Monday, January 16, 2017

Underworld: Blood Wars (2017): Review


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This weekend for Friday night movie night, I went and saw the new Underworld movie Blood Wars. It was basically what I was expecting as I have seen all of the other Kate Beckinsale Underworld movies and it follows along with exactly what I was expecting. Kickass fighting, sequences, lots of stylized and screenshot moments but with just enough plot to keep it going and poor vampire effects.

Underworld: Blood Wars continues after Underworld: Awakening (2012) leaves off although times has been continuing to move on. Selene, played by Kate Beckinsale, is a pure bloodline vampire who is being hunted by vampires and lycans (werewolfs) due to her turning on the vampire elders in the prior movies and being the mother of the first hybrid pureblood. Previously, she has prevented herself from knowing where he daughter is as she says people she cares about don't tend to do so well. She is brought back into the dynamic of the vampire/ lycan war by David, played by Theo James, who is a vampire she saved in a previous movie and because the lycan are working together under the new leadership of Marius, played by Tobias Menzies. Also in the movie are Vampires Semira, played by Lara Pulver and Thomas, played by Charles Dance.

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As I said, this movie is pretty on par with the previous Underworld movie and it you enjoyed them you will like this movie and if you didn't it is not for you. Story wise I do not like the removal of Michael, previously played by Scott Speedman, but like the incorporation of Theo James and what they did with his character in the movie. I find Theo James really attractive and would not mind more Underworld movies with him as the main male. He plays a good strong guy that I can root for. Kate Beckinsale continues to be badass as she has always been good casting for this, but I kept being distracted during the movie by her corset as she could not do the fighting that she did in this comfortable. 

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There was nothing really surprising in the plot of this movie but it is enough to keep it movie along. It seemed a bit more like a build up for another movie then specifically its own movie. It tied up some things to leave them in the previous movies and set up a information to movie it forward. But it wasn't anything special. Plot is not what I am looking for in this kind of movie, but just want to be entertained. I like seeing this type of movie in theatres because of the scope of action but it isn't anything you need to rush out to see.

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I don't like that there was a lot of close up action sequences in this movie, I want to see what is going on, not just jump quickly from tight shot to tight shot (I will continue to complain about this until it stops) and I am really starting to dislike movie that start right off the bat with a big fight or action sequences. I like the movie to build up with some set up instead of jumping in at the deep end of the pool. The CGI wasn't too bad but the vampire abilities, were obvious. Like them jumping up high or movie fast. This could have been done better but would have required more money to make it look seamless and not distracting in the movie.

My Rating: 2

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Sunday, January 15, 2017

La La Land (2016): Review

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I am sorry to say that this movie did not meet my expectations although I was trying not to expect too much. With La La Land winning several Golden Globes last week, I was expecting it to be an almost perfect movie that kept me interested and did something unique. I was disappointed with the whole movie, especially as every moment I started to like what was going on it would then do something that I didn't like took me out of it. Although there were some cute moments and I enjoyed the basic story of the movie, they did too many weird things and tried to cram different styles into it. It became not weird interesting but weird disjointed for me.
La La Land is a movie musical that stars Ryan Gosling as Sebastian, a jazz musician who is trying to keep classic jazz alive and Emma Stone as Mia, an aspiring actress. It is set in four parts (winter, spring, summer, fall) where these two get thrown together and are struggling to make their dreams come true.  It is pretty balanced with incorporating these two parts together (interactions with each other and following their dreams). There are also lots of other characters in the movie but the main ones are these two.

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This movie is a musical and if you know me I love most fun musicals. This one tried for fun but just ended up just being strange. I couldn't figure out if the musical numbers were suppose to be more like dream sequences and didn't really happen or if they were part of the plot and it was normal for the characters to just start singing and dancing. The really only musical parts that really worked for me were the parts where it was about the characters as musician, especially Sebastian, and where Mia sings in one of her auditions. The rest as I said were hard to understand how they were suppose to be part of the film and I will put the dancing sequences into this. I think all of the dancing didn't really fit in the movie. I think there needed to make it more consistent in feel with the singing and dancing being incorporated in a more natural way. It may have been better if Emma Stone was a stronger singer and dancing but I am not sure that would have even worked.
In general I am a fan of the chemistry between Gosling and Stone  but in this movie the chemistry wasn't as natural as some of their other movies and there interactions seemed forced. Both have done better playing off each other and when the main thing of the whole movie is about their interacts and intertwined story this is a let down.

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This movie tried too hard to be cutting edge with a nod to the past but it didn't really work. It was just over the line of thinking too highly of itself and this affected my enjoyment of the movie. There were moments that were fantastic and that I thought were really cute and sweet but it seemed like when I was starting to like the movie it would do something to mess it up. And I really disliked the way it ended. Again I couldn't figure out what it wanted me to think was going on, and it left me feeling unsatisfied. I didn't hate the movie and think that it would have been better if I did because I would have at least felt a strong emotion at the end.

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This thing that this movie did really well is the cinematography, staging, sets, costumes, and scores. All the supporting parts of the movie (not plot or acting) were absolutely fantastic. It was a gorgeous film to watch and I kept noting how all the little details were fantastic. Even during the dance and singing sequences where I didn't like how it was disjointed from the movie were beautifully staged and choreographed. I want all the wardrobe in the movie and loved the styling. The score was really great, although at times a bit repetitive, but this seemed intentional as the music was woven into the story and what the characters were experiencing.

This movie is for people who like things that are more artistic and although it seemed like the movie was going for something a little more intriguing there wasn't anything surprising in the story. It was okay but not up to the standards I want for award winners. The parts that I thought were fantastic were the auxiliary things, like the production value and the like.

My Rating: 2

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Sunday, January 8, 2017

Manchester By The Sea (2016): Review

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This drama was absolutely fantastic, it has me crying throughout the entire thing and for this type of movie that is exactly what it should be doing. This demonstrated that it emotionally resonated with me. How the movie was shot, edited, and acted did a great job of pulling me into the story and caring about the characters, even thought this is one of those dramas that doesn't really have much happening, just giving snapshots of the lives of the main character.

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Manchester by the Sea stars Casey Afflect as Lee Chandler as man who has a troubled history who is required to come back to Manchester after his brother Joe, played by Kyle Chandler, has died and take care of his nephew Patrick, played by Lucas Hedges. The movie mainly focuses around Lee but does show the people he interacts with, it follows a current day story but jumps back to Lee's personal story (with ex-wife Randi played by Michelle Williams) and why he is detached from the world. The casting of this movie is great and the characters, even though many of them are not on screen for long (and many of them are introduced and then dropped in the narrative) get me to want to know about them and how they play into Lee and Patrick's lives. My one big complain is that there is not any time spent on a lot of the outside characters and I am unsure if this is done purposely because Lee has withdrawn from the world and most human interactions or that the movie was limited on time to really dive into the storylines of the supporting character (if this is what it was I wish that some of them were cut out because many didn't really add to what was going one).

This movie is a drama and one of those dramas that doesn't really have a traditional story structure. It is about a short timeframe in the lives of Lee and Patrick (where Lee's brother and Patrick's father has died) and doesn't feel like it has forward momentum or any real character development. The flashback and interactions with other characters shows why the characters are how they are why they make the choices they do but doesn't show any true personal growth. There is nothing wrong with this type of movie but at the end all it was about was getting to know the characters, not really cheering for them or embracing their journey.

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This film was beautifully shot and the sequences on the sea are fantastic. All of the pieces fit together for me and the pacing was consistent, it might be slow for some but it works or the overall feel of the movie. Even though characters where not shown for long, how the movie was done gets me to feel for them and connect through the scene almost immediately. No character is good or bad, they are just people trying to handle what is happening to or around them at this moment in time.  I noticed the score and music of the movie but it went with what was going on and not distracting.

Overall, this movie was fantastically done and well acted. I emotionally connected to what the characters were going though (crying thought the film) and although I wouldn't say the movie was enjoyable (due to what was happening) it was a completely well done film that is worth watching. The only real criticism I have is that I wanted to know more about what was going on with the supporting characters; how they played in later, if they were interdicted early in the movie, or more of their backstory if they were introduced later in the film.

I hope that this movie wins some of the awards it was nominated for as it was phenomenal.

My Rating: 4-

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Friday, January 6, 2017

Hidden Figures (2016): Review

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This movie was absolutely fantastic and I recommend it to everyone who enjoys a quality film. It had a good script, was well cast and acted, and had some tension and excitement to it. Even thought I knew what was going to happen as it is based on true life events, I was still interested and riveted about what would happen next. It has been a while since I saw a family friend movie that was so well done and that I enjoyed as much as this one and the fact that it is based on real life events just makes it even better. I was hoping that this movie would be good but it definitely exceeded my hopes.

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Hidden Figures is a movies based on the book of the same name by Margot Lee Shetterly. The movie follows three of the amazing women in the book Katherine G. Johnson, played by Taraji P. Henson; Dorothy Vaughn, played by Viola Davis; and Mary Jackson, played by Janelle Monae, who were amazing mathematical minds that worked for NASA during the space race of the early 1960s. During this time women, especially African-American women were fighting for their rightful place among the men in the mathematical, engineering, and early computer fields. Also staring; Kevin Costner as Al Harrison; Jim Parsons as Paul Stafford; Kirstin Dunst as Vivian Mitchell; and Glen Powell as John Glenn.

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This movie was based on all three of the women's stories but it seemed to focus mainly on Katherine and then Dorothy's journey, with Mary thrown in for a little extra. The other characters where there to show some of what these women were facing as working mothers and community members.  Although the movie was great and I look forward to watching it gain there was no real development of the characters, especially the supporting characters to the main three. There was some of how these women were pushing for rights and to be treated for the intelligent people that they were but it did so in a family friendly way and the focus was more on the space race and what happened then the emotional struggles. That being said it did show the discrimination and segregation but again in family friendly film kinda way.

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Overall, I really enjoyed the film and even some of the not the best but okay CGI didn't bother me. It was not big on the CGI but I did not find any of it distracting or really obvious. The outer space could have been done much more big budget but the fact that most of the shots were tighter into camera worked.

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The casting was spot on for me and I do not think I would have enjoyed the movie or felt invested in the story if the cast didn't pull me in. There were a few that were not suburb, like Dunst, but she was alright. It would have been nice to have more connection to the families of these women and I feel like it would have worked better to cut out more of the non work scenes as there wasn't enough time to really develop these relationships as the main focus was on these women as intelligent NASA employees and not mothers (which is perfectly fine for me).

As I said, I look forward to watching this movie again and will probably read the book as I want to learn about the fourth women featured in it that didn't make it into the movie. If you have read it let me know if it is worth a look.

My Rating = 3+

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