- The Host
So The Host has been catching a lot of flak and to be honest, I don't really know why. I grabbed a matinee of The Host this weekend and found it to be enjoyable. I have read the book and of course there are differences, but none that make the movie unwatchable. On the contrary, the scenery seemed to come straight from the page. Visually I don’t know how this movie could have been better.
Another positive aspect of this film was the acting. Saoirse Ronan (Wanda/Melanie), William Hurt (Uncle Jeb), Diane Kruger (Seeker), Max Irons (Jared) and Jake Abel (Ian) all portrayed their characters well. Of course I feel that Saoirse Ronan can do anything. Luckily the casting director got it right with Max Irons as Jared. He and Saoirse have very nice chemistry. More so than Jake Abel so it’s good that he plays Ian. I wish the guys had had more of a role other than standing around looking forlorn.
One complaint in many of the other reviews I read was about the voice over of Melanie’s character. To the haters I say, how in the world would you have done it? It worked. Get over it. Another complaint that seems to be universal is that the movie does not do a good job explaining how long it has been since Melanie has been gone. This is one I can get on board with. All it would have taken is one line of dialogue mentioning that three years had passed, but se la vie. The real issue for me is that the film builds nicely and then the ending feels a bit rushed. I’m not sure if I am alone on that, but there it is, my one big complaint.
I say if you like the book give the movie a try. It’s worth a look and it’s not like you have to pay 3-D prices. B-
the Giant Slayer
If you’re looking for an easy, feel good, family friendly film then I recommend Jack the Giant Slayer. It is true that the film hasn’t made nearly enough money to balance how much it cost to make, but I think the film’s distributors has a hard time marketing it appropriately. Rated PG-13 it could have gotten away with pushing the envelope a bit more. Everything about this movie is safe. That made it hard to draw the older audience, but kids under 7 may find the giants a bit too scary.
The actors are entertaining, but I wish the director would have given us a little more plot so we could have developed even deeper feelings for Jack, the princess and Ewen McGregor’s soldier. There was potential for this movie to be better than it was. I say catch it at a matinee and there is no need to pay the extra 3-D ticket price. The giants are well done and the cast fits nicely together, but there’s no need to spend a fortune on this nice little flick. B-
Summit’s first teen endeavor since the Twilight franchise has proven to be a success. Bringing in a little over $20 million on opening weekend is not bad for a zombie romance movie because let’s face it; zombies are not as sexy as vampires. That being said Nicholas Hoult was great as unusual zombie R. Hoult is not new to the industry having previously starred in About A Boy and X Men: Origins and has another movie opening on March 1st when he stars as Jack in Jack the Giant Killer. Hoult is sure to be an actor that we see in the years to come.
His leading lady Julie, played by Teresa Palmer was also enjoyable and reminds me in some ways of Kristen Stewart. She has four more finished projects under her belt so she too is someone we will be seeing again. Her best friend Nora, played by Analeigh Tipton was a total scene stealer. You might recognize her as the baby sitter with a major crush on Steve Carell’s character in Crazy, Stupid Love. She and Rob Corrdry, Hot Tub Time Machine, add humor to this breezy fun movie. Other noticeable appearances are offered by John Malcovich and Dave Franco (James’ little brother).
Warm Bodies is a cute movie and worth the price of matinee admission. If you like zombies this movie is for you and even if you don’t Hoult is endearing enough that you find yourself drawn to him. Overall this movie is a nice little escape. B
Let me start by saying this review
is not going to make me any friends, but I have to tell it how I see it.
I am a lover of musicals. I got the bug in middle school when I joined choir
and then later performing arts in high school. I have been to Broadway and
beautiful theaters in other cities sitting in amazement as I watch people
sing with passion and skill that I can only admire from afar. My point is,
my feeling about this movie is not because I don’t like musicals,
and you need to appreciate musicals to sit through this song fest that lasts
almost three hours. Seriously, there is no dialogue. It is all done in song.
Visually Les Mis hits the mark. It feels big, dirty and depressing, as it should considering it was taking place around the French Revolution. Some of the camera angles were strange and then there was some spinning with the camera that I could have done without, but overall the directing was well done. It is a huge undertaking.
As for the performances that you have undoubtedly heard about during this time of awards season let me say that Anne Hathaway did an outstanding job. Her roughly 20 minutes in the film are some of the most powerful. Hugh Jackman was good too, but here is the deal. You know that feeling when you watch a movie and you feel affected? You feel pulling on your emotions? You fight back the tears, or root for the characters? I just didn’t feel that way with this one. Sure it was good, but it’s Les Mis. It’s not new. It was good, but fell short of great for me. I don’t feel the need to rush out and buy it when it comes out on DVD, but I appreciate all the work the actors put into it.
There are other people in the film other than Hathaway and Jackman, not that you would know it from the awards shows. Russell Crowe was also a lead and his acting was of course well done, but his singing was okay. I know he took lessons and worked really hard, but not everyone is meant to sing that kind of music. Eddie Redmayne, Marius, was very good and this role is going to do wonders for his career. He has a nice voice and a certain boyish charm that was appealing and he and Amanda Seyfried, Cosette, had nice chemistry and vocal harmony.
What I found surprising were a few of the supporting characters. Aaron Tveit, Enjolras, played the friend of Marius and revolutionary leader. He was a scene stealer and so was Samantha Barks as Eponine. She was perfection. I almost felt for her. My husband also liked her best. Her voice was amazing and she played her part with the perfect blend of vulnerability and sadness. Maybe it shouldn’t surprise me that she has been in the stage show of this before. Maybe that is what was missing. Maybe next time they shouldn’t worry so much about casting the big names and find some people that can pull off the roles a bit more convincingly. Overall it was good, but if you are looking for great I recommend Silver Linings Playbook or The Impossible. B
I’m going to keep this one short and sweet. Wreck-It Ralph includes the voice talents of John C. Riley, Sarah Silverman, Jack McBrayer and Jane Lynch and they are all wonderful. It is the story of one villain who wants to become a hero and show that he really just wants to be appreciated. This film will make parents feel a little nostalgic for games of childhoods past. The bright candy colors of one game, the racing cars, the aliens and of course Ralph will keep the kids entertained and fortunately this movie is clever enough not to need fart jokes so it is appropriate for even the smallest viewer.
It runs a little long for a kid flick, but all in all I was entertained and so were my kids. B
On a side note the short film before Ralph starts is wonderful and may be in the running for an award come Oscar season.
The Perks of Being a Wallflower
Hello movie lovers, I’m back! I know it’s been awhile, but the dry spell is over. Thanks to the perfect husband I finally had a chance to go to the movies. The butter was flowing, the floors were sticky and the setting was just right. Wasn’t it a pleasant surprise for my first movie in months to exceed my expectations? Indeed it was.
Perks has been called The Breakfast Club for a new generation and I can see where that is accurate. There is a killer soundtrack and the adolescents in the film are dealing with personal issues, but it is by no means a copycat of John Hughes’ beloved 80’s film. The Perks of Being a Wallflower is based off of the novel by the same name and it is truly touching.
Emma Watson is charming as Sam and she is so good in this movie you forget she was ever a wizard at Hogwarts. Logan Lerman plays Charlie, a kid dealing with the suicide of his best friend and some deep issues of his own. Lerman displayed a perfect balance of boyishness and vulnerability. The other lead in the film was filled by Ezra Miller, and if his career was ever in doubt it shouldn’t be. He was the whip cream on the Sunday. His presence was equally full of comedic relief and sadness. I am sure we will be seeing more of him and he will be welcome.
You will find yourself laughing out loud, holding your breath and holding back a tear all within the hour and forty five minute span that is Perks. Let this be an example of what makes a smart, entertaining movie. A
The Dark Knight
I, like millions of others, anxiously awaited the final installment of Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy. It is very sad that the movie release was overshadowed by a madman. To those in Aurora, Colorado, there is nothing I can say that will come close to expressing my sorrow over what happened to so many moviegoers in your area. It is an unthinkable tragedy and to avoid addressing it would be dishonest on my part, because as I sat in the theater during one of the scenes where the action was blaring and the audience sat in rapt attention it occurred to me that is what your fellow citizens were doing when everything turned to chaos. To those who are living with the aftermath, your families, friends and neighbors are not forgotten.
Now for the review...
This film picks up eight years after The Dark Knight ended. The city of Gotham is still celebrating Harvey Dent and living in a time of alleged peace. Bruce Wayne is a recluse in his own home and his relationship with Alfred is fragile. Alfred is tired of watching Wayne not moving on with his life and when the city begins being terrorized by Bane and his bunch of goons Alfred is less than happy to see Wayne step back into the bat suit. The success of this trilogy is definitely in large part do to the excellent casting and character relationships that we have all come to appreciate in relation to Bruce Wayne including between Fox, Commisioner Gordon and of course Alfred.
Among all the returning favorites there were also a lot of new faces in Gotham including Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Marion Cotillard and Tom Hardy. They were all outstanding, but I must be completely honest when I say that I was annoyed when I saw that Anne Hathaway had been cast as Catwoman/Selina Kyle. I like her as an actress in some roles and in others I feel that she is completely the wrong person for the job. (Case in point her role in Brokeback Mountain.) Now did she bother me as much as I was afraid she would? No. Do I still wish they had cast someone else in the role? Yes.
The length of the movie was also noticeable, but in some ways necessary. Nolan had a lot of ground to cover and due to certain events that take place in the film, he needed there to be a feeling of time passing. The wrap up of this movie is one of the greatest I have seen at the end of a trilogy. I felt that all of the loose ends were tied up nicely and things ended the way they should. I also appreciated a certain surprise that included one of my favorite actors, but I don’t want to give any clues on that one. Nice gadgets, special effects and plot make for a very satisfactory movie experience. A-
So was Mike magical? Did he and the other ‘dancers’ light all the girls’ fire in the audience? Well to a point yes. Did the movie live up to it’s potential? Not quite. Magic Mike was marketed in a way that made it sound as though it would be fun. Kind of like what Sex and the City (only the first one) did for girls night out at the movies. I was expecting light-hearted banter and guys teasing each other, but after the first 15 -20 minutes it became something else entirely.
Director Steven Soderbergh decided to show what can come out of that lifestyle. The drugs and kind of people that are making a career out of stripping that have no intention of doing anything else. It was fairly realistic, but I am not sure that I was looking for realism. I just wanted to lose myself in a sea of abs and enjoy my night out. The serious side of the movie gave Channing Tatum a chance to show us that he can act and not just impress us with his dancing. I mean his big break was in the movie Step Up, where he met his wife, so we know the man has moves. And since Magic Mike is loosely based on events from his brief time as a stripper, I was pretty sure he knew how to do that as well. He isn’t a terrible actor, but this movie didn’t suit for him to try to flex his acting muscle. Some of the serious moments just felt out of place.
My other issue has to do with the rest of the cast. What about all the other hot guys we chicks were all there to see? Well you get to see them during the stripping scenes when they are in the club, but most of them have about zero lines. Matthew Mcconaughey is the exception, but he is not very likeable towards the end and that was one of the other problems. That character could have been a little more fun and a little less sleazy. Unless Channing is your man you are going to be disappointed with the lack of screen time for your favorite hunk of meat.
Now enough of all the negativity let’s get to the good stuff. Were the abs all that I dreamed they would be and more? Yes. Is Alex Pettyfer now in my top five? Yes. Were there plenty of chances to blush and squeal and cheer and laugh? Yes. The first 3 minutes gives you nudity and from there it isn’t long before you get to see the show. Judging by the sold out 7, 8 and 8:15 shows at my theater and all the screaming and whooping women in the audience and seeing as how it is estimated to hit the $40 million mark on its opening weekend I think it is safe to say that Magic Mike isn’t a total bust. It sure did make for some very nice eye candy. I know one individual that discussed getting her husband a gym membership after catching it on Friday night and hearing it made me wonder if she wasn’t on to something. Maybe a few dance lessons from Channing Tatum as well. That doesn’t seem like too much to ask, right? Who says men are the only ones who are visual creatures? So ladies take your friends and catch a matinee. C+
Snow White and the Huntsman
Truth be told, I am all
about the fairytale. I worked at DisneyWorld so I feel as though it is par
for the course. The latest trend that has Hollywood scrambling to crank
out their own twisted fairy tales is lots of fun for me. That being said
I was anxiously awaiting Snow White and the Huntsman, so did it live up
to my expectations or was I left with the bitter taste of a poison apple
in my mouth? Well I will tell you.
There were lots of things that I really liked about the movie. For example, bravo to the casting director. I know lots of people out there have issues with Kristen Stewart, but if Twilight is the only thing you have seen her in then that is not a fair representation of her acting abilities. She was a good Snow White. She was kind hearted and willing to go to battle when she needed to, but they didn’t make her some sort of deranged killer. Luckily the powers that be understand that Snow White is supposed to be innocent and pure of heart. The director did a nice job of that without making me want to punch her. Chris Hemsworth (Thor) played the huntsman and he was perfect. Right build (yes please), and he displayed the right amount of vulnerability when he needed to. It was nice to see that side of him since you get to see his hammer swinging abilities in that other small movie that he has out right now. Charlize Theron played Evil Queen Ravenna, people she is an Oscar winning actress for a reason. She was perfect. She was evil, but she was also crazy and we got to find out why she is so obsessed with beauty.
There were two performances that were a nice surprise. Sam Spurell, played Finn, the Queen’s uber creepy brother. He was really the one you loved to hate. Sam Claflin played William who is the ‘prince’ that we all know from the stories, but as you can deduce he wasn’t the main focus, but I do wish that they had given he and Snow White more time to talk in the movie.
There were a couple of scenes that seemed a bit long and at times unnecessary that could have been put to better use for relationship development. I don’t actually need to see them hike for twenty minutes of the movie to get that it is a long way to where they are going. Another negative for me had to do with the fairies. Completely pointless. It also added a level of fantasy that wasn’t needed. That was not CGI money well spent. The only other thing that I would have liked to have seen would have been a longer throw down at the end. There is almost two hours of buildup and then when it is actually time for the Queen and Snow to fight it is pretty brief.
Is Snow White a good flick? Yep. Would I watch it again? Yep. If you like fairy tales, you’ll like Snow White and the Huntsman. If you are being dragged there by your wife or girlfriend you can still enjoy the view and some cool special effects to boot. B