Tuesday, July 31, 2012

The Watch

The Watch – 101Min – R

I so wanted this movie to be good, it has some really talented actors in it but unfortunately it fell flat. I was hoping that a great alien comedy in the style of Shaun of the Dead was on its way and it turns out to be more of a long infomercial for Costco from the Sci Fi channel. The main problem was that the trailer takes all of the wind out of the funny parts of the movie. I appreciated some aspects of the movie but overall it’s not worth the time it takes to get to them. In hoping that this movie was at least a yellow light it disappointedly falls squarely into the Red light category. Too bad movies don’t have as flexible a return policy as Costco does, because they need their money back. No questions asked.

Evan (Ben Stiller) is a manager of the local Costco. He spends his time making sure that his life is full of activities because he incredibly involved with his community. One of his employees dies a gruesome death and he now makes it his personal mission to find the killer. He organizes a neighborhood watch and gets three other interested parties. Franklin (Jonah Hill) a police academy wash out, Bob (Vince Vaughn) a mostly single dad who has a kick-ass man cave and Jamarcus (Richard Ayoade) the token black guy in Evans personal goal of having one of every race as a friend.
They set about looking for the killer and uncover an alien plot to build a transmitter under the Costco and bring in an invasion force. The boys work together to stop the invasion and still work on personal issues in their lives.

The movie falls short on delivering one clear story. The characters are fighting the huge invasion and also distracted by their own lives. The time it takes to fully develop the secondary stories takes away from the main plot line and doesn’t give us any insight into the motivations of the characters, which I think is the only reason they were added.

Akiva Schaffer has made me laugh with his work on SNL and other projects but this one somehow seems to be lost in its own need to belabor the story with long stretches to get from one funny bit to another. The funny parts don’t string together in a way that tells a good story.

Richard Ayoade is one of the funnies actors I have seen in a long time, he has an excellent grasp of the straight man and his comedic timing is spot on. Vince Vaughn is doing what he does best being the loud guy that has no filter to check to see if he should be saying what he is saying. This time they added some personality to him as a caring father and it works really well. He is loud rude and a bull in the verbal china shop but it plays well.

Ben Stiller seems to be just walking through the parts and not focused, he lost his stride on the string of Focker movies and has not gotten it back yet. Jonah Hill does not do anything new, he has an edgy character but he only delivers the lines like he did on every other character he has played.

Spoiler Warrning !!!! Only humans beyond this link!!! Click here to see the spoilers!!!!

Evan is not a likable character, he is keeping from his wife that he is sterile. She is trying everything to make sure they have a baby and he keeps her in the dark. Bob is right that he needs to tell her but this subplot does nothing for the story other than paint Evan as a jerk.

 Bobs relationship with his daughter was great, dysfunctional but great. It worked for the character and made Bob’s brashness bearable because his heart was in the right place.

The guest appearance by the Lonely Island crew was funny and again they are obsessed with their dicks. I should have known that as the director of this movie, Akiva would have made the penis the weak point of the aliens. I have never been a fan of dick jokes, and if you are going to use them at least make them witty.

What do you want from a comedy? What movie have you wanted to be good and it turn out not to be.

Friday, July 20, 2012

The Dark Knight Rises


I have seen the movie The Dark Knight Rises and planed on giving it my full attention in the review. With the events of last night at the film’s opening in Aurora Colorado, a suburb of Denver, I now need to explain what I have been seeing around this movie’s release.

Friday night at 12:39 a.m at the Century 16 in Aurora, Colorado a lone gunman entered a crowded theater through the emergency exit and launched an incendiary devise into the theater and then entered and begin callously shooting into the crowd. There were 12 fatalities and 59 people wounded.

At the time of this article was written we still don’t know the reasons behind the attack, we have a name of the suspect in custody but he is not worth mentioning. His actions have made a hole in the lives of so many people that the reasons for his motivations are unimportant.

This has moved many people to think about what is important today. Political parties put away their barbs, Warner Bother studios has pulled all of the ads for the film and canceled a red carpet event. There has been an overwhelming feeling of respect for those suffering today. Everyone is re-examines the thing in their lives and it causes people to think. I want to look at this entire event from start to finish.

The move is great. It is an excellent end to this trilogy that paved the way for hero films to have a realistic feel and gave us a new model of how these films should be seen. I hope gone are the days of campy action and cartoonish imagery. This is a movie that is best viewed on an IMAX screen. It was filmed with that intent and to fully appreciate its scope and sweeping images anything smaller would diminish the feel. I have some more technical notes on the film but they have to take second place to what is a larger issue here.

Many have been waiting for this movie for a while; the success of the previous films gave the fans something to look forward to. People anticipated that this movie would leap past any previous box office record. Primarily because of the fans who love the character this movie was based on. There are a number of fans who have devoted a lot of time and energy into their passion for this character.

On July 16, 2012 a long time movie reviewer Eric d. Snider posed on Rotten Tomatoes (RT) the following review of the film. “The dark Knight Rises is easily the most disappointing batman film so far- and I’m including Schumacher’s Batman & Robin in that statement.” This comment started a tirade of rude, hateful and truly evil remarks from the fan base. Most of them were focused on Eric and his audacity to not like this film. It is odd that they immediately admonished him for stating his opinion of a move they have not seen.

The tricky part was he had not seen the movie either. He posed that on RT to prove a point. His point was that people have used the anonymity of the comment section of that and other websites to spew any vile, discussing, hatful thing that pops into their head. Movie critics who give a negative review of any film are often subject to much of this abuse. The link to his full review gave a full explanation that he was only posted to make a point.

Another reviewer gave an authentic review that was not glowing but also not overly negative; it was well written and had some legitimate gripes about the film. The hate comments and abuse came rolling in. So many abusive comments were posited that RT had to shut down the comments section for that movie. RT’s editor in chief Matt Atchity posted this letter in explanation. The Dark Knight Rises -- This Is Why We Can't Have Nice Things

The next observation I have is the attempt by some in the mainstream media to use this movie to try and angle their own personal agendas and siphon off attention from this big block buster movie. Rush Limbaugh tried to imply a correlation to the villain in the movie to a company that a political candidate Mitt Romney was once affiliated with and insinuated that the Obama campaign was using this as a tactic. "The movie has been in the works for a long time, the release date has been known, summer 2012, for a long time. Do you think that it is accidental that the name of the really vicious, fire-breathing, four-eyed, what-ever-it-is villain in this movie is named Bane?"

He then went on to explain what he thinks of people who are fans of the batman franchise. "A lot of people are going to see the movie, and it's a lot of brain-dead people, entertaining the pop-culture crowd. And they're going to hear 'Bane' in the movie and they're going to associate 'Bain' and the thought is that when they start paying attention to the campaign later in the year and Obama and the Democrats keep talking about Bain, not Bain Capital, Romney and Bain that these people will think back to the bad man." Limbaugh later clarified his comments saying "I never said that the villain was created by the comic book character creator to be part of the 2012 campaign. I said that Democrats were going to use it, which they are." From the Telegraph

None of the examples I mentions above are the cause of one man’s horrific actions. No one is to blame for this incident other than the suspect. We need to never try and angle this tragedy to suit our own needs, or to further our own causes. This should never be used as example as to why this should be banned or that is what caused this. I never want to see this used as ammunition to prove that we all need to change our lives because of one man who is broken.

I think the biggest thing that saddens me is the fact that in a few weeks this will be a footnote in people’s minds and the news media will make this one other event to call back to if anything else happens like this anywhere else.

Once we have completed the due process of law, attended our wounds, paid homage to those who lost their lives, worked hard to put our lives back together we need to let this moment pass and be buried with those who tragically lost their lives. Don’t misunderstand me we will never forget, it will never be the same but we need to go on and continue to live.

My thoughts are with those who were directly affected by this tragedy.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Seeking a Friend for the End of the World

Seeking a Friend for the End of the World - 101min - R

When faced with the end of all human existence it’s hard to find humor. This movie did its best to find some form of funny in this bleak setting. There we some chuckles but overall I could not shake the dark overtones of “it all does not matter because we are all going to die.” It is very hard to get emotionally connected to people that are doomed to die. What’s the point? This is a red light story with a few yellow light scenes but it’s really not worth the journey. It’s all so depressing.

We open the movie with a news cast telling us that earth’s last hope has blown up and the 70 mile wide meteor is going to hit us and wipe out humanity. Dodge (Steve Carell) and his wife Linda (Nancy Carell) are listening to the report in the car, when she hears the news there is no hope she bolts out of the car and runs off into the night. I should have taken this as a hint and done the same thing.

Dodge has no aspirations and no desires other than carry on with his mid-life crisis of not knowing what to do with his life and going to work every day. People all around him are taking one gigantic last fling and going out with a bang. He is still trying to find a meaningful connection. Is it honorable to be looking for love in a world that has gone mad and now indulges every little whim and throws common sense to the wind? I found him to be a wet blanket that has absolutely no direction.

He finds a connection with Penny (Keira Knightley) who is a free spirit who has broken up with her boyfriend (Adam Brody). Together they go and try and find Dodge’s ex-girlfriend and in return, he promises her that he can get her to an airplane that will take her to see her parents.

I was so looking forward to this movie. It had so much promise. It left me completely numb because of the magnitude of the catastrophe. It’s hard to make a connection to the people in the movie because I have no idea what I would do if I were in that same situation.

I found myself wondering what I would do if it were real, and that was a distraction from the movie. I had no connection to any of the characters on the screen. I saw nothing to represent what I would do. I would head off to the highest spot on the earth that I could get to and watch the final fireworks show.

Lorene Scafaria wrote and directed this film and one reason I was looking forward to it was because I loved her previous work (Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist). I think she did herself a disservice by picking such a downer setting. Her characters interact well, and she has a gift for capturing very tender moments between them but I could not get myself motivated to care. Seriously, they are going to die in the next few minutes so why am I going to feel happy you found true love.

Spoiler warning!!! THEY ARE ALL GOING TO DIE!!! oops should have saved that for below the link!!!!

One of the truly phenomenally stupid things that Dodge does is to put Penny on the plane and let her go. There are more seats on the plane. He should have gone along with her. You love her and you’re going to die in a few hours why the hell are you not telling her? This was one of the truly frustrating things about this character. You absolutely have nothing to lose. Just get the most out of life for the last few weeks of your existence.

Martin Sheen plays Dodge’s father. He does a wonderful job. He makes a contact with his estranged father and they have a genuine connection and a resolution before they die. This was a great scene that I think fit nicely in this kind of film.

You only have two weeks to live before the world blows up, what do you do?

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

The Amazing Spider-Man

The Amazing Spider-Man – 136Min – PG-13

I have been anti reboot for a long time. Spider-man’s origin is well known and we don’t discover anything new. Even if the third movie should have never been made, they do not need to start fresh. However you should know that this was a really good film. It took some of the mistakes in the first films and started fresh with a more traditional storyline from the comic books. They modernize the story but kept the spirit of the elements true. They convinced me that a reboot was a good idea, and worth a green light.

I am not going to go into a full synopsis, here are the high points. Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield) has a crush on Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone). Her mentor, Doctor Connors (Rhys Ifans) is working with cross species genetics. Peter lives with his Uncle Ben (Martin Sheen) and his Aunt May (Sally Fields) because his parents were mysteriously killed. Peter digs into his parents' past and meets up with Dr. Connors who worked with Peter's father. Peter gets bitten by a lab spider and gets super powers. Peter and Dr. Connors work out a formula that gives Dr. Connors a hand (pun intended) and he inadvertently unleashes the creature known as The Lizard.

This does a complete reset of everything from characters to story elements. They take their time to fully develop the characters. I felt the time dragging but I was still entertained that was a new movie watching experience for me.

Using the Avengers model of dedicating the first film on origin gives you a leaping off point for more films that jump directly into the action. The two most important changes are the use of the web shooters to highlights the intelligence and creativity of Peter and Gwen Stacy as Peters love interest like the original story.

Sally Fields as Aunt May is new because she is not silver-haired old bitty but a modern update to the old frail Aunt May of previous stories. She is a strong and supportive character and is someone who will be interesting to watch as the series progresses. We all know what happens to Uncle Ben but having someone as charming as Martin Sheen take on the role made me dread the inevitability of what has to happen to make Spider-Man who he is.

It feels a bit of a cheat to have a British actor playing an American hero but he does an excellent job. He captures the adolescent elements of the character and makes him an endearing teenager that is just learning that with great power comes great responsibility.

Emma Stone does a great job of giving Gwen life. I am impressed with her diversity of characters. Looking over her filmography she has taken a number of teenager roles but each of them is so different. I enjoy watching what nuances she brings to her characters.

Spoiler Warning!!! Don’t get caught in the web of spoilers under this link.!!!!

This origin story had two very poignant lessons to be learned that help build the hero we know as Spiderman. The death of Ben gives Peter the drive to right what he did wrong. The death of Captain Stacy gives him the knowledge to keep his identity secret. The second message comes not a moment too soon, because he seems to walk around a lot without his mask on.

When the web shooters don’t work because he is under water or when the Lizard destroys them is awesome. I am glad they finally went back to the origin on this because it gives Spider-Man a limiting factor. He had to use his considerable intelligence to outwit some of his opponents.

I loved the fact that Peter was a kid thorough this entire movie. He did not change into a brooding personality to compensate for the loss of his uncle. He was constantly an adolescent through the entire move. I love the air parkour that he did through the city. I think I was the only one but I liked the first person perspective of the swinging from building to building.

What Spider-Man villain is your favorite, and why?