Saturday, September 28, 2013

Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs (2009): Review and Recap

After watching the previews for Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 (2013) my interest with piqued and it looks like it would be a funny movie, so I decided to go back and watch the original before hand so I didn't have another instance where I saw the second cartoon movie before the first one and was completely lost.  And although it was completely stupid and the premise ridiculous (but does it really matter it is an animated movie) it was fun ride.
Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs (2009) is loosely based on the book of the same name by Judi Barrett.  I know that I read the book as a child but don't really remember the story line but I know that there were moment of food, such as the big food and toast ships that were referenced in the movie, but it is about an island where food falls from the sky. The movie is centered around Flint, voiced by Bill Hader, who is an inventor who was never understood by the people around him and his father, but his mother always encouraged him to follow his dream. When he grows up he invents this machine that will turn water into food, but like all of the things he does, things always seem to go wrong, and the machine gets sucked up into the sky where it starts raining food.  A weather girl intern Sam, voiced by Anna Farris, is there covering the story as the major of the town Major Shelbourn, voiced by Bruce Campbell, wants to turn their island into a tourist destination.  It is discovered that Sam is really smart and knows about weather and warns Flint that the machine is going to destroy the world.  So Flint with Sam's help fly up to try and turn off the machine and save the world before the giant food destroys everything.  While this happens a "like, like" connection blossoms between Flint and Sam, as well as Flint and his dad Tim, voiced by James Cann, work to overcome the disconnect in their relationship due to their inability to understand each other.
This movie is fun but doesn't really do anything special.  There isn't really anything surprising or that scary, although the giant meatball around the machine at the end of the movie has some danger to it.  It is worth a watch if nothing else is going on and a fun because of all the giant food.  I think the second one might be a bit more fun as I am looking forward to see more of Manny, voiced by Benjamin Bratt, who is the multitalented side kick cameraman to Sam.

My Rating: 2

Stargate (1994): Recap, Review, and My Story

It has been a while since I last watched the Stargate movie or any of the series and lately I had been hearing others talk about it so I decided that it was time that I went back and watched some of it.  Of course I had to start with the movie as it was the thing that kicked everything off.  If you don't know, Stargate is a 1994 movie that was turned in a television series in 1997 called Stargate: SG-1 followed by Stargate: Atlantis in 2004 and Stargate: Universe in 2009. 
My experience with Stargate happened more then several years ago now, when I was bored one day and wanted something to watch.  Since none of my DVDs seemed interesting I asked my brother if I could borrow one of his.  I decided that a television series would be more interesting because it was the middle of the day and a series would keep me busy for more then just an hour and a half.  I decided on Stargate: SG-1 as it was something that I had looked at for a while and I was really starting to get into my love of sci-fi.  Anyway, at the time I did not know that this television series was based as a continuation of a Hollywood movie so I just popped the first episode in and started watching.  I was confused to say the least as the series assumes that you have watched the movie first and know about all the set up from it.  I tried to follow it but gave up because I just had no idea what was happening.  A few days later I mentioned to my brother that I started to watch it but was confused and it said, "didn't you watch the movie first." I have to give him credit because instead of making fun of me, which he is known to do, he went and got the movie and said to watch it first as it the basis of the television show and would answer my questions.  We then watched it and I loved it.  I then watched through the first two seasons which he had on DVD then then all of the remaining ones that had come out up until that point.  Since then I became a huge Stargate fan and watched all of the SG-1 episodes and Atlantis episodes as they came out.  I tried watching Universe but only got through the first half of the first season but I didn't really like that one. Well I will see how far I will get through everything know that I am re-watching them, but I will take a while and I might still dislike Universe when I get to it.  We will see.  Anyway if you are not familiar with the movie, read on. I am hoping that they will release a twenty year edition of the movie next year.  That would be fantastic.

The movie Stargate (1994) stars James Spader as Dr. Daniel Jackson, a man who has been studying ancient Egypt and is brought in to help translate some hieroglyphics by an older lady who's father found an interesting artifact in Egypt in the 1920's.  He discovers that some of the glyphs represent star locations and that it is a point somewhere in the galaxy. He is then told about the Stargate and how they have been trying to get it to work and see where it would do. It turns out that it is a portal between worlds and a team is picked to go through it to see what is on the other side, he requests being on the team as he is fascinated and would hopefully be able to help the team figure out how to get back home from the other side as it is a one directional portal.  Leading the team in reinstated Air Force Colonel Jack O'Neil, played by Kurt Russel.  Jack has his own demons that he is facing and is given the mission to make sure that the earth stays safe in the worth appears dangerous.  Once through the Stargate it is discovered that they are in a desert like environment and inside a large pyramid.  The team discovers that the planet is home to a humans who live as slaves to an alien parasite who claims to be the Egyptian God Ra.  This alien is took an human host to hopefully live forever.  Daniel becomes fascinated with the local culture and how things are going, as he came through the Stargate the people think they are associated with Ra and treat them well.  Daniel is gifted a wife named Sha-uri (she is important in the beginning of the series) who Daniel forms a bond with and explains about their history and shows Daniel historical places that have more writings. During this time Ra returns and his spaceship and takes some of the soldiers hostage as well as discovers the bomb that Col. O'Neil had brought back to destroy the Stargate if it was demeaned dangerous.  The people of Abydos are encouraged to rebel against Ra and help the solders but it is mainly a group of boys who initially rise up. During the interacts with Ra, his minions and the Americans and Abydonians, Ra's spaceship is destroyed, the Abydonians are freed and everyone except for Daniel return home through the Stargate as he has decided to remain behind with his new wife and study the culture.

Re-watching this movie, I remembered how much I really like this series and sci- fi in general. It took a while for it not to be super weird that James Spader and Kurt Russell were the main actors, as I have watched the series for so long that those actors embody these characters for me, but they really do set the stage for everything that comes before.  yes, some things in the series are changed, tweaked, or ignored all together (I'm talking about them being cold after coming through the Stargate) but because it is such a big deal sci-fi movie and I really do love it, it doesn't bother me.
The CGI is quite out of date as we are coming up on twenty years for it, but this is where having a television series helps out, because I am used to seeing the more TV graphics and CGI it isn't so harsh, also it doesn't really seem like a lot of obvious CGI was used.  It was mainly the Stargate event horizon and traveling through the wormhole.

This is a classic Sci-Fi movie and I feel that any sci-fi fan should watch it and it is definitely worth seeing it you have a free afternoon to kill.

My Rating: 3

My Nostalgic rating: 4-  This is a huge part of my sci-fi nerdiness and one of my longer running fandoms.

Hold Up Rating: Pretty good, as the special effects did not go for blaringly obvious but is obviously older graphics.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Don Jon (2013): Review

Today I got to go see a movie that I have been waiting to see since I heard about I being made, the writing and directorial debut of Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Don Jon and I absolutely loved it. I was trying not to get my hopes up for this movie but as it had been getting good reviews but I am glad to say it met my expectations.
In Don Jon, Joseph Gordon Levitt plays the title character, a man who is set in his ways and because he is such a ladies man his friends call him a Don.  He is someone who always picks up a girl when they go out and she is always at least an eight.  He is also addicted to pornography and this effects the view he has on sex, as he says in the movie that no sex is as good as porn. He then meets Barbara, played by Scarlett Johansson, a women who he sees as a dime (ten) and that he decides he thinks is so beautiful that he is willing to put in the work to have sex with her, she has her own unrealistic view of love which comes from Hollywood romantic movies and feels that a guy who truly loves his girl would do anything with her.  This movie is very much focused on Jon and his perspective of the world, I don't think there is a single scene in the whole movie that he is not in, so you also get to see how in interacts with his boys, his family, as well as the importance of church, and working out for him.  Basically you get to see a snippet of his life as has strife with a girlfriend and has a chance to come to terms with some of his unrealistic thinking and behavior.
If you go and see this movie, it is very important that you know there is a lot of highly sexual imagery and I mean a lot, and it isn't just sorta put in there for a moment just to have some naked breast on screen, it really focuses on it and the perspective of Jon.  This is introduced from the get go of the movie, so if you are uncomfortable or offended by female sexual imagery, this movie is not for you.  This imagery and some of it isn't just the pornography clips put in to show what Jon is focused on while masturbating, some of it are actually adds and sexually focused main stream media.  Like I said, this is introduced at the very beginning of the movie and is front and center, no hints at it, it is there to be looked at, experienced, and hopefully analyzed about how unrealistic sexuality is part of peoples lives  (I may be over analyzing this but I am a counselor/ therapist).
I really like the dynamic of the characters in this movie, and although there is a lot of sexual imagery, the real heart of the movie is the relationships and interactions between the characters.  I think all of the supporting cast were fantastic,  you have Tony Danza as Jon Sr, Glenne Headly as his mother Angela, you have Julianne Morre as Ester a women he meets at night school, Brie Lawson as his sister, and Rob Brown and Jeremy Luke as his best friends.  They all played their characters well and I especially liked Rob Brown as his friend who really demonstrates that he is there for Jon, and his sister who although she doesn't say much, you can see how she is important and plays into the family dynamic.  My weak link of the cast was Scarlett Johansson, but she is not my favorite actress and although I can get how she is seen as very attractive and sexy but I don't get how she would be the embodiment of a dime, but as Barbara is not suppose to be a character without her own fault and negatives it isn't that bad.
This movie is worth watching if you like rated R comedies/ dramas and can handle the sexual focus, at the heart of it is seems to be about love, family, support, and connecting with other people.  It is important to look at what you are doing and not be completed to do things just to brag about them or because it is how things have always been or how you have always seen them.  If this is JGLs first writing and directorial movie I am looking forward to see what he comes up with next.

My Rating: 3+

On a side note- my little sister was a background actress on this film (apparently they do not call them extras and I was corrected several times on this point) and you can totally see her in several different scenes.  She plays a fellow student at the college class Joe is taking.  The most obvious scene to see her in, is the first scene where JGL and Julianne Moore are talking in the actually classroom. above their heads you will see a female student walk up the steps behind Moore and sit down at a desk, that's my little sister. You can also see her sitting there in the other classroom scenes as well. 

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Battle of the Year (2013): Review

Today I went to watch Battle of the Year (2013) because there was nothing else really interesting to me and I wanted something that was more entertaining fluff then anything.  This movie was exactly what I expected it to be and delivered the entertaining fluff I wanted.  It was however extremely predictable and followed the standard formula for this type of movie.
Battle of the Year: The Dream Team is the most recent in the dance battle movies which have been quite popular over the last decade plus.  For me the popularity of this move started by when I was in high school with Bring it On (2000) which was focused on a cheerleading composition, and Save the Last Dance (2001), which was about a ballet dancer learning to dance in the south side of Chicago, the formula really settled into what it is today with Step Up (2006) and its series.  There have been many, many more movies that fit into this type of series, focusing on different types of dance and competition.  I even clump Drumline (2002) in with this as it had the battle off element to it.  Battle of the year focuses on B Boys and the breakdancing genre.  To me this the dancing and choreography was very Next Dance Crew and seemed to be focused on the people working as a unit to do some pretty fantastic choreography.  To me it seemed like there were some hints to the older generation and how they are not quite so hip to what it being done by the younger generation and the focus was on the older characters but it was still pretty awesome to watch the dance sequences. 
Battle of the Year stars Laz Alonso as Dante an owner of a hip hop clothing and apparel franchise that is sponsoring the American B Boy team for this years Battle of the Year and he enlists Blake, played by Josh Holloway to be the new coach. He has been wallowing in his own misery for several years because of the death of his wife and son and his friend Dante wants to get him out of it and use his talent to get a winning crew together.  Blake realizes that an intern Franklyn, played by Josh Peck, knows a lot about the current work of B Boying and hires him as his assistant to pull the crew together.  They have a completion to bring their team together and then have to decided who will represent the USA in the battle.  There is the stereotypical strife amongst the boys,  the a girl cant be a part of this (as the choreographer) and the sorrow that Blake is trying to deal with. This movie also starts Chris Brown as one of the B Boys and many, many, many, amazing dancers as fellow crew members.
This movie was exactly what I thought it would be with was formula story telling, there will be no real surprises in anything that happens or how the movie comes together, much overacting and intensity between the characters, but high production value and amazing dance sequences. They did the thing that I don't like where they would shoot things close up and then cut amongst angles.  I would have liked it better if the shot was wider or more continuous in shot (like in many of the television to today) as I know that these sequences were fantastic and that these dancers are capable of the continuous performances as that is what these crews do in their performances and on television. I was a little worried about how they were going to use Chris Brown as he is not on par with the other guys in the movie and I think they did it well for the movie, but I think that it would have worked just as fine to have anyone play that part as Chris Brown doesn't really seem like a big draw to the movie for me.  I think that those who want to see this movie would see it with or without him in it.
This movie was high intensity and lot of production value, which entertained me throughout.  It is worth seeing for those who like this type of movie or who watch these dance crew competitions.  It is cool seeing it on the big screen but could just as well be watched on television.  Basically if you were interested in seeing it see it, but if any of the movie I mentioned above are not your cup of tea, this movie is not for you.

My Rating: 2-

Sunday, September 15, 2013

The Family (2013): Review

This weekend I went and saw the new movie The Family with my family and going into this movie I was excited to see what it would be because I was intrigued by the trailers and what I saw looked like an interesting set up.  This movie was fun to watch and takes you on a snapshot within the journey of this family.  It was quite predictable and at times a bit sluggish but overall it was a fun moseying ride.
They Family is a movie about an ex-mob family who is in witness protection.  They have been in the program for many years (I think it was six) and they have just been relocated to a new small town in Normandy, France.  They keep getting relocated because they just don't really fit in.  As you would expect they are in the witness protection program because the father Fred, played by Robert De Niro, ratted on his fellow mobsters and they are now trying to hunt him down and kill his family.  In this new town, he pretends to be a writer and takes on the task of writing his memories of being a mob boss and this allows the avenue of flash backs to their time in the mall.  The mother Maggie, played by Michelle Pfiepher, struggles with assimilating but is the glue in the family and getting them adjusted to their new environment.  The daughter Belle, played by Dianna Agron, is seventeen and discovers she fancies the college math tutor and generally is a person who listens and connects with her younger brother Warren, played by John D'Leo, who sets up multiple hustles and schemes at the school to keep himself interested.  Also thrown in the mix is FBI agent Robert Stansfield, played by Tommy Lee Jones, who is tired of all the problems this family and specifically Fred causes him and two FBI surveillance agents.  As this family struggles with not really fitting in with this Normandy town and the mob back in the states' assassin catching up with them the family has to do what they can to survive.
This movie was worth watching and I think of it as a Sunday afternoon movie.  It takes it time to get where it is going and focuses on a short snapshot of this family and their dynamics but it holds interest but it nothing super exciting.  I liked the interactions between the characters and actors and especially liked the children's interactions with each other and how they work to support each other.  There is a lot of violence in the sense that people die and you know they are being abused but it is not shown directly and their is minimal gore.  This movie is really about the characters.  I think the movie tried to be funnier then it was, I did not find it super funny although the trailers did focus on that aspect of the movie.
Like I said, this is more of a Sunday afternoon, watch on television movie, but compared to some of the stinkers movies out right now, it holds up fairly well.

My Rating: 2

Saturday, September 14, 2013

The Music Man (1962): Recap and Review

Tonight I went down to the Old Redford Theatre, as the Motor City Theatre Organ Society was hosting an event with Shirley Jones and playing her 1962 movie, The Music Man, and it was a lot of fun.  Before the movie, I had the opportunity to attend the meet and greet with Shirley Jones, who stars as Marian Paroo and had a chance to here her speak about her life growing up and about her newly released memories, as well as get a photo op with her. 
The Music Man has a spot in my heart because it was the first musical that I ever was a part of back in school. My high school put it on when I was a sophomore and I played the bassoon in the pit orchestra.  It was a very fun experience from my teenage years.  Since then I have watched this movie several times, seen the not as nostalgic 2003 remake, saw a production of it on Broadway, and had the music on my ipod (and cd before that).  The song Goodnight My Someone has a been a staple at being stuck in my head and something I hum and probably annoy my friends with.
The Music Man is a musical about Professor Harry Hill, played by Robert Peterson, who a traveling salesman who's con is selling musical instruments and band uniforms to towns and leaving with the money before they discover that he doesn't know how to conduct a boy's band.  He find himself in Rivercity, Iowa where he tries to set up this con by saying that bands keep the kids out of trouble which is caused by the a new Pool table coming into town.  While he does this, he meets the local library and piano teacher Marian, who is not impressed by Professor Hill but comes around to liking him as he gets her little brother excited about something.  There relationship develops as Hill schemes the town and encourages them to sing and dance.  At the end, he falls for Marian and stands up to try and actually get the kids to play in a band.
This movie is classic old Hollywood musical and is a great show.  The music is catchy and fun and introduced the Shipoopi .  It has your standard musical numbers and dance scenes.  Shirley Jones is fantastic in the leading female role and the banter between the characters is a lot of fun.  This is a classic musical that I think everyone should see, especially if you like old school, big production, Hollywood films. My opinion is very much influenced by how much this show has been a part of my school experience and is a part of me learning that I love musicals.

My Rating: 3+

My Nostalgic Rating: 4
My Nostalgia for this movie cannot be higher as this movie was significant for me in my high school, theatre, and musical experiences.  It was a very positive experience for me to be a part of, plus it is a fantastic show and movie.

Hold Up Rating: This movie is a classic and embodies the musical of this era.  It is very much a period piece and has no real hold up for today's world.  I don't remember that last time anyone talked about traveling salesman still existing, libraries are not the powerhouses they once were, and within the movie they have actually fire in their light poles. The band stuff with the instruments, uniforms, and marches being played are the things that keep this movie current as bands are still playing these songs.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Pitch Black (2000): Review

After watching Riddick (2013) earlier today with my dad and brother I decided that I wanted to go back and watch the original in the series Pitch Black (2000) as I had never seen it before and I liked Riddick enough to see the original and better rated of the films.  With Riddick as a baseline I was prepared for the over acting and low budget and was expecting an action movie that I would watch on cable and that is what I got.  I liked the movie and it is something that I would watch again if it came out on television and is worth watching if you like your standard run of the mil low budget action movie.
Pitch Black stars Vin Disel as Richard B. Riddick who is an escaped convict who is being transported back on a spaceship that has forty passages being kept in some type of status. He is being watched by bounty hunter William J. Johns, played by Cole Hauser.  This spaceship crash lands on a planet where the survivors include pilot Carolyn Fry, played by Radha Mitchell,  an orphan Jack, played by Rhiana Griffith, and Abu "Iman" al-Walid, played by Keith David, and others. They discover that they are on a planet in a solar system with two suns that has a seemly deserted mining complex, but that there are also creatures who live in the dark that would love to kill them.  They work to try and get a ship fly ready, while not quiet trusting each other, and trying not to die, especially when their is an eclipse coming that will  put the world into darkness. 
I think that this movie is pretty solid for what it is.  A stranded but have to get off of a alien planet with scary creatures trying to kill you and a group of people with their own secrets.  I think that for the budget that it was and being made in 2000 the graphics are fine but the coloring of the planet in the daytime is a bit weird.  This may be due to watching it on a HD television when it is a 2000 movie release.  The acting was a little much but Vin Disel was alright in it.  I think that he was still natural enough on screen that the acting didn't seem as forced as in Riddick (2013).
Basically this is definitely worth a watch or re-watch if you have a few hours to fill.

My Rating: 2+

My Hold up Rating: Fair- the graphics are a bit poor but it was low budget and doesn't really try to do more then it was able to do.

Riddick (2013): Review

This morning I went to see the new Vin Disel movie Riddick and for me overall this movie was just basic crappy action movie and therefore wasn't as bad as I was expecting. But I really wasn't expecting anything spectacular anyway so all it really needed to do was not piss me off and it managed to not do that so overall it was worth the am movie ticket price I paid, but for many people it is just worth an on cable television viewing.
Riddick is the third movie (there is also a fourth animated movie) in which Vin Disel plays Richard B. Riddick a  man from the planet Furia.  This movie follows Riddick after he was left for dead on a desert like planet after being doped into thinking that he was being taken back to his home planet.  He soon discovers that there are many dangerous things on this planet and that he it would not be a good thing for him to stay there much longer so he turns the distress beacon at the way station he found and broadcasts his identify and location out.  Because he has a bounty and his previous exports two groups are interested in him. This first run group is led by Santana, played by Jordi Molla, and is a merry group of mercenary types and the second is led by Boss Johns, played by Matt Nable, and seems more military in order.  Of course they go after Riddick with their own agenda and differing styles.  Many people are killed along the way as Riddick is trying to get off the planet, others are tying to capture/kill Riddick, and the creatures on the planet out for blood.
This movie definitely earns its censorship rating of R as it is very bloody and at times gory but it has the thing that these movies like to do with unneeded female nudity.  It is mainly put in there for the male audiences, and most nudity in movies, at least in my opinion, is unneeded. In this one it was just obviously thrown in there just be there and to make one line of dialogue work.  During the second instance of nudity with Dohl's character, played by Katee Sackhoff, it was just really she would so not be topless right then.
Like I said this movie was pretty much standard crappy action movie on an alien planet movie and you could tell that it had a lower budget for CGI stuff, but the graphics were a lot better then some that I saw, so for me this wasn't a big deal.  This main thing for me was at the beginning of the movie.  It dragged on and had me thinking, if the whole movie is like this it is going to be a loooong movie.  I think it is because it was focused only on Vin Disel, who is not the best actor to begin with and really has him focusing on the presence of hey I am this tough guy who likes to make I'm a badass face and strike a strong pose to make a manly silhouette.  Once the other characters come in, the movie was fine and the interactions were normal and fine action movie on dangerous alien planet.  The ended was pretty stupid but had to be like it was because of the set up of what was coming before it.
This movie is for people who don't mind crappy action movies and I would recommend watching it once it comes our on television.

My Rating: 1+

Sunday, September 1, 2013

The Grandmaster (2013): Review

Today I went and saw The Grandmaster with my family and it basically what I expected it to be.  It met my expectations with cinematography and martial arts sequences but was hard to follow due to the disjointed plot lines and subtitles.
This movie although very artistic and beautiful is really only for people who were interested to see it in the first place and those who like this Chinese, marital arts type movies because that is what it is and the niche it was made for. It is also important to know that it is subtitled through out and for me, at times, the subtitles were not left on the screen long enough to read through, especially at times when they also put on the screen who the new person was.
The movie is set to be the story of Bruce Lee's martial arts master but this movie does not have anything to do with Bruce Lee or the development of the master learning Kung Fu.  I think that putting the focus of the advertising on it being Bruce Lee's master doesn't really add anything to the movie. This story is about Ip Man a master in Wing Chung who lived in Foshan, a southern place in China, he is put in different situations where he spars and has battles with different people.  The most specifically being the daughter of Northern master, Gong Er who uses the style of the 64 hands.  Due to the war Ip Man goes to Hong Kong and becomes a teaching master but reconnects with Gong Er. The movie then flashes back to Gong Er fighting for the honor of her family after the death of her father. The movie ends with Ip Man being a master and how he was able to bring Kung Fu main stream, especially because he had a student named Bruce Lee.
Basically the story is hard to follow, jumps around, and expects you to kinda know who all the characters are, and to recognize who they are when they are reintroduced later on in the film.  My recommendation, if you see this film, is to just forget about the plot and keeping track of what is going on and just enjoy the visual journey it takes you on.
This movie is very well shot and extremely beautiful to look at.  The cinematography and use of contrasting colors, shadows, reflections, and movements is fantastic to watch.  The martial arts dances, and I call them dances because how the choreography comes together is in harmony and the individuals weave back and forth together with the music in harmony. The first scene is especially spectacular with the use of the rain and angles.  The music is used to great effect as it is really what sets the mood and offers the most understanding to what is going on at each time.  This movie is extremely artistic and pretty.  That being said, it does the thing that I don't like with close up action shots and when it comes to the beautiful sequences I think a lot is lost in not showing it from a perspective where you can see what is going on.  I don't mind the focus on certain body parts, specifically the hands and feet, as it showed that the characters where thoughtful and controlling of their whole bodies while fighting. 
I found it interesting that this movie focused on the small scope and it seemed that all of the fight sequences where in controlled spaces, such as a court yard, inside a house, or at a train station platform.
Like I said this movie was beautiful to watch, confusing to follow, and basically for the people who like the artistic marital arts movies.  Others will find it too confusing and not be kept interested with the beautiful cinematography or martial arts sequences.

My Rating 2+