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Flawed Documentary of a Great Man
The purpose of a documentary is twofold. First, it must excite people who know nothing or very little on the subject. Second, it must give a little extra to people who are already dedicated to the subject. To the fans of Bob Marley, this documentary is likely a beauty. To everyone else, it is nothing more than a below-average biography filled with a lot of reggae music. Marley failed to intrigue the interest of people who do not already love the musician.
The strange thing about Marley, is that I find his life fascinating. For a musician to become to political and die so young is an incredible and tragic story. The problem with Marley is the manner in which the story is told. The movie starts from the very beginning and spends more than half an hour telling the story of a young Robert Marley. It really isn't that interesting of a story. As the movie carries on, they dedicate a good ten minutes to the father of Bob Marley. It is a mystery how they picked which parts of his life to focus on.
The worst part of the story is its telling. The story is told through the people who were close to Bob Marley. That is not the problem. The problem is that the two people who carry you through the story are so eccentric that it's difficult to understand or focus on what is being said. Several times they even interview fellow Rastafarians that simply can't be understoodeven with subtitles. Why such scenes were included in the movie is beyond me.
If editing was one of the bigger problems of Marley, then it led to yet another problem. This movie is nearly two-and-a-half hours long. A documentary should never extend beyond two hours. This one certainly had no reason to. The documentation of his musical career goes into such detail that you are already at two hours by the time the movie starts to wrap up. Even then, the move takes another thirty minutes then tries to keep you through the credits. All respect that I had for Marley was lost as the movie carried on and on.
The only people who should see Marley are Bob Marley and Reggae fans. If you are not a fan, the movie will come across as flat and incredibly boring. If you are a fan, you will get a lot of information on your favorite reggae musician. Marley is an unfortunate documentary. For a man who lived such a fascinating life, he deserved a much better telling of his story.
Dark Shadows (2012)
Terrible Script Destroys Great Idea
When a movie is staffed with some of the best actors of the day, that usually indicates that they liked the script .right? Well, not exactly. Dark Shadows is a great introduction to the dark shadows of Hollywood. Sometimes it doesn't matter what script you think is good and what script you think is bad. Instead, it's about who you owe a favor or what studio you work for. How else could such a plain script attract the likes of Johnny Depp, Michelle Pfeiffer, Helena Carter, and Chloe Moretz?
I have never seen the original television show that sparked this movie. However, to my understanding, it was a dark drama. How did such a television show get turned into a comedy? What's worse is that is got turned into a comedy that didn't make me laugh in the slightest. The movie is filled with awkward lines and out of character moments. The writerSeth Smithshows just how much of a amateur he is in the world of film scripts.
The only enjoyable part of the movie was when the actors found a way to work outside of the script. Although Chloe Moretz character was horribly constructed, she still made some of her scenes work. Johnny Depp was able to pull of the strangeness that comes with losing two centuries. Above all others, Helena Carter actually pulled off a believable character. Just a fair warning to all screenwriters out there. If you only successful character is the drunk, you have a big problem.
Tim Burton is the master of "hit or miss." He had directed some incredible movies in Edward Scissorhands and Big Fish. However, he has plenty of terrible movies: Alice in Wonderland, Mars Attacks, Beetlejuice, etc. There is little room for in-between with Tim Burton. I don't consider this a bad thing. He goes all-in when he makes a movie. When it succeeds, you get fantastic results. The only problem is he creates a lot of bad movies in the process. Please, Tim Burton, stop taking mediocre scripts!
The only people who will see this movie are fans of vampire movies and fans of Johnny Depp. The thing is, this movie disgraces both. Johnny Depp had put out come fantastic movies. With such a great acting ability, there is no need for him to be in such a mediocre film. As for the ever-expanding genre of vampires there are plenty of good alternatives. Go watch Daybreakers while you wait for the release of Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter.
The Avengers (2012)
Avengers ushers in new era for Mega-Blockbusters
The Avengers has been years in the making. The budget, cast, director, and storyline show just how much effort has been put into this movie. The graphics are unbeatable. The director was able to bring life to the characters while making the film as fast-passed as it needed to be. To top it off, the cast bill consisted of Samuel L. Jackson, Robert Downey Jr., Mark Ruffalo, Scarlett Johansson, and many more. The storyline was unlike anything I have seen in a superhero movie before (although it did remind me of Chronicle at times).
The only problem with The Avengers is the script that Joss Whedon wrote. He may be a great director, but that does not mean he should also be a screenwriter. With such talented actors, far too many lines were simplified or dropped completely. At times, the dialogue just feels like filler until the action starts again. However, there is one upside to having Joss Whedon do the screenplay: he's quite funny. From a remark about Legalas to plenty of Hulk jokes, he knows how to make a theatre roll with laughter.
One of the fears that comes with making a beloved book/comic book into a movie is that it will be difficult to follow if you are not a fan. I, for one, have never picked up a comic book in my life. Aside from minor aspects (the scene after the credits, the science behind superpowers, etc.), there is almost nothing in The Avengers that will trip you up. There is even enough backstory in the first hour of the movie that you don't need to have seen the five "prequels."
With a $200 million opening weekend, The Avengers will likely go down as one of the highest grossing movies of all timenext to Star Wars IV, Star Wars I, Titanic, The Dark Knight, and Avatar. Although The Avengers fits in well with these movies, it is rather unique. The studio behind this movieUniversalwas able to manufacture this monster of a film by carefully crafting teaser movies over the past several years. It is quite unlike anything the movie industry has ever seen. The Avengers may not be the best movie out there, but it will be known as a game-changer in the movie industry. Expect movie "teaser movies" and "manufactured blockbusters" in the years ahead.
To be perfectly honest, the only people who shouldn't see this movie are those who don't like action movies. The Avengers is nowhere close to being one of the best movies of the year. However, it will go down in history. Not only as a movie that smashed box office records, but as the movie that changed the meaning of blockbuster. Like "Jaws" and "Towering Inferno" of the 1970s, this movie will change the course of Hollywood and how studios vie for the top spot at the box office.
Young Children Will Enjoy
I'm still confused about why stop action films are being made. With the advancements of the past two decades in animation, stop action films are utterly outdated. Still, mostly due to foreign movie-goers, this movie will make a good profit. I guess that is all that matters. When it comes down to it, this type of films gives filmmakers another type of medium to present their work. For a movie that is quite difficult and time-consuming to make, I wish the script had been better. The Pirates wasn't bad. It was simply lackluster.
Children's films of the past two decades have stumbled across a key to being fantastic. With movies like Shrek and Wall-E, filmmakers have come to realize you need to make the movie enjoyable for adults and children. It is obvious that the makers of The Pirates tried to do this and even more obvious that they had no idea how to do it. They added in dialogue about sexuality and alcohol with words that no child would understand. That is pretty much the only way that the filmmakers try to entertain the adult audience.
Luckily, this movie will be entertaining for most children. The pirates' genre has been dried up in recent years. Many parts of this storyline are not unique simple because they are working with the same genre as so many other films. On several other levels, The Pirates is quite unique. The whole premise of "Pirate of the Year" as well as the entire conclusion was enjoyable and unlike anything I have seen. Still, I am disappointed that more wasn't provided for the adult audience.
The Pirates contains the character of Charles Darwin. The more I think about it, the more I wonder if this was the movie's attempt at intriguing the older viewers. As the movie progresses, however, it becomes apparent that the character was added simply because they wanted to add a historical character. The movie presents him as a loner scientist who can't get a girlfriend. It doesn't work. In the end, all the effort of this movie was made for the younger viewers.
This movie is worth seeing for viewers who are 9-10 or younger. Any older and the preteen will think it is a lame kid's movie (which it is). However, if you have a kid in that range, I bet they will like it. The action is entertaining enough and the movie is short enough to hold their attention throughout. Unfortunately, the creator's lack of caring about the older audience means this will be a long 90 minutes for most parents. If you want to enjoy yourself while giving your kid a good time, go see Chimpanzee instead.
The Five-Year Engagement (2012)
Jason Segal is the King of Comedy
Anyone who doesn't recognize the continued rise of Jason Segal is in denial. He is the screenwriter and star of several of the best comedies in recent years. Plus, he has one of the most successful television shows on the airHow I Met Your Mother. This man is the younger male version of Tina Fey. In his latestThe Five-Year EngagementSegal is able to prove why he is one of the best in the business once again.
The Five-Year Engagement is a beautiful comedy that will make you laugh throughout. Almost every element of the movie is methodically planned out. Emily Blunt and Alison Brie were perfectly casted as sistersboth on looks and their ability to banter. If the Elmo-Cookie Monster scene doesn't go down as one of the funniest scenes of the year, I will be quite surprised. Just like this scene, most of the movie will catch you off guard. If you do not find yourself laughing, you do not understand real comedy.
The cast fills out the storyline quite well. I can't think of a single actor that was placed in the wrong role. Even Chris Prattwho is seeing an incredible rise to fame and is surrounded by more experienced actors holds his own in The Five-Year Engagement. This would all be for not if the storyline were worthless. Luckily, Jason Segal took care of that. The Five-Year Engagement is an entirely unique movie that is able to get extended laughs because of its pure ingenuity.
The only problem with The Five-Year Engagement ¬stems from its length. The end of the movie speeds up considerably compared to the core of the movie. Although this does work well in certain aspects (namely the very end), it ruins several scenes. After such an amazing first hour on screen, it was unfortunate to see several scenes dropped in like filler. Luckily, the ingenuity of the movie returned in the final few scenes.
The Five-Year Engagement is worth your time and money. It is easily the best comedy of the year, so far. This year has been filled with such awful comedy that The Five-Year Engagement is a very welcome change of pace. Jason Segal and Emily Blunt work surprisingly well together. I eagerly look forward to Jason Segal's next film. Who knows? We may even see Hillary Clinton making her film debut under the genius of Segal.
The Raven (2012)
Poe would be Ashamed
Poe would castrate all the men involved in the making of this movie. I may not know much about Edger Allen Poe, but I know that much. The start of the movie's problem is that John Cusack was casted to play a man who is eloquent and drunk throughout. Cusack cannot pull off either. Every time he manages to piece together another "eloquent" sentence, it's difficult not to laugh at the face Cusack makes. It's almost like he is confused at the meaning while simultaneously pleased that he was successful in delivering the line. It kind of reminds me of George W. Bush. The Raven is written by two people who have never written a big-screen flick and directed by someone who has never directed by himself before. The only way this movie ever got funded is because some studio realized that plenty of people would go see a movie about Poe. Unfortunately, the script was so horrible that only the actors who care about money would take it. I assume Cusack got the part because Nicolas Cage was busy. The Raven is built on one of the worst scripts I have ever heard. The story tries to build up a suspenseful mystery. It doesn't work. You will spend most your time trying to figure out all the plot holes. Eventually you will give up and try to enjoy the acting instead. That won't work. If it's not the bad acting, it is the words they are saying. I cringed no fewer than ten times at the absurd dialogue that the screenwriters try to shove down their actor's throats. Luke Evans plays Detective Fields in The Raven. At first, I was confused by his role. Was he simply drunk or depressed in his first scene. As the movie carries on, you will find that there is nothing wrong with his character. The problem is in his acting. He is supposed to be dark in a mysterious way. Instead, he comes across as a pouting 15-year-old girl who goes on a city-wide search for her lost lipstick. Luke Evans deserves a Razzie for this atrocious acting job. Please stop giving him roles. There is no reason to see this movie. If you like Edger Allen Poe, stay far away from this movie. It destroys everything that is Poe by trying to explain the mystery that surrounds his final days. If you don't like Poe and simply want to see a good mystery, go see The Woman in Black instead. This movie is a likely contender for "The Worst Movies of 2012."
Jason Statham Needs a New Role
First take an actor who has played the same role for nearly a decade. Next, develop a story about a police-mob conspiracy that has been done so many times I start to wonder why the characters are ever surprised. At last, add in a little girl to play a main role. Make sure the girl can't act. Give her random lines that make her English sound horrible despite her ability to speak perfectly through the rest of the movie. Pile on a few hundred dead bodies and you have Safe.
I respect Jason Statham as an actor. I've enjoyed too many movies with him to dismiss him outright. His problem is how he picks his movies. Movies like Death Race, the Expendables, and Crank 2 should never have been made. Statham has the ability to play dramatic roles. His problem is that he relies too heavily on his ability to play the action hero (or villain). If he recognized his own ability to do a dramatic role, he would not have picked up a script like Safe and thought it was a good idea.
The story of Safe is intriguing at first. The idea of a young girl who can memorize numbers so there is no paper trail is fascinating. But that's where its originality runs dry. If you are going to do a movie about New York City police and mobsters, you have to put a lot of thought into it. Some of the best movies in Hollywood have already perfected this kind of script. By using a hollow shell for a storyline and filling it with bodies, you accomplish nothing.
I must say something about the body count. Only one movie I have ever seen has successfully pulled off the "kill everyone from the footman to the boss." That movie was Taken. It achieved its brilliance through a small body count that felt realistic. By the end of Safe¬as with too many Statham moviesyou will start to wonder if he's killed every bad guy in Manhattan. It was overkill. Add in the fact that the camera gets all shaky during action scenes (which is always), and you have an extremely lackluster movie.
The only reason anyone would see this is if they are Jason Statham addicts (I know there are plenty of you out there). If you do not fall into that category, you will not enjoy this movie. The shaky camera and endless action is tiring. There are far too many good action movies out this year that should hold you over (The Grey and Chronicle). Don't waste your money on this garbage (man).
Think Like a Man (2012)
One of the Worst Movies of the year
Talk about overkill. With more than two hours of screen time, this drama looks like it has the potential to buck the Hollywood trend of stuffing too much into a short film. The problem is, they follow the relationships of six friendsfrom both sides. Trying to show more than ten angles in two hours is simply impossible. Still, they try. In the end, this movie turns into a mess of dialogue that wouldn't have been good even if the storyline was worth it (and it most defiantly wasn't). When you base the entirety of a movie off of stereotypes, the movie should be a comedy. In a drama, stereotypical characters are far too flat for the audience to care about. In the beginning of Think Like A Man, each character is labeled according to how they would be in described in the book. There's "The Player," "Mama's Boy," and much much more. Since there are so many characters on screen, you never get any more depth to these characters. By the end of the movie, you will find yourself hoping that they all end up alone so that movie ends faster. I honestly want to see how long the script is for Think Like a Man. The characters never stop talkingand often talk fast and over each other in order to fit everything in. This might be okay if the screenwriter we decent. Unfortunately, they were nowhere near. I cringed multiple times and found myself in awe that anyone truly believed certain lines would ever actually be uttered by a sane human being. How any of these actors looked at the script and thought it was a good idea is beyond me. This movie is also sellout. Not only is it terrible, but the product placement goes overboard. The men meet in a bar constantly and are always drinking Dos Equis. When they are on the basketball court, they always wear Air Jordan's (They even talk about Air Jordan a couple times as well). They reference a couple Tyler Perry movies for no apparent reason. How do they expect us to care about a movie when it feels like a commercial? Don't see this movie. Please. I laughed oncekind of. The dialogue is bad. The acting is lackluster. Even the idea is terrible. Every few scenes they cut to the author of Act Like A Lady, Think Like A Man so that he can give advice to the women. Every time this happened, I found myself looking around the theatresimply wondering if anyone else realized that this was a horrible idea. I hope they did. This goes down as one of the worst movies of the year.
Flawed but Enjoyable Documentary
From the people that brought you the fantastic documentaryEarthcomes a documentary cut from an entirely different cloth. Unlike Earth, Chimpanzee is able to weave a storyline by following a specific clan of chimps, giving each one a name, and following a youngster as he learns the rough life of the forest. The personal touch is brilliant and allows for a heartfelt documentary. In the end, the only problems are in the way the movie is edited and narrated.
One of the best things about Chimpanzee is the way in which it elicits empathy from the viewer. The movie focuses on features of chimpanzees that remind of us ourselvesusing tools to get food, breastfeeding, and youth playing games while adults try to sleep. By the time the documentary develops a plot, you will honestly care about the characters involved. You will laugh time and time again.
You will not cry. Despite the disturbing and depressing nature of the film, everything is glazed over. This points us directly at the core problem of Chimpanzeethe narration. First off, Tim Allen wasn't the right choice. He doesn't do the inflections correctly and often speaks far too excitedly. The other major problem with the narration is the script. When Tim Allen started speaking for the Chimps, I was amused. When it continued, it became rather annoying. The narration should have been used to support the documentarynot overshadow it.
Chimpanzee was marketed as a children's film. We received the children's preshow and nothing but adolescent trailers. That is what stopped the documentary from being great. By skipping over the scenes that are too hard to watch and not diving into the real reason an Alpha Male would take in a young chimp, the documentary shortchanges itself. Earth was great because it wasn't directed at an adolescent audience. That freed the team up to build the best movie. The same was not the case for Chimpanzee.
If you enjoy documentaries, you will enjoy Chimpanzee. Although the movie does not deliver critical thoughts, it is filled with incredible visuals and an intriguing storyline. If you are not a fan of documentaries, there is no reason to see Chimpanzee. I hope this movie does not show a trend for wide release documentaries. Documentaries are beautiful when they are not dumbed down for our children.
The Lucky One (2012)
Expected More From A Nicolas Sparks Adaptation
When you walk into a Nicolas Sparks movie, you expect certain things. The Lucky One follows a storyline similar to most of Nicolas Sparks' other adapted novels. This is neither a good nor a bad thing. So long as the movie can stand on its own feet, it deserves recognition. On that ground, The Lucky One does hold its own. The acting is great and the story held my interest. In the end, specific problems make this movie much worse than it should have been.
The main fallback of the story is the characters. Stereotypes are abound. The mayor-to-be is the same as any story that tries to cover a trapped-in-a-small-town feel. The father is an incredibly flat character that is in no way believable. Even Zac Efron's character is too mysterious for his own good. Although Efron pulled off the role quite well, it was the way the character is presented that is the problem.
The other problem with the film is its climax. I won't give it away, but I have seen the same climax more than once. It was an unfortunate low point in a movie that was incredibly well acted. The rest of the storyline was quite unique and enjoyable. Even the modern setting of PTSD and soldiers who have served too many tours was a fascinating setting for the movie. Unfortunately, the amateur screenwriter dropped the ball.
I must point out an unfortunate fact of this movie. It's only 101 minutes. Since it is so short for a complex drama, it drops the ball on many occasions. In the beginning of the film, Zac Efron's character walks from Colorado to Missouri. This fact is almost addressed at one point, but then dropped and never brought back. Things like this happen throughout the film. These holes could have been filled with 15 to 20 minutes more screen time. Unfortunately, the push to keep films shorter made The Lucky One significantly worse.
If you are a Nicolas Sparks fan, this movie is worth seeing. If you enjoy romantic dramas, I would recommend renting The Notebook, A Walk to Remember, or Dear John. If you don't like romantic dramas, there is no reason for you to see this movie. Nicolas Sparks is one of the few authors who deliver consistently good plots. Unfortunately, his last two films have fallen flat. Maybe it's time for him to stop using the same formula again and again.