This week has a lot in the way of older movies presented in new and different ways, but not a lot of brand new action films. Still, there’s some pretty interesting offerings, so let’s jump in.
The biggest new release in our arena is the disaster comedy This Is The End which finds hyper-real versions of Seth Rogen, Jay Baruchel, Craig Robinson, Danny McBride, James Franco and Jonah Hill surviving the apocalypse.
John Cusack has been kind of slowly turning into Nicholas Cage over the past few years (see: The Raven), so it only makes sense that they’d appear in a movie together. In the thriller The Frozen Ground, Cusack’s a serial killer and Cage is trying to stop him. What more do you need to know?
Jean-Claude Van Damme fans will be happy to discover that two of his films are making their way to Blu-ray on the same set. Thanks to the Jean-Claude Van Damme Double Feature: The Order / Nowhere to Run you can watch both movies back to back without getting up from the couch.
We here at Explosions Are Rad hadn’t heard of the Chinese crime thriller Cold War before seeing it on Amazon this morning. But after seeing the trailer above, it’s certainly one we’re going to check out.
A pair of very different director’s cuts made their debut this week. Troy Duffy’s cut of The Boondock Saints II: All Saints Day and Luc Besson’s The Extraordinary Adventures of Adele Blanc-Sec [Director’s Cut] now offer their more complete visions for their films.
1997 was a big year for fire-coming-out-of-the-ground movies. You had your Dante’s Peak and your Volcano. Whose side were you on? Well, either way, the Tommy Lee Jones starring Volcano is now available on Blu-ray.
We’ve only seen a handful of episodes of the current Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles show on Nickelodoen, but it’s pretty darn cool. We’re thinking of catching up more with the latest DVD release Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Ultimate Showdown.
If you’re looking to relive Tom Selleck’s 80s hey day all in one convenient box set then Magnum P.I.: The Complete Series might be right up your alley. The series lasted from 1980-1988 and consists of 42 discs.
Finally, Phineas and Ferb: Mission Marvel was pretty hilarious and you should watch it.
Jose Padilha’s RoboCop remake has been the topic of much conversation going back to the day it was announced. For many, the original 1987 Paul Verhoeven action/satire starring Peter Weller and Nancy Allen is a true classic that should remain untouched. Of course, the sequels might have tarnished some of that idea, but that never stops Hollywood from trying to transform previous successes into current ones.
There have been all kinds of rumors swirling around this film, about Padilha reportedly not being happy with the film and whatnot. Whether any of that is true or not, it looks like Sony’s ready to start the big PR push for the film. The studio just released the first trailer for the film as well as a group of images originally posted on Hero Complex featuring stars Joel Kinnaman, Abbie Cornish, Samuel L. Jackson, Gary Oldman, Jay Baruchel, Jackie Earle Haley and Michael Keaton.
RoboCop is poised to hit theaters on February 7th.
I’m not one of those dudes who had their lives changed by Almost Famous. I was friends with some of those guys in high school and in fact saw this movie over at one of their houses in high school. One friend fell in love with Kate Hudson after seeing the flick and another would incessantly sing Stillwater’s “Fever Dog.” Both were in my band. I dug the movie when I saw it, but it didn’t become a favorite.
If you’re somehow unfamiliar with the movie, it’s basically Cameron Crowe’s fictionalized memoir of touring with various bands in the 70s, but centered around a young kid named William and the fictional band Stillwater. The high schooler gets the attention of Rolling Stone who sends him on tour with the band who he becomes friends with even though his mentor Lester Bangs (Philip Seymour Hoffman) warns him against it and also falls for groupie–sorry “Band Aid”–Penny Lane, played by Hudson. It’s basically the story of a kid learning to go from fan to pro in an industry that’s showing him all its warts, no matter how much they wound him.
I actually had more fun spotting the supporting actors in the flick than watching it. I think that’s because I’ve seen and even lived this story a bit myself. Having been a comic book fan who worked in the thick of the comic book world at Wizard, I can really relate to what William goes through (minus the groupies) but comparing a film, even a great one, to my real life, the film’s not going to hold up. I get that it’s great and I love all the rock and roll stuff, because I’m a huge fan of music from that era, but it just doesn’t vibrate inside of me like it might have when I was younger.
Anyway, back to that star watching, here’s the ones I saw. You’ve got Jimmy Fallon playing the manager’s manager. I can’t remember if I knew who he was when the movie first played. The gone-too-soon Mitch Hedberg sits in on a manager poker game! Anna Paquin and Fairuza Balk (The Craft) play groupies. Jay Baruchel is a Led Zeppelin super-fan and even Nick Swardson has a moment as a wild David Bowie fan. Heck even Modern Family‘s Eric Stonestreet pops up as a hotel worker. I’m sure there’s plenty I missed. Plus, of course, one of my favorites Jason Lee plays an important part. It’s funny how similar the character is to Banky from Chasing Amy, but the guy they got to play the singing voice sounds embarrassingly like someone else. Oh, this was also the first movie I saw Zooey Deschanel in and didn’t even realize it!
I think had I bought the movie after I saw it and gave it a few more spins, I would have a lot closer relationship to it, but as it stands, I can appreciate it without falling in love with it. Though, I do adore the “Tiny Dancer” bit. Moments like that in real life are amazing and should be enjoyed both in the moment and later in life. I have incredibly fond ones of singing songs with my buddies back home and even the other week when the missus and I wound up singing “Summer Loving” from Grease, even though she had to sing most of the dude parts because I only know about half the words.
Nic Cage is one of those actors that I like only in certain roles, basically ones that embrace his craziness and don’t try to bury it under subtext. The two National Treasure movies are big favorites of the missus and I because Cage gets to be just crazy enough and the stories are a lot of fun. Sure, they’re sometimes over the top and might not make logical sense, but who cares? Not every movie needs to change the way you see the world, some just need to entertain. It just so happens that Jon Turtletaub directed both NT movies as well as The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, the movie based on the segment of Disney’s Fantasia of the same name with all the mops and brooms and water. Like most, I was skeptical at first, but once I realized who was directing, I figured it would be a good watch. Plus, I dig Jay Baruchel and his nebbishy shtick.
The missus got sent home from work today because of yet another snow storm that doesn’t seem to be stopping anytime soon and we happened to get this flick from Netflix yesterday, so the timing was perfect. And, thankfully, the movie was a lot of fun. Neither of us liked it quite as much as the National Treasure movies, but it was a fun watch about a 20-something kid discovering he’s got a magical destiny to help Cage (a sorcerer) keep Morgan La Fey entrapped even with Alfred Molina and his Criss Angel-like sidekick trying to help her. Of course, there’s also a girl who Baruchel is trying to impress which gets in the way of his training and there’s a moment where it seems like one of the good guys is going to die, but SPOILER everything works out pretty well in the end.
An aspect of the movie that I found really interesting that has the potnetial to get explored in a sequel if one is in the works is the idea that sorcerers can do magic because they can use 100% of their brains. This allows them to control atoms. As it turns out Baruchel’s character is a physicist, so it would stand to reason, now that he’s not a novice anymore, he might have a different take on magic that could be revolutionary. If there is a sequel, I’d like to see that explored, plus a much bigger final battle. The one in this movie would have actually made for a pretty interesting beginning to a movie with all these dead sorcerers rising from the dead and our heroes having to fight them, but that’s not what this story was about. Maybe next time! Theme-wise it’s not the most original movie in the world, but a solid combination of great special effects and fun actors doing their thing made this a pretty enjoyable watch.
She’s Out Of My League is an uneven, somewhat familiar, not always well-paced movie that plays with and yet also follows romantic comedy tropes, but I’ll tell you what, I laughed HARD throughout the movie. As you can probably tell by any amount of previews, commercials or posters, the plot follows Jay Baruchel’s geeky Kirk as he begins a relationship with the super hot Alice Eve’s Molly. Like all movies of this type, Kirk talks to his friends (who work with him at the airport) who try to encourage him and also warn him that she’s too hot and will dump him. As you might expect, Kirk’s insecurities lead him to screw things up with Molly, but they get back together by the end of the movie thanks to a chase through an airport.
But even with all that, I dug this movie. I’m a fan of Baruchel’s twitchy acting style and love how well he can do wide-eyed wonder (like when Molly takes him to a hockey game and the players know her). Eve does well, though I wish she would have just been able to talk with her British accent. I would imagine hot British people make their way to Pittsburgh occasionally. Kirk’s friends are also pretty hilarious, especially Nate Torrence as Devon who loves Aladdin, love and even helps Kirk with some manscaping that had me laughing my ass off. There’s also Jack, who doesn’t seem very important in the beginning and comes back later with some good advice (hence the uneven comment above) and Stainer who had me rolling, but also seemed a little too much like a combination of John Heder and Seth Rogen.
A few other favorite scenes include Stainer giving a bowler some shit for getting uptight when Kirk accidentally goes to bowl at the same time as him, Patty’s profanity laden one-liners (which are funny but make her a little one dimensional) and the fact that Stainer is in a Hall and Oats cover band (though that had whispers of Saving Silverman, hence the familiar comment above). Oh, also, I didn’t think of it when the male characters were first introduced as airport employees, but it made sense by the end when Kirk’s about to leave and Molly comes back and they need to get him off the plane. This is literally the only way this scene could play out anymore and I thought it was clever that the writers worked the film out around that and made it believable.
So, no, it’s not a perfect movie and you won’t be blown away by it’s originality, but She’s Out Of My League was a great way to spend an hour and forty minutes and had me laughing more times than not, so it was worth the watch in my mind. It’s not as good as some of the Apatow movies or the Frat Pack flicks, but it was worth the rental on Netflix.
I’m Reed Fish is another Netflix instant movie I added based only on the cast. The cover they show on the site (not this poster) just has Jay Baruchel and Alexis Bledel. Good enough for me. Turns out it also has DJ Qualls, Schuyler Fisk, Karey Sagal and Chris Parnell. It ended up being a pretty charming little movie about a guy (Baruchel) dealing with being a pretty big deal in a pretty small time thanks to the influence his now-dead father had. He’s about to get married to Bledel when all of a sudden his former classmate and smalltown girl who made good Fisk shows up and starts making him wonder about what life could have been. That’s how I read it at least, the movie’s good enough to not just bash you over the head with everything. Soon enough things are falling apart and Reed’s job as the literal voice of reason on the local radio station turns out to be a way for the entire town to give him shit. The performances are all spot on and guys like Qualls and Parnell who have a tendency to overact sometimes or be too big, fit right in with the small town world.
Let’s call this SPOILER territory. The movie has a twist that’s revealed about 20-30 minutes in and that is that the movie you’re watching is actually a movie written and directed by Baruchell’s Reed Fish. A technical problem freezes the movie and we see many of the townsfolk from the movie in the audience, so you’re supposed to infer that many of them played themselves, though he did get other people to play the women in his life. We see him run into one of those women, though we’re not sure which one it is as he apologizes for putting their story up on screen right before the glich is fixed. So not only are you wondering what happens to Fish by the end of the movie within a movie, but you’re also wondering which girl he was talking to. Very interesting. Adding to the meta-ness of the whole thing, the writing credit went to Reed Fish. Huh? I should probably do some research, but I’m just going to bask in the enjoyment I had for this little movie. Definitely recommended.
Before I start getting my post-Wizard World Philly post together (here’s a preview, Skeletor karaoke) together I just wanted to say a few words on Fanboys, which Em and I just finished watching. Maybe it’s because I just experienced fanboy-ness to the extreme this weekend and my inner fanboy was all over the place, but I REALLY liked this movie.
The story’s about four (eventually five) lifelong Star Wars fans in 1999 who are anxiously waiting for Episode I to hit theaters, but the problem is that one of the guys has cancer and they don’t think he’ll last the six months until the premiere. So, they go on a road trip to break into Skywalker Ranch to watch a rough cut of the movie before it opens. Of course there are plenty of hijinks along the way and TONS of guest appearances and geek injokes. There was a lot of trouble getting this movie into theaters because the powers that be weren’t sure whether they wanted to keep the cancer plot in the movie. Well, I was excited about this flick since I first heard about it and can’t imagine how bad it would be without that element behind the plot. It really is the heart of the movie and I’ll be honest, the end got to me. Even more so than Darth killing the Emperor. Now, you know that’s serious.
I was worried that I wouldn’t like the movie because the guys on the Totally Rad Show didn’t like it very much. Our tastes don’t match up perfectly, but I do respect their opinions and ours match up a good deal of the time. I think the wait hurt the movie and it really is kind of a big injoke, so I can see why your big audiences wouldn’t have wanted to check it out. Em’s seen all the Star Wars movies, but she’s nowhere near the geek I am, so she didn’t necessarily pick up on all the things I did, but she still dug it. If you haven’t seen Star Wars, it’s probably not the best flick for you. It’s kind of like how you might be able to enjoy Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, unless you’ve seen all of Kevin Smith’s movies a bunch of time. By the way, Kevin Smith makes a cameo I didn’t know about that had my laughing like crazy. But, in the end, I really liked it and recommend it to all my Star Wars brethren. Plus, it makes fun of Trekkies, so that’s cool.