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The Jungle Book

15 Apr

the_jungle_book_poster_key_artRudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book is back in a live action version directed by Jon Favreau.  I must admit, I was a little apprehensive going in as the animated version is my favorite Disney classic.  Don’t get me wrong, I was looking forward to seeing it but terrified they would botch it.  If you are in the same boat, rest assured, they did a fantastic job!!!

To start with, the film is visually stunning.  The CGI and scenery are top rate.  If you have a chance to see it in IMAX 3D, don’t miss out.  The live action blends very well with CGI animals and environments to draw you in to Mowgli’s (Neel Sethi) world.

The story has the basics from the original, Mowgli the man cub is abandoned in the jungle, discovered by Bagheera (voiced by Ben Kingsley) and delivered to the wolves to be raised as one of their own by Raksha (voiced by Lupita Nyong) his overly protective mother wolf.  Of course along comes the evil tiger Shere Khan (voiced by Idris Elba who does a wonderful job) to  deliver an ultimatum.  Turn over the man cub or face the consequences.  Thus begins the adventure.  It’s decided that in order to save him from the tiger, Bagheera must take Mowgli to the man village where he’ll be safe from Shere Khan.

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Along the way they are separated and Mowgli comes in contact with the usual characters, including the python Kaa, seductively voiced by Scarlett Johansson, who hypnotizes him and tries to eat him.  He then meets the rather lazy but spirited bear Baloo (voiced by Bill Murray) who helps him to decide that the jungle is WAY more fun than any old man village.  Finally the monkeys come along and kidnap him and carry him off to see their smooth talking King Louie (voiced by Christopher Walken) who tries to convince Mowgli to teach him the secret of man’s red flower, fire.

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The story has a few wrinkles and twists off of the original but is well told and, as mentioned earlier, visually delightful.  The cast does a fantastic job and will keep you engaged from beginning to end.

I give the film 9 Cheeseburgers

9CB

Why are you still reading?  Go see this movie!!!

By Duane McClinton

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The Duff

12 Feb

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Going in to see The DUFF (Designated Ugly Fat Friend) I thought, this is going to be one of those typical high school ugly nerdy girl turns pretty prom queen. I thought, this is going to be so predictable, but hey, free movie! Well I will be honest, it was sort of like that and throughout the movie you could predict the next move, for the most part. However, the script was absolutely HILARIOUS with ridiculous dream sequences, witty comebacks by lead actress Mae Whitman and the always funny Ken Jeong, and some pretty funny slapstick from a few characters. To sum the movie up would be to combine Mean Girls with Easy A. While it was a roaring comedy, there was still an important message to be had by ALL viewers no matter what shape, size, gender, etc. We are all somebody’s DUFF.

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We meet high school senior, Bianca (Whitman) in the school halls walking with her two best friends Jess and Casey. It’s the typical scene with a few nerds on the sidelines absolutely smoldering in their pants over Jess and Casey but completely ignoring Bianca dressed in plaid flannel, distressed and cuffed overalls, and clunky black shoes. Her two friends are invited to a party held by the slutty, bitchy, most popular girl in school but when Bianca isn’t, her friends bring her anyways. This is where her childhood best friend/neighbor/hottest guy in school, Wesley (Robbie Amell) informs Bianca of her duffiness. She becomes infuriated and storms out of the party, ends her friendship with Jess and Casey for making her their ugly friend all these years, later recognizes the DUFF in each social group and sets on a sort of social experiment with Wesley who is consequently failing chemistry. She wants him to help her talk to her crush and no longer be the DUFF while she helps him pass the class. I think from there you can figure out what ultimately ends up happening.

I very rarely pay to see a movie in the theaters due to high cost of ticket and theater food, however, I would probably pay to watch this again with some of my friends. I will also be adding this to my DVD collection when it comes out.

7 Cheeseburgers

7/10 cheeseburgers for predictability

by Madi Jayne Pareti (Stand in Fat Guy for a day)

Jupiter Ascending

5 Feb

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In the Wachowski’s latest space opera, Jupiter Ascending, we meet Jupiter Jones (Mila Kunis), a girl who is having a pretty rough life.  After losing her father as a child she grows up with her mother and her mother’s family cleaning houses, more accurately cleaning toilets in houses, in the family business.   It’s a day to day grind which of course she hates.  Then, along comes Caine Wise (Channing Tatum), a genetically modified human/wolf hybrid who saves her from some intergalactic bounty hunters sent to kill her.

As the movie progresses Jupiter learns that not only did the human race not originate on earth but that she is in fact royalty. She possesses the exact same genetic makeup as the queen of a very powerful galactic royal family named Abrasax.  The surviving three children are at each other’s throats over their inheritance which basically equates to control of the galaxy.  In fact the eldest son, Balem Abrasax  (Eddie Redmayne) is the one who sent the bounty hunters after Jupiter in the first place.

As the movie progresses, there is a lot of stunning scenery and dramatic shots which are fantastically pleasing to the eye as well as others which are a little cheesy (there’s only some many times the wolfman can save Jupiter by skimming through the scene on his hover boots, before the effect gets old).

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Overall, the film had a lot of promise and the story was intriguing.  While the film was not great I did find it enjoyable.  On the plus side, it has a love story and some beefcake for the ladies and lots of sci-fi, explosions, and action for the guys.  There are some holes in the storyline that I believe are caused by the multiple sub plots that aren’t fully developed.  If you are expecting a cinematic space masterpiece look elsewhere.  If, on the other hand, you are in the mood for a visually exciting film with a decent premise and can accept leaving with a few obvious questions unanswered, then by all means go see Jupiter Ascending.  It was enjoyable enough that I would recommend a DVD rental or catching it on pay TV when it airs.

I give Jupiter Ascending six cheeseburgers

6 Cheeseburgers

By Duane McClinton

Million Dollar Arm – Opens May 16th

16 May
Based on a true story, Million Dollar Arm is your typical Disney feel good, family fun movie with a message.
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JB Bernstein (Jon Hamm) is a once successful and now down on his luck sports agent who is down to his last chance at signing a star, Popo (Rey Maualuga), after striking out on his own.  When Popo signs with a large powerhouse agency, JB and his partner Aash (Aasif Mandvi) will be forced to close the business if they can’t come up with some way to save it.  Watching television late one night the idea comes to JB to have a contest in India to find the next ‘million dollar arm’ amongst cricket bowlers.  He convinces Aash that his plan will save their failing business and together they gain the backing of a wealthy entrepreneur, Chang (Tzi Ma).
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What follows is a touching story of awakening and personal growth along with the help of Hamm’s new love interest Brenda (Lake Bell).
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Which of course ends with the inevitable “and they lived happily ever after” we have all come to expect from a Disney film.
 
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This is not a summer blockbuster by any means.  However, if you are looking for a fun and touching, family friendly film this summer, this is a good one.
I give this movie 7 Cheeseburgers
7 Cheeseburgers
by Duane McClinton

 

 

The Legend of Hercules

10 Jan

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The Legend of Hercules is the first of two movies being released this year about the muscle bound son of Zeus and it’s terribly obvious that director Renny Harlin was in a rush to ensure that his film made it to theaters first.

Let’s start with the disjointed scene jumps. This movie has no flow. It appears to jump from one scene to the next in a rush to cover the main points the writers and directors wanted to portray in order to count this film as satisfying a range of genres.

We open with the mighty tyrant Amphitryon (Scott Adkins) marching into Argos and coming to the forefront of a mighty battle to challenge the Argos champion to a winner take all man to man battle in order to spare all of the soldiers present their lives. King Amphitryon of course is victorious, he assumes the mantle of king and as one of his spoils, and he takes Queen Alcmene (Roxanna McKee) as his own. King Amphitryon is your typical tyrant bad guy. He berates the beliefs of his queen and those he rules and mocks their gods. Alcmene prays to Hera for someone to come along and rid her lands of this horrible tyrant and free her and her people. Hera hears her pleas and, rather than being portrayed as the jealous goddess of Greek mythology we all know, she gives her permission for Zeus to impregnate Alcmene with his offspring and informs the queen that the resulting offspring shall be Hercules.

The dead is done with much theatrics, lightning and wind, but no physical manifestation of Zeus. Amphitryon appears as Alcmene is in the throes of passion and in a jealous rage he has his men search the kingdom for the intruder who has defiled his enslaved queen.

Quick scene jump, he is told that his queen has given birth to ‘a large male’. He tells Alcmene that she will name the boy Alcides and decrees that he will always treat his bastard son as inferior to his first born, Iphicles.

We then jump forward 20 years, we see an all grown up Hercules (Kellan Lutz) and we meet his love interest Hebe (Gaia Weiss) as they are out racing through the country side on horseback. They are later busted making out by Hercules’ yellow-bellied older brother Iphicles (Liam Garrigan).

As the movie progresses, a love story is shakily thrown together, along with an older brother’s jealousy as he wishes to have Hebe for his wife. He has his father arrange this and the story limps along with Hercules sent on what is an obviously a pre-arranged death sentence mission to Egypt by Amphitryon to get him out of the way.

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As always happens in such movies, the hero survives and manages to come back through a series of unbelievable events.

The CGI sequences are so atrocious it’s laughable. There is a scene in the beginning of the film where Hercules kills what is briefly referred to as the Nemean lion (with no build up or reference to mythology) which is so badly done that it’s a joke.

The film just misses the mark in so many ways. Part of the problem is that it tries too hard to be a love story, action movie, epic drama, and revenge story without ever developing any of those avenues properly. The story just jumps from point to point with seemingly no connection to the previous scene. It reminds me of the cheap B movies that played on Sunday afternoons in my childhood.

I give this movie 4 cheeseburgers.

4CB

It is not a total waste of time but then there are much better ways out there to pass a couple hours.

Machette Kills

14 Oct

Machette Kills is Robert Rodriguez’s sequel to his successful revenge movie Machette, continuing to draw inspiration from 70’s exploitation films.  This time around, it looks like we’ll be enjoying more of Machette (Danny Trejo) in full revenge mode, but the movie quickly turns into a mission movie where Machette is tasked by the President of the United States with saving Washington D.C. from a nuclear missile.  Danny Trejo does his best in the film, with his ever-present bad ass look and machismo, but ultimately a bad story, coupled with odd casting choices derails this movie.

This movie does have the same over the top violence as the original, with blood splattering, limbs flying, and heads popping off as expected, but without the support of a good story or good dialogue the effects come off as pointless – just one over the top effect after the other.  With a character actor like Danny Trejo, this should have been a pure revenge movie with Machette’s red hot hatred for the man who kills his partner driving him to every higher levels of violence.  Instead we bounce from one scene to the next as Machette tries to prevent a nuclear missile from being fired on Washington D.C. by a madman, and subsequently by the crazier madman that was propping up the first madman.

The supporting cast for the movie includes several names from the original, plus many others.  Charlie Sheen as the President (billed as Carlos Estevez), Michelle Rodriguez, Mel Gibson, Sofia Vergara, Antonio Banderas, Jessica Alba, Amber Heard, Cuba Gooding Jr., Zoe Saldana, Vanessa Hudgens, Demian Bashir, William Sadler, Alexa Vega, and Lady Gaga do their part to try to make a good movie, but a few appear to be in the film just as a gag, with little benefit.  Mel Gibson has one of the larger supporting roles, and generated one the most memorable moments in the movie, but oddly it was a funny moment.

Hopefully, if the third movie (in space) is made, Robert Rodriguez will slide back to a revenge style movie.  I didn’t expect an award-winning movie, but this movie wasn’t as interesting or shocking as the original.  The problem may be that the novelty of the 70’s style exploitation film has worn off, but a better story, with better dialogue could have made this sequel as good as the original.

Doug gives this film

6 Cheeseburgers

Movies – Marvel’s The Avengers Trailer is Here

11 Oct

For all of you comic geeks and action film freaks, the first trailer for Marvel’s The Avengers is finally available for your viewing pleasure.  It looks like it will be as good as anticipated.  I can’t wait.

Watch the first trailer of the much anticipated 2012 blockbuster here:

http://trailers.apple.com/trailers/marvel/avengers/

Starring Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner and Samuel L. Jackson, and directed by Joss Whedon