Friday, July 29, 2011

X-Men: 1st Class

I recently saw a behind the scenes documentary about the Cuban missile crisis. It was very informative and much more entertaining than what I learned about this event in high school. I liked the X-Men First Class prequel for the following reasons:

1) I thought the casting of the young Dr. Xavier and Magneto was well done. I could see those actors turning into Patrick Stewart and Ian McClellan down the road.

2) I really liked the first part of the movie about Eric seeking revenge against the evil Nazi doctor.

3) The cold war/retro backdrop to the movie was a nice change.

4) This 5th X-Men movie got me thinking about which mutant superpowers I'd like to have. Teleporting, healing, and flying would be nice, but I think I'd be content with the ability to read people's thoughts and have mind control over them like Dr. Xavier. I probably wouldn't abuse that power that much.

I didn't care for all the teen mutants with insignificant roles in the movie, especially the dragonfly winged chick and the sonic screamer kid. (Sorry comic book nerds, I don't remember their names) It also didn't make sense how easily Mystique abandoned Charles at the end of the movie.

I also felt that this movie started very strong but lost steam as it moved on. Even so, I give X-Men First Class 7.6 stars since it was pretty good for a prequel.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Super 8

Super 8 has been on my "to see" list for a while and I finally got around to seeing it last night. This is a movie about a group of  teenagers who make their own low budget movies with a Super 8 camera. While working on one of their productions, they witness a train crash and soon realize that an alien escaped from the train and is roaming their town. They are forced to keep a low profile from the Air Force officials who are investigating the wreck and trying to cover up the incident.

This movie takes place in the late 70's and has an authentic feel to it much like the prior movie I reviewed. I really liked the performance of the young kids who were cast in this movie. I found their teenage camaraderie to be very entertaining, but they could hardly make it through a scene without heavy swearing. I liked the story of them making movies even more than I did the actually movie. I also found it interesting that there was really only one female character with more than two lines in this movie.

This movie was directed by J.J. Abrams and has a very Spielberg-esque feel to it. It features elements of movies like Close Encounters and ET, but this alien was not as cute and doesn't like Reece's pieces. I felt that the movie paid too much homage to prior Spielberg films. There was once scene where I was totally expecting a bicycle to start flying in the moonlight.

The biggest problem I had with Super 8 was how the movie resolved itself. I felt like I had dozed off and missed a couple scenes as the final scene showed the alien leaving earth and returning home in his spaceship he had repaired with car engines and microwaves.

There are some big plot holes and some distracting inaccuracies like a pickup truck driving head on into a speeding 20 car train and demolishing it while leaving the truck only half destroyed and the driver alive. Despite hard to ignore details like this, I still enjoyed Super 8 and give it 7.2 stars.

Friday, July 22, 2011

The Lovely Bones

I rented The Lovely Bones over two weeks ago, but I've had a hard time bringing myself to watch it since I knew it was about a girl who is murdered by a serial killer. It didn't sound like a pick me up movie, but I was curious to see it since it was directed by Peter Jackson and I wanted to know if there would be any Orcs or Hobbits in it.

This movie is entertaining, but it is almost like there are two separate movies. There is the story about the girl's abduction, murder, and how it impacts her family. Then there is also the part about her being in a transition state where she roams the earth trying to bring her killer to justice and comfort her family. The scenes that feature the girl in a limbo state between heaven and earth were weird and reminded me of What Dreams May Come. They were just too busy with special effects and CGI.

This movies takes place in the 70's and has an authentic feel too it. So much so, that it made me wish all the characters would take showers and get haircuts.

There were a few scenes that really bothered me. First, what was up with the scene at the end where dead Susie finally gets to kiss her boyfriend via the weird girl? It was kind of like the scene in Ghost with Demi Moore and Whoopi Goldberg.

Second, was I hallucinating, or did I really see a short comical music video montage featuring the grandma (Susan Sarandon) attempting to do housework while making messes? I felt like I was watching an episode of the Brady Bunch when it showed her trying to do laundry with suds all over the room. It just didn't seem like it should have been included in a serious movie like this.

The casting was very interesting. I have never seen Stanley Tucci in a role like this before and he was super creepy and did a good job as the killer.  I struggled with accepting Mark Wahlberg as the dad in this film, but his performance was still good.  Overall, I can't say I really enjoyed this movie and I'm not sure if it was because of how the movie was made or just because of the subject matter, but I give it 6.5 stars.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

More Movies I'm Probably Not Going to See

It's time for another installment of Movies I'm not going to see. I know we are not supposed to judge a book by it's cover or a movie by it's trailer, but I can tell you right now that I am not going to be seeing any of the following movies:

Arthur- I hated the first one with Dudley Moore and can't imagine myself watching a remake, regardless of how talented the cast may be.

Cars 2- Some animated movies really bug me. I couldn't stand what little I saw of Cars the first time. I'm not really sure why, but it reminds me of a two hour Chevron commercial.

Real Steel- I like Hugh Jackman but this looks like someone tried merging the movies Transformers and Warrior. I don't think I can handle watching Robots fight each other in a ring.

Mr. Poppers Penguins- Jim Carrey can be a funny guy but I don't think his humor is best used with a supporting cast of CGI penguins.

Happy Feet Two- I saw part of the first one as a captive viewer while I was donating plasma. It gave me an anxiety attack. I'm so happy they decided to make a sequel.

I saw the March of Penguins documentary a couple years ago. I shouldn't have to watch another penguin movie for another ten years. I know I've been wrong before when it comes to judging movies, but I'm going to trust my spidey senses on these films.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

The Dilemma

I recently rented The Dilemma which stars Vince Vaughn, Kevin James, Jennifer Connelly, and Winona Ryder. This movie is about two best friends who work together in the auto industry. They get a big break and begin working together on the most important and stressful project of their careers. During this time, Vaughn discovers that Jame's wife is cheating on him. The movie is about how he deals with it and how it affects his relationship with his best friend and his relationship with his own fiance.

First of all, when I see Vaughn and James paired in a movie I am expecting a full blown comedy, but this was a drama with some occasional humorous overtones. How would you feel if you rented a drama starring Anthony Hopkins and Judi Dench and then find out it's actually a comedy? I'm not a big Vaughn fan, but I thought he did a great job of portraying a conflicted and concerned friend. I really bought the close relationship between the two of them.

This movie is directed by Ron Howard. It is not very fast paced and takes a while to get going. I was kind of mad once I realized this movie featured some seriously stressful relationship issues because I just wanted to watch something funny before I went to bed. Instead I got a Bromance that was pretty stressful to watch. I give The Dilemma it 6.4 stars. It's not the best, and it's not that funny, but Vaughn gives a solid performance.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Fast Five

I am not a fan of the Fast and Furious movie series. I think pimping up cars and drag racing is a joke. I also think glamorizing criminal activity is dumb, but I was actually surprised at how much better this movie was than I thought it would be.

This installment takes place in Rio. The main characters are trying to hide from the law and keep a low profile, but they get involved in a job that goes bad and 3 DEA agents are killed. As a result, an elite special forces squad led by Dwayne Johnson (The Rock) is sent down to Brazil to capture them. They attempt to steal 100 million dollars from a drug lord who caused their problem, but he also controls the corrupt police force. They have to deal with the local criminals and the U.S. agents who are both trying to kill them.

The stunts were amazing, but I thought it was funny how no civilians were killed or injured during over two hours of car chases, severe wrecks, and shoot outs. I was also surprised to see a bus full of prisoners roll ten times and become demolished, yet nobody was ejected or killed.  Despite being totally fake on so many levels, somehow there is a more realistic feel to this than many other action/heist movies.

Here are some questions I have after watching this movie:

*What the heck did The Rock do to get legs where his arms should be?
*Why are there are no ugly women in this movie? Homely women need some affirmative action if they are going to get any screen time in these movies.
*Is mission in-freaking-sanity a real word?
*Why do I suddenly have the urge to shave my head and wear a wife beater shirt?

I think the thing I liked the most about this was the action and stunts. It has been a long time since I saw a movie that was this action packed. If you are looking for an exciting movie with a lot of flash, then I recommend Fast Five. It's kind of like a violent Oceans Eleven. I give it 7.3 stars because it's better than what you might expect.
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