Tuesday, April 30, 2013


Hmmm... I knew it was going to be bad. It was not good. But I watched the whole thing. This was really a stretch, someone looking for an excuse to make a film. Battleship the game barely came into focus. The plot goes something like this: Lifetime screwup joins the navy, continues to be a screwup and is about to be bounced. Aliens invade earth with a scout crew and try to send a message back to "home" to bring more soldiers. Lifetime and navy screwup is the only guy that can save the day. Along the way, he gains the courage to marry the admirals daughter, break down the walls of racism in the navy and honor those who fought in past wars. No big. I feel like a need a different rating scale for bad movies, because this was a pretty good bad movie. Sort of a "lives right up to its expectations" sort of rating. But since I don't
2 stars (out of 5)


As the "prequel" to Alien, Ridley Scott has created another engaging world capable of sustaining story and character. The Prometheus starship is traveling to a planet that has been shown to support life and is pointed to by a variety of archeological signs on earth. The current theory is that the race that lives there is the seed of life for humans on earth. Of course, we must go investigate and cryostasis is required to get there. And of course, this means a robot is needed to monitor the cryostasis along the way. Upon arrival to the planet, life is indeed found, along with a few surprises. What I particularly liked about this was that the tension developed and released repeatedly without needed the horror-factor. Scott throws waves of action, stress, discovery without needing to "scare" the viewer. This lets you appreciate the struggle and feel the tension. My only concern is that if this is not part of a series, then I am extremely disappointed. I bought in, and need the resolution. Help me out Ridley.
4 stars (out of 5)

Fire with Fire

A straight to video, vigilante action flick. The protagonist is a firefighter who witnesses a crime, gets put into the witness security program, gets found by the bad guy, has his new witness security girlfriend threatened and decides the only way out is to go get the bad guy himself. Bruce Willis plays the long-suffering cop who has been chasing said bad guy for years and is willing to help/look away. Of course, since a firefighter is involved, we end up with fire, but it is strangely anti-climactic. Perhaps I would recommend this for late night insomnia... but I am not sure even about that.
2 stars (out of 5)

Tower Heist

This is a pretty good movie, but not a great movie. Its biggest problem is schizophrenia. With Eddie Murphy and Ben Stiller, you would hope that it come out as a hilarious comedy. With title, you would hope that it was a clever and interesting heist film. Instead, it is occasionally funny and a little bit clever. It also tries to be "current and relevant" by using a Bernie Madoff like character in Alan Alda as the bad guy. While technically current,  not really relevant. Instead, it feels like it is trying to generate sympathy for the common man. So mildly entertaining. Not engaging.

Now I realize that you can't hold any action film to scientific accuracy. Otherwise you would never have a car explosion. But once in awhile there is something that is just crazy. Here you have a golden car... as in solid gold. And it appears to be lighter in weight than even a regular car. I mean, a golden car? At least make its extreme weight part of the plot...
3 stars (out of 5)

Sunday, April 7, 2013

The Debt

Told mostly in flashback, this is the story of a 3-person Mossad team that was charged with infiltrating East Berlin in the 60's in order to identify and extract the war-criminal known as "the Surgeon of Birkenau". As the story unfolds, we see how the team gets to know each other and develops life long relationships based on the events of their assignment. We also see how that affects them later in life, as well as their families. The story is intriguing and while I don't know if this was the intent of the writer, I found the psychology of war, death, and subterfuge fascinating. Specifically, I felt like we were able to see how decisions made around patriotism and moral duty had a way of burrowing into you and festering throughout a lifetime. Similar to (but from a different angle) as The Lives of Others. I would like to see more of this exploration.
4 stars (out of 5)

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

G.I. Joe: Retaliation

Summer must be here. We get tanks, repelling soldiers, ninjas fighting while rock climbing, Bruce Willis and the Rock, explosions galore. Of course, the fact that it is still April puts this film in the not-quite-good-enough category for a summer blockbuster. But for what it is, well done. What it is? B+ action drama. Not really a comedy, but we know we must check our belief of the impossible at the door. But here is the surprising part. The bad guys (Cobra) have a really unique idea for gaining control of the world. They have recognized that there are too many nuclear weapons out there and develop a plan for removing nuclear weapons. Without spoiling the film, I found it quite entertaining. And while I am more than willing to embrace the absurd, I do expect the evil mastermind who initiates such a plot to be consistently mastermind-like. In this case, we have a masterful nuclear dis-armament plan followed by a system that allows the new global domination weapon to be destroyed (not disabled, not set on standby, but destroyed) by pushing a large red button on a remote control suitcase (in fact, the largest red button on the whole device). Mastermind status of Cobra commander has been reset to "dolt"...
3 stars (out of 5)

3 Idiots

Bollywood drama, probably toned down enough that I actually liked it. For example, categorized as a musical, aside from the mid-film musical/dance interlude, the music was so well integrated that I never thought I was watching a musical. The story takes place at a premier engineering college in India, where students are taught to learn what they are taught. Meaning that those who "think" will likely have difficulty. The three idiots of the film are Rancho, who thinks and his two roommates Raju (who is moderately smart but really loves engineering) and Farhan (who has no interest in engineering). Rancho is the charisma in this group. They play pranks, struggle through class and combat the stress that the system of education is creating. The story is told out of time sequence so that we get long sections of flashback to set the stage for the last third of the film and the resolution. A moderately funny film with a good (if a bit trite) message about education and people and relationship and love.
3 stars (out of 5)