Category: Movies


Movie Tour: The Campaign

Katie and I recently had some good friends from Texas visit us at our new home.  One afternoon, we decided that we were going to take in a movie together.  The four of us always enjoyed watching Will Ferrell movies together, so it just seemed natural to go watch The Campaign while they were here.  So, that’s today’s Movie Tour movie.

Plot Summary

 

In The Campaign, Will Ferrell plays Cam Brady, a long-time congressman from North Carolina, who thinks he is running unopposed in the upcoming election, only to find out that Zach Galifianakis’ Marty Huggins has decided to run against him, backed by some sleazy CEOs who want to take advantage of the gullible Huggins.  What follows is a behind the scenes take on running for political office in America.  It’s almost like a documentary… (okay, not really, but you catch my cynicism).

Review

This movie had the potential to be one of the funniest movies of the summer.  Of course, I don’t remember there being a whole lot of comedies that came out this summer, so the bar was set pretty low to begin with.  However, even with a low standard set, I feel like The Campaign fell way short.  Ferrell and Galifianakis are two of the funniest guys in the business right now, but when comedies rely on gross out humor and inappropriate sexual situations to get their “funny” across, they are always going to fall short in my book.  Galifianakis is hilarious in this movie, and he plays the clean, gullible guy very well, and Ferrell is usually very good or very inappropriate, and in The Campaign, inappropriate was the path he took, and it really ruined the movie.  There were some parts that were very, very funny, but overall, it just stepped over the line way too much for me.

Recommendation

If you really want to see it, wait for it to come out on Netflix.  That way, you’re not wasting any of your money to take it in.  In reality, though, you aren’t missing anything by not watching it.  Don’t waste your time.

Best Part

I remember there being a fair amount of times that I laughed during the movie, even though a lot of the content was lacking.  Mostly, I think, it was the fart jokes… because I’m still 15 at times.  The best part of this movie, however, really was Zach Galifianakis as Marty Huggins.  He played the role very well, and had me laughing most of the time.

 

 

Movie Tour: The Avengers

Today’s Movie Tour goes back a couple of months to The Avengers, a movie that quickly broke all sorts of box office records.

Plot Summary

The Avengers is the culmination of several movies over the last few years starring Marvel comic book heroes.  Iron Man, Iron Man 2, Captain America, Thor, The Incredible Hulk – all of them were building towards this movie… and the movies that will come afterwards.  In this turn, the heroes are finally brought together to face humanity’s biggest threat, brought to Earth by Thor’s mischievous, scorned brother Loki.  They have to join together if the Earth is going to have a chance to survive.

Review

One of the biggest problems that we often encounter in large-scale movies such as The Avengers is that there is rarely any focus to the storyline and the characters.  The filmmakers tend to want to include so much about the background of all the different characters, and their individual story lines, that it ends up being a lot of very little, and the focus is just gone.  Having movies dedicated to each of the characters beforehand helped alleviate that problem in The Avengers.  We are already familiar with Hulk, Thor, Captain America and Iron Man.  To a lesser extent, we have also been introduced to Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow and Clint Barton/Hawkeye, as side characters in these other movies.  Because of this, The Avengers is able to focus more on the story itself, and executes it well.

Recommendation

Now, given the amount of money that this movie made in the theaters, there’s a good bet that you’ve already seen it.  So, what recommendation is there left for me to give?  Buy the DVD.  I believe I just saw a commercial yesterday saying that it is coming out sometime in the next few weeks.  Just go buy it.

Best Part

I’m at a bit of a disadvantage here because it was a few months ago that I saw it, so trying to remember the best part is not easy.  Ultimately, I’d have to say that seeing the team come together and work together was really the best part.

Movie Tour: The Dark Knight Rises

I’ve fallen a little behind on my movie reviews this summer.  It coincides with  not blogging for quite a while.  So, it’s time to catch up with two of the biggest movies to be released this summer.  First up, The Dark Knight Rises

Plot Summary

The Dark Knight Rises picks up where the blockbuster The Dark Knight left off.  Well, not exactly where it left off.  It’s a few years down the road – Batman hasn’t been seen, Bruce Wayne has become a bit of a recluse… and nobody has made the connection yet.  Gotham City has cracked down in a major way on crime with Commissioner Gordon at the helm.  But a mercenary by the name of Bane has popped up, causing a bit of a ruckus, leading to Batman making an appearance, and setting into motion an incredible conclusion to the Chris Nolan Batman Trilogy.

Review

I’ll admit right up front that I’m very biased.  I love the Batman movies… well, except for the ones made in the ’90’s… those were terrible, but with the reboot of Batman with Batman Begins, I have thoroughly enjoyed the recent Batman movies.  They are very well done, and keep you on the edge of your seat throughout.  In that sense, The Dark Knight Rises does not disappoint.  There is enough going on to keep you engaged and guessing, but most importantly, keep you in the movie.  Now, I will say that it is not as good as it’s predecessor, The Dark Knight, but there are not a lot of movies out there that are.

Recommendation

If you haven’t seen it already… what’s wrong with you?!?!?  Quite possibly the most anticipated movie of the year, it does not disappoint,  and it is well worth the 2.5 hours.  We did not see it in IMAX, but I’ve heard that the action sequences were specifically shot in IMAX, so that alone would make it worth the upcharge.

Best Part

The performances of two people new to the franchise add a lot to this movie.  Both Anne Hathaway as Selina Kile/Catwoman and Joseph Gordon-Levitt, as the idealistic cop John Blake are fantastic in their roles.  Hathaway in particular has taken the Catwoman role, which has tended to be very campy in other attempts (thanks, but no thanks, Michelle & Halle), to a new level.

Movie Tour: Wrath of the Titans

On vacation while Katie is at a conference in Richmond, VA.  I have some things that I’m working on while I’m here, but took the opportunity to get out and watch a movie.  Not a lot that is really worth going out for right now, but the summer blockbuster season is closing in fast, and soon, there will be too many that I want to see all at once.  Today’s: Wrath of the Titans.

Plot Summary

Wrath of the Titans picks up the story ten years after the conclusion of Clash of the Titans, which came out a couple years ago.  Perseus’ wife has passed away, so he and his son are trying to live a quiet life in a fishing village on the coast.  Zeus pays Perseus a visit and tells him of how he needs Perseus’ help to contain the Titan Kronos, who may be freed from his prison in the Underworld.

Review

Not long after I watched this movie, I tweeted: “The best word to describe it is: ‘Meh.'”  And that about sums it up.  It is a perfectly average movie.  I didn’t come out of the theater mad that I had seen it, but I wasn’t overwhelmed by it’s magnificence either.  It was basically the perfect definition of ‘average’.  The plot was almost identical to its predecessor Clash of the Titans – major problem, big quest, lots of monsters need to be fought, good guy wins.  There was nothing original or compelling about the plot.  I didn’t get the sense that I should be emotionally invested in any of the characters or their outcomes.  The CGI work was pretty good, I’ll say that.  But, in a movie like this, it had better be good because there’s nothing else redeemable about it.

Recommendation

This is tricky.  If you liked the original Clash of the Titans, then you’ll like this one.  I thought it was okay, but forgettable.  If you have no interest whatsoever in special effects and fight scenes, then this movie isn’t for you because that’s what it hangs its hat on – that, and nothing else.  Also, don’t waste your money watching it in 3D.  There’s no reason for it.

Best Part

Bill Nighy plays Hephaestus and is pretty entertaining for the 10-15 minutes that he has on the screen.  There is also a good subplot line of forgiveness and redemption, but I don’t want to say too much about that.

Movie Tour: The Hunger Games

Katie and I have had a busy several days.  So, we decided that we needed some time to go out on a date, and we did.  She finished reading The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, and then we went to see the movie.  I read the book last July, and you can read my review of the book here.  But, I’m here to review the movie now.

Plot Summary

The Hunger Games takes place in dystopian future in a land known as Panem (which was once known as the United States).  Panem consists of the Capitol and twelve (formerly thirteen) districts.  In the history of Panem, the districts rose up in rebellion against the Capitol, and once the rebellion was put down, it was decreed that each district would have to enter one boy and one girl between the ages of 12-18 to enter into The Hunger Games, which is a fight to the death in which there can be only one victor.  The book and movie begin at The Reaping, which is when the contestants are chosen in a drawing.  Katniss Everdeen, the leading character, comes from District 12, which is a poor district found in the Appalachians.  It is a mining district, which appears to produce two things: coal and despair.  The Hunger Games follows Katniss as she volunteers (in place of her 12 year old sister), trains and fights in the Games.

Review

I’m always a little leery of watching a movie that is based on a book, especially when I read the book.  Too often there are important details changed or added in the movies that don’t seem very necessary.  This is a struggle I’m currently having with HBO series Game of Thrones after listening to the first 2.5 books, and I’m only one episode in.  One positive that I noticed as the credits rolled is that Suzanne Collins, the author of the book, is given credit for screenplay as well, which means that she probably had a hand in the adaptation to the screen.  I think if more authors had more control in the production, book adaptations may actually have some hope.  Otherwise, Hollywood tries to spice things up that don’t really need any extra spice (see: The Lost World – “Mommy, there’s a dinosaur in the back yard;” quite possibly the worst adaptation ever).  I think that Collins’ work on the screenplay made the movie so much more faithful to the book than I could have hoped for.  The movie is very well done.  The characters are played perfectly.  Elizabeth Banks’ role as Effie Trinket was every bit as over the top and oblivious as she seems in the book, and the other actors/actresses played their roles incredibly well also.

Recommendation

Go see it. Yes, it has been hyped a lot.  And, yes, it is totally worth the hype.  There are a lot of people who don’t like the premise of the book/movie, but, in reality, that’s because they boil it down to “kids killing kids” without really knowing anything about the book or the movie.  In fact, it is about kids killing kids, but if you leave it there, you are missing a lot.  It is a story of love, sacrifice, friendship and what it must be like living in the type of dystopian future that Collins created in the book.

Best Part

I’m a little torn on this.  In some respects, I want to say that the best part is the faithfulness to the original story.  There are a handful of things that are different from the book, but such changes are understandable given the time allotments for a movie.  There are no major changes in the important details, and that is huge.  Apart from that, though, I think my favorite part of the movie was during The Reaping when Katniss’ sister Prim is selected.  The self-sacrifice of Katniss to take the place of her sister had my heart pounding.  It was pretty emotional, and really set the tone for everything else that followed.  Of course, the worst part of it all is the fact that we have to wait until November 2013 to see the second book on the big screen.

Movie Tour: Hugo

We took our oldest niece out for her annual birthday movie and dinner.  Her birthday is in July, but even back then, she said that she wanted to see Hugo, which didn’t come out until just a couple of weeks ago.

Plot Summary

Hugo is about a boy who lives at the train station.  He takes care of the clocks and makes sure they keep running.  Meanwhile, he is working on fixing a small man-like machine.  The movie is about his interactions with the family of a man who has a shop in the train station.

Review

Hugo was a cute movie.  I found myself wondering how it was all going to come together, and, wouldn’t you know it, it did.  The visuals are incredible.  I’m still not certain as to why this movie is out in 3D, like so many other movies these days.  I like 3D because it adds depth to the screen, but those stupid glasses give me a headache!  Anyhoo!  The actors all did a fine job, and the story was very well done.

Recommendation

This is a fun movie.  I would definitely recommend seeing it, though I might suggest waiting until it comes out on DVD.  Unless you like 3D and the glasses don’t bother you, then go ahead and see it in the theaters.  It’s worth the time.

Best Part

I think I had two best parts.  One related to the movie itself, and one not so much.  First, I think the way the story is told, and how everything that seems disconnected comes together is great.  Watching the plot unfold was a lot of fun.  Second, when I finally realized what movie other I had seen with the young lady that plays a “key” role in the movie.  Hint: she plays Hit Girl in that movie.  Don’t you hate it when you can’t place a face?

Movie Tour: The Muppets

Katie and I got to see a couple of movies this past weekend.  I’ll save one of the reviews for next week, and this week, I’ll review The Muppets, which we saw with our 5-year old niece.


Plot Summary

Gary, his girlfriend Mary and his brother Walter (who is a Muppet), go on vacation to Los Angeles, and one of their stops is Muppet Studios (because Gary and Walter have grown up on the Muppets).  They find the Studios in complete shambles, and Walter discovers that a rich oil barren is planning on buying the Studios and tearing them down so he can drill for the oil that is underneath.  In order to save Muppet Studios, they have to get the gang back together and raise $10 million.

Review

In the tradition of the previous Muppet movies, The Muppets is filled with gags, silliness and some scattered heart-felt moments.  Guest appearances are all over the place, and if you go more than ten minutes without a laugh… you have no soul.  It stands in the greatness of other Muppet movies.

Recommendation

Go see it.  Stop reading right now, and find the closest showing to wherever you are.

Best Part

Really, the best part of the movie is the fact that it was even made.  It is funny throughout, so singling out a single gag wouldn’t really do it justice.

I’ve seen a glut of movies in the last couple of weeks, which is good… because I wanted to.  However, there were few movies that looked as good to me as this one when I started watching the trailers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Plot Summary

Rise of the Planet of the Apes is a prequel for the Planet of the Apes series which originally came out in 1968 starring Charlton Heston, and was remade in 2001 with Marky Mark… errr… Mark Wahlberg.  If you’ve watched the trailer, you know what it is about.  It’s about a chimpanzee by the name of Caesar who is incredibly smart – through unnatural processes – and leads an ape revolution… or is it?

Review

I have to say, this is one of my Top 2 movies of the summer to this point.  I really liked Captain America, and I really liked this one.  Of the two, I’m not sure which one I liked better, so that’s saying a lot.  It is definitely better than any other movie that I have seen this summer, and, if you’ve been following the blog this summer, you know that I’ve seen quite a few.  The story is great.  The characters are interesting, and watching it unfold is amazing.  All this AND the effects are incredible.

Recommendation

As you can probably imagine, I definitely recommend seeing it.  In fact, you should probably stop reading this right now and get to your closest theater.  It’s one of the few movies that I would pay full price to see again, that’s how much I liked it.

Best Part

There are a lot of nods to the original, which are certain to make you smile.  The opening scene is a major nod to the opening of the original, and Tom Felton gets to repeat Heston’s memorable line: “Get your hands off me, you damn, dirty ape!”

Movie Tour: Captain America

The second movie that I saw last week while Katie was away was Captain America.

Plot Summary

Steve Rodgers is a wee little man.  Seriously, he’s like 90 pounds of skin and bone.  But he has courage and a big heart.  Though he has been rejected several times, he still tries to enlist so he can go overseas and fight the Nazis in World War II.  He is selected to be a test subject for an experimental serum, which will enhance everything about him.  He then becomes Captain America, and must face a foe who used an earlier form of the same serum.

Review

This was a great movie.  It was a lot of fun, and it reminded me a lot of what a superhero movie really should be.  It gives us an understanding of the character.  It gives us some good background on who he is and how he got to be that way.  And, besides, who doesn’t like seeing a few Nazis getting the snot knocked out of them?  The more I think about it, the more I feel like this was the better of the two movies I saw last week, and that’s not a knock on Cowboys & Aliens.

Recommendation

It’s worth your time.  It is a wholesome movie with a lot of action in it.  There is some violence – it does take place in World War II, so what else would you expect – but it’s not over the top, and they don’t dwell on any of it.  And I have to say, the CGI they did on Chris Evans to make him look like that 90 pound weakling was incredible.  Likewise, it’s good that Hugo Weaving was able to finally show his true face as the Red Skull… oh wait, that was probably make-up…

Best Part

The night before the experiment, Dr. Erskine sits and talks with Rodgers who is a little jittery.  Erskine says, “The serum amplifies everything that is inside.  So, good becomes great.  Bad becomes worse.  This is why you were chosen.  Because a strong man, who has known power all his life, will lost respect for that power.  But a weak man knows the value of strength.  And knows compassion.”  Maybe it’s the pastor in me that’s coming out, but I couldn’t help but think of Jesus when he said that.  Good stuff.

Movie Tour: Cowboys & Aliens

Katie had two days worth of meetings in Indy this week, which means I had two days entirely by myself – which can be really, really boring.  Since it’s been a busy couple of weeks, and since I had a long meeting scheduled in the evening, I took Tuesday afternoon off to catch a couple of movies.  The first one was Cowboys & Aliens, starring Daniel Craig, Harrison Ford and Thirteen… errr, Olivia Wilde.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Plot Summary

A man wakes up in the middle of the desert with no recollection of who he is.  On his left arm is a strange device that won’t come off.  He finds his way to the nearest town, and starts to learn a little more about who he is – a wanted criminal.  As a showdown is about to take place with the big man in town, strange lights appear on the horizon, and alien spaceships start kidnapping people.  Everyone puts aside their differences to track down what happened to the people and discover something that goes far beyond anything they could have ever imagined.

Review

I have to admit, this is the movie that I was most interested in seeing at the beginning of the summer.  Director John Favreau (Iron Man) always seems to do fun movies and the concept was very interesting.  It’s a western with aliens… or is it a sci-fi movie set in the Old West… either way, it’s a lot of fun.  One thing that did kind of bother me was the fact that there is a twist that you expect as the movie unfolds because of the trailer.  I won’t give it away, but you won’t be terribly surprised by it when it happens.

Recommendation

This is just a fun summer blockbuster, which is exactly what it was supposed to be.  There actually is a little bit of commentary on religion in the first third of the movie because there is a country preacher that takes part in the posse.  I’d have to watch it again with a pad and paper to go into much about it.  There’s a lot of action (which you know is one of my requirements), and the storyline isn’t terrible (which is another of my requirements – I set a low bar…).  It’s worth seeing.  You may want to catch the matinee or wait for it to come to the cheap theater, but it’s one I’ll watch from time to time in the future.

Best Part

There wasn’t really any single part of the movie that jumped out at me as I was watching it that I could label as the “Best Part”.  I will say, though, that after seeing this and watching the newest James Bond movies, Daniel Craig is pretty awesome.  So that’s something…