At least he’s on the wagon now.
After the wild events that took place in New York with Gods of Thunders and worm-holes and such, Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) has found himself in a bit of a crisis. Not only is he constantly reminded of what occurred, but he can’t seem to get any sleep and continually works on his hobby: building and building shit. It doesn’t matter what it is or what it could do, the fact is that he’s building shit, losing sleep, losing the love of his life, Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow), and losing what it means to be a superhero. However, an evil terrorist by the name of Mandarin (Ben Kingsley), might just change that feeling in the pit of his stomach and have him realize what it was about him that made him Iron Man in the first place.
Since the Avengers came, saw, and conquered the world last Summer, it seemed only right that Marvel would unleash it’s brand-new bag and go back to where it all started: Iron Man, or if you really want to be legit about it: Tony Stark. Without the first movie coming out in 2008 and taking over like it did, who knows just what the hell Marvel might have done not just with their fellow, other superheros, but in general as well. But from what we’ve all seen and what we do know is that Tony Stark is the go-to guy for when you need a compelling movie, and Iron Man is a pretty bad-ass superhero, even if he doesn’t have a big hammer. I still think that’s one of the all-time best weapons in superhero history. By far.
The first piece of curiosity that sprang through my mind when I initially heard of this movie happening, was the choice of Shane Black as director and co-writer. If you don’t know who this cat is, I suggest you go and find Kiss Kiss Bang Bang somewhere on DVD and check that out because it is a gem of a movie and it’s all because of Black. The guy’s also written Lethal Weapon, but in my eyes: his directorial-debut ranks supreme against all others because it’s funny, exciting, and filled to the brim with plot that may seem like over-kill, but keeps you guessing until the end. And just as promising as that may sound for a guy who’s about to tackle Iron Man, it still seemed strange considering that not only was this his second movie to date, but also that his first one had barely any CGI whatsoever, or action for that matter. Most of it was just shooting, guns, bullets, a car-crash, and fake blood. That was it. So, how the hell did Marvel trust this guy with their biggest money-maker to date?
Well, whatever it was that the big guys at M found in him, sure as hell worked because Black does a superb job as both director, and co-writer. Not only is his humor present throughout the whole flick, but the guy also finds a way to throw in some neat and nice little twists here and there to spice things up. One plot-twist that I won’t give up unless you want to e-mail me about it (CMrok93@yahoo.com), really divided this movie into two, different ways. Some will definitely go along with it and think that it was a nice-departure from what we are used to seeing with typical, superhero movies, whereas others may be a bit pissed and wished that they exactly got that typical, superhero movie they had grown so accustomed to. I still haven’t been able to rack my brain around whether or not I liked it all that much, but I will say that in Black’s case, it sure as hell was risky, something different, and not exactly what I was expecting. So, yeah, maybe you could put me in that earlier-group of peeps, but at the same time, don’t, because I’m still not sure.
Just give me some damn time, man!
But what really worked for Black and what mainly surprised the hell out of me is how well he handles all of the action, CGI, and 3D (basically, the big-budget). Black knows exactly what the fans want to see when they see a superhero movie about Iron Man and that’s what the dude gives to ‘em. Some may actually be surprised to see that not all of this action features the actual superhero, Iron Man, but features more of Stark doing all of the ass-kicking himself, but it’s still fun and exciting to see, especially when you add a darker-element of story-telling on top of it all, which is what Black has done surely well. Of course the humor is always there to keep people laughing and giggling, but the stakes feel higher with this one and it’s no surprise that some may actually be scared as to who’s going to get off’d next, who might not make it for Iron Man 4 (although Paltrow spilled the beans on that enchilada), and who’s going to come out victorious and with a little bit of something to brag about. It’s fun to watch a movie that knows how to keep the energy rolling without a real break in the pace, but it’s even better when you feel like the seconds you see a person on screen for, could just might as well be their last. Black keeps this going for quite some time, that is, until the last-half shows up and sort of ruins things.
For the most part, about an hour and a half in, I was on-board with this movie and I easily felt like I was working on a 9-9.5 here, but something happened. No, not the twist I was talking about earlier, but the final showdown that we all know is going to eventually come. Something, I don’t know what it was, just didn’t feel right. It didn’t feel as epic as the rest of the movie did and it sure as hell didn’t do much to really knock me out of my chair with it’s originality; something I was seeing from Black’s side of the room, more and more. Don’t get me mistaken, I still had a ball with this final-act and just about lost my hearing by how many clangs, booms, and bangs I continued to hear (that’s a good thing, by the way), but something didn’t make it feel like the movie was tied-up with a pretty, little bow at the end like all of the other superhero movies have lately. Even Iron Man 2 somehow decided to do that, and as we all know: that was nowhere near greatness.
However, I can’t put anything against this cast because as usual: they are all phenomenal, even the newbies too. But I’ll get to them later, let me stick with the man of the 2 hours, the man with the power, and the man who practically has it all: Robert Downey Jr. Everybody and their mothers (the coolio ones who didn’t give up on him when he got busted all of those years ago) know that Downey was made for this role and he continues to show us why with his egotistical act, look, and feel. Yet, there’s something more to this guy that makes him actually feel like a hero worth rooting for. Stark does make some stupey mistakes and gets caught-up in situations that he could have easily gotten himself out of if he just thought more, but he’s human, dammit! That’s what we do. And even if we don’t have a mansion, a billion dollar corporation, or a suit made of iron that can kick ass and speak like Paul Bettany, we still feel like this guy would do the right thing, if he was given a chance to make the decision as to what that exactly is. Downey is funny as usual, and probably a lot better with the script considering that he practically vouched for Black to get this job, but it’s his human-aspect within that makes this character tick, rock, and kick….some ass. See what I did there? Yeah, I’m all out of being witty for the night.
Even if it seems like nobody in their right minds is willing to let all of the hate for Gwyneth Paltrow go, just for a little bit of time over 2 hours, at least the girl still shows us that she can act and be charming as hell. I don’t hate Paltrow like everybody else seems to, and that’s why I really liked her as Pepper Potts because it not only felt like her character really loved Tony and wanted him to be all fine and dandy once things were over with, but that she could also stick up for herself in the chance arose itself. Pepper isn’t the type of character that you could classify as a “damsel in distress” and that’s the route that Black turns away from and gives her more a chance to knock some people out, if she needs to. During this movie, she definitely does need to and that’s exactly what she does. Keep on going, Mrs. Coldplay!
Don Cheadle is here once again as Col. Rhodes (still thought Terrence Howard was better, but hey, that’s just me, baby) and does fine with what he’s given. Cheadle doesn’t have a huge role here but gets more to do than just pick up Tony’s scraps and make us feel like he’s more of a bad-ass too. Although, I will say that he does get to show us what makes him all bad-ass still. Oh, and before I forget about it all: Rebecca Hall is here as an old-fling of Tony’s and is good, even if her beauty and charm does seem a bit wasted on a character that is essentially around just to show how much of a chauvinistic a-hole Tony basically was back in the darker days before he fell in love with Pep. Still, the girl is mighty fine!
Now is the part where we go onto the baddies and this is where things begin to get a little dicey for me and you. See, Ben Kingsley and Guy Pearce both play some evil a-holes that definitely are not the breed you want to mess with, let alone see Tony mess with, but there’s more to them than just that and I can’t give away too much without sounding annoyingly-vague, or just giving it all up. Both do what they need to do as the baddies, especially Kingsley who actually terrified me at one point, but there are more layers to them and once you see what’s really going on with these cats, you might just be a bit surprised. I sure as hell was and once again: I still don’t know what to make of it. What I can say though, is that the movie does not, for a second, stray-away from giving these two guys plenty of scenery to chew on and that’s where all of the fun comes from. Because if you think about it: that’s all you need in a good villain, right?
Consensus: Starts off perfectly with a funny script, electric set-pieces, and a cast that never backs down from a script they can’t grapple, but Iron Man 3 ends more on a whimper, than on a bang. Which would have been all right and perfect with the world, had we not already see the Avengers and know what there is to expect with the Marvel Universe.
8.5 / 10 = Matinee!!
P.S. Stay for the credits. Even though you probably already knew that, didn’t you?
I know, I know, I know! This list is way past-due, but it took me so long to rile-up every movie that I watched in 2012, count-down the top 10, and see exactly which ones did it the most for me. I’ve finally been able to get them altogether now, and needless to say: what a freakin’ year, man! 2012 was one of the finer-years of movie-going that I have ever had the pleasure of being apart of and definitely re-affirmed my love for the art of film and the joy of going out to theaters, getting some popcorn, a nice soda, plopping my rotund-butt in the seat, and just allowing the film to take me by surprise. Some movies were greater than others, but nonetheless, it goes without saying that 2012 was a great year for movie-lovers out there and let’s just hope that 2013, kicks as much ass.
Now, on with the list:
A movie that totally bombed-out at the box-office, but didn’t deserve to. It’s like an old-school thriller where the director was more concerned with building-up tension through classy-conversations about life, crime, drugs, guns, money, and most importantly: politics. The political-message was a tad overbearing at times and did take away from the final-product, but when you have a cast chock full of stars like Pitt, Gandolfini (who I think deserved an Oscar nomination), Liotta, Jenkins, McNairy, and Mendelsohn, then you can never, ever go wrong, no matter what type of ideas you may be throwing my way.
Not as masterful (see what I did there?) as PT Anderson’s past flicks, but still pretty mind-boggling and enticing in it’s own right. Anderson always knows how to make any shot a work of beauty; Johnny Greenwood always knows how to make any type of object sound like a piece of music with tense and methodical rhythm and Joaquin Phoenix, Philip Seymour Hoffman, and Amy Adams, always know how to give-off great performances, no matter what the material may be. Whether or not it’s about Scientology and all of it’s crazy, mumbo-jumbo, is entirely up to you. Just be ready to be totally and completely surprised by what you see Anderson swing at you.
Maybe the fact that I just got out of high-school is why I was so taken-away by this movie, but nonetheless: I still loved the hell out of this one. It reminded me of my old days where I would just slum around in the hall-ways, go to class and hope I got a good grade on that test I probably cheated on, walk with my friends to class, gossip about the new couples, see what’s going to happen on-weekends, and just get absolutely trashed in somebody’s basement. Yeah, you know, the finer things in life and if that sounds like a bore to you, then trust me: get ready to be surprised by this movie’s charm. It had me crying by the end, and I’m sure it will have you doing the same, as well.
Being from Philadelphia and currently residing in the Delaware County area; this movie totally resonated with me for many reasons that may seem obvious by that last statement, but still hit me harder than I expected. It’s funny, witty, and very, very quick at-times, but in the center of all the craziness and madness that ensues and surrounds it, is a relatively sweet, and understandable romance between two nut-balls that you cheer for from beginning-to-end. If this doesn’t have you smile at least once, then I think you might just have to trade in your old soul, for a new one.
Although I merely forgot about once the Dark Knight Rises came around town, the Avengers was still the movie that promised everything from about 4-years of build-up, and I still craved more. It’s fun, hilarious, action-packed, beautiful to look-at, well-acted, and filled with all of your favorite superheros that you have spent countless movies just watching, hoping that one day they would all get together for one, glorious cream-fest of nerdiness. Thankfully, that time came and it was freakin’ awesome.
Musicals usually aren’t my flavor-savors, unless they are done right. However: this is what it looks like when a musical is done right. The performances are beautiful and the style in which Tom Hooper allowed his stars to sing, naturally and live, gave the movie a more realistic, if theatrical feeling. I teared-up many-a-times, and already have the soundtrack on my Ipod. But if anybody asks you about that, please: do not tell them the truth. I’m still trying my hardest to hold onto to some sort of my macho-man exterior.
One of the more controversial flicks of the year, but all of that hubbabaloo aside: this movie is freakin’ awesome! Bigelow’s direction takes it’s time with it’s story, where it wants to go, it’s characters, and it’s history, and always allows there to be tension in even the slightest-bit of scenes. Everybody complains about it being too talky, too long, and too much about a bunch of people without any, actual character development, but in all honesty: who gives a shit? It’s a powerful flick that encapsulates an entire decade into a near-3-hours, and leaves you with a sequence where we all know the outcome to, but yet, still takes you for a ride regardless.
One of those documentaries that does everything right in it’s precision, it’s ideas, and it’s delivery, but still left me wanting more. That’s not a bad thing, either, as this flick goes through all of the motions of presenting it’s subject, and giving us a total hammering of why it’s so messed-up and how freakin’ stupid the legal system can be, especially when it comes to the Army. The review I posted was more of a rant, with some critiquing here and there, but regardless of what you may take away from my words, know this: what this movie speaks about and approaches, is still happening and it’s an absolute nightmare to think about. Will there ever be an end? Who the hell knows! But what I do know is that this documentary was a total eye-opener and really had me angry, upset, sad, pissed-off, and determined to do something about what’s wrong with the world we live in.
In the past 7 years, Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy has taken what we have come to know and expect with the superhero genre, and absolutely spin it on it’s side. That being said, we all knew this time would eventually come and no matter how many tears were shed (mine included), it was all time for us to say bye-bye to Master Wayne, Alfred, Commissioner Gordon, and all of our other favorite Batman characters we have come to know and love throughout the years. But still, what a way to go out! Even though some will say that it wasn’t as good as it’s predecessor, I think it absolutely accomplished that promise, if not more. It’s just about as epic as you’re going to get with a movie, let alone a superhero movie, and as the final scene rolled-in and the trilogy was about to be over, tears came streaming down my face as we saw Batman ride-away, one last time. One of the more memorable, movie-going experiences I had last year and was definitely numero uno for the longest time, that was until I saw….
Quentin Tarantino has, and will forever be a favorite of mine and his latest, is probably one of his best (if that even means anything, anymore). The look, the feel, the characters, the dialogue, and the story is all original, but the real joy and delight of this movie was watching the cast just absolutely have a freakin’ ball with each, and every one of their roles. Jamie Foxx does a great job as the titular-named Django, where he turns the charm, on-and-off whenever the plot needs him to, and definitely never shines away from being the main character. Christoph Waltz is adorably witty and hilarious as the sympathetic yet brutal bounty hunter, Dr. King Schultz, and shows that there is more to him than just playing an angry Jew-hunter. Samuel L. Jackson plays Stephen and comes-off like the total and complete Uncle Tom-like character we see in all of those old comics and cartoons, but in the end: turns-out to be more of a smart and menacing character that does not deserved to be fucked with and shows Jackson at his loudest, his craziest, and also, his most sinister. And last, but sure as hell not least, is Leonardo DiCaprio as the evil, but charming-as-hell slave owner; Calvin Candie. DiCaprio gives great performances, year-after-year, yet never seems to really get the type of recognition he deserves. Hell, some could ague that maybe his performance here hasn’t gotten him that type of recognition either (mainly because he was terrible snubbed at the Oscar’s this year), but still: the guy is amazing here and is in top-form, unlike anything we have ever seen him do before. He’s funny, bad-ass, cool, slick, smart, but also very, very scary in the way he can just change his look and person in a matter of seconds and the way that DiCaprio toys with your mind, is just another way to show you that Tarantino knows the type of people he chooses for his roles and what makes them so damn fit for his writing-style. Controversy aside, this was my favorite and most enjoyable flick of 2012 and one that I ventured-out to see not once, not twice, not even three times, but four times! And yet, I still have not had enough.
Hope you all liked what you saw, and let me know what you think about the list! As always, stay cool, peeps.
P.S. That’s not a new slogan I’m trying-out, it’s just what came to me first. Unless you want it to be a new slogan of mine, then we could definitely see that happen more and more from now on. Either way, let me know!
The St. Patty’s day leprechaun would have definitely made this a different type of movie.
The movie centers on a group of heroes with extraordinary abilities, thatmust join forces for the first time to protect the hopes, beliefs and imagination of the children all over the world against the evil ideas of the Boogeyman (Jude Law). The heroes up against these terrible ideas just so happen to be Santa Claus (Alec Baldwin), the Easter Bunny (Hugh Jackman), the Sandman, the Tooth Fairy (Isla Fisher) and Jack Frost (Chris Pine).
Other than the Avengers and Justice League, there aren’t many other groups of heroes/characters that are worth being brought to the big-screen to team-up. I mean, yeah, maybe there is but no team really comes as quick to my mind as much as every child’s favorite pieces of fairy-tale story-telling: holiday heroes. Yes, even though you may not believe in Santa, the Easter Bunny, or that spooky piece-of-shit that lives underneath your bed, kids still do and will not find it hard to believe that these same characters, can bring on a can of whoop-ass every once and awhile if they wanted to. Yeah, that’s the type of movie we’re dealing with here: holiday characters, beating the shit out of things. Get ready for some questions that need to be answered, mom and dad!
I wasn’t really looking forward to this film from the get-go mainly because the trailer seemed to take itself way, way too seriously. I mean think of it, you have Santa, Easter Bunny, Tooth Fairy, and Jack Frost all piled into one movie and you’re going to show me how they band together to fight evil? I don’t think so and better yet, where’s all of the fun in dreaming of about one of these days watching all of your favorite childhood, holiday characters come onto the screen and hang-out with one another? There should be some fun and judging by the trailer, it seemed like the fun was a tad too serious for my taste. Thankfully, I was wrong, dead-wrong to be exact.
There’s actually a lot of fun to be had in this story, mainly because the plot shows all of our favorite characters as what they are, gives them each personalities, specific traits that make them so special in the first-place, and how they are all going to band together and fight this bad evil that seems to be taking over the world and the little kiddies that inhabit it. It’s fun to see Santa and the Easter Bunny just mess around with one another, but it’s even better to watch how they use their respective skills of climbing down chimneys and throwing eggs to help each other out and work as a team. I loved seeing that, and I can assure you that kids will too because it’s something you don’t get to see everyday until you fall asleep and can only dream of it. Yes, anybody over the age of 12 can still dream of Santa and the Easter Bunny, so bug off!
And as you would expect, the visuals and animation is just beautiful. Since I didn’t see this in a free screening, you know I sure as hell didn’t see this one in 3D but if I did, I would have probably loved it because this is so beautiful-looking. It’s crazy to see two movies come out in the same weekend where both are filled with beautiful-visuals, yet, are used so differently. Life of Pi uses it to enhance the story and make you feel as if what you are seeing is all real without any preservatives added, whereas this movie, doesn’t use it to show you that everything is real, but to place you in a small, animated world where everything is colorful, wild, and most of all, beautiful to look at. Both films are beautiful, but they are both beautiful in their own, different ways which definitely has me wondering whether or not 3D film making is ever going to go away.
However, like Life of Pi, this movie sort of runs into a problem with it’s story that seems a bit manipulative and not utilized very well. It’s a fun movie, no doubt about it, but when you have all of these characters come together, you feel like there should be more inventiveness and originality used to where you feel like that’s something you could have never done, had you been given a pad, a pen, and a plot-line to write-on about. It’s a bit obvious with where it goes and doesn’t really make sense as to why it does go there. It just does. Maybe that also has to do with the fact that the times that this movie does try to be funny, it doesn’t really gel very well and even though they weren’t really going for the hilarity-angle of the final-product, I still feel like some of the times they tried were way too obvious and painful to not mention. Also, those elves were so obviously a rip-off of the freakin’ Minions from Despicable Me, almost to the point of where they just hit each other the same way. Way, way too obvious but hey, it will most likely get the kids laughing.
Where I think this movie really lost me was how I thought about it afterward, and barely remembered a thing from it at all. Yes, I enjoyed my time when I watched the movie and yes, it was a great animation-flick, but nothing as memorable as it should have been. Maybe it was because I did the “double-movie day” that I usually do every once and awhile and this was the first of the two and that’s why I didn’t remember much, or maybe the fact that I saw Red Dawn after this and my mind went and good mood went elsewhere, but writing this review about 3 days later, reminds me of just how little I actually remembered. It’s enjoyable, no doubt about it, but once it’s all said and done, then it’s gone from your mind without anything to really stick their forever.
Even though the overall-product wasn’t great, the voice-casting actually was. Casting Alec Baldwin as Santa and have him voice a Russian-accent seemed very, very strange at-first, but actually worked quite well for Baldwin and the character, and gave Santa a persona that was larger-than-life in a way. It’s also better because I didn’t think it was Alec Baldwin voicing Santa, I actually thought it was Santa, right there in front of me, on-screen. He does exist! I knew it! Chris Pine is pretty solid as Jack Frost but the voice did seem a little too heavy and hoarse for a character that looks like a little boy that doesn’t have any muscles and instead, has super-powers. Still deciding on which one’s better. Hugh Jackman seems to be having a ball as the Easter Bunny and always seems like he wants to fight somebody, no matter what the situation is. Maybe that’s how Hugh Jackman is in real-life? And if so, that would be really bad-ass of the guy. Isla Fisher is fine as the Tooth Fairy but not really funny or exciting to watch, she’s just there. And last, but certainly not least is Jude Law as the Boogeyman who has a vicious, if creepy sound to his voice that works for the character, even if the guy is a bit annoying with how much he hammers on the idea of him being a bad-guy, doing bad things, and always tricking people. I get it! The Boogeyman is bad! I knew that since I was 5, and I know it now!
Consensus: It may not be the ultimate team-up movie you’d expect in a year where The Avengers have reigned supreme, but Rise of the Guardians is still the same type of fun, excitement, and good-feelings parents and their kids want, especially around the holidays.
Owen and Jen could have really used this movie as a tool for the sequel of Marley & Me 2: He Lives!
The story centers on a young boy named Victor Frankenstein (voiced by Charlie Tahan), who loses his beloved dog Sparky and decides to harness the power of science to bring his best friend back to life—with just a few minor, but strange adjustments.
It seems as though every time somebody (including myself) goes into a Tim Burton flick, they are expecting the old, wacky Tim Burton that we all fell in love with in the first-place. When I went to see Dark Shadows earlier this year, that’s exactly what I expected but somehow, I was left down in the dumps and totally forgot that he even had another flick coming up. Thankfully, the return-to-form is back for Burton and this time, with no appearance from Johnny Depp. Wooo-weee!
There’s almost something for anybody in this flick, but for all of those film nerds out there, most will probably find the most amusement in pointing out all of the various, old Hollywood horror movies of yesteryear. Obviously, Frankenweenie is a riff off of Frankenstein, but there’s plenty other references/homages to be had here with tips of the hat to The Mummy, The Wolf Man, Dracula, The Invisible Man, and plenty more that may take you by surprise. Hell, I even feel like I missed some and that’s the whole fun of this movie, keeping a special eye out there to spot something just lingering in the background that may make your film nerd blood boil, and that’s exactly what happened to me.
However, it’s not all about the references and nods that Burton gives that makes this flick so much fun, it’s just the whole wacky atmosphere in general. Every single character in this film, is as colorful and goofy as the last one and just watching every single one come around and play for a little bit, brought a huge smile to my face. Sometimes, I even wanted Victor to just get out of his secret lair and run around town and see what all of the other little bastards he goes to school with do, because they were a hell of a lot more interesting than him and are so over-the-top and ridiculous, it made me feel like they could almost be kids I could have known when I was little. Then again, not many in the school I went to brought dead dogs back to life so obviously we never had to deal with any bullying or straight-up weirdness like these towns-people do.
What’s most surprising about the year of 2012 is not how The Dark Knight Rises and The Avengers both came out in the same year, but how there have been not one, not two, but three stop-motion animated pictures in the whole year. This, to me, comes as a total random slap in the back of the head because I thought that this was practically a dead forsaken animated genre that people barely went out to see, and in ways, they don’t but that doesn’t mean that the films don’t look as every bit as purrty as that junk Ice Age 4, that every kid and their miserable mother went out to go see. Every single little piece of detail is calculated so perfectly in this film, that you can’t help but keep your eyes on the screen, not just because you may miss a funny little riff you weren’t expecting to see in a PG-rated movie, but because of how much time was obviously put into these characters, their surroundings, and the way that every scene looks and feels. There’s a certain line that Victor’s nutty science teacher uses about science and says something along the lines of how, “Science only works, if you put your heart and feeling into it.” That’s exactly what I felt coming from Burton here, not just with his story-telling, but the look and beautiful animation that caught my eye the whole hour and 25 minutes the film was up on-screen. Good job, Tim. You better keep this up, you son a of a bitch.
Where I think this film gets a little skewered with itself, was in it’s story-line and how I was left feeling non surprised the whole time. Now, that’s not to really put the blame on Burton or his crew as they obviously had all of the right ingredients for a great, original story that plays around with the idea of what Burton did in his early days of film-making, because most of the problem came from the trailers that played everywhere and practically spoiled the whole damn story. Seriously, everything you see or hear in the trailer, is literally the whole first hour, and everything else is sort of obvious as to where it goes from there. That bothered the hell out of me since every scene just felt like something I was expecting and something I have already seen before, considering this was an original story from the guy who directed and co-wrote it. Damn you trailers! Damn you!
Then, there’s the message of this flick that kind of left me a little scratchy-headed by the end. If anybody, and I do repeat anybody, has ever had a pet or companion or friend in their life, will probably get the feeling of, “Hmm, I wonder if I could bring them back.” I’ve often said this, as well as you have, and mostly everybody else has too. This is sort of the whole fantasy “what if..”-story take on it and plays out perfectly for the most part, but by the end, never really capitalizes on what it’s trying to say about dying and letting a loved one go. For a kids movie, the idea of dying and saying good-bye is a bit too dark and grim, but when you have a movie that presents itself in that way with those sorts of ideas, you shouldn’t back-down from bringing out any important messages that may go straight to the kids heads. It seems as if Burton missed that whole point, and without giving too much away, ends the film on a really strange-note that kind of left me wondering what kids are going to do when they get home. Most likely, they’ll be digging up old Betsie out of the backyard, prying some metal hangers onto her, and just waiting for the next storm to come on by, just because good old Tim Burton said so. Never mind about the trailers, damn you Tim! Damn you!
Aside from this whole screwed-up message that Burton seemed to have missed the boat on, you can’t help but love Victor and all of his interactions with Sparky because it will most likely have you remembering all of the good times you spent with your beloved pet. Every time Sparky would bark, yelp, lick, and jump on Victor when he came home from school, it had me smiling cause it made me think of two dogs that I’ve ever had in my life (Patton & Pearl, don’t judge), and made me want to go home and just play with the latter one. If you’re a dog lover, this whole aspect of the story will have an effect on you, as it did to me and you should definitely be ready for some tears to stroll right down the face, because that’s exactly what happened to me and I barely ever find myself crying in movies. That’s right, I’m a tough-ass so don’t try and break me.
Victor himself, is voiced by newcomer Charlie Tahan, who does a serviceable job but couldn’t help me forget that Victor was just a tad too dull to really hold my interest. Victor is nice, polite, quiet, and very soft-spoken, but is looked at as “the weird kid” from everybody else around from his own father, to the kids in his science class. Maybe making Victor this type of kid was sort of the point, but it didn’t do much for me and just made me want to see more scenes of him hangin’ out with Sparky or other people. More of Sparky than anybody else because I couldn’t get enough of that little guy.
Seeing that this is so-called “return to form” for Burton, it should be pretty understandable as to see him reunite with some vets of in a very impressive supporting cast. Catherine O’Hara and Martin Short voice Victor’s parents and do a fine job at that, but are finally given the chance to let loose when they are allowed to voice the far more wackier characters and it’s nice to see them back in action, even if it is behind the screen; Martin Landau voices the spooky science teacher Mr. Rzykruski, and has this nice bit where he metaphors about immigration using lightening and even gets a nice scene where he tells all of the parents what’s on his mind, in his perfect Bela Lugosi-voice as well; and then there’s Winona Ryder as Elsa Van Helsing, the weird girl next-door who is fine, but nothing special since she isn’t given that much to do here. Then again, it’s still good to see Ryder back in the saddle again and actually being given big roles in Hollywood productions.
Consensus: Frankenweenie is full of fun, light-hearted, goofy, wacky entertainment that may get a bit skewered with it’s message by the end, but is always a blast because it’s Tim Burton returning to what he used to do best: be weird and embrace it.
Dude, just stay away from foreign countries.
He came, he saw, he kicked-ass, and took his daughter back (Maggie Grace), and basically lived a life he thought was all fine and dandy, until now. That’s right, this time around, it’s Neeson’s wife (Famke Janssen) who is kidnapped and instead of Paris, it’s going to be Istanbul, and it’s all by the man (Rade Sherbedgia) who wants revenge on Neeson for what he did to his family.
In all honesty, I was very surprised by how much of a success Taken was when it was released way back when in 2009. It did feature a pretty cool trailer, but for what was essentially a pretty lame thriller idea, with a big-name that hasn’t really been big since the first Star Wars prequel, and to top it all off, a film that was released in the dead-heart of January, aka a time nobody goes to see movies cause they’re all pooped-out from seeing the same crap, drunk on egg nog for the past 2 weeks. So, that’s basically why I never understood how the hell it was numero uno at the box-office for about 3 weeks, boosted Qui-Gon Jinn’s career back-up to “action hero” stardom, and made itself destine for a sequel, and possibly more. However, despite all my angry ranting and rambling, I can’t say I hate the idea of a sequel to that film, especially when this is the type of stuff we get.
Even though I wasn’t a huge fan of the original, Taken still had it’s moments of fun that made the final-product all the more enjoyable. The problem I had with that story was how it would always start-and-stop and always kill the momentum it had going for itself, by focusing too much on the whole internal-crisis that was going on with Neeson and the thought of his daughter going out there and bangin’ dudes under the influence of drugs. I’m not saying he’s wrong to be upset about that, but come on man, go out there and start shootin’ some fuckers and get revenge. That’s exactly what this film is from the 25-minute mark to the end of the whole movie. Need I remind you, that the whole movie itself runs a steady and swift 91 minutes, so that’s basically about an hour of pure mayhem, fun, action, and Oskar Schindler looking as bad-ass as he can look.
Director Olivier Megaton obviously knows the type of movie he’s making here, and you know what? He doesn’t care what you think about it or how you want to look at, he’s having fun and that’s all that matters to him, as it should because it had an extremely positive effect on a group of a d-bags like my friend and I who went to go see this. What’s so exciting and fun about this action is that there is never a dull moment in it to where you think, “Oh great, they’re slowing things down to focus on character-development.” Nope, there’s none of that at all here because we already know who these characters are, what purpose they serve to the story, and why they are motivated to save each other’s lives. We don’t need any freakin’ back-story, we need some freakin’ action and that’s exactly what Megaton delivers on.
However, this is obviously the case where you may have to not only leave your brain at the door, but also have it delivered to you when you’re sleeping in the middle of the night so you sure as hell don’t remember half of the crap you see here because the more you think of it, the more you’re going to ask yourself, “What in the fuck did I just watch?”. Seriously, this movie is one of the dumber ones I have seen the whole year so far and in ways, that’s a compliment, and in others, it’s too distracting to even be considered anything. It’s just there and never seems to go away.
For instance, one of the only subplots that make a difference in this “story” is how Neeson’s daughter is finally learning how to drive with a permit. Now, anybody that ever remembers having a permit, sure as hell remembers how hard it was to go 5 mph down a long-road without falling to the side of the road at least once. I sure as hell do, and if that’s not the exact type of example that has happened to you, something along those lines definitely have and it just goes to show you that when you’re driving a car with your permit, shit is pretty stressful. That’s what really took me by surprise here as the daughter not only goes over 80 mph in very tight and narrow side-streets, but does it all without barely hitting anything, and/or crashing it in the first five-seconds of being behind the wheel. Honestly, it wouldn’t have been so bad either, if it hadn’t been going on for 5 minutes where it was just her driving as if she was taking over Ryan Gosling’s job from Drive, when in reality, the girl still doesn’t know how to master the art of parallel parking, if there ever was one (you city people know what I’m talking about). This example is just one of the many, I do repeat, many of times that this movie just comes off as downright stupid and if you don’t like that with you’re action movies, then stay the hell away and go off and wait for The Avengers 2 to come out in 2014, or whenever the hell Joss Whedon has that planned.
Once again, much to my douchy surprise, Liam Neeson is the big-draw with this flick and as so he should be, the guy still has the talent to pull a character like Bryan Mills, off perfectly. Neeson just has this certain amount of likability and warmth to him that makes you sympathize with his over-protective ways and also make you believe that he’s got everything under-control, when half of the time he’s got a gun pointing straight at his dome. But Neeson is also able to totally switch that off in a heartbeat and make him, your worst nightmare by pulling out all of the stops to succeed in the end and do everything in his power, to kick the ever-loving shit out of you. Neeson does that so well here, but I think it’s his time to eventually hang-it up after this, at least with action anyway. It’s not that Neeson isn’t good nor believable with these roles, because he surprisingly is, it’s just that he seems to old (60) for a role that has the guy moving around, shooting guns, beating the tar out of dudes half his age, and still not be able to break a bone of get a hernia. I love you and all, Liam, but maybe it’s time to go back to drama and see if you got one, last Oscar-push left in ya. That’s all I’m saying, though.
Maggie Grace, despite her out-of-nowhere expertise of driving, does a nice job as the sweet but determined daughter of Bryan, but also seems a bit hard to believe as a girl that is still 17 and going for her learner’s permit. It also surprised me that the first-shot of her that we get is her getting groped by her boy-toy, when in reality, I would think that someone who just got drugged-up and raped by a bunch of Russian mobsters, would still feel a little dramatized and not allow anyone to touch her in that way and to just take it slow. Basically, any girl that’s like that with me would be tossed-out as quick as 1-week old pie, but since it’s Maggie Grace, ehh, I think can withstand the wait. Rade Sherbedgia is here in his 100,000th anniversary appearance as playing the stereotypical, Russian villain that never seems to do a nice thing throughout the whole movie, and is still pretty good at it, even if his character does seem a bit overly-dicky with what he’s doing. I mean honestly, if this guy was a real Russian mobster, wouldn’t he at least understand that family-values are family-values and shouldn’t really blame Bryan for going out there and killing his son, considering his son attacked, drugged-up, and captured Bryan’s daughter? I don’t know, maybe I’m thinking about it too much but doesn’t sound like a real mobster to me. Where’s Don Corleone when you need him?
Consensus: Taken 2 is your typical unneeded, stupid, and unintentionally sequel that seems to get pushed-out every couple of times a year, but for this time, it’s actually fun and keeps your eyes moving along with the quick-fire pace at 91 minutes of pure adrenaline fun, and Liam Neeson bad-assery.
I’d run away from Dax Shepard the first chance I’d get.
Former getaway driver Charlie Bronson (Dax Shepard) jeopardizes his Witness Protection Plan identity in order to help his girlfriend (Kristen Bell) get to Los Angeles. The feds and Charlie’s former gang (led by Bradley Cooper) chase them on the road.
Anytime, within the past month or so that I’ve wanted to watch a video on YouTube, I couldn’t help but just get pissed off by seeing an ad for this movie come out right before it. Worst part was that you couldn’t even click away to skip the ad, you had to watch it, in it’s 15 second entirety, which isn’t a huge problem if it wasn’t the same damn clips.
However, being pissed at this movie going in just wasn’t the right way to feel as I couldn’t help but be surprised in the death days of Summer. That’s right people, August is almost over which means all kids go back to school and nobody goes to the movies anymore because they spent too much on The Avengers and The Dark Knight Rises.
Anyway, I’m pretty sure I went into a huge rant that nobody wanted to read so I’m just going to dive into what I really wanted to say. For the first 30 minutes or so, nothing was really catching my eye and getting me involved as much as I would have liked. They start off with an ultra-sappy and contrived emotional scene where Shepard is telling his gal-pal to “close her eyes and think about the moment, nothing else”. Then after that, they suddenly go right into a scene with Tom Arnold chasing after his minivan and blowing holes everywhere, while screaming “fuck” at the top of his lungs. And to top that off, it just wasn’t funny no matter how hard they were trying and trust me, they were trying. It seemed like this was going to be one of those flicks that just wanted to be so wacky and funny, but also have an emotional story in the middle to even it all out but it wasn’t working and really got me worried of what I got myself into. Thankfully, it was only for those 30 minutes where I nearly lost my mind.
After the first 30 minutes or so, the film all of a sudden kicks its story into high gear and becomes a fun ride that delivers on the cool look, the cool thrills, and the funny laughs that sometimes came out of nowhere. It’s obvious that Dax Shepard (who just so happened to also co-write and direct this, and do his own stunts) loved Smokey and the Bandit as a kid growing up, because that’s the same exact kind of style and feel he gives this movie that automatically makes it a wild ride that doesn’t have to try too hard to charm us. So, if there is any credit going to towards this film and making it fun, it’s Shepard who deserves the most because he was able to somehow get this filmed in only 10 weeks, and used a very low-budget that will probably make a lot of the other big-budget action picks a whole lot more jealous by how polished the action scenes look here.
As you could probably tell by now, this film was pretty exciting when the action scenes came up and even if there is only about 3 in whole movie, you still get a great feel of energy and adrenaline every time they pop-up. But what really works with this film is that it hits its funny-marks very consistently in the last hour, which surprised me because they seem to be going all-over-the-place with its comedy. Sometimes it was trying to go for the wacky, rom-com aspect, others it was going for edgy and raunchy (that one scene with the naked old people will really shock some people), and other times it was your typical, conversational humor that can either make, or break a film depending on how well they use that aspect of comedy. Well, to say the least, the film’s comedy works and you’ll find a couple of gags that continue to show up every now and then that really catch you by surprise.
What really makes this film work out in the end is the cast that Shepard was able to assemble, obviously by just calling up a couple of pals for a little favor, which all work to his advantage. As for Sheperd in the lead role, he’s actually very charming and has the everyday likability to him that makes us forget about any dumb-ass role he has chosen in the past decade or so. The guy has a great comedic timing and can be sweet and enduring when he wants to be. If this guy can get his ass in the right rom-com and role, he may be destined for leading man material, which he sort of is here, but I mean on his own when he isn’t the co-writer/director. Tom Arnold plays his federal marshal buddy that just never seems to be able to do anything, without effin’ it up one way or another and the scenes where it’s just him being a goof-ball, sometimes left me in stitches. It’s been awhile since I last saw Tom Arnold in a big-budget, Hollywood movie like this (if you want to call it that) and it’s great to see that he can still deliver on being wacky and funny.
Perhaps the easiest favor that Shepard had to call up from anyone in this entire cast was in fact, his girlfriend in this movie and in real-life, Kristen Bell. I bet you are all pretty surprised to see that this gorgeous woman has been going out with this weirdo for the past 5 years, and you honestly have to be thinking to yourself, “Why?”. Well, after seeing this movie I have to say, “Ohhh, now I see why!”. It’s pretty obvious that these two have a genuine chemistry and love in real-life, because it spills out so well in this film whenever they are together just being themselves, or discussing what it takes to be in a relationship with another person which may seem really strange since it’s in a movie like this, but still works because these two have an emotional honesty between that feels real, as if you’re almost watching a real-life couple right in front of your eyes. In a way, you are, but this film offers them a lot more challenges in their respective acting departments that anybody has ever seen from either of them. As for Bell herself, she’s lovely as usual and it makes it better that she seems to be having a whole lot of fun playing chase with her boyfriend and pals.
The one that really steals the show in this whole cast is probably Bradley Cooper who seems to really lovin’ life playing an against-type role as the murderous thug, with really bad dreadlocks that makes him look more like the wrestler Raven from his WWF days, than actually intimidating. We’ve all seen Cooper do the villainous act before, but never quite like this to where the guy seems to really be having a ball just being mean, brutal, and a little weird as well. Cooper always has some great comedic timing with everything he does but I think his best showing of that is his one scene where he admits to why he’s come after Shepard after all of this time. To top it all off, he’s a fellow Philadelphian and that makes me feel a whole lot prouder to show him my love and support. Go Bradley!
Consensus: Definitely does not start off on the right foot and can be a bit uneven throughout, but when Hit & Run does gets itself moving, it’s a wild, cool, funny, and entertaining ride that seems like everybody had a ball making regardless of how much money they spent, and/or thought that they were going to make back. They’re simply making movies, to make movies. What’s so wrong with that?!?
Never thought I would say this, but I missed Tobey.
The Amazing Spider-Man is the story of Peter Parker (Garfield), an outcast high schooler who was abandoned by his parents as a boy, leaving him to be raised by his Uncle Ben (Martin Sheen) and Aunt May (Sally Field). Peter is also finding his way with his first high school crush, Gwen Stacy (Stone), and together, they struggle with love, commitment, and secrets. Oh yeah, and he’s also Spider-Man. Can’t forget about that one, little detail.
Before I start this review off, I have to give a little disclaimer and say that I have a special place in my heart for the Sam Raimi Spider-Man movies. That’s right, even the 3rd one to an extent. So this review may be a bit biased in some points and if that is the case, I apologize but I just can’t believe they actually went through with this idea. I mean honestly, you couldn’t wait 5 more years!?!?
Anywhoo, what interested me most about this reboot was the fact that it’s helmed randomly by Marc Webb (director of one of my favorite flicks from 2009, ((500) Days of Summer). When people saw JGL (Joseph Gordon-Levitt for all of you noobs out there) walking down the streets, singing and dancing to the tunes of Hall & Oates, I highly doubt the thing on everybody’s mind was “ooh, I wonder how cool that would be with webs shooting out of that guy’s hands”. What I’m trying to say is that Webb (oh wait, now I get it) seemed like a very random and odd choice for this flick, but I can’t say that he doesn’t bring something fun to this film either. All of that quirky, indie style from his debut is lost here but there is still plenty of room for him to relish in the art of telling the Spider-Man story, the way he thinks is right and do what he wants, just as long as he doesn’t piss off all of the fan boys who want to see this.
The film is claiming to be “the untold story”, when in reality, it’s just a re-working on the same origin story we’ve seen before. Like for instance, instead of a Peter Parker being bitten in the lab because he was on a class field trip, he is in there because he secretly, sneaked into an internship meeting there. Or, instead of having Parker just shoot webs from his veins, he now has mechanical webshooters that pretty much do the same thing. These are the types of “re-workings” we see in this flick and it’s not so bad considering a lot of it makes more sense and gives us a better look at why the Spider-Man superhero is so damn popular and loved in the first place. There is a bunch of humor here, some of which, annoyed the hell out of me, but other times worked and gave this film a fun little feel.
Actually, I can’t really bag on this film as much because it seems like that’s all Webb is concerned about here: having fun. And no matter what the story may be, I’m down with that. There’s plenty of cool-looking action scenes where it’s just Spidey, doing his good olde, mono-a-mono showdown between him and a baddy, and some really beautiful scenes where we see him just fly through the sky, where New York City is pretty much his playground. Some real nifty stuff to see and have fun with here, and it’s also enhanced by some amazing-looking CGI that doesn’t really come off as fake. I saw this in 3D Imax and I have to say, it’s pretty good but I wouldn’t go out and pay for it only because there isn’t so much here that’s worth that extra-dimension. Then again, that could be said for a whole bunch of other flicks with that tagline; “in 3D”.
However, as fun as a lot of the action may be, there’s not as much as you would expect, especially when it comes to a Summer blockbuster. Maybe that’s not the right thing to say, because there is plenty of action and adventure for you to sink your teeth into, but then there are also these other, quieter moments where it’s just focusing on Parker and Stacy’s love relationship that are not only awkward as hell to watch, but don’t feature any type of fun dialogue to keep you interested. They sort of just show up, stay on-screen, and bother the hell out of you because you just want to see The Lizard and Spidey duke it out once again. I don’t mind when a film, let alone a superhero film, is trying to go into more depth about its main character, but when it’s done in a flick where you should be expecting, non-stop action all over the place, then that’s where the problem lies. Basically, just too slow for a superhero film.
What is very watchable throughout these boring scenes, is actually the eclectic cast that Webb has brought together and being lead by Andrew Garfield as Spider-Man/Peter Parker. Garfield plays a different type of Parker than from what we saw with Tobey Maguire. Instead of coming off as a total nerd, that can’t do anything right because he wears glasses and loves science, Garfield makes him seem like this lost soul that just keeps to himself and doesn’t really care what goes on around him. Yeah, he’s a little strange because he’s always taking pictures of things, but he’s got a certain edge to him that makes him seem a lot cooler than you would expect Peter Parker actually to seem like in the first place. I think that Garfield goes a little too far with his humor in this film, but then again, that can’t really be blamed on him because he’s obviously doing everything in his soul to be the different type of Peter Parker we are used to seeing.
Emma Stone is here as Gwen Stacy, Parker’s apple of his eye, and does a pretty swell job with what she is given and thankfully, as my friend at the screening I was at pointed out, wasn’t playing the usual “damsel in distress” role that we usually see ladies in superhero flicks usually play. She is actually pretty tough and smart, and can stick up for herself whenever the time comes. Her and Garfield have a little awkward chemistry going on here, but I think that’s what’s the point of this flick. Rhys Ifans does a nice job as our villain, The Lizard/Dr. Curt Connors. Ifans can always play these bad-guy roles and this one is no different, except his CGI starts to be a little distracting by the end. Actually, it makes him look like The Hulk and I don’t know if Sony wanted that on their hands after all of The Avengers buzz that still seems to be going on. Seriously, how much more money does that movie need to make?
The casting of Martin Sheen as Uncle Ben, seemed like an awesome bit of casting because Sheen just has this “old-timer likability” thing going on for him, that it doesn’t matter what role he plays, you love him regardless. That’s why everybody was so shocked when he got thrown off the roof in The Departed, because everybody loves that guy, who would want to do such a mean and cruel thing to him? Sally Field is here as Aunt May and as hard as she may try, she seems too young for an Aunt and all of the advice she gives out, makes it seem like she’s doing Mamma Gump, all over again. Another bit of inspired casting was actually Denis Leary as Captain Stacy, mainly because the guy shows that he still has the comedic chops to pull off some very funny moments, but can also make a rather, deuchy character, still likable and understandable.
Despite all of these awesome and great elements that this film featured (action, acting, humor, CGI, special effects, etc.), I still couldn’t get past the Sam Raimi movies, and I’ll tell you exactly why. I’m 18 right now, so I was about 7 when the first one came out and I loved it to death. Then that second one came out, and gee-goll-e, did that knock my socks off even more! Then that third one came out, and even though it was definitely not on-par with the other two that came before it, it was still fun and endearing enough to keep me locked on to what was going to happen next with Peter Parker. Honestly, that original series from Raimi will always be in my childhood and I was so mad when they decided to go through with this reboot, really I was. It was a total cash-grab, in my opinion, and as fun as this film may be, I still couldn’t stop thinking about the original flicks. Whenever Garfield was flying through the sky, I kept on thinking about Tobey doing the same thing. Whenever Uncle Ben would show up, I kept on thinking about Cliff Robertson delivering the all-time famous line, ”With great power comes great responsibility”. And whenever somebody mentioned Oscorp, Willem Dafoe automatically popped right into my head. Really, the memories from all of my movie-watching from back in the day really made me miss those flicks and also made me want to go watch them again. So maybe this flick wasn’t for me since I loved the originals so much, but honestly, I just wish they never went through this in the first-place. Or at least waited 5 more years so that everybody’s minds were fresh and clear of Raimi and Maguire. Miss them already.
Consensus: The Amazing Spider-Man is exactly what you come to expect from a superhero flick: fun, action-packed, wild and crazy set pieces, baddies doing bad things, goodies doing good things, romantic love story, and some little shots of humor to liven everything up. Problem is, this is a reboot of a series that has already had its movies, and were ones that still stay stuck in my mind no matter what.
Snow White’s about to kill a bitch.
In this adaptation of the classic fairy tale, Kristen Stewart stars as Snow White, the young woman destined to become the fairest maiden in the land. Threatened by that fact, the Evil Queen Ravenna (Charlize Theron) sets out to destroy her but she is unaware that Snow White is training in the art of war with a huntsman (Chris Hemsworth) who was originally dispatched to kill her.
After seeing Mirror Mirror, the other Snow White adaptation that was pretty bad, I didn’t fully understand as to why we needed two movies of the same story. Actually, I still don’t but I can at least tell you which adaptation is a lot better than the other.
Any parent who’s thinking about bringing their kid to a Snow White movie can scratch that thought, because this movie definitely isn’t your normal fairy-tale you bring the whole family to. Most of that can be credited to director Rupert Sanders, who’s directing his first feature and gives this flick a very a dark and grim fantasy adventure, that makes it seem like the story of Snow White was mixed around with Lord of the Rings and a Game of Thrones episode. Sanders does a good job here with everything he’s given and takes his time setting up the story nicely, to keep a certain type of tense feeling going on throughout the whole movie. We all know how this story begins, gets going, and eventually ends, but Sanders kept me guessing somehow because he just seemed like a dude that would pull out something new or cool to add to this story and keep us entertained.
Sanders is also a great visual director and although I wouldn’t say he is as good as Mirror Mirror‘s Tarsem Singh, I would still have to say that he does a fine job with all of the beautiful visuals he throws at us here. The film’s tone is not only dark, but so is the rest of film so whenever color does come into play here, it looks gorgeous and is definitely something for us to marvel. There’s one scene in particular where Snow White goes into this very magical, dream-like forest called “Fairy Land”, where all of these purrty colors keep on flying around and almost makes you feel like you are there too. What’s even better is that it’s all in 2D and it still made me feel like I could just reach up and touch those little fairies. But hey, any macho dude reading this review thinking that those are the only things in this film that look good, can be sadly mistaken because there are some cool shots of a battle where the soldiers end up being broken into glass, another forest that has a lot of cool booby-traps that make you instantly high (or something like that), and even a nice shot of Ms. Theron getting nakey, and dipping herself in milk (or something like that). Trust me dudes, no T&A, but it will still hold you over if you can’t handle all of the fairy tale junk. Then again, why would any “real dude” be going out to see this one?
If there was a problem with this flick, it was that I felt it started to lose focus by the end and was losing my interest. Once the Huntsman is in the story, and the dwarves have been introduced, the film gets ready for the big, epic brawl between Snow White, The Huntsman, and their gang vs. Queen Ravenna, her crows that she ends up turning into, and her gang. You would think that since this movie is over 2 hours long, that there would be a butt-load of tension to make this battle go off the chain, but sadly, it didn’t really do much for me since I think they started to focus on too many other subplots. Actually, they didn’t even focus on Ravenna as much as I think they should have because every time she was actually on, you could feel like this movie was going to just lead-up to her final fight with White, which it did, but it just didn’t have me at hello like I was expecting. Maybe it’s just me though, and maybe I didn’t want a 2 hour long Snow White movie. Maybe, maybe, maybe.
What I can say about Ravenna, is that Charlize Theron was a perfect choice for her and seems like she’s having the absolute time of her life just chewing up the scenery here as our mean and evil queen. A lot of people said that they thought Theron was over-acting with this role, but what I think she is doing here is quite perfect considering this chick hasn’t ever really played a villain before (or at least one that we didn’t root for). She’s beautiful, we all know that, but I think Sanders saw that beauty in her the most and gives her some very beautiful scenes where it’s just her looking like an evil, but beautiful queen bitch that you definitely don’t want to piss off.
Meanwhile, Kristen Stewart does an OK job as Snow White because she doesn’t really step outside of her comfort zones that we have all seen her play time and time again. She does have a lot more to work with here than she does in those Twilight pieces of shit, but she doesn’t really say or do much that makes us cheer her on the most out of everybody. In fact, the one I was cheering on the most was probably Chris Hemsworth as The Huntsman, who in the past two years after such flicks like Thor, The Cabin in the Woods, and The Avengers, has proven to be a real talent. Hemsworth not only looks the part, with the scruffy beard and grungy-type hair and everything, but also sounds like a guy that would absolutely beat your ass if it came down to you or him to survive. Can’t wait to see what this guy pulls out next.
Let me also not forget to the mention the dwarves that are pretty fun to watch here, but aren’t given as much as they are in Mirror Mirror. It was pretty impressive to see actors like Ian McShane, Nick Frost, Ray Winstone, and Toby Jones being shrunk down to dwarf-size, but they come into the story a little too late for my liking and bring a bunch of humor that doesn’t seem to fit in so well with the rest of the flick. Still, they all do great jobs and I kept on wondering just how Sanders pulled off making all of these regular-sized peeps, seem so small. Maybe I did that a little too much, but at least it kept me watching.
Consensus: Snow White and the Huntsman may run on a little too long, but still features plenty of fun with its darkly epic direction from newbie Rupert Sanders, and a slew of fun performances, especially one from Theron who just seems like she’s having a ball. As she should.
Just stay where you are British people. Nobody else needs your wit!
This tells the story of a group of misfit British pensioners who are enticed to retire to a fabulous hotel in Jaipur, India, where they are promised to live a life of luxury for a bargain price. Upon their arrival, they are dismayed to find that restoration of the once elegant Marigold Hotel has stalled.
With ‘The Avengers’ coming out this weekend, it seems like all of the giddy youngsters, action-happy teens, and die-hard nerds will all be flocking to the theaters, so what about the older peeps out there? Well, they get junk like this.
Director John Madden obviously knows what he’s doing with any given material (hell, the guy won an Oscar for it) but for some reason, he kind of loses his touch here. The whole script is pretty much one big message of showing how old people can be young again, and that’s not so bad but the film tries to show that in so many cheesy and obvious ways that it starts to become really eye-rolling after awhile. There are a couple of moments where the film shows some warmth between these characters as they partake in everyday, shoot the shit conversations, but when this film starts to get emotional and trying to have us cry, then it just gets schmaltzy.
There are barely any surprises here whatsoever, and even though I don’t need to see something new or original in every movie I check out, I would still like to see some surprises with this story. However, I barely got any of that and plenty of it just feels like a bunch of bad TV-movie clichés Actually, that’s what bothered me the most about this flick because even though they definitely do have genuinely funny moments here, they are all out-numbered by all of the other times that this movie wants to show us how funny and goofy old people can be. Better yet, how funny and goofy old, BRITISH people can be. Doesn’t work and rather than actually doing something new with its source material, the film just throws us down over-used jokes like old people using Viagra. Really!??! Come on!
Even though the source material itself may fail, it definitely does look pretty. It’s pretty much expected that whenever you film in India, your film is going to look 10 times better than if you were to film in say, Wisconsin. Everything is so bright, everything is so colorful, and everything is always so hectic, where everybody is constantly moving in and around that it almost feels like people are all running away from Udaipur, to survive the fore-coming apocalypse. This film definitely has a lot of beauty to it and may even inspire you to go out there and check everything out for yourself, even though I don’t really think that they would have retirement homes as good as the one they have here.
However, all of those beautiful images are pretty much put to waste once again, when Madden decides to get really, really corny with us. Madden plants a lot of the obvious images like children playing and being happy, or a bird flying in the sky, or even the trees’ leaves, flowing in the wind. It’s all so damn obvious and gets worse and worse just as this film continues to constantly hit us over-the-head with everything here. Dammit Madden! I mean ‘The Debt’ was no classic by any means, but at least it was a lot better than this crappola.
Of course, everybody who wants to see this film, is mainly attracted because of the cast on display here and even as good as some of these all-stars may be, they still can’t seem to get by a shitty script such as this. Judi Dench is lovely as Evelyn, but all of her problems in life are as boring as watching paint dry; Bill Nighy brings a lot of his usual, dry wit to his role here as Douglas, but can’t seem to bring too much character to somebody as dull as this dude; Ronald Pickup is charming as the old, horny dude named Norman, even though he is very under-used; Maggie Smith is pretty much a bitch to everybody around her about 90% of the movie, and the other 10% is some cheesy, emotional arc to her that seems to have come out of nowhere; Celia Imrie plays Jean, and seems like she was totally misplaced in a movie about a bunch of boring, old people; and Penelope Wilton is the most annoying character here as Jean.
The only two performances that I think actually brought something here were the ones given by Tom Wilkinson and Dev Patel. Wilkinson gives this very sweet, charming, and mysterious performance as a dude that always seems up to something but it’s not quite known and he plays that up perfectly. Patel is also very spirited in a role that sees him bringing out a lot of comedic energy in his performance, as well as always bringing me a smile to my face even if his romance seems to get very stupid and non-meaningful. Two good performances still don’t make up for a whole bunch of lousy other ones though.
Consensus: The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel looks pretty, but is still one of the cheesiest and schmaltziest stories I have seen in quite some time, with a very talented cast that is pretty much wasted, and a bunch of sappy moments that show us how you can always live young and have fun. Yeah I know how! Go see The Avengers!
Summer season here we gooooooo!!!!
When an unexpected enemy emerges threatening global safety and security, Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson), Director of the International Peacekeeping Agency (known as SHIELD), finds himself in need of a team to pull the world back from the brink of disaster. Spanning the globe, a daring recruitment effort begins.
Ever since 2008 swung by with ‘Iron Man’ on its shoulders, Marvel Studios has pretty much been patiently waiting and building up to this moment. And needless to say (however still said), the wait was worth it.
The best thing about this flick is how Marvel was able to get a director/writer like Joss Whedon. Whedon knocked it out of the park last month with ‘The Cabin in the Woods’, and he pretty much does the same thing here; but instead of focusing on the horror genre, he focuses on the superheros that we all know, love, and hope to be someday. Maybe I’m alone with that last one, and maybe I snuck it in so quick you didn’t even notice, but basically what I’m trying to say is that these are superheros that deserve the right treatment with everything they get. Whedon gives them all that, and much, much more. I mean after all, Whedon is a fanboy at heart but he is also a film-maker, and that is something he’ll always live up to. He knows what comic ban fans expect to see from this type of material, and he absolutely delivers.
Whedon’s great attribute to this flick is that he is able to stage so many excellent action sequences that are some of the best I have seen lately. Of course, the special effects and CGI are perfect. And the IMAX 3-D does makes this film look so cool it seems like you’re right there along for the ride, but when it comes down to some awesome, kick-ass throw downs, Whedon knows how to do it; and even better, do it right. They’re all breath-taking because they have so much intensity, but a lot of it’s because plenty of the action scenes consist of superheros fighting superheros. We get to see Thor versus Iron Man, Captain America versus Thor, Iron Man versus The Incredible Hulk, and so on and so forth. If any of you out there love these superheros and want to see what they would be like stacked up against another superhero, then definitely see this flick because almost every fight shows these heroes pulling just about everything they have out of their arsenal. It’s like King Kong vs. Godzilla, Lincoln vs. Washington, or even Backstreet Boys vs. N’Sync. It’s the battle between two opposing forces that can almost never be stopped, and it’s just pure fun. It’s as easy as that.
The strangest but most awesome thing about this movie is that it’s turns out bring one of the funnier comedies of the past couple of years. Whedon shows that he’s even better when it comes to writing witty scripts, and pinpoints perfection here with this cast of characters. I mean all of these superheros are pretty much egotistical freaks who think they’re superior to others because of their freakishly powerful skills they inherited; and that’s exactly what Whedon touches on here. There are plenty of scenes where it’s just a one-on-one outrageous verbal battle between two characters and it’s probably some of the funniest dialogue you’ll hear this whole summer. But it’s not just these verbal battles that are funny, everything else here is too, and it doesn’t even seem like Whedon is trying to write funny dialogue just to be funny and cool; it comes naturally. Even better is that it’s not just one character who gets a chance to be funny, EVERYBODY here does. There will definitely be moments where you come close to rolling out of your seat. My buddy next to me was on the brink a couple times there and I couldn’t blame him.
I honestly think that the reason this film does work so well the way that it does here is because that we’ve had all this time (4 years to be exact) to get to see, know, love and understand these characters in their own movies; and it’s just awesome to finally see them all together in the same room doing exactly what it is they do best: be freakin’ awesome. Robert Downey Jr. obviously is the star of the show and gives off a whole bunch of hilarious one-liners as Tony Stark/Iron Man (remember when people thought that movie was going to blow?); Chris Evans is THE MAN as everybody’s favorite red, white, and blue superhero, Captain America; Chris Hemsworth is once again likable and charming as the Olde English speaker/Norse God, Thor; Mark Ruffalo does a great job of replacing Edward Norton here as Bruce Banner/Hulk, and gives him this scruffy, worn-out look that coexists well especially when he gets angry and turns green; Scarlett Johansson is pretty cool as Black Widow even though it didn’t really seem like she was going to be around here much, but surprisingly, she is also great and doesn’t let us down; Jeremy Renner is pretty much cool and tough as Hawkeye; and Samuel L. Jackson‘s performance here as Nick Fury is basically him playing the Samuel L. Jackson we always see him play, but this time with an eye-patch. Is that a bad thing? Not at all people, not at all.
A superhero film like this is usually made or broken by the villains, and I think they chose right with Tom Hiddleston as Loki. To be honest, I wasn’t the biggest fan of Loki in ‘Thor’ and I actually found him to be a somewhat weak villain no matter, despite how entertaining the flick was. However, Whedon gives Loki just enough time to show how evil and dangerous of a villain he is when he allows this guy to cut a villainous monologue every time he is around one of these heroes. It sounds a bit tiring, but thankfully, Whedon keeps all of these speeches interesting simply while showing how incredibly powerful Loki can be. Also have to give a lot of credit to Hiddleston who shows that he’s definitely able to carry one villain role all by himself, but also exercise a bit of his comedic chops here as well. A lot of the funnier scenes in this movie revolve around Loki and just how ridiculous this damn dude can be.
Actually, it’s not just Loki who gets the special treatment from Whedon here, come to think of it, everybody does and that’s what’s did it for this flick. There are so many characters/superheros here, but Whedon’s still able to keep them all relevant by showing how all of their powers, skills, and elements as heroes can change the situation that they’re in while simultaneously reminding us why and how we fell in love with these characters in the first place. For example, Black Widow is definitely a character that you would expect to be forgettable in this huge cast of characters. But Whedon shows her as being a kick-ass spy and assassin that actually adds a lot more to the team than you would expect. You think a lot differently of her and what she can do with those nice, strong legs. It’s just great that Whedon lets every character have their time to shine and not have any of them get over-shadowed by one in particular. Hell, even Clark Gregg as Agent Phil Coulson gets to have a couple of memorable moments! Joss surely does know how to share the love.
If I had to be a total dickhead here and nit-pick, it would have to be that sometimes, the film did seem to hit a lull in its pace. And not only did it seem to take a bit away from the final product, but it also made me want more action up on the screen. The scenes with Hawkeye and Black Widow were a little lame and didn’t do much for me, but then again, it didn’t matter because when it got to them kicking ass, that’s exactly what they did.
Consensus: The Avengers is pretty much everything you could expect it to be with fun action, great performances from this ensemble cast of characters that we all know and love, very funny screenplay, and just a reminder as to why nerds rule, and will never, ever go away. Best film of the year so far and a totally kick-ass ride from start to finish. Long live Marvel!
BTW: If you guys get a chance to, check out a website called GuysNation. It’s a pretty far-out site I’ve been writing for, for quite some time and just go on by, show me some love, and check out some of the other non-related movie stuff that’s on there as well. Have a good Friday night everybody!
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Before he faces the Avengers, Loki gets to bone married women. Nice year this dude’s having.
The film centers on a London socialite (Rachel Weisz) whose loveless marriage with a well-to-do and much older high-court judge (Simon Russell Beale) is crumbling. She engages in a passionate affair with an ex-RAF pilot (Tom Hiddleston), a romance that is doomed from the start.
From what I hear, writer/director Terence Davies is a dude that people love and he has a style that cannot be messed with. I haven’t seen any of his other flicks except for this one and I have to say that maybe he’s not the perfect fit for a rowdy, 18-year old like myself.
What really brought me into this story right off the bat was the vision from Davies. This film takes place in one day, with plenty of flash-backs, but the film’s setting never really goes anywhere else except for its post-War England 1950′s setting and that was fine for me. The costume and production designs all look like they were taken right from a history book and put onto here and the film itself carries this very bright lighting approach that at first may be a bit distracting since it’s constantly in your face, but after awhile makes you realize that its actually drawing some extra layers to these characters and the story. It’s a very good style that may be a bit distracting at first by how damn good it is, but you start to forget it’s there and just pay total attention to everything else that’s going on…well..kind of..
The screenplay, which was adapted from a play, is pretty good even though I can say that there are a few missteps to be had here. I liked how the film showed this one woman’s troubles with both of these men and shows how they both made her happy and also how they made her go completely mad. We see her fall in love and decide whether or not she is sharing passion or love between these men and the answers in the end never really come up and it’s very brave for a film to show a woman’s love/passion in such a dark and sad way.
However, where this film fell through for me was the character development itself. We do get plenty of flash-backs of this woman and the two men in her life but barely ever do they convey any more emotions than the score tries to pull off. Both of the romances seem like they could work, mainly thanks to the cast involved, but the film barely touches on this in order to have us believe in what road she should end up choosing. The younger dude is obviously there to make her feel young again and the older dude is obviously there to make her for more upper-class and sophisticated, but there wasn’t anything else other than that here and I needed something more to work with.
Another problem was that not only did we not know how powerful of a love she shared with both of these guys was but we also didn’t know too much about her and what really made her tick. In the beginning, we see her sad and messed up over something and for the rest of the flick she never really gets out of that funk. We’re sort of left there the whole time to watch as this chick tries her hardest to make sense of what she wants, while she cries and acts like one of those chicks that you can’t trust home alone because no matter what, something will be effed up when you get back whether it be her or something in the house, you just know it.
I do have to say that this is where the cast came in and actually won this flick over for me. Rachel Weisz gives a very brave and emotional performance here as Hester, the woman in peril and gives one of the better performances that I’ve seen from her in recent time. She owns all of these scenes and as much as Hester may be a bit one-note, Weisz still seems to give her a believable side and also an understandable side as well. Tom Hiddleston was also very good here as her young lover, Freddie, and he definitely shows a lot of spunk and energy in a performance that could have easily been one of those “wild and crazy young lover” role, but instead makes it very likable and believable. Stage star Simon Russell Beale is also very good as Hester’s hubby, Sir William, and gives a good performance here as well even though I was shocked to find out that he is gay in real life. Gave me a whole bunch of more respect for him considering it’s so hard for a straight man to play a gay man, that I can only imagine how hard it must be for a gay man to play a straight man! Oh jeez, the acting skills!
Consensus: The Deep Blue Sea is beautiful to watch and has great performances from its trio of leads, but the story is a bit jilted in a way and we aren’t given much to care for here except for a couple of moments where there’s obvious devastation from our lead, but other than that, it’s all pretty lame.
And if you don’t like him then you can just go to Russia!
Marvel launches another super franchise with this origin story, which follows Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) as he volunteers for a secret experiment during World War II. Transformed into a superhero named Captain America, Steve goes after the Axis. With his perfect physique and heightened reflexes — and his sidekick, Bucky (Sebastian Stan) — Steve battles the Red Skull (Hugo Weaving), a super soldier created by Italian fascists.
With The Avengers film coming closer and closer, it’s time we finally got a look at the one who basically started it all and is the most important of all of them. And he is played by Johnny Storm.
Director Joe Johnston knows what he’s doing with this material because he once made a 1940′s superhero flick back in the day called The Rocketeer, and it seems that he hasn’t lost that spark for making the 40′s seem awesome. To add to the awesome look this film has, is the action that this story brings out.
There’s nothing really much else like watching a dude dressed in all red, white, and blue hurling a shield almost the length of a football field, kicking the shit out of these super-Nazis, and seeing him shoot people right in the face without even caring one bit. After awhile, it starts to just become the same old stuff after awhile, but the action keeps on building and building itself up to the point of where the end is there and hell practically breaks loose.
The problem with this superhero film is that this is basically the same as every single, superhero film that has come out within the past 3 years ever since Iron Man. I was expecting this to be a lot different for this story since it needs to tell us more about just why everything happens for the reasons they do, but we never really get that. Just about three montages as well.
The story here is pretty much the usual good vs. evil premise we have all come to know by now but the writing is all so solid that it makes it all seem very different. I found myself actually laughing a couple of times with this film and actually a little bit of quoting after wards too which I guess can’t be said about too many superhero films in today’s world. There’s also a great deal of heart to be shown in this film which by the last 10 minutes will be somewhat moving.
Chris Evans has never really been much of an household name and is somewhat a poor mans Ryan Reynolds, but we now know who can play the better superhero. Evans keeps a little bit of that sarcastic comedy he has here but he also does a great job of making Steve Rogers seem someone to completely love and stand behind. He seems like a noble dude and a normal human-being who just has this superpower that he is incredibly strong and ready to kick ass at any second. Let’s also not forget that he totally looks the part with his buff and muscular body that actually had me believe this dude could perfectly defend our country. It was a little hard to get past the fact that he already played another Johnny Storm in Fantastic Four, Evans was still a solid casting choice.
Hugo Weaving is OK as The Red Skull who looks really menacing with the scary look and slick-leather wardrobe but is nothing memorable. I never really hated him at all because he just wants to destroy the world and that’s pretty much it which I think is a problem with the script because as much as Weaving tries to look smug the whole time I knew what was going to happen, didn’t really care, and most of all just thought with better writing this villain could have been even more terribly menacing.
The rest of the cast is pretty bangin’ though. Tommy Lee Jones can practically play the one-liner, smart, old-timer role in his sleep now and his role as Col. Chester Phillips is no different; Newcomer Hayley Atwell does a pretty strong job keeping up with the boys here as Peggy Carter; and Stanley Tucci is also good as German scientist Abraham Erskine and shows just what a pro he really is. The rest of the ensemble cast is filled with the likes of Derek Luke, Sebastian Stan, Dominic Cooper, Toby Jones, and Neal McDonough who is surprisingly not playing a villain this time around. I guess he’s just trying to build back up his career after that Street Fighter shit that came out two years ago.
Consensus: With a couple of writing brush-ups, Captain America: The First Avenger could have been even better, but instead works with awesome visuals, kick-ass action, and some very good performances that really add so much more to this film and get you even more pumped up for The Avengers film.