Sunday, October 19, 2014

The Book of Life Review

From Reel FX Animation Studios, the animation studio that brought us Free Birds, comes The Book of Life, which is another animated movie about a holiday, this time being the Mexican holiday Día de los Muertos, aka Day of the Dead. Now I didn't actually write a review on Free Birds. The reasoning for that is because I actually skipped it in theaters and thus didn't see it until it came out on DVD. Given how horrid the reviews were for the movie, I was actually pleasantly surprised. It wasn't the best, but it was a fun little animated movie about Thanksgiving. I do find it interesting that both of Reel FX's feature length animated movies are about holidays that don't have a whole lot of movies about them. It's like they're playing a game of no holiday left behind, which is kinda cool. The Book of Life is a movie that I wasn't completed sold on going into it, but it looked like a could surprise. Turns out it's about what I expected. Despite fantastic animation, the movie as a whole leaves a little be desired for.

Like I mentioned, The Book of Life is a movie that takes place on Day of the Dead and attempts to honor the Mexican holiday and Mexican tradition. However, nothing says honoring Mexico like Channing Tatum and Mumford and Sons, right? I think it would've actually been really cool if this movie went all in with the Mexican theme, but it was obvious that they were trying to appease both crowds. They did have plenty of Mexican voice actors and music, but there was also just as much American voice actors and music, which just felt a bit weird. It was also obvious that they were trying to appease their non-Mexican audiences by spending a ton of time describing what Day of the Dead actually is. And yes, they used Day of the Dead the whole movie. I don't even remember Día de los Muertos actually being said. I do want to add that our American actors and American music wasn't bad. People like Channing Tatum did a great job. They just felt miscast and slightly out of place. And I did like I Will Wait by Mumford and Sons. It's a great song and I was quietly singing along with it. I was just wondering why it was happening. Mexican music would've worked much better.

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.

Despite all these negative comments, there are two aspects of the movie that are done very well. The first of this is the animation style. Yes, this is done by the same studio that did Free Birds, but you wouldn't notice that if they didn't say so. Free Birds isn't bad animation, but it's nothing worth writing home over. The style in this movie doesn't even look similar. It's very unique and very spectacular. Thus it makes the movie as a whole visually brilliant. It reminded me of The LEGO Movie from earlier this year. The LEGO Movie wasn't stop motion for the most part, but it was done so well that you almost wondered if they had actually used LEGO figurines. Same case with The Book of Life. The characters are like toy figurines and there's parts of the movie where you wonder if they actually used toy figurines. Sometimes I feel the Oscars look at the animation style when determining the best animated feature award and if that's what they decide to do this year, The Book of Life definitely deserves a nomination. The other thing that I think this movie did very well was the score. Now the movie was almost a musical. There was a lot of singing and several original songs written for the movie. That's not what I'm talking about here. Those songs were good, but not memorable. But the score was fantastic.

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

Fury Review

Brad Pitt has had quite the illustrious career. And despite the fact that he is extremely recognizable, he does such a good job in each of his roles that he still manages disappear into his roles. That's why I love watching him act. He seems fully invested in whatever he plays. Because of that, you say "starring Brad Pitt" and I'm down. Such was the case with Fury. Also I do always love myself a good war movie. Lone Survivor from early in the year was quite excellent, so I was hoping for a repeat performance like that. Now saying "from the director of End of Watch and Sabotage" isn't something I'd necessarily be all over, but I can give David Ayer a chance. I suppose some will walk out saying this is cliche and predictable, a been there done that type of thing, but I personally walked out of theater really impressed with what I had just witnessed.

Basically you can say that Fury is a day in the life of a World War II soldier. Like literally. This movie only covers one day. It does give us a background. It's April 1945, so the war is almost over, but the Germans are giving it all they've got in these last moments, so the war is as brutal as ever. But despite that setting, the movie isn't focused on the war as a whole. It's just giving us a personal look at an American tank crew. The tank that we follow is named Fury and its story is quite impressive. American tanks apparently didn't do so well in World War II simply because the German tanks were so much better. The American tanks just didn't stand a chance. But Fury did. I don't really know historically accurate this movie is, but it's one of those situations that I don't think this matters at all, so I didn't even bother with it. This is a very personal, intimate movie that really gives a good perspective on what war was like.It's terrible. Brutal. Awful. And that's why I have all the respect in the world for soldiers that have fought in a war. They go through all that they do, putting their lives on the line, so that they can protect the freedoms that me and you enjoy. I love that extreme level of bravery and I hope it's something that we never take for granted.

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.

Speaking of characters, I want to spend some time talking about our main cast. Of course we have Brad Pitt as the sergeant and leader of this tank team. Like always, he is fully invested and completely submersed in his character. But despite him being great, this really isn't a movie about Brad Pitt. Sure, Brad Pitt plays the lead role, but this is much more about Logan Lerman's character. Lerman plays a young, inexperienced soldier. At this point, he has only been in war for eight weeks and he didn't even come over to fight. He came over for typing duties. But suddenly he is thrown into this group and by goodness does he struggle with this. You see how shocked and overwhelmed he is at the beginning, so you really feel bad for him. But then you watch as he grows and matures throughout the movie to the point where he becomes a strength for the crew instead of burden. Logan Lerman does such a good job at this that he definitely deserves recognition. A third person who surprisingly also deserves a ton of praise is Shia LaBeouf. Yes, he does an amazing job. I actually liked him in the movie Holes, so it's not like I've never seen him in a good role, it's just been a while. And of course Transformers completely ruined any positive reputation he had and made him one of the most easy to make fun of actors out there. I actually really appreciate it when a seemingly bad actor turns things around and shows the world that he or she can actually act. This is what Shia LaBeouf does and I applaud him.

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

The Judge Review

I'm a pretty big fan of Robert Downey Jr. and I definitely don't shy away from the fact that I love The Avengers. Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark, aka Iron Man, is absolutely incredible. The man was born to play that role. However, it's also great to see Robert Downey Jr. in his other roles because the man is also just a great actor. Thus when I first heard about The Judge I was really excited. I didn't know much about it back then, but it had Robert Downey Jr. in it and so I was sold. It first debuted in the Toronto International Film Festival and unfortunately it performed poorly. Upon its release, critics were split with it, but audiences actually loved it. Thus I was confused and didn't know how to feel, so I went in completely neutral. As it turns out, I'm about in the middle of the pack. This isn't a bad movie and the acting certainly is fantastic, but it also could've been a lot better.

In The Judge, Robert Downey Jr. plays this pretty stuck-up lawyer. He has attitude problems, marriage problems, and father problems. He doesn't visit his parents much, but upon the death of his mother he takes a leave of absence from his job to go down to the funeral. Right as he's about to return, a situation arises wherein his father, who has been a judge for 40 years, is convicted of murder. Thus Robert Downey Jr. ends up staying down there to be his father's lawyer in the case. This story tries to be super uplifting and emotional, but for the most part it actually falls pretty flat. I'll get into that more in just a bit, but what really saves this movie from being a disaster is the two main leads. Yes, I'm talking about who you think I'm talking about. Robert Downey Jr. I told you loved his acting and he's fantastic in this. I didn't even think about Tony Stark as I was watching. Just Robert Downey Jr. But even more impressive in this is Robert Duvall. Duvall plays the father in this that gets convicted of murder and by goodness there are so many scenes with him that are exceptional. He's been one name been talked about to get an Oscar nomination and as I try to think of the scene that they would show at the Oscars if this does happen, there's just too many to choose from.

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.

Back to the court cases. When they happen, the movie becomes Robert Downey Jr. versus Billy Bob Thornton in the court room and by goodness is it entertaining. I wish more of the movie was in the court room because then it would've been excellent. Speaking of Billy Bob Thornton, I forgot to mention him earlier, but he's the prosecuting attorney in this, which essentially means he's villain in this and he is just mean. This is the one point where I felt like Downey Jr. was going to pull out his Iron Man suit and turn this thing into an outright physical dual. Which by the way Marvel, if you are reading this, it might not be a bad idea to cast Thornton as a Marvel villain. That would work really well. Finally, I'm not going to talk about the ending, but there was a point where I thought the movie was going to end and I would've been content. But then it kept going. It got to a point where I think it is going to end for a second time and at that point I would've been super happy. But then it keeps going still and the actual ending is pretty terrible in my opinion. I'm not saying the movie is too long. It isn't. I'm just saying the actual ending isn't satisfying.

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 Review

There's been a lot of LDS-themed movies that have arrived in theaters. I reviewed one the other week. However, Meet the Mormons is unique because it's the first movie that was actually made by the church that is being released in theaters nationwide. Previous efforts by the church such as Joseph Smith: Prophet of the Restoration, The Testaments: Of One Fold and One Shephard, and Legacy were only released in Legacy Theater in downtown Salt Lake City. This is a movie that is specifically targeted towards those who are not members of the Mormon faith as it tries to dispel some of the stereotypes that follow the Mormon church. I don't know how that target audience would react to this movie, but as a devout member myself, I loved this movie and I would recommend that all members go and check this one out.

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 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

Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day Review

That's a really long name for a movie. It makes typing up a review mildly annoying, but oh well. I'll make it through (It's one of those times I'm grateful for the copy and paste technique). Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day is a movie that definitely caused me to raise an eyebrow when it was first announced. I of course was a 5-year-old at one point. I loved that little book. But did it really need to be made into a movie? I remained skeptic for a long while, but slowly the idea grew on me. Casting news and trailers helped ease my skepticism to the point where I actually thought that this could be a fun little family film. And turns out it is. No, it's nothing special. It's very cliche. Surprisingly boring at times with no twists, turns or surprises. Not that emotionally moving like it could've been. But it's not a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad movie. It's decently fun and, most importantly, the kids are going to love it.

I don't need to tell you what this movie is about. You've read the book. Alexander has a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day. But then he realizes that it's not so bad. Boom. Movie done. But how does this make it as a full-length movie? Well, after Alexander has his bad day, he wishes his bad day on his family because they seemingly aren't paying him any attention. So in fact we have two days that are terrible, horrible, no good, very bad days. And that actually is the movie. It's only 81 minutes long, so it flies by pretty fast and there comes point where you wonder if they could've made it a touch longer. But it works decently. As expected, it's pretty much 81 minutes of gags. Terrible, horrible, no good, very bad things happening to this family on this terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day. And they are supposed to make you laugh through it all. The problem is I really wasn't laughing too hard through the whole movie. There's a few laugh out loud moments. But mostly just constant chuckles throughout. And the big reason for that is because it's one of those really annoying moments where the whole movie was in the trailer. I actually laughed at the trailer when I first saw it. It was great. But I wanted more and the movie didn't give me any more. Turns out that in order to make the trailer, they took all the funniest gags from the movie and threw them together in the trailer. And because I watch a lot of movies and thus see a lot of trailers multiple times, I felt like this was the 20th time I was watching this movie and thus it was actually kinda boring. It didn't help that I knew exactly what was going to happen.

But do you know what, as I was sitting watching the movie, I began to think about the target audience. This is not a movie that is made for adults. Sure, I think that adults can enjoy it, but this is a family-friendly movie that is made for kids. No, the story isn't amazing. But kids don't need an amazing story. Sure, the movie is very predictable. But kids don't need an unpredictable movie full of twists and turns. Yes, it's cliche. But cliche isn't so cliche when you're young. Yes, the whole movie was in the trailer. But how often does your 7-year-old sit down and watch trailers? Exactly. It's all going to be new for them. Sure, there's only going to be a few laugh-out-loud moments if you are an adult. But as long as it makes the kids laugh out loud, isn't that all that matters? And as it turns out, I ended up being one of those creepy old guys sitting there in a kids movie by himself with a theater full of kids. And I can tell you by first hand account that all the little kids in my theater were busting out laughing the whole entire time. "That was such a good movie!" said a little girl behind me as we walked out of the theater. I can't give this movie a harsh grade. It was made for the kids and the kids absolutely loved it, so it was successful in it's purpose.

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

16 Stones Review

Don't worry James. I know how you feel. That's how I looked this whole movie
Last weekend I was rummaging through showtimes, deciding what I wanted to see when suddenly I noticed that a movie called 16 Stones was an option. I never heard of it before, but upon brief research I learned it was about a group of Saints in the early days of the LDS church who went on a journey to find the 16 stones that lit up the Jaredite barges. Wait what? Did that really happen? Suddenly my curiosity was piqued and I almost saw it that night. But I waited. Then during the LDS General Conference over the course of the next couple of days, the movie was advertised pretty heavily between sessions. I also noted a billboard or two advertising the movie along I-15 here in Utah. So all that did it. At the very least, I knew that a lot of my LDS readers would be curious about this movie after having watched General Conference, so I figured I'd do my duty and inform that crowd what I thought of the movie. Because, you know, I'm a nice guy like that. Turns out I got really bored really quickly, but I hung in there. Now I'm here informing you that this is a movie that you should just avoid as it's one of the worst LDS-themed movies that I've ever seen. It's right down there with The Singles 2nd Ward and Sons of Provo. That bad.

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.

Gone Girl Review

For some random reason, kidnapping wives has been a popular movie subject in the last few weeks. In my most recent review, I discussed A Walk Among the Tombstones, which is a movie about a drug kingpin who goes to a private investigator played by Liam Neeson after his wife gets kidnapped and murdered. And now it's time to discuss Gone Girl, where Ben Affleck's wife goes missing on their five-year anniversary. This one I was especially excited considering the history of director David Fincher. In the past, Fincher has directed masterpieces such as Se7en and Zodiac. Yes, he's done several more fantastic movies, but I bring up those two because those are probably my favorite of his and Gone Girl seemed like it was similar in style to those two movies. And it definitely was. But it also wasn't. Gone Girl is Gone Girl. It's its own thing. And boy was this quite the movie. David Fincher certainly knows how to make a movie as once again he hits a home run.

Going into this, I had actually just watched A Walk Among the Tombstones a few days before, so I was definitely in the crime drama mood. I enjoyed that movie and towards the beginning of Gone Girl it felt fairly similar. A man's wife goes missing and before you know it, the police are on it and the detectives are interrogating Ben Affleck. Suddenly, Ben Affleck gets a ton of media scrutiny and before too long everyone is accusing him of killing his wife. At the start, you are on Affleck's side, but as the movie goes on you keep going back and forth in wondering if he actually did it or not. It was a typical crime drama and I was enjoying it just like I enjoyed A Walk Among the Tombstones. And then holy freaking cow! Right as I was settling down to try to solve this mystery in my head, the movie takes a huge turn and as I was watching it I am pretty sure that my jaw literally dropped. As in my mouth was wide open with my hands covering it. Then this becomes a completely different movie. What does it become? I'm not telling you. But what I will say is that's not the only time the movie takes a big twist. The second half of the movie is completely insane with several shocking twists and turns.

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.

Moving on from Affleck, let's talk about more actors. And how about Tyler Perry? Yes, the same Tyler Perry that directs a thousand movies a year, most of them including himself as the big fat black woman named Madea that is really annoying. I'm not a fan of Perry at all. In fact, I've learned to avoid his movies. However, he shocked the heck out of me in this because he plays Affleck's lawyer and he does a fantastic job. Yes, you heard me. Tyler Perry does a fantastic job. Next up, Carrie Coon. I'd actually never heard of her before this. Looking at her filmography, yeah I've still never heard of her. But she plays Ben Affleck's twin sister and the thing I love about her is that she is very good at being honest and unfiltered like a sibling should be. She asks the type of questions that only a sibling would ask and she does great at it. Next up in actors is Neil Patrick Harris. Out of everyone in the movie, he's had the most mixed opinions. Some say he's completely miscast. I personally actually liked him in this. I enjoy it when actors known for their comedy can step up and play a dramatic role. It's great. Unfortunately, my issue with him is that his character is underused. I wanted to dive into his character more. Give him a bigger role. But that didn't happen. Now if you've seen Gone Girl, you'll notice that I'm missing one major player and that's Rosamund Pike. I bring her up last because I'm wanting to hide her more in this review. I could spend two whole paragraphs on her and her character, and I want to, but the more I say about her the more it ruins your experience. But let me just say that she is legendary. One of my favorite performances from an actress ever.

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.