Thursday, March 17, 2011

Battle Los Angeles

Battle Los Angeles is a pure combat movie. There is no character development, no big picture, just good guys vs bad guys in an urban environment. As a movie that just follows a platoon as they execute a simple rescue mission that goes sour, Battle Los Angeles works very well. Staff Sgt Nantz is also the role that Aaron Eckhardt was born to play.

At times, the movie seems like a recruiting film for the US Marines, but let's just assume that's the nature of war movies and not a Pentagon plot. If you had to make the obvious comparison, I would say I liked Battle Los Angeles a bit more than Independence Day because of its simplicity and its lack of humor. It's a combat movie and not much else.

Here is something I thought about on the drive home from the theater. Movies or TV shows where Michelle Rodriguez plays a bad-ass:
Battle Los Angeles
The Fast & the Furious
Resident Evil

Movies or TV shows where Michelle Rodriguez is hot without vamping it up:
Battle Los Angeles
The Fast & the Furious
Resident Evil

Hmm... 100% overlap. As far as I'm concerned, this is not a bad form of typecasting.


Monday, March 14, 2011


A pet chameleon is released into the desert and becomes sheriff of a critter town. I suppose the plot is no stranger than that of WALL-E, Ratatouille or Bambi, but Rango isn't in their league. I've complained - maybe not in my blog but complained nonetheless - that animated creatures in modern animated movies are too clean and fashionable. Well, if it was grit and grotesqueness that I was asking for, I got it. Half the varmints in Rango are approaching the line of icky and the other half are way over the line.

The plot of Rango is a bit convoluted and the motivation of the villain doesn't hold up under mild scrutiny. There are a few laugh-out-loud gags for adults but I suspect that most kids would yawn many a time during the movie. This child-at-heart did.


Sunday, March 13, 2011

The Adjustment Bureau

The Adjustment Bureau was promoted as a stylish sci-fi film and it is stylish, but they explain the sci in a hurry, which deflates much of the excitement. Matt Damon and Emily Blunt do well in their roles, but the movie is more about their romance than the thriller that was promoted in the commercials.

All-in-all, The Adjustment Bureau was a decent movie, even with the bait & switch, but I had a big problem with the ending. Actually, to have a problem with the ending, you have to have a problem with the premise, but I'm only going to talk about the ending. It was based on a short story by Phillip K Dick. I've not read any Dick stories but I've seen several movie adaptations and I recognize that he writes dark stories.  The Adjustment Bureau has a syrupy sweet-ending, so I'm guessing the movie followed his story closely but it wasn't one of his best, or the film-makers made their own ending.  My guess is that this wasn't the planned ending. They probably had something darker in mind that the studio or test audiences didn't like, so they re-edited and threw in a voice-over to wrap things up.

My recommendation, for the Matt Damon part of the movie, is to watch anything else he's done in the past two years that you've missed (True Grit, Green Zone, Hereafter, Invictus, The Informant!). The guy is fabulous, but this movie was a misfire by his standards. As for Emily Blunt, her ultimate romance was in My Summer of Love (2004).


127 Hours

127 Hours was nominated for Best Picture, etc, so you may have heard of it.  Here are a few observations about it spread out in nutshell .

First, Kate Mara and Amber Tamblyn appear in the movie, albeit briefly. No movie with those two in it could be completely bad. If you are a film-maker, let me give you a phrase that should be your mantra: More Kate Mara.

Next, either the name of the movie should have been changed or they should have lost the graphics telling us how much time had passed. We see the guy get trapped in a cave. We know the title of the movie is 127 Hours. What are the odds that it's going to take five days & seven hours before something changes? Every time they flashed a graphic stating it was Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, et al, my brain left the movie and calculated how much time was remaining. Sure, a lot of stuff happened and much of it important, but THERE WAS NO SUSPENSE. When I knew nothing crucial would happen for X number of days or hours, I felt like I was the one trapped.

Decent movie, big problems with the execution.


How I Met Your Mother – Again? Edition

I've put up a few posts about How I Met Your Mother in recent weeks. I could blog about other TV shows, but would you rather I talk about How I Met Your Mother or Charlie Sheen? Thought so.

How I Met Your Mother was in the news last week. They received a two-year renewal from CBS for their 7th and 8th seasons. When I saw that, I had two thoughts simultaneously. Yes, simultaneously. It's called in-brain multitasking. Or MPD. I can't tell which I have.

Firstly, in 2003, ABC was riding high with The Drew Carey Show. Just concluding its 7th season, Drew Carey was dominating its Wednesday time slot, delivering all the eyeballs ABC could want and still putting out a quality product. ABC decided to lock in their most valuable show and gave Drew Carey a two-year renewal.

Almost immediately after the 8th season premiere episode aired, the ratings dropped. Hard. I can't tell you if the quality of the show changed or not as I was one of the millions who stopped watching, although I don't remember any particular reason why. It was just time to move on, I guess.

The Drew Carey Show limped through its 8th season and was yanked by ABC. Remember that two-year renewal? Warner Bros held ABC to their end of the contract and forced them to pay for season nine. But in order to collect, Warner Bros actually had to produce the show. The entire show – cast, crew, writers, staff – made 26 episodes that they knew weren't going to air. ABC eventually burned off the episodes, airing them in the summer of 2004, a full year after production began.

CBS gave 2.5 Men a two-year renewal last year, after its 7th season, and look what happened. 2.5 Men is also produced by Warner Bros and co-stars Ryan Stiles, who was also in The Drew Carey Show. Funny coincidence. I get worried when shows I like get two-year renewals.

My other thought was for Ted's daughter on How I Met Your Mother. In most episodes, they show a few seconds of two teenagers on a couch listening to their Dad's stories about how he met their mother. It's kind of the point of the show. The two kids aren't aging, so the actors probably showed up for one day of work in 2005, did a whole bunch of reaction shots and have been collecting easy paychecks ever since.

Except that these actors still exist, grew up and are still working. The daughter is played by now 24-year-old Lyndsy Fonseca, who is creating a nice little career for herself, appearing in the movies Kick-Ass, Hot Tub Time Machine and co-starring in one of my favorite TV series, Nikita.

The troubling thought that I had was that Lyndsy is a hottie with well documented comedic chops. In two years, at the end of How I Met Your Mother's guaranteed run, she'll be about the right age to play Ted's wife (the right age in sitcom terms, that is – I personally think Ted should try to stay a bit more age appropriate). Wouldn't it be neat if Lyndsy Fonseca played both the daughter AND the mother? Neat, and a little creepy? The resemblance would be uncanny. And a little creepy.

This was just a passing thought when I heard the news of the two-year renewal.  I really hope that Lyndsy won't be available to appear on How I Met Your Mother as an adult because I want her to be playing Alex on Nikita for a few more years.

The Green Hornet

It's been five weeks since I saw The Green Hornet in the theater. My note at the time was “Barely Adequate.” Looking back, I think that may have been a Minnesota Nice way of saying it was bad.

Much like Jack Black, a little Seth Rogen goes a long way. As he was also the writer and producer, I guess his Hollywood success has reached that level where no one wants to tell him “No.” The story was thin and more than a little familiar. The rich man-boy suffers a tragedy and becomes a vigilante has been done – it was called Batman.

Christoph Waltz of Inglorious Basterds cashed a paycheck and chewed the scenery as the villain. I have no idea why Battlestar Galactica hero Edward James Olmos or aging uberhottie (but still uberhot) Cameron Diaz were in this movie. The gadgets, the sight gags, the CGI fight scenes all sound great until you put them together into The Green Hornet. All in all, a good movie to skip, even on home video.