Sunday, October 19, 2014
That said, them not going 100 percent Mexican in a Day of the Dead movie was only a minor annoyance. Had the rest of the movie been amazing, I could've brushed this aspect off. I mean, I was one of those people that didn't really have a problem with Johnny Depp playing a Native American in The Lone Ranger. The thing is, the story is kinda weak. I can't remember where I read it, but someone compared this movie to Romeo and Juliette with a Day of the Dead backdrop. And while I wouldn't necessarily use the Romeo and Juliette comparison, not every romance has to be compared to Romeo and Juliette, the idea that this is just a romance movie with the Day of the Dead themes being a side note is completely true. In the movie, you have a young Mexican girl and two young boys that both love her. She moves away to Spain and doesn't come back until they are all adults. Then when she does come, the movie is just these two men now fighting for her love. And it's completely predicable and completely cliché. There is a moment in the movie where our main character goes down to the land of the remembered and land of the forgotten. I was hoping they would spend more time on that aspect of the movie and give us a theme of remembering our family, friends and ancestors that have passed on, which is the purpose of the Day of the Dead. That would've been cool. But no, after touching on that a bit, we went straight back to the romance. Added on to that was the even more clichéd theme of writing our own story. Our main character loves singing, but his father insists that he be a bull fighter because everyone in their family was. Well, you know where that's going to go. And you're right. That theme has been done before, and done well, but in this instance it's really boring.
So overall, this isn't a bad movie. Yes, I've complained more than I've praised in this review, but that's because I saw the potential in the movie and had it been polished up, this could've been one of the best animated movies I've seen in a while. As I was watching it, I was amazed by the animation and the overall visuals of the movie. I really loved listening to the score and the original songs they sang were enjoyable, even if they weren't memorable. But I was just watching this story unfold and was disappointed that it was just a big, predictable love triangle story with the cliché theme of you can write your own story added in. I wanted this movie to be a movie about the Day of the Dead. Themes about death and remember those who have died would've made an excellent story. But sadly that was only an afterthought. That said, if you are looking for an animated, family-friendly movie to go see yourself or take your kids to, this isn't a bad option. Sure, I would recommend The Boxtrolls over this if you haven't seen that one, yet. Also, it might not be a terrible idea to wait a few more weeks for Big Hero 6. But if you've already seen The Boxtrolls and you don't want to wait a few weeks for another option, then check this one. You might enjoy it. Because it's not bad. It's just not fantastic. My overall grade for The Book of Life would be a 7/10.
Friday, October 17, 2014
Being perfectly honest, this is an extremely brutal and gory movie. One of the more gory war movies that I've seen, so I definitely can't recommend it to everyone, especially those with a queezy stomach. I mean, we are moving along and suddenly, almost without warning, there goes that guy's head. Yikes. I hope he made peace with his maker when the day started. Then we come into this German town and everywhere you look there are German citizens hanging everywhere with signs that say this person refused to fight for Germany. And I mean, the movie starts with Brad Pitt stabbing an enemy soldier in the face. But despite this, I wouldn't call this gratuitous, over-the-top violence. It felt real to what actually happened. Also, the movie wasn't non-stop violence the whole time. There was actually a lot of down time. In one instance, Brad Pitt and Logan Lerman walk into this German house and see a couple of German women scared to death, especially since they were hiding and suddenly American soldiers show up. What happens? Brad Pitt sits down and relaxes. They wash up, try to get to know the girls, and have dinner. And this goes on for a quite some time. I loved it! Like I said, this was a very personal, intimate movie. It wasn't just about war. It was about these soldiers. When the inevitable happens and war does break out, it becomes even more intense because of how emotionally attached you become to these characters.
So in the end, yes, this is a very brutal, very gory movie. But such is the case with war and I like how this movie was very honest and real with the audience. What made things worse is that while we as an audience were being horrified at the things that happened, some of the soldiers almost brushed it off as an every day occurrence. No, war wasn't a happy time. It was a terrible time and thus the bravery of these soldiers who risked their lives for us is something I can't really put to words and do it justice, but I have all the respect in the world for those who have fought in a war and these are the feelings I got from this movie. Could this movie be called predictable and cliche? Perhaps. But that wasn't the point here. Is it the most moving and emotionally powerful war movie that I've seen. No. There are other war movies that I might consider better, Lone Survivor being one of them. But yet this is still a very solid, very personal war movie that I really enjoyed. Like I said, I can't recommend this to everyone, but if you enjoy war movies and you are able to stand graphic battle scenes, then you definitely need to give this movie a chance. My grade for Fury is a very solid 8/10.
Thursday, October 16, 2014
While Downey Jr. and Duvall did save this movie from being a disaster, their performances alone weren't enough to turn this into a success. No matter who you have on screen, if you don't have a good screenplay its hard to have a successful movie. The first problem is that almost the whole first half of the movie is just boring. There is a lot of set-up and a lot of personal interaction between the characters. And while many times that's a good thing, this time it just didn't work. The flow was off. The chemistry wasn't great. I didn't care about most of the characters. It was just turning into a mess and I began to think that I was going to end on the side of those who hated the movie. But then it picked up. Specifically the court scenes began to happen and that's where the movie got interesting. However, amid those scenes there still was the annoying fly on the wall that wouldn't go away. Unfortunately that fly was Vera Farmiga. I'm actually a big fan of hers. She stars as Norman Bates' mother Norma in the new TV series Bates Motel and she is fantastic in that. Thus I was excited to see her in this, but her character is completely useless and super annoying the whole time. Disappointing waste of a fantastic actress.
So overall, The Judge is a very mixed bag for me. Yes, Robert Downey Jr. and Robert Duvall are both excellent. I really hope Duvall ends up getting his Oscar nomination because he deserves it. But Downey Jr. and Duvall can't totally carry this movie on their back when they weren't given a whole lot to work with outside the entertaining court scenes in the second half of the movie. But they do the best that they can and together they make it so the movie isn't a complete disaster. It just ends up being disappointing overall because had they polished it up a bit, this could've been an excellent movie. But it's not. My grade for The Judge is a 6.5/10.
Saturday, October 11, 2014
Meet the Mormons doesn't discuss the history of the Mormon church. It doesn't even get to far into the doctrine.It's just a documentary that follows six very different members of the Mormon church and various obstacles they had to overcome or experiences that they had. The best comparison that I can think of is the "I'm a Mormon" videos that the church has put out on their YouTube channel. This movie is basically six of those put together into one movie. Except, of course, they are extended to fill the space of 78 minutes. We have a young black bishop from Atlanta, the head football coach at Navy, a young couple from Costa Rica where the woman has gained an interest in professional fighting, an older pilot who became known as the candy bomber, an older man who has done a lot of humanitarian work in Nepal, and the mother of a missionary who went through quite the hardship growing up. I really loved these stories. While the candy bomber and the missionary mom were my favorite, all six of them were great stories that were amazing to watch. Yes, this movie is made to give people that are not members of the Mormon church a positive view of the church, but I really think that the people who are going to benefit most are actually members of the church because there's a whole lot to learn from each of these stories. They could be used as teaching tools, family home evening lessons, or other various activities like this.
If I'm being super nit-picky, I wasn't a huge fan of the scenes with the narrator at the beginning and end. While I did like the media clips and the interviews with random people in New York, when it was just the narrator talking to us, it was a little cheesy and mildly uninteresting. I got the feeling that the non-members who it was geared towards wouldn't take it completely seriously. Also, reflecting back to the time I served as a missionary for the church, if I had access to this movie while I was serving, I don't know how much I would've actually used it. I loved showing movies like The Testaments or Joseph Smith: The Prophet of the Restoration to those who I was teaching, but I don't know if I would sit down and watch this whole movie with them. But like I said, I did absolutely love the individual clips of the six different members. They were great. And the movie was very well shot, too. They went around the world with all these stories and even if you aren't a fan of the subject matter, you'd have to admit that the movie is a very pretty movie. And the song at the end by David Archuleta is also a very pretty song that you'll be singing as you walk out of the theater.
So overall, I personally thought this was a very good, inspiration movie that everyone should give a shot. However, I will admit that those who are Mormons might appreciate this more than those who are not. But that's not to say non-Mormons should avoid this. I don't think it comes off as preachy or annoying, it just gives you the opportunity to explore the lives of six individuals. If you are a Mormon, though, this is definitely a must see. Although I don't think I really needed to tell you that, since most have already flocked out to theaters to see it this weekend. But if you haven't seen it, definitely make plans to do so. And if it's not in your city, go to meetthemormons.com and request it to come to your city. You could wait for it to come out on DVD if you wanted to, but you'll be supporting a good cause if you see it in theaters since the church has announced that it will donate all money it earns from this to the American Red Cross. Now I have a hard time giving a rating to a documentary since it's a different type of movie, but nevertheless I will award Meet the Mormons an 8/10.
Friday, October 10, 2014
In the end, did I enjoy Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day? Yes, I did. Was it cliche? Yes. Was it super predictable? Yes. Did they show the whole movie in the trailer? Yes. Did I laugh out loud for the entire movie? No. Was it as touching and movie as it could've been? No. Did we really need a movie adaptation of this book? No. But we got it. No changing that. And as it turns out, it's another Disney movie that the kids should fall in love with. So here's my recommendation. If you are an adult with no kids and this movie didn't look super interesting to you, then I wouldn't say you need to rush out and see it. There are a whole lot of movies coming out and this one could be looked over for now. But if you are a parent with kids who has been waiting for a really good movie that your kids will enjoy because the family audience has been neglected as of late, then I would say this movie is a must see. Disney knows how to make movies that kids enjoy. That was their purpose here and they succeeded. So I'm going to give Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day a 7/10.
Thursday, October 9, 2014
|Don't worry James. I know how you feel. That's how I looked this whole movie|
I'm a pretty big fan of church history. I especially like learning more about stories and events that happened in church history that I didn't know about. It gives me a greater respect knowing everything people went through as well as good insight knowing how people thought and believed back then. That there was the biggest draw from this movie. I had never heard of an event in church history where there was a group of people that went out and searched for the 16 stones. I wanted to know more. Uhhh... turns out there is a reason why I never heard this story. It didn't ever happen! Yes, this movie is purely fictional. Once I realized this I was really disappointed. No history to be learned here. This event didn't happen. What it is is National Treasure, Mormon style. It's set in the early days of the church. Joseph and Emma Smith are even in the movie. We have this kid named James who decides that he wants to go search for the stones because he is convinced that finding it will stop all the persecution going on. His two friends, Elaine and Thomas, join him and the three of them are off on this big treasure hunt that lasts the whole movie.
In theory, this premise could work out. I personally enjoyed both National Treasure movies and even though the things they were searching for could never be found in real life, it was still a lot of fun anyways. Same here. No way in heck is someone going to actually find the 16 stones unless God wanted it to happen. It's kinda like a golden plates type of thing. But yet, if done right, a movie searching for these objects could be a lot of fun. The problem is, everything about this movie is just off. It's definitely a low-budget movie, but that's no excuse. I've seen plenty of amazing low-budget movies. But this is a low-budget movie where you wonder how much effort was actually put into making this. The script is horrendous. The dialogue is clunky and forced. And worse of all, the acting by our three main characters is so bad that it's hard to watch. I'm not really sure if it's their fault or if it's a case where they have nothing to work with and no talented directors to help them. Possibly a bit of both. But whatever the issue is, it makes this hard to watch.
I suppose I can appreciate the intentions behind this film. No big name directors or big name actors. A very low-budget movie where they were just trying to make this inspiring film. And it does have its moments where you feel good after a speech from Joseph Smith about faith. But overall, you need more than just good intentions to make a good movie. Take The Book of Mormon Movie for example. The director there had this amazing vision of bringing the Book of Mormon to the world by making a movie. Love that idea. There's a lot of great, inspiring movies that could be made from the Book of Mormon. But the execution of that was so bad that you wish the director would've just kept that vision to himself and not acted upon it. Same thing here. A Mormon-style National Treasure movie where they are searching for the 16 stones could be a lot of fun. But it isn't. Bad script. Bad acting. Bad story. No interesting drama. Nothing good about this film. I mean, I was literally the only one in the theater Wednesday night during the showing and I took advantage of that and played around on my phone for the last half of the movie. I even took a little quiz that told me how I died in a former life and posted in on my facebook. That was more interesting than the movie I was watching. I'm giving 16 Stones a failing grade, a 4/10.
There's a whole lot in this movie that I want to talk about. The problem is, the more I talk about certain things, the more the ride would be ruined for you, so I'm going to use a lot of self-restraint in this review. So let's talk about the actors in this movie. First off, Ben Affleck. His character in the movie gets a whole ton of terrible scrutiny from the media and he spends the movie fighting that and trying to fix his image. What I really liked about that in this movie is that it's a reflection of what has happened to Affleck in real life recently. Specifically I am talking about him being cast as Batman. When that announcement came, the comic book world went on a complete revolt and based on the heavy criticism of the casting choice, you would think that they were going to go find him and crucify him. Which is silly in my perspective because the man is actually a really good actor. If you don't believe me, go watch Argo and then go watch this. Once you do so, you'll realize that the casting of him as Batman is not such a horrible thing after all because just like in Argo, Affleck is really good in this movie. Whether or not he's actually guilty of killing his wife is a separate discussion that I'm not even going to go close to touching.
In the end, David Fincher definitely knows how to make a movie and when you watch this movie that knowledge is definitely strengthened. Gone Girl starts as a typical, yet interesting crime drama but then it takes off and goes in directions that will leave you shocked at stunned at what's happening. The acting is brilliant in the movie, especially by Rosamund Pike. It is a long movie, but the length didn't bother me at all. It kept going and going, but I was loving every minute of it and didn't want it to stop. However, when it did finally stop, I was awe. I just sat there speechless, soaking it all in. No, this isn't a perfect movie. But I'm not going to talk about what I didn't like. I'm just going to leave this review by saying that Gone Girl is one of the best movies of the year. I give it a 9.5/10.