Tuesday, September 8, 2009

District 9

District 9

I heard great things about this movie before I went to see it. Naturally I had pretty high hopes, and most of them were met. It was a great movie, but not quite the new sci-fi classic I was expecting. The movie centers around a group of aliens that have seemingly come here by mistake. The ship they arrived in was not functioning, they were malnourished, and stranded. They are placed in a slum style camp called District 9, where they are being held while the world governments try and decide what to do with them, and by a corporation that is seeking only to try and figure out how their weapons work.

A bit more of a thinking type sci-fi movie than what has come out recently, it stands as a bit of an allegory to racism, and reminiscent of the holocaust and the concentration camps of World War II. My problem with that was the fact that they did not use it in any other way to motivate one to think, and just used it to try and provoke a further emotional response. Other than that, it’s pretty damn good. I was entertained the whole time. Just don’t bother wondering why out of the 1.8 million aliens there, only 2 were trying to fix the ship…

All in all: Extra Terrestrials with a Twist

Lives up to the pre-views? Better.

Stars (out of five): 4


G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra

I was never a fan of the toys and cartoon as a kid. But, as a kid, I was familiar with the G.I. Joe basic story line and other goings on and what-nots. I think the caliber of the cartoon might have actually been better that this movie. the movie starts out in 1600’s France , where the villains ancestor is on trial for arms dealing. Then it cuts to the not too distant future, where the villain McCullen (Eccleston) is talking about these little nano-bot things, that seem to be ripped off directly from the remake of The Day The Earth Stood Still. They consume and destroy matter, and have a potential to be a kind of super weapon. Not only that, they become a type of a cause-all end-all plot device that tries to explain all plot holes and other idiocy that is sure to ensue. When they are stolen by a mysterious and highly trained group of mercinaries, the main protagonist Duke (Tatum) joins the elite fighting force, G.I. Joe, and then the hilarity and action ensues to the predictable and rushed ending.

From the pre-view, it looks a lot like a live action version of Team America : World Police that is trying to take itself seriously. Unfortunately for this movie, that is pretty much exactly how it plays out. Only less funny; and it’s not intentional, and quite over loaded with tacky and lengthy back stories. The only redeeming factor in this movie is the action sequences. I will have to admit, they are fun. Just go for the explosions and army style gun fights. Everything else is kinda mind numbing.

All in all: An Army of what?

Lives up to the pre-views? Does it matter? Both terrible.

Stars (out of five): 2


Monday, July 6, 2009

Public Enemies

I knew a little about Dillinger when I went into this movie, and I was surprised at how accurate it was to his life. Don’t think that it is a true biopic though; they did fudge quite a few things, but nothing too important. All of the cool events of Dillinger’s life are there, and done and stylized to the max that one could expect. Depp did an excellent job with the character, brining his own interpretation—and it’s one that’s always fun to watch. Bale on the other hand, did not have much to work with, but did not even do a good job with it. He spent most of the movie forcing a Southern accent that never came across natural. I think everyone left the theatre knowing he was capable of more.

Most of the reviews for this movie bash it for not having a point. Moreover, it does not paint a picture of who Dillinger was: either a folk hero type of Robin Hood, or a vicious robber and killer. I don’t think that was what Mann was trying to do with this movie, but it is going to take some explaining.

Being that it takes place during the Great Depression, there was an attitude that was very against the banks and financial institutions, and that is what I think made Dillinger into somewhat of a folk hero, but he also kills quite a few people, and some innocent. The FBI is guilty of their own wrongdoings, and not the great law enforcing center of justice. They are sometimes also painted as merely protecting the banks money. However, Mann does not set up a clear line of right and wrong, so what we have is a smart tale of two clashing historic figures; Purvis and Dillinger, in a land where morals and ethics are quite flexible, and both sides pushing conflicting ideals. There are only a few drawbacks, and the big one is that the movie is somewhat anti-climactic. But I think Mann’s hands were a bit tied by historical fact, and he did the best with it.

All in all: Hold ‘Em Up & Hunt ‘Em Down

Lives up to the pre-views? Better

Stars (out of five): 4


Sunday, June 28, 2009

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen

I will admit that I liked the first movie. It was not a great film by any means, but as a huge fan of the toys and cartoon as a kid, I thought it was fun. As a matter of fact, from opening to closing credits, I was 5 years old again. The sequel brought much of that back, though this one seemed a bit more “silly” than the first. In fact, I think I will just make a list of problems with the movie, to save typing:

There were many side characters brought in for nothing more than comic relief, and failed to serve their purpose.

There were many scenes (especially when he arrives at college) that could have been comfortably left on the cutting room floor, and made this movie far less bloated.

Filled with seemingly much tackier dialogue than the first, making it quite laughable.

There was also a feeling that it has been geared towards a much younger audience, and as a result had a Phantom Menace stink through much of the film. There were plenty of crude jokes, seemingly making it kind of inappropriate for the age level they are targeting.

There was a very weird plot line with older robot aliens that have come to earth before that was not covered well, even in the two and a half hour run time.

One of the older robots has a beard. Yes, a metal beard. I did not know robots had to shave.

So why go see it then?

For the same reason I liked the first one: nostalgia, fun and action. Shia LaBeouf did his usual ok acting job, and Megan Fox is always fun to watch. Not just because she is pretty, and not because of her acting talent (she is not that bad really, but she needs some work before we see any Oscars) but just because she steals every scene she is in, and does a great job of what was written for her. And the robots and explosions; go see them beat up on each other and blow things up. Just don’t start watching it, and expect it to transform into a better show.

All in all: Brainless Bots & Blasts

Worthy Sequel? About the same as the first.

Lives up to the pre-views? Nah.

Stars (out of five): 2.5


Sunday, June 21, 2009

The Hangover

The premise to this movie does not make it look all that interesting. The movie centers around four life long friends, one of whom is getting married in two days, in Las Vegas for a bachelor party. When they wake the next morning, all sorts of destruction, messes and other signs of a wild night fill the suite they are staying in. not only that, but the groom is missing. Upon discovering that, they piece together the happenings of the night by various clues, and as the hijinks of the previous night unfold they are also forced to deal with the consequences of the wild party they have no recollection of.

There were numerous hilarious moments in this movie, as well as several scenarios that can not help but make you chuckle. The acting was surprisingly good for a comedy, and there was not one tired character in the whole show… Right down to the vengeful little fat kid with the taser. You just have to see it for yourself. There was also the character of the socially inept brother-in-law-to-be Alan (Zach Galifianakis) who stole every scene he was in.

The one inherent problem in this movie is that once you have seen it, there isn’t really a point in watching it again. The hilarity comes from watching the events unfold, and once they have, the situations are not that funny themselves. That makes for a movie that will be much less entertaining the second time around.

One more thing to be made aware of, should one be a little queasy: the character of Alan does not like to wear pants, and there is not a lot left to the imagination.

All in all: Headache Hilarity

Lives up to the pre-views? Better.

Stars (out of five): 3.5



Well folks, Pixar has done it again. I thought this one was on par with WALL*E, and maybe even more so with the charm. When you go see a Pixar movie, one expects lots of funny moments, and a lot of heart warming fun. This one brought the goods, again, and entertained from start to end.

The movie follows an snappy old man, who had dreamed of adventure his whole life, and has always let the daily grind get in the way. And one day, when what little he has left is on the brink of being taken by greedy developers, he decides to get out on the adventure of a lifetime, and to the place he has always dreamed of visiting… in his house that is lifted by balloons. Finally having set out on his adventure, things get a little complicated when he encounters a stow-away: a naive kid named Russell.

Filled with all the humor and wackiness one would expect from Pixar and a story premise like that, you are in for a great ride. However, I thought this one was a little more on the sentimental side than other movies they have made. Many people cried almost the whole way through the show. So, expect to laugh, and maybe bring some tissues.

All in all: Humor & Hijinks

Lives up to the pre-views? Yes.

Stars (out of five): 4.5


Sunday, June 7, 2009

Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian

I only went to see this movie because we had missed our show time for Up. I was not particularly excited about this movie, but wanted to see it anyways. I thought the first one was not bad, and quite entertaining at points. I don’t think I would be that sad if I never saw it again, but there are worse things to watch than the original Night at the Museum. One of those worse movies to watch is the sequel.

The movie catches up with the night guard from the first film (Stiller), who has now moved on to other things. Eventually, he gets pulled in to helping his magic friends out of a bind at the Smithsonian. Sounds like a great premise right? Has potential for more great laughs and adventure, right? Sure it does. But unfortunately it does not deliver them very well. Yes, there are a few laughs and some excitement, but the film wastes most of it’s time going from side show to side show, one special effect after another, and making every odd object they possibly can dance and/or sing (the cherubs from the fountain are quite painful to watch).

The story itself is actually pretty lame, and not very interesting. I’m not going to go into a lot of detail, because there really isn’t much. And another note of caution: don’t think too hard. It will just make it worse. One example of some questions to avoid pondering: “With that racket, explosions and smashing, why has not one alarm gone off? Where are all the other security guards?”

There are other equally mind numbing holes in this movie, especially with the villain, and the other ‘side-shows’ with plenty of modern day tacky catch phrases. So why see it? Well, it’s still fun. There are a couple of laughs, and the character of Amelia Earhart (Amy Adams) is quite charming, with lots of witty jokes at her expense. Ben Stiller does his usual lovable doofus who learns a valuable lesson, if you are a fan of that… but he’s still not at his best. However, it will entertain the kids.

All in all: Tour de Tasteless

Worthy sequel? No.

Lives up to the pre-views? Nah.

Stars (out of five): 2.5