Movie Review: Hop

Every major holiday you can expect movies to pop up to cash in on the festivities, and this Easter, we have the 3D animated/live action movie: Hop. I had no idea what to expect besides rabbits after looking at the standee, so I went into the cinema with no expectations at all.

Hop is about EB (Russel Brand), a rabbit that’s next in line to be the Easter bunny. Deciding that he enjoys drumming much more than hiding eggs in the gardens of humans, he decides to flee Easter Island and hide out in Hollywood. There he encounters Fred O’Hare (James Marsden), a man who’s basically nowhere in his life and trying to get back on the right track. Together they embark on a journey to grow up and realize their dreams.

Hop is a movie for families and kids. The jokes aren’t edgy (though Russel Brand as EB does pretty well) and despite the cast, you’re not going to have any Sex Drive/Forgetting Sarah Marshall humor here. It’s been taken down to grade school level. Children are going to love the cute characters in the movie, and adults, well adults don’t really have much to look forward to except wholesome fun. You can expect something similar to Alvin & The Chipmunks – just a whole lot less annoying. And you get Kaley Cuoco gracing the screen with her presence. Mmhmm.

The movie is nothing to shout about, and might even be a little boring for some people, but if you gotta take a younger sibling to a movie to shut them up for 1.5 hours, you can’t go wrong. Hop gets 5/10.

Movie Review: Justin Bieber: Never Say Never (3D)

Justin Bieber: Never Say Never
When the movie was first announced and posters starting appearing on walls, I never thought I’d ever find myself sitting in a cinema watching a movie starring child superstar Justin Bieber. As the months passed, and I found myself actually enjoying some of his singles, I thought why not just give it a shot. And I’m glad I did because I enjoyed the movie, surprisingly.

Never Say Never tells the story of Justin Bieber – how this 16 year old boy rose from being nobody to the megastar he is right now. Sure, it feels like one overhyped, full-blown special that belongs in the extras section on a special edition DVD, but they managed to include enough music and fillers to turn it into a movie. If you’re not a fan of the kid, chances are this movie won’t change your mind about him. But if you hate him, you should stay away, very far away. It really is all about Justin Bieber.

His story is pretty inspiring – Bieber actually worked hard to get where he is right now. He wasn’t some overnight sensation that people seem to think he is. Even though it was by fluke that he was discovered by his current manager, he had to face many rejections from labels before he finally got signed. Before he became a star, he was playing small shows at street corners, in schools and talent shows. In fact, the most surprising thing I discovered about him was that he’s a pretty good drummer. In fact, I think if he was drumming for a band now instead of being a pop sensation, he wouldn’t be getting all the hate he’s receiving right now, but we all choose our own paths in life, and this was what he chose.

Concert footage was pretty well shot, though you can tell some parts were just forced just to make use of 3D but his Madison Square Garden show (that was reported to have sold out in 22 minutes) has plenty of theatrics and big name guests to keep things interesting for people who don’t know his music.

Overall, I don’t have anything really bad to say about the movie – except that if you absolutely hate the Bieber, you shouldn’t be watching it in the first place. The plethora of screaming fan girls will probably annoy the hell out of you. If you’re not a hater, give the movie a shot, I’m sure you’ll be pleasantly surprised. Never Say Never gets a 6/10.

Movie Review: Just Go With It

Just Go With It
Just Go With it is about a cosmetic surgeon, Danny (Adam Sandler) who uses his wedding ring as leverage to get girls into bed with him. His tactic proves to be so successful; it gets him into trouble when he meets the girl of his dreams, Palmer (Brooklyn Decker) – or so he thinks. Enlisting the help of his assistant in the clinic, Katherine (Jennifer Aniston), Danny fabricates a crumbling marriage just to get together with Palmer. As usual, things never go according to plan.

Just Go With It has the hallmarks of your typical Adam Sandler movie – hot girl, kids, and the nonstop assault of jokes. So in essence, the movie delivers but it definitely isn’t one of Adam Sandler’s best ones. Adam Sandler as Dr. Danny is entertaining as usual, and so is Jennifer Aniston as Katherine. Brooklyn Decker is a pretty new face in the industry, and her good looks will get her places but she doesn’t really shine in terms of acting. The supporting cast does a great job, especially Katherine’s kids (Bailee Madison and Griffin Gluck) – hopefully they’ll get more roles in the future. Nicole Kidman and Dave Matthews are pretty funny as well.

Overall, it’s nothing much to shout about, but you’ll definitely have loads of fun watching this film. Just don’t expect a storyline more complex than getting from point A to point B and you’re set. But after watching the movie, you can’t help feel like age is catching up with Adam Sandler – his jokes seem to be much more family-oriented these days. Let’s hope he doesn’t lose his edge. Just Go With It gets a 6/10.

Movie Review: Suckerpunch

Zack Synder seems to be able to do no wrong. From his smash hit 300, all the way to his latest animated feature – Legend of the Guardians, it seemed like everything he touched turned to gold. Unfortunately for Suckerpunch, it looks like he might be losing his touch.

Suckerpunch tells the story of a girl, Baby Doll (Emily Browning) that was sent away to a mental asylum and is due for a lobotomy in a few days. Trying to escape reality, she retreats into her own imagination where she has to overcome some obstacles in order to escape the asylum and that’s when the lines between reality and fantasy start to blur. Or in Zack Snyder’s own words: Alice in Wonderland with guns.

Suckerpunch is a peculiar movie. On one hand you have the serious issues of an abusive stepfather, a recently passed away mother, and a dead sister Baby Doll was accused of committing. On the other hand you have this fantastic world of dancers, robots, giant samurai and Nazi soldiers. If there was a phrase to describe the movie, it would be pretty much style without substance. The ending leaves you puzzled and feeling a bit cheated when you realize that things aren’t what they seem, and if you know Alice in Wonderland, you pretty much get the gist of the movie.

The characters play their roles well. Emily Browning does a fantastic job of playing the sweet, innocent Baby Doll who brings out the guns blazing when required and the rest of the supporting cast perform their roles as side characters without any problem. That being said, none of the characters show any versatility or outstanding traits – to summarize, it’s a bunch of pretty faces playing very generic roles.

The visuals in this movie are top notch. Not as much slo-mo action we’re all used to seeing in Snyder’s movies, but the worlds are very well done. I would love to see how the movie transitioned from concept to the final set. The bad guys look bad, special effects are great, and everything is just beautiful. No complaints here.

Overall the movie is pretty much an overused storyline that brings nothing new to the table, but it does so with plenty of style. If you’re up for babes, explosions, dragons, swords, robots, Nazis, and pretty much everything that gets the blood pumping – you’ll find it in this movie. Emily Browning currently takes the cake for cutest actress ever – she really looks like a baby doll albeit one who kicks ass. If you’re planning to watch Suckerpunch – don’t analyze it, and just go along for the ride. You’ll find it as enjoyable as I did. Suckerpunch gets 6/10.

Movie Review: Unknown

Liam Neeson managed to pull off the bad ass, tough guy father role in his previous blockbuster Taken and it looks like he’s trying to repeat its success in this movie, but can he do it again? Not really.

Unknown tells the story of Dr. Martin Harris (Liam Neeson) who gets involved in a car accident and forgets who he is. He then tries to recover his identity, and uncovers a conspiracy along the way.

Unknown has an unoriginal but interesting premise that is ultimately letdown by some simple flaws (unveiled really early in the movie). And when the mystery finally unravels, you somehow feel unsatisfied and wish there was more to it. But there isn’t. Other than that, the journey to the end is nothing to complain about, it is fast-paced and exciting but not enough to keep you glued to the edge of your seat from start to finish.

The actors do an alright job here, but unlike Taken, Liam Neeson’s age seems to be showing – maybe he really is getting older. Diane Kruger and January Jones provide the eye candy, and Bruno Ganz (the man who acts as Hitler in the widely parodied YouTube videos) does a good job of playing the role of an ex-Nazi spy.

Unknown doesn’t add anything new to the table, and in the realm of “memory recall” movies, there are many other movies you can enjoy more than this, but it’s not a bad film despite its flaws. That being said, it is entertaining and you won’t be disappointed as long as you’re not expecting too much. Unknown gets 6/10.

Movie Review: Battle: Los Angeles

Battle: Los Angeles
Alien invasion! Send in the military! Shoot out! Blam blam blam! Aliens die! The end. If there’s one thing that hasn’t changed in alien invasion movies since forever, it’s the predictable storyline – which is fine, because I’ve come to accept not to expect anything more. Plus I believe that it’s possible to reuse an overdone story and still make a good movie out of it. It’s all in the delivery – and Battle: Los Angeles fails to deliver.

The last alien movie that I actually remember truly enjoying was District 9 and that was two years ago and since then I’ve yet to find an alien movie that surpasses its standards. Anyway, Battle: LA is about aliens invading LA and killing everybody in sight. The military is sent in to rescue some survivors, before the Air Force bombs the shit out of the area.

Aaron Eckhart plays the about-to-be-retired-but-sent-back-into-battle Sergeant Michael Nantz, who is part of a squad of horribly overused, clichéd and stereotypical soldiers. Along the way they meet Technical Sergeant Elena Santos (Michelle Rodriguez) who joins the party because everyone else in her team died. There’s nothing terrible about anybody’s acting here – just nothing special either. The big named stars could’ve been easily replaced with lesser known actors of the same caliber and it wouldn’t have changed a thing.

If you like watching movies for eye candy, I guess you’re in for a treat. The special effects in the movie are pretty good, nothing cheesy or bad here, the aliens, weapons and ships all look pretty good. But if you want some semblance of a decent plot line or perhaps a twist or two, you’re out of luck. To me, Battle: LA feels like a typical adaptation of a video game turned into a movie – it’s rarely done right and you’d rather be playing the game instead. And since the Battle: LA game was inspired by the movie, we’re stuck in a conundrum here. Anyway, Battle: LA gets 4/10.

Movie Review: The Fighter

The Fighter
Walking into the cinema, I had high hopes for the movie knowing that it had quite a number of nominations to its name, and it was a boxing movie – usually boxing movies win awards right? Look at Rocky and Million Dollar Baby… anyway I digress.

The Fighter is a biopic about Dicky Eklund (Bale), an ex-superstar boxer who has to deal with drug problems and mould his brother, Micky Ward (Wahlberg) into a boxing champion. Despite the movie being about Micky Ward, supporting actor, Bale, stole the whole movie for me.

Christian Bale’s performance as a drug addict/boxing trainer, Dicky, was just brilliant. I knew he could act, but I had never seen this side of him before. Mark Wahlberg was just his usual self, and dished out nothing extraordinary. He is one fit guy though – you can really tell he worked his ass off to play the role of Micky Ward in this movie. Supporting actress Melissa Leo did a great job as the manipulative, power-hungry, over ambitious mother, Alice Ward.

Being based on a true story, I don’t know how accurate it was since I didn’t read up on it, but I heard that the final fight scene was a replica of the original fight that happened. Regardless, the movie was well shot, and I came out of the cinema feeling pumped and keen to pick up boxing as a sport. It was well paced, and there was not a low point in the movie. If I had to complain about anything, it would be there weren’t enough scenes with Christian Bale (for his acting) and Amy Adams (damn, she is fine). The Fighter deserves every award it won at the Oscars this year and it deserves to be on your list of movies to watch this year. The Fighter gets 8/10.

Movie Review: Sanctum (3D)

I was told that James Cameron produced this sorry excuse for a movie, and that sort of raised my expectations a bit even though I wasn’t a huge fan of his own movies. I mean with such a big name backing the movie, it must have its merits right? I can tell you straight up – no.

Sanctum fits in the same category of movies I wished I never wasted 2 hours of my life watching. If you’ve seen The Last Airbender and Hisss, this movie would belong in the same pile. There is nothing, absolutely nothing redeeming about this movie. I went in with an open mind (I really had no idea what to expect besides the cave exploration I saw in the vague trailer) and was prepared for anything. I guess I was wrong. I wasn’t prepared for this.

Sanctum tells the story of a bunch of underwater cave divers who want to explore the largest, unexplored cave in the world. A tropical storm causes the cave to flood, and the explorers are trapped inside, looking for an alternative route to freedom. Predictably, they start dying one by one to accidents and one crazed man against the rest of them.

The movie is forced, the characters didn’t show a single shred of emotion, and it was terribly paced. By the end of the movie, I didn’t feel a single connection at all to the protagonist and I wish he’d died along with the rest of them instead so the movie would end sooner. I don’t even remember a single name of any character in the movie. In fact the only character that comes to mind is the tanned skinned dude that had to be euthanized to put him out of his misery near the beginning of the movie. The cast were truly that unmemorable.

Writing this review has infuriated me, and now I’m even annoyed at myself for writing the last three paragraphs when the first one alone would have sufficed. Avoid Sanctum like the plague. I wouldn’t watch again even if I was held at gunpoint. Sanctum gets 1/10.

Movie Review: 127 Hours

127 Hours
Being a fan of Slumdog Millionaire, I gotta say I was excited about attending the press screening for 127 Hours. The trailer didn’t reveal much about the movie, and I didn’t really know what I was in for due to me not reading up about the movie before I entered the theater. I came out of the cinema feeling thoroughly satisfied. 127 Hours is one of those movies you just have to watch to experience, someone telling you about it will do no justice to the film. I haven’t read the book so I can’t offer any comparisons, but in this movie, James Franco demonstrates that he’s more than just another pretty face.

127 Hours tells the true story of Aron Ralston (James Franco), an avid adventurer who finds himself in a situation he never thought he’d end up – in the bottom of a canyon with one arm pinned against a wall by a rock too heavy for him to move. It is about the 5 days he spent stuck there.

James Franco gives the performance of his life in this movie. The camera is on him 90% of the time, and it’s just amazing how many different expressions and emotions he can pull off while being stuck in the same place for so long. Ryan Reynolds did something similar last year in Buried, but I gotta say Franco takes the cake. If you thought all he could do was act as an angsty kid playing the Peter Parker’s nemesis, or the stoner/hippy character he’s been doing recently, you’re wrong. This movie will go down as one of Franco’s finest performances to date.

The pacing of the movie was good, it didn’t feel too short or long, and it was pretty straightforward. But the beautiful visuals and great editing makes this movie a feast for the eyes. I don’t have anything bad to say about the movie really, and the brief appearances of Clémence Poésy as his ex-girlfriend in the movie were a pleasant surprise. 127 Hours is definitely one of the movies that you have to watch this year. 127 Hours gets 8/10.

Movie Review: The Rite

The Rite
I’m not a big fan of horror movies, mostly because they’re mostly unintelligent dribble and sorry excuses for films that rely on cheap tricks to get some scares out of you. Once in awhile a gem comes along and The Rite is one of them.

Colin O’Donoghue stars in this movie about a boy who has lost his faith and decides to head out to priest college to fulfill his father’s wishes and to find his own faith. He encounters an exorcist , Father Lucas (Anthony Hopkins) who shows him that the Devil is real.

The storyline is pretty typical, with the exception of the Father Lucas getting possessed – I’ve never seen it done in a movie before and this is where Anthony Hopkins truly shines. He didn’t even need the makeup and special effects to enhance his role – his acting as an unconventional exorcist and as a possessed man scared the shit out of me. O’Donoghue and Alice Braga played their roles decently, but Hopkins just outshone them throughout the whole movie.

The Rite doesn’t rely on cheap tricks to scare you – when you get scared, it’s because of the buildup, all the way until the scares happen. No in your face “RARRR!” moments, and that’s what I loved about the film. It’s not going to win any awards for movie of the year, but for what it’s worth, it’s one hell of a ride. I rate the Rite 7/10.