Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Movie Reviews

Wordless Wednesday is below this post.

When I first started this blog (before anyone was reading it, that is), I used to do pretty regular movie and book reviews. It was more a way for me to keep track of what books I was reading and movies I was watching than anything else. I haven't read all that many books lately, mostly because all my reading time is being dedicated to blog hopping, but I have watched quite a few movies lately. Here are some reviews of some of the movies I've seen recently. I'm not promising these to be in-depth reviews, just my opinions mostly.

Annapolis (2006) - Starring James Franco, Tyrese Gibson, Jordana Brewster, and Donnie Wahlberg (which, let's be honest, is the reason Tivo chose this movie for me).

Synopsis: This is the story of a kid (James Franco) from the wrong side of the tracks who wants nothing more than to get into the Naval Academy he's grown up across the river from. It appears his dream as come true when he manages to get in on a scholarship, but life inside the academy is harder than he ever imagined. With Tyrese Gibson as the hard ass officer in charge who wants to see him fail, Donnie Wahlberg as the guy who gave him a chance, and wants to see him succeed, and Jordana Brewster as the love interest.

I actually really enjoyed this movie. As a "military" film, it was your typical "underdog" prevails story, but I'm a sucker for these types of tales. I thought it was well acted, had some really funny scenes, and a bit of a corny romance subplot. As far as "military" movies go, this was the chick flick of the genre, I thought. Throw in a pretty boy, Tyrese Gibson as the bad guy in charge, a former New Kid, and a female character who kicks ass, and you've got chick-flick ingredients. Again, I'm a sucker for that too. It worked for me. Its not one of those movies that'll make much of an impact on you, but it was good for a few hours entertainment.

The Last Kiss (2006) - Starring Zack Braff, Rachel Bilson, Casey Affleck, Jacinda Barrett (wasn't she on one of MTV's Real Worlds?)

Synopsis: A group of 30 year olds struggle to adapt to life as adults.

Yeah, I don't really know what to say about this movie. Seeing as Garden State (another of Zack Braff's movies) is one of my all time favorite films, and having read the synopsis for this one, I was expecting some more of the same genius. To say I was disappointed is a bit of an understatement. Zack Braff's character is a man in a good relationship, with a woman (Jacinda Barrett) he is in love with and has a good relationship with, but he's going through a bit of a "mid-life crisis" at 30. So, in order to resolve this "crisis" he decides Rachel Bilson might just be the solution. At the same time a bunch of his other friends are going through relationship crisis of their own. I really didn't find any redeeming qualities to any of the characters in this film or to the film in general. I can't even recommend it to anyone.

Brokeback Mountain (2005) - Starring Jake Gyllenhall, Heath Ledger, Michelle Williams and Anne Hathaway.

Synopsis: Everyone knows the story. It's a love story between two men in the American West from 1963 to 983.

I have a real problem with watching a movie simply because it's gotten a lot of hype in Hollywood, and received all kinds of awards. As a general rule, I'm usually pretty disappointed in the critically acclaimed films (see Crash as an example here), so I tend to let the hype die down and watch it on my own time, to formulate my own opinions. So, I've just now gotten around to finally watching this movie.

I think I'm glad I waited for the hype to die down, but I'm also very glad that I did finally watch it. I was going to say I enjoyed this movie, but that would be an inaccurate choice of words, it was a terribly sad film, not something you actually "enjoy". But I did think it was a beautiful film. All controversy aside, this was a love story of star crossed lovers, and I thought it was told in a poignant and emotional way. I thought both Jake Gyllenhall and Heath Ledger did an excellent job portraying these characters, and although I think Gyllenhall got most of the media attention and praise surrounding this film, I thought it was actually Ledger who out did himself. He played the tortured and displaced Ennis so intensely that you couldn't help but feel his pain and confusion. Credit is due to Michelle Williams as well for her portrayal of Alma, his wife. She too did a wonderful job of portraying the tortured soul she was.

As for the "controversial" love scenes? Eh...maybe I've watched one too many episodes of MTV's Real World, but I just didn't get what all the fuss was about. You watch a movie about a love affair between two men, you'd better expect some physical contact, and if you are uncomfortable with that, well then, you shouldn't be watching the movie, now should you? Did I think it was over the top? Unless I watched some censored version, I really didn't see the big deal. (for the record, I did not watch a censored version).

I thought it was a beautiful, if sad, love story.

Superman Returns (2006) - Starring Brandon Routh, Kate Bosworth, Kevin Spacey, James Marsden

Synopsis: After a long visit to the lost remains of the planet Krypton, the Man of Steel returns to earth to become the peoples savior once again and reclaim the love of Lois Lane.

Going in, I actually had NO IDEA what this movie was about. Okay, wait, let me clarify, I knew it was about Superman. And yeah, okay, the title should have given it away, but I hadn't really followed any of the hype on this movie, so I didn't know it would be picking up 5 years after the last movie left off. That was kind of cool for me. (Unlike the Star Wars movies, I've actually seen most of the Superman movies). I enjoyed this one. It was a bit campy at times, but hey, it's a comic book superhero, if it can't be campy then...but it was cute. It's Superman, so you all know what happens, bad guy has kryptonite and wants to take over the world, Superman has to stop him, while at the same time keeping his true identity as Clark Kent a secret from everyone, and trying to keep his feelings for Lois Lane in check. There was a cute twist in the film that I won't spoil for anyone who hasn't seen it, but it left me hoping for more Superman movies, to see where it goes. Overall, I enjoyed it and thought Brandon Routh makes a good Superman.

Ice Age - The Meltdown (2006) - Starring the voices of Ray Romano, Queen Latifah, Dennis Miller and John Leguizamo.

The Original Ice Age is probably my favorite cartoon movie of all time. Well, maybe not of all time, but definitely that I've seen as an adult. It has to be one of the funniest cartoon movies EVER made, full of that double humor these movies are so great at...funny stuff for the kids, and then the not-always-subtle jokes that only the adults get. I have wonderful memories of watching it with Lil'K at the theatre, and there being a father with his son sitting in the row behind us, and the kids would laugh at certain scenes, and then this guy and I would laugh at others, and our respective "kids in tow" would look at us and go "What's so funny?" and the two of us would look at each other and just start laughing even more. But I'm totally digressing here, aren't I?

Back to the Meltdown. I LOVED IT. It totally kept the same level of humor, and I laughed pretty much beginning to end. Highly recommend it if you just need a night off from the seriousness of life. It was especially refreshing as we had just come in from watching "We Own the Night", which is definitely not a "light" movie.

We Own the Night - Starring Joaquin Phoenix and Mark Wahlberg
Synopsis: Two brothers on opposite sides of the law. Beyond the differences lies loyalty.
Joaquin Phoenix plays a night club manager, Mark Wahlberg plays his brother who is a cop. Throw in the Russian Mafia, illegal drug trafficking, and some family conflict, and you've got "We Own the Night".

Sigh...Marky Mark, why must you insist on these dorky hairdos for your movie roles? First there was that GodAwful THING you did to your head in The Departed, and now THIS? Please stop.

Oh, right, the movie...this film has been compared to The Departed for obvious reasons. It's a cop/gangster/mafia type film, which takes place at around the same time (sometime in the 80's) and Mark Wahlberg plays a cop in both. But I think that's pretty much where the similarities end. Where The Departed was a movie I walked out of thinking "WOW, that was so good, I have to see that again", We Own the Night didn't quite pack as much punch. Still, I thought it was an excellent movie. The movie begins with quite the uh...let's call it "unexpected" scene, and I'm not entirely sure what the purpose of that scene was, but from there it moves a bit choppily through the introduction of the characters and their situations. I was actually a bit lost in the beginning and annoyed that I couldn't understand half of what the actors were saying (and I'm not referring to the Russian ones, because they actually had subtitles to make that part easier to follow). Therefore, I'd say the first 30 minutes or so of the movie just didn't grab me. But once the action kicked in, the movie hit its stride and moved much more seamlessly through to the end. What I really loved about this movie though was the subtle bits of tenderness strewn throughout. More than a "gangster" flick, this was a story of human relationships, without professing to be so. Both Joaquin's relationship with his girlfriend, and the relationship between the two brothers had such unexpected tender touches that they took me by surprise. I wanted to explore more of that side of the story, but that wasn't the purpose of the film. I liked how they kind of snuck that human side into a genre that has been done over and over again. This saved the movie for me. It was a good film, and both Wahlberg and Phoenix carried their roles with the talent we are used to seeing from them.
And there you have it.


Anonymous said...

I only saw only one of the film you've reviewed here - Superman Returns. I thought that was a good movie except they cast the wrong actress for Lois Lane. The actress did not have the maturity to play the role. Lois Lane is supposed to be this tough chick with many life experiences but the actress (I forgot her name) seem out of place in the movie. Kevin Spacey makes a terrific Lex Luther and Brandon Routh makes a very modern superman.

I have also seen Ice Age but not the sequel which I love watching. I've also seen Garden State - an okay movie but I do like the soundtrack. I don't have cable or go to the theaters. I watch most movies on DVD or on TV.

Those are good choice of movies to see. I might see the Ice Age sequel but probably not the others since I don't like dramas that much.

I like reading your movie reviews - they're very honest and to the point.

Rebecca said...

Thanks for reminding me - I still need to post my Casablanca review... And I didn't read your post because I haven't seen any of those movies ;-0

I also wanted to thank you for sending your + vibes my way, when I could I'd take my BIL's laptop and sign into blogger to check for comments, they were all very encouraging!! :-)

Julia Phillips Smith said...

Haven't seen 'Annapolis' but LOVE James Franco.
LOVED 'Brokeback Mountain'. What can I say? I love heartbreakers.
Went to see 'Superman Returns' several times at the theatre with my cousin - we both loved the same parts. The tormented Superman scenes, of course! We also liked James Marsden as the third part of the triangle being a stand-up guy - makes the triangle more of a heartbreaker.
Saw the first 'Ice Age' but not this one.
Probably won't see 'We Own the Night' until it comes out in DVD and Brad brings it home from Blockbuster. But I LOVE Mark Wahlberg and Joaquin Phoenix.