Saturday, March 29, 2014

Noah (2014): Review

Last night I went and saw the new Russell Crowe movie Noah which is the adaptation of the biblical story of Noah and his arc.  This movie was a big undertaking and achieves the grandness that it is was aiming for but wasn't that great of a movie overall.  It seemed to be one of those movies that relies on the public's familiarity with the name attached to the story and the basic plot as well as use actors that people would recognize as a way to get people into the movie and them muck with the story and do whatever they want with the movie.  Although it was a grandiose movie and hits the main points of the Noah story it overacted and focused on a drama/conflict that isn't even hinted at in the story.
The Noah movie hit all the main points of the biblical story but as it is only several chapters in the Old Testament (Genesis 5-9) and the movie is over two hours the creators of the movie took a lot of liberties.  It stars Russel Crowe as Noah, the last remaining descendant of Seth (Adam and Eve's Son), who God has chosen to build an arc to survive the great flood which will destroy the world and mankind who has given into their wickedness.  During this he comes in contact with the wickedness of man and sees how they are not worth saving and need to be destroyed.  Man, specifically King Tubal-cain, played by Ray Winstone, who is set on taking all that he wants, which includes the arc and destroying Noah. Also in the movie are Noah's sons: Shem, played by Douglass Booth; Ham, played by Logan Lerman; and Japheth, played by Leo McHugh Carroll. Also included is Noah's wife named Naameh, played by Jennifer Connolly, and Shem's wife Ila, played by Emma Watson. Although the wives are not given any real focus in the biblical story they are a big part of the movie and counterpoint to Noah.  Anthony Hopkins makes an appearance as Noah;s grandfather Methuselah.

Overall this movie focuses on the struggle of Noah and how he decides on what the message from God means and how he has executes it.  He is both supported and challenged by those around him and seeks the help of Watchers, fallen angels from heaven who are basically these big rock creatures.  They both assist Noah in building the arc and battling the evilness of man.
My main problem with this movie is that it felt like the over two hour movie that it was. I liked the incorporation of Jennifer Connolly and Emma Watson because those where the characters whose story and journey I actually connected with ad kept me focused through the rest of what was happening and the OTT drama and undeveloped internal conflict of the other characters.  I felt like with the others they told us what they were going through and what was happening but didn't really do what was needed to connect with the person and care to follow.

The movie was a big production and had a lot of work put into it. I saw the 2D version and besides the part with the snake it didn't seem like I missed anything from the 3D version.  I did do a lot of wider shots, which I appreciated.
Basically there was nothing horrible about this movie but it wasn't anything that I would have been bummed for not have seen.  It is something that you have to go into knowing and expecting it to be a diversion of the biblical story and go with the additions and changes.  It is something that is worth waiting to watch on television if you even care to see it then.

My Rating: 1

Friday, March 21, 2014

Divergent (2014): Review

Tonight I went and saw one of the first showings of the new teen book to movie adaptation Divergent.  I would have gone and seen the earlier show tonight but I couldn't because I was working, but after I got done I was able to get my sister to come and see it with me and I am happy to say that it was better then I thought it would be.  Going in I was trying not to get my hopes up too much, because for some of these types of movies although the movie itself is entertaining, the whole experience just inst able to deliver.
Divergent (2014) is the movie adaptation of the 2011 Veronica Roth movie of the same name.  It is the first movie in a trilogy of three and the second and third movies are already scheduled for release in the upcoming years.  The story itself is complicated and has a lot of pieces that fit together to create the whole.  Overall the movie did a good job but I think that the book had so many things that were important it was harder to whittle it down to the movie and the movie is quite long coming in at just under two and a half hours. Divergent is set in a future Chicago where the world that has been destroyed by war and the remaining people have divided themselves into five groups in order to keep order within their society.  Every year the sixteen years old take an aptitude test to see where they naturally fall into the system, it is then up to them to choose which faction they will choose to be a part of and who;s ruling characteristic they will dedicate their life too (it doesn't have to be the faction their aptitude is for).  The five factions are Abnegation (selfless), Erudite (intelligent), Dauntless (brave), Amity (peaceful), and Candor (honest). Although there are five factions in this world, Divergent focuses on three Abnegation, Erudite, and Dauntless.  
Divergent follows Tris (Beatrice), played by Shailene Woodly, a girl raised in Abnegation who has never felt like she was naturally selfless and had always been drawn to the Dauntless.  When she takes her aptitude test which is administered by Dauntless Tori, played by Maggie Q, is found to be Divergent.  Divergent means that she does not fit into just one characteristic and is the type of person who is dangerous to this system that requires people be categorized into one thing.  She is told that if the leaders find out she is Divergent she will be killed.  She chooses to change her faction and joins Dauntless where she meets Four, played by Theo James and finds out that it is not so easy to blend in and belong to the brave faction then she thought.  As she struggles to make the cut through Dauntless initiation she finds herself attracted to Four, hiding her true self from everyone, and drawn into the struggle for power of leadership between the factions.
Other important characters are Jeanine, played by Kate Winselet, who is the leader of Erudite and is seeking out the Divergent; Tris's mother Natalie, played by Ashley Judd; Tris's brother Caleb, played by Andel Elgort, who chooses the Erudite faction; a leader of Dauntless Eric, played by Jai Courtney; Christina, played by Zoe Kravitz, a Dauntless transfer from Candor who becomes friends with Tris; and Peter, played by Miles Teller, a Dauntless transfer who is at odds with Tris.  There are many other characters who are pieces in the overall puzzle of the story and pull the parts of the story together but these were the main ones in my opinion.
I really did enjoy this movie and I think that it helped that I had read the books and I new the importance of the things put in and who all the characters were, that being said, I then also became disappointed in how the movie spoon fed the audience information about the animosity coming from Erudite and how they ampted up, in a way that took away from the actual book story this conflict.  In the book you follow Tris through her struggles and discovery of things not necessarily being what they seem but in the movie it puts it out there and even makes it obvious to others involved.  The good thing about this breaking down of the story and letting the audience know what is happening, is that it helps to have all the background information for the story According to my sister who has not read the book the overall movie made scene but to me it seemed like she asked more clarifying questions then normal for her attending a movie where I have read the book and she hasn't. I would have liked if they stuck a bit closer to the book at the end conflict as I think the dramatic level could have still been high, it will be interesting to see how they string this chance into the other movies.

Like I said, I really enjoyed this movie and felt like it was entertaining and kept my interest. It does some of the things that I don't like in movies with lot of close up shots and action sequences.  I just wanted the camera to pan out and let me see what was happening, hold the wider shots for just a little bit longer, or let me see more then just a close up on the faces of the actors. I am starting to just except that movie do this but it still bugs me.

I really liked the overall cast of this movie and thought that they worked together.  Theo James was great as Four and he fit the bill of the hunky, mysterious guy that you cant help but be attracted and drawn to but you know probably is going to bring some danger with him.  With increasing his age and having an actor play him who is older helped me with really going with how good looking he is 'cos he looks quite fine in many of these scenes.  The supporting cast was good and worked well off each other.  Shailene Woodl as Tris was fine but for some reason I struggle with seeing her meld into the character and feel that another actress could have done the same or better then her in this movie, she just didn't seem up to the task of playing the internal struggle of Tris and the warring parts of herself.
Divergent has all of the things needed to have a great teen lit book movie adaptation. There is internal snuggle, drama, conflict, attraction, danger, etc.  I recommend seeing this movie for sure for anyone who likes these book adaptions, and it is a movie that although the original target audience of the book are teenagers translates well into a movie for a wider demographic.  

My Rating: 3

Friday, March 14, 2014

Veronica Mars Movie (2014): Review

Today the Veronica Mars movie came out and I was happy to be able to see it.  I have recently discovered that I am indeed a Marshmallow and just wish that I had discovered the fabulousness of Veronica Mars the television show earlier (check out my veronica mars fandome experience here ). I really loved this movie and it hit on most of the things I wanted from it. The main thing was I just wanted more of all the little components and things that they put in but with it just being a 107 minute movie it did a pretty good job.

Veronica Mars the movie takes place nine years after the last episode of the show (it doesn't include the mini season 4 pilot the FBI years- but does make a reference to how a character had heard she joined the FBI) with Veronica, played by Kristin Bell, having left Neptune and Hurst college to get her Bachelors Degree in psychology and then went on to Law school in NYC. For those who have not seen the television show you will still be able to understand what is going on because the movie starts with a summary of show and how Veronica has left her old ways behind. This is done in Veronica voice over which is a staple of the show.
Veronica starts that movie after completing law school trying to get a job prior to taking the bar, and in a relationship with Piz, played by Chris Lowell, who she has been back together with for a year.  Her long ago love Logan Echolls, played by Jason Dohring, gets into trouble back in Neptune after his girlfriend is found by him murdered and he becomes the key suspect.  He asks for Veronica's help and for her to work her old magic and get him out of this spot.  Helping him brings Veronica back to Neptune, where she gets sucked back into her old pattern of sleuthing and putting herself in danger, plus attending her ten year high school reunion.  Veronica also runs into many of old friends, allies, and adversaries as she tries to find out what really happened and who set up Logan.

Like I said this movie is made for the fans of Veronica Mars but can also be enjoyed by people who have not seen it.  My sister went with me to watch it and said that she liked it and it made sense to the non initiated (she did say that it seemed more like a long television episode then movie but I loved all the things they put in).   This movie brings back together many of the characters from the movies and weaves them into the plot or just into the general story of the movie (it is their high school reunion after all). To see a breakdown of the characters and cast click here .
I think that this movie did a good job of bringing in references to the television show and had a little bit of screen time for most of my favorite and the important recurring characters.  I think that these moments will be the hardest to understand from those who have not seen the movie but I don't think it will really hinder the movie that much.  I enjoyed the Dax Shepherd cameo, he and Kristen Bell played well off each other.

I really enjoyed this movie and think that everyone should go see it and get into the television show as it is good fun with its Camp Noir flavor.  This movie's mystery is not that complex and for me there wasnt really anything that was super surprising or anxiety provoking, but it was fun.  I was definitely pulled into the team Logan vs. Team Piz triangle and I was defiantly rooting for team Logan (go LoVe)
 but it is really all focused around Veronica and who she really is.  Is she really able to put her past behind her and move on as a big shot New York lawyer or is she really kidding herself with being able to let a good mystery go.  You will have to see it to see what Veronica does.

My Rating: 3
My Enjoyment Rating: 4-

There is an extra little scene after the movie but it doesn't add to the plot, it is just a continuation of a cameo earlier in the movie.

Note- You can already buy/rent Veronica Mars the movie on itunes and amazon instant video so if you don't want to go to the theaters to see it you can enjoy it at home!!!!!

Veronica Mars Movie (2014): The Characters and Cast

Here is a quick breakdown of Veronica Mars characters who are in the movie, to help keep some of them straight.

Main characters
Veronica Mars (Kristin Bell)-

 Our title character who is sucked back into her old ways of being a private eye and getting into trouble, to help long ago love and friend Logan when he is accused of a murder he didn't commit. She is struggling with who she is and the person she completely left behind when he left Neptune.

Keith Mars (Enrico Colantoni)

Veronica's dad who has been working as a private eye since the television show.  He wants what is best for his daughter and wants her to succeed. Basically a great dad.

Logan Echolls (Jason Dohring)

Has a love and hate relationship with Veronica that goes back a long time. He is relying on Veronica to help him and still has a passionate chemistry with Veronica.

Wallace Fennell (Percy Daggs III)

Friend of Veronica who has been a rock to Veronica.  He works as a basketball coach at Neptune High where he previously was a star player.

Weevil (Francis Capra)

ex motorcycle gang member who went straight and is now a loving husband and father.  He used to be Veronica connection with the "other" side of Neptune.

Mac (Tina Majorino)

Veronica's friend who is a computer wiz.  She also was an outcast back in school.

Dick Casablancas (Ryan Hansen)

 Friend of Logan, who is always making comments and quips.  He always seems to somehow be involved in what is going on and always brings a good laugh.

Piz (Chris Lowell)

Crushed on Veronica back in college and is currently dating her. Is the good guy to Logan's bad boy. The dependable choice for Veronica.

Secondary Characters and Cameos
Gia Goodman (Krysten Ritter)

Classmate of Veronica who struggled with her feelings for Veronica after High school but had a superficial relationship with Veronica prior to graduation.

Madison Sinclair (Amanda Noret)

 adversary of Veronica who was always trying to put down Veronica and do mean things to her.  Continues to hate Veronica with Veronica feeling the same way about her.

Deputy Sacks (Brandon Hillock)

A deputy in the Neptune Sheriff department who was a recurring character on the series.  Is not the sharpest knife in the drawer but underneath he was always trying.

Leo D'Amato (Max Greenfield)

Used to be a deputy in the Neptune sheriff department but is not a Detective. Briefly dated Veronica and assisted her in her cases (both knowingly and unknowingly).

Vinnie Van Lowe (Ken Marino)

The other private eye in Neptune who was more loose in his moral practices.  Is currently working as a paparazzi selling clips of celebrities.

Cliff McCormick (Daran Norris)

Cliff was the "I know a lawyer" character who popped up throughout the series to help out Veronica.  I really like this character and was hoping that he would be in the movie.

Celeste Kane (Lisa Thornhill)- Mother of Veronica's murdered friend Lily, and mother to her ex boyfriend Duncan.  Has always been quite the bitchy character.

Sheriff Dan Lamb (Jerry O'Conner) - Older brother to former Sheriff Don Lamb, who is even worse then his bother.  He isn't just inept but corrupt.

Assorted Neptune High Students- there are other Neptune High school students that are in this movie and some of them are more then just there but I didn't really remember them and the movie explains enough about them for what is going on.

Check out my review for the Veronica Mars Movie (2014) here

Saturday, March 1, 2014

The LEGO Movie (2014): Review

This weekend I saw The Lego Movie and boy was it a lot of fun, yes it was pretty much nonsense but it was a fun journey and very enjoyable to watch.  I was uncertain what this movie ultimately would become but it ended up being a fun mix of different types of Legos and possible reality of how their lives might be if LEGO creatures and people were sentient.
The Lego movie is focused around Emmett, voiced by Chris Pratt, who is an ordinary construction worker Lego who is mistaken for the "special" who is mentioned in a prophecy about a MasterBuilder who will save the Lego realms, which have been taken over by President/ Lord Business, voiced by Will Farrell, who is set on having the Lego realm reach perfection through being set with Kragle.  Emmett is drawn into this battle when he is fused with a special piece which can stop the Kragle.  He is assisted by Master Lego Builders Wyldstyle, voiced by Elizabeth Banks; Batman, voiced by Will Arnett; Vitruvius, voiced by Morgan Freeman; Unikitty, voiced by Alison Brie; 1980s space man Benny, voiced by Charlie Day; and many others.  All while being chased by Lord Business and Bad Cop, voiced by Liam Neeson, and the robot/skeletons.

Like I said this movie is a lot of fun and comes down to the different ways to look at and play with Legos.  The build whatever you can image and it doesn't matter what you make, or follow the instructions and make what the kit is for way.  In this Lord Business is pushing instructions on all of the Legos and Emmett is the epitome of this and goes along with the "Life Is Awesome" motto.  He is drawn into this battle and has to try and stand up and be the hero of this story but can he do it.   Can he stop Lord Business from using the Kragle and establishing his perfection.
This movie is fun and goes from one set piece to another.  I liked this movie and although it had a lot going on to get the different types of Legos out there, it is a lot of fun and I enjoyed the overall ride.  There is nothing really sophisticated with this movie, but it has the nostalgic factor of playing with Legos, the romantic tension and ineptitude of Emette with Wyldstyle, and the battle of good verses evil.  This is definable a movie worth watching with the family but you have to just go along for the ride.

My Rating: 2

Non-Stop (2014): Review

This weekend the new Liam Neeson action flick Non-Stop came out and I was hoping that it would be solid and I am sorry to say that I was disappointed with the overall film. It wasn't completely horrible but is not worth paying the money to see in theaters and does not stand up to what I now expect from Liam Neeson.
Non-Stop starts Neeson as Bill Marks, a haggard, alcoholic Air Marshall who is on an international flight to London. In the middle of the flight he is contacted by an unknown passenger on the flight who informs Bill that if 150 million dollars into a bank account.  Bill has to discover who is threatening the people of the plane, while he is being taunted, sent in false directions, and being set up to look as if he is the one who has hijacked the plane.

Bill is surrounded by many possible civilians and claimed allies including fellow passengers: Jen, played by Julianne Moore;  Zack, played by Nate Parker; Tom, played by Scott McNairy; Austin, played by Corey Stoll; Fahim, played by Omar Metwally; and crew members: Nancy, played by Michelle Dockery; Kyle, played by Jason Butler Harner; and Gwen, played by Lupita Nyong'o.
Like I said overall I was disappointed with this movie and I think that the main problem for me is that I didn't really like or care about any of the people.  The best was Moore and this was due to her natural quality on screen and tendency to be likable overall.  I struggled with feeling for Liam Neeson's Bill as it wasn't until a ways into the film that it goes into his back story and why he is tortured and a sympathetic character.  The only one who you really felt sorry for or connected with the fear was little Becca, played by Quinn McColgan, but she felt like she was just put in and got enough screen time so wanted the plane to survival because there was a little girl on it.
The overall feel of the story was one of following what Bill was going through but I think that he made stupid decision was overrun by his emotions and paranoia instead of the haggard, been through too much shit, cool as steel action hero that I expect in movies and who you root for because they are just bad ass.  Because I know Neeson is capable of pulling this off added to my disappointment.  This movie tried to play up the tension that it could be anyone who is the mastermind but again there is too much distraction and paranoia and not enough focus on plot.  This added to the story, which is pretty action basic (small, confined space, with a killer picking them off) it was important that you were drawn in by the acting, scrip, and directing be compelling but it really wasn't for most of the film.
That being said, I did enjoy the ending of the movie and how everything came together one the real danger was identified, if that energy could have gone throughout the movie it would have been much better.
Like I said I was disappointed in the overall movie, but it was better then some that I said, so it would be something that is worth watching on DVD or television, but is not a must see and is no big deal if missed.

My Rating: 1