It was so action packed but I wish that more attention had been paid to the CGI. The distance shots of Themyscira looked fake and oversharpened. Once the action moved over to Europe everything was kind of desaturated. When you're used to the colourful world of Marvel, the weirdly coloured DC world is a letdown. The plot could have been less simple - maybe it was because it was an origin movie - but to dwell on that would be to overlook all the positives packed into the movie. Personally, it was a huge deal to me that Diana is a brunette. We're so overlooked ;-) She wears her costume for her and she was never displayed as anything but the athletic warrior princess she is. Come to think of it, all the Amazons, and I believe many of the background ones were real athletes, were such a refreshing change from the usual. Here were realistic looking women that looked solid and not flimsy.
I was a little bummed by the ending. I really thought it would have a different outocme.
I'm looking forward to Justice League now. I'm not a DC fan at all, but the right movie might change my mind.
Let me start by saying that children's movies, like children's books, are often very weird fare. Adults recognize the story gaps that go over children's heads and I don't know about anyone else, but they can be difficult to reconcile. For example, Shel Silverstein's The Giving Tree was an extremely popular book when I was a child but it also has been scrutinized as being a tale of poor boundaries and co-dependence. Rather than overthinking the story, the problem just might be poor writing and production that invites comparison or confusion where none is intended. I think that's what happened to Free Birds - the one progressive part of the movie gets lost in the problematic parts and it just becomes a hot mess. To be honest, I also fell asleep in the middle of the movie and had to be nudged awake :-P
In a nutshell, it's about two time travelling turkeys, Reggie and Jake, who try to get turkey off the Thanksgiving dinner menu. They go back in time to the first Thanksgiving and encounter a bunch of wild turkeys who wear face paint and live underground to avoid capture by the pilgrims. Reggie falls in love with the chief's daughter, Jenny.
Perhaps it's a little unfair that Pixar has created such high standards for story and visuals in animated movies and the turkeys can barely clear this hurdle. Some of the animation was truly dreadful, such as Myles Standish's three dogs and the plasticity of the pilgrims. The character designers also seem to have mixed up Myles Standish with an Old West bounty hunter and the depiction of First Nations people isn't very respectful.
There are lots of laughs and the rivalry between Jake and Jenny's older brother Ranger is pretty funny. The parts where the turkeys are talking but are heard by humans as gobbling are hilarious! But the whole thing is so unevenly paced, incoherent and weird. There's even a turkey funeral which seems like an attempt to bring some emotion to the film...but unlike, say, Up, it comes across as out of place and patched on. The film is just full of weird stuff like that - one later scene flashes back to Jake's youth where he escaped from a factory farm. I hate to say it, but I have watched two hour Vine compilations more coherent than this movie :-D
There are so many messages in Free Birds that by the end of the movie, everything feels unresolved even though the turkeys are successful in changing Thanksgiving by turning it into a pizza party. Movies don't have to be this bad!
So it was that my husband I found ourselves watching the dreadful Bee Movie after watching the very grim Snowpiercer. Snowpiercer is a 2013 movie based on a French graphic novel starring Chris Evans and Song Kang-ho. It's actually backed by a Korean studio - which is a growing trend among Asian studios. There are definitely more and more Asian backed films that have a big Hollywood box office star for the main draw.
I don't know if Snowpiercer was in theatres very long. It's an excellent movie, very "thinky" and full of action, but it does fall apart the more one thinks about it. Just as utopias are unattainable, dystopias are rarely sustainable and the logistics of a train that can't stop running and support the people on board doesn't make a lot of sense. It's easier to think of the train as a symbol for class systems. Snowpiercer was so dark and even the hopeful ending ends on the wrong note. In terms of story and style it reminded me of Brazil and Children of Men and a third movie I still can't put my finger on.
Bee Movie should have been the cheerful antidote to Snowpiercer, but I was so bored. This movie is sooooo weird and not very entertaining at all. True, 3D animation in 2007 wasn't that great, but the movie comes off as sounding like it's making fun of oppressed people everywhere when Barry B. Benson, the bee, sues the humans for stealing honey. Ugggghhhh!
I would have been a bit too old for Matilda when it first came out, but I wholeheartedly would have loved it as a child because I loved reading and nothing thrills the wee folk like adults getting their come-uppance. I wouldn't have been able to appreciate it though on an aesthetic level however. I loved the tacky, trashy lives of her parents played with great gusto by Danny De Vito and Rhea Perlman and I loved the tons of detail put into the sets as well as the camera work. 80s and 90s movies have a really special feel about them with so much purposely designed that you don't see anymore. Maybe it was all the practical effects instead of whiz bang CGI. Anyhow, we really enjoyed it and still found a lot to laugh about :-)
Home - I have no idea why this movie was in theatres for so short a time. It was awesome and very funny. It's possible that translating Sheldon Cooper to a socially awkward alien could be a little grating for some, but Jim Parsons and Rhianna are just awesome together.
The Nut Job - I can't tell you much about this movie because I fell asleep half an hour in and woke up ten minutes before the end. It's a Canadian/Dutch/Korea production and the animation is pretty fantastic along with big name voice talent - but it was just way too long to tell the competing stories of squirrels and crooks planning their own heists. It's based on a short animation that is much funnier.
The Secret Life of Pets - this movie was all I hoped for after all the hype. It was hilarious and lots of fun as Duke and Max struggle to become friends. The budgie didn't get a lot of screen time, but it was adequate. My favourite scene was when the dogs end up at a sausage factory - so weird! The thing that really stuck out in this movie for me though was that for a movie set in New York, it's not very multicultural at all.
We watched a lot of bad movies in that class all woefully outdated. There was one from the 70s with two teenage boys trying to buy condoms from a drugstore and The Mask. I am sure there were many other short films but none was so memorably awful as Johnny Lingo. Except that I couldn't remember the name. I thought it was Johnny Gringo, which didn't sound right. Google kept coughing up "Johnny Ringo" instead. Finally I typed in "johnny hawaii movie bride educational film" and thankfully the second link was YouTube.
The movie is so cringeworthy, even when I watched it back in 1994. I don't know even where to begin...in a nutshell, it's about a girl named Mahana who is considered ugly by everyone in the village and even her father is surprised that someone wants to marry her at all. He even threatens to beat her when she hides and everyone insults her. Only Johnny can see her true beauty. Today it seems like a long and problematic way to teach the value of self-worth. If you watch it, be warned...
Bonus trivia: Blaisdell Makee, who stars as Johnny Lingo, appeared in two episodes of classic Star Trek.
It's so exciting that Disney movies are now on Canadian Netflix! I have been able to catch up with old favourites like The Fox and The Hound and new ones like Tangled, which we missed in theatres. Prior to this, only DreamWorks movies were available and while they are good, the endless sequels are hard to watch, even on a sick day :D
I haven't blogged about movies in a while - we are watching them but few have been really leaving an impression on me. I thought Tangled was worth mentioning though, because it was odd for a Disney movie and a little difficult to watch.
The whole tone of the movie changes when you realize that the villain, Mother Gothel, isn't like other movie villains that are just straight up evil or power hungry. No, clearly Mother Gothel is mentally ill and Rapunzel is a victim of emotional abuse. A quick Google of "mother gothel npd" or "mother gothel bpd" produces loads of results that explain this in detail. So, unfortunately, I didn't enjoy the movie as much as I should have because a mentally ill villain is kind of problematic. It's not as easy to root for the good guys. I don't know what to say about mentally ill villains. Suddenly Tangled refers less to Rapunzel's hair and more about unhealthy, enmeshed parent child relationships. Otherwise, it was funny and charming and had some great songs :)
I'm not sure what flipped when I was a teenager, but I became really interested in movies and movie stars around 1991 despite years of watching Entertainment Tonight with Mom. Suddenly I was reading people and scanning the Entertainment section of the paper. Maybe it had to do with getting a TV that could play past Channel 12. There was only one problem - I was too young to see a lot of movies!
"Well if you were too young, I was definitely too young." my friend said when My Cousin Vinny popped up randomly as a Friday night movie suggestion. I can cross another movie off the list :D
Joe Pesci and Marie Tomei dropping f-bombs are the only scandalous parts to this movie and I enjoyed how well written it was as well as the slow pacing. I couldn't help but think that the whole movie was based on a few true stories, especially the sleepless nights that Vinny endures to getting stuck in a small town. In fact the first fifteen minutes reminded me of our disastrous pit stop in Lima, Montana a few years ago. If I had known it would have been so bad I would have just peed my pants :D
Of course most of the humour comes from the contrast of urban versus rural, New Yorker versus Southern, but I really liked the gentle message of persistance as Vinny tries to prove that he can succeed as a lawyer.
One detail that stuck out for me was the bright pink camera that saves the day. Maybe it only seemed so because of the fact that we would use cell phones today!
Drive Angry is a strange movie. Maybe it's because it wasn't the movie we expected it to be, or that it tried to be too many things at once. Starring Nicholas Cage at his scenery chewing finest, what we thought it was a movie about road rage and instead it turned out to be a supernatural action movie - kind of like a bug fix version of Ghost Rider. The annoying thing about Drive Angry is that it rides the fine line between low brow and high brow, much like The Car. It's just good enough to not be completely bad, and because of that you want it to be better.
After a confusing intro with a car driving across a bridge in Hell, Cage's character John Milton (hint hint) crosses paths with a tough and pretty road stop waitress, Piper. Amber Heard was awesome as an empowered heroine who gets caught up in Milton's metaphysical mission. It is confusingly told, but Milton has returned topside to avenge the deaths of his daughter and son in law who were murdered by cultists and rescue his granddaughter. Along the way there's The Accountant, played with Agent Smith like weirdness by William Fichtner and a cult leader who looks like a dollar store Elvis.
I sense part of the problem is that too much was crammed into the movie and the title starts to lose meaning. There's a great comic book feel to the movie, with lots of love going into the character design and costuming. The first third of the movie is pretty tasteless and reminded me of Cranked. After Piper learns of Milton's quest, the tone changes considerably and the movie becomes less ballsy and more heartfelt. Some more careful editing and more showing and less telling would have helped. I feel that the sheriff had an untold story in there, or the producers couldn't juggle four plots.
The CGI budget must not have been very big because some of the effects weren't very good for a 2011 movie, but they were passable. The violence was really squishy and mildly gross at times. There were some great car stunts and I loved that they got a Winnebago to boogie like it did :D
At the end of the day, the movie is a pretty entertaining popcorn flick - if you liked Ghost Rider, you'll be all right with this one.
Speaking of Vin Diesel, we saw FF7 shortly after it came out. It was good. It was not as good as FF6, naturally, because Paul Walker died halfway through filming. I thought there would be more stunts by Jason Statham or The Rock, but that didn't happen. It was only possible to tell the CGI walker at the very end. The tribute was so touching - brief and not cheesy either. In hindsight the story of the film was so disjointed until the big car chase in Los Angeles, but somehow they made it work together that my sense of disbelief was suspended for the movie. I loved that there was a woman nerd too. Somehow the FF franchise delivers on the smallest whims of its fans :-)
We saw Mad Max: Fury Road today and I loved it despite that the beginning exposition was ruined by the wrong filter being applied for 3D and the audience getting upset. This isn't the first time that something was borked in this theatre too. Anyway...the spoiler free version is that the movie is a tad too long (maybe about 15 minutes or so) and that it is not a traditional action movie and it has very little dialogue. It's very artsy and thinky, and it helps to have watched the previous movies. George Miller just throws the viewer into his post-apocalyptic wasteland and goes from there. If you're expecting a Marvel movie, this is not it. As an Australian, Miller brings a whole different aesthetic compared to American movies. You can see the wish fulfillment on the part of Miller, that he was making up for all the stuff he couldn't do 30+ years ago.
There was a lot of symmetry, which I naturally liked, and as an R-rated film, it didn't shrink from violence at all, which could be quite juicy at times.
( Mad Max spoilers )
We ended up watching Crank because Netflix doesn't have The Transporter. Completely inspired by video games from all generations, mostly GTA, Jason Statham is a hitman named Chev Chelios who crosses the wrong crowd. He wakes up after being beaten up and injected with a drug that will kill him in an hour. The key to staying alive is for him to not stop moving and keep his adrenaline racing. As one can imagine, someone channelled their inner 15 year old or consulted some 15 year old boys because the movie is lewd and crude, including insulting trash talk between the characters. There's car chases, car crashes, parkour, jump cuts, smash cuts, frenetic, fast paced editing. There was a lot of stuff that grossed us out, but the violence is so over the top that it's hard to take seriously. However, it was also a pretty tasteless movie in many respects with many problematic elements in hindsight. Come to think of it, I can't recall a more tasteless movie :P
I caught The Book of Life in 3D with friends on the weekend. It was a good movie, but perhaps too long and visually cluttered for children. It's extremely fast paced for a simple story and it felt like the creators had too many ideas to cram in. I don't regret seeing in the theatre as it would have been so dull on a small screen. It could have been shorter and better balanced with some quieter periods, but I loved that the characters were puppets, who are at the whims of gods. There were some great character designs that worked together well despite being vastly different. At first it appears that the story is all about the female lead, Maria, but it's actually about one of her friends, Manolo, as he tries to find his way in life (and win Maria's heart). Maria is not a Disney princess by any means, and the conflict she faces as she is pressured to marry her other friend (and town hero) Joaquin was very thoughtfully done.
88 Minutes was watched a while ago. It stars Al Pacino as a college professor and crime profiler who becomes the target of an anonymous stalker. The movie opens up with a gruesome, needlessly detailed murder of a young woman by a serial killer. It grossed us out. We love Al Pacino and I couldn't figure out why I couldn't remember this movie, but, as entertaining as it turned out to be, it's nothing special. It had all the trappings of a great thriller that didn't pay off. It's also painfully dated with a lot of blue tint and flip phones everywhere. There's a lot of time and geography problems with the movie plus a ridiculous amount of coincidences. All this is forgotten by the time the dramatic final scene rolls around. In hindsight, 88 Minutes felt like it had a lot of re-writes or was made for another actor.
I found Wizards on YouTube. I was really in the mood to watch Heavy Metal, but it wasn't on Netflix and wasn't free on YouTube. I realized that aside from The New Adventures of Mighty Mouse, I hadn't watched any of Ralph Bakshi's movies. Wizards is...horribly dated...and very handmade...and not very entertaining. It was made on such a limited budget that drawings and narration stand in for a lot of the action. There's too much narration and the story that emerges was too boring. Basically, there are two wizard brothers, one good, one bad. The bad one, Blackwolf, digs up military footage and weapons and becomes Hitler reborn. The good one, Avatar, has to stop him with some help from his friends Weehawk and Elinore. The mix and match style plus the rotoscoped scenes just killed the movie for me because it created too much dissonance.
It's funny, because I have a half-written review of Pacific Rim on my phone and the two movies have similar plots, yet Pacific Rim was such a flop and poorly made movie in my eyes. It was surprisingly boring for an action movie that promised monsters versus robots. How can anyone possibly screw that up?
The movie didn't work at a camp level, nor did it really work on an action level either. The characters lacked depth and were way too predictable. It's baffling that such a CGI fest could be so beautiful but dull and emotionally empty at the same time. Each frame could have been pulled from a concept artist's portfolio, but yet each is stripped of any fantasy or wonder. The Jaegers looked neat, but are so woefully slow and clumsy that it's confusing as to why they are humanity's only hope. Even operating them is clumsy, as the pilots have no safety protection and flail about like puppets. Clearly, the world's A+ engineers were all in the same building when a kaiju sat on it.
As soon as the voiceover started at the beginning, I knew it was going to be a bad movie. It should have started the moment the hero, Raleigh Becket, is recruited from a construction site. It was a huge mistake to reveal the kaijus up front. Mako's determination to not be treated as a child could have been stronger (and why the heck was Stacker holding on to her one shoe all these years? Wouldn't he have given it back?) but really the only notable thing in the character development department. I'm willing to give a movie a pass and take hand waving and bad science with a grain of salt if it at least entertains, but by the time Mako and Raleigh are off to battle the level 5 kaiju, I was checking my phone and wondering when it would all just ennnnnnnd.
We also finally saw Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, which was way funnier than we expected. The nerdy love story was great along with the elastic animation and jokes. Someone remembered how to make a movie fun! We actually watched this movie after being mildly traumatized by another movie, for another post.
Yesterday we watched Hop, which came from the same studio as Despicable Me, which we watched on Friday night. Finally! We get embarrassingly behind on movies. Such a fun and sweet movie with lots for adults. Hop, though, was a trip to weirdsville and not as well made. The CGI/live action blend is technically brilliant, but there are places where the story stops, starts and falls right out of the bottom! There were also some minor racial stereotypes that were poorly thought out. After it ended, I said to my husband that it seemed like a metaphor for coming out and he thought that the main human character, Fred O'Hare, had had a break with reality and was hallucinating. Kids won't notice it's cut and paste quality, but...
( Minor spoilers )