Sep 6, 2011

Movie Reviews @ The Temple

The Source Code – So, imagine Run Lola Run and Inception had a baby. Except, contrary to what you would (fairly) assume – the baby doesn’t come out broken. The movie is cool, interesting, and Jake Gyllaplatypus does a really good job, especially in those moments where he’s trying to make sense of his situation. The movie does get kind of philosoraptor on you at the very end, asking you to accept a certain view of the result. It’s just the very end, you can believe it’s all in his head if you like, and I wouldn’t call deciding on that point to be necessary to like the movie, but it is kind of the take home message. Still good though.

Trollhunter – Damn, I had really high hopes for this one. Didn’t really have a good reason for that. Literally all I knew about it was the poster. But there was something powerful and majestic about that poster. I know what it was, it reminded me of Shadow of the Colossus – one of the best games ever and, given its dated graphics, still an astonishing visual. But first, this is a found footage movie. And while I love the style of found footage movies, I hate the pretense, I wish they’d just leave off the bullshit where they act like its real. More than that, though, I think the movie blows its load too early. In 25 minutes we’ve seen a troll, then we see like 5 more until the important one. If those trolls had been unseen, and then our first view was 70 minutes in, that could have been amazing. Maybe not, maybe I’m wrong, maybe that would have been a massively boring 70 minutes. And hell, you see the monsters throughout SotC, and it’s still amazing. On the flip side, the scenery is fantastic. I’ve never seen much about Norway, but wow is it pretty. I guess there’s a whole level of allegory to this movie that I didn’t understand. The trolls being a metaphor for the need for power, and the power lines or oil fields being the price we pay (ruining the environment) - that didn’t strike me much. And I don’t understand what’s supposed to happen at the end at all. Oh well, ultimately not great, I feel like it could have been great.

Mary and Max – Wow, what a good movie. A really really dark movie. It’s claymation, about a socially outcast 8 year old girl in australia who randomly becomes a penpal with a 40 year old asperger’s man in new york. Yes, that is occasionally creepy. The movie does stretch believability a little bit, things work out (or don’t) in convenient ways. But I can’t imagine a better way to tell this story. This movie is simultaneously hilarious and devastating. And I just don’t know how you could pull that off with real actors, or perhaps even with animation. Claymation has this fantastic ability to be serious, surreal, touching, wacky, and painful all in 5 minutes. I have to say, the movie made me cry a little, it was very touching.

Limitless – I had heard this was horrible, it’s not horrible. It’s not good. It’s an ok suspensey actioney movie. Narrators can be annoying, but I kind of like them. I think the big problem is the ending. It just feels a little too wish fulfillment on the part of the writer. Everything just turns up roses. I know most movies end happy. But most movies don’t’ end up SO damn happy. Like the writer just wrote his ultimate fantasy. It’s like writing a story about me getting super powers, just feels a little silly.

The Messenger – This is a pretty heavy movie. Woody from cheers and that guy who played the really creepy bad guy in 3:10 to yuma go around telling families that their loved one died in war. What a shit job. To some extent the movie does exactly what you imagine. It shows you the range of responses from people, from immense sadness to disturbing acceptance to the fury of the gods. And eventually these two men bond over their experiences, shared and missed. In as much as it is expected, it is still powerful. The guy from 3:10 to yuma is an amazing actor and the story of his war is captivating. Woody Harrelson is a bit less convincing, his listening to that story is perhaps the weakest part of the movie. But the rest of his performance is strong. Not a fun movie, but worthwhile if you can deal with being depressed for an evening.

Ninja – Yikes. I went in knowing there’d be horrible acting, writing, and general film making. But I did think it would have fun ninja fighting. How the hell do you make 90 minutes of swords and shurikens boring?

Hello Dolly – Yuuuuuuuck. We watched this because the song from Wall-E got stuck in our heads after going to Disneyland and we wondered what it was and we found out it was a musical that we hadn’t seen and it was on netflix, so there you go. But yuck. I’ve always disliked Barbara Streisand, despite realizing that I’ve never seen a movie with her in it, I just don’t like her. But now I have one datum, she is obnoxious in this movie. Granted, her character is obnoxious, maybe that’s not her fault, but yuck. And I know it was made 40 years ago, but it WAS after women got the right to vote, for christ’s sake, songs about finding a woman to do your cleaning are not charming. Oh, and on that note, Mr. Matthau, swinging your arms back and forth like you are marching IS NOT DANCING. This entire movie lacked any real dancing, had boring songs, hell, it kind of ruined the wall-e song a little for me.  The problem, of course, is that I love My Fair Lady. And that movie has not only a “men are great” song but also the worst ending to a movie in the history of movies. But it gets a pass. Why doesn’t this? I don’t know, it just sucks. Okay, to be fair, I wrote all that only an hour into the movie. The rest of the movie got slightly better. They had one number with somewhat acceptable choreography. And the title song is somewhat catchy and Louis Armstrong is the awesomest part of the whole thing. But she still sucks, he still sucks, and the point of the story still sucks. So… that’s me being fair?

Buried – This is the one from last year where Ryan Reynolds is buried in a coffin. The whole movie is him talking to people on the phone and generally freaking out. He does a pretty good job, I suppose. I don’t know that it’s the best movie in the world, but it’s an interesting experience. It is essentially a thriller, but in that confined space, kind of neat. On the other hand, though I know I’m being unfair, I just can’t get over the part where he holds his blackberry up to his ear upside down. How do you miss that?

Smokin’ Aces 2 – I assumed this movie would be bad. But then after a bit I thought, hey this might be good. I like ensemble movies, this movie has a cavalcade of killers all going after a target. But it really just never comes together. What action there is seems like blindly swinging at cool instead of pulling it off. And then for some reason it tries to make a plot twist, where no plot twist was required, and it just seemed silly.

Blitz – Look, I’m ok with Jason Statham making shitty movies where he beats the shit out of bad guys in creative ways. Granted, if he makes 3 of those a year, we might get a bit sick of it, but whatever. However, I am NOT ok with Jason Statham making a shitty movie with precisely 2 minutes of action, one in the beginning, and one in the end. And the rest of the movie attempting to… be interesting? a mystery? suspense cop movie? Dumb.

Forks Over Knives – This is a “documentary” promoting a whole foods plant based diet. Now, I’m obviously on board with that message. Granted, I eat a whole lot of processed crap, and I’m not vegan, so I don’t act out the message of the movie. But I certainly agree in principle. Yet still, this movie was pretty horrible. All these documentaries, I swear they aren’t even trying anymore. It is just so transparent when they present facts, or portions of facts, in ways that trick people. I’m not an idiot, filmmakers. You can’t give me data, some of which goes from 1978 to 1999, some of which goes from 1999 to 2006, some of which another time period, and expect me not to get suspicious. You can’t say “a respected researcher” and “a respected journal” and not cite what the fuck you are talking about. This movie introduces every god damn person who would talk positively about their message in the world, yet they can’t name “a respected researcher”? I know nothing about this stuff, and I can poke holes in their arguments. Do they not understand correlation versus causation? You can’t just boil these things down to ONE cause and ONE effect. And if the studies they refer to make any attempt to suss out that connection, they make no attempt to inform us of that fact. They just spout facts and anecdotes and studies as if they are rock solid. It’s just very bothersome, especially given that I nominally agree with the moral.

The Wizard – Um, yikes. That’s not really what I thought it was going to be. I had never seen it, I knew it was video games, but I didn’t realize it was a 90 minute ad for nintendo. Not a particularly good ad, of course, it was made in the 80s. I’m sure if I had seen it as a 10 year old, and it was my introduction to super mario bros 3, this movie would just have an unassailable place in my heart. But, I didn’t, it wasn’t, and it doesn’t.

Skyline – Movie about alien invasion. Better than it deserves to be, but not necessarily good. Some decent special effects, obviously limited scale, but that doesn’t bother me. Some pretty horrendous acting and writing, but an okay story. Again, not good, but not as bad as you’d think.

Centurion – Oh Netflix Instant, is there anything I won’t watch on you? Granted, we’re all slowly turning on netflix, so maybe I won’t be saying that in 6 months, but that’s not really what I’m supposed to be typing. This movie was fine, romans run around, chopping up dudes, mostly run around and get chopped up themselves. Not very good, but okay background movie.

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