movie

My Short Review of X-Men Origins: Wolverine

It's Wolverine, bub!

First off, I hated the title of this film.  It's more suited as a comic book title then a film title.  I think they could have gotten away with Wolverine.  Non-fanboys would have known who Wolverine was, at least I think. I know he's no Superman or Batman, but the target audience knows who Wolverine is. Well, onto the film itself.

As an origins story, it provided pretty minimal grit to understanding the man who is Wolverine in all the X-Men films. The story starts off with James / Logan as a boy and by the end of the opening credits he's a man.  The opening credits helped the film along similar to Watchmen, covering enough history to get to a fair starting point for the story.  Well, what there is of a story.

I found the story weak and confusing at times. There are too many characters and story points to be compressed within the 107 minute for the film. You can't grasp any sense of who these characters are and why you should hate or care for them. It's cool to see Gambit and Deadpool on the big screen, but it'd just as interesting to play them in a video game then watch them in this film again.

The fight scenes were on par with other X-Men films.  But oddly the special effects seem to be worse.  I would say the original X-Men film had better special effects than some of the scenes in this film. If you can wait for this film to come out on DVD, I'd say do so.  It should be out by the end of the year.

Rating: Rental

My Short Review of Star Trek

The crew of the Enterprise 2009

I tried to set my expectations low for this movie, hoping it would be good. Looking back I didn't need to do this, as the movie succeeds on many levels.  This incarnation of Star Trek is accessible to both those familiar with and those new to Star Trek.  The story involves time travel - of course it does, it's Star Trek and J.J. Abrams - Romulans, Vulcans, and everything else in between.  I think the only thing that was missing was a Klingon.

The casting worked brilliantly, even having Winona Ryder as Spock's mom worked.  The special effects helped, not hindered, the story's progression.  There were to things that annoyed me: (1) the amount of lens flares in the movie, and (2) Pavel Chekov's accent. The latter annoyed me only because of the amount of lines Anton Yelchin, who plays Chekov, had to speak.  I would have preferred more lines from Simon Pegg, who plays the lovable Scotty.

Rating: Full Admission

Marely & Me - My Short Review

Puppies. Evil puppies.

Another one of those feel good movies.  But if you know your dog movies, then you know what'll happen. Yeah, it happens, but not after Marely gets a hold of your heart. Wow, did I just write that? If you've seen the trailer, then you've pretty much seen the whole movie. Jennifer Aniston and Owen Wilson are likable, but there characters, and the story, really don't go anywhere. The movie won't rot your brain, but it won't stimulate it either.

Rating: Cable TV

Slumdog Millionaire

I think there's something on your face.

I finally watched the Oscar-winning-feel-good-movie-of-the-year on DVD.  Yes, the actors are likable. Yes, the story is predictable. Yes, I'll watch it if it's on cable television, but I don't think I'll buy the DVD or rent it again.  If you have two hours to spend on a movie, this isn't a bad choice.  You won't have to think about the plot points too much, and it'll make you, well, feel good.

Rating: Cable TV

Australia

Watched Baz Lurman's Australia on blu-ray this weekend. The movie seemed to be two movies in one. The first part was light and breezy. The second half had a more serious tone. Fair acting by most of the cast. Some of Nicole Kidman's hysterics were getting on my nerves though. The film is beautifully shot, with gorgeous scenery throughout the film. If you watch it in HD or blu-ray you may enjoy it more.

Rating: Cable TV

How I Rate Movies

I'm changing the way I rate movies reviews on the site. I started with an old standby - the letter grade. I recently moved to a liked it slash didn't like it scale, but I found that didn't have much flexibility. It was too black and white. Now, I'm moving to actually a scale Farrah and I use in the real world. The scale, which I am sure is used somewhere else, is based on how much you are will to pay to see a movie.

The scale is as follows:

  • Full Admission - Willing to pay for a full price theater ticket, especially on a crowded Friday night.
  • Matinee - See it in a theater, but do it as cheap as possible.
  • Rental (DVD, Blu-ray, whatever media you choose) - See it right when it hits the retail market.
  • Cable TV - You can wait until it shows up on cable to watch.

I'm sure there are other ratings that can be placed in there (e.g. cheap theaters, broadcast television) but I don't find those ideal situations to watch most movies. Plus I don't have a cheap theater near me and broadcast television has too many commercials to suffer through.

Here are a few samples of movies I've reviewed and how I would rate them on this new scale:

  • Full Admission - 300, The Dark Knight, Wall-E, Juno
  • Matinee - Quantum of Solace, Grand Torino, Knocked Up
  • Rental - Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Transformers
  • Cable TV - Nights in Rodanthe, Spider-Man 3

This makes sense, right?

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button - Quick Review

On a previous version of janella.com…

…when I would write a movie review it would long. Time is short, so my new movie reviews - when I have a chance to watch a movie - will be short. It won’t be extremely insightful, but it will convey what I feel about the movie.

For The Curious Case of Benjamin Button:

Brad Pitt grows young while Cate Blanchett grows old. Acting done well by both, and Fincher’s direction was spot on. But the ending left me unsatisfied.

Grade: C-

Review - The Dark Knight: IMAX Experience

Anyone who knows me knows that Batman is my favorite comic book character.  When The Dark Knight was announced, I couldn't be more excited to see it.  After all, I think Chris Nolan did a great job with Batman Begins.  With my high expectations - believe me, I tried to lower them - Farrah and I headed into the IMAX theater at the Metreon to watch The Dark Knight.  Did we like it?  What do you think?

Following my standard review format, here's what I thought of the Dark Knight.

The Netflix summary:

Batman (Christian Bale) teams with Lt. James Gordon (Gary Oldman) and District Attorney Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhart) to continue dismantling Gotham City's criminal organizations in this sequel to Batman Begins. But a psychotic new villain known as the Joker (Heath Ledger) threatens to undo all their good work. The star-studded cast includes Maggie Gyllenhaal, Morgan Freeman, Anthony Michael Hall, Michael Caine and Eric Roberts.

What I Liked

The acting all around was great.  By know you've heard Heath Ledger does a great job as the Joker.  Farrah and I, as well as probably many others, found this a sad fact. It was such a well rounded, strong and memorable performance. It is a shame we will no longer see him on screen. But the acting by Christian Bale, Eckhart, Gyllenhall, and others are on par with Ledger, making this a well rounded Gotham City.

Gotham City itself is impressive, as is Batman's journey to other places.  The cool toys are just enough to get by, and the movie moves at an impressive pace.  It does not slow down, making the 152 minutes fly by.

What I Didn't Enjoy

I still have an issue with Bale's Batman voice, something I pointed out in my review of Batman Begins. It's scary, I suppose, but something just does not click with me when he's talking.

Final Thoughts

I would not thought it possible, but The Dark Knight exceeded my expectations.  For me tops Iron Man (**** out of 5) and Indiana Jones (***) as my favorite film of the summer.

Rating: ***** out of 5

Review - Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

I wasn't sure what to expect when Farrah and I sat down to watch the latest Indiana Jones film.  It has been nineteen years between the last movie in the trilogy - well, I guess it's no longer a trilogy but a series of films - with many action films to wow us during that time.  Could Indiana deliver the 'wow factor' still?

The short answer is yes.

OK, here is the Netflix summary of the movie:

Hollywood icon Harrison Ford returns to the role of the adventurous archaeologist Indiana Jones nearly 20 years after he last donned the famous fedora and bullwhip to save the world from imminent peril. Joining Ford for this latest installment of the Steven Spielberg-George Lucas collaboration are Academy Award winner Cate BlanchettRay WinstoneJim BroadbentKaren AllenJohn Hurt and Shia LaBeouf as Jones's headstrong young sidekick.

Not much of a summary, huh.  The movie takes place 19 years after the last one, placing the movie action in 1957,  This changes the bad guys from the Nazi to Communist Russians. The action begins in Nevada, then moves to the university where Indy teaches, to parts in South America.  The action is fluid and almost non-stop, just what you expect from an Indiana Jones film.

What I Liked

It's great to see Harrison Ford back in the saddle as Indiana Jones.  After a string of so so films (e.g. Firewall, Hollywood Homicide, and Random Hearts to name a few), it's good to see Ford not losing a beat with the Indiana character. He just slips back into character like a comfortable pair of shoes.

The supporting cast proves pretty solid as well.  Karen Allen is the only returning character from the Indiana Jones mythology, and it's great to see her next to Ford.  The rest of the actors provide solid support, with Cate Blanchett proving to be a nasty foe.

As I mentioned previously, the action sequences are what you expect an Indy film.  They were long enjoyable sequences, well most of them were.

What I Did Not Enjoy

Some of the latter action sequences involved a level of CGI which was noticeable. Due to the nature of the film's content toward the end of the film (it involves some science fiction elements), the use of CGI was difficult to avoid.

Final Thoughts

It's great to be in the world of Indiana Jones again. I say don't hesitate and go see it. It may not live up to your previous Indy experiences, but could it really? Believe me once you hear the theme music and see the iconic fedora on Harrison Ford's skull, you'll forget about your expectations and just go along with the ride.