Me and My Nine Iron

October 20, 2012

Paranormal Activity 4 review

Filed under: Movie reviews — BJ @ 4:02 pm
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Seen at a pre-release screening in Pico Rivera:

Easily the worst in the once-great franchise, that includes the worst of the four in story development, scares and originality. I’ll coin this The Hangover Effect; though I enjoyed The Hangover 2, I’ll admit everything that made the first Hangover great was contrived and almost lazily executed in the sequel.

Similarly, PA 4 offers up the same style of an in-house, multi-webcam shooting as PA 3; with another random family, a cameo by Katie and exactly the same unanswered ending as PA3. Whereas PA 2 and PA 3 somewhat built off its predecessor, PA 4 was absolutely pointless and proves that this franchise can be endless with random families that have just the slightest association with Katie. It was, more accurately, a do-over of PA3, except not as good.

The tension and scares that made PA a classic and PA 3 watchable were nonexistent in this one. Also, I can’t think of a single scare that wasn’t shown in one of the first three. Overall, a very disappointing installment to a successful franchise. I wouldn’t even recommend it to the franchise’s fans, but if you’re compelled to watch it like I was notwithstanding the ratings, expect to finish the movie wanting more.

Paranormal Activity 4 opened in theaters on Friday.

Rating: 2 stars out of 5

IMDb rating: 4.8
What it should be: 6.3

Pass

BJ

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October 16, 2012

Argo review

Filed under: Food reviews,Movie reviews — BJ @ 5:33 pm
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Seen at a pre-release screening in Los Angeles:

If The Town didn’t sell Ben Affleck as a more than capable director, this movie surely will. Argo‘s current IMDb rating would make this the best of his three directorial pictures–hell, a top 50 film, though I wouldn’t go that far–and that’s no shabby feat considering his first two are at 7.8 and 7.6. All the Oscar talks for Best Picture are valid.

Affleck managed to adapt a huge real-life story in the Iran Hostage Crisis into a cinematic masterpiece, capturing perfectly the feel and look of 1980, the tension and chaos in Iran and in the great escape and the funny and cool Hollywood aspects of making a fake movie studio shown by Alan Arkin (Little Miss Sunshine) and John Goodman (Roseanne, The Artist), which shifts a lot of heaviness and tension away from the grave situation throughout the movie.

Well-acted, a great story and an ending that will keep your butt cheeks clenched, Argo delivers as a satisfying biopic with the actors’ resemblance similar to those of the hostages.

Affleck turned down directorial duties for the Superman reboot, Man of Steel, a $175 million movie set to come out in June of 2013. Yes, he’s that legit.

Argo opened in theaters on Friday.

Rating: 5 stars out of 5

IMDb rating: 8.4
What it should be: 7.9

Recommend

In another supplement to my pizza posts, I checked out Vito’s Pizza under high recommendation from a friend. I ordered two slices–Pizza Margherita and The Garibaldi, meatballs, tomatoes and jalapenos–which came out to over $8 – a huge difference when I could get fresher pizza for $5.

Location

One, in Los Angeles.

Prices

Regular slice – $2.50, w/ Pepperoni – $3.00, 18″ Cheese – $16.50, 18″ 1 Topping – $19

The most expensive slices and pies of the five places, a big deal when you factor in that their slices aren’t made to order.

Rating

3 stars out of 5

Though tasty, the freshness simply wasn’t there due to the lack of made to order pizza, and you can’t replicate that with any type of re-heating. Catch them during dinner time or catch ’em later. Closes at 11p.

BJ

October 10, 2012

Rise of the Guardians review

Filed under: Movie reviews — BJ @ 1:51 pm
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Seen at a pre-release screening in Long Beach:

A hip adaptation about childhood icons led by Jack Frost, it’s a bit similar to Toy Story in how the kids are secondary to the guardians in the story but are essential to the guardians’ task at hand.

Tons of action, an awesome premise and great voices lent by Hugh Jackman as E. Aster Bunnymund, Alec Baldwin with a tough-sounding Eastern European accent as Nicholas St. North (Santa Claus) and Jude Law as the evil Pitch (the Bogeyman).

But what made this animation stand out was probably how they brought out these recognizable icons in a new light – as badasses. A fun movie brought to you by Dreamworks Animation, who’s putting out their first original (non-sequel, non-spin off) feature in over two years.

Rise of the Guardians opens in theaters on November 21.

Rating: 5 stars out of 5

IMDb rating: 6.7
What it should be: 7.7

Recommend

BJ

October 9, 2012

Here Comes the Boom review

Filed under: Food reviews,Movie reviews — BJ @ 11:24 am
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Seen at a pre-release screening in South Gate:

Taken from P.O.D.’s eponymous song, which also serves as Kevin Jamesentrance song to his early fights, it’s simply a solid feel-good movie. Enough giggles throughout and some surprisingly emotional scenes make this a watchable PG-film for adults. An adequate amount of MMA action, with the only knock coming from the realism and absurdity of the underdog story.

Henry Winkler provides some laughs as the whacky music teacher whose job James is trying to save, and Bas Rutten plays an immigrant who trains James with spouts from his popular self-defense videos. Co-written by James and Mr. Big Time, Allan Loeb (Rock of Ages, Just Go With It).

Here Comes the Boom opens in theaters on Friday.

Rating: 4 stars out of 5

IMDb rating: n/a
What it should be: 7.0

Consider

I’ve been to Porto’s several times to pick up a birthday cake or have their popular potato balls and cheese rolls, but I finally tried their sandwiches. The prices are very reasonable ($4.15-$6.70), and I had the Cubano sandwich and the Pan con lechon (roasted pork sandwich). (Half of each, not both.)

The latter is the traditional Cuban shredded pork and doesn’t offer as much variety as the Cubano, which has pork and ham, mayo/mustard and pickles. And the fried maduros (plantain slices) makes a good complement as a substitute for chips.

Definitely worth checking out at any of their three locations.

Rating: 4 stars out of 5

Recommend

BJ

October 5, 2012

Seven Psychopaths review

Filed under: Movie reviews — BJ @ 12:10 pm
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Seen at a pre-release screening in Los Angeles:

I was pretty turned off from the trailer–a gangster coming after a screenwriter because of a kidnapped lapdog–but I’m so glad I watched it because it was one of the surprise hits of the year. From the opening scene, you get a feel for the witty dialogue a la Quentin Tarantino, followed by a shocking shooting – pretty much the winning formula for this movie.

Written, directed and produced by Martin McDonagh, who I will say right now is a guy to watch for the rest of his career. A living legendary Irish playwright, McDonagh has four Tony Award nominations; as far as his film credits go, his 2004 short won an Oscar, In Bruges got an Oscar nomination for Best Original Screenplay and now, Seven Psychopaths, which deserves another one.

A highly entertaining crime comedy, with Sam Rockwell (Iron Man 2) stealing the show, and a very intricately well-written story that doesn’t let down in the slightest. Colin Farrell is refreshing in his Irish accent, Christopher Walken is classic and Woody Harrelson plays the scorned dog owner who’ll kill anyone to get his dog back. Tons of shootings, a little mystery and suspense and a great denouement. A perfect guy’s movie.

Seven Psychopaths opens in theaters on October 12.

Rating: 5 stars out of 5

IMDb rating: 7.3
What it should be: 8.3

Recommend

BJ

October 4, 2012

Looper review

Filed under: Movie reviews — BJ @ 4:55 pm
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I’ll admit I wanted to hate this movie so much after critics and friends all called it the best movie of the year. While I won’t share that claim, I can’t deny that it was close. One of the better science fiction and time travel movies, Rian Johnson‘s third feature is an impressive one, and he’s quickly solidifying himself as a remarkable writer-directors.

I did not like Joseph Gordon-Levitt‘s facial prosthetics to more closely resemble Bruce Willis, his older self in the movie, as it was noticeably distracting. But when that’s all you have to criticize a movie, you’ve done well.

I love Roger Ebert‘s review on the time travel aspect, saying “Looper, a smart and tricky sci-fi story, sidesteps the paradoxes of time travel by embracing them. Most time travel movies run into trouble in the final scenes, when impossibilities pile up one upon another. This film leads to a startling conclusion that wipes out the story’s paradoxes so neatly it’s as if it never happened.” A great thriller, indeed, with likable actors. Definitely lives up to its billing.

Rating: 5 stars out of 5

IMDb rating: 8.3
What it should be: 8.3

Recommend

BJ

September 20, 2012

Movie reviews

Friends with Benefits

This movie put all of its chips on the quick banter, wittiness and chemistry between Justin Timberlake and Mila Kunis, and it lost. There was hardly a laugh in the entire first act, and only the most amazing ending could’ve saved the slow and almost boring first half – which it wasn’t.

A disappointing follow-up to Easy A, 2010’s charming hit comedy, for Will Gluck, who wrote, directed and produced this movie. Well, except for the fact that it made $150 million. But an obvious pass when given a similar movie that came out at the same time was much better. Check out No Strings Attached instead, which I actually found favorable.

Rating: 2 stars out of 5

IMDb rating: 6.6
What it should be: 6.1

Pass

Our Idiot Brother

A fun, light-hearted movie about an idealistic hippie who indeliberately ruins everyone’s lives. The story beats were great, and Paul Rudd plays a classic idiot. That being said, it wasn’t the most fulfilling movie because the protagonist has no character arc whatsoever and the ending is a little tame. Still, if you’re looking for a popcorn movie, it’s definitely enjoyable.

Rating: 4 stars out of 5

IMDb rating: 6.5
What it should be: 6.5

Consider

B.o.B. – Strange Clouds

No sophomore slump here. In fact, this easily tops his debut album, The Adventures of Bobby Ray, which was good in its own right. I don’t skip a single track, and all the choruses are so good with top featured artists like Taylor Swift, Lil Wayne, Chris Brown and Nicki Minaj. Definitely an underrated rapper with a good voice, good flow and great lyrics.

Favorite tracks: Ray Bands, Strange Clouds, So Good, Arena

Rating: 5 stars out of 5

Recommend

John Mayer – Born and Raised

A polarizing album, or maybe more accurately, I’m the only one that likes it. Considered folk, a little on the soft side (even for John Mayer) but the hardest part to like about it is the lyrics and music, which have some harsh harmonica sounds. At least in its 2009 predecessor, Battle Studies, the album was all about a girl. This one’s about not-as-interesting stuff.

Again, I’m the only one who finds it an easy listen so it’s not for all John Mayer fans. I do question the stupidity of some of the lyrics, and maybe, the tell-tale track for those trying to decide is Love Is A Verb. Shadow Days is about the only catchy beat, and it still misses the mark from being a classic John Mayer song. I still prefer songs about Jane.

Favorite tracks: Shadow Days, Something Like Olivia, Love Is A Verb

Rating: 4 stars out of 5

Pass

BJ

September 13, 2012

Trouble with the Curve review

Filed under: Movie reviews — BJ @ 11:51 am
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Seen at a pre-release screening in Los Angeles:

A very average drama and very much a sports movie. I can see non-baseball fans getting very uninterested and even bored at all the lingo and baseball action while the strained relationship between father and daughter felt contrived and was never fully satisfied. Clint Eastwood, who felt he was done acting after Gran Torino, plays the same bitter old character that is nowhere near as good as the earlier movie or last year’s baseball drama, Moneyball.

The fatal weakness lied in the annoyingly brief exchanges between father and daughter, where they have the same conversation over and over again. Also, I spotted a handful of baseball inaccuracies that could’ve easily been avoided, and the ending was a little gimmicky.

Otherwise, it’s a decent watch with an inevitable and fun relationship between Amy Adams and Justin Timberlake, who by the way, reminded me of Will Smith in this movie. He’s getting that comfortable and confident in front of the camera now, and he can pull it off. Looking forward to seeing him next year in the Coen brothers‘ next movie, Inside Llewyn Davis, and a crime movie with Ben Affleck, Runner, Runner.

Trouble with the Curve opens in theaters on September 21.

Rating: 3 stars out of 5

IMDb rating: n/a
What it should be: 7.0

Pass

BJ

September 12, 2012

The Words review

Filed under: Movie reviews — BJ @ 9:47 am
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Seen at a pre-release screening in Los Angeles:

How unfulfilling. First, consider its logline.

A writer at the peak of his literary success discovers the steep price he must pay for stealing another man’s work.

SPOILER ALERT: I hate to ruin it for you guys, but the man whose original work it was wants nothing upon confronting the plagiarist while the “steep price” he must pay is guilt. Would’ve been better off as a book or a thriller.

The scenes that were supposed to be filled with tension missed the mark emotionally, and you had the one guy when asked what he wanted in return reply, “I just needed you to know.” Which genius thought that line was going to make the audience happy?

Bradley Cooper plays the struggling author who comes across an undiscovered story he then writes as his own. His relationship with Zoe Saldana is the only good part of the movie. You wait for something to happen with his encounter with Jeremy Irons, and after Irons tells him it’s his story, he just leaves. Especially in a story where you would think there would be a high cost for stealing another man’s work, it was all a self-evaluation, something that usually never comes across well in a movie.

I’ll admit I enjoyed it, but only because it was very relatable as a writer. Otherwise, I can’t disagree with any of the negative reviews I read.

The Words opened in theaters on Friday.

Rating: 3 stars out of 5

IMDb rating: 6.7
What it should be: 6.7

Pass

BJ

September 11, 2012

The Possession review

Filed under: Movie reviews — BJ @ 9:55 am
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Seen at a pre-release screening in Pico Rivera:

I was surprised at how the story decided to turn the way it did towards the end, but when I stop to think of the title, I guess it makes sense. It could’ve easily been called The Jewish Exorcism, and minus the Jewish, haven’t we all seen an exorcism movie? That’s not to say it wasn’t good. It definitely wasn’t the entire movie, and it certainly didn’t ruin the movie.

Not too scary of a horror flick but a fun one, and well, who doesn’t like a little girl terrorizing everyone? Well noted are the quick cuts from the shocking scenes, the contrast an excellent execution not too often done in horror movies.

Admittedly, for genre fans only. Here’s an agreeable excerpt from an IMDb user:

In the end, this movie is a solid but not outstanding flick for genre fans that convinces with a gripping atmosphere, a solid acting and some intriguing elements around Jewish culture, lifestyle and religion which one doesn’t see that often in popular movies. The weaker parts such as a predictable story line, some too generic interpersonal tension filled relations and a couple of notable lengths in the beginning are definitely there but the positive elements are still dominating. It’s definitely not a classic but despite its flaws an enjoyable flick worth to be watched for a reduced price at your local cinema if you happen to like this kind of films.

To give further validation and to discredit the poor reviews, surprisingly high but not disagreeable reviews from critics: Roger Ebert gave the film 3.5 out of 4 stars. Richard Roeper also gave the movie a B+.

The Possession is now playing in theaters.

Rating: 4 stars out of 5

IMDb rating: 6.1
What it should be: 7.1

Consider

BJ

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