The Hangover Part III

The Hangover Part III
Starring Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, Zach Galifianakis, Justin Bartha, John Goodman and Ken Jeong
Directed by Todd Phillips (The Hangover)
Rated R for pervasive language including sexual references, some violence and drug content, and brief graphic nudity

    In this third and supposedly final installment of the Hangover franchise, Alan (Galifianakis) is going through some hard times after the death of his father, and his buddies Phil, Stu and Doug (Cooper, Helms and Bartha) try to convince him to check himself into a rehab center in the hopes of getting him back to semi-normal again.  Unfortunately they are stopped along the way by a gangster (Goodman) who takes Doug hostage until the others can find and bring him Mr. Chow (Jeong).  

    I was really looking forward to this movie.  Reading the synopsis I was excited about two things: the fact that they weren’t doing another drug hangover like the pointless second film and that the story actually seemed pretty good.  And it would have worked too if there was any thought put past the initial idea.  The Hangover Part III doesn’t suffer from story, but rather the inspiration to create a comedy to even come close to matching up to the first film.  

    First off, the writing just isn’t very creative and its certainly not funny.  One of the things about the first film that worked so well was that each individual scene and each little character added their own little hook.  Whether it be the stupid drug dealer or the kid tazering Alan, the film was a blast.  In this third installment, the characters they come across are boring and add nothing to the enjoyment of the film.  There is so much space here for comedy and instead its filled with a vacuum.  It also feels like room was made for improv in order to add the laughs and they forgot to fill that void.   

    Secondly, the performances are quite bad.  Sure Galifianakis and Jeong are over-the-top and fun to watch, but Cooper, Helms, Goodman and the rest of the cast are phoning it in the entire time.  It’s like they know they are in a potentially bad film but the money is just too good to turn down.  I was bored by this cast for the majority of the movie and frankly, that is a huge letdown considering how talented they are.

    Overall, the movie suffers from a lack of inspiration.  The desire to produce a sequel overrode the need to create another legendary film.  Or maybe the pressure just got to everyone, forcing them to accept a not-so-great alternative for a final product.  And unfortunately the audience is taken for another ride they will discover they didn’t want to go on.  C

New in Home Entertainment – May 28, 2013

New in Home Entertainment

May 28, 2013

Arrested Development: Season Four
Available on Netflix

In 2006 Arrested Development saw its last episode air, in spite of its huge cult following.  Now in 2013, Netflix has created 15 new episodes, all launched this last weekend, in the hopes of keeping the fire alive.  As of press time, I’ve only had the pleasure of seeing a few episodes, but so far I am hooked once again.  Following television’s most dysfunctional family, the Bluths, this new season tells us, one episode at a time, what each of these hilarious psychos are up to.  Rumor has it these episodes are leading up to a movie which will eventually come our way, but in the meantime, I’m glad that the comedy gods have favored us once more with such a welcome addition.  And if you don’t have Netflix, this might give you a reason to start subscribing.  A

Cleopatra: 50th Anniversary Edition
Rated G
Available on Blu-ray

While panned in its day, this huge colossal production starring Elizabeth Taylor as the famed queen and Richard Burton and Rex Harrison, respectively, as Mark Antony and Julius Caesar is getting a huge facelift for blu-ray and is even seeing some theatrical screenings nationwide.  At 251 minutes, it’s a bladder buster, but it’s also a spectacle worth seeing.  Today these sets would have been done on a computer, but back in 63 the studios spent a huge, almost bankrupting sum to create such a circus.  Personally, I like HBO’s treatment of Cleopatra in its series Rome much better, but I still must admit that this feature is an impressive bit of Hollywood history.  B+

3:10 to Yuma: Criterion Collection

Available on DVD and Blu-ray

“Safe!  Who knows safe?  I knew a man dropped dead from lookin’ at his wife.  My own grandmother fought the Indians for sixty years… then choked to death on lemon pie.”  This is just an example of the great writing on this original 1957 western by Delmer Daves starring Glenn Ford as a fun -loving outlaw who is being escorted to justice by a desperate farmer (Van Heflin).  Sure I like the 2007 remake starring Russell Crowe and Christian Bale better, but this one is a great little treasure and this new restored print looks and sounds pristine and is full of great dialog and action.  This should make fans of old westerns extremely happy patrons.  B+

New in Home Entertainment – May 21, 2013

New in Home Entertainment

May 21, 2013

Side Effects
Rated R for sexuality, nudity, violence and language
Available on DVD and Blu-ray

When a loving house wife (Rooney Mara) inadvertently stabs her husband (Channing Tatum) while taking an investigational anti-depressant, her psychiatrist (Jude Law) and the pharmaceutical industry come under fire.  For half of the movie I was getting annoyed that this was just a big pharma is bad story and that director Steven Soderbergh (Traffic) was trying to simply make a statement.  I should have known better.  That storyline is just a sleight of hand while the real story hits you over the head and takes you completely by surprise.  Rather than lose steam, the movie picks it up and gives a great thrill ride to the very end.  This is certainly one of the most under-appreciated movies of the last year, probably because telling someone why they might want to see it gives away the surprise.  I don’t want to spoil your fun so trust me, just check it out.  A-

Mel Brooks: Make a Noise
Available on DVD

For over 60 years the legendary Mel Brooks has been entertaining audiences across many platforms and genres.  This American Masters series documentary gives you an in-depth look at the man and his life, as well as a plethora of wonderfully funny film clips that play like a greatest hits.  But its when the interviewer gets personal with Brooks that you start to feel like you are finally getting to know the man who has brought so much unadulterated joy to millions around the planet.  A

The Last Stand
Rated R for strong bloody violence throughout, and language
Available on DVD and Blu-ray

For Arnold Schwarzenegger’s big comeback he chose this loud action flick about an aged small-town Sheriff who is forced to take on a drug cartel when his border town is the only thing standing in the way of their leader getting into Mexico.  I really wanted to like this film.  After all, I have a nostalgic fondness for Arnold and I was excited to see famed Asian director Jee-woon Kim’s first American project.  Unfortunately, the dialog is atrocious, allowing for too much dry and unnecessary exposition, and the plot points are not only predictable, but lack the sophistication expected from this director and actor.  This is straight up violence and it gets old fast.  C-

True Blood: The Complete Fifth Season
Available on DVD and Blu-ray

While season four of the hit HBO show got a little tedious, this fifth season ended up being rather fun and completely unpredictable.  With the majority of the season revolving around Bill, Eric and the Vampire Authority, there was a lot less of the silly love triangle and a lot more discovering of the underground universe from the Sookie Stackhouse novels by Charlaine Harris.  Okay, so there is an extreme amount of nudity (yes more than usual) in this season, which even made me feel a little uncomfortable at times, but I finally got excited again about a show that, for a spell, I thought I was growing tired of.  A-

The Ten Movies I Can’t Wait to See This Summer

The Ten Movies I Can’t Wait to See this Summer

by Danny Minton

It goes without saying that summer is big business for Hollywood.  Almost every weekend a studio releases a big-budget tentpole picture that they are hoping will be a runaway hit.  Regardless of the buzz, not everything will succeed.  For every Avengers, if 2012 is a good indicator, there are several Battleships.  So what will bomb this summer? Your guess is as good as mine.  I think that The Lone Ranger has the potential to be a disaster, even with Johnny Depp involved.  And do we need another presidential terrorist film with White House Down?  I’m on the fence about many of the other big movies being released, but I will tell you what I am most excited to see over the coming few months.


10) Epic (May 24)  Most of the animated films being released this summer are sequels or prequels but Kudos to Twentieth Century Fox for taking an expensive chance on relatively unknown entity about the fight for everything green on Earth.  While the Ice Age pedigree does nothing for me, I am impressed with and look forward to what looks like an excellent animated pic. 

9) World War Z (June 21)  I loved the book but I’ll admit that the movie so far looks nothing like the images in my head during that read.  That being said, Brad Pitt’s huge special effects extravaganza could be a frightening thrill ride worth going on.

8) The Hangover Part III (May 24)
  Loved the first.  Hated the second.  This time around they are forgoing the whole wake up with no memory of events transpired theme and instead they are simply going back to Vegas for another wild and crazy adventure.  Everything I’ve seen about this makes me think it could be great.  I’m pretty sure I said that about the second film too though so only time will tell.

7) Your’e Next (June 7)  This little indie about a family that receives a brutally scary home invasion has received a lot of notoriety for scaring audiences at film festivals world-wide.  Since I haven’t seen a good scary movie in several years – I’m hoping this one can deliver the goods.

6) The World’s End (August 23)  Writer/Director Edgar Wright (Hot Fuzz/Shaun of the Dead) re-teams with his acting cronies Simon Pegg and Nick Frost for this tale about five friends trying to recreate an epic pub crawl from their youths, all during an alien invasion.  Wright is quickly turning into one of my favorite filmmakers and I’m fairly certain this one will become another underground hit. 

5) This is the End (June 12)  And yet another end of the world movie?  Keep em coming if they look this fun.  Here James Franko, Paul Rudd, Seth Rogen, Jonah Hill, Danny McBride and countless other comedians/actors play themselves as they try to survive the end of the world.  All it took was watching the red-band trailer and I was hooked.  There are some great looking comedies coming out this year but this one looks like it might be the best. 

4) Kick Ass 2 (August 16)  Kick Ass was the perfect combination of comedy and action.  While there is a new and largely untested writer/director at the helm, the cast is what is getting me most anxious.  Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Chloe Grace Moretz are back as Kick Ass and Hit-Girl but joining the street heroes is Jim Carey as Colonel Stars and Stripes.  This one could turn out to be a stinker, but I am holding out hope for something big and fun.

3) Elysium (August 9)
If writer/director Neil Blomkamp can make District 9 on a shoe string, then I can’t wait to see what he can pull off with a tentpole budget.  Set in the year 2154 in a world where the wealthy live on a space station while the rest of humanity fight it out on a dying planet, Matt Damon attempts to equalize the two worlds.  This could be a huge sci-fi epic.

2) Pacific Rim (July 12)
  Yet another potential sci-fi epic is Guillermo Del Toro’s (Pan’s Labyrinth) film about a giant alien attack that forces humankind to build gigantic robots in order to fight them off and save the planet.  What the film lacks in stars it more than makes up for in sheer grandiosity.

1) Man of Steel (June 14)  Growing up in the late seventies and eighties, Superman was my favorite hero.  After the second film, the franchise went downhill fast and could not recover with 2006’s mediocre return.  This time is different though.  A new beginning, new story and a fresh new perspective makes this look like the film to beat this summer.  While largely unknown, I believe the talented Henry Cavill will impress his critics and 300 director Zack Snyder along with producer Christopher Nolan could bring us a Superman film for the ages.

New in Home Entertainment – May 14, 2013

New in Home Entertainment

May 14, 2013

Cloud Atlas
Rated R for violence, language, sexuality/nudity and some drug use
Available on DVD and Blu-ray

This new, extremely ambitious project from the Wachowski siblings (The Matrix) and Tom Tykwer (Perfume) tells several unique stories taking place in the past, present and future, all with the same centralized theme: slavery and freedom.  Some of the stories are epic, such as the one about the human fabricant from New Seoul, and some are less inspired.  But as a whole, the movie keeps you on the edge of your seat and your brain racing as you try to figure it all out.  Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Jim Broadbent, Hugh Grant and others each play multiple characters, male and female, making the movie seem more like an intimate play than a big-budget extravaganza.  I’ve seen the movie 3 times now and I still don’t really get it – but I still really want to.  Thankfully there are some great special features here to help clear up some of the confusion.  B+

Dexter: The Seventh Season
Not Rated but full of violence, sex/nudity and bad language
Available on DVD and Blu-ray

After the sixth season I was sure this storyline was going downhill, but the hit Showtime series was rescued in a big way with this latest twisty, nerve-racking season.  Now that Dexter’s sister has discovered his secret of being a sadistic vigilante, she tries to help him cure himself of his disease rather than ignore or turn him in.  Unfortunately, he has a Russian mafia leader (played by the terrific Ray Stevenson) who wants him dead and his boss thinks he might be the Bay Harbor Butcher.  A ton of shocking surprises set up what will hopefully be a legendary eighth and final season.  A-

The Verdict
Rated R
Available on Blu-ray

Twentieth Century Fox is re-releasing several old classics this week on Blu-ray, including The Great Escape, Viva Zapata!, Brubaker and a collection of films by Henry Fonda on DVD, but my favorite from the bunch has to be The Verdict.  This influential 1982 Sidney Lumet courtroom drama provides Paul Newman one of his most complex roles as an ambulance-chasing attorney who must take a trial to court when the stakes become higher than he planned.  The film feels dated, but the performances are red hot and the new high-def transfer looks and sounds great.  A-

New in Home Entertainment – May 7, 2013

New in Home Entertainment

May 7, 2013

Rated PG-13 for violence and terror, some disturbing images and thematic elements
Available on DVD and Blu-ray

When two girls go missing in the woods for a long period of time and are then found, they go to live with their uncle and aunt.  Unfortunately, the spirit in the woods that has practically raised them comes along and haunts the newly-formed family.  In order to better sell the project to audiences, the film is first billed as ‘Guillermo Del Toro Presents’ even though it looks like he had very little to do with the actual production.  Instead, a very capable director, Andy Muschietti, does a fine job at delivering a very creepy movie that overdoes the CG a little too much, but still provides chills-a-plenty.  Of course it helps to have two-time Oscar nom Jessica Chastain and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (Game of Thrones) heading up the talented cast. While its certainly not as scary or eccentric as some of Del Toro’s actual projects, this one will make most horror fans happy.  B

Jack Reacher
Rated PG-13 for violence, language and some drug material
Available on DVD and Blu-ray

This much-anticipated first film based on the famous character from the Lee Child book series introduces us to the world of Jack Reacher, played here by Tom Cruise.  Jack is a highly decorated former MP and a nomad, moving from town to town, owning nothing but a toothbrush.  When a former military sniper is arrested for taking out a crowd of civilians, Reacher rushes in to help the defense attorney (Rosamund Pike) figure out all of the details of the case and if maybe there is more to it than what was originally thought.  The story itself is interesting, but the production seems so amateur.  The script is pretty lousy, making you think you are watching auditions or rehearsals rather than a polished film.  That could possibly be due to some lousy casting or bad performances, but it just didn’t feel like a Tom Cruise movie.  To make it worse, the pacing was slow and the music was terrible.  The only thing holding the project together was Cruise, who really tried admirably to create this new franchise.  If only it didn’t show like a made-for-television Friday night special.  C-

30 Rock: Season 7
Available on DVD

NBC has a habit of allowing sitcoms to go down in flames rather than letting them end on a high note.  They did it to Friends, we are in the process of watching it happen to The Office, and now 30 Rock.  I’m not going to say this final season is bad by any means.  It has a lot of little laughs and every once in a while a huge guffaw, but it has lost so much steam.  Still, I’m glad I got to experience the show and was able to appreciate it for all its silliness and time-wasting ability.  B-