OVERALL RATING: 2 DISHES
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Hilarious extended riff on the wish-fulfillment storyline, a blue collar Boston guy (Mark Wahlberg) tries to balance his relationship with his extremely patient fiancee (Mila Kunis), and his stuffed bear Ted (voice of Seth MacFarlane), who came to life when he was eight after a Christmas wish. Now, Ted has turned into the equivalent of a former child star, getting high and sleeping around with hookers, and attempting to make it on his own with a crummy minimum wage job.
MacFarlane gets a lot of flak for running the pop culture references on “Family Guy” into the ground, as well as overly relying on non-sequiturs, but the guy knows how to keep a 90 minute feature afloat, and he keeps the laughs coming consistently. As for Wahlberg, he proves once again after his great comedic turn in “The Other Guys” that he knows how to play the straight man. Though the film ladles on the schmaltz a little too much toward the end, it’s a consistent laugh from beginning to end.
OVERALL RATING: 4 DISHES
Two scientists (Noomi Rapace and Logan Marshall-Green) discover a series of cave paintings that indicate the possible existence of the origin of man, so they board a spaceship with a terse captain (Charlize Theron), a tough pilot (Idris Elba), a benign android (Michael Fassbender) and a bunch of other folks who make no impression whatsoever to explore another planet. However, it’s not too long before they start getting attacked by… something, and this all ties into the first Alien movie somehow too.
Given the level of anticipation built up for Prometheus, (it’s got the Aliens in it! And Ridley Scott is back in space! And also there’s also 3D!) some letdown was inevitable, but I was not expecting how much I’d truly dislike this movie. The movie feels like a cobbled-together collection of scenes with no build, no solid throughline, and zero tension. Sure the effects are decent (although the 3D is so negligible that it needn’t have been employed at all), but they’re at the mercy of a script with forgettable dialogue, enigmatic characters who don’t seem to have any motivation for the way they behave from one scene to the next, and indifferent performances (everyone’s raving about Fassbender’s android, but I’ll take Ash or Bishop any day over this clod). There’s exactly one scene that grabbed my attention (imagine if John Hurt had a little mechanical help extracting his little friend in Alien, and you’re close), but it’s been quite some time where I’ve been so disinterested in something so grandiose.
OVERALL RATING: 1.5/5 DISHES
OVERALL RATING: 5/5 DISHES
Overall Rating: 3/5 Dishes
‘Hugo’ might be the most personal film of Martin Scorcese’s career. Based on Brian Selznick’s children’s book, ‘The Invention of Hugo Cabret’, Scorcese shows his love for the history of cinema through the eyes of Hugo Cabret (Asa Butterfield).
Set in a dreamy version of 1930′s Paris, Cabret is an orphan who lives in a train station where he steals food and avoids the Station Inspector (Sacha Baron Cohen) who sends stray kids to an orphanage.
Cabret learned the art of clockmaking from his late father (Jude Law) and inherited his love of film. Hugo longs to finish restoring a relic left behind by his father, an automaton (a robot made of clock parts resembling a turn of the century version of C-3PO). The key to the restoration lies with another orphan, Isabelle (Chlöe Grace Moretz), and the couple she lives with (Ben Kingsley and Helen McCrory). Hugo introduces Isabelle to the magic of movies, and their quest ferries them through film history and the pioneering works of Georges Méliès.
Hugo is a film that doubles as an art exhibit, curated by Scorsese, who’s passion for cinema permeates this entire production. On display are works from a stellar cast and a list of Academy Award winners for cinematography, film editing, visual effects, music, costume design, all against the backdrop of the imaginative set designed by Dante Ferretti. At it’s core, Hugo is a touching tale with wounded characters searching for a purpose, and it will appeal to anyone passionate about the history of film.
OVERALL RATING: 4/5 DISHES
OVERALL RATING: 5/5 DISHES
This is the third Clooney-directed film I’ve seen, and I’ve noticed it’s a common issue. Where’s Jack Nicholson screaming, “you can’t handle the truth!” Where’s the fist fight? Where’s the heavy-hitting music to create suspense? When actors turn to directing, they leave behind these essential elements in favor of an understated approach (remember Robert De Niro’s ‘The Good Shepherd,’ for example?). I think they feel above it. I think they resent having spent so much time executing cheesy dialogue while running from a burning vehicle that they feel they can accomplish the same task without it. But like it or not — those things are often necessary to make a movie enjoyable. Otherwise, it’s as if I’m watching a documentary.
The movie stars Ryan Gosling as Stephen Meyers, the Junior Campaign Manager for Mike Morris (George Clooney), the Pennsylvania Governor who is trying to win the Democratic Primary to later run for President. Philip Seymour Hoffman plays Paul Zara, his Senior Campaign Manager. The campaign can be cutthroat at times, and by the end of it, it really doesn’t matter what anyone’s political belief is as long as Morris wins. The plot is relatively expected, with the exception of an interesting twist in act three. Unfortunately, by the time act three hit I had already mentally checked out of the film.
OVERALL RATING: 3/5 DISHES
I asked one of my editors to write me a review of ‘Rise of Planet of the Apes’ tonight, primarily because I’m over-worked, and I thought, “that’s what my editors are for, right? They take the burden off of me when I want a mini-vacation.” He insisted that he’s “way under-slept,” and he’s “being harassed by a “very dumb black and white cat who does not know how her claws work.” Since I’m a convincing boss, I insisted, and he delivered what has to be the worst movie review I’ve ever read. But because I needed a laugh, and he delivered — I’m posting his review in its entirety. Enjoy!
If I had to describe it in one word: Awesome. If I get two words: Super-Awesome.
But I must admit up front that I am super-biased. Why?
1. I am a discerning dude who loves the appropriate kind of movie destruction – and I think destruction by Apes is very appropro.
2. I love James Franco (but I am not gay)
To dispel all suspicions to the contrary this film is not a remake of any of the old Planet of the Apes films, it is a reboot – this story has not been done before.
Notwithstanding this hyper-technical factoid, any type of remake, reboot, revisit of prior films poses all kinds of risks of a major letdown. Fortunately, I myself have no stake in the original series.
You have to take this film for what it is. It is not high art. There are gaps in the plot. But overall it is an exciting and enthralling film.
As a foundation, it effectively offers character sketches of the three strong lead actors: James Franco as a passionate, flighty, and somewhat socially inept scientist bent on helping the world; John Lithgow as a father struggling with Alzheimer’s, and Caesar the lead ape, the movie is really about him and they really did a great job humanizing this ape.
And then the film added some themes that I really like: humans tampering with the natural order, existentialism, and animal rights.
Finally, as one would hope, the apes (I am so tempted to call them monkeys but they aren’t), kick major ass – they tear things apart, they ride horses, they defeat the SWAT team – you can’t go wrong, here. I mean if you are not into the ape carnage, still see it for Franco and Lithgow.
OVERALL RATING: 4/5 DISHES