At the Movies

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At the Movies

Post by Darkwing on 2010-08-06, 17:14

Welcome to the first edition of "At the Movies". At the movies essentially just goes into what's being released in cinemas and posting videos and reviews found from other sources. Members will also have the opportunity to rate movies and other interesting things.

First up is Step-Up 3D. The third installment of the semi-popular Step-Up franchise.

Synopsis (IMDB)
A tight-knit group of New York City street dancers, including Luke(Malambri) and Natalie (Vinson), team up with NYU freshman Moose (Sevani), and find themselves pitted against the world's best hip hop dancers in a high-stakes showdown that will change their lives forever.

Rated PG-13 in the States and PG in Canada, Step-Up 3D runs at 107 min.



REVIEWS

Step Up 3D: You can dance, but I'm afraid you can't act
Rated 2/5
By Chris Tookey
The American movie Step Up is bound to be compared to the home-grown Streetdance, a hit earlier this year.

Both are in 3D, both feature dancers who can’t act, and both will satisfy audiences more interested in watching dance than becoming involved in an interesting story.

Step Up has had a lot more money thrown at it, and the choreographers have integrated 3D into the dance routines with slightly more panache.

But that is where the favourable comparison ends. Even by the rock-bottom standards of dance movies, the script is abysmal: formulaic and dumb.

It’s about a charisma-free geek called Moose (Adam G. Sevani) who’s studying
engineering at New York University and is best friends with his cute but dull childhood sweetheart (Alyson Stoner). I gather both these characters featured in Step Up 2 The Streets (2008), but I must admit I’d forgotten them. Can’t think why.

Moose meets a big, handsome hunk called Luke (Rick Malambri) who tells him he should be dancing. (Well, obviously he shouldn’t be acting.)

Luke owns a club/dance studio in a Brooklyn warehouse that is to be put up for sale because Luke’s fallen behind with the mortgage payments — so Luke’s dancers
have gotta, just gotta, win first prize in, you guessed it, a street-dancing contest.

It doesn’t seem to have occurred to anyone in Luke’s talented dance group, the Pirates, that Broadway offers paid employment only a few blocks away.

*Rottentomatoes.com
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Step Up 3-D: A kick in the head
By: Jason Anderson
Rated 3/4

Starring Rick Malambri, Adam G. Sevrani and Sharni Vinson. Directed by Jon Chu. 100 minutes. At major theatres. PG

The acting is wooden, the dialogue is bland and the story is ridden with the hoariest of clichés.

Does any of that matter? Of course not. Anyone who buys a ticket, puts on those horn-rimmed glasses and sits down in front of Step Up 3-D cares about one thing. That’s whether the movie delivers the high caliber of tricked-out, hyperbolic routines that avid viewers of So You Think You Can Dance and America’s Best Dance Crew demand from Disney’s dance movie franchise.

What’s more, the prospect of seeing all that popping, locking and head-spinning with an additional dimension not only raises the bar but — in the grand tradition of Jaws 3-D, Amityville 3-D and any other film brave enough to include 3-D right there in the title — hurls it at the camera and expects you to duck.

Thus it is with considerable pleasure I can report that Step Up 3D is as supremely exhilarating and thoroughly terrible as fans of the series might’ve expected.

Getting through the sequences in which characters talk instead of dance posed a challenge to viewers of Step Up’s first two installments. The task is even more arduous here.

It doesn’t help that Jon Chu — who directed 2008’s Step Up 2: The Streets and stoked expectations for this follow-up with his eye-popping series of LXD: Legion of Extraordinary Dancers online clips — is saddled with two of the weakest actors to ever lead a cast. Rick Malambri and Sharni Vinson’s participation here can only be explained by their physical resemblance to the breakout stars of the previous films — Step Up’s Channing Tatum and Step Up 2’s Briana Evigan respectively.

Audiences may be happier to see Adam G. Sevani return in his Step Up 2 role of Moose. A scrawny but remarkably agile lad, Moose is drafted into the Pirates, a predictably rag-tag dance crew led by the noble Luke (Malambri). Natalie (Evigan) is another fresh recruit who comes to live in the Brooklyn warehouse that the Pirates call home.

As they prepare toward a big battle with a rival crew, the Pirates cope with pressures from outside and inside their ranks. Will they be able to win the prize money they need to keep the warehouse from being sold off by the bank? Will love blossom between Luke and Natalie despite her (gasp!) terrible secret?

Again, do you care? No, you don’t, especially not when Step Up 3-D has so much else that’s worthier of your attention, like dancers doing countless gravity-defying flips and spins, fresh moves derived from parkour and capoeira, a stunning homage to Step Up 2’s watery finale, appearances by So You Think You Can Dance faves Twitch and Legacy, a few pipsqueak b-boys and another dancer (Madd Chadd) who raises the Robot to a whole new level of abstraction.

A less hectic sequence in which Sevani dances a retro-’40s routine on a New York street is one of the most delightful things to grace a screen this year.

In other words, the gulf between what’s good and what’s bad in Step Up 3-D almost seems insurmountable. Those who persevere will have many rewards.

*Rottentomatoes

Also up this week is the movie "Middle Men" starring Luke Wilson.

Synopsis: (IMDB)
In 1995, everyone had a VCR, music was sold in record stores, and the world-wide-web was a new found discovery. Businessman Jack Harris (Luke Wilson) had the perfect life a beautiful family and a successful career fixing problem companies. Then he met Wayne Beering (Giovanni Ribisi) and Buck Dolby (Gabriel Macht), two genius but troubled men, who had invented the way adult entertainment is sold over the internet. When Jack agrees to help steer their business, he soon finds himself caught between a 23 year-old porn star and the FBI all the while becoming one of the wealthiest entrepreneurs of his time. Witness a story so outrageous, you won't believe it's true. A story that proves business is a lot like sex getting in is easy, pulling out is hard.



Middle Men is rated R in the States and runs at 105 min.

REVIEWS

'Middle Men': Nudity, sleaze and some very boring financial accounting
By: Moira Macdonald
Rated: 1.5/4

George Gallo's relentlessly trashy comedy- drama "Middle Men" tells the way-too- familiar story of a decent man's downward spiral, with an Internet-porn twist. In a story based on true events, businessman Jack Harris (Luke Wilson) got himself involved in the late 1990s with a pair of idiotic porn entrepreneurs (Giovanni Ribisi, Gabriel Macht) needing help with their billing. Jack sorts them out, and soon gets rich — but his ill-gotten gains bring him not happiness, but an unhappy wife (Jacinda Barrett), a lollipop-chomping porn-star mistress (Laura Ramsey) and unwanted attention from the FBI.

It's a mildly interesting story — remember when using your credit card on the Internet seemed like a daring thing to do? — but Gallo employs a strangely convoluted back-and-forth time structure and an annoying, oddly laconic narrative voice-over by Wilson that promises more than it delivers. ("What happened next, you won't believe!")

We're never given much of a reason to care about Jack and his plight as this dull morality tale winds to its inevitable conclusion, with its parade of ugly yellowy-green interiors and bored-looking strippers, and Wilson's distant performance doesn't help matters. Take away the nudity and sleaze, and at its heart "Middle Men" is about billing. No wonder it needed all the jiggling.

*Rottentomatoes

--------------

By: Marc Savlov
Rated: 3/4

Why this titillating, ripped-from-your-2am-desktop slice of XXX-rated Internet history is receiving such a soft marketing push from distributor Paramount Vantage is beyond me. Like its subject matter, it deserves better. It's the true (albeit embellished, natch) story of the somewhat random birth of organized Internet porn, which, as everyone from your mom to your kids to the Russian mob and the (still incarcerated) gonzo porn magnate Max Hardcore knows is, let's be honest here, what the Net is all about. Or, at least, what 37% of it is about (according to recently released figures courtesy of Internet filtering outfit Optenet). With breezily profane panache and no small debt to both GoodFellas and Boogie Nights, Middle Men journeys backward in Internet history to 1995. It was then that two coked-up ne'er-do-wells – a former NASA technician and certifiable genius with the pitch-perfect name of Buck Dolby (Macht) and manic, chain-smoking sleazoid Wayne Beering (the gleefully anarchic Ribisi) – teamed up to create the first dial-up, porn-on-demand website. They quickly realize that the key to future success (success being relative, this meant more money for blow and hookers) rested on the simplicity – and, more important, the anonymity – of their customers’ burgeoning credit-card payments. Dolby, a computer guru as well as a walking freak-out, wrote the program (literally overnight) for the very first pay-by-credit-card porn site. Regardless of your stance on pornography, Dolby's brainstorm was a revolutionary act in every sense of the term. Their downfall began, predictably, when their success overwhelmed them: too much money and zero business skills. Enter Houston businessman and all-around fixer and family man Jack Harris (Wilson), a calm, cool, and initially very nice fellow who, in a convoluted spiral too complex to get into here, finds himself inexorably pulled into the slimy wake of Dolby and Beering's many meatheaded messes. Some examples: the involvement of ruthless Russian godfather Nikita Sokoloff (the ever-excellent Serbedzija, late of 24), an ill-advised dalliance with porn star Audrey Dawns (Ramsey), and run-ins with the professionally bent attorney Jerry Haggerty (Caan). The expository narration (from Wilson) comes fast, furious, and funny but never slows the gloriously crazed pace of this coke-fueled rocket ride to Planet Sin. With the performances amped up to 11 (including a swell cameo from Forster), you'd think Middle Men would result in a migraine, but that never occurs. Director Gallo, who previously penned Midnight Run and Michael Bay's two Bad Boys actioners, deftly integrates the histrionic historical narrative with endless money shots of Ribisi and Caan sharking it up, with everything set to a mid-Nineties music mix worthy of the worst strip joint you've ever visited (trust me, I've been there). Zealously nasty fun which, surprisingly, ends on something of a note of upbeat grace and familial redemption, Middle Men is more entertaining than 99% of 37% of the Internet.

*Rottentomatoes

--------------

Finally up this week is the anticipated Will Ferrell movie, "The Other Guys".

Synopsis: (IMDB)
erry Hoitz's past mistakes in the line of duty and Allen Gamble's reluctance to take risks have landed them the roles of the "Other Guys", disgraced New York City police detectives relegated to filling out paperwork for cocky hero cops Danson and Highsmith. The mismatched duo must look past their differences when they take on a high-profile investigation of shady capitalist David Ershon and attempt to fill the shoes of the notoriously reckless officers they idolize.



The Other Guys is rated PG-13 in the States and 14A in Canada and runs at 107 min

REVIEWS

By Jeffrey M. Anderson
Rated 3/4
Will Ferrell has developed a perfect comic persona for himself. It's not unlike Charlie Chaplin's "tramp" persona, with all its various juxtapositions and conflicts -- the tight little jacket and baggy pants, for example -- causing comedy at every step. Ferrell presents his big, man's frame and fills it in with girlish behavior (occasionally a role requires boyish behavior, but it's better, as in his biggest success Elf, when it's girlish). Here he wears big glasses and a tight shock of curly hair, with tired-looking beige clothes. Throughout The Other Guys, Ferrell's sidekick Mark Wahlberg throws at him any number of emasculating remarks. His car is "like driving a vagina," or his urine hitting the porcelain "sounds feminine." But Ferrell never blinks, never flinches, because this is what's so funny.

Allen Gamble (Ferrell) is an accountant for the New York Police Department. His partner is detective Terry Hoitz (Mark Wahlberg), who is being punished for a particularly embarrassing incident at Yankee Stadium. The stars of the department are P.K. Highsmith (Samuel L. Jackson) and Christopher Danson (Dwayne Johnson), but Terry hopes that he and his passive partner will be able to step up and be the next stars. They begin to investigate a permit violation, committed by billionaire businessman David Ershon (Steve Coogan), which leads to untold levels of corruption. Of course, the comic cops constantly bungle things up and get themselves in trouble. For example, Allen loses his firearm and gets a wooden "practice" gun instead; later, he's further demoted to a rape whistle.

There are lots of supporting roles and cameos, notably a typically excellent Michael Keaton as the police captain, who must work a second job at Bed, Bath & Beyond to make ends meet. Eva Mendes stars as Allen's wife; the running joke is that he thinks she's "plain," while Terry can't stop staring at her. Bobby Cannavale is a hotshot cop, and Zoe Lister Jones is a therapist.

When the movie focuses on Terry and Allen and their banter, the movie is hilarious, and happily, this is quite often. Unfortunately, director and co-writer Adam McKay fills the movie too full of other characters, plot threads and subplots, and attempts to mimic a straight-ahead cop thriller. McKay (Anchorman, Step Brothers) is a fine comedy director, but his obligatory car chase sequences and shootouts are just plain awful. He clearly has no knack for them, and it's a butchery and a waste of time. (A colleague suggested that they're bad on purpose?) Then the movie suffers from a third-act slowdown, dropping all jokes while McKay wraps up all his plot threads. And McKay wants to know that he's seriously angry about Bernie Madoff-type corporate swindling and gives us a fact-filled credit sequence about tons of money that has illegally changed hands over the years.

Someday filmmakers will learn that comedies are better shorter and leaner, with more emphasis on jokes and characters than on plot. No one laughs at a plot. Meanwhile, there's enough strong Ferrell material here, nicely matched by Wahlberg, to make at least half of a good movie.

*Rottentomatoes








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