Friday, October 12, 2012

a dozen movie dash

Well, here it is… its Post 900 Eve. As in, Post 899… so I thought I’d give you a quick dash through a bunch of movies I’ve seen . Twelve paragraphs, twelve movies.’

Argo… Simply the best movie I’ve seen so far in a long, long time. This is based on the true story of “The Canadian Caper”, which is when the Iranians took over the US Embassy in 1980, capturing over 50 hostages… 6 people escaped from the Embassy and took refuge at the home of the Canadian ambassador. While the hostages were on tv all the time, and a bargaining chip between the US and Iran, no one knew about the 6 escapees, which meant they were completely expendable. Ben Affleck, which has turned into one heck of a director after “The Town” and now this, plays one of the leads, the CIA agent who works with a few Hollywood bigwigs—John Goodman and surely to be nominated for a Supporting Actor Oscar, Adam Arken—to come up with a fake movie, one called “Argo”, that provides a cover for the 6 to be rescued. The story moves at a fast pace, and is over almost too soon. Its also very tense, and even though you are pretty sure that you know how it ends, you still find yourself a little nervous at the end as they are almost—almost—home free. The cast is fantastic, the dialogue is sharp and not wasted, and both Arken and Goodman provide some great comic relief to a suspenseful story. I loved this movie, and I chalk this and “The Avengers” as to very real candidates to be elected into The Dave100 in the future. Walking out of the theater, I told The Lovely Steph Leann, “I’d watch that movie again, like, right now.” Can’t ask for higher praise than that.

Looper… This movie gives me faith that there are, in fact, original ideas in Hollywood. Looper is the story of Joe (Joseph Gordon-Levitt… or is it Joseph-Gordon Levitt?), who is a “looper”, which means that people are sent back in time from 30 years in the future, and Joe, a looper, assassinates them. He collects his silver, and goes about his shady life, including frequenting a house of ill repute where Piper Pirabo is a dancer. Things go haywire, however, when the Future Joe (Bruce Willis) is sent back for Present Day Joe to kill—and Future Joe escapes. Suddenly, the chase is on and… and then, it becomes more than a cat-and-mouse chase movie. It becomes an original story of the future meeting the present, and it takes time travel in a gritty direction. Time travel isn’t looked on as this miracle feat, its illegal and an underground event used for bad things by very powerful people. And then, the wonderful Emily Blunt comes along, and then the movie goes in another completely different direction and… and its awesome. Everyone I know who has seen this movie tells me they didn’t think it would go the direction it did, but they are glad it went there, and I’m in the same boat. JoGoLevitt had prosthetics on his face to better resemble a younger Bruce Willis, and he studied Willis movies to pick up the mannerisms and facial expressions--and he succeeds.  Also has Jeff Daniels, who is turning out to be a great actor of our day.  Rated R for language and violence, and a random, probably unnecessary boobage scene with Piper Pirabo that could have been done just as well covering up her lady parts. Just my thought.

 A Thousand Words… The latest Eddie Murphy flick follows this trend of “fantasy type films”--Shrek films, Imagine That (where his toddler daughter makes financial decisions for him), Meet Dave (the little guy living in his head), etc—and its premise finds him as a slick tell-em-what-they-wanna-hear book agent who attempts to sign a mediation spiritual celebrity and winds up with a tree in his backyard. A tree that drops a leaf every time Jack says a word. At the end of the leaves, it’s the end of Jack’s live, which forces him to re-evaluate everything. The movie takes away one of Eddie’s biggest assets, which is his hilarious voice and line delivery, and doesn’t quite make up for it in his silent action. The first half of the movie is a comedy that its actually kind of amusing, but somewhere around the midway point, it takes a semi-serious tone as the movie’s message starts to come through and Jack begins to figure out what has been going wrong in his life. While its not the greatest Eddie movie ever (I’d give that to Trading Places, easily), its sorta funny and will do when you’re in a mood for something silly and at least attempting to be thought provoking. PG-13 for language.

The Five Year Engagement… Tom (Jason Segel) and Violet (the wonderful Emily Blunt) meet at a party, date and suddenly get engaged. And thus the movie kicks in, as we chronicle their relationship through struggles, jobs, watching other people around them get engaged and married, kids, family issues and more. Whether you like this film or not will depend on whether you like Jason Segel and Emily Blunt, because this movie rests entirely on their shoulders… and I think it is because of their chemistry that this movie works on a lot of levels. Like a real couple, they face the hardships of consequences that come because of decisions they make, especially when it comes to their careers. And there is, of course, temptation in the form of a college professor that has taken a shine to Violet in her graduate program. I laughed out loud several, several times and found the story to be engaging, entertaining and though a little “over the line” a couple of times, nothing like the gratuitous humor you’d seen in “The Hangover” and the like. We watched the “unrated” version of this, and its full of language and though there aren’t any nudie shots, there are a few sex scenes. Unrated for language.

The Vow… Okay. I’ll admit it. I kinda liked this movie. When married couple Paige (Rachel McAdams, who makes everything better) and Leo (the surprisingly charming Channing Tatum) get into an accident, she comes out with some sort of selective amnesia. And because of the amnesia, she doesn’t remember the fact she’s married to Leo, which means he now has to start all over with her. Throw in the fact that her family has never met him—and they already don’t like him—and therefore think they should be her caretakers, plus an ex-boyfriend who is actually the person she remembers dating and all the other travails of life, and all you can do is feel horrible for Leo. He’s a loving husband trying to win back his wife, who doesn’t know anything about loving him. It can be a little brutal, but it’s a good date movie. Rated PG-13 for language and some suggestive hanky-panky.

Harold & Kumar’s Very 3D Christmas… Don’t. Just… well, just don’t.

John Carter… Having heard about this movie, mostly from critics, I had a very low set for this film. The few people I knew that had seen it told me they thought it was okay, or pretty good or something like that. For the most part, critics hated this flick, and the box office returns were pretty terrible (Disney ended up doing something like an 84 million dollar write off, and expected to lose about 200 million in total from this movie). Having said that, it wasn’t a bad movie. It wasn’t great, but it wasn’t terrible. A sci-fi epic set in the late 1800s, John Carter is a Civil War vet that is transported to Mars and dropped right in the middle of a planet-wide war amongst the several different races where he goes from outcast and strange being to hero and warrior (of course). This took a while to get into, and while it never kept my full attention (I kept doing other stuff), it was entertaining, I guess. It’s a little overly long, and has more special effects and CGI than it probably should have, but there it is. Its not as bad as critics made it out to be, but not a great film. Just eh. PG-13 for science fiction violence and some language.

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter… So, you know when you are in high school, and like, there is the popular kids group that hang out together at lunch and at recess and such, and like, there is always this one kid who wants to be popular but just can’t quite pull it off, and he goes out and buys the right clothes and listens to the right music and tries to say and do the right things, but all the popular kids can see right through it and know that deep down inside, he’s still just that dorky kid, and they even make fun of the kid when his back is turned? You know, that kid? Well, that’s Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. This film wants to be The Dark Knight Rises and The Avengers and The Amazing Spiderman so, so badly—but its just the dorky kid who wants to be popular. What does that mean? This movie is kinda goofy, not in a good way, not in an intentional way, but in a way that it tries so hard to be the cool movie, but in its efforts, just comes across as something that isn’t very good, or very interesting.

What To Expect When You're Expecting... A huge ensemble cast, including Liz Banks and Chris Rock and Cameron Diaz and the choir guy from "Glee" and Jamie Foxx and I love Anna Kendrick and Dennis Quaid and J-Lo and Brooklyn Decker and its all about the highs and lows of pregnancy and it tells intersecting stories (of which Banks and Ben Falcone's are the best) of families and single parenting and unexpected babies and families and so on... and... wel... I hate to admit it... but... well I... uh... I mean... I... okay, fine... I LIKED THIS MOVIE.  I'm so ashamed.  PG-13 for language and adult situations.

Battleship... For all the talk about what a bomb this movie was, I gotta tell ya, its not that bad.  Well, like "John Carter", its not that great either, but I will say the re-watchability factor on this movie is much higher than "John Carter".  Seriously, its an alien invasion movie that is confronted by the warships from non other than our own US Navy.  Liam Neeson, though billed as a major character, is actually somewhat minor, while Taylor Kitch is forced to carry the film.  And Brooklyn Decker thrown in there for scenery, with some big dude with no legs.  Go figure.  Anyway, to watch this movie, you need to slog through the first 30 minutes or so... its terrible.  Bad acting, bad story, silly exposition.  In fact, the movie really doesn't take off until the aliens start coming down.  I can't tell you the payoff is grand, but its still sorta entertaining, if only because alien explosions in the ocean are cool.  And this is despite the face Rihanna is in it.  PG-13 for alien violence.

Prometheus... Um... well, its pretty good, I guess.  Ridley Scott returns to his Alien roots and does this film, a prequel of sorts to the Alien franchise, which by the way, if you've never seen Alien (my 111th favorite film of all time) or the sequel, Aliens (#60 on The Dave100), do yourself a favor and watch them both--the former is a horror film in space, the latter is a big sci-fi epic with a little bit of scary to it... anyway, back to Prometheus.  it is a little long, it drags somewhere in the middle, Michael Fassbender as the android David is pretty fascinating, and the special effects are good... Noomi Rapace is the lead, as Elisabeth Shaw, with Charlize Theron playing what would be the villain character, but she's not really evil, she's just self-absorbed.  Anyway, watch it to say you did, but don't build your expectations too high.  PG-13 for alien violence and language.

Jack & Jill... This is Adam Sandler's 2011 release.  This is the one where he plays not only his character, Jack, but also his twin sister, Jill.  This movie is a complete disaster.  I laughed once, but that was because an old lady got hit in the face with a soccer ball, and it was funny.  Beyond that... yeesh.

And Finally... a bonus...

The Sitter... Wow, this movie was crap.  Jonah Hill plays Noah, a slacker dude who lives with his mom and is just trying to score with his girlfriend, who really isn't a girlfriend at all, and just uses him for whatever she needs.  He is roped into a babysitting job where he is taking care of a little girl who looks straight out of Toddlers & Tiaras, a neurotic boy who is manic depressive, and an adopted kid who likes to set lots of fires.  Full of language and crude jokes and bad acting, this movie is a mess.  Richard Roeper called it the worst of movie 2011, and though I'm not sure I completely agree, I will say its pretty bad.  Full disclosure, when the kid peed on the dance floor and the old lady slipped in it, that was kinda funny. Rated R for being a crappy film. 

Next stop... Post 900.