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MOVIE REVIEW: The Bling Ring

*****THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SOME SPOILERS*****

We all know the story, it captivated us for so long and still does today. We know they did it, we saw the aftermath; but in order to fill our need to know everything, we needed to know how exactly they did it. Director, Sofia Coppola does an okay job of presenting her adaptation of the sensational, ripped-from-the-headlines tale of the fame-obsessed teens. She highlights the “fictionalized” true story before, during and after the ring’s infamous criminal activities – though much of the robbery scenes play out the same and it can get a bit repetitive but she does try to add different elements in each robbery scene.

Fans of Sofia Coppola’s work might not care for her directing the celebrity worship film – I’ve overheard a few people say it is too much of a fluff piece for the Director who usually goes for more deeper films – but I find it refreshing when Directors try different genres even if it doesn’t always work out. I can see how this movie highlights how we have become celebrity worshipers – in these teens case, enough to want to be like them so much that they literally dressed themselves in the celebrities’s actual possessions.

This movie definitely questions or at least highlights the morals of the players – so self absorbed that they felt no guilt sneaking into homes and rob them. From their attitudes, you can see they didn’t think of themselves as thieves, which they clearly were. But don’t worry folks, there is no fear of you feeling sorry for any of these them though your heart may twing a bit for the “Nick Prugo” character – the only one who shows a flash or two of regret. Now while the leader and initiator of this Burglar Bunch was the “Rebecca and Marc” characters, Emma Watson’s “Nikki” and Leslie Mann’s “Laurie” were the highlight of the movie for me. Emma Watson played the part of the Alexis Neiers character perfectly. From what we saw in their reality show, Pretty Wild, Emma totally hit the mark as oblivious Nikki and Leslie was spot on as the flighty mom. While I loved the scene with the Vanity Fair interview, I was truly hoping for the infamous phone call scene from Pretty Wild when the article actually came out – that was truly TV gold.

I’d like to end by giving kudos to Paris Hilton for making an appearance in the movie, especially as she was the most robbed celebrity in the entire scandal. Will you enjoy this movie – possibly if you enjoy seeing some mindless behavior of teens. Is it Sofia Coppola’s best work – not by a long shot but I’m happy she’s directing again – hopefully her next project will more like her past work.

The Bling Ring opens in theaters nationwide this Friday, June 21st. Huge thanks to A24 for the invitation to the screening.

Movie Review | ROCK OF AGES

***THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS*****


80’s rock and roll Broadway musical, “Rock of Ages” has finally made it to the big screen. Telling the story of rock crossed lovers, Sherrie and Drew, who meet on the Sunset Strip after poor naive Sherrie is robbed of her belongings. Their rollercoaster romance is told through the hard hitting hits and rock ballads from rock favorites Night Ranger, Quarterflash, Foreigner, Def Leppard, Joan Jett, Whitesnake, Journey, Twisted Sister, Bon Jovi, Pat Benatar, REO Speedwagon, Poison, Steve Perry (only a tease), etc.

So are you ready to rock? Musically, you will with the collection of rock anthems in Rock of Ages – special kudos to the man behind the music mash ups. Overall, the songs are what I enjoyed the most of this movie…not necessarily the singing. I fully confess to singing along to the songs especially my favorite, Night Ranger’s Sister Christian at the beginning. Here’s my take on some of the characters, you may or may not agree but you will make your own opinions when (if) you see it:


Julianne Hough as Sherrie – I thought it was just me (it wasn’t) but something about her voice was a bit irritating. I think it may be the combination of the baby voice and high pitch of her voice. I think she shined best when singing Harden my Heart mainly because it sounded like she was singing in a lower key.

Alec Baldwin as Dennis Dupree – seeing Alec Baldwin in jeans is like seeing Alec Baldwin in Dad jeans, it should just never happen. The man looks good in a suit or at least slacks so please let’s try to keep him away from jeans in the future. At first sight of seeing him in character, I laughed, even though I’m positive that is not the correct reaction but it was just off for me.

Russell Brand as Lonny – it goes without saying that Russell Brand in a rock and roll movie is a no-brainer, the man was like a duck in water – seriously, no surprise with this casting choice since most people still think he is a rock star playing comedian. I must also note he had some of the move’s best comedic lines. And oh the romantic scenes between Alec Baldwin’s Dennis Dupree and Lonny are beyond laughable in its awkwardness.

Malin Akerman as Constance Sack – great job and I enjoyed her singing, wish there was more of it. She’s a great actress and was the lead singer in a rock band when she was younger so a perfect natural choice. She would have made a great Sherrie…maybe they thought she was too old to play her….hmmmm

Catherine Zeta-Jones as Patricia Whitmore – she did a good job, I didn’t expect a bad performance. The dancing scene with ladies in church seemed a bit off but I think it may have been how she looked in the peach suit. Her first presence in the movie seemed a bit over acted but I think that is how the character was supposed to be played – she looked like her old Chicago self at the end.

Mary J. Blige as Justice – fabulous job…amazing voice (so surprise there) but I’m giving her a solid B for the acting, mainly because she did much better than I anticipated.

Tom Cruise as Stacee Jaxx – you have to let go of your dislike for Tom Cruise and not let that influence your opinion of how he sis in this movie. I enjoyed his portrayal of Stacee Jaxx (leather buttless chaps and bejeweled codpiece and all). I thought he would come off as trying too hard but he did a good job playing an aging rockstar (as my very limited exposure to aging rock stars and full knowledge VH1’s “I Love the..” series and MTV’s Behind the Music has taught me). My favorites Tom Cruise scenes include any scene with his monkey, Hey man, and wen he was walking towards Malin Akerman’s Constance Sack and a groupie grabbed him and started kissing him mid stride. He let her kiss him while signaling to Constance that he would just be a minute.

If you love rock, go see this movie, if you want to laugh a little, go see this movie. The music alone is worth the price of admission. One one I expected to hear more of was Steve Perry’s Oh Sherrie. I just knew we’d get a extended play of it later in the movie since it’s the lead female character’s name but sorry folks, 3 seconds is all you get. Do you think they felt it would be too predictable to add more of this song in the movie? Could be but I ended up listening to it on my way home because the 3 seconds left me dying to hear it.

All in all, Adam Shankman did a great job, my only real issue is with the sound guys when it came to Julianne Hough. And I got the shock of my life to find out actor Tobey Maguire is a Producer of this film – go figure. Not at all surprised Justin Theroux was the Screenwriter, I love his previous work.

Movie Review | Marvel Studio’s The Avengers

***THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS*****

Its finally here, the movie we’ve all been waiting for. I was lucky to score an invitation to a press screening of the blockbuster and made sure to arrive early as I thought it would be crowded (I was wrong as it was a relatively small gathering for both the size of the theater and the anticipation level of this movie) but I settled in anyway, pad in hand, ready to be wowed – an I was.

Marvel Studios’s Avengers brings together the beloved superheroes we’ve fallen in love with individually,  a follow up to Iron Man (1 & 2), The Incredible Hulk (s), Captain America, and Thor, but a movie that should certainly not be seen as a sequel as this would no doubt amaze even if the previously listed movies were not made. Mixing gods, superheroes and aliens, Marvel Studios’s The Avengers packs quite a punch. The action begins quite early as we see explosions occur within the first 15 minutes. The fight  to save Earth is centered around keeping the Tesseract, a cubed shaped energy source we saw in Captain America, away from Thor’s mischievous brother, the Norse God, Loki (who basically broke into S.H.I.E.L.D ‘s underground location to steal it) and his army of aliens known as Chitauri, whose controlled by an unseen figure (a character we don’t see until midway through the end credits).


While there is lots of action, there is also lots of great comedy. Robert Downey Jr. naturally gives his usual great comedic performance but just about all the characters had great one liners, great comedic scenes (and timing). Two scenes stood out to me and they both involved The Incredible Hulk (voiced again by gentle giant, Lou Ferringno) – keep an eye out for a laugh out loud scene with Loki and another (this one shorter) with his brother, Thor. **A brief moment to state that I think Marvel Studios have finally found their Incredible Hulk. Mark Ruffalo is perfect as Bruce Banner. I grew up watching Bill Bixby as The Incredible Hulk and I feel that Mr. Ruffalo truly has the spirit of Bill Bixby and plays the character just as he did. I look forward to seeing his full length feature.** Back to the review. Fight scenes are rampant but exciting, there’s a great one with Iron Man and Thor and Captain America breaks it up amazingly. The toys are also fun to watch, the Helicarrier doesn’t disappoint, Hawkeye’s arrows seem to have their own personality, the two man flying vehicles used by the Chitauri are exactly what you’d expect

Other notable performances were seen by Scarlett Johansson, who played Black Widow/Natasha Romanoff quite well. I admit I totally underestimated her and was happy to be proved wrong. Cobie Smulders (Robin from How I Met Your Mother), who I totally didn’t recognize did an amazing job as the strong personality and no-nonsense Maria Hill – hope to see her in more movies. No need to say anything about Samuel L. Jackson – he’s Samuel L. Jackson. I think the man was probably born in a long black leather jacket.

***END CREDIT SPOILERS***

Everyone should stay until the end credits as an appearance is briefly made by Thanos, who thrives on Global Genocide and he’s looking as evil as ever.

Movie Review: Fright Night 3D

***THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS***

If you were a fan of the original 1985 released, Fright Night, then you will enjoy the 2011 3D version.

In Director Craig Gillespie’s Fright Night, he took the basic elements of the 1985 Fright Night and updated it a bit. Charley Brewster (a very brooding James Dean/Luke Perry-esque, Anton Yelchin) realizes his neighbor, Jerry Dandridge (Colin Farrell) after realizing his former nerdish childhood friend, Ed (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) has disappeared like several other classmates. The 2011 Vampire Jerry watches Housewives of NJ, drinks beer and like the 1985 original – eats apples (its been said that Chris Sarandon thought the character, Jerry Dandridge was also part fruit bat and obviously Gillespie kept that in) and unlike 1985, crosses don’t repel or hurt him at all.

Though the 1985 version had the vampires looking more scarier (the vamps in this version looked more like pretty monsters), I was especially happy to see Imogen Poots’s Amy, transformation’s was kept pretty close to Amanda Bearse’s (no mention was made of this version’s Amy reminding Jerry of his lost love). But my favorite performance from this version is Peter Vincent (a hilarious David Tennant), a self proclaimed vampire killer and Las Vegas magician who seemed a cross between Russell Brand and Cris Angel – a brilliant performance by Tennant! I found myself looking forward to more scenes from him as opposed to Colin Farrell. I found it intriguing that one character was missing – Jerry’s non-human servant/carpenter/bodyguard, Billy Cole. The movie worked well without him but I kept wondering what fans will think. **MAJOR SPOILER ALERT*** One cast addition fans will love is the cameo by Chris Sarandon, the original Jerry Dandridge, many hoped he would somehow be involved and though its not major, this fan was happy to see the appearance.

Overall, I enjoyed this comedic horror. The only issue I had was with the 3D, it wasn’t at all necessary. With the exception of two scenes, the 3D aspect didn’t add anything more to movie – it would have been perfectly fine in 2D.

Fright Night 3D opens in theaters Friday, August 19th .

Movie Review: Final Destination 5

Buckle up Ladies and Gentlemen because its going to be an extremely bumpy ride – and while you’re at it, don’t indulge in this movie on a full stomach. If you like gory movies, then Final Destination 5 is your go to movie this year (and I’m sure for a few years after), if you love 3D movies, then Final Destination 5 is again your go to movie (NOTE to all 3D movie makers – take notes).

Final Destination 5 is the best 3D movie I’ve seen, I mean even the opening credits are in 3D – REAL 3D. It’s epic! To get the best experience, I advise to sit not in the back as most people would but a bit closer to the screen, you’ll feel like you’re running from death yourself. If you’re a lover of gore, you’ll think Steven Quale has outdone himself. Mr Quale gives you a full, no hold barred view and all the gory details of each death. You will cringe, you will turn away from the screen and you might even have to excuse yourself from the theater (I saw quite a few people run out of the theater, more than I’ve seen in the past six movies I’ve attended combined). I had to admit, I couldn’t eat a thing for quite some time after the screening.

This latest edition (last?) again stars several young relatively unknown actors like Nichola D’Agosta, Emma Bell and Miles Fisher though you may recognize them from a show here and there. More recognizable faces include “the Voice” Tony Todd (who was been in just about all of the Final Destination movies except for The Final Destination which was part 4), Courtney B Vance which most will recognize as ADA Carver from Law & Order:Criminal Intent and David Koechner from Anchorman and The Office. While there were oh so many creative deaths and incidents in the movie, my favorite part has to be the ending. I’ll just say it brings it all together and leave it at that – I don’t want to ruin this movie experience for anyone.

Enjoy (ha, ha, ha, ha) – in my best Tony Todd voice

Movie Review: 30 Minutes or Less

I had the pleasure of attending the press screening for 30 Minutes or Less and although it’s a very short movie by standards (only 83 min), it is 83 minutes of continuous laughter. Directed by Zombieland’s Ruben Fleischer, 30 Minutes or Less is about “two fledgling criminals (Danny McBride and Nick Swardson) kidnap a pizza delivery guy (Jesse Eisenberg), strap a bomb to his chest, and inform him that he has less than 10 hours to rob a bank or else…”

Courtesy of Columbia/Sony Pictures

Aziz Ansari plays plays Chet, best friend to Jesse Eisenberg’s Nick and provides several of the movie’s laugh out loud moments – I’m happy to say that Aziz Ansari’s character wasn’t the stereotypical Indian and the movie didn’t rely on that to get the laughs (I hope to see him in more roles). The movie shows that the buddy comedy genre is alive and well when done with actual funny writing and cast. I do hope you are ready for some F-bombs though because it has a touch of raunchy language and an affinity for oral sex jokes. On an amusing note, Jesse Eisenberg makes a reference to Facebook which got a few audience titters.

Of course this movie is not without its controversy and not because of the language. Some say 30 Minutes or Less seems to be loosely based on a real life incident where a pizza delivery man named Brian Wells was kidnapped, had a makeshift bomb strapped to his chest, and was forced to rob a bank – though an article in the Huffington Post states “the movie’s handlers acknowledge the screenwriters were “vaguely” aware of Wells, but say the movie isn’t based on the infamous Pennsylvania collar-bomb case.” Mr. Wells later died when the bomb exploded before police could disarm it. It is also said that Mr. Wells was involved and helped plan the tragic crime with two individuals who were later sentenced to over 30 years in jail for their involvement.

Whether its based on this incident or not, the tragic crime notwithstanding, 30 Minutes or Less is a really funny movie and one anyone will enjoy. The movie hits theaters this Friday, August 12th. Check out the trailer below: