Saturday, August 7, 2010

This Movie is Awful: A Review of The Last Airbender

"Why did you have to ruin my childhood,
Mr. Shyamalan?"
The Last Airbender is a perfect example of just about everything wrong with moviemaking in today’s age. Director M. Night Shyamalan could have created an epic, exciting, and dramatic adaption of the beloved Nickelodeon television show, but unfortunately, and really to no one’s surprise, he instead created this atrocity, which fails to deliver on every level.

Movie Review: How to Train Your Dragon

Go ahead. Pretend this isn't the cutest thing ever.

How to Train Your Dragon, an animated film loosely based on the children’s book of the same name by Cressida Cowell, tells a story told countless times before. An unappreciated protagonist (Hiccup, voiced by Jay Baruchel) goes on an adventure of sorts that, by the time the movie is over, changes him in such a way that everyone begins to appreciate him. There’s an overbearing father (Stoick, voiced by Gerard Butler), a romantic interest that doesn’t share the feelings (Astrid, voiced by America Ferrera), and a rather odd group of friends. The thing is, you don’t care that you pretty much know how everything is going to turn out. Even though you’ve certainly seen the same story over and over again throughout the years, it doesn’t matter; How to Train Your Dragon keeps you captivated from beginning to end.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Movie Review: (500) Days of Summer

The whole movie is like this.
Expectations, as we all know, have a tendency to be significantly different than reality. So I need to be careful what I say, because about this movie, I might have a tendency to set up the expectations of you, dear reader, to unrealistic heights. (500) Days of Summer is one of the best-made, most entertaining movies I’ve seen in my entire life (and I’m not just saying that because I’m obsessed with Zooey Deschanel (no, really)). Not only was it an excellent movie, but it was that rare exotic artifact quickly disappearing from movie-making: an original, hard-to-define movie. (500) Days of Summer just never does exactly meet expectations, no matter what you’re expecting.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Tragic and Phenomenal: Up in the Air Review

A truly wonderful acting trio.
When most people think of airports, it isn’t a particularly pleasant thought; germs, crowds, weather delays, artificial…. everything. That isn’t the case for Up in the Air’s Ryan Bingham (George Clooney). To him, the airport is home. As he says in his opening monologue, ”To know me is to fly with me.” Bingham works for a company that gets hired by other companies to do layoffs, and is constantly flying all across the country to do so. Up in the Air is more than just a commentary on America’s current economic standing, though. It can be classified as neither a tragedy nor a comedy, but is filled with both. The film criticizes big business, emphasizes the importance of individual relationships, and highlights our country’s declining economy; and it does it all with a smile.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

The Bieber Train Has No Brakes

Yeah. He's lived a full life.
[UPDATE: Director David Guggenheim announced he's dropping out of the directing gig. Other than his halfhearted attempt at an excuse (he has to "promote his next film", Waiting for Superman), one can safely assume that he decided it would probably be the end of any ounce of respect he would ever get.]

Great news, folks! You know what the only thing better than a memoir by 16 year old teen bop sensation Justin Bieber is? A movie about him (in which he'll play himself), including footage of his ongoing tour! And in 3D!

Endearing, Heartfelt, and Witty: Toy Story 3 Review

All Back for a Final Hurrah.

From its beginning, Pixar has been rolling out hits, such as the original Toy Story, Monsters Inc., Ratatouille, WALL-E, and the third installment of the Toy Story films does not change this amazing trend. Toy Story 3 might actually be the best of all the films Pixar has created. I know, hard to believe. However, Toy Story 3 has everything packed in it’s animated drawing board from kiddie jokes to moments of strong emotion (which may or may not have caused me to weep like a four year old...). Yes, Toy Story 3 has all the right and necessary ingredients that are sought after, not only in an entertaining film, but also an everlastingly cherished one.

Down With the Ship: A Review of Charlie St. Cloud

"Life is for Living"
...um...thanks...?
As much as I wanted to hate Charlie St. Cloud, I couldn’t bring myself to do it. No, despite being similar to the Twilight franchise in more ways than one, this piece is more deserving of sympathy than anything else. Unfortunately, try as hard as he might to keep his latest project afloat, Zac Efron ends up going down with the ship.

It is really too bad: Efron is not a bad actor but sinks under the weight of a boatload of tacky sentimentality, cheesy dialogue, and an overabundance of cinematic clich├ęs. Playing a good looking, intelligent, and noble young lad, Efron’s character is Charlie St. Cloud. He is an expert competitive boater, loyal son and brother, and headed off on a scholarship to Stanford. Sound like the perfect life? Well, apparently not: it’s only a short matter of time before Charlie’s little brother Sammy is killed in a car crash, and Charlie reveals himself to be also a creepy weirdo.

Drinking Your Milkshake Since 2007: A Review of There Will Be Blood

Preface:
Yes, we know, this movie was released in 2007. For future reference, there will be some reviews of older movies. This blog is not entirely devoted to up and coming releases (although that’s the main subject). That being said, YAMB hopes you enjoy the work presenting now, no matter how long ago you saw this movie.
Insert Clever Caption About Mustache.
Critic Wesley Morris wrote as a description of main character, Daniel Plainview, in his review of There Will Be Blood that “he's the smoke, the ash, the lava, and the volcano.” In truth, though, while this character description is accurate (and just plain awesome. Who doesn’t want to be described as a volcano?), it perhaps acts better as a description for the film itself. There Will Be Blood is a force of nature, a steadily increasing conflagration.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Actor Profile: Zooey Deschanel

Personal Life

Zooey Claire Deschanel (pronounced Zoh-ee Day-shuh-nell) was practically born into fame. Her parents were Caleb and Mary Jo Deschanel, a director slash filmographer and actress respectively. She was born in Los Angeles, California on January 17, 1980 and is of French and Irish descent. Her name, with its odd spelling of Zoe, comes from the main character of J.D. Salinger’s work Franny and Zooey, despite the fact that the Zooey in that book is a male. Because her director father shot many of his films on location, she spent much of her childhood traveling, which Zooey didn’t like. She’s allergic to dairy, gluten, and eggs, and spent quite some time as a vegan, before she decided her allergies made it too difficult to stay healthy. She attended a private preparatory school in Santa Monica, California with fellow actors Kate Hudson and Jake Gyllenhaal and dropped out of Northwestern University to pursue a career in acting. She is a talented singer, and can play the piano, banjo and ukulele. Her older sister Emily is also an actress; she plays the title character in Fox’s crime drama show Bones, which Zooey made an appearance in as a distant relative of Emily’s character, marking the first time the Deschanel sisters appeared on screen together. On September 19, 2009, a date that shall live on in infamy, she married Ben Gibbard, lead singer of Death Cab for Cutie, crushing the dreams of many innocent people. She is also the “she” in the band She & Him, of which M. Ward, who she worked with on The Go-Getter, is the “him.” The band has two albums, the appropriately titled Volume One and Volume Two. Her interests include jazz singing, fashion, and philosophy, and she shares an eerie resemblance with pop singer Katy Perry. To conclude, she’s basically the perfect person.

Emma Watson's Hair

Egads!
Now as anyone who is not currently living under a rock or in North Korea knows, Emma Watson got a haircut. And before anyone even says otherwise, yes, “it’s a big deal.” This female heartthrob has grown increasingly attractive since her debut as Hermione Granger in the Harry Potter series. Originally, the thought of describing her as such would have been pretty weird indeed. Youth aside, she looked as her character was supposed to during that time: a bit awkward and nerdy and sporting a full load of incredibly bushy and unkempt curls.

Actor Profile: Zach Galifianakis

Yup. That about sums it up.
Personal Life
Born on October 1, 1969 in Wilkesboro, North Carolina, Galifianakis was the 2nd of 3 children. He has an older brother, Greg, and a younger sister, Merritt. Galifianakis majored in communications at North Carolina State University. Failing a course before graduation, he moved to New York City to pursue acting, but ended up becoming a stand-up comedian. It wasn’t until rather recently that he became known in the acting world, and his life as a comedian is still going strong.

Director/Producer Profile: Joss Whedon

I bet we'd be pals.
Personal Life
Joss was born on June 23, 1964, in New York City as the 3rd son of a screenwriter and high school teacher. His two older brothers are Samuel and Matthew, and his two younger ones are Jed and Zack, both writers. Whedon spent 2 years at Winchester College, but graduated from Wesleyan University. He always loved writing and acting, and had a certain affinity for Monty Python. He is the founder of the production company Mutant Enemy Productions. Frankly, Joss Whedon is less of a director (or even producer) and more of a writer, but his works are such cult classics that he’s necessary to profile.

Actor Profile: Meryl Streep

Pure class.
Personal Life
Meryl Streep. Wow. Well, she was born in Summit, New Jersey, on June 22, 1949. Streep has 2 brothers, Dana and Harry. She graduated from Bernards High School and received her B.A. in Drama from Vassar College. Streep also got her M.F.A. from Yale School of Drama. Her 1978 marriage to Don Gummer resulted in 4 children: Louisa, Grace, Henry, and Mamie. She is recognized as possibly the most talented and well respected actress of our time; her grace and class is apparent in everything she does. Streep has an incredibly accomplished career in both film and theater, not to mention her honorary degrees from Princeton and Harvard.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Insane Micro-Budget Indie Flick, Monsters

Nope. You aren't in Kansas anymore.
After viewing the trailer of Monsters, directed by Gareth Edwards, I couldn’t help but feel a Cloverfield meets District 9 meets demonic Jurassic Park vibe to it. However, it differs greatly from those film due to one small fact. While Cloverfield cost $25 million to make and District 9 $30 million (both relatively cheap by today’s movie budgets standards), the little indie film reportedly cost as little as $15 thousand. Not $15,000,000, but 15 with only three zeroes after it. Crazy. And even though I’m a sucker for fake documentary horror-type films (REC, District 9 and Blair Witch being a few examples), I’m glad Monsters works off a standard plot line, while also toning down the shaky cam (thank goodness!). 

Courtesy of IGN:

Director/Producer Profile: Guillermo del Toro

Guillermo is not amused.
Personal Life
Born in Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico on October 9, 1964, del Toro first got into film when he studied special effects and make-up with Academy Award winning make-up artist Dick Smith at around age 8. 8 years were spent as a special effects make-up designer, during which time he founded the design company Necropia. He would later make his own production company: The Tequila Gang. Del Toro married his high school sweetheart, Lorenza Newton, and they live in Wellington, New Zealand with their 2 daughters, Mariana and Marisa.

Actor Profile: Ryan Reynolds

This... had so much potential...
Personal Life
Born in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, on October 23, 1976, Reynolds had four older brothers to deal with. He graduated from Kitsilano Secondary School in Vancouver, and attempted to go to Kwantlen College. However, he only lasted a few months before dropping out to pursue his budding acting career. Although YAMB does not recommend this as a life choice, it certainly did pay off for Reynolds. In 2002, Reynolds was romantically linked to fellow Canadian, singer Alanis Morissette. Soon after breaking off an engagement with Morissette, Reynolds began dating actress Scarlett Johansson. The two would tie the knot in 2008. Wow. Talk about “power couple.” 

Actor Profile: Ellen Page

Beautiful, cute, or sexy?
Yes.
Personal Life
Ellen was born in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada on February 21, 1987. She went to Halifax Grammar School until 10th grade, attended Queen Elizabeth High School for a bit, and graduated from Shambhala School in 2005. Page liked to play with action figures and climb trees as a child. She still lives in Halifax with her dog, Patti and is known to walk and talk in her sleep. For some reason, I’m really not too surprised.

Spidey Reboot and MiB 3

I have no particular desire to see a Spider-Man reboot this soon after Sam Raimi's version, nor do I really think a third Men in Black is necessary, but both are scheduled to start shooting later this year; Spider-Man will start in December in L.A., while Men in Black starts in New York this September.

Director Marc Webb's decision to film Spider-Man in Los Angeles is an unorthodox one, to be sure, but shouldn't be a big deal. The story will still be set in New York, and maybe a different filming location will make his version stand apart from Raimi's. It shouldn't be long before we hear more casting news other than Andrew Garfield as Peter Parker, as well as learn who the villain will be.

Men in Black 3 is said to be set almost entirely in 1969, due to the time traveling abilities of Jay (Will Smith) and Kay's (Tommy Lee Jones) new foe, played by Jemaine Clement. Jay will be forced to work with a younger Kay in the 1969 setting, potentially played by Josh Brolin.

Men in Black 3 comes out on May 25, 2012 and Spider-Man is scheduled for July 3, 2012.


Ocean sheep,
Ben

Source: ScreenRant

Denzel at Armageddon: Book of Eli Review

...and this guy didn't make
a cameo why?
Oddly enough (or perhaps not), humanity seems to be obsessed with its own demise. The post-apocalyptic genre seems to be all the rage in the media these days. In the movie circuit, the most recent and notable entry was The Road based on the novel by Cormac McCarthy. The video game business has been focused primarily on the Fallout series. Armageddon-loving seems to have even hit children’s literature since books such as The Maze Runner and The Hunger Games have grown in popularity. In the year 2010, this trend appears to be holding strong as The Book of Eli has been released.

Actor Profile: Anna Kendrick

Pretty, and in a movie with
George Clooney. Swooning galore.
Personal Life
Kendrick was born on August 9, 1985 in Portland, Maine. She was driven to acting as a child by her high energy level and outgoing personality, initially focusing on theater. Most of her life was relatively “normal”; she was an honors student at Deering High School, and a fair amount of stage acting eventually led her to the big screen.

Actor Profile: Viggo Mortensen

En kjekk fyr. (That's "one handsome guy" 
in Norwegian)
Personal Life
Viggo was born in New York City on October 20, 1958, although his parents met in Norway. (Seriously guys, Norway. Super awesome. ) As a child he lived in Denmark, Venezuela, and a few Argentine provinces. Their family remained there until Viggo was 11. His parents then divorced and he went with his dad to Copenhagen, but they eventually came back to New York. After pursuing a career in truck driving back in Denmark after high school, he came back to America in order to act. At his graduation from St. Lawrence University, he refused to wear the robes since they were made by sweatshop workers. (Let me just come out and say how awesome this guy is.) He has a son, Henry, with his ex-wife Exene Cervenka. Viggo can speak English, Danish, Spanish, Norwegian, French, Italian, Catalan, and Swedish. He is also a poet, musician, photographer, and painter.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Movie Review - The Last Airbender

Can you feel the excitement?
The movie Eragon (2006) has become the poster boy for horribly bad book-to-movie adaptations. And with its laughably wrong plot, obnoxiously dull characters, atrocious dialogue and plain silly CGI, it’s easy to understand why it’s become infamous. The Last Airbender, the latest M. Night Shyamalan film, has been compared to Eragon in terms of badness. For fans of the original Nickelodeon show, Mr. Shyamalan's adaptation is nearly as offensive as Eragon, and while it’s easy to understand why the comparison is made, The Last Airbender doesn’t quite live up to the horrible reputation it’s received.

Director/Producer Profile: Peter Jackson

Good facial hair.
Personal Life
Jackson was born on October 31, 1961 in Pukerua Bay, New Zealand as the only son of 2 British immigrants. He grew up as a film enthusiast, but has no formal training; most of his knowledge is from personal trial and error.  King Kong and The Lord of the Rings have been passions of Jackson’s for many years. In 1993, he and others founded Weta Digital, a digital visual effects company used extensively in his films. He continues to live in New Zealand with his wife Fran Walsh, who is a screenwriter and producer, and their two children Billy and Katie. Most of the filming for his movies takes place there. Jackson is known to make cameo appearances in nearly all of his films.

Actor Profile: Emma Watson

Um. Yes, please.
Personal Life
Emma was born in Paris on April 20, 1990 to 2 British lawyers. Following their divorce at age 5, she moved to Oxfordshire with her mother and younger brother. She did all sorts of non-professional acting as a child up until her big role as Hermione Granger in the Harry Potter series. As she grew older, she started to show an interest in fashion and modeling, working for both Burberry and People Tree. She is rather intelligent, as evidenced by her straight A’s on her GCSE exams in 2006 and her admission to Brown University. Emma has 1 brother, 3 half-brothers, and 2 twin half-sisters.

As If Mulan 2 Wasn't Bad Enough....

. . . as Mulan?
Zhang Ziyi has officially bitten more off more than she can chew. This actress has recently announced her intention to both star in and produce a live action version of Disney’s Mulan.
Once an animated classic, Ziyi brought the idea to Walt Disney studios to create a remake of this ancient tale which follows an awkward, young girl in China rising to become a renowned and self-fulfilled warrior woman. Critically acclaimed, the original Mulan is definitely must-see material, but trying to follow up with a different version of this film is about as foolhardy and ill fated as rapper Eminem’s post Curtain Call comeback attempt.

The Boring Bounty Hunter: A Review of Jonah Hex

Bow Chicka Bow Wow
The film Jonah Hex follows the story of, well, Jonah Hex, a Confederate soldier turned bounty hunter with a taste for violence, vengeance, Native Americans, the supernatural (he was awakened from the grave by the aforementioned Native Americans and now has the ability to communicate with the dead. Pretty neato, huh?), and holds an apparent disregard for the government and society in general. One day, Hex is informed that his old nemesis, a man named Quentin Turnbull, is not quite as dead as he would have hoped and is back to create some mischief … in other words destroy the United States. (After the Confederacy lost during the Civil War, this Yankee hater decided to go all old-school terrorist and kick some serious Union tail end.) Incidentally, Turnbull happens to be the same man who killed Hex’s family in retaliation for his own son’s death and thus is the perfect target for some fancy gun-slinging.
The problem is that Jonah Hex, which could at this point have become a fairly intriguing, mystical, and historically-revisionist Western, quickly ends up being, instead, little more than a clunky, soul-less mess.
Following the discovery of Turnbull, the movie settles into a tedious and repetitive cycle: Hex heading to a new location, Hex having a muddled and uninteresting conversation with a new character in order to lay down exposition, Hex growling and spitting out a cheesy one liner, and finally Hex shooting down anything moving within the surrounding area. Rinse and repeat.