‘War Horse’ Review: This Horse Needs to be Put Down

•January 12, 2012 • Leave a Comment

The complete lack of human connection makes 'War Horse' a disaster.

Saving Private Ryan remains arguably the best war movie of all time. It is truly amazing that a disaster as catastrophic as War Horse can come from the same director of that spectacular film. Spielberg’s latest foray into history is an absolute mess. The characters are weak, the story is utterly ridiculous, and the film runs way too long.

For this review I feel it is necessary to get what positives there are out of the way right in the beginning before delving into the overwhelming terribleness. There are two things that War Horse has going for it. The first is John Williams’ enthralling score. The second is the gorgeous cinematography which is as sweeping and epic as it is intimate. It would serve as a perfect window into any story. Combined with the score, these two aspects of the film create a technically stunning experience that only a handful of other films this year have matched.

Too bad every other aspect of War Horse fails to engage. The story starts out fine enough with the birth of Joey, the main horse hero of the film. Joey is raised by Albert (Jeremy Irvine) but when World War I breaks out across Europe, Joey is sold to the army for the troops to ride into battle on. Then the film shifts its focus from Albert to army captain Nicholls (Tom Hiddleston). Then when the horse leaves his possession, the focus shifts again, and then again. There are two fundamental problems with this style of storytelling. The first is that there is no true human main character, and that leads to the second problem, Spielberg’s intention is for the horse to be the main character.

Most films about animals feature a main human character, usually a young boy, who has a special connection to an animal. War Horse attempts this but when the majority of the film sees the supposed main character off screen we are left with a horse, and horses are not human and therefore will not connect with audiences the same way a human would. Picture Free Willy without the kid connecting to the whale, there is just no reason to care anymore. This is why War Horse is the failure that it is. One might argue that my argument is outdone by this year’s outstanding Rise of the Planet of the Apes, but there is one big difference, a human used motion capture to play the ape, therefore transferring human emotion to an animal. Here we have a horse who just keeps finding himself in sticky situations. By the time any genuine human connection can be seen, two hours have been wasted getting us there.

The performances in War Horse are nothing to write home about, but not bad either. Spielberg seems to be begging his actors for all the emotion they can bear, which makes most of the intense close-ups feel incredibly forced. This might also have to do with the fact that they are playing off of a horse a lot of the time.

The quality of film that used to be associated with the name Spielberg is quickly slipping. This is failed experiment of storytelling on the screen. It simply just does not work having a horse as the main character of a live action drama. If you really need to see some quality animal acting this awards’ season go see Uggie the dog in The Artist. (*1/2 out of 4)

photo credit: http://collider.com/war-horse-movie-image/80052/

Sony Moving Forward With ‘The Girl Who Played With Fire’

•January 11, 2012 • Leave a Comment

Despite what some have considered a commercial failure for David Fincher’s adaptation of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, Sony is reportedly ready to move forward with the sequel, The Girl Who Played With Fire.

Steve Zaillan has apparently already completed the screenplay and Daniel Craig and Rooney Mara (YES!) are contracted to return not only for Fire, but also the third in the trilogy, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest. Some reports even suggest that the sequels may film back to back, the argument being that they are one giant story split in two anyway, which I happen to agree with. The only variable here is whether David Fincher will return to direct.

To be honest, my guess is that he won’t. David Fincher is an innovative director and I doubt that he will want to make a film that doesn’t necessarily challenge him. His biggest challenge for Dragon Tattoo was Rooney Mara and I think everyone can agree that they both knocked it out of the park.

Even if Fincher doesn’t return, I doubt Sony will hire an untrustworthy director for this difficult material. As for casting, does anyone else think that Bryan Cranston would be perfect as Zalachenko? Or perhaps Mickey Rourke? Do you even want to see more of Lisbeth Salander? I mean, how could you not, but if you don’t you are not permitted to visit my blog anymore. Sound off on your ideas for the sequel in the comment’s section!

original source: http://wegotthiscovered.com/movies/girl-played-fire-track/

photo credit: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/girl-who-played-with-fire-stieg-larsson/1100160513

‘Star Wars: The Clone Wars – Escape from Kadavo’ Review

•January 7, 2012 • Leave a Comment

Star Wars: The Clone Wars struck back in the new year with the conclusion of the three-part slavery storyline that we had seen just over a month ago. Escape from Kadavo was an exciting episode but failed to be as thought provoking as its predecessor, Slaves of the Republic.

It started with Anakin and Ahsoka being forced to be slaves for Zygerrian Queen. Count Dooku’s arrival on the slave trading capitol of the galaxy had the queen fighting for her own freedom from the Sith lord. R2-D2 managed to rescue Anakin and then the two went on and freed Ahsoka. I must commend this series for continually finding creative ways to give R2-D2 personality. The confrontation between Anakin and Dooku was brief but satisfying, showing yet again just how ruthless the Count can be.

After their escape it was time to free Obi Wan and Rex. Watching Obi Wan crack in this slave environment was actually pretty disturbing. I have to admit the Queen’s speech of how she planned to break him was rather scary, largely because it was true.

However the highlight of the episode was the exciting end battle that ended up involving a lot more than just our main characters. That means lots and lots of clones, not to mention Jedi master Plo Koon. The air battle was fantastic. A smaller moment I have to mention is Ahsoka’s reaction to Anakin ruthlessly cutting down the guards. Whether it is this season, or next season, or even the series finale a conflict between master and apprentice is being very carefully built to.

The best part of this action sequence though was Obi Wan and Rex’s revolt against their former masters. Rex had several moments in this fight that were jaw dropping. In some ways, he is becoming a Han Solo type character to counterbalance the Jedi.

Even though Escape from Kadavo did not comment on slavery quite as intellectually as the last episode did, it was certainly a great conclusion to yet another solid story arc from season four. This is shaping up to be the best season yet. (8.5/10)

photo credit: http://www.daemonstv.com/2012/01/06/star-wars-the-clone-wars-escape-from-kadavo-season-4-episode-13/

‘Modern Family: Lifetime Supply’ Review

•January 5, 2012 • 1 Comment

The third season of Modern Family has been good, but not great so far. Everything that came last fall just seemed a little bit like it was on autopilot, it got the job done but did nothing extraordinary. The show returned in the new year with an episode that improved on some areas but worsened in others.

Lifetime Supply simply was not as funny as we have come to expect from the show, however the storylines were much more focused then we have been seeing lately. Instead of the usual four plots crammed into twenty minutes, tonight we got three, one from each household, that brought everyone together in the end. This was the exact type of focus the show has been lacking, too bad the humor tonight was really off.

This episode had so much potential to have a classic Phil plot, but it simply did not deliver. The idea that he would freak out waiting for a call from the doctor is a good one but I feel like the opportunity was missed as we occasionally only got a few quick one liners regarding the matter.

Mitch and Cam were another dud tonight. They’re constant bickering is getting old two and a half seasons in. You would think that Lily now being able to talk would inject some new humor into their storylines, but that appears to be another opportunity the writers are missing. This week’s argument was just boring and had no life to it. Mitch was acting like a fourteen year old girl, just like he said, but that does not lead to instant laughs.

The only redeemable plot this week was Jay competing with Manny’s biological father (Benjamin Bratt) at the horse racing track. Bratt once again was hysterical and his chemistry with Jay is perfect. It all led to a coming together of all three plots when Phil’s doctor calls back. He just wanted real estate information. Cop out? Yeah, definitely.

Modern Family still knows how to construct a decent half hour of television but there is certainly a noticeable decline in quality from last season. Lifetime Supply might just be the worst one this season due to the lack of laughs, a big problem for any comedy. (7/10)

photo credit: http://www.tv.com/shows/modern-family/photos/image-627/

 

The Top 10 Movies of 2011!

•December 30, 2011 • 1 Comment

2011 is wrapping up folks! That means it is time to reflect on what the best movies of the year were. I must say that I enjoyed my time at the movies this year. Sure, a lot of terrible movies came out this year, but they were obvious. If the previews looked bad then the movie was bad (notable exception: Rise of the Planet of the Apes). But everything that had potential was at least respectable. The year opened slowly as they usually do and got a bit more exciting once summer hit. The season of sequels and special effects delivered enough spectacle to warrant all the money I spent. The fall had some nice highlights and the holidays really delivered as usual. I will say however, that the pure awards movies were easier to pick out last year than this year. But enough babbling here is mu top ten for the year. I will say though that as a college student I am on a limited budget and missed a few that other critics have cited as the year’s best. These include Moneyball, War Horse, and Mission: Impossible 4.

 

10. Beginners-

Movies tend to reflect our culture more than most people realize. The fight for LGBT rights made some serious headway in 2011. Beginners reflects that fact as its plot revolves around an elderly gay man, played by Christopher Plummer, who comes out once his wife dies to explore another side of his life. Plummer’s performance is one of the best of the year but the film also features solid work from Ewan McGregor and Melanie Laurent. The film ends up being a very intimate meditation on loneliness that penetrates the saddest aspects of our lives. Beginners shows us that everyone feels lonely sometimes but if we embrace who we are we can find great companions to help us through the tough times in our lives.

 

9. The Descendants-

Here is a film that should only appeal to a certain crowd but ends up having something for everyone. This is because of the fantastic performances by the entire cast and perhaps even the gorgeous on location sets in Hawaii. Speaking of the performances, George Clooney is fantastic but you know who is better? Shailene Woodley, who plays his daughter. Woodley’s character feels incredibly real and will remind every viewer, no matter what age, of a daughter, sister, or even themselves. Beyond that, what The Descendants asks of its audience is to see a family in an incredibly difficult moral situation and see how even in the darkness they push through and see the paradise they have in their own homes.

 

8. Melancholia-

There were to films this year that were ambitiously abstract while harshly intimate. Terrence Malick’s The Tree of Life lacked focus where Lars von Trier’s Melancholia did not try to directly mesh these two wildly different styles of filmmaking. The first half of Melancholia is a wedding gone horribly wrong. The second half is the end of the world. Kirsten Dunst gives the performance of her career as the haunted bride and sister. Filmed with such beauty, this film will leave many moviegoers scratching their heads of what it all means. I am not going to pretend to know every bit, but I will say that I liked how I felt after watching it. This is one of those films that you simply must experience yourself.

 

7. 50/50-

In my Fall Movie Preview I listed this film as what I thought would be the top movie of September and quite possibly the best movie of the year. Usually when I make bold claims like this I am way off, but having seen only six better films this year my hat goes off to, well, myself for calling this one. This movie combined comedy and drama flawlessly. There was never a moment where I felt as if my emotions were being jerked around. Comedy would flow effortlessly into heartbreaking drama and vice versa. Joseph Gordon-Levitt is becoming one of the most talented people in Hollywood and his experiences built perfectly to this film. I cried. I laughed. Sometimes I did both. That is what movies are all about.

 

6. Midnight in Paris-

Woody Allen is one of the most famous directors in the history of cinema, but as of late his films haven’t gone down as classics as often as they used to. 2011 changed that with this delightful film showcasing the beauty of Paris, the 1920s, and culture. The plot sees Owen Wilson channeling Woody Allen as the lead who is unsatisfied with the present. But he finds a link to the past at midnight that takes him back to the 1920s to meet such big names as F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway. The fun here is waiting to see who will pop up next. However, Allen does not shy away from the problems that come with excessive nostalgia. No matter what we will always see a time better than the now, so why waste the present?

 

5. Hugo-

Another legendary director who delivered in 2011 was Martin Scorsese. Hugo was devoid of the typical gangsters, foul language, and blood that Scorsese’s films usually include. No, this was a kid’s movie. It starred a little orphan boy trying to figure out a mystery that his father left behind after his death with a eerily human looking robot. But once the plot got moving, this kid’s movie turned into something really special. Scorsese injected his passion and love for cinema as the film turned into a celebration of movie history. This was a beautiful movie, that also featured the best 3D of the year. The sincerity on screen was incredibly real and heartfelt. It was just like dreaming during the day…

 

4. X-men: First Class-

I have said it before and I will say it again, I’m a sucker for superheroes. It is customary that every summer we get at least three movies starring men in tights. But in 2011, even though Thor and Captain America were good, it was the X-men who rose from the ashes and came back with their best movie yet after two awful sequels/prequels. Character development is a part of what makes every great superhero movie tick. First Class not only developed one hero but several. We see Xavier grow from a partying college student to the crippled leader of the X-men. We see Mystique grow from an insecure girl in hiding to a strong woman not afraid to show off the blue. We see Magneto go from a ruthless Nazi killer to a man who no longer relies on his anger. The performances were unforgettable as these vivid characters graced the screen better than ever.

 

3. The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo-

David Fincher proved once again that he is one of the best directors of modern cinema. When Columbia gained the rights to this Swedish bestseller, after seeing films like Se7en and Zodiac, they knew Fincher was the right man for the job. This dark story of sexism and murder was lifted to greatness with Fincher’s signature style. But the real star here is Rooney Mara, who plays one of the greatest, most fascinating characters in the last twenty years. Lisbeth Salander is truly unique and Mara gives an unforgettable performance that I hope and pray the Academy recognizes.

 

2. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2-

You knew it was coming. The only reason this magnificent film is not in the number one spot is that despite my personal love for it, it is far from perfect. But these flaws cannot take away from the fact that this franchise goes out with all the emotion and action of the seven that preceded it combined. The final film doesn’t waste any time getting started with a fantastic sequence involving a bank robbery and a dragon. Shortly after the battle begins. I dare you to try and hold back tears during the memories of Alan Rickman’s Snape. Same goes for the epilogue. This franchise will go down with Star Wars and Lord of the Rings as one of the best sagas ever brought to the screen.

 

1. The Artist-

Some movies are indisputably great. Last year The King’s Speech was the movie that everyone agreed was the most well made film of the year, but it didn’t really push the boundaries of cinema or try anything unexpected. This year we got The Artist, which takes us back to the silent era and successfully tells a great story without dialogue. The film never feels wrongly outdated, which is why it works. It is a timeless masterpiece that people from any generation will enjoy. Humor and emotion blend flawlessly here with two amazing performances by French actors Jean Dujardin and Berenice Bejo. No matter how the film speaks to you will leave the theater with a great big grin on your face.

 

Do you like my top ten films of 2011? To be honest I had a lot of trouble not including Rango but I think Beginners stuck with me more. Any other movies you would have liked to see on this list? Sound off in the comments’ section! Happy New Year!

 

photo credit: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1532503/

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2012 Movie Preview: My Top 10 Most Anticipated Movies

•December 29, 2011 • Leave a Comment

Before I reveal my top ten films of 2011, I figured it would be best to look at the films coming out next year that I expect to make next year’s list. The last couple weeks have given us a number of trailers that helped create this list, which I shall include below each movie on the list. One highly anticipated movie you won’t see on this list is The Amazing Spider-man. I found the trailer to be weak and too reminiscent of Sam Raimi’s original 2oo2 blockbuster. Other than that however, I am sure any movie fan would put together a similar list to this one.

 

10. The Hunger Games-

Major blockbusters are usually saved for the summer of the holidays, but in 2012 we will get an early treat with the adaptation of the bestselling novel. The story is epic and the cast is fantastic. Rising star Jennifer Lawrence is becoming the perfect young hero after two great performances in Winter’s Bone and X-men: First Class. The awesome trailer says it all, Hunger Games is going to be awesome. (Mar. 23)

 

 

9. Brave-

After the failure of Cars 2, Pixar needs a comeback, and this film should be a perfect way to get the acclaimed studio back on track. In their first non-sequel since Up, Pixar is turning to fairy tales to entrance kids in summer 2012. It also marks the first female hero for the studio. The trailer makes it seem like it could be Pixar’s darkest film yet. (Jun. 22)

 

 

8. Skyfall-

007 returns in 2012 with Daniel Craig reprising the role of James Bond. Sam Mendes is directing the twenty-third installment of this legendary series with new cast members including Ralph Fiennes, Helen McCrory, Javier Bardem, Albert Finney, and Naomie Harris. Also Ben Whishaw is coming on as a young Q. Skyfall has potential to be a fantastic addition to the franchise. (Nov. 9)

 

 

7. Les Miserables-

Sadly there is not trailer or poster yet for this new adaptation of the classic novel. Director of The King’s Speech, Tom Hooper is at the helm with a brilliant cast including Hugh Jackman, Anne Hathaway, Russel Crowe, Sacha Baron Cohen, and, the love of my life, Helena Bonham Carter. The film is also a musical, where the talents of Jackman and Hathaway will likely come in handy. (Dec. 7)

 

6. Gravity-

This is one to watch out for. I believe it has potential to be the best movie of the year, but with as little as even a still to work with, there is so little to go on but it has a lot going for it. Sandra Bullock and George Clooney star in this sci-fi film that is rumored to have revolutionary effects. It also supposedly features Bullock alone for a healthy portion of the film. But the kicker is that it is directed by Alfonso Cuaron, who also helmed the best sci-fi movie of the 2000s, Children of Men. (Nov. 21)

 

5. Prometheus-

The trailer released last week was incredibly interesting as it revealed almost nothing about the plot or characters. This is a film surrounded in mystery, but it is rumored that director Ridley Scott will be returning to the world of Alien. The supposed prequel stars Noomi Rapace, Michael Fassbender, Charlize Theron, Patrick Wilson, Idris Elba, and Guy Pearce. Should be a thought provoking summer flick. (Jun. 8)

 

 

4. Django Unchained-

Quentin Tarantino returns with a vengeance in 2012. The plot involves a former slave, current bounty hunter trying to save his wife from a plantation owner. Sound like Kill Bill meets Inglourious Basterds to me. The film stars Jaimie Foxx as the title character along with, Samuel L. Jackson, Christoph Waltz, Leonardo DiCaprio, Kurt Russell, Kerry Washington, Anthony LaPlagia, Sacha Baron Cohen, and Joseph Gordon-Levitt. (Dec. 25)

 

3. The Avengers-

I’m a sucker for superheroes, and this mega-blockbuster has so little of a chance of disappointing. Legendary comic book geek Joss Whedon is directing. Also it will put Iron Man, Thor, Captain America, and the Hulk finally in the same room. The first trailer was a little underwhelming (probably because I hate the corny song used at the end) but there is absolutely no way that this film will be bad. (May 4)

 

 

2. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey-

After sitting in development hell for a few years and trading directors before actually settling back with Peter Jackson, the adaptation of The Lord of the Rings prequel will finally hit theaters in 2012. The trailer released last week was perfect as it hit all the right notes of nostalgia and something new. A good number of the original trilogy’s cast is returning for this second go around in Middle Earth. (Dec. 14)

 

 

1. The Dark Knight Rises-

Could it really be anything else? Christopher Nolan and gang are returning to Gotham one last time to close out this already classic trilogy. You know the facts. Tom Hardy is Bane. Anne Hathaway is Catwoman. Marion Cotillard and Joseph Gordon-Levitt have vague roles. But the genius that we see coming from this movie’s marketing so far is that Batman really might not make it out alive. (Jul. 20)

 

 

 

Any movies I left off that you think might be better than any of these ten? Are you more excited for The Hobbit or Dark Knight Rises? Sound off in the comments’ section! Tomorrow look for my top ten films of 2011. Happy New Year!

 

photo credit: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1392170/

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‘Young Adult’ Review: Welcome Back to High School

•December 29, 2011 • 1 Comment

Charlize Theron will remind you of the people you hated in high school, for better or worse.

I am extremely lucky to have seen this film with someone I went to high school with as I feel the conversation walking out of the theater would have been significantly less entertaining if I saw it with anyone else. This is because the characters in the film are extremely rich and will remind everyone of people they spent those four glorious/dreadful years with. That is the magic of Young Adult, it will transport you back to those years whether you like it or not, and no matter how you remember high school this movie has something for you to relate to.

As for me, I remember girls like Charlize Theron’s character, and I laughed at them then and continue to laugh at them now. Theron is so committed to the role that the script demands that even though she fails to have us rooting for her we still understand her. You will hate this woman girl, and that is because of Theron’s dedication. She is wonderfully dark and emotionless, so much so that I began to roll my eyes at the silly high school drama taking place on screen. Her character is a writer of young adult novels which she reads to herself, in the form of voiceover, from time to time over the course of the film.

The rest of the cast feel pretty authentic as well. Patton Oswalt is particularly good as the obvious antithesis to Theron. Both of their characters have failed to grow up since graduation, yet they found themselves on opposing sides of the social spectrum beforehand. They work extremely well together as their unlikely friendship forms. Patrick Wilson is also pretty good as Theron’s old flame.

As for the plot, much like in high school, there really isn’t much of one, just annoying drama. Coming from director Jason Reitman, Young Adult works as an interesting companion piece to 2007′s Juno. Where the later saw teenagers showing more maturity than ever expected of them while they were still in high school, the former shows adults who failed to mature. Like Juno, Young Adult is sharply written with plenty of dark humor and genuine emotion.

But where Young Adult fails is consistency as it sort of makes up the rules as it goes along. Every time we think Theron’s character is about to learn something she pushes herself further towards full blown hatred by going against any form of moral code. Eventually it ends up being a coming of age story but should it be? No, probably not. It seems that the main character learns something in the end, but it also could just be another hiding spot from the grown up world. That veil should either have been opened completely or left untouched.

Young Adult will be interesting to those who remember high school in one specific way, but for those who know the many dimensions that make those four years so important in our growth, this film will offer little for them to ponder. (**1/2 out of 4)

photo credits: http://matmoviesdownload.webnode.com/news/download-young-adult-movie-full-hd-divx-dvd-quality/

 

 

 
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