Summer movie round-up

Toy Story 3

By Danny Shaw

Pixar has again proved it is Hollywood’s most reliable film studio by giving theatergoers another pitch-perfect film.

“Toy Story 3” might be the most epic and heartening movie this summer.

Combining that classic Pixar charm, topnotch animation, and all the characters we’ve grown to love, “Toy Story 3” masterfully takes us away from reality and back to Andy’s room.

The story takes us to more locales with more new and interesting characters than in the first two installments and it is exciting and keeps you wanting more.

More than once, my eyes had traces of tears and my stomach ached from laughter. Never have I felt such in attachment to characters onscreen– and they’re animated toys. Keep in mind, nothing in this movie exists in real life. These are actor’s voices being animated by digital imagery.

I was seven years old when the original “Toy Story” was released so I grew up with these characters. I feel a bit like a real life Andy, and now it’s time to say goodbye to my old toys.

A brilliant 10/10.



By Danny Shaw

We knew it would be on the list and so did you.

Christopher Nolan’s first film since 2008’s “The Dark Knight” proved, yet again, he is among Hollywood’s director elite. Mixing an “Ocean’s 11” heist plot with a mind-game execution similar to “The Matrix,” “Inception” comes off as exhilaratingly smart and fun.

Audience members follow a rather large cast of characters throughout the 148 minute run time, but we care the most about Leo DiCaprio’s character, Dom Cobb. He calls himself a thief. What does he steal? Secrets from the human mind while the victim sleeps.

The movie takes place in a world where we have the technology to enter and share dreams with other people.

Cobb performs “extractions,” where he enters the target’s dream and navigates his way to where the mind keeps it’s darkest, most important secrets.

He is also presumably the only person who can perform an “inception,” or the planting of an idea in a dream where when the dreamer wakes, they will have an epiphany to do something they wouldn’t normally do. In this case, plant the idea into an energy corporation CEO’s son to dismantle the father’s empire.

That might already seem like a fairly deep and woven storyline but trust me, there is so much more to the story than that. The best part is, Nolan expertly crafts it all into a cohesive, smart and easy-to-follow film.

An obvious 10/10.


Scott Pilgrim vs. The World

By Danny Shaw

Wow. Scott Pilgrim vs. The World brings forth so many expletives in front of so many adjectives. Example: Scott Pilgrim is #@%ing awesome; it was $#%! epic!

From director Edgar Wright (Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz), comes the most stylized and fun movie I’ve seen this year. It is perhaps the best video game movie, comic book movie and music movie to hit the silver screen.

Based on the comic series by Bryan Lee O’Malley, we follow Scott Pilgrim (Michael Cera) on a quest to defeat his new girlfriend’s seven evil exes, all of which seem to have super powers.

The story drifts from humorous scenes about a guy trying to hold a relationship with the girl of this dreams (literally) to highly stylized fight scenes with words “Boom!” and “Crack!” soaring through the air when a punch or fireball hits (yeah, it’s got fireballs).

Think of it like a musical; instead of random scenes of singing in between the serious stuff, a video game-ish “Vs.” drops between Scott Pilgrim and an evil ex and violence ensues. Very cool.

Another aspect worth mentioning is the fantastic soundtrack. Since a good part of the movie revolves around Scott’s band, there is quite a bit of music playing throughout the movie– quite a bit of great music. Tunes from retro video games, tracks by Beck, and original songs for Scott’s band to play litter the 113 minute run time. I found myself tapping my foot to the beats more than once during the movie.

Overall, Scott Pilgrim is for anyone who loves music, comics or games. But then again, who doesn’t?



Piranha 3D

By Morgan Hofbauer

The movie you thought would would be terrible, but wasn’t half bad.

Piranha 3D appears to be a comically terrible, ‘70’s movie remake whose audience would consist of lovers of the ‘78 original, lovers of gore, or lovers of watching a bad movie crash on the big screen.

I was in the latter group.

However, I walked out of the theater surprised because I was pleasantly spooked and generally satisfied with the film.

The 2010 remake echoes its 32-year-old original in plot: Victoria Lake, a spring break hotspot, gets disrupted when an underwater tremor releases thousands of prehistoric flesh-eating fish.

With the large number of clueless, loud, half-naked tourists, the sheriff’s department struggles to figure out a way to stop the Piranhas and evacuate the lake.

The film is a typical B movie with the usual unnecessary nudity and gore, but somehow the plotline, acting and script make it a suspenseful and worthwhile 80 minutes.

The visual effects are realistic enough, and the idea of killer piranhas is made scientifically possible, which helps the film to lose that touch of silliness. Plus the ending is hilariously ironic.

The only downfall was the B movie influence, with far more shirtless women and mangled body parts than the movie really needed. Most audience members won’t mind but I did notice a few horrified expressions.

The cast included Elizabeth Shue as the heroine sheriff, Steven R. McQueen as her teenage son, Ving Rhames as the sheriff’s counterpart, and Jerry O’Connell as a raunchy movie director drawn to the spring break atmosphere.

Christopher Lloyd even had a small role where he played the familiar slightly eccentric scientist.

Though I expected a 3/10 film, Piranha was an easy 7/10.



By Morgan Hofbauer

Though it came close to Jonah Hex and The Last Airbender, Killers takes the gold for worst movie this summer.

Starring Ashton Kutcher and Katherine Heigl, Killers was 100 minutes of chemistry-free romance, tacky action scenes, and humorless comedy, making for one bad romantic, action comedy.

The plot follows a young woman, recently dumped, on vacation with her parents in Nice, France. She meets the perfect man, who unbeknownst to her is actually a C.I.A. agent, and they are quickly married. Their marriage struggles as they find out their neighbors are actually assassins trying to kill them.

So much in this movie fell hard and flat.

The biggest let-down were the two stars’ performances. Kutcher’s depended mainly on his looks and seldom quips while Heigl just looked awkward. There were moments where it seemed like Kutcher was just a little boy playing dress-up as a secret agent, with the clothes, car, and typical spy music.

The plotline already sounded reminiscent of Mr. and Mrs. Smith but was also either completely predictable or over-the-top unrealistic. The script was both boring and humorless.

Robert Luketic, the director, should have stuck with the trend from his previous movies instead of this attempt at mixing action with the typical romantic comedy. His other films included Legally Blonde, Monster-in-Law, and The Ugly Truth.

Killers indeed deserves the lowly rating of 2/10.