When is Hollywood going to stop trying to reinvent Ryan Reynolds as something other than a sleazy party frat boy? He seems destined to fail as any role that isn’t Van Wilder, yet they seem to keep throwing him choice roles.
What undeserved role has he been handed this time? None other than one of my personal favorites, Highlander. Yes, they are taking a near perfect movie and remaking it with an actor who once stared in a movie that featured a baby excreting into daddies mouth. While I’ll give him Deadpool as he played it in the bad Wolverine movie, this is just dumb. Can he really do a Scottish accent? Will he grow out his hair? Can he go five minutes without smirking at the camera or nailing the nearest slut?
I don’t know. Maybe I’m wrong on this and he will surprise me. I thought he was decent in Safe House, now that I think about it. Maybe he can do something decent. It’s just that based on his performance in Green Lantern I kind of doubt it.
The pillage shirt I think is really funny. I found it in Dave’s funny t shirt collection, unsurprisingly enough.
Anyway, Brave. If this were a stand alone Disney movie I would have to call it brilliant. As a Pixar film I’m going to have to call it mediocre. Still entertaining, but just not to the standard that I have become accustomed to.
Have you ever known a couple who start dating, move in together, and over the course of time end up looking, dressing, and sounding exactly like each other? This seems to be what is happening with the marriage of Disney and Pixar, except in this case it is Pixar, like the subservient personality in the relationship, that is evolving into Disney, not so much the other way around. This film definitely has a Disney flavor to it, and I for one feels this bodes ill for Marvel laboring under the thumb of Disney. Of course, the Avengers was amazing so maybe I don’t have to worry so much. (Marvel Comics Con image courtesy of the Marvel Comic T Shirt category)
Let’s see if any of this sounds familiar to any of you Disney fans out there: a young princess is being cajoled into something she doesn’t want to do by her parents and wants to rebel. She meets a witch who gives her a spell that goes horrible awry and has to spend the rest of the film dealing with the consequences and trying to fix it. This is where I get disappointed in Pixar. I expect them to come out with some thing clever and original, not something so formulaic and Disney cookie cutter.
Not to say it wasn’t fun or entertaining. (some modest spoilers incoming so if you want to miss them skip ahead a couple paragraphs) The story is of young Merida, a Scottish princess and tom boy who loves archery and horseback riding. She is the darling of her giant father the king, Fergus, who lost his leg to a terrifying bear Mordu, and the constant headache for her uptight mother Elinor. She has three young triplet brothers who are total scamps.
Anyway, her mother wants her to marry one of the sons of the three clan heads. She doesn’t want to get married (and given that she is like 14 in this movie I can’t really blame her) and causes all kinds of trouble. She wanders into to forest and finds a witch who gives her a spell to cast on her mother to change her. Her mother gets turned into a giant bear and it is up to Merida to keep her hidden from her father (who is known as the “Bear King” and kills all bears on sight) while trying to figure out how to reverse the spell. Scottish highlander hijinks ensues.
As I do with pretty much all kids movies I will forgo my normal star/black hole rating system. I generally judge them on how the kids in the audience reacts, and in this case they were enjoying the hell out of it. Lots of cute action, bright colors, and funny Scottish accents.
The animation was as amazing as I have ever seen. When you see it I invite you to pay particular attention to the animation of Merida’s horse Angus. It is unreal how cool and real it is, while still being a cartoon. The story is linear and simple enough for kids, but the characters and dialog are entertaining enough to engage an adult. Overall a very good movie. If I were to pick one thing to complain about it’s in calling the movie “Brave”. While no one in the film acts in a cowardly manner I didn’t see anything I would consider examples of extreme bravery. Normally if you call a movie Brave it’s because you want to impart some important lesson about bravery. Maybe a young warrior froze up on his first battlefield and has to face the demon of perhaps being a coward. I didn’t see Merida do a lot that would be considered excessively brave, and her father seemed brave enough when backed up by 200 of his clansmen. The title of this film feels like a final comprise among producers after a long debate. I’d be willing to bet the original working title was something like “Merida” until they realized it was pretty much exactly like Mulan.
So should you see this film? Absolutely. Bring the kids if you have them, or see it with some adults at a late showing. You will not be disappointed unless you are a hard core Monsters Inc. fan. Date movie? Are you kidding? This film was made to be a date movie. If this doesn’t get her blood pumping plug her into a power outlet as her robot battery needs recharging. Bathroom break? Honestly this is one of those movies where it is hard to find a dead space. No one scene is really critical, but they are all entertaining and add to the story. If I a gun to my head (or, more relevantly, a bursting bladder) I would probably say the scene where Merida teaches her mother how to fish. It drags on a while, and while entertaining is not really a critical element to the script. Plus, if you didn’t have to use the restroom before seeing all that splashing water will probably make it a priority, if you know what I mean.
Thanks for reading. Please vote for me in that contest. Follow me on Twitter @Nerdkungfu. If you have comments on this movie or my review feel free to post them here. Any off topic questions or comments email to firstname.lastname@example.org. I am getting super busy in the next two weeks getting ready for Comic Con and the biggest Warhammer tournament of the year for so I might be cutting back on movie reviews for a little while. I will probably see Ted this weekend and if I can find the time and stomach for it Magic Mike, although my early warning suck radar is blaring on that one. Today I’m off the Sacramento, party capitol of the Central Valley. Have a great day.
Another post that Dave will be bummed about because it is not nerd specific, but I like to think of this blog as a commentary on American culture in general. I just read that Kiss, the band with the make up, is selling a new book for $3,500 pre sale and $4,300 if you don’t pre order.
As this deck of Kiss playing cards I found in Dave’s music t shirt collection clearly indicates Kiss is not a band that is afraid of merchandising itself. In fact, I think it could be fairly said that Kiss is not afraid to sell anything and everything in order to make a fast buck. I honestly think if there were a way Gene Simmons could get away with it he would take his Kiss Army fans and sell their organs on the black market.
I thought this tendency to whore themselves out had reached it’s climax when they came out with the Kiss coffin, but this book of theirs reaches a new low. It is huge, however, and seems to be almost exclusively pictures. I think this fair since anyone willing to cough up this much cash on something so worthless probably can’t read anyway.
I’m not saying the book isn’t cool. Just that you really have to ask yourself how much does Kiss really care for their fans if this is the level of fleecing they are willing to get to.
Conclusive proof that karaoke can only be enjoyed while drunk off your ass.
I saw this train wreck last night and truly regretted it. This is another movie that is going to suffer deeply for my personal bias and dislike of the 80′s and hair bands. Sorry about that, and if you are a fan of the most culturally bleak decade of American history maybe take this review with a grain of salt.
1987 holds a special place in my heart. You see, that was the year I escaped the most desolate, horrible four years of my life, high school. However, that was basically a few days of feeling good as compared to 10 years of big hair hell. I can honestly say I am a fan of a lot of 80′s music. However, this movie seemed to specifically target exactly the music and bands I hated with a thermonuclear passion back then, and time has not softened my perception. Ballad bands like Journey, Guns n’ Roses, Foreigner, Pat Benatar, Jefferson Starship, Night Ranger, Quarterflash, Europe, and Poison were to me the musical equivalent of the packing Styrofoam your stereo came in, and that was when it was done competently by the actual artists. When it’s done by some auto tune actor with a soulless studio band backing him or her up it just gets painful.
This movie seems to have a misconception as to what hard core rock and roll really is. The main “plot point” of this film has to do with a local Tipper Gore type protesting against the evils of rock music. However, having her protest against the evils of Night Ranger is like the local church group protesting the art theater for showing Gone with the Wind with the word “damn” not edited out. It just has no gravitas (Gone with the Wind image courtesy of the Movie T Shirt category). Also, having everyone in the movie talk about how hard core “rock n’ roll” they are only to break into an REO Speedwagon song is truly laughable.
This movie is like a birthday cake designed by a five year old. About 1/4 of an inch of actual cake topped with 5 inches of frosting. In this case the cake is the plot and the frosting all the musical numbers. Every bit of this film screams “self indulgent tripe”. The director Adam Shankman (Hairspray, a Walk to Remember, Bedtime Stories) obviously wishes he were directing music videos and therefore finds every tenuously flimsy excuse to stick another song and/or dance number in, usually as a mashup and usually about as pleasant as dropping a bowling ball into your lap. It’s literally like watching karaoke; well produced karaoke, but karaoke nevertheless.
Somehow, in spite of the move literally being 60% or more musical numbers, the plot seems weighty and ploddish. The run time is 123 minutes and you feel every one of them. The story is trite and cliche, the acting for the most part is stiff and dry, and the visuals make you wish you were watching autopsy videos. The movie seems to be a celebration of bad casting: Tom Cruise does not feel like a stoner rock god (sorry but every time I saw him I couldn’t help but think “There goes Jerry MacGuire with long hair), Catherine Zeta Jones does not feel like an uptight church lady, Alec Baldwin does not feel like a burned out creepy rock guy, and the two kids to not feel like human beings, much less rock and rollers. The only characters that felt right for their roles were Russell Brand as the sleazy British guy and Paul Giamatti as the sleazy agent, but that was more happy coincidence based on the fact that they both seem naturally sleazy in their own way.
All that being said, in spite of the poor casting a number of the stars actually do a really good job with the rolls they have all been handed. Tom Cruise inhabits his role as Stacey Jaxx and gives it a steller but one dimensional performance. Alec Baldwin does as well as he can with his club owner role. I am not a fan of Russell Brand (his natural greasiness, both physical and personality, feels a lot like the kind of toe jam you get after stepping in an open sewer and then walking for a few miles. Don’t ask me how I know about that) but he is well cast and he and Alec Baldwin have the best timing, chemistry, and repartee of the film. They certainly have more chemistry than the two straight love interest couples. However, I think the few good performances in the film are more a reflection of the talent of the individual performers rather than any inspiration lent to them by a qualified director.
I secretly don’t even want to go into the story. It centers around the world famous Whiskey a Go Go-sorry, the Bourbon Room-on the Fabulous Sunset Strip (incidentally, in my youth I have spent many a lost weekend at the Whiskey. I will say the movie more or less got the atmosphere of the club right, but the demographic of the bands and audience wrong. Think X more than White Snake) and the people who work and perform there. A young girl (Julianne Hough-Footloose, Burlesque) travels to Hollywood from Oklahoma to be a star. She gets mugged but then meets a pretty boy bar back from the Bourbon Room (Diego Boneta-90210, Pretty Little Liars, Mean Girls 2) who gets her a job there. Meanwhile the club is failing miserably unless the owner (Alec Baldwin-30 Rock, the Hunt for Red October, Words with Friends on a Plane) and manager (Russell Brand-Arthur, Get Him to the Greek, Forgetting Sarah Marshall) can get some money together. They have a big gig with the famous Stacey Jaxx (Tom Cruise-Minority Report, Top Gun, Mission Impossible) that should help with their issues. Jaxx is being interviewed by a hot Rolling Stone reporter (Malin Akerman-the Watchmen(Silk Specter 2), the Proposal, the Heartbreak Kid) whom he seduces in one of the stupider PG-13 sex scenes I have seen. Meanwhile the two kids fall in love, the guy starts his music career, and Paul Giamatti (Saving Private Ryan, the Illusionist, Cinderella Man) plays everyone’s sleazy agent.
The stars. Tom Cruise and a few others were entertaining, if extremely one dimensional. One star. There was some tongue-in-cheek humor poking fun at the now defunct music industry (at this point it’s about as relevant as making jokes about Prohibition laws, but whatever) that was decently funny. One star. There wasn’t a girl in this movie who wasn’t super young and hot. One star. I thought the Russell Brand/Alec Baldwin interaction was actually really good, and wouldn’t mind seeing them in a buddy film. One star. Total: four stars.
The black holes. Oh god the never ending musical numbers. It was like being trapped in the elevator to Hell. Two black holes. The story was stunted and underdeveloped yet at the same time weighty and domineering. I still don’t know how they did that. It was like swallowing the worlds largest plantain whole. Two black holes. With the exception of Tom Cruize and a few others I mentioned, a lot of the acting was mediocre. One black hole. A movie about rock n’ roll that features PG-13 sex, no drugs, and actually very little in the way of rock n’ roll. Whitesnake =/= hard core rock. One black hole. The pacing dragged on so long this movie should be visible from space. One black hole. The use of cover music, mediocre dance routines, and minimal story elements linking them together made this film feel like I was watching 123 minutes of Scion and tampon commercials. One black hole. While I know the choices of music used in this film is subjective and others out there might actually have an appreciation of Quarterflash, I would like to point out that two of the songs they chose (We Built This City and the Final Countdown) were voted as the #1 and 2 worst songs of the 80′s in a readers poll in Rolling Stone. Two black holes. There was a mashup at the end featuring Russel Brand and Catherine Zeta-Jones that I am going to give a bonus black hole to for being particularly excruciating. One black hole. A strip club without nudity (PG-13 a go go). One black hole. Total: 12 black holes.
A grand total of 8 black holes. About as bad as I expected, although I honestly expected to hate Tom Cruise’s character a lot more. It was surprising. Is there anything in here worth seeing? Maybe, if you are a huge Glee fan and want to see a worse version of it. Or perhaps you think the one thing missing from your life is a Twisted Sister/Jefferson Starship mashup. If you think you should go because you are a Cruise or Baldwin fan save yourself the pain. You will actually lose respect for your favorite actor if you see this. Date movie? Perhaps for the right girl, but honestly the girl that enjoys this probably has a collection of human skins in the tool shed out back. Bathroom break? Pretty much anywhere, and if you are like me after the first 10 minutes you will be almost overwhelmed by the desire to relieve yourself all over the theater floor or perhaps the film projector, but if I had to isolate a particularly worthless moment I would say any of the scenes involving the mayor of Los Angeles (sorry Bryan Cranston. I love you in Breaking Bad but this film is not your ticket out of television).
Another long review. Thanks for reading. Please, if you haven’t by the time you get to the end here go back to the top of this review and vote for my business for the grant. I really appreciate it. Follow me on Twitter @Nerdkungfu. If you have a comment about this movie or review feel free to leave it here. Any off topic comments or suggestions feel free to email me at email@example.com. More movies coming soon. I might even bite the bullet (as it passes into my brainpan) and see That’s My Boy. Talk to you soon.
Entertaining, but if you read the book you might have an axe to grind with this adaptation.
Sorry I couldn’t resist it. The fact is I have been looking forward to this movie for a while, and during the last few months getting annoyed at fellow movie audience members who laughed at the trailers. Unfortunately they were for the most part correct to laugh as a lot of this movie was fairly comical in it’s need to suspend disbelief. However, if you can raise that disbelief to airline cruising altitude there is a lot worth watching here.
I read the book two weeks ago on my flight to Italy and enjoyed it a great deal. It tells of the secret life of Abraham Lincoln and his quest to rid America of the bloodsucking scourge of vampires. It was very clever and well done, with the vampire elements integrated into a broader story making for a cool, innovative retelling of his life while remaining grounded as much as possible in the actual events from American history. The action seemed realistic, with Lincoln developing his vampire hunting skills over a lifetime and coming up with many clever tools and tricks to make up for his human frailties and the strength and quickness of the vampires.
Tragically this movie took all that, wadded it into a ball, and tossed it into the nearest garbage bin. The story is devolved into the simplest of vampire stories, Abe himself is turned into a male Buffy the Vampire slayer with the speed, skill, strength, and reaction time of ten men, and no attempt is made at all to link the story to the historical events. (Buffy staked Edward image courtesy of the Horror Movie t shirt category)
However, the question that can easily be asked at this point is “What were you expecting, Dave?” Hollywood has shown little to no interest in creating clever, interesting stories or perhaps improving upon the general knowledge of the unwashed masses they cater to so why should this movie be an exception? The fact is if you put the words “vampire” and “hunter” (slayer) in the same sentence the Brownian mentality of the movie going population immediately thinks of Buffy, so you might as well use it as your source material.
I will give massive props to this movie (and the book) for portraying vampires as they should be; arrogant, evil bloodsucking bastards who should be exterminated without mercy. The ugly trend towards pretty, “nice” romantic vampires that started with Interview with a Vampire and continues to plague us with the whole Twilight series (I refuse to call it a saga) has to be stopped somehow. While these vampires managed to not burst into flame in the sun, at least they made concessions towards the fact that the sun hurts them.
The major thing that burdens this movie more than any other is the mind numbing ridiculousness of a lot of the action. I understand the need for suspension of disbelief, but the action sequences here becomes literally laughable. The action also has the problem of obscuring the action. Quick cuts and jumbled scenes of people dressed in similar colors turns a lot of the action sequences into a kaleidoscope-like morass of brown and black shapes. Very hard to follow. Multiple times I found myself asking “What the hell just happened?”, which is rarely a good thing for a movie.
The story is of course of Abraham Lincoln (Benjamin Walker-Flags of Our Fathers, War Boys, Kinsey) and his secret life as a vampire hunter. He starts young with the death of his mother at the fangs of a vampire. When he turns into a young man he goes after the vamp who did it but gets his ass more or less kicked. He is rescued by Henry (Dominic Cooper-Captain America-the First Avenger, the Duchess, an Education), who trains him to fight vampires. Abe takes the axe as his weapon of choice and turns into a samurai warrior with it. He goes out killing vampires at the bequest of Henry and meets his wife Mary Todd (Mary Elizabeth Winstead-the Thing, Scott Pilgrim vrs the World, Final Destination 3). He dedicates his life to destroying vampires by removing their easiest food source, slaves. Eventually he ends up as president and has to fight against the South, who are aided and abetted by the vampires.
The stars. Very cool concept. One star. I thought Dominic Cooper was pretty good as Honest Abe. One star. Evil vampires. One star. The period scenery was very good and accurate. One star. I loved the book. One star. Pacing was good. One star. Generally entertaining as long as you can dumb your brain down a bit. Two stars. Total: eight stars.
The black holes. They took a cool, subtle story with strong ties to actual history and dumbed it down to a cheesy Hollywood action movie. One black hole. They also PC’d the hell out of it. In the book the slavery issue, while important, was only one piece of a much bigger story. In this one it was the end all and be all of the movie. They also forced in a black supporting character who looked and felt like they crowbarred him in for political correctness. One black hole. The action, which for most of the movie was kind of dopey, fell off the Great Dopey Cliff into Never Ending Valley of Stupidity towards the end (the train ride was really, really dumb). One black hole. Speaking of crowbarring, the managed to shove in Harriet Tubman and the Underground Railroad for no apparent reason other than to try to look more correct. It all felt awkwardly out of place and had nothing to do with the book or history. One black hole. The movie in general suffered from the problem of trying to fit an entire lifetime of vampire hunting and politicking (which was all well done in the book) into 105 minutes, and honestly it felt like you were watching a 4 hour movie but skipping ahead by five minute increments periodically. One black hole. At some point you have to ask yourself does the President of the United States not have soldiers and guards he could call on, or does he really have to play security guard more or less solo on a train? One black hole. Total: six black holes.
Sigh. Only two stars total, and to be honest I was being kind on a few of them. Another movie I really wanted to be better. It’s not terrible. In fact, it’s entirely worth watching on a big screen and looks like it would even benefit from 3D. It’s just that based on the source material I think it could have been much better. Almost to the point of being a classic. Instead it’s just another Tim Burton movie (think Sleepy Hollow). Date movie? Meh. You won’t lose anything on this but there is nothing in here terrifying, surprising, or interesting enough to really turn a girl on IMO. Bathroom break? The whole Lincoln/Mary romance could be missed without losing anything. The formal dance where they start to fall in love is an excellent place to void your fluids.
Thanks for reading. I am going to go see Rock of Ages later tonight, so have pity on me. It should really suck. Follow me on Twitter @Nerdkungfu. Post comments on this movie or review here, and if you have off topic questions or suggestions feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thanks again. Have a great night, and look for a review on that rock movie tomorrow.