Premium Rush

Release date: August 24, 2012 

Ride like hell.

Pedestrians hate motorists. Motorists hate pedestrians. But everyone hates cyclists.

Going into Premium Rush I couldn’t help but think about the add campaign for this flick really making it seem like The Transporter… on a bike. As good an action flick as that series is, I was gleefully surprised that Premium Rush in fact not The Transporter Goes Green.

This little 91 minute, 35 million dollar flick stars our new Hollywood-favourite allround good-guy Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Wilee, a bike messenger with a passion for the extreme as he tries to deliver a package that’s worth a lot more than the thirty bucks he’s getting paid. He’s gotta do that while being vexed by Michael Shannon as Bobby Monday, a dirty cop trying to dig himself out of a gambling debt. Director David Koepp follows these two through the means streets of Manhattan using stunningly beautiful shots.

This is a pretty flick. But like some pretty ladies. It’s all looks and no brains.

WHAT WORKED:

– The action. I won’t lie the stunt people working on this flick deserve double pay. Awesomely planned sequences weaving in and out of traffic between Mazdas (There’s some solid product placement in this film) and UPS trucks. The camera gets all up in their junk. Koepp even takes you into the decision making process of Wilee as he exams the possibilities in slowmotion with graphics. Sometimes he eats pavement. Sometimes he thrashes a baby carriage. He usually chooses the flashier option in which he lives.

– Michael Shannon. He’s a douche-bag. It’s a reoccurring theme in this film. But he plays it up very well. He gracefully straddles the line between goofball and sleazeball that keeps the audience interested.

– The first two acts. The action is pretty solid and fast-paced. The story develops quickly and not too deeply. We care enough so that when the subject of why Wilee’s galpal is mad at him, is brought back later in the film it isn’t just cheesy time-filler.

WHAT DIDN’T WORK:

– The third act! I don’t know if this is an issue from the writing team of Koepp and John Kamps or maybe if was an editing problem. But the pace of this rather short film seems to start sputtering like my uncle Joe’s Buick.

– The humour. A lot of the jokes kind of fell flat on their faces. At one point they get heavy into a car/bike chase with Monday telling Wilee that everyone hates him because he’s a bike-messenger. Great way to have people sympathize for your main character; remind people that they do hate cyclists.

– There’s a scene in which Wilee is racing another bike-messenger through the park. Yeah. A race. Not in a must save something important, but a “I know I’m faster than you so I’m going to be a jerk about it way.” Thanks Hollywood for the 35 million dollar Tour-de-France-Central-Park.

– Some plot holes. Nothing to get worked up about if you’re able to suspend your disbelief from the start of the film.

THE LOWDOWN:

– I doubt Premium Rush will rake in 35 mil this weekend. It’s a good little flick if you’re in the mood to see some awesome action shots with a bike and some cool GPS graphics. The pace of the film will keep you excited for the most part, and when it does start to get sloppy, the insane final bike ride will keep you happy.

Premium Rush is 80% Prime Awesome!

The Running Man

Release date: November 13, 1987 The Running Man

A game nobody survives, but Schwarzenegger has yet to play.

As a part of Cineplex’s Most Wanted Mondays film program where they show a retro film once a month on a Monday as voted on by you the people, and hosted by me here in lovely Montreal, (cheap plug) I got to relive this little film filled with one-liners, practical effects, a gaped-toothed Austrian which is based on the Stephen King novel of the same name.

Holy crap in a handbasket, Batman! This one certainly didn’t age well visually. I always love seeing films from past eras trying to predict what the future will look like style-wise while trying to uphold the latest trends from their moment. The Running Man which is directed by Paul Michael Glaser, does just that. Set in a dystopia totalitarian future, where the government and television networks work together to spread propaganda Ben Richards (Arnold Schwarzenegger) must survive on the biggest game show where fugitives try to run for their freedoms from “stalkers,” paid-trained killers. Along the way Richards picks up friends to help him overthrow the network and their smarmy host Damon Killian (Richard Dawson.)

WHAT WORKED:

– The premise. In a world before The Hunger Games or The Condemned (Which I feel should have just been called The Running Man 2: Electric Boogaloo) this was a concept that was fairly original.

– The dark tone. Now I believe this was done purposely, and not just as a result of a shrinking budget, but everything in this film felt dirty. From the destroyed city streets where the poor must scavenge for themselves and avoid rioting, to the studio set in which the rich people are the live audience for the heinous marathon. This is something I didn’t feel while watching The Hunger Games. Yeah the districts kinda looked grungy, but they didn’t feel poor and filthy.

– The one-liners. I’ll admit it. I’m a fan of cheesy oneliners. And this flick has a bunch. Even some of Arnold’s greatest hits get some use in this one. I mean this in the sense that they’re so bad, that they come back around on the spectrum and are funny again. Kind of like the rule of three.

WHAT DIDN’T WORK:

– The acting. Big surprise right? No one. Not even Richard Dawson here would be safe from a Razzie. Now I know the script had something to do with it, but damn, I’ve seen table reads from fourth-graders that packed more emotion. They all read like a bunch of Terminators; just without the cool shades.

– The entire third act. I felt the movie was progressing along well until… BAM. It was a 20 minutes snowball dash to the finish. You don’t really get the emotional payoff of seeing Killian get what’s coming to him. Did I mention how great Killian is for a villain name? It’s about as good as Vilain from The Expendables 2 (Electric Boogaloo)

THE LOWDOWN:

– You’re in for a stupid good time. The premise may seem deep and revolutionary, well at the time it was. But it’s a relatively short 101 minutes that packed with one-liners about splitting people in two and puns on decapitation. This flick is a sure fire way to have a good time in front of the ol’ telly.

The Running Man is 80% Prime Awesome.

The Odd Life of Timothy Green

Release date: August 15, 2012 The Odd Life of Timothy Green

Usually when your cheese is green, it’s a bad thing.

But not here!

Disney! You dastardly rich bastards. Not only are you doing the right thing by letting Marvel spill awesome sauce all over cinemas; you’re also destroying the “Hallmark” film genre!

This week I sat down for something I was afraid was going to make me gassy and have sharts all night. For those of the uninformed variety, a shart is a hard fart. I’ll be honest: I didn’t think much of The Odd Life of Timothy Green before the projector was turned on. I expected to have two hours and 5 minutes of cheesy acting, stories and Jennifer Garner‘s sharp chin and big ears thrown at my eye balls. I was right on one of those assumptions. I bet Ben Affleck hide’s fantastic his scripts behind those things for safe keeping.

This fantasy flick, is co-written and directed by Peter Hedges, the same dude who gave us Dan in Real Life and About a Boy. So you’d expect this film to instill great life lessons routed in Christian morals.

I’m surprised I didn’t just burst into flames typing that sentence. But I am suddenly hot. Very hot.

Alrighty! The Odd Life of Timothy Green stars, Jennifer “I won’t let my husband Ben hang out with Kevin Smith Anymore” Garner, Joel “I’ve played an owl” Edgerton, David “Evil Cop from House” Morse and CJ “LOOK AT MY EYES THEY ARE A PORTAL TO ANOTHER DIMENSION Adams.

This flick follows a couple Cindy (Garner) and Jim (Edgerton) Green, living in the small town of Stanelyville, which is known for pencil making. Cindy and Jim are unable to conceive a child, so they turn to an adoption agency. While there they recant a story to prove that they are fit parents. Wild and fantastic the story involves them, drunkenly writing down all the traits and characteristics of their imaginary child. They then bury these traits in a wooden box in the backyard. Magically, during a drought they have a hard rainstorm and something sprouts from the garden. A boy. With leaves on his legs. This little boy then helps the couple and the town turn a new leaf. (Editor’s note: Yes. I just did that. Now join me in quickly drinking a half bottle of rum to help forget about the whorish thing I just did, and the fat guy you likely slept with last night.)

What Worked:

– The pacing! Again and again I mention this stuff in my reviews, but it’s true. The way a flick is edited will either make it or break it. Andrew Mondshein, who also edited The Sixth Sense did a great job at keeping the story alive here. Just when it starts getting a little to “after school special” he kicks it into a different gear to keep it fresh.

– The kids! CJ Adams has eyes more expressive than Bane from The Dark Knight Rises. It never felt like they had to quickly turn on a camera after someone had to say something emotional to the kid to keep him in character. This little squirt has IT! If you were ever to remake Stand By Me, I’d wait a little longer and put this kid in it. Damn! Also pulling her weight is Odeya Rush. Sure she’s a little older than CJ, but she took what could have been something creepy in theory and made it wholehearted and touching. But not touching in a Michael Jackson way. Nope. She did it like Mother Teresa, with a banana seat bike.

What didn’t work:

– Some of the acting. This might be a semi-spoiler. But there is a scene when our main couple discovers Adam’s character of Timothy is actually what sprouted from their hopes and wishes. THERE’S NO SCREAMING! They played it like that kid who wanted a Nintendo 64 for Christmas, but his parents didn’t know that there was a difference between that and a Playstation, so they bought him that. And that kid was too polite to tell them that they had just ruined his childhood so he tried to act surprised and happy, but really deep down inside he was plotting his revenge. Yeah they looked like that. Now I have been known for my sailor like vocabulary, but I think letting off a “Holy crap nuggets, Batman” could have been appropriate for this Disney flick.

The Lowdown:

The Odd Life of Timothy Green often plays on the dangerous line between Hallmarky and Cheesy. It does however lunge itself into the heartwarming end-zone of heartwarming. (I know the footballs.) If you dislike Jenn Garner as much as I do; this might not be the flick for you. If you’re a guy; this might not be the flick for you. If you’re unable to suspend your disbelieve; this might not be the flick for you. However, If you’re looking for a good first date flick, this might be a good one.

The Amazing Spiderman

Release date: July 3, 2012 The Amazing Spiderman

Straight up: STOP comparing it to the comics, cartoons and even the Sam Raimi films. Yes this is a reboot of a franchise that is BARELY 10 years old. However, I feel that with the colosal failure of Spiderman 3, we can all agree a change of direction was deeply needed.

Now I’ve heard a million theories about how Sony/Columbia could have handled this better, by “James Bonding” it. They could have used the new cast and story and avoided the origin story and let the fans decide personally if it were a reboot or simply a sequel with a new rodeo. But that’s NOT what they did. You’ll still pay to see this flick, so stop f–kin’ around and accept this fact.

Now on to business.

I didn’t see this one in 3D.

Wow. The Amazing Spiderman is all over your junk like that girl who just got dumped is all over that plate of nachos and triple chocolate ice cream. This shindig is directed by Marc Webb and stars Andrew “I have a hard time talking to pretty ladies and authority figures” GarfieldEmma “You know what I mean” Stone, Rhys Ifans, Denis “Just doin’ my job” Leary, Martin “Mr President” Sheen and Sally Field. With a cast this diverse you can expect some solid acting. But with the script they were given, you got the best they could do: average.

Like I said this is a 100% prime meat reboot. Now the original Raimi film Spiderman premiered on May 3, 2002. That’s barely a decade ago. With the last film headed by Raimi being in 2007, all that Tobey Maguire stuff is still pretty fresh in our minds. So it’s easy to compare the two; but the only comparisons I will make are: Garfield plays a MUCH better Peter Parker than Maguire did. I prefer this origin story, but because it’s slightly truer to the comics but because I felt it was better done.

The Amazing Spiderman follows Peter Parker as an average teen with a confusing past just trying to come to terms with who he is before being “blessed” with super powers. Powers he doesn’t quite know how to handle until the death of his Uncle Ben (Come on that’s not a spoiler is it?) sets him kind of in the right direction. All the while successfully seducing Gwen Stacy. Then comes the tormented bad guy who isn’t really a bad guy.

Fun fact, the makers of The Avengers wanted to include the Oscorp tower into their film, but couldn’t get the rendering done in time for their release.

What Worked:

– The acting! Yep. When you let good actors do their job, they’ll act their asses off for you. Andrew Garfield’s stock continues to rise with me, as he played this well. His Peter Parker is a real teenager, (even if he doesn’t look much like one) He was kind of shy, yet cocky, and awkward. Stone, Sheen and the rest of the gang take a cheesy comic book and an even cheesy script and make it for the lactose intolerant.

– The action! Man those fight scenes were pretty wicked. You had fluid motion without a camera that made you more car sick than the last time your half-blind bus driver dropped you off at high-school. I like how Webb made this Spiderman slightly more clumsy. I mean even if you woke up tomorrow with all that strength and agility, you’d slam into more than one wall too. Eh Tobey?

– The ending. I felt this Spidey flick ended with so many emotions that you are begging for more. With many “what ifs?” and “will they or won’t they?”

What didn’t work:

– The Script! Or at the very least the editing in post production. This flick went all over the place at some points. Their were scenes I was in promotional material that weren’t in this film that should have been to help explain certain nuances of the story and character development.  Now I’ve read a few reviews that say there weren’t as many laugh out loud moments as compared to the other Raimi films. First: Stop comparing. Second: I had a couple good chuckles, but I’ll admit, some of Spidey’s quips were flat.

– Mini-Spoiler: The LIZARDS. There are suddenly a bunch of little lizards roaming around New York City without any explanation nor impact on the story. WTF Webb!?

– The CGI for The Lizard. I feel as though they cut the budget when they got around to animating this big bad guy. Spiderman looks so fantastic and the scenes with him web slinging around NYC look awesome. But when you got this green-bro on screen, it felt like they cut him out of a completely CGI created world with photoshop and pasted him there.

– The third act. This film has a pretty solid opening and run. However just before the third act, the pacing and feel seem to drop off a bit, as if it lost a little interest in itself.

The Lowdown:

This isn’t going to beat The Dark Knight Rises, or The Avengers. This is Spiderman. The Amazing Spiderman. At it’s base, there’s a great story, with an amazingly cool superhero and some damn fine actors. Is this gonna win an Oscar for best film? F–k no! IS this gonna rock your socks? Hell Yeah! This has all the right ingredients for a fun night at the movies. It won’t make your brain hurt with complicated stories or churn your stomach like the last King Kong film. It’ll do what it was meant to do: entertain you for the majority of it’s 136 minutes! PS: Stick around during the credits. Mini-post-film-scene.

The Amazing Spierman is 80% Prime Awesome.

Prometheus

Release date: June 8, 2012 Prometheus

This film is bursting with awesome.

Prometheus is the prequel to the 1979 science fiction horror, Alien. Set in the late 21st century, this flick follows the crew of the Prometheus; as they attempt to find living beings that had left humanity maps in the ancient world. What they find isn’t what they had hoped to.

Ridley Scott (Alien and Gladiator) is back in the driver seat of this franchise; directing and producing this visual masterpiece, that stars, Noomi Rapace, Michael “bigger than Liam Neeson” Fassbender, Idris Elba and CHARLIZE THERON.

I’m going to keep this one short and sweet. Is this flick worth going out and putting on those hip 3D glasses? Fuck yes. Even as a stand-alone film, this thing works! (Almost as much as Charlize Theron’s body suit.)

What Worked:

– The acting. You have a metric poop-ton of talent bursting from your gut in this thang. Elba’s American accent is damn great. Fassbender is cold, you just don’t feel right with your own skin when he’s going at it. And This is the year if Theron. If she’s as balls-to-the-wall in Snow White and The Huntsman, then I have faith in that flick too.

– The look. The ship’s interior is as cold as Fassbender’s role. The planet and surrounding area just feel real. It’s not one of those films where you have to suspend your disbelief. No. You are on a moon of a blue Saturn!

– The 3D. I think if more films start using 3D like this, I won’t have a problem with it. I never once took off the glasses as it all just felt natural to me. Something that even Avatar couldn’t do. Now we got have to get some GOOD 3D GLASSES DAMMIT.

What Didn’t Work:

– There’s a moment at the end of the film (avoiding spoilers) that could have come at least 15 minutes sooner and had a bigger impact. But I guess I’m just digging for crap.

The Lowdown:

Go see Prometheus! Whether you love this kind of film of not, it’s just a well done flick. It has everything you’d want and expect. a fantastic look, great story, and some damn great actors. I rarely say a film is worth full-price WITH 3D, but this one is Verified Awesome!

The Cabin in the Woods

Release Date: April 13, 2012 The Cabin in the Woods

Holy bunt cakes Batman. Ever heard of the expression, “hell in a handbasket?” Well it fits here, only if you find handbaskets to be an effin’ good time!

The Cabin in the Woods is certainly a fun flick. It’s self aware nature lets us just suspend the disbelief.

Written by both Drew Goddard and Joss Whedon, and directed and  produced by each respectively; this flick actually has a somewhat original story. Five college students head off on a weekend get away at one of their cousin’s newly acquired cabins. Little do they know, they are being set up to be sacrificed to some ancient gods. What is immediately clear, is that this film appears to be following “the rules of horror films” as each kid fits a stereotype to the letter. What’s cool about The Cabin in the Woods is they bring in a “governmental agency” and high-tech stuff to complete ancient traditions.

What Worked:

– The story: This was an incredibly well written film. Which shouldn’t be a surprise as you have the brains behind Toy Story, Captain America, Firefly, Angel, Buffy The Vampire Slayer and LOST! They managed to use the typical story of 5 teens getting slayen into something new and interesting.

– The comedy: Some really well timed bits here.

– Surprise cameo. Let’s just say. When you see it you will sh!t bricks.

What didn’t Work:

– Chris Hemsworth. This is far from a knock at him. But I cannot buy this guy as a college student who dies when he’s f***ing THOR! This is probably really a personal thing. But dam he looks young in this thang.

– There’s a scene where a bunch of creatures get released. On paper it might have seemed like a fantastic idea. But in practise there were just too many and it took away from the epic-ness of the feeling.

The Lowdown:

The Cabin in the Woods is a damn good date movie. No one jumped out as a star, and you won’t be remembering this film in 8 months. But you will have a good time and a couple of laughs. If you’re faint of heart you should skip this one as it’s pretty graphic. But if you can sit through a sea of blood and guts you should put some pants one and at least check this out on cheapy-Tuesday.

The Cabin in the Woods is Unconfirmed Awesome.

The Grey

Release Date: January 27, 2012 thegrey

Putting aside all the jokes and myths about the fact that Liam Neeson is extremely well endowed, I now know more than ever, if I am in a sticky situation I want Liam as my wingman. This guy is boss even when he’s depressed as shit.

I recently sat down for the action thriller: The Grey. This flick is directed by Joe Carnahan, who has previously blessed us with Smokin’ Aces. This is the second time Carnahan has worked with Neeson as they did the awesome 2010 re-make of The A-Team. So without any doubt, I went into the film with hopes of a lot of action and great action shots.

The Grey follows a group of outcast men in the harsh environment of wintery Alaska after they survived a plane crash. They must survive off of little suplies while being hunted by wolves.

This was definitely a heavy film! The action scenes are well dispersed amongst a bevy dark and emotional scenarios that leave you feeling not quite comfortable.

What Worked:

– Liam Neeson. A badass suffering from depression who still have the strength to be a leader.

– The dark tone. Even though there are moments in The Grey where the characters and the audience got to share a laugh, it didn’t diminish the needed darkness of a post plane crash survivalist story.

– The CGI. I knew these wolves were fake. But they looked like they fit in the environment. There are too many times I look at a film and see a CGI creature that doesn’t affect it’s surroundings or look like it has weight. coughcoughTWILIGHTcoughcoughJACOBcoughcough

What Didn’t Work:

– The score. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but sometimes it felt a little too playful for such a dark film.

The Lowdown:

You’ll get a big bang for your buck! This is a must watch film. But be warned. You cannot go see this if you’re having a bad day or are already a little depressed. This flick will not help your situation. However, if you aren’t depressed pre-film-watching you’ll be sucked into a world where nothing is “fine and dandy.” The realness truly pushes you into a zone of discomfort and fear. This isn’t a scary film. It’s more of a face-your-fears-film.