Established May 2010.

Gordie: Do you think I'm weird?
Chris: Definitely.
Gordie: No man, seriously. Am I weird?
Chris: Yeah, but so what? Everybody's weird.

Film Critic for Twin Cities Live

Member of THE LAMB: The Large Association of Movie Blogs LAMB #1588

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Wednesday, August 27, 2014


Director: Frank Miller, Robert Rodriguez
Starring: Eva Green, Josh Brolin, Mickey Rourke, Jessica Alba, Bruce Willis, Powers Boothe, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Christopher Meloni, Jeremy Piven, Christopher Lloyd, Dennis Haysbert

The violence and bloodshed is always high in the corrupt underworld of fictional town Basin City. Like its predecessor, the film is composed of various vignettes with some characters overlapping from one story to the next. Nancy (Alba) is an exotic dancer at Kadie’s Saloon and is severely damaged after the death of her lover John Hartigan (Willis). She plans on seeking out revenge on Senator Roark (Boothe) who was involved in his death. Marv (Rourke) is a regular at Kadie’s and keeps a steady eye on Nancy. He has his own issues and is someone you don’t want to mess with in a dark alley. Johnny (Levitt) is a hot-shot gambler who never loses. Let’s just say that after winning against Senator Roark, he needs to watch his back. The title storyline involves Dwight (Brolin) who is caught in a web of mysterious torture when his former flame Ava (Green) shows up and begs for forgiveness. She can’t escape from his head, and yet again, he is lured into her deceitful ways. What he doesn’t know is that she may have ulterior motives.

Nine years have passed since the release of the first film which was an adaptation of the popular Frank Miller graphic novel. He has teamed up again with director Robert Rodriguez for a follow-up that has been in the works since the first one was released. Back then, Angelina Jolie was being considered for the lead role. The first film was groundbreaking in its approach with using the digital effects and colorization techniques to effectively recreate Miller’s work into a different medium. Many frames in the movie were identical to the way they were illustrated in the novel. The same look and feel accompanies this film, but it doesn’t quite have that same dynamic punch that the first one had due to the fact that we now have already seen it used and have seen other movies attempt it as well. There is also a consistency issue here where I don’t feel like Rodriguez or Miller took the time to really craft each scene using this technique. They used up a majority of their energy on the opening sequence and some of the more action heavy scenes, but neglected the more dialogue filled scenes. It’s the kind of effect that really pops and is visually stunning when it’s used, but it is clearly evident and sorely missed when it’s not added in. It’s very rare when I endorse 3D, but it really enhances the effects here and really brings Miller’s vision to life as you witness the artwork and storyboards coming off the page.

Miller adapted some of his older stories for this film and wrote two new ones in addition. It’s pretty imperative to watch the first film before seeing this one. Even if you’ve seen it before, give it another viewing before watching the sequel. We have many returning characters as well as new ones with direct references to what happened in the first movie. For instance, Jessica Alba’s Nancy storyline is a continuation of her story in the first one. Josh Brolin’s Dwight storyline acts as a prequel with him playing the younger version of the same character Clive Owen previously played. If I hadn’t read about this before seeing the movie, I might not have picked up on it. Rodriguez is billed as having shot and cut the film, and I think the sequencing of it all is oddly structured. We get introduced to the Marv, Johnny, and Nancy plots in the beginning and then it shifts to tell the whole story of Dwight/Ava and then it goes back to finish those first few stories we were introduced to. It feels too choppy and inconsistent without it feeling as cohesive as the first movie.

It is fun seeing a majority of the original cast come to play their corrupt and flawed characters. Some roles have been recast. Dennis Haysbert takes over the role of Manute, Ava’s bodyguard, who was previously played by Michael Clarke Duncan. Jeremy Piven fills Michael Madsen’s shoes as Bob. I don’t know how the directing duties were split up between Rodriguez and Miller, but the acting is a bit inconsistent at times. I found it odd that all of the men spoke in this slow, deep, mysterious tone that is very repetitive after a while. There was no real variety in their vocal tone. At the same time, some actors are having a devilishly good time and are definitely playing into the comic book nature of the material. Green, Rourke, and Boothe are the definite stand-outs. Green is sultry, sexy, and nude a majority of the movie. Boothe is as diabolical as always as Senator Roark. I am a big fan of his and have seen him in numerous film and television roles, and he is always playing the evil and corrupt bad guy. I honestly don’t think I’ve ever seen him play a gentle, loveable character. He’s so great at being these brutal characters, but I’d love to see him do a complete 180 next time. The scene-stealer belongs to Christopher Lloyd. Yes, that Christopher Lloyd, the genius that never seems to work anymore. He shares a funny scene with Joseph Gordon-Levitt. If you are in your early 30s, like yours truly, you may get a kick out the fact that this is a mini Angels in the Outfield reunion from when Gordon-Levitt was a child actor. My brother and I grew up on that movie!

It’s hard not to leave the movie and have that feeling like this sequel has come out a bit too late. The first movie came out before the superhero/comic book movie trend really took off. It was groundbreaking in its approach to the style and vision of Miller’s world. Sin City: A Dame to Kill For is, by no means, a bad movie, but there is a bit of a disappointment that it just isn’t as good as the first one. It is still fun to watch the visuals and wonder how they shot all of it. It has a great ensemble as some of the characters are wickedly juicy. I am curious if fans will either be severely disappointed or like it just enough because they enjoy Miller’s work and style. I don’t believe it will gain the attention of any newbies

Is It Worth Your Trip to the Movies? If you loved the first one, you will like this one.


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Friday, August 22, 2014

Movie Review: IF I STAY

Director: R.J. Cutler
Starring: Chloe Grace Moretz, Jamie Blackley, Mireille Enos, Joshua Leonard, Stacy Keach

Who’s ready for another romance novel turned movie about two young lovers and tragedy? Mia (Moretz) comes from a musically inclined family. Her parents (Enos and Leonard) are young at heart, and her dad used to play in a rock band but stepped down once his family became his top priority. Their natural talent was passed down to Mia, but she gravitated toward the cello at an extremely young age. For two rocker parents, it took some time getting used to the sounds of a bow and strings instead an amp turned up. Her love of the cello carried on into high school and is her sole focus in life. Adam (Blackley) is a fellow classmate and known for fronting a popular rock band. He overhears her practicing in the band room one day and is immediately attracted to both her and her music. She’s the awkward, shy type who can’t really believe that someone so “cool” would be attracted to her, but nonetheless, a relationship is born and a teen romance ensues between these two musicians.

On a snowy day, it is announced that school has been closed due to the weather and Mia’s folks decide to play hooky to be with her and her brother. They go for a drive before the snow picks up and their car crashes into another vehicle coming around a curve in the road. Mia wakes up and realizes she is having an out of body experience as she looks down at her body and realizes she is in a coma. The film goes back and forth in the story’s timeline as we go through the journey of Mia and Adam’s relationship and how she copes with the aftermath of the accident.

If you are thinking this movie sounds just like every other teen soap movie, you aren’t too off base. It is based on the popular book by Gayle Forman, and there is a Nicholas Sparks type feel to it with its love story struck by tragedy angle. I’ll give this one credit for being a bit more plausible than Sparks’ stories that have been become so darn predictable and saccharine. The car accident happens very quickly into the movie instead of being used as a third act game changer. If you are familiar with this genre, there are some clichéd moments you can see coming a mile away. Of course Adam is the confident guy type and Mia has her insecure moments with him. They each have their heightened “it’s the end of the world” moments in their relationship that you want to roll your eyes at. She has an audition at Julliard while he contemplates a big move for his band on the opposite side of the country. This will no doubt turn some moviegoers off. I am willing to be more forgiving and give some of these scenes a pass as this story really is told through the perspective of two teenagers who are bound to be whiny and have their angst at times. It’s nice to see a teen couple in a movie that actually would be a couple in the real world. There are too many movies where we’ve got some dumb jock that falls for the nerdy girl because he’s “just not like those other guys”. In If I Stay, we’ve got two students that have a shared love of music and the arts, and they actually make sense together as a couple.

Chloe Grace Moretz and Jamie Blackley play our two young lovers. It’s been interesting watching Moretz’s career as she’s grown up in front of the camera from films like Kick-Ass and Let Me In to last year’s Carrie remake. She’s only seventeen so I applaud the fact she’s actually playing someone age appropriate. Maybe we are seeing a trend where high school students in movies are actually played by teenage actors. She has stated in interviews that she likes playing these types of complex and damaged characters. While I understand the need to challenge oneself as an actor, I can’t quite seem to get on the Chloe Grace Moretz train yet. She seems to be a hot commodity, but I feel like she may be choosing and fighting for the wrong roles. Like Carrie, she always seems to be trying so hard to get certain emotions out that she comes across as pushing it too far into a forced melodramatic territory. While Jamie Blackley has some credits under his belt, this is his first major lead role. He definitely fares better and seems more suited for the role than she does. His heavier scenes feel a bit more raw and honest. Mireille Enos and Joshua Leonard (The Blair Witch Project) make the most out of their smaller roles as Mia’s parents. They are clearly having fun with the rocker, hip, and funny parents that are loveable and mature despite their backgrounds. I would have loved to have seen more of their relationship and background explored in the flashback scenes. Enos has been really making a name for herself these past few years with roles in Big Love, The Killing, and World War Z.

This film will inevitably be compared to The Fault in Our Stars, which elevated the teen romance movie to a whole different level. If I Stay didn’t bring me to the ugly cry, but I was still engaged most of the time. It’s hard not to be moved by the end of the movie, especially after Stacy Keach’s heartbreaking monologue. It will resonate with anyone that has spent time in a hospital with a loved one not knowing if or when they may pass away. Classical music is a key factor of the movie with Mia’s passion for the cello. Moretz did learn how to play it but there’s a body double for some of the more complex pieces she plays. It really reminded me how much I love cello music, yet I never take the time to listen to it or use it to unwind to after a long day. I may just have to go to the library and look for some Yo-Yo Ma CDs.

Is It Worth Your Trip to the Movies? It’s better than some teen soap stories, but suffers due to its lead actress and predictability factor.


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Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Movie Review: THE GIVER

Director: Phillip Noyce
Starring: Brenton Thwaites, Jeff Bridges, Meryl Streep, Alexander Skarsgard, Katie Holmes, Odeya Rush, Cameron Monaghan, Taylor Swift

There’s a great scene toward the end of The Giver where Oscar winners Meryl Streep and Jeff Bridges get to have a bit of a verbal sparring match. I would have loved to have been an extra in that scene. It’s one of the more exciting scenes in the film, yet it comes far too late. Their community has become a vast, colorless world void of any feeling and emotion. Everything the citizens once knew has been erased from their memories.  There is strict order and rules set in place for everyone to abide by.  Jonas (Thwaites) and his friends Fiona (Rush) and Asher (Monaghan) are at that age where they attend the Ceremony of Growth to receive their official assignment which is part of being a member of the community. The roles are handed out by Chief Elder (Streep), who rules the community with a strict presence. Jonas is passed over and saved for last causing an alert and low rumble amongst the crowd.

Chief Elder reveals to him that he is strong in all of the attributes and therefore is given the task of being the Receiver of Memory. It is a prestigious task that comes with great danger. He is sent to The Giver (Bridges) who lives at the very edge of the community before it disappears into the area known as Elsewhere. They link arm to arm, and Jonas proceeds to learn more and more about the community’s past. When the various memories come into focus, he becomes more distraught over the present state of society. He starts to distrust his Mother (Holmes) and Father (Skarsgard) and those around him. He decides to risk everything by going where no one has succeeded before him in an attempt to restore society back to its original way of life.

The Giver is based on the award winning children’s book by Lois Lawry from 1993. I think I read it when it came out but haven’t picked it up since then. I would like to think this helped me go in with a bit more of an open mind, but it also led to more questions I have with the material and what changes were made with this adaptation. Jeff Bridges is one of the producers of the film and has wanted to get the film made for years hopping from one studio to the next. I can understand why it was now released in the wake of the success of The Hunger Games and Divergent which have similar ideas and themes. The problem is that director Phillip Noyce and beginner screenwriters Michael Mitnick and Robert B. Weide don’t have anything new and interesting to add to this story to make it stand out from those other books that actually came after this one.

The script is quite bland that leaves little for these actors to play around with in terms of their characters. Bridges and Streep fare the best and it should come without surprise that they are the highlights of the movie. As the title character, Bridges has that gruff and mysterious vibe to him that left me wondering what his true motives were with Jonas. There was a bit of mystery that surrounded him where I felt a little on edge with his scenes. With her long grey wig, Streep plays another ice queen with Chief Elder. She’s Goddess Meryl Streep so, of course, she is going to be great with this type of character where she can be menacing and evil without having to really raise her voice or scream. We’ve seen her play this type of character before, and I’ll watch her in anything.

The rest of the cast is an odd mixed bag. As Jonas, Brenton Thwaites is a fresh up-and-coming actor who we previously saw this summer in Maleficent as Prince Phillip. He has a nice boy next door appeal about him. He’s fairly young and will need to take better and more challenging roles as he grows up if he wants to be a stronger leading guy type. Katie Holmes and Alexander Skarsgard play his parents in the film. Don’t let the age difference throw you off as they are not intended to be biological parents. I must admit to having a soft spot for Holmes, but she comes off a bit monotone here. Maybe she was remembering her time of being hypnotized under the Scientology spell and applied that here as a character trait. Lastly, singer Taylor Swift has a very brief role as The Giver’s daughter. It is such a bizarre casting move that I can only assume it was because they wanted another big name to draw people into the movie. I mean, come on. When did we ever think that Taylor Swift and Meryl Streep would ever be in the same movie?

The use of color plays an important part of the world in The Giver. It begins with the black and white of the community and color starts to materialize with Jonas’ awakening. I was reminded of the beautiful Pleasantville which I need to revisit. I think the color shifting was better used in that movie. Even though there is a strict sameness to all of the houses, bikes, and the entire look of the community, there is a distinct look and shape to it without it feeling too drab or boring. The whole art direction and design elements were impressive enough to take some focus off the oddly structured script and bizarre acting. For a ninety minute movie, it felt fairly long with its slow pacing. So much of the backstory is quickly told at the beginning and then it drags out until the finally thirty minutes once Jonas sets his plan into action. Only then does it start to get interesting and pick up in tempo. The broader picture and message of Lois Lawry’s story really comes out in this part, but it takes so long to get there. Without giving too much away, I actually wanted more of an ending. I wanted more of a wrap up and a “what next”. Maybe I’m so used to these types of stories being dragged out into multiple books that I wanted a final scene or two after the resolution. This may be directly how the book ends so I shouldn’t fault the screenwriters if this is indeed a direct match to the source material.

This is one of those movies where you come out perplexed as it has some good things going for it that make the movie enjoyable like Meryl and Jeff, the design elements, and a thrilling final thirty minutes. Then you think about its clunky structure and pacing, odd casting choices, and the whole idea that we have seen that kind of movie before, and it leaves you second guessing on if it’s worth your trip to the movies. In this case, I think more people will enjoy it then not.

Is It Worth Your Trip to the Movies? It's worth seeing on the big screen at matinee prices, but know that it comes with some major flaws.


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Sunday, August 10, 2014

TWIN CITIES LIVE- August 8, 2014

August 8, 2014

1. TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES, starring: Megan Fox, Will Arnett, William Fichtner
2. THE HUNDRED-FOOT JOURNEY, starring: Helen Mirren, Om Puri
3. DIVERGENT, starring: Shailene Woodley, Theo James, Kate Winslet, Ashley Judd

Here's the video:

Video courtesy of Twin Cities Live/KSTP

You can find all of my past segments HERE.

As always, thank you so much for watching and your continual support. I truly appreciate it!
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Director: Jonathan Liebesman
Starring: Megan Fox, Will Arnett, William Fichtner, Alan Ritchson, Noel Fisher, Pete Ploszek, Jeremy Howard, Johnny Knoxville, Danny Woodburn, Tony Shalhoub, Tohoru Masamune, Whoopi Goldberg

Those gnarly Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are back to reach a whole new audience of moviegoers. The Foot Clan is wreaking havoc across the streets of New York City. Channel 6 field reporter April O’Neil (Fox) is desperate to get to the bottom of who’s behind these masked foes. One night while in the middle of the action, she snaps photos of a group of vigilantes who are out to take down the bad guys. It should come as no surprise that no one back at the station takes her seriously when she tries to show them her evidence. She is later caught by these four mysterious creatures who turn out to be six foot turtles. She puts the pieces together and realizes these are the same turtles that she grew up playing with in her dad’s laboratory when she was a kid. They were part of a scientific experiment known as Project Renaissance, hence their names Donatello, Raphael, Michelangelo, and Leonardo. Her dad’s lab partner Eric Sacks (Fichtner) is working with the evil Shredder (Masamune) who is the leader of the Foot Clan. Shredder plans on releasing a toxin into the air and Sacks will use an antidote found into the turtles to “save” the citizens and get rich in the process. It’s up to the Ninja Turtles, April, and her cameraman Vernon Fenwick (Arnett) to defeat Shredder and Sacks before it’s too late. As you can tell, we have a super original plot here that we have never seen before. Never…Ever…Oh wait.

What we’ve got here is a reboot from the cartoons and early 1990s movies that I grew up on. The design and production values have been updated with a new vision to fit today’s moviegoers. The Turtles are beefier and it’s far more action packed than the original series. Hesitation set in quickly very early on in the development stages when it was announced that Michael Bay was producing the movie and that Megan Fox was attached to star as our devoted and hard-hitting reporter April. If you read my review of Transformers: Age of Extinction, you know my feelings towards Mr. Bay. Even though many people assume he directed this film, he is only one of the producers. The film definitely feels like a Bay movie though when it comes to all of the up close and personal action scenes. I think it has the wrong tone as well. It takes itself far too seriously most of the time as it's missing that camp factor that should come with a movie about a group of four mutant turtles trying to save the day. The Turtles and their father Splinter are no longer actors in full body costumes, but the work of motion capture technology. I’m a bit confused as to why Leonardo is voiced by Johnny Knoxville while the other Turtles have the same actor doing the voice and body work. Danny Woodburn (Seinfeld) does the motion-capture work for Splinter and has expressed disappointment in not doing the character's voice which was given to Tony Shalhoub (Monk).

It is no secret that Megan Fox (Transformers) and Michael Bay have feuded in the past, so it was a bit surprising that they patched things up enough for her to play April. I haven’t seen the original movies since I was a kid, but now I really miss Paige Turco and Judith Hoag who have previously played the character. Fox is so unbelievably miscast, it is downright eye-rolling most of the time. Right from the very beginning I could never her take her seriously as a journalist. It’s no wonder why her fellow journalists at Channel 6 don’t believe. I wouldn’t either! I am also baffled on why Oscar winner Whoopi Goldberg decided to appear as April’s boss. While Goldberg provides some much-needed laughs, her scenes with Fox are just odd. It honestly brought me back to her mid ‘90s days of appearing in such movies as Eddie and Theodore Rex. Will Arnett (Arrested Development) is completely wasted as April’s cameraman. He is not given the comedy and banter that suits him. It is quite evident that he was completely bored making the movie.

The writing is fairly weak and simple throughout most of the movie. I wish more of a specificity would have been given to each of the turtles to make each of their personalities stand out more. There is so much fun to be had with all four of them, and Michelangelo is the only Turtle that really stands out. This is especially unfortunate as it doesn’t give the actors playing them enough to work with. If you had no context of the characters, you would have a hard time differentiating them apart from another. Shredder does not seem nearly as scary as I remember him being when I was younger. He seems to be a mix of Freddy Krueger meets a Transformer with CGI knives always shooting out from his hands. Partial credit should be given for their references to classic Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles elements like: their origin, the love of pizza, ooze, and living in the sewer, plus the catch phrases “Cowabunga” and “heroes in a half shell”.

While it definitely has that Michael Bay approach to it, I would say that it is nowhere near as bad as Transformers: Age of Extinction. There is potential to be had here, but a lot of work must be done if it wants to compete with the likes of Marvel movies and how universally accepted they are. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles will definitely appeal to young kids. You can tell special attention was made to cater toward their sense of humor and attention span as the runtime is kept at under two hours. I just don’t think it will cater to a broad audience like I think it should.

Is It Worth Your Trip to the Movies? I’d rather go back and watch the original series that I grew up on.


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Friday, August 8, 2014


Director: Lasse Hallström
Starring: Helen Mirren, Om Puri, Manish Dayal, Charlotte Le Bon

Maybe it’s my love of cooking, eating, and anything related to food, but I am a sucker for a good foodie movie. We’ve got our second one this summer after Jon Favreau’s Chef which focused on the food truck movement. The Hundred-Foot Journey takes us to the French countryside. The Kadam family lost their family restaurant and everything else back in India due to a fire. After spending some unsuccessful time in England, they decide to take another journey and move to France. Papa (Puri) is bound and determined to get the restaurant business up and running again with his son Hassan (Dayal) as the head chef. He has his eyes set on a rundown building that just happens to be across the street from a sophisticated French restaurant that caters to classical cuisine. It is run by Madame Mallory (Mirren) who is stubborn like an ox.

She is ready to start an all-out war with her latest competitor. This only infuriates Papa even more, but Hassan continues to create wonderful dishes for their restaurant until tragedy strikes as an attempt to stop this lovely Indian family from creating their masterpieces. Madame Mallory feels a responsibility for the actions, but Papa continues to keep his guard up. Meanwhile, Hassan just wants to make good food whether it’s his traditional Indian favorites or the new French recipes he is learning from the books he receives by Mallory’s sous chef Marguerite (Le Bon).

In case you haven’t noticed any of the marketing efforts for this movie, it boasts Steven Spielberg and Oprah Winfrey as producers. With Lasse Hallström directing the feisty Helen Mirren, you have the ingredients for a delightful and hearty movie. This also happens to be his second foodie movie including 2000's Chocolat. Screenwriter Steven Knight has previously tackled heavier and more suspenseful films (Locke, Eastern Promises), so this is a sharp turn from that. I haven’t read the book by Richard C. Morais yet, but the story has more dimensions than I think the trailer is leading on. Each of the four main characters gets their due moments and arcs. Mirren’s Madame Mallory is not just the snobbish battle ax you expect her to be. I did start to wonder if she was going to be a one noted character, but I knew Mirren would find the layers in her. She pairs well with Om Puri who has to stand his ground against her ways. He is more than capable of that challenge. This battle between the two stubborn personalities adds some delightful humor to the story. Manish Dayal and Charlotte Le Bon are relative newcomers. Dayal is a good-looking charmer and has some sizzling chemistry with Le Bon. I suppose it’s hard to write a story centered on the love of food and not have sparks between two of the characters.

This is not just another boy meets girl from a different culture love story. There is more to it than that. It’s merely one side dish to a bigger meal. The culture and attitudes toward both cuisines plays a factor not only in the style of food, but comes into play between the characters of Papa and Madame Mallory. They are the personal embodiments to the way they describe what is so special about their cuisine. The French cooking is very subtle, sophisticated, and classy with a pinch of spice here or there. Papa’s Indian recipes are loud and powerful with a spoonful of this spice or that spice. These spices are naturally handed down to the next generation and considered an honor. It is a joy watching the fusion of these two very different temperaments and palettes spar with each other.

The Hundred-Foot Journey suffers a bit in its approach to the ending of the story. I should say multiple endings. I thought the movie was going to end once the feel-good climax happens, but the story continues with what feels like an epilogue. I’m assuming this happens in the book as well and maybe it works better there. In the movie, it almost feels too rushed and short to feel like it’s the third act. I’m slightly conflicted over it as I understand the point of it due to its commentary on the state of cooking these days and these characters, but part of me doesn’t feel like it’s actually necessary. Don’t get me wrong; it doesn't hinder the rest of this delightful movie. How do you not drool whenever the photography of the food is handled with such care? I think some of the camera work is slowed down just to make us relish in it a bit longer. Maybe it is their way of getting us to slow down and enjoy the process of cooking in the same way we enjoy eating it. I think too often we scramble together a meal without fully appreciating the art and science behind it. I know I wanted to go home after seeing this and perfect my omelet recipe and look up those four standard French sauces.

Is it Worth Your Trip to the Movies? Foodies will no doubt devour every bite of this journey.


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Saturday, August 2, 2014

TWIN CITIES LIVE- August 1, 2014

August 1, 2014

1. GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY, starring Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Bradley Cooper, Vin Diesel
2. A MOST WANTED MAN, starring Philip Seymour Hoffman, Rachel McAdams, Willem Dafoe, Robin Wright
3. THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL, starring Ralph Fiennes, Tilda Swinton, Jeff Goldblum

Here's the video:

Video courtesy of Twin Cities Live/KSTP

You can find all of my past segments HERE.

As always, thank you so much for watching and your continual support. I truly appreciate it!
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Friday, August 1, 2014


Director: James Gunn
Starring: Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Vin Diesel, Bradley Cooper, Lee Pace, Benecio Del Toro, Djimon Hounsou, Glenn Close, John C. Reilly

Move over Avengers, because Marvel has a whole new set of heroes that are worth checking out and worth our money at the box office. This is the third Marvel release this summer after The Amazing Spider-Man 2 and X-Men: Days of Future Past. Funnyman Chris Pratt suits up as Peter Quill, a.k.a Star-Lord, a pilot who was abducted into space as a kid on the same night his mother died. He now finds himself face to face with a mysterious orb and a bunch of hunters led by Korath (Hounsou). Korath is working for Ronan (Pace) who plans on using the orb to completely destroy the planet of Xandar. Peter is later imprisoned along with the beautiful and fierce warrior Gamora (Saldana), Drax the Destroyer (Bautista), the wise-cracking and gun-toting Rocket Raccoon (Cooper), and a tree-like humanoid named Groot (Diesel). All five of them are outcasts and unique in their own special way. In order to save the universe, they band together to protect that little ball of power from the hands of the evil Ronan.

Right from the moment we see the adult Peter Quill, you get the sense that this has a very different feel and tone from the rest of the movies in the Marvel franchise. Whether it’s Marvel's The Avengers destroying New York City or X-Men: Days of Future Past using Richard Nixon as a character, many of those stories are set in a more realistic world. The title of this film tells us that we are dealing with a completely sci-fi/fantasy realm with aliens, species, and creatures of all shapes and sizes. Director James Gunn co-wrote the screenplay with Nicole Perlman, and it’s evident that they were allowed to go to the extremes and bring us a fun, over-the-top ride. There’s a playful attitude that comes across in the wacky fight scenes, the characters, and witty dialogue. It’s great to see the comedic banter given to numerous characters in how they deal with each other. Drax the Destroyer takes everything at face value and doesn’t understand the concept of metaphors while Peter is always joking around and throwing out references left and right. Rocket is the loudmouth partner next to the almost silent Groot. Due to this approach, Guardians of the Galaxy is probably the most family friendly we have seen from Marvel to date. It has a Star Wars-ish vibe but with comic book characters that parents may find more suitable for younger moviegoers. The violence is cartoonish and there aren’t as many overarching life themes that would normally go over a young child’s head.

Chris Pratt is on a roll right now both on the big screen in Her, Zero Dark Thirty, and The Lego Movie as well as playing the goofy Andy Dwyer on Parks & Recreation. Even though Parks & Recreation ends next season, Pratt will not have that post-TV slump as he is currently filming Jurassic World and I’m sure future Guardians movies. He has stated in interviews that he originally turned down this role thinking he was completely wrong for it. I, for one, am thankful he reconsidered as he seems like the perfect choice for Star-Lord. Now, I’ve never read the comics, so I have nothing to compare his performance to in terms of the original source material. Maybe he infused the role with some Pratt-isms that we know from him, but they still work here. He has that nice blend of being believable as an action star and infusing his comedic charm on top of that.

I would never have thought I would find Vin Diesel to be so funny. Maybe I haven’t given those Fast and the Furious movies enough of a shot yet, but there’s a side of him that comes out as Groot that I didn’t see before. He only utters one line, “I am Groot”, but the comedy comes in with how repetitive he gets to be with it. He partners well with Bradley Cooper who voices Rocket. They have that classic comedic duo routine but with a tough edge where one does all the talking and tries to be the wise-guy. If I didn’t already know Cooper was the voice, I may not have recognized him right away.  I applaud him for really going somewhere different with his characterization. Then there’s Lee Pace as Ronan who seems to be getting a lot of villain roles lately. I have no problems with this concept as he can always find the menacing side to any character of his. He’ll return as Thranduil in The Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies. Even though Glenn Close and Benecio Del Toro have smaller roles, they have great hair, make-up, and costumes to play around in.

I would not consider myself a comic book aficionado, but I do enjoy seeing the big screen adaptations. I had no idea what to expect with Guardians of the Galaxy. The trailer had a good sense of humor about it, but I didn’t want it to be hokey. Don’t worry, it isn’t. I will say that it took me a bit to get adjusted into this universe as I didn’t know the characters, source material, and how different it is than the other Marvels universes. Once I was in, it was a wild ride of fun. I laughed more here than I have in other Marvel franchises. This film continues to show the quality that this genre has on actors and moviegoers. It’s great to see Oscar winners and nominees like Bradley, Glenn, Benecio, John, and Djimon wanting to be a part of these movies. To top of it, it has a killer soundtrack that plays into the movie and provides for some slick Chris Pratt dance moves.

Is It Worth Your Trip to the Movies? Marvel has a hot new series on their hands that will only get better with the next entries to come.


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