Jan 29, 2012

Movie Reviews @ The Temple

Water for Elephants – I did not like this movie. From a “just a movie” point of view, I don’t think it’s that great. Of course, the dude from Twilight and the chick with the pointy chin put me in a bad frame of mind. That’s pretty unfair to him, I’ve never even seen Twilight. Even though the chick from it is in Snow White & The Huntsman, I’m super on board with that movie, so I can look past it. But he did prove me right. And so did pointy chin. The story could be kind of interesting, the framing is nice. But I can’t get over the circus thing. I don’t like circuses, for obvious reasons. And even though this movie is ostensibly against animal abuse, it’s totally okay with it as long as you aren’t actively beating the shit out of a creature. Moving around the country in a cage 2x the size of the animal itself, that’s totally okay. Just don’t hit it with a stick. I never saw Seabiscuit, for instance, because I think horse racing is fucked up, I don’t care how inspirational the story is. I think I feel the same way about this movie, I’d rather not have seen it.

50 / 50 – Well, that’s a pretty wonderful movie. It’s about a 27 year old guy who gets cancer, 50/50 chance of surviving. The movie is nothing you don’t expect it will be, which sounds like a fault. He has his problems with his family, and his girlfriend, and his friend, and all the normal parts of life. The romance in the movie is pretty predictable. But it is all the same a very funny and honest movie. There’s nothing to dislike about it, warms your little heart, and makes you laugh. One of the better movies to come out recently, for sure.

Win Win – This is a pretty good movie. It’s about a family, the husband (a lawyer) takes charge of an old man who has lost most of his senses, and then ends up in charge of this guy’s grandson as well. Lots of dramatic stuff happens, but I don’t mean in a melodramatic way. It revolves a bit around a high school wrestling team the guy coaches. You know, I say all that, and this movie sounds super boring. Just as boring as it sounds on the back of the box, which is why I wasn’t in a rush to see it. But I heard it was very good, and it was. Maybe not as good as I had heard, it’s not the best movie of 2011 or anything. Not better than 50/50. But it is very good. It is very honest and real. Nothing is overly dramatic, just slightly out of the ordinary (enough to make it interesting). And everyone does a good job, acting wise. Just a solid movie, all around.

Jane Eyre – Zzzzzzz. No seriously, I fell asleep watching this. And this is about all I need to know about it. Boring!

The Descent 2 – People seemed to like the first one, and I never understood why. It wasn’t the worst horror movie ever, but I’m not sure why it stood above the rest for so many people, it seemed pretty samey to me. This one is more of that. I do like the premise a bit. It’s at least every so slightly more creative than “woah, 4 more dumb teenagers randomly wander into the same cave! crazy!” Besides that? Kind of normal, tries to be pretty gory for the sake of it, not super impressive though.

Let Me In – I liked the original version. Not so much because it was geniusly executed (it was kind of a weird Swedish thing) but because the concept was so cool and unique. Sadly, this movie doesn’t have that benefit. It’s a remake, it’s fundamentally not unique. So it loses a lot due to that. The execution of the movie is decent, nothing bad, nothing amazing. The kids do a pretty good job. I’d be fine with only having ever seen this version, but since that’s not true, the Swedish one was good enough for me too.

Bronson – Yikes. So, I guess this guy is the most famous prisoner in England. He calls himself Charlie Bronson, and he’s a complete fucking wacko. The movie tells me he’s spent 34 years in prison, 30 of them in solitary. Largely due to the fact that if he spends more than 10 minutes in the presence of another breathing human being, he beats the living shit out of them until their breathing has ceased. Perhaps more shocking, though, is the depths to which the actor playing Bronson went to pull off this roll. The movie is basically told by him, much of it with just him talking at the camera – sometimes to an audience as if this is one man play. And this guy inhabits every bit of this insane man. It is somewhat frightening to watch, honestly, how deeply he carries this guy’s insanity. The movie itself besides that is just okay, but his performance is worth watching, even though I never want to watch it again. I’m slightly afraid of what the movie thinks of Bronson. He’s clearly nuts, but at the same time, given that he’s telling the story, he is kind of glorified. When he goes on a rampage, there’s this dramatic operatic music. It gives it almost a nobility? Kind of uncomfortable. But still should be seen.

UHF – So I had never seen this. You know, I think this kind of movie has to live in nostalgia. I’m sure it was hilarious when it came out. And I’m sure if I saw Top Secret for the first time in 2012, I’d probably think it was kind of dumb. So me seeing this for the first time now, it’s kind of lame. The skits (and it really is just a series of skits) aren’t all that hilarious. The commercial for the spatula story made me crack up for some reason. A couple weird al songs they shoehorned in were good. But besides that it was kind of meh. Sorry!

The Red Balloon – I guess this movie is very famous, I had never heard of it. But it’s only 30 min long and on Netflix, so there you go. It’s a little French movie about a boy who finds a red balloon, but the balloon is kind of alive. It moves around on its own, follows him, plays with people. It’s really kind of cute. If it was 10 minutes long and cuter, it would basically be a live action Pixar short. It really hard that feel. I’d rather it be that short, too, it does kind of drag in the middle. I guess it’s supposed to be deep, with the little boy trying to get away and the masses of humanity descending on him to take the balloon. That doesn’t really connect with me in any way. But maybe I’m just ignorant. It does have a pretty powerful penultimate moment, though. The balloon was given such personality, seeing it “act” out the end is surprisingly effective. Then the real end is kind of sickly sweet and not that touching. But still interesting enough for a 30 minute investment. Don’t go on the internet and find out that there’s supposed to be some bullshit christian allegory going on though, that’ll just ruin it for you.

Harsh Times – Um. So, Christian Bale is an ex-soldier fuck up screwing around with his fuck up friend. Kind of trying to get their lives in order, but not really, mostly fucking around and hoping they get lucky. It’s kind of hard to see the point of a movie like this, I don’t feel like I learn anything or care all that much for these assholes. It ends as it can only end. That’s about it. Note: I wrote those last two sentences when I was only 2/3 of the way through the movie. I knew it could end as it can only end, before I saw it end. That says enough, I think!

Cash Back – Meh. This movie is just a basic love story. The hook is the kid has some ability to freeze time. This is largely an excuse to go around to all the hot girls who just happen to be in his shitty supermarket at 2 in the morning, take all their clothes off, and draw pictures of them (I assume they cut out the creepy part where he touches them, because he definitely did that). That then tries to become some kind of metaphor for life, I guess. I don’t really know, but I do know that the movie is trying to be artsy. And a movie that thinks its artsy wouldn’t put a bunch of boobs in without inventing an artsy justification. The movie isn’t poorly done, it’s pretty british (main character has two emotions – talking in a monotone, and staring into the distance), but it’s ok.

Nerdcore Rising – This movie is about MC Frontalot. He’s sort of one of the big progenitors of “nerdcore” rap. I’m listening to a lot of the nerdy music these days. I’ve never been particularly into Frontalot, but I’ve not really listened to much to know if I like it. Adam WarRock is my favorite in the category, hoping to see him in Phx in a few weeks! Anyway, the movie. It’s… not great. It’s not bad, it’s just kind of an okay version of following this guy around with a camera. There’s not amazing insights into the genre or into Frontalot himself. It’s really just a tour diary, if anything. IT’s neat to see, I guess. But I feel like there’s more to do here. Maybe a movie about the rise of the genre in general would be a little more interesting than just a bunch of nerds talking about how cool Frontalot is. Or maybe we need more distance from the origins to find a story like this interesting. Not sure. But if you love Frontalot, I’m sure it’s an entertaining enough movie!

Jan 5, 2012

Jan 4, 2012

Movie Reviews @ The Temple

Sherlock Holmes 2 – This was really good! Now, the big caveat is that it’s not really a sherlock holmes story. It’s really just a cool action movie. To be clear, it is a REALLY COOL action movie. The slow mo fights are awesome as always (though I liked it better with the logical commentary, not just predicting what would happen in the future). The scene in the forest was jaw dropping. But, it is just an action movie. Gone are the twists, the intrigue, the mystery. It’s not very Holmes-ey. But, I’ve got the British TV show for that. For this movie, it was just cool.

Mission Impossible 4 – This was decent. Nothing special, I’d say. They didn’t do anything wrong. Lots of cool set pieces, cool action, cool stunts, cool gadgets, all that good MI stuff. Can’t complain. But. Kind of boring. I’m not super into the story, I’m not super invested in the people. And I’m not nearly as awesome-ized as I was with Sherlock. Oh well. That car was pretty bad ass.

Knight & Day – Wow was that bad. It’s trying painfully hard to be True Lies, but it fails really hard. You can’t force charm, even as hard as Tom Cruise tries. He seems to be phoning it in, just playing a pale imitation of ethan hunt. And Cameron Diaz, gads, she’s just awful. Always. In everything.

Going the Distance – This movie is surprisingly funny. You’d be excused in thinking it’s just some random romantic comedy. And to a large extent, it is. The plot is just normal old stuff, except this time for a long distance relationship. When they delve into that stuff it’s pretty boring, I could honestly do without all of that. But when they are being wacky it’s pretty funny. They give the two main people a banter (a combination of Sorkin and Diablo Cody, kind of?) that works most of the time. It comes out forced now and again when they are trying too hard to get the quirkiness in. But a lot of the time it works rather well. Christina Applegate is pretty funny as a hectic mom. Jason Sudakis and Charlie Day play douchey friends, who wouldn’t have a lot of character or anything interesting-ness, but those guys are funny guys, so you forgive the cliché characters and laugh at the silliness.  Overall, a good time.

Cave of Forgotten Dreams – Holy crap was this cool. How did I go 32 years without knowing about cave drawings? These aren’t just scribbles from some guys in 33 and a half BC. These are 30,000 years old. That is just astounding. There are these caves, in France, elsewhere in Europe, that for one reason or another got sealed off for a few ten thousand years. Then we find them, and there’s this amazing cave art inside. I mean, it’s not Monet, it’s just chalk drawings. But 1) I still couldn’t make drawings that good, and 2) did I mention 30,000 years old?? Just mind blowing. The film maker, Werner Herzog, is kind of annoying, and throws a complete batshit addendum on to the movie. But besides that, the movie is amazing.

Cowboys and Aliens – Ehhhhh. Seems bulletproof, right? Cowboys, great. Aliens, awesome. Energy weapons, cool. Why is this movie so lame then? It had no heart, and I don’t mean a sentimental heart, I didn’t feel any heart behind the action. It seemed so ho hum. No one stands out, the effects are fine, but nothing particular. I just don’t get it.

Rise of the Planet of the Apes – This movie is actually rather good. From a storytelling stand point, it’s entertaining, interesting, cool, all that good stuff. But on top of that it connects with the older movies in all manner of interesting ways. None of which were apparent to me, but fortunately I had someone in the room who knew these things and told us when they happened, which was great. There was also a little extra on the disc about really subtle things that they stuck in to reflect the original movie. It’s really pretty cool. My only complaint about the movie is I’m pretty sure it was filmed on a Canon Elph. There is something extremely non-hollywood about the cinematography. It felt like bad TV. Like british TV. Very constrained sets, like the people were filming it in their house. I eventually got over it, but it was kind of distracting for at least half the movie. I can’t totally explain why it looked like that, I don’t know anything about filming, but whether it was the cameras, the lights, the style, whatever, something seemed kind of low budget about it. The apes were a bit off too. Sometimes, when they really put effort in, they looked astounding. But you just can’t do that for 2 hours, so sometimes they looked kind of fake. Took me out of it a little. Nonetheless, my overall impression of the movie is very positive.

Kung Fu Panda 2 – This is pretty fun. It’s just another cartoon, so there’s not too many words I can use on it. But it is definitely fun, entertaining, cool little cartoon fights. Continues to be the only context in which I’ve ever enjoyed Jack Black.

Harry Potter 7: Part 2: 2nd act: 3rd section: Scene 1: version 8: Electric Boogaloo – Okay, I’m being a jerk, but the movie is actually pretty good. I mean, it’s not amazing, but compared to 2 hours of CAMPING that made up the last movie, this thing is a god damn work of art. No more bullshit teenage drama (except one extremely awkwardly placed kiss and one obnoxious coda). Fight fight fight, cast spells, do magic, transform, summon giants, good stuff. I have no affection left for this series, I have mostly disdain. What good will the listening to Jim Dale read the 7th book earned it, the 6th and 7th movies completely destroyed. But, this was at least fun to watch.

Super 8 – This one is good enough. I was hoping it’d be better, I guess. I do like the style, set back in the 80s. Done with little budding filmmakers. It’s a much more interesting context than a bunch of 20 somethings in new york, certainly. The creature is cool, the overall arc of the plot is good enough. The kids generally do a fine job, which is saying something. Overall I’m left a little underwhelmed, though. It’s not bad, not at all, just didn’t wow me. Just good enough.

Tucker and Dale vs. Evil – Maaaaaaan, this looked awesome! It’s such a genius concept, the hillbillies are the good guys, the city kids are judgemental assholes (and worse). Such an awesome idea! But every single funny moment (mostly deaths) was spoiled in the trailer. The rest is just loosely stitched together with not really enough story. There are times where I kind of laugh to myself and say that’s funny. But I’m not really laughing. I’m acknowledging that it SEEMS funny, that it OUGHT to be funny. But it just doesn’t work out. So sad. Probably my biggest disappointment in a long time.

No Strings Attached – Okay, I know this isn’t very good. But it does have Natalie Portman. But it does have Ashton Kutcher, so… yeah. But the real point is, I was having a shit night, and this movie was idiotic, but it made me laugh. Not good laughs, not smart laughs, not even laughs it would probably get on any other day. But on that day? Spot on. So I know it’s not good, it’s a 2 star movie, but it served it’s purpose. It gets a few points for that.

Battlestar Galactica RPG

Awesome. What can’t 16-bit RPG sheen make better?