Cowboys & Aliens

Well, The Singing Hot Dogs hiatus has finally ended. After taking time to get our favorite puppy dog back to health, we can start going to some movies again. Although one of the best movie evenings was going down to the Galaxy Drive-In and seeing Paul and Sucker Punch. What made it great was that we got to take the dog….threw out a blanket and had a great time under the stars watching drive-in style.

But, now the triple digit temperatures have pretty much forced our movie watching back indoors. Today was the day for Cowboys & Aliens.  I sure wish the Singing Hot Dog were coming back under more favorable circumstances. My better half was entertained, but being produced by Steven Speilberg (Saving Private Ryan, Jurassic Park), Ron Howard and Brian Grazer (Apollo 13, A Beautiful Mind), I certainly expected much more. Heck, what was I thinking though, after all the title of the film is Cowboys and Aliens, what did I want, A story perhaps.

This story is all over the place. With characters such as cowboys, Apache indians, aliens, spaceships….the story is as convoluted as it’s characters. Daniel Craig (Casino Royal) stars as Jake Lonergan, a cowboy that wakes up with no memory and a strange bracelet. Harrison Ford (Raiders of the lost ark, Star Wars) also stars as Woodrow Dolarhyde, a rancher who is going after his abducted brat of a son. Neither performance was outstanding, both seemed to go through the necessary motions earning them the big summer block buster paycheck.

The aliens were nothing special, you have seen these aliens in a dozen other sci-fi movies. The action sequences were average as well. This wasn’t the worst movie I have seen by any means. It had a few good moments, but those moments were so few and far between that this movie fell pretty flat. I didn’t walk out of the theatre…mainly because it was air-conditioned! If you want to see this, I would wait for the dvd. You aren’t missing too much.

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Machete

Machete, an entire movie spawned from the spoof trailer from the Grindhouse double feature. This wasn’t as bad as a lot of the movies that are spin offs from small Saturday Night Live skits, but it was about what I expected. This is a very basic story of revenge. Machete the ex-Federale, played by Danny Trejo, is seeking revenge after his family was murdered and he was left for dead by drug kingpin Torrez, played by Steven Seagal (Above the Law, Executive Decision).

After seeing the Grindhouse double feature in the theatre, I really wanted director Robert Rodriguez (Sin City, Once Upon a Time in Mexico) to take advantage of the campy 70s film techniques like scratches, pops, missing scenes, film going askew and things of this nature. That was non existant except for the credit sequence. Yes, the film stock hard a certain color about it giving it a nostalgic feel, but not near the fun Planet Terror was. To me the film never really took off the way Planet Terror of From Dusk Til Dawn did. The characters were a lot of fun though, with a fitting role for Lindsay Lohan (Mean Girls, Georgia Rule). Robert DeNiro (Heat, Godfather  2, Taxi Driver) and Cheech Marin (Tin Cup, Up In Smoke) also have roles as well.

So, would I recommend this movie, it might be an entertaining film at home on a Saturday afternoon as a rental. Nothing special about seeing this on the bog screen.

The American

After seeing Piranha 3D, finally a film worth talking about. After watching the trailer for this film and having in mind The Bourne movies and one of mu favorites, James Bond, I was expecting an action movie. This film is far from it. You won’t find that kind of action here. This is a very good character driven film that is very thought-provoking in it’s mood and style. It plays out almost like an art house film.

The American is about a hitman who is wanting out of the business, and has agreed to take on one last job. George Clooney (Oceans Eleven, Syriana) does a wonderful job at underplaying this character. His character is intelligent, quiet, and paranoid about being tracked down. The story unfolds in a very low-key style that is refreshing for an agent movie. The Kudos of this film go to the cinematographer. This film presents some of the most interesting and dramatic camera shots in a long time. If you see the film, take a note of the shot of Clooney in the cafe with his back to the window, or even the car traveling in front of the mountains….really great camera work here!

The American was not at all what I expected, but none the less, still loved this film. Its ideas, thoughts and imagery were all that much more of a surprise in a film like this. If you want my recommendation, it is worth seeing for sure.

PIRANHA 2010

Wow, it’s been a while and been very quiet on the movie front lately. Seems like the crop of movies this year are very lame, and this one falls right in line. Being a fan of the original Roger Corman camp classic Piranha, I was curious about this one, but not expecting much after the trailers looked absolutely terrible.

The film has a few really good cast members, Elisabeth Shue (Leaving Las Vegas, Back to the Future trilogy) and Ving Rhames (Mission Impossible). For those expecting Elisabeth Shue in a bikini….in 3D (O.T. Ross) that scene never comes. However this film seems to put nudity above everything else in the film, even above story and effects. The 3D in this movie is so lame it looks as if high school students did this after a few beers on a single Friday night. How they got big name actors to jump in this one, who knows. Especially Richard Dreyfuss (Jaws, The Goodbye Girl), who seems to be reprising his role of Matt Hopper, even though his last name is different in the credits, does this guy just need a paycheck or what?

Well, my advice for this movie, for the same money you can go get a 6 pack of beer and rent Girls Gone Wild. This movie is not even one of those guilty  horror movie pleasures like Anaconda or Lake Placid. To me this film was lame on every front…..I want my money back!

TOY STORY 3

Boy have I been slacking off. Can’t seem to get a review written in a decent amount of time. Where does all the time go. By now I am sure everyone has seen Toy Story 3, maybe even twice. Yes, twice….it is that good of film.

Andy is going to college, and his last thing to do before leaving is cleaning his room. Deciding what is to be thrown out, what needs to go in the attic. Woody, Tom Hanks (Apollo 13, Forrest Gump) wants to make sure all the toys stay together and get put in the attic. In a mix up, Buzz, Tim Allen (Galaxy Quest)  and the gang, Jessie, Joan Allen (The Contender), Mr Potato Head, Don Rickles (Toy Story 1, Toy Story 2), Hamm, John Ratzenburger (Cheers) end up at the local daycare.

The daycare is run by an abused teddy bear Latso voiced by Ned Beatty (Superman the movie) and recommends Andy’s toys go to the younger kids that are to young for them. A play scene demonstrates that, a scene pt together with editing and cuts to rival, any decent war movie! Of course Woody can’t have this, and the rescue is on. I won’t give a lot away, but they encounter a Ken doll, Michael Keaton (Batman), that falls in love with who else…Barbi from Andy’s group of toys.

As far as what I thought of this movie, it is a must see. I really can’t think of a trilogy that has been as strong as these three Toy Story movies. Star Wars had a weaker Return of the Jedi, and even the Godfather, although the first two are two of the finest films ever made, it has the weak link of number three. With Toy Story, you love the first one and the sequels you love even more. And just as UP was able to reach an emotional cord with adults, Toy Story 3 with have adults tearing up thinking of their childhood, friendships and family. Toy Story 3 is the best summer movie so far, and one of the best of the year! See it….a couple of times!

Shrek: Happily Ever After

Well, just for the simple fact that there was nothing else starting this past weekend, Shrek was the movie to see. I did have some interest in the movie having loved the first two, but the third film made me skeptical about seeing this one. The basic plot for this film is that Shrek wants to be the Ogre he used to be, just for a day. Of  course signing the deal with Rumpelstiltskin, he failed to read the fine print of the contract. Shrek has to give up a day in exchange, and that days happens to alter the course of history and Shrek needs to find his way back.

As with the first two ,movies, Eddie Murphy (Beverley Hills Cop, The Golden Child) is the highlight. Donkey has some great lines and some very funny scenes, especially meeting Shrek and not knowing who he is because of the alternate reality. Mike Meyers (Wayne’s World) and Cameron Diaz (There’s Something About Mary, Vanilla Sky) are of course Shrek and Fiona and Antonio Banderas (The Mask of Zorro) makes a return as Puss in Boots.

Of course since the film is out in 3D, we had to see that version of Shrek: Happily Ever After. The 3D effects I could really take it or leave it, really nothing spectacular. The movie to me comes in behind the first two Shrek films, but way ahead of the third which was pretty awful. It is a fun film that adults as well as kids will enjoy. Worth checking out during a matinée.

Robin Hood (2010)

After checking the reviews on Friday, the first three I read were pretty bad and didn’t have many good things to say at all. And after a few people chiming in on facebook, my better half saying it’s Russell Crowe, and the fact that I had some movie cash from Apollo 13 bluray…OK…I will go ahead and go.

Ok, I am guessing everyone here knows the story of Robin Hood as there are probably more movies about this character than any other. This movie focuses on how Robin Hood came to be, From the Crusades in France, the journey home and what happens upon his return. Russell Crowe (Gladiator, The Insider), well, is just kind of there on screen as Robin Hood. He does what is needed of him, but nothing really shows off what he is capable of as an actor.  Cate Blanchett (The Aviator, Elizabeth) is of course Marion. She probably has the best performance of the entire cast, but again like Crowe, not near what she is capable of. The cast is rounded out with Max von Sydow (The Exorcist, Minority Report), William Hurt (Dark City, A History of Violence) and Mark Strong (Sherlock Holmes).

Ok, after many reviews, some very good, some very bad….what did I think of Ridley Scott;s (Alien, Gladiator, Blade Runner) attempt at Robin Hood? Well, I thought it was just that, an attempt. Actually I thought the story was good, acting wasn’t terrible, and had they titled the movie The Archer and the King of England, I would have liked it. To me this had very few elements of an actual Robin Hood movie, other than characters names. we all know what Robin Hood is about…Right? Lets all say it together…..

He steals from the rich to give to the poor.

Only once did this idea make it into the film, and was quickly done with bags of grain, not even money or gold. Not once did they hide out in Sherwood Forest. Only in the end did Robin Hood do something outstanding with a bow and arrow, again another element of a Robin Hood movie that everyone wants to see were missing. Actually the movie ended where most audiences wanted it to begin. I know that was the way I felt.

There is another element to think about though, that could change my mind about the film entirely. A sequel. It was left open and at a point where you could now make a movie and call it Robin Hood and have it be what everyone was wanting out of this first film. When first seeing The Fellowship of The Ring for the first time, I was pretty ho-hum about the whole thing, but now seeing it and how it fits in, I like it much better. That could be the case here. Although at least with The Fellowship of the Ring, you knew there were two more films coming. If there is another Robin Hood, I may change my mind, but I would feel almost used, in the fact that I put in 2 hours and 20 minutes of my time just so Ridley Scott could set up the next film, which is the film I wanted  the first time. My final thought, if you do venture out to see this one, pretend like the title is The Archer and the King and you will be fine. Don’t expect to see much of what you know as Robin Hood, that is nonexistent.