Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Penny Thoughts ‘13—Spring Breakers (2013) ***½

R, 94 min.
Director/Writer: Harmony Korine
Starring: Ashley Benson, Vanessa Hudgens, Rachel Korine, James Franco, Selena Gomez, Gucci Mane

It’s way past Spring Break, but Harmony Korine’s latest controversial movie “Spring Breakers” is now available on most home video platforms. Korine, who has a signature of showing the not-so-nice aspects of life in films like “Kids” and “Julien Donkey-Boy”, returns to show us the dark side of the college ritual of Spring Break. Along the way he corrupts the images of former Disney stars Selena Gomez and Vanessa Hudgens along with handing James Franco one of his more low-life performances. Franco’s character seems like it would’ve been written for Heath Ledger, but Franco does a fine job in it.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Penny Thoughts ‘13—Hatfields & McCoys (2012) ***

TV-14, 290 min.
Director: Kevin Reynolds
Writers: Bill Kirby, Ted Mann, Ronald Parker
Starring: Kevin Costner, Bill Paxton, Matt Barr, Tom Berenger, Powers Booth, Andrew Howard, Jena Malone, Sarah Parish, Lindsay Pulsipher, Ronan Vibert, Joe Absolom, Joel Fisher, Boyd Holbrook, Tom McKay, Sam Reid, Mare Winningham

The History Channel’s dramatization of the conflict between the Hatfields of West Virginia and the McCoys of Kentucky, whose feud spanned across the boarder of those states and over the course of three decades, makes me think of the misconception so often in war that each side of a conflict believes that God is on their side. In this particular conflict, the head of the McCoy family, Ronald McCoy, certainly believed that his was the righteous side of the conflict, while Anderson “Devil Anse” Hatfield was wise enough to observe that God couldn’t be on both sides. Since he felt he was in the right, he didn’t think God had much to do with it.  Perhaps that’s why after the conflict Anse found God and seemed to live a happier life while Ronald wallowed in his fate.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Penny Thoughts ‘13—Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows (2011) ***

PG-13, 129 min.
Director: Guy Ritchie
Writers: Michele Mulroney, Kieran Mulroney, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (characters)
Starring: Robert Downey Jr., Jude Law, Noomi Rapace, Jared Harris, Stephen Fry, Paul Anderson, Kelly Reilly, Geraldine James, Eddie Marsan, William Houston

“A Game of Shadows” adds a little bit more sleuthing to the action/mystery combination of the big screen Sherlock Holmes franchise. What this has to offer that is missed by the modern television versions of Sherlock is that grand scale that only cinema can provide. It isn’t as graceful, but it’s a hell of a lot of fun.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Penny Thoughts ‘13—Little Big Man (1970) ***½

PG-13, 139 min.
Director: Arthur Penn
Writers: Calder Willingham, Thomas Berger (novel)
Starring: Dustin Hoffman, Faye Dunaway, Chief Dan George, Martin Balsam, Richard Mulligan, Jeff Corey, Amy Eccles, Kelly Jean Peters, Carol Androsky, Robert Little Star, Cal Bellini, Ruben Moreno, Steve Shemayne, William Hickey

On the heels of his revolutionary films “Bonnie and Clyde” and “Alice’s Restaurant”, director Arthur Penn turned his scope on Hollywood for his next assassination. His target was the depiction of the American Indian by motion pictures and television since the days when John Huston made John Wayne into a star. His star to expose the Hollywood lie of the way of the Indians was a 5’5” Jew who had become a star by playing a nothing and a rat.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

The Wolverine / *** (PG-13)

Logan/Wolverine: Hugh Jackman
Mariko: Tao Okamoto
Yukio: Rila Fukushima
Shingen: Hiroyuki Sanada
Viper: Svetlana Khodchenkova
Noburo: Brian Tee
Yashima: Haruhiko Yamanouchi
Harada: Will Yun Lee
Jean Grey: Famke Janssen

20th Century Fox presents a film directed by James Mangold. Written by Mark Bomback and Scott Frank. Based on the Marvel Comics character. Running time: 126 min. Rated PG-13 (for sequences of intense sci-fi action and violence, some sexuality and language).

Before it opened, the best thing “The Wolverine” had going for it was that it couldn’t be worse than 2009’s “X-Men Origins: Wolverine”. That film might’ve been a sign of over-eagerness on the studio’s part to continue the X-Men franchise about the Marvel Comics mutant superhero team. They tapped a visionary director in Gavin Hood, but he was inexperienced in Hollywood and may have allowed the executives too much input in the final product. It was also confusing for audiences to delve into the origin of the team’s most popular member, Wolverine, since the secrecy of his origin has always been one of the character’s appealing qualities. His mutant healing factor means that he may be hundreds of years old, and few writers have been willing to lift the cloud of mystery about his actual origins. So the film was a patchwork version of violence with a large number of new mutants introduced that made it a jumbled mess of special effects and nonsense.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Penny Thoughts ‘13—Sherlock Holmes (2009) ***

PG-13, 128 min.
Director: Guy Ritchie
Writers: Michael Robert Johnson, Anthony Peckham, Simon Kinberg, Lionel Wigram, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (characters)
Starring: Robert Downey Jr., Jude Law, Rachel McAdams, Mark Strong, Eddie Marsan, Robert Maillet, Geraldine James, Kelly Reilly, William Houston, Hans Matheson, James Fox, William Hope

Continuing my series on Sherlock Homes.

The new big screen franchise of “Sherlock Holmes” is just that. It’s big. It’s bombastic. It turns Sherlock into more of an action hero than a sleuth. Yet, it still works. I can’t help but think that without Robert Downey Jr. in the title role, this movie would just be a big stinking pile of action crap. Downey, however finds a way to make his action hero version of Holmes just quirky and dysfunctional enough to remain an interesting hero. Jude Law works the charm pretty heavy as Watson as well.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Penny Thoughts ‘13—Head (1968) ****

G, 86 min.
Director: Bob Rafelson
Writers: Bob Rafelson, Jack Nicholson
Starring: Peter Tork, David Jones, Mickey Dolenz, Michael Nesmith, Victor Mature, Annette Funicello, Timothy Carey, Logan Ramsey

“Head” is a tough film to write a recommendation for. Some people may not “get” it. It’s so outside the box and strange and psychedelic, but those are all the things it’s trying to be. For those who are into that, this movie is a must see. It doesn’t matter if you never liked the Monkees. I never really did, but I love this movie.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Turbo / *** (PG)

Featuring the voices of:
Theo/Turbo: Ryan Reynolds
Chet: Paul Giamatti
Tito: Michael Peña
Whiplash: Samuel L. Jackson
Angelo: Luis Guzmán
Guy Gagné: Bill Hader
Smoove Move: Snoop Dogg
Burn: Maya Rudolph
Skidmark: Ben Schwartz
Bobby: Richard Jenkins
Kim Ly: Ken Jeong
Paz: Michelle Rodriguez
White Shadow: Michael Patrick Bell

DreamWorks Animation SKG presents a film directed by David Soren. Written by Darren Lemke and Robert Siegel and Soren. Running time: 96 min. Rated PG (for some mild action and thematic elements).

OK, there’s this huge monumental absurdly ridiculous detail in the new movie “Turbo” that you must just accept for all its improbability in order to enjoy the movie. The filmmakers seem to be acutely aware of the level of suspension of disbelief for which they are asking here. The idea of a snail competing in the Indianapolis 500 car race is an absolutely incongruous rock to swallow. But then, this is a family cartoon, not a place where realism is one of the cornerstones of the genre. So, if you can get past that little nugget of improbability, that’s about the most amount of work you’re going to have to do for this good-natured, feel good cartoon.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Penny Thoughts ‘13—Manhunter (1986) ***½

R, 121 min.
Director: Michael Mann
Writers: Michael Mann, Thomas Harris (novel “Red Dragon”)
Starring: William Petersen, Dennis Farina, Kim Greist, Tom Noonan, Joan Allen, Brian Cox, Stephen Lang, David Seaman, Benjamin Hendrickson

I’ve been meaning to get back to Michael Mann’s 1986 crime drama “Manhunter” ever since watching NBC’s “Hannibal” early this summer. Of all the Hannibal Lecter related movies, this is the one that series made me think of the most. Perhaps that because the central character here is Will Graham, the same as in the TV series. Of course Edward Norton played Graham in the remake of this as “Red Dragon” a decade and a half later. But it is William Petersen’s Graham that seems more like the one presented by Hugh Dancy in the television series.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Penny Thoughts ‘13—Comedy Bang! Bang! Season 1 (2012) **

TV-14, 10 21-min. episodes
Creator: Scott Aukerman

Director: Benjamin Berman

Writers: Scott Aukerman, Leo Allen, Neil Campbell, Dave Ferguson, Tim Kalpakis, Erin Keating, Dan Pasternack

Starring: Scott Aukerman, Reggie Watts

Special guests: Zach Galifianakis, Amy Poehler, Jon Hamm, Michael Cera, Seth Rogen, Paul Rudd, Ed Helms, Elizabeth Banks, Adam Scott, ‘Weird Al’ Yankovic

Guest starring: Andrew Daly, Will Forte, David Koechner, Nick Kroll, Leo Allen, Paul F. Tompkins, Bob Odenkirk, Casey Wilson, James Adomian, Matt Besser, Seth Morris, Owen Burke, David Wain, Jon Daly, Tim Heidecker, Jon Heder, Jack Black, Kyle Gass, Kerri Kenny, David Cross, Will Arnett, Topher Grace, Chris Parnell

If you haven’t been introduced to the world of comedy podcasts, then IFC’s television talk show—or maybe it should be called a mock show—may not be for you. “Comedy Bang! Bang!” is a long running comedy podcast during which host Scott Aukerman sits down to interview one real guest star each week and is interrupted by any number of revolving fake guests in an improvisational format.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Penny Thoughts ‘13—Young Sherlock Holmes (1985) **½

PG-13, 109 min.
Director: Barry Levinson
Writers: Chris Columbus, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (characters)
Starring: Nicholas Rowe, Alan Cox, Sophie Ward, Anthony Higgins, Susan Fleetwood, Freddie Jones, Nigel Stock, Roger Ashton-Griffiths, Earl Rhodes
Narrator: Michael Hordern

My Sherlock series continues with Steven Spielberg’s mid-80s swipe at the iconic detective, “Young Sherlock Holmes”. Not an actual adaptation of one of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock stories, this movie imagines a school-aged Sherlock and Watson meeting at more developmental states for each of them. Meeting at a private academy, Sherlock has yet to master the violin. When Watson asks him how long he’s been playing, Sherlock confesses it’s been three whole days.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Penny Thoughts ‘13—Upstream Color (2013) ***½

NR, 96 min.
Director/Writer: Shane Carruth
Starring: Amy Seimetz, Shane Carruth, Andrew Sensenig, Thaigo Martins

I’m going to describe the plot of “Upstream Color” and you’re going to get an idea of what type of movie this is, and you’re going to be totally wrong.

Shane Carruth’s directorial follow-up to his brilliant ultra low budget time travel film “Primer” is another surprise in independent science fiction. “Upstream Color” is about a drug that is developed by a thief that allows him to take control of other people’s actions. He abducts them and administers his drug. Then he has them empty all their bank accounts in such a way so as not to arise suspicion. He controls them for a long period of time and then leaves them to the repercussions of their interrupted lives.

Friday, July 19, 2013

The Conjuring / ** (R)

Ed Warren: Patrick Wilson
Lorraine Warren: Vera Farmiga
Roger Perron: Ron Livingston
Carolyn Perron: Lili Taylor
Andrea: Shanely Caswell
Nancy: Haley McFarlane
Christine: Joey King
Cindy: Mackenzie Foy
April: Kyla Deaver

Warner Bros. and New Line Cinema present a film directed by James Wan. Written by Chad Hayes & Carey W. Hayes. Running time: 112 min. Rated R (for sequences of disturbing violence and terror).

I have to get something out of my system before I really get into this review. In the opening scene, the demonologists, Ed and Lorraine Warren, are interviewing two women. A man sits next to the women. It is never stated who he is or why he is there. He is not involved in the incident the two women describe. Who is this man? What is he doing there? Was something cut from the scene? Did I miss something? Why is his presence never explained? And no, he’s not a ghost. He sits there as the women describe their supernatural experience. I thought maybe their experience was a fraud and he was manipulating the doll they claimed was possessed. But it wasn’t him. He didn’t do it. He never says a word. Why is he there?!!!! This is maddening.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Penny Thoughts ‘13—Undeclared (2001-2002) ***½

TV-14, 17 22-min. episodes
Creator: Judd Apatow

Directors: Jake Kasdan, John Hamburg, Greg Mottola, Judd Apatow, Jay Chandrasekhar, Paul Feig, Jon Favreau

Writers: Judd Apatow, Rodney Rothman, Jennifer Konner, Alexandra Rushfield, Seth Rogen, Nicholas Stoller, Kristofor Brown, Joel Madison, Brent Forrester

Starring: Jay Baruchel, Carla Gallo, Charlie Hunnam, Monica Keena, Seth Rogen, Tim Sharp, Loudon Wainwright

Guest starring: Jason Segel, Christina Payano, Kevin Rankin, Jarrett Grode, P.B. Smiley, Simon Helberg, Jenna Fischer, Amy Poehler, Will Ferrell, Katherine Towne, Elisa Bocanegra, Leroy Adams, Greg Mottola, Adam Sandler, Allen Covert, Jonathan Loughran, Kyle Gass, David Krumholtz, Sarah Hagan, Sam Levine, Steve Bannos, Lacey Beeman, Jake Hoffman, Jeremy Howard, Matt McKane, Seth St. Laurent, Felicia Day, Fred Willard, Ted Nugent, Geoffrey Arend, Adam Alexi-Malle, Gerry Bednob, Joanne Cho, Kevin Hart, Cathy Lind Hayes, Joel McKinnon Miller, Mary Kay Place, Kimberly Stewart, Amy Wright, Clement Blake, Busy Phillips, Blake Shields, Alexa Davalos, Bhavana Kundanmal, Erica Hubbard, Kelly Karbacz, Sarah Carter, Martin Starr, Youki Kudoh, Alex Breckenridge, Jim Brooks, Kim Fifield, Sarah Ann Morris, Ben Stiller

It was fortuitous that I should finally get around to watching this cult favorite, typically canceled, Judd Aapatow-created sitcom in the same month that Seth Rogen released his feature film “This Is the End”. Otherwise, I might not have realized just how he and Jay Baruchel were connected. Baruchel is technically the lead in the ensemble college-based comedy that gets just about everything about being a campus college student correct. How could this series not have succeeded?

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Penny Thoughts ‘13—Sherlock: The Reichenbach Fall (2012) ****

TV-14, 90 min.
Director: Toby Haynes
Writers: Steve Thompson, Mark Gatiss (creator), Steven Moffat (creator), Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (works)
Starring: Benedict Cumberbacth, Martin Freeman, Andrew Scott, Una Stubbs, Rupert Graves, Mark Gatiss, Louise Brealey, Katherine Parkinson, Vinette Robinson, Jonathan Aris, Tony Pitts

I’m wondering what iconic “Sherlock” story details are left for season three of this amazing series. I’m sure there are many that I’m forgetting, but for those with knowledge of Sherlock’s adventures, “The Reichenbach Fall” is one of the crown jewels. For those unfamiliar with the books… well, I probably shouldn’t spoil what so famously happened at Reichenbach Falls.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Penny Thoughts ‘13—Anna Karenina (2012) **½

R, 129 min.
Director: Joe Wright
Writers: Tom Stoppard, Leo Tolstoy (novel)
Starring: Keira Knightley, Jude Law, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Matthew Macfadyen, Kelly Macdonald, Domhnall Gleeson, Alicia Vikander, Ruth Wilson, David Wilmot, Tannishtha Chatterjee, Olivia Williams, Emily Watson

Beautiful production, but boy, Anna Karenina is an idiot.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Penny Thoughts ‘13—The Great Mouse Detective (1986) **

G, 74 min.
Directors: Ron Clements, Burny Mattinson, Dave Michener, John Musker
Writers: Pete Young, Vance Gerry, Steve Hulett, Ron Clements, John Musker, Bruce M. Morris, Matthew O’Callaghan, Burny Mattinson, Dave Michener, Melvin Shaw, Eve Titus (book “Basil of Baker Street”), Paul Galdone (book “Basil of Baker Street”)
Voices: Barrie Ingham, Val Bettin, Vincent Price, Susanne Pollatschek, Candy Candido, Diana Chesney, Eve Brenner, Alan Young

Watching the BBC’s “Sherlock” has put me on an all out Sherlock Holmes kick. I might even have to crack open a couple of Arthur Conan Doyle volumes. So, with Sherlock on the brain, it seemed natural that this week’s family movie night should fall right into cadence and we watched Disney’s 1986 animated feature “The Great Mouse Detective”. While not technically a Sherlock Homes adventure, since it follows his mouse equivalent Basil of Baker Street from the children’s book of that name. Sherlock and Watson do make cameo appearances in shadow form with actual dialogue from the Basil Rathbone Holmes films from the 30’s that inspire the name of this version’s hero.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Penny Thoughts ‘13—Sherlock: The Hounds of Baskerville (2012) ****

TV-14, 90 min.
Director: Paul McGuigan
Writers: Mark Gatiss (also creator), Steven Moffat (creator), Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (works)
Starring: Benedict Cuberbatch, Martin Freeman, Russell Tovey, Amelia Bullmore, Clive Mantle, Una Stubbs, Rupert Graves, Mark Gatiss, Andrew Scott, Simon Paisley Day, Sasha Behar, Stephen Wight, Gordon Kennedy, Kevin Trainor

“The Hound of the Baskervilles” is probably the most well known of Sherlock Holmes’ casebook. It’s certainly one of the most frequently filmed. It’s also the one that borders on horror. I watched the 1959 version with Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing as Holmes several years ago for my annual Horrorfest. The update for the series “Sherlock”, relettered to read “The Hounds of Baskerville”, lives up to every previous version. Although, there’s still only one hound, so I don’t know why either word is pluralized.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Pacific Rim / **½ (PG-13)

Raleigh Becket: Charlie Hunnam
Stacker Pentecost: Idris Elba
Mako Mori: Rinko Kikuchi
Dr. Newton Geiszler: Charlie Day
Herc Hansen: Max Martini
Chuck Hansen: Robert Kazinsky
Ops Tendo Choi: Clifton Collins Jr.
Gottlieb: Burn Gorman
Hannibal Chau: Ron Perlman

Warner Bros. Pictures presents a film directed by Guillermo del Toro. Written by Travis Beacham & del Toro. Running time: 132 min. Rated PG-13 (for sequences of intense sci-fi action and violence throughout, and brief language).

According to the advertising department at Warner Bros., “’Pacific Rim’ is this generation’s ‘Star Wars’.” Why is it that any movie that involves aliens or monsters where all the characters have individualized nicknames, including the monsters, is invariably compared to “Star Wars”? This movie is nothing like “Star Wars” in content, vision, impact, or (hopefully) legacy.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Penny Thoughts ‘13—Side Effects (2013) ***

R, 106 min.
Director: Steven Soderbergh
Writer: Scott Z. Burns
Starring: Jude Law, Rooney Mara, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Channing Tatum, Vinessa Shaw, Ann Dowd, Michael Nathanson, Peter Friedman, Laila Robins, David Constabile, Mamie Gummer

Watching Steven Soderbergh’s “Side Effects”, a thriller about the institution of drugs for the treatment of psychological conditions, I wondered at first what drew the director to this subject for one of his final films before his planned retirement. By the halfway point, I knew. As is often the case with Soderbergh, he examines his subject from an angle that doesn’t scream out what it’s really about.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Penny Thoughts ‘13—Sherlock: A Scandal in Belgravia (2012) ****

TV-14, 90 min.
Director: Paul McGuigan
Writers: Steven Moffat (also creator), Mark Gatiss (creator), Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (works)
Starring: Benedict Cumberbatch, Martin Freeman, Lara Pulver, Una Stubbs, Rupert Graves, Mark Gatiss, Andrew Scott, Louise Brealey

“A Scandal in Belgravia”, a title I’m not sure I understand beyond the fact that is sounds a lot like the Arthur Conan Doyle story “A Scandal in Bohemia”, introduces us to another character that is a necessity in the Sherlock Holmes canon, Irene Adler. The episode earns its TV-14 rating with Adler’s wardrobe alone, or lack there of. She is a professional dominatrix, whose career path has placed her in possession of some compromising photographs of a member of the Royal Family.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Penny Thoughts ‘13—The Goodwin Games (2013) **½

TV-14, 7 23-min. episodes
Creators: Carter Bays, Chris Harris, Craig Thomas

Directors: Peyton Reed, Jesse Peretz, David Katzenberg, John Putch, Neil Patrick Harris

Writers: Carter Bays, Craig Thomas, Chris Harris, Tom Ruprecht, Greg Schaffer, Christine Zander, Rachel Axler

Starring: Becki Newton, Scott Foley, T.J. Miller, Melissa Tang, Kat Foster, Beau Bridges

Guest starring: Jerrod Charmichael, Sabrina Carpenter, Will Shadley, Jadon Sand, Robert Belushi, Brenna Bay, Laurie Metcalf, Ingrid Haas, Adam Rodriguez, Dave Foley, Mckenna Grace, Eric Guzman, Chris Diamantopoulos, Janina Gavankar, Kaitlyn Maher, Kara Royster, Stephanie Black

“The Goodwin Games” is a comedy that was essentially canceled before it ever even aired. FOX picked up the comedy about three siblings who have to return to their small New England town after their wealthy father passes away and perform a series of character building tasks in order to inherit the money he left for them. It never found its way onto their schedule until the last week of their regular season programming. How’s that for a “don’t let the door hit you in the ass on the way out”?

Tuesday, July 09, 2013

Penny Thoughts ‘13—Sherlock: The Great Game (2010) ****

TV-14, 89 min.
Director: Paul McGuigan
Writers: Mark Gatiss (also creator), Steven Moffat (creator), Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (works)
Starring: Benedict Cumberbatch, Martin Freeman, Rupert Graves, Una Stubbs, Zoe Telford, Louise Brealey, Andrew Scott, Vinette Robinson, Mark Gatiss

Moriarty. The name whispers underneath almost ever Sherlock adventure in much the same way Voldemort does for Harry Potter. “Do people actually have arch nemeses?” Dr. Watson feels compelled to ask.

Monday, July 08, 2013

Despicable Me 2 / *** (PG)

Featuring the voices of:
Gru: Steve Carell
Lucy: Kristen Wiig
Margo: Miranda Cosgrove
Edith: Dana Gaier
Agnes: Elsie Fisher
Eduardo: Benjamin Bratt
Dr. Nefario: Russell Brand
Floyd: Ken Jeong
Silas: Steve Coogan

Universal Pictures presents a film directed by Pierre Coffin & Chris Renaud. Written by Ken Daurio & Cinco Paul. Running time: 98 min. Rated PG (for rude humor and mild action).

De•spi•ca•ble — adj. deserving to be despised: so worthless or obnoxious as to arouse moral indignation <despicable behavior>

Merriam-Webster defines the word “despicable” as “deserving to be despised.” For some reason this word has been applied by the filmmakers to the hero of the “Despicable Me” franchise, a criminal mastermind named Gru. At one point in time the word might have applied to Gru. He lives in a world where supervillains try to outdo one another with the brazen and public nature of their crimes. One such criminal stole one of the pyramids in the first film. Gru tried to retaliate by stealing the moon, but was tripped up by his own plan, which involved adopting three orphan girls to help him break into his nemesis’ lair. But Gru came to love these three little girls. Now, in a second film, Gru is not only far from despicable, he’s more like a hero; if not to the world at large, then at least to his three girls.

Sunday, July 07, 2013

Penny Thoughts ‘13—Despicable Me (2010) ***

PG, 95 min.
Directors: Pierre Coffin, Chris Renaud
Writers: Cinco Paul, Ken Daurio, Sergio Pablos
Voices: Steve Carell, Jason Segel, Russell Brand, Julie Andrews, Will Arnett, Kristen Wiig, Miranda Cosgrove, Dana Gaier, Elsie Fisher, Pierre Coffin, Chris Renaud, Jemaine Clement, Jack McBrayer, Danny McBride, Mindy Kaling, Rob Huebel, Ken Daurio, Ken Jeong

I don’t think I gave this movie enough credit when I saw it in theaters. I was a victim of needless 3D. It was during the release of “Despicable Me” when I’d finally had enough of the 3D movement. It’s a gimmick that rarely adds any viable artistic or entertainment value to a motion picture and I’m sick of having to see it on most event releases. I found the 2D home experience of “Despicable Me” more enjoyable.

Saturday, July 06, 2013

The Lone Ranger / **½ (PG-13)

John Reid/Lone Ranger: Armie Hammer
Tonto: Johnny Depp
Butch Cavendish: William Fichtner
Cole: Tom Wilkinson
Rebecca Reid: Ruth Wilson
Red Harrington: Helena Bonham Carter
Dan Reid: James Badge Dale
Danny: Bryant Prince
Fuller: Barry Pepper

Walt Disney Pictures presents a film directed by Gore Verbinski. Written by Justin Haythe and Ted Elliott & Terry Rossio. Running time: 149 min. Rated PG-13 (for sequences of intense action and violence, and some suggestive material).

Have you ever been walking along the sidewalk and tripped on your own pant leg? There’s no reasonable explanation for it. It can happen to anyone. Most of us have been walking for years with expert skill. But somehow, every once and a while we trip on something that isn’t an obstacle. That’s how I feel about the new film adaptation of “The Lone Ranger”.

Friday, July 05, 2013

Penny Thoughts ‘13—Sherlock: The Blind Banker (2010) ****

TV-14, 89 min.
Director: Euros Lyn
Writers: Steve Thompson, Mark Gatiss (creator), Steven Moffat (creator), Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (works)
Starring: Benedict Cumberbatch, Martin Freeman, Una Stubbs, Zoe Telford, Louise Brealey, Gemma Chan, Al Weaver, Bertie Carvel, Paul Chequer

There’s a strange sense in watching “Sherlock” of a bygone era in television. Although Sherlock’s adventures have been modernized in these movie-length episodes, it feels like classic television. The introductions are often simpler and seem less dark than the nature of the crimes depicted. The television series “Monk” gave me the same impression. That series isn’t really a far cry from this one considering the mental handicaps/assets of the detectives.

Thursday, July 04, 2013

Penny Thoughts ‘13—Independence Day (1996) *

PG-13, 145 min.
Director: Roland Emmerich
Writers: Dean Devlin, Roland Emmerich
Starring: Will Smith, Bill Pulman, Jeff Goldblum, Mary McDonnell, Judd Hirsch, Robert Loggia, Randy Quaid, Margaret Colin, Vivica A. Fox, James Rebhorn, Harvey Fierstien, Adam Baldwin, Brent Spiner

I hated, hated, hated, hated, hated “Independence Day”.

Wednesday, July 03, 2013

Penny Thoughts ‘13—Chasing Ice (2012) ***½

PG-13, 75 min.
Director: Jeff Orlowski
Writer: Mark Monroe
Featuring: James Balog, Svavar Jonatansson, Adam LeWinter, Jeff Orlowski, Tad Pfeffer

So, in the middle of summer melting ice might seem like a given, but in the grand scheme of things the amount of ice that is melting on this planet is very bad. “Chasing Ice” is a documentary made about James Balog, a photographer with some science background who decided to see if he could produce some photographic evidence of the global warming phenomenon that some would like to dispute.

Tuesday, July 02, 2013

Penny Thoughts ‘13—Sherlock: A Study in Pink (2010) ****

TV-14, 88 min.
Director: Paul McGuigan
Writers: Steven Moffat, Mark Gatiss (series creator), Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (works)
Starring: Benedict Cumberbatch, Martin Freeman, Rupert Graves, Una Stubbs, Louise Brealey, Vinette Robinson, Philip Davis, Mark Gatiss

The truly great thing about the British television series “Sherlock” is that each episode is basically a movie length modern adventure based on one of the Arthur Conan Doyle mysteries of Sherlock Holmes. As such, I feel compelled to review each episode individually as I watch them. Don’t worry too much about that, since there are only three episodes per season of celebrated show.

Monday, July 01, 2013

This Is the End / ***½ (R)

Jay Baruchel: Jay Baruchel
Seth Rogen: Seth Rogen
James Franco: James Franco
Craig Robinson: Craig Robinson
Danny McBride: Danny McBride
Jonah Hill: Jonah Hill
Emma Watson: Emma Watson
Michael Cera: Michael Cera

Columbia Pictures presents a film written and directed by Seth Rogen & Evan Goldberg. Based on the short film “Jay and Seth vs. The Apocalypse” by Jason Stone. Running time: 107 min. Rated R (for crude and sexual content throughout, brief graphic nudity, pervasive language, drug use and some violence).

Do you ever go to one of these summer block buster CGI extravaganza action disaster flicks and wonder how would the people who play these characters in movies react if they were really thrown into the events depicted in the movies they make? Well, “This Is the End” is the unexpected self-deprecating answer to that question from a group of actors who are all too well aware of the absurdity of their own stardom.