Archive for May, 2012
This one seems to be getting mixed reviews, I’m not quite sure why, let’s explore, shall we?
Based on the TV show of the same name from back in the day, the movie version revives the vampire role of Barnabas Collins played by producer and actor Johnny Depp. Tim Burton is at the helm on this one as director and is a great choice as his style plays nicely into the campy-ish moments (without getting cartoony though) as does his sense of gothic design, costumes, effects and makeup.
The story revolves around Barnabas, his family, and the scorned lover Angelique who has a perpetual taste for revenge (she also happens to be a witch). Angelique curses Barnabas and his family after she discovers he’s in love with another. A couple of centuries pass and Barnabas is back to find that his family is in ruins and Angelique has risen to power in the town that was named after the Collins family.
And so it goes…
I’ve heard that people think it changes direction somewhere in the middle. I think I missed the boat on this as nearly everything that came to pass I saw coming from the onset. I was thinking it was even a little too set up at times, although the overall ebb and flow of it seemed to work.
The writing is fun and while a little gimmicky at times, is probably meant to be a little tongue-in-cheek as that is Burton’s style here and there depending on the tone of the film he’s working on. Maybe a little Beetle Juice-ish at times but not quite that over-the-top.
The acting is pretty damn fun to watch, I always enjoy Depp’s flair and style when he works with Tim Burton. Michelle Pfeiffer returns nicely as a somewhat eccentric distant Collins relative and Helena Bonham Carter is as engaging as she usually is. Eva Green as Angelique manages to be hot and menacing all at the same time and you can never get too much of Jackie Earle Haley as far as I’m concerned. Christopher Lee, Alice Cooper and Jonny Lee Miller are in there as well.
Fun to see in the theater for nostalgic horror movie memories!
reviewed by Sean McKnight
I freakin’ love Meryl Streep and was very interested in watching her play this role because if there ever was a perfect example of an actor born to play a specific character, this would be it…
The movie itself has received mixed reviews; some people complaining about historical accuracy, others finding the style a bit discordant. I’ve done a little homework on this and have found some of it to be a he-said, she-said kind of thing. I don’t know how much I care about that, I just really enjoy watching Meryl Streep, so maybe it doesn’t matter.
Anyway, the style can be a little tricky to follow as it’s set initially with Streep as Margaret Thatcher in an elderly state and somewhat losing her faculties. Ultimately, the backstory of Thatcher is played out through a series of flashbacks from her early years as a young woman to her terms serving as prime minister of England. There’s also quite a bit of focus on her relationship with her husband Denis (expertly played by Jim Broadbent) both in life and death as Thatcher has conversations with her deceased husband in her head during the more surreal, dementia-like moments.
It’s interesting to see what she went through getting to where she landed, quite impressive really. I especially liked watching her stomp on some of the more obnoxious male egos in the parliament segments.
Streep commands the screen whenever she’s on it, very hard to take your eyes off of and continues to demonstrate why she’s one of the most respected names in the biz nailing the role of Margaret Thatcher with passion and intensity.
If you like Meryl Streep and are interested in historical bio pics, this one is for you.
reviewed by Sean McKnight
I happen to catch this in a second run 3-D theater and had the place entirely to myself! I love that.
Unfortunately the movie isn’t so good…
I enjoyed the remake of Clash of the Titans, I don’t compare it to the original with Harry Hamlin because it’s a different version and each has their merits. Wrath of the Titans however is just the cash cow follow up and it’s painfully apparent.
The script is OK but seems to be written just for the sake of setting up certain effects scenes. The dialog is forced and cookie cutter driving the story from one pretentious scene to the next. The basic idea here is that the gods have become weakened since people don’t pray to them anymore and the father of the gods and the underworld, Kronos, is now gaining strength and seeks to destroy the earth and everyone in it. Since the gods are weak, it’s up to their demi-god children to save the universe. Perseus (son of Zeus) steps in to free his father (who’s been captured by Hades and Ares) and stop the evil Kronos from wiping out mankind.
The directing is pretty bad here too. Some of the actors just seem confused at times as to what exactly they’re supposed to be feeling/doing. Rosamund Pike’s Queen Andromeda comes up particularly lost throughout the movie; it’s almost like the director couldn’t figure out what he wanted her to do and was just shouting things from the sidelines like: “look scared, no wait, look strong, no wait, now order your troops around, oh hang on, look scared again!”.
Most of the actors are decent but seemingly phoning this one in. Noone seems to be trying too hard and it shows; even Bill Nighy (who I’m a big fan of) is sort of cartoony in this, but not in a good way. I think he’s supposed to be a comic-relief kind of character but comes off really out of place. Liam Neeson (who seems to be in every 3rd movie out these days) and Ralph Fiennes are both average and uninspired. Sam Worthington as Perseus is usually trying too hard or not hard enough. Either way, he’s sort of bland and looks stupid in the costume / gear they designed for him. He doesn’t look like the son of god, he looks more like he was shopping at a greek war gear thrift store, his costume design appears cheap and like it was designed as an after thought.
The effects are the only reason to see this film. I was fortunate enough to catch this in 3D and on the big screen. Many of the visual elements come off in an amazing way and some of the 3D is pretty great. A good number of the shots however (such as the scenes with the cyclops) are super-cheesy and obviously created for a 3D presentation. I went back and forth between being wow-ed by certain aspects and annoyingly distracted by others. The scene with Kronos exploding out of the mountain is pretty damn cool though.
Overall, I wouldn’t waste a dime on this in the theater again or as a rental on Netflix but it would probably be worth a look on a decent HD television on cable if there isn’t much else on.
reviewed by Sean McKnight
Yep, this is awesome.
From the get go, the movie doesn’t stop until the whole thing has played out before you even know it’s over. It’s assumed that you know who everybody is as there’s not a lot of backstory other than to fill in some gaps here and there, particularly between Hawkeye and Black Widow, although I have to admit I didn’t find their story especially interesting or necessary. Gratefully, they don’t belabor the point too much…
No, instead most of the story revolves around Loki, his quest for vengeance, and the army he’s bringing to Earth to carry out his plans for dominance and power. Luckily SHIELD has been preparing for such an invasion since Loki’s last visit in the Thor movie. Hence the Avengers initiative to unite the world’s heroes and save the planet.
I’ll let the story speak for itself from here on out. Suffice it to say that watching The Hulk, Iron Man, Captain America, Hawkeye, and Black Widow alongside Nick Fury all kicking ass is much fun. Part of the good times is watching how the Avengers try to get together in the beginning but end up beating the crap out of each other in the process. Watching Thor vs The Hulk, Captain America vs Iron Man vs Thor, and so on is pretty much most comic book fans’ wet dream. I know I enjoyed it very much as these were all heroes I collected the comic books of when I was a kid. Watching them interact and fight both each other and together is something I’d never thought I’d see that life-like on a big screen. I was very happy to see this movie realized as it is a blast to watch.
The humor is there too and hits you unexpectedly at times. You expect Tony Stark’s quippy one-liners, so that’s a given, but some of the more subtle moments is where the more engaging humorous moments occur. I especially enjoyed the exchange between the Hulk and Loki.
The effects are of course, top of the line. The battle in New York is wonderfully epic. My only complaint is that some of the alien force and the Hulk look decidedly CG at times. I have yet to see anyone really nail down the Hulk in a way where he doesn’t look CG. I would like to see Peter Jackson’s WETA take a crack at it.
Overall, it’s a great movie with a great lineup of talent. Joss Whedon writes and directs and has turned out a film you really should catch in the theater if you can. Then there’s the actors: Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner, Samuel L. Jackson, Gwyenth Paltrow, Powers Booth, Harry Dean Stanton and Paul Bettany as the voice of Iron Man’s AI buddy Jarvis.
Don’t forget to stick around through the credits and keep your eye out for Stan Lee.
reviewed by Sean McKnight