Posts tagged ‘Movie Reviews’

Movie Review: The Dark Knight Rises (4 of 5)

This isn’t going to be a detailed review.

I saw The Dark Knight Rises alone because neither my wife nor daughters wished to see it, even though my girls love Joseph Gordon-Levitt.  They weren’t excited by the trailers and after the Colorado shooting, weren’t even willing to see it just for dear old Dad.

It’s a very good movie.  Not as good as The Avengers, I’d rank it about the same as The Amazing Spider-man except that I’m more interested in seeing Spidey a second time in the theater.  I not sure exactly why, except that I had lower expectations for Spider-man and he exceeded them while I had high expectations for TDKR and he didn’t quite meet them.

Now I loved The Dark Knight.  I saw it a couple of times in the theater including once in IMAX.  But TDKR has no one to match Heath Ledger’s Joker.  I also think there were too many characters in TDKR and we didn’t get to spend enough time with them.  If you read my review of The Amazing Spider-man, I explained how less is more.  Few characters means we get a better feel for them.

In The Dark Knight Rises, we have:  Bruce/Batman, Alfred, Gordon, Selena/Catwoman, Bane, Fox, Blake, Miranda, Foley, Daggat, Stryver and the two guys in the pit.  Each of these characters had significant dialogue and multiple scenes.  They could have dropped Foley, comgined Daggat and Stryver into a single character and combined the two guys in the pit into a single character without changing the plot one bit.

There were also several scenes that pulled me out of the movie which is never a good thing.

So I do recommend it, but not as highly as I would have liked.

August 5, 2012 at 10:49 am

Movie Review: The Hit List (4 of 5)

We just watched this movie and were very pleasantly surprised.  When I think of Cuba Gooding, Jr., I think of his Oscar for Jerry MaGuire back in 1996 followed by Snow Dogs in 2002.  He actually made quite a few movies in between, but that had been the impression.  It’s a shame because The Hit List shows that he can be a dynamite villain.

The movie focuses on Cole Hauser, an engineer expecting a promotion at work and married to a wife he adores.  We also find out that he borrowed some money from the wrong kind of people and really needs the promotion in order to repay the loan.  Of course, if that had happened this would have been an entirely different movie.

Instead Hauser loses out on the promotion to a slimy coworker and arrives home in time to find his wife in a negligee and his best friend buttoning up his shirt.  It seems he’s been so focused on getting ahead in the world that they’ve grown apart.  She wants to talk, but he leaves for a motel.  On the way, he stops at a bar where he meets Cuba and gets drunk.

Cuba admits to our protagonist that he is a professional killer.  Hauser thinks its a joke and is persuaded to make a list of 5 people he wants dead:  his boss, his slimy coworker, his loan shark, his ex-best friend and his estranged wife.  He then takes a bathroom break and when he returns, Cuba is gone.

When Hauser arrives at work the next morning after sleeping in his car, he learns that his boss has been murdered … and the race is on.

Hauser is solid as the normal guy in over his head.  Cuba is amazing as the unstoppable killing machine and very reminiscent of Tom Cruise in Collateral.

I recommend The Hit List as an above average thriller and a chance to see Cuba Gooding, Jr. in a different light.

May 12, 2012 at 1:32 pm

Hunger Games

I will give it a full review this weekend, but I saw this movie with the family tonight.  My wife and youngest had already seen it and my oldest has seen it twice.

It was good.  Highly recommend it.

April 7, 2012 at 12:17 am 1 comment

Movie Review: John Carter (3.5 of 5)

So I read the reviews (pro and con) and procrastinated as long as I could, but when my wife and youngest daughter both expressed an interest, I couldn’t put it off any longer.  We went to see John Carter (of Mars) on Saturday.  I didn’t spring for the 3D version, preferring to spend my money on sodas and popcorn instead.

I liked it … quite a bit.  My wife liked it okay.  My 13 year old loved it and wanted to see it again while my 15 year old hated it and complained all the way home.

A number of reviewers were outraged at the liberties taken with the story.  If you could point to a single movie that didn’t have significant changes from the book, I might understand that complaint.  But overall, John Carter is remarkably consistent with A Princess of Mars.  Yes, they made changes, but at least a loyal fan could tell that this movie was based on the Burrough’s book – unlike I, Robot which had more in common with Jack Williamson’s Humanoids series than anything Asimov wrote.  And despite one idiotic reviewer, the movie producers stayed faithful to the names and language of the original and didn’t violate Heinlein’s prohibition (which he broke himself) on Martians named Smith.

Carter is still a former Confederate officer from Virginia.  He mines for gold and get chased by Apaches.  The movie provides a less metaphysical method to transport Carter to Mars.  Tars Tarkus is still 10 feet tall, green and has four arms.  Yes, Tars is now Jeddak of Thark from the start rather than fighting his way to the top, but some things have to change to make a movie.

I am not going to list everything they did right, nor everything that they changed.  I will note that I agree with Harry Knowles that they made a mistake by starting the movie on Mars with a narration to explain the political landscape of Barsoom.  The movie would be greatly improved if they had started with Carter on Earth and let us learn about Barsoom politics when he does.

The movie has good effects and more humor than expected – well played humor, at that.  I would have liked to see a banth, but at least they were mentioned.

And the ending was awesome.

I don’t know the actors and don’t care to look them up.  Their performances were acceptable, but not outstanding.  I found it a little distracting that Carter looked like Christian Bale when he had a beard, but looked more like Brandon Lee once he got a shave.  This Dejah Thoris may not have been the most beautiful woman of two worlds, but the actress was easy on the eyes and her portrayal was not quite the Xena, Buffy, River Tam warrior princess that I’d been expecting due to other reviews.  I can accept a woman with a sword killing swaths of bad guys as long as she doesn’t go ninja-fu on them.

To sum up:  a good action movie that was reasonably faithful to the source material.  Unless you are one of those guys that will never forgive Peter Jackson for leaving Tom Bombadil out of the Fellowship of the Ring, you’ll probably enjoy it as I did.

March 19, 2012 at 8:50 pm

Movie Review: Wild Target (4 of 5)

Bill Nighy is the world’s greatest assassin.  Infamous and anonymous, no one knows who he is or what he looks like – only that he never fails.  Until now.

Emily Blunt is a thief and con artist.  She’s been quite successful until she pulls one over on the wrong person (Rupert Everett) and he hires the aforementioned Mr. Nighy to take care of her.  And he plans to, really he does.  But as he tracks her, he witnesses her captivating ability to manipulate the world around her, he finds himself unable to finish her off.  Indeed, he abandons his job and reputation to become her staunch defender.

A cute, quirky action comedy with a dash of romance with strong performances from Nighy and Blunt, plus Rupert Grint demonstrates his ability to hold his own against the main characters.

I recommend it for 4 out of 5 stars.


February 16, 2012 at 12:46 pm

Movie Review: Season of the Witch (3 of 5)

Starring Nicolas Cage and Ron Perlman, this movie exceeded my expectations.

Of course, my expectations were pretty low given Mr. Cage’s most recent work.  But the presence of Ron Perlman was enough for me to give it a chance and I am glad that I did.  While not great cinema, the movie held my interest and was decently entertaining.  I give it 3 stars out of 5.

Cage and Perlman are Crusader knights and very good at their work.  Until the church leader begins targeting them against women and children.  Then Cage calls it quits and walks away with faithful Perlman at his side.  They head back home only to find plague and pestilence on their journey.  As deserters, they are offered pardons if they agree to escort a confessed witch to a distant monastery for trial and some mystical process that will end the plague.  Ah, but the witch is a young girl that plays to Cage’s sympathies even while leaving little doubt that she is not an innocent victim.

Cage actually tones down his performance and Perlman is great as usual.  The additional characters are solid.  Special effects won’t win any awards, but were adequate.

A decent sword and witchcraft movie.

February 15, 2012 at 5:45 pm

Movie Review: The Woman in Black (4 out of 5)

Just saw this movie with my senior offspring – her choice.  She has a thing for Daniel Radcliffe and I thought the trailer looked promising.  Daniel is the only “star” in the film, but he has a solid supporting cast.

The Woman In Black is a refreshing throwback to traditional ghost stories.  In an age of The Human Centipede, SAW, and remakes of everything from Friday the 13th to Nightmare on Elm Street, I really enjoyed watching a well told ghost story with tons of atmosphere, solid performances and plenty of well-played scares.  Experiencing this movie is like visiting an exceptional haunted house on Halloween.

In fact, my only criticism of the movie is that the scares are performed so flawlessly, that I found myself watching the background rather than focusing on Mr. Radcliffe’s fine performance.

If you’re looking for things that go bump in the night rather than chainsaws and buckets of blood, The Woman In Black may be what you’re looking for.

I recommend it.

(Note to the Feds:  I paid for our tickets and got nothing in return other than about 90 minutes of entertainment.)

February 11, 2012 at 11:37 pm

Surprisingly Awesome (4 out of 5)

After dinner tonight, I took my wife to see Real Steel.  She picked the movie – because of Hugh Jackman, of course (yes, he takes his shirt off).

For the guys in the audience, you had basically a replay of Rocky starring the Rock ’em Sock ’em Robots … and Evangeline Lilly (no, she keeps her shirt on).

As the post title indicates, the movie was surprisingly enjoyable.  Perhaps the best popcorn movie of the season.  Hugh Jackman channels a little Sylvester Stallone as a down-and-out robot wrangler who gets stuck with the son-he-never-knew after an old girlfriend dies.  Over the course of the film, he matures a bit and develops a relationship with the kid.  Pretty typical formula, but executed brilliantly.  Pretty silly premise (boxing robots) played straight and very effectively.  Both the wife and I enjoyed it a lot.


October 8, 2011 at 10:25 pm 1 comment

Movie Review: Gnomeo and Juliet (3.5 / 5.0)

It’s been a while since we’ve been to the movies.  My wife wanted to see Beastly, but our daughter wanted to see Gnomeo and Juliet so that’s the one we saw.

The verdict?  Pleasantly surprised.

The soundtrack is filled with Elton John tunes – some of them rewritten to fit the movie’s theme a bit.  The voice actors do a good job of bringing their characters to “life.”  The story is an adequate retelling (more of an “inspired by”) of ole’ Shakespeare.  There are a number of sight gags and references to the Bard’s various works, as well as a pretty humorous story.

Behind a duplex occupied by feuding senior citizens (barely seen), are two gardens – one red and the other blue.  The gardens are filled with tacky decorations, primarily gnomes.  And the two groups do not get along.  Juliet is the daughter of the over-protective Red King and Gnomeo is the son of the widowed Blue Queen.  They meet, fall in love and much conflict results.

Our whole family enjoyed the movie a great deal.  Though not worth paying to see a second time, we will definitely look for it when released on dvd.  A very solid 3.5 out of 5.

Minor Spoiler:







An inspired touch that mostly worked was introducing a “Shakespeare” character to complain about the changes to his story.


March 17, 2011 at 10:35 pm

Movie Review: Inception (5 of 5)

Let me be honest.

I don’t like Leo DiCaprio.  We own a copy of Catch Me If You Can, but I’ve yet to watch it.  I’ve never been in the mood for a Leonardo DiCaprio movie.  Not sure why, may be his (IMHO) over-inflated reputation as an actor.  In fact, that is probably the primary reason.  I’m seldom impressed by anything that’s forced down my throat as “THE NEXT BIG THING”.  I’ll make up my own mind, thank you very much.

That out of the way:  I loved Inception.  Everyone in my family did as well, though truth be told, my eleven year old daughter did get a bit bored in the middle (we let her go out to the lobby for a popcorn refill), but then Percy Jackson is more her speed.

Is Inception as perfect as some have claimed?  No.  There are flaws – some obvious – but they did not detract or distract from our enjoyment.  I went in prepared to not like this movie and I’m very pleased to report that I was wrong.

So what’s it about?

Leo is a thief.  His team enters the dream of their victim and trick them into revealing confidential information, but they’re not always successful.  As a result, he has enemies out to get him.  Neither can he return home to the US to be reunited with his children (for a reason important to the plot).  Pushed into a corner, he takes a “impossible” job – Inception: implanting an idea into the subject rather than extracting one.  He assembles his team (including Ellen Page and Joseph Gordon-Levitt) and stage their assault.  But dreams can take on a life of their own.

I never should have doubted Chris Nolan.  His movies, from Memento to The Dark Knight, have been consistently excellent, thought-provoking and above all else, entertaining.

Isn’t that what movies are all about.


The biggest flaw involved the use of gravity and lack thereof.

August 1, 2010 at 12:07 pm 1 comment

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