Friday, July 29, 2011

Cowboys and Aliens

Movie: Cowboys and Aliens

I had really high expectations for this, considering the cast, director, and concept. Unfortunately, it doesn't live up to them. The problem is that it falls just a little short in almost every aspect of the film. For instance, the gritty cowboy world is wonderfully done with some terrific character setup, but then that's all abandoned as the film descends into a mere Us-versus-Them battle. The aliens are similar: kind of cool in some ways, but ultimately little more than random monsters (they are certainly not explained or personalized in any way). Even the action and special effects fall short. Throughout there are glimmers of greatness, but every time the film fails to deliver what it hints at or promises. It's entertaining, but not much more than that. The bottom line is we end up with a ton of wonderful potential wasted.


Friday, July 22, 2011

Captain America

Movie: Captain America

I had high hopes for this as the previews looked fantastic. But the opening scene had me worried as it was completely out of context and didn't make any sense. It turned out to make sense, but only once you knew what was going on. The filmmakers were being a bit too clever here. In my case, since there was no context or explanation, it put me in the wrong mood for the film. Thankfully, other things came along that were so good it almost eliminated that feeling, but every tiny mistake was exaggerated because of that awkward start. For instance, the worst thing about the film is the "magical" energy source the bad guy digs up in the Arctic: I found that ridiculous and silly and very comic booky. But my irritation with it came a lot from that rough beginning of the film which had me looking for flaws. All that said, once the film gets going (10-15 minutes in), it's quite wonderful. I loved the appropriately slow pacing of the initial story of our weakling hero transformed into muscular super-guy. That's my favorite part of the story and I had worried and expected the filmmakers would resolve that storyline in five short minutes. Instead, it's a major part of the film, and not only does that mean we actually get to know our hero as a person, but when he does transform it's far more believable and a bigger event. Though the film's action begins with that transformation, the pacing is still slow enough to be realistic, which I appreciated. I loved the way they had him come up with his "Captain America" name and costume; it's probably the most believable costume origin of any superhero ever. While the bulk of the film's plot centers around Captain America's origin, I liked that, for I found the Nazi super-villain storyline to stretch credibility so much that I wasn't interested (though the bad guy is deliciously performed by Hugo Weaving). The ending's slightly anti-climatic, but I also liked that, as it was appropriate. The very end of the film is really nice as it sets up everything for the inevitable sequel and does that brilliantly. I think they have a hit new series here.


Friday, July 15, 2011

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2

Movie: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2

I was somewhat against this movie being split in two, but I am glad they did in the sense that the story needed the length. It would have been awful chopped down to three hours. This one has a nice leisurely pace that's needed for some of the somber events that conclude the series and for sure that would have eliminated if they had tried to do the whole thing as a single film. (I still think this should have been released much closer to Part 1, though: by the time I saw this, I'd forgotten all about the first half.) As for commenting on this film, there are two ways to go: one can write about the film itself, or judge the story (which is judging the book). I'll do both. In terms of a film, this is very good. I liked a lot of the decisions made, such as minimizing the "war" and "battle" scenes (implying them or showing them in the background). I find such scenes tedious and boring and I had been dreading having to sit through long minutes of hordes of people and creatures battling. Though the film doesn't give you any sort of summary of the previous films and just continues right where the last one left off, you don't need to know much. The trio simply has a series of missions and sets out to accomplish them, with the inevitable final confrontation between Harry Potter and Voldemort the dramatic conclusion. Of course, people who didn't like the way the book ended will have similar problems with the film. But I still think it's a good ending and it works well for me.


Thursday, July 14, 2011

Horrible Bosses

Movie: Horrible Bosses

I love black comedies so this one about three idiots wanting to kill their bosses appealed to me, but the marketing gave it a raunchy comedy feel that worried me. I was pleased that though there are moments of that in the film, overall it's pretty tame in that regard (nothing as bad as The Hangover). It's quite funny and entertaining, and I loved the way everything resolved in the end.