Sunday, July 6, 2014

Snowpiercer (2014): Review

This weekend I went and saw the new movie Snowpiercer.  Snowpiercer was written and directed Joon-ho Bong and prior to my father suggesting going to see it, I hadn't really heard anything about it. This movie had the potential to be something and had a lot of great components about it but for me it never really came together.  Yes it was interesting and keep me focused throughout wondering how everything would come together and end but at the end I was just thinking I know he had a several points to make but none of them really shone as the main one.  It was worth a watch and had a great cast but is really only for people who don't mind action movies that don't really go anywhere, don't have the shininess of the big budget action movies, and leave you contemplating what did the director want me to get out of this.  It is more of a drama action movie.

Snowpiercer is a movie that is set seventeen years from now after the world has been sent into an ice age due to anti global warming chemicals that were put into the air.  Due to this all life on earth is gone except for the few thousand people who manage to board the Snowpiercer train, a self sustaining train that is able to protect those inside of it from the harsh weather conditions.  Within the train a class system has developed with those in the front of the train living in the lap of luxury and those in the tail of the train living in poverty.  In the tail end of the train you have Curtis, played by Chris Evens who is planning an uprising with his fellow tail-members to work their way to the front of the train and take over the engine.  He is helped by his second in command Edger, played by Jaime Bell, friend Tanya, played by Octavia Spencer, and mentor Gilliam, played by John Hurt. The seek the help of drug addict security expert Namgoong Minsoo, played by Kang-ho Song and his daughter Yona, played by Ah-sung Ko, to help them open the locked doors between train sections.  During their struggle to fight their way to the engine they are blocked by upper classed Minister Mason, played by Tilda Swinton.  Can Curtis make it to the engine and change his world, will Mr. Wilford, played by Ed Harris, the creator of the train keep his precisely set up world in order with Curtis challenging him?
Like I said this movie has a lot of things that had the potential to come together really well but it just never reached its full potential. Although it didn't ultimately become spectacular it was still worth watching for being a different type of action/drama then I have seen lately. The best thing for me in this movie was the cast.  It had a lot of actors that I tend to like and I think the chemistry between them was good.  There were some moments of over the top but overall it worked for me.  If it didn't have this cast it would have ended up being  a lot worse then it was.
This movie tried to have some great graphics and needed them to work for everything to come together.  For me it was easy to tell that the views outside of the train were CGI and that this movie didn't have the budget to really make it blend in with rest of what it was doing.  It also had a lot of close up action sequences and in this movie there were too much for me and I really just wanted it to back up the shot.
The story seemed to be alright but I didn't like how they weaved it together with what was going on in the present and the back stories of some of the characters.  There were things referenced throughout the movie the were then identified as meaning something later on but for me it didn't add to the experience it made me go I don't like that and wish they would have worked it out a little bit differently to still include the emotional scene but without such a guttural response from me.

This movie was more interesting and required more attention then a lot of the bigger budget action movies that have come out lately but it does have me wanting to see it again to try get a better grasp on all of what was going on.  That being said I wont pay money to see it again in theaters.

My Rating: 2

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Transformers: Age of Extinction (2014): Review

This weekend for Friday Night Movie Night I went and saw Transformers: Age of Extinction (2014). I have been hoping that it would be enjoyable because I have been enjoying the big budget family orientated action movies lately but it is a Transformers movie so I wasn't trying to get my hopes up too much.  This movie ended up being exactly what I have come to expect form a Transformer movie so if you liked Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (2009) and Dark of the Moon (2011) you will like this one too.

Transformers: Age of Extinction is a sort of restart of the Michael Bay Transformers movies but continues on the same timeline set up in the previous three, just with switching out Shia Lebeouf for Mark Wahlberg.  Age of Extinction occurs five years after Dark of the Moon when the overall view of the Transformers are that they they are not wanted.  If any alien technology is found it is suppose to be reported to the government and a CIA black ops team  led by Harold Attinger, played by Kelsey Grammer, is hunting down and destroying all Transformers, both Autobot and Decepticon.  Mark Walhberg plays Cade Yeager, a single father to Tessa, played by Nicola Peltz, who is a screw up inventor who buys junk.  He ends up purchasing an old beat up truck which turns out to be Transformer Optimus Prime. When the government finds out that Cade has Optimus, Cade, Tessa, and Tessa's secret boyfriend Shane Dyson, played by Jack Reynor, go on the run, with the few remaining Autobots, trying to figure out who is helping the humans hunt down the Transformers and why. Lots of nonsense and big action sequences happen as it is discovered that Attinger is working with Lockdown, a outer space bounty hunter, to trade Optimus Prime for what is called a seed.  A seed is a thing that goes off and turns everything in a close radius into the metal that makes Transformers.  This metal is wanted by scientist Joshua Joyce, played by Stanley Tucci, to make their own human controlled Transformers . Can Cade and Optimus figure out what is happening and save the people/things they care about without the world being destroyed?
Like I said this movie is basically put together like the other late Transformer movies; it is too long, the battle sequences are stretched out way too long; the plot is convoluted and doesn't really fit together well; there are too many characters that we don't care about and weird things have to be added to give them something to do; you don't really care about any of the characters because you don't really understand much about them; the CGI graphics are really good and a lot of time has been spent on them; and overall the story doesn't go any where.
This movie is one that is basically just for the people who have liked the last two Transformer movies and younger boys.  There is lot cool concept in the movie and it is expressed with really cool stuff (CGI, Dinobots, Battles and guns) but there isnt really anything of value in it.  The reason that I enjoyed this movie is because I tend to like these big budget action movies and as long as there isnt anything too anoying I enjoyed it and the best part of the movie for me Stanley Tucci.  I found myself waiting for the parts where he was in the movie and the times that I laughed mainly revolved around him.  He saved the movie for me and keep me interested in the characters and I think that the movie could have worked him in more and should have spent more time on his story line then  the other stuff.  I also like John Goodman voicing Hound.
For me this movie will fall into the same group as the last two Transformer movies, I don't regret seeing it but don't foresee myself watching it again.

My Rating: 1

Additional note: can we stop trying to make the robots faces look so human, it is just weird, it is okay for robot faces to look like robots.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

The Fault in Our Stars (2014): Review

This weekend I went and saw The Fault in Our Stars which is the newest teen book adaptation, but don't let that prevent you from seeing this fantastic movie.  The Fault in Our Stars is the 2012 book of the same name written by John Green and is told from the view point of a seventeen year old girl who suffers from thyroid cancer that has effected her lungs.  This movie was absolutely fantastic and is a mush see for anyone who likes dramas, period. At the heart this is a coming of age story and experiencing your first love but that is not all that it is, there is something to connect with in this movie for everyone and all of the characters shine in their own right and have something interesting about them.  The characterization in the movie is just real and it is a testament to John Green's story and the decisions made by the filmmakers throughout the making of this movie.

The Fault in Our Stars is told through the perspective of Hazel Grace, played by Shailene Woodley, a seventeen year old girl who has been battling cancer her whole young life and is currently having problems with her lungs because of this.  While she is attending a cancer support group, which she only attends because her parents, played by Laura Dern and Sam Trammell, want her to she meets Augustus (Gus), played by Ansel Elgort, and they develop a friendship and deep connection.  They go through a journey of developing feelings for each other while discussion over Hazel's favorite book An Imperial Affliction. Through the struggles of her family having to deal with Hazels health problems, Hazel and Gus travel to meet the author of An Imperial Affliction Von Houten, played by William Dafoe, in Amsterdam. This movie is a drama and therefor is a snapshot of the lives of the people involved and the struggles that they are going through either because of their own experiences with cancer or that of those around them.
This movie really connected with me and I was swept into the story from the very begining.  I have not read the book so do not know how faithfully accurate the movie is but I felt like the movie flowed well and there were not any holes in the story line. I was able to buy into the emotional journey Hazel went through and cared about the people she interacted with.  There wasn't a character in this movie that wasn't interesting in some way but no one stole the show. It seemed like they were all working together to be pieces of the puzzle that made this magnificent whole.  This also includes Nat Wolff who played Isaac, a friend of Gus and fellow support group member of Hazel; Lotte Verbeek, who played Von Housen's assistant Ledewij; and Mike Birbiglia, who played the leader of the support group.

This movie had a great balance, of emotional connection, caring for the characters, seeing their genuine affection for each other and moments of humor in all that was going on.  It was a great perspective to watch and a fantastic film. I recommend this for anyone who likes dramas and is something that is probably good for everyone to watch at some point. It is not necessary to see this movie on the big screen because the focus is the characters and what they are going through not any special effects or high def action.
I hope that this movie will get some sort of award recognition but as it is a teen focused drama and released in June we will have to see.

Basically I recommend that you see this movie but be prepared for the tear inducing moments.

My Rating: 4

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Edge of Tomorrow (2014): Review

This weekend there were two movie that came out that I have been waiting to see and the first one that I saw was the new Tom Cruise action movie Edge of Tomorrow.  Going into to this movie I was expecting a little more then I usually do with most alien attack/ special suit action movies because it is a Tom Cruise movie and I tend to like his action movies. I am happy to report that this was a solid movie and worth seeing for anyone who likes action movies.
Edge of Tomorrow (2014) is set in a future were the world is at war with an alien race called the Mimics, who crash landed in Europe and are spreading outward in an attempt to concur the Earth. Tom Cruise plays Major Cage, a man who has been working in Public Relations for the America Military trying to recruit people into joining the war and fighting in these super soldier suits.  When General Brigham, played by Brendan Gleeson, assigns Cage to film the initial wave of the next attach against the Mimics, Cage refuses and is sent into the war as a private charged with impersonating an officer and attempting to flee from duty.
 He is under the watch of Master Sargent Farrell, played by Bill Paxton, and the J squad. The J Squad includes: Jonas Armstrong as Skinner; Tony Way as Kimmel;  Kick Gurry as Griff; Franz Drameh as Ford; Dragomir Mrsic as Kuntz; and Charlotte Riley as Nance. Major now Private Cage tries to get people to listen to him but no one will and is suited up and deployed with the first wave against the Mimics in France.  When they make it to the beach, the Mimics are waiting for the attack and start a massive slaughter.  During this Cage is just trying to survive but ends up killing being killed by an Alpha Mimic and hijacking his power, which results in Cage living the same day over and over again, being reset every time he is killed.  While living this day over and over he eventually teams up with Sargent Rita Vrataski, played by Emily Blunt, who is famous for a previous battle with the mimics.  Rita helps Cage because she previously had the same power of restarting the day but lost it before she could kill the main alien called the Omega and ending the war.  Can Cage and Rita work together to find the Omega and kill the Mimics and what will this cost themselves and the people around them?
Like I said this a solid action movie and once again Tom Cruise has a good performance in this role.  Although I am not a general Tom Cruise fan, I have discovered over the years that I do like him in your standard actin role.  I don't really like when he goes out of this role but he is able to bring the right attitude to the role of the action hero.  In this movie, he is able to grow as a character from a person who you don't really like at the beginning of the film, to someone who has seen his share of battle and wants to save the world and the people he has come to care about. I think Tom Cruise does a good job of showing this change through the repetitive days and it was cut together in a way that took the audience along with him through this journey, although there are times when you have obviously missed many days as he figured things out and is frustrated by all the dead ends he has experienced.
I am impressed with the way that this movie was cut together, because with this kind of story it is very possible to get lost and not have any idea of what is going on or proper path to get the audience where we need to go.  There were moments where I wanted to see more of his repetitive day, and since it gave me enough to keep me interested and follow the story line, but still wanting to go back and watch it again, I would say that it did what it was suppose to do.

There was a lot of CGI in this movie and since I saw it in IMAX 3D there were lots of changes for this all to look really poorly done and too video game.  I am happy to say that the production value in this movie was high (another reason why Tom Cruise action movies tend to be better) and you can tell that the time and money was spent on this to make it come together.  Yes you can tell its CGI but it fits together without being obnoxious or pulling you out of the movie. The 3D added dimensions to the movie, especially all of the movements of the Mimic and this is one movie that I think benefits from being seen on the big screen and with the 3D. This movie does do the thing that I continue to hate in action movies, where it has scenes and sequences that are shoot really tight up to the actors and jump around, but the positives of what I just stated outweighed it for me.  There were also some bigger sweeping shots but not really during the actual action scenes.

I think what ultimately got me to give it a higher ranking then the standard action movie is that it has a great cast that had a fun dynamic together.  There were people who were interesting, who got screen time and some development, but did not pull away from the story of movie. I enjoyed all of the sequences between the J Squad and you could feel that although they were misfits they were a team.
I recommend that anyone who likes the bigger budget, robot/alien action movies go see this movie and while it is still in the theater.  The big screen really adds to the overall experience of the movie.

My Rating: 3

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Maleficent (2014): Review

This weekend for movie night we went and saw the new Angelina Jolie and fairy tale reworking Maleficent. Overall it was enjoyable and the epic spaces of the graphics where beautiful but the story could have used a little more fleshing out.
For those of you who are not familiar with the story of Sleeping Beauty, Maleficent is the name of the evil fairy who curses Aurora, played by Elle Fanning.  This story as its tittle suggest is focused around and follows the life of Maleficent and puts a different spin on the story of sleeping beauty but keeps the main points intact (think Wicked). In Maleficent, as a young girl she was focused on protecting her land, which is home to the magic folk against invasion from the humans. As a girl she meets a human boy named Stefan, who she develops feelings for as they spend time together growing up.  When he becomes a man, Stefan, played by Sharlto Coply, betrays Maleficent by cutting off her wings in order to become the husband to the princes and king to the human land.  When he has a daughter Aurora Maleficent comes to her christening and curses her to die by pricking her finger on the spindle of a spinning wheel on her sixteenth birthday to fall into an eternal sleep unless she experiences true loves kiss. As Aurora grows Maleficent watches over her with her companion crow Diavel, played by Sam Riley as Aurora.  Can Aurora escape her curse and will Maleficent ever learn to  let go of her hatred for being betrayed by Stefan without destroying herself and those around her.

With this movie there were things that I liked and things that I didn't like.  The negatives being that the story was a but rushed and I wished that especially during the middle of the movie more time had been taken to develop the interactions and relationship between Maleficent and Aurora.  As the movie was short, just over an hour and a half this easily could have been added and strengthened the story line and emotional connection to what was happening.  The other negative was quiet annoying to me and it was not that all the characters had accents but that none of them matched each other.  The story implies that these people growing up and living very close to each other but all of their accents are very distinct and so very different.  I found it annoying and distracting while watching the movie and would have wished they had looked into this.
I think that Angelina Jolie did a good job in this role and she was able to capture the hurt turned into evil component of her character while still getting you to like and root for her.  I think that the combination of her and Sam Riley as Diavel was great and I wouldn't have minded if more of there back and forth was included in the movie.
The chemistry between Jolie and Fanning for me was lackluster and I think that it was because Elle Fanning just wasn't up to sharing a screen with Jolie. Aurora is suppose to be ethereal and immediately lovable and although Fanning was trying very hard she just wasn't up to the role or holding her own against the attention demanding Jolie.
Although I saw this movie in 2D I think that it would have been enjoyable to see in 3D because there were a lot of souring and landscape shots that are journeyed through and for me the best use of 3D and how I enjoy it being used it by going through landscapes and having things floating through the air.
This movie was alright but I don't think it will really be something that everyone would like. Yes there is some action sequences and the dragon is pretty cool but it seems like just people who like all of these movies that mess with fairy tales and who can let go off all the the holes in the story and juvenile focus.

My Rating: 1+

Saturday, May 24, 2014

X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014: Review

Last night for Friday Night Movie Night we went and saw the new X-Men movie Days of Future Past and I am happy to say that although it was quite confusing at time it was a very entertaining and good X-Men movie.  Definitely one of the best of the X-Men movies and it had a lot of Easter eggs (many that I didn't get) and the incorporation between the two different casts was pretty great. My main criticism is that it expected you to really remember what happened in many of the previous X-Men movies so during the film I was trying to remember what had come before (and it has been a while for me since I saw them) and get the reference which was kinda important to what was going on in this movie. I would have like some of it spelled out a bit more as an audience member about background but there was a lot of info that they had to give you for the Sentinel story line so they were giving quiet at bit of the science information of how it is all possible.  When I watch movies I don't really care about the science making actual sense in the real world and how all the working fit together, I much prefer when the focus is on story and character then how all of the super stuff happens.
Days of Future Past links together all of the previews X-Men movies with a sort of time travel.  In the Future after the X Trilogy the Sentinels have destroyed the world and are hunting the remaining mutants. They were created to hunt out and kill mutants by identifying their mutant genes but had evolved to hunt out humans with the possibility of having mutant descendants therefore destroying the whole world.  They have the ability to adapt to mutant powers due to having the ability to change that was added to them based on Mystique's mutant power.  In this future we have the older generation of mutants from the X trilogy which include Charles Xavier, played by Patrick Stewart; Magneto, played by Ian McKellen; Wolverine, played by Hugh Jackman; and Kitty Pryde, played by Ellen Page.  Kitty has been able to keep her group of friends safe with her ability to send someones consciousness back into their old bodies but has only been able to do a few days because of the destruction of the mind and body.  Because Wolverine can heal himself it is decided that she will send him back to 1973 during the time where the sentinel program was approved because Mystique, played by Jennifer Lawrence, killed the creator Dr. Trask, played by Peter Dinklage, demonstrating to the world at large that mutants are dangerous to humans.  Logan must convince 1973 Charles, played by James McAvoy, and Eric, played Michael Fassbender, to work together and prevent this from happening before the world of the future is destroyed. Other important 1973 players are Beast, played by Nicholas Hoult, and Quicksilver, played by Evan Peters.
Like I said I really enjoyed this movie and it was a fun action movie.  It went a little overboard with all of the stuff in it, like what I said before but that was my only real criticism.  I really liked that cast and yes they brought in a lot of stuff and information but it all kinda fit together and the film itself kept movie and didn't get bogged down.  I liked how the two separate time frames of the movie came together.  This movie is definitely worth watching for anyone who has seen all the other X-Men movies but may be hard to understand by people who do not have a basic understanding of what happened in the movies. You didnt need to know everything but a basic understanding of what is going on is needed.
I went an saw this movie in 3D and I am really starting to forget that I am watching movies in 3D while in there because it so common now, I don't think it is necessary to see it in 3D but some of the side scale shots were impressive with their dimension.  Overall the CG was good except for the train ties.

My Rating: 3+

Friday, May 9, 2014

The Other Woman (2014): Review

Tonight I went to see the new Cameron Diaz movie, The Other Woman and it was absolutely hilarious.  I don't remember the last time that I basically laughed from the beginning of the movie till the very end.  This one the humor and laughs just kept coming and it was kept at a level that made it enjoyable to watch but not overwhelming.  There were some points that it went more into the disgusting, over the top humor that I don't like, but this was really only in two spots so it didn't bother me that badly.
The Other Woman's plot is very simple and there isn't a lot going on in basic story but the story is basically there to put the characters into situations where funny interactions can happen. It stars Cameron Diaz as Carly, a high power low emotion lawyer who starts seeing a man that she actually likes.  This man is Mark King, played by Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, who Carly discovers is actually married to Kate, played by Leslie Mann and has been lying to both of them.  Kate doesn't know what to do when she finds out that her husband had been lying to her and seeks support from Carly.  Together they form an unlikely friendship and and discover that Mark is cheating on both of them with Amber, played by Kate Upton.  The three of them decide that they want to get back at Mark for lying to them and do what they can to bring him down.  Supporting characters include Taylor Kinney as Kate's brother Phil; Nicki Minaj as Carly's assistant Lydia; and Don Johnson as Carly's dad Frank.

This movie is basically fluff and doesn't have a lot of overall plot nor any suspense to it but it is a fun ride throughout.  What makes this movie so enjoyable is the great interactions between the three main ladies, especially Diaz and Mann. They play really well off of each other and really embody their characters in a way that I actually care to see what they do. I am glad to say that because these two actresses sometimes have a tendency to go too far for me and make it way too much, their differences seemed to really play well off of each other and you can see them developing affection for each other.  Upton was fine but was more secondary to the main relationship.
 The only casting choice that I didn't particularly care for was the actor who played Mark.  This is probably more about him being the one to do the more over the more over the top crappy humor that I don't care for then him as an actor.  I think that the line was held pretty well for the majority of the movie but it just went too far with him.
Like I said this movie was very funny and I would recommend it for anyone who likes general comedies that are more appropriate then the rated R ones that have become the norm recently and can just go with the scenario and very basic plot.

My Rating: 2+
My Enjoyment Rating: 3+