The Men Who Stare At Goats
Goats stars an all male cast including George Clooney, Ewan McGregor, Kevin Spacey, Jeff Bridges, Stephen Lang, and Robert Patrick. The film is about a group of soldiers who have been trained to believe they can fight the enemy using their minds. Their tree-hugger commander, Bill Django (Jeff Bridges), originally trained these soldiers, or self-proclaimed “Jedis.” Eventually, the training process was overtaken by Larry Hooper (Kevin Spacey) who planned to use their Jedi psychic powers for the Darkside, as Clooney’s character later explains.
The Men Who Stare At Goats takes place in 2003 Iraq where a reporter (Ewan McGregor) plans to do a story on the war. While waiting in Kuwait to cross the border into Iraq he meets Lyn Cassady (George Clooney). Lyn tells the reporter the story of how he was recruited into Bill’s group of psychic soldiers and what became of the group over the years. The reporter becomes so intrigued with story that he decides to scrap his original story idea and instead follow Lyn into Iraq to do a story on the unique group of soldiers. So begins a tale of capture, explosions, hilarity, and the “Jedi” soldiers.
This movie is completely ludicrous but that is what makes the movie entertaining. If the filmmakers had tried to make this a serious film it never would have worked. They could have cast Clint Eastwood, the most serious dramatic actor alive, and it still would have failed.
Besides the unbelievable story, there really is nothing that stands out about The Men Who Stare At Goats. Most of the movie takes place right in the middle of the Iraqi desert (actually filmed in New Mexico). The acting is not really much to speak of either. This is only because the cast is already a group of highly accomplished actors who have proven their ability to act. The acting in this movie is great but its nothing new.
Bottomline, the story is unlike anything you have ever seen before so if for no other reason, see it for its complete absurdity. I give The Men Who Stare At Goats a solid B-.
Michael Jackson's This Is It
If this movie had to be put in a specific genre, it would have to be Musical Documentary. Sounds strange right? Actually, This Is It is a better documentary than most. This is probably because it was created by the same man who was behind Jackson’s would-be final concert, Kenny Ortega. Besides Jackson himself, Ortega was the most important man involved in the creation of Jackson’s 50 concerts in London entitled “This Is It.” He was the director, producer, and choreographer. After Michael died in June of this year, Ortega began gathering up all the footage from the concert rehearsals. He wanted to give Jackson’s fans the opportunity to see what Michael had been working on and what fans would have seen firsthand if Jackson had lived.
The entire movie is just rehearsal footage from the weeks leading up to Jackson’s death. Throughout the film, the audience gets to see Jackson perform all of his hits from throughout his career. Some of the highlights include hits like “Billie Jean”, “Black or White”, “Thriller”, “Human Nature”, “Jam”, and “They Don’t Care About Us.”
Kenny Ortega said the only reason why he even made the movie was because after Jackson’s death fans kept coming up to him saying they wanted to see the footage from the rehearsals. He claims the only people he made this movie for are the true Michael Jackson fans. I completely understand and agree with him. Unless you are a music fanatic, only true Michael Jackson fans can fully appreciate This Is It. This may sound like a very selective demographic but if you think about it Michael Jackson wasn’t called the King of Pop for nothing. He had millions upon millions of fans spanning the globe. In This Is It, fans not only get to see Jackson rehearse his hits, but they also are fortunate enough to watch him as his perfects his legendary dance moves. Granted, he was 50 years old during the rehearsals and he looked as though he had lost a lot of weight so his moves are not as grand as they were when he was in his prime.
To me, the greatest thrill was just to be able to see Michael Jackson sing and dance once last time. The fact that he had not performed his hits or showcased his dance moves in eons makes the footage shown in this film destined to become one of the defining moments of his career. Any true Michael Jackson fan may believe, after watching this movie, that maybe he died before the concerts in order to preserve his image as the King of Pop. In the years leading up to 2009, Michael Jackson’s celebrated image had been clouded with courtrooms and tabloid pictures of his ever-changing appearance. If, in fact, he was to live long enough to perform his concerts in London, only the ones lucky enough to attend to shows would be able to see what a great perform he still was. The rest of the world would still be remembering his crazy antics. With the release of This Is It, the whole world now has the opportunity to see what only the concertgoers would have. Now, until the end of time, the final images the world will ever have of Michael Jackson are of him doing what he always did best. I give Michael Jackson’s This Is It an A-.
Monsters vs. Aliens
Monsters vs. Aliens is the newest computer-animated movie to come from Dreamworks (not Pixar). It tells the story of a group of monsters who have been cast out of normal society. Now, with an alien invasion eminent, the monsters have been released from their shackles to save the earth from alien tyranny.
The story is simple enough for children to follow, filled with enough grown up jokes for adult, and graphics beautifully created for all to marvel at. However, it lacks the heart that all other successful computer-animated films have incorporated. As I watched the film, I was amused by a number of the jokes and entertained by the graphic design but I found myself detached from the entire story and characters. Movies like Finding Nemo and Wall-E were so successful because they were able to evict true emotion from the audience. Monsters vs. Aliens just couldn’t provide this necessity.
The character voices were mediocre. Stars like Reese Witherspoon, Seth Rogen, Hugh Laurie, Kiefer Sutherland, Will Arnet, and Rainn Wilson rounded out the all-star cast. The only standout performance was Seth Rogen. It was not so much that his voice acting was overly spectacular as much as it was his contagious, recognizable laugh that caused me to laugh along with him.
Overall the movie was entertaining and a good film for families to see together. It just does not have the much-needed heart a movie like this needs to stand the test of time. I give Monsters vs. Aliens a B-.
My Best Friend's Girl
In which film do you last remember seeing Jason Biggs? If you answered American Wedding, you would be in the majority of people who have forgotten him. My Best Friend’s Girl would have been extremely funnier if they had gotten somebody else to play his pathetic, loser character…anybody else would have been better. When I go see a comedy I expect, above all else, to laugh and to forget about my school work waiting for me back in my dorm room. Unfortunately, My Best Friend’s Girl just did not do it for me.
My Best Friend’s Girl teams Jason Biggs and funnyman Dane Cook as best friends who live together. Jason Biggs’ character, Dustin, is dating Alexis (Kate Hudson) until one day she breaks up with him. In comes Dustin’s roommate, Tank (Dane Cook), who makes good money taking out women who have recently dumped their boyfriend. Little do the women know that Tank has been hired by their boyfriend to purposefully take out their unsuspecting ex and to make a fool of himself, thus, forcing the woman to run back into the boyfriend’s arms. Tank takes out Alexis with plans to make himself look terrible enough for her to run back to Dustin. Of course, Tank ends up falling for Alexis instead of doing the job he set out to do. Not surprisingly, “hilarity” ensues.
I put hilarity in quotations here because, although the filmmakers were trying to make me laugh, they were unsuccessful in their pursuit to do so. My Best Friend’s Girl is not a bad film, it’s just that it had the potential to be so much better. Jason Biggs was clearly an awful choice to be in this film (or any other film for that matter). He is not funny! The only emotion he is able to evict from him audience is relief that they are not him. Another downfall of this film was Dane Cook. I am definitely a huge fan of Cook’s stand-up comedy. However, I feel that he completely sold out by becoming strictly a film actor. None of the films which he has starred in ever did well in the theater or were received very well by audiences. On the other hand, Dane Cook’s claim-to-fame is being a stand-up comedian. He has set world records with his comedy albums. It is clear that he is much more popular as a hilarious stand-up act rather than a mediocre Hollywood comedian. Even Kate Hudson, a Hollywood mainstay, seemed like she wasn’t fully invested in this film. If the star of a film doesn’t even seem to think the film is going to be very good, then you know something is wrong!
Basically, the whole plot of the film has been done before. From the very beginning of the movie I thought, “This seems like a bad version of Hitch.” It was certainly not very original; just a new twist on an old story: boy will do whatever it takes to get the girl. Again, My Best Friend’s Girl was not a terrible film. It was just not that good. However, it you are just looking for something to do, then sure, go ahead and see it. I give My Best Friend’s Girl a C.
My Bloody Valentine 3-D
I waited a long time to see this movie. After finally seeing it, I left the theater somewhat satisfied. However, at the same time, I was slightly disappointed. As my friend said, “I would have enjoyed this movie much more if it wasn’t in 3-D.” I completely agree. With the exception of maybe three quick shots (and one full frontal nude scene) the decision to film this movie in 3-D was utterly pointless.
My Bloody Valentine 3-D is a remake of the 1981 teen slasher flick. This unimaginative remake tells the same story. A cave-in occurs at a mine leaving five dead and one, Harry Warden, in a coma. Eleven years later Harry Warden wakes up and returns to the mine and brutally kills a group of partying teenagers. Three of the teens get away: Axel, Irene, and Sarah. Unfortunately, they leave one of their friends, Tom, behind to fend for himself against Harry Warden’s weapon of choice: his pickaxe. Fast-forward another ten years. The three main survivors have all grown up and moved on. Sarah and Axel are married and Axel is now the sheriff of their small mining town. Tom survived the brutal attacks but has been gone for the past ten years and has now returned to sell the mines that his father owned. As soon as he returns, the vicious murders begin again. Has Tom returned to get revenge on his friends that left him to die? Has Harry Warden returned from the dead or has he been alive all this time? You will just have to go see the movie to find out. However, I figured it out in the first 20 minutes.
As far as remakes go, or even slasher films in general, My Bloody Valentine 3-D is certainly in the better 50 percent. The real, major problem with this movie is the lack of originality. This may seem like an odd statement considering the movie uses a new 3-D technology called RealD but sorry to say, even RealD could not save it from mediocrity. There are a couple of cool death scenes that look amazing in RealD but the best part of the 3-D in this movie is the ten-minute scene involving a completely nude woman running for her life from the masked killer.
There really is not much to be said about the acting in My Bloody Valentine 3-D. Then again, believable acting has never been a requirement for horror movies. The one face you may recognize in this movie is Jamie King (Pearl Harbor, Sin City). In this movie she plays Sarah, the cliché horror movie heroine that faces off against the killer. Her performance is ordinary but she does have a great horror movie scream.
If you and your friends are just looking for a fun, scary movie but nothing that will leave you having nightmares, then go see My Bloody Valentine 3-D. But if you really want to see something that will scare the bejesus out of you, rent one of the classic slashers like Scream, A Nightmare on Elm Street, or Halloween (both the original or Rob Zombie’s remake are guaranteed to make you jump). Unfortunately, this movie is destined for obscurity. I give My Bloody Valentine 3-D a C.