Saturday, March 27, 2010


Animated action\adventure

Jay Baruchel: Hiccup Horrendous Haddock III, apprentice blacksmith
Craig Ferguson: Gobber the Belch, the village blacksmith
Gerald Butler: Hiccup’s father Stoick the Vast, tribal chieftain
America Ferrera: tomboy Astrid Hofferson

Set in a mythical world, the Island of Berk is inhabited by Vikings who for 300 years have had to deal with dragon attacks. This rousing adventure combines a well told narrative with adequate time devoted to character development.

Although not the most original story about growing up and coming through in the end, it is beautifully rendered in the latest CGI animation replete with vivid colour and sometimes stunning detail.

A bonus for any adult attending a movie primarily geared for kids is that it has some one-liners that go right over their head. This one has several, the best one coming from Hiccup’s father midway through.

The only quibble I have (and one of the reasons it loses a star) are the aerial battles that go on forever.

for sequences of intense action, some scary images and brief mild language.

Thursday, March 25, 2010



Robert Pattinson: 21-year-old Tyler Hawkins
Tate Ellington: his best buddy Aidan Hall
Chris Cooper: NYPD Sgt. Neil Craig
Emilie de Ravin: his 21-year-old daughter Ally, a student at NYU
Pierce Brosnan: Tyler’s father Charles, a powerful lawyer
Ruby Jerins: Tyler’s 11-year-old sister Caroline
Lena Olin: Tyler and Caroline’s mother Diane
Gregory Jbara: Diane’s new husband Les

It comes across as a soap-opera what with all the emotional heartache these people encounter, particularly Tyler. And he’s a strange one too: not only does he clearly demonstrate a complete lack of judgement, his fixation with his siblings (Michel and Caroline) is hardly believable. And credibility really suffers with his over-the-top, shouting matches once interrupting a high-powered business meeting. Perhaps that makes for good drama but it does not ring true.

One other thing: there are some odd moments of discontinuity with gaps in the storyline. Case in point when Caroline attends a friends birthday party something must have happened because she goes to school next day with her hair cut short. What was that all about?

for violence, sexual content, language and smoking.

While having an argument with her dad, the strap of Ally’s tank top for the most part is hanging loose midway down her arm but in some shots it is back up on her shoulder.

Saturday, March 20, 2010


Romantic comedy

Jay Baruchel: TSA security screener Kirk Kettner
Lindsay Sloane: his former girlfriend Marnie
T.J. Miller: Stainer, one of Kirk’s buddies
Mike Vogel: another buddy Jack
Nate Torrence: and their friend Devon
Alice Eve: Molly McCleash, an event planner
Krysten Ritter: Molly’s friend and business partner Patty
Adam LeFevre: Kirk’s dad
Debra Jo Rupp: Kirk’s mother
Kyle Bornheime: Kirk’s older brother Dylan
Jessica St. Clair: Dylan's fianceé

Impossible? Probably.

Entertaining? Yes. This despite the fact it comes very close to being too raunchy and\or too vulgar. Close but not over the line yet I’m sure some people will take offense with it.

Truth be told, I laughed more than a few times (but not for the obligatory shot-in-the-crotch shot) not only at the situations but some of the dialogue as well.

It’s not likely to win any awards but again, it serves its purpose so I suppose that’s all you can ask of any movie.

for language and sexual content.

Trainer tells one of the passengers being screened that “all liquids, gels and aerosols must be in 3.4 ounce containers or smaller”. He’s wrong: Transportation Security Administration regulations set the maximum size to be 3 ounces or smaller.



Ewan McGregor: a nameless published writer
Jon Bernthal: his agent Rick Ricardelli
Jim Belushi: John Maddox, CEO of a publishing company
Pierce Brosnan: former British Prime Minister Adam Lang
Kim Cattrail: Lang’s personal assistant Amelia Bly
Olivia Williams: Lang’s wife Ruth
Tom Wilkinson: Harvard Law Professor Paul Emmett
Rober Pugh: former British Foreign Secretary Richard Rycart

Promoted as a political thriller it is anything but. In today’s age of corporate and political malfeasance, finding out that a former politician was less than honest about his past is a non-event, a ho-hum revelation prompting a “so what?” reaction to the news. I liked the pacing but frankly with a running time of two hours plus it goes on too long.

It’s a shame such a weak plot undermines the fine performances, notably that of Bronson giving his best effort ever.

some language and implied behavior.

• The car on the ferry with the missing driver when first seen is properly parked between the lane markers but when the tow truck approaches somehow it has slid sideways and is now half way into the adjacent lane.
• This is one of my classic all-time favourite nitpicks: at the end of a telephone conversation the ghostwriter hangs up and is left listening to the dial tone. In reality the dial tone is only heard after picking up the phone before dialling. That’s why it’s called a dial tone. And they do it twice!
• When leaving Professor Emmett’s residence the wall clock shows it to be 2:50 yet when the ghostwriter steps into his car only a few feet away the dashboard clock shows it to be 3:48.
• The Massachusetts ferryboat ticket agent asks the ghostwriter for his choice of ticket type, "through or return". This is the British version of the United States ticket choice, "one-way or round-trip."
• The house is located on a island in the Atlantic Ocean so the shoreline should change as the tide comes and goes but the view out the window never changes.

Friday, March 19, 2010



Ben Foster: U.S. Army Staff Sergeant Will Montgomery
Jena Malone: his girlfriend Kelly
Woody Harrelson: U.S. Army Captain Tony Stone
Samatha Morton: Olivia Pitterson, wife of a soldier
Steve Buscemi: Dale Martin, father of a soldier

Rarely mentioned, much less the subject of a film, is the United States Army's Casualty Notification service which gives notice to the next of kin that a loved one has been killed. Reactions to this news varies greatly and the emotions come across as real, a testament to the fine acting ability of these actors.

But the excellent acting does not end there: Ben Foster does a great job but to my mind this is Woody Harrelson’s best performance ever.

With crisp editing but with time devoted to developing the character of these two we gain an insight into what has to be one of the most difficult jobs for any soldier.

for sex, nudity and strong language.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010



Simon Merrells: Ben Talbot
Benicio Del Toro: his brother Lawrence, a Shakespearean theatre actor
Emily Blunt: Ben's fiancée Gwen Conliffe
Anthony Hopkins: Ben and Lawrence’s father Sir John Talbot
Hugo Weaving: Scotland Yard Inspector Francis Aberline
and others no doubt

Full Disclosure:
As I’ve said in my bio, I am not a fan of horror movies and would not under normal conditions contemplate for a moment going to see one. But recently I was in a bit of a bind: I had already walked out on one movie so my planned movie viewing schedule was cut short. Not wanting to return home fighting the rush-hour traffic I considered my alternatives. From the movie poster I knew there were some good actors in this film and it was promoted as a remake of a classic. So I said “why not check it out?”

I stayed about an hour, long enough to know just why I don’t like horror movies: your eyes and ears are assaulted with replusive images and loud unexpected noises. All the while you’re sitting there on edge waiting for something to happen. And it does.

This is not my idea of a fun time.

for bloody horror violence and gore. (And they ain’t kiddin’.)


Animated feature film

Brendan Gleeson: Abbot Cellach
Evan McGuire: his young nephew Brendan
Liam Hourican: Brother Tang
Mick Lally: Aidan, famous illustrator from the island of Iona
and others no doubt

For me there were two good reasons to go see the film:
1. it was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Animated Feature
2. being of Irish decent I have more than a passing interest in all things Irish including Ireland's premier religious treasure, the 9th century illuminated manuscript known as the Book of Kells

What I had not bargained on was the slow pace and not being able to understand just what was going on: were they building a wall around the abbey or drawing pictures in a book? Or none of the above?

The other thing that is a bit off-putting is the unusual flattened perspective of the drawings; the figures look strange, nothing like real people even in “cartoon-mode”. And the use of a limited pallet (mostly green and pale blue) further distracts from any sense of reality.

I stuck it out for half an hour then left.


When I entered the theatre just before the movie began it was completely empty. Never a good sign.

It did not win an Academy Award. I’m in total agreement with the voters on this one.