Monthly Archives: July 2016

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone movie review

Plot: Harry Potter was just a normal boy….Until his 11th birthday. On that night when he learns he’s truly a wizard, everything changes. He’s brought to a magical school known as Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, makes friends and enemies, and learns there’s something sinister lurking within the school. He must then save the day with his new friends Ronald Weasley and Hermione Granger.

Starring: Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, Emma Watson, Tom Felton, Alan Rickman, Maggie Smith and Richard Harris

It’s hard to imagine just what kind of firestorm phenomenon this series would create. Based on the beloved children’s books of the same names, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone would be the first of many hits throughout the decade. An era of magic that ended in 2011, and started in 2001. With Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them on the way it’s time to look back at a series that captivated the world…Are these movies as good as we remember? Let’s take a look.

The Good

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  • The CHARACTERS
    • The characters for the most part are pretty simple here in this first movie. Harry, Ron and Hermione are established well enough. The minor characters, such as Dumbledore (yes he is a minor here), McGonagall, Malfoy are all interesting as well. The rivalry established between him and Harry seems petty in this movie compared to what it will turn into as the series goes on. For the most part though, the characters are intriguing enough to keep your interest.
  • The WORLD
    • The world of Harry Potter is fascinating. Unlike its counterpart Lord of the Rings, which is indeed for a bit of an older audience for the time, and set in the middle ages or heavily takes from it, Harry Potter is set in more modern times. A contemporary piece rather than period. Fantastic Beasts looks to be more of a period piece than contemporary. The setting up of Hogwarts, Quidditch, magic in general is almost brilliant. This first movie is full of wonder and enchantment….And the world in which Harry lives and interacts with reflects that.
  • The FAITHFULNESS
    • Aside from a few scenes here and there, the movie is surprisingly faithful to the novel. The novel is short, especially compared to the later books of the series. But the movie takes the novel and makes it really work for the silver screen. You read some of these scenes such as the first Quidditch game, Harry and Ron vs the troll, and you hear about Dragons, and Cerberus like dogs, and unicorns and wonder “how would they ever pull off this?” and for the time….it worked. Really well. A lot of people nowadays complain that too much is changed from the book to film….but what one has to realize is that things HAS to change since film is a visual medium and has to be translated differently. And the translation from book to film is rather well done here.
  • The MAGIC

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    • While there is definitely more magical scenes in the book (the imagination of the author knows no limits) the magic shown in the film is memorable and thrilling. High paced Quidditch scenes that make you wonder if there are any rules regarding player safety and why they don’t implement red or yellow cards, an evil wizard after nothing but power and eternal life, giant chess pieces that move and become dangerous when they take each other out, a three headed dog, levitation, a room full of keys, owls, and spells galore. The magic in the movie feels real, and that’s because of the universe this world is built around. JK Rowling did a marvelous job creating such a unique world, and the producers and director did a marvelous job bringing that world to life.

The Meh

  • The PACING
    • Some of the pacing is a bit meh in this movie. The movie DOES take time to establish the world, and sometimes that’s all this movie feels like. Nothing more than a stepping stone to the later movies you know are down the road. At times it feels as faced paced as the Quidditch game you witness, others it feels slower than a troll rumbling down the school hallways.
  • The CLIMAX
    • The “final showdown” between Harry and Quirll/Voldemort is just okay. It’s a lot of word play, a lot of mind games and for some that’s just as exciting as actual action. And for an 11 year old, trying to see reality from lies can be hard. But Harry seems to easily outwit the dark lord. And the way he does eventually win seems like a bit of a cop out….And understanding cop out but a cop out nonetheless.
  • The MUSIC
    • Aside from the iconic theme created by John Williams (of course) the music is just average at best.

CONCLUSION

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone to some is a story they already know. To others, it’s one they don’t want to know. To most, it’s a story that’s just mediocre. Others it’s downright brilliant with no problems whatsoever. For me….it DOES have a few issues here and there. But the issues it has don’t detract from the overall story of a boy who learns he’s part of something much greater than himself. A story that would span at least a decade. One of love, thrills, magic, and wonder. Its’ a good set up to an epic universe. If only we knew just what we had gotten ourselves into with this film.

I’m going to give Sorcerer’s Stone a 4/5. It’s a good film-perhaps even a classic. But it does have a few issues here and there. If nothing else this is a good start to something incredible.

4stars

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Lights Out Movie Review

 

Plot: Siblings Rebecca and Martin are being haunted at night by this supernatural entity. When they all discover that this being holds a mysterious attachment to their mother, they realize that this being has returned to torment the entire family….But the catch? She can only function and attack in the dark.

Starring: Teresa Palmer, Gabriel Bateman and Maria Bello

The Good

 

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This movie makes you as an adult…..Fear the dark. 

  • The PREMISE
    • The sheer premise of “ghost terrorizing family” but with a new mechanic is just brilliant. “Ghost terrorizes family” is nothing new. But the mechanic is. The mechanic? This ghost known as Diana can only be seen in the dark, and is hurt by the light. Anything or anyone that’s in the dark with her? COMPLETELY SCREWED. And there’s an actual in universe reason for her to fear the light as a ghost. That’s also well thought out. It stems from our times as hunter-gatherers who had no choice but to go out at night sometimes. We fear what we don’t know, and we don’t know and can’t see very well in the darkness. Dark allies, dark parking lots, parks, you name it we stay away from anything that’s in darkness. The light makes us feel safe, and this movie does a brilliant job of playing on that fear and anxiety.
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Good well written characters makes for good movie. 

  • The CHARACTERS
    • The characters feel layered and real. The only meh one is the kid but for a kid actor he does okay. Rebecca played by Palmer is an interesting character enough to actually make you care about her, and the mother is a good character as well. You can instantly tell something isn’t quite right in the beginning and then they just kind of hit you on the head with her depression and such. I actually liked Becca’s boyfriend as well. In horror movies like this, it’s easy to just throw away characters for the sake of jump scares, but these guys have personalities and layers to them and that makes them feel real and makes us care about what happens to them.
  • The SCARES
    • When it comes to reviewing horror movies, the scares should be taken into account. If a movie fails to do its job, it wasn’t executed very well. But in this movie, with the producer being James Wan (who is arguably the most important modern horror director of our generation) there’s real tension throughout the entire film. Sure there are these jump scare moments with the loud noise that freaks people out but there were quite a few moments in this movie that had people in the audience including me go “oh holy shit no no nonono”. One young man was leaning out of his seat clutching his hair during the last act. Another girl was curled up in her seat with her knees tucked in her chest. When the tension was building up you could FEEL it in the air. Or perhaps that was because of my theaters surround sound system….
  • The PACING
    • I was never BORED in this movie. There are a few weird jumps in terms of the pacing, but overall it allows you to know the characters enough for yourself to make a few leaps (as in the movie doesn’t think you’re completely stupid who just needs a few good jump scares) and it does a good job building up its universe and the reasoning behind the main characters being haunted and the backstory behind Diana. You feel some sympathy for her, but not enough to where you want her to win. It’s a short movie but doesn’t feel short. The only issue is the ending where it just ends on an odd note. But give what happens….Understandable.

CONCLUSION

Lights Out isn’t your typical horror movie. It isn’t just jump scare fest where you scream and laugh it off. There’s tension throughout the movie, and the sheer anxiety you feel is there throughout the movie as well. The third act is really good, and the build up to that final showdown is near wonderful. It has everything one would want in a haunting horror movie and then some with the added layers to the characters. In the horror genre these days, you really have to stand out. And with its mechanic of “she can only be seen in the dark” and the good characters, this film certainly does.

Lights Out gets a 5/5 from me. A good haunting movie that totally reignites your childhood fears of the dark.

five-stars

Ghostbusters (2016) Movie Review

 

The minute this movie was announced it sparked a world of debate….it launched pissed off nerds who have no life other than to complain to do exactly that….other fans of the original thought this would be insulting to the Ghostbusters name and franchise….But is it really as bad as everyone thought it would be? It opened up to a mere 46 million its first weekend….but the numbers and reviews are slowly getting better and better….so let’s just take a look at this movie and see.

Plot: Paranormal researcher Abby Yates (Melissa McCarthy) and physicist Erin Gilbert (Kristen Wig) are trying to prove that ghosts exist in modern society. When strange apparitions appear in Manhattan, Gilbert and Yates turn to engineer Jillian Holtzmann (Kate McKinnon) for help. Also joining the team is Patty Tolan (Leslie Jones), a lifelong New Yorker who knows the city inside and out. Armed with proton packs and plenty of attitude, the four women prepare for an epic battle as more than 1,000 mischievous ghouls descend on Times Square.

Starring: Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wig, Kate McKinnon, Leslie Jones, Chris Hemsworth, Sigourney Weaver, Charles Dance, and Neil Casey.

The Good

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An air of familiarity….

  • The CHARACTERS
    • Some of the characters stand out more than others. The two standouts are of course Kate McKinnon and Leslie Jones. They had actual characters I wasn’t distracted by who the actors were. They had cool moments, a lot of good laughs, and their action sequences (particularly McKinnon’s) were AMAZING. I’m glad that Patty actually felt really needed and wasn’t just there like Winston in the original. I could really gush about Kate MicKinnon’s character Jillian all day every day. She was just freaking amazing. I loved her humor, I loved her personality, I loved her FREAKING AMAZING PROTON GUN WHIPS. Those were awesome.
  • The ACTION      
    • While the action is a downside to the first film, which is more of a character driven and humor driven story, this film while lacking a bit in humor, focuses (or tries to) on the characters, ghosts, and action. The first film had technology AGAINST IT while this film in 2016-even with production beginning YEARS ago-technology is just available for the taking. The ghosts hold the same creativity as the first film. With some being carnival style ghosts, to pilgrims, to being haunting apparitions. The best action sequence is in the third act, and involves Kate McKinnon and proton guns…..That shoot WHIPS. It’s so cool.
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From this weapon to proton gun whips to grenades….cool weapons here.

  • The NEW TECHNOLOGY
    • This is a plus only a few seem to recognize. With today’s actual real technology it should only serve to improve special effects and sometimes they do. And in films in new time periods it’s important to realize they’ll have upgraded tech than film universes in the 80s or 90s. Iron Man shows this, as does Ghostbusters. Jillian being absolutely brilliant, creates proton guns that shoot out whips, a motion activated weapon that allows Abby to punch ghosts, grenades that neutralize ghouls, and a shredder that completely annihilates them. The upgraded proton packs glow on their backs. Their main weapons appear to be smaller…yet just as hard to control as the original. There’s no talk of crossing beams in this film though. The new vehicle is a Cadillac…And a hearse. Morbidly funny.
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Lookout! It’s a ghost/dragon type! Class 6 easy.

  • The GHOSTS
    • Bouncing off of my previous good thing about this film….because of the new tech, it allows for more and more ghosts to be seen in this film. While that’s cool, there aren’t any that will become ICONIC like with the original. But they’re still neat, and creative with the neon glow, and creepiness being there all the same. There are dragons, carnival ghosts, pilgrims, you name it they had it.

The Bad

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The Jar Jar of Ghostbusters….Oh yeah. I  went there.

  • The CHRIS HEMSWORTH
    • It’s okay to have a stupid comedy relief character in a movie….as long as it’s not Jar Jar Binks…The new secretary for GB 2016 was Jar Jar Binks bad. What the hell kind of secretary doesn’t know how to work the phone? I know it’s supposed to be played off for laughs, that the guy is stupid and the girls big strong scientists but it’s okay to have the secretary man be smart too. In the original the secretary was smart, she was savvy to what was going on around her, she was legit part of the group. They hired her cause of her competence. Hemsworth what were you thinking with this role?
  • The FIRST ACT/PACING/EDITING
    • The entire first act (aside from the AMAZING opening sequence at Aldridge Mansion) is just slow and weird and the pacing seems all over the place. The set up is too slow, the editing a bit choppy…once they get to the ghost of Aldridge Manor/Mansion and after that it picks up for sure. But sitting through that first 10 minutes or so is a bit of an effort.

The Meh

  • The HUMOR
    • The humor is just okay here. Sometimes it works. Others you just wish you had a remote to fast forward through the damn scene. There’s a lot of improvisation here between Wig and McCarthy and MOST of it DOESN’T WORK. Lot of body humor that is funny only to the kiddies as well.
  • The ENDING
    • Not to give away too many spoilers, but the ending is a bit weird as well…it just ends on an odd note…as if the film didn’t know HOW to end so it was like “here….ending”.
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Hmmmmm….Looks familiar. But he was SO cute before.

  • The VILLAIN
    • The villain, known as Rowan…..Kind of boring.

 

CONCLUSION

Was this film worth such controversy, the debates, the “it ruined my childhood!!!!!!” whiners, the complaints the sexist comments, the firestorm the internet created? No. Absolutely not. At the heart of it, this film is HARMLESS. ABSOLUTELY HARMLESS. It wasn’t to be something new, then it’s like someone behind the scenes remembered “crap this is Ghostbusters REMIND THE COUCHDUMPLINGS!” and that’s the main issue. There are times it’s beat for beat the original, and when it is something new, it’s better for it. I walked out fine. Perhaps what the original holds over the 80s kids is just how iconic it is…the theme, the ghosts, the logo…you see that “no ghosts” logo you instantly known that’s Ghostbusters. It isn’t as bad as all that, and actually has a LOT going for it….when allowed to breathe and be its own thing.

For Ghostbusters 2016….I’m giving it a 4/5….It’s a fine movie. It doesn’t insult the original in any way, and is just another iteration for a new audience. If you have kids, take them to this movie they might enjoy it a bit more. If you’re a staunch fan of the original, this isn’t for you. If you go in hating it, it’s not gonna sway you….If you’re on the fence, you’ll go either way. If you’ve been positive about this from the start….good for you. This film simply…is. The original is still there for you all to enjoy. Remember that.

4stars.jpg

Ghostbusters (1984) movie review

Plot: When paranormal activity starts disrupting the lives of New York City, it’s up to a group called the Ghostbusters to save the city before it’s too late.

Starring: Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis, Ernie Hudson, Annie Potts and Sigourney Weaver.

The Good

 

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Okay I can totally get why 70 and 80s kids were terrified of this movie. 

 

  • THE GHOSTS
    • This movie’s graphics leave a lot to be desired. But the DESIGNS of the ghosts were and are still pretty cool. You’ve got the “ZUUL!” Ghost which is iconic, Slimer, Stay Puft Marshmallow Man, and the first ghost of the film the Librarian. These ghosts all leave an impact and audiences clearly remember them to this day.  You actually see the Librarian ghost around 10 min in, and you don’t get to see more of the ghost activity until you’re around thirty minutes into the film. But for what the ghosts are, they hold their own to this day, and like I said, leave an impression.
  • THE CHARACTERS
    • For the most part, the characters are pretty good as well. The Ghostbusters Crew (Peter Venkman, Raymond Stantz, and Egon Spengler) all bounce off of each other in a nice way. And the newcomer Winston Zeddemore doesn’t do much but is okay enough. Each Ghostbuster aside from Zeddemore feels essential to the team, and essential to the plot of the movie.

  • THE MUSIC
    • From the theme music to the iconic horror style music of the 80s, the film’s soundtrack ranges from fun and whacky to eerie in a heartbeat. A perfect fit for the film.
  • THE COMEDY 
    • At the core of the movie, for all it’s mixing of the genres, it’s a comedy. And the comedy is done and handled well. Mostly thanks to Bill Murray and his line delivery. The others have a few good moments too but most of the memorable quotes come from him. Which stands to reasons seeing as he’s almost the de facto leader of the group of misfit ghost hunters.

THE BAD

  • THE ROMANCE
    • There’s this bullshiz romance that goes on between Bill Murray’s character and every other woman he comes across. In particular with Dana, who becomes possessed by the Zuul ghost. You don’t buy their “romance” for a single moment and it’s just painful to sit through. Too bad half the plot is centered on that and the stupid EPA nonsense. Speaking of which…
  • THE EPA SUBPLOT
    • There’s this weird subplot that goes on throughout the film with the EPA. The MEAN OLD GOVERNMENT wants to shut down the Ghostbusters so this dude from the EPA gets this court order to come to the firehouse and check out the GB’s containment area…it serves for easily one of the BEST SCENES in the film….the “Please Magic” scene where we get to see some of the more scarier ghosts such as the return of Slimer and the zombie cabbie, but other than that it’s a subplot that kind of goes nowhere.
  • THE ACTION
    • Yeah there’s little to no action in this movie. For what this movie does to genre (Which is give it a big ole middle finger to it) it completely leaves out the most important one. Action. They MONTAGE OVER THE GHOSTBUSTING which is a pretty big problem considering the build up to the group FINALLY becoming true blue Ghostbusters. There’s a huge reveal of the new GB car which looks cool all decked out, they have the reveal of them in their iconic suits, and they don’t even show them GBing except for Slimer and the climax at the end. THAT’S A HUGE PROBLEM. I hope we see more action in the remake. It looks like we do which is nice. In that way the remake improves on the original. To have the name GHOSTBUSTERS and show next to NO Ghostbusting is kind of an insult really.
  • THE PACING
    • The pacing is kind of all over the place. It’s a bit slow, then all of a sudden it kicks off to them in the library. Then it kicks off to them in the firehouse.  Then it’s slow again. It needs focus, as if the movie didn’t quite know what it was yet. As if it were testing waters while treading it in the deep end. And in the end, the ending of the film somewhat suffers for it. The characters suffer as well. Their personalities are okay, but I feel like we only know these four because they’re ICONIC not because we RECOGNIZE their personalities for who they are.
  • THE GRAPHICS
    • The graphics….it’s not good. It doesn’t hold up. The Zuul ghosts look bad and fake (understandable to be COMPLETELY SCARED SITLESS as a kid by them) but now they just amuse me. The Librarian Ghost still looks nice but Slimer is hardly on screen yet somehow left an impression. The only COOL looking ghost is Stay Puft.

CONCLUSION

When looked at OBJECTIVELY…Ghostbusters is….just okay. It’s average at best. But at the time, it was COMPLETELY NEW AND ORIGINAL. Something sorely lacking in today’s modern cinema. Perhaps that’s why it holds so much sway over those who grew up with it. Perhaps it’s how quotable it is. Or those iconic ghosts. Or maybe it’s the theme song….it’s pretty great. But in any case, as a FILM it’s just okay. As a piece of cinema, it does have its place in cinematic history simply for what it did to genre-giving it a HUGE middle finger to it. It’s a good film, a fun ride. Maybe the new film won’t be as bad as all that…but we don’t know until Friday.

I’m going to give Ghostbusters 1984….a 3/5….It’s pretty average. But in a weird way earned its place in cinematic history.

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What do you think of this cinematic classic? Let me know down below! 

Tarzan (1999) Movie Review

 

Plot: After his parents are murdered by Sabor the leopard, a baby known as Tarzan is taken in by Ape Kala, and raised among her family. Everything changes when three humans Jane, Clayton and Jane’s father come to the jungle….Tarzan learns how to be human, and ultimately has to decide on living with Jane in England, or staying in the jungle.

Starring: Alex Linz as Young Tarzan, Tony Goldwyn, Minnie Driver, Glenn Close, Lance Henrikson, Brian Blessed, Rosie O’Donnell, Wayne Knight.

THE GOOD

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  • THE CHARACTERS
    • From Tarzan to Kerchak the characters are nearly fully realized in this film. This Tarzan is said often to be a full realization to the Tarzan of the famous books. He moves, thinks, speaks like an animal but looks like a man. This Tarzan does things that would kill a living human character, which is probably why there are so many live action films that all feel the same. This Tarzan is completely new. He surfs on trees, he’s the only one to swing from vine to vine, he’s a master mimic. His curiosity at the humans who enter the jungle and at everything they have is understandable and relatable. Tarzan himself is a relatable character.
    • Kerchak and Kala and Terk are all nice characters as well. In this animation rather than the new live action, they’re able to give the Apes personality, they have distinct personality and traits. You feel a connection to them through Tarzan, who is the audience avatar-he’s the one who takes the audience on this journey through the jungle. Kerchak’s journey of acceptance is still something relevant to today. Kala’s journey of loss and love is moving. Terk’s journey of accepting Tarzan as a best friend is nice to witness. Even Tantor is a fun character. Something like Tarzan works more as an animation since it allows the animals to talk. Something that’s taken directly from the books is his ability to talk to the animals-they can’t talk to other human quite yet, but Tarzan does indeed know how to talk gorilla or leopard or python and that’s shown expertly here.
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Surfing on trees is something only possible in animation.

  • THE ANIMATION
    • Something that shouldn’t come as a surprise from most Disney Animations is that the animation here is stunning. The POV shots of Tarzan either swinging through the jungle, or surfing on trees is cool. Probably a cooler thing to witness in 1999 when it was released. The trees Tarzan surfs on were created in the computer, while Tarzan and the other characters were merged into the CGI jungle. Seeing rough animation of him moving like that is fascinating. There are quite a few close ups of Tarzan’s face and the range of expressions that animation can get across is stunning; fear, horror, confusion, shock all in the span of a couple seconds. That’s only something a live actor can ever hope to accomplish. The use of background color of greens and reds and sunset colors is beautiful as well. The animation team’s trip to Africa to study the jungle and silverback’s really paid off.
  • THE MUSIC – INSTRUMENTAL
    •  The music is half and half here so it’ll also go into the bad category. “Strangers Like Me” is the standout hit that never gets old. “You’ll Be in My Heart” which is the lullaby that you can hear throughout the film through instrumentals does get old here and there and at times feels like it’s being shoved into your face. It’s much better done through the motifs you hear throughout the film here and there. “Trashin’ the Camp” is pretty simple and fun. “Son of Man” works as a narrative route which is how the songs work here. However what makes the music work is taking from African roots while keeping it contemporary which is Collins’ specialty. However, most of the lyrical songs are just kind of meh.
  • THE SCRIPT
    • The story of Tarzan is known throughout the world. It was built from the ground up. There’s relatively less dialogue in this film than say The Lion King or Aladdin but it works. A lot of the emotions are shown visually which is a keystone in animation. There are good dialogue moments between Kala and Tarzan, some funny moments with Terk who serves as more or less a comedic relief along with Tantor the elephant. But for the most part the script is anywhere from good to wonderful.
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Honestly after Sabor was defeated I felt sad…She was a cool cat.

  • THE VILLAIN
    • There are two villains in this movie. Sabor the Leopard and Clayton. Sabor was wonderful. She never talked, but she was incredibly dangerous. The way she was animated and moved felt dangerous and alive. She was a real true threat to the Apes’ and to Tarzan. The final showdown between her and Tarzan is not only the real action scene in the film but one of the better scenes overall.

THE BAD

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One of Disney’s most boring villains ever right here.

  • THE VILLAIN
    • Both the new Tarzan and this Tarzan suffer from the same thing; BORING FREAKING VILLAINS. Oh my goodness while the conflict in Legend of Tarzan serves a greater purpose with the slavery thing, the only thing the villain here wants is the Apes for money. While that serves as a threat to Tarzan himself since it’s his family, for the bigger picture it’s a small threat and Clayton is only doing it for the money. Money is one of the weakest villain motivations and it’s something we’ve all seen dozens of times before. We’ve also seen a villain like Clayton a dozen times before.
  • THE MUSIC
    • As mentioned before this also goes into the bad category. Not for anything big just I’m not a big fan of the Phil Collins songs. A few hit the mark like “Strangers Like Me” and “Son of Man” but the rest are just okay. I do understand the fact that it’s Collins narrating Tarzan’s thoughts and feelings which in a way works.

CONCLUSION

Tarzan in the end is a pretty solid movie. It stands the test of time, and as the last film of the famed Disney Renaissance it often gets overlooked. Which it shouldn’t. The animation is of course stunning, the story told in a wonderful way mostly through the visuals, the rhythmic beats this movie seems to possess makes it feel alive, the characters for the most part are great (Jane and Clayton are meh) and Tarzan’s inner conflict is touched upon in the right places for the right amount of time. It’s just a good solid movie with a few problems here and there. But those problems don’t really detract from the experience.

I’m going to go and give Tarzan a 4/5. It’s just a solid Disney movie and the last solid movie they’d make in a while. Films after Tarzan weren’t BAD but they’d never hit that same stride until Bolt or Princess and the Frog came long.

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Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates Movie Review

 

Plot: In this comedy, two brothers, Mike and Dave need to bring nice upstanding girls to their little sister’s wedding in Hawaii. Simply because they’re known to ruin all other family weddings with their shenanigans. They meet Aubrey Plaza and Anna Kendrick’s characters Tatiana and Alice and when they get to Hawaii….Shenanigans.

Starring: Adam Devine, Zac Efron, Anna Kendrick and Aubrey Plaza

THE GOOD

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  • The COMEDY
    • For the most part the comedy works. Some of the jokes though drag on and at points I thought “if I were watching this at home I’d fast forward at this point”. Most of the time though I was laughing out loud and so was everyone else in the theater. Just don’t take your kids to see this movie.
  • The CHARACTERS
    • Normally in most comedies, characters are one note and you know how ish goes down by the end of the film for them. This is no different but it does take time to establish some development and the four mains do have chemistry and form friendships and relationships. They have some depth and layer which shows actual effort which is nice. Gives another layer to the film.

THE BAD

  • The COMEDY
    • I’m also putting this in the “bad” category because again some jokes went on too long to the point where they just either got embarrassing to witness or fell flat. Others just fell flat.
  • The PACING
    • While at times the pacing seemed fine, others it slowed to a near abrupt halt.
  • IT’S PREDICTABLE
    • This isn’t necessarily a BAD thing since every wedding movie now has tried to be Wedding Crashers….And there IS a Wedding Crashers joke/reference in this movie. This movie is rather self-referential and I do appreciate it for that. But you do know how it’s going to play out script wise, scene wise and what’s gonna happen to the characters.

CONCLUSION

This is a pretty short review but Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates is a pretty simple movie with a pretty simple premise. It’s funny when it needs to be, it has good heart, effort in the script, some of the jokes run too long, other fall flat, but the pacing is just okay (not all there) and the characters most importantly are good. You have a good run with these four people and you feel like you’d want them as either friends or at your wedding. The brothers have a good real feeling relationship, the girlfriends have a good relationship, and by the end of the movie you buy what happens to the four of them. It’s a good fine comedy but not as good as say Wedding Crashers

I’m going to give this movie a 3.5/5. It’s a good time for all….Just not for kids.

This isn’t a kids movie at all.

 

3-5stars

The Legend of Tarzan movie review

Plot: It’s been years since Tarzan-now known as John Clayton III-left the African jungles. When summoned back, and with his wife Jane kidnapped, John befriends George Washington Williams, and together the two team up with Apes, Lions and Tribesmen to rescue not only Jane, but the African congo itself….And John must come to terms with who he is in the process.

Starring: Alexander Skarsgard, Margot Robbie, Samuel L Jackson and Christoph Waltz

THE GOOD

  • The ACTING
    • Sometimes the acting feels a bit funny from the side characters-don’t get me started on the villain-but from Tarzan-John-and Jane it’s top notch. Samuel Jackson gets a few moments to shine too. Sometimes his dialogue is super funny, sometimes he chimes in when he really shouldn’t. I adore Margot Robbie and she completely sold me as Jane. Witty, charismatic, full of feisty action as well. Skarsgard holds his own as Tarzan-John. By the beginning of the film, you don’t buy the fact that this man lived his life in the jungle….By the end of the film….oh yeah. You believe it.
  • The CINEMATOGRAPHY
    • The way they shot the African Congo was just gorgeous. Sometimes the camera moves around a bit too much-I’ve mentioned this trick before in my review of the 2014 TMNT film; where a director constantly moves the camera to make something seem interesting when nothing is happening. It happens here; when Tarz-John and George Williams are going over a plan and the camera CONSTANTLY. SPINS. AROUND. It made me nauseas. The shots made the place look beautiful though and so I can’t fault the lesser moments of cinematography too much-it’s only a few scenes and moments where the shots just constantly move.
  • The ACTION
    • When they finally get INTO the jungle, that’s when the movie kicks it into high gear. Fights with Apes, leopards, meeting lions, wildebeest stampedes, hippo outrages, crocodiles, the jungle is a dangerous place, but you get the sense that not only is Tar-John a part of it, but conquered it. EVERYONE ELSE you worry for. Even Jane though partakes in a few action scenes-she’s not someone for Tarzan to just rescue she tries constantly to get out of certain situations. Certainly I like this Jane much more than the Disney Animation Jane.
  • The SOUNDTRACK
    • Another quick mention; the soundtrack. Right from the opening shot the soundtrack is gorgeous and it makes me want to buy it. I just might. It helps you get the feel of Africa and helps put you into the film.

THE BAD

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Sabor the Leopard had more personality than this guy.

  • The VILLAIN
    • I actually had to google this guy before writing this and I just saw the movie yesterday. That’s how boring, stereotypical, and generic this villain is. Sometimes he’s over the top, sometimes he’s underplayed, sometimes he’s just weird. It almost felt like David Yates told this guy “be a bad guy do bad guy things myeah” and left the actor to his own devices. And we got a meh villain as a result.
  • The PACING
    • OH…..My GOODNESS. Okay first the beginning will confuse the hell out of you. It really will. There’s this whole chief vendetta thing with Tarz-John you don’t really buy but kind of get but wish was out of the movie, there seem to be time skips but not very well done time skips, all of one scene where we get exposition backstory for Jackson’s character and his time during the Civil War but you don’t really care that much…the flashbacks felt off and forced. We all know Tarzan’s backstory at this point. It shouldn’t need to be shown here.
  • The SIDE CHARACTERS
    • Apart from S L Jackson’s character, the rest of the side characters are just boring and dead meat walking. Not much else to say here. There’s also not a lot of focus on the Apes so when they die or meet up with Tarzan again while emotional there’s not the same weight with these Apes as with the Disney-Disney could get away with a bit more like having them talk and giving them personalities since it was an animation.

 

CONCLUSION

With yet another remake, this Tarzan is now part of a whole slew of Tarzan movies. How does it stack up? It has its place. There are some really amazing moments of characterization, yet other times it felt like exposition. There are some really amazing action sequences and others are just glanced over. Some characters are really amazing and others just meh. It’s sort of a mixed bag. But for the most part I rather enjoyed it.

I’m gonna give it a 3/5. It’s just about average. I’m glad I saw it, and it does have its own story to tell. Just wish it was paced better.

3-out-of-5

 

Captain America: The First Avenger movie review

Plot: It’s World War II in the 1940s, and Steven Grant Rogers desperately wants to join the military to help fight because “he doesn’t like bullies”. After volunteering for an experiment to create the world’s first super soldier, Rogers gets that chance, and becomes the famed “Captain America” in the process.

Starring: Chris Evans, Sebastian Stan, Hayley Atwell, Hugo Weaving

THE GOOD

  • The CAST
    • The casting for this film is just stellar. That’s something Marvel almost always gets right even after being bought out by Disney in 09. And everyone brings their A game here. Remember when Chris Evans was the Human Torch? Now he’s most remembered and rightfully so as the esteemed Captain America. Hayley Atwell does a terrific job as Agent Carter, and Sebastian as Bucky Barns and Hugo Weaving as Red Skull both are wonderful. It’s interesting that in this movie Bucky isn’t much of a sidekick as he was in the comics-in the comics the military and older folk could see themselves as the Stalwart cap, while kids and others found themselves in Bucky; Cap’s…sidekick. In the movie, he’s much less a sidekick. And it really works.
  • THE CHARACTERS
    • Now Steve Rogers is a fine upstanding gentleman type. The boy scout. But in this movie, while it’s his lack of pomposity that makes his character work, it also in a sense backfires. He’s like Steve Rogers: Perfect Human. Bucky is a bit more interesting, Agent Carter was apparently interesting enough to get her own show (which isn’t all that bad actually). The villain is fine but that’s a weakness with Marvel; meh villains. Overall they’re all fine. Just okay. They’re developed enough to where you do care about them and want to know what’s going to happen in the end.
  • THE ACTION
    • This is a bit of a mixed bag. When Rogers becomes Cap America, that’s when the movie kicks into gear. But then they go and montage over the action sequences. They show Cap being awesome, and using his shield of awesome, the Howling Commandos being awesome. But for the most part it’s really kind of glanced over. What a shame.

 

THE BAD

  • The PACING
    • The pacing is kind of awkward. It stars of slow, then all of a sudden Steve is in the military, and all of a sudden he’s been offered the chance to become the first and only super soldier. Once he becomes the super soldier the film seems to kick it into gear. It does allow character development but still the pacing is just weird.
  • The CINEMATOGRAPHY/AESTHETICS
    • Nothing much to say other than that the cinematography is bland and standard. A few good shots of Cap being awesome and the editing is nicely done-it doesn’t make the film feel weird. However you do really feel like you’re in World War II time; in the 1940s so that’s a plus.

CONCLUSION

This film is a great final lead up to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It has its problems, but for the most part it really works. There isn’t much wrong with it, other than it’s a slow burn type of film. It’s a good period piece, and the characters feel real and are developed nicely. Perhaps it’s because of the character of Captain America (who let’s face it wouldn’t become REALLY badass until Captain America: Winter Soldier) but I just never found the boy scout type characters interesting. The rest of the film works fine though. This feels like a movie; it’s focused on the characters rather than the one main character, or the action. So have to give it props for that.

I will though go ahead and give this movie a 3.5/5. It’s a good film and a good final lead up to the biggest ensemble risk movie ever. Cap’s story is an interesting one…But to me personally he was just not that interesting of a character.

 3-5stars

 

The Shallows Movie Review

 

JeremyJahns of YouTube describes this movie as 127 hrs + Shark Week. And….Yeah. Yeah that’s exactly what this is.

Plot: Blake Lively is in an undisclosed local surfing, when she gets attacked by a HUGE Great White Shark. Suffering a bite to the thigh it’s yet another man vs nature to see who comes out on top and if she can make it back to shore.

Starring: Blake Lively….And a shark.

The Good

blake_lively_the_shallows_photo

She’s a good audience avatar. 

  • THE BLAKE LIVELY
    • Remember the time when Hollywood was trying to shove her down our throats? Now they’re doing the same with Anna Kendrick-she’s everywhere. Then she went away for a little bit, and now she’s fighting a shark. In this movie, it’s all her. Much like in The Woman in Black it was mostly Daniel Radcliffe carrying the film. You gotta like the main character, otherwise the film could fall apart. For what this is, she’s a fine enough actress. Problem is her character is boring. I do wanna see more of Lively though. The fact that her character is a med student (or was) helps with the film. It makes her trying to survive this attack all the more real since she knows how to take care of a wound like that.
  • THE VISUALS
    • This films makes me want to learn how to surf. The way this little Paradise (no it’s really called Paradise) is shot is just gorgeous. I actually really liked the underwater shots when she would duck under a wave and the slow to quick edits of her surfing. Lots of nice still shots too. Nice to know Hollywood hasn’t forgotten what those are.
  • THE SHARK
    • Oh my god this shark is amazing. Sharks in general are just cool creatures. Incredibly powerful, dangerous, and strong. I don’t think though that real Great Whites can get as BIG as the one in this film (the power of CGI is strong here). But even so, with all the awesome this shark is there are a few parts that make me go “okay where’s the physics in this?”

THE BAD

  • SLOW BURN ACTION
    • If you are the type of person to be bored easily, or have a short attention span, or possibly ADD/ADHD (like myself) this movie could be a bit of a bore for you. I found it interesting in only the fact that it’s a good “if you were in her spot how would you survive?”. But most movies do this for example Titanic,  most war movies….Lively’s character is pretty much nothing more than an audience avatar and in that she does a good job in sucking you into this slow burn action film. It’s not all hardcore fast paced-it’s a girl vs a shark. It’s gonna be slow.
  • THE PHYSICS/REALITY?
    • This is an odd thing to bring up but there are some things that just don’t make sense. Shark has already nabbed a huge humpback whale. Why would he need to go after 4 people? There are several scenes that leave you questioning things but for the most part it doesn’t take you too out of the film.
  • SLOW BUILD UP
    • In an hour and a half long movie with a really simple premise, 10-15 min can feel like an eternity. And that’s about the length that this movie has to provide the build up before the first initial attack. After the mandatory character build up and local build up though once the shark attack happens, the film is definitely better paced after.

CONCLUSION

The Shallows isn’t going to be for everyone. It’s yet another survivalist movie, in a genre that’s not quite saturated but hard to stand out in. Blake Lively does a fine job, the shark itself is really cool, the kill shots are amazing if not a little disturbing for the younger audiences, and if you know what you like, you’ll like or dislike this movie-especially since again it’s a slow burn action film.

I’m going to go ahead and give The Shallows a 2.5/5. Slightly below average.

2.5-Stars

Comment Question: What’s your favorite survival movie?

Independence Day (1996) Movie Review

 

Oh Independence Day….I find you either like or hate this movie….This movie is stupid, cheesy, dumb, funpocalypse wheeeee!! Yet it is also the seminal boom and bombast “they’re here to destroy us” type alien invasion movie. Those who grew up in the 90s have a fierce, FIERCE nostalgia for this film that dare not be challenged. Those who didn’t still like this movie….me? Eh. So what’s the what with this film?

Plot: when Jeff Goldblum’s character discovers sand-dollar like discs in the sky, he realizes they are here to attack; not make peace. When the clock ticks its last second, 3 major cities in America go BOOM in the night-the fight is now on for the heroes to save the world from the ultimate invasion.

Sooooo….What works with this movie?

The Good

independence-day-vivica-a-fox.jpg

Oh….Look at that Will Smith…whew.

  • THE WILL SMITH
    • Only M. Night Shyamalan-madingdong could make the most CHARISMATIC MAN ON THE PLANET BORING AS FUDGE. This man can make any line, any dialogue the most interesting and fascinating thing ever. He’s fun, he’s funny, he’s charming-SO charming. There’s a line that goes “you are not as charming as you think you are sir.” And his reply is “yes I am”….THAT is a Roland Emmerich line at its finest. It’s a stupid line, but Will Smith saying it sounds so charming. There’s another scene where he steals a helicopter-he just says “you really wanna shoot me?” and just leaves. Like…With anyone else they’d have been shot. He totally owns just about every film he’s in, and while he did have a big career before ID4 really we can thank this film for just making him explode. Sadly….Jeff Goldblum’s performance in this film with this “uh uh uhs” exploded as well…too bad it was too little too late before the audience caught on.
  • THE ACTION
    • For an alien invasion movie to really work, you need to feel the devastation and destruction that they leave behind; it makes the fight for our planet and humanity’s survival all the more important. It’s actually something that causes Transformers to kind of fail as a franchise-sure you have the big baddies coming and the goodie two shoe Autobots in to save the day-but when the human characters are pretty much impervious to death-the main ones anyways-the stakes don’t feel as high. Yet somehow in Transformers Prime-which is based on the live action films-fixes this and makes the stakes work. In this movie, you feel the stakes through the action scenes. For the 90s, they were some pretty awesome scenes and even now they hold up; the final fight with the President leading the way, the desert canyon chase, the original BOOM on the cities, it’s all good dumb funpocalypse wheeee!
  • THE SOUNDTRACK
    • This might sound weird, but the soundtrack just SOUNDS American. Lots of brass instruments; horns, trumpets, trombones, a few flutes here and there, a few strings, a few piano keys here and there….but mostly horns. Honestly if it weren’t for a few of the scores in this film, a lot of the “Tension” such as the final countdown till boom, and a lot of the President’s dialogue when dealing with the military would just fall flat. Soundtracks can make or break film and can leave a lasting impression. The theme for this film….leaves an impression.
  • THAT EPIC BILL PULLMAN SPEECH
    • Yes it’s cliched. Yes it’s kind of stupid and silly….But….It’s just epic.

THE BAD

  • THE CHARACTERS
    • Every. Single. Character in this film is a stereotype. They’re someone we’ve seen before, hell this movie helped create the “nerdy white guy” stereotype. Ladies and gentlemen this movie presents you the nerdy white guy stereotype, the Jewish stereotype, the fay gay stereotype, the gruff military leader stereotype, the “Bill Clinton” president stereotype however he’s kind of an awesome president despite him just nursing his headache a lot. Every character is a cliché, yet I’m sure for the time they seemed fresh and new.
  • THE ROLAND CAST OF THOUSANDS
    • Something Roland Emmerich does in his films, is he tries to make them seem as global as possible. This is what’s known to those who have studied his films; me among them ha!-as the Roland Cast of Thousands! Everyone gets a part-sometimes the most important dialogue is given to a dude who’s gonna die in five minutes flat. In this film where he starts this trend, he uses obvious keys to introduce these people. The President of the United States, the First Lady, their daughter, Will Smith, Jeff Goldblum, Jeff Goldblum’s character’s ex (that’s another Roland trademark), Will Smith’s fiancé (in the film) his fiancé’s son, Boomer (a Labrador), Will Smith’s friend, people in the Iraqi desert, people in Mother Russia, people in Japan. All of these people are either somehow someway essential to the film, or just give one liner dialogue that helps explain a plot hole before the audience gets to it.
  • THE CLICHÉS/SCRIPT
    • Ohhhh the amount of clichés in this movie… “Then God help us all”, the President of the Free World gearing up for battle, that clichéd but somehow awesome speech, Goldblum ripping off Jurassic Park “must go faster, must go faster”, the weird delivery of “is mommy sleeping?”, “hello boys, I’m baaaack” (ever wonder where Lindsay Ellis and myself get “funpocalypse whee”?)….this movie is just full of those. Yet it’s set during a time where America….felt pretty damn secure. If you look at action movies as a whole after 2001….You can kind of see an America….that’s not as secure as the world thought it was. THIS movie….yeah America feels secure.

THE CONCLUSION

This film isn’t bad because it’s full of plot holes half assedly explained through lines of “two words plausible deniability” (oh…okay makes sense). Or “you didn’t think people spent 20,000 dollars on a hammer, 30,000 on a toilet seat did you?” (oh oh okay makes sense let’s move on). It’s not bad because of so many clichés, it’s not bad because of the Roland Cast of Thousands, it’s not bad because of so many laws of improbability (where things just happen and for some reason it’s never explained how a character meets with this other character we just need to accept it because wheee!), it’s not bad because of any of those things. It’s bad because it’s well….Stupid. BUT in hindsight that stupidness is what makes this Roland true real only success in the box office as well as critically (kind of). It knows it’s stupid and goes full force. There are some good things as I mentioned. Mostly the Will Smith. But it’s just dumb fun. It did kickstart the alien invasion movie phenomenon, and I’m sure we have to thank it for some other things as well. But this is easily among the….Not WORST of the 90s that made a ton of money, but it’s not among the best of the 90s either. It showed how America was at the time; full of security, free from self doubt and hatred, and just having a grand old time. Alien invasion movies have to tap into SOMETHING we fear, and this movie did that and it made for a good exciting fun time. But objectively speaking….it’s just okay at best.

Don’t hate me but….I have to give it a 3/5.

gold-stars-3

It’s just average….wheeee!

What is your favorite alien invasion movie? Let me know in the comments!

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