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Dan the Man's Movie Reviews

All my aimless thoughts, ideas, and ramblings, all packed into one site!

Tag Archives: Tom Hiddleston

Kong: Skull Island (2017)

If it’s not on Google Maps, chances are, you should stay away from it.

It’s 1973, the Vietnam War is close to an end, and Bill Randa (John Goodman) a senior official in a super secret government organization known as Monarch, finally sees his opportunity to capitalize on achieving one of his biggest missions yet: Going to the mysterious Skull Island and figuring out what sort of threat is out there. After much arm-twisting, the government finally gives Randa the tools and resources he needs to get there, which means that he gets the army, the weapons, as well as the experts to help guide him along on this possibly dangerous island. One person Randa seeks out and pays to help him is world-renowned traveler James Conrad (Tom Hiddleston), who doesn’t know what’s there on Skull Island, either, but doesn’t like the sounds of it, which is why he demands for his pay to be doubled. Meanwhile, on the mission, is anti-war photographer Mason Weaver (Brie Larson), who can’t wait to see what’s out there, and Lieutenant Colonel Preston Packard (Samuel L. Jackson), a member of the Army who isn’t too happy about what happened with the war and isn’t ready to let that go. Not even a gigantic, monstrous and incredibly violent ape known as Kong.

Kong best look out.

Kong: Skull Island is so entertaining, so quick, so visually impressive, and so fun that, even with all of its flaws, I’m willing and absolutely able to just let bygones be bygones and praise the film as it is. Because even though the script is silly, underwritten, and not at all up to the task of aiding and abetting this talented ensemble, the direction from Jordan Vogt-Roberts is so thrilling, it’s hard to care so much. After all, do you really go to a King Kong movie for the well-written, three-dimensional, and emotionally complex characters? Or, do you go to a King Kong movie for the vividly gigantic monsters beating the absolute hell out of one another and terrorizing any human that tries to stand in their ways?

Honestly, it’s not bad to have a little bit of both, but fine, Kong: Skull Island wants to stick with the later, so whatever.

Either way, Kong: Skull Island is still a very fun movie and a lot of that is credited to Vogt-Roberts because he takes what could have been a very soulless, almost boring job of rebooting the tale of Kong and instead, adds some life, flair (literally), and energy into it. One of the most notable and interesting aspects Vogt-Roberts adds here is that Kong: Skull Island is, on one hand, a monster movie, in which people run away and try to kill a monster, but on the other hand, it’s also a Vietnam War movie, in which some cold cut rock classics from the early-70’s blasts out from the speakers, everyone’s a little scared and paranoid, and yeah, the temperature is hot, sweaty and downright miserable. In a way, Vogt-Roberts wants to make the Apocalypse Now of monster movies and while he doesn’t quite reach those heights, he still shows us all something new and original can be done with the monster movie.

And because of this, there’s an energy to Skull Island that’s hard to resist and shove-off. Even though it’s absolutely clear from the get-go that the script is going to be shoddy, silly and downright stupid, there’s just something about the look and feel of this all that’s easy to ride along with and enjoy. Even those who want to see Kong in all of his finest form, will be pleased to know that he’s seen a whole bunch throughout and doing all the sorts of things that you’d expect him to do in a movie involving him; there’s smashing, crunching, chewing, roaring, pounding, beating, breaking, punching, kicking, throwing, eating, and oh yeah, crying. Kind of.

But not from these fools.

Regardless, those who complained about 2014 Godzilla not having enough of said title character, then sit down, shut up and feast your eyes on the creature that you’ve all been so desperately wanting to see.

That said though, like I’ve said before, the script is just, uhm, how should I say this? Lame. But it’s not terrible in that it’s hard to listen to, ruins the movie, and sucks all of the fun out of it; it’s more that it feels like a leftover script from the 90’s, right around the time Jurassic Park came out and all of a sudden, everyone wanted to make a big-budget, effects-heavy monster movie. Meaning, there’s a lot of cheesy one-liners; a lot of characters who have basically one personality-trait to them and it basically defines them; a lot of contrivances; a lot of scenes that need more explaining; and oh yeah, a lot of random bits of silliness that seem to literally come from out of nowhere.

And it’s weird, too, because the cast here is so well-done and impressive, that it’s a bit of a shame. No one’s bad here, honestly, but because the net has been cast so far and wide, no one true performance really gets to shine above the rest. The only ones I can truly think of doing this are probably John C. Reilly and Samuel L. Jackson, but that’s just because they get maybe two or three more sentences than the rest of the cast to explain themselves and allow us to get to know them a tad bit better. Others like Hiddleston, Larson, Goodman, Whigham, Corey Hawkins, Jason Mitchell, Toby Kebbell, John Ortiz, and an oddly miscast Thomas Mann, all fall by the waist side and it’s a sign that the movie may have cast a smaller net, or have been longer.

Still though, for a movie that clocks in just under two hours, it makes for a good time. Just don’t try and think too hard, like me.

Basically, don’t be me.

Consensus: Even with an awfully wacky script, Kong: Skull Island gets by solely on the pure energy and fun from its direction, as well as an interesting take on the monster movie genre itself.

7 / 10

Oh wait. Never mind. He can’t be stopped.

Photos Courtesy of: Aceshowbiz

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I Saw the Light (2016)

If only Sr. had a chance to be ready for some football.

Hank Williams (Tom Hiddleston) was just another up-and-coming country singer from a troubled home in Alabama. However, through all of the pain and the hardship, the only way he got through it all was through song, which is why he decided to take his soul, his lyrics and most importantly, his voice out there on the road, for all sorts of people to love, praise and adore, even all of these years later. Backed by his supportive, but sometimes aggressive wife, Audrey (Elizabeth Olsen), Hank seemingly had it all; the fame, fortune, wife, and a nice house to-boot. Problem was, Hank had a pretty big problem with drinking and this often lead to erratic, wild behavior. For instance, he stopped showing up to shows that he was initially booked for, much to his fan’s dismay. And then, he started flingin’ around and looking at other dames that didn’t so happen to be his wife. Yes, it was all so self-destructive, but somehow, even at the end of a long day filled with booze, cigarettes, and women, he always finds a way to come back to his guitar and sing his heart out.

Sing it loud and sing it proud, Loki.

Sing it loud and sing it proud, Loki.

There’s only so much one can do with the musical biopic genre. That’s why, every so often, when we do get some rare exceptions and changes to the rule, they’re not only a breath of fresh air, but make it feel as if any musician’s life can be possibly covered in a film version. Many were skeptical of N.W.A’s Straight Outta Compton movie, however, that turned out to be one of the more exciting flicks of the past year. Now, it’s time for Hank Williams to get his time in the spotlight and unfortunately, it’s more of the same.

But is that necessarily a bad thing?

In I Saw the Light director Marc Abraham goes for a darker route than we’re used to seeing with these kinds of movies. While we’re so used to getting a rise-and-fall story, where the highs are incredibly how, and the lows hit the bottom of the barrel, Abraham seems to really aim for the deep-end with this tale. And honestly, I think Williams’ story is more than deserving of it; you read his story, whether in a book, or on the internet, you can tell that Williams’ life wasn’t a very happy, nor pleasant one.

Sure, he did get a paid a whole slew of cash for creating some wonderfully catchy and soulful country tracks, and yes, everyone around him (who, let’s be fair, didn’t actually know him), wanted his talent and his life, but little did they know, that deep down inside, the man was hurting. That isn’t to say that he was perfect, which Abraham definitely embraces, but that also isn’t to say that his life was pretty unfortunate and watching the flick, it’s hard not to feel some ounce of sympathy for the guy.

Yeah, he cheats, he lies, he steals, he drinks too much, and he doesn’t always treat those around him in the besy ways imaginable, but how different is he from so many other people out there?

Regardless, yeah, I Saw the Light has taken a lot of flack for being a slow, sometimes boring movie – this is a point I won’t necessarily disagree with. However, I will also note that the slower, more meditative pace actually worked for me, as it brought me down to the same level and pace that Williams was living his life. Sure, the concerts and performances may have been chock full of fun, excitement and high times, but when the show was over, the lights were dimmed, and everyone went the hell home, what else was there for Williams to go back on home to? You can call him “selfish”, you can call him “a dick”, you can call him whatever you want, but there’s something compelling about Williams, his life off the road, and his home life that drove me to want to see more about him.

Then again, the movie also doesn’t really give us all that much to really work on and draw more conclusions about how terrible his upbringing was. There’s one key scene in which he shows up late to a concert, performs, and decides to spend a solid portion of it, going on and on about his family, his parents, and his childhood. It’s a sad scene, but it’s one that really brought home the idea of just how troubled this man was, hence why he was acting-out so much now that he was a fully grown-man. Issue with that scene is that we don’t really get much more insight into his life, or his childhood after that.

Keep the mic on you man.

Not every couple needs to have duets, Hank.

Basically, it’s just one scene, after another, of Hank Williams drinking, smoking, sexing, and acting like a brat, way too much.

Are these scenes all that interesting, or better yet, entertaining to sit by and watch? Not really, however, I will say that the movie gets a lot of mileage out of these scenes because Tom Hiddleston does a really great job portraying a broken-down, beaten-up soul in the form of Williams; someone who could charm the pants off of a sailor, yet, also make you hate him for doing so. Hiddleston gets a lot of the singing right, which helps add a certain level of legitimacy to the performance, but it’s also the things that he doesn’t sing or say, that really made me feel more for him and his character.

Why he couldn’t have been served with a far more attentive movie, really is a shame, because Hiddleston has got it in his bones to make a run for an Oscar.

There’s others in the cast who are pretty solid, too, like Cherry Jones, Bradley Whitford, and most of all, Elisabeth Olsen, as Hank’s former wife who not only wanted to manage his life, but be apart of his career as well. It’s actually interesting what the movie brings up about how Audrey couldn’t really sing, yet, she always insisted on lending her vocals on records and in performances – so much so that a lot of people heckled Hank about it. The movie seems like it wants to go down a more detailed path than just showing them arguing and fighting all of the time, but nope, it just leaves them at that.

Maybe there was more. But maybe, there’s more in another movie.

Consensus: With more attention placed on the sadder aspects of Williams’ life, I Saw the Light works as a more melodic musical biopic, yet, also doesn’t give its talented cast and crew enough material to really make wonders with.

5.5 / 10

If only he stuck around long enough for Monday Night Football.

If only he stuck around long enough for Monday Night Football.

Photos Courtesy of: Indiewire

High-Rise (2016)

Happens at Marriott Inns all the time.

Dr. Robert Laing (Tom Middleston) moves into a towering London skyscraper where most of the rich and powerful upper-class people live on the tippy-top, and the lower-class, mostly poorer people live on the bottom. Laing for himself is somewhere in the middle of everything and soon finds himself accepted by both sides of the spectrum; he enjoys the lavish and exquisite parties that the upper-class has, but he also enjoys having a pretty wacky and wild time with the lower-class ones as well. Mostly though, he’s just trying to play it safe, live a simple life, make some friends, and not get dragged-up in anything too complicated or whatever. However, that all changes when the two classes begin to clash over, well, everything. Power starts going out, supermarkets start running dry, and somehow, more and more people are fighting. Even though the police are around, they don’t seem too interested to get involved, which means that it’s mostly all up to the tenants to solve these issues. This, as expected, leads to some disastrous and downright deadly results.

If he's shocked, something's got to be really screwed up there.

If he’s shocked, something’s got to be really screwed up there.

There’s a good half-hour or so where I was totally on-board with High-Rise and everything that Ben Wheatley seemed to be doing. The tone is off in that we get a sense of this where we are, but we don’t know what to make of anything just yet; we know that something bad is going to happen, but how, why and when? These are questions brought up by Wheatley who seems to, at times, be feeding us a pitch-dark comedy that doesn’t want to clue us in yet of just what its intentions are, or where exactly it’s going to go.

And yes, in a way, I ate all that up. The movie not only looks great, but there was something about its world-building that kept me interested, even if it did seem like Wheatley was plodding his way along something of a plot. Wheatley seems less interested in plots such as these, and more interested in just figuring out more about these characters and the world that they’re surrounded by – while some of it seems real, for the most part, it isn’t. This is a scarily idealized world that we’re not necessarily to be happy about, but still want to see stuff happen in and that’s how I felt watching High-Rise.

And then, that all changed.

For one, Wheatley loses all sorts of focus with this and never seems to know what he wants to do, or say with this material, except just do the same thing, over and over again. Without saying too much, a lot of terrible stuff happens to a lot of people in here and while I’m all for it, there came a point where I was wondering if it was going to mean anything for any reason. Wheatley has shown in his past few movies that he doesn’t mind killing people in ugly, heinous ways because it either, A) looks cool, or B) is cool, which is a-okay with me, but there has to be some sort of reason, or at the very least, some sort of connection to it; to just give us bloody and horrific acts of violence for the sake of it, can not only get real old after awhile, but it just makes you seem lazy. Rather than seeming like the talented and cool kid who can find all sorts of meaning in a painting of a red box, you still seem more like the kid who doesn’t get it, so rips it off the wall and lights it on fire.

That poor child being brought up in a world like this.

That poor child being brought up in a world like this.

Maybe that’s a huge generalization to make, but it’s not a hard one to make after watching High-Rise. There’s a lot of good in the movie, most definitely, but there’s also a whole hour-and-half where the movie does the same thing, again and again, and there’s nothing to it. None of these characters ever feel like real people we care about, nor does any of the action hit close to home because, well, it’s all an over-the-top cartoon. The tone may be dark and eerie, but not for a second did I take anything seriously what anyone did or said. Wheatley may have, but it sure as hell didn’t transition to the screen.

And this is a huge shame, because the cast he’s got really does try their best with all that they can do, but it’s really Wheatley’s show and he doesn’t really allow for anyone to grow beyond him, or the material.

Hiddleston is basically doing exactly what he did on the Night Manager, except seeming more clueless about the world around him than ever and it’s no fun to watch; Sienna Miller is fiery and hot, but has some weird subplots going on that never materialize, nor make any emotional impact; Elisabeth Moss shows up as a pregnant housewife who has a bit of an interesting dark side to her, but it’s so mushed in together with the rest of what’s going on that it almost feels like an afterthought; Luke Evans has some fun, but ultimately, goes down so many wild and wacky paths with his character that he never feels like an actual, living and breathing human being; and Jeremy Irons is, yes, pretty freaky, but that’s all he is. He never becomes detestable, nor does he ever go beyond just being “a scary dude” – he’s supposed to be the main villain of the story, but really, I just didn’t care.

Maybe that’s the point, but honestly, who knows? I clearly sure as hell don’t, as shown by my rating. Maybe I’m stupid.

I do know that.

Consensus: High-Rise toggles with interesting and eerie ideas about social classes and economics, but never makes much sense of them with a story that works, or actually intrigues past just being a bunch of bad things happening, for whatever reasons.

3 / 10

Going up, Mr soon-to-be-Bond.

Going up, Mr. soon-to-be-Bond?

Photos Courtesy of: Indiewire

Crimson Peak (2015)

Sisters always know best.

Young author Edith Cushing (Mia Wasikowska) is destroyed by the news of her father’s death. So much so, that she’s left without anyone to really care for her and take over her day-to-day doings. That’s when the strapping young lad from England known as Sir Thomas Sharpe (Tom Hiddleston), comes around and sweeps her off of her feet. While Edith is initially hesitant to hook up with Sharpe, she eventually gives in and starts to see him for all that he is. While he is maybe too tied and dedicated to his older sister, Lady Lucille Sharpe (Jessica Chastain), she soon realizes that it’s just because they have an inseparable bond that cannot be tied or broken. But Edith begins to get more curious about the history that the Sharpe relatives have and, in ways she least expected to, finds out certain things that are quite shady and surprising. Add on the fact that she seems to be constantly followed around by a creepy-looking witch, Edith has a lot to be worried about. But it’s ultimately up to her to figure out whether or not she’s going to make it out this situation, knowing everything she needs to in order to stay alive.

Oh, Mia. Lighten up already!

Oh, Mia. Lighten up already!

Like I’ve said before, Guillermo del Toro is not someone I love. While I do appreciate the fact that he puts a fine amount of thought into his pieces, overall, they tend to feel as if they’re so reliant on how beautiful they look, that when it comes to actually giving an effective story, he sort of chucks it all out the window. While he’s definitely interested in keeping his audiences compelled by every move he makes, he also doesn’t forget that he’s got a lot of pretty things to show-off for the whole world to see and be amazed by. While that’s worked for del Toro before in much better, well-told movies, Crimson Peak pales in comparison because there really isn’t much to the story other than just, “Yeah. Old-looking, English mansions can be spooky”.

And that about sums up the movie.

Although, to be fair, Crimson Peak isn’t without its strengths that make it a worthy affair to sit through, even when it seems to be treading water so much, that you wonder if it even had a story to begin with. As expected, it’s a very pretty, albeit scary-looking film. To say that the large, but old-timey mansion is its own character in the movie, is a total cliché; however, in this movie’s case, it’s the actual truth. As soon as Edith and the Sharpe relatives end up in this manor, the movie all of a sudden becomes more of a haunted house-feature that appreciates how dark the halls are, and how most people can’t tell what’s making that noise so late in the night. Del Toro loves to freak his audiences out and while the movie may not be all that scary, it still keeps you interested in what the mystery at the dead-center of the flick may be. Even if the actual reveal itself doesn’t deliver much on the promise, it still will keep you on-edge for a good portion.

Then again, this movie also got a huge problem in that it’s so slow and meandering, it doesn’t seem as if it’s going anywhere, anytime soon. While it’s fine that del Toro tends to take his time with his stories, so that he can develop characters, as well as their relationships with one another, so to create a more powerful effect when all goes South in the latter-portions, here, it seems like he’s taking too much time to get anywhere at all. Though it’s obvious he’s setting the movie up for a big, awfully creepy reveal at the end, the time it takes to hint at that, to when it actually gets there, is so long apart, that they almost feel like sequels to one another.

This wouldn’t be such a problem, either, had the characters been all that interesting to watch and see be fleshed-out, but they too feel stiff and boring.

Is it weird that they supposedly dated in real life?

Is it weird that they supposedly dated in real life?

Mia Wasikowska’s Edith may seems like the different kind of female protagonist we get in these kinds of movies, but after awhile, she just seems to fall back asleep and not really build this character. Tom Hiddleston is creepy as Thomas for a good portion of the movie, but because del Toro hints at something more complex and sweet about him, there’s a feeling of expecting more and we don’t really get it. And also, Charlie Hunnam shows up as one of Edith’s childhood friends from back home and feels like he just showed-up on the set, not just because he could, but almost as a favor to del Toro (they worked together in Pacific Rim).

The only one out the cast who seems to be enjoying the most of their time here is Jessica Chastain, in a surprisingly very campy, over-the-top performance. In the past few years since she’s become a big name, Chastain has been known to play these very serious, overly-dramatic characters that never seem to crack a smile, let alone know what an actual smile is; that’s not to say she isn’t a good actor in these kinds of roles, it’s just that it feels like she’s too stern and straight-faced, that it’s hard to imagine that she’s get anything resembling a personality deep in there. But as Lucille, she gets a chance to show just how wild and weird she can be, and can sometimes even elevate the movie to her standards. While it’s nice to see del Toro write a strong female character, it’s also nice to see him write one that isn’t trying too hard to be the heart and soul of the story – mostly, Lucille is the villain of the story and she’s a hard one to turn away from.

Which is, yes, a problem when she’s more interesting to watch than your protagonist.

Consensus: Crimson Peak may boast scary, gothic-y visuals, del Toro’s story never seems to take-off to the point of where it’s ultimately engaging or tense to watch play-out.

5.5 / 10

Turn away now!

Turn away now!

Photo’s Credit to: IMDB, AceShowbiz

Only Lovers Left Alive (2014)

Vampires were so 20th Century.

Adam (Tom Hiddleston) and Eve (Tilda Swinton) are two vampires living in the 21st Century. They’re both in love, married and have been living for a very long awhile, and it’s sort of beginning to take a toll on them. Maybe less so on Eve as she’s just happy with the way life has turned out for her and spends her nights reading, walking through the streets of Tangier, and meeting up with her blood supplier, Kid (John Hurt). As for Adam, however, he’s a bit less happy with life. He’s dark, moody and all alone, living in Detroit, yet, he makes music for the underground scene that is a big hit amongst the cool crowd, even though most of them don’t know who he is or where he lives. He too has a blood supplier in the form of Dr. Watson (Jeffrey Wright), in which he pays the big bucks to keep his life going on even longer. Problem is, he’s starting to feel like life really isn’t worth living, which is when Eve decides to come up to Detroit and visit him, where they hang around, drive, listen to music and get an unexpected visit from her sister, Ava (Mia Wasikowska), who causes all sorts of trouble for them.

I don’t think I stand alone when I say that I am absolutely tired of vampire movies. Nor do I really want to think of one directed by Jim Jarmusch – the kind of director I get and understand his intentions with certain movies, but I still don’t really know if I “like”. So, with those two aspects put together, I knew one thing for certain: I was not looking forward to this. But, being the type of dedicated movie-lover I am, I gave it a watch and believe it or not, things came out a lot better than I expected.

Don't always believe it when I guy tells you "Hendrix played it once". We've all fallen for that sham at least once.

Don’t always believe it when a guy tells you “Hendrix once played on it”. We’ve all fallen for that sham at least once.

For starters, this is definitely not the type of vampire movie I was expecting to see. There’s barely any bystanders getting bitten in the necks, hardly any violence, and only small doses of blood being shown to us. Other than that, everything’s pretty laid-back, cool and calm, in a way that I expected to see Jarmusch use. However, it never felt meandering here like it has with many of his past flicks; much rather, it seemed like Jarmusch had a reason to slow down the pace of this movie. Not to just pay attention to these characters and give us sympathetic blood-suckers, but actually shed a light on the world around us.

See, if you think about it, the way this movie frames both Adam and Eve (geddit!?!?!) is that they’re, essentially, the two, biggest hipsters of the 21st Century. They think they are better than everybody, refer to humans as “zombies”, listen to obscure, R&B hits from the 60’s and 70’s, where sunglasses wherever they go (mostly at night, of course), and even discuss Nikola Tesla and Einstein. If those aren’t recipes for the two biggest tools on the face of the planet, then I have no clue what is.

But here’s the thing about this movie and these characters: They’re supposed to be like this. Vampires, especially these two in particular, are immortal and have lived through it all, seen it all, experienced it all, etc. So, it makes sense that they would not only talk so negatively about those that surround them that aren’t their kind, but also be able to talk about such historical-figures like Christopher Marlowe, or Shakespeare, or even Robert Schuman for that matter. If these two were two, actual human beings placed in some random indie, they’d be absolutely insufferable. However, since they are vampires and have been living, breathing and drinking other people’s blood for as long as time can go back to, they just seem like themselves, no frills attached.

Because of that, we not only like Adam and Eve, but sort of see what it is that they are saying about the world around them. Yes, humans as a species, are dumb and don’t always make the right choices. However, there’s also something about humanity and the way it can end seemingly at any second, that gives those reasons to live. We can enjoy life, hold it in our hands, and do whatever it is we want with it, because we all know that one day, it’s all going to end. It’s sad, but that’s the reality of life, man.

Not the reaction I have to drinking blood, but hey, whatever floats her boat.

Not the reaction I have to drinking blood, but hey, whatever floats her boat.

And with these two vampires, you can see that living through everything the world has brought to them, really is taking a toll on them. They’re not necessarily so tired with life that they want to end it any second (except maybe less so in Eve’s case than Adam’s), but they do feel as if they have so much damn time on their hands, that what is really the point of it all. It’s a sad existence those vampires are forced to live, which is why it’s easy to care for both Adam and Eve, if only because they know how to survive and do it the right way without anybody really getting hurt because of so.

Of course both Tom Hiddleston and Tilda Swinton are the main reasons why we feel this way towards Adam and Eve, but it’s also the way in which Jarmusch just keeps his attention solely on them, their daily-interactions and how it is they get by in life. He doesn’t necessarily change anything up about the conventions vampires have, but he does do some neat and cool things with the idea of having a vampire be, what is essentially a hipster living amongst everyday society. They’re almost human-like, except for the facts that they live off of blood, can’t let the sunlight hit them, walk into some place without being invited in, nor even see their reflections. However, it’s much less about these rules and standards that have been handed-down from the beginning of time that matter, and more about how these vampires are ones we actually care for and don’t totally loathe.

Take that, Bella and Edward!

Consensus: Slower than what most are used to expecting with movies about vampires, Only Lovers Left Alive shines an alluring eye on its sympathetic characters, while also realizing the realities they are placed into and why being human does matter, if it can be sometimes meaningless.

8 / 10 = Matinee!!

True love. Not like this crap.

True love. Not like this crap.

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBCollider

Muppets Most Wanted (2014)

Oh, those Muppets. So hip, so meta, so cool.

It has finally happened! The Muppets are back and more popular than ever! The only difference now is that they don’t quite know what to do with all their popularity, that is, until booking-agent Dominic Badguy (Ricky Gervais) walks into their lives and gives them an offer they can’t refuse: Come along with him, go on a world tour, sell every place out and sooner than later, they’ll be rich, famous and cool all over again. But, the only problem here is that none of the other Muppets know about what Dominic is really up to, which concerns breaking into art galleries all over the world, finding buried-treasure and becoming even more rich than ever before. Also, there is another part of the plan that consists of Kermit getting mistaken for a villainous thief known as “Constantine”, because they look exactly the same, although the latter does have a mole on his face. Either way, the switch-up happens and when Kermit is thrown into a Russian prison, the rest of the Muppets are left with nothing else to do but to just get on with the show and hope for the best, even if they do notice that something rather strange is going on with the “new” Kermit.

To clear things up right away, I absolutely loved and adored the hell out of the latest Muppets movie that came out some odd years back. Not only was it a return-to-form for those lovely puppets I grew up watching and knowing throughout all of my childhood, but it reminded me just how hilarious they actually were, despite me growing up a little bit. Their jokes were a lot more self-knowing, smart, witty, and even, dare I say it, meta. It showed me that the Muppets weren’t only here to stay, but that they could easily continue to have me smiling, laughing and having a great time with them, even as I got older.

For once, Ricky Gervais doesn't know what to say.

For once, Ricky Gervais is left speechless.

Heck, I even watched that holiday special they had with Lady Gaga and RuPaul a couple of months ago!

Anyway, that’s why when I was going into this, I expected to have the same bit of fun I had with the last movie, while still remaining a bit skeptical. Why? Well, because with the first movie, it seemed like there was a lot more at-stake. We hadn’t seen the Muppets pop-up in much for a very long time, nor did we get a movie of theirs for a whole ten or eleven years. So basically, the first movie was created as a tool as to see if these puppets were still popular, or, better yet, could even make some money for those powers-that-be. Thankfully, the movie did both! But that’s why I remained a little weary of what this movie was going to do and if it wasn’t going to stick to its guns like the latest movie did. I felt like they were probably going to try all that they could to strangle a laugh out of us and probably end-up straining themselves in the process.

But somehow, this wasn’t the case here, although some of my fears did come true here, if only a wee bit.

What I think works so well here, as it does with practically anything involving the Muppets, is the humor. It’s the type of humor that works for any and all ages. There’s the older, more-knowing jokes suitable for the more mature crowd; as well as there’s plenty of those slapstick jokes where characters are falling down, blowing stuff up and hitting each other over the heads with whatever they can find, for the younger crowd. It all works very well and barely ever lets up, even if most of those “thoughtful” jokes do, and will, go over most of those younger kids’ heads. Not saying so in a condescending way, just saying that it’s something that you have to expect with a Muppets movie. Or anything involving the Muppets whatsoever.

The next best aspect of this movie is definitely the music which seems like it only gets better the more and more you think about certain lines of lyrics. Sure, there’s nothing along the lines of “Man or Muppet” to be found here, but for what it’s worse, most of the tunes heard here are funny, well-written and better than most of the other crap you hear on the radio nowadays. I mean, seriously, who in the hell is “the Glitch Mob”!??!?

And I guess you could consider the cast to be the next best aspect of this movie, mainly Ty Burrell as a French Interpol inspector that works with Sam the Eagle on this whole big mystery of a plot and is always competing with him as who is the better Secret Service agent. Also, they battle it out on whose badge is bigger, which is a running-gag that never seems to get old. Burrell is probably the only who is more lively and energetic than some of the Muppets here, if only because he has the goofiest, showiest role of them all. Whereas Ricky Gervais and Tina Fey, despite the latter sporting a heavy-Russian accent, don’t really get to do much other than try their very few hands at being funny and holding believable reaction-shots with a bunch of puppets. That’s not taking anything away from Burrell at all, because he truly was hilarious to watch in a campy, over-the-top way. You know, the way you should be when you’re in the same frame as Ms. Piggy, or the Swedish Chef, or especially Kermit himself.

Okay, sure. I guess if the sight of Hornswaggle is a "Spoiler", than whatever.

Okay, sure. I guess if the sight of Hornswoggle is a “Spoiler”, than whatever.

The cameos themselves are all fine and dandy, if totally and completely random. However, that’s exactly what these movies live-off of. Some of the people who show up I’m scared to even give away or spoil, but just know, a few of them will absolute stun you and make you wonder just where the idea of putting this particular person the movie came from. Not all of them are great, but more often than not, they’re pretty strange, but in a good way that the Muppets are always known for featuring.

At the end of the day with this movie, I find myself being totally ecstatic about it, and then, other parts of me find it hard to remember it as perfectly as I did with the first movie. I guess that’s my fault for stacking 30 years of Muppets movies up against one another, but then again, I don’t think it is. As a fan, I think it’s alright to shine a light on the past, and see exactly where the franchise is going. For now, I’m content with the Muppets being around and making us laugh, but still, I hold a little hesitance in my heart, as I know that there could quite possibly be another Muppets from Space, just around the corner. Let’s just hope that’s just another case of me talking out of my backside, and not the harsh, brutal truth.

Consensus: As usual, Muppets Most Wanted assures that our favorite, lovable puppets are still funny and able to make us have a great time, although it is clear that some of the magic is fading away. If only some of it is.

8 / 10 = Matinee!!

That "Walter" guy is still around? Meh!

That “Walter” guy is still around? Meh!

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBColliderJobloComingSoon.net

Thor: The Dark World (2013)

Guys want to get hammered with him, girls want to get hammered by him. He’s Thor, and he’s a pretty cool guy.

After the whole incident in New York, Loki (Tom Hiddleston) is back in his homeland of Asgard, but this time, is being locked away for all eternity, banished from the rest of society. This is when Thor (Chris Hemsworth) finds that it is his time to shine and take over the throne, just as his father Odin (Anthony Hopkins), is getting ready to step down right off of it. However, not so fast there! After years and years of exile, the ruler of the Dark Elves, Malekith (Christopher Eccleston), comes back to shake things up and make Asgard his own play-place where things crash and burn on a daily-basis. Thor won’t have this, however, he’s almost too powerless due to the fact that his heart and mind is elsewhere. Or, to be specific, back on Earth, where his old flame, Jane Foster (Natalie Portman), is still thinking about him to this day, while also trying to get over him date-by-date. Not going to be so easy now, especially since he’s back and asking for all sorts of help from her and her band of scientific misfits.

Though many people were skeptical about it, myself being included, Thor turned out to be a nice surprise that not many were expecting. For once, we not only had a funny superhero movie that didn’t quite enter the realm of “smug”, but we also had one that was still exciting, light, quick and entertaining, despite practically being a filler so that we have one other character developed for that inevitable Avengers movie that did not disappoint much either. Still, with Marvel Phase Two already have begun with Iron Man 3, one has to wonder: “Now that we’ve seen what was in store for us with the huge team-up, will the stand-alone sequels/prequels be able to measure-up?”

Well, the answer is definitely yes, and definitely no. Here, I’ll explain more.

"HAR! HAR! HAR! THOR LAUGH!"

“HAR! HAR! HAR! THOR LAUGH!”

What I mean by the “definitely yes”, is that while these types of movies where we focus on one superhero’s own adventure, with their own subplots, themes and such, we still get a feel that there is a larger-universe out there just waiting to be explored, but just won’t be. That’s not a problem however, considering that it seems like Marvel is comfortable enough now with actually mentioning that there are other superheros out there, and that the whole NYC debacle actually did in fact HAPPEN. Heck, there’s even a couple of brief mentions of the S.H.I.E.L.D. and how they’re lurking around, which was still cool to hear, even if I don’t watch the show. Just yet, that is.

Anyway, so yeah, it’s definitely cool that Marvel doesn’t shy away from actually making mentions of there being others out there in the world and that they may just be waiting to show up whenever the time is right. Personally, I don’t know how anytime of distress isn’t considered “the right time” to get the band back together, but it’s a big old whatever. Obviously I don’t run things in the movie business and I’m pretty sure we all know why now.

But what about that “definitely no”? Well, the reason why I said that is because the stand-alone sequels will never, ever, not in a million years, be on the same, larger, grand epic-scale that the Avengers movie itself was, which may disappoint some far more demanding-viewers, if that’s the type of movie they want. To be honest, I knew going into this that I wasn’t going to get the whole group of Nick Fury, Steve Rodgers, Tony Stark, Bruce Banner, or even Agent Coulson for that matter. All I knew, and wanted, was the same old fun-feel I got from the first Thor movie, and that is exactly what I got, no strings attached or added. Just fun, and for a movie that’s coming out against some Oscar-bait, heavy-hitters this month, I have to give it the huge benefit of the doubt for at least bringing some upbeat vibes to a very chilly atmosphere. That’s if you walk outside and you live in the Northeast. Other than that, I think you don’t you’d be smelling what I’m selling, but so be it!

All that you need to know though about this movie is that it’s as fun and exciting as the first flick was, but with a lot less of the comedy-element thrown in there to round things out. This sort of disappointed me, and it sort of didn’t. It did because I thought that’s what separated the first one from being such a dark, serious take on a superhero who would most likely get that type of treatment; and it didn’t because while the first two-thirds of the movie keep its serious moods and faces afloat, the last-act is where I really felt like things were coming together and firing on all cylinders. Not only was the huge climax as much of a CGI-spectacle as you’d expect, with all sorts of action going on in each-frame-per-second, but the humor just kept on having me laugh. All of that “fish-out-water” comedy that seemed to run so rampant in the first movie, is back here again but used to even better effect, showing us that even though these movies tackle such subjects as Norse gods, demons and angels, there’s a still an under-lining of self-knowing silliness to it all that makes it more than just your standard brain-killer. It has a personality; the same type of personality you’d want to be hanging around at any party or social gathering you go to.

Keep that in mind, especially before that painful ten year, high-school reunion.

A lot of that comedy works mainly through the fact that Chris Hemsworth himself is such a lovable goof, that it’s easy to see past his terribly good-looks, rockin’ bod and ability to charm any gal he pleases to with his Australian accent, and realize that he’s actually talented. Now, of course we all knew that after seeing the first Thor, Cabin in the Woods and especially, Rush two months ago, but to see that he still has it continues to make this blandly-written character somewhat interesting, really charmed the hell out of me. But seriously, on a real, standard-business note, somebody’s got to pitch the idea of getting Thor his own sitcom. Every line, every piece of comedy that comes out of this dude’s mouth or occurs around him, is just pure hilarity and had me, as well as plenty others, howling whenever necessary. Just saying, we’d all benefit from it. Even you Stan Lee, you old bastard.

Just look at the promise he holds for all sorts of situational comedies in the future!

Just look at the promise he holds for all sorts of situational comedies in the future! Take notice, NBC!

And like usual, Tom Hiddleston steals the show as Loki, giving us a character that’s easy to love, but also, even easier to hate by how evil and despicable his actions can be. Still though, there is signs of humanity with this character that goes further than just, “he loves his bro,” which is either a testament to Hiddleston’s talents, or the writing for Loki itself. I think it’s a little mixture of both, but more so of Hiddleston just because he seems so damn charming, on and off the screen. While Loki’s character still prevails as being the most interesting and worth-watching villain we get with these movies, that leaves little to no room for Chistopher Eccleston’s Malekith to do anything even remotely menacing or memorable. Instead, he just comes off like a bad extra from Lord of the Rings that showed up a bit too late to filming after he heard that he got the role of a lifetime, and partied too hard the night before.

The rest of the ensemble does pretty fine as well, with everybody contributing in anyway that they possibly can. Idris Elba is awesome and still bad-ass as Heimdall; Anthony Hopkins and Rene Russo do nice jobs as the rulers of Asgard, proving that seniority rules, even in Marvel movies; Natalie Portman gets plenty of screen-time to be all sorts of fun, sassy and fiery when she’s called on to do so, and it’s nice to see her back on the big screen and doing what she does best; and of course, Kat Dennings and Stellan Skarsgård are around to be goofy and zany in their scientic, nerdy-like way, and they’re fun to watch, especially Skarsgård who’s constantly running around like a loon, to much of the audience’s pleasure. Glad to see him put his pants back on though. Only in a Lars von Trier movie should we have to be victim to a sight like that, not a Marvel movie, THE SAME ONES THAT KIDS GO TO SEE.

Consensus: The first movie’s surprise-factor still works well against Thor: The Dark World, but still shouldn’t be held fully against it because it as fun, as exciting, as witty and as much of a spectacle as you’re going to get with a movie released at the beginning of November, right before the army of drop-dead serious, Oscar-bait projects begin to swarm in. Enjoy this while it lasts, because it’s the closest thing we’re going to get to “fun” in the longest time.

8 / 10 = Matinee!!

Are people still pissed about this guy being in it?

Are people still pissed about this guy being in it?

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBColliderJobloComingSoon.net

The Avengers (2012)

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!

9/10=Full Price!!

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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The Deep Blue Sea (2012)

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.

6/10=Rental!!

War Horse (2011)

Damn this kid really loves this horse. I mean he reaaaaaaaaaally loves this horse.

This is a tale of a horse named Joey who is remarkable that he starts off just a little guy in England to then be transported off into the war in France. His owner, Albert (Jeremy Irvine) goes all-over-the-world to come and find him as Joey goes throughout the world, meeting new people and gaining new life experiences.

What director Steven Spielberg has always been able to do is tug at our heart-strings no matter what the story may be. Here, he tries a little too hard for that but in the end it’s too hard to hate on a Spielberg.

The problem right off the bat with this flick was that it gets very corny, very early. You get these moments where we see just how amazing Joey is as he can row out a field, or follow his owner just by hearing a simple bird-call, or even just by walking over a piece of wood and then a huge sweeping score comes in just to let you know how magical and beautiful these moments are when in reality they are just plain and simply cheesy. I think I got the fact that Joey was a horse that was unlike any other, after about the first 10 minutes but the film just kept hammering away at this and it becomes an annoyance after awhile.

Another problem with this flick that I actually think Spielberg ran into himself was the idea of how and who was going to make this appeal to everyone. On one hand you have this very emotional story about a horse who goes through everything that is adapted from a Tony-winning Broadway play, but on the other hand you also have this very grim and disturbing tale with soldiers being killed left-and-right and horses being put away in a not so happy matter after there is no use for them anymore. What I’m trying to say here is that it’s pretty hard to center a film out there that seems like it’s for the whole family, when you have these certain darker moments that may scare away the younger people of the family.

This problem is what leads Spielberg to making a very tame film that gets by with clichés and eye-rolling moments. Take for instance the scenes between the grandfather (Niels Arestrup) with his granddaughter are scenes filled with dialogue that should be playful and come out a bit corny especially when the grandfather tells her a story about a bird flying home, which seemed totally cheesy especially considering the fact that the grandfather was kind of being a dick to her also. There are also plenty of other moments where this film just totally flames you with the manipulative moments that are supposed to make you feel something incredible but instead usually just make you want to punch whoever wrote this film.

However, when it comes to Spielberg, this guy always seems to come out on top no matter what it is that he does. The one element to this film that makes it the most watchable throughout all of these cheesy moments is the beautiful look this film has. Spielberg gives this film the epic scenery it deserves and with so many beautiful colors coming at you in every scene, it’s almost too hard to look away. Spielberg is not only just great in showing how beautiful this film can be but also very gritty as the film starts to get darker as we get more into the war which not only show Spielberg’s fine attention to detail but also how he is able to actually capture the feel of WWII but also WWI, which means that the Vietnam War is only about two movies away from being covered.

The film also shows that even though Spielberg tries to manipulate the hell out of his audiences, he still has that sympathetic bone in his body to make us care about what he is showing us on screen. The whole story basically shows Joey being the horse-version of ‘Forrest Gump’, going from one owner to another and each story somehow getting better and better as it goes on. What this horse Joey goes through is hard to watch sometimes but always made me feel something not just by how great he is, but just how useful he is even though he’s just viewed at as another horse. I’m not going to try to get into the whole “all living things should be treated the same” speech that it seems like I’m leading myself into but regardless of that, the story of Joey will make you feel something deep down inside of you and it’s all thanks to Spielberg because he always knows how to make anybody feel something.

It seems like every person who has seen this film or reviewed it is mentioning the no-man’s land scene between the British soldier and the German soldier where they meet to free Joey from barbed-wire and it really is worth mentioning apart from this flick. This scene is probably one of the best that has been in a Spielberg film in the past 10 years and it shows just how well he is able to show two conflicts being calmed down or resolved just by simply taking it easy or even just coming together to help a certain someone or something that may be in harm’s way. It’s a very powerful scene and one that makes this stand-out from recent war films.

Something else that Spielberg does here that really works is how he barely uses any big-names for his cast but that works incredibly well for the film since it keeps our minds on Joey. Jeremy Irvine is good as Albert and gives him this innocent boy act that works and makes us feel for his character when him and Joey actually get separated; Emily Watson is probably the most familiar face as his mother, and she’s great as well; and Tom Hiddleston is also very good as Captain Nicholls, even though some people may not be able to get past the fact that it’s Loki playing a British war Captain. There are many other performers here but nobody else that really stands out except for Irvine, and even he isn’t anything all that memorable.

Consensus: War Horse is heavy-handed, corny, and built on upon tons and tons of clichés, but somehow Spielberg is able to make this story heart-warming with a beautiful look, and some very good scenes that will make you feel more for this story as it goes along.

7.5/10=Rental!!

Midnight in Paris (2011)

After taking French for 2 years now, I finally have a reason to go and tour Paris. Thank you Woody!

Woody Allen focuses his lens on a young engaged couple (Owen Wilson and Rachel McAdams) whose experiences traveling together in Paris make them begin to question the kind of life they want to live as a couple. There’s more to this plot, but I can’t tell you anymore I’m sad to say. You may just have to check it all out.

Woody Allen is one of my favorite writer and directors, and it’s just awesome to see him have a film come out during the big Summer blockbuster season and actually get this small film out there. You the man Woody!

My favorite thing about this film is just the overall delightful feeling which comes from Allen’s direction and writing. The first 5 minute silent sequence of Paris throughout a whole day is just beautiful and the way Allen films each little area of Paris is amazing. So basically right from the get-go, you get the total feeling that this is Woody Allen’s love-letter to the city of LOVE aka one of the most beautiful cities of the world. The whole film I just wanted to walk around Paris and every single place this film went made me feel so warm and cozy inside. I know that all may seem a little strange but Paris really is beautiful and the way Allen films it, almost makes it look even better.

The script by Allen is also something to praise as well. This is a very well-written script that features a lot of hilarious dialogue, as well as some nostalgia that will have you looking for your vintage vinyl players, and some insight to hit your brain also. Despite all the of the beautiful scenery here, the film is about living in the now and having a great time with what you have now, rather than just sitting back and brood on how the old days were so much better. It’s pretty funny hearing this message come from a guy who hasn’t put a single song in any of his films that have been after the year 1950, but with Woody, it’s still very relatable. Also, I was totally taken away with what happens to this premise. It really is awesome when you don’t really know what’s going to happen in a film before you see it.

The only real problem I had with this film was that I felt it was way too short and just happened very quickly. I guess I was just expecting more insight, and more plot development by the end of the film and with many of Allen’s films, I usually adore how he ends his films. Here, I didn’t really like the ending and I felt it was a little bit forced to bring out some more smiles for the people leaving the theater, which is not really a complaint, I just know that Woody almost always gets a great ending for whatever it is that he’s doing.

Owen Wilson is fantastic as Gil Penders, a screenplay writer who want’s something more. You would not really think of Wilson as a suitable Woody Allen stand-in because his persona is so easy-going, confident, and totally relaxed feel to him that it’s crazy to see how likable he is in this film. It’s been awhile since Wilson has got a good role lately but here he does a pretty stellar job at not at all phoning it in, and being believable when all this crazy ish is happening around him. Rachel McAdams is a total bitch as his fiancee Inez, but a good and hot one to say the least. The one thing about this film that also had me a little annoyed was how these two actually became so in love, in the first place since all they do here is basically argue and misunderstand one another. Inez treats Gil as a total moron and for me, I don’t care how fine the bitch is, if she’s disrespecting me, she is out the door. The rest of the cast is filled with some nice supporting performances/cameos from a couple of A-listers and up-and-comers, but when you see them, you’ll be totally surprised so I won’t say anything else.

Consensus: It may end very quickly than I expected, but Midnight in Paris is a charming and delightful comedy filled with beautiful images of the city of Paris, a great central performance from Owen Wilson, and an insightful script about living in the present, rather than harping on the past. You tell ’em Woody!

8.5/10=Matinee!!!

Thor (2011)

If this is the beginning of Summer, then this is gonna be a bangin’ Summer!

This Marvel Comics-inspired action flick about the thunder god Thor (Chris Hemsworth), a powerful warrior whose father, Odin (Anthony Hopkins) — the king of Asgard — forces him to live among humans on Earth and learn humility. Once there, he finds a friend (Natalie Portman), along with unexpected enemies sent from his world.

Way back when the trailer for this film came out, everybody had basically had their mind-set on this that it was going to suck. But after seeing it, I think they will all start to change their minds.

Director Kenneth Branagh is a real odd choice for this film, since he’s basically only directed Shakespearean period pieces, which none have any action what so ever but somehow Branagh is good with action. The action is really cool because the things that Thor does with his hammer is absolutely insane, and looks so cool especially when the camera is moving all-over-the-place. They also slowed down when necessary, sped up when it was right, and just worked out so well because never will you feel that a scene is running on too long.

The script is also well done too because all the characters in this film are well drawn-out. There is a human story underneath all this God talk and fighting, which really actually won my sympathy for this film in the long run. The tone here is just a lot more brighter and funnier tone than what you would expect from the source material here, and you’ll definitely remember everyone here in this film. These aren’t amazingly memorable characters, but I have to say that I enjoyed my time with them, and if they were to make a Thor 2, I wouldn’t mind seeing these peeps again.

My main only problem with this film was that I felt like when Thor was on Earth they could have used some more interesting things for him to be introduced to, since I mean he is a dude from a whole other Galaxy, there is probably something he would need to know. Also, that town that this movie takes place in looks less of an actual town, and more of one of those bomb shelter neighborhoods that the U.S. would blow up for practice in the 1950’s. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, go and watch Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, then you’ll know what I’m blabbering on about. Actually don’t check out that whole film, but just check that scene out, because that film sucks.

I’m also very glad that we got Chris Hemsworth as Thor because here he is so cool, so charming, and just so likable that even though he may sound like a spartan from 300, you can’t help but cheer this guy on in the end. Also, he may look like a total bad-ass, but Hemsworth actually reveals a little bit of a soft spot from within Thor, and it’s actually very cool to see. Anthony Hopkins is also very good as Odin, Thor’s father, and takes away all that trash he’s been getting talked on lately about how he’s some crazy, old loony. But Hopkins brings back that flavor we all know and love him for. Natalie Portman is good here bringing a lot of wit and humor to her character as Jane Foster. Tom Hiddleston is also good as the bad-guy Loki, who brings that evil British charm that we always despise in our “hero vs. villain” movies. Everybody else does a good job here such as Idris Elba, Kat Dennings, Clark Gregg, Ray Stevenson, and a very likable Stellan Skarsgård. There’s also a cameo from a certain someone that I can’t say, but when you see it, you’ll know what I’m talking about.

There’s also a little zinger at the end that is actually pretty interesting at the end, and not just the same old Avengers propaganda shit that shows another new character or something. Stay after the credits, because anything with Samuel L. Jackson is the shit.

Consensus: Thor is Hollywood summer blockbuster entertainment at its finest: well-acted, great to look at, easy to follow along with, briskly paced, and just a fun film that won’t have you in much need of a brain to enjoy.

8.5/10=Matinee!!