Pretty Faces and Big Bangs, Not Much More

  Another holiday weekend means another round of movies to review.  I’m Robbie K with another review on the latest movie remake entitled Red Dawn.  For those of you who remember the 1984 war movie, you might wonder what was going on through Hollywood’s heads when they decided to remake this “classic”.  For me I had no answer, other than more money by putting guns in hot teenager hands.  However, I went in hoping that this movie would surprise me with something impressive that would make the price of admission worth it.  Did I get my wish?  Read on to find out

Just like its predecessor, Red Dawn focuses on a small American town that is rapidly occupied by a foreign military power, this time North Korea.  After parachuting in and establishing a military regime, a band of high school kids and one marine (Chris Hemsworth) ban together to fight the technology superb country in an effort to reclaim their city.  As noble as the plot seems, the idea that a bunch of kids with no combat experience can put up a major resistance is a bit of a stretch to most.  Nevertheless this film is a chronicle about how American Pride and cowboyism can be a deadly combination in fighting off bad guys.

So what would I say are the strongest aspects about this movie?  The answer is the action of course.  With the evolution of technology, also comes the evolution of action scenes, which some choose to ignore.  Red Dawn, however is one of those films that gladly takes advantage of pyrotechnics and CGI flashes to make guerilla warfare even flashier than before.  Like a Michael Bay film, Red Dawn has plenty of fiery explosions to start off a battle.  At the start, the action is very low key amounting to only a few chases and a small round of gun fire.  As the movie progresses, the action picks up going from skirmishes to full on shoot outs that will get any action junkie nodding their heads in satisfaction.  Unfortunately many of these battles last less than a minute, so don’t think you’re getting ten minute fights with every confrontation.  Keep in mind though that this movie does have a really good battle near the end that lasts for a decent amount of time to quench your holiday thirst for action.  You might be asking now, “Robbie if these battles are short lived, what makes me want to keep watching the film?”  The answer is simple, the uncertainty as to which characters are going to live through this ordeal.  Red Dawn’s story team made it difficult to predict which character, if any, would get whacked, only having one or two obvious picks for who wouldn’t live to see victory.  This connection to the characters helps the audience member add their own suspense that makes the action scenes a little more emotional to the movie.

Unfortunately these characters are very shallow in this movie, with very little development taking place outside of the two brothers.  Yes, my friends the cast for this movie was chosen more for their looks than for actual character development, most likely to bring in more audience members.  Cast members like Josh Peck, Josh Hutcherson, and    Chris Hemsworth are playing the “macho” men, more being used for eye candy/ fame to drive people into the theater.  To help get males further interested in the film, they put beautiful women like Adrianne Palicki, Isabel Lucas, and Alyssa Diaz in to help appease the good look category for the males.  I’m not saying their bad actors at all, but the directors got away with the shallow characters, by putting these big name faces in.  Now this wouldn’t have been as bad, had they not sacrificed action for their rather useless background history.  Many of the lulls in action are quips where we learn one or two tales about what the teens did when they were younger, which is really kind of pointless in the grand scheme of things.  The only meaningful information comes from between the brothers, Peck and Hemsworth characters, who reveal the tension and rivalry you see in the movie.  Regardless, fans are going to be rooting the characters not based on their morals, but by their looks and previous movie history.

Aside from these two things, Red Dawn really doesn’t offer too much more in the movie department.  The fact that a technologically strong country like North Korea doesn’t have better armor for their troops is complete fiction and makes the threat of the enemy a little less intimidating.  Throw in the fact that the kids can shoot better than the troops, and well you get a classic American cowboy film that further pumps up someone’s ego.   Aside from American pride, this movie also has a vague ending just like its 80’s precursor that sets the stage for both ending and opens up for another movie.  Whether or not this sways your vote I can’t tell, but I’m just warning you that there is no definite closure to this film.

Overall Red Dawn is a glorified video game brought back to the theaters.  The action again is decent for most of the movie, though could have been longer for my tastes.  However, again its mostly people coming in to see model like teenagers toting guns and rooting for their favorite new generation star to survive the day.  Is it worth a trip to the theater?  Probably not, but is worth picking up a copy at Netflix/RedBox when it comes out.  My scores for this movie are the following:

Action:  7.0-7.5

Movie Overall:  6.0-6.5

Until then my friends I’m signing out.  This is Robbie K saying enjoy the movies and please continue to provide constructive feedback by contacting rkarim11@su.edu.

Thanks

 

I Like Pi’s Visuals

Next up on my Thanksgiving weekend reviews is the newest novel based movie called Life of Pi.  This past summer I was captivated by the wonderful trailer that was visually stunning and had a killer soundtrack that matched the flow of the trailer.  When I found out Ang Lee was directing it I got even more excited that this film was going to be an artistic wonder.  Since I hadn’t read the book though, I had no idea what else I was in store for other than a modern version of the Cast Away movie.  So what did this movie have to offer?  Read on to find out.

For those who haven’t seen the trailer or read the book, Life of Pi is the tale of a man named Piscine Patel, known by most as Pi, an Indian boy who likes to question many rules and discover new lessons.  On the voyage to a new home in Canada, the boat Pi and his family are riding capsizes leaving him stranded with a few animals and some rations on a small lifeboat.  The teenage boy will discover a world he never imagined, while struggling to maintain his life in the lonely world of the ocean.

That’s pretty much the plot, so you might wonder what makes this movie different from Cast Away, other than the main character is Indian and there is a tiger.  I’ll start with talking about the visuals of this move, which for me and a couple of my buddies was the best element of the movie.  From the get go, the cinematography is amazing capturing the natural beauty of the Indian continent.  As the opening credits start, the audience is treated to some well angled shots of the various zoo creatures, each doing their own thing as if nothing is happening.   Once the movie officially starts though, the camera work continues to get better, with every angle being selected to get the most out of the scene.  Even the chaotic scenes aboard the sinking ship were well captured, skipping the chaotic camera angles for the use of CGI and visuals to create the feelings of uncontrolled fear.  When calm eventually returns the desolate world of the vast ocean is impressively recreated on the screen.  Many of its inhabitants are well polished and designed to have you thinking they are real, that is until you get a closer look.  Upon focusing on the actual creatures, you can see where the realism starts to blur a bit, as the animals become a little too polished and clean.  Despite this though, the animation for the animals is still impressive, capturing their movements to the finite detail and adapting them to the interaction with Pi and the tiger.  Thus the artistic aspects of this movie are definitely prevailing in this movie.

A second big quality of this movie is the spirituality built into this feature film.  Before even pushing out on the boat, Pi begins experimenting with multiple religions, each being explained in their connection to the deities.  Those interested in religion will get a nice refresher course in theology; though will appreciate more of the practice in this movie.  Scenes where Pi prays or talks to God are sure to strike up some feelings in fans, whether good or bad really depends on the person.  For this reviewer, it did make me thankful for many things, and helping strengthen my spiritual connection.  There are even a few other scenes that seem like a trippy experience into the spiritual realm that is visually beautiful, but still a little weird. If this isn’t what you want to see in a movie well, then you might choose to skip this film.  If this isn’t what you want to see in a movie well, then you might choose to skip this film.

What else is there to mention about this movie?  Well I can warn you now that there are some graphic scenes of life that may disturb some people.  I admit that some of the animal hostility in this film made me very sad, and could make little kids cry their eyes out.  Despite this sadness though, I have to admit it is very realistic as when fighting for survival animals can turn into savage monsters.  Those looking for a story with lots of twists and turns are also advised to skip this movie as well, since it is little more than an Indian boy fighting for survival and documenting his adventure.  However, those who like movies that dive into the mind and character are going to be up for this film.  Another thing about this film is the pace of the movie keeps things a little slow.  Again this is a life adventure, but did we really need over two hours of film to see this?  For this reviewer not really, as half an hour less could have helped with the long dragging feeling of this film.  The acting by Suraj Sharma was very passionate at many points in the movie and well representative of the emotions.  Unfortunately some of the scenes forced him to be a little too passionate in his yelling, leading to a little overdramatic tension.

To wrap this review up, Ang Lee and company have created a visually stunning masterpiece that makes you think about your spiritual beliefs.  With award winning animation, polished creature design, beautiful settings and cinematography, and some well done editing, it’s no doubt this movie will be a candidate for best visual effects.  What could have made it even better though was adding a soundtrack like the trailer to further bring out the magic, instead of just using it for the sad scenes.  Regardless this movie is best seen in the theater with the visuals, yet if you go for plot wait until it releases on Netflix.  My scores for this movie are the following:

Adventure/Drama:  8.0

Movie Overall: 7.0

please email rkarim11@su.edu for constructive criticism

Dare to Believe?

 

 

When you hear the name DreamWorks, most likely you think animated fun?  With films like Madagascar, How to Train your Dragon, and Shrek, the animation squad seems to have plenty of life in their studios to continue pumping these CGI hits out.  This week, DreamWorks dived into the world of mythological gift givers in their film Rise Of The Guardians.  When this trailer premiered about a year ago, I was happy with the promise this film offered.  However, as we’ve seen happen plenty of times, I always have the worry that the trailer designers have fooled me once again.  What’s my verdict on their latest movie?  Please read on to find out.

Rise of The Guardians focuses on the big four protectors of children:  Santa Clause aka North (Alec Baldwin), Sandman, Tooth Fairy (Isla Fisher), and the Easter Bunny (Hugh Jackman).  These four are in charge of bringing happiness to the world in their own way, though most of the attempts through bribery in some shape or form.  Yet when the happiness of children is threatened by the Boogie Man, now named Pitch Black (Jude Law), the four must call on another to help them face their challenge.  This new contender is Jack Frost (Chris Pine) a spirit in charge of snow days who has a case of amnesia.  What will this spirit who has a big case of ADHD be able to contribute, and what will he gain as a reward for his services?  I can’t tell you that.

What I can tell you though are some of the qualities about this movie that made it a fun afternoon.  The biggest compliment I have for the film is the animation.  Once again DreamWorks staff has done their homework, finding ways to capture the movement of humans, animals, and mythological in a way that is fluid and smooth.  Whether they are sliding down tunnels, flying magic sleighs, or fighting off the dark sands of Pitch, the characters don’t lag, glitch, or fail to impress this reviewer.  However, the characters design is also well done as it mirrored the personality of each Guardian yet gave them an edge over their classic renditions.  In particular Santa’s Lumberjack meets biker look was a welcome change, alongside the colorful display of feathers and scales that made up the Tooth Fairy.  This edgy style was a welcome change and should be entertaining to both kids and adults alike.  Yet what’s an animated movie without good voice work to help add more character to this cast.  Baldwin might have taken my vote for the best voice work, using his talents to give North a variety of emotions.  At times he was cheerful and upbeat making some funny jokes and raising the audience spirits, while other times he dropped to a more serious and hard tone used to express the direness of the situation.  The others of course did a great job with Fisher’s bubbly air syncing with the Tooth Fairy, while Law’s charming English voice darkened the already nightmare infused Pitch.  As for Sandy, well despite lacking any real dialog, the little guy has a lot pizazz to his character.  Of all the guardians he might be my favorite character.

Aside from the animation though, there were some other things about this movie worth mentioning.  The story, although fairly simple, is very entertaining and cute to both kids and adults.   There are a few twists in the movie that keep it fun, mostly pertaining to Jack, but for the most part the story is linear and easy to follow, which is good for a kid’s movie.  While it lacks the jokes that Shrek has, Rise of The Guardians has other qualities that make up for it.  The magic for instance is brilliantly brought to life in an array of flashy colors, bright lights, and clever shapes that are sure to wow the audience.  Rather than just showing off though, the magic was integrated into both bringing happiness and fighting off Pitch’s dark sands.  Although somewhat limited, the action in this film was still enjoyable and suspenseful.  North’s blade wielding, Bunny’s boomerang throwing, and Sandman’s manipulation magic, will surely have you laughing, smiling, or at least a little applause from the well edited scenes.  Action aside though, there are numerous points in the movie where the inner child from within is awaken once again.  Rise of the Guardians strongest emotion is the power to believe, something that many have lost as they grew up.  Those who long ago forgot the feelings of excitement wonder, and believing in magic may find themselves once again feeling the spirit reviving in them.  There were a couple of times I felt my heart melt at the speeches the guardians gave.  Yet if you never really got into the believing spirit, your heart might melt at some of the cuter aspects of this movie.  The tooth fairies helpers and elves in particular are sure to make some squeal in delight, or at least say awwwwww.

Rise Of The Guardians is another successful chapter in the DreamWorks animation studio book.  With a nice balance of action, some fun comedic lines, great voice work, and some decent character development, this movie has just about everything for most fans.  My only suggestions are to add some more action in the next installment, and continue to develop the other characters as well; whose pasts still remain a mystery.  Even if you’re not a fan of the story, or have never gotten into the holiday thing, at least go see it for the fantastic animation the team has put together.  Is it worth a trip to the theater?  I say yes.  Is it worth a 3-D, I can’t say, but the 2-D showing was pretty good.  Should you decide not to go the theater though, definitely check this film out on Netflix. 

Animation/Adventure/Family:  8.0

Movie Overall:  7-7.5

Fifth Time’s The Charm For this Finale

 Hello, Hello all, I’m here with another movie review.  This time I’m covering the latest in the Twilight Saga:  Breaking Dawn Part 2, and I hope to shed some light on the final episode of the series.  Now you’ve seen plenty of debate in this series with many hating everything about this series, while others think it’s the best vampire series to ever exist.  With all the bias towards this series, it may be hard to determine whether this movie is worth spending time in the theater or should just be blown off.  Let’s see if I can shed some light on the subject.

With last year’s rather overhyped prequel, I’ll admit I wasn’t looking forward to the second installment of Breaking Dawn.  Although the trailers showed some interesting direction, I had my doubts that they could actually do something to extend the last few pages of the book.  However, the directing team was able to accomplish their goal, in what may be the most impressive movie yet to hit the series.  Just what makes this movie so great though.  My first strength was the dialog.  While most of the movies lines are overemotional, lovey dovey, one dimensional quotes from the book that made me roll my eyes, this one was a little different.  I found this installment to have more balance still sticking to some of the classic lines, but throwing in some well-timed comedy.  The insults and banter between Jacob and the vampires were quite entertaining to the audience and me, and I thought some of the extra characters even had some funny moments with the parts they played. Charlie (Billy Burke) in particular had me laughing the most, with his awkward comedy and real facial gestures combining to be very funny.  Aside from the comedy, the movie did have some good dialog play on other parts, particularly when it involved making plans involving the Cullen’s battle against all odds.  Of course being Twilight, this movie also had its share of romantic dialog, many being lines quote from the book, which should comfort die-hard fans of the series.  While some of the romance was captured in these mooshy quotes, some of it still made me laugh or roll my eyes at the cheesiness that still remains.

Aside from the dialog what else was good about this movie?  I guess my next biggest thing is the balance this movie has.  While this Twilight still has that romantic feel that will have fans crying awe, this film had other things to keep the movie going.  For one thing there was some suspense to the movie, as all the behind the scenes of the book were brought to life on screen.  The Vultori’s movements, the attempt to control hunger, and even the training scenes were all well shot to keep the suspense building.  Between these scenes, fans are certain to enjoy the love dynamic not only between Edward and Bella (which includes a seven minute love scene), but spread amongst the other members of the family, especially Renessmee.  I felt that there was actually a family dynamic between the Cullen’s this time instead of them all just being in the same room and just hugging each other’s mate and giving that Abercrombie and Fitch smolder.  Throw in the extra vampire’s backstory and loyalty, and well you have quite a story builder that keeps the movie going forward much faster than the other films.  Yet there was still another dynamic thrown into the mix that helped bring this movie to a full circle, the action.  Now many reviews and commercials are going to say it’s the most action packed, which is true, however don’t think this means its Cullen slam fest 2012.  Most of the 105 minutes stays true to the romantic soup I previously mentioned, but there are a few scenes of fast running and fighting thrown in to pick up the pace.  However, the action to mention is the battle at the end, which takes up ten minutes of the film and has plenty of impressive moves that impressed me, and some simple punches that didn’t.  While the fight is impressive, there are some things that needed some work to make it better, the biggest being some rather spastic camera work during the fight.

Still not impressed with the movie?  I have a few other points to cover that might change your mind.  The soundtrack for this movie was rather good, with many of the musical scores fitting the scenes’ emotions perfectly.  As for the acting, well it has somewhat improved, but still remains the same model poster, cardboard acting that has made the series famous.  Kristen Stewart continues showing her unemotional acting skills off delivering most of her lines in that awkward monotone way, and fails in her attempts to be angry, which is rather funny.  However, most people going in know the acting isn’t the best, but go for the looks of the characters.  Yes, my fans there are still plenty of hot body scenes to go around, as both Robert Pattinson and Taylor Lautner are still present.  Unfortunately for you girls, Lautner keeps his tight shirts on for most of the movie so you might be disappointed in that aspect.   Guys , you’re not out of the loop on this one though, as the new vampires not only bring guys, but a few beautiful girls as well, especially the blonde cousins.

Breaking Dawn 2 finally has the balance the series has needed and wrapped up the series impressively.  Although the acting, editing, and dialog still need some tightening up, most of the mistakes from the previous films have been corrected or improved upon.  My opinion is to catch this movie in theaters as it is worth a second trip for me, but definitely hit it up on Netflix.

My scores are:

Adventure/Drama/Fantasy: 8.5

Movie Overall:  7.0-7.5

Series:  9.5

Contact me at rkarim11@su.edu for more discussion or constructive criticism.

It’s A Whole New Bond!

 This weekend the latest Bond film released and from the reports seems to already making nice money.  For this reviewer though, my excitement was relatively low after watching Quatum of Solace so many years ago.  Still a couple of friends and I caught the afternoon showing with the hopes that the franchise would make up for their previous work.  I’m happy to say that our hopes were not dashed as Skyfall impressed us and renewed our faith in the series.  If you’re up for hearing my highlights read on as we dive into Daniel Craig’s latest film.

For those who have been in the dark, Skyfall starts with Bond (Craig) on another adrenaline fueled mission to recover a hard drive containing all the agents’ identity.  As seen in the trailer, a fellow agent named Eve (Naomie Harris) follows orders and supposedly send James down the river.  However, like an ignorant stain that Bond returns once more after a threat to M (Judi Dench) ‘s life.  The culprit of this crime is a rogue agent by the name of Silva (Javier Bardem)who has a personal vendetta to take out the head of MI6, in hopes of achieving his insane goals.

The summary of the trailer is pretty much the story of this film, so don’t expect too many twists and turns to come up in this film.  It’s simply a plot for revenge for previous acts, that while fun and quick really lacks any Bond Finesse.  Those seeking the classic spy mystery and information gathering may be disappointed, as this Bond continues to move towards the action franchise.  However, there is a bit of backstory to help keep things interesting, as we uncover more of James’ past, and learn a little more about the dark side of M, at least pertaining to Silva.  A few other events unfold in the movie, but most of them I saw coming from the earlier events in the movie.  Perhaps the only thing you might be wondering in this movie is the tie in to the title, as every bond movie has some connection to it.

Don’t really care about the complexity of the story?  Well then do you care about action, because this movie has got it going on.  Bond’s move have gotten more bad@$$ as he ages, trading in the typical one shot running kills, for a little more martial arts and more intense shootouts.  Want proof?  Okay, the first ten minutes of the movie is an intense chase, mixed with a touch of shooting, a little ingenuity, and a pinch of a fist fight all brilliantly captured to keep you in the loop.  I was on the edge of my seat with excitement as I watched everything unfold, appreciating the fast pace to start the film off with a bang.  The only downfall was that after such a pumping start, you feel the crash afterward, but not for too long as the action continued to occur throughout the movie.  While all of them have impressive moves, these scenes are only a fraction of the time.  For me these were small doses that led up to the grand finale at the end, that were just enough to break away from the dry conversation, but not overdone to have you rolling your eyes.  Patience pays off though, as the final scene is filled with enough ingenuity, stunts, and suspense to reward the audience.

Putting the action aside, Skyfall takes a few nostalgic turns back in time that fans will appreciate.  The dialog itself contained a few classic lines that will make you chuckle, or at least make you respect the movie even more.  Putting the bond references to the side, Skyfall’s dialog is just funny itself, as the rivalry between the characters provides openings for insults, sarcasm, and other quips to keep one entertained.  However, the biggest Bond nostalgia comes in the gadgets, but I’m not really going to say much as I’ll ruin it.  Regardless, keep your eyes open as I’m sure there are plenty of things I missed that others will pick up.

As for the acting, well it’s pretty much the same as the previous installments, good.  Although not as suave or elegant as some of his predecessors, Craig has the killer edge to make him a good agent.  I was impressed not only with his moves, but also his ability to deliver his quips with just enough emphasis to make his intentions known.  Dench as well stays strong to the role, using her British background to keep the pride of the old program head alive.  Like Craig, she too has just the right emotion in her words to make it feel real, and not an overacted dribble, though fans might not expect to see her fight, which was a surprise to me.  Continuing on Bardem did a good job playing an emotionally disturbed, though creepy bad guy.  His voice in particular had the calm collected edge to give you the creeps without going into a screaming rant, or some other stereotypical villain.  Unfortunately, the directors made his calling card a little too plain for my tastes, which took the edge off of this villain for me.  Well that and the fact he didn’t do much other than send in thugs, and do computer hacking, which although smart was a little less flashy from the other villains.

Skyfall is perhaps the first bond movie in a long time I would go see again.  With a fast paced story, lots of action, and countless classic references this movie is a nice balance and a good step up.  My only hope is with all the changes this one makes, there will be new challenges they will have to face.  There is still plenty of things to say, but I’m reaching my limit so to wrap it up: it’s worth seeing in theaters.

My scores are:

Action/Adventure/Crime:  8.0-8.5

Movie Overall:  8.0

Wreck On Ralph, Wreck On

 Disney has been busy this week with its business transactions.  Not only have they just acquired Lucas’ studio, but this weekend they decided to release their latest animated film Wreck-it-Ralph.  For those of you without Disney Channel/ABC family watchers, or have missed the trailers before the movie, this is a film about video games.  It starts out with a large hand, wild haired, bum look alike named Wreck-it-Ralph (John C. Reilly), who has been programmed to destroy a hotel complex that overtook his home.   Fixing his path of rampage is a high pitched, repairman with a golden hammer named Fix-it-Felix (Jack McBrayer) who at the end of the day gets the glory, while Ralph gets the heave ho into the mud.  Constant lack of Recognition though leads Ralph to leaving his game though, all in the pursuit of a token of glory he feels will change his life.              So what did this reviewer think of this latest chapter in the Disney media?  Read on to find out

To start my review off, I’ll start with one of the movie’s biggest strengths, the comedy.  Many people who might be thinking, “This comedy is just for gamers,” are sadly mistaken in this viewer’s opinion.  Yes, there are plenty of video game references to please my fellow electronic players, many of which are cleverly integrated into the story to keep the film fun and exciting.  References like Mario Kart, Metal Gear Solid, and Pitfall are thrown throughout the movie that will have any seasoned veteran laughing in their seats and perhaps even calling out the reference in the theater.  However, if you’re not that big on gaming, or have a very limited experienced in the game department don’t worry there are plenty of other things to make you laugh.  The writers of the movie filled most of the dialog with a load of puns that are both cute and clever.  Many of these puns are jokes you’ve probably heard a thousand times when hanging out with friends, but for me they still made me laugh.  Even the scenery and world design was quite punny, taking brand names of some products and turning them into environmental hazards and traps.  Of course if you don’t like puns, then this movie might annoy you after the sixth or seventh pun.  However, for those who are young at heart like me, you won’t be disappointed.  Not a fan of puns, well there is one last humor style in this movie that may persuade you to see the movie, a style I call Sue Sylvester style.  Those who love the hot-blooded cheerleader coach from Glee will be happy to see her essentially digitalized into this movie in the form of Calhoun the army leader.  Out of the hallways and into the battlefield Calhoun insults every single game entity that crosses her path, crossing into the word cover up lines like pussywillows at times.  If you’re worried that her character will play a minor role in this movie, have no fears for Calhoun is in most of the movie.

The other thing this movie has going for it is the cute fun adventure that was laid out by their studios.  I found very little, if any slow parts in this movie, as the directing team kept the adventure fast and on the move going from world to another.  Each of the worlds added another element to Ralph’s character helping him discover the dormant hero sleeping inside of him.  This adventure first has promise of dark, awesome action in the first person shooter world, which I can’t lie I wanted to see more of.  Once our team gets to Sugar Rush though, the cuteness floods out into the theater.  Not only is the world itself a cute display of candy coated puns and Disney cartoon citizens, but it also unfolds the relationship part of the story between Ralph and Venelope (Sarah Silverman).  The pint sized driver has some spunk to her lines, but also has the ability to melt your heart with big eyes and even bigger heart.  Her character’s background is a story of its own that integrates smoothly into the main plot, though it may bring a few awws out of you.  Both stories have the same underlying message, and may even inspire you in some manner, either that or make you roll your eyes at being too cheesy.  Despite the fun cuteness though and evolution of Ralph’s goals, the story is still predictable lacking very few twists from the trailer.  However, if you’re taking kids to see it, or you’re a kid at heart you might not mind it.

What else is there to say about this movie?  Again there is pretty good balance between the characters staying on the screen, which of course keeps the laughs fresh and new.  On top of that the animation was very impressive for me.  The characters moved based on their video games, such as the classic 8 bit blocky movements that were the precursor to modern games.  What also made me happy was that I was able to follow all of the action scenes in this movie, instead of watching glitch filled, shaky camera shots that take away from the detail.  Well at least most of the camera work didn’t take away from the detail, unfortunately Hero’s Duty was a little chaotic to follow and the brief screen time for the battle with the bugs was a little disappointing.  Even the soundtrack was quite enjoyable and most of the songs fit perfectly with the scenes they were representing, especially Owl City’s theme at the end.

Wreck it Ralph is definitely a fun family film, and quite clever in many aspects.  However, if cute and punny isn’t your cup of tea, then you best sitting this one out for now.  My scores for this movie are the following:

Comedy/Family:  9.0

Movie Overall: 8.5

Took Flight In A Different Direction

    Denzel Washington, a man of many faces, many talents, and many great roles.  From football coach to psychopathic father, the man seems to be able to tackle any role and make it come to life.  So I feel that fans other fellow fans of this actor were ecstatic to see his latest movie come out this weekend.  The premise of this movie focuses on a pilot by the name of William Whip Whitaker who becomes a hero after saving the lives of countless passengers on a crashing plane.  Despite his heroic efforts though, his blood work reveals he was intoxicated, which could lead him to life in prison if convicted of flying under the influence.  What will be the outcome?

I’ll admit I had my skepticisms about this movie, especially the 2 hour and 15 minute time tag placed on it.  In my mind I couldn’t see how they could keep this case interesting for that long of a time period.  However, the boys directing this movie took a different approach to entertain the audience, than an aviation version of Unstoppable.  Instead the film is more a message bringing movie, one that has the potential to inspire or offend in so many ways.  Unlike other case drama films, Flight immediately tells you Washington is guilty of intoxicated flying, and has some issues to deal with.  Rather than working to uncover the truth of the case, this film works to see if Whip can run from his mistakes, all while continuing to binge on his guilty pleasures.  Thus, one can imagine there isn’t much excitement or on the seat moments in this film.  That doesn’t mean there isn’t some emotional stimulation in this movie though.  Washington once again brings a realistic edge to the character, portraying the sleaze ball Whip to a rather gruesome detail.  Countless points in the movie you start to judge and despise his character, as he throws himself further down the rabbit hole.  Yet at the same time, the various elements of the movie help you feel sorry for the character and somehow bring you into the mindset of someone trying to overcome his challenges.  If you’re looking for a film to help place you in someone’s mindset, well then Flight is for you.

Washington wasn’t the only thing to help bring this tale to life.  I’ll say now that the casting director should get a pat on the back for who they cast in this film.  Although Washington took most of the screen time, each supporting actor had just enough screen time and importance to continue driving the tale in different directions, helping Whip uncover more of his self.  Kelly Reillydid a nice job playing a fellow addict who was going through her own problems and being Whip’s crush, adding some well-timed drama to the mix.  John Goodman’sacting also was well appreciated, as the big man managed to relieve the tension with his well delivered comedic lines.  However the man to really help drive Denzel’s character was Don Cheadle, playing the lawyer assigned to Whip’s case.  Cheadle’s calm demeanor, and ability to act rational were perfect attributes to make the lawyer come to life.  Overall, these actors are blended together in just the right amount to keep the story and laughs coming.

Other than acting though, what else does this movie have to offer?  For me it’s again worthy to talk about the editing work in both sound and visuals.  Flight’s camera work wowed me as the crew found ways to capture the emotions of the scene.  Whether it was a close up of the artificial red eyes, or a wide angle shot showing off the beautiful scenery of the movie, the camera was situated just right to capture all the details.  I was especially impressed with the chaotic flight scene, which for once wasn’t overdone in a cacophony of howling wind, explosive sound effects, and a fury of string instruments.  The crew instead kept things balanced, calm, and easy to follow, while still managing to make one sit on the edge of their seat as they wonder who will make it out of this dire situation.  Along with these visuals was again a well selected soundtrack to help add a little more depth to the scene.  Some tracks were used to help add a sad tone to the movie, which had other audience members tearing up, while other songs were merely in the background to I guess be a stereotype to alcohol humor.  Regardless, the editing is well done to make a drama like this more realistic and for me enjoyable.

However, with realism comes responsibility and this movie may push the limits for some audience members.  Although rather enjoyable and clever, some of the dialog will offend certain audience groups and perhaps take away something from the movie.  Those who are easily insulted by religion dialogues, may not enjoy the constantly used line of, “It was an act of God,” that seemed to be used as an excuse for every incident to befall man.  Those who may be sensitive to alcohol situations may also need to desensitize themselves as well, as the realistic portrayal may strike close to home to again be offensive with their stereotypical visuals.  Some of the dialogue, laced with some nice cursing, also may cross the line to make you very angry and distracted.  Other than offensive stereotypes though, there are some other weaknesses to this movie.  The pace of the movie is also slow and the long time tag on the movie might not have been the best decision to make.  Editing could have tightened some things up.

Flight has a good message, great acting, and some fantastic acting, but I can’t say it is one of my favorite movies this fall.  So those looking for a good drama take up this movie, but for most I say rent in on Netflix for a rainy afternoon. 

Drama:7.0

Movie Overall:7.0