Avatar: 9 out of 10.
We'll keep this review brief.
Avatar is as good as you've heard, if not better. You're essentially drawn into an alien world and you're not released for 162 minutes. And then you're sorry you have to leave.
I tried to see it in IMAX 3D, but it's sold out until May. Just see it in regular 3D. It's sensory overload as it is, IMAX might kill you.
Knowing: 6 out of 10.
Some reviewers I know and trust loved this film, so my expectations were a little higher than they'd normally be for a Nick Cage sci fi movie. It's not a bad movie. In fact, it's kind of neat in spots, and practically thought provoking, but it's still a six. A six dressed as a nine, perhaps, but still a six.
I'd like to make a list of films in which we witness the destruction of New York City. Off the top of my head, I can think of about a dozen.
Fantastic Mr. Fox: 8.5 out of 10.
In a word, this film is fantastic. Betcha didn't see that coming, eh?
This is one of those rare films that fulfils both the 35-year old and the 7-year old. I can personally attest to this. It nails both audiences in terms of story, dialogue and visual appeal.
And that visual appeal is something special. I just enjoyed looking at this movie. They could have muted the audio and I'd have been mesmerized. This movie looks unlike any animated film I've seen previously. It's stunning.
And that story and dialogue... charming and funny as cuss. As a big fan of previous Wes Anderson efforts like Bottle Rocket, Rushmore and The Royal Tenenbaums, this is another W.A. gem, with the voices of your usual W.A. movie suspects. Bill Murray, Jason Schwartzman and Owen Wilson all contribute, but it's George Clooney who perfectly captures the essence of Mr. Fox.
Cuss, I'm going for it one more time. See this movie, it's fantastic.
The Astronaut Farmer: 3 out of 10.
I hated The Astronaut Farmer. Rotten Tomatoes has it at 58% and I find that shocking. The Astronaut Farmer is the worst kind of cinema and should be avoided at all cost.
It's good to have dreams. When this Farmer chap decides he's going to build a rocket in his barn, blast off to outer space and orbit the earth, people are sceptical. But it's his dream, don't you see? How will his teenage son feel if his daddy gave up on his dream?
Although I hated the "you can do anything so long as you believe in your dreams" Disney Americana crapola, that's not what got this movie a 3 out of 10. This movie gets a 3 out of 10 for plot holes you could fly a rocket through and for requiring a complete suspension of logic, reason and belief. Essentially, it's all completely ridiculous. All of it. Field of Dreams, a much better slice of Americana, seems far more plausible than The Astronaut Farmer, and that guy ended up playing catch with his dead dad.
How many people did Farmer almost kill when his first launch failed? How was he able to blast a rocket in Texas and get off without even a warning? How did he score all the fuel for that launch, let alone the next one? In post 9/11 America, how exactly does one manage to secure that much fuel for their missile-like rocket? How did he, his teenage son and illegal alien labourer manage to build that second rocket so damn quickly? And where did all the parts come from, Home Depot? OMG, you have to see this movie just to see how impossible and moronic it all is. The FBI come across as complete morons, the wife appears to be completely brainwashed and Farmer - well he's clearly a demented egomaniac with delusions of grandeur and completely and utterly dangerous. That, ladies and gentlemen, is your American hero.
Oh it's bad... and simply based on the fact a guy on a ranch said he was building a rocket to go into space, without anyone actually seeing said rocket, the space cowboy became a world-wide sensational story. Every news outlet in the world descended on his ranch, he was talked up in talk show monologues and "space cowboy" entered the lexicon. All because some cracker in Texas said he was building a rocket. I'll bet there are at least 4 dozen Americans building rockets in their barns as I type, but we don't know their names because they're nuts.
I hated this movie, and if you enjoyed it, I hate you, too.
Wendy and Lucy: 7 out of 10.
I must confess, I had never heard of Wendy and Lucy. My wife essentially ordered me to watch it and for 80 minutes I was drawn into Michelle Williams' character's world.
Michelle Williams is fantastic in this, by the way. This ain't no Dawson's Creek, this is Wendy's life, and it's raw, sad and dire.
It's only 80 minutes, and there's very little action, but you're strangely riveted. My wife was right about this one.
Anvil! The Story of Anvil: 9 out of 10.
I've been looking forward to this one. It just seemed like my kind of documentary. I'm happy to report it was well worth the wait.
Anvil! The Story of Anvil is awesome!!!1!1!!
Read this little synopsis and tell me you're not intrigued. I dare you.
At 14, best friends Robb Reiner and Steve "Lips" Kudlow made a pact to rock together forever. Their band, Anvil, hailed as the "demi-gods of Canadian metal, " influenced a musical generation that includes Metallica, Slayer, and Anthrax, despite never hitting the big time. Following a calamitous European tour, Lips and Robb, now in their fifties, set off to record their 13th album in one last attempt to fulfil their boyhood dreams.
Lips and Robb are Toronto boys, full of passion and an unwavering belief in themselves. This story isn't just for fans of heavy metal or Canadian music, it's for anyone who has ever had a dream.
I absolutely loved it, and I'm watching it again as soon as I find 90 minutes. You'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll be inspired. I promise.
Son of Rambow: 6.5 out of 10.
Much like Where the Wild Things Are, which I saw the previous day, Son of Rambow is about the wonders of a child's imagination. It's a very cute and charming little British film about a sheltered boy who is shown a pirated copy of First Blood. That unleashes the creative filmmaker within.
It's a simple movie, but pleasing. Taking place in the early 80s, it has a great soundtrack with The Cure, Depeche Mode, Siouxsie and the Banshees and more. Heck, it's worth watching for the soundtrack and the prototypical French cool 80s guy alone.
Where the Wild Things Are:
6.5 7 out of 10.
I've been looking forward to this Spike Jonze adaptation of Maurice Sendak's book since I first saw that great trailer featuring Arcade Fire's "Wake Up". But luke-warm reviews removed the urgency. Yesterday, on a rare afternoon without kids to care for and a free movie pass burning a hole in my wallet, my wife and I headed out to see the latest Coen brothers film, A Serious Man.
As it turned out, Saturday was the only day of the week A Serious Man wasn't playing at 3:55. A quick scan of the other films playing revealed very little I could stomach. Where the Wild Things won by default.
It's not as good as I had hoped, but it's not bad. The creatures look great and you're completely drawn into Max's world - which mainly serves to remind us adults that the world can be a pretty scary place for kids.
I'm glad we didn't take the kids. Where the Wild Things Are isn't a kids movie. It's all about remembering the insecurities, fears and abandonment issues shared by many a youngster. That's some scary shit.
When I first left the theatre, I thought this was a solid 7. The morning after, however, it's a 6.5. A 9 sentence book does not a 100 minute movie make.
Upon further reflection, we're back up to a 7/10.
Dear Zachary: A Letter to a Son About His Father: 9 out of 10.
"Dear Zachary" is a documentary by Kurt Kuenne for the son of his close friend Andrew Bagby who was murdered by Newfoundlander Shirley Jane Turner. It is the best film I've seen this year.
Watching "Dear Zachary" was emotionally exhausting, because the brilliant frenetically paced editing took us on a journey so twisted, so unexpected and so unbelievable, it starts to feel like fantastic crime fiction. But it's real. It's very, very real. And it's chilling.
As a Canadian, it's tough to watch parts of this doc in which our judicial system, particularly in Newfoundland, comes across as a catalyst for disaster. But the facts speak for themselves.
For several reasons, the contents of this film will stick with me for some time. There's the life of Andrew Bagby, Zachary, and Andrew's incredible parents, David and Kate Bagby, the true stars of this remarkable film.
Paul Blart: Mall Cop: 2.5 out of 10.
Wow. That was bad. It wasn't so bad it's good bad. It was the bad bad. The comedy without a single laugh or compelling moment bad.
I'm giving it a 2.5 because my 7-year old seemed to really enjoy the climatic scene. I'm not surprised. It seemed ripped from the Disney Channel line-up plots he devours daily.
Don't see this movie. Its blows and sucks all at once.
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