Uncensored Family Guy With A Teddy Bear

What happens when you cross Peter Griffin with Rupert the teddy bear from Family guy?  The answer is Seth McFarlane’s latest movie entitled Ted, which is a movie about a teddy bear that comes to life.  Now don’t get me wrong I’ve enjoyed countless episodes of Family Guy and American Dad, but the first scene in the trailer where Ted (McFarlane) is smoking a bong already painted a big warning on this movie.  An even bigger surprise for me was seeing Mark Wahlberg participating in this film, apparently trading the strong male role for something a little more childish.  Regardless sit back and relax as I give you some insight into the movie known as Ted.

I’ll start off by warning everyone that if you don’t like the Family Guy series, than this is not the movie for you.  From the start of the movie there are plenty of classic jokes, mannerisms, and vulgar actions that are sure to offend multiple people.  Unlike the television series though, in this R rated movie the censorship gloves have come off and McFarlane’s vulgarity is left unhindered.  Without any restrictions, McFarlane decided to focus on drug comedy to an even more inappropriate extent.  Seeing a child’s toy constantly smoke weed, drink alcohol, and make constant sexual limericks gets a little weird and inappropriate at times.  On top of that, McFarlane’s racist jokes are back in full force and he leaves almost no ethnicity left untouched, sometimes stepping over the line.  The other downfall of no censorship is that the comedy is not as clever or creative as it is in family guy, as the drug humor is fairly shallow and repetitive.  Naturally with the lack of censorship also came the F word, and just about everyone in the cast was happy to drop these bombs left and right.  As many rated R movies tend to do, Ted uses the F word to a level where it is no longer funny, but instead annoying.  In a nutshell the comedy of this movie is meant mainly for those who enjoy crude humor mixed with immature, unbelievable, stunts that.

However, McFarlane still caters to some other comedy styles at various points in the movie that were funny, usually due to a random insult of Ted.  The Teddy Bear had some one-liners that were rather clever, or at least ridiculously delivered that you couldn’t help but laugh.  Even some of his antics were funny, in particular the imitations of countless celebrities.  Of course being a movie fan as I am, the clever integration of countless movie references with the other rants was rather funny and gave Rango a run for its money.  Even some of the flashback scenes that McFarlane made famous in Family Guy make an appearance in this movie helping to provide some extra laughs while simultaneously providing a break from the drug humor.

Aside from the comedy though there are a few other things I thought were well done in this movie.  Although I find it shocking that Mark Wahlberg would play such a role, he convinced me of being a 35 year old man-child.  I don’t know if it was the constant whiny tone in his voice, or his childish actions/dialog, but Wahlberg did a nice job conveying how scared he was of growing up.  Countering his childish nature was Mila Kunis who not only looks good as she always does, but actually plays a mature role in this flick.  If you’re a girl or a guy who has finished drooling over her gorgeous face and body, you may appreciate the seriousness of her role.  Kunis helps to drive the moral of the story while still providing a few zingers that had me chuckling from time to time.  Even a few of the extras have some funny moments, typically they are stupid or unreal, but still they are funny.

There are a few other positives to this film; the first that comes to mind is animation of Ted.  For a guy who has only done cartoon animation, I’m impressed with the CGI work of Ted.  Throughout the entire movie, the teddy bear moves without any flaws, glitches, or lags and at times seems to look not digital at all.  Yes many audience members for this movie could care less, but for me I can’t help but say well done to the animation team.  The actors also helped integrate the pixelated bear into the scenes, using their skills to react to Ted as if he were a prop standing right next to them.  A second positive is that despite a rather predictable and shallow story, there was a good moral that hit home with me.  That moral focuses on growing up and that we all have to do it sooner or later, or face the consequences of never living a true life.  My words make it sound corny, but for those who keep an open mind during the movie you may experience a light bulb moment or reminisce on a growing up moment.

Ted is essentially a glorified, uncensored Family Guy episode that is a good stress reliever movie, especially if you’ve just finished an Organic Chemistry class.  Yet the lack of censorship allowed McFarlane to be a little bit lazier on his comedic style, which somehow led to me being drowned in drug humor.  If that is what you want, check this film out this weekend and have a laugh.  However, I think this movie can wait for Netflix and you’ll get more laughs by watching Family Guy instead.  The scores for the movie are the following:

Comedy/Fantasy:  7.0

Movie Overall:  5.5

Tune in tomorrow for some reviews on the other movies that have come out and as always enjoy.

Bold Visualization, Fun Story

Ever since A Bug’s Life, Pixar has been known as the studio to make animated movies.  Most of their work is upbeat, fun, and quite entertaining on many levels, yet still has some emotional or moral connection to drive it home.  Rather than doing another sequel as we have seen the past two summers, Pixar decided to release another original movie entitled Brave, which has been promoted for the last five months.  However, without the colorful monsters, adventurous toys, or wacky cars I was a little hesitant about seeing it.  So how was Pixar’s latest work?  Read on to find out.

In case you haven’t seen the countless trailers and advertisements on Disney Channel, Brave is the tale of Merida (voiced by Kelly Macdonald) a princess of a Scottish kingdom.  The flaming red haired maiden has a thing for adventure and freedom, but her mother Queen Elinor (Emma Thompson) refuses her freedom due to the violation of tradition and the threat of war.  However, Merida’s tomboyish nature makes her refuse tradition and resorts in her making a wish from a swamp witch (Julie Walters) that may shake the future of the kingdom to its core.

The plot from the first commercial I saw had the potential for adventure, and Pixar did a fantastic job delivering the promise.  From the beginning of the movie, Merida’s journey is fun, exciting, and although not the usual action I like was still fast enough to keep me entertained. The balance in the film was nice to see, a good blend of comedy and mystery to keep one in the adventure without being too over the top.  Unlike most of their movies that are filled with lots of zany laughs, cooky antics, and cartoon comical voices, Brave leans more towards story telling than laughs.  As a result, the humor is a little bit more mature than other installments and the adventure is a little bit scarier.  Unlike Toy Story and Ratatouille, Brave is filled with louder and more vicious creatures that in the theater be too loud and dark for the average Pixar film.  Thus, exercise caution when taking your kids to see it.  However, these characteristics give this film an edge that hasn’t been seen since the Incredibles.  Perhaps what is also really well done in this film are the morals integrated within the story.  Although a bit preachy at times, Merida does a nice job promoting the two lessons of the importance of family and working together to accomplish goals, something Congress needs to learn.

The voice acting is pretty good too and is another factor that helps bring the adventure to life.  Macdonald nailed the tomboy Irish girl down and managed to capture the teenage sprit down pretty well.  Thompson on the other hand was the perfect candidate for the queen, as her English accent was a useful tool to help bring the character to life.  Even Billy Connolly surprised me with his voice acting, as he was the most entertaining of the crew.   For once his voice was actually well suited for a role that didn’t involve being a drunk pirate or soldier, and I couldn’t stop laughing at his various shouts and phrases towards the crew.

However, the biggest thing that impressed me were the visuals of the movie.  As many reviewers have already stated, Brave is spectacularly designed to bring the Scottish hitherlands to life.  The water and trees of the marshes and loch are stunningly detailed and shaded to look real, casting shadows to help bring the feeling of dread in the forest.  The water is still well modeled to reflect the light even in the tiniest water droplets, which still impresses me.  Although most of the characters had that classic cartoony look, they did manage to make the hair look real and react to the various antics of the characters.  Again some of the character structure still needs some work on the realistic scale, but overall Brave had beautiful visual work.

There are not too many weaknesses I can pick up on this movie, mostly because I was very entertained by the adventure.  If I had to pick though, I would say one thing is the story was again pretty predictable with only one twist really getting me.  Two is that this movie didn’t have the typical quick pace that its movies typically have.  While I enjoyed the deep character development, the moral lessons and the adventure, it still was not as quick as the others.  However, these are only slight weaknesses that I have picked up.

Brave is indeed a welcome addition to the Pixar ranks, and is worth a trip to the theater if you are looking for a family movie.  Again I warn you of the scary images and in some cases slight nudity that you may not want to expose them too.  However, it’s still the same Pixar magic that keeps us coming back for more.  My scores for this movie are the following:

Animation/Action/Adventure: 8.0-8.5

Movie Overall: 7.5

A Dash Of Armagheddon, A Pinch Of The Bucket List, and A Smidgeon of Due Date

Steve Carell has played various parts over the years, many of which I am not fond of.  His humor on The Office was more annoying than funny to me and rather one dimensional and under developed.  So when I saw he was one of the two major actors in Seeking A Friend For The End Of The World I had already wondered if this movie was worth a trip.  However, I decided to give it a try, not only for Keira Knightley, but for broadening my horizons once more.  What did I think about the movie?  Read on to find out.

In a classic soap opera like tale, Seeking a Friend centers on Dodge (Carell) whose wife has just left after hearing the end of the world is approaching.  The now depressed Dodge, whose life is not the most exciting, decides to spend his last few weeks finding his one true love from so long ago.  Accompanying him for the ride is a weed addicted hypersomniac named Penny (Knightley) who has plans to fly to England to be with her family before catastrophe hits.

At first I rolled my eyes upon hearing yet another drama filled romance movie, especially with the constant flood of these movies.  Yet upon seeing this film I was surprisingly rewarded with a decent film that had a lot of character development and culture presentation than a sappy love story, but more on that later.  Let’s start this review off by talking about the pace of the movie, which I thought at first was slow.  The initial introduction to the impending doom drags at the start, and has very little information that you didn’t get from the trailers.  However, once the journey for Dodge’s love starts the movie finally gets off the ground and the pace begins to pick up, though probably not fast enough for the action lovers.  Perhaps what really drives the pace/story of this movie is the intense character development of Dodge and Penny.  As the two get closer to their destinations, the audience gradually learns more about their background as they meet up with past friends and family they have long forgotten.  Unlike most dramas though, I felt that this movie did not drag on for the development, and kept the information fresh and new.  The story also seemed to naturally unfold as the characters’ past was revealed and somehow seemed to tie into plot and keep the movie going.  They also somehow managed to teach some good morals in the movie, without being too preachy or sappy, at least for the most part.  Instead of having tear filled, sobbing, and over dramatic conversations, they managed to keep the lessons real.   This may also be due to how well Carell and Knightley acted, since both managed to naturally fit into their character roles.  Instead of being an annoying boss spouting one liners one after the other, Carell actually was more down to earth and let his awkwardness and charisma bring out the laughs.  Knightley on the other hand took a stab at the immature romance role that had her playing multiple emotions, all well timed and balanced.

What is even more admirable is that they also managed to capture the reaction and atmosphere of the end of the world.  The team did a nice job capturing the various approaches to the end of the world, which opened up for a lot of comedy situations.  Awkward comedy, misunderstandings, well timed lines and political mannerisms were all in this movie and for those looking for some variety from the constant sex driven one liners, alcoholic rants, and slapstick comedy, you’ve come to the right movie.  However, some of the comedy was a little hard for me to understand so I might have missed some really good laughs.  Regardless the setting, casting, and camera work were all fantastically combined to bring the emotions to life.  At certain points in the movie one wonders just what the two are getting themselves into, while at other points you just enjoy the ride and admire the background.

Despite all the positives of this film though, there are a few negatives I found that were less entertaining.  As mentioned earlier the beginning drags for a while and makes for a rather boring film, which had me dosing off more times than one of my general studies classes.  A second downfall is the rather predictable storyline.  Yes there are a few scenes that have a little mystery and suspense to them, but overall you should be able to guess the ending faster than counting to ten.  Finally the last big weakness is the depressing mood that constantly settles over the entire movie.  Now I should have seen it in the title, but I still thought there would be a little more optimism in the movie.  While Knightley does her best to keep the attitude positive, the countless emotional back issues constantly bring your spirits down.  If that’s your cup of tea, again go for this movie as the depressing mood does keep the realism in check, which helps you get attached to the characters even more.

Seeking a Friend has many elements that make it a good movie to watch and reflect on.  Although not the most entertaining movie comedy wise, those looking for a film with relatable characters may want to give this film a chance.  Again the pace is slow, the plot fairly simple, and there is no magical love story where everything works out in the blink of an eye, but the realistic approach to problems, well timed laughs, and deep character development more than make up for it. I suggest you give this film a theater visit, but definitely worth a Netflix when available.  The scores for this movie are as follows:

Comedy/Drama/Romance:  8.0-8.5

Movie overall:  7.5

They Don’t Shine In This Flick

  It seems that vampires have the ability to do anything they please.  They can walk in the sun, bend the elements, and wield guns and swords like ninja warriors.  This weekend they add yet another quality to their ever growing list starting the civil war.  Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter has opened this weekend and just as the title has suggested, there is a load of cheesy ideas to fill this movie.  Was this like most vampire cheesiness though or does Abraham Lincoln’s tale stand out?  Read on and decide for yourself as I give some insight into the movie.

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, for those of you who haven’t seen the trailers, is a story that starts out with death.  A vampire by the name of Jack Barts (Marton Csokas) murders Lincoln’s mother as he watches in fear.  Nine years later, Lincoln (Benjamin Walker) attempts to avenge his mother by murdering the wise cracking vampire, only to fail his mission.  However, a new ally named Henry Sturgess (Dominic Cooper) save Lincoln and trains him in the art of vampire slaying to prepare him for a bigger mission.  That mission is to not eliminate one vampire, but a whole army that resides in the south who are planning to establish their empire one nation at a time.

Now let’s face it although the trailers have made it look really cool, the idea of our 16th president being the newest Buffy is a little out there.  Yes it is supposed to be a satire on a classic tale, but honestly why vampires and not something else.  Despite the cheesy ideas though, the production team did a clever job integrating their imagination with historical events.  The underground railroad, the silver mining operation, and the civil war were all modified to have an undead twist to help create a new story that was although cheesy entertaining to watch.  However, like most movies these days, the team sometimes stretches their creative minds too far, which results in some annoying/stupid ideas that make you roll your eyes. The varying dialog doesn’t help much as the most in depth comes from Lincoln’s various speeches and addresses that can be found in any textbook or historical site.  Sure a few of the jokes and one liners are funny, but it is due more to irony one sees with Lincoln saying them.

Perhaps the biggest strength of this movie is the action scenes, which for once has finally lived up to the trailers.  Lincoln’s moves are pretty sweet, and although it’s hilarious and rather ridiculous to see the president hacking away, the moves are rather well shot.  The various action scenes are diverse enough to keep the action fresh and fun, helping to give vampire slaying an edge that’s been missing for quite some time.  Lincoln uses his environment and hatchet to fulfill his hits, and most of the scenes are fast and exciting to bring one into the moment.  Unfortunately for some, there is also some rather disturbing and graphic factors that I wish to warn you about.  Those thinking of taking younger audience members may want to think twice as the countless close ups of vampires may have nightmare provoking faces and ear shattering screams that can scare you half silly.  If you’re one who gets sick from gore filled scenes then again avoid this movie as with nearly every swing follows a river of black blood.  Yet another thing that seems to go hand in hand with action these days is the 300 technique of delayed motion.  Like so many action scenes, Lincoln is filled with exaggerated swings and ducks that would put walking under water to shame. I can see two reasons for this overabundance of slow motion scenes.  Number one is to help emphasize the finishing kills and help the audience feel the thrill of the final kill.  The second reason, and perhaps the biggest reason, is many of the scenes were shot for 3-D.  Whether it’s throwing an axe, or a horizontal swing the movie has countless scenes to pop out of the audience, which in the 2-D version of the movie was lost on me.  However, for those who love the technique, well drink up this movie and enjoy.

I guess the last thing to comment on is the acting, which was okay but nothing special.  Walker does a decent job capturing both the younger and older versions of Lincoln, acting rogue enough to be a hormonal teenager, yet calm enough to be the authoritative figure.  As for Cooper, well he did a decent job playing the hunter as he captured the drifter/ranger character well.  However, he also had numerous other emotions down and when the time called for him to show those emotions he delivers.  The rest of the cast is fine and play their parts well, but I don’t have much room left to comment on their strengths, since the acting isn’t the strongest part of this movie.

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter is an entertaining movie that is full of action and gore.  Although the concept is rather ridiculous, it is worth a shot for any action lover or vampire movie watcher, though it is not a masterpiece.  The clever integration of fiction into fact is worthy of applause, despite the rather predictable story.  Perhaps the next time they do a movie like this though they find a better balance of using slow motion and perhaps even leave out the 3-D filming.  The scores for the film are below:

Action/Fantasy/Horror: 6.5- 7.0

Movie Overall:  6.0

Rock On!!!!!!

 When you think of Tom Cruise what comes to mind?  International Spy?  Samurai with a saki Problem?  Fugitive from aliens?  Well to my surprise the man of many roles adds another character to his repertoire, which is the fictional singer Stacey Jaxx.  If you are like me, you have never heard of this name, but as I found out from my Organic Professor Cruise’s newest movie Rock Of Ages is based off of a Broadway show.  While the show is quite popular, I had my doubts about seeing another musical come to life on the big screen, especially with Cruise taking a lead singing role.  What are my thoughts on this movie?  Keep on reading to find out.

The plot of this movie for those of you don’t know centers on Sherrie Christain (Julianne Hough) a country girl with a big dream of making it big in 1987 Hollywood.  She arrives to find the city to be much harsher than expected and quickly meets Drew Boley (Diego Boneta) a local bar worker.  The two of them soon start their adventure to fame that involves multiple characters, all of them with a story tied to none other than Stacey Jaxx (Tom Cruise).

Let’s start this review off on a positive note by talking about the music of this movie.  Now in the past musicals have not been the strongest movies, High School Musical 3 and Glee: The Movie being prime examples of failure.  However, in Rock of Ages the team managed to do the famous song justice to bring the 80’s music into the modern world.  Unlike a certain television show, Rock of Ages focuses more on musical balance by adding actual music to the number, instead of just relying on voices.  Even on heavy singing numbers there is a nice blend of voices instead of just one singer taking all the spotlight, which I liked.  I was impressed with the integration of classic rock guitars, pace setting drums, and dynamic voices that resulted in one heck of a soundtrack.  However, I must admit that it’s amazing how good a studio team can make a person sound, as some of these actors don’t have the voice of a singer, such as the Tom Cruise songs.  However, other stars like Hough, Boneta, and Blige sounded more natural as they performed flashy, well-choreographed dance numbers.  Perhaps what impressed me even more was the timing and placement of the various numbers throughout the movies.  Where most musicals fail to find a balance between singing and dancing, Rock of Ages managed to use their music to help emphasize the emotions of the characters while still adding to the story.

The second biggest strength of this movie is how well the team captured the lifestyle of 1987.  From the design of the crazy outfits to the strobe light infused club scenes, Rock of Ages is a visual tribute to the 80’s rock style.  I was completely immersed in the world, and felt I was learning about a culture that has long been extinct.  What also brought the world to life was the dynamic camera work.  Instead of settling on one camera angle to film the concert, the crew kept used varying angles to make one feel like they were at a concert in a club, from both audience and performer side.  The editing of the shots and sequences is even blended just right so that every lyric is perfectly lip synced, every intense guitar strum is flawlessly blended with the music, and the dance moves are coordinated with the acting scenes.

Despite all the strengths I have mentioned, there are a few weaknesses for me that I wasn’t a big fan of.  For one thing although the story was a decent love story, or should I say two love stories, there were a few intense sex scenes that weren’t to my liking.  I can appreciate the cultural references, but for a rock musical I could have done without these scenes, that include the French kissing scenes as well.  Although the acting was good for the most part, there was a few times where I found the acting annoying, especially with Tom Cruise’s trippy, alcohol infused, mumbled rants.  Russell Brand as well is his usual self, but without much variation in his routine, the one liners get a little old with the exception of a few well timed limericks.  Despite how much I enjoyed the music, there were a few of their versions I didn’t particularly care for, but as luck would have it these numbers were not too long so I didn’t have to suffer for too long.

Rock Of Ages is definitely one of the better musical movies I’ve seen in a long time.  Instead of being filled with cheesy, teenage dance numbers, and sappy, drama filled love stories this movie has a welcomed balance.  With lots of good humor, a fun soundtrack, and beautiful visuals this movie is definitely one I recommend for the theaters.  However, for those who don’t like the 80’s or can’t really understand the cultural statement I’ll tell you now to avoid this movie.  If you decide not to see it in theaters, then definitely plan to get it on Netflix ASAP.  As for those going for a shirtless Tom Cruise will get their money’s worth because there is seldom a scene where he is wearing a shirt.  My scores for this movie are the following:

Comedy/Drama/Musical:  8.0

Movie Overall: 7.0

Check back soon for my next review, and remember to keep enjoying the movies.

Party Flick- Nothing More

What do you think of when you see Adam Sandler?  For me it is a funny actor who hit his prime early on with movies like Billy Madison and Happy Gilmore and has had a few cute movies from time to time.  Unfortunately his latest movie titled That’s My Boy, is not one of those movies and instead takes a turn down the more vulgar comedy route.  Was it good?  To save you some time, not really, but for more informative details read on about this latest addition to the “comedy” family.

As I’m sure you have all seen, That’s My Boy tells the story about Donny (Sandler) who at the hormone crazy age of thirteen decides to have sex with his teacher.  This act of statutory rape somehow boosts Donny’s reputation and makes him a child super star loved by millions.  Thirty years later, Donny is on the fringe of going to jail for back taxes and decides to use his soon to be rich son “Todd”( Andy Samberg) to bail him out.  After not seeing each other for almost ten years, Donny decides to visit his son days before his wedding to attempt to reconnect with his illegitimate offspring, while also keeping his eyes on the prize.

If you think the trailer looked good, then I’ll let you know now this movie is for once summed up in the trailer.  That’s My Boy is a party flick with lots of booze, boobs, and sexual innuendos that are sure to make the party hard fans laugh and cheer in delight.  From square one the movie shows many details I cared not to see, such as inappropriate sex scenes, various gestures of self-pleasure, and even a few scenes of disposed sexual tools that were more than I needed to see.  When Sandler and the bunch aren’t getting their freak on, they are filling their time with excessive alcohol consumption.  Yes, just like the song that promoted the movie, there is seldom a scene where Sandler is not holding a beer.  In fact, he actually has quite a soiree of tools to open the bottles, some of which are amusing, and some that are rather stupid.  You might think that this would lead to some humorous antics, but instead it’s filled with rather childish actions that are more annoying than fun.  A few of the scenes have their moments, such as a convenient store owner joining in a drunken rant and a few humorous catches during the baseball scene, but that’s it.

Now you might think that the dialog could help make up for the lack of situational comedy, well you would be mistaken.  Like the plot, the various jokes and lines are incredibly shallow that are mainly filled with sleazy innuendos and in some cases pretty racist humor.  I’m sure it’s no surprise as well to hear that the major word used in this movie is the F word that seems to be the key to humor these days.  Perhaps what weakens the dialog even more is the delivery of it.  Sandler uses that throaty/horse scream he has made famous, while Samberg brings that teenage whine that becomes rather annoying.  However, the writers did have a few well timed jokes and anecdotes that had me and the audience laughing, but they are few and far in between, most of which are not in the trailers.  Aside from that though, there is nothing really special or entertaining to report on.

Surely there must be something good to this movie I can report on.  Perhaps the biggest strength of the movie is the soundtrack.  Throughout the film there were some fitting tunes that had me tapping my toes, especially the two eighty hits that were very catchy for me.  When the audience isn’t being blasted with music, there are some rather heartfelt moments between father and son.  Although cliché, these reuniting scenes pulled at my heartstrings and helped bring back memories of times with my dad.  The last thing I can say was a positive was the camera work was pretty well done.  While this may not be what you are looking for in a movie, the camera team did a nice job picking the right angle to make the limited humor as funny as it could be.  Unfortunately it was not enough to save the movie.  On a final note, those looking to check out some beautiful ladies may want to give this movie a shot.  There are countless moments where one will see a very pretty blonde or brunette spinning, twirling, soaking in a hot tub, or just prancing around in tight shorts.

That’s My Boy is definitely one of the more vulgar movies I’ve seen this summer.  People who are fans of movies like The Hangover, Project X, or the latest Harold and Kumar should give this film a try.  However, if you are looking for a film with more balance, better humor, and less annoyance I urge you to avoid it.  If you’re a Sandler fan however, I understand if you have to go see this film, but I encourage you to wait until Netflix or Redbox has it available.

Here are my scores:

Comedy:  6.0

Movie Overall:  4.5-5.0

Is Third Time Still The Charm? The Answer is Yes!

A kids movie is usually a reviewer’s worst nightmare, not for the movie, but instead the audience.  The constant chattering from kids, the excessive screaming and crying, and perhaps worst of all sitting behind a couple of adolescent’s who think it’s the best thing in the world to kick your chair are all annoying distractions.  However, I decided to face this annoyance and review the latest kids flick Madagascar 3 on this beautiful Sunday.  What were my thoughts on this movie?  Read on to find out.

With some of the recent disappointments I’ve seen this summer, I was thinking this sequel was a safe bet after seeing the trailers.  For those who haven’t seen the trailers, here is a quick summary.  The crazy animal quartet of Alex (Ben Stiller), Marty (Chris Rock), Gloria (Jada Pinkett Smith), and Melman (David Schwimmer) are tired of Africa where they traveled to in the last film.  Their destination is none other than the central park zoo, but they must first head to Monte Carlo to pick up the penguins and the chimps that have the only plane.  As expected, things don’t go as planned and the gang is soon chased by an elite animal hunter named Captain Dubois (Frances McDormand) and her silent posse.  In an attempt to elude her, they hitch a ride on a circus train, which is home to an energetic seal named Stefano (Martin Short), an aspiring Jaguar star Gia (Jessica Chastain) and a Tiger with an attitude named Vitaly (Bryan Cranston).  What will happen to the gang?

No surprise this movie was a safe bet, but at the same time was perhaps one of the most fun animated movies I’ve ever seen.  What started out as a mirror of the trailers for the first ten minutes became a wild ride of fun, humor, and balance that kept me entertained.  However, once the chase began the pace picked up and the surprises began to flood in.  One major surprise was how well the chase scene was done and the clever use of penguin ingenuity.  Although Dubois’ moves were a little over eccentric and silly at points, it was still exciting and perhaps the best chase scene since the Italian Job.  Another surprise came from the multiple stories embedded in this film.  The main story like always is for Alex and the gang to get home, but within the main tale lie stories of passion, dreams, pride, and unity that connect all of the characters together.  There are also a couple of love stories in the movie as well, one that is cute, the other more funny/ridiculous than anything else, both entertaining.  All of these stories, mixed in with some diverse comedy, were very entertaining and I felt that many audience members will love. 

The other major strength of this movie is the animation.  As I’ve said before, DreamWorks animation team knows how to make digital art come to life.  Throughout the entire movie the movements of the animals were smooth, flowing, and well edited that impressed me once more.  Even the lip work of the animals seemed to mimic the human way of speaking that is seldom seen in animation.  Yet this movie also had something the other two didn’t have, and that was being shot in 3-D.  Although I didn’t see it in 3-D, there were various shots that one could easily tell were meant to pop out at you, most likely to add another level of entertainment for the kids.  While most of the 3-D seemed to involve things flying out at the audience, there were a few scenes and sequences I thought would be fantastic in 3-D adding more depth, color, and pizazz to what was already a good scene.  The soundtrack for the film may have also helped with the entertainment values, especially one of the best uses of Katy Perry’s Firework song, even though I had heard it three times in the same movie.  Another thing I really enjoyed was that this was a fun, feel good movie that manages to give you an energy boost on some level.

Despite how much I enjoyed it though, there are a few weak things to mention that may or may not be important to you.  Perhaps one of the biggest weak areas is the lack of Mort, Maurice, and the penguin humor.  Although they had some show stealing moments, fans of these characters will be a little disappointed to see how little their humor they have.  Instead they shifted more of the focus on the new circus animals, in particular Stefano.  My next warning is for those who are not a fan of Martin Short comedy as the movie is filled with his constant screaming and anxiety filled dialog that was humorous for me at some points, but at some points annoying.  Perhaps a third thing to mention is how much the team focused on kiddy comedy than adult and kid comedy.  Unlike Shrek or even the first Madagascar, this film didn’t have the well-disguised adult humor and instead was more about juvenile bonking on the heads, and mindless screaming.  As I’m sure you can guess though, the movie is very predictable and at points shallow, but that is what most kids’ movies are these days.

Madagascar 3 is definitely one movie I suggest you head to the theaters to see.  Although you can guess what is going to happen, the animation and visual effects of the movie combined with the fun soundtrack are sure to keep you entertained.  If you are looking for a film to see with a group of friends, a church group, or even just to take your kid to see this is the movie for you.  Although not the most unique, it is still very entertaining and worthy of attention.  My scores for this movie are:

Animation/Adventure/Comedy: 8.5

Movie Overall:  7.5

Tune in next week for more reviews.  Until then this is Robbie K signing off.

So Many Unanswered Questions

Science fiction and horror, two genres that when mixed together usually wind up in Scy Fy channel massacre that is predictable, cheesy, and often generally boring.  Despite the sea of mediocrity though, some directors know how to make a scary science fiction movie, i.e. Alien and Predator.  So when I saw Ridley Scott was making an attempt at the genre I couldn’t help but think another winner was upon us.  Was this movie, titled Prometheus, a worthy addition to great science fiction/horror genre?  The answer for me is not really.  To hear more about my thoughts please keep on reading.

If you’ve seen the trailers then you will see that Prometheus is tale about a group of human scientists and engineers who set sail for the stars after discovering an ancient map.  The goal of their mission is to discover the origins of the human race.  Upon arrival to the coordinates, the team discovers something much more sinister and terrifying than they ever imagined, something that if left unchecked could destroy the very foundation of human life.  This is the tale of Prometheus.

To start this review off we should answer the question as to whether this movie lives up to the fear potential the trailers promised.  Hate to say it, but it was not really that scary, and for me was more humorous than anything.  Many of the jump at you scary scenes were predictable, which took away from the scare factor.  The dark and dismal tunnels were actually well lit for a horror movie, and didn’t hold many terrors within its shadowy walls, making the movie feel more like a spelunking adventure than anything else.  What replaced the horror was instead a creepy and sometimes cringing atmosphere that at some points was very disturbing to see.  The creatures within had more graphic and primitive kills, which the movie was happy to show every detail.  A few scenes in the movie I felt took the graphicness too far again showing a lot of detail, and blood, to turn a lot of stomachs.  There were also a few attempts to scare/creep out the audience that failed to be anything, but cheesy violent outbursts that were used to do nothing more than kill off crew members.

What other weaknesses can I pick out for this movie?  I think the biggest weakness of them all was the lack of explanation for a lot of things in the movie.  At various points in the movie, Scott and his team touched base on a variety of topics that had the potential to be interesting and shocking.  However, this slight scratch of the surface was all that really happened.  Instead of elaborating or explaining any origin to the various incidents that happened, they left the audience in the dark and left to piece out the information on their own.  While some things can be somewhat figured out, there is a lot of uncertainty and vagueness that leaves the audience wanting more, which hints at a possible sequel.  Perhaps what makes this lack of explanation even more disappointing is the potential the movie has as the crew prepares to disembark the ship.  In a manner very similar to Aliens, the crew preps very familiar weapons and equipment for the unknowns of the barren world.  However, rather than live up to that potential, Prometheus marginally uses these tools for anything and instead is filled with nothing more than screaming scientists.  This brings me to my next point, a majority of this “smart” crew didn’t make the best decisions and instead they felt more like airheaded teenagers in a slasher movie.  The exceptions to the rule were the characters played by Michael Fassbender, Noomi Rapace, and Idris Elba who did good work portraying competent and noble characters.  Fassbender in particular had the most diverse character of the crew, capturing the deceptive, curious nature to a letter, while still managing to add some comedy to the mix as well.  Rapace’s character did a little more crying than I expected, but she still managed to play a scientist who uses logic until pushed to the breaking point.  Those wondering about Charlize Theron in this movie may be disappointed to learn that her character really doesn’t have a big role to play in this movie, at least not a very deep role.  Although she had the serious captain attitude down to the letter, Theron really didn’t do much other than walk around the ship and scream for the crew not to do anything.  On the occasion she actually did something, well it was okay, but they made her character pretty stupid at points.

Okay so other than some decent acting there are a few positive aspects to this film I wish to share as well.  For one thing the team did a nice job with the visuals and settings to really paint an alien tomb that is somewhat freaky.  Combine this with some well-fitting orchestra music and some well edited shots and you get some strong feelings of pride, curiosity, and some creepiness.  A few of the creatures were even well designed to look real as opposed to looking like some digital blob that is obviously fake.  Some of the dialog is fitting for the characters as well, as the writers used jargon and lingos that were accurate of a scientist/engineer.

Overall Prometheus is okay, though its vague information really leaves you wanting more by the end of the two hours.  With very little horror and use of some of the Alien series props, this movie for me was not worth the wait.  So my suggestion is to wait on this movie for Netflix or Redbox before giving it a try.  My scores for the movie are the following:

Action/Horror/Science Fiction:  6.5-7.0

Movie Overall:  5.5-6.0

So until next time my friends, keep enjoying the movies and check back soon for my next review.

Is It The Fairest, or Just A Drag

  Another weekend has come upon us and yet another Snow White movie has emerged from the Hollywood idea swamp.  This time leading the charge is none other than Kristen Stewart who has put her vampire affection to the side for a more human affection.  The trailers for this movie have promised plenty of action and an adventure twist to the classic tale to help get a new audience in, but did the movie live up on its promise.  Well saddle up my friends and get ready to take a ride as I give my two cents about Snow White and the Huntsmen that released this past Friday.

For those who have missed the trailer flood, Snow White and the Huntsman is yet another tale of Snow White (Stewart) living in a world that has become corrupted by the evil queen Ravenna (Charlize Theron).  The evil sorceress has used her magic to enslave the kingdom and poison the land, at the cost of accelerating her age to the point where she must continuously suck the beauty from maidens to live.  Yet Snow White is able to break away from her step mother’s iron grip and flee into the forest to avoid the fate the prophecy has foretold.  In panic and anger, the queen sends the Huntsman (Chris Hemsworth) to fetch Snow White, facing the dangers of the dark forest.

From the trailer summary you would think this movie would be one wild adventure film with loads of action.  To an extent it is, but the action they promise is actually more limited than anticipated, at least for me.  Instead of epic sword fights, strategic moves, and clever use of sorcery, a majority of the fight scenes are brief skirmishes that involve spastic camera movements and screaming soldiers.  Although a few scenes had some good choreography, most of the battles failed to impress me and instead fell victim to massive numbers of men swarming over one another, or falling down.

What took the place of the action?  The answer to that question is drama, as this movie is chock full of emotional stuffing that is used to develop the characters and story.  Various scenes involve uncovering the backstory of the huntsman and snow white and making those more than just pretty faces.  Other scenes are used to uncover the various levels of the queen and helping to make her seem more human than a classic Disney villain.  Although I appreciate the commitment to character, I could have done with fewer of these scenes if it meant speeding up the pace and adding some more excitement.  Some of the details they showed us were repeated too many times, which made the movie drag for me.  A few of the scenes that showed the queen’s fury were a bit overacted for me as well, and had me thinking more spoiled brat than evil queen.  There was also an attempt to make a romantic triangle to help capture the audience in another Twilight emotional plot.  However, the relationship aspect was rather shallow, though a lot less cheesy, and rushed throughout the movie.

Despite the interesting, although predictable, story and background, there were a few things to help relieve the overdone drama.  The dwarves for instance had a number of comedic moments that helped relieve the tension, usually with a well-timed line or action.  Hemsworth even had a few one liners to keep the audience interested, but his dialog was more serious and downtrodden.  Aside from the comedy though there was nothing really spectacular about the dwarves despite the epic cast.  The acting was pretty good for most of the cast, and I focused my attention on their abilities to make the characters come to life.  Theron captured the dark queen well, the malice seeming to naturally ooze off of her.  Hemsworth as the huntsman was just like Thor minus the arrogant pride and Nordic way of speaking.  Surprisingly Stewart was able to break free of her awkward Bella character, though not by much as she took on a little more of the leadership/talking role instead of just ogling vampires and abs.

However before I finish this review, I have to say that the biggest positive to this movie is the presentation.  In a manner similar to Avatar, the special effects and artists of this movie did a fantastic job bringing the fantasy world to life.  The various scenes of the forest, the countless tours of the castle halls, and the majestic landscapes of the other climates were beautifully crafted to pull the audience in.  Yet, there was also some rather elaborate creatures that looked decently real as well, helping to bring the imaginary/secret world into a reality.  Those looking for beautiful art and a fantastic use of computer graphics and digital manipulation are sure to appreciate it.

Okay so let’s wrap this up.  Overall SWATH is a new twist on the classic Disney movie that focuses a lot on character development.  Although a number of things were rushed, and the action was a bit lacking, I did enjoy the background story for the most part.  Again the fantasy world is beautiful, and is worth seeing on the big screen with high definition, though that might be the only thing I can recommend it for.  It’s worth a group outing, but aside from that don’t get your hopes up for it being movie of the year.  Check below for my scores:

Action/Adventure/Drama:  7.0-7.5

Movie Overall:  7.0

So until next week, keep enjoying the movies and remember to keep on reading my reviews.  Thanks!