Two Parts Soap Opera, One Part Romantic Comedy

 

 

 

 

 

 

Crazy, Stupid, Love or Stupid, Crazy, Love?  That was the question that plagued my mind this past week as the constant flood of trailers swarmed onto the television channels.  It seems that almost every other week a chick flick or romantic comedy is coming out and while many of my friends can’t wait to see the films, others grow tired of seeing the same old thing.  Now I’ve been doing my research on IMDB, Metacritic, and EW and I must say there has been a large mix of reviews for this movie.  So after checking it out yesterday, I decided to put in my two cents about this movie.  Let’s get started.

The premise for this movie is that Cal (Steve Carell) and his wife Emily (Julianne Moore) are getting a divorce due to lack of romance and care in their relationship.  Cal, taking the news harder than his wife, decides to spend his time in the bar complaining about his troubles, eventually gaining the attention of Jacob (Ryan Gosling) the suave, sophisticated, and skilled player.  Under his tutelage, Cal begins a transformation from geeky married man to Jacob’s right hand man and the movie portrays his adventures in his new life.  Despite his new appearance, Cal still has a lingering spark for his wife and Jacob as well begins to feel something more for a particular girl.  The two must now search their own hearts and determine what they truly want for their lives.  See trailer here

So yes sounds like a typical soap opera/romantic comedy right?  Well that’s pretty much what it is my friends, but with a more realistic twist.  Unlike some romantic comedies that portray love as a mushy and magical fantasy that everyone dreams about, Crazy, Stupid, Love is a realistic look at how hard love and life can be.  Throughout the entire movie Cal and company get hit with a lot of crap and often at times where things are starting to get better.  Instead of some magical solution showing itself, everyone has to work hard, persist, and sometimes unite to get pass the problem.  There are plenty of times when you feel sorry for Cal as the poor guy gets caught between two worlds.  Perhaps what adds more realism to this movie is that Corell’s acting has really captured the confused, scared, and caring role of a devoted husband and all the emotions that are tied to it.  I have to warn you that Carell has diverged from his typical loud, obnoxious, and aggressive comedy style you’ve come to love.  Instead he’s traded it for a more somber, awkward, and well-timed comedy that had the audience giggling through the movie.  Moore as well does her job well with the exception of her comedy which is a little too overacted for me, but seems to excel at crying, being depressed, and being a devoted mother.

Despite the constant depression and bad relationships in this movie there is some comedy in this movie that kind of brightened up the mood.  Gosling who has trades his down home country boy part for the player had well-timed, clever dialog that complemented his character quite well.  He also manages to capture the transition of lone wolf to good friend in the movie that had me reminiscing about some of my friendships.  The youthful innocence and surprisingly mature comedy centered on Robbie (Jonah Bobo) was perhaps the biggest source of laughs for me.  At the age of 13, the young boy faces his own dilemmas that question his look on love, and actually provide for quite an entertaining side story.  Even more the direction of this movie resulted in me actually getting lost in nostalgia at the emotions I faced when I was that age, minus a few things.  Emma Stone even provided some comedic relief to the movie, more in the art of teeny bopper one liners that get a quick laugh.  She also has some issues to overcome, but she wasn’t really in enough of the movie to really elaborate her problems or develop her character.

Hopefully what you’ve picked up from this review is that there are a lot of problems and a lot of connections between the characters which makes for a very involved story.  The comedy, although sometimes over my head, was well done and kept the movie fun and entertaining.  Even Marissa Tomei’s part, although short, gave us some cheap laughs.  Unfortunately this comedy is not enough to keep the pace fast enough for me.  I must warn you that this movie seems to drag on at places and sometimes made me feel like the movie was going to last forever.  The movie could have probably been a half an hour shorter and still gotten the same message from the movie.  However, despite some of the unnecessary scenes, there were a few twists that impressed me and finally broke the predictable trend of the chick flick I so longed for.  What even impressed me even more was that the ending, although somewhat predictable was not the ending I was expecting, which again I applaud.  Despite the ending not being predictable, most of the movie was and the dialog was.  Combine this predictableness with the slow pace and you get a combination that can lead you to a snooze fest.

Well let’s sum this review up since I’m running out of things to talk about.  Crazy, Stupid, Love is one of the more surprising romantic comedies of the summer.  The acting is superb, the dialog is clever and well timed, and the relationships and characters are well developed and intertwined.  However, the pace of the movie can really bring you down and may even make you nod off at parts as I saw happen a couple of times with various audience members.  However, I have to give it up for this chick flick surprising me and the realism that was in this movie, which was a nice change for once.  Thus I’ll give this movie a solid 8.0, but strongly suggest waiting for this movie to come out on Netflix and Red Box unless you want to see an expensive soap opera.  Tune in later today/tomorrow to read about the Smurfs.

Two Worlds: One Action Movie

                               So I know what some of you may be thinking, Cowboys and Aliens that’s just ridiculous.  I must admit that I too the concept was going to be ridiculous and that Hollywood had indeed run out of reasonable ideas for movies.  The idea of mixing the two worlds of western and science fiction seems too much of a stretch for most audience members, and seems almost too ridiculous to be taken for a serious movie.  However I’m her to tell you that Cowboys and Aliens, directed by Jon Favreau, is a much better movie than I previously expected, and is an exciting adventure that will please most fans.

For those who have not seen the trailers, Cowboys and Aliens opens on Jake Lonergan (Daniel Craig) who wakes up in the open desert not knowing how he got there.  The only two possessions he has on him are a weird bracelet and a wound to his right abdomen.  After some outlaw bashing and some character introductions, Lonergan winds up on a coach destined for a Santa Fe prison.  Enter Woodrow Dolarhyde (Harrison Ford) the big boss of the desert town who wants Lonergan for a previous robbery and demands that he be released in his custody.  As the sheriff and Dolarhyde argue, the aliens suddenly attack and destroy most of the town in an explosive rampage that would put Michael Bays’ work to shame and abduct a few of the local residents including Dolarhyde’s son.  At first light, a posse led by Dolarhyde sets out to track the aliens and recover the kidnapped people.  See Trailer here

The first I should say is that this movie is more of a western than a science fiction movie, it’s just that instead of fighting outlaws or Native Americans the villains turn out to be extraterrestrials.  Fans of the classic Westerns will not be disappointed in this film as the aspects of the genre are seen in full force.  Wild West shooting, horse riding, ambushes using the environment, and the classic acts of gentleman heroes are all here in this movie.   However, Favreau has added some modern flavor to this film and put in some more action that is designed to attract other audience members.  Fans of Craig’s days as James Bond will be happy to see his punching and gun play action in the scenes as he plays the heroic, withdrawn, and clever cowboy.  Harrison Ford plays the role of the headstrong, proud, and rough around the edges cowboy well, and he still impresses me as to how diverse a role he can play.  Craig and Ford are indeed the focus of the story and are the driving force for both the plot and the action of the movie and fans of either of the two actors will not be disappointed by their involvement in the film.  However there are other characters in this movie that add some flavor and pizazz to the film that most audience members will probably find enjoyableOlivia Wilde the beautiful actress that she is plays the downhome cowgirl with an edge.  Noah Ringer makes his western debut as the orphaned western boy who faces his own journey of growing up and facing fear and captures the character pretty well.  Adam Beach on the contrary plays the loyal and competent guard with cool moves and good tracking skills that lead the party to their goal.  There are other characters in this film, but we don’t have time to mention them all so I’ll just say that everyone plays their roles well.

So what else does Cowboys and Aliens offer other than good acting by Craig and Ford?  Well for one thing my friend Kayla and I both agree that the action for this movie is awesome and may in fact be the most action packed film of the summer.  This movie has high speed horse chases, various shootouts, hand to hand combat, and even some bludgeoning with canes.  The special effects are also amazing as the aliens look pretty realistic and the ships look even better.  Since this is an action movie, the pace of the movie is fairly quick as well and should keep most audience members with low attention spans into the movie.  However, this movie also has some story behind it as well and some mystery as to why the aliens are there in the first place, which are two other factors to keep one into the movie.  Although all of these qualities are good, I believe the two aspects I was impressed with the most were the combination of the camera work and musical score.  Throughout the entire movie, the camera was able to capture all of the action in fluid motion and hardly had any jumpy or glitch camera work.  Whoever directed the cinematography managed to get his crew to not only capture the action to the greatest extent but also get the most emotion from the scene helping to really bring the dialog and movie to its full potential.  During the action scenes the soundtrack also helped you get into the movie and helped get your adrenaline pumping with exciting orchestral work and percussions that brought you into the scene. 

This movie however does have some faults in it as well.  For one thing the plot of the story is very linear for the most part, only throwing in a few twists to keep you guessing what is coming.  I was able to predict who was going to die and how for most of the characters and that took away from the surprise I think Favreau and the gang were planning.  Perhaps the one weakness with the camera work was sometime the frames revealed what was going to happen before the event actually happened.  One fellow movie goer and I were not surprised in some scenes that were intended to make you jump because the camerawork revealed it way in advance.  A third thing that was a little bit of a weakness for me was some of the graphicness in the kills.  Although most of the kills were clean and not bad, there were some close up shots that can make you cringe at the savagery behind it and thus some parental precaution is advised for younger audiences.  Other than these few things I can’t really think of anything else that bothered me.

Despite the ridiculous title this movie has, Cowboys and Aliens is again a fun and exciting adventure that will have you yeehawing throughout the movie.  Action fans will not be disappointed and the female audience should be very impressed with watching their hunky heroes take on the bad aliens as well.  And although it is predictable, the story is not as bad as I predicted to be.  Overall this Western is a good revival of the classic series and I encourage everyone to come and give it a try.  I give this movie between an 8.0-8.5.  Tune in soon for my reviews on the Smurfs and Crazy, Stupid, Love and remember to leave comments and let me know how I can improve on my writing.  Thanks

FWB: Mindless Sex Film or Friendship With Some Sex In It?

 

 

 

As many of you know Friends With Benefits, or FWB as the trailers are using, released this weekend alongside Captain America.  My first speculation about the movie was that it would be exactly like No Strings Attached, which launched only five months ago, with the substitution of Mila Kunis for Natalie Portman and Justin Timberlake for Ashton Kutcher.  It turns out my suspicions were pretty dead on about this movie.  However there were a few things about this movie that surprised me and, in my opinion, made the movie better than I was expecting.  So sit back, relax, and read my review about another summer chick flick.

In case you haven’t seen a trailer for this movie, FWB is about Jamie (Mila Kunis) and Dylan (Justin Timberlake) two people who succeed in the business world but fail in the dating world.  Jamie, who is a job headhunter, recruits Dylan for art director of GQ magazine and brings him to New York to work.  Once there the two get acquainted, make jokes, and eventually become friends.  However friendship apparently is not fulfilling all of their needs, mainly sexual, which leads to the two having casual sex without an emotional attachment.  Once the pact is set, the movie becomes a portrayal of their friendship with glimpses into the past of the protagonists.

As I watched this movie, the first thing that came to mind was how similar the acting, plot, and comedy was to No Strings Attached.  Kunis plays a role that can be described as an older version of Jackie, her character form That 70’s show.  One may even think that Kunis’ character is a raunchier version of Portman’s character from NSA, with a much filthier mouth.  However, this role seems to be natural to her, as she played the part well not overacting at all.  I’m happy to say that I was also pleased with Timberlake’s acting, which was much better than what I saw in Bad Teacher.  Timberlake nails the part of a big business worker again, like he did in The Social Network, and captures the lifestyle down to the slightest detail.  His diversity as well was impressive as there were times where he was incredibly silly and other times more down to earth and serious, which made for a stronger character, perhaps my favorite of the film.  The other actors in the movie do a good job as well, but unfortunately are only in minor supporting roles often providing comedic one liners or situational comedic relief.  Woody Harrelson was pure comedic relief as he played the gay sports columnist.  Patricia Clarkson was also comedic relief, as she brilliantly played the obscene Lorna whose antics perhaps made me laugh the most.  Jenna Elfman was perhaps the only other character that had a balance of comedy and serious roles.  She was definitely one of the factors driving the plot of the story and her character was an essential bridge that connected everyone in the story.  Elfman fit that part naturally and I was greatly impressed with how flawless her acting was in the part.

So I’ve already shared one positive quality of this movie with you, which is how well the characters fit together in this movie.  Every character had their role to play, and each character had the appropriate amount of screen time to fulfill their roles.  The pace of the movie was also pretty decent for me as well, a little dragged out in places, but for the most part quick to keep my attention.  I also liked that they spread the background of the characters throughout the whole movie, filling in the pieces of the characters gradually instead of at once, which kept me into the movie.  Yet another quality I liked was how the movie really captured and portrayed aspects of what true friendships looks like, minus the sex of course.  There were plenty of scenes that actually made me think of my friendship with my best friend as Jamie and Dylan shared secrets, debated on issues, hung out casually while watching movies, or played video games together and that was nice to see.  This friendship was a driving force of the movie and opened up various situations that gave the movie some spice.   Perhaps the last biggest positive for quality for me was how this movie made fun of other romantic comedies that currently fill the movie world.  The way this movie focused on how cheesy romance scenes can be some time had me laughing in tears, and how the fantasy romance is not how the real thing goes.  I applaud this movie for poking fun at these various romance film characteristics.

Despite the plethora of positive qualities in this film, there were a few qualities of the movie that I really didn’t like.  Perhaps the biggest fault to this movie is how predictable the movie was.  Before thirty minutes of the movie had passed I was able to figure out about three quarters of the movie and knew what was going to happen at the end.  About halfway through the movie had about 99% of it.  I don’t understand why chick flicks cannot surprise me at all, but I guess that’s because the audience for these movies doesn’t care about surprises, just romance and comedy.  The next weakness for me was the graphicness the sex scenes for these movies.  I’ll admit I’m uncomfortable with these scenes in every scenario, but this movie really took it over the top for me.  Kunis and Timberlake cover a wide variety of things one can do during sex.  Some people laughed, others remained silent, and some like me were shocked to see some of the shots.  A third weakness was how some of the comedy grew stale in the movie.  Although I found a large amount of the comedy funny there were some jokes that just went on and on, and after the fifth or sixth reiteration was just not funny anymore.  One of these jokes was about who sang Closing Time, it was funny the first three times, but annoying after that.

Okay time to wrap up here my friends, though I could definitely write on for a few more pages.  The truth is Friends With Benefits is a raunchier, more detailed, and overall better version of No Strings Attached.  The main strength of this movie is how well the cast fits together and the various levels of connection between each character.  The diverse comedy, natural acting style, and detailed character development were also extraordinary qualities that helped paint a nice picture of how friendship can be one of the greatest gifts in life.  However the large amount of predictability, the constant integration of sex, and stale comedic jokes really weakened the movie for me as a whole.  Thus I’ll give Friends With Benefits a 7.0-7.5 for my overall score, and will say it is one of the better romantic comedies I’ve seen in a while.  It’s worth a Netflix folks, but probably not worth the trip to the theatre, unless you’re looking for a good date movie or girls night out film.  So tune in next time boys and girls for my Robbie’s Next review and don’t’ forget to spread to the word to your friends.  Later.

Captain America: A Star Spangled Movie

To me it seems like the recent trend of Marvel is to release a movie every month this year.  This weekend Captain America: The First Avenger made its way into theatres portraying Marvel’s Man of Steel or Vibranium if you like.  After talking with various chat groups, friends, and comic book readers, I realized that this movie had a lot to live up to.  On one level, Marvel’s previous summer line up, Thor and X-men: First Class, were two good movies that had various positive qualities.  The second and perhaps biggest obstacle to overcome though is the expectations of the fans of this classic series.  Well my friends I’m here to say that Captain America is another Marvel flick worth seeing and does a good job at reviving the old comic book hero.

Let’s start off with a little recap of the trailer for those of you not familiar with the comic book series.  This particular Marvel series is about a scrawny, determined, and brave man named Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) who has an extreme desire to serve his country.  His noble heart combined with his stubbornness leads him to Dr. Erskine (Stanley Tucci) a scientist looking to make a revolutionary hero.  After some training and tests, Rogers goes through an operation, filled with pretty lights, intense music, and lots of loud sounds, which result in the Captain.  After that we see the development of Captain America from poster boy to hero.

Now some of you may have noticed that Captain America looks a lot like The Human Torch from the Fantastic Four movie.  Well that’s because he’s the same person my friends.  However Evans is not as hotheaded or immature as we’ve seen in the past.  Instead he plays a mature, disciplined, and naïve man whose determination drives his actions.  Evans surprised me in this role, but I applaud how well he captured the brave soldier with a good heart role that is typical of the Captain.  However Evans was not the only strong actor in this movie.  Starring opposite of Evans was the lovely Hayley Atwell who played the suave Peggy Carter.  Atwell did a decent job playing the British spy managing to balance the rugged solider attitude with very a very proper and charming nature.  She made the character believable, not too emotional, yet not too super hero like either.  Howard Stark, father of Iron Man, is in this movie as well and Dominic Cooper plays the part well.  As we saw in Iron Man 2, Howard was a charismatic, pompous genius who evidently believed in a lot of things.  Cooper took that brief glimpse and managed to portray a younger version of Stark who was a little more carefree, but still as witty and charismatic providing some comedic relief to the movie.  Fans of Hugo Weaving will be happy to see the former agent smith debuting as the nefarious Red Skull, arch nemesis of the Cap.  Weaving’s charming nature and ability to sound calm and angry at the same time were characteristic of a Nazi general.  However the person who really stole the show for me was Tommy Lee Jones who played Colonel Phillips.  In a role very similar to Agent K, Jones manages to play the part of a stuffy, sarcastic, and no tolerance leader who provides comedic relief in a natural way.  Unlike comedic stars that seem to overact, Jones manages to deliver his lines in a casual manner that just makes you laugh. 

Okay so the acting is pretty good what else does this movie have going for it.  For one thing the story was well done in this movie.  Unlike some of the other Marvel movies we have seen in the past which substitute action for story, Captain America instead really focuses on character development.  The audience sees Rogers develop from a wimp into a super solider and over the course of his transformation sees the forging of bonds between various friends.  Instead of Captain America having all of the answers, Rogers still continues to develop, learn, and understand what it means to be human and how to be the hero he desires.   What impressed me even more was that this character development did not slow down the pace of the movie too much.  Although there were some slow points in the movie, the general pace was quick enough to keep your attention, but slow enough to allow the audience to provide enough details to keep the audience in the know.  One factor I believe helped keep the pace fun was the clever dialog in the movie.  There was a large variety of dialog in the movie that matched with the characters personality and jobs, i.e. military jargon went with soldiers and science jargon went with scientists.  Again I tell you that a lot of the dialog has some witty humor in it adding some spice to the movie and some diversity to the film as well.

Now some may be asking what about the action Robbie, is there action in the movie?  Yes my friends the action that is famous in most Marvel movies is back once more.  Although there is very little action at the beginning of the movie, with the exception of a chase scene, Captain America does eventually deliver the thrills we have been waiting for.  However instead of full blown action sequences like we saw in Thor and X-men, Captain America shows off its action in snippets showing various actions over the course of the war.  Near the end of the movie, we get an exciting sequence full of explosions, gun shooting, and fist punching adrenaline that comic book fans love.  The cinematography for the most part has captured the action of this movie well, and the soundtrack added another level to the exciting action scenes. 

However there were some things about this movie that I didn’t like.  The first problem I had was that some of the special effects were a little too cheesy or fake for me.  Countless jump scenes, some running sequences, and some grappling with various vehicles were blocky and fake looking.  Such obvious fake looking special effects take away from the scenes, at least for me, and annoyed me at various times during the movie.  The second thing that was a weakness for me was not focusing on the relationships between the troops and Captain America.  Sure there are various scenes of the soldiers helping Cap, but I was still looking for more involvement with the special squad of soldiers.  Perhaps the third weakness was that the movie was predictable and gave some obvious hints as to where the movie was going.  Although there are a few other weaknesses like cheesy 3-D shot scenes and a song that gets stuck in your head, Captain America still has more strengths than weaknesses.

So was this movie worth they hype?  Probably not for me although it was better than I expected. I was happy to see Marvel focusing on a character developing story and I did enjoy the action scenes for this movie better than most action movies I’ve seen this summer.  Despite the cheesy special effects and lack of other soldier involvement, Captain America performed well for this comic book fan.  Overall I give it 8.0 out of 10 and encourage Marvel fans to give it a try.  So my fellow movie goers keep on enjoying the movies and remember to keep on reading my reviews.

Oh and by the way stay after the credits to get a glimpse of something I think you will all enjoy.

Guess who’s back! Back Again!

For the past week I have been revisiting my childhood days by diving back into the fun filled world of Winnie the Pooh.  The lovable yellow bear that has a ravenous appetite for honey, or Hunny in the movie, and his band of fellow stuffed animals had made me laugh harder than I have laughed in a long time.  The reason for revisiting such a timeless classic was because of the new movie that was released this Friday produced by Walt Disney studios.  I’m here to tell you that Winnie the Pooh is back and has brought his simple humor to the table for another fun adventure.

In case you haven’t seen the trailer, the newest pooh adventure starts off as a simple quest to find Eeyore a new tail as his old one has once again gone missing.  At the suggestion of Christopher Robin (Jack Boulter), Pooh and the gang compete to find the perfect appendage for the donkey and begin to try an assortment of materials.  Eventually the quest is put on hold as Pooh and company misinterpret a note and believe that Christopher Robin has been taken by a monster called the Backsun and decide to save their friend.  That’s it. I know the story is not much, but then again Pooh is not really known for its complicated plots.

So what are the highlights of this revived classic?  In my opinion the simple humor is very entertaining and fun for the audience.  Now many of you should expect there to be no raunchy comedy, no sexual innuendos, and no references to alcohol in this movie.  Instead the jokes in this movie center on Pooh and company’s innocence and naivety of the truth.  Perhaps what had me laughing the most was Pooh whose simple mind and confused understanding were hysterical.  It wasn’t just what Pooh said, but how he said it as well.  Jim Cummings has managed to find the perfect way to express Pooh’s state of mind and have the audience at least giggle from the silliness.  Cummings also voices Tigger and that classic voice you remember from years ago has that same energy, enthusiasm, and vigor that fans of the bouncing tiger will still love.  However what also made the movie funny was the timing of the dialog and how smooth it flowed.  Like the dialog in Thor, Disney has managed to pick just the right moment to spring Pooh’s clueless babble, to have Tigger’s energy pick us up, Owl’s (Craig Ferguson) arrogance and pompous nature open up more lines, and have Eeyore’s (Bud Luckey) depressed one liners really just chuckle in pity.  On a side note an extra bonus to the humor was being able to once again relate my friends to the characters and envision them saying similar things during my time at school.

On top of the dialog, Pooh and company still perform their classic acts of clumsiness that were funny in the past.  Pooh’s various attempts to get Honey were incredibly funny and simple.  Tigger’s pouncing and bouncing as he moves through the forest were still as energetic as in the past, but unfortunately were not the major part of the movie.  The army maneuvers and trap setting motions of the animals were impressive and a little more complicated humor than what I remember from the past, but still simple enough to be entertaining to the key demographic.  And for fans of the animals interacting with the words of the book, there is still plenty of those interactions to fill your heart with content.

Okay the next positive thing is the music in the movie.  The toe tapping, upbeat, and bouncy music that is famous of the series has returned once more.  Songs about honey, monsters, and celebrations fill the air in this movie and typically have some humor built into them as well.  I must say the Backsun song and the world of Hunny song were probably my favorite of the soiree.  Fans of those classic Pooh song’s shouldn’t be disappointed, but again there simple tunes designed to keep the attention of kids and people with short attention spans.

As you can guess there are some aspects of this movie that may be an issue with some people.  A big issue that I’ve picked up from other fans is how short the movie is, which is just over an hour.  I was okay with the time and was felt I got my money’s worth of Pooh comedy and adventure.  Those who can’t stand a predictable movie will want to avoid this movie as well, as the simple story can be determined very early in the film.  I also felt that each animal did not get the same amount of time on screen.  Pooh of course got the most, which was expected, but Eeyore and Tigger’s roles were severely downsized from what we have seen in the past.  Fans of Piglet (Travis Oates) may be a bit disappointed as well, since the small fry is not as fear filled as the classic character was known to be.

Overall Winnie the Pooh is a cute, fun, and well animated film that will bring you back to your childhood days.  The gentle comedic dialog, clumsy actions, and classic traits that were made famous so long ago are back and provide a well needed break from today’s modern comedies.  Again the story is still very simple and the animal screen times are off balance, but there are a lot of good things to keep you laughing.  There are still a lot of things to mention about this movie, but then this review would be ten pages long so I’ll stop here.  My final score for Winnie the Pooh is a solid 9.0 for reigniting my memories of my childhood days.  So until next time my friends have fun and keep enjoying the movies.

The End Has Arrived!

Harry Potter 8, or Harry Potter 7.2 to some, has finally arrived as of this Friday and already it has been making millions of dollars.  Reading various reviews on Metacritic, IMDB, and other review sites I’ve seen mixed reviews on this movie from scores as low as 1.0 to scores as high as 10.  Some of the reviews have been written by die-hard fans of the series, while other reviews have been written by haters of this particular wizarding world.  So now it is time for me to share my opinions about the series and tell you what I like and what I didn’t like about the movie.  So let’s get started.

Harry Potter 8 starts up where Harry Potter 7 left off as we see Voldemort claim the elder wand from Dumbledore.  After this brief flashback, the movie switches focus back to Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe) and his gang who are planning their quest to search for the remainder of the Horcruxes hiding in the world.  The majority of the movie then portrays their quest to look for the Horcruxes and the quest to find a way to defeat the dark wizard and his crew.  I wish not to ruin anymore so I’m going to leave it here for now and move on to the acting.

As usual, the acting of Harry Potter is still as smashing as it has always been.  Radcliffe once again nails the part of Potter managing to capture all the emotions necessary for the brave wizard role.  Emma Watson still manages to plays the calm, wise, and caring Hermoine Granger though she unfortunately does not play as large a role in this movie as we’ve seen in the past.  Rupert Grint comes back in full force playing the idiotic, naïve, and loyal Ron Weasley whose comedic timing and antics are still as funny as ever.  Other actors worth mentioning in this installment are Ralph Fiennes, Helena Bonham-Carter, and Matthew  Lewis.  Fiennes, who many know as Voldemort, brings his eerily quiet, sinister, snake like voice that has made our spines chill for some time now.  Although his voice helps make Voldemort sinister, there are times in this movie where Fiennes screws up the dialog and casts his spells in an extremely cheesy manner that is more humorous than terrifying.  Helena Bonham-Carter however plays the insane and eccentric Bellatrix LeStrange to the same level we have seen in the past.  In this movie however, Carter impresses me even more as she plays another role I was not expecting.  A particular scene in this movie where Hermoine Granger is impersonating LeStrange had Carter acting like a nervous, fear filled wizard who was attempting to play an uncertain role.  Carter managed to capture the awkward facial features and movements perfectly and it seemed like this role was natural to her.  Even more impressive than Carter was Matt Lewis who plays Neville Longbottom the ill lucked wizard.  Over the past 10 years we have seen Neville Longbottom evolve from a shy boy to a proud wizard and Lewis himself has gone over a transformation himself.  Lewis stole the show for me in this movie managing to perform all of his scenes, whether it is suicidal stunts, heroic speeches, or wizarding duels, perfectly.  The rest of the cast acted well, but unfortunately most of them only had cameo roles that lasted only for a few seconds to minutes at most. 

Okay enough about the acting let us get down to the good stuff.  David Yates, the director of this film, has managed to once again make a very good portrayal of the final part of the last book.  The pace of the movie starts of slow and informative, a bit of a catch up for those that don’t know the story very well.  Eventually the movie kicks into high gear and the pace begins to move fast, too fast in some parts, to help speed along the story.  Yates sticks pretty close to the story we know, but seems to speed through the story faster than I was expecting, skipping the flashbacks and back story and replacing it with more “action” scenes.  The dialog helps keep you interested in the film having enough emotion and information to keep you in the story and intertwined with well-timed comedy that keeps you laughing and awake. The scene with Snape (Alan Rickman) where he shares his memories with the audience was emotionally stimulating and brilliantly done, making a good amount of my friends well up.  It was a combination of the music and cinematography as well as Yates’ directing that really delivered these memories and had them pack a punch to the audience.  A few scenes that were examples of Yates’ artistic licensing were a little cheesy for me, often nothing more than a quick, suspenseful chase that ended in some rather passionate kissing that you see in teenage dramas.  I’ll even applaud his work on the final scene of the movie, the epilogue, which in the book I thought was a cheesy finish.  Yates managed to make the scene less cheesy and more emotional and I liked it a lot better than its portrayal in the book.  Overall though Yates did a pretty good job with the story and made a nice adaption to the book, his biggest folly though was the action.

When I read the book four years ago, I was expecting the action scenes to be very dramatic, flashy, that was reasonably long.  Unfortunately Yates seems to have trouble getting action scenes right and he really failed to deliver the scenes the way I envisioned them in the book.  The Room of Requirement scene was pretty good, though I enjoy Rowling’s detail much more because it was a little dragged out and more suspenseful.  The biggest disappointment however was the Battle at Hogwarts, which started off with so much potential.  Now in the book Rowling skipped the details and left your imagination to fill in the details of the battle.  Yates has done the same thing in the film showing only scenes of the battle in pieces as Harry and the gang attempted to complete their quest.  Although the graphics, spells, and magic were brilliantly imaged, there was not enough focus on the battle to really fill my expectations.  Many fans I talked to were expecting the Hogwarts battle to show off the skills of some of the famous characters in the film and perhaps show some dignified deaths of their favorite characters.  With the exception of a couple of scenes, the film crew decided to only show a few specific battles and instead do the swarm/background syndrome where the action is contained in the background.  Whether it is for cost cutting reasons or because J.K. Rowling didn’t want a more detailed battle I don’t know, but still I was expecting an explosive finish.  I do applaud the battles between Voldemort and Harry and LeStrange and Ms. Weasley, which were incredible and exceeded my imagination.

Well I’ve rambled on longer than I expected, so I guess it’s time to wrap this up.  Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows Part 2 is a very good conclusion to the epic saga, not the best but still good.  The solid acting, brilliant graphics, emotional stimulating soundtrack, and great camera work have made Rowling’s work come to life.  Unfortunately the action is still lacking and the pace is a little too quick for me to say this was the best movie of the summer.  I applaud the company’s efforts at adapting Rowling’s work and give this movie an 8.5-9.0 for being exciting, though not living up to the hype that the trailers painted.

It’s The New Mr. Magoo!

I first saw the trailer for Zookeeper when I saw Super 8 about a month ago.  Two of my friends of that group gave it thumbs down, another gave it a so-so, and me I was kind of looking forward to it.  Now I did expect it to be juvenile and I didn’t think this movie would be the best thing to hit theatres, but to my surprise I found it to be much more enjoyable then I expected.  Zookeeper is a family film, not kid’s film mind you, that can appeal to a wide variety of ages.  So sit back, relax, and read about this wild adventure.

So if you haven’t seen the trailer, Zookeeper is about Griffin Keyes (Kevin James) an enthusiastic zoo keeper who has had his heart broken by his former girlfriend Stephanie (Leslie Bibb).  After starting to move on with his life, he has another run in with Stephanie and his emotions begin to get the best of him again as he plans on changing his career to get the girl.  The animals hearing this announcement come up with a plan to help Griffin get the girl while staying at the zoo to take care of him.  This plan involves the animals talking to and teaching Griffin how to tap into his natural animal instincts and make him a more desirable man.  Along the way Griffin also get some help from a few human friends who help provide some emotional support, but talking animals are his biggest support group.

 

As usual I’ll start with the acting.  Kevin James plays his typical comedic role being loud, random, and a klutz.  The combination of these three qualities is what helps make Griffin funny often saying something awkward and random which lead to situations where he is typically screaming and goofing up something.   There were plenty of times I was laughing at just how Kevin James reacted to the situation and was still just as impressed by his performance.  To help counterbalance the humor though, James also plays that sweet, sentimental, caring, innocent, and sensitive role that he has played in various moviesIt helps bring some emotion to the role, and James’s way of naturally acting like a loser kind of hits close to home for those who have not had an easy time with romance.  However, if you’ve seen him play this role, like in Hitch, then you’ve basically seen the main character of this film.  Other human actors that helped out with this movie are Rosario Dawson who played the veterinarian Kate.  Her role was kind of Griffin’s best human friend, being sweet, outgoing, and loyal to Griffin’s character.  Leslie Bibb, in all of her beauty, plays the sensational and image obsessed Stephanie and does a great job playing the role, though sometimes she sound airheaded in the process.  The final major player is Griffin’s rival Gale (Joe Rogan) who plays an arrogant, Northern, and self-absorbed jock who is also trying to win Stephanie’s heart.  Again Rogan plays this role quite well and captures the jerk nature in more ways in one, which really makes you dislike him from the very start.

However what really provided the comedy for this movie were the animals giving Griffin the advice to win over Stephanie.  Perhaps what made me laugh the most was the clever comedy in the animal’s advice, which many times referenced the ecology of various animals.  The various niches, roles, and behavior patterns that one can see on animal planet are brilliantly integrated into comedic dialog, which had everyone in the audience laughing hard.  Another thing that adds a little spice to the already funny dialog is the voice cast for this film.  This cast includes Adam Sandler, Sylvester Stallone, Cher, Maya Rudolph, Jon Favreau, and others each placed with an appropriate animal that mirrored their personalities.  The voice work and nice timing of the dialog also helped with the comedy in the dialog, with the actors saying the lines just right to make the lines even funnier.

The comedy however is not the only strength this movie has going for it.  One big positive for me was how fun and upbeat the film was.  Although the story was simple, I had a lot of fun getting to know the animals, watching Kevin James make a fool of him, and actually seeing the animals do some neat tricks.  The pace was also pretty fast and didn’t really drag out, which kept me interested in the film.  Yet another positive was the fact that a majority of the cast had some decent character development and were not just some mindless idiots spouting out random comedic moments.  Yes, there was some idiotic moments, but instead of it being like the Hangover or Harold and Kumar there was actually other levels to the characters.  I also enjoyed the happiness in the movie and the morals it can teach to the audience.  Instead of the characters being unhappy, greedy, or rage filled, most of the cast was happy with their life at the beginning but found even more happiness as the movie progressed.  Although some of the goals and relationships in the movie were cheesy and some of the happiness was drawn out, there were still some good morals within the movie.

 

However there are some flaws with this movie that many people have been picking out in their reviews.  For one thing, many reviews seem to hate the fact that the comedy is immature, childlike, and not very original.  Although this is true, the fact that this is supposed to be a family movie should have been a big hint that the comedy is not like what we’ve seen in movies like Brides Maids, the Hangover, etc.  However, I will agree that the comedy can get old after a while.  Another big weakness is some of the lines, situations, and relationship issues are drawn out, overdramatic, or cheesy and not really believable.  This may not matter in a family movie, but still this movie may have had given the movie a little more depth and a little less eye rolling.  Perhaps the biggest flaw to the movie though is how predictable the movie is from the start.  Within probably 10-20 minutes I was able to predict about eighty percent of the movie and I was able to get the rest of the movie within a half an hour.  Thus the original ideas are really lacking in this movie and may not impress you.  If you predict the movie like I did, then you may get bored with the movie, but I thought the cuteness and cleverness of the movie were enough to keep it interesting.

Zookeeper may not be the best movie in the entire world and may just be a modern day Mr. Magoo.  However, it’s a nice family movie with a lot of clever jokes, good morals, and heartwarming moments that should be enjoyable by most.  If you’re not a fan of comedy that is not crude, rude, or raunchy then yes you want to avoid this movie.  If you don’t need this kind of comedy then I strongly suggest seeing this movie or at least NetFlixing it when it comes out on DVD.  Keeping everything in mind, I’ll give Zookeeper an 8.0 or 8.5 for accomplishing its goal and for being a fan of Kevin James.  So as always my friends have fun and keep enjoying the movies and I’ll see you next time.