Gerard Butler

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Movie Review: How To Train Your Dragon 2

Published June 19, 2014 by mrsrag

Starring the voices of: Jay Baruchel, Gerard Butler, Cate Blanchett, Craig Ferguson, America Ferrera, Jonah Hill, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Kristen Wiig, Kit Harrington, Djimon Hounsou.

Rated: PG. Animated.  Running Time: 1 hour 42 minutes.

 

Well, it’s been a crazy couple of weeks…my girlfriends and I went down to Key West for my bachelorette party, I then turned 30 and I’ve been entertaining a serious amount of guests.  I hope you enjoyed reading the wonderfully enlightening (and darn good) writing of our guest reviewer, Ethan.  The boys had a great time at Maleficent and they had a ton of fun writing the review together.  The Keys were awesome – per usual.  We danced up a storm, relished a libation or two and had an all round blast.  Ross and I are getting back into the swing of our routine and we took Ethan to see the sequel to one of our family favorites: How to Train Your Dragon.  We saw the first one all together and absolutely fell in love with the witty humor, heartfelt story and superb animation.  All of us were so looking forward to the second installment, but I don’t think any of us expected what we got.  It was just as good as the first one – maybe even better.

All of our favorites are back for How To Train Your Dragon 2.  Hiccup (Baruchel), his dragon pal Toothless; Stoick (Butler) Hiccup’s hard Viking father, Gobber (Ferguson), Astrid (Ferrera), Snotlout (Hill), Ruffnut (Wiig), and the wide variety of dragons.  As Maria mentioned, we all loved the first installment, and I was wondering how they planned to freshen up the encore.  Hiccup and Toothless learned to fly together, won over the village and saved the day in the original, and they do more of the same in 2, but the cast of newcomers make the sequel anything but stale.  Valka (Blanchett), Eret (Harrington) and Drago  (Hounsou) are wonderful additions to the franchise.  Maria and I were playing our favorite game of, figure out who the voice is, and she made one of the GREAT snipes of all time by guessing bad guy extraordinaire Drago was the always amazing Djimon Hounsou.  Valka was easy, but neither one of us could come up with Kit Harrington as Eret, which was a major disappointment because we love him as Jon Snow in Game of Thrones.  These three are HUGE parts of HTTYD2, and there are several  plot twists that you just don’t see coming.  There are also some seriously badass new dragons!

I hate spoilers…so there’s no way I’m going to give you details about this plot that could possibly ruin it for you.  I’ll just say that HTTYD2 was way more emotional IMO.  I was cleaning up some serious tears during a few parts.  And I think that’s why I enjoyed the movie so much.  It was very clever to age our main character Hiccup and the story aged with him.  It was a heavier plot with some very serious and thought provoking occurrences.  It had us talking on the way home, which is always a good sign.  If we get in the car and no one’s interested in recapping the jokes or storylines, then it’s usually a flop.  This was not the case with our favorite Dragon riders.  The sequel examines the dynamics of familial relationships, the obstacles of friendship and the acceptance of great responsibility.  It always pleases me when they can comingle such important principles with just plain fun.  The dragons are up to their usual tricks and we meet some really cool, new breeds.  But Toothless & Hiccup will always have a special place in our hearts, as the leading duo who started a dragon riding revolution.

Everyone has their own style and ours is, to hopefully, give you a review that informs without ruining the plot.  What’s the reason we read reviews in the first place?  There are certain movies that we, as individuals, will go see no matter what anyone writes.  Maybe you’re a fan of Star Trek, or X-Men or Brad Pitt movies.  You may hope the movie is well received, but it’s not that important.  It’s the movie you’re on the fence about, or the kid’s movie you’re not sure you want to spend the money taking the whole fam to, that you want to hear about.  And hear a solid opinion without learning that Bruce Willis is really a ghost, Charlton Heston never left Earth or that Kevin Spacey is Keyser Soze.  What you need to know is, should I go see this movie?  Wait for On Demand or the Redbox?  Or just wait until it gets to HBO.  Here’s your answer for How to Train Your Dragon 2: a resounding “absolutely yes!”  At the very least, it’s as good as the original, and the emotional journey is deeper than most of the animated fare.  One last bit of advice, a common refrain if you read MRSRAG on the regs, save the money on the 3D.  It’s already a giant, Hi-Def screen, everything looks awesome!  Spend the cash on M&M’s or Skittles or Nachos.  Even that fake, yellow plastic, melted cheese product they slather over the chips will give you more value, and you don’t need to wear glasses to eat it. 

Maria’s Rating: 4 Gummy Bears out of 5.

Ross’ Rating: 4.25 Gummies.

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Fairly Recent DVD Release: Movie 43

Published September 5, 2013 by mrsrag

Starring: Dennis Quaid, Greg Kinnear, Common, Charlie Saxton, Hugh Jackman, Kate Winslet, Live Schreiber, Naomi Watts, Anna Faris, Chris Pratt, J.B. Smoove, Emma Stone, Kieran Culkin, Richard Gere, Kate Bosworth, Jack McBryer, Aasif Mandvi, Justin Long, Jason Sudeikis, Uma Thurman, Bobby Cannavale, Kristen Bell, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Chloe Grace Moretz, Gerard Butler, Johnny Knoxville, Sean William Scott, Halle Berry, Stephen Merchant, Terrence Howard, Josh Duhamel, and Elizabeth Banks.

Rated: R. Comedy. Running Time: 1 hour & 34 minutes.

Ross and I rented Movie 43 on a whim.  We were en route to our home from cocktails & dinner.  Neither of us was expecting much at all.  I remember seeing the previews and thinking, “Wow, that’s some cast” (see above listing).  But then it fell off the radar.  And I figured, if no one is talking about it, could it really be worth watching?  The answer is: YES.  The movie makes up for any later transgression in the first skit.  Five minutes in, Ross and I were laughing so hard that neither of us could speak or breathe.  That being said, if you don’t like immature humor, skip this one and you should probably leave my blog for good.  We had no idea what to expect, but what unfolded on the screen left us bewildered, delighted and quite intrigued.  Once the movie got rolling, we realized it was a series of interconnected sketches featuring some of Hollywood’s biggest stars.  I kept asking myself, “How did they get all these people!”  There were some promising moments of hilarity & ingenuity…but taken in its entirety – this movie was bad.

I had no idea what we were in for when we rented Movie 43, but with that cast, you had to expect something decent.  I don’t know if I agree with Maria that the movie was bad.  If a movie entertains, makes you laugh or cry or feel exhilarated, I think that’s enough.  I will say the premise, an ever increasingly insane Dennis Quaid (playing a version of himself?) pitching his movie idea to a generic movie executive, Kinnear, is silly.  The “movie” is just a series of skits.  There is no way anyone could think they could make a coherent, full standing movie.  However, many of the vignettes are clever and hilarious.  None more than the first one, a first date for Hugh Jackman and Kate Winslet.  If you follow MRSRAG at all, you know that Maria and I rarely, if ever, give out spoilers, and we’re not going to do it here.  But this first skit has a shocking surprise, a side splittingly funny one that keeps on giving.  Beyond the great opener, a few of my favorites were, Liev Schreiber and Naomi Watts as parents who are homeschooling their teenaged son, complete with all of high school’s worst possible scenarios.  A girl (Chloe Grace Moretz) getting her  period for the first time.  And Terrence Howard as a basketball coach circa the 1960’s (think Pleasantville or Hoosiers) giving a pep talk to his all black team before their first game against an all white squad.  While maybe “bad” isn’t the right word to describe Movie 43, it is hard to believe the creators convinced all these “A” list actors to associate their names with it.  

It was entertaining, but at times, hard to watch.  I’m actually surprised that Ross enjoyed it more than me, since he has some difficulty with awkward humor.  I will say that Movie 43 is like nothing I’ve ever seen.  And the “A” list actors is what put some of the skits over the edge for me.  Watching these Academy Award nominees and winners act out these absurd storylines was not only amusing, but shocking.  It took me a full day to get over the movie.  I kept asking Ross, “Was that real?”, “How did they get everyone to sign on?”, “Did I drink a lot last night?”!  It is in one word: unbelievable.  There were several vignettes, most of which my partner has described, that were pure comic genius.  They must be viewed.  But if I really look at this film in its entirety, it missed the mark.  And that is truly unfortunate because it contains so much potential.  Bottom line, go rent this for a $1.27.  The belly laughs are well worth that price.

An extremely tough movie to review.  Ultimately I have to recommend that you see it.  If you’re in the mood for some raunchy, clever, original comedy, Movie 43 should get the job done.  It certainly doesn’t reinvent the wheel, and it won’t end up on your Top 20 list, but it’s not quite like anything you’ve ever seen before.  And, you will probably never see a larger collection of stars in one project.  There is one last scene I have to mention; a skit where a man is obviously going to propose marriage to his girlfriend.  “I have something I want to say.”  “Me too”, she replies.  “Ok, let’s say it together.  One. Two. Three….”  She beats him to the punch, and I almost fell off the couch!  You may want to keep some pillows handy for that one.

Maria’s Rating:  2.5 Gummy Bears out of 5. (Mostly for Jackman & Winslet)

Ross’ Rating:  3.25 Gummies.

Recent DVD Release: Olympus Has Fallen

Published August 18, 2013 by mrsrag

Starring:  Gerard Butler, Aaron Eckhart, Morgan Freeman, Dylan McDermott, Angela Bassett, Rick Yune, Ashley Judd, Cole Hauser, Robert Forster, Finley Jacobsen.

Rated: R.  Action/Thriller.  Running Time: 2 hours.

In recent years an annoying phenomenon has appeared in Hollywood, the release of movies with nearly identical subject matter, right on top of each other.  There was Deep Impact and Armageddon.  Red Planet and Mission to Mars.  The Girl and Hitchcock.  Now we have White House Down and Olympus Has Fallen.  We haven’t seen the former yet but we just rented the latter out of our beloved Redbox.  A far-fetched, action packed, predictable hostage story that I realized half way through, was just Die Hard set in the White House.  Gerard Butler is John McClane, Rick Yune is Hans Gruber.  The White House is Nakatomi Plaza, Robert Forster is the inept FBI agent that sends in the troops against our hero’s advice.  Morgan Freeman and Angela Bassett team up to form a composite of the sympathetic Sgt. Al Powell, and Aaron Eckhart plays the President but is really just Bonnie Bedelia as Mrs. McClane.  There’s a failed helicopter assault/rescue, and plenty of wise-cracking one-liners from Butler, as he McClanes through the scores of North Korean bad guys.  I loved this movie, in 1988, the first time I saw it.  Now?  Not so much.

Recently, Ross has been offering up insightful synopses of our entertainment.  He first pegged my new series crush, Ray Donovan (Showtime), as “Soprano’s West”.  And when he fixed Olympus Has Fallen as a Die Hard rehash, I knew he nailed it again.  Although, if it wasn’t for Butler’s McClanesque one-liners I would have found nearly no amusement in this flick.  Sure there are some action packed artillery scenes and tons of dramatic explosions, but it definitely didn’t add up to Die Hard standards.  It lacked Die Hard’s effortless charm.  To sum up Olympus Has Fallen in one word: forgettable.  I found myself missing the days of Butler donning a red loin cloth & ball kicking some Persian dude bellowing, “THIS IS SPARTA”.  I like to remember him at his best.  As for the other mish mash of famous faces, I saw people who I also like to remember as their past characters.  Aaron Eckhart; Harvey Dent a.k.a. Two-Face.  Ashley Judd; Dr. Kate McTiernan (Kiss The Girls)…I’d have to include Olympus co-star Morgan Freeman with this film.  He is the only man allowed to play Alex Cross.  That last line is directed at you, Tyler Perry.  Please stick to what you know – dressing up as old black ladies.

Gerard Butler is a likeable dude, and man’s man.  He disposes of the henchmen well in this movie and has some pretty cool moves.  That being said, I’ve always found him lacking as a movie star.  I did enjoy 300 and Chasing Mavericks was okay, but he is just stiff.  He doesn’t have “It”.  You can’t really define “It”, you just know it when you see it.  Tom Cruise, Tom Hanks, Humphrey Bogart, Jack Nicholson, De Niro, Pacino, Daniel Day-Lewis, Cary Grant.  You get the point.  They’re trying to make Butler a star.  They’re trying with Ryan Reynolds too, but you can’t make champagne out of lemons.  The other actors in Olympus Has Fallen don’t do much here either.  For crying out loud, Morgan Freeman just played the President not long ago in the aforementioned Deep Impact, now he’s the acting President.  Ashley Judd and Cole Hauser stop by for a cup of coffee.  Aaron Eckhart is tied up most of the movie, probably wishing he could escape entirely.  Rick Yune is okay as the head bad guy, but really he’s pretty much the evil nephew from Karate Kid 2.  And his female sidekick is a carbon copy of the Asian bad girl who gets her ass kicked by John McClane in Live Free or Die Hard.  Hell, that fourth installment of Bruce Willis’ series was ten times better than OHF.  And come to think of it, they fake blew up the White House in that one too.  Instead of renting or ordering Olympus Has Fallen, take the time to revisit any Die Hard movie, the guy in those films is a bona fide movie star.  “Yippee ki yay, Motherfucker!”  

Butler’s McClane tribute was a lame, “Let’s play a game of fuck off, you go first.”  I’m not saying I won’t use the line, it just didn’t suit Gerry.  Anyhow, OHF was a mediocre movie with a potentially decent plot that failed to execute its ideas.  There were some glimpses into clever writing, such as the relationship between Butler and the President’s son, which proves to be an asset as the boy seeks refuge during the attack.  It just seemed like something we’ve already seen, good guy is offered redemption, saves the day, blah blah blah.  In order for a story of this nature to translate, it has to find its niche.  Olympus didn’t have a niche, it just carved out a tiny little spot next to the Die Hard series.  Sorry Mike Banning (Butler’s character in OHF), but John McClane kicks your ass.

 

Ross’ Rating:  1.75 Gummy Bears out of 5.

Maria’s Rating:  2.25 Gummies.