Rogue One: A Star Wars Story Review

24 12 2016

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Five years ago, you could have never told me a Disney standalone Star Wars spinoff movie would be a good thing. That sentence alone would have conjured up images of the wonderfully nightmarish Star Wars Holiday Special. Plot twist: Rogue One delivers a story worthy of the Star Wars universe, and one that can stand right up there with the original trilogy (I’m giving a stink eye to you, prequels). By the way, if you’re new here- the chances of spoilers ahead are high, very high.

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The Rebels standing in a base, probably built on hope.

While some of the official posters for this movie look like a Celebrate Rebel Diversity Day promo flyer, each one ended up helping make Rogue One memorable (except maybe Forest Whitaker- didn’t really get his character). Felicity Jones as Jyn Erso fantastically anchored the movie with the right amount of grit and heart, and it’s difficult to imagine any other actress filling her role. However, the highlight for me was the darkly sarcastic K-2SO, due to Alan Tudyk’s  timed delivery. Donnie Yen was essentially a blind samurai, which yes, we’ve all seen before, but hey we haven’t seen it in Star Wars! His bro time with Wen Jiang‘s Baze Malbus was great to watch (even their bro deaths), which brings me to the biggest downer. Rogue One‘s all like, “Here’s your new favorite characters! Now they’re all dead. Haha!” This wasn’t really a plot twist (otherwise where were these people later?), but at the same time I’m surprised nobody at all made it out to, I dunno, some far planet to help the Rebellion from there. In the end, it was the right decision.

It was great to get back into the world of the original trilogy- the Rebellion vs. the Empire. We got Mon Motha and Bail Organa, Admiral Ackbar’s extended family, classic Rebel ships, X and Y-Wings, and plenty of screaming Rebel deaths, just like old times. In the absence of any Jedi, the Empire is indeed more formidable, and it was fun to see the plucky Rebels ever-so-barely come out with a (costly) victory. Also, the Death Star eclipsing a sun and nuking a city was terrifyingly epic.

 

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Pew-Pew-Pew-Yaaaay!

 

Ben Mendelsohn as Orson Krennic was memorable, but his character seemed to consistently fail throughout the movie, and didn’t seem that menacing anymore by the end. He didn’t spot Galen’s treachery, he lost the plans, lost the base, even lost the reward for his part in the Death Star creation, and got fried by the Death Star (should this movie just be called “Krennic’s Really Bad Day“?). He also had the cards stacked against him whenever he appeared in scenes next to more iconic Imperial villains such as Vader and Tarkin.

Speaking of Tarkin (how about that segue?), his CGI resurrection has brought mixed feelings among  fans. I for one had no idea he would appear (since Peter Cushing has passed on), so his reveal in the movie was initially a shock, but a happy shock. Grand Moff Tarkin is a notorious villain and is inherently tied to everyone’s memory of the first Death Star. But it was also wildly distracting for me, as the CGI technology (although impressive) took all my focus. Is it, as some people state, disrespectful to bring back an actor from the grave? It wasn’t a perfect replica, but it was far, far better than other posthumous creations I’ve seen, and seemed to be in line with Cushing’s original portrayal. A hologram might have done just as much justice (and in a meta sense felt like a ghost), or they could have gone full prosthetic on a similar actor, but would that have been any more respectful by giving his role to someone else, or would the recast even have been less distracting? I’m not sure.  That said, by all accounts Peter Cushing would have loved to have been in more Star Wars movies (ironically unlike Sir Alec Guiness), so all things considered, we didn’t really answer this question at all.

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My favorite character, and the main character.

 

Now let’s talk some Darth Vader!  Basically, he was fantastic, and brutal. As in, “I probably shouldn’t be cheering for Vader as he murders the faces off all these heroes, but isn’t this awesome?!” With just two appearances in the movie, they redefined Vader. His massacre moment aside, this is someone who gets cut up and burned on a volcano planet and years later builds a freakin’ castle on it, because he can. Joking aside, I liked the trip back to Mustafar because it gave a glimpse into Vader’s psyche. He either views Mustafar as his true birth place, or he prefers to feed off the anger and emotions it gives him, or both. His character has always kicked butt, but this movie provided a wonderful reminder why he’s the most feared in the galaxy. Gone are our memories of Anakin not liking sand, because “it’s coarse and rough, and gets everywhere.” That said, Vader DIDN’T get out and fight on the Scariff beaches…

My list of drawbacks for the film is quite short. Some of the easter eggs were a little too on the nose, mainly the Ugly Face Duo from the Tatooine cantina, who just happened to be on a different planet across the galaxy at the right time. Also, to put on my nerd glasses, but Darth Vader originally mentions plans being beamed onto Leia’s ship, vs. handed over in the world’s scariest relay game of Pass The Plans Along Before Vader Chokes You To Death (still working on that name). Oh, and CGI Leia was FAR worse-looking than CGI Tarkin. Besides those few things, there were a few cringe-worthy lines that were in the trailer (Jyn’s “I rebel” line) but were removed from the movie, so kudos to you, Disney.

 

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When you barge into the boss’s sauna.

In the end, Rogue One does a better job at setting up the original trilogy than Revenge of the Sith did, and I immediately felt a strong urge to watch A New Hope (I still haven’t, but it was a nice feeling). Disney/Lucasfilm effectively kept this separate from the numbered episodes (no opening crawl, no John Williams, texts over locations), and it paid off by feeling fresh. The creators of this film did a great job of using familiar toys in the Star Wars playground in new ways, giving us a slightly darker, more unique take on their universe- one filled with hope, sorrow, and star dust.





Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them- Review

27 11 2016

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Fantastic Spinoffs and How To Cash Them is J.K. Rowling’s latest addition to her magical world. It’s also Part 1 of a new movie series, the first Harry Potter-less work, AND her first screenplay, so you could say there’s a lot riding on this. Spoiler alert: it’s doing fine financially, and delivers an enjoyable ride, but neither categories quite rise to the original series’ heights.

Granted, I’m one of those people who grew up with Harry, Ron, and Hermione, so you can say “bah!” to this review if you’re a young whippersnapper. It is fun to see the wizarding world outside the point of view of a student and his friends, and Newt and company are an interesting team, but time (and future installments) will have to show if Rowling has the same level of character arcs and story building that the original saga is known for.

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Ron and Hermione, wondering how Harry let himself go.

First the good- I liked all the new characters, particularly Jacob, the no-maj (muggle, he’s a muggle, darn it!). While not normally the biggest fan of Eddie Redmayne, he brought the right mix of awkwardness and likability to Newt, although he could maybe consider buying a better suitcase. Tina and Queenie completed the cast out well enough, but I would have liked a bit more of Tina’s backstory, and a reason why someone like Queenie is so automatically smitten with someone like Jacob. Is it because he’s a muggle, or clueless, or has really sweet thoughts?

The creatures themselves were mostly fantastic, but some were a little too cartoonish for me. Granted, some of the earlier Harry Potter films probably haven’t aged well with their CGI characters/effects. The platypus-like Niffler is unsurprisingly my favorite creature. He may have ruined countless lives during the movie by stealing valuable and savings, but gosh if he isn’t a cute lil’ bugger! There were plenty of creatures, and I can’t wait to buy the bread versions of them sometime in Harry Potter World.

I’m not sure very many people were particularly surprised by the villain “twist” “reveal.” I mean, when you start the film with a long shot of the back of the villain’s head, and then a main character shows up with the exact same distinct haircut style (but a different color), he probably isn’t the hero. Also, Grindelwald may be the future big bad of this new series, but it’s going to be difficult to separate him from the heavily recognizable actor who plays him.

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Colin Farrell is magically confused and definitely not bad.

My only other criticism of the film was that the ending fell a little flat, thanks to some convenient plot devices. Everyone just saw half the city destroyed, but luckily we just realized that one thing (that we didn’t know the use of earlier) only works with this specific magical beast for exactly this type of situation. And all these buildings fell over, but luckily they can be quickly fixed with easy-looking spells (why are there even construction workers in this world?). And…I guess nobody died during all the flying cars and collapsing walls? Sure. Hopefully these forgetful spells work better than Jacob’s, is all I’m saying. Also, when did we have to stop yelling out spells to cast them?

At the bottom of all this, I think I just missed the old characters we knew, and Hogwarts with its colorful professors. Of course, it’s only been one movie so far, and the greatness of some characters only comes to light after several installments (looking at you, Snape), but rumor is this series of tales will jump ahead quite a bit chronologically, and Newt may not even be the main character  throughout. Instead of a focused story about a group of specific characters, we might get more of a scattered (but entertaining) history lesson about the world of magic, leading up to the time of Harry Potter. Time will tell if that’s enough for lightning to strike twice.

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Look, the Plot Device Beast!





Batman V. Superman – Movie Review

29 03 2016
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The Darker Knight vs. The Almost As Dark Superman

Batman V Superman tells the story of what happens when people have too much control, too much power, and how they can selfishly harm others with their toxic viewpoints. Of course I’m talking about director Zach Snyder, but I suppose that could also apply to his broody version of super people.
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Let me start by saying as a fan, I was disappointed by the critics’ reviews before the movie released, and went in with lowered expectations, but still holding on to some optimism. Hey, remember when I actually enjoyed Man of Steel? Maybe they were just comparing the tone to Marvel. DC is darker. The Dark Knight was dark, but a near-perfect movie. Maybe the trailers hadn’t really spoiled everything (what an innocent child I was!). Maybe Zach Snyder actually would be less…Zach Snyder-ly. If anything, at least this would be a fun ride. I mean, the start of the Justice League can’t be a drag, can it?
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And then Bruce Wayne started floating out of that freakin’ cave and my optimism got a kick in the crotch.
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If you’re a fan of anything Zach Snyder touches, feel free to ignore this review and roll around in bliss. Heck, I didn’t hate everything about this movie, but there’s a lot of stuff that made me sigh, check my watch, and wonder how many exec’s family members Snyder had to hold hostage to get some of this mess onscreen. Don’t worry, I’ll anger word vomit at the end of the review- first up, the things that worked.
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For example, these guys. These guys worked.

The soundtrack was OK overall, with some bright spots (particularly the opening). However, at times you could almost sense Hans Zimmer going on autopilot, sighing to himself, and remembering the good old days when he worked for coherent movies.
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Ben Affleck as Batman was one of the highlights. Ben, I’m sorry I doubted your capacity and made cheap Daredevil movie jokes. You’re buff, brooding, and communicated a world of your character’s tortured backstory that explained your bleak outlook, though it’s still weird to see Batman killing whoever he dang feels like killing.Jeremy Irons as Alfred was great as well, offering most of the little humor found in the movie. He won’t be dethroning my personal favorite, Michael Caine, anytime soon, but he casually stole every scene he appeared in for me.
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Yes this was cool. Yes it was already spoiled in the trailers.

One of the biggest surprises I had during the viewing (and there weren’t many, thanks to the trailers) was Gail Gadot’s Wonder Woman. The script actually handled her well, and she sold me on the role (again, sorry for questioning your selection beforehand). She didn’t have a whole lot of screen time, but commanded attention when she did appear, and now I’m excited for her upcoming standalone movie.
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Henry Cavill as Superman was, uh, there. I’m not sure which was worse- the lines they gave him, the direction he was given, or the boring acting he brought.
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Jesse Eisenberg‘s Lex Luthor gave me sadness cancer. If you’re familiar with the real character from the comics, imagine if they had cast Seth Rogen (with ridiculous hair) as Kingpin in the Daredevil series, and you’ll arrive at roughly the same amount of frustrated confusion. I noticed that they threw in something about his dad being Lex Luthor, or maybe that was just backstory since he was also Lex Luthor, or good gosh why did he get so much screen time. All that time, and he still didn’t have a real reason for hating Superman, besides vague childhood issues and anger at God or Superman or he thought he was God or that there was no god and mostly his motivation was stupid. Eisenberg had the miscast and annoying super combo.
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Lex Luthor, wondering who stole his cocaine, probably.

Ultimately, there’s a lot wrong about this movie (Angry Spoilers follow). Why did we need so much boring and inconsequential side plot with Lois Lane? Why did we have to see her get rescued by Superman 3 times in one movie?  Why did they blame Superman for people killed by guns in the desert? What the crap was the deal with those stupid bullets? Why did Jimmy Olsen and Mercy Graves get included, only to be quickly killed off? How come Superman was so ridiculously oblivious with the bomb, despite the senator stammering for what seemed like 3 years? How does Lex know about the other meta-humans, and why did he feel the need to create little logos for each one on his secret folder? Why does the Cyborg segment feel like a Youtube fan video? How did the “Martha” story twist not get everyone in screenwriting fired? Would you stop pummeling what you think is humanity’s greatest threat, just because your mothers share the same name? Why doesn’t every criminal in Gotham say their mother’s name is Martha?  Why did they spoil 90% of the movie in the trailers? Why did they put a lifetime of dreams in the movie, and why are all of them tripping on acid? Is this Batman’s new super power?  Why does Doomsday’s CGI look like shiny poop? Why not hand the Kryptonite spear to Wonder Woman? (Angry Spoilers End)
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The only thing the trailer didn’t spoil about Doomsday was how bad his CGI would be.

Surprisingly after all that, this film did pique my interest in more installments in DC’s universe, just not any soiled by Zach Snyder’s style over substance model. I want to see a standalone Batman film, and a Wonder Woman feature as well. Maybe we could even have some fun along the way. These are people in tights with super powers after all.
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To sum up, the real tragedy of this movie is it had so much potential with the cast and premise, but ultimately got smothered by a deadly serious, meandering, boring film that thought it was way more profound than it actually was. Motivations didn’t make sense, and the more interesting elements/relationships were left out to dry. And geez, Superman, you can fly and shoot lasers out of your eyes. Stop being such a brooding bore.




“Hail, Caesar”- Movie Review

29 02 2016

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Hail, Caesar! is a movie that you’ll wish you enjoyed more, a well-done, fun, but forgettable movie. The marketing and trailers did the film no favors either, painting the film with the same colors as Oh Brother, Where Art Thou? (which I love). This is not, however, a spiritual successor to that movie. What Hail, Caesar! instead gives is a collection of short segments (almost like skits) loosely connected by a story thread, and the headliner George Clooney barely appears at all. None of these by themselves are particularly negatives, but when marketing has conditioned the audience for a different product, they may not care for the actual result.

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Clooney, searching for his lost screen time.

The film itself is both a parody and an homage to older Hollywood- each fake movie showcased during the film has a real life counterpart. Hail, Caesar! nails the classic dance numbers, Ben-hur inspired epic, and even the mermaid pool sequence in ways not everyone will catch, if they aren’t familiar with the original works. Obviously, this is a problem if you fall into that category, since such a chunk of the film is dedicated to these segments. And that’s the rub-this is a movie with huge critical applause yet tepid audience ratings.
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Channing Tatum, happy to be a sailor.

We do get signature Coen characters, who are always quirky yet entirely plausible people. That is, they may not even stick out that much in our real, crazy world, but under the film’s focus they border on the absurd. Unfortunately, some of these highlights feel more like cameos instead of actual roles. Oh Brother, Where Art Thou? had roughly the same size ensemble cast, but integrated them with the story more successfully (in my humble opinion). In Hail, Caesar!, two scenes seemed to be the average number that side characters appear in- Scarlett Johansen and Ralph Fiennes for example are confined to that number of scenes and then disappear completely. As a result, they fail to really leave a mark, which is especially unfortunate with Fiennes’ wonderfully ridiculous performance as Lawrence.

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‘Twere that it were.

This may seem like a lot of criticism- I actually did like this movie, but I would have loved for it to be better. Perhaps the Coens are a victim of their own success- always being compared to the greater works. At the end of the day, if you enjoy their other films, you should see this one. Great production values, standout (though underused) performances, and a salute to classic Hollywood all make this worth watching- you just might not feel the need to watch again. Unless you like dancing sailors.

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Did I mention Tilda Swinton was fantastic? No matter how many readers her sister has.

 





Star Wars- The Force Awakens Review

9 01 2016

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It’s now been long time ago in a theater not that far away that I watched the new trilogy in the Star Wars saga begin, but that doesn’t mean I can’t write a review a month later, does it? Thanks to the power of procrastination, this late review is later than I ever thought it would be, but at least no good movie ever gets released in January (looking at you, Dirty Grandpa, The 5th Wave, etc). Also, this seems relevant, because not only did this movie break almost every box office record in the books, but it has achieved enough popularity for hipsters to now dislike it.  Depending which one you ask, it’s either a blatant theft of Episode IV’s plot, or it’s a complete departure from the series that makes no sense.

Like many fans, I was nervous- what if this was the ghost of the prequels rising again to destroy the original characters that everyone loved? What if they killed off a beloved character? Wouldn’t that be a debbie downer?!  But hey, mission accomplished- this film didn’t suck. In fact, in this fanboy’s opinion, The Force Awakens is miles ahead of the cheesy, CGI filled sequels.

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Why? Well for one, the new set of actors/actresses were great (Daisy Ridley as Rey steals the spotlight), and they weren’t instructed to speak in the wooden manner of the prequels. Harrison Ford, stealing every scene? Check. Daisy Ridley and John Boyega bringing us two likable new leads? Check. Adam Driver being a combination of psychotic Sith trainee and hair product model? Check. Carrie Fisher with a voice like she smoked too many death sticks? Uh, check.

The writing was also light years ahead of our past three movies, with the majority of the jokes actually being funny (why was that so hard, prequels?!), although maybe was a little too heavy with joke volume at times. It’s nice to have jokes based on timing and humor instead of Jar Jar dropping the ENTIRE tray of tools (hysterical, right?) or Anakin saying a one-liner so bad your brain melts out your ears. Some of the best moments weren’t even spoken, such as stormtroopers walking the other way from Kylo’s tantrum or Han’s childlike joy using Chewie’s crossbow.

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After the first viewing, my thoughts on the music was that it didn’t fall flat, but I didn’t pick up on any new themes. Since I love John Williams and the memorable music he always brings, this was somewhat disappointing. However, after my second viewing, I couldn’t understand how I missed them all the first time- Rey’s theme, The Resistance’s march, etc., are all welcome additions to this saga’s musical legacy. Hopefully we’ll get some Imperial March or Duel of the Fates successor in the next entry.

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On that note, basically every part of the movie got better the second time I watched this film. I picked up more details, twists and changes from what seemed at first to be a bit of a rehash of certain storylines. I could set aside years of expectations of what a Star Wars sequel should include, and just enjoy the second viewing. I honestly didn’t realize how much I missed this universe until I was in the middle of experiencing it again. And yes, it was somehow even more sad to see (SPOILER) my favorite character, Han Solo, die, and his lil’ Wookie friend deal with sudden loss. (END SPOILER)

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Time will tell where this is all going (hopefully someone has this all planned out). Hopefully we’ll have more Mark Hammill in Episode 8. He looked good in this film during his intense staring scene, but I guess we know why Luke wasn’t very prominent in the marketing now, huh? One of my only real disappointments with the movie was how we never (nor ever will) got to see Luke and Han Solo meet again. It just seems like a missed opportunity for a film that seemed to be all about fan service. However, I can say besides that point, this was a genuinely fun ride back into the legend of Star Wars.

Final thoughts:

  • Why do they keep building giant explodable weapons? Why not put eggs in other baskets, too?
  • I like how Kylo Ren story continues the Skywalker saga, but where does the supreme leader fall into this?
  • What if Supreme Leader Snoke was just four feet tall in his real form?
  • Captain Phasma- aka Chrome Trooper- was way underused for the amount of marketing that went into her character. You can’t just look Boba Fett cool, you have to BE Boba Fett cool (fight a little).

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Spectre- Review

16 11 2015

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Let me start by saying that I have not seen every “classic” Bond movie, and this is a movie that is clearly a love letter to 007 fans who have enjoyed the classics. I have watched the other Daniel Craig films, and absolutely loved Skyfall for its exceptionally good villain, twisting storyline, and legitimate loss at the end (I heart Judi Dench). Spectre is an exceptional classic James Bond film, but it is an oddball Daniel Craig James Bond film. The movie is filled with classic references, including a well-crafted, intense train fight that calls back to From Russia with Love, and the return of perhaps James Bond’s greatest nemesis. Not only is his visual style a blend of previous film incarnations (Blofeld’s been in at least six other movies), but he’s also given a more personal wrinkle with Bond’s past. Does his character work? Mostly, yes, but compared to jkljl; in Skyfall, he doesn’t come across as threatening even if he is “the architect of all Bond’s pain.” Maybe if he had been mentioned/teased more in the previous films, he would have earned the “final boss” status more. However, the friend I watched this with had no idea who Blofeld was, so there was real payoff, and unfortunately that works against the movie for people who only know Bond from the last decade of movies. Also, his actual world domination goals are sort of unclear due to the focus on his relationship with Bond.

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Maybe he’s just here to steal the girl.

More than that, what rubbed me the wrong way was how mostly predictable the plot was. I mean, duh, Bond’s gonna save the day, but the actual story beats were following older Bond films that sometimes seem a world apart from Daniel Craig’s reboot series. We had the tough right-hand man of the villain (hi, Dave Bautista!) fight Bond in a duel, we had the random Bond girl encounters, a car filled with gadgets, and even the supervillain giving a monologue while Bond is caught in a deathtrap, allowing him to escape. James Bond gets drilled in the head, then without any side effects (I’d get a refund on that drill set, Blofeld) and then runs through the base like a video game, blowing up an entire structure with one shot. This would have been gold for a Pierce Brosnan or Sean Connery, but it took me out of the movie seeing Daniel Craig do this. Also, compared to Craig’s other films (particularly Casino Royale and Skyfall), we don’t get a lot of actual emotional moments, with no big character losses or just an honest glimpse of the stifled emotional side of Bond.

How do they carry all these outfits to each country?

How do they carry all these outfits to each country?

Now with all that Negative Nancy stuff out of the way, let’s go over what was great about this movie. The cinematography is spectacular as usual, with the long opening shot in Mexico City’s Dia De Los Muertos festival one of many highlights. And geez, the train fight and Rome segments were pretty. Everything is tightly shot, paced, and acted. The effects look great, whether it’s Bond escaping a collapsing building or a pyro-pleasing fireball of an exploding secret base.

Good thing Bond didn't use Q's watch alarm to wake up.

Good thing Bond didn’t use Q’s watch alarm to wake up.

Sherlock’s Moriarty actor was a welcome surprise (yes I’m sure the actor has a name, but he’s Moriarty to me), but he seemed a tad underused, maybe just because we’ve all seen him do so much more when given the chance. Ben Whishaw as “Q” is a highlight again with all his bantering and dry humor with Bond, and the new “M” and Moneypenny are do their job but won’t stick out in my memory. Daniel Craig does his job, but my take on him might have been tainted a little by his very public boredom with the role. Yeah, poor Daniel Craig and his hard life. Earning millions of bucks as a movie star playing in film’s longest running franchise. Maybe the suits are too tight. I guess that could get old.

"This job sucks!" - Daniel Craig

“This job sucks!” – Daniel Craig

While I didn’t enjoy this as much as the last film, please don’t think I hate this movie. The last twenty or so minutes made up a lot of ground with the final showdown in a location that evoked so much nostalgia for Craig’s other movies. Not to mention even a bit of closure for Bond- is this actually Daniel Craig’s last film? I don’t know why but I thought he had one more in the contract. Anyway, this won’t be a Bond film for my collection, but it’s at least one good experience in the theater. It looks great, sounds great, but lacks the freshness and heart of his other films. I guess you could say Spectre left me slightly shaken, but not stirred.





The Martian- Review

14 10 2015
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Dr. Mann’s Return!

First things first- to enjoy The Martian, you have to separate it from Interstellar. Forget about the shared cast members and space cinematography. We aren’t supposed to despise Matt Damon here, and he’s not out for revenge on Matthew McConaughey’s daughter. However, it is another sci-fi storytelling and visual treat with an almost-too-large cast.

Matt Damon carries the movie, which is good because he’s the bulk of it. It’s easy to cheer him on through his optimism, ingenuity, and sarcastic humor in the face of overwhelming odds. He’s supported by a talent-filled cast who are criminally underused, due to there being so many of them. But it was fun to see Jessica Chastain, Kristen Wiig, Sean Bean, and Jeff Daniels in the same film. During the Earth scenes, I regularly forgot who had what title (besides the head of NASA), but luckily it didn’t really seem to matter. That pleasant feature can be said for much of the movie- most of us won’t understand all the science babble all the actors spout out (it’s not like they really get it either), but the story doesn’t demand we do to enjoy it.

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Pretty.

As I mentioned, the effects and scenery are gorgeous and approach the beauty of last year’s space blockbuster Interstellar. The rugged, hostile beauty of Mars contrasts perfectly with the corporate, structured box of NASA. Come to think of it, practically everything contrasted between those two settings- Mars had Damon, while NASA had what felt like a dozen characters, plus background workers. The only real bridge between the two were the clever uses of models of the rover and explorer that NASA brought for hands-on research.

Any drawbacks were due more to personal taste for me- I basically squinted the entire scene where Damon un-impales himself because I’m squeamish. But dang, that scene was detailed, unflinching, and a bit long for my side. We get it, doctoring yourself on Mars is bloody and sucks, ok?! The other drawback I had was the soundtrack didn’t stand out in any way, at least compared to other space movies that seemed to catch the wonder of space with music (Gravity, Interstellar) . This isn’t a huge deal, since some would argue that the best soundtrack props up the movie without standing out and getting in the way (I would disagree though).

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It’s still hard to take Kristen Wiig seriously.

Side note here, but that whole Project Elrond bit was comedic gold for those inside the joke.Sean Bean and The Secret Meeting caused my theater to erupt in laughter (yay fantasy nerds!). Surprisingly, this whole scene almost didn’t make it into the final cut, but a higher-up in the studio liked it so much he demanded it be kept. Weird, a demand from the studio that actually improves the movie, right? Anyway, The Martian is a tense but entertaining ride through the unknown, and it looks great on the big screen.

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One does not simply go to Mars.