REVIEW: SMURFS: THE LOST VILLAGE

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CAST

Demi Lovato (Camp Rock)
Mandy Patinkin (Dead Like Me)
Joe Manganiello (Magic Mike)
Rainn Wilson (Super)
Jack McBrayer (Wreck-It-Ralph)
Danny Purdi (Powerless)
Dee Bradley Baker (American Dad)
Frank Welker (Transformers)
Michelle Rodriguez (The Fast and The Furious)
Ellie Kemper (21 Jump Street)
Julia Roberts (Closer)
Ariel Winter (Modern Family)
Jake Johnson (New Girl)
Josh Keaton (Green Lantern: TAS)
Yuri Lowenthal (Legion of Super Heroes)
Scott Menville (Teen Titans)
Tara Strong (Batman: The Killing Joke)
Kari Wahlgren (Rick and Morty)

In Smurf Village, the Smurfs live peacefully among themselves. Their leader is the wise, eldery, and a bit overprotective, Papa Smurf. Some of the Smurfs include the klutsy and slow-witted Clumsy Smurf, the intelligent and eccentric Brainy Smurf, the strong and gutsy Hefty Smurf and the beautiful Smurfette, who feels out of place in Smurf Village as the only girl. Smurfette was created by the villainous wizard Gargamel from a lump of clay, but was redeemed by Papa Smurf and became part of the village. Gargamel makes it his mission to capture the Smurfs, steal all of their essence, and become the most powerful wizard in the world.After Smurfette accidentally breaks an invention by Brainy, made up by a fun day snowboarding with Clumsy, Brainy and Hefty, Smurfette sees a blue creature hidden by a leaf and follows it straight into the forbidden forest, which Papa Smurf forbids the Smurfs from entering, believing the creature to be a Smurf. She loses sight of the creature but she discovers a hat that was dropped by the possible Smurf. Smurfette ends up being captured by Gargamel and at his castle, she ends up inadvertently revealing the hat, enabling Gargamel to mix up a brew that causes him to locate the village on a map. Soon enough Clumsy, Brainy, and Hefty, who followed Smurfette, help her escape and return to Smurf Village, where they are reprimanded by Papa Smurf for disobeying his orders and confines them to their houses while dismissing their claims of a lost village filled with Smurfs.However, Smurfette, still wanting to find her place, sneaks out into the night, with Brainy, Clumsy, and Hefty volunteering to come with her. Gargamel soon discovers them trying to find the lost village and heads out with his cat Azrael and giant bird Monty to stop them. The four best friends follow the map and end up in various predicaments and misadventures, like being attacked by monster flowers and getting caught in a stampede of luminescent rabbits, one of whom they befriended and named Bucky, who helps them on their quest. After setting sail on their handmade raft along the river, they encounter Gargamel, Azrael, and Monty. Following a brief chase, Gargamel was thrown out of his own raft. Hefty and Smurfette convince the others to help save him. They do so but instead of thanking them, he pushed them out of their raft, leaving them to plunge down a waterfall.Meanwhile, back at Smurf Village, Papa Smurf tries to reconcile with Smurfette over his actions on the previous night, but soon discovers that she, Brainy, Hefty, and Clumsy are gone, so he sets out to find them and set things right. Back with the Smurf group, after surviving the waterfall and washed ashore, they are soon captured by the leaf-covered creature from earlier along with a few others and they soon reveal themselves to be female Smurfs. They are taken to their village, which is called Smurfy Grove, in the trees and get to know all the girl Smurfs, including the leader Smurf Willow, the tomboyish Smurf Storm, the hyperactive Smurf Blossom, the gentle Smurf Lily and the music-loving Smurf Melody. They all welcome the Smurfs, especially Smurfette, to their humble home. After a while of showing them what they do, Smurf Storm and Clumsy come back with her telling that Smurfette was created by Gargamel. Before they can attack her for being considered a traitor, Papa Smurf appears, and the female smurfs accept him into their home. Then, Gargamel comes and destroys Smurfy Grove, capturing all the Smurfs, all except Smurfette, who is now alone, feeling guilty for her actions. However, Brainy’s pet Snappy bug shows her a picture of her and the others, and she soon realizes that she is not a real Smurf, and heads back to Gargamel’s lair with Snappy and Bucky to save the Smurfs.At Gargamel’s lair, where all the Smurfs are, Brainy makes a plan to escape. Papa Smurf hears their plan and he and Smurf Willow decide to help them. Hefty, Brainy, Clumsy, and some of the female Smurfs succeed at the plan until Gargamel and Azrael spot them and put some of the female Smurfs and Clumsy into his Smurfilator, extracting their essence. Smurfette appears, tricking Gargamel that she wants to be an evil smurf again. When Gargamel tries to turn Smurfette into an evil smurf, he realizes that Smurfette is absorbing his magic powers instead, a skill she found earlier after destroying Brainy’s invention. The lair explodes, sending Gargamel, Azrael, and Monty into a lake full of piranhas. Unfortunately, Smurfette has reverted to her original lifeless clay form. Back at Smurf Village, all the Smurfs mourn the loss of Smurfette. Using their energy, Smurfette comes back to life and becomes a Smurf again and everybody celebrates. After which, Smurf Village and Smurfy Grove become united with each other and Smurfette finds her purpose, being anything she wants to be and most of all, a true-blue Smurf.Smurfs: The Lost Village is a story that fits nicely between the classic Peyo comics and the Hanna-Barbera Saturday morning cartoon. The animation is beautifully done. There is no way you can take every little detail in with just one viewing. The plot is fairly straightforward with adventure at the forefront. This film avoids the misplaced pop culture references and overused Smurf puns that many disliked about the previous movies. “Smurfs: The Lost Village” aims for a younger audience, but adults shouldn’t have a problem remembering why they liked these characters themselves.

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REVIEW: MY SUPER EX-GIRLFRIEND

CAST

Uma Thurman (Kill Bill)
Luke Wilson (Old School)
Anna Faris (Mom)
Rain Wilson (Super)
Eddie Izzard (Hannibal)
Stelio Savante (Ugly Betty)
Wanda Sykes (Clerks II)
Juliana Harkavy (Arrow)

After foiling a purse snatcher who tries to steal Jenny Johnson’s (Uma Thurman) purse on the subway, Matthew Saunders (Luke Wilson) becomes Jenny’s “hero” and starts dating this shy stranger. After several dates, Jenny displays increasingly neurotic and aggressive behavior, becoming more demanding and ultimately injuring Matt and destroying his bed the first time they have sex. Soon after, Jenny reveals to him that she is in fact the voluptuous blonde superheroine, G-Girl, who accidentally received powers such as flight, superhuman strength, speed, and senses, invulnerability, super breath, and heat vision after she was exposed to radiation from a crashed meteorite as a teenager. Jenny starts to become more controlling after she reveals her powers and Matt starts to lose his mind.annah Lewis (Anna Faris), Matt’s co-worker, has a crush on him despite the fact that she is going out with a handsome but shallow underwear model. As Matt and Hannah’s friendship develops further, and after becoming aggravated with Jenny’s escalating jealousy, Matt ends the relationship. An enraged Jenny vows to make Matt regret the decision, using her superpowers to publicly embarrass him, throwing his car into space and eventually causing him to lose his job as an architect when she strips him naked during an important meeting. Professor Bedlam (Eddie Izzard), Jenny’s former friend, and now G-Girl’s nemesis, contacts Matt in order to enlist his aid in defeating her. Matt refuses and makes plans to leave the city. As he does so he is contacted by Hannah who has broken up with her cheating boyfriend, and after confessing their feelings to one another, they end up in bedJenny (as G-Girl) discovers them in bed the next day. Enraged and jealous, she attacks the pair with a great white shark. Angered, Matt contacts Professor Bedlam and agrees to help him defeat her, as long as Bedlam retires from being a supervillain. He instructs Matt to lure Jenny to a meeting where she can be exposed to another meteorite that will draw away her powers, leaving her a mere mortal. Matt agrees and meets Jenny for a candlelit dinner at his apartment, under the pretense of wanting to resume their relationship. Hannah arrives to see Jenny sitting on Matt’s lap. The two women fight, and in the struggle Jenny’s superhero identity is revealed to Hannah. Bedlam’s trap is sprung, and the energy that gave Jenny her powers is drained back into the meteorite, incapacitating JennyProfessor Bedlam appears, but reveals that he has no intention of keeping his promise to retire from villainy and in fact plans to take the powers for himself. While he and Matt fight, Jenny crawls to the charged meteorite attempting to regain her powers. Hannah intervenes just as Jenny grabs the meteorite, which explodes in a burst of power. Both Hannah and Jenny are catapulted off the roof, apparently to their deaths; Jenny appears within seconds, powers restored, threatening even more mayhem. Only the unexpected reappearance of Hannah, who was also exposed to the meteorite’s energies, and now possesses the same powers as G-Girl, saves Matt. The second fight between Hannah and Jenny is a full-on super-brawl, destroying part of the neighboring properties. Finally, Matt reasons with them both and they cease fighting. He tells Jenny that Professor Bedlam is her true love. Jenny agrees and she embraces her former nemesis.
The next morning, Matt and Hannah meet up with Professor Bedlam (now just “Barry”) and Jenny. As cries for help are heard from afar, Jenny and Hannah, who have become partners in crime-fighting, take off to tackle the emergency. Matt and Barry are left holding their girlfriends’ purses and clothes, and leave to have a beer together.It’s a delightful premise, hell hath no fury like a super-heroine scorned, and those involved don’t altogether carry it off, but it has its moments.

 

 

REVIEW: GALAXY QUEST

CAST

Tim Allen (The Santa Clause)
Sigourney Weaver (Alien)
Alan Rickman (Alice Through The Looking Glass)
Tony Shalhoub (The Siege)
Sam Rockwell (Iron Man 2)
Daryl Mitchell (House Party)
Enrico Colantoni (Veronica Mars)
Robin Sachs (Buffy)
Jed Rees (News Movie)
Justin Long (New Girl)
Missi Pyle (Two and a Half Men)
Rainn Wilson (Super)
Dian Bachar (Orgazmo)
Gregg Binkley (My Name Is Earl)
Kevin McDonald (That 70s Show)

The former cast of the once-popular television space-adventure series Galaxy Quest spend most of their days attending fan conventions and promotional stunts. Though Jason Nesmith (Allen), who played the commander of the NSEA Protector, thrives with the attention, the other cast members—Alexander Dane (Rickman) as the ship’s alien science officer, Fred Kwan (Shalhoub) as the chief engineer, Gwen DeMarco (Weaver) as the computer officer, and Tommy Webber (Mitchell) as a precocious child pilot—all resent these events.

During one event, Nesmith is approached by Mathesar (Colantoni) and others calling themselves “Thermians” and request his assistance, which he agrees to, thinking this is a planned and paying fan event. Later at that same convention, Nesmith becomes despondent after overhearing attendees speaking of him as a laughing stock by fans and his fellow actors, and he loses his temper with an avid fan, Brandon (Long). After Nesmith spends the night drinking heavily, the Thermians arrive to pick up a hungover Nesmith in the limo he had requested. Unaware that they are truly octopoidal aliens, using technology to appear human, the barely conscious Nesmith is oblivious to his limo being beamed aboard the Thermian’s spaceship. Aboard their ship in deep space, Nesmith goes through the motions of commanding the ship and asks to be returned home. When they send him back to Earth via a transporter, Nesmith realizes that it is all real. He races to meet his cast, accidentally bumping into Brandon and misplacing a Thermian communicator Mathasar gave him with Brandon’s fan-made replica. Nesmith eagerly relates his experience to the crew, who think he is drunk again. When another Thermian appears and request the entire crew’s help, Nesmith manages to convince them, along with their handler Guy Fleegman (Rockwell), an actor who played a unnamed security officer on one episode before being killed off, to come along. They are all transported to a perfect reproduction of the NSEA Protector in deep space, and are shocked by the reality of the situation.

Mathesar begs the crew to command the Protector, as Nesmith’s previous actions (namely, blowing up the opposing ship) have enraged Sarris (Sachs), a reptilian humanoid that seeks to wipe out the Thermians. While they were able to recreate the ship from the broadcast episodes, the Thermians have no idea how to pilot it. The crew hesitantly take the controls, and despite their ineptitude, the Thermians cheer them on. After the second encounter with Sarris’ ship, they barely evade his attack by flying through a minefield, severely damaging the ship. The humans take a shuttle to a nearby planet to find a replacement beryllium sphere as a new power source. They manage to secure the sphere after a run-in with the hostile alien species on the planet. Once back aboard the Protector, they find that Sarris and his soldiers have captured the ship.

Sarris interrogates the humans, discovering they are only actors, and recognizes that the Thermians have no concept of fiction, believing the show to have been real. Sarris sets the Protector to self-destruct and departs, leaving a few sacrificial soldiers to guard the humans. Nesmith and Dane use a gambit from the show to engineer their escape, and then Nesmith orders his fellow cast members to help rescue the other Thermians, finish repairs to the Protector, and prepare to engage Sarris in combat. Nesmith and DeMarco then set off into the bowels of the ship to stop the self-destruct sequence, using help from Brandon and his group of friends via the swapped communication device. Along the way, they encounter Omega 13, a plot device introduced in the final episode but never used; Brandon notes it could either destroy all matter in the universe or rewind time by 13 seconds, “enough time to undo one mistake”.

Having finally accepted their roles on the ship and gained confidence in themselves, Nesmith and his crew use the minefield as a weapon against Sarris’ ship, destroying it. They prepare to head to Earth when Sarris, who has transported over at the last moment, starts killing the crew. A desperate Nesmith activates the Omega 13, which reverses time far enough for him to knock out Sarris. They near a wormhole to return the humans home via the command module, and Nesmith assures Mathesar he has the ability to command the Protector along with the other Thermians. The humans, along with Laliari (Pyle), a Thermian that has fallen in love with Kwan, return home. The command module crashes into Earth near a fan convention and comes to a stop after crashing through one wall, which the audience takes as part of the show. As the crew exits the module, Sarris wakes up and tries to fire on them, but Nesmith reacts faster, and disintegrates Sarris with a phaser-like weapon. The crowd erupts into cheers. Some time later, Galaxy Quest is revived as a new series, starring the same cast along with Fleegman and Laliari.Great film, so very well written. A homage/parody to Star Trek, it’s also very well acted by those within it. And very, very funny.

REVIEW: ALMOST FAMOUS

CAST

Patrick Fugit (Saved)
Billy Crudup (Watchmen)
Frances McDormand (Burn After Reading)
Kate Hudson (Gossip)
Jason Lee (My Name Is Earl)
Zooey Deschanel (New Girl)
Anna Paquin (X-Men)
Fairuza Balk (Return To Oz)
Bijou Phillips (Hostel: Part II)
Noah Taylor (Powers)
Philip Seymour Hoffman (The Master)
Terry Chen (Bates Motel)
Jay Baruchel (Million Dollar Baby)
Jimmy Fallon (Taxi)
Rainn Wilson (House of 1,000 Corpses)
Eric Stonestreet (Bad Teahcer)
Pauley Perrette (NCIS)
Zack Ward (Transformers)
Kevin Sussman (The Big Bang Theory)

In 1973, William Miller is a 15-year-old boy aspiring to be a rock journalist. His mother, Elaine, wants him to become a lawyer. Shunned by his classmates, he writes for underground papers in San Diego, sharing the love of rock music instilled in him through a gift of albums left behind on the day his sister Anita left home.
William listens to an interview with rock journalist Lester Bangs. William has sent Bangs copies of his work, and Bangs gives William a $35 assignment to write up a review of a Black Sabbath concert. At first reluctant to assist a journalist, the band Stillwater brings William backstage after he praises their work. The guitarist, Russell Hammond, takes a liking to William, partly because of William’s friendship with a groupie he has romantic feelings for, Penny.
William goes with Penny to the Riot House – the Hyatt Hotel on Sunset Boulevard – to meet Stillwater. Penny, feigning retirement from her rock glory days, acts as William’s chauffeur, but only to get close to Russell, for whom she has genuine feelings and a past relationship. William is called by Ben Fong-Torres, editor of Rolling Stone, who wants him to do a story, believing William is several years older than he really is. When William convinces Ben to let him do a story on Stillwater, he is instructed to go on the road with them.
On the first leg of the trip, William makes his first in an increasingly frustrating number of attempts to interview Russell. Penny watches the interaction and sympathizes with William. William experiences tensions with the band due to his role as a journalist. new manager, Dennis, comes on board to help steer the band, and it is revealed that Penny must leave the tour before New York, where Leslie, Russell’s ex-wife/girlfriend, will join them. During a poker game he allows Dick to put up the groupies as a stake. The band loses the groupies to the band Humble Pie for $50 and a case of Heineken. When William tells Penny, she acts nonchalant but is devastated. Penny and Doris, the band’s tour bus, are left behind; Dennis has piled the band into a plane for more gigs.
Penny goes to New York on her own, and as the band gathers in a restaurant with Russell’s girlfriend, Penny shows up. As they celebrate making the cover of Rolling Stone, Penny makes Leslie uncomfortable and Dick asks her to leave. William chases Penny back to her hotel and finds her overdosed on Quaaludes. Believing they will die during a plane ride, the group confesses their secrets. When Penny is insulted by Jeff, the band’s lead singer, William defends her and discloses his love. The plane lands safely, leaving everyone to ponder the changed atmosphere. William continues to San Francisco to finish the story, parting ways with the band in the airport. Upset about Penny, he rewrites the article, telling the truth. The Rolling Stone editors cannot wait to publish it, but have to ask the band to verify it. Fearful of how the article will affect their image, the band makes William look like a liar. William is crushed and the story is dead. Sitting dejected in the airport, he sees his sister, who has become a stewardess and lives on her own terms. She tells him they should go on a trip together and, exhausted, William chooses to go home to San Diego.
Backstage at the Miami Orange Bowl on the Stillwater tour, Sapphire talks to Russell about Penny’s near-suicide and how despite the warnings she received about letting people fall in love with her, one of them saved her life. Russell is curious about the person in question, but Sapphire chastises him, saying that everyone knows what the band did to William and how awful they think it is. Russell calls Penny and asks for her address, telling her he wants to meet. Unbeknownst to Russell, she gives him William’s address in an attempt to resolve their conflict. Russell goes to the house, thinking it is Penny’s, but finds Elaine instead. Learning who he is, she lets him in to see William as Russell realizes where he is. They reconcile and Russell reveals that he called Rolling Stone and told them William’s story is true. Russell gives William a proper interview, Penny purchases a ticket to Morocco, and William’s story is published, with Stillwater on the cover of Rolling Stone.
The movie is a wonderful coming of age story with a fantastic soundtrack

REVIEW: HOUSE OF 1,000 CORPSES

CAST

Sid Haig (Jackie Brown)
Karen Black (Soulkeeper)
Rainn Wilson (Super)
Bill Moseley (Arm of Darkness)
Erin Daniels (One Hour Photo)
Dennis Frimple (King Kong 1976)
Wolton Goggins (The Hateful Eight)
Irwin Keyes (The Flinstones)
Sheri Moon Zombie (Halloween)
Michael J. Pollard (Superboy)
Rob Zombie (Slither)

Rocker Rob Zombie burst onto the horror film scene with his 2003 movie House of 1000 Corpses.  It took years to get released (and necessitated a change of studios) and the movie was generally slammed by the critics but horror fans understood what Zombie was trying to do; create an homage to the classic 70’s horror films he grew up with.  With a good dose of humor and just as much gore, Zombie succeeded brilliantly.  Now this film has made its way to Blu-ray with a very good transfer, high definition sound and even a bonus JAVA game not found on the SD release. Just before Halloween, four budding authors are researching a book on road side attractions when they stumble upon Captain Spaulding’s Museum of Monsters and Madmen which also doubles as a gas station and sells “tasty” fried chicken too.  They meet Captain Spaulding himself, a foul mouthed grungy man in clown makeup (wonderfully played by Sid Haig) and he tells them about the local serial killer, Dr. Satan, the two couples head off in the rain to see the tree where he was hanged.
Nearing their destination they spot a hitchhiker, Baby Firefly (played by they hypnotic and ultra-sexy Sheri Moon) and offer her a lift.  When the car blows a tire, Baby takes everyone to her house, a bizarre and unusual affair with decapitated dolls nailed to the walls.  There they meet the Firefly family including the disfigured giant Tiny (Matthew McGrory), crazy Grandpa Hugo (Dennis Fimple), and Mother (Karen Black) who tries to seduce one of the young men.  The leader of this group is Otis (Bill Moseley), an insane psychopath who spends most of his time torturing five cheerleaders that he kidnapped.  After an odd dinner an even more bizarre floorshow starts.  After Grandpa tells some off color jokes, Baby comes out dressed in a slinky outfit and sings a sex song to the men.  When their girlfriends object, a fight breaks out and the four youths are asked to leave in their newly fixed car.  Spooked, they jump into the car and try to leave, but they don’t get very far before the car is stopped and everyone is beaten and captured.  What maniacal plans do Otis and the Firefly’s have for their new victims?
2677_10_screenshotThough there were problems with this film, it is still a very good horror flick.  Rob Zombie takes an everything including the kitchen sink approach to the movie and throws in all the horror conventions: serial killers, demonic clowns, sex-starved older women, disfigured freaks, mad doctors, and a crazy family, just to name a few.  Because of this the movie starts off at a fast pace (with a pair of would-be criminals deciding to rob Captain Spaulding….big mistake!) and never really slows down. This was Zombie’s first directorial effort and he proves that he has a lot of talent.  He used old film clips, split screens, and mirror images to very good effect.  These never came across as artsy or film-school pretentious but worked to advance the story in a visually interesting way.  There were some scenes that really stand out too.  One of my favorites was when Otis confronted a sheriff’s deputy (played by Walton Goggins.)  The deputy is kneeling with his hands up and Otis has the barrel of a pistol touching his forehead.  The camera pulls back and stops, and still Otis doesn’t do anything.  Will he let the man live and tie him up?  Will he kill him?  As the scene goes on with neither character moving the tension builds and builds.
lindsay-lohan-charlie-sheen-scary-movie-5That’s not to say that this is a perfect film.  The four victims aren’t developed at all and it’s hard to feel sorry for them.  The two girls especially, they spend most of the beginning of the movie whining and complaining.  There’s really not much of a plot either, and at the end of the movie there are more questions than answers.  The driving force of the film is really to see what atrocities will occur next, not whether any of the kids will survive.  The reason the film works so well even with the flawed script is because of the strong cast.  Though the four victims are very bland and fade into the background, the other actors create unique and memorable characters are a huge asset to the film.  Sid Haig is the run away star as Capt. Spaulding.  His vile clown is both funny and displeasing at the same time and every scene he’s in is a joy to watch.  He’s at the top of his form when he confronts the robber who’s holding a gun on him.  It’s a classic scene.

REVIEW: JUNO

CAST

Ellen Page (Super)
Michael Cera (Scott Pilgrim vs The World)
Jennifer Garner (Alias)
Jason Bateman (The Ex)
Allison Janney (Spy)
J.K. Simmons (Whiplash)
Olivia Thirlby (Dredd)
Eileen Pedde (Dar kAngel)
Rainn Wilson (The Office)
Emily Perkins (Ginger Snaps)
Candice King (The Vampire Diaries)
Eve Harlow (Heroes Reborn)
Emily Tennant (I, Robot)

Juno takes a thoughtful spin on an old cliché storyline revolving around unplanned parenthood. After spending a curious night together with her friend Paul Bleeker (Michael Cera, Superbad) in a big comfy chair a few months prior, Juno (Ellen Page, Hard Candy) discovers that she’s in for seven more months of paying for that mistake. Instead of slyly sneaking off to a clinic to change her pregnancy status, she has a change of heart and chooses to go through with the pregnancy. Instead of keeping the kid, however, Juno finds a picturesque, pseudo-surrogate family (Jason Bateman, Arrested Development, and Jennifer Garner, Alias) to adopt her and Bleeker’s child.

Reitman’s film, as sharply characteristic and biting as Thank You for Smoking, takes on the feel of a colorful mosaic as we follow through Juno’s remaining seven months of pregnancy. All the way through, she has plenty of support from her understated and supportive parents (J.K. Simmons, Spider-Man, and Allison Janney, 10 Things I Hate About You) and her loopy cheerleader friend Leah (Olivia Thirlby). Juno leads us through all the mundane occurrences, from ultrasounds to clothing modification, as well as through the more tongue-tied moments with her baby’s family-to-be. There’s a moment when Juno and her father meet with the adopting parents, and their lawyer, that’s priceless. It easily draws out and distinguishes the differences between the characters, both between the two families as well as the individual differences, and similarities, among all parties at the table.


Juno’s a great character narrative with exceedingly well-crafted personalities across the board, but the film’s impact hinges on the gallant performance from Ellen Page. It’s interesting to compare her talents here to her outstanding performance in Hard Candy, a ridiculously tense thriller about a renegade Little Red Riding Hood-esque figure with a penchant for revenge on a child molester. She’s an overwhelmingly talented satirist, especially at her age. Page’s Juno shares some interesting similarities to her Hard Candy character Haley Stark, points that echo through her quality as an actress. She can appear intelligent beyond her character’s years, while also latching firmly onto the age of the character with her mannerisms. Page doesn’t just sell maturity, she sells youthful maturity – meaning she can be both believably naïve and intelligent in the same breath.Ellen Page folds together with Diablo Cody’s wonderfully sharp script, the real star of the show, and crafts one of the most entertaining and touching films of the year. Cody’s pen handles different age groups in different ways, obviously, but she makes certain to keep a very even balance between quirk and sincerity. And, though it teeters along here and there, Juno’s still grin worthy even when it does lean a little over that line of absurdity. Most importantly, Juno’s barrage of one-liners and sarcastic swordfights between its characters can be downright hilarious in context.

It’s not just the scornful preggo hippie chick that gets to have all the fun, either; all of the fleshed characters have scathing humor written into their parts. As a matter of fact, some of the smaller character scenes, from Rainn Wilson’s little ignition of a one-liner to get the film started to Allison Janney’s lengthy reprimand on an ultrasound technician, provide some of the more memorable moments of the film. Where Juno really delivers a shot of believable impact, however, is within the maturing relationships between Juno and the adoptive parents – not as a cohesive unit, but as the individuals themselves. Juno, as a character, molds to each person that she interacts with in the film. As she states earlier in the film, she doesn’t really “know what kind of a girl” she is. Her character clearly grows throughout the film, which can be seen even through her steadfast and bull-headed charisma.


Juno’s a comically melancholy film, yet an attractive one to watch and listen to, as well. Jason Reitman’s directorial eyes and ears were obviously finely tuned during this production. His director of photography, Eric Steelberg, plays a major part in how great this film looks. He uses exaggerated color schemes, such as stark oranges and cold blues, to illustrate seasonal shifts that help pull us through the timeshifts in the narrative. There are a lot of quality details that he captures through his lens that gives Juno’s warm photography a lot of personality. When accompanied with the undertone lyrics from the assortment of indie music laced with Juno’s aesthetics, it keeps the film’s background as rhythmic and upbeat as the darting dialogue.

 

REVIEW: SUPER

CAST

Rainn Wilson (The Office)
Ellen Page (Juno)
Liv Tyler (jersey Girl)
Kevin Bacon (A Few Good Men)
Gregg Henry (PaybacK)
Michael Rooker (Guardians of The galaxy)
Linda Cardellini (Scooby-Doo)
Nathan Fillion (Slither)

 Frank (Rainn Wilson), a not-that-bright, not-that-handsome guy who can count the good things that have happened to him on one hand and who works as a cook at the greasiest spoon you’ve ever seen, has lost his recovering-addict wife (Liv Tyler, The Lord of the Rings)–one of those precious few good things–to a sleazy, drug-dealing club owner (Kevin Bacon). This unbearable injustice is the last straw for Frank, who has, to be sure, experienced no shortage of injustice in his time. After some surreal, hallucinatory soul-searching, and egged on by young, hyper Libby (Ellen Page)–a comics-shop clerk who nags her way into the role of his official sidekick–he becomes “The Crimson Bolt,” a fed-up DIY superhero who is going to not only save Frank’s wife and get them back together, but also make the world safe at long last for all the nice, mild-mannered people who have had enough of playing doormat for the world’s pushers (of all kinds) and shovers.Frank is at the end of his rope; overstimulated Libby is terminally bored. They are in way over their heads, but they are too inspired to care, and The Crimson Bolt, accompanied by sidekick “Boltie,” can be heard to utter his catchphrase, “Shut up, crime!” as they use their trademark pipe wrench (for The Bolt) and Wolverine claws (Boltie) to whip violators into shape; whether you are a child molester or a smug, self-centered jerk who cuts in line at the movies, you had better watch out, because their adrenaline is pumping, and you are likely to end up in the emergency room with severe lacerations or a crushed skull. Gunn shies away from neither the ghastly injuries nor the pleas and cries of pain emanating from those on the receiving end of justice, Crimson Bolt-style. By now, we have been intentionally “shocked” often enough by movie violence, whether it be the flippant, choreographed Reservoir Dogs kind or in the devastating (and, I think, much more conscientious) Funny Games mode. In the case of Super, though, the Taxi Driver comparisons Gunn has garnered for his film are apt; regardless of how many movies and TV programs may encourage cheering it on, “justified” violence is as ugly and difficult to stomach as any other kind, and it may even be more painful to watch a character whom you can relate to and whom you know to be acting out of conscience doing such unconscionable things. But Gunn’s film is quite different from Scorsese’s masterpiece in its willingness to wear its heart directly on its sleeve.Both Frank and Libby are damaged people whose emotions have been run roughshod over by life, they are rife with insecurities and uncertainties, and they want the reassurance of a fantasy world in which one’s moral certitude translates into real action and results. It is very, very easy for us to understand and sympathize with them…but then we cringe at the cruelty they rather randomly inflict as retribution for life’s crumminess (not to mention at the uneasy romantic tension that develops between the very married Frank and Libby, with her underfed emotional and sexual appetites). Gunn does not skimp on fully exploring either the righteousness of Frank and Libby’s rage or the unacceptable brutality that results from it; Libby’s comics-bred (over)enthusiasm might be able to override her less-than-fully-developed conscience, but Frank’s is too powerful not to impede his enjoyment of what they are up to, and he also seems burdened by the felt responsibility of being the older one, Libby’s role model and moral compass.

A great deal of the credit for the film’s ability to move us belongs to its actors. When it comes to embodying Frank in all his poor, pathetic put-upon-ness. It would have been a tragic misfire to play such a character as a dismissable laughing stock, and Wilson fortunately avoids that entirely, making Frank a character whose feelings are very real and every bit as valid as any of ours would be. Page does the same for the misguided but charming Libby, with her fumbling but authentic sexuality and her game-for-anything attitude that is hard not to like even as it tips her right over the deep end. It grows into a real pleasure as the film goes on, seeing the actors match, scene for scene, the physical boldness necessary for all their maladroit running, jumping, and ass-kicking with the emotional courage required to sympathetically depict their characters’ social and romantic clumsiness. Tyler and Bacon shine in their smaller parts, too.

Gunn has not only pulled off his risky idea with aplomb, but at the visual level alone, he and cinematographer Steve Gainer have used the red digital video camera with a great feel for the visuals it can provide and the way the images it can produce–distinct from film, but offering a full palette from which to work cinematically–are able to serve the film’s story and tone. They expertly create a world for Super that is not movie-“ordinary” but really ordinary, in the litter-on-the-streets, used-car, rundown-buildings kind of way; the walls of Frank’s workplace, Libby’s apartment, and the comic book shop appear to actually be sweating. (Gunn uses a lot of handheld camera to add to the inelegance of “real life,” and for once it is an actually suitable as opposed to merely cool choice, really contributing something important to the film’s feel.) That realism clashes with some of the more graphically poppy, self-conscious elements in the film such as comic-book titles appearing up now and then in the most unlikely circumstances and, of course, Frank’s and Libby’s brightly colored costumes standing out starkly against the drab environment), and the jarring shifts works quite well to complement, on the visual level.