Monday, December 29, 2014

Into The Woods Review: Into The Padded Ending

I shouldn't be so negative about this.  There were things to like.  The acting was wonderful.  Everyone involved had amazing songs.  The story was engaging.  If the movie ended at the 90 minute mark, it would be great!  Except it didn't.

And then there's Johnny Depp.  Normally I like the guy.  He's quirky and generally fun to watch.  So, what do they do in this movie?  Why make him a pedophile!  Because why not?  I know.  I'm being unfair.  But I say listen to his song as the Big Bad Wolf.  He's singing about how wonderful her young flesh is.  Listen to the way he sings it.  I know he was singing about eating her.  But I dare you to listen to that song and not get just a little creeped out.  Because it is more than a little sexual.

Oh God the ending.  The entire story is driven by the Baker and his wife wanting to have a child.  One would think that once they have said child and everyone is happy, the movie should be over.  I mean this is a fairy tale story.  I know this because it has Cinderella, Rapunzel, Little Red Riding Hood, and Jack and his Beanstalk.  So why didn't the movie end?  Why did this movie have to be so depressing?  If it had ended after Act II, I would've called it a cute little movie with some great music and memorable performances by all involved.  But since the movie continued and basically made everything pointless, I now have issues.

Here's where I spoil it so don't read further if you don't want it ruined.  If you want my conclusion, wait for the rental.  Save your money.

Red Riding Hood: It goes through her normal story.  She goes to grannie's house.  She's eaten.  She's saved.  The end.  Except here she has her family killed and she has no place to go.  So she goes to live with the Baker.

Jack: He gets the giant's gold.  He kills the giant by cutting down the beanstalk.  Happily ever after.  Except now with the giant's wife coming down a second beanstalk and killing everyone in the village, he now doesn't have his beloved cow and his mother was murdered.  So he goes to live with the Baker.  Because hey, why not?

Baker and his Wife: They got the mcguffins and broke the witch's curse.  The witch who we thought was just evil, turned out to not be so bad; overbearing and sociopathic to be sure, but still kinda likeable.  Baker and his wife had a baby.  The witch got to be young again.  And everything is right with the world.  More or less.  Except that isn't the end of the movie.  The wife cheats on the Baker with Cinderella's prince.  (more on that coming up)  And then she falls down a cliff and dies.  Uhm... symbolism?  Because the Baker has to raise a baby alone and that's what happened to his father and why his father ran away?  You know what?  No.  Stupid ending.  I hate it.

Cinderella:  She has the horrible step-sisters and terrible step-mother.  She meets her fairy godmother.  Ok that was changed to the ghost of her dead mother.  She gets a dress and gold slippers.  With high heels but whatever.  And yes gold and not glass.  She meets the prince and they fall in love and live happily ever after.  If ever after is about a week.  The prince is a philanderer.  She leaves the prince.  And goes back to being a simple cleaning lady living with the Baker because hey everyone else is! 

The Witch:  Yeah she kills herself.  I still don't know how.  She throws some magic beans around.  It creates a tar pit and she gets sucked in.  I still don't know how that happened.  I guess it's one of those "It's magic.  I don't have to explain it." type things.

The ending was horrible and it ruined the entire movie.  The entire story was around this quest to break the curse on the Baker so he can have a child.  Only to tack on this pointless and really depressing ending for no good reason.  It dragged the movie on and made it unnecessarily grim. 

And what is the lesson of the story?  Don't wish for things?  Don't try to be better than you are?  Just accept your lot in life and shut up about it? 

If you really want to see it, wait for the rental.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

The Hobbit Battle of Five Armies Review: No False Advertising

The title says it all.  There was a Hobbit.  There were five armies and they were all fighting each other.  For about 2 1/2 hours.  There really isn't much to say about it.  It's a 2 1/2 hour climax to the previous two movies.  All the cliffhangers from Desolation of Smaug are tied up in a nice little bow and it comes to a satisfying conclusion.  If you took the journey from the beginning up to this point, you will leave satisfied.  If you haven't, then there's no point.  You won't know the characters.  You won't know why they are there.  You won't understand the development of the characters.  You won't understand what the conflict is about. 

I will say that the visuals are hit and miss.  Sometimes they are just wonderful.  Other times it's painfully obvious it's a green screen.  I don't see any point in seeing this in 3D.  Yeah it would be cool to see Smaug in 3D with all the fire.  It will be cool to see the diamonds flying around.  But it's two scenes in a 2 1/2 hour movie.  You tell me if it's worth the extra money. 

The ending basically follows the book.  I read the book.  And it's the worst ending to an adventure I've ever read.  Bilbo gets knocked in the head and when he wakes up, the fight is over.  At least in this we see the action.  So this is a rare time the movie is better than the book.  At least in this regard. 

Of course the padding gets tied up too.  And it ends as expected.  If you read the book it is even more obvious.  I didn't initially like all the padding but with some time to reflect on it, I won't say I like it, but I understand why it was added.  It gives depth to characters that in the book never got.  In the book, Bard is just a guy.  He has no story and we wouldn't ever know his name if he didn't kill Smaug.  At the very least in the movie we see him as a family man with a loving wife and great kids.  He has a family history with Smaug and his family's reputation is in the toilet because his grandfather failed to kill the dragon.  Is it believable, kinda.  Is it better than nothing?  Absolutely. 

The same can be said about Kili.  The dwarves in the book have very little characterization.  Fili and Kili are the youngest and they are Thorin's nephews.  That's the only real character they get.  Now Kili has a love triangle.  It gives him a chance to show a different side.  Was it what I would've done?  No.  But in hindsight, I understand why they wanted to give at least some of the other companions an arc. 

That's about all I can say.  It's a great conclusion to an epic tale.  It's not a stand alone movie.  You have to see the first two.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Nightcrawler Review: Yellow Journalism at is Yellowist

I have a lot of respect for Jake Gyllenhaal.  I can't spell his last name, but he's a great actor.  It's so rare he plays in cash grab movies.  I know he did Prince of Persia and Day After Tomorrow but still... My point being I really like his acting and I really liked this movie.

I'm a little at a loss for how to describe the movie because it's one of those movies where if I say anything about it, it could detract from the movie.  I'll try to be vague.  Louis Bloom (Gyllenhaal) is a hustler looking for a career.  One day he happens to see a horrible accident and meets Joe Loder (Bill Paxton) who is a freelance videographer, or "nightcrawler" who makes his living filming accidents and such to sell to local news outlets.  Feeling inspired, Louis decides this could be his calling.

That's all I can say about it without giving away integral parts of the movie. 

The movie is awesome.  The film work is great, there are some strong performances by Gyllenhaal and veterans Bill Paxton and Rene Russo. 

Movies like this are frustrating because I just can't talk about it.  It gives too much away.  And I'm dying to talk about it with someone.  There are some great themes and characterizations that should be discussed.

This is a movie worthy of your time and money.

Friday, October 10, 2014

The Judge Review: The Virdict Is In

Oh it's been a while since I've done a movie review.  Mostly because of a lack of any interest for the last few months.  There really hasn't been anything to get too excited over.  This one on the other hand had quite a good amount of buzz behind it.  Mostly for the stellar cast.  Unfortunately, the cast is the best part of the movie. 

The movie is just so.... average.  There's nothing wrong with it.  But there's nothing that really stands out either.  Unless you just have to see Robert Duvall pooping himself.  In way more detail than I ever wanted to see. 

The acting is top notch.  Robert Duvall steals the show and Robert Downey, Jr. is of course brilliant.  But that's really where the praise for the movie ends.  Everything else is just so vanilla.  It's not boring, but for what it could've been, it's just middle of the road.

The story is fairly simple but told in an overly dramatized manner.  An estranged, but successful lawyer in Chicago son returns to his simple Indiana town for his mom's funeral.  Shortly thereafter, his judge father is accused of murder.

I really don't have much to say about it because it's just so unremarkable.  Expect to see this on free TV.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Guardians of the Galaxy Review: I Am Groot!

Wow.  This movie is fun.  Just a big ball of fun for about 2 hours.  Honestly, I was a little worried about this movie.  It's characters that aren't that well-known, with actors that I personally don't care for in most movies, and this is another one in a long line of Marvel movies that are starting to get a little formulaic.  Throw in the non-stop media barrage about this movie and it gave me some pause. 

But this movie is just so much fun. 

I enjoyed just about everything about it.  It's a total cheesefest, but that's why I liked it so much!  The Marvel Universe movies are about the big action.  Iron Man and Captain America does have that level of humor, but it's mostly about the drama.  Guardians of the Galaxy is all about the comedy.  That's not to say there isn't some great action, but it's secondary to the comedy.  Come on!  One of the characters is a gadgeteering anthropomorphic raccoon hauling around a BFG! 

What worked so well and what pushed this movie along is The Guardians.  Five colorful and well fleshed-out characters that you want to keep following.  They are hilarious.  They are fun.  We're rocking out with Starlord listening to classic rock.  Groot has his one sentence he repeats (I am Groot) that is a standard sentence that means just anything.  And the rest of the team seems to understand instinctively what he's really saying.  We got the sexy green assassin with a tragic past.  And then we have the brick of the team who his species is incapable of taking a joke or speaking with a filter.  If you're making Dave Bautista fun and interesting, you're doing MANY things right.

The biggest reason to see this movie is that it continues the overall story arc with the Infinity Gems.  This one is the purple "Space" gem.  The way they portray it is different from the comics.  This gem if slammed into the ground can destroy an entire planet's ecosystem and kill everything on it.  That is why Ronin wants it.  He's a genocidal religious terrorist who wants to wipe out all life defended by the Nova Corps.  (When are we going to see Nova by the way?)  All the while we have this story crossing in the path of Thanos.  So this is only going to get better.

Got to see this movie.  It's just a ton of fun.

Stay after the final credits for what could possibly be the funniest and best cameos so far.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes Review: It's World War Ape!

This movie is so good.  Just so good.  I think it has just enough of everything I like.  It has the cheese factor when they have apes with guns riding horses into battle.  I've already sold you on the movie, haven't I?  But believe it or not, there's also a lot of heart in the movie too.  There's some genuine drama.  All the characters are balanced and their motivations are clear.  Even the felt a level of sympathy for the story's villain. 

This is also a movie that got me thinking.  I always love that.  It's enriching.  There's things the movie brings up that require discussion.  What is the nature of conflict?  What does it mean to be a human versus an animal?  At what point did humans stop being animals?  Did we ever stop being animals?  Can we stop conflicts before they get out of hand?  Can any society be built on utopian idealism?  How does one learn to stop hating?  What is it about human nature that yearns for peace but is compelled to war?  In one way this movie gives us an answer but it's not one many will like.  The answer might just be that conflict is unavoidable.  As long as people have differences, there will always be conflicts.  And is that such a bad thing? 

I have a bit of a soft spot for this series.  Rise of the Planet of the Apes was one of my first reviews for this site.  I absolutely loved that movie.  I called it the best movie I'd seen all year.  This one is in good running for that same honor.  The acting was brilliant.  The writing was again just top notch.  I just love a movie that can be a bit ambiguous and gives us some room to think for ourselves.  The villain of the movie is wonderful.  Just like Magneto in X-Men: First Class it's easy to understand why he thinks the way he thinks and does the things he does.  It's not just some character in a black hat reveling in his own evil.  It's a guy (ape) that was systematically tortured by humans and has a very rational distrust and hatred for humans because of it. 

Caesar's motivations are very understandable as well.  He's desperately trying to create a new society.  One built on peace, love, and understanding.  His society seems to only have one written law.  Apes don't kill apes.  He's not trying to be some gallant warrior.  He just wants his little piece of the world and to not be bothered by outsiders into his society.  I'm sure that has to ring a few bells in our own culture. 

I could go into spoilers here but I think it's clear where this is going.  Prejudice and hatred lead to conflict.  It's not hard to figure out what happens. 

But this movie is just so good.

Luckily they are already working on the third installment.  Expect me to gush over another Planet of the Apes movie in 2016.

Hope to see you then.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Transformers 4 Age of Extinction Review: How do you screw this up?

Bay.  What's wrong with you?  At first I thought you were just some meat-head man child acting out your own frustrating arrested development.  Now I think you are a man child with some kind of heroin addiction.  The entire movie is frantic!  It's like a junkie with an itchy finger on the morphine drip.  This isn't a movie.  I almost don't want to review it because... hey why bother.  Nobody made any real effort to making a coherent story, so why should I critique it? 

And who the flying f*** was the villain of the story?  There were about 6 or 7 antagonists.  Am I supposed to just take my pick?  What the hell did you do?  Ever see those magnetic poetry things?  You throw them at the fridge, see what sticks, and hilarity ensues because what usually comes out is just word salad.  That's this entire movie.  It's Michael Bay's free floating stream of consciousness.

How can a movie make less sense than the 1986 animated movie?  And they just keep getting worse.  I swear he can't help himself.  They just keep getting worse. 

And you know what?  You rak diseprin you racist c*** snake! 

The story is a mess.  And my first thought is this:  I do this as a hobby.  I watch movies and analyze the story.  I see what was good and what was bad.  I'm also a 33 year old man.  The target audience for this movie is what... 12 to 15 year old boys?  How are they supposed to know what the hell is happening?  I'll try my best to recap.

The Autobots have been labeled terrorists by the evil rogue agent of the CIA who is working with a private business contractor to sell Autobot and Decepticon bodies for scientific research.  They want to create their own robot army so they can have giant robot wars instead of using soldiers?  There's like one throw away line like that about 1 and a half hours in.  Unless you're really paying attention you might miss it.  I mean it's not like you just labeled all giant sentient robots terrorists and now you want to make an entire new race of them to serve as cannon fodder.  Really?  Slavery illusions in a Transformers movie?

But unknown to them, they are using the "soul" of Megatron to do it so the dead Megatron is actually manipulating all of it to create himself as Galvatron. 

Meanwhile in side plot #1 Mark Wahlberg is a Dad and a really crappy inventor.  He doesn't want his 17 year old daughter to date.  So naturally she does.  And we get insufferably overbearing Dad moments sprinkled through the whole movie.  Because nothing captures the earnestness of planet wide extinction quite like Daddy threatening to murder his daughter's statutory rapist boyfriend.  You see:  Marky Mark made a promise to his dead wife that he would get his daughter to graduate from high school without getting knocked up first.  Question: how did she die?  She died of reason never explained.  I like to think she died when she tripped over her own shoelaces and impaled herself on a garden gnome.

And in Side plot #2 we have mysterious alien giant robot who's named "No Name Given".  And he agrees to trade one of the "seeds" for Optimus Prime.  The seed is basically a tactical nuke that transforms all living matter into what this movie so lovingly called it, transformerite or Transformium.  Or something equally offensive.  I stopped listening after the 10th fight scene in the first hour. And naturally every evil human villain in the movie thinks detonating a weapon of mass destruction would just be dandy.

And don't bother looking at the promotional poster.  I know it has Optimus Prime riding Grimlock.  But you might as well just watch the last 20 minutes of the movie for that 3 minute waste of time.  It'll save you a lot of stress if you do.  And I just love how the Dinobots were included.  They are epic warriors of legend that just happened to be on no name dude's ship.  And of course they won't help until Optimus puts him in the camel clutch and makes him humble.

This movie is s**t.  And of course there's going to be another one.  So look forward to this whole thing just getting worse. 

Bah-weep-graaaaagnah wheep nini bong