Monday, April 29, 2013

Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog (Joss Whedon, 2008) Review

You could argue that this isn't technically a film. Why? It was originally an online mini series...but it was compiled into one long movie so that's good enough for me! My very first review was Avengers Assemble so I think it's finally time to return to Joss Whedon's work with this little indie hit. Does it deserve the cult following that it has or is it just another pretentious film...sort of film? Let's find out.

Dr. Horrible (Neil Patrick Harris) is an aspiring super villain who has his own video blog. We is contacted by  Evil League of Evil and is tasked with having to kill someone in order to be inducted into the league. He decides to set up a plan in order to kill his superhero rival, Captain Hammer (Nathan Fillion). Things change, however, when Horrible falls in love with a girl named Penny (Felicia Day) but trouble brews when Captain Hammer also takes interest in her. Horrible has to kill Hammer but still get the girl.

I can certainly appreciated the fan base and, while I do enjoy for the most part, there are some problems that I have to address. I know I will get killed by this but I didn't find Felicia Day all that...good. She wasn't exactly up to the standard that was set by the other cast members (Neil Patrick Harris is great and Nathan Fillion is glorious) and there are a few...I guess duff notes (after Les Miserables, I guess I can't really complain but at least that was justified).

Okay, onto the good. Nathan Fillion is the best of the cast members and creates a very enjoyable character. This is also linked to some very informal dialogue which gives for some memorable and quotable moments. Joss Whedon clearly knew what he was doing when he made this and has certainly come far since. For a small project, it looks pretty damn good with some interesting looking sets and props as well as some good special effects.

Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog is an ambitious little film with some pretty good talent involved. The songs are great (Brand New Day being my personal favourite) accompanied by good actors (for the most part). Joss Whedon's direction helps move the film along. There was also a book released showing behind the scenes footage (which I have here) which makes the film that much more admirable. Good work, guys!

For the most part, it's an enjoyable little project with so great talent and likeable songs from the directing mind behind Avengers Assemble...that was unrelated but I thought that would convince you people to watch this. 

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Iron Man 3 (Shane Black, 2013) Review

It's time to review my very first film from 2013! I was looking over the films of this year and, frankly, I'm pretty disappointed considering how amazing last year was. I will admit that this was one of the only films I was looking forward to and, since we get it before America (revenge for Wreck-it Ralph, I guess), it's finally out and it's time to take a look at Iron Man 3...with a new director. Lets see how this goes.

After previous attacks on Stark Industries, a new villain, The Mandarin (Ben Kingsley), decides to attack Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) personally. Tony decides to take it into his own hands by tracking down those responsible for attempting to destroy his life. Tony teams up with his friend James Rhodes (Don Cheadle) in order to take down The Mandarin as well as look into what Aldrich Killian (Guy Pearce) is up to.

I don't want to spoil with details but there is one moment where I just got so mad at the writers (while in fits of hysterical laughter...sort of a mixed reaction)  where I felt it was a twist waaaay to far (or not far enough, depending on your perspective). Warning to die-hard comic fans...YOU WILL BE PISSED OFF! Now with that one thing out of the way (taking off a point for it), we can look at the good stuff, and believe me...there is ALOT of good stuff (so much so, that it swamps over my main rant point).

The writing in this film is fantastic and insanely funny (insane is definitely the right word for that). The humour is spot on and had me in fits of laughter, even the bit that pissed me off (THAT...takes effort). Robert Downey Jr. does an incredible job in his iconic role to the point that he has become Tony Stark. Even the side characters become more involved and more developed. JARVIS (Paul Bettany) and Happy (Jon Favreau) get much more involved in the story (which is great, by the way) while Don Cheadle and Gwyneth Paltrow prove their worth. The soundtrack has also been ramped up to a memorable level. It's not up there with Avengers Assemble's soundtrack but hot damn is it good! It ascends things from the previous films and actually makes the series stand out and, with the change in director, breaths new life into the series. Give the writers an Oscar...please (the Academy screwed me over this year so please me, for once).  Even the action has been ramped up (the finale is epic)!

Iron Man 3 is what the previous films should have been. The writing is amazing, the actors do a better job than before, the soundtrack is memorable, the action is mind blowing, the narrative is brilliant and I'm all out of complemental adjectives. Watch this, and you will be crying of laughter. It's unpredictable and I had no idea where the film as going which leads to some great moments. Iron Man 3 is a refreshing film as its rare to find a film with this level of humour that all comes from dialogue and delivery. Go! Watch this now! 

Exactly what I wanted from an Iron Man film. The writing and humour is spot on and the actors put so much effort into the film.

Also, stay after the'll not regret it!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

The Hunt (Thomas Vinterberg, 2012) Review

RANT WARNING: This review contains a deep look into my inner psyche and the human race should be prepared for a telling off. Minor spoilers ahead. You have be warned!

Oh my. I think I've opened a part of my brain that I wish never to see again. I feel awful. I think this is going to be a very different kind of review as I feel there is more to discuss about the topic and my response rather than the film as a whole. Don't worry, I have points about the film but there are just some things that I need to address due to...not exactly personal (the plot of the film has never happened to me) but just a topic that hits home hard for me.

A nursery teacher named Lucas (Mads Mikkelsen) lives a lonely life as he tries to win custordy rights to his son, Marcus (Lasse Fogelstrøm). When a small situation occurs one day a nursery (and I mean small... minuscule, in fact), one of the students, Klara (Annika Wedderkopp), tells the headmistress a lie about Lucas. The lie slowly grows and grows until Lucas becomes a pariah, shunned by the town. Things get worse when it begins to affect his family. Now Lucas must face up against the town and wait for the truth to be revealed. 

From the disclaimer and introduction, you probably think I despise this film. No. Actually, I but those down because of my response to this film. Injustice makes me truly sick to stomach (Game of Thrones certainly reinforced this) and having a whole film focused on this can only turn me into a cold, heartless monster. The characters that are created and how they respond to the situation disgusts me. It tells me that I dispise ignorant, bias parents who believe that children are Gods among us who will have no one dissrespect them. This kind of ignorance angers me and had me screaming at the film (okay, maybe less than screaming) due do the thoughts these people had. They are completely irrational and blinded by their children. I may spoil a bit but when Klara tells her mother that she made it up, she tells her that Klara just wants to block out the memories! THAT'S THE ONE TIME I WANTED THEM TO LISTEN TO HER! The spread of the lie is, frankly, disgusting and they don't even try to get the other side of the argument. I won't spoil this, but there was a single instance where I just had to stop and say "that's it. My faith in these people is all gone". It makes me hate ignorant or irrational people, children, parents, hypocrites and only leaves my small level of sympathy for people who are wrong accused. (I'm so sorry for that last part, it's not literal but you get my point). For me, injustice is a hot button issue as is people defending their children with no thought on the other side of the story. Ignorance is out there, people. Be very, very afraid.

*deep sigh*. All right. That's out of my system. I'm sorry. So what about the actual film? Well, Mads Mikkelsen does an excellent job as Lucas as be gains my sympathy and trust. It's hard for a character in this situation to do this but Mads does this perfectly. Another great actor is Thomas Bo Larsen who plays Lucas' best friend Theo. Klara is his daughter so seeing him mentally fight between defending his family or friend is excellently done. The writing is also well done but the occasional scene where the language switches from Danish to English is really jarring and didn't really need to be done. Aw well.

The Hunt, while not a perfect film, is definitely one that everyone needs to see. The amount of social commentary is scarily relevant and the thought of this happening may teach you to be unbias in a situation like this. The moral of this review is be rational with this sort of thing and think things through logically rather than what the majority of ignorant people think. I'm sorry for this very deep review but there was a lot that spoke to me in this film. I jumped the shark but I'll be back to my cheery old self for my next review (which will either be Argo, Iron Man 3 or The Mask). See you next time.

A deep film with a message that hits hard. The acting is excellent but some moments small moments are a bit unnecessary.

(Yes, I am aware I said "Injustice" and "Gods among us" in the same review. Purely a coincidence, I can assure you)

Monday, April 22, 2013

Night at the Museum 2 (Shawn Levy, 2009) Review

Robin Williams was memorable as Teddy Roosevelt, don't you think? No? Okay then, that's fine considering  that the writers of the first film clearly didn't care about him anymore. Ah well, it was only naturally for a...reasonably popular film to get a sequel (who am I kidding, every film gets a sequel). Well then, let's see if the sequel can redeem some of the major flaws or maybe make them ever worse.

Larry Daley (Ben Stiller) has become a successful inventor, making ideas he had in the previous film, and is doing pretty well for himself. For a bit of nostalgia, Larry visits the Museum where he worked as a nightguard and runs into his old boss Dr. McPhee (Ricky Gervais) who tells Larry that a majority of the exhibits are to be stored in the Smithsonian. Larry returns home to recieve a phone call from Jedidiah (Owen Wilson) telling him that they are trapped by the Egyptian monarch, Kahmunrah (Hank Azaria). Larry must now infiltrate the Smithsonian and save the exhibits from Kahmunrah's wrath. 

Yes, this film actually has a plot. Now that is definitely a step up from last time and the idea of placing the story in the Smithsonian was also a great idea. It offers much more imaginative scenarios (such as Kahmunrah's henchmen being Al Capone (Jon Bernthal), Napoleon (Alain Chabat) and Ivan the Terrible (Christopher Guest) and a cameo from Darth Vader and Oscar the Grouch). There are also some great new characters such as Amelia Earhart (Amy Adams) and a brilliantly portrayed General Custer (Bill Hader). They were certainly more memorable than Ben Stiller who is still being...Ben Stiller. Even Hank Azaria brings his normally comical self to the film which offers some humorous moments. 

Naturally it's not all good. Firstly, Robin Williams is reduced to a one scene cameo and it basically wipes out most of the characters from the first which bugs me a bit and, while Hank Azaria was enjoyable, he wasn't exactly what the film was looking for. He kind of stuck out. I will admit the the humour can be a bit strenuous at times at is definitely not for everyone. It's not perfect but, hey, it's not trying to be.

Night at the Museum is a slight improvement over the original with the most notable addition being an actual plot and some during funny and epic (no, seriously) moments. It still has some problems left over from the original but I can see there was some more effort put into this. The general consensus is that the fist one is the better film but I just can't bring myself to agree. If you didn't like the first, this isn't going to change your opinion but, for what it is, I like it enough.

A slight improvement over the original but it isn't exactly going change your opinion on the first film.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Night at the Museum (Shawn Levy, 2006) Review

Who wants to see a film where Robin Williams is in-between his two styles (comically and serious). I'm not really sure what he's doing in this film but, hey, I'm not going to complain. Well then, lets see a film with a casting director who is...interesting. Why? Let's find out

Larry Daley (Ben Stiller) is an unemployed, divorced father of one child. His son Nick (Jake Cherry) is disappointed in him so in order to win his son's respect back, Larry decides to get a job at the local Museum.  When gets the job of night watchmen at the Museum but notices something strange about the Museum. At night, all the exhibits come to life. Larry meets a statue of Teddy Roosevelt (Robin Williams) who teaches Larry about how to maintain the Museum and keep the exhibits. 

As I was writing the synopsis out, it dawned on me what one of the biggest problems is. Until the third act, there isn't really much of a plot. It's just an excuse to show off what they can do with the setting and premise (albeit, a very cool one), It may not sound like much but that's a significantly huge problem for a film to have. I will say that the premise is nice and enjoyable but I'm not sure if that justifies the lack of  a real plot. 

Ben Stiller is playing Ben Stiller, let's move on. The side characters are quite enjoyable to the film's credit. Owen Wilson and Steve Coogan make a likeable duo of cowboy and Roman with offers some excellent moments due to their tiny stature (they're tiny models) and Robin Williams is naturally enjoyable as Teddy Roosevelt. It's also nice to see Dick Van Dyke and Mickey Rooney in a modern film so there's that too.

Night at the Museum is an enjoyable film with a cool premise in a nice setting with likeable characters and a great cast. The glaring problem though is the padding and lack of clear plot. It just seems like all it is doing is building up towards a sequel...a sequel that exists and I will probably review next. On it's own, however, it's flawed with nice things dotted around it.

While there are likeable characters and cast members with a good premise, the lack of a clear narrative sort of ruins it.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Chicken Little (Mark Dindal, 2005) Review

I think I've hit a new low. I feel dirty just for talking about this film. Help me. I think you all know what's coming next. Those who have seen this film know exactly what I'm gonna say about it and why I make these accusations. Have I set up this film enough yet? I must sound pretty damn bad from the way I dread it. Is this correct or am I just being dramatic? It's probably both but let's find out anyway.

Chicken Little (Zack Braff) is a young chicken (obviously) who ends up ruining his reputation after causing wide spread panic with his claims that the sky is falling (it was just an acorn...). After this, his father (Garry Marshall) tries to distance himself from his own son and now Chicken wants to win his father's love back. It turns out though that technically, the sky is falling, since aliens are apparently planning on attack the planet. Now it's up to Chicken and his friends to save the world...yeah, only half of the is from the original story.

This film sucks. There we go. This really sucks. Would you actually believe when I say that this is a Disney 'classic'. Yeah. This was made by the same studio that made The Lion King and Aladdin. This fact alone depresses me. This is the second CGI Disney film (what? You forgot about Dinosaur?) and was the one that started the trend of CGI Disney films (Meet the Robinsons, Bolt, Tangled and Wreck-it Ralph shortly followed) which begs the question why? It doesn't even look that good now!

The characters are terrible and generic. Chicken and his friends are the typical rejects with nothing unique about them at all thus making it boring too. Te only thing that I guess is unique is the design of the aliens but the annoyance of them and a stupid plot twist squanders this. The character design is crap (unforgivable from Disney) and the secondary characters are far too mean. It's a level of mean that makes you want them to get killed by aliens, which therefore gets rid of the suspense...what little there was.

Chicken Little is the lowest Disney has ever been. The plot is stupid, the characters are bland, the character design is poor and the only thing that's the least bit unique is ruined. I guess the voice acting is good and there are a few entertaining moments (the mayor gets a few) but all in all, this makes me question Disney's thought process.

Disney's worst animated film. There is so much wrong with to a point that it manages to ruin the good bits.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Terminator 2: Judgement Day (James Cameron, 1991) Review

So it appears we've approached a film that is often considered the best. It's always up there (check IMDb for clarification) so I guess we have to hit this head on. I previously thought that the first Terminator was good however there were some flaws that stopped it from being one of the greats. A sequel can either hinder the film even more or improve on the mistakes prior. Judging by the response, you can guess which one this is. Let's take a look at Terminator 2.

After the failed attempted of assassinating Sarah Conner (Linda Hamilton), another Terminator known as the T-1000 (Robert Patrick) is sent to kill Sarah's son John (Edward Furlong) instead. With Kyle Reese gone, the only person left to send back in time is the previous Terminator (Arnold Schwarzenegger), however it is sent to protect John from T-1000 rather than kill Sarah. Now the Terminator, Sarah and John must set aside their differences to stop the T-1000 from succeeding.

As you can tell, the major difference (other than dropping 'The' from the title) is the role reversal. Now the Terminator is a protagonist rather than an antagonist. This was a great decision as, not only do we get to see more of him therefore developing the character, but we also grow to like the Terminator. The film is significantly longer which allows for more time to develop things further which is something I feel was lacking in the original.

This film takes more time to focus on more of the scare factor. Sure, this isn't a horror film but it's much more chilling than the first mainly due to the T-1000 and Robert Patrick's great performance. Arnie was clearly a robot but Patrick's T-1000 is more covert and manages to blend in insanely well which gives a feeling of paranoia since it could be anyone. More time and effort was put into this film and this quality of writing, casting and performances clearly shows that (why hasn't Robert Patrick done more stuff like this?).

Terminator 2: Judgement Day is a much improved sequel. It develops more of what the original film helped created and then some, it shifts the tone a bit to add more suspense and tension, there are some very memorable performances such as Arnie and Robert Patrick and the narrative gives the original a run for it's money. I can see why people but this so highly on the top movie lists. It's easily one of the best sequels of all time, that's for sure.

An improvement of the problems of the original as well as additional content that raises the bar while it's at it.

I also hate to be "that guy" but we hit 30,000 page views!.....I'm sorry....

Saturday, April 13, 2013

The Terminator (James Cameron, 1984) Review

Did I say I would do another true story? Yeah, I couldn't think of one so...there is this film. I reviewed quite a few Arnold Schwarzenegger films (okay, two) a while back so I figured its only right that I do more. Because I can't think of anything else to do, let's take a look at what is easily Arnie's best film, The Terminator...I should have done an "I'll be back" well.

A cyborg known as the Terminator (Arnold Schwarzenegger) is sent from the future in order to stop a war in the future. To do this, the Terminator must kill Sarah Conner (Linda Hamilton), a woman whose son becomes a leader of a rebellion. In order to stop the Terminator, the other side of the future war sends back a man named Kyle Reese (Michael Biehn) to assist Sarah. Now Sarah and Kyle must destroy the Terminator before it destroys them.

The first thing that sticks in my mind is the admiration I feel for the writers. They clearly know how to keep their focus on a topic. Lots of films try to cram too much in and it therefore loses focus however this comes at a price since you could argue that the film is too short. I'm not going to disagree but I feel that it let things develop well...okay, a BIT too quickly but that's more down to pacing problems. The focus is great but it's at war with the film's pacing.

Arnold Schwarzenegger gives one of is best performances in this film. While he may be enjoyable in films where he's shouting gibberish or is being delightfully hammy, he really excels at playing an emotionless robot. His intimidating look helps drive this point. The other actors also do a good job and create characters who get the job done. Sure, their performances aren't exactly memorable but they certainly personify the emotion of a situation well.

The Terminator is certainly a game changer for the sci-fi genre that also mixes a bit of horror too (stop frame animation is 100% scarier than CGI any day). The writing is pretty good due to it's focus and also the characters that are created (that's also helped by some good acting). I guess the biggest problem is the pacing as it goes by waaay to quickly.

It keeps it's focus and also makes so great characters. Arnie is at his best but the pacing makes things feel to quick.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Milk (Gus Van Sant, 2008) Review

Have I ever heard of Harvey Milk? Speaking as white, British, heterosexual male...I have not (focus on British and heterosexual). I can appreciate his work but this film was the first time I've ever heard of him. That's right, we're doing two true stories in a row. I might as well do one for Friday too just for the heck of it. Well then, let's take a look at the life of Harvey Milk in Milk.

Upon reaching his 40th birthday, Harvey Milk (Sean Penn) and his boyfriend Scott Smith (James Franco) leave New York in order to start a new life together in San Francisco where they set up a camera shop that ends up becoming the centre point of San Francisco's gay community. Harvey realises his calling and decides to go into politics in order to get the word about gay rights spread across the country. His chances of being voted for public office increases when he learns that another politician, Dan White (Josh Brolin), may help Harvey's cause. With the support of the gay community and potential help from Dan White, Milk continues Harvey's journey into politics. 

I am absolutely clueless when it comes to American politics...hell, when it comes to ANY politics but I can safely say that the film does a great job of making Harvey to be a likeable person. I can't really defend the film on whether or not it's accurate in it's representations but I'm tackling his as a film lover and Sean Penn does a good job of portraying a, supposedly, likeable person. He won an Oscar for this, damn straight. The side characters (I feel bad for calling real people characters but...hey, it's a film) are also pretty good. Can I also say that every time Josh Brolin plays a character based on someone, he always looks just like them (See Men in Black III).

I guess my only complaint about the film is the structure  It's set up with Harvey looking back on his life (and even ruins the ending in the opening...then again, history has ruined it too) and it seems to lessen the impact that certain events make. The ending is done excellently but it's hard to appreciated when the set up of the film has sort of spoiled it. It might just be me but I think the film would be just that little bit better if it was a straight line.

Milk is a great look into the life of a (I assume) revolutionary man.  Sean Penn is at his best here and the supporting cast isn't far off (I'm sure they've done better though). The structure is really the only aspect that hinders the film but it's more down to personal taste. If you're up for a film that's perfect for emotive responses  this is one for you.

Sean Penn brings on a powerhouse performance for a film whose only really problem is it's structure.

Monday, April 8, 2013

We Bought a Zoo (Cameron Crowe, 2011) Review

What do you mean that Matt Damon is an action star? This...this is not an action film, not that I wazs expecting it to be, but I guess he's allowed to play against type every now and then (why was he even in Happy Feet Two?) Aw well, let's take a look at a true story film...that might as well be it's own genre (it probably is) and yes I realise I'm padding because I can't think of an intro. It's Matt Damon in a family film. Let's take a look!

Benjamin Mee (Matt Damon) is a father of two who has recently lost his wife. He wishes to start a new life elsewhere and does so by buying a new house for his family...a house which comes with a zoo. Yeah. Benjamin gets to know the staff there including Kelly Foster (Scarlett Johansson) who basically runs the zoo for him. His brother, Duncan (Thomas Haden Church), despises his decision and tries everything to get him to sell the zoo and move on. To make matters worse, the zoo has to prepare for an inspection from Walter Ferris (John Michael Higgins). 

Going into this film, I thought it would be just another stupid family film. I was wrong. This is definetly a feel good film which is refreshing because all films have to be gritty in order to be good apparently. Not always, and this is a reminder of that. The actors do a good job of making likeable characters (with the exception of one...okay maybe two) and you become invested in what happens. It's what you would come to expect from a family film with Sandman and Black Widow...errr...interesting casting (they get the job done so I can't really complain).

Any flaws? I guess the most I can do is nitpick. There aren't any glaring problems with the film. All I can say is's good. It's nothing ground breaking or game changing but it's a nice film that is a perfect family film.   This is a heart warming film that is definitely a feel good film. It's even a suspenseful film because I had no idea where this film was going! That's even more weird because it's based on a true story. That's great writing!

We Bought a Zoo was a nice surprise that I didn't see coming. I thought it would be a stupid kid film but it surpassed my expectations. The cast do a good job of making likeable characters that you might even be able to relate to...probably because they were based on real people. If you're up for a feel good film then this is definitely one you should check out.

A feel good film that does a pretty good job  making likeable characters accompanied by great writing. There isn't anything that is truly amazing though.