Movie Review: Rental Roundup!

Grab your popcorn and get comfy – Kabooooom’s movie review roundup is currently available for rental so that you can be ready for movie night! Read on to find out if Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters, Identity Thief, The Incredible Burt Wonderstone, Jack the Giant Slayer, Movie 43, and Stoker are worth seeing or skipping.


hgwhHANSEL AND GRETEL: WITCH HUNTERS / Directed by Tommy Wirkola / Starring Jeremy Renner, Gemma Arterton

Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters is an attempt to make a fairy-tale movie for adults, except the only thing that sets it apart from its similarly juvenile counterparts is the fact that it contains a lot more blood and guts. The movie revolves around grown-up versions of Hansel (Jeremy Renner) and Gretel (Gemma Arterton), two wildly attractive siblings on a quest to kill witches so innocent children may be spared the fate of being eaten by grody-looking hags.

It’s supposed to be a horror-comedy, but with its complete lack of scares and laughs, it’s no Cabin in the Woods or Shaun of the Dead. Hansel and Gretel has some clever anachronistic quirks, like Medieval-era Gretel fanboys and Hansel’s candy-induced diabetes, but it’s not enough to save it from being completely forgettable.

The movie is as flat as Renner’s gruff monotone, but then again, it never tries to be more than it is, a B-movie with some mildly entertaining effects and design. However, splattering gore across the screen does not make a movie “edgy”, nor does it make it good. Save your rental fee for something else. 

SKIP IT.

idtIDENTITY THIEF / Directed by Seth Gordon / Starring Jason Bateman, Melissa McCarthy 

Jason Bateman and Melissa McCarthy are two of the most pigeonholed comedians in Hollywood. Bateman constantly plays the straight-laced suburban yuppie, and since her breakout in 2011’s Bridesmaids, McCarthy’s been replicating the same performance as a belligerent, red-faced oaf with a heart of gold. But the reason why they play these roles over and over again is because they’re good at them, and Identity Thief allows both of them to shine.

Identity Thief isn’t a particularly novel comedy. It’s like a slightly updated version of Due Date, solid in delivering laughs with its healthy balance of one-liners and physical gags. At times, it feels like there’s too much going on, with subconflicts crashing (oftentimes literally) into a fiery pileup. But the movie’s definitely got heart, and it’s fun to watch the characters develop along their surprisingly well-crafted arcs.

SEE IT.

ibwTHE INCREDIBLE BURT WONDERSTONE / Directed by Don Scardino / Starring Steve Carell, Steve Buscemi, Olivia Wilde

In some movies, a great cast can salvage a mediocre script. The Incredible Burt Wonderstone is not one of those movies. Steve Carell and Steve Buscemi play Burt Wonderstone and Anton Marvelton, two old school, Sigfriend and Roy-esque Vegas magicians being rendered obsolete by a reality show street magician (Jim Carrey).

What could have been a fun jab at showbiz is instead a force-feeding of trite sentimentality, and the script, penned by Jonathan Goldstein and John Francis Daley of Freaks and Geeks fame, fails to take advantage of the humorous potential of such a ridiculous premise. But credit should be given where it’s due – Burt Wonderstone never takes itself too seriously, and the cast is as reliable as ever.

Unfortunately, even Carrell’s deadpan delivery, Buscemi’s offbeat charm, and Carrey’s mastery of physical humor can’t save this weak, forgettable comedy that feels like it drags on much longer than its hour-and-a-half runtime. It’s not the worst movie to pop into your DVD player if you’ve got nothing else to do, but if you decide to skip it, you’re certainly not missing out. 

SKIP IT.

jtgsJACK THE GIANT SLAYER / Directed by Bryan Singer / Starring Nicholas Hoult, Ewan McGregor

 As a director, Bryan Singer is competent. Not particularly great, but not particularly bad, either. The best word to sum him up would probably be ‘adequate’. That being said, you’d probably find Jack the Giant Slayer at the very bottom of the barrel of adequate movies. If you like half-baked special effects, mentally challenged giants, and hideously-rendered CG, then this movie will be a real treat for you. If not, then you’ll probably be better off sitting this one out. 

The story is lukewarm at best, and it doesn’t feel like any of characters, including protagonist Jack (Nicholas Hoult), even serve any major purpose in their own story. It’s the kind of movie that you’d watch just for the CG, but unfortunately, there’s not much to see, as the kindest word to describe the CG would be ‘crummy’. Perhaps the most tragic thing about Jack the Giant Slayer is that its main selling point is the trailer’s proud proclamation that it’s “FROM THE DIRECTOR OF X-MEN”. Is Singer honestly still riding that 13 year-old wave?

You could probably do a lot worse, but Jack the Giant Slayer wasn’t made because the filmmakers believed in the story; it was made simply to pander to fairytale blockbuster trends. Studios should learn that not every fairy tale will make a good live-action movie, and a story about a boy and his magical beans just doesn’t translate well onto the big screen. 

SKIP IT.

m43MOVIE 43 / Directed by Steven Brill, Peter Farrelly, Will Graham, Steve Carr, Griffin Dunne, James Duffy, Jonathan van Tulleken, Elizabeth Banks, Patrik Forsberg, Brett Ratner, Rusty Cundieff, James Gunn, Bob Odenkirk / Starring Elizabeth Banks, Halle Berry, Josh Duhamel, Anna Faris, Justin Long, Chris Pratt, Emma Stone, Jason Sudeikis, Naomi Watts, Kate Winslet 

Despite its capable, star-studded cast, Movie 43 was released without much fanfare back in January, the post-Awards season month in which studios dump movies they just want to forget about. What you see in the trailer is pretty much what you get in the movie: a lot of great actors and actresses embarrassing themselves over poop jokes and masturbating cats. Movie 43 is a clusterfuck of short skits, each one more offensive and more awful than the last. It’s not that offensive humor is a bad thing – movies like Superbad are all fine and dandy – but the problem with Movie 43 is that despite its gleeful revelry in the disgusting, it fails to elicit the weakest of chuckles. Being hit over the head with a shovel would probably be less painful than trying to stomach the 94 minutes of unbridled nausea. It’s an exercise in lazy writing and lazy filmmaking, and it honestly isn’t worth even the minimal time and effort it takes to get off the couch and stick it in the DVD player.

SKIP IT.

stokerSTOKER / Directed by Park Chan-wook / Starring Mia Wasikowska, Nicole Kidman, Matthew Goode

Stoker marks the English-language debut of South Korean director Park Chan-wook, internationally known for his acclaimed Vengeance trilogy (Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance, Oldboy, Sympathy for Lady Vengeance). Written by Prison Break actor Wentworth Miller, the script pays loving homage to Alfred Hitchcock and is the perfect canvas for Park’s signature genre blend of mystery, thriller, and psychological horror.

The eerily pale palette of the film’s American midwest is brought to life with stunning performances. Mia Wasikowska is perfectly detached as aloof 18 year-old India Stoker, and Nicole Kidman’s portrayal of a disturbed mother leaves you wondering why she isn’t in more horror movies. The cinematography sometimes feels a little contrived, with bizarre match-cuts and angles that scream “LOOK HOW ARTSY WE ARE!”, but it’s a fascinating story to unravel and then put back together, piece by piece. 

SEE IT.

About Isabel Hsu

Isabel is a film student, comic book lover, movie theater addict, Boston sports fanatic, poster print hoarder, and pop culture junkie. She's also probably shorter than you. Twitter: @isabelhsu_.

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