The Couch Potato Report

Nothing superb this week, but a couple of the releases are worth a watch

The Couch Potato Report – July 26th, 2014

“Heaven Is For Real: A Little Boy’s Astounding Story Of His Trip to Heaven and Back” is a 2010 New York Times best-selling Christian book written by Todd Burpo and Lynn Vincent.

The book is about the near-death experience of Burpo’s then-four-year-old son, Colton and is the story of how the little boy started telling people he had visited heaven.

A movie based on the book was filmed in and around Winnipeg last Summer and it is called HEAVEN IS FOR REAL. The movie stars Greg Kinnear from LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE as the little boy’s Dad.

Not only does the boy just say that he was in heaven, he begins describing events and people that he didn’t even know…such as an unborn sister whom no one had told him about and his great grandfather who died 30 years before he was born.

HEAVEN IS FOR REAL is never a bad movie, but it’s also never great. It just tells it’s story and then ends. While watching it, I liked it and I liked the characters in it. Most of them seemed like real people dealing with an odd circumstance.

So what we have here is a nice little movie that I will mildly recommend.

I’ll also mildly recommend the film THE FACE OF LOVE, although its not completely believeable.

Annette Bening from the Academy Award winning film AMERICAN BEAUTY is a widow who – years later – has yet to get over the loss of her husband, the love of her life.

Then, she meets Tom, who looks and acts just like her dead husband, and so she goes after him and they start a relationship…and all the while we, the audience wait for the other shoe to drop.

We wait for Tom to find out that he looks exactly like the woman’s dead husband.

Four time Academy Award nominee, the great Ed Harris from APOLLO 13 and THE TRUMAN SHOW plays the man and he, Bening and supporting actor Robin Williams are all very good here, giving us restrained, mature performances, but what held the movie back for me is the fact that we’re supposed to buy the fact that this guy, who looks and acts almost exactly like the woman’s ex-husband, also just happens to live in Los Angeles?!

The film wants the viewer to get lost in whether she actually loves Tom or just his face…the face of love…but the other stuff gets in the way.

Yet, even with the fact that I never quite bought into the fact that she would actually stumble upon the guy, and even though we spend the whole movie just waiting for the other shoe to drop, THE FACE OF LOVE still has enough going for it that I can mildly recommend it.

I’ve mildly recommended two films to you this week, and now I’m going to suggest that you stay as far away from one as you can.

At all costs you should avoid the Johnny Depp flick TRANSCENDENCE.

TRANSCENDENCE is a science fiction film directed by cinematographer Wally Pfister in his directorial debut. Pfister has a great eye for movies as he has worked with Christopher Nolan on the films THE DARK KNIGHT, MEMENTO and INCEPTION.

Plus, in addition to Johnny Depp, TRANSCENDENCE stars Rebecca Hall, Kate Mara, Cillian Murphy, Paul Bettany, and Morgan Freeman, but this is one of the most boring films of the year.

The intent of TRANSCENDENCE is to show us the dangers of a scientist’s drive for artificial intelligence and the implications of what can happen globally when his consciousness is uploaded into one such program.

But you won’t care, you’ll be bored. I sure was.

Skip TRANSCENDENCE. Unless you are a Johnny Depp completist, you never need to see it.

Finally this week is a very good, but not fully realized documentary called VIDEO GAMES – THE MOVIE.

This is a 105 minute look at video games; it’s history and culture, told by the creators of the games and systems, and fans.

It was a blast looking back on the history of gaming from their inception in the 50s and 60s to modern day games. It goes from Pong to Call Of Duty, from Atari and Intellivision to the PS4 and beyond.

The problem with VIDEO GAMES – THE MOVIE is that it’s a love letter to games and gamers. It constantly screams – aren’t games awesome?!

And they are, but there are also youth violence and obesity issues that have been connected to video gaming over the years and this documentary doesn’t spend much time looking at them. They are mentioned, but then we are taken back to the positive side of gaming again.

A truly great documentary shows both sides of the story – the good and the bad – and I would have appreciated seeing more of that story, and how the gaming industry has changed over the years to protect it’s audience.

That it didn’t tell the whole story is the only problem I have with VIDEO GAMES – THE MOVIE, otherwise I really enjoyed it and can highly recommend it.
The very good documentary VIDEO GAMES – THE MOVIE is available now On Demand.

The boring Johnny Depp sci-fi drama TRANSCENDENCE, the mildly recommended mature drama THE FACE OF LOVE and the mildly recommended made-in-Manitoba Christian drama HEAVEN IS FOR REAL are available now, either on disc or on demand.

And that’s this week’s COUCH POTATO REPORT.

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