Saturday, May 10, 2014

On hiatus

Dear Readers (if any),

I will be putting this blog on a short hiatus, due to many projects at the moment. It is my promise to provide some great movie reviews for you. For now, I shall fulfill what is in store for me, whatever that may be. I hope you enjoy the 100+ reviews I have written already. No, I am not giving up on this. I will be back soon, and I'll definitely have more reviews for all of you film lovers out there in Internetland!



Wednesday, May 7, 2014

05/07: The Happening

I was recommended this movie after a friend lent it to me a few years ago. He said it was a good way. I'm not sure how to agree with him.

The plot is basically about a high school science teacher Elliot Moore (Mark Wahlberg) and his wife (Zooey Deschanel), who live in Philadelphia. Once they get word that some poisonous toxin in the air has plagued the East Coast, they flee West, but not too far. The toxins, believed to be a terrorist attack at first, contain something that makes people commit suicide instantly. We do witness much of it throughout the movie, sometimes involving the main characters.

What I was very disappointed about in the movie was: What was the solution? What happened that got Philly back to normal? And the cliffhanger? Whatever. It's no wonder this movie got terrible reviews, despite coming from M. Night Shyamalan. It's just that whenever I see a movie with a huge problem, I expect it to be resolved. But I know not all movies are like that; when they're not, expect bad results from me.

I actually thought the part where the guy killed himself with the lawn mower was humorous, in a way. And the old lady when she kills herself on her country land? Yeah, I thought that was a bit weird myself and unrealistic. That's before the movie suddenly takes a 3-month leap and doesn't explain itself. I'm not sure to take this movie seriously or not. Shyamalan actually said before its release that it was a 'B' movie.

Watch it if you're only up for weirdness, and a plot that seemingly went nowhere. There are some freakish 'happenings' in this movie, so be prepared. 

My rating: 3 out of 10
Tomatometer: 17%

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

05/06: Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith

If you asked me what my favorite Star Wars movie is, it would be this one. Why, you ask? I'm not sure why, maybe because I think all of the films in the original trilogy have been overly praised, especially Empire Strikes Back. Maybe if I watch all of them a few more times, my opinion may change. I believe its because this was really the one where Anakin got evil, or in Star Wars terms, 'the darrrrrrrkkkk sidddeee'.

And evil he became. Assuming that you, the reader, have seen the other five Star Wars films to date, you maybe already know what happens. We know something happens to Padme, formerly Queen Amidala. We know Luke and Leia are also born. We know Yoda and Obi-Wan go to exile. When the movie starts, Obi-Wan and his apprentice, Anakin Skywalker, are still buddies. But the marriage, which happened at the end of the last episode movie, between Anakin and Padme, is kept secret from all the Jedis. This is because of the rules in the Jedi Council, which is ill-fated.

I don't want to get too 'carried away' in explaining the plot as several things happen, and I'd just be telling the whole movie right there. After I saw it at the theater in 2005, I thought I saw the whole story. That is until 2012, when it was announced (the same day about Disney's acquisition of Lucasfilm) that there will be another trilogy released. So, needless to say, I'm one of tens of millions of Star Wars fans who are more than thrilled. However, we're not sure how great it will be with George Lucas taking a minor role and having the golden boy J.J. Abrams having a huge part of it. I'll put it to you this way: it will either be really good or really bad. To disappoint or not to disappoint.

Rest assured, all the pieces of the puzzle are explained in this movie. This will be the last Star Wars review I do for a long time, so definitely stay tuned! And yes, I highly recommend watching all the movies. I'm still not sure what I'd recommend as far as what order to see them.

My rating: 8 out of 10
Tomatometer: 80%

Monday, May 5, 2014

05/05 (b): Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones

I'll never forget when it was first announced about the title back in, I believe, '01. In fact, I didn't take it seriously. That is, until I read all the complaints on message boards and such. But I'm sure Mr. Lucas had a good reason to call his 5th Star Wars film 'Attack of the Clones'. For me it was mostly about the journey of Anakin Skywalker and the continuation of his Jedi training.

That's the whole bulk of the movie right there, as we do see some great epic battles from start to finish. Even Yoda kicked ass! This is, up to that point, the best I've ever seen Yoda in a duel, against the film's antagonist, Count Dooku. To me, the clones were a bit boring, even though they were a big part of the story. And then there's the budding relationship between Anakin and Queen Amidala. Probably the climax comes with Anakin's personal loss.

I hope I didn't give away too much of the plot for those who still haven't seen this. But then again, some of it we see in the sequels, or confusingly, in the previous movies. Surprisingly, most of them consider this the 'worst' (with Episode I at a close second), but this one I didn't think was that bad. I believe it adds plenty of what we're supposed to know about the series and somehow Lucas put it all into one. We still don't have much of an idea of how Anakin becomes Darth Vader, which is supposed to be revealed in the next one. From what I know from hardcore fans that actually read the novels and such, it is revealed on what happens to the Queen and how Anakin turns to the Dark Side.

I'd say give this one the go, as well. If you're having a Star Wars marathon (I still have yet to do that, perhaps on 12/13/2015, two days before Episode 7 opens), this may seem to drag. Still a great movie though, and we are spared from Jar Jar Binks.

My rating: 7 out of 10
Tomatometer: 67%

05/05 (a): Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace

Yesterday was May the 4th, aka Star Wars Day, and I wasn't going to put a Star Wars movie on here just yet. I was actually going to wait until the next Star Wars movie came out, but just recently I found out it's not going to open until December 2015 (that's 19 months from now!). So I figure, why wait? Why not do just a couple of them or maybe one of the trilogies?

I'm gonna start with the first in the trilogy, according to the timeline. To most people and Star Wars fans, the first film is 1977's A New Hope. Sure, it's true, but chronologically in the story, Episode I: The Phantom Menace is the first. This was the movie that was the most anticipated of all time; after all, it was 16 years since the previous Star Wars film. I'll never forget the people camping out and waiting in line hours before tickets were sold for this movie back in 1999.

Coming into this film (back in '99), I had only seen A New Hope, but I did know what mostly happened in the other two movies (Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi). I also knew this was the beginning of the rise of Darth Vader, but he went by his given name, Anakin Skywalker. He would be not only the main villain, but the father of Luke and Princess Leia as well as the husband of Queen Amidala. This was our first look at how he became the madman he was.

Of course, in the first one, he's a nice boy. He is a slave who lives with his mother, Shmi, on the planet Tatooine, the only planet on the galaxy where slavery still exists. Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor) and his mentor (Liam Neeson), both Jedi Knights, make a stop on the planet while en route to planet Coruscant from Naboo, to save the Queen. The queen's assistant (or, later the actual one, played by Natalie Portman) joins them. The trio befriend Anakin and try to get him out of his situation. Darth Maul is the main antagonist in the film.

I could go really deep in writing the plot; but as always, I like to keep it short and sweet. This is also not to 'give it away' to those who haven't seen it. So what do I think of it? I thought it was a fresh new beginning of a trilogy story at a time, but it also raised several questions for me. Like, why Jar Jar Binks, being one of them! I did give it a median score since I don't consider this friendly enough for 'the average movie watcher', which is something I fit into. But I do enjoy all the Star Wars movies, so it does get some from me in return. For those who haven't seen the original trilogy, you may feel a bit lost with the names, places and the characters. Still, an enjoyable film. And of course, the only time you'll ever see Darth Vader as innocent as he can be.

My rating: 6 out of 10
Tomatometer: 57%

Saturday, May 3, 2014

05/03: The Amazing Spider-Man

Just a year and a half ago this was the most I ever payed to see a movie at the theater. I saw it in 3-D and Imax. But it was cool to see it well-technified, I guess. Most people that the Spider-Man franchise was the fastest to ever get the 'starting over' treatment, especially 5 years after the disappointing Spider Man 3. Though it would have been great had the franchise continued on, who knows how it really would have ended. Rather than waste time, I guess mostly focus on the 'new' Spider-Man series. The second just opened yesterday. I do plan on seeing it real soon.

The movie starts from scratch, somewhat similar to the first Spider Man movie (2002) in how Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield) gets bit by the 'spider' and develops into 'Spider-Man'. The big difference is his love interest; this time around its Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone), whose father is the head of the big police department. Also, a different villain, the Lizard (Rhys Ifans), who mutated from Peter's mentor/hero Dr. Connors. It's basically a recycled but cool Superhero plot, with some variations here and there. Another subplot being used from the original series involves his uncle/guardian (Martin Sheen) being killed.

I've never read the original comic books, so I'm not sure if this is story was adapted from it. It wouldn't surprise me if it was though. I'd say this was put together real well. At the same time, I feel this was also missing something, but I don't know what. That's how I felt about Batman Begins. Some agreed with me on that. Great performances were put on by Sally Field (who plays Peter's aunt), Stone, and Garfield. It is easy to forget that Garfield is from England, and he always uses his British accent away from the camera.

I'd say this was a great reboot, and I expect bigger things to come with this new franchise. That way, this one will be remembered for generations. I trust that it will, given the fact that it got a jumpstart.

My rating: 7 out of 10

Friday, May 2, 2014

05/02: Annie

It's a film that I've watched a couple times in my 80s childhood, but I hadn't watched it for several years until last year! Needless to say, it brought back several memories and I even forgot how it ended. Apparently when you get old, after a long hiatus of watching a movie, you tend to forget about it! Annie is one of those that is seemingly timeless.

Based on the comic strip Little Orphan Annie, the title character is portrayed by Aileen Quinn. She, of course, is an orphan who is struggling at the orphanage with all the other girls vs. Ms. Hannigan (Carol Burnett). Set in the 1930s Depression-era, times were very tough for most, except for millionaire Oliver Warbucks (Albert Finney). Sure, he's got all the money in the world, except family. To give more quality and value to his image, he takes Annie in at his mansion for a week, and makes him see his softer side.

I'm not sure how to judge the acting in this one, but I thought everyone portrayed their characters and dance/singing parts very well. Apparently, some of the actors including Quinn got bad judgments about their performances. I'm not usually one to side with the critics, so I'll give them that. Great story though, and it'll put you in a time warp!

It's great for another '80s flashback' although there are not many culture references, but 1930s nostalgia. Still a fun family movie, and one that could get people to hope. Talk to your children about orphanages and what they are there for.

And yes, I've already seen the preview for the upcoming remake that's due this late Fall, starring Jamie Foxx as Warbucks. Not sure how this one will go, but we shall see....

My rating: 7 out of 10
Tomatometer: 50%