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The Expendables 2: Find them, track them, kill them


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Thank you, Sylvester Stallone for re-introducing the great badness that was 80’s action nostalgia. Even though he was slightly over his head with the mindless thrill ride that was The Expendables. Stallone leaves the directorial duties to Simon West in The Expendables 2. Ironically, actually lives up to the cliche. “Better than the first.”

Stallone and his Expendables squad is back for another adventure bringing Jason Statham, Jet Li, Dolph Lundgren, Randy Couture and Terry Crews back but also dives into the film library with the likes of Chuck Norris, Scott Adkins, and Jean-Claude Van Damme. Not only that, but we get more Bruce Willis and Arnold Schwarzengger this time around. Christmas comes early.

The Expendables start off in a rescue mission to rescuing Trench (Schwarzenegger) and all it is an excuse to blow your mind or whatever is left with nonstop gun battles and explosions. Then we settle into the already thin as hell plot. Seriously, it has the thickness of a string of yarn. Mr. Church (Willis) orders them to get back kilos of plutonium. The newest member is a Church operative Maggie Chan who fits in and kicks a little ass as well. She’s played by Yu Nan but one of their own is senselessly killed off by Jean Villain (Van Damme) and there you have it, a cold blooded revenge story. Van Damme looks like he’s having a blast with his villainous role, no matter how bad his acting is. With all this posing towards Stallone, you know we are in for one epic fight between Rocky and Kickboxer. 

You can tell this had a bigger budget (100 million) with all the locations including Bulgaria, Hong Kong and New Orleans. With that, the film becomes more preposterous and more memorable. Especially when you see Chuck (expletive) Norris in this! Yes, his acting still is nonexistant, but who cares? He’s a good sport, teasing himself and even gets his taste of joining in on the already high body count Director Simon West’s expertise in elaborate action sequences shows big time especially when you see a motorcycle blow up a helicopter or Stallone using enemies as target practice. Damn, he’s fast with that gun. Stallone saves the best for last packing everyone into a 20 min epic sequence that turns into a opera of bullets and dead bodies. West gives everyone what they deserve including seeing Willis, Stallone, Schwarzenegger introduced together in slam bang fashion.

This has all the elements an 80’s action film. Thin plot, mediocre to bad acting, unforgettable action sequences and some awesome one-liners. This is the ultimate tough guy movie. The way this franchise is going, I hope they never become Expendable.

The Expendables 2 gets a B+

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I’m Jake Turner, reminding you to spend your money wisely at the Cinema.

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The Campaign: Political satire lives up to its promises


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As November looms and the mudslinging has begun between Romney, Obama. Why not, give us a political satire to prep us. The Campaign does it’s job in 80 min or less guaranteed. In fact, it’s one of the best comedies of the year.

Kudos to the casting director, netting Will Ferrell to play Cam Brady, a four term North Carolina congressman of the 16th district. Since Ferrell left Saturday Night Live. I have been chomping at the bit to see him play a buffoonish politician. Wish came true! As he’s about to sign the dotted line for his fifth term. With one chuckle inducing delay turning of the doorknob, the incumbent Marty Huggins enters his name. Huggins is played by a toned down Zach Galifianakis. Huggins is actually a candidate bought by the Motch brothers. Played to a slimy intent by the always game John Lithgow and Dan Aykroyd. It’s about time I see Aykroyd play this kind of character, think opposite of Louis Winthrop from Trading Places. Brilliant satirizing of the conservative Koch Brothers. This had to be done after Brady’s unfortunate raunchy misdial to a christian household. Hilarious.

Huggins is probably one of the kind, considerate, compassion small town simpletons you have ever seen. He’s is a family man that is so nervous that he asks his family to spill out all their secrets. Some are funny, some are disturbing but keeps it lighthearted. Then, the Motch Brothers hire a slick campaign manager, Tim Wattley played by a scene stealing Dylan McDermott. McDermott embodies Wattley like an Armani suit at a second hand store. He throws in every change possible to turn Huggins into a no nonsense, punctual candidate. Witness the scene where he changes up the household including the dogs, that alone will make you laugh out loud. He also gets his share of some solid one-liners.

Come on! This is still Brady vs Huggins. At first, Brady has the upper hand basically know when the right time is to put out the same old inspiring speech until Huggins throws him into a holy war. Watching Ferrell improv his way through the Lord’s prayer was classic comedy reminiscent of Chevy Chase back in his Vacation years. They battle each other in everything from Buddhism, Jewish, and even grassroot principles. Satirized to an extreme and sometimes offensive high, but it’s comic timing makes it funny on it’s own. They also make some over the top campaign commercials including when Brady makes one on his own as an act of revenge on Huggins. Hey, not going to give too much away.

Director Jay Roach (coming off HBO’s Game Change) has experience with politics and it’s refreshing to see a political satire that shows a balance of truth and fiction making it one funny cocktail of propaganda and comedy. Roach keeps the two likable mavericks under control long enough and then lets them go wild. Witness a baby punching incident that was perfectly done without being offensive or distasteful. Trust me, you will be crying with laughter. We also get good supporting work by Jason Sudeikis as Brady’s campaign manager, Sarah Baker as Mitzi Huggins, and the always reliable Brian Cox as Huggins’ father. The Campaign is a tight political farce filled with likable performances, great improv, and finally a solid ending to a Will Ferrell film. Now that alone is rare.

The Campaign gets my vote and an A-

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I’m Jake Turner and I approve this review.

Total Recall: Ah-nold over Farrell


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Of all the films to be remade, why choose the 1990 Arnold Schwarzenegger classic, Total Recall? Hollywood seems to remake cult classics, rip them off, or take something fun back in the day and make it their own creation. However, you just come off as a hack director

Len Wiseman is no different and his take on Total Recall was an fun but ultimately forgettable ride.

I’m going to just tell you right off the bat. There is no Mars, no one liners, and it’s rated PG-13.

Based off the Philip K. Dick short story “We Can Remember it for You Wholesale”  The 1990 original was the best because of its mix of satirical humor, awesome special effects, and nostalgic old school action sequences. This Total Recall strips away the satire, forgot to coordinate a key element to its story, however the special effects are outstanding and solid action sequences.

Now I will give this to them. In the short story, there is no Mars. Nope, that was all director Paul Verhoeven’s own idea.

Colin Farrell is Doug Quaid this time around and there are only two countries left surviving on Earth. The Colony and the United Federation of Britain under control by Chancellor Cohaggen played with always a sneer by the terrific Bryan Cranston. The Colony is overpopulated, dirty, and for people below the poverty line just looking for survival. Quaid doesn’t have it too bad, I mean he’s married to the stunningly beautiful Lori (played by a convincing Kate Beckinsale) and he’s working on an assembly line fixing security robots. One day though, he wants to experience something different and heads to Rekall where they are known for their mind-tripping dreams for their clients. There was a wink to the audience when the secretary tells Quaid, “Remember to have a good time.” It was like preping the audience for a thrilling ride. We get a too brief cameo by John Cho, known for Harold in the Harold and Kumar trilogy who explains about the Secret Agent package that Quaid was all in for. Suddenly, things go wrong and Quaid is now a fugitive on the run, after kicking ass he heads back home to tell Lori until she tries to kill him. As an audience, we have to see what is real and what is fantasy? I was in on it for about an hour.

Quaid and Lori begin the barrage of action sequences to come with a excellent hand to hand combat and a chase beautifully shot by Wiseman as they are jumping off roofs, crashing through windows and jumping down to alleyways. She is like the T-1000 from T2 going after Quaid, she’s fast moving, a track runner and has obviously work in combat tactics because she is a killing machine even though Cohaggen wants Quaid alive. Then we get to the scene where he finally meets Melina, the woman (played by Jessica Biel) of his dreams literally, because its how the film starts. They are on the trail to stop Cohaggen’s dictatorship of his metropolis and save the day. Sounds familiar? Of course it is!

The screenplay by Mark Bomback (Live Free or Die Hard) and Kurt Wimmer kept me intrigued with it’s smart story line until in the second half when the action becomes the center point of the film and dismisses the intrigue and becomes forgettable. While the action is impressive, it just felt like they didn’t know how to make their point. Making Lori into a killing machine was an intriguing idea, but I felt like it was a sci-fi version of the Fugitive.  Where’s Tommy Lee Jones when you need him? Also, if you remember that Cohaggen is an key point of the whole story so why wait til the last 20 minutes to introduce him, it just felt like an extended cameo. Cranston really makes the most of his character. However, the special effects were awe-inspiring especially Paul Cameron’s cinematography, solid performances and some kick-ass sequences make this a fun time at the movies but you’ll forget it as soon as the credits roll.

I do have one question. Where the hell was Benny, our cab driver? I wanted to hear that line, “I’ve got five kids to feed!” Damn, that was memorable. Oh, well. Total Recall is an 118 minute dream that you’ll forget as soon as you jump awake, but at least you’ll remember Beckinsale.

Total Recall gets a B-

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I’m Jake Turner, reminding you to spend your money wisely at the theater.

The Watch: Jumbled, unoriginal star-studded mess


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Hey, everyone. I got a great drinking game to play, seriously this will be the ultimate drinking game. It’s called The Watch. Its very simple. When it comes to blu-ray. Rent it, invite a ton of friends over, get the best liquor, pop it in. Rules: everytime you hear a joke involving gentalia. You take a shot. When you hear stars Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn say “The Watch” you take two shots. Caution: you will be in danger of a week-long hangover.  Why?

Because the Watch is one of the most unoriginal, tasteless films you will watch. That you might as well make a drinking game out of it, in fact The Watch is one of the worst films of the year.

Stiller plays Evan, an manager at a local Costco in Glenview, Ohio. He’s the perfect citizen in the community. I know because we are introduced to him in a bland, tired way. Then one night, a security guard is killed by an something…out there. However, Evan believes it’s up to him to catch the killer and starts the Neighborhood Watch! Ok, it’s not as epic as they must’ve thought. Unfortunately, only three people volunteer. Vince Vaughn (where you been?) plays Bob, a lout that likes to spy on his daughter’s Facebook, do his fast talking delivery of his lines, but only rarely did I chuckle. Franklin played by Jonah Hill who is once again doing his living with my mother, overly aggressive self and British comedian Richard Ayodade who gets most of the few laughs. When I mean few, I mean like 3-4 times. Ironically, this was suppose to be called Neighborhood Watch but prior to the Trayvon Martin shooting. They changed the title or better idea should have been to shelve it.

Did you know that it was actually about an alien invasion? Yeah, me neither. It rarely touches on its main subject. Instead we find out that Evan can’t have kids and doesn’t know how to tell his wife. Omg! Really? Bob being overprotective towards his daughter and even stalking his boyfriend who is a bit too cocky for his own good or is he something more? Yes, he becomes part of the story, I don’t know why, because that was one hell of a stupid twist.

Also, this movie was JUMBLED! I emphasize the word because it didn’t know what the hell it wanted to be. Is it a comedy? Is it a drama? Is it an action movie? Is it science fiction? I had no idea. Also, every time I laugh, the movie got worse. I was scared to laugh for the rest of the time. The unoriginality would have made Adam Sandler blush. I was dealt with a 100 minute film packed with a “joke” a minute involving gentalia, masturbation, and even sexual release. Wow. The supporting characters were also paper thin. I have something I have been wanting to say to Will Forte. You are not…FUNNY. Forte plays a small town cop and I seriously don’t understand why people think he is funny. Just because he was on Saturday Night Live doesn’t mean your funny especially nowadays.

Here’s the difference between Ted and the Watch. Yes, they are both crude. Though, Ted knows what their goal is. The Watch has no clue what the hell it wants to be. They are all in paycheck mode, the side stories are lame, the alien invasion is nothing but window draping, the unnecessary crude script by Seth Rogan, Evan Goldberg, and Jared Stern is horribly jaw dropping. I believe now that Rogan should stop writing now and the direction by Akiva Scheffer was flat Stick to the Lonely Island, please. There is a funny cameo appearance by a great actor but for his sake, I’ll leave him out of this. If you want a comedy that is smart, crude, sentimental and hilarious. Go see Ted.

The Watch is the worst movie of the year so far…I hate to do this.

I give The Watch an F

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I’m Jake Turner, reminding you to spend your money wisely at the theater.

The Dark Knight Rises: Thank you, Nolan!


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Christopher Nolan has done a masterful job upon the Dark Knight series. While this threequel doesn’t reach the epic greatness of The Dark Knight, it’s still a spectacular finale! in fact it’s a candidate for the Best movie of 2012.

Fast forwarding, eight years after the death of Harvey Dent. The Caped Crusader became the vigilante only known as The Dark Knight. Christian Bale is back to throw on the cowl, cape for one last time. It’s going to be difficult as his alter ego, Bruce Wayne has been sheltered in his mansion and he’s physically struggling, attached to a cane and a beard reminiscent of Tom Hanks in Cast Away. Bale’s performance makes him the best Batman yet and using that grizzled voice making it sound vengeful not annoying. He makes this character incredibly complex, slowly showing just how tortured his soul truly is. Gotham City has passed the Dent Act which is a law that’s cleaned up the streets of crime until we are introduced to a terrorist only known as Bane. Ironically, with a flawless mouth dropper of a beginning chroncling Bane’s escape begins to shape his goal upon Gotham. We’re also introduced Selina Kyle, an independent cat burglar played with incredible depth and manipulating charm by Anne Hathaway. Even can kick some serious ass. We understand that it’s Catwoman, but Nolan makes sure we never hear that name. Just let it play in the audience’s minds. Hathaway even gives us a sneak peek into what we are about to witness after recently stole something of importance to Wayne.

Bane wastes no time as he storms into town beginning a path of destruction, but Nolan makes sure that the audience doesn’t know what is key to Bane’s insanity and madness towards the city. Wayne sees it from his home and realizes it’s time that Batman be re-introduced to the city again. Nolan puts on a eye opening chase throughout the city with the Batmobile. This was just the start of the astonishing action set pieces intricately created by Nolan. Then comes the inevitable first battle between Bane and Batman which is a bone crunching scene with its authentic hand to hand fighting techniques. Batman using his martial arts that was established with his time in the LEAGUE of Shadows though it’s sloppy, while Bane uses his brawn and intelligence reading every move from Batman. As Bane breaks Batman’s back and sends him to a well to rot in his own torturous and damaged soul. This story line was clearly the strongest part of the story giving us the idea to how Batman can overcome this leading to soul searching that is engrossing and in its own, a seat clencher. Throughout the second half of the film, you are given reason to Bane’s madness, Wayne finding his true power inside, and why Selina Kyle, Commissioner Gordon are key elements to the story. Not only that, but we are introduced to another character that remained mysterious done with a simplistic subject. A Gotham City cop named John Blake brilliantly played by Joseph Gordon Levitt and as it draws to the ambiguous, satisfying conclusion. You can clearly see why Blake is played with such mystery bringing at times unsurprising conviction, compassion and bravery. Gordon Levitt was the perfect choice for this kind of character, I wouldn’t doubt if he gets some trophy hype, just saying.

Now to Bane, played by Tom Hardy. Hardy rises up to the challenge of following the iconic Joker played by the late Oscar winning Heath Ledger. Bane’s muscular stature is a true physical stunner. With his larnyx damaged, he must talk through a voice box that makes him sound like a garbled version of Sean Connery. However, it’s the reactions with his eyes and times when his voice heightens creating an occasionally scary tone that could have been played for laughs, but the reactionary detail of Hardy is what made him brooding and one frightening son of a gun. In his head, he believes that everything he’s doing is right or it could be for protecting a certain someone that was indeed a jaw dropper.

Finally, Gary Oldman as always lights up the screen with Commissioner Gordon showing his good intentions to the city, at the same time living with the blame that led to Dent’s death. Or wasn’t it Wayne’s fault? Michael Caine is always a delight and even brings up a gut wrenching monologue that will have you thinking. Morgan Freeman drops by as Lucius Fox and even wow, Marion Cotillard who doesn’t miss a beat or even feel unnecessary. There is even a surprising cameo. Trust me.  Okay, that’s it! I can’t say anymore.

Nolan and his brother, Jonathon crafted a marvelous script full of intrigue, intelligence, snappy dialogue, and an conclusion that as I mentioned before was satisfying. Nolan’s action sequences don’t disappoint, he doesn’t get crazy with the pyrotechnics or weapons, but we are introduced to the Bat. Haha, what a ride this is. Pittsburgh makes a great Gotham City, showing the blue collar spirit of the town. Uniformly excellent performances, an absorbing script, gritty action sequences and a strong conclusion makes The Dark Knight Rises, the best movie of the year so far…

I give The Dark Knight Rises an A+

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I’m Jake Turner, reminding you to spend your money wisely as you head to the Cinema.

Savages: God bless Oliver Stone!


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In today’s reboot world of Hollywood. It’s always good to see a legendary filmmaker continue to crank out originality and controversy. Oliver Stone.

Lately, Stone has been tapping into his soft side with 2004’s World Trade Center,  2009’s W: the unauthorized George W. Bush story and Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps.

Now he’s taking on the New York Times best seller, Don Winslow’s Savages. Winslow also co-writes with Stone on the screenplay. When Stone writes, it’s full of wit, facts, and originality. Savages is no different. In fact, it’s one of the best of the year.

Welcome to Laguna Beach. Where the women are beautiful, the sun is always shining, and the waves always crashing against the hot sandy beaches and…where you can find the best marijuana in America. That’s right. Aaron Johnson plays Ben, a buddhist/idealist that seems like the brains of the operation wheeling and dealing business deals left and right. Taylor Kitsch plays Chon, an ex-Navy SEAL/entrepreneur who takes care of the brawny side. You double cross this business, you’re going to pay in bruises and eventually deliver the green. They have it all. A house right off the beach, BMW’s, convertibles, million dollar bank accounts and a relationship with a rich blonde named Ophelia but is known only as “O” to the guys. It’s a love triangle that only lives in a man’s dreams and for good reason too. Stone shows the physical and emotional sides of love in a rather candid and realistic fashion.

Chon and Ben have grown tired and are ready to retire but the Mexican Baja Drug Cartel has different ideas as they want the two entrepreneurs to continue making the herb for another three years. Ben “gracefully” says no and Chon says two words that become engraved in the leader of the drug cartel, Elena played by a scenery chewing Salma Hayek. Hayek takes Elena, brings depth and verbal brutality brought with grace. You’ll have to see it to believe it. Elena knows that their most important asset must be O. Gives the order to capture her to her right hand man, Lado played with a balance of suave sickness and brutal ferocity physically by Benacio Del Toro. Every time Del Toro is on the screen, you’re hooked and don’t want to miss a second because of his unpredictability. Also, Chon and Ben have an unscruplous friend on the inside. Dennis, a dirty DEA agent that keeps the two businessmen off the radar. Played by a thinly haired scene-stealing John Travolta who gained 25 lbs for the role. Finally, I want to give props to Kitsch for his best performance since Friday Night Lights. Bringing fierceness, aggression and a surprising sentimentality towards O and Johnson, shocking the audience in the last quarter of the film with his 180 degree flip on his character.
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Stone taps back into his down and dirty side that is reminiscent of Natural Born Killers. The screenplay is witty, funny, and shocks you with a twist that satirizes today’s Hollywood and Winslow’s ending stays in as well. Dynamic action sequences, sizzling sex scenes and uniformly excellent performances across the board make this one of the best of 2012.

Savages gets an A!

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I’m Jake Turner, reminding you to spend your money wisely at the cinema.

Ted: Wahlberg, MacFarlane make Ted an instant classic!


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Whoever thought that a story about a man and his Teddy bear would make me think this was the best comedy of the year. In fact, Ted is the best comedy I have seen in 5 years!

Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane bring his hilarious but twisted mind to the big screen debut. Taking the cliche of a boy and his best friend but fast forwarding it to where the boy is a man and the Teddy bear is a pot smoking, foul mouthed, drinking and sexually active Teddy bear with a heart of gold. The best thing about Ted is whom is involved play the material straight faced.

Mark Wahlberg plays John Bennett, an lazy, pot smoking 35-ish man working a dead end job but has a beautiful girlfriend, Lori. She’s played by the gorgeously but fiery Mila Kunis. You know the independent guy dream girl. How John and Lori meet is amusingly funny but quite sweet too. However, the twist is Ted, his best friend and Teddy bear is living with John. That’s not cool with Lori who wants Ted to move out. Guys, we have all been there before. Trying to move on is a hard thing sometimes especially if it involves your best friend. MacFarlane lends his voice as Ted, who sounds like an boston-accented Peter Griffin. Wahlberg and MacFarlane make a great team making my sides split with…the Thunder song.

The best thing is how simplistic it is with its story. Ted is treated like a real person with feelings in the public’s eye. He can even fall in love as he does hilariously at his supermarket job, he can fight, he can run. The special effects are realistic. Here’s where it gets twisted, there is a over exuberent father, Donny. Giovanni Ribisi was darkly funny as this creeper that will stop at nothing to get that bear. He wants to make his overweight, spoiled son happy. Aww how sociopathic of you. We also great comedic insight into how far Ted and John’s friendship truly is and how much they need each other in their lives.

Ted is written, produced and directed by MacFarlane and his Family Guy collaborators. Including Walter Murphy doing the music and Professor X himself, Patrick Stewart hilariously narrating. He shows his gifted persona through sharp writing, nostalgic pop culture cameos including his fascination with Flash Gordon which will have you rolling in your seat with laughter. By the way, Family Guy fans. Let’s see if you can spot all the voices from the show and a surprise cameo that just by his silence is a gutbuster. I haven’t felt about a comedy like this since Wedding Crashers in 2005. Comedy is a lost art in Hollywood, but sometime in a blue moon. An original comedy with memorable lines and great balance come out and becomes a blockbuster.

Ted is one of the best films of the year.

Ted gets an A- image