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Movie review : X-Men First Class

[ No spoilers ]

Going into the theater this morning I had high expectations for X-Men First Class. It has an 88% at RottenTomatoes.com which is very high for a movie of this genre. But after seeing the movie I’m surprised that it’s not much, much, higher. In a word it was awesome. In two words it was f#*&ing awesome. Longtime fans and newcomers to the series will both love this movie.

One thing I was expecting was that the pacing would be a bit slow, especially in the beginning, since this movie has to introduce every single character from scratch. But that wasn’t the case. The character building is intermixed with action and humor throughout the movie instead of the typical examples where they do an hour and a half of character/plot introduction and then finish with 30 minutes of action. In fact the character building runs right up until the very end. Brilliantly done.

I’m not going to go into any details because I don’t want to give anything away but the story is very well done. The basic plot is quite simple to follow. They didn’t do anything stupid by making it unnecessarily complex. And in truth the real story is the character development. Not the historical events themselves.

Best of all the acting in the movie is superb. It’s hard to say which actor did the better job: James McAvoy as Charles Xavier or Michael Fassbender as Erik Lehnsherr. And not that they were the only ones who shined. There wasn’t a weak link in the cast.

Finally, if you have never seen another X-Men movie then you won’t be missing anything in this story aside from a few inside jokes.

And oh by the way, best cameo appearance ever. 🙂

Movie review : Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides

[ No Spoilers ]

Here’s what I think you should know if you’re trying to decide if you should go see Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides in the theater or wait for it on DVD.

If you only want to see the movie if they were able to recapture the magic of the first Pirates movie then don’t go see it. Pirates 4, actually this is Pirates 3 because I refuse to acknowledge that Pirates 2 even exists, isn’t nearly as good as the original.  But they did manage to recycled the magic of the first one well enough to be quite enjoyable.

Is Stranger Tides funny? Yes, the audience laughed a number of times. You’re mileage may vary.

Is Depp, Captain Jack Sparrow, as good as ever? I’m going to have to say no. I think Depp had a blast doing the first movie – which accounts for part of the magic. He was doing something new. Something daring. Now he’s just doing his same old Jack Sparrow routine. Which isn’t to say he isn’t awesome. He’s just not magically awesome.

Is it worth seeing in 3D? Well I saw it in 2D because 3D gives me a headache and it’s hard as hell to take notes during the movie with those glasses on. But I didn’t see anything in the movie that made me think, “Wow, I bet this would be really cool in 3D.” So I wouldn’t bother with the cost and hassle of seeing it in 3D – it’s a hassle to see anything in 3D because you must get to the theater early and get seats in the middle of the theater or the 3D effect is diminished. Or at least it seems to be to me.

What about the rest of the cast? I think the only other performance worth seeing is of course Geoffrey Rush as Barbossa. He of course is fantastic and gets plenty of screen time. Penélope Cruz is good as Angelica. Not great by any means. Ian McShane was a good Blackbeard. I think he did as good as he could with the role given to him.  Any shortcomings of his character should, I think,  be heaped upon the writers. I dunno, he just wasn’t blackbeardy enough.

Here’s what I think of the Pirate movies. The first one was magical for two reasons. First, no one expected it to be any good and secondly, and more importantly, it was playful action done in a unique way with great acting. It’s like riding a roller coaster and expecting it to be just another ride but instead they have done something entirely new and novel that is unexpectedly great. Other rides come along and add this new great thing but all they can do is the same great thing over and over with minor variations. Everyone finishes the ride thinking, “That was good but no one has managed to thrill me the way that first one did.”

I certainly don’t think we should consider all the other Pirate movies a failure just because the first one was so awesome – except as I said, the second movie was embarrassingly bad.

Pirates 4 has plenty of fun moments and it’s certainly long enough at 2 hours and 17 minutes. The editing/pacing is done pretty well. There are only a few times that the movie seems to drag a bit. I thought the whole mermaid scene that took up about 10 minutes was about 8 minutes too long – but it makes a great peetime. 🙂

 

Movie review : Thor

[ No Spoilers ]

You already know from the previews that Thor is a visual masterpiece. You won’t be disappointed in the FX. They did a fantastic job of building Asgard. It is epic . . . I mean EPIC. I’ll see this movie again on DVD just to see the beauty of it.

If you want your movies to be full of more than just great FX and action then you won’t be disappointed – much – in Thor. Without going into details the story is pretty well woven and delivered by a fine cast. The only nit I’ll pick is with the love story that develops between Thor and Jane – that can’t possibly be considered a spoiler, right? Everyone had to have seen that coming.

The relationships between all the characters are very well done and explored. Anthony Hopkins did a particularly outstanding job as Odin. But, and this is so often the case in action movies, they sort of gloss over the love affairs that develop. It feels like the writers/directors said, “Look, he’s amazing looking. She saved him, sorta. They shared a few laughs. So of course they’re in love. You can see that, right…right?”

Yeah, not so much. But whatever. Blah, blah, blah, they’re in love. Lets move on to more visuals and action.

Aside from the fine acting and amazing FX I have to say that Thor is a pretty funny movie. It’s actually funnier than a lot of comedies because comedies these days seem to have forgotten how to do comedy – but that’s another story/rant. Anyhow, there are numerous LOL moments in Thor for the whole audience. And it made getting peetimes very difficult. I hate it when I have a good peetime going and then they ruin it by throwing in a funny scene 3 minutes in. 🙂

What did you think of the movie? Am I right about the Thor/Jane relationship or did I miss something?

Asgard

Movie review : Bridesmaids

The bright side to hitting rock bottom is that there is only one way to go from there. The correct answer is up, unless your name is Annie and you have just become your best friends maid of honor.

As the story unfolds, we meet Annie, played by Kristin Wiig. Her life is in utter chaos. She has lost her business, lives with two terrible roommates, has a car that is falling apart and her love life stinks. On top of dealing with her own issues, she now has to plan her best friends wedding. She thinks she is up to the job but at every turn, things go horribly wrong. It all starts to go downhill for Annie when she meets Helen, one of Lillian’s bridesmaids. Helen seems to have it all, wealth, a fancy home, carefree lifestyle and always looks perfect. An instant rivalry forms between the two of them and it leads Annie to her breakdown. Wiig does an amazing job of portraying a neurotic person losing control over their life. I would go so far as to say, even better than Charlie Sheen has done. I spent the whole movie sitting there thinking, I want to just slap her silly. How can a person be such a basket case? This leads to my next thought. The acting was marvelous. The entire supporting cast was splendid.

Melissa McCarthy absolutely stole the show. Her character Megan was magical. Every line she had was so perfectly executed with humor and sincerity that I fell in love with her.

Rose Byrne, who played Helen did such a perfect job of playing the bitch that wasn’t trying to be a bitch that really was a bitch. Or is she? We discover that what we take at face value, isn’t always the case.

Officer Rhodes played by Chris O’Dowd, was also integral to this wonderful ensemble. His character, with his cute little accent and sweet smile had you wanting to meet a police officer and eat carrots on the hood of their cruiser, like Annie gets to do.

Rita and Becca (Wendi McLendon-Covey and Elle Kemper) are two of the other bridesmaids, their roles were smaller, but they proved quite funny.

Interestingly enough, Lillian, the bride, played by Maya Rudolph, didn’t seem to be such a perfectly developed character. I didn’t really feel for her. I couldn’t understand why she was having issues. She was getting it all, everything little girls dream of. The writers didn’t do so great with her role.

So as I sit here writing this review, I realize, I like it better today than I did yesterday. I was thinking back on some of the hilarious scenes and I’m actually laughing out loud. Again.

Bridesmaids is like a bottle of wine. it improves over time. I can admit that I’m as cheap as they come, but I will buy this on DVD when it comes out.

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