Thursday, May 29, 2014
When I was a young warthog, my grandfather and I would watch Godzilla all day, to the point that it bordered an unhealthy amount of television staring. I thought it was great because he thought it was great, and he thought it was even better because I thought it was great. Because of this nostalgic bond between grandfather, grandson, and giant lizard, there was no doubt that I would be checking out the new Godzilla film. Then, quite unexpectedly, the trailer for the film came out, and I think most people would agree that it was the most well-made trailer of 2014, thus far. Suddenly, a film that I was planning to view solely for nostalgic purposes turned into a film that I was planning to view because it looked like it would be freakin awesome! My expectations for Godzilla have gradually risen over the past four or five months, to the point that it made my list of five most anticipated dramatic films for the entire summer. Yet, the question remained... Would Godzilla be the film that did nothing but bring back fond memories, or would it be the film that rocked my socks off?
Considering how predictable a Godzilla storyline tends to be, I have to say that I was fairly impressed with the way the story was delivered. There was nothing too groundbreaking about the plot, but at least it was entertaining. Additionally, the story did a great job of focusing on family relationships, particularly the father/son relationship, which is not something you necessarily expect to take away from a film about a giant green lizard. My biggest problem was with the over-dramatization of Godzilla's screams? barks? howls?... whatever you call it when he opens his mouth and makes noise. Personally, I love that sound, mostly because it means "Godzilla is about to do something epic!" However, the dramatization of the noise, each and every time that he made the sound, shut out all music, all gunfire, all explosions, all discussion, and all everything, which made it come off as a bit "over-done," in my opinion. On the other hand, the skydiving above Godzilla scene pretty much made me forget anything bad to that point, on account of its being awesome.
As I said previously, the family relationship really brought out something in the film that is typically lacking when viewing any Godzilla film. The only thing that would have made it better was if Godzilla would have had some sort of family to rescue as well... I'm just kidding... That would've certainly been overkill.
I really like what Ken Watanabe brings to the table, in pretty much any film, with his whole barely-understandable-dramatic voice and Japaneseness. However, I don't think he was really given a good tie-in to the film, as scientist, Dr. Ishiro Serizawa. There was something missing to connect the science to the real-life, and I feel like he should have brought it. At the same time, I may have missed everything he said or tried to say (you really can't understand him), due to the terribly insignificant distraction that was Sally Hawkins' Vivienne Graham. Unfortunately for Hawkins, the launch of her post-Blue Jasmine career took a huge shot in the arm, courtesy of Godzilla.
The relationship between Joe Brody (Bryan Cranston) and his son Ford (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) was the absolute key to making this entire film work, and both actors did a great job in their respective roles. There is no doubt in my mind that Bryan Cranston gave the best male dramatic performance that I had yet to see in 2014 (until James McAvoy stole the crown a few days later). This man can seriously act, and I think he has a very bright post-Breaking Bad career ahead of him. My hope is that he is not forever defined by Walter White, because he really is great. As good as the Ford character was, he now holds the record for a non-superhero avoiding the most near-death experiences. The guy never really got caught or anything. He is just one lucky dude.
Godzilla was not the greatest action film ever made, but I did enjoy myself. On top of that, the heart of the film was great and unexpected, which always makes for a nice surprise. As for nostalgic value, technology has pretty much erased all hope of really getting the same Godzilla feel from the old black and white films. On top of that, I'm not sure the film what quite as epic as the trailer set it up to be, but, thankfully, I did get to bring with me an awesome guest, who added ample amounts of value to the film... my grandfather. Add my guest of honor to a pretty good film, and you have yourself a winner. I give nostalgia 4.99 out 5 stars. I give Godzilla 3.23 out of 5 stars.
Monday, May 26, 2014
Holy moly! I could not wait for X-Men: Days of Future Past! When you go to the movies as much as I do, that giddy, movie-going feeling is diluted a bit, particularly in the summer months. From now until the end of August, I will likely grace the movie theater at least once a week, which means I will see many good, bad, and mediocre films. I will be excited about many and reluctant about a few, but there is absolutely no film that will get me as excited as I was for the X-Men se-pre-quel that I have been waiting on for about two years. In fact, I don't think I have been as excited for a film since 2012's The Dark Knight Rises. I love all of the mutants, and the entire X-Men storyline (yes, even The Last Stand). So, as you might expect, I anticipated great things with X-Men: Days of Future Past. I mean, come on! All of the freaking mutants, young and old, on one screen! It was sure to be absolutely brilliant!
It was absolutely brilliant! I have no clue how Simon Kinberg and Bryan Singer were able to tie together the separate time periods and storylines as seamlessly as they did. Add to that their ability to create infinite potential storylines, and you have what could only be described as genius. For years, I've been baffled by the fact that the X-Men franchise was unable to become what Disney's Marvel franchise has become over the past few years. The answer may be found in the fact that Disney owns half of the world already. Regardless, I am certainly hopeful that the amazingly in-depth storyline of Days of Future Past doesn't fly over the heads of those who know no better than Captain America = Good and Loki = Bad. In my opinion, the Avengers will never be able to pull off a story anywhere close to the greatness that the X-Men just unleashed.
What makes the X-Men franchise so fascinating is the vast potential of new and old characters that could be brought in out of nowhere. Honestly, I wish there was an X-Men TV show. I would watch the crap out of that! Here are a few high/low-lights of the Days of Future Past cast...
With such a large cast and so much going on, it would be impossible for Singer to bat 1.000, but he gave it his all. Unfortunately, there was one character that felt out of place for pretty much the entire film, and that was Nicholas Hoult's Beast/Hank. While his presence was necessary for a good portion of the storyline, he lacked an original storyline. On top of that, his infatuation with Jennifer Lawrence's Mystique/Raven was definitely forced, which distracted from the story at hand. Aside from Beast, the only other character who wasn't great was Lucas Till's Havok/Alex. With the quick deletion of many First Class cast members, his short time on screen was mostly just an annoying tease. I wanted to see more Havok!
Allow me a moment to dote upon American Horror Story's main man and future mega-movie-star, Mr. Evan Peters. While many of you were (are) likely unfamiliar with Peters, he has always been impressive to me, particularly in AHS season 2. In Days of Future Past, Peters' Quicksilver/Peter singlehandedly created the most entertaining moments of the entire film, without a doubt in my mind. I can't wait to see what his future has in store! Additionally, James McAvoy (Professor X/Charles) was able to blow me away, yet again. McAvoy was my favorite part of First Class, and I'm glad that he was given such a large spotlight, yet again, in the sequel. Of course, Michael Fassbender was great, but I do think he was a bit underused in this film... Though, the movie couldn't go on forever.
If there were a 2014 film that I wished went on forever, X-Men: Days of Future Past would be that film. Kudos to anyone involved in the making of this gloriously perfect film. Sure, there were a few hiccups, but, considering the task at hand, the filmmakers did a great job. After both The Avengers and The Dark Knight, I had a moment of realization that I would never be impressed by those sets of superheroes to that level, ever again. However, leaving the theater on Friday night, I could think of nothing but future possibilities for the X-Men franchise. Days of Future Past may have been good, but I truly believe that the future of the X-Men franchise will kick the butt of the franchise's past... a past that I already loved. X-Men: Days of Future Past gets 4.34 out of 5 stars. Go watch it!
A special side note:
X-Men: First Class was actually the first film that I reviewed on my blog. It is pretty easy to tell that I had no clue what I was doing, but, if you want, you can check it out here.
Thursday, May 15, 2014
While I do love Seth Rogen and the premise behind Neighbors, I just couldn't get excited about this film. The trailer is funny. The cast is great. Still... no excitement. Either way, when it comes to R-rated comedies, I'm a sucker of the grandest kind. If you haven't figured that out by now, then you probably haven't read many of my reviews. Honestly, I didn't expect much out of this one, in a positive or negative way. I just always knew I would watch it. After such a long review of Spider-Man, this review may fly by (for you, the reader)...
The most surprisingly awesome thing about Neighbors wasn't the humor but, instead, the clever nature of the plot, particularly the way that both groups of neighbors poked fun and got back at the other. The plot of this film was really well thought out, and, while there were ridiculous extremities, the heart of the film was built on the redeeming and destructive qualities of fraternities. Now, I'm not in a fraternity, so I can't speak to each and every aspect. Also, I do know that each fraternity is different. However, when you put a large number of guys in that sort of situation, there is no doubt that hilarity is destined to ensue. Kudos to the filmmakers for not stretching the storyline or going too far over the top. I really enjoyed the story, although Zac Efron's Teddy was a bit bipolar. If that character had been better, the film would have been perfect.
The success of this film was heavily built on the relationship and personality of young couple Mac and Kelly Radner, played wonderfully by Seth Rogen and Rose Byrne. Because of the situation, I expected the couple to be a bit uptight, judging, and fairytale-esque. However, in the first ten minutes we see Seth Rogen's good-guy character smoking a joint at work, implying that he isn't as goodie-goodie as the trailer made him out to be. Soon after, it was evident that the couple was going through some kind of early-life crisis, which brought an entirely different element to the film. We were able to see the couple re-live their younger days, in an attempt to befriend/influence their younger neighbors, and it was just a whole lot of fun.
As I previously said, Zac Efron's Teddy was just a very confused character, and it really took away from the ultimate success of the film. In the beginning, Teddy had it all together and was the epitome of success, with a bright future ahead of him. I mean, most fraternity presidents aren't idiots! But, as the story went on, he became whatever the film needed him to be, whether that was smart, dumb, successful, or incompetent. Aside from that issue (it was a large, glaring one), the cast was great!
On top of the perfectly created "family next door," there were many great and hilarious performances in Neighbors. My favorite frat guy, by far, was Dave Franco's Pete, who was an absolutely perfect example of a true frat guy (opinion). Normally, I don't care for Franco, whose range is quite small, but he was great in this film. My final note of praise goes to Ike Barinholtz's Jimmy, who "snuck" his was into quite a few memorable moments. Looking back, the scenes in which Barinholtz was the focal point really were the most memorable of the entire film, and his character could have been an absolute disaster, considering he was fairly pointless.
Considering the current state of the R-rated comedy, I welcome Neighbors with open arms! There have been so, so many stupid comedies, over the past two years, which makes me a lot easier to please, at this point. Neighbors wasn't as good as This Is the End or 21 Jump Street, but it was much better than I expected, which is always quite a nice feeling. With many more exciting comedies still to come in 2014, I can only hope that everything else is as good as or better than Neighbors. If you want a good laugh, Neighbors is good bet. I give Neighbors 3.57 our of 5 stars.
Tuesday, May 13, 2014
If you want to read my opinion on the state of the Spider-Man movie franchise (including my opinion of the original Spider-Man trilogy), check out my review of the first film of The Amazing Spider-Man series here.
As I trotted off to the theater last weekend, the only thing I had heard about The Amazing Spider-Man 2 was that there was just too much going on in the film. Too many bad guys... Too many storylines... Too much stuff... Regardless, there was no way that I could skip out on one of the biggest films of 2014. However, I did realize that I have not actually been uber-excited about a single Spider-Man film since the very first one hit theaters in 2002. In fact, it's as if I only go watch the films out of respect for the comic book hero that I loved as a child. Growing up, Spider-Man was my favorite superhero (until Batman swooped in and took his crown), but the films have never been able to get me as excited as the plastic figures that I played with as a child. Thinking of my prior love for the web-slinger, I've decided that Spider-Man is the perfect superhero for kids, because he is young and they have a hope of being him in just a few years. But, at my age (and even as a teenager), his life is not something that I desire or really care to take interest in. I don't really understand why I don't care for the film version of Spider-Man, because I really love other films about teenagers... That's just how it is...
Other's comments regarding The Amazing Spider-Man 2 having too many significant storylines were absolutely spot-on. However, I don't agree that there were too many villains. The problem lied in how important and in need of screen time those villains turned out to be. Electro (played by Jamie Foxx) was a fantastic character, and, because of his need to be built up, the film wasn't able to focus on the building up of Harry Osborn (played by the great Dane DeHaan). The entire theme of the film was built around best utilizing the time that you have with the people that you love, and, unfortunately, the filmmakers didn't even know how to best utilize their time. To me, it doesn't make any sense to cram all of this film's stories into one film, mostly because we live in a day where a studio could put out three Spider-Man films in one year and each would make hundreds of millions of dollars. The big, shocking moment at the end of the film (which I did not expect) couldn't even be fully enjoyed, due to the fact that the rest of the film was so patchy and poorly constructed. Then, after this big event in the continual Spider-Man storyline, we were forced to rush through a process of grief, absence, and reemergence, all in about three minutes. Why can't superhero fans ever be left with a little bit of suspense?!?
As I said previously, there weren't really any characters that I think should have been omitted from the film. Actually, I loved both Dane DeHaan and Jamie Foxx in their respective villainous roles, and I am really looking forward to seeing how the Spidey-villain development process continues. In my opinion, Harry Osborn should have been introduced in this film, playing only a minor role, which would have allowed for more focus on Foxx's Electro. But, who am I to write the film?
My least favorite parts of the film involved the hugely unsatisfying answers regarding the death and legacy of Peter Parker's (Andrew Garfield) parents, Richard and Mary, played by Campbell Scott and Embeth Davidtz. The entire reboot of the Spider-Man franchise was built on the promise of Peter Parker discovering what happened to his parents, and, as you might expect, I had built up a fair amount of anticipation for the outcome of that promise. Unfortunately, I was not at all satisfied with the very science-heavy answer that just screamed Marvel. Additionally, I saw absolutely no need for Peter's Aunt May (Sally Field) to go down the road of financial struggle and finding a job. Unnecessary storylines like that one really took away from the effectiveness of this film.
In the first film, I really hated the relationship between Peter Parker and Gwen Stacy, played by Emma Stone. Thankfully, that relationship was handled a little bit better in this film and made for one heck of a scene that cannot be mentioned (spoilers!). Heck, the relationship may not have actually been any better, but THAT SCENE!!! Also, as I said, I loved Jamie Foxx's Electro, and I thought his character was so very interesting. Kudos to Foxx for playing the character well, and kudos to technology for making the visually enticing aspects of Electro possible.
For such a mediocre film, I sure had a lot to say about it!... Some critics have been overly critical of The Amazing Spider-Man 2, but I really think the film accomplished what it wanted to accomplish. The only place that it failed (in an epic way) was with the ridiculous airplane scenes that had absolutely nothing to do with anything... at all! Was the film perfect?... No. But, I still have a lot of hope for the future of the franchise. Hope that will likely be killed when the next trailer is released, but, nonetheless, it is hope! If you like superhero movies, you'll probably like The Amazing Spider-Man 2. If you don't like superhero movies, you probably won't like The Amazing Spider-Man 2. I give The Amazing Spider-Man 2 2.34 out of 5 stars.
Tuesday, May 6, 2014
For two years, I lived on campus, which I wouldn't trade for anything in the world. There were many Nerf wars, sporting events, movie-viewings, and random trips to Wal Mart, each of which was likely distracting from impending homework. I met so, so many amazing people, from fellow students to faculty to staff and so forth. Never again will I have the opportunity to live like I lived on campus, and, while I am still hopeful for the future, that does sadden me a bit.
As time went on, I made so many potentially life-altering decisions, some of which did not appear to be so important at the time. I moved off campus, into an apartment. I accepted and turned down jobs that could have shaped my career in very different ways. I only changed my major once, but I still change my goals for life pretty much every day. I learned how to actually write, which ultimately lead to this blog. I spent a lot of time with a great girl, who I eventually proposed to (inside the fountain at the Trent Lott Center on campus). I had the opportunity to serve so many awesome junior high and high school kids at my church that I've been able to mature alongside (at very different levels!). I poured my heart into many great sporting events and served my university through various on-campus organizations. I learned a lot about business, movies, TV, people, God, sports, writing, women, Tanner, procrastination, Southern Miss, teenagers, swimming pools, parking violations, and just life in general.
Now, as I sit here in the library, writing about my feelings, it's easy to see how my time at Southern Miss has not been a temporary experience, but, instead, it has become my life. A few weeks ago, when life got a bit overwhelming, I rode over to campus, left my phone in the car, and spent some time talking with God and calming my anxious spirit. Before I went, I didn't really think about why I went to campus, when I could have just gone to my room or the church or even just stayed in my car. I realized, as I walked around and prayed, that there will never be another place in the world that fills me with as much comfort and serenity as the campus of The University of Southern Mississippi. There is no way to adequately explain why that is, because there truly is some sort of magic about Southern Miss that fits perfectly with the very small part of me that believes in "magical" things and feelings. In case none of that made sense, I was trying to say that this place is pretty freaking awesome.
Looking back, four years later, I'm preparing for yet another "summer camp" experience, where I introduce something brand new into my life. At first, it's sure to feel awkward and temporary, but, as time goes by, it will become my life. Do I know where I'm headed?... Not at all. Am I ready?... I don't know. But, I know that God will guide my path, and, if all else fails, I will always find comfort in his arms and in the arms of The University of Southern Mississippi...
I could have gone on forever, but, instead, here are a few pictures for you, because they are worth 1,000 words...
I caught a We the Kings drumstick at Eaglepalooza... pretty cool stuff!
Sweet thang's graduation (the first one)
Diligent studying in Apartment 178E
I ate nothing else for my entire freshman year
We locked the keys in the car after I spilt Sprite on my leg... what a memory
Me and sweet thang on the fake friendship oak
Freshman Finale 2010 (that was four years ago!)
We are so old!
We were kicked and beaten by the students sitting behind us, but we overcame!
Trying to mimic the football poster from that season
We look good... Eagles for Phil!
We actually beat Memphis (I'm in there somewhere)
My 21st birthday... Rockette-style
Gatti Town... The casino for kids!
My last day on the Judicial Board... Fun memories
Baseball... We still look good
This is not a re-enactment...
She had no idea what was going on...
She was just taking my picture because she dared me to get in the fountain, and I did!
Without my parents and football, who knows if I ever become a Golden Eagle...
Peace out, undergrads! Catch you on the flippity flop... Southern Miss To The Top!!! (That rhymed)
Thursday, May 1, 2014
Somehow, I managed to watch a good many movies in April. I guess I caught the film bug, because many of my TV shows have been totally neglected for the past few weeks. Regardless, it was exciting to have the chance to watch some of my old favorites. It had been quite some time since I last watch The Dark Knight, which is totally unacceptable. Also, I had the opportunity to introduce yet another person to The Prestige, which may or may not be even better than The Dark Knight, depending on what day you ask me. Regardless, Christopher Nolan is a genius, and you should watch every single one of his films... immediately.
Take a look at all of the movies I watched in April:
|Movie Watched||Year||Format||Did I Enjoy?||Would I Watch Again?|
|Captain America: The Winter Soldier||2014||Theater > Full Price||Yes||Maybe|
|Gravity||2013||Blu-Ray > Redbox||Yes||Yes|
|Despicable Me 2||2013||Blu-Ray > Borrowed||Yes||Yes|
|Bad Words||2014||Theater > Matinee||Some||No|
|21 Jump Street||2012||DVD > Own||Yes||Yes|
|The Dark Knight (Movie of the Month!)||2010||Blu-Ray > Own||Yes||Yes|
|X-Men||2000||DVD > Own||Yes||Yes|
|Midnight in Paris||2011||DVD > Own||Yes||Yes|
|The Cider House Rules||1999||TV > Netflix||Yes||No|
|The Secret Life of Walter Mitty||2013||Blu-Ray > Own||Yes||Yes|
|The Prestige||2006||DVD > Own||Yes||Yes|