Red Rental Summer Reviews

Redbox_Free_CodesOh how I love me some RedBox movie rentals. So many choices, so little money. And I’ve seen my share of their selections over the summer months. Here are some quickee reviews to get you moving in the right direction as the summer starts winding to an end…

300: Rise Of An Empire (R)

Oh I dunno. I really liked the first one and I thought Gerard Butler was phenomenal as King Leonidas however in this follow up, Butler is replaced (because he was killed in battle…remember?) with Sullivan Stapleton as Themistocles, a warrior of the sea. It’s nowhere near as good as the first one but despite that…I wouldn’t rule it out as a rental if you’re into this type of film.

Rating: C

Divergent (PG-13)

Based on the novel of the same name, this film piggybacks on “The Hunger Games” by appealing to the teen audience. Overall it’s not a bad film and I liked Shailene Woodley as the lead, but the love interest (played by Theo James) is kinda wooden and I never really fell for the characters. That being said, my daughter LOVES this film and so…if you have kids who are of sound mind and can follow a storyline that very much centers around societal selection & oppression, then by all means….RENT IT!

Rating: B

The Lego Movie (PG)

Despite the obvious comparisons to “Wreck It Ralph,” this film has it’s own style. I wasn’t as happy with the storyline but everyone else in my family enjoyed it so…I’ll say give it a go. By the way…Batman steals the movie…

Rating: B-

Under The Skin (R)

What can I say about this movie? It’s an homage to Stanley Kubrick? Obviously. It’s weird and slow? Yes…it is. It’s got an odd soundtrack that is somewhat annoying at times. Yep…got that. It stars the hottest actress on the planet right now? Yes….Scarlett Johansson is in it and she’s very good. It’s about an alien on Earth who lures men (and possibly women) back to her lair to be used for…something but we don’t know? Yeah…got that. Sooooo…what do I think? I think it’s awesome. But ya gotta be in the right mood for it. And it’s DEFINITELY not for kids.

Rating: A

Her (R)

I don’t know what to say about this movie other than this….I tried watching it 4 times and could never get more than 20 minutes into it at a time before falling asleep. How it was up for Oscar consideration is beyond me but hey…maybe I was just sleepy. But to me…the main character is a bore (which I think is part of the point) and the idea of falling in love with your cell phone is kinda dumb. Just sayin’. Also not for kids…

Rating: D

Adult World (R)

A young woman needs to grow up after college so her folks tell her that her time has come….get a job or else. Unfortunately, Amy (Emma Roberts) is a wannabe poet with a penchant for screwing things up. So…she gets a job working at a mom & pop porn shop. In steps her mentor and favorite writer (John Cusack) to tutor her in the ways of the world…and writing. It’s not a great movie but it passed the time. I’m always gonna like Cusack (except for The Crow…which sucked) so it’s got that going for it. Eh…you could do worse.

Rating: B-

The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty (PG)

I dunno what it is about this movie but I liked it. Walter (Ben Stiller) works for Life magazine as a photo developer. When it begins to fold and Walter is set to lose his job, he sets out on an adventure to find the one photographer who has always treated him with respect and honesty. Its not an exciting premise but the leads (Stiller & Kristen Wiig) squeeze a lot out of a little. And the soundtrack is excellent also. A good family flick!

Rating: B+

Don Jon

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What could have turned into a smut filled sex romp comedy actually has something to say in this fine little film by Joseph Gordon-Levitt. Being in the entertainment business for many years and having been in so many blockbuster films of late (Inception, The Dark Knight Rises, Looper), JGL hits his stride in a coming of age dramedy that never gets too heavy handed yet has plenty to say about the salacious nature of porn and its affects on human relationships.

Jon is a player. He has his way with women and he can turn on the charm at the drop of a hat. But for some reason, he prefers porn to the company of real women. In an explanation that is as honest as any on film, Don addresses his reasons for enjoying porn and asserts that he can change whenever he wants too but…he doesn’t WANT to. So he continues his weekly grind of working out, hanging with his boys, visiting his family (played by Tony Danza, Glenne Headly and a scene stealing Brie Larson) and going to church where he confesses his “sins” every Sunday. Oh…and bedding any woman who is ready and willing.

All is going well until he meets a “dime,” or the perfect woman. Scarlett Johansson is Barbara, a scene-stealing, gum-chewing ball of sexuality that makes Don purr. She attempts to rope him in, molding him into the man she wants him to be (which is a lot like the perfect men she sees in the movies) BEFORE she sleeps with him. This, in turn, slows the movie a bit as the trap is set. But she catches him watching porn and this sets the wheels in motion for Don to change his life. He is looking for something more than what he has found so far and it’s not until he meets an older student in his evening class (played by Julianne Moore) that he learns about how meaningful sex and love can be. She has recently lost her husband and son and it’s in her performance that “Don Jon” becomes something more than just another drama about the failure of men to grow and understand the opposite sex and more about the importance of feeling comfortable in a relationship with someone else.

Everyone involved with this movie is fantastic and I enjoyed a lot of it. It does slow a little bit in the middle, sagging just enough to lull you into wondering where it’s going and then when the final act takes place, it’s all that more powerful. Is “Don Jon” a great movie? No. But it DOES have a lot to say and it says it effectively without becoming preachy. I recommend it for a matinee viewing and it IS rated R for a reason. There are a lot of scenes (although not X-rated graphic) of nudity and sex and some foul language. It’s not for the young and if you are offended by such, I would avoid it. But underneath the hardcore exterior, this film is a love story about a man trying to find someone who completes him. And in the end…that’s all we all really want…isn’t it?

Overall Rating: B+

The Avengers

It’s officially the start of summer blockbuster season and following closely behind “The Hunger Games” is this massive green monster that has hit the floor running by bringing in a $300 million haul before it even arrived in the United States! Fanboys and comic junkies have been craving for this momentous occasion ever since it was hinted in Iron Man I that Dr. Evil…er…I mean, Nick Fury was gonna bring together the greatest fighting team of superheroes the world had ever seen and LO & BEHOLD! Here it is! Now the BIG, GREEN QUESTION…Does it hold up? If you’ve read all the reviews…absolutely! It’s big, it’s loud and it packs quite a punch! But wait! It ALSO has a good script, a great villain (Tom Hiddleston reprises his role as “Loki” from last summer’s “Thor” with a glee that makes him ALMOST the best reason to see the movie!), a lot of characters in tights and silly outfits and…Scarlett Johansson. Oh…and the JOLLIEST green giant you’ve EVER seen that TOTALLY steals the movie!

So…what’s it about? Well…that’s a good question! And thankfully, unlike some summer superhero blockbusters that seem to be all about the CGI effects (Transformers) or can get bloated with too much talking (Green Lantern) or that don’t live up to the hype (Wolverine), THIS film DOES live up to the hype by allowing our cast of characters to have some personality. Here’s the lineup…

  • Captain America (Chris Evans) – the frozen super-soldier who has been dethawed in the 21st century. He’s lagging a little bit in the past but is catching up quickly and has got a new fan base that has him feeling good about himself. Oh…and he has a cool shield.
  • Iron Man (Robert Downey, Jr) – the brilliant multi-gazillionaire Tony Stark who has created an iron suit that was showcased in 2 previous films that not only highlighted his amazing ability to create just about anything and make it work, but who also has a sarcastic wit and smartass personality that is unrivaled in the Marvel universe.
  • Thor (Chris Hemsworth) – the demigod who has found his humility among the human race and who cherishes a woman here on Earth. This, in turn, makes him want to protect our kind from mass destruction (thankfully). He’s got a big hammer and he knows how to use it!
  • The Black Widow (Scarlett Johannson) – a super spy who can kick your ass and all your buddies also. She may or may not have psychological issues…just so ya know.
  • Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) – a sharpshooter with a bow & arrow. Also good at hand-to-hand combat.
  • Hulk (CGI) – one ugly, green muthaf$%@er who will kick ANYONE’S butt and he doesn’t seem to care one way or another WHO you are. Good guy, bad guy, whoever…you get in his way? He’ll take you out. The hard way.

So there you have The Avengers. So now…how does this ragtag team of superheroes band together and for what reason? Well…let me try to explain without giving away too much…

Loki, Thor’s brother, has banded together with an alien race to try to take over the world. He needs the glowing blue box (last seen in “Captain America” last summer) to open a portal that will allow the alien race’s army to enter our dimension and take over Earth. Needless to say, Loki succeeds and then…well…

A WHOLE LOTTA AWESOMENESS HAPPENS!!! In what has got to be one of the greatest action scenes ever we get to see all of our beloved heroes take on the alien baddies in Manhattan! Things get so out of control that the United States decides to drop a nuclear bomb on the city in hopes of cleaning it all up! Will our heroes rescue the city and defeat the bad guys?

Does Iron Man wear a steel banana hammock?

Uh…I dunno about that. Aaaanyway…that is the meat of the movie and it is every bit as spectacular as everyone is saying it is. The effects are dizzying, the character development is pretty damn good for a summer action flick and it moves at a pretty good clip, keeping the action first and foremost despite there being a couple of scenes that probably could have been cut but…whatever. It’s summer movie making at its best and with the death of a major minor character and a post credit hint at a sequel, there are a few surprises to keep all the fans salivating for the next installment of Iron Man/Thor/Captain America/…

Ok…hang on…let’s discuss the REAL reason you should see this movie. He’s big. He’s green. And he TOTALLY steals this flick from the slick talkin’ Tony Stark. It’s The Hulk’s film, no matter what anyone tries to tell you and Mark Ruffalo as the green giant was perfect casting! If you’ve seen the 2 previous Hulk films, you know what I’m talking about. There was something missing from those movies. I don’t know if it was the character development or the way they made Bruce Banner seem too whimpy or what, but in THIS movie, they treat Banner as if he’s a ticking time bomb, and that makes the wait to see Hulk one of the pleasant surprises. It takes a while but when it DOES happen…it’s awesome! And come to find out…the Hulk has a sense of humor! Who knew?

So is it the greatest superhero film EVER? Uh…I could argue that it’s not. My brother and I BOTH agree that “Watchmen” is our benchmark for superhero movies. But it’s more of an adult superhero film (hellooooo big blue penis. Where was the banana hammock for THAT dude? Yeesh…) so I don’t know if you can compare the two. And then you also have “The Dark Knight” and “Ghost Rider” (just kidding). “Avengers” is all about the action and even though there is plenty of it, it also includes lots of humor and lots of good writing. Oh…and the director, Joss Whedon, does a great job of letting ALL the characters stand on their own merit, never once becoming caricatures or too “cartoony” and this makes it all feel realistic in its own way.

Go see “Avengers,” buy some popcorn (but no soda. This flick is LONG) and kick back and enjoy the start of a long action blockbuster summer. This is very much worthy of your hard-earned bucks!

Overall Rating: A

See this movie or HULK SMASH!!!