Tuesday, August 30, 2011

PCP on DVD - 4 2011 Thrillers Reviewed

Time for your next hit of PCP.  Today I’ll be talking about 4 films from 2011 that attempt to give us some suspense.  Some succeeded and some failed miserably at building any sort of tension.  These 4 films are now available on DVD and I recently caught them on Netflix:  Limitless, The Adjustment Bureau, Unknown, & The Roommate. 

Limitless – 2011; PG-13.  105 minutes.  Starring:  Bradley Cooper, Robert De Niro, & Abbie Cornish.  My rating:  6 out of 10.

Limitless has an interesting premise:  what would you become if you could suddenly access all 100% of your brain function and turn your mind into a super computer far more powerful than anything you could imagine.  Unfortunately, the movie doesn’t quite live up to its possibilities.  Bradley Cooper stars as Eddie Mora, a writer with terminal writers block and a personal life that is falling apart.  His longtime girlfriend, Lindy (Abbie Cornish) has just dumped him because she can clearly see that he isn’t going anywhere.  And he isn’t, his life is a waste of time and space.  Everything changes when he runs into an old acquaintance, Vernon, a drug dealer that has a stash of a super-drug called NZT that unlocks the potential trapped within the rest of his brain.  Suddenly after taking the drug Mora is able to turn his life around, making a fortune in the stock market, but also attracting the attention of some people that want to do him major bodily harm.

The film is okay but not great.  From a visual standpoint, the shots of the camera rapidly sweeping through New York City down block after block, to demonstrate the enhanced senses that Mora has after taking the drug, are a rather nifty trick that would probably make you nauseous if you watched it in 3D.  Those shots though, showing Mora’s high, are about the only cool camera trick in the film.  There are not particularly any other shots that stand out.  The dialogue isn’t particularly good either.  The thrills are okay, but nothing to write home about.  Probably the most suspsenseful scene in the film is when Lindy is being chased by a bad guy that wants Mora’s stash for himself.  Since she’s not a total major character, there was some real tension wondering whether or not she’d bite the dust.  Between the lack of suspense and some of the plot holes in the film that you could drive a semi through, this film gets downgraded to only average.  Watch it if you like Bradley Cooper, but pass otherwise.
 Read the other 3 reviews after the jump!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

PCP on TV - Lost Season 5 better late than never!

Welcome back to Pop Culture Panorama.  Today I’ll be talking about the TV show Lost.  If you’ve been reading my blog all summer, you know that I’m working my way through the entire run of the show before the regular fall TV shows come back on, as I had never watched it when it was originally on the air.  I’ve now completed the 5th season and these are my thoughts and observations about this show. (WARNING:  mild spoilers ahead if you’re like me and never saw the show before).

  • Interesting coincidence when time traveling?  When Locke gets shot in the leg by Ethan, he’s standing more or less in the same area where his legs gave out on him back in the first season, underneath the crashed drug smuggling plane.  Was that why his legs gave out back in season 1?
  • Also, how many times has Locke been hurt in the legs now?  He had the blast doors come down on it, gotten shot in the leg, and he even gets a compound fracture this season when the time jumping causes him to fall down the well.  Poor guy finally gets the use of his legs back and they keep failing him anyways.
  • Understatement of the season:  after Locke shows up and saves Juliet and Sawyer from the Others, all he says is their names and “Good to see you.” – cut to commercial.  No long exposition, just a nice understatement before the break.
  • Man, Widmore was a jerk in the past, quick to kill first and ask questions later.  I suppose that hasn’t changed much over the years.
Read the rest of the post after the jump:

Monday, August 22, 2011

PCP in Theaters - Fright Night

Ok so for only the 2nd time this summer, I finally had a chance to actually go and see a movie in theaters.  So, here is my review of the latest movie I’ve seen, Fright Night, with a bonus short review of an older film at the end of the post, as well as my thoughts on the trailers featured on Fright Night.  Thanks for dropping by for another hit of PCP!

Fright Night.  2011, Rated R.  106 minutes.  Starring Colin Farrell, Anton Yelchin, Toni Collette, David Tennant, Imogen Poots, & Christopher Mintz-Plasse.  My rating:  8 out of 10.  Note – I saw this in 2D not 3D.

Going into this film, I didn’t know what to expect.  The ad campaign left me feeling a little underwhelmed, and with all the vampire stuff everywhere else in pop culture lately, I was staring to feel a little burnt out on vampires.  Even my wife, who got me hooked on Buffy, Angel, & the Vampire Diaries and is a Twilight fan, wasn’t particularly in the mood to see this.  However, it was the only movie that fit into our time slot of when we could go see a film that the friends we were seeing it with hadn’t already seen, so that sort of made the choice for us.  I was a cautiously optimistic after reading some reviews of the film on Friday, but I still wasn’t sure if it would be good or if it would suck.  Thankfully, I did not come away disappointed at all.

Read the rest after the jump!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

FML - Why I'm looking forward to having a kid

So for those of you that are not aware, I am going to be a father for the first time this December; my wife and I are expecting a boy.  As his arrival gets closer and closer, I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the things that I am looking forward to sharing with my son.  So, without further ado, these are the things I’m most looking forward to sharing with my son once he’s old enough to appreciate them.  I just hope that he likes them as much as I do, and I hope I won’t be too disappointed if he doesn’t.

Authors/Books for when he’s a kid:  Shel Silverstein, Bearenstain Bears; Dr. Seuss.

Authors/Books for when he gets old enough:  Stephen King, JRR Tolkein, CS Lewis, James Patterson, Clive Cussler, John Sandford, David Baldacci; Vince Flynn, Tom Clancy.  Also, graphic novels in general, and the Marvel universe in particular.  I hope my kid likes comics :-D

TV Series on DVD for when he’s a kid:  DVDs of the old school stuff I grew up on – Schoolhouse Rock, GI Joe, Thundercats, He-Man, Looney Tunes, Tiny Tunes, Animaniacs.

TV series on DVD for when he gets old enough:  Anything classic sci-fi, but especially Lost, Babylon 5, Fringe, Battlestar Galactica, & any Star Trek franchise.  In the realm of non sci-fi – Castle, 24, Big Bang Theory, Band of Brothers, & The Pacific.

Movies for when he’s a kid:  Princess Bride, Star Wars (and they’ll be watched in the proper order: IV, V, VI, I, II, III – I can’t wait to see the look on his face when he finds out Vader is Luke’s dad.  I hope he doesn’t have that spoiled for him I’ll have to get him young on that), anything by Pixar, How to Train Your Dragon, Kung Fu Panda, and the classic Disney movies.

Movies for when he gets old enough:  Lord of the Rings, Fight Club, Seven, Monty Python & the Holy Grail, Army of Darkness, Dark Knight, Top Gun, The Killer, Hard Boiled, Usual Suspects & Saving Private Ryan.  Also, if he shows a true appreciation for film, I’m really looking forward to showing him really old stuff such as Akira Kurosawa & Alfred Hitchcock.  I’m hoping that for films with a twist ending, by the time he watches them since they’ve been out for so many years that the endings will not be commonly discussed in pop culture anymore, so he gets shocked by the ending of Fight Club, 6th Sense, Usual Suspects, and other films like that.  I really hope that he goes into those films unspoiled so that I can see the look on his face when the twist comes.  Who knows though, maybe he’ll be like his mom and see the twists coming a mile away.

Sports teams to follow:  anything from Chicago and anything for the University of Michigan.  The first piece of clothing I bought my son was a U of M onesie and he also has a U of M mobile for his crib.  That boy is going to grow up fanatical about U of M football just like his old man.

Sports teams to hate:  The Yankees, Ohio State, Green Bay Packers, Michigan State, & Notre Dame.

Video games and board games.  The kid is going to be gaming a lot just like his dad.  I like the Sonic’s Ultimate Genesis Collection for the Xbox 360 so that he can play the games I played when he was that age, and so he can see just how lucky he is to live in an age that isn’t 8 or 16 bit graphics anymore. 

So those are just some of the things I’m looking forward to sharing with my kid.  I’m sure there are plenty more things that will come to me as I’m going through this new chapter in my life.  Hopefully I can still keep up with my blogging, although going forward there might be more posts about my son mixed in with posts about pop culture.  I haven’t decided if I am going to start a separate blog for posts about my family or not, that remains to be seen.  Anyways, thanks for dropping by!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

PCP on DVD - 18 more short reviews of 2010 films

Ok, here’s the final backlog cleansing of films from prior to the current year.  These 18 films are from 2010, and once I get these out of the way I can go back to longer reviews of actually current films that are new to DVD or in theaters.  Going forward, if I catch an older film on DVD, I will just do a quick blurb review like this as part of a post on current movies.  I’m not gonna let the backlog ever stack up like this again.  So without further ado, here are my thoughts on 18 films from August to December of last year that I’ve caught on DVD recently.  They’re sorted for your convenience by month of release to theaters, so near the end of the post are the films that came out in December and are newer to DVD.

The Switch.  My rating:  5 out of 10.  Another mediocre comedy, nothing spectacular, which is disappointing considering how funny Jason Bateman can be.  Here he’s just neurotic and annoying.

The Other Guys.  My rating:  7 out of 10.  Half buddy comedy, half spoof of buddy comedies, this film is funny and entertaining.  Better than some of the recent other films from Will Ferrell lately.

Wall Street:  Money Never Sleeps.  My rating:  6 out of 10.  Considering that a) the original is a classic and b) this film could have been a much better commentary on the current economy we live in, this film comes away as a disappointment.  It’s not terrible, it just comes nowhere close to living up to the original.

Buried.  My rating:  8 out of 10.  Ryan Reynolds steps up and shows he actually can act.  Very Hitchcock-ian film, bleak and depressing but extremely claustrophobic and suspenseful.

Grown Ups.  My rating:  6 out of 10.  Adam Sandler seems to be phoning it in lately, making films with his buddies that are nowhere near as good as his classics like Happy Gilmore or Billy Madison.  Has some funny moments but could have been better.

The rest of the backlog is after the jump

Thursday, August 4, 2011

PCP on DVD - 14 short reviews of 2010 films

Continuing on with the clearing out of my backlog of reviews, here are my quick thoughts on 14 films from 2010, released between January and July of last year.  After these, my backlog is now down to 28 films, 16 from 2010 and 12 from 2011.  Once I’m back into 2011 I’ll go back to longer reviews. 

Shutter Island.  My rating:  9 out of 10.  I loved this movie.  Of course, anything directed by Martin Scorsese is a must-watch film in my book though.  Great twists and turns; a great mystery.  Very enjoyable film and I did not see the ending coming.

Alice in Wonderland.  My rating:  6 out of 10.  Honestly, give me the old Disney cartoon over this.  It looks like Tim Burton was dropping serious amounts of LSD when he filmed this.  Visually creative and beautiful, but it is probably too scary for little kids.

How to Train Your Dragon.  My rating:  10 out of 10.  Dreamworks finally made a film to match Pixar.  Funny, lighthearted, touching, and entertaining.  Great film all around, and one I can watch again and again.

From Paris with Love.  My rating:  6 out of 10.  Decent old-school style action flick.  Loved the Pulp Fiction reference Travolta’s character makes.  Good action sequences, but more believable than many action films, not too over the top in terms of events occurring that defy the laws of physics.

Repo Men.  My rating:  6 out of 10.  It’s a bleak look at a future where corporations rule the world and a dark sci-fi film with a high body count.  A good twist ending as well, but not a movie I’d watch a 2nd time unless there was absolutely nothing else on.

Date Night.  My rating:  6 out of 10.  Not as funny as it should have been given its stars.  Mark Wahlberg was funnier in this than either Tina Fey or Steve Carell. 

The rest are after the jump

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

PCP on TV - Lost Season 4 better late than never

Welcome back to Pop Culture Panorama.  Today I’ll be talking about the TV show Lost.  I never watched Lost when it was first on the air, and by the time I wanted to watch the show, all I heard about it was that it was confusing and if you were jumping in to it late, you would be totally… well, lost.  I knew this would be a show I’d like, because I love the work of J.J. Abrams, especially Fringe, and I love sci-fi in general.  So this summer I resolved to watch the entire run of the show on DVD.  I just completed power-discing through the 4th season now, and these are my thoughts and observations about this show. (WARNING:  mild spoilers ahead if you’re like me and never saw the show before).

  • They’re getting even less subtle with the characters’ names this season:  Charlotte S. Lewis (C.S. Lewis), the physicist Daniel Faraday shares the same last name with physicist Michael Faraday.  Of course having characters with the last names Locke, Rousseau, Shepherd, Hume, and Hawking isn’t exactly subtle in the first place if you get the references.
  • I love how they show us a polar bear skeleton in the Tunisian desert with a Dharma collar on it in the 2nd episode, but don’t give us a clue as to how that happened until much later in the season when Ben also wakes up in Tunisia, but they still don’t show us how he got there until the finale, when he moves the island and is teleported to Tunisia.  How did the bear make it there though?  That part makes no sense (but when has this show made full sense?)
The rest is after the jump!