Step Up All In (2014)

Step Up All In
Director: Trish Sie
Writer: John Swetnam
Sequel to: Step Up, Step Up 2: The Streets, Step Up 3D, Step Up Revolution
Cast: Ryan Guzman, Briana Evigan, Adam G. Sevani, Misha Gabriel Hamilton, Stephen Boss, Stephen Stevo Jones, David Shreibman, Christopher Scott, Chadd Smith, Cyrus Spencer, Alyson Stoner, Izabella Miko

Sean (Ryan Guzman) and his crew The Mob have been trying their luck in LA. But things don’t really work out, so they all want to go home. Only Sean isn’t prepared to give up yet. He comes to Moose (Adam G. Sevani) for help, who manages to find him a place to stay and some work. When Sean finds out about a dance competition that offers the winner a three-year-contract for a show in Las Vegas, he is set on winning it. So he asks Moose who now works as an engineer to join him and together they look for a crew. Fortunately, Moose has met many dancers in his time.

I was rather surprised by Step Up All In. Expecting the usual dance film hilarity (though honestly the Step Up series is probably the best one out there), I of course brought alcohol to wash the cliches down with. But I barely needed it during the film (which is not to say that I didn’t drink it anyway). Not because there aren’t any cliches, but because they are rather entertaining on their own.

stepupallin Continue reading

How to Train Your Dragon 2 (2014)

How to Train Your Dragon 2
Director: Dean DeBlois
Writer: Dean DeBlois
Based on: Cressida Cowell‘s books
Sequel to: How to Train Your Dragon
Cast: Jay BaruchelCate Blanchett, Gerard Butler, Craig Ferguson, America Ferrera, Jonah Hill, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, T.J. Miller, Kristen Wiig, Djimon Hounsou, Kit Harington

After the events of How to Train Your Dragon, a lot has changed in Hiccup’s (Jay Baruchel) village. His father Stoick (Gerard Butler) is even talking about grooming Hiccup for leadership. Bue he would rather map the world flying around with Toothless and looking for other Night Furies. But instead of that, what Hiccup finds are other dragon riders and dragon hunters who kidnap the dragons for an entirely sinister purpose.

There is a lot to love about How to Train Your Dragon 2, but there are also a couple of things that I didn’t love at all. But the enjoyment did outweigh the issues.

howtotrainyourdragon2 Continue reading

Re-Watch: How to Train Your Dragon (2010)

How to Train Your Dragon
Director: Dean DeBlois, Chris Sanders
Writer: William Davies, Dean DeBlois, Chris Sanders
Based on: Cressida Cowell‘s books
Cast: Jay Baruchel, Gerard Butler, Craig Ferguson, America Ferrera, Jonah Hill, Christopher Mintz-Plasse
[Here’s my first review.]

A Viking village. Hiccup (Jay Baruchel) is the son of the Chief Stoick (Gerard Butler) and dreams about slaying dragons like all the rest. Unfortunately for all the rest, Hiccup has a knack for building machinery and is incredibly clumsy. One day, Hiccup manages to actually down a dragon – and one of the infamous Night Furies. But nobody believes him, so he sets out to find and kill it. But when he does find it, he is not able to hurt the creature. Instead the two of them slowly strike up a friendship.

I knew that I liked How to Train Your Dragon when I first saw it but I had forgotten how positively wonderful it was. Even on second watch, it made me cry. And laugh, of course. And seriously crave a Toothless of my own.

how-to-train-your-dragon Continue reading

Flowers in the Attic (2014)

Flowers in the Attic
Director: Deborah Chow
Writer: Kayla Alpert
Based on: V.C. Andrewsnovel (the first in the Dollanganger Series)
Cast: Heather Graham, Ellen Burstyn, Kiernan Shipka, Mason Dye

Cathy (Kiernan Shipka) leads a happy, sheltered life with her parents and siblings. But when her father suddenly dies, her mother Corrine (Heather Graham) doesn’t know what else to do – so she returns to her parents, despite the falling out she had with them. But once they’re there, it becomes clear that Cathy’s grandmother (Ellen Burstyn) doesn’t want the children there. Instead of a warm welcome and a safe haven, Cathy, her older brother Christopher (Mason Dye) and their two younger, still incomprehending siblings get locked into the attic for an indeterminate amount of time, with only occasional visits by their cruel, religious grandmother and their flighty mother.

I am not entirely sure why I started watching this film or why I finished it. The entire set-up is so convoluted, the acting is so very mediocre (apart from Ellen Burstyn and Heather Graham) and then the incest… but it does go by rather quickly and I watched it with a kind of horrified fascination.



Continue reading

Reaching First (Mindy Klasky)

Reaching First is the third novel in the Diamond Brides series by Mindy Klasky. [I won this book in a Librarything Early Reviewer giveaway.]

On the surface, Tyler Brock has pretty much everything: a successful career as a baseball player, money, good looks. But he is hiding something from the world: the fact that he can’t read. But since he knows his surroundings, that is not that much of an issue. But then he gets transferred to a new team in Raleigh. And just before he leaves, he gets into a bar fight and now has to serve a hundred hours community service. Which he is supposed to fulfill at Emily Holt’s project of building a support center for veterans and their families. Tyler and Emily are immediately drawn to each other. But when Emily starts asking Tyler for work that requires him to read, they start clashing. And things aren’t made easier by the fact that Emily isn’t entirely upfront about everything, either.

Reaching First was a quick, entertaining read that is pretty much a standard romance. Nothing much will surprise you, but it mostly achieves what it sets out to do. The ending is a little quick and a little too sweet, but other than that it was enjoyable, if not very memorable.



Continue reading

Ödipussi (1988)

Director: Vicco von Bülow aka Loriot
Writer: Vicco von Bülow
Cast: Vicco von Bülow, Katharina Brauren, Evelyn Hamann

Paul (Vicco von Bülow) is rather middle-aged but still spends most of his time when he isn’t working as a furniture salesman with his mother (Evelyn Hamann) who cooks for him, does his laundry and expects him to play scrabble with her and her friends. But when Paul, affectionately called Pussi, meets psychologist Margarete (Katharina Brauren) he starts to show an actual interest in a woman who isn’t his mother.

Ödipussi – a pun, as you probably gathered, on the Oedipus complex – is a classic of German comedy (contrary to Austrian popular belief, Germans do have a sense of humor) and it’s wonderfully absurd. It does end weirdly but that doesn’t make it any less entertaining.

oedipussi Continue reading

The Purge: Anarchy (2014)

The Purge: Anarchy
Director: James DeMonaco
Writer: James DeMonaco
Sequel to: The Purge
Cast: Frank Grillo, Carmen Ejogo, Zach Gilford, Kiele Sanchez, Zoë Soul, Justina Machado, Michael K. Williams, Edwin Hodge, John Beasley

It’s Purge Night: For one night every year, all crime is legal. In the poorest parts of Los Angeles this means that all hell breaks loose as the rich descend on the poor to prey on them. One man (Frank Grillo) wants to use the Purge Night for revenge, while others just get caught in the middle – like Cali (Zoë Soul) and Eva (Carmen Ejogo) who are attacked in their own home and have to flee or Shane (Zach Gilford) and Liz (Kiele Sanchez) whose car breaks down. By chance, the five of them find each other and try to survive the night together.

The Purge: Anarchy is a lot better than the first Purge film, but since that was abysmal that isn’t saying much. While at least we get to see a bit more of the interesting stuff in this film, it still suffers from a big lack of coherence.

the-purge-anarchy Continue reading

Re-Watch: The Purge (2013)

The Purge
Director: James DeMonaco
Writer: James DeMonaco
Cast: Ethan Hawke, Lena Headey, Max Burkholder, Adelaide Kane,
Edwin Hodge, Rhys Wakefield, Tony Oller
[Here’y my first review.]

It’s 2022 and the USA is doing great. They attribute this to the Purge: one night every year where crimes are legal. The Sandins are supporters of the Purge, James Sandin (Ethan Hawke) makes his money (and a lot of it) by selling security systems and together with his wife Mary (Lena Headey) he pretty much has the perfect suburban family. But this Purge Night things start to go very wrong and the Sandins find themselves besieged in their own house.

I didn’t like the Purge the first time I saw it and probably wouldn’t even have watched it a second time if it hadn’t been for the double feature at my local cinema (review of the second one follows) and the company of some of my /slash colleagues. In any case it is safe to say that the film does not improve on re-watching. At all.

thepurge Continue reading

The Strain (Guillermo del Toro, Chuck Hogan)

The Strain is the first novel in The Strain Trilogy by Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan.

A plane lands in New York City and goes dark immediately. When it’s finally opened up, it becomes clear that everybody on board is dead. The CDC in the form of Ephraim Goodweather and his colleagues is called in to find out what could kill an entire plane full of people. But what Eph slowly finds out is that this is no normal infectious disease but something rather more sinister – and whatever it is, is spreading fast and quickly threatens the entire city.

While The Strain isn’t the greatest book ever written, there is much to love about it. From the concept of hard sci-fi vampires, to their take on vampirism in general and its compelling readability.

the-strain Continue reading

Und in der Mitte, da sind wir [And There We Are, In The Middle] (2014)

Und in der Mitte, da sind wir
Director: Sebastian Brameshuber
Writer: Sebastian Brameshuber

In 2009 in the village of Ebensee (Austria), teenagers interrupted a WW2 memorial service at a former concentration camp by shooting people with air guns while shouting Nazi slogans. Und in der Mitte, da sind wir is a documentary about the lives of three teenagers living in Ebensee right now and about the entire community’s way of dealing with what happend in 2009 and in World War 2.

As somebody from Austria and rather aware of the Nazi remainders in our culture, Und in der Mitte, da sind wir didn’t provide a whole lot of new insight. But Brameshuber has a good eye for scenes and events that should be featured in his documentary. And for people not as familiar with the problems in Austria, it should certainly be a good primer.

undindermittedasindwir Continue reading