Sunday, June 8, 2014

3 Thoughts on X-Men: Days of Future Past

1. The plot - The plot is pretty simple - Wolverine is sent back in time to change the future, in turn, he saves both mutants and humans. Yet, the creators seem to think the concept is difficult for audiences to grasp so they explain the plot, over and over, and over again. It was annoying and sort of insulting. It's a good concept, completely satisfying, with some great performances. There is also a perfect balance of humor, melodrama and blockbuster special effects. I just wish they focused on the story, instead of explaining the story multiple times.

2. The scene-stealer - If you've seen the movie, then you will probably assume I am referring to Evan Peters as Quicksilver. Indeed, his sequence of scenes are awesome (and arguably the best scenes of the movie). However, the "scene-stealer" I am referring to is, of course, James McAvoy. While Michael Fassbender, Hugh Jackman and Jennifer Lawrence are all fine actors, when they are in a scene with McAvoy, they become embarrassingly mediocre. I've said it several times, and I'll say it again - McAvoy is incredible; his scenes are resonating and emotional. It's even more interesting that during the scenes that focus on a different character or multiple characters, McAvoy still steals the spotlight. Every. Single. Time.

3. The franchise - I wish I did a marathon of the X-Men movies before watching this, but honestly, I had no interest in watching them again. I see a lot of praise for X2, but I don't remember liking it very much. The only one I have any affinity for was the original one. I mildly enjoyed First Class, as well. The problem, though, is that because it has been over a decade of time and there are so many characters, I get lost with the relationships between some of them. The writers obviously knew that the audience would need reminders, so they added in a ton of flashbacks and dialogue references (a little too much in my opinion). That doesn't say a lot for the franchise, if the creators feel the need to over-explain the mythology, but I can't say that it isn't necessary. It seems like there was some confidence lost, but hopefully this movie turns things around, because I like the direction the franchise is going in.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

3 Thoughts on Maleficent

1. The "real" story - *very slight spoilers ahead* Since the story is about the villain "Maleficent" from the Sleeping Beauty fairy-tale, I assumed it to be the back-story of how her evilness came to be - and because all women turn evil because of a man (ahem), I assumed I already knew the story. I was right, in a way, but it's all of the reasons I was wrong, that make me really appreciate this story. Maleficent, is indeed, betrayed by a man. She is not betrayed by him in the sense that he leaves her for another woman (like the Wicked Witch from The Wizard of Oz, who literally turns green with jealousy); instead he betrays her in a way that causes her unimaginable pain. Her need for revenge is completely understandable. The other part of the story that I enjoyed is that even when she is "evil", the audience knows that this is not her true self. She is never beyond the realms of saving and she is actually not the real "villain" of the story.

2. Angelina Jolie - I have always been a fan of Angelina (since Hackers). She receives endless criticism about her personal life (my mother refers to her as "the home-wrecker") and about her charity work (um...this one doesn't even make one ounce of sense. Why criticize someone for trying to do some good in the world?).  Even if you have "issues" with how she lives her life, none of that has to do with her acting abilities. She's made some bad choices (*cough* The Tourist), but I've never seen her bad in anything. As Maleficent, she is stunning. I would watch the whole movie again, just to analyze her performance alone.

3. The reviews - So the reviews for this movie aren't exactly great. To be honest, I had zero interest in seeing the movie at all. I was stuck with work people for a week and EVERYONE I worked with wanted to see it. It caught me by surprise, because I haven't seen any excitement for it among movie fans (It was even more surprising that it was sold out the first night we went). The movie far exceeded my expectations. It's flawed, for sure - some of the special effects were downright ugly, Sharlto Copley, once again, over-acts and mumbles his way through dialogue, the amount of times a character says "Maleficent" will make your skin crawl, and the editing could have used a little tightening. However, the story is engaging and Jolie is spectacular. Overall, I was completely entertained.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

3 Thoughts on Neighbors

1. The main couple - My biggest worry about this type of movie was that they would utilize Rose Byrne as the "nagging wife" character. To my delight, such a character doesn't exist (and it's even addressed, with a hilarious jab at Kevin James movies). Instead, the "wife" character is actually seen as a "partner" (it's sad that this is not normal). Their story reminds me of the show Up All Night, because it's about a couple who are trying to cope with the fact that they are officially "adults" with responsibilities (a house and a baby).  I think it's been done many times from the male perspective; but it's always sort of assumed that women handle this change with ease and I don't think that's the case (at least from the women that I know that have gone through this - I, for one, never plan on having such responsibilities). It was so refreshing to watch a movie like this and not get frustrated at the female role. Also, Rose Byrne is absolutely perfect (more on that later).

2. It's consistent - Not only did I laugh through most of the movie, the parts that weren't funny were really interesting. All of the roles had some depth and they all stayed true to their characters, with everyone getting a sort of mini-story line. When most comedies become boring during the "non-funny" parts; this movie excelled in story telling. It's consistently entertaining from beginning to end.

3. The cast - I'm not always the biggest fan of Seth Rogen. He's funny in smaller roles, but I find him grating in leading roles. In this movie, he is clearly the lead, yet everyone around him steals the spotlight at some point. Namely, Rose Byrne. I became a huge fan of hers with the incredible series Damages, but I was super impressed with her comedic skills in Get Him to the Greek (and then she killed it in Bridesmaids - that crying scene in the car is one of the funniest scenes ever). She is so good in this movie. I want to watch all of her scenes on repeat. Also, I love Dave Franco. I don't understand why he isn't a bigger star (he's so much hotter than his brother). I was fully on board the Zac Efron hate train, but he's been good (and sometimes better than good) in every project since The High School Musical franchise. He's really funny in this movie, but he even excels in the emotional parts. All four of them together, create a perfect casting scenario.

Thoughts on 5 Films

1. Charlie Countryman - I was really excited about this movie. It received a lot of early festival buzz and I am one of the few who think Shia LaBeouf is a really good actor (I think most people are just too focused on the fact that he's a dick in real life to give him credit for his acting skills). Plus, I love Evan Rachel Wood. A few weeks have gone by since I watched it, and I still can't decide if I like the movie or not. I like the idea of it, but it felt really cluttered and unfocused. I don't necessarily believe in "love at first sight", but I absolutely believe that sometimes you just "know" that someone is meant to be in your life. I can fully connect with him embracing his intuition and trying to grasp on to someone he knows is important. I love the line "I'd die for love...pretty fuckin' cool way to go". Shia is excellent, but Evan Rachel Wood is surprisingly bad (it's 100% because of the accent; way too distracting to focus on anything else). I also didn't like the ending at all - *spoiler*- it's a happy ending, which is totally unnecessary for this type of movie.

2. Delivery Man - This is kind of a cute movie, but the problem is that I don't think the people watching it are expecting a "cute" movie. Fans of Vince Vaughn (like me) would probably expect something funnier, raunchier and less sentimental; yet it has one too many masturbation jokes to make it a family movie. So who exactly is this movie for? I'm still not sure. It's weird to think about Vince Vaughn having adult children - that makes me feel really old. On the plus side: Chris Pratt is hilarious. I can't wait for him to be a big star (within a few months time).
3. That Awkward Moment - I like Miles Teller. I like Michael B. Jordan. I like Zac Efron. I do not like this movie. It's not awful, but it's basically a chick flick disguised as something trying to make fun of chick flicks. It's 3 young guys endlessly talking about relationships. I don't know who would enjoy watching that; but it's certainly not me. It's bad enough watching women talk about relationships, but watching 3 emotionally stunted males talk is pretty painful. I think it was supposed to be subversive by revealing the "male perspective", but the biggest revelation that I had while watching this movie is: That's Imogen Poots??!! I've heard the name so many times, but I never knew who she was. I don't think I like her. I know I didn't like her character (you know, she's the "cool" girl because she plays video games). The only thing that works well is the chemistry between the 3 characters. I believe that the 3 of them are friends, but I don't believe that 3 males would ever spend this much time talking about their feelings.

4. Pompeii - This is a perfect, cheesy, guilty-pleasure kind of movie. It's not good at all; but somehow I was fully entertained with my eyes glued to the screen. I am super fascinated with the history of Pompeii (and, in turn, super fascinated by volcanoes). When I went to Italy, it was the only place on my "must see" list and visiting the city is probably in my top 20 life highlights. It's absolutely stunning. I'm surprised that it took this long for a big-budget movie around the famous volcano that demolished an entire city; but I guess it's a hard story to sell (at least with something like the Titanic, some people survived). The movie is totally unrealistic and over-the-top, which is to be expected. I actually thought Kit Harington did a decent job (critics will tell you otherwise), everyone else is terrible (oh Kiefer...). I was bothered that everyone had a different accent (oh Kiefer...), I get that they weren't exactly going for realism (I would die of joy if the movie were in Latin), but at least aim for consistency.

5. The Secret Life of Walter Mitty - I wasn't overly enthused about seeing this movie. I never read the book and the trailer was a bit dull, in my opinion. I really, really like the story though. I think everyone can relate to the plot, in some way. It's pretty normal to "dream" about having another, more adventurous, life. While "life" is sure to get in the way of this dream, most people don't live this this life because of financial reasons (sad but true). As much as I like the story, I don't think the movie did it justice, so I've added the book to my "to read" list. I still enjoyed the movie, but it felt a bit dull (exactly like the trailer) for such a fantastical adventure. Visually, it's pretty stunning - some gorgeous shots throughout. I also really liked the ending (one of the rare type of movies in which a happy ending is absolutely necessary). Ben Stiller is good; but Kristen Wiig is exceptional. She is amazing at seeming natural in the characters that she plays. It's so weird to think about how much I hated her on SNL and that now she is among my favorite actresses.