Sunday, July 11, 2010

What's up Netflix!

And, I finally go to the movies!

The Last Airbender- 2 stars- Wow, where to start... Based on the hit Nickelodeon animated show, it tells the story of Aang- the last Airbender. It should be noted that people on this world can control the elements: earth, water, fire, air. Every generation the Avatar is born, one who can control all the elements and keep the peace. 100 years before, the Avatar went missing. Now, he's returned still a boy and must immediately bring the warring nations back together. Sounds interesting, right?

This was one of the most annoying, boring, and insulting movies I have ever sat through. First, the writing is atrocious. If we have learned anything from the Harry Potter phenomenon, it's that children don't need to be spoken down to. The characters in this film must have repeated everything they said an average of three times. First there was the pointless voice over, then the actors would say the exact same thing the voice over did, then say it again 5 minutes later. This lead to me wanted to stab my ears with a spork. Second, I couldn't tell if the acting was stiff and forced or if they were making fun of Manga and classic Japanese Sci-fi. I kept expecting their mouths to move and the audio track not to line up. Jackson Rathbone is certainly easy on the eyes, but coming from the "Twilight" school of acting hasn't done him any favors. He has one face and one emotion. The young actors aren't any better, but we can forgive them their age... a bit. Finally, this is movie 1 of a projected 3 movies. All I have to say is, "No!" Has Hollywood not learned anything from The Golden Compass? I could have told all three "books" in one complete and satisfying movie in about 2.5 hours. Instead, we get 2 hours of nothing really happening and repetitive bull.

I will say, I saw it in 3D and the transfer was pretty good. The effects were nice and the creatures (especially Aang's flying/swimming Sendak-esque beaver monster was amazing).
Predators- 3 stars- I couldn't contain my excitement about seeing this movie. It has everything I love: monsters, big guns, Adrien Brody, and Robert Rodriguez (producing). Now, after seeing this movie, I'm left scratching my head. I can't decide if I liked it or not. The acting is great. Anyone who was nervous about Brody as a mercenary will get over that quickly. He looks and acts great. Alice Braga is wonderful as another killer dropped on a mysterious game preserve where humans are the game. Fans of the original "Predator" (myself included) will enjoy the hunt and progress of the film, yet miss the corny one-liners we all love. John McTiernan's ("Die Hard", "Last Action Hero", "The 13th Warrior") original seemed to keep the pace and adrenaline up once the fighting occurred. Here, in Nimrod Antal's version we get rest breaks and time to collect ourselves. Who wants that in an action/horror flick? Antal is a talented upstart with one of my favorite films under his belt ('04s "Kontrol") and is adept at building suspense ("Vacancy"). For whatever reason it feels it be too little too late in this film. Greg Nicotero is a genius (I think I've mentioned that before) and the creatures and effects look great. I loved the infra-red vision of the Predators and its direct link to the previous films. So, what stopped me from giving this the 4 stars I so wanted to bestow? Pacing and story. There's a twist at the end that seems forced and unnecessary (though it does answer the question, "What is he doing here?"). The frequent pauses between action, fighting, running, and gore brought me out of the story every time. I'm not saying they should run for 90 straight minutes, but the tension got lost in the shuffle every time. It didn't help that I was in the most respectful theatre in the world. No one gasped, no one laughed, no one yelled at the screen. What's the point of seeing a horror flick in the theatre if no one else is laughing or yelling out, "Don't go in there girl!" I think that says it all. Rent it and go all MST3K in the privacy of your own home.

Brief Interviews with Hideous Men- 3 stars- Based on the David Foster Wallace book and adapted and directed by "The Office" star John Krasinski, "Brief Interviews" is an almost picture. I've never read the source material, but now I want to. Told out of chronological order, it follows a grad student (Julianne Nicholson- whom I love but is TV poison) as she interviews and is interviewed to by men of all walks of life. The question is women: how do they feel, how do they respond to, how they treat them. The interviews are the most interesting aspect of the film, while her personal life (and possible source for her questions) flits in and out. She's followed by two Shakespearean muses who themselves give monologues on women and their interpretation of them, which she cannot hear. Is that the point? That women cannot hear what's right next to them? That it is only in a clinical and sterile setting that we can process men? The question is never answered. I fell asleep a bit during this movie so I subtracted one star- I was tired or it would have been more. The acting is interesting and I would love to see this as a stage play (which is where Krasinski first witnessed it, as an actor in school), but I feel it lacks a bit of something in the transition to film. Recommended for those who miss mid-90s gab fest indies.

Uncertainty- 4 stars- In my mind, Joseph Gordon-Levitt can do no wrong. He is my secret Hollywood boyfriend made all the more appealing for living in New York. Uncertainty is about the choices we make every day. A young couple stands on the Brooklyn Bridge debating how to spend their day. Finally, they decide to flip a coin: heads Manhattan, tales Brooklyn. When the coin lands each speeds off in the opposite direction. Each borough is identified by colour- Manhattan is yellow, Brooklyn green. This colour scheme plays throughout each vignette. In Manhattan, the couple unknowingly becomes involved in a murder and blackmail scheme. In Brooklyn, they spend the day with the girl's parents. Each is set with its own problems, some just more obvious than others. The girl, played by Lynn Collins ("X-Men: Wolverine") takes some warming up. On the bridge in the beginning she is stiff and awkward in her acting. It's made more obvious as she is acting across of Gordon-Levitt who is seamless in his reality, whether playing Cobra Commander (the only good thing in that movie) or a hopeless romantic in "(500) Days of Summer", he is flawless. Therefore, an actor must really up their game to play opposite. In scenes where he is not present, Collins opens up a bit more; but is still the weak link in the film. I really liked this movie and it reminded me of what independent cinema used to be. I'm curious to see what directors David Siegel and Scott McGehee ("The Deep End", "Bee Season") come up with next. Their repertoire is already so diverse. Great for fans of indie, romance, and capers.

Valentine's Day- 3 stars- This is certainly a flawed movie, but what were you expecting? Oscar? I expected to hate this movie, the reviews were horrible and I'm always weary of such large ensemble pieces. Outside of a Robert Altman film they don't always go so well. On the whole though, I had a good time with my bottle of wine and a fit of girlish giggles. Each character interacts in some way, shape, or form with each other over the course of February 14th. Some are in love, some jaded, some not sure what love even is or if they want it. The strongest characters for me was Jennifer Gardner (in love and naïve), Jessica Biel (career gal with no time or patience for love), Anne Hathaway (sex-phone operator in her spare time), and Bradley Cooper (lonely airplane passenger chatting up Julia Roberts). Surprisingly good in this as well was Ashton Kutcher. I completely forget he's an actor and not just Mr. Demi Moore. The script played well into his strengths without regressing into slapstick. Certainly a film only for ladies who want to feel "better" about themselves, and are not worried about the gross stereotypical fashion in which both we, as well as men, are displayed.

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