Friday, September 23, 2016

Movie: Bad Words (4/5 stars) 2013

I have to say, I'm a Jason Bateman fan. He's consistently funny, can do serious, is likable sometimes, unlikable others and always good, even if the movie isn't. The little kid, , is such an innocent foil to Bateman's bad guy as well - a superb casting.

In "Bad Words", Bateman plays Guy Trilby, a miserable, genius who notices a loophole in the American spelling bee system that allows him to compete. So, he works his way through the spelling bee championships from local to state to nationals.

The inappropriate behavior with the other competitors (all children) is completely hilarious. The only weakness for me is the ultimate reason why Trilby is in the competition, but that's a minor thing and the entire movie is worth your time.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Movie: Pacific Rim (1/5 stars) (2013)

Oooo... smelly! If you want big, giant, atomic robots fighting huge, dinosaur-ish monsters that spit acid and produce EMPs, you're getting what you want. If you want any kind of acting, directing or story-line, sorry, don't bother.

I love  as a director. I've enjoyed Hellboy II: The Golden ArmyPan's Labyrinth, and even pieces of Blade II (that does NOT count as a recommendation!). That being said, he  has a few issues and a few misses. This is one of them.

For such a good director, I find that there are all these looks, from the Martial to the pilot, from the pilot to the the ops guy and so on and so on... Looks - you need a "look" to convey meaning and seriousness, or humour or whatever. So awful!

And, just like so many other movies, there are great special effects. Of course - who has bad special effects these days? No one. I noticed that almost all the scenes with the giant robots happened in the rain, so they could show that, yes, we've come far enough to do believable rain falling off giant, metal robots. WE CAN DO IT FUCKAS!

Ug! Hated this movie. Bad, bad, bad. Of course - if you want giant robots, you've got them!

Movie: Man of Steel (3/5 stars) (2013)

Wasn't it just last year that we saw a bullet bounce off Superman's eye in "Superman Returns"? Really, do we need another one of these? They did it with Spiderman (badly) in "The Amazing Spiderman", which could have used a miss. I digress.

There's lots good about this movie. The main cast, , is pretty much perfect as Superman. No one has ever been better suited. The special effects are superb, as good as they have to be to completely fool us into seeing and believing the situations. Loved the space ships, the scenes on Krypton, how smart Lois Lane was in finding out who this guy ways and so on and so on...

On the other hand, really, you don't just make a movie because you have a good cast and some special effects? Everyone has good special effects - bad ones almost don't exist any more. So, why do you make this movie? To tweak Superman's powers? To re-cast General Zod ()? To not have Clark Kent as a reporter? What? Really... there's no need.

Some spoilers, all revealed in some dumb things about the movie:
- the Krypton atmosphere affects Superman's powers. This is a guy who can fly in space, orbits the earth in the movie, all under his own power. I think the guy could probably hold his breath for a few minutes. 
- Very inconsistent display of Kal-El's powers. At one point, he's struggling to fight a couple of guys in battle exoskeletons, and then he's weakened by the Kryptonian terraformer and STILL managed to smash through it like a meteor. No damage to Superman at all.
- Jor-El (played by ) fights Zod a couple of times and takes him out pretty easily. Zod says a couple of times how he's trained his whole life to be the ultimate warrior, genetically selected and trained to be the head of the military. Jor-El is the chief scientist. Yet, somehow, he still kicks Zod's ass. What is that about?

Anyway, fun enough to watch, but I doubt I will again. Good casting and acting throughout, really good special effects. It could used better writing and a bit of consistency and thought in the rules of the world.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Movie: The Guard (4.5/5 stars) (2011)

One of my favourite movies of 2011, about an uppity Irish policeman, Gerry Boyle (Brendan Gleeson), forced to deal with an FBI agent (Don Cheadle) arriving to investigate $500 M (Half a billion. Is that street value?) worth of smuggled drugs.

Gleeson is awesome in this movie - not that he isn't always awesome, but he's given some of the best lines ever and they are delivered with complete seriousness, for example: "I thought only black men were drug dealers. And Mexicans." and "Now I know what you're thinking. You're thinking, these men are armed and dangerous, and you being an FBI agent you're more used to shooting at unarmed women and children..."

The FBI agent could have been anyone, but Don Cheadle does a good job of being the fish out of water in a small, Irish town where people just don't want to speak English to him. 

Hilarious comedy - worth watching. It's a real sleeper.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Movie: The Prince of Egypt (1.5/5 stars) (1998)

The Prince of Egypt is the story of Moses, starting as a child in a basket floating down the Nile (because the Pharaoh was killing Hebrew babies to control the population), to a young prince of Egypt, having a bit of fun, playing practical jokes with his adopted brother Rameses and eventually discovering his history and then being chosen by God to lead his people out of Egypt.

Things I thought were done well: I liked the voices and the animations, as well as the visual choices for some of the miracles and plagues. This is nothing less than a star studded cast,  Val Kilmer  (Moses AND God - not quite sure what the message was with that),  Michelle Pfeiffer  (Tzipporah - Moses' wife),  Sandra Bullock (Miriam),  Ralph Fiennes (Rameses),  Jeff Goldblum  (Aaron) and  Patrick Stewart (Seti) all do good jobs as their relative characters.

A few annoyances - they state at the beginning that they are faithful to the original story, however, leave Aaron out of the scene with the staff-to-snakes when Moses visits Ramases to free the Hebrews. I have no idea why. They also show Moses as regretful of the various plagues - sure, any normal man would be, but there is nothing of that in the original story.

The rest of the awfulness of the movie comes with the story itself. It's even more creepy/evil told as a children's story in cartoon form. It's obvious from the movie that God can pretty much do anything he wants to, but rather than free the slaves earlier, or even prevent the slavery from happening at all (I assume hundreds of years ago), he puts generations of Jews through torture for some reason before choosing Moses to free them. Also, he could free them in lots of ways that doesn't involve plagues like killing first born innocents, or drowning thousands of soldiers under the Red Sea who are just following orders of their king. No, no - none of that reasonable behaviour. Instead, he decides to really do some damage and kill people who haven't done anything wrong at all. It comes across as evil and more than a little petty and vindictive for a being who is essentially omnipotent. It's just a sorry, sorry story of an evil super being who doesn't care about people at all and doesn't mind a little pain and suffering.

Unpleasant movie to sit through and not worth the cool animations and the good voice acting to get there.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Movie: Drive (3/5 stars) (2011)

Ryan Gosling plays an unnamed driver in this 80's throwback thriller. 

I was amazed at how 80's it felt, with pink script for the starting credits and heavy, 80's style music. On top of that, there are lots of long, quiet shots with two people not saying much at all, which feels older.

There was lots good in the movie. I like Gosling and he had good supporting actors, especially Bryan Cranston as Shannon, and the lovely dimpled Carey Mulligan as Irene, the love interest (there is one kiss in the movie, which is quite amazing and on top of that, a brilliant scene). There isn't much range here though and Gosling is mostly stoic, with the odd smirk on his face when something he likes happens. Still - he's believable as the likeable, yet psychopathic and cool-headed stunt driver with plenty of mad skills. The story starts slowly, but by half way, the amount of tension is enormous and satisfying.

I found the soundtrack distracting and rather than background mood setting, it seemed to try and tell the story with the song lyrics for some reason. 

So, a bit of a mixed bag, and 3 out of 5 from me.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Movie: Layer Cake (3.5/5 stars) (2004)

Layer Cake is marginally a gangster movie, even though the gangsters in it don't think of themselves as gangsters - they are businessmen who happen to deal in cocaine etc...

Staring Daniel Craig as an unnamed protagonist (billed as XXXX in the credits) being pulled on all sides by many hostile forces, Layer Cake is a superbly crafted, cleverly written, somewhat sanitized view into the English underworld. Along with Craig is a solid list of supporting actors, all excellent in their roles. George Harris plays Morty, a likable and friendly gangster with a nasty temper who is XXXX's link to the criminal world. Colm Meany plays Gene, a long time toughie who is super-loyal to their drug-lord boss and Michael Gambon, playing Eddie Temple, an even higher-up, scary, gangster who pokes his fingers in to stir things up. Along with them is a long, long list of smaller roles, almost always funny and entertaining.

Music, directing, acting, writing are all finely polished here. There is little to fault the movie on and I found myself entertained the entire way though. I have a thing against drug movies, but even so, it is hard not to like this. The plot is constantly twisting and finely knotted at the end and one gentle tug unravels it all in front of your eyes for a satisfying climax. I am surprised I've never watched it before now and only got it through a friend's recommendation. Well worth your time.