Saturday, November 30, 2013

Frozen (2013): Review

I have been excitedly waiting for the new Disney animated movie Frozen to come out and I am super excited that I absolutely loved it. It was a lot of fun to watch, with the standard Disney songs, humorous characters, and those who are not exactly as they appear to be.  All the kids around me seemed to like it and this movie isn't just for the little girls although it is another Disney princess movie.
Frozen is ultimately a story about two very different two sisters, Elsa, voiced by Idina Menzel, who has a magic ability to freeze what is around her, and her little sister Anna, voiced by Kristen Bell. As  the little daughters of the King they used to play together with Anna loving her sister using her powers to create a winter wonderland, but one night things go wrong and Anna is accidently hit in the head by Elsa's power.  The family goes to the local rock trolls and because Anna was hit in the head and not the heart he is able to save her but not without wiping her memory of her sister's power.  It is decided that Elsa is dangerous and that she has to learn to conceal her power from the world and her sister.  Elsa is kept away where she struggles to control her power.  When the princesses are older, the King and Queen suddenly die and Elsa and Anna are left alone, Elsa to try and keep those around her safe from her power, and Anna feeling more alone then ever.  Three years later, it is Elsa's coronation day and the palace is being opened up for a festival of the coronation with Anna escaping the caste and meets Prince Hanz, voiced by Santino Fontana, and falling in love. That day all Elsa is doing is trying to keep herself under control but that snaps when Anna asks for Elsa's blessing to marry Hanz a man she met that day. Elsa denies her blessing and approval and when Anna keeps pushing her Elsa is unable to control her power and winter busts forth from her as she runs away to hid on a mountain.  Anna is determined to find her sister and along the way meets an ice merchant named Kristoff, voiced by Jonathan Geoff,  and an animated snowman named Olaf, voiced by Josh Gad. Can Anna make it to her sister before those trying to destroyer do and can she find a way to save herself and the kingdom from being destroyed by her sister's winter.

I absolutely loved this movie and am looking forward to seeing it again with my mom and sister (they were busy this weekend and I didn't want to wait).  This movie is good to see by the whole family, as is something I recommend seeing.  The story being focused on the two sisters with the other characters around them is great and for me I was drawn into the struggle of Elsa and really felt for her and she accidently hurt her sister, struggles to shut her powers in, failing because you cannot suppress your emotions in the long term, and not knowing what to do when she is overwhelmed by everything and just wanting to find out who she is and Anna a girl who doesn't understand why she lost her relationship with her older sister and only wants to be loved by those around her because she loves so intensely herself. 
There are two different princesses for the little girls to like and I expect that many Frozen gifts will be on the Christmas list this year, and for the younger boys their Olaf, who the young man (around 8 years old) who was sitting next to me during the movie just had to tell me was his favorite character after the movie ended and who laughed at his antics throughout the movie.  This movie has some stuff in it but never really get that scary so it should be fine for littler kids who are just big enough to go and sit through the whole movie. 
The story sucked me in from the get go and there were several times where I felt for the characters and how they were struggling with everything around them, this movie really got me to emotionally connect and there were enough moments of humor and fun that it kept it from getting really sappy dappy. The story was a bit simple in actually content and a few characters where just kept as their superficially shells but there was some hidden agenda's and attempts at being diabolical by some of them.
This movie was really beautiful to watch and the landscapes of the snow, with the mountains and the sky were amazing to look at.  It is amazing what is now capable with all of the technology and computers out there.  I went to see it in 3D but there was nothing that really stuck out to me as 3D as I watched it, so that means either it is unnecessary to see it in 3D or so seemly that it blends in.  But because I didn't really notice anything special about the 3D I think that the extra price isn't really worth it.
Basically I just recommend seeing this movie and foresee it become one of my animated favorites and staples that I watch.

My Rating: 3+

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Frozen (2013): Trailer

This Thanksgiving the new Disney animated movie Frozen comes out and I am excited for it.
Watch the trailer here:

Ever since I saw the first teaser trailer for this movie with the snowman and the Moose I have been interested to see what they would do with this movie.  For me there really hasn't been an animated movie released that recently that I wanted to see, I am glad that this one looks fun enough to go see and from what the trailers look like it will be exactly what a little girl would want to see coming up on the Christmas holiday. Check out my review which should be up over the Thanksgiving weekend because I am looking forward to seeing this movie.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (2013): Review

Tonight I went and saw the first showing I could of the new installment of The Hunger Games movies, Catching Fire.  I am glad to say that I enjoyed it and that for anyone excited about this movie it definitely hits that mark and the production value is much better then the first.
Catching Fire continues after the events of the first movie with Katniss, played by Jennifer Lawrence and Peeta, played by Josh Hutcherson, back in District Twelve having survived as the victors of the 74th hunger games.  Katniss is just trying to forget what happened during that time and put her life back together but the Capital and Specifically President Snow, played by Donald Sutherland, wants to see her demise.  Katniss has to struggle with her old life, which includes her sister Prim, her mother, and best friend (who is in love with her) Gale, played by Liam Hemsworth. Katniss struggles with her relationship with Peeta, because she played up her love for him in order for them both to have survived the previous Hunger Games and the world is seeing this as hope for a rebellion against the Capital.  Katniss is told by President Snow that if she doesn't help to diminish the rebellious spirit of the other districts and convince everyone of her love for Peeta, everyone she cares for will be killed.  With the guidance of previous District Twelve Victim Haymich, played by Woody Harrison, she has to convince President Snow that she is working with them.  After President Snow decides that she is too much of a threat, for the 75th annual Hunger Games also known as the third Quarter Quell the tributes from the districts are reaped from previous victors.  With that we have Katniss and Peeta going back into the arena to try and survice, both with their own opinions of which one of them should survive.  Also brought into play in the games are previous victors Finnick, played by Sam Claflin, and Johanna, played by Jena Malone. The movie also brings back Tribute Twelve Handler Effie, played by Elizabeth Banks, Katniss's stylist and friend Cinna, played by Lenny Kravitz, and television host Caesar, played by Stanley Tucci.
I think that this movie goes from good to really good because of the great cast of actors involved. To me, what makes the Hunger Games movies stand out from other teen lit movies that have been popular and  prevalent lately is the quality of actors that it has gotten to play the main characters.  Yes Jennifer Lawrence and Josh Hutcherson were not hugely know when the movie came out, but Lawrence was nominated for an academy aware for her initial big movie role and Hutcherson has always just been so darn cute and as Peeta quite loveable.  This supporting cast is fantastic in Banks, Sutherland, and Harrelson.  In Catching Fire I think that Elizabeth Banks is able to play Effie in a way where she is likable and you actually like her, where in the original Hunger Games (2012) this character was a little more one note, here she has more range and it really works for the character.  Donald Southerland is just great at playing the type of bad guys he does in these movies and it is shown in how much the President Snow role is beefed up in the movies compared to the books. Catching Fire follows along with what was started in The Hunger Games with showing the behind the scenes thinking and motivation for the decisions Snow makes and what leads to influencing the situations Katniss is put into. Woody Harrelson is once again fabulous as Haymitch and Harrelson has slowing become one of my favorite actors in general.  He continues to be able to bring you into to liking him as Haymitch, which is a character that could very easily be played too one way or another, but hits just the right notes.
With Catching fire the production value is better and the special effects fit pretty seamlessly in with the movie, except where it was suppose to have the appears of allusions the effects didn't draw notice to them being effects.  I really liked how this was done in this movie. 
With this movie, the pace of what is happening happens really fast and it packs a lot of stuff into its story.  With all the stuff going on and the fast pace of it all, the movie didn't have the feel of it being a two and a half hour movie, that being said, with the two parts of the movie (pre-arena and arena) it kinda feels slightly too full and that this book as well could have been made into two different movies.  I know many of the people who read the books would have liked more of the content from the book in there (but who doesn't want this when they see a movie of a book they have read).
Overall I really liked this movie and want to see it again just to get all of the stuff in there.  There was a lot going on and a lot of things that with the knowledge of the books you would understand how it could have had a lot more things associated with it.  This movie also puts little touches in it that are leading up to the third book in the series and are needed only so that they can be build upon, because without that in this movie it would make no sense in the next.

My Rating: 3

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Captain Phillips (2013): Review

This weekend I finally made it to see the new Tom Hanks movie, Captain Phillips.  It has been out for a while now, but there were some other movies that were higher on my list and things just didn't work out for me to see this movie before this weekend.  this fall the dramas have all been pretty good and this is continued with Captain Phillips and I had hopes for this movie because I like Tom Hanks movies and think that he is great at carrying a movie, and as he plays the title character it is important that he carries this movie.  He once again is a likable character and I found myself rooting for him, but knowing that he wasn't going to have a pleasant time.  Captain Phillips is based upon a true story but I haven't done any research on it so I don't know how true it is to what actually happens, but as the end of the movie gives an update I think it follows the main events pretty well.
Captain Phillips is a drama where a cargo ship is attached by Somalia pirates and is broken into two parts.  The first part is one the US-flagged MV Maersk Alabama where the crew is on a route to deliver their cargo and are boarded by these pirates and then the second part when Captain Philips is kidnapped and on the life boat with the four Somalians and being negotiated with by the US Navy.  The two parts of the movie go together as it is the sequence of events that happened but each has a different feel to them.  I liked both parts, the character interactions of the first part and the anticipation and anxiety of the second part. 
I think that this film was cast well and it is all centered on Tom Hanks as Captain Phillips.  I liked the mate of the ship Shane, played by Michael Chernus and found that I really liked the moments that he was on screen.  It takes a while to get the peril going, but this is needed because without it the movie would have felt like it didn't have a beginning.  Once there is interaction between Phillips and the main pirate Muse, played by Barkhad Abdi, the movie really starts to build up. 
I think that through the storytelling of this movie it was able to get me on the suspense of it and I was engrossed throughout the entire thing.  I didn't really know what was going to happen and there were enough things to keep me going oh and how is this going to end.  I really did like this movie.

My Rating: 3-

Saturday, November 16, 2013

The Best Man Holiday (2013): Review

This weekend The Best Man Holiday came out an it was a really fun movie that pulled me in and got me laughing one minuet, then crying the next, and then getting me back to laughing while I still have a tear in my eye.  To me that is the best I can hope for and exactly what I want with this type of movie.  This movie is a rated R comedy that follows the standard plot of getting old friends back together in one place, where some of them have fallen out but need to reconnect because they truly need each other.  When together the personalities conflict, humor is relied upon and there is things that pulls at your heartstrings to get you really engrossed with what is happening during this snapshot of the people's lives.
Going into this movie, I was thinking that this group was getting together because one of the guys is getting married but that is not the case, the group is getting together for a Christmas weekend just because they are good friends and it has been too long since they were all together.
This movie consists of several main characters who's backstories are introduced very quickly in the beginning of the movie but is a little confusing because there are quite a few characters.  The main male seems to be Harper, played by Taye Diggs, who has been having problem with his long time best friend and football star Lance, played by Morris Chestnut, because Harper slept with Lance's wife Mia, played by Monica Calhoun, years ago.  Mia is the lynch pin of this group and desperately wants to get everyone back together and on good terms this holiday.  Everything in this movie is based on the relationships between the characters and basically everyone has some type of history.  Harper and Lance are estranged because of Harper's betray.  Harper needs money and is trying to figure out how he can write Lance's biography as his next big book. Jordan, played by Nia Long, is best friends to Mia and old friends with Harper, but at odds with Harper's very pregnant wife Robin, played by Sanaa Lathan.  Harper and Lance are old friends with Quentin, played by Terrence Howard, and Julian, played by Harold Perrineau.  Quentin is the one of the group who is always making a joke, being inappropriate, making sexual comments and just being entertaining.  He is Mia's sister but has a long standing love hate relationship with Shelby, played by Melissa De Sousa.  I never really got how Shelby is part of the group except that she used to be in a relationship with Julian (but I think she may be sister to Lance as she is treated like family in the movie).  Julian is married to Candace played by Regina Hall, who has some problems with her husband because he is told about an old film that is now on the internet where Candace took money for sexual favors as a younger women.  Lots of situations happened and inter-drama amounts the characters. You also have Brian, played by Eddie Cibrian, who is the token white guy in this movie who is dating Jordan.
I liked this movie from start to finish, it kept my interest, I cared about the majority of the characters and liked the drama between them and I laughed more then I thought I would. The beginning was slightly confusing and it took a minute for me to understand which person was linked to who and how, but once the movie got going it made sense.  To me Taye Diggs was my least favorite as he seemed to be put in the foreground of the story and it seemed like he was suppose to be likable, but I didn't find him to be as likable as it was pushing for him to be.  Because of some of the underhanded things he was doing, and yes some of them where taken by his fellow characters wrong, I didn't find myself really caring about him and therefor the drama between him and Lance was the storyline I was just watching to see the rest. 
Terrence Howard was by the far the best in this movie, he perfectly embodied Quentin, who was a character who easily could have been hated but because of how he played it and how you could see the care he had for the people around him was just fantastic.  He was crass, inappropriate, high most of the time, and whenever he was on scene I found myself laughing.  It was also great how you could see his care for his friends and his genuine affection for his sister. 
I was surprised going into this movie that I liked it as much as I did, the story kept me interested, the character interplay was fun, the dialogue was good and it had the right amount of emotion to get you sucked in.  I would recommend this to anyone who like character driven stories and these type of situations movies.  This was one of the best ones I have seen in a while.  There were things that were predictable and it wasn't very original in concept but it was fun and I kinda want to see it again and don't want to wait until it comes out on DVD.  Go see it.

My Rating: 3

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Thor: The Dark World (2013): Review

This weekend I went and saw the next installment of Marvel's phase two and it was a movie that was a lot of fun throughout the whole experience.  It had a fantastic balanced of humor, gags, action, interplay between characters and references to the other movies. although this movie was a lot of fun and I would recommend it to basically everyone as fun superhero action fun there was little that was memorable about the movie or that really stood out as something special.
Thor: The Dark World is the newest installment of Phase Two of the Marvel Avengers  and follows along the storylines of the movie that came before.  Although it is helpful to have seen the movie before hand, I think that basically everything needed to follow the plot is explained in the movie or from watching the Avengers.  In Thor (2011) you are introduced to the main characters; Thor, played by Chris Hemsworth, is the god of thunder who saves the world with his mighty hammer; Loki, played by Tom Hiddleson, is his adopted brother who is resentful of what he feels he should have gotten as his birthright as a prince of the Frost Giants; Jane Foster, played by Natalie Portman, is a human scientist who assisted Thor in the first movie and is the romantic interest; Darcy, played by Kat Dennings, is the former intern of Jane and works to understand the science what is happening between the realms; Dr. Erik Selvig, played by Stellan Skarsgard, a scientist who played a role in the Avengers when he was taken over by Loki and his knowledge of the different realms used; Odin, played by Anthony Hopkins, who is the King of Asgard and father to Thor and adopted father of Loki; Heimdall, played by Idris Elba, who is the gatekeep between Asgard and the other realms as well as able to see that which is unseen by other; as well as a few fellow Asgardian Warriors and Thor's friends.
In The Dark World, the stories of these characters continue but this time with a new villain trying to send all the realms back into darkness.  Five thousand years ago the Dark Elfs lead by Malekith, played by Christopher Eccleston, who was trying to use a powerful fluid energy called the Aether to plunge the realms back into a state of darkness where their kind used to rule. While trying to do this they majority of the Dark Elves they were destroyed by Odin's Father Bor but Malekith was able to escape and wait until the next convergence to try his plot again.  The convergence is a moment in time that happens every five thousand years when all of the realms are in alignment and their gravity is interacting with each other.  Jane and Darcy discover that physics is going wonky and Jane finds herself become the newest host of the Aether.  Thor and the other Asgardians discover what is happening and that the Dark Elves are once again making a play for the Aether and Thor wants to save the world as well as Jane.  Being at odds with his father on how to do this, Thor seeks the help of the imprisoned Loki, hoping but not really believing that he can be trusted.  Thor tries to find a away to be the hero and save everyone from the deadly Makekith and his fellow Dark Elves.

This movie was a lot of fun all the through it, I found myself entertained by the dialoged between characters, he situations that they were in, the in jokes and gags that were added, and the action sequences (which were kept a reasonable lengths compared to some other recent action movies). For me this had the balance of what I like in these type of action movies.  It was fun, didn't take itself too seriously but didn't go too far into campy humorfest.  It has a story that needed quiet a bit of explanation, but for me it had to have things that were weird because it is a Marvel comic book movie about Thor.  It is difficulty to believe that many villains or entities could stand up to Thor as he is a god, not just an enhanced/ special human.  Although the story tried to explain the physics of what it going on, I recommend not trying to figure it out and just go along for the ride that is the movie and enjoy it.
I think that Chris Hemsworth did a great job as Thor and you can see how in this third installment of him laying the character he has settled into and embodied the character.  There is a moment in the beginning of the film, that is put in there solely for objectification purposes which shows the amazing amount of work the Hemsworth put into to get the physic of Thor and I have to say that he looks really good in that scene, this guy is seriously hot.  Tom Hiddleston continues to be fantastic Loki and the interplay between these two is great.  The acting overall in this movie is overdone and dramatic but that is the type of movie this is and overall works.  The only person I found myself getting annoyed at was Natalie Portman, which surprises me because I usually like her.
I found myself laughing throughout and movie and really liked all things that were put in there, the standard Stan Lee cameo was fun and there was also a cameo from another well know Avenger character in the middle of the movie that is probably by favorite part of the whole films.  You will know what it is when you see it.
Although I did not see this movie in 3D I can see the work that was put into the CG and could imagine how well some of the shots would have looked in 3D, especially all of the depth in the scenery and the floating of the light orbs into the sky. I think that the specially effects were done very well and did not take away from the movie, although I knew that some of the sequences and scenes were significantly CG it was not blatantly there.
This is a movie that I would recommend seeing and although it is nothing truly memorable in components the whole experiences is fun and exciting.  Basically I think you should see this movie.

My Rating: 3