Category: Movies

Movie Review: RED

PG-13, Summit Entertainment, 111 Minutes

Cast: Bruce Willis, Hellen Mirren, John Malkovich, Brian Cox, Morgan Freeman, Richard Dreyfuss, Karl Urban, Mary Louis Parker.

RED (Retired and Extremely Dangerous) is a silly, sometimes funny, action packed piece of popcorn entertainment. That’s not necessarily a bad thing either especially when you have such a game cast of veteran actors in it like this one.

Bruce Willis is Frank Moses, a former CIA operative who has been retired for many years. Frank goes about living his dull and hum drum life while flirting it up with a phone operator (Mary Louis Parker) who is our hero’s initially unwilling love interest.

Excitement comes back to his life when a task force is sent to his house to kill him. Frank takes them out in good old “John Mclane” style, picks up his love interest who he believes is also now in danger and then goes on a cross country trip to round up the rest of the geriatric gun toting gang that he used to work with.

The “old gang” includes his wizened old buddy played by Morgan Freeman, the lovably psychotic and paranoid John Malkovich (having way too much fun here), and the grand dame herself, Hellen Mirren.

Brian Cox also joins our group and has fun here as a cold war relic who has now warmed to his old enemies and has some kind of past relationship with Helen Mirren.

A CIA Agent (well played by Karl Urban) is hot on their tracks while Frank and his team look for answers as to why a hit has been ordered on them.  The plot beyond this point does not hold much substance and the movie is really just an excuse to see all these veteran actors having fun shooting really large guns and blowing lots of things up–all of which they do very well.

The music score for the movie really bothered me as it sounded corny and outdated, especially when there are actually some really thrilling action sequences in this movie–which would have been elevated by a kick ass music score.

Overall, RED isn’t a movie that will be remembered much but still delivers the goods because of so many great actors cast in it that just have fun with their roles. It’s worth the trip to the cinema for that alone, so you can join in on the fun too. 3/5 stars.


PG-13, Columbia Pictures, 121 minutes

Directed By David Fincher, Music by Trent Reznor, Starring: Jesse Eisenberg, Andrew Garfield, Justin Timberlake, Max Minghella, Rooney Mara, Armie Hammer, Brenda Song.

Well if you want explosions, sex and violence then this is obviously not the movie for you.

The Social Network is a slow film that is built upon a very contemporary subject (Facebook now has over 500 million users), an excellent ensemble cast, good direction from David Fincher and a great music score from NIN’s very own Trent Reznor.

The film chronicles Mark Zuckerberg’s (played efficiently by Jesse Eisenberg) founding of Facebook in 2003 and the trials and tribulations along the way.

The film opens with Mark breaking up with his girlfriend Erika (Rooney Mara), while he is still a student at Harvard University. In retaliation Mark blogs nasty things about her and then gets the idea to create a website to rate the attractiveness of female undergraduates. He hacks into Harvard’s database and with the help of his best friend Eduardo Saverin, (Andrew Garfield in a stand out performance here) uses an algorithm to create a page called FaceMash where male students choose which of the girls is more attractive. The site becomes an instant success with over 22,000 hits but also results in part of Harvard’s Database crashing.

Mark’s popularity increases as a result of this and brings him to the attention of  Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss (a brilliant Armie Hammer in dual roles), who are identical twins that want Mark to help them program a new website that they have been planning.

Mark comes up with his own idea which is “The Facebook” and together with Eduardo he founds this. The Winklevoss twins accuse him of stealing their idea and come after him, eventually taking him to court.

In the meantime, The Facebook is expanding more and more, and Mark and Eduardo are introduced to the co-founder of Napster, Sean Parker ;(a solid Justin Timberlake), who although a bit of a party animal impresses Mark as he has the same vision of Facebook as he does. Eduardo however, does not share the same ideas so their relationship becomes strained.

The movie essentially revolves around the legal cases that Mark Zuckerberg had to go through while at the same time showing us the origin of Facebook in flashbacks. What makes the film entertaining is biting dialogue and exceptional performances. Jesse Eisenberg is good here, but the real stand outs are Andrew Garfield who brings a real depth of emotion to his character and Armie Hammer who is flat out hilarious as the Winklevoss twins.

While this film is a drama–and a slow one at that–the acting keeps you going and because the dialogue is so good you are caught up in the moment. There is actually a lot of humor in the film as well.

The Social Network is not really a movie I would see in the cinema as I go out to be “WOWED”, but it is a very fine piece of film making all round and a movie that certainly should be seen.  4/5 Stars.

Movie Review: The Town

R (for violence, language and sexual content), Warner Bros, 123 minutes.

Written and Directed by Ben Affleck. Starring: Ben Affleck, Jeremy Renner, Blake Lively, Jon Hamm, Chris Cooper, Pete Postlethwaite.

The Town is Ben Affleck’s 2nd directional effort (after 2007s Gone Baby Gone) and is an impressive piece of work. This film could have easily been just another run of the mill crime thriller but it is given a boost by a smarter script than usual and exciting action sequences that keep you on the edge of your seat. My only real complaint is that I felt it a bit too long and thus moved at a slower pace than I would have preferred.

The film is about four men — Doug MacRay (Ben Affleck in good form here), his best friend; Jem Coughlin (a brilliant Jeremy Renner), Gloansy, (Slaine) and Dez Elden (Owen Burke) from the tough streets of Charlestown Massachusetts who rob banks for a living.

The film opens with a bank heist where after a silent alarm is triggered, they take the bank manager Claire Heesey, (Rebecca Hall) hostage, Once they have escaped they let her go only to find that she lives in their same neighborhood. Fearing the cops may get to them through her Jem wants to take her out so Doug says he will handle it himself. Instead of doing this he befriends Claire and they soon begin a relationship.

In the meantime, FBI Agent Adam Frawley (Jon Hamm) is in charge of the case and soon finds out that they all work for a crook called Fergie (Pete Postlethwaite).  Agent Frawley is then in hot pursuit of the gang as they continue to rob banks.

Chris Cooper is grossly underused in this film, playing Doug’s father who is locked away in jail. His scene is literally a few minutes long.

Blake Lively was surprisingly good in her role as Krista Coughlin, the sister of Jem and ex girlfriend of Doug.

There is some very witty dialogue in the film and good performances from all, especially Jeremy Renner and Blake Lively as stated above.

The action sequence are very realistic and executed very well, which is again kudos to Ben Affleck’s directing. There is a particular scene where the gang are escaping a bank robbery dressed as Nun’s that is very thrilling and even has a hilarious finale to it.

This is a solid film, with good writing, good direction and good acting. An entertaining night out at the movies and a film that has me looking out for what Ben Affleck is going to do next. 3/5 stars.

Movie Review: Machete

R (for strong graphic violence, language and nudity), 20th  Century Fox, 105 minutes.

Written, produced and directed by Robert Rodriguez. Cast: Danny Trejo, Steven Segal, Jennifer Alba, Michelle Rodriguez, Lindsay Lohan, Jeff Fahey, Cheech Marin, Don Johnson and Robert De Niro.

Machete is an expansion of the fake trailer that was shown in the Grind House movies (Death Proof and Planet Terror) from Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino in 2007.

Machete continues the B movie and exploitation style from Grind House and boy oh boy, does Rodriguez have fun with it!

If there’s a lady out there that enjoys this movie then my hat is off to you. This is definitely an over the top macho movie primarily for a male audience that is much like the recently released Expendables–yet far more ridiculous and fun.

Danny Trejo stars in his first lead role as the title character which he also played in the Spy Kids franchise also directed by Rodriguez. Trejo has actually had roles in almost every film directed by Robert Rodriguez and he is perfectly cast here. He gives a silent yet deadly performance as Machete an ex-Federale who’s family was murdered by the Drug Lord Torrez, (played by Steven Segal who still knows how to wield a sword).

The film exploits extreme bloody violence and beautiful naked women with so much style, that you just have to be entertained and at the same time it even manages to give a political message about illegal immigrants coming into Amercia, which actually gets you thinking.

The basic plot here involves Machete being hired by a ruthless businessman called Michael Booth, (Jeff Fahey who is just as good here as he was in Planet Terror) to assassinate Senator John Mclaughlin, (Robert De Niro who just has fun with his role) a man with a major grudge against illegal immigrants crossing the border from Mexico. Machete soon finds he has been set up and gets caught up with Santana Rivera (Jessica Alba) a beautiful Immigrations Officer who is torn between enforcing the law and doing what is right and Luz, (Michelle Rodriguez) a taco-truck lady with a rebellious spirit and revolutionary heart.  Don Johnson shows up as Von Jackson a twisted border vigilante leading a small army but makes little use of his role.

Lindsay Lohan is actually fun to watch here in her supporting role as a socialite who becomes a Nun and has a penchant for guns.

I will not deny that Machete  is completely absurd. Yes, for the most part it is, but that is what makes it so wildly entertaining in the first place. Or at least, it was for me. I say: ladies stay away, (unless you like this sort of thing) and Men: flock in and crack open a beer.  3/5 stars

Movie Review: The Switch

PG-13, Mirimax Films, 101 Minutes.

Directed by Josh Gordon, Will Speck. Cast: Jason Bateman, Jennifer Aniston, Jeff Goldblum, Juliette Lewis, Patrick Wilson.

The Switch is not what it seems. The trailer makes it look like another romantic comedy. But truthfully this film is not that funny at all.  It’s more of an adult dramedy and overall is slow and has several plot faults. That said, there is still something here that makes it watchable.

The premise is a simple one: Wally (Jason Bateman) and Kassie (Jennifer Aniston) are platonic best friends. Worried about her age she announces that she is going to have a baby through a sperm donor. Wally objects as he has always secretly been in love with her, but he doesn’t have the courage to say it.  Patrick Wilson plays the sperm donor, who is a married man at the time of the donation.  At a party celebrating this occasion, Wally gets hammered and in a drunken haze, he switches his own sperm with the original. Kassie then gets a job out of state and moves away and neither of them really stay in touch much.

Cue 7 years later. Kassie moves back to New York with her 6 year old son Sebastian (played by the adorable Thomas Robinson) in tow, who just so happens to exhibit the same mannerisms as Wallie, because he is in fact his son. The sperm donor comes back into Kassie’s life too, who happens to no longer be married.

What happens next is quite predictable, but even so I found myself willing to continue watching and was even pleasantly moved by a few scenes.

This is ultimately Jason Bateman’s film, who offers a subtle and touching performance. The moments where he bonds with his son and how he handles his own insecurities are very real and something you can actually relate to. I have nothing against Jennifer Anistion (who I loved in Friends) , its just she keeps being typecast  in the same role, and i’ve grown tired of it.

The film is given an extra boost by supporting roles from Jeff Goldblum and Juliette Lewis (both brilliant and underrated actors in my opinion), as Wally’s and Kassie’s respective best friends, who have some of the films best lines.

If you want laughs then I don’t recommend The Switch, but if you DO want to see Jason Bateman in top form and watch a sweet and touching movie made for adults, then this is worth the trip to the cinema. 2/5 stars.

Movie Review: The Expendables

R (for strong violence and language), Lionsgate, 103 minutes.

Written and Directed by Sylvester Stallone. Cast: Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Jet Li, Dolph Lundgren, Mickey Rourke, Bruce Willis, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Eric Roberts, Terry Crews, Randy Couture, Steve Austin.

What does the Expendables have going for it? Well first off, look at that cast. It’s any action movie lovers personal wet dream. Truth is several of those actors only show up in cameo roles, but who cares? They’re all together and its the first time we’ve seen something like this on the big screen of such magnitude.

The Expendables offers exactly what you expect. It is a testosterone soaked, high octane action-war film with non-stop explosions, blood and guts, macho speeches and fight sequences. Maybe it’s the giddy teenager in me, but I had a blast watching it.  Its a great tribute to all the blockbuster action films of the 1980s and 1990s that a lot of us grew up watching.

Honestly, the plot does not even matter in a film like this. But in a nutshell, it is about a group of elite mercenaries tasked with a mission to overthrow a Latin American dictator.  Barney Ross (Stallone) is the group leader. Lee Christmas (Statham) is the knives expert, Yin Yang (Li) is the martial arts expert, (although Jet li’s skills were a bit unused in this film, I thought), Gunner Jensen (Lundgren) is the Sniper, (and a delight to see on the big screen again), Hale Ceaser (Terry Crews) is the weapons specialist and Toll Road (Randy Couture), is their demolitions guy.

There’s a delicious cameo from the Governator himself and Bruce Willis, together with Sylvester Stallone. It’s all dialogue but it was actually reminiscent of that scene from “Heat” when De Niro and Pacino chat in the diner. Amongst all the action and intensity it was hands down the best scene in “Heat” and I felt the same way here.

Mickey Rourke is also a lot of fun playing Tool, a former member of The Expendables. He’s about the only one who brings any real acting chops to his character, which is why I guess he got that oscar nomination.

Eric Roberts also shows up as a corrupted ex-CIA agent called James Monroe who is involved with the corrupt dictator that they are bringing down. Many people forget that he had also starred in some hit action films from the early 1990s, (Best of the Best, anyone?)

The action sequences are well executed and there are some REALLY big guns involved too. The film throws in numerous fight sequences, numerous car chases and countless explosions. Again it all comes down to the one word that people want to see this film for in the first place: ACTION.

The Expendables delivers just that and in abundance. 3/5 stars

PG-13, Columbia Pictures, 107 Minutes.

Directed by Adam Mckay, Narrated by Ice T, Cast: Will Ferrell, Mark Wahlberg, Dwayne Johnson, Samuel L Jackson, Eva Mendes, Michael Keaton, Steve Coogan.

The Other Guys is a ridiculous and over the top buddy-cop crime comedy that succeeds for that very reason. I won’t say it is particularly memorable, but it is definitely an entertaining night out at the movies.

The film starts off with Detective Danson (Dwayne Johnson) and Detective Highsmith (Samuel L Jackson) who are two hero cops that are highly respected and admired by all. In the opening sequence they are chasing a drug cartel and manage to leave a path of destruction behind them, before the criminals are caught.  They do things “their way”, but they get the job done.

Then there are the other guys. Allen Gamble (Will Ferrell) is a forensics accountant who prefers to stay behind his desk instead of getting any action on the street. His reluctant partner is Terry Hoitz (Mark Wahlberg), a detective who has been stuck with a desk job ever since he accidentally shot Derek Jeter during the 2003 World Series. Hoitz also has a tendency to shout out “i’m a peacock, you’ve got to let me fly” every now and then.

Gamble and Hoitz start to investigate a shady businessman by the name of Dave Ershon (Steve Coogan) and the deeper they get into the case,  the more they find themselves being kidnapped and shot at.

Gamble is married to his beautiful wife Sheila (Eva Mendes) who he only considers to be “plain” to the amazement of his partner. Mark Wahlberg overplays his character too much to the point where I got bored of it. I don’t find him that funny as a comic actor, but when he finally gets some action in this film is when he seems the most formidable as an actor.

Will Ferrell however, is definitely at his comedic best in this movie. Most of the films biggest laughs involve him. There is a good cop-bad cop scenario which is completely over the top but hysterical.  A backstory about his pimping days in college is also hilarious.  There is also random dialogue between Gamble and Hoitz throughout the film, most of which is completely non-sequiter which makes it even more comical.

Michael Keaton is also a lot of fun, playing their Captain Gene Mauch, who also has another job as the store manager at Bed Bath and Beyond. There’s a running joke with their Captain throughout the movie that involves the music group TLC, which I thought was very funny.

The Other Guys isn’t a movie that warrants repeat viewing, but it’s definitely a movie that will grab some laughs and is worth the watch. It’s also Will Ferrell back in shape at his comedic best.  2 /5 stars

PG-13, Universal Pictures, 112 mins.

Directed by Edgar Wright. Cast: Michael Cera, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Kieran Culkin, Chris Evans, Anna Kendrick, Brandon Routh, Jason Schwartzman.

Scott Pilgrim VS the world is an over the top, super cheese puff ball of a movie that plays like a computer game throughout the entire film. In fact only computer geeks will truly appreciate all the game references and I guess that makes me one of them.

I’m actually saying this as a compliment. The movie is dazzling and original and there is even some wit beneath all the corn.

Michael Cera plays Scott Pilgrim a 22 year old geek that plays bass with his band “Sex Bob-Omb” and still manages to be a kind of babe magnet. While I actually like Michael Cera, I do feel his characters are becoming stereotyped. That said, he does a good enough job that you are still rooting for him.

The movie takes off when Scott meets Ramona Flowers (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), who is literally the women of his dreams. In order to win Ramona over, Scott discovers that he must battle and defeat her seven evil exes who are out to kill him.  As ridiculous as they are, the fight sequences done to a computer game theme are actually very entertaining. References to Super Mario Bro’s, Pac-Man, Street Fighter etc are just plain fun.  Chris Evans gives an amusing appearance as Lucas Lee the 2nd evil ex as does Brandon Routh (yes that is Superman), as Todd Ingram the 3rd evil ex.  Jason Schwartzman plays Gideon the 7th evil ex and mastermind of the battle of the exes.

Other notable appearances are from Anna Kendrick who plays Scotts younger sister Stacey Pilgrim and Kieran Culkin in a stand out role as Scotts gay room-mate Wallace. It’s nice seeing the Culkin family represent! Where are those guys?!

Scott Pilgrim VS the world moves at the speed of texting so it keeps you entertained throughout. I had honestly not planned on seeing it as the preview looked too corny, but don’t let that dissuade you. This is a film that does not take itself seriously at all and that is its winning formula. Great fun. 4/5 stars

Movie Review: Despicable Me

G. Universal Studios, 95 minutes.

Director: Pierre Coffin, Cast: Steve Carrell, Jason Segal, Russel Brand, Julie Andrews, Will Arnett, Kristin Wig.

Despicable Me is a highly enjoyable computer animated 3-D comedy that not only provides plenty of laughs but also tugs at your emotions in a way that pleasantly surprised me.

Steve Carrell plays Gru, a man who has proudly held the title of being the worlds #1 Super villian. He is a grouchy and nasty fellow who lives in a big  black house with an underground domain where he keeps all his stolen artifacts and is assisted by an old Scientist called Dr Nefario and his adorable yellow pill shaped minions.

The film opens with a sequence showing that the Pyramids have been stolen and replaced by fake inflatable ones. Gru’s mother (Julie Andrews) calls him to congratulate him for stealing the Pyramids but it turns out that he did not do it. The culprit is in fact Vector, (Jason Segal) a young and upcoming criminal who is attempting to take over the spot of worlds #1 Super Villian.

In retaliation, Gru devises the biggest heist in the world: to steal the Moon. In order to carry this out Gru needs a lot of money so he goes to the bank of Villians to get a loan. There he speaks to the Manager Mr Perkins (Will Arnett) who won’t give him the loan until he acquires the Shrink Ray that he needs in order to accomplish the feat.  Gru then sets off with his minions to get the Shrink Ray but it is stolen from him by Vector in the attempt.

In comes Edith, Agnes and Mongo, three orphan girls who go door to door selling cookies. Gru plans to adopt the girls and use them as pawns for his grand scheme to get the Shrink Ray back and then steal the moon. However, Gru soon finds that their innocent love for him and great desire to have a parent has a profound effect on him.  The movie really does a terrific job of showing the bond that grows between Gru and the three girls and I am not embarrassed at all to say that I found it very touching.

The movie is just flat out fun for the whole family.  It has great voice over performances from all concerned and is also supported by a wicked original music soundtrack. Look out for “Despicable Me 2” which should be hitting theaters in the next year or two.  4/5 stars.

PG-13, Columbia Pictures, 100 minutes

Director: Philip Noyce, Cast: Angelina Jolie, Liev Schreiber, Chiwetol Ejiofor

I find it interesting that “Salt” was originally slotted for Tom Cruise to play the leading role in but when he opted out, the script was rewritten for Angelina Jolie. Nothing wrong with Jolie who does a fine job here, but it would have been a great flick for Cruise to have played and more enjoyable than Knight and Day for me, anyway.

Salt escapes the boundaries of being just another cheesy popcorn flick by good performances from the main characters as well as exciting action sequences that used little CGI (unlike Knight and Day).

Angelina Jolie is Evelyn Salt, a CIA Agent who at the beginning of the movie interrogates a Russian Defector named Orlov. He tells her of a plan called “Day X” where the Russians will launch a major attack against the US starting with the assassination of the Russian President who is in town to attend the funeral of the US Vice President. (The idea here is that the Russians will then retaliate on America or something). While the interrogation is underway an FBI Agent called Peabody (Chiwetol Ejiofor) and Salt’s boss and mentor Winter (a solid Liev Schreiber) are listening in. Orlov then tells Salt that the name of the Russian Sleeper Agent who will kill the President is called Evelyn Salt. She tells him that this is her name and he confirms that this means that she is a Russian Agent.

In fear of being wrongly accused, Salt then makes a dramatic escape and goes on the run to try and clear her name. Winter and Peabody are in hot pursuit of Salt , chasing her all across Washington DC. There are several thrilling chase sequences which keep you entertained as well as some plot twists, which although being quite predictable, were still entertaining.

There’s also plenty of close up shots of those sumptuous lips of Angelina Jolie’s which I have to admit, I could not keep my eyes off. That aside, Jolie definitely does prove again here that she is more than just a lavish sex machine. The lady can act and she plays her role well with both a touch of super cool and urgent desperation.

This is an effective Action/Thriller that was worth the visit to the Cinema and better than I had expected.  3/5 stars