Movie Review Shorts – Roundup of New Flicks on PPV and DVD

Just because the holidays are over (my workout regimen thanks that fact), it doesn’t mean winter isn’t upon us. There are sure to be plenty of nights where there’s nothing on TV or the weather too crappy to go out. So, I did my best to take in a variety of random movies these past few weeks and wanted share a few that I found interesting. So if you find yourself staying in in the coming months, check ‘em out and let me know what you think.

Columbiana – this movie is classic revenge flick, except the revenge seeker is the daughter of Columbian drug lord’s henchman, seeking justice for her parents’ murder. Confusing? It’s not. It’s pretty cool actually and Zoe Saldana kicks ass. It’s the right mix of story and action to keep you interested. Side note – I would love to see her and Jason Statham paired up together. She’s got action ability. Put Zoe to work!

Unstoppable – a runaway train heading toward a working class Pennsylvania town, is that really the storyline? Yep, it is, and despite the simple premise the movie holds its own. Denzel does his part being the serious anchor actor, while Chris Pine (i.e. young Starship Enterprise Captain James T. Kirk in franchise reboot, Star Trek) does his part looking good and saving the day. I admit I begrudgingly watched, but was on the edge of my seat ten minutes in and exhaled audibly at the end.

Descent 2 – did you ever see the first one? Well I did and it was creepy. So creepy it bothered me for weeks. But there’s something about scary movies…. I can’t stay away from them, even if I do see them from behind two hands. The sequel picks up where the first movie left off, with lone survivor Sarah Carter returning from the Appalachian cave system she’d barely escaped to search for her five missing friends. While it’s not as creepy as the first, the plot line throws you two loops, with the shocker at the end making the sequel worth checking out.  But only if you saw the first. You must see the first to get the creep factor.

127 Hours – I love me some James Franco. While true, I don’t get the whole twisted story line of his on General Hospital where he is currently a guest star in a plot line that is destined to bring down Sam, Jason and the rest of the Port Charles mob scene, he is an incredible actor and this movie, based on the true story of hiker Aron Ralston whose arm got trapped under a boulder while hiking in Utah, shows the range of his acting ability. If you know the story of Ralston then you know how it ends. The movie tried some interesting methods to not make it into a typical survivor story – flashback sequences and premonitions are a unique add, while the music seems to underscore the randomness of the accident altogether.

Apollo 18 – I have always been curious about space. One of my earliest childhood dreams was to be an astronaut (funny, since I hate to fly). I even wrote an essay that won me a trip to Space Camp as a kid, that’s how passionate about space exploration I was. But while my dreams shifted over the years, I never forgot my curiosity in what lies beyond. To me, there have been few movies to entertain this curiosity in a truly meaningful way — Contact with Jodie Foster was pretty close — instead opting to deliver on the more scary side of the possibilities of what’s out there. Take Event Horizon for example.  [Note – that movie scared the shit out of me!] Apollo 18 was a different level of this scare approach, but the mock documentary approach begs your mind to ask a different question — why did we really create the space program? — and explores the age old curiosity of what could possibly exist out there, beyond the dark side of the moon.

Cowboys & Aliens – thought it would be lame, but it’s actually pretty decent. It’s the right mix of the Wild West meets Predator, and with Daniel Craig, Harrison Ford and a smaller (surprise) role from Sam Rockwell, made this a fun one for me in the end. The story line is kind of flat. But the pairing of cowboys and well, aliens, made this a fun one to watch.

Friends with Benefits – I actually loved this movie. I adore Mila Kunis and Justin Timberlake won back some points with me.  Of course we know how the movie is destined to go: guy meets girl, guy and girl hook up, guy and girl fall in love, etc., but their banter is pretty funny and I really enjoyed it.

Abduction – even though Taylor Lautner is in it and his acting, well, let’s just say his abs are better than his acting, it was a good action flick with a clever story line. Real acting from Sigourney Weaver and Alfred Molina helped to move this along and when it was over (2 am Christmas Eve since I was putting together a trampoline until then!) I found myself pleasantly surprised.

A few movies I saw that aren’t worth the rental, nor the time: Final Destination 5 (nothing beats the first one), Straw Dogs (shame, since I had such high hopes for Stellan Skarsgård) and Water for Elephants. But to be fair on the last one, I haven’t watched it yet. It was playing in the background while wrapping one night and it sounded so boring in the back I couldn’t bring myself to play it. I also think the movie won’t compare to the book, which always disappoints me, so I might avoid altogether.

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