Archive for March, 2012

The Instant Critic puts up the guardrails

Welcome, fellow film enthusiasts!

In case you missed the last post, I offered some thoughts on a faith-house film and a made-for-TV special.

This week, I’m taking a step in the other direction. I’m going to list a film on Netflix that I believe should be absolutely avoided!

LIMITLESS (PG-13, 104 minutes – featuring Bradley Cooper)

Limitless really should not have be on this list. The film hosts an intriguing premise, a likable star, a stylish director and some keen cinematography. As this film develops, the reasons for its detestability come into play.

Cooper’s character, a troubled writer who finds solace in a mind-enhancing pill, could not have been more unlikable. Instead of clinging to a wire-thin moral base, our “hero” cavorts around in his misdoings, escaping every turn with his magical helper NZT (the “clever” pill name). His character devolves from a sketchy author to a flat out criminal.

Yes, his misdemeanors with the NZT do get him involved with gangsters, bad businessmen and the police. The implausibility of his many narrow escapes slaps the viewing audience right in the face.

I really do like Cooper, but any attempts to humanize the lead lose their effectiveness by film’s end.

Other than a terrible anchor, the film stomps through sewage of genre clichés and stock supporting roles. There is nothing new or fresh about Limitless despite what the premise might entail.

Limitless is a soulless celebration of scumbags hindered by a terribly written lead character.

Well, that was disheartening!

What say you? Have you seen this film? Care to disagree? Let me know in the comments section.

As always, the lines are open for a request or two. Leave them in the comment section as well!

Next week, I will pick up my boots out of the mud and return to the wonder world of good cinema.

Until then, may your popcorn be fresh and your movie better than Limitless.

The Instant Critic

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The Instant Critic plays golf in Orlando

Greetings, fellow film enthusiasts!

In case you missed last week, we took a break from movies to remember the High Rise flood.

This week, we are hitting the green and heading to Disney World.

SEVEN DAYS IN UTOPIA (G, 98 minutes – featuring Robert Duvall, Lucas Black, Deborah Ann Woll and Melissa Leo)

I usually cringe at the thought of a faith-based movie. Since faith-house cinema almost limits itself to “gems” such as Facing the Giants and Fireproof, the average Christian film buff finds the situation dire when looking for a movie with a deeper meaning.

Thankfully, Seven Days in Utopia rises above the usual faith-based fare to offer viewers an uplifting tale of finding yourself in the most unlikely of places.

The story centers on Luke, a disgraced golfer who stumbles upon a small Texas town after a minor car crash. While there, he meets a former golfer (Duvall) who helps to give Luke the training he needs to continue in his career.

Going in, I had no idea that the film held a Christian base, but I was surprised and pleased that I enjoyed the film at the level I did. Sure, a few moments of genuine corniness are in store, but the earnest approach made those moments strangely tolerable. As a Christian, I’m glad to see a good movie from our side every now and then.

On the acting side, Duvall can never be bad in a movie, and up-and-comer Lucas Black manages to hold his own with the screen vet for the second time.

If you are looking for a film that you can safely watch with the folks over Spring Break, Seven Days in Utopia easily takes the cake.

This film and the upcoming Blue Like Jazz (a film I thoroughly enjoyed) give faith-house cinema a bright future.

DISNEY PARKS: UNDISCOVERED DISNEY PARKS (TVG, 43 minutes)

As a longtime advocate of Disney World, I found this short television special to be a must for those considering a trip down to the house of the mouse anytime soon.

While I’ve never been to the West Coast, I can say that I have been to Orlando fourteen times (the next trip steadily approaches).

Even I learned a thing or two watching this informative special.

Disney Parks: Undiscovered Disney Parks gives you exactly what it promises. Viewers are taken backstage to see some of Disney’s best-kept secrets, whether it is a private restaurant or an inside look at the mechanics of a certain electrifying parade.

Sadly, some of the information in this special will be old news for longtime park-goers, but for those new to the Disney experience, the short episode offers a great deal of intriguing information about the theme park and its surrounding resorts.

If you are headed to any of the major Disney parks in the foreseeable future, I recommend you give this television special a try. It may not be a movie, but it’s easily worth your time.

What say you? What’s your take on the current climate of faith-based cinema? Are you more of a Universal Studios type of person? Let me know in the comments section.

You know the drill. Recommendations are more than welcome and can be placed in the comments section as well.

Next week, the Instant Critic and his fantastic readers will be receiving a well-deserved week of rest.

Until then, may your sunscreen be effective and your break wonderful.

The Instant Critic

The Instant Critic covers the High Rise flood

Hello, fellow film enthusiasts!

In case you missed last week, two sequels took center stage.

This week, I’ve decided to veer slightly off the normal game plan to write about an event that affected many a “Lipscombite” last night.

Around 2:30 in the morning, I arose from my solemn slumber to hear the sound of shuffling shoes and sirens. I heard voices repeating claims of a necessary evacuation from the dormitory.

An evacuation? In the middle of the night? Serious claims, indeed.

I shook off my wishes to stay in bed, woke my roommate, got dressed in a hurried fashion and made my way down the stairs.

Once outside, I noticed the catalyst for the commotion. Two massive fire trucks sat near the High Rise dormitory. Campus security guarded the entrances to the building, preventing anyone from reentry.

As I stood in my Lipscomb T-shirt, Nike gym shorts and Rockport church shoes, I began to grasp the gravity of the current situation. A huge pond of water had taken over the grassy plain in front of the High Rise lobby.

I believed we had a leak on our hands.

Once I gained better knowledge of the situation, I put on my journalist’s cap and went to work. Scouring the campus looking for possible interviewees, I stumbled upon one or two well-qualified candidates.

One, a first-floor resident, gave me keen insight on the commotion of the evening. The other, an official of the university, gave me the actual statistics of the events.

10 feet of water flooded the mechanical room of High Rise, caused by an 8-inch pipe’s untimely burst.

I spent the next two hours or so gathering extra quotes, taking startling pictures and trying to gain a better understanding of the possible ramifications of what had just occurred.

Was the damage severe? Did any students lose any personal belongings? How long until I could climb back into my wonderful bed?

Only time could tell.

If you have ever seen the found-footage thriller Cloverfield, you might be able to understand the feeling for many High Rise residents.

Strangely awoken in the middle of the night by an unseen terror, many students wondered throughout the campus throughout the morning, unsure of what had happened and what was to come.

Some students made their way into Allen Arena, but quickly after, the arena was evacuated. Students had to make their way into the campus activity center.

Lights flickered, students fled to the nearest Waffle House and some made runs to Wal-Mart to gather necessary supplies for the remainder of the morning.

Some students just simply sat, wondering what forced them from their beautiful sleep and what was to come.

For a short while, uncertainty and pandemonium took hold of the Lipscomb campus.

The Cloverfield monster might as well have shown up. He would have been more than fitting for the occasion.

As I walked, my feet began to angrily pulse with a fury only feet lacking socks could convey. “The Rockports” are fine and dandy until socks leave the equation.

I felt as if I was walking on a solid block of finely carved wood only made for the best Dillard’s shoppers.

As soon as the situation came to a quick standstill, I left school, making the third trip to my car on the evening to both charge my iPhone (a blessing, really) and grab a quick breakfast.

As the sun began to rise over High Rise, the story began to take shape. Students (including yours truly) were slowly filtered into the dorm to obtain the necessities needed to carry out the morning’s activities. I grabbed my computer, threw on a pair of jeans, got my phone charger and of course, put on a pair of glorious socks.

Glorious, glorious socks.

I proceded to find a spot in the student center, where power still remained, and watch the events of the evening unfold on the morning news while checking my computer for anything that required my attention.

“Crazy, crazy, crazy,” I thought to myself.

A few breaking updates and a few interviews later (including one with Dr. Lowry himself), the smoke cleared. The building opened for business after many hours of uncertainty, and High Rise residents finally entered their once tumultuous home to take a well-deserved nap.

The draining, dreary night had finally passed. The four major news crews packed their bags after a long night of coverage, the students of other dormitories slowly emerged to find their classes cancelled and this journalist finally made it back to his room.

Be thankful for the brave men and women who put forth tireless effort to help relocate the weary High Rise residents back in their beds. Heroes, if you ask me.

I know I’m thankful that once I tie up a few loose ends coverage-wise and finish this post, I will once again my reunited with my wonderful maiden – sleep.

As for a movie, take a day off. Catch up on some older posts, maybe. The choice is yours.

I’ll be happy to take some requests for next week’s post. I’m like you. I can’t wait to discuss some awesome films again.

For now, last night’s events remain the topic at hand.

Until then, may your dorm’s pipes be tightly wound and your sleep wonderful.

An exhausted but grateful Instant Critic

The Instant Critic sees the sequels: Reviews of Iron Man 2 and Ghostbusters 2

Welcome back, fellow film enthusiasts!

In case you missed last week’s post, two fascinating documentaries took center stage.

This week, we will head into the world of the sequel.

IRON MAN 2 (PG-13, 124 minutes – featuring Robert Downey Jr., Gwyneth Paltrow, Don Cheadle, Mickey Rourke, Scarlett Johansson and Sam Rockwell)

In honor of the new trailer for The Avengers, let us take a look at Iron Man’s second big screen outing.

Iron Man 2 endured unnecessary criticism during its time in theaters. Some complained the film felt “rigid” or “unoriginal,” while others hailed the final product as “a lackluster follow-up to a true American gem.”

Yada. Yada. Yada.

Iron Man 2 serves its purpose to a fine degree of excellence. The sequel raises the stakes for Tony Stark, introduces an effective set of villains and bridges the film with the upcoming assembling of The Avengers – a superhero team consisting of such heavy hitters as Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, The Hulk, Black Widow, Hawkeye and Agent Nick Fury.

Mickey Rourke creates a storm of fury as the vengeful Ivan Vanko, the disgruntled heir to a fallen legacy. Sam Rockwell adds to the villainy as Justin Hammer, Tony Stark’s conniving rival.

Director Jon Favreau deserves a pat on the back for maintaining the same spirit of fun that made the original a blast. Downey Jr. will always deliver as Stark, and Paltrow serves as a brilliant foil for Stark’s antics.

Iron Man 2 deserves your attention for providing a successful sequel to the original film.

GHOSTBUSTERS 2 (PG, 108 minutes – featuring Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis and Ernie Hudson)

While a third outing for the men with the Proton Packs might be far from reality, the second adventure for the busters qualifies for added fun to the series.

This time around, the gang must reunite to stop Vigo the Carpathian, an ancient evil who desires to return from the grave.

While the sequel does not live up to the original classic, you can still find plenty of enjoyment.

The joyous sensibilities of Ghostbusters find their way into the new installment, and the set pieces this time around almost match the grandiosity of the original.

Murray and crew also provide some excellent laughs.

While Ghostbusters 2 may not hold a scary bone in its body, humor flows in abundance.

I do recommend giving this silly sequel a try.

What say you? Are you a fan of sequels? Are you disgusted by the lack of original content in Hollywood? Let me know in the comments section!

As always, the lines are open for a few requests. Please let me know if there is a movie on Netflix Instant that you would like to see reviewed. I will feature the review with next week’s post.

Until then, may your popcorn be fresh and your movies wonderful.

The Instant Critic