Taking The Decision-Making Process Out of Your Weekend Movie Theater Visit (5 Reviews)

It’s officially the first weekend of Summer, and you might be so inclined to go see a movie this weekend.  This may be especially true if you live in a place where the temperature might hit 95 and you’ve got no AC at your house.  The movie theater is a great place to get out of the heat and stuff yourself to capacity with 3lbs of popcorn & 76 ounces of soda.  But which movie will you see?

If you’re like me, a lot of movie trailers and commercials have looked extremely appealing lately so it might be tough to choose.  Luckily I have lots of time on my hand so I’ve checked out five different movies in the theater over the past two weeks.  If you only have time to see one movie and don’t want to be disappointed, keep reading for my ranking and feedback of these five big budget films.

Here they are in order of worst to least-worst:

5). Snow White & the Huntsman – PG-13

Don’t laugh.  It’s supposed to be a darker take on the classic fairy tale, and that’s what appealed to me.  I was promised lots of killing, crazy army battles and the evilest queen ever created.  I wanted Charlize Theron’s queen to be truly devious, to constantly be chasing Kristen Stewart’s Snow White in clever ways throughout the film.  I wanted SW and her allies to go through hell and be faced with certain death over and over again.  Unfortunately I got only about 10 minutes of this in the beginning of the movie and 10 minutes at the end, with about 100 minutes in between of I don’t know what… The middle was Snow White wandering through the “Dark Forest” mostly unharmed, hooking up with groups of people who never told us their motivation for wanting revenge on the Queen.  The movie didn’t even clearly lay out who some of the major characters were and how they fit into the story.  It seems like the makers of this movie were so fixated on the “dark” imagery—Snow White’s hair, the Queen’s wardrobe, the Dark Forest—that they forgot about creating excitement throughout the entire movie and developing the characters enough that they naturally fit in with the overall plot.  The only redeeming part of this movie was the Dwarves, and they don’t even come into play until two-thirds of the way through.

Final Verdict: Not even worth putting on the Netflix queue.

4). Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter (3-D) – R

This one totally tricked me because I had heard so many positive reviews about the book this movie is based on.  And the guy who wrote the book was in charge of writing the script so I went in with high hopes.  Big mistake.  Recently I was reading a book on Screenwriting and the author said that movie audiences are willing to accept “one piece of magic per movie.”  His example is that audiences will accept aliens landing on earth in a movie, but they will not accept aliens landing on earth who then get bit by vampires.  You can have one piece of fantasy in a movie, but no more than one.  Well Vampire Hunter had at least three.  I could believe that Vampires inhabited the southern states of the Union during the time of the Civil War, but I couldn’t also believe that Lincoln’s ax had magical powers AND that he turned into a superhero.  And then, by the end of the movie, his friends basically had superpowers too.  This was just too much, and it turned the movie into a cartoon.  There’s a scene in the movie where Lincoln and one of his vampire enemies are caught in a horse stampede and they literally start throwing full grown horses at each other!  I’m not making this up.  The movie becomes one big joke, and obviously they weren’t trying to make a comedy.  They were trying to make a very serious movie.  The only reason it’s not #5 on my list is because Snow White was just so boring.

Final Verdict: You’re going to try to talk yourself into this movie, either at the theater or on DVD.  Don’t do it.

3). Men in Black 3 (3-D) – PG-13

In my defense, I got back to LA from San Francisco this past Monday around 2pm, and walked into a “fire alarm testing” situation at my apartment complex.  Knowing the ear-splitting sound was going to continue for three more hours, I decided a movie was the best option.  Because I had already seen three of the other four movies on this list, I had little choice at the local theater.  I never saw MIB 2, but figured that wouldn’t be a problem.  OK, so Men in Black isn’t much of a “thinker’s movie.”  It’s not going to win any awards.  But unlike #5 and #4 on this list, at least it was fun to watch.  It had all the characteristics of your typical cheesy summer action film—including Will Smith overacting and Tommy Lee Jones/Josh Brolin (playing a younger version of Tommy Lee when Will Smith travels back to 1969) calling someone “Slick” or “Ace” a few too many times.  But it’s a movie you’ll feel familiar and comfortable with, and it’ll fly by at 106 minutes.  The 3-D didn’t really add much for me on this particular film.  But again, it did it’s job of entertaining me while the alarms were blaring at my apartment.

Final Verdict: Worth the Netflix queue add, but don’t prioritize it.

2). Prometheus (3-D) – R

The lazy in me wants to simply say, “I feel the exact same way about Prometheus as I did about Avatar,” and make you try to figure out what that means.  But fine, let me explain.  This movie, to me, is absolutely worth seeing in 3-D on a movie theater screen.  It is visually pleasing, as I suspect all well-done space travel movies made in 3-D will be from now on.  It’s the perfect type of movie for 3-D.  Having said that, I didn’t love the plot, and I didn’t care much about the movie trying to answer important questions like, “Who created humans?” and “What happens to us after we die?”  If sci-fi is your genre of choice, and you like movies that reach for answers to those types of questions, you’re going to love this film.  I was never able to invest in the characters or plot of Avatar, but I enjoyed the film at least when seeing it in 3-D on the big screen, and that’s exactly how Prometheus played out for me.

Final Verdict: See it in the theater, in 3-D.  It’s one of those movies worth shelling out the crazy 3-D ticket prices.

1). The Avengers (3-D) – PG-13

I’m holding out high hopes for the new Batman in July, but Avengers may very well end up being the best movie of the Summer.  And that’s coming from someone who’s not a comic book person and typically doesn’t love superhero movies.  This movie had so much more than just great action scenes.  The plot wasn’t overly cheesy, and it was simple enough to not get in the way.  The characters, for the most part, were well-developed and had depth.  If I wanted to nitpick, I’d mention that the Scarlett Johansson and Jeremy Renner characters were pretty much unnecessary to the movie.  They were the only two characters that didn’t have any layers beyond their special powers and being involved in the action scenes.  The rest of the characters—especially Robert Downey Jr.’s Iron Man and Mark Ruffalo’s Hulk—were incredible, both as superheroes doing superhero things, and as regular people.  One of the most entertaining decisions the creators of The Avengers made was having a lot of conflict and fighting between the superheroes.  The movie isn’t just about six superheroes trying to stop a villain.  It’s about six superheroes trying to stop a villain while figuring out if they can trust each other and be team players.  And yes, the action in 3-D is incredible.

Final Verdict: See it in 3-D at the theater for sure, but if you can’t, get it to the top of your Netflix queue as soon as it’s released on Blu-Ray.

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Summertime TV Blues: Sifting Through the Junk That You’ll be Seeing on TV Over the Next Three Months

Do you hate the summer TV schedule as much as I do?  Are you confused by why the best TV shows all take their hiatus from June – September?  I actually tried to research why all the TV stations give their best shows the summer off, but I couldn’t find any legit info.  My best guess is that back in the times before DVRs, TiVo and On Demand, these networks realized that summer is when families take vacations and spend a lot of time outside…meaning that’s when people are least likely to be sitting in front of their TVs every night.  But now with so many different options to tape your favorite shows, doesn’t it make sense that the schedule would adjust and there would actually be decent shows on during the summer months?  Apparently not.

I took the trouble of monitoring Entertainment Weekly’s “What to Watch” section for three weeks in May to see what new summer shows they were promoting.  Sadly, here they are:

United Stats of America – Twin comics make statistics about the USA interesting (doubt it) – History Channel, Tuesdays

The Devils Ride – Inside look at the conflicts and drama of a motorcycle club in San Diego (there was already a show like this that I didn’t bother to watch, wasn’t there?  Sons of Anarchy?) – Discovery Channel, Tuesdays

Around the World in 80 Plates – Competing chefs travel the world and learn about international cuisines, then try to cook the local flavors (sounds like every other cooking show) -Bravo, Wednesdays

Common Law – Cop partners have a problem—with each other.  So their captain sends them to couples’ therapy (what an incredible twist on the typical cop show!   Two men that have to go to couples’ therapy!  Groundbreaking stuff!). – USA, Fridays

Mom Caves – An attempt to show the world that moms need their private spaces for relaxation just like men need their man caves (every woman I know relaxes by watching trashy TV and reading gossip magazines.  So this show is about a room with one TV and a bunch of magazines?  Boom, show over) – HGTV, Saturdays

Pregnant in Heels – A “pregnancy guru” helps expecting moms through the joys and perils of having a baby (I’m not sure I even have a comment here.  This woman apparently helps pregnant women deal with major dilemmas…like how to go on a date when you’re eight months pregnant.  Sounds awesome) – Bravo, Tuesdays

Duets – A play on those other singing competition shows…only this time the judges actually sing with the contestants (I don’t listen to Kelly Clarkson or John Legend sing regularly, and I don’t even know who Jennifer Nettles or Robin Thicke are.  So it’s doubtful I wanna hear them sing with wannabe singers) – ABC, Thursdays

I Cloned My Pet – This might have been just a one-episode show, but basically it follows people who had an obsession with their pets, and those pets died, and now they’re trying to clone the dead pet, or something.

Hip Hop Squares – A hip hop take on the old Hollywood Squares show (seems like it’s geared towards a specific viewer, and it’s not me) – MTV, almost every day

Men At Work  – Four men navigate work, friendship and women (I’ve actually watched a couple episodes of this show as it’s the only sitcom on this list.  It’s pretty terrible…recycled jokes about one of the guy’s girlfriends wanting to have sex too often…there’s the stereotypical ladies’ man, the nerd, the guy who just got dumped and is depressed, and the normal guy.  Don’t waste your time) – TBS, Thursdays

It’s a sad list of shows.  But do me a favor and let me know if there are any shows on this summer that are actually worth watching.  And do yourself a favor and go see some movies instead of watching Pregnant in Heels.  Specifically go see The Avengers in 3D.  You won’t be sorry.