Monday, June 8, 2009

The trilogy completed

This is quite possibly the best thing I've seen in a long time! Recently I rewatched Toy Story 2 and I fell in love with it all over again.

Now I just have to wait a year.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

No code of conduct, no interest

These days, superhero movies are almost guaranteed to be a box office hit. This modern revival of the age of superheroes is partly in thanks to X-Men. Back in 2000 when the movie X-Men came out, it opened to $54 million, which was decent. Each subsequent sequel opened to even more.

And it might be safe to say that America sort of fell in love with Hugh Jackman at that point. As Wolverine, an already popular character, Jackman was a central figure to the first movie and the second one revolved around his character even more. It only made sense that he should get his own deal.

It sure seemed as if X-Men Origins: Wolverine was going to be the first summer blockbuster movie. However, after some bad early reviews and the movie being leaked online a month early, that early prediction seemed to be less secure.

That being said, Wolverine by all rights shouldn't be counted as the first summer blockbuster. The movie is bad. I say this with complete disappoint because I went in thinking the movie was going to be awesome. I know superhero movies don't always get good reviews even when they are good, so I didn't pay much attention to the critics.

I should have.

What you will see if you watch Wolverine is two hours of sloppy plotline, pointless characters and a bad guy at the end that no one really cares about.

The format for the movie sort of feels like this: Logan is little and this happens. He and his brother do this. They get involved with this. Then this happens to him so he does this. Then something else happens so he does another thing in response. Then he finds out this. Then he searches for so-and-so. Then he finds the thing he was looking for. Oh, by the way, big boss battle. Also, we need to tie this up so it fits in, sort of, with the first X-Men movie.


Jackman has corny lines and he doesn't seem as interesting as Wolverine as he did for the X-Men movies. This isn't necessarily his fault. This is whoever wrote the script and whoever thought it seemed interesting. Instead of actually giving an interesting back story to one of the most complex characters of X-Men, they threw together a sloppy film to try and bank on Wolverine's popularity. In all seriousness, this movie could have been broken into at least two, possibly three, good, well thought out films.

In the movie we meet Logan as a boy when he first discovers he's a mutant. He and his brother, Victor, run away together and, as a result of their healing abilities, live a very long time, fighting in multiple wars until they get thrown in jail and are rescued by William Stryker (Danny Huston, 30 Days of Night), who we should remember from X2. Stryker recruits the two of them for his team of mutants that we don't really understand what it is they do, just that eventually Logan gets on his moral horse and leaves.

A few years later, Logan is settled down with a lovely woman. That can't last. So after he's disrupted from his cozy life, he gets the metal claws we all know and love, courtesy of Stryker and goes only by the name Wolverine. But, he goes AWOL and starts attacking Stryker and his operation. Turns out brother dear, Victor, aka Sabretooth, has been looking for Logan. Somewhere along the line, Victor stopped being protective of Logan and now wants to kill him. It makes very little sense.

In an attempt to make the fanboys (and girls) happy, they threw in a lot of characters from the comic books: the Blob, Bolt, Silver Fox, Gambit, Agent Zero, Deadpool, young Scott Summers aka Cyclops and young Emma Frost. Now, some were necessary but most were pointless and aggravating.

Gambit was totally unnecessary and was probably only put in because he is also a popular character. And young Scott and Emma, who later become the leaders of the X-Men and lovers, were almost ridiculous. Why were they needed? How did they further the plot? Oh, right, to make the end bad guy more bad.

The only good thing about the entire movie was Sabretooth (Liev Schreiber, Defiance). He gives a gritty performance as Logan's brother. He truly becomes a man obsessed with finding his brother and proving that Logan was wrong for leaving. Schreiber is interesting and ammoral, and maybe the movie should have been X-Men Origins: Sabretooth.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

A Superhero for the Adoring Geeks

I have been reading the comic Kick-Ass since it first started months ago and I have to say, it is the best comic I've read in a long time (not that I've been reading them all that long, but still). Also, I think this is a comic that non-comic book fans can appreciate.

So I was completely unsurprised when I heard it was being made into a movie. Today, comics are box office gold. People will go to see them and the studios know this. However, the studios have also been producing some really first-rate movies based on comics, so I'm expecting the same from Kick-Ass.

Here are the first pictures from the movie:

Hit Girl

Kick-Ass aka Dave Lizewski

I think Dave is looking pretty kick-ass, butI'm not sure how I'm feeling about the first picture of Hit Girl. Considering the first time we meet her she takes out some gangsters, decapitates a dude and is covered in blood (which is the picture from the comic), I don't think the school girl outfit with a gun does her any justice.

I'm reserving judgement for now, though.

Monday, April 27, 2009

It's freaking ME out!

Okay, I'll admit that I'm a 21-year-old woman with a slight crush on Zac Efron. It didn't help that he's ridiculously funny in 17 Again. And while I've never watched any of the High School Musicals (except for part of the first before my little cousin fell asleep), there's no denying that Efron's a talented actor.

It was with surprisingly little struggle that I got my boyfriend to go see 17 Again; but it was even more surprising afterwards when he told me that he had liked the movie.

Admittedly, the plot line is a little corny: Mike O'Donnell (Matthew Perry, Friends) is unhappy with his life at age 37 and after a strange encounter with a creepy janitor, he finds that he is 17 again (the title of the movie!).

Now, Mike has a lot of problems to fix with his life, and it probably didn't help him that he's in his 17-year-old body while going through a divorce from his high school sweetheart. And not just any high school sweetheart, but the one for whom he left the most important basketball game of his life to chase after.

Figuring out, thanks to his nerdy best friend Ned (Thomas Lennon, I Love You, Man), that this transformation is supposed to help him figure out his path in life, Mike realizes that he has to fix things with his wife, Scarlett (Leslie Mann, Knocked Up) and get closer to his kids.

Efron plays young Mike as almost a young Chandler Bing (that's Perry's character from Friends if you didn't know). The awkward laughs and actions show that Efron probably studied up on Perry. So even though it's a bit of a stretch to imagine that Perry looked like Efron in high school, it's made considerably easier when Efron captures Perry's actions so well. And there is an undeniable chemistry between Mann and Efron as he tries to subtly woo his wife.

Amidst the high school antics comes a scene stealer of a couple: Lennon and Melora Hardin (The Office) as Principal Jane Masterson. As Mike's closest and oldest friend, Ned is the only one who knows the truth about Mike's transformation. Acting as his father, Ned meets Jane and makes a fool out of himself trying to get her to go on a date with him. As principal of the school, Jane will have nothing to do with it, until they realize their undying love of Lord of the Rings. Some of the funniest scenes in the movie come from Ned "peacocking" and the two of them speaking Elvish.

However, this comedy has it's eye-roll inducing moments. Since Mike got Scarlett pregnant while the two were still in high school, there is the obligatory scene where teenage Mike makes a long speech in health class about staying abstinent and all the girls swoon.

Even though most people will want to write off 17 Again as a comedy geared toward the tween group, it's really a lot of fun for everyone. In fact, there were many scenes that had my boyfriend and I laughing, but some of the teenagers didn't quite get the humor.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Jai Ho

If you haven't seen the little movie that could, Slumdog Millionaire, I suggest you run out and rent it right about ... five minutes ago.

Still not convinced?

This movie combines Who Wants to be a Millionaire? (the Indian version), love and brotherhood in one movie and gripes your heart tight while it pulls on the strings. Of course, it starts out with Jamal Malik (Dev Patel, British TV show Skins) being tortured for possibly cheating on the show. After all, how could a "slumdog" - a person who grew up in India's slums - possibly have gotten farther in Who Wants to be a Millionaire? than professors and scientists?

This is where the movie's magic enters. Jamal, who will be back on the show the next day to answer the final few questions, recounts parts of his life to explain why he knows some of the answers. The audience follows young Jamal (Ayush Mahesh Khedekar) and his brother Salim (Azharuddin Mohammed Ismail). We are shown what life is like in the slums for these two fun-loving trouble makers, who are best known as Athos and Porthos, from the Three Musketeers, a book they were reading in class. However, when their mother dies, the two find Latika (Rubiana Ali). Jamal calls her the third musketeer, even though he never knew the third one's name. The three live on their own for a while before Jamal and Salim are separated from Latika. Despite having left Latika, Jamal never stops thinking about her or hoping to find her.

The film gives us an amazing glimpse into what hardships Jamal and Salim survive and overcome. The entire country of India also becomes engrossed in the young slumdog who has a shot at winning the 20,000,000 rupees.

The casting is excellent because the actors and actresses all slightly resemble their younger and older counterparts. All of the characters have been cast three times for separate times in the characters' lives. The young actors and actresses were actually picked from the slums by director Danny Boyle (28 Days Later and Millions).

One character, who was probably overlooked as a result of Jamal and Latika's romance, is Salim, who is possibly the most layered of the three. As a typical older brother, Salim picks on and teases Jamal, sometimes cruelly. However, he is also a typical older brother in the way that he worries about, takes care over and looks out for Jamal. He makes difficult decisions to protect his younger brother, and while Jamal always worries about finding Latika again, all Salim wants is for it to be the two of them. His character is troubled, but when Jamal needs help, his older brother is usually there.

The host of Who Wants to be a Millionaire? and the police are curious as to how Jamal could possibly know the answers to such difficult questions, aren't you?

Slumdog Millionaire was released on DVD today, March 31. The movie's special features are typical: deleted scenes, making of the movie and commentary by director Danny Boyle and Dev Patel.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Slappin' the bass, man

The bromance is the new thing for guys and media is acknowledging that. MTV recently had a series entitled Bromance, in which a guy from The Hills looked for a new friend, or something like that. Shows like House and Scrubs have infamous bromances between the guy friends of each show.

And now we have a whole movie dedicated to the bromance: I Love You, Man. Unfortunately, the idea of the movie is actually better than the movie itself. When Peter (Paul Rudd, Knocked Up) proposes to his girlfriend Zooey (Rashida Jones, The Office) they quickly realize that while she has six bridesmaids he has no groomsmen.

His family prods him to try and find a best man, even if that means going out on some mandates with guys he barely knows. With the help of his family he goes to a soccer game with a guy who he can’t stand and a mandate that turns into a real date without Peter’s approval. He also gets ridiculously drunk and pukes all over the husband of Zooey’s friend.

And then he finds Sidney Fife (Jason Segel, Forgetting Sarah Marshall). Or, well, Sidney finds Peter’s open house. The two sort of hit it off and then begins the … well, courtship. Like a nervous boy asking a girl to the dance, Peter sets up a night of food and drinks with Sidney. And then they meet at the boardwalk and hang out in Sidney’s “man cave” (which is just the shed in back of his house). Soon enough the two are hanging out all the time.

There are more aspects about this movie that I didn’t like than ones I did like. I normally adore Rudd because of his sarcasm and his facial expressions that convey more than words ever could. Normally, he can play handsomely awkward without blinking, but in I Love You, Man Rudd just portrays awkward. The kind of awkward that exasperates your friends. The scenes can be painful to watch while he bumbles through social exchanges, spouting out nonsense in his attempt to be liked. Even Zooey finds Peter's antics annoying, pleading with him to stop.

Segel is okay, but he's nothing to elaborate on and Jones is adorable in her patience and understanding. The other character that stood out was Sarah Burns, who plays the single bridesmaid Hailey. Burns is a relative newcomer with I Love You, Man being her first big role. While she does a good job with the character, she falls short. Hailey seems as if she was written for a specific actress in mind: Kristen Wiig. Wiig would have nailed the performance with her under-the-breath comments and neediness. Burns, while funny, just seems a bit like a pale imitation of the Saturday Night Live scene-stealer.

In fact, the funniest part of the movie was probably the interactions with Jaime Pressly and Jon Favreau, who play a couple that bickers and exchanges sexual favors for an everyday favor. The two had just enough screen time because any more and they would have also lost their charm.

The movie is fun but overrated. To see Rudd and Segel at their best, rent or buy their previous movies, because I Love You, Man just isn't as good as it should be with the talent on screen.

Monday, March 23, 2009

A DVD for diehard fans

On March 24 a Watchmen DVD was released. Those who are fans of the comic know that a large part was missing from the movie: that comic book the guy was reading. Well, don't fear, a special DVD was made with the Tales of the Black Freighter. The tale is interesting and I love the ending of it, but I was glad it wasn't included in the movie. It would have made a long movie even longer and it would break up the action too much. I applaud whoever thought to make this into a separate DVD.

Plus, the DVD also has Under the Hood. I thought this was an important part of the comic book, because it gave us a lot of insight into who the Watchmen were when they first formed. Under the Hood was a tell-all autobiography written by Hollis Mason, the first Nite Owl.