Me and My Nine Iron

March 27, 2011

Sucker Punch preview

Filed under: For your pleasure — BJ @ 5:24 pm
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This weekend was the debut of Sucker Punch, a much-hyped movie riding on the name and visual style of director Zack Snyder, as Warner Bros. did when they picked it up to distribute. It seems like a lot of guys are talking about how great this concept is. After all, why hasn’t anyone thought of hot chicks in slutty outfits fighting mythical creatures before?

Critics are generally saying that it’s exactly what you would expect with loud, colorful action being brought down by an unrealized story. (The plot sounds ridiculous, but it’s not my genre in all fairness.) It also includes a smashing score, which to my surprise, is Snyder’s first original film not based on any earlier references.

Snyder wanted to work with an entire group of females, which is the opposite of what he got to do on 300. And he wanted the girls to bulk up with the same type of workout regimen that their male counterparts had to do so they trained 6 hours a day for 12 weeks prior to filming. The main girls had to deadlift up to 210 pounds, and Vanessa Hudgens cried on her first day. Winning!

Maybe, if he cast Amanda Seyfried as the lead and Emma Stone as he originally wanted, the recognizable names would’ve been a little more marketable, but success or not, Snyder’s getting ready to work on Superman: Man of Steel, set to come out at the end of next year.

BJ

March 22, 2011

More movie sequels

The Fighter

Producer-star Mark Wahlberg is pushing for one more sequel for the career of Micky Ward. Wahlberg expects the whole cast to return for Ward’s trilogy with Arturo Gatti, with director David O. Russell penning the script once it’s greenlit.

My take: I’m sure they could make a great movie out of it, but I just don’t know if the interest is there in another Micky Ward movie. I mean, Muhammad Ali, the most famous boxer in boxing history, only got one biopic. Why should Ward get more?

Untitled Judd Apatow Project

Megan Fox will be joining Paul Rudd and Leslie Mann, who will be reprising their roles as Pete and Debbie in a Knocked Up spinoff. Judd Apatow, who’s writing, directing and producing the untitled project set to come out next summer, will have gone three years since he last directed a movie (Funny People). No word on whether the new family will be making an appearance.

My take: I love that Fox is returning to comedy, where she began her teeny teenage career in TV guest appearances. (She’ll also be starring in the comedy, Friends with Kids alongside Kristen Wiig next year.) To all those who say they won’t watch this movie with Fox in it, first of all, you’re lying. But, c’mon. How many of you even saw Jonah Hex? Exactly. And everyone knows she was right when she opened her mouth about Michael Bay. As long as she takes a seat to the couple, she should be an exceptional piece of eye candy mixed with great comedy. Sounds like a better formula than what got the original a $219 million gross.

Everyone’s probably wondering how a spinoff of this couple can work, but we don’t know the story and I won’t doubt Apatow, especially when he writes and directs it. He’s 3-for-3 in movies when that happens.

American Reunion

Most of the cast has signed on for their fourth movie in the franchise, with the rest in negotiations. It will be nine years since American Wedding when this film comes out early next year, and Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg, the brains behind the Harold and Kumar franchise, are writing and directing. The trilogy grossed nearly $755 million worldwide.

Side note: A Very Harold & Kumar Christmas, the third one in the franchise, is coming out this November, with Neil Patrick Harris returning as well. Kal Penn quit his White House job to film this movie. What an exemplary figure.

My take: This one actually makes the most sense out of the three, and there’s no reason why it shouldn’t be another successful addition.

BJ

March 17, 2011

My NCAA tournament bracket

Filed under: For your pleasure — BJ @ 10:40 am
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It’s that time of the year again. You’re looking at the million dollar perfect bracket.

How my bracket looks

I have two No. 10 seeds going to the Sweet 16 (Penn St., Michigan St.) and only one No. 1 seed (Ohio St.) in the Final Four, who I have taking it all.

How I chose teams

  • I favored Big East schools for their strength of schedule, which was a huge factor in determining a lot of games. Of the eight Big East schools in the tournament, six made the Sweet 16 and two made the Final Four.
  • Like any playoffs, a team on a hot streak can go deep so teams with good conference tournament runs (Connecticut) and late-season surges (St. John’s) were rewarded.
  • (1) Ohio St. and (1) Kansas both have just two losses all year with pretty weak schedules. So why does Kansas lose in the Elite Eight and Ohio St. win it all? Kansas lost against the two hardest teams it faced and played no ranked nonconference teams. Ohio. St. has a convincing win against Florida, and I got to have my Buckeyes in.
  • Teams I don’t believe in: (2) San Diego St., (2) Florida, (3) BYU. I have them all losing in the second round. How is Florida a No. 2 seed when they’re No. 15 in the nation? All year, SDSU was ranked ahead of BYU, went 1-2 against them and get the higher seed. Wrong.
  • I know Notre Dame is a very beatable team, but they’re 12-2 in their last 14, has a winning record against ranked teams while playing a lot of them and has one of my favorite players from this year, Ben Hansbrough.
  • Why is the championship game a blowout? When Notre Dame loses, they lose badly. Five of their six losses have been by at least 12 points. Ohio St. is averaging 91 points in their three wins against ranked teams while winning by at least 18 points.

You can check out my bracket here.

BJ

March 16, 2011

The Hangover Part II trailer

Filed under: For your pleasure — BJ @ 3:29 pm
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If you haven’t heard, The Hangover Part II is coming out this Memorial Day. And if you haven’t seen it, here’s the teaser trailer released a couple of weeks ago.

BJ

March 13, 2011

Gauging Vince Vaughn’s marketability

Filed under: For your pleasure — BJ @ 10:13 pm
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Here’s a feature on another 40-year-old A-list actor. Vince Vaughn‘s last five movies have all treaded IMDb’s “unwatchable” rating (less than 6.0), which would make you think he’s one of the worst actors ever. Yet, he’s an A-list comedian who rakes in the dough, similar to two others with similarly poor ratings, Adam Sandler and Will Ferrell, who he’s been in several movies with. It’s funny that critics constantly pan their movies, yet people find them to be among the funniest actors. Well, guys mostly. Vaughn is the youngest (40), tallest (6’5″) and receives the smallest budget of the three. And again, it was a recent flop in The Dilemma, which didn’t look like an outright bomb like say, Ferrell’s Land of the Lost, that had me looking for answers.

Vince Vaughn Filmography 2007 – Present
Movie IMDb Rating Budget (in millions) Gross Revenue (in millions)
Wedding Crashers 7.1 40 285
The Break-Up 5.8 52 203
Fred Claus 5.6 n/a 98
Four Christmases 5.7 80 164
Couples Retreat 5.4 60 169
The Dilemma 4.9 70 66

While Sandler and Ferrell write the majority of their hits, Vaughn deserves credit in his own right. Reese Witherspoon, who probably takes her roles as seriously as Natalie Portman, complained after working with Vaughn on Four Christmases how he adlibs every single line, making it hard for her to react when there’s a script to stick to. That says about as much of Vaughn’s natural comedic talent as it does of his inconsideracy for destroying all of the other actors on set.

Sandler brings in the most money of the three on an average of the last five released, with an amazing $176+ million (and that’s without any animated movies). It helps that he has a huge international fan base, unlike the other two, and is as internationally recognizable as Jim Carrey. He’s in the widest range of genres, doing anything from Disney movies to serious roles, whereas Vaughn is typecast as your sarcastic pessimist, like a melodramatic, fast-talking Paul Rudd.

Adam Sandler Filmography 2008 – Present
Movie IMDb Rating Budget (in millions) Gross Revenue (in millions)
You Don’t Mess With the Zohan 5.6 90 203
Bedtime Stories 6.1 80 206
Funny People 6.8 75 72
Grown Ups 5.8 80 271
Just Go With It 6.1 80 129+

Strangely, Ferrell commands the largest budget of the three on the last five with an average of $97 million, and brings in the least at $146 million per, which comes out to a small profit, if any. He easily does the most work away from the big screen, doing video shorts on Funny or Die, Adam McKay‘s website, who he produces and works with, and making a number of appearances on TV series’.

Will Ferrell Filmography 2008 – Present
Movie IMDb Rating Budget (in millions) Gross Revenue (in millions)
Semi-Pro 5.7 90 44
Step Brothers 6.7 65 128
Land of the Lost 5.3 100 69
The Other Guys 6.7 100 169
Megamind (animation) 7.3 130 319

Vaughn, who plays the least outrageous characters of all the A-list funny men, can hang with the best as evidenced. He can gladly not use any of the dialogue from my screenplay and make up his own any day.

BJ

Adam Sandler Filmography 2008 – Present
Movie IMDb Rating Budget (in millions) Gross Revenue (in millions)
You Don’t Mess With the Zohan 5.6 90 203
Bedtime Stories 6.1 80 206
Funny People 6.8 75 72
Grown Ups 5.8 80 271
Just Go With It 6.1 80 129+

March 7, 2011

The Adjustment Bureau review

Filed under: Movie reviews — BJ @ 5:01 pm
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I loved this movie, more than I can give for in its rating, which I’ll get to later. Emily Blunt is absolutely sexy in her English accent, which I think is the sexiest accent in the world. And of course with any good romantic movie, you’ll have a movie crush on her when it’s all said and done.

But know that it is a romance just as much as it’s a sci-fi action movie. Personally, I loved it and thought it was necessary to get out the gravity of the cause, but the second half of the movie gets heavy with the relationship stuff and may not only surprise you but turn you off if you were strictly looking for a thriller. It’s not.

I’m surprised a novel sci-fi idea as this hadn’t been thought up before and to me, it’s a cross between The Matrix (mystery doors) and Inception (distinguished team members working on a mission). Screenwriter George Nolfi made his directorial debut and while the shooting was unnoticeable, the vision came up a little short.

Roger Ebert puts it best when he says it’s “a smart and good movie that could have been a great one if it had been a little more daring. I suspect the filmmakers were reluctant to follow its implications too far.” Something that the Wachowski brothers and Christopher Nolan weren’t afraid to do, and the reason why their movies ran 2:16 and 2:22, respectively. The Adjustment Bureau is a short 1:45 and just didn’t scratch beyond the surface to the deeper layers in an interesting world.

That and one other thing kept this from being a 5-star movie. Like Unknown, this movie answers a lot of questions at the end. The ending itself is a believe it or don’t, there-you-have-it type ending. Personally, I can overlook and accept most explanations, even if just told in a voice-over rush as this did. While this movie did answer most all of the questions, I couldn’t help but think that the ending was a bit cheap. But that goes back to Nolfi playing it on the safe side. Overall, a very entertaining movie.

Some final notes:

  1. This is Matt Damon‘s first of five movies set to be released this year. If Margaret doesn’t come out before, his next will be an actual sci-fi thriller in October – the Steven Soderbergh-directed, star-studded Contagion. This will be Damon’s sixth movie with Soderbergh, with a seventh coming out in 2013 (Liberace).
  2. If you can’t wait until October, the thriller Limitless comes out on 3/18 and the sci-fi thriller Source Code comes out on 4/1.
  3. Blunt plays a ballerina and trained for eight weeks prior to shooting and during for eight hours a day. She should be a lock to win Best Supporting Actress, right?
  4. The trailer doesn’t do this movie justice. Neither does the one for box-office champ, Rango, which I’m sure is good but it does not look appealing.
  5. Johnny Depp as an ugly chameleon still pwns Damon at the box office.

Rating: 4 stars out of 5

BJ

March 1, 2011

Movie reviews

Black Swan

Wow. The thriller in this “psychosexual thriller” should not be taken lightly. Well, neither should the psychosexual part too. As I mentioned in my recent post about my chest pains, this is an amazing movie from the story of a self-obsessed ballet dancer to Natalie Portman‘s award-winning performance. Easily one of the best movies of the year, but let me get a couple of things straight.

  1. For my gay guy friends who said that ballet could be fun to watch after seeing this movie are a) about as fickle as my friend who wanted to become a computer programmer after watching The Social Network for the glamorous social life (he was serious) and b) couldn’t be more wrong. It made it more disgusting to watch with all the contortions that shouldn’t be able to be done with the human body and the cracked toenail. Ew.
  2. Mila Kunis is overcredited. Yes, she’s the second person in the rivalry, but she’s not the second biggest actor in the movie like we’d think from looking at the movie posters. I’d give that title to Vincent Cassel, who plays the ballet company’s director. Plus, a) there’s not a single scene where Kunis displays a technical dance and b) it’s all in Portman’s head so does it even count? I guess that could be an interesting topic of debate.

Rating: 5 stars out of 5

Faster

Finally, Dwayne Johnson graced us with his first R-rated wide release movie; he made Southland Tales in 2006. Early reviews of this movie showed amazing ratings, and I was really blown away by it when I got a chance to see it. Like I said before, this is another one of those movies where one guy goes on a killing spree to avenge his brother’s death while the cops are after him. There were actually some emotional scenes, a plot twist at the end, the score was great and the cast was superb. Unfortunately, it managed to barely make its production budget – $25 million against $24 million.

Also starring Oliver Jackson-Cohen as the assassin, his girlfriend, Maggie Grace, who might be the hottest actress out right now (especially after watching this movie), Carla Gugino, who’s assigned to team up with the loose Billy Bob Thornton and his baby momma, Moon Bloodgood, my neighbor’s niece. Salma Hayek was originally supposed to play Gugino’s role, but thank God she didn’t. I wouldn’t believe Hayek as a detective, especially with her accent and busty figure.

Rating: 5 stars out of 5

The Kids Are All Right

The Golden Globe-winning comedy of the year was more a political statement from liberal Hollywood about a lesbian couple raising a family. I was surprised by the amount of sex and nudity in the movie, and while I find Julianne Moore to be a good looking 50-year-old, I thought her freckled body and bone-thin legs were hideous. Like Kunis, Annete Bening is another actress who got way more credit than she deserves–more so because she’s up for Best Actress–as she plays probably the same character as Melissa Leo in The Fighter.

Also starring Mark Ruffalo as the biological father to Mia Wasikowska, a filthy rich Australian who got her spoils as the eponymous character in Alice in Wonderland. She has a rustic look about her and will star again as the eponymous character in Jane Eyre coming out on 3/11.

Con: Not many laughs.

Rating: 4 stars out of 5

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World

Quite possibly the most overrated movie on IMDb (7.8). I can see why a bad movie coupled with people growing tired of Michael Cera only made $48 million against a $60 million budget. And my apologies dearly to Kick-Ass for the comparison. It’s interesting that this was probably the number one movie last year where people asked me if I watched it, probably all of them liking it.

I get that it’s a cool special effects movie and I don’t have a problem with it being a part of the entire movie for the most mundane thing like a phone ringing, but the plain truth is that the movie is terrible. I don’t even know where to begin with this trash. The question shouldn’t be what I didn’t like about it, but what I did. And the answer is not much at all. I bet the same people who say they’re boycotting 3D movies made this movie the highest-selling Blu-ray the first day it came out.

The sad thing is I think I’m in the minority, as it made 18 critics’ top ten lists (which is a fucking joke) and won Satellite Awards given by the International Press Academy for Best Comedy and Best Actor of the year. And frankly, I’m not surprised Kevin Smith loved it. In the words of the Harvard Dean in The Social Network, punch me in the face.

Also starring Alison Pill and Ellen Wong, who they made as ugly as possible, Anna Kendrick and Aubrey Plaza, who acts like she’s always on her period.

Con: The protagonist doesn’t struggle at all, probably the most fatal flaw in story structure. Casting Cera was probably a mistake. It was a comedy?

Rating: 1 star out of 5

Winter’s Bone

Adapted from a 2006 novel, I personally didn’t understand what all the acclaim was about. The synopsis is a bit misleading so let me tell you what it’s really about. A girl goes to about five different houses looking for her dad so that she could keep her house for which he put up for bond and isn’t going to make his court appearance. No pretty Ozark Mountains, just dirt and barren land for as far as you could see. Hollywood, you don’t need to adapt every goddamn best seller, and I don’t back its Best Picture nomination.

Con: I found the second act boring.

Rating: 3 stars out of 5

Jackson 5 – Icon

Per Wiki, they have 15 compilation albums, and this one’s nowhere to be seen. But I chose this one because it has my favorite song, I Wanna Be Where You Are. It wasn’t until recently that I realized the Michael Jackson I liked was the little boy, ironically. Filled with your classics, I was pleasantly surprised to hear Dancing Machine from Superbad‘s opening, which I didn’t know it was from.

Con: I don’t care if it’s deliberate, but MJ can’t hit a lot of notes on his “ooh” and it sounds bad.

Favorite tracks: The Love You Save, Mama’s Pearl, I Wanna Be Where You Are

Rating: 4 stars out of 5

Magnetic North – Home:Word

The follow-up album to its 2006 debut, the co-ed duo collaborated with Korean Taiyo Na, as Direct relinquished his music duties to Na. Same ol’ dope rhymes, and the beats, though mellower than the first, fit the “home” theme well. If I could change one thing about this album, I’d have all three add their own song like the first album.

Con: Only eight songs. Poor production, and Direct got a little carried away with his sweet flow at times.

Favorite tracks: We Belong, Summertime, Home:Word

Rating: 3 stars out of 5

Add this song to your summer playlist. It’s also a great representation of how sick Direct is, where he kills it in the third verse. Take note, Drake. If I was an agent, I’d sign him and put him on the airwaves like Far East Movement.

BJ

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