Zack and Miri Make a Porno

Director: Kevin Smith

Cast: Seth Rogen, Elizabeth Banks, Craig Robinson, Brandon Routh, Justin Long, Jeff Anderson, Katie Morgan, Jason Mewes, Traci Lords

Synopsis: Zack and Miri are two life-long friends living together and unable to make ends meet.   Despite having no romantic attraction to each other, they decide to make their own porno film together, after seeing how well it went for other guests at their high school reunion.

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Die Hard 4.0 – A Review by Film Nerd

Director: Len Wiseman

Cast: Bruce Willis, Justin Long, Timothy Olyphant, Maggie Q, Kevin Smith, Mary Elizabeth Winstead

Synopsis: Many years after the last instalment, Die Hard returns.    McClane gets drawn into a terrorist attack that is targeting the realm of information technology.    Given his previously well established technophobe status, the side-kick duties go to Long’s Matt Farrell, a hacker whose activities unwittingly contributed to the initiation of the chaos.

A review by Film Nerd.

There was a mix of dread and anticipation when this film was originally announced.   Sure, Die Hard is a great franchise and ripe for a fresh instalment.   But Bruce Willis has aged considerably, so could he still pull off the big scale action blockbuster.   The naysayers need not have feared, as not only is Willis still convincing in an action role, the other important half of the equation, the laconic wit, is 100% in tact.

Making technology the enemy was an inspired choice.    If anything has been evident in this films predecessors, it is that McClane has never been a fan of all the mod cons.   As such, he is placed out of his depth immediately.   Without someone guiding him through, chances are him being successful would have been implausible.    Enter hacker Matt Farrell, another great big geek boy for Long to add to his long list of similar roles.   Before even seeing the film, I realised this partnership would determine the success of the film.   Thankfully, Farrell is not just a whiney inept tag-along type.   Yes, the director does exploit the fact that these two guys are from completely different realms, but Farrell becomes a worthy companion to McClane, and steps up to the plate when it is required of him.

Olyphant also is deserving of mention.   His villain actually has some pretty interesting motives, subverting the classic terrorism or bank heist macguffins of the previous films.    His history is shrouded to begin with, but as the layers are peeled back, matters do get more interesting.   Maggie Q has little to do overall, except be an arse-kicking vixen, a role she has also played in Mission: Impossible III.   I believe she is next to appear in a renewed television series Nikita, one of the many American rip-offs of Luc Besson’s La Femme Nikita.    She does have the potential as a good actress, so this may not be a bad thing.   I would have liked to have seen her character here developed more though.   The other major cast member is Mary Elizabeth Winstead, as McClane’s daughter Lucy.   She does achieve a lot in a relatively small role, and as mentioned in my review of Scott Pilgrim, she is an actress I intend to keep watching from this point on.

From a drama perspective, the film does achieve some brief moments of depth.   More so than any of the other films to date, the script explores the implications of what it is for McClane to be a “hero”.   It is not all roses and cotton candy, that is for sure.   That said, it simultaneously explores his motivation to step up when needed.   It is an interesting angle for a franchise born in the ’80s, but it was perhaps a vital link that connects this films with the expectations of modern audiences.

On the flip side of the coin, the other important thing to mention is the action.   It is regularly over the top, and scenes of McClane hanging on to a fighter jet to avoid falling from a destroyed bridge do stretch credibility to breaking point.   If you are going to criticise the film for this though, you are clearly missing the point.   Simple fact is, Wiseman has recognised that what propelled the action in the previous films is a constant sense of fun, and the action here delivers just that.

This is a perfect film for already established fans of the film franchise, as well as being a good introduction to the uninitiated (I can see Bride of Film Nerd reading that line with a bit of trepidation… not without reason as I think I will introduce her to this film at some point).   My personal recommendation is to sit back and enjoy the ride.

4 stars (out of a possible 5)

Die Hard 4.0 on IMDB

Die Hard 4.0 on Rotten Tomatoes

Trailer [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3EUJYh32KVw]

Galaxy Quest – Alan Rickman Week

Director: Dean Parisot

Cast: Tim Allen, Alan Rickman, Sigourney Weaver, Sam Rockwell, Justin Long

Synopsis: Follows the story of a group of washed up actors that starred in the science fiction series Galaxy Quest 20 years earlier, now languishing in careers spent touring the convention circuit.   Than is of course until they are recruited by a group of aliens that have modeled their lives and technology on the “historical documents” transmitted into space from Earth.   They hope their heroes can save them from an imminent threat.

A review by Film Nerd.

This is a film that was always destined to be reviewed here on Film Actually.   As if Alan Rickman week was not enough cause, the fact that this show lovingly lampoons my favourite original cast of Star Trek means it was always going to be on my “tobe  reviewed” list without question.   I say lovingly lampoons, as though the characters do appear obvious caricatures of Shatner, Nimoy, and co, it also has a level of depth to it as well, as we learn that they are all languishing in want of something more, something that is offered to them when they climb aboard the fully functional  NSEA Protector.

Though Allen’s career was somewhat languishing post Home Improvement, aside from his Buzz Lightyear voicing duties, his Jason Nesmith just screams Shatner.   He is a character of swagger, of self-importance, who almost truly believes he is the legendary starship commander he played on-screen.   He continuously upstages his cast mates and takes all glory for himself (as Shatner at the time was often reported to be guilty of, though in his Boston Legal years I am seeing two sides to that story now).   His confidence is shattered however when he overhears himself being mocked, and sees the walls he has built around himself.   So far, so sombre.   From that point on we hit space, and the true comedy starts.   The comedy mines every Trek cliché… the red-shirted crewman that is the expendable one sure to die on the planet, the captain losing his shirt in fight scenes, no one quite sure what the female on the bridge is doing, but she sure does look good, and the character actor now more well-known for the alien crewmember he played rather than his Shakespearean background.   All very obvious comedy points, but all delightfully portrayed here.

Aside from Allen, he is strongly supported by Rickman in the Nimoy-esque role, so frustrated with being typecast he refuses to repeat his character’s catch phrase.   It is a character full of bitterness, and Rickman has always had that skill to just spit out lines loaded with sarcasm, but also with the perfect comic timing.   Perfect casting then!!   When you add sci-fi veteran Sigourney Weaver playing a very un-Ripley role as the series sex object, the juxtaposition is ripe for comedy.    The smaller roles are also delightful, with the helmsman who has no idea how to fly a real ship, the engineer unable to operate a real transport beam system, and the always amazing Sam Rockwell as the red shirt… “Crewman Number 6”.   They maintain this gag so well, even his character’s real name is just “Guy”.

This is a funny movie in its own right, with the situational comedy enough to entertain all audiences.   But for complete Trek novices, I would give this a rating of 3 out of 5.   However, knowledge of Trek-dom really brings this film to life, and being a self-proclaimed expert in that respect myself, it deserves another star.    “By Grabthar’s Hammer… by the Sons of Warvan… you shall be… avenged!”

4 stars (out of a possible 5)

Galaxy Quest on IMDB

Galaxy Quest on Rotten Tomatoes

Trailer [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X1ZUxZsUKuM]