This ain’t no Jolly Rancher

Hard Candy

If To Catch a Predator and the Kick Ass character Hit Girl were fired off in opposite directions in the Large Hadron Collider and slammed into each other at near light speed it’s a good bet that what you’d end up with is Hard Candy.

Hard Candy is apparently not a movie for the faint of heart; I learned this as I was watching it with my sister, who spent most of the movie convinced I was lying to her about a particular plot point I won’t ruin for you but DID have to reveal to her because she was getting so angry and disgusted with the movie. She didn’t even bother to watch the last five minutes of the movie because she found the whole premise so upsetting.

When a movie starts out with a clearly older man suggestively chatting online with a young teen and asking her to meet up with him, you know the movie is going to make you uncomfortable and probably make you angry. Following this chat that could be straight out of a Perverted Justice sting operation, it only goes downhill as Jeff Kohlver (Patrick Wilson) surprises Hayley Stark (Ellen Page) in the middle of eating a delicious-looking chocolate topped pastry and licks the chocolate off his thumb after wiping it off her lip. A small conversation filled with very complimentary words aimed at her later and they’re soon on their way to his house, at which point I was asking myself why I was watching this movie and picked up the case to read the back again in case I’d missed anything.

I needn’t have worried; soon after they arrive at the house Jeff learns a valuable lesson about mixing his own drinks (that it’s a good idea for everyone) after waking up tied to a chair while Hayley searches his house for… we’ll just say pictures of kids in compromising positions. I’ll leave it there so as not to spoil the the fun, but suffice it to say Jeff doesn’t have a very good time for the rest of the movie.

Patrick Wilson was a good pick for the role of Jeff; he’s good looking and can really pour the charm on. He was also very convincing as a man desperate to get himself out of the trouble he unwittingly brought home with him. It’s almost enough to make you feel sorry for him – until you remember the little chat from the beginning of the film and the fact that he’s brought home a 14-year-old girl. That’s an instant sympathy-killer right there.

Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.usPre-Juno Ellen Page looks every bit as young as her character Hayley is supposed to be. What I really liked about her is that she went from silly teen trying to sound sophisticated to impress an older guy to cold-blooded, single-minded mastermind in a flash. All Jeff’s considerable charms didn’t stand a chance against the giant wall of ice she had constructed. And I’ll admit, to me, it was a bit fun to watch her break him down and then just keep throwing proverbial haymakers. Could a 14-year-old do something this sophisticated? Probably not. Was it something of a guilty pleasure to suspend belief and watch a pervert receive his just deserts? Oh yeah.

What I didn’t like about the movie was that there was no why. There was no explanation for why she was doing what she was doing (though it may be inferred given her reactions when she finds a certain photograph). I don’t care to delve into the psychological scapegoat for Jeff’s little – ahem – “problem” (which he does end up talking about/making up under some duress), but it bothers me that by the end of the movie there wasn’t any concrete reason laid out for her “extra-curricular activities.”

Verdict: A-. It almost pains me to give this a better score than The Perfect Host because that movie hit my funny bone in all the right places, but this movie was simply better at really nailing both characters down before things went sideways. And while it’s not a movie I’ll be rewatching any time soon, I definitely recommend watching it at least once. Especially if you enjoy revenge fantasy-type movies.

Rated R for disturbing violent and aberrant sexual content involving a teen, and for language.

Avatar: My Heart Remains Unobtained

Avatar is the story of a tribal indian princess named Pocahontas Naturey Neytiri who meets John Smith Jake Sullivan and has to teach him her tribe’s ways.  The guy she should have mated with, Kokoum Tsu’Tey (the one with the  mohawk), hates John Smith Jake Sullivan and would rather see him dead.  Plus the people John Smith Jake Sullivan works for are looking to obtain some gold unobtanium on the land Pocahontas’ Naturey’s tribe lives on.  Can John Smith Jake Sullivan learn to paint with all the colors of the wind see?

If you loved Avatar, this probably isn’t the review for you.  Just keep your brain turned off and click here to watch the Avatar trailer again to feel good.

There were a lot of things wrong with this movie, and Red Letter Media probably does it best in reviewing it, but I’ll still try and add my two cents if you can’t be bothered watching their review.

I’d forgotten Red Letter Media had already covered the ridiculous term “unobtanium” — probably because I didn’t know what it referred to because I saw the review before the film.  When the corporate bad guy said he was looking for ‘unobtain’ium I already found it difficult to take the movie seriously.

Secondly I found the over-the-top narrative monologues of the main character distracting to say the least.  It sounded like a hack version of Humphrey Bogart films from the 1940s.  The video logs helped to control the damage of this effect, but often it told us information that we already knew, like that Sigourney Weaver’s character was onto him, or just to help advance the plot when James Cameron was too lazy to do it in an original way.

Maybe James Cameron is trying to prove to the world that he’s super green by recycling plots?

Seriously, tell me how this isn’t an almost exactly copy of Pocahontas, Dances With Wolves–even Fern Gully.  Red Letter Media took it one step further and said it’s basically the same movie as Titanic.  I never would have thought about that, but they’re right.

Character A comes from world A, meets less civilized Character B who shows them something about life they never knew–and don’t forget the romance–then the people from world A end up destroying the less civilized people and Character A decides to abandon world A for Character B’s world’s ideals.

I was also insulted that he took the worst line of Titanic and made it the spiritual theme of the movie?  I see you.

I see Cameron mocking us for spending money on the same repackaged garbage.

In the end, I lost several hours of my life I’ll never get back, but I think the lesson has been learned.  If James Cameron is attached to the project, pass it by.  And watch the Red Letter Media review, seriously.  It does it far more justice than I ever could.

The Avatar Challenge

Once upon a time people challenged my dislike for Twilight because I hadn’t read the book.  It took me a while to shove enough of my complete disdain for what I was about to venture into, and still took me a month to read the first book of the Twilight series.  (I read Harry Potter Book 7 in less than 8 hours, so it wasn’t because I was a slow reader).

It was a lot more awful than I had anticipated.  I admit, I was planning to make fun of it in comic style later, but well, when you’re not paid to do it for a living finding the time… etc., etc.

Anyways, the same challenge has been laid before me now with James Cameron’s Avatar.  Hearing from most friends that while it had some pretty pictures, it generally is a boring rehash of Fern Gully, Dances With Wolves, and Titanic elements all in just under three hours.  (A reason I never bothered with King Kong.  I could watch 2 movies in the same amount of time I probably like better.)

I also recently watched a fairly scathing review from Red Letter Media, whom I completely agreed with on the two Star Wars reviews he’s posted, and have little reason to distrust his opinion on Avatar.  (Except he didn’t like the new Star Trek movie, but I suppose Star Trek is more polarizing when it comes to a reboot).

Anyways, I guess I’m going to trudge through Avatar, hopefully in one sitting.  I may take an intermission.  I plan to post the review, whether scathing or pleasantly surprised here.  Then hopefully those of you who don’t want to bother can say, “Hey, Dee thought the movie was going to suck and it did.”  Or grudgingly, “Well, I guess I’ll have to watch it.”

I know, my view of the movie is tainted, but you can thank the tired rantings of the global warming fanatic agenda–and I’ve heard James Cameron is one of the biggest tree huggers around–but I suppose time will tell.

Harry Potter 6 Final Trailer!

It’s too awesome for words.  Just watch it!

Netflix Instant5 (Oct6)

What is the Instant5?  It’s five recommendations I make for wasting time and more importantly getting your money’s worth out of your Netflix subscription.  Let’s be honest: the way Netflix has it set up now is only “sorta kinda” helpful in finding something to view.  So without further ado:

THIS WEEK’S Instant5

1. Inspector Gadget

No, fortunately not the Disney film of the same name with Matthew Broderick.  This is the original animated series, which should please nostalgic ’80s cartoon fans such as myself.  This is volume one of the series which includes all 22 episodes of that volume for your instant viewing pleasure.  There is no volume two in the US as of yet, although there are rumors of a 25th anniversary collection set, nothing is confirmed, but at least you can watch a better-than-youtube quality version of the first 22 eps.

2. The TV Set

Mac reviewed this movie not too long ago.  From Wiki: The plot follows an idealistic writer (David Duchovny) as he tries to navigate his TV pilot down the mine-laden path from script to production to the madness of prime-time scheduling – all while trying to stay true to his vision. Along the way he has to juggle the agendas of a headstrong network president (Weaver), volatile young stars, a pregnant wife and an ever-optimistic personal manager/agent (Greer).  I have not as of yet watched this, but now that it’s on Instant, it’s on the list.

3. Shut Up & Sing

Remember the Dixie Chicks?  I’m sure most think of their bigger-than-Jesus comment that flushed their career for a time.  To be honest, I don’t like the Dixie Chicks, still don’t, but I did enjoy the documentary because I felt like it was mostly honest about the event and how it did get blown out of proportion.  So love them or hate them, if you truly like to be informed this is worth a look.

4. The Shadow

The superhero from the old time radio comes to life via Alec Baldwin pre-annoying days.  It’s not like this is the epic superhero movie, but there was always something about The Shadow that appealed to me, and I love the Dick Tracy-like production design of the film.  I think it’s worth seeing once and now that it’s in instant I’ll probably see it a few times.

5. James and the Giant Peach

Ok, so it isn’t the Nightmare Before Christmas, but there’s still something about this show that I love.  Probably the stop-motion animation, probably Roald Dahl, I love this movie and I’m glad to see it on Instaview.  Good for kids, but there’s just some kind of magic in there that holds my appeal.

Under “genres” they have a new section called Starz Play which has added to the selection of Netflix instaview library tremendously.  I recommend looking under there for newer movies to see.  Until next time!

Netflix Instaview: What to Watch (Instant 5)

Sometimes when the candy store has a lot of candy, some of which you don’t care for, but a lot you do, it’s hard to decide what to grab while you’re there. I’ve found the same problem with the Netflix Instaview store. Recommendations are only slightly helpful, but hardly where I’d like them to be. It’s like the clerk knows where the names are stored, but has no idea what kind of taste goes with the name.

So, rather than continue on with cryptic analogies, I thought I would bring you five recommendations, hopefully weekly (depending on Netflix’s continued ability to acquire good/adequate films). I’ll call them the Instant5. Since I have reviewed some series that are available on the Instaview, we’ll start there.

THIS WEEK’S Instant5

1. SeaQuest DSV sn1-3

Basically the aquatic version of Star Trek TNG, a fun TV show from the ’90s, and since you’re paying for this Instaview service whether you watch it or not, I’d say a fine way to spend your viewing hours. I was really only interested up to season two, since we changed directions and command, but they are all available instantly.

2. Doctor Who 2005: Series One

Unless you’ve got a super media friendly local library or a buddy with it, count on spending $70+ to see this in any better quality than a chinese streaming rip. If you’re a fan of sci-fi, this series is a must. Unfortunately the other seasons are not available per Instaview yet, but I’m keeping my fingers crossed. Eccleston does a fabulous job playing the tenth doctor, and I’m a fan of time travel, so it works.

3. Sliders sn1-5

OK, so I’ve come into more sci-fi shows, but this one was fantastic. The idea is that a genius kid figures out how to “slide” to different dimensions, and shows his friend and film professor. The only problem? They can’t find their way back to their own dimension. It’s kind of like Doctor Who in its weekly encounter, but basically a show I loved as a kid, and all four season are for the most part available (a couple episodes here and there haven’t been converted).

4. Strange Brew

As far as I’m concerned a movie-lovers cult classic. The McKenzie brothers take on an evil brewer on a sort of mishap in this strange version of Hamlet (No, seriously. Compare events and characters to the play). Not to worry, all the iambic pantameter is out. This is one of those quotable movies, like Napoleon Dynamite or Dumb and Dumber (though I would rate this movie above D&D). If you love Rick Moranis or basically silly humor, you’ll love this movie.

5. Knight Rider sn1-4

The new series on TV? ‘Fraid not. The old one with your buddy and mine David Hasslehoff. I was a bit weary of this one, not being a huge fan of Hasslehoff, but I put my skepticism aside for a minute and gave it a chance. It’s got the ’80s campiness of most shows from that day and age, but it works for the show, and I still want a KITT. And anyways, it’s practically free. 😉

So that’s it for this week. That doesn’t mean that’s it for what Netflix has by any means. I plan to let you know about other worthwhile watching so you’re not stuck watching whatever is on the front page (which is usually the crumbs of the bread).

If you have a series/movie to suggest, let me know and I’ll take a look (if I haven’t seen it) and include it in the next Instant5 installment. For now, enjoy!

Fox sues WB over Watchmen?

This is super lame, Fox. Seriously, are you really that pathetic now that you have to resort to this?

Twentieth Century Fox is trying to stop Warner Bros. from releasing the Watchmen. In a lawsuit, Fox says it acquired the motion pictures rights to the graphic novel in the ’80s, and when it gave up some of those rights in 1991, it held onto the right to distribute the movie.

Monday, a federal judge in Los Angeles agreed with Fox’s claim and said there is enough evidence to keep the lawsuit moving forward. As a result the film’s March 16 release is on hold until the two sides or a judge settles the dispute. Fox has announced that instead of seeking a share of the sure-fire hit, it is intent on stopping the movie from being released.

The complaint states that when Fox teamed up with producer Larry Gordon in 1991 to develop a Watchmen movie, the rights were transferred to them and so was due payment if the film was ever made. Things didn’t work out in developing the movie so Fox and Gordon went their separate ways. In 2006, Gordon made a deal with Warner Bros. to make Watchmen and Fox is saying they never got paid.

Zack Snyder, director of 300 and Watchmen, has finished shooting the movie with stars Patrick Wilson, Carla Gugino and Billy Crudup, and is continuing post production. Watchmen is based on the groundbreaking graphic novel by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons.

Well, at least they didn’t try and bring it to suit in January 2009, but STILL. I’m sure some of you are thinking, boycott Fox, but what’s that honestly going to do? What might get the right kind of attention would be sending smiley faces to Fox executives. (Because, yeah, you can quit watching 24 and the Sarah Conner Chronicles, but you’re not hurting Fox you’re hurting the producers, actors, and writers of those shows).

Anyways, thought I’d share the lame story.