Thursday, July 19, 2012

The End of the As

Three more movie reviews and we complete the first letter of the alphabet!  Thank you so much to those of you keeping up!  I especially love when I hear your thoughts on the movies or whether you have seen them or not!  Love it!

Movie Review #15: The Aristocats
I'll be honest, even though I own this movie and it is considered a Disney classic, I think this was the first time I had seen this movie.  Some parts seemed vaguely familiar, but I am not sure if it is because I have seen it MANY years ago or have just seen clips.  Overall, it was kind of cute.  Talking animals are usually pretty fun.   A couple things struck me though:

First, I expected this movie to be more about the cat, Marie.  Why?  Well, as most of you know, I collect Vinylmations and there has been an abundance of figures made of that particular character.  Not remembering anything about the movie, I expected going in that the movie would be about her based on how popular she seems to be.  This wasn't the case though and I would hardly even call her the main character, certainly not one worthy of having so many figures made of her.

Secondly, although the movie was decent, there is really only ONE thing I am taking from this movie.  Ladies and Gentleman, Disney's racist cat:

Siamese Cat? Of course it has to have some stereotypical Asian accent! I actually had to rewind it to make sure that I saw it right.  This could have been the best movie ever, and THIS is what would have stuck!  Racial issues aside, this was just a decent movie - Two out of Five Cheeseburgers

Movie Review #16 - Armageddon

Miss Stamper? Colonel Willie Sharp, United States Airforce, ma'am. Requesting permission to shake the hand of the daughter of the bravest man I've ever met.

It has been my experience that you either love this film or hate it.  I rarely see any in-betweens. I am in that category of people who love it.  Yeah, it is a little cheesy.  Yeah, it has your typical Michael Bay-isms.  But for pure entertainment value, there are very few movies that do more for me. First off, the cast and the fun characters they play are outstanding.  They're hilarious!  I mean, Bruce is always a cool guy, but from top to bottom, I love all these characters.  The story is about as believable as Unicorns on Mars, but if you put believability aside, you can really get into this movie.  And they don't take the easy way out by having everyone safe and make it until the end.  No, they actually kill off characters, people we actually like.

And I haven't even touched on the emotions that are evoked on some people when they watch this film.  I recently talked about this film on Facebook and I got a ton of responses from people about how much it makes them cry.  I don't think I have shed a tear, but I definitely get pretty emotional.  If the film didn't work, it wouldn't get this kind of emotion out of so many people.

I just can't express how much I like this movie.  Is it the type of film that is going to win a ton of awards come Oscar time?  Of course not!  But a movie doesn't need to be THAT type of film to be considered a classic.  Four and a half out of five cheeseburgers!

Movie Review #17 - Avatar

Up ahead was Pandora. You grew up hearing about it, but I never figured I'd be goin' there.

I really have a love/hate relationship with Avatar.  Well, let me rephrase that.  I don't hate this film.  I don't hate anything about it, actually.  What I hated was the amount of praise that followed this film after it came out.  Hell, it almost won friggin' Best Picture!  Is it in that category?  No!  It is still a good, enjoyable film?  Of course.

I was spoiled in that the first time I saw this film, it was on an Imax screen.  Visually, the movie is about as beautiful as you can get, despite most of it simply being special effects and not real scenery.  But you take that beauty and put it on a screen the size of Imax?  Well, it really feels like you are part of the movie. Take this movie home, and it does lose some of the appeal.  Sure, I have it on Blu Ray and I have the kick ass TV, but it still doesn't quite reach the level of what you see in the theaters and that takes away some of the appeal.

Storywise, it is pretty good despite its recycled plot that has been seen in so many movies from Dances with Wolves to Pocahontas.  But that is also one of the main reasons why I just can't put this film into the upper echelon of movies.  It's been done before.  And with something similar like Dances with Wolves, I felt a lot more emotion.  Not anytime in this film do I feel an ounce of compassion for any of the characters.  Not once do I have any emotions stirred up other than, "Wow, that looks cool!"  That is not necessarily a bad thing if I just want to be entertained, but the amount of praise that the film got, despite what I felt were these shortcomings, was sickening to me.  I mean, I guess people are free to like what they want, but it just boggled my mind.  THIS is the film that everyone had to go out and see over and over so that it became the highest grossing film of all time?  THIS movie?

But it's really not all that bad.  I like it. It entertained me. It is still beautiful to look at even if it has lost some of its luster.  Just don't call it one of the best films of all time.  Three and a half out of 5 cheeseburgers. 

Next up: The Back to the Future trilogy!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Angry Psychos

I have 7 movies to review so I might as well split this into 2 posts.  It is hard enough to make you read half that amount, let alone write it.  Better get started!

Movie Review #11 - American Pie 2
Wait a second, you're starting at American Pie 2?  What happened to American Pie 1?  Truth is, I don't own it.  I mean, it is a funny enough movie, but I thought the second one was the best of the original trilogy; certainly better than the unnecessary third film.  But the second film is the one I enjoyed the most and not surprisingly, is the one I own (although I wouldn't mind owning the first one).

Watching it now, it still holds up fairly well.  I believe this series was the comeback of the raunchy comedy wiht heart that is now the norm.  And this film did it pretty well.  Certain parts of this film had me downright hysterical the first time I saw this and while I don't laugh as much now after seeing it so many times and knowing what to expect, it is still quite humorous to me.  And what made this film successful in my opinion, and one of the reasons why I like it so much, is that the characters are so relateable.  Why all know people like the characters in the film or maybe have dealt with situations like we see in the film.  And when you can relate, it makes it that much better.  This isn't award-winning filmmaking by any means, but it is good for what it is. 3 out of 5 burgers!   

Movie Review #12 - American Psycho
Admittingly, I have never read the book this movie was based on despite having a strong desire to and really enjoying this film.  This is the film that introduced me to the adult Christian Bale ( I saw him as a child actor in the awesome Empire of the Sun) and I have been a huge fan ever since.  I don't want to give too much away about this film for those who haven't seen it and are curious.  Basically, as this movie was to come out, I heard so many things about it because the book it was based on was so controversial for its sexuality and violence.  It sounded like a perfect opportunity for a good movie and I wasn't disappointed.  In fact, I was blown away.

Clearly a commentary on society and the excessiveness of the 80s, this film was disturbing, hilarious, and thought-provoking all in one.  But what makes this film about a serial killer who is just trying to find his place in society is the amazing performance by Bale.  Without his excellent work, this film could have come off as very cheesy or very B-rate.  But the way he dove into this role and is completely believable as a psycho with a knack for musical knowledge is what makes this the classic that it is.

4 out of 5 cheeseburgers!

Movie Review #13 - Angels and Demons
Like a LOT of people, I got caught up in the Da Vinci Code craze and had to read the book.  I mean, everyone was talking about it so I had to read it too, right?  I loved it so much that right after I read it, I went ahead and started reading Angels and Demons which had actually come out before Da Vinci Code.  Amazingly, as much as I liked Da Vinci Code, I liked Angels and Demons even more, something I wasn't expecting.  Then the Da Vinci Code film came out, and although I liked it, I was a little underwhelmed mainly because of the things they changed when they brought the book to film.  Because of this, I wasn't super excited to see the Angels and Demons film and waited until after the theaters to see it.  Because I already owned Da Vinci on DVD, I decided to just go ahead and take my chances by buying Angels and Demons without even seeing it. And thankfully, I wasn't disappointed.

I think the book was followed more closely in this film, or at least as much as I can remember.  What really drew me to the book was the scavenger hunt-like quality of the story.  To find the end goal, the characters had to go from clue to clue across town and this was portrayed awesomely in the film with quick cuts, fast editing, and intense music.  I loved it.  Tom Hanks was good as always and the supporting cast did a really good job of keeping the film going.  Sure, half of what they say in this film might be made up, but for pure entertainment value, it is as good as any adventure film.  3.5 out of 5 burgers. 

Movie Review #14 - Anger Management
I have to say, I remember this movie being a lot funnier.  Adam Sandler hasn't made anything I have wanted to see in a while now, but for some time, I wanted to see everything he made.  When I first saw the preview, I was completely sold, Adam Sandler AND a crazy Jack Nicholson?  Yup, I'm there.  And when I saw it in the theaters, I think I thought it to be pretty funny.  Now?  Yeah, it isn't too bad.  But you know what, when I rewatched it for this project, I never did once laugh out loud.  And crazy Jack?  Well, with more knowledge behind me, it seems like Jack is almost the same in every role lately, this one included.  Hell, all that was missing from this movie in comparison to his turn as the Joker was the face paint and smile.  Sandler was just ok in this film too.  He didn't do anything remarkably funny as he was supposed to be the straight man, but he wasn't exactly super likeable either.  Something I didn't remember was that John Turturro was in it and that he was actually the funniest character in the film.  I love how crazy he is and he played crazy really well in this film.  I'm not saying this film is bad.  It isn't.  But as a combination buddy film/love film, you can definitely do a lot better.  2 out of 5 cheeseburgers

Next movie review: The Aristocats, Armageddon, and Avatar.

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

Aliens and Americans

Four movies to review today, but the first two really differ from the second two as far as cinematic integrity goes.  We have two really average movies followed by two movies that are outstanding works of art so it makes this review quite interesting.  Enjoy!

Movie Review #7 - Alien: Resurrection
The fourth and final movie in the Alien Quadrilogy is not great by any means, but it really isn't a bad movie either.  But after two outstanding movies and one pretty decent third film, the fourth film in the series is a giant letdown and probably shouldn't have been made.  I would say, "Why did this even get made," but we all know the answer is money.  I'm going to be talking about some spoilers from the third and fourth film so if you haven't seen these films and still plan to, you should probably skip to the last paragraph of this movie. 

For people who have seen the third film, we know that Ripley died at the end and yet, she is in the fourth.  How?  Well, Ripley in the fourth film is simply a clone.  And you know what, that sucks.  Ripley is probably my favorite female character in all of film and you can't just kill off a character, bring her back in another form, and expect me to like the character just as much.  And if that wasn't enough, the Ripley clone doesn't even act like the original Ripley.  If they had tried to make the character act exactly the same as the old one, perhaps I would have grown to like this character a little more, but being that she even has a completely different personality, I felt zero connection to her.  It might as well have been an entirely different actress.  So, the main reason for liking the first three films is not even a part of the fourth film despite the actress still being in the film. 

And secondly, the last 15 minutes of the film are just disastrous.  It gets REALLY weird, and downright silly with some convoluted plot about a half alien/half human spawn that thinks of the clone Ripley as some kind of mother figure, blah, blah, blah... it sucks.  When I rewatched this film the other day, I had actually forgotten that the film has some good parts because the ending is what stuck in my head above all else and it just ruined it for me.

But like I said, this film DOES have some redeeming qualities that do make it watchable and at least worth one viewing for fans of the first three films should they desire to give this a shot.  It has some great action scenes that are really well done.  It also has some really cool new characters led by Ron Perlman who is always a baddass.  Warrick from CSI (well, before he got kicked off for being a druggie), also has a pretty cool role.  So maybe give it a try.  It isn't SyFy channel bad, but it doesn't live up to its predecessors.  Two and half cheeseburgers out of five. 

Movie Review #8 - Alien v Predator
Two of my favorite movie monsters in one movie going against each other?  Yes, please.  Ever since the end of Predator 2 when when saw an Alien skeleton, people have asked for a movie combining these two characters, me included.  But it took years to get this off the ground and finally made.  So what is worth wait?  Um, pretty much. 

The film, truthfully, is pretty darn goofy and is just one step above a cheap SyFy movie.  I honestly believe my devotion to these two characters kind of clouds my judgement of this film because deep down, it is really nothing spectacular.  There is some really bad acting, corny lines, ridiculous storyline, and the fact that they made the absolutely horrendous decision to make this film PG-13 instead of R all contribute to it being nothing but silly.  But I got out of the movie what I truly wanted: I get to see Aliens and Predators kicking the crap out of each other.  And when they do that, it is really awesome.  I couldn't give two shits about any of the human characters in this film, but seeing this dream match up is exactly how I wanted it to appear on film.  But truthfully, if you aren't as devoted to the Alien and Predator characters as I am, it probably is best to stay away from this film.  Two out of five cheeseburgers

Oh, and I know that there is another Alien v. Predator film after this one, but I tried to watch it once and only lasted about 45 minutes before I had to turn it off.  So yeah, I don't own that one.

Movie Review #9 - American Beauty
American Beauty is easily one of my favorite films of all time.  I don't think it would crack the Top 10, something very hard to do, but I could see it being in my Top 20.  From the amazing script to the amazing acting, I never get tired of watching this film and feel it has a little something that anyone watching it could relate to.  It definitely deserved the Best Picture Academy Award it won. 

The thing that touches me about this film is that it could happen to anybody.  Hell, anyone you know could be going through the same kinds of things that are going on in this film and it really gives you a lot to think about.  And it really makes you step back and realize that you have to enjoy your life as much as you can.  You never know when things are going to take a turn for the worst so just enjoy what you can for as long as you are here.  Sure, there are many other themes throughout the film, but this is what I take most from it and the thing that affects me the most.  I honestly feel like this movie deserves more of a write up, but honestly, the film renders me speechless.  As it is, it took me a half hour just to write these two paragraphs.  In short, I think it's a perfect movie. 

Movie tidbit - all the overhead views of the neighborhood were filmed here in town!

Five out of five cheeseburgers

Movie Review #10 - American History X
While also a perfect film, in my opinion, I definitely have a lot more to say about this film than the last review.  I'd have a hard time coming up with another film that was more powerful than this.  In fact, one of my lasting memories of this film was when I saw it in the theater.  You know how after a movie, whether good or bad, you hear everyone talking about it on the way out to their cars?  Well, after this movie, it was DEAD silent.  I am sure everyone, including me, was just taking it all in and trying to comprehend the emotional wreck that concluded the film. 

I think the use of black of white for all the scenes in the past was an excellent decision.  It was not only aesthetically pleasing, but a good way to distinguish between the two different parts of Derek's life.  His white supremacist life was a part of his old life and putting it in black and white was a great choice.  And speaking of Derek, Norton is friggin' amazing in this film and truly deserved the Best Actor nomination he got.  He's a great actor, but I am not sure I have ever seen him better than he was in this film.  He is downright scary when he is in his old life and the compassion he shows in his new life it truly believable. 

The movie really makes you think about race and race relations in a way that very few films can.  I think the movies that touch on this subject do their best job when they are making you feel uncomfortable.  If it is making you feel uncomfortable, it is because it is striking a nerve and this a movie that definitely does that.  Why does it do that?  Because we KNOW that things like this go on in every day life.  There IS hate like this that still exists and the movie does not hold back.  And it doesn't blame one side or the other.  It shows everyone is to blame, but that change is always possible.  Of course, you have to do it before it is too late.  This movie is not easy to watch and many people can't see it more than one time.  It's a great film, but not something you just pop in to the DVD player because you feel like watching a good movie again.  It's emotionally draining, but a film that should be seen by all.  Five out of five cheeseburgers