Posts Tagged ‘entertainment’

Total RecallWarning: This first paragraph contains spoilers regarding the 1990 version of Total Recall, starring Arnold Schwarzenegger. However, they aren’t about this one. Reader discretion is advised. It’s unfortunate really, that a movie like Total Recall can’t be impressively remade with a standout cast and improved technology. Given, this film did greatly improve upon the visuals it’s original, but that’s unsurprising. I will give it though, the movie did it’s best to detach itself from the original in such a way that the audience would see it as a new take on an old concept rather than a remake, and they did okay at that, but with all the similarities that they kept, it was very hard to see this movie without comparing it to the Governator’s rendition. As always, I’ll do my best to keep them separate in this review and state my opinions on this movie as it’s own film rather than a remake, but the disappointment that I felt when I saw certain parts still in, and others glossed over is a bit hard to overcome. To do so however, I’m going to have to go ahead and talk about the stuff that they changed before the actual review begins. First of all, the woman with three boobs makes an appearance in this film, and much to my surprise, it was sans cover. I guess in order to show nipple in PG-13 movies, it has to be in odd numbers. That was very odd to see for the rating that the film had, but it wasn’t that big a deal. The real issue I had here was that the film didn’t bother to explain why she had 3, because the issue of mutants that was raised in the original was nowhere to be found in this film, leaving a little mini plot hole. Secondly, they basically just took the first film, lengthened the chase/fight scenes, and reduced the story development, which was very disappointing for me because the uncertainty that is left at the end of the original is absent in the new one, and that was half the fun! There were a few more discrepancies that frustrated me, like the fact that the feeling of betrayal towards the end was gone due to the lack of a cab driver, but I’ll have to put my comparisons aside in order to effectively review this film.

Casting was excellent, but really, how could you go wrong with Colin Farrell, Kate Beckinsale, Jessica Biel, and Bryan Cranston all in one film? Colin Farrell did an excellent job as Dennis Quaid/Hauser. He showed the necessary change in character as he came to new revelations regarding himself throughout the film. Beckinsale as Quaid’s wife was a good fit, giving both the loving wife image and the intimidating secret agent image in turn. Biel did well also, playing Hauser’s accomplice in the rebellion. Bryan Cranston has really become a go to guy for roles that require a certain level of grit, such as his role in Breaking Bad, and Malcolm in the… Middle… well, ok, sometimes he plays roles with grit, and sometimes he’s a manchild, but he’s pretty versatile, and that puts him in a perfect position to portray Cohaagen. There are a few more relatively big name actors in roles with little screen time that do well, like Bill Nighy and John Cho, but with as little screen time as they get, going in depth isn’t really necessary. Overall a very well done casting job.

This movie was miles ahead of the original visually, and once again, it was nicely done. I do have a few complaints on certain scenes though. Specifically, the rooftop chase scene. This movie was filled with impressive chase scenes, and fight scenes, and the atmosphere was almost always spot on, but this rooftop chase scene was just dismal. For some reason they felt it necessary to go into Mario mode and just make it a side scroller with poorly done flipping people. Not only did it look fake, it looked unnatural, and that was the big thing about this particular scene. On top of a film where the rest of the visuals are terrible, it wouldn’t be noticeable, but in a film that actually holds water in the visual realm it’s so obvious that it’s almost painful. Past the horrid Donkey Kong segment, this film is pretty good visually. The atmosphere surrounding most of the events in the film fits perfectly, and that’s a big credit to the visual team for creating the proper scenes.

The story of this film is where it falls apart. While in general the story makes at least some sense, there are some small plot holes left open that kind of make the movie random in parts. Simply put, due to the holes in plot and logic, the film loses its cohesiveness and that definitely affects the development in a negative way. Of course, in this particular section, I’m afraid it’s hard for me to compartmentalize and speak only of the merits of this new film when I liked the older one so well. When you compare this story line to the older one, it hardly holds a candle to it simply because the older one went more in depth in the story, which ultimately made the film more interesting and allowed the uncertainty to remain at the end of the movie. This rendition ends in a rather conclusive way, and that is disappointing for someone who goes in expecting a repackaging of an old film. But objectively, this film’s story development isn’t bad! It’s just pushed out of the spotlight by the unnecessarily long action sequences.

Ultimately, this film wasn’t BAD. It was just not what I expected going in. As with all movies, you have to know what to expect going in. If you’re thinking it’s going to be the same film that was released in 90 with new actors, you’re wrong. You have to realize that it’s a completely different film and put all preconceived notions aside and just pretend it’s a new concept. Otherwise, you’ll end up disappointed with it, like me. Objectively though, this film really was worth the money, just not what I expected. The visuals and cast were great, and if you’re looking for the typical action movie, this is perfect. Beware the trip-nip-slip toward the beginning if you’re taking your kids, but past that, it’s mainly just the violence that lands the PG-13 rating. See the movie! But don’t expect it to be the same as Arnold’s.

I’ll be back.

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The Grey is, unfortunately, a Liam Neeson movie that I was thoroughly disappointed with. Now, typically I’m not so up in arms when a movie isn’t realistic, but when a movie like this comes out, in which the main purpose is to simulate real survival situations, realism begins to play a much more important role… or so you’d think. The Grey is so entirely full of logical fallacy that… I can’t even think of a sarcastic comment to describe it. It was just bad. I’ll admit, it wasn’t the worst movie I’ve ever seen (shout out to you Knowing and 2012) but it’s certainly up… erm, down, there.

Not only does it not make sense logically, but there is very little character development along the course of the film, and more importantly, none that evoke any emotion. Sure there are a few flashbacks into Neeson’s character’s (I never even caught half of their names) past, but they don’t give you any information even though the film makes you believe that these flashback moments are his driving force. He had a wife? Cool. He had a stereotypical Irish dad? Awesome. There’s nothing in that to substantiate his actions throughout the film. I would even understand if these flashbacks built up suspense or indicated that there was something more, but they were literally the same flashbacks repeated about 4 times each until the very end of the movie. Compared to other Neeson films, this was terrible. Compared to other movies in general… this was still pretty terrible.

Going back to the gaping holes in the logic, a lot of that has to do with the misrepresentation of the wolves throughout the whole film. For instance, the wolves are deterred by fire early in the film when the plane first crashes and they just built a fire. Yet when the guy on look out grabs a torch and goes to relieve himself, the wolves attack him… right next to a fire. This inconsistency occurs about 7 times throughout the film, and leads to a general apathy towards the action of the character’s because it was written in such a way that they can’t win. These are magic wolves. Secondly, wolves don’t just approach people. And even if they did, they certainly wouldn’t just kill someone and then leave. They kill to eat. Which leads me to my third point. It’d be fairly hard for wolves to kill a man when each of these wolves, at full maturity, is about 100 lbs, and each of these men are at least 200 and have knives and fire and McGyvered boom sticks. Most wolves cower at the approach of a human anyway, so the fact that they’re attacking an armed group of 7 is just ridiculous. If you feel the urge to unearth more problems in the representation of these wolves in this film, click here. Other cases in which the logic just wasn’t applied: when one of the character’s was plummeting off the edge of a snow covered cliff and his friend grabs the rope from which he hangs, he doesn’t slide across the snow… Snow tends to be slick. Also, in -10 degree weather, jumping into a river that would be even colder would probably put you in shock, or at least leave you without the ability to walk away fine within 5 minutes of walking out of the river.

Moreover, it was obvious that the big money was put into the visuals. The wolves, while entirely unrealistic, were stunning and looked great. Most of the scenes looked amazing, even though the falling snow, at times, looked a little bit like it was just an after effect. One scene I was a little thrown by was one of the first scenes near the river. It almost looked like they used a green screen, but that may have just been viewing angle or something. With the exclusion of that scene, everything looked great, so it wasn’t all bad! Just the plot, and the execution, and the character development…

After some discussion with a few other people I saw the movie with, they were under the impression (as is a good portion of the population of movie critics) that this film wasn’t about wolves at all, but is an allegory used to show how men react and bond in life threatening situations. So they postulate that this is more a reactionary film rather than a realistic film. However, even if it is one to show characters’ development in response to a terrifying situation (war, etc.), it would help if the danger they were presented with was at least plausible. And I already threw in my two cents regarding the character development. Sure some of them curse at God and change mindsets a little, but the big problem here is that we have no base to compare these changes to! Maybe Neeson’s character had a history of doubting the existence of God, we just don’t know, because we cannot compare it to anything. If it was intended to be an allegorical tale, it was missing that key step of introducing the characters effectively before the traumatic event.

In conclusion, I’m personally glad that I didn’t have to pay for a movie ticket to this. I would not recommend this film to anyone to be honest. While it wasn’t the worst film I’ve ever seen, it certainly is one of the worst I’ve seen in a while. This is doubly disappointing because I generally love Liam Neeson, but even his decent performance couldn’t compensate for this film’s lack of logic or story. If you want to spend money to see a movie, and you’re dead set on a Liam Neeson movie, go watch Taken. Or A-Team. Or anything he was in that isn’t The Grey. Do yourself the favor and save the disappointment.

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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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Hello and welcome to the first review of this fascinating blog called The Reel Reviewer! I went and saw Salt (starring Angelina Jolie, Chiwetel Ejiofor, and Liev Schreiber) today and overall it exceeded my expectations of the film. From the sneak preview given by USA as well as the interview I saw with Jolie, it looked as though this film was going to be a completely mindless action flick with absolutely no plot and was pleasantly surprised. If you haven’t figured out what it’s about yet, here’s a quick snippet of the summary from IMDb. “As a CIA officer, Evelyn Salt swore an oath to duty, honor and country. Her loyalty will be tested when a defector accuses her of being a Russian spy. Salt goes on the run, using all her skills and years of experience as a covert operative to elude capture. Salt’s efforts to prove her innocence only serve to cast doubt on her motives, as the hunt to uncover the truth behind her identity continues and the question remains: ‘Who is Salt?’” So to start off, the acting was great! Jolie did an outstanding job as Salt, but that comes as no surprise seeing as this is her sort of movie. She’s an action movie actress. Regardless, I thought she did an outstanding job, as did the rest of the cast. Schreiber and the dude who plays Peabody (there’s no chance that I’ll ever spell his name correctly. It’s like his parents spilled the game of scrabble they were playing and named him using the face up letters) do great jobs as well. I’ll try not to give too much away, but there are definitely some twists in this movie. I thing I didn’t like about this movie is unbelievable turn the plot took, and I don’t mean unbelievable in the good way. The threat level after Salt is accused of being a Russian Spy goes from the assassination of the Russian President to the destruction of the freakin’ world. That’s all I’ll say to keep from giving up the end, but that’s the turn it takes, and it goes from being a threat that’s plausible to a threat that’s plausibility is atrociously minuscule. That’s just how it goes. This is definitely not a thinking movie. This is one of those movies you watch to escape reality and not think about the outside world. It absorbs you into the film and then you don’t have to think through much of it. There are plenty of flashbacks which help with Salt’s character development quite nicely, but otherwise, this movie is basically a fast-paced action movie with a somewhat interesting plot and enough energy to keep your mind occupied for the duration of the film.