She's Out of My League

Swanner: Can a relationship work when you have an average looking guy and an above average girl? That’s the premise to She’s Out of My League. Kirk and Molly are really clicking till they start listening to their friends and family who say a 5 can’t date a 10. Can these two make it when the numbers are against them? It’s a romantic comedy so we know how these movies end but does this comedy work? I think it works brilliantly in what is a big breath of fresh air especially after so many rom-coms of recent just haven’t.

Judd: I have to disagree, and it’s not because I don’t like rom-coms in general. I think that She’s Out of My League plays it extremely safe for a supposedly adult oriented R rated comedy. I felt like it was a PG-13 rom-com with a really foul mouth. There were some funny moments and some funny characters, but overall the movie was bland. Apatow alum Jay Baruchel plays the lead in an endearing, self-effacing way. Relative unknowns TJ Miller, Mike Vogel and Nate Torrence are great as the friends – especially Nate “Young Tom Swanner” Torrence. My only casting complaint is that Debra Jo Rupp was woefully underused.

Swanner: What’s so funny is that Debra Jo Rupp is probably the most recognized cast member…which tells you this is a cast of unknowns. I think you are totally wrong here. It’s has a young funny cast and a good script with a relatively new director. I know in most cases that would spell disaster but I found the characters likable (especially our leads) which is something that’s been vacant in many of the rom-coms we’ve seen lately. I know you’re going to say that I’m comparing it to the crap we’ve seen but I think this really is a keeper. I’m really looking forward to seeing it again.

Judd: Guy oriented rom-coms are always better than girl oriented rom-coms — the lead males are usually likable goofballs, whereas in girl-oriented rom-coms the lead females are usually intolerable harpies. She’s Out of My League isn’t a failure, but it’s not a complete success either. I think audiences are going to expect more than what the movie delivers in terms of laughs. I know I expected a lot more when I saw the R-rating and read about the “couch scene” — which was funny, but could have been funnier.

Swanner: ½

Judd: ½

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Green Zone

Swanner: Matt Damon and director Paul Greengrass have joined forces again in the new film the Green Zone. This time around Damon isn’t playing Jason Bourne he’s playing Roy Miller, a Chief Warrant Officer who discovers a major cover up that deals with the validity of the WMD (weapons of mass destruction) that were the main reason the United States invaded Iraq in 2003.

Judd: Unlike the slick Bourne movies, Green Zone is rough and raw — meaning it used crappy film stock and a cameraman suffering from the Parkinson’s. There’s not a whole lot I can say about the movie because it is a genre I detest. I don’t like war movies; I think they’re boring. I will say that the whole movie, including the plot twist, is summed up in the trailer. With all that, I think that fans of the genre will enjoy Green Zone. There are a multitude of explosions with a soupcon of anti-government sentiment.

Swanner: I did turn to Brian at the beginning of the movie and offered him some gum once I realized it was going to be two hours of shaking camera work … it helps calm the nausea. I’m not a big fan of the war movies either. There is always too much gunfire and a lot of people yelling in a foreign language. The last 20 minutes I have no idea what was happening. That aside, the movie moves very well and yes, the fans of this genre will really like this movie.

Judd: Reviewing this movie is like reviewing a meal at a franchise restaurant. It’s not bad, but it’s certainly not remarkable, and it’s pretty much the same as everything else on the menu. Matt Damon is fine as Roy Miller and Greg Kinnear is definitely adequate as the bad guy. The movie doesn’t take any chances, delivers what it promises, and that’s that. It follows a well established formula and serves up a heaping helping of mediocrity.

Swanner: I guess I liked the movie better than you, but you are right … we know the story, we’ve seen the preview and we have seen this kind of movie before. Mix that with the horrible camera work and you’ve got two hours of shooting and action sequences … I like this movie a lot more before we talked about it.

Judd: As a reviewer, this kind of movie annoys me the most. They don’t deserved to be trashed, but they don’t deserve any real praise. It’s just … there. It exists. That’s all there is to it. There’s no reason to rush out and see it. If you miss it at the theatres, you’re not missing much. A similar movie is going to be made in a couple months from now.

Swanner: I’m going to say that if you like these kind of movies you should go see it in the theatre. It’s the kind of movie that is always better on the big screen but just remember to bring your Dramamine.

Swanner: 1/2

Judd:

Alice in Wonderland

Swanner: Do you remember the first time you saw The Wizard of Oz? The wonder you felt as Dorothy landed in Munchkinland and started her journey down the yellow brick road. That’s what I was feeling last night as I saw Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland. Alice falls down the rabbit hole and discovers a familiar world from a dream she had as a child. Of course this is no dream and we are lucky enough to join Alice as she rediscovers Wonderland.

Judd: Rediscover — that’s the key word. I have a feeling that a lot of people are going to see this with the idea that this is a remake or a combination of all Alice in Wonderland movies. I know I did. For those people, it is key to understand that this is basically a sequel to the Alice stories. That being said, I think that except for the last 5 minutes where the movie’s music and mood became uncharacteristically modern, I agree that the whole film is a delight to see.

Swanner: I’ve been hearing rumbles from the purists that the film doesn’t follow the books and to that I say it didn’t bother me in the least. I always found the books to be a little too much of an acid trip. Burton wanted to keep the oddities but make them palatable for today’s audiences. I really like how fleshed out the characters were from Alice and The Mad Hatter to Bayard, the hound dog and the Dormouse. When all is said and done the real star is Helena Bonham Carter as the Red Queen. She will be legend in film history as one of the great villainesses along side the likes of Ursula, Maleficent or Cruella DeVille.

Judd: You nailed it head with development of character. Johnny Depp is fantastic as The Mad Hatter; he gives the Hatter real depth and range of emotion which was fantastic to see. And I have to say that Helena Bonham Carter’s Red Queen is my new favorite villain. Again we are given back-story and reasons for why she is so evil. Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland is to the Lewis Carroll stories as Wicked is to The Wizard of Oz.

Swanner: That’s exactly how I felt through the movie. I felt like a child watching something new and amazing. We did see it at the IMAX in 3D which was wonderful all on it’s own but the 3D does to Alice what it did to Up. It makes it more beautiful and sharp but seeing this in 2D would be fine. Still this is one of those movies that should be seen in theatres. The visual elements are fantastic and the journey is worth taking. This will be great of DVD but it should be experienced at least once on the big screen.

Judd: Let’s not forget to mention the makeup and costumes, they’re are absolutely brilliant. Alice is definitely a lock for the artistic awards next year. Makeup and Design for sure. I would even say Costumes, but I’m sure some boring Elizabethan piece that 5 people will see at the theatres will take that one.

Swanner: 1/2

Judd:

Brooklyn's Finest

Swanner: This week Brian and I went to see Brooklyn’s Finest. This is a gritty film about some of the police officers from precinct 65 in Brooklyn New York. Now when you use the word finest in the title I’m expect better than what we got. This two hour and fifteen minute film offers some really good performances that are marred by some really terrible performances and a barely memorable storyline.

Judd: The storyline summed up: three miserable people with miserable lives doing miserable jobs. Roll credits. For those of you who need a little more info, Richard Gere is a week away from retiring and gets assigned to the worst neighborhood in Brooklyn yet he doesn’t call in sick. Ethan Hawke is a Catholic with no qualms against killing and stealing, but morally against condoms. Don Cheadle is an undercover narc who can’t seem to figure out how to get his promotions in writing.

Swanner: You really did a good job with that synopsis. I loved how in the last fifteen minutes they tried to pull a Crash ending on us and of course we groaned out loud…that was pretty amusing. As I mentioned earlier there were some really good performances. Don Cheadle and Wesley Snipes were both good. Richard Gere really made me believe he was getting Oral Sex from that prostitute and Brian F. O’Byrne gave the best performance as Hawke’s partner/friend. Those are the better performances.

Judd: All the performances were fine, but the script and direction is awful. I failed to feel any sort of connection with any of the characters. When you make a movie about a Born Loser, the audience needs to feel that the character does the things he does out of desperation — that there is no other choice. These men had options, yet they wallowed in their own misery.

Swanner: All the performances were not fine. Ethan Hawke was ridiculous and Ellen Barkin as Agent Smith … laughable. You are right about making a movie about these guys who are at the end of their proverbial ropes, the audience has a hard time cheering them on since they have nothing going for them. I think that’s why I liked O’Byrne’s character so much.

Judd: Ethan Hawke was dirty, that’s why you didn’t like him. At least he had his shirt off for a good portion of the movie. Ellen Barkin was AWFUL! Someone needs to tell her that squinting does not automatically make you a badass. I have no problems rooting for the bad guy, but in Brooklyn’s Finest, these guys aren’t really bad as much as they are pathetic.

Swanner: ½
Judd:

Shutter Island

Swanner: I feel really bad for this movie because the preview on the film gives the whole story away. The reason I feel bad is that the movie is actually very good and it deserves some attention. To get over that hurdle at my screening I just pretended I had read the novel by Dennis Lehane, so even though I knew the story I was watch the movie to see what director Martin Scorsese was going to do with this very stylish thriller.

Judd: You’re always claiming that you’ve figured out the end of a movie by the time the lights have dimmed. Sometimes I believe you, but most times I think you’re being pompous. This time I believe you. I figured out the twist within the first 45 minutes of this 2 hour and 18 film. Shutter Island is about two US Marshalls, played by Leonardo DiCaprio and Mark Ruffalo, who go to an Alcatraz-like maximum security mental institution to investigate a case of a missing patient. Shortly after their arrival, the audience is led to believe there are more sinister machinations at hand.

Swanner: I thought you were going to make fun of me for claiming I would ever read a novel. You’re right, I don’t know how many minutes but I had figured the twist as well. The interesting thing is it didn’t matter to me…not with this film. Scorsese really had fun f***ing with the audience, constantly throwing out clues and red harings faster than rip off a band aid. He also had a lot of fun bringing back a 50’s feeling but keeping it very contemporary. It’s a beautiful film to look at and a lot of that credit goes to the production design and cinematography.

Judd: I agree, the film does have a phenomenal look and feel. The whole atmosphere is creepy. Everyone thinks about the 50s as “the good ol’ days” and that juxtaposed against the danger and reality of the hospital, it’s definitely unsettling. The problem with the clues at the beginning is that anyone who’s a real fan of psycho-thrillers is going to pick them out right away. Scorsese tipped too much too early.

Swanner: I thought the acting was really good. I’m still having a problem with DiCaprio looking so young. He’s 36 but he still looks 16. I’m probably the only one that has this problem but I felt the same way in a the last few films he’s made. His youthfulness is distracting even though I think he always give incredible performances. The rest of the cast has really good and they looked like they belonged in the time period. I do want to mention that Mark Ruffalo is adorable and should do more movies shirtless

Judd: Only in Swannerland is looking too young a problem. None of the performances are Oscar worthy, but they are all good performances. Ben Kingsley was properly restrained, which lately he’s been getting borderline campy in his delivery. If the movie had not been so predictable I would rate the movie much, much higher.

Swanner: 1/2

Judd:

The Crazies

Swanner: In a small Iowa town some of the neighbors are acting pretty strange. The Sheriff (Timothy Olyphant) and his Doctor wife (Radha Mitchell) are discovering that they a handful of survivors that aren’t loosing their minds … or are they? Turns out the towns water is tainted after a government plane crashes that was carrying a new chemical warfare agent. Now the government has arrived to help with the clean up of the town and as usual the government has has another meaning to the phrase “clean up the town”.

Judd: This is a remake George Romero’s The Crazies released in 1973. Romero is known for creating zombie films that have a political message or make the viewer think; while the plot of this remake is slightly different, the scares are still genuine and Romero’s talent for making thought-provoking horror is still very much intact.

Swanner: One of Romero’s signature plot twists is leaving the characters doomed with very little chance for salvation. Director Breck Eisner keeps that thread running throughout this remake. I’m tired of watching films where I never worry about certain characters because there is a blue print for making horror movies that says these people have to live. That doesn’t apply here. Anyone can die and that had me on edge.

Judd: I was going to start complaining about horror movies “these days” but there was a lot of crap put out during the late 70’s through 80’s halcyon days of horror films. Guys like George Romero, Wes Craven and John Carpenter were a cut above and rose above the rest. It’s unfortunate that The Crazies is a remake, because I think that Breck Eisner has shown he has a knack for directing horror. As I said before, the scares are genuine and he doesn’t depend on cheap “jumping at shadows” thrills. The violence is graphic, but not gross and the characters aren’t just stereotypes.

Swanner: I know the original spent more time with the military but I like that we stayed with the survivors. The military storyline unveils itself in time and I really grew to like our protagonists. I also liked that they didn’t try to make this a star vehicle. Olyphant and Mitchell have had their successes but this is a genre driven film with a pretty much unknown cast and that really makes it work. It was scary but its more creepy since this feels more real than most of its “zombie” counterparts.

Judd: I think the real performer to watch here is Joe Anderson as Deputy Russell Clank. His character is offers the most range from the beginning of the movie until the end, and Anderson fully embodies it. Not to mention he’s easy on the eyes. What’s more amazing is that I had no idea he’s British until I looked him up online, because let me tell you he pulled off the Wranglers and the fumanchu really, really well. He didn’t literally pull them off, though I wish he would have … never mind. I sound like Tom.

Swanner:

Judd: ½