Anchorman 2 (2013): Ron and the Channel 4 News Team are back! This time, the gang finds themselves trying to gain traction at the Global News Network. Obviously, hilarious events ensue, full of one liners, outrageous improv, an interesting romance, and of course, Baxter the dog.
Boy have I waited a long time for this. First off, Anchorman is one of my all-time favorite movies out there. Why? Well, that is an excellent question my friend! It wasn't just the crazy one-liners, or the great comedic interlude between the characters that did it for me, rather it was because I actually care about these characters. I care about Ron, Brian, Champ, and Brick. So many comedies you could care less about the characters and its story, as long as it makes you laugh it doesn't matter is what I typically say, but that is not the case with the original. However this is just me personally, and I will say right off the bat that if you don't care about the characters in the first Anchorman, this movie will do nothing to change your opinion on them. Well maybe Brick but then again, how could you not like Brick? This movie follows a formula very similar to that of the original, right down to referencing itself at times. Sometimes this worked (Brian Fantana's cologne cabinet makes a very clever cameo) and sometimes they didn't. (The song was clearly forced. Funny, but not as natural and logical to the story as Afternoon Delight was.) But still, the movie was very enjoyable to me, and made me laugh all throughout its 119 minute runtime, particularly in an absolutely ridiculous third act.
So first of all, story. Now the rule of comedies I have will once again have to apply here, because the story itself is absurd. There were quite a few corners cut to get the plot from point A to point B, like the part where the gang gets into an incredibly violent Winnebago accident and then are totally fine in the next scene. But did you honestly expect otherwise? I still genuinely cared about the Channel 4 News Team this time around. I wanted to see them succeed against all odds. Oh, additionally there is a crazy romance here between Carrell's character and Kristen Wiig's character, who is of course very similar to that of Brick. This led to some of the movie's funniest moments, as Carrell and Wiig fumble through dates and just physical intimacy in general. I'd almost recommend seeing the movie just for this part. Actually Carrell gets a lot of screen time, and of course Ferrel does too, but the losers in Anchorman 2 are Paul Rudd and David Koechner, as they really don't get that much screen time. Which is unfortunate. The only other major complaint I will voice here involves Meagan Good's character, Linda Jackson, or the African-American boss. Her character made very little sense to me, and clearly seemed to exist just for the sake of the comedy. One second she hates Ron to the point that she beats him up, and then a few scenes later she wants to sleep with him. No middle ground, just straight from pure hatred to wanting to have sex. Wait what? But man was the dinner scene with her family funny. So again, the absurdity of this plot point is forgiven because it made me laugh.
So, acting. It is clear to me that this is not a cash-grab sequel. These guys, particularly Will Ferrel, clearly are just doing this sequel because they absolutely love playing these characters. And it shows, as most of this script is improv'd from everyone. Especially Ferrel. Harrison Ford didn't impress me as much as I was hoping he would, (he certainly does not have a funny side) but other than that all of the major characters are done very well. Right down to the absurd cameos in the third act. These cameos honestly make the scene in the original where all the news teams fight each other look like there were a bunch of nobodies in it. The fight scene in the sequel and the cameos within is without a doubt the best scene of the movie.
So there ya have it! I felt that this movie was hilarious. Not as good as the original but still absolutely hilarious. If you enjoyed the first you will most certainly have fun seeing the characters you've come to know and love back on screen. However if you didn't enjoy the original then you will not enjoy this one. Also it is a sequel. And yes it is Anchorman but I would strongly recommend seeing the original before this one if you somehow missed it. Some of the characters, particularly Veronica Corningstone, may make no sense at all if you watch this movie by itself. Well her motivations I should say. Ya. Veronica associating herself with Ron won't make much sense if you haven't seen the first one. But if you like comedies or the first Anchorman, go see it. This movie is right there with This is the End for funniest comedy of the year in my book.
The Critique: an absurd and fun comedy very similar to that of its predecessor. Well acted, good one-liners, and just an overall fun experience.
The Recommendation: Fans of the series and of comedies will feel right at home here. However if you don't fall into either of those categories approach at your own risk.
Where to see it: a theater viewing doesn't offer much here past laughing with strangers. This movie is not a visually stunning piece in case you couldn't figure that out.
The Verdict: 8/10 Great
Oscar Talk: Ha. Oscar talk. Ready for ironic hashtag use? #RONBURGUNDYOSCAR2013
Thor: The Dark World (2013): Thor, Loki, and Jane Foster and the gang are back in the sequel to 2011's Thor. This time, a force that was believed to be dead has returned and of course, thanks to the totally creative and original once-every-thousands-of-years-circumstances circumstances, tries to end the universe! But Thor and only Thor can stop it.
So I kinda just poked fun at the movie's story there obviously but despite that, I actually did enjoy myself. The story plays it 100% safe and doesn't stray from the superhero formula that has been established over the years at all, but it was still fun! It delivers exactly what you would want from a superhero movie nowadays. Fun action, a great girl to admire, and some comedy to balance it all out. Even though here the comedy claimed my second favorite actor in the Thor world of the Avengers, Stellan Skarsgard, or Dr. Erik Selvig, who's delegated to the guy who's just insane but is somehow comical in his insanity. Even though his character wasn't like that at all in the original or in The Avengers. Pacific Rim did this type of comedic relief and nailed it with Charlie Day/Burn Gorman and their crazy scientist characters, but Thor 2 doesn't get it quite so well, mostly because Skarsgard doesn't have the comedic timing that Day and Gorman have. But I digress, as this part is not really important to the story. So.... the girl! Well I guess there are two great girls here. Personally I adore Natalie Portman. She is gorgeous and resilient as ever in this. And Kat Dennings is good too as the other girl. Her role is reduced to the right amount, because a little bit of Dennings does go a long way. And Chris Hemsworth is once again fantastic as Thor. They absolutely nailed that acting choice for Thor. Like almost as great as casting RDJ as Iron man. He looks like he's made out of chiseled marble, he's charming, and he's charismatic. In exactly the way that you would picture Thor being. Like RDJ has become Tony Stark, Hemsworth is really becoming Thor in my eyes.
However it's Thor's "crew" that gets pushed to the side here. Their roles are practically nonexistent, and they get even less time to flesh out their characters than the thirteen dwarves do in The Hobbit. Yes The Hobbit is an hour longer but there's more than twice as many dwarves! And Bilbo! And Gandalf! And yet each individual dwarf gets more time than Thor's company. That's ok though because, since this movie is well within the Avengers universe, this really feels (like Iron Man 3) like another sequel to the Avengers. In this sequel the big question that's answered is Loki's fate. As a result Loki gets a lot of screen time and is why Thor's crew gets pushed to the back burner. Which is great for many fans of this movie series. I know a lot of people love the Loki character of this whole thing, and so they'll be glad to see him back in full force. However this is also my single biggest complaint of the movie. I borderline HATED Loki's character arc. I can't talk about it without doing spoilers, but I'll just say that there were several things here that I didn't buy at all. One great moment with his character surrounded by a lot of not-so-great moments. It makes me sad because this was the one part where the movie started getting out of the safe zone and making things interesting, just to be like LOL JK. Not going in this cool direction! Just going to play it safe. Again. (If you think I just did a spoiler, I didn't. You have no idea what I'm referring to if you haven't seen this.)
So I spent a lot of time talking about characters, but that's because there really isn't a whole lot else to talk about. The effects were great. Probably not Oscar-worthy but still good. Asgard was absolutely beautiful to admire, and the cinematography did a great job to make sure you had plenty of time to admire the world created here. I want some side-by-sides of 2011 Asgard and 2013 Asgard, because I think this one may look significantly better than the first one. The costumes are also fantastic, worthy of a mention obviously, as once again Asgardian clothing is beautiful. That's really it. Oh can I just say that the final boss fight makes no sense at all? Like Iron Man 3 and most of the Marvel movies, they create their rules like your supposed to do but then just say screw it! And throw all logic out the window for the final battle. Still, trivial complaints. I mean this movie is exactly what you'd want from a superhero movie, as I said earlier, and is far better than the 2011 original, but I'm still waiting for those elements that Christopher Nolan found in his Batman movies that really make his movies "immortal" to cross into Marvel's world. The only one that has achieved this thus far was The Avengers, but it got a significant amount of help from the fact that nothing like that had ever been attempted before in movie history. Oh and when you remind yourself of the fact that this is in that same universe, you get a lot of plot holes. Like, where was SHIELD when the universe was about to explode here? Or any of the Avengers? One single Avenger makes a very brief appearance in this one, but in a reference sort of way. Which was more than what happened in Iron Man 3 where the only thing we got was a post-credit scene with Stark and Banner having a conversation when it comes to reminding us that all these superheroes are in the same world. But the post-credits sequence here will keep the comic nerds happy more so than Iron Man 3's did with what we are going to see in The Avengers 2. But I'm going to wait for Captain America 2 because that one looks like it's going to explore what happens to SHIELD after The Avengers. As in, they will be around when whatever is threatening the world in that movie is threatening the world. In short, what Marvel is doing is clever, but there are still a lot of flaws. And as time progresses these flaws are going to get worse if they don't plug them up in upcoming movies. And it makes me slightly worried because I feel like they aren't going to be able to plug up these flaws as instead they are expanding the universe with these Netflix exclusive shows. But we'll see in time. Right now it's just speculation.
So that was a lot of writing and kind of turned into a tangent on this entire Marvel universe. Sorry. But ya if you are going to see this movie, you will enjoy it. Just don't analyze it like I am. If you do it may not be as enjoyable. Mindless action. That's a good way to describe it.
The Critique: a stereotypical popcorn flick. Safe and secure, mindless fun.
The Recommendation: comic fans and action fans alike should find something fun here. Oh and Chris Hemsworth takes his shirt off at one point! That brief clip should satisfy the ladies for this one if they hate action movies. But guys, go see About Time if you're looking for a date movie this weekend. Please.
The Verdict: 7/10 Good
Oscar Talk: Don't really see anything coming out of this one, but there may be a nomination for effects.
Ender's Game (2013): The International Military seek out a leader who can save the human race from an alien attack. Ender Wiggin, a brilliant young mind, is recruited and trained to lead his fellow soldiers into a battle that will determine the future of Earth.
So that's the IMDB synopsis. It is one of the longest synopsis I have ever seen for a movie. And see this is the movie's main problem. It is too big for it's own good. This is a classic example of a sci-fi movie that bit off more than it could chew. There's just too many unpolished ideas that don't go anywhere and too many jumps in the convoluted story to really get from point A to point B in a credible fashion. Here's a perfect example: the movie does not even remotely give you the sense of Ender moving up through the ranks. One minute he's a new recruit at battle school then the next he's on the best team within the battle school war games groups then he's commanding his own unit then he's at commanders school being told that he's going to command the entire human fleet! Just like that. Obviously this also creates an awkwardly paced movie with no sense of time whatsoever. A countdown clock is showed at one point but you see it exactly once. But you're supposed to just believe that he's smarter than everyone else he's competing against. Which are the best and brightest that our planet has to offer. I can't forgive this. There could be an entire movie just on the section where he's commanding his own unit, an island of misfit toys, and the turnaround they have. Quick PS by the way I don't feel these are spoilers, because after all the whole premise of the movie is that this is Ender's game against the alien force. Get the name? And I can't even remotely begin to voice and describe my complaints without letting unimportant parts of the story slip. And believe me...the movie views them as unimportant. There's about 15 minutes of movie (if that) with him commanding his own unit.
Let's talk about themes. I've noticed Facebook has been talking a lot about and complementing the fact that the movie nails the main genocide theme that it has throughout the movie. Which is quite true. There was general heartfelt moments (probably the best points of the film) when Ender is questioning the morality of his actions. The problem is that this is not the only theme Orson Scott Card, writer of the novel (of the same name) that this movie is based on, which I have actually read, is trying to convey. Now it is a movie adaption, so I'm definitely expecting many things to be lost here, but that's not the problem. The problem is that they are not lost. There are about seventeen additional themes here that get touched at one point or another: fighting back against bullies, living away from home and feeling homesick, the bond between brothers and sisters, violence in video games, and just the general morality of having kids run the war that they are in, to name a few. Oh that's another thing I should mention....I saw the first possible showing that my theater had of this movie, and it was relatively full. There were a rather significant amount of people that just could not take the fact that the children were talking like adults seriously. And it wasn't just one group or anything. No it was probably about half the room. There's only about one joke in this movie (it is a very dark and serious movie) and yet the room was laughing quite a bit at the characters. That just tells me that this theme of the morality behind using kids to fight our wars was just completely lost on the audience, simply because they just didn't have the time to touch on it in the 114 minute film.
But it's not all bad. The movie is great from a visual standpoint. The fighting sequences are the calling card of the movie, just as they were for the book. While some of the war games games were a little hard to follow and rather chaotic, the later fights are pretty spectacular and gave me chills. This movie is a who's-who for acting talent, and everyone puts in great performances. Even Harrison Ford! The role he was playing actually required some acting, which of course Ford provided. As opposed to the cash-ins that some of his more recent films have been. (I'm looking at you Indiana Jones 4!) However there was almost no character development in anyone. Actually no....there was no character development at all! Ben Kingsley's character is the perfect example. In the book, he's my favorite character, but here he gets next to no screen time. To the point that you can forget that he's even in the movie were it not for a few dramatic stares from him to Ender at various points. However Asa Butterfield (most known for playing Hugo in Martin Scorsese's Hugo) as Ender puts in a fantastic performance, and Abigail Breslin (Zombieland, Little Miss Sunshine) and Hailee Steinfeld (True Grit) also put in spectacular performances. I really look forward to seeing what more these three great child actors have to offer in future movies. But still, this movie is just too murky. Fans of the book will be able to follow, but I fear that those who have no idea what the book is about may find themselves getting lost and asking those with them who have read the book what's going on. Which did happen with me. I went with a friend who had never read the book, and while she did enjoy herself being a fan of sci-fi, she did ask me a few times what was going on because a technical aspect of the film was confusing. And obviously outside of the sci-fi fan base I would definitely say stay away. You will not be able to appreciate what this movie is trying to do if you don't appreciate sci-fi.
The Critique: a sci-fi movie that bit off more than it could chew (didn't I say that earlier?)
The Recommendation: a must see for those who like the book and a solid recommendation for those who like sci-fi. For everyone else though, avoid like the plague.
The Verdict: 5.5/10 slightly above average
Oscar Talk: probably a nomination for Best Visual Effects but I say Gravity beats it out still. Like it will everything else (at least in this specific field)
Carrie (2013): A retelling of the 1970's version (by the same name) based off a Stephen King novel tells the story of Carrie White, a young woman gifted with psychic powers and trying to fit in. However, her overly-religious mother and classmates have different ideas, and all hell breaks loose because of it.
Ok so first thing I'm going to say: I have not seen the original version of this movie. One of the biggest complaints about this movie from the critics is that it is far too similar to the original. To the point that critics are questioning the very existence of this film. But I can't comment on the similarities/differences because I haven't seen the original. Which as I understand is a very good movie and one of the better must-sees for those dealing with bullies (or for those who are ones themselves) and obviously it was good enough to warrant a re-make so....this point will not factor into my final say.
Ok now that that point has been made let's assume you haven't seen either one. So....Carrie. I feel like Stephen King-based movies need to have their own genre, because after 40+ years of Stephen King novels-turned movies, all the ones I have seen (which is a fair amount) all feel the same. Which is sometimes good, and sometimes not. Here? Not so much. What I am saying is that this movie felt outdated while I watched it in the theater today. Which is somewhat impressive when you think about it. But there were just things happening in this that felt like they were bigger issues in the 70's than now, despite a modern setting, and thus I didn't buy at all. Like the people who were bullying Carrie had no motivation to do so (initially) whatsoever. And they quickly evolve their bullying to criminally illegal levels in the span of a few weeks. I mean talk about escalating quickly. As I sit here and write this I'm thinking to myself that this is not as big of a deal as I initially thought, but while I was in the movie, I was just thinking to myself....really? Also the whole part where everyone besides for exactly two(2) students were in on picking on Carrie was ridiculous as well. We are talking like a hundred plus students all picking on someone for no real reason whatsoever besides for the whole concept of a group mentality. There was one person who started it (who was a freaking psychopath in the movie and so freaking evil) and everybody followed her because somehow she was the most popular girl in school. I can buy group mentality taking over for a scene or two, but it can't count as the primary motivation for a hundred people for an entire movie. It just feels like a crutch as opposed to a smart tool used to forward the plot.
But here's the thing: it's a double-edge sword, because the fact that everyone picks on her allows for me to buy her actions in the third act. AKA it DOES forward the plot! Which I can't really talk about without spoiling. Even though it's in the trailers. But because this movie is so unknown (there was virtually no publicity to this movie whatsoever) I feel like it is a spoiler, so I'm going to avoid it. But it is a fucked up third act. The fact that I added the word fuck there tells you just how messed up it is. Just saying.
Another issue I have: Julianne Moore is a talented actress, but she just couldn't get me to buy into her character. I just didn't buy that someone would be as religious yet inherently ridiculous/radical with her beliefs to even be alive at that age much less somehow have had a child. They do explain the origin of Carrie but I still didn't buy it one bit. I mean she (Moore's character) takes one look at a guy and cuts herself how the hell did they even get into the same room consensually?
So far I've hated on character motivations. Probably too much. But when it comes to the fact that it's a Stephen King story I'm allowed to analyze it! Especially as long as The Shawshank Redemption exists. Also can I just say that I feel like a much better movie with a very similar premise is already out there in the form of Chronicle? I would recommend watching Chronicle before watching Carrie. I know Chronicle came out after the original (obviously) but it really hits on the bullying theme just as much if not more so than Carrie. It even has Alex Russell in it! Carrie, that is. He's the incredibly evil popular kid's even more evil boyfriend. A total 180 from being the voice of reason for Dane DeHaan in Chronicle. But there is one thing this movie has....ready for my big plug for Chloe Grace Moretz? Ready or not, here it comes...
So the actress who plays Carrie is Chloe Grace Moretz. If you don't recognize the name, (which is a damn shame if true) she's most popular for playing Hit-Girl in Kick-Ass, as well as Isabelle in Martin Scorsese's Hugo. She is my favorite up-and-coming actress (I call all child actors up-and-comers, no matter how good they are) but she just needs that one movie that allows her to push her career to the next level. Emma Watson got that in the form of The Perks of Being a Wallflower. She was given the opportunity to truly flesh out a character in spectacular fashion, and it has elevated her career into being the current big thing. But I'm still waiting for it from Chloe. She's still the next big thing. But seriously....you need to get on the Chloe Grace Moretz bandwagon. She is without a doubt the best part of this movie, single-handily bringing me back into the movie in the second act. This is when, like in Kick-Ass 2, this movie briefly becomes a high school drama movie, and I was shocked at how much she was able to suck me back into it. And they asked her to do a lot in this movie, like being comfortable in exposing herself in various scenes. You don't see anything, but she still looked very comfortable in her skin, despite the part where she's 16. I bet I felt more uncomfortable watching them than she did filming them. After this movie I'm sold on what I want from Chloe next: a Mean Girls-type high school drama movie. And if Hollywood didn't notice how good she is at that after Kick-Ass 2 they will with Carrie. They better because I want to see this girl in movies twenty years from now. She needs her Perks of Being a Wallflower type movie. Please make it happen Hollywood!!!! Ok Chloe Grace Moretz plug done.
There really isn't anything else to talk about here. The movie looked good. The telekinesis moments looked good for the most part (there were a few that looked fake) and the story had me occupied enough but I mean c'mon...when the best part of a thriller/horror movie is the high school drama portion of it, you are not going to get a good movie. Go watch Chronicle first before you check this one out.
The Critique: Chloe Grace Moretz dazzles, but it's not enough to get past the overall lack of direction in this movie. But still, an average journey. Better than other recent horror remakes....but that's damning with feint praise.
The Recommendation: still a good case study into bullying and bending a person to their breaking point, but now that Chronicle exists and it's so incredibly similar/better....watch that first. But still a decent ride. And a must-see for Moretz fans. (Hey that's me!)
Where to See It: Just wait until this one comes out on DVD and Redbox/Netflix it. It won't take long for this to be on the instant queue.
The Verdict: 5/10 Average.
Oscar Talk; Special Effects maybe. Otherwise I would be shocked to see it anywhere else. But the fanboy within will be rooting for Chloe to get nominated for Best Actress. Absolutely won't happen but I can dream right?
Captain Phillips (2013): Tom Hanks plays Captain Phillips, the captain of a ship in Somalian waters that gets taken over by pirates who hold them for ransom. Oh and it's based off of real events that occurred in 2009, if you somehow didn't know that.
Ok so....good, but not great. That's the sum up of this movie. Tom Hanks is obviously brilliant, and the story is awesome, but there are just aspects here that didn't work for me. For example....the shaky cam. Oh man this is such a crutch for directors used to build tension. It works in the scenes that actually had suspense behind it, but in simple dialogue sequences? I mean I get that they are on the water but there's a way to keep the camera unsteady to simulate the feeling of being on water while simultaneously not making it distracting and disorienting. Paul Greengrass directed this, and I feel like it's important to say that because he has a history of making movies based off of huge real-life events. His previous work was United 93, which I loved. But he forgot to include aspects of that in here. One of which was with the pirates themselves. There's only four of them, but with the exception of the leader, the other three are basically interchangeable. You have the generic angry guy, the generic too-young-to-be-here guy, and the driver. Who I forgot existed even during the movie. This is very different from United 93, which did actually humanize the terrorists to an extent.
Other than those two complaints, albeit major complaints, it was a good movie. Hanks was phenomenal as Phillips, taking a character that starts out as relatively unlikable (an all work no play boss that doesn't identify with his crew) and really fleshes him out and turns him into the hero by the end that you really feel for. The entire ship sequence with the pirates taking over are (in my opinion) the best scenes of the movie. Everything Greengrass did throughout the movie came together brilliantly in these sequences, with an incredible amount of tension built up with the shaky cam and the overpowering score as the pirates used Phillips to search for the crew on the ship. Then once again when the Navy intervenes everything works, but there's a lot of movie in between where it just didn't do it for me, leading to an incredibly uneventful second act. Also Catherine Keener is in this, playing Phillips wife. This is way too big of an actress to have in exactly one scene in this movie, so I'm guessing there was a whole "how the family is reacting" portion of this movie that got taken out due to time. And the movie is still too long. Greengrass definitely could've benefited from cutting out like another 20 minutes in here, particularly in the awkward second act where the pirates and Phillips are in the lifeboat being chased by the ship they were just on. Seriously, there was like a 10 minute chase sequence on the ocean in the middle here that was relatively unnecessary.
Ok so I know it sounds like I'm hating on this movie, but it was still good! The story is absolutely phenomenal and Hanks is brilliant, but there's just too many bad directoral decisions in this movie complement with an awkward middle act that prevent it from crossing that threshold into great. But it was still enjoyable.
The Verdict: Hanks dazzles in a suspenseful retelling of the first American piracy incident in two centuries, but not without its flaws.
The Recommendation: the younger crowd that doesn't necessarily care about modern events retold on screen won't find this enjoyable, but the older crowd most certainly will. I would still recommend it in general. Oh and a must-watch for Hanks fans. This may not be his best performance, but it was still very memorable.
Rewatchability: Moderately Low
The Verdict: 7/10 Good
Oscar Talk: Best Adoptive Screenplay, Best Actor, Best Picture (only because of the massive field)
Gravity (2013) A medical engineer (Sandra Bullock) and an astronaut (George Clooney) work together to survive after an accident leaves them adrift in space.
Wow. Just....wow. It is absolutely incredible what you can do with movies nowadays. There is no way anything like this is even attempted just a few years ago. This movie is a technical masterpiece. Not just in its special effects, which makes Inception look like it was done with sock puppets, but also in its sound editing, and, most importantly of all, its cinematography. I have no idea how this movie was shot. Absolutely none. I tried investigating this after I watching, and was left more confused because of it. At one point I was even contemplating the thought that maybe they went up into space to shoot this. Well the answer to that is no. No they did not. I don't like using absolutes, but I will make one here: this is the best depiction of space that has ever been seen in a film. Nothing is even remotely close here.
So I will try to avoid spoilers, but I must talk about the first 15 minutes. Director Alfonso Cuaron is an absolute genius here, (well he is for the whole movie but that's irrelevant) as he does an incredible job using technical aspects of moviemaking to show the vastness of space. He throws almost every rule of cinematography out the window and brings us a single wide shot for 15 minutes. This wide shot expertly and flawlessly takes us back and forth between Clooney, Bullock, Earth, space, the sun, the space shuttle they are around, the accident, and everything in between. Man....the accident. This scene left me absolutely breathless. I'm not going to talk about it but man....watching explosions in space is a spectacularly terrifying thing. Another technical marvel were the flawless transitions between 3rd and 1st person views. Actually, there was no transition. It was a single take from 3rd person to 1st person and then back to 3rd person. And this is not an easy thing to do. It's not just CGI here, as sound has to get in on the fun as well. And man...it all comes together so beautifully that I was left sitting in my seat for a solid 5 minutes afterwards just trying to digest what I saw.
The acting is outstanding as well. George Clooney is essentially playing space Danny Ocean, but since I LOVE that character, that is certainly ok for me. And Bullock really holds her own here. There are a couple (like 2) lines from her that feel a little forced but I quickly moved on from them. This is my one and only complaint about this movie. Oh, you know what else was beautiful? The sound editing. Everything about the sound in general. This movie was not just gorgeous to look at, it was gorgeous to listen to as well. There's even a score! And it's a pretty good score too, doing exactly what it needs to do to set up the mood.
Overall, as I said, this movie is a technical masterpiece. I know there are so many movies left to see this Oscar season, but man its going to take a hell of a masterpiece to dethrone this movie as my frontrunner for best picture. The only thing that might hurt it is how early it still is. Ya. Go see it.
The Critique: the best space film ever made. A modern masterpiece that puts on a clinic for how good movies can look in this modern digital age.
The Recommendation: A must-see for anyone, whether you like movies or not.
Where to See It: For the love of God, see it at a movie theater. In IMAX 3D, if you are fortunate enough to have one of those. If not 3D, as this certainly added to the sensation of viewing this.
I'm going to add two things here nestled in between the verdict. One will be here forever (Rewatchability) and one is here just for the Oscar season.
Rewatchability: Very High
The Verdict: 10/10 Perfect
Oscar Nominations: Best Picture, Best Director, Cinematography, Sound Editing, Sound Mixing, Special Effects (easy win...could even beat Avatar if they came out in the same year)
Rush (2013) The true story of the rivalry of Formula 1 racers James Hunt and Niki Lauda from the mid 70s.
I had high hopes for this movie going into it. After reading some of my more trusted critic's reviews, claiming that it is Ron Howard's best film and such, I was excited. I think maybe...too excited. I was asking for greatness, and all I saw was good. So....let's do two paragraphs. One for what I liked and what I didn't.
What I liked: this movie requires no knowledge of Formula 1 racing. Far and away the best part of the movie is the part where it does a spectacular job making the world of Formula 1 make sense without obviously holding your hand. Another great thing is the acting. Chris Hemsworth is great as James Hunt, but the man who deserves all the conversation is Daniel Bruhl as Niki Lauda. He steals the show in this, to the point that I wouldn't be surprised if I'm asking for an Oscar nomination for him at the end of the year. He plays a character who's an asshole, to the point that he could've faded into the shadows as the "bad guy". But instead he turns this character into a very likeable person. To the point that I was rooting for him come the final showdown. He puts in an incredibly memorable performance. Additionally, this movie is beautifully shot. The racing scenes were breathtaking, and the crash sequences had me cringing in my seat.
What I disliked: remember the part where I said I was rooting for Lauda at the end? Ya this was the biggest problem. Think of every sports movie you've ever seen. There is an incredibly obvious character or team that you are rooting for. This is completely nonexistent in Rush. About halfway through the movie I realized that I had NO idea who we were supposed to root for. The playboy James Hunt was not the most likable of characters, and Lauda was an asshole but thanks to the brilliance of Bruhl he becomes the most likable character, and given what happens to him you can't help but root for him. But Howard is constrained by what really happened here so....ya. I'm trying not to spoil here even though it's not since the movie is based on real events. My other major complaint is that OLIVIA WILDE IS TOTALLY UNDERUSED IN THIS MOVIE. I mean c'mon guys! She actually was a really interesting character here, playing Hunt's wife. There was an attempted story arc between her and Hunt and the playboy persona Hunt has, and then how Hunt deals with his sexual desires but then oh! Nevermind. They split, Hunt goes back to how he was, and Wilde is delegated to random clips of her watching the final showdown from a TV set. C'mon Hollywood! Olivia Wilde is so talented!!!! And beautiful. She steals the show in everything she's given a chance to do so in. GAH! Hell Jessica Biel gets bigger movies than Wilde. They look so similar but Wilde is 1000000x better when it comes to acting. Why? Ok this has turned into a total Olivia Wilde fanboy rant so I'm going to stop now.
So I think I am going to switch my initial statement. I was expecting perfection, but all I got was greatness. That is probably pretty accurate.
The Critique: a fun, exhilarating sports movie with interesting character development. A very entertaining way to spend 123 minutes of your life.
The Recommendation: There is something here for anyone. Might be one of the better date movies out there right now. Well Don Jon is a thing but if your GF doesn't like porn I would strongly discourage that choice. But again if you're looking to have fun you will definitely find it here.
Where to See It: See this one at the movie theater. The racing sequences are amazing on the big screen.
The Verdict: 8/10 Great
Prisoners (2013) Hugh Jackman and Jake Gyllenhaal star in this mystery-suspense thriller filled with twists and turns.
First of all apologies from my end for the lateness of this review. My Saturday was insane and as a result I did not have an appropriate amount of time to formulate my thoughts for this review. But....better late than never right?
This movie was fun. A lot of fun. It is a classic who-done-it flick, with a lot of twists that are quite impressive and (for the most part) unpredictable. Additionally, it is masterfully acted. This is without a doubt the best part of the movie. Honestly, if you are a fan of movies, I would strongly recommend seeing this for nothing else but the acting. There is a clinic on this in here somewhere. Jackman and Gyllenhaal was great, but the man who stole the show was Paul Dano. If you are asking yourself who Paul Dano is, watch There Will Be Blood. That was one of the most memorable acting performances I've seen in recent memory. And he was just as memorable in this movie, despite being in darkness for a large portion of the movie. Certainly blew Ryan Reynolds in Buried out of the water. Sorry Ryan. My biggest problem with this movie was its length. It is waaaaay too long at 153 minutes. And there's a completely unnecessary and unbelievable and forced FOURTH act. I really wish that they had not even included this ending. Which is a shame because I saw reviews of critics praising the ending but man I just didn't see it at all.
Honestly, there's not a lot to say here. I don't want to spoil anything, because the whole purpose of a who-done-it flick is to not know what's happening. It is well written, with a lot of great themes prevalent throughout the movie, despite being rather formulaic in its events. It is well acted, with everyone showing up and putting in great performances. It's pretty memorable, but it is definitely not going to show up at the Oscars. Still, I would recommend it.
The Critique: a classic and fun who-done-it. Overlong and mostly lacking memorability, it is still a good way to spend 150 minutes.
The Recommendation: If you like mysteries, you will LOVE this movie. If you like acting, this movie is a clinic. If you have no interest in either, you probably aren't reading this review.
Where to see it: seeing it in a movie theater did not add to the experience. Redbox or Netflix will work just fine.
The Verdict: 7/10 Good
Insidious Chapter 2 (2013) A direct sequel of the original, Chapter 2 picks up right where Chapter 1 left off, with the entirety of the original cast returning to find out the truth about who is the lady in gray? Sound interesting and haven't seen a trailer? Check it out! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fBbi4NeebAk
So I liked this movie. I liked it a lot. Something to say right off the bat: I STRONGLY recommend seeing the first one before you see this one. You will feel lost throughout this movie if you try to just jump into this story. So throughout the review I will compare the two. It would be impossible not to do so. By the way I'm not sure if you caught it before but I said story. One of my main complaints against the first one was that it did not have a very coherent story. Well, they do a far better job with the story this go around. There are some plot holes (like, and this isn't a spoiler because it's pretty vague, but what happened to the baby in the ENTIRE second and third act?) but they are far fewer this time around. So that's good. Another cool thing about this movie is that it has a very unique and interesting concept. To quote IGN's review of Chapter 2, this movie is not afraid to explore its mythology. It explores many of the points that the first movie brought up, as well as the consequences of the final scene of the original. (Remember what was in the picture at the end?) What results is a slightly more believable movie, but the side effect is a far more predictable movie. The suspense and scares are created through the ol' fashioned 'don't open the door!' type scares as opposed to 'what is gonna happen next?' which is a far scarier scare. I don't think that's grammatically correct but whatever. From what I have heard, The Conjuring does that second scare very well. I bring this up because James Wan directed both of these movies. Because of this, the critics are struggling to not compare the two because this is Wan's next horror flick after that. Fortunately for me though, I don't have to because I haven't seen The Conjuring! Yay!
Brace yourselves: here comes my brief Patrick Wilson plug. This is my man-crush. He is so talented and gorgeous, and I have loved everything he's done thus far in his young career. And this is quite possibly the best performance I have ever seen from him. There were times when, at the height of the scares surrounding his character, I had to remind myself that it was Patrick Wilson I was seeing on screen He was so good!!!!! Oh right, there were other actors in this as well. Rose Byrne is great too. She is an extremely underrated actress. Barbara Hershey puts in a good performance, as well as the "comedic relief" ghost hunters. They had several very funny exchanges. That's another thing this movie has going for it: there's more comedy to offset the suspense. But Wan found the perfect balance here to ensure that there's comedy to ease the tension, while simultaneously not having the comedy become a distraction. But overall, the acting is great. Everyone takes this movie's concept very seriously, and it shows on screen. One thing that was sorely missing to me though was that the score. In the original the score brought something terrifying to the movie, and Tiny Tim's Tiptoe through the Tulips was and still is one of the best song selections in a movie in the history of mankind. That was a joke at over-exaggeration if you couldn't tell. But it was a great element of the original! Here however, music takes a backseat. Tiptoe through the Tulips does not make an appearance in the film at all, despite showing up in almost every piece of advertising. I was kind of shocked by this.
Still, at the end of the day, you go to a scary movie to be scared. And this movie certainly delivered in that aspect. So, as I discussed in my review of the original, I can forgive some of the plot holes this one contained. I was just glad to see that there were fewer of them. In short, if you are a fan of Insidious 1 you will enjoy Insidious 2 just as much. Or more, in my case. And if you were on the fence with Insidious 1....this one will probably win you over. It was a fun time.
The Critique: a fun, scary horror flick with a rather interesting premise. One of the best horror films of the last few years. Excluding The Conjuring.
The Recommendation: this is a bulletproof plan to cuddling guys, so take advantage of it! Also any horror fan or Insidious fan will find themselves right at home with this movie.
Where to See it: the movie theater is the place to go for this one. There is nothing like being scared with a room full of people.
The Verdict: 8/10 Great
Now to try to figure out how to sleep....