Saturday, February 9, 2013

Unforgiven (1992)

Rating: 80%
Okay I know it's been a while since I've reviewed any more best picture winners, but there a couple more that I want to do before I start focusing more on school and other things, so here's the last winner from the 90's to review, Unforgiven.

Plot: A group of prostitutes offer a $1,000 reward for hunting down two cowboys named Quick Mike and Davey-Boy who disfigured one of their own, Delilah. Word of this reaches to a cowboy named The Schofield Kid who come to a pig farm to recruit a former bandit named Munny who is now a widower raising his children and has sworn off drinking. Munny refuses at first, but considering that his farm is failing, he decides to join and bring his former partner, Logan to come with them.

So this one is apparently a huge classic not just as a film in general but especially as a western and all that jazz. It's praised my critics, it obviously won best picture, and it's #4 on AFI's top western films. Do I find it as huge of a classic as everyone else? Eh...*gunshots firing right above H.A.K.* JUST HEAR ME OUT!!!! JUST HEAR ME OUT!!!! I'm not denying it's a good film. The acting is great, it has some really well done characters, it gave a really epic climax and...Clint Eastwood and Morgan Freeman...that's it. I mean what more is there to often say outside of the fact that it's Eastwood and Freeman? But some things didn't quite make it as a big of a deal for me. I mean while the plot got better in the climax, the fact that it started out as mostly another western about getting a certain bandit or something wasn't quite a big thing for me. And as great of a performance as Eastwood gave, the whole former bandit or killer thing now kind of getting dragged for one more job years later has been done before also even outside of westerns. And otherwise I would have to agree with Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert who found the movie to be too long and had too many superfluous characters. (btw, kind of off subject; I know that Delilah is played by a totally different actress, but is it me, or does she kind of look like Drew Barrymore in some certain angles?)

So that's basically my review for Unforgiven. I completely agree that it's a good movie. If you haven't seen it, I bet you'll enjoy it. It's just that while it would likely blow most of you away,  it has certain issues that make it good but not fantastic for me personally.

Dredd (2012)

Rating: 85%
alright so a little before school started this semester, my dad got Dredd from RedBox so here's how it turned out after he and my youngest brother and I saw it.

Plot: The film is set in a future United States where most of the place is a wasteland. Dredd is among the many judges in Mega-City One who act as the judge, jury and executioners for the many crimes that are committed throughout the entire city. One day he's assigned to a 200-story slum tower block called Peach Trees to solve the murder of three drug dealers while evaluating a new recruit named Anderson. But this eventually leads them to discover about the drug lord Ma-Ma who is attempting to kill them, so they end up fighting to bring her to justice.

Now I've never read any of the comics or seen the other movie with Sylvester Stallone. But my dad says that this film beats the living crap out of the Stallone one and I totally believe him. This was a really fun movie with really with great action, interesting cinematography, and really cool designs and visual effects. The story and the characters -while well acted in cases like Karl Urban and Olivia Thirlby - are not that impressive, but that's kind of a good thing. My dad and brother and I all agreed that it seems that the creators of the film accepted that this film was not going to be fantastic in terms of any of those things and that it is what it is. We may not know that for sure, but if it's true, more power too them. Dredd seemed to not really need to start off with very developed characters or a really smart and complex plot, especially as a remake and on the likeliness that they are going to make a sequel. It just needed to be what it really is to make it enjoyable for it's audience whether you're a fan or not.  

So that's my review for Dredd. It's not much in terms of story or characters, but it seems to accept that and just be an awesome, action packed movie that's pretty darn entertaining. So if you feel like wanting to see a movie just for the action and stuff, I'd say take a particular look at this one. I think you'll be left at least a little glad you saw it for what it is.

Beasts of the Southern Wild (2012)

Rating: 85%
Okay now this is the last best picture nominee that I'm able to review before the oscars. Cause I can't find nor have the time to try to see Silver Linings Playbook or Amour. So anyway, here's my review for Beats of the Southern Wild.

Plot: Hushpuppy is a little girl who lives in a Louisiana Bayou community called the bathtub with her sick and hot-tempered father, Wink. They generally live very simple lives, but when a storm hits  and everyone else leaves, Wink and Hushpuppy have to fend for themselves with some of their neighbors and try to survive from the wreckage.

...*shrugs* good movie. plain and simple. It had a good story, it was VERY well acting, and I mean very well done job with the kid that played Hushpuppy, it did have some emotional moments, interesting symbolism, some really nice cinematography, and it showed us what life can be like in places like the Louisiana Bayou. Frankly, what really fascinated me the most on top of all that is the fact that this is actually based on a one-act play called Juicy and Delicious. I know, right? I didn't expect it turn out to actually be based on a play either. But after seeing this film, it does leave me a little curious as to what the play is like compared to the film. Probably not quite as big, but still.

So that's basically my review for Beasts of the Southern Wild. It's a deep an emotional movie with great acting, interesting symbolism, good cinematography, and is just a really good film altogether. Will it win best picture? No. But it's still a powerful, my dad for one is particularly glad he saw it, it's just one films from 2012 that you mostly likely will really enjoy yourselves.   

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Zero Dark Thirty (2012)

Rating: 90%
Okay so the Oscars are coming and I have unfortunately been unable to find the time to review Zero Dark Thirty or Beasts of the Southern Wild even though I saw them weeks ago. So sorry that it's taken so long for me to do that, and let's finally fix that starting with Zero Dark Thirty.

Plot: In 2003 a young CIA officer named Maya has focused on her brief career on intelligence in trying to find and capture Osama Bin Laden. So she is reassigned to the U.S. Embassy in Pakistan where she works with her fellow officer, Dan at a black site where they are interrogating a detainee named Ammar.

Good movie? Oh yeah. Might win best picture? I mean I stand by when I say it's a great movie. The acting was great, Jessica Chastain have us a well done performance, there was some really well done suspenseful moments, and they gave us a very descriptive story. I thin one of the big things to appreciate with this film especially that my mom pointed out one the way home from seeing this movie is how they really showed that while we finally got Osama Bin-Laden, we have gone through a lot of serious and dark crap to do so over this past decade. Also as some critics seem to point out, it leaves you to somewhat interpret in your own way if we price we paid to kill Bin-Laden was worth it.  Do I see it winning best picture? has a shot. I mean personally, I still enjoyed Lincoln more, but I wouldn't have any big problem if this film wins. 

And that's my review for Zero Dark Thirty. Its got great acting, very well written story, good suspenseful scenes, it's a very enjoyable film altogether.  

The Pirates! Band of Misfits (2012)

Rating: 30%
Okay, it's the last animated film that is nominated for best animated feature. Let's take a look at The Pirates! Band of Misfits.

Plot: Pirate Captain is a...well pirate captain, who leads a ship full of inexperienced pirates with the help of his first mate, Number Two. Every year, Pirate Captain competes in the Pirates of the Year competition where the winner is crowned pirate king despite plundering very little booty compared the the other pirate captains. During his quest to plunder for more gold, he comes across scientist Charles Darwin who discovers that the captain's parrot Polly, is actually a dodo and they could win a lot of gold at the Scientist of the Year competition. So the pirates attempt to sneak into London to get the gold while trying to avoid being captured by Queen Victoria who has a obsessed hatred for pirates.

Now before I saw this movie, a friend of mine, Tom, told me that he saw this movie and said that he thought it was pretty bad. And...yeah I myself found this film to be rather unimpressive compared to Chicken Run or practically anything from Wallace and Gromit. Don't get me wrong, this film has some good moments as far as some cute little moments of comedy, a nice cast - Martian Freeman was a nice touch what with him also being Bilbo Baggins and all, and of the aspects of the film like Polly the dodo do show some sort of creativity that we would look for when watching Aradman Animations' stop-motion animated films. But that aside, it's just bland. The story was very cheesy and predictable, the characters were not that incredibly memorable, the action wasn't too different from what we've seen already from Aradman, it just was roughly the same things from the previous films but it had no real creativity or spark that makes the other ones so enjoyable.

And that's my review for The Pirates! Band of Misfits. You might like it anyway because it still has the 30 stop-motion animated characters and adventures that we'd expect, but otherwise it was very cheesy, predictable, hardly any of the characters were memorable, it is easily altogether the weakest of the animated nominees in my opinion.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

ParaNorman (2012)

Rating: 75%
Now as optimistic as I want to be about Wreck-It Ralph winning best animated feature this year, I have heard from my brothers that ParaNorman is likely to win (even though they have not seen Wreck-It Ralph). Since they were really sure about this (mainly my youngest brother), I decided to try to see the movie before the oscars come. So when when I found out that my dad just got the movie via Red box, I didn't hesitate to seize the opportunity to see it for myself when I got back home from class last night. So let's take a look at Para Norman.

Plot. Norman is a young boy who has the ability to speak to the dead. Everyone else in his town doesn't believe him and thinks he's a freak, including his family. But when his crazy uncle dies and comes to him dead to tell him that he has to read a book at the grave of a witch to stop a curse before sundown, he attempts to do so only to be stopped by the school bully which causes the curse to raise the dead.

Okay while I wasn't super impressed with this movie, I do have to say that it has some pretty smart moments. While the script has some unoriginal moments, there were some moments in the script that were actually rather clever. Some of the dialogue was well thought of, there were jokes that were actually very smart - heck there is one in the end that was the best part of the movie, and they took some things in an entirely different direction. What they did with the zombies especially-without giving anything away, was a little different and how they did was actually well thought of in a very considerate way. I only have two sorts of downs with this movie. First is the characters. I thought most of them were very cliche. Sure they weren't always cliche, like Norman had a couple of interesting characteristics and another character did kind of steal the show with that joke in the end, but honestly, they weren't anything that special to me at all. They seemed to be more like characters from movies like Goonies or something like that - which isn't completely a bad thing per say since people would probably enjoy it that way, but that didn't really help in terms of giving me something unique or just a plain good reason to really like these characters. The second reason is the message. It's an issue for the same reason as the characters: it was very cliche. One of my brothers (the second youngest) felt that his experience with this movie was ruined because he especially thought that it was very preachy. Would I say it was preachy? Eh...I guess they did give it to us a little too much, but I think the bigger problem was that it's a message that has been used plenty of times LONG before this movie was made. But I would say that ultimately the movie is still good. If there's any real reason why this would win best animated feature this year, I'd say it would be that it has the smarter moments then the other nominations did. That hardly means that it really is the best of this year in my opinion, but I would theorize that it could be a good enough factor for the academy to give it the win. Nothing much else to add except that, of coarse, this film has some very well done animation.

And that's my review for ParaNorman. While every part of me that shows that I'm a Disney kid at heart for the most part really, really, REALLY hopes that Wreck-It Ralph will be the one to give Disney their own oscar for best animated feature just ever so much, ParaNorman seem to show that despite having some lack of originality at some points, is probably the strongest among the nominees in terms of having some slightly smarter dialogue, jokes and one or two other aspects of the film. It's a good film whether it wins or not or even if it wasn't nominated, so if you haven't seen it, I think you might enjoy it.