Les Misérables 5-Point Review

28 12 2012

1. Les Misérables, for the unfamiliar, is not a comedy. This is a film based on a musical play based on a novel by Victor Hugo, and there’s already been an excellent adaption on film that I’m fond of, mainly because it features Captain Barbossa and that guy who punches wolves, Liam Neeson. While that film featured virtually no singing, this one features virtually no spoken lines, and has the feel of a movie that desperately wants an Oscar. 

 

Les Miserables Poster

Gee, I hope there’s no singing.

2. One thing you should know about the singing parts is that they were all recorded live on the set, which is virtually unheard of in cinema. The goal was to get a purer, raw experience, much like you would on Broadway. Overall, I would argue that this delivery made it ten times more memorable, but not all memories are good, are they? Some notes seemed a bit off, and I know Russell Crowe has gotten some flack over his delivery, but I also thought Jackman fell flat a few times, and usually post-shooting dubbing would have fixed that. That said, Anne Hathaway’s stirring, vulnerable performance of “I dreamed a dream” may have caused little tears to well in my eyes. Either that or a bit of popcorn salt was lodged in my eyeball.

 

Hugh Jackman and Anne Hathaway

Catwoman and Wolverine together at last.

 

3. Some may criticize the film as being bombastic and overly dramatic, but I would question if they’re familiar with the source material. That’s like calling a movie based on Justin Bieber too girly and shallow; it’s the whole point, the genre, if you will. Some parts definitely benefited from being in a musical, but maybe a few spoken lines could have added weight to other moments.

 

Russel Crowe Javert

Singing about riding his horse.

4. If I had to pick my favorite singers, it’d be Anne Hathaway and Samantha Barks, who reportedly beat out Taylor Swift for the role of Eponine (thank goodness). She had also already played the role onstage at the Queen’s Theater. (SPOILER ALERT) I only wish Hathaway had stuck around a bit longer, no matter what the book said.

 

Samantha Barker

Pictured: Not Taylor Swift

5. I said this wasn’t supposed to be a comedy, but that’s not saying it lacks humor. By my count, about 95% of the comedy comes from Sacha Baron Cohen and Helena Bonham Carter as Thénardier and Madame Thénardier. I usually shudder when I see Sacha Cohen in anything, so this was a first for me, but I’m always a fan of Carter since she’s basically a female Johnny Depp. They both owned their roles well enough for me to laugh and forget about whatever character had just tragically died (after a while, it was hard to keep count).

 

Carter and Cohen

The Odd Couple

Final Thought: This well-done adaptation is probably in the love-it-or-hate-it category, but I think it’s a safe guess that it will be taking a money bath before the end.

Les Miserables Grumpy  Cat Meme

As if nobody saw this coming.





Why The Star Wars Holiday Special Represents All That Is Wrong

25 12 2012

Yes, The Star Wars Holiday Special is a real movie, and I know it sounds cheesy, but trust me it’s like getting thrown into a wood chipper in super-slow motion. It’s so bad George Lucas said if he had enough time, he would destroy every physical VHS (yes) with a hammer. It’s so bad that there’s not a single legal copy of it. It’s so bad that it played once on TV, and never again. It’s so bad Carrie Fisher says she turns it on at her parties when it’s time for people to leave. Why? Well, let me show you.

1. Commercialism

So, the real kicker of this little-known gem is that the poster for it doesn’t really look that bad (unless you read the plot description in the top right).

Star Wars Christmas Poster

IT’S A TRAP.

It’s complete commercialism. It’s a “holiday” special. About “Life Day.” “Starring” actors who probably have a combined total of fifteen minutes in the movie, and it’s pretty much a full-length movie. Not to mention the only action scene was literally footage ripped from A New Hope. The rest? Why, it’s a bunch of 15 minute segments, like a variety show from the 70’s, if a variety show means acid party. There is no plot, and the songs/segments/sketches are completely nonsensical and slowly get more horrible as they draw out, resembling the feel of getting food poisoned.

2. Humanity’s low point.

And then the movie starts. We watch a little snot of a Wookie argue for fifteen real-time minutes about chores, I think. It’s hard to tell because the whole freaking scene is in Wookie roars, WITH NO SUBTITLES. Chewie’s not even in the scene. By the time Grandpa Wookie (I think his name was Itchy, no joke) straps on his virtual goggles for a pleasure movie, I knew exactly what those saps in The Ring  felt like when the ghost kid crawls out of the TV.

Holiday Wookies

Horror.

3. The Death of Art

Take a look at this still from the movie’s cartoon segment. Take a long, hard look at it.

Star Wars Christmas Cartoon

What have they DONE to Han Solo?!

Now imagine seeing thousands of these images pieced together into a bizarre, reality-questioning drug trip of a cartoon.

Star Wars Scary Luke

Here’s another pic. You’re welcome.

Why does Han Solo look like Mick Jagger? Why do Luke Skywalker’s eyes violate your soul whenever they’re open? Why does Boba Fett ride a dinosaur (okay that’s actually kind of cool). I could add more examples of the complete artless core of this movie, but the cartoon segment does it all for me in just two shots.

4. Regret and Repressed Memories

Of course, this whole movie IS a repressed memory of regret, but it’s also made of smaller repressed memories and regret, like how a living thing is made of smaller living things called cells. Each “skit” or “segment” of this patchwork of horrors is its own self-contained hell. Whether it’s a painfully unfunny comedy routine featuring a malfunctioning android, or this racist, cross-dressing abomination, if you’re not weeping on the floor as the end credits roll, you’ve already become a soulless husk.

Star Wars Holiday Special Freak

Yes, the creeper man is drinking out of a hole on his head. Moving on.

5. Logic Destroyed

Logic was destroyed the exact moment a TV exec read through the script, saw the designs, and said, “Yeah, this looks good. Let’s put it on our channel!” Logic died the first time anyone ever decided to mix a 70’s variety show with Star Wars. Innocence crumbled the moment we first heard the haunting phrase “Stir, Whip! Stir Whip!”

Stir Whip

Pictured: Not a good idea.

6.  Life is Meaningless

This isn’t expressed in the movie directly, it more describes the general feeling each person finds themselves with as the movie ends. That’s why you should never, I repeat, never, watch this monstrosity alone. Always see it with friends, and then never again.

Star Wars Holiday wookie kid

Haha oh yes! Fear will FIND you!

Now go hug your loved ones, because it’s Christmas.

Edit: Forgot the best part! Check out the climatic scene where Carrie Fisher totally sings the Star Wars song. And then they travel to the…sun? Anyway, all the Wookies march right in with their red robes.





Shadow Box- Person of Interest Review (Episode 10)

18 12 2012

CBS Person of Interest Banner

 

If there’s one thing Person of Interest fans know, it’s that this show has some of the best finales, even mid-season ones. “Shadow Box” continues the tradition of non-stop action, humor, mounting tension, and twists and turns that lead to a surprise of a cliffhanger. The only downside is these stellar endings make the seasonal breaks feel that much longer. This week’s case followed a woman and an ex-marine taking on a corrupt businessman who likes to rip off U.S. veterans, which is enough to cause Reese to go rogue and put himself in harm’s way. Since we need a cliffhanger, Special Agent Donnelly (Brennan Brown) finally bags John…sort of. He actually catches four Men in Suits, and it’s clear that they’re all going to jail, but it’s not clear if he’ll be able to find out which one is the real deal (especially not with Carter at his side).

Besides the ending, it’s also clear big changes are coming to the show (again). Donnelly offers Carter a position in the FBI, which is equivalent to shooting himself in the foot (will he ever find out Carter’s interference?). Also, HR gains a new wrinkle as they seek to build a relationship with the Russian mob, which could possibly ignite a war between them and Elias. And Elias is the most promising character in the mix, as rumors say he may be in the same prison as Reese, and who knows if an alliance could be in the future? That could be one awesome episode. Needless to say, I’m thinking this finale may have some long-lasting effects.

 

Person of Interest Carter

If Donnelly only knew how bad an idea this promotion was.

Random Thoughts:

1. It was surprising to find out Detective Beecher (Carter’s new flame)  is the godson of the big, bad HR boss, but he could still be clean. Also, what is Fusco up to? And for that matter, why is dirty cop Simmons checking up on his own boss?

2. Bear gets a bath. Finch’s attachment is complete.

3. The two funniest moments to me were Finch describing his motorcycle experience as “exhilarating” and Reese using yet another crooked cop/marshal’s badge to get what he wants. Of course, seeing Donnelly’s baffled disappointment at the four Reeses was a gem too.

4. Person of Interest knows how to end an episode, don’t they? Their choice of songs always lend a cinematic feel, and this week’s “Gimme Shelter” by the Rolling Stones was no exception. Way to set the mood!

5. January 3 seems very far away indeed. To be honest though, I thought we’d have a longer wait than that.

Conclusion: 9.4/10





The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey 5-Point Review

14 12 2012

The_Hobbit_An_Unexpected_Journey

 

1. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey masterfully takes the audience on another journey through Middle-Earth. At times it seems more like an homage to the first trilogy (Frodo and old Bilbo’s welcome but nonessential pre-party scene), but most nostalgiac moments come from the spectacularly recreated sets (the Shire and Rivendell especially) and the triumphant return of composer Howard Shore to the franchise. Gollum’s part in particular is spectacular.

 

Gollum Riddles in the dark

(Applause)

 

2. The rumors are true; this is a lighter movie than the others, but that’s by design. Tolkien designed the book to be more of a children’s book (how we’ve regressed, am I right?), so there’s the dwarves’ quest to reclaim their homeland, but nothing as gloomy as widespread death, the probable end of the world and an inflamed eye.

 

The Hobbit Dwarves

They each deliver at least one belch/fart joke.

 

3. My one gripe with the movie concerns the much heavier (or at least much more obvious) use of CGI in this film. Now, Peter Jackson didn’t go all George Lucas on us (see my above praise of physical sets), but good grief it seemed like all the goblins and orcs were CGI. I know some stuff the makeup department can’t do (Wargs, dragons), but I kinda missed the physical menace from real actors in real armor who still looked scary and real. The Pale Orc was good CGI I guess, but The Goblin King stuck out as the most Lucas-inspired character. He didn’t sound like an orc, he looked completely implausible, and he even gave a witty one-liner…after being slain violently. C’mon. No anger, just a joke. Thank goodness this sore thumb is out of the picture.

 

Dex and Goblin King

Plagiarism. Shame on you, Peter Jackson. 

 

4. Considering they split a single (shorter) book into three movies, I was a little concerned about the plot being spread too thin, like butter over too much bread (zing!). However, I have to admit, after we finally left the Shire, things went pretty smoothly, and the extra material inserted from The Silmarillion added more weight to what was happening. The movie’s plot structure even reminded me of The Fellowship of the Ring. (SPOILERS) We start in the Shire with a hobbit and Gandalf, then leave for an ominous destination with a group of races, pursued by hostile force, then stop by for counsel with the Elves, then run from goblins under a mountain, and finally confront the hostile force in battle.(SPOILERS END) It was still wildly different, but how’s that for similarities?

 

Gandalf Meme

 

5. Finally, this movie’s “fellowship” wasn’t quite the standout crowd of Fellowship of the Ring, mainly because it’s harder for the uninitiated to differentiate Dwarf One from Dwarf Twelve than only having one elf, one dwarf, one wizard, two humans, etc. Most of the dwarves were also massively under-developed, with the skimpiest of speaking parts, but we’ve got two more movies to work on that. In the end, this is a movie that more than deserves to stand with the original trilogy, and it’s good fun.

 

Quick! Name each one!

Quick! Name each one!

One More Thought: Please, no more 48 fps for fantasy movies. I have heard nobody, and I repeat nobody, who says the technology didn’t pull them out of the movie. If we’re going to go home video/soap opera style, let’s not use the clearness to make everything look so darn fake. Rant finished.





C.O.D.- Person of Interest Review (Episode 9)

7 12 2012

CBS Person of Interest Banner

 

Let’s get this out of the way first; “C.O.D.” here means “collect on delivery,” not “Call of Duty.”  This time Reese and Finch play guardian angel to a taxi driver who ferries the wrong passenger around, and ends up becoming a target to one of New York City’s many mobs. I suppose it was only a matter of time before a taxi driver popped up; this is New York, and to make it even more New York-ish he’s even an ex-professional baseball player.

Fusco’s (Kevin Chapman) shoulder devil Officer Simmons (Robert John Burke)  returns with more forced dirty work. Apparently HR wants to mend bridges with Elias, but instead are set up by Elias to send a message. One dead HR man later, and Fusco now finds himself on Simmons’ bad list. All in all, this was a return to form for the show- HR, mobs, Elias- all familiar (but welcome) territory. From the looks of the preview (FBI closes in on Reese) and the ending (Fusco’s past catching up with him), it looks like it’s going to be one heck of a finale next Thursday. This show has a reputation to keep, after all.

 

Fusco and Simmons

Bonding time.

Random thoughts

1. Bear proves to be as adaptable as Reese- playing fetch one minute, tearing apart criminals the next. Talk about a perfect fit.

2. Just thinking out loud here, but why in the world has Fusco not reached out to Detective Carter or Reese for help with his supposed murder of an HR operative? He’s got a friend in the force and an assassin up his sleeve, and he’s afraid of what, them not believing him? Reese was even there, shooting the HR guy! Also wonder if Finch could just hack in and delete the camera footage? Maybe I’m missing some motivation.

3. I keep wondering when/if Elias will make his move. Even though he can still pull strings from prison, it feels like maybe an escape or another grand scheme could be in the future, but this is a man who likes to take his time.

4. If last week was a romantic comedy, this week was firmly (thankfully) back into a crime/conspiracy drama. However, still not sure what will happen with Carter’s and Fusco’s new romantic interests. A popular theory is that Fusco’s lady friend may be more than she seems, with less-than-friendly intentions.

5. If next week’s finale is anywhere close to the season 2 finale, it’s going to be epic, and that’s why it hurts to know I’ll be at The Hobbit premiere instead. Terrible timing.

Conclusion: 8.1/10