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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
"Anchorman" is one of those stupid comedies where I find it impossible
not to get a kick out of it. It featured many quotable lines ("You're
just a woman with a small brain. With a brain a third the size of us.
It's science."), hilarious characters (kudos to Will Ferrell and his
group of idiots), hilarious cameos (particularly Luke Wilson and Jack
Black), and it hilariously satirizes the world of broadcast journalism.
Years later, the legend continues with journalists Ron Burgundy (Will Ferrell) and Veronica Corningstone (Christina Applegate) living a happy life in New York City. They have one child and they are happy with their jobs as co-anchors. When Veronica gets promoted as the full-time lead anchor, Ron gets fired (mainly for his awful performance) and heads back to San Diego.
Six months later, Ron hears about GNN, the world's first 24-hour news network. He accepts the opportunity of going back on the top of his game. This leads him to reunite with sports reporter Champ Kind (David Koechner) now an owner of a fried chicken restaurant. Field reporter Brian Fantana (Paul Rudd) is now a cat photographer, and the socially awkward meteorologist Brick Tamland (Steve Carell) who, in a genuinely funny scene where he thinks he's dead but suddenly shows up at his own funeral. They all go to New York City to take the news network by storm.
If I wanted to hail a comedic actor king, it would definitely be Will Ferrell. I would hail Paul Rudd as the Prince; David Koechner as the Duke; Steve Carell as the Count. This group of funny actors do a splendid job reprising the hilariously stupid nature of their characters.
The movie manages to bring back what made the first "Anchorman" a big hit. Although I find the humor to be a mixed bag, I couldn't help but laugh. My head literally hurt so much from laughing so hard. The amount of cameos is even more ridiculous than the cameos in the first (the more cameos, the more I smiled). The over-the-top satire of broadcast journalism is still handled very well.
When you hear GNN, what comes to mind? I'm pretty sure the first thing that popped into your mind is correct.
I had a really good time with the movie...until the 1-hour mark, where it started to go downhill. For instance, the 2-hour running time is way too long. If the editor decided to edit out some unneeded subplots and some gratuitously tasteless humor, it could have been a much more enjoyable experience. The ending "Battle of the Newscasts" has to be the weakest link.
Overall, I still enjoyed "Anchorman 2" and I'm hoping this is where they will end the legend of Ron Burgundy.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The 1990s has been the golden era for Disney animated films. Movies
like "The Lion King" and "Beauty and the Beast" deliver the laughs,
thrills, and the magic of hand-drawn animation. They also featured
characters and songs that we know and love. The 2000s (upgrade to CGI
animation) began to lose all of its magic, with the exception of a few
Since we're now halfway through this decade (2010s), it seems like Disney's animation has finally got its groove back after the release of "Tangled".
"Frozen" manages to feature the magic of Disney animation.
Once upon a time, the land of Arendelle is trapped in eternal winter by Elsa the Snow Queen. Without any fear, Princess Anna sets off on a journey with Kristoff; a mountain man, his reindeer Sven, and Olaf; a humorous snowman to end this winter once and for all.
What I appreciated is how it takes a familiar story and adding something different to the mix. For instance, "Frozen" follows the relationship between the sisters Anna (voiced by Kristen Bell) and Elsa (voiced by Idina Menzel) and how their love for each other might save their kingdom.
Featuring astoundingly gorgeous animation, memorable songs (particularly "Let it Go"), memorable characters, and provided laughs, thrills, and even a few surprises. I guarantee that "Frozen" will become a classic for years to come!
While reflecting her childhood in Australia, P.L. Travers (Emma
Thompson) goes to Hollywood to adapt "Mary Poppins" to the big screen.
She meets Walt Disney (Tom Hanks), who made a promise to her daughters
he wouldn't think it would take 20 years. As they work things out to
procure the rights, their relationship begins to build.
When I first heard Tom Hanks was going to play Walt Disney, I couldn't get more excited. He is one of those actors where he can deliver a fantastic performance no matter what role he can get his hands on. Hanks brings so much enthusiasm where he goes right into the character. His performance as Disney is no exception. After his breakout performance in "Captain Phillips", Tom Hanks, again, hits it out of the park.
Emma Thompson delivers a terrific performance as P.L. Travers, the author of "Mary Poppins" who thinks about her rough childhood including her alcoholic father (exceptionally played by Colin Farrell). Travers might be very strict about her expectations for "Mary Poppins", but she is very sympathetic on what inspired her to write her book.
Seeing movies about movies ("Hugo", "The Aviator", "The Artist", among others) remind me why I became a movie buff. "Saving Mr. Banks" did a wonderful job dramatizing the making of one of the most beloved Disney films of all-time.
It's melodramatic without being sappy. It will make you laugh, cry, and be undoubtedly moved. I highly recommend it for the whole family. However, I wouldn't recommend it for younger kids, because it deals with themes such as alcoholism and despair.
Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman), Thorin Oakenshield (Richard Armitage)
and his company of dwarfs are continuing their quest to reclaim Erebor
from the dragon Smaug (voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch). While Gandalf
(Ian McKellen) is taking a different path, Bilbo and the dwarfs must
have what it takes to take back Erebor.
Either if you loved or hated "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey" (I, for one, loved it), chances are you are going to enjoy "The Desolation of Smaug" even more. Peter Jackson does a capable job of continuing the story on a high note.
The actors all do a great job reprising their roles (not to mention Orlando Bloom as Legolas). Benedict Cumberbatch completely chews the scenery doing the motion capture of Smaug. His deep, evil voice is what truly makes the character.
With thrilling action sequences, brilliant sets, and a more serious tone, "The Desolation of Smaug" is an astounding entry to the trilogy. About time to look forward to "The Hobbit: There and Back Again".
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
A year after winning the 74th annual Hunger Games, Katniss Everdeen
(Jennifer Lawrence) and Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson) are about to
take a victory tour of the districts of Panem. Before she leaves,
Katniss gets an unexpected visit from President Snow (Donald
Sutherland). He talks to her about how her victory led to a rebellion.
This leads to the Capitol to start a "Quarter Quell", an event that is held every 25 years where the previous winners get a chance to compete again. With Snow watching her every move, Katniss must, yet again, have what it takes to survive.
For someone who has not read the book, I enjoyed The Hunger Games (2012). Despite the entire Hunger Games sequence being shaky at times (due to its camera-work), the movie contained fantastic visuals, wonderful performances by an ensemble cast (notably from Jennifer Lawrence), and it brought an emotional punch. I've been looking forward to seeing the continuing adventures of Katniss Everdeen and her will to survive in the dystopian future.
In a time where the most anticipated blockbusters have been disappointing, Catching Fire takes a different direction. Not only is it a note-worthy sequel, but it's also a slight improvement over the previous film.
Jennifer Lawrence returns delivering a miraculous performance as Katniss Everdeen. Like before, she brings the sympathy, the strength and guts that made her such a memorable heroine. No one can play a better Katniss other than Lawrence herself. What amazes me about Josh Hutcherson is how far he has come as an actor. His performance as Peeta Mellark is no exception. The rest of the cast including Stanley Tucci, Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks, Liam Hemsworth, Sam Claflin, Jena Malone, Donald Sutherland, among others are stellar.
The main quality that improved in Catching Fire is the entire Hunger Games sequence. Not only is it exciting and had little to no shaky camera-work, but it brought some genuinely clever ideas. The visuals are prettier, the themes (involving survival and revolution) are more mature, and the action set pieces are much more exciting.
Thor, the Prince of Asgard (Chris Hemsworth) is doing his best to
protect the Nine Realms of Asgard. When Thor learns of an ancient race,
known as the Dark Elves, coming to threaten the Earth, he reunites with
astrophysicist Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) and brings her to Asgard
so he could go into "The Dark World" save Earth as well as Asgard.
Either if you liked or hated 2011's Thor (which I enjoyed, but not as much as the other movies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe), chances are you will enjoy this sequel as much or more than the first one. I, for one, was not expecting it to be better.
Chris Hemsworth reprises his role as the Norse prince with the smirk, the wits, the charm, and the power/strength. Tom Hiddleston brings his evil back into his role as Loki, the adopted brother of Thor, who is imprisoned for his attacks on Earth. Anthony Hopkins can play anybody, either as a cannibalistic serial killer or a Norse king, and would still be awesome. Natalie Portman can be charismatic as she is adorable as the love interest to a Norse prince. If there is a weak point, however, it would go to Kat Dennings.
Although some scenes can be a bit too silly and the story can contain plot holes, the action sequences and the visuals can make up for that. The result: a wicked good time at the theater.
Bring on the sequel to Captain America!
Set in the near future, an alien race is about to destroy mankind.
Colonel Hyrum Graff (Harrison Ford) enrolls Ender Wiggin (Asa
Butterfield), a shy but intellectual boy, into a special military
school to prepare for the upcoming alien attack. With Graff having the
highest of expectations for Ender, will Ender have what it takes to be
a hero and save humanity? Ender's Game is one of my all-time favorite
books. Once I picked up the book, I wanted to keep reading. Orson Scott
Card does a wonderful job telling the story of one's hope of saving
humanity. When I first heard that Asa Butterfield, Ben Kingsley and
Harrison Ford are going to star in the new adaptation of this brilliant
piece of sci-fi literature, I was stoked. Not to mention the look of it
is true to the book.
The result: A pretty damn good adaptation of an otherwise wonderful sci-fi book.
Asa Butterfield (Hugo) nails it as the title character. He may be too old to play Ender, but maturity is all it matters. He performs it well. Ben Kingsley (also from Hugo) does a pretty good job as Mazer Rackham, a former pilot who trains Ender. Viola Davis does a solid job, but I feel that she is quite miscast as Major Anderson. Harrison Ford steals the show as Col. Graff.
For a fan of the book by Orson Scott Card, this adaptation is, for the most part, quite faithful to the source material. For instance, the scenes in the Battle Arena are exactly what I imagined while reading the book. They are riveting as they are mind-blowing. The visuals are phenomenal and the cinematography is beautiful. The climax is very exciting The biggest gripe is the running time. TOO SHORT! The movie is two hours long, but I wish it could have been a half-hour longer. I would have like to know more about the alien race.
Nevertheless, I had a good time with Ender's Game.
Captain Richard Phillips (Tom Hanks) takes command of the Maersk
Alabama to send tons of cargo to Kenya. One day, he sees a group of
Somali pirates coming towards the ship. When the pirates, led by Muse
(Barkhad Abdi), hijack the Alabama, a battle between good and evil
I had never heard of the 2009 hijacking of the Maersk Alabama, right until I saw the preview for Captain Phillips. It looked really intense. Even when I saw Tom Hanks, I was sold.
Right from the first scene, I was hooked to my seat.
Tom Hanks has been my favorite actor since I saw his amazing performance in Forrest Gump. He brings this power where he not only plays the character, but he lives it. When his character is in a horrible situation (like in Captain Phillips), he brings this enthusiasm right in front of the camera. The result with Captain Phillips is an unforgettable performance reminding me why he became my favorite actor. Barkhad Abdi and the others are so electrifying as the Somali pirates that it makes your jaw drop.
Director Paul Greengrass (The Bourne Supremacy and The Bourne Ultimatum) uses his trademark shaky camera-work to make it seem as if we are part of the action. It's well edited, cleverly scripted, and as a whole, it will leave you breathless.
Ron Howard has come a long way from being a star on The Andy Griffith
Show and Happy Days to being one of the most gifted filmmakers of our
generation. He has made some great films (Apollo 13 and A Beautiful
Mind) and he made some bad ones (The Grinch and The Dilemma). With his
latest movie Rush, about the rivalry between James Hunt (Chris
Hemsworth) and Niki Lauda (Daniel Brühl) during the 1976 F-1 season, he
has literally come back to the top! Chris Hemsworth and Daniel Brühl
deliver two of the best performances of the year as Hunt and Lauda, two
F-1 racers turned enemies. These are performances where they step right
into the character instead of acting for the sake of acting. It's just
fascinating to see these two battle each other on and off the
racetrack. That gives a sign of true rivalry.
The racing sequences are riveting and make you feel as if you are part of the action. The cinematography is fantastic; the pace never drags; it's one of the best experiences of the year.
While on her first space mission, medical engineer Ryan Stone (Sandra
Bullock) is working on repairing the space shuttle Explorer. After a
huge amount of debris comes and destroys the shuttle, it sends her,
along with veteran astronaut Matt Kowalski (George Clooney) roaming
around in space. Despite running low on oxygen, she tries to do
anything she can to survive.
Did any of the previews for Gravity make you feel dizzy? Certainly did for me! They make you have this urge feeling how terrifying it would be to be lost in space. Not only did the movie look tense, but also breath-taking. Gravity met my expectations in every way. This reminds us why we love going to the movies so much; to experience something unlike anything we've seen before.
I'm not a Sandra Bullock fan, but she delivers the best performance of her career as Ryan Stone, the rookie astronaut who tries to have the strength to survive. She plays one of those heroines where we have sympathy in her and hoping she will survive.
Although not having a lot of screen time, George Clooney delivers a note-worthy performance as Matt Kowalski, the astronaut on his last space mission before retirement. He also tells some amusing stories about his past. He provides the comic relief.
Gravity features some of the most amazing visuals and tracking shots (including the first 13 minutes) that I've ever seen this year (or any year). Thanks to Alfonso Cuarón (director of Children of Men and Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban) for his outstanding work of giving a glimpse on how scary space can be in many ways. The theme of isolation/survival is done capably well. I love how realistically depicted space is, not to mention the eerie score by Steven Price. Of course, the story is straight-forward, but that's the whole point in this terrifying, tense, emotional, and visually breathtaking masterpiece of a film.
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