Category Archives: Devil's DVD Advocacy

Devil’s DVD Advocacy: 50/50

When you say the words, “50/50 chance of survival” out loud it doesn’t sound entirely hopeless. Then you start to think, “70/30 or even 60/40 would certainly put my mind a little more at ease.” Ultimately, can any set of numbers or odds help an individual come to terms with what they’re facing? That is the question that the latest Joesph Gordon Levitt film aims to answer. Read the rest of this entry

Devil’s DVD Advocacy: Real Steel

Watch as many movies in a year as I do and you inevitably run into a few titles where you find yourself having to constantly repeat “no, really!” when explaining to someone that you liked them. Last year alone there was The Losers, The A-Team, The Other Guys. Now welcome 2011’s entry to the club: Real Steel. I liked Real Steel. No, really! And despite everything you’ve seen in the trailers, it’s less “Rock ‘Em Sock ’Em” than it is Rocky. Except…you know, with robots. Call it “The Sweet Science Fiction”, if you must.

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Devil’s DVD Advocacy: Moneyball

Of the two Michael Lewis books made into movies in recent history, I’d have to say that Moneyball has a leg up over The Blind Side. Why you ask? Well first of all, no Sandra Bullock. Big check in the plus column. Second of all, the story is neither exploitative or schmaltzy. And third of all, and I can’t stress the point enough, no Sandra Bullock. Everyone wins.

Moneyball is the story of a major league baseball team and the general manager who is given the task of putting together a team with limited funds. Billy Beane, played by the ever so talented Brad Pitt, enlists the help of Jonah Hill’s Peter Brand to help put together a team that stays within their means.

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Devil’s DVD Advocacy: Contagion

Contagion, Steven Soderbergh’s return to “mainstream” cinema, boasts a lot of big-named Hollywood stars, but at what cost? For each plot thread picked up by a Damon or a Fishburne just as many are left to flounder without consequence or reason.

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Devil’s DVD Advocacy: Warrior

Warrior seems to be an attempt to create a modern-day Rocky; a less kind reviewer might say it’s trying to ride the coat tails of last year’s The Fighter. It is not successful. That being said, it is not a terrible movie, just one lacking in (maybe too) many areas.
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Devil’s DVD Advocacy: Midnight in Paris

The very first Director Spotlight we did on this website was Woody Allen, starting with Annie Hall and ending with Vicky Cristina Barcelona. Annie Hall got me on a path of reverence for the neurotic comic genius that is Allen. Since Annie Hall, my first real introduction to his work, I have watched a number of his films, each with a different lens, each with a different outcome. Now, today, I have the pleasure of discussing his latest comic opus, Midnight in Paris. Read the rest of this entry

Devil’s DVD Advocacy: Fright Night

Tom Holland’s original Fright Night from 1985 is a movie that I’ve always loved and, as confirmed by a recent DVD viewing, still very much do. It manages to be both fun (and more than a little campy) at the same time it presents itself as a credible, even frightening horror film. It has, even to this day, some of the best vampire (and vampire-death) affects I’ve seen in movies (achieved, not for nothing, using “simple” makeup, costumes, prosthetics, puppets, and lots of stage blood – take that, billion-dollar CGI houses!). Of course, I had the knee-jerk negative reaction to news of a remake, but the casting announcements (David Tennant! Colin Farrell! Toni Collette!) were very interesting and not only gave me hope that it could be good, but as the release date neared actually got me quite excited to see it. And after last weekend’s viewing, I can finally and wholeheartedly confirm that it wasn’t completely awful.

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Devil’s DVD Advocacy: Rise of the Planet of the Apes

During one of our mini-episodes of the Devil’s Advocates podcast, I was complaining about how filmmakers now have such great technology at their disposal and make horrible movies with all of that technology. In the last five years, we have been inundated with movies like Avatar, The Last Airbender, Clash of the Titans and a whole lot of other horrible movies that were just excuses to show off special-effects. I used the example of Raiders of the Lost Ark to show how a movie could be made thirty years ago with some of the simplest movie making techniques (matte paintings, puppets and miniature sets) and still be better than most of what Hollywood keeps putting into the movie theaters now.

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Devil’s DVD Advocacy: Tucker & Dale vs Evil

If there has been one genre that Hollywood has been unable to really churn out lately it’s solid original comedy. This year it seemed the only comedy that was liked by both critics and mainstream audiences was Bridesmaids, other than that we’ve had a string of mildly amusing, but sadly forgettable films. Romantic comedies have also been big this year with Crazy, Stupid, Love and Friends with Benefits, but again not really general comedies. In unfortunately limited release comes a solid entry into the lacking comedy genre this weekend with first time writer-director Eli Craig and co-writer Morgan Jurgenson bringing us Tucker & Dale vs Evil and just in time for Halloween.

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Devil’s DVD Advocacy: 30 Minutes or Less

After seeing 30 Minutes or Less, one can clearly see all the contention built of its parallels to another, more tragic story are just coincidence. Not to say 30 is drastically different, but there is no evidence the filmmakers thought that hard about the connection. They really didn’t seem to think too much about anything in this case.

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Devil’s DVD Advocacy: Friends with Benefits

When it comes to relationships, there’s always that age-old question of “Can there be a physical relationship without the emotional?” Well, Hollywood decided this year to give us two tales of it. Earlier in the year, Ashton Kutcher and Natalie Portman starred in No Strings Attached and now Justin Timberlake and Mila Kunis give us another take on the subject in Friends with Benefits.

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Devil’s DVD Advocacy: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2

Eight films into the series, what else can be said about these films? I…uh…like the cool magic effects? Honestly, it is difficult talking about the eighth film in a series without getting too repetitive, but I shall try my best. Read the rest of this entry

Devil’s DVD Advocacy: Crazy, Stupid, Love

Love can be a noun or a verb. It’s never typically used as an adjective. I never find myself saying, “That fruit smoothie was certainly love.” That said, I actually struggled with the title, Crazy, Stupid, Love, knowing full well that you really only need to separate the Crazy and Stupid with a comma, since those are the modifiers (i.e. adjectives) and love is the concept (i.e. noun). Then it hit me. They’re not describing love as anything. It’s just playing word association. In order to be in love, you must be a) Crazy and/or b) Stupid. Or maybe love makes you those two things. In this Steve Carrell vehicle, the latter is almost certainly true. Read the rest of this entry

Devil’s DVD Advocacy: Attack the Block

A gang of inner city youths do battle with an invading alien in this South London-based sci-fi film, which kept me entertained from beginning to end.

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Devil’s DVD Advocacy: Captain America: The First Avenger

Marvel Comics has been on quite a roll with their movies this year (Thor, X-Men: First Class) and Captain America: The First Avenger keeps that streak going. Directed by Joe Johnston (The Rocketeer, Jumanji) and starring Chris Evans as Steve Rogers/Captain America and the great Hugo Weaving as his arch-villain the Red Skull, Captain America is a great thrill ride of a movie. It’s a comic book movie with the patented silliness that comes with the genre, but the movie is done with such style that you just go along for the ride regardless of how silly everything is.

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Devil’s DVD Advocacy: Bad Teacher

My seventh grade math teacher, to whom I shall refer as “Miss K.” It’s not that Miss K was a bad teacher, she just wasn’t very good at her job. She was a neat-freak to the point of psychosis, her particular pet peeve those little paper chads that fell to the floor whenever you ripped a page out of a spiral notebook. She HATED those things, to the point where spiral notebooks were banned from her classroom. Period. She didn’t ban ripping pages out of one, she didn’t ban using them, SHE BANNED THE NOTEBOOKS THEMSELVES – we weren’t even allowed to have one in our backpack in her classroom.

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Devil’s DVD Advocacy: Horrible Bosses

Following in the footsteps of successful R-rated comedies of late, Horrible Bosses pieces together the slimmest of stories, hoping to ride the coattails of its actors and improvisation to a profitable box office. Gathered for your amusement are Jason Bateman (the everywhere-these-days straight man), Jason Sudeikis (continuing his role from Hall Pass), and Charlie Day (the manic, hamster-ish fellow from It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia), a group of long-term buddies intent on ending their occupational miseries by ending their bosses.

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Devil’s DVD Advocacy: Fast Five

Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Jordana Brewster and a group of cast members from the previous movies in the Fast And The Furious franchise return, in a film that really bares little resemblance to the previous entries in the series. Don’t get me wrong, the ridiculous stunts, implausible plot lines and cheesy dialogue that from the earlier films is all present, but about halfway into the film I started to get the feeling that I was watching a tough guy Ocean’s Eleven rather than the street racing action film I had thought I was going to see. Read the rest of this entry

Devil’s DVD Advocacy: Scream 4

Looking back, it’s hard to believe it has been 15 years since the original Scream came out. 11 years since the previous installment. I loved the first one back in ’96 and really enjoyed the sequel in ’97. The third film was by far the weakest and now Scream 4 (or Scre4m as it’s spelled on some posters) doesn’t alter that fact whatsoever. Scream 3 is still the low man on the totem pole.

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Devil’s DVD Advocacy: Submarine

Watching Richard Ayoade’s Submarine is a lot like finding and reading one of your old journals from high school – embarrassed snickering at all the overwrought stories of heartache, longing and melancholy alternating with the dread of already knowing all the sadness and regret that is to come, not just in life but even in just the next few pages. You identify so closely with everybody in the story at the same time you just want to slap everyone to wake them up. Equal parts bitter at sweet (making it far more bitter than your typical megaplex fare), Submarine will almost definitely be on my list of favorite movies of the year.

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Devil’s DVD Advocacy: Bridesmaids

I have never been a bridesmaid. Probably not shocking based on my gender, appearance, and lack of ovaries. I have, however, been in many wedding parties. Not only that, but I’ve been the best man in at least six weddings (the last being that of Joseph “Mumbles” Wilhelm). Why you ask? Because I am literally the best man there is…for the job. And even then I still, always, screw up some aspect of my responsibilities. Now, imagine you put an insecure, self absorbed, lady-child in charge of everything. Would anything go right? Read the rest of this entry

Devil’s DVD Advocacy: Thor

“I still don’t think you’re the god of thunder… but you ought to be”

Marvel Studios (the movie branch of the comic publisher) struck gold with Iron Man – a movie whose success they’ve been trying to replicate ever since. Does Thor once again capture lightning in a bottle, or is the thunder-god’s movie just a passing drizzle? Read the rest of this entry

Devil’s DVD Advocacy: X-Men: First Class

Set to tell the tale of the early days of how the X-Men came to be is the prequel of sorts to the previous X films is X-Men: First Class. Matthew Vaughn directs this film to show the origins of the two main leaders of the warring factions in the mutant community Charles Xavier aka Professor X and Erik Lehnsherr aka Magneto.

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Devil’s DVD Advocacy: Hanna

If you happened to catch last year’s Dogtooth you understand what kind of affect raising a child in an extremely sheltered way can have. Director Joe Wright’snewest film Hanna is a movie that looks at this aspect but takes it in another direction, think more James Bond and less psychotic brainwashing. Saoirse Ronan plays Hanna, a teenager who grew up in a Finland forest along with her father Erik, played by Eric Bana. Hanna is taught to hunt, to survive on her own, and try to appear to be a normal 16-year-old to whomever she may run into, no matter what language they speak. The two aren’t living in the forest hunting wild game because they enjoy the taste of reindeer. Erik and Hanna are in training, training for an inevitable showdown with CIA agent Marissa played by Cate Blanchett. An electronic beacon is eventually triggered that tells the CIA where the two are hiding and the hunt is on. But who’s hunting who here?

Devil’s DVD Advocacy: Paul

You’d have to search pretty hard to find a single person-of-a-certain-age in the Western world who has escaped childhood without having seen E.T., Close Encounters of the Third Kind, or a single Star Wars movie at least once. If you were young, receptive, and imaginative enough the first time you saw them, some of their images and themes (and the emotions they evoked) probably will stay with you forever, whether you like it or not. Such is the power of sci-fi, particularly of sci-fi movies: their pervasiveness in our lives, popular culture, and collective memory make us feel that we’re not alone, not only in terms of extraterrestrial life, but for the even stranger creatures that walk the earth – us, each alone, wondering if there’s anyone else who feels the same way and remembers the same things that we do. If you need proof that you’re not alone, here come Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, and the movie Paul.

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Devil’s DVD Advocacy: Super

Followers of geek news sites or “news of the weird” sections of papers may have noticed that incidents of real-life masked vigilantism have been on the rise in recent years. The idea of anonymous “everymen” out there, fed up with an ineffective law enforcement and judicial system, taking matters into their own hands and answering to no one is something that most everyone has probably thought of at one time or another, but not something that anybody actually wants, especially considering that anybody who would actually go and do this would no doubt be somewhat mentally unstable to begin with.

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Devil’s DVD Advocacy: Rio

As I sit here thinking how to make this review of the latest animated film to hit theaters, Rio, relevant to the adult readers I’m hoping we get, or hoping we get in the future, I actually thought about inserting Duran Duran lyrics in here. I truly did. Then I realized, I am better than that. Not by much, but I am. And, so is the animated selection in question. Read the rest of this entry

Devil’s DVD Advocacy: Source Code

Source Code is the latest film from Duncan Jones, the up-and-coming director who you may remember from 2009’s wonderful sci-fi thriller Moon. The film stars Jake Gyllenhaal as Colter Stevens, a US Air force pilot who finds himself part of a military experiment that allows for transferring the mind of a living person into the mind of a deceased person. The process is limited though, it only allows the living person to experience the last eight minutes of the deceased’s life before death. Colter is tasked with experiencing the repeated last eight minutes of the life of a schoolteacher who died aboard a train headed to Chicago. I won’t attempt to explain the quantum physics aspect of the story but he essentially is allowed to freely act as this person in an alternate timeline but returns to the real world upon death. Along for the ride is co-worker Christina Warren, played by Michelle Monaghan. Colter’s mission is to find a bomber who was aboard the train in the past and is believed to be planning to detonate a large bomb in downtown Chicago in the real world close future. Confused? Well imagine if Bill Murray’s character in Groundhog Day was aware that he would be reliving Groundhog Day and was actually a soldier looking for a suspected terrorist bomber. Got it?

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Devil’s DVD Advocacy: [Rec] 2

Ah, remakes and sequels. Sequels to remakes. Remakes of a sequel. Sometimes it’s really difficult to keep track of all the rehashed nonsense that Hollywood pumps out these days. And, because of that some movies get lost in the shuffle.

The [Rec] movies ([Rec] because everything is being recorded on a video camera and that’s what the viewer sees) are great examples of what I mean. Read the rest of this entry

Devil’s DVD Advocacy: Rango

In a million years, I never once thought I could admire such a gangly, discolored looking fellow, but I really do like Johnny Depp…I mean Rango. But really, they are one in the same, no? Read the rest of this entry