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Louis-Dominic Parizeau

What Happens in Vegas Mini Review

N&D Score: Double Smack in the face
MetaCritic Score: 36



Nissa

What Happens in Vegas should have stayed in Vegas and not inflicted its effort at a romantic comedy onto the masses. It starts off rocky and doesn’t get better. The bickering banter between Cameron Diaz and Ashton Kutcher is staged and annoying, the litigation that sentences them to 6 months of hard marriage is preposterous and the tag along friends are only mildly funnier than the leads.

Do yourself a favour and leave What Happens in Vegas on the shelf of your video store and then give yourself a smack in the face for even considering renting it;)

*****


Dom


It's on my top 5 worst movies of the year list... And it's a strong contender for the first place.

I'm giving it a double smack in the face, so with Nissa, it's basically a triple smack in the face...

****

Lately, we've had complaints about the poor quality of movies we review, and I tend to agree. We'll try to improve in that area in the next couple of weeks. :)

Tropic Thunder Review

N&D Score: High Five + Smack in the face
MetaCritic Score: 71



Nissa

Hahahahaha, that surmises my state while I watched Tropic Thunder, it’s a comedy that actually made me laugh the whole way through…I know, I was surprised too. I knew things were off to a good start when Dominic actually thought that the faux trailer for Scorcher VI, starring Ben Stiller’s character Tugg Speedman was for a real movie and that it looked, and I quote, “sick!”…that in itself had me chuckling incredulously right from the get go. Hahahahaha.

Let’s just start by saying that this movie is totally raunchy and offensive but it is so heavily doused with satire that you end up letting it slide. The premise is that the cast are big time actors on the set of an over budget Vietnam war epic that is spiralling downwards quickly. To scare good performances into his actors the director, aptly named Damien Cockburn, brings his pampered cast deep into the jungle to film guerrilla style.

As I mentioned Stiller plays Tugg, a panda loving, muscle bound action star with a preciously frail ego who’s venture into the dramatic by playing a retarded boy/man called “Simple Jack” (yes, they use the word retarded) has essentially ruined his career.

Stiller is funny but it is Robert Downey Jr. that steals the show as the “Oscar winner” Kirk Lazarus. I love the part where he tells Tugg that he committed career suicide by going “full on retarded” for Simple Jack. R.D. Jr gives an all out performance and is hilarious as a white dude playing a white dude playing a black dude?!...did I get that right? He made the movie for me.

Jack Black is his usual crazy eyed self as Jeff Portnoy, an actor who has made his way by dressing up in fat suits and making fart jokes (sound familiar?).

Unless you’ve been stranded on a desert island for the past few months you probably know Tom Cruise also makes a cameo. I am not a Cruise lover by far but Cruise’s turn as the asshole movie producer Less Grossman is pretty freaking funny, he’s almost unrecognizable…maybe that’s why I liked it.

I’m giving Tropic Thunder a surprising, raunchy but funny high five.

*****
Dom

Scorcher 6 Global Meltdown was going to be the movie of the year for me : what a disappointment! (The "Who left the fridge open?" line was my catch phrase of the week!)

Seriously, I like over-the-top Ben Stiller movies (Zoolander). I like Ben Stiller's quirky, humorous, kind-of-realistic movies (Meet the Parents). But Tropic Thunder just falls in-between: it lets you think you’ll get a bit of realism but then throws you out in first degree, easy and cheesy jokes.

Tropic Thunder is about 3 big actors wanting to shoot a war movie. At the beginning, you see the shooting of one of its scenes: it’s supper cheesy and it’s perfectly OK like that. But Tropic Thunder itself turns out as dumb and impossible as the movie they’re shooting!

My opinion might also have to do with the fact that the movie doesn’t let you care about any of the characters. There’s just too many of them (Tom Cruise, Matthew McConaughey, Ben Stiller, Jack Black, Robert Downey Jr., Nick Nolte, etc.) to make a coherent and engaging movie. All actors have there genius moments (especially Tom Cruise) but it would have been better as sketches, not as a feature length film...

Tropic Thunder is still entertaining but did not win me over. It’s a smack in the face.

Batman, The Dark Knight Review

N&D Score: Double High Five
MetaCritic Score: 82



Nissa

Well, what can I say? The latest installment of the Batman franchise lives up to its hype. Now, I am not typically a Batman enthusiast, I can’t say that I really enjoyed Batman Begins, but after seeing The Dark Knight I’m jumping on board. The Dark Knight feels like a “real movie”, not just some silly comic book adaptation, and puts all previous Batman attempts to shame.

The entire cast delivers, most notably of course is the late Heath Ledger’s take on the Joker. I’m going to jump on the posthumous Oscar nod bandwagon and say Ledger is entirely deserving of a nomination and maybe even a win. I loved his performance, from his first appearance on the screen he had me hooked, for those of you who have already seen it; wasn’t the Joker’s stint as a nurse amazing good fun? Christian Bale, Michael Cain, Morgan Freeman and Gary Oldman are all back and seem to have stepped it up since Batman Begins…or maybe it’s just the better script. I liked the addition of a spunky Maggie Gyllenhaal who replaced to brutally bland Katie Holmes and Aaron Eckhart is fantastic as the good guy politician who turns bad, although his two-face kind of grossed me out a little.

The movie is gloriously cgi free and is beautifully shot and there are some really impressive scenes. I didn’t see the movie in IMAX but I don’t think I was short changed. I’ve read so many reviews of The Dark Knight that it’s hard for me to write without feeling like I’m ripping someone else’s article off but in short it’s a great entertaining summer blockbuster.

I'm not usually a fan of the huge summer blockbuster but TDK delivers, you won't be dissapointed...It’s a definite high five for me.

*****

Dom

The Dark Knight is the most action packed movie I’ve seen in a very long time. At the first, I regretted not seeing the movie in IMAX but oh boy, my eyes got their moneys’ worth. They could have made like 3 movies out of this… it kicks some serious butt.

Since almost everybody has seen this Batman movie, I prepared something different for the occasion. Here's my top 5 and worst 5 moments:

[Spoiler Alert] This review is best suited for people that saw the movie so for others, you’ve been warned

The Dark Knight: Top 5 best moments
  1. Bruce Wayne entering a restaurant (in which it takes weeks to get a table) with his Russian ballet star dancer saying he wants to put two tables together. Then Dente explains it probably won’t be possible as the restaurant is already packed. But Bruce responds: “don’t worry, I own the place...” Bad-ass
  2. The bank robbery at the beginning of the movie where the Joker orchestrates the killing of his robber team one by one, on the spot, to keep the money to himself. Genius
  3. All the scenes where the music stops and all your hear is that slowly increasing buzzing sound. I almost forgot how fun that was
  4. When the joker, dressed in a nurse uniform, washes his hands with disinfectant soap just before blowing up the hospital. I just wet my pants
  5. Joker's magic pencil trick. Ta da!

The Dark Knight: Top 5 worst moments
  1. Using cell phones to create a city wide sonar map and have Morgan Freeman decried civil liberty rights. WTF?
  2. The cell phones that discharge some kind of electric magnetic pulse bomb wiping out every electronic equipment Hong Kong's skyscapers. Oh come on!
  3. Having commissioner Gordon figure out all of Harvey Dente'S kills while supervising the boat mission and getting his family rescued. It's all going a little too fast, no?
  4. Getting Batman to act as the fall guy for Dente's crimes. Can’t you put it all on the Joker for god sakes?
  5. The Harvey Dente transforming into two face… Go to therapy man...
Yeah, some scenes sucked (mostly at the end), but I give this extreme piece of entertainment a unilateral & unequivocal high five.

21 Review

N&D Score: Double Smack in the face
MetaCritic Score: 48



Dom

Ben Cambell is a math genius looking to finance the 300 000$ needed for his medical school. His opportunistic/crook teacher sees his potential and invite him in an "after school club" that includes going each week-end to Las-Vegas to count cards at BlackJack.

The subject is extremely interesting but the movie falls short. The problem is that even though 21 is based on a true story, it's written Hollywood with a capital H all over it (Ok, it's not that bad, so let's say a capital H in a funky font). It's predictable (we all knew that his "life experience" for his scholarship was going to be BlackJack...) and some scenes are not very believable (who hides 300 000$ in his university bed room?).

Don't get me wrong, this film is not boring and will greatly entertain you. I love movies that make you dream and this one delivers, no doubt. But when I say "oh common!" more than 5 times during a movie, I have no choice but to keep it real for the nissaanddom.com 3 visitors a day ;)

21 had the high five well in reach, but missed the hand and got a smack in the face.

*****

Nissa

Since I have a crush on Jim Sturges I rented 21 with high hopes, ok not super high but I was hoping for a decent distraction…sorry to say but you Sturges fans out there will be disappointed, I kept wishing for him to switch over to his Brit accent I was so fond of in Across the Universe (high five!).

Sturges’ character Ben is recruited by one of his professors, played by Kevin Spacey, who has long past his heyday of The Usual Suspects and La Confidential (both high fives too by the way), to join a group of math brains who live a double life and spend weekends high rolling in Vegas.

Kate Bosworth is cute and is ok as Ben’s love interest, maybe it was my crush rearing its jealous head but I did not want or care if the two hooked up. Lawrence Fishburn is also part of the cast playing a casino security head with an axe to grind, they could have cast any big surly dude in this role and it wouldn’t have made a difference.

Of course things go wrong, Ben ditches his nice guy nerd buddies, lies to his mom and crosses the professor’s #1 rule, I won’t spoil it for you but you’ll see it coming from a mile away…trust me. 21 is also chalked so full of blackjack counting jibber jabber that I just felt stupid for not knowing how to count cards.

You would think that the story of some genius MIT students making millions by card counting at blackjack in Vegas would make for an interesting movie but 21 is so predictable that it just seems like they didn’t even try to throw in any surprises, in the end I was just frustrated that this wasn’t a better movie than it was.

Sorry Jim, I still love you but it’s a smack in the face for me.

Ps. You’d think a genius would find a better hiding spot for his money…

Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay Mini-Review

N&D Score: Smack in the face & High five
MetaCritic Score: 57



Dom
This is a stupid movie, but one laughing at American preconceptions & stereotypes. It's not Harold & Kumar that are stupid but rather the people surrounding them. And it makes ALL the difference.

From a redneck with a designer house to president Bush smoking weed; it doesn't get boring one bit.

Tons of weed and nudity but more importantly, tons of laughs; it's a high five for me.

*****

Nissa

No comments...

In Bruges Mini-Review

N&D Score: Double smack in the face
MetaCritic Score: 67



Nissa

In Bruges is a weird mess and not an enjoyable one at that. I never really quite knew what kind of film I was watching and couldn’t get into it, plus Colin Farrell got on my nerves.

Since I kept drifting in and out and wondering how long it was, it’s a smack in the face for me.

*****

Dom

I feel like this is Colin Farrell's best performance ever (Ralph Fiennes is also brilliant). But it's still not enough to save this slow paced and akward dark comedy. Some scenes are worth remembering and I can understand the relatively good reviews (it's a well written film) but I just didn't get into it.

Sorry, it's a soft smack in the face.

The Other Boleyn Girl Review

N&D Score: Double smack in the face
MetaCritic Score: 50


Nissa

I was bored with Phillipa Gregory’s book The Other Bolyen Girl so why wouldn’t I be bored with the movie? Well, as it turns out, the movie is even duller than the book.

The story of Henry VIII and the Boleyns has potential, I mean it’s full of lust, sex, betrayal, incest, treason, the destruction of the Catholic Church in England…considering the material this movie could have been quite spicy. There is more of all of the above in just one episode of the t.v. series The Tudors.

I didn’t believe in any of the characters in the movie even though I like all of the actors they all seemed miscast. Scarlett Johansson seemed out of place as Mary, her sultry side was totally played down in an effort to make her seem innocent and sweeter, to me it just seemed like a waste, I would have enjoyed seeing her as Anne instead. Nathalie Portman’s acting talents also seemed wasted in her role of Anne, I mean this is supposed to be the girl who changed the face of England forever and there was barely enough conniving to believe that Anne was even capable of changing what was on the dinner menu for a night much less seduce the king of England into the complete upheaval of his kingdom.

What about Eric Bana as Henry? He just did not do it for me, I mean Bana just seems like to nice and rational a guy to play a king who sacrifices everyone and everything for the sake of a women. Where was the torrid and tempestuous love affair? Nowhere to be found. Whatever they were selling I wasn’t buying.

I’m giving it a smack in the face; seriously don’t bother, if you’re interested in the subject matter give The Tudors a try instead.



Guest writer: Josiane Ochman

If there’s one word to aptly describe The Other Boleyn Girl, that word is nice. Nice location, nice, if a trifle overdone, costumes, nice leads, nice feelings, nice audience or maybe not so nice after all judging from the tepid reception it got.

Unfortunately the word nice when the subject is a lusty King with a raging libido amounts to one gigantic bore. There is absolutely no tension in the story of Henry the VIII’s ferocious pursuit of Anne Boleyn. After all he did break away from the Catholic Church, a huge undertaking of long lasting consequences, in order to possess her.

The movie suffers from another mistake, the kind you can’t recover from. It is horribly miscast. Eric Bana in the lead role exudes very little menace or charisma. Scarlett Johansson has to tone down her sexuality in order to appear meek and compliant whereas Natalie Portman can’t convey the seductress temptress charm and intelligence she would need in order to land a kingdom.

It’s all so incredibly banal and tame. This is a bodice ripper par excellence, all the necessary ingredients are there, yet the sex scenes are chaste and discreet. The characters’ plight, as tragic as it was, left me cold and yearning for the ending which mercifully came with Anne’s timely death.

The only friction was that of my jaw trying to stifle one big yawn, it’s a definite slap; you might need a couple to stay awake.

10,000 B.C. Review

N&D Score: Double smack in the face
MetaCritic Score: 34


Guest writer: Josiane Ochman

Let's compare 10,000 B.C. to Apocalypto: one is an inept piece of flotsam barely alive on the screen while the other pulses with vitality and energy. While the story may be similar in both movies, that’s where the similarity ends. If you guessed 10,000 as being dead on arrival on the screen and Apocalypto as the larger than life canvass you would be right.

Roland Emmerich, director of 10,000 may dream big but the dream stays in his head and never translates to the screen. I didn’t care one iota for any of the characters and their names only barely registered at the end when I roused myself long enough to look up some additional bonus segments where the names of the main actors’ characters were finally spelled out as D’Leh and Evolet. The woolly mammoths’ scene was the only marginally good thing about the movie while the rest remained vacuously inert. This is the kind of movie where you can absent yourself for whole scenes confident that upon returning you won’t have missed a thing.

A big yawning bore and a definite smack in the face, maybe even two if you can muster the energy.

[You’re intrigue by the genre but don’t want to endure 10,000 B.C.? Try Apocalypto by Mel Gibson. Here’s a bonus review by Josiane!]



Apocalypto, although drenched in gore, Gibson appears to have a strong, atavistic fondness for blood, is the real deal. From the very first frame, with a few brush strokes, you enter the story head on. You believe in this world wholeheartedly but more than that you care deeply about the characters and their fate. You want Jaguar Paw to succeed in order that he may rescue his wife and child. Apocalypto lavishes on the details. No effort is spared to shed light on this ancient Mayan world with all its wonders, brutality and contradictions.

In addition Apocalypto is a glorious chase movie with, given the period, not one gun or one car in sight. It’s blessedly refreshing and invigorating. I could point out a few historical inconsistencies, the arrival of the Spanish at the time when the Mayans were imploding, being one of them, nevertheless it’s too good a movie to miss and this criticism does not diminish the overall accomplishment. Apocalypto deserves a definite high five.

[Sorry Josiane, but bonus high fives don’t count!]


Dom

10,000 B.C. is exaclty what you think it is: an Americanized cheesy epic movie. I give props for costume and special effects, but everything else is not really memorable.

It's the story of a tribe that gets most of its people kidnapped for slavery by a more advanced civilization building pyramids. An unaccomplished young member of the tribe will try to save them (including, obviously, his love interest)...

Ok, I don't have much to say about it. Just don't rent it. Rent Apocalypto instead.

10,000 B.C. is Apocalypto for pussies. It's a smack in the face.

Wanted Review

N&D Score: Double high five
MetaCritic Score: 64


Nissa

Wanted made me want. I wanted to be Angelina Jolie and be able to drive a car with my legs while shooting backwards through the windshield…ok, so it’s Angelina’s character Fox who does this but do you ever really forget that is Angelina up there? No. I even wanted to be James MCavoy’s Wesley, an anxiety ridden accountant who hates his life and suddenly discovers he had the god given talent to be a ruthless assassin. Why? Because they made it look pretty damn cool.

I found myself so caught up in the actors that I didn’t even care about the plot or the script…the assassin/weaver guild reads the names of their next targets off a magical, ancient loom? Why not? I was a believer. Leave your questions and disbelief at bay and you’re in for an entertaining ride.

I’m giving it a entertaining, summer action flick high-five.

Nissa Party Video Comment


*****



Guest writer: Josiane Ochman

Wanted the first American film directed by Russian wonderkind Timor Bekmambetow is one of those take no prisoners action flick which pulverizes everything in its path to a fine dust. There is no subtlety involved here although it’s easy to understand how Night Watch a Russian vampire film directed with the same visceral energy by Bekmambetow became one of the highest grossing Russian films of all time.

In Wanted existential questions be damned. Angelina Jolie is Fox, a ruthless assassin, who kills only the bad guys whose names are delivered, rather cryptically, via an ancient loom to the Weavers a secret society entrusted with the loom’s ancient secrets. Yes it’s that silly but the beauty of Wanted is that you don’t really care just how silly it is. You want to see Jolie and McAvoy; transformed from mild meek accountant into an efficient killing machine; kick butt and kick butt they do.

With less charismatic actors I would have been unable to gloss over the intense silliness of the script. The action scenes are delivered with enough panache to pummel you into submission. Submit I did so this deserves a breezy high five.

Josiane Party Video Comment (sorry for the poor video quality!)

The Spiderwick Chronicles Review

N&D Score: Double smack in the face
MetaCritic Score: 62


Nissa

What was I expecting from The Spiderwick Chronicles? Not much…and that’s exactly what I got. The story could have been magical and engrossing, there was potential there…but it wasn’t. The characters could have been weird, exciting and worth getting attached to…but they weren’t. The whole movie just felt flat; there was just no oomph to it.

When I think back to the movies of my childhood in the same genre, The Neverending Story, Labyrinth, The Dark Crystal, I remember being completely engrossed by the stories and fanciful characters, there was not even an echo of this in the Spiderwick Chronicles. I just didn’t care. Is it because I’m too old? I don’t think so.

I’m giving it a smack in the face…meh, it’s a boring kid’s movie that I don’t even think the younger folk will enjoy or remember in a few years…scratch that…a few weeks.

*****



Dom

The Spiderwick Chronicles begins with the usual single-mom New-York family starting a new life into an old house somewhere in the country side. The plot unfolds when one of the twin boys discover a never-to-be-opened book hidden in a clandestine room. This book apparently contains secrets of an enchanted world; secrets that if were to fell in the wrong hands (namely Goblins and their big monster boss, which we see in his human form -Nick Nolte- for about 2 minutes), the world as we know it would end. Bla bla bla… As it already happened to me with another “Chronicles” movie (Narnia), it’s at this point that I realized: damn it! It’s a kids movie!

The problem is that we don’t really care about the book; the movie makes it hard to believe that the secrets contained in it could do much harm. You’ll see entertaining, creepy and funny CGI creatures but it lacks the grand scale of Narnia and it’s cheesier. Ultimately, I found the movie boring. [Spoiler Alert] Oh by the way, “Spiderwick” is the name of a guy, nothing more…

Sorry, but it’s a smack in the face.

Rambo (4) Review

N&D Score: Tie (smack in the face + high five)
MetaCritic Score: 46


Nissa

The fourth instalment of Rambo is all about flying body parts, veins and mono syllabic dialogue. Rambo, rippling with veins and looking a little long in the tooth after all these years, has been hiding out in Northern Thailand pondering his existence and wrangling snakes in his spare time. He’s bitter, hates himself and has chosen a solitary life of exile, his one therapeutic release is in his shop working metal and making propellers for his boat, because Rambo was apparently a blacksmith in his past life.

Cut to the chase and he ends up bringing some American missionaries up river in his boat to war torn
Burma. Of course he puts up a fight in the beginning urging the na├»ve missionaries to “go home” but cut to the next scene and we see Rambo cruising up river with them. You can guess what ensues, things go wrong and limbs come off. I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many arms, legs and heads shot off, my personal fave was when the R-man rips off one of the bad guy’s throat with his bare hands. There’s a mercenaries, more guns and bombs, more body parts flying and a big showdown.

It all just seems too easy and although I was mildly entertained it lacked the adrenalin rush I was looking for. Rambo is not for the faint of heart but if you’re a hardcore B-movie action fan that this picture is for you, it’s quick dirty and to the point.

I’m giving it a hesitant smack in the face only for its lack of surprises.


*****

Dom

Let’s be honest, I wasn’t expecting much from Rambo 4. But it came out not half bad.

The movie starts with Rambo capturing snakes in Thailand (which is apparently a hub for steroids) when Dexter’s girlfriend and a group of doctors/evangelists ask him for a boat ride into Burma. The rest is basically what you'd expect from a Rambo movie.

Sly skimmed the cheese in this one: not only it’s short (1:20) but I felt it was a lot less cheesy than the previous ones. With its crude, gory action sequences (think fracturing legs & a ripped off throat with bear hands) and no non-sense ‘twist-less’ plot, the movie has more realism than you almost wish for.

But in the end, Rambo 4 is an honest straight forward good old action movie during which you won’t feel embarrassed one second. I give it a shy high-five and the award for the most kills with a single machine gun.

PS: Blu-Ray rocks!