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The Hunger Games (2012)
the book was better
I read the trilogy recently--it was phenomenal. Being excited for the movie, I wasn't quite sure what to expect. Lost details and forgotten back stories are almost guaranteed. However, after seeing it, I honestly don't know how I feel about it. While it generally followed the book, a lot of things got lost in translation. Most of the cast was perfect: Katniss, Gale, Effie, Cinna, Cato, (the jury is still out on Harrelson as Haymitch). But Rue was terribly disappointing. She wasn't at all who I imagine, it was a terrible choice. As far as the details of the story, I found it funny how Katniss found water right away, never appeared hungry or thirsty and her injuries were more flesh wounds. Did anyone notice that she didn't lose her hearing after the explosion or Peeta didn't lose his leg? The Avox was never addressed... why? And what about the riots in District 11? What happened to the bread they gave Katniss? The muttations were disappointing too. The book described them as being morphed from dead tributes, an excellent twist; while the movie interpreted them as CGI-created wolf things. If you haven't read the book, go see it. If you've read the book, I'm afraid you'll be just as perplexed as I was. It was very similar to how I left "New Moon". That feeling of what? how could they forget so much? Just as the Twilight movies got better, hopefully these sequels will improve as well.
I enjoy a good thriller every now and then, but I just didn't get this one. Here's the plot: people get in elevator, people start dying, movie ends. No, really, that's the plot. At first they try to throw in a few twists, possible conspiracies, a spooky scene here and there, but it ends up falling flat. You know that feeling you got after watching "Unbreakable"? That feeling of let down after all the building and suspense? Well, same effect here. I think they try and put a 'learning point' to the story, but it doesn't make sense. Sin and you'll be taken out by the devil? don't think so; we'd all be taken out then. Admit a sin and you'll be forgiven by the devil? umm, no. I wouldn't bother with this one, not even for a $1 at Redbox.
Charlie St. Cloud (2010)
I'm so confused
OK, so our HSM start tries to grow into a serious role. In between waiting for Gabriella and him to break out into song, he at least makes a good attempt. Good is all about I'll give it. Here's the problem: we go from the scene in the car to them playing in the field all in under a minute. It's hard to get attached to Sam as a character when he's so briefly in the story. Then he spends the next five years playing a nightly game of catch with his dead brother.
Then in comes the love interest Tess. He doesn't appear to remember her from high school but is sleeping with her three scenes later. Here's where it gets confusing: she tells him she's going to leave in a few days on a 6-months solo sailing expedition around the world. They "date", talk, whatever, then all of a sudden Tess realizes no one can see her when she chases her dog down the street. In the blink of an eye and at no defined point, she becomes a ghost...or is it a vision? or a memory? Charlie find outs it's been three days and she "hasn't come back yet" (I thought this was a 6 month thing) and he goes out to find her. Sam angelically leads the way and she's found alive in freezing conditions with no food, water or shelter (yeah, right) when the coast guard couldn't find her with sonar and all their high technology.
I'm totally confused. At what point did she become this vision/ghost thing? Was she dead and talking to him? Is there a reason Charlie didn't know she was dead but can talk to other knowingly dead people? Did Tess ever really talk to Charlie or was she this ghost/vision thing the whole time? I don't know if there are spoilers in this review because I don't know what to spoil. What part of the relationship was real and what was fabricated? We all know everything ends up happy in the end and instead of that teary-eyed warm feeling, I'm left confounded.
Sorry, Zach. Stick to musicals. Don't even bother with this one.
Soul Surfer (2011)
Every so often, a movie comes out that breaks away from the everyday sex, violence, blood & language to which we have become desensitized. This is that movie. I took my 10 year old to see it and we cried at least half a dozen times. This is the true and powerful story of Bethany, a young surfer who loses her left arm in a tragic shark attack. What makes this movie great is how she deals with her loss and how it makes her a stronger person. She comes from a religious family and it was so nice to see Christianity being celebrated in a movie, and showing how, "Through Him, all things are possible". Though she ends up asking the understandable "Why God?", she learns that through faith, family and friends, she can use her disability to not only still do what she loves, but teach others about perseverance. Her Christian friend Sarah, is a great source of comfort after the accident and her family is always supportive. It was interesting that when the movie started, a pair of teens were next to me. After the church service scene, they asked "Aw, man. Are these people Jesus freaks?" I smiled to myself and said nothing. By the end of the movie, they were in tears and applauding. I truly wish there were more movies like this out there. It's been a while since I've been able to take my daughter to a movie and not spend half the film covering up either her eyes or her ears. This is a MUST SEE for everyone.
*possible spoiler* At first this movie looked very promising. Matt Damon is one who can act a wide variety of characters and I looked forward to something different. However, this movie left me disappointed on several levels. First, the opening scene. While the tsunami itself was tragic and hard to watch at times, the visual effects were abysmal. Could they have at least used real water? That didn't get things started off on the right foot. We watch as three different stories somehow come into one plot. While yes, they eventually merge, it took forever and the storyline dragged. Next was Damon's new friend from cooking class. I hate to say it, but she got what she asked for...then she just dropped from the story--weird. As for the ending, it left you hanging and thinking "really?" While I get the idea of the story and tales themselves are very compelling, movie as a whole didn't work. There wasn't enough background info on Damon's skills and I nearly fast-forwarded to the end to figure out what these 3 people had to do with each other. While "Hereafter" delves into the after-life, psychic abilities and fate, it ends up being a let down.
Sex and the City 2 (2010)
complete waste of time
As a huge fan of the series, I was generally happy with the first movie. However, in true Hollywood fashion, the dead horse continues to get beaten. We get the concept here, as we have for 12 years: Charlotte is the pampered stay-at-home mom and wife who apparently "needs a break". A break? From what? She has a full-time nanny! Anyways, I digress. Samantha is the usual sex fiend who can't keep her zipper closed for more than a day at a time. Miranda is the overly-feminist lawyer/mom who tries to balance life and work (again, as we've seen for 12 years) and Carrie just can't decide if she wants to be the single party gal or a married woman. I understand the need to break away and find solace to do her writing. As a writer myself, I can see that. But then she turns a suggestion of Big's to stay in, wear sweats and watch TV into a threat to her Prada/Gucci-filled go-out-every-night lifestyle. The movie is filled with the usual lame one-liners. "Lawrence of my labia?" Samantha, are you serious? After the dreadful and completely pointless gay wedding, we're whisked off to the mid east where Carrie can't stay faithful for a week and Charlotte turns into a bumbling nitwit in search of cheezy trinkets for her kids. When they were running through the streets incognito and discover a group of women who wear designer clothes under their robes/gowns (yeah, right) my stomach churned with agony. We get the characters and the storyline already and nothing ever really changes. An amazing show turned into a sequel with a plot so painfully replayed I truly hope they put SATC to bed already (no pun intended).
I was expecting a lot of Tim Burton-style with a hint of "The Nightmare Before Christmas". What I got was a just plain nightmare. Shelling out the extra $3 to see it in 3D, I was overwhelmed with fast moving images and color layouts that looked like Picasso on acid. What bothered my daughter were the spooky images of the "other" family's crossed out eyes. It ended up scaring her. What bothered me was those two weird sisters that did their little musical number with the fat one wearing little more than a thong and nipple flowers. I almost regurgitated my popcorn at that point. I know they tried to send the message of "be careful what you wish for" and being happy with what you have, but this left me feeling nauseated, disappointed and wanting my money back.
Gnomeo & Juliet (2011)
not worth it
I took my 7-year-old to see this and was quite disappointed. I get the whole Romeo & Juliet parallels, but this bordered on the absurd. While the story tries to depict love based on who you are and not what family you belong to, it ends up stereotypical, hokey and focuses more on revenge than is does love. Everyone is "out to get" everyone else and by the end, I was wishing it had the non-G ending. There's no memorable music, no feel-good lessons and the animation was average at best. The only redeeming factor was the Flamingo. His character had more depth than either Gnomeo or Juliet's and I felt more of an emotional attachment to him. Though I didn't pay the extra money to see it in 3D, it was hardly worth it to see in 2D. Don't bother with this one.
Sherlock Holmes (2009)
Could have been so much more
I finally got around to seeing this movie and what I was expecting far exceeded what was delivered. Downey had such potential to portray the brilliant Holmes, but he turned out to be a drunken, festering, mumbling, Johnny-Depp-like weirdo. I swear I couldn't understand half the movie. London ended up being a dreary urban slum and the movie focused less on deductions and clues, and more on karate chop action scenes and special effects. Jude Law was the only redeeming quality here. Sadly, I can't recommend this movie. And as usual, the original books are much better. btw, "The Mummy" used the line "death is only the beginning" over ten years ago.
The Blind Side (2009)
I honestly don't know why people are dissing this movie. I finally got around to watching it and I was amazed, inspired, touched and hopeful. It's an inspiring story of a wealthy, Christian Memphis family who takes in a neglected teenager named Michael who has fallen through the cracks. He is shown unconditional love, support and faith and learns to be a part of a family and a community. This is a great family movie that I am proud to show my kids. It shows the unfortunate reality of racism, rednecks and assumptions. But it also shows the importance of acceptance (especially of those democrats...har har), family and dedication. People need to chill out and just enjoy this movie. So it doesn't have blood, boobs, car chases, explosions, or CGI. But this is a touching movie that I wish were the rule than the exception.
The Crazies (2010)
At first I thought this would be just another zombie movie...how wrong I was. I was surprisingly impressed by this movie. They waste no time in getting to the core of the plot, then little by little they explain what's going on. It keeps you interested while not making you wait 2 hours to know what the heck is going on. There's more than just slashing and screaming, but a forewarning that there are about a dozen jump-out-of-your-seat scenes. And of course, like any good horror flick, it leaves you with that last "aw man!" scene. What makes this horror flick different from most is that it's actually realistic and feasible. Once the story unfolds, it's scary how this could really happen and how people would be "handled" in the process. It's well cast with convincing effects. Worth the $9 definitely!
good job, but with flaws
If we hadn't already been inundated with monster movies, this might have been more successful. The movie is very sci-fi mixed with horror and drama. It tells the story of what happens when our society becomes dominated by vampires and the human blood supply is dwindling. Ethan Hawke plays the handsome, "good" vampire named Edward who doesn't drink human blood and actually likes humans (hhmmm, boy does that character sounds awfully familiar!) There's also a comparison to our society now after what would happen to vampires as a whole if the supply ended. The once-sophisticated vampires turn into savages and start raiding stores and blood banks. But would we, as people today, act any differently if our water supply ran out? or oil? or food? As Edward and his team of vampires search for a blood substitute, we see sub-plots unfold with family, love, betrayal and trust. Sam Neill makes a remarkably good vampire and was well cast. The flaw, besides the direct "Twilight" comparison to Edward Cullen, is the background. We see little previews of how this whole society came to be, but nothing was fully explained. Somehow a bat started it all, but there's not much more detail than that. As a whole, I thought is was well done. Worth the DVD rental for sure.
District 9 (2009)
the most worthless piece of crap I've ever seen
Honestly, I really don't know what the big deal is with this movie. It was raved as inventive, well-filmed, great effects, blah blah blah. You have to be kidding me. Once again, we are taken through the documentary-style movie about aliens, this time adding their colonization and relocation. It's supposed to be an 'inside look' at what the agents go through and what happens to one agent in particular. Yet what we end up with is the same old, redone, repetitive yawns. Ten years ago when "The Blair Witch Project" came out, it was revolutionary. But film after film later of the same thing, it gets old after a while. There's only so much of the jiggling camera I can take. The story got really old really fast and I just kept thinking it has to get better. But it never did. We actually left halfway into it, something I haven't done in at least a decade. Don't waste your time with this one. Garbage!
The Twilight Saga: New Moon (2009)
you guys just need to calm down
It's been hysterical to read such negative reviews the past few days. I am truly stunned when people write 'it's a chick flick' or 'it was made for Tweens'. One word--- duh! It would be the same if I watched "Saw" then wrote a negative review because it was a horror flick. Please, please, do me a favor. If you have not read the books, DO NOT see this movie. Plain and simple. Let me break it down for you: 1. The books are always better than the movies. We've seen a hundred books become movies and are always shocked when they're not as good. Just as in "Twilight", "New Moon" skipped over a lot of things, and honestly a lot of important things that the book described. The sorrow and depression that Bella feels just isn't the same on screen. There was a lot about Jacob left out and their trip home from Italy was completely overlooked. The cliff jumping scene was particularly disappointing. Stephanie Meyer does such a great job of describing Bella's jump, Edward's reaction and her drowning, but the movie just couldn't do it justice. 2. This movie's target audience is girls ages 10-18. again, duh. If you're a guy, you are going to hate it. There's no sex scenes, no naked women, no explosions or bloody gore. Guys, just go with your girlfriend, see it and stop whining already. 3. This wasn't designed to be Oscar-worthy. It's a chick flick.
With those simple thoughts in mind, please stop taking this movie so seriously. It's just entertainment and let me just give you a head's up, "Eclipse" will be a romance movie. again, duh.
Saw VI (2009)
The best of the series
I first came into Saw VI with fairly low expectations. By the fifth one, I was thinking "how many more can they really do?" The traps were getting old, there wasn't as much fear factor, and it was more gore than plot. At one point you're thinking 'why'? But, in true Saw style, they leave just enough to keep it going and you guessing. Saw VI was absolutely amazing! The traps are new and brilliantly sick and twisted (who thinks up this stuff?) It's especially good because it takes the whole health care issue front and center in the plot. It's also a great look at assumptions and judgments. The questions are finally answered (like what was in Jill's box and the letter that upset Amanda) and the twist at the end leaves you jaw-dropped OMG and wanting more. Well done!
Gran Torino (2008)
powerful and compelling
In recent months of boring and useless movies, "Gran Torino" was a welcome change of pace. Clint Eastwood was amazing as always-- he should've won an Oscar for this role. Eastwood plays a man who recently lost his wife and struggles to find his own way alone and dealing with his "immigrant" neighbors. His own well-meaning and loving, but ultimately selfish family try to help him through his loss, but end up being more obnoxious than useful (come on, a big button phone as a birthday present?) He then befriends his young next door neighbor as Eastwood becomes the unwilling hero of the neighborhood for standing up to a group of gang members. His stoic, old-school and unwaivering beliefs make Eastwood's character come off as cold and uncaring, but he ends up showing Toad (as he called him) more guidance and love than he did his own sons. Though Eastwood's comments about "non-whites" are racist, they are incredibly funny and well-timed. Only someone that old could get away with comments like that. He reminded me much of my own grandfather whose racist statements left my jaw dropped at times. As Eastwood takes Toad under his wing, he teaches the young man about hard work, how to "converse like a man" and even how to hit on women. He also befriends Toad's sister as she has a tongue as quick and obnoxious as Eastwood's. I won't give away the main events or the ending, but it is powerful and bittersweet. This was a very impressive movie and I highly recommend it to everyone.
crap from the start
**possible spoilers** I'm always fascinated by recent Angelina Jolie movies. I could make a drinking game out of how many pouting-lip scenes there are. This movie starts out action-packed and never really stops. But soon, the CGIs get old, the slow shooting angles grow redundant and there are plenty of "yeah right" scenes. After a while, the defiance of physics and medical reality bored me-- like the train that falls down a cliff several hundred feet with people walking away and later being shot, stabbed and blown up without feeling a thing. Oh, and by the way, did you know a bullet can travel in a circle going through several heads in the same spot no matter how tall they are without losing velocity? Yeah, whatever.
Seven Pounds (2008)
stick with it
At first I was a little hesitant to watch this movie. While it certainly isn't Will's usual summer-action-flick style, it's nice to see him in a dramatic role. But there's that wonder--is this really good or just a lot of 'talking scenes' with no real purpose. You will be pleasantly surprised. Ben is a troubled man who meets strangers and has an impact on every one of them. As the movie goes on, the questions mound: what happened to this guy? What's with him and his brother? What happened to his wife? What's with the 911 scene? At one point it almost gets so frustrating that I nearly shut it off. But don't worry, the explanations do come...stick with it. This is a touching story and yes, you will need Kleenex. You can identify with every character and feel their story. It's a little like 'Pay It Forward' but with a lot more true feeling and less forced emotion. You will not be disappointed.
I saw this yesterday (finally!) This is one heck of a sequel. I was absolutely amazed. I couldn't take my eyes off the screen.
The good: the effects (zowie!), better jokes and Sam's mom was hysterical. The "twins" also added some great humor. The bad: filming crews tend to forget that when they film with their backs to the sun, they can still be seen. In several scenes, you could see the film crew shadows. Also, in the opening scene, the action was so fast it was hard to tell who was who and it ended too quickly. The ending also screeched to a halt. It could have used a little more cool-down time. The ugly: I also took my two kids (8 and 6). There was, unfortunately, more language in this one and a lot more sexual jokes-- good thing the kids are too young to understand them. There was one scene that I had to cover their eyes because it was a little gross for them. But overall, they loved it.
Then I started talking to some people and some are calling it racist. Personally, I have no idea where they're getting that from. But you'll always find people who complain no matter what. These are probably the same people that said "The Lion King" was racist too.
This is a perfect summer flick: amazing effects, well-timed humor and characters you could feel for. All in all, I loved it and I'll definitely see it again.
Prom Night (2008)
just plain stupid
I didn't have terribly high expectations with this movie, but it's amazing how I still felt disappointed. This is a very predictable movie with weak acting, pitiful slasher scenes and a downright dumb ending. OK- here's the story: psycho killer with no reasonable connection to the young girl he fantasizes after starts killing her friends on her prom night. Then a policeman kills him and the movie ends. No, seriously, that's the movie. There's no killer coming back to life for one last scary scene, no boyfriend to save the day, just lots of killing and credits rolling. There's nothing but stereotypical characters, a flat storyline and no element of fear whatsoever. what a waste!
everyone just chill....
Whenever a movie comes out, I'm always hysterical at how people over analyze, over criticize and just plain freak out. Mind you, I'm not the target audience for Twilight, but this movie was great (and I'm 35!) So here's my guideline: if you fall into one of the following categories, you should not see this movie:
1. You didn't read the book 2. You're a man (the idea of monogamy and abstinence are probably shocking) 3. You don't like female directors (for some reason people tend to diss movies of female directors quicker) 4. You're expecting blood and nudity
However, if you fall into one of these categories, you should see this movie:
1. You read the book(s) 2. You're a hopeless romantic and/or you always secretly wished to be desired by someone dangerous or forbidden 3. You don't over analyze things and just enjoy movies for what they are 4. You know that the book is always better
Does the movie do the book justice? of course not, they never do. You never get the same emotions out of a movie. But just as Interview with the Vampire was a better book and is still the best vampire movie out there, Twilight is an amazing read that makes a great flick. Considering the amount of really bad vampire movies made in the last 10 years (Van Helsing, Dracula 2000, John Carpenter's Vampires, etc.), this is a welcome change. I can't wait for "New Moon".
Saw V (2008)
potential spoiler*** I've been a big fan of the Saw series and while I had a feeling it would be a little redundant, I still got the spooks. What made the series interesting was the fact that it wasn't just another slasher movie. There was a real point to the traps, each movie connected to the other and there was always an unexpected twist. Saw 1-3 were the bases of the plot and 4&5 were all about history of the characters. What was different about Saw V is the traps. While some of the traps in the first four were about getting yourself out or working together to get each other out, this one was about assumptions. Like the trap at the beginning of IV, you knew the two guys had to work together (too bad it didn't work). We all figure it's about saving yourself and the group losing one each round. But soon we learn that all 5 were supposed to work together and survive the entire test. But in our world it's easy to assume it's about saving yourself and sacrificing others, when in fact it's just the opposite. And at the end of the movie we assume it would be safer outside of the glass box, but again....we assume wrong.
It's true that two apprentice's traps were inferior...there was no way out. The pendulum one was particularly nasty. The victims didn't learn anything and couldn't redeem themselves. John was the true master of the traps and I really hope this was the last of the series. Finish it while it's good instead of making 23 useless sequels like Friday the 13th. One last thought....what the heck was in the box Jill got from John?
The Ruins (2008)
I've been on the hunt for a good horror flick recently. One with more than just pure gore, I'd like old-fashioned suspense, a true scare and believable story lines. Then I rented "The Ruins". It started out as the usual plot line, moronic Americans trying to buy their way through foreign countries to roam and pillage as they like. Soon things go wrong and people start dying. From obvious directing mistakes in the first 15 minutes of the movie, to lame acting to hysterical special effects, this falls into the pit of another bad horror flick. There's one point in the movie when the characters think they hear a cell phone. So, of course, being smart horror movie characters, they go deeper into the ruins that have killed everyone else so far. Soon they find that in fact there is no cell phone and the vines are "singing" the cell phone tune. I started laughing, expecting the vines to break out into a chorus of "It's a Small World". The ending is predictable and though it tried to be spooky, it ended up being funny. Don't bother with this one!!
Curse of the trilogy
Like so many great movies that became dragged-out trilogies, the newest Mummy falls right in. Don't get me wrong, I absolutely loved the first movie. But like so many sequels, this story line becomes repetitive. The first rule of sequels is to keep the cast. Rachel and Brendan and an amazing chemistry, but Maria Bello was abysmal as the new Evelyn. Her fake British accent and melodramatic acting was inexcusable. The sets looked like they were built by 3rd graders, the effects were overwhelming, the scenes were disjointed and the cheesy one-liners got old fast. Sure, Brendan Fraser still looks hot in a tux, but he still looks 35 even though his son is in his young 20s. Overall, I was terribly disappointed. I wouldn't even bother seeing it in theaters...and please tell me this series is finally over.
Freakish and terrifying
I was a big fan of "The Blair Witch Project". The idea behind it was great and it was spooky as hell. This is very much along the same lines. In documentary-style filming, a group of 20-somethings live out a monster attack on Manhattan through the eyes of the camera holder. Trust me, it's freaky and made me sick to my stomach (pop some Dramamine before you watch this one). There was very little gore, but the effects and camera action make you feel like you're racing down the streets for your life. Though there's lots of unanswered questions like -what was it? -why did it attack? -did anyone survive? -what exactly happened to Marlena? blah blah blah, it was a very effective movie in basically scaring the crap out of you. The last scene is especially moving as you hear the infamous "thud" of the camera, just like you do in "Blair Witch". This is a wild one.