Tag Archive | "Reel Rhino"

Tags:

The Mutha Effing Return (Cue the Jay Z!) Wha, What! REEL RHINO!

Posted on 29 July 2012 by Reel Rhino

Blinkin has come, gone, and is back with a fury…and so am I….you want movie news….you got movie news.

But seriously,  I have been really, really busy and I have succumb to the curse that befalls most folks that write for any reason, be it professionally or casually…no time.

Yeah, that’s right, I’ve been pretty busy living.

I do live to write…in 5th grade I won the regional writing award for poetry…I even remember the first few lines:

A look to the future,
A glance to the past,
From cavemen to dinosaurs,
Astronauts to cats.

Yes, that was the AMAZING first stanza that won me a $50 savings bond and also the chance to read said poem at the Millcreek Township school board meeting.  In fifth grade, that was on par with national publicity.

So I really do love to write and I would love to write on a more professional level (maybe someday), but for now, this is my venue.

That is the upside…this is a no pressure venue and I can write once a month, or once a day, and its all good.  Just know that if I had my way, it would be more often than less.  I love you guys, I do!  Yeah, it’s getting misty in here!

So, seen any good movies lately?

Here’s a short and partial list of what I have seen since I last wrote:

Jeff, Who Lives at Home
Men In Black III: Real-D 3-D
The Chernobyl Diaries
The Sound of My Voice
Snow White and the Huntsman
Bernie
Prometheus: The 3-D IMAX Experience
Madagascar 3-D
Snow White and the Huntsman
Rock of Ages
The Avengers 3-D
Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter 3-D
The Amazing Spiderman: The 3-D IMAX Experience
Ted
Safety Not Guaranteed
Moonrise Kingdom
Singin’ In The Rain
Savages
Your Sister’s Sister
Ice Age: Continental Drift
The Dark Knight Rises: The IMAX Experience
The Watch
Under the Boardwalk: The Monopoly Story

Yeah, I’ve seen a bunch!  In fact my count for the year as of this moment: 194 movies, theater and home viewing included!  If you remember back in January, I made the statement that I would make a run at 365 in 365….well as of today, the 29th of July — 211 days into the year…I’m still in this thing!!  I was well ahead of schedule until around the end of April.  I will be back!  I will make 365!

As for what I have seen, I wanted to give you a list of must-sees from my list above…


Your Sister’s Sister
 – 4.5 Horns – An indie flick starring Rosemarie Dewitt, Emily Blunt, and Mark Duplass — DUPLASS IS A GENIUS actor (and director) – see also Safety Not Guaranteed, Jeff, Who Lives at Home, and THE LEAGUE!

Safety Not Guaranteed – 4 Horns – Awesome indie comedy drama that made it to the mainstream theaters for two weeks…starring Duplass and AUBREY PLAZA…everyone loves April from Parks and Rec, and she is channels in Plaza’s performance here as well!  This flick is an indie dramedy that by the end, becomes an indie dramedy SCIFI flick!

Rock of Ages – 4.5 Horns – 80’s Rock Musical that defied by uncertain expectations to be absolutely effing AWESOME!
The Sound of My Voice – 4.5 Horns – Creepy indie drama…the second larger release after Another Earlth, from Brit Marling…she has writing chops and in the lead role of Maggie, the leader of the cult at the center of this film, this indie drama is also indie sci-fi, that delivers a twist that is well worth the price of admission!
Jeff, Who Lives at Home – 4.5 Horns – I was a quivering mess by the end of this MARK DUPLASS directed flick…yes it was co-directed with his brother Jay, but this is the third entry for Duplass in my must-see list.  Mark Duplass is phenomenal in general, and he and his bro deliver here in a well told, tightly woven story that seems to be all over the place while managing never to lose you!  And holy S, RAE DOWN CHONG is in this thing!  Where has she been!

Prometheus – 4.5 Horns – Sir Ridley Scott demands to be seen.  His touch is golden and his flicks rock, consistently!

The Amazing Spider-Man – 4 Horns – A story I didn’t know needed to be told, actually was told quite well. I think for his delivery, Andrew Garfield is a superior Spidey, but Spider-Man 2 remains my favorite of the Spider-Man flicks!

The Dark Knight Rises – 4.5 Horns – Just a phenomenol end to Nolan’s run!  This flick was awesome!  Much more story-centric than the previous two, it will be my #2 in the series, but only a close second to The Dark Knight.  Ledger and Eckhart delivered in a way that may never be matched again in comic book fare, but Tom Hardy did a damn fine job as well.  Bravo to everyone involved in this flick.

I was dissappointed by: Ted, The Watch, and Savages.  That is all I will say about the negative…

Well…its good to see you all…check out some of the flicks I mention above…you will not be disappointed!!

Until later, take care!  And blinkinites, its good to be back.
Reel Rhino

Comments (0)

Tags: , , ,

Goon, Gone, and Project X

Posted on 06 March 2012 by Reel Rhino

A few quick flicks…I found it interesting that as my week went on, it was swapping an O for an E that got me from Goon to Gone…

GOON
Yes, Seann William Scott has two n’s in his name AND he has seemingly forsaken Kevin Smith.  Yes, he passed on Smith’s Hit Somebody in lieu of doing this hockey flick instead.  While I think that Smith’s effort will in fact be genius, perhaps more in the dramedy genre, Goon holds its own as a solid hockey comedy.

This movie was certainly accentuated by the fact that I caught it at home on Time Warner On-Demand, viewing it with The Kid in the Helmet and Papa Schmer.  Now, Papa was far less entertained than The Kid, but having at least one cohort who got some great belly laughs at all the right moments helped out a great deal in this viewing.

Goon follows Doug Glatt (Scott), a loser who is depressed because he seemingly has nothing in his life that makes him standout.  Doug is down in the dumps and his friend Ryan (Jay Baruchel) takes him to see their local hockey team play.  It is something of medieval times as the games are more about the fights than the hockey. When Ryan gets a little too mouthy with one of the players going at it, the player hops the wall and heads up into the stands.  Doug quickly finds a talent…in beating the hell out of that player.  He is quickly recruited by the team, and takes on the hallowed mantle of “Goon.”

Add in a little Alison Pill as a love interest and Liev Schrieber as Ross Rhea, the resident Goon who is currently serving a suspension for breaking the only rule of hockey fights…you never fight with your stick.

Written by Baruchel and Evan Goldberg, the ying to Seth Rogen’s writing yang, the dialogue is crude at times, but biting and funny.

Papa withstanding, we laughed…a lot.

I don’t know if Goon will get a theatrical release, but check it out when you get a chance.  If you can, watch it with friends.  It is readily worthy of a 3.5 of 5 Horn high stick salute!  It’s short enough to get in and get out before it wears out its welcome.  Also, Alison Pill is quite stellar.  She was the red-haired drummer from Sex Bomb-Omb in Scott Pilgrim, she was Zelda Fitzgerald in Midnight in Paris, and she was Anne Kronenberg in Milk….she is a beautiful chameleon!  Also, on a downer note, Eugene Levy is here, but its only a down note because his character is quite the straight man to his normal jokey dad role.

GONE
This film is not nearly as bad as they say it is.  Amanda Seyfried is quite convincing as the empowered damsel in distress.  Jennifer Carpenter has something of a cameo and for a few moments, she manages to channel Deb Morgan from Dexter, but otherwise she is just a character.

Seyfried is Jill, one year out from narrowly escaping from a serial killer, or so she says, but no one believes her.  Around the one year anniversary, she comes home from the night shift at an all-night diner, and her sister Molly is Gone.  She was studying for an exam, and has seemingly vanished without a trace.  Dash in a history of alcoholism and drug abuse, and Molly’s disappearance is potentially just a bender, so the coppers just don’t buy it.

What follows is an enjoyable detective-flick where the former victim Jill is the detective, weaving tales to the people who may have clues to where her sister is, with her prime theory that her former kidnapper mistakenly took her sister in her place, to finish the job from when she escaped.

Given that the police don’t believe there is a serial killer in the first place, they are a little less than helpful in her search for her sister.

The ending is a little fast in its delivery and while things are resolved to an acceptable level, the speed with which it delivers, almost makes you feel unrequited.  I forgive the ending for the enjoyable ride this film takes you on.  It’s not a super movie, its just a solid thriller.

If you’ve read the bad reviews, look past them and consider giving this a chance.  3.5 of 5 Horns for Gone.

PROJECT X
Check out the trailer for this, and you have seen all you need to see about whether or not you will like it.  It is geared towards the 15 to 25 year old range, but for the likes of old men like me, there is a draw.

You see, this movie exactly depicts how I recall through drunken eyes, some of the greatest nights of my college life.

It is produced by Todd Phillips and it is presented to some extent as a found footage film, but they really don’t work hard to keep up the facade that it clearly is a studio film.

I will say as this thing rounds home, I sat with my jaw dropped for the last 10 minutes of this rager.

4 of 5 Horns for stupid drunken fun from a life long past.  Granted this film is set in the high school realm, it gets a little ridiculous to consider that a residential neighborhood could contain this kind of madness.  It was much more clearly the type of debauchery that made the stuff of dreams along Route 1 in College Park, MD. Go Terps, baby, Go Terps!

That’s all for now…until later, here’s looking towards some brighter days filled with loads of worthy flicks!
Reel Rhino

Comments (0)

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Post Oscars Refraction: A Smattering of Films

Posted on 28 February 2012 by Reel Rhino

I have been watching movies, I promise!  I actually survived a medical scare last week and spent a few days laid up in bed.  I used my time in bed and my recovery soon after to catch up on much of what I haven’t seen from recent months.

I will say that Time Warner On-Demand has a great selection of “see-it while its in theaters” kind of flicks and for that, I am grateful!

For your money today, I offer smattering of mini-reviews, some longer than others…my time at the keyboard has been less than I would like, as of late, but a boy’s gotta eat, and the “real” job pays the bills!

I have been writing this post for the better part of 2 weeks.  The really really short reviews are the product of me being too tired to care, generating the desire to just post this darn thing!  So for you, in a post Oscars 2012 world, I offer you this film buffet:

ACT OF VALOR: 4.5 of 5 Horns
THE ARTIST: 5 of 5 Horns
THE WOMAN IN BLACK: 3.5 of 5 Horns
THIS MEANS WAR: 3 of 5 Horns
SAFE HOUSE: 4 of 5 Horns
THE INNKEEPERS: 4 of 5 Horns
PERFECT SENSE: 4 of 5 Horns
THE IRON LADY: 3.5 of 5 Horns
GHOST RIDER: SPIRIT OF VENGANCE: 3.5 of 5 Horns
JOURNEY 2: THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND: 4 of 5 Horns

Act of Valor
This film was culled from footage of real-life Navy Seals in action.  It took the weekend overwhelming viewers, while underwhelming critics.  This is a movie that truly is critic-proof though, as you don’t go for the acting…seeing this movie is something of an act of patriotism.  It was moving, had mind-blowing action, and while it was light in the acting talent, it just didn’t matter.

There were moments when the big-guns kicked in at just the right moment, in what seemed like last minute heroics, but was actually perfectly orchestrated battle plans.  I loved this movie and it made me relish the respect I have for my Brother, a Marine, whose courage has and always will inspire me to do the best I can in my life.  I revere those who risk everything so we can have anything, and this film, while not a traditional Hollywood blockbuster, does proper tribute to all those who serve, but especially those who fight battles that we really have a hard time comprehending.

4.5 of 5 Horns

The Artist
Simply amazing.  5 of 5 horns any day and it is everything they say it is.  This is a film to behold and one to applaud for the sake of pure creative genius!

The Woman in Black
Mundane horror fare.  3.5 of 5 Horns for an acceptable, but otherwise run of the mill horror film.  Harry Potter, we expect better from you.  OBLIVIATE! There…that’s better….but…now…who am I again?

This Means War
Better than I expected, but still not as good as it could of been.  It was missing something special that certainly could have elevated it from what it is to what it could have been!  The film is carried by the affability of Pine and Hardy, it was as The Kid in the Helmet said, impossible to watch and not see Hardy as Bane in the upcoming The Dark Knight Rises.  3 of 5 Horns  — Here’s looking forward to TDKR and Star Trek 2!

Safe House
Denzel Washington and Ryan Reynolds.  ‘Nuf Said.  4 of 5 Horns for this exciting, fun action ride that features an old hand doing what he does best and really the new kid in action-adventure fare, testing the waters.  Really, Reynolds has only supported the action films in which he has starred (Smokin’ Aces and X-Men Origins: Wolverine), and I think that Green Hornet is not representative of his potential in the genre.  Reynolds  has only scratched the action surface and he will likely shift from Rom-Com fare to more gritty stuff, or at least we can hope (or at least I do!).  As a side note, I would have loved to have seen this flick directed by Tony Scott…that guy can direct!

The Innkeepers
This is the second semi-mainstream offering from Ti West (not counting Cabin Fever 2).  His first semi-wide theater release was House of the Devil, which was stunning and so beautifully vintage in tone and artistic design.  He has an eye for shots that captivate and he clearly films on a serious budget.  This is the story of two clerks working the final weekend at a very old Inn, hell bent on uncovering the mystery surrounding the supposed hauntings at the place.  It is so crisp in its presentation, it looks like it was shot on a prosumer HD camcorder, but it adds to the look and feel of the film in such an effective way.  If Devil was dark (and it was), Innkeepers was light (in the sense that the lights were almost always on).  That lightness made the trips into the basement so much more effective.  Check this out for another effort for a talented up and comer in the horror genre!  A solid 4 of 5 Horns for The Innkeepers.

Perfect Sense
The wold is headed for chaos as an apocalyptic-inducing disease is slowly robbing people of their senses.  Ewan McGregor and Eva Green are splendid…yes, I said splendid, in this part-love story, part-end-of-the-world genre blend the likes of which is both unique and well-played.  KIMBALIANO saw this last year at Sundance, and here’s what she had to say then…

My other love of the fest so far has been PERFECT SENSE. Not because I have an obsessive crush on Ewan McGregor (which I do) or that he’s a little bit naked in the film (which, ladies, he is) but because this is an amazing, emotional movie. It’s the story of a couple (played by Ewan and Eva Green) who fall in love while a strange pandemic breaks out around the world. It starts with an overwhelming moment of loss and grief, then an unexplainable loss of smell. Eventually the entire world is effected. As this strange illness unfolds the human reaction, both on a global level and in the intimate details of the couple’s relationship, are presented. The not-knowing in this movie will make you uncomfortable, but the story is too compelling not to watch. It hasn’t been picked up yet, but I really hope it does. As with most Sundance movies, these two don’t exactly wrap themselves up in a pretty bow at the end, but that’s what I find most enjoyable about them.

Yes, it was picked up and I had the chance to see this on Time Warner On-Demand…for my taste, a solid 4 of 5 Horn movie with curiosity fueling the viewing more than enjoyment.  But there’s nothing wrong with that, is there?

The Double
I watched this on Netflix Watch Instantly and remarkably, I didn’t hate it.  At best, I found that it kept a quarter of my attention, with the other three-quarters fulled with lament as after clicking a link, my Facebook account “upgraded” to timeline…lament, oh lament.

The film has a pair of stars in (Chris)Topher Grace and Richard Gere.  I added the Chris because you and I know that it’s actually there.  Richard Gere’s performance was reminiscent of his part in the 1997 remake of The Jackal (originally Day of the Jackal).

This film held this part of my attention, but for a thriller, it wasn’t really that thrilling.  There is a huge reveal about 20 minutes in that I full expected to be a twist or a red herring, but I was sadly disappointed.

The film basically revolves around a manhunt for a Russian gun for hire turned serial murderer, of sorts.  Grace has his moments, but also some doozy bits of acting at times.

Whereas the plot unravels early, some of the dialogue is exposition heavy…including Topher talking to himself, speaking outloud his theories on the case, because that’s what normal people do all the time.

All in all, I gave this a 3 of 5 Horn rating.  See it if you’re bored, but otherwise pick a classic you’ve never seen, lean back, relax and enjoy a better film.

The Iron Lady
This as a film did not wow me; Meryl Streep as Margaret Thatcher did wow me.  She is one of the finest actors of our generation and this film is worth watching for her performance alone.  I gave this film a 3.5 as a watchable all-around story of a still-living, breathing legend of politics.  It is a pretty standard biopic running three ages of Margaret Thatcher at the same time, with Streep handling the active-politics years as well as the retired, confused old woman who when she goes to the store for some milk, isn’t even recognized.

Let me also say that the make-up in this phenomenal and it is one of the three films nominated for the make-up award from The Academy.  It’ll be a touch and go race, but it may be Glenn Close’s Albert Nobbs that takes the award.

Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengence 3-D
This ain’t your mother’s Ghost Rider.  Unfortunately, it ain’t exact;y the great flick I thought it would be, either.  It is, by far, around 100% better than the original. Neveldine/Taylor are an extremely talented pair of directors and cinematographers.  This film was bumped up a whole point in my book for the stark deviation in tone and production methods from the first one.  The original was a green screen nightmare and this offering is more visceral, something resembling the reality that could be in a world with the Rider.

Nicolas Cage, you either love him or hate him…there is little middle ground.  Fortunately for me, I am on the love him side, so in addition to the great direction, Cage’s hammy delivery suits this film perfectly.

The son of the devil was born to a mortal woman and his coming of age is upon the world.  The boy is on the run with his mother and pursued first by the devil’s minions, second by a mysterious boozy priest, played enjoyably by Idris Elba.  Elba enlists the help of The Rider, convincing him with the promise that if he is successful, his order of priests can lift the curse that has him roaming the night harvesting souls for the devil.

All in all, I give this a 3.5 of 5 horn rating….This is not a $14 movie, and that’s what I paid…it was also playing in ETX 3-D, which I believe would have been $16….

Things are getting crazy expensive at AMC and while I love AMC with specific affection for my Barrywoods crew, I can’t go without saying pointing it out.   Cinemark in Merriam is $4 bucks for all shows before 6pm, $6 for all shows after.  Their 3-D mark-up is $2.75….meaning that worst case scenario for any 3-D show is a matinee viewing for a 3-D flick is $8.75.

I did the IMAX viewing of Journey 2 (see below) and it was a CRAZY $16.00 for the film.  At least they had the decency to play a Warner Brothers Looney Tunes short before the film.  $16.00 for 94 minutes…that’s $1 per $6 minutes of film, give or take.  Yikes.

Journey 2: The Mysterious Island – The 3-D IMAX Experience
I hate those who judge films like this before giving it any chance at all.  This a fun, family film that makes it mark as a fine (albeit cheesy at times) adventure.  Like the first film, it was built for 3-D and enhanced by its release in IMAX.  I think watching this at home would greatly reduce one’s enjoyment, but with the likes of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Sir Michael Caine, and Luis Guzman, there was no shortage of talent in the acting department.  Yeah, you heard me say it, I think The Rock can act.  See also: The Rundown for one of my favorite action films of recent years.  I enjoyed him in Fast 5 and really think he can accentuate the action element of any movie.  It is, what it is, though.  Either you will like it, or you will endure it.  Luckily for me, I liked it…but I am easy to please!  4 of 5 Horns

Yes, I’ll be headed back to the theater soon…sorry for the sporadic postings, but times have been crazy around here, and I hope it slows down soon so I can get back to writing!!!

Until later, take care!
Reel Rhino

Comments (2)

Tags: , , , ,

3rd Annual Reel Rhino OSCAR POOL – Come Get Some!

Posted on 21 February 2012 by Reel Rhino

3rd Annual REEL RHINO Oscar Pool – JOIN IN THE FUN!!!

Folks, last year was a BEAR tracking in Excel all of the submissions to the Oscar pool.  Well track no more Reel Rhino, for I have found a trusted and reliable website that runs it for FREE!
Much like the Fantasy leagues have their sites in ESPN, YAHOO, and CBS SPORTSLINE, we now have…
This is a website that specializes in entertainment games and it was our good fortune that they have an OSCAR POOL!
NO COST, NO OBLIGATION, LOTS OF FUN!!
The password for my group is….. rhino …yeah, surprising, I know!
Here is the link:

REEL RHINO OSCAR POOL (password: rhino)

I will be posting and reposting this until the Academy Awards start on Sunday.  Also, I am employing the sites recommended scoring system which takes into account a heavier weighting of the more popular categories to try to keep the shots in the dark from skewing the results.
WINNER GETS TO PICK ANY MOVIE FOR ME TO REVIEW — last year’s champ had me write-up on Justin Bieber’s Never Say Never…what will you choose…oh, yeah….nothing, since I WILL BE VICTORIOUS!!!
Again, the password is rhino and the site is…
JOIN IN THE FUN….can you take down last year’s champion, KRISTIN (See her late 90’s promo head shot to see just who you are up against)!?!?!
Take care and good luck…
Reel Rhino

Comments (3)

Tags: , , , ,

The Kid in the Helmet Gets Old With Jay and Silent Bob

Posted on 17 February 2012 by Reel Rhino

I promise you…I’ve not gotten lazy, just busy.  I must turn to THE KID IN THE HELMET, my trusted compatriot to pick up some slack for me.  I have seen Safe House (4 of 5 Horns) and I felt compelled to go and see the 3-D Phantom Men-ASS…yes, you can infer from that terrible joke, that I find the Episode I calamity, my least favorite of the George Lucas’s saga…

Ugh…

I leave you in the safe capable hands of The Kid in the Helmet…take it away, Kid:

————————————

Hello Reel Rhino reader, The Kid in the Helmet here once again.

So, a couple weeks ago I had the opportunity to attend a Fathom event at AMC Barrywoods. For those who don’t know, Fathom puts live events on the big screen around the country. This was something I never thought I would do as the only Fathom events I have ever seen advertised prior were for the ballet, the opera, and some sort of Glenn Beck thing. Nothing I would spend money on. But for those of you who have read my contributions to Rhino’s blog before you know I am a big Kevin Smith fan. So when I heard he would be doing a Fathom event featuring a live recording of one of his many podcasts, “Jay and Silent Bob Get Old,” (http://smodcast.com/channels/jay-silent-bob-get-old/), it was like they had decided to do this show for me alone, and I felt like a very special boy, indeed.

(Reel Rhino note…I added that last line.  The Kid is by far in the top 7 to 12 Kevin Smith fans…in the world.)

My dad (Papa Schmer) tagged along with me and we arrived an hour early to ensure a good seat. This turned out to not be necessary as there were only about 10-15 people in the theater…but when it’s streamed all across the country, the crowd adds up, I suppose. Things started off a little rough with some technical difficulties…they were late getting the show running by about 5-10 minutes and then there was another 5-10 minutes of sound but no picture. But it eventually got squared away, and for a 20 minute run of technical issues, AMC was kind enough to give us a pass for a free movie, so all’s well that ends well.

Jay and Silent Bob Get Old was as funny as always. It began with a conversation around Kevin’s dog Skully who was slowly passing away…doesn’t sound like a funny topic I know, so I guess I’ll just say you’d have to hear it to realize that much like Kevin can do with even the most morose of topics, he spins it just right.  Check it out if so inclined. The rest of the show mostly revolved around Kevin telling a story about trying to keep his large pet tortoise from…how shall I put this…making unwanted coitus with his smaller pet tortoise. Funny stuff, so give it a listen.

After the podcast Kevin and Jay came back out and did a Q&A taking questions from the audience in the theater as well as the audience all over the country via Twitter. The big news from the Q&A was that Jay and Silent Bob will be returning to the big screen.

(Reel Rhino note….WHA, WHA, WHA….WHAT! ~ nice!)

Recently Jay came to Kevin and told him he was bored and looking from something to work on. Kevin tossed him a script he had written for an animated Jay and Silent Bob movie. Jay went off on his own and got it financed and produced. It is called “Jay and Silent Bob’s Super Groovy Cartoon Movie.” It will premier this year at the Toronto International Film Festival and then Kevin will take it on the road similar to last year’s Red State road show. While it is mostly animated it will also feature a live action portion for which Kevin any Jay will don the costumes once again. For more details on this and many other Smith related things check out this exclusive interview with the man himself:

http://www.craveonline.com/film/interviews/182497-exclusive-kevin-smith-the-jay-and-silent-bob-animated-movie.

Overall I would rate the Fathom event experience 4.5 out of 5 Helmets. It loses a half a helmet due to the technical difficulties. Kevin will be doing another one of these soon with another podcast, Hollywood Babble-On, his weekly Hollywood Poop  Chute with Ralph Garmin, made famous for his Silent Bob-esque role as the speechless Caleb in Smith’s Red State.  No, actually, he is quite a well renowned voice actor and notable DJ on KROQ in Los Angeles.   He is funny and great with impersonations….only the penitent man will pass…penitent man, penitent man….(Harrison Ford).  So look for that soon and check it out.

The cost was only $15 bucks…pretty cheap for a fun and different movie going experience.  Hell, I heard the Reel Rhino once paid $17 to see The Jonas Brothers 72 minute concert movie….sucker.  I got a 3 hour show…now that’s buying power!

Thanks Kid! You are always a welcome addition to the site…also good at picking up my slack!  I promise to return soon with some reviews, pithy comments on life, and all around goodness.

Take care…

Reel Rhino

Comments (2)

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Reel Rhino’s Top 15 Films of 2011

Posted on 16 January 2012 by Reel Rhino

So here it is folks…I know you all have been waiting with baited breath.  Feel free to exhale for the wait is over.

I have be honored to be a part of the Blinkin Blogs team, and I thank the site management for allowing me to continue to post.  I relish my relationship with movies and I appreciate the opportunity to share my experiences with you!

This list, as with much in life, comes with a disclaimer.  My top 15 list is based on the movies that I saw this year.  I am an 80/20 dude, you should know that from the get go.  80% of the films I see are mainstream releases, the other 20% are comprised of indies and documentaries.  Also, I rank my top flicks based on what I see in a calender year.  For example, I have not yet seen WE BOUGHT A ZOO.  Not to say that this would for sure make my list, but because I haven’t seen it, I didn’t even consider it.

Okay, okay…enough rules.  Get to business already!

Fine…you want it, you got it!!

REEL RHINO TOP 15 of 2011
15. Attack the Block – 4.5 of 5 Horns
Joe Cornish has created a unique film, which may have been the most fun you didn’t have in the theater this year.  Yep, you probably missed this one, but you need to give it a chance.  Cornish is from the Edgar Wright camp and this is a British inner-city spin on the alien invasion tale.  This film exists solidly on its own merit and the rag tag group of dudes are part Goonies, part Ghostbusters with a whole load of British swagger and cheeky humor.  The special effects were creative and a bit campy, which gave great ambiance to this film.  Bravo Mr. Cornish, Bravo.

14. Hanna – 4.5 of 5 Horns
Joe Wright created a wholly enjoyable and unique twist on the CIA/spy thriller.  Gritty from the word go and the fantastic score by The Chemical Brothers added ambiance to this film that did nothing but make it even more great.  Saoirse Ronan is spectacular as the titular Hanna and Erik Banna and Cate Blanchett are in their prime.  Banna’s Erik is a bad-ass and he seems to have passed all of his tricks on successfully to the younger Hanna.  This film is very much a chase film from start to finish, and Wright manages the action like an old pro, when this is in fact his first dip into the action pool.  Hanna is not a perfect movie, but it is cool as can be.  It was released through an American studio but it Wright’s touches give it a very palatable European sensibility. The tone shifts from dark to light to dark and so on, keeping you on your toes not knowing who is lurking around the next corner.

13. Rango – 4.5 of 5 Horns
This kid’s flick ain’t really for kids, folks.  It is a fantastic film that is rich in characters.  It is not to be missed and while there are enough interesting visuals to keep the kids semi-happy, the adults will really see the humor and the depth that this film has to offer.  Johnny Depp himself has become somewhat a cliche of wild character films, but he does Rango true justice and yes, even though we rarely get to see Depp in any kind of subdued role, his wild eyed range adds to Rango in the best possible ways.  In most animated films, it is hard to look past the voices to see the characters.  In this film, these characters live and breathe on their own.  I challenge you to pinpoint any of the talent behind the voices, outside of Depp and a very obvious Timothy Olyphant-astic.  This film is a pure animated spaghetti western disguised as Nickelodeon fodder.  You will have a great time watching this movie.

12. Everything Must Go – 4.5 of 5 Horns
The story of a man on the edge of disaster…well actually, his life is a disaster.  He is fired from his job, his wife has left him, and he’s an alcoholic.  Oh yeah…his wife’s swan song…she moves everything he owns onto their lawn before she leaves the house and changes the locks.  What really made this film shine for me was Will Ferrell.  His performance was a tour de force in my book and he give a performance that proves he is more than sports spoofs and occasionally funny goofball comedies.  His sidekick, a young boy named Kenny is played by Christopher Jordan Wallace who is non-other than the son of the Notorious B.I.G.  The young Wallace has a deadpan delivery but he is exceptional in this role, only his second ever, having previously played the child version of his pops in the 2008 biopic, Notorious.  This film was somewhat depressing with an exceptional sense of catharsis head towards the finish.  The film actually inspired me to get my own business together and clear out years of hoarding stuff…a few garage sales later, and I feel I now have a lot of wheat, and a lot less chaff.

11. Red State – 5 of 5 Horns
Asked and answered counselor…see also my three posts about this film on my other site (http://www.reelrhino.com) – The third post is exceptionally entertaining IMO, as I was engaged on Twitter by none other than Fred Phelps himself:

Red State (POST 1)
Red State (POST 2)
Red State (POST 3)

10. Super 8 – 5 of 5 Horns
J.J. Abrams has existed as one of my favorite folks in the entertainment industry for some time now. He solidified that opinion with the wonderful reboot of the Star Trek series. I’d like to say J.J. is a wunderkind director, but he’s been in the biz for over 20 years. In the 1980’s Abrams helped Steven Spielberg repair home movies he had made as a kid. That’s a pretty good break for a young wannabe filmmaker and this was just the first of Abrams/Spielberg interactions that would ultimately lead to this project. While Abrams calls Spielberg the Grandfather of Super 8; Spielberg maintains that Abrams could have travelled this road on his own. Super 8 is something of a Goonies meets E.T. alien adventure film, that is surrounded by all the mystery that both directors love. For further reading, please see also, Abrams TED talk on the mystery of the box. Well Super 8 is loaded with mystery. For starters, the mystery of who the hell are these kid actors? If they were to remake the Goonies, I would vote these folks in. Elle Fanning is charming and a chip off the old family block. I was also happy to see Noah Emmerich and Ron Eldard back in the blockbuster feature game. Super 8 is pure adventure from start to finish. See this movie.

9. Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol – 4.5 of 5 Horns
Impressive is just about the perfect word used to describe this film…this extremely impressive first live action effort from PIXAR wunderkind Brad Bird.  He made his bones in the action genre with The Incredibles, but the question was, could he do it without the support of the great animators and collaborative effort that makes every Pixar film shine so bright.  The answer is yes.  And to our old friend Tommy Boy (Cruise, that is), I give you a hearty round of applause, for reascending to the ranks of proper action star.  I think that it was as important to have the Bad Robot (JJ Abrams) team on-board as producer of this flick, as evidenced by JJ’s recent successes (see also: Super 8).  The IMF team assembled here play off each other well, in a comedic sense, as well as running missions like well oiled heists, making the impossible possible.  Jeremy Renner is the here and now, folks…he’s the real deal.  Ethan Hunt is very similar to John McLane as a seemingly indestructible hero…it sometimes gets ridiculous, but somehow it works.  Ethan Hunt is truly the Energizer Bunny of movie heroes.  These action sequences really pop and watching this film gave me one of my favorite film going experiences of 2011.  And, oh yeah, what a joy to see some good old fashion US/Russia hostility captured sublimely on the big screen.  I’m all for world peace but the hints of Cold War conflict in this film gave me a sense of nostalgia ala Red Dawn and Hunt for Red October style of tension.

8. The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo – 4.5 of 5 Horns
When this project was announced, I shuddered.  Literally.  I was sick that we felt obligated to further demonstrate our ethnocentric way of being in the world of film, by taking a perfectly good foreign film and remaking it in the “American Way.”  My fear were mostly assuaged when I heard the picture would be handled by David Fincher, who along with Christopher Nolan, is one of my favorite working directors of the day.  Fincher lives in a dark world on film, and who better to translate the dark world of Stieg Larsson to the big screens her in the states.  He succeeded on every level and he managed to translate the cute American girl -type in Rooney Mara into a very impressive Lizbeth Salander.  Yes, Mara is something of a scream-queen, having appeared in a variety of horror/thriller flicks in the past, but she is this cute little thing, who becomes something else entirely.  Out of the gate, I feared the worst…David Fincher delivered the best product we could have hoped to get.  $83 million domestically and so far only $29 million in the foreign box office, which is quite lower than expected and likely hasn’t yet overcome the budget and P&A for this film.  I hope it gets greenlit for the two follow-ups as Fincher has a very solid grasp on this world.

7. Moneyball – 5 of 5 Horns
This is not a baseball movie, nor really even a sports movie at all.  Written in part by Aaron Sorkin, one my favorite writers, this film is a character driven, dialogue driven film.  Everything about the film is cleaver and not in a pretentious way.  Brad Pitt is true acting talent and he hits way more than he misses.  Jonah Hill is excellent in this film and I think his performance is something just short of perfection, potentially even an Oscar nomination waiting in the wings for him, as well as Pitt.  The world of profession baseball is interesting enough on its own, but when you throw in the drama that this film offers, you get a movie that is fun to watch from start to finish.  I was exceptionally impressed with the young Kerris Dorsey, who played Billy Beane’s daughter, Casey.  She is cute and has a unique voice that really compelled you further to feel for Billy in the various dilemma’s that he faces through this film.  Young Kerris sings a song to Billy in the course of the movie and when Billy listens to it, pensively looking out his window, it really his a great emotional chord.

6. My Week With Marilyn – 4.5 of 5 Horns
This is film is excellent…the acting, direction, writing, the overall look..everything. Michelle Williams was haunting in her portrayal as the Blond Bombshell  In her first moment on screen, I saw Michelle Williams in a Marilyn Monroe costume  By the end, all I saw was Marilyn Monroe.  The beautiful thing about this film is that it is a true story, written by Colin Clark, an ambitious young man with dreams of a career in film.  His family was privileged and he had been promised a job on the set of Sir Laurence Olivier’s (Kenneth Branaugh) next picture. When he showed up for a job, it was his persistence that finally paid off.  He comes to meet and know Ms. Monroe and something of a complicated relationship ensues.  How I liked this film reminded me much of the way that I liked An Education from 2009.  This is a great story and the film as a whole was executed perfectly.

5. The Help – 5 of 5 Horns
I absolutely loved this film.  It hit my top five of the year the moment I exited the theater.  This is really one of the few times that I unequivocally put a film into the mandatory viewing category. The power of film is the ability to learn from the mistakes of our past. Such an opportunity exists here, providing biting insight to the hardships faced by African Americans in the racially divided south during a truly hateful time in World history.  Mistakes…such an understatement for the topic at hand. This movie demonstrates, albeit it watered down a bit for the masses, the brutality and hate of the era. But really, the brutality demonstrated here is not so much about muscle, as it was the complete demoralization of a group of people.  As we celebrate the recent passing of the law allowing same sex marriages in the State of New York, it brings to mind that while we have made great strides for the equality of all people in America, we still have some tough roads to travel.  I hope The Help rocks the Awards season, not because it matters, but because it will help give even more publicity to a film that everyone should see.

4. Win Win – 5 of 5 Horns
Win Win is an indie drama built around the spine of a sports film, loaded with comedic wit. I have never been a huge fan of Greco-Roman wrestling…never wrestled, rarely watched it in the rare instance it made it to the TV. Of course there was Vision Quest in the 1980’s, but otherwise, when it came to wrestling, I was always more of a WWF guy. As far as the wrestling goes in this film, you will want more. The film is 100% a success as a comedic drama…but only built around the spine of a sports film, it doesn’t give you that “hoisted on the shoulders and carried through town” ending so many sports films deliver.  The hunger that you have for a stronger ending to the wrestling story will be satiated by the resolution of the drama.  Thomas McCarthy is an amazing filmmaker (see also: The Visitor, The Station Agent)…you may know him as better as Dr. Bob from Meet the Parents.  Yep, that guy.  This movie was amazing and Paul Giamatti shines (per normal).  A great supporting cast included Amy Ryan and Bobby Cannavale. This is the first movie for Alex Shaffer, who is Kyle, really a co-starring role to Giamatti’s Mike.  The filmmakers wanted a fresh face for this film and boy did they get it.  Shaffer has a dry, deadpan delivery that absolutely just works.  Also, he’s a former championship high school wrestler.  He probably still would be, except for a broken L-5 vertebrae.  When asked in an interview if he will be able to keep wrestling, he said no, but probably will anyway.  His minimalistic approach works with double success as when he does get excited about things in the movie, it has that much more impact.

3. The Adjustment Bureau – 5 of 5 Horns
The Adjustment Bureau was made with the highest of production values and the city of New York is a palpable character in this film.  Matt Damon is stellar (as always) and Emily Blunt is clearly established as one of Hollywood’s finest young actresses.  Don’t agree with me?  Watch this movie.  Yes, it is high concept and it is full of rich characters with roots in the oldest of human literature.  It is based on the short story “Adjustment Team” by a legend in Science Fiction, Phillip K. Dick.  I have heard complaints that this is more a romance than a sci-fi, but I disagree.  There is such thing as a romantic sci-fi.  The sci-fi is overt.  The romance is overt.  The message has been decried by some as corny, but I loved it.  Hence it sitting comfortably here…in the top 3.

2. Hugo – 5 of 5 Horns
This is a movie lovers film.  Not just because Scorsese was helming, but because when it gets moving, it actually becomes centered around a true classic period in cinema and the earliest of days in film as a form of entertainment.  This all is built around this young boy, Hugo Cabret…a watchmaker’s son, orphaned and sent to live with his Uncle, a drunk who seems to have found a purpose keeping the clocks at the train station running on time.  But in the opening moments of the film, you learn that the Uncle has absconded and it is in fact Hugo, the orphan, running things at the station.  Young Hugo has refined the art of the steal, lifting occasionally, toys from the station toymaker, Ben Kingsley, playing Papa Georges, grandfather in name to a young lady, Isabelle (Chloe Moretz), who befriends Hugo and wants to share an adventure with him.

The adventure that unfolds is epic and the direction the story takes is wonderful.  I doubted Martin Scorsese could deliver from the trailers I saw for this.  I assumed it was some dream vanity project and it would amount to nothing short of an epic failure.  I was dead wrong.  This is rated PG and unfortunately it opened in week 2 of Twilight and against The Muppets and Arthur Christmas over Thanksgiving weekend.  It barely held its own in the box office and has made only $53 million domestically and $16 million in the foreign market.  This is a true shame.  Please give this movie a chance…see it as soon as possibly and if it happens to be playing right now in 3-D in a theater near you, go.  Go now.  You are a genius, Mr. Scorsese.

1. Warrior – 5 of 5 Horns
I gave this film a proper write-up after I saw it.  You can read that here:

Reel Rhino Review: WARRIOR – It’s That Effing Good

This may not be the best movie of the year, but it certainly was my favorite.  This was the best time I’ve had in the theater since The Dark Knight, and probably in my all-time favorite 5 trips to the theater.  This was due in part to the impassioned crowd that I watched it with.  Their excitement was my excitement, and we shared an experience, to that I have no doubt.

This film made only $13.6 million domestically…boo.  Doing the quick math, this means using an average ticket price of $10, only about 1.36 million people saw this movie.  Compare that to you “average” $100 million dollar box office blockbuster…not an uncommon feat to reach these days…$100 mil = approximately 10 million butts in seats.  Far too few people saw this movie!  To the film’s defense, the largest volume of screens it played on at any time was 1883 screens, but all factors aside, with $30 million in the production budget, it’s easy to think that this movie (so far) has lost money.

This film will make up some ground over time, and while it saddens me that it performed so poorly, I have a sense of joy that I was able to see it on the big screen.

Tom Hardy and Joel Edgerton give heartfelt performances as estranged brothers, and Nick Nolte is as good as ever as their recovered alcoholic father.  This is a drama first and foremost..if these guys didn’t bring their A-game acting chops, this film would have failed….well I mean more than it actually did!

Let me leave you with this:

IMDB: 8.3/10 with 47,120 votes
Rotten Tomatoes: 82% fresh with 165 critic reviews counted
Rotten Tomatoes: 93% fresh with 29,421 user votes counted
Metacritic: 71 of 100 rated score based on 31 critic reviews

I loved this movie…and so did most people who actually saw it!  Please give it a chance and go in with an open mind.  This movie touched me in the same way that Rocky did the first time I saw it…and let me be clear, I am talking about the Oscar winning film, Rocky…not the watered down sequels that were fun to watch but a little light on palpable drama.  Warrior is that good, I promise!!

It was a fun year and I’m glad to have shared it with you!!  I’ll see you through 2012 for more adventures at the movies!  In the next week or so, I plan on doing a “what to watch in 2012” post…baited breath, folks, I know you’ll be waiting!

Until later,
Reel Rhino

Comments (2)

Tags: , , , , ,

Review: TOWER HEIST and REEL RHINO is an ASS?

Posted on 05 November 2011 by Reel Rhino

So I’ll cut to the “I’m an Ass” part first.  I did go and see Tower Heist this evening.  I would like to think that for around 150 movies at the theater a year, that I am a sensitive movie goer.

I hate when folks bring loud and inappropriate aged kids to the theater.

I hate when cell phones aren’t set to silent and when these phones do ring, the person who owns it can’t seem to sort out:  –a) where the phone is, and   –b) how to stop the phone from ringing in the darkened environment of the theater.

Even more so, I hate so very much, when people actually answer the phones in the theater.  Are you kidding me…you are really answering the phone…

“Hello”
“I’m at the movies…”
“I’ll call you back later…”
“Yeah, okay, I’ll meet you there…”
“Tell Bob I said hi…”
“Okay….okay…okay….bye.”

Cardinal rule…you don’t answer your phone at the theater.  I am on call, 24/7/365.  Usually 5 or 6 times a year, I will have a movie interrupted by a call out.  When my phone “rings,” at the theater, it is set to silent.  I get up, press answer, and let the person on the other end of the phone listen to the movie as I walk out of the theater.

Bottom line, I hate inappropriate disruptions at the theater.

I am a considerate movie goer, but apparently today, I stepped over one man’s line.

When the credits were approximately 3/4 of the way through, I pulled out to update the Media Stinger page.  If you don’t use it yet, be sure to check out MEDIA STINGER to see what movies have scenes during or after the credits.  I use it for every flick I go see, to see if it will benefit me to stay until the lights come on.  I contribute when I can, and I got credit for getting the Stinger submission for Tower Heist, but not without a price.

When I pulled out my phone, and this was the first time it was out since the trailers ended, within seconds, a man sitting two seats to my right stood up, tried to tough guy tower over me, and said “THANKS FOR HAVING YOUR PHONE OUT DURING THE MOVIE!”  Caps indicate his tone, and I was quite frankly, flabbergasted.

My quick retort was: “I didn’t!” to which he said “IT IS OUT RIGHT NOW!”

I should have just uttered: “NUHHH UHHHHHH, POPPY PANTS!,” but what I actually said was that I thought he was a real joy to be around and told him to get out of my face.  Now I have been losing weight, but at 335, I am still quite formidable.  He left immediately and no blood was shed or blows were thrown.  I was angry, but I still have self-restraint.

My statement regarding this interaction is this: for my agitation at others during a movie, I consider the trailers and the credits fair game for cell phone use, especially when there are no stingers at hand.

I was sorry that this jackalope was upset and had he handled it differently, I would have apologized in kind.  But I stand by my take on credits rolling cell phone usage.

What say you Reel Rhinoites?  What are your boundaries for theater etiquette?  What is your worst disturbance at the theater story?

Mine relates to an infant child crying through the duration of Drag Me To Hell.  That screaming infant helped me on my own personal descent into hell…what theater behavior has got your goat…let me know in the comments or via e-mail, and if I get a good enough response, I’ll do a follow up post.

Now, on to the show…

TOWER HEIST 3.5 of 5 Horns
This was a passable entry into the adventure heist comedy genre.  I will say that if this was an R-rate flick (it was PG-13), that Eddie Murphy would officially be back.  For what he could spout in this milder environment, he was channelling very well, a similar vibe he had in Trading Places, the 1983 classic Eddie Murphy/Dan Aykroyd flick.  If you’ve never seen it, stop reading right now and go do it.  I mean it!

Okay, welcome back.

Brett Ratner specializes in movies that seem to avoid risk, giving us much of the same old stuff, rather than anything resembling new ideas.  I don’t say that to be mean, but I find his films so middle of the road.  Not since 1998, when he gave us the original Rush Hour, did he really impress me as a director…Rush Hour the first was well paced and funny as hell.

Even Red Dragon (2002) and X-Men: The Last Stand (2006) were based on previous properties and in both instances, these missed the bar set forth by their predecessors.

There really is an all-star cast here: Ben Stiller, Eddie Murphy, Alan Alda, Michael Pena, Tea Leoni, Judd Hirsch, Matthew Broderick, Casey Affleck, and Gabourey Sibide.  For as great as that sounds, they all deliver fair performances, but Murphy and Sibide stand above the others, by far.

From IMDB: When a group of hard working guys find out they’ve fallen victim to a wealthy business man’s (Alda)  Ponzi scheme, they conspire to rob his high-rise residence.

Alda is a penthouse pimp who is adored by the staff at his high end apartment tower.  The bend to his every whim until they find out he is being charged with securities fraud, an investigation being led by Tea Leoni’s free spirited FBI Agent.

Our hero is Stiller’s character, the apartment manager who is fired after taking out some aggression on Alda when he finds out they have been swindled.  He was canned along with Casey Affleck and Pena, and the three of them hatch a plan to get it all back, but they need help.

Broderick is evicted from the apartment, a former market expert, and he is brought in for his expertise.

Murphy is a low level criminal who Stiller knows as a neighbor, and he is brought in as the expert in all things criminal.

Round out the gang with Sibide, a disgruntled maid who is about to be deported for an expired work Visa, and the gangs all here.

The vehicle for the MacGuffin (the cash) in this movie is a bit interesting, but I won’t spoil it here.  The fact that the backdrop for this film is an apartment along the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade route, is also interesting.

Really that is a good way to describe this movie: interesting.

It is an interesting movie with a great cast, but the movie is never brought to the sum of its parts.  It is like Oceans 14, without Clooney or Pitt, and not nearly as good as any of Soderbergh’s offerings.  I enjoyed seeing this, especially due to the resurgence of the Eddie Murphy I remember from my youth…here’s hoping we can get this guy into an R-rated flick soon.  If they reboot Beverly Hills Cop with a rumored sequel, if it is PG-13, I will protest.

No more Meet Dave, no more Imagine That, no more Norbit…get back to the good stuff, baby.  And for the record, I am a Pluto Nash apologist…yep, like it a lot.  Get over it folks…it was the last time Randy Quaid was funny and overall, it is much more fun than anyone give it credit for.

Until later, have a Very Harold and Kumar Christmas…maybe that’s up next for me…maybe Anonymous.  I haven’t decided yet.  Who knows what the weekend will hold…just hopefully it doesn’t involve any more verbal lashings by codgery old men.  A boy can dream…

Reel Rhino

Comments (1)

Tags: , ,

Mini Reviews: Puss in Boots and Margin Call

Posted on 03 November 2011 by Reel Rhino

Yep, mini reviews…that’s all I have for you…

I gave the leaves in my yard round two this week, so I am a little tuckered out.  I would like to get this out there…I think that Adam Sandler’s Jack and Jill will be THE atrocity of 2011.

There, I said it…I think they should reconsider the title, and change it to Battlefield Earth II.  What is he thinking?  Sandler can really be funny, sweet, dramatic, and more, but what in the hell is going on here?

This could officially be his first steps down Eddie Murphy Road…which hopefully Eddie, an insanely talented guy, is about to pull himself out of.  Tower Heist has had some early reviews that sound not so bad.  We’ll see.  Who knows, Eddie’s Nutty Professor was a blazing success, perhaps Jack and Jill will…nope, I can’t even say it, let alone write it…

This poster is awful…it looks like a parody poster.  The thing is, its rated PG.  I am guessing this is being drummed out as a family movie.  I think it will flounder.

Puss in Boots – 3.5 of 5 Horns
This is the not so necessary spin-off  to the Shrek flicks, that perhaps wore out their welcome, by at least one film.  I guess Shrek Forever After was funny, but really their writers do a good job of channeling the zeitgeist of popular culture and film.  The Shrek flicks always also seemed to work in some hidden, yet very adult humor, without risking they not as savvy kiddies getting the jokes.

That is really what Puss in Boots got right…some well placed jokes, some decent action, and a really good looking presentation of the IMAX version.  But, what in the hell are the prices like in Denver…$17.00 for a matinee showing at the United Artists downtown theater?!?

That’s a little too rich for my blood, but they do have a great auditorium for their IMAX screen.  Too much dough, though, too much dough.

Puss in Boots is an enjoyable, mindless day at the theater.  Antonio Banderas has charm, Selma Hayek is tone perfect as Kitty Softpaws….she is one bad kitty.  Zach Galifianakis plays Humpty Dumpty…he is as talented in voice as he is in person, but I think it is mainly because you can picture him making silly faces as he delivers each and every well enunciated line.

A passable effort…okay, an enjoyable one, but not mind-blowing and I stand by what I always say…I prefer originality to the same old thing, and this is sadly, the some more of the same old thing.

Margin Call – 4 of 5 Horns
A timely film, albeit this being a fictional tale, depicting in spirit of the fall of the Lehman Brothers investment firm.  I saw this on On-Demand, which is nice, but curious…why not the big rant from the theater owners here?

The cast alone warrants checking this one out…Kevin Spacey, Jeremy Irons, Zachary Quinto, Stanley Tucci, Paul Bettany, Simon Baker, and more…it plays out with something like a Glengary Glen Ross, just not exactly as engaging, and with a couple of gals thrown in, like Mary McDonnell and Demi Moore.

This is an enjoyable film as a procedural on the dark side of finance.  It’s relevance makes it more exciting, and generally speaking, being primarily a talkie, there are some decent thrills and tension throughout.

Again, for a shorty review, I say see it, but save the big screen for big screen type flicks.  Check it out On-Demand, and enjoy a flick and send the message…if you build it, we will watch.

Until later, take care…we’ll see how Tower Heist holds up.  I’ll be back soon with more to report.
Reel Rhino

Comments (2)

Tags: , , , ,

Nov. 24th, 2011, A Date That Will Live In Infamy

Posted on 09 October 2011 by Reel Rhino

On Wednesday, October 5th, 2011, Universal Pictures made a monumental announcement that would have a serious impact on the future of film and film going.

Tower Heist, a film by Brett Ratner, starring Ben Stiller and Eddie Murphy, hits theaters on the 4th of November.  A very short 3 weeks later, Tower Heist will be released on Video On Demand.

Whoa.  It may not sound like much, but this is serious business.

Up until now, the only pre-theater release films set loose on VOD have been small, indie flicks; or films that had very low box office expectations.

I love the concept of pre-theater release and same-day release for films that are released in very limited engagements.  I had the chance to see Tucker and Dale vs. Evil as a result…George Romero’s latest installment in the Dead series…Hobo With a Shotgun…and even another look at Kevin Smith’s Red State, before its release on DVD.

This concept is a good thing…but will it work for a major studio release?

Better yet, will it work when the price tag on catching Tower Heist at home is…

Wait for it…

$59.99

Okay, at first glance, that sounds absolutely effing crazy.  When I told The Kid in the Helmet, his kneejerk reaction was nothing short of poetry:

“Blow Me.”

Gotta love The Kid!

Okay, so again, everyone calm down.  Yes, it sounds like an insane price.  But think about it for a minute.  Certainly, there is no way that this will become the standard means for people to see movies, or at least anytime in the foreseeable future.  Yes, the “rich” will probably choose this option at their leisure because they can…damn corporate fat cats!

But, for the average movie going joes and jills, 60 beans is quite a financial commitment for a single movie…or is it?

Let me use myself as an example for a moment:
Two movie tickets: $20.00 at AMC Barrywoods
#1 Combo: $13.75
Bottle of Water: $5.00
Pack of Twizlers: $6.00

and here’s the kicker…

Babysitter for Reel Rhino Jr.: $40.00

Do the math…it works out!

This model is not for your average afternoon solo flight to the theater, BUT…this completely works for:

Date night
Bunch of friends catching a flick and drinking beers night
Your kid’s sleepover
Your kid’s birthday party
A movie party theme night

You get the idea.

My initial reaction was quite like yours.  I actually think this is a pretty lame way to give this a shot….three weeks later??!?

Ideally, if I am going to blow a load of cash on a flick like this, I am paying for the privilege of seeing it at home when I want, from the first moment it is available.  But NATO (National Association of Theater Owners) is pretty unhappy at the prospect of the movie dollars shifting from their theaters to the cozy confines of everyone’s living room and the high end home theater systems that have become so prevalent.  In fact, Cinemark is already talking about boycotting Tower Heist altogether.

Times are changing and we are living in the digital age.  I mean we are a far cry from the sedimentary society that was presented to us in WALL-E, but…times are a-changin’.

My fear is a real one, that rising prices for flicks and food at the theater will continue upwards as theaters try to react to this perceived encroachment on their livelihood.  But what are they really doing for us?

I applaud the distributors looking at new means for getting the art to the audience.  This is happening, just as it happened to the digitization of distribution of photographs; the transition of music from CD’s to .mp3’s; and the shift from the postal service and phone calls to e-mail and Skype.

Times are a-changin’…

So I say this…this idea is not a bad one.  Necessity is the mother of all invention, and perhaps this is the penis showing game the theaters need to get their ass in gear (anybody catch that obscure reference to cult-favorite flick, WAITING?).

Here is what I want to see:

Reasonable prices for popcorn, soda, and candy.  $7.75 for $0.22 worth of popcorn…hey, NATO, renegotiate the box office split with the studios…silently agree to spend a few years with lower profit margins…do something…do anything…but make this happen.  I think if you do, you will be pleasantly surprised at how willing people are to actually purchase MORE of your product.  Take an example from Kansas City’s Sprint Center…they operate Quiktrip stores within the arena and sell re-donkulous amount of product to the more than eager arena-goers.  Doesn’t it make you mad the lengths that people go to sneaking outside food into the theater?  Take some damn action.

Advanced theater going venues (ex. AMC’s ETX) that don’t have a huge upcharge attached to them…get over it, you upgraded your equipment.  Absorb the costs a bit more and you won’t have empty theaters for the upsold shows!

Show quality prints of older movies.  Not just these digital re-releases that have been making the rounds, but more classic prints and short-time runs of the movies that have impacted cinema for so long.  You know Gone With The Wind is the most successful film of all time (inflation adjusted) and you can get it dirt cheap basically anywhere you look.  But I would pay a premium price to come and see this classic film on the big screen just once.  There is money to be made out there, you just have to be willing to work for it.

Show special screenings of current films for roasts and live-tweet showings.  Both of these types of viewings would encourage second viewings.  Can you imagine if you got filmmakers and the film’s stars involved?  Getting to watch a movie with a live-tweeted running commentary by those involved with the film?  Rian Johnson recorded an .mp3 commentary shortly after The Brother’s Bloom was released so that you could watch the film with his commentary.  Brilliant.

Really, my thesis here is this:  You can’t stop progress….you can adapt…or die.

I am glad that Universal is trying this out.  It isn’t an insane idea and for smaller films, it has already taken hold as a successful means for generating viewership for movies many people may not have had access to.

Film is an art form…isn’t it sad that corporations and alliances are keeping this art from being released however the hell anyone associated with its creation wants it to be released.

I love going to the movies…that will never change.  I love midnight screenings…that will never change.  But I want the big movie houses and distribution companies alike to remember that they are working for me.  I am the one holding the dollars they are fighting for…fight for me dammit!

I for one am looking forward to the right situation that presents itself so I want to drop $60 and catch one of these flicks at home.  I am glad that I have another option, no matter how ridiculous the price seems on the face of things.

When silent pictures became talkies….when B&W flicks added color…when 2-D added depth…all of these changes have lead to forecasts of DOOM.

The world kept spinning and movies kept playing.  This is the next evolution.  Just remember, everyone who is fighting this out, are working for you.  We need to demand better service, more options, and maybe even some decisions on green lighting flicks not based on a business model, but rather on the prospect of a movie being good.

If you build it, they will come.

Comments (1)

Tags: , , , , ,

Warrior – One helluva film!

Posted on 12 September 2011 by Reel Rhino

While the tag team is more commonly associated with the WWE than MMA, the Catfish is working the corner with the Reel Rhino and the outcome is victory.  I love having the Cat swing by, he is the poet laureate of the Reel Rhino site and I appreciate it, no matter how much I bust his balls outside the posts, he sure can write.

Warrior.

As a former D-1 athlete, the word always carries some resonance with me.  I have known some true warriors.  I feel as though I may have made some warrior-like moves in my day, but my flashes of brilliance were fleeting and I was fortunate enough to play besides some of the greatest athletes of the 1990’s.

I am a Maryland Terrapin…oh, how the floodgates of hatred may open now that I have shown my colors, but I am proud of my roots.  I played football in the mid-90’s and had the good fortune to run along side the likes of Jermaine Lewis, Lamont Jordan, Eric Barton, Eric Hicks, John Feugill, and Kris Jenkins.

We must protect this house?  Yep, I had the honor of running with Under Armour founder and all around nice guy, Kevin Plank.

I married my college sweetheart, who when the timing is right, will remind that she is owner of three national championship rings, that help her win just about any argument…well she really doesn’t need the rings, but they do help add the exclamation point.

Joe Smith and Steve Francis ran the hardwood under the tutelage of the great Gary Williams in my years with the Terps.

I made many great friends and relish those days with a great warmth in that remembrance.  I know many great warriors.

My brother is a US Marine.  I once said that he was a Marine, and I was quickly corrected that once a Marine, always a Marine.  I can’t deny that the error was mine.  I’d be lying if I said that my past, my pride for my brother, the urge to leave the theater and sign up for some rec league hoops…all of this, made this week’s review strike an exceptionally deep nerve in me when watching.

Warrior.

I make a bold statement in this: Warrior has earned itself a place in my all-time top 10 films.

I loved this movie.  I loved it.

I was reduced to tears on several occasions and I had truly visceral reactions to this film.

I agreed with the guy sitting two rows behind me when he leaped to his feet in one of the culminating moments of this film.

I felt the pain of the woman who was sobbing on her companions arm, notably moved, as I walked out of the theater.

I felt the moments of this movie like sledgehammers banging gongs inches from my head.

The only thing I don’t understand, is how the take for this flick was only 5.2 million, coming in a paltry 3rd place this weekend.

My plea is this…see this movie.  It is an emotional roller coast that works on every level.

Yes, I have a history that leaves me exceptionally susceptible to the sports flick genre.  But I think the messages in this film transcend a love of competition.

The running time is long at 2 hrs 20 mins, but the additional time building this world makes every moment in the back half all the more powerful.

Maybe this film needed bigger stars to succeed, but the truth is, for the lesser known folks in this movie, this will be a star making turn.  Nick Nolte was the biggest name, but Tom Hardy is a stone cold beast.  I enjoyed him in Inception, last year’s Reel Rhino #1 flick of the year, and I am looking forward to Hardy as the Bat-breaking Bane in next year’s Batman-trilogy finale.

This is an entirely 5 of 5 Horn movie for me, and I hope it will be for you, as well.

Gavin O’Connor has woven together a masterpiece, serving as both writer and director.  He gave us magic in 2004 with Miracle and in truth, he may have been born to deliver us inspiration sports stories.  For my money, he is two for two.

Enough drivel from a sentimental softee like me…what does the Catfish say?

(SPOILER ALERT: Granted, the trailer gave away some of the key issues that in the film, don’t arise until the end of the movie, the Cat got spoiler-rific in his review.  If you want to go in cold, save the back half of this post for after your viewing of the film).

I am admittedly a fan of combat sports.  I was exposed to boxing predominately on ESPN as a youngster.  Things began evolving and I found myself not only rooting for favorite boxers my dad and grandfather liked, but kickboxing began getting more attention.  Kansas City native Bob Thunder Thurman took kickboxing to another level, which caught my attention and fed my imagination.

I participated in Tae Kwon Do as a pre-teen.  I was pretty good at it as I recall.  I’m not sure why I stopped taking it, but I think it just got to be a bit too expensive for Mom and Dad.  In 1999, the empire crumbled all at once for me.  My friends and I split up the cost of the Evander Holyfield-Lennox Lewis heavyweight unification pay-per-view fight.  I was rooting for Evander, but even to a biased observer it was painfully obvious Evander was outmatched that night.  There was not a knockout or fight stoppage.  The decision went to the judges.  The fight was ridiculously determined to be a draw.  I had heard all the talk of corruption in boxing, but I had never personally experienced anything quite like this travesty.  That evening I vowed never to spend another dime on a boxing pay-per-view.  As a matter of fact, to this day I have not watched as much as a single round of a boxing match.

A wee bit behind the UFC curve due to the persistent sour taste in my mouth, I began taking in my first real experience with MMA (mixed martial arts).  I really liked what I was seeing, but I proceeded with caution.  As far as I knew every combat outfit was corrupt.  I recall watching the Rich Franklin and Ken Shamrock fight in 2005.  Ken Shamrock was destroyed in short order, but I was a bit hesitant to believe this fight wasn’t rigged.  Shamrock had slipped at one point, but he never even attempted to stand back up.  That was the beginning of the end for him as Franklin obliterated him on the ground.  It seemed I had been duped again.  I wanted to get to the bottom of this fiasco.

I talked to a guy who really wasn’t well versed in the UFC, but he planted the idea that some guys would rather fight on the ground.  I began doing my research.  I went backwards and began renting the old UFC videos.  Fighters using different styles of martial arts were competing in this sport, but at least in the early days, ground fighting was the Achilles heel of most competitors.  Royce Gracie, the undersized Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu artists, took down men twice his size by fighting on the ground and submitting them with joint locks and choke holds.  He revolutionized the fight game.  This was the great awakening I needed to get me back as a fan of combat sports.

When I first saw the advertisements for Warrior I had lukewarm interest at best.  There are just too many B rated fighting movies starring actual MMA fighters that are absolutely painful to watch.  It wasn’t until I watched the trailer for this movie that I had a bit more intrigue.  Sometimes it takes a slap in the face to realize the difference between a big budget production and the B rated turds I was accustomed to.  Since watching Inception I have been willing to give any actor in that movie the benefit of the doubt (unadulterated blind bias on my part).  Since Tom Hardy plays a starring role in Warrior I felt obligated to give the film a chance.

The big test was convincing my wife to agree to go with me.  Our 11th anniversary was Friday 09/09/11, but we spent the evening at the school Fun Fair.  With a bit of coaxing I convinced my mom to babysit Saturday so we could celebrate a day late and a few dollars short from the fair.  Dinner and a movie is the standard fare.  Agreeing on a movie, however, is something different altogether.  She mentioned Contagion, but I had zero desire to see that.  I am a fan of Robin Cook who happened to write a book called Contagion.  Reel Rhino informed me this movie was unrelated to his book.  For whatever reason that turned me off.

If you have ever read this blog then you know Reel Rhino likes just about every movie made (no exaggeration).  I convinced my wife to watch the Warrior trailer.  The storyline in those few minutes turned her in my direction.  She warmed up to it and begrudgingly agreed to see the film.  At dinner as I perused some Facebook posts.  Unknowingly, Reel Rhino with an uncharacteristically negative review of the movie Contagion made our movie-going decision final as my wife completely capitulated.  We were going to see Warrior.

Warrior had it’s share of fighting, but make no mistake, it was story driven.  It was a layering of the consequential separate lives of a dysfunctional family spawned by an alcoholic father.  The characters are sympathetic and their background stories were riveting, grabbing your attention and holding you through the end.  Yes, there is nothing new under the sun, but I was quite intrigued as their individual stories unfolded throughout the movie on paths that would all eventually intersect.  Brendan Conlon (Joel Edgerton) is a former fighter who is now a likable high school physics teacher trying to raise a family and keep his head above water.  Tommy Conlon (Tom Hardy) is a former high school wrestler and Iraq war veteran heading down the same unfortunate road his father, Paddy Conlon (Nick Nolte), paved for him.  He is a brooding man with so much pent up anger that is boils over anytime he’s put remotely close to conflict.  As patriarch of the family, Paddy Conlon finally has finally come to grips with his demons and actually has remorse for the damage he caused in his family’s life.

Brendan and Tommy’s resentment for their father shaped their lives.  Brendan always wanted to where Tommy was in Paddy’s eyes, but never thought he could live up to that standard.  When their mother and Paddy split up Tommy stuck to the plan and left town with his mother while Brendan stayed behind because he had found the love of his life, his eventual wife, Tess Conlon (Jennifer Morrison).  You know me, having a beautiful actress to watch throughout a movie gets high points in my book.  She gets mighty high points.   Tommy resents his brother for staying behind.  He and Brendan resent their father for being a drunk.  Tommy is awash in self loathing as he returned from the war as the only surviving member of a squadron that was killed by friendly fire.  Brendan wants a relationship with his brother again.  These side stories collide in an MMA gran prix event called Sparta.  It’s a single elimination tournament with a $5 million dollar purse for the winner.  This is the incentive Brendan needs to keep his home out of foreclosure.  This is the incentive Tommy needs to aid the family of a fallen soldier he promised to support.  This movie takes you on an emotional ride as you are pulled into rooting for both brothers as they fight for their respective causes.  As the brothers clash in an unlikely finals match-up the tension is at its height.

It is undeniably an unforgettable and exciting finish.  When the rubber hits the road this film is about human emotions, not really about fighting.  It illustrates the importance of a child’s environment.  Children are a blank slate who are formed and shaped by their experiences.  You take two sons who have similar experiences.  One lives with rage and resentment and the other tries to live his life exactly opposite of how he was raised.  All any child wants is their mother and father to love and respect each other and give them the attention and love all children deserve and need.  Oh, and when humans act like the flawed beings we are then forgiveness is the only way we get back on the path of healing. I thoroughly enjoyed this movie.  A casual moviegoer would be grabbed by the storyline.  I think even fight fans will buy into most of the fighting scenes.  I doubt a referee would allow someone to fight on with an obvious shoulder injury that prevents him from using his entire arm, but guys fight on with broken arms and hands as long as the referee is unaware.

Although the final lines of the climax were a bit cheesy, it was touching nonetheless.  Don’t forget to enjoy the bit of comic relief from Principal Zito (Kevin Dunn) who perfected this acting niche in the Transformers films.

4.5 out of 5 Catfish Whiskers

Until next time, take care…
Reel Rhino

Comments (1)

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Carriers over Contagion, Who’d a Thunk It?

Posted on 10 September 2011 by Reel Rhino

Thursday night, I decided that to generate some momentum for Steven Soderbergh’s Contagion, I would check out Carriers.  Ever since I dropped the DVD portion of my Netflix, I have been watching flicks I may have otherwise missed (and some that I would have rather missed!).  I think this whole price change has worked out well for me, except that I had primarily used my DVD picks for flicks I couldn’t find anywhere else.  One of those being The Great Waldo Pepper, for example, which I first read about in William Goldman’s book, and had a hankering to see.  On the other hand, I did have the BluRay of The 400 Blows for 15 months, and didn’t actually watch it…but lest I digress.

CARRIERS: 3.5 Horns of 5
Carriers stars Captain Kirk err…Chris Pine, that is, Piper Perabo, and Lou Taylor Pucci and is both written and directed by Spainish brothers David and Alex Pastor.

This is certainly a different kind of apocalyptic pandemic movie than Contagion, but as you will learn below, that is a good thing.  I have spoke to several people who have started to watch it but said they turned it off because it was too scary.  Folks, there are the infected who may look like zombies, but they are just sick people.  It has some tense and scary moments, but really is more of a psychological thriller than a horror movie.

The flick is very much a road movie at its core.  A pair of brothers, one of their girlfriends, and another female friend are on the road, headed for a beach sanctuary that they believe will be disease-free and their last option for them to hide out and avoid those who have fallen ill.  The film starts with much of the chaos past and basically shows us just the ravaged world from the perspective of the main characters.

Yes, there are post-apocalyptic staples like the “carefree scene” in which they cruise around a golf course with no rules and no limits, blasting golf balls into building windows around the perimeter of the course.  There are radio transmissions broadcasting information about supposed safe-havens, and even a mad doctor, who is still trying to sort things out, when clearly we are way past Robitussin.

There are a lot of cliches for this type of film, but in the vein of Zombieland (minus the comedy), this film focuses on this small little band of folks trying to survive, and for that, I think it succeeds.

I give this flick 3.5 Horns of 5, and while it isn’t a mind blowing outing, it is worth your time and sadly, so much more so than my next review…

CONTAGION: 2 of 5 Horns
I really don’t have much to say here, but maybe this…

1. This movie stars a lot of really famous people.
2. This movie is competently shot and looks really pretty, especially in IMAX.
3. This movie offers nothing new to the genre of disease/plague/apocalyptic flicks, and for my tastes, plays out in extremely mundane and boring form.

I expected a decent flick from Soderbergh and I hope this lackluster outing doesn’t mean that we can expect similar from Haywire.  Hopefully the stellar cast there and the introduction to a mainstream Gina Carano will be enough.  Soderbergh has toyed with the idea of retiring, maybe he has lost his passion?

There are several remotely intertwining story lines.  I mean for all intents and purposes, everyone in this film is in the intertwining plot as this movie is placing all who live at odds with this new and mysterious disease. At the heart of this all is a bird-flu like disease that has an initial R-0 (R-naught) of 2, meaning many, many people will die.  In the beginning of the film, early projections are around 1% of the world, for those that will meet their maker from this sickness.  Things grow more dire as time goes on…

And for something so dire, one would think that the stakes are pretty high.  My complaint?  You never feel it.  There is no real sense of dread; there are very few moments of even slightly elevated tension.  Everything happens so calmly and controlled, it feels at times you are watching a documentary on something you could really care less about.

That is not to say that there aren’t some decent story threads in the flick, it is just that the main thread, the Lawrence Fishburn/Kate Winslet CDC line, the main line that is, falls completely flat.

The Matt Damon everyman who loses his wife and tries to protect his daughter from the disease has some decent moments of drama and light tension.  The Marion Cotillard World Health Organizer investigator abroad has potential, but there is too little screen time with too little to hold on to, keeping you from feeling invested in her situation.  Maybe the most potential was in the Jude Law, rogue-blogger plot line, but given the CDC-centric core and everything else I mentioned, it too gets so diluted that there is too little effect on the movie as a whole.

Kate Winslet, Marion Cotillard, and Jude Law all have extremely dramatic moments, but, this film is a textbook example of how the whole of a film can make or break a performance.  What are supposed to be poignant moments play out as check boxes, ticked as the director shot them.  I actually think the strongest performances were the smaller bits put forth by John Hawkes, Jennifer Ehle, and Enrico Colantoni.

It all falls flat due to a spineless center that does little to draw you in and make you feel any kind of emotion for these characters.  Everything feels plain and in the end, you have watched a movie that looks nice, but leaves you devoid of any emotional ties.  This film went too broad, and while a lesser quality of production, Carriers held together as a more watchable movie, because it gave you one set of characters to worry about.  Contagion is an ensemble piece that very poorly gives you any reason to care for anybody in the troupe, or really even the separate parts on their own.

In my opinion, wait to watch this one at home…there is too little to make the trip to the theater a worthwhile movie buck spent.

Sorry I don’t have a more thorough diagnosis on this right now, but I have been falling asleep too quickly when writing lately, and given how boring and plain this movie was, I fear if I keep writing, I may get stuck on the ZZZzzzzzzzz key.

If you want to watch an entertaining film with a similar concept, check out Wolfgang Peterson’s 1995 Outbreak.  It was 1 part comedy, 4 parts frightening medical thriller reality, 4 parts government conspiracy, 1 part camp.  It has just as strong a pedigree and it is actually an exciting movie to watch.  Maybe Contagion set out to be a serious version of the same type, but sadly, Soderbergh failed.

Until later, take care!  Hopefully I will be checking out Warrior tomorrow.  I am curious to see how the violence plays out with a PG-13 rating.  Early reviews are positive and I hope to erase the memory of my lackluster Friday at the theater…

Reel Rhino

Comments (0)

Tags: , , , ,

The Help

Posted on 17 August 2011 by Reel Rhino

I ended up sending roving reporter, Dani California, into the fray to see The Help. While my intentions were to get her review posted over the weekend, well, you know what they say about the best intentions being fraught with disappointment.

The Reel Rhiness herself is planning a post as well, discussing the differences between the book and big screen versions of The Help, but with the school year in full swing, that post may be delayed a few days. She is also trying to recover emotionally from the roller coaster of highs and lows that this film provided. I agree with that…and there’s nothing worse than seeing a big man sobbing into his popcorn.

I absolutely loved this film.

It has rocketed triumphantly into my top 5 of the year thus far, and this is really one of the few times that I unequivocally put a film into the mandatory viewing category. One of the powers of film is the ability to learn from the mistakes of our past. Such an opportunity exists here, providing biting insight to the hardships faced by African Americans in the racially divided south during one of the most hateful times in World history.

Mistakes…such an understatement for the topic at hand. This movie demonstrates, albeit it watered down a bit for the masses, the brutality and hate of the era. But really, the brutality demonstrated here is not so much about muscle, as it was the complete demoralization of a group of people.

As we celebrate the recent passing of the law allowing same sex marriages in the State of New York, it brings to mind that while we have made great strides for the equality of all people in America, we still have some tough roads to travel.

Think of how many times in a day you hear something spoken, something posted online, some photo that brings to mind racism, sexism, discrimination, objectification, prejudice, or some other form of one group of people oppressing another.

I am a part time Catholic, but even in my scant appearances in the great cathedrals of the world, I have picked up this little nugget…do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

Pretty true, regardless of who, what, when, and where. The why? Well the why is simple…because its the right thing to do.

The Preacher in The Help gave a sermon about doing what’s right regardless of the possible struggles you may be making for yourself. This becomes the driving force of the stories that are the heart of this film. These maids did what was right, knowing the dangers it created in their lives and the lives of their family.

They did what was right. This film is courage in action….a measure of resolve at the testing point.

Go see The Help. 5 of 5 Horns from The Reel Rhino…

And now for Dani Californa…

My Friday night movie of choice was The Help. Having already seen 30 minutes or Less and being extremely disappointed, I needed something that would live up to my expectations and The Help definitely did just that.

For those that haven’t heard anything about this movie and what it is about, this is what IMDB says:

“Set in Mississippi during the 1960’s, Skeeter (Stone) is a southern society girl who returns from college determined to become a writer, but turns her friends’ lives — and a Mississippi town — upside down when she decides to interview the black women who have spent their lives taking care of prominent southern families.”

Emma Stone is the leading lady followed by Viola Davis and Bryce Dallas Howard. I adore Emma Stone, and I love the fact that she is playing a more serious role aside from her previous films like Superbad, Zombieland, and The House Bunny. Viola Davis shows you so much love and emotion that at times the movie brought tears to my eyes. She did such a fantastic job portraying a house maid of the era, I don’t think anyone wouldn’t feel the pain that she endured.

Bryce Dallas Howard is another amazing actress that performs so well, you just want to smack her throughout the entire movie. At least that’s how I felt about her. Its a love-hate relationship with her in this movie…you love the performance, you hate the part. Octavia Spencer plays another of the main maid roles in the movie…Millie. She adds humor to the film that is a welcome relief from much of the weighty topics. But for her humor, she also has moments of great pain. Jessica Chastain plays the character of Celia Foote, who the women of Mississippi do not like much for reasons the movie will explain. She is such a sweet person, a little much to handle at times, but she means well. I honestly enjoyed every moment she was on screen.

I enjoyed this movie greatly. From the laughs to the tears, I wouldn’t change anything. I am not up to date on my history, nor am I old enough to have experienced what it was like back then, but I am glad that for the most part, things are not that way any more. I give The Help 5 out of 5 Chili Peppers.

Until next time 🙂 Dani California

Thanks Dani…I agree about everything you said. Especially about Emma Stone…she is adorable. She is this year’s It-Girl and I am glad she is having her moment. This will likely be the first of many years into the future that she is so heavily applauded for her on-screen efforts.

Also, Tate Taylor is a director to watch.  He has a longer resume as an actor than as a director and it seems his only other feature, Pretty Ugly People, sounds interesting.

Also, Sissy Spacek was brilliant in The Help.  She became the focus of every scene in which she was on screen.  It’s hard to believe that only 35 years ago, she played that telekinetically charged young woman who wrought havoc on her high school prom (Carrie).  While she is only 62, she felt older in Spirit, and perfectly wielded Southern charm.

Until later, do what’s right in the face of possible pain…if we don’t learn from our past, we are doomed to repeat it.

Reel Rhino

Comments (7)

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

The Change Up, Rise of the Planet of the Apes, FWB

Posted on 06 August 2011 by Reel Rhino

The Change Up: 4.5 Horns
Rise of the Planet of the Apes: 4 Horns
Friends with Benefits: 4 Horns

Doubleheader Friday was in effect today and it was a hell of a day at sea!

This week also saw the first set photo of Selena Kyle in full Catwoman gear, that’s Anne Hathoway, one of my personal favorites.  Chris Nolan is my #1 favorite director of the moment and next year’s The Dark Knight Rises is by far tied for my most anticipated flick of 2012…that being tied with THE AVENGERS.

A quick note of R.I.P. ~ Bubba Smith, former All-Pro defensive player and of course, Hightower, from the hallowed cannon of Police Academy, died this past week.  I point it out, out of respect, and because Police Academy remains one of my favorite series from my youth.  Of course, that reverence stands for Police Academy’s 1 through 4…5 wasn’t bad, but from there, things got a little bit ridiculous.  I won’t be surprised when this franchise is revived, and when it is, hopefully that will be in the form of a proper adult comedy, as was the original.

Speaking of adult comedy….

THE CHANGE UP
The Change Up is a standard body-swap flick, flipped 100% on its head.  Not so much in the mechanics of it, but in the naughty bits.  The Change Up is a super duper ADULT comedy, full of eff’s, skin, and loads of adult situations.

I mean it…this comedy, given to us by writers Jon Lucas and Scott Moore…it is almost enough to make me forgive them for THE HANGOVER 2, their offering from earlier this summer.

Jason Bateman has become a staple of successful comedy, but when comparing this to his other recent “adult comedy” offering ~ Horrible Bosses ~ The Change Up is the no-holds barred WINNER.

Of course, I may be preferential as my hetero-man-crush Ryan Reynolds is front and center in this one.  Or it could be due to the appearance of the smokin’ hot Olivia Wilde, making a great appearance two weeks in a row, also burning up the screen last week in Cowboys and Aliens.  Catfish…this one is for you!

It could be the wonderful use of THUNDERSTRUCK in the trailer that hooked me…a great song for trailers and pre-game pump up rituals.

Maybe it was Leslie Mann, who basically has me at hello in whatever she appears, not only because she is a beautiful woman, but also because she is one of the funniest actors in film today.  She has delivery that is second to none and she can play straight and serious as well as improv hilarious scenes.

While I often out and out review films, provide a synopsis, then give my opinion…I shall deviate here.  I can only say this: see this movie.

This film got me in a number of ways hitting emotional highs and lows as well as it did its comedic peaks.  It had a slew of bust a gut moments and steady supply of sustained laughs and get this…this movie actually brought me to tears twice.

The depth of the emotion of the themes was striking and the messages were overt, but camouflaged successfully through most of the picture by the comedy.  See it, you’ll feel it.

I give The Change Up 4.5 of 5 Horns and I say this…this is the champion of the summer adult comedies.  This is the second summer in the last 10 years that Director David Dobkin holds that title, with the last time being 2005 with The Wedding Crashers.  If he hits a gem once every 6 years, I’ll take it, but I have a feeling that this may open some more doors for him much sooner than that.  Then again, he followed Crashers with Fred Claus the following year.  Let’s hope his next film doesn’t repeat that pattern.

RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES
I’ve seen the original and I’ve seen the cluster of a remake from Tim Burton, one of his few misfires, and while I am not fully versed in Apes lore, I was very excited to see this film.

Actually, I wasn’t crazy about this until I saw the most recent trailer.  You see the first trailers focused on the rise part of the film, which is actually a rather short portion of the film.

The crux of this effort looks at the parental relationships.  First, with James Franco, playing Will Rodman, dealing with his father, portrayed wonderfully by John Lithgow.  And throughout the whole film, we see the parental bond that forms between Will and the chimp that would become Caesar.

It’s kind of funny that one of the hallmarks of the intelligence of Caesar is his ability to use sign language, giving him nearly full fluency in human speak.  I say funny, because of the documentary in theaters now, Project Nim, which actually looks at a real life situation where an ape was domesticated (as much as that is possible) and taught to sign.  I haven’t yet, but I plan on catching it ASAP.

As much as this is a dramatic tale in a fantastical world, that world is tamed by Will’s goal in life…find a cure for Alzheimer’s disease and to save his father’s life.  It is apparent from the trailer and from the opening scenes of the film, that Rodman is successful to an extent, in his endeavors.  The plot moves forward as we learn the troubles that are married to this perceived breakthrough in medical technology.

Andy Serkis is the actor behind the motion-capture genius that fuels Caesar’s on-screen performance.  You know him also as Gollum and King-Kong, his physical prowess is undeniable.

To that end, all of the animal effects are believable, given the suspension of disbelief.  I think the main thing that is distorted in watching the Apes on-screen is the speed with which they move.  Given it is an action movie, it is okay, but the Apes fighting and running all seemed to happen much faster and with more fluidity that would be in real life…but I guess since I have never seen Apes running or fighting, that is pure speculation on my part.

This film will likely be plenty to reinvigorate this franchise into a reboot-sequel, and I for one am excited to see where this story goes and how it all fits together with the Planet of the Apes world that has come before it, minus the Tim Burton entry, that is.

4 of 5 Horns for Rise of the Planet of the Apes.  It looks like it did well over a million at the Thursday midnight show, and given The Change Up’s R-rating, it will likely take the weekend, with Harry Potter and Captain America being too far into their releases to pose too much of a threat.  That, coupled with the middling reviews for Cowboys and Aliens (please note…I loved it!), and the Apes will likely take the box-office crown, in addition to beating down a goodly number of human along the way.  I think this flick will be fueled to a small extent with the Potter-contingency coming out to see Tom Felton’s first post-Draco Malfoy role.  His bit as a sadistic ape-handler has much of the same cruel way of being he perfected as Malfoy.

Friends With Benefits
FWB was getting some harsh criticism, myself included (before I saw it) for actually being an iteration of NO STRINGS ATTACHED 2: THE DIRTY DIRTY.

I will say at the outset, I am a far bigger Mila Kunis fan than Natalie Portman, in the looks department, so that had me slightly jazzed for this go of things.  Let me qualify by saying that I have a hard time seeing Portman as a sexual being, given my affinity for some of her child roles, most notably, Leon and Beautiful Girls.  But, I certainly didn’t stomp out of the theater in the big Kunis-Portman BLACK SWAN scene.  Also, speaking of sexuality, we did get a supposed Kunis butt-shot in this flick, but apparently this week, she has come out and said that a body double walked that walk in her place.

What am I saying…caught up talking about the ladies…I’m starting to sound like CATFISH!

Justin Timberlake.

So a part of me was bred to hate him…I mean, he was in a boy band!  Public opinion swayed a bit with his go in The Social Network, and I too enjoyed that performance, but was it a one hit wonder?

While JT doesn’t knock it out of the park here, he certainly out performs his previous effort this summer in the milquetoast Bad Teacher.  He certainly moved straight past the over the clothes business of Bad Teacher into some full on naughty business.

FWB’s dialogue, dirty talk included, blew right past No Strings Attached.  I mean I liked No Strings Attached…it had my kind of comic sensibilities, especially being an Ivan Reitman joint, but FWB is clearly the more enjoyable entry into this year’s casual sex line-up.

What made this more enjoyable was a bit of what I felt with the last two reviews…heart.  JT’s pops in FWB, a fantastic performance by Richard Jenkins, is suffering from Alzheimer’s.  Perhaps, like in Apes, it is the disease of the moment to tug at the heartstrings of filmgoers, but dammit if it didn’t resonate.

50/50 with Seth Rogen and Joseph Gordan-Levitt will put to the test the ability to laugh while seeing the struggles of those suffering from debilitating illness with their “cancer comedy” hitting theaters this fall.  But I for one say that why should we be afraid to mix laughs with sorrows?  It more closely mirrors real life, and for me, it worked here.

Also, I mentioned how I liked No Strings Attached in part because of the styling of Ivan Reitman…well I think the director here, Will Glick, is an up and comer in a big way.  first off, he gave us last year’s Easy A, starring my favorite and yours, Emma Stone.  But perhaps in the file of Reel Rhino’s Hidden Gems…FIRED UP, the cheer camp comedy from 2009.  F.U. and Easy A both have tinges of darker, adult comedies that is a bit more overt in this, the first R-rated flick from Glick.  It all adds up to a big bucket of see this flick.

4 of 5 Horns for Friends With Benefits.  As an added bonus, in the early moments of the flick, we even get a little bit of Emma Stone…and that’s never a bad thing.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

A final note….

IN TIME: Set for release October 28th, this film seems to be extremely original in nature, and also happens to star two of the peeps mentioned above in Olivia Wilde and Justin Timberlake as an unlikely mother and son pair.  Watch the trailer and you’ll understand…also, Amanda Seyfried is cute and worked as the lead in Mamma Mia, but she faltered in genre picks Red Riding Hood and Jennifer’s Body.  Perhaps the blame for those rests with Catherine Hardwicke and Diablo Cody, but I am hoping she can channel something great and make this flick shine.  Cillian Murphy is the lead baddie in this, and it looks fantastic.  Andrew Niccol gave us the visionary sci-fi flick Gattaca, which holds a very special place in my CSI-heart, so I know that this film was created with a competent eye at the helm.  Hey, check out the trailer and judge for yourself…

IN TIME TRAILER

Until later, take care…
Reel Rhino

Comments (2)

Tags: , , , , , ,

Crazy, Stupid, Love.

Posted on 31 July 2011 by Reel Rhino

Crazy, Stupid, Love.  I guess by the book, this is just another ensemble rom-com, but who wrote that book anyway!

I ventured out this evening for a double-duty date night…my wife and I were celebrating both our 6th anniversary and her 33rd birthday.  She’s not yet old enough that she can get mad at me for saying her age, but maybe the next few years we will still be celebrating her 33rd as well.  We’ll see what she thinks after reading this.

We had a great dinner at McCormick and Schmick’s…a great bit of fine dining at really decent prices.  Tracie, as it so happens, worked for Andrew McCormick, the younger McCormick in the namesake lineage to that restaurant empire.  City Tavern was the bar and San Francisco was the city.  That was, of course, before I rescued her and brought her to the great metropolitan area of Kansas City.  Maybe that last part is debatable within the household, but hey, I think it’s pretty great here, minus the ridiculous heat.

This was the second year in a row we made dinner and movie of her birthday.  Hey, I won’t ever fight it, you know me.  This is also the second year in a row we made our choice in flick a Julianne Moore film, with last year’s being The Kids Are Alright.  And even more suspect, this is the second year in a row that we caught a Julianne Moore film in which the major conflict is kicked into play when Julianne Moore’s character is unfaithful to her partner.

Crazy, Stupid, Love. begins with an introduction to a long married couple, Steve Carell’s Cal  and Moore’s Emily.  We learn through the film that they have been married for many years, in fact going back to age 15, this pair seemingly linked for life.  Soulmate is a term thrown around quite loosely in this one…not since Buying the Cow has it been as such…which, by the way, is a much more fun film than you would ever guess…Ryan Reynolds resembling the Berg that made him so loveable on that old Two Guys a Girl and a Pizza Place…also a great series…but lest I digress.

In the early moments of the film, Emily declares that she wants a divorce and soon after, that she has been unfaithful with a co-worker.

Cal sets out at first to drink and sulk his misery in the open court of a local bar.  When a local has grown tired of hearing cry into his vodka-cranberries, that local beckons him to his table and offers to help him reform himself to something resembling a desirable mate.

Said barfly is none other than Ryan Gosling’s Jacob.  Gosling is quite elusive as an actor.  He is acclaimed in most everything that he appears, and according to my wife, he is also strikingly handsome.  That’s okay, I think Emma Stone is quite adorable my darn self.  Ralph Garman and I can duke it out over her, if it comes down to it. (See also, SIR’s Hollywood Babble On)

Gosling makes it his mission to hip-ify Cal and he is quite successful in his mission.

The Cal tale is but one of three story arcs that intertwine.  You have Cal and his post-divorce misery.  You have Jacob and his man-whoring, a practice that comes to a screeching halt when he falls head over heels for one Emma Stone, playing a young lawyer come lately named Hannah.  And finally, you have young Robbie (Jonah Bobo), the 13 year son to Cal and Emily.  Young Robbie is in love you see, with the family babysitter, Jessica (Analeigh Tipton).

Oh how crazy and stupid love can be…hey, that would be a great name for a movie.

So the first hour of this flick was slower than I would have liked.  That said, it was still enjoyable, but just slow.  The last half was redemption for this slow burn.  This was a romantic comedy, of the darker variety, but there were some fantastic laugh out loud moments in that back half of the film.  One sequence in particular literally had us laughing to tears.

This particular sequence kicks off the third act and it was actually quite cliché, but that is what made it so wonderful.  It wasn’t a single cliché, in fact, it was about ten clichés in a matter of minutes.  One alone would have been predictable, but this scene in particular was a series of so many predictable possibilities, it was truly and literally hilarious.

This film is darker than your average rom-com and if not for the stellar cast, it may have had too depressing of overtones.  That cast also included Marisa Tomei, John Carroll Lynch, Josh Groban, and Kevin Bacon.  Bacon plays David Lindhagen, the antagonist of sorts, who is the co-worker with who Emily shared her marital indiscretion.  Bacon has played foil in Super, X-Men: First Class, and now this, and he has been lined up as the baddie in the big screen adaptation of the genre comic R.I.P.D.

We may hear the words David Lindhagen uttered on screen by Carell more than any other combination of words in the film.  Carell is born into a man obsessed and really, he and his son embody some of the obsessive behaviors that are born of a broken heart.  Hey, I let my lady get away from me once.  Is it obsessive to burn 40 mix-CD’s and mail them to her…that was her birthday in 2002.  Fortunately for me, things turned around and in addition to celebrating this birthday, as I said, it was our anniversary as well.

From the get-go, I was feeling this flick out as a 3 horn go, but as that second half unfolded, it became entrenched as a very solid 4 of 5 horn effort.  Great work to co-directors Glenn Ficarra and John Requa and a really fun story written by Dan Fogelman.

Thanks for a fun night gang and Happy Birthday/Happy Anniverasry deah.

Love.
Reel Rhino

Comments (0)

Tags: , , , , , ,

Cowboys and Aliens

Posted on 31 July 2011 by Reel Rhino

Howdy folks!  Glad I can check in again so soon…maybe it’s the manly man in me, not wanting the Winnie the Pooh post to sit on the home page for too long…or maybe it’s the old softy in me, bringing it up again so soon.  That was a damn fine flick and whether for the entertainment of your kiddies or your own trip down memory lane…check it out!

What’s opening this weekend?  It’s a doozy of a wide-release weekend, with three biggies..

Cowboys and Aliens; The Smurfs; and Crazy, Stupid, Love.  I plan on hitting another post in the next day or so with a review of Crazy, Stupid, Love and Friends With Benefits.  Stay tuned for that…

…for now, for the sake of the Reel Rhino loyal, I braved an early departure from work to catch the latest from Jon Favreau, Cowboys and Aliens.

I know that as of this moment, C&A is sitting at a sub-par 44% at Rotten Tomatoes.  Let me tell you, that 44% is bunk.

This movie, bringing together Indiana Jones and James Bond, delivers on every level!  It is a unique adventure that successfully mixes the western and sci-fi genres in a way that perhaps only Favreau could pull off.  This is the man who humanized Iron Man…a property that in its first run, was adored by the masses, regardless of one’s preference for comic book fare.

Cowboys and Aliens tells the tale of a washed up gold mining town in the New Mexico Territory, whose sole successful businessman is the life blood of the town, but also a ruthless son-of-a-B.  That meanie is played by iconic Harrison Ford and goes by the name of Col. Woodrow Dolarhyde.  While he is seemingly ruthless, his son is a flat out ass, Percy Dolarhyde, played masterfully by the very talented Paul Dano.  PS…Harrison Ford is pure gold.  I’d watch him read the classifieds.  He channels a bit of Indy’s flair for adventure and a bit of Hans mean bastard with a heart of gold.  It is a memorable character for his resume, without question.

Enter our hero…we meet him left for dead in the desert, some bizarre bracelet on his wrist, his memory gone.  While he sits there and ponders his fate, three men on horseback approach.  We learn quite quickly how dangerous this memory-striped stranger may be.  The three men, as a sidenote, are portrayed by Buck, Matthew, and Taylor Cooper playing Wes, Luke, and Mose Claiborne…the Coopers, with patriarch Buck who is an old old school western character actor and his sons, two of the most talented stuntmen in Hollywood.  Favreau set out to authenticate this film as a Western first by including this trio, and it worked.

The stranger, Jake Lonergan, is an Americanized Daniel Craig who sports an accent that successfully sheds his British roots, but who keeps all the best aspects of his badass James Bond.

Lonergan makes waves quickly putting Percy, the town bully, square in his place.  Percy ends up in the clink for accidentally shooting a Deputy, and Lonergan ends up in there with him, once the Sheriff recognizes him from a wanted poster hanging at his office.  The problem for Lonergan, he has no idea what he is wanted for, as his memory of anything except the ability to kick ass, is gone.

Papa Dolarhyde comes to town to free his son and to take possession of Lonergan, who apparently among his past indiscretions, has wronged Dolarhyde in the form of robbing his stage coach of a load of gold.

All of this unfolds in the first 10 minutes, so worry not about this ruining your experience.  It is about at this point, that things take a turn for the weird.  A battery of alien aircraft approach the town and attack, killing some, taking others as prisoners.  It is also about this time that we learn more about that bracelet that old Lonergan is wearing (see also, the trailer for this flick).

Many citizens go missing and we are faced with the first challenge of the film.  Can Col. Dolarhyde work with Lonergan, putting their differences aside to save the townsfolk, and maybe find out something about what happened to him to cause his memory loss?

I will end my plot synopsis here, other than mentioning that the romantic interest in this film is wonderfully portrayed by Olivia Wilde…she is very much making a name for herself…Tron: Legacy, this, and the upcoming In Time, a sharp looking sci-fi flick that has a great premise.  And she is in talks to portray Linda Lovelace, in a biopic on the woman who would star in Deep Throat.  Wilde has piercing eyes, and so does Craig, for that matter.  When these two talk, its hard not to fall in love with the pair.  On the extreme close-ups, it almost feels like they are peering into your soul.

Favreau successfully sets this up as a Westerm, then integrates aspects of an alien invasion flick in a manner that seems believable and seemless.  We would be far more understanding of a real alien invasion these days, but in Western times, it is foreign beyond all understanding.

This film integrates Civil War time battle techniques, the tough life that existed in a true era of Cowboys and Indians, and the struggles that existed in frontier mining towns.  Supplement all of this with a great supporting cast with Keith Carradine, Sam Rockwell, and Clancy Brown and you have a real winner.

Favreau has honed his chops in CGI fare in the best set of films of the moment, laying a great foundation for The Avengers.  His work on Iron Man put him in a great place to film these daylight action scenes and let me tell you, these sequences are excellent.

I have heard the argument that the tone of this film shifts to wildly.  Yes, there are ups and downs, but that is what you get in a well-told story.  Ups and downs.  Maybe the problem is that we aren’t accustomed to successful high-concept, genre delivery.  Favreau delivers.

And much like I applauded the originality of Zach Snyder’s Sucker Punch, I think that the originality of this high concept film is worthy of note.  The film is an adaptation of a graphic novel created by Scott Mitchell Rosenberg and written by Fred Van Lente and Andrew Foley and was very much championed by Favreau from the get-go.

The screenplay was written by a casserole of talent in Damon Lindelof, Alex Kurtzman, Roberto Orci, Mark Fergus, and Hawk Ostby.  Lindehof has some lineage in fantasy fair, having worked as a showrunner on Lost for sometime, and Kurtzman and Orci have given us a healthy dose of fantasy in the last few years, having created Fringe, whittled their teeth on Lost, and given us work in both the Transformers and Star Trek worlds.  With this kind of crew behind this film, I am not surprised I liked it so much.

For a fun day at the cinema, this may be the film for you…4 of 5 Horns from The Reel Rhino.

So what does Catfish, newly minted guest of The Reel Rhino, say about C&A?  Let’s see…

Admittedly I had genuine reservations about seeing Cowboys & Aliens.  This was truly a gamble.  This movie seemed to have the potential to entertain, but it had at least an equal opportunity of getting the Catfish “Chuck Barris gong”.  The intrigue, however, was enough to get me to the theater.

Daniel Craig was the main attraction in this movie.  I really like this guy in character.  He first caught my attention as the 007 of little words in Casino Royale.  Some say it’s blasphemy, but he quickly became my favorite James Bond.  He was cast perfectly for this role as alien fighting cowboy, Jake Lonergan.  He has an aura that does most of his speaking as his lines were just as scarce in this film as they were in his role as 007.  To his credit, I thought he pulled off an American accent quite well.  Then again, he didn’t have that many opportunities to butcher it.

The movie begins with Jake Lonergan waking up in the desert with basically no memory, a wound on his side, and an odd piece of metal on his wrist.  As things progress we see Jake piecing the puzzle together with the aid of the comely Ella Swenson played by real life hottie, Olivia Wilde.  We find that aliens have invaded Earth.  They plunder a valuable natural resource and steal humans for their devious studies.  Human enemies unite to fight a common foe – the aliens hell bent on conquering Earth.

For the most part I enjoyed this movie.  I liked Daniel Craig’s screen presence.  Colonel Dolarhyde (don’t call him Colonel) played by Harrison Ford was a good addition to the story.  The aliens were believable.  Noah Ringer’s role as of young Emmett Taggart wasn’t God-awful like his role as the Last Airbender last year.  Maybe with age and experience one’s acting skills improve.  There were, however, too many hackneyed scenes and story lines for my liking.  It was a bit convenient that multiple deaths were preceded by those final words of wisdom just before expiring in another’s supportive arms.  The tough S.O.B. is really a man with a heart of gold.  If this were a spoof I would have found those things amusing, but unless I missed something I don’t believe this was meant as a comedic piece.  Ella’s true nature didn’t sit well with me either, but then again, this was a movie about cowboys and aliens.

This film does have action and a storyline that should keep you interested.  The novelty alone is reason enough to roll the dice for a couple of hours of fun entertainment.

3 out of 5 Catfish Whiskers

Two comments, Catfish…

1)      Do you really need to prove you’re a super duper hetero male by talking about how hot each of the lead chickies are in these flicks we enjoy, and

2)      Do you really blame Noah Ringer for the God awful performance in The Last Airbender?  As a noted M. Night Shyamalan apologist, I put the blame for that trainwreck solely on his shoulders.

Oh, by the way, Olivia Wilde is smokin’ hot!  But Danial Craig is also one handsome chap…see Catfish, I can write for the ladies and the fellas…watch and learn, son…watch and learn.

Until later, happy movie going to all, and to all a good night…

Reel Rhino

Comments (1)

Tags: , , ,

Preview Review: Captain America; Must See: BUCK

Posted on 22 July 2011 by Reel Rhino

I stand here tonight for two reasons:

1)    To share with you my take on an amazing documentary that I had the chance to see this week, and,

2)    To introduce you to Catfish, a guest making his first appearances on the Reel Rhino column.

Catfish is currently the object of my utmost jealousy…he is here is give us his take on CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE FIRST AVENGER.  Yep, he caught the KC Star Wednesday night sneak preview.  Catfish, you rascal, you had the chance to take Reel Rhino, but nooooooo…you had to take your wife!  Thanks for nothin’, punk!  Kidding of course, at least you were gracious enough to give me some content.

BUCK – 5 of 5 Horns

A short, but very sweet, documentary by Cindy Meehl, introduces us to Buck Brannaman.  Who, you may ask, is Buck Brannaman?  He is the real life Horse Whisperer and every minute of this film is compelling.

In 1998, Robert Redford called on Buck as a technical advisor on his film, The Horse Whisperer.  Redford, who appears throughout the current doc at hand, talks endearingly on the effect Buck had on the ultimate tone of his film.  Buck became more of an inspiration, than an advisor.

Buck’s involvement in The Horse Whisperer is only a fraction of this film, and the majority looks at Buck’s life on the road, holding training sessions for those interested in becoming “horsemen,” or as we know them, cowboys and cowgirls.

The film looks at Buck’s early years, which were clearly formative on his philosophies on life.  He spent his early years as a trick roper in a show overseen by his father and performed with his brother.

Buck is a master at a technique known as “natural horsemanship,” and to see him in action is nothing short of breathtaking.  Buck is funny, sweet, and when necessary, firm, in his demeanor and teaching methods.  He always sets out to teach folks about their lives with their horses…he normally ends up teaching them about themselves.

See this movie…it is short and every minute leaves a mark.  Buck is touching, sweet, entertaining, and for a layperson like me in a field like cowboying, educational.

Buck’s lessons are as much about learning about yourself, as they are about learning your horse.  This is a must see and I give it a 5 horn, Reel Rhino salute.

I am not a horseman, not by a long shot…but given the chance, I will go see Buck in action.  This film is 100% an example of the power of film.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

And now for his moment in the sun, I give you CATFISH.  Presented here, formatted to fit your screen, with limited commercial interruptions.  Catfish, you better not let me down!

CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE FIRST AVENGER – 4 of 5 Horns (so says the Catfish)

I recently discovered the wonderful world of the pre-release movie screening lottery, so to speak.  It only took me 40 years to find this unburied treasure, but at least I didn’t go to my grave without experiencing early arrivals, long lines, rabid fans, and uncomfortable heat (and odors) given off by all the bodies stuffed in narrow lines hoping for a seat in the theater (first come first serve as overbooking ensures a full house…right) just for a free sneak peak at a major motion picture.

Now each time I see a chance to win advanced screening passes I enter my name, cross my fingers, and pray much like I did when I unsuccessfully tried to win the full size Pac Man video game from MTV, circa 1983.  I’m pretty sure it was rigged because I even put my own money in the church donation basket (ah, the naivety of a 12 year old).  To date, I’m batting .500 with screening passes with my only true disappointment being a Thor swing and a miss.

I was on vacation and had since accepted that I whiffed on another chance to see a movie I had been looking forward to when the e-mail arrived with the magic message that I had been selected to attend the advanced screening of Captain America: The First Avenger.  Superheroes have a special place in my heart.  I loved reading comic books when I was a kid.  I looked forward to our trips to Wal-Mart so I could pick out a fresh new comic book that can only be described as my childhood eye candy.  Comic books were an integral part of my childhood, which I can equate with happiness and contentment (all that changes when we grow up; that’s why most of us men never want to grow up and therefore never do).

Movie night, July 20th, finally arrived.  The line at the theater was long even though my wife and I showed up an hour early. I did hope and trust there would be room for us.  We did indeed get seats, and I wasn’t about to move because seats were more valuable than gold to this crowd.  Both of us were stuffed from our four course meal that we ate just prior to arriving at the theater.  I was satisfied on two counts.  First, my wife was quite pleased with her dinner (the cliché holds true: happy wife, happy life).  Secondly, having full bellies meant she wouldn’t be asking for overpriced garbage food at the concession stand, which would require me to leave my coveted seat.  We were seated for about five minutes when my wife expressed her growing itch for popcorn and a Diet Coke.  I suppose you know that I (not she) ended up waiting in line and purchasing popcorn and a Diet Coke (happy wife, happy life).

After all the hoopla in the theatre ended and my wife’s request fulfilled, I was ready for this baby to start.  A bonus in this whole affair was the fact the screening was in 3D.  As the initial Paramount credit screen flashed I knew something was awry.  I rhetorically asked my wife if the theater knew this was supposed to be 3D.  The movie began and the green and pink muddled picture elicited a head shake from me and my wife’s inquisitions as to why she couldn’t see anything.  The yells from the theater grew to a near chant of “fix the movie”.  The best line I heard was, “So this is the free version?”  Like clockwork I began questioning why God hated me so much.  Thankfully on this night He granted me mercy.  They fixed the movie within a few minutes and we were off and running.

First, I would not spend extra money to watch it in 3D.  There simply was very little in the movie that was enhanced by 3D technology.  I was concerned if Captain America could be translated from comics to the big screen and not come off as absolutely ridiculous.  Well, they did a great job with this movie.  I do, however, find it ironic that Captain America, who was created during wartime as an iconic patriotic hero who inspired national pride, was finally brought to the big screen in 2011 while we’re at the height of political correctness.  This is the same 2011 where the title of this very movie had to be modified for overseas release to “The First Avenger”, dropping “Captain America” from the title.  No more preaching.

Captain America was entertaining.  The casting was excellent (men who admire beautiful women will not be let down by Hayley Atwell as Peggy Carter…smoking hot).   Tommy Lee Jones nearly stole the show with his performance.  The well placed humor worked amazingly well.  Stan Lee’s obligatory cameo was spot on with his one liner straight out of Roadhouse.  They even poked fun at the comic book-esque Captain America costume.  He got a bit of a makeover to make his character a bit more believable.

The movie was very much story driven as opposed to mindless action.  It was about hope, honor, integrity, heart, loyalty, persistence, perseverance, love, patriotism, leadership, and the eventual triumph of good over evil.  Bringing you back to WWII and watching the story unfold reminds us of the historical significance of that wartime era.  I’m not even going to mention that taboo concept of American exceptionalism.  Watch this movie and ask yourself if Steve Rogers resides in you.  Don’t be like one moviegoer who said it was the stupidest effing movie she’d ever seen.  For the love of God, let yourself be inspired.

When this movie ended my wife said this was her favorite superhero movie of the season.  She said, “The message was so good” (happy wife, happy life).  I hit a gold mine.  Dinner was good, movie was good, and that always bodes well for me at home.

4 out of 5 Fish Whiskers

Catfish

(Reel Rhino note…first off, great review Catfish.  Secondly, there are only three countries dropping the title Captain America…Russia, Ukraine, and South Korea.  No surprise there, and I do give Marvel studios credit, from a business perspective.  Their goal is to sell tickets.  Giving countries the option, will help them put more foreign butts in the seats.  Also, China only shows 20 non-Chinese films a year…Cap didn’t make the cut, and I don’t think we can hold that against them.  It is regardless in China, anyone will likely be able to pick up the bootleg on the streets for a few bucks, in a few days.)

I’ll be back soon with my own two cents on the film, and perhaps Friends with Benefits as well, aka NO STRINGS ATTACHED 2.  And I am thinking double feature Sunday: Conan O’Brian Can’t Stop and Trollhunter, if I’m lucky.

Until later, take care!

Reel Rhino

Comments (4)

Tags: , , ,

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part II

Posted on 15 July 2011 by Reel Rhino

I saw the double feature, Harry Potter 7, Parts I & II, last night at AMC and I was going to wait until I had more time to write this post, but…I couldn’t wait.   I wanted to make sure that I spread this word…if you are going to see this movie, go this weekend!  I promise you that if you at all remotely like the Harry Potter phenomenon, seeing this flick in a crowded theater with a bunch of HP fans, will enhance the moviegoing experience.

I very much enjoyed Part II and I put it at just behind Part I in terms of quality and enjoyment.  With the year so young, I’ll be surprised if this entry cracks my top 10 of 2011 like Part I did last year.  This was a fitting and very well-made end to this series and the crowd was thoroughly entertained.  This film continued with the high production values and high entertainment value of all of the previous films.  It was fun growing up with these kids.  While I will may write more on this later, let me say that if you can, see this movie:

  • as mentioned above, with many HP fans.
  • in a big, loud, 3-D theater…it is worth it.
  • only after seeing all other movies in the HP series, it will be worth it.

Reel Rhino Rating: 4.5 of 5 HORNS

Enjoy your Friday and I’ll see you around the weekend!

RR

P.S. Didn’t hit the midnight show?  Here’s a taste of what you missed…

Comments (1)

Tags: , , ,

2011 Part 1, The Best (So Far) at the Movies

Posted on 10 July 2011 by Reel Rhino

(REEL RHINO NOTE: There is far too little feedback on these posts…do one of two things for me PLEASE…in the comments section, post your top 3 films of 2011 OR post your #1 favorite movie of the year so far.  Thanks!!)

So I got called into work yesterday, keeping me from two things:

1)    Enjoying a nice family Saturday evening .

2)    Seeing a movie.

Since I didn’t get to anything yesterday, Larry Crown stands as the last flick I have reviewed…that is unacceptable Rhino!

I do plan on seeing Horrible Bosses today and The Zookeeper at some point.  Yes, Zookeeper has been getting raked over the coals, but I am a sucker for Kevin James in anything and since I am quite easy to entertain, I think I will like it.  Paul Blart: Mall Cop is an exceptionally fun and family friendly movie.  Not that I intentionally shoot for family friendly, but I think that they pulled off a great movie without getting remotely dirty, and that is something to be applauded.

Given that we are at the halfway point through the year, I have decided to offer my humble vision of the best of 2011 (so far).  I will give you my top 5 and some honorable mentions and I will drop in some of my original reviews from the site.  I give you:

2011: The Cinema World According to Reel Rhino
So this list is basically just my five and four and a half horn reviews.  I hope this might help guide your rentals as these find their way to On-Demand and home video options, and for two of them, at least, a chance to see them in the theater when they are released later this year.  These are excerpts from my posts earlier this year…hit the link for the full write-up on each.

1. The Adjustment Bureau (5 of 5 Horns) — http://reelrhino.blogspot.com/2011/04/win-win-reel-rhino-review.html

“I absolutely loved this movie!  It was made with the highest of production values and the city of New York is a palpable character in this film.  Matt Damon is stellar (as always) and Emily Blunt is clearly established as one of Hollywood’s finest young actresses.  Don’t agree with me?  Go see this movie.  Yes, it is high concept and it is full of rich characters with roots in the oldest of human literature.  It is based on the short story “Adjustment Team” by a legend in Science Fiction, Phillip K. Dick.  I have heard complaints that this is more a romance than a sci-fi, but I disagree.  There is such thing as a romantic sci-fi…it is this film.”

2. Win Win (5 of 5 Horns) — http://reelrhino.blogspot.com/2011/04/win-win-reel-rhino-review.html

“Win Win is an indie drama built around the spine of a sports film, loaded with comedic wit. I have never been a huge fan of Greco-Roman wrestling.  Of course there was Vision Quest in the 1980’s, but otherwise, when it came to wrestling, I was always more of a WWF guy.  As far as the wrestling goes in this film, you will want more.  The hunger that you have for a stronger ending to the wrestling story will be satiated by the resolution of the drama.”

3. Super 8 (5 of 5 Horns) — http://reelrhino.blogspot.com/2011/06/three-reviews-x-men-super-8-and.html

“I’d like to say J.J. is a wunderkind director, but he’s been in the biz for over 20 years. In the 1980’s Abrams helped Steven Spielberg repair home movies he had made as a kid. That’s a pretty good break for a young wannabe filmmaker and this was just the first of Abrams/Spielberg interactions that would ultimately lead to this project. While Abrams calls Spielberg the Grandfather of Super 8; Spielberg maintains that Abrams could have travelled this road on his own. Super 8 is something of a Goonies meets E.T. alien adventure film, that is surrounded by all the mystery that both directors love. Well Super 8 is loaded with mystery. For starters, the mystery of who the hell are these kid actors? If they were to remake the Goonies, I would vote these folks in. Elle Fanning is charming and a chip off the old family block and she is the only recognizable face in that crowd of younglings.  Super 8 is pure adventure from start to finish.

4. Everything Must Go (4.5 of 5 Horns) — http://reelrhino.blogspot.com/2011/05/reviews-bridesmaids-and-everything-must.html

Will Ferrell in an uncharacteristic role, shines playing Nick Halsey, a man who finds himself, but only after losing everything.  “This film is darker than I would have expected. There is less comedy and more drama than I would have expected. Folks, this is a great film. I would call it feel good, but only for the catharsis that you experience alongside Nick as he fights off his demons. Through Nick, we learn about life from his sequence of tragedy of errors, but never really to the point that we pity him, but instead mostly where we actually will root for him to succeed.”

5. Hanna (4.5 of 5 Horns) — http://reelrhino.blogspot.com/2011/04/hanna-reel-rhino-review.html

“Hanna is not a perfect movie, but it is cool as can be.  It may have released through an American studio, but with Wright at the helm and with the exotic locales, this flick has European sensibilities and I mean that as the greatest of compliment.  The tone is darker and the overall look is more gritty than say SALT, by comparison, another spy thriller that I felt came off as very commercial.  I will say that this film was greatly fueled by the COMPELLING original score from The Chemical Brothers.  Yes, the Block Rockin’ Beats, Chemical Brothers.  It is just enough retro with lots of rockin’ to fuel this jet forward in a big way.  Single-handedly, this score upped Hanna a full notch in my book.”

HONORABLE MENTIONS
The Way Back (4.5 of 5 Horns) – A group of prisoners from a Siberian gulag escape and walk 4000 miles to freedom, travelling all the way to India, completely on foot….compelling AND TRUE.  Peter Wier is one of the all-time great directors and the cast includes  Ed Harris, Jim Sturgess, Saoirse Ronan, and another great Colin Farrell role…see also, In Bruges.  Seriously, see In Bruges ASAP…a truly great film with a wonderful performance b y Farrell…Oscar nominated as well for In Bruges.

Justin Bieber: Never Say Never (5 of 5 Horns) – Maybe it was just Bieber-Fever, but I was enthralled by the life story of this young man.  While it is filled with a variety of catchy tween-pop tunes, this movie is more documentary than musical and it delivers a wholly enjoyable tale.

Cedar Rapids (4.5 of 5 Horns) – Ed Helms can carry a film, but having John C. Reilly, Sigourney Weaver, and Anne Heche along for the ride doesn’t hurt.  This film is funny and sweet, but wholly an adult comedy.

Barney’s Version (4.5 of 5 Horns) – A well-made film weaving a well-told story.  Paul Giamatti shines as the titular Barney and the air of mystery wrapped in something of a love story is both touching and edge-of-your-seat mysterious.

Battle: Los Angeles (4.5 of 5 Horns) – Vivid, action-packed, and for fleeting moments, touching.  This movie would have been a fine summer blockbuster release.  Aaron Eckhart is always entertaining.

Rango (4.5 of 5 Horns) – The anti-animation-animation, this movie is a spaghetti western for adults, presented as a kids film with Nickelodeon Studios release and all.  An extremely unique film that was the vision of Wolfgang Peterson, a director who has brought you more films than you might imagine: Air Force One, Troy, Outbreak, Enemy Mine, and The Neverending Story, for a few highlights.  Rango is bizarre, but a super-duper awesome bizarre.

These two films are yet to receive a wide theatrical release, but when they do, run…don’t walk, to the nearest theater and see them.

Red State (5 of 5 Horns) – Kevin Smith delivers in this thriller that is wholly mislabeled as a horror film.  Yes, some of the characters are horrific, but this satirical look at the cult of the Westboro Baptist Church is both entertaining and well made.  John Goodman and Michael Parks embody the term, Tour de Force.  Coming to a theater near you, October 2011.

Attack The Block (4.5 of 5 Horns) – Joe Wright has created a unique film that fits snugly in the canon of Edgar Wright-like flicks (Wright is a producer on this), while existing on its own merit with a cast that resembles a cadre of hard core British Goonies.  This played as a /Filmcast sponsored preview in cities across the US, and it will hopefully get a Fall 2011 release.

Also, there have been a number of movies I haven’t seen this year, that would be good to take in for the widespread critical acclaim they have garnered: (1) Meek’s Cutoff and (2) Tree of Life.

That’s all for now, folks…till later, take care!

Reel Rhino

Comments (2)

Tags: , , , , ,

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
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Have a great 4th everyone!  Baba, continued safe travels to you and a special shout out to all of the Blinkin family!!
RR

Comments (2)

Tags: , ,

Reel Rhino’s Date With Fate: 1000th Movie

Posted on 25 June 2011 by Reel Rhino

Sorry I have been spotty on my posts, but I have had all hell breaking loose in my life.  Things are good, but I have been balls to the wall busy.  This post covers my milestone which I hit last week…enjoy the read and I hope to resume regular posts again very soon…RR

It started out like any other Saturday.  Momma Rhino let Papa Rhino sleep in a little longer than he should.  Of course she knew he was going to need his rest, for it was a big day.  Life was good as that wake up was administered by Baby Rhino that jumped on daddy.  I think I heard my 22 month old son chanting “movie day, movie day, movie day.”  Although I may have been dreaming.

Yes folks, Saturday, June 18th, 2011 was in fact: “1000th movie” movie day.  The Reel Rhino has travelled a long road and last Saturday was the payoff.

I wrote my love letter to AMC Theaters in a previous post, but again, what an amazing run I have had with AMC.

730 of 1000 movies, 73% of the films I have taken in, have been with AMC theaters.  Wow.

Thanks again AMC!

I mean it…you guys rock.

Tracie (my wife) was also very excited for movie night.  Yes, she was proud of her movie going husband, but she also was excited to finally get out and see a movie.  You see, while I am out there battling the crowds and taking in cinema for the sake of you, my loyal readers, she is usually holding down the fort.  I couldn’t possible of gotten here without her, so her being there for this flick, was a “gotta have.”

And she couldn’t have been more excited for the choice in movie….GREEN LANTERN.  Well, maybe some other movie would have been more preferable for her, but for the sake of the big night, she sucked it up.

The evening started at Buffalo Wild Wings, and we dined like kings and queens.  We had a great posse in the Ross and Kelly Capps and their kiddies; Dan, Carol, Bevin, Michael, and Jillian Schmer, The G Man and Allison, Tracie, and I.

Cows around the world rejoiced as we tore through wings as if Adam Richman himself was egging us on.  We had to build up our strength, but we all knew that we would have the luxury of well buttered popcorn and Diet Coke to fuel us forward if the need arose.

At around 6:00pm, we made the move across Barry Road, travelling from the Northland’s Zona Rosa to hallowed ground: Kansas City’s AMC Barrywoods 24…AKA my stomping grounds for the last 11 years.

Little did I know that Tracie had made some special arrangements for our arrival at the theater.

What a great wife.

Everyone expected that we would be wheels down and running a little behind making the 6:20pm show, so my friends at AMC had some also tricks up their sleeve.

V.I.P. seating, ladies and gentlemen.  What a group, these AMC folks!  It was at this point, that The G Man and Allison had to take their leave of us.  G Man, we hardly knew you (see also, Seinfeld).

So what about the movie itself?

GREEN LANTERN: 4 of 5 Horns

Let me start by saying, Green Lantern was a solid 3, but this night would have earned any film a 1 Horn bump.  It really needed it, too, as this film was fairly critically raked over the coals.  Let me say, this is an extremely watchable film.  A fun movie to watch with popcorn firmly secured in the lap, as was my position throughout.

Green Lantern tells the story of Hal Jordan and his selection as the first human called into service in the intergalactic do-good syndicate of super heroes, the Green Lantern Corps.  Hal meets his predecessor when the ring calls him into service.  He has no idea what is going on, and given the lack of popular success for this tent-pole summer release, Jordan wasn’t alone as most of the Ryan Reynolds fans were probably in the dark as well.

Don’t get me wrong.  This film is wholly successful in conveying the back story to this lesser known DC title.  But my question is why?  Why did we need this origin story?  I think that Green Lantern would have been a far more successful film if we had skipped right past the origin into a full fledge adventure with these characters.

That said, I think the story of the Lantern Corps is competently covered but at the expense of long periods of exposition, which would have been much better substituted with battles or grand adventure.

The absolute shining star in this film is Peter Sarsgaard.  His role as Hector Hammond is brilliant and if you think you will pass on this film, I promise you, Sarsgaard alone is worth the trip to the theater.

Mark Strong, aka the poor man’s Andy Garcia, is quickly becoming the rich man’s Mark Strong.  Strong is literally everywhere these days, and his turn is Sinestro is quite watchable, with his main purpose of setting up the sequel successfully accomplished.

A laughable appearance by Tim Robbins is a role that would have been much better filled by a lesser actor.  Robbins is quite laugh as the elder Hammond and he is absolutely outshined in the worst possible way when he shares the screen with Sarsgaard.

There were some concerns about Blake Lively as well.  She had a great role in the drugged out ex-girlfriend in last year’s Ben Affleck caper flick The Town.  She is wholly passable as the love interest and really doesn’t shine, but as a pretty face, she plays the role with ease.

So the final word is see this movie, but don’t expect too much and your experience should be both enjoyable and enlightening given the strong role that is Hector Hammond.

Oh yeah, my hetero-man-crush Ryan Reynolds is great as always.  He is so affable that I think it is impossible to not enjoy his time on screen.  Yes, hard core GL fans wanted Nathan Fillion…sorry gang, we can’t have Mal Reynolds play all of our heroes.  Catch the animated features just released, Green Lantern: Emerald Knights, to hear how Fillion would have fared in this role.

Final World:  It was a great night and I would have watched anything.  Green Lantern fit the bill, as the real stars of the night were my wife, friends, and AMC family that made the day so memorable.  It’s been a great run and I’ve loved every minute of it.  I can’t wait to get into my next 1000…

Thanks Gang!

Until next time, take care….

Reel Rhino

REEL RHINO’S 1000 MOVIES: BY THE NUMBERS
Movie Count:  1000
Total Minutes in the Theater: 111,371
Which Equals: 77 days, 8 hours
Average Length of Each Movie: 111 minutes

Total Dollars in Tickets: $6.618.75
Average Ticket Price: $6.62 per ticket
Most movies in one year: 2008, 166 movies

This was the shirt front and back that my darling wife had made to celebrate the day:


Comments (2)

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Triple Review, Triple Fast: X-Men First Class, Super 8, Midnight in Paris

Posted on 17 June 2011 by Reel Rhino

I have had a real-life work project rolling along, so I apologize for my lack of meaningful content over the past few weeks.

For instance, if you haven’t heard, this Saturday, June 18th, 2011, the Reel Rhino will make history.  Well nothing so significant as to cause Encyclopedia Britannica to get their panties in a bunch, but significant enough for me to tell you about it here.

This Saturday at AMC Barrywoods in Kansas City at 6:20pm, I will be taking in my favorite hetero man-crush, Ryan Reynolds, as he joins the Lantern Corps in GREEN LANTERN, the latest comic book, summer block buster offering.  For whatever reason, DC comics always seem to have a darker tone than its Marvel counterpart.  If you have seen the extended cut of the trailer, you’ll have to agree that but for Reynolds trademark wise cracks, that this film seems like the real deal for genre buffs, which luckily, I happen to be.  I think this film will exist nicely in the realm of sci-fi, adventure, and comic book fare.  We are hitting the ETX screen, so if your in my hood, drop on in!

So what have I seen lately?  I offer to you my single paragraph review, whirlwind takes on X-Men: First Class, Super 8, and Midnight in Paris.

X-Men: First Class 4 of 5 Horns
What a great entry into the X-Men series!  This was an exciting film with a dynamic cast and it painted a vivid picture of the formation of one of the most feared super teams of all time: The Avengers!  Wait a minute…that’s next summer!  Make no mistake, this is a well made film and Matthew Vaughn is a force to contend with in the realm of up and coming directors.  Layer Cake, Stardust, Kick-Ass, and now First Class…that is a quality resume.  I think this entire cast performed with style, but super kudos go to James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender as Charles Xavier and Erik Lensher.  First Class has style, but it also has a sense of self-awareness.  Some of the scenes are so comedic, given the high quality of the rest of the film, I am assuming that the scenes dialogue or action was shot with the tongue firmly planted in the cheek.  These scenes are not only forgiven, they are embraced easily by the movie goers and provided well placed laughs amidst the gasps at the sense of adventure.  Kevin Bacon is hammy in less sensational roles; he absolutely chewed his way out of this world eating set pieces with ease.  For additional, enjoyable Kevin Bacon, leave Footloose on the shelf and shoot for James Gunn’s SUPER, from earlier this year.

Super 8 5 of 5 Horns
Lora, I sensed from your comment, that you have some issues with Super 8.  You are a dear friend, but I must contest, I loved this movie.  J.J. Abrams has existed as one of my favorite folks in the entertainment industry for some time now.  He solidified that opinion with the wonderful reboot of the Star Trek series.  I always have been a fan of Star Trek; not a full fledge Trekker, but a fan none the less.  J.J. made Star Trek cool again (yes, folks, it was cool before as well…deal with it).  I’d like to say J.J. is a wunderkind director, but he’s been in the biz for over 20 years.  In the 1980’s Abrams helped Steven Spielberg repair home movies he had made as a kid.  That’s a pretty good break for a young wannabe filmmaker and this was just the first of Abrams/Spielberg interactions that would ultimately lead to this project.  While Abrams calls Spielberg the Grandfather of Super 8; Spielberg maintains that Abrams could have travelled this road on his own.  Super 8 is something of a Goonies meets E.T. alien adventure film, that is surrounded by all the mystery that both directors love.  For further reading, please see also, Abrams TED talk on the mystery of the box.  Well Super 8 is loaded with mystery.  For starters, the mystery of who the hell are these kid actors?  If they were to remake the Goonies, I would vote these folks in.  Elle Fanning is charming and a chip off the old family block.  I was also happy to see Noah Emmerich and Ron Eldard back in the acting game.  Emmerich was formerly married to a friends sister.  At said friend’s wedding, we had a blast hanging with “Mo” from Beautiful Girls.  Must see TV, if you’re in the game for a flick.  Super 8 is pure adventure from start to finish.  See this movie.

Midnight in Paris 4 of 5 Horns
This film has been out for some time and for many of the past few weeks, Woody Allen’s latest film has raked in the highest per screen average amongst all the summer blockbusters playing at your local theaters.  Impressive as the comic book, sequel, superhero films have occupied most screens nationwide, it’s good to see Allen still has the magic.  And this film does have some magic.  SPOILER ALERT: Most critics have steered clear of sharing the secret of this movie, but I think in doing so, you may be more inclined to see it.  MIDNIGHT IN PARIS IS A TIME-TRAVEL, SCI-FI WONDER!  Yep, you heard it here first.  Midnight in Paris as a title describes a magic moment in time in a magical city.  As the clock strikes midnight, our hero, Gil (Owen Wilson) is transported to an earlier time.  The 1920’s in Paris were a renaissance as Gil saw it.  As a “Hollywood hack” as he puts it, Gil is trying to write a novel.  He dreams of a bygone era and wonders how great the inspiration would have flowed, had he been born in a different generation.  Gil is transported into the 1920’s ala a midnight ride he takes each night in an old-timey car that mysteriously erupts from a foggy Paris night.  This cast is loaded with stars and they all earn their paychecks here.  I won’t say anymore other than Woody Allen works wonders with the time travel genre, flipping it on its head.  This was an extraordinarily fun movie and whether or not you like Allen or not, this is not your standard Woody.  I experienced a funny  moment after the film, as I was discussing the movie with two ushers.  I was perhaps the youngest person in the theater by 10 years and when I was talking to these folks, the young lady I was describing the film to, asked me in a hushed tone: “Is this an old person movie?” as several silver haired movie goers passed us by.  Well folks, Woody Allen has been around for years, by I argue that he still has the power to entertain people of all ages.

I hope to see you all on Saturday at AMC Barrywoods…it’s a big day for me and I look forward, just as much, to the next 1000.

Until later, take care!

Reel Rhino

Comments (1)

Tags: , ,

Guess Who’s Back, Back Again…Rhino’s Back, Tell a Friend

Posted on 13 June 2011 by Reel Rhino

Greetings movie lovers!  Sorry for my absence, but I have been quite jammed with my real job and some other non-movie business.  I am shooting for two mid-week posts…one reviewing X-Men: First Class, Super 8, and Midnight in Paris; and one revealing the final plans for the 1000th movie.

For now, I am at a loss for words.  I cannot say enough great things about my friends at AMC Barrywoods 24.

For starters, let me say that this was supposed to be a HUGE weekend for the Reel Rhino.  This was going to be the hallowed 1000th movie weekend.

Life intervened.

I spent the better part of the week in Orlando, FL attending the Hexagon 2011 conference as a part of the Leica Geosystems User Group.  I had planned on taking in two movies while in Florida, but like Congressman Norris in The Adjustment Bureau, it wasn’t in the plan.

In preparation for the big 1-0-0-0, the AMC crew prepared a gift for me.  Let me say how humbled I am for such an effort on their part.  While I am grateful to all who had a hand in the gift, Ponce and all of his staff; I was especially appreciative of Heather’s part.  She shared with me her secret of wrapping gifts and I think you will agree, for the movie lover, it was perfect!

We didn’t have an AMC theater in my hometown of Erie, PA.  It wasn’t until 1994, my freshman year at The University of Maryland, that I went to an AMC at the Academy 6 at the Greenbelt Mall in Greenbelt, MD, just outside of College Park.  That first AMC film was Forrest Gump, on August 20th, 1994, at 10:00pm, at the low student rate of just $3.75.  I was nearing the end of my first preseason football camp with the Terps, and I needed some comfort.  You know, Momma always said life was like a box of chocolates…Forest Gump has remained one of my favorites and I did in fact see it three times during 1994.

From there, I toggled between the Academy 8 and the Academy 6, both at the Greenbelt Mall, for most of my days at Maryland.

Regrettably for the AMC family, I moved next door to a Sony Theater during 1999 and 2000, which was my movie home for that span.  That run of movie-going had me see every film released that summer, except Thomas the Tank Engine and Pokemon 2000.  There is a bit of irony in the choice of what I skipped that summer as I spent this most recent Sunday visiting a real live Thomas the Tank Engine with my wife and son tomorrow.

At the end of 2000, I moved to Kansas City, MO and the AMC Barrywoods 24 has been my home screen ever since.  My first film in Kansas City was yet another Tom Hanks film, Castaway, on December 29th, 2000, at 10:45pm, at the low cost of $5.00, student rate.  Chuck Noland…”no land,” cute, right…was no Forest Gump, but damn if that Tom Hanks can act!

The adventure has continued and will into the future.  The first stage of my moviegoing is nearly complete.  This Saturday, June 18th, 2011, I will be seeing my 1000th movie.

I will be posting again on the event, but the short story is that I am shooting for a 7:00pm-ish show of Green Lantern, probably the full monty 3-D version.

This is not a commercial for AMC Theaters.  But I can’t deny the hospitality that AMC Theaters has always showed me.  From the gift for my achievement to always greeting me with open arms for every show that I attend at my home theater of Barrywoods, they have exemplified excellence in providing a great theater experience.

In their honor and as a show of thanks for their kindness, I have tallied my moviegoing life as it has interacted with AMC Theaters.  Oh, if you’re wondering how I know all this…I have ever stub from my moviegoing life.  You call me crazy, I call it reverence for a beloved form of art.

THE AMC THEATERS I HAVE VISITED:
AMC Academy 8, Greenbelt, MD
AMC Academy 6, Greenbelt, MD
AMC Union Station, Washington, D.C.
AMC Shore, Long Island, NY
AMC Barrywoods, Kansas City, MO
AMC Town Center, Leawood, KS
AMC Metro North 6, Kansas City, MO (no longer open)
AMC Van Ness 14, San Francisco, CA
AMC Studio 30, Olathe, KS
AMC Stonebriar 24, Frisco, TX
AMC Mainstreet, Kansas City, MO
AMC Cherry Creek 8, Denver CO
AMC La Jolle, San Diego, CA
AMC Independence 20, Independence, MO
AMC Creve 12, St. Louis, MO
Midland Theater by AMC (for Kevin Smith’s Red State)


AMC MOVIES BY YEAR

1994: 5
1995: 11 1996: 23
1997: 20
1998: 15
1999: 4
2000: 8
2001: 20
2002: 23
2003: 32
2004: 24
2005: 26
2006: 42
2007: 83
2008: 134
2009: 135
2010: 78
2011: 46

729 of my 999 movies to date have been with AMC.

Thanks AMC.  Thanks.

Box Office Challenge
Thraxxus sat atop his throne for a mere week before having his record setting PERFECT WEEK tied not once, but twice, by JUNIOR and KENFU.  Cheers to you both and Kenfu, I already owe you Cars 2, another pick if you like, and Junior, your pick is my command as well.  Here were last week’s box office results as well as the four entries into the Box Office Challenge:

BOX OFFICE WEEKEND RESULTS (Two Weekends Ago)
1. X-Men: First Class $55.1 million
2. The Hangover Part II $31.3 million
3. Kung Fu Panda 2 $23.8 million
4. Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides $17.9
5. Bridesmaids $12 million
6. Thor $4.2 million
7. Fast Five $3.1 million
8. Midnight in Paris $2.7 million
9. Something Borrowed $848,013
10 . Jumping the Broom $844,909

JUNIOR Top 5 (15 Points)
1. X-Men
2. The Hangover 2
3. Kung Fu Panda 2
4. Pirates
5. Bridesmaids

KENFU Top 5 (15 Points)
1. X-Men
2. The Hangover 2
3. Kung Fu Panda 2
4. Pirates
5. Bridesmaids

Karzack Top 5 (13 Points).
1. X-Men
2. Hangover 2
3. Kung Fu Panda 2
4. Bridesmaids
5. Pirates

REEL RHINO TOP 5 BOX OFFICE PICKS (11 Points)
1. X-Men: First Class
2. Kung Fu Panda 1
3. The Hangover Part 2
4. Bridesmaids
5. Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides

Since the weekend is alive and kicking and I have been off the grid, I offer a week off from the Challenge.  My picks for the weekend are as follows:

1. Super 8
2. X-Men: First Class
3. The Hangover Part II
4. Kung Fu Panda 2
5. Pirates 4

While I think Judy Moody and the Not Bummer Summer will have some pull with the youngins, the 5 I picked are all playing on 3000 or more screens.  Judy Moody is playing on just under, but I still don’t see it generating enough momentum.  Cars 2 will hold its own, but Ms. Moody, probably not.

(PS…I made my picks early in the weekend.  While I nailed it, the contest was off, so I still consider myself a perfect week virgin.  So my 5 picks were this last weekend’s top five.)

Until next time….1000, I’m a knockin’!

Take care, Reel Rhino

Comments (2)

Tags: , , , , , ,

Box Office Preview-Box Office Challenge

Posted on 03 June 2011 by Reel Rhino

Like I said, this week will be hit and miss with me, but I didn’t want to skip out on the Box Office Challenge.  The rules and terms are all listed near the bottom of this post.

There is only one film opening this week worth noting…Ewan McGregor in Mike Mills BEGINNERS, of course!  Right…while I do think Mills semi-autobiographical film about his 75 year old father coming out of the closet after his mother passes away will be a fine effort in filmmaking, I don’t think the 5 screens will be enough to overpower Professor X and his First Class of mutant students.

Yes, X-Men: First Class is out in full force as of midnight tonight (well around 30 minutes ago as this goes to press) and it does look sharp and will be playing on 3,641 screens.  It is standing strong on Rotten Tomatoes at 86% with 124 reviews counted…not bad at all!  It even has Mills’ art house flick whipped, as it is coming in at 79%.  Submarine, the story of a boy plotting to save his parents marriage while attempting also to lose his virginity has them both in check, coming in at 91% fresh.  Submarine is only playing on 4 screens.  Oh, how the summer blockbuster can keep that art house fare in check.

I feel we can firmly vote on X-Men to take the weekend.  With poor word of mouth on Hangover spreading, I think the real competition will be from Kung Fu Panda 2, the only real family friendly competition.  The kids are loose and they need some entertainment, dammit!  The question is how many of the potential folks on Panda watch will instead be hitting the PG-13 X-Men.

Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris (92% fresh at 100 reviews) is expanding to 147 screens and Terrence Malick’s unique existential effort, The Tree of Life (86% fresh) is expanding to 20 screens.  Too few opportunities in both accounts to vie for the top 5.

So last weekend….

BOX OFFICE WEEKEND RESULTS
1. The Hangover Part II $85.9 million
2. Kung Fu Panda 2 $47.6 million
3. Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides $39.8 million
4. Bridesmaids $16.5 million
5. Thor $9.5 million
6. Fast Five $6.4 million
7. Midnight in Paris $1.9 million (YOWZA: $33,268 per screen average!)
8. Something Borrowed $1.8 million
9. Jumping the Broom $1.82 million
10 . Rio $1.8 million

Thraxxus is coming off a PERFECT SCORE of 15…you still need to tell me what you want me to watch…your wish is my command, sir.  Can he do a two-fer?  Time will tell!

REEL RHINO TOP 5 BOX OFFICE PICKS
1. X-Men: First Class
2. Kung Fu Panda 2
3. The Hangover Part 2
4. Bridesmaids
5. Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides

There you have it!  Good Luck to all….

REEL RHINO’S BOX OFFICE CHALLENGE

THE RULES:
Scoring…for every correct guess, you get 3 points.  For every guess within one pick of the movie’s weekend slot gets you 2 points.  Finally, two picks away gets you 1 point.

Yeah…if you can’t figure out who is the winner, it isn’t really a contest, right?  Any ties will be determined first by whoever has the highest correct answer or series of correct answers.  If the tie persists, the winner will be determined by whoever submitted their picks first…yes, you are correct…I have the home field advantage.  Deal with it.

The format will be simple with each week’s challenge.  I will post the week’s opening films, the # of screens the film is playing (when known), and the RottenTomatoes.com score, if it has one at the time of the post.  I am going to omit listing those movies opening in extreme limited release, because they won’t have the seats to fight for one of the top five slots.  Fair enough, agreed?

That will be followed by the top ten from last week.  “Choose wisely.”  Remember that German commander in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade… it didn’t work out so well for him, learn from his lesson my friends.

The final segment of each week’s contest will be me, offering my picks.

You may submit your picks in one of three ways:
1. Enter your picks in the comments field of this post at http://www.BlinkinBlogs.com
2. Enter your picks in the comments field of this post at http://ReelRhino.com
3. E-mail your picks to ReelRhino@gmail.com

I will compile the week’s entries and post the winners at both BlinkinBlogs and ReelRhino as soon as possible, but hopefully by Monday evening at the latest.

THE PRIZE: For now, my friends, in the humble beginnings of the BOX OFFICE CHALLENGE, the prize is this: the champion of the week will have their selection of any film, which I will watch and review on both sites.  Don’t believe me?  See also: http://reelrhino.blogspot.com/2011/04/biebers-never-say-never-redux-watch.html

Yep…that happened.

GOOD LUCK TO ALL AND MAKE YOUR PICKS SOON!

Reel Rhino

Comments (2)

Tags: , , , , , ,

Quest for 1000 and THE HANGOVER PART II Review

Posted on 28 May 2011 by Reel Rhino

The quest for 1000 marches on!  The official tally, including last evening’s outing, stands at 995.  My plan for the next few weeks is pretty simple. 

I will discuss my man-date with my Wolfpack below, but between today and my 1000th film, the road is pretty clear. 

I am guessing that Kung-Fu Panda (996) will be in my weekend plans and next Friday, X-Men: First Class (997) is on the filmic agenda.  The week that follows will probably hold one to two more flicks and if all goes according to plan, I will hit 1000 the weekend of June 10th – June 12th.

So what are my options for that weekend?  What shall I see for the big uno-trip-zero?

I see no other option…SUPER 8 will be the way to go.  This thing looks stellar and I can think of no better way to enjoy this major milestone as a cinema-freak than taking in some fare from wunderkind director J.J. Abrams and his mentor in this case, the grandpapa of epic tales, Steven Spielberg.  This film seems to be filled with a sense of wonder and adventure, the likes of which we haven’t seen in some time, harkening back to the days of Spielberg’s youth.

What say you my friends?  How should I do it?  Evites?  Facebook invites?  A quiet night out with the wife?  Regardless, a babysitter will be in order so the Reel Rhiness can help me celebrate proper on this grand of evenings.

I am thinking steak?  Maybe Italian?  Who knows…what goes well with celluloid and movie popcorn?

Soon, 1000 movies will be mine and I have so many memories along the way.  I’m glad to have started this blog, so I can share my adventures with you…

Speaking of memories, me thinks I have formed a new WOLFPACK. 

REEL RHINO REVIEW: THE HANGOVER PART II – 3 of 5 Horns

I think that I could watch Ed Helms, Zach Galifianakis, and Bradley Cooper in anything…children’s theater, Shakespeare in the Park, anything…

The Hangover is in my top 10 films of all-time.  It is #2 to Ghostbusters in my favorite comedic films of all-time.  It blew my mind.  I am watching it as I type this and I find some of the laughs as fresh as the first time I saw it.  I saw The Hangover five times at the theater…that was a record for me.  I loved this movie.

THE HANGOVER PART II is not the original, but it is still a funny movie.  Todd Phillips has a watchable sense of direction and as I said, I love this set of actors…Justin Bartha as well…all the ladies of the series and of course, Mr. Chow.

That’s right, everyone but Heather Graham’s Jade is back for this entry, and of course, with The Hangover Part II focusing on ONE NIGHT IN BANGKOK as a celebration for Stu’s wedding, it made sense that Jade would be out.  It’s a shame too, because Heather Graham is adorable.  Although Jamie Chung’s Lauren, Stu’s new bride to be, is quite an acceptable substitute.

So what is crazier than Vegas?  For most males in North America, nothing…and this is the fundamental problem with this film.  Yes, I laughed quite a bit and I had a good time with my friends, but this was not the magical experience that The Hangover was.  Bangkok is foreign to me, both figuratively and literally.  I am sure that Bangkok seemed like a logical place to set the next-level misadventures of Phil, Allen, and Stu, as I am sure many Hollywood big timers have had their share of debauchery in this world class city of sin.

The premise is the same as the first.  The celebration before a wedding leads to a blackout blotto night and we find our heroes in peril, waking up with their memory of the preceding night erased.  Doug (Bartha) smartly sits out the night on the town and becomes the anchor back at base, keeping the families at bay.  With Doug safe and secure, who could be missing?  Well that would be Teddy (Mason Lee), Lauren’s 17 year old brother, who was sent innocently to the beach to enjoy the one beer our hapless fellows had planned on enjoying. 

We do learn how these guys, who truly planned on a one-beer night, ended up again in the throes of chaos, but that is a spoiler and I will save it for your night at the theater.

The story from here runs very similar to the first film.  It becomes a mystery and a thriller within the comedy of the film.

Yes, the danger is ramped up and this is a darker outing for these guys, and in Bangkok, there is nothing off-limits in the service of comedy.

The Hangover was a relatively lighthearted film in the midst of a very adult set of misadventures.  The Hangover Part II gets laughs from a much darker place.  In the first, we laughed because we could relate; here we laugh some at the pure comedy of the moment, but more times than not the laughs come from the discomfort of the foreign nature of the terrible things we are seeing on screen. 

I say The Hangover was lighthearted and that comes through much in the crispness of the image on screen and the bright lights that Vegas offers as a setting.

The Hangover Part II has a grittiness that matches the setting of some of the rougher parts of Bangkok.  They filmed this on-location, so that drab appearance was real.  It seems as though the choice of filters and lighting was intentional and while that may be so, I think it was a very drastic artistic change from the first film.

So yes, I am comparing these two movies, when in fact it would be far fairer to hold Part II on its own to see how it measures up within the overall realm of comedic films.  When you older brother is the State Champ, you have to be ready to endure that comparion.

You may have noticed that Paul Giamatti is listed prominently in the credits on IMDB and elsewhere.  His involvement in the film is rather limited and for his part, I thought the use of Giamatti was rather jarring.  He plays this type of role (semi-lighthearted heavy) well, but perhaps his recent turns as extraordinarily well-played leading men, caused his presence to be more jarring than organic.

There were rumors aplenty concerning the appearance of Mel Gibson, Liam Neeson, and even former President Bill Clinton as cameos in the film.  I won’t tell who is in it and who isn’t, but there is as least one cameo that was a highlight for the film.

There is a monkey in this film and this monkey becomes a character in and of himself.  Todd Phillips has taken some heat on this point, as it is still unclear as to whether or not this monkey actual became addicted to cigarettes while shooting this flick.  Phillips said it was so when he was interviewed by EW for a piece on the film… he later retracted it as a joke.  There is a monkey in this film and he does appear to really smoke cigarettes…but addicted?  Whatever the truth may be, I am sure we will never know.  But I can say this, The Hangover Part II does not carry the American Humane Society’s “no animal harmed” attachment in the credits.  Oh boy.

 

This movie takes crazy to the next level, occasionally perhaps to a scale that is a little too grand.  And for those mad highs, some of the slower moments seemed too lull to long on the other side of the spectrum.  I didn’t feel a single draggy bit in the original, while there were several spots here in Part II where I was waiting too long for the next beat.

I liked this movie.  I didn’t love it and it doesn’t hold a candle to the original.  I said in 2009 after seeing The Hangover for the first time…please God, don’t them make a sequel. 

I will see Part II again and I hope that it grows on me.  For now, the best I can do is a 3 of 5 Horn rating and I do suggest that you see it.

Oh yeah, my WOLFPACK…I saw this with Dustin, Ross, Bob, Troy, Kevin, and Kevin…we laughed like madmen and then we dined like Kings…well we ate tacos.  Bottom line, see this movie with friends.  Laughter is infectious and the enjoyment level will be accentuated by the presence of friends.  My Wolfpack rated it at its lowest, at 2.5…there was mine and one other 3, then everyone else ran the Spectrum between 3.5 and 4.5.  One of our guys gave it a 4.5 instead of a 5 because there was not enough T-n-A and there was a little too much penis for his tastes.  Also, another of my pack said this offering is superior to the Original.  Yikes…not so much as far as I’m concerned.

For Part II, there was also too much revealed in the trailers.  You will laugh again at the pig smash scene, but how great would it have been not to have seen that coming.  The Hangover was epic.  They didn’t need a lick of advertising for this film and it was completely a disservice for all. 

I attribute much I liked about this film to my overwhelming affection for these actors.  Ed Helms is great as an everyman in hilarious peril.  Every time I see him as Stu, I see a little of the Nard Dog in there as well.  I also loved his turn in Cedar Rapids and I think he will continue to shine.

I am happy that Ryan Reynolds is the Green Lantern and I guess Chris Evans will make an acceptable Captain America.  But I wonder how Bradley Cooper would have done in that role.  He has some juice and it is surprising that as far as super heroes go, that Cooper is yet to pick up anything respectible.  He did give us Face Man in The A-Team and he is rumored for Eric Draven in the rumored 2013 remake of The Crow, but I figured someone would have picked him up for something significant.  (By the way, The Crow does not need remade.  The sequels are not so great from what I have heard, but the original with the fantastic soundtrack and the aura of death in Brandon Lee’s passing while filming, that movie is a cult classic and doesn’t need a re-envisioning.  But as always, Hollywood just can’t leave good enough alone – CASE IN POINT: THE HANGOVER PART II.)

Speaking of music…another facet of The Hangover that was so great were the accompanying songs.  The soundtrack was epic and few people know that this was essentially when we first get to meet Ke$ha, as she is the female backing vocals in the Flo Rida song that capped the film in that iconic “lost night” photo montage.  Part II gives us some Johnny Cash and some cutting-edge hip-hop that gets your toe tapping, but it too falls short from the offerings in the first flick.  We are fortunate enough to get another original song from the music styling of Ed Helms, but not as memorable as “What Do Tigers Dream Of.”

The Hangover Part II is worth your dollar and you will find some laughs, but it is not The Hangover, but really, it will be quite some time before that level of comic gold is found again on the silver screen.

See you next time…

Reel Rhino

MIKE EPPS as OTHER DOUG aka BLACK DOUG:  “Ah come on man…I’ll be your Doug”

Comments (0)

Tags: , , , , ,

2011 Memorial Day Movie Preview BOX OFFICE CHALLENGE

Posted on 26 May 2011 by Reel Rhino

There are only two new releases worth mentioning this weekend.  They will most likely be #1 and #2, but it is a crapshoot as to which will be which!

Will the R-rated HANGOVER 2 and the return of the WOLFPACK be enough to keep the FURIOUS FIVE and the chosen one, PO, from taking the weekend?  The screen count is comparable (PANDA: 3,925 VS. HANGOVER: 3,615), but Kung-Fu Panda is playing in both 2-D and 3-D, so of course there would be more.  Also, Panda 2 does have an IMAX version, but it seems as though Pirates is holding onto the IMAX screens and that Panda will be hitting IMAX next week.  

Other X-Factors?  Both PANDA and HANGOVER were released today.  It is essentially a 5-day movie weekend.  I will be curious to see how Box Office Mojo ranks it all out, but you can guarantee it is going to be a bog box office weekend.

Here were last week’s results:

Weekend Box Office Results
1. Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides $90.1 million
2. Bridesmaids $20.8 million
3. Thor $15.4 million
4. Fast Five $10.5 million
5. Priest $4.7 million
6. Rio $4.6 million
7. Jumping the Broom $3,7 million
8. Something Borrowed $3.5 million
9. Water for Elephants $2.1 million
10. Madea’s Big Happy Family $956,000

Since there has been fairly little response to the contest…I will keep the whole message relatively short.  Here are my picks, and the rules and ways to enter follow after…

REEL RHINO PICKS FOR THE WEEKEND
1. Kung-Fu Panda 2
2. The Hangover 2
3. Pirates 4
4. Bridesmaids
5. Thor

Bridesmaids and Hangover 2 would make a hell of a double feature.  I will catch up with you soon…

REEL RHINO’S BOX OFFICE CHALLENGE

THE RULES:
Scoring…for every correct guess, you get 3 points.  For every guess within one pick of the movie’s weekend slot gets you 2 points.  Finally, two picks away gets you 1 point. 

Yeah…if you can’t figure out who is the winner, it isn’t really a contest, right?  Any ties will be determined first by whoever has the highest correct answer or series of correct answers.  If the tie persists, the winner will be determined by whoever submitted their picks first…yes, you are correct…I have the home field advantage.  Deal with it.

The format will be simple with each week’s challenge.  I will post the week’s opening films, the # of screens the film is playing (when known), and the RottenTomatoes.com score, if it has one at the time of the post.  I am going to omit listing those movies opening in extreme limited release, because they won’t have the seats to fight for one of the top five slots.  Fair enough, agreed?

 

 That will be followed by the top ten from last week.  “Choose wisely.”  Remember that German commander in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade… it didn’t work out so well for him, learn from his lesson my friends.

 

The final segment of each week’s contest will be me, offering my picks.

 

You may submit your picks in one of three ways:

1. Enter your picks in the comments field of this post at http://www.BlinkinBlogs.com

2. Enter your picks in the comments field of this post at http://ReelRhino.com

3. E-mail your picks to ReelRhino@gmail.com

I will compile the week’s entries and post the winners at both BlinkinBlogs and ReelRhino as soon as possible, but hopefully by Monday evening at the latest.

THE PRIZE: For now, my friends, in the humble beginnings of the BOX OFFICE CHALLENGE, the prize is this: the champion of the week will have their selection of any film, which I will watch and review on both sites.  Don’t believe me?  See also: http://reelrhino.blogspot.com/2011/04/biebers-never-say-never-redux-watch.html

Yep…that happened.

GOOD LUCK TO ALL AND MAKE YOUR PICKS SOON!

Reel Rhino

 

Comments (2)

Advertise Here
Advertise Here