Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Brave (2012)

Written by: Mark Andrews, Brenda Chapman
Directed by: Mark Andrews, Brenda Chapman
Starring Kelly Macdonald, Billy Connolly & Emma Thompson

This was a good movie for kids.

Kelly Macdonald does a wonderful job as the voice of the main character Merida. Voice acting is more difficult then one would think considering your expressing feelings through your voice alone and no other actors to play off of. Billy Connolly, voice of her father, and Emma Thompson, voice of her mother, both do wonderful jobs as well.

The animation is new, very new. The red curly hair on Merida head is amazingly animated to mimic real hair movement.  Each scene is masterpiece for digital hair bounce technology. Merida is a wild young prince who bucks off her responsibilities and her hair matches her personality.

What this film is missing is the usual wink or nudge Pixar usually incorporates into their films. Usually there is a grown up joke folded into each story that adults can enjoy alone with their children who the film is primarily geared for. For example: in WALL-E we see hundreds of lazy humans who are fat and lazy polluting their own living space, in ‘Toy Story’ we had countless innuendos between Woody and Little Bow Peep, and in ‘A Bug’s Life’ we got a direct nod from kurosawa’s film ‘Seven Samurai.’

Kids will love this movie; adults may find it fun but lose interest quickly. Having said that it might speak to a female population of movie goers more then the male population of movie goers. I imagine it has a stronger connection because of the subject matter being the relationship between mother and daughter primarily.

No rating. The movie is very heartfelt and ends well. It’s just not a masterpiece. 

The Five Year Engagement (2012)

Written by: Jason Segal, Nicholas Stoller
Directed By: Nicholas Stoller
Starring: Jason Segal, Emily Blunt, Chris Pratt, & Alison Brie

If you’re a romantic at heart, (meaning a relationship sap) this movie is for you.

Jason Segel is always playing the role of the soft cuddly sweetheart who is a big bear of emotional sensitivity. In this film he plays his character to the T. its almost painful to watch such a sweet man get so taken advantage of. Emily Blunt plays his over achieving, career oriented girlfriend who in some ways dominates their relationship. Chris Pratt and Alison Brie co-star and are a wonderful juxtaposition relationship.

The film is a comedy and dances on the line of being tragic and comical. Segels character is obviously going though a lot of pain and the ongoing joke quickly turns tragic as he bends over backwards for the woman he loves. On the other hand, watching a relationship go though this on film is actually somewhat therapeutic and relatable as it is not an uncommon situation for couples to go though.

Ultimately the film ends well and the characters are revitalized for their hard ships and long journey. The film is light, for the most part, and has lots of jokes and silly humor to enjoy.

Top 5. It’s the best comedy in awhile to come out of Hollywood. Defiantly a must see if you enjoy romantic comedy. 

Monday, July 30, 2012

The Amazing Spiderman (2012)

Written: By James Vanderbilt, Alvin Sargent
Directed: By Marc Webb
Starring: Emma Stone, Andrew Garfield & Martin Sheen

Anything with amazing in the title is doomed to fall short but this new revamped Spiderman movie is pretty good. The main character Andrew Garfield, known for his roll in ‘The Social Network,’ does a good job as being an angry, sad teenager who lost his parents.

The film has a strong beginning developing Peter Parker’s back-story and building his character. The film dedicates a large part of the film to setting up who Spiderman really is and why he does what he does. This is a great start.

Unfortunately the movie quickly falls apart after that. Spider bites and mysterious serums turn the ordinary characters we have connected with in the first half, into extraordinary hero’s and villains in the second half. Normally this would be ok but the motivation of these characters suddenly goes straight out the window. The audience is left with a bunch of CGI scenes and shameful rhetoric.

What may keep your attention is the wonderful and talented Emma Stone. She plays Gwen, Spiderman’s love interest. Her cuteness resonates in every scene she’s in.  She has such star quality that the character blossoms into a wonderful balance of realistic emotion. Martin Sheen also has a stunning performance as Uncle Ben. Sheen is a true veteran of the film industry and brings his best to the table.

Bottom five. This film had potential but swiftly falls on its face. If you enjoyed the comic books you’ll enjoy the film. 

Sunday, July 29, 2012

The Dark Night Rises (2012)

Written By: Christopher Nolan, Jonathan Nolan
Directed By Christopher Nolan
Starring: Christian Bale, Michael Caine and Gary Oldman

Christian Bale is The Batman.

But in this film we see an ageing Batman struggling to find meaning in his life. Losing the woman he loved in the previous film ‘The Dark Knight,’ was devastating and his story must come to an end.

In this film Bruce Wayne struggles with the very desire to be The Batman. Alfred fears that if Bruce Wayne becomes The Batman again he will be killed from lack of ambition. At this point in the story ark the world has turned on batman and what he does next has come into question.

The story is well done. Everything fits with the characters and the strength of each scene holds it’s own. The characters from the previous films stay true to their motivations and ultimately the film runs smoothly. Gary Oldman, Michael Caine, Anne Hathaway and Joseph Gordon-Levitt all give great performances in this final episode.

This is the final segment in a three-part story of the Batman Saga. Christopher Nolan, a long time batman fan, does a great job of bringing a human face to the caped crusader. And this story must end and end well. As expected, Nolan brings everything to a close with a bang and the whole story is resolved in its final moments.

Top 5. I liked it. And I’m a big fan of Christopher Nolan. 

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Moonrise Kingdom (2012)

Written By: Wes Anderson, Roman Coppola
Directed by: Wes Anderson
Starring: Jared Gilman, Kara Hayward & Bruce Willis

What’s not to love about ‘Rushmore,’ ‘The Royal Tenenbaums’ & ‘Bottle Rocket’??? The truth about Wes Anderson is that he is a gifted and prolific filmmaker. His vision is unique, special and in other words inspiring. His direction and story arc is blossoming in each movie he does.

Having said this, Moonrise Kingdom is a strange one. The boy and girl, Kara Hayward & Jared Gilman, are incredibly well suited to play their roles as exocentric, gifted children. There is a scene in the film were the two run off and camp at a beach claming it for their own. This scene is incredibly uncomfortable, given that they are in their underwear, but the films awkwardness turns to heartfelt moments of clarity and innocence.

Nothing is off about this movie… except the story line. For some reason the audience doesn’t truly connect with the characters. Something is lost in the translation of children living as adults as apposed to adults living as children, which is the base of so many of his early films.

The painful part of this review is that the movie is wonderful. It’s Imaginative, clairvoyant, and downright fun. Possibly Anderson’s best cast yet with Bruce Willis, Bill Murray, Edward Norton, Frances McDormand, Harvey Keitel, Jason Schwartzman all doing an amazing job at cultivating the quirky reality Anderson so desires. Everything about this film is amazing and yet the audience seems a little distant from the plot.

No rating. Good movie but something about the ending didn’t stick.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Savages (2012)

Written by: Shane Salerno, Don Winslow
Directed by: Oliver Stone
Starring Blake Lively, John Travolta, Selma Hayek, & Benicio Del Toro

JFK, Any Given Sunday, & The Doors are all great movies that we should all be thankful for. Oliver Stone has an amazing way of bringing great subjects to the silver screen. But he also does some strange movies that don’t seem to make sense.

The film Savages is one of those movies that is great to watch. It’s fun, exciting, hard to follow at times, excellent in its portrait of the stoner culture and iconic free spirit. But it’s also a movie that has no real message. You are left with very little but the experience of what you just went through.

It’s an enjoyable movie. If you’re a supporter of marijuana then this movie will dazzle your interests. But for the most part this movie will leave you wanting some kind of moral or message that is not delivered.

Selma Heyak is amazing. Beautiful as ever, if not more so, she wields her looks and female strength with veracity as the south American drug cartel leader / queen. Benicio Del Toro roll as Heyak’s thug-man who does her bidding. His performance is as creepy as ever and he has quite a bit of believability harkening back to his Fear and Loathing days. The three main characters Blake Lively, Taylor Kitsch, & Aaron Johnson are all nothing characters with little to offer. They add and second question of Oliver Stone’s mindset in casting them.

The story ark is good and very exciting. The cinematography is wonderfully clean and pure. There is lots of great work being done on the production end of things but the film itself lacks something.

No rating. Not great but its entertaining. You won’t be disappointed but you will be missing out on life lessons. It’s a movie you will watch and enjoy and then forget about in a week or so.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Ted (2012)

Written by Seth MacFarlane
Directed by Seth MacFarlane
Starring Mila Kunis, Mark Wahlberg & Seth MacFarlane

Set it Boston Massachusetts, about a 35 year old boy who loves his teddy bear, the thought is; how could this go wrong? Well according to most critics the movie is a wonderful raunchy comedy about sex, drugs, and Flash Gordon.

The teddy bear, MacFarlane's voice, comes to life because of a wish the boy makes at a young age and the teddy bear becomes his best friend. The funny thing about Ted, the teddy bear, is that his character develops and grows older along with Wahlberg’s character. This is kind of a running joke throughout the movie. It’s a joke about how a teddy bear can be so crude and discussing.

Mark Wahlberg and Mila Kunis both do a great job at acting their roles and are very convincing. The teddy bear is very cute and also very devilish in that his role in the movie is tempting Walburgs character. tempting to do what you ask?... Smoke more weed and drink and party like he is still 18 years old. ‘The desire to never grow up’ plays a big roll in this film and works quite well.

The cinematography is very classic and unobtrusive, the sets are well layered and clean. The hair in this movie, on the other hand, is all wrong. Wahlberg’s hair looks like he is still living in the 70s and Kunis doesn’t really have her normal shine… although she is still stunningly beautiful like always.

The problem with his movie is you, the audience, aren’t rooting for anyone. Ted is an evil influence, Wahlberg is a child who keeps making bad decisions, and Kunis is a manipulating aggressive girlfriend. Who should get what they want? none of them!

No rating. Its not terrible but its not compelling or refined. The jokes are funny but a movie like 'The 5-Year Engagement' has more laughs and more heart felt moments. 

Monday, July 2, 2012

Prometheus (2012)

Written by: Jon Spaihts, Damon Lindelof
Directed by: Ridley Scott
Starring: Noomi Rapace, Logan Marshall-Green & Michael Fassbender

This movie is as good as the first alien… as in, nothing is really explained, but everything is Sci-Fi-tastic.

This film should be seen in the movie theatres. It’s packed with a lot of excitement and plenty of disgusting alien gore. If you see it in 3D it's a plus although the technology of 3D is still in its infancy. As long as you go into this movie not expecting to much, you won't be disappointed.

Now, what’s missing in this one. Well, Ridley Scott directs a great movie about alians and the origin of human existence but he missed some key pieces. Charlize Theron, is in this movie but it isn't clear why. She is the commander of the ship but has no real roll in the film. What this film is missing is motivation. The aliens don’t have it, the characters don’t have it, and unfortunately the camera moves don’t have it. All that is there is a bunch of scary moments and mood music.

All in all, this one is fun to go see.

No rating. If you have a spare night with a couple dollars in your pocket and nothing to do… Go for it. 

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter (2012)

Written by: Seth Grahame-Smith
Directed by: Timur Bekmambetov
Starring: Benjamin Walker, Rufus Sewell and Dominic Cooper

This movie was kinda good.

The cinematography is dreamlike. Every moment of this film is perfectly framed and perfectly lit. You will be amazed at how clean and soothing the colors are in this film. Even the CGI graphics looks picture perfect. So this film wont disappoint in that regard.

If you read the book first then you might really enjoy this movie. Benjamin Walker as Lincoln does a good job portraying the hero of the civil war. Walker  looks regal as he shows off his axe / ninja skills and wears a top hat all at the same time. In a word this movie is fun and kinda bad ass… and kinda stupid.

Ultimately this story makes somewhat of a joke of the civil war and of slavery. The story tries to be historically accurate while completely rewriting history. Basically, in the story, vampires are responsible for the southern rebellion and are portrait as the only slave owners. The issue of slavery is not something to embellish or demonized with vampirism… even though it would be nice to blame vampires for this horrific part of our nations history.

But if you can get past that political correctness, the movie is very enjoyable.

No rating. See it if you liked the book