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300: Rise of an Empire (2014)
Visually spectacular, but not quite as good as its predecessor.
Seen in IMAX 3-D
When 300 burst onto the scene seven years ago, Zack Snyder stated that it would change the way "sword and scandal" movies were viewed. In a way, he was correct. Its lush visuals and frenetic action sequences were something we've never seen before on film. It went on to become a huge success (grossing almost five hundred million dollars worldwide) so evidently, a sequel was inevitable. Seven years later we finally get that sequel and while it might not be as good as 300, it provides its fair share of thrills and visually spectacular moments.
300: Rise of an Empire is not only a sequel, but also a prequel and a companion piece to 300. The beginning takes place ten years before 300 where we see Persia's first attempt at invading Greece. Persia is defeated when General Themistocles (Sullivan Stapleton) of Athens takes out King Darius. During that time we see Darius's son Xerxes (Rodrigo Santoro) ascend to the throne. It is here where we witness how Xerxes transforms into the man we see in 300.
Fast forward ten years later and Persia once again invades Greece. This is when the movie mirrors 300; it takes place during the events in 300, but in a different location. While King Leonidas and his army are away battling Xerxes, Themistocles and his army are taking care of the rest of the Persians at sea commanded by Artemisia (Eva Green). Most of the movie takes place here as we see battle after battle until Themistocles hears word that King Leonidas and his army have been defeated. The last act of the film attempts to tell what happens after 300, when Leonidas and his army have fallen.
One of the best things about 300 was Gerard Butler and his larger than life performance as Leonidas. Initially, they planned for him to come back, but he didn't want to reprise his role. He is sorely missed here and the void left by his absence is never really filled although, Eva Green comes awfully close. She by far has the most interesting character and easily gives the best performance, but despite a tragic backstory, she's a villain, which makes it hard to sympathizer with her character. Instead, we get Stapleton to take Butler's place and while his performance is fine, his character Themistocles is no Leonidas.
Most people will probably be seeing this for its visuals and epic battle sequences. In that case, this film will not disappoint. Visually, this movie is just as impressive as its predecessor. It's only in-between the battles that this movies falters. Not a lot of what Themistocles has to say is interesting and his speeches aren't nearly as memorable as Leonidas' pep talks. Suffice to say, you won't be seeing any internet memes or hear people quoting this movie as much at the first film. Thankfully, these scenes are short and it doesn't take long before the movie cuts to another battle.
Having seen this film in 3D, my advice would be to skip it. It's not so much how the filmmakers use it (they use it to great effect); it's the way it looks that's the problem. Since this is an already dark film with its muted colors and that fact that almost every battle (and most of this movie for that matter) either takes place at night or on a gloomy day, the 3D makes these scenes even darker. On more than one occasion I took off the glasses for a couple of minutes because it was so much brighter and I could see what was going on better. I would still advise you to see it in IMAX if you can, but the 3D nearly ruined some of the action sequences for me. See it in 3D at your own risk, yes the globs of blood hurling at you are pretty cool, but it's not as fun when you can't see what's going on.
The best thing than can be said about this film is that it's never boring. It moves at a nice pace from battle to battle, but those looking for the same experience the first film gave them will be disappointed. With the exception of Eva Green, the performances aren't as good this time around, the big speeches are boring, and if you thought there was less substance in the first film, there's even less here. That's not why people want to see these films though; they want to see men with chiseled bodies and bulging biceps slicing their way through the enemy and winning the battle. The film delivers in that regard, and based on the way this ended, it's clear that if this makes enough money at the box office (which it probably will), we'll be seeing another one of these in the near future.
Pain & Gain (2013)
Michael Bay actually made a good movie! Wait what?
When I hear the name Michael Bay, I'm not going to lie, clanging metal robots and tons of explosions come to mind. This shouldn't surprise anyone as this is what most people think of when they hear Michael Bay's name and that's due to the reputation he's built over the past few years: making brainless blockbusters that manage to rake in the doe in large amounts. So it comes as a surprise that Michael Bay actually made a movie that didn't have me walking out like I just got a frontal lobotomy. To be fair though, I actually liked The Rock and the first Transformers. So when I say that Pain & Gain belongs up there with those two films, it's not saying much when looking at the rest of his resume.
Pain & Gain will undoubtedly offend some (especially the victims), and that's understandable because the movie was tweaked so it could be a dark comedy when in reality, there was nothing funny with the story at all. This shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone and quite honestly, I'm reviewing the movie, not comparing the movie to the actual story. The movie's story is about three bodybuilders, Daniel Lugo (Mark Wahlberg), Paul Doyle (Dwayne Johnson), and Adrian Doorbal (Anthony Mackie) who want to achieve the American dream by taking it from someone else who doesn't deserve it. They eventually find someone named Victor Kershaw (Tony Shalhoub), who's one of Lugo's clients. After a few hilarious missteps, they finally achieve their goal. They hold Kershaw hostage and torture him for a month. When he finally signs over his property to Lugo, they try to kill him. No one believes Kershaw at first, and so the gang is able to get away with everything until the funds dry up and the desire to repeat the scheme eventually gives them away.
Oz the Great and Powerful (2013)
A visual treat
For those who haven't seen Oz The Great and Powerful yet, this is a prequel to the Wizard of Oz. Though, this is pretty much Alice in Wonderland 2.0. Regardless, I still enjoyed Oz The Great and Powerful and it beats Alice in Wonderland by a whisker. It's a little odd to believe that Sam Raimi directed this. This isn't his best work but, in this awful start to the year Oz is one of the few to emerge on top.
I'm not really going to spend any more time typing up the plots of films but, it's basically a magician named Oscar Diggs (James Franco) getting blown into the land of Oz where he meets the three witches. Then, he ends up fighting for the Land of Oz after he realizes that there's more than just wanting to become rich and famous. There's more to the plot but, that's pretty much the gist of it.
I enjoyed Oz but, I had a few issues with it. It's mostly from the acting department. Some of the performances were flat and wooden. The most obvious is Mila Kunis. I guess it's no spoiler that she's the wicked witch (just look at the posters) but, she isn't wicked enough. I like Kunis but, this is her least inspired performance. The cartoonish make-up doesn't help either. Nothing against the make-up artists as everything else in nicely done, but her make-up job was just laughable to me. To make things even more awkward, she doesn't have any chemistry with Franco at all in the beginning. I guess that has to do with Franco also being flat, though not as much as Kunis. So when she says she's in love with him it's unconvincing and out of place. The only time there's really a spark between Franco and someone else is when he's with Michelle Williams. Other than those things, everything else was just fine.
Now I know most people are going to avoid the 3-D but, I have to say I was impressed by it. There was only some noticeable blur when we first reach Oz. Other than that, the light levels seemed normal. There wasn't any dimness, everything was bright and beautiful. The picture quality was clear and the filmmakers manage to utilize the 3-D well. Things pop out of the screen but, not so much that it ends up feeling like it was just a gimmick. If you have the extra money I'd say it wouldn't hurt to invest it in the 3-D. I'm sure you'd have just as much fun in 2-D, but this is one of the rare times I can argue for 3-D.
Though I said some of the performances were flat, the rest certainly weren't. Michelle Williams gives a sweet performance as Glinda, while Rachel Weisz gives that wickedness that's needed for her character. I'm surprised that didn't carry over to Kunis since she was by Weisz's side for a good portion of the film. Zach Braff does a nice job playing Franco's assistant in the beginning and does some excellent vocal work as Finley. Same goes for Joey King, though her human role wasn't nearly as big as Braffs in the beginning. Lastly, we have Bill Cobbs who left a good impression as Master Tinker. The rest of the cast did a nice job with their limited parts.
Overall, this is a visual treat for the whole family. Sure some of the performances weren't anything spectacular and the chemistry between Franco and Kunis wasn't there. However, everything else makes up for these things. The rest of the cast is great, the visuals are stunning, the 3-D is well utilized, and the pacing is nice. It's a 2 hour and 10 minute film yet it only felt like a half hour. With a lack of family films (both in terms of quantity and quality) thus far, Oz certainly is the one we've been waiting for.
The Call (2013)
Starts with a bang, then fizzles quickly
When a movie set for a March release date begins its marketing campaign two months before it hits theaters, you know that's not a good sign. However, I still had some hopes. The trailers look intriguing so I thought why not? What a mistake. When the words WWE studios flashed across the screen I realized what a fool I was and that I pretty much flushed $12 down the toilet (where this movie should have gone). Nothing against WWE, but they're not really known for putting out movies with great story lines or well-developed characters. The Call is a prime example.
I guess it would be unfair to label this as a complete crapfest because things start off with a bang and then fizzles once we reach the climax. The story is simple; Jordan Turner (Halle Berry) is a 911 operator who one day gets a call from a girl who is home alone. Someone is trying to break in. With the help of Halle Berry, the girl manages to fool the perpetrator and right when we think she's about to be safe, the line between her and berry disconnects. In a bone-headed mistake Berry calls back, giving away the girl. The girl ends up getting taken and is found the next day naked and buried in an undisclosed location. Fast forward 6 months later and we get to the central story. We see Berry is no longer behind the desk and is instead an instructor. However it's not long before we see Berry being sucked back into the same position she was 6 months ago when someone gets a call from a girl, Casey Weslon (Abigail Breslin). She's just been kidnapped and is currently in the trunk of a car. Through the guidance of Berry, they try to find ways for her to escape and then the movie starts to collapse as we reach the climax.
It's sad to see a movie start off promising, only to break one of Berry's rules (never make a promise you can't keep) by being hugely let down during the last thirty minutes. Even before the climax though, the movie faces a lot of issues. First, is the relationship between Berry and Breslin, it feels artificial. I suppose this is (obviously) because their time on the phone together is limited, but there's never really a click between the two. It also doesn't help that their characters are hardly ever developed, they're about as one dimensional as they come.
I was surprised to see how much Abigail Breslin has grown up. Her vocal work in Rango was great but, the last time I actually saw her was in Zombieland. Boy, what a change. I adored her as a child actor but, I sincerely hope this was just a misstep and that she won't be starring in anymore movies like these. Amongst all the actors in this movie, she annoyed me the most with her unconvincing whining. It was also creepy to see her treated as a sex object in the last thirty minutes since she's pretty much running around topless with only her bra on. Meanwhile, Berry gets to keep her shirt on. Just goes to show how messed up Hollywood (or WWE in this case) is. Berry's performance is serviceable. It's not bad but, she gets the job done I suppose. Michael Eklund gives a chilling performance and his character is at least somewhat fleshed out. He has an interesting backstory but, it's never fully explored. The rest of the cast spits out their lines, picks up their paychecks, and leave.
This would have been a typical thriller had it not been for the last thirty minutes, which makes this movie go from mediocre to just bad. For whatever reason, the writers decided that Berry behind the computers wasn't enough. Instead they decided she should go play detective and try to find Breslin herself. Not once while she's out trying to locate Breslin, does it even look like the idea of calling back up crosses her mind. She's now Ms. Sherlock Holmes all of the sudden. Even when she finds the hidden place (yes! she finds Breslin... what??), the reason they give her for going down by herself and not calling the cops is because she "accidentally" drops her phone down there and can't get any service (that's right you heard me). Then her character becomes a complete idiot, you know the killer always gets up. Why would you turn your back on him while he's down? The movie continues to spiral out of control until the end credits finally begin to roll.
I guess I've been a bit harsh. There are some things I liked but, they're not enough to justify the existence of this movie or why you should even bother seeing this movie. Despite the bumps along the way, the director does manage to build some suspense and tension. There are clever scenes like Breslin kicking out the taillight and waving her arm to get someone's attention. Also, I've never seen a 911 call center before but, I can believe it looks something like the one presented here.
Overall, this is just another movie to add to the rapidly growing list of bad movies that have come out thus far. Sure, there are some suspenseful and clever scenes, and Michael Eklund gives a creepy performance. Also, the filmmakers did a nice job creating a believable and realistic looking call center. However, everything else about the movie is trash. It's not worth anyone's time or money, if you're still interested in this movie I suggest waiting for it when it comes out on DVD and renting it. Other than that, this is one call you don't want to answer.
Dead Man Down (2013)
Disappointing, but entertaining nonetheless
Thus far, 2013 has gotten off to a pretty lousy start. That's not to say there haven't been any movies that I liked but, most of the movies that have come out have either been crap or disappointments. Dead Man Down belongs in the latter. There have been plenty of great foreign directors who have made complete misfires as their American debuts but, that's not the case with director Niels Arden Oplev. It would be extremely unfair to label this as a misfire because it's far from it. I was just expecting more given the director and the fact that he re-teamed with his Girl with the Dragon Tattoo star Noomi Rapace. This is an above average revenge flick that could have been better had it not been for the disappointing ending.
The beginning opens strong, giving us a puzzle that the director reels us in with. It grabbed my attention and made me want to stay to see how the pieces of the puzzle will be put together. To explain the plot in full detail would give a few things away but, it's about a man named Victor (Colin Farrell) wanting to get revenge on the man who killed his family. That man happens to be his boss Alphonse (Terrence Howard), who he has been working with for over a year so he could get close, make him suffer like he did, and then kill him. While he's strangling one of his partners one night in his apartment he is spotted by a woman named Beatrice (Noomi Rapace). He doesn't know that she saw what he did until one night she asks him to go out. She blackmails him. She'll keep Victor's secret safe if he does something for her in return. She wants Victor to kill the man who ruined her face as a result from a car accident in which he was drunk and only served a minimum sentence. Then the plot takes unexpected turns toward a disappointing conclusion.
Though it may seem like your typical revenge flick, it's certainly not presented that way. The tone and pacing are given some European flavor but, it might not connect with American audiences as well as your more conventional revenge flick. Judging by its opening weekend estimate that seems to be the case, which is a shame. If you do plan on seeing Dead Man Down don't expect something that's going to be clear and easily digestible.
The acting is strong with Noomi Rapace surprisingly giving the weakest performance. That's not to say she was bad just, not as good as I hoped. Colin Farrell gives another great performance. Farrell is good at playing the quite, revenge-driven type. If he were in something with tighter material I'm sure the results would terrific. Both Farrell and Rapace share nice chemistry and I actually cared what happened to them in the end. They're just two broken people connecting with one another and it's believable. Terrence Howard is good at playing the menacing crime lord, too bad his character is extremely one dimensional. Isabelle Huppert gives a sweet performance as Beatrice's caring mother. I wish there were more scenes between her and Rapace since she was mostly the comic relief. The rest of the cast give respectable performances.
Now comes the ending. It's not Devil Inside bad but, it's disappointing. The movie builds up to what we're expecting to be an intelligent and suspenseful ending. Only to throw us out of left field and go toward a more typical action-oriented direction. It's not boring but, I was let down. Had it gone in the direction it was intending too I would have given it a higher rating.
Overall, this is an above average revenge story that gets weighted down by its disappointing ending. The villains are all one dimensional and sometimes the dialogue is embarrassing. However, the rest of the movie saves itself. The performances are great, the beginning starts on a high note, the story progresses at a nice pace that we're not normally use too, and the action is also well-shot so you don't need to worry about the camera shaking. Despite some of the faults, this movie is never boring and it's not like your conventional revenge tale which counts for something at least. I recommend Dead Man Down, but not as enthusiastically as I would have liked. See it when it's matinée or wait for it on DVD since it probably won't be staying in theaters for long.
Alex Cross (2012)
Usually when movies get panned, I avoid them. However, once in a while my curiosity gets the better of me and I can't resist. I probably should have skipped this one, I never read the books but, I'm going to go out on limb here and say that the book or books did not transition well to the big screen. Yes that was sarcasm. I'm sure the books are an exciting and an engrossing read, but here, the exact opposite comes to mind when describing this movie. It's a complete bore and sitting through this is a chore. It borders on unwatchable and though it might not have been 2012's worst it's certainly close to the top.
I'll do the best I can to remember everything but, not even 16 hours after viewing this, it's been corroding from my mind fast. That should give you a hint on just how memorable this cinematic dump is. The only reason why I'm giving it a 2 is because of Matthew fox. He got himself into shape and prepared himself for this role, and it shows. Even though his character may have been scribbled in with a crayon,(let's face it, his character is about as one-dimensional as a cardboard cut-out, same goes for the rest of the cast) his loony, over-the-top performance is the only thing that kept me awake from slipping into a coma. As for everything else, I'm at a loss for words.
From the guy who directed The Fast and the Furious and xXx, I was at least expecting some exciting well-shot fighting scenes but, we can't get what we always want. The very few actions scenes are boring and nausea-inducing, especially the climatic fight scene. Why director Rob Cohen decided to shake the camera so much? I don't know, the two films I mentioned showcase that he's a competent action director, whatever the excuse was it doesn't matter, this is just lazy.
With the exception of Fox, the cast is dull. Though, I'm not sure the cast it completely at fault, they're not given much to do. Perry is miscast here, he has the chops but, there are better suited roles out there within his range. When he's required to show emotion he's good but, when he's required to do action he doesn't fit in well. The rest of the cast is bland and unmemorable, they all seem like they don't want to be here and I don't blame them. I'm sure they at least got nice paychecks.
I'm going to on a little tangent about the MPAA, so skip to the next paragraph if you'd like. I don't understand how something like this could get a PG-13 rating and then another movie who uses the "F" word a couple of times get an R. I would rather let a 13 year old watch something that's R because it has the "F" word a couple of times in it than letting them watch this. I'd say see this for yourself, but then that would mean you would actually have to watch this garbage. So I'll give you a few examples instead. This doesn't spoil anything but, I can't imagine why anyone would care anyway. There is one scene where we're shown a woman getting her fingers cut off, sure it's brief but, we see the whole thing. Then there's a legitimate sex scene, and I'm not talking about the brief PG-13 ones I'm talking about an actual sex scene. These are only a few examples as there are more but, that would give away something. I'm done now, time to continue....
Like the ending of this movie, I'm going to rush things here because thinking about this movie is giving me a migraine. The pacing is uneven, we're given slow set-up then the movie keeps shifting, rushing things here and there, slowing down things here and there, this is an on-going process and by the end I found myself wanting to grind my face against a cheese grater. The characters are all underdeveloped, thanks to the lazy script, I didn't care about anyone. This movie clocks in at 100 minutes yet, it felt like I was watching Titanic again. It seemed like this movie would never end.
Overall, don't even bother wasting your time. The acting is dull, the character's are cardboard cut-outs, the direction is horrible especially during the climatic fight scene, the script is lazy, and the pacing is widely uneven. There is nothing good here, except Matthew Fox, but it's still no where enough to recommend this on any level. How this movie made it to theaters is one mystery I'd like to solve.
Mimi wo sumaseba (1995)
A must see for anime lovers
When I was little I was never particularly interested in anime, not because it wasn't good, it just wasn't all that popular here in the United States. It wasn't until I discovered Hayao Miyazaki years ago that I realized what a fool I was and what I've been missing out on. Ever since then my love for the genre has grown, and here today I find myself being more excited for the next Studio Ghibli instead of the next Pixar and Dreamworks film. That's not to say that these two studios don't produce anything good anymore but, Pixar has been in a recent slump, Cars 2 was mediocre and Brave was good but, it was below the normal Pixar standard. Dreamworks has slowly been climbing up the ladder in the animation field but, it still has a little more to go before it reaches the top. I know I'm getting off-topic since this film is over 15 years old but, I still stand by with what I said about Studio Ghibli.
I'm always finding anime movies to watch, but with school and the crazy amount of snow we've been getting over here has taken up a good portion of my time. I needed to sit down and watch a movie so I was looking for some anime movie and to my surprise I found this movie as it was mentioned by someone on the forums. I should thank that person as I would never have found this movie. Though this isn't from Hayao Miyazaki this film easily stands side to side with many of his greats.
As much as I loved this movie I do have one small quibble, it's the ending. I don't know why but, I can't seem to make up my mind about the ending. Part of me understood why it ended the way it did but, the other part of me was a little disappointed. Maybe because I didn't want the film to end that it disappointed me a bit, I don't know, maybe this was the best way to end the movie. Whatever the case, without giving it away, I will say it did catch me off guard and it did not end the way I wanted it to. Who's too say that the way I wanted it to end was any better but, I'll stop now and move on. Despite this, I simply loved the rest of the movie.
The story is simple but, there are some fresh twists along the way to keep you engaged. This isn't your typical teen romance crap, It isn't about the rich guy or girl falling for the poor guy or girl, they're just two normal teenagers falling in love with one another. The characters are well-developed as well as the relationship between the two main characters. By the end I was rooting for these two to be together, I cared about what happened to them and their relationship which took me by surprise. It's very rare that a romance movie, let alone an anime romance movie makes me feel that way.
Though this movie is almost 18 years old the animation is still gorgeous. The settings are well drawn out as well as the characters. I've always had problems with English dubbing's when it comes to anime films(Yes that includes one or two Hayao Miyazaki films) but, this is an exception. Not one voice feels like it shouldn't belong, the voice acting was great, they couldn't have chosen better voices for the dubbing. It felt like the voices fit perfectly with their characters which is always a great thing because like I said, when they pick wrong voices it ruins my enjoyment of the movie.
The music is lovely and I absolutely loved that song that the girl wrote. In fact, one of my favorite scenes was when she was in the basement with the boy and they start playing and singing the song, then the boy's grandfather comes along as well and joins in, it's just a beautiful scene.
Overall, this is a great anime movie, a must see for those like me, who have a penchant for this genre. The ending was a tad disappointing but, it didn't ruin my enjoyment of the film at all. This is a simple story about two normal teenagers falling in love, and a good one at that. The animation is still gorgeous even if it's 18 years old, the characters as well as the romance is really well- developed, the voices chosen for the dubbing were perfect, and the score is lovely. I haven't seen this movie in it's original language but, the English dubbing isn't a bad at all and it wouldn't be a bad option if you can't find this movie in it's original language with English subtitles.
Proves that there's still life left in the found footage genre
Ever since Cloverfield and Paranormal Activity the found footage genre has boomed. Now there seems to be more coming out than ever, so the freshness of it has worn off sort of like 3-D. For every 10 bad found footage films there's one good one like Sinister, which is why I now actively avoid found footage films. Sinister isn't shot from a first person style of shooting that we've grown accustomed to with most movies within the found footage genre, which is a good thing because I've grown so sick of the gimmick.
I will admit that I was letdown a bit. Maybe because the trailers promised so much more or maybe because they showed too much. Whichever the case, if you haven't seen the trailer don't watch it as it gives away some of the scares. Then we also have people doing some dumb things that we wouldn't normally do, like trying to find something in the dark instead of turning on the lights or not leaving the house right away. Once you accept these things however, the movie will become much more enjoyable.
Sinister didn't scare me as much as Insidious did, but that doesn't mean there aren't any scares. The videos are disturbing with one of them involving a lawnmower that has forever traumatized me. Kudos to the filmmakers. The "Boo!" scenes, which are plentiful aren't as cheap as you would normally find in recent horror movies. They stick with you way after the credits roll. Of course these things wouldn't have worked without atmosphere and mood which Sinister establishes effectively with the videos and the house which is creepy.
The acting is better than what you'd normally find in a horror movie. Ethan Hawke is effective as the "everyman", he's believable and he shares nice chemistry with his female co-star Juliet Rylance who plays his wife. They make a nice couple and we believe that they're husband and wife. The kids do nice jobs too and didn't manage to annoy the crap out of me. James Ransone who plays the deputy that helps Hawke with his investigation is nice as the comic relief. As for everyone else, they don't do much and are barely in the movie but, they were good nonetheless.
Then there's the ending, this is where most horror movies have the biggest problem. While I thought the ending was good, some of you may be disappointed. Yes there is a twist, but it was more obvious to me than I wanted it to be. I still liked it anyway, the same cannot be said for everyone else.
The other thing with horror movies is sound. The music in Sinister is perfect and adds another layer of creepiness to each scene and it adds that extra punch to the "Boo!" moments giving them a longer lasting effect. The make up for the creature is well-done, he's just downright terrifying and doesn't resemble anything out there(that was one of the problems with Insidious). The make-up for the children too is good making them seem more creepy than they really are.
Overall, though this is a good movie I was a tad disappointed as I expected more from what I saw in the previews. The character's do some pretty dumb things that you see in almost every horror movie but, it's more easily forgivable here and if you let it go you'll find yourself enjoying this movie more. 2012 we saw a lot of found footage movies some good to great (Vhs/The Bay/Chronicle) and some pretty terrible ones (Project X, The Devil Inside). Sinister belongs in the former category, it may have not been the best found footage movie of 2012 but, it can take it's rightful crown as the best horror movie of 2012.
It's messy, but an entertaining mess
I haven't seen that many Oliver Stone movies so for those of you who are fans of him I can't say how this compares to his other works. I will say however, that this is a big improvement over his last movie Wall Street 2 which was a complete bore to me. This has both critics and people divided so I can't say if you might enjoy this or not but, if your looking for something groundbreaking, you won't find it here.
As much as I enjoyed this, there is nothing new you haven't seen before. This is your typical run-of-the-mill revenge flick but, it's the visual style and twists along the way that set it apart from most films in this genre. However, there are some bumps along the way. The first is Blake Lively. Personally, I don't find her to be a bad actress like so many people have but, her performance here isn't all that good and she hardly has any chemistry with her two male co-stars. This was a problem because they are, after all, fighting to get her back. The next thing is, sometimes during the movie it becomes unnecessarily convoluted, especially the beginning monologue from Blake Lively's character. Sure, it was clever but, it was so complex and it felt like it didn't fit with the movie. This reminded me of last year's Contraband where it had a simple story but they made it so convoluted for no reason. It's not as bad here but, there are times when it becomes hard to follow. Lastly, is the ending. This took me by surprise, I never read the book so I'm not sure if it ended the same way but, you'll either love it or hate it. I'm in the middle, it's no where near as bad as some people make it out to be but, on the other hand it could have done away with the violence. No, it's not that I can't handle violence or anything it's just, to explain the ending in greater detail would ruin it for some. Once you've seen it you'll understand. Other than these issues everything is was fine.
With the exception of Lively, the rest of the cast was good. Benicio Del Toro and Salma Hayek were the stand outs in my opinion. Even though there was hardly and chemistry between Lively and her male co-stars, Kitsch and Johnson share the nice buddy chemistry that's surprisingly lacking in many films today. Though I wasn't rooting for them to get Lively back, I was rooting for them to get out of this mess.
Most of the character's are surprisingly well-developed, don't get me wrong they're not 3-dimensional character's but, they're well-developed enough for me to care about them. Like I said, I didn't care for Lively's character but, I think that has to do with her performance rather than the character itself. Even though Hayke is bad here, I couldn't help but feel a little sorry for her as she loves her kids and she tries to keep them hidden for their own protection because of who she is but, they don't want anything to do with her even though she desperately wants to talk and see them all the time.
The movie is nicely-shot so no need to worry about the shaky-cam during the intense action sequences. We're also treated to some beautiful shots of California along the coast. The type of music for this kind of movie seems like it should be the heavy metal variety but, thankfully it's not. The music is nice and adds a nice touch throughout the movie.
Overall, this isn't a perfect movie. Blake Lively is a miscast, there's no chemistry between her and her two male counterparts, and the ending is a little disappointing. It's also more complex, which isn't a bad thing of course, but it doesn't fit well with something that's this straightforward and has a story as generic as this. Everything else is great, the performances from the rest of the cast, the action, the violence etc. This is a perfect movie for us adults and if you having nothing to do I'd definitely recommend this movie. Sure, it's messy but, it's entertaining and much better than a handful of movies within it's genre.
Warm Bodies (2013)
This Movie Brings Life To A Genre That's Been Done To Death
After a cold and quiet January, Warm Bodies manages to warm and liven things up at the multiplexes. I will admit, when I first heard about this I thought of Twilight and what this movie would to the zombie genre that Twilight did to the vampire genre. A lot of people thought this as well and that's perfectly understandable but, I was pleasantly surprised. To compare this to Twilight is almost an insult. It's not perfect but, it's definitely charming and clever.
While I did enjoy this movie very much, I can't help but feel that the trailers promised so much more. This movie is many things, part horror, part comedy, part romance, part action, part romantic comedy but, this movie only achieves some of these and fails in others. The horror is kind of lame, the bonies are suppose to provide the horror but, they're horrible done and look really fake. There's some action but, none of it really gets the pulse pounding. I guess these problems have to do with the PG-13 rating, there's no zombies ripping people's guts out or zombie's heads being blown to bits. The PG-13 doesn't give it the edge that this movie needs. However, it does succeed in being funny and romantic, which makes up for these things towards the end.
Instead of the movie showing us everything through the human's point of view like in every zombie movie, we see everything from the zombie's point of view. Though it might be weird at first (zombies can actually think and talk to themselves inside their heads?) it's a unique and interesting twist. There are also more fresh twists along the way, like by the zombies eating human brains they actually get glimpses of past memories of the person the brain belongs too. While I've never heard of this, I liked it anyway. I thought it was a clever and well executed idea along with some of the other things the film makers throw at you.
With the exception of John Malkovich who just utters a few lines of dialogue, picks up a paycheck, then leaves, the acting is great. Nicholas Hoult is the stand out, and unlike Robert Pattinson who's come out in the past that he never liked playing Edward, that showed in twilight. Here, that's not the case with Hoult and he's really starting to become more known which is great because he's a good actor. I look forward to Jack the Giant Slayer coming out in a couple of months and the next x-men sequel. Teresa Palmer is better here than she was in both I Am Number Four and The Sorcerer's Apprentice, and she's gorgeous. Her and Hoult share effective chemistry, by the end I was rooting for these two which took me by surprise. Rob Corddry has the best lines, and Analeigh Tipton is sweet as Palmer's best friend. The rest of the cast don't do much, but they're good too.
What really sets this apart is that unlike Twilight, this movie never takes itself too seriously. This movie knows what it is and never tries to be anything more. Director Jonathan Levine stated in a couple of interviews that John Hughes was a big inspiration and it shows. They're many references to those movies. The nice 80's score also added to that and when the soundtrack comes out I plan on buying it. Then there was the issue with necrophilia, I mean this is about a girl falling in love with a corpse but, as you see in the trailer, the zombies begin to come back to life so no need to worry.
Warm Bodies couldn't have come out at a better time. With Valentine's Day just around the corner, you could do worse, a lot worse than Warm Bodies. Especially since Safe Haven, another Nicholas Sparks adaptation coming to the big screen on Valentine's Day. This has something for both the Ladies and the Men so I would recommend seeing this instead of another gag-inducing Nicholas Sparks movie. As for the zombie fans, you'll most likely be disappointed as there's not much zombie gore or action (thanks to the neutered PG-13 rating). This is after all Romeo and Juliet except with zombies, R(Romeo), Julie(Juliet). This probably won't become a classic like the John Hughes movies Warm Bodies references but, this is finally the first good picture of 2013( No I'm not counting Zero Dark Thirty or Silver Linings Playbook because they're technically are 2012 releases). This puts a nice spin on the zombie genre and although it's not particularly scary or action-oriented, it's still funny, clever and charming. As for you Ladies, I think your boyfriends would be much more forgiving dragging them to this movie instead of Safe Haven.