Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Friends with Benefits...

     Friends with Benefits is the story of Dylan (Justin Timberlake), an art director from Los Angeles and Jamie (Mila Kunis), an Executive Recruiter from New York City.  They meet while Jamie is trying to recruit Dylan for a position with GQ in NYC.  After initial reluctance to leave his family and home life behind, Dylan is finally convinced by not only the company’s offer but also the excitement with which Jamie hypes New York.  Finally moved in and starting to get the feel of his new position, Dylan is really only left with one companion, Jamie.  One night, while lounging and watching a romantic movie together, the two begin to ponder the relationships they’ve seen presented onscreen over the years and why sex has to be so emotionally involved.  From there, they decide they can make a sexual relationship with no lingering romantic emotions work, thus becoming the titular friends with benefits.  This, naturally, leads to complications as the two are forced to deal with their ever-evolving relationship and their feelings for themselves, others and one another.  Here is the trailer for you to check it our for yourself...
     The first element of this movie that caught my attention was the look.  Whether it’s the shoreline on the California coast, the skyline of midtown Manhattan or the amount of good looking people who make up the cast, each is shown in a way that makes them decidedly desirable.
     The second element to catch my attention was Justin Timberlake’s acting… and I definatly mean that in an good way.  Though the man has obviously made strides to step up his many talents (see: The Social Network), he definitely comes off as an actor that is serious about making good acting choices.

     Though it earns its R rating, the movie cops out when it comes to the sex scenes. With the exception of a few shots of Timberlake’s ass, everything is strategically placed to avoid revealing too much flesh. If you (like me) were hoping for some nudity from Mila Kunis – forget it. Even her one ultra-quick ass shot is a body double. Ultimately the sex scenes, through relatively frequent, are way too tame to sustain any real interest. It’s not like I was expecting Showgirls or something, but come on – this is supposed to be a sex romp.

     Overall I would say that this movie was a very pleasent surprise.  My wife and I were not expecting to laugh half as much as we did.  Let me know what you thought by leaving a comment below.  

Thursday, December 8, 2011

And then there were dinosaurs...

Terra Nova is an entertaining action-adventure/mystery that will appeal to fans who enjoy dinosaur fight scenes, touching family moments, and suggestions of deep mystery.

The Steven Spielberg-produced show follows Jim Shannon, an ex-cop in jail, whose family consists of surgeon wife Liz and their three kids, Josh, Maddie, and Zoe. While imprisoned, his wife gets an offer to go to Terra Nova, an untouched earth reached through a time portal.

Much of the pilot is spent explaining the parameters of this world. In 2149, the earth has become a polluted wreck of a planet where people must wear gas masks at all times to protect themselves from the air. Scientists have discovered a new timestream (thus ensuring that fiddling around in the past won't destroy the future -- the quantum mechanics here is a little iffy) to take humans 85 million years into the past, where air has oxygen in it and dinosaurs roam the earth.

In the future earth families are limited to two children, a rule the Shannons break for some unexplained reason. Jim -- in jail -- and Zoe -- not allowed -- must stowaway into the past.

The past is a lush paradise with solar panels, wind turbines, exotic fruits and little cottages that let in the sunlight (a novelty for our futuristic friends). It's a spectacular backdrop (filmed in Australia) of snaking vines, immense trees, and strange animals. Commander Nathaniel Taylor (from Avatar fame) is the leader of this little camp, and according to him, the first man ever to have arrived in Terra Nova.

"We are at the dawn of a new civilization," he tells the assembled crowd.

The Shannons spend some time wandering the village and getting overly excited about produce, but the parts of the pilot not used to set up the show are primarily filled with pure action. Terra Nova plays a little like a condensed version of every classic science-fiction action flick you've ever seen. One of the more thrilling scenes shows us a group of teens trapped in a car, surrounded by slashers (velociraptor-like dinosaurs) as they frantically gun through window slots.

Terra Nova is also tinged with shades of Lost, and not just because of the jungle. We meet the Sixers, renegade humans who control the quarry and live outside of the village's boundaries. Unlike the "others" (from Lost), the Sixers seem to believe in some mysterious conspiracy involving unintelligible scribbles on rocks and speculation about what Terra Nova was really founded for.

The Shannons, are likeable enough, if not yet fully fleshed out. In a funny quirk of character, Maddie is a monumental nerd who occasional spouts out scientific facts about the size of the moon and the bone structure of dinosaurs -- seriously guys, this is a new world.

Overall I would give Terra Nova a rating of 4 out of 5 and I would  recommend this show to any one of my friends, (as I acutally already have).  Have you already seen it?  What did you think?  Let me know by leaving a comment below!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Breaking Dawn Part 1...

First off I want to say that I am much more of a fan of the Twilight books than the movies but this movie was awesome.  From the moment that Jacob freaks when he receives Bella's wedding invitation, to the very last frame, the 5-star film is like a magnificent tasty feast that you won't want to ever end.  Thank goodness, the powers-to-be at Summit Entertainment which produces the Twilight series, made the decision to break Breaking Dawn into two films.  There's no way you could have packed all the action in the last book into one movie.  Even so, Breaking Dawn Part I could have been 15 or 20 minutes longer to have had enough time to luxuriously dwell on all the significant moments and life events that it covers.  Kristen Stewart perfectly captures Bella's apprehension as she's about to walk down the aisle at her wedding.  And the wedding scene is so lush, romantic and heartfelt as Edward and Bella whisper their vows.  The Gown...It will not be a letdown.  I don't want to reveal too much but it manages to be very Bella--not overdone--and yet it is stunningly and elegantly fitted (Kristen has said that it was tight), with elegantly figure-highlighting details.  But back to the lavishly romantic wedding--creatively designed by Alice Cullen.  My only criticism is that we all could have spent even more time at that wedding, honing in on meeting the visiting vampire contingents, checking in with Bella and Edward's baffled schoolmates and on Bella's nervous parents.  Then Bella and Edward take us along on the honeymoon that is every bit as exotic and luxurious as Stephenie Meyer paints it.  The sizzling sexual tension and chemistry between Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson is undeniable.  The two are finally believable as the star-crossed lovers who pledge to be together for eternity.  What you'll probably be surprised by is the unexpected humor that pops up from time to time in this epic film.  And we get some of it endearingly during Bella and Edward's Brazilian honeymoon heaven.  But it's when Bella's pregnancy kicks in (literally) that the film really takes off.  That's because Jacob a.k.a. Taylor Lautner comes back into the picture along with all his tortured love triangle tension.  He's supposed to be a tongue-tied semi-lost soul who loves Bella like a soul mate, and doesn't know how to express himself most of the time, except  for physically.  Not too unlike many 16-year-old boys.  And believe it or not he only takes his shirt off once--sorry ladies!  But once Bella and Edward are back from their honeymoon and she is clinging to life while trying to gestate her baby, the tension is intense.  Tension between Bella and Edward, Bella and Jacob, and Jacob and the entire wolf pack.  Kristen Stewart, to her credit, is completely believable as a weak Bella desperately holding on to life for the love of her baby.  As promised - the birth scene is wild, shocking, and yes, quite bloody.  My only real criticism is the werewolves.  Watching the film we don't get as deep as an understanding of the communication, hierarchy, and pack lives of the wolves as I would have liked.  Neither do we understand enough why Bella’s pregnancy becomes such a HUGE issue for the pack.  Every fan who has read the books will know what is going on and I understand the need for shorthand on the wolves–something had to go.  But the wolves created for the screen are so magnificent and mysterious–I wanted to see them more and have their behavior and history explained.  And there's no way that any Twi-hard isn't going to be left desperately wanting to see Breaking Dawn Part 2.  But let me tell you – stick around for the credits.  There’s a surprise last scene.