Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Transformers 3

Wow! What a way to close out a trilogy! Michael Bay was not lying when he said this was the best of the three and a fine way to end the series. Transformers 3 was by far the best of the series. Even though one was pretty cool to finally see the robots on the big screen- 3 had a similarly strong story line but much better action scenes.
The script was infinitely better than the last Transformers movie. Excuses were made for the second installment because of the writers strike, but few people will excuse that for a bad, weak, and confusing movie. This movie had a strong plot that carried the story from start to finish. Basically they go back in time to the destruction of Cybertron (Transformers home planet) and describe a weapon that could have saved the planet being taken by the leader of the Autobots. The leader and his spaceship were shot down and crash landed on our moon. The story ends with the Decepticons trying to bring what's left of their destroyed home world to Earth and create a new Cybertron on Earth using the humans as slaves.
Now for the casting, which also was enhanced with this final chapter. First, and most obvious, the replacement of Megan Fox by Victoria Secret model Rosie Huntington-Whiteley. Michael Bay does not hold back by taking a few jabs at the departure of Megan Fox and he uses his foul-mouthed Autobots to describe how she left (the director-actor relationship did not end well). Rosie is 1) a much better actress and 2) much more beautiful. Her sexy (at times even ridiculous) poses felt more like natural movements than Megans did. Granted this is her actual career but still it made her character more believable. While she will not be winning Oscars any time soon she does contribute much more to the film than Megan ever did.
Another new addition was Leonard Nimoy voicing the old leader of the Autobots, Sentinel Prime. His iconic voice was fun to listen too and I have been a huge fan of his re-emergence with Fringe and the new Star Trek.
Patrick Dempsey played a wonderful part- although I will not go in to too much detail with his character. I was surprised by how good he was since we normally only see him in romantic comedies and Grey's Anatomy.
The cast also included surprises by John Malkovich, Frances McDormand, and Ken Jeong (Mr. Chow from the Hangover). All played fantastic supporting roles.
The action was top notch. One of my biggest complaints with the second installment was there was too much happening on the screen to really tell what was going on. Not this time. We even saw it in 3D and it popped much better than the last one. Michael Bay had used new technology to make sure the 3D was not darkened and it worked beautifully. There was a fantastic scene in which Bumblebee changes from car mode into robot mode with Sam in the car, ejects Sam, grabs Sam and turns back into a car- all coming at the screen in 3D!!
If this truly is Michael Bay's last outing directing the robots in disguise- he left with style. I give this 4 stars! Great summer fun and a must see on the big screen- preferably in 3D!!!

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Bad Teacher

Bad Teacher is about a truly horrible person (Cameron Diaz) who is desperate to quit "teaching" and marry a rich man. The story revolves around her pursuit for a new substitute teacher (Justin Timberlake), her battle royale with a rival teacher (Lucy Punch), and the evolving friendship with the gym teacher (Jason Segal).
Some critics hailed this as the funniest movie of the summer. I have to disagree. There were several parts which were hilarious, but those moments were far and few between leaving long bouts of poor story telling and bland conversation. I have to liken this to Hall Pass which I felt was similar with its rare but truly funny moments. Bad Teacher's funniest moments come from Jason Segal and even Lynn Davies (Phyllis from The Office). Like Hall Pass, this film was carried by its sub-cast, not the main characters. Cameron Diaz's character was very difficult to like with little to no redeeming qualities. Her humor was predictable and flat. Justin Timberlake really was a empty shell of a character. His character works well in a short 10 minute SNL skit, but on the big screen his forced dorkiness is just absolutely annoying. He is not a terrible actor (The Social Network) but clearly he cannot adapt to every character and story.
Bad Teacher is definitely worth a rental (especially if you can get a free one or have Netflix). Its worth a watch- but don't expect side-splitting humor or it to rival the great Bridesmaids, The Hangover, and Old School. Its more on par with Hall Pass and Bad Santa. I give it 2 1/2 stars.

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Saturday, June 18, 2011

Green Lantern

Just saw Green Lantern in 3D and I have to say, I don't know why its getting such bad reviews. I honestly liked it a lot. Granted I did go in after reading some reviews so I had very low expectations but I thought it was very entertaining and a great summer blockbuster. Was it the best comic book movie ever? Absolutely not. It was not better than X-Men: First Class but I did like it better than Thor. And I am a Marvel guy!!!
First of all- this is one of the rare 3D gems. While it still does not stand up to Avatar's level of 3D, it far surpasses some other recent films. The opening title sequence was very impressive in space. The 3D gave it a nice depth effect without the traditional overally used gimmicks of swords coming at the screen or someone shooting a gun at the screen.
Next to the cast. I felt Ryan Reynolds did great. He is receiving a mixed review from other critics for being too annoying and funny (but not funny). I did not feel that way at all. He was funny, some of it was corny but at the same time- its a comic book movie. Not everything has to be so dark and serious as the Dark Knight. Iron Man was cocky and funny and no one minded Downey Jr. Blake Lively was hot. Thats about it. She did not do a tremendous job (like in The Town), but she wasn't abysmal like Megan Fox in Transformers. The love story between the two could have used some more work and the chemistry wasn't quite perfect. Peter Saarsgard was a good villian. He is also receiving harsh criticism for not being a good enough villian. Is he Magneto or Joker? No. But he has his reasons for turning evil. He used his powers quite a bit. And he overall served his purpose. Mark Strong was great as Sinestro.
Now to the Corp. (extras). The voices of Toma-Ra (Geoffrey Rush) and Kilowag (Michael Clarke Duncan) were spot on. It was a shame to see the most well-known non-human Lanterns cut from most of the film, but this movie is about Hal Jordan (Ryan Reynolds) and his new Green Lantern career. It was about saving earth and unlike a 70 year old comic book, this was a two hour movie. An entire 70 years of history could not be forced into one movie. The CGI to create these characters looked great. The only extra I missed seeing was the flying squirrel- always hilarious!
The CGI was incredible in this movie. The first trailer made everyone doubt the quality of this movie, but sure enough, the finished product looked as real as CGI can and furthered the story and the origins of the Green Lanterns. Many reviews compared Parrallax (the main villian) to the stupid Fox-Created Cloud- Galactus from Fantastic Four. Once again- this is a movie. Do you really want a giant purple humanoid alien actually eating a planet or will general audiences be more understanding of a nebula like being that devours planets. So Parralax didn't look like he did in the comics- honestly I had no idea what he looked like. So far me, his structure made sense.
And finally the story. The story and direction is taking the most heat of the bad reviews. I just don't get it though. I felt like the story was good. Could it have been tweaked- sure. Villian development was not as strong as it could have been. Hal Jordan's training on OA (the Green Lantern planet) was only about 10-15 minutes long and was the only time we really saw Toma-Ra and Kilowog. But once again, the studio decided to make cuts and shorten the length of the film. I am sure a directors cut will include an extra 20-30 minutes of footage that fans will appreciate but that weren't neccessary to a wide audience.
Normally my reviews are much shorter but I really felt this movie got a bad rap from some really critical reviewers that were hoping for another Dark Knight or Iron Man. This is not those movies, its not even X-Men First Class. But its a lot better than X-men 3, Wolverine, Elekta, and Daredevil contrary to some reviews. Someone even said the Phantom with Billy Zane was better. Clearly these people just had way too high expectations for this movie and are now just committed to destroying the future of any DC movies.
I recommend this movie. And I think you should definitely see it in 3D- it really did make a fun difference. I am very critical of 3D movies but this helped the movie. I give it 3 1/2 stars.

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Friday, June 10, 2011


Limitless was a very entertaining movie. It takes a brilliant idea that any person would jump to take advantage of and then show you exactly why you do not want it. The movie is about a struggling author (Bradley Cooper) who starts taking an illegal black market pill that turns on his left side of the brain so that he can do anything. It basically creates a better version of you. Of course there are downsides like with any drug (cue the 5 minute rant on side effects): memory loss, drug dealers, dead hookers, nausea, vomiting, and death! But hey, plug into the stock market- make a couple million- sounds like a fair trade off right?
The end did come rather quickly I felt. The movie was just over 1 1/2 hours so it could have played out a little more instead of rushing to the end. But the end did make sense and was done very well.

Overall a very fun movie to watch but definitely watchable as a rental- 3 out of 5.

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The Rite

The Rite was a rather obscure exorcism movie that came out in the early part of this year. Not much was heard from the movie and before anyone noticed it was already on DVD. The movie stars Anthony Hopkins as an Italian priest who performs exorcisms and who begins training a new protege who has his doubts of God and the practice of exorcisms in general. As the story progresses the new priest is forced to reconcile his family issues, doubt of the existence of God and the Devil, and perform a practice he never thought necessary.
The movie was okay but not greatly interesting until the very end when it turns out the two main priests are real people. One practices outside of Chicago and Anthony Hopkins still performs exorcisms outside of Florence. The movie was about average for an exorcism movie. Nothing made it stand out as unique. Anthony Hopkins recreated the eeriness of Hannibal Lector but failed to be convincing in his role. The rest of the cast was a bunch of nobodies that was quickly forgotten.
The movie wasn't bad but it definitely lacked anything memorable. I give it 2 stars and definitely recommend it as a rental.

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X-Men: First Class

I'm going to start off by saying this was easily the best movie of the summer (so far) and the best X-Men movie to date. X-Men First Class does for the X-Men series what Batman Begins did for Batman. Pre- First Class, the X-Men franchise was in trouble. After over a decade of casting ideas, story ideas, directors, and scripts Bryan Singer finally brought X-Men to the screen and while the first one had a small budget, it was huge for comic book nerds and mainstream movie goers alike. The second X-Men movie was arguably just as good or better with a bigger cast, better action sequences, and a manageable number more mutants. The end gave hope for an incredible future for X-Men movies. And then Brett Ratner (Rush Hour) got his hands on the Marvel franchise and single handily (with Fox's help) killed X-Men. Fans feared the worst had come when X-Men 3 destroyed the story Bryan Singer had so carefully crafted. But then Wolverine came and made X-Men 3 look like an Oscar worthy picture. Wolverine began destroying the very timeline that the first 3 movies had created. Characters and stories no longer made sense, the action sequences were not complete and looked fake, the movie was a disaster.
And then- First Class. As the movie started development fans (including myself) were skeptical and downright hateful towards this movie. While Xavier and Magneto were well cast, the rest of the cast was a disaster. These were not the original mutants considered to be "first class". In fact Cyclops' younger brother Havok was cast which destroyed that whole timeline since Cyclops' was a teenager in the 80's according to the Wolverine movie. There were many other complaints but this is supposed to be a positive review.
The moment the movie started my doubts disappeared. This movie was incredible!! Forget the original 5 X-Men- this was great! This movie took all the best elements of comic book movies- the action, the amazing story line, the realistic nature of it, the acting, and then even included costumes that oddly enough did not look that ridiculous. From start to finish the movie was entertaining. The cameos fit in perfectly with the story without seeming forced.
The only thing I did not like was towards the end (Spoiler free) Magneto starts up his Australian accent out of nowhere.
Thats it...Everything else was X-traordinary!! Hopefully this spawns a successful trilogy managed by Matt Vaughn and him alone. I give this movie 5 stars out of 5. Looking forward to seeing it again!

Hangover 2

The Hangover 2 was exactly what you expected. The movie was for all intents and purposes the same as the first time around- just in Thailand. It was no doubt hilarious but did not bring anything necessarily new to the story. The best part was once again at the end during the credits when they recap the night of forgotten experiences.
There's really not a whole lot to say. If you loved the first one, you will like the second one a lot. However the comedy hit of the summer still remains Bridesmaids- shocker- but true!

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