Friday, January 25, 2013

REVIEW: "Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters" 3D

Review: "Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters" 3D (2013)
This review contains no spoilers.

Directed by: Tommy Wirkola
Starring: Jeremy Renner and Gemma Aterton
Official movie website and trailer 

I wasn't sure what to expect when I went to see "Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters" in 3D, but what I got was "Buffy: the Vampire Slayer" meets "Once Upon a Time" and "Snow White and the Huntsman" (SWATH). This movie adequately capitalizes on the interest in re-made fairy tales and legendary lore.

Is There Incest? No. Thank goodness. There's romance, but no incest, and that's all you're getting out of me in terms of plot. Besides, you'll have the entire movie plot figured out within the first ten minutes.

Go for the Renner, stay for the explosions.

It's Rated R. Seriously. Being an adult, I don't really pay attention to mainstream movie ratings, so I just kind of assumed that "H&G" was PG-13. I thought it would be done in the style of "SWATH," a fresh re-telling of a traditional story. While it was that, it was definitely darker and more adult.

The characters use the F word when appropriate and the violence and gore are gratuitous. Unfortunately, the filmmakers didn't take advantage of the R rating when it came to a sex scene. Needless to say, Renner fangirls everywhere will be disappointed, but at least he appears shirtless, so there are arms.

Not Too Serious... Like "Buffy," this movie is entertaining and engaging without taking itself too seriously. The witch nemeses are presented in full-out attire and embellishment. This movie isn't in a half-fantasy world - it goes full-scale when it comes to the fantastic.

Aesthetic. This film blended medieval fantasy and steampunk attire and weapons. I wish more movies did that. It made it different from "SWATH," which is an obvious comparison since Renner's "The Avengers" co-star Chris Hemsworth plays the Huntsman in that film.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013


FACE OFF: Thor (2011)

Directed by: Kenneth Branagh
Distributed by: Marvel Entertainment
Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, Anthony Hopkins, Tom Hiddleston
Official movie website | Trailer 

Critic: Jason

Full disclosure, I do actually like this movie. Just not nearly as much as Tara. It is hard for her to go a single day without mentioning the Thor. It is kinda like a little kid with Pokemon, its all Squitle this and Pikachu that. If Tara was ever weaponized as a drinking game we would all be dead from alcohol poisoning. I do have some problems with the movie though.

Let me paint a picture, a blonde man wearing tight jeans gets out of an expensive car and pushes around a nerd. Did you hope that everything turns out well for Mr. Blonde? If so you just got behind every 80s movie villain that wanted to close your rec center.

That's right, Thor is an 80s cheese ball movie villain. He starts out the movie as an arrogant man-child who throws temper tantrums when he can't get his way. After three of the Jotunheites break into the armory, Thor wants to destroy their world. Punish a whole world for the actions of three Jotdidians. Never mind Mr. Blonde, he is looking pretty nice. I mean what is one rec center vs. a whole freaking world of Sons of Jotenheim. Yeah Loki makes a better try, he is a better character after all, but he is the freaking villain. He is supposed to do this stuff.

How about the Warriors Three? How the hell is Errol Flynn and a Ninja Scandinavian? Seriously, and how about the armor. It looks like it was designed by Tony Stark as failed Iron Man prototypes. Could they have gone more space aged with the design? Why not have them be in space suits investigating Uranus, because it felt like they were investigating Myanus. Also Thor's accent, could it be more wrong? Seriously how is that Scandinavian at all. It sounds more like the people the Scandinavians raided and pillaged instead. Plus the beard is a disgrace.

Loki is actually better.

Loki character has way more depth. Poor Loki finds out he adopted and thinks that is why Odin picks his man-child brother to be king of space town over him and his superior handsomeness. (Loki fans, AMIRITE?!) So what does Loki do? Outsmarts them all and gets very close to being the space king. That why Thor went on to be a Huntsman having to kiss Stewart and Loki went on to be in "War Horse."

You wanted Science?

Jane should have died or at least been horribly maimed twice in the Destroyer fight. First when the Destroyer destroyed the gas station. It blows up a 7-11 gas station and there is barely a shock wave. A Gas station explosion releases a lot of energy. Simply fire at one and they evacuate a whole block. An explosion would be more damage faster. She was barely a half a block away when it happened. Then she is on top of Thor when the hammer comes back....bringing lighting. A ground shock can have a decent kill radius. Seriously she was better off with V shaving her for the bad English accent.

It isn't the worst Marvel movie; that goes to "Electra."  It's just not a very good one. Thor is just a man-child and Loki doesn't get enough screen time.

Random notes and thoughts:

  • When the town tried to lift Thor's hammer: “Whosoever lifts this hammer from the stone is king of Mine Craft.”
  • When Thor was trying to lift the hammer after the mud fight: “Wow this would make a good beer commercial.”
  • After he fails to lift the hammer: “How did he get so clean when Coulson was talking to him. Did they let him shower and give him a shirt?”
  • When Thor gives Jane the notebook back: “How does Thor know about the Hubble but none of our other technology.”   

Defender: Tara

FIRST POINT: LOOK AT THOR. IF you still need further convincing that this is a worthwhile movie, feel free to read on.

Okay, this is my favorite movie ever. I had to take a day or two to like, not unleash some rage on Jason for hating on my favorite movie and favorite actor. Clearly when he was watching this movie, he wasn't actually looking at how amazing looking Thor actually looks. As Jane says in the movie: "It's a good look."

Thor is a hero - but he doesn't start out that way. That's what makes him appealing. He's not a cheesy 80s villain; he learns to be humble (and human, while he's mortal) and that's the whole point of the movie - that's what makes him worthy. The most romantic part of it is that he clearly recognizes it couldn't have happened without Jane Foster - who, by the way, is a rather kick ass character in her own way.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Review: Blitz

Review: "Blitz" (2011)

Directed by: Elliot Lester
Starring: Jason Statham, Paddy Considine, Aidan Gillen
Official movie website and trailer 

Synopsis: A ruthless killer is targeting cops. It takes an especially dangerous cop to catch the killer.

Reviewer: Jason
Status: Meh.

Jason Statham is actually 'The Most Interesting Man in the World' in the commercials. It took a lot of effort, but he built a time machine and came back to film them. Statham has been a model, Olympic diver, black market merchant, martial artist in multiple forms - and when he gets the time, he's an actor.

That's why I was sad to see "Blitz." Maybe my expectations were too high from movies like the "Transporter" series where Statham did all his own stunts. This movie was relatively boring.

When I watch a movie for this blog I usually have my laptop open or a piece of paper so I can take notes. This time, I only wrote one thing,  "Joker-Purple." The action is few and far in between and the plot was pretty easy to guess.  


The villain Barry Weiss reminded me a lot of The Joker. When we are introduced to him he isn't wearing a shirt and has a purple and blue track suit with toxic green sun glasses. Actually, a lot shots they did were reminiscent of how they shot the Joker in "The Dark Knight." Problem is, that is too lofty of a goal for even the best movie. Aidan Gillen doesn't fall flat as a villain, he is just no Ledger.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

PREVIEW: Jason and Tara Argue About Thor

It's going to be pretty epic. I mean, "Thor" is pretty much my favorite movie ever.

Because, Thor. 

Now, I'm pretty sure Jason likes "Thor," he's just not completely in love with it like I am.

If you get into a discussion with me about this movie or its characters...well, he's a brave man, he is. I can pretty much win an argument about anything in this movie, from the validity of the space-folding Einstein-Rosen Bridge concept, to the length of Jane Foster's eyelashes.

Yes, I will even use math and science against Jason (who actually understands math and science) if it means properly defending this movie.

Bring. It. On.

FACE OFF: Guilty Pleasures

FACE OFF: Guilty Pleasures
"Gossip Girl" vs. "Snooki and Jwoww" - Who Wins?

Jason's Guilty Pleasure: "Gossip Girl"

I heart-o-potamus "Gossip Girl," or as the other fans say "totes luv it!" I have a wing-dang-doodle so I shouldn't like it, but the show is just so damn juicy. In the first episode, Serena comes back and we find out she slept with Nate, her BFF's boyfriend. Dan meets Serena and it is sooo love at first sight but we find out that Dan's dad Rufus and Serena's mom Lily dated while they were younger and they still carry a torch for each other. The show is so amazing that it causes run on sentences!

ZOMG the fashion!  Even the poor characters are put together.

Look at those dresses!  All four of them are AH-MAZING. I could seriously live in their closets. Those two on the right are in little black dresses. Seriously, that is drab for them.

Then There's The Back Stabbing.

Everyone plots against everyone. "Gossip Girl" is like the Roman Senate. I mean like Oh My God every episode there is something new and juicy and it never gets tiresome. I once watched five hours accidentally and had to call out of work.

I am sad the show ended. I still have to catch up on Season 6. I decided to re-watch them and hope that six is on Netflix when I get there.

Tara's Guilty Pleasure: "Snooki and Jwoww"

I can't believe I'm actually saying this, but I actually like "Snooki and Jwoww." I guess I enjoy it because the show depicts what I've seen happening so often in real life: an irresponsible, self-centered person gets pregnant and actually gets her act together.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Review: Neo Ned

Review: "Neo Ned" (2005)

Directed by: Van Fischer
Starring: Jeremy Renner and Gabrielle Union
Official movie website and trailer 

Synopsis: A Neo-Nazi meets a black woman who thinks she's Hitler. Romance blossoms, revenge may happen.

Reviewer: Tara
Status: Recommended

Watched it for Renner, stayed for the story.

I'm always hesitant to really pass judgment on movies when I can't actually figure out how I feel about them. This is one of a select few films that made me a little uncomfortable for one reason or another - but this one I ended up really liking after watching it a second time. I found out about this gem thanks to my friend Jo, who adores actor Jeremy Renner in all of his "Avengers" glory and beyond.

Jeremy Renner in "Neo Ned."
Acting Talent and Characterization
I'm not sure what it is about Renner that makes me believe he could just turn around and methodically kill someone, but that's kind of a thing for him. He pulls it off really well in just about every movie, including this one. Throughout the whole movie, I kept wondering when he'd snap.

Similarly, Gabrielle Union offers an unflinchingly believable performance. It took me a while to wrap my head around the fact that she's playing a (black) mental patient who considers herself the reincarnation of Hitler, but once I accepted it, I started to note the quirky comparability of the characters.

Neither of them make sense, individually or together, but they make sense to each other in a world otherwise meaningless to them.

Let's also not forget that Cary Elwes makes an appearance in this film as Dr. Magnuson.

So Why Is Ned Neo?
Ned hangs out with his dad in jail. Clearly, his father was the best example for him throughout his life and he wants to make a connection with his family.This is why Ned chose the Neo-Nazi lifestyle. It's shocking enough to be interesting; relatable enough to be emotionally confusing for the viewer.

The movie, of course, is actually about finding family - whether it's someone who will just be weird with you or actually tracking down your family, as Rachael wishes to do. Ned wants to help her accomplish all of this.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Face Off: Lord of the Rings Trilogy

FACE OFF: Lord of the Rings Trilogy

Directed by: Peter Jackson
Distributed by: New Line Cinema
Starring: Viggo Mortensen, Liv Tyler, Elijah Wood. Full cast list at IMDB.
Official movie website | Trailer 

Critic: Jason

Nine hours I will never get back: Lord of the Rings.

I will start out by saying by stating two things. I liked "Fellowship of the Ring," and I have not read the books.

There is a reason people say “Ohhh you watched that movie? The book was SO MUCH BETTER!” A writer isn't charged every time they use the word “The”, But every minute on the silver screen cost money. This means that the nine hours we got was majorly cut down.

Well that caused a lot of problems for us illiterates out there, I watched Gandalf die just to come back as Gandalf the White with NO EXPLANATION. Worst part was no one was weirded out. “Oh HAI, WERENTZ YOU DEAD LIKE A MOVE AGO?” “Why yes I was indeed dead, that is why I am now Gandalf the White."  “OTAY THATZ LIKE COOL!” “One more death and I'll be Gandalf the “Egg Shell Cream on a cloudy day."

Then we have Gollum. I thought Frodo was losing his mind because for the most part in the movie Frodo is only one who interacts with Gollum and never asks for help. “Umm hey, there is this creepy guy following us. He with you?” No nothing of the sort. I actually just learned in a trailer for “The Hobbit” that Gollumn wasn't a hallucination over a decade later.

Money Problems.There was only so much budget for the movie. "Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers" split the party up, and they would cut back and forth at bad times. We would get twenty five minutes of Hobbits riding a tree and then they finally get to a battle they would cut to the other party. Then when Aragorn's party would come up on something interesting, they would cut back to Frodo and Sam after the battle. I actually had a hard time staying awake.

Then there is "Return of the King."  “We need like a thousand more warriors to have a chance.” Just so happens that these dead people owe the king a favor? Really. Dead people owe the king a favor and now they just happen to have enough soldiers to defeat the evil force. You know where we have seen that plot arc before? Beach movies with Frankie Avalon. “Oh no, we need $503.27 to pay the taxes on the beach house and there is a surf contest is $503.27!” "Return of the King" doesn't have the camp value to make that work.

Then we have all twenty endings. I kept on getting up thinking, “Oh good the movie is over....nope still more.” After the third or fourth ending I told my ex-gf that I am leaving after the next ending.

Now let's talk about the last ending. Frodo sails off to heaven. Lets think about this for one second, Gods usually hang out in heaven and can over power the strongest mortal. So it stands to reason that if Frodo made a bee line for the afterlife and took the ring then Sauron couldn't get to it. No he has to take it to the ONE volcano in the entire world. Not to Mount “No one lives here” or “Mt. Kitten Whiskers."  No. Mt. Freaking Doom.

So to sum it up, they were horrid movies and people like them because they cost a lot to make. They didn't even have the most important character in the books in them. A Narrator to describe every blade of grass on the screen for us. That would have made the movie better. I know more about Duran Duran's“Rio” because of Pop Up Videos. Maybe Jackson can try that with the hobbit trilogy.   

Defender: Tara 

The entire "Lord of the Rings" trilogy is amazing. We'll just put aside the fact that I'm kind of obsessed with Elves and that Aragorn and Arwen are a serious OTP for me. (That kind of happens every time there is a spark between a mortal and an immortal, kind of like Buffy/Angel and Jane/Thor. But I digress.) I'm going to take this point by point, addressing each bolded section in Jason's case against the trilogy.

I actually saw the movies before I read the books, except for "Return of the King," and I was/am still a huge fan of the movies.

Being an English major, I understood Gandalf's transformation rather easily. Gandalf clearly serves as the guide archetype in LOTR. From the very beginning, he knows that the journey will change Frodo. He sees Frodo (as he had seen Bilbo) as a young and enthusiastic Hobbit. Gandalf will do whatever it takes to ensure the success of the mission, and in fighting the Balrog, he sacrificed as any mentor would do. Following his sacrifice, Gandalf is reborn to the next level; if you notice, there are changes when he returns as Gandalf the White. He truly wears the ultimate responsibilities of an Istar, now.

Gollum's interactions are confusing at first - that's true. But watch the way he skulks about after Frodo. Why is it that Frodo really fears him? Because Gollum is less important as a present character and more important as Frodo's living fear. Frodo isn't as afraid of the creature attacking him as he is of what Gollum represents. Hold on to this ring too long, and this is what will happen to me. Be without it; this is what I may become. And we do see in the end of the movies that Frodo has changed - he has lost so much of his innocence that he has trouble acclimating to life in the Shire once more.

I thought the second movie was a bit slow, and I feel this way about the second movie in many trilogies. The original "Star Wars" trilogy is a fine example, and it's one reason I'm nervous about all of the Marvel Phase 2 movies that are coming out soon. Changing POV (point of view) between different groups helped break the movie up. And while I'm not the biggest fan of the Ents (tree people), they serve a very important element in the story and I'm glad they're in it. The Ents represent:

Topic Face Off: The Bechdel Test

FACE OFF: The Bechdel Test (topic)

Originated by: Alison Bechdel

Introduction: What is the Bechdel Test?

The Bechdel Test is a competency applied to movies, books, graphic novels, and other media. For the purposes of this blog entry, we'll discuss how it applies to movies (since that's what we review).   To pass the test, a movie must a) feature two named female characters who b) have a conversation with each other about c) something other than a man. You can learn more about the Bechdel Test at

Critic: Jason

Tis a silly test.

Tara how is your husband?  (Whew had to fail the test first.) I find it funny that this post is tagged with the word "equality." The Bechdel Test does nothing to promote equality or even find it in media. It even slurs the idea of what a well-rounded character is. When I get together with friends, I don't always talk about women BUT the topic comes up. That is because I am, like the majority, not asexual.

I don't curb these discussions because I am proud of who and what I am. Now I understand that it is bad character development if a character (no matter what the gender) is one-track minded. It is the reason Sam Malone in "Cheers" progressively becomes a pathetic character with each season. We get the joke, he sluts around town and the guys applaud him for it. Also Vince Vaughn; I don't need to say any more.

Princess vs Princess.  

Tara pointed out to me that "Star Wars" movies don't pass even though Leia is a strong, well-rounded character  (The point of the test mind you.)  Leia saves Hon Solo by going under cover at Jabba's. Also, don't forget she took over her own rescue when Luke and Han were saving her and ended up saving them.  That's right the save-ee becomes the saver. Take that, hunter/hunted!

Now lets look at Cher from "Clueless."  Cher is a valley girl in high school and a horrible stereotype. Heck, I am just a cross dresser and I am offended by Cher. She can't earn good grades and must negotiate and barter for them; she can't drive,  she's more worried about her clothes than her own safety when she is being mugged.

Oh, and lets not forget the fact that she judges a book by its cover when she tells her friend not to date a skater. In fact, her one redeeming quality is the fact she doesn't disown Christian when she finds out he is gay. So clearly this movie can't pass the Bechdel Test.  Oh wait, it did. The first female-to-female conversation is about Dionne's wardrobe and funny hat. Not being sure if it actually did pass the test, I checked it out of and sure enough, it does count.

So if I had to pick a role model for my fictitious daughter Ada,  I would rather want her to be Leia.

This is because it is a meaningless test; it doesn't gauge if a character has meaning, just if her first conversation wasn't about a boy and IF it was the first female-to-female conversation.  Also, as long as we worry about things like this then we really won't have equality.

Defender: Tara 

Tis a noble test!

When movies more often than not fail to actually depict two named female characters talking to each other about anything other than a guy, it's a problem. End of story. That's not how real life works, and if my fictitious daughter (we'll call her 'Anne Shirley') was watching movies, I'd want her to see something other than portrayals of women talking about guys and nothing else.

Additionally, the Bechdel Test is a valuable tool for producers and film companies. Let's say a company like Marvel Entertainment wants to diversify their audience. How do they do it? They make a movie - like "Thor" (2011). "Thor" is a movie focused on a guy with an ego problem, but it still manages to pass the Bechdel Test within the first ten minutes. By the time the character of Thor came back in "The Avengers," the ensemble Marvel movie made it onto the top five grossing movies of all time - boasting a 40% female demographic for viewership. (I'm okay with that. Here, Marvel, take all my money. Just have it.)

Face Off: Rubber

FACE OFF: "Rubber" (2010)

Directed by: Quentin Dupieux
Starring: Stephen Spinella, Jack Plotnick
Official movie website and trailer 

Synopsis: "Rubber" is a movie that follows a tire (yes, a rubber tire) on adventures. The tire makes things explode. People gather in the desert to watch him. A cop pursues him.

Critic: Tara

"Rubber." Well, at least it wasn't a movie about condoms. It may as well have been, though. I will never get that hour and a half of my life back. Had this film been ten minutes long, it would have been endearing. Unfortunately, it was made as a full-length movie.

The film satirized everything at once, so I couldn't really tell if it was satirizing its own artistic cinematography, but the shots in the film were actually done masterfully. Another thing I liked about the movie was the soundtrack. There are only so many ways that the character of Robert the Tire can express himself, but the carefree music that accompanies his initial journey is amusing and expressive. Additionally, the acting talent are competent, which is interesting consider they interact with a tire.

The tone of this movie is summed up in one line by the character identified only as "black woman" when she says: "She'll start with a good blow job." Yes, the bad tire puns are endless.

Also, this kid in the movie says "It's already boring." It's good when the characters are actually aware that the movie in which they appear is making the audience fall asleep.

I don't consider a movie entirely valuable unless it helps me reflect about culture, country, or self. At the very least, it should make me laugh. This just made me groan and pine for that hour and a half. I should have read a book instead. Lesson learned.

This just left me wanting to slash a tire.

Defender: Jason

I am really watching this movie so I can make Tara watch it. Why? Really for no reason. "Rubber" is a forth wall shattering movie about a tire that comes to life and makes things explode. I feel the need to retype that. "Rubber" is a fourth wall breaking movie about a tire that comes to life and makes things explode. Yes, I retyped it, no copy paste here.

 "Rubber" explores the how we accept so many things in movies just so we can watch. I can actually think of an example of a movie that this happened to me. "Spider-Man." There was a moment where I honestly thought, “Holy Crap, Tobey Maguire is really good at swinging on those webs high above the city.”