Sunday, June 17, 2012

REVIEW - Snow White and the Huntsman get down and dirty

"While it won't go down as the definitive version of the well known main character, Snow White and the Huntsman is a flawed dark take on a classic fairytale that is entertaining enough for it's target audience."


Seriously...the Dark Forest is really muddy and they wander around falling down and getting all dirty. But that's besides the point. I don't know why movie studios have been so nuts for Snow White lately...but between this and Mirror Mirror (see my review below), Snow White and the Huntsman is the clear winner.  Though that's not really saying much considering Mirror Mirror was basically just great scenery with bad slapstick and lame humor aimed at young children. This movie, however, is aimed at teens and, to a lesser degree, adults, with its dark mood and gloomy exterior. The question this movie worthy of your time or does it leave you wanting more?  Venture forth with me!

The casting here is a bit curious. Charlize Theron plays one hell of an evil, ruthless, spoiled, and psycho...uh...bad...lady...anyways, Chris Hemsworth (Cabin in the Woods, Thor) brings great heart and some good humor to his Huntsman. I'd go as far as to say the Huntsman is the most enjoyable character in the film, saving it from total mediocrity at times. Which brings us to the questionable: Kristen Stewart.  She doesn't do anything particularly cringe worthy in this one, nor does she offend. But it's clear she was brought in to get the Twilight crowd. I mean..."Fairest of them all" comparison to Charlize Freaking Hotness Theron?  Really? That's such a stretch it's basically a plot hole.

Speaking of plot, lets talk about it: Snow White is a princess. Her dad, the king, falls for the evil sexy face witch, gets killed by said youth obsessed lady, locks Snow White up, and takes over the land, which turns all grey and rotted.  Witchy woman talks to creepy mirror man who says "...well...Snow White's face is nicer to look at (see…plot hole) and she's a better person. Oh! and if you eat her heart you'll be all pretty forever, so you won’t have to suck young people’s souls out through their mouths anymore!" So Witch sends for Ms. White's heart for nom nom time, but she escapes into the Dark Forest. Witch summons Huntsman to get Snow from said treacherous land. S Dubs wants to re-claim her Kingdom and save the land for the evil witch's tyranny....Dwarfs get involved...I bet you can guess how's pretty much the Snow White story you already know if you're familiar with the character.

So how does it hold up? In short:'s ok. It’s got some good and some bad.  The atmosphere, the creatures, the CGI are all excellent.  I’d argue that the strongest aspect of this movie is its portrayal of fairytale characters/creatures and the environments. Some are quite creepy and very cool looking while others are, well, majestic and pretty and junk.  It gets the right feel going for what it’s trying to achieve.  And the dwarfs are handled surprisingly well as kind of pint sized British thugs. They’re enjoyable, when you can understand what they’re saying. There’s also enough spirit given to the characters that you actually care about what happens to them.

Which brings us to the bad.  The movie takes itself seriously, too seriously at times and doesn’t always pull it off. A great example being the evil queen's hissy fits.  You can tell Theron had a lot of fun with these spoiled psychotic rants, but they become unintentionally hilarious at times.  The plot also tries to give depth and heart to the characters, but  it doesn’t fully delivery on some key fronts, leading to shallowness where the movie could have been enhanced with more patience and better story telling.  Then there’s the end of the film, which (without spoiling anything) feels rushed with Snow White becoming dramatically empowered and out of character all the sudden, and then there's (kinda spoiler...) ultimately a complete lack of closure for the love story that developed throughout the film.

At the end of the day what you have is a flawed but entertaining enough dark take on a classic fairytale.  Young teens and the lady folk will get the most from it. For all others, if you dig grim fairytales, it might be worth a trip to the theater, otherwise just give it a rent if you're interested.

Score = 5.5/10

Thursday, May 10, 2012

REVIEW - The lights go out on Dark Shadows

"It definitely has the Tim Burton vibe going for it, but Dark Shadows lacks in many areas that make for a thoroughly enjoyable time. While the first half is fun enough, the movie ultimately relies too heavily on Depp without giving him enough to work with and the sloppy story telling only ends up making matters worse."


When I first heard about this movie I thought "hey...looks original, Tim Burton's at his best when he's being original!" Then I found that this movie was based on a 1960's supernatural soap opera and thought "ok, not so original...but odd...could be in a good way too! Burton does odd well." That was hoping...but having seen the actual movie is something else and, unfortunately, it's doesn't meet what you'd be hoping for as a Burton/Depp fan, let alone as a typical movie goer.

You've probably seen the trailers, so you most likely know the story, but here it is for good measure: It's the mid 1700's and Barnabas Collins (Johnny Depp), a wealthy man born to an industrious family, is in love with a nice pretty lady, while being party to a jealous witch (Eva Green). The witch kills the nice lady, curses Collins to be a vampire (your traditional type with the actual fangs and sun problems and what not, stripper body glitter) and then buries him. He finally gets free in 1972 and fish-out-of-water hilarity ensues. Barnabas ends up back at his old mansion where his future, and now unsuccessful, relatives live. That lack of success is due to the witch, who now owns the industry in the port town the Collins used to run with their business back in the day.  Learning of this, Barnabas decides to help his family get back to their former glory while attempting to ridding his life of the witch and the vampire curse.

The first half of the movie is actually pretty enjoyable. Tim Burton brings the gothic and morbid style he's known for to play. The story is interesting enough to get things going. The characters that comprise the modern Collins family are introduced showing some good quirkiness with enough edge to get your attention. And Johnny Depp brings his dependable 'A' game, stealing the scenes when he's dug up, apologetically killing people, and lacking understanding of cars and electronically powered things. Depp's reactions, dialog, and the humor they generate almost single-handedly keep the movie on it's feet...but only for so long.

At about the half way mark, Dark Shadows starts losing steam. The movie is content with not going into great detail on simple things that would get you more engaged and it doesn't care much for developing characters. Instead it just steamrolls the plot forward from one scene to the next, missing explanations for why seemingly key characters are they way they are in favor of something "funny," or something with more Deppth (see what I did there? Well, I though it was funny...moving along). A premium example, without spoiling anything major, is the introduction of  a woman (set up as a main character), who looks very similar to Barnabas's original lover asides from having a different hair color, as she travels to become a caretaker at the Collin's estate. She's a liar, for no apparent reason, and sees the ghost of Barnabas's dead love from time to time. Not enough explanation is given as to what her deal is until the very end and it isn't handled with enough clarity to make great sense.

Some will be able to ignore these flaws, turn off their brains, and just take in the eye candy and occasional goofy humor, but I found these problems to be too glaring. Due to these issues, by the 3rd act, I found the story to become so flimsy that I stop caring. The climatic showdown shoehorns in a bunch of supernatural creatures out of next to nowhere until the movie finally ends abruptly and poorly.

Other points worth noting are that there's a decently violent scene here or there and a surprising amount of sexual humor. Also, the trailers make it seem like a comedy, but there's enough of intended (not distastefully done) melodrama and campy horror mixed in that I wouldn't consider it a straight up comedy film.

Dark Shadows definitely has the Tim Burton vibe going for it, but it lacks in many areas that make for a thoroughly enjoyable time. While the first half is fun enough, the movie ultimately relies too heavily on Depp without giving him enough to work with and the sloppy story telling only ends up making matters worse. If you're a Burton/Depp fan, I'd give this a rent. If watching the trailers have wet your appetite for something Burton so much that you need a fix, just watch Edward Scissorhands or Beetlejuice instead. There's another movie out right now that's MUCH more deserving of your time and money, even for a second viewing. You know...the one that rhymes with "The Pretenders."

Score = 5/10

...and this belongs riiiiiiight here:

Thursday, May 3, 2012

AMAZING TRAILER ALERT - The Amazing Spider-Man Trailer #3

What a week for comic book folk, eh?  First a new trailer for the next Batman movie, now we have this really great looking trailer for Amazing Spider-Man just released today, and tomorrow (or in 5 hours of you're me) the comic gods have blessed us with The Avengers. Coincidentally, they can all be viewed together since both trailers will be running along with The Avengers, but if (like me) you just can't wait, here's that Spidey trailer:

It's been kinda goofy seeing the tagline "The untold story" running with this reboot already told origin ('s a reboot). But this trailer gives us a good glimpse into what would makes it new ground for the character, and it most certainly appears to be. In a film anyways. The background of Peter Parker's parent's mysterious disappearance have been explained in the comics, so it'll be interesting to see the angle Director Marc Webb (500 Days of Summer) will take with it cinematically.

While Sam Raimi was able to bring us 2 very good Spider-Man films and one entertaining, though incredibly flawed, one (although you'd realize why if you knew the development of the film), The Amazing Spider-Man appears to be taking a different, more raw, tone and approach. Gone are the kid gloves, replaced with more gritty action. And, thankfully, it appears the dialog is more natural and less forced this time around. Not to mention Spider-Man actually being a smart ass (the car jacker scene in the trailer)! So it's starting to look like a more mature approach to the character that will probably appeal to more people. But time will tell. Until then, this is one of my more anticipated movies of this year..given that I'm a massive Spider-Man geek.

The Amazing Spider-Man webslings into theaters this July 3rd.

Monday, April 30, 2012

NEW TRAILER ALERT - The Dark Knight Rises Trailer #3

Long time no post! But with the Summer blockbuster-fest upon us, and with this new Dark Knight Rises trailer just released about an hour ago, now's as good a time as any to get back to blabbering about movies! Here are the dark and gritty goods:

Looks promising!  And it appears that the goods folks at Warner Brothers have cleared up Bane's voice in post production since the previous trailer, which is a very good thing. The last thing we all want from this much anticipated finale Christopher Nolan's Batman trilogy is another mumbler...


The Dark Knight Rises like a bat out of hell on July 20th of this year.

BONUS COMMENT: You like this trailer so freaking much you want to see it on the big screen, you say? Well you're in luck because it'll be running with The Avengers, which comes out this Friday! I'd consider that a win-win, myself.

SWEAR TO ME!!! the comments below if you feel all chatty like.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

REVIEW - Mirror Mirror on the wall, you owe me 106 minutes of my life back!

"If you ever want to feel like you're being punished by sitting through a movie, then I invite you to view all 106 minutes of Mirror Mirror.  It's a film that should only be used to entertain the very young at home as a distraction so that those looking after them can do something else."


I'm thinking of this as more of a public service announcement than a review, really.  Initially, I didn't even want to write a review for this as I'd rather not admit I saw it, but I feel somewhat obligated by how much of a drag I found it to be.

In starting this "movie critic" thing I have going here, I've made a promise to myself to try and give all movies a fair shake. Leaving negative bias at the door and taking them for what they are so that I can craft a fair review. So here I was going into this movie I had no desire to see (with some friends who actually had that desire) while maintaining that state of mind: "perhaps this isn't a movie for little kids only and it wont be a chore to sit through...the director has talent and people like that Roberts woman..." So here's my unbiased review.

I'm of the mind that kids movies don't have to be no-brain, visually hypnotic, slapstick fests.  Kids movies can actually be intelligent and can even contain humor that's enjoyable for adults. Look at Shrek 1 and 2 and pretty much any Pixar movie.  Personally, when (or if) I have kids, I'll want to have them watch movies that don't insult their intelligence. Though I do acknowledge the use of these dumb attention grabbing kids movies as being a good distraction for parents to actually relax for a few minutes. That all being said, Mirror Mirror came across to me as one of those lame kids movies.

It starts out decently enough with a voice over by Julia Roberts, as the evil queen, giving the back story of Snow White's past, but it rapidly falls apart from there.  The dialog is cheesy and boring/bad, the comedy is next to harmless and mostly bad slapstick, several characters are annoying or straight up stupid (ones who aren't intended to be)'s pretty much all bad news here.

It's a movie for children that takes a few shots at entertaining adults that most always miss the mark. There are maybe 2 or 3 lines in the entire movie I found entertaining, but asides from that it's completely for the very young ones. It even attempts to make a statement about strong independent women close to the end, but it's poorly done and at that point in the movie you could really give 2 rips. About a 3rd of the way through the movie I actually attempted to take a nap, but failed due to the movie being too loud and my seat not being comfortable enough.

Honestly, the only good thing I can say about this movie is the art direction and cinematography are top notch. The environments and costumes are interesting and well done and the movie is shot well. Also the acting is serviceable, so there's that too. You can thank director Tarsem Singh for these touches because he has a great visual style. However, given his clever and terrific film The Fall, you'd expect so much more from him.

So if you ever want to feel like you're being punished by sitting through a movie, then I invite you to see Mirror Mirror. Because holy hell does it suck for adults. It's a film that should only be used to entertain the very young at home as a distraction so those looking after them can do something else. Save your hard earned theater money for a kids movie worth seeing, such as the next Pixar film Brave (coming August 31st of this year).

Kids Movie score: 5/10
General Score = 2.5/10

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Wow...This announcement is good, but it is filling - The sequel to Anchorman is on!

I wanna say something! I'm gonna put it out there...if you like it, you can take it...if you don't, send it right back....I want you to watch this hilarious announcement for the Anchorman sequel:

What more is there to say other than a sequel to the ridiculously quotable original has taken too damn long to come out! Don't act like you're not impressed...

REVIEW - You won't see Wrath of the Titans coming

"Wrath of the Titans sets out to be a streamlined action/adventure romp and it, very surprisingly, succeeds. Though light on substance, it’s a vast improvement on its predecessor in every regard. If you are down for a good action flick, you'll get your money's worth by seeing it in theaters (in 3D even)!"


I just got back from my screening and well…uh…let's just say I was not expecting what I got. Before I go further; let’s travel back in time to last night when I watched Clash of the Titans, the 2010 remake: It sucked. The dialog was freaking horrible...and when it wasn't flat out bad, it was cheesy. The only redeeming qualities of that movie were the special effects and action scenes, and even a few of those where embarrassing. I wasn't expecting much to begin with, given all the bad reviews and word of mouth, but by the beard of Zeus was that bad. Fast forward to now and I find myself somewhat dumbfounded.

You might be asking yourself, as I did, "remember the days when sequels were only made for movies that a large amount of people found worthy of them? What happened to that?" Well, you see, did you know what I was think........anyways...When you look at the box office take for Clash, you'll get an idea: the movie cost $125 million to make and made $493 million worldwide. That's a good profit. So, given that Hollywood is clearly sequel crazy lately, they tend to jump at that. Though I think something else was at play here. I think Warner Brothers looked at the screenplay for Wrath of the Titans and said "wait...I think we might have something here" and I think they were right.

What we have here is a sequel worth watching to a movie that's not. And what's nice is that Wrath starts off by explaining the important events of the first film (to which there are few, so it's brief) and, in doing so, you can act like the first movie never really happened!

The plot is simple and goes a little something like this: The Gods are losing their strength due to a massive lack of worship and faith from the people. This causes them to start losing their ability to keep the Titans (the God’s creators and attempted destroyers) in captivity. If the Titans get loose they'll make everything go squish because they're a bunch of jerks, so Zeus goes to his demigod (half human, half god) son Perseus for help. Given that Perseus is half mortal he is unaffected by the loss of strength the gods are susceptible to, but he now has a son and is reluctant to help in the fight. Though, very soon thereafter, the threat of the Titans becomes too much to ignore, and some Gods infighting make things much worse, so he decides to try and save the day.

As I mentioned previously, this movie's plot isn't's not even that great, but that's not necessarily a bad thing as it’s not trying to be. It does what it needs to in order to support the action and keep the adventure moving forward to it's pretty obvious, but spectacle filled, conclusion. And, really, who’s going to this movie expecting a great story? It's about the action, and this movie delivers plenty of ass-kickery!

The special effects are excellent, the creatures are nasty, set pieces look great and some are pretty epic in scale, and the action sequences are intense (though never overly gruesome or bloody) eye candy. Not to mention, this movie is actually worth seeing in 3D! I know, I was shocked too. Things lunge, or are thrown, at the audience (though not to a nauseating degree), swirling dust and ash give a feeling of atmosphere, and the scenery is shot in a way that gives a great feeling of depth. Not to mention the scenes in a labyrinth of fast moving walls and pillars that threaten to crush the protagonists.It's all very cool.

Many of the same actors in Clash are back and bring more personality this time. Sam Worthington as Peruses is actually worth rooting for (by the way, what’s the deal with this guy? I can’t find anything really spectacular about him, yet he does a fine job in many films…strange). Liam Neeson is Zeus. I shouldn’t have to say anything further there because Liam is the man. Lord VoldemI MEAN Ralph Fiennes does sinister well as Hades. And special mention goes to the lesser known actor Toby Kebbell, who plays Agenor and serves up some great comedy relief without being overbearing.

Does the movie have great character depth and development? No. Does it have amazing dialog? Naw, brah! It’s very average in those departments (less than average in character development) and some of the dialog is cheesy to be sure, though it never dips into "horrible" territory. Also, while the characters aren’t that deep, the movie still manages to do a great job of having you care about, and rooting for, the right ones. There are even a few “…hell yeah!” moments as well as some good comedy relief without degrading the intended seriousness. I never found myself laughing at anything that wasn’t intended to be funny (very unlike Clash).

I'd consider Wrath a bit average for general movie goers, but if you love action you'll more than likely be able to look passed most of it's faults for an even more enjoyable time. It sets out to be a streamlined action/adventure romp and it, very surprisingly, succeeds. While light on substance, it’s a vast improvement on its predecessor in every regard. Action movie fans will get their money's worth by seeing it in theaters. Also, crazy as it sounds, it's worth seeing in 3D!

General audience score =7/10
Action movie fan score = 7.5/10