“JT’s FIlm Session”

Total Recall: Ah-nold over Farrell


image

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-

image

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

The Watch: Jumbled, unoriginal star-studded mess


image

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

image

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

The Dark Knight Rises: Thank you, Nolan!


image

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+

image

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

Battleship: I thought games were fun? Not


image

Battleship

I have two questions for Universal Pictures. One, how did you get Peter Berg to do this? Two, why take on a board game?

Both questions were left unanswered after watching the loud, mind numbing and incompetently written Battleship. Now I understand, that is based on a board game and the writing won’t be the strongest. However, you have to give us characters that I can care about. Let alone, the acting be at least tolerable.

Friday Night Lights’ alum Taylor Kitsch plays Alex Hopper, a bad boy who knows he’s a bad boy. Why? He breaks into a gas station at 2am for a chicken burrito for Samantha Shane, a strong willed woman he met in the bar. Hang on to your seats, we’re only 5 min in and it was the beginning of every action movie cliche ever made. He’s arrested but at the same time Samantha is flattered. She’s played by Brooklyn Decker, whose range goes as far as an facial tick. His brother, Stone (played briefly by Alexander Skarsgaard) is fed up and forces Riggins, oops I meant Hopper into the United States Navy. Fast forward to graduation and Samantha is Hopper’s fiance and he just made lieutenent. Ugh, talk about thin characters. I know it feels like dissection. At least if you’re going to make them thin, then at least make them likable. Strike one. The Navy is right now in the midst of the Naval Games. But! Who cares about plot? Suddenly! Without explanation, alien battleships burst out of the water and it’s time to play Battleship, the alien edition. By the time, that happens I just didn’t care anymore.

Instead of trying to find out reason why. The Navy attacks them with everything they got and that pisses off the aliens who blast away with steal balls of destruction blowing up many of the ships. I was waiting for someone to say, ” Sir, they sunk our battleship.” Then return it with ” You SUNK my battleship!” Sadly, I didn’t hear it. With a main character killed off (bye, Stone), Hopper is now in charge of the ship and I didn’t buy his sudden leadership for one second. Kitsch looks like he’s playing Tim Riggins still from SNL. Brooding, staring lifelessly in the camera. I know he has presence but come on! We also get pop/R&B singer Rihanna as Petty Officer Cole. For an actor, she’s one hell of a singer. In paycheck mode, Liam Neeson briefly appears as Admiral Shane. Wait. Samantha’s last name is Shane. I’m shocked.

With CGI-laced action sequences that are at times exciting, at times cartoonish, unlikable and bland characters, glacier pacing and an ending that would make audiences shake their head in disbelief. Sorry, that is not how I want to see the Greatest Generation go out. That’s all I’m going to say.

Watching this cartoon makes me shudder for Candy Land: the movie.

Battleship gets a D+ and it’s one of the worst films of 2012.

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