Don’t get Total Recall

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I was hoping to be pleasantly surprised by Total Recall, a remake of a movie with the same name by Paul Verhoeven, but I wasn’t.  Instead I was just bored.  It is easy to see how this movie was made, Sci-Fi is big again thanks to Avatar, and it is based on a well liked short story by Philip K. Dick, but it is laking that spark that makes a good movie.

The basic plot is that a factory worker dreams he is something more, and he decides to go to Rekall to make memories to support his dreams, but when he goes there he finds out that he is indeed a double agent on a mission to save The Colony, post bio-war Australia, from the British Federation, post bio-war Britain (why do they get to keep their name?).

This movie screams, “made in a boardroom”.  A bunch of executives got together and went through a check list: find a Sci-Fi script, “Hey what about Total Recall?”, check.  Find cheep director that can handle action, “Hey Les Wismen did Underworld!”, check.  Get beautiful known actors that don’t demand a lot of money, Colin Farrell, Kate Beckinsale, and Jessica Biel, check, check, and check.  Set design, “Didn’t Philip K. Dick also write the story Blade Runner was based on? So lets steal that look!”, check. Film, print, and release.

What do you get after all of that?  A film that lacks passion.  When watching this movie I could just tell that no one on this project really wanted to make a new Total Recall.  They were just doing their jobs and picking up a pay check, and because of that it is hard to care about what is happening on the screen.  It is like a pretty flip book.

The movie is competently made, and I don’t think anyone embarrasses themselves, but they should all pick projects they truly want to do in the future.  I am going to do my best to forget about Total Recall.

Tucker and Dale vs The Cabin in the Woods

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In late 2011 and early 2012 two movies with a similar premise came out.  Kids go up to the woods find a cabin and bad things happen.  Now I know what you are thinking, this is the plot to a ton of movies why pick these two to talk about, but they both take this basic plot and turn it on its head.  They are also both entries in to the seldom used genre of horror comedy.

It is interesting that both creators, Eli Craig, and Joss Whedon/Drew Goddard, Tucker and Dale vs. Evil, and The Cabin in the Wood, respectively decided to pay their respects to foundations of horror and horror comedy, with very unsubtle homages to the Evil Dead series.  They have the same cast of characters for their victims: an easy girl, a jock, a smart kid, an idiot, and a girl of virtue.  Tucker and Dale throw in a couple extra just so they have people to setup their gags.  But that is where the similarities stop, and they both decide to make different points.

Tucker and Dale has one reason for its existence: to make you laugh, and it succeeds.  It makes the real enemies the kids’ prejudice and stupidity, and poor Tucker and Dale are just trying to enjoy their new summer home.  The way they setup every gag is spot on, and it uses what the kids think they know about these horror like situations against them.

The Cabin in The Woods on the other had is all about you, and why Joss thinks you need horror movies, and why they all have to be pretty much the same.  Thanks to his great writing and Goddard’s good directing it just happens to be very funny as well.  I would love to tell you more but that would just spoil things.

It was great to see two movies take a shots at all the standard horror tropes, and succeed.  I would say that Tucker and Dale vs. Evil is the funnier of the two movies, but The Cabin in the Woods is smarter, but in the end it is a character flaw of mine that I like to laugh more then I like to think, so I like Tucker and Dale better, but not by much.  Hopefully Hollywood takes notice and more of these genre bending movies come out.  I think it would be fun if Joss did a The Cabin in the Woods type movie for all the major genres, and it will interesting to see if Eli can use this movie to build his career.

Also I would be remise if I didn’t link over to my buddy Daniel’s reviews of The Cabin in the Woods and Tucker and Dale vs. Evil.

Go Speed Racer Go!

Speed Racer The Movie

Last night I re-watched one of my favorite movies.  Please don’t judge me: Speed Racer.  If you look at a lot of other reviews of this movie you will understand why people tend to give me dirty looks when I admit my love for this movie out loud, but I think it is a misunderstood masterpiece and I am going to try and explain why I feel this way.

Speed Racer is a movie based off a Japanese Cartoon from the mid-sixty’s.  Speed Racer is the name of the main character and all he wants to do is be the best race car driver in the whole world, and his dad runs Racer Motors, and builds his cars.  The basic plot of this movie is that small independent race car companies are good and the big sponsors and builders are bad.  Oscar worthy I know, but the plot is not what makes this movie great.  It is the visuals, and the slavish devotion to the source material.

This movie is like cotton candy for your eyes.  There are shades of neon in this movie that you didn’t even know existed.  And the way they make the cars move, is like how every six year old makes his Matchbox cars move: turning three-sixties, jumping, spinning, sliding around every corner.  It is the stuff of every little boy’s dreams.  Fantastic.

The Wachowski’s also took a risk by turning a live action movie in to a cartoon with real people in it.  All the sets are animated, and so is the entire world around them. They made characters in the movie exactly as they are in the show which is amazing since the show was never that popular, and I don’t think any but a few of us got all the references.

Like I said before in this movie is like cotton candy.  I know this movie is pure visual sugar, and I can’t watch it all the time, but sometimes there is just nothing better then giving your eyes a treat.  Even if you disagree with me about if  this movie is good or not, I still think everyone should own this on Blu-Ray, not on DVD or streaming but Blu-Ray, because watching this movie puts your Hi-Def screen through its paces, and seeing those crazy colors pop and spin will make your jaw drop.  I can’t wait for the 4K Ultra Hi-Def screens to come out, so I can melt my eyes out with this movie.

Trying to be Pitch Perfect

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So I was wondering what I was going to review this morning, and at first it was going to be the Super Bowl, but 50% of American’s watched it, so it is kind of unreviewable.  Next up I was thinking I just watched The Breakfast Club for like the twentieth time, but hey it is a John Hughes classic and if you haven’t seen it shame on you.  So thanks to my wife I also just watched the movie Pitch Perfect.

Pitch Perfect is about at rag-tag all girls a cappella glee club, The Barden Bellas, trying to win it all.  Of course they have to out sing the all men group that is conveniently from the same school.  The movie starts off with a loner, Beca (Anna Kendrick), who just likes to mix music and be alone, but gets dragged in to singing when another girl hears her sing in the shower.  Then Beca’s new ideas put her at odds with the head of the group.  I won’t spoil the end, but I am sure you can figure it out.

The movie is tons of fun.  It plays with glee club culture and makes it seem hip and cool.  The main flaw that this movie has is that main character has crippling attachment issues that maker her push everyone that likes her away, and since they are all likable people it makes her unlikable for quite a bit of the movie, and that is always a dangerous choice. Thankfully Rebel Wilson’s role as “Fat Amy” keeps this film funny and light hearted.  Rebel is becoming a standout in comedy these days and Pitch Perfect is another feather in her cap.

Pitch Perfect is a good movie with a great supporting cast, and if you like glee clubs or college movies it is for sure something to put in your queue to watch.  But if you haven’t seen Breakfast Club watch that first because John Hughes rocks.

Set Destination for Treasure Planet

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Treasure Planet is a Disney movie that people tend to forget about, but seeing it on Netflix prompted me to give it a try.

Treasure Planet is one of the few Disney animated films where they are specifically targeting boys.  It has everything from space boats to an alien that speaks in farts, and the main character rides a powered hover-board.  In my perspective, as a boy, it mostly succeeds at this attempt. I like space, pirates, and think fart humor is funny, so good work everybody, but it never breaks through and  becomes a classic.  I think that they were trying just a little too hard to be ‘cool’.

The story is mostly the same as Treasure Island except in space, and I was wondering during the film if they just did Treasure Island if it would have been a classic.  I think with the cast and crew it would have been close.

As is, it is a good flick and I think most people should check it out.