Nim’s Island – movie review

Anything can happen on “Nim’s Island,” a magical place ruled by a young girl’s imagination. It is an existence that mirrors that of her favorite literary character, Alex Rover- the world’s greatest adventurer. But Alexandra, the author of the Rover books, leads a reclusive life in the big city. When Nim’s father goes missing from their island, a twist of fate brings her together with Alexandra.

Nim's Island
Cast: Jodie Foster
Studio: Fox
Rating: 6/10

Corporate Line:
Anything can happen on “Nim’s Island,” a magical place ruled by a young girl’s imagination. It is an existence that mirrors that of her favorite literary character, Alex Rover- the world’s greatest adventurer. But Alexandra, the author of the Rover books, leads a reclusive life in the big city. When Nim’s father goes missing from their island, a twist of fate brings her together with Alexandra. Now, they must draw courage from their fictional hero, Alex Rover, and find strength in one another to conquer “Nim’s Island.”


The review:

“Nim’s Island” tries to fill a niche that is often either overlooked or screwed up by film studios–lighthearted teenage adventure movies. This is the type of movie that could have gone either way–instead it went the path easiest to travel–mediocrity. It’s interesting that Nim has access to every thing the world could provide, in terms of technology at least, and still not have to be told to go out and play with her sea lion. Big joke right? Now you understand how the film went.

One of the positive aspects of the movie is that its very endearing and uplifting for younger viewers. Sadly, the great cast suffer from isolation. Each is asked to carry their portions, not that they lack skill to pull off such a feat, they just have nothing to work with.

Finally:
If your goal is to keep yourself mildly amused this weekend “Nim’s Island” can help you lose touch with the world for a little while at least. But if your phone vibrates or you need more popcorn, its easy to forget this movie and move on without much concern. Next week we’ll have all but have forgotten about this little mediocrity.

Watch the trailer:

Leatherheads – movie review

Leatherheads
Cast: George Clooney
Studio: Universal
Rating: 6/10

Corporate line:
Oscar® winners George Clooney and Renée Zellweger match wits in Leatherheads, a quick-witted romantic comedy set against the backdrop of America’s nascent pro-football league in 1925. Clooney plays Dodge Connolly, a charming, brash football hero who is determined to guide his team from bar brawls to packed stadiums. But after the players lose their sponsor and the entire league faces certain collapse, Dodge convinces a college football star to join his ragtag ranks. The captain hopes his latest move will help the struggling sport finally capture the country’s attention. Welcome to the team Carter Rutherford (John Krasinski), America’s favorite son. A golden-boy war hero who single-handedly forced multiple German soldiers to surrender in WWI, Carter has dashing good looks and unparalleled speed on the field. This new champ is almost too good to be true, and Lexie Littleton (Zellweger) aims to prove that’s the case. A cub journalist playing in the big leagues, Lexie is a spitfire newswoman who suspects there are holes in Carter’s war story. But while she digs, the two teammates start to become serious off-field rivals for her fickle affections. As the new game of pro-football becomes less like the freewheeling sport he knew and loved, Dodge must both fight to keep his guys together and to get the girl of his dreams. Finding that love and football have a surprisingly similar playbook, however, he has one maneuver he will save just for the fourth quarter…

The review:
Clooney is dead-on when he takes on serious roles, but ends up being hit or miss when it comes to his comedic ventures. “O Brother Where Art Thou” was brilliant while some of the Ocean’s movies are lacking when the spotlight is onClooney. Of course it wouldn’t be a Clooney movie without a dame, that’s old school for beautiful love interest. In every scene Clooney seems as if he wants so badly for us to believe he can be as funny as he can be serious. It’s hard to believe this guy. Zellweger is meek in her role as Lexie and not much chemistry passes across the screen.

Finally:
For a comedy there is far too much dialogue–maybe that’s because it rarely comes off as witty, smart and sassy. Instead its boring as hell. Leatherheads plays better as a trailer than an entire movie. The concept, era, leather helmets, and George Clooney all sound like a match made in heaven. Too bad its such a bore.

Watch the trailer.

Shine A Light – movie review

On April 4, 2008, an Academy Award(R)-winning filmmaker and the world’s greatest rock n’ roll band will unite to bring audiences the year’s most extraordinary musical film event, “Shine a Light,” to theaters everywhere.

Shine A Light
Cast: Mick Jagger
Studio: Paramount
Rating: 6/10

Corporate line:
On April 4, 2008, an Academy Award(R)-winning filmmaker and the world’s greatest rock n’ roll band will unite to bring audiences the year’s most extraordinary musical film event, “Shine a Light,” to theaters everywhere. Martin Scorsese’s concert documentary “Shine a Light” will show the world the Rolling Stones as they’ve never been seen before. Filming at the famed Beacon Theatre in New York City in fall 2006, Scorsese assembled a legendary team of cinematographers to capture the raw energy of the legendary band.

The review:
Some people believe “The Last Waltz” was a classic–not I. And I’d paint the Rolling Stones/Martin Scorsese version “Shine A Light” in the same color. This isn’t a once in a lifetime kind of movie and certainly can’t replace seeing the Stones in concert. this doesn’t hold a flame to Scorsese’s series “The Blues.” This can’t even compete with the fantastic “U2 3D because that brought something different to the audience. If you really want to watch a great Rolling Stones movie then look no further than your local video store and “Gimme Shelter.” Scorsese tries to bring some of those documentary qualities to “Shine A Light” but there is no backdrop, no drama, no story other than the Stones are putting on another concert–the same thing they’ve done for 40 years.

Finally:
“Shine A Light” will be fun for Rolling Stones fans. But if you expect to learn something then this isn’t the film. Scorsese would have been better off doing a Rolling Stones documentary ala “The Beatles Anthology.”

Superhero Movie

Super is as super does. Finally, the guys behind the outrageously silly Scary Movie franchise have used their own ‘special powers’ to spoof superhero movies.

Superhero Movie
Cast: Drake Bell
Studio: Weinstein Company
Rating: 3/10

Corporate line:
Super is as super does. Finally, the guys behind the outrageously silly Scary Movie franchise have used their own ‘special powers’ to spoof superhero movies. After being bitten by a genetically altered dragonfly, high school loser Rick Riker develop superhuman abilities like incredible strength and armored skin. Rick decides to use his new powers for good and becomes a costumed crime fighter known as “The Dragonfly”. However, standing in the way of his destiny is the villainous Lou Landers. After an experiment gone wrong, Lou develops the power to steal a person’s life force and in a dastardly quest for immortality becomes the super-villain, “The Hourglass.” With unimaginable strength, unbelievable speed and deeply uncomfortable tights, will the Dragonfly be able to stop the sands of The Hourglass and save the world? More importantly, will we stop laughing long enough to notice?

The review:
The only thing that can save “Superhero Movie” is a superhero–but you won’t find one in this movie. You won’t find any laughs either. The sad fact is that the trailer is ten times funnier than the movie. How can that be? It’s easier to watch a few minutes than an hour-and-a-half, especially when there is only a few minutes of laughs total. The rest is painful filler. The only thing worth writing about is Tracy Morgan–only because he’s always funny irregardless of the crap that surrounds him. If you are down with fart and ball jokes then by all means rush out and buy yourself a ticket. But if you are looking for laughs you won’t find it here. Then again the teens leaving the theater talking about the movie as if they just saw “Animal House” might prove me wrong.

21

Columbia Pictures’ action/adventure 21 is inspired by the true story of the very brightest young minds in the country – and how they took Vegas for millions. Ben Campbell (Jim Sturgess) is a shy, brilliant M.I.T. student who – needing to pay school tuition – finds the answers in the cards.

21
Cast: Kevin Spacey
Studio: Sony
Rating: 4/10

Corporate line:
Columbia Pictures’ action/adventure 21 is inspired by the true story of the very brightest young minds in the country – and how they took Vegas for millions. Ben Campbell (Jim Sturgess) is a shy, brilliant M.I.T. student who – needing to pay school tuition – finds the answers in the cards. He is recruited to join a group of the school’s most gifted students that heads to Vegas every weekend armed with fake identities and the know-how to turn the odds at blackjack in their favor. With unorthodox math professor and stats genius Micky Rosa (Kevin Spacey) leading the way, they’ve cracked the code. By counting cards and employing an intricate system of signals, the team can beat the casinos big time. Seduced by the money, the Vegas lifestyle, and by his smart and sexy teammate, Jill Taylor (Kate Bosworth), Ben begins to push the limits. Though counting cards isn’t illegal, the stakes are high, and the challenge becomes not only keeping the numbers straight, but staying one step ahead of the casinos’ menacing enforcer: Cole Williams (Laurence Fishburne).

The review:
“21” kills what is actually a really interesting true story. The cast of characters are split down the middle. Jim Sturgess offers up a good performance, along with his co-stars Kevin Spacey and Laurence Fishburne. It’s impossible to believe Kate Bosworth as an MIT student. It would have been easier to believe she worked at MIT as a secretary–even that would be debatable.

“21” is a movie that should have moved along quickly and been smart and suspenseful. Instead “21” is slow and plotting. Anyone who has read about the true story knows just how interesting it is–the true story really seems to good, and interesting, to be true. It’s amazing that the movie ends up being too boring to be based on the true events. Anyone who hasn’t heard the story will watch this and wonder “why did anyone make this into a movie?”

Run, Fat Boy, Run

DENNIS (Simon Pegg) is an ordinary guy. He’s a little overweight and he smokes, but he’s nice, charming and unassuming. However, five years ago, Dennis did something that wasn’t so nice. On his wedding day to his pregnant fiancé LIBBY (Thandie Newton), Dennis did a runner.

Run, Fat Boy, Run
Cast: Simon Pegg
Studio: Picturehouse
Rating: 5/10

Corporate line:
DENNIS (Simon Pegg) is an ordinary guy. He’s a little overweight and he smokes, but he’s nice, charming and unassuming. However, five years ago, Dennis did something that wasn’t so nice. On his wedding day to his pregnant fiancé LIBBY (Thandie Newton), Dennis did a runner. He just couldn’t go through with it. He didn’t think he was good enough for Libby, so instead of ruining her life, he ruined her big day. Now, five years later, Dennis realizes he made a big mistake. He’s still in love with Libby. He still sees her all the time because of JAKE (Matthew Fenton), their five-year-old son, but all romantic ties have been severed. Libby’s now seeing WHIT (Hank Azaria), a charming professional from the City, and Dennis takes an immediate dislike to him. Whit is casual, easy-going, successful and good with Jake; much to Dennis’s annoyance. How can Dennis compete with him? In direct contrast to Whit’s sleek lifestyle in the City, Dennis is a mere security guard for a ladies retail store. He doesn’t earn much money and he’s well behind on his rent, something which his landlord, MR GHOSHDASHTIDAR (Harish Patel), doesn’t take lightly. Mr G’s daughter MAYA (India de Beaufort) is particularly intent on evicting Dennis and replacing him with a much more reliable tenant. Compared to Whit’s effortless abilities, everything Dennis attempts seems to end in disaster. Even when he wants to take Jake to see “Lord of the Rings: The Musical,” he finds himself in trouble with the police for trying to buy from a ticket tout. There is no help forthcoming from Dennis’ feckless best friend GORDON (Dylan Moran), whose life is just as much of a mismatch. Gordon’s main sources of interest are the poker games held at the back of a piano store with a bunch of misfits: GROVER, CLAUDINE and MICKEY, overseen by the imperious VINCENT (Simon Day). Dennis feels demoralized and overwhelmed by Whit’s long list of achievements. In a last-ditch effort to prove to Libby that he’s changed his ways, Dennis impulsively announces at her birthday party that he will run in the same London Marathon that Whit has been training for. But does Dennis have the stuff to trade his cold feet for running shoes? RUN, FAT BOY, RUN is a romantic comedy that affirms that true love isn’t a sprint, it’s a marathon.

The Review:
What has happened to Mr. Simon Pegg since the brilliant “Shaun of the Dead”? It’s been all downhill with “Hot Fuzz” and “Run, Fat Boy, Run”.

We know Simon Pegg can be hilarious. Even better Pegg doesn’t have to try too hard to be hilarious–like Will Ferrell. But like some stupid Will Ferrell movie, “Run, Fat Boy, Run” has a superficial story that couldn’t keep the movie pushing along. The only redeemable quality about this movie is Pegg. Everything else is painful. Pegg’s character Dennis actually makes you want to cheer for him even as you are wishing for the movie to end quickly. Pegg tries like crazy to save the movie from every other character. We all love the loser and cheer for him–it’s no different here. It’s too bad its nearly impossible to recommend this movie even if you love Pegg’s previous works.

Stop-Loss

STOP-LOSS Policy – The retention of soldiers in the service beyond their expected term. Using a loophole in soldiers’ military contracts to prohibit servicemen and women from retiring once their required term of service is complete.

Stop-Loss
Cast: Ryan Phillippe
Studio: Paramount
Rating: 6/10

The corporate line:
STOP-LOSS Policy – The retention of soldiers in the service beyond their expected term. Using a loophole in soldiers’ military contracts to prohibit servicemen and women from retiring once their required term of service is complete. Also widely known as a “Back Door Draft.” “Stop-Loss,” director Kimberly Peirce’s first film since the Academy Award®-winning “Boys Don’t Cry,” is a topical and emotionally penetrating drama examining a government policy that has affected the lives of more than 80,000 of America’s brave men and women in uniform. The enforcement of the Stop-Loss policy makes each of them walk the fine line between doing their duty and doing what’s right. Sgt. Brandon King (Ryan Phillippe) fought for America. He fought for freedom. He fought for his family. He gave everything and then he came home to begin his life anew. But now they want more. They want him back.

The review:
Writer/director Kimberly Peirce has a lot to live up to. Her film “Boys Don’t Cry” was brilliant coming out of nowhere only to win numerous awards. Stop-Loss might be coming out of nowhere but it sure isn’t going to be holding out hope for a golden statue. Although much of “Stop-Loss” feels as though it comes from the same vein as “Boys Don’t Cry” it never evokes nearly as much emotion. There are moments where you start to feel Brandon’s (Ryan Phillippe) pain but its never enough to make you fully invested.

“Boys Don’t Cry” and “Stop-Loss” both make you cringe from the injustices that happen to regular people who don’t know someone powerful enough to make their problems go away. Phillippe doesn’t have shoulders wide enough to carry this film and the emotions are never built up enough to keep the audience holding on. The movie fails to keep any consistency–at least enough to make it move quickly.

Old School

Old School
Cast: Luke Wilson
Studio: Dreamworks
Rating: 5/10

The Corporate Line: This is the story of three guys in their early 30’s, Mitch (Wilson), Frank (Ferrell), and Beanie (Vaughn), who try to relive their old college glory days by moving into a large house near their old campus. They inadvertently form an “unofficial fraternity”, where students can enjoy all the riches of the partying lifestyle without the commitment that comes with having to abide by the university’s fraternity rules. Soon, however, the realities of their past lives catches up with their wild college lifestyles.

The Good: I laughed out loud a few times. That was only when Will Ferrell was onscreen. Aside from that there isn’t another reason to laugh. Ferrell proves he could easily join Jim Carrey in Dumb & Dumber 2. Ferrell makes looking stupid easy.

The Bad: The film couldn’t be any more color by numbers. You see what’s coming long before it comes. You’d think it didn’t matter in a silly comedy but it does when the comedy isn’t really that funny. Vince Vaughn is not funny. Nothing about him is funny and he can’t even act like he’s funny. Same thing goes for Luke Wilson. Luke makes his brother Owen look like Chris Rock. These two are as exciting as white bread.

Frankly: If you need something to watch this Friday then watch America’s Funniest Home videos where the people aren’t playing stupid.

+ charlie craine

Jeepers Creepers 2

Jeepers Creepers 2
Cast: Jonathan Breck, Justin Long, Nicki Lynn Aycox, Ray Wise, Billy Aaron Brown
Studio: MGM
Rating: 3/10

Corporate Line: As its 23 horrifying days of flesh-eating come to an end, an ancient creature known as the Creeper embarks on a final voracious feeding frenzy, terrorizing a group of varsity basketball players, cheerleaders and coaches stranded on a remote highway after their bus breaks down. Fighting their own fears and prejudices while trapped aboard the isolated bus, the terrified group of young athletes are forced to come together and do battle against the winged creature hell-bent on completing its grizzly ritual of feasting on humans.

The Good: The Creeper caught some and put them out of their misery. The Creeper is actually creepy in a Freddy Krueger sort of way – which means he’s not exactly scary. A few scenes are almost comical. Which now that I think about it really belong under the bad section of this review…

The Bad: Jeepers Creepers is slow. Very, very slow. You watch a horror film to be scared. Watching this you only want everyone in the film to shut up. If you want to see a bunch of teens perform poorly thought out lines in a poorly thought out plot there are other teen movies to see. If you want to be scared then stay home and rent The Exorcist.

Frankly: I wasn’t looking to the sky while leaving the theater. Stay home, it’s a safer bet.

+ Charlie Craine

Invincible

Invincible
Cast: Mark Wahlberg
Studio: Disney
Rating: 7/10

THE STORY: From the studio that brought you “The Rookie” and “Remember The Titans” comes INVINCIBLE, inspired by the true story of Vince Papale (MARK WAHLBERG), a man with nothing to lose who ignored the staggering odds and made his dream come true. When the coach (GREG KINNEAR) of Papale’s beloved hometown football team hosted an unprecedented open tryout, the public consensus was that it was a waste of time — no one good enough to play professional football was going to be found this way. Certainly no one like Papale — a down-on-his-luck, 30 year-old, substitute teacher and part-time bartender who never even played college football. But against these odds, Papale made the team and soon found himself living every fan’s fantasy — moving from his cheap seats in the upper deck to standing on the field as a professional football player.

THE REVIEW: Disney leads the way with inspiring sports movies: Miracle, Remember The Titans, and The Rookie. Now they have added Invincible to a line-up of “true stories.” We aren’t disputing that much of the film actually happened—its how much Disney glorifies everything to the uppermost degree. The sappiness of the story can be extremely aggravating—but it tends to win you over.

If you watch Invincible from the strict standpoint of being a monumental movie you’ll never enjoy it. However, if you watch it with the idea that Invincible has a message we all give our kids about how dreams come true—ala the Disney theme song—than you realize there is value in the story.

FRANKLY: Invincible is no Rocky—but it does have an almost identical message right down to the locale. Invincible is about dreams and how greatness means stepping out of the crowd—even if it doesn’t mean being the greatest. It’s about taking chances and because dreams never come true without taking a chance in the first place.

+ Charlie Craine