too I guess the premise works for me.
I have commented on the interesting fact of my personality (interesting to me, but since I’m such a fascinating figure you all will be interested too) that I have less than zero interest in watching football, baseball, golf or any sports whatsoever (sorry curling) yet love sports movies, and it looks like that holds true for racing as well. Sit me in front of the TV watching auto racing and I will doze off toot sweet (and to be honest if someone held a gun to my head (or promised me some kind of sexual experience) in order to get me to watch racing I am more inclined to go with stock car over F1) but I was fully engaged in the racing in this movie. I guess it’s because they edit out all the spitting, crotch scratching, talking, rolling around an oval track boring bits and just leave the great moments. I have an appreciation for all the work and effort competitors put in. If they could just stop wasting time in a huddle or cutting to beer commercials I might get engaged.
So Rush (a few spoilers in here, but honestly most of this I picked up from the trailers). This is the story of the great competition between Austrian racer Niki Lauda (Daniel Brühl-Inglorious Bastards, the Bourne Ultimatum, Goodbye Lenin!) and British racer James Hunt (Chris Helmsworth-Thor, Red Dawn, Snow White and the Huntsman) back in the grand old year 1976. It starts off with a monolog from each racer telling how they got into racing and what they were about. Niki Lauda is effectively a professional racer, using science, good risk management, and discipline in order to win and stay alive while James Hunt is a wild party boy who relies on his natural talent and willingness to take insane risks to carry the day.
The movie then follows up their individual lives leading up the the world championship. James marries a super model in order to try to add some stability while Niki falls in love with a sweet girl who supports him in ways we all dream a partner would. They meet early in their careers and develop a strong dislike of each other. Going into the season of 1976 Niki pulls ahead in points while James struggles with a less optimal car (and some sabotage from Niki). Eventually they get to a very dangerous track and some bad weather. Niki wants to call the race off but James pushing it forward. There is a horrific wreck and Niki is badly burned.
He recovers at the hospital while James keeps winning races. Niki shows up with disfiguring scars for the last race, set to run in the rain. I won’t throw any more spoilers out there but there are some cool moments when Niki has a realization and twists the ending a bit.
Very cool story, and well told. Two stars. Both Chris and Daniel are to be complemented for their portrayals. Excellent acting from both of them (and the support cast to be honest). One star. The camera work was exceptionally good, with amazing shots that filled the screen with visions while still retaining that 70’s feel. Two stars. The driving action was really engaging, and the stunts and accidents cool. One star. A couple nice minor nude scenes to keep the interest going. One star. The sets, clothes, and hair really set the era perfectly. There was no doubt what decade this thing was happening it. One star. Over all a great movie. Two stars. Total: ten stars.
The black holes.
I always feel weird doing this for directors I like and admire as I don’t feel qualified to offer criticism (for Lucas I order extra black holes. McG too) but really that is what you are here for and I have to go with what I feel. I thought the film was not really strong in establishing a tone. The movie started out and ended like a documentary but in the middle was a drama. I hate saying this but the story meandered around a lot, and did that thing where it seemed to end but then ran on for another 20 minutes and kind of shifted the focus of the entire film. It felt more like a series of five graphic novels, each semi-complete rather than one total story. Two black holes (two points there, really). The title of the film and everything I saw in the trailers implied that this film would be about insane F1 racers and what motivates them to go crazy, but really that was a tertiary subject barely touched upon. I think a lot could have been added had they explored the individual motivations more. One black hole. Total: three black holes.
A total of seven stars. Actually a great score and a movie well worth your time. Also worth seeing in a theater, although you will probably be OK watching it at home. Date movie? Hell yes. Manly enough to keep you interested but with a cool “true love” romance for Niki and a super hot dude in James to get her motor running if you know what I mean. This film is perfect for it. Bathroom break? A lot of the scenes of Niki recovering in the hospital could be missed without losing a lot. The meandering nature of the film means you can miss pretty much any part of the film except the big race at the end and probably pick up the story without too much effort.
Thanks for reading. More movies to see this weekend so look for something more tomorrow. Follow me on Twitter @Nerdkungfu. If you have comments for this movie or my review post them here and if you have off topic questions or suggestions feel free to email me at email@example.com. Have a great night.
A feel good experience it ain’t.
I think that’s a fair warning. I don’t believe all movies need happy endings. In fact I kind of like the dark and twisted stuff, and this movie never marketed itself as a come-from-behind-happy-ending type film. It’s just a little surreal to see a non-horror mainstream movie that doesn’t have a Disneyfied all is roses and rainbows happy ending.
Actually, let me rephrase that. It’s not so much surreal as it is refreshing. Eating too many sweet happy endings can definitely lead to movie diabetes.
So this movie was pretty good, at least if you find your life lacks intensity and questionable moral choices. You definitely remain focused on the screen, and there are a few cool twists and a story that assumes your IQ is higher than the speed you drove on your way to work this morning. If you are looking for a movie to motivate you to cuddle up with your spouse or significant other this one will do the trick (be sure to email me and let me know what that experience is like. Not that I’m bitter).
On the other hand it wasn’t a brilliant movie. It’s always a little frustrating when you can clearly see what scenes were cut out of the film in order to make the run time (at 153 minutes they were already pushing the envelope so I don’t know if I would really want them re-inserted, but it’s pretty clear the director created a 200 minute movie and then the studio took a pruning sheers to it). The biggest chunk missing seems to be the back story and motivation for the main police character Detective Loki. There is a scene where he is eating Thanksgiving by himself at a Chinese restaurant, and a few other references to his work habits and drive but you are left with the feeling one of your limbs was amputated while you slept and then all memory of it erased. You can feel and understand that there is something there but you just can’t feel or enjoy it.
It’s especially unfortunate since Loki was the most interesting character and the one I was most curious about. The main character Keller Dover was good, but he was very linear and clear in his motivation. He was the locomotive pulling the train along very clear tracks, while Loki could have been the gang of train robbers riding along side and adding some cool excitement.
Another issue I found was the lack of connectivity in the story. These days in a crime story such as this we have become accustomed to seeing some cool CSI style crime investigation, with interesting tidbits of information coming from hair or fabric fibers stuck to the bottom of the suspects shoe. Instead this movie relies on really crappy coincidences and gawd-awful tropes on the order of “The criminal always returns to the scene of the crime” and the like. The investigation kind of ran back and forth with none of the investigative progression we see in most crime films. (CSI image courtesy of the TV Show T Shirt category)
It is a crime film and I did enjoy it so I will be avoiding any spoilers. This will of course mean a shorter than usual recap but I think you will thank me for it. The film starts off with Keller Dover (Hugh Jackman-X-men, Reel Steel, Les Miserables) and his family (Maria Bello-a History of Violence, Payback, Secret Window; Dylan Minnette-Let Me In, Saving Grace, the Year Without Santa Claus; Erin Gerasimovich-Orange is the New Black, Awakened, Delivery Man) heading over to Thanksgiving dinner with the their neighbors the Birch’s (Terrance Howard-Red Tails, Crash, Iron Man; Viola Davis-the Help, Solaris, Won’t Back Down; Zoe Borde-All of Us, Read Between the Lines; Kyla Drew Simmons-Parental Guidance, Santa’s Boot Camp, Soul Ties). There is a beat up RV parked on the street. During the afternoon the two little girls disappear, sparking a search.
Detective Loki (Jake Gyllenhaal-End of Watch, Source Code, Donnie Darko) is part of the arrest of the RV driver. It turns out to be mentally challenged Alex (Paul Dano-There Will be Blood, Looper, Little Miss Sunshine). He holds up under questioning due to his inability to understand the questions and his RV checks out, causing him to be released back into the custody of his aunt (Melissa Leo-Oblivion, the Fighter, Frozen River).
In the interest of not spoiling anything I will gloss over the remainder. The rest of the film is a gritty mystery, with Keller facing some tough moral choices. Loki is a bloodhound and turns up some interesting stuff. A decent story if you can mentally gloss over all the deus ex machina.
The story was written to at least a high school graduate level. Two stars. Great acting from pretty much everyone, especially Jake and Hugh. Two stars. In spite of the movie length the pacing was dead perfect and the film never seemed to drag. One star. In an extremely rare occurrence I found myself actually caring about all the characters and sincerely hoping they ended up all right (this is the sign of a director who knows what characters are about and can make them resonate with the audience). Two stars. A crime film the does not rely on action and violence in order to get the point across. One star. Overall worth my time and money. Two stars. Total: ten stars.
The black holes.
I left the theater really wanting to know more about Detective Loki. One black hole. Deus ex machina up the butt. One black hole. While the main characters were relatively easy to identify with I had a hard time locking onto the antagonist (when you see the film you will realize why). One black hole. I know this is petty, but the deus ex denouement is initiated by a single word said by one character in a hospital bed and for the life of me I couldn’t figure out what the hell the word was. I ended up the last 20 minutes of the movie trying to figure out how we got to where we were and it was kind of infuriating. Either bad sound editing or just bad writing. One black hold. Total: four stars.
A grand total of six stars. Not bad at all. Worth your time in my opinion. Date movie? Sure. In fact I recommend it. The story is one of those creepy ones that is not an overt horror film but will motivate anyone to not sleep alone that night. Your date will want to someone to hold on to after seeing this. God knows I was squeezing my pillow extra hard (have I mentioned that my dating life sucks in the last 100 words?). Bathroom break? Actually most of the scenes in the dilapidated apartment building after the first couple are entirely missable. You won’t want to miss them but once the plot point is established you really don’t need to keep having it beaten into your head.
Thanks for reading. I will see something tonight and write it up tomorrow. Feel free to comment here on this film or my review, or if you have off topic suggestions or questions can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org (single brunette women in the 28-38 year range who like opinionated nerds with bitter sarcastic senses of humor are especially welcome). Talk to you soon.