Welcome to the Punch

Welcome to the Punch (R) - Runtime: 99 minutes
Starring: James McAvoy, Marc Strong
Director: Eran Creevy
Writer: Eran Creevy

I love James McAvoy and Marc Strong. I feel like they don't get enough love out there. C'mon people, just love 'em! So here we have a small-time movie with these two awesome dudes and I couldn't not watch it. Even though the writer/director has only one other credit to his name, a movie called $hifty which I remember seeing on the shelves at Blockbuster, but thinking "I refuse to acknowledge this film because they replaced the letter S with a dollar sign. Just like I refuse to acknowlege Ke-dollar sign-ha as a real person." And you know what, it's pretty good! Not going to win any awards, but it's a solid crime/cop drama.

James McAvoy plays Max, a cop who gets burned by some thugs who just stole a bunch of money. Marc Strong, on of the criminals named Jacob, has a chance to just end his misery after knocking him on the ground, but chooses instead to just shoot him the leg. Because you know what? Marc Strong is a good guy, deep down. And after a few years in hiding, Jacob gets a call that his son is in the hospital after getting shot. Max obviously sees this as an opportunity to finally get some justice and prove to everyone he's a good cop. Typical stuff and there's obviously a conspiracy at play and lots of double crossings. It's all quite fun, really.

The performances are great and McAvoy and Strong work well together. I really enjoyed the side plot with Max's girlfriend/partner and things get real when she gets involved in his revenge fantasy. The film is beautiful too - there's this cool blue tone throughout the movie and most of it takes place at night, which I think added to the tone of the film - it's a lot like a film noir in that respect.

Good acting, good directing and a decent story. And it doesn't overstay its welcome (ha! pun intended, folks!) and you'll enjoy yourself immensely.

Rating: Rent It!

The Call

The Call (R) - Runtime: 94 minutes
Starring: Halle Berry, Abigail Breslin
Director: Brad Anderson
Writer: Richard D'Ovidio

After hearing so much praise about this movie, which to me, looked atrocious, I had to pick this one up. I was skeptical - the trailer for this movie had a callback from earlier in the trailer (about 60 seconds), like somehow we would forget what we saw or that the audience is too stupid to pick up the clue. And while I did enjoy most of the movie, the ending was so terrible that it negated the rest of the movie for me.

Halle Berry is a veteran 911 operator who gets too involved in a call when she accidentally alerts the killer that the girl she was on the phone with is still in the house. A few days later her body is found and she loses all her shit and is forced into just training the poor, naive saps who are willing to answer these desperate calls for help. But when push comes to shove, she helps out the killer's next victim, who's been kidnapped and put in the trunk of a car.

I enjoyed the movie - it's really just a glorified version of Criminal Minds or Law and Order pretty much - which isn't a bad thing, it's just that The Call won't blow your mind or make you think you're seeing something special. Halle Berry does a good job being bat-shit crazy - she seems on the verge of a panic attack or actually in one throughout the movie and her hair, I feel, represents this craziness metaphorically.

The movie moves briskly and the ending comes along before you know it. SPOILER: The ending is either the most brilliant ending or the most head shaking. I choose the latter. Because Halle Berry figures out where the killer is after the police have gone and left. Now I can buy the fact that they searched the cabin and found nothing, but you don't think they would have done some more digging around and found out that there's a nuclear bunker on the premises? Whatever, that's not the problem here. The problem is that Halle Berry finds the dude out, knocks him unconscious and rescues the girl. Call the police and end credits, right? NOPE. They FUCKING LEAVE THE DUDE CHAINED UP IN THE BUNKER. You don't think he's going to somehow get out? Yeah, those chains look pretty tight y'all, but he probably has A LOT of time on his hands to figure out a way to get out. He has killing tools that might be handy enough to get him out. Plus just the fact that the movie doesn't deal with the consequences of this action pisses me off. You don't think Halle Berry isn't going to lose sleep wondering if the dude's alive or not? Or that she circumvented the law and brought forth her own justice? What about the kid? They're always going to be looking over their shoulder. Now here's where I think there's a small chance this could be brilliant. If they make a sequel where Halle Berry has to deal with these consequences when the serial killer gets out (and you know he will) or if they turned the tables and Halle Berry (I can't just say her first or last name, it has to be together) becomes like, Dexter and they make a TV show or something where she gets tips from the 911 calls and starts to kill off all these bad guys. That would make sense. But my judgement, from just this movie alone, is that it sucks. It sucks so so hard. END OF SPOILERS.

I'd recommend this movie, simply because it was fun to watch and I think most people won't mind the ending like I did. It's really just a nicer, more polished version of any number of TV procedurals like Law and Order. Plus you can make fun of Halle Berry's hair throughout. It's fun, trust me.

Rating: Rent It!


2013's Most Anticipated: Jack the Giant Slayer

46. Jack the Giant Slayer (PG-13) - Runtime: 114 minutes
Starring: Nicholas Hoult, Ewan McGregor, Stanley Tucci
Director: Bryan Singer
Writer: Darren Lemke, Christopher McQuarrie, Dan Studney

I've been enjoying these fairy tale remakes. It's cool to see a different take on some of these well-known stories. But half the time they just end up being boring or too focused on looking cool and having cool, CGI-laden action scenes, when they should spend more time on the characters. Bryan Singer may have bitten of more than he could chew with Jack the Giant Slayer.

The movie opens up with a history of the giants and the humans and how the humans banished the giants back to their kingdom way up in the air. In the present day, Jack believes these stories to be true and accepts some magic beans from a monk. You know the rest of the story - the beanstalk grows and takes the princess with it. So it's up to Jack and the king's men to rescue the princess. Meanwhile a crazy lord is hell bent on controlling the giants with a magical crown infused with the blood of the giants. Yeah, it's not the greatest of plots.

The biggest problem with the movie is that it's too by-the-book. It doesn't stray too far away from the original story and it just is, well, boring. There's not enough fantastical whimsy - the movie seems to care too much about following the original story that to try and be daring by taking a perspective from the giants' point of view or even trying to show a massive war. Instead, Jack does his usual hiding and eluding the giants to rescue the princess and then the movie spends the last 30 minutes showing the humans desperately defending their city to no avail.

I couldn't care anything about anyone in this movie. It's just too dull. I think the movie loves showing off the giants throwing uprooted trees at people and seeing the giant beanstalk grow and then demolish things as it falls down. This movie loves its visual effects, but it's not enough to save it. And the acting is just ho-hum. Even my rule of Stanley Tucci - who makes every movie better when he's in it - gets questioned. He plays the villain, but his character is just a generic villain with barely any motivation that even Tucci couldn't save the role.

And the ending is so mind-blowingly insane that it encapsulates the whole idea of the movie - why even bother? SPOILER: at the end they show the magical crown that controls the giants actually being the crown in a museum in modern day London. SO IT WAS REAL ALL ALONG - THIS IS NOT A FAIRY TALE BUT A TELLING TALE OF HUMAN HISTORY! I don't know what the hell kind of point that makes - just that it doesn't make sense at all. It's all really pointless and terrible to be honest and I really hope Bryan Singer gets his shit together for the new X-Men movie, because this is not what I need.

Rating: Not Worth Paying For!

2013's Most Anticipated: The Heat

44. The Heat (R) - Runtime: 117 minutes
Starring: Sandra Bullock, Melissa McCarthy
Director: Paul Feig
Writer: Katie Dippold

I really like buddy cop movies. Hot Fuzz is one of my favorites, but I've enjoyed The Other Guys, Lethal Weapon, Bad Boys - they're all great. What's great about these movies is they blend action and comedy together so effortlessly. And with The Heat, it manages to bring a healthy amount of jokes, but as far as action and pacing goes, it's lacking.

I honestly don't remember too much from the plot, just that Sandra Bullock plays an uptight bitch and brown nosing FBI agent who is hated by all of her colleagues. McCarthy is the complete opposite (duh) - a cop who doesn't follow the rulebook and is constantly questioning and ridiculing her superiors. Their pairing - to take down a drug lord - works well. McCarthy has a lot of great lines and Bullock plays the pantsuit-loving agent to a T.

It's just...well, there's something lacking in this movie. I can't quite put my finger on it, but it just didn't hit the right notes. There wasn't a whole lot of physical comedy in the movie, but it seemed like it needed more. And as far as the plot goes, it could have been better. I just didn't really care all that much about what was going to happen - which is bad. In this kind of movie you need to be invested not only in the characters, but the plot.

There's a few wasted scenes, too. When the two cops bust into a prostitute's apartment to question her, all of the jokes fell flat. It just wasn't funny and seemed like a waste of time. There's a few other scenes like that where the jokes and plot don't really mesh together that well. The characters are really well written and acted, it's just too bad they're wasted during half the movie. While The Heat is a fun movie, it's not going to enter the pantheon of great buddy cop movies. It's worth checking out though, just for the laughs.

Rating: Rent It!

2013's Most Anticipated: Pacific Rim

5. Pacific Rim (PG-13) - Runtime: 131 minutes
Starring: Charlie Hunnam, Idris Elba, Rinko Kikuchi
Director: Guillermo del Toro
Writer: Travis Beacham, Guillermo del Toro

I probably could not explain the level of excitement that has been building up to this movie. There's a reason it was number 5, but it's probably been climbing higher and higher with each passing week. I just love del Toro - he really needs to stop producing stuff and get back to directing as much as possible. He's such a distinct and creative voice in Hollywood and Pacific Rim is just another example of awesome he is.

Pacific Rim from the very beginning, grabs a hold of you and doesn't stop bringing the badassness. There's a five-minute narration by Raleigh (Hunnam) where he talks about the kaiju (giant monsters) invasion and the resulting response from Earth - Jaegers (giant robots). It seems humanity has successfully kept the creatures at bay the past few years but in reality, it's only the beginning of a much larger-scale invasion. The robots are controlled by two individuals connected mentally via science fiction magic. Raleigh is a superstar - but he's been out of commission for the past few years and it's up to him and a rookie to take care of business. It's a typical by-the-books action plot, but that's what we're not here for.

The robots and monsters are what take center stage and boy, is it awesome! I can't stress enough how cool the action is! The choreography and the editing is superb - there's not one instance where I couldn't tell what was happening on screen. There's also this feeling throughout the movie that these robots and monsters are almost too big to fit on the screen and because of the camera work and the digital effects, you get that sense of epicness and gigantic awe.

The acting is superb as well - Hunnam is good (although sometimes his British accent cannot be quelled) and Rinko Kikuchi is superb as the rookie with a chip on her shoulder. Ron Perlman, del Toro's go-to guy, steals every scene he's in and he's just fun to watch.

So not only do you have some great action, but some great acting and a fairly typical plot that doesn't bore you with too many details. There's enough here for the fanboys and casual audiences alike. This is one you need to check out!

Rating: See It!


2013's Most Anticipated: Monsters University

25. Monsters University (PG) - Runtime: 104 minutes
Voiced by: Billy Crystal, John Goodman, Helen Mirren
Director: Dan Scanlon
Writers: Daniel Gerson, Robert L. Baird, Dan Scanlon

I'm not going to spend too much time on this one. What is there to say? It's Pixar - their track record is pretty solid. I even enjoyed Cars 2, their most reviled film to date. And this is only their third franchise to get the sequel treatment and for the most part, they make it worthwhile. I'm not saying Monsters University is bad, it's just not exceptional - which is getting harder and harder for Pixar to out-do themselves every year.

MU takes place before the first movie - as we see both Mike and Sully become the legends that we find them in the first movie. Mike is not a real scare master, but he's smart and gets himself a chance to become a real, professional scarer while Sully gets by on his good looks (I think?!? That's pretty strange - more like his good scares, I guess. I mean, I'm not one to judge a monster on their looks, but if I had to - Sully would be, like, the Rob Lowe of monsters in this little universe) and his famous scare-tastic family name. It's a typical odd-couple story - both Mike and Sully hate each other but then grow to become fast friends and learn important life lessons. Done and done.

The biggest problem is not that I didn't enjoy myself during the movie, but just that I found myself asking was it all really necessary? I mean, the story just seemed so by-the-book and un-extraordinary. If only Pixar had taken the talent and energy to create something entirely new, but instead it just seems, well, rather bland. There's a lot of typical college-type humor and some good monster-related jokes, but overall - I was not completely blown away. Which speaks volumes as to how much Pixar has created a very high standard that something pretty good comes across as blah. It seems at this point Pixar is content with the status quo. Which is fine - I'm just not going to expect much in the way of sequels from them any more.

Monsters University is a good film. It's not raising the bar and it's certainly not lowering it. But will you fall in love with all the other characters in the movie? Probably not, except for maybe Squishy's mom (gotta love a mom who listens to death metal). It's worth seeing but maybe just a rental.

Rating: Rent It!

2013's Most Anticipated: White House Down

37. White House Down (PG-13) - Runtime: 131 minutes
Starring: Channing Tatum, Jamie Foxx
Director: Roland Emmerich
Writer: James Vanderbilt

White House Down is basically Die Hard in the White House. And that's not a dis - this was a fantastic homage to the action classic. In fact, this movie was more Die Hard then the latest Die Hard movie! I don't understand why this movie hasn't gotten any love because it was a perfect summer action pick - it had a good sense of character, some fun humor and some great action as well!

Channing Tatum plays Cale (I was hoping they would spell his name like the leaf, but alas, Emmerich didn't bite on that pun-filled name), an Iraq war veteran who's looking to get into the secret service. On his trip to the White House for the interview, he lets his semi-distant, vlogging daughter come with him on a tour afterwards. Then all hell breaks loose when the White House becomes ground zero for a domestic terrorist takeover. There's no real big plot twists - it's up to Cale (and later him teaming up with the not-so-subtle Obama clone President Sawyer) to take care of business.

This movie is straight up Die Hard all the way - lots of little homages here and there to the original movie (elevator shafts, a Hans-Gruber-esque bad guy) and it's really, really fun to watch. There's enough humor mixed in with all the action and honestly, the I enjoyed watching the different characters have their own moment (the White House tour guide was just enough laughs without getting annoying).

The movie does really hammer home that they want this to be another Die Hard action franchise - I couldn't keep track of how many times they mentioned Cale's name (at least every five minutes). Which is cool with me - I'd love to see Tatum again taking on another all-hell-breaks-loose situation. The other part I thought was pretty clever was the use of different perspectives in the movie. In that the movie will show footage from the news cameras outside tracking the helicopters and cell phone videos recording what's going on. It was nice to show that if this would happen in real life, all eyes would be on the White House for damn sure.

A good action movie that knows its limitations, White House Down is pure fun - there's enough character development to get attached to Cale and his daughter but there's also a hella ton of explosions and crazy limosuine chase scenes and helicopters whizzing by to match. Totally worth watching.

Rating: See It!


2013's Most Anticipated: Identity Thief

41. Identity Thief (R) - Runtime: 111 minutes
Starring: Melissa McCarthy, Jason Bateman
Director: Seth Gordon
Writers: Craig Mazin, Jerry Eeten

Odd couple comedies are a hard act to pull - you have to maintain a healthy amount of laughs while not being too annoying with the oddball character. Ultimately, it comes down to the characters - are these people we want to spend two hours with? Unfortunately, Identity Thief falls flat on its face with not only poorly written characters but a really bad premise that is hard to find any laughs with.

The movie starts off on a bad note - Sandy Patterson, some accountant in Denver, does the dumbest thing he could do - he gives out his personal information over the phone. Diana is on the other end of the line in Florida and promptly takes all his info to go on a huge spending binge. We are immediately shown Diana living the high life - boozing it up and buying all sorts of crap - there is no sympathy involved in these scenes. Well, except for when the bartender tells her she has no real friends which starts this whole sympathy for Diana thread that honestly, does not work . Of course she gets arrested and the real Sandy Patterson gets arrested for skipping a court date in Florida. Obviously it's a huge mistake, but it seems the cops are in the movie just to be dicks and they can't possibly do anything to help him out, thus ensuring there's a plot. Instead, of you know, being based in reality where identity theft is properly handled by cops and private companies can be hired to take care of your troubles.

The movie's more frustrating than funny at this point and it only gets more ridiculous once Sandy tries to take her back to Denver to face charges (even though all of his identity woes and her arrests took place in Florida - this logic just shows how far the movie has to bend backwards in order to service the whole road trip plot). There's two really dumb b-plots in that another redneck-type bounty hunter is out to get Diana too and a drug cartel is out to kill her - they're both completely absurd and don't provide any sort of laughs.

McCarthy is a funny lady, but here she's just annoying and the movie really pushes hard that Diana is just caught up in her circumstances and really just needs a family. Awwww, that's so sweet! But you know what? I didn't care because the movie was about identity theft and no amount of sweetness could make me feel sympathetic towards these people. Just because she's an orphan and wants to be loved, give me a break.

The movie is just one big giant frustrating poop. It's not that funny nor does it come even close to reality in representing what would really happen. Bateman and McCarthy seem to be sleepwalking through this movie and I really couldn't NOT recommend this movie any less!

Rating: Avoid Like the Plague!


2013's Most Anticipated: The Lone Ranger

39. The Lone Ranger (PG-13) - Runtime: 149 minutes
Starring: Armie Hammer, Johnny Depp, William Fichtner
Director: Gore Verbinski
Writers: Junstin Haythe, Ted Elliott, Terry Rossio

Another movie, another troubled production. But that really doesn't matter, now does it? The Lone Ranger seems to be carrying a lot of baggage - it's another Depp/Verbinski/Bruckheimer collaboration since the third Pirates movie - and all three have seen a dip in popularity. Depp's popularity domestically seems to be at an all-time low, Verbinski has had moderate success with Rango, but has done nothing else and Bruckheimer's last major film productions have been not so well-received - Pirates 4, The Sorcerer's Apprentice and Prince of Persia. So it seems like Disney and the marketing has made it clear they really, really would love to make The Lone Ranger out to be the next Pirates and while they may have succeeded in creating a fun action flick, I highly doubt the general public will enjoy this movie as much as I did.

Armie Hammer plays the title role - a city lawyer who gets caught up in a conspiracy-laden plot that has so many western elements involved - the railroad, outlaws, train robberies, Indians and lots and lots of gun fighting and horse riding. The plot does hit a rough patch where there is too much going on and it seems like it wanted to pay homage to every single western it could. Which is not a bad thing, it's just a bit sloppy and sometimes has a hard time with the pacing. And if you've seen any type of action/western movie in the past 10 years, you'll be able to predict where the story is going to end up halfway through the movie.

That may sound like a bad thing, but really it's not - the movie doesn't treat the plot "twists" and reveals as anything special. The spotlight here is on the action and Tonto. And boy there is a lot of action - the first 15 minutes of the movie is pretty spectacular and the last action set piece was particularly enjoyable. But the movie has a tendency to get in its own way. The movie is being told by a very old Tonto, recalling his days with the Lone Ranger to a tiny kid in a cowboy outfit at the carnival, 60 years after the events of the movie. Unfortunately this isn't cute and funny like The Princess Bride, but just seemed overly condescending and annoying when they would cut back to the kid asking dumb questions like "But The Lone Ranger didn't die, did he?"

As for Depp as Tonto - well, he wasn't annoying. Which isn't high praise exactly - Tonto has his own backstory and we understand his motivations and actions. But to me that was off-putting - I'd rather have Tonto be more like an enigma. That would have had more impact on his character (like Charles Bronson's character in Once Upon a Time in the West). He has some special moments and I'm glad he didn't steal the show. Really, the dude who steals the show this time around is the villain Butch Cavendish played by a barely-recognizable William Fichtner. He is simply amazing in this movie - he's completely sinister and evil - dude literally eats his victims' hearts!

And speaking of eating hearts this movie is completely fiendish. I mean, the body count is probably higher in this movie than the last Rambo movie (and a lot of people died in that movie, trust me). There's not a whole lot of blood, but pretty much anyone who doesn't have more than a couple lines of dialogue gets slaughtered in this movie. Which I'm okay with - I think the movie doesn't treat any of the violence as okay or normal - there's a brutality to this movie that may steer and lot of family-minded audiences away. And I could understand - it's a Disney movie for crying out loud - but the movie does not shy away from all the violence the wild west was known for. And it doesn't shy away from the treatment of Native Americans either - it's completely awful to see what happens to a lot of them. So kudos for the film for being honest instead of Pocohantasing this movie up.

And Armie Hammer as the Lone Ranger? Well, he's good - just not amazing. It's like Orlando Bloom in the Pirates movies - he does a good job, it's just not the focal point of the story. Which is funny because it is all about The Lone Ranger - but really this is just an origin-type story so we don't really get to see the Lone Ranger become the legend until halfway through and even then it's still more about the action than the character. Is that a bad thing? Probably, but I didn't mind.

The film has a hard time reconciling the violence with the more light-hearted action-adventure tones that it portrays. I wouldn't say it's distracting enough to the point where I thought it was bad, it's just that the movie cannot decide what it really wants to be. The western isn't cartoonish enough like the Pirates movies to get away with some of the more supernatural elements (the Spirit-guide horse was funny but not that funny). And the really meaningful and violent aspects sometimes don't get the weight they need because the movie is too busy trying to make a joke. Oh and the other thing that really bothered me and was WAY out of place was the cannibalistic rabbits (seriously, it's just weird).

All in all, this was a fun movie. It may be hard to swallow at times (what with the violence and the messy plot), but it's really quite enjoyable. Critics have absolutely trashed it and I think most people won't come away with happy feelings about the movie. But I think it's worth checking out and there's a lot of cool action and enough character to the movie to set aside the flaws.

Rating: Rent It!

No Time For Love, Dr. Jones!

I need some space here to rant. Indulge me for a minute or two.

Well this is bullshit. Apparently Spielberg and George Lucas have completely gone off the deep end and have traded in their director's chairs for a crystal ball.

I'm not saying things won't change in the next 20 years with how we watch movies, but to honestly come out like they did and say the theater is taking its last few breaths is complete nutballs. First of all, the notion that Lincoln wasn't going to get a proper release? That's bullshit - it's effing Spielberg (a man who's own name doesn't come up as misspelled in my word processor) and he had Daniel Day-Lewis! I don't buy it - what studio wouldn't want that Oscar prestige? Plus the movie did bananas at the box office ($272 million worldwide!) which completely deflates his argument. I mean, if a studio doesn't see that number and not understand that sometimes people want to see a good story  regardless if it has explosions or not (although I would argue otherwise that Lincoln was not a good story. But I'm in the minority on that one). And as for Lucas's Red Tails, I'm sorry but that movie was going to be hard to invest regardless of timing. Just because these two oldies had some (possible) troubles and challenges getting their vision to the big screen doesn't mean the rest of a very creative industry is doomed to fail.

I think the biggest problem with their prediction is that its all predicated on some massive doomsday scenario where a studio has 3 or 4 big budget ($150+ million) movies that bomb, maybe bringing in half their budgets. This would completely bankrupt the studio to the point where they're forced to change their distribution model. This is nuts - there's nowhere near that many big budget movies by one studio in any given year. Sure, there will be bombs every year - John Carter and Battleship are the most notorious from last year, but for every bomb, you have at least 4 or 5 big hits that bring in a profit (Disney had John Carter, but they also had The Avengers, Brave, Wreck-It Ralph and Lincoln that brought in at least twice their budgets domestically and Universal had Battleship, but also Snow White and the Huntsman, Ted, The Lorax and Les Miserables).

And not only that but studios would be missing out on a lot of extra cash if these smaller movies just go straight to on demand or DVD. Movies like The Purge would never see $62 million dollars (the budget was only $3 million!) with this kind of scenario. I could rattle of at least a dozen or so movies like this every year that make 4 or 5 times their budget (2012: The Hunger Games, Ted, 21 Jump Street, Argo, Silver Linings Playbook, The Vow, Magic Mike, Think Like a Man, Act of Valor, Pitch Perfect, Chronicle, Sinister just to name a few).

And this is all domestic grosses - the worldwide box office is growing and even if a movie bombs here, it can still make up its budget or even turn a profit overseas. Worldwide grosses for John Carter was $282 million. It's budget was $250 million - sure they probably lost money (usually a studio has to make double its budget at the box office in order to break even), but they didn't lose all of that $250 million (Disney did report they probably lost about $200 million on the film). That's not to say it wasn't a disaster, but like I said, Disney could fall back on the billion dollar gross of The Avengers worldwide that year to save face. Plus don't forget DVD/Blu-Ray sales! Those numbers are usually never revealed, but that's always extra money on top of the box office!

The last part of the equation is going to sound like pure pretentiousness from my part - but the theater going experience is a unique one. In that you can have your big budget affairs like World War Z and The Avengers, but people enjoy seeing lots of other awesome (in some cases, not so awesome) smaller movies - as shown by my evidence from last year up above. I can't imagine the studios nor the movie theater chains themselves considering a monumental paradigm shift such as Lucas and Spielberg suggest.

But what ultimately this boils down to is the old, crotchety grandpa complaining that the movies aren't-as-good-as-they-used-to-be argument. Which is nonsense - that's just nostalgia kicking in on their part - we tend to see the past with rose-colored glasses and remembering past movies we tend to forget the Juniors amongst the True Lies. Sure, there's tons of crap, but there always has been! And to say that Hollywood is creatively bankrupt is to do a complete disservice to all that creative talent that is doing some amazing work - Tarantino, David O. Russell, Rian Johnson, Christopher Nolan, David Fincher, Danny Boyle are just a few of the talented writers/directors that have all made some original movies in the past couple of years that are not just good, but great.

I don't doubt that how movies are made and distributed is going to change in the next 20 years, but the theater-going experience won't be drastically affected - people want something to do and getting out of the house for dinner and a movie is always going to be an option. It may be an expensive option, but it will never be something that the majority of us can't afford.

Thanks to Box Office Mojo for all the numbers.


2013's Most Anticipated: World War Z

7. World War Z (PG-13) - Runtime: 116 minutes
Starring: Brad Pitt, Marieille Enos
Director: Marc Forster
Writers: Matthew Michael Carnahan, Drew Goddard, Damon Lindelof

Much has been written about the production of this movie - the completely re-shot third act, the overblown budget, Brad Pitt's hair - but ultimately, it's still a movie and the only real factor that counts is how the finished product ends up. And despite some minor setbacks, this was a fun movie that isn't a Debbie Downer like most zombie shows or movies. This is one big action movie that happens to involve zombies. And I really enjoyed it!

Let's just get this out of the way: this is nothing like the book at least where the plot is concerned. And why should it be? The book is an oral history that covers multiple characters, settings and stories - it would be near impossible for a movie to be anything like the book. You'd have to do a Band of Brothers-type miniseries - and I don't think any studio would bite because The Walking Dead has got a monopoly on zombie-themed TV shows. As long as the themes and tone of the book are in the movie, I'm fine with that. And although I've never read the book, this is a pretty good zombie flick, regardless of connecting points to the source material.

The other problem people seem to have is it's PG-13. How can you have a zombie movie that's PG-13? Well, it's not gory - and that's fine! Honestly, a zombie's a zombie, that is to say, you don't need lots of blood and guts to make sure audiences know what they're looking at! I think sometimes the gore gets in the way of telling a good story and to me this was refreshing - you let the characters and action dictate where you eye goes - not some bloated zombie with its guts hanging out, picking away at someone's brain.

I'm not saying the story was powerful - this is, by and large, a big action movie with plenty of big set pieces. But the story was decent enough and the action was satisfying - you're immediately thrown into the mix as the zombie virus infects Philadelphia within the first 10 minutes of the movie. And then we follow Brad Pitt around the globe, literally, as he tries to figure out a way to fight the virus. And as awesome as some of the big set pieces (especially in Jerusalem and in the plane) - the movie suddenly takes a much needed (and obviously low-budgeted) turn into the third act within the corridors of a science research laboratory. I really loved how this movie covered these big action sequences while also showing quieter and much more tense moments during the last part.

A lot of this movie reminded me of War of the Worlds - the Tom Cruise sci-fi remake that had its flaws, but ultimately was a fun "event" movie. The only really big problems I had was the use of a Muse song that evokes Tubular Bells from The Exorcist - they use it at least 5 or 6 times during the movie and while I do enjoy the song (and Muse for that matter), it was way overplayed and didn't seem appropriate at times. The other major problem was the sappy ending narrated by Pitt - it's just completely cliched and dumb - seriously, it doesn't have one ounce of creativity, they just slapped together a bunch of inspiring phrases (the war has just begun; if you can fight, fight). It just seemed too nice and hokey. Puke.

World War Z is not without its flaws and it's not the best zombie movie out there (28 Days Later kindly raises its hand), but this was a fun, big-time action flick that has some great moments. If you're up for a little more frightening version of Contagion, this is right up your alley.

Rating: See It!