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By: Jeff Ford
By: Jeff Ford

Previewing the Good, Bad and Ugly of Argo, Atlas Shrugged II, Here Comes the Boom, Seven Psychopaths, Sinister and Perks of Being a Wallflower

 

Once again, Hollywood has blessed us with 6 new films in theaters this week (well, 5 are new. The sixth is a limited release going wide). I’m going to cut through the chatter and get right to the main course. First up is the third directorial film from an actor turned director.
 
 
As the Iranian revolution reaches a boiling point, a CIA 'exfiltration' specialist concocts a risky plan to free six Americans who have found shelter at the home of the Canadian ambassador.
 
The Good – I’m not afraid to say it. I think Academy Award winner Ben Affleck (Buffy the Vampire Slayer) is one of the great directors working today. Quite a few people point to The Town as his high point, but not me. Gone Baby Gone transcended my expectations to become one of my favorite films of all time. It was a simple kidnapping story told well and with great skill. The Town is also a fine piece of filmmaking. Needless to say, I’ve been looking forward to Argo.
 
The Bad – As great as Ben Affleck is at directing, he is still lackluster at acting. Whenever he stepped away from the Kevin Smith repertoire, it seemed he believed he could get by on his looks and charms alone. This has led to embarrassing turns in Michael Bay’s Pearl Harbor and Armageddon, not to mention the much maligned Gigli and Surviving Christmas. His acting was the worst aspect of The Town, being merely serviceable at best. With him stepping in front of the camera once again, I hope that will not be the case.
 
The Ugly – Throughout the ups and downs of his career, only one thing is for certain, Ben Affleck was the BOMB in Phantoms.
 
Argo is rated R for language and some violent images.
 
 
With the global economy on the brink of collapse, Dagny Taggart discovers what might be the answer to a mounting energy crisis and races against the clock to prevent the motor of the World from being stopped for good.
 
The Good – Confession Time: I have read Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged cover to cover on my own time, not as an assignment for school and also before the Tea Partiers kept referencing it ad nauseam as a sign of future events. I thought the book was flawed yet still riveting, having finished the 587,287 word behemoth in a little over a week’s time. (In comparison, the entire Lord of the Rings trilogy was approximately 473,000 words and that took me a month). I liked the story of Dagny Taggart and Henry Reardon as they joined John Galt’s strike against the “Moochers” and “Looters”, the people who are only looking for their “fair share” off of the backs of the innovators and laborers. It is an idealized, if overly flawed version of Rand’s philosophy. Whether one applies it to today’s situation is that person’s own business. I’m not here to pass judgment.
 
The Bad – This is the sequel of a critically maligned film. The original was so reviled that not one main actor was carried over to this film. The writing staff and director are different as well. Why come out with a part II with little to no participants from the first? At some point, the producers should have either given up or started over.  
 
The Ugly – Has anybody read Atlas Shrugged and not fallen asleep during that 60 page speech John Galt gave? It was the heart of Ms. Rand’s philosophy but, my WORD, was it boring.
 
Atlas Shrugged Part II is rated PG-13 for brief language.
 
 
A high school biology teacher looks to become a successful mixed-martial arts fighter in an effort to raise money to prevent extra-curricular activities from being axed at his cash-strapped school.
 
The Good – The proliferation of MMA continues as it strikes in a mainstream comedy. Last year’s Warrior was a fantastic, if little seen, MMA film about two brothers competing in a winner take all tournament. This comedy should do more to bring in new fans. I laughed during the trailer and Kevin James is doing his only character, the overweight, loveable doofus, which he does well..
 
The Bad – Kevin James (Grilled) is still attempting to make the transition to the large screen, after his successful stint on CBS. His time should be better spent elsewhere, perhaps back on television. The movies of his that I’ve seen have been underwhelming. Paul Blart: Mall Cop may have been more successful than Seth Rogan’s Observe and Report, but that doesn’t mean it was the better Mall Cop movie. Zookeeper was just all around bad (also of note, this film has the same director). He needs to get away from the Adam Sandler parade, and try something a little more risky. Then again, I’m just a blogger on an under seen website and he’s a millionaire. He may just avoid my suggestions.
 
The Ugly – The medical bills he piles up should be too much for a teacher’s salary. He may save the school, but he should go broke in the process, while looking like a punching bag.
 
Here Comes the Boom is rated PG for bouts of MMA sports violence, some rude humor and language.
 
 
A struggling screenwriter inadvertently becomes entangled in the Los Angeles criminal underworld after his oddball friends kidnap a gangster's beloved Shih Tzu.
 
The Good – A great cast (Colin Farrell, Sam Rockwell, Christopher Walken, Woody Harrelson and Tom Waits) head up the latest from the director of the great but badly marketed In Bruges. Just like his last film, the trailer plays up the comedy aspect, which does look funny. In Bruges suckered the viewers with the trailer but instead delivered an introspective on a couple of hitmen. I don’t see this film following into the same pattern. I am intrigued though.
 
The Bad – My initial impressions was this was more like Smokin’ Aces, a hitman comedy that I did not care for in the slightest. While I can still see aspects of that bad piece of fiction in this, I am more inclined to give this movie an open viewing.
 
The Ugly – The plot revolves around a dognapping. Visions of David Spade’s Lost & Found are emerging into my noggin. Somebody, please make them go away.
 
Seven Psychopaths is rated R for strong violence, bloody images, pervasive language, sexuality/nudity and some drug use.
 
 
Found footage helps a true-crime novelist realize how and why a family was murdered in his new home, though his discoveries put his entire family in the path of a supernatural entity.
 
The Good – It’s a horror film being released in October, just a few weeks away from Halloween. With Paranormal Activity 4 just around the corner, this film must strike early and fast, lest it be washed away in that horror tsunami.
 
The Bad – This is not a found footage film (thank God) but its narrative is wrapped around the concept. It may be a film that attempts to do both, but that still doesn’t interest me in the slightest.
 
The Ugly – My fingers are wiped out after typing too much in one sitting. There is one more film to go.
 
Sinister is rated R for disturbing violent images and some terror.
 
 
An introvert freshman is taken under the wings of two seniors who welcome him to the real world.
 
The Good – Based on the novel of the same name, this film is opening wide into our little corner of the world with great reviews and word of mouth. Emma Watson distances herself from the Harry Potter franchise, earning strong notices from many of the top critics. Its current rating on Rotten Tomatoes is 85% out of 119 collected reviews. 
 
The Bad – I’m miffed that it has taken so long to get here. It was released in a limited basis back on September 21, when ads were constantly running. Now, it’s opening wide and I’ve yet to see another ad. I hope it can pull in some audience.
 
The Ugly – Don’t care about the Ugly right now. Mondo blog is almost over.
 
The Perks of Being a Wallflower is rated PG-13 on appeal for mature thematic material, drug and alcohol use, sexual content including references, and a fight - all involving teens.
 
That will do for this week. Stay tuned next time when Tyler Perry takes on poltergeists. Until next time, who is John Galt?
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