Monthly Archives: June 2014

22 Jump Street

Movie:  22 Jump Street

Rating:  2 1/2 Stars (Out of 5)

Review:   Two undercover detectives, Morton Schmidt (Jonah Hill) and Greg Jenko (Channing Tatum), are called into Deputy Chief Hardy’s (Nick Offerman) office and ordered to repeat the success of their previous Jump Street operation.  But since they are a little long in the tooth to pose as high school students, they are now enrolled at Metro City (MC) State as college students.  Their mission is to locate and arrest the distributers of a new drug known as WHY PHY.

Schmidt and Jenko’s efforts to blend into the student body are haphazard, at best.  Jenko goes the frat boy/football stud route, while Schmidt tries the liberal arts/ poet route.  The usual college hi-jinks ensue; a few genuinely funny scenes take place along with too many very forced comedy bits that fall flat.  There is way too much soul searching and heart to heart talks between Schmidt and Jenko about their relationship.  Schmidt acts like a jilted lover if he doesn’t get to tag along with Jenko at college.

Oddly enough, for a college comedy there is almost no use of hot babes in this film.  Schmidt has a romance of sorts with Maya (Amber Stevens), but there are no hot scenes, sleezy or otherwise.  Spring Break on the beach at Puerto Mexico, and no worthwhile eye candy for guys to enjoy!  What’s the deal?  Ice Cube does his glowering menacing persona once in a while, and there are too short cameos by talented comedic actors Patton Oswalt and Nick Offerman.  All in all, an OK comedy with nothing special to recommend it.

Huh?  What the….:  An octopus jumping up like a rabbit?  Don’t think so.

The guy on top of the speeding truck who gets slammed off by a metal beam and survives with no injuries?  Give me a break!

The MC State football team is named the Statesmen.  I wonder if the film research staff bothered to discover that Hobart College in NY are the Statesmen.

Dialogue Nugget:  “This is the most uncomfortable fist fight I have ever had”.

Stuff After Credits:  Eureka!  While the credits roll, the most imaginative and interesting scenes of the movie take place, as quick cut scenes for potential sequels unravel at breakneck speed.  Jump Street 23 through 40 zip by with the detectives going undercover at Medical School, Scuba School, Dance Academy, Mariachi….  Plus there are a number of big name cameos that appear in these quickies.

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Edge Of Tomorrow

Movie:  Edge Of Tomorrow

Rating:  4 Stars (Out of 5)

Review:  The earth is in trouble.  It has been invaded by an alien species, and the collective military might of the human race has been getting its ass kicked.  Extinction of the human race is imminent, unless one last all-out attack on the aliens can turn the tide.  This attack will be commanded by General Brigham (Brendan Gleeson), and his forces hit the beach in France in 24 hours.

An American public relations officer, Major William Cage (Tom Cruise), meets with General Brigham to put a positive spin on events for the anxious folks back home.  Things do not go as planned in this interview for Major Cage.  He finds himself escorted to the staging area for the invasion, and pressed into service as one of the initial shock troops being sent in to battle against the aliens.  Inserted into a futuristic metal combat suit, with attached weapon that he has no clue as to how to activate, Cage is dropped into battle from an air transport to a beachhead that is already in a desperate battle.  Then, Major Cage dies.

End of story?  Not even close.  For reasons best not disclosed, Major Cage has acquired the unique ability to go back to the day before the battle every time he dies.  Only one other person believes Cage’s wild claims, and that is a British soldier named Rita Vrataski (Emily Blunt), who is a famous and highly decorated hero in the alien wars.  Together they combine their talents to try to turn the tide of battle:  Rita, the skillful warrior who puts the major through a weapons and tactics survival course of sorts, and Cage,  who slowly gathers intelligence data on the enemy every time his life is “reset”.

This is a first rate science fiction film.  All the reviews will allude to a similarity to the comedy Groundhog Day, but it also has strong ties to Starship Troopers, and a few dashes of Pacific Rim and The Longest Day thrown in for good measure.  It was an interesting change of pace to see Tom Cruise cast not as a macho warrior, but a desk jockey with a bit of a yellow streak in him.  Emily Blunt proved to be a match for Cruise in all aspects of the film; she kicks butt with the best of them.  Great special effects.

Huh?  What the ….:  Okay, I won’t spoil the scene where General Brigham tells Cage he is going into combat.  Just know that no general officer would ever get away with it and keep his command.

Actor to Watch:  Bill Paxton is a hoot as Sgt Farell, leader of the bad ass unit leading the way.  Ooh rah!

 

Belle

Movie:  Belle
Rating:  3 1/2 Stars (Out of 5)

Review:  The time is 1781, and in England serious opposition to slavery is fermenting.  A highly controversial legal case has made it’s way to the jurisdiction of the Lord Chief Justice of England, Lord Mansfield (Tom Wilkinson), and he must decide if the slave ship Zong was in it’s rights to intentionally drown 142 slaves when it ran low on drinking water, and if so, if the insurers of the vessel must compensate for the loss.

Complicating matters is Dido Belle, a young woman born illegitimately from the union of a slave and British Admiral Sir John Lindsay (Matthew Goode).  On the death of Sir Lindsay, Dido becomes the ward of her great uncle, Lord Mansfield.  Dido is treated as a member of the family at the Mansfield estate, but she gradually comes to realize how different she is from other young English women.  Dido’s mixed bloodlines makes her position in society tenuous, but in England, class and wealth are frequently competing factors as to who may be a desirable catch as a wife.  As it happens, Dido’s naval father left her quite well off financially.

This movie will be a fascinating slice of history for movie goers who are interested in authentic looks at 18th century society.  The pace may feel slow for some, but the acting is first rate.  Tom Wilkenson delivers another powerful performance as the Lord Chief Justice at a critical time in English jurisprudence.

Actress to Watch:  Go gaga for Gugu!  She is a wonderful actress, and should be getting bigger roles in mainstream movies.  If you missed her short TV run in Undercovers, get the DVD for the Tom Hanks movie Larry Crowne, as Gugu stole every scene she was in.

Dialogue Nuggets:  “You should not be speaking your own mind; you’ll end up an old maid!”

At the end of a verdict: ” Let justice be done, though the heavens fall.”