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Red Dawn (2012)
As Expected, Lacking in Depth and Human Realism
I loved the original Red Dawn. It wasn't the greatest movie ever made but it was a great action movie. The plot for this movie has so much potential that can be lived up to. The original did a good job but there was certainly room for improvements.
When I first heard about the remake coming, I was initially excited. When I began to hear about the casting, I lost a lot of luster for this film. Chris Hemsworth isn't the worst pretty-boy actor out there but he's by no means a good actor. He's definitely an, "in the moment" pretty boy that will probably pass. Josh Hutcherson is just a flat out bad actor. The kid lacks emotion. Or at least the right emotion for the right scene. Josh Peck has actually turned out to be a good actor but the fat kid from Josh and Drake just isn't the right casting for a young Charlie Sheen's replacement.
So when the trailers for the movie came out my worst fears appeared to be confirmed. The movie appeared to be action'd up, CGI'd up, glazed over depth and more of a paycheck movie than something someone in the making process actually felt inspired by. I didn't watch the remake I was once excited to see in theaters. After bad reviews I didn't even rent it on BluRay when it came out. Instead, I decided not to watch it. Eventually when TV watching was hard up and it was free I watched the movie. My worst fears were confirmed but it wasn't as bad as I thought it'd be.
The best way to describe this movie is with an analogy. The "bad guys" parachuting into the town would have been a powerful emotional scene if the bad CGI hadn't taken me out of it. Everything in this movie was close to being good but something (i.e. CGI, bad acting, pointless action, not reaching for enough depth) took me out of it and kept it from being as good as it could/should have been.
Overall not horrible, but a below average movie. All this can be blamed on the director or whomever was controlling him. There was some bad acting. Chris Hemsworth was as usual, towing the line between descent and bad. Even that falls onto whoever was in charge of this project.
4 of 10 - A lot of failed potential that overall just missed the mark.
A Good Day to Die Hard (2013)
Just Stop Already.
I'm a die hard, Die Hard fan but the last two incarnations, had no idea as to what a Die Hard movie should be. The last two movies were made under the thought that it's the action that made Die Hard. That couldn't be further from the truth. What made Die Hard was the normal man, surviving the odds. Which included a lot of action. In the last two Die Hard's John McClain has become near Superman instead of a common man who defies the odds. The only thing I'll give this movie is that is was better than Live Free Die Hard but that isn't saying much at all. Stop being unbelievably unrealistic and get back to the humanity of the original movies. Stop trying to pair Bruce Willis up with a young male lead. He doesn't need it and it doesn't work. After Die Hard with a Vengeance you can just stop watching. That's where the Die Hard's died for me.
4/10 not even an average movie. Which is really sad because the original 3 are action classic.
Average Alone, Incredible Together
For anyone who knows nothing about the Grindhouse films, they were packaged for theater as 2 movies, similar to a double feature you would see at a drive-in in the 1970's. These two movies were directed by Quentin Tarantino & Robert Rodriguez. The 2 have previously teamed in collaborations like Desperado & From Dusk Til' Dawn. While I like Tarantino films regardless, I think Rodriguez is much better when he's working with Tarantino.
Death Proof (Tarantino's film) started off slow. Like many of his films. The movie was thick in classic Tarantino dialogue and the movie quickly became tiresome. Then in true Tarantino fashion the film reaches an action point. It was fairly early on but because the movie was so slow and uneventful in the beginning, when it does reach this first action series it has so much more impact. Then the movie kind of resets itself, almost beginning again. This time the movie is slow, filled full of dialogue and absolutely no intriguing events. The difference is that this time, as a fan, I know that it's all going to culminate in an exciting ending.
The movie seemed to have went for nearly an hour with nothing happening. Just when I was beginning to lose hope in Tarantino again, he delivers the big ending I wanted. I've heard arguments that the ending wasn't as big as people wanted. Watching it in theaters, having gotten truly enthralled into what was going on, I was completely into the ending. It gave me exactly what I wanted. It was simple but effective. Let me tell you the people in the half full theater that day popped for the ending. They, like me had gotten enthralled into what was going on and they were clapping and cheering. A few stood up and a couple shouted out. It was a hell of a movie experience that I haven't ever had before or since while at a public screening.
I suppose if you're half watching Death Proof at home you probably wouldn't get the same effect as if your entire attention had been grasped by the movie. Once again the hour of slow uneventful-ness paid off with an exciting ending that meant more simply because it was so slow for so long. That is how you build to a moment to get the most out of a little bit of action at it's best. If the movie had been full of action with an ending like that, it wouldn't have meant anything. Instead the movie spends the time investing you into the characters. Even if you at times began to hate them because so little was happening you were still unknowingly being invested into them. Then in the end it pays off.
The Fake Trailers in-between the two movies were hilarious and just plain awesome.
Planet Terror (Robert Rodriguez) was the biggest reason I was wary of Grindhouse. Some of Rodriguez's solo projects weren't very good at all. Planet Terror was heavily advertised with his girlfriend Rose McGowen having a machine gun for a leg. That made me the most wary. It was probably the most over the top, unrealistic and needless part of the movie. However I enjoyed both movies so much, it wasn't an issues like I thought it might be.
Planet Terror was complete action. While it was over the top, it didn't pass many boundaries that I didn't find acceptable. It probably helped the movie that it had a zombie movie feel about it. Since I discovered the original Romero trilogy of zombie films, I've been a fanatic like most. For me it's not just the zombie that I enjoy. I also enjoy the the survival aspect that the zombies force people into. Planet Terror gave me that. There's a lot that happens in this movie. Plenty of cameo's. Lot's of scenes that are just slightly over the top but awesome scenes none the less. For instant the scene with the penis falling off while Tarantino's about to rape someone. Again, the testicles scenes with Naveen Andrews was over the top but still enjoyable. The Pulp Fiction briefcase style scene when they open up the trunk and it turns out to be a mini-bike was absolutely hilarious. I hate people who tell me to go into a movie expecting certain things and accept it for what it is. Usually when they say that it's because it's a movie that I hate or one that just exceeds the level of over the top I'll accept. Yet you gotta go into this movie with that mindset. If you're like me, you'll enjoy this. You'll probably enjoy it more if you watch the two movies together.
Even after it was over, Death Proof was looked at like a slow paced, almost boring movie. Planet Terror provided the exact opposite. It was action personified. While either movie alone may only be slightly above average. One is too slow and the other too over the top. Combined the movies compliment each other so well that together they're much better. For anyone who hasn't seen these movies, I recommend not watching Death Proof or Planet Terror. Instead you should watch Grindhouse the way it was intended by watching both movies back to back in order with the trailers in between if possible. I don't know that you can duplicate the theater experience but if you come close you'll have a much more enjoyable movie experience.
8 of 10 - An original movie theater experience that sadly most people didn't get to enjoy.
This Is the End (2013)
The Best Thing Seth Rogan Has Wrote Since The Pineapple Express!
If you loved the Pineapple Express this movie is on that level. Seth Rogan did a great job in his directorial debut. If you're a fan of Rogan and his click of friends, I don't see how you won't love This is the End. It gets wild and unrealistic but it's all in good fun. I watched it and Man of Steel this weekend and let me tell you that This is the End has more realistic and connect-able characters in it than that big budget sh!+ sandwich I had to eat while setting through Man of Steel. There's great "Rogan" comedy throughout this film with the buddy atmosphere you want in a movie with a cast of characters like this. If, like me, you enjoyed Pineapple Express the most of the ever growing long list of Rogan comedies, know that I rank this movie right up there with Superbad, Pineapple, Zack & Miri, etc...
8 of 10 - It'll only ever be appreciated by fans but if you like the other films these guys make you'll enjoy this one too.
Man of Steel (2013)
Over the Top & Missing A Realistic Human Element
I wanted to finally enjoy something Superman related and I thought that this movie might finally be it. Instead of getting the simple heart felt, love story, coming to terms with who he is story, this movie misses on all connections. It's an over the top action movie, that just did not connect with me on any level. It might have well had been an alien invasion movie as opposed to a Superman movie. The movie is full of explosions and building upon building being destroyed. If you're looking for an action movie full of mindless explosions and destruction that's what you'll get.
I wasn't a fan of Hollywood's last Superman incarnation at all. I still managed to think it was better than this movie. At least that one tried to give you a descent story that was somewhat Superman related. This movie is nothing but a Hollywood buck. If word of mouth doesn't get out about this movie and kill it's second weekend, I feel sorry for those you actually enjoy this action fluff. I'm not trying to just be negative but this movie flat out pi$$ed me off.
I can compare the difference in what I thought this movie should be and what it was by comparing it to the differences between Die Hard and Live Free or Die Hard. Die Hard is one of the most iconic "man" action movies out there. It had great action but was still a simple story of a man struggles and barley overcoming the near impossible. Live Free or Die Hard however was so over the top and unrealistic, it lost the simple realistic human elements that made the action from the original acceptable while also relating us John McClain's struggles.
The movie may just have not been for me. To make your own judgment I'll compare the movie once again. To me it seemed similar to the recent Thor movie with about 6 times the action. Like Thor, Man of Steel didn't have much depth. When it did try to connect it was so unrealistic and cheesy it was too much. The only realistic and relateable parts of the movie that had any depth was Kevin Costner playing Clark Kent's father. I know Costner was almost shunned by Hollywood because of a couple of big budget flops and because he's getting older but the best moments in the movie are with Costner and a young Clark. Jonathan Kent is definitely the only character I had an emotional attachment to.
There's really no actor I thought did bad in this. Costner stood out most and sadly Christopher Meloni had the next best performance in his very limited role. Richard Schiif (also a minimal role) was also good. While the other actors did fine I guess, I just really didn't connect with them. This movies downfall was the need for the ridiculous amount of action to story ratio.
3 of 10 - Probably a 4 off quality but for now it's frustrated me so much it gets a 3. I've always thought director Zack Snyder's '300' was overrated and slightly above average at best. If people go crazy for this Superman adaption then I'm just lost as to why people enjoy what the watch.
Bates Motel (2013)
I Tried and Tried Again
There's just way too much wrong with the logic of this show for me to forgive. They've failed to build the Mother, son relationship like it should be. Norman's mother isn't as controlling as she should be. Norman having a brother takes away leaps and bounds from the, momma's boy, only child that Norman should be.
Besides all of those flaws. Which if you treat the series as if it weren't related to Psycho is doable. There's just way too many fails in logic. Someone saw, Norman's mother talking to the man she killed? In the middle of nowhere? A bus stop just outside the Bates house? In the middle of nowhere along a street that pretty much only has the one house near? A convenient strip club and small organized crime syndicate in a small town? I live in a small town. The girls father crashes his car right in front of the kids. Just far enough away that they could still run to him.
The whole thing is just not thought out well enough.
4 of 10 Stars - I only made it two episodes before deciding my life could be spent better doing something else.
Safety Not Guaranteed (2012)
The Quality of Movie that Should be in Theaters
This was a genuinely good movie. It's offbeat and a little quirky the way a good indy movie should be. I'm not going to give anything away to those fellow indy movie lovers out there. A great indy movie is usually discovered with the watcher knowing little to nothing about the movie going into it. I'll say that if you enjoy movies like, Garden State, Little Miss Sunshine, Napoleon Dynamite, Wristcutters, Dan in Real Life, Eagle vs Shark, Perks of Being a Wallflower, Sunshine Cleaning then you'll probably enjoy Safety Not Guaranteed. In my opinion quality movies like this should get a wider theatrical release over horribly done blockbuster budget movies like G.I. Joe and Transformer 3.
8 of 10 Stars - A really great movie
No Pan's Labyrinth but Not Bad Either
I go into this movie with the recommendation of Guillermo del Toro, director of Pan's Labyrinth. I believe del Toro also "presented" the Orphanage when it came out. Since I really enjoyed both Labyrinth & Orphanage, I went to theaters for Mama. Mama never had the feel or felt on the same level as either Pan's Labyrinth or the Orphanage to me. It may have been wrong of me to go into this movie with expectations on such a high level as it's predecessors (so to speak).
I liken Mama more toward the two similar Sam Raimi directed/produced fails (in my opinion) "Drag Me to Hell" and "Possession". Mama is more similar to the two Raimi tainted movies than the del Toro ones. Where Mama is better than the Raimi movies is that it's actually a horror movie that will get some reaction. I watched all three movies in theaters. Neither Drag me to Hell or Possession got a reaction from the theater crowd. That is unless you count me. I laughed a few times at the ridiculousness. Mama on the other hand was a very similar type of movie but was made well enough to be considered a descent horror film.
My personal reasons with rating this movie only above average is that, there's been numerous movies of it's kind made in recent years. While this one is not bad, it also doesn't stand out with the best either. For my taste they showed the "evil character" far too often for it to be scary. Luckily the CGI was just good enough not to ruin the movie or anything but I did see a couple of scenes that looked like they were done just because they could do it. In my personal opinion, wait for video unless you just absolutely want to see it. When you do go into it, expect something along the lines of Drag me to Hell or Possession instead of Orphanage and Pan's Labyrinth.
6 of 10 rating. Worth watching in my opinion but save it for DVD/BluRay/Netflix/Streaming/however you cheaply watch movies. It's a movie someone will mention to me in 3-5 years and I'll remember but only barely. An enjoyable two hours but overall it just blends in.
Roller Coaster Series
First off, I love the show. It's great series that's hardly been topped in television history. There are many great characters with varying depth and wonderful acting.
All the mush aside the series is also one of the most roller coaster series I've ever seen. I rate the series as an 8/10 and I've considered giving it a 9. If I were to rate each season though they range from 5-10. The first season was amazing. A 9 or 10. The second season may have even topped that. Then the third season comes along and it's like pulling teeth. I loved Jimmy Smits in NYPD Blue and I think he did a surprisingly great job in Sons of Anarchy. Watching him in Dexter however was horrendous. It wasn't Jimmy though. It wasn't bad acting or anything like that. It was just the way the whole season was laid out. I don't know the direction the creative team was going. To this day I never looked into whether there were changes in writing, producing, directing, etc. but the third season was so bad I stopped watching for almost 3 years. Getting back to Dexter 3 years later I was pleased to see the 4th & 5th season get back into the Dexter stride. While not as good as the first couple they were both solid. The 6th season was my favorite besides the original first two. The Brother Sam character (and the actor who portrayed him) as well as Colin Hanks and Edward James Olmos were terrific. The 7th season had series changing potential but to me it's been the worst since the 3rd season. It's a roller coaster series full of highs and lows. At times it'll give you exactly what you want and at other times make you mad all season.
For anyone who also reads the book series, I am a fan of both. As a fan of both I'll tell you that you have to treat the two as two separate entities. You have to treat it as dual dimensions or something of that nature if you want to get nerdy about it. Treat it like the multiple Spider-man movies. Two different takes of the same stories. The first part of the first season follows the book very closely. Then by the end of the season it goes into it's own direction. The second season is influenced by the book but only slightly. Beyond season two of the series there's only a few comparisons. Oddly the series was at it's best when it was influenced by the books but I enjoy the series more than the books altogether. I will say that I won't be completely satisfied unless the series takes advantage of the incredibly controversial 5th book (Dexter is Delicious) before the TV series ends. In my opinion Dexter is Delicious is the best of the books series.
8 of 10 - Not always on the same level but still overall it's one of the best.
If Sex and Drugs Sell, Why is this Movie so Bad?
I'm not an Oliver Stone fan and I'm not a Benico Del Toro fan. Not to say that neither of them have done good work because they have. They've both done far more middle of the road films and performances than stand out ones though. I personally feel that those who talk about how good of a director Stone is and how good an actor Del Toro is don't know what they're talking about. That includes those who are supposed to know what they're talking about within the business. This movie was all sex and drugs and lacked any heart to get you (or me at least) to care about anything that happens in the movie. It's simple. If I don't care, why am I watching? There's no shock value that this movie provides that hasn't been done before. So I'm not wowed by that. There's no 'wow' story line or scenes. There's certainly no heartfelt performances.
3 of 10 - I feel I'm being generous there. I simply cared about no one or nothing in the movie.