Blog Archives

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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Fracture (2007) DVD (Just For The Hell Of It)

Ted Crawford (Anthony Hopkins) murders his wife upon discovering she is having an affair, then, after phoning the police to tell them what he has done, waits for them to arrive.

A vengeful husband, found at the scene of his wife’s murder, a murder to which he has willingly confessed. Surely, it should be a simple open and shut case?

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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 Disappointment: Killer Elite

I’ve been wracking my brain for more accurate titles for Killer Elite…maybe Killer Not-So Elite, Killer Amateur, or Killer Movie Clichés perhaps. With that said, I assume you can tell where this review is going.

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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 Disappointment: Apollo 18

Based on overheard pre-show conversation, Hollywood has apparently left many younger-ish moviegoers with the impression that the ill-fated Apollo 13 was our last attempted mission to the moon. The Apollo program actually continued on for three more years and four more successful moon landings, missions which saw the first deployment of Lunar Rovers and the famous miles-long driving of at least two golf balls (Alan Shepard, Apollo 14). By 1973, however, with budget cuts, waning public interest in the space program, and increased attention being paid to the Skylab project, the planned Apollo missions 18 thru 20 were unceremoniously cancelled.

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Event Horizon DVD (Just For The Hell Of It)

Event Horizon is a favorite film of mine for many reasons. Chief amongst those reasons is the attention to detail within the film. Rather like Alien and Aliens, great efforts have been put in to the costuming and equipment shown on-screen. Each member of the crew on the Lewis and Clark has their name and medical information on their shirt, to aid in the event of an emergency situation. Their space suits actually look like they should work, with their simplistic design and the little lights on the side of the boots that signal magnetic lock. Everything is, well, practical, when it comes to the rescue craft and its crew. They feel like a unit, with their little jokes and jibes, and Fishburne as the no-nonsense Captain Miller feels perfect as their leader. Even when he is bouncing around in the coolest command chair this side of the Enterprise’s he gives of an air of cool calm. That is, until they arrive at their destination.

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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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Dagon DVD (Just For The Hell Of It)

I am a huge H.P Lovecraft fan. I discovered his world of indescribable and unspeakable terrors at a tender age, and was instantly fascinated by the ancient gods and eldritch creatures that inhabited the mind of this undeniable brilliant man. His blend of horror, sci-fi, suspense and terror was just the thing the mind of a young wulf such as myself needed, and in no time I was hooked.

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Clue DVD (Just For The Hell Of It)

This for me is the best film of Tim Curry’s career. His performance as Wadsworth, the butler of Hill House herding the guests of a dinner party turned murder scene is one of the most frenetic examples of scene stealing I’ve ever seen. Even ammongst all the screaming, intentional over the top acting and insanity, Curry stands out as the star performer. That doesn’t mean that the other performers are slouches. Each one of the actors portraying the guests at the mysterious dinner party play their part with comic skill not often seen in today’s comedy films.

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Devil’s DVD Disappointment: Cowboys & Aliens

Take one part James Bond, one part Indiana Jones and mix in some cowboys and throw in some aliens with a side of Olivia Wilde sex appeal and you get the latest Jon Favreau directed movie.

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Devil’s DVD Disappointment: The Hangover Part II

In Hollywood the adage “if it’s not broke, don’t fix it” rings truer than ever. If audiences shelled out hundreds of millions of dollars for a product once, they’re very likely to do it again. And again. And, if not, there’s always the reboot. Why create when it is so much easier (and more lucrative) to re-create? Because you may end up with The Hangover Part II.

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Devil’s DVD Disappointment: Our Idiot Brother

Our Idiot Brother is more therapy than comedy; a cinematic trip to the psychiatrist – if the psychiatrist is a shaggy, magical hippie. In a deserved lead role, Paul Rudd is the idiot (and shrink) in question – a man dumb enough to sell drugs to an uniformed officer, yet smart enough to solve life’s petty problems in 90 minutes or less.

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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 Disappointment: Conan the Barbarian

Surprisingly entertaining in the face of one-dimensional characters and a plot stuffed full of clichés, I enjoyed this new interpretation of Robert E. Howard’s sword-wielding warrior, though I was left rather unsatisfied by the whole experience.

The first twenty minutes or so, showcasing Conan’s “he was born on the battlefield” bloody entry into the violent world of Hyboria, and his life as a young Cimmerian, feature the closest thing the film comes to actual character development.

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Devil’s DVD Disappointment: Super 8

J.J. Abrams’ and Steven Spielberg’s (and yes, they do warrant a co-credit) Super 8 is a movie with so much potential to be fun, exciting, and vastly entertaining, but is unfortunately so self-conscious in its attempt to be E.T. 2 that the makers end up distracting, and detracting, from the story, leaving the audience holding the sad and rather flaccid bag.

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Reign Of Fire DVD (Just For The Hell of It)

A really “Marmite” of a film, this post-apocalyptic dragon yarn delivers a nice slice of B-Movie fare, though its character-based rather than balls to the wall attitude to storytelling seems to infuriate many.

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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 Disappointment: The Change-Up

Finally caught up with The Change-Up, while up in the…something that rhymes with up. Director David Dobkin developed, directed, and distributed (that last one is likely untrue, I just wanted the alliteration) the film, with stars Jason Bateman, Ryan Reynolds, and Leslie Mann. How does The Change-Up measure up? 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 Disappointment: Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, fails to sail into new territory as it simply treads the water of the previous installments. Johnny Depp’s Jack Sparrow was initially rivaled by Captain Barbossa the undead pirate, then came Davy Jones the undead pirate, and now we have Captain Blackbeard the (yeah, you guessed it) undead pirate. With so many undead menaces lurking around, is there a chance that the fourth go around has breathed new life into the franchise? Read the rest of this entry