Sunday, September 26, 2010

Change of Address

If you're a regular reader, you may or may not have noticed the focus of this blog subtly changing lately.  It's become more of a general movie review blog and shifted away from its original focus on "disreputable film and music".  It's reached the point where I feel the name Utter Trash no longer accurately reflects the content.  With that in mind, I've decided to start from scratch with a new blog.

It's called The Cleveland Movie Blog (  The intent of this new blog will be to offer reviews of as many of the films playing theaters in Northeast Ohio as possible.  I'll also be offering news about local filmmakers and movie related events taking place in the area.  I'll still be including reviews of new straight to video films, including plenty of cult, horror and exploitation flicks.  That kind of stuff just won't be my primary focus anymore.  So if you like reading my stuff and this new direction doesn't bother you, please add the new site to your bookmarks, "follow" the new blog and/or subscribe to posts using the RSS feed, and tell any of your friends you think might be interested.


Friday, September 24, 2010

Movie Review: 'Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole'

They may look cute, but the owls in The Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole engage in some decidedly un-cuddly behavior.  In fact, there's very little in the way of light-hearted anthropomorphic animal hi-jinks here.  Instead we get kidnappings, brainwashing, daring escapes, and epic battles between good and evil.  Nothing wrong with that in and of itself, but parents may want to consider whether their young ones are ready for such intense fare. 

For slightly older kids and the adults accompanying them, this is fairly standard-issue heroic adventure stuff.  The plot sets owl brother against owl brother.  Soren (voiced by Jim Sturgess) gathers together a group of unlikely allies and learns how to “use his gizzard” (the owl equivalent of the force) from the wise old Ezylryb (voiced by Geoffrey Rush).  His brother Kludd (voiced by Ryan Kwanten) joins forces with The Pure Ones, a group of racist owls led by Nyra (voiced by Helen Mirren) and Metalbeak (voiced by Joel Edgerton).  And so the stage is set for the inevitable confrontation between good and evil.

The plot may be a bit familiar, but it's refreshing that the film doesn't overly sanitize it's feathered protagonists, allowing them to be the mouse-munching predators they are in real life.   Also praiseworthy is the way it tackles some fairly strong themes about how war and violence shouldn't be viewed as heroic; but rather as regrettable, if sometimes necessary, evils.  Of course a lot of that gets undermined by Director Zack Snyder (300, The Watchmen), who shoots the battle scenes like violent eye candy.  Essentially, the script has one point of view, the visuals have another, and no one seemed to feel it was necessary to reconcile the two.

Still, if nothing else Snyder knows how to make a visually stunning movie.  If you've seen a few CG kiddie flicks, you know they all look pretty much the same.  Not this one.  Legend of the Guardians creates a rich and unique world for its characters to inhabit.  It's a world that leaves one with a lot of questions, like how do owls craft extremely detailed helmets, or manage to strap such pieces of headgear on, but perhaps it's best not to think too deeply on these matters.  Oddly enough, despite the striking visuals, the 3D aspects of the movie aren't all that impressive.  If you're going to see this one, save yourself the extra couple of bucks and watch it flat.  2 ½ out of 4 stars.

Movie Review: 'Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps'

1987’s Wall Street is one of the defining movies of its decade.  This year’s sequel… not so much.  As Money Never Sleeps begins, Gordon Gekko (Michael Douglas) has finished serving a long prison sentence for the crimes he committed in the previous film.  He’s released just in time to write a book warning of the 2008 financial crisis which would make his corporate raider exploits look positively quaint by comparison.  But the truth is, this movie is far more concerned with soapy melodrama than director Oliver Stone’s trademark political vitriol. 

Rather than follow the money, the movie follows the romance between up and coming trader Jacob (Shia Lebouf) and Gekko’s daughter Winnie (Carrie Mulligan).   Their relationship becomes complicated when Jacob falls under Gordon’s spell.  Winnie wants nothing to do wither her dad, but Jacob offers to help father and daughter reconnect in exchange for a little help dealing with Bretton James (Josh Brolin), a corporate scumbag who is at least somewhat responsible for the suicide of Jacob’s mentor (Frank Langella).   I won’t give away the ending, but let me just say that it’s pure cornball schmaltz.  It all adds up to something like a big budget extended episode of Dallas.  Still, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t entertained.  Call it 2 ½ out of 4 stars.