Friday, July 23, 2010

Summer movie round-up

Now for the summer movies so far.

Toy Story 3 - I am aware it was released within the confines of Spring; I waited a week to allow time for the crowds to thin out a bit. Toy Story 3 blew me away. I don't know how Pixar does it, but they usually manage to improve with each new movie. I will freely admit that I've never been much of a Toy Story fan, but I was completely pulled in by Toy Story 3.

The Last Airbender - Who knew someone would release a movie this summer that made Jonah Hex look good? By now I'm sure everyone has heard or read about racebending-gate, but it turns out that the racial makeup of the cast was the least of The Last Airbender's problems. Even the few good actors in the movie didn't bother putting in good performances, and I can't blame them. I wouldn't try too hard if I was given such terrible material to work with either. And for some bizarre reason, half the story is told in narration; the movie just kind of flits from scene to scene without ending or even starting any of them properly. Fight choreography was decent, but the special effects were abysmal. I will say one thing about the race issue: at least Jake Gyllenhaal had the decency to get a goddamn tan to somewhat blend in for Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time. What the hell were two white children doing with the Southern Water Tribe anyway? The mismatch was jarring.

Knight & Day - A welcome diversion after The Last Airbender. It was a pleasing blend of action and humor, and the two leads had great chemistry. Good, but not something I'd go out of my way to watch again.

Predators - Finally, a decent successor to the first two movies. Not as good as the first two, but it was still a competent action movie with a lot of nice little references to the previous movies; particularly Predator.

Despicable Me - Excellent movie, although you can tell a few corners had to be cut on the animation. I feared the movie would feel rushed due to the length (90ish minutes), but it was actually remarkably well-paced. Quality writing, quality cast, quality movie. As you might imagine from the ad campaign, the minions really do steal the show. The minions are in on all the best sight gags, yet they're never really so overused that they wear out their welcome.

Inception - I don't want to say too much, because that would inevitably lead to spoilers. That said, amazing movie. It is better than anything Nolan has done previously, every member of the cast did a fantastic job, and the movie works on all levels. It can be a very entertaining straight-up action/heist movie for people who like that sort of thing, but Inception is capable of really engaging the brain if you pay closer attention. I'm glad I saw a matinee screening, because my mind would not have been awake enough to handle this movie at night.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Spring movie round-up

Oops; didn't mean to leave this blog un-updated for so long. So, to get back into the swing of things, I'll do a couple of entries containing quick blurbs about all the movies I've seen in the last few months. First, the Spring movies.

Hot Tub Time Machine - As a child of the 80s, I was probably predisposed to liking this one. Fortunately, the cast did a great job, and the premise was endearingly ridiculous.

How to Train Your Dragon - Dreamworks has never quite achieved Pixar levels of greatness. How to Train Your Dragon is damn close though; they're on the threshold. At the time I saw it, I considered it my favorite movie of the year-to-date.

Clash of the Titans - Lives well the legacy of the Harryhausen movie it is a remake of, which is to say it isn't very good. And without the amusingly bad effects of the original, the remake lacks some of the original's charm.

Kick-Ass - Significantly better than the Millar-penned graphic novel it adapts. The movie drops some of the more interesting ideas contained in the source, but Matthew Vaughn's execution of what remains is generally much better.

The Losers - Excellent over-the-top action movie. Solid casting with excellent performances all around. The comic is in many ways a loving homage to The A-Team, and it shows in the movie adaptation.

A Nightmare On Elm Street - I like the remake more than the original, actually. It carries many of the same flaws, but I prefer the pacing of the remake. Jackie Earle Haley is an excellent successor to Englund.

Iron Man 2 - Not as good as the first one, but Downey's performance still makes it fun to watch. Rourke made for a great villain, and the movie should have focused on him instead of throwing in a second villain (Hammer). I missed Howard as Rhodes, because the chemistry between Downey and Cheadle was lacking.

Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time - Best video game movie ever made, although I guess that's not a tough feat. Entertaining at the time, but ultimately forgettable.

The A-Team - I think I prefer The Losers overall, but The A-Team didn't exactly disappoint. Plus they make Face a second-in-command in more than name. That always bothered me in the original series.

Jonah Hex - *shudder* About the only thing Jonah Hex got right was Josh Brolin in the title role; pitch perfect casting there. Everything else about the movie is in unholy mess. Bad writing, horrendous pacing, and Megan Fox are just of few of the movie-making sins on display here. And other than the name and the scar, the movie bears little resemblance to the source material. Until The Last Airbender (more on it in the next entry), I considered Jonah Hex the worst movie I've ever paid to see.