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See Dredd. See Dredd Fail at the Box Office. — By Jack

See this.

I’ll tell you about the car crash later. While you’re waiting you need to go see the new Dredd movie. It’s freaking fantastic. A text book example of how to do an action movie. It’s clever. Intense. Stylized. Gruesome. The stakes never cease to escalate. And every action sequence is completely different from the one that preceded it. But despite these accomplishments the movie debuted at 6th place for its opening weekend. With a paltry 6.3 million dollar take, this movie will be seen as a failure. After a summer of endless disappointments (Spider-Man, Prometheus, Total Recall, MIB3, Bourne Legacy, Dark Knight Rises) it would be a tragedy to see this film fail.

Just wipe this piece of crap from your mind and give the reboot a chance.

Here’s the setup. Fucked up future. Overpopulated. Law is up held by Judges, agents that act as on the spot judge, jury, enforcer, and executioner. Baddest of the bad, Judge Dredd (Karl Urban) has a new partner, Anderson (Olivia Thirlby.) Dredd and rookie wind up investigating a murder in a mega apartment complex. Investigation turns to drug bust as it turns out this mega complex (known as Peach Tree) is dominated by a drug cartel. Ruthless cartel leader Ma-Ma locks the building down, so Dredd and Anderson have to fight their way up 200 stories to get to her. Sounds like a tiresome Die-Hard right? WRONG.

Okay, at its heart it is Die-Hard. But that’s not a bad thing. The movie runs in directions that will blow your mind. First of all there is the style. Take 300 ‘s slow motion fight scenes, (with story driven causality for the slow motion) add beautiful colorization, and gut wrenching choreography, and you end up with sequences that amaze but never feels like spectacle. I was blown away and I saw it in 2D. But just when you’re thinking, “that was cool, but I don’t really wanna sit through anymore slow motion,” the film jettisons the conceit and does something completely different.

So you’re good on action. What about plot? Well the plot is solid but it’s no Nolan film. But what it does nail is setting, theme, and mood. Director Pete Travis has created a realistic albeit depressing world of the future. Violence in this city is rampant and you feel that in every facet of the movie. A lot of people knocked The Dark Knight Rises for not presenting the Gothamite’s perspective unlike the previous two films. That’s not the case here. Early in the film, victims of a crime gone wrong lie in a bloody mess. While the clean up crew mops up, an announcer informs the public “the food court will reopen in 30 minutes.” As Dredd and Anderson make their way up, you feel the terror as the residents are torn between following the law or facing the consequences of the oppressive gang. There are some really chilling moments here. And ultimately why the movie succeeds thematically is that it problematizes the notion of an absolute law that doesn’t have to answer to a further authority. But it does so with subtle nods and tension rather than having the hero make some big realization “this is wrong!”

Lena Headey as Ma-Ma

Wood Harris

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The performances are a real joy. No villains are over the top. Lena Headey’s Ma-Ma is a smart, scary, and a lethal foil. Fans of HBO’s The Wire will recognize Wood Harris as Kay, Ma-Ma’s henchman who gets arrested and dragged along for the ride with the Judges. There’s a scene between him and Anderson that I won’t ruin here. Let’s just say it’s a scene that I didn’t expect to see in this film (in fact it was an idea I was planning on writing myself some day) and Harris and Thirlby nailed it.

Dredd and Anderson

As for Urban and Thirlby themselves? Karl Urban (Star Trek, Two Towers, Priest) completely disappears into the role of Dredd. At times his lines are laughable in their Clint Eastwood like depiction, but inexplicably it fits. Judge Dredd isn’t a character, he’s an icon, and that’s why we love him. Olivia Thirlby is charming, beautiful, sympathetic but at the same time challenged, smart, and goes some places that make us not like her. She’s human.

The movie isn’t a masterpiece but it does what it does very well.  It’s up there with The Crow and Terminator 2 in the realm of action films. And if you know me, you’d know that’s saying a lot.

So I am asking you. Yes YOU, the reader! Go out and see it. If you don’t like it, spam me with hate mail. But give it a shot. Now watch the trailer.

 

Rating?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

—Jack Out

 
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Posted by on September 23, 2012 in By Jack, Reviews, entertainment, etc...

 

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Jack reviews Ted — by well…uh…Jack.

But teddy bears are wholesome!!

Should you see Seth MacFarlane’s new comedy Ted about a crude lecherous but lovable teddy bear come to life? Chances are you’ve already decided. If you like Family Guy and all of MacFarlane’s spin offs you’re going to laugh and have a fun time. If you don’t, you won’t like this movie.

Now for a more thorough opinion. I think Seth MacFarlane is funny. He makes jokes about things many of  us are thinking and does so through crude and clever ways. Often times it’s based around pop culture from the 1980’s, but I’m 28 and so works for me. Can he cross the line and rely on stereotype, becoming both tired and offensive? Absolutely. And sometimes it’s obvious his scrips are too short and he resorts to filler. But all in all I’m probably going to laugh when I watch him.

Ha ha…I have so much money now.

Is Seth MacFarlane a talented story teller? Not so much. His plots are vessels for his jokes. And that is very true with Ted.   It doesn’t take a genius to take one look at the poster and guess the plot.  John Bennett (Mark Wahlberg) wished for a living teddy bear as a boy and hot damn it came true. Now an adult, John and Ted are still best buds. Ted (voiced by Seth MacFarlane) is crude but lovable. John’s long time girlfriend Lori (Mila Kunis) thinks he needs to grow up which requires saying goodbye to Ted.  And let’s throw in a crazy guy(Giovanni Ribisi) who wants to kidnap the bear so we can have a chase scene.  Oh and Community’s Joel McHale shows up as the douche bag that wants to bang Mila Kunis. He has one good line.

The question is does the comedy work? For the most part, yes. The opening is hilarious. The humor mostly hits throughout the middle. Occasionally, I was actually sick of the jokes and wanted the damn thing to move forward.  But the ending really sags. It’s both predictable and tiresome.   Ted is essentially Peter Griffin (there’s a crack about this in the film.) When he’s on screen you’re gonna laugh. I’ll hand it to the script for making the girlfriend, Lori, actually likable. She puts up with a lot of John’s crap before she lays down the Ted or me ultimatum.

But my question is why Mark Wahlberg? He’s not very funny. He doesn’t pull off the every man particularly well. There’s this feeling of “I’m love this walking teddy bear, I do this infantile shit, and I’m obsessed with Flash Gordon because the script tells me to.” I just don’t buy him. The character of John (not Wahlberg’s fault) fucks up his life so many times, it’s pretty hard to stay with him by the end.

All in all I mostly had a smile on my face. $13 bucks to see it in the theater? I didn’t smile that much. It probably be better to wait for the DVD, get drunk or stoned with a group of your friends and pass out before the end.

 

 

 

 

 

 

–Jack Out

 
 

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A Very Harold and Kumar Christmas Review –By Jack

Seasons Greetings all. We’re passed Halloween which in America means all the stores can pretend it’s Christmas for the next 2 months. Rockefeller Center has the tree, the ice rink is being put together, and the subways are plastered with ads for Christmas movies.  Starting off the Christmas movie season early is A Very Harold and Kumar 3D Christmas. Below is  the red band trailer.

Harold and Kumar have always held a special place in my heart. When I first saw Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle. I laughed. I laughed hard. When I go to movies, I don’t really laugh. I chuckle. I smile. I’ll like the jokes. But I don’t uproariously laugh. For H&K GT WK I did.  And I wasn’t even high.

White Castle had a lot going for it.  It was always willing to make a joke that perhaps we’d seen before then move the joke to the next level. Like when Kumar sees a giant bag of weed which has a fantasy about marrying. Sure, funny-ish joke. You see them dancing, getting their pictures taken, etc. But then the joke keeps going. Kumar is stressed doing work late into the night and the bag of weed, dressed in a bathrobe brings him coffee. Kumar spits the coffee out and yells at his wife and calls her a bitch. Cut to a scene of him apologizing. The idea that in Kumar’s love fantasy, it would go as far as the bad parts of marriage is just hilarious to me.

White Castle  also had very clever racial humor that spoke to the prejudices of society. Often the jokes would go that extra step like the example above.  The sequel Harold and Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay wasn’t nearly as clever. Daily Show alum Rob Corddry played a racist Homeland Security agent hunting the duo down. Most of the racial humor was from him and was flat and disappointing. Save one college flashback scene the movie never live up to its predecessor.

So where does that leave Harold and Kumar’s third outing? To cut to the chase. Better than the 2nd film. Not as good as the first.  The set up is a bit more interesting than Guantanamo Bay. From the first movie to the second, there is no time jump. The movie literally picks up where the first one left off.

Between the second movie and this one, it’s been 4 years. Harold and Kumar have grown up (or at least Harold has) and the duo has had a falling out. The catching up with the characters is interesting and a lot of fun. Harold is a wall street banker and has married Maria. They have a house in the suburbs and Harold is trying to impress her father (played by Danny Trejo of Machette.)

  

Harold's gotta impress this guy.

Kumar’s life has collapsed and his girl friend Vanessa has dumped him. A mysterious package addressed to Harold shows up on Kumar’s doorstep, bringing the two back together. When Kumar accidentally burns down Maria’s father’s personally grown Christmas tree, the new adventure ensues.

What works?

  • The clever humor is back. There is a hilarious scene with two black guys who switch off being the “crazy black guy.” Also the “getting older” humor works two. H & K find themselves surrounded by teenagers at a house party. A beer pong  challenge and a hilarious Karate Kid joke really has fun with the generational shift.
  • Neil Patrick Harris is a show stealer. Since the 2nd film NPH has come out of the closet. The movie does a hilarious job of rectifying the homosexuality so it works perfectly with the character.
  •  I honestly felt satisfied with the development of the characters and friendship. I’m actually glad they did some sort of emotional journey between the two of them.

What doesn’t work? Plenty.

  •  My biggest complaint is that the film itself doesn’t feel as epic as the other two. The first two movies feel like exhausting journeys. Almost Odysseys. This film feels very truncated. It may be because there is so much set up with the 4 year time jump. Also, Kumar’s conflict with Vanessa seems abrupt as well.
  • The side kicks. Both Harold and Kumar have new best friends. Harold has Todd (played by Thomas Lennon) a straight edged, boring, suburban dad who brings his daughter along on the adventure. His humor comes from his daughter continually but accidentally getting high from random narcotics.  Meanwhile, Kumar has Adrian (played by Collegehumor.com‘s Amir Blumenfeld.) As hilarious as I find Amir on collegehumor, he just didn’t work in this film. Neither of them do. The movie pretty much shoves them in a closet for half the film, which is pretty boring.
  • Wafflebot. Halfway through the film they introduce a waffle making robot/toy which Kumar finds endearing. But the design, execution, and integration of the walking trashcan is tiresome. It’s supposed to be  love able, but instead it weigh moments down. Imagine C3p0. Now make him move about about a 1/4 the speed. Replace that charming “beep-boop” sounds with a digitized whinny Jewish grandmother, and you have Wafflebot.
  • The 3D. The movie itself makes fun of the fact that no one cares about 3D. So why make this movie only available in 3D driving up the price of admission to $17?  There are some fun action sequences, but this movie didn’t need it. It’s about the dialogue and the jokes. There was one fun claymation scene (brought on by an acid trip) but the 3D added nothing to it. The hard core fans will pay the 17 bucks, but that’s about it. Way to kill your box office?
Ultimately, I do recommend the film. Kal Penn and John Cho always work well together and it’s a shame they rarely get as much screen time as they do in these films. If you’ve got the money to spend go for it. But if you need to wait for Netflix/Redbox, so be it. The cinematic 3D does add to the experience, just not the extra $7 worth.
Rating?
–Jack out.
 
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Posted by on November 10, 2011 in By Jack, Reviews, entertainment, etc...

 

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