Category: New Releases


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The music score for the movie really bothered me as it sounded corny and outdated, especially when there are actually some really thrilling action sequences in this movie–which would have been elevated by a kick ass music score.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


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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 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

PG-13, 148 minutes

Warner Bros. Director: Christopher Nolan, Cast: Leonardo Dicaprio, Ellen Page, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Tom Hardy, Ken Watanabe, Cillian Murphy and Marion Cotillard.

Inception is a mind bending roller-coaster of a movie that reminded me of the groundbreaking special effects and originality of The Matrix when it was first released in 1999. I won’t say that this is a better film but I will say that is a far more complex and intelligent one for sure.

A review after just one viewing of this film probably does not do it justice as this is a film that deserves to be watched over and over. What is clear is this: Leonardo Dicaprio plays Dom Cobb a thief-for-hire who has the ability to enter peoples minds and extract information from them while they are sleeping.  The opening sequence gives us a taste of this form of dream invasion and is a thrilling spectacle, yet it is just the tip of the iceberg for what is about to come.

Cobb is hired by a japanese businessman called Saito (Ken Watanabe) to break up a rivals business empire through the use of “inception”,  a very dangerous method of implanting an idea in the mind of another rather than just stealing it. Cobb just wants to go home to his kids but he agrees to do this as his last job, so he forms a dream team: Arthur (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) his regular “Point Man”,  Ariadne (a fantastic Ellen Page) the “Architect” who can design the world within the dream and Eedie (a stand out Tom Hardy), the “Forger” who has the ability to morph into other peoples identities in the dream world. Their target is Robert Fischer (Cillian Murphy, also a stand out here) , the son of the ailing energy tycoon that Saito is in conflict with.

What ensues is a breathtaking spectacle of special effects, mystery, suspense and non-stop action as they go deeper and deeper into one another’s subconscious. We see Ariadne folding a city onto itself just because she can. There’s also a fight sequence in mid air, involving Arthur and an attacker which is a direct shout out to The Matrix.

Inception can get a little hard to follow at times, but this only makes it more captivating to watch every scene as the film unfolds. To add even more complexity to the storyline, Cobb has a secret of his own concerning his beautiful and haunting wife (a chilling Marion Cotillard), who keeps showing up in his own subconscious mind while he is on the job and attempting to sabotage him. The reason why is just all part of the mystery.

Dicaprio delivers another solid performance here and is backed up by a terrific supporting cast. Michael Caine also has a small role as Cobbs father in law, but is under-used.

However, the real genius behind Inception is Christopher Nolan, who wrote the screenplay in addition to directing it. His breakthrough film, “Memento” was a head turning mystery which looks pale in comparison to the rich texture and complexity of Inception. This is a movie about the layering of dreams within dreams where you never really know what is reality and what is not and that is exactly where the film leaves you. In my opinion, this is the best movie of the year so far, hands down.  5/5 stars

Review: Grown-Ups

PG-13. 102 minutes.

Columbia Pictures. Director: Dennis Dugan. Cast: Adam Sandler, Kevin James, David Spade, Chris Rock, Rob Schneider, Steve Buscemi, Mario Bello, Salma Hayek.

Grown Ups is a mindless comedy that still manages to score, due to the sheer star power of its cast.

The plot is a simple one: 5 friends from middle school have a reunion 30 years later when their old basketball coach dies. They meet together at a lake house resort where they had won the last game they played with their coach.  Adam Sandler is the successful guy from Hollywood and his wife is a fashion designer played by Salma Hayek (who still looks incredible). Kevin James is the all over family man with a wife (Mario Bello) who still breast feeds their 4 year old son. Rob Schneider is a cultish massage therapist married to a MUCH older women. Surprisingly there are some laughs with this relationship but it steers away from vulgarity and even progresses into a real and meaningful relationship between them. Schneider also has 3 daughters from previous marriages, 2 of which are knock out models and provide eye candy and some amusing moments in the film. Chris Rock is the stay at home dad and David Spade is the single man who still likes playing the field with the ladies.

Our heroes are everyday men in their mid 40s, who are still just kids at heart. The movie is very laid back and shows our friends bonding again after such a long time apart and having a good time with their families. They play a number of pranks like swinging across a river with a rope (resulting in a big ouch for Kevin James), shooting an arrow into the air and then trying to dodge it, (painful results again for Rob Scheinder) and all out fun at a water park with the kids, (wherein Steve Buscemi ends up in a body cast).

Rob Scheinder has the funniest moments involving his 73 year old wife and 2 hot model daughters. I personally think Scheinder is an underrated comic actor — everything I have seen him in has made me laugh my ass off. I would love to see him score a hit of his own and become a leading man one of these days.

The other characters just plod along and do their jobs well to produce an overall heartwarming and funny comedy.  This is not a film that warrants repeat viewings, but its a good night out at the movies and fun for the whole family for sure. 2/5 stars