Tag Archives: Russell Brand

[Review] – Katy Perry: Part Of Me

5 Aug

Title: Katy Perry: Part of Me
Year: 2012
Directors: Dan Cutforth and Jane Lipsitz
Writer: –
Starring: Katy Perry
MPAA Rating: PG, some suggestive content, language, thematic elements and brief smoking
Runtime: 93 min
IMDb Rating: 4.2
Rotten Tomatoes: 76%
Metacritic: 57

Katy Perry is a huge pop star. She’s 27 and has two multi-platinum selling records to her name (her debut was actually released in 2001, seven years before One of the Boys, under her real name, Katy Hudson, and was a gospel record that sold about 100 copies). The thing is, it seems that Katy Perry is just always there. Her Teenage Dream album was released two years ago, and yet it seems like we’re listening to new singles from it every other month. That’s because Katy Perry is an artist that knows how to make catchy singles.

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[Review] – Rock Of Ages

25 Jun

Title: Rock Of Ages
Year: 2012
Director: Adam Shankman
Writers: Justin Theroux, Chris D’Arienzo and Allan Loeb, based on the musical book by Mr. D’Arienzo
Starring: Diego Boneta, Julianne Hough, Tom Cruise, Russell Brand, Paul Giamatti, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Mary J. Blige, Malin Akerman, Alec Baldwin, Bryan Cranston, Will Forte
MPAA Rating: PG-13, sexual content, suggestive dancing, some heavy drinking, and language
Runtime: 123 min
IMDb Rating: 6.1
Rotten Tomatoes: 41%
Metacritic: 47

I never really expected to like Rock of Ages because from every promotional stuff I had seen it just didn’t look like it would be any good. And yet by the time it was done, even if it wasn’t really a good movie, I realized that it had actually managed to win me over at a couple of points during its running time. There were a few instances in which it had me going because of how totally silly and over-the-top it all was, but then a few minutes passed and I realized how totally unnecessary and inconsequential this stage-to-screen adaptation was. Maybe if this film hadn’t been so long, clocking in at over two hours, I wouldn’t have noticed that as much and had a better time with all of these actors, some of them top notch, singing along to the cheesiest 80’s songbook around.

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[Trailer] – Katy Perry: Part Of Me

4 Apr

 

Katy Perry is a bonafide worldwide popstar by now, we all know this. She was the first artist since Michael Jackson to have five singles from the same album to top the Billboard 200 chart. She’s the only artist ever to spend 52 consecutive weeks (a whole year!) in the top ten of the Billboard Hot 100 (that record stands at 69 weeks by now, courtesy of Ms. Perry). So of course it was only a matter of time before she got her own concert-documentary.

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[Trailer] – Rock Of Ages

4 Apr

 

There’s a new trailer for Rock Of Ages out now, and in it you can see how Tom Cruise fares as Stacee Jaxx, the big-time rock star, in Adam Shankman‘s upcoming adaptation of the Broadway musical that works its way through most of the big 80’s songs.

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Kung Fu Panda 2

7 Jun

Title: Kung Fu Panda 2
Year: 
2011
Director: 
Jennifer Yuh
Writers: Jonathan Aibel and Glenn Berger, with additional story work by Robert Koo
Starring: 
Jack Black, Angelina Jolie, Dustin Hoffman, Gary Oldman, Jackie Chan, Seth Rogen, Lucy Liu, David Cross, James Hong, Michelle Yeoh, Danny McBride, Dennis Haysbert, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Victor Garber
MPAA Rating: 
PG, sequences of martial arts action and mild violence
Runtime: 
90 min
Major Awards: –

IMDb Rating: 
8.0
Rotten Tomatoes: 
82%

I’m a huge fan of the original Kung Fu Panda, I ranked it as my 30th favorite film of all 2008 and I think that was the film to make me realize that DreamWorks Animation wasn’t gonna fall into oblivion after they ran out of Shrek‘s (because I’m not a particularly huge believer in the Madagascar films), a fact that was later cemented by last year’s tremendously solid How to Train Your Dragon and Megamind. So you can trust me when I say my expectations for this sequel were set extremely high. And while I don’t think this one necessarily manages to match the heights achieved by the first one, I still think it was quite great, with tons of very funny moments, lots of great action and all of it told with high quality animation chops.

Seriously, if you liked the first Kung Fu Panda I don’t think there’s any way you won’t leave this one feeling disappointed, because it’s basically more of the same, but not in a way that feels recycled like it did in The Hangover Part II, but in a way that finds ways to reinvent the familiar formula using new jokes and a flashier way to tell them. I won’t stop commending the animation in this one, because I was left totally spellbound by it, I loved how elegant and slick everything looked and how the filmmakers in this one finally found a way in which to make the 3D technology hated by many an actual asset to their storytelling and not just another obstacle to make films look horribly dimmer. It’s still not the perfect usage of 3D and if you can watch it in 2D then by all means go do it because we’re still ages away from your average 3D film being good, but it’s better than you’d think, and I thought it was smartly used.

And the voice work, much like it was in the first film, is still top notch here, with the originals returning and the addition of a few worthy great actors to lend their voices to awesome new characters. Because that’s really part of the appeal to many animated films nowadays, the big name actors chosen to voice the characters. I mean, Pixar I guess can do without that because they’re Pixar and their brand name along will get people into the theaters, as well as it should, and even they sometimes have a few big name actors lending their voices, but the rest of the animation studios usually try to get huge stars to lend their pipes to get people to see an animated film. And hearing the results from that is many times a joy in an of itself, and it’s one of the reasons why last year’s Despicable Me (which I gave a solid A- to) worked so incredibly well, because it had hilarious voice work by Steve Carell, Jason Segel and Russell Brand.

Kung Fu Panda also has its fair share of western starpower to voice its orient-based animals, including Jack Black, Angelina Jolie, Dustin Hoffman, Seth Rogen and a slew of other very good actors that return to this one and then there’s also Gary Oldman, who came on board for this sequel to voice a very memorable villain made all that much better thanks to the great and distinguishable voice of the screen veteran. And what’s awesome in the way this franchise has picked its stars is that they are all people that not only have instantly recognizable and infinitely cool voices and ones that appropriate to their characters, but also that they’re fine actors that can lend so much energy to the roles they are given just with their voices, an energy that is only heightened by that stellar animation job I have already talked a bit about.

The film really feels like a worthy continuation of the first, and not just some cheap way to keep the bucks coming in for the franchise, with the mystery of how Po, our titular main panda bear, could be the biological son of a peacock, a plotline dragged from the first film and brought to the forefront in this one. But of course the main trouble is Lord Shen, the villainous peacock I talked about, he has these steely feathers on his tail that he can thrust like deadly weapons to his foes, and it just so happens that a soothsayer told him to beware of pandas, so his destiny and Po’s, like Harry’s and Voldemort’s and so many of the great rivalries, are mystically intertwined.

And I gotta say again that this is all done with gorgeous animation, and you can tell DreamWorks Animation is done with playing second fiddle to Pixar and is trying its best to provide a little competition (though it obviously still has a long ways to go), but if you think Kung Fu Panda 2 will provide animation you’ve seen time and time again in movies that can make animals look cute, you’re dead wrong, they go head and shoulders above your usual stuff here and provide some moments of truly staggering beauty. And that’s what Kung Fu Panda 2 is all about, terrific animation, a lot of very funny moments, a masterclass in voice acting by Mr. Black, Mr. Hoffman and Mr. Oldman and a 101 in how to follow-up a hugely successful first entry in a franchise. And while I don’t think this one really was as great as the first one, I will still be first in line for Kung Fu Panda 3.

Grade: B+

Arthur

1 May

Title: Arthur
Year: 
2011
Director: 
Jason Winer
Writer: Peter Baynham, based on the previous screenplay and story written by Steve Gordon
Starring: 
Russell Brand, Helen Mirren, Jennifer Garner, Greta Gerwig, Nick Nolte, Luis Guzmán
MPAA Rating: 
PG-13, alcohol use throughout, sexual content, language and some drug references
Runtime: 
110 min
Major Awards: –

IMDb Rating: 
5.2
Rotten Tomatoes: 
27%

The original Arthur, that 1981 film starring Dudley Moore, is truly a comedy classic, full of honestly funny moments and some great performances by Mr. Moore, Liza Minnelli and John Gielgud. And now, three decades after the release of that one, we get a remake of it, and it’s one that feels quite unnecessary really, and that even though Russell Brand, who gets to see if he can carry a film all by himself here, is totally game for it all, we get a sense that even though the guy can be hilarious when playing supporting roles, or sharing the lead like in last year’s awesome Get Him to the Greek, that’s not so much the case when the guy is the main player, as his cheeky demeanor can sometimes get exhaustive.

I mean, it’s not as though the film is horrible, after all the people in the cast are all quite great, which is especially true when you consider this one has Greta Gerwig, who was probably my favorite new actress of last year after appearing in Greenberg, so she alone can bump this one up a grade for me. But this one just wasn’t needed by anyone, the original is truly great on its own right and didn’t need retelling even if it had been left alone for thirty years, and it’s not that I want to thrash on Mr. Brand here because I actually think the guy’s rather brilliant, but he’s just no Dudley Moore.

And that’s because in the original Arthur there was this sadness to the leading role of a drunk New York playboy that was being forced to marry or risk losing all his fortune. In this remake Mr. Brand doesn’t add that quality to the role, which I guess was maybe because he was trying to make the role his own, like the rest of the actors here also were (Helen Mirren’s role was formerly played by a man, for instance), but taking that away from the film took a whole lot from its overall quality.

And by the way, Ms. Mirren is probably the best part of this remake. She’s seen here tackling a role that was originated by a male, and that also won John Gielgud an Oscar for playing Hobson, who’s Arthur’s butler, and that the late Mr. Gielgud played with a terrific dry wit that worked wonders for the role. Ms. Mirren makes the role her own, not because she’s a woman and not a male, because the only thing that came from that was an unfortunate joke about breast feeding and the changing of Hobson’s title from butler to nanny, but because she’s very funny in the way she reacts to Arthur and in the little things she borrows from Mr. Gielgud’s interpretation, if Mr. Brand as Arthur would have been reciprocal in the quality of his performance then this one might have just turned out good.

But the dilemma for Arthur is that his mother wants him to marry this unlikable woman, played by Jennifer Garner, who would be seen as a fitting bride for a man of his wealth and who’s super uptight and hell-beant on climbing the social ladder as high as she possibly can. Of course there’s the other less seemly alternative which is Ms. Gerwig’s character, a tour guide from Queens who’s made to be the quirky character in the film who Arthur actually likes but who’s not seen by his family as the right bride for him to represent the family’s billion dollar empire. And the scenes between Mr. Brand and Ms. Gerwig are actually quite funny because these are two very cool people who are actually talented.

But I keep going back to thinking that the reason this Arthur just didn’t work for me was because Mr. Brand just embedded the role with too little of the sense of loneliness that came from being so wealthy that Dudley Moore gave it, instead Mr. Brand just plays this drunken guy who has loads of money and has a lot of fun spending it, and the emotional connection is pretty much null. And you know what, the dilemma of choosing between the woman his family wanted for him or the one he wants and might risk losing his fortune for is much more clear-cut here. I mean, in the original the character Ms. Garner plays here was actually a pretty smart and attractive woman who just had no chance because Arthur was too busy chasing after the other girl, who then was played by Liza Minnelli, while in here Ms. Garner plays this gold-digging woman who just wants the status that would come from the marriage and we dislike her from the get-go and find ourselves more obviously inclined to root for Ms. Gerwig’s character.

This new Arthur wasn’t bad but it wasn’t much of anything because we didn’t need it. Yes, the whole cast does the best they can, but they are working from a re-work of a film that needed no reworking, and most of the changes done to the original here don’t improve the quality at all, especially that of making Arthur more of just a fun drunk who quickly becomes obnoxious and tiresome to watch for a whole film instead of a guy that was both a charming free spirit and a drunk we felt sorry for at the same time. If you haven’t seen the original then maybe you’ll find yourself liking this Arthur, but if that’s somehow the case (because you really should have seen Arthur by now) then I would advice you to rent the original and watch it in the comfort of your home instead of buying an overpriced ticket to see the modernized retelling of a film that was best left alone.

Grade: C+

Hop

28 Apr

Title: Hop
Year:
2011
Director:
Tim Hill
Writers: Cinco Paul, Ken Daurio and Brian Lynch, based on a story by Cinco Paul and Ken Daurio
Starring:
James Marsden, Russell Brand, Kaley Cuoco, Hank Azaria, Gary Cole, Elizabeth Perkins, Hugh Laurie, Chelsea Handler
MPAA Rating:
PG, some mild rude humor
Runtime:
95 min
Major Awards:

IMDb Rating:
5.1
Rotten Tomatoes:
24%

I liked the little bunnies in Hop. How they were done, I mean. I thought the animation behind them was pretty cool and they looked quite nifty, which is logical once you learn they were designed by the same guy that did the characters in Finding Nemo and many other great films. But I didn’t like them in any other way, I mean, they were okay but they weren’t really all that charming because the script didn’t provide as many “aww” moments as it could have nor much of anything else really. And the human performers in this film fare just the same way, they all give it their all, just look at James Marsden out there being game for any number of silly situations, but in the end the material they have to work with it too uninspired for them to do all that much with it.

Now, I didn’t hate Hop, but it was kind of like director Tim Hill’s other effort at merging animated little furry animals with live-action humans, Alvin and the Chipmunks, the sort of film that you won’t hate because it’s harmless and it’s only trying to have a good time, but also the sort of film you really won’t recommend to people. By the way, Russell Brand is the guy voicing our main little Bunny, who’s called E.B. and who’s the heir to the title of Easter Bunny currently owned by his father, who’s voiced by Hugh Laurie, who’s ready to give the reigns of the empire to his son. The problem is that E.B. doesn’t really want all that responsibility, and would much rather just spend his time playing the drums.

And the premise is actually all right really, I mean, we get E.B. leaving bunny-land in hopes of becoming a great drummer in Hollywood, but he nearly becomes roadkill as a car comes close to crashing into him and so the unexpected friendship between him and the car’s owner, which would be Mr. Marsden’s character, then becomes the plot of the film. And even though, like I said, Mr. Marsden is totally game for anything this film requires of him to do, it all feels flat and bored for some reason. Same goes for Mr. Brand as the voice of E.B., you’d think someone with his personna would be great fun as the voice of a rebel little rocker Bunny, but here he only shines in a few moments, and much less than I initially thought he would.

So if you’ve been amongst those lamenting the lack of a film about and/or starring the Easter Bunny, here’s what you get, an uninspired CGI/Live-action mash-up that feels tacky at parts and just plain boring the rest of the time. The bunnies were really well done, like I said, and I do think that’s something to compliment because considering the quality of the rest of the film I wouldn’t have been shocked if the bunnies themselves looked horrible, but you can tell the people behind the animation of them really carefully went into making them, and they look really charming and sweet, even though they aren’t given all that many real charming or sweet scenes.

We get a lot of silly situations between E.B. and Fred, Mr. Marsden’s character, which comes from both of them being total slackers. E.B. not wanting to follow his father’s command to become the new Easter Bunny and Fred pressured by his parents to get a real job. Said situations include encounters with David Hasselhoff as a judge of a talent show (and we know the Hoff is awesome at making fun of himself) and a horrible job interview with a woman played by Chelsea Handler, who I usually love.

Hop may be better than Alvin and the Chipmunks, but that’s not saying much. This one is, at the end of it all, an Easter rip-off of The Santa Clause, and that’s also not saying much. So, you see, this one really never seemed as thought it would be any thing like a roaring success, Mr. Brand gives a couple of good moments because he can sound cheeky and naughty and make it fun, but that’s just about it. There’s a subplot about the going-ons at the Easter island about a group of chickens, who have its leader voiced by Hank Azaria, trying to stage a coup against the bunnies to take over Easter, which does have a couple of funny sight gags, but nothing worth noting.

You see me being tepid about Hop because I didn’t like it, but I didn’t dislike it either, and I know what to expect about these films that mesh up digitally rendered animals with live-action stuff so it’s not as though I left Hop feeling disappointed. I knew this one wasn’t meant to be good, but I wanted it to be better if only because a few cool people are in it, but I guess I wasn’t the target audience and maybe kids will actually love the bunnies and the situations presented in Hop. But maybe they’ll just leave the theater not wanting to eat another jelly bean in their lives, because if there’s one thing we learn in Hop is that those are actually easter bunny poo.

Grade: C+