Cute Comedy, Tired Story

How many times can Snow White be remade?  The answer to that question for directors seems to be an infinite number of times.  Today the latest remake Mirror Mirror released and so far has received negative reviews.  After seeing the countless trailers for this film, I had my doubts as to whether this movie would be entertaining or just another mediocre kids movie to collect dust on the shelves.  What was my verdict?  Read on to find out.

Mirror, Mirror, like all the Snow White remakes, starts out with a back-story about the white skinned maiden and the evil queen who is jealous of her looks.   The lovely Snow White (Lily Collins) is a prisoner in her own castle forced to obey arrogant queen’s (Julia Roberts) rules.  However as fate would have it, the prince (Armie Hammer

) of a very rich kingdom shows up at the palace after having a run in with the dwarves and soon the queen’s plans begin to unfold.  One of the major twists to this story is that the dwarves are no longer miners, but thieves and attempt to bring Snow White into their career.  I don’t want to say too much more though, as I fear I will ruin too much.

What do I have to say about this movie?  Well perhaps the biggest thing I want to say is how much I laughed in this movie.  I know a surprise right, but Mirror Mirror had a variety of comedy that was funny for both children and adults.  The dwarves in particular had such a wide range of personalities, which led to some very amusing dialog and actions that did not grow stale for me.  I was impressed with how well the production team developed their characters, and how well balanced the characters were, with not one dwarf hogging all the attention. The other characters themselves also had some clever one-liners, with Brighton (Nathan Lane) perhaps being my second favorite character of the bunch.  Lane’s natural sarcasm and ability to be spineless allowed for some well timed lines that had the audience and me laughing hard, and his character seemed to be a bridge to the other characters.  Roberts’ portrayal of the queen was fine, but this role made the queen more a royal snob, than an evil sorceress with a vengeance to destroy her rival.  Collins on the other hand nailed the fair maiden role and her quaint, politeness seemed to come naturally to her, plus she was very cute to look at.  However, she does have some work to do on the crying/sad role, as her acting for these kinds of scenes felt overacted and simplistic.

What else does this movie have that made it fun?  The pace for one thing is pretty good.  It doesn’t take long for the back-story to be told, and the humor pretty much starts ten minutes in the movie and doesn’t stop until the end of the movie.  To my surprise there was some action in the film, juvenile action mind you but still action, that was both humorous and well choreographed.  Some of these scenes even allowed for some character dialog that helped with the character development without being too slow.  Another factor is probably how cute this movie is.  Whether it is the positive humor, the beautiful maiden, or even the playful nature of the dwarves, this movie is one that is supposed to make you feel good.  I would also say there is a good balance in this movie, not just in pace, but in comedy and story as well.  It’s definitely not the best I’ve seen, but Mirror Mirror kept the story going without going overboard in humor.

There were some things in this movie that still needed some work though.  One thing would be that this story is still another Snow White remake and although there were some twists to classic tale, it still was the same tried and true story.  Those who go in here expecting it to not be predictable should turn around now, because you can pretty much see every major thing coming in this film.  Another thing is although there is humor for both adults and children; there is still a shift towards the younger audience in this film.  Many of the situational comedy scenes were of exaggerated punches, smacks on the butt, or even some over exaggerated running into trees.  Finally the romance that takes place in this movie is also more preteen fantasy like as well, which of course means a bit cheesy and over magical, though that wasn’t too big of a problem for me.

Overall Miror, Mirror wasn’t that bad of a movie and is definitely a good family film for those with younger children.  The comedy of the dwarves and Brighton were definitely the highlights of the movie, and the acting for the most part wasn’t bad.  However, the fact that this is a remake and more for the younger audience really makes it hard to recommend as a must see in the theaters, unless you want a cute date movie to go laugh at.  My scores for this movie are as follows:

Adventure/Comedy:  8.0-8.5

Movie overall:  7.0

So until next week my friends this is Robbie K. signing off and reminding you to enjoy the movies.

Wrath Is Better Than Clash

Hard to believe that two years ago we were watching Sam Worthington

Playing the role of Perseus and attempting to stop the gods’ tyranny over the human world in Clash of the Titans.  That movie was mediocre at best, but had some decent mythological adventure that got many people back into the Greek culture.  So when I saw a sequel coming out I thought, “Hey Wrath of the Titans looks like it will make up for what its predecessor lacked.”  Today I gave Wrath of the Titans a try and well it’s pretty much like the first one with a few improvements.  Read on to find out more about this sequel.

 

The premise of this story is quite ironic to me, as instead of trying to destroy the Gods Perseus is instead trying to help them from obliteration.  A lack of praying by the humans has left the Gods weak and as a result their imprisonment of the Titan Kronos is slowly fading.  Perseus is thus charged with the task of finding a way to stop this from happening, even if it means venturing to the underworld itself.

 

I know the quest sounds promising and combined with the trailers, I was thinking this adventure was going to be full of fast paced action that the other one lacked.  The good news is the directors managed to improve a bit of the action, a few of the scenes through the quest were actually well planned, coordinated, and full of Greek against monster action.  I’m happy to say that the ending battles delivered the action I was looking for, with many of the human vs. Titan minions mimicking Lord of The Rings style action.  Most of the scenes were even well captured, the camera work for once not being too jumpy to avoid showing off the detailed battle.  Unfortunately, the planners decided to once again insert a massacre scene where a good portion of the party gets whacked in a matter of seconds; though I will say this scene was much better than the Medusa hunting scene in the previous movie.

 

Now I’ve mentioned a lot of monsters, creatures, and fighting scenes so far in this review and you may be asking, “Hey Robbie, how was the CGI surrounding the action?”  The answer to that question is pretty good, as the designing team managed to make the various Greek monsters come to life in terrifying ways.  Environments and battlefields were well detailed from the gritty dusty plains, to the dark filled caves of the underworld, and were not the polished, clean, artificial worlds that we’ve seen in countless Star Wars films.  The editing with the CGI was also well done and flowed smoothly with little if any choppy animated movements, with the extras also interacting well with the artificial environment.  Perhaps it’s here I will mention that the musical score was excellent.  Every scene in this movie had the right touch of music to help spur the emotion and pull you further into the scene.  Albeit it sounds like all the other orchestra works in countless movies, I was still impressed by how well the score and scenes went together.

 

As for characters/acting purposes, well there really isn’t that much of a change from the prequel.  Worthington plays the exact same role as the first film, and essentially performs the same way he did two years ago, with the exception of he has more action this time. Liam Neeson still knows how to play Zeus, and has that same monotone, deep, smooth voiced delivery of his lines that has made him famous in countless movies.  The leading lady for this movie is not Io, but instead Queen Andromeda (Rosamund Pike) who has a little more fight to her despite the fact that most of the emotion and lines are delivered in the same manner.  However, I think the best characters for me in this movie were Agenor (Toby Kebbell) and Hephaestus (Bill Nighy). Both of these characters brought comedic relief to the movie, yet still had other qualities about them that separated them from the typical fool sidekick.  Kebbell is kind of like the Russell Brand in this movie, except not drunk, while Nighy had more of the eccentric and crazy humor at his disposal.  I do admit there were a few times in his dialog where he brought back his Davy Jones accent, which had me laughing.  Other than the rest of the cast was fine, but nothing to really brag about other than maybe Ralph Fiennes who showed off his ability to be dark, gloomy, and cunning, and this time without the cheesy scream.

 

Overall Wrath of the Titans was an improvement over its predecessor, but it’s still nothing to brag about.  While the action was better, it still didn’t live up to what I had gotten from the trailer, at least not until the end.  The simple plot was also very predictable and linear, with not too many surprises happening along the way.  I also felt that the trailer had set up a lot of other mythological legends, but when it came time to deliver them well they weren’t that exciting to experience.  So my scores for this movie are the following:

 

Action/Adventure:  7.0 -7.5

Movie overall:  6.5

 

I would say this movie is worth a Netflix or rent, and definitely not worth a 3-D ticket price.  However, I would say that fans of Greek mythology will probably not be disappointed with the latest Titans installment.  Check back soon for my review on Mirror Mirror and as always keep enjoying the movies. 

Does It Satisfy Your Hunger?

            On this hot day I decided to cool off by going to my favorite thing of all time, that’s right a movie.  This week’s flick I decided to check out was the Hunger Games, the movie based on Suzanne Collins’ book.  Now despite the international sensation that is the book, I wondered just how well the movie would live up to the hype and excitement that has built up over the past few months.  Right now I’ll tell you it is a decent movie, but for me did not live up to the craze.

Perhaps the first thing I should say in this movie is how spot on the acting was for every character.  As we saw in X-Men first class, Jennifer Lawrence‘s acting ability is incredible and very believable.  Lawrence seems to have a knack for playing classic characters, and she managed to fill the very big shoes of the main character Catniss.  Starring opposite of her is Josh Hutcherson who plays Peeta.  Hutcherson was a good pick for this role as his work in the past has required him to play that quiet, awkward, nice boy who seems to get caught in the most unfortunate situations and still come out okay.  The duo seemed to have a natural chemistry for their roles, and their interactions mirrored what they read in the book.  The mentors of Cinna (Lenny Kravitz) and Haymitch (Woody Harrelson) were also well done.  Harrelson in particular captures the drunk, desperado quite well, yet portrays the concerned and caring tutor at the same time.  It still surprises me how much of a chameleon he is as well.  As for the other contestants, the casting did their jobs well and managed to select the right people in both look and attitude, especially Rue (Amandla Stenberg).  Yes there are plenty of other actors to mention, but I only have limited space so I’ll end this part with saying Stanley Tucci) was the perfect choice for Caesar, and his cheesy smile fit right in with the setting.

But Robbie did they stick close to the story?  Yes, they did, for the most part anyway.  The crew in charge of this movie managed to adapt the book well, especially with the scenes and sequences focusing on the games.  A lot of the man vs. nature element, or in this case woman vs. nature is captured with the camera work in the right angles to make one feel as if you were right there with Catniss.  Most of the character interactions are shown as well, though a few of the extra actors have some laughable moments where they overact.  What the movie lacks from the book however is a lot of the memories and internal thoughts that Catniss has, which as we know is kind of what the book focuses on.  Parts where she is sitting in a tree, combing through the woods, or even sitting in a cave were a little less interesting without realizing what was going on in her head.  Had they had that internal conflict it would have probably brought a little more understanding to some of the scenes, but again it’s a movie and there is only so much more you can do.

What else do I have to say about this movie?  Well for one thing let’s talk about the action.  Depending on what you consider good action will determine whether or now you are impressed with this movie.  Those looking for exciting, fast paced, weapon on weapon action will not be impressed with this movie as there is very little combat between the contestants.  The little amount of combat there is a little difficult to follow, as the camera shows only glimpses of the fighters as it zooms around like a chicken with its head cut off.  I suppose this is to avoid showing graphic kills on young kids, which is a good thing, but if that were going to be the approach I would have just skipped this scene.  However, those who are looking for more the survival action and clever use of environment for killing, will be satisfied with this movie.  Regardless of the action, the pace of the movie is good, not too fast and not too slow.  All of the emotions you read in the book are in the film as well, and there were plenty of times I saw the audience quiver, cry, and cringe at the various scenes in the movie.

To wrap this up, Hunger Games is a good movie that is definitely one of the better book adaptations I have seen in a while.  With its fantastic acting, beautiful scenery, and accurate representation of the book, this film definitely deserves some attention.  However, it still wasn’t worth the hype for me and still has some things I missed from the book.  Action wise it was okay, but again I’m more for fast paced action as opposed to the survival action seen in this movie.  My final scores for this movie are as follows:

Action/Sci-fi:  7.0-7.5

Movie overall: 8.0

I would say it’s worth a trip to the theater and a good movie to see with friends, significant others, or even by your self.  Until next time though this is Robbie K signing out.

Summed Up In Less Than A Thousand Words

 

 

 

 

 

 

Let’s face it Eddie Murphy hasn’t been making grade A movies over the past few years, at least none that matched his earlier films.  So I can’t help but admit that I was a little skeptical when I saw A Thousand Words advertised on T.V.  To my surprise however, I was actually entertained with this picture, and even more surprised by the serious message present in this film.  So sit back, relax, and read more about Eddie Murphy’s newest film A Thousand Words.

 

The movie basically starts out like any other movie he stars in with Eddie Murphy, playing Jack McCall, being involved in some busy career and the rest of his life is essentially put on hold.  As usual, these opening scenes are filled with his classic crude humor, some of which was funny for me and some I had heard countless times before.  Murphy’s mouth is as filthy as ever, and those who love hearing him scream and curse will not be disappointed at the majority of his dialog at the beginning of the movie.  However, things change when the guru Sinja (Cliff Curtis) is visited by McCall and the blood bond between a magical tree and McCall get  his thousand word limit, where every word he speaks (and writes) results in a leaf falling off the tree.  From this point onward, the comedy style takes a different path and involves a combination of funny dialog, situational comedy, and of course some funny gestures that made me chuckle.  With a limited number of words at his disposable, the writers did a nice job picking the right words at the right moment.  There were countless times I laughed as he said one or two words at just the right moment to have me laughing.  Instead of Murphy saying most of the funny lines though, his apprentice Aaron (Clark Duke) provided most of the zingers.  Duke manages to once again play the naïve, immature teenager who knows how to say the wrong things, at the wrong time, in the most awkward way possible.  As a result it works,  though it does get annoying after the fifth or sixth time.  What was funnier for me however, were the comedic situations Murphy’s character was forced to endure.  A few charade scenes, the escort of a blind man, and countless business meetings that required him to speak made me crack up at various points in the movie.

However, comedy is not the only thing this movie has to offer.  A Thousand Words has a message built into it that really hit me deep down.  Now revealing this message would ruin a lot of things about this movie, so I can’t tell you what it is.  The way they presented the message is free game though, and quite well done.  I applaud the director’s brilliant technique of building up the tension in the movie using temporary lulls in the comedy to develop the situation.  When the limit is reached however, the group manages to capture the emotions with a combination of fitting music, great camera angles, and just the right balance of screen time to capture the actor’s emotion.  Murphy surprised me with how serious a role he can play and I admit there were one or two times I nearly teared up.   Yes there were points where this movie was a little preachy and cheesy, but overall it tugged at my heart strings and made me really appreciate what they had to say.  However, it’s up to you to see the movie and see if the message affects you the same way.

Overall, A Thousand Words is a decent comedy, not the best or the crudest mind you, but still decent.  The nice balance of drama and comedy, on top of some good character development and clever use of props and the environment were very entertaining for me.  Yes, it’s the same predictable Eddie Murphy movie you have seen in the past, but it’s finally getting back to his comedic roots, while still providing some dynamic emotion that I haven’t seen him do in a while.   Is it worth a trip to the theater?  Well for comedy not really, you can get the fun laughs just as well at home.  However, the strong spiritual message this movie offers I think is worth a trip, but that’s just me.  Regardless here are the scores:

 

Comedy:  6.0

Movie Overall:  7.0

 

So as always enjoy the movies my friends and tune in next week for a review on 21 Jump Street.

A Trip To Mars that’s not as action packed

               

 

 

 

 

 

For many months I have been waiting for the John Carter movie to come out, my interest continuously stimulated by the wonderful trailers that have plagued the T.V.  The idea of a civil war on Mars with an impending threat to destroy Earth was very interesting to me and I believed that I was in for an action packed treat.  Now the question you may be asking, as I have written countless times, is did I get what I wanted out of this movie.  The answer is yes on most things, but no on some others qualities.  Read on to find out more about what the highlights of this movie.

John Carter starts off with a bit of back story of the war on Mars and how Captain Carter (Taylor Kitsch) wound up on the red planet.  However, the movie quickly turns into a desert adventure and how Carter begins to adapt to the cultures of the local fauna, the Thark a race of green, four-armed, lanky Martians led by their leader Tars Tarkas (Willem Dafoe).  Soon Carter has a chance encounter with the lovely princess Dejah (Lynn Collins) and a new quest is bestowed upon Carter that can help him return to his home world.

Yes, it sounds like a lot of science fiction movie we have seen in the past, but surely Disney has a few tricks up their sleeves to bring this plot to life.  Well my friends there are plenty of things about this movie that make it worth a trip to the theater.  One thing I wish to praise is the nice pace of the movie and the well-organized presentation of the story.  From the get go, the movie hits the ground running and is able to get to the red planet and still set up a nice story foundation.  I seldom found any parts in the movie that dragged, yet was not too fast that you lose any details.  The plot also had a little something for everyone, with romance, mystery, drama, and even a little adrenaline fueled sci fi action.  There was some predictability to the tale, but not as much as I have seen in other films in the past.  Supporting the story was a well written dialog that was not only fitting of the setting, but also quite funny and kept me laughing throughout the movie. I was also happy with the acting of this movie; the Kitsch and Collins do a fantastic job playing their roles, while James Purefoy played his usual strength of the villain.  The movie also contained some beautiful special effects, digital animation, and visual-audio editing that brought the Burroughs’ world to life.  Perhaps my favorite thing about the movie though was the alien dog that followed Carter around throughout the whole movie.  This six legged, big mouthed mutt didn’t have many lines, but his loyal antics, goofy smile, and loveable licking had me in stitches.

Despite all I liked about the movie, there was one big flaw for me, the action of the movie.  Once again I was fooled into thinking this movie was going to be action packed by the trailer.  A majority of the action scenes in this film were very brief, often nothing more than a few extras slashing, stabbing and dying, before some giant flash brought the battle to an end.  There were multiple occasions where the lead up to the movie promised great action, only to end in a simple, anti-climactic, sword slash or punch that ended the battle in an instant.  Yes disappointing I know, but there are a few scenes that were actually decent, and for once the camera work actually kept up with the action keeping the camera focused on the person involved.  This was essentially the only weakness I could pick up on, though I’m sure there are a few minor things out there I didn’t catch.  Maybe I could say there were a few loose ends left untied that I would have liked to seen to tied up, but perhaps a sequel will answer these questions.

John Carter is a decent flick and is fun for a variety of movie goers.  The fantastic editing, beautiful digital art, and good pace keep the movie enjoyable.  On top of that both men and women should enjoy some eye candy that the main actor and actress provide.  However, I say again that those looking for a die-hard action flick may be a little disappointed with the film’s anti-climactic battles.  The following are my scores for this movie:

 

Action Adventure movie:  7.0-7.5 (more for the adventure than the action)

Movie overall:  8.0

Check back later for my review on A Thousand Words and keep enjoying the movies.

This House Should Be Foreclosed

 

 

 

 

Silent House

With the last horror movie I saw, The Woman in Black, impressing me I decided to give a Silent House a try.  Now from the trailers I didn’t know what to expect other than a girl, a house, and of course some unknown killer that is in a house.  I have to say I wasn’t too excited about this tired and true plot, but I still had hopes that it would be well done or contain a surprise I didn’t see coming.  Did I get what I wanted from this movie?  In a nutshell no, this movie didn’t deliver for me, and was definitely not one of the better horror movies I’ve seen.  To find out more details about this flick keep on reading.

Silent House focuses on a young girl named Sarah (Elizabeth Olsen) and her father (Adam Trese) as they attempt to fix up an old house they used in the summer, with the help of her Uncle Peter (Eric Sheffer Stevens).  While working on cleaning up a room, Sarah happens to hear a noise upstairs that she and her father investigate and soon the terror begins as Sarah attempts to uncover the meaning for the attacks.  See Trailer here

So what was the problem with this fairly simple plot that is typical of a horror movie?  The big problem was the way it was presented.  For one thing most of the movie was shot essentially in the dark, with most of the screen time being shots of shadows, walls of the house, and of course the floor.  While the darkness does provide a nice slice of fear, making your imagination paint the picture of what lurks in the shadows and what is to befall the girl. Combined with the eerie silence, enclosed spaces, and occasional creepy music, the scenery really had the potential to continue scaring you or in my case making you feel alone in the house.  Despite this though, this fear is overshadowed by a few things that were pathetic.  One thing is the camera work that was jumpy, out of focus and spastic.  It may have been a cost cutting method, it may have been an attempt to make the scenes more chaotic, but this at best amateur level camera work was really more distracting than anything.  The combination of the lighting and camera work did help with one thing, hiding the face of the killer. The poor lighting of this movie helped with establishing the freakiness of the movie, but the explanation behind the poor lighting was pretty pathetic.  .  What I mean by this is the house was incredibly dark because all the windows had been broken and boarded up and the electricity just happened to be off was incredibly cheesy to me and just a poor reason to use poor lighting.

Pushing aside the creepy settings, was there anything else scary about this movie?  Well from the audience’s reaction, yes there were some moments that caused people to scream or jump in their seats.  I do have to applaud that unlike most horror movies, these scenes were not obvious to me to pick out, mostly because the entire movie was filmed like something was going to jump out, and that adds some unpredictability to the film.  Unfortunately for fans who like to jump, these scenes are few and far in between, and a majority of the scaring attempts come from Sarah’s screaming, which does get annoying at times.  It is here I will also say that a lot of the scariness to the movie gets diluted by the fact that although the stalker is so close to her, he somehow can never catch Sarah, which made this villain either really slow, or just plain pathetic as a killer.

Perhaps the final thing I wish to comment on is how unorganized I felt the film was.  There was a lot of random flashing, jarring movements, and screaming, which I believe was an attempt to add a little mystery to the movie.  Unfortunately it came out more confusing than anything until I figured out the twist about halfway through the movie.  Once I had that foundation down, the shots made sense, though they were still sporadically thrown out through the movie.  As for the twist, for me it was anticlimactic and a little cheap written, which left me disappointed.  Although there is some justice in the end, and those who like the emotion driven revenge plots should be happy with the ending.

Overall Silent House is a movie worth a Netflix rent and really nothing more.  With little dialog, amateur camera work, and the anticlimactic ending there really is not much to drive you to come to the theater.  I do applaud the creepy setting they painted, and the girl was cute as well, but other than that I can’t really say much more.  My scores for this movie are as follows:

 

Horror:  5.5-6.0

Movie overall:  4.0-4.5

 

Until next time keep enjoying the movies.