Six Reviews in Twelve-ish Paragraphs

I’ve got mini reviews for Terminator: Salvation, Night At The Museum II: Battle of the Smithsonian, Up, Drag Me to Hell, Land of the Lost, and The Hangover. So let’s jump right in, shall we?

Terminator: Salvation

3.5 Stars

It’s a franchise that has a longstanding place in the cannon of sci-fi/action. And McG decides to explore the future-history of Judgement day, focusing more on the action, less on the sci-fi. What made the first two so groundbreaking is that they dealt heavily with the consequences of technological evolutions, as well as the intricacies of time travel. Here we get a war movie, only instead of Allied troops vs. Nazis, it’s the Resistance vs. Robots. But I will give them this, the action was top notch and pulse pounding. And there is a great visual referance to The Great Escape, to more or less drive home the “war-action” point.

Christian Bale turns in a great performance, which are starting to become the standard for him. You also get interesting turns from Bryce Dallas Howard (Spider-Man 3, The Village) and Anton Yelchin (Alpha Dog, Star Trek). I would have actually liked to see more of Anton as Kyle Reese in the movie. But the true powerhouse of the film was Sam Worthington (finally beign introduced to American audiences) as unaware Terminator Marcus Wright. Arguably the best scene in the film goes to him, when he finds out he’s not human. See the film for the action, and Worthington’s performance, but Terminator purists will be disappointed.

Night at the Museum II: Battle of the Smithsonian

3.5 Stars

If you enjoyed the first one, you’ll definitely enjoy the second one. A bunch of very funny actors collaborate (and that’s the key word, they all collaborate) to bring historic characters to life in a very hilarious manner. Amy Adams shines by holding her own in a verible boys club of comedic actors, that includes Ben Stiller, Owen Wilson, Steve Coogan, Robin Williams, Christopher Guest, Ricky Gervais, Bill Hader and Hank Azaria.

Unfortunately with all that does go on in the film, it is a bit scattered, and there’s a chaotic element to it that drags it down. But the film pulls out of the muddled mess to bring it home with a great third act. Definitely one to check out.

Up

5 stars

Pixar continues their hot streak. They’re now 10 for 10 (gonna go 11 for 11 next year with Toy Story 3). Where other animation houses (Dreamworks, Sony, even Pixar’s parent Disney) are more interested in being goofy, and making sure they can do product tie-ins, Pixar is ambitious. They want to tell a wonderful, emotional story, and present some of the most beautiful pieces of animation out there. And they do it. I will admit to getting a little misty eyed during Up. And no, not at the end. Within the first 10 minutes.

Ed Asner is pitch perfect as the curmodgeony Carl Frederickson. He’s lived in the same house for fifty years, and wants to honour his recently deceased wife by going on an adventure to South America, and takes the house along with him. It’s my second favourite Pixar film (behind Wall-E) and third favourite animated film (behind Beauty and the Beast and Wall-E).

Drag Me To Hell

4 stars

One thing director Sam Raimi knows is horror. He can scare the crap out of you, and make you laugh in the same scene. And with Drag Me To Hell, he returns to his Evil Dead/Army of Darkness roots. Not a scare is wasted in this tale of revenge and gypsy curses. It’s helped by the great performance of Alison Lohman in the principle role.

It does get admittedly cheesey at parts, but it’s hard to really call that a fault, since that’s Raimi’s style. And luckily for the audience, we’re given a completely satisfying ending. This is light-years beyond the normal drivel that passes for horror these days.

Land of the Lost

2.5 stars

It’s hard to figure out what they wanted to do with this film. Keep true to the spirit of the original show, or make a Will Ferrell movie (that also features the hilarious Danny McBride, currently batting a thousand). Unfortunately, they said ‘Screw it!’ and did both. And it just doesn’t work. It’s much more risque than I had expected. Not that I’m a prude or anything, far from it, I just expected a nice family film.

But, in taking it as what it is, it still offers up some good laughs, and keeps in the cheesey spirit of the show. Danny McBride is, as stated earlier, hilarious. His interactions with Cha-Ka provide for some of the best scenes. And Anna Friel provides a good balance to the macho humour of the two leads.

The Hangover

4 stars

In the grand tradition of Bachelor Party and Very Bad Things, we get a guys night out that goes horribly hay-wire, with hilarious consequences. What’s great is that we never see the night of debauchery. We’re left to piece together the night along with groomsmen, who are trying to locate the now missing groom. It’s full of raunch and ridiculous shenanigans, but anybody who’s taken part in a bachelor party (be it in Vegas or not) can relate to something these four do.

Bradley Cooper is funny, and, with his performance, reminds us to ask the question, “Why isn’t he a bigger star?” Comedian Zach Galafianakis finally gets the credit he is due with a starring role in this dark comedy. Definitley the comedy of the year, and for the first time in four years, it doesn’t feature Seth Rogan.

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