Dec 11, 2011

Movie Reviews @ The Temple

Rango – This movie is pretty fun. There’s not really a whole lot to say about it, it’s funny, it’s cute, it’s a nice adventure. There is the slight distraction of someone in the room yelling about how the Mojave desert doesn’t have saguaro cacti. But besides that, it’s a good movie. Plus, I was doing the yelling the stars in Wall-E twinkled when they were off planet. So, half a dozen.

Captain America – Well, better than Thor, that’s for sure. The more I think about Thor the less I like it. A few good hammer swings, and the rest of the movie kind of sucked. This one isn’t amazing, it’s kind of average in a lot of respects, but it wasn’t as boring as Thor. They do a fair job of getting the Cap ethos right. I’ve never been a cap guy, he was always too clean cut and boring for me. But if you are going to do him, you have to get the underlying stuff right. He is kind of painfully noble and good. He’s very much the Marvel Superman. Both of those characters can be very boring without the proper context and are a challenge to write because of that. But that’s the character, and they did a fairly good job of sticking to that blind nobility, so that was good. Action was alright. Dude with a shield just isn’t all the spectacular, at the end of the day. As part of a team in Avengers he’ll be great, I think.

It’s Kind of a Funny Story – Against all odds, this movie is quite good. It’s about a 16 year old kid who thinks he’s suicidal because his life is so hard. He goes into the psychiatric ward of a hospital to get help. He there meets a few wacky characters, including Zack Galifinakis playing as normal as he ever has, and also including a cute girl (of course). This movie is in imminent danger at all times of being horrendously cliché, cheesy, and trite. Oh boo hoo, poor 16 year old upper middle class white kid’s life is hard. But amazingly, this movie has just the right awareness of that weakness. It, and the kid, know that his life isn’t that hard and that some people have a lot worse to deal with. But a lot of us have lives that aren’t that hard, and it’s a fair point that we should all chill the fuck out and enjoy what we have. Even me saying that sounds trite, right? But this movie has an honesty to it, aware that it’s not the oracle of truth, but still has something good to say. On the flip side, I’m not sure how I would have react to this if I watched it while depressed. There is a tendency to get wrapped up in your own “problems” and reject any external opinion. So it’s possible a movie with a message on how to enjoy life will be lost on those who need to most.

The Adjustment Bureau – This movie is pretty good too. The premise is there’s a bunch of people whose jobs are to keep everyone on “the plan”. And if you deviate (on purpose or accident) they try to correct. Then someone tries to go off plan, for love no less, drama! Sounds kind of corny, and it is kind of corny, but it’s pretty entertaining. Mostly in a popcorn way, not a mind blowing way, but still fun to watch.

Hanna – Meh. I remember seeing the ad for this so long ago and thinking it looked awesome. A teenager girl assassin? Cool! And all the imagery of this pale girl in the pale scenery was very striking. Unfortunately, the movie just doesn’t live up. Too much talking, not enough fighting. Weird story that feels slightly non-cohesive. I wish it had been great.

Season of the Witch – Okay, so, this isn’t the worst movie ever. I know, crazy. It’s not good, it’s super duper average. Nothing about it needed to exist that you couldn’t get elsewhere done better. But all that being said, there is stabby stabby and fighty fighty and things look ok and the story is whatever and Nicolas Cage doesn’t totally annoy you. So it’s fine.

The Graduate – I had never seen this. It’s…. boring as hell. This is a great movie? This won oscars? It’s sooooo slooooooow. Dennis Hoffman, I now realize, is who Michael Cera has been basing his career on. He does awkward for 2 hours. It’s kind of amusing, his first attempts at sex are pretty funny. But the rest is just snoozefest. The whole rest of it is just not that interesting. I get it’s iconic, the whole under the leg shot. In fact there’s a fair amount of interesting cinematography. POV, reflections off mirrors, other stuff. But not enough to make it a good story. And then there’s the famous wedding thing at the end, which sparked an archetype that lasts till today. But that still doesn’t make it a good movie.

The Man Who Cried – Ok, so Christina Ricci is a russian jew, forced out to Europe, trying to make it. Then something with an opera singer, she bangs Johnny Depp the Gypsy for a little while, things go belly up, and she heads off to America. There’s nothing actively wrong with the movie, just boring. Neither an interesting look into immigrant life, nor a compelling story.

Mystery Team – Yikes, this is pretty bad. I like Donald Glover in Community and all, but whooboy. I mean, I see where they are coming from. There are some very funny moments. And where the rest of the moments (read: 95% of them) fall painfully flat, I get what they were thinking. They had ideas that were funny, things that should have worked. But the execution was really bad. The artifice of their ridiculously naïve characters wears thin literally in 10 minutes. I mean it, we watched the first 10 minutes of this probably 6 months ago, and I only just now forced myself to finish it. It was better than those 10 let on, but still pretty bad. I feel bad, because I see what they meant, and why that should have made me laugh. It was just too forced and felt pretty lame, sorry.

Insidious – I thought I heard this was amazingly scary. It’s waaaay not. It’s basically just Paranormal Activity (non of the found footage bs though) plus poltergeist. Really, more of the latter than anything. It’s not offensively bad or anything, but it brings absolutely nothing new to the table.

Trust – Wow this is a rough one. It’s about a young girl who gets tricked by an old guy online into meeting him, gets raped, and then the family tries to deal with that. It’s pretty brutally forthright with the subject matter. Uncomfortably so. I mean, if you make a movie about a creepy evil bastard who tricks/forces a little girl into sex, there are some things that have to come up. Showing the girl in this bathing suit he buys her, showing flashes of him kissing her and implications of worse. It’s really icky stuff. I don’t know how the actors did it, honestly. But then all the after stuff, is pretty honest too. A helpless dad, a family that doesn’t know what to do, and a a very very very confused girl. The girl does a pretty good job of expressing what can’t really be expressed. She defends him, she hates him, she loves me, she hates herself, it’s awful. And in the end the movie makes a really surprising choice to stick to their guns and face up to the fact that things don’t always work out. That you have to move on even though the fair thing doesn’t happen. I’d almost call it brave for a movie to make such a clearly unpopular choice. You could also call it exploitative, but let’s be generous I guess. It’s a pretty tough one, I certainly never need to see it again, but it was well done.

Paranormal Activity 2 – Didn’t like the last one, which everyone universally agrees was better than this one. So, I don’t like this one. Shocker. See my comments for any found footage horror movie ever. Copy paste.

Agora – Kind of an interesting movie, set in late 300s AD in Egypt. It shows the Christians coming to power, kicking out all the rest, and generally being fuckers. The main character is a philosopher woman (who was apparently a real person) who is eventually vilified because the bible says women are for baby making only. It’s an upsetting movie, because it’s based in reality. Christians really were fuckers (just like people in power before them). The destruction of the library is maddening (though it may not be true). It’s a pretty well done movie, though it may play with truth too loosely. The woman basically pre-discovers Galileo’s research 1300 years early. That at first annoyed me, but I suppose it’s not crazy. Some other greek philosopher pre-discovered Copernicus’ heliocentric theory 1300 years early, no one listened to him. And in the intervening years, I’m sure *someone* thought of elliptical orbits, it just didn’t “catch on” or whatever. So maybe it’s not crazy town. Anyway, decent movie!

The Warrior’s Way – Ehhhhhh. This seems like a good idea. Ninjas in the old west, awesome, right? Ehhhhhh. Not well acted, certainly. Not well scripted. Production values are ok, feel a little limited. The action is decent, it’s all slow-mo 300 style fighting, which is pretty cool. Watching the main dude take out ninja after ninja is kind of awesome. A 20 minute collection of the fights in this movie would be pretty bad ass. The movie, not so much.

TiMER – Okay, not really. It’s the future, everyone can go to the doctor and get an implant that tells them how long until they meet their soulmate. But only if the soulmate also has the implant, it stays blank until then otherwise. It’s an ok idea, I guess, pretty dorky. Besides the concept, the movie just isn’t done all that well.

Objectified – This is a documentary about industrial design. It’s a little bit in love with Apple. Granted, they are known for their industrial design. Then again, because they are known for it, people assume they are the end all, which is kind of self sustaining. It’s a kind of interesting movie, just about how people think about design. It’s a bit up it’s own butt, but it is a kind of interesting insight into the minds of designers. Worth the time if you are bored and the only movies netflix has added this week are police academy 28 and the 6th season of that show with that guy from the movie in the 80s.

Red State – This movie is basically about christian wackos. It’s sort of Kevin Smith’s version of the Waco standoff. The wackos kidnap sinners and kill them, eventually the authorities come in to stop them. That’s really all there is. People do a good job and all, but if it wasn’t Kevin Smith, I don’t think it would be a very noticeable movie. It’s got kind of an freaking awesome end to the siege, though, I’ll give it that.

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