Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Thoughts on Vampire Academy and the Lego Movie

Phil Lord and Chris Miller are three for three on film. The Lego Movie is winning combination of humor and a surprising amount of heart. At first it seems as through it might just take a fairly generic take on "the one", the unlikely hero who will save the world from a malevolent threat. 

The Lego movie becomes so much more than that though. Within the confines of a big budget licensed property, Lord and Miller found a way to deliver incredible sight gags and riffs on other big licensed properties. However, the the thing that really hooked me to this movie was it's sentimental turn in its third act. I'm not ashamed to say that while the movie had me laughing and enjoying ride for its first two-thirds, that final third had me tearing up a bit, with a touching revelation on the themes being special, the nature of toys, and the relationship between fathers and sons. Another great job by a great writer/director combo.
**** Stars.

Vampire Academy is mess. I should have known it would be from the start, the poor advertising that tried to make it seem like a knock off Mean Girls mixed with vampires, the current hot fad in Young Adult literature.

There are so many problems with Vampire Academy. We start with premise itself. In the world of Vampire academy, there are good vampires, evil vampires and half human/half vampire hybrids who pledge their lives to protect good vampires. "Vampires" (note the quotation marks) have the ability to manipulate the four elements (air, earth, fire, and water) in addition to having the glamour people like in True Blood. My first thought after seeing this was why do vampires need protectors if they are so powerful themselves? Their hybrid protectors don't seem to have any superpowers at all.

The plot of the movie is meandering, nonsensical, it tries to be a statement of school social dynamics, friendships, relationships, and then tries to toss in an overarching mystery that has no resolution. I got the feeling the creators tried to combine two or three of the books storylines into one movie to try an hook viewers to want to see a sequel.

The performances by the two leads are acceptable. The main character played by Zoey Deutch shows a lot of potential as an actress, she has a real charm on screen and reminds me of a young Linda Cardellini. Too bad she is trapped behind material is beneath her.
* and 1/2 Stars.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Closed Circuit Thoughts

I haven't seen a legal thriller in while, they seem to have gone out of style. Closed Circuit fits square within the genre, it doesn't change the rules of the legal thriller but delivers a solid entry to the genre.

The film opens with an intense scene of a terrorist bombing of a public market in London, from there we meet to lawyers who are charged with defending one of the suspected mastermind of the crime. As is par for the course in these legal thrillers, the case is not as simple as it seems from the outset and the true crime reaches into the highest levels of power.

Closed circuits will not change anyone minds on the genre, but delivers all the tension, suspicion, and conspiracy that fans of the genre will enjoy. Unfortunately the forced ADR'd ending is a real bummer.

**1/2 stars

Quick Thoughts about Getaway

Look, I knew what I was getting into when I chose to see Getaway. You have a man, with a special set of skills, who is being forced to do a robbery to save his kidnapped wife. He gets a special car, and he proceeds to crash his way through Bulgaria to help execute the plan of the unseen mastermind.

There were a lot of car chases and crashes and most were not exciting, there are performances where it seems no one cares. I was rather bored throughout, these crashes weren't too exciting, the villain's plan was too generic (steal money).

There was one cool thing that happened on screen. In the final car chase, the director chose to silence the soundtrack, put a camera on the dash of the chasing car and let us really see how exciting a car chase can be on screen.

This is the type of movie that will work in the background while you are on your tablet browsing the internet. Just look up occasionally when you hear a bang and you'll get the gist of what happened.

*1/2 stars

Thursday, August 8, 2013

We're the Millers: We're Not Very Good

We're the Millers is as generic a comedy as they come. The film has an interesting novel concept, however, it doesn't manage to live up to its promise. Jason Sudeikis stars as a drug dealer who after losing all of his supplier's stash, offers to smuggle some drugs as repayment. He hires three people to pretend to be his family on a vacation to Mexico to sell a cover identification at the border. What we have next is a road trip movie with bonding between our four leads and the people they meet along the way.

The problem starts with the protagonist. Jason Sudeikis is not charismatic as any sort of lovable loser who the audience should care about. His character is smarmy and worst of all, not funny. This is the first movie I have seen with Sudeikis as the lead, and I'm not sure I want to see another with him as the lead. The movie in general is not very funny, for an R-rated film, there aren't many bawdy or outrageous jokes. The funniest part of the movie are the supporting performances of Nick Offerman and Katheryn Hahn, who play another couple who were on vacation from Mexico.

The story is pretty average, no surprises that were not setup at the beginning of the movie. There are however, no cringe inducing moments in the movie, and that is more than you can ask for a movie this year.

** stars

Monday, January 14, 2013

Gangster Squad and A Haunted House: Poor Starts to New Year

Not much needs to be said about Gangster Squad. It is a boring 1940s gangster movie that stars an uncharismatic Josh Brolin as the leader of a group of tough cops who go rogue to bust the operation of notorious LA gangster Mickey Cohen, played by Sean Penn. there are also tonal issues, with Penn acting his hammiest, yet Brolin and his crew are almost dead serious. This is not a movie that be remembered in 3 months.
** stars

A Haunted House is not a good movie, it's really crude and not thought out too well. The jokes are few and far between however there are a few of them there. Nothing that will make anyone laugh too much, but there are a few chuckles. Many of the jokes are sexist and dumb, and I know I should feel bad about them, but I chuckled at times. More often than not the jokes are lazy and repetitive. I think this will find an audience of people who don't think about it too much.
** stars

Sunday, December 30, 2012

My 2012 in Movies, by the Numbers

2012 was a big year for me in movies. Big in that I restarted my podcast, The Long and Late Movie Show with Russell Hainline and eventually the lovely Shira Selkovits. 2012 was also big in that I spent a lot of money watching movies this year. Between Netflix, Amazon Video, and movie theaters, I spent $1,496.53 this year. That's a pretty staggering amount in my case. After seeing this I wanted to delve a bit deeper and see what my spending was like at the theaters this year.

I have seen 72 films in 2012 that were released in 2012. For an non-professional movie-goer, I think this was a pretty good clip, a little more than a film per week. For a full list of the films I have seen in 2012 check out this list on Letterboxd.

First, here is a graph on which theaters I spent the most on this year:

Graph of my 2012 Spending at Theaters
My top theater this year was the AMC Orpheum 7 because after I moved into Manhattan in March of 2012, this theater was the closest one to me. Not counting food, I spent $318 out of a total of $722.30 there this year. These numbers could easily have been higher if I did not take advantage of AMCs deal of $6 movies before Noon numerous times.

Next, is my Theater spending per month:

Monthly Spending at the Movies
You can see that my monthly spending at the theater rises during the year until August. This makes sense. As the year went along better movies started to come out, including the big blockbuster summer releases.

There is hope for my 2013 to have a lower spend. I recently joined the website Moviepass, and for $30 a month I can see one movie per day. With there help, I hope my yearly movie costs drop by fifty percent and at the end of 2013, I don't talk about how much money I have spent at the movies, but rather how many movies I saw per month.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Quick thoughts on Jack Reacher

Jack Reacher has the parts to be a good popcorn action flick. For the most part it is successful. The action is well done, however the story is a mess. The villain's plan when given a once over, is really ridiculous and unnecessary.

Tom Cruise is good as the savant investigator Reacher. His performances in the action scenes are great. Cruise doing what Cruise does best. The direction of the action is also great. The two major action scenes, a car chase and a shoot out at a quarry are well done and exciting.

Werner Herzog as the main villain is scary and creepy. He delivers some great villainous speeches that seem a part of another movie.

** stars