Wednesday, December 14, 2011


Hugo – 126min – PG

I have not been a fan of 3D movies. They use the 3D technology as a gimmick and not as a part of the composition of the scenes. Hugo is a movie that does the opposite and makes it a component of each scene. This is a great example of how to use 3D as a device to transport the viewer to another place and time. This movie has a mystical setting that lends itself to the magic of filmmaking.

It really took me to places I was not expecting. This story is a homage to the visions of Georges Méliès who was the father of the art of storytelling in film. The Parisian train station setting and the era it took place gives it a feel more like big Broadway stage production. This is a green light film. It is purely and simply magical.

Hugo (Asa Butterfield) is a street orphan who was living with his uncle at a train station in Paris. His Uncle (Ray Winstone) is a drunkard who taught Hugo to do all the work so he could go out and drink. The community of shop keepers at the station all relay on the huge number of clocks around the station.

Hugo has a way with gadgets and is drawn to a toy shop that sells little wind clockwork toys. The shop owner (Ben Kingsley) catches him stealing some parts and threatens to turn Hugo into the authorities unless he works off his debt.

The parts he stole were going to a project of rebuilding a mechanical boy that his father (Jude Law) was working on. The shop keeper has a daughter, Isabelle (Chloë Grace Moretz) who befriends Hugo and together they go on an adventure that is going to affect everyone at the train station.

This is a phrase I never thought I would be saying to my young son, “Hey son, let’s go see a Scorsese film.” When you think kid movie Martin Scorsese is not the name that jumps to the top of the list. But as a master filmmaker there seems to be no genre that he does not excel at.

When I think Scorsese, I think of people getting shot in the face, gangsters, psycos and eccentric airplane designers. With this film I am now completely convinced that this filmmaker can tell any story on film and is not limited to specific themes.

I really liked the parallels with the subject of the movie and how the movie was shot. It focuses on Georges Méliès who said hey this movie thing is great, it would be better if you cut it this way... and proceed to make narrative stories through film. Mr. Scorsese said hey this 3D stuff kind of cool, it would be better if you did it this way…. Both of these visionaries make movies something into something new. There are some really great shots in the film where the scenes envelop you in the setting.

Warning, Spoilers!!! Magicians only click here to see them!!!

The snow and the other scenes that make the environment 3D were the best, I also liked the opening where you are flying through Paris are simply magical. Looking through the android and watching it move and work all at once is so hypnotizing that I could watch those over and over again.

Sacha Baron Cohen the station inspector was not terrible; he was not his usual unsavory character. If he keeps doing roles like this he might one day be considered an actor. To say I have not liked his previous performances is an understatement. But he gives me reason to think that he might actually have some talent. We will have to see what he does next. I am not holding my breath.

Chloë Grace Moretz plays a girl who has only lived through books. She is getting a wide variety of roles under her belt. She has played a pint sized assassin, a vampire an now this. She has so much potential that I see great things from her. I hope she does not fall into that child star syndrome. She could be one of the greats.

What flimmaker has surprised you in either a good or bad way? Who was it and what film made you think wow?!? I did not thing they could do one like that.

Monday, December 5, 2011

J Edgar

J Edgar – 137 min - R

J. Edgar Hoover is a unique historical character that can be easily overlooked. He was credited with developing the FBI and organizing criminal investigations to include forensic investigation. With all of the good things he did for us, he was also a focus of scandal and a prime example of how absolute power corrupts absolutely. He was rumored to have surveillance on many political figures and would use them as blackmail material.

Does the movie, J. Edgar, mirror the facts of his life? I can’t say I don’t know more than what I have read on Wikipedia. Is this an intresting movie? Yes, but from a purely academic standpoint. Clint Eastwood has an eye for making movies with a clear and balanced point of view. This movie is one to see from a historical standpoint. Interesting but not entertaining, this move is a yellow light and I will present my evidence in the following review.

J. Edgar Hoover (Leonardo DiCaprio) grew up with his mother, Anna Marie Hoover (Dame Judi Dench). As an eager new employee at the Department of Justice, he was given the chance to develop the new FBI after his participation in a successful raid on some Communist dissidents. Using this opportuniy he grew his department and his influence. He used his resources to gather information on political figures to use in his “Confidential, Private” files with friend and partner, Associate Director Clyde Tolson (Armie Hammer). There are rumors that they were more than just friends, as the heir of Hoover’s estate some believe that Tolson was his domestic partner.

The story takes us from the past and the future and someplace in the middle while J. Edgar is dictating his story to a number of writers he uses to document the history of the FBI. He tells the revolving scribes about his many high adventures in the FBI, in cluding details of his acts of heroism and the hard work of starting the system we now know today as the FBI.

Most of it was fabricated to make him and his bureau more entertaining to sell some of the comic books he was advisor on. He felt that American youth was in love with the gangsters in the movies and he decided to wage a war of image and made the G-man the new focus in film and media. Unfortunately, it was at the cost of the reality of many of the things he claimed to have done.

Clint Eastwood does make a great picture. He has a great eye for capturing the figures form history that can be easily overlooked. He reminds me of the correspondents on This American Life. They all take ordinary things and make them into an interesting story. This movie looks great but it has a History Channel documentary feel.

The subject of this film has some interesting points but they seem to be overshadowed by the overall creepiness of the man behind the power and his unchecked and corrupt rule of the FBI. Eastwood’s choice of blending the past and the future did not seem to work as well in this film. It was hard to follow where we were at in the story. Is this the past? The present? Is this him reminiscing? Or are we seeing the events unfold?

Spolier Warrning!!! Click here to submit to an FBI Review!!!

DiCaprio does a great job of wearing this persona like a costume. I forgot that it was him at a few points in the film. The age make up did a great job of transforming him through the story. He seems to be very vulnerable when his mother dies. Instead of being free from her tyranny he seems to be completely lost.

Helen Gandy (Naomi Watts) is fiercely loyal secretary and loves him in a familial way. Even up to the end she keeps J. Edgar’s secrets and shreds his personal and confidential files. I wonder it was out of loyalty or out of knowing how dangerous a weapon those files were, or both.

Those files were the only thing that saved him from the winds of political change. I can see where he needed to have them to keep control of his bureau. it also seemed like they became something more than just an insurance policy. They seemed to be a drug he couldn’t give up.

What historical figure should Clint Eastwood focus his next movie on? Who do you find interesting and under publicized?

Monday, November 28, 2011

The Rum Diary

The Rum Diary - 120m – R

Hunter S. Thompson is a writer that I have never really understood. Perhaps he speaks from a different age or perhaps I don’t use enough drugs to really get in touch with his message. This story was probably the most coherent of all of the movies that have been based on his work. This story was his first book but it was not published until later in his life. I really got the sense that this was his first character that received a call to arms to fight against corruption and people who abused power. As a movie it was not bad. I enjoyed seeing the younger version of Thompson; I think he bases his main characters on himself. I look back on it and I was surprised that it was a complete and understandable story. I liked the journey of the character but it did not speak to me as a viewer. This movie receives a yellow light.

Paul Kemp (Johnny Depp) is a new reporter at a small Puerto Rican newspaper. He is getting to know the politics of the island and also the paper. His new boss, Lotterman (Richard Jenkins), has him start out writing the daily horoscopes, but he gets involved with a local businessman by the name of Sanderson (Aaron Eckhart) and his girlfriend Chenault (Amber Heard). They are involved with the power players who are making money exploiting the locals. They want Kemp to write the travel brochures to bring tourists to a new resort they are building. During his stay on the island, he starts to learn how the people are mistreated and makes a choice to stand up to the people who are abusing the privilege they have been given.

The director, Bruce Robinson, does a good job of making the story come to life. He pays homage to Thompson’s book and does a good job of translating it to film. He has a good eye for keeping the focus on the actors, he lets them do their work. His brand of storytelling does not involve flashy tricks but he lets the scene and the actor blend in a natural flow of the individual scenes. When Kemp is exploring the poverty stricken areas of Puerto Rico, the scenes are not heavy with dialog but we see what Kemp is thinking in his reaction to what he sees. The problem with this movie is that the scenes don’t seem to blend together well. The parts are masterfully done but they seem to be blocked together poorly.

Thompson’s work has been hit or miss with readers. Either you love him or hate him: there seems to be no in-between. This is not like the Gonzo journalism of the previous films. This one is more of a story about a young man learning about who he is. This seems like a story of where he got his calling for his style of journalism. I am more interested in reading this story than his other books. This movie does peak my interest in reading more from him. I hope his books are not laced with LSD…

Spoiler Warning!!! Freaks only beyond this point!!! Click here to see them.

One of the best lines in this movie is from Kemp’s drug hallucinations from a lobster. “Human beings are the only creatures on earth that claim a god and the only living thing that behaves like it hasn't got one.” It’s the line that sparks the voice of Ink and rage against the bastards of the world.

This movie leads off with a promise of a drug and alcohol induced romp very much like Thompson’s other films but does not indulge in he over the top and the WTF just happened story telling. I think that some fans of his might feel let down, but this story does not really lend itself to that kind style.

Another great scene is when Kemp’s roommate, Moburg (Giovanni Ribsi), trades his high powered hallucinogens for a quick look at his penis, he calmly asks. “Is it the clap?” Kemp replies, “It’s a standing ovation.” Sick and wrong but it gave me a giggle.

What movie have you been looking forward to and was let down, because it’s just not the same. This Thompson story was one unlike his previous films.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

The Three Musketeers

The Three Musketeers – 110 min - PG13

Take a story that has been done a few times, and add in a new mix of pre steam punk and you have the new Three Musketeers movie. The mix of archaic futuristic technology (I think I made up a term there) and the very stylized fight scenes make this the visual extravaganza that you expect. I was mildly entertained by the CGI shininess but overall this movie left me with a Wild Wild West feeling and that’s not a complement. I wonder what Mr. Dumas would have thought about the result of his work. Could he sue for defamation of character? As much as this story has been redone, just being the eye candy explosion is not enough to make this story worth wile. Other people have done much better with this same story. Red light is the best their cutting wits can muster.

I am sure that everyone is familiar with the story by now. D’Artagnan (Logan Lerman), a young boy with some skill with a blade goes to Paris to join the Musketeers. He runs into Athos (Matthew Macfadyen), Porthos (Ray Stevenson) and Aramis (Luke Evans) and challenges each to a duel. He finds out that he has challenged the famous three Musketeers and is now in a tight spot. Luckily the Cardinal’s (Christoph Waltz) men come and arrest all of them. They join forces and take on the guards and become fast friends. The cast did a good job with what they had to work with and Walz did a great job as the bad guy again.

The main story line is the same but the sub plots are quite different and varied: they uncover a plot by the cardinal to split up the royals; they get revenge on a person from their past; start a war with England. None of these are very interesting and are nothing more than an excuse to use more CGI effects.

Paul W.S. Anderson was the director for this and it is one more in his resume of eye candy blockbuster films. It seems like he feels that a story is that wee little thing that you deliver gratuitous visual effects on. It’s a shame because he does have a good eye for the large effects. He needs to join forces with someone who can tell a good story. Andrew Davies has plenty of writing credits under his name but his touch seems to be absent from this film. Alex Litvak has only two works that I can find so his experience at writing still needs to be explored. I am hoping this is not a representation of his future potential.

Spoiler Warrning!!! Only The Musketeers are welcome here. Click on these words to reveal the spoilers.

It was fun watching some of the theoretical machines of Leonardo Da Vinci. I am a Sci Fi fan so suspension of disbelief is one of my strong suits. It was hard for me really get into the tech aspects of the weapons and air ships. It was fun but only for a bit and not enough to really base a movie on.

The almost super powers of the musketeers were hard for me to enjoy. It seems less like someone who is very skilled with fighting skills and blades and ore like they had superhuman powers. It was almost like a super spy movie than a swashbuckler.

One person who I thought could have done better was Orlando Bloom. I think I did not like him because of his character more than the acting. It was a flat performance -- almost like he was trying to be overly flamboyant. He can do better than this.

What movie would you like to see remade with some eye candy effects?

Monday, November 14, 2011

Tower Heist

Tower Heist – 104min – PG13

I try not to judge a movie before I have seen it but I was sorely unimpressed with the trailers for this film. This movie suffers from poor trailer representation. It was a much better film than the trailers made it out to be. However, that does not mean it was a good film. There was some enjoyment for the ride but it did not deliver on great entertainment. I have mentioned in in the past that I am a science fiction fan so I have a good suspension of disbelief skill, but I had some serious issues with this movie from a plausibility standpoint. It was nice to see some old names back on screen. I just hope they do something better next time. I was expecting to give this movie a red light but I have to move it up to a Yellow.

The story is about Arthur Shaw (Alan Alda), a mastermind of a Ponzi scheme. He has stolen the money of all of his investors; among them is the entire staff of his building. Josh Kovacs (Ben Stiller) the building manager who performs his duty extremely well. Charlie (Casey Affleck) the concierge. The last two people of interest on the staff are one of the maids Odessa (Gabourey Sidibe) and Enrique (Michael Pena) the elevator operator.

Josh decides to get their money back and enlisted help of two other people. Slide (Eddie Murphy), a street wise thief and Mr. Fitzhugh (Matthew Broderick) a former tenant who was fired from his Merrill Lynch job and evicted from the tower.

Together they start to plan a robbery of the nest egg that Mr. Shaw has in his apartment. This unlikely team has asked Slide to teach them how to steal, and the movie takes on a feel of training them to perform the tasks needed to pull off this robbery.

This story has a few twist in it that I did not expect, and some that I do not believe. If it were written better it might have been an excellent film. This was a great idea that was executed poorly. The writers on this all seem to be new and if not new they have a disastrous credit list. The rogues gallery of writers consists of Ted Griffin, Jeff Nathanson, Adam Cooper, Bill Collage. With so many people you would think they could have spotted some of the plot holes in the script. The director (Brett Ratner) has done a few hits in the past but he has also had his share of misses. Perhaps he should stick to producing.

The main problem in this movie is the disjointed ending that seems to be rushed because they ran out of money or time. It’s like they ran out of steam in story telling or realized they wrote themselves into a corner and said ”and they all make it out and everyone was ok, the end”.

Spoiler Warning!!! Employees Only beyond this point.!!!!

The end should have been about everyone at the tower helping the robbery go down after things went sideways. The end just magically happened. What really went down is the better story. The ending was the only reason this movie falls into the yellow light category.

Instead of having Josh pay for the crime to have a failed attempt at a lesson that someone must pay for this act of vigilantism. It should have been just like a heist film and the real bad guy does get his just deserts. If you have a two ton car resting on an elevator you can stretch the disbelief to make a happy ending.

I enjoyed Tea Leoni as Special Agent Claire Denham. Her character was done well and I liked her no nonsense approach to the character. She has always struck me as someone who brings realism to the roles she plays. It’s enjoyable to watch her work. Eddie Murphy on the other hand did nothing memorable for me in the movie. He should have played it more rough edge as opposed to the stereotypical street criminal.

What was your favorite Eddie murphy role and your least favorite? Let’s talk about the ups and downs of his carrier.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Real Steel

Real Steel – 127min – PG13

The trailers made me wonder if I wanted to see a movie based on Rock’Em Sock’Em Robots. My biggest fear was that it was going to be another CGI eye candy extravaganza. Well, I am pleased to say it was not. There is a lot more story than just the robots fighting. The effects were a compliment to the story and not the main reason for the movie. In the near future boxing is taken over by robots. People who once boxed are moved out for people who can use the robots to do the same kind of combat. With the robots doing battle the fights can become a fight to the death only without the death. The story is about a washed up old boxer who is struggling to make a living and also reconnect with his son. This is a green light film.

Charlie Kenton (Hugh Jackman) is an old boxer who has adapted his skill to the robot boxing arena. He is joined by his son Max (Dakota Goyo) who recently lost his mother. Charlie is working out of an old style boxing gym turned robot repair shop run by Bailey (Evangeline Tilly). Together they find out more about each other and learn about themselves.

The best part about the journey is the transformation of Charlie. He starts out as a reprehensible character and one who has lost sight of himself. Through the journey he learns to become a boxer again and also to become a better man. Max is an excellent example of how much our children are like us and how they can reflect all of our best qualities. His drive to be the best and his faith in his robot are unshakable. He has the spirit his father had before life took its toll on him.

This movie has elements of some of the greatest Boxing movies. It has the underdog tenacity of Rocky. The robot Atom is overlooked and thought to be a pushover like the main character in Cinderella Man. It has the father and son connection like in The Champ. It has the violent brutality of open combat like Raging Bull. It’s kind of odd how the violence seems alright when it’s not humans fighting. This movie shows us robots losing limbs, crushed heads, and splattering of coolant, and brutal as it was, it all seems ok when it’s a robot. It was interesting to watch the audience cringe at the boxing scenes just as if they would at human boxing.

The effects were done well, there were no overly campy CGI effects and it all seems to work together well. The film makers infused a spirit into Atom that made you want to cheer for the little guy. This story was predictable in some parts but I am willing to overlook that because of the wonderful character development. Shawn Levy directed this film and has most of his background come for television work. He has done some comedies but I think his most notable for Night at the Museum. He is developing his art from the small screen to the big screen, and is showing progress. Keep it up Mr. Levy.

Spoilers warning!!!! Only members of the WRB beyond this point.!!!!!!

The best scene in the movie for me was when Max and Charlie are at the Zoo and they have just won the first round and max doubles down on the next round. Charlie pleads with Max, “I really need the money”, Max replies” I know, let’s get to work”. Good stuff.

Watching Ricky (Kevin Durand) get his come comeuppance we great, he plays a complete jerk in this film. He seems to do the heavy well, but I liked him as Little John in Robin Hood. He should think about expanding his role options.

Another memorable scene was in the final battle when Atom punks Zeus with that “come on, come on” gesture. That made me laugh out loud, it was a great humanistic gesture that gave the robot more likability.

I thoroughly enjoyed this movie. It was a wonderful ride that needs to be looked at for more than just its cool effects. If you were thinking about seeing this film, please do.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Paranormal Activity 3

Paranormal Activity 3 – 85min-R

This is the third installment of the Paranormal Activity franchise. It’s a prequel of sorts as it fills in more of the backstory of the original film. This movie was originally a one trick pony. The first one had unique premise and it was fine as one movie. This is another example of how an idea can get run into the ground. The few good startling bits were separated by long parts where nothing happened but sleeping and panning. This movie did make me afraid: afraid someone would see me coming out of this movie. For all of its attempts to give us character development, it was not enough to make me interested. This movie scares up a red light.

This movie starts in a confusing manner, they lead off with the footage from the break in aftermath of the second film, Katie (Katie Fetherston) brings some stuff over for her sister, Kristi Ray (Sprague Grayden), to store. In one of the boxes are some VHS tapes and on one of those tapes an explanation to how this all started. The footage on the VHS tape shows us how Kate and Kristi Ray begin this haunting journey. Julie (Lauren Bittner) and live-in boyfriend Dennis (Christopher Nicholas Smith) live together with Julie’s Daughters Katie (Chloe Csengery) eight years old and Kristi Rey (Jessica Tyler Brown) five years old are experiencing a haunting. Dennis is a wedding videographer and captures an odd event after an earthquake. He wants to capture more of the odd things that are going on in the house so he gets more cameras and covers his house completely. We watch through the eyes of the cameras the events that transpired in 1988. One part that I don’t get is the fanatical dedication these characters have for filming every aspect of their lives.

The original was great. It was a very unique idea, like a campfire ghost story, the audience does all the heavy lifting at being scared, however this film is not so interesting to build an entire franchise around. I love the new direction the original took in no sound track and setting the mood without camera tricks. The problem is that when you do the same unique and original idea again it loses its shine the more times you do it. The director (Henry Joost) was following the same formula as the other films. The downside is that the formula really only good once. He paid attention to the styles of the 80’s and the camera technology. I wish he would have paid as much attention to the story. The plot lumbered along in an awkward, choppy manner and was very predictable. There was an odd choice of editing, sometimes they would jump time and sometimes they just sped up time. In the scenes where you have a purpose to speed up time to show an ominous figure watching the main characters sleep is fine. But they did not seem to have the knack of telling what scenes worked like that and what scenes did not. They seemed to just do the edits randomly. The waiting was overly long and the scary parts were quite predictable. Christopher B. Landon wrote this script and his earlier work was better, He wrote Disturbia and as a Rear Window inspired story it was not half bad. He needs to get his edge back.

Spoiler Warning!!!! There Be Ghost of Spoilers here!!!!

The saddest part of the movie is where the girl is playing Bloody Marry in her bathroom. My heart was breaking when she was crying in the corner. I felt really bad for her more than I was scared. Chloe Csengery really made that scene.

I was a bit confused by the start or lead in. It took off from the beginning of the second movie, and took a weird turn from there, leading to the past by indicating that a VHS tape from 1988 has the history of how they started to become haunted. The timeline is a bit muddled. I guess they thought they needed to do it that way to fit into the franchise.

I really don’t have anything more to say about the film other than it should have been left alone from the first installment. What other movies have been overused and should have been left alone?

Monday, October 24, 2011

The Thing (2011)

The Thing (2011) – 103min – R

I’m a big fan of John Carpeneter’s The Thing (1982). A friend introduced it to me and we watched it on TV. It was the first time I noticed how badly swear words were dubbed on network TV. “FRY YOU, PALMER” became our inside joke. The Thing is a prequel to the 1982 movie of the same name. That’s not going to get confusing at all. It was going to be a remake but the studio said no, you can’t touch this classic. So the next best thing is to do a prequel. This movie brings us the events that led up to the classic film. It was a poor effort and fell short on a few important points. I give it a red light.

The prequel’s story starts out with Dr. Sander Halvorson (Ulrich Thomsen) recruiting Kate Lloyd (Mary Elizabeth Winsted), a Columbia graduate, to come to Antarctica and work on a discovery. They tell her nothing except that it’s big and they need an answer right now. A friend of hers, Adam (Eric Christian Olsen), is the doctor’s research assistant and says it’s going to be a chance of a lifetime. She agrees to join them and they take her along. They are flown to the camp by Sam (Joel Edgerton) and Jameson (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje). They land at camp and immediately go to the crash site and pull an alien up from the ice. That synopsis is the end of the original content, sorry for ruining it. The move from this point on is a rehash of the original. It is really a shame that the advancement in effects technology was not better used. The flaws with this move were neither in the performances nor the concept. It was the complete lack of originality. One of the best aspects of the original was the tension in the distrust that all of the characters had. The development of the tension was much better done.

The writer (Eric Heisserer) has done another remake: A Nightmare on Elm Street and a sequel: Final Destination 5. His body of work consists of rehashed ideas. He needs to break away from the stories that may have influenced him in his youth and do something completely original. To provide you a contrast to a good retelling or a new take on the original story listen to this podcast on escape pod. The Things by Peter Watts. This story takes the original in a much better direction than the prequel did. The director (Matthijs van Heijningen Jr.) is also a new player to the industry with very few credits to his name. His attention to detail was sometimes good, but you can see his inexperience in the lack of story development and tired dedication to the jump out and scare you tactics in his film.

Spoiler Warning!!! Humans only beyond this point!!!

I am really just covering these up out of habit; there are no new ideas here and nothing to spoil.

My main continuity gripes from one movie to another are the lack of consistence with the events that happened at the Norwegians base camp. There were some really good details like the axe in the door, the suicide victim frozen. All of those were good. The style of technology on the ship exterior was also done well. It’s a shame that they did not match the body of the merged alien from the original to the body that was made by CGI Effects. Both had two faces in mid merge but why not seamlessly make those faces match from the original to the prequel. Also the block of Ice in the original was defiantly sections out to be put together, why not work in a reason why it looks like that in the prequel.

The prequel also pulled some elements from Alien. This movie has a female character that battles the monster by herself and is stranded, admittedly not in space but in the middle of Antarctica, but makes it out alive. I am guessing that this is from the writers past influences and wants to meld them together. I really hope they stop doing rehashes and start on something original.

I also hated the way that Kate was treated by the doctor, it got to me. Perhaps they put that into the story because it was to make the audience care for her more, I don’t know it just seemed out of place for this kind of movie, the tension should come from humans verses aliens, not a human power struggle.

What movies in your opinion have defined a genre? The Thing (1982), I think, set a standard for horror. What do you think?

Sunday, October 16, 2011

The Way

The Way - 121min – PG13

The title of my blog is a blessing and a curse. I walk up and ask “what is showing next?” I have been told that this will subject me to a lot of bad films, and it has. It is the risk I am willing to take because of the amazing movies that come along and surprise me. It is 12:47am and I am so moved by this film that I can’t go to sleep until my thoughts are out on paper, or computer that is. The Way is a movie that makes all the bad movies worthwhile. It is the reason why I started to write about film. The Way is a small picture, but it has such a powerful presence that it needs to be the model for big budget films. It was filmed with passion and care. It’s a movie that brings you along its journey of self-discovery and invites you to share in the richness of other cultures. This movie has not only earned a green light from me, but it has earned a place among my favorite films.

The movie surrounds Tom (Martin Sheen), who is going overseas to recover the body of his son Daniel (Emilio Estevez), who perished in an accident while traveling the “El Camino de Santiago”. Tom decides to continue his son’s pilgrimage and carry his ashes through the journey. Along the way Tom builds a relationship with Sarah (Deborah Kara Unger), Joost (Yorick van Wageningen), and Jack (James Nesbitt). Everyone who makes the pilgrimage does so for their own very personal reasons. Along the way they learn to share not only the road but each other’s burdens. The characters in this film are completely enjoyable. I found myself caring for each of them. They actors did a great job of showing the development of each of the characters, all of them started the journey with things they needed to work through, and it was great to watch them complete the journey physically and emotionally.

Emilio Estevez is working in a way that few people can accomplish. He was director, writer and stars in this movie. This movie did not feel like it was one person’s voice. It felt more like a move should, with a diverse and natural flow to the story. It is not a story that was being told to you, but an event that you experienced. The film was about people on pilgrimage and it’s a challenge to make that interesting. The Way was edited in such a way as to keep the eye engaged by the different landmarks along its journey. Estevez‘s script has some simple elements to it but like a master chef, he blends them together so that they seem much more complex. This move has many Catholic elements without preaching to you. There was no underlying agenda to its story. It was quite refreshing to see a movie with religious elements but not try to subtlety apply those themes with a sledge hammer.

Warning Spoilers!! Walk this path Carefully!!!

One of the best lines in this movie is when they are in the crazy guy’s house. Tom says his is going to go ask the crazy owner how much it’s going to be to stay and all of them decide to go with him. He asked them, “what are you, five”? Joost replies ”no, just scared”.

I really liked the way that the Gypsies were portrayed in this film. It takes a stab at changing the image that they are all thieves. Antonio Gil played the Father of a young Gypsy. He is one of my favorite characters. Making his son carry the backpack he stole for the person he stole it from was a great touch. He gives a great line. “Our children are the best and worst of us.”

Another person that needs a special mention is Tchéky Karyo. His character starts Tom on his journey and is a wonderful guide to start him off. He asks Tom not to go because he is not ready, and when he realizes that he will not change his mind, he gives him the help he needs to start off.
Another nice part is how drastically Tom has changed at the end of the film. He goes form someone who lives a life as if it was a chain, to someone who is now truly living. I loved seeing him in Cairo (I think) walking along the streets.

Rotten Tomatoes has this list thing where they ask a star what their five favorite movies are, what are yours? This is now in my top five.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The Ides of March

The Ides of March – 101 min – R

I was looking forward to watching The Ides of March. The Trailer makes it look like this decade’s American President. I was looking for a movie that shows a political campaign and the contenders are faced with moral questions and have to choose between what is right and what is popular. It’s a world that has tough choices and the right people make those choices and this movie is going to highlight the difficult journey of those people. Boy was I wrong. This movie was one man’s journey from idealist to jaded politician. I want to be clear, I am giving this a Yellow light because of the films problems with story, and not because I was disappointed at the movie’s true direction.

The story surrounds Stephen Myers (Ryan Gosling), a member of a Governor Mike Morris’s (George Clooney) presidential campaign. He and Paul Zara (Philip Seymour Hoffman) are the campaign managers. They work through a staff of young people who all believe in Morris’s message and his view of the future. Paul Giamatti plays Tom Duffy, campaign manager for Morris’s opponent. Duffy is a shrewd player in the political jungle, bringing a devious political expertise to the story. The race is being covered by reporter Ida (Marisa Tomei), who is outstanding in this role. She really did a great job as a political reporter that keeps her eye on the story. Molly Stearns (Evan Rachel Wood) is a young campaign intern and Stephen’s love interest. Jeffrey Wright plays a Senator who is selling his endorsement for a cabinet posting. They escort us on journey of sacrificing political ideals on the altar of politics. This is not the story of a politician who has to make the right hard choices. It’s more a story of Icarus who flies too close to the sun and falls to earth. As good as each of these performances were, I did not like most of the characters. The only character I mildly liked was Paul, because through this story he was the only one who was consistent. My problem was in this entire movie there are no good guys. There is no one whom you feel for.

This movie was heavy handed and at times overbearing in its political message. Politics is bad. I don’t think that people today really need to be told that. If anything, we could use a message that shows us a different way of doing things. A way that we can point to as an example and say “this is how we should act, this is the standard we need to hold our political figures to.”

George Clooney had a hand in most of the production in this movie. He co-wrote, directed, performed and produced. I would caution anyone who has enough power to do this that having complete control over a production can make it hard to get objective views during the creation of a movie. I am reminded of another George who does everything but perform and his movies have suffered from the lack of creative input from his staff. A movie is not one person’s vision but a collaboration of skills from several talented people to make someone idea come alive. One example of this is some of the dialogue coming from Ryan Gosling sounds like it is coming right out of George Clooney. You can see similar pacing coming from each of the characters. Grant Heslov also helped write this movie and he has some great movies under his belt and I have enjoyed his acting one of my favorites is in True Lies, We need to see him in more movies.

WARNING Spoilers: No Members of the Press Beyond this point.

I was completely angry at Stephen when he was giving his speech to Molly about how if you make a mistake you have to take your lumps and step away. He was right in the same spot not a minute later with Paul telling him he made a mistake. Hypocrite, I am still brisling over that scene.

Jennifer Ehle was completely underused in this film. She was really just a set dressing through the entire picture. She has one touching scene with the Governor in the car but really she was under used in this film. Her performance in Contagion was much better role for her.

Philip Seymour Hoffman steals the movie in one look. He steps out of a dinner, lights up a smoke and then gets called into a car. He sets his cigarette down on a ledge of a brick wall before he gets in and the wind blows it off the ledge. As he gets out of the car just receiving the news he is off the campaign, he looks down at the cigarette that has blown onto the street, it is such a small gesture but it completely symbolizes his disappointment.

What movie presidential candidate would you vote for?

Tuesday, October 11, 2011


Contagion – 106min – PG13

If you are contemplating a germaphobic lifestyle, I would say you need to see this film. It is a recruitment film for the sterile agenda. It is all about the genesis of a disease and how it can wipe out millions of people because of the way we live and how we interact with one another. The movie is well done but an ensemble cast is sometimes hard to watch. I find myself interested in only some of the characters. This story places several characters as interpreters of the main star, the virus. As a concept this movie was great, it was executed well but overall for entertainment value this movie rates only a sickly yellow light.

The cast list is as long as my arm and most of them did really well. But the main star of this movie was MEV-1 virus. This story surrounds how it gets kicked off with one person and then spreads through the population. The evolution of this disease gets told through the eyes of the following characters: the Emhoff family Mitch (Matt Damon) and Beth (Gwyneth Paltrow), their two kids Jory (Anna Jacoby-Heron) and Andrew (Joshua Seiden);Dr. Ellis Cheever (Laurence Fishburne), Dr. Erin Mears (Kate Winslet) and Dr. Ally Hextall (Jennifer Ehle) of the CDC, working towards a cure; Dr. Leonora Orantes (Marion Cotillard) of the WHO who is searching for the origins of the virus; and conspiracy theorist blogger Alan Krumwiede (Jude Law) who sees himself as a messiah. With all of this talent is a shame that the movie was so focused on everyone it did not give us time to really connect with anyone. The main failing of this film is it’s a collection of short films all about the same topic but they don’t really hold together well in one story. Just when I was feeling something for one of the characters I was whisked off to another part of the world and I had to recalibrate and try to reconnect with those characters and their version of the problem.

The overall story suffers from its overzealous attempt to get a global view in such a short time. This story really could have been a miniseries and we could have spent more time getting to know the characters. The writer, Scott Z. Burns, needs to be commended on tackling this large project and making it into a story. It’s an interesting concept and it’s adequately done, but it does not have enough time to really drive a connection. Director Steven Soderbergh made a great film that is beautiful and thought-provoking. I really enjoyed the way it was filmed -- the long pauses on the items that passed the contagion and the surrounding problems once people stop doing things like collecting garbage. Putting the population tallies under the city names in scene changes was a truly great idea to put things in perspective. In the end I need to ask if this was the right vehicle for this story. I could see this being on HBO or on TNT as a miniseries but not an episodic show.


I got a very Hitchcockian feel from the fact that Gwyneth Paltrow was featured so prominently in the previews and the DIES within the first 10 min of the movie. Hitchcock did the same thing in Psycho with Janet Leigh.

This movie pulls no punches in its setting the bar in how fatal this virus is by also killing Beth’s son because she passed the virus off to him in a loving welcome home hug. OK, I am watching a movie where there are no boundaries on who is at risk, got it.

Jude Law is a marvelous performer I truly hated his character in this movie. He embodied all that is bad with humanity and I feel guilty for thinking this but if his followers were dumb enough to follow his advice I am kind of glad that they are not going to be in the gene pool. Humanity is better off. *Smug Mode Disengage.*

I thought the very ending should have been left off. We don’t get anything more from the story to learn that a bat was eating something over a pig pen and a pig ate its leftovers and we picked that up from a chef who did not wash his hands. Leaving it as an open topic of discussion would have been better, all I learned from this film’s ending is never shake hands with a cook. They are icky.

What other movies would have been better as a miniseries than a film. Tell me about it?

Tuesday, September 20, 2011


DRIVE - 100min - R

Drive is a perfect example of great execution in filmmaking. The precision in timing, pacing, cinematography and storytelling are testaments to the creator’s talent. From the first scene you are plunged into a dark noire view of LA and its characters. This is movie making at its finest. But I have to be honest and say that I was not very entertained. Let’s sum up by saying I appreciate the art of this film, but I won’t be seeing it again. I give this movie a green light because of the exquisite film making, but because I didn’t enjoy the journey, I will have to default it down to a yellow.

The Driver (Ryan Gosling) is a Hollywood stunt driver by day and at night he works at a garage. He is also a part time wheelman -- no questions asked. He is a god behind the wheel. The Driver gets involved with the family next door. Irene (Carey Mulligan), and her son, Benicio (Kaden Leos), are awaiting the return of her husband Standard (Oscar Isaac). The Driver helps them out and gets caught up in their problems when the father’s past comes back to threaten their new beginning. The acting was terrific. The one that stands out is Albert Brooks who shocked me as a cold-blooded killer. I can’t remember him doing a role like this. He was chilling. Ron Pearlman is doing his bad guy routine and that is something he does well. Ryan Gosling’s character was very stoic and laconic through the entire picture. His performance reminded me of the gunslinger played by Yul Brynner in The Magnificent Seven. It’s harder to get the feeling of a character through when you have almost no dialog to work with. It’s a testament to his skill as a performer that he could relay so much emotion with so few lines.

The director Nicolas Winding Refn did an awesome job of captaining this picture. I have not seen anything else from him but I am going to be looking to correct that. I wonder what elements form this film will be used in other films. I look forward to more movies from him. The screenwriter was Hossein Amini another new one for me, I am going to have to keep an eye out for them in the future. His story had elements that were caked in subtext and alternate meanings. I liked the choices that his characters had to make.

DRIVE PAST HERE!!! Spoiler Warning!!!!!

I really love one part of the elevator scene, when he has to make a choice to be with the woman he loves or turning into the monster that she needs to protect her. In doing so he realizes that he can never be with her. And the way that the scene was framed in the elevator was great work. The door closing between him and her is great symbolism.

Carey Mulligan is a wonderful actress. Her performance in this film is great. Love the torn expressions of a woman who has to do the right thing for her family but loves this new person in their lives. The burgeoning relationship between them is well done.

The kicking a person’s head flat was one that could have been shortened. Ryan Goslings rage was a bit too long and it did not play well. There were chuckles from the audience when I went to see it. I wonder if they were caught in not knowing what emotion to relay? I think he is too much a hero type to dabble in the dark vigilantly story elements. But I could be wrong. I would have never picked Albert Brooks as the mob boss either.

Christina Hendricks was also in the film but her role was a small one with very little to work with. She needs to do more movies. I have enjoyed her body of work on the small screen, but Hollywood needs to give her a role with some substance.

I have had long conversations about the movie Crash with my sister. She and I had two views on the film, she did not like it and I did. I understand her point of view now. I know this was a really well done film, but I did not get enjoyment from the journey it took me on. What movies have you had the same feeling about?

Monday, September 12, 2011

The Debt

The Debt – 113Min – R

This one is going to be hard for me. This move has some great story elements that I do not want to spoil it for you. Let me give you this much, it was a great espionage film that had the all the right elements. The stars did a wonderful job of making the movie entertaining and the story had you on the edge of my seat a few times. The overarching subplots are quite involved and they do a decent job of keeping the past and the present characters inline. I would say that the best part of the film is the dynamic between the characters. For overall entertainment value I give it a green light.

The movie starts off with a blending of flashback and current time. The story starts to come into focus as we see a party for a book release. The book follows the actions of Rachel (Helen Mirren) Stefan (Tom Wilkinson) and David (Ciaran Hinds) when they were younger. These three Mossad agents were on a mission to capture a Nazi war criminal in East Berlin. The younger versions were played by Jessica Chastain, Sam Worthington, and Marton Coskas, respectively. The mission brings the three together in close quarters and under stress, they bond. The movie captures how events in the past come back to haunt the present. Everything we do has a price and sometime we must make amends

Director John Madden did a great job of taking the elements and blending the story together in an entertaining way. His films in the past, such as Shakespeare in Love to Proof, have focused more on human relationships. That experience shows in this film. This is defiantly more action-oriented than his previous films but he pulls it off.

The writing team that worked on this film’s screenplay also has an eclectic resume. Matthew Vaughn and Jane Goldman have worked on films like Kick Ass, X-men: First class and Stardust. Peter Straughan has worked on Men Who Stare at Goats, and How to Lose Friends and Alienate People. This list does not really ring as one that could make a leap to espionage thriller, but they do good work in this film. I do think the end of the movie has a softer climax than it should, which you can see more about under the spoiler heading, but overall the whole movie was entertaining.

I have been very pleased with the work that Focus Features has done. Many of the films I have enjoyed have come from them. Now that I have started to look at the people who make the movies, I have a new perspective. Production companies that have done a great job in movie making keep popping up. I am going to have to keep my eye out for their next projects.

Warning: Spoilers!! Top Secret!!!

One of the most gripping scenes was when they were trying to get the doctor out of Germany. I was completely nervous on that scene. it was well times and everything was paced marvelously. They paced it like a heist movie, making sure that things had to hit right or everything was going to be lost.

I like Sam Worthington He is a fine actor, but throughout the film his accent was muddled and inconsistent. He did a great job showing the emotion and delivering the suffering, but the accent made me look like the RCA victor Dog. The casting on the older version of him was a bit off as well. His older self and younger self did not play convincingly enough.

I thought that the fight with the very old Dieter Vogel (Jesper Christensen) and older Rachel was the failing in the ending. It is just not exciting to see them fight. I was much more concerned with her sneaking in to the news room and into the Hospital than I was with the fight. Perhaps have her meet the reporter and give him an interview after they find the Nazi dead would have been a better ending.

What is one movie that was told out of order that really entertained you? Tell me about it.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Crazy, Stupid, Love.

Crazy, Stupid, Love. – 118min – PG-13

It has been a while since I have seen a good comedy that layers story elements as finely as this movie did. This film has an excellent sense of comedic timing and was enjoyable to watch. There are three sets of couples all working on finding and defending love. The cast was well chosen and I felt each did a stupendous job in bringing these everyday struggles to light. I really love the humor in this film. I can’t remember the last film that made me laugh out loud. The writing was so well done I was completely taken over by the story and taken in with the journey of these characters. This movie gets a green light from me.

Cal (Steve Carell) and his wife Emily (Julianne Moore) open the movie by getting a divorce. This is a heavy topic to start a comedy with. They really worried me about setting a tone of a dark comedy but this is not the case. We also see Hannah (Emma Stone) get approached by a pickup artist by the name of Jacob (Ryan Gosling) who gives her the full court press but she refuses his advances. Lastly we have Robbie (Jonah Bobo) a kid who is in Middle school who is in love with his babysitter Jessica (Analeigh Tipton) a high school student. All of these couples carefully contend with the same elements of love, relationships and self discovery. The journey that is life takes them all for a spin and we see real character growth.

There are several enjoyable aspect to this movie but one that stands out for me is Cal’s journey toward rediscovering himself. Jacob sees Cal in the bar and has a soft spot for him and in a Mr. Miyagi fashion gives him a makeover he desperately needs. The main focus of the film is Cal and how he deals with getting his life back on track, and how he approaches relationships. One thing this movie does well is keep the focus on hope and not give in to the easy joke or the canned Hollywood elements when it delivers its message.

I have to hand it to writer Dan Fogelman: he does do an entertaining story. I have to say I did not recognize his name until I looked him up. His writing credits include Cars, Tangled and Bolt. I have enjoyed the stories that he has done in the past so unbeknownst to me I am a fan of his work. This is something a little different than his normal film milieu but it’s defiantly one of his better films. The co-directors, Glenn Ficarra and John Requa, did a great job of translating this script into live action. They have worked on other films but I have not seen them and it looks like they have only directed one other film. They collaborated on I Love You Phillip Morris as directors.

Spoiler Warning!!!! Do not look beyond this point!!! Unless you want to.

Ok the timing of the surprises in this film took me in and I had absolutely no idea they were going to cross paths as much as they did. I loved how they added the complexity to the funny moments. I am thinking of the back yard scene when everything comes to a head. As fun as that was, I really loved how it was a realization moment that nothing is going to be the same ever again.

Another scene was the end. Typically the average American viewer wants to have everything tied up neat and tidy at the end. I loved how they ended the story with a hopeful message one that really says that nothing ever gets completely resolved but all of the characters had a better perspective of how things were going to change from there. It left them and me hopeful.

One of the better moments is when Cal realizes that being a ladies’ man is not for him. I love how characters grow in this movie. Film makers seem to not give that as much attention as they should. The line I really liked from this discovery is “It was not about showing you, it was about getting on with my life.” Good stuff.

I forgot to mention that Kevin Bacon and Marisa Tomei were wonderful in this film, I completely spaced they were in this, I was so taken by the main players. I do want to say that Marisa Tomei hit it out of the park Kevin Bacon was excellent as the office love that is awkwardly trying to fit in.

What is one movie that took you in a direction you were not expecting? What was it and how were you surprised.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011


Colombiana - 107min – PG-13

As I watch more movies I have noticed that film makers have signature movies they work really well with. Luc Besson uses the same elements in this movie that worked well in others. If you take a Dash of District B13, mix in some elements of Leon: the Professional and finish off with La Femme Nikita, you have Colombiana. Yes, you might look at this opening line and think “so nothing new or original”. Some of the action is the same but this movie does stand out as it’s a different story with these elements not a rehash. I know… I know, you are thinking “how can you have the same elements and not be a rehash”? Well let’s look at it this way. Action scenes can only be done so many ways, and there are no new ideas. The only newness to them is how you string them together. Besson uses these elements like a master chef blends together ingredients that everyone loves. This movie gets a green light from me. I truly enjoyed the ride this film took me on.

This story surrounds the main character Cataleya (Zoe Saldana) who at a young age witnessed her family being killed by a crime lord in Columbia. She escapes to Chicago to her uncle Emilio (Cliff Curtis). He raises her as his own, and helps her work toward what she wants most. She wants to exact revenge on the man who killed her family. Her uncle is involved with the criminal elements in Chicago and provides her with training and guidance. The movie takes us on a rollercoaster ride through her revenge. During the film she struggles with maintaining a relationship with her “boyfriend” Danny(Michael Vartan) and keeping her real life secret from him. She seems like a person who has had her childhood stolen from her and I wonder who she is, or would be, if she had not been subjected to this hardship.

Saladana does an excellent job of bringing the complexity of the character to the screen. Her cold calculating mind works over time but she still shows her vulnerability as a human. You see her struggle with her own identity in a few scenes and she knows that she can’t have a “normal” life. The relationship she has with Danny is a great role reversal, typically the man is the mysterious one and the woman wants more from them. Their dynamic is a switch and it works.

The actions scenes are well timed and they fit together wonderfully. I loved the shots of the locations; the establishing shots brought the settings into clear focus. Besson does action well; I am never disappointed by his films. Well I can’t say that, there are a few that are not as good as others but not everyone can be a hit. One thing that always stands true is his attention to the action. He does do action well. Before I started looking at movies more closely I had no Idea that many of the movies that I really liked in this genera were made by him. Memo to me: write about the merits of his films on future IMHO post.

Warring Spoilers follow: Top Secret eyes only beyond this point. !!

The opening scene where Cataleya (Amandla Stenberg) makes a break for it was well done; it did not have the typical free running punch that some of his films have had. It was good but I think it could have been done with more punch. Perhaps I expect more than I should from a 13 year old. She did a great job of taking on this fast paced run from the bad guys her performance does not disappoint.

I thought that her being outed to the police was a hard scene to watch, I knew that it was a bad idea for him to take a picture but I was not expecting his friend to have an “in” at the police department. - The dominoes then fall from there. I think it was hard to watch because I knew what problems that meant for her. That led to another good change of perspective moment was when Ross (Lennie James) the FBI Agent was cretin it was not a woman until he got a match from the two photos.

Jordi Mollà was good as Marco the heavy enforcer for the big bad guy, he has a supremely creepy calm I am going to kill you voice.

Anyone who keeps sharks in a pool deserves whatever they get. Just sayin'.

This week I ask you what was your favorite Luc Besson film?

Monday, August 1, 2011

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 – 130 min – PG-13

The Harry Potter franchise comes to an end and it is a spectacular send off. This movie does a stupendous job of tying up the story of Mr. Potter and his friends. The good wizards stand against Voldermort and his Death Eaters in this battle royale of good versus evil. The second half of the final book was my favorite part so I was looking forward to this movie. I loved the climatic landscapes of this movie and the way the story comes alive and makes the magic seem real. It was with bittersweet sadness that I enjoyed watching this movie knowing that there are no more stories coming. Oddly, I did not feel this way when reading the books. I think as I am more of a movie person than a book person I have a stronger connection with the movies. I give this movie a green light. I truly enjoyed myself while watching the film. Take the last trip into Hogwarts and get set to watch a movie franchise close its doors with a bang.

Harry (Daniel Radcliffe), Ron (Rupert Grint) and Hermione (Emma Watson) are on the lamb when we pick up this film, we see them on their pursuit of horcruxes and speeding toward a final confrontation with Lord Voldermort (Ralph Fiennes). The final battle brings the entire cast back together again in the climax of this film. They spared no expenses in bringing us the visualizations and effects of the magic in a full on wizard war. The one character that I find myself thinking on the most is Professor Severus Snape (Alan Rickman) . Out of all of the characters I think that his development throughout the story and the final film has been one of the best. He comes off as a truly despicable character and we see a contrasting side of him in this film. I feel the most sorrow for him mostly in the way that he is so misunderstood; still unlikable, but at least we understand why. Alan Rickman is a master performer and has been a favorite of mine from the time I watched him in The January Man. Another unsung character that I really liked is the heroic Neville Longbottom (Matthew Lewis). I would be remiss in not mentioning Maggie Smith in her role as Professor McGonagall. She showed her strength as an actress and I was moved by her performance. There were several parts where I knew what was going to happen but seeing them come alive on screen was still a rush.

David Yates has does a great job in making this film the crown jewel of the series. He is familiar with the characters and it shows in the quality of this film. The cast has worked together for several years and they are comfortable with the characters they play. I was completely taken in by the majesty of the final battles and the story elements. I think he did a great job of intertwining the special effects and the drama of the final film. It was well balanced and entertaining. It’s a challenge to balance the elements of a film so that not one overrides the other. He does a wonderful job of making sure that each complements each other.

Warning Spoilers!! No Muggles allowed!!Wizards click here to see them.

Some of the most moving parts for me were the heroic speeches. The first one was McGonagall bringing up the defenses and calls the statues alive and starts to shield the school. I also enjoyed Neville’s speech about Harry being alive in all of us, and his decapitation of the snake. Man, really great stuff.

The entire Room of Requirement scene and its ramifications were exquisite. In the middle of the flight for their lives from the flames Harry makes a heroic choice and risks his life to saves Malfoy (Tom Felton). That good deed in turn saves his life in the forest when Malofy’s mother (Helen McCorory) reports Harry Potter is dead but knows that he is alive and her boy is safe. This is a great story element.

I loved the part where they break into Gringotts and Hermione saves the day. I tell you without her they would not have gotten as far as they did. I loved her trying to be vile and evil as Bellatrix (Helena Bonham Carter) this is a testament of Helena Bonham Carter’s skill she was playing someone else playing her. And if you think about it, she had to think of how Emma Watson was going to play Herminie playing Bellatrix. It’s kind of mind bending when you think about it.

The last question I have for you today is what is the next book series that is going to make a mega millions franchise? I know that I Am Number 4 was trying to get a start but ended up not doing as well as they wanted. What book series should they do next?

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Captain America: The First Avenger

Captain America: The First Avenger – 124min – PG-13

Captain my captain; you have come into your own as a movie. MAN I loved this film; it was a perfect example of what a superhero film should be. It made the best of humor and action and told us a story of how a scrawny kid from Brooklyn with a huge heart made a difference in World War II. This movie is one complete origin film that makes a huge springboard for next summer’s The Avengers. The people at Marvel have an excellent crew of film makers who understand that humor, action, drama and excellent story telling are key points in film making. This movie gets a green light from me and is a great action ride that is a ‘do again’ just to let the movie wash over you. I am going to go see it again because it’s a movie that looks good on the big screen.

The movie is about Steve Rogers (Chris Evans), a little guy, who does not know how to give up. He has tried several times under different names to get enlisted in the Army. He receives a 4F at every attempt. He gets into fights because he stands his ground for what is right and does not like bullies. He is observed by a Dr. Abraham Erskine (Stanly Tucci) who is working on a secret project to make super soldiers. He gets accepted into the program and gets transformed into the Hero we know as Captain America. Hitler was also working on a same kind of project which spawned Red Skull (Hugo Weaving) and resulted in the two titans fight over the fate of the world.

Some notable characters in the film are Col. Chester Phillips (Tommy Lee Jones) he is an Old Military man who has a basis in practicality. Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell) is the Capitan’s Handler and confidant. Howard Stark (Dominic Cooper) is the financial and technology master in this team. They were well cast and top notch performers.

Joe Johnson as the Director was a good fit, his films in the past have been over all good, but not really notable. I think this win will definitely make him a more notable player in movies. After looking at all of his films he has a very heroic flavor to his style. He did The Rocketeer, and I fell in love with that setting and the hero genre. This movie is set in the same time period and reflects some of the same quality work with the subject matter and era.

One of the biggest effects that were done in a seamless way was making Chris Evans a skinny guy. I have to admit it looked spot on and it was hard to pick out the digital effects. More importantly I stopped looking for the effects and was completely bought into the character. It did so much to add more appreciation for the character; you had to go from little guy with a huge heroic streak, to the big and bulky Captain America.

The one message in this film was that ‘good of spirit can show through’ and even though they changed the outside of Steve Rogers the same person remained in all of that new muscle.

Spoilers Warning: Top Secret Eyes Only!!

There are two scenes that made the movie for me. One is the scene where Steve uses his head to get the flag down. And the other is where he throws himself on the grenade. That right there was the best spots in the movie for me. Showing the depth of heroism in the little body of Steve really made me a fan of this character.

I loved Tommy Lee Jones’s character in this film; he added so much comedy at just the right moments. Both the actor and the character are a joy to watch. And the “I’m not going to kiss you” line was classic.

I also like how they brought him into the modern era. That transition was well done and good at leading right into the next movie. The end of the credits is worth a look. I can’t wait until next summer.

Another part that really struck home for me was when he took his war bonds show to the troops and they were completely unimpressed with him. It took him to actually act like a hero for them to get behind him. I liked how he had to prove himself before he was accepted.

Why do you think that Marvel movies are done so much better than DC movies? Yes, the recent Batman movies are an exception. Aside from them, why did Green Lantern just rate an ok while Captain America seemed so much better? Or is it just me? Tell me about it.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

The Hangover Part II

The Hangover Part II - 102min – R

This movie was a pale rehash of the exact same story from the first movie. Yes, it takes place in Thailand. Yes, there are new shenanigans. No, it’s not original or clever or humorous. One bright note I did get to see this movie free of charge, but there was a high price for seeing this film, it was 102 min I will never get back again. I think I got gipped. I am at a loss for words on how bland this movie was. The only character I thought was entertaining was the monkey (Crystal). I think it was Penn Jillette who said it best “there is nothing funnier than a smoking monkey.” Unfortunately, this comedy gold is wasted on an extravagant waste of time. Don’t get me wrong: I truly enjoyed watching the characters get the tar beat out of them but I don’t think it was for the reasons that the filmmakers intended. If you liked the original, just re-watch it. Do not waste your time on this half-assed retread. I am obviously going to give this movie a red light, for failing to do anything more with the characters or the storyline.

The movie starts out with some friends Phil (Bradley Cooper), Stu (Ed Helms), Alan(Zach Galifianakis) and Doug (Justin Bartha) getting together to have a little bachelor party, things get out of hand and they have one wild night in Vega…excuse me Bangkok. They lose a member of their happy band and spend the next few days trying to find him before they have to get back to the wedding. After a long chance though the city uncover clues as to what happed, they gather the lost friend and get back to the wedding on time and then stumble on a camera that has pictures of what really happed on their wild night of fun. Oh wait did I just give you the synopsis of the first one or the second one? Meh it doesn’t matter.

I think the fault here lies in the fact that they thought they could skate the same movie by with a different set. I place the blame on Todd Phillips. He seems to think that this kind of churn and burn sequel will be fine. He has done some really good comedies in the past… well, ok, really he has done this kind of film before with different people and setting but it’s the same kind of thing. It might be a case of “hey guys, I just got a budget to take us all to Thailand, let’s go do The Hangover Part 2.”

It could also be the fault of the writers. Craig Mazin is known for his work on ultra spoofs like Scary Movie 4 and Super Hero Movie. Scot Armstrong who has worked with Phillips before also took part in the creation of this film. Todd Phillips also has a writer’s credit on this film. I can’t even cut him a break of, “look, he was just the director he did not know what he was doing”. Nope his hands where on this steamer from start to finish.

From a filmmaker’s perspective there was nothing wrong with this film. It did a good job of putting the film together and making it work as a travelogue. But the big problem that holds this movie back is that they seemed to be resting on their laurels and coasted in on the back of the success of the first movie.

Here are the only funny parts that got a few laughs out of me.


When they take the monk back to the monastery and the younger monk beats the hell out of them because they will not stop talking, I found myself laughing that that. It had a fairly reminiscent feel of the scene in Hitchhikers Guide to the Universe.

I did like how Teddy (Mason Lee) made sure that the monk was ok during the street riot, which stood out to me. Not a funny scene but it was the only connection I had with any of the characters that were of my species.

Stu’s rendition of Billy Joel’s Allentown was good, and it was well done where Alan did not realize how pointed the song was.

Did you see this movie? On purpose?(Gasp)is someone holding you against your will? I want to know if you really liked this film or not. Post your response. Why did you like it or why did you not.