Paramount’s Ninja Turtles Reboot Proves To Be One Of 2014’s Worst New Movies

Courtesy:  Paramount Pictures

Courtesy: Paramount Pictures

Paramount Pictures’ updated take on Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is one of the worst new movies of 2014. There is no way to sugarcoat it. Simply put, it is one more example of why Hollywood’s (and audiences’) seemingly insatiable appetite for prequels, sequels, and remakes can only mean a bleak future for the industry’s “Power Five” studios. The central reason for the failure of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is its writing. While the movie’s writers and the studio did back down on the original idea for the Turtles’ origin story, the story incorporated into the story proves to be just as bad. There is also the issue of the plot. While it can be said that the movie’s plot is not necessarily as cheesy as some of the plot lines from the animated series, there is still something about this movie’s plot that makes it unbearable. And dangling the proverbial carrot in front of old school audiences in the form of references to the original animated series (and movie) hurts the movie even more in terms of the movie’s writing. It’s one more example of why having multiple people working on a single script serves only to hurt said script. This has been proven time and again in a number of works before this one. TMNT is just the latest. Just as noteworthy is the acting. Credit should e given where credit is due. The actors behind the turtles are deserving of their due respect. However, the acting on the part of lead Meghan Fox and the movie’s supporting cast falls flat. Even actor Will Arnett comes up short as April’s photog Vernon Fenwick. He had the look. And he did make a valiant effort at his portrayal. But it still came up short in the end. Those issues with the cast’s acting coupled with the issues raised in the movie’s script hurt TMNT in a major way. They still are not all that hurt the movie. Last but hardly least of all that goes against the movie is its collective look and production values. Michael Bay wasn’t at the helm of TMNT. But in watching the movie, one may as well say that he was. That is because the movie’s look and its production values are quite similar to the much maligned Transformers franchise that he previously helmed. It is the final nail in the movie’s coffin, sealing the movie’s fate and proving once more why this movie is one of the worst of 2014.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles was and is one of the best movies to leap from the pages of comic books. That is the original live action movie that debuted in 1990. This year’s new update on that modern classic is the polar opposite of that incarnation. It’s painfully obvious from start to finish, too beginning with the movie’s overall writing. The movie’s plot by itself does plenty to hurt the movie. And it all begins with the Turtles’ much mailgned origin story. Those that followed this movie from the days even before its pre-production started will recall that the origin story was going to have Leo, Raph, Don, and Mikey come in as aliens from another planet. Thankfully that didn’t happen. However, the origin story that took its place is just as problematic. That story won’t be revealed here for the sake of those that have yet to watch the movie. But it directly involves April O’Neil. And to a point, it takes a page from Sony’s latest incarnation of Spiderman. April’s revelation at her link to the Turtles’ origin story is cheesy enough. But the acting on the part of actress Megan Fox, who plays April, only serves to make that revelation even more unbelievable. The acting on the part of the cast will be discussed in more depth at a later point. For now, the focus will remain on the movie’s writing.

The origin story crafted for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is but one part of the writing that hurts this big screen reboot bust. The movie’s very plot plays its own role in the movie’s failure. The movie’s plot sees Shredder and the Foot Clan–which is made more into a pseudo militia group here instead of the old school, evil ninja group from the original movie and animated series–trying to spread a virus through New York City. In turn, they and Eric Sacks (William Fitchner) can use the mutagen that created the Turtles for their own financial gain. Yes, it’s true. In defense of this plot, those that are familiar with the original animated series, there was an episode in which Shreddder sent up a satellite-like device the changed the weather around the world as a means for him and Krang to take over the world. So keeeping that in consideration it isn’t too cheesy of a plot. There’s still something about it in the script’s writing though, that makes it not entirely believable. Speaking of the comparison between this incarnation of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and the original animated series (and the franchise’s original movie), that is yet another issue in the writing that hurts this movie.

The issues raised through the origin story and plot incorporated into Paramount’s new take on Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles both make the movie’s writing rather problematic in their own way. One can’t ignore the fact that Applebaum, Nemec and Daugherty did try to please the fans of the franchise’s original animated series and 1990 movie with constant throwback references to both. They even made sure to include the skateboards used in both properties. The issue at hand with making such references is that through the script’s previously noted problems, adding in those references essentially becomes a slap in the face to the fans that grew up with those originals. It’s the same as dangling the carrot in front of a donkey (or rabbit) only to have it pulled away for lack of better wording. Simply put, it is disrespectful to said audiences.

The writing behind the script for Paramount’s new incarnation of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is a big part of what has made this movie one of the worst of this year’s new releases. While the writing proves to be quite problematic, it is only the beginning of the movie’s problems. The work of the movie’s cast is just as problematic. Actress Megan Fox plays April O’Neil in this version of TMNT. Her reaction at discovering her role in the origin of the Turtles is awful. It is so over the top and hammy that one can only shake one’s hand. While Will Arnett deserves at least some credit for trying to properly portray Vernon Fenwick, even he comes up short. He is hit and miss at best. To the cast’s credit, the men behind the mean green machine–Johnny Knoxville (Bad Grampa, Men in Black 2, Jackass), Pete Ploszek (Parks & Rec, Shameless), Jeremy Howard (Men in Black 2, Galaxy Quest, How The Grinch Stole Christmas), Noel Fisher (Final Destination 2, Red, Battle Los Angeles), and Alan Ritchson (Fired Up, Blue Mountain State, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire) are to be commended for their work. They did quite the job of establishing the attitude and comic element for which the Turtles have been known for decades in their protrayals. Sadly the same can’t be said for the duo of Tony Shahoub (Monk, Wings, Men in Black 1 – 3) and Danny Woodburn (Mirror Mirror, Employee of the Month, Death to Smoochy). The duo partnered to bring Splinter to life. Whether it is their own work (or lack thereof) or because of how Splinter was written into the story, their portrayals did little to make Splinter really stand out at any one point in the story. So simply put, the only positives that can be pointed out in terms of the acting in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is the acting of the men that brought Leo, Don, Raph and Mikey to life. other than that, not much positive can be said of the rest of the cast’s work. It’s yet another example of why Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles comes up far short of its potential and proves in the end to be one of this year’s worst new releases.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles comes up short in so many ways. its writing is the biggest offender when examining why the movie falls short. The acting on the part of the movie’s cast is another issue. Last but hardly least of note that damaged TMNT is the collective look and production values incorporated into the movie. Michael Bay did not helm this reboot of the classic franchise. But even as a producer, his influence is blatantly obvious throughout the movie. The fast-paced shots, the giant explosions, and of course Shredder’s Transformers-esque look show just how much influence he obviously had in this movie. The only positive to it all is April’s look. The use of a yellow jacket in place of a cheesy full body jumpsuit is the only fully acceptable update to the whole thing. Other than that one positive, one might as well just say that this was another Michael Bay film despite the fact that he was only a producer instead of director. And that considered along with all of the movie’s other negatives is the final nail in the movie’s coffin. One can only hope that whenever the already-in-the-works sequel debuts, it will make up for everything that this movie got wrong. Regardless, this reboot will remain among the worst new major motion pictures of 2014.

To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it. Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Roy Orbison To Receive New Award

Photo Credit: Janet Macoska

Photo from “The Last Concert” Credit: Janet Macoska

Legendary musician Roy Orbison is gone but definitely not forgotten.  The legendary musician will posthumously receive an award from the Musicians Hall of Fame and Museum.  Orbison will be awarded the Iconic Riff Award.  The award, which is being awarded for the first time, is being awarded to Orbison for his hit 1964 song, ‘Oh, Pretty Woman.’  The song would go on to become a number one single after its original release.

Heads of the Musicians Hall of Fame and Museum said the reason that Orbison was chosen as the first recipient of the award because of the riff that opens ‘Oh, Pretty Woman.’  The song itself has been covered by countless artists. It rose to its biggest fame thanks to rock band Van Halen’s cover of the song.  It was also the inspiration for the hit 1990 rom-com, Pretty Woman, starring Richard Gere and Julia Roberts.  The song itself can even be heard in the movie’s soundtrack.

Along with its numerous covers and use in movies, ‘Oh, Pretty Woman’ the song is also included a new live concert recording from Legacy Recordings titled Black & White Night.  The DVD recording was released this week.  It was recorded in September of 1987 and includes the likes of: Bruce Springsteen, Elvis Costello, Jackson Brown, JD Souther, and Tom Waits joining the star for his hit song.

Roy Orbison is one of the music industry’s most well-known and respected names.  He started his career in 1956.  He was signed to the famed Sun Records at the time.  The label also boasted the likes of Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Johnny Cash on its roster.  It wouldn’t be until he signed a deal and recorded for Monument Records in the early to mid-1960s that his career truly took off.  The release of ‘Oh, Pretty Woman’ marked the peak of his career at the time.  The song, which Orbison co-wrote with Bill Dees, would go on to sell seven million copies and spend three weeks at number one on the Billboard Hot 100 Chart.  It also peaked at number one on the British charts for three weeks.  This was an unprecedented feat for any American recording artist at the time.  That is because The Beatles were dominating both countries’ charts at the time.

A new collection of Orbison’s hits titled The Monument Boxset will be released November 26th.  The collection is a vinyl only package that includes three of the most well-known and beloved albums that Orbison recorded during his time with Monument Records.  Those records are: Lonely and Blue, Crying, and In Dreams, which was also just recently re-issued on CD.  The new box set also includes a fourth album that had not existed until now.  The album will be centered on ‘Oh, Pretty Woman’ and will be comprised of five tracks.  The album’s songs were chosen by Orbison’s own sons, Alex, Roy Kelton, and Wesley Orbison.  Orbison’s suns have maintained their father’s legacy, running Roy’s Boys LLC, which is responsible for managing their father’s likeness, image, and musical releases.

Roy’s Boys LLC and Legacy Recordings are set to release one more live Roy Orbison concert before the year ends.  The Last Concert25th Anniversary Edition chronicles what would be Orbison’s final concert before his death in 1988.  The concert was recorded on December 4th, 1988.  That was only two days before he would suffer a fatal heart attack.  The fact that he would pass away only two days later is only part of what makes the upcoming concert so important.  Orbison commonly closed his shows with a performance of ‘Running Scared.’  But recording engineers ran out of tape that night before Orbison performed the song.  The result of that shortage is that ‘Oh, Pretty Woman’ would end up being the final number from his final ever concert.  More information on all upcoming Roy Orbison releases is available online at http://www.royorbison.com and http://www.facebook.com/royorbison.  To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Beetlejuice Season One Reminds Viewers Why Beetlejuice is The Ghost With The Most

 

Courtesy:  Shout! Factory

Courtesy: Shout! Factory

When it debuted in 1989, the Tim Burton helmed horror comedy Beetlejuice was one of the scariest, funniest, and most original movies of its time.  It wasn’t long after the movie debuted that Burton headed up an animated, kid friendly take on the movie that has turned out to be another of the best children’s cartoons of its time.  Even in only four seasons, this unlikely hit produced so many laughs both for kids and their parents who had likely seen the movie.  It has remained such a fan favorite because of its storylines and its entirely original animation style.  It also is so impressive thanks to voice actor Stephen Ouimette.  His portrayal of the “Ghost with the Most” successfully brought Michael Keaton’s character to the small screen.  His portrayal of Beetlejuice, along with the show’s writing and animation makes this another example of everything that was once right with children’s entertainment in the late 80s and 90s.  This is evident from early on in the series’ first season, which is available now on DVD.

Audiences that grew up with Beetlejuice: The Animated Series will remember this show fondly for a number of reasons.  One of the most notable of those reasons is the show’s writing.  Those that remember the movie on which this show was based remember how everything unfolded.  So they will recall that the animated series is quite different.  But that’s not necessarily a bad thing. And keeping in mind the proposed plot for a long in the works sequel to the original movie, that Lydia and Beetlejuice would be friends in the series actually makes more sense in hindsight.  Having Lydia and Beetlejuice being friends is just one of the positives to the writing behind Beetlejuice: The Animated Series.  The physical comedy and the nonsensical plots add to each episode’s comic element.  For instance, having Beetlejuice taking on a babysitting service just to earn the money to buy Lydia a gift is completely against everything that Beetlejuice stands for.  So it goes without saying that this is a solid first episode to the series.  And the jokes that Beetlejuice pulls on Lydia’s dad, Charles, and her rival, Claire Brewster make for more than enough physical comedy for viewers of any age.  Suffice it to say that the show’s writers offered plenty more for viewers to enjoy whether for the first time or the first time again.  But to discuss all of it would take far too long.  So it would be best to go on to another factor behind the success of Season One.

From the show’s writing, the next sensible point of Beetlejuice: The Animated Series to discuss is its animation. Beetlejuice: The Animated Series had its own identifying mark thanks to its animation.  As a matter of fact, the way that the show’s artists combined actual hand drawn animation with computer based animation was something that no other cartoon at the time was doing at the time.  And it wouldn’t be done again for many years to come.  It can be argued that its animation style was quite the influence behind other cartoons crafted during the late 1990s and early 200s.  A prime example of that influence is Cartoon Network’s short-lived series, Courage the Cowardly Dog.  It’s just one of a handful of cartoons that have followed suit.  And it’s very possible that without the work of the animators behind Beetlejuice: The Animated Series, these later series might not have happened.  Or at least, they might not have been brought to life when they did.

The animation and writing behind Beetlejuice: The Animated Series did so much to make this show stand out from all of the other cartoons from which kids had to choose in its original airing.  And it still does to this day.  There’s one other factor that makes it so enjoyable, even in its debut season.  That last remaining factor is the voice talent of one Stephen Ouimette.  Ouimette was the man that brought Beetlejuice to life on the small screen.  And he did quite the job of it, too.  He expertly translated the character portrayed by Michael Keaton (Batman, Batman Returns, Mr. Mom) onto the small screen, making him just as entertaining as Keaton.  From the personality, right down to the voice itself, Ouimette was showed time and again that he did his research with this character.  There was no better choice for the role, since Keaton was unable to (or simply didn’t want to) voice the “ghost with the most.”  He might have only gotten to give voice to Beetlejuice for four seasons.  But in those four seasons, he helped make Beetlejuice one of the most entertaining and ironically kid friendly characters on television.  And along with the writing and the animation, the whole show proved to be one of the best on television at the time.  It proves even today, to be one of the best even on DVD.  It is available in stores and online and can be ordered direct via the Shout! Factory store at http://www.shoutfactory.com/?q=node/217313.

To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Top 10 Major Motion Pictures Of 2012

Top 10 Movies of 2012

 

Courtesy:  Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

Courtesy: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

1.  The Artist:  While it originally made its debut overseas in 2011, it wasn’t until January 20th of this year that The Artist actually made its nationwide debut in theaters across the U.S.  Before then, only the lucky few at the big festivals got to see it.  That being the case, it should be considered a 2012 release.  So what makes it 2012’s best?  So much could be said.  At a time when so much of what Hollywood churns out is prequels, sequels, and remakes, this story—distributed by Sony Pictures—went the total opposite.  How simple and ingenious is it to make a silent film in a movie of major flash-bang-boom films?  Because the movie’s only sound is its music, viewers are forced to watch.  And the cast was force to really put on its best possible performance, rather than rely on everything else that most movies use to distract audiences from poor performances.  The music is quite enjoyable, too.  And of course, the general cinematography is just as impressive.  It all combines to make for a movie that any movie lover should see at least once.

Mirror Mirror BD2.  Mirror, Mirror:  Some of you might shake your heads at this pick.  But the reality is that this is really a fun and family friendly movie.  Both boys and girls will enjoy it as will parents.  While young Lily Collins (the daughter of superstar Phil Collins) is billed as the lead star here, it’s the dwarves who are really the story’s stars.  Their antics make for more than their share of laughs.  Though watching Prince Alcott (Armie Hammer—The Lone Ranger) put under the evil queen’s puppy love spell is pretty funny, too.  It’s obvious that this spoof of the classic fairy tale was aimed both at boys and girls.  With its mix of wit and charm, it will always be one of the best takes on the old Snow White story.

Courtesy:  Disney Studios

Courtesy: Disney Studios

3.  The Odd Life of Timothy Green:  This is another truly enjoyable family movie.  The general story is one to which any parent can relate and will enjoy because of that.  Though the concept of what happens with Timothy might be a little bit tough to discuss with younger viewers.  The beautiful backdrop adds even more warmth to the story.  And the cast’s acting makes suspension of disbelief so easy.  Sure it’s sappy, emotional, and all that jazz.  But that can be forgiven as it’s such an original and heartwarming story.       

Courtesy:  20th Century Fox

Courtesy: 20th Century Fox

4.  Skyfall:  This is where things begin to get a little bit touchy.  Skyfall is by far the best Bond flick to come along in a very long time.  That’s not to say that the previous two were bad.  But this one brought back memories of the old school James Bond that everybody knows.  It’s got the gadgets and the humor and none of the melodrama that weighed down the previous two Bond flicks.  The only downside to the movie is that it tends to drag in the final act.  Other than that, it is a nice return to form for the Bond franchise and gives hope for any future Bond films….that is at least if Christopher Nolan doesn’t get his hands on the franchise.

Courtesy:  Marvel Studios/Walt Disney Video

Courtesy: Marvel Studios/Walt Disney Video

5.  The Avengers:  The Avengers was a very nice way to cap off the build-up created by Marvel Studios with the recent bevy of comic book based movies.  It had great special effects.  Its story was simple and solid.  And the shooting was equally impressive.  Considering all the action going on, audiences weren’t left feeling dizzy to the point of wanting to walk out (or in the case of home release, just turn it off).  But like so many ensemble cast movies, it suffered from a common problem.  That problem was the movie’s run time.  Most of the characters in The Avengers had already been introduced through their own separate movies.  So there was no reason to re-introduce them all over again this time.  A lot of that extra time could have been spared.  Hopefully those involved have learned from that and will present viewers with a shorter movie in the second of the Avengers movies.

Courtesy:  Warner Brothers Home Video

Courtesy: Warner Brothers Home Video

6.  The Dark Knight Rises:  I am just as much a comic book fan as anyone else out there.  So it goes without saying that I was excited to see this movie.  It did a good job of wrapping up the trilogy.  The problem is that it did too much of a good job, as David Goyer and the Nolans tried too hard to cram everything into one movie.  Word is that this latest installment of the Batman franchise left many people checking their watches when it was in theaters.  It might have been better served to have been split up into at least one more movie because of everything added into the mix.  And having what seems to be a lack of commentary on the new home release, fans can only guess what the logic was in cramming so much into one story.  Much like The Avengers, the shooting and the special effects were great.  So it has that going for it.  But the writing was the story’s big problem.  Here’s to hoping that whoever takes over the Batman franchise next (whenever it’s re-launched) won’t make the same mistake as Christopher Nolan and company.

Courtesy:  20th Century Fox

Courtesy: 20th Century Fox

7.  Prometheus:  This semi-prequel to Ridley Scott’s hit Alien franchise was met with mixed reviews.  There seemed to be no gray area here.  Audiences either loved it or hated it.  Truth be told, it worked quite well as both a prequel and as its very own stand-alone movie.  Sure the special effects are different from those used in the original movies.  But times are different.  So viewers should take that into account.  And the shooting was just as impressive.  While it may not be as memorable as Scott’s previous works, at least audiences can agree that it’s better than the movies in the AvP franchise.

Courtesy:  Universal Pictures

Courtesy: Universal Pictures

8.  Les Miserables:  This latest reboot of Victor Hugo’s classic story of love and redemption in one of history’s darkest eras is not bad.  But it’s not great, either.  Audiences who know the stage play will thrill at how director Tom Hooper (The King’s Speech) and his staff of writers paid tribute to the stage play both in its writing and its shooting.  At the same time, Hooper tried so hard to pay tribute with his shooting style and the transitions that the whole movie felt dizzying to say the least.  The shooting and transitions felt like nothing more than a bunch of cuts from one shot to the next.  There was never a total sense of fluidity anywhere in the story.  It was almost as if despite staying true to the stage play, the script for this latest big screen adaptation was written by someone with ADHD.  Hugh Jackman and Anne Hathaway did a superior job with their performances.  But despite that, odds are that the movie will sadly be remembered more for its flawed shooting and transitions than for its award-worthy performances.  Nonetheless, it’s still a good movie for any fan of Les Miserables or for fans of musicals in general to see at least once.

Courtesy:  CBS Films/CBS Home Entertainment/UK Film Council/BBC Films/Lionsgate/Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

Courtesy: CBS Films/CBS Home Entertainment/UK Film Council/BBC Films/Lionsgate/Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

9.  Salmon Fishing in the YemenSalmon Fishing in the Yemen is without a doubt an original story.  It’s next to impossible to find anything like it out there or present.  But it suffers greatly from an identity crisis.  It doesn’t know whether it wants to be a drama, a romance, or a little bit of both.  It’s nice to see the simple message of something as simple as fishing being able to bring the world’s people together peacefully.  But it really seemed to let the romance factor get too much involved.  As a result, it got bogged down in itself.  Had it not had the romance subplot, it might have been better.

Courtesy:  Lionsgate

Courtesy: Lionsgate

10. Arbitrage:  It was once noted that three factors more than any other are the causes of crime.  Those factors are:  money, power, and sex.  Arbitrage has all three of these.  It’s an interesting movie.  And it definitely wastes no time noting the latter of the trio of factors, as it lets audiences know that Robert Miller (Richard Gere) is having an affair with another woman.  And also, Miller’s boss has a very firm talk with him early on letting him know that he knows about the financial inaccuracies that he’s causing.  It doesn’t take long to know where this story goes.  It’s something of a tried and true story.  Add in this critic’s pet peeve of movies, the “whisper scenes” and it makes for a movie that as good as it is it could have been better.  For those wondering, the “whisper scene” is exactly as it sounds (bad pun there).  The “whisper scene” is one in which actors essentially whisper throughout the scene against overpowering music to make the scene more emotional and powerful.  But put against the sudden transition to normal volume scenes (and above normal volume scenes), it becomes rather annoying as one has to constantly change the volume on one’s TV as a result of that.  It’ll be interesting to see if it gets the Golden Globe for which it was nominated.

There you have it folks.  That is my personalist of the year’s ten best major motion pictures.  You are more than welcome to share whether you agree or disagree and what your top 10 list would look like.  2013’s already shaping up to be an interesting year.  As the movies start to come out, I’ll have reviews of them, too.  To keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it or its companion page, http://www.facebook.com/pages/Reel-Reviews/381028148587141.  Fans can always keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Rom/Com update is worth its own load of laughs

Courtesy: IFC Films

How do you know when you’ve found the one?  When you look into their eyes and find yourself singing, ‘You Are The Wind Beneath My Wings.’

This is one of the key moments of dialogue between Katie (Kelly MacDonald–Disney’s “Brave”) and James (David Tennant–Doctor Who) in IFC Film’s recent rom/com take off of Cinderella, “The Decoy Bride.”  That single line of dialogue is so important because not only does it take off Cinderella, it also lifts at least somewhat from Bette Midler’s 1997 rom/com, “That Old Feeling.”  It also lifts, at least to a certain degree, from the 1990 Julia Roberts/Richard Gere rom/com “Pretty Woman.”  It’s pretty easy to see Macdonald attempting to emulate Julia Roberts throughout the movie.  “Decoy Bride” does lift from other rom/com classics, as noted.  But in its defense, the central plot of James and Lara trying to escape the papparazzi so that they can get married is a prime example of art imitating life, especially withthe recent case surrounding certain celebrities, who will remain unnamed here.  That it’s such a direct mirror of the world’s obsession with celebrities makes it worthy of its share of laughs.

The story behind “The Decoy Bride” is great fun.  Audiences who want a little more insight into the story will appreciate the cast interviews included in the special features.  Each cast member discusses being added to the film, and working together.  [David] Tennant even discusses the weather during filming.  While a rain machine was used at some points, Tennant points out how precise the people on the Isle of Man were in  predicting the weather.  Director Sheree Folkson advances that with her own discussionon how perfectly the weather played out for the entire movie. 

The Decoy Bride is in essence an update of the classic story of Cinderella.  And it does lift from other previous rom/coms.  But it still manages to make its own identity and life.  And keeping that in mind, it is worth at least one watch by any fan of the rom/com genre.

To keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news, go to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it or its companion page at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Reel-Reviews/381028148587141.  fans can also keep up with the laest entertainment reviews and news at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Mirror, Mirror’s not your parents’ Snow White story

Mirror, mirror on the wall, which Snow White Tale is the fairest of them all?  The answer there is this brand new spoof of the classic fairy tale.  This is not your parents, Disney-fied version of the classic story.  Rather, it’s a wholly tongue-in-cheek story that’s a laugh riot for the entire family.

The movie opens with Julia Roberts’ evil queen setting up the story, explaining how she came to be Snow White’s stepmother.  Is it just coincidence that in these classic stories, the stepmother is always portrayed as evil?  Random thought.  The key to remember in the story isn’t so much that Snow White received her father’s dagger.  Though it does come in to play later in the story.  But the more subtle nuance of the two moon shaped necklaces.  Roberts does a great job playing the evil queen.  America has come to know Roberts as this loveable character in every role she’s done before.  But now, audiences will love to hate her character of the evil queen.  That means that she’s doing her job, and doing it well as an actor.  So kudos to Mrs. Roberts for her role in this movie.

Of course, Roberts isn’t the only star of the movie.  One could argue that in a sense, Mirror, MIrror is another ensemble movie, considering how everything was executed.  And typically, ensemble movies don’t work.  But this one does.  Every star has their part.  And every star executes said part wonderfully, to make for plenty of laughs all the way through the story.  Fellow veteran actor Nathan Lane was hilarious as Brighton, the King…er…queen’s servant.  Kids’ll love watching his reaction as he gets turned into a cockroach, and later reaction when he finally turns back to a human.  Parents will get a kick out of the joke he makes, too, about it.  That’s not giving away too much is it?  The chemistry between Prince Alcott (Armie Hammer) and the dwarves made for plenty of funny moments, too.  And of course, there’s Snow White (Lily Collins), too.  We can’t forget her.  On another random note, she [Snow White] looks oddly like legendary actress Audrey Hepburn, especially at the story’s end.  So perhaps congratulations are in order to the makeup and costume department for that.  Snow White in this story is a great role model for young female audiences, as she’s a very self-assured, empowered character, rather than the typical damnsel in distress that most renditions present her as being.

Getting back to the dwarves. They were their own comic element in themselves.  It could be argued that they were the real stars of the movie.  Forget the dwarves that everybody recalls from the Disney-fied tale of Snow White.  These dwarves aren’t Doc, Grumpy, Bashful, etc.  But comparisons to those dwarves can be made.  These dwarves are bandits, not miners.  But they’ve got heart.  And Snow White brings it out of them without eliminating their great comedic timing.  One of them even has something of a crush on her.  That alone makes for its own share of funny moments.

One of the story’s really funny moments (Brighton being turned into a cockroach aside) is the sword fighting scene between Snow White and Prince Alcott.  Anyone who has seen The Mask of Zorro will see an instant comparison to the scene from that movie with Catherine Zeta-Jones and Antonio Banderas.  Whether that comparison was intentional or not, it’s still there.  Wolf asks Butcher if they should help Snow White.  When she knocks the Prince off his feet, butcher laughs and says he thinks she’s doing fine on her own.  That will make any viewer laugh.  There is also the scene in which the dwarves are trying to get the Prince from out of the Queen’s spell.  They don’t know what to do at first, so they try all kinds of outrageous things, from hitting him to blowing a horn, to boxing his ears, and more.  That moment will get audiences young and old alike laughing.  Mirror, Mirror has so many more enjoyable moments that one could ramble on for ages about all of them.  That having been noted, all of those moments, combined with great acting make this movie a great lead in for the upcoming Summer mnovie season.

Whether for the great acting by everyone involved, or the fanciful set designs, or the simple tongue-in-cheek manner of this movie, MIrror, Mirror is really an enjoyable movie for the whole family.  While it may be about Snow White, the main focus is spread to each member of the movie’s main cast.  That balance, combined with plenty of funny moments, makes for a movie that while it may not be totally memorable, is still a great watch every now and then for audiences of any age.