Me and My Nine Iron

August 31, 2010

Movie reviews

Alice in Wonderland

Tim Burton‘s remake of the popular children’s story became a box office legend, as it’s just one of six films to ever cross the $1 billion mark worldwide. Reviews were mixed, however, and some complained that the final battle scene was too cliche. It behooves many movies to have a climactic battle scene; to say that it’s become cliche is to set yourself up for disappointment by an entire genre and some.

Great visuals, loved all of the small characters along the way (Tweedledee/Tweedledum, March Hare) and found the story entertaining (not being familiar with the original).

Rating: 4 stars out of 4

District 9

What an indie nugget this film was. Adapted from director Neill Blomkamp‘s 2005 short, Alive in Joburg, he made his feature film directorial debut with his friend Sharlto Copley as the lead in the movie, which Blomkamp decided to shoot in his hometown of South Africa. Nominated for four Oscars, expectations were high, and I now see why it got a Best Picture nod.

Roger Ebert again lambastes the climax, complaining that “the third act is disappointing, involving standard shoot-out action. No attempt is made to resolve the situation.” It’s called a sequel, Roger, something that you expect from every superhero movie, and I’m looking forward to this one, which is still years away.

Rating: 4 stars out of 4

How to Train Your Dragon

Another heartfelt animation film, but contrary to solid reviews and a behemoth $490 million taking, this one misses the upper echelon of great animation. First, it seemed like they tried to tell the whole story in the first ten minutes, which was unnecessary. There was way too much going on and probably a little more narrative than it needed to be.

The main issue I had was how everything fell into place a little too easily. Hiccup’s relationship with all of the dragons was a little too much, a little too fast to be believable. Other than that, it was an easy story that should be put to rest as is. Instead, DreamWorks is planning a television series, a live tour show and a sequel in 2013.

Best moment was when an old guy in the back yelled, “Hiccup, no!” during the final battle scene. A standing ovation later, he yelled, “David Tennant!” when his name came out in the credits. I don’t know who he is, either.

Rating: 3 stars out of 4

Knight and Day

Most known by me as the one that went through “development hell,” I’m glad they got their shit together because this was one fun ride. Three titles, two directors,  two studios, 12 writers and six lead actors later, Knight and Day was made. Other fun facts: it was Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz‘s second on-screen collaboration (Vanilla Sky), it was Cruise’s worst box-office debut for an action film in the past 20 years ($20.5 million) and all the hubbub put the cost at $117 million. With that disappointing debut, I didn’t think they had a shot at recouping their money, but they managed $222 million.

Cruise did his part with a pay cut of $11 million to play up the character in his own way, and I feel like you could totally tell. The really kooky Cruise keeps a nice balance of action and humor throughout. Who were the other actors, you ask? Gerard Butler decided he’d rather be with Jennifer Aniston in The Bounty Hunter than Diaz while the two original leads were Chris Tucker and Eva Mendes. Thank God that fell through. I’m not racist, I swear.

Rating: 3 stars out of 4

Shrek Forever After

An odd story, this fourth and final Shrek was. It takes a look into Shrek’s domestic life with Princess Fiona and their three infants, and Shrek’s frustration mounts with a redundant and stagnant life. The antagonist is Rumpelstiltskin, who reminded me of the Red Queen in Alice in Wonderland. It’s very different from the previous Shreks, and I feel like there were hardly any laughs. Still, the story moved along, and why stop when you could eat up another $709 million? Sure enough, they’re not. Puss in Boots, a spin-off with the eponymous character, comes out next year.

Rating: 2 stars out of 4

Drake – Thank Me Later

Drake‘s debut album was hailed with positive reviews, but you won’t find one from me. The biggest problem I had was his voice. As a rapper, your voice is a huge part of what you do, and when you sound like Lil Wayne, you don’t sound good. It overshadows his decent lyrics, and his nasally delivery is something that kills almost every track. Here are a few reviews I want to copy. Ben Raynor of Toronto Star said that Drake is better when his “R&B vocal skills are pushed to the forefront.” Renato Pagnani of The Vancouver Sun criticized Drake’s “workmanlike” flow, and commented that the album’s guests like Jay-Z and T.I. “effortlessly demonstrate the difference between a good MC and a great MC.” It helps that he loads his album with big names.

Favorite tracks: Over, Show Me a Good Time, Find Your Love

Rating: 2 stars out of 4

Phoenix – Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix

The French band’s fourth album drew my attention with the constant radio play of their singles, Lisztomania and 1901. Sadly, it doesn’t get a lot better than that. The soft tone never really changes, and the album really stops in its tracks right when you feel like it’s picking up. After three great opening tracks, it kills itself with minimal words for over 7.5 minutes. Countdown sounds like Lasso, and when you skip over the two wordless tracks, as most would, you have an album that doesn’t even last half an hour. And this was the best rated of their four albums.

Favorite tracks: Lisztomania, 1901, Fences

Rating: 3 stars out of 4




  1. Hahah. In addition to his voice, Drake even raps like Lil Wayne. I like the critic describing it as a “workmanlike” flow. He’s just talking the entire album.

    Comment by Bryan — September 4, 2010 @ 11:53 am | Reply

  2. Is the biggest Eminem fan I know complaining about another rapper’s nasally voice?

    But I agree that Drake’s album is nothing revolutionary, lyrically or conceptually — and he does complain a lot on the album. All that said, it’s still pretty catchy.

    Comment by Chris Le — September 3, 2010 @ 4:32 pm | Reply

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