Saturday, June 30, 2012

The Amazing Spider-Man

The Acceptable Spider-ManThe Adequate Spider-Man. Both of these would have been more apt titles for The Amazing Spider-Man, a film that for the most part works just fine, but ultimately shares too many plot points with Sam Raimi's original film to really stand out. There are a lot of aspects (500) Days of Summer director Marc Webb gets right here, and a few that fall squarely into superhero movie mediocrity. Is it a good Spider-Man movie? Absolutely. But is it a truly great superhero film? Not quite.

The Amazing Spider-Man
Director: Marc Webb
Starring: Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Rhys Ifans

Tuesday, June 26, 2012


It's obvious from the first few minutes that Ted comes from the mind of "Family Guy" creator Seth MacFarlane. This isn't only because he imbues the foul-mouthed titular teddy bear with the same voice as Peter Griffin, but also because MacFarlane's use of random references follows him from the animated series into the live-action world here. If you haven't seen Flash Gordon, much of the comedy will be lost on you, and there's even a "Family Guy" style flashback in which John (Mark Wahlberg) and Lori (Mila Kunis) each remember the way that they met, with Lori recalling a dance-challenged John bumping into her, but John remembering a full-on recreation of the disco scene from Airplane! MacFarlane isn't interested in doing an exhaustive pop culture parody, but he does take comedic inspiration from guys like Mel Brooks and David Zucker and applies those inspirations to a story all his own about a young boy who makes a magic wish for his teddy bear to come to life. The result is a summer comedy that falls prey to many traps of the genre, but does so in a pretty entertaining way.

Co-writer/Director: Seth MacFarlane
Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Mila Kunis, Seth MacFarlane

Monday, June 25, 2012

People Like Us

Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci are some of the most influential people in Hollywood, having made names for themselves writing shows like "Alias" and "Fringe" and writing and producing big-budget blockbusters like TransformersStar Trek, and Cowboys & Aliens. But People Like Us, Kurtzman's directorial debut, is a much more reserved film than those previous credits would indicate. It's a surprisingly dramatic film about sacrifice, humility, and family, and it provides an excellent alternative to the high concept plots of many of today's romantic comedies.

People Like Us
Co-writer/Director: Alex Kurtzman
Starring: Chris Pine, Elizabeth Banks, Michael Hall D'Addario, Olivia Wilde, Michelle Pfeiffer

Sunday, June 24, 2012

The NJNM Podcast: Ep. 94 - Presumed Innocent

In this week's episode, Ben and Tyler discuss Alan J. Pakula's 1990 film, Presumed Innocent.

Character Name Game Intro - 1:51

Media Consumed
Friday the 13th Part 4: The Final Chapter - 2:25
Dracula 2000 - 6:12

Newsies - 10:10
Snabba Cash (aka Easy Money) - 14:07

Presumed Innocent - 19:00

Next Time: Paper Moon  - 50:25
Listener E-mail/Voicemail/Twitter - 51:15
Character Name Game - 55:25

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter goes from utterly preposterous to dead series (and back) faster than our 16th President could decapitate a bloodsucker. What, you didn't know that one of America's most revered leaders battled the undead before and during his tenure in office? The concept feels as if it emerged from a Mad Libs session gone haywire, and the film itself weirdly treads a line of being self-aware (how can it not be with a title like that) and playing things a bit too straight for its own good, at times losing its narrative momentum when it should be pumping adrenaline instead of going for quiet drama. But as a fan of ridiculous movies, I can't think of a more ludicrous film I've seen this year; this is a period piece from the director of Wanted, and it totally lives up to that description and all the insanity it implies.

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter
Director: Timur Bekmambetov Starring: Benjamin Walker, Dominic Cooper, Rufus Sewell, Anthony Mackie, Mary Elizabeth Winstead

Sunday, June 17, 2012

The NJNM Podcast: Ep. 93 - Tucker & Dale vs. Evil

In this week's episode, Ben and Tyler discuss Eli Craig's 2010 film, Tucker & Dale vs. Evil.

Character Name Game Intro - 3:19

Media Consumed
Gentlemen Broncos - 5:30
"Life's Too Short" - 10:20

Cooking A Contemporary Classic: A Conversation with "Breaking Bad" - 12:55
Rounders - 15:18
All Dogs Go To Heaven - 20:20

Tucker & Dale vs. Evil - 28:08

Next Time:  Presumed Innocent  - 52:33
Listener E-mail/Voicemail/Twitter - 53:15
Character Name Game - 54:43
Where You Can Find Us - 56:27

Character Name Game Video:

Saturday, June 16, 2012


The pervasive sentiment among critics so far is that Brave feels more like a Disney movie than a Pixar movie, but that doesn't take away from this film's achievements. I've never seen an animated Disney film pull off a mother-daughter relationship half as satisfying as this one, and while the plot may stumble across some rote and familiar territory here and there, it's still an immensely satisfying story that gives ample reasons to care about its characters. Brave not only has a beautiful setting and gorgeous animation, it's also an empowering tale that encourages you to live by the old Terminator 2 mantra, "there's no fate but what we make."

Directors: Mark Andrews, Brenda Chapman, Steve Purcell
Starring: Kelly Mcdonald, Billy Connolly, Emma Thompson, Craig Ferguson

Friday, June 15, 2012

Rock of Ages

I'm a fan of 80s hair metal. I have nearly every one of the songs from this film's soundtrack in my iTunes (performed by its original artist, of course). I'm also a Tom Cruise fan, and I'm not completely opposed to musicals. So it's safe to say I fit pretty nicely into the demographic for Rock of Ages. But can the director of Hairspray successfully pull together an all-star cast and turn this Broadway musical into an entertaining film?

Rock of Ages
Director: Adam Shankman
Starring: Julianne Hough, Diego Boneta, Alec Baldwin, Russell Brand, Paul Giamatti, Tom Cruise

Thursday, June 14, 2012

To Rome With Love (L.A. Film Fest '12)

I've never considered myself a fan of Woody Allen, which is likely a result of not having seen many of his early works. I respect Annie Hall much more than I like it, and that's embarrassingly the only pre-2000s film of his I've seen. But after watching and enjoying Match Point, Scoop, Cassandra's Dream, Vicky Cristina Barcelona, Midnight in Paris, and now To Rome With Love, I think I've slowly but surely become a Woody Allen fan.

To Rome With Love
Writer/Director: Woody Allen
Starring: Woody Allen, Jesse Eisenberg, Alec Baldwin, Ellen Page, Greta Gerwig, Penelope Cruz

Sunday, June 10, 2012

The NJNM Podcast: Ep. 92 - Heathers (Guest: Kate Erbland from Film School Rejects)

In this week's episode, Tyler and Ben are joined by Kate Erbland (from Film School Rejects) to discuss Michael Lehmann's 1988 film, Heathers.

Character Name Game Intro - 2:32

Media Consumed
Friday the 13th Part 3 - 3:00
"Veep" - 5:58

"Breaking Bad" - 7:54
Damsels in Distress - 9:48
Take This Waltz - 11:38
Your Sister's Sister - 15:05

The Descendants - 16:57
Rowdy Rathore - 19:32
Elite Squad - 23:12
The Cable Guy - 25:21
Safety Not Guaranteed - 27:55

Heathers - 31:25

Next Time: A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints - 1:04:48
Listener E-mail/Voicemail/Twitter - 1:06:00
Character Name Game - 1:06:44
Where You Can Find Us - 1:09:10

Sunday, June 3, 2012

The NJNM Podcast: Ep. 91 - Hellraiser

In this week's episode, Tyler and Ben discuss Clive Barker's 1987 film, Hellraiser.

Character Name Game Intro - 1:35

Media Consumed
The Dictator - 2:00
"The Ricky Gervais Show" - 3:55

Alien - 5:45
"Sherlock" Season/Series 2 - 10:20

Hellraiser - 12:50

Next Time: Heathers - 51:38
Listener E-mail/Voicemail/Twitter - 52:36
Character Name Game - 1:00:39
Where You Can Find Us - 1:04:30

Saturday, June 2, 2012


Ridley Scott returns to his sci-fi roots with Prometheus, a beautiful film that is equally impressive in the ideas it evokes as in the visual prowess it displays. Ostensibly a prequel to Alien, this film works surprisingly well as a standalone story. There are clear nods to Scott's earlier iconic franchise, but ultimately this is a dazzling, gorgeous movie that aims high and lands as one of the best of the year.

Director: Ridley Scott
Starring: Noomi Rapace, Michael Fassbender, Charlize Theron, Logan Marshall-Green