Movie Mania Part 1

Sorry for the 2 month hiatus, been sorting things out offline and online. As such, I’m back with some movie reviews and a little news. I’ll be posting more videos, primarily of gameplay and streaming more on my twitch channel and maybe hitbox. I also had worked for a bit, so I picked up a PS4, so expect a game review or two. Also, I’m splitting these reviews in two, just because there’s 18 movies on this list I want to cover.

As expected with that many movies, they all are very different, so here we go.

Birdman

I loved this movie, granted I am a Michael Keaton fan, but as mentioned in the Robocop 2014 review, I don’t always enjoy the movies he’s in. This is one of the good ones, go see this movie, either rent it or Netflix it. It is worth the watch, Keaton probably should have won the oscar this year, but I can see the others were deserving as well. From start to finish, this movie is complex, dealing with the inner workings of a man torn between what the actors and critics tell him what to do, and what he wants to do. The war between the artistic and intellectual vs the fun and exciting. With an excellent cast, awesome score and fantastic camera work, making the movie with as minimal of cuts as possible. Go see this movie.

The Lego Movie

This movie is great, from the music, the animation, the voice acting and double performances from Will Ferrell, this movie is awesome for both kids and adults. It brings out that creativity and imagination from our childhoods, of picking up those plastic blocks and putting them together in ways the kits didn’t show. I usually would build robots and cars and various things out of Lego. This movie celebrates what its like to be a kid and use their imagination to bring worlds to life. This is a movie worth watching for everyone.

Kill The Messenger

Based on the true story of reporter Gary Webb, as he uncovers reports from various sources into the secret mission of the CIA with rebels in Nicaragua, where the CIA knowingly took drugs and money from the rebels in exchange for weapons to fight their own government. Then turning around and using a middle man to work with drug dealers in various locations in the US to sell to the people. This movie may have been criticized as loosening on the facts in favor of adding Dramatic Tension. So far they haven’t given meaning to their statements. The movie is worth the watch to those that enjoy drama on the screen. With a star-studded cast, delivering great performances across the board. Jeremy Renner gives an awesome performance on-screen. Sure, He maybe Hawkeye in Marvel’s movies, but this is the kind of movie that shows off Renner’s talents as an actor.

The Hobbit: Battle Of The Five Armies

The movie I saw over the holidays, man was it rough. It’s good, but not as good as the previous two. From the start, this book should have been one, three-hour movie, or two of them, but not three. A lot of the scenes feel like filler, even more so than the first movie. They tried to go big with the action in this movie, like they did with Return Of The King. However, it feels like they were banking on the scene to be more epic. It feels like they tried building it too much. A lot of the choices made feel like rehashing of elements from the Lord Of the Rings trilogy. I may actually check out some of the fan edits that cut the fat of the movies, and maybe I’ll enjoy them better. This one just doesn’t deliver, and I can see why. It just didn’t need to be tree movies. There just wasn’t enough meat on the bone to warrant it. Considering its a short novel to begin with.

Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit

A great action movie, even though its source material is of Jack Ryan Jr. As all the previous Tom Clancy movies, featuring Jack Ryan, are all Jack Sr. This one, being based on Jr’s source material, but being given to Sr, is meh in concept, but in practice, turned out pretty well. Chris Pine and Keira Knightley work out great in the movie, along with Kenneth Branagh as the villain. Good popcorn action flick for those that are fans of the Tom Clancy novels and movies. Although the origin story should have been Jr’s instead of Sr’s. I thought Sr’s origin being told in The Sum Of All Fears worked out better in that regard. Although this one works as a standalone. Definitely worth a watch on Netflix or rental.

John Wick

Keanu Reeves is back in the action movie scene with a lot of his crew member friends from the Matrix movies. As the special effects and choreography teams come back to make a hell of a movie. The cast is awesome in the movie too, . including Daniel Bernhardt and Randall Duk Kim, whom had supporting roles in the Matrix Sequels (Bernhardt was the Upgraded Agent that Morpheus fought on the semi truck and Randall Duk Kim was the Keymaker). We also have quite a few guest stars of various TV shows, including Lance Reddick of Fringe, Adrianne Palicki of Agents Of Shield, Bridget Regan of Agent Carter, and Alfie Allen of Game Of Thrones. The movie is a great action movie, with complex and great fight choreography and gun play. Keanu Reeves is a bad ass in this movie, granted the catalyst for his character’s revenge is a bit odd. Although I understand the meaning behind it, some may not. Still a good movie to watch.

Into The Woods

Yes, I watched a musical, even though I’m not always a fan of them. I was curious, as it was a rental my mom wanted to see, so we watched it with my dad over dinner. Although I think he may have passed out watching it. The movie feels a bit too long, and the intertwining storylines work up until a point. The whole giant revenge plot could have been cut from the movie and it would have worked out just as well. Granted it is based on a stage musical, I don’t know if it worked out as an adaptation. Meryl Streep, while a fantastic actress, really felt to me as if she was intentionally hamming up her singing voice for the sake of “Why am I in this Disney movie?” If you like musicals, you can probably watch it and enjoy it. Its something to turn your brain off to as not much thought is needed to watch, much less enjoy this movie. I just didn’t care for it in the end.

Foxcatcher

Definitely worth a watch, if you’re into true stories. Involving wrestler Mark Schultz, (not the stylized wrestling one sees on tv, the sport that is performed at the olympics). It details Mark and his brother, David’s story of meeting with Team Foxcatcher coach, Jon du Pont and working with du Pont, while trying to get into the next olympics and just after. Steve Carrell as John du Pont is chilling, between the effects make up and his performance, makes it scary. As you see a man who wants to be a coach for wrestling, while not knowing very much about it, go from attaining his dream, to fear of losing it. With great performances by Mark Ruffalo and Channing Tatum, this movie is worth the watch.

A Walk Among The Tombstones

Adapting from the book of the same name by Lawrence Block, tells the tale of private investigator Matthew Scudder (Liam Neeson), as he uncovers the truth behind the kidnapping and death of a drug dealer’s wife. It’s a good movie, a nice crime drama to watch. Neeson does good work being the investigator, with a good blend of action and drama. Worth a rent or Netflix watch. Interesting choice for music in the credits, a cover of Sound Garden’s Black Hole Sun. Although not the best cover, but I get what they were going for with a soft piano tune.

with that I’ll wrap this up for now, stay tuned for tomorrow. I’ll post the second half tomorrow

Robocop 2014… Yep, it’s time.

Robocop_2014_poster_003

So, I managed to watch the remake this afternoon. Being an avid fan of the first two movies from the 80’s and the subsequent TV series and the mini series developed in Canada. So I’ve seen the entire run. I may like and even love the timeline in place, despite the events of 3, and the pacification of Robocop in the 90’s TV series. The mini series I love, despite the improbabilities of the hackers in it. Well, now that I’ve established I know the source material, at least in terms of what we’ve been shown over the years.

With the remake, they try to go into new territory, while at the same time, following the old continuity as an example. I even like some of the ideas and concepts brought up, and over the movie isn’t horrid. Although some of the new actors are kind of painful to have on-screen. Thankfully, the main actor playing Murphy/Robocop, isn’t entirely devoid of acting skill. He maybe still relatively new, but he has some skill.

Unlike the actress playing his wife or the actor playing his son. I’ll give the kid a pass, since he’s a kid and he’s still learning. Her on the other hand, it’s her inability to convince us as the audience that she is suffering, and showing some strength. The only time we see her give a damn, is right after (Spoiler) her husband is left in critical condition from a car explosion. Where she is barely in the room, when they tell her that he either will die on life support, or be turned into a cyborg to live.

This is one of the odd concepts they try to bring in, which is “How do we make a cyborg in a family setting, work with the situation?” Although as we see in the movie, they don’t even give it a chance. They give him a few minutes with his family, before he goes to be put to sleep for the night, and readied for his big reveal later on. The best acting in the movie comes from every one else, which is kind of sad if you think about it.

I personally would’ve rather had an ok ensemble cast, with an insanely brilliant lead actor. As he could carry the movie, the original had this. We had a bunch of up and coming actors as the ensemble, and we had a relatively unknown, but still very good actor in the form of Peter Weller in the original. He carried that movie, not to mention the writing helped. In this, they tried to help with the writing, unfortunately, the editing and the combination of so many concepts introduced, is where things are going awry.

We have two opposing arguments in the movie, that they put in there from both the original movie and today. Can we trust our lives to a machine? The original movie brought it to light how our lives could be controlled by corporations. It hit the core of that idea right on the head, since we kind of do live in a world dominated by corporations.

In this one, the corporation takes a back seat, and its all politics, and news coverage. Then we have the corporation wanting Robocop to be more drone-like, like the original. Before, it was a push of the button at a computer, reprogramming him. Wiping his memory and making him totally autonomous, or so they believed.

Here we see another problem with the movie, the corporation still wants him to be autonomous and machine, but the people and the politicians want him human. Where the old movie had governments as on the side of the corporation and needing a new way to handle the grueling times. This one, they say that, but we have no evidence that crime is really that bad. Aside from the one criminal character that is making weapons deals from stolen police evidence lockup.

Aside from that, which is more of a federal issue, and not a local law enforcement problem. It’s a matter of justifying the use of a robot in an urban setting. They just don’t show enough justification for having him out there in the first place. So it makes their whole argument pointless. So putting aside logic, in the sense that it is a movie.

Moving on to music, its solid and it gives us dramatic tension, while paying homage to the old movie’s theme song. Which is nice, since I enjoy the old music. Special effects are pretty solid, and very little CG is over used. At least to me, I’m sure there were several key action sequences where the CG was present, but its mixed so well with the practical, that its hard to notice. Only once fight scene showed a CG robocop that was obvious to the naked eye, that was over the top. It happens, even in the old movies they used miniatures for the big fight scenes. As it would’ve killed Peter Weller from being jostled around so much.

My only big issue with the movie, is that it tried to be too much like the original in the end. After a while, the film seems to realize that “Oh shit, we’re nearing the 2 hour mark, and we haven’t resolved anything. So the pace quickens and they mash in the last half of the original movie into the ending, by having one sequence of Robocop going against the corporation and having a crap ton more of the references from the old movie put in, with Lewis helping him escape.

Since I bring Lewis up, let’s discuss how the filmmakers decided to take the Sarge from the old movies and merge him with Lewis. No, I’m not kidding. Lewis is now a black man, instead of being a tough as nails woman. Not to mention giving him very little to do, but be there for cannon fodder.

Then there’s the police chief, cool on them for making her a woman. It’s common practise now to see a woman in a command role. Unfortunately, she’s just there to serve as a lynch pin in the movie. Nothing hugely important to being a woman in a commanding role, she’s just there to be a bureaucrat that is hiding something.

The villains in the movie, are set up to be the man whom killed Murphy. Then the movie resolves that storyline (Oops, it’s not who we think it is). Even though its more likely that he was, since the movie sets it up that way. Then the movie does that divide from being cool, modern and different to being like the original and says “Nope, he’s not the villain, Michael Keaton is.” With no justification or reason established.

I knew it was coming, since the movie was rehashing the important bits from the Original. I was onboard for most of the movie, until that divide from the murder investigation plot turns into the old plot. The thing is, in the old movie it worked better because we had set up. We have key dialogue sequences between executives talking about how they shifted police forces to have “Ideal candidates” placed in high risk situations to get what they wanted.

We knew that OCP was the bad guy in that movie. This one, we have none of it, we get everything set up to just be about Murphy’s murder and that the major criminal element in the city is his villain. I would’ve accepted that storyline as the main plot, more than them trying to pay homage to the old movie. They could’ve left the Homage to a possible sequel, and made the corporation the bad guy in that one. At least then it would’ve made more sense.

Oh, Samuel L. Jackson is in the movie. Yep, He’s black Bill O’Reilly. I kid you not, I knew that going into the movie. I saw the trailers, and his tie raid at the end of the movie felt so out-of-place, but so in character for the way he’d been playing it. The only reason he was even in that role, was to have that patented “Sam Jackson” badassery on-screen for that small bit. It just doesn’t fit with the theme of “This is the future.” With Samuel L. Jackson’s bits in the movie, that’s the present, technically.

Why do we need to be reminded of Bill O’Reilly if you’re trying to use story about the future, to illustrate how the future is progressing. Is that something to help us relate to the story. Instead of using Murphy’s Humanity like the original does? If so, you failed on that, haha.

I was planning on hating this movie, going into it. As I’d seen reviews for it, some liked it, some hated it. Me being a huge fan of the old continuity, was ready to hate it. Since modern hollywood is nothing but remakes, and small indie films that are pretty good. This is just Meh, it has moments, but overall needs to be spread out more. Hell I could see this movie’s concepts being done in a mini series and it doing better. Give it to HBO and it would be the next Game Of Thrones. I’m not kidding. If they gave it to HBO and turned it into a mini series, it would be awesome.

It’s not horrible, just it needs work. If they want to salvage it I mean. I liked some of the characters, like Gary Oldman’s character, Dr. Norton. I even liked Jackie Earle Haley’s character Mattox. They were the strongest actors in the movie, and it showed.

Even Michael Keaton, enjoyed what he was doing. Even though his character was a bit annoying at times. I consider that more of an intentional thing. Not to mention, Jay Baruchel playing the jittery, marketing guy was good. So the movie has some positives, it just needed to be fleshed out in the ending, and push the corporate enemy story to a possible sequel.

Final thoughts, if you’re curious or an action movie buff, you’ll probably like this movie. You can probably rent it or watch it on Netflix. I just happened to get a DVD copy to watch. It has issues, although it could’ve been avoided or resolved differently. It is not as good as the original, nor is it as brutal. With that, I’ll sign off. I was not hoping for much in this movie, but it was ok. I’ll see you guys on the next one.