movie review

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


image

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+

image

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

The Campaign: Political satire lives up to its promises


image

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-

image

I’m Jake Turner and I approve this review.

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.

Ted: Wahlberg, MacFarlane make Ted an instant classic!


image

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

That’s My Boy! Are you sure it’s not a mistake?



How low can Adam Sandler go?! Well, if your idea of comedy is teacher-student molestation, obesity, and even folks…incest. Then this movie is for you. For everyone else that has morals, you’re smart to ignore this Sandler vehicle.

Adam Sandler plays Donny Berger, a 40-ish loser that was famous for having sex with his teacher when he was 13 years old. She gets 30 yrs in jail and he gets fame. Yeah, that’s fair. Donny has to come up with $43,000 or he’s going to jail. In order to get this money, he agrees to getting the jailed mother, him and his son…Han Solo together for a Phil Donahue-style talk show. Hilarious.

His son now named Todd Peterson played by Andy Samberg is getting married to Jamie, a high maintenance woman who obviously loves to scream her lines played by Leighton Meester. Donny tricks them into letting him stay for the wedding and pretends to be his best friend. How stupid are these characters to not realize he’s his loser dad? Simplistic enough, I think. Let’s get to Samberg. He’s a funny performer, I know just see his work with the Lonely Island and SNL but in this he looks like he’s doing everything possible to get a laugh out of the audience. He succeeds for the most part and a few good one liners. Also get some memorable cameos from Jets head coach Rex Ryan, sports personality Dan Patrick, James Caan, Susan Sarandon, Tony Orlando, Todd Bridges and even…Vanilla Ice that admittedly got a few laughs.

HOWEVER! I keep forgetting that Sandler has lost his Midas touch. He infuses some laughs, then some disgusting humor that had no comic timing, then punch us in the face with so-called heart then it gets disgusting again, sweet and then it goes over the top with its disgust with a visual joke about incest. The laughs stopped and I sat looking at the screen wondering how someone could come up with something so mean-spirited and disturbing and pass it off as comedy. My mouth dropped when I found out that it was Sean Anders in the director’s chair. He did one of my favorite comedies, Hot Tub Time Machine.

While That’s My Boy has its laughs, its mean spirited screenplay, bloated running time of two hours, disgusting humor, and underusing its supporting characters keeps it as another Sandler misfire and yes, you saw it coming. It’s one of the worst movies of 2012.

That’s My Boy gets a D+ and a star and a half rating

I’m Jake Turner, reminding you to spend your money wisely

Rock of Ages: Long Live Rock and Roll!



Ah, the smell of a grungy, dirty, hole in the wall bar. Inside there are the finest ladies rock and roll has to offer to the rock gods! Cheap drinks a-plenty and Def Leppard rocking the stages. Now, rock fans! Here’s your chance to relive it with ROCK OF AGES! Based off the Broadway hit, Director Adam Shankman makes this one of the most entertaining films of 2012. Maybe one of the best of the year. That’s right, I said it!

All right, we open with an kick ass rendition of Guns N Roses rendition of Paradise City which is perfect to get the audience prepped and be ready for a rocking good two hours of nostalgic rock rebellion. Julianne Hough plays Sherrie, an Oklahoma girl who has dreams of Hollywood that she hops a bus to make herself known. When she arrives, she persuades a job out of Dennis, the owner of the Bourbon Room. Remember the smell, rock fans and that’s the Bourbon Room. Dennis is played with zesty enjoyment by Alec Baldwin. Now in a musical like this, you must have a cliche romantic storyline that will put a smile on your face. Enter the man of her dreams that ironically wants the same thing. Drew, played by Diego Bonata. He can sing, dance and he wants to be a rock star. It suckered me, not gonna lie.

Meanwhile, not everyone embraces it. The new mayor of Los Angeles, Mike Whitmore (played with slimy enjoyment by Bryan Cranston) has a plan to shut down The Bourbon Room and clean up the streets of the city. Although it’s really his wife, Patricia that wants to end this filth. Played by a passionate Catherine Zeta Jones bringing a little Hilary Clinton in the character. She lights up the screen with her rendition of Pat Benatar’s Hit Me with Your Best Shot that would have every male on America wanting her. Trust me, the sex appeal is there.

Now, let’s get to the scene stealer. Ladies and gentleman, Tom Cruise once chews up the scenery and sets the screen on fire with Stacee Jaxx. Decked out in tattoos across a muscular body, greasy long hair and a narcissistic personality, he could be Axl Rose if he wanted. Did you know he could sing? Me neither. His renditions of Paradise City and Bon Jovi’s Wanted Dead or Alive will have you searching for your lighters to put up to the sky. Cruise brings dynamic flair to the film.

We also get Paul Giamatti as Jaxx’s agent, Paul Gill just relishing in his slick, sneaky character that tries to find the next Stacee Jaxx but without Jaxx finding out. Mary J. Bilge as a strip club owner with a heart of gold, Malin Akerman as a Rolling Stone reporter who has a fling with Cruise’s Jaxx and Russell Brand’s Lonnie that was gifted with the many of the film’s one liners and his passion for Rock and Roll is something to cherish.

I’m glad that they didn’t Glee-ify some of the greatest hits but kept the hard rock soul deep inside especially with music by Def Leppard, Night Ranger, Bon Jovi, Journey, Foreigner, and Twisted Sister. Infused with brisk pacing, a winning cast that looks like they are having a great time making this, and true rock and roll infused within. Rock of Ages is a nostalgic love letter to Rock and Roll that will make you dust off the leather jacket and Def Leppard T-shirt.

Rock of Ages gets an A and a four star rating.

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