The Couch Potato Report – January 7th, 2012
Inside this week’s Couch Potato Report is a movie that might make you feel sick, sharks, dolphins and Sid & Nancy.
Welcome to an all-new year, movie lovers!! Starting off 2012 is a movie you might love…but make sure you wash your hands both before and after seeing it!!
If you get sick easily and always seem to catch something the minute anyone around you comes down with a cough or cold…then you should definitely stay away from the release from director Steven Soderbergh – who also gave us the Academy Award winning films ERIN BROCKOVICH and TRAFFIC.
CONTAGION is a medical thriller disaster film that follows the rapid progress of a lethal virus that is quickly spreading around the world.
As it spreads, the global medical community races to find a cure and control the panic that is spreading faster that the virus itself.
CONTAGION is a smart, entertaining, intelligent and informative film with a great ensemble cast including Oscar winners Marion Cotillard, Matt Damon, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Kate Winslet, along with Laurence Fishburne, Jude Law.
This isn’t your average thriller…at times it slows down to allow us to get to know some of the characters…but I enjoyed it and I recommend it…except to germaphobes who might want to avoid it at all costs.
For you, this movie will make you feel worse!!
Something for the pre-teens among us now, as we head to sunny Clearwater, Florida for DOLPHIN TALE…a movie inspired by the true story of Winter, a bottlenose dolphin who was rescued after becoming entangled with a rope attached to a crab trap.
She ended up losing her tail and had to be fitted with a prosthetic one in order to survive.
DOLPHIN TALE is also a people tale as it introduces us to a young boy who isn’t doing well at school and doesn’t have many friends. His story is okay, but it is some of the other human stories that prevent me from recommending the movie to everyone. There are just too many human tales, and they often come at the expense of the dolphin and boy’s tales and the story of the boy’s new girl friend…friend who is a girl…who is working with him to try and save Winter.
In the end, DOLPHIN TALE is a likeable movie that is never great, but I think some pre-teen kids might like it a lot.
We stay in the water now, but move from sweet, kind and gentle dolphins to mean, nasty, killer sharks!!
SHARK NIGHT is a by the numbers horror thriller about a group of university students who encounter sharks while spending a weekend at a remote lake house in the Louisiana Gulf.
There have never been sharks there before…but they are definitely there now!
When it comes to a movie like this I never expect them to be as good as JAWS, and SHARK NIGHT is nowhere near as good as JAWS, the computer generated fish all look fake, but it has some cool horror film deaths and a couple of unique twists…so I recommend it to horror thriller fans who aren’t expecting much.
And if you are a horror thriller fan who doesn’t expect much from your movies…I have a trio of them for you right now…starting with one that has a great premise, but the result is an awful film!!
Made-in-Vancouver APOLLO 18 is another in the found footage genre and it is about decades-old footage from NASA’s abandoned Apollo 18 mission, where two astronauts were sent on a secret expedition to the moon.
The tagline for this one is: “There’s a reason we’ve never gone back to the moon.”
I still think the premise of APOLLO 18 would make a great movie, but this is not a great movie. There is some really cool stuff in it, but ultimately it is just a really bad movie.
Even if you expect noting from horror thrillers, you are bound to be let down by it!
The second flick you shouldn’t expect too much from – and you might enjoy it – is the exceptionally creepy remake of the 1973 film DON’T BE AFRAID OF THE DARK.
This version stars Katie Holmes and Guy Pearce as a couple who are renovating one of this big, old, haunted looking mansions that people are always moving into in films like this.
His eight-year-old daughter is sent to live with them and she soon discovers the little creatures who share their home…and they want her to become one of them!!
DON’T BE AFRAID OF THE DARK is never awful, it is a well made and acted flick, but it is really boring for long stretches of time, and the kid isn’t entirely sympathetic. It is just a standard horror thriller.
The best of the three horror thrillers this week that you shouldn’t expect too much from is the latest in the FINAL DESTINATION series…where a group of people die in a series of elaborate, invariably fatal and often gory scenarios after cheating death.
This is FINAL DESTINATION 5!!
This one was also made-in-Vancouver and in it the survivors of a suspension-bridge collapse learn there’s no way you can cheat Death…or is there?!
It is not great in any way, but FINAL DESTINATION 5 is entertaining, for what it is. It works because it finds interesting ways to off the cast, they don’t always die in the manner you think they might. Instead, there are elaborate well thought out scenarios that come up…and as a viewer, I appreciate the writing and planning that went into them.
Don’t expect too much going in, and maybe you’ll enjoy it too!!
This next release is THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON of the television series SHAMELESS. The great William H. Macy from FARGO plays a single father of six children who is struggling to make ends meet …but before you start to think that it sounds compassionate and warm, it is not.
Macy’s Frank Gallagher is an unemployed man who spends most of his time drunk and passed out or drinking and well on his way there, and the kids have to take care of themselves…and that includes finding enough money to pay the bills and buy food, by any means necessary.
SHAMELESS is populated by characters that aren’t all likeable, you won’t root for all of them, but you will want the majority of them to succeed…and that is why the show succeeds, because it makes you care about people whose primary motivation is to not do right, but to do whatever it takes to survive and stay together as a family.
I never loved THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON of SHAMELESS, but most of the time I really did like it.
This is a show for people looking for something different.
Also different is Sterling Archer, on paper he is the world’s most suave and dangerous spy, but in the world created for the adult spy comedy ARCHER he is a mama’s boy doofus who is incredibly self-centered…yet somehow he always manages to get the job done and keep the world safe.
The two-disc set for ARCHER – THE COMPLETE SEASON TWO offers up another raunchy season of international espionage, combined with some inter-office intrigue and fun. It is a show that is edgy and interesting and I continue to enjoy it and recommend it.
I also recommend a coming of age flick that was originally released in 1985 called MISCHIEF.
MISCHIEF is set in 1956 and introduces us to Jonathan, a shy guy whose luck with girls changes when he becomes friends with bad boy Gene in his last year of high school.
Gene – not unlike Fonzie – is adored by girls and helps Jonathan get the girl of his dreams!!
I saw MISCHIEF when it first came out and I have always liked it. If you grew up in the 80s…or are a fan of Kelly Preston, Terry O’Quinn, Edmonton’s Catherine Mary Stewart, Doug McKeon or Jami Gertz…they are all part of the young cast in the film.
I like this one!!
One film from the 1990s that I love…absolutely adore and love is 1991’s ONLY THE LONELY starring the late, still great John Candy.
Written and directed by Chris Columbus and produced by the late John Hughes ONLY THE LONELY stars Candy as a shy Chicago Police Officer who still lives with his elderly Mother, played by screen legend Maureen O’Hara.
His whole world is turned upside down – in a good way – when he meets and fall in love with a shy woman who works in a funeral home…played by Ally Sheedy.
ONLY THE LONELY features beautiful performances from Candy and Sheedy, and it is one of my all-time favourite films.
It is a small, nice and romantic film that I easily – and very highly – recommend!! If you have never seen it…search it out!!
It has been almost eighteen years since we lost the great John Candy, and he remains Canadian Comedy Royalty.
British Royalty – actual Royals are featured in what I have for you now…a documentary called THE WINDSORS – FROM GEORGE TO KATE
This 106-minute documentary features archival film footage and stills from nearly a century of official events, including include the Silver Jubilee of King George V from 1935, the 1947 wedding of Princess Elizabeth to Prince Philip; the 1953 coronation of Elizabeth II; the 1981 wedding of Charles, Prince of Wales, and Lady Diana Spencer; and much more!!
Sadly, THE WINDSORS – FROM GEORGE TO KATE is more factual than entertaining…there is lots and lots of detail, but no real emotion until they get to the announcement of Prince William’s engagement to Catherine Middleton.
But I still enjoyed it, especially some of the really old footage of The Windsors, and I know that all Royal Watchers will love it.
It is BLU-RAY BEACON time now…time for a look at the latest releases in High Definition on Blu-ray, and Sylvester Stallone’s EXTENDED DIRECTOR’S CUT of the all-star action film THE EXPENDABLES leads the way!!
Stallone’s 2010 action film is about a team of mercenaries for hire who are hired to kill corrupt military leader and a rogue CIA operative on a Latin American island.
The all-star cast includes Jason Statham, Jet Li, Dolph Lundgren, Eric Roberts, Randy Couture, Steve Austin, Mickey Rourke, and in one scene Bruce Willis and then California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger!
The EXTENDED DIRECTOR’S CUT of THE EXPENDABLES adds ten minutes and doesn’t really change what was already a very good action film.
But it did give me the excuse to watch it again…and I am cool with that!! THE EXPENDIBLES 2 hits theatres this August, and until then…enjoy the first one!
Finally this week, the 1986 biopic about the punk rock Romeo and Juliet – Sid Vicious of the Sex Pistols and his girlfriend Nancy Spungen.
This is SID AND NANCY!!
SID AND NANCY is a loud and unapologetic film that doesn’t pull any punches in its depictions of the two drug addicted lovers. It never imagines the lives that could have been lead had they not met, it just shows what happened since they did…all with a punk rock soundtrack…and they are played perfectly by Gary Oldman and Chloe Webb.
SID AND NANCY is being released on Blu-ray for the first time in what is being called a COLLECTOR’s EDITION…yet it doesn’t include any new features, and that is disappointing, but they movie isn’t.
It is a spectacular film about two people who crashed and burned and as a fan of biographies and music, I will always love it!
The punk rock classic SID & NANCY, the EXTENDED DIRECTOR’S CUT of THE EXPENDABLES, the Royal documentary THE WINDSORS – FROM GEORGE TO KATE, the eighties film MISCHIEF, the great John Candy romance ONLY THE LONELY, THE COMPLETE SEASON TWO of the animated spy series ARCHER, THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON of the shameless series SHAMELESS, the horror remake DON’T BE AFRAID OF THE DARK, the horror sequel FINAL DESTINATION 5, the awful APOLLO 18, the exactly what it is supposed to be SHARK NIGHT, the family film DOLPHIN TALE, and the very good medical thriller disaster film CONTAGION are all available now, either on disc or on demand.
Coming up inside the next Couch Potato Report
THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON of the great television series BOARDWALK EMPIRE, Jason Statham, Clive Owen and Robert De Niro star in the action flick KILLER ELITE and Brad Pitt stars in MONEYBALL.
I’m Dan Reynish. I’ll have more on those, and some other releases, in seven days.
For now, that’s this week’s COUCH POTATO REPORT.
Enjoy the movies and I’ll see you back here again next time on The Couch!