Sep 3, 2012

Movie Reviews @ The Temple

Dark Knight Rises – This movie is pretty great. It’s not the Dark Knight. I need to go back and watch that, but if my memory is to be trusted (which is mostly dangerous), it was good because it had a solid story, solid action, and a singular performance. This movie does not have that performance. The story is still good, as ridiculously full of holes as it is, it serves its purpose.  The action is very good, no worse than the 2nd movie, and certainly better than the first. But Bane could never be as interesting as the Joker, never in a babillion years. But if this was just a cool action movie, it’d be a cool action movie. Yes Bane’s voice is ridiculous, yes I truly did not understand at least 4 full sentences that he said. On the flip side, Anne Hatheway did not completely suck. I wouldn’t say she didn’t anything particularly well, but she also didn’t screw it up. All the old standards are good enough, and Joseph Gordon Levitt does his job well. Very fun movie.

Step Up: Revolution – Don’t you judge me! I like dance movies, okay? The plot is exactly the plot of every movie. No one is paying attention to the acting, no one is paying attention to the story. It’s just cool dancing, and the dancing is cool.

Warrior – Holy crap, this movie is really good. It has the advantage of being a fighter movie, of course, and all those movies are formulaically built to be emotional and powerful. Just two dudes fighting to swelling music can’t help but get you. But even besides that, besides being more than a little forced plot-wise, it’s very good. Nick Nolte is freaking awesome. I know the criticism is that he’s not really acting when he’s playing a deranged drunk. But acting or not, I’m not sure how many people can have a scene like he did, raving about Ahab, it was amazing. Tom Hardy is also extremely good. I’ve seen him 3 times in the past week – as Bane, as a spy, and as this guy. This was by far the scariest. Bane just wasn’t that scary, everything hidden behind the mask, that goofy voice, and a slightly random, more cartooney version of evil. But this fighter he plays, wow, he is frightening. I can see that guy in real life, I can see him having appeared in my own family if things hadn’t gone a different way. To see him coming out of his corner of the ring (octagon, I guess) with that rabid dog craziness in his eyes was pretty wow. The main guy I guess is the least stand-out of those 3, but he still does a very good job. The ending, as pushed and perhaps inevitable as it was, is good and emotional. I’m really surprised, but I think this movie is fantastic.

The Raid: Redemption – Holy shit, this is cool. This movie starts pretty slow. It’s an Indonesian (I think?) action movie, a bunch of cops are raiding an apt complex run by some bad guys. The opening 20 minutes or so is pretty boring standard SWAT team stuff. But when they let the main actor go, holy crap does he go. This is kind of like the first time I saw Ong Bak – a kind of fighting I’ve just never seen before. There’s plenty of guns in this movie, and they have their place, but the real star is the knife combat. All the hand to hand shit is really cool, but the way this guy dismantles dudes with a knife is effing amazing. I mean, it’s all pretty stylized, they aren’t going for realism. But the motions are real, and the guy’s speed is real. It’s all pretty bad ass. This is one of those movies that will influence action movies for a while after it. Either that, or this is the result of the influence of some other awesome movie that we never heard about over here!

Tinker, Tailer, Soldier, Spy – This one didn’t end up doing it for me. I love the structure, in theory. It jumps around in time a LOT, so much so I wasn’t always sure when I was. It gives you the background piece by piece while also advancing the present. It takes quite a while before you can figure out what the hell is going on, really. That sounds awesome, and for the first 1/3 or 1/2 of the movie I still thought it was going to be. But it just didn’t come together for me. The intrigue was not intriguing enough. The payoff wasn’t some amazing kaiser soze moment. Perhaps they dragged it out TOO slowly and eventually it just dribbled to the full background and you realized you knew everything, without any big revelation. Again, that seems like it could be cool, but it just didn’t end up that way for some reason. Not a badly made movie, just didn’t accomplish what I feel like it was trying to accomplish.

The Adventures of Tintin – This movie was pretty fun. The animated people movies have certainly gotten a lot better lately. There are certainly cartoony aspects of the animation, but the people and faces are quite convincing. Even the body motions, things like action (punches and running) must be mo’cap’d, they look good. Hair is lacking, everyone has statue hair. Even the dog, they might as well have chosen a Sphynx, they went with as little hair as possible. We went and watched the Final Fantasy movie a couple nights later to compare. It’s pretty impressive how well Square did 10 years ago. Their facial animation isn’t as good as the new stuff. With the exception of eyes (which they went to great effort to get right), the faces are kind of bland. They avoid uncanny valley (as does tintin), but it’s not as realistic. On the flip side, the hair in FF is much better than this brand new movie, which is impressive. But back to TinTin, it’s all pretty good. The story is fun too. It’s kind of a treasure hunter feel, though it’s not exactly that. I don’t know that I’ll remember the story in a couple months, it wasn’t special, but it was entertaining.

Midnight in Paris – This is my first Woody Allen movie. I have a very hard time separating the movie from the real life. I’m left with a weird feeling about how he sets women up in his story. If every main character in every one of his movies is really supposed to be him, it all tends to feel like puerile fantasy. That being said, the movie is a pretty cool concept. The idea is a magical cab shows up at midnight and takes this aspiring writer guy back in time to the 20s or something. It’s a kind of neat concept. Everyone acts well, the movie is filmed well. I can’t completely deny Woody Allen’s ability as a filmmaker. But the wish fulfillment aspect leaves me a bit creeped out.

Cyrus – This movie isn’t exactly what I thought it would be. The trailers seemed like completely wackiness, and there is some of that. But the whole relationship stuff between the three people is treated pretty seriously. I’d say it doesn’t really succeed at that though. It’s not funny enough to be that, it’s not good enough to be the other. So, kind of not much at the end. Okay and everything, just not much.

The Thing – This is the remake, or prequel I guess. It’s alright. The good parts are some good creature effects, and that a woman took charge of all these dudes, that was kind of cool. The bad part is there’s just not enough there. The technology is not significantly different from the original not to just want to go watch the original.

Tower Heist – This is actually funnier than you’d imagine. The setup is only minorly stupid. The wrap up eventually because overly stupid and it kind of goes off the rails. Ben Stiller plays Ben Stiller, Eddie Murphy plays the increasingly charicature-ey version of Eddie Murphy he seems to have fallen into. But despite that, the humor is there. It was definitely funny.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo – Okay, so, this movie is a murder mystery. I did not know that. I guess I thought it was scifi? Or fantasy? Just because it says dragon in the title? Not sure. But anyway, it’s a murder mystery. So, heads up. It’s also very brutal, particularly in a sexual manner. It’s somewhat hard to watch in parts. It’s not visually disturbing, they don’t show a lot, but you can see enough. It’s a pretty good movie though, a pretty good story. Murder mysteries are kind of all over the place, so to stand out you have to be somehow interesting. I’m not exactly sure what was different about this one, maybe just the weirdo character of Lisbeth, but it was good enough.

Immortals – I have to rewatch this one. I put it on in the background assuming it would be horrible, but it wasn’t really! Not that it was artwork. But it was kind of a less-than sequal to 300. Not as good, but still not bad. The visuals are interesting, the representation of the Greek gods, though sometimes not appealing to me, are at least unique and shows some real artistic individuality. The action is pretty good, especially involving the gods.

Croupier – Huh, weird movie with Clive Owen, kind of film noir-ish in that he narrates it. He’s a Croupier, which apparently a dude who runs games at a casino. He means to be a writer, but lacks inspiration. He gets involved in some weird things at the casino, which provides the inspiration. It’s not a particularly good movie, in the end, it’s kind of awkward.

Submarine – I had heard this was a wonderful coming of age movie. I disagree. It’s about this outsider british kid. His weirdness is supposed to be endearing, but I found it completely obnoxious. He does stupid things, treats people stupidly, and is generally a little dick. I know, he's a kid, and kids are kind of stupid, so fine. But I was certainly not endeared. And without that, the movie becomes kind of pointless. Sorry.

Toast – Oh look, another story about an awkward british kid. This one is less annoying. I guess it’s a real story about a food critic. He’s got kind of a weird upbringing that is moderately interesting. It’s still british and awkward, but there’s something to it. It’s not wonderful, but it’s ok.

Ondine – Colin Farrell pulls a lady out of the ocean, hijinx ensue. Sounds kind of lame, but it’s actually pretty good. It’s kind of weird to describe without telling what happens. But he is an interesting character, she is sufficiently enigmatic without being obnoxious. His daughter is kind of annoying, pretentious kids always are, but it’s manageable. Pretty good.

The People vs. George Lucas – This is kind of weird. It’s just about people’s dislike for the new trilogy and effing with the old trilogy. It’s kind of review for most people plugged into this kind of stuff. Some people in the movie are smart enough to recognize that it’s not life and death. The people who care just a bit too much have a presence too, though. It’s an okay movie, it’s still kind of interesting even though I know a lot of this stuff.

Heaven – Uh, that was weird. A woman is on a crusade to solve her husband’s death. She gets helped by some guy who falls in love with her for no apparent reason. It’s really a weird movie and I don’t think I enjoyed anything about it. It’s not bad as in it’s somehow made horribly, but it’s certainly not good.

The Conspirator – This one is pretty good, it’s about a lawyer defending the mother of one of the people who conspired to kill Lincoln. He can’t be found, so she’s taking the fall for him. It’s not been so long since I read that Lincoln biography, so I can remember some of the context. It’s a pretty well done movie and the story is very interesting, and tragic.

Silenced – Yikes, this movie was hard to watch. It’s a true story about a guy who starts teaching at a school for deaf children and finds rampant sexual and physical abuse. The movie is oppressively sad. Such abuse is sad as it is, but then on top of kids who can’t even tell you what’s been done to them, and who are generally treated as mentally handicapped, it’s pretty hard. And not to give anything away, but it’s not exactly david defeating goliath up in here. The justice system (in this case in Korea) is shockingly fucked up. The movie is well done, and I certainly hope that it gets the story out there, since the legal system didn’t manage to punish effectively. On the flip side, I don’t understand how making the abuse scenes was legal. Maybe it’s a movie, maybe it’s with a bunch of cameras and lights and crew. But that is still a grown man running his hands up and down a naked boy. It was very unnerving. I hope it was a CG boy or a dummy or something, otherwise I don’t understand how that’s ok.

From Dusk Til Dawn 3 – Um, that’s not good. For fuck’s sake, it took them half the movie to get to the god damn bar. What part of FDTD made you think that the shit before the bar was the good part? And then inside the bar isn’t very good, so… that’s about it.

The Air I Breathe – This movie is pretty good. It’s trying to do the Crash thing where a bunch of stories intersect in ways that aren’t necessarily spelled out to start. Sounds like it could be a lame copy cat, but it’s pretty well done. The stories are compelling enough. Sarah Michelle Gellar’s story is kind of boring, not very interesting. But Forest Whitaker and Kevin Bacon are really good and believable. Pretty good.

The Experiment – So, you know that study that some professor did, where he makes a bunch of students be guards and prisoners. And he watches as they all supposedly embody those roles and basically become despicable human beings? This is like that, except in the Saw sense, where this would never actually happen. The story goes exactly as you’d expect. To be fair, Forest Whitaker and Adrian Brody both do excellent jobs at being complete fuckin’ wackos. Nonetheless, the story is manipulative and movies like that piss me off.

30 Minutes or less – Meh, this is what the preview told you it would be. A few funny moments, not a complete waste of time. But nothing more than what you’d think. Plus I hate Danny McBride and Aziz Ansari, or at least the characters they always play. Not good.

Hugo – Sure, I like this movie well enough. The 3D thing bugged the hell out of me. We didn’t watch it in 3D, but it was so painfully obvious it was made for 3D. So many god damn shots zooming down hallways or in crowds or random pieces of furniture flying at your face for no apparent reason. I can tell, without seeing it in 3D, that it was shitty 3D. It was 3D just to be 3D. It was not immersive, it did not lull you into the world, it did not make you feel surrounded by the story. It was just balls in your face. That being said, I like the story. It’s a tiny bit naïve, but the idea of finding your purpose is nice. And the metaphor of the movie feels good.

J Edgar – Pretty good movie, this one. It’s a biopic, there’s not a lot to say about it. Leo does a good job. I’m not sure about his accent, sounds kind of dumb, but I don’t know what Hoover talked like, maybe that’s spot on. This movie is not exactly about what I thought it was about. It is about the history, which is interesting since I’m dumb and I don’t know it. It is about his life and background and how he became how he was, which is all good. It’s also about another aspect of his life, and I don’t mean the cross dressing, that I was surprised by. I guess I can’t say, it doesn’t exactly ruin the movie, it’s clear that it’s happening. But it was not clear to me that that was going to be the point, which I found to be pretty amazing. Pretty good.

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