Archive for June, 2012

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter 3D Review

Well, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter wasn’t the WORST thing to happen to Lincoln in a theater. In fact, it really wasn’t a terrible movie, as long as you watch it correctly. Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter isn’t a movie to really be taken seriously, but more of a film to sit back and just turn your brain off and laugh at the whole thing. It just feels like a big joke, and the way parts of it are written, it seems like the whole crew knew it too.  Having never read this book, obviously I can’t speak for the accuracy of the adaptation, but that’s irrelevant as I see it. You’ve got to kind of just watch this movie without any sort of expectations beforehand, otherwise you will undoubtedly be disappointed. Luckily, there is plenty in this film to be pleasantly surprised about, so if you keep those aforementioned expectations low, you should be good!

Casting was extremely well done, I thought! Benjamin Walker as Abraham Lincoln really did well. He very nicely showed the character’s change of heart and mindset throughout the film with a slew of facial expressions and just his general demeanor. Mary Todd Lincoln, played by Mary Elizabeth Winstead, was also a nicely cast part. We didn’t really get to see her being crazy like everyone thinks her to be, but maybe we’ll get to see that later in a sequel (Mary Todd: Revenge of the Lincolns anyone? I want producer credit.) Anthony Mackie did well as Lincoln’s childhood friend grown up, Will Johnson, and Jimmi Simpson’s portrayal of Lincoln’s employer and ally Joshua Speed is pretty stellar as well, bringing about a few laughs later in the film. Dominic Cooper as the eccentric and somewhat violent vampire hunter who takes Lincoln under his wing, Henry Sturgess, is a great fit, as is Rufus Sewell as the head Vampire known simply as Adam, and Marton Csokas as the violent plantation owner Jack Barts. Overall, I felt this was cast close to perfect for what this movie was.

The plot was pretty much exactly as you’d expect. A vampire killed his mom, so he wants revenge, tries to kill the vampire that murdered his mother, obviously doesn’t succeed, and then becomes a vampire hunter so he can succeed. That’s pretty much it. The plot of this movie is really pretty thin. There are some side plot points here and there, but overall, it’s a story of revenge and vampire slaughtering. The plot switches sometime along the way and it becomes about the Civil War, and surprisingly enough (spoiler alert) vampires are the reason Gettysburg was so close. Anyway, all of this relies on the existence of a secret diary that Lincoln kept. But that makes this whole story true, right? We totally found that secret diary. Now we just have to find Lincoln’s vampire hunting kit and we can dub this a true story! This really puts our beloved Honest Abe into a whole new light! Now, as I said before, this whole thing felt like a joke that everyone in the movie was in on. There were some truly awful one-liners that you could tell had to be put in to prove just how seriously they weren’t taking this film. “HERE’S YOUR SILVER!” But it’s those instances that save this movie from being a horrible train wreck of a film and send it into an almost satirical piece that tries to put on a somber facade on top of a riotous laugh. I hope that’s what they were aiming for, and watching this film, it really feels like that was their intention.

The visuals, and the 3D, were pretty much worth the price of admission. The entire film had a feeling of an older film without being poor quality, and the vampires were astonishing. They pop out of nowhere occasionally and make you jump out of your seat, and their appearance is stellar. The 3D, while not necessarily invasive, was well worth the price bump. Early in the film, Lincoln shoots a man in the eye, and somehow you can almost feel it go through your eye. The 3D allows that bullet to only go to the same eye of the man that got shot, so it really adds to the film in small, but very cool and intriguing, ways like that. Past that, as I said before, the 3D isn’t invasive, and it’s used in a tasteful manner… Well, as tastefully as a vampire movie can use it. Even if you aren’t into vampire movies, this film’s 3D and visuals, as well as the style of cinematography really deserves a look.

Ultimately, while the entirety of Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter feels like a massive joke that the crew wants to just barely hide from you, it does stir quite a few laughs, and as a mindless vampire slaughtering movie, this is definitely something to see. I highly suggest it just based on the 3D aspects that are incorporated, but past that it’s nothing more than a mindless movie to watch some vampires lose their heads and Abe Lincoln being the one to chop them off. Use your own discretion really. It’s probably the easiest way to get something off your mind, and it will definitely be fodder for hysterical criticism for several weeks.


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I’d like to welcome Battleship into the list of childhood memories that have been fundamentally and irreparably modified due to the adaptation of a movie. I’d also like to welcome it to the extremely short list of movies adapted from board games (Clue being the only other real one, followed by the fictional games Jumanji and Zathura). Somehow Hasbro has managed to not only milk their toys for movie money, they are beginning on a pursuit to take advantage of all their board games as well! I remember when Battleship was an innocent little board game about carnage on the high seas. Now the movie has tarnished it, and made it a movie about alien… carnage on the high seas… Ok, so it’s really not all that different, but there was a bit of a stretch (read: artistic license) to fit the fairly straight forward board game into a 2 hour film. And they really didn’t do too terrible of a job either!

To begin, casting was actually pretty decent. It could be considered a sort of redemption movie for quite a bit of the cast. Liam Neeson did spectacularly as his typical “man in charge” role after the mess that was The Grey. He managed to give Admiral Shane a mean streak that showcased his power, while at the same time, you can always feel that underlying layer of emotion. Excellent balance. Taylor Kitsch is the other actor who needed a boost in reputation after the critics hated John Carter so much (I thought it was pretty decent, but to each his own.) His performance in this film as Alex Hopper was superb, I thought, because even just his appearance at the beginning compared to the end show a large character shift. He was the perfect man to cast for this sea-faring coming of age tale (which is essentially what it is.) Alexander Skarsgard (sic) did a nice job as Stone Hopper, Alex’s older brother. Although we don’t see a lot of him in the film, he did nicely when it was necessary for him to do so. Brooklyn Decker did a fine job as Sam. My only problem with her is that she seemed fairly necessary to the plot, yet we got relatively low screen time from her. Also, oddly enough, Rihanna makes her big screen debut in this movie. Why she’d pick this one, or why she even wants to go into this industry is a mystery to me, but she seemed to know what she was doing, so that’s a good start for her! While the tone of this movie isn’t really funny, we do, luckily, get quite a bit of comic relief from Cal Zapata (played by the fitting Hamish Linklater.) So overall, casting was pretty well done.

The plot was probably the main concern of many going into this film. Afterall, the board game this was based on consists of calling out coordinates and shouting hit or miss. The difference in this movie is that your playing with aliens that have giant ships that are nearly inpenetrable. It was an odd way to make this board game movie material, but I’m not sure there was another way to make it marketable given the focus on aliens and vampires this year. Luckily, though, it all made sense. Pacing dragged a little at times, but I was never checking my watch to see if it was almost over. I think the only times where it was prone to drag was when nothing was happening. Not big story moments where the action isn’t happening, but just the little things thrown in to make it longer. This could have been a bit shorter, with a little less fighting, and still been a fine movie. Surprisingly enough, the story, while not necessarily touching, was more emotionally centered than you would think given the concept. As I said above, it’s essentially a coming of age story for Alex Hopper, who starts as an immature egotistical manchild, and becomes, by the end of the movie, an inspiring leader. The character development, in this aspect, was very effective.

This movie is about aliens and fighting on the surface, so of course the visuals were pretty good. The alien ships didn’t look entirely realistic, which is exactly what’s supposed to happen because they are aliens. They looked like actual ships from a fantasy world. The aliens themselves don’t get much screen time given they are in suits, but the few instances where we are shown the actual aliens (not in the suits), they are very well done. The suits themselves seem a little ripped from the Halo franchise to be perfectly honest, which was a bit disappointing to see so much work put into something that everyone has already seen. The rest of the scenery (for the most part) is just Hawaii and oceans. So, while some of the visuals were impressive, it’s certainly not what I’d watch if I wanted to see a visual masterpiece. Especially with Prometheus and the new Spiderman movie right around the corner in IMAX.

Ultimately, the movie may be a tad overwrought with unnecessary action, and the scenery may be slightly mundane, but the acting from the entire cast, as well as the story and character development throughout are plenty reason to see this film. If you can sit through the excessive battles, I would definitely recommend this film. It’s not the greatest film of all time, it certainly has its fair share of problems, but the main thread of the story is absolutely worth catching. As I said, don’t go in hoping for the most amazing visuals you’ve ever seen, or the most heart-warming tale, but go in prepared for another Summer popcorn flick and be surprised by the relative depth it has. This movie isn’t for everyone, and by the time this gets posted, it will most likely be out of theaters, but catch in on Netflix or rent it or something. There’s no doubt it’s worth at least that.

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I’m honestly surprised by the amount of negative reviews on this film. I understand why they have such hostile feelings regarding the film, but overall I felt that the movie was well worth the money. The barrage of criticism it received is understandable given that they all write as if this is supposed to answer all the questions it presents, but given that this is a sci-fi movie about human existence itself, I would think it is obvious that not all the questions will be answered. The other point I can see is that it’s not defined as a prequel, or just loosely related, to Aliens. It really doesn’t matter what it is though, because trying to find all the connections forces you to miss the actual movie. So, to accurately review this movie, I believe it’s necessary to do just that. Review THIS movie, and not try to write about all the connections that may or may not exist.

Casting was very well done. Charlize Theron (Snow White and the Huntsman) does a great job in her role as the slightly mysterious and ethically questionable mission director. Michael Fassbender as David, an extremely realistic humanoid, is incredible. He prizes this role fantastically, managing to take enough humanness out of himself to produce a robot that’s just close enough to the edge of human to make the audience question whether he can truly feel or not. While Noomi Rapace, who plays Elizabeth Shaw, is supposed to be the main focus, I feel as though Fassbender really steals the spotlight with his performance in this film. That’s not to discredit Rapace though, she did astoundingly as Shaw, the faith driven scientist who believes this voyage will uncover the origins of the human species, and her chemistry with Logan Marshall-Green, who takes on the role of Charlie Holloway, really makes for a believable match up of both a scientific team and a couple. Idris Elba, who plays Janek, the ship’s captain, really presents a nice bit of comedic relief throughout the film, aided by Fifield and Millburn early in the film (played by Sean Harris and Rafe Spall respectively.) When necessary, however, Elba pulls out all the stops and can really hit the serious parts. The only weak point in the casting, in my opinion, was Guy Pearce as Peter Weyland. In all honesty, that wasn’t really as much a weak point in casting as it was a weak development in character, so I will hit that later.

Lots of the flack that this movie caught was over the questions that the plot presented and the lack of answers that it revealed. I say that’s all part of the fun, but to each his own. I thought pacing in this film was nice. It didn’t feel like a super long movie, even though it was 2 hours and 4 minutes. Of course, the big plot points in the film may be a bit controversial to those who can’t understand that this is a Sci-Fi movie and not real, but if you can put aside any thoughts you have on the origin of life, or whatever this plot is considered, and just enjoy the movie, it’s very easy to buy into the whole thing and become immersed in the film. While it does open up many questions and the end is obviously wide open for a sequel, it isn’t like it doesn’t answer any questions. It does address all the questions that are easily answered, but any of the profound questions that it presented, it left open. That, as I see it, is more of a philosophical decision rather than a hole in the story. Were the creatures that created us created by someone else, or was it God? Was it evolution? It all comes back to the basic question of “Who created us/them?” That question will be a continuous inquiry until the day we die, so the lack of an answer in this regard was a smart move to keep that hint of realism in an otherwise fantastical movie. Other problems critics had were with realism, such as the inability to walk after a major operation (which occurs later in the movie), yet the character walks. I feel as though all of these are addressed by the fact that A. things may change drastically between now and 2086 or 2092 or whatever year it is when the story occurs, and B. it is a sci-fi, fantasy movie. Of course it’s not going to be realistic. It has to contain that hint of realism to stay just on the edge of human, but it must be removed enough to make it feel edgy. I think that this film really walks that line well. As I stated earlier, the only problem with character development that I found was Guy Pearce’s character, Peter Weyland, and that was probably just the fact that he wasn’t prominent. He was a sort of mysterious character that you could always feel the presence of due to situations, but you never see or hear from him, so he seems fictitious even in the fictional movie world.

And to the piece de resistance, the visuals. If you don’t want to see this movie at all, even the thought of it is repulsive, go see it just for the visuals. They are awesome, in the literal sense. Awe-inspiring. This entire film could have been silent and there could have been no people in the whole thing and I still would have happily gone to this movie in IMAX 3D. There’s not much to say really, other than go see it. The atmosphere presented in this film, both the tone and the literal atmosphere of the planet they land on, is great. The planet’s surface, the aliens, the graphic surgery scene, the landscapes, it’s all well worth the IMAX upcharge. The use of the 3D wasn’t overkill and I felt it was very well done. This section is going to be relatively short because even the best of descriptions of the visuals in this film would be an insult to the actual beauty that it presents. In short, the visuals are magnificent, and if you miss this film, you’ve really missed out on a visual feast.

To conclude, it’s absolutely necessary to go see this film in IMAX 3D, even if you don’t think it’s something you’d enjoy seeing. I mean, all the negative aspects that most critics load on it are just a bias against it for whatever reason, and it truly is a fantastic movie. There’s no reason to miss this film. Maybe if you aren’t a big sci-fi movie lover it would be okay to miss, and it’s understandable if you just don’t want to spend the extra money, but it is absolutely worth it, even if it’s just for the visual aspect of it. So the best suggestion I have for you is to take the risk, shell out the cash, and catch this while it’s still in IMAX and you can bless your eyes to this majestic eye candy. The story line is very well done, and I truly encourage you to see this one while you can, because a TV just won’t cut it.

If you haven’t realized it by now, I’ve begun updating this site every Saturday at (or very close to) midnight, so if you could keep checking back and introduce this site to friends, family, movie goers, random bystanders on the street, it would be greatly appreciated. The more hits I get, the more motivation I have to keep going, and I really do enjoy these, so I’m not going away soon. Recognition is the real pay off for this…

Of course, actual pay off isn’t bad either. *Wink nod wink*

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Snow White and the Huntsman isn’t really a twist on the old tale as much as it is a recreation of it. The Disney tale is, surprisingly, relatively close to the Brothers Grimm tale in essence: seven dwarfs, poison apple, and a prince kissing her to revive her. This film is a bit different. For instance, this film, as opposed to the seven dwarfs, has eight, and they aren’t the typical Sleepy, Sneezy, Happy, Doc, etc. They do share some of those traits though, even if they have names like Beith, Nion, and Gus. There are a few more differences, but I won’t address those here. The main thing is, you need to view this not as a remake or recreation of any previous Snow White story, but as a completely original story due to the number of differences within the story.

Now, the main concern for many was the casting. I know quite a few people were worried about whether Kristen Stewart could handle a role that didn’t require her to look apathetic about a decision regarding werewolves and vampires. Can she convey the emotions necessary to propel the film? Well, the short answer is no. She has a bit of a problem with expressing emotion, which is increasingly difficult to watch as the movie progresses. Luckily, a good portion of the movie is devoted to her looking distressed in an almost apathetic way, so you don’t realize it until it’s incredibly obvious.  For instance, the point in the movie where she is walking through the fairies’ sanctuary, you’d imagine she’d express some form of awe? Nope. Distressed apathy. Depression at the death of a befriended dwarf? Nope. Distressed apathy after a single tear. So the question now is whether or not her wretched acting skill is enough to negate the rest of this movie. The answer to that one is also no. Chris Hemsworth, while firmly imprinted on most people’s minds as Thor, manages to do an impressive job as the Hunstman, Charlize Theron does magnificently as Queen Ravenna, and  several of the dwarfs were actually some A-list actors, which helped a lot. Toby Jones, Nick Frost, and Ian McShane as the leader of the group really helped move this film along after they were introduced. So I wouldn’t let Stewart’s mediocre expressionism prevent you from seeing this otherwise relatively star studded movie. Plus, there is a surprisingly small amount of screen time for Snow White in this movie. She doesn’t have many lines, and when she does, she’s supposed to look distressed. So the writers kind of knew how to work around her shortcomings.

I won’t compare the plot and story line of this film to the Disney version or the Brothers Grimm version seeing as I haven’t seen/read either of them in long enough to. That may work out to this film’s advantage though, seeing as a connection to either of those would automatically make me dislike any differences between this film and the aforementioned versions. Luckily, I get to review this as its own plot and not a comparison. The giant conflict throughout the whole movie was Queen Ravenna trying to get Snow White’s heart to keep herself from looking like a meth addict. See, she feeds off young people’s beauty and… I dunno, the cuteness of kittens or something? Anyway, that’s the reason that Snow White is on the run the entire movie, so the pacing, while slow at times, always makes sense. At 2 hours and 7 minutes, it definitely feels every minute of it. That’s not really a good thing. At some point, if a movie isn’t fantastic the length becomes extremely noticeable, and this is a perfect example of that. While at places it seems to be moving along pretty quickly, it eventually begins to drag and finally you just start wondering why it has lasted as long as it has. This is partially due to the relatively little amount of dialogue compared to the immense time spent on fight/chase scenes. So while the film feels long, it’s not really filled with content.

Luckily what it lacks in content, it makes up for in visuals. The Dark Forest is gloomy with an overbearing sense of dread, and when it comes alive, it looks incredible. They managed to do it in a way that didn’t look too animated as well, so while it is obviously not realistic, it looks as though it’s natural. The Fairy Sanctuary looked slightly more cartoony, but not because it’s any less natural than the Dark Forest, just because it’s a Fairy Sanctuary. Fairy dust flies through the air, everything comes to life, and it’s an almost awe inspiring scene (which can be seen through Snow White’s distressed apathy…). Overall, throughout the film, the visuals are either stunning or incredibly fitting, so there’s a silver lining to an otherwise iffy movie.

I will still recommend this movie due to both the visuals and the acting prowess of everyone besides Stewart. Of course, I wouldn’t be so quick to recommend it at full price. If you can manage to watch it as a matinee, do it! If not, you should either really love Snow White, or one of the actors, to see it. At 2 hours and 7 minutes it does seem really long, so keep that in mind when deciding whether to see it or not. Don’t get me wrong, it’s enjoyable, but therein lies the problem. It’s only enjoyable. I wouldn’t classify it as great or a must watch. Go watch it if someone else pays for it, or you can manage a matinee price!

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The Men in Black series has never been known for its deep, emotionally touching plots. This film is no different. While parts of this one are actually deceptively meaningful, the overall theme of the movie is no different than the prior ones: smash aliens and get the shiny glowing thing that will save the Earth. So obviously anyone who sees this movie isn’t going to the theater for the philosophical meaning behind what is basically a vehicle for alien carnage; however, as I mentioned before, and I will go more into depth later about, there are some relatively deep (for the MiB series) moments in this film, and that adds an extra layer to an otherwise recycled story. I’m certainly not saying don’t see it, because it is just as much fun as all the previous installments. I just suggest that, should you see it, don’t expect a heart-wrenching, tear-jerking story. Know what to expect when you go into it.

The cast was great, which is to be expected of a group that has been together for the amount of time that they have. They’ve had this chemistry from the beginning of the series. Even with the addition of Josh Brolin as a Young Agent K, the cast didn’t miss a beat, and Brolin managed to incorporate all those mannerisms that Tommy Lee Jones used to make K who he is as a character. Jemaine Clement (of Flight of the Conchords fame) as Boris the Animal manages to mix that evil villain element with enough humor to make him comically inept, yet menacing simultaneously. An especially fun scene involves Boris the Animal talking to Young Boris the Animal, so there’s always that to look forward too. Alice Eve as Young O was a nice touch, although she gets a very small amount of screen time, and a short appearance by Bill Hader is sure to elicit at least a chuckle. Finally, Michael Stuhlbarg plays a delightfully awkward individual who possesses the ability to see all time simultaneously, and he is the, for lack of a better term, “Damsel in Distress” in this movie. While the movie begins and ends in present day, that is simply a framework to transition into the 1969 story line, where the deeper themes are expressed towards the end of the film. I’m not going to spoil anything about those themes, but they bring to light some facts that are important to the series as a whole, and if you are a big MiB fan, it’s certainly worth watching just for these few tidbits.

Visually, Men in Black has always been ultra cheesy, and it always had a way of making things pop out of the screen even without the 3D. Now that they have it in their possession, they, to the disappointment of many, do not quite live up. While there are a few scenes (a laser show and a giant fish showdown) that really utilize the technology, the majority of the film was rather void of 3D. Although the two stunning 3D scenes really showcase the entire style of MiB, it’s not worth the extra to get something that has, more or less, always been there.

Ultimately, my suggestion is to go see it, but don’t splurge for 3D, and don’t expect too much out of a movie revolving around alien bashing. If you want a thought provoking movie, try something else. If you want a dark and deeply involved movie, wait for The Dark Knight Rises. If you want sappy and emotional, I think they’re still running the re-release of Titanic. But if you’re in the mood for a fun action movie that doesn’t take itself too seriously, and knows how to throw in just the right amount of cheesiness, please go see Men in Black 3. You won’t be sorry.

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