Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Great Expectations: May 2013

It's time to break out the popcorn, theaters! People are prepping for the 3D, blow your socks off graphics that are so good that you need popcorn to distract you from the actual film. Personally, I haven't bought anything from the theater's concession stand in probably like three years. Add that to the fact that I usually watch matinees, and you will understand why I don't really help the theater's profits. Normally, I would encourage everyone to be cheap like me, but, in this case, I need y'all to waste your money at the theater, so that it won't shut down for any reason... EVER!!! I won't bore you with an explanation of the awesomeness that comes with summer movies. If you do need to be reminded, here is a link to my 2013 summer movie preview: CLICK ME. Here are some films that I'm really looking forward to this May...

The Great Gatsby
(May 10)
Star Trek Into Darkness
(May 17)
The Hangover: Part III
(May 24)
The Kings of Summer
(May 31)

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Summer Preview: 2013


With the release of Iron Man 3 on May 3, the 2013 summer movie season will officially begin, and it is time to get excited, folks! The summer of 2012 was not the most satisfying, so I'm hopeful that we will see a great improvement in 2013. FYI... I categorize the months of May-August as the "summer movie months," disqualifying any films that are released outside of this broad date range. Below, I have listed five categories of film expectations that I have for this summer. All of the lists are in complete random order, so you get to guess which will top each list! Chachingiest Expectations includes films that I expect to make the most money. This list may be completely wrong, as I did zero research on what films are expected to have high grosses. Lowest Expectations includes films that I don't really think will be worth watching, and I may never know whether they are worth it, because I may not even watch. Bombing Expectations includes films that I believe will fail to meet their monetary expectations (like 2012's John Carter or Battlefield). Finally, my High Expectations categories, for both drama and comedy, include films that I expect to be the best of the summer of 2013. Can these films meet my high expectations? Only time will tell. So, grab your 3D glasses, take them to the theater, buy a 2D ticket, and sneak in to the 3D movie, because it's clever! Happy summer, folks!

Chachingiest Expectations
Fast and Furious 6

Monsters University

Despicable Me 2

Iron Man 3

Man of Steel

Lowest Expectations
The Smurfs 2

The Wolverine

White House Down

World War Z

Bombing Expectations
The Lone Ranger

Grown Ups 2

Now You See Me

Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters

Highest Dramatic Expectations

Man of Steel

Star Trek Into Darkness

The Way, Way Back

Highest Comedic Expectations
This Is the End

The Hangover Part III

The Internship

Sunday, April 21, 2013

The Place Beyond the Pines

For the most part, when I go to watch a not-so-mainstream film like The Place Beyond the Pines, I tend to prefer more quirky, comedic films, such as last year's Safety Not Guaranteed or Steve Carrell's upcoming The Way, Way Back. However, the trailer for The Place Beyond the Pines greatly intrigued me, and, after seeing Silver Lining's Playbook, I will probably watch anything starring Bradley Cooper. He really impressed me in that film, and I couldn't wait to see him in another drama (also pumped for The Hangover Part III!!!). Even so, I was a bit hesitant, because I'm not a huge fan of Ryan Gosling in his bad boy roles. I watched Drive in 2011, hoping that it would be really gripping, but I just didn't care for it, especially compared to his role in The Ides of March. Gosling's role looked to be extremely similar to his role in Drive, save the car, add the bike. So, in an intrigued state of hesitance, I trekked off to watch The Place Beyond the Pines...

More so than any film I've ever seen (that wasn't converted from the stage), The Place Beyond the Pines was separated into three defined acts that had very unique stories. The most unique thing was how easily the story flowed with very little interaction between the main characters, Gosling's Luke and Cooper's Avery. Each character had their own story, which was very intriguing. Avery's story, in my opinion, was absolutely amazing, as it was as simple and honest as anything I have ever seen. The lack of over-dramatization really had me hooked, and I could not get over how simple the plot surrounding Avery was. In a matter of seconds, his life went from ordinary to complicated. I won't spoil it for you, but it was a situation that any cop could find himself in, which increased the simplicity. Although I'm dwelling on this one part of the story, the other two acts were also great. The ending wasn't quite as good as I would have liked and expected, but it was still quite satisfying.

While I didn't think the performances were amazing, the characters certainly were. With Luke and Avery at the center of the drama, the other characters were able to feed off of that drama, without becoming an unnecessary distraction. Kudos to whoever created these characters and brought this film to life.

As I said, the simplicity of the film kept out the complicated, unnecessary characters. As a result, the negatives were few and far between. However, there were a couple that I found subpar. Kofi, the boyfriend of Eva Mendes's Romina, played by Mahershala Ali, was not exactly what I thought he should have been. I think maybe he was the one character that needed a bit more drama and possibly a different actor to play the role. Was he awful? No. But, he could have been a better character. Also, Emery Cohen was not a good match for his role as AJ, the son of Avery. For some reason, I just couldn't stand him.

I won't spend too much more time praising Bradley Cooper's Avery, but the role was just amazing. Gosling's Luke was also great, and I preferred him a ton compared to Gosling's character in Drive, who was similar. He was a lot more likable, resulting in more compassion on my part. Because I cared for both of the main characters, there were conflicting emotions that had my feelings confused. The other character that I loved was Ben Mendelsohn's Robin, who sort of took Luke in and helped him get up on his feet, giving me a chance to like him. Mendelsohn's performance was probably the best in the entire film, so be on the lookout, if you decide to go watch.

The Place Beyond the Pines blew every other 2013 movie, to this point, WAY out of the water, and I want to strongly urge you to all go watch this film. The story itself and the way that it's told was just brilliant, which is something that is hard for dramas these days. As I said in my expectations, usually I don't like straight dramas, because I prefer to laugh a bit along the way. If you look at my best drama list from 2012, the only comedy-free films on the list were The Impossible and Les Miserables. Even Argo featured the oh so funny Alan Arkin. I usually can't connect to characters who have these super dramatic things happening without any comedic relief, but this film did such a good job of balancing that drama with reality, making it a great success, even without the comedic aspect. Kudos to everyone involved with this film, which absolutely blew me away. I give The Place Beyond the Pines 4.03 out of 5 stars.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

The Host

At the beginning of the month, I couldn't really decide if I should attempt to fit The Host into my movie schedule. Anything written by the Twilight author can't be THAT good, but I was willing to give it a shot. Then, after seeing the measly 12% positive reviews on Rotten Tomatoes, I was officially ready to watch almost anything else (except for G.I. Joe). However, at this point, it was too late. I had already told my girlfriend (huge Twilight fan) that we could go, and I was not getting out of it. So, with my expectations depleted, I headed out to watch a Twilight-written Invasion of the Body Snatchers, hoping that there would be very little sucking face and a lot of socking faces in. With my expectations being so low, The Host had an opportunity to surprise me.

Well, the premise was far from original, but the biggest problem was the strangeness and awkwardness of the conversations between Melanie (Saoirse Ronan) and her body-snatcher Wanda the Wonderer. There is nothing logical about a girl having a conversation in her own head with an alien life form that has taken over her body. However, The Host did an absolutely awful job of displaying that unnatural conversation. I just couldn't take any part of the movie seriously, because it almost felt like a comedy, as if it were a sketch on Saturday Night Live. I'm still baffled that the director and/or Stephanie Meyer couldn't figure out some better way to display this conversation. I think the story could have been good if I wasn't laughing at the awkward stupidity throughout. But, I was laughing at the awkward stupidity throughout.

The Host was one of those films that centered on one character with the potential for a future that focuses on many characters, much like The Hunger Games. Katniss was the obvious focus of the first film, but I have a feeling that we will delve deeper into many more characters as the movie series moves along, even though she will remain the focal point. Melanie/Wanda was at the very center of the entire storyline, but there were many others around her. They just weren't given a chance to really develop as characters. If these characters would have been given a backstory of some kind, I might've been a bit more interested in their well being, but, instead, I didn't really feel like I was supposed to care about anyone, aside from Melanie/Wanda.

The Seeker, played by Diane Kruger, was undoubtedly the most annoying of the characters in the film, and she just popped up at random moments. Sure, every alien invasion movie needs a villain, but that villain should not be so attractive or annoying. Additionally, I could not stand either love interest. Both Ian, played by Jake Abel, and Jared, played by Max Irons, were randomly thrown into the mix. Jared was not as random, but Ian was head over heels for Wanda in less than three minutes, as was Wanda for him. Love stories rarely work for me, because I'm not a teenage girl. However, these relationships were so illogical and weird that I could not help laughing my butt off at some of the moments that were meant to be serious.

Although her decision to play Melanie/Wanda was completely dumb, Saoirse Ronan is a terrific actress with a very bright future ahead of her (and she looks 10 times better than Kristen Stewart). Unfortunately, The Host was not a film that will be receiving many accolades in the acting categories, for Ronan or anyone else. I did like Jamie, played by the young Chandler Canterbury, but that was about it.

Was The Host better than Twilight? ABSOLUTELY... Was The Host better than anything else? NOT MUCH... Unfortunately, this film was unable to exceed my low expectations, and Rotten Tomatoes, once again, predicted my lack of love for this young-adult adaption. The problem was not the story (I hope Stephanie Meyer reads this somehow). The problem was the way the story was put on screen. The film was directed by Andrew Niccol, who directed In Time (back in 2011), and the film had the same feel as In Time did--dull and quiet. Luckily, I do have some good news... Because the film bombed so hard last weekend, I don't expect we will be seeing a sequel to The Host on the big screen. Actually, the young-adult novel adaptation phase of Hollywood's storied history is finally coming to a close. THANK GOD!!! I give The Host 2.02 out of 5 stars, because the last Twilight film got 2.01 out of 5.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Great Expectations: April 2013

Nothing says April quite like the start of baseball season, and, this April, we get to enjoy a brand new baseball movie, as we ring in a new baseball year. If you are a huge fan of America's pastime, like me, then you inherently have a special connection to baseball films. Maybe you are a comedic guy who loves Major League or The Bad News Bears. Maybe you like the true baseball story, like The Rookie, Eight Men Out, or Moneyball. Or, maybe you like original films, such as Field of Dreams, The Sandlot, Angels in the Outfield, or The Natural. Personally, I love every single film that I have mentioned thus far, and I hope to enjoy the upcoming 42 just as much! Jackie Robinson did more for the game of baseball and for civil rights than most give him credit for, and I can't wait to hear more about his story. Also, I can't wait to see how Tom Cruise saves the world. If successful, I have a feeling that he would be an even bigger success than Jackie Robinson...
(April 12)

(April 19)