Prometheus, the official line is “…a team of explorers discover a clue to the origins of mankind on Earth, leading them on a thrilling journey to the darkest corners of the universe.” We all know this is the highly anticipated prequel to the legendary Alien franchise. Nuff said.

I sooooo wanted to love, Love, LOVE! this movie, but it was not meant to be. Let’s start with what I like about Prometheus. I can call this film visually EPIC in the very definition of the word. You get the feeling you are watching an EVENT. Something important and worth every second of your time. It is absolutely gorgeous and expansive. Too bad the crew doesn’t convey that wonder.

And for the bad… As grand as the film work is, the story and characters are lacking. Important points and events are introduced and never explained. The key word of the last sentence is “important.” Not a little detail like what does one eat after a long hyper sleep, but more like, “Hey, I wonder what killed off all these superior life forms that we traversed the galaxy to find, and finding out may be very relevant to surviving this mission.”

We get the now familiar artificial life form (Michael Fassbender) and meeting of the hodge podge support crew in the cargo bay, getting briefed about the mission. But we never really get to know the “red shirt” crew. The only memorable portrayal is Fifield (Sean Harris). Apparently throughout time, no one actually knows what the hell they are signing up for that involves deep space travel and years of your life. They just go, “Yeah, I’m in,” and jump in a clear tube to sleep for the journey.

A symptom of space travel seems to be a loss of common sense, on a human level and as a scientist. Charlie Holloway (Logan Marshall-Green), one of the lead archeologists, becomes infected, and what does he say? NOTHING! He is totally aware that something is not right, and continues on. The only benefit I can see of this is to give Meredith Vickers (Charlize Theron), an opportunity to show some intelligence and not let him back on the ship when he is transforming. Another symptom must be not giving a shit. If you get to the point when discovering new, sentient life forms on another planet and ground breaking information about human history becomes blasé, I guess you can say you have done it all.

If I had to choose a single phrase for Prometheus, it would be gorgeous but underwhelming. I expected more of a cohesive story. It wasn’t as bad as watching Lost, but in the ballpark. If you just sit back and take in the wonder, and don’t pay attention to the details, this can be an enjoyable film. Given the mythology that has been created, I feel the details are crucial. The imminent sequel holds promise, but then so did this.


Dark Shadows

I have never seen the original Dark Shadows, so I am coming in to this with only the trailers giving me pre-conceived notions. Being a Johnny Depp and Tim Burton vehicle, I expected more. All I could mange was a few giggles and stifle even more yawns.

Barnabus’ (Johnny Depp) family came to America in 1750 to expand their fishing business. The expansion was a success and the town was named Collinsport. Barnabas becomes a man, and Angelique  falls in love with him. She expresses her love to Barnabus, but it is unrequited. He instead falls in love with Josette. Angelique kills Barnabas’ parents, causes Josette to kill herself and curses him to be a vampire. (From what I have learned about vampire lore from books and other movies, a vampire is not created by casting a spell.) At some point after the curse, Angelique gets a mob to attack and bury the monster. He is set free in 1972 to find the family business and estate in ruins. Angie and her “ancestors”, have been running the company that has dominated Collinsport since Barnabas had “gone away.” (They neglected to say who exactly took over the business as the principal players were out of commission.)

The story seems to be based on 3 shaky topics- showing how comically out of place Barnabas is, needless sex references (specifically with Angelique [Eva Green] &  Doctor Hoffman), and depicting how obsessed Angelique is. More on this later…

The other players had potential to add to the story that was never explored, or was left on the virtual cutting room floor. It felt like everyone was just a backdrop to support Depp’s greatness. Here’s who we could have learned more about:

David Collins (Gulliver McGrath) – Descendant of Barnabas who is considered troubled because he can see and speak to ghosts, specifically his dead mother.

Dr Julia Hoffman (Helena Bonham Carter) – She is the consistently hung over, onsite psychiatrist who has been treating David for his “condition.” (There doesn’t seem to be much of a condition, except in the conversations about it.)

Roger Collins (Jonny Lee Miller) – David’s never present dad. We do learn one more important thing about his character later…

Carolyn Stoddard (Chloë Grace Moretz) – David’s older sister. A 15 yr old growing up in an unquestionably crazy situation, with nowhere to turn.

Victoria Winters (Bella Heathcote) – David’s nanny, as if having your own live in doctor is not enough.

Willie Loomis (Jackie Earle Haley) – The drunken, underutilized caretaker.

David’s mother (Josephine Butler) – Or should I say the ghost of. She was introduced to us as a child masquerading as a ghost. A ghost in a sheet. Really? I think they wrote her in so she could be recalled to help add absolutely nothing to the haphazard, confusing ending.

What I took away from this is that no matter how powerful, successful, pretty or smart a woman is, she can still be monumentally crazy. 200 years after Barnabus’ imprisonment, Angie has built an empire, is (still) a witch, and haves whatever she wants. Except the love of a single man. When she learns that Barnabas has risen, she attempts to get him back.

I don’t know where Tim was headed with this one, but he missed the exit.

The Avengers

Forget for a minute that I am a fanboy… (yeah, right.) The Avengers is a good, entertaining movie. It does for super hero groups what Heath Ledger did for the Joker, Zack Snyder for Watchmen, and J.J. Abrams for Star Trek (2009). It transcends its geeky, isolated, basement roots and brings it into mainstream acceptability. It makes me really want to see super heroes duking it out on the streets of New York. Yes, it would be dangerous, but so is a tornado. Doesn’t make it any less awe inspiring.

Let’s run down the list of what we get…

Joss Whedon-The director and brilliant creator that brought us Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, and Firefly. The man is a genius at fleshing out characters and going them another dimension. These heroes were already in place, he brought them to another level. We get a fight and dialogue scene involving Loki (Tom Hiddleston) and Thor (Chris Hemsworth)that was better than the whole Thor movie. Joss is also good at throwing in some twists… There are 2 I’m pretty sure you won’t be expecting, and the first happens in the opening 10 minutes. His use of cultural relevance is spot on. Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) tells Captain America to have Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo) “suit up.” (This works for two reasons, and when you see the movie, I hope you’ll understand.)

Action- Not only that, but action we can see!!! There were 2 instances that caught my eye where I went, “what was that?”, but only a few measly seconds. The rest of the time, we can see Natasha Romanoff, (Scarlett Johansson) the Black Widow, kicking ass. We can tell that Captain America(Chris Evans) just threw a punch, Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) even gets into the fray. As a special bonus, Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) is bas ass! No stupid purple mask thing and dorky costume. He is a top S.H.I.E.L.D agent. Comic book fans may recognize some of their favorite panels brought to life. They may not be literal translations, but you definitely know where they came from. (Pssst-> Iron Man and Thor…) And a nice nod to the Marvel Ultimate Alliance video game.

Comic Book tech- We get a freakin’ Helicarrier! Not some lame ass ship with a S.H.I.E.L.D. logo painted on the side, bit the full blown aircraft carrier that can fly! Did I mention the Quinjets? I don’t remember them being called that by name, be they are there.

Story- What does it take to give us a good hero(s)? A good villain. Loki, The Master of Lies has made his way back to earth. I really can’t tell too much here without spoiling some things, let’s just say his return is like an onion…

Balance- The mix of action, humanity, humor, depth, and story are spot on. I didn’t get bored when they were “dialoguing.” One of the things I appreciate is that is an ensemble cast, and all characters are used well.

What we don’t get is War Machine. Unless you count the 6 yr old that dressed up.

Get a great director (who knows comics and imagination), story, actors, RIGHT & PURPOSEFUL special effects, and what do you get? A huge summer blockbuster that I will gladly go see again. I admit, I did not see it in IMAX or 3D. I have been told they are good, but I don’t think it is required to enjoy the awesomeness. I predict, (ok, hoping like crazy and crossing my fingers), that on the strength of his handling of the Avengers, Joss will be able to revive the Wonder Woman project…

FYI, before there was Siri, there was Jarvis… : )

Update: I’ve seen this movie for a second time, and I have to say, the 3D wasn’t atrocious! Much like the special effects, it looks like it was utilized correctly.

The Five Year-Engagement

Ugh… Ouch… *gut punch*…

Yep, that pretty much sums up how I feel about The Five-Year Engagement. Instead of just being critical, I have a way to fix this film. Make it a short. Use the first 15, and the last 10 min, then it would be great. Now I shall get back to the negative.

This was so bad on many fronts, I’m not sure where to start… I think main area of suckiness is that it didn’t know where to go. Tom Solomon (Jason Segel) is a successful sous chef of a San Francisco restaurant. Violet Barnes (Emily Blunt) is a student who gets accepted into a grad program in Michigan. Tom give up a promotion, (that he learns of after he has decided to move with Violet), to be the head chef of the owners new restaurant, The Clambar. As you can infer from the title, the engagement process is not a smooth one, and gets dragged out for, you guessed it, 5 years.

During this time, Tom is unable to be happy. He has given up his dream to follow the woman he loves across the country. His and Violet’s journey is not funny nor interesting. It’s sad and depressing. It seems more like a lesson in not being stupid about giving up the awesome things you have in a desperate hope that a single individual is the one for you.

While in Michigan, the best job Tom is able to find is at a sandwich shop. A large step down from sous chef. As the years go by, he adopts some hobbies including hunting, camping, brewing his own mead, and sweater knitting. During his hunting phase, he dresses everything in the house in carcasses of animals. And grows out lamb chop side burns. Violet has a moment where her professor misreads her signals and goes in for the kiss. This creates more unfunny issues. Jason Segal is also in danger of becoming the male version of Julia Roberts, right behind Hugh Grant.

They ultimately break up and try to proceed. Tom back in San Fran, with Violet staying in Michigan. MORE depression…

Here comes the spoilage, they eventually get together!!! Back to the goodness of this film. The opening is cute, where Tom has an elaborate plan to propose, during which flashbacks are inserted to show how they met at a costume party. Now jump to the end->  Violet has an argument with her sister Suzie (Alison Brie) while they use the voices of Elmo and Cookie Monster. Violet hatches an elaborate plan to propose to Tom. And if he accepts, they will get married right then. He does, they do, and it is truly heartwarming!

Jason, JuddNicholas, I expected more. The shock and awww… idea used in previous movies just doesn’t work here. Tom falling asleep in the snow and losing a toe. The aforementioned house covered in carcasses. Violet getting shot with a crossbow. Grandparents dying off before the wedding. Using Alex (Chris Pratt) as the abrasive comedic foil, he’s too abrasive. Oh yeah, forgot to mention he knocks up Suzie early in the movie and they end up married and ultimately ends up a good father and husband. Yet he retains too much abrasiveness to become likable. I’d rather see the characters die in a firey train wreck, then I might have some sympathy.


Think Like a Man

Think Like a Man is based on the best selling book by Steve Harvey. I actually thought him being the author was part of the script. That should tell you how much I travel the relationship aisle of the book store… In spite of myself, I found this to be somewhat enjoyable. I say that because I have a looong standing aversion to romantic comedies. Why? I’m glad you asked… From my perspective, they suck. More on that later.

The premise is the women are tired of the way their relationships are going, and discover Steve Harvey’s book. The women follow the advice and get the men to fall in line. The men find out the women are using the book, and start to use it against them. The plot focuses on 5 (but should really be 6) men and the women they are interacting with. The Player, Zeke (Romany Malco). Self explanatory… Non Committal Guy, Jeremy (Jerry Ferrara). Jeremy has been dating Kristen (Gabrielle Union) for 9 years their place still looks like a frat house. The Dreamer, Dominic (Michael Ealy). He’s a great guy, changes careers often, with no real plans for the future. The Mama’s Boy, Michael (Terrence Jenkins). Soon to be Divorced Guy, Cedric (Kevin Hart). His character tends to go a bit over the top for me, and is one of the reasons I can’t totally invest. I laughed at your initial antics, move on. We get it. Quit milking the joke. Much like I am over emphasizing this topic. And finally, Happily married Guy, Bennett (Gary Owen). He is a balance of Cedric- witty, dry and straight to the point. And way under utilized.

What was so special about the predictable and formulaic love story that made me not hate it? You are so full of good questions today! I felt that portions were almost believable. If the “90 day rule” had not had such an onscreen presence, I could have overlooked the (less) compressed time frame that is such a reality killer in romantic comedies.  I won’t say the characters were totally developed, or that any performance is worthy of an Oscar nomination. I did laugh and it flowed pretty well. I probably over identified with too many of the situations, (except the mama’s boy). They seem to have left out Dated Too Many Crazy Women Guy. That would have been me!

I appreciated that some of the relationships were already in progress. Not everyone went from “Meet to Love” in 2.9 days. This is probably the biggest complaint I have about romantic comedies, couples falls in love too quickly, I cannot suspend that much reality. Star Trek has done a better job of making me believe that man can travel through space, and most other reaches are humanoid. Maybe its my belief structure. Having lived as long as I have, met as many women as I have, gone on as many dates as I have, it all seems like crap when they meet for 15 min and are instantly in LOVE! Add all sorts of issues that are only somewhat funny in movies, but would be intolerable in real life to the mix, and you might as well add a unicorn. The average romantic comedy should be rebilled as fantasy.

Many of the characters, men and women, had some sort of evolution. Granted, they were all on almost the exact same time line, and it came pretty conveniently, but there appeared to be some progress.


In the year 2079, apparently man is still alive and building REALLY stupid prisons.

Lockout has a few issues in addition to the opening line… Virtually every scene or character reminds me of someone from another movie. The films that immediately come to mind that served as direct source material are Escape from New York, Demolition ManFifth Element, Star Wars, Battlestar Galactica, Blade Runner and probably Batman Begins as well.

You can read the one sentence, 47 word synopsis on the Lockout official website. I’m going to jump straight to the plot chasms. (AKA spoiler alerts.) A maximum security prison, in space, for prisoners in suspended animation. They escape and shoot one of the techs, it is revealed the orbit has started to decay because it is a fly by wire system, which is constantly on the verge of falling out of the sky, kept aloft by said dead tech. Really? Wouldn’t all the gunfire destroying important systems been more plausible? Who is going to have a multi billion dollar installation kept in orbit by “red shirt” tech Smith? As it turns out, the decaying orbit was a plot point to force them off the prison, or else it would have dragged on forever. Did I mention the prison has an incredibly effective Battlstar Galactica level defense system, activated by one button. But the Low Orbit Police have no way of over riding it?

The breakout begins when Emilie Warnock (Maggie Grace), the President’s daughter, flies up to the prison on a humanitarian mission. One of her secret service men takes a weapon into the interrogation room. I thought he was supposed to be a professional… The interrogation room is divided by a wall with bullet proof glass, but the Emilie’s secret service men are on the side of the prisoner?!?! Hydell gets mouthy > SS man slams his head into table > Hydell takes his gun > SS men on Emilie’s side fire > gun fire from Hydell’s side > explosion from Emilie’s side of the protective glass. WTF? It all happened so quick and close up, it’s hard to follow the action.

Hydell (Joseph Gilgun, known as Rudy Wade from Misfits) is the inmate being interviewed by Emilie. He’s quite deranged and the little brother of the man who assumes control of the prisioners, Alex (Vincent Regan). If you are trying to be a criminal mastermind, and your brother is a lunatic who is probably responsible for landing you in suspended animation prison, would it not be better to put him down? Family ties can only go so far until they choke you.

This film was a jumbled mess. Which is odd, because the poster says, “From the producers of Taken“, which I really enjoyed, and the original idea/partial screenplay credit goes to Luc Besson, who has turned out some awesome stuff.  I generally like Guy Pearce (who plays lead character Snow), but he does not quite pull off the bad ass, wise cracking pseudo hero.

On a (partially) positive note, most of the special effects in space were somewhat decent, but an unnecessary motorcycle chase scene was absolutely laughable.


John Carter

John CarterBefore I start this review, I would like to make sure I have the attention of the person(s) responsible for Star Wars – Episodes 1, 2 & 3. Are you out there, are you listening? Good… The massive [correct use of ] technology was required to tell this type of story, it was not a vehicle to show off how much time was put into design and computer processing ability. And “Oh, yeah… let’s try and build crappy story around it.”

John Carter (Taylor Kitsch) is a normal earth man, and a civil war vet, who finds himself transported to Mars (known as Barsoom to the inhabitants) and caught between warring factions. As Mars has lower gravity than Earth, John soon finds he has some enhanced abilities. Upon his arrival, he is discovered by Tars Tarkas, (Willem Dafoe) leader of the Tharks. Tharks are a race of tall, bipedal, four armed, green skinned, nomadic beings that inhabit Mars.

Did I forget to mention the Humans, (or at least human-like)? Yeah, there are some of those too. I was scratching my head about this, and then eventually let it go. There are two factions of “humans”, the city of Helium, of whom Deja Thoris (Lynn Collins), is their princess. (Deja is freaking incredible!) Sab Than (Dominic West), is the leader of Zodanga, a traveling city of destruction and the sworn enemy of Helium. Mark Strong makes a very memorable appearance as Matai Shang, a mysterious manipulator with (obviously) his own interests in the outcome of the conflict.

I cannot speak to the books by Edgar Rice Burroughs on which this movie is based, but the following comments are grounded in seeing this movie today, and the films that have come before it. Is John Carter the most imaginative piece of work I’ve ever seen? No. Is space travel/teleportation a unique concept? No. Do we see shades of other scifi, fantasy, love stories and aliens that will look familiar? Most definitely. Then why should I see this movie? As the answer parents give when they don’t want to explain everything, “Because I said so…”

John Carter has some flaws and a few inconsistencies, but I was so involved in enjoying myself, I didn’t care. It is fun, engaging, fanciful and the characters actually make me give a shit about what is happening to them. There will most likely not be any academy award nominations for best dramatic anything, but you will come away having enjoyed that 2hr 19min.

I have purposefully avoided focusing on some of the flaws of the film, because for the type of story and adventure John Carter is, I do not think they are important. Instead of trying to pick them out, sit back, relax and prepare to whisked away. Pay attention to Earth side story as well. It is important background (and just as entertaining as the off planet story) of how John Carter has become, and will become, the man we see on Mars. The Earth story also includes a special appearance by one of my favorites, Bryan Cranston.

3D is still useless. It blends ok in normal scenes, (I still don’t feel like I can reach out and touch the flying ship.) In action sequences is an abysmal and unnecessary distraction. Save the extra $ and see it in 2D.

Safe House

I’m not sure in which genre to categorize this film… Is it a thriller, a drama, action? Or a bit of all three. And very well done in all respects.

Tobin Frost (Denzel Washington) is a CIA operative that has gone rogue and has been at large for about 10 years. In this time, he has uncovered secrets, sold information, and caused havoc for the CIA and beyond.

Matt Weston (Ryan Reynolds) has been the “housekeeper” in an extremely quiet section of Johannesburg for almost a year and he is itching to get out in the field. Matt’s handler, David Barlow (Brendan Gleeson) explains that he has no field experience. But to get a field position, he needs experience, but cannot get experience because he is stuck at the safe house.  See his dilemma?

Tobin has been in Johannesburg, doing what he does best and has come up against a situation he could not immediately escape. So his best option was to walk in the US embassy and be taken into custody. From there he becomes a “houseguest” of Weston’s.

And then, “SURPRISE!”, Weston gets his wish. Somehow, the super secret Safe House has been compromised by the very same people who nearly captured Frost earlier. Like a good host, Weston escorts his guest to new accommodations. (And Robert Patrick gets Steven Seagal‘d, a la Executive Decision.)

While in transit, there are a few bumps, bruises, gunshots and deaths, and most importantly, a mystery to be solved. How was Frost found?

It was good to see Ryan Reynolds acting again! From some of his recent movies, I was getting the impression he was going down the road that Jim Carrey had named after him, “Be the same Freakin Character, but in a Different Movie” lane.

Denzel does a very good job as the quiet, cerebral, and physically capable asset who “…literally rewrote the book on interrogation.” He has to be all of these things for us to believe he has survived hiding from one of, if not the most capable organizations at tracking people in the world.

Nora Arnezeder plays Ana Moreau, Weston’s girlfriend. While she does not have a large part, I feel it is important and well executed. This time, the love story is germane to the story, so I am not opposed to it.

I only noticed a few logic flaws in Safe House. The most glaringly obvious of which was when Weston called his girlfriend from a public phone, the CIA did not lock on and track the source of the call. The reason this is a “problem” for me is the order to watch the girlfriend was given by Harlan Whitford (Sam Shepard), in a room full of agents, using multi million dollar technology to track Weston and Frost, and nobody is watching the phone?!?!? (And on that note, why was Weston stupid enough not to use a burn phone?)

The only other complaint I have is the camera work. Too much MTV quick cuts and Bourne Supremacy hand held crap, particularly during the fight scenes. Both Denzel and Ryan have been around the block enough to know how to handle themselves, let them show us!

In Time

Yeah… Let’s start off by saying I like Justin Timberlake, and Amanda Seyfried is ridiculously cute. But liking and looks are not enough to save “In Time.”

The story is set in an indiscriminate era that visually reminds me of Equilibrium, where time is literally the new currency. Presumably to cure overcrowding, the aging gene stops at 25. At that time, a visual biological clock starts a countdown of one year. That amount can be increased or decreased by working or paying off bills. The “rich” have a lot of time and the poor have to scrounge and live day to day. You get the idea? Good.

Will Salas (Justin Timberlake) is a working man who saves Henry Hamilton (Matt Bomer) from being robbed in a bar. Henry is an old man who is basically ready to die. Don’t forget no one appears older than 25. Henry (through a much used, but not explained process of control) transfers almost all but a last few moments of his time to Will. Will is assumed to have killed Henry and later goes on the run. But not before he is unable to save his mother (Olivia Wilde) who dramatically dies in his arms and he becomes angry at the system.

While on the run, but before he knows he is being pursued, Will meets the daughter of Phillipe Weiss (Vincent Kartheiser), Sylvia (Amanda Seyfried). Phillipe is one of the richest men in country? World? I’m not sure. Sylvia is also upset at the system. Specifically how the rich are alive for however long they can afford, but they do not live the life they have. From here, it becomes more incoherent. And the whole checking how much time is left, and transferring of time gets played out very quickly.

For a technologically advanced time, no one has a cell phone. A poor plot point is completely reliant on a pay phone… During this crappily executed point, Raymond Leon (Cillian Murphy), a Timecop, is shot. He lays on the ground, apparently seriously wounded. Next scene he is walking out of zone 12, bleeding and injured. (he went in with no back up and his vehicle was stolen). The next scene seems to forget the last 2 ever happened and no indication of a wound ever shows up again.

More items pop up but never seem to pay off or make sense. If a person won a windfall, twice, what would they do? Will’s father and his legacy… (He is mentioned multiple times, and the associated reveal is LAME) Can one or two persons by themselves, without a substantial plan, really make a difference? How much is too much blatant exposition? (To cover the plot holes that were created). How can passengers in a convertible that flips and rolls multiple times, with no seat belts on, not fall out? Is this supposed to be Bonnie & Clyde? Or Robin Hood? Or Romeo & Juliet?

I will say that I liked the cars. Mostly old school and muscle cars with flat black paint and modified lighting. The only  thing that will make me feel better is “Logan’s Run” which it seems this movie was inspired from. Watch the extended trailer, it’s more cohesive and entertaining than the movie.

Captain America

Captain America joins Iron Man and Batman Begins in the ranks of damn good comic book movies! Hollywood is restoring a little faith for this fanboy.

Captain (Chris Evans) primarily takes place during WWII, and does an admirable job of showing patriotism without being overly so. Instead of focusing on Hitler’s attempt to dominate, The First Avenger’s nemesis is the Red Skull (Hugo Weaving [who isn’t abusing the speech patterns of Agent Smith]). He is the leader of Hydra, the German version of the war era (and more succesful) X-files/special weapons division. The Red Skull has been on the hunt for, and has found, an energy source of the gods which will enable him to wipe out those he believes to be unworthy. Which is pretty much EVERYONE, including Hitler.

We are treated with an actual hero’s journey (Thor, take note) that didn’t take place in 48 hours… Steve Rogers must deal with his desire yet inability to be recruited into the war effort and then how to be the man he was never meant to be.

I would categorize this as an action drama. It’s got enough good action to keep many entertained, but the right amount of drama so it does not pander to the lowest common denominator.

This may be my shortest review ever, but what can I say beyond it is worth seeing. This character is one of the most prolific in comic book history and his story is well known. This adaptation is well told. And of course brings us up to today in preparation for The Avengers

Also stars Hayley Atwell, Sebastian Stan, Tommy Lee Jones, Dominic Cooper, and Stanley Tucci.