Category Archives: Reviews

Tomato Monster Review: Justin Bieber: Never Say Never

Rotten Tomatoes Grade: 64%
RT Top Critics Grade: 58%
MetaCritic Score: 54
Tomato Monster Grade: B-
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The Tomato Monster

The dirty truth about this movie…Chu puts together a solid documentary. The grade could have been higher, and I think it would have been if the subject would have been different. The movie making quality was superb and much better than the apparent cheese filled ‘Step Up’ movies he directed.

The movie did a great job of telling two stories at the same time. It was good storytelling by Chu to intertwine Bieber’s biographical sketch with the build up to the Madison Square Garden show.

It should be known that I was a closet Bieber fan coming into the movie. But on the real, his story was worthy of the big screen. An inspirational story of a kid who had a dream, talent and a powerful Twitter account.
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Messages/Themes

      • The internet is insanely powerful.
      • Even though it’s not the main emphasis of the movie, it makes a strong case for the necessity of social networking in rising to the top in today’s culture.
      • Don’t let age hold you back from chasing your dreams

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Directed by: Jon Chu

‘Never Say Never’ is Chu’s 3rd feature film that he has directed, & his 1st documentary. His average score on the Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer is 45.3%.

Chu is currently directing G.I. Joe II which is scheduled to gone out in August of 2012.
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Budget: $13 million
Box Office: $98.4 million
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Tomato Monster Review: Captain America: The First Avenger

Rotten Tomatoes Grade: 77%
RT Top Critics Grade: 76%
Metacritic Grade: 67
Tomato Monster Grade: B+
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The Tomato Monster

‘Captain America: The First Avenger’ is one of my favorite movies that I’ve seen in a long time for the simple reason that I thoroughly enjoyed myself.  I enjoyed that they told Cap’s story as a period piece, and I bought it.  It had the feel of an older movie, but didn’t submit itself to being cheesy or campy, despite what other people are saying.  ‘The First Avenger’ isn’t a summer blockbuster because of massive CGI and explosions, but because it is a piece of good storytelling.  The script was witty, obtaining just the right amount of humor.  The super juiced Captain America managed to show his super human ability with a sense of realism.  People often disconnect from the hero in a film because they can’t relate to the character.  Not so with Steve Rogers.  Chris Evans put together an impressive piece of acting, especially as pre-Captain America Steve Rogers.  Tommy Lee Jones and Stanley Tucci were hidden gems in this cast, taking this movie up to a level it would have been unable to reach without them.

Many critics are saying that this movie was nothing more than a set-up for next summer’s blockbuster ‘The Avengers.’  I think the only truth to that statement is embedded in the title of the movie, dubbing Cap as the ‘First Avenger.’  Other than that, and of course the ending and the teaser trailer after the credits, this movie could stand alone as great telling of the origins of a legendary super hero.

Were there elements of weakness.  Sure.  I didn’t totally appreciate Cap’s identity crisis.  It was the one moment in the film where it started to loose me with hints of cheese.  Also, Hugo Weaving’s interpretation of the Red Skull was less than believable for me.

With that being said, ‘Captain America’ is a movie that I could watch in any mood.  That is saying something.  As a comic book nerd, I feel as if this is one of the most believable, while still remaining true to the character in print (especially 40’s Cap), comic book movies ever made.  You served the summer well Cap.  The Tomato Monster gives ‘Captain America: The First Avenger’ a B+.
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Messages/Themes

    • A distinguishing trait that wins Steve Rogers the job of Captain America was his compassion
    • The individual that has hunger and passion, humbleness & humility, and the willingness to instinctively sacrifice oneself for others is the one most fit to lead.
    • Your gifts and abilities were given to you to be used. Don’t waste them.
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Directed by: Joe Johnston, who had worked as a director in the period films ‘The Rocketeer’ and ‘October Sky’, was a logical choice as director of ‘Captain America: The First Avenger.’ Johnston got his start in the movie business working in special effects for George Lucas in the original ‘Star Wars’ trilogy and with Steven Spielberg’s ‘Indiana Jones: Raiders of the Lost Ark.’ After that he had the itch to get in the director’s seat, and has built an anthology of work that has allowed him to use his passion for special effects. Johnston is probably most known for his work in ‘The Rocketeer’, ‘Honey, I Shrunk the Kids’, and ‘October Sky. His average grade on the Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer in a directorial role is a 59%.

Written by: Christopher Markus & Stephen McFeely have collaborated together to write all of their movies except one (Markus – ‘The Life and Death of Peter Sellers). Together they have written 3 of the ‘Chronicles of Narnia’ films, as well as the mob comedy ‘You Kill Me.’ Their average grade on the Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer is a 68.2%.
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Budget: $140 million
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Trivia

      • Joe Johnston was chosen as the film’s director for his work on the period adventure films The Rocketeer and October Sky.
      • Kellan Lutz, Ryan Phillippe and Alexander Skarsgård carried out auditions, but ultimately the role went to Chris Evans.
      • Emily Blunt turned down the role of Peggy Carter.
      • This is the fifth live-action adaptation of the superhero. The first was the serial Captain America; the second was the TV movie Captain America and its sequel Captain America II: Death Too Soon; and the fourth was the theatrical film Captain America.
      • To prepare for her role as Peggy Carter, Hayley Atwell trained six days a week.
      • Chris Evans seventh comic book movie after the two Fantastic Four movies, TMNT (2007) Push (2009)The Losers, and Scott Pilgrim vs. the World.
      • Chris Evans declined the role three times before accepting the part. After that, he had a meeting with the director and the producers who convinced him to take the role.
      • To prepare for his role as Bucky, Sebastian Stan watched many World War II films/documentaries, and drew inspiration from “Band of Brothers.”
      • Stanley Tucci took the role of Dr. Reinstein because the role enabled him to use a German accent, which he always wanted to do.
(Via IMDB)

Tomato Monster Review: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2

Rotten Tomatoes Grade: 96%
RT Top Critics Grade: 100%
Metacritic Score: 87
TomatoMonster Grade: A-
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The Tomato Monster

There were high expectations for ‘Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2’, and the grand finale managed to exceed them.  David Yates and Steve Kloves managed to put together a conclusion that was a perfect blend of action married with emotion, which equated in seemingly perfect pacing. While I was skeptical of splitting Rowling’s final book into two installments, my skepticism has now been rendered void.  ‘Part 2’ gave the highest grossing movie saga in history the exciting and riveting conclusion that it deserved.

Daniel Racliffe and Alan Rickman (Snape) easily turned in their most impressive and emotionally stretching performances of the series, and Ralph Fiennes (Voldemort) easily cemented himself as truly one of the greatest villains in movie history with his performance.  ‘Part 2’ was so good, that even someone who knew nothing about the story would be able to walk away and say “That was good.”

Plain and simple, this film was really good, and will leave an imprint in the minds of viewers for years to come.  After viewer watches the final epilogue, they are moved to go back to the beginning and watch it all over again, which is what any good conclusion should do.

Is ‘Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2’ one of the best movies I have ever seen?  Probably not.  Do I think that the movie was near perfection within its genre and in completing what it set out to do?  Absolutely.
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Messages/Themes

  • Ultimately in the end, the Harry Potter story is one of self-sacrifice, displaying the truest form of love…the willingness to lay down your life for the people you love.
  • In order to truly find victory, you must be able to face your deepest and darkest thoughts and fears.
  • True friendship only grows stronger when it perseveres through trials.
  • Maternal love is stronger than obsessive love.

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Directed by: David Yates has directed the final 4 installments of the Harry Potter saga, but ‘Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2’ is definitely his most highly acclaimed work-to-date.  The average grade of the four Harry Potter installments that Yates directed is a 84.3%.  Yates was nominated for a Primetime Emmy for his work in the HBO series ‘The Girl in the Cafe” (2005).

Written by: Steve Cloves has been the Screenwriter of every Harry Potter film except ‘The Order of the Phoenix.’  Kloves’ career has been nearly flawless up until this point.  He has never written a movie that has ever received a failing grade on the Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer (11 movies), and his average score is a 82.5%.  Kloves has been nominated for an Oscar and a Writers Guild Award for his writing in ‘Wonder Boys’ and he also received a WGA nomination for his work in ‘The Fabulous Baker Boys’.  Most recently Kloves helped write the screenplay for ‘The Amazing Spider-Man’ which will be released next year.
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Trivia

*****SPOILER ALERT*****

  • Not long after Alan Rickman started to play Severus Snape, J.K. Rowling told him some character secrets about Snape that would not be otherwise revealed until the last book. Most significantly, Rickman was one of the very few people other than Rowling to know (years ahead of the last book’s publication) that Snape had been in love with Lily Evans (later Potter) when they were students at Hogwarts, and both Snape’s protection of and antagonism toward Harry came from that. Rowling said that she shared this information with Rickman because “he needed to understand, I think, and does completely understand and did completely understand where this bitterness towards this boy, who’s living proof of Lily’s preference for another man, came from.”
  • The script was originally written, like the book, to include Draco Malfoy’s bully friends, Crabbe and Goyle. As in the book, Crabbe was to be killed in a climactic battle. Jamie Waylett‘s arrest and conviction on drug charges, however, forced the filmmakers to change this plan. Crabbe was written out of the script, with Goyle being killed in his place.
  • Both Emma Watson and Rupert Grint have stated in several separate interviews, that filming their much awaited on-screen kiss was an “absolutely horrible” experience, due to Emma’s admission of Rupert being “like a brother.” It took only six takes to complete; whereas the kiss between Harry & Ginny took around ten, Ron & Lavender approx. 15, and Harry & Cho took over 30 takes, by comparison.
  • The filmmakers persuaded Tom Felton to convince his girlfriend, Jade Olivia, to play Draco Malfoy’s wife, Astoria Greengrass, in the film’s  epilogue.
    (Via IMDB)

Tomato Monster Review: The Kings Speech

Rotten Tomatoes Grade: 95%
RT Top Critics Grade: 97%
Tomatoe Monster Grade: A
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The Tomato Monster

I believed that ‘The Kings Speech’ lived up to all the hype, and then some. Maybe I’m overreacting with positivity because a movie with an uplifting story and message took home the Best Picture at the Oscars.

The movie wasn’t just good because it was a feel-good story. It was brilliant because it managed to keep your attention despite the fact that it didn’t involve CGI or violent action sequences. The film actually moved at a quick pace, due to a very witty script.  The cinematography was unique for a historical movie. It was artistic, embraced different angles, and was at times choppy. ‘The Kings Speech’ did what every great movie should do: it moved the audience emotionally and it inspired.

The relationship between Firth and Rush was one of my favorites of all time, rivaling Val Kilmer and Kurt Russell in ‘Tombstone.’  Helena Bonham Carter was very impressive showing a different and more sophisticated side than we have been used to from her (Harry Potter, Alice and Wonderland, Sweeney Todd, etc.).

‘The King’s Speech’ is a movie that connects with a wide audience, because the film boasts a protagonist that is much more like the ‘average Joe’ than a superhero. A story of an unlikely hero, arising to an unlikely position in an unlikely time, who wouldn’t have made it with out an unlikely friend.

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Accolades

Academy Awards

Nominated for 12…Won 4 Oscars

Won Best Directing – Tom Hooper
Won Best Picture
Won Best Actor – Collin Firth (1st Oscar, 2nd Nomination – A Single Man)
Won Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen – David Seidler
Nominated for Best Supporting Actor – Geoffrey Rush (4th Nomination – Shakespeare in Love (SA), Quills (LA). Won the Oscar for Best Actor in ‘Shine’)
Nominated for Best Supporting Actress – Helena Bonham Carter (2nd Nomination – Best Actress in ‘The Wings of the Dove’)
Nominated for Best Art Direction -Eve Stewart (2nd Nomination – Topsy Turvy) & Judy Farr
Best Cinematography – Danny Cohen
Best Costume Design – Jenny Beavan (9th Nomination – Gosford Park, Anna and the King, Sense and Sensibility, The Remains of the Day, Howard’s End, Maurice, The Bostonians. Won Oscar for ‘A Room With a View.
Best Editing – Tariq Anwar (2nd Nomination – American Beauty)
Best Original Score -Alexandre Desplat (4th Nomination – Fantastic Mr. Fox, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, The Queen)
Best Sound Mixing -John Midgley (2nd Nomination – Star Wars Episode I), Paul Hamblin & Martin Jensen

Golden Globes

Nominated for 6…Won 1 Golden Globe

Won Globe for Best Actor – Collin Firth (“”)
Nominated for Best Director – Tom Hooper
Nominated for Best Picture
Nominated for Best Supporting Actor – Geoffrey Rush (Nominated for 5 Globes – Quills (LA), Shakespeare in Love (SA). Won a Globe for ‘Shine’ (LA) & ‘The Life and Death of Peter Sellers’ (TV)
Nominated for Best Supporting Actor – Helena Bonham Carter (Nominated for 6 Globes – Sweeney Todd (SA Musical or Comedy), The Wings of the Dove (LA Drama), Live From Baghdad (LA TV), Merlin (SA TV), Fatal Deception (LA TV)
Nominated for Best Original Score – Alexandre Desplat (Nominated for 5 Globes – The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Syriana, Girl With a Pearl Earring. Won Globe for ‘The Painted Veil’.

Guild Awards

Arts Directors Guild

Nominated – Eve Stewart

Directors Guild Awards

Won Best Director: Tom Hooper

Producers Guild Award

Won Best Picture

Screen Actors Guild Awards

Won Best Cast
Won Best Actor – Collin Firth (Nominated 2 times – A Single Man)
Nominated for Best Supporting Actor – Geoffrey Rush (Nominated 5 times – Quills (LA), Shakespeare in Love (SA). Won award for ‘The Life and Death of Peter Sellers’ (LA TV) & ‘Shine’ (LA)
Nominated for Best Supporting Actress – Helena Bonham Carter (Nominated 2 times – The Wings of the Dove)
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Directed by : Tom Hooper

‘The Kings Speech’ is the 2nd film Hooper has directed. His average score on the Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer is 94.5%

Movies with Passing Grades: The Kings Speech (95%) & The Damned United (94%)

Hooper had a very successful career directing in television prior to his work in ‘The Damned United’. He was nominated for the DGA for directing the HBO miniseries ‘John Adams’. He also won an Emmy for directing the HBO miniseries ‘Elizabeth I’. He was also nominated for Emmy’s for his directing in ‘John Adams’ & the PBS ‘Prime Suspect 6’.

Written by: David Seidler

Seidler has been nominated for 3 Writers Guild Awards for his work in television – By Dawns Early Light (Children’s Script), Onassis (Adapted Long Form), My Father, My Son (Original Long Form)

Seidler has written two movies that were critically reviewed and his average score on the Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer is 59%.
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Budget: $15,000,000
Box Office: $139,000,000 (US)
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Themes/Messages

    • It is a vivid picture of perseverance in the face of adversity.
    • The relationships between Firth & Rush and Firth & Bonham Carter are a perfect example of why we aren’t meant to go through trials alone and that we are bettered by the accompaniment and influence of others.
    • Helena Bonham Carter paints a picture of a loyal spouse.
    • Unlikely times call for unlikely heroes.
    • Don’t let your fear of failure discount you from leading people when they need it.
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Trivia

    • The author, David Seidler suffered from a stammer as a child. Having heard George VI’s wartime speech as a child, he (later in his adult life) had written to the Queen Mother asking for permission to use the King’s story to create a film. The Queen Mother asked him not to during her lifetime, citing that the memories were too painful. Seidler respected her request.
    • The role of King George VI was written with Paul Bettany in mind but Bettany declined to spend more time with his family and later admitted that he regretted his decision. Colin Firth was cast instead and later nominated for and awarded with an Oscar for his performance.
    • At age 73, David Seidler became the oldest person to ever win the Best Original Screenplay Academy Award (Oscar) for this film.