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Movie Review – Drive (2011)

In Drive, Ryan Gosling plays a man who isn’t given a proper name. He’s known only as Driver. It’s a fitting description, given the way cars factor into his daily life. By day, he works for a mechanic named Shannon (Bryan Cranston) and is an occasional Hollywood stunt driver. By night, he’s a wheelman for criminals in need of a quick getaway. Although he’s not a warrior in the traditional sense, Driver is as starkly developed as a samurai – narrowly focused, deeply committed, an expert at what he does, and completely impenetrable.

Movie Review – The Three Musketeers (2011)

The Three Musketeers plays less like an adaptation of Alexandre Dumas’ original novel and more like a test drive for a new historical video game. Indeed, it was directed by Paul W.S. Anderson, whose career is in part defined by films based on video games (Mortal Kombat, Alien vs. Predator, the first and third Resident Evil films with another one on the way). It’s not the deviations that bother me; I truly could not care less how unfaithful a film is from its source so long as I’m being entertained. What bothers me is the simple-mindedness with which the story is told.

Movie Review – Paranormal Activity 3 (2011)

The first movie scared the living hell out of me. The second movie, not so much. We’ve now reached the third movie, and while I maintain that horror movies should be judged by their ability to frighten and not by their status as franchise pushers, I have to admit that some of my faith has been restored. Although Paranormal Activity 3 is in many ways as cliched as its predecessor, and although a few of the much publicized explanations are a bit obscure, it’s smoother, tenser, and pretty damn scary.

Movie Review – Johnny English Reborn (2011)

The title is Johnny English Reborn, but the film contains nothing even remotely resembling a rebirth. If anything, it remains in the stagnant quagmire that made the original Johnny English so unbearable. It’s strained, predictable, and desperately unfunny – a film that doesn’t showcase the comedic talents of star Rowan Atkinson so much as abuses them. He’s essentially on par with a sideshow freak or a circus animal, his physicality and learned behaviors exploited by filmmakers looking to turn a profit.

Movie Review – Footloose (2011)

I went into Footloose with very low expectations, since I knew the filmmakers had very little to work with. The original 1984 film, directed by Herbert Ross and starring Kevin Bacon, may have provided us with some classic ’80s songs but was woefully inadequate in all other fields, including plot, character, and theme. Although this new version tells virtually the exact same story, and although it copies specific scenes and lines of dialogue almost verbatim, I was surprised to find myself watching a stronger, better calculated film.

Movie Review – The Thing (2011)

Despite sharing the exact same title, The Thing is not a remake of John Carpenter’s 1982 film. Nor, for that matter, is it related to John Hawks’ 1951 film The Thing from Another World. It is, in fact, a prequel to Carpenter’s film, taking place three days earlier and telling the story of the ill-fated Norwegian science team stationed in Antarctica. Provided you’re familiar with this story, it doesn’t take a great leap of the imagination to figure out what happens.

Movie Review – The Big Year (2011)

Unless I’m talking about garden variety birds like pigeons, sparrows, crows, turkeys, or chickens, I can say without any hesitation that I know zilch about bird watching – or birding, or whatever it is they call it. That being said, my issue with The Big Year had little to do with my lack of knowledge on the subject. It really had to do with the way the subject was presented. If a film is going to address an esoteric hobby, extra effort must be made to have it connect with an audience.

Movie Review – Real Steel (2011)

In Shawn Levy’s Real Steel, hulking robots fight each other in back-alleys and sports arenas as frothing crowds cheer them on. This blending of science fiction and fantasy, coupled with the adrenaline rush from the sheer spectacle of brawling metal behemoths, automatically makes the robots more interesting than the human characters. I honestly don’t know if this flaw can be attributed to the underlying concept, which I think is in the spirit of fun, or to the filmmakers, who clearly were influenced more by audience pandering than by story.

Movie Review – The Ides of March (2011)

George Clooney – the co-writer, co-producer, and director of The Ides of March – cast himself in a supporting role as a Pennsylvania governor turned Democratic presidential candidate. As self-congratulatory as you may find this, I’ve actually seen the movie, and believe you me, no one else could have played this character. In politics, it’s not just about a candidate’s party platform; it’s also about charm and affability, the sense that the man or woman running for office is a nice, likeable person.

Movie Review – Straw Dogs (2011)

I described Sam Peckinpah’s 1971 version of Straw Dogs as visceral, disturbing, and unpleasant, and without a doubt, those same qualities apply to Rod Lurie’s 2011 remake. What surprises me is that this new version is far more agreeable, in large part because, while the basic story is exactly the same, the subtexts have been altered in such a way that they’re far more compelling.

Movie Review of Footloose

As a teenager growing up in the 80’s, the original ‘Footloose’ was the go-to movie for memorable quotes, classic dance moves, and the best all around “sticking it to authority figures” storyline a girl my age at that time could dream of. Imagine my pleasure, then, when a couple of decades or so later, a remake of Footloose has me feeling almost as giddy as my former 13 year old self-and the urge to get up and dance was calling my name—LOUDLY.

Ditch That Rut You Are In By Going Retro – Back To The Classic Films

Classic movies are known as classics for a reason. When you revisit some of the classics, you might discover that you’ve got a brand new pastime that will give you just a little additional joy that you didn’t even know was out there.

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