Sanctum review

Director:
Alister Grierson
Cast:
Richard Roxburgh
Ioan Gruffudd
Rhys Wakefield
Alice Parkinson
Rated: R

The Poseidon Adventure in a cave!

Sanctum follows the character Josh (Wakefield), a young man who has been brought to a cave expedition by his father Frank (Roxburgh). Frank’s expedition is going deep into one of the biggest, unexplored caves in the entire world. Frank has made it very far into the cave already and has plans to dive deeper.

Before the team can go deeper, though, a large rain fall comes down blocking most of their entrances. Because of this, the team must dive deeper into the cave to find a way out of it. However it is uncharted and very dangerous.

This film really wasn’t anything new at all. The story is your very basic man vs. nature disaster film where one person dies off one by one. Not only does the film feel extremely recycled, it also moves way too fast. There is barely any time for the characters to develop here because of how fast the body count rises.

The characters here have no backstory at all, every one of them are just basically cliched caricatures we have seen before like the greedy corporate guy. There is one character who literally dies right towards the beginning, when we have know clue of who this character really was.

The films main characters were Frank and Josh and the film tried to have drama here between these two since Frank wasn’t exactly the best father. This part of the film was okay, mainly because Frank was the only character in this film who was bearable. However, it couldn’t save it, the extremely horrible dialogue heavily hindered this plot and the entire film for that matter.

I did enjoy the special effects of the film which created these massive caves. The film looked pretty good, and the way the team had to get out of this cave was kind of interesting. However it never really got suspenseful even with the tight caves they went through. The film probably would have been a good chance to work in claustrophobia, but it never did. I never felt the feeling of claustrophobia in this film like I did in Pandorum for example.

Overall, Sanctum isn’t a good movie by any means, however it is a little bit entertaining. I put it at a high 2 out of 5 since it goes by fast enough to keep you into it.

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The Roommate review

Director:
Christian E.Christiansen
Cast:
Leighton Meester
Minka Kelly
Cam Gigandet
Alyson Michalka
Rated: PG-13

Gasp, a horror movie where nothing happens.

The Roommate follows Sarah (Kelly), a young girl who has just entered college and is staying at the dorms on campus. Sarah eventually meets her roommate Rebecca (Meester). At first Rebecca seems like a nice enough girl, but as time passes Sarah begins to find Rebecca more and more clinging and controlling.

Eventually, Rebecca starts interfering in Sarah’s personal life pushing away any friends that she has. This becomes even more evident when Sarah finds a boyfriend in Stephen (Gigandet). After this Rebecca becomes even more drastic in her attempts to make Sarah her’s only.

I kept waiting for something to happen in this film but nothing really did. There was never any suspense in this entire film because the villain Rebecca doesn’t really go beyond being a bit creepy.

Towards the end her plans get more drastic but for the most part she just stares with an evil eye. This made for a really boring film. There wasn’t even any horrific moments here, I was surprised by the low body count here.

The characters are stock beyond belief. The boyfriend for example was just a cut out given a mediocre performance from Cam Gigandet. Leighton Meester was okay in her role, she did give a few creepy moments but I felt that she just wasn’t given enough things to do here. The lead here, Sarah, was just uninspired though. I think you could have replaced her with any other actress and it probably wouldn’t have mattered.

Overall, The Roommate was a really boring movie that was basically made just to frighten some teenagers. Unfortunately, unlike the film “Sorority Row,” this movie wasn’t even funny, just worthless. 1 out of 5.

Just Go With It review

Director:
Dennis Dugan
Cast:
Adam Sandler
Jennifer Aniston
Brooklyn Decker
Nick Swardson
Rated: PG-13

Adam Sandler is back once again with more comedy.

In this Happy Madison Production, Sandler plays Danny, a man who after having his heart broken before his first marriage, wears a fake wedding ring to attract woman. After doing this for a number of years he finally finds a girl that he wants to settle down with in Palmer (Decker). However before they can get together Palmer finds the ring and wants Danny to fess up.

To make the relationship work, Danny convinces Palmer that him and his wife are getting a divorce, however Palmer wants to meet her. Therefore, Danny gets the help of his secretary, Katherine (Aniston) to play the part. After this, the situations and misunderstandings just grow and grow.

The story here is very basic and the jokes mainly run on the growing number of misunderstandings and coincidences that pop up through out the film. However, it actually works fairly well. I found myself cracking up more than once in the movie because of all the crazy things that kept happening.

The characters aren’t too bad, either. Sandler here plays basically the same character he always plays but at the very least it gets some laughs with the situation he’s in. His humor isn’t too bad. The one I was really impressed by was Aniston, I haven’t thought she was this good in a film in a really long time. Her playing the cynical foil to Sandler’s character made for a good balance. The children actors did a fairly good job too, compared to how annoying they can be sometimes.

Some parts of it were a little lacking though, this is a spoiler but I will come right out and say it. The ending has no conflict what so ever, it just has a nice happy wrapped up ending, there were also some jokes that did miss completely, however this is just a simple comedy.

Overall, you have to take this for what it’s worth. Its not the funniest movie ever and not the best in a long time. But it gets some good laughs and is a fun experience. 3 out of 5.

Unknown review

Director:
Jaume Collet-Serra
Cast:
Liam Neeson
Diane Kruger
January Jones
Aidan Quin
Bruno Ganz
Frank Langella
Rated: PG-13

Why does Liam Neeson have such major problems when he goes to Europe?

Unknown follows the story of Dr. Martin Harris (Neeson), who is attending a science summit in Berlin with his wife Elizabeth (Jones). After getting off the plane and arriving at the hotel, Martin realizes that he forgot his bag at the airport and gets into a cab to go grab it real quick. However this small mistake turns costly when the cab gets into an accident and Martin is taken to the hospital.

Upon awaking Martin doesn’t have much memory of what happened to him but it eventually returns slowly. He finally goes to the hotel where the summit and his wife are suppose to be. However, upon arrival he finds that his wife doesn’t remember him and there is another man who has taken his place. Now Martin must fight for his identity and get to the bottom of what is really going on.

I was really impressed with the story of this film. I liked how many turns it took, making it difficult to know what was going to happen next. This kept me on the edge of my seat through out the entire film and it only gets better when a twist is revealed in the third act.

I didn’t find any moments to be dull, even though the movie does have a long run time.

Liam Neeson naturally shines here. Any time that an action or thriller might just be average, Neeson takes it up a level. He plays the part so well and the emotion he displays really transcends onto the audience. I liked the side characters too, Bruno Granz played a retired intelligence agent who tried helping Martin get through and did so well.

The same can be said about the cab driver, Gina, who was in the accident and had to help Martin as well. Played by Diane Kruger, Gina was a good character although there were times that she looked to much like an action star instead of just a citizen.

Overall, I found Unknown to be very enjoyable. I was invested in the lead character, the story and was on edge for the action. Liam Neeson’s performance really pushed this one high and it is one of the more satisfying thrillers recently. 4 out of 5.

March 2011 Mini Reviews

Hall Pass: 2 out of 5
The Farrelly Brothers are really starting to annoy me, but at least this was better than their previous disaster “The Heart Break Kid.” This film had a lot of jokes here but most of them really fell flat. When they weren’t dick or shit jokes they were ones that I’ve basically heard before. Oh and then they tried to have some emotion in the film that didn’t work either.

Drive Angry 3D: High 3 out of 5
This movie was just plain over the top fun. Taking a page out of the Grindhouse book, this movie tries to just use sex and action to entertain, and it works. The movie’s plot isn’t strong and the actors chew a lot of scenery but it’s just all part of the fun. The one who really steals the whole show though is William Fitcher who is the Devil’s right hand man, he was fantastic here. One of those movies to grab a couple of cold ones before going to see it.

Take Me Home Tonight: 1 out of 5
A film where I didn’t laugh once, nor did the audience I was with. Remember Hot Tub Time Machine? One of the things I really dug about that film was how it took us back to the 80s and basically parodied some of the things from that decade. This didn’t do that, it was just an average film that could be present day. There is nothing special. Topher Grace is lame and Dan Fogler, who Hollywood seems to be wanting to shove down our throats was just doing his schtick as the fat crazy guy. It wasn’t even a good party movie, I would rather see Can’t Hardly Wait, which is practically a better version of this. Oh and they didn’t even use the song the movie was titled after.

Rango: 3 out of 5
A spaghetti western in the form of an animated film with reptiles as the main characters, Rango was a pretty solid film. Johnny Depp was enjoyable in one of his only voice acting gigs, and the character Rango had some good witty moments. At the same time though, the story was predictable and I felt it dragged a bit going into the third act.

Red Riding Hood: 1 out of 5
Yeah, this movie was just as stupid as the trailers made it out to be. The movie didn’t exactly follow the original story, since that would have only taken up 30 minutes, so instead they just basically did a medieval “Twilight,” and I’m not saying that just to pick on that franchise. The male characters literally walked around with their shirts half open and hair that could only be possible with gel, something that didn’t exist at the time.

There were parts that they actually tried to connect the movie to the original story though and these parts were hilarious at how bad they were. Gary Oldman overacted like never before in this one. There was even one scene where it sounded like they were playing an ancient version of a Lady GaGa song.

Battle: Los Angeles: 3 out of 5
I have to admit that I really dug this movie quite a bit. Yeah we’ve seen the whole ‘aliens come down and we have to fight them’ story done before but I really liked how this one had a lot of fighting with ground pounders and not just air force fighting back. The filming seemed to be pretty gritty and I thought it helped to intensify the movie and really got me into the action. The acting by most of the people in the film wasn’t that great however I thought that Aaron Eckhart did do a really good job carrying the film with what he was given.

Cedar Rapids: High 3 out of 5
A lower budget indie film, Cedar Rapids turned out to be really enjoyable. It of course has a cast of recent comedy stars like John C. Reilly and Ed Helms that really were good here. I wouldn’t say it’s completely fall out of your seat laughing however the characters where just so extremely likable that it just really kept the movie going.

Mars Needs Moms: 2 out of 5
I felt that this movie had just to many problems to be really enjoyable, so let’s get started. The story was lame, after the kid gets to Mars to save his mom, it’s the same three things over and over. Try to go to where his mom is being held, get caught and get sent down to a garbage yard, go back up and try it again, that was basically it. Then there was the protagonist who was just annoying and really got on my nerves.

There was also Dan Fogler, who played the same character he always plays and was also annoying. Then of course we have the animation done by Robert Zemeckis who keeps animating films with characters that take the appearance of the actor playing them. This just doesn’t look natural and is really off putting to me. The one thing I actually liked about the movie were some of the settings that looked pretty nice.

Limitless: 3 out of 5
I liked this one to an extent, however I felt it was just sort of random at places. And the ending to me just seemed to wrap up a little too nicely. The movie was suspenseful at parts and I liked seeing how Cooper’s character was going to get out of sticky situations, however the story is told through one of those begin at the end and then go back to the beginning and tell it from there, making us know that he is going to be okay. An interesting film, but it didn’t really seem to have a point and the main character never really had an arc.

Paul: High 3 out of 5
A pretty funny comedy starring two of my favorite comedic actors at the moment. Paul has a lot of good ‘geek’ humor that is inserted here and there. I didn’t find this one to be as funny as Pegg and Frost’s previous films, not even close to Hot Fuzz, however I still found it enjoyable.

The Lincoln Lawyer: High 4 out of 5
So far one my favorite films of the year so far and the best legal thriller I’ve seen in a while. At first the film just seems to be another average court room drama but it really evolves and becomes about the main character played by Matthew McConaughey.

McConaughey absolutely shines here and I think it’s probably the best he’s ever done so far. It was very interesting seeing how much trouble he got in through out the story and even more so trying to figure out how he would get out of it. And as an added bonus, the soundtrack was awesome.

Diary of a Wimpy Kid 2: 2 out of 5
Well at least this film was better than the first one, but that’s not exactly saying that much. The film was a little improved but it still seems to take place in this world where everybody is an asshole, probably more so than the Karate Kid world, and the adults are all stupid. The characters were improved a little bit though and it was just a tiny bit more bearable then before.

Sucker Punch review

Director:
Zack Snyder
Cast:
Emily Browning
Abbie Cornish
Jena Malone
Vanessa Hudgens
Jamie Chung
Rated: PG-13

And to think, I was one of the people that defended Zack Snyder after Watchmen.

Sucker Punch is the story of Babydoll “Browning,” a girl who after accidentally killing her sister when she was actually trying to kill her step father who was jealous of her since she was going to inherit her mother’s money (This all happens in the first 10 minutes by the way), is sent to a mental institution. However, upon arrival it turns that she is able to escape into her own dreamscape, which becomes an under ground strip club run by Blue Jones (Oscar Isaac).

Babydoll knows she needs to get out of there and in one of her dreams a Wise Man (that’s actually his name) played by Scott Glenn lets her know that she needs to collect five items to escape. To do so she enlists the help of four of the other girls that are there. When she’s collecting the items she goes into another dream and makes capturing the items extremely over the top.

Sucker Punch’s major glaring issue is that the dream like states that Babydoll goes into, despite how good they may look, are absolutely inconsequential. The story is real lame, too, being nothing more than an escape plot. Honestly, it feels as if Snyder wanted to make some action scenes and just shoved an escape plan to connect the dots.

The reason the action scenes have no consequences is that they are just simple dreams in one characters head, they have no rules at all. Take other movies with this idea, such as in The Matrix, where if you’re killed inside, you die outside. In Inception, if you die inside, it can jeopardize the mission or even leave you in a coma. In Babydoll’s dreams, it’s just her fantasizing, if she gets hit it won’t hurt, if someone dies it may or may not reflect what is really going on.

The film actually gave me a better respect for Scott Pilgrim vs The World. That movie had major action scenes that were inspired by anime and video games the same way that Sucker Punch was, but Scott Pilgrim was never in a dream, that world he was in was reality, making the fights actually have consequences, however at the same time the fights were still able to be representations of what the character was feeling.

The characters were even worse, though, since they had almost no character at all. They were only separable by their hair and looks. I honestly couldn’t distinguish between most of them and when one would die i didn’t feel a thing. Which is really too bad since the actresses themselves didn’t seem to bad. Scott Glenn I felt was completely wasted, though, all he would have are these random saying that didn’t have anything to go with the action scenes he was in. And Oscar Isaac as the main villain was just way to over the top for me.

From a technical stand point, the movie is good. Zack Snyder does have a great vision and can do good action scenes with amazing graphics, and the art direction is fantastic. Yet it’s just so wasted because of the lack of story and character development. Some may say that this was just an action movie to enjoy, but when a movie is taking all of these genres and tries mixing them together, I really want to see something more. Another problem for me also was the music, it just seemed out of place and they had all these remix’s that didn’t sound at all better than their originals.

Overall, Sucker Punch is an idea that possibly had potential had the crew actually spent more than 45 minutes coming up with the story. However the whole thing is just lame, I didn’t get attached to a single character and wasn’t engaged at all. This is a 1 out of 5 despite how good it looked.

Source Code review

Director:
Duncan Jones
Cast:
Jake Gyllenhaal
Michelle Monaghan
Vera Farmiga
Jeffrey Wright
Rated: PG-13

It’s almost like Deja Vu, but the character goes back more than once.

Source Code begins immediately with a mystery as Colter Stevens (Gyllenhaal) wakes up in a body that’s not his on a train he is unfamiliar with. Before he is able to figure anything out, the train explodes. Stevens then wakes up in a type of advanced capsule and is in communication with military officials. Stevens finds out that the train was actually destroyed a long time ago and the military is using a program called the Source Code that allows him to enter the world of someone on the train for the last eight minutes of their lives.

After learning this, Stevens begins to wonder why he can’t leave the capsule and the film begins to balance two mystery plots, who blew up the train and what is really going on with the military not allowing Stevens to leave the capsule.

The story of Source Code works extremely well. The film balances these two plots, both of which having a different setting with completely different characters in a way that keeps the audience invested the entire time. The story has a mystery that will keep you guessing on what will happen and makes it very interesting to watch.

The two main story threads lead to a great climax that at first seems a bit confusing, but still does the job. In a way, the film was almost like a sci fi version of “Groundhogs Day,” in that the character keeps going back to the same moment and is able to control what goes on more and more every time he goes back. This was amazingly well done in an action movie with the setting only being a train.

Colter Stevens is a great lead character, He is easy to follow since both him and the audience don’t know what is going on. Also, he has a likable personality and his cynical attitude really makes him easy to get invested in.

Helping the character is Gyllenhaal, one of the best up and coming actors in Hollywood. Gyllenhaal brings a balance to the character, bringing both a sense of urgency in wanting to save the train and his frustrations with the military.

Michelle Monaghan is good in the movie also starring as the love interest to Stevens, Christina Warren. The military officials Colleen Goodwin (Farmiga) and Dr. Rutledge (Wright), are also good, since there’s always some secrecy surrounding them, adding to suspense.

Overall, Source Code is a fantastic, thrilling sci-fi mystery. It has a great lead character and a good supporting cast along with a good way to keep the audience from knowing what’s going to happen next. The terrorist plot line was a little bit generic however it doesn’t hurt the movie too much. High 4 out of 5.