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Review: Sherlock Homes- A Game of Shadows (2011)

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Our favorite wise cracking Englishman, Sherlock Holmes is back. But it is still a sequel. Can it overcome the “sequels are never as good as the original” curse? Why, the answer is elementary my dear Watson.

Yup, Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law are back, and this time, the girl is different! With Irene Adler leaving the scene early on, all the two hero’s attention is on the villain this time. This time they face an adversary (Professor Moriarty) that can match wits with any one, including Holmes. With the villain set, all we have to do is sit back and watch the next edition of Monk meets The Bourne Identity.

Yes, the plot isn’t quite the best thing in the world. In fact, I don’t really remember a whole lot of it. But the reason you’re watching Sherlock Holmes is for the action scenes, the humor, and the wit. Robert Downey Jr. is at his charismatic best as Holmes, and Law plays the straight man to perfection. Yes, the chemistry between RDJ and Rachel McAdams is missing from the majority of the movie, but Noomi Rapace is no slouch. And adding Stephen Fry as the other Holmes is a stroke of genius. It doesn’t beat the original, but A Game of Shadows comes awfully close to matching it. Hopefully the third will complete the possibly excellent trilogy.

My Rating: B+

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Review: The Aviator (2004)

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I read a review one time before watching The Aviator, comparing it to Citizen Kane (one of the highest if not highest regarded piece of cinema in history). Well I don’t know about that, but no doubt about it Leonardo DiCaprio is a superb actor.

The Aviator is a biopic about the eccentric and insanely rich/successful Howard Hughes (DiCaprio). We start things off with his attempt to break into Hollywood and the long process to direct and fund “Hell’s Angels”. After the success of the film, Hughes goes into the flight business, designing, creating, and flying all sorts of planes, breaking records, and working for the military. Besides his successes we also get a look into his sometimes OCD like behavior, and his unsuccessful relationships. The result is a sad look at one of the most powerful persons in the world.

The Aviator presumes you have at least heard the name Howard Hughes. I’ve heard the name before but couldn’t tell you who he was. While it took me a little bit to gain my bearings, I soon began to understand Hughes. It seems to be every bit as epic as Gone with the Wind or Citizen Kane. It has the same kind of grand scope. I was a bit worried half way through, but once Hughes started to break down mentally, I was hooked. The courtroom scenes seemed especially great placing Alan Alda against DiCaprio (made me want to see J. Edgar). My one big problem was Cate Blanchett as Katherine Hepburn. She just seemed really annoying and a bad imitation of her. Not to mention there wasn’t much chemistry between her and Hughes. The fact she won an Oscar for best supporting actress is beyond me. But looking past that, it was a great movie.

My Rating: B+

Review: Contagion (2011)

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It’s a zombie movie minus the zombies. It’s Jude Law with screwed up teeth. It’s Gwyneth Paltrow looking like death. However you want to describe it, it’s Contagion.

Contagion is not for the germaphobe or the hypochondriac. It follows the spread of a deadly virus, and the race to create a vaccine to stop it. Several stories are pieced together, each taking on a different aspect of the affect the virus is having on the world. Matt Damon and his family make it personal, Jude Law tries make a conspiracy theory, Kate Winslet and Lawrence Fishburne try to find out how it all started.

While Contagion takes a look at some of the behind the scenes stuff that were to possibly happen if something of this scale were to break out, it also takes a look at how the population would react. It’s not quite a horror movie, but it makes it worse, knowing that something like this is not too far out of our imagination. Soderbergh uses close ups of phones and handrails to show off how easily something can spread, taking our everyday lives and throwing some danger in it. You can’t complain about the acting with the caliber of those involved. Even comedian Demetri Martin makes a surprise appearance and doesn’t botch it up. Some people hated the movie, but I loved it. The old school video game like music only furthered the on-edge feel Contagion has.

My Rating: B

Review: Hugo (2011)

Hugo: I went to see it as an afterthought without knowing much besides the trailer and the fact it was nominated for a boat load of Oscars including Best Picture and Best Director for Martin Scorsese. But besides that, I was at the mercy of the marketing team. For all I knew, it like a live action Polar Express of sorts. Well marketing team, you did a horrible job.

Depending on how much of the movie you want spoiled, a description for Hugo can go many ways. For your sake I’ll try best to describe without getting any really big spoilers in there. Hugo Cabret (Asa Butterfield) is an orphan who lives in the clocktower of a train station in Paris in the 1930’s. Hugo’s father (Jude Law) left him a robot like automaton, who, when fully functioning, is able to write and draw. However, although the trailer might lead you to think that Hugo’s big plot point is fixing this shiny metal man, it’s but a minor device used in the movie. The real plot is Hugo and his new friend Isabelle (Chloe Moretz) and her guardians and finding your place in the world. Really finding what you love to do and how that fits in to your purpose in the world. Sound like a broad definition? Well that’s the type of movie Hugo is. But Scorsese works with it, and does so masterfully.

Honestly, I’m pretty sure you would hate this film if you don’t have at least a basic understanding of the history of film. It’s slow moving at times and gets a tad boring at its somewhat long running time. BUT! If you, like me, love the history of movies, especially the early silent’s and the dream-like films of Georges Méliès, you will absolutely adore Hugo, as I did. There is no way you can hate on the acting (even Sacha Baron Cohen plays a character with more than one layer!), and some performances (Chloe Moretz) make you look forward to the future careers of these bright stars. Once again, I find myself wanting to move to Paris with a time machine in hand!

My Rating: A

Fall Movie Preview

So I was thinking to myself just how many movies are coming out that I would love to catch. Of course, I will never see all of these in theaters (mime is money), but in a perfect world this is the reverse order I would spend my hard earned cash on. This is my list, so some stuff may seem off. It’s not a list of the best, just what one’s I’m looking forward to.

11. Straw Dogs In Theaters: Now

Still don’t know how I feel about the remaking of Dustin Hoffman’s classic, but it’s worth a shot, right?

10. Immortals In Theaters: ??

You know how I feel about Tarsem’s previous work, The Fall. If it is half as good as that, I’d walk away happy.

9. Sherlock Holmes 2 In Theaters: December 16

Downey Jr. and Law are back!

8. J. Edgar In Theaters: November 9

Just so I can say I saw it in theaters when it takes home a crap ton of awards.

7. The Muppets In Theaters: November 23

C’mon! It’s the muppets!!!!!

6. In Time In Theaters: October 28

High-concept, sounds interesting enough for me to want to see how they deliver.

5. Contagion In Theaters: Now

People getting sick never looked so intriguing.

4. The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo In Theaters: December 21

I haven’t read the books, or seen the earlier movies, but the it’s David Fincher!

3. 50/50 In Theaters: September 30

Runs the risk of all the funny stuff being in the trailer, but I’d risk it.

2. Drive In Theaters: Now

Big Gosling fan, and not afraid to say it. The trailer itself is amazing.

1. Moneyball In Theaters: Now

The Social Network for sports? Ye-uh. I’m in.

Sherlock Holmes: Game of Shadows Trailer and Posters

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Yahoo dropped some posters of the soon-to-be-released sequel, Game of Shadows earlier in the week, and now we get our first look of the movie with the recently released trailer, available on the iTunes site here.

From iTunes:

Robert Downey Jr. reprises his role as the world's most famous
detective, Sherlock Holmes, and Jude Law returns as his formidable
colleague, Dr. Watson, in "Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows."
Sherlock Holmes has always been the smartest man in the room...
until now. There is a new criminal mastermind at large--Professor
Moriarty (Jared Harris)--and not only is he Holmes' intellectual
equal, but his capacity for evil, coupled with a complete lack
of conscience, may actually give him an advantage over the
renowned detective.