Brittany Runs a Marathon
John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum
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It's finally here, the culmination of all the anticipation and hype from when we first laid eyes upon that scene in Iron Man when Tony Stark and Nick Fury met for the first time and the Avenger's Initiative was first proposed. Hard to believe that was only 4 years ago almost to the day and let me say without a shadow of a doubt that all the hype, hooplah, press, wait, and anything else you can think of was well worth it and deserved.
There is just so much to like here from the astounding amount of character development as each ego butts heads with one another, to the script, to the CGI, to the action set pieces, and even just to the spectacle of it all. You really felt like something big was being accomplished on screen which is fitting with the scale of this movie. While I was worried that this movie would suffer the same treatment that was given to the likes of Thor, Captain America, and Iron Man 2 you can rest soundly that those movies were all just stepping stones to the bigger picture. There are so many nods to the comics that even die hard nitpickers will appreciate the movie. I refuse to talk about the plot because I don't want to spoil it for anyone else, I'll just say that simply the humanity of each character is never forgotten and is often the spotlight of the movie and this is a VERY VERY good thing.
As for Joss Whedon he puts his own flair on this movie. So for those of you who have seen his previous works in Serenity, Firefly, Buffy or Angel you'll be able to identify with his personal style right away. With that said he definitely toned down his personal style as many have called his work "campy." I can say that he meshed seamlessly into the Marvel light-hearted nature of movies. In fact instead of coming off corny or cheesy like many other Marvel films this film actively entertains in the best ways possible every step of the way as the theatre was roaring in approval with each joke, each nod to the fans, and even more hilariously so during the most mundane of scenes ever post credits. (Stay for the credits, there's one nugget at the beginning and another after). Another thing you'll appreciate from Whedon is his natural flair for showing the inner workings of a team, everything that makes them tick, quibble, or succeed. If you've seen Firefly or Serenity you know exactly what I'm talking about and he transfers this ability to the Avengers and quite frankly its awesome.
The team dynamic centres around the differences between Iron Man and Cap but every character gets his or her due... at least outside of Hawkeye. He's the only character in this movie that gets the shaft. Also I think its safe to say even without Edward Norton this is the BEST film adaptation of Hulk hands down as he has many scene stealing moments both as Banner and his alter ego. Seeing the team come together is a thing of beauty and seeing them finally work together to defend the Earth is every bit as amazing as we thought it was going to be. I would love to single out specific scenes but I can say without a shadow of a doubt every set piece in the film is worth the price of admission alone; but don't fret, there's plenty of them to go around!
Basically you're going to see this movie regardless of what I say but I'll leave you with a few more words. See the 3D as it wasn't an afterthought and it helped engross me in the movie. Even though I haven't seen The Dark Knight Rises I firmly believe that the competition for best superhero movie will come down to 1a) and 1b) and finally... Hulk, smash.
I'll be honest in saying that I didn't expect much out of this film, the ONLY things it had going for it was that Guy Pearce was starring and that studios had the confidence to not release it in the month that means universal box office death in March. Guy Pearce plays the wise-cracking agent named Snow who has been framed by some unknown foe while trying to help recover stolen government secrets. To try to clear his name he is sent on a suicide mission to save the President's daughter, Emilie (played by Lost's Maggie Grace), in a maximum security prison located in space.
Lets start with the negatives as there are a lot of things that ticked off my nitpicking senses. The CGI isn't very top notch here, but its only distracting when the action gets too fast paced for the camera to follow and everything begins to look "off." This movie borrows HEAVILY from other movies as Snow is clearly a derivative of Bruce Willis in Die Hard, scenes are stolen directly from Star Wars, and Maggie Grace ends up looking like Franka Potente in Bourne Identity, and most of the kills look like something out of a James Bond movie in terms of, "wow that was rather convenient that that thing was there to save him." Also this movie as expected is very clichÃ (C) and EXTREMELY predictable.
All that said this movie is within the category that its so bad its good. And not in the good movie way but in the way that coming out of it you'll definitely be entertained and you won't be looking at your watch waiting for the movie to end. Guy Pearce does the best with what he's given and his banter throughout the movie is actually quite hilarious from the delivery to the dialogue itself. He's essentially the main reason you watch this movie, that and the movie is so clichÃ (C)d its entertaining. I don't recommend you pay full price to watch this movie but I do recommend that you see it if you want an entertaining, turn off your brain, popcorn popping movie.
I'll preface this with a spoiler-free review for those of you who haven't read the book and are thinking about watching this movie. You mainly have to ask yourself these two questions: Do you like Jennifer Lawrence? Do you enjoy a movie with kids pit against each other in a fight to the death? If you answered yes to either of those questions then I'd recommend this movie to you.
Jennifer Lawrence is AMAZING in this movie. She single handedly carries this movie and while most of the other cast holds their own, Jennifer has the chops to carry this movie. She has the strong woman role down pat showing that her nomination for Winter's Bone (a movie you should see if you have any inkling of respect for Jennifer Lawrence) was not a fluke. She's established herself as a force in Hollywood and shut up any and all doubters.
Definitely give this movie a watch but I'd recommend either reading the book first or bringing a friend who has as some of the finer points of the movie will be lost to you and the weaker points seem that much more glaringly bad. It's not required but it'll certainly add to the experience.
Most of the changes they made from the book I enjoyed as they made sense for the movie medium. A lot of the key scenes within the book were well handled and while I felt some of the movie felt rushed (ex. the Reaping, the tributes highlights, and the star-crossed lovers scenes), it didn't detract from the movie that much because Gary Ross does a phenomenal job at pacing this movie so that you don't even realize you're in the theatre for two hours and twenty two minutes.
I'll start with my gripes... they didn't emphasize at all that Katniss was acting to the audience in order to gain favour from her sponsors. Someone who hasn't read the book will groan at the "intimate" scenes as they sound like something a high school girl wrote. I felt they made the love triangle between Katniss, Peeta, and Gale an absolute joke as I found myself laughing rather than their desired effect which was to see the pain in Gale's eyes whenever he witnessed Katniss and Peeta together. Also they completely glossed over the end of the book and instead set up the next movie with President Snow's vengeance. They also didn't do a good job establishing Katniss' competition in the Hunger Games as we're only introduced to Cato and that's about it. While Rue was handled masterfully the other tributes were not. Fox-face was completely ignored until she up and died on screen. I don't usually comment on camera movement but some of this stuff is just plain bad. A note to Hollywood, please abolish this handheld camera style as its disorienting and incoherent.
Now let's move onto what I liked... If you liked the book then you'll like the movie, period. They give us as the fans what we want and how we want it. The casting in this movie is superb, Stanley Tucci, Lenny Kravitz, Woody Harrelson, and Elizabeth Banks are all great in their roles.
Ross did a great job establishing the post-apocalyptic world that is Panem from slums of District 12 to the wonder of The Capitol. Its odd for me to comment on this but the costume staff did a wonderful job bringing to life the caricatures that are the inhabitants of the Capitol. While out there they still manage to belong to the world somehow and not become distracting which is an accomplishment in itself given how they all look.
All in all they did a wonderful job bringing to life the world of Panem and have established a franchise that is sure to rake in the dough. But more importantly they did the books justice and have given us a quality movie.
To sum up this movie in a single sentence would be... This is a Martin Scorsese love letter to old school cinema. While I was certainly strung along thinking this would be a movie about magic instead its about the very real magic of the imagination. Scorsese shows a great respect for his craft in this movie and instead of relying on cheap 3D thrills he uses your imagination to further the sense of wonderment in the movie. The set design in this movie is absolutely fantastic and it always adds to that imaginative world it weaves but all the while staying very real. If you love movies and I mean LOVE movies then I strongly suggest you give this movie a watch. If not make sure your imagination is firing on all cylinders as this movie plays largely off of your own imagination.
I was hooked mainly for the cast, I mean its Denzel Washington and Ryan Reynolds. Albeit I was more excited for the former rather than the latter he's still a respectable actor.
Any ways this movie could have been better, its practically carried by its powerhouse cast other than that the plot is cliched, poorly paced, and quite frankly boring. They could have easily trimmed thirty minutes off of this movie and it would have benefited greatly from just that alone. The twist at the end could be seen from a mile away and that's not even due to poor writing giving it away, instead its due to the fact the writers made sure to be extra cliche (quite frankly I'm not sure which offence would be worse). The camera style tries to emulate the "Bourne" style and instead of doing so they made the movie's action scenes incoherent and headache inducing. I'm not exaggerating on that last part either as I actually developed a headache trying to force myself to watch the action scenes which quite frankly weren't that exciting to begin with. Usually I give a pass to movies that require you to turn off your brain and just enjoy but the assault on the senses that this movie provided was enough to overcome the fact I was watching Denzel do his thing and Reynolds doing his best to keep up. Pass on this movie unless you're a die hard Denzel fan, have some Tylenol on hand, and are in an extra brain turned off mood.
Wow, what a terrifically acted, tense, and fantastic movie. If you can follow the plethora of conspiracies and backstabbing you will be treated to a fantastic movie experience. This movie follows the LAPD and the recent string of events that have culminated in the brutal shooting of a diner. Three police officers all investigate the same scene of the crime but unravel more than they bargained for as they go about the case in their own way. The cast here is top notch from top to bottom. I'd have to say this is probably the best of the police detective genre that I've ever seen. Give this movie a watch, you will not regret it.
I'll just say straight up that this movie isn't as good as the first as it lacks the humanity that made the first so powerful. It follows in the same line as its not a scary movie, but its a legit zombie movie in spite of that fact. Although one glaring plot hole aside this movie is still enjoyable as it follows the usual sequel formula such that there's more action.
This is basically China's answer to Sherlock Holmes except when you put this kind of talent on screen, combine it with a guy like Sammo Hung behind the martial arts choreography, and throw in some great cinematography and you have yourself a legit movie that stands on its own. Absolutely loved the blend of fantasy and steampunk into a period Chinese movie... it sounds weird but once you watch the movie it just works.
Brad Bird makes the transition from animation to live action seamlessly and handles this movie like a true fan of the espionage genre. This movie is a love letter to all things spy and forgoes all the frills of a debacle like MI:2, and some of the ridiculousness of MI:3 that we were all willing to overlook because it felt more like the beloved original.
There are no breakthroughs in plot here and if I was to critique it solely on plot this movie would probably falter. It's a simple plot, a nuclear extremist steals nuclear launch codes to seek global nuclear war and its up to Ethan Hunt and company to stop him. Nothing radical there right? But even if its a vastly worn out plot of many a James Bond movie and most other spy movies it works here because instead of focusing on plot, Bird does something that will keep you on the edge of your seat from beginning to end. Focus entirely on the set pieces, the character development, and the pacing.
This proves to be a brilliant move as I'll be another one to say that this is the best entry in the Mission Impossible franchise that keeps you on your toes throughout the entire movie. Go see this movie if you have any inkling of interest in spy movies.
This movie tries a little too hard to weave a captivating story line that it shows from beginning to end. There are far too many random plot points, unnecessary plot developments, and poor vain attempts at aloof characters. While it could be argued this movie would benefit from an animated version to play off on its overall movie immaturity I still think it couldn't work. The talents of Damon and Ledger are both squandered here and a lot of the portrayals of both the German and French characters are downright offensive and keep in mind this is even with someone like Jonathan Pryce and Peter Stormare helming some of the supporting cast. And for good measure they tried to appeal to the female audience by throwing in a random strong female character. But they messed that up too as she unfortunately falls into the cliche as a damsel in distress role; as a result end her character is uneven and yet another unnecessary tangent this movie takes.
If this movie was maybe half an hour or so shorter focusing on the main story line, didn't bother with all these caricatures, and didn't try so hard to make an enchanted atmosphere I might have enjoyed it... instead I feel underwhelmed and a little insulted.
The new Harold and Kumar movie definitely has its moments where you're either going... "What the heck is going on?" to just laughing at the lunacy you're witnessing on-screen. However amusing though I felt the movie as a whole was lacking... I definitely preferred the antics of the original movie and felt this one tried too hard to put in a Christmas message even though the night was filled with debauchery which goes against all those Christmas themes we were raised with. My favourite moments of the film are definitely when NPH hits the screen, the man just owns his moment. I won't say this movie is a must see and it will run on the expensive side as I do recommend seeing this in 3D as there are a lot of those 3D moments. But if you're a fan of the series, or you're looking for some cheap laughs then give this movie a watch.
I thought it was a pretty good horror movie, plenty of jump scares and lots of tension leading up to the creatures first attack. I thought the cast was well rounded out and the fact that the women fight back against the monsters to survive the trek to the other end of the cave takes away some of the scariness of the movie. Other than that its a very simple horror flick... basically take anyone's claustrophobia, fear of the dark, imagination, and throw some monsters in there to play off of it all with a group dynamic that creates tension. Simple, gorey in some scenes, and definitely some nail biting scenes. All in all a good horror movie.
Robert Redford? Sign me up. Can't believe I've never reviewed this movie but I absolutely love this movie.
It's made in the mold of a feel good prison tale that follows a 3 star general, Eugene Irwin (Robert Redford) who has abused his power of command and lost 8 men because of it. Due to this despite every plea of his friends and family he submits himself to the consequences of his actions and is court marshaled and incarcerated. He wants to simply serve his time to pay for his crimes and go home but he can't help but rise again to leadership after seeing how the warden, Colonel Winter, runs the facility.
Call me a sucker for prison movies, or movies dealing with honour and self sacrifice for a higher cause. But this movie is just awesome in all regards, I wouldn't say its better than Shawshank in the prison movie category but its certainly a good movie. And the closing scenes are quite entertaining. Great movie if you're in the mood for this sort of thing.
All you need to know about this movie that you don't already know is the HD conversion is good, the 3D is good, and they didn't put in the deleted song from the extras in. Other than that if you're a fan of the Lion King you'll get that same nostalgic feeling I got stepping into the theater and seeing it on the big screen again, surrounded by kids "Ooohhh-ing" and "Awe-ing" whenever the animals did something cool. My one negative? Not being able to sing along as loud as I could.
I find myself in an awkward situation here as I have just watched a dance movie that actually works as a movie. This movie does a lot of things right but we'll start with the negatives...
**UPDATE: I watched the original and rather than make two separate reviews I'm gonna combine them, if you don't care or haven't seen the original skip this part and read the latter review after the stars, otherwise just read this.
So I'll start this off by saying I'm a fan of most of the changes they made to the original movie. They clarified some things, made the Pastor more sympathetic, but they also had enough nods to the original that it kept the original draw while still modernizing the movie. We'll start off what I didn't like, first off... Kevin Bacon has loads more screen presence than Kenny Wormald. But I see the potential for Wormald to do more in the years to come. I liked the original's angry dance better because it was just awkward having Ren screaming at nobody. I also didn't like how they handled showing that Ariel was a troubled teenager... taking out the scene where she goes from one car to the next while both cars are in motion makes you think the train scene is beyond random.
What I liked about what they changed... they tidied up the script so that it makes sense, a lot of times in the 1984 version it just seems they skip parts of the thought process in order to tell a joke. The dancing in the remake has a lot of the same choreography but is improved in all the right ways, outside of just making it more flashy for today's audience. There was a lot of nods to the original that I appreciated, from the costumes, to his car, to the music even; you could definitely tell there was a lot of respect towards to the original. Also the handling of the town politics was MUCH better in the remake as in the original Kevin Bacon didn't really make much of a case but rather just read some bible verses with the word dance in it. Although I guess back then it was just arguing about the expression of ones self whereas with today's movie you could take the argument beyond the dance of it and say its a liberty vs safety argument of today's post 9/11 age. Another thing I liked was the opening, it was much more visceral and gave credibility to the town's response to banning dance, booze, and inappropriate music. And while I have a lot of respect for John Lithgow, I think Dennis Quaid gave a much more sympathetic performance as the preacher. On that note they also defined the tenuous relationship between Ariel and her father much better in the remake. And lastly... they gave Ren a much better back story in the remake which makes you want to root for him and not just because he's Kevin Bacon and he wants to dance.
Bottom line, I prefer the remake to the original. Good job Hollywood you didn't just make another cash cow dance movie.**
The angry dance was just weird, I get that he's venting but it seemed a little... awkward. Also the suicidal tendencies of the preachers daughter was a little off putting but I guess it was just to emphasize the fact that her outwardly demeanor was a facade, one that she was starting to become tired of. But the one major fault I can find is that there wasn't enough dancing. Although given that its banned throughout most of the movie its not that hard to fault the movie in that regard.
As for the positives about this movie, it has a plot that actually makes sense and goes with the theme of the movie, which instead of just dancing cause you can dance, its about the process of growing up. And while the actors portraying Ren (Kenny Wormald) and Ariel (Julianne Hough) can certainly dance, but their screen presence is lacking for most of the movie... at least when they aren't dancing. But given that these are essentially their first leading roles I'm willing to look past that because they both showed real potential here. I was pretty impressed that Julianna could keep up with Quaid and Andie MacDowell. The man who stole the show was none other than Willard (Miles Teller), the goofy friend of Ren. He's just so awesome and when you watch the movie you'll agree as well.
Great movie but if you want a pure dancing movie stick with something like the Step Up franchise. But if you want a good movie accompanied by some slick dancing, look no further than this remake of the 1984 classic which I will certainly be giving a view in the near future.
Normally you wouldn't think of cancer as a laughing matter but this movie strikes that perfect balance between humour and drama. This is a movie about relationships and the strain that they come under when Adam (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is diagnosed with a rare form of cancer and finds he has a 50% chance of survival. His entire world is turned upside down as he fights and comes to terms with the disease with some hilarious results. Although as mentioned the movie does have its dramatic elements and this is where the movie shines. Levitt and Rogan play well off of each other and while I've never been a big fan of Seth Rogan he definitely compliments Levitt's often stoic character. Great movie and I highly recommend you see it.
Best movie I've seen this year, almost no question. It's described as a movie that blends arthouse imagery with action and it is amazing.
Upon reading the background of the movie I have so much more respect for Ryan Gosling. I've always thought of him as a good actor with a pretty face but turns out he was the man who chose the director, Nicolas Winding Refn, the man behind Bronson. He also had the want to do an action movie but found they focused more on the stunts rather than the characters. The only reason he decided to become attached to this role was because the characters were so strong.
Don't go into this movie thinking you're going to see another rendition of The Transporter. Although don't go in thinking this is just another low budget independent movie with no action... there's plenty of action to be had but not of the mindless kind. This movie uses minimal dialogue and instead relies on its powerful imagery and visceral effects to say everything it needs to. Normally I would say this is too artsy fartsy for the general public but I loved the lasting effect it gave to each scene. The one scene I especially enjoyed was the elevator scene, the juxtaposition in it is absolutely amazing.
In short, watch this movie. Easily my favourite Ryan Gosling movie of all time and up there for the best movie I've seen this year, so far anyways.