Tag Archive: 2012

the-hobbit_2409864kThe Lord of the Rings films were magical and fun. The extended editions added everything a geek wanted. The films somehow danced the line between geeks and regular audience members. Could Peter Jackson do it again with the Hobbit? Well this will probably be debated for a while, for geeks or Tolkien fans they will love this movie but for regular joe audience members the movie may lag since it doesn’t have the punch of the LOTR movies.

We follow Bilbo Baggins who is telling his story after the events of LOTR so we get a brief appearance from Frodo(Elijah Wood). We then follow a young Bilbo Baggins(Martin Freeman) who after running into Gandalf(Ian McKellen) is basically forced into an adventure. The story is not very deep from here. Basically a very greedy dragon destroyed the homeland of the Dwarves so he can have all their gold. A group of Dwarves team up with Gandalf and Bilbo to return to their homeland and take it back from the dragon. Problem is on their journey they find themselves hunted by Orcs and other nasty things.

The movie is beautiful, digital work is perfect and the sets seem like art work. The actors are all great as well, the stand out for me was Martin Freeman who is so charming as Bilbo you can’t help but cheer him on. When he looses the group and meets Smeagol/Gollum(Andy Serkis) and have a match of riddles. This scene is a classic and wouldn’t have worked without Freeman.

The major problem for the movie is pacing, when Peter Jackson announced the Hobbit would be split into three films to match the LOTR I think most people expected the movies to be a little bloated. Well the Hobbit slows down so many times you’ll find yourself glancing at your watch. The best way to watch this movie is to sit back and enjoy the adventure because the plot spins around for a while. You forget half way through that the goal for the group is to chase down and fight a dragon.

I do suggest watching the LOTR before catching this movie, a lot of it plays to those films. We see Frodo, the ring and many characters talk about a rising evil, Gandalf himself admits towards the end of the movie that the dragon they are going after isn’t even the most evil thing out there. These movies will be about the adventure leading up to the war between good and evil, if you sit back and remember that then you should enjoy yourself during the Hobbit.

Rating: 7/10

Movie Review: Life of Pi

We follow a young Indian boy named Pi(Suraj Sharma) whose family zoo in India has to close down and move to Canada. While transporting the animals over seas, the boat is capsized, Pi finds himself on a life boat trapped with a Bengal Tiger named Richard Parker. The two battle at first but learn they need each other to survive. Based off the novel by Yann Martel and directed by Ang Lee the film is close to a master piece.

First off the plot of the film alone should be marveled at because can you imagine pitching this to Hollywood suits: “It’s an Indian boy stuck on a boat with a Tiger, oh yeah and the movie is really spiritual”. I’m amazed the film even exists. The film is done mainly as a flash back as SPOILER ALERT…. Adult Pi is telling his story to an author. The movie all around is a visual treat, many scenes look like something from a dream. The one thing is it’s very obvious of the constant use of CGI in the film. Still the Tiger which is a mix of the real thing and CGI is amazing. You connect to Richard Parker quickly. The tiger gains that name due mainly to a paper work mix up.

The movie relies on its main actor who is outstanding. Imagine trying opposite of a tiger or just the idea of a tiger because Richard Parker was mainly CGI. We also get Irrfan Khan playing an older Pi who hits a grand slam towards the end acting wise and I hope he gets some supporting actor nominations.

Ang Lee is the real stand out here, his films are hit and miss mainly. For me though the man is an artist. Brokeback Mountain got focused on for its gay lead characters but the movie is a classic and is beyond perfect. Lee almost does it here, for me though there are some CGI moments that took me out of the film. I understand everything isn’t possible to look real but some moments with other animals besides Richard Parker just don’t look great. Still the ship wreck is visually stunning and the film is very good and family friendly too.

Rating: 9/10

Movie Review: Lincoln

When people think of Lincoln these days they remember the book and movie about him fighting vampires. Otherwise they think of his murder, or that he simply ended slavery, one thing many people don’t think about or even mention is how great a politician he was. If you plan on seeing Lincoln for epic Civil War battles you will let down. The film opens with a battle but that’s mainly it. The film starts with Lincoln’s second term in office. The war is dying down and Lincoln(Daniel Day-Lewis) suddenly must try and pass an amendment to abolish slavery through a House of Representatives filled with detractors.

This movie is easily the best American political film that has been made in over ten years. We see how Lincoln used operatives to try and talk lame duck Representatives into turning to his side. For Lincoln ending slavery was such an American ideal he was going to use every loop hole in the system to make it happen. The script is beyond impressive, written by Tony Kushner, the film is obviously his baby. A lot of time and heart went into the script and it makes the movie shine with a beautiful light. It’s been a while since a movie has come out where you can see why America is such a beautiful place.

Now when a movie is mainly centered around dialogue it’s key for your actors to bring it. Well no worries there, everyone is at there best here. Sally Field plays Mary Todd and it’s one of her best roles in decades, you can feel her pain in almost every scene. She plays off of Daniel Day Lewis perfectly. We also get a wave of stand out supporting cast- David Strathairn, Jackie Earle Haley, Lee Pace. Other stand outs are Tommy Lee Jones who I thought was done acting after MIB3. Jared Harris plays Ulysses S. Grant to perfection. James Spader really stands out and brings a lot of laughs as well.

Of course Daniel Day Lewis is the real stand out here. His performance seems so personal, which I guess makes sense. He doesn’t play Lincoln as a loud man, he is wrapped in blankets for about one third of the movie. His voice is not booming, mostly smooth and soft until he really needs to be heard. He will obviously be nominated for best actor in every award show this year, he deserves it. I just hope that people don’t over look the performance because many will go “Of course he’ll get nominated for Lincoln” and then think it’s too easy to vote for him. Right now Lewis deserves to win every award possible.

The last piece of course is Spielberg, who in my eyes has recently made a strong and amazing come back. The fourth Indiana Jones was beyond silly and a mess. Since then his movies to me have been classics. War Horse and this are perfect movies in my eyes. He allows the actors here to do their thing, the movie feels like a play in many ways. It’s powerful stuff and if you don’t feel something at the end of this film you need to check your heart.

Rating: 10/10

Now the reboot of Spider-man titled “Amazing Spider-man” was pretty terrible. They got a lot more wrong than right. Only the actors kept the thing afloat. Problem is they pitched the movie to the right group(teens) and the movie made some cash, far less than the previous three films before it but whatever. Rumors have been tossed around wildly about what the plot was going to be. Now if Foxx will play Electro that confuses things a little bit. I thought for sure the Green Goblin would be the villain but I guess not. Now they have kind of an open slate with this film, the reboot needed to start over again and essentially showed us stuff we’ve already seen, they just did it badly. They then ruined a famous villain in the Lizard. Thankfully Electro isn’t really a classic baddie, he can be changed and used in any way they like. Foxx is a great actor and him playing a villain sounds like a lot of fun, problem is he’s so likable, he’ll need to be extra bad for an audience to care more about the wise cracking Spider-man than him.

I’m a big fan of these movies and not afraid to say so. The first film is classic… Sorry if you disagree but the movie works in so many ways and was made on such a low budget. The sequel I think added onto the story and moved things in the right direction. The third film sadly kind of took a step backward, loved the VHS filming, and it hands down had the best scares and visual moments of the franchise. Problem is the ending basically showing us that a cult was helping the demon with its plans was so generic and boring. Sadly Paranormal Activity 4 had to follow with this and what we get is a not so scary movie that had to add on a story element that I think was a bad move from the start.

Here we follow a 15 year old named Alex(Kathryn Newton) who we follow mainly through her lap top conversations with her friend/boy friend. When her family takes in a neighbor boy whose mother is in the hospital things go from normal to shitty very fast. Now I will say this, the actors are really strong here. I had never seen this actress before, but she is great and I think has a career ahead of her. Problem is the movie doesn’t make any sense.

The franchises cannon has basically been this: A paranormal force terrorizes a person to possess them. This happens when someone in your family makes a deal for money or anything with the demon. The deal is the demon gets to have the next male born into the family. So in the first film we see the demon take over a girl named Katie. The sequel explained why it happened. The third film showed us the demon has been haunting the family since Katie and her sister were little girls. It also showed us a cult was trying to help this demon with its goal. So the fourth film shows us basically the boy Hunter being prepared to be taken by the demon. So why would the paranormal force then haunt the family in this film? This is never explained and frankly makes no sense.

The movie doesn’t have a lot of scares, the one’s we are shown we’ve seen before. People getting pulled by an invisible force. Katie standing in door ways. Bumps and creeks heard in the dark. Unlike the third film that tried new things and scared the shit out of you, this movie seems more focused on pushing its limp storyline about the cult preparing the demons take over of Hunter than setting up scares. It seems like they felt that having two creepy little boys in the movie would be enough for audiences, it wasn’t.

Also something I found rather annoying was the heavy amount of product placement in the movie. Xbox gets major moments throughout and I noticed a lot of Pepsi. That is a minor complaint but still. I know they will continue this franchise but they need to expand on the cannon and focus more on the scares. The worst moment of the film comes at the end…. SPOILER… We basically see that everyone in the “cult” have been possessed like Katie from the first film. The final shot is of about twenty to thirty people with creepy faces. This is hands down one of the worst decisions I’ve seen in a while. It brings up too many questions for the viewers… If demons can possess that many people at once, why not just take over the world? Is it one demon possessing them all or multiple demons? If so why? If they bring this up in the fifth movie I’ll be happy… But they won’t. As a fan and defender of this franchise this movie left me simply shaking my head instead of shaking in my boots.

Rating: 4/10

I only recently have started reading some of James Patterson’s Alex Cross novels. They are pretty decent, I love the short chapters it makes the books fly by. The two movies based off his books which starred Morgan Freeman as Alex Cross were both “alright” at best. Kiss the Girls had moments and Along Came a Spider had a solid ending but most of the movie was average. So this reboot of the franchise seemed like the right approach, problem is they hired the wrong director for the material and then aiming for a PG-13 rating simply drives this movie into the ground. The bright side is the actors in this movie try so hard they almost save it from being a disaster, the key word though is almost.

The plot follows Alex Cross who is a Detroit detective. We open watching him and his team track down a rapist. Here is the problem, from the start of this movie they approach it as an action film, or at best a high budget episode of Criminal Minds. Tyler Perry who we’re used to seeing in drag is playing Cross here. He is strong here, very believable and his demeanor is like a big teddy bear and so you almost instantly are rooting for Cross. We treated very quickly to meeting Cross’s family, he has two kids, a grand mother and a pregnant wife. His family is so big though we never really get to know them at all. Which I guess is fine since the films focus isn’t really on them.

Matthew Fox known mainly from the show Lost shows up here as one of the craziest assassins we’ve seen in a long time. His performance is so great that it almost saves the entire movie. You can tell he enjoyed himself with the over the top dialogue. His character has a simple goal, kill three rich people. When Alex Cross gets in his way, he takes it personally and goes after him and his team.

So we’ve gone over the good stuff, ┬ánow for the rest of it, the film is a mess, directed by Rob Cohen who decided to make the film look like any CBS cop show. The movie never really knows if it’s a dark cop movie, or an action movie. The films rating also hurts it, if the violence was allowed to be a little more hard core I think there would have brought a lot more weight to it. SPOILERS!!!…. Okay… You ready? So this movie feels pretty generic up until one moment. The villain goes after Alex Cross personally, he does this by torturing a female detective to death and then moments later shooting and killing Cross’s pregnant wife. I was so taken back by this, what a dramatic move for such a generic movie. Problem is Cohen still played it like a TV movie and the moment doesn’t hit as hard as it should.

So the movie isn’t a dark cop movie. So I guess it’s an action film… Well if that’s the case it’s a terrible action movie. A show down between Matthew Fox and Cross is so badly filmed I had no idea what was happening. Again the rating really hut this movie big time. Nothing had any weight too it. Even though there are violent concepts and lead characters are murdered, I never really felt it. Everything comes off bland and simple.

Patterson’s books are dark and filled with minor twists. This film has no flow and never do they really show Alex Cross being a cop. He basically magically figures out what the bad guy is doing. It’s just too generic, this was not the way to approach making an Alex Cross movie. Make it dark, allow the twists from the book to stay. I feel like all of the blame is on Rob Cohen here, with the performance we’re given the film should have worked, and yet when it’s over, you just shrug it off because nothing really sticks. It’s a shame because Alex Cross should work as a franchise, I think Tyler Perry is perfect for him, yet with this failure we might have to wait another five or so years before a good swing at it is taken.

Rating: 4/10

Movie Review: Taken 2

Do you remember the film Taken? Here is a quick over view: Liam Neeson plays an ex-special forces guy whose daughter takes a trip with a friend to Paris. Sadly she and her friend are kidnapped by some guys and sold into sex slavery. Liam Neeson puts the pieces together to find his daughter and slaughters everyone who stands in his way. The movie was dark, action packed, and frankly a classic. It also made a lot of money in theaters world wide and even more in DVD sales and downloads. So of course a sequel was coming…

Here is the thing, they could have done anything, options were really endless when it came to the sequel. What we get as viewers is the laziest action movie I’ve seen in a long time. The film starts off with Liam Neeson freaking out about his daughter missing her third driving lesson. Okay already I had problems with this because when he finds his daughter(Maggie Grace) she seems to have gotten over what happened in the first film. Now when I watched Taken I assume she had been sexually assaulted and pumped with drugs before being sold off. To have her in the sequel just acting like a high school chick with no problems minus wanting to hang out with her boy friend simply annoyed me. Anyway the film jump starts quick as Neeson takes a job to lead a security effort in Istanbul. His ex-wife and daughter surprise him with a visit. Problem is the fathers and brothers of the men Neeson killed in the first film are coming after him for revenge. I’m not kidding, that’s it, the villains are just simply out for revenge.

The movie doesn’t really attempt at all to do anything with its characters. Neeson and his ex-wife are ambushed and “taken”. The twist being his daughter is the one to avoid being captured. Problem is there are so many stupid scenes that will leave you scratching your head. Neeson is surrounded by armed gun men, yet they allow him to have a like five minute conversation with his daughter on the phone. Later when Neeson is restrained, they leave him in the room alone long enough for him to call her AGAIN! They could have had anything happen here and they chose the stuff we would see in 1970’s Bond movies where the bad guys leave the hero alone for no reason what so ever just so he can escape.

The action is all based off of stupidity. Neeson escapes(of course) and kills like everyone in the building. He leaves his ex-wife behind while he goes on the killing spree. While he’s away two men come and pull her into a van. So Neeson then has to go after them. He reconnects with his daughter and even though she was confident she didn’t even want a driver license she somehow drives a Turkish taxi like Ryan Gosling in “Drive”.

When it comes to the epic conclusion. It is merely Neeson backing the bad guys into a bath house. He fights one in a hand to hand combat scene, there is no weight here. No fun. In Indiana Jones movies we know Indy is going to win, he gets his face punched in and always finds a way to beat the bad guy, the thing is that the fight is always fun or exciting. Neeson fighting some huge Albanian is just by the numbers, no imagination in it. When he finishes the guy off I’m not even sure how he did it. The villains are so boring and also so easily defeated that the movie has absolutely no weight to it. In the first movie the bad guys are disgusting, they abduct girls to be raped to death essentially. These guys are a bunch of older Albanians wanting “revenge”.

The film is too by the numbers from start to finish. Nothing daring or brutal about it. What is really amazing is that the action doesn’t even stand out. It’s all something we’ve seen before. The only good thing about it is how great an action star Neeson is, and how good Maggie Grace was. In the first film all she had to do was scream and looked drugged. Here she has a lot more to do and she pulls it off. I would have enjoyed a movie about her and her father teaming up without the ex-wife getting kidnapped story. This really was a let down.

Rating: 2/10

Movie Review: Looper

In the future where time travel exists but it is only used by criminals, a hitman from a crime syndicate is hired to kill people from the future. Problem is that the crime lords in the future of course don’t want witnesses. So when your job is finished you must kill your future self, that way you close the loop. So these killers are called Loopers, get it?

This review will be really simple and I’ll try and not spoil anything too much. Anything can happen though so I will give this warning… SPOILERS! This film is one of the strongest science fiction films to come out in a long time. Hell it is one of the strongest films to come out this decade. I like it so much because time travel can be a tricky thing to work with but this film just gives an explanation and allows the audience to either buy it or not. Sure there are elements from other films like Terminator but this movie dives so deeply into directions you won’t expect that it caught be my surprise.

Acting wise the film brings the goods. Joseph Gordon Levitt brings it almost anytime he’s on screen but this is his best performance to date. He allowed make up use to change his face to make his look a little closer to Bruce Willis. Speaking of him this is his best work in a long time. Willis is a tortured sole and is brutal, he’s not really a hero at all in this film and it really caught me off guard. Emily Blunt shows up late in the film but I barely recognized her. Her accent is gone and she instantly made me believe she was an out doors farmer girl.

The film is beautiful and a scary look at the future. Nothing is very pretty, I believe we see Kansas City in 2044 and essentially everyone looks to be in a depression. Criminals high roll around the city on hover bikes and carry around high powered pistols and shot guns. The film isn’t as action oriented as the trailers would make you believe, don’t get me wrong there is a decent amount of gun play. The film does slow down several times though, which I enjoyed. My only complaint about the movie is there is a kid that shows up later on and is an important plot point. This child is freaky and speaks like an adult, I hate this in movies and I really disliked it here. Still that wasn’t enough for me to toss away how much in love I was with the rest of the film.

I avoided speaking about the plot and a lot of details for a reason, I kept myself in the dark when seeing this. I was blown away and I feel like you should go through this same experience. See it in the theaters. It’s a movie you’ll either love or hate but will love to discuss this I promise you.

Rating: 9/10

I thought Clint Eastwood was done acting and was ready for a new career of talking to chairs. Guess I was wrong because here he is playing a grumpy(go figure) man who all he has ever known is baseball. He’s a scout for the Atlanta Braves. His eye sight is starting to go and the organization is beginning to think time has passed him by and maybe the game has changed so much it’s time for him to move on. That’s when his daughter Mickey(Amy Adams) comes into the picture. Their relationship has been cold at best, when she finds out about his eye sight, she decides to put her career as a top notch lawyer aside to go on a road trip with him scouting a top high school prospect. Along the way they meet a young scout for the Red Sox named Johnny(Justin Timberlake) who helps Mickey wake up from her funk and possibly fall in love…

This movie is pretty thin, it’s basically the anti-Moneyball. It has a lot of old school baseball in it. Problem is when baseball isn’t the focus the movie drifts into basic formula type film. The only thing the movie has going for it is the leads. Amy Adams is a great actress, this can really not be debated anymore. She’s dominated multiple type of roles. Here she is woman covering up her pain with angst and work. Her dialogue with Eastwood is the best part, the father/daughter connection works here. If it wasn’t for the obvious talent and chemistry between her and Timberlake the love story in the film wouldn’t work at all.

With that all being said the film flip flops between being fun and being overly corny. Eastwood leans heavily on being the out of touch old guy. Half way through the film the little jokes towards his age get old. The film also takes a lot of liberties when it comes to the baseball aspects of the film. After following a talented but obnoxious high school super star, they magically find a Mexican kid who can pitch like Sandy Koufax, no joke they say this in the film. It’s hard to believe a kid with that much talent wouldn’t be noticed. It really felt as if they thought the crowd seeing this movie would be only interested in the love story or Eastwood, so it treats the baseball aspect carefully. Moneyball never treated the audience like it didn’t understand the game, this film mentions elements of the game but doesn’t dive into it at all. I would have rather had a lower budget film just following a baseball scout whose eyes are failing him.

The film is a fine date film and a solid movie to take your parents to, otherwise it’s not exactly a perfect piece to see it in theaters. Really it’s major highlight is Clint Eastwood, he and Adams are so good you’ll have a hard time disliking their scenes together. As a baseball movie though it fails over all.

Rating: 6/10

Movie Review: Dredd

Based off the fantastic comic book we follow Judge Dredd(Karl Urban), a future version of a police officer who is judge, jury and executioner all in one. In this said future most of the planet has been destroyed by nuclear war. In America the last city left standing is Mega City One. Here people live in slum like high rises that fit almost a million people. In one of these buildings a drug lord named Mama(Lena Headey) is mass producing a new drug named “slo-mo” which for the viewer literally puts everything is slow motion. When Mama murders three men(she has them skinned and thrown from a top floor of the building) Judge Dredd and a rookie under his watch with a nifty telepathic power named Judge Anderson(Olivia Thirlby) show up. Not wanting her operation shut down Mama locks and seals the building and then puts a price on the Judge’s heads. Every gang member or scum bag with a gun comes after them and Dredd and Anderson must fight their way up to the top to find Mama.

I wouldn’t call this movie a reboot, there was a movie called Judge Dredd in 1995 starring Slyvester Stallone, and even though that movie has its moments it’s pretty lame over all. This movie on the other hand isn’t messing around and stays real close to the source material. Karl Urban seems like the perfect Dredd and I must give him serious props for keeping his helmet on for the entire movie. Most actors agents would flip out over this but Urban understands that’s what the fans of Dredd want and he delivered. Urban plays Dredd with a hard edge, he does not blink at killing bag guys and is all about bringing the law to those who deserve it. Olivia Thirlby is really strong here as she has to counter balance Dredd. Her character Anderson blinks many times in the face of violence and doesn’t exactly play by the book that the Judges all abide by. She is really strong in moments where her powers are put into play, she has to dive into the minds of some seriously sick individuals and we can see this effects her.

Another stand out to me Lena Headey who departs from her usual roles to play a real messed up chick here. I’m not talking about the scars on her face, Mama will do anything for power. She doesn’t blink at death and doesn’t care how many people are killed to get her way. The film also nicely avoids any deep social commentary, since Dredd’s character could be seen a facists wet dream things could get complicated. They never do, at no real point do you ever think Dredd is really out of line. The villians in this movie are so nasty and violent you care very little what happens to them. Even though Anderson does balance out the morality in many scenes that helps us see Dredd as more of a super cop than a killing machine.

The greatest part of Dredd is the use of slow motion, here is the main reason you should see this in 3D it is almost beautiful to witness. Now sure it is used for some serious gore(guys getting shot in the face in slow motion) but the ultra-violence works here. It reminded me of 80’s action movies(You know when studio’s had balls to make bad ass action films). So in many ways Dredd feels like a throw back but with the top notch 3D there is a great added element.

The movie is rather short though running around ninety minutes, I would have loved more and I hope this movie gains a big following. I feel like the effort put in by the creative minds behind this film and Urban makes this deserve a franchise. Would love one or two more Dredd films from these people. They would be action classics.

Rating: 9/10