Saturday, June 30, 2012

21 Jump Street

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion, that's fine. To each their own. I am just sharing my opinions and perspective. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 1-5. 1, of course, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being good and 5, being epic!

21 Jump Street - 5 out of 5

We've all heard the criticism about how Hollywood has run out of ideas.  Sequels and prequels, remakes and reboots--what is a person to do?  Is it possible to make an original film anymore?  21 Jumps proves it is.

He's fat again.  That sounded mean.  He's not this skinny anymore.

Despite the fact the film is based on a terrible television show from the 80s, the filmmakers behind this gem (like directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller and writers Michael Bacall and Jonah Hill) prove it's possible to take an adaptation and go into a new direction with it.  Forgoing the drama route of the show, the film becomes a comedy that's completely self-aware that it is in the territory of other cliche garbage films and decides to openly acknowledge itself with brilliant meta-gags that break the fourth wall alongside its collection of smart, witty and absurd humor.

I laugh like this, it's creepy.  Channing Tatum laughs like this, women need to
change their panties.  The world is unfair.

After a new drug is discovered and on the verge of taking over the youths of the community, two painfully bad cops (Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum) are picked to go undercover in a high school to break the lid off the dealers and get to the suppliers.  Our bumbling officers soon learn that they have yet to outgrow the torments of their own high school days and it seems that a powerful new drug is the least of their worries.

I look like this, people say I'm listening intently.  Channing Tatum looks like this,
women need to change their panties.  I now want to be Channing Tatum.

This movie is hilarious.  How hilarious?  I started to cry several times from laughing so hard and I laughed so often that I literally laughed myself exhausted.  The movie is vulgar but its use of vulgarity is as majestic as it's use of some of the best satire I've ever seen of the action genre.  

This about sums up the film...

I tried to come up with a caption for this pic but couldn't think
of anything but pointing out it says "Hall" above the door
in the background.
Even more impressive than the laughs this movie generates is how well the cast is able to perform in order to manufacture those laughs.  Jonah Hill, after a series of disappointing and cookie-cutter cliche movies where he plays the same character, returns to the glory that gave him purpose to rise in the ranks of playing the same character over and over again and Channing Tatum...I've always been very critical of Tatum because--let's face it--he can't act.  However, Tatum proves everyone (especially me) wrong as he gives the performance of a lifetime.  Seriously, Tatum proves he's got the chops in this one and quickly becomes a show stealer...something I never thought I would say about Channing Tatum.

Ice Cube...this movie gave you your street cred back after Are We There Yet? and
XXX:  State of the Union stole it from you.

But the funny doesn't just come from one man as the entire cast delivers in a big way.  Rob Riggle, Ellie Kemper, Chris Parnell and Nick Offerman all come in to provide hilarious side characters alongside cameos from the original series' stars.  Even Ice Cube and James Franco's incredibly less talented little brother--two men I don't find to be very good actors--did stellar jobs and were both entertaining.

Yes Dave Franco, you'll never be as good as your brother.

21 Jump Street could have been on of the thousands of examples of a phoned-in adaptation that has polluted our cinemas and DVD players for years but thanks to phenomenal writing and acting, the film did what Hollywood executives usually hate...it became something unique, original and fun. 

Friday, June 29, 2012

Journey 2: The Mysterious Island

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion, that's fine. To each their own. I am just sharing my opinions and perspective. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 1-5. 1, of course, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being good and 5, being epic!

Journey 2:  The Mysterious Island - 3 out of 5

Much to the chagrin of some people, 3D is the big thing in movies now.  It's come a long way from the days of the red and blue cardboard glasses and, I'll be honest, I enjoy going to a theater and seeing a 3D movie--even though I wear glasses and look like a doofus  when I put the Real D 3D Buddy Holly glasses over me own spectacles (read those last four words with an Irish accent).  But, I'll admit, not all 3D is great.  Personally, I enjoy when the venture into the 3rd Dimension creates further depth into the film you're watching and brings you into their world rather than be just another spectator.  However, I hate it when 3D films are filled with 3D gags--and some of these movies are built entirely around this idea.  This film's predecessor was one of those films and a vast majority of this one fits that bill as well.

Is there a butt trying to escape from under the skin on his chin?

After being at the center of the Earth with the mummy fighting Encino man, Sean is living with his stepdad, The Rock, and is your typical snotty little punk of a turd child who thinks he's the smartest man in the room and ends up getting into some trouble as he gets caught by the cops breaking into a radio tower in order to receive a message from his missing grandpa (Michael Caine)--who, also, is the very first Vernian (a person who believes that all of Jules Verne's books were based on true events and facts--it sounds less crazy than Scientology.)

In an attempt to bond and fight his instinct to drop The People's Elbow, Stepdaddy Rock helps Sean decode the message and discover a map to the Mysterious Island (add a suspenseful crescendo music cue there).  Then, in a moment that is both a painful example of terrible parenting and a family that has a ridiculous amount of expendable cash, The Rock takes Sean to the island of Palau in an effort to locate the Mysterious Island (music cue).  There they find an incompetent (possibly a man-child with the mental development of a three year old) helicopter pilot (Luis Guzman) who inexplicably has an amazingly hot daughter (Vanessa Hudgens--I see those "leaked" nude cellphones pics are finally starting to pay off...and by pay off, I mean get you some semblance of work).  Together, they find the Island (music)--but, then again, it wouldn't be a very long movie if they didn't--and they find Sean's grandpa...oh, and they find out the Island (music cue) is sinking.  Damn the Island (music) and its dramatic sense of timing!

Come on, I'm really suppose to believe that Luis Guzman is the father of boobs--
I mean, her?

I know I sound like I'm being rough on Journey 2 but I actually kinda enjoyed it.  Don't get me wrong, this movie is far from brilliant--not at all.  Instead, it's one of those movies that can keep you entertained just enough during its running time and it doesn't make you say, "Why the hell did I waste my money on this anyway?  Oh yeah, because I have kids...why didn't I wear a condom?"  To put it another way:  Journey 2 is a decent family film.

That isn't to say it doesn't have its fair share of problems...

For example, Josh Hutcherson (Sean) is still a weak actor and this movie just shows that he is doing very little in his growth as an actor.  Michael Caine mirrors this performance by delivering very poorly (which is actually shocking) but maybe the check was large enough that he did this film solely for his retirement (P.S. - don't ever retire, Michael).  However, Dwayne Johnson was very entertaining and carried the entire film on his broad, well-developed shoulders (I'm not gay, he just has amazing shoulders).  Hell, my desire to see this film was entirely based on this scene from the trailer...


Oh...and Vanessa Hudgens...what can I say about her?  Well, let's put it this way:  Once her looks go, no amount of "leaked" nudie pics will get you roles.

Once your career is dead in its tracks, you missed your Playboy deal and you're addicted to
meth, you'll miss the days where it was fake glass being sprayed in your face.
Too mean?

One thing that thoroughly disappointed me about this film was the use of Luis Guzman.  I enjoy Guzman as an actor and have found him amusing in his numerous roles in movies and television shows he's been in but he was wasted in this one.  While his character has some genuinely funny moments (like the feeding the pecks), the rest of the film is him acting like a mentally deficient boy who can't utter a line more complicated than "ohhh" in a hundred different tones and inflections.  Seriously, how many lines were written for his character in the script?

"I'm Michael Caine...I'm Batman's butler and now I'm on a giant bee...your
argument is invalid."

The story is straight forward and simple (it's a family movie after all) but the majority of the movie's special effects feel phoned-in.  The Island (another music cue) and the creatures that populate it look cartoonish and are about as well-rendered as a SeeFee--excuse me...SyFy--film.  But as you watch the movie, it was obvious that the special effects, story and characters were the LAST thing on the filmmakers' minds as lame 3D gags assault you left and right...and then again from the left--and I watched this one at home in the old fashion, missionary position of the dimensions and even then, the awful pandering to the exotic position of the dimensions is kinda painful to sit through.

Cut--we need a tighter shirt for The Rock.  We're trying to get lonely housewives to
take their kids to this one.

Journey 2:  The Mysterious Island (another music cue, maybe?) isn't a spectacular film.  It was made only for the excuse to play around with 3D but with The Rock at the forefront, some humorous moments and the fact it's not a bad movie to enjoy with the same people you strive to avoid (your family), it's not that bad.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

John Carter

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion, that's fine. To each their own. I am just sharing my opinions and perspective. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 1-5. 1, of course, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being good and 5, being epic!
 
John Carter - 1 out of 5
 
The book series this film is based upon is older than the Bible--that's a joke, it's not.  Don't go running to Wikipedia to alter the entry on my account.  I fully realize I have a major influence on you all but we don't need to go overboard.  In reality, the book series by Edgar Rice Burroughs began in 1912--yeah, that's still old--and classic sci-fi geeks adore them, however, I've never read them.  In fact, I never actually heard of them until Disney decided to waste 250 million dollars making it and now, after seeing the jumbled mess they produced, any interest I may have had in reading the stories of John Carter on Mars have been completely obliterated.
 
Sometimes the side-effects of the drug are worse than the disease.
 
The story of John Carter is mostly based on the book A Princess of Mars (and to be honest, casting Taylor Kitsch as John Carter, you're not too far off that princess thing), however, in an attempt to poke the eyes of the geeks who would have helped recoup Disney's losses from this movie, they changed the title to simply John Carter.  The film is a complicated story involving a lot of sci-fi elements that went on to be expectations within the genre and went on to inspire many people to create many of the stories we enjoy today--or don't enjoy, don't want to discriminate on any tastes.  Even James Cameron found some inspiration for Avatar from this series...because without it, Cameron might have been forced to make an original film.
 
For the sake of simplicity, the story of John Carter involves a guy during the Civil War era (not to be confused with the coming era in our near future known as the era of the Civil War Re-creationists) who is accidentally transported to Mars (called Barsoom by the natives) and finds that due to the planet's gravity and his dense bones, he can jump unnecessarily high and is suddenly very strong.  John finds himself in a mess of a situation as the natives of the Red Planet are not really getting along and he becomes a symbol to rally behind in an effort to stop the wars and bring peace.
 
To those of you who hold the series dear and enjoyed the adaptation, I feel I must warn and apologize to you because this review will not be pleasant.  To boil it down to one sentence:  John Carter sucked.  The movie only proves that Disney STILL doesn't know what they are doing (seriously, how have they survived this long?) and proves that just because you throw a lot of money at a movie, it won't make it look good and it won't get asses into the seats.
 
Even the CG characters can't believe their pixel eyes when they see the final product.
 
Even though I'm not overly familiar with the source material, John Carter had the potential to be a great sci-fi/action film but it was clear Disney didn't care about the final product and acted on the belief that if they told you they were serving you a fancy dinner, you wouldn't notice that Mickey just took a steaming shit on your plate.  For example, there are some terrifically talented actors within this movie like Willem Dafoe and Thomas Haden Church providing some voices for the animated characters and live performances from Ciaran Hinds, Mark Strong, Dominic West and Bryan Cranston but none of these names are allowed to utilize their craft to their full potential with the exception of Mark Strong.  Then, as if Disney needed to provide further evidence they weren't trying in the casting department, they decided to make John Carter a pretty-boy douche and they hired an actor who mirrors that idea perfectly.
 
"But I can be douchier...I mean, Battleship is coming out soon."
 
Taylor Kitsch does more damage to this film than any of the other weak aspects Disney threw up at us with this one.  Kitsch iscompletely incapable of delivering a single line with even the smallest hint of emotion.  Every line is a drab, monotone drawl that is borderline incoherent noise--Stallone is easier to understand and with every boring line that barely farts out of his mouth, he keeps the same emotionless state on his face--he's basically the male version of Kristen Stewart--only Stewart is a powerhouse of emotion when the two are compared.  With Kitsch in the role, it was totally impossible for me to get behind a hero that looked like such a douche bag that it wouldn't have surprised me in the least that when director Andrew Stanton called "cut," Kitsch put on a overpriced pin-stripped shirt that looked like Ed Hardy jerked off on over a wife beater, threw on a pair of white framed sunglasses, filled his pockets with roofies and hit the club ready to "crush it."  Casting Taylor Kitsch as the hero is one of those events where you swear the filmmakers were out to intentionally ruin their film--like when Sam Worthington or Shia LaBeouf are put into a movie.
 
Sadly, this face is the most emotion you get out of Kitsch throughout his entire career.

Problems with John Carter don't stop at just the casting as the film fails to keep a decent pace going.  I don't mean that the movie has a great action sequence and comes to a halt when plot elements take over--no, I mean this movie NEVER gets going.  The film feels like an infant just learning to walk.  It takes a step, a pause, two more steps, a pause before a fall to the ground, a struggle to get up and then repeat.  This mess made the film nearly unwatchable--seriously, it took me two sittings to actually get through it.  I sat down to watch it, felt my life start to fade so I turned it off only to return to it the next night.
 
Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the newest star on Jersey Shore.  I didn't know
they got spray tans on Mars.

The lack of balance is also seen in the film's special effects.  Some elements, like the alien spacecrafts look amazing but then you have to look at the Tharks and they look like freaking cartoons.  So, 250 million dollars can't get you realistic creature effects?  They made Gollum look real, for crying out loud!
 
Yeah...cartoon aliens...that's worth the ticket price.

Then there's the laugh-out-loud fight scenes--but calling them fight scenes is an injustice to actual fight sequences.  John Carter is suppose to be this tough guy but when you see Kitsch flailing about with his swords before jumping around in the air like it's a deleted scene from Flubber rather than a hero leaping to save the day, it's hard to take this movie seriously.  Honestly, Brick Tamland screaming with a grenade in his hand in Anchorman was a more dignified fight scene than what John Carter delivers.
 
Boy, fight scenes are easy when the enemy just runs directly into your sword.

The whole time I watched this movie, I kept asking myself where the money went because it clearly didn't go into the acting, script or special effects.  Was Disney using John Carter as an excuse to embezzle money or did they just have a credit card with no limit?  Had another company worked on the film and a better actor given the role of Carter, the film could have been a decent movie.  Instead, we got a poorly made, phoned-in piece of crap that somehow cost 250 million dollars to make.  Somehow the resignation of Rich Ross (the chairman of Disney Studios) isn't enough to make up for this movie (seriously, he quit because of the embarrassment of this movie at the box office and the loss of money the company took from it)...reparations must be made in blood--or at least the 2 dollars it cost me to rent this piece of shit from Redbox.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion, that's fine. To each their own. I am just sharing my opinions and perspective. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 1-5. 1, of course, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being good and 5, being epic!

Sherlock Holmes:  A Game of Shadows - 5 out of 5

When Guy Ritchie announced he was directing a Sherlock Holmes film, I had my reservations.  I like Guy Ritchie but I didn't know if the guy man who gave us Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch could make a profanity-free adventure featuring the World's Greatest Detective (wait a second...Batman is called the World's Greatest Detective...man, imagine if the Bats and Holmes teamed together?  Those great minds could stop crime altogether!).

Watson told Holmes to tell the doctor that he "fell" down some "stairs."

However, all my doubts were instantly put to rest as Ritchie's unique directing style, his artistic and mind-blowing use of editing along with a strong story and through-the-roof performances came busting its way on the screen.  Needless to say, I was excited when Ritchie came in for Round 2.

If you don't like Stephen Fry, I'm sorry, we can no
longer be friends.
Sherlock Holmes:  A Game of Shadows see the great detective (Robert Downing Jr) matching wits with his greatest nemesis and intellectual equal; Professor Moriarty (Jared Harris).  Watson (Jude Law) is on his own and about to get married when Moriarty forces the two men to work together to stop the Professor's mission to create and profit from a war.  But, of course, it's a Sherlock Holmes' mystery so there's so much more going on like a gypsy played by the goth chick from the Swedish version of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is in it and the illustrious Stephen Fry steps in and plays Sherlock's brother; Mycroft--but I'm not into the whole spoiler thing on my blog--I'm much more into pina coladas...and getting caught in the rain.

It's nice to see Noomi Rapace in a role where she's not goth and not being anally raped.

The critics weren't too nice on this 2nd outing for Holmes and Watson and I'm not entirely sure why.  Guy Ritchie's work behind the camera is 2nd to none as he weaves together a brilliant story filled with wit and mystery and throws in some great comedic scenes and action sequences that look as beautiful as they look cool.

"Pew pew--Got you!"

There's also the cast...  Robert Downing Jr. once again takes the role of Sherlock by the balls and makes it his own.  One of the key elements of any Sherlock Holmes story/movie/McDonald's Happy Meal tie-in is the relationship between the detective and the good doctor; John Watson.  Jude Law once again shows he's amazingly entertaining as Watson as well as proving that he and Downing really come off as a duo that are business associates and best friends to the point they look like siblings squabbling over who doesn't sit in the middle of the backseat. 

Oh Robert Downing Jr...you are so talented and handsome...you make me
question my heterosexuality.

In the first film, Mark Strong played the film's antagonist as Lord Blackwood--a person who seemed to ooze evil.  Every good hero needs a great enemy (you got that Ang Lee?  A mutated poodle to take on the Hulk is just one of the million reasons you raped the awesome comic character in Hulk.  Seriously, that movie would have been in better hands if Michael Bay directed it) and in A Game of Shadows we get to see Holmes' greatest enemy; Moriarty--the man who is just as crafty and just as smart as Holmes...only he's really bad.  Harris portrayal of the iconic villain is amazing as he comes off as a quiet, arrogant and wickedly evil man ready to--and with an eerie calm--throw the world into utter chaos simply because he can...and make tons of cash in the process.   With two powerhouse portrayals of two of literature's greatest characters, it becomes quite a sweet treat to see Holmes and Moriarty battle wits and fists in the final act of the film.

Moriarty would later go on to use his evil talents helping Don Draper at
Draper Sterling Cooper Pryce.

Amazingly entertaining, visually creative and pleasing on the old eyeballs and very humorous, Sherlock Holmes:  A Game of Shadows proves to be on par (maybe better) than the first film and shows that there is limitless potential for more sequels...until Joel Schumacher takes over and destroys it like he did with the Batman franchise of the late 80s and early 90s.  (Another reason for Holmes and Batman to team up--to thwart Schumacher!)

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

The Music Never Stopped

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion, that's fine. To each their own. I am just sharing my opinions and perspective. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 1-5. 1, of course, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being good and 5, being epic!

The Music Never Stopped - 3 out of 5

It's amazing the power music has over us.  Everyone has those moments where a song can take us back to a time and a place in our past.  Sometimes a song can trigger a great moment you had with your friends or a song can remind you of the one that got away or the time you fought Bigfoot (that hasn't happened to you?).  The point is that music can play a big part in a person's life and is more than just something to sing along to while you're in the shower or to serve as a soundtrack while you're making babies.

Quite a change for the man who once played a Nazi rapist.

Cave Johnson...the early years.
The Music Never Stopped is about a young man (Gabriel Sawyer) who has a tumor in his brain that prevents him from creating long-term memories.  Desperate, his parents hold onto a glimmer of hope and seek to find anyway to see their son return to what he once was or, at the very least, be able to connect with him again.  The father, Henry (played by J.K. Simmons) discovers a college professor doing experiments with the cognitive connection we humans have with music and she begins using songs that Gabriel loves so much to help him reconnect to his past and help him with his future.  His father becomes so enthralled with the progress that he observes that he engrosses himself with The Who, The Stones, Bobby Dylan, The Dead and all the bands his son loves in order to reestablish what was lost in their relationship before his own deteriorating health causing more obstacles.

Who doesn't love Scott Adsit?  People who hate being happy, that's who.

The Music Never Stopped is a great emotional story filled with great songs of the 60s and 70s.  However, the real emotional impact doesn't really hit its peak until the end of the film due to an unbalanced performance from Lou Taylor Pucci as Gabriel and J.K. Simmons.  Pucci's performance feels flat and as phony as the beard on his face while Simmons (predictably) delivers amazingly.

Couldn't get a more convincing fake beard?  Spent too much money on the songs in the film?

The pain that the character of the father is going through is palpable thanks to Simmons talent but due to a less than adequate performance from Pucci, it's very difficult to feel a strong emotional response to the events on screen.

Ah, they're at a Dead concert...or as I call it, Hell.

With a touching story, a great performance from a stellar character actor and a terrific soundtrack, The Music Never Stopped has the potential to be a heart-warming, tear-jerker of a movie that sadly is weakened by the performance of the story's central character.  Adding along to the fact that the film offers a few B-storylines that offer nothing to the main story and are never truly given any real closer makes this movie entertaining but keeps it from seeing its full potential at being a film that makes you reach for the tissues to clean up the leakage from your eyeballs.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

The Tree of Life

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion, that's fine. To each their own. I am just sharing my opinions and perspective. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 1-5. 1, of course, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being good and 5, being epic!

The Tree of Life - 3 out of 5

 The Tree of Life is one of those unique, artistic films that are so experimental that it's quite difficult to review.  It's not your typical film.  There's no linear narrative to speak of and the movie ultimately feels like a dream within a dream, a religious experience or the most mellow drug trip the world has ever seen.

Is that..is that Mayhem?

To try and describe the film's premise is even difficult with all the artistry placed within its running time.  To put it in its simplest terms, the movie is about a young boy (Jack) growing up in the 50s and, after the loss of his brother, starts to see his own innocence fade away.  The film jumps from Jack as a child to Jack as an adult (played by Sean Penn)--except when we see Jack as an adult, he's on some sort of peyote trip and is having visions of himself and his family in the desert (yeah, you read that right).  The film becomes even more like it was the remnants from the cutting room floor of 2001:  A Space Odyssey as, after the death of the little brother is established, the movie cuts to the creation of the universe and the planet Earth--and we're even treated with a short scene that contains dinosaurs (yeah, you read that right, too).

Brad Pitt plays Jack's father...so this movie contains Brad Pitt AND
dinosaurs?  Why was this not the greatest movie ever made?

Visually, The Tree of Life is beautiful (even the stuff that doesn't seem to make sense on the surface).  The entire movie is filmed beautifully with its use of natural light and smooth flowing camera shots that keep the movie moving forward as the camera never seems to stay still and moves around the action like an aquatic dancer (I'm not even sure what exactly an aquatic dancer is but it sounds good).

If you look closely, you can see James Franco cutting his arm off in the background.

"Hmm...there seems to be a cameraman at crotch level
right now.  Interesting."
The only thing that harms the film (and Sean Penn actually was very critical of this aspect of the it as well) is the way the film's story is told.  Director Terrence Malick is very experimental with this one, especially with its editing, as the film moves almost chaotically from sequence to sequence and it's not till the movie is over are you able to properly digest the events and have a bowel movement of insight to what you just saw.  The dancing visuals that are interwoven into the film's story keeps the viewer (or at least me) from being able to fully empathize with the characters within.  It wasn't until the credits were rolling could I feel anything for what I just saw.  Because of this, the movie can feel like homework and less patient viewers can be (justifiably) bored with what they are seeing.  Also, if you've ever described Michael Bay's work as a "masterpiece" or "an emotional rollercoaster" you should avoid this movie like the plague because it'll make your head explode.

Seriously, there were dinosaurs in this movie!

Wow, even in those glasses Brad Pitt is better
looking than I'll ever be.
The Tree of Life is a hard film to watch because your typical movie rewards don't come in the form of explosions, jokes, damn dirty apes or even the occasional appearance of a boobie.  Instead, the film is an ever expanding story of developing emotions in a young boy as he grows old juxtaposed with amazing visuals and an unusual editing style.  With its running time, it's easy to compare the film to a flower blooming:  It takes some time and you may wonder why the hell you are wasting your time watching it but in the end, the final result is beautiful.

Poseidon

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion, that's fine. To each their own. I am just sharing my opinions and perspective. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 1-5. 1, of course, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being good and 5, being epic!

Poseidon - 2 out of 5

I really enjoy The Poseidon Adventure so, needless to say, when I saw, back in 2006, that they remade it, I avoided it because most remakes stink.  However, after revisiting The Poseidon Adventure back in March of this year for the sake of my blog, I decided to finally sit down and watch the remake.
We're going to need a bigger boat...no, actually that one is pretty big.  Never mind.
I'm sorry I did.
The story is not much different:  a big ship is capsized and a small group of trapped cruise goers decides to go against the group and try to find a way out rather than stay and wait for help to find them.  That's it, however, there are some major differences within the production from the original.  Everything that made the original a great disaster movie is ignored in this one.  Deeply constructed characters creating conflict and overcoming monumental odds to survive are replaced with one-dimensional characters who's names aren't even worth the time to remember and decent special effects.  It honestly seemed as if all the effort was put forth in putting together a great visual in the form of the boat flipping over by the wave rather than making the viewer want to care about the characters.
Captain Ron is on the ship?  What could possibly go wrong?

In the original film, we had rich characters like Gene Hackman as the Reverend Scott who's radical ideas about faith play a major role in his journey for survival or, how about, Mr. and Mrs. Rosen who were on a trip to meet their grandchild and the idea of getting to lay their eyes on him is the only thing that keeps them moving.  You don't get this in Poseidon.  Instead you get a cook, a mom and her son, a guy with no backstory but seems to be quite determined to get out, a rich man depressed over his lover leaving him, a douche and the girl he loves and Kurt Russell.  That's what you get.  None of them have much of a backstory to make you want to root for their survival except for a few cheap moments with the mom and her child but they act only as easy way outs in the script to get the audience behind the story.
Fergie was the on-ship entertainment?  If I was there, I would have capsized the boat myself.

Is it just me or does Richard Dreyfuss look like he would be
an awesome uncle.  The non-molesting kind of uncle, that is.
With such lifeless characters, it's no surprise that even great actors in this film like Kurt Russell and Richard Dreyfuss aren't able to bring much to their respective roles.  Russell, who always delivers in his movies comes off looking bored and seems like he's only in it until the check clears and Dreyfuss looks like he's daydreaming the entire time.  But you can't blame them since, from the look of the film, the script was probably barely ten pages long.  In fact, it's the mere presence of these two actors along with the decent capsizing scene is the only reasons this one got a 2 out of 5 instead of a more deserving 1.  However, you get Josh Lucas in the movie and if there is one thing you can count on with him it's that he'll overact the hell out of his role and despite his character being a one-dimensional loner who, when the chips are down shows he's actually a good guy, Lucas overacts the shit out of it and pulls out every cliche one would expect from such a character--even the Kiefer Sutherland-style intense whisper that is suppose to show a character is raw and gritty. 
Andre Braugher takes over the role of Captain Bradford.  In the original, Leslie Nielsen
played the captain...surely you can't be serious.

Sometimes Hollywood is able to succeed and have a remake that is either on par with the original, a unique new vision of the original or, even rarer, better.  However, Poseidon isn't any of these.  Poseidon is one of those films you can reference when showcasing how shitty remakes can be.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

The Grey

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion, that's fine. To each their own. I am just sharing my opinions and perspective. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 1-5. 1, of course, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being good and 5, being epic!

The Grey - 4 out of 5

Liam Neeson is a bona fide bad-ass.  Don't agree?  Have you seen Taken?  He was kicking the a-holes of a human trafficking circle to get his daughter back and now he's out to kick the a-holes of some computer generated wolves out for blood.

Those are some intense eyes...surprised the wolves didn't surrender with just a glance.

There's always one creepy guy on every plane.
Liam (or Mr. Neeson, please don't beat me up for being too informal) stars as Ottway who is employed at an oil rig as a wolf hunter--basically he hides in the snow picking off wolves who get hungry for oil men.  After his job reaches its completion, he and other employees board a plane for home when a storm takes them down.  Ottway and a few survivors quickly discover that not only do they have to try and survive the harsh elements, they also have to survive vindictive wolves ready to pick them off one by one out there hiding in the darkness.

Wait...is this one of those Weekend Warriors things where guys get shirtless
and howl at the moon to find their "inner animal?"

First off, it should come as no surprise that PETA hated this movie and asked people to boycott it because of the negative light it casts on wolves.  You got to hand it to PETA because no one is better at making PETA look like a collection of morons than PETA--and I'm a vegan who supports the humane treatment of animals but those nutjobs just make the animal rights movement look like a joke.  

Ah, summer in Minnesota.

*Steps on soapbox*  The Grey is a work of fiction--that means it was made up, PETA--and in this work of fiction (remember, that means it's fake, PETA) the antagonist is Mother Nature itself.  The survivors are not only battling freezing temperatures, blizzards (not the Dairy Queen kind either) and unpredictable terrain but they also crashed into a wolf pack's territory.  Wolves are a part of Mother Nature and yes, the wolves are the "bad guys" but there is reasons behind it--and the reason is NOT that filmmakers wanted everyone who views this movie to hate wolves.  Using PETA's stupid logic when it comes to works of fiction, we must boycott ALL movies because someone/something is put in a negative light.  Weather seems to be a dick in this movie and nearly every movie ever made has some dick human being a dick for dick reasons.  Should we boycott them?  Should we just boycott all movies or just the ones that put our furry friends as the bad guys?  Should I no longer watch Return of the Jedi because Jabba gives all Hutts a bad name due to his criminal activities?  Of course not because Hutts aren't real--well, guess what?  The wolves in this movie aren't either--in fact, they are completely CG.  I understand you're out to bring awareness of animal rights but pick your battles--specifically pick battles that don't make you look like insane, self-righteous idiots.  The reality is Mother Nature is a bitch and has a million ways to kill you--wolves pissed off because some oil workers crashed in their front yard is just one of those ways.  Finally, it's just a movie and one of the world's oldest storytelling elements:  Man's fight for survival against nature.  *Steps off soapbox*

OH CRAP!  It's The Nothing from The Neverending Story!

Back to my review...

PETA's sore buttholes aside, The Grey is an amazing film.  Stories of survival are no new thing and with all the advancements our society makes, it's nice to see an old fashion "man vs. wild" story (and not Bear Grylls' Man vs. Wild because I don't think drinking your own piss will help much against blood-thirsty wolves).

No caption required...except for the fact that I actually made this just for the review.

Sure, at times, the wolves seem like they are near invincible military strategists in their attacks but the human elements that comes from the survivors as they open up to each other moves the story along and making you yearn for them to make it...even though you know most won't (I think I saw some Red Shirts peaking out of their jackets).

Due to years of abuse to his body, production of Cliffhanger 2 was cancelled after
Stallone was stuck in this position for 8 hours.


I have a healthy fear of and respect for this man.

Other than Liam Neeson continuing to prove he's the man--seriously, if I ever meet him, I would
ask him to punch me in the face so I could spend the rest of my life bragging that I took a punch from Liam Neeson (I'll make sure to leave out that I probably wet myself and cried for 20 minutes after the punch)--the movie's strongest moment is the ending.  Without spoiling anything, the films ends on an ambiguous note.  If you like happy endings, the film is open enough where you can have your happy ending.  Are you like me where life has beaten the crap out of you and all that's left is a jaded, cynical shadow of what you once were and you want a downer ending?  Guess what?  You can have it--Hell, you can even mix it up and have a bittersweet ending that combines a little happy and a little sad.  The film leaves it completely up to the viewer.

"Hey...is that wolf mooning me?"

With great characters, a tremendous story and a stellar ending, The Grey proves to be a great film about survival and has also proven to me that Bear Grylls and all his piss drinking has nothing on Liam Neeson--mostly because Neeson's scripts about survival are more entertaining and better written than the scripts Bear worked with on his show--BOOM!