Saturday, June 2, 2012

This Means War Directed by McG

When two CIA agents find themselves vying for the same woman, their rivalry is epic! Lucky Reese Witherspoon, to be one-third of an eternal triangle with these guys!

 Director McG ("Terminator Salvation," and "Chuck") certainly knows how to open a film with a bang and never slow down. Even though this is a romantic comedy, CIA activities and skirmishes are couched in enough reality that we invest a little skin in the game. But the banter and camaraderie between two hunky heroes keep it cartoony and light. Furthermore, the conversations between our heroine and her best friend are hilarious, particularly when they are being overheard by the guys.
This Means War

This Means War
Directed by McG

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* Reese Witherspoon ("Water for Elephants") tests products and facilitates focus groups, but she hasn't quite recovered from her last break-up. Her best friend offers sage advice that positively drips with envy.
* Chris Pine ("Star Trek") is the smooth man about town, a CIA-trained lady killer with blue eyes you could get lost in. Problem is, Reese isn't about to fall. She may be tempted, but she won't fall. ...maybe....oops.... * Tom Hardy ("Inception") is the third side of this triangle, who pretends to be a travel agent, which contributed to the end of his marriage. Now he's competing with Chris Pine for Reese's affections and not doing too badly, either, despite being British...
* Chelsea Handler (lots of TV) is the best friend who keeps offering Reese all that bad, bad advice. She's so funny I'd probably try her suggestions, too! Hey, don't Volkswagens have air bags?

 Once again we are confronted with a PG-13 film that is fairly anatomical, but it's so funny I guess I'll forgive them. The clever script is loaded with double entendres that had us laughing out loud ("the agent has entered the premises"). To watch Hollywood's version of the high-tech power the CIA can bring into this testosterone-laden rivalry is really fun! Plus, I've never seen Ms. Witherspoon so relaxed or funny before.

Expect no sweaty bodies, a snippet of profanity, lots of gunfire, some bloody fisticuffs, a bit of exciting vehicular mayhem, and even some blowie uppie stuff. Our happy audience made a LOT of noise as we left the theater. This should do very well, because it's good old-fashioned entertainment, no socially redeeming qualities, just silly fluffy fun. will notify me when the DVD is available.
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Tuesday, May 29, 2012

The Hunter Games

Book Cover of Hunger-Games-Suzanne-Collins
Cover of The Hunger Games
By E. A Solinas
Every year, twenty-four teenage "tributes" are brought to the Capitol of Panem, and sent out into the arena to kill each other on live TV. Only one will survive.

This chilling premise is at the center of "The Hunter Games," a brilliant, powerful movie adapted from the first book of Suzanne Collins' bestselling trilogy. It's a slow-burning thriller twined with some barbed satire (reality TV!) and an oppressive government -- but at heart, it's an uplifting story about a young woman fighting to be free.

Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) lives in the impoverished District 12, hunting food to provide for her mother and her beloved little sister Prim (Willow Shields). But on the day of the reaping, Prim is selected. And Katniss does something no one else has done -- she volunteers to go instead. Along with the male tribute, Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson), she is swept away to the Capitol.

Once there, the tributes are pampered, tutored, styled and turned into celebrities -- until they're released into the arena, and start killing each other to survive. Katniss must evade murderous gangs, traps, and genetically engineered beasts.

But because Peeta publicly declared his love for Katniss, the audience has taken a shine to the impoverished young "lovers" and are rooting for them to triumph. But if both Katniss and Peeta are to survive, they must learn how to play the game that the gamemakers and polticians are playing -- and use the Hunger Games against them.

I'm not sure why so many people compare "The Hunger Games" to the Twilight movies, because it literally has everything that "Twilight" does not. It has plenty of action, adventure, a subtle romance, and some barbed social commentary -- and it has a raw, passionate quality that easily matches its strong-willed heroine.

The movie also shows us what a rotten place Panem is, whether it's the sleek, colorful superficiality of the Capitol or the faded squalor of District 12. But "Hunger Games" is at its best when it's in the forests of the arena -- there's a primal, wild quality to Katniss' adventures there, tempered with tenderer moments (such as when she cares for the gravely wounded Peeta).
The romance with Peeta is also refreshingly uncliched, leaving the audience unsure of how much of their love was for the audience's benefit (although we glimpse some flickers of real love between them). The biggest problems are that a lot of the violence seems rather toned down, and the shakycam becomes rather annoying at times.

But Jennifer Lawrence does an excellent job bringing Katniss to life, imbuing her with strength, fear, brains and a fiery temper -- exactly what the "girl on fire" needs to have. Josh Hutcherson is equally good as Peeta, and there are a string of great performances by Woody Harrelson, Stanley Tucci, Lenny Kravitz, Elizabeth Banks and Amandla Stenberg. There's a lot of passion in even the minor actors' performances.

"The Hunger Games" successfully mingles dystopian sci-fi, romance and a tale of rebellion, giving us a brilliantly raw, passionate movie. A must-see.

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Wednesday, May 23, 2012

NCIS, Season 9 - Network Television's Highest Ranked Drama

VALENCIA, CA - JANUARY 03:  (L-R) Actors Brian...
VALENCIA, CA - JANUARY 03: (L-R) Actors Brian Dietzen, David McCallum, Pauley Perrette, Mark Harmon, Sean Murray (backrow)Cote de Pablo and Michael Weatherly pose at CBS' 'NCIS' celebration of thier 200th episode on January 3, 2012 in Valencia, California. (Image credit: Getty Images via @daylife)
"NCIS" returns for a ninth season as network television's highest ranked drama, featuring its terrific blend of criminal case-of-the-week excitement and the equally entertaining interaction among the members of a well-chosen cast. Mark Harmon returns as crusty Senior Special Agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs, still feuding with his boss, the Director of NCIS, and still closely managing his team, who he treats as a second family.
 NCIS, Season 9
NCIS, Season 9

As the new season opens, Tony DiNozzo (Michael Weatherly), on special assignment for a new "Sec-Nav", searches for a supposed traitor within the ranks of NCIS. Tony barely survives the assignment, leaving behind an unsolved mystery and doubts about the relationship between the new Secretary of the Navy and Director Vance (Rocky Carroll). The mystery, and Tony's assailant, will eventually resurface, while the assignment will haunt Tony, causing him to reexamine his career and life (and yes, his relationship with Ziva). Gibbs will have his own appointment with destiny later in the season. An extended story arc in late season ends with a thrilling finale and team members in mortal danger.

As in previous seasons, the spotlight rotates among the agents from show to show, in some cases filling in missing backstory. Lilly Tomlin has an hilarious guest appearence as Agent McGee's (Sean Murray) grandmother, to whom the Sixties were very good. Goth chick forensics expert Abby Sciuto (Pauley Parrette) learns that what she thinks she knows about her family might not be true. Medical examiner "Ducky" Mallard (David McCallum) tries online dating, while Agent Ziva David (Cote de Pablo) is reconfirmed in the importance of her new family at NCIS. Jamie Lee Curtis has an extended guest stint as an expert in psycological warfare, who chooses to practice on Gibbs. In one hilarious episode, the agents collaborate with fiesty red-headed Coast Guard investigator Abigail Borin (an excellent Diane Neal) to find the perfect woman for Gibbs; the comedy arises partly from the fact that Borin is Gibbs' female doppelganger, and partly from the end result of the search.

"NCIS: Season Nine" is highly recommended to the many fans of the series.

NCIS Season 9 Premiere Promo/Trailer 1080p HD

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