Argo

The promotional materials have done a great job of spelling out the framework of Ben Affleck’s “Argo”.

It’s a historical thriller, set during the Iran Hostage Crisis. Six individuals managed to escape the US Embassy as it was being stormed by Iranians (during the hostage crisis of 1979), and now need help to get out of the country.

What the marketing can’t convey though, is the pervasive atmosphere of tension that director Ben Affleck manages to create. “Argo” is an intense and occasionally humorous docudrama that adds to Affleck’s burgeoning streak of excellent projects.

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The 2012 Fall Movie Preview – Part II

Ok folks, here we go. Part II of the 2012 Fall Movie Preview. Today we’ll break down all the major releases on tap for the month of October, and the first week of November!

As you might imagine, it’s a diverse bunch. There are some ahead that look intriguing, and some that might as well be announcing that they’re garbage already, LOL. Let’s have a look and see if we can’t sort out what’s what!!

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Total Recall

As I’m certain that everyone is aware, “Total Remake” – sorry, “Total Recall” – is a remake of the 1989 Sci-Fi/Action classic starring Arnold Schwarzenegger.

I’m not certain how fair or unfair it is to constantly compare remakes to their original inspirations, but when a movie is as beloved as the first “Total Recall” is, comparisons to it are inescapable. It’s the price that needs to be paid if Hollywood is going to recycle properties, I suppose… not that they care.

In that regard, it’s a pale imitation. Though the special effects are better, the action sequences feel generic and, occasionally, forced. Its stars can’t provide half the charisma that Schwarzenegger, Stone, Ironside and Ronny Cox did back in the day. And perhaps worst of all, the plot has been dumbed down a degree for today’s audiences (as Hollywood sees them). As a remake, it fails.

Even taken as a completely individual, stand alone movie, “Total Recall” isn’t that good. Every bright-spot is offset with something blindingly bland. Eventually it succumbs to extreme averageness and winds up almost completely forgettable.

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Rock of Ages

“Rock of Ages” is a unapolagetic mash-up of 80s pop-rock and hair metal music, loosely held together by a storyline of stereotypical rock and roll elements: the wide-eyed midwest ingenue coming to LA, the busboy with the desire to be a big star, the scumbag agent, the skeevy middle-aged club owner, the Tipper Gore-esque crusader, and of course, the larger than life rock star who’s lost touch with reality.

If you “ain’t lookin’ for nothin’ but a good time”, you’ve found it. There’s actually a lot of fun to be had here.

It does, however, get better than this.

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Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted

“Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted” continues the adventures of Alex the Lion (Ben Stiller), Marty the Zebra (Chris Rock), Melman the Giraffe (David Schwimmer), and Gloria the Hippo (Jada Pinkett Smith) as they try to return to New York and the zoo that they once called home. They’re able to make their way from Africa to Monte Carlo, but from there, intend to seek out the help of the penguins in order to cross the Atlantic and return to the United States. Of course, things don’t go as planned, and the animals wind up having to take cover from an animal control officer in a traveling circus.

It’s got plenty of comedy and some fun actions sequences, but the bright colors and happy characters can’t disguise the fact that there isn’t a lot under the hood.

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Now Showing on Cable: “Larry Crowne”

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Making its debut this weekend on HBO was last year’s “Larry Crowne”, starring Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts. Directed by Hanks himself, “Larry Crowne” is the story of a middle aged man – Larry Crowne – who loses his mid level job at a retail store due to his lack of education.

Unable to find subsequent employment, Larry enrolls in Community College.

What he doesn’t bargain on is the profound, romantic, humorous, heartwarming change that will occur in his life due to – – Aghgh, God. I can’t even write a summary sentence about this nauseating nonsense without feeling ill.

Click through to read why you should stay away from this awful offering of offal.

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John Carter

Disney’s “John Carter” is a maddeningly inconsistent movie.

At times it’s adventurous, imaginative, and spectacular to watch. At others, it’s ponderous, clumsy, and even occasionally silly. For every moment of awe that is created by its lavish special effects, there’s an offset by a line of terrible dialogue. For every moment where the Martian culture and creatures make you think “Oh, that’s kind of cool”, there’s and offsetting moment that makes you go “Tsch… Come on…”

It’s certainly not a bad ticket purchase, but it’s a long way from living up to its potential.

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Red Tails

The Tuskegee Airmen were a group of African-American fighter pilots during World War II. Segregated into their own unit by the racially discriminatory policies of the United States Armed Forces, they served their country valiantly and successfully is spite of the bigotry that they faced. The fact that they chose to serve their country at war, at a time when they were faced with racist injustices from the very government they served, stands as a testament to courage, honor and self-sacrifice and has earned their unit a name that has become a part of history.

Those fine, brave, heroic men deserve a movie far, far better than this.

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Drive

“Drive” was an excellent, high calibre, praiseworthy movie experience.

Directed with confidence and style by newcomer to American cinema Nicolas Winding Refn,  drive is the best movie I’ve seen in theatres this year by a longshot, and most certainly will be in discussion for movie of the year here, if not the actual Oscars.

In fact, the only real criticism I have of it is that there were several times during the film I found myself wondering if I was watching a film that was going to register amongst the greats, if I was meeting a new film to my personal top fifty for the first time. It never quite got there, but I think the best way to present that isn’t to put that out there negatively, but to put it out there positively.

This is a film that flirts with greatness.

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Contagion

Contagion tells the story of the sudden appearance of a hyper-virulent strain of virus known as MEV-1.

MEV-1 is an airborne virus. If a person passes close enough to someone carrying the virus, and they breathe, they could contract the virus. It can also be contracted through tactile transmission. If a healthy person touches something a carrier touched, they could contract the virus. Between these two methods of transmission, and the fact that ground zero was the highly populated city of Hong Kong and patient zero was an international traveler, you have the recipe for disaster on a global scale.

And “Contagion” serves it all up for us in a stylistic, engrossing, high calibre movie experience.

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