Much Ado About Something

I love Joss Whedon. He makes so much awesome stuff, Firefly, Buffy, Dr Horrible, THE AVENGERS. What’s it about his movies and shows that are so amazing (to me)? for me it’s his characters and actors. He seems to bring the best out of all his actors, especially with incredible characters with some of the most clever dialogue known to man. This is why i rushed to see Much Ado About Nothing. Whedon and Shakespeare? I’m sold.

STORY: One Star ★: It’s Sheakespeare word for word (slightly abridged). You have to be stark raving mad to give that man less than full marks. So I’ll talk about the story behind the movie. From what i’ve read, Whedon would have his actor friends over to his house on a semi-regular basis and they’d read Shakespeare together. There was about two weeks between shooting and editing The Avengers, he decided to use that time to gather his actor friends and shoot this movie. I was a tad worried it’s be a little silly and over the top (like Ocean’s 12). It turned out quite well :D

Acting: One Star ★: Like i said, Whedon picks great actors. One thing. DO NOT go in looking for something EVEN CLOSE to a Kenneth Branagh production of Shakespeare. Those are very bombastic, actors chewing the scenery. The actors are much more smooth in this production. The chemistry between Benedick and Beatrice is still quite solid, the actors don’t have to be married to work well off each other. Sean Maher as Don John is kinda bland, but he’s still more interesting than Keanu Reeves :) . Nathan Fillion, My hetero man crush, is great as Dogberry, and that’s not just me saying it as a fanboy. My viewing group all loved his performance.

Sound: Half Star: Nothing special, but not bad. I like Joss Whedon’s simplistic score, it’s a lot like the stuff i wrote in school. He also had some interesting…adaptations of the Shakespeare songs, made em sound modern :D .

Visual: Half Star: Sure it was black and white, but nothing really sticks out. it was simple, effective, but simple and effective doesn’t impress me to a full star. I loved the look of the location and costumes (shot at Whedon’s house).

Enjoyability: 1 Star ★: It had a lot of very funny moments. And as I said before I really like both Whedon and Shakespeare, so that kind of material appeals to me naturally. *Shrug* not much more to say on my behalf. I think you’ll enjoy it if you like witty dialogue and good acting, this movie is FULL of it, but of course you have to be ok with dated vocabulary and style. That is one thing i liked about it as well. The actors spoke very clearly, it’s a common problem in Shakespeare that they get so into the line you can’t hear what they’re actually saying.

Mr. Whedon, I invite you to produce more Shakespeare movies. Of course first you need to get the Avengers 2, Dr Horrible 2, and Rebooting Firefly (I can dream) off of your plate. SO, movie was quite good ★★★★, I’d recommend it, but I know it’ll not be for everyone. Reviews coming up: White House Down (very silly) and because I’m watching it right now: Inception

 

 

World War Z: A Decent Movie, Not a Great Adaptation

Title says it all. So many people have instantly brushed this movie under the rug. They say “IT’S NOT LIKE THE BOOK, so i refuse to see it.” It’s a legitimate concern, and unfortunately the movie suffers for it. You see, it’s not a bad movie, and from what i hear, it could have been a lot worse. I admit i don’t know details, but with 5 different production companies (each with their own title slide) it could not have been smooth sailing.
I gotta apologize for the tardiness of the review, so i’ll be honest. It was a first date with my new and totally awesome GF, spending time with her and working have made me lazy again. REVIEW YOU FOOL! REVIEW!

Recall my new rating system 5 stars, one for each of: Story/characters, Sound/music, Visual/Camera/editing, Acting, Enjoyability/rewatchability

Story: NO STARS. The story was extremely lacking. It was simple, Zombies take over the world and one dude has to save it. It’s funny, this movie felt more like a video game than any I’ve seen. Brad Pitt goes to an exotic location, learns some plot, and then escapes in an action sequence to the next exotic location. Rinse and repeat several times. I found that actually kinda humorous. the scenes played out like levels, including what kinda of variety was made (military base, city, hospital, alone in the woods). The characters were awful. They were totally uninteresting and had no defining characteristics, I didn’t even know the protagonists name til about 30 minutes into the movie. Pacing was also interesting too, no wasted time, the zombie attack starts about 5 minutes into the movie (once again adding to the lack of character and plot).

Sound: 1 Star ★. The score was solid, fit nicely, tho not entirely memorable. This movie did a great job fully utilizing surround sound. Early on there was a woman screaming, it came so totally from one speaker, i thought the girl behind me was actually screaming (there was noone behind me). It also used silence quite well. There is great atmospheric power in silence (especially when sound attracts zombies). I remember needing to sneeze but holding it as long as possible, because i thought breaking the silence that abruptly might make people around me jump in their seats.

Visual: 1/2 Star. The CG effects were…ok, the camera was…ok. IDK, nothing really sticks out, good or bad. It was nice to see the zombies not moving like a tide as they;re depicted in the trailers. with some lead in shots, they’re seen not moving as ants, but as a mass so desperate to get you that they relentlessly move thru and over anything, including each other. they used shaky cam of course, but to better effect than Man of Steel. the problem lies in the editing, very fast cuts. that worked in favor of a couple of great jump moments, but the rest seemed unnecessary. It’s as Brad Jones put it (i can cite other reviews), It’s as if the movie was edited for cable TV. It’s PG-13 so they tone down the violence by very obviously cutting around it. I’ll get into the movie’s rating in a bit.

Acting: 1/2 Star. Brad Pitt was solid as the lead, but he’s just a charismatic guy. He didn’t bring too much, but that really lies with the script, not much meat to bring anything to. Other performances were ok, the Israeli soldier that accompanies Pitt in the last act was pretty good.

Enjoyability: 1 Star ★. Me and my date quite enjoyed it. good atmosphere, good tone. A solid zombie movie. don’t know if i’d rush to see it again, but it’s wasn’t that bad.
The movie suffers hard tho because of the tie-in to a very different book. THIS IS NOT THE MOVIE’S FAULT. and yet people give me crap for liking it despite the major differences. All this says is the movie execs were fools. Market it just as a zombie movie, maybe even cite world war Z as inspiration, but once you try to make a movie out of a book, you’re in much more dangerous water. Adaptation is insanely tricky. too close your flaws get glaring, too far and the readers hate you. You have to strike a balance somewhere. I’m still not sure exactly what makes an adaptation successful, I’ve written papers about it. Shoulda had a different name, probably would have been received better that way.

The Rating Problem: This movie should not be PG-13. Sure Zombie movies tend to be violent and this movie cut around that a lot, but that’s not my problem. PG-13 carries no weight any more. Parents are taking 6 year-olds (maybe even younger) to movies like this. 6 is WAY too young for a zombie movie, it’s really intense and scary. i know, it’s not the ratings, it’s the parents, but you gotta admit that there’s something wrong with it.

ANYWAYS. I enjoyed it, if you were interested, yeah go see it, on the fence, i’d give it a try. BUT I’d sooner tell you to go see Much Ado About Nothing (review coming soon). IN SHORT: not bad. ★★★

Rating System

I know i promised a review of World War Z. I will get to that, today was car shopping and i didn’t that night because i was on a date.

It occurs to me that I don’t have a standard rating system across all movies, i give numbers just on how i’m feeling. i can say 7/10 or 3.5 stars, but what does that mean?

SO i’ve decided i will work on a star rating system AS FOLLOWS:
Each star is its own category, if it’s good or better = 1 star. Eh = .5. Bad = no star in that category.
CATEGORIES: Story (character development too), Acting, Sound (music included), Visual, Was it enjoyable (to me and perhaps anyone i saw it with). The last could also be rated on rewatchability, it’s flexible

here’s that rating system applied to the movies i’ve reviewed:

  • Last Samurai: ★★★★★
  • Sunshine: ★★★★1/2 (story is flawed, but i still love it)
  • Princess Mononoke: ★★★★1/2 (again flawed but love it)
  • Transformers 1: ★★★ (half stars in both acting and visual, no star in story)
    • Transformers 2: ★ (half visual, half audio)
    • Transformers 3: ★★(no story nor acting stars)
  • Hunger Games: ★★★1/2 (story and visual effects were weak, kinda enjoyable)
  • Amazing Spiderman: ★★1/2 (entirely Eh)
  • Premium Rush: ★★★★1/2 (they’re all good except story which wasn’t bad)
  • Django Unchained: ★★★★★
  • Phantom of the Opera: ★★★1/2 (story and acting were weak)
  • Man of Steel: ★★★ (good visuals, audio mostly enjoyable and fair acting, but NO story)
  • World War Z: ★★★1/2 (fantastic sound and action, not great effects acting or story)

it’s funny, on just an opinion system some i would have rated higher, like sunshine or mononoke, or some lower like premium rush which i wouldn’t give more than a 4. Guess the new system is keeping me in line and standard. I can live with that.

World War Z to come. I will be seeing Much Ado about Nothing this Monday, i will review that too.

Man of Steel indeed

Wow…I was quite surprised by this movie, especially after all the trailers and reviews i’ve seen. I do wish advertisers wouldn’t show THE ENTIRE MOVIE in trailers, there were some surprises, but so few. Pretty much the entire first act of the movie can be seen in trailers, c’mon people. ANYWAYS: in short 6.5/10 Not Bad. Watch it for the Kyptonians, they were AWESOME. the humans…not so much.

I’m breaking away from my typical review mode and just grouping thoughts. GENERAL: it’s funny, i couldn’t help but draw several parallels between this movie and transformers. The opening is very similar, coup to take control and “save” the homeworld. Also the big bad is very similar. Zod is no longer the power-hungry despot “KNEEL BEFORE ZOD” type. Now he is Megatron, seriously. An amoral military leader that will stop and nothing and sacrifice anything to rebuild his race. And it really works in this movie, it really does.

Where it went right:

  • Visual effects: OH LORD it was pretty (Zach Snyder movies have always done that well, but sadly at the expense of the rest of the movie most of the time). They really built a full Krypton and it was cool. So what if it borrows heavily from H.R. Geiger designs, Avatar and other things. So what that they’ve got Jor-El riding a dragon? I still think it was pretty cool. Explosions, alien ships, the fight CG (get to that later) all good things.
  • Action: (now is later) This movie had some of the best superhero action I’ve seen in ages. It’s right up there with The Avengers, ESPECIALLY in taking full advantage of the powers at their disposal. Lots of laser vision, cool bursts of speed, throwing trains, wanton destruction (half of Metropolis is essentially leveled in the finale :D ) it was stunning good action.
  • The Kryptonians and their tech: This is where the movie REALLY hit its high notes. Their armor looks totally sick (the supersuit is ok, I’m talking the armor on top of that) same goes for their architecture, A lot of it is based on…i don’t know, some kind of particle based A.I. It looks really cool. The people of Krypton we see are mostly simple, but it works, they’re just cold and hard.
  • Kal-El and Zod: Henry Cavill is solid as Superman, does a fine job. Michael Shannon as Zod was just epic, he really stole the movie.

Where it went wrong:

  • Camera: Whenever there weren’t a lot of effects dominating the shot, the camera resorted to the standard and really annoying shakycam. It really makes it hard to focus and is REALLY pointless when it’s just people talking.
  • Pacing: There’s a bit in the middle where superman turns himself in, next scene he’s in a cell talking to Lois, then he’s immediately back in the desert being handed over to Zod’s men. The movie is full of moments like this that just don’t flow, but they lessen as the movie goes on. It’s funny I never realized how much I value a good intro for a superhero. Superman is introduced to the world BY ZOD (we’ve seen him a bit before) first time anyone sees him is when he turns himself in. Zod had a great re-entry into the middle of the film with the You Are Not Alone speech, really had solid tone.
  • the human characters: they totally lacked any relatability, they had no stories and I found myself not caring about them. At least the Kryptonians had badass action to accent their simple characters. They all feel like they’re there just to be there, so we have recurring faces. worst offender is:
  • LOIS LANE: (please note that Amy Adams’ performance was just fine) Her character makes NO sense, she’s WAAY too important. She’s there thru the entire story, she knows Clark’s identity before he’s even Superman. her romance is very arbitrary and totally without chemistry. Plus her presence is just weird, Military arrest her, yet they drag her out when superman turns himself in. When Superman is taken by Zod, they demand to take Lois too…WHY? they don’t know her, they never do anything to her, all it does is get her on the ship to be helpful. They also try to make her into an action woman for a bit, Iron man 3 did that much better. I just don’t get it :/ ah well
  • (EDIT) Emotion weight: So I’ve looked thru other reviews, and they really made a good point. The movie TOTALLY lacks emotional weight, it never conveys the feeling that millions are being obliterated in the destruction of metropolis (which is beyond extensive). Avengers (it’s my go-to super hero comparison)  certainly made it clear how much was at stake and that the destruction at least had some consequences, at least we saw civilians during the fights. Once a fight starts in Man of Steel, the fighters are pretty much alone. So many elements are just…there.

Though it may not be a great movie, I still enjoyed it (seems I’m a minority there). go see it for its action. If you go for story and character depth, you’re probably gonna leave with a bad taste in your mouth. D.C. is still fighting a losing battle, trying to keep up with Marvel after they’ve already hit it out of the park. If The Avengers, showed us anything, it’s that a superhero movie can be well written, funny, have great action, great story, and just be well made ALL IN ONE MOVIE.  All you other guys need to catch up now that we know its possible.

That’s all i got, See you next week for WORLD WAR Z  or Joss Whedon’s MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING, maybe both, we’ll see :D .

Once More with feeling…

I’m a bad blogger, i keep getting discouraged/busy and leave it.

UPDATES THEN: I’ve now graduated from University of Tulsa. I was SO glad to get back from New Zealand. Tho an educating experience with some bright moments, overall it was a very bad trip.

The Future of the blog: So now i’m trying to go semi-pro on this stuff. As such i’ve dedicated time each week to go see a new movie and then review it. This should work better since I’d have to conjure up ideas before, now every week it’s already there. ALSO I’m planing on transforming this stuff into Vlogs. I’m gonna start by just recording me talking about the movie after it’s over (a la Brad Jones Midnight reviews). I’m also working on producing short films for sites, hopefully that will lead to money in my pocket, experience under my belt, and a stepping stone to make better reviews.

So first off: MAN OF STEEL