Percy Jackson and the Olympian: Lightning Thief

Swanner: Now that the Harry Potter series is coming to an end, studios are all scrambling to bring in the next big kids franchise. Percy Jackson is definitely vying for that position. The story tells the story of Percy who we find out right away is the son of Poseidon. His Uncle Zeus has had his all powerful lightning bolt stole and all signs point to Percy. Why they point at Percy we never know but were told they do. So we follow Percy as he try’s to clear his name and who the real thief is.

Judd: Great, another movie series about an awkward half-breed teenager with super powers. What’s wrong with kids today? Back in my day we were found solace in “Are You There God? It’s Me Margaret.” And that was good enough for me. I’m glad you hit the biggest plot hole in your summary. Why did all the gods assume that Percy Sledge stole the lighting bolt? He wasn’t aware of his heritage; he had no motive; he had not ability — yet he was saddled with proving his innocence? It didn’t make sense.

Swanner: Director Chris Columbus does what he does best here … he introduces young people who are awkward and on the outside of the norm. Of course most teenagers feel they don’t fit in so Percy will seem very much familiar. Columbus does a good job with the actors and the special effects are good considering the budget must be much lower than the Harry Potter films. It was paced really well and with the exception of the whole lightning thief accusation if kept my attention.

Judd: I was a little hesitant about the movie. Wizards and warlock aren’t my thing, throw teenagers into the mix and I’m really turned off. However, I do believe that everyone needs to see the movie just for the scene when Uma Thurman came out as Medusa while channeling Norma Desmond. Fabulous!

Swanner: Uma always adds so much to any movie she’s in. The main cast is pretty much all unknowns but there are some veterans in the cast including Pierce Brosnan, Steve Coogan, Catherine Keener, Rosario Dawson and Sean Bean. I do know this comes from a series of novels written by Rick Riordan with the screenplay by Craig Titley. The only problem for me comes from the script and the confusion we discussed at the beginning of the review. I liked it and I hope it does well enough to see another installment.

Judd: Action Jackson was better than I expected — at least it wasn’t a two and half hour movie about an obstacle course. Goblet of Fire, anyone? I would say the writing is on par with Harry Potter and much better than Twighlight. I can also see Logan Lerman becoming the next Zac Effron. The series has a bright future..

Swanner: 1/2

Judd: 1/2

The Wolfman

Swanner: It’s three days till Valentine’s day and the people at Universal studio’s have decided The Wolfman is the perfect movie to release for all those lovers. What’s better than seeing someone’s heart being pulled out and eaten by a Wolfman on the holiday that salutes love. Come to think about it … maybe this is perfect counter programming.

Judd: Given the choice between The Wolfman and all the holiday schlock, I’d see The Wolfman. Of course, that doesn’t say a whole lot. The film starring Benicio Del Toro, Anthony Hopkins, Hugo Weaving and Emily Blunt is a re-imagining of the old Lon Chaney Jr. Wolf Man movies about a man that returns to his homeland only to be bitten and infected by a werewolf. The weird thing is how much Del Toro resembles Cheney.

Swanner: What I missed here was the heart of the story which was how much he hated what he had become. I guess that’s not really up Del Toro if it’s not written in the script but I did miss it. Was it a deal breaker…no. The production design is amazing in the film. Shadowy and dark with the colors muted and spooky. I also thought the pacing was really good considering it’s done in such a gothic manner. That really doesn’t surprise me when you have a director like Joe Johnston who was able to breath new life into Jurassic Park III. I was sure that franchise was dead and his third installment was better than Spielberg’s Lost World.

Judd: Lack of heart is my biggest problem with the film. Even the romance between Del Toro and Blunt fell a bit flat, and I also agree that the fault is in the script, not the actors. The only character that was felt fully fleshed out was Anthony Hopkins as Del Toro’s father. As far as the look of the film… It looked too much like any other modern period creature feature. All the men wear handlebar mustaches and, snap, you’re in Victorian era London.

Swanner: I loved the facial hair and seriously…it was the 1890’s and that was the style. I thought the film was very beautiful to look at considering it’s mostly done in grays and blacks it had a lush feel but I didn’t even think that Del Toro and Blunt even came close to calling that a romance, I know that was implied that they were starting to have feeling but it was never more than a few goofy looks. Of course that might have been second base in it’s day. I liked the movie scares and all.

Judd: You love the facial hair because you used to wear it like that. And yes, I’m jealous. I wish I could grow a bushy fumanchu.

Swanner: ½
Judd: ½

Valentine's Day

Swanner: February always offers up romantic comedies to keep all the lovers out there tingling…but for some people the thought of Valentine’s Day is just another way to show the world you’re alone. No cards or flowers received just dinner alone with the cat. These rom-com can sometimes be torture for the lonely and alone so I’ve asked Brian to play the role of the lonely, rejected, loveless creature that has to face Valentine’s day by themselves…enter Brian.

Judd: A rom0com is a rom0com is a rom0com (except 500 Days of Summer). They’re all hackneyed, half-assed attempts, where the writers and directors phone it in because they know no matter what fecal matter they fling at the screen, fat, unattractive, middle-aged women and gays are going to flock to it for a brief escape from their lives where their inattentive husbands are more interested in television and the internet than they are in their spouses’ bloating carcasses. The sword cuts both ways, you fat cow.

Swanner: The new film, Valentine’s Day, follows the lives of a very large group of people who crisscross each others paths over the duration of February 14th. Director Garry Marshall brings together some very big named stars to make this all seem familiar. I know they were hoping for Love Actually but what they got was more The Love Boat. It was a nice try but too many storylines makes all the stories seem short on any real substance.

Judd: In other words, Marshall tried to shove 10 pounds of crap into a 5 pound bag. Julia Roberts, Bradley Cooper, Eric Dane, Patrick Dempsey, Jessica Biel, Jessica Alba, Topher Grace, Anne Hathaway … let me catch me breath … Jamie Foxx, Jennifer Garner, Ashton Kutcher, Taylor Lautner, Taylor Swift, Kathy Bates, Hector Elizondo, Shirley MacLaine, and George Lopez all star in this travesty on the silver screen. There were 8+ story lines all taking place at the same time in a 2 hour movie. I thought it was going to be a convoluted mess. What I got was a plot that was about as intricate as a Dick and Jane picture book.

Swanner: It was a bit messy. I think what it needed was a good trim down. There were some storylines they didn’t go far enough with (Eric Dane) and some they went too far (getting rid of the Taylors storyline would have cut at least 10 minutes of this movie) On the subject of Taylor Swift, she was horrible. We were actually holding back the laughter during her first scene because she was so awful. I’m sure we’ll be seeing Miss Swift at next years Razzies because she was Elizabeth Berkley bad.

Judd: I have never see acting as bad as Taylor Swift. Never. And I’ve watched Tara Reid in Alone in the Dark and Halle Berry in Catwoman. They look like Julliard trained thespians compared to Swift. The only benefit she brought to the film was that it gave a reason for Taylor Lautner to be on screen – though unfortunately he kept his shirt on. Oh my god, I sound like you.

Swanner: I just heard that the studio is so confident with the success of this movie that they have already ordered a sequel called New Years Eve. Just when people aren’t suicidal enough they come along with yet another couple oriented holiday.

Judd: Oh, Christ. But you know, I don’t think that fact that Valentine’s Day isn’t very good and doesn’t have much of a plot is going to hurt its box office. Avatar is proof that any crappy movie with a glossy sheen can triumph. V.D. has a cast that will draw in women from every imaginable demographic, from Lautner’s Twi-Hards to MacLaine’s mummified fans. They’re going to go to the film just so they can stare at their favorite movie star going gaga for love.

Swanner: Avatar was great but otherwise I agree with you.

Judd: No Stars

Dear John/From Paris with Love

Swanner: Sometimes we have screening on the same night and when it’s the only two movies coming out that week…Brian and I will each take a movie. This week we had that very thing happen. Brian refused to see Dear John because he felt the onsite of diabetes just from watching the preview. I wanted to see Dear John more anyway so he saw From Paris with Love and I drooled over Channing Tatum and cried a lot.

Judd: Yes, while you were drooling over Channing, I was drooling over the man with the sapphire eyes, Jonathan Rhys-Meyers. From Paris With Love is comedy/caper co-starring a thick-around-the-middle John Travolta who is a Black Ops agent looking to destroy a terrorist cell located somewhere in Paris.

Swanner: Mine was about two star-crossed lovers who spent two amazing hours not quite getting together. Channing Tatum plays John, a military man on leave in North Carolina where is meets lovely Amanda Seyfried who is on break from school. After two weeks they are in love. He goes back to the military and her to school where they write to each other everyday…I’m starting to well up again.

Judd: So basically your movie was Trick + The Notebook. Gross. I would consider From Paris with Love one of the first action films to get us past our January slump. It’s not a great movie, but it’s definitely worth a matinee or rent. John Travolta is over the top and borderline campy. There is plenty of blood and gore, not to mention the ending is probably the exact opposite of Dear John. I won’t give it away, but I was supremely satisfied.

Swanner: These two poor kids had everything thrown at them. The movie takes place before 9/11 so he feel compelled to reenlist at the end of his military time even though she’s waiting for him and it just goes on from there. What I really liked about the movie was the chemistry between the stars. We’ve been complaining that the casting of actors has been way off in the rom-com area but here they worked great together to the point I’d feel guilty trying to wedge myself between the two of them.

Judd: I will say that I don’t think the chemistry between Travolta and Rhys-Meyers was all there, which I blame on the direction. Travolta had such a campy presence that he overshadowed Rhys-Meyers who’s supposed to be a straight-laced Ambassador’s assistant. There were moments where they clicked, but overall the movie was the Travolta show — especially during the shoot ‘em up sequences.

Swanner: As a rom-com goes this one works pretty well. As I said the chemistry is good and the actors are attractive. The story does try to ring out the tears but tears equal box-office. Did I mention how amazing Channing Tatum looked in this film?

Judd: I’m sure Channing didn’t look as good has Rhys-Meyers. I’m glad you enjoyed your movie and I’m glad I had something else to see that night. It wasn’t great, but it was a lot of fun

Dear John:

From Paris with Love: ½

When In Rome

Swanner: A new screwball comedy When in Rome arrives in theatres just in time for Valentine’s Day. It tells the story of a women (Kristen Bell) who takes five coins from an Italian fountain known as the fountain of love, but now the men who threw the coins are now madly in love with her and follow her back to New York. This film asks its audience to suspend a lot of disbelief but as silly as it is it was still likable.

Judd: Suspend disbelief? The movie asks it’s viewers to take their disbelief and completely chuck it out the window! I went into this movie with some glimmers of hope. I like Kristen Bell and I like looking at Josh Duhamel. I was looking forward to seeing the beauty of Rome and Dax Shepard’s body (who knew?). When Anjelica Huston stepped onto the screen, my heart soared — but was then trampled by a foolish story, and 15 minutes of a styrofoam fountain built on some studio backlot decorated to look Rome-esque. The rest of the movie takes place in New York. I didn’t know ‘When in Rome’ was supposed to be a question.

Swanner: As I mentioned the film is fashioned after the 30’s screwball comedy. You will have the wacky characters and the silly storyline but I will agree that at times it was hard to not throw up your hands and race to your car. It does actually have a very impressive cast. Danny Devito, Will Arnett and Jon Heder are three of the men pursuing her along with Duhamel and Shepard, so you have to wonder what they saw about the film that got them on board.

Judd: I know the movie was fashioned after a 1930’s screwball; in fact I kept waiting for one of the Marx Brothers to show up or Anjelica Huston to get a pie in the face. But the fact remains that it’s a lazy script that explains everything away through really, REALLY convenient coincidences. Like the fact that all the coins she pulled out of the fountain belonged to people in NYC. Or the fact that she lost the showpiece for her exhibit at the Guggenheim but that’s OK because Josh Duhamel, a sports writer, just so happens to have a never-before-seen piece of work lying about his apartment.

Swanner: Yes, it was missing Margaret Dumont with pearls and a pie. I must admit that when the film burned on screen an hour into the film and you turned to me and said “even the projector can’t handle another minute of this movie” I understood where you were coming from. The film is likable on a very basic level (basic level means either too drunk, stoned or dumb to question) so for that audience they’ll have a good time. For everyone else…rent 27 Dresses.

Judd: No Stars

Edge of Darkness

Swanner: Mel Gibson plays a cop whose daughter is gunned down as she walks out the front door and Mel thinks the killers are after him. Of course, if you’ve seen the preview you know that his daughter is into something that got her killed and this dad/cop is going to do whatever it takes to find out who killed her and why. Mel Gibson stars in his first movie in over seven years … but was it worth the trouble?

Judd: Before I begin, it seems whenever I tell someone that I often go to a movie with preconceived notions they get offended. “How can you give an unbiased review if you’ve already made up your mind before seeing the movie?” they ask, pearls clutched firmly in hand. I went into Edge of Darkness knowing that I was going to hate it, but in instances when a movie is actually good, the film can prove my expectation wrong. So, to answer your question is Edge of Darkness worth the trouble, my answer is a resounding yes!

Swanner: I’m really glad to hear that. I was pleasantly surprised too. I was expecting an all out action picture much like Taken was last year but this is much more a thriller. Gibson’s character turns vigilante as everyone he talks to that’s associated to his daughter is in fear of their own lives. As the body count rises on the good guys’ side, Gibson starts taking out the bad guys.

Judd: The movie worked really well for me because the pace at which the story unfolded was perfect. We only got little bits at a time, but the movie was never slow and it never felt like it was intentionally messing with its audience. There were no distracting red herrings; we knew what Mel knew; his intense and frustrating search was our search. I also like the fact that the movie didn’t rely on gooey sentimentalism. It was peppered throughout the film, but it was just enough. Director Martin Campbell knew Mel’s daughter’s death was the driving force, but didn’t bludgeon us over the head with it.

Swanner: I did get tired of every time Mel would question someone they would say they can’t tell him because they feared for their lives and then ended up dead…why not just kill Mel? Sure there wouldn’t be a movie but if they are protecting the “big” secret why not end Mel’s search? The action sequences in the film are well done but not over done like most vigilante films. I also liked the ending a lot so the film was really a surprise for me. It’s not the best of its kind but for a movie coming out in January … hurray!

Judd: Maybe my view is skewed because this is the first decent movie of the year, but I think Edge of Darkness could hold its own if it were released in spring or autumn. The story was good, the action was good and bloody, but not grotesque, and the ending was satisfying. I think it was a very good movie.


Judd: ½