Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Pirates of the Caribean : The One With Mermaids

I recently took my younger kids to see Kung Fu Panda 2, but apparently I don't know how to tell time and we were an hour late so we caught another sequel movie instead: Pirates of the Caribbean 4 (I don't remember the suffix to the title)

So what's new in the latest installment? Zombie sailors, Blackbeard, Penelope Cruz, mermaids, and the Fountain of Youth. I can't really complain about this movie. I got pretty much what I expected, another action adventure pirate movie featuring Jack Sparrow.

This movie was entertaining, but I felt it was missing something. I didn't think the newest villain was very intimidating or scary at all. Barbosa, Tom Hollander, and the Davey Jones Octopus guy were all much more convincing bad guys. I also had a hard time buying Penelope Cruz in her role, but I'm not even sure why.

The zombie guys were just for show and didn't really contribute to the story at all. All of these movies are starting to run together for me now and I am having a hard time differentiating them. I know that makes me sound like an old guy or at least apathetic. I don't want to get too picky with this movie. It is what it is and I think most people know what they are getting with the Pirates franchise.

I can't blame Johnny Depp for milking the series. I'd sign on for 10 installments if I were in his shoes. I give this fourth Pirates movie 6.8 stars. I still think the ride was better.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011


I'm a big fan of MMA so I was looking forward to seeing Warrior. This movie may appear to be about a mixed martial arts tournament, but it is really a drama about the strained relationship between two brothers and their father. I was pleased that this movie really delivered.

The acting was amazing. Nick Nolte has redeemed himself from any prior mugshot disgrace he brought on himself in his personal life. Ironically, he plays an alcoholic with an abusive past. His young family ran away from him 10 years prior. He later cleans up his life and stops drinking, but his sons still want nothing to do with him. It's heartbreaking to see him try so hard to be accepted and forgiven, but they refuse to open up to him.

I like inspirational sports movies, but I am usually disappointed by them so I didn't get my hopes up too much for Warrior. There were really only a few minor things that bothered me. 1) excessive shots of spectators cheering towards the end of the movie and 2) the fake premise that these two brothers with such little experience would make it into such a prestigious tournament on such short notice, 3) The abrupt conclusion. Aside from those little details, I loved it and can't complain.

The fighting is entertaining, but the tension between the family members was incredible. The acting was great. I didn't even recognize Tom Hardy in this movie. When I looked it up to see who the actor was for the younger brother, I was floored.  He was one mean dude and looked like he had packed on a ton of muscle for the role. I am impressed with how versatile of an actor he is.

If you liked Forever Strong, Glory Road, Miracle, Rocky, The Rookie, Remember the Titans, Karate Kid, etc. then you will like Warrior. It 's a sports drama like those other movies, but it is even better.

If you are a woman who thinks you would be turned off by watching men beat each other up, you will probably still enjoy this movie. I give Warrior 8.4 stars and it is definitely one of the best movies I've seen this year.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Of Gods and Men

My Dad introduced me to foreign films as a kid. He would regularly invite me to go to the international cinema or would bring home foreign videos to share with our family. As a result, I have seen my fair share of artsy foreign films and am fairly open minded to them. Recently the movie Of Gods and Men or "Des hommes et des dieux" if you prefer, was recommended to me on my Netflix account. I decided it was time for a little more culture since I've been watching so much Hollywood tripe lately.

This movie is about several Catholic monks serving in Algeria who chose to stay at their mission despite threats from Muslim extremists who were terrorizing the area. The film does a good job of showing how their concern for the locals and their commitment to serve helped them make the decision to stay instead of leaving as the government suggested they do for their own safety.

First of all, I have respect for this story since it is based on a true story, but it was very hard to watch since it was so slow. I don't mean it was slow, I mean it was S L O W. There were so many scenes that consisted of nothing but a camera slowly panning across the countryside or of men walking or working with no dialogue. The most exciting parts for me were when I recognized Michael Lonsdale from Moonraker and Lambert Wilson from The Matrix.

My younger kids came in my room while I was watching this film and they plopped down on the floor excited to see a video. They asked what it was and I told them it was Captain America. It was one of the best practical jokes I have ever done. They kept watching these long boring scenes with the actors speaking French for 15 minutes before they finally questioned me. I finally burst out laughing and most of them left the room at that point.

This is a good film, but I suggest you watch the trailer since it is more concise and actually does a good job of summing up the film in a few minutes as opposed to two hours. I give Of Gods and Men 6.9 stars, but beware, it is very slow.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Captain America

I recently saw Captain America and I liked it. In a world where comic book and superhero movies are released every 4 hours, I felt this one was better than most. I will now share a detailed summary and some of my insights about the film.

I liked the vintage 40's feel this movie had. It kind of reminded me of The Rocketeer which starred Jennifer Connelly. I later realized that both of these films were directed by Joe Johnston. Speaking of the Rocketeer, did you know that Melora Hardin who plays Jan in the Office was the lady singing in the night club scene in the Rocketeer? I've been watching old episodes of The Office lately and had forgotten how funny they are. I don't know what to think with Steve Carrell leaving. He's has had a few good movies, but I thought Dinner For Schmucks was lame.

Anyway, back to Captain America. Hugo Weaving plays Red Skull and he does a good job as the villain, but I will always see him as Agent Smith even if he has a red prosthetic face or long Elf hair. Speaking of Lord of the Rings, I'm excited to see the Hobbit prequel when it finally gets made. Guillermo Del Torro was assigned to direct it at one point but he backed out. It would have been interesting to see his stylized touch applied to Tolkien. One of the scariest characters Del Torro introduced was the white monster who has eyes on his hands from Pan's Labyrinth.

When ever I hear that movie title, it reminds me of Labyrinth staring David Bowie and Jennifer Connelly. Well it looks like I have come full circle to Jennifer Connelly again with my random thoughts so I guess it's time to end my comprehensive review of Captain America.

I give Captain America 7.4 stars. It was pretty good.

Monday, September 12, 2011

"The Book Was Better"

When speaking about movies, I frequently hear people say "the book was so much better than the movie". Although this may be true in most cases, I think it is usually a fair assumption that the book is always better than the movie so it doesn't really need to be said. In other words "No Doy!"

I've heard people say this about The Davinci Code, Angels and Demons, Harry Potter, Inkheart, and The Sum of All Fears just to name just a few. I'm sure I will also hear this when The Hunger Games and Atlas Shrugged are released.

If you find yourself ready to tell someone that a movie was not as good as the book, you may want to hold your tongue. Making such cruel and reckless statements not only hurts the feelings of everyone who was involved in the making of the film, but it also shows that you have a superiority complex since you think the way you imagined it in your mind is much better than how the director and movie producers were able to.

I am usually able to avoid this situation altogether because I don't read books for entertainment. I am ashamed to admit that the last book I read for entertainment was probably The Grapes of Wrath back in high school. By the way, Henry Fonda was great, but Steinbeck's book was better than the movie. See how that makes me come across so snooty?

Please stop saying this. It is not fair to compare books to movies. It also makes me sad when I hear this statement since it reminds me of yet another book I was too lazy to read. By the way, if you can recall any movies that you think were actually better than the book, I'd be interested to know which ones they were.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Cowboys and Aliens

I recently saw Cowboys and Aliens and am unsure if I really liked it or not. I still have mixed feelings about it. I admire the fact that the movie tried to mix two genres that have no business being together. Aside from Westworld and one of the Back to the Future movies, I am not aware of anyone mixing Westerns with Science Fiction. Jon Favreau does so with this movie and risks either failing or finding a new combination that works like peanut butter and chocolate. Unfortunately, this movie is not a Reece's peanut butter cup.

I liked the Western aspect of the movie and actually would have been fine just watching a western with the cast. Daniel Craig plays an outlaw of very few words who wakes up in the dessert and doesn't know who he is or how he got there. He has a large metallic bracelet/shackle on his wrist and doesn't know what it is until the town is attacked by spaceships and it is activated and he is able to use it as a weapon.

Harrison Ford plays a crusty old cattle rancher who pretty much runs the territory. Olivia Wilde is a mysterious woman who's role is not revealed until late into the movie. They join forces and form a posse with Craig and other townspeople in an attempt to fight against the aliens who have been abducting their family members.

There are many unanswered questions in this movie but even worse, I had a hard time buying the cowboys defeating so many CGI alien monsters with such advanced technology and weaponry. The concept behind this movie was risky, but it had some potential. I can't really put my finger on what turned me off, but I think it would have been much better if they left the aliens out and that is coming from someone who loves alien movies. I give Cowboys and Aliens 6.7 stars. Wait for it to come out on video.
Large Association of Movie Blogs