In Flight Entertainment

So the 747 had some really good movies to choose from (mostly new ones), the Lord of the Rings Trilogy (non-extended), the original Italian job, even Looper. So I chose some off my 2012 list of things to see. It’s been about a week since I saw them, been quite a week too, so once again it’s the not-so-detailed reviews.

I started with Brave. Well what people say was true, it plays out a lot more like a Disney princess tale than a standard Pixar tale. The score was forgettable except in its very Disney-esque tone. There were songs, characters SINGING, something we’ve never seen in Pixar, but a STAPLE of Disney princess movies. It followed the same very predictable formula too. It really felt a lot like The Little Mermaid, but Scottish. Now I say that it FELT like that, not that it was that, similar elements and plot flow. It was really predictable. The visuals were quite good, they had our lead ACTUALLY FOLLOW THROUGH on her archery, something I’m surprised you don’t see often (Legolas I’m looking at you but speaking to everyone). I loved the voice acting, it was actually Scottish with Scottish actors, not so hard is it? Not bad, but definitely a weak link of Pixar films, nothing special honestly.

End of Watch, further proof that Jake Gyllenhal is a fantastic actor. I saw that it was a pretty good movie, but had heard very little else about it, so I went in thinking it’d be pretty good. It was actually spectacular to me. Jake and Michael Peña (dude I typed the ñ shortcut from memory having not done so in like 5 years :D ) really make this movie work. The whole film plays up their brotherhood, and the two of them sell the hell out of brothers. What End of Watch also does FANTASTICALLY is tension. You know exactly what’s going to happen, but still am nervous for it, there is just enough possibility of the unknown. Now that could be because I started watching this movie really late and I was tired, but I like to believe the movie did it on its own. Now I will spoil a TAD, it ends on a downward note. BUT after that down note it has the mind to give us a flashback that will bring a smile to our faces as we leave the theater. I’m sorry I can’t go into more detail with this one, I really liked it and feel like it should get more attention than it got.

So after that I attempted to sleep, I got about 3-4 hours of pseudo-sleep. After that I decided for another movie, Little Miss Sunshine. Dysfunction at its finest. Each actor brings their A game. It’s really refreshing to see Steve Carrell play a serious role AND be good at it. It was a good choice to give it the best screenplay Academy Award in its year. Funny, but still quite serious, those are not the easiest elements to balance. A good movie, quite solid.

SO, it’s gonna be a while til I have something new to review, so it’s back to those I’ve already seen. Thanks for reading!

Flying day

I wrote this on the plane (yes i know it’s a week ago, but I’ve only now got reliable internet)

Ok, so I’m writing this on the plane. It’s currently…1:00 where I’m from, And I still have ~8 hours left til we get to Auckland. I’ve taken pictures, but can’t post them, kinda in a plane. Yes I’m gonna go get sleep, but first I want to talk about my experience so far before I forget it. Bear with me, it may be a bit rambling, but at this point I doubt it’ll all still be in my head after I sleep. it’s been a long day.

Started at about 7 this morning, at the airport a little after 9. Spent better part of 2 hours waiting for my first plane. That flight was a cakewalk, spent most of it doing logic puzzles, yes I’m 10 all over again and quite frankly I love it. Then I got to SFO (that’s San Francisco Airport). I picked my bags up again, and proceeded to spend the next 3 hours carting them around and waiting. Silly Patrick, shoulda done your homework, then you would have known that Air NZ will not let you check in until 3 hours before your flight, there isn’t even a desk for it til then. After security, the terminal was eerily quiet. I fly a ton, I’m used to the din of airports. To see it…well not silent, but certainly quiet, was almost unsettling.

The 747 we’re flying to Auckland really is massive, never been on one before. Still only got my coffin space for shoulder room, but at least I’ve got the aisle. We got dinner, it was (as expected) pretty lousy, about par with Caf food. Got free wine to go with it tho, that was nice, wasn’t half bad either. Then there’s the entertainment, you get your own screen, attached are about 75 movies. I chose to watch Brave and then End of Watch, knocking two more off my list of things to see from 2012 (I’ll review them in another post). Problem was the sound, my headphones don’t really work since the ports on the plane take two plugs. Mine would work as long as I didn’t touch them, being in my coffin, easier said than done. The alternative was the provided headphones. Now they gave me a nicer pair than normal since I volunteered to switch so a couple could sit together, no loss to me, I went form Aisle seat to aisle seat about 10 feet forward. The problem with those was if I nudged them in some particular way (still not sure what exactly) they screech like banshee in my ears >.<. My legs and rear are killing me, seats are far from nice, but it’s what I got, the occasional lap of the economy section does help. And that takes us up to now.

I think I might just put all the photos in my photobucket account and just link the blog there (with an exception here and there. Well I’m off, try to sleep and all. Night folks!

A year in review

I will give brief thoughts on the movies i saw this year (not all in theaters). I’m gonna stick with ones that came out this year also. RIGHT THEN

The Hunger Games: This was my last review, and I must say it doesn’t hold up. Every time i looked back at it, I liked it less. When i saw it again after it came out it really was mediocre. the effects were lousy, the story really was betrayed, not in the details, but in the elimination of theme. There is no more hunger struggle, her oppressive loneliness in the games is eliminated. not terrible, but not very good any more.

Cabin in the Woods: I LOVED THIS MOVIE, though i can understand why people wouldn’t. I can’t really go into all the little things i love about it without spoiler reveals, so i won’t. I will say that it is a meta-horor film. a horror movie about making a horror movie. Good meta-cinema is solid gold to me. Just trust me when i say you should give it a watch, I won’t guarantee you’ll love it, but It’s a fairly safe bet if you ask me.

The Avengers: Definitely one of the best movies this year. There’s a reason i love Joss Whedon, he is GREAT at balancing the group. The dialogue was absolutely fabulous. The story was good, graphics were really good. One thing i love is the one long (compound) shot going from hero to hero watching them all using their powers beautifully. I mean c’mon Iron Man shoots an enemy by reflecting off Captain’s shield, pretty bad-ass.

The Bourne Legacy: eh. Unremarkable. Probably would have been a little stronger had it just been its own franchise instead of attaching to Bourne.

Prometheus: It was really inconsistent, I did enjoy it. Parts were good, parts were lousy. I didn’t really get the giant starfish monster (you’ll understand if you see it).The graphics were always good. Rapace and Fassbender were fantastic, they kinda carried the show. Not perfect by any stretch, like Bourne probably would have been better if it didn’t try to attach to an existing franchise.

Moonrise Kingdom: I just saw this a few days ago actually. I really liked it. The two kids will find a great career in acting, at least they ought to. I loved the juxtaposition of such silly visuals with total deadpan humor.

The Dark Knight Rises: It’s not as good as the Dark Knight, bu that’s like saying Mount McKinley  is short since Mount Everest is taller (McKinley is the tallest mountain in North America). The acting and story were great and I love this rendition of Bane. The biggest problem is the movie expected us to take a lot of the exposition without explanation, and spent a little too much time telling instead of showing. Anne Hathaway was probably the standout, she was a lot of fun to watch.

Looper:I really love Joseph Gordon-Levitt. He and Emily Blunt in this movie were marvelous. Concepts were cool (just ignore that the science doesn’t really work) Good action. I particularly loved the part where the guy from the future suddenly found his limbs disappearing. I still need to watch it again since it’s been ~ 5 months since i saw it last and i really did enjoy it.

Skyfall: A Masterpiece. everyone has already said why this movie is amazing. throwbacks to old bond, good acting etc. What I loved was the cinematography and lighting. half the actions scenes have little to no light, several are done entirely in silhouette. I can say from experience that shooting in that little light is RE-E-E-EALLY hard to do. Not only do they do it, you never lose track of the characters, it’s quite clear what your seeing even though all there is to see is shadow. Probably my favorite part is the scene in front of the Jellyfish in Shanghai. It is definitely one of the well put-together Bond movies (if not THE best).

Lincoln: Daniel Day-Lewis has earned 2 oscars in 18 years. In that time he did about 10 films. This is another great example of why. He WAS Lincoln, the man doesn’t act, he becomes the character. It was greatly immersive, as my dad put it “one of the few movies i’ve seen where i REALLY felt like i was in the period” between lighting and dialogue it really felt like 1860′s America. Great movie.

The Hobbit: in one word: Lazy. It was entertaining, but overly simple. They could have done a lot more with the movie in my idea, with script, with acting, with music. It felt cheap. Part of the problem is making a bedtime story into an epic, especially trying to make it into 3 movies (I can understand 2).

Les Miserables: The most disappointing movie of the year. I love the musical. Heard that a movie was being made and got excited. saw the trailers and got totally psyched for it. Finally saw it and was crushed. The cinematography was awful. you can blame that one wanting to do live singing. Sure that got the emotions, but so often the music was abandoned. Everyone in the movie was really talented. This movie SHOULD be better, but it wasn’t. (I admit Anne Hathaway is as amazing as everyone says she is, good year for her).

Movies I want to see from 2012: Amazing Spider-man (have it now from Netflix), Dredd, Flight, Argo, Premium Rush, End of Watch, Brave, Wreck-it Ralph, Seven Psychopaths, Django Unchained

Those are what I saw this year (that came out this year). Enjoy

Miss Me?

To all my non-existent readers! I have been gone a long time, your silence discouraged me and I stopped caring about the blog, but now I’m back. We’re also undergoing a shift in content here at Serene Outlaw. Next week I will be departing to New Zealand for 6 months. I will be spending most of my time in Wellington working for Martin Square Productions. It will be awesome. ANYWAYS, the blog will now be bi-weekly updates (as required for my grade). It’ll be fun, I can still review movies, but need to talk also about how the internship is going.

In other news: Perfect Bench (my senior project) is nearing completion. I spent most of the semester prepping/shooting/editing this film. I quite like it. In my opinion it’s much better than Last Lies and Lasting Truths (which you can find on Youtube AND IMDB!!!!) and FAAAAR better than the music video. I hope that it ends up as amazing as it can, so far it’s fantastic.

I’ll be posting my year in review, awards and such. I will only give commentary of movies I saw, so if I didn’t? tough :)

Good to be back

May the Odds Be Ever in Your Favor

Yes I went to see The Hunger Games this weekend. After a lot of pressure from my friends, I read the series last week (3 books in 3 days, but that’s not that uncommon i hear). I was very impressed with the first and second, the third was quite disappointing after the setup from the first 2. An easy read that i recommend for most people. BUT YOU DIDN’T COME TO ‘HEAR’ ME REVIEW A BOOK. I shall refrain from just a comparison to the book, i could but I’m a movie critic for you guys. I just saw it this afternoon, but I’ve only seen it the one time so i might not be as detailed as I’ve been before. I may see it again at which point I might add some more, back to the point:

The Hunger Games

The world is in disarray, what’s left of us is 12 impoverished districts under the rule of the capitol. Enter our heroine: Katniss Everdeen, the names in this series are really bizarre, gotta trust the author. Katniss lives in the EXTREMELY poor twelfth district, in her free time she’s a hunter. Katniss finds herself in the unfortunate situation of representing her district in the Hunger Games, a death match in which 2 kids from each district are forced to compete by the capitol. Katniss and Peeta, her male counterpart must now overcome the odds and come out alive, but all the while be ready to kill each other, after all only one can survive. The whole situation is totally bonkers, a capitol forcing kids to kill each other and keeping all the constituents poor and why? to keep them obedient? right, that situation is a surefire formula for a revolution, wonder what’s gonna happen? The really is a watered-down version of Battle Royale, but that’s not a bad thing. Battle Royale was gritty and obscene to some. This way the same kind of message is conveyed but it’s still in the package of a blockbuster. I do believe it could have been better and more accurate to the book were they willing to go for an R rating, but then they lose a vast majority of the fanbase. All in all it really works, the elements are a bit cliche, but there is flow and the pacing is great, never really a distractingly slow moment.

Acting: This was the portion that impressed me the most, with a single viewing anyways. Jennifer Lawrence already impressed me between X-men First Class and Winter’s Bone, but her counterpart Josh Hutcherson, whom I’ve never seen really acting, managed to keep up marvelously. The two leads felt the parts without a break, their chemistry was great, and these two had to be in love for this film. Most of the remaining cast have rather underdeveloped characters in the movie, which is a shame, many of them had interesting characters in the book and could have been well done in a movie, but there need to be cuts. The one that surprised me the most was Woody Harrelson ad their trainer. His character has some subtle depth that i was worried would be ignored in the film, but Harrelson did a fine job, though they changed the character significantly. Good performances by those that matter.

Visual: With one viewing i haven’t had much time to observe the sights. What sticks out in my mind is some of the camera work. Much of the film is shot from a handheld, quite shaky. Now during the games this fits the mood and action: they’re fighting for their lives in harsh terrain which agrees with and handheld perspective. HOWEVER they use the handheld a lot in the beginning when the mood is tranquil and level. It’s quite disorienting there, took me quite a while to get used to it. Nothing else sticks out so consider this a praise through exception, I’ve not had to attack anything else.

Audio: this one is even  thinner. The score by James Newton Howard wasn’t remarkable, but very effective, and that’s enough, many films can’t even have that said about them. The sound effects seemed real enough, This is where I’ll put in more time if I see it again.

Overall: I really liked it, there were some minor but glaring flaws from the books, but many can be justified. That’s better than most adaptations i’ve watched. These books translate well into film, unlike the episodic style of Harry Potter which in my opinion is total rubbish once translated into a movie (takes cover from the fans), It’s still early and plenty of time with this one in theaters. I do recommend it strongly. It’s a solid blockbuster, a great way to head up the Blockbuster rush.

This year looks to be fantastic for blockbusters: Hunger Games, The Avengers, Dark Knight Rises, Prometheus, Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter (snicker). I’m excited, you should be too

Cya in a few days :D

Apology

To my readers:

I’m sorry I’ve not written in so long. I’ve had one hell of a month, busy times, doing projects, making movies, all kinds of good stuff.
ANYWAYS I’m back. I shall write quite a bit more this next week as a penance for my abandoning my fans.

If you’re still here: Thanks for your patience

A Change of Pace

The Transformers Trilogy

So far i’ve been reviewing movies i love, but that’s not all that’s out there. There are many other popular films out there that i have gripes with. Now I’m not going to rail on it for betraying the source material (i never knew the original show),I’m here to make reviews on just the films.

Story: Giant robots are on Earth. They have the ability to transform into machines. These Transformers are split into 2 factions: the Autobots (good guys) and Decepticons (bad guys). Autobots fight for the humans and the Decepticons seek to rule. I don’t need to go into more detail for the entire trilogy, all 3 are spoken for in that description. The STORIES within each film are ok, that is to say the overarching plot is reasonable for giant space robots. However, the scripts are an abomination. They take an odd approach: Scenes of action between robots then attempted humor between all the humans while the robots aren’t fighting. It comes off a bit disjointed, but i can live with it, but wait, it gets worse. The human characters are extremely shallow and annoying, I’m still baffled as to why they get so much attention in a film about GIANT SPACE ROBOTS. The dialogue is cheesy at best and very uninteresting jokes. So about half the movie is scrap, but at least we still have robots and action right?…..RIGHT??

Visual: There was SO MUCH potential in this movie for excellent visual, but it’s all lost. The robots look very nice, better the makers design their own fashion of robot instead of just recreating the toys and cartoons with CGI. So the art design is very good, but the direction and action coordination is slipshod at best. Watching the fights are really disappointing, most of the time you can’t tell what you’re looking at. The transformers are so badly framed and move in and out of shots so quickly that all that is certain is that a transformer did indeed run by the camera. There is also a great deal of chaos that obscures them, between the explosions and rubble, the transformers sometimes get lost in the shot. The final stake in the heart is again the humans. Most actions sequences are focused on the human characters running about so you get to see the transformers duking it out while the camera is forcing you to watch the teenagers duck around. I don’t know about you but when I paid for transformers i want to see giant robots fighting!!

Acting: >.< it’s a stretch to call anything in this film ACTING. It helps that many of the cast could act their way out of a bucket *Coughcoughmeganfoxcoughcough*. Shia Lebeouf leads in all 3 films. Now he’s not a bad actor, there are quite a few good actors in the films: John Turturro, John Malkovich, Alan Tudyk. The problem is that the roles that they play and the lines they have to deliver are bad, i mean they’re REALLY bad. sure it’s kinda amusing the first time, but they quickly degrade into annoyances (especially those who are in all 3 films). They never really came up with any new material it was always the same: Shia Labeouf in a new place and being awkward until the robots show up in the second half and take back their movie.

Audio: this is definitely the least offensive category, that doesn’t say it’s good, it’s just not bad. The sound effects work, and despite the large amounts of gunfire and explosions, the mix never gets overwhelming. The Score isn’t anything special, it greatly resembles a Hans Zimmer score, but i think at this point Zimmer has set the standard for blockbuster scoring. Not much else to say, like i said not great but not bad at all.

Overall:

  1. The first movie wasn’t bad, I enjoyed it, it was still new, the action was cool and there were some very nice moments. 3.5/5. Not terribly offensive, you can do far worse for a sci-fi action flick
  2. OH DEAR GOD GET IT AWAY!!! GET IT AWAY. Horrible, terrible action, terrible new characters. It was two-and-a-half of staring at Megan Fox as much as possible, i don’t get it at all. Steer clear, this movie is unrequited garbage
  3. Meh. better than the second one, but doesn’t take much. The new girl is a sight better than Megan Fox, but not by much. The highly praised “Chicago war” left a lot to be desired once i finally saw it. So i guess you could go see it, but why would you?

So readers: SOMEONE PITCH ME A MOVIE, let me know you guys are there :)

Thanks for reading and I’ll post again next week, have a good one!

Anime can be for everyone

Princess Mononoke

Once upon a time i was a massive fan of Anime, back in the days of Toonami, Dragonball Z and the like. But i grew up and stopped with those shows. Once again my days in college and my access to Netflix revitalized my love for new and great films. Mononoke is not just a great anime, but an overall great film

We begin the journey with Prince Ashitaka, one of the last of a samurai-like tribe. Ashitaka slays a demon that threatens his village but in so doing curses himself to a slow and painful death. As per usual, he sets out on a pilgrimage to find the source of the demon and perhaps find a cure. Far from home, he comes upon war, a war between the animal gods and the men harvesting their land for precious metals. Ashitaka is now forced to decide between preserving nature or aiding his fellow man. The title comes from the princess San, a girl much like Ashitaka that was raised byt he animal gods and fights on their side. This sounds really familiar doesn’t it? but SORTA SPOILERS: Ashitaka takes a much higher road than Last Samurai, Avatar and all those guys, He elects to fight for a union between the two worlds, not to crush or destroy.

Acting: it’s an anime so not much ACTING is done per se. The voice talent is a group of fairly well known names, and they each do a fine job, but it’s not spectacular. The character drawing is quite interesting. The animal gods don’t actually mouth their words when they speak, it’s almost as though they’re speaking with their minds to those around them. as for the human characters, not much can be said, they’re the same as any other Miyazaki characters (not to say they;re bad or boring, but they’re not that special).

Visual: this is where anime shines. Princess Mononoke was the longest animated film ever produced (it may still be). each frame is a painting and it’s 130~ minutes long. At 24 frames a SECOND that’s somewhere in the range of 190,000 individual frames, just try and imagine how much time that takes even with the aid of computer technology. The scenery is just GORGEOUS, between detail and color. Like i said it’s like watching paintings, not cheap cartoons. The intricacies of the backgrounds are astounding, it’s to be expected that great attention is paid to the foreground, but when the background of a shot that you see for maybe 5 seconds is as intricate as a landscape masterpiece… It speaks for itself, if that kind of detail doesn’t impress you i don;t know what will.

Audio: As i said the voice acting is fine. There is nothing particularly fancy about the sound effects. Guess that leads me to my audio ranting: the score. The music of Joe Hisaishi is fantastic. The stuff he writes is orchestra class material. I’ve always been a sucker for Japanese scoring, from animes to JRPGs, the stuff is amazing. The moods are very well carried in the music, swelling melodies for the epic journey and dark horns for monsters. Hard to describe (i swear I’m gonna use this copout every time but it’s true) but lovely, listen and you’ll see what i mean.

Overall: If you like anime and you haven’t seen it already, i don’t know what’s wrong with you. If you’re not an anime person you should see it anyways, it’s probably the most friendly anime to break in with. Like i said before, change it from anime to actors along side good graphics and you’ve got a blockbuster summer movie. It may be a bit long, but it never drags. The only drawback is the ending is a bit lackluster for me, but that’s entirely up to you to make your own judgments. Very high marks, a good film, Go see it.

Thanks again for reading, feel free to make requests and you’ll hear from me next week!