Thursday, December 4, 2014

Avalon High (2010)


Number Rolled: 25
Movie Name/Year: Avalon High (2010)
Genre: Drama
Length: 89 minutes
Rating: TV-G
Affiliated Companies: Jaffe/Braunstein Films, Disney Channel
Executive Producer: Howard Braunstein, Michael Jaffe
Director: Stuart Gillard
Writer: Julie Sherman Wolfe, Amy Talkington, Meg Cabot
Actors: Britt Robertson, Samuel Levi, Gregg Sulkin, Joey Pollari, Devon Graye, Molly C. Quinn, Don Lake, Christopher Tavarez, Ingrid Park, Steve Valentine, Anthony Ingruber, Jordaan Tuitama, Anton Tennet, Gareth Sanuels, Craig Hall, Jazmyne Van Goslinga, Alison Bruce, John Leigh, Andrew Grainger

Allie is the daughter of two professors specializing in King Arthur and Camelot and they’ve had to move around a lot. In fact, Allie isn’t used to staying anywhere for longer than six months. When she finds out that her family intends to stick with their new residence until she graduates, she’s thrilled to get the chance to dive deeper into the life of a high school student. Thing just don’t seem normal at her new school.

This movie was certainly unique. The thing that made it stand out as much as it did was how completely mediocre it was, until it wasn’t.

Avalon High brought Camelot into the present day. The movie accomplished that feat by mixing a usual drama-teen romance plot. However, as you get further into the movie, a pinch of supernatural mixes in. It’s fine, but with history buffs already pointing out every single line out of place on a suit of armor, you need to be damn sure you’re keeping everything else real enough to suck in viewers.

A good example of a movie that brought historical lore into the present day and managed to succeed was Robin of Locksley (1996). Of course, that movie didn’t have the added obstacle of trying to make the supernatural look real.

I spent the first part of the movie, and most of the middle, completely disinterested in the storyline. It didn’t help that only about half the cast managed to pull off their characters with any amount of believability. In a movie like Avalon High it’s incredibly important that the actors embody their characters as much as possible because you’re already suspending a lot of disbelief for the setting and the script.

None of this sounds all that spectacular, so why the high score?

The movie gets awesome at the end. Everything is not as it seems and there’s a twist I wasn’t sure Disney Channel was capable of. Even the actors that I disliked seemed to get better.

Avalon High is a great movie for adults as well as kids. Brilliant for a family night.

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – None
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – None

Netflix’s Prediction for Me – 3/5
Trust-the-Dice Score3.5/5

Movie Trailer:



Monday, December 1, 2014

Top Ten Movies to Look Out For In December


Honorable Mention – The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies (December 17)


Director: Peter Jackson
Writer: Peter Jackson, Fran Walsh, Guillermo del Toro, Philippa Boyens, J.R.R. Tolkien
Actors: Martin Freeman, Ian McKellen, Richard Armitage, Evangeline Lilly, Lee Pace, Luke Evans, Benedict Cumberbatch, James Nesbitt, Ken Stott, Cate Blanchett, Hugo Weaving, Orlando Bloom, Christopher Lee, Aidan Turner, Billy Connolly, Ian Holm, Manu Bennett
Genre: Fantasy
Rated: Unrated

To be honest, I don’t have a lot of interest in this movie.

Don’t get me wrong, I greatly enjoyed the first Lord of the Rings trilogy. I saw each one of them in the theater on their opening days. Despite that fact, I have not had any interest in the new trilogy. I offered it as an honorable mention because I’m certain it will be visually stunning, regardless of how I feel.

10 – Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb (December 19)


Director: Shawn Levy
Writer: Robert Ben Garant, Thomas Lennon, David Guion, Michael Handelmann, Mark Friedman
Actors: Ben Stiller, Owen Wilson, Steve Coogan, Rebel Wilson, Ben Kingsley, Ricky Gervais, Robin Williams, Dan Stevens, Skyler Gisondo, Rachael Harris, Rami Malek, Mickey Rooney, Dick Van Dyke, Patrick Gallagher
Genre: Comedy
Rated: PG

Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb is the first comedy that makes me very sad. This movie is the last live-action movie that Robin Williams (Good Will Hunting, Aladdin, The Birdcage) will appear in. He will be voicing a character in Absolutely Anything (2015), but he won’t be seen.

I believe this movie is the last chance for fans of Williams to say goodbye, the right way. Not with tabloid stories and invading the lives of his family, but by celebrating his life’s work.

I’ve never seen the other Night at the Museum movies, but I will before December 19. Whether it’s great, or terrible, I feel the need to see Robin Williams’ final visual performance.

9 – Murder of a Cat (December 5)


Director: Gillian Greene
Writer: Christian Mgalhaes, Robert Snow
Actors: Greg Kinnear, Nikki Reed, J.K. Simmons, Blythe Danner, Fran Kranz, Leonardo Nam, Ted Raimi
Genre: Comedy
Rated: Unrated

The first thing I want to say is that this movie was produced, in part, by the one and only Sam Raimi (Evil Dead, Legend of the Seeker, Xena: Warrior Princess). That alone caught my interest. The moment his name is linked to a project, I want to know about it.

He’s not the only name that drew me in. Of all the actors listed, the name that really caught me is not one of the obvious ones. Fran Kranz (The Cabin in the Woods, Dollhouse, Much Ado About Nothing) is an actor that I’ve grown to know and love through Joss Whedon (The Cabin in the Woods, Dollhouse, Much Ado About Nothing). He’s shown himself to be a quirky and amusing performer. When I found out he was playing the main character in Murder of a Cat, I knew it was a movie I was going to have to see.

I know Kranz is probably not as big a draw to the rest of the world as he is to me, but I think he really deserves the confidence of fans. I believe he will make an amazing leading man.

8 – Unbroken (December 25)


Director: Angelina Jolie
Writer: Ethan Coen, Joel Coen, Richard LaGravenese, William Nicholson, Laura Hillenbrand
Actors: Jack O’Connell, Garrett Hedlund, Domhnall Gleeson, Jai Courtney, Maddalena Ischiale, Miyavi, John Magaro, C.J. Valleroy, Finn Wittrock, Jordan Smith
Genre: Drama
Rated: PG-13

Unbroken looks like a solid drama. I’m unfamiliar with the book it was based on or the true story that the book was based on, but I do know that the trailer looked incredibly intense. Based only on the merit of the trailer and the cast, I have to believe this movie is going to be incredible.

7 – Into the Woods (December 15)


Director: Rob Marshall
Writer: James Lapine, Stephen Sondheim
Actors: Meryl Streep, Emily Blunt, James Corden, Johnny Depp, Chris Pine, Anna Kendrick, Lilla Crawford, Tracey Ullman, Christine Baranski, Billy Magnussen, Daniel Huttlestone, Tammy Blanchard, Lucy Punch, MacKenzie Mauzy, Richard Glover
Genre: Fantasy/Musical
Rated: PG

Disney is the best source for fairy tale movies. The company has been making them since well before I was even born. So, when they put out another, it’s hard to find a reason not to see it. When you add in a cast filled with people like Meryl Streep (The Devil Wears Prada, The Giver, The Iron Lady), Johnny Depp (Tusk, Transcendence, Dark Shadows), Chris Pine (Star Trek, Unstoppable, Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit), Emily Blunt (The Devil Wears Prada, Edge of Tomorrow, Looper),  and Anna Kendrick (Pitch Perfect, Rapture-Palooza, End of Watch), any remaining doubt is washed away.

6 – The Interview (December 25)


Director: Seth Rogen, Evan Goldberg
Writer: Dan Sterling, Seth Rogen, Evan Goldberg
Actors: Seth Rogen, James Franco, Lizzy Caplan, Diana Bang, Randall Park, Resse Alexander, Timothy Simons, Ben Schwartz, Anders Holm, Anesha Bailey, Geoff Gustafson, James Yi, Paul Bae
Genre: Comedy
Rated: R

Who doesn’t love the pairing of Seth Rogen (This is the End, Pineapple Express, Knocked Up) and James Franco (This is the End, Pineapple Express, Knocked Up)? Their comedic chemistry is insane. I’d have to be nuts to not look forward to The Interview.

5 – Tell (December 5)


Director: J. M. R. Luna
Writer: Timothy Williams
Actors: Milo Ventimiglia, Katee Sackhoff, Jason Lee, Alan Tudyk, Robert Patrick, John Michael Higgins, Oscar Nunez, Faizon Love
Genre: Thriller
Rated: R

I would watch Milo Ventimiglia (Heroes, Gilmore Girls, Pathology) in any movie he decided to act in. I’ve even stuck by him through the worst of his films. I could wax poetic about how much I enjoy his acting, but I don’t need to. His work speaks for itself and I look forward to seeing this new addition to his filmography.

4 – Life Partners (December 5)


Director: Susanna Fogel
Writer: Susanna Fogel, Joni Lefkowitz
Actors: Gillian Jacobs, Leighton Meester, Adam Brody, Gabourey Sidibe, Abby Elliot, Beth Dover
Genre: Comedy
Rated: R

I had to watch this trailer a couple of times.

I enjoyed it the first time, but the second time I really fell in love with it. I thought it was adorable and hilarious. Leighton Meester (Gossip Girl, That’s My Boy, Remember the Daze) seems to really be in control of her character.

I don’t expect it to be as completely light-hearted as it seems in the trailer, though.

3 – Exodus: Gods and Kings (December 12)


Director: Ridley Scott
Writer: Steve Zaillian, Adam Cooper, Bill Collage, Jeffrey Caine
Actors: Christian Bale, Joel Edgerton, Aaron Paul, Ben Kingsley, John Turturro, Sigourney Weaver, Indira Varma, Ben Mendelsohn, Golshifteh Farahani, Maria Valverde
Genre: Drama
Rated: PG-13

In Exodus: Gods and Kings, Ridley Scott (Blade Runner, Alien, Black Hawk Down) takes on the story of Moses.

I’ll admit, I have my reservations about this one. I was raised on Charlton Heston’s (Ben-Hur, Planet of the Apes, The Awakening) The Ten Commandments. I picture Moses a certain way, Ramses a certain way, etc. The idea of Christian Bale taking up the part of Moses in the movie was almost laughable to me at first.

So, I watched the trailer a few times and in different versions. Now, although I’m still not sure about Bale, the movie looked way too amazing to pass up.

2 – American Sniper (December 25)


Director: Clint Eastwood
Writer: Jason Dean Hall
Actors: Bradley Cooper, Sienna Miller, Luke Grimes, Kyle Gallner, Jake McDorman, Cory Hardrict, Navid Negahban, Eric Close, Eric Ladin, Sammy Sheik, Sam Jaeger, Reynaldo Gallegos, Joel Lambert
Genre: Action
Rated: R

I’ve been looking forward to this movie for two months. I did an article on Bradley Cooper (Silver Linings Playbook, Limitless, American Hustle) and I learned about American Sniper. All the information I found out, coupled with the directing of Clint Eastwood (Jersey Boys, Gran Torino, Million Dollar Baby), made the wait for this movie almost unbearable.

Now that I’ve seen the trailer for it, I’m even more excited.

Although they showed a few various clips, the trailer mostly focused on a single scene in the film and that one scene gave me goosebumps. The look on Cooper’s face at the end was absolutely heart-wrenching.

1 – Selma (December 25)


Director: Ava DuVernay
Writer: Paul Webb
Actors: David Oyelowo, Tom Wilkinson, Tim Roth, Carmen Ejogo, Oprah Winfrey, Ledisi, Keith Stanfield, Wendell Pierce, Giovanni Ribisi, Cuba Gooding Jr., Lorraine Toussaint, Andre Holland, Tessa Thompson, Alessandro Nivola, Jeremy Strong, Dylan Baker
Genre: Drama
Rated: Unrated

There is rebellion and revolution all over the world right now and, unfortunately, it has brought with it a level of violence that is simply unacceptable.

Selma is the story of Martin Luther King Jr. and the revolution that he became the face of. I strongly believe that this movie is coming at a good time. People need the reminder that change can be instigated through perseverance and peace, not just through violence.

Martin Luther King Jr. knew that revolution and rebellion would always be necessary in the world. The only way to fix what is broken is to get angry and to stand up. It means facing the violence head on, not throwing the first punch. He had a dream. In many ways, we’re still trying to help him accomplish it. Maybe being reminded of his dream and the way he went about trying to make it come true will be the push people need to change.

It wouldn’t be the first time a movie changed the world.