Category: Reviews


Movie Review: Captain America

Another comic book movie. The fourth one this summer alone, the 3rd Marvel movie of the summer. Is anyone else getting sick of it? Surely there can’t be that many die-hard comic book fans out there just dying to see every tights-clad paragon of virtue ever conceived on paper on the big screen.  I’ve got nothing against superhero movies, some of them are my favorites, but it’s starting to get ridiculous.   People who call themselves die-hard comic book fans are just the hipsters of the nerd kingdom anyway.

But I digress.

Not being familiar with Captain America and his origin story, and being the skeptic I am, I was going to be director Joe Johnston’s toughest sell.   Like all comic book movies, Captain America has to both pay lip service to its die hard fans who know all the details already, and give newcomers to the story a satisfying movie experience with characters they give a damn about without knowing who they are beforehand. That in mind, I went into the theater expecting more of the same.

Captain America, astoundingly, doesn’t exactly fit the mold of the rest of the summer comic book movies.  It’s still a comic movie through and through, but it seems to be aware of that fact, and consequently it comes across as much less self-righteous and melodramatic. In fact, Captain America almost seems to parody its summer movie predecessors;  It’s campy, over the top, superhero fun.

:Note to bad guys: When designing your secret base to protect against a motorcycle-riding hero, make sure your gates aren’t conspicuously ramp-shaped.  Just saying.

Oh... you mean that WASN'T a convenient ramp-gate? My bad....

The square-jawed, morally incorruptible hero Steve Rogers, A.K.A. Captain America, is played by an exceedingly muscular Chris Evans. For the first part of the movie however, his is face affixed, convincingly via computer animation, to the body of a scrawny boy with a healthy sense of honor, until he gets injected with super steroids and becomes the ass-kicking patriot we all know.  He’s basically the ultimate frat guy; good looking and cocky, disk-golfing against the evil forces of HYDRA with his indestructible circular shield of justice.  He assembles a team of ethnically diverse rescued prisoners (one with an astoundingly well groomed moustache and bowler hat, even though he’s been in a Nazi prison camp for who knows how long) to help him, and they provide some welcome comic relief to the somewhat stodgy Captain.

In fact, the cast around the Captain was all pretty top notch, providing a nice contrast to our somewhat depthless hero.  The love interest to Evan’s Steve Rogers is a buxom and beautiful Hayley Altwell (why have I not seen her before??), as the sexily British, yet modernly independent and ass-kicking Agent Peggy Carter.  Tommy Lee Jones is Tommy Lee Jones playing an army guy, and I would expect nothing less from him.  The villain of the story is a gleefully evil Hugo Weaving, as the inexplicably noseless Red Skull, who wields the Nordic Ice Cube of Power (that’s what I think it was anyway, it’s not really explained…), and plans to destroy the world with an army of laser-toting, black clad, faceless stormtrooper ripoffs and a huge stealth bomber thing.

Wait a minute... When did we get to Endor?

The whole thing is gloriously over the top, and I found myself laughing at some of the action scenes due to their sheer ridiculousness.  I’m not sure if that was intended, but I enjoyed it nonetheless.  The movie was funny, I found myself laughing frequently,and unlike the heavy-handed ramblings of Thor and the Green Lantern, Captain America seemed almost refreshing.

Much of that was due in part to its writing.  It was a satisfying moment when, at the movie’s climax, as Captain America faces off against the diabolical Red Skull, the villain asks our red, white and blue-clad hero “Do you ever give up?” and the Captain’s response is simply, “Nope.” That simple “nope” in the stead of the genre’s usual lengthy speeches on virtue and black-and-white moral platitudes, a tribute to the surprisingly sharp script of writers Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely.

The most memorable part of the movie to me was after discovering his remarkable powers, Steve Rogers immediately gets whisked off on a War Bonds tour, performing to catchy jingles, making speeches, and punching Hitler in the face every night.  This instead of the typical training montage was a welcome and realistic change.  After an ill-received show for G.I.’s in Italy however, Rogers finds his true calling; superherodom.

So overall I enjoyed the movie much more than I expected to.  It’s campy summer fun, and it doesn’t take itself as seriously a the trailers led me to believe.  It did however, seem to be sort of a giant teaser for next Summer’s Avenger’s movie.  Which would have been disappointing if I wasn’t so excited for the movie (mainly because of Robert Downey Jr.’s return as Iron Man).   Another strange aspect of the movie was the fact that I couldn’t figure out, on numerous occasions, if it was paying homage to other well-known movies or just ripping them off. One scene in which Captain America speeds through a forest on his motorcycle is so reminiscent of Star Wars, it borders on plagiarism.

That aside, I can highly recommend Captain America as an entertaining two hour respite from the summer heat.

Feedback please,
-Andrew

Movie Review: Horrible Bosses

I’ve got to start off by saying Horrible Bosses is a terrible movie title.  Out of all the crap that’s been churned out of the Summer Movie Machine, it’s got the worst, most awkward, and least creative movie title.  It’s like nobody could agree on a title, so everybody in the studio put their title ideas into a hat, and the one they drew was the one written in purple Crayon by the studio exec’s 5-year-old niece.

Title aside, Horrible Bosses actually wasn’t all that horrible.

The premise of the movie is a bit strange to me, I mean would three normal guys really be driven to murder by their bosses? No matter how “horrible”?  But the whole movie is ridiculous and over the top in a good way, so I was able to put that strangeness aside.

Far and away the funniest performance was by Charlie Day (of It’s Always Sunny in Philidelphia fame), who played his usual blustering, bumbling, and lovably naive character in the form of Dale, a dentists assistant tired of the constant sexual harrassment by his perpetually libidinous boss, Dr. Julia Harris, D.D.S. played by a surprisingly sexy Jennifer Aniston.  This boss/disgruntled employee pairing was my favorite out of the three, Day’s hilariously distraught recollections of his workplace woes only provoke chiding from his buddies, who don’t see the advances of a beautiful woman to be a problem.  Aniston played a role much more sultry than usual, and she clearly relished her role as temptress, which was fun to watch.

The other pairings in the movie weren’t quite as strong however.  For instance the relationship between Jason Bateman‘s character Nick and his boss Dave Harkin, played by a seething Kevin Spacey, was a bit over the top for me.  Spacey clearly had fun being bad, but I didn’t quite buy his character.  Though still entertaining, the Aniston/Day conflict was just much more humorous, and less er, painful to watch.  The dynamic between Jason Sudeikis as Kurt, and his coke-head boss Bobby Pellit, played by a heavily make-upped and balding Colin Farrell could have been funny, but of the three it wasn’t developed nearly as much.  He also seemed like a cheap knockoff of Tom Cruise’s very similar, balding and heavily make-upped character, Les Grossman, in the movie Tropic Thunder.

Another problem I have with the movie however, is a problem I have with most comedies that are released these days, and that problem is with its marketing.  These days you can’t even turn on the TV or open the internet without having movie trailers shoved down your throat.  Don’t get me wrong, I love movie trailers, I spend hours on the internet watching movie trailers, and sometimes I even like movie trailers more than movies, but when you go to see a comedy and you know exactly what’s going to happen, and every joke from the movie., that’s a problem.  There’s got to be a balance there.  Trailers are great, but when I watch a movie and most the funniest parts aren’t funny at all because I’ve already seen them a hundred times, it really takes a lot of the fun out of it. Horrible Bosses is definitely that way, and if you’ve seen the trailers, you’ve pretty much seen the movie.  Even with that being the case, I still found myself laughing out loud a lot in this movie.

Making the best out of a strange premise, the lead actors have a good chemistry, with Bateman doing his usual straight man amongst crazies bit (see: Arrested Development),contrasting nicely with the bumbling antics of funny guy Day, and ladies man (huh?) Sudeikis. This hilarious chemistry is what saves the movie for me. At times their stupidity and naivité is almost painful to watch, and the circumstances they find themselves in are always over the top, but their ability to work off each other and turn what could be stale one-liners into extended moments of awkward comedy gold, and is what makes Horrible Bosses worth the price of admission.

From Left: Bateman, Day, and Sudeikis

So overall, I think Horrible Bosses succeeds amongst a sea of summer movie mediocrity thanks to the comedic talents of it’s main actors despite a godawful title, and a less than believable premise.

-Andrew


Movie Review: Bridesmaids

From Clerks to The Hangover, the R-rated comedy genre has been long dominated by men.  Movies featuring female leads and feminine plot lines are entertaining, in fact I enjoy watching “chick flicks” as much as any woman, but they never quite cross that line into crude, laugh-till-you-cry hilarity that is common to comedies featuring male leads.

Bridesmaids finally bridges that gap between chick flicks and R-rated comedy, and it does it with force.

At left: Mellissa McCarthy, Ellie Kemper, Rose Byrne, Wendy McLendon-Covey, Maya Rudolph, and Kristen Wiig

Bridesmaids proves once and for all that women can make fun of themselves and be as ungraceful and colorful as any male lead, with awkward and brash performances reminiscent of Zach Galifianakis or Seth Rogen.  The men in the movie are all fairly minor characters, even the future husband of the bride that is the movie’s namesake only gets a minute or two of screen time.  The biggest male parts were played by Jon Hamm, who plays the douchebag sex buddy who Wiig’s character shouldn’t be with, and Chris O’Dowd, who plays the lovable bumbling cop and love interest, Rhodes. It’s clear that the women are the stars here, and they aren’t upstaged by anyone.

Kristen Wiig is hawt.

Kristen Wiig brings more than her usual simple-minded, one-dimensional SNL characters to the big screen as the insecure, short-fused, and dorky, but kind-hearted and adorable Annie in BridesmaidsWiig was a co-writer, so naturally the movie showcases her throughout, but she doesn’t fail to deliver.  Her hilarious performance made me laugh out loud more times than I can count, accompanied by almost as many cringes at the awkward situations she frequently got herself into.  There were moments of the movie that were almost painful due to their sheer awkwardness. At times I hated her, at times I felt sorry for her, at times I laughed my ass off at her, but by the end I loved her.  Before Bridesmaids I wasn’t much of  Kristen Wiig fan, but now I look forward to her future performances on the big screen as a comedic star.

As for the other performances, they’re all pretty solid, with a standout performance from relative unknown Melissa McCarthy as Megan, the butch, crazy, and hilariously awkward sister-in-law of the bride to be.    Some moments with McCarthy however, felt forced and could have been left out, but overall I enjoyed her off beat and very brash performance.  She definitely took a page from Zach Galifianakis’ playbook from The Hangover in her depiction of the slightly crazy Megan.

There weren’t any particularly bad performances, but Ellie Kemper as the innocent Becca played the same character as she does on the office, and Maya Rudolph was Maya Rudolph, I’ve never really been a big fan of hers, and Bridesmaids didn’t really change my opinion.  The stars of the show were clearly Wiig and McCarthy.

If I had a nit to pick however, it would be that the plot is exactly what you’d expect from  a chick flick.  Everything happens the way you expect it to, but then again I didn’t really have a problem with that.  Also, Chris O’Dowd’s character with the Irish accent was a little strange, I’m not sure why they took him in that direction. Apart from some forced humor and predictable plot lines, the movie worked for me.

Don’t go see Bridesmaids expecting a revolutionary story with lots of character development and plot twists, go see Bridesmaids to laugh your ass off with your girlfriend or boyfriend, with your best friend, or with your closest enemy.  Everyone can get something out of Bridesmaids, except maybe your grandparents and your impressionable young nephews.  Don’t take them to go see it. Just don’t.

Bridesmaids is a feminine breakthrough into the world of raunchy male comedy, and it works.

My consensus?  On a scale of ”  ” to “I also think Kristen Wiig is smokin’ hot…” I give it a “I also think Kristen Wiig is smokin’ hot”

The Tomatometer never lies,

-Andrew

P.S. There is a lot I left out in the review, but I know how short your attention spans are on the internet, so just go see the movie for the rest. Do it.  A definitely R-rated trailer can be seen here.

Movie Review: Source Code

My brain hurts.

Source Code is like Groundhog Day meets Inception meets Mission Impossible meets The Polar Express.  Despite the infuriating number of commercials you’ve seen for this movie, you don’t understand it.  I watched it and I still don’t totally understand it.  A good movie is one that leaves the theater with you.  I’m not talking those dime-a-dozen, sorority-girl-in-an-empty-haunted-house, how-long-can-we-hold-this-dissonant-violin-chord-until-you-wet-your-pants-when-something-jumps-out movies. I’m talking one that really makes you think.  Source Code makes you think not only about the time-bending physics in it, but about your own morals.  Source Code is one of those movies I can’t say too much about though, because it places you right in the middle of the action, and the rest of the movie is spent trying to figure out exactly what the hell is going on.  That’s why the movie is so much fun.  I will warn you though, I may be just too sensitive, but I was choked up and on the verge of a lone tear rolling down my face for a good 15 minutes of it, if you don’t want to cry in front of your friends, wear 3D glasses or something.

In the foreground, Jake Gyllenhaal. In the background, the plot twist.

As far as acting, Jake Gyllenhaal who plays the protagonist Captain Colter Stevens drives the show, his emotional performance is outstanding, much better than I have come to expect from him recently.  Any man who can bring a tear to my eye is a good actor.  Supported by Vera Farmiga in the role of Colleen Goodwin, and Michele Monaghan as the love interest Christina Warren, I thought Farmiga had a strong performance, communicating a lot without words in a script that was somewhat sparse for her.  Monaghan was solid, but the character was a little one dimensional, probably due to the writing, and her chemistry with Gyllenhaal seemed a little forced.  Finally, Jeffrey Wright, who played Dr. Rutledge, the man in charge of the operation, was a little over the top for my tastes, playing a character who was a bit too much of a weird douche to be believable.

Visually the movie wasn’t too spectacular, limited by it’s plot to a few choice locations, but the special effects were good, and my disbelief was successfully suspended throughout the movie.  It might have been a factor of the projector in my movie theater, but one annoying thing I noticed was some distracting motion blur in a couple scenes.  Again, it might have been a factor of my theater’s projector, and it was a minor thing, but I thought it was at least worth mentioning.

I also wished it had had a little more comic relief, but I’m sort of a movie sap, and I don’t like things that are too sad.  It wasn’t TOO sad, but, well, yeah.

Overall, in case you couldn’t tell already, I highly recommend seeing Source Code, and then probably watching it again after that.  Definitely worth the price of admission.

8.9/10

I have time to write this, but not my papers…

?,

-Andrew

Man, I don’t even know where to start with this one…

When I first heard about Prince of Persia I was excited, because I had played the video game and I thought a movie based on it would be awesome.  But then, being the Tomatometer Troll I am, I read the reviews. Yikes.

Now, I have a tendency to trust the Tomatometer a bit too much, so I end up not watching movies I’m interested in solely because of the reviews.  So when Prince of Persia came on TV at my house, I decided to donate two hours of my time to it and see if the internet might be mistaken, which can happen.

It wasn’t mistaken.

Prince of Persia: the Sands of Mediocrity is the story of Jake Gyllenhaal in need of a haircut traipsing through Egpyt/New Zealand fighting off baddies with a hot princess (whoa, SEXUAL TENSION) a few choice slow-mo moves and a bunch of special effects, to return a magical dagger that can rewind time to the hot princess’s castle (which happens to be directly above the place where if you stick the dagger apparently the whole world explodes).

This would probably be a better movie... also, LOLOLOL

Plot is forgone for displays of what can be done with a computer and slow motion homages to the message board fanboys who played the video games. I still don’t know what happened at the end of the movie.  There was a lot of anguished yelling, a bunch of falling sand, a weird 10 minute segment featuring two dudes holding the dagger and yelling profusely, whilst surrounded by some kind of rainbow sand tornado that somehow resolved the conflict and sent Jake Gyllenhaal back to the beginning of the movie.

The dialog  sounds like it was written by some pale, sunken-eyed 13-year-old in his basement after doing unspeakable things while he watched Lord of the Rings.  The comic relief is forced and awkward, like the time that 13-year-old went to  the school dance and ended up peeing in the punch bowl in front of the horrified chaperones.  Somebody probably laughed, but most of them probably just looked away.

There were a few slight redeeming factors to the movie, chiefly that some of the action was pretty cool, especially if you had played the video games.  There were a couple cool moments of neat cinematography, of horses galloping through the desert, but not much effort was made in that area.

According to Prince of Persia:

-Having a beard and eyeliner inherently makes you Persian.

-No matter the time or place or number of bad guys, there is always time for a tender moment of prolonged loving eye contact and a soft embrace.

-Any problem can be solved with a bunch of yelling and some gratuitous special effects.

-Talking with a fake British accent makes everything seem historic. Because everyone in the past, especially Persians, spoke with fake, vaguely British accents.

Maybe a little harsh,

-Andrew

P.S. My viewership spike is over, so now I’m back to the normal, almost nonexistent view count, so uh, tell your friends about me.  And a huge thanks to my loyal viewers, I really appreciate the support!  If I had t-shirts to give out I would.  Anywho, enjoy your week!

Movie Review: The King’s Speech

Based on its premise, this movie should be incredibly boring. A wham bam action packed thrill ride of a movie, in which the climax is a timid, powerless king stammeringly delivering a speech via radio. I’m on the edge of my seat.

Here comes the twist.

The King’s Speech (rightfully nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture) was one of the best movies I’ve seen in a long time.  Glowing reviews aren’t always the most fun to read, but it’s hard to find fault with Tom Hooper’s film.  The dialog and David Seidler’s screenplay were superb, the acting was brilliant (especially from Colin Firth and Geoffrey Rush), and the cinematography of Jeff Cronenweth was beautiful.

The dialog in The Speech would best be described as both immensely charming, intelligent, quirky, and at times hilarious.  I often caught myself smiling at the way things were said, just because I enjoyed the way they were said (and everything is more charming with a British accent).  I even laughed out loud several times throughout the movie, and once I laughed myself to tears (if you’ve seen it you know the scene).  The movie isn’t exactly a comedy, but it was one of the most humorous and enjoyable experiences I’ve had in the theater.  A rare Oscar-nominee for best picture that didn’t leave me wanting to jump into a black hole.

The interplay between Bertie, stuttering future King George VI of England (played by Colin Firth, nominated for Best Actor) and his unconventional Australian speech therapist Lionel Logue (Geoffrey Rush, nominated for Best supporting Actor) was quirky and rapid fire, neither actor missing a beat.  I would be shocked if Firth didn’t receive the Oscar for Best Actor simply for the challenge it would take to make such a character believable.  In the course of the movie he goes from the prickish, stuttering Duke of York, who I instantly took a disliking to, to the lovable stammering King of England.  The hard work he must have put into developing that character, and mastering the characteristic speech patterns, which never break, is staggering.  Another notable performance is by Helena Bonham Carter in the role of Queen Elizabeth.  She had a great on-screen chemistry with Firth, and she exuded an air of regality that any Queen must.  She was nominated for Best Supporting Actress for her role.

The cinematography in the movie was awesome.  Any given frame of the movie could be printed and put on the wall as art.  The period costumes and sets complete with creaky floorboards, molding wallpaper, and royal palaces made me feel like I was there.  The whole movie is set against a backdrop of pre World War Two England, and you really feel the tension of a nation on the brink of war.  There is a scene showing families listening to the announcement of war on the radio that gave me chills.  It was followed by a drive through London, bomb sirens wailing, to a sandbagged Buckingham Palace.  These images take what could be a mundane story, and place it in the context of the most tumultuous time in human history, making it an inspirational, exciting, and heartwarming piece of cinema.

A couple Sundays from now I’ll be rooting for The Speech to unseat the favorite for Best Picture The Social Network.  With 12 nominations it’s sure to win several, but the Best Picture title is clearly the most prestigious.

If you only take one thing from this review it should be this: GO SEE THE KING’S SPEECH.

I apologize for the somewhat dry nature of today’s entry, but movies are a hobby of mine.  More of the usual entertaining (I hope) posts to come, I promise. That came off as really snooty….

Snootily yours,

-Andrew

DVD Review: The Social Network

Let me start off by saying I  had no interest in seeing this movie.  I think it might have been because of the fact that I am reluctant to acknowledge accomplishments greater than my own.  I don’t find prodigies cute because when I was ten all I did was play Zoo Tycoon and watch the Magic School bus, and this jerk is a master piano player???  So Mark Zuckerberg being a Harvard prodigy was a turnoff.  Oh, he’s also the youngest billionaire in history.  Besides, the pretentiousness and hype behind the movie was incredible, a metaphor for our entire generation? Seems a bit strong for a movie.  Ah but it’s not a movie, according to the writing on the disc it’s a “film,” which is inherently better than a silly old movie I guess.  But, I knew it would probably win best picture at the Academy awards, so I felt obligated to watch it, like I owed it to society or something.

And so I did.

Aaron Sorkin’s screenplay and dialog in the movie were superb, the lines were rapid fire and well delivered by everyone in the film.  I was sucked in from the get go, even with the potentially less than exciting premise.  The pacing of the movie was good, and it never felt drawn out, even a little abruptly ended if anything.  The acting was good all around, most notably Jesse Eisenberg, and an emotional performance by newcomer Andrew Marvell (who is also starring as Peter Parker in the new untitled Spiderman reboot, set to come out sometime in 2012.) I didn’t hate it as much as I expected, there wasn’t a snooty, Facebook is transcendentally representative of our generation message like I expected.  The movie did have one unexpected side effect however, it made me want to get rid of my Facebook.

Mark Zuckerberg (Jesse Eisenberg) along with Sean Parker, founder ofTotal douches. Napster and douchebag extraordinaire (well played by Justin Timberlake) were the villains of the movie. Basically the plot of the movie was the tale of how Mark Zuckerberg is a genius prick who stole the idea for Facebook from some frat guys and then screws his best friend Eduardo Saverin(Andrew Garfield) out of the company that he started.  I was rooting for Saverin the entire time, and I hoped he would destroy Mark and Facebook altogether.  I realized that if that had actually happened, I wouldn’t have a Facebook today, but I didn’t care, that’s how big of a douche Mark Zuckerberg was/is.

Of course, it wasn’t enough to make me actually delete my Facebook, I would have a Facebook if Satan was the owner. However, if there was such a thing as Eduardobook, I would join straight away.

The Verdict:

On a scale of ”        ” to “ZOMG BEST MOVIE EVAR!!!” I would give it a “ZOMG BEST MOVIE”.   In other words, Redbox it sometime. It’s worth watching, though for me it didn’t quite live up to the hype.  My world remains undefined.

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