Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Early Thoughts: The Green Hornet

The Green Hornet ArtIn a new twist on my reviews, I finally saw a movie not only before it hit DVD, but before it even hit theatres everywhere! Last week, after bitterly missing the opportunity to see an advanced screening of "True Grit," I got a second chance at a preview screening when I got an e-mail invite for tickets to see "The Green Hornet" more than 3 weeks before it releases. I was definitely excited since it was a movie I was interested in (although, I'll be honest, I wanted to see "True Grit" more). So, after anxiously waiting, returning cell phones to the car and being wanded (they really don't want you to pirate the movie) I finally got to see the movie. Since the movie is still a ways away and there aren't really any other reviews of the movie floating around out there, I'm going to hold off on a full review (don't worry, I already wrote it up so I wouldn't forget) until probably the first of the year. I think it'd be a fitting way to ring in a new year of writing reviews. With all that being said, I will leave you with a few tidbits of what I thought of the movie. A tease, if you will:

- After what seemed like a pretty dry year for comedy (and still will be since this technically releases next year), this is definitely the movie that I laughed the hardest during.
- Christoph Waltz (Hans Landa in Inglourious Basterds) plays the villain quite well.
- James Franco has a brief, uncredited role.
- The film has, at times, a campy feel to it (as a throwback to its radio roots). It doesn't make the movie campy itself, though.
- I watched the movie in 2D and it will apparently also be released in 3D. You can tell which camera shots, etc. were designed for the 3D, but it isn't too distracting (as it mostly fits in with the aesthetic of the movie)

"The Green Hornet" will be released January 14, 2011 and is rated PG-13 for sequences of violent action, language, sensuality and drug content.

Transformers: A Creation Cop Out

With Christmas coming up, I haven't had a chance to watch as many movies. Here are the few that I have gotten to, although 'Transformers' is from a while back (one I forgot to review):

Cop OutCop Out - (2 Stars)
There are plenty of buddy cop action comedies out there, including one of my favorite movies, so Cop Out already starts itself from a bad position. Add in the fact that this is the first time Kevin Smith is directing something he didn't write, and things are not looking any better. Had Smith written and directed this, it might have fared better as I've enjoyed some of Smith's previous movies, but not all of them by any means. This movie is going to be added to the "not so much enjoyed" list.

The movie starts funny enough with a good mix of visual and verbal humor from leads Bruce Willis and Tracy Morgan but then nothing really happens. The story, which is never top focus in this type of movie, is pretty weak and the laughs drop off dramatically once the main arc of the story picks up. I ended up finding myself bored more than laughing. There wasn't even that much action to pick up the lack of comedy.
(107 minutes - Rated R for pervasive language including sexual references, violence and brief sexuality - 2010) (Netflix)

CreationCreation - (2 1/2 Stars)
Paul Bettany does a wonderful job with his very emotional, human portrayal of Darwin. Most times when people think of Darwin, they focus on his theory and not on what lead Darwin to his theories. Creation instead makes an interesting focus on Darwin's religious beliefs and the conflict he felt with his newfound discovery. But, it's not without its faults. Creation is another movie that builds well, but falters near the end. Creation, like many movies that dwell in the realm of emotions, built up but never hit that perfect end note.
(108 minutes - Rated PG-13 for some intense thematic material - 2009) (Netflix)

Transformers: Revenge of the FallenTransformers: Revenge of the Fallen - (2 Stars)
After the very successful first 'Transformers' movie, it would have seemed that Michael Bay could only improve on the flawed but fun movie. Instead, like many people predicted, Bay created a mess of a sequel. There is simply too much going on for a movie that should know that it's more about giant fighting robots than complicated exposition. It's too long, too tedious and too ridiculous, and that's hard to do when you are already expecting to see giant, transforming robots.

The first entry into the Transformers series wasn't great by any means, but it was at least more than an excuse for Michael Bay to blow stuff up and overcomplicated mythology. Okay, it probably was just an excuse for Michael Bay to blow stuff up, but at least (unfortunately) it made me interested in seeing the second one. Now the only reason I want to see the third one is to see whether or not the train completely derails or gets back on track. Just don't expect me to head to the theatre to do so.
(150 minutes - Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi action violence, language, some crude and sexual material, and brief drug material - 2009) (Netflix)

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas Movies

I always find that certain movies are best watched at specific times of the year. Obviously, in this case, I'm referring to Christmas movies (much like I did previously with Halloween). Everyone has their own favorite Christmas movies they have to watch each year, and I am no different. I'm not even sure my list is that different than other people. I did notice, while looking at my list, that I picked movies from different decades. So, I decided to work back chronologically with my 5 favorite Christmas movies instead of any sort of preferential order:

Friday, December 3, 2010

After the Movie #1 - The Ghost Writer, Repo Men

Here is the first of my new "After the Movie" posts where I will expand further on my reviews. This is going to have spoilers in it, so don't read unless you have seen the movie. To make it easier, I'll use the page break to keep everything after the jump. I can't decide whether to do one post for each movie, or lump them together and use the "Spoiler Tag" method (highlight the text to read). Please let me know what you think in the comments section (Thank you!).

Thursday, December 2, 2010

The Christmas Repo Writer

Today I have two new reviews and one old one that I missed. These movies still fall a bit on the underwhelming side, but each has their own interesting aspect that bumped their reviews up a bit. I also have some tidbits for these movies that will work well in my first "After the Movie" post. I'm a bit miffed that I missed out on an easy chance at winning tickets again today (I thought they were just more tickets to see Due Date, and I'm good in that respect, but they were actually for any movie so I never called). So, no Harry Potter review upcoming just yet. Anyway, here are the reviews in order of my viewing:

Repo Men – (2 ½ Stars)
I'm a sucker for a well done, clever Science Fiction story. So, going into the movie, I thought there could be some potential for a surprise. To me that's one of the best movie going experiences, when a movie completely delivers something you don't expect. And while "Repo Men" has an interesting enough concept, it doesn't completely deliver in the end.
Repo Men
Jude Law and Forrest Whitaker play the title characters who, in the semi-near future, are tasked with tracking down and repossessing artificial organs that the owners have fallen behind in payments on. The idea is both well executed and sloppy at the same time. Some plot holes exist because of this (or I guess, more along the lines of logic or character motivation holes). 

The movie still moves at a pretty quick pace and provides some decent action. I actually gave the movie a higher rating because of the ending (which I will discuss more in my AtM post). While it may lack in some areas, "Repo Men" at least offers some action and some interesting ethical dilemmas. For example, to think of predatory lending extending to something that is actually in your body is a scary idea indeed.  
(119 minutes - Rated R for for strong bloody violence, grisly images, language and some sexuality/nudity - 2010(Netflix)

A Christmas Carol – (2 ½ Stars)
A Christmas CarolI will be very happy when this 3-D fad finally comes to an end and movies will be made for the sake of the story, and not to serve a gimmicky technology. Disney's latest version of Charles Dickens' classic is a perfect example. What starts off as a seemingly faithful adaptation quickly falls prey to ridiculous flying scenes and various objects coming at the camera just for the sake of a 3-D audience. I did not watch the movie in 3-D, so it just came across as awkward and, well, unnecessary.

Since Dickens' "A Christmas Carol" is such a well known and beloved story, there's not much to say that people don't already know when it comes to the story. At times, this version follows the story closer than other adaptations. But, just when you think it might be on the right track, another gimmicky chase/action scene is thrown in. Jim Carrey does a pretty good job at channeling his inner miser (and the various spirits), but even that isn't enough to save this rendition. However, it still had some enjoyable moments. But this is mostly due to its source material. 

Note: Since it does try to keep closer to the story, there are some frightful moments. This is not recommended for younger kids. If you have younger kids, watch the much better Muppet Christmas Carol. If you don't have younger kids, watch Scrooge, or you might as well still watch the Muppet version anyway, too.
(98 minutes - Rated PG for scary sequences and images - 2009) (Netflix)

The Ghost Writer – (3 Stars)*
There was a lot of press build-up for Roman Polanski's latest film due to his possible extradition to the US and being placed under house arrest, and so on and so forth. To be honest, all of the press probably helped this movie get noticed, but it doesn't really help the movie as a whole. Especially when there are definite parallels to Polanski within the characters in the film.

The Ghost WriterEwan McGregor is the ghost hired to help pen the memoirs of a former British Prime Minister (Pierce Brosnan) when the previous ghost writer is mysteriously found dead. The movie takes this premise and builds a suspenseful, complicated web of politics and deceit. The scenery in the movie is fantastically dreary and only adds to suspense. Perhaps the strongest aspect of the movie is Polanski's directing. However, the story is where things begin to unravel.

"The Ghost Writer" builds everything up incredibly well, but it all falls apart and becomes rather simplistic by the end. The movie, based on a book by Robert Harris (a former BBC reporter), also doesn't really try to hide its political opinions and message. So, instead of a good suspense movie to take you out of reality, you have a suspenseful movie that tries a little to hard to force an idea on you. Overall, there are many elements to this movie that are extremely well done, in the end it just fizzles.
(128 minutes - Rated PG-13 for language, brief nudity/sexuality, some violence and a drug reference - 2010) (Netflix)