Wednesday, July 30, 2014
Plot: Natalie is a popular 17 year old high schooler who thinks that she has he life figured out. She's planning to go to Duke University with a Tennis scholarship, she's doing stuff like yearbook, and has recently started dating a new transfer student named Rafael. But then she is partnered in chemistry with an odd, carefree boy named Keith who has a sort of rebellious and somewhat random view of life. She finds him annoying at first, but eventually starts to fall in love with him. So she starts trying to balance her life while both dating Rafael and hanging out with Keith while also trying to know more about him.
This movie really turned out to be a lot better then I really thought it was going to be. Not that I thought it was going to be bad or anything, but it had a more compelling story and especially a more impressive performance from Jessie McCartney then I honestly thought it was going to be. I mean granted, I don't really know much about him about him besides his song "Beautiful Soul" and his voice acting work in most of the Kingdom Hearts games. But just about from beginning to end, I just couldn't see him as Jesse McCartney. Despite my best efforts to do so, McCartney gives us this unique, random, deep and complex character that easily made me more interested in him than trying to see him as just the pop signer. And he does as excellent job in giving us this characters and I was just plain impressed at the end of the day. But that doesn't mean the stuff from the movie wasn't interesting too. Elizabeth Harnois also gives a very deep performance as Natalie as she does display very well how she's trying to juggle everything that is happening to her life whether it has to do with Keith or not. And the story does come out pretty simple at first, but later on, without giving anything away, it becomes much more deeper with its heavier themes that make it more interesting. If there is one big problem with the film that Candra and I agree on, it would be that the film does drag. There are some scenes that possibly weren't really needed, and it does take an awfully long time before we start to find out more about Keith and who he really is, and even when we do, there will be something else about him that we don't know yet that also takes a while.
And that's my review for Keith, it does drag when it comes to things like knowing more about who Keith really is, but the film still turns out to be a rather enjoyable film with a good story, and an impressive performance from Jessie McCartney. If you haven't seen this movie, I say it's worth taking a look at.
Plot: A blue macaw is capture from his home in Rio and eventually found by a little girl named Linda who takes care of him and names him Blu. Fifteen years later, Linda is grown up and owns a bookstore and Blu grown up high domesticated but unable to fly. Then a Ornithologist named Túlio comes and tells Linda that Blu is the last male of his kind and offers her to take him to Rio so he can mate with a female blu macaw in order to save his species. So they go and Blu is forces to try to mate with the female named Jewel, but then they are captured and taken to a group of smugglers and so try to escape and return to Linda.
So what did I think about this movie I so stubbornly hated? Its... actually better then I honestly thought it would be even if I was putting the whole thing about Scream 4 aside. However, it mainly revolves around its animation and the comedy rather than the story and the characters. But let's start off with the good stuff. The animation as I just stated, is very good. It's colorful, and also gives us some great scenery just from the the mere view of Rio de Janero. The songs are also very likable; The best on is easily the beginning song "Real in Rio", which was nominated for original song at the Oscars. Should it have won? *snickers* Of coarse not. "Man or Muppet" is just plainly too funny and original for "Real in Rio to have ever stood a chance. But regardless, "Real in Rio" is very catchy and has a very fun melody that can get stuck in your head fairly well. Most of the other song where much more generic, but they still where a lot of fun... except for the villain song which is so generic that I honestly barely remember that it was there at all. Finally, the comedy is fairly good too. Granted, there are times when it is trying to hard or have some jokes that are just the farthest thing from funny. But other than that, the majority of the jokes hits its target which does lead me to laughing somewhat frequently during the film. So what is bad about the movie? Well I don't know if I would call it bad because it was still entertaining, but the story and the characters weren't all that much. Don't get me wrong, they weren't boring or anything like that. But the characters were only partly interesting but mostly generic, and the majority of the story was pretty predictable for the most part. It was still entertaining either way, but those problems are still there.
And that's my review for Rio. While the plot and characters are nothing too special, it still is an entertaining movie with it's colorful animation, enjoyable songs, and some pretty good comedy. Do I think it's better than Scream 4? Heck no! But it's still a decent flick that didn't entirely deserve all of my silly little hatred.
Plot: In 1982 the writer, director and star of the film, Ari Folman was a 19-year-old infantry soldier for the Israel Defense Forces during the Lebanon War. Then in 2006, he meets a friend from back then who tells him about his nightmares from the war, which leads of Folman revealing that he remembers nothing from that period of time. Later that night, he gets a vision about the night of the Sabra and Shatila massacre in Beirut. So he starts visiting other people who where there in Beirut to try to understand what happened there and revive his memories.
Now what is really fascinating about this movie is that it's specifically made as an animated documentary. Instead of just showing us photos and footage of the war and interviews that were shot in live action like you'd get in a documentary, they give us a documentary that does give us interviews and footage (albeit very briefly with the former), but they also use the film as its own story that despite not just telling us the history behind the war, still give us a harsh but clear message about the war, or maybe just war to begin with. It may not seem right to even call this a documentary just because this was animated, which is understandable. Heck, Ari Flman had trouble getting support for the movie to be green lit because people would have trouble finding this idea to work as both a documentary and an animated movie. And if you have trouble accepting it that way, especially if you're into documentary films, I can understand why the fact that it's animated should automatically disqualify it as a documentary in your opinion. But for me and Blaine, and I think most people who have seen this movie agree that it does work. Even if it's mainly not live action like most documentaries, (heck, as far as the film implies, I doubt they could've given us much with live action), it still is telling us a story with the help of interviewing people and other means to bring its audience into the world of its subject matter. And it's written, directed and starred by a man who took part in the things that were happening. And the animation fits very well with what they where doing. It's original, it's very well made, and most importantly it captures and teaches what it was like in that war and what an impact it was bringing to people who where a part of it in a way that it can't be done with live action.
And that's my review for Waltz with Bashir. It's an original, thought out movie that uses its animation to its advantage in a way that helps show its audience what happened there and the impact that it brought on people. If you haven't seen this movie, maybe even if you're not into documentaries, it's worth checking out.
Sunday, July 27, 2014
Plot: Set in 1971, Roger and Carolyn Perron move to an old farmhouse Rhode Island with their five daughters. But after their first night in the house, Carolyn has a strange bruise and their dog Sadie is found dead. A few more mysterious instances occur before they finally decide to get help from paranormal investigators named Ed and Lorraine Warren to find out what is happening and if there needs to be an exorcism.
For what I was getting into despite not really a bit horror fan, I actually ended up enjoying this movie for what it was. I mean yes, the idea of a mysterious house and a family that has just moved to it is nothing new by any means. And to be honest, the reveal of the mystery wasn't anything new either. But for what was happening, they still made it interesting. Despite using a bunch of basically old fashioned scares, they were structured and times well enough that they were still effective. And what especially helps is that the characters themselves are interesting. Granted, not all of them are developed well enough that they stand out, I mean there's only half the the daughters had something particularly distinct about them that I can think of off the top of my head. But even with that said, they were still interesting enough that I was rooting for them and hoping that they were all going to be okay in the end. And they also gave us a lot of focus on the investigators who also have some conflicts going on with their lives that you want to see them come out of which is something new. Well...maybe there is a horror films where characters similar to Ed and Lorraine where there's something like that (I'm just speculating at this point since - again- I'm not that into Horror, leastways not if this particular style for that matter), but even if it has been done before, I don't know that, and they still are likable enough that I want to see them be able to figure things out. I think the only nitpick I can think of for this movie was the lack of focus on the daughters individually. Because again, only about half of them had anything distinct about them, and I think the youngest one was the only one that had enough focus in terms of just medium close-ups or just close-ups to be recognizable by appearance while the rest...just weren't. Granted, the focus is really meant more on the parents and the investigators and they are more interesting, I get that. But I still feel like they could've done a tad more on that. But again, that's a total nitpick and nothing else.
And that's my review for The Conjuring. It may have a familiar kind of story, but they make work with well structured and timed scares, and more importantly, a lot of characters that are likable enough that you do genuinely want to see them pull through from what is happening to them. If you haven't seen this movie and are looking for a few scares, I'd say give this one a shot.
Sunday, July 20, 2014
Plot: In 1987, Minneapolis car salesman Jerry Lundegaard who is desperate for money hires a couple of guys named Carl and Gaear to kidnap his wife and hold her ransom for $80,000 to his wealthy father-in-law and boss, Wade. So Carl and Gaear succed in kidnapping Jerry's wife, but along the way to their hideout, they are pulled over and are forced to kill the cop that stopped them and two teenagers that just happened to be driving by. This brings to the attention of a 7 month pregnant local police chief named Marge to investigate the murders and find the culprits.
So did I find this movie to be as great as it has been claimed? To quote Marge, "Oh yeah, you betcha!" This film knows that it's a dark comedy and it plays it off very well. It's full of blood and murder and has some sad moments, but it also has some twisted yet quirky comedy with a story that -when you think about Jerry's situation - is both tragic and yet can be seen as a little funny. And a lot of it comes from its cast that all give great performances. I mean you have Steve Buscemi who pretty much speaks for himself and William H. Macy who also has some memorable moments, but by far, the best performance bar none is Frances McDormand as Marge. She is the one that really makes this movie. I was finding this movie to be all well and good with everything else, but from the moment Marge's out there just doing her job and talking to her fellow officers, that's when this started to be a great movie. Just the way she talks and interacts with all of the other characters just makes it so delightful whenever she's on screen. Whether she's on the job or doing something else, she's just taking everything in a optimistic chipper attitude that you can't help but just like instantly. It's also very likable how smart she is, I mean she's a local cop who is 7 months pregnant and yet for the most part is just figuring things out with ease. And thinking in hindsight, I agree with Doug Walker when he talked about this character in his top 10 favorite characters when he talks about how she takes pleasure in the simple things in life and how she defends what is right to the point where she eventually has to explain that what the other characters are doing is wrong. McDormand won best actress for this performance and Marge is ranked # 33 in AFI's list of top heroes. And after seeing this film, I can easily say that it doesn't surprise me in the slightest.
And that's my review for Fargo. It's a great film that delivers with its violence and dark comedy with a great cast which includes a tremendous performance from Frances McDormand as Marge. If you haven't seen this movie yet, I definitely say check it out. You won't be disappointed.
Plot: After rescuing his rival Mauser in China, The Expendables start to relax once more for a job well done. But Ross finds himself forced to take another mission from the CIA operative Mr. Church, to retrieve an item from a downed airplane in Albania. But when they get there, things get out of hand as they encounter international criminal and arms dealer Jean Vilain who takes the item for himself and kills a young Expendable named Billy. So The Expendables are off to get the item back while also wanting revenge for their friends death.
Now once again we have a movie where it's meant to be just a bunch of action with a ton of action stars with a story that we shouldn't really care about just like the first movie... except it's done a million, bajillion, kabillion times better. This movie delivered what I wanted to get from the first movie and it delivers it big time. Not only do we have sooooooooo many more action scenes than the first movie, but when they do give us those scenes, they're not just big, they're epic. Just the first scenes of the movie alone proves it - not just with all the big guns, explosions, and all that great stuff, but also with these big tanks, a chase in a river, and just so many bad guys to kill in various ways. On top of that, not only do we get more actions stars, but they take advantage of all of them. We even finally see Bruce Wills and Arnold Schwarzenegger join in the fighting, and we also get Chuck Norris in this movie. I mean I'm more familiar with this guy's reputation than his work, but when I saw him in the climax, he was pretty awesome. And while the characters in of themselves are in no way memorable (as expected) we still got a lot more time with the other Expendables both in action and in down time. And while there's nothing too memorable about the down time moments, it's very clear that the writers put a lot more effort into it so that there would be an enjoyable amount of charm (so to speak) when they're just hanging around and talking. Now does that mean that there aren't any cheesy moments? Of coarse not! There are more than plenty of moments where the dialogue is plain stupid. But what makes it work compared to the first film is that they know that it's bad and yet they still decide to have fun with it. I mean I don't know about you guys, but I'm especially fond of when they made references to their own movies - particularly Schwarzenegger and Willis. And once again, it's the big fight at the end that's the best part of the movie. But this time we have everyone joining in the fight with their own guns and such and it goes on for a while and it's just a ton. of. fun. Ultimately, that's the main word I would use to describe this movie: fun. This film just learns from the mistakes that the first film had, and for the most part just goes all in with their concept, and when they do it's just a whole bunch of delightful, mindless, epic, fun.
And that's my review for The Expendables 2. It's still not a movie to watch if you actually wanted thought out characters or story for whatever reason. But nevertheless, its giving us a whole bunch of action stars in one big action movie just like the first movie, but with more stars, less focus on dialogue and story - but is still more thought out when it does - and more action that is bigger, more epic, and just a whole ton of fun to watch. If the first movie didn't quite reach that point for you like it didn't do for me, this is the movie that makes up for it big time. Now we just have less than a month to find out if the third movie can somehow be just as good if not maybe but possibly not likely better than this... seriously, I hope it turn out good and all but...man the climax in this movie is just... how are they honestly going to top that at all?
Plot: Graeme and Clive are two British are two comic book enthusiasts who come to America to to Comic-Con in San Diego and then travel through the country visit sites of UFO sightings. Along the way they come across an alien named Paul who is on the run from the US secret service and is trying to find a way back home. So Graeme and Clive agree to help Paul try to get home while also being chased by the secret service.
So how does Paul turn out? It's not exactly Simon Pegg and Nick Frost's best work, but that doesn't mean it's bad. While the idea of an alien wanting to go home or some agency trying to get it and things like that are nothing new, it does have some likable characters and some nice jokes. Pegg and Frost once again give us a likable duo as this time they're a couple of nerds that are trying to help this alien. Maybe because I'm basically a nerd myself, but just how nerdy they are from the way they talk about stuff or in some scenes speak Klingon just makes them easily likable for me. Paul himself is okay, though at times it feels weird that it's an alien voiced by Seth Rogen. I get that it's a comedy and so it makes sense to use a guy like him to voice Paul, but... I don't know when you consider the mere look of Paul, him having a voice like Rogen's seems a little off. The rest of the cast is also pretty likable with actors like Jason Bateman, Jane Lynch, and of coarse, Sigourney Weaver as "The Big Guy." And again, there are some decent funny moments too. I think the funniest moments for me where some of the scenes with the rednecks. There are some problems with the film however. I think the main one is that the film is a little uneven. There are some moments where you're not sure something is meant to be funny or serious. The biggest ones for me is when one of the supporting characters is caught in an explosion and another dies. I won't give away who or how, but what makes those moments uneven are the face that these characters were made to be funny in a certain style, and the way they where defeated and/or killed was more or less tasteless, which I don't think that's what they were trying to do. Another big example for me, which is also my biggest problem with the film is how they started to discuss religion and the universe and things like that. Now sure, that is a little too easy for me to say as a Christian and so not be okay with that, but even with that said, it does take us away from the comedy that this movie is focusing on. Jeremy Jahns more or less feels the same way, stating how the film was acting rather preachy against Christianity as if the writer had an agenda or something.
And that's my review for Paul. It has it's moments of being uneven with things like getting rid of some characters or acting a bit preachy against Christianity, but otherwise, it's a nice film with okay comedy, a good cast, and some likable performances. It's not the best Pegg and Frost has to offer, but it's not bad.
Wednesday, July 16, 2014
Plot: The Expendables are a group of mercenaries who are lead by Barney Ross. Ross gets a job from a man named Mr. Church who wants him and his team to overthrow a dictator named General Garza in Vilena. So the mission is on with The Expendables going off to fight Garza with the help of Garza's daughter Sandra.
Now let me start of with pointing out that this movie clearly is meant to be made just for the big mindless action with a whole bunch of action stars. So naturally I watched this movie expecting to just enjoy the action and try to not even bother with the story like I often do. The result...was almost in no way as enjoyable as I would have liked. For a movie that is meant to be just for the action and nothing else, it seemed to bother with its so-claimed stories and characters a lot more than it bothered to give us the action. All I really remembered from watching this movie was Sylvester Stallone talking to Bruce Willis and Arnold Schwarzenegger in one scene, then a whole bunch of him talking to Mickey Rourke, some of the action, some forced betrayal thing between Stallone and one of the Expendables...and that's kind of it. I remember some other bits, but every time I think about this particular film, all I really remember is little bits of the action, and mainly just Stallone talking to someone. Maybe they were trying to go with giving us at least something of a story so that it's not too much of the action or something... key word there being maybe. And that idea would be somewhat fine with if it wasn't so dull, and hallow, and lazy and altogether boring! I mean you could be drunk and yet be capable of writing a more entertaining screenplay than this. The closest thing that interested me in terms of what was happening in the movie that wasn't the big action was the character, Christmas' brief storyline about him and his girlfriend, but after that, nothing. It was just a hallow script with hallow characters, a bland reason to go after the antagonists who have a very cliched reason to be evil, a forced relationship between Ross and Sandra, a forced betrayal story line, that are all in little to no way interesting. And I know it's stupid to talk about all of that in a movie where focusing on any of the story or characters is pointless, but I'm only talking so much about it in this review because they put so much of it in this movie. And what's worse is that even with the mindless action, they barely take any advantage of what they can do with it using these stars. The majority of the Expendables group are basically sidelined in just appearances alone between the beginning and the end, and any other action star that's not and Expendable (Rourke, Schwarzenegger and Willis) are mostly there to just...talk. I mean for heaven sakes what's the point of putting Schwarzenegger and Willis in a movie that's made to be just a group of action stars in a big mindless action film if they're not even joining the fight? As for the action itself, the majority of it was just forgettable with the exception of the climax. The climax is where things got interesting with the Expendables just killing a bunch of bad guys with guns, explosives, machetes and so on. It was an enjoyable big climax and I was glad to have finally gotten to it when I did watching the movie.
And that's my review for The Expendables. It's made to be just for the mindless action with a bunch of action stars, and so I watched it with Blaine expecting to enjoy the movie for bringing me just that. But what I found instead was a movie that gave us more of it's very hallow story and characters, a lack of taking advantage of certain cast members, and only some action that took until the climax to be entertaining in any way. If you can enjoy the movie as it is anyway, good for you and please continue to do so. But to me, this was a disappointment that generally failed almost miserably in really using the content it has. Now The Expendables 2 on the other hand...stay tuned for that review.
Wednesday, July 9, 2014
Plot: Gary King is a middle-aged alcoholic who regrets the time he failed to complete The Golden Mile with his old school friends where they do a pub crawl in the 12 pubs in their hometown Newton Haven, ending with the last pub, The World's End. So he tricks his old friends, who all have moved on and have their own jobs and/or have families, into coming back into Newton Haven to try to succeed where they failed all those years ago. But Gary's plan becomes a little more difficult when he and his friends start to notice some strange changes in their old hometown.
So what did I think about the final installment to this franchise that so many people seemed to instantly love? It's... not as good as the other two movies, but that in no way keeps it from being good. In fact, I was rather pleased with how it turned out when giving us a very different story and kinds of characters, particularity with Simon Pegg and Nick Frost. With Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz, the difference between their characters in a generalized sense was kind of the same. Pegg's character was the more realistic or serious character as Shaun and Angel, and Frost was more the (for lack of better terms) immature or more laid back character as Ed and Danny. But here it's reversed with Frost's character, Andy is the more serious one because he moved on from Newton Haven like the rest of Gary's friends, whereas Pegg's character, Gary can't let go of the past, and so is the one that's more immature and/or laid back. And Pegg is very enjoyable as Gary King. Jeremy Jahns pointed out that this is a very different role for Pegg to play and...yeah I would agree with that. I may only know him mainly from the first two films, Paul and the Star Trek films, but I think I know enough of him to know that yes, this is very different from what he normally plays. And he does such a good job with this role, and I may go so far as to agree with Jahns in saying that this may be his best role that he's done because it's so different and he pulls it off so well. Nick Frost does a good job as the more serious one out of the two of them, but he's kind of downplayed. In fact, one of the kind of downs I have this movie when comparing it to the other two films is that we don't really get a whole lot of just Pegg and Frost together. This is of coarse understandable seeing is how you have Gary and Andy and their other old school friends to focus on which is all fine and good - I'm especially fond of Martin Freeman getting a much bigger role in one of these films, since he's starting to grow on me as an actor because of the Hobbit films and the Sherlock series - but the main focus on these films is supposedly suppose to be just Pegg and Frost, and we don't really get that until the last half hour or so. But maybe they meant it as just another way of making this film different from the other two films, and that's fine too. Anyway, the story is also very interesting just with what Gary's goal in the whole film is alone. I mean I really like how The World's End is actually this pub that he's trying to get to on this pub crawl, it was just so different from what I expected. And this film also has a big reveal about halfway through the movie. I won't give it away, but let's just basically say that, like Hot Fuzz, the reveal as to who or what is behind what is happening unique. So for all the the reasons why to like this movie, what keeps me from liking it as much as the other two? Well... surprisingly the comedy didn't do a whole lot for me. Now that in no way means that I didn't laugh at all, I want to make that clear, it give give me some funny moments. But I guess they just didn't make me laugh as much or where as memorable as the comedy in the other two films. But that's probably me comparing it too much to the rest of the trilogy based on what how I expected this movie to be like.
And that's my review for The World's End. The comedy, while there, may not be as big for me as it is for other people, but all in all, this film is a good final installment. It gave us different characters, it gave us a different story, it gave us different performances from Pegg and Frost, and they do it all very well. I think this movie is the weakest of the trilogy, but it's not weak enough to keep it from still being very enjoyable. If you haven't seen it, definitely give it a try and take it for what it's worth.
Plot: Nicholas Angel is a skilled and dedicated police officer who is transferred from London to a small quiet town called Sanford. He eventually befriends his new partner Danny who is the son of the Chief Inspector of the town, but things get uneasy when people are getting killed by co-claimed accidents. Angel believes that the accidents are actually murders, but no one believes him, so it's up to him and Danny to try to find out what is happening.
I think it's okay to say that if you couldn't enjoy Shaun of the Dead because of how it hit the horror genre pretty well, this movie should be more comfortable to watch. This time we have Edgar Wright, Simon Pegg and Nick Frost take on the buddy cop genre which gives us a more likable movie. Now when I say that, I'm not going back on the praises I gave Shaun of the Dead, I want to make that clear. But I also understand if people who aren't into horror films can't get into the movie even with it's comedy that helps balance things out. Now with this movie, we are tackling the genre of buddy cob movies, which is more inviting to the general audience and gives us a more fun experience. And that's pretty much what this movie gives. The characters are very likable - Pegg and Frost give us more great performances as Angel and Danny - the story gets more and more exciting as it progresses, and when we get the actions, it's a whole bunch of fun to watch. As for the comedy, I think Doug Walker probably says it best how there's so many jokes that there's a lot that you don't get the first or second or third time around. While I don't exactly notice a new joke every time I watch this movie, there are a couple that I easily did not notice the first time I watched it. Heck, when I was watching this movie so I could review it, I noticed how this classic joke in the big reveal is quietly put in a lot of times long before there was even the first death. And just like Shaun of the Dead, a lot of the jokes are very memorable and they are very well acted by the cast. I won't give away the big reveal, but let's just say that not only does it give us a lot of jokes, but it also makes the premise very unique and helps make the big climax all the more fun. If there was anything that I would imagine would still make people uneasy about watching this movie, it would be that some of the deaths along with how one of the antagonists is defeated are done rather gruesome. But other than that, there really isn't a whole lot to disturb you with like with Shaun of the Dead.
And that's my review for Hot Fuzz. It's a brilliant take on the buddy cop genre with great humor, fun action, memorable characters, and a unique story that makes Hot Fuzz a fun, funny, clever, exciting and action packed movie to easily enjoy. If having any problems with the brief particularly gruesome moments are all that I can think of that would be wrong with this movie, than all I can say is that if you have not seen this movie, I recommend it.