Wednesday, May 21, 2008

No time for love Dr. Jones.

It's here. The latest installment in the summer movie nerdfest. Harrison Ford dons the fedora once again for a throwback to classic cinema at it's biggest and most kitchy and over-the-top.
Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull rolls out with the big summer movie blockbusters. In typical Lucas/Spielberg fashion, it's BIG. Huge action sequences. Lots of plot twists and turns. Global travel. Nuclear explosions. Area 51.
Okay, that's probably not what you were expecting, well, neither was I. It seems that Lucas and Spielberg decided there was a need to update the Dr. Jones storyline with some more modern plot devices.
It has the feel of classic cinema with some contrived but interesting elements that have the epic feel of the old Indiana Jones movies. It is more fun than a lot of the movies that have come out in recent memory, even if it isn't as good as a Temple of Doom.
Soviet conspiracy in the middle of the red scare in America sets the stage as Indy gets pulled out of the cushy academic life and back in to the adventuring business. A good friend of his has gotten a hold of a legendary artifact which has "powers" that are unexplained.
The story goes from olden conspiracy to newer conspiracy as it gets flavored with tinges of an X-Files episode. But not to worry, there is plenty of swinging from the rafters and old-fashioned whip fighting to go around.
I'll give it a solid B for the effort.
-John Berry, Online Editor--

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Hitting the theaters this weekend.

Reaching back to the good old days of 2005, a small independent film starring Ugly Betty's America Ferrara called How the Garcia Girls Spent Their Summer is being re-released. It is described as similar to her debut, Real Women Have Curves, and is getting a limited release as many smaller films tend toward. This might be my pick for the week's new releases as nothing else is really exciting me.
Narnia's exploration continues with Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian storms into theaters to knock Iron Man out of the top box office slot. The first installment was a solid film and was as good as i remember the book being. Granted, i don't remember much of the book being that i read it around the age of six. But i never read the other books in the series, so the sequel film doesn't have the nostalgia factor for me. It does seem to boast more action and less fantasy than Wardrobe, so it might have promise. If i were six again. Which i'm not.
The only other movie i know of hitting the big screen this week is another limited-release, indie flick called Reprise. European arthouse fare about two friends who want to be writers. From the descriptions, does not sound that thrilling. However, some of the reviews are lauding it's ability to push and pull it's audience emotionally from one extreme to another. So the positive reviews are making me interested, even though i rarely agree with real film critics.
Maybe it's a week to go see something that's been out for a while. Forgetting Sarah Marshall, here i come...
--John Berry, Online Editor--

Tuesday, May 13, 2008


This weekend i finally got a chance to check out Michael Moore's film about the medical and insurance industries, Sicko.
Moore starts out with a brief discussion of people who cannot get insurance, but covers more about people who have insurance but still cannot get proper medical care.
Contrasting America's system with several around the world, he also delves into the socialized aspects of other countries' health care systems.
While many people criticize Moore for making one sided documentaries, i can't fault him for it. Even when i disagree with his views on subjects, i appreciate his right to tell the story as he sees it. I have never seen a documentary that does not try to purport a specific viewpoint. No filmmaker i know of keeps their own views out of the products they create.
Back to the movie, not the man...
Sicko offers an interesting look at how government funded health care has worked around the world and the severe lack of regulation in our own country. In a time when health care is garnering headlines in all of the political discussions, this movie is an informative piece that serves to pull on the heartstrings a bit more than many of Moore's previous films, but ultimately is informative and thought provoking.
No one can really look at the current state of health care and honestly say there is nothing wrong with it. If nothing else, Moore offers up talking points to carry the discussion along.
--John Berry, Online Editor--

Thursday, May 8, 2008

This week in theaters

Okay, so there was a big week last week for the movie industry. Iron Man heralded the start of the summer blockbuster season with a hundred million dollar debut. A big moneymaker that is also getting good reviews means a sequel is already in the works.
But to follow that up this week, we get what could be a lackluster weekend.
Speed Racer is going to be the clear winner as far as American dollars are concerned. It looks a little too flashy and colorful for my taste. It is a live-action cartoon though, so it is no surprise that it looks like a cartoon. The style of the movie looks nothing like the old cartoon though. That might be a draw for some people, but it seems like they took out every aspect of the classic show except the names.
On the romantic comedy side there is What Happens in Vegas with Cameron Diaz and Asthon Kutcher. This looks like another the-funniest-part-are-in-the-trailer movie. With a promising supporting cast (Rob Corddry and Zack Galifianakis for starters) it should probably be better, but it looks like it'll be another formulaic typically cheesy boy-meets-girl crap fest with a formulaic twist.
No more major releases leave us with Frontier(s) from French filmmaker Xavier Gens. A horror movie meets a criminal/action movie set at a rural inn in the French countryside. Sounds like From Dusk Til Dawn in France to me. Might be worth watching for horror movie fans like me, but it might be yet another disappointment in a long line of disappointing European horror flicks.
The one movie this week that has me really interested is an international movie called The Fall. In limited release, we might not even get to see it here, but it should be visually thrilling and a wild fantasy film in the vein of Pan's Labyrinth.
Next week should be back to the blockbusters with the next Narnia installment.
--John Berry,
Online Editor

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Yes, I'm a nerd.

It's true. I had glasses growing up. Was in the smart kid classes. Playing sports and I were not friends. Most of the cool kids and I were not either.
I read a LOT of comic books. Still have some around. So the glut of superhero movies around has given me much joy and nerd-heartache.
Bad comic book movies are a crime. See: Punisher (both Tom Jane and Dolph Lundgren), Daredevil, Ghost Rider, etc.
For me, good comic book movies however are a guilty pleasure like no other.
Iron Man is just that. Made by nerds. Jon Favreau is clearly one of us at heart. Yeah, he's cool now that he's a Hollywood big-shot, but you can tell he was a nerd once.
Thoroughly enjoyable. Fast paced. Solid action. Stupid jokes. And more nerdy tech-heavy sequences than you can shake a plastic lightsaber at.
Robert Downey Jr. was a questionable call in my mind before I saw this movie. He really surprised me though and made the lovable jerk billionaire come to life. It's a good thing too because we'll probably see at least a couple of sequels.
The supporting cast was perfect too. Gwyneth Paltrow is super-hot as a redhead. Oh, and she plays Pepper with a depth and complexity that I never saw in a comic book, since most comic books write female characters that are one-dimensional props. And Gwyneth looks hot as a redhead. Terrence Howard is always great, so there is nothing new there. Jeff Bridges makes a pretty tough bad guy. Who would have thunk Tucker could be so b.a. Not to mention a minor but awesome role played by Clark Gregg who directed the upcoming film rendition of Chuck Palahniuk's masterpiece of modern fiction.
A perfect balance of fever-pitched action and exploration of the origins of the Iron Man makes this an ideal distraction from real life.
Iron Man gets a B+.
--John Berry, online editor--