Tag Archive | "Dark of the Moon"

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Dine On the Movies With Me…

Posted on 18 July 2011 by Reel Rhino

So I have been jammed up (mostly seeing movies) with not as much time to post as I would like…here is a taste of what I have been into…

Transformers: Dark of the Moon – 4 Horns
Ironclad – 4 Horns
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part II: 4.5 Horns
The Zookeeper – 3 Horns
Cave of Forgotten Dreams – 4 Horns
Tree of Life – 4 Horns

Transformers: Dark of the Moon – Saw this again in IMAX and as great as the AMC ETX sounded, the digital 3-D IMAX looked much better.  My rating of 4 of 5 Horns stands.

Ironclad – This hidden gem played in only a handful of theaters compared to other summer releases.  Paul Giamatti plays the tyrannical King John and we meet him as he is signing the Magna Carta…that would be 1215 folks, thank you Ms. Spafford, social studies coming though big time here!  As the movie tells you in an intro voice over, we know that the Magna Carta was signed, but its what happened after that is rarely discussed.   John, allied with a foreign power, rode the English countryside with the intention of taking revenge on each of the barons who forced his hand signing the Magna Carta.  With the support of the church, if not for the Siege at Rochester Castle, the subject of the film, he may have succeeded.  During the battle, the soon to be ex-communicated Archbishop travels to France to seek the support of the French.  The question is: will he return soon enough?  If you want to know the answer, you have two options: 1) grab a history book or 2) see this movie.  The film is worth watching, so I vote for option 2. A 4 of 5 Horn rating on this medieval battle film.  PS: Lots of digital blood and bone crushing action.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part II – I have read so much on this movie so far, I feel belaboring the issue will do good for no one.  It’s a great movie, consistent with the production values and story that we have come to appreciate.  J.K. Rowling’s rich continue to grow as HP7.2 has become the all time biggest weekend open ($168.5 million) after becoming the all time biggest midnight release ($92.1 million).  It’s nice to be a part of history.  Personally, I liked Part I a hair better than Part II, but it is still a great filmic end to the saga of Harry Potter.  4.5 of 5 Horns.  PS: I was pretty excited to catch Part I on the big screen as a part of the famed opening night double feature.  For a few pictures of the festivities, check out my previous post on the affair.

The Zookeeper – So I get accused of being easily amused often enough I recognize it as a blessing and a curse.  The blessing: as a guy who likes pretty much everything I see, I can honestly say I rarely feel cheated of my hard earned movie cash.  The curse: when I tell someone I liked a movie, they take it with a greater grain of salt than when heading movie advice for other more critical critics.  The Zookeeper is a family friendly film that was completely passable as summer fun.  I am preferential to Kevin James as a leading man and if Reel Rhino had been blogging in the era of Paul Blart, I would have told you how much I enjoyed that film as well.  We are too expectant of Hangover-like gross-out laughs, when done right, are excellent.  But Eff-Bombs and dick jokes should not be mandatory for enjoyment of a comedy.  I enjoyed this film and feel comfortable giving it a 3 of 5 Horn rating.  It is meant to be silly and it is, which is why I call this film a success.

Cave of Forgotten Dreams – With every major release in the bucket (minus Winnie the Pooh), I had to venture to the art house downtown…so I forgot my wallet and had to barter my way in $2 cheaper than the actual ticket price.  Thanks to that sympathetic ticket taker!!  Werner Herzog was given access to the Chauvet caves in Southern France, capturing on film the oldest known paintings in human history, dating back around 32000 years.  The footage bobbles back and forth between footage of the actual caves and standard talking heads, but the time spent in the cave is breathtaking.  Herzog filmed this in 3-D, but sadly I missed the far too brief run at the big house, and catching this at the art house meant seeing it projected digitally, but in flat ol’ 2-D.  If this ever makes a return to the big screen in 3-D, I will be seeing it, and you should too.  A well-told narrative of the caves discovery and subsequent study, Herzog has created a very enjoyable film that is appropriate for all ages.  I am sure that this film will become standard viewing in high school World History classes and it is deservedly so.  See this film if you can.  4 of 5 Horns

The Tree of Life – Terrence Malick’s fifth directorial feature in 38 years and every film he delivers is a gem.  This film is no different, but it is definitely not for everyone.  It is long at 2 hrs 19 minutes and unless you are into it, that is an eternity.  Especially when there is actually a 20 minute sequence in the film that depicts all of eternity…or at least from the creation of earth up through the existence of dinosaurs on earth.  It was about 4 minutes into this sequence that my theater had its first walkout.  But beyond the existential, this film tells the tale of a family in Texas in the 1950’s.  Brad Pitt is the patriarch and he is raising his three boys with a stern demeanor.  We spend most of the film with the boys themselves, in particular Jack, the middle brother.  We witness the bond of these brothers but also the effect of living in a strict Christian household in Texas in the 50’s.  Jack is a normal boy, who at the heart of the conflict of the film, seems troubled.  I think his behaviors are no different than most boys go through in their youth, taken to extremes.  This film won the coveted Palm d’Ore at Cannes this year, but that doesn’t mean it’s for you.  It touches heavily on spirituality and the nature of God in the lives of the devout.  How can God let bad things happen to good people?  It is quite a film, but please heed this piece of advice.  If you are feeling adventurous and sick of the same old stuff…be brave…go see this film.  It is unlike any movie you have ever seen.  4 of 5 Horns

I’m going to try and catch a couple more flicks this week, so I’ll report back when I can.  Only a few more days and we continue on with the Avengers saga with Captain America.  If you recall, I was not competely taken with Thor, so I hope that The First Avenger can spin up my excitement level and hold me over until next summer.  I am pretty stoked and as I sit hear and type, my background distraction is none other than Iron Man.  Tony Stark inspires my muse…okay, that’s just weird.

Until later, take care!
Reel Rhino

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Larry Crowne: A Reel Rhino Review

Posted on 04 July 2011 by Reel Rhino

Happy 4th of July to ALL!
 
I caught a little grief for my Transformers review…but I stand strong as a uber-TF-fan and I ask for no forgiveness.  I say there is nothing wrong with a film that plays to the teenager-tweenager in us, and while Transformers has some aspects that is geared towards mature, adult viewers, it was mainly is a fan-fricken-tastic nostalgic trip into the days of my youth.  There is nothing wrong with that.  Nothing.  I will never ask for forgiveness for my indulgences and I stand by that my maturity as a filmgoer is beyond reproach.
 
So there.  Nah nah nah nah nah neeeee nah.
 
Speaking of maturity as a filmgoer, how about that Larry Crowne.  Tom Hanks…Julia Roberts…nothing screams adult audience, like Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts!!!
 
Larry Crowne is the second feature directorial effort from Tom Hanks.  I think this movie very much falls into the category of a vanity project…Tom Hanks made this funny, all-around enjoyable film, just because he could.  He co-wrote the flick with Nia Vardalos, who he formerly paired with in producing Vardalos’s breakout hit, My Big Fat Greek Wedding.
 
I find Tom Hanks to be one of the all-time most watchable actors and this effort is no different, you see, as Hanks is both director and star of Larry Crowne.
 
And what is wrong with all of this?  Absolutely nothing!  I’ll take all the Tom Hanks I can get.
 
Membership has its privileges as along for the ride here is Julia Roberts, who plays Mercy, ne Mercedes Tainot, the troubled Professor who leads the speech class that Larry enrolls in as he embarks on his new role as college freshman.
 
The message at the outset of the film is bleak: Larry, a Navy man, is laid off for not having a college degree preventing him from advancing through the ranks at the retail outlet where he is quite clearly the most proud and most knowledgeable employee in their ranks.  Twenty years in the Navy…around the world in the school of hard knocks should count for something, but not so as otherwise we wouldn’t have a flick. 
 
Early on we have cameos from Dale Dye and Rob Riggles.  Cedric the Entertainer and Taraji P. Henson have supporting roles as do Wilder Valderrama, Pam Grier, Bryan Cranston, a great part for George Takai, and a breakout performance by Larry’s new college buddy, Talia, as played by Gugu Mbatha-Raw.  Heck, even Vardalas has a cameo (in voice only), her hubby Ian Gomez, and Hanks’ wife Rita Wilson show up. I bet this film was a blast to shoot!
 
Once Larry loses his job, we learn quickly that he is a divorcee, and with no job and no job prospects, he is in loads of trouble with his mortgage.  Fortunately, he doesn’t rally up some old Navy buddies and start robbing banks…that’s an entirely different film altogether…maybe for Larry Crowne 2: The Revenge.
 
Larry doesn’t fold…he enrolls in school and takes positive steps towards improving his future.  The tone of the film is lighthearted and the message is positive.  There is but one carefully placed F-bomb kept this flick well within the confines of a PG-13 rating, which is good because it is wholly enjoyable for just about any moviegoer.
 
At 99 minutes, this movies exists for just long enough to be a great time, then…cue credits. 
 
The movie would be much more mundane with a lesser cast, but fortunately Hanks has plenty of friends in high places and fortunately also, we end up with the film that was delivered.
 
Crowne’s adventure through a semester of college is steeped in many more ups than downs.  The romance angle is subtle and the various bits through the movie play out as a well-written sequence of events that present a complete and enjoyable film.
 
With another cast, I may have given Larry Crowne a 3.5, but it was just such an enjoyable time in the theater, I couldn’t help but bump up to a 4 of 5 Horn rating.
 
Check this flick out…you won’t be upset is you do.  I promise, this is the anti-blockbuster summer flick loaded with a blockbuster cast.  And it is further proof that I can refine my palate to more adult content, even if it is a load of fun.
 
Happy 4th of July to all those celebrating…to those in other parts of the world…Happy Monday.
 
Until later…take care!
 
Reel Rhino

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Transformers 3: GREATEST MOVIE EVER!

Posted on 02 July 2011 by Reel Rhino

Did that title grab your attention?  I bet it did!  Nothing like a little hyperbole to get the ball rolling!
 
Transformers is not the only thing happening this weekend…I do hope to catch Tom Hanks directing himself in the titular role in Larry Crowne this weekend. I am not crazy about Julia Roberts, but I always seem to enjoy when she and Hanks get together…SEE ALSO: Charlie Wilson’s War.
 
I did have the pleasure of seeing Transformers: Dark of the Moon at the Tuesday night, 9:00pm showing. Thank you Paramount for helping me from staying up till 3:00am…TF 3 was the flick I had allocated myself for a midnight showing, so I am just as happy waiting on that midnight show for HP7, Pt. 2.
 
Dark of the Moon is getting middling to poor reviews, but Jimmy Crack Corn, and I DON’T CARE!! I greatly enjoyed this flick and I borderline loved it.
No, I didn’t love it in the way I love The Godfather, Part II, Apollo 13, 12 Angry Men, The Lady Vanishes, etc…
 
I loved Transformers: Dark of the Moon with that continued state of wide-eyed wonder with my childhood brought to life in vivid living color and live action.  In fact all of the Transformers movies played out in this way for me and this trilogy will always be a special set of movies in my pantheon of films, even if many others consider these in my guilty pleasures category.
 
I am a Michael Bay apologist and I am proud of it.
 
Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen was kind of a cluster, but I enjoyed it for its visual spectacle. The story in Dark of the Moon was dialed way down to a much simpler sequence of events and it helped. The combo of the simpler story and pure triumph in the visual effects makes this the most exciting of the series so far.
Bay is a visual genius. Hands down. Shockwave = Excellent; Retro-moon scenes: Excellent; The End of the World as seen in Chicago = HOLY S***!  Unreal…
 
Keep in mind that all of this is playing out under the somewhat watchful eye of Steven Spielberg. That’s not a bad eye to have in your creative corner…SEE ALSO: Super 8.  Spielberg is becoming kind of a guru to younger filmmakers.  The world can use as much Steven Spielberg as he is willing to give.
 
So rather than getting into the story and breaking down how this film is better than anyone has given it credit for, let me just say again that I loved it.
PS: Megan Fox OUT, Rosie Huntington-Wheatley IN – A non-factor.
PPS: Leonard Nimoy = Great Cameo (Star Trek fans will appreciate a spin on a classic bit of Spock dialogue).
 
Check out Transformers: Dark of the Moon…check it out in IMAX or in one of AMC’s ETX theaters. Bay sent a letter out to projectionists imploring them to check their settings when showing this flick…he utilized some light accentuation technology to improve the brightness of the 3-D showings, when viewing the movie through the polarized glasses.
 
Happy 4th of July to all! Nothing screams the weekend of the 4th like BIG BLOCKBUSTER!
 
Sound off if you disagree with me on TF 3! My position as a Michael Bay apologist probably skews me to some extents. Wargs, I fully expect to hear it from you too…BUT I LOVE IT!
 
The cast for this is an even wider range of big names and the focus of TF3 is very much on the humans…Ehren Kruger is an effective storyteller…Bay is an effective Director…this flick just worked for me!!
 
TRANFORMERS: DARK OF THE MOON – 4 of 5 Horns from REEL RHINO
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Have a great 4th everyone!  Baba, continued safe travels to you and a special shout out to all of the Blinkin family!!
RR

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Weekend Review: Cars 2, Mr. Popper’s Penguins, Bad Teacher

Posted on 26 June 2011 by Reel Rhino

It was a hell of a weekend at sea, Captain!  Hi folks…Reel Rhino here…what a great weekend for te box office.  Yes, Cars 2 brought in $68 million to talk the title, but how about that Bad Teacher?!?  $31 million for a hard-R adult flick…that’s not too shabby!  Green Lanterns is only at $89 million so far and that’s on a $200 million budget…that really may hurt the chance of a sequel!  While I know there is little chance of a sequel of Super 8, it is doing quite well, nearing $100 million domestically and on only a $50 million budget.  JJ Abrams and Steven Spielberg together…if you haven’t seen it yet, please do.

This Tuesday…JUNE 28th…9:00pm…TRANSFORMERS: DARK OF THE MOON – You gotta love Bay for flipping the midnight release on its head and backing it up to 9:00pm for the old folks like me, who just don’t roll as easily into the all-nighters.  The film is playing at 9:00pm in IMAX where you have it and otherwise in standard 2-D and mainly in 3-D.  Michael Bay hooked up with James Cameron to get some pointers on the ins and outs of 3-D…that can’t be a bad thing, right?

Transformers: Dark of the Moon
3-D Advice from James Cameron
Executive Producer: Steven Spielberg
Action Guru: Michael Bay
Megan Fox Out: Rosie Huntington-Whiteley In

I think I am excited!  Are you?

Well, to some mini-reviews…her is my last 8 days at the movies…#1001, #1002, and #1003…if you’re keeping score.

Mr. Popper’s Penguins: 3.5 of 5 Horns
Mr. Popper’s Penguins is based on a 1938 Newbury Award winning book by Richard and Florence Atwater.  This movie, while based on that book, is certainly a liberal adaptation of that classic material.

Mr. Popper’s Penguins is a Jim Carrey vehicle that is a rather subtle Carrey performance.  I lead with that nugget as there are those that like super duper ZANY Jim Carrey and those who like dramatic Jim Carrey.  This has a few zany moments, but mostly his scenes are subtle enough to swallow down regardless of how you feel about the actor.

The story revolves around Mr. Popper (Carrey) who we meet as a lonely boy, whose father is an explorer and world traveler and the only way the father and son pair communicate with one and other is via ham radio.  We see this little boy growing and while you can tell he loves his father, he is quite heartbroken as well and jaded as well.

Smash cut to the adult Mr. Popper, a smooth talking real estate executive who seems to have it all.  One day he gets the call…his father has passed away and left him but one thing…Penguins.

The story is simple enough and is rather entertaining, but only in a simple and fun way.  This movie is no thinker, but as it does give you miles of physical humor to enjoy in the antics of these penguins and their integration into a New York lifestyle.  The emotional core is built around a variety of Daddy Issues.  Mr. Popper had daddy issues to the senior Popper and Mr. Popper’s two kids, Billy and Janie, aren’t really crazy about him either.  Hey, he divorced Carla Gugino (the former Mrs. Popper)….I’d be mad at him too!

This was a fun film to watch but really didn’t leave much of a lasting impression.  Much of the interaction with the penguins is run into corny grounds, which is exactly where a movie like this HAS TO exist.  What are you going to get with something like this…a pseudo documentary?  This movie had to be ridiculous.

Cameos by Phillip Baker Hall, Clark Gregg, Angela Lansbury,  Jeffrey Tambor, and David Krumholtz helped keep the interest level up; but for the decent story that it was, I think you can safely save this one for a rental.

3.5 Horns out of 5 for Mr. Popper’s Penguins.

Bad Teacher: 4 of 5 Horns
Cameron Diaz is no stranger to adult films.  No wait just a minute!  I didn’t mean that kind of adult films…get your minds out of the gutter!

Ms. Diaz is very well known in the R-rated comedy circles for her no holds barred portrayal of the titular Mary in There’s Something About Mary.

Her turn as Elizabeth Halsey is another classic performance, but for its execution and delivery, I don’t think this film will be nearly iconic.

Bad Teacher is a very funny story.  It’s kind of funny like Forgetting Sarah Marshall, but not as Funny as Old School or The 40 Year Old Virgin.

Elizabeth Halsey is a money-grubbing man chaser who will literally do ANYTHING to land a man with dough.

A great supporting cast made this movie truly shine, including Jason Segel as the gym teacher Russell Gettis.  Segel plays Gettis like no character I’ve seen from him before.  I think that this character had the most confidence of any Segel roles to date, and it suited him very well.

Justin Timberlake was acceptable in the corny role of Scott Delacorte, the new teacher in town who becomes the object of Ms. Halsey’s affections and the impetus for her to try and raise the dough for breast augmentation surgery.

There are plenty of juvenile humor moments in this film, but they didn’t bother me as much as normal.  I think the writing was sharp and the execution clean, which actually made some of the “dick and fart” joke moments work.  The movie was written by Gene Stupnitsky and Lee Eisenberg, both of whom are currently penning GHOSTBUSTERS 3.  I hope their delivery here is an indication of what we might be seeing from the boys in beige!

Lucy Punch as Amy Squirrel was brilliant.  Ms. Punch has made appearances in recent flicks like Dinner for Schmucks and Take Me Home Tonight and I give you the Reel Rhino 100% guarantee, this woman will be a star.

Additional support from Phyllis Smith…aka Phyllis from THE OFFICE…was great as she brings a sense of innocence to the dirty/crude antics and experiences them in a wholly comedic way.  Fantastic character actor John Michael Higgins plays Principal Wally Snur, a man obsessed with dolphins and with making his school great.  And the always enjoyable Thomas Lennon cameos as a state education testing official, with hilarity to ensue.

The crux of the tale revolves around Ms. Halsey and Ms. Squirrel jockeying for position as the love interest to Mr. Delacourt.  It seems that he comes from money and while Ms. Squirrel has pure intentions as Delacourt is a real sensitive sally, Ms. Halsey will do anything to find a rich man to support her.  She sees a picture of his ex-, and she realizes…it’s bigger breasts or bust (pun intended).

These two ladies square off with very funny results and the great supporting cast helped up the enjoyment of this naughty, well-made R-rated flick.

A funny aside…this film had a real FREAKS AND GEEKS feel to it.  F&G is a series that if you haven’t seen, you really should.  It runs occasionally on IFC and the full series is only something like 18 episodes.  Jake Kasdan was the producer and occasional director of F&G and he was also the director of this movie.  There was a great homage to F&G with the all teacher band and bar scene concert with teacher Sandy Pinkus, channeling his role from F&G as Jeff Rosso, hippie guidance counselor, who rocked it out in similar fashion back in 1999.  See this movie, see Freaks and Geeks.  Kasdan is one of the disciples of Apatow, so you can be sure he is one to follow.

All in all, I really had a good time with this film.  There weren’t many huge gut-busting laughs, but it was a steady run of guffaws, chuckles, and “oh no you didn’t.”  Also, the theater I saw it in was about ½ full and everyone in the theater also seemed to like, which made it that much better of a viewing experience.

4 of 5 Horns for Bad Teacher.

Cars 2: 3 of 5 Horns
(Kenfu, this one’t for you!)
Cars 2 is an extremely watchable film.  The trouble is, when you’re Pixar, extremely watchable Is one of the worst things that can be said about your movie. 

I enjoyed this more Mater centric tale and I thought that the Pixar folks successfully wove together this story of international mystery and intrigue with the old folks from Radiator Springs…but…

Oh that darn but, Rhino!

BUT…I think that Pixar decided to coast a bit for this one.

Exhibit A: Talking about the “dinosaurs” going extinct…they couldn’t have changed it to “Dino-Cars,” just for those few lines?

Exhibit B: When Lighting and Mater were at the dance club for the World Grand Prix reception, there were lights from above shining on the floor.  Mater and Lightning drove around and as they did, the lights didn’t shine on them, indicating inattention to this as a detail.

Exhibit C: When the final chase/battle is on, as Mater and Lightning hit a big hill and launch into the air, the texture map for the animation modeling was visible for a fraction of a second.

Exhibit D: in one of the publicity photos, there is a scene of Lighting and Mater fleeing an explosion.  When that scene played in the film, it was Mater only, fleeing instead with Finn McMissle.  Conspiracy?  I think if any site should break this story, its BlinkinBlogs!  Pixar painted this more of a straight up Cars flick, but make no mistake, Mater is the lead here.  The kids should love it regardless, as it is kind of a continuation of the series released as Mater’s Tall Tales, just stretched out to feature lgnth.  Not to say I can blame them, as Lightning is supposed to be the anchor…and he is the anchor of the story, but don’s misrepresent your product!

What does all this mean?  That the boys at Pixar are Human Beings!  We all thought Tiger, and Michael Jordan, and Charlie Sheen were perfect…okay, not Charlie Sheen, but you get the idea.

Pixar is made up of people and for what the film is, Cars 2 is a completely enjoyable film.  It’s just not up to the level of quality of product or storytelling we are accustomed to for these folks.

I give Cars 2 a 3 of 5 only because when you consider the source, you have to expect better.  This was an acceptable film from a studio that demands perfection.  I think I can say that whatever comes next from Pixar, will be tuned up and checked over before it is released.

A quick aside…the 3-D in this film was visually stunning.  This film makes up in appearance for all the shortcomings in story.

On an aside, the crew from TOY STORY was all here well as there was Hawaiian Vacation, a Ken and Barbie centric adventure with all of your Toy Story favorites.

If you plan on bringing a kid to see Cars 2, keep this in mind…at my showing:

Previews:  24 minutes
Hawaiian Vacation: 10 minutes
Cars 2: 1 hour and 52 minutes

That’s a long time to keep a kid happy.  I recommend arriving in your seats around 30 minutes after the listed start time.  The first 6 minutes of the actual movie was pretty fluffy as well, with some Radiator Springs business that gave us the set-up for Lighting and Mater to make the trip overseas for the World Grand Prix.

That’s my take on the whole bit of business…until later, take care!

Reel Rhino

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