Cabin fever? Check out 'Jack the Giant Slayer,' 'End of Watch,' and 'Red Dead Redemption'
I was texting our other intrepid pop culture blogger Saturday night about what to see at the cinema.
"Argo" looked good, but I wasn't in a really serious mood. "Die Hard" sequels died for me a long time ago. It's the original or nothing.
My buddy Mike and I decided to go to the 3D "Jack the Giant Slayer" starring Nicholas Hoult as Jack of beanstalk fame.
So here I am, a 40-year-old man, watching a children's fairy tale on a Saturday night. Is this arrested development or what?
My expectations were low, but I was pleasantly surprised. The reason they were low is that I've been somewhat skeptical of this fairy tale movement in entertainment. Everything from Snow White to Little Red Riding Hood is now available in multiple "darker" reboots. Kind of like superheroes.
But why not? The economy is sort of getting better, but it's winter and people need to escape for a few hours.
All of this is to say I liked it. It wasn't terribly dark, though the giants were delightfully scary. The cast was very competent. You had Hoult, who I always think of as the awkward British boy from "About a Boy," and more recently he has starred in "Warm Bodies," a zombie-themed rom-com.
In addition you had Ewan McGregor as the swaggering captain of the guard, looking very at ease in the role and not taking himself too seriously. Stanley Tucci was devious and seemed to be having fun as the villainous adviser to the king. Ian McShane brought his gravelly voice and weathered face to the king role and Eddie Marsan was a stand out among the character actors as a noble warrior.
The whole thing was fun and the 3D was well-used. I enjoyed the diversion.
Dan's Grade: B+
What about streaming from home?
If you've already visited the theater for the week and you find yourself flipping through the movies available for streaming on Amazon, you could do worse then "End of Watch."
This is like the best episode of COPS ever. Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Pena play to Los Angeles south central patrol cops policing mean streets held by rival drug gangs. There's action, chases, stabbings, shootings, enough blue language to make you feel like you're in a local high school, and the movie has at its center a real heart. This is the story of two guys who have the outer swagger of cowboys, but who love each other the way only foxhole buddies can. It shows the brotherhood/sisterhood among cops who hold the thin blue line between civilization and chaos.
And is that America Ferrera I saw playing a tough fellow cop? Yup.
Dan's Grade: A-
Speaking of cowboys
I got Red Dead Redemption for the PS3 for my birthday. There's that arrested development again. The game is basically like Grand Theft Auto Vice City, only as a spaghetti western. You're a cowboy like Clint Eastwood. You ride around on your horse and you can choose to just explore or play missions that involve everything from stopping trains in Mexico to winning a hand of poker before being called a cheater and forced to draw in the street.
The music is very B-movie western from the 70s, so I'm sure Mr. Tarantino would approve.
Dan's Grade: A for awesome.
What's next on the agenda? I think I'll be riding the tornado to Oz.