Tag Archives: movie

The Monuments Men

18 Mar

An innumerable amount of movies, books, T.V. shows, and plays have been dedicated to the events that transpired during World War II, but in this movie the story focuses on a more intriguing subject not often looked upon in media.

The Monuments Men, released on Feb. 7, 2014, is an American-German war film produced and directed by George Clooney, and details the exploits of the Monuments, Fine Arts, and Archives program members, who return to service in the pursuit of retrieving and protecting art stolen by the Third Reich.

The Monuments Men is based off the novels of the same name, written by Robert M. Edsel, and was written by Clooney and screenwriter Grant Heslov. The film is home to a story that might have some movie goers scratching their heads at the notion of going into war torn territory with the intention of risking their well-being to protect pieces of art. And therein lays the strength of the film in both how it presents its characters and its overall moral on the importance of preserving culture.

The movie features the altered version of the book and the history it’s taking from but still represents itself as a non-fiction period piece that tells a bloated yet poignant story of how a small group of men realize that art is more than just a fleeting past time that doesn’t hold any importance. In a surreal self-representing metaphor the movie delivers the message that any and all art is not just a piece of paper, or a carved rock, nor just a collection of sounds but a reflection of the people who make it. The movie asks a very difficult but ultimately soul stirring question that is going to reach a lot of people, whether they like the movie or not, and that question is whether art is worth dying for.

As melodramatic as the movie may sound it is still an enjoyable experience that has the ability to balance comedy from natural camaraderie and the dramatic weight that comes with telling a story set in World War II. The film’s cast, featuring a few known comedians, knows just the right amount of attention, inflection and expression with every scene to make it fit together nicely. The movie is also filled to the brim with memorable and timeless moments that people will most likely be referencing for the rest of movie history.

The Monument’s Men isn’t a ‘Triple A’ blockbuster, nor is it anyone’s dream project, but  feels like home movie made among friends and filled with enough heart and care to warrant a second look. Not wanting to make waves the movie represents itself better than anyone can say and if this was the intent then the film makers have surely succeeded.

Thanks and see you later!

DBSLAYER7

The Lego Movie(Everything is Awesome!)

10 Feb

It’s a rare sight to see the stars align for a film, but when the gears mesh they sing like angels, and what better movie to represent this allegory then The Lego Movie.

Released on Feb. 7, The Lego Movie is a computer-animated adventure comedy film based on the Lego construction toys and the different licensed products made from them. From the trailers and initial speculation The Lego Movie seems like a hodgepodge of references and nostalgia, with a little star power thrown in for extra measure.

The Lego Movie actually houses a cleverly written and engaging world built with enough fervor and heart to rival the Pixar classics. The film tells a familiar yet unique story about an average construction worker, Emmet Brickowski (Chris Pratt), who goes about every day following the instructions given to him and never going outside the lines. Eight and a half years before this, an evil dictator by the name of Lord Business (Will Ferrel) steals a weapon called the “Kragle” and wants to use its power to make the Lego world perfect by his personal instructions. Emmet becomes wrapped in a prophecy foretold by a wise man named Vitruvius (Morgan Freeman), who sees a chosen one called, “The Special,” as a the one who will use an artifact called the Piece of Resistance to destroy the Kragle and defeat Lord Business.

Seems simple enough but looks can be very deceiving. First off the first surprise of the film would be its cast and its refreshing lack of celebrities. Sure there’s Liam Neeson and Ferrel but the main cast consists of TV actors such as Pratt and Will Arnett as Batman. The best part is that The Lego Movie uses these actors to their full comedic potential and several scenes will have you chuckling throughout the movie.

Which goes by quick with a frenetic pace that seems to fit the movie perfectly as the beautiful faux stop-motion animation direction is incredibly fun to watch. But nothing is perfect and the film does lead to a few flaws such as the fact that since it has such a fast paced feel, the more slow moments seem out of place. The sound design seems a bit muffled and it’s not clear whether this was intentional or not.

Regardless of personal taste or the want for something that “seems” original The Lego Movie is a must watch for anyone looking for a fresh idea and film that stays 100% true to its name.

The Hobbit: The Desol(ook at that f$&#ing dragon!)ation of Smaug

16 Dec

Like the awkward middle child in an oversized family The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug seems to be going through puberty, finding all sorts of new things about itself while not being sure of what it’s supposed to do.

The movie takes place directly after the first Hobbit film and continues the unexpected journey towards the Lonely Mountain original kingdom of the dwarves. The protagonists, including the 13 dwarves, led by Thorin Oakenshield (Richard Armitage), the wizard, Gandalf the Grey (Ian McKellan) and the titular hobbit, Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman), must traverse the remaining land as they find their way back to the dwarf’s homeland. Along the way they must evade orcs, consult with the high elves and prepare to come face to face with the larger than life fire-breathing dragon Smaug (Benedict Cumberbatch).

Viewing movies such as The Hobbit trilogy piece by piece is equally as exciting as it is frustrating.

The ending cliffhangers still smack you in the face, even if you are someone who knows these movies are ensemble works, which is actually more of a testament to how engaging these films can be.

As the title suggests the main focus of the film is the inevitable encounter and interaction with a dragon by the name of Smaug, who is the same dragon from the beginning of An Unexpected Journey. I mention Smaug as a “who” because he is not your typical big dumb fire-breathing dinosaur. He has as much if not more personality as any of the other characters and is the main villain in the film.

As much as the movies defend their long running time, here it seems to put padding on top of padding, including a boring love triangle, single-shot filmed fight scenes, and an entirely different movie, with Stephen Fry playing a foppish aristocratic dictator of a lake top village adequately named, “Lake Town,” that just so happens to be next to the Lonely Mountain.

But with more padding comes quality filmmaking in both the acting and photographic departments. Every character, whether from the novel or not, is three-dimensional, with flaws and strengths brought to light by the actors, who do a great job of making the film a very organic experience. This is most evident with the group of battle ready dwarves who are now discernable from one another in big action vignettes and dialogues.

The visual effects are also some of the best seen in recent years, while the CG is still noticeable it’s very natural and never takes you out of the experience. The work done on Smaug alone is something that must be seen on the big screen.

A must see for fans of the book and the fantasy genre in general, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug is a movie that pushes the boundaries even further. The film is filled to the brim with something for everyone and a testament to good filmmaking that still includes the likes of fun in an industry that says otherwise. As frustrating as it is to see a cliffhanger the feeling of disappointment comes because the audience wants to see more.

This is my opinion, Thanks and see ya later!

DBSLAYER7

Thor: The Dark World

13 Nov

Thor: The Dark World, released on Nov. 8, is the latest in the generous offering peddled by Marvel Studios and its revolutionary ideas on building an Avengers trilogy.

Thor: The Dark World is set two years after the events of the first Thor film and one year after the events of The Avengers and sees Thor(Chris Hemsworth) finishing up building peace amongst the nine realms and ready to take the throne of Asgard. Unfortunately his mind is towards Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) as she is imbued with an ancient sealed power called the Aether. The Aether is being sought out by an old enemy of Asgard, the Dark Elf Malakith (Christopher Eccleston) who has sworn vengeance upon Asgard for a war that killed his race. Thor must enlist the help of his enigmatic brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston) and fight to defeat Malekith and protect the realms he worked to make peaceful.

MINITORIAL-Divided They Fall?: The biggest question for people who enjoy the Avengers team dynamic is whether or not it works with only one Avenger. It’s gotten to the point where the individual hero movies cannot ignore their past exploits. The attention to previous details helps the films tremendously and keeps the entirety of the franchise alive and not repetitive. New problems, new villains and new macguffins that will be collected and used for different plots in the future. 

It’s at this point in the Marvel movie universe that no wrong can be done. Anything resembling a mishandling of an individual property or characters is immediately met with a good screenplay, great acting and love for the art of film that’s not found in many places today.

That’s Thor: The Dark World in a nutshell. Not perfect or fantastic, but just the right amount of dynamic between drama, action and comedy.

When the Avengers are together it’s a typical superhero flick with a team dynamic but when you pull them apart and you get some interesting possibilities. Namely that Thor and everything having to do with him and his world is a fantasy and the movie makers know this all too well.

Giving the Director’s chair to Alan Taylor, who handled various episodes of Game of Thrones, and can make the goofiest set pieces, wardrobes and colorful characters be taken seriously as they fight power ranger villains in plastic masks.

The biggest problem with the first film was the fact that Thor wasn’t actually Thor throughout the film and remained a human as he regained his power but that’s apparently resolved in The Dark World. Hemsworth played the fish out of water cocksure Thor we saw in the first film but now the actor gets to remain in the characters’ fantastical element and fight everything hammer, cape and honor in hand.

Special mention goes to Idris Elba as Heimdall, as he can go from dead serious to lighthearted in a second.  The highlight of the movie is definitely the banter shared by Hemsworth and Hiddleston as Thor and Loki respectively.

The biggest problem with this film is the villain and the somewhat plain performance given by Eccleston. Those hoping Eccleston would bring his “Doctor Who” charm to the role as an engaging villain will be disappointed yet he still serves the purpose of a legitimate threat and fits the movies wiry feel.

Thor: The Dark World is a great movie and deserves to stand among the ranks of the Marvel pedigree but if you’re a hardcore Thor fan it might seem like a wasted opportunity.

Oz the (Not so) Great and Powerful

19 Mar

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Everyone knows the original 1939 classic film, The Wizard of Oz which featured the story of Dorothy and her adventure through the land of Oz, and of course, Wicked, the popular Broadway play which detailed more of the witch’s story. Now it’s time for the wizard himself to get a backstory in the new movie directed by horror auteur Sam Raimi.

The film stars James Franco as the titular Oz whose real name is Oscar Diggs as a greedy con artist magician of a traveling circus who wants to become a great man and be remembered throughout history. After a botched performance Oscar’s playboy antics get him into trouble with the circus’ strong man. Oz attempts to escape in a hot air balloon only to be caught up in a tornado that transports him to the Land of Oz akin to that of the original film. There Oscar meets up with Theodora, played by Mila Kunis, who tells him that he is to fulfill a prophecy in which he will vanquish the evil witch Glinda, Michelle Williams, and bring about peace and become the new King of Oz which would also entitle him to the vast riches of the kingdom. Along his journey he meets with several companions including a flying monkey, played by Zach Braff and an animated china doll.

This film in its entirety is one of the more sloppy productions to come out of Hollywood and can’t be bothered with explaining certain things like character motivation, plot details, or even a solid direction. For instance the reactions and character arc of Theodora, who is either fish memory stupid or blind, can’t tell that Glinda is a good witch or that it’s her sister who controls the flying baboons causing havoc across the land doesn’t make any sense.  

This isn’t surprising given that the director, Sam Raimi, is more of a spectacle director and is good at conveying horror or adapting a pre-existing story like the Spiderman films. Here however his talents seem wasted or phoned in the very least and what is an interesting idea quickly becomes a mess on the screen in terms of bad acting and distracting visuals.

The casting doesn’t make much sense either as different lead actors go through the movie in character types that are not fitted with their acting styles at all such as James Franco being portrayed as a lovable scamp comes off as a terrible and unlikable person until the end. Not that it’s their fault since the actors seem to be just as lost in the confusing plot as the audience.  This film try’s to make a solid coherent story but fails as it goes in different directions trying too hard or too little to gain audience reaction. Confusing plot holes also distract and leave the audience whiplashed into who to actually root for until halfway throughout the two hour long film.

That’s not to say the movie is all bad as it has some genuinely funny and heartfelt moments unintentional or not and isn’t ugly by any stretch. But problems still prevail since 90 percent of the film is shot in front of a green screen making the sets look faker than a Pixar movie.  Certain hand held props and costumes also look obviously touched up in post-production.

At its base the film is extremely paint-by-numbers and is filled to the brim of tropes that viewers have seen a million times in other films. The liar reveal cliché, the band together at the end cliché, and probably the worst offense is the turn evil for trivial reasons trope.  It won’t impress any critic and fans of the practical effects of the original should stay away, but it serves its purpose as a backstory and a pretty pacifier.   

Two Thumbs Down.

This has, is, and always will be my opinion.

Thanks and see ya later!

DBSLAYER7

Django: Un(Off the)chained

21 Jan

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Why can’t a movie have comedy, drama, action and have each genre mesh together perfectly in an engaging story that stays moving. Quentin Tarantino’s ‘Django Unchained’ seems to be the answer to this question and it’s the best answer given as of this writing.

Django Unchained is presented as a love letter to the spaghetti westerns told from the point of view of Tarantino’s wide-eyed love for the genre and its set in the slavery times before the American Civil War. The film stars Jamie Foxx as the titular Django, a soft spoken slave turned bounty hunter who is on a mission to find his wife. Along the trip to a plantation Django meets Dr. King Schultz, played by Christoph Waltz, a German Dentist who is actually a bounty hunter in pursue of a few slippery criminals whose appearances are known by Django, which is why Schultz needs him in order to identify the criminals. As the two spend more time with each other they grow a bond and do their best to help one another as they claim bounty’s as well as try and locate Django’s wife.

The plot seems simple enough but what is most surprising about this film is the presentation of its brilliant juxtaposition between the goofiness of old westerns and the severity of the time in which the movie is set in. A lot of the scenes are extremely graphic to the point of seeming cartoony but nothing seems out of place. Of course the film isn’t all guns and blood as the movie takes a good chunk of the run time to develop the three main characters and delve into the psychological aspects of the times without losing a beat. Without a doubt this movie pulls no punches when it comes to any of its scenes whether they be comedic, dramatic or both.

That’s right, “both,” because this movie and the way it creates scenes to pull at every emotion feel s jarring but in a good way. Several scenes of drama and obscene violence have bits of comedy sprinkled through them and vice versa. Every dialogue exchange holds some weight to it and never once did the plot drag. Every character is memorable from the main cast to the minor characters, everyone seemed to be in the right spot. Some of the language used might offend a number of people but context is key and it shouldn’t deter anyone from enjoying this film as a whole.

Big mention to the performance of Leonardo DiCaprio who successfully loses his baby faced screams and exchanges them for one of the most frightening yet entertaining performance to come from his repertoire as the sadistic slave owner of Django’s wife, Calvin J. Candie. Other actors such as Foxx, Waltz, and an especially surprising performance by Samuel L. Jackson bring their A-game to each scene and leave you wanting more.

The only faults found in the movie would be the character of Django’s wife, wastefully played by Kerry Washington, who is nothing more than a plot device. The movie also seems to be fighting with whether it wants to be a comedy or a drama but should be rewarded for taking a bold risk with the subject matter and utilizing it to its full potential. Another misstep would probably be a dubstep songs in the middle of the movie which is incredibly jarring, but the good outweighs the bad as the main score of the movie is the theme of the original Django western as well as some great original western tunes and keeps the western spirit alive from beginning to end.

Django Unchained is a fast, dramatic, bloody, hilarious, and unforgettable experience that will set the standard for and be one of Tarantino’s best works.

Frankenweenie

8 Oct

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In 1984 Tim Burton had made his first studio film, a live action black-and-white short by the name of Frankenweenie. It detailed the story of a boy and his dog, and how the boy, after losing the dog, uses pseudo-science to resurrect it in a similar fashion to that of the 1931 Frankenstein, hence the parody title. While the film was deemed too scary for a Disney license at the time, it has since become a cult classic, even to the point where it was remade into a feature length animated film of the same name directed by Burton himself.

While the original has been out for nearly three decades it’s remake is a film, not a short and the plot has been expanded considerably which is why it warrants a review.

What was expected to be a boring rehash of the original short film turns out to be an exciting story filled with heart, science, and a cast of colorful characters. The film features Burton’s signature of stop-motion animation and retains the black and white color pallet just like the original short.

The plot is basically the same this time around, starring Charlie Tahan as Victor Frankenstein and his only friend, a dog named Sparky. After Sparky is killed in an automobile accident Victor, uses his scientific talents to resurrect Sparky, turning him into a reanimated corpse that acts as if nothing happened save for a few stitches. The deviation from the original story comes when Victor’s classmates discover Victor’s secret and use it to reanimate their own passed pets and inadvertently create monstrous versions of the original animals.

It’s been a long time since Tim Burton has done something original and I’m glad to say he still has that magic touch for cultish charm. The best thing about the movie happens to be the unexpected twists that come from it and how he sidesteps the usual clichés often found in children’s movies.

A problem with the movie is that it seems to have an abundance of characters that serve little to no purpose, and the characters made from the original seem to be a little too bland and made for the times which does distract from the best parts of the film.

The real hook of this movie that keeps it from being obscure would be all the new content and characters which also seem to be parody’s of horror icons themselves; my favorite being a deformed child named Edger “E” Gore who resembles the hunchback Igor in both name and look.

This movie deserves a watch because the world seems to be in a time when Halloween is steadily being forgotten about, and Frankenweenie keeps the spooky spirit alive. For good animation, hilariously fun to watch set pieces and a sense of originality and heart this movie delivers on what we’ve been missing. 

This has is and always will be my opinion. Thanks and see ya later.