Movie Review: ‘Hercules’ Starring Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson

Hercules Poster LargeDwayne Johnson is the hottest action star in Hollywood, and with good reason. His good looks, out of this works physique, and his captivating personality has made him a hot commodity in Hollywood. All those attributes are on display in the Summer action fare Hercules.

The Brett Ratner directed film may not please mythological purists, but it’s a hell of an action film. While Hercules was known for his 12 labours, it’s apparent that Ratner didn’t find then important enough to focus on in the film. I admit, I was looking forward to seeing Johnson fight a lion, but if you have seen the trailer for the film, you’ve seen most of that battle. Instead, Ratner focuses on Hercules mission to protect Lord Cotys and the land of Thraces. Due to that focus, the audience gets an action­packed, violent ride featuring Johnson destroying everything in his path. Throw in a little comedic humor from Ian McShane, who plays Amphiaurus, and you get a fun, summer popcorn­flick.

In conclusion, being a big­budget, summer blockbuster, I knew better than to expect a Hercules’ film focusing on mythology. Truth be told, I always found that topic a bit boring in school. Johnson shows once again why he is the top action star in Hollywood today, as he carries the cookie ­cutter script, while plowing through his enemy like bowling pins. Hercules is a fun summer romp, while not very memorable, it’s still a decent way to enjoy 90 minutes.

Hercules gets a B.

Movie Review: ‘Lucy’ Starring Scarlett Johansson, Morgan Freeman

lucy posterDon’t be fooled by the trailer for Lucy, the latest film from director Luc Besson. It looks like a sci­fi, action thriller; yet what it really is, is a mean-­spirited, unexciting train wreck.

Scarlett Johansson stars as Lucy. One of my big problems with the film is that we are introduced to Lucy at the beginning of the film when her douschebag boyfriend handcuffs a briefcase to her wrist, forcing her to deliver it to a group if Chinese drug dealers. Lucy winds up getting knocked out by the drug dealers, waking up to find they have surgically implanted a bag of synthetic drugs in her abdomen.

The action scenes are nothing to write home about, as Johansson’s character is so unlikable, some of the audience was actually rooting for her demise. Besson drops the ball, as there is no emotional connection between Lucy and the audience. I couldn’t have cared less what happened to her. In fact, she comes across as more of a sociopath than anything.

Morgan Freeman is totally pointless to the film, other than lending his voice and playing his typical “Morgan Freeman” character. Besson could have put anyone into Freeman’s role and it wouldn’t have made the film any worse.

Besson is responsible for one of the best action films in the last 20 years, The Professional. That film had great characters played by Natalie Portman, Jean Reno and Gary Oldman. It was a gripping, yet exciting film. Lucy is none of that. The acting is nothing special. The effects are lazily done, and Besson’s story telling is offensive. It’s almost as if he assumes the audience is filled with dumb people, when in actuality, it’s his film that is just plain dumb.

Lucy gets a D­.

Reel Spoilers Episode 51: ‘Planes: Fire and Rescue,’ ‘Sex Tape’ and ‘The Purge: Anarchy’

Planes Fire Rescue Poster LargeIt’s Episode #51… again. Our Dawn of the Planet Apes, which was actually #50, was called #51. This is what happens when Tom & Joe are left to their own devices. So this is really, truly, honest-to-gosh episode #51. Or, if you’d prefer, #51a.

And it’s a history making episode at that. We’ve been forced to flee the bunker! The Brackett Compound is no more. A new recording location has been acquired. And, if that’s not enough history-making for you, a guest returns for the first time ever. Jim Hill was brave enough to venture into the…well, the not-a-bunker anymore in order to discuss Planes: Fire & Rescue.

Also, we talk about a Sex Tape and The Purge: Anarchy.

It’s a jam packed, extra-long, history making Reel Spoilers: Episode 51 or 52 or 51a.

You’ve been warned…and confused.

Starring: Jim Hill, Tom O’Keefe, Joe Buttice, Dan Graney, Blake Fehl, Kevin Brackett
Run-time: 1hr 22min

You can listen to the podcast above, subscribe to our RSS feed, or subscribe via iTunes. You can also find us on the Stitcher radio app for smartphones and iPads.

Marvel’s GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY opens August 1! Enter to Win Passes to the St. Louis Advance Screening!

Enter for your chance to receive a pair of passes to a special advance screening!

Marvel Logo Small

Guardians Poster

©2014 MARVEL

Marvel’s GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY finds space adventurer Peter Quill the object of a bounty hunt after stealing an orb coveted by a treacherous villain, but when Quill discovers the power it holds, he must find a way to rally the quartet of ragtag rivals hot on his trail to save the universe.

Cast: James Gunn
Director: James Gunn

In order to enter the contest, e-mail us and tell us why you can’t wait to see the movie!

No purchase necessary. Void where restricted or prohibited by law. At the screening seating is not guaranteed and is available on a first-come, first-served basis. Refer to screening pass for further restrictions. Screening pass winners will be drawn at random and notified via email. Limit two (admit-one) passes per person. Must be age 13 or over to enter. Rated PG-13.

GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY opens August 1

Massive Character Changes at Marvel Comics

Ever since the “Marvel Now” initiative went into effect, The House of Ideas has been taking risk after risk with some of their most popular characters.  They “killed” Peter Parker and replaced him with Otto Octavius, stripped Wolverine of his healing factor, brought the original 1960′s X-Men into the present time, and even did a Battle Royal style book featuring “C” and “D” list characters (Avengers Arena).  Keeping with the recent tradition, Marvel has made some pretty massive announcements over the last week.

thor-dauterman-hedThe first of those changes came on ABC’s “The View”.  It was announced that Thor  would become a female in the new book written by long time Thor writer, Jason  Aaron and artist Russell Dauterman.  There’s speculation that this version of Thor  will be revealed to be Thor’s sister or possibly the Angela character (maybe  Angela is Thor’s sister).  The idea that she is Thor’s sister could come to light in  the Original Sin mini series (also written by Jason Aaron).  The only question I  have is how this might affect the Marvel Cinematic Universe.  I’m sure Chris Hemsworth doesn’t have  anything to worry about, but it’s an interesting development.  For those “nerds”  that are calling bullshit, I say this: Jason Aaron is one of comics best writers. He will tell a great story regardless if Thor has balls or not.  Stop worrying.

falcon cap

The second character to get a major change is Captain America.  As seen two nights ago on the Colbert Report, Joe Quesada debuted the new Captain America.  It was none other than the former Falcon, Sam Wilson.  This is coming off the most recent development in the Captain America book.  If you’ve been under a rock the last couple of weeks, Sam Wilson slept with Jett Black in the last Captain America issue.  There was a big kerfluffle about the age of Jett Black due to a misinformed article.  Rick Remender (the current writer of Captain America) has stripped Steve Rogers of the Super Soldier Serum.  In doing so, Cap’s body aged to reflect how old he actually is.  Needing a Captain America, it looks like Sam Wilson will pick up the slack. Don’t worry Steve Rogers’ fans, he’s not going anywhere.  Rogers will be guiding Sam Wilson in his future adventures (think Bruce Wayne from Batman Beyond).  The new Captain America series will be written by Rick Remender and will feature art from Stuart Immonen.  Again, I wonder what this will mean for Chris Evans in the MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe).  Evans signed a 6 picture deal and now he only has two films left. The logical choice is for Bucky Barnes AKA The Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan) to pick up the mantle, but given the popularity Anthony Mackie received as The Falcon, maybe he gets the nod in future films.

Superior Iron Man

The last big change will not come from a character changing race or sex, but rather his outlook on the world.  In November, Tom Taylor (Injustice & Earth 2) and Yildray Cinar will bring us, The Superior Iron Man. In the book, Tony Stark will relocate to San Francisco. Part of the story line revolves around Stark releasing  a mobile app version of his Extremis technology (created by Warren Ellis that served as the basis of Iron Man 2) that offers users the promise of “beauty, perfection … and possibly immortality.”  Details are scarce, but the idea behind the book is that Tony Stark will “unleash the darkness in himself upon the world”. Sounds pretty ominous.  Where does that leave Iron Man?  Will he become a villain?  Judging by Tom Taylor’s previous work, chances are, yes. The last time someone used the word “Superior” in the title was when Otto Octavius took over Peter Parker’s brain.  

avengers-now

With the the three cornerstones of the Avengers going through some major changes, it would only make sense that The Avengers would get shaken up, as well. Entertainment Weekly debuted this picture of the new Avengers line up.  What I find interesting is how many current and future MCU characters are included.  This goes back to Marvel’s great job at cross-branding.  In the picture, you see Medusa from the Immortals, The Scarlet Witch, Iron Man, Dr. Strange, Ant-Man, The Winter Soldier, Angela, Thor, Captain America, Inferno (also from the Inhumans), and Deathlok.  It is interesting to note that Scarlet Witch, Dr. Strange, and Ant-Man all have Marvel Studio films in the works.  The Inhumans is another property that is in development from Marvel.  When you look at the character design for Deathlok, he resembles the character from the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. TV show.

avengers

There is another Avengers team set to debut, and this one has some familiar faces but with a different take.  Writer Jonathan Hickman will jump ahead 5 years in the current Avengers book, and while the names on the roster are familiar, some of the characters have a different look. Starting from left to right, we’ve got Havok (Cyclops’s younger brother), a much different looking Thor, the new Captain America, Hulk, and possibly Thor’s old alter ego Johnathan Blake.

Breaking these characters down, Havok has been a part of the Uncanny Avengers (a mixture of X-Men and Avengers), so him being there makes some sense.  Thor is no longer carrying his traditional hammer.  Now it looks like he’s carrying the axe, Jarnbjorn. Also, his arm looks to have been replaced by an arm of the Destroyer robot.  Thor carrying the axe is also out of The Uncanny Avengers.  The Destroyer arm is something that Jason Aaron has hinted at during his run on Thor: God of Thunder. Does that mean that Thor is no longer worthy to wield the mighty Mjolnir? Judging by the new lady Thor, I’d say yes. Then you have The Hulk.  No big changes for the Jade Giant yet.  Finally, you have the man with the cane.  Could that be Johnathan Blake (Thor’s former alter ego) or maybe the old version of Steve Rogers?  Not much has been announced regarding this Avengers line-up, but everyone loves to speculate.

Marvel dropped a lot of big news and massive reveals on fanboys and fangirls this week.  With the San Diego Comic Con only 7 days away, what else could they possibly have in store?  Your guess is as good as mine.

 

Movie Review: ‘Sex Tape’ Starring Jason Segel and Cameron Diaz

sex-tapeSex Tape is yet another film that is destined to be panned by critics, but reasonably enjoyed by audiences. Most moviegoers will head to their local cinema, enjoy a popcorn, and have a few laughs and wonder why critics hated this movie so much. At the time this review is being written, the film sits at a score of 16% on the movie review aggregator RottenTomatoes.com. Many will find this score low for a movie that entertained them for a bit of their free time. Sure, a few will share the derision of the critics, but most people will be able to find enough to enjoy. There are a number of laughs, a couple outlandishly funny characters, and enough racy humor for most adult moviegoers. So, why do critics hate it so much?

Let’s start at the beginning. Sex Tape follows Annie (Cameron Diaz) and Jay (Jason Segel), a couple fast approaching middle age, who like many people with children, find their sex life almost non-existent. This is in stark contrast to the early portions of their relationship where sex was a driving force in their love for each other.  Annie’s thoughtful narration takes us through this early portion of their relationship, where she describes every scary detail of their sex life, including items like Jay’s constant erections. Their current situation of parenthood has robbed them of the time and energy, and most importantly the sex life they thought they would always have. This situation leads to an inspiration by Annie. A night away from the kids to rekindle the romance.  Despite many false starts, the couple finally spices up their life by creating a sex tape using their iPad.  Unfortunately for them, the video is uploaded to the cloud, and to numerous devices they’ve given people over the years.   The couple must quickly track down all their devices, and erase the video before their closest family and friends see their special moment.

On paper the premise sounds pretty funny, if not a bit cringe worthy. The film manages to produces enough laughs, but follows up with a thin plot stretched to the point of exertion.  Much like director Jake Kasdan’s last feature, Bad Teacher, it struggles to find the correct tone. The film seems to be unable to decide if it is a sweet rom-com about the struggles of married life, or a raunch-com about a sex tape.  The raunch feels very forced and unnatural when compared to films like The Hangover, Horrible Bosses, etc.

The film is another writing team-up with Jason Segel and his writing partner Nicholas Stoller who have had hits like Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Get Him to the Greek and The Muppets.  The pair had their first major misstep with 2012′s The Five Year Engagement, which suffered due to its length, and once again problems with the tone. All the films (except The Muppets) feature casts with strong improvisational skills, and one wonders if that is where the problem came in this film. Did director Kasdan not reign them in enough? Was he too focused on cheap laughs that he forgot to craft an intriguing story? Whatever the case, the final product is lacking compared to the talent displayed on screen.

Segel continues to be an affable everyman, but loses a lot of that charm to over the top injuries later in the film. Diaz is serviceable, but is never quite believable as a mommy blogger. The real standout in the film is Rob Lowe as a family friendly CEO with a darkside.  The heartiest laughs in the film come from interactions with him. Supporting cast members Rob Corddry and Ellie Kemper are also a small bright spot in the film.

The film works more effectively as an Apple commercial than it does as a comedy sometimes.  iPads are integral plot devices in the film, but Sex Tape could’ve used a few less moments extolling a product’s virtues, and instead created more laughs. It’s still a serviceable comedy, but with the pedigree involved, it’s not wrong to expect more. Most audience members will find enough to enjoy, but don’t expect it to hit the heights of some of the other highly rated adult comedies of the summer.

Grade: C+

Reel Spoilers Episode 50: ‘Dawn of the Planet of Apes’ Starring Andy Serkis, Jason Clarke, Gary Oldman

Dawn Planet of the Apes Poster LargeThis week on the show we focus on Dawn of the Planet of the Apes but we’re a wounded beast. No Dan, No Blake, No Kevin…No problem. You get Tom and Joe but, more importantly, Rich Handley steps into save the day. Who’s Rich Handley you ask? He is our resident Ape expert. Not like in a “Dian Fossey” kind of way. But in a ‘he’s written multiple books about the franchise” kind of way.

Rich has written stuff like Timeline of the Planet of the Apes and Lexicon of the Planet of the Apes. So if you have Ape questions, he has Ape answers. Do you have an entry on Wookieepedia? Well, he does. What have you done with your life?

It’s Reel Spoilers #50 – Dawn of the Planet of Apes.

You’ve been warned.

Starring: Tom O’Keefe, Joe Buttice, Rich Handley
Run-time: 1hr 10min

You can listen to the podcast above, subscribe to our RSS feed, or subscribe via iTunes. You can also find us on the Stitcher radio app for smartphones and iPads.

LUCY opens July 25! Enter to Win Passes to the St. Louis Advance Screening!

Enter for your chance to receive a pair of passes to a special advance screening!

lucy posterFrom La Femme Nikita and The Professional to The Fifth Element, writer/director Luc Besson has created some of the toughest, most memorable female action heroes in cinematic history. Now, Besson directs Scarlett Johansson in Lucy, an action-thriller that tracks a woman accidentally caught in a dark deal who turns the tables on her captors and transforms into a merciless warrior evolved beyond human logic.

Cast: Scarlett Johansson, Morgan Freeman
Director: Luc Besson

In order to enter the contest, e-mail us and tell us why you can’t wait to see the movie!

No purchase necessary. Void where restricted or prohibited by law. At the screening seating is not guaranteed and is available on a first-come, first-served basis. Refer to screening pass for further restrictions. Screening pass winners will be drawn at random and notified via email. Limit two (admit-one) passes per person. Must be age 13 or over to enter.

LUCY opens July 25!

WISH I WAS HERE opens July 25! Enter to Win Passes to the St. Louis Advance Screening!

Enter for your chance to receive a pair of passes to a special advance screening!

wish i was here posterDirector Zach Braff’s follow-up to his indie breakout hit “Garden State” is a comedy telling the story of a thirtysomething man who finds himself at major crossroads, which forces him to examine his life, his career, and his family.

Cast: Zach Braff, Kate Hudson, Joey King, Jim Parsons, Ashley Green, Mandy Patinkin, Josh Gad
Director: Zach Braff

In order to enter the contest, e-mail us and tell us why you can’t wait to see the movie!

No purchase necessary. Void where restricted or prohibited by law. At the screening seating is not guaranteed and is available on a first-come, first-served basis. Refer to screening pass for further restrictions. Screening pass winners will be drawn at random and notified via email. Limit two (admit-one) passes per person. Must be age 13 or over to enter.

WISH I WAS HERE opens July 25

THE PURGE: ANARCHY opens July 18! Enter to Win Passes to the St. Louis Advance Screening!

Enter for your chance to receive a pair of passes to a special advance screening!

purge 2 posterThe New Founders of America invite you to celebrate your annual right to Purge in THE PURGE: ANARCHY. Returning alongside writer/director/producer James DeMonaco to produce the sequel to 2013’s sleeper hit are Blumhouse Productions’ Jason Blum (Paranormal Activity and Insidious series), alongside Sébastien K. Lemercier (Assault on Precinct 13, Four Lovers) and Platinum Dunes partners Michael Bay (Pain & Gain, Transformers franchise), Brad Fuller (The Amityville Horror, A Nightmare on Elm Street) and Andrew Form (The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Friday the 13th).

Cast: Zach Gilford, Michael Williams, Kiele Sanchez, Frank Grillo, Carmen Ejogo
Director: James DeMonaco

In order to enter the contest, e-mail us and tell us why you can’t wait to see the movie!

No purchase necessary. Void where restricted or prohibited by law. At the screening seating is not guaranteed and is available on a first-come, first-served basis. Refer to screening pass for further restrictions. Screening pass winners will be drawn at random and notified via email. Limit two (admit-one) passes per person. Must be age 13 or over to enter.

THE PURGE: ANARCHY opens July 18

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