The Couch Potato Report

Here are my latest reviews, and some gift ideas for the movie lover on your list!!

The Couch Potato Report – December 21st, 2013

It’s the final shopping weekend before Christmas and I have a few releases that could make great gifts for the Couch Potatoes on your list. I’ll start with one for the science fiction fan.

Back in 2009, South African born, Vancouver raised director Neill Blomkamp gave us a superb sci-fi flick called DISTRICT 9 and this year he followed it up with the very interesting ELYSIUM, starring Matt Damon and Jodie Foster.

This film takes place in the year 2154, in a time when the very wealthy live above the now overpopulated, ruined earth on a man–made space station called Elysium.

People there live in luxurious comfort and all have medical devices called Med-Bays to keep them free of disease and injury. No one, who can afford it, ever gets sick.

Matt Damon plays a man who lives on earth, and after an accident at the plant he works at exposes him to a lethal dose of radiation, he only has five days to live…unless he can get to Elysium and into one of the Med-Bays.

Jodie Foster is the Elysian Secretary of Defense, and it is her responsibility to ensure no one from earth has access to their land, lifestyle or equipment.

But Damon isn’t just trying to save himself, he wants the two worlds to be equal and for everyone to have access to the same lifestyles and medical benefits.

ELYSIUM is a very, very smart action film, but overall it isn’t great. Damon is playing a character we’ve seen too many times before, so is Jodie Foster for that matter, and her accent is unfocussed, which is surprising as she is a two-time Academy Award winner who knows how to act and do accents.

But the partially made in Vancouver film does have enough going for it that I can – and do – recommend it…especially to the science-fiction fans on your Christmas list, who will really appreciate all of the behind-the-scenes features..

Fans of actor Hugh Jackman on your list might be pleased to receive the drama PRISONERS. This movie is engaging and isn’t predictable, at least I never saw the end coming. I figured some of it out, but not the ending.

PRISONERS is a thriller directed by Canadian filmmaker Denis Villeneuve, who also gave us POLYTECHNIQUE and INCENDIES.

Hugh Jackman stars here as a father who is living every parent’s worst nightmare – his six-year-old daughter, and her friend, go missing and are presumed kidnapped. They may even be prisoners.

He is prepared to do anything – just about anything – to get them back. And as the days go by, what he’s willing to do becomes more and more violent.

PRISONERS is very well made, with some strong performances, but it is a flawed film. It doesn’t always have the greatest attention to detail, and its own plot points, and that works against it.

But Hugh Jackman fans will appreciate his performance, and so let me recommend it to them, and for them as a present this Holiday Season.

Fans of the cinematic character of Jack Ryan will appreciate the gift and enjoy owning the four disc blu-ray set THE JACK RYAN COLLECTION, starring Alec Baldwin, Harrison Ford and Ben Affleck as the title character, based on works by Tom Clancy.

THE JACK RYAN COLLECTION includes the incredible HUNT FOR RED OCTOBER, the very good PATRIOT GAMES, the only okay CLEAR AND PRSENT DANGER and the not great at all Ben Affleck entry THE SUM OF ALL FEARS.

Even though the entertainment value of the films went down as the series went along, THE JACK RYAN COLLECTION has some great special features and is still a great Box Set for action film fans and I can – and do – easily recommend it.

There was a little movie that came out in 2010 that I really liked. Called KICK-ASS, it was about a group of high school students who decided to stand up for the oppressed and become super-heroes, even though they had no powers, training or meaningful reason to do so.

A sequel to that little film came out this year, and it is nowhere near as good as the original.

It isn’t odd for a sequel to not be as good as the original film, but KICK-ASS 2 pales in comparison to the first one. That flick was fun, and full of interesting characters, all a bit cartoony, but the mood, tone, action, and humour were all perfectly done.

The made-in-Toronto KICK-ASS 2 has all the action and some of the adventure of the first one, but none, absolutely none of the fun. This second one just isn’t fun at all…even with the addition of Jim Carrey to the cast.

I like the characters of Kick-Ass, Hit Girl, Battle Guy, and the other made-up superheroes, so I hope they can get it right when they film the expected third movie in the trilogy.

Get it right, and make the series fun again.

See KICK-ASS…that movie is a blast…skip KICK ASS 2…it is not.

WOW!! That is what I will start off with when it comes to THE FINAL SEASON of the television series BREAKING BAD. WOW!!

This is the Emmy Award winning show about former teacher turned meth dealer Walter White and his partner Jesse Pinkman.

Over the course of the series, Walt struggled to survive and keep his drug dealing identity a secret from his DEA agent brother-in-law Hank.

At the end of the last season, Hank figured out that Walt was a drug dealer, and these final eight episodes offer the series an epic and spectacular conclusion.

The creators of BREAKING BAD have given us a superb FINAL SEASON, and even though I wasn’t always the biggest fan of the show, it grew on me with each season and the ending is perfect.

Even if you watched the show when it aired, check out this three-disc set as it offers extended and uncensored versions of some episodes, and the alternative ending they filmed with Bryan Cranston’s co-star from MALCOLM IN THE MIDDLE is also included here. That other ending is incredible!!

So are the final eight episodes, and the series itself.

As I said, WOW!!

Finally this week, last and absolutely least is THE LONE RANGER, starring Armie Hammer from THE SOCIAL NETWORK as the title character and Johnny Depp as Tonto.

This movie was universally panned, even before it was released, and it is as bad as you’ve heard.

It absolutely is one of the worst films of the year.

While I will admit that that there is some good stuff in the film – the train crash scene is amazing, for instance – there is so much wrong with it and with a running time of almost two and a half hours, it goes on and on and on and on and you have better things to do at this time of year.

The best gift you can get for the movie fans on your list this holiday season is to get them any movie other than THE LONE RANGER.

It should be avoided at all costs…man, is it a stinker!!

The absolutely every bit as bad as you’ve heard it is movie version of THE LONE RANGER; the absolutely every bit as good as you’ve heard it is FINAL SEASON of BREAKING BAD; the action packed, not as good sequel KICK-ASS 2; the mostly entertaining JACK RYAN COLLECTION, featuring the incredible HUNT FOR RED OCTOBER, the very good PATRIOT GAMES, the only okay CLEAR AND PRSENT DANGER and the not great THE SUM OF ALL FEARS; the very good, but flawed adult drama PRISONERS, from Canadian director Denis Villeneuve; and the not great, but very good science fiction film ELYSIUM – from Vancouver based director Neill Blomkamp – are all available now, either on disc or on demand, for your Holiday gift giving.

And, for 2013, that’s THE COUCH POTATO REPORT.

Enjoy the movies HAPPY HOLIDAYS and I’ll see you back here again next year on The Couch!