Monday, August 18, 2014

The Expendables 3 (2014)

I just got back from seeing this movie, so let's take a look at the last anticipated movie of summer 2014: The Expendables 3.

Plot: After Ross and some of the more constant Expendables rescued an old member named Doctor Death, they head out to take out a deadly arms dealer, only to find out that the dealer named Stonebanks, is a co-creator of the Expendables who betrayed them years ago and was thought to be dead. Things go sour in trying to take him down when a fellow Expendable named Caesar is severely wounded while Stonebanks escapes. Back in the U.S., Ross decides to fire the rest of the Expendables so that they can live their lives, and so hire new, younger people to take their places to try to take down Stonebanks.

Well I stated how I was bored to sleep with the first film while having a ton of fun with the second one. But on my conclusion paragraph on my review for the second one, I stated that while I hoped this movie would be good, I had my doubts, particularly with how they were going to top the climax from the second film. And the plain answer to that is...they don' fact they take a few steps backwards. Is it as bad as the first movie?, it was more interesting than that movie for what it was worth, but we still were given a lot less. This one kind of sort of gives us a mixture of how much balance between action and down time. So where the first movie had way too much down time and the second movie had the right balance, this movie had a little more down time while still giving us more action than that movie. And even when the down time is there, it was still a little interesting. I mean you had introducing the new, young Expendables...even if it was really just the woman that was interesting while the rest of them were easily forgettable, you had this whole conflict between Ross and the old Expendables that is silly and predicable but kind of likable, and the moments when Ross is interacting with Kelsay Grammer as Bonaparte or Harrison Ford as Drummer weren't half bad...or at least were a crap ton more interesting than Ross just yammering with Mickey Rorke's character in the first movie. (Sorry for bringing that up again, that just really killed that movie for me.) Then there's the two biggest highlights of the film: Antonio Banderas and Mel Gibson. They were the most fun parts of the movie. For Banderas...he was admittingly annoying in a couple of scenes and on one occasion really weird, but for the most part, he was the one that actually made me chuckle during this film. And Gibson was even more fun as the villain. In fact, he is easily the most interesting villain in the entire trilogy. The character himself was as silly and stupid as generic villains come - basically to the point of a Bond villain - but Gibson seemed to have decide to have fun with it, and so he was pretty fun for me. But besides the two ups and the couple of half-ups I just gave, the film just. Wasn't. Fun. If you just want to seem to just shooting people and all that, fine. But really, that's as big as the film really got. The second film was practically imaginative with how it had all these different kinds of fights, chases, guns, tanks, and all these things that made a darn good amount of the Expendables themselves stand out in terms of how they fight or what kind of weapons they have. They knew they had to go as big as possible or go home. And in the end, it wasn't just fun, it was an epic amount of fun. Here, they didn't even really try to go any bigger. The closest thing to different from just guns and machetes in this film was mainly motorcycles, tanks and a couple of helicopters. I saw this movie with Blaine, and he personally blames this whole thing on the director, Patrick Hughes. And while I don't know if that's true for a fact, there's no denying that whoever you really have to blame, the director, Stallone, or whoever, there's no denying that the person who is to blame, really failed to think big enough.

And that's my review for The Expendables 3. While I don't hate it like the first movie, and it does have some nice elements like Banderas and Gibson, it still came out as slightly entertaining, but mostly lacking in terms of just having fun and trying (in any way) to be any bigger than the second film. Not the worst, but it's not the best. So if you still just want to see the cast kill a bunch of people, you'll still get it, but if you want that in a way that makes it a ton of fun to the point where it's epic...just stick with the second movie.   

Rating: 40%

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Sleepy Hallow (1999)

Next among the films Blaine has showed me is on that I've been thinking of watching for a while but never really got around to it: Tim Burton's Sleepy Hallow

Plot: Ichabod Crane is a police officer in New York who is sent to the small town of Sleepy Hollow to attempt to solve the mystery behind the murders that have occurred in the town. The people of Sleepy Hallow believe that the murder is a undead being called the Headless Horseman because the victims are beheaded with their heads missing. Crane dismisses their claims, but as the investigation goes on, he begins to learn that there's more to what is happening to the town than they let on, and that the legend of the Headless Horseman might me real.

So while I would say that this is a nice movie and I am glad that I finally got to see it thanks to Blaine, there are moments that...feel a little off. But I'm getting ahead of myself, so let's once again, start talking about what's good about the movie. First off, there's the casting. Sure it is common now for Burton to have a pretty large cast nowadays, but that doesn't make this one less enjoyable. Here you have some of the people Burton commonly casts like Christopher Lee, Michael Gough, Jeffrey Jones and of coarse Johny Deep as Ichabod Crane. But then you have people that are not so common, such as Ian McDiamid, Michael Gambon, Richard Griffiths, and especially Christopher Walken as the Headless Horseman. The most notable are probably Johnny Depp and Christopher Walken. Depp gives us Ichabod as this police man who relies on science rather than this superstitious schoolteacher. He also makes Ichabod turn out a little more goofy, but at the same time Depp makes it work. I can't say for sure how similar he is to the original character, occupation aside, having never read it myself, but from what I understand from the Nostalgia Chick's review for this movie, he actually does keep a lot of the character's characteristics. His all around quirky charm is nothing new to me, but to be fair, this was made before Burton and Depp made it more common for him to give that kind of performance. Now Christopher Walken on the other hand... is probably the most interesting and unexpected thing for me to find watching this film. I watched this movie not knowing who was going to play the character, and Chistopher Walken turning out to be the guy doing it was not what I had in mind. But while he's not even in the movie for very long, he does make The Headless Horseman appear more psychotic in a way that just makes the character interesting. Another thing I like is the story. Now I know they changed it a lot from the short story with it being a mystery and, again, things like Ichabod being a police officer instead of a school teacher. But for what this film had instead, I got into well enough that it kept me interested in knowing how the mystery was going to be solved. I think the biggest compliment people have for the film that I can agree with is its art direction and it's effects. Granted, some of the effects do look pretty fake by today's standards, but there's still some parts that hold up such as the CGI for the collar of the Headless Horseman on top of making him really headless. And the art direction does look very nice, particularly on how they make it looks like a real town from the very later 18th century. So what do I not like about the movie? Well while I don't know if I would call these problems I have with the films really bad per say, there are some elements to the film where it's makes the film come out a little off. First off, there are some moments where the film just feels like it's just giving us the same stuff from almost any other Tim Burton film like eyes popping out of this witch or the obviously fake blood and stuff like that. And I get that this is his style. Blaine didn't hesitate to point of how stuff like this shown how artistic he is, and that's fine. But for me personally, what made most of this film work - in the same way that Sweeney Todd worked - was how it was being artistic, but doing so in it's own world. So it was a little hard to focus on the film sometimes when it had things such as eyes popping out of the witch or even this scarecrow that was basically the one from the beginning of Nightmare Before Christmas. But again, this is pretty much my opinion, so if you enjoy that anyway like Blaine does, that's fine. But the other problem that I had with the film was the third act when we get all the answers. I wont ruin it for anyone who hasn't seen this film, but in my opinion, it was kind of underwhelming, particularly with The Headless Horseman.

And that's my review for Sleepy Hallow. I have my own personal problems with the result of the mystery and moments that make it a little to obvious that it's a Tim Burton film. But even then, I still think it was a nice film that had an interesting cast, nice designs, some CGI effects that holds up, and a nice story that is so different from the original tale. If you're a big fan of Burton's work like Blaine is, you'll probably like this fine. If you aren't, I still thing this is movie to see at least once for all the strange but interesting and artistic stuff Burton puts into it. Take it for what it is, and see for yourself. 

Rating: 70%

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Let the Right One In (2008)

Alright, back to stuff Blaine has showed me. So this next one I thought was some horror movie that had horrid reviews...and that wasn't the case, so let's talk about what it really was.

Plot: Oskar is a 12 year old boy who lives with his mother in the suburb of Blackeberg in 1981. He lives a meek life of being bullied in school and occasionally living with his father in the countryside, but then one night, he meets a pale girl named Eli who just moved next door to him along with an older man. Oskar and Eli begin to form a friendship, but things get a little complicated when several murders and disappearances occur that lead to the possibility that there's a vampire in the town.

So was this the bad horror that I thought I was going to see? *snickers* Not even close. What came out of seeing this film is actually a smart, clever story that involves vampires that is extremely well made. The characters are likable and very well acted, especially the child actors. Oskar and Eli are very well performed, and the friendship - later turned romance - between them is very likable. The romance especially is different in that it's preteens (even though it does come of as a little uncomfortable because of that aspect) and while they do almost nothing physical (which is a good thing because, again, the aspect is somewhat uncomfortable), what they have is clear and it works, and like any good romance, they comes off likable enough that you are rooting for them and that things will turn out between them. The movie is also much smarter with bringing us vampires. There's no CGI or anything to it, it's mainly effects and makeup that come off very realistic. And they only show us a reasonable amount of vampires acting like vampires where you get enough of what vampires too, but no so much that it's all showing the effects rather than giving us the story and the characters. And whenever they do give us these elements of vampires, it appears as if it's something new as if we've never seen this before event though most of us probably have. 

And that's my review for Let the Right One In. It's an intelligent movie that focuses on it's strong, well acted characters and story, while still giving us vampires in a way that reasonably placed with clever use of effects and makeup. If you haven't seen this movie, it's definitely one worth looking into.

Rating: 95%

Saturday, August 2, 2014

The Wind Rises (2013)

Yes! At long last I ( or should I say Candra) finally found this movie in English so we could finally see it! I practically thought this day was never going to come. But enough of my blabbering, let's dive into my review of Hayao Miyazaki's final film before he sadly retired: The Wind Rises.

Plot: The film starts off with Jiro as a young Japanese boy who is influenced by a dream about him and the famous Italian aircraft designer Caproni, to become a plane designer and to make great, beautiful planes. Over time, Jiro becomes a very innovative and accomplished airplane designer. Meanwhile, he reunites with a woman named Nahoko who he helped get to safety during the 1923 Great Kanto earthquake and they start to fall in love.

Alright so this is it. The final film of one of the greatest writer/directors in all of animation. And how was it? Well, it may not be his greatest masterpiece, but that in no way stops it from giving us a great, albeit bittersweet and generally different final film to end this legacy he has created. The Wind Rises gives us what is actually a highly fictionalized biography of Chief Engineer Jiro Horikoshi with another element that Miyazaki adds based on a 1936-7 novel called The Wind has Risen. What comes out is arguably Miyazaki's most realistic and mature movie while still giving us some beautiful, artistic animation despite not really having any actual fantasy elements to it like his other films. And it's a shame that there is no fantasy to this film because the majority of his work was surrounded with fantasy. His most creative work came from films that had fantasy to them like Howl's Moving Castle, Spirited Away, Princess Mononoke and Kiki's Delivery Service. So some people like me and Candra find it a bummer that he didn't go with making one last film like that for the end of his career. But I personally would make the slim argument that he did manage to try to have a little bit of mystical moments with Jiro's dreams of him and Caproni and especially the sound mixing with things like the Great Kanto earthquake. But I digress. Whatever you would've liked to have put in Miyzaki's final The Wind Rises delivers in giving us another well made animated film regardless with a story that is uniquely structured, great animation, likable characters, beautiful musical score, and a cute romance between the main characters. If there are any real problems with this movie that's not a matter of just comparing it to the rest of Miyazaki's work, it would be that the pacing during most of the first half of the movie is very slow. Most of it is just Jiro trying to figure out the designs for his and going to Germany or getting assigned to some big project and what not. And while it's not terrible per say, it did leave Candra asking me if it was starting to become boring while we were watching the movie and...yeah it kind of was. Another is part of the relationship between Jiro and Nahoko where them falling in love kind of came out of the blue. That's not to say that it was love at first sight or anything, they did have some scenes together even after the earthquake. But at the same time, the development to their relationship was so oddly formed that once they're saying that they deeply love each other and want to get married, it felt like it just came out of nowhere. But again, it wasn't so badly done that there wasn't any chemistry seen between them even before that, and even after they confessed their love, their relationship officially came out as one of the most likable and interesting things during the second half of the movie. Are they as lovable as Howl and Sophie, Sheeta and Pazu, Seiji and Shizuko or Soske and Ponyo? No. But that in no way stopped them from still coming out as Miyazaki's last, cute, romantic couple for fans and non-fans alike to root for. They still have problems that they're facing and try to help each other out and have special moments with each other just the way the love our couples from his films, even if their story is much more mature than the rest of them.

And that's my review for The Wind Rises. It's not the best of Miyazaki's work, but it still gives us one final great film from him with it's uniquely structured story, beautiful animation and music, likable characters and a cute romance. It does drag a little and the romance came little out of nowhere, but at the end of the day, it's a great, mature final film for Miyazaki to give us before he sadly retires. It saddens me and Candra along with many other people that he's done, but his career shall be long remembered from giving us some of the greatest films of animation and/or film in general, and for that, all I think any of us can say is farewell Hayao Miyazaki, and thank you.      

Rating: 80%

Friday, August 1, 2014

Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)

Alright folks, this is one of the most highly anticipated movies of the year. Let's pray that it's used to our advantage so that it will get a higher box office than Transformers: Age of Extinction, so that we may sleep better at night.

Plot:The movie revolves around a thief named Star Lord, an assassin named Gamora, two bounty hunters named Rocket and Groot, and a killer named Drax. Star-Lord finds this mysterious orb that everyone wants to get their hands on, while he and the rest of the gang are trying to sell it. But a Kree named Ronan the Accuser begins to chase them with the intent of taking the orb and to use whatever is in it to destroy the galaxy.

This...was part just as good and part better than I thought it was going to be. Granted, it's no The Dark Knight or Captain America: The Winter Soldier as far as comic book movies go, but from the kind of premise and characters they had - especially considering it's based on a comic series and characters almost nobody knew about, they did a pretty darn good job with it. The characters were particularly handled better than I thought. They each had their own distinct characteristics about them that made them not only likeable, but really memorable. And that's a rather impressive accomplishment to say that since, again, almost nobody knows about these guys, and they're introducing them from this film instead of each of them getting their own movie first like The Avengers. Star-Lord - as I expected - was a ton of fun to watch whether he was fighting or being funny. He was basically one of the Han Solo characters in the film. I say ONE of the Han Solo characters because we have two that fit that description, and the second might be more likable; Rocket. I personally hoped that Rocket would be enjoyable considering his personality and...well, the fact that he's a talking raccoon in a sci-fi film and all that, and he was better than I hoped. He was fun, he was funny, he was awesome in the fight scenes, he even had some dramatic moments and the CGI for him was great. He looked so realistic from his fur to his fangs, and had very well thought out movements and facial expressions. And as skeptical as I was at first, Bradley Cooper delivered the voice acting for Rocket surprisingly well for both the comedic and even the dramatic moments. I would probably go so far as to agree with Jeremy Jahns when he stated that Rocket stole the show in this movie. Groot was basically the Chewbacca to Rocket's Han Solo in that how he's tall and doesn't say much but is awesome when they're fighting. But I like how he also came out funny and and have some sort of sweet side to him. Gamora also had some fun fight scenes and some deep dramatic moments. Though personally I really wished they actually showed her past when she was telling it. I feel this way for all of the characters that just talked about the past instead of showing it, but I feel it should've especially happened with Gamora because...well... this is the adopted daughter of Thanos that we're talking about. Showing what he did that made her who she is should not only develop her character more, but also strengthen this atmosphere that indicates how big of a threat Thanos is. The same goes for Drax. I feel he could've been fleshed out more with us actually seeing what made him what he is, and so he kind of came off as the least interesting member of the group. Which is not to say that he wasn't likable just like the rest of the group. Far from it. But sadly I found myself being more interested in Star Lord, Gamora, Groot and Rocket then I was for Drax, which is a bummer. But again, he's still likable, and the five characters as a group play each other perfectly. Their relationships are likable, and the comedy and drama between them worked out very well. And I really enjoyed how much more of the Marvel universe we got to see. We have a teeny tiny bit of Thanos, we have The Collector, heck, we even have an army of Sakaarans, which was awesome. And while it was not the main focus of the story, (which is a good thing for the movie just by itself), we started to go into more of what's to come in the future Marvel movies. On top of that, the galaxy itself was pretty nice to see. The aliens had fantastic makeup, the places they went to looked great, and the mere designs for a lot of the ships looked very new and artistic. What I mean by that is that they could've gone pretty generic when it comes to how they look and what they do, especially considering that this film is a means for the bigger picture. And In some cases they do, but then you have little elements like the movement in the Ronan's ship and this thing that the Nova Corps fleet does to try to stop his ship that, without going into detail, came out as something new and inventive. If there's one thing that would really come close to a genuine negative thing, it would be the same problem Thor: The Dark World had; that being the villain, Ronan The Accuser. Now that's not to say that we was just as one dimensional as Malekith. I want to make that clear. He was more fleshed out and interesting. But at the same time, if you know enough about the Marvel universe - whether you read the comics or not - you know that we also have Thanos to worry about, and so that kind of makes Ronan appear less of a threat. But again, for what they had for the story himself, he was interesting and fleshed out enough for this story by itself.

And that's my review for Guardians of the Galaxy. It was fun, it was funny, it was dramatic, it was inventive, it expanded more of the Marvel universe, and above all, it gave as a group of characters that practically none of us know about, and make them very likable and memorable. Is it the greatest thing Marvel has made yet? No. But on it's own, it's a very enjoyable film to watch. If you have not seen it yet, head to the nearest movie theater and do so. 

Rating: 90%