I am a huge movie lover - I will see pretty much anything once. Like my book blog, this is a place where I will write reviews of the movies that I see. As always, these reviews are strictly my opinion and I welcome and encourage discussion and debate on my postings~

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Prisoners

Prisoners (2013) - Run time: 2h33min

Plot:

When two little girls go missing, a father (Hugh Jackman) goes to any length to find them.  Meanwhile, a local police officer (Jake Gyllenhaal) tries to find the kidnapper before time runs out for the little girls.  This movie has a huge cast of big names that play supporting roles, including Maria Bello & Viola Davis as the distraught mothers, and Terrence Howard as the other father who tries to keep his friend from going to far in search of their daughters.

Review:

I don't know what it is with Hollywood these days making movies that run well past the 2 hour mark, and I sure hope it isn't a growing trend.  Having said that, this is yet another very LONG movie that doesn't feel that long while you are watching it.  I had high hopes for this movie, mostly due to the cast, and I have to say I wasn't disappointed.  As I have said before, I am no movie critic - all I want is to be entertained, and this movie delivered.  It is suspenseful almost right from the start, and keeps the drama and suspense coming right to the very last second.

Hugh Jackman gives a great performance as the father who will do whatever it takes to get his daughter back.  I think what I love best about his performance is that you absolutely feel his fear and anger, and you totally understand why he is doing what he is doing.  BUT ... at the same time you wonder if he isn't taking things a bit too far.  This conflict between supporting his motives and disliking his methods creates even more drama.  Maria Bello plays his wife and I have to say I think she is a bit underutilized in this film.  I love her and basically all she does through the entire movie is lay in bed and cry.  While I understand this, I am used to seeing her play much stronger characters and I would have liked to see her do a LITTLE bit more than fall apart completely.  Jake Gyllenhaal's character was a bit strange for me.  On the one hand, he played the "cop" very well and even managed to bring a bit of humour into an otherwise very dark movie, but on the other hand, for some reason they (or he) decided to give his character what I can only describe as autistic/Asperger's type qualities.  He is not very good when dealing with other people and has this weird little blinking tick thing going on.  I think it took away from his otherwise great performance and didn't really seem to fit with the rest of his character or seem necessary.  I did like his character, he was just sometimes hard to watch on screen (which I didn't think could be possible for Gyllenhaal!).

Now for my few critiques: First, there were some great plot twists in this movie, but I found that I was able to guess them 5-10 minutes prior to them being revealed in the film.  If you are going to come up with such great twists, don't let your audience see them coming!!  Second, there were several times throughout the movie where I found myself shouting (in my head of course) "WHY WOULDN'T HE JUST _______!!!" Overall, I found this film to be fairly realistic and the characters relatable, but every once in a while someone would do something that made no sense.

Overall, I really liked this film.  As I said, I was certainly entertained and it didn't feel as long as it was.  There was some graphic violence in it, but I don't think they took it too far and it was always for a reason.

Rating 8/10 - Some minor flaws but definitely worth a watch. 

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

I'm Back!!

Well, what can I say - much like the many diaries of my youth, I started this blog with good intentions and high hopes, and then .... stopped.  BUT I'm back and I will say that I certainly didn't stop watching movies while I was gone!  I'm hoping to keep this up on a much more regular basis and if I have extra time, I will try and make up for my absence by adding some extra reviews for some of the movies I have seen over the past few years!  And if anyone is still reading this, thanks for sticking with me!!

Captain Phillips

Captain Phillips (2013)- Run time: 2h14min

Plot:

Captain Phillips (Tom Hanks) is leading a container ship which gets taken over by a crew of Somali pirates who plan to hold the ship captive for a ransom. It's a true story based on the real hijacking of a U.S. ship in 2009. Captain Phillips tries to keep his crew safe while the Somali pirates hope for a large payout.

Review:

Let me preface this by saying I am a HUGE Tom Hanks fan and there is little this man does that I don't like. I went into this hoping to be entertained but not expecting much. I figured that most of the suspense was probably given away in the previews and was not expecting much more from the movie. I did know that it was based on a true story, although I don't remember hearing about it in the news at all back in 2009 when it took place. I also didn't realize the movie was over 2 hours long. Having said all that, I was very pleasantly surprised by this movie. Besides Tom Hanks as the title character, the only other face I recognized was that of Catherine Keener, who plays Captain Phillip's wife and gets about 5min of screen time (which is a shame because this woman can be great). This film was suspenseful from start to finish and I certainly did not feel like I was sitting there for over 2 hours - the time flew by. The action kicks off pretty quickly in this movie, which is great as many other 2+ hr movies take forever to get to the good stuff.

This movie did an excellent job of taking you through a range of emotions. At various points throughout the film I felt scared, angry, sympathetic, frustrated and a million other things I can't even describe. The relationship between Captain Phillips and the captain of the Sumali pirates is one built on false trust and survival. Each need something from the other in order to survive. As always, Tom Hanks was superb in his role of Captain Phillips - although I have to say his accent was really annoying - NO idea what part of the US he was supposed to be from! Aside from that, he put in a great performance, as did most of the cast. I also think the movie did a great job of keeping things realistic in terms of emotions, reactions and motives. There wasn't a "USA is the BEST" vibe from this movie at all - and the characters were all believeable. Overall, I really enjoyed this movie - it was better than I expected it to be, which is always a nice surprise!!

Rating 9/10 - it was better than expected, and it didn't feel nearly as long as it was. Having said that, it's not the kind of movie you are probably going to watch over and over. Definitely worth the watch though!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Hall Pass

Hall Pass (2011) - Run time: 1h45min

Plot:

Wives Maggie (Jenna Fischer) and Grace (Christina Applegate) are sick and tired of their husbands (Owen Wilson & Jason Sudeikis) checking out other women right in front of them, and after talking to an older psychologist friend (Joy Behar), decide to grant them a Hall Pass: one week off from the restrictions of marriage, in hopes of improving their marriages. Basically they are given the opportunity to cheat on their wives with no consequences and to live out all their horny teenage boy fantasies that they believe would be reality if not for their wives. Meanwhile, the wives have some fun of their own after retreating to a beach house for the week.

Review:

So despite everything I had heard about this movie, I still had high hopes for it. In general, Owen Wilson can usually hold his own in a comedy situation and I am a HUGE fan of the Office and Fischer's character on that show. Christina Applegate is also become a huge comedy queen in the last few years. So like I said, I had high hopes. I was disappointed. It wasn't the WORST movie I have ever seen but it fell far short of the comedic gold it could have been. Basically it is a movie filled with stereotypes, male chauvinism and bad jokes that have been used over and over. If you like penis jokes, men complaining about their wives and all the hot chicks they could be banging if not for them, and a lot of really bad cliches then this is the movie for you. I'm sure men across the country loved this movie, it's basically the opposite of a chick flick. Now this is from a purely critical standpoint - it's utter crap. BUT, like I said, it's also not the worst movie I have ever seen, not by a long shot.

I'm the kind of person who goes to the movies to be entertained. Generally speaking I don't really like having to think while at the movies, I go to relax, unwind and rest my mind (there are however some exceptions to this rule). From a purely entertainment standpoint, it's not a bad flick. I went on cheap Tuesday and I'd definitely say it's not worth $11 but if you have a gift certificate or talk someone else into paying, then go see it. If not, I would recommend waiting until it comes out on video and rent it.

Overall I found it predictable, overwrought with bad jokes we've all heard a million times, and bad sight gags - but still gave me a few good laughs. Oh yeah, warning to all you parents out there, it's rated 14+ but I think that's pushing it a bit. There is nudity (both female AND male full frontal), swearing, sex, masturbation, dirty jokes and adult content. I wouldn't let my kid see it that's for sure (if I had one that is). I also wouldn't have thought the older crowd would like it much but there was an elderly couple right behind me in the theatre who laughed more than I did, so who knows.

Rating 6/10 - one to rent for sure - considering the gems that have come out in the last little bit I found it disappointing.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Kick-Ass

Kick-Ass (2010) - Run time: 1h58min

Plot:

Teenager Dave Lizewski (Aaron Johnson) is a comic book lover who decides to become a real life superhero and fight crime on the streets of New York. He orders a wet suite off the Internet and turns himself into Kick-Ass. Along the way, he meets Big Daddy (Nicolas Cage) and his daughter Hit-Girl (Chloe Grace Moretz) who are fighting their own battle against the drug lord who framed Big Daddy (an ex cop) years ago and sent him to jail.

Review:

I'll tell you right now, I'm not into comics - at all. I also tend not to really enjoy movies based on comics (as Kick-Ass is). I watched Batman when I was younger and it was ok - but it didn't really do anything for me. I don't think I've even SEEN X-Men or The Watchmen, and don't really have any plans to. Having said that, when I saw the trailer for Kick-Ass a few months ago, I knew instantly it was one I wanted to see. Unlike most comic book movies that seem to take themselves too seriously, Kick-Ass looked extremely funny. After seeing the movie I have to say that it is NOT AT ALL what I expected, but in a good way. It was definitely funny (even funnier than I anticipated) but it was also, umm, I don't even really know how to describe it!! When you watch the trailer, it looks like some silly Power Rangers version of a super hero movie made for teenage boys. I have to admit I didn't even look at the rating when I went to see it but now I definitely know why it earned the 18+ (or R for you Americans out there). It was INSANE!! Imagine Kill Bill, only with a geeky teenage boy for a hero and a foul mouthed 11 year old in the part of Uma Thurman. Literally, it was that gory and violent.

So here's the deal, I LOVED it - I honestly could not believe how much I liked that movie. BUT, for all you parents out there I highly recommend NOT letting anyone under the age of AT LEAST 15 see this movie, and even then, it's pushing it. It is extremely violent and gory and is filled with bad language and even some nudity. If you didn't like Kill Bill because of the violence and language then you definitely won't like this. I've read several articles on this movie and critics are really divided over it. There has even been a bit of controversy over the things said by the 11 year old star (Moretz). Personally, I think she was hilarious, and did an amazing job considering the challenges of the role and her age. Nicolas Cage was also fantastic in this movie, but I pretty much love all of his stuff (with the exception of the odd few bombs he's been in). He somehow manages to make a completely deranged man who CLEARLY shouldn't be a parent into a completely lovable character. As for the movie's main star (Johnson), all I can say is I have a major crush on this kid now. I have a soft spot for those geeky yet lovable characters and he plays it to a T. Right from the start you root for him to get the girl and outsmart the bad guys and he keeps you hooked up until the very end.

On a side note, since developing my ridiculous crush on Johnson - I did what any good female fan would do and googled him. He is actually a little older than I thought he was in the movie (19), but during my google search I came across a startling piece of trivia. Apparently, while filming another movie he started dating the film's 43 YEAR OLD DIRECTOR!!! They are now engaged and she is pregnant - ewwww. I still think he's adorable though!!

Anyway, back to the movie. If you love action movies and comedies and aren't offended by foul language and dirty jokes then you should definitely see this movie. If hearing an 11 year old girl say the words c*ck and c*nt is going to be morally offensive to you, then steer clear of this film.

Rating 9/10 - a solid 9, maybe even a 10 to be honest - although I'll stick with a 9 just because of all the gore and language.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Leap Year

Leap Year (2010) - Run time: 100min

Plot:

Anna Brady (Amy Adams) is a high strung home stager in Boston who wants the perfect life. That includes the perfect proposal from her boyfriend Jeremy. During a romantic dinner, Anna is sure Jeremy is about to propose but when she opens the little black box she finds earrings. Jeremy then runs off to Ireland for a convention leaving Anna wondering about her future. Soon after, Anna decides to take advantage of an old Irish tradition that states a woman may propose to her boyfriend on Feb 29th. After a storm re-routes her plane to a small village in Ireland, Anna must rely on local innkeeper Declan (Matthew Goode) to get her to Dublin on time.

Review:

Anyone who has seen the previews for this movie knows that it is the epitome of a "chick flick" romantic comedy. Basically, once Anna meets Declan, craziness ensues and sparks fly. I happen to love cheesy rom-coms so it was right up my alley. I have to say though that the script is a little dry - the funniest parts of the movie are shown in the trailer. Thankfully, Amy Adams and Matthew Goode turn in great performances and infuse the movie with some humour and life. Matthew Goode is actually the best part of the movie - and despite his character's attitude problem, I found him immediately likable (the accent definitely adds to that!). Guys will probably cringe at the mere SIGHT of the movie poster and it won't get much better for them in the theatre. This movie uses all the classic rom-com cliches - boy and girl meet, boy and girl hate each other, boy and girl forced to spend time together, boy and girl don't hate each other quite so much anymore, you can probably guess the end. Oh, the beautiful Irish scenery is also amazing - the perfect backdrop for the sappy love story.

Final verdict? If you are in to cheesy movies where you know the ending before you even get your ticket, then you will love it. If you like plot twists and originality, this movie is probably not for you.

Rating 7/10 - it wasn't the best romantic comedy I have seen but it was pretty good

Sunday, January 17, 2010

The Lovely Bones

The Lovely Bones (2009) - Run time: 135min

Plot: Based on the novel by Alice Sebold, The Lovely Bones is about 14 year old Susie Salmon (Saoirse Ronan)who is brutally murdered by neighbour George Harvey (Stanley Tucci) and looks down on her friends and family from her own personal heaven (or the "in-between"). She watches as her family falls apart over her murder - her mother Abigail(Rachel Weisz) can't cope with her loss and disappears to California leaving Susie's father Jack (Mark Wahlberg) and crazy Grandmother Lynn (Susan Sarandon) to care for their other two children, Lindsey and Buckley. Meanwhile, Jack becomes obsessed with solving her murder and quickly suspects Harvey is responsible.

Review:

I read this book probably about a year ago and really liked it, so when I heard they were making it into a movie I was excited but hesitant. The book is very disturbing and complex and I was not sure how it would be effectively transferred to the screen. Critically, the movie has received horrible reviews. The thing that I most disliked about the movie also happens to be the thing I found really annoying in the book: the whole "heaven"/"in-between" thing. In the book, when you got to a part where Susie was describing her heaven it was almost like reading an entirely different novel - it really had little to do with the rest of the book. I think having Susie narrate from heaven was a great idea and extremely effective, however there could have been a lot less description of the psychedelic experiences she has in her heaven in between spying on her family. It just felt really out of place. Unfortunately, the movie followed into the same trap. It seems like the director was so busy trying to make Susie's heaven like some crazy acid trip that he did not stop to think about whether the scenes he was including really added to the story (which they didn't). Again, while watching the film, these scenes almost seemed like they belonged in a different movie. Emotions go from happy and carefree to absolutely depressing in seconds and leave you unsure of how you are supposed to be feeling.

While I thought the casting was great and the acting was pretty good, the character development was quite poor, leaving the actors little to work with. Grandma Lynn magically appears with no explanation for her behaviour and then disappears just as fast, only to return later with the same strangeness. Similarly, in the book, the character of Buckley plays a much larger role as he tries to navigate his childhood with a murdered sister, an absent mother, a crazy grandma, and an emotionally distant father. This was pretty much cut out of the film entirely. Same goes for the character of Lindsay, while she plays a larger role in the film, her character still is not really flushed out and it seems like random parts of the book that involve her character were put in simply for the suspense it created - you don't really get to see deeper into Lindsay and how the loss of her sister really affected her.

I have to admit that I wasn't overly disappointed with the film adaptation. There were some things I really didn't like and I think they could have done a much better job overall, but I didn't walk out of the theatre totally let down. I guess you could say I'm ambivalent - I'm not really sure what to make of this film. It certainly does not compare whatsoever to the book it is based on, so for all of you readers out there I strongly suggest taking a go at the book before you see the movie - but I guess I was entertained by the film.

Rating 6/10 - read the book first and take the film with a grain of salt