Tuesday, July 30, 2013

(Movie Review) Pacific Rim (2013)

My childhood fantasy comes true as monsters and robots face off in Pacific Rim

Even though I know that they don’t stand up well, or maybe even because of it, I have always loved Godzilla movies. An oversized monster than inevitably shows up to a city and decides to make a day out of stomping all over the buildings and people…you know, good old fashioned fun. Obviously I had numerous Godzilla toys (or the Dollar Store equivalent) and the only other toys that I had that where the same size were my Transformer toys. So Godzilla and Optimus Prime would fight on a daily basis while the cast of He-Man looked on in horror. Not only did seeing this movie make me think of those carefree days, it also reminded me that writer/director Guillermo del Toro owes me some royalties, as I am obviously the inspiration for this film.

Storyline: After a lifetime of being told that one day we be invaded by visitors from beyond the stars we find that it is under the sea that we should have been watching. As a rift is torn between our world and another, giant monsters called Kaiju rise from the depths of the ocean and destroy major cities all over the world. After years of fighting them with standard weapons, the world leaders come together to build massive robots called Jaegers. These robots, piloted by two people that are neurologically linked together, are the last line of defense against the Kaiju. But when the Kaiju begin coming more and more frequently, and each time they are larger and larger, the last chance of saving mankind is to try to seal the rift once and for all. 

Don’t let the weird names and the fact that monsters and robots are fighting throw you off. This movie is fun. WAY more fun than I thought it would be. At one point I saw my wife sitting in her seat with her mouth slightly opened in awe of the spectacle that was taking place on the screen. Does that mean that this is an Oscar worthy film…not at all. In fact, the movie has a few performances that are just downright bad (I’m looking at you Charlie Hunnam). But where the acting of the lead fails, and when the script seems a little bit too focused on giving Charlie’s character, Becket, too many “cool” lines, the only thing you can do is momentarily cringe and then move on to the next beautifully shot scene. Because the visual effects and the overall epicness of it trumps the underperformance of any single actor. 

Worth the admission? Does Crimson Typhoon have three arms? Of course! This movie is fun. It is also one of the most visually impressive movies that you are going to see this year. It is so massive, and the world that del Torro creates is one that makes for a very entertaining and exciting 2 hours. Be sure to check it out! 

Monday, July 22, 2013

(Movie Review) The Heat (2013)

The Heat turns out to be a slow burn for me

I worry about actors. I know that this feeling is not reciprocated. I know that they do not sit around at night and say “I sure hope Jonathan makes the right choices in his career”, but I do feel that way about them. Hollywood is a fickle temptress and a lot of times good actors go down bad roads for the sake of a paycheck and exposure.  Melissa McCarthy is one of the people that I worry about in that aspect. From her forgettable appearances in The Hangover Part III and Identity Thief, I hoped that this movie would be the one to get everything back on track with me being a fan of hers. While she is really not at the root of the problem I have with this movie, I do feel like her “shtick” is beginning to wear a little thin. 

Storyline: FBI agent Ashburn (Bullock) is a hardnosed agent that lives by the letter of the law and, while proving herself as an outstanding asset to the FBI, she is universally disliked by the other agents in her department. She is campaigning hard for a promotion but her superior is reluctant to give it to her because of her personality. She is assigned the case of taking down a dangerous drug lord as a final test to prove that she is ready for the promotion. But this will require her to partner up with a foul mouthed Boston PD officer named Mullins (McCarthy). Worlds collide when straight-laced meets unhinged. 

The movie is actually pretty funny. There are a lot of really great comedic moments that help both McCarthy and Bullock shine. The problem that I had with the movie is that Bullock’s character is not really entertaining until the end of the film. The way that she plays Ashburn is so grating to me and seemed to be really wasted. She has played an FBI agent before, and it was a lot funnier as Gracie Hart in Miss Congeniality (2000). So for me, it felt more like she was playing a less funny version of that character. 

As for McCarthy, she was really funny, but the role is basically the EXACT same thing she has played in every other film that she has been in. Roughneck and foul mouthed that ultimately shows a tender side. The woman can actually act, but Hollywood is happy having her play a modern version of Roseanne Barr. She could do so much better with some original material. 

Worth the admission? Despite all of my criticisms, I have to admit that I did enjoy it and think that it is worth watching. While it falters, the movie does deliver a lot of laughs. I just hope that the planned sequel will not suffer the same pitfalls that I felt parts of this movie suffered. Especially from Bullock. 

(Movie Review) White House Down (2013)

White House Down should stay down and never get back up

Channing Tatum films are like discount canned foods at the supermarket that are missing the labels. Sometimes you get a nice surprise but most of the time it’s something that you really don’t care for. How this guy has made a name for himself in Hollywood is beyond amazing to me. He really does suck in pretty much everything that he is in. But he is a particular kind of “suck”. His level of “suck” brings out the “suck” in everyone else that is in the movie too. Case in point…this movie. A talented group of actors that have never been worse at their jobs than they are in this movie. 

Storyline: After an interview at the White House to become part of the Secret Service, John Cale (Tatum) and his daughter join a tour group. While on their tour they are separated and soon an attack is made on the White House. While hordes of mercenaries flood the building, killing everything that moves, Cale is tasked with trying to find and save his daughter while also protecting the President (Foxx). 

If you are thinking that you have somehow stumbled into a time machine that dropped you off in May 2013, you are mistaken. That movie was called Olympus Has Fallen and was undoubtedly better than this film. However, while watching it you may feel more like you have been transported back to 1988. A dreamy tank-top clad hero must scurry though the maze of a large building and take out the bad guys while also trying to protect a loved one. But again, you would be mistaken. That movie is Die Hard

Joking aside, I have never felt like a movie was more of a blatant rip off of another movie than I did while watching this movie rip off Die Hard. Sure, the location is different and the stakes make be considered higher, but John Cale wants to be John McClane so bad it’s pathetic. One line, and the exact line escapes me now, I believe is word for word copied from Die Hard. The only difference is that Bruce Willis was, and always will be, more talented and likeable than Channing Tatum. 

Worth the admission? Never! If this was the real world I would have been rooting for the terrorists! Not only is Tatum worthless in this movie, but Jamie Foxx makes the worst on screen President I have ever seen. He is given some cringe worthy dialog. It’s a shame too. This movie actually has some really good actors in it, but none of them live up to their potential. There is a scene where Foxx, Tatum, Maggie Gyllenhaal, and Joey King ( John Cale’s daughter) is sitting in a helicopter and it is the most awkwardly bad acting I can remember seeing lately. Between that and the HORRIBLE special effects, I have to recommend that you skip this movie.