Saturday, July 31, 2010

Toy Story 3 is a joy to watch...

Toy Story 3 has heart, great characters and most of all a fantastic story, making it a joy to watch.
Toy Story 3 poster
It took me a while, but I was determined to enjoy the third Toy Story installment from Disney/Pixar on the big screen rather than on DVD, and I'm so glad I did.
Buzz Lightyear Toy Story 3 poster
Initially when the movie was introduced (they do that at ArcLight cinemas) and they said to make yourself comfortable for the next two hours or so (with the trailers and animated short before the movie), I was concerned, but the time just flew by.
Rex Toy Story 3 poster
There's so much to enjoy, it's an engaging story with so many new ideas and great characterisation for all your existing favourites and the new toys that are introduced.
Woody Toy Story 3 poster
You really feel that these toys are living, breathing people with feelings, as their desire to be played with by their grown-up owner 'Andy' is so emotive, but it never descends into schmaltzy sentimentality.
Mr Potato Head Toy Story 3 poster
The movie is so clever and works on so many levels, appealing to old and young. Take for instance the audience I saw it with. Amongst my weekday viewers were a couple in their sixties, a dad and his two young kids, a thirty-something couple on a date, another group of children with their mother. I think it appeals to everyone because they don't dumb down the plot and treat the characters like real actors and give them really meaty roles to play.
Hamm Toy Story 3 poster
It's also the 'darkest' of the franchise as it really does delve into the depths of abandonment, which is personified by 'Lotso' bear, and there is also a sense of peril and more than a few tear-jerker moments when you can't help but well up.
Slinky Dog Toy Story 3 poster
I loved how all the original toys had their moment to shine and their dialogue and actions were so in character, plus I loved the new additions like the thespian hedgehog 'Mr. Pricklepants','Buttercup' the stuffed unicorn, 'Trixie' the triceratops and probably the stand-out of the whole movie, Barbie's 'Ken'.
Jessie Toy Story 3 poster
Oh 'Ken', how I love you and your wonderful outfits and how you get your groove on. There were so many laugh out loud moments to enjoy.
Toy Story 3 teaser poster
And 'Buzz Lightyear' continues to delight and is genuinely hilarious in Spanish language mode.
Toy Story 3 film poster
There's so much more to be said about the movie, but you must go and discover it for yourself if you already haven't. I give Toy Story 3 five fantastic ***** stars.

If only Disney's live-action movies could be this good...

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

The Sorcerer's Apprentice conjures up a movie treat...

The Sorcerer's Apprentice is old-school movie making at its best, but that's also its major flaw, as it's entertaining but it does feel slightly old fashioned in its approach.
The Sorcerer's Apprentice movie billboard
The film starts off like those classic 80's movie where a kid wanders in to a store and ends up on an amazing adventure, think The NeverEnding Story or The Goonies. Unfortunately even though it evokes that kind of nostalgia you can't help but think it makes the movie a little dated.

Original Sorcerer's Apprentice movie costumes
I actually enjoyed the movie and thought it was a lot of fun, with some great comedic touches. I even like Nicholas Cage as the long-lived 'Balthazar Blake' and Jay Baruchel's whiney twenty year old college student, 'Dave', was also a mostly relatable and likable character.

For Disney aficionados they'll love the recreation of Fantasia's dancing mops, although I'm a bit troubled that Dave's destiny is to kill the villainous 'Morgana le Fay', as that doesn't feel very Disney at all.

Alfred Molina makes for a great villain, 'Horvath', and there are also some great special effects in the movie, from the visualization of magic, to the colourful ticker-tape and dragon battle in New York's Chinatown.
The Sorcerer's Apprentice film poster
Where the film falls down is on the depth of the plot. It's quite a simple story, with not much meat on the bones, in fact the opening sequence of the movie where the history of the sorcerers is related is pretty weak. These days I think cinema goers expect more complexity from their movies, even children.

There are also throwaway characters, like the Chinese wizard 'Sun-Lok', and Horvath's fellow Morganian helper, 'Drake Stone', is played too much for laughs and is frankly quite annoying.

It's also a bit unbelievable that Dave could master his magical powers so quickly to defeat the greatest evil ever.
The Sorcerer's Apprentice teaser poster
Having said all that it's best not to dwell on the movie's flaws and just give yourself over to the fantasy adventure which I give three *** stars.

I'm surprised The Sorcerer's Apprentice hasn't done better at the box office, but maybe there are only so many Harry Potter and Percy Jackson's audiences can take and maybe they are looking for some more original ideas to inspire them.

If you like the film be sure to check out some of the original costumes from The Sorcerer's Apprentice on display at ArcLight Sherman Oaks cinema.

I'm highly anticipating Disney's Tron Legacy in December, so let's hope that doesn't disappoint as the trailers so far look awesome.

I'll keep my fingers crossed...

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Movie, TV and fashion billboards round-up for L.A. in July 2010...

This month there have been an abundance of new season television billboards lining L.A.'s cluttered skyline, whilst the big fashion brands have been heating up the streets with some provocative advertising. There's also been some great movie billboards designed to catch your eye, so enjoy this collection of cool billboards around Los Angeles in July 2010.

Movie billboards
Tron Legacy billboard
First up is this arresting new teaser billboard for Disney's forthcoming Tron revival, featuring Garrett Hedlund as 'Sam Flynn' in Tron Legacy.
Zac Efron Charlie St Cloud billboard
Zac Efron is another pretty boy standing out amongst July's billboard advertising with this colourful creative for his new movie Charlie St. Cloud.
Sorcerer's Apprentice billboard
The Sorcerer's Apprentice may have been a box office flop, but I still like this billboard creative for the movie.
Inception billboard
I really liked these mind-bending billboards for Christopher Nolan's intriguing Inception. They really captured the spirit of the movie.
Inception film billboard
If you loved the movie be sure to check out original costumes and props from Inception at Hollywood Movie Costumes and Props.The Expendables film billboard
It's not on my must-see movie list, but this billboard for The Expendables is jam-packed with action heroes and is certainly going after that male movie going demographic.
The Other Guys film billboard
And finally for movies, this billboard for The Other Guys sends up typical 'cop buddy movies' and looks like lots of fun.

TV billboards
Hung season 2 billboard
The second season billboard for Hung certainly makes an impact along Sunset Boulevard in July.
White Collar season 2 billboard
Attractive men in sharp suits seem to be the order of the day in the next three TV billboards. First up is the second season creative for White Collar.
Rubicon TV billboard
Next is new conspiracy drama, Rubicon, which has an intriguing name to compliment the simple billboard.
Mad Men season 4 billboard
Finally Jon Hamm's 'Don Draper' looks suitably enigmatic in this fourth season promotional billboard for 60's based American advertising agency drama, Mad Men.
The Big C Showtime billboard
Laura Linney grabs life by the balls in Showtime's new comedy about living with cancer and making the most of life, in The Big C.
Chasing Mummies TV billboard
Finally for TV is this Indiana Jones-esque billboard for The History Channel's Chasing Mummies show, which really grabs your attention along Sunset Boulevard as you drive by.

Fashion & Fragrance billboards
James Franco Gucci billboard
James Franco looks totally sexy dripping wet in this stylish billboard for the new Gucci male fragrance.
Hot AX male model fashion billboard
Sunset Boulevard certainly is teeming with imagery of hot young things this summer, everything from hot celebrities to buff male models in this mono creative for Armani Exchange and its steamy Bodies of Summer campaign.
Calvin Klein Jeans X billboard
Calvin Klein are not giving up without a fight though and this racy new creative is sure to stop traffic in the coming days.
Hot male model Parker & Ronen billboard
Parke & Ronen add some sex appeal to Santa Monica Boulevard with this swimwear billboard for their retail store along Melrose Avenue.
Under Armour billboard
This Under Armour montage billboard also flashes some flesh to catch your attention along Sunset Boulevard.
Hot American Apparel swimsuit billboard
And finally for fashion, American Apparel had this provocative swimsuit billboard to cause a stir a few blocks from their store along Melrose Avenue.

Music billboards
Steel Panther billboard
It may not be my kind of club night, but this billboard for 'Steel Panther' at the Key Club certainly adds some colour along the Sunset Strip.

Sports billboards
Dodgertown billboard
And finally for this month is this billboard for L.A.'s Dodgers who seem to have abandoned the celebrities in their Dodgertown 'This is my town' campaign in favour of actual baseball players.

Remember if you enjoy seeing the latest billboards from around L.A. check out Daily Billboard every day for new movie, TV, fashion and other cool creatives.

Come back at the end of August for next month's billboard round-up...

Monday, July 26, 2010

Braving the Freeway for a morning at Huntington Dog Beach...

Today Cooper and I braved the Freeway solo and made our way to Huntington Dog Beach for a morning of chasing tennis balls along the sandy shore.
Huntington Beach Labrador Cooper
For some the hour or so drive down to the Orange County beach from West Hollywood may not be such a big deal, but having only been driving for the last two years and very rarely on the Freeway, especially on my own, it was a bit of an achievement for me today.
Huntington Beach Labrador July 2010
I've wanted to take our two year old yellow Labrador to the fantastic dog beach on my own for a while now, but lately haven't had the time.
Huntington Beach yellow Labrador
So now that we've moved to our new condo and Cooper is settling in so well to his new home and the surrounding neighbourhood I thought he deserved a special outing.
Huntington Beach yellow Labrador
We waited for the morning rush hour traffic to clear and seemed to sail down to Huntington Beach.
Huntington Beach Labradors
It's a shame to say it wasn't the case when we returned just after lunchtime, as it took at least an extra 45 minutes to get back.
Happy Huntington Beach Labrador Cooper
It was a bit overcast when we arrived, but still really warm, and as you can probably tell from the photos and short video, it didn't bother Cooper in the slightest.

To be honest it was probably better for him as the way he races around the shoreline, too much sunshine and he'd probably overheat.
Huntington Dog Beach
It was refreshing to take a break from our morning walk around Runyon Canyon and really great to be able to launch Cooper's tennis ball far up the beach for him to race after.
Huntington Beach salty tongue Labrador
As usual he was fascinated by the waves, the floating seaweed and the surfers in the distance. He was tempted to go for a swim in the ocean whilst watching his fellow Labradors retrieving their toys, but I think the strong currents scared him off a bit.
Huntington Beach paw prints
That didn't stop him from having a ball though and after an hour of chasing up and down the sand and surf we headed back. After bath-time you can see how tired he was from the morning's activities.
Beach tired Labrador Cooper
Now that we've made the trip safely and relatively quickly in relation to other Ventura County or Santa Barbara dog-friendly beaches, I'm sure it's not the last time we'll take a drive down to Huntington Beach.

Now to make the most of the time whilst my exhausted, snoring pup sleeps...

Sunday, July 25, 2010

A spy thriller not worth its Salt...

I was really excited to go see Angelina Jolie's new espionage thriller, Salt, probably just as much for the intriguing woman herself as the sleeper agent plot of the movie. However even though it starts off as an exciting, action-packed romp, it soon descends into the realms of the unbelievable and predictability.
Who is Salt movie billboardSPOILER WARNING: Don't read any further unless you want to know major plot spoilers that may spoil your enjoyment of the movie!

Probably my biggest problem with this movie was the bad casting of one main character. Although he's a great actor, has Liev Schreiber been in any movie as anything other than a bad guy, from the Scream franchise to Wolverine's arch-nemesis Sabretooth (aside from wearing a dress as Vilma in Taking Woodstock)? So from the first moment I saw him I knew that he was going to be a Russian mole, it just seemed obvious.
Who is Salt film billboards
I do like the fact that in this day and age the film studios can produce an action movie with a major female Hollywood star. I'd read somewhere that the role of CIA Agent Salt was originally intended for a lead male actor, but it works much better for a female lead, as the emotional aspect makes more sense (up to a point at least).

I also feel it wasn't an exploitative role and the sexy Angelina Jolie wasn't forced to go nude just for titillation's sake.
Salt movie poster
Two thirds of the way through the movie and certainly by the end I got the impression that this was character was being groomed to be a female spy franchise along the line of The Bourne Trilogy of movies. It did feel too much like an introductory origin story, with little else meat on the bones.

Also another thing that irked me was for a master spy, when Evelyn Salt goes undercover she dyes her hair black, but it's still pretty much the same style as the blonde version. It's not that much of a disguise and maybe a few curls wouldn't have gone amiss to fool the Secret Service?

And finally her motivation after one major death in particular didn't really seem to make sense anymore, so that was all a bit confusing.
Salt movie billboard
I give Salt three *** stars, but my cinema companions loved it much more than me, so what do I know?

Maybe I'll like it more when I see it on DVD, or maybe because I've watched TV shows like the wonderfully twisty-turney Alias before, I'll never quite get it.

Let's hope there are some more good movies to come in 2010...

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Training outdoors with Open Sky Fitness...

So aside from walking Cooper, going to the movies and blogging, what else does an L.A. house-husband get up to you ask?
Exercising in the park
Well a couple of times a week you'll find Jason in Hollywood sweating himself silly outdoors and being put through the paces by Rob Dionne from Open Sky Fitness. At the moment he's helping me get in shape for the Disneyland half marathon in September.
Rob Open Sky Fitness
If anyone living in Los Angeles is looking for a trainer I'd highly recommend Rob, as no two workouts are ever the same and he's really great at keeping you motivated, especially when exercising doesn't come naturally to you.
Jason training outdoors
This is me exercising in the park near the infamous La Brea Tar Pits along Wilshire Boulevard.

Check out the Open Sky Fitness facebook page or his website for more details.
Jason in Hollywood training
Now if only I could give up the ice-cream, pizza and cocktails. Nah, I'll just enjoy them and keep exercising instead...