Movie Reviews – March 2009

2012: Science Or Superstition
Street: 01.27.09
There is a lot of talk going around about the Apocalypse happening on Dec. 21, 2012. This movie takes a glance at why people believe this and the different reasons that suggest something may or may not happen. The Mayan calendar ends on this date and seeing how extremely advanced their studies on the stars and the Earth’s cycles were, people have started to believe we might not make it out alive. The interviews with all of the doctors and philosophers are interesting, and they give a lot of good points for each side of the coin - death and rebirth. I’d like to think that yes, the 2012 Apocalypse will happen, but not the type of apocalypse you might be thinking. I am hoping it’s an apocalypse of our current thought system of greed and hatred - a rebirth of ourselves as a people - A realization that we are nothing but love, and we are one with all creation, no longer separated from the eternal, remembering that we are completely whole and perfect right now. Although who knows, maybe it will be a total apocalypse like The Bible speaks of. After all, if they had a commercial in a distant galaxy to explain what the human race has done to the Earth, it would be like those old commercials where they would scramble eggs and say this is what our planet looks like … on drugs. - Adam Dorobiala

Bards of Fantasia
Street: 12.05.08
To lay the facts simply, this animated film cannot be viewed as a Hollywood or even as an independent production. Bards of Fantasia should be viewed strictly as a DIY creation of Ogden musician/artist Scott Wilcox. The 39-minute film is done entirely by Wilcox: character voices, music and art. That in itself garners some artistic merit. The story follows two students time traveling through European cultures and touches on many mythical creatures. It has a Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure meets Shakespeare feel to it. The visual aspect isn’t motion animation, but collections of still art. At first glance, someone might say the art looks like something a 12-year-old could’ve done, but the art and music are the true highlights of this film. The still paintings have an impressionistic feel to them and effectively illustrate the feeling of motion. The music is eclectic and, at times, almost psychedelic. To appreciate Bards of Fantasia, one has to have an open mind and treat the film for what it is. The ambition in the creation is strong, but similar-sounding character voices and a storyline that tries to tie too much together lend to confusion in the end. As an artistic, musical and poetic piece, the film is one of a kind. - Bryer Wharton

Cities of the Underworld: Season Two
A&E Home Video
Street: 02.24
Definitely not for claustrophobics, The History Channel’s innovative series prolongs its documentation of global adventurer, Don Wildman, as he wedges, burrows, and slithers his way though the jagged subterranean structures that lay beneath our feet. In the second season, Don continues his travels around the globe and exposes the astounding yet mysterious architectures of the deep including an atom bomb shelter underneath Japan, a prohibition-era speakeasy in New York City, and a safe house for government officials below Washington, DC. The guerilla-style filmmaking effectively offers viewers a first-person glimpse into these treacherous expeditions without the chore of having to remove their ass from the cavernous cracks of the couch. Along with the mesmerizing visuals, Don’s interviews with informed locals and industry professionals add to the creatively efficient method of providing historical information. The box set encompasses four discs with all 13 episodes of the eerie escapades. - Jimmy Martin

Curious George: Robot Monkey and More Great Gadgets
Street: 02.10
While we could debate whether or not Curious George is everyone’s favorite monkey, it cannot be denied that PBS-savvy younguns love him. This disc contains eight kid-friendly episodes from the acclaimed series, designed to introduce youngsters to math, science and engineering. (This is disc number nine in the Curious George DVD collection, for those of you keeping track.) The extras are nice as well. There is an interactive game on the disc, and you can also use it to print out blank coloring pages and connect the dots sheets. In all, for SLUG readers with toddler-aged Curious George fans in their lives, this DVD is a babysitter in an unassuming clam-shell case. - James Bennett

Fired Up!
Screen Gems
In Theaters: 02.20
In reality, two words can summarize this putrid shit stain…Umm…no. The task of assessing first-time director Will Gluck’s moronic attempt at filmmaking continually makes my brain swell and ears bleed profusely. I think I should see a doctor. However, I’ll attempt to reveal the elements that make this pile of hot shit garbage the worst movie since Battlefield Earth without hemorrhaging everywhere. The answer? Everything! Anyone who directed, produced, wrote, acted in or served ham sandwiches from the fucking catering cart needs to be violently beaten and have their faces rubbed into the script while being told “No!” Worked for my little brother’s pissing on the carpet issue. Seriously, who gives a dick about two horny fucktards (Nicholas D’Agosto, Eric Christian Olsen) going to cheer camp to get ass in a PG-13 borefest? It’s like watching a porno with no sex, shitty acting and a plot that a monkey with Down’s syndrome could write. Now, if you don’t mind, I’m off to the shower with a cheese grater and a box of baking soda to scrub off the remaining layer of filth left by this godless abomination. - Jimmy Martin

Friday the 13th
Warner Bros.
In Theaters: 02.13
It’s been eight laughable years since Jason Voorhees was cuttin’ bitches in outer space, so it’s good to see him return from orbit and settle back into his nest at Camp Crystal Lake. When Whitney Miller (Amanda Righetti) goes missing after visiting the infamous lagoon, her concerned brother, Clay (Jared Padalecki), returns to the region (accompanied by Team Abercrombie & Douche) only to be greeted by the legendary machete-wielding maniac. Now, I love absurd beheadings and gratuitous nudity as much as the next guy, but when it comes from the team that successfully revamped The Texas Chainsaw Massacre franchise, it’s quite disappointing to see them take the low road and attach another predictable and cliched addition to the Friday the 13th series. Rather than focusing on the dark origins or inner demons of the psychopath’s saga and creating something memorable, as was done with 2003’s Texas, director Marcus Nispel decided to neglect the narrative with a pair of 10 - dollar tits and refrain from any type of engaging storytelling. With that said, the overall product is not total garbage. It’s the true epitome of a standard horror flick. There are thrills, chills and kills, but don’t expect anything cutting-edge from the jaded antagonist. - Jimmy Martin

The Future is Unwritten - Joe Strummer
Sony BMG Film
Street: 07.08.08
Who would have guessed that when John Graham Mellor was born in Ankara, Turkey in 1952, he would re-emerge 24 years later as The Clash’s lead singer, Joe Strummer, opening for the Sex Pistols at The Black Swan in Sheffield, England. Documentarian/director Julien Temple (The Filth and the Fury, Earth Girls Are Easy) triumphantly complies an array of archival news footage, animated caricatures, vintage film clips, and in-depth interviews with Strummer’s friends to reveal not only the multifaceted story of THE punk rock warlord, but also presents the viewer with an outstanding account of the emergence and lasting effects of the punk scene throughout London in the 1970s. Complete with an unforgettable soundtrack and an abundance of tragic/hilarious reminiscences, The Future is Unwritten exposes the truth behind the punk setting…”If you were ugly, you were in.” The SLC Film Center is screening this film for FREE at The Sorenson Unity Center (1383 South 900 West) on March 9 at 7 p.m. - Jimmy Martin

The International
In Theaters: 02.13
With the state of the global economy and our wonderful financial institutions, what a quaint idea to release a film whose enemy is a corrupted bank sponsoring war in third world countries. Who can oppose that, right? Interpol agent Louis Salinger (Clive Owen) has been tracking said bank for years, but every two steps forward results in three steps back. After an informant who agreed to leak vital information dies mysteriously, a whirlwind of assassinations and cover-ups stretch from Milan to New York City in order to keep the empire’s reign unscathed. As the first engaging thriller of the year, director Tom Tykwer (Run, Lola, Run) paints a chilling image of just how deep distortion can go. Ironically, the most action-packed scene is its greatest downfall. One must question why an organization that hires the world’s greatest assassins would let the goon squad shoot up the Guggenheim Museum in a 20 minute gunfight. Granted, it’s a great scene, but for the wrong movie. Subtract the evident and unnecessary Hollywood injection, and the remainder is an intriguing look at the illegal profiteering of the world’s financially elite. - Jimmy Martin

My Bloody Valentine 3D
In Theaters: 01.13
One would think that this film would be released on Valentine’s Day weekend, but then it would have to contend with the reboot/remake of Friday the 13th. This remake of the already sub-par 1981 slasher flick follows the same tried-and-true slasher rules: the vengeful killer, gore, nudity, no plot and expendable characters, only this remake isn’t filled with camp and cheese like all those glorious ‘80s movies. MBV3D would have been great for horror fans if it didn’t take itself so seriously. By the end of the movie, viewers are left caring less about who is the killer (who is supposedly inflicting his revenge on a small town because of a mining accident), and which of the main characters left will survive - they just want gore in 3D. How that got intermingled with Valentine’s Day I’m still wondering. None of the actors are noteworthy except for horror (in the highly underrated Halloween III) veteran and frequent TV guest Tom Atkins, who definitely should have had a larger role. Ultimately, if you go to this film for skin, blood and guts flying in your face, you’ve got it. Just remember the story got checked at the door. - Bryer Wharton

Summit Entertainment
In Theatres: 02.06
When a secret formula is stolen from an underground U.S. government agency, a band of individuals with special abilities will stop at nothing to expose the truth and see the destruction of the evil empire. I was certain Brett Ratner would die clenching the “World’s Worst Superhero Film” award after the atrocity that was X-Men: The Last Stand. I was wrong. He can pass that puppy over to Paul McGuigan like a gruesome case of gonorrhea for this unbearable, music-video saturated tale that delivers nothing but headaches and regrets. Essentially, Push is a generic story that follows all the comic book characters no one ever cared about (without using the Marvel or D.C. universes). Remember Banshee, the X-Man whose special ability was a deafening scream? Good, you’re not supposed to, but somehow writer David Bourla thought the same mutation was clever enough to fit into his pointless fantasy. It isn’t. Moving along, Dakota Fanning is in a tough position career-wise. As the amateur psychic who scribbles foreseen visions on her Magna Doodle, she’s too old to be seen as cutesy and too young to be taken seriously. Who knew losing your ability to act was a side effect of puberty? With far superior productions of the same genre on the horizon, Push will quickly snuggle up nice and cozy to other comparable flicks like Daredevil, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen and Elektra in the discount bin at Wal-Mart. - Jimmy Martin

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
Street: 02.17
Director John Erick Dowdle proves to be incredibly impatient as he remakes the 2007 Spanish horror flick, [REC], only fourteen months after the original premiered at the Venice Film Festival. While documenting the actions of the Los Angeles Fire Department with her cameraman in tow, television reporter Angela Vidal (Jennifer Carpenter) soon finds herself separated from society inside a multi-level apartment complex along with its tenants and a variety of blood-thirsty savages. Now, why would anyone believe that by increasing the budget of first-person/voyeuristic feature, you would create a more realistic terrifying experience? Quarantine’s attempt to prosper on the technical aspects of The Blair Witch Project’s inventive filmmaking techniques fails miserably. The simplistic production value and the use of nameless actors allowed the 1999 blockbuster to sail unscathed in uncharted waters, however, the same product cannot be replicated with a high-definition camera and Ally McBeal’s Greg Germann. It lacks any type of innovation. Also lacking is any form of expertise in acting. I was willing to watch Carpenter take a crack at the big-screen (she’s already the weakest link on Showtime’s Dexter), but was once again confirmed of her inability to convey any type of authentic emotion. Quarantine is a one-trick $12 million pony that needs to mosey straight into the glue factory. - Jimmy Martin

Under the Sea 3D
Warner Bros.
In Theaters: 02.13
I’m fairly certain you could transfer any film into 3D and automatically make it incredible. Can you imagine a three-dimensional Mannequin II? Amazing! Director Howard Hall returns to the IMAX universe with another installment of deep-sea adventures in Under the Sea 3D. Narrated by Jim Carrey, the film chronicles the various relationships that exist amongst the creatures of the deep. Documenting both extremes with mutually benefiting acts of symbiosis and jaw-dropping accounts of the submerged food chain, one thing’s for certain…nothing amuses an audience quite like a scaly sea serpent slithering inches from your retinas. While the narration feels as though it were generated for 3rd graders (their primary audience I’m sure), the clever soundtrack and voyeuristic cinematography allows for an experience unimaginable in the classroom. Under the Sea 3D can be seen at the Clark Planetarium downtown at the Gateway. - Jimmy Martin

Urban Legends: Season One
Street: 03.31
Following in the lucrative footsteps of The Discovery Channel’s Myth Busters, the Biography Channel too has developed a somewhat entertaining series in which celebrated folklore is explored and deemed truth or fiction. Hosted by Michael Allcock, each episode presents three popular myths, but only one segment is an accurate account. While the last-minute unveiling of the real story is amusing, I continually questioned myself on why I wasted my time on the remaining two-thirds of the fictitious programming. After seven episodes, I began to skip straight to the revelation. Also, the shoddy production work doesn’t assist with garnering my full attention. The cheap dramatizations, amateurish visual effects and grainy video quality feel as though they were created by the same team who produces Osama Bin Laden’s cave adventures. It does nothing but take away from the appealing substance. All in all, it was exciting to hear about a variety of bizarre yet true stories including the one about the man who survived after being run over by a steamroller! Whoops, you can skip episode five. - Jimmy Martin

Warner Bros.
In Theaters: 03.06
Imagine an alternate world where costumed avengers are real and President Nixon just began his third term in office. Pretty scary, right? When a fellow crime fighter is viciously murdered, old partners must reunite to reveal the truth of his death, but what they uncover becomes much more destructive. There’s a lot to be said for the man who stood toe to toe with “the unfilmable film” and undeniably executed one of the greatest cinematic adaptations in film history. Director Zack Snyder has flawlessly brought the 1986 graphic novel to life and inevitably made every spectator feel as giddy as a schoolgirl. Every frame breathes with perfected intensity from all spectrums of the art form. From the dilapidated alternate New York City set designs to the ideal casting selection, this crowning feat effectively balances an ideal blend of action and drama that will be commended for years to come. While Billy Crudup, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, and Patrick Wilson provide solid performances, Jackie Earle Haley clearly outshines the talented ensemble cast as the psychopathic yet moral hero, Rorschach. In fact, I want to see his birth certificate, because I’m fairly certain it’ll read “Jackie Earle ‘Rorschach’ Haley.” It is the role he was born to play. While some super-fans may attack Snyder’s decision to alter various aspects of the origin, in reality, he made a wise choice in updating the aging material without neglecting its message. This is the second achievement for adult oriented comic-book films along with The Dark Knight. With that said, the dark undertone future is looking quite bright for these mature transformations. - Jimmy Martin