I didn’t realize it until it was over but Skyfall was the first real James Bond movie starring Daniel Craig. Casino Royale always felt like a Jason Bourne movie with a British guy in a nice suit and the less said about of Solace, the better. Skyfall was half reboot/half course correction for the Bond franchise.
I didn’t expect this movie to be good by any stretch of the imagination but I at least hoped it would be really fun. It wasn’t even that.
I know what The RZA (co-writer, director and star) was going for here. He was clearly a fan of wuxia movies and tried to create one here with CGI. Those movies weren’t cinematic masterpieces either and maybe he should have drawn upon other influences. The movie was poorly written and structured particularly the interruption of action to get into one character’s backstory.
There were a few entertaining performances by Russell Crowe (Jack Knife), Lucy Liu (Madam Blossom) and especially Byron Mann (Silver Lion). Some of the action setpieces were cool particularly the final free-for-all at the Pink Blossom brothel but it wasn’t worth it. This is a straight-to-DVD film. Wait for it to get there.
Time travel movies are always tricky. The writer and director has to establish the rules that their cinematic universe is adhering to. Some of these films are constrained by the limits they set for themselves. Others bend, break or find loopholes which leave the viewer spending way too much time wondering if they cheated. Early in Looper, Rian Johnson’s latest film, Joe (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is sitting across from an older version of himself from 30 years into the future (Bruce Willis). Joe asks how any of this is possible regarding him interacting with himself and older Joe, not wanting to get into it replies: “I don’t want to spend all day making diagrams with straws.” Johnson is letting us know that the time travel mechanics aren’t what’s important. It was a means to an end for this story.
Bachelorette is the movie I thought/hoped Bridesmaids was going to be. It was funny and crude. This was closer to a female equivalent of The Hangover.
This was the best role I’ve seen Kirsten Dunst (Regan) play in ages. She was always better at being the serious, slightly mean one as opposed to the “Manic Pixie Dream Girl” she’s been cast as throughout the 2000s. I love everything that Lizzy Caplan (Gena) does so I was biased to love her performance. Having her play opposite her former Party Down castmate, Adam Scott (Clyde), was an added bonus. They always had good chemistry and now I’m mad again that Starz cancelled it.
I usually find Isla Fisher (Katie) annoying but she was used well here. It was similar to her breakout performance in Wedding Crashers. It was strange to see Rebel Wilson (Becky) be the normal one. It seems almost a waste of her talents. She had very few moments to shine.
The supporting cast (including James Marsden not playing a guy who gets dumped for a better guy) were all solid. Even though the movie ended too happily for where the characters started, I still thought it was really funny.
Unfortunately I have to file Julie Delpy’s sequel to 2 Days in Paris under “Movies I Wanted To Like More Than I Actually Did.” I thought Delpy and Chris Rock, playing her live-in boyfriend, Mingus, had great chemistry together. This might be my favorite performance from Rock. He seemed more like a human being and less like a comedian given funny lines to say. You felt his suffering dealing with Marion’s (Delpy) visiting family including her father Jennot (Albert Delpy, her real father), her inappropriate sister Rose (Alexia Landeau) and her sister’s boyfriend/her ex-boyfriend Manu (Alexandre Nahon). It was almost a game to see who could make Mingus the most uncomfortable.
The movie was at its best showing the strain that Marion’s family has brought on their relationship. Mingus can’t tell if this is a temporary blip in their happy home or if he is seeing the real Marion. It all falls apart in the last third of the movie with the selling of Marion’s soul as an art piece (too hard to explain). The movie becomes a bit of a mess as Marion and her family become to silly take seriously anymore.
Still, it was good to see Rock playing a normal human being , albeit one who talks to a cutout of President Barack Obama like he’s really in the room.
The Amazing Spider-Man is a perfectly fine reboot for the Spider-Man series1. Andrew Garfield playing Peter Parker is more emo than nerd. That might have bothered me but for this movie, it worked. It was a good idea to start with Peter’s relationship with Gwen Stacy (a charming Emma Stone) if only to differentiate itself from the Sam Raimi/Tobey Maguire films. Starting with Stacy as the love interest allows the producers of this series to stretch out Parker’s time in high school and slowly lead up to Mary Jane Watson.
There are two things I will give this film over its predecessor. They handled Parker’s intelligence well, having him design his web shooters and have intelligent conversations with Doctor Conners (Rhys Ifans). Also, the improvements in CGI technology allowed Spider-Man to look more fluid and less cartoony than Raimi’s Spider-Man.
After the credits rolled, I wondered aloud if The Dark Knight Rises was even better than The Dark Knight. I walked into this movie expecting to be entertained but also mildly disappointed. The Dark Knight was probably the pinnacle of comic book movies. I don’t even like to call it a comic book movie. I prefer “crime thriller using characters originated in a comic book.” It really deserves it’s own category. To prepare for the final part of Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Trilogy, I re-watched the first two Batman films. I realized I may have thought too highly of The Dark Knight (TDK) and not highly enough of Batman Begins. As amazing as Heath Ledger’s performance as The Joker was and as intense an experience watching that film was, there were some things that bothered me that I may have ignored in my previous viewings. The movie went a little downhill after the Joker was defeated (truth be told, it should have ended there). While The Dark Knight Rises (TDKR) definitely had it’s flaws, I think it was a more consistent film from start to finish.
Is Pixar slipping?
I didn’t ever want to see Cars 2 (and from what I’ve been hearing, that was a good call) but when I saw the trailers for this, I was onboard. A Pixar film with a female lead set in Scotland? Granted, at first glance, it just looked like a Scottish Mulan but I was still interested. After the credits started rolling, I immediately couldn’t put my finger on what was wrong with the movie (except for the songs which were laughable). A few days later, I realized I was disappointed at how average the movie was.
It wasn’t horrible. It’s one of those movies where you don’t laugh out loud very much but you will say to yourself, “That’s so funny.“
The structure was weird but that’s to be expected when you base a movie off a self-help book (which worked so well for my least favorite romantic movie of all-time). The only noteworthy performance is Anna Kendrick as Rosie who gets pregnant after a one night stand with an old high school crush, Marco (Chace Crawford). Elizabeth Banks was pretty good as well but she always is.
Honestly the movie was a bit of a mess the more I think about it. About 95% laughs came from Rebel Wilson as Janice, a dim-wited employee of Wendy’s (Banks) shop and The Dude Group, a secret society of fathers played by Chris Rock, Rob Huebel, Amir Talai and Thomas Lennon. Unfortunately, all of the funniest parts featuring them are in the trailers and commercials.
The Cabin in the Woods is a hard movie to review. It’s hard to praise this film without giving away it’s concept. It’s better not knowing anything about the twist. Don’t worry, this isn’t an M. Night Shyamalan twist. From the opening moments of the movie, you know you are in for something different.
On the surface, this is a basic “kids go into the woods” horror flick. One thing I do think it’s okay to know is that it isn’t. If you are going into this film hoping for a horror movie and just a horror movie, you might be disappointed. But if you are open to a humorous and slightly witty subversion of the genre, you are in for a treat.
The performances are okay (although Fran Kranz as the stoner Marty got annoying really quick) but the standouts were Richard Jenkins and Bradley Whitford (I can’t say anything about their roles). Their chemistry is the best thing about this movie. You’ll be rooting for them despite what that actually means in the context of what’s happening in this film.
Wikipedia: Francis Elliott “Fran” Kranz is an American actor. →