Sunday, July 29, 2012

Iron Sky Review


Iron Sky is a really easy movie to get right. Space Nazis. How do you mess that up? Just Nazis on the moon and invade Earth. Seriously, how hard is that to make entertaining? I mean its a movie about Space Nazis so we're not exactly expecting something on Schindler's List level of intelligence, but we're expecting an awesome alien invasion movie...were the aliens are Nazis.

First, Plot: its 2018 and two American astronauts go to the moon, one gets killed by Nazis who escaped to the moon after WW2 and the other, a black man, gets captured by the Nazis for studied. Some other stuff happens that I'll touch on later and the Nazis invade, then get beaten back, then destroyed, end of movie. Simple enough right? Standard alien invasion movie really, just with Nazi's instead of martians. How can that be difficult to get right?

You wanna know how you mess it up? How bout instead of tackling the subject with any sort of sincerity or seriousness you make it a stupid quasi comedy and have political undertones that are so ham-fisted and annoying that it makes Avatar look subtle.

This movie tries to be funny, it tries really, really hard to be funny, but its not. I suppose humor is a subjective thing, but...its not funny, its stupid. They try to make some sort of clever balance of serious and funny, but it fails. It fails so hard. Its not like Shaun of the Dead or Hot Fuzz (or anything Edgar Wright makes really) where yes its really funny, but you can take it seriously when it asks you to because its very well written and the characters are likeable and the humor is clever. Its just so stupid and the humor is so obvious and painfully unfunny that when the serious parts come you don't take them serious, the horrible attempts at humor takes you completely out of the movie.

If they had made this movie as a straight forward invasion movie and left out the awful, painful, forced attempts at humor maybe it could have been salvageable or at the very least worth watching. But it does have one more huge glaring problem.

I understand that some film makers feel the need to put political undertones in their movie, I don't mind as long as its subtle or clever and doesn't take away from the story, characters, or entertainment value of the movie. But this movie is so obvious and in your face about what its trying to tell you about the American political system that its insulting to my intelligence. There's not even an attempt at subtlety, they come right out and say it; Americans (or at the very least Republicans) are Nazis. Seriously, that's actually pretty much the whole message of the movie. Look, I understand that not everyone likes America, I get it and I respect those people's opinions because everyone deserves to have an opinion. But when you can't think of any intelligent way to attack America or the American political besides "They're all Nazis" that's when I don't respect your opinion. If you can't even put your thoughts about the American political system in more words than "Sarah Palin sure is dumb" or "Nazis" then well, your not very smart and maybe you shouldn't make trying to make fun of the American political system the WHOLE theme of your movie. Also Sarah Palin jokes aren't clever or funny anymore, they wore out around ohhhh I don't know when the Republicans lost the presidantial race in 2008 and she faded into the background and ceased to matter?

Besides those two giant flaws, this movies ok. Emphasis on ok. The actings...decent, better than the average low budget film, but still...just ok really nothing special. The writing is..well not that good really, but other than the aforementioned problems its adequate, it would have made a decent sci-fi invasion script, again without the two huge problems mentioned before. The directing is alright I guess, nothing special. Really, the only thing worth mentioning is the effects. Which are actually really good. A few here and there and kinda bad and obviously fake, but for the most part they're pretty excellent all around the board. For instance Space Nazi Blimps. Yes, it sounds stupid, but its awesome.

Over all this movie was hugely disappointing. I guess I don't really hate it, I just really really don't really like it very much. It had an insanely interesting and promising premise (Space Nazis for god sake) and just completely wastes it. If the film makers would have made any attempt to take the subject seriously and maybe, maybe used it to make some kind of commentary on humanity as a whole and how we need to better ourselves in the way we treat each other, then maybe it would have worked. But instead they decided to make horrible attempts at humor, incredibly forced romances (forgot to mention that part, trust me its terrible) like Anakin and Padme bad, and the horribly ham fisted and insulting political themes and completely ruin what could of been, at the very least, a fun and interesting invasion movies about freaking SPACE NAZIS.

Friday, July 27, 2012

The Dark Knight Rises Review..Sort of


Its no secret to anyone who knows me that I am completely gay for Christopher Nolan's Batman movies. They are easily the greatest comic book movies ever made and created a standard that all comic book movies now try to strive for. And yet no one as been able to reach the line that Mr. Nolan has drawn in the proverbial sand.

Nolan is a genius film maker, go watch anything he ever made and be prepared to be amazed. He has made great movie after great movie and shows absolutely no sign of stopping that trend. I love every movie he has made: Following, Memento, The Prestige, Insomnia, Batman Begins, The Dark Knight, Inception, and The Dark Knight Rises. All are great movies that entertained me from start to finish.

That being said I don't really know how to write an actual review of The Dark Knight Rises (which I'm gonna call Rises from now on). Sure I guess I could sit here and talk about everything, like the story and acting and such, but It'd be a waste of time. Just go see the movie, trust me it's worth the money. So I think I'm just going to touch on some things that I loved about the movie. Starting with Batman himself.

I have always like Christian Bale's performance as Bruce Wayne/Batman. Indeed I've actually liked pretty much everything performance by Christian Bale, man's a damn good actor. Go watch The Fighter or American Psycho if you want proof. But we're talking about Batman. Really the big problem everyone seems to have with his portrayal is the voice, and while I guess I can understand it, I personally have never been bothered by it. I can understand why people wouldn't like it, but it was never something that took away from the movie for me. Now, I do believe there are parts of the movie were it's a little weird for him to use the voice, i.e. the fight between him and Bane, considering everyone in the room knew who he was because Bane just said it I think it was silly of them to use the voice know, but I guess you could just chalk it up to him becoming Batman or whatever. Bottom line is I think Bale's great, especially during the scenes between him and Alfred, they played that up in this movie and it was pretty heartbreaking.

Michael Caine is perfect. Seriously, no one in the world could play Alfred better than him. He embodies the role, he's phenomenal in it. It might be his best performance ever. I know some people get all up in arms about how all he does is deliver speeches and what not, but again never really bothered me, also not Caine's fault since he didn't write the screenplay, and shut the hell up, he delivers those speeches perfectly. I never really understood why those speeches bothered people. Alfred's an old man whose lived a very long life, and what? You think he does have stories to tell or speeches to give? How many of you have a grandfather who will actually shut the hell up about when he was young? Also I would like to just hammer in the point that Caine delivers each and every one of those speeches absolutely perfectly.

I don't understand why everyone was mad when Anne Hathaway was cast as Catwoman. She's a great actress, why was it such a big deal? Whatever the reason it's completely moot after watching this movie because she is awesome. Her switches between damsel in distress and cool, smooth burglar are perfect. She does a great job in the action scenes and her character is an interesting one. She plays the part exactly how it needed to be played and is a fine addition to the already phenomenal cast.

Gary Oldman's awesome. What else could I possibly say? He's my favorite actor, he absolutely demolishes every role he's in. He's perfect in freaking everything. His role as Gordan is no exception, he perfect, he's always perfect. They did something different with Gordon in this one, for one he plays a much bigger role and is given more screen time, which made me happy because Gary Oldman, they also made him kind of world weary. Like he's been through the war against the criminals and won and now he kind of wishes it wasn't over. He's wracked with guilt about covering for Dent and helping make him look like the hero he totally wasn't. And it shows. Gordan's awesome and so is Oldman.

Here's the big one though, Bane. I loved Bane. He might have been my favorite part about the movie. I loved how they made him a huge hulking beast, but his voice is very intelligent. Maybe he's not comic Bane, but he's Nolan Bane, which is just as good if not better. Tom Hardy is amazing. This will be the role that lands him so many roles in the future. He plays every part of the character right, the mannerisms, delivers every line spot on, and he's intimidating as all hell. I have to give Tom Hardy props for gaining like 30 pounds of muscle that made him the hulking beast he is in the movie. He's exactly the villain we believe can best Batman, even if only for a little bit. I won't go into what I think about the whole Bane being controlled by Talia thing because I have a friend who put it into better words than I ever could.
Check it out here:
I would just like to point out the scene where we see Bane and Talia on screen together and the look in Hardy's eyes in that scene, some amazing bit of subtle acting.

I could go on and on about things I like about this movie. From the awesomeness that is Joseph Gordon Levitt and how I hope they make a Robin movie with him and all the other supporting cast members who do a great job. I could go on about Nolan's stellar directing and the writing. But what I want to point out is two instances in the movie which really stood out to me. both are two scenes were there is a distinct lack of musical score were every other movie in the world would have used it. The scene where Alfred quits and the scene were Batman fights Bane. Most directors would have used a score especially in the Alfred scene, but not Nolan he chose to let the emotions play out themselves and didn't use the score to try and sway your emotions, and damn does it work, that scene is heartbreaking as hell and it doesn't even need a sad musical accompaniment. The other, Batman fighting Bane scene, most movies use a score during fight scenes to make it more epic. Not Rises and not Nolan. The only soundtrack to this scene is the thudding of fists and the grunts of exertion. It is brutal. And it works so much better without any music.

So, is the Dark Knight Rises a perfect movie? Nope. There are things here and there that could have used better explaining, but I didn't mind them that much, I was to busy enjoying Batman. I also think Bruce Wayne should have died at the end. If you've seen the movie you know what I mean. It would have worked better if he would have sacrificed himself, or given the city everything he had if you wanna put it like that. But besides all of that stuff I love this movie. Its long, but not once did I complain or even think about it. And Nolan's directing is as amazing as it always is and all the element, I think, combine to make a fantastic movie. I think I still like The Dark Knight more though. But just by a little bit.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Skipping Around Time

                Traveling through time was always a tricky thing. For a long time everyone said it was impossible. Then the scientists came out and said they found out how. They asked for volunteers, to test the effects on people, I signed up immediately. I mean come on. Who wouldn’t? Everyone has dreamed of traveling through time at one point or another, for me that was a huge fantasy of mine, I grew up as a fan of the Back to the Future movies, so time traveling looked awesome. But, if there’s one thing anyone who’s ever seen a time traveling movie knows, it’s that you have to be careful, small actions can cause ripple effects though time and something can get seriously messed up. Anyway I signed up for it; they did a lot of tests before we got to the actual time traveling. Physicals, blood tests, so many more tests, endless it seemed. Days of testing, after all the tests I was approved, millions of people sign up and I was one of 30 people to get chosen, probably because I had little family, just my dad and one sister. We signed paperwork sating we couldn’t sue in the event something goes wrong, blah blah blah, we were told that in the event if something did go wrong our family would get an insurance payment. I didn’t care I just want to time travel, inside I was like a happy little kid on Christmas. Time travel, it’s been my dream. A dream I’ve held on to since I was 8 years old. It was going to be amazing.
                There’s one thing you need to know about time travel, that no matter how magical and amazing the thought of it is, you have to remember one thing; it is the single most terrifying thing you will ever go through. They took us into a room, a completely dark room and told us to wait. We waited, we waited for what I could of sworn was hours, but I don’t know because they took our watches and cell phones, anything  that was electronic or used batteries would be completely destroyed they said. So we waited and waited and waited. Then suddenly, this time ball of light, no bigger than the tip of my pinkie finger, appeared in the middle of the room. They told us it would happen, but no of us were prepared for how suddenly it happened. It wasn’t there one moment and then the next, POOF!; there it was.  The light grew bigger and brighter. It blinded all of us so naturally, we turned around. The light slowly crept up on us, slid past us until the whole room was enveloped in it. Then all of a sudden, you’re not in that room anymore your somewhere else, like a void. It’s completely white all around you and it’s just you, no one else, just you, and it is the most painful thing I’ve ever felt. It feels like everyone of your limbs is being stretched and yanked on. Your stretched, like people shouldn’t stretched, until your stretched body fills the entire void as far as you can see; and then you’re gone.
                Screaming. That was the first thing I heard when I came into consciousness. I opened my eyes slowly and immediately shut them due to the intense light. After a few seconds I slowly opened them again, squinting against the intense light, sunlight I thought, and saw a figure rolling on the ground a few feet away, obviously in terrible pain. I crawl my way towards the strange person, realizing from the brown shirt, on which I could barely make out an Aerosmith label, that it was one of the men from the test. I reach him and grab on to him telling him it was going to be ok, but no words came out, just a grunt. Confused I tried again and still no words, but this time I realized what was wrong. I reached in my mouth hoping to feel the familiar squishy pink thing that helped me pronounce, but there was nothing there. Panicking I freaked out for a moment, mourning the loss of this important, but unloved up until now, tool before trying to help the screaming man again. I turned him over and held him down and flinched in horror at the sight of him. He was missing half of his face, like it was scooped clean out by a giant ice cream scoop. I could see the inside of his skull and blood was gushing out, I didn’t know what to do. I watched as that man, whose name I didn’t remember and still to this day do not know, bled to death in front of me. I sat in stunned silence before getting up and slowly walking away, not knowing what else to do. An hour, that’s how much time they said we had before we got sucked back into the present, or I guess it was technically the future at that point. The only things that would get sucked back were us and any items we were holding at the time, as long as that item wasn’t electronic, and people couldn’t come back. I walked through a field, just a plain boring field, for about 10 minutes until I came across a small town. I walked through the town to the single gas station and got a newspaper out of one of the free newspaper stands they have. Front page: October 2, 1998. Holy hell…it worked. At that moment I felt it again, that horrible agonizing pulling and found myself back in the featureless white void. Then it was over, and I felt the cold floor on my face. A light turned on, I was back in the room, everyone was dead, except for me. I clutched onto the newspaper.
                People ask me if I would do it again, and without ever thinking about it I always say yes. My name is Jonathan Britten, I am 28 years old, I was born in Chicago, Illinois and I am a time traveler. How many people can honestly say that?

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Adulthood Review

File:Adulthood poster.jpg


Adulthood does something amazing in the fact that not only is it just as good as its predecessor, its actually alot better. While the first film had good acting and good writing, the direction lacked the personal feel the movie needed. Kidulthood would have been alot better if Noel Clarke would have directed it, like he did Adulthood. His direction fixes every problem the direction of the last movie had, where the last movie seemed distant and afraid to get close, this movie gets the camera into a position were it feels alive, and uses hand held camera work to its benefit.

Adulthood picks up six years after the end of Kidulthood. With Sam Peel (Noel Clarke) being released form jail for the murder of Trife. Upon being released he rides a bus to a park and is attacked by a man, Sam beats the man up and the man tells him he and his family are in dang from Jay (Adam Deacon). The rest of the movie follows Sam trying to protect his family by stopping Jay and any other threat, and Jay trying to find Sam so he can kill him.

The characters of Adulthood are what make the movie. While Kidulthood had some decent character development for the character of Trife, every other character is pretty underdeveloped. This film expands on the characters of Sam, Jay, and Moony exponentially.

Side characters first; Claire who is Sam's ex-girlfriend, is in a relationship with a better man and seems to be leading a better life. Alisa, Trife's girlfriend from the last film, is now a single mother and berates Sam for the actions he has cause, mainly taking Trife out of his son's life. Lexi (Scarlett Johnson) who is Becky's(from the first film) sister, and is addicted to drugs, provided to her by Jay. And finally, Omen (Jacob Anderson), Dabs (Ben Drew), and Blammy (Don Klass), a trio of friends who commit crimes together. Dabs is hired by Jay to kill Sam, and knocks out Blammy when he argues and recruits Omen (who turns out later to be Sam's brother) and another friend to kill Sam (he doesn't tell them who he is) by telling them he was the one who hit Blammy. They catch up with Sam and Omen finds out who Sam is and they turn on Dabs and Sam knocks him out.

Now Jay, Jay was one of my favorite parts about the first film not because he was a fascinating character in it, but because Adam Deacon brought the character to life. He plays the part even better in this film, conveying Jay's lack of self-esteem in his exaggerated walk and his angry attitude. Jay seems to have become even more violent and confrontational than ever after his friend's murder. The murder seems to have affected him deeply and watching his best friend being killed has messed him up and turned him into an angry, violent, almost psychopathic drug dealer. While becoming more outwardly violent he is secretly traumatized and mentally broken by his friends death which is brought into life by Sam at the end.

Moony didn't have a very big role in the first movie, he was just kind of a lackey of Trife and Jay's. He doesn't have a very big role in the film either, but his character grows alot with the short time he is there. On the complete opposite spectrum of Jay, Moony has dropped his pretend gangster persona and is going to college and has a steady girlfriend, even going by his real name, Robert. While heavily affected by his friend's death, unlike Jay, he learned from his friend's death and decided to change his life. He goes to school, he works, and treats his girlfriend with respect. Partway through the film Jay recruits him into finding Sam by playing the emotions of Trife's death against Moony. Moony soon realizes that this isn't what Trife would want and quickly backs out, opting to go back to his girlfriend.

Sam has one of the greatest character arcs I've seen in a long time. You hate Sam at the end of Kidulthood, HATE him, because you spent the whole movie identifying with Trife and getting to know and like him. Then Sam kills him, and you hate him for it. Then this movie does what I thought was the impossible. It makes you like Sam. Sam has spent 6 years, and spends the entire movie, regretting what happened, he hates what he did. There are many flashbacks to him in prison and it shows him coming to the realization that no matter how big and hard he thinks he is, he isn't that big. He thought he was tough, but quickly realized he wasn't. He spends the whole movie trying to protect his family, not even really with violence, which he no longer seems to enjoy, but by talking. All he wants to do is talk to the people behind the threats so his family isn't hurt. Every now and then he gets angry and yells at someone or threatens them, but you can tell his heart just isn't in it anymore. He learned his lesson, and he'll never forget it.

The ending to Adulthood is perfect, for the movie. Sam is outside his apartment after getting rid of the threat, besides Jay. When he's walking to his door, Jay appears and attacks him, they fight no one really winning with Sam knocking Jay's gun away. They separate and Jay goes for his gun while Same goes for a bat he hid earlier. The end up getting both at the same time and Sam drops his bat while Jay points the gun at him. Sam starts talking about how he won't do it, not because he's weak, but because he is just like Sam was. Pretending to be hard and tough, but not willing to commit murder. He tells Jay about his time in prison and shows him the scars where he was stabbed, beaten, and where he tried to commit suicide. Jay eventually breaks down and Sam throws away his gun. He starts walking into his apartment when Jay tells him it isn't over. The film ends with a montage of what how the characters are, including a message received by Sam from Lexi telling him she wants to change. It doesn't clarify that the fighting between Jay and Sam is over, and it shouldn't of.

The ending plays out perfectly and sums up the whole film nicely. (there was quite a bit I left out) Over all Adulthood is a near perfect movie to me. The writing and directing from Noel Clarke is top notch, improving ten-fold on the previous film, especially the directing. The performances given by leads Noel Clarke as Sam and Adam Deacon as Jay are astounding. They embody their character from how they speak the lines to how they move and act. The character arc of Sam Peel is one of the best I've seen in a while, you go from hating him at the end of the first movie to feeling sorry for him and then finally liking him. I would definitely say watch this movie. I would suggest watching the first movie before it, but it isn't that necessary considering this film explains what happens pretty nicely, but its better if you watch the first one. A fantastic movie that not only matches it sequel, but does the near impossible and surpasses it on every level.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Kidulthood Review


So apparently Mickey from Doctor Who makes movies...about violent drug using, swearing, sex crazed British teenagers. Wouldn't of called it. As I write this Noel Clarke has written three movies that I've seen;  Kidulthood, Adulthood, and, and directing the latter two. They all deal with similar themes such as the violence and hardship of growing up poor..and British.

Kidulthood has several characters the main three being Trevor known as Trife (Aml Ameen), and his friends Jay (Adam Deacon) and Moony (Femi Oyeniran). They're the kind of teenagers who cause trouble, swearing at people and loudly chatting up every girl they see in a loud obnoxious manner, except for Trife, while he participates in the hooliganary he also seems to be the only one who can be smart about stuff. Two more characters are Trife's ex-girlfriend Alisa (Red Madrell) who is pregnant with his baby and her friend Becky (Jaime Winstone). Bully Sam Peel (Noel Clarke) also pops in every now and then to torment characters, helping to drive a girl, Katie, to suicide at the beginning, which sets the events of the rest of the movie in motion.

So, Katie commits suicide and school is cancelled for the day, a party planned for that night. The three main characters Trife, Jay and Moony decide to dick around for the day. Going and stealing a few beers and deciding to steal their Gameboy back from Sam, who had stolen it from them earlier in the movie.  While there they steal Sam's weed, Jay has sex with his girlfriend, and when Sam comes home they hit him over the head, kick him in the face and run away and accidentally knock his mom down. They do other hooligan things to kill time and Trife goes to see his Uncle Curtis, who is a criminal. His Uncle tells him to cut a man's face, he does and then runs away.

Alisa and Becky actually do less with their day than the other three. The go to a mans house perform sex acts to get drugs, which they do. Then they go to another house were Becky has sex with a man for money so they can buy dresses for the party. They run into Jay and Moony, who had a fight with Trife, and Jay tells Alisa that Trife doesn't want her or the baby. Becky goes with the boys to the party why Alisa heads home, on the way though she runs into a classmate who manages to talk her into going to the party.

Trife arrives at the party and finds Alisa. He confesses his love for her and tells her he wants her and the baby, in return she tells him she never slept with Sam, which was a rumor started by Sam that Trife believed. Sam then arrives at the party and attacks Trife with a baseball bat. Alisa gets Jay and Moony and in the fight Sam threatens Alisa, which angers Trife and he attacks Sam beating him to the ground. He stops beating Sam when Alisa tells him to and he walks away. As he is walking away Sam hits him in the stomach with the bat, he falls to the ground critically injured. At that moment Katie's brother Lenny (Rafe Spall) arrives looking to kill Sam for his part in his sister's suicide. He is about to shoot Sam when Trife tells him not to because "he is not worth it" and Lenny walks away. Sam insults Lenny who turns around and shoots him, but the gun explodes in Lenny's hand, he then drives away and Trife dies before police or an ambulance can get there.

The movie is written extremely well, with interesting characters, especially the growth of Trife, and fast paced dialogue. The direction is good, but a little too good, the camera's movements seem to crisp and clean for the grittiness of the subject matter. The acting is pretty good across the board with special attention paid to Aml Ameen and Adam Deacon. Trife and Jay are the most interesting characters in the movie. Trife acts tough, but is also a good guy, defending the bullied girl in the beginning and eventually residing to his fate as father before his murder at the hands of Sam. He seems to be much smarter than most of the other people in the movie and could of had a promising future. Jay is almost the exact opposite of Trife. He's violent and quick to anger with alot of the situations in the movie leading to his temper snapping. It's not over the top either, it seems like a person with a genuine anger management problem. He acts really tough, but its easy to tell its an act.

Over all this is a pretty decent movie. The writing is very good with a few inspired performances, but the direction is too clean. The movie has a very dark and gritty tone and the direction should reflect that, but it doesn't its crisp and clean and seems distant. Another problem is that the characters are all supposed to be about 15 or 16 with the oldest being Sam at around 18 or 19, but the actors look nowhere near their ages. Also, if you don't understand really heavy British accents I would try and find subtitles. When all of the elements of the movie combine it turns into an alright movie, worth a watch if only because it leads to its infinitely better sequel, Adulthood.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Moonrise Kingdom Review



I would pay so much money to be in Wes Anderson's mind. It seems like a strange other worldly place that no one else on Earth could understand, but man would it be a hell of a ride. I've only seen 1 Wes Anderson movie before Moonrise Kingdom which was The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou. Which while I liked it, I thought it could have been alot better.

Moonrise Kingdom is about two 12 year olds who conspire to run away together and do just that. They are Sam Shakusky (Jared Gilman) and Suzy Bishop (Kara Hayward). They are chased by Suzi's emotionally distant parents Walt and Laura, played by Bill Murray and Frances McDormand. Suzi's parents seem to love her and care for her as parents do, but at the same time they are distant and don't try and emphasize with how she feels. They're also chased by a troop of scouts headed by the well meaning, good natured Scout Master Randy Ward (Edward Norton) and the simple, slightly dim-witted police chief Captain Sharp (Bruce Willis) who is having an affair with Suzi's mom.

This movie is gorgeous. The directing is absolutely fantastic with nice smooth camera movements, especially pans, Anderson LOVES to pan the camera. The locations are beautiful and nice to look at, with nature being almost another character. The pacing and editing is brilliant making the movie almost seamless and one scene flowing into another, with makes the 90 minutes fly by. I almost wish it was longer so I could see what happens to the characters and how they grow even more.

The characters are brilliant. With the two leads being amazingly written. Never have I seen such expertly written kids, the actions they take seem like actions that children would take, planned out but not too planned out, they have a general sense of what they want to do, but never stop to consider the consequences of their actions. The movie treats them like adults and their dialogue especially reflects this. The kids are probably smarter than most of the adults in the movie. The love between Sam and Suzi is treated by the adults as child love, like the kids don't understand what they're doing. But the movie doesn't treat it like this. It treats it like real love between two human beings, many a scene is between Sam and Suzi bonding and figuring out more about each other. What are their hobbies? Why did they want to run away? What are their flaws? The movie tackles all this in a respectful manner, not once does the movie suggest that their love is false or childish, it treats it like genuine love and that works greatly in its advantage.

The supporting characters play out well. The police Captain is dim-witted and despite the affair is a nice guy who worries about the safety of the people he watches over, even adopting Sam at the end of the movie. Edward Norton's scout master could have easily been the villain of the movie, but instead he's just a guy who greatly enjoys doing what he does and is really worried about Sam, he wants nothing more than to find him and make sure he is safe. Really the film doesn't even have an antagonist. Besides maybe one of Sam's fellow scouts, but really the parents, nor the police captain, nor the scout master are villains in any sense of the word. Their good people who just want the kids back safely, they are doing what any good parent or authority figure would do and they don't do it with evil intent.

The setting is the 60s...or at least Wes Anderson's version of the 60s. His movies, from what I've seen, remind me of a David Lynch movie. Where, yes, technically they're set on the Earth at some point in our time, but it always feels like its in another dimension. Eveything is just sort of other worldly, like its here, but a different here, like Suzi's house. The dialogue is like this too. The children in this movie speak like adults. They say things like extremely intelligent adults who know exactly what they are discussing. And that, along with the strange setting, work completely to the film's advantage, giving it it's own unique feel and look.

I loved this movie. It was funny, charming, and quirky, but not quirky like they're doing it on purpose to appeal to some sort of demographic, but quirky because it is, its just how it works, the movie wouldn't of worked if anyone else had done it. It takes a mine like Wes Anderson to make this movie the right way. Its funny enough to laugh at, but not too funny to where you don't take it seriously when it gets serious.

If your like me when you heard the plot you probably thought it was silly. Yeah right two 12 year olds in love? They don't know what they're doing there's no way it'd work. But your wrong, as was I. Moonrise Kingdom destroys that notion. Is it a flawless movie? Probably not, if you or I or anyone looked deep enough I'm sure something would be found, but you know what...I don't want to, watching this movie was an amazing experience for me, I enjoyed every second of it, at no time was I bored or disbelieve it. Its an honest movie, what you see is what you get and what I got was an excellent time and I hope you do too.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

The Android and the Chamber (short story)

         The following is a short story I wrote for Chuck Wendig's weekly flash fiction contest. You can check out his website here: I highly recommend you do.       

The noticed android walks past a wondering chamber. What did that mean? John had no idea. That was the sequence of words that popped into his head as he creeped over the wall. Androids weren’t even real. They were the things in movies that tried to take over the world as a plucky band of survivors tried to stop them. And how does a chamber wonder? What the hell was wrong with his mind? Fear maybe. He had been a thief for years, but the fear of getting caught never went away. What would happen? Would he go to jail? Or would the house he got caught in belong to a trigger happy redneck (aren’t they all trigger happy?) and would he be full of more holes than James Caan in The Godfather?

                Whatever the case androids weren’t real and chambers couldn’t wonder. But those surveillance cameras were real. John ducked down behind the fountain as the camera rotated toward his position. He waited a few moments before creeping around the side and hiding under the camera while it was turned away. As the camera rotated back around, he dashed across the courtyard and tried the side door. It was unlocked. Why were rich people so trusting? Was it because they thought people wouldn’t dare break into their home? Or did they think the security cameras would protect them? Or whatever just him in the back of the head?

                John woke up to a bright light shining directly into his retinas. Instinctively shutting his eyes so they didn’t melt out of his skull, he squeezed them tightly shut before slowly opening them again. He was looking directly at the back of a head. Confused John tried to talk, but nothing came out. He realized he was gagged with a filthy tasting piece of cloth. After a second he realized the back of the head was turning, ever so slowly it seemed, until it was looking him in the eyes. Not the back of the head of course, it was facing the other way, but another pair of eyes looked directly in John’s. They stared at him for a few seconds, then turned around and walked out of the room. Confused John tried to call out again before again realizing he was gagged. Stupid memory. Another man entered the room, a different man, John could tell because he had a different pair of eyes. Why so obsessed with eyes? Because John couldn’t move his head, every time he tried a sharp pain shot through his skull until it felt like it was going to implode.

                The new man sat down a small box on the table in front of John, and opened it. Inside were a lot of different, but sinister looking sharp, scary things. Not good. The man did not waste time. He was starting to realize he had never been tortured before when the pain hit him. He could feel the knife being pushed against his skin, could feel the skin giving away to the sharp blade like butter and felt the blade scrape against the bone in his finger. The pain was unimaginable. He had never been tortured before and judging on how this was starting, he never wanted to be tortured again, that was if he got out alive. Abruptly the man stopped. John opened his eyes and looked at him. He held something in front of John’s eyes and it took him a second to realize it was a strip of his skin. That is messed up. Who cuts of a piece of someone’s skin and then dangles it in front of them? A torturer I guess...yeah, that makes sense, but still...messed up. The man smiled a horrible little smile and took out John’s gag.

                “What do you want?” John asked quickly, lest the foul tasting rag be shoved back into his mouth and he would have to deal with that along with the excruciating pain emitting from his left hand.

                “You were going to steal from me.” The horrible little man said in his horrible little voice. He had a point John supposed, but that didn’t change the fact that he was torturing John and that was messed up.

                “So why are you torturing me?” Waiting for a reply, John took stock of his surroundings. It was a room. That’s about it. A room, no window, four walls, the horrible little man was framed in the doorway, who using rope, had tied John to an upright table with his arms pinned to his sides.

                “You were going to steal from me.” The horrible little man repeated in his horrible little voice. “No one steals from me, I like my things, I want to keep my things.”

                “Well then, keep them. I don’t want them anymore, they aren’t worth it.” The pain was terrible, John could barely speak, he could feel his finger screaming with pain, begging to be fixed, but being tied to a table and all John was in no position to fix it.

                “Oh, I plan to, but you can’t leave now. It’s been a while since I’ve had any fun, my family didn’t last too long you see, and no one breaks into my house much anymore.” The hell was wrong with this guy? Was he a psychopath? Yeah…seems like a safe bet what with all the torture and all. Did he just say he tortured his family? What the fu-…did he have kids? No, wait, scratch that I don’t wanna know. Anyway, John blacked out from all the blood loss,probably, not a doctor but blood loss would be my guess. Seriously…his own family? What the hell?

                John woke up to numbness. He couldn’t feel anything anymore. The man had cut off more of his skin and John had probably gone into shock, I guess, would make sense at this point, but I’m not a doctor so don’t quote me on that. Anyway the man untied one of John’s arms and put his hand on a gun and his finger on the trigger, and then raised it to John’s head.

                “Pull.” The horrible man said in his horrible voice.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Savages Review


I've decided I'm not that big of an Oliver Stone fan. I liked JFK, thought i was interesting and well acted, and I liked Platoon. But both could have been alot better if Stone would of kept politics out of it. I like Platoon, but the anti-war message in that movie is overbearingly annoying. I think it would of fared alot better if they had focused just on the loss of innocence instead. I liked JFK, but its an extremely biased movie with attention payed only to one side.

Savages isn't really political. Its just phenomenally disappointing. I was looking forward to it, as much as i started to hate the trailer, but the trailer is a lie. It makes it out to be this balls to the wall action movie and its not, its kind of like what happened with Tarantino's Inglouirous Basterds, where the trailer makes it look like an action-packed extravaganza even though it isn't. But where Basterds is awesome, Savages just kinda..flops around like a dieing fish.

There isn't much to say about the plot so lets get it over with. Ben (Aaron Johnson) and Chon (Taylor Kitsch) are two friends who make pot. Really good pot apparently. They are both in love and sleep with O (Blake Lively). She is kidnapped so that Ben and Chon will work with the Cartel run by Elena (Salma Hayek) with her enforcer Lado (Benicio Del Toro). Ben and Chon, and later revealed Lado, are aided by FBI agent Dennis (John Travolta). Ben and Chon go to great lengths to get O back and they succeed living their days happily in Indoneshia (I think, doesn't really matter).

I really only wanna talk about the characters. Lets start with Ben. Ben is a hippie, that's really the best way to put it. but he isn't one of the lazy hippies who just sit around and smoke weed and complain. No, Ben tries his best to help. He goes to Africa to help kids there learn and put in wells and such. Hes a Buddhist and doesn't like violence, all around a pretty good guy for a drug manufacturer and dealer. Unlike alot of movies where once the action starts the previously violence hating protagonist goes along with it without a care, Ben can't stand violence. The first time someone is killed in front of him he has a breakdown and they have to pull over during their getaway because he has to puke. This doesn't change, all through the movie when there's violence Ben is appalled. I like that. It makes him seem like a real person and his reactions the grisly and horrible things happening around him seem like the reaction most people would have. Ben, unlike Chon, is also completely willing to get out of the drug game. He wants to try and make a cheap solar panel to help people without power get it. Aaron Johnson is a great actor and brings this character to life very well.

Chon is a thug. Again, best way to put it. He was in two tours in Afghanistan or Iraq, one of the two, doesn't really matter. And along the way somewhere he "lost his innocence", he is completely unfeeling when it comes to violence and has no problem hurting or killing others if it benefits him, Ben, or O. There isn't alot to say about him, he wants to stay in the drug game so him, Ben, and O can make more money. He is the reason i don't buy the love triangle thing with him sharing O with Ben. He is almost constantly angry and basically bleeds aggro. I have a hard time believing he wouldn't get jealous. I've only seen Taylor Kitsch in one other movie and that's John Carter, in both this and that he does a fine job and seems to be a promising young actor.

Elena runs the Cartel. Honestly, I think a movie could have been made about this character and it would of been much more interesting. She was married to the Cartel leader, and when he was assassinated she took over his duties, two over her sons were assassinated, and her other son hates her for taking away his power in the cartel. Her daughter wants nothing to do with her and she is surrounded by violent and power hungry men. That movie would have been much, much better than this one. Detailing her life and how she coped with the power and loss of pretty much every single person she loves. It helps that Salma Hayek is awesome and does a surprisingly great job and being threatening.

Lado was my favorite part, and Benicio Del Toro gives the best performance of the movie. A movie based on this character would of also been much better than Savages. Why is he so ok with the violent actions he takes? What made him this way? Was he born a sociopath or was he made into one? How does he know John Travolta and why are they so chummy? What's their story? That would of been a much more interesting movie.Throughout the entire movie Lado remains, calm and collected and is not only okay with doing horrifically violent things to people, enjoys it. Del Toro steals almost every scene he is in and demands attention in this role, hes threatening and calculating and could probably make a better Cartel leader than Elena.

You don't learn alot about Dennis. His wife is dieing of cancer, he has two kids, and works with both Lado and Ben and Chon. He has a very minor role, but Travolta does a good job with it.

O is the person I really want to talk about. O is short for Ophelia, named after the character form Shakespeare's Hamlet, and Hamlet being the only play by Shakespeare I actually genuinely like I had hoped Stone would do some clever metaphors with it, but no, he does not, the movie even points out that its a reference to Shakespeare , but nothing becomes of it. I hated this character. She is so annoying and almost pointless. She literally only serves to drive the two leads Ben and Chon. She is irritating and bratty, even demanding better conditions when being held prisoner by the cartel. I don't like Blake Lively in this movie, she isn't very good and her voice is like nails on a chalkboard, which sucks because she narrates a good portion of the movie. She does absolutely nothing worthwhile and contributes basically nothing in way of character development or arc. Unlike Ben and Chon where, even though I still think there would be jealousy, they seem to genuinely care and love O, I didn't buy her. She seems like that wishy washy girl who can't pick one guy, but instead of just giving up and picking one she somehow convinces both of them to sleep with her so she doesn't have to make any sort of hard decision. She's a spoiled brat who smokes weed because her parents don't care and she uses that as an excuse to be worthless. Salma Hayek even points out a one point that she hasn't thought of her future and probably won't be able to do anything if she doesn't go to college just because she doesn't feel comfortable in an "institution", seriously her words. She is useless, pointless, stupid, nothing becomes of her character, she learns nothing, and she is mind bogglingly annoying. They tease us with the whole "just because I'm narrating the story doesn't mean I'm alive" thing, and by the end of the movie you actively wish for her death. And they make you think she dies at one point, but no she doesn't that was a tease.

Despite how much I actually liked Ben and Chon and felt like they were close as brothers, I wouldn't of cared if they died. There's a tease ending before the real ending where Ben, Chon, and O die, and I was watching it and I realized...I didn't care, yeah I liked Ben and Chon, but not enough to care if they died.

Oliver Stones a good director, the movies shot well and there's a certain style to the action scenes that I liked, but the movie is paced horribly. And I mean terrible. Its written and directed like it's supposed to be fast paced and exciting, but it limps and clunks along at a dreadfully boring pace. Its 2 hours long and it drags for those two hours, my god does it drag.

Over all I didn't care for this movie, it's directed well enough, but paced dreadfully and the writing is not very good, it tries to be witty with metaphors, but they don't really work. The acting is good and I liked the lead characters, but not enough to where I cared if they lived or died. I hated the female lead and a good portion of the movie is spent on her. So, all and all this movie is a huge disappointment. I feel like there was a good movie here, I feel like if they had a different director and writer that this movie could have been much better, but alas this isn't so and in the end I would say pass.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Amazing Spider-Man Review

WARNING: Spoilers.

This was a movie I looked forward to from the very beginning. As soon as the announced a Spider-man reboot with Andrew Garfield as Spider-Man i was hooked. Andrew Garfields a great young actor and Marc Webb is a great up-and-coming director.

I like Sam Raimi's Spider-Man movies...for the most part. I liked the first one, thought it was a good introduction to the character for people who hadn't read the comics and as silly as the green goblin's costume looked Willem Dafoe was great. But I like the second one even more, most because Doc Ock is, and continues to be the best villain out of all the movies. but I, like most, found the third movie to be almost completely terrible.

As much as I like Sam Raimi he has a habit of being very over the top and silly, not that its always a bad thing, alot of the time its welcome and fun. But his Spider-Man movies were just overflowing with it. This movie doesn't do that, besides the odd one liners here and there the over all tone of the movie is pretty serious and stays that way.

Peter Parker's (Andrew Garfield) parents dropped him off with his grandparents, Aunt May (Sally Fields) and Uncle Ben (Martin Sheen) when he is a little and disappear. Jump to the future and Peter's now in high school, a photographer and genius, who's constantly bullied by the school bully. One day he finds some of his fathers old thing in the attic and is drawn to a man named Dr. Curt Conners (Rhys Ifans) who was an old colleague of Peter's dad.

Conners is experimenting with genetics splicing, especially that of lizard DNA, to grow back the arm he lost. He tries it on himself and something goes wrong and it turns him into the Lizard. Along the way Uncle Ben is murdered by a thief who Peter lets get away from robbing a gas station, and Peter is bitten by a spider and given powers. He builds himself a suit and gadgets and becomes the vigilante known as Spider-Man. He gets a new girlfriend Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone) whose dad is Police Captain Stacy (Dennis Leary).

Lets start with the villain. Rhys Ifans is an actor I want to pay attention to now. Dr. Conners/ The Lizard isn't really a well developed character, but Ifans does alot with the little he's given and makes the best out of it. He isn't the best comic book villain, and not the best Spider-Man villain, that honor still being held by Doc Ock. But hes a decent one and Ifans does a good job.

I like Emma Stone, I think she's a very good actress. Good at being funny or serious she can make any terrible film almost worth watching (see Easy A for an example of this). She plays a good Gwen Stacy, miles better than Bryce Dallas Howard who played the role in Raimi's Spider-Man 3. But she seems to be kind of shoved to the background for alot of the film, which makes sense as this is a the reboot of a franchise and it was a good idea to put more emphasis on the lead character.

Dennis Leary is great. Really he is. I knew he was a good actor from the little bit of his show, Rescue Me, I've seen, but he is excellent in this movie. He plays the part of Captain Stacy convincingly and seeing him die (see told you Spoilers) at the end is truly heart wrenching because I would of liked to see him come back in the sequels.

The best part about the movie though, Andrew Garfield. He really hits home with this role. He plays Peter with a certain vulnerability and shyness that you can identify with, but is just enough of a tough guy were you believe it when he starts fighting crime. That was the thing about Raimi's movies i never really liked, I never thought Tobey Maguire was very good, I always thought he was very bland and I never really bought into the whole him being a crime fighter thing. But here I believe it, because Garfield is a fantastic actor and makes me believe it. When he's witty its funny and when he's serious its gut wrenching, with the scenes of him grieving over Uncle Ben's body and Captain Stacy's death scene drawing particular merit. Garfield brings a realness and sincerity to the role I never though Maguire had. I guess if I had one complaint it would be that he looks to old to still be in high school, but his performance is awesome and I barely noticed it. Plus the movie gets extra points for making Peter considerably less whiny and angsty than before. Even when he is angsty its understandable because unlike in the Raimi movies, we actually see Peter with his dad. We see ihm and his dad playing as a kid. So when he grows up and is upset about it we sympathize with him because the movie took the time to show us what his father meant to him.

Marc Webb is a great new director with a surprisingly good flair for action. The action scenes are shot very well with the shots lasting long enough to be able to understand whats happening, and only getting really chaotic when he shoots the Lizard, which fits well. Some of my personal favorite shots are the POV shots we get from Spider-Man swinging threw the city.

All in all I really enjoyed this movie. The main roles are pretty much perfectly cast, and the side roles such as Martin Sheen and Sally Fields are great as well, especially Martin Sheen as Uncle Ben. Despite having a sort of weak villain The Amazing Spider-Man is an expertly made movie with some people who seem to genuinely care about what they are doing. Garfield is an excellent Peter Parker and Marc Webb is a great director.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Ted Review

 Family Guy is a...hit and miss show for me. Personally I'm a much bigger fan of South Park in that whole fight, but I do like Family Guy. I think Seth Macfarlane has alot of talent and is a funny man, but Family Guy kinda got really old. Its pretty much become a parody of itself.

Bu Ted...Goddammit.....Ted is great. I don't know what happened to be honest. Like I said Family Guy isn't that funny to me anymore..but Ted..Ted is hilarious. Seth Macfarlane makes joke after joke after joke, every situation piles itself on top of itself and pretty much every joke hits home.

It helps that a like Mark Wahlberg as an actor. I think he's alot better than people give him credit for and I look forward to seeing him in movies. Mila Kunis is also a favorite of mine. I never liked That 70's Show, but her other work, Family Guy included, is good. So, she adds a good performance and Giovanni Ribisi plays a really, really creepy part, but its really funny so it works too.

But the best part about this movie, by far, is Ted. Makes sense right? He's the namesake of the movie and Macfarlane gave him the good jokes. Well, pretty much all the jokes in the movie are good ones, but Ted gets the really, really, really good jokes. Really just the fact that all these filthy, raunchy, adult jokes are coming out of the mouth of an adorable fuzzy teddy bear is a joke itself.

As a kid John Bennett (Mark Wahlberg) had no friends, even the bullied Jewish kid makes fun of him. But he gets a teddy bear Christmas, names it Ted, and makes a wish that it comes to life, and it does. Ted becomes a national sensation, but through everything he never forgets John. And flashforward to John at 35 and he's still best friends with Ted, who is a washed up celebrity, with a girlfriend (Mila Kunis). They get into shenanigans and blah blah, and along the way they meet a creepy guy, Ralph (Giovanni Ribisi), who was obsessed with Ted as a child.

Macfarlane pulls all the punches with his film debut. Pretty much every joke hits home and it had me laughing till I couldn't breath more than once. The best part is Macfarlane doesn't stop with one joke in a situation, the jokes keep coming and the situations keep getting more and more insane. It all accumulates to a scene where Ted, John and Flash Gordon (yes the real Flash Gordon from the original TV show) do coke and start doing a ridiculous amount of stupid things.

Eventually shit goes wrong as its known to do and Kunis dumps John. Stuff happens and Ted is kidnapped by the aforementioned creepy Ribisi. The scene where Ted is in Ribisi's house with his piece of shit kid is probably the funniest in the movie (after the whole doing coke with Flash Gordon scene), its joke after joke after joke and its great.

All and all Ted is the funniest movie so far this year. It might be one of the funniest movies I've scene in a long, long time. The jokes are hilarious and never stop. It never gets bogged down with the emotional stuff and every actor does a great job. Macfarlane was at the top of his game with this movie and I hope he does more. Also, extra points to the hilariously random Ryan Reynolds cameo.