Thursday, July 25, 2013

Adjustment Bureau, The

The Adjustment Bureau

When I saw the trailer for this movie I was excited. It reminded me of other “man behind the curtain” films that I like. The best one being, of course, “They Live” and another great one of “Dark City”. Those movies were fun and exciting and interesting and thought provoking. Yes, even watching Rowdy Roddy Piper have an extended fight scene over putting on a pair of special sunglasses was fun. This movie was...I'm sorry I fell asleep there. This movie was...*yawn*. Oh man, sorry. This movie made me feel how Matt Damon acted in it.

David Norris (Matt Damon) is a politician trying to get into the Senate when he crosses paths with a quirky girl, Elise (Emily Blunt). However, the men behind the curtains don't want the two to have a relationship because of some master plan. Also there's that one guy from Mad Men (John Slattery) in it and he kind of does things and Terence Stamp he kind of does things as well and Anthony Mackie kind of does things as well but they all kind of don't do anything...and they wear hats.

Grade – D+

Man “Dark City” was gritty and interesting and had a point and was thought provoking. It had drama, it had suspense, it had characters emote. Boy, how I wish this movie was “Dark City”.

Matt Damon barely has a personality in this. I've seen him act better in “Saving Private Ryan” where he seemed to care a little. Emily Blunt and him have no chemistry together. They get together because the story calls for it and you're told they should. I didn't find myself rooting for them, I just wanted to know more about the Bureau.

Well you kind of don't get anything other than probably angels with god. But this god seems to have a plan, but not the plan that seems like a plan, only a plan that isn't planned and you have to find that without planning for it and things and such. This movie tries to play both sides of the fence and it wind up looking foolish and silly. The overall scheme makes no sense and you barely see the Bureau at work. You also question why they work with special items and not just “do the things they want to”. Then there's the story of two lovers fighting against the universe to be together. All I could think of was that I hope Damon and Blunt are ok bringing about the next dark period of human history just so they can hook up.

Poor pacing, incoherent storyline, terrible acting, and I found myself wanting to fast forward through most of it. Go watch “Dark City”! Go watch “They Live!” This movie needed some major adjustments.


Taken 2

I loved “Taken”. In my opinion, that's the closest to a perfect action film as you can get. On part with “Die Hard 1,2 and 4”. Realistic, tense, action-packed, good characters without getting bogged down in back story; “realistic” is the perfect word to describe it. So, the big question for me was – can you repeat that? I mean, even “Die Hard 2” made fun of itself; heck, so did “Gremlins 2”. Does it sacrifice what made the first one any good for the sake of a sequel? Or is it on par with “Terminator 2” where the sequel is actually better than the original? Well...not quite.

Bryan Mills (Liam Neeson), the ex-CIA dad is in Instanbul with his ex-wife and daughter. The dead guys from the first ones have families who want to take their revenge on Bryan and his family and like all bad guys – they want him to suffer.

Grade – A

There is so much of this movie that I love with just a couple of flaws. First of all, we see character progression of Bryan. He is trying to change and it is evident from the first scene. Unlike a “Die Hard” or other action film, the character doesn't just reset himself so he can progress in the same manner as the first one. His wife, Lenore (Famke Janssen), isn't angry at him, but is trusting towards the man who rescued her daughter and she appreciates it. His daughter, Kim (Maggie Grace), is dealing with some PTSD but also isn't a stuck up brat like she was in the first film. She trusts her dad but is still a teenager. This put me on the right path.

The bad guys have a good motive. It's simple but understandable and like the bad guys from the first one, they aren't stupid because the plot calls for it. The hero doesn't mow through them quickly and they get their shots in. The body count is relatively low for an action film of today (30 DOAs). The hero doesn't have to mow through 100 henchmen to get to one boss battle before taking out the weak kingpin. “Taken” leaves that for Arnold and Seagul and Stallone.

The battle damage is realistic, the hero gets out of breath, cars don't just explode for random reasons, the tactics (both offensive and defensive) are realistic. I can't tell you how much I love watching these movies for the realistic tactics they employee. Bravo to the trainers and for the film directors who listen to them. The weapon play and fight scenes hold tension even when the perspective changes from the hero to the bad guy(s). The daughter gets to take an active part this time and now it's the mother's turn to do nothing. But, again, this is consistent with the growth and experience of the characters since the first movie.

As for the few flaws they aren't as nitpicky as my ones for “Taken” are. Some fight scenes and the driving scene employee the “get up too close” camera viewpoint when it's not needed. It wasn't needed in the first one, and it wasn't needed this time. The film seems quick even though it's about the same length as the first one. It doesn't seem like a lot happens and there are less changes of scenery and less characters than the first one (which is too bad because my favorite scene for Taken was the cop's wife getting shot in the leg – man I could watch that over and over again!). It would have been nice to see the pace slow down just a little bit and maybe add another act in the mix. However, the movie does a good job of holding tension and drama with just a slight hint of “James Bond villain slow kill douchebaggery”.

I was really scared going into this film considering how much I enjoyed the first one. My fears were elevated from me and I enjoyed this one as well. The first one still holds a special place in my heart. However, I can safely recommend this if you enjoyed the first one and if you didn't, then no one can help your horrible, horrible taste in movies.

Cabin In The Woods, The

The Cabin In The Woods

A horror movie, written by Joss Whedon? It has to be nerdy, it has to be well written, it has to have some actors from previous Whedon shows, and there has to be some kind of fresh twist – right? Ya, pretty much.

This movie has a different take on the “five friends go into the woods and bad stuff happens” horror trope we've come to expect. This is a B-movie within an A-type movie. I'm not spoiling anything seeing as the movie starts from a different point of view than what we've come to expect from these movies, but I don't want to go into too much detail. Just know that there is a full story and for half the movie you're watching a B horror film. It's pretty fun!

Grade – B+

This was a movie I had to digest to see how much I ended up liking it. It was definitely a fun movie. Whedon's hands are clearly all over this film and it's a lot of fun. It's a new take on the old horror clich̩ and unfortunately, that part of the movie is the weakest part Рand I think that's on purpose. It's fun to think that every horror movie in the world could potentially exist within this universe that Whedon has help make.

I really wanted to see more from the main story (Story A) and the playing of tropes is fun. It reminded me of watching “Scream” with it being a play on horror films...within a horror film. The character creations are great and I wish they would have taken longer on more Story A plot. It'd be nice for some flashbacks or some history; however it would have dragged the story down and the final reveal wouldn't be as fun. The pacing does move a little too quick and the ending is unexpected although maybe not for the best.

If you're a fan of horror movies, especially the B-horror “go into the woods and split up for no reason” movies, definitely check this out.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Silver Linings Playbook


Nominated for best directing, editing, picture of the year, lead actor, lead actress, supporting actor, supporting actress, and writing for the Academy Awards. The only one it won was for best actress for Jennifer Lawrence. So does Hollywood still know what it's talking about? Ehhhhh....

Patrick Solatano (Bradley Cooper) has gotten out of a mental institution after beating his wife's lover. Patrick is forced to live with his mom (Jacki Weaver) and Eagles obsessed father (Robert De Niro). Patrick is still struggling with his break of mental stability and is still obsessed with his wife. Through some friends he meets Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence) whose husband has died and she had a kind of mental break as well. Neither Patrick nor Tiffany have a filter on what comes out of them and they become friends. Tiffany agrees to deliver a letter from Patrick to his wife if he'll help her with a dance event. Their relationship, their relationship to their families and friends, and their own mental well being is tested as they both try to work to better themselves.

Grade – B+

Did this movie deserve to win more Academy Awards? In comparison with all the other movies nominated in 2013 – no way. Just by itself? Eh, not really. Did Jennifer Lawrence deserve to win for her role? In comparison with all the other nominated actresses – sure. Just by herself? No way.

The movie is good and well written. The dark humor is great and I almost felt like this is in the same vein of other movies like “Little Miss Sunshine” and “Lars And The Real Girl”. Robert De Niro stands out here and not being as silly as he is in “Meet The Parents” but he's not as stern as he is in...well...everything else. Cooper and Lawrence are good and their timing is good cringe worthy. They really don't have a filter on themselves and it's really fun to hear what they say in public. I have to say Lawrence winning an award for this role is the same way I felt about Angelina Jolie winning one in “Girl, Interrupted”. I just don't see what was so spectacular about it.

Describing the story doesn't make one want to see the movie. Heck, seeing the trailer didn't make me want to see it either. But the story is quirky enough and the characters are really fun to watch interact with each other. I'm really surprised I liked it as much as I did.