Act of Valor

moviesontv

The movie industry has become something of a whipping boy in recent years. Not only have we seen a tidal wave of articles arguing that TV has become the new place to go for real, important art in the wake of high-minded and beloved series like The Sopranos, The Wire, Mad Men, and Breaking Bad, but there has also been a ton of sentiment spreading that that movie industry is just plain out of ideas. In addition to the ridiculous amount of sequels and reboots that have filled up the Hollywood release schedule, there have also been a noticeable amount of TV shows that have been turned into feature films recently. Whether this is just an attempt to market consumers something that has a title they’re familiar with or is an admission that TV is the only medium still coming up with good ideas is arguable, but the trend is undeniable. Starting sometime in the 90s and lasting all the way to today we’ve seen an avalanche of old TV shows becoming new movies—The Addams Family, The Brady Bunch, Starsky & Hutch, Mission: Impossible, Charlie’s Angels, Miami Vice, The A-Team, The Man From UNCLE—the list goes on and on. And that’s not taking into account TV shows that made the jump to the big screen without being re-imagined, like The X-Files, South Park, The Simpsons, Sex and the City, or Veronica Mars. A string of news reports from over the weekend makes it seem like this trend could possibly be […]

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This Week in DVD

Welcome back to This Week In DVD! Has anyone seen our brother column, This Week In Blu-ray? I’m worried it may have been abducted and diddled against its will… As always, if you see something you like, click on the image to buy it. Curb Your Enthusiasm: The Complete Eighth Season Larry David’s divorce from Cheryl is finalized, and he finds himself heading for New York City after a characteristically disastrous social interaction. Typical Larry. Some viewers are unable to find the humor in David’s character and shenanigans and instead see nothing but frustration… and that’s an understandable reaction. He speaks his mind at all times, and while I don’t always agree with him I do find his complete lack of social skills refreshing and often hilarious. Plus, Michael J Fox and those damn girl scouts had it coming anyway.

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The Reject Report - Large

Happy Easter, everybody. It’s the time of year for giving, for hollow, chocolate bunnies, and for Stifler to make some crude remark just before ingesting something disgusting. That’s right, it’s time for a reunion with the American Pie crew, and, like it or not, the movie is going to come out on top. It doesn’t matter that Katniss and her Hunger Games are still shooting strong. Never mind that the 2nd biggest movie of all time is getting a 3D update. All that’s moot when it comes to the financial strength behind dick jokes and bare breasts. So grab a chair, and heat up that warm, apple cobbler, check out this week’s Reject Report, and never let go. Not like Rose, though. She totally let go.

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The Reject Report - Large

A lone film hits on a multitude of screens this weekend. The playing field is all for its amusement, and this one film appears to be holding every card in the deck. It’s not a matter of if The Hungers Games will be a success. The real question is how many records will it be breaking this weekend. The incredibly popular book series finally makes its cinematic debut, and, like the Twilight series before it, The Hunger Games is sure to take its core audience by storm. It’ll be sure to bring in audiences who aren’t familiar with the book series, as well, ensuring its place in box office history, or, at the very least, offer a strong enough debut to warrant the inevitable sequel. That’s what it’s all about, isn’t it? The franchise. Let’s take a look at how this lone wolf stacks up against all these familiar cubs.

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Culture Warrior

Editor’s Note: With Landon still celebrating Marcel Pagnol’s birthday, Cole was left to write this week’s entry. Please don’t riot. Every so often, The History Channel will play The Planet of the Apes, and it freaks me out. In recent years, the station has lost the meaning of its name completely, but a few years ago, I genuinely worried that someone would stumble upon the movie in progress, see the logo at the bottom, and be convinced that there was a time in Earth’s history that we were ruled by simians. There’s no proof, but considering that people have tried to rob banks with permanent marker all over their faces as a “disguise,” it seems possible that at least one person would be confused by a non-fiction station about our past playing a fictional movie where Moses pounded his fist into the sand in horror. Maybe there’s no real danger of that, but it still displays a certain power that movies have. They, like all stories, are how we share with each other. From person to person, from culture to culture, movies provide a certain shared sentience. A great story, told well, can transport and give insight into What It’s Like, especially in a world where photography and audio recording are relatively new technologies. The hitch is that there are still limitations to the art. The camera always lies, so even as we grasp toward understanding, it’s easy to be misled when it comes to experiences we have no personal […]

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Kevin Carr

This week, Fat Guy Kevin Carr fights a battle of wits between the stuffy and overly dramatic Oscar contenders that will be buzzing through the weekend and the genre-specific schlock that is being released with no hope of winning any sort of award at all. Before hunkering down on the couch to watch Billy Crystal time warp back into the mid-90s on Sunday, Kevin skydives into the multiplex to check out Act of Valor. Then he joins a commune to be a modern hippie while watching Wanderlust. Finally, he leaves the multiplex to stalk Amanda Seyfried and her on-screen sister because he believes he’s at least as creepy as the legions of creepy guys in Gone. Oh, and that Tyler Perry movie? He skips that with a wave of the hand and a snap of the fingers. If it ain’t got Madea in it, it ain’t worth watching!

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If you’ve been paying attention to Act of Valor’s aggressive marketing campaign, you’re aware that it’s a fictional film starring real-life active-duty Navy SEALs that aims for as much realism as possible in its depiction of their tactics and missions. That’s a fascinating concept and it’s been seamlessly executed by filmmakers Mike McCoy and Scott Waugh. Initially conceived as a training film, the picture gradually evolved into the hybrid that it is once the co-directors sold the SEALs on the project, proposing to “take Top Gun, pull Maverick out and put in the real Maverick,” as Waugh told the Los Angeles Times. But at the end of the day, this is a long-winded SEALs recruitment tool, a noble gesture that’s just not sufficient basis for a feature film. The usual cynicism with which one would greet a feature-length ad doesn’t apply because, obviously, if there’s any group that deserves this sort of heroic treatment, the SEALs are it. The worldview on display here is aggressively simplistic, of course, but the essential, elemental purpose behind the picture is a noble one — paying tribute to these soldiers who put themselves in extreme harm’s way for the rest of us.

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The Reject Report - Large

Four new movies are hitting theaters this weekend, all of them fixed with their own pros and cons. In one corner, we have Amanda Seyfried, Jennifer Aniston, and Tyler Perry. In the other corner, we have the Navy SEALs. It’s not a fair fight no matter how you look at it. All four spark with different demographics, as well, making for an interesting melting pot of genres, varying star power, and even a little bit of brand loyalty. This weekend comes down to which of these films had the best resonance with its marketing, and one of these films clearly has the edge over the others. Yes, guns and live ammunition help.

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The upcoming Relativity Media release Act of Valor looks like it could be a pretty balls-out fun time in terms of action film, but I’m sure everyone has some hesitation about one of the film’s biggest selling points: it uses active duty Navy SEALs as the cast. While that sounds badass because it is, it also sounds like a risky gamble since these guys are warriors and not necessarily actors. That fear may be allayed however, the more we get to see of the film, which looks like it’s going to be a non-stop ass kicking ride of guys killing people and blowing stuff up. When there isn’t much call for acting, only action, can you do any better than hiring real soldiers? Showing just how vital the use of actual SEALs is to the product, we were sent this featurette which illustrates something very few movies are willing to partake in: the use of live ammunition. On almost any other set, this would be an insurance and logistics nightmare, but when you’re dealing with real Navy SEALs who train with live ammunition and actually blow things up for real, rather than using flashy smoke bombs, all you have to do is point the camera in the right spot and remember to put your flak jacket on. Check out the footage and see for yourself how awesome practical bullets look on screen.

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The last time the country was (for the most part) united was when an idiot called a movie theater to complain about being kicked out for being an idiot. The time before that, it’s because we killed a guy watching a grainy television on his couch just a few miles away from a police station. Relativity Media is gambling $13m on the unifying power of the latter (and hopefully audiences will benefit from the unifying force of the former), because they’ve paid that hefty sum (plus $30m in advertising) to distribute Act of Valor – a high concept action flick featuring Navy SEALs playing Navy SEALs. According to Deadline Abbottabad, the film was scripted by 300 writer Kurt Johnstad with stunt coordinators Mike “Mouse” McCoy and Scott Waugh taking the reins as co-directors. So what’s it about? A group of Navy SEALs heading into enemy territory to save a CIA agent. There’s nothing wrong with high concept, especially since they had intense cooperation with the government and military. Expect this film to show off some heavy action and some taken-from-real-life mission sequences. The wild card here is the untrained actors. Audie Murphy played himself, and it worked out really well. However, taking pure amateurs and placing them into leading roles is always a gamble. Sure, they’re uniquely qualified for the action sequences, but that doesn’t mean the dialogue won’t go down with a chunk of salt. Then again, an action film like this doesn’t need to be Shakespeare. Or so […]

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