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Archive for the ‘Reviews-Movies’ Category

Movie Review-GI Joe

Posted by Jack Deus on August 12, 2009

GI Joe: The Rise of Cobra is a typical summer action flick based off of the Hasbro toys by the same name. GI Joe is an elite military group composed of the best of the best of the best from countries all over the world. This elite team has super high-tech weapons and vehicles, the best soldiers, and unmatched training techniques and facilities. And yet there is another group out there that has even higher-tech weapons and vehicles, making their soldiers just as strong, and rendering their lack of training moot.

How well you enjoy the movie GI Joe: The Rise of Cobra will mainly depend on 2 things: the ability to turn off your brain and just enjoy an action movie for being an action movie, and your knowledge (or, preferably, lack thereof) of the GI Joe franchise.

Like most action movies (and adult films for that matter), GI Joe is basically an excuse for the director to have 90 or so minutes of visual stimulation with dialogue and acting thrown in as an afterthought to connect all the money scenes together. The most striking example of how convoluted the plot in this movie was is how many flashback scenes are needed to explain the relationships and actions of the characters. I’m not complaining about the flashback scenes, however, because I would much rather have them than stupid, forced exposition. Also, two of the better scenes in the movie were the flashback fight scenes involving young Storm Shadow and young Snake Eyes.

As far as the action goes, this movie was very good. There were lots of good fight scenes, both hand-to-hand and vehicle-to-vehicle, tons of cool weapons and gadgets, and enough things being blown up to satisfy even the biggest pyro. I won’t say much so I don’t spoil anything, but the attack on Paris was quite awesome. The only thing wrong with the Paris scene was the overuse of CGI (which could actually be said about the entire movie). A big part of the Paris scene was a car chase involving a van being chased by another van, a motorcycle, and three Joes in accelerator suits. Obviously the the accelerated Joes needed to be CGIed, but the two vans and the motorcycle did not. The director should have hired the guy who did the chase scenes for the Bourne movies, or The Italian Job (maybe he’s the same guy) to do the chase scene instead taking the lazy, cheaper?, much worse route of having the whole thing in CGI.

Money scenes loosely tied together with not good acting and mostly poor dialogue wasn’t the only part of the adult film template GI Joe stole. There was also a lot of gratuitous eye candy walking around, for both the guys and the ladies in the audience. Sienna Miller probably collected two paychecks, one for herself and one for the multiple cameos her cleavage made in the movie. Rachel Nichols had a very cheesy (and bouncy) treadmill scene. Channing Tatum has enough muscle for two guys. Even Marlon Wayans hit the gym, and hit it hard, to beef up for his role. If the movie studio hadn’t been going after the PG-13 rating, I’m sure there would have been a lot of cheesy, unnecessary nudity, too.

My review of the movie could probably stop there, and if it did I would probably give it 7 out 10, since I went into it expecting a cheesy, Saturday-morning-cartoonish action movie and that’s basically what I got. However, there is one thing I feel I need to mention, even though it didn’t affect me. I was born in 1982, so I grew up with He-Man, the Ninja Turtles, Transformers, GI Joe, and the like. My knowledge for each of these is fairly extensive, with the exception of GI Joes. For some reason I don’t remember hardly anything about the characters, probably because I was more interested in playing with the action figures than watching the TV show. That being said, just because I didn’t remember much about the GI Joe canon doesn’t mean no one else will, and it sure as heck doesn’t mean the writers/director/producers get to change it. The most obvious straying from canon is Marlon Wayans, a black guy, playing Rip Cord, a white guy. Doesn’t get much more blatant than that. Another oddity of the movie is the semi-non-sexual love triangle the movie created between Duke, The Baroness, and Cobra Commander. Yeah, you read that right.

Synopsis:GI Joe: The Rise of Cobra is a good, but mindless action movie with lots of cool weapons, big explosions, good (but not great, and sometimes distracting) CGI, visually pleasing actors and actresses, and unlike some movies based off of 80’s cartoons/toys it tries to mostly keep with the canon of the franchise, although there are a few noteworthy exceptions to this.


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Movie Review-Funny People

Posted by Jack Deus on August 4, 2009

Synopsis (warning, may contain spoilers)

George Simmons (Adam Sandler) is a very successful stand-up comedian turned Hollywood actor. Ira Wright (Seth Rogen) is a struggling stand-up comedian who has to work at a deli just to make enough money to sleep on his roommate and pseudo-celebrity, Mark Taylor Jackson’s (Jason Schwartzman) pull-out couch. Also living with them is Leo Koenig (Jonah Hill), a stand-up comedian who is starting to make a name for himself at the local comedy club. George decides to get back to his stand-up comedy roots, and does a set at the same club Ira and Leo frequent. George is impressed enough with Ira’s routine that he takes him under his wing and lets Ira write jokes and open for him. Early on in their relationship George tells Ira he is dying of a rare blood disorder. This obviously shocks Ira, but he sticks with George and helps him cope with the idea of dying. Looking to make up for past wrongs, George contacts his lost love, Laura (Leslie Mann), to apologize. They start a friendly relationship and when George finds out his disease has gone into remission, she is forced to choose between her lost true-love and her cheating husband, Clarke (Eric Bana) and their two kids.

Review (warning, may also contain spoilers)

Funny People definitely lived up to its name as it had a lot of very funny people in it. I’m a little biased because Adam Sandler is my favorite actor, but even besides him, the rest of the cast was very funny. More stars than you can count made a cameo, and it appeared to me writer, director, producer extraordinaire Judd Apatow made the correct decision to give them pretty much carte blanche to deliver their lines. Probably the most notable were Andy Dick and Paul Reiser delivering lines in the montage where George tells all of his Hollywood buddies he is dying, and Sarah Silverman delivering a few lines at George’s celebration when the disease goes into remission. Another very funny scene involves George having dinner with Eminem while Ira sits at the bar talking to Ray Romano.

I was very glad to see that since three of the major characters are stand-up comedians in the movie, Judd Apatow didn’t skimp on the funny stand-up scenes. I’m sure the actors doing the stand-up helped with the lines, but never-the-less they were funny.

The only thing I didn’t like about the movie was the language. I try to keep my website PG, in case little kids happen upon it. That being said, I am definitely not opposed to swearing. That being said, I am opposed to the over use of swearing. I think swearing is something that should be done with tact and precision. If used correctly swearing will emphasize a point and hardly even be noticed. The swearing in this movie was used extensively, which actually took off its edge and just got to the point where it was annoying. Whenever I’m out and hear someone drop F-bombs every third word I usually think one of two things: 1) that person is really ignorant and should consult a dictionary to expand their vocabulary, or 2) that person is trying waaaaay too hard to funny and is failing miserably (this person is usually hanging around someone who is actually funny and doesn’t need to drop F-bombs).

To sum up, I thought Funny People was a very funny dramedy, and could only have been improved if the language was toned down a bit. I give it 8 out of 10, because I won’t be able to let my kids see it until they are all grown up.

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Movie Review: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

Posted by Jack Deus on July 28, 2009

*Warning, this review may contain some spoilers, so if you haven’t seen the movie, proceed at your own risk.*

My first impression after Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince ended was “That was a good movie, but why did they change a crucial part at the end?” I won’t mention the specifics of the scene I’m talking about so as not to spoil the ending, but if you read the book and have seen the movie, the scene where Harry and Dumbledore return to the clock tower is what I’m referring to.

I know comparing movies to the books on which they are based is often a pointless, fruitless, and meaningless exercise, but I can’t help wondering why certain themes are changed or left out, when they can easily be brought into the movie. I especially don’t understand when some of the themes are brought into the movie, but only done so half-heartedly, or are changed by the end of the movie.

The clock tower scene I was referring to before was guilty of both theme faux pas mentioned above. Very early on in the movie, a spell, Petrificus Totalus, is introduced that causes the person struck by the spell to become frozen, unable to move or speak. In the book, this spell comes into play in the clock tower scene, but they completely leave it out in the movie, changing the dynamic of the whole scene. This change in dynamic causes the second theme faux pas. “Hot-headed Harry” is an overarching theme of all 7 books, and of the first 5 movies. Even in this movie it comes into play. About half-way through the movie, some Deatheaters (bad guys for you non-Harryphiles) attack where Harry is staying, and he blindly chases them into a corn field, with no concern for his safety or the safety of anyone around him. But in the clock tower scene, because the PT spell isn’t used, Harry’s whole demeanor changes without any good explanation.

That scene had the most glaring theme changes, and it was also towards the end, so it was the one scene that stuck with me when the movie was over. But, thinking more about the movie a couple of days later, I am noticing more and more themes that were changed, left-out, or thrown in as an afterthought that are fairly vital to the overall progress of the plot of the story and the actions and decisions of the characters.

Without spoiling too much of the movie, here is a brief list of just some of the themes not done well, or at all in the movie: Dumbledore not being at Hogwarts for most of the year despite the imminent danger of all the students (especially Harry) at Hogwarts, the ongoing and growing feud between Draco Malfoy and Harry, how engrossed into and obsessed with the Half-Blood Prince’s potions book Harry became, and the back and forth questioning of who Severus Snape is really working for-Dumbledore or Voldemort.

Despite all of my quibbles over the themes of the movie, I still thought it was a very good movie. The acting has done nothing but get better as the movies have progressed. Most notably, Emma Watson does a good job of showing a good range of true emotion as needed (and it is needed in this movie a lot), but doesn’t ham it up. The action and magic scenes are superbly done (oh, to be a movie fan during the age of computer awesomeness!). I can’t really comment on the progression of the plot, because I remember too much of the book, so my subconscious may have filled in any holes in the movie, but my wife is notorious for forgetting books she’s read and movies she’s seen and she didn’t mention anything that didn’t make sense, so that must have been done well. I can say, however, that the pace of the movie was well done. Despite it being two and a half hours long, I didn’t find myself looking at my watch once, and more of a sign that the pace was moving along well, my wife only looked at the time once during the whole movie, and stayed awake during the whole thing.

As far as a stand-alone movie, this one was probably the best of the six so far. I just wish they would have split the book into two movies, like they are doing for the final one, The Deathly Hallows. That way they would have been able to flesh out a lot of the themes they stubbed their toes on.

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Movie Review-Chuck and Larry

Posted by Jack Deus on July 31, 2007

Warning, this review of I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry will probably include plot spoilers, so don’t blame me if I spoil the movie for you. You have been warned.

Larry Valentine (Kevin James) saves the life of best friend and fellow firefighter Chuck Levine (Adam Sandler) and they both almost die. Chuck tells Larry he owes him his life so anything Larry needs Chuck will help him with. Larry learns that the statute of limitations for who will inherit his pension has run up and the only way to change it to his kids is by remarriage. Larry can’t even think about other women so soon after his wife’s death so he asks Chuck to become his domestic partner on paper so his kids will be taken care of. Reluctantly, ladies man Chuck agrees and lots of gay jokes ensue. The state decides to challenge Chuck and Larry’s claim of domestic partnership so they hire smokin’ hot lawyer Alex McDonough (Jessica Biel) to represent them. To further complicate matters Chuck finally meets a woman he actually wants to settle down with in Alex, but because he is supposed to be gay and married he can’t pursue the relationship. The state eventually catches Chuck and Larry in their lie, but in true Hollywood fashion they get off with just a slap on the wrist.

This movie is a very typical Adam Sandler movie, so if you like that type of movie you should like this. I like the trend that his movies are following of taking a serious issue and making fun of it from every angle possible, but still getting the serious message across. This movie definitely follows that trend by making every gay joke ever made in one not-quite 2 hour movie, but in doing so they bring to the forefront of the audiences mind the issue of gay rights.

I’m not going to share my stance on gay rights, nor do I care what yours are. However, no matter what your stance is on gay rights… whether you are gay, are related to someone gay, support gay rights, hate everything about gays, or have another stance… people who are gay are still human beings and no human being deserves to be made to feel inferior to anyone else. That is a conversation for another day, though.

This movie is a great Adam Sandler movie, but it is not one of his best. The acting by the main characters was superb and non of the minor characters pulled the movie down, in fact some of them actually contributed more to the movie than the character was supposed to. I laughed out loud quite a bit, unfortunately some of the jokes and situations seemed a little forced and weren’t very funny. Also the ending was a little lame and seemed to be thrown in haphazardly to tie everything up, rather than actually being thought out to provide a clean ending. Even with the lame ending and forced jokes this movie gets an 8 because of the excellent acting and the humor of the jokes that were funny.

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Movie Review-Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Posted by Jack Deus on July 29, 2007

Fans of the movies based off of J.K Rowling‘s Harry Potter books rejoice, for the next installment is finally here and it is more visually stunning than any of the previous Harry Potter movies. Fans of J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter books, don’t go see this movie (or any of the movies for that matter) expecting to see the book on the big screen because it cuts out a lot of the book and the parts it does include it changes and rearranges. As soon as I heard Hollywood was making this 870 page book into one 2 hour and 18 minute movie I knew they screwed up. I personally think they should have filmed 2 different 2-2 1/2 hour movies at the same time and bookended the summer with their releases that way they could capture most if not all of the book (and make a lot more money), but I suppose that is why the Hollywood types make the big bucks and I have to pay to watch their movies. Anyway, I have read this book 3 or 4 times so I have a pretty intimate knowledge of what goes on and when it happens, and I found myself leaning over to my wife saying “That’s not how that happens.” and “That was supposed to happen later on.” quite a bit throughout the movie.

I could write this entire post about how bad the movie was compared to the book, but I won’t. I realize they are two completely different mediums and what works in the book can’t work for the movie and vice versa. Also, this series, while enjoyed my adults as well as children, was geared towards children so the movie really couldn’t have been much longer than it was. With that in mind here comes the review on the movie, spoilers will probably be included so stop reading if you don’t like spoilers.

The Harry Potter movies have been getting progressively darker as the series continues, and Order of the Phoenix continues that trend. Up to this point no one of any great significance has died, but that all changes in this movie. I won’t say who dies in case you have been living under a rock for the past few years, but someone close to Harry dies towards the end of this movie. The execution of the death and the subsequent reactions of the characters was done pretty well. I think they needed to expand upon Harry’s anger about the death a little bit more, but that might be my book bias coming into play again.

The great thing about making a movie about characters that can do magic is the awesome cinematography that can come about. One of the characters, Tonks, has the ability to change her appearance just by thinking about it, so in one scene when everyone is sitting around eating dinner she is entertaining those around her by changing her nose. It was a very minor part of the movie, but very visually appealing. Another part of the movie I thought was done very well visually was the fight between Dumbledore’s Army and the Death Eaters at the Ministry of Magic. Unfortunately I don’t think David Yates (the director) thought it all the way through in making it possible for the characters to do what the Death Eaters did, because the fight wouldn’t have even lasted 10 seconds if they really had the ability to turn into smoke and fly. The most visually stunning scene in the movie, though, was the duel between Dumbledore and Voldemort (as well it should have been). Two of the greatest wizards in the history of wizard-kind dueling with each other for a solid two minutes on screen. If you have seen the other movies you can imagine what sorts of things they can do, and if you did you probably didn’t get anywhere close to imagining what it actually looked like. Words won’t do it justice, so suffice it to say that you have to watch this movie just to see this duel.

Wow. I didn’t think I could get though a review of a Harry Potter movie without completely bashing it to smithereens  for not living up to the book, but I think I did a pretty good job. Overall the movie captured most of the themes of the book, even if some of them were glossed over or done completely different than the book, you still should walk away from it with the same overall feelings. I did find myself wondering if you would completely understand the movies if you had never read the books, so if this applies to anyone out there I would love to hear your feedback in the comments. I give the movie an 8 because it did differ so much from the book so I can’t give it any higher of a score, but the stunning visual appeal of the movie definitely forces me not to rate it lower.

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