Aug 20, 2011

Apologies to Chris Brown

I don’t know who this Andrew Levy guy is – but he is, without question, the best thing to ever happen on fox news.

Movie Reviews @ The Temple

Okay, I’m way behind again, let’s power through:

Sucker Punch – This movie is ultimately a failure, but I see what he was going for. It’s basically about some girls in an asylum who escape into a fantasy land that some how impacts their attempt to escape the asylum. As such, the movie comes into 2 distinct sections. The fantasy sections are essentially the baddest ass video game cut scenes you’ve ever damn seen. It is so much exactly what you would make if you made your ideal cut scenes, it’s almost insulting. I mean, they cover steam punk, they cover WW II, they cover dragons, they cover orcs, knights, robots, samurai, guns, planes, swords, fucking everything. It’s borderline manipulative to cram basically every single nerd trope (sans ninjas and pirates) into a single hour and a half. But, like it or not, it’s pretty awesomely filmed (slash digitally generated) action. The other half of the movie is very uncomfortable. I don’t feel that Zach Snyder has the cred to pull off a movie about abused women. Especially when their empowerment comes from wearing as little as humanly possibly whilst beating the shit out of undead soldiers. It just comes off bad. Besides the fact that the asylum world is kind of boring and nonsensical. There is a moderate twist at the end that doesn’t land very heavily, and the moral is… ambiguous. On the flip side, I was busy trying to buy a god damn touchpad for $100 (WHICH DISAPPEARED FROM MY CART HALFWAY THROUGH CHECKOUT!), so I accidentally let the movie start again. And the opening slow-motion-to-music scene that originally felt in media res and fell kind of flat, was actually very effective. I have a worry that the movie needs a second watching that I’ll never give it. But I’m probably wrong.

Red – What the hell? Why was this so good? This was supposed to be bad! Like, really bad. But it was actually really good. Like, 4 stars on netflix good. It’s not a super original story, an old retired killer has to strap his gun back on and do a job or save his own life or whatever. But the movie is aware of that, kind of has fun with it, has this wacky team of retired spies that’s just silly enough to take the edge off of the potential “same old”ness, but not so silly that it becomes pointless. Really, honestly, shocked at how much I liked this.

The American – zzzzz. Huh? What? Oh, I’m sorry. I was just watching the american, and I fell asleep. CUZ IT’S BORING. I’m sure this movie thinks it is the slow burn of spy movies that builds and builds to awesomeness. But it’s not. It’s 1/4 of a spy movie spread over 2 hours with nothing to fill the gaps except george clooney staring intently at a girl, a guy, or into the distance. Which is sad, because I used to be able to say I’ve never disliked a clooney movie. But this one sucked.

Cop Out – Well, funnier than I thought it would be. I hate tracy morgan. And yes I hated him before the gay kid “contraversy”, he’s not funny, he just acts crazy, and people THINK that means funny, but it actually is just stupid. Anyway, the movie is better than you would think. Not really that good or anything, but not so bad.

Fast and Furious – Um, so, all the people from the old movies get together, drive cars fast, shoot guns (maybe? I can’t remember?). It’s cool stuff, I guess, but who cares? No one.

Death Race 2 – Less driving, lots more violence. A twist (?) to make this prequel connected to the last movie that doesn’t make sense. Kind of fun mindless violence, that’s all.

Jonah Hex – Also better than I thought it would be, I had heard such bad things. It’s not all that exciting, megan fox can be eliminated from the world and that would be good. Josh Brolin does an ok job I guess? I don’t know, I watched it 2 months ago, I really don’t remember.

Night at the Museum 2 – I think this was kind of fun. Kind of like the first one, maybe a little less interesting because the idea wasn’t novel and they had to up the “action” to make the sequel bigger. So kind of lamer in that respect. Amy Adams’ Amelia Earhardt was more annoying than she was inspiring as a strong woman. But still, kind of fun.

The Wolfman – This is the longest back in the list of things I forgot to write about. I’m pretty sure I thought it was horrible. I did bother to give it 2 stars, so I guess it’s not like, C-movie trash, but it’s still pretty bad. Boring for non-action, action isn’t interesting, story isn’t interesting, just not very good.

Aug 11, 2011

Movie Reviews @ The Temple

Xmen First Class – Well, that was entirely adequate. Not bad, not at all. Good, I guess you’d say. But no more than that. The casting was good all around. The girl who played Mystique was too young (making it super creepy at one point) and January Jones is too weird looking to be hot enough to be the white queen. But she did the uppity thing well. Kevin Bacon is probably the best (though I seem to remember shaw being much burlier), though everyone, including me, is kind of in love with michael fassbender lately. The plot was fine. Ridiculously rushed. I guess it’s cool to put it against a big historical event. But that historical event happened kind of quickly. Which means the standard training montage that typically happens way too quickly happened WAAAAY too quickly. The action is pretty good, pretty brief though. I did have a problem with the setting. Except for one shagadelic song and some silly outfits, it didn’t feel very 60s to me. It could have been any time period, it really didn’t matter. I don’t know, the movie is good. I think maybe we aren’t surprised by good comic movies anymore. I imagine the first Xmen blew me away because I didn’t think they could do it. Now I know they can, so you have to try harder to make it really good. Still worth seeing though.

The Social Network – Well I finally see this freaking movie. I have such a problem with it because there’s so much of it that’s not true. I don’t really know the details, but I know there’s plenty of artistic license, and that makes it hard to watch a based-on-a-true-story movie. It’s a well done movie, the dialogue is very aaron sorkin. Honestly I’m a little sick of that style these days. I think maybe it’s been done too much, or it just is too far from how people really talk. I’ve seen mark zuckerberg talk, he doesn’t talk like that. No one talks like that. Unless you have half an hour to prepare for each sentence to make the utmost efficient use of every syllable, you don’t talk like that. But whatever, it’s entertaining. So I still have this problem that it’s not real. Either the point of the movie is to be entertaining, in which case don’t base it on reality. Or it’s to tell the story, in which case, tell the right story. Kind of annoying that now i have this poisoned version of something that actually happened. But it is a good movie, well made, well acted, all that.

Mao’s Last Dancer – Pretty cool movie about a dancer in the 80s who comes over from China to study, and then causes a minor event when he doesn’t want to return. He’s a ballet dancer, I guess pretty famous at the time, not that I know ballet dancers. The dancing in the movie, though slightly more sparse than I’d like, was very nice. It’s edited and such to make it look better, I’m sure, but he the actor is a beautiful dancer. The movie is interesting, well done, and has pretty dancing, pretty much all you could ask from it.

The Green Hornet – Umm… okay I guess. Not bad, kind of amusing. Nothing special. The Kato fighting is pretty cool I guess. The story is predictable. Seth Rogan is likable enough as the green hornet. Feels a little low budget, like maybe it’s an HBO movie or something. But it’s not bad, just kind of fine.

On the Shoulders of Giants – What a cool movie! It’s a documentary about the beginnings of black people playing basketball professionally in america. Unsurprisingly, it used to be segregated. Surprisingly it wasn’t really integrated until the 50s. In the 20s and 30s there was a team called the Rens from Harlem. They were really sort of the heroes of that culture. A respected team that, though not allowed to compete with white guys formally, were every bit as good and better in exhibitions. They differed from the other famous team, the Harlem Globetrotters (who, amazingly, were from Chicago, and did not travel the globe) in that the globetrotters were more toward entertainment than straight up athletes. The movie follows their progression, eventually being able to play and win a championship against a white team (a win that went unmentioned by the white press of the time!). So the story is super interesting to begin with, and then there’s a very charming art style on top of it. Throughout the movie are drawings/paintings/something by this artist with an extremely cool style. Not quite caricature, kind of hyper realistic, kind of cartoony, but absolutely beautiful. There’s also this weird jib-jab thing I don’t like where they put still photos of these old players’ heads on still photos of their bodies and move them separately. Presumably because they don’t really have much video of them. It’s silly, though, I don’t like it. But the rest is so cool to look at. It’s got interviews with quite a few notable black people, some athletes, some not. And at 75 minutes long, it’s just a great way to spend some time on netflix instant.

The People I’ve Slept With – Oh the movies I’ll watch when I need something to be playing while I do other things! This is super amateur, about some girl who sleeps around, gets pregnant, has to find the dad, has a bunch of drama. Has a gay best friend who is also trying to “reform” his life. I don’t know how you can tell that it’s an amateur movie, but you can. The acting, mostly, the editing too, maybe the filming, not sure. Not very good. Not offensive, just not very good.

Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans – Pppppppppt. This movie is just like the first one, except even more pointless. There’s a story, but at least the first one KIND of had an arc. At least a tiny arc at the end. This guy is just an asshole like the first, and that’s it. Nicolas Cage is awful. I’m not sure if he thinks he’s doing a southern accent? Or a asshole accent? Tough guy? Something? Whatever it is, it blows. Everything in the movie sucks. The only good thing about this movie is it makes me look back on the original slightly more favorably.

Creep – Okay, so the girl from run lola run gets trapped in a subway at night, some crazy thing tries to kill her and a few other people. It’s kind of bloody, but not that much. They move past the unseen monster thing in about 10 minutes, so it doesn’t have any suspense to it. The characters don’t have much personality, so we don’t care about them. Look, I know it’s a crap horror movie that isn’t really worth many sentences. I’m just saying, it’s not very good.

The Hole – Hm, is this great, or horrible? 4 teenagers go down into an old abandoned bunker for a party, get stuck, bad things happen. The great part of the movie is its playing with flawed narrator. One version of the story it tells us isn’t the whole story, or even the right story. So we are set up to think things are happening one way. Then we start seeing hints that it’s another way. I thought that would be used more, like they would have us wondering what is true. They don’t really do that, sadly, once it switches, it stays switched. But they do continue to reveal things that we didn’t necessarily know at the start, so that’s cool. I’m not a fan of the super cold calculating effective young person, tends to feel too perfectly set up. But that’s a relatively small part of the movie, and the rest is really quite good. I’m not saying I loved it, but it’s cool.

Capitalism: A Love Story – Finally saw the latest michael moore movie. God damn is everyone as sick of his patronizing high and mighty bullshit tone yet? For fuck sake, I am very glad he tells me most of the things he tells me, but can someone else tell them to me? I can’t stand his obnoxious pretentious asshole voice anymore. Even when I AGREE with him it feels like he’s talking down to me. But if you can ignore that, and I’ll grant you that’s a big if, the movie is good. I don’t know why people get away with what they get away with. I feel like life has reached a level of abstraction that bad people may always get away with their shit. As long as banks can do the horrendous shit they do, and then Obama can get blamed for the state of the economy, how will the people who do bad ever suffer for it? Very frustrating.

Astro Boy – Nothing much to say, just an animated movie. Kind of meh animation, but it’s not bad. Average story, kind of funny. That’s about it.

Book of Eli – This movie’s pretty good. Everyone loves a post-apocalypse, after all. Denzel Washington does a remarkably contained job. I mean, his thing these days, what he gets credit for, is the staccato loud dramatic acting. Here he’s soft spoken, efficient in his use of action and voice, it’s good to see. The world looks reasonably convincing. And it has its own hook, it’s not JUST another guy wandering a scorched world fighting the bad guys who try to control the pieces. It’s got a purpose, and a nice little ending to go with that purpose. I could do without mila kunis trying to look like a badass, but besides that, I’d actually say it was a good movie!

Video Game Reviews @ The Temple

God of War 3 – So… that was as expected. It was fun, sure. Blood and guts is fun. Mashing buttons and ripping things apart is fun. QTEs are fun. But you could apply that exact same description to the last two games. I’m not really sure what the point of this one was. Oh yeah, it’s pretty. Well, GW2 was like 20 years ago. In my mind, it looks exactly like this one, so the graphics don’t really do much for me. So, same game, different textures. Nothing new. Fun, but old. Good distraction, fine way to unwind after months of being unable to play a video game, yep. But not really that special objectively.

Prototype / Infamous – So I played both of these games near each other, I might as well compare them directly, since I’ll be doing it indirectly in separate posts anyway. They are both super-hero type games, you have powers, you run around a city doing fighting stuff and climbing buildings. Infamous has a morality structure, prototype does not. As always the good/evil choices are pretty easy. There’s no gray or anything, but it’s kind of neat either being a famous hero or a hated villain as you walk around and see posters and people’s reactions. Overall the story of Infamous is probably better. Not that it’s amazing, but it seems like they put more effort in to it, and the end is pretty cool. Prototype is a hell of a lot more fun, though, I gotta say. To some extent, that is a result of Infamous’ choices, not its failures. That is, Infamous decides that you can only glide, and that to climb a building you have to hop from window to window, like Assassin’s Creed. Prototype says fuck that, you can literally run up the side of a building, leap off, fly for 3 city blocks, do a little air jump, fly some more, do ANOTHER air jump, fly some more, and then finally glide down. I can cross half the city in a single bound in the time the Infamous guy is still jumping past the 8th window. It’s not necessarily bad of Infamous to choose to make you slightly less powerful. But leaping around like a bad ass is much more good than climbing your 90th fire escape. Fighting is similarly streamlined and fun. In infamous hand to hand is pretty useless, mostly due to your limited range and limited ability to close range, and relative fragility to getting pounded by other guys’ guns while you fight one hand to hand. Prototype meanwhile is just chaos leaping from guy to go smashing them, pulling them in half, picking them up and destroying all their friends with their body. Plus driving tanks and helicopters is NEVER a bad thing. Again, it’s not like Infamous tried to do that and failed, they tried to do something different. But if I had 5 minutes to smash around a city, I’d definitely spend those 5 minutes in Prototype.

Aug 3, 2011


Not a whole lot of dancing, but extremely cool visuals from this group on america’s got talent.