Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Transformers: Dark of the Moon

The original Transformers movie is one of the greatest movies of all time, and, although many disagree, I also loved the second movie. There was certainly a drop off of greatness following the first film, but it wasn't as bad as the "official" critics make it out to be. Everyone wondered whether the third film in the series would be more like the first film or the second. I was more interested in how Michael Bay was going to wrap things up, with the expectations being that this will be the final film in the series. I really wanted to see some major characters killed off. I have an emotional connection to the Transformers and knew this would probably be my only chance of crying at a movie this summer, so I wanted it! Could we please cry at the farewell of Bumblebee like we did at the farewell of Andy in Toy Story 3 last summer? Well you will have to watch to find out (In 3D!!!).

If you desire something realistic then you shouldn't be watching Transformers, but I must say that the tie-in with the moon landing really made the story get off to a good, relatable start. I was also glad that Michael Bay went ahead and explained the moon landing deal before anything else, because that was basically all that we were told in the trailers. The storyline was much more basic than the second movie, which made it much better. There were a few twists and turns, but there was no bringing people back to life five times at the end of the movie like there was in the second movie. With the plot being so simple, many parts were a bit predictable and repetitive, but it wasn't too much to bear. The coolest part was the fact that they finally showed how quickly the Transformers could destroy an entire city. It was finally the gigantic amount of destruction that I have longed for. There is really so much more that I want to say but don't want to ruin the movie for anyone.

I liked what they did with the characters for the most part. Sam was sort of caught in a "welcome to the real world" moment and felt under appreciated. This really made me connect with him early on, but I think they clung to that a bit much. There were a few robots that were missing from the second movie, and no explanation was given about where they might have gone (unless I missed it). Optimus had a new trailer that he was a bit too dependent on, considering he did not have the trailer in the first two films. The big question with the characters was how would Rosie Huntington-Whiteley do in the place of Megan Fox. I personally thought she was good but not great. I didn't really miss Megan Fox, but, at the same time I wasn't amazed by the new girl. Josh Duhamel and Tyrese were extremely good, and their characters were brought in extremely well. I thought they kind of seemed a bit awkward in the second movie. Simmons has a love connection that was predictable but really turned out to be fun to watch. Sam's parents, who were too involved in the second movie, also matured with Sam but brought on some laughs as usual. John Malkovich was amazing but gone too soon. Patrick Dempsey was absolutely USELESS!

*New Addition to the Blog:
Best Character: Dutch, played by Alan Tudyk (A Knight's Tale), was a great new addition to the cast as Simmons's agent or something. He was hilarious and was given just enough screentime.

Worst Character: Jerry Wang, played by Ken Jeong (The Hangover), was the stupidest character (barely beating out Patrick Dempsey). It just seemed like an excuse to get Ken Jeong in the movie, and the laughs didn't seem to flow out of the audience as you might expect.

Before I sum up my emotions, I want to endorse the watching of this movie in 3D. Aside from Avatar, I have never enjoyed the 3D aspects, but this movie made me a believer once again. The problem is that most 3D movies will not be this well made, so enjoy it while you can. Now for my real opinion on this movie: it was amazing. I remember when the first Transformers movie came out and someone had to convince me to go watch it because I thought it would be stupid. Boy was I wrong. I didn't get the tears I was hoping for unfortunately, but oh well. I do think the end could have been a bit sadder. A couple of characters are killed off, but I think the timing was bad, and there should have been more killed off. The ending was a good send off that was abrupt compared to the lagging ending of the first two films. The characters were good for the most part, and the story really showed how much history and emotion the Autobots carry around with them. I love the Transformers series and will miss these guys so so much. 3.95 out of 5 stars.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Movie News for the Week of June 28, 2011

Sorry the news this week is not very exciting, but these are the most interesting things I could find.

1. Super 8 star Joel Courtney has signed on to play Tom Sawyer in a new remake of the classic tale. The movie will begin shooting in August.

2. Vin Diesel has announced a summer 2013 release date for the next Fast and Furious movie. The sixth installment of the series is much anticipated following the success of this year's Fast Five.

3. The new Spy Kids 4 will feature 4D Aroma Scope. This will allow the audience to smell certain parts of the movie. Kind of weird if you ask me.

4. Comedic genius Judd Apatow has begun working on a Pee Wee Herman feature film. Yay for the Pee Wee fans!

5. Warner Bros. will move forward on the making of a Green Lantern sequel despite the first film underperforming at the box office. Green Lantern was made for $200 million and given $100 million for marketing and has only made $180 million at the box office so far. This really surprises me. If you read my review of the first film, you will see how I feel about a sequel.

6. A screenwriter has been found for Will Smith's recreation of the classic Annie. If you did not know, Willow Smith (Will's daughter) will play Annie and Jay Z has signed on to do the music for the film.

7. Tom Hanks said this week that Toy Story 4 is already being prepared by the fine folks at Pixar. Although Pixar has not made an official statement regarding another sequel, Hanks would be the one to know if this was the truth.

For the Pixar fans, this is the teaser trailer for Brave, out next summer:

Monday, June 27, 2011

Mr. Popper's Penguins

When I was in the third grade, I read Mr. Popper's Penguins, and it quickly became my favorite book. If you know me, you know that I don't read, and, while I do enjoy some books, I hate being forced to read anything. I have felt this way since long before the third grade. Consequently, whenever I was given a book to read for a book report, I would just whine and cry myself to sleep. Mr. Popper's Penguins is one of the few books that I was forced to read that I actually enjoyed, but a movie about penguins is not something that I usually find myself interested in. While I didn't expect much out of the movie, I couldn't let it go unwatched by one its previous readers.

The plot held fairly true to the book. Mr. Popper inherits six penguins that he doesn't necessarily desire at first but grows to love. Rather predictable, but it is a children's book and movie so you can't expect anything too deep. The penguins do affect Popper's family, job, and everyday life in both good and bad ways. The biggest problem with the plot was how the "bad guys" were brought into the film. They didn't quite fit. It was like the entire movie stopped for a few minutes, just so we could see what the "bad guys" were plotting. There were some glitches in the plot, but nothing that kids would recognize or care about.

The penguins were filled with excitement and left me with many laughs. Being in a theater with a bunch of small children, it was easy for me to hear that the children reacted to the goofy things that the penguins did. Along with the penguins being fun, they did a good job of limiting their time in the movie. I think the kids would have liked to see more of the penguins, but I liked how the focus of the story remained on Popper and his family. Jim Carrey wasn't quite as goofy as he usually is, which kind of disappointed me, but he was still good. As I said earlier, the "bad guys" were certainly lacking, but kids don't know that.

Overall, Mr. Popper's Penguins was much better than expected. I didn't enjoy it as much as the book, but I thought it provided many laughs and a good storyline for both kids and adults. I do wish Jim Carrey would have been a bit more Jim Carrey-like, but oh well. Of course there were a few extremely unlikely scenarios that Popper was placed in that probably could have been avoided if the movie makers would have chosen to, but kids don't give a crap about that. Finally, I give Mr. Popper's Penguins 2.73 out of 5 stars, making it one of the better surprises of the summer. If I was a parent, I would definitely go watch this movie with my kids.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Bad Teacher

Excluding The Hangover Part 2, I expected this summer to be very lacking in the comedy department. However, I thought that Bad Teacher might just be the second best comedy of the summer (behind The Hangover Part 2 of course). I'm not a big fan of Cameron Diaz, but the trailers were amazingly funny, particularly the Jason Segel parts: "That's the only argument I need, Shaun!" I just wanted to laugh my butt off. That's all.

The plot revolves around a "bad teacher" being very very "bad," and I guess that's about it. The only part of the movie that wasn't about being bad was when Cameron Diaz helped out one of the boys in her class. This was such a good moment in a movie filled with nothing but unlearned lesson on how to destroy your own life and the lives of others. THE END!

Although the storyline struggled, there were actually a lot of good, funny characters. The problem is that there was a bad character to cancel out every good one. Cameron Diaz was just as annoying as she is in every other movie. I don't know why I expected anything more. Even with that being said, her character was Oscar-worthy compared to that of Lucy Punch's character. Most would know her as Darla from Dinner for Schmucks, a movie in which I loved her character. Even though I loved Dinner for Schmucks, whoever cast her in Bad Teacher should be fired. On a brighter note, Justin Timberlake and Jason Segel were freakin hilarious! Timberlake's character was very different than I expected and just cracked me up. Segel was pretty much his normal hilarious self. The problem was that neither of these guys got enough screen time, particularly Segel. Every time he was on screen I laughed, but those times were few and far between. Instead, I was forced to watch Cameron Diaz every single minute for and hour and a half.

Although the summer is not yet over, I must predict that Bad Teacher will be one of my most disappointing movies of 2011. I did laugh and enjoy parts, but it just could have been soooooo much better. The cast had its ups and downs, but the plot just completely sucked. With that being said, I give Bad Teacher 1.98 out of 5 stars. I just hope that I watch another good comedy before the summer ends. If not, I will just have to watch The Hangover Part 2 over and over to make myself feel better about the summer of 2011.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Movie News for the Week

I have decided that I will be keeping you up to date on the buzz in Hollywood on a weekly basis. My goal is to give you the biggest news in movies each and every Tuesday. So make sure you keep up if you want to know more than your friends.

1. Christian Bale is being courted by director Darren Aronofsky (Black Swan, The Wrestler) in an effort to convince Bale to play Noah in a movie version of the Bible story. Aronofsky says that his interpretation of the Flood will be a "fantasy epic."

2. Steven Spielberg has been in talks with screenwriters about making a fourth Jurassic Park movie. The Spielberg produced Terra Nova premieres on FOX in the fall, and a lot of work has gone into the dinosaurs on the new show, making people think that this new technology might further Spielberg's interest.

3. William Shatner will NOT be a part of the second Star Trek movie. J.J. Abrams has been quiet about the film, but Shatner himself has said that he will not make an appearance. Shatner was unhappy when he was not offered a spot in the first film.

4. Russell Crowe has been rumored as the actor who will play Superman's dad in the upcoming reboot of Superman.

5. The Academy is once again changing the Best Picture rules for this year's Oscars. Instead of having ten nominees, there will be 5-10 nominees. The amount will not be announced until the nominations are announced and are based on the percentage of votes that each film receives. The number of nominees was increased from five to ten a few years back in an effort to increase viewership and include more films that people actually watch.

6. The lawsuit over the tattoo in The Hangover Part 2 has been settled. This means that the tattoo will not be edited out of the DVD release like many had thought.

7. Spoiler Alert! It has been rumored (not reported) that Liam Neeson has been seen on the set of the new Batman film. Neeson played Bruce Wayne's mentor turned enemy in Batman Begins, before supposedly dying. This will be awesome if it is true.

A laugh for the X-Men fans out there:

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Green Lantern

As a person who doesn't care for comic books, it is difficult for me to predict whether a super hero movie will be good or not. Green Lantern is an intriguing character to me; so when I heard they were making a Green Lantern movie, I got excited about it. When they announced that Ryan Reynolds would play the main green dude, I became even more excited. But when I saw the trailer for the film, my expectations took a nose dive right back down to Thor territory. Most everything that I had heard about the movie over the past few weeks was negative, but I still had to check it out for myself.

From the very beginning, Green Lantern lacked having much of a plot at all. There was so much focus put on explaining the origin of the ring and so forth that very little time was spent on the villains and the conflict between good and evil. I checked my phone an hour into the movie and, at that time, still felt as if I was being introduced to the characters. Sometimes that is not bad, but then it was like boom and the movie was over. I believe the movie should have been a little longer. They also had some very random additions to the plot, such as meeting Hal Jordan's family and the creation of a new fancy airplane. The movie just did not flow well AT ALL.

Regardless of the results of the film as a whole, Ryan Reynolds was a good Green Lantern. Certainly not an award winning performance, but that is not what you expect with Reynolds. This may not have been a successful production, but Reynolds can only work with what he has. The best character was Hector Hammond, a weirdo school teacher turned villain played by Peter Sarsgaard. In my unprofessional opinion Sarsgaard is quite possibly the scariest dude in Hollywood, which makes playing a scary villain rather easy for him. But still, hats off to him for being himself. The worst character was Blake Lively. Maybe it is just me, but she is supposed to play a bad girl. In Green Lantern she plays someone who has it all together and it just does not fit. Most of the other characters were computerized, so I see no need to mention them.

I did not expect much from the Green Lantern, and I got just what I expected. The only thing that I was impressed with was the special effects. Many people criticized the film for having too many effects, but I thought you kind of got what you paid for. Beyond that, most everything just sucked. I give Green Lantern 1.76 out 5 stars. Before I completely ruin your impression of this movie, let me say that if they make a sequel, I will go watch. There was so much time spent explaining what was happening that the story suffered greatly, but I do believe that they could create a good storyline and have a sequel that is better than the first. Let's start praying for that... right now.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Movie News

1. Armie Hammer, who played the Winklevi in The Social Network, has signed on to play the Lone Ranger in a movie version of the classic tv show. Johnny Depp will play Tonto.

2. George Lucas said that he has prepared 50 hours (two seasons worth) of a Star Wars tv show. Lucas said that he is waiting for a cheaper technology to come along that would make the show more economical. The show would be based on the period of time between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope.

3. Peter Jackson, director of the Lord of the Rings trilogy, has announced the names of the new films based on the Rings' prequel The Hobbit. The book has been split into two movies, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey and The Hobbit: There and Back Again.

4. The Hangover 3 is already being scripted. Director Todd Phillips has said that the third installment will be the final movie in The Hangover series and will be much different than the first and second films.

5. Shia LaBeouf says that he will not be involved in any more Transfomers movies. He also commented that he did not believe director Michael Bay would be involved in any more of the movies either.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Super 8

When I first saw the small trailer for Super 8 last summer, I was absolutely intrigued. I waited for a full trailer, and, when I saw it, I was not disappointed. The thing that most excited me about this movie was the fact that J.J. Abrams kept the details a secret. I don't know about you, but I hate the fact that most trailers tell the entire story in a minute. Nothing frustrates me more. I just want to be surprised! Because of my desire for surprise, I was more excited about Super 8 than any other movie this year and thought it would be the best movie of 2011.

Due to the secretive nature of the movie, I won't be able to go too deep into how things go about happening in Super 8. So go watch it! As you can tell from the trailer, something escapes from a wrecked train. The movie does have a sci fi feel at times, but J.J. Abrams does a great job of making the storyline more important than the sci fi themes. The story is very very real and makes it easy to connect to the characters. The best scene from the movie, in my opinion, is one where two of the boys are fighting about how they both like the same girl. It was just perfect and really showed how these friends meant more to each other than anything. At that age it is very true for most boys. In case you girls don't understand, guys don't fight with their friends like yall often do.

The use of the kids in the movie really helped me connect to the story and the characters. I can easily relate to a group of boys in their early teens. The experiences they had, aside from the mysterious stuff, was real. The best part was that Abrams didn't try to over do it with the kids. I even read that he allowed the kids to write many of their own lines, allowing them to act their own age. It is difficult to say who was the best character. All six of the kids were brilliant. One was obsessed with explosives, one was a cry baby, one was bossy, one was a girl, and the main character, Joe Lamb, was just a normal kid who had been through some tough family experiences. Joel Courtney did a phenomenal job playing Lamb. He went to Hollywood to try out for commercial spots, but he ended up with the lead role in Super 8. Not bad, huh?

Super 8 kicked other mysterious creature movies in the butt for one simple reason: IT HAD A REAL STORYLINE! I don't now if this is the perfect movie for everyone, but I loved it. J.J. Abrams remains one of my heroes (may LOST live on forever!). Last year the movie I was most excited about was Inception, which we all know as the best movie of 2010. Unfortunately, I don't believe my prediction is correct this year. Super 8 was good but not Inception-good. I give Super 8 4.09 out of 5 stars.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

X-Men: First Class

This is my first ever blog post, so everyone should be extremely excited to have the opportunity to read it! I tried not to spoil anything so you should be able to read without ruining the movie.

As a huge fan of the original three X-Men movies, I was certainly setting my expectations high for the prequel. The Wolverine origins movie was a disappointment to me, and I was scared that this would be too much like Wolverine. I am not a comic book buff so I did not know what the true storyline was supposed to be, leaving the movie as one big unbiased surprise for me. The biggest question for me was can they match the storyline up with the first three movies.

The feel of the movie overall stayed very true to that of the original X-Men movies. The opening scene was the exact scene from the beginning of the first X-Men movie, which surprised me a bit. Because of this scene, I really felt like the movie was connected to the first three films right off the bat. As you learned more and more about the main characters (Professor X and Magneto), the rest of the story began to unfold. There is an intriguing connection between the Professor and Mystique that I believe should have shown up in the other three movies if this were to be accurate. There are many other cool characters, but the true storyline is always kept as the most important: the relationship between Magneto and the Professor. The bad guy, played by Kevin Bacon, was a bit boring at times. I could care less about him. I just wanted them to get back to the X-Men. There were two things that I noticed that did not line up with the original films. In X2, Hank McCoy is not yet blue, and, in The Last Stand, the Professor and Magneto visit Jean Grey together, each walking quite well. Overall, I was interested the entire time but was not surprised enough. I wanted to see something awesome that had a result in the first movies, but I was never amazed.

James McAvoy was brilliant as the Professor. I felt the connection between him and Patrick Stewart immediately and was very satisfied with the choice. With Magneto on the other hand, I did not feel that connection. I don't know what it was, but Michael Fassbender just did not satisfy me. Jennifer Lawrence did a great job as Mystique, while Kevin Bacon just wasn't frightening enough as Sebastian Shaw. The best character award definitely goes to James McAvoy as Professor X. The worst character award goes to Rose Byrne, who played a CIA agent who somehow turned out to have a love connection. I just did not understand why she was at all necessary.

Not bad at all, considering they had to match this film with three others. Yes, there were some problems, but there were way fewer than I expected. The cast was good, not great. Certainly better than Wolverine, but not as good as the original trilogy. The best scene award goes to the director for having the guts to open with the same exact scene as the first X-Men movie. The worst scene was how the professor became paralyzed. It just wasn't exciting enough for me. Finally, I give the movie 3 out of 5 stars and will be buying it to add to my X-Men collection in the fall.