Saturday, August 7, 2010

The Other Guys

After success with movies like Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby, Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy, and Step Brothers, comedian Will Ferrell and director Adam McKay have proven themselves as some of the top comedic geniuses of our generation. This time around, the duo teams up with Mark Wahlberg to bring us The Other Guys.

Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg (formerly Marky Mark of the Funky Bunch) play two pencil pushing detectives who don't get out much and only want to live up to their idols, played my Dwayne Johnson and Samuel L. Jackson (who looks like he just got off the set of another Shaft movie). They plan on doing this by uncovering a huge scandal involving the lottery, a multibillion dollar company, and snotty British-American capitalists.

Honestly, there isn't much of a plot here; only the obscure illusion of a plot that only exists so the writers have something to go with and hold the movie together. In reality, the movie doesn't really hold together all that well and eventually the plot becomes so burried in spoof antics of the cliché buddy-cop film, that we stop carring about the plot all together and just wait for the next laugh out loud moment.

This isn't McKay's best directed film. There are a lot of awkward cuts that don't make sense and a lot of the action scenes are choppy to the point where it is difficult to follow along, especially the opening chase sequence with Johnson and Jackson.

But in the end, this is a comedy and we are willing to let everything bad about this movie slide just because it is so gosh, darn funny. Will Ferrell shines in this film, especially, as the nice guy that we all like to like. Ferrell can chalk this preformance up there with his funniest characters like Ricky Bobby and Ron Burgundy. Wahlberg gets a few laughs out of us as well as the angry guy who always yells, but his yelling gets tiresome by the end of the movie. Sam Jackson and Dwayne "the Rock" are also very funny in their ten minutes of screen time; it's not that long but it is definitely worth it.

I must say, however, that by the second half of the movie, the laugh out loud moments become less frequent and it starts to run out of steam by the end, as it starts referring back to jokes made in the first half of the movie that have lost their novelty. There are a few very funny, very fresh jokes towards the end of the movie, but there just isn't enough of them.

In the end, the first half of this film is some of the funnist stuff I've seen in a movie and it makes the entire movie worth paying the $8 for. If you like Will Ferrell and movies like Anchorman, then you will definitely like this movie.

This movie is so funny that I give it a solid recommendation.

The Other Guys gets two buddy cops outta five.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Exit Through the Gift Shop


Like Sasquatch, the Lock Ness Monster, and the 1969 NASA moon landing, Banksy's Exit Through the Gift Shop has people wondering if this movie is for real or not. However, when it comes right down to it, does that even matter?

This documentary follows Thierry Guetta, a quirky Frenchman with an obsession for filming. Guetta befriends an array of grafitti artists including Space Invader, Borf, Shepard Fairey (the man who came up with Obama's 2008 election poster), and, of course, Banksy. Guetta eventually sticks with Bansky while the two of them embark on a wonderous grafitti expedition. After a while, Banksy convinces Guetta to turn the camera over to him while Guetta tries his hand at art, with an unbelievable turnout.

Whether this film is legit or not, everything about it, for the most part, feels authentic and that is an astonishing feet for any "prankumentary", if indeed that's what this is. The real decade-old footage mixed in with the seemingly spontaneous humor of the ensemble makes this movie feel like the real deal, which I guess you could pin on the grade A acting, if indeed it is exactly that.

Like I hinted at earlier, this movie is funny, really funny. The dimwit humor of Guetta, cupped with countless attacks on Guetta's dimwit ways, makes this movie very enjoyable. If nothing else, this movie provides the audience with something (rather someone) to laugh at. But what is great about this movie is that it keeps the audience laughing while also keeping the audience engaged; we are constantly deciding for ourselves what art is and where we draw the line between vandlism and self-expression.

In the end it does not even matter if this film is a true story or not; it's funny, it's engaging, and it is just plain old fun. Besides, we get plently of enjoyment out of fiction anyways, don't we?

4.5 cans of spray paint outta five


My favorite movie of this year, Exit Through the Gift Shop begins with street artist "Bansky" claiming that the film is "not Gone with the Wind, or anything." This is true. Those movies have nothing in common. However, it's a sweet film that utilizes the format of a documentary in order to lull the audience into a false sense of security. Because the world is used to documentaries being, or at least claiming to be, completely true, the audience begins to take whatever Bansky says as fact. But is it?

5 tubs of tapes outta 5.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Heavy Rain

Note from the editors: The moment you've been waiting for! We're happy to introduce our newest contributer, Alex Kleinsorge, with his review of the PS3 title Heavy Rain.

Heavy Rain is difficult to describe. It fits less into game parameters then one would expect from a game. Does It truly fit into its self-proclaimed title of "interactive Drama?" More importantly though, does it even make for a good gaming experience?

Heavy Rain starts out slow, putting you through mundane tasks and character driven interactions, which you still see throughout the game. While this may seem like a bad start to some, it does a great job connecting you with the characters. Playing with your kids or reading a book, it all feeds into your feelings about these characters in a surprisingly deep way.

Heavy Rain's story is interesting to say the least. It revolves around four very distinct characters, all of which feel different, and all have different motives for solving the case of the origami killer and putting a stop to his twisted rampage. This tends to make an good story for the most part, the characters are very deep and detailed, and with the ability to hear their thoughts and feel their fears and anxieties, you can get very connected to the story.

The gameplay is kind of a mixed bag, though good for the most part. Moving you're character around is a real pain. It feels rather clunky, and you'll often bump into objects breaking the mood. The QTE (Quick Time Events) are done wonderfully though. Even the mundane movements feel at least some what interactive, and on some of the action scenes, you'll find you're self really getting into it. A suprising gem in this game though is the use of Six Axis, the PlayStation three's mostly failed motion control device. It's always used just in the right places, from brushing you're teeth to smacking a guy on the head. It's so great it almost make all the other crappy uses of the device worth it.

It tends to feel like a B-movie thriller at times with certain things being overly dramatic, especially with cheesy voice acting on top of it. Speaking of which, the weakest part of this game is the acting. While the main characters are good for the most part, side characters can ham up their lines, and sound rather unconvincing. The worst part though is the fact that this is a french made game set in America. Many of the smaller characters, especially the kids, have horrible American accents. Aside from this though, the story still ends up to be very enthralling.

Heavy Rain is a great game overall, with the great mix of story, and interactive gameplay. You get very into the story and it's characters. It truly is an Interactive Drama, allowing you to see and feel what you can't in other mediums. If you have a PS3 I highly recommend checking this out. It makes for a unique experience no true gamer should miss out on.

This game gets four rain splattered origami figures outta five.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

The Sorcerer's Apprentice

The next Pirates of the Caribbean film doesn't come out for another year, so Disney Studios and fammed movie producer Jerry Bruckheimer have teamed up once again to fill that gap with another goofy action film. Only this time around, it's Nicholas Cage's turn to take the lead roll.

This movie follows the life of our hero, Dave ( apparently not having a last name is the latest trend in New York City ), from a very young age, starting from his first encounter with Balthazar ( Cage ) in his antique shop. After revealing to Dave that he is the "chosen one", Dave accidentally releases the evil Horvath ( Alfred Molina) from a magical imprisonment, inevitably engaging Balthazar in imortal combat. Balthazar then imprisons himself, along with Horvath, in a ten-year prison so as to buy the world time. Of course when the ten years are up, the two enemies are released and end up finding their ways back into Dave's somewhat normal life. Now Dave must master the art of sorcery if he wishes to save the world from complete annihilation.

Well, it ain't no Harry Potter or Narnia movie, but The Socerer's Apprentice has enough magic and action to make the recent Percy Jackson film look like it's an unoriginal, unentertainning adaptation of a teen fantasy novel ( like that's so hard to do ). There is constantly some sort of magic spell being cast in this movie and most of that magic is being used in such a way that it enhances the entertainment value of the action sequences, thus making this film more fun.

This film has a cast of great actors that will definitely draw the attention of people who wouldn't otherwise care for a movie like this. Among them are Jay Baruchel, no doubtedly rounding up the younger audience, the very talented Alfred Molina, drawing in all those Spider-Man 2 fans, and the great Nicholas Cage, whom everybody loves. Everybody in this movie can act ( with the exception of the kid who played the young Dave, who was obviously hired only because he looks like a young Jay Baruchel ) and Molina does a good bad guy, but it is Nicholas Cage who really shines in this one. Cage brings himself into this film, making us laugh, cry, and laugh again in the way that only he can deliver. This movie also has a soft spot for its own characters and it seems to want all of them to succeed and throughout the movie, the characters start to grow on you.

The direction in this film is was interesting and none of the camerawork was too distracting. Most of the action sequences were not filled with quick cuts, which was a relief because I could actually tell what was going on for the most part. The script was funny and it added to the overall goofball atmosphere of the movie; however, the love-dovey sequences in this film were boring and started ocurring too often which dragged the movie along in some parts.

The beginning narrative that gives the background story of Balthazar and the rest of the Merlinians is awkward and does not feel like it fits in with the rest of the movie; it is cliché and does not serve as a formitable attention grabber. The beginning of this film with the young Dave is boring and it doesn't pick up until Cage's character is finally introduced (which, luckily, is only about ten minutes into the movie) and the ending is unsasisfactory.

Overall, The Socerer's Apprentice is a fun film that survives on Cage's comedic skills, love for its characters, and great pop culture refrences including Star Wars and Magic the Gathering.

The Socerer's Apprentice conjures up three pairs of old man shoes outta five.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Anamanaguchi's Dawn Metropolis Review

Note: Yeah, I know this album is about a year old, but it's new to me. Additionally, it's not like any of you have heard of it until now anyway.

Chiptune is a genre of music that takes advantage of the beeps and boops that can be created through classic video game consoles. Anamanaguchi is one of such bands, and their newest album is available in iTunes.

Anamanaguchi is easily separated from other chiptune bands in a few ways. First, and most apparent, is their fast, loud, and rockish style. Secondly, they aren't purely chiptune, but a hybrid between chiptune and "normal" music, being about 75% NES sounds and 25% guitars and even live drums on a few tracks.

Their newest album, Dawn Metropolis clocks in at an extremely short 27 minutes, about half of an average album. For an album of this length to succeed, it needs to not waste one minute. The solution that Anamanaguchi comes up with is to start with a bang with the track "Blackout City," which is a no nonsense, push of forward motion.

This energy doesn't drop for the next few tracks, until "Danger Mountain." This track is the weakest bit of the album, due to the lack of any real melody, making 3 minutes of noise. Luckily, things pick up with the next two tracks, "Overarrow" and "Tempest, Teamwork, Triumph (At Sea.)"

The last and final track is a tonal as well as instrumental shift. The eight minute epic "Mermaid" ditches the softer, more tonal sounds of a Nintendo for the sharper and edgier sound of the original Game Boy. By far the darkest bit of this album, "Mermaid" is a great ending for the LP, leaving the listener with dissonance that slowly fades into nothingness.

Dawn Metropolis becomes an overall success despite some momentum loss in "Danger Mountain." Unfortunately, with only 27 minutes that loss of momentum is a bigger deal than it would have been on a longer album.

Dawn Metropolis gets 4 hacked Nintendos outta five.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Inception Review

Christopher Nolan is back, and his latest sci-fi thriller, Inception, just hit theaters today. Does it stand up to his other films, The Dark Knight, The Prestige, or Memento?

You bet. This movie starts off with a bang by throwing the audience right into what would seem like the climax to your average crime thriller. Soon, however, the audience learns that they are not really watching a theft in an obscure Asian mansion. In fact, they are watching a dream. Inception takes place in a world of idea thieves, who orchestrate an elaborate dream for the person to be stolen from. The team of thieves find a way to put the victim, or "subject" to sleep in order to share the same dream. From inside of the other person's head, the team can extract the required information, and sell it to their employer.

Christopher Nolan's brilliant direction and screenplay keep together a premise that would be a herculean task for most directors. On the surface, it's an amazingly engaging thriller that never dulls. Deeper into the subtext of this film lies commentary on the nature of dreams and reality, the power of guilt, and the infectious parasite that is the idea.

Leonardo Dicaprio takes the lead in this dreamscape as the head idea thief, or extractor. His performance, complemented by the actors who make up his team, is one of the most shining bits of this gem. Ellen Page, who plays the newest member of the idea thieves, gives a fairly good performance overall, while some of her more emotional scenes with Dicaprio seem like there is something missing.

This movie takes advantage of having dreams for settings by creating stunning surrealist images. Entire cities fold over, rooms spontaneously flood with jets of water, and the gravity of hallways twists and turns. It is easy to realize how much fun Nolan had in crafting these scenes, and he transfers that joy to the audience beautifully.

This film gets five spinning tops...outta five.

Let's Get Crackin'

So this is it. We've come to the point where a bunch of disjointed mini blogs has reached its pinnacle. The 3rd Reel and The Silverscreen Addiction, our personal projects, aren't going away, but it's time for something new. This new blog will review not only film, but comics, games, and music as well.

How will we manage to do all of this? In pure Beatles fashion: with a little help from our friends. We will be adding more and more authors to keep pumping out the reviews you want to read.

Here's the start of something great.

~Jordan Peterson and Travis Wheeler