Category Archives: Movies

On a Movie: Cowboys & Aliens

In a movie that basically answers the question of what would happen should War of the Worlds have been set in the Wild West, ‘Cowboys & Aliens’ provided the perfect excuse to watch 007 (Daniel Craig) and Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford) kick some alien ass for a little over 2 hours.

At first glance, the premise seems strange and is sure to turn some people off, but on a weekend when the only other blockbuster movie to see is ‘The Smurfs’, I think this provided that much needed summer movie entertainment.

It was perfect that the main characters seem to run into every typical Western situation while following the aliens that stole their family and friends. There was a ruckus in the center of town, the people were subjected to an outlaw ambushin’ in a canyon, and they were captured by “Injuns” and subjected to a good dosage of old-school peyote medicine. Perfect!

I also have to give props to Daniel Craig for his portrayal of the anti-hero, Jake Lonergan, and his surprising ability to do an American accent…well. Harrison Ford did a surprising great job (given his acting in recent films) at being a cut-throat cattle rancher while also being a compassionate family man. Former Countess Olivia Wilde (didn’t know she once a Countess, did ya?) was both stunning and interesting as her character revealed some secrets that made her quite the intriguing subject…and her beauty didn’t hurt anything. I never realized how unbelievably amazing her eyes are!…they’re like staring into the clear waters of a tropical lagoon, mmmmmm. But as my friend Katie said, in general, Olivia Wilde has a somewhat hard-edge to her (akin to Megan Fox) that makes empathy and compassion seem like a foreign concept, so the scenes where she is attempting to comfort people appear somewhat odd and against the very fiber of the actress’ character.

Also, the aliens were quite terrifying, and their ability to overpower and kill frightening yet exciting.

Overall, the movie was well-made, fast-paced, entertaining, and all-together the perfect summer movie in every ridiculous way possible.

Rating: B+

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On a Movie: Captain America – The First Avenger

I’m beginning to think that Marvel Studios can do no wrong, and I thought Captain America was no exception.

But as of late, I am beginning to wonder if my love of these movies is stemming from the movie being spectacular, or if the references to the other Marvel movies/comics, and the buildup to my most anticipated movie event of the decade (The Avengers) next year, is amplifying my excitement and enjoyment while watching it, thus biasing my opinion of the movie itself. For a nerdy, fan-boy like me, it is hard to distinguish whether it is the former or latter, or both.

With The Avengers slated for May 2012 (and the amazing teaser at the end of the Captain America credits) I can best liken the Marvel franchise of movies to a television show, with Iron Man proving to be an entertaining and humorous pilot episode, and Captain America being that tantalizing episode before the earth-shattering and epic season finale.

So attempting to put my biases aside, I still thought Captain America – The First Avenger was an exciting, poignant and all-around entertaining summer flick. Chris Evans was surprisingly good in this movie. I gained a lot more respect for him after his performance in Sunshine in 2007, and I think this superhero role fit him much better than the Human Torch in Fantastic Four. And Hugo Weaving was perfectly cast at the Red Skull.

Following Thor in May and its post-credit showing of the Cosmic Cube (which made me giddy with excitement at the time), it was interesting to see that the plot of Captain America provided some history of the object leading up to that post-Thor scene. When I saw that initially, I believed the Cosmic Cube would play into the plot of a future Thor film, especially since they show Loki in the scene, but I am not upset that the tesseract became the catalyst for HYDRAs attempt at world domination and the events of Captain America – The First Avenger.

Overall, there was a good blend of fanboy shout-outs, comedic moments, action, and character development. I really liked the art direction of the film and the way they portrayed 1940’s America during World War II. And I felt there was a good emphasis on character-driven storytelling rather than being completely plot focused. The action almost seemed secondary in the film, and I would call that a good thing (but the action was still awesome!).

Final question: Which one of the Asgardian realms do you think Red Skull got transported to?

Rating: A

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On Clash of the Titans 3D

Every time I go into a movie that is based on ancient mythology, I have high hopes. Since I was a kid, I have had a fascination with ancient mythology and seem to love anything that even alludes to it. I can even remember watching the old Ray Harryhausen stop-motion films  Jason and the Argonauts and Clash of the Titans. At the time, I didn’t know that much about mythology, so inaccuracies in the storyline weren’t a huge deal for me; however, as I have matured, directorial tampering with source material has become a major issue with me.

And I should have known it when I went to the theater. This is a movie based off of another movie that is based off of mythology. Oddly enough, the 1981 movie is surprisingly accurate. Apart from the scorpion fight, Calibos and Pegasus, the main details of the film are in line with the source. Without Medusa, the Kraken and Andromeda, this rendition went so far beyond the mythological source material that it became almost impossible to identify as the story of Perseus.

I understand some of the changes Leterrier made to the film. He stated in many interviews that he didn’t want the movie to be directly compared to the 1981 cult classic, so he changed around the motivations of Perseus to be one of revenge against the gods rather than, what I would say, was duty and honor in the earlier film.  However, I don’t understand why the city was changed to Argos, when it is definitely Joppa in the myth and the original movie. What was Io doing there? What was the point of the Jin? What on Earth was that Perseus origin story Leterrier concocted (the actual one is plenty interesting)? I have come to accept Perseus riding Pegasus as it is moreso based on Renaissance art rather than myth (In myth, Bellerophon tamed Pegasus, fyi).

Anyways, aside from my mythological issues, the film wasn’t terrible. It was definitely what you expected as an action movie. It was an action-packed, high-paced film that followed the journey of Perseus as he slays the gorgon, Medusa, and defeats the Kraken. If you can get past the mythology problems, it is an entertaining movie to watch. But I must admit, I did begin to laugh out lound when Worthington (as Persues) turned to his comrades before entering the lair of Medusa and attempted to deliver a rousing, inspirational speech. Needless to say, it was a bit formulaic and horribly directed/delivered that it became comical rather than inspirational.

I also jumped on the band wagon, like the rest of the world, and decided to spend the premium to see the film in 3D. Critics are tearing the 3D to pieces, but I don’t think it was that bad. Apart from a single moment when Hades was talking to Zeus on Olympus, and it looked a bit strange to me, I didn’t notice anything that was absolutely terrible regarding the postproduction effect. I had more of an issue with the unfinished look of the CGI Medusa than the 3D.

Everyone is comparing the 3D to that of Avatar, and I think that is unfair to do. Avatar took four years to produce and required drastic advances in technology to create. In that regard, every single 3D movie that has come out is no where near the same quality. It is a matter of managing expectations. If you are expecting to see another Avatar in regards to effects, you are kidding yourself. If you are expecting to see an action movie where the 3D adds a bit of flare to the experience, you will like it. 

Rating: B-

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On the Oscars: The Ceremony

81st Annual Academy Awards

Now everyone knows that this year the Academy was trying to revitalize the Oscars in order to rekindle that viewership they used to have. Beginning with having Hugh Jackman as the host, I think they made a pretty good effort to meet that objective. Also, if you watched, you could see that they added quite a few things to the ceremony: the genre montages to give retrospective on the film industry as whole rather than just honoring those who were nominated, the 5 former winners presenting the best actor/actress awards, and the beautifully engineered and designed stage (Swarovski crystal curtains, who knew), and entertaining musical numbers. All in all, I am glad the Academy broke with tradition and that they finally accepted the fact that they are going to run over on time.

The only major issue with this Oscar ceremony was probably that the Academy was so predictable or maybe I was just that good this year. In the end I predicted all the categories winners, 24 out of 24, and was even able to guess Ann Hathaway’s dress color on the red carpet (Champagne if you were wondering).

The best moments:

1. “I’m Wolverine!” as the last line in the Hugh Jackman opening number and Ann Hathaway singing
2. Joaquin Pheonix impersonation by Ben Stiller and Natalie Portman’s comment that he looked like he worked in a meth lab
3. Musical montage arranged by Baz Lerhman and performed by Hugh Jackman and Beyonce (as Sasha Fierce), with backups by Mamma Mia and High School Musical cast.
4. Presentation of the Best Supporting Actor/Actress awards by 5 former winners and the video montage of past wins beforehand
5. James Franco in the Comedy 2008 montage
6. Audiences sentimental reaction to Heath Ledger’s win as Best Supporting Actor in a Feature Film
7. Queen Latifah singing for the In Memoriam portion of the show
8. Kate Winslet having her dad whistle so that she could say thank you to them
9. Sean Penn calling the Academy, “Commy, homo-loving sons-a-bitches”…in a good way
10. The Best Picture nominee reel

The worst moments:

1. Bill Maher plugging his religion documentary a billion times while he presented the best documentary award
2. Winner of the Sound Mixing category crying while he accepted the award
3. Having to sit through 2 appearances by Zac Effron (and that doesn’t include him being all over the red carpet)

Now it is time to watch some more movies!

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On the Oscars: The Red Carpet

So the 81st Academy Awards began with a bang and people definitely showed up dressed to impress, and some were trying but I believe they missed the mark.

Now there were definitely some trends that could easily be noticed. Quite a few women were sporting one-shoulder numbers, champagne/cream seemed to be a popular color for both the women and the men (mmhmm Mickey Rourke) and embellishment is obviously in (look at Marisa Tomei)…

Now for my worst dressed, we have…


Worst Dressed - Beyonce

Worst Dressed - Beyonce

What was she thinking? She looks like a 1970s Chinese restaurant gone awry.

Miley Cyrus

Worst Dressed - Miley Cyrus

Worst Dressed - Miley Cyrus

She made a good attempt but she looks like a deranged Thumbelina, and why is she there? Does she really consider herself an actress?

And my final one..

Mickey Rourke

Worst Dressed - Mickey Rorick

Worst Dressed - Mickey Rourke

Now he’s looking all sorts of crazy. I guess someone had to take the place of Johnny Depp. The cream suit just seems wrong for the Oscars, better for the Grammy’s maybe and I cannot figure out what that metal thing on his hip is. It looks like a spit bucket.

Now for the best dressed.

Amy Adams

Best Dressed - Amy Adams

Best Dressed - Amy Adams

She was looking amazing in that crimson dress, it fits her skin tone and the occassion.

Ann Hathaway

Best Dressed: Ann Hathaway

Best Dressed - Ann Hathaway

She was looking stunning in that Armani Prive gown. Now for this Oscar pool we had to guess Ann Hathaway’s dress color as the tie-breaker and I totally guessed champagne.

Marisa Tomei

Best Dressed - Marisa Tomei

Best Dressed - Marisa Tomei

She said when interviewed on the red carpet that she was a little worried because she didn’t get the dress until that morning, but all that stress was totally worth it. The detail of the dress is exquisite, the color is perfect for her, and she looks amazing. She is the apotheosis of my earlier analysis–one shoulder, cream colored, and embellished.

Now wait and I will give my take on the ceremony itself.

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Hellboy II: The Golden Army

I came into this film with mixed expectations. When I saw the first Hellboy film, I left with lackluster emotions towards it. I felt it was corny and didn’t provide enough exposition to produce an effective comic book adaptation. The viewer left feeling like they didn’t know why this was happening. Who was Hellboy? Who was Rasputin? What are these Seven Gods of Chaos? However, since that faithful day in 2004, Del Toro developed a motion picture masterpiece in Pan’s Labyrinth and I found a new hope for the second installment of the Hellboy franchise.

Now, having seen the second film, I can say with much confidence that Del Toro has evolved greatly as an artist and as a storyteller. To start, in this film, he interlaces a Christmas Eve experience of Hellboy’s in 1955 with a bedtime story concerning the Golden Army. This provides a deeper glimpse into the origins of the protagonist while giving the viewer an understanding of the past to set the stage for the remainder of the film’s plot. 

It can also be decided that Del Toro has developed a signature style for his “monster” for there are obvious commonalities between his monsters in Pan’s Labyrinth with the creatures of this film, the herald to King Balor and the Angel of Death being the most recognizable examples.

If one were to watch the first Hellboy film and compare it to the second installment, I would presume that it would be difficult to assume they were of the same director. Del Toro had developed into a more distinct creative mind and it is strongly evident in this film. However, in the realm of screenwriting, Del Toro still leaves room for improvement. Amidst fantastic powers, violence, wit, and the intriguing plot concerning the truce between the ancient races of Earth and human kind, Del Toro placed useless dialogue and scenes I can only believe were intended for comedic effect. If these were left on the cutting room floor, I believe that Del Toro could have provided insight into this curious alternative world living hidden beneath the realm of humans.

On a high note, the introduction of the German ectoplasmic spirit that is Johann Krauss (“there are two s’s”) to the BPRD team of Hellboy, Abe Sapien, and Liz Sherman was a light-hearted and refreshing addition to the story. Apart from his ridiculously German accent (provided by Family Guy famed, Seth MacFarlane), Krauss provides new possibilities for the BPRD team as well as provide one of the most humorous scenes in the movie in his locker room skirmish with Hellboy. 

It is rare to find a sequel that holds up to the first film and even more difficult to find one that surpasses it. However, I believe this sequel can be placed in the upper echelons of those rare few. With the additional exposition and a more developed understanding of cinematic storytelling, Del Toro had delivered a movie that provides the comic book enthusiasts with something they can enjoy as well as provides the masses with action, laughs, monsters and interesting central characters they can connect with. Overall, the movie is worth the money. Now lets see what Del Toro does with The Hobbit and Doctor Strange.

Rating: B

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