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Taken was released in theatres on 1/30/09 and on DVD and Blu-ray on 5/12/09.

There's nothing special about Taken, it's just a very entertaining action movie. Rent it and make yourself some popcorn, sit back and enjoy.

Drag Me to Hell


Don't be afraid to admit that you loved Drag Me to Hell. When the movie ended, one of the people I saw it with exclaimed how bad it was and everyone else just kind of walked out of the theatre quietly. As I was walking out I admitted to how much fun I had watching it and the rest of the group just kind of fell into place with statements like "I actually kinda liked it" and "I don't think it was terrible...". So let me save you the time, breath, and the embarrassment of having to recant your negativity by saying: "You really liked Drag Me to Hell".

I found myself laughing about it, alone, in the car on the way home. What was that slime in the dead lady's mouth and how did Allison Lohman's character not vomit all over the place?!?

The movie was a little slow going at first but ended up being so funny it's scary. Drag Me to Hell is horror the way it should be done... tongue-in-cheek. It was laugh-out-loud scary. (That's what my quote would be in the newspaper ads for the movie if I was a legitimate film critic.) If you dig campy, funny, ridiculous, horror movies see Drag Me to Hell. At the end of the movie, chuckle and say "That was pretty fun, I really liked that". Because it was, and you did.

Up (2D and 3D)


Another brilliantly rendered, emotionally wrenching, colorful, funny, exciting, sad, perfect addition to Disney/Pixar's library.

Up is absolutely beautiful. The life story of Carl Fredrickson and his wife Ellie is the most heartbreaking story ever animated. The story of a boy from a broken marraige looking for an accepting father figure tugs at the heart as well. These two poignant tales and a great intercontinental adventure are the ingredients for a heartwarming journey of friendship and self discovery that only Pixar could have brought to life so magnificentally.

Of course there are some problems. It wouldn't be right to rave about a film and not bring up the most obvious plot issues. The worst offense this film commits is trying to convince us that a 78 year old man and 8 year old fat kid could physically do the things that the two main characters in Up were doing. I suppose if you're willing to accept the fact that they are flying a house attached to thousands of balloons, you should probably be willing to let their age and physical prowess go. I was, however, confused by the age difference between Carl and his childhood hero. When Carl is a boy, Muntz is an adult and already exploring the world... when Carl is a 78 year old man, Muntz actually looks younger than Carl.

These are two minor flaws in an otherwise perfect exhibition of comedy, drama, action and adventure. Once again, I'm torn over what should take the top spot on my "Best Movies of 2009" list. Last year at this point it was between WALL-E and Iron Man, a Paramount picture. This year Up is vying for the #1 spot with Star Trek... also Paramount. I don't think Star Trek stands a chance.

By the way, I've seen Up in 2D and 3D... while the 3D effect is cool, it doesn't really add all that much to the film. Since the story is always the prominent feature in Pixar films, the fact that it's beautifully animated is just a bonus. The 3D is a double bonus but not necessary for complete enjoyment of the movie.

Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian


There's one rule for movie sequels, as far as I'm concerned: Bring something to the table. If a sequel is better than the original... great. It doesn't have to be, it just needs to be either a continuation of the original story or, at the very least, an entirely new adventure that's grander than the original. Here's the problem with NatM2... when I say "grander" I'm not referring to the amount of land on which the new adventure takes place. Battle of the Smithsonian is just the original Night at the Museum movie with more acreage.

So what are the rules? In the original, the tablet was established as the magical force that brought the exhibits in the Museum of Natural History to life. Since the tablet originated from ancient Egypt, one would assume that it wasn't specifically designed to bring museum exhibits to life, yet it didn't seem to affect any of the statues in Manhattan immediately outside the doors of the museum. In the sequel, it brought the entire Smithsonian to life. What's the range of this thing, why weren't there maniquins breaking out of NYC department stores in the original? It seemed like maybe there was a very small range because several of the exhibits didn't come to life untill Ben Stiller and Amy Adams approached them (Abraham Lincoln) but then why was he able to meet up with them at the end of the movie? (Don't worry, I'm not giving anything away.) I just don't know what the rules are. Seemingly, neither do the filmmakers.

What is the functionality of the objects? Are the gangsters guns loaded? Is there fuel in the shuttle engine? Does the first airplane ever made have the maneuverability of an F-16?

Amy Adams is becoming one of my favorite actresses. She really can light up any movie she's in and she had her work cut out for her in this one... Hank Azaria was funny, but only in a couple of scenes. Ricky Gervais' character was inconsistant with himself, I couldn't tell if he was for or against the technological progress in the museum, and don't even get me started on Ben Stiller...

I didn't like the first installment and this attempt didn't give me much hope for the franchise. Obviously it will continue to rake in the cash and so there will absolutely be another Night at the Museum. As long as I don't have to pay for it, I'll probably see it. I wouldn't advise you to though.

Terminator: Salvation

No, no, no, no, No.

Unless I'm mistaken, apparently Cyberdine Technologies had been preparing for the coming of John Connor since long before they could possibly have known about him. I can't be positive since I'm still a little fuzzy about the plot because I was distracted by all of the special effects. That's right, I said there are too many special effects in the new Terminator movie; so many that they completely overshadowed the story.

From what I could tell, it was a simple "Let's get 'em" scenario which is a little disappointing considering all of the possibilities. When you give characters knowledge of the future, you might want to have them use that knowledge at some point to attempt to change it. They didn't do that though. John Connor and the resistance were still just being reactive instead of being proactive.

Moving away from the story now; the writing was terrible and was extremely detrimental to the quality of the acting. I imagine it would be difficult to convincingly deliver some of the campy, unrealistic, and over-the-top phrases heard in this movie so I'm willing to give the majority of the cast the benefit of the doubt. I do want to mention Sam Worthington, an Australian actor who is an unknown in America, but soon will be a household name. He was really the only "good" part of the movie. Worthington and the special effects (of which there were too many). So to sum up... Worthington - good, special effects - good, acting - OK i guess, story - bad, writing - awful.

Alternatives to Terminator: Salvation - The Terminator, T2: Judgement Day, or The Matrix

Angels & Demons


I wrote no... then I thought about it and I wrote Yes... then I thought about it some more and I decided on No.

I guess it really boils down to whether or not you like these specialized scavenger hunts. National Treasure is Indiana Jones for American history and The Da Vinci Code and Angels & Demons is Indiana Jones for religion. I have a serious problem with a movie that has a character giving what should be an hour long lecture to another character as they're driving at 80 miles an hour through crowded streets in order to educate the audience. If it happened once, I might have overlooked it... it was the entire movie. I also have concerns about a Harvard symbology professor that can't translate Latin or Italian. I take issue with an evil plot that's entirely reliant on events and decisions that are completely out of the masterminds hands.

After reading what I wrote above, I can't believe I was so hesitant to say "No, you should absolutely NOT see Angels & Demons." I mean it was light years better than The Da Vinci Code in that it was a much more fast paced adventure.

I guess your beliefs will play a strong role in whether or not you care about the final outcome. At some point in the movie someone says that "the modern world is threatening the ancient traditions" of the Catholic church, I, however, believe that the opposite is true. The fact that there are otherwise rational people making irrational and irresponsible decisions in order to uphold ancient traditions is absolutely mind blowing.

Angels & Demons id a fast-paced thriller with puzzles that are impossible for the audience to solve unless you are, apparently, a Harvard symbology teacher. If that interests you then by all means...

Hotel for Dogs

Fuck no.

Hotel for Dogs was released in theatres on 1/16/09 and DVD and Blu-ray on 4/28/09.

I apologize for the profanity, but this was a stupid fuckin movie. I mean there's fantasy and then there's idiocy; whoever came up with this story and it was a children's book before it was a movie, has absolutely no sense of reality. Even Star Trek, Lord of the Rings and The Matrix are grounded in reality. They are based in a realistic environment and have real relationships between characters who say things that real people say. I was laughing out loud when Don Cheadle gave his monologue at the end about how these kids did something so brave and that the dogs should be given a chance and blah blah blah... Hollywood needs to stop producing this trash and start investing more money in the quality independent films that actually have some entertainment value.

Star Trek


So it's a little nerdy, so what? Star Trek is a great movie.

I didn't think I could hate George Lucas more than I did yesterday. I was wrong. I HATE HIM WITH THE FIRE OF A THOUSAND SUNS!!!! Why is it that J.J. Abrams, a man who's experience includes mysterious time travelling islands, secret spies, impossible missions and... Felicity, can create a smart, realistic looking, funny, intense, and exciting prequel to a space saga that he had nothing to do with, but George Lucas turns his own creation, a brilliant legacy that he had left to the world, into nothing more than a clown show for children and simpletons. I mean, the special effects alone are enough to make a recommendation. I don't think there was a single character in the whole movie that was computer animated. Not one. The space battles, the snow monsters, the action sequences... the all looked real... weird... I guess Star TREK is what you get when you have a director who actually cares about the story, the characters and the fans and not ONLY the money.

Star Trek is almost perfect. I say "almost" after a single viewing because the hype may have gotten to me; it's possible that it's better than I thought it was. If Star Trek turns out to be only as good as I think it is now, then it's still a great movie. I kind of felt that the plot was a little thin but it might just be because I was expecting more. I will be seeing it again and I'm fairly certain that I'll enjoy it more the second time.

The special effects and the story aside, I have to mention the cast... holy shit... it's like they got young, current, hip clones of the original cast. Specifically Kirk and Spock. It really is uncanny how Chris Pine and Zachery Quinto were able to summon these characters. I thought all great characters from space adventure movies were whiny cry-baby kids who threw temper tantrums whenever they didn't get their way from the Jedi council when they were young... did I mention that I hate George Lucas? My point is that the casting was perfect, the special effects were perfect, and the plot might have been perfect.

If you're planning on skipping this just because it's Star Trek, you may want to reconsider. They did an exceptional job making this entry accessible to the uninitiated. I have no intention of rewatching any of the original 6 movies in the franchise as a result of this success, but I am eager to see what will come of the series with it's new cast and Abrams in the captains chair.

I hate George Lucas.

17 Again

Once again, no.

This movie is for 17 year olds and 17 year olds only. The themes that are touched on are way too mature for younger viewers that might be attracted due entirely to it's post-High School Musical star. Unfortunately, it's too immature to entertain an adult audience.

There were, of course, some humorous moments. I found myself chuckling here and there, but those moments were outnumbered by the times that i winced with discomfort as the thirty-something mom got lost in the dreamy, underage heart throb's loving embrace... NOT ok. I know that Zac Efron is legal and I know that he was playing a 35 year old in a 17 year old's body... but she didn't know that...

I have to say that I was impressed with Efron. Not necessarily with his acting as a whole, but more with his Matthew Perry impression. Unfortunately, his copycat performance isn't enough to merit a recommendation, at least not in theatres... check it out on DVD or cable if you want.