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Silver Linings Playbook

Posted by james on July 25, 2013

(post.rating: 8)

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I'd heard all the buzz before I knew anything about this movie. I finally got around to seeing it once things died down. I think I expected a heavy drama, lots of emotional conflict & fights, some tear jerking heart warming, and some indie-style bokeh shots. It's easy to skip this one in lieu of an easy action movie most of the time.

It did hit everything on that list, and yet I wasn't really prepared for how good this movie was. It's amazing. I can't say enough about it. It shows so much about the two leads; they're really what pulls this off. But then again, there are so many things right in this movie (overall plot, feel, dialog, characters, the slow pace, the (not quite) subtlety).

Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence - who knew. Cooper I'd seen in some comedies, I wouldn't have thought he could pull this off. He does. And Lawrence - I know she's done some serious roles (Winter's Bone) but I haven't seen them yet. I've mostly seen more action ones (Hunger Games, X-men). But this really cements both in my mind as amazing actors.

Good job guys.

A Good Day to Die Hard

Posted by james on July 20, 2013

(post.rating: 2)

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Ugh. This is just as awful as the reviews would have you believe, and worse.

The whole Die Hard series is pretty incredible. There's so much legacy here, and so many of the sequels have been really gripping & unique stories in their own merit, let alone taken as a series. There aren't many recurring characters besides the lead, but that doesn't matter.

The last one (number four, Live Free or Die Hard) had McClane's daughter in it. She did alright, wasn't that big a player, but I suppose he had to have someone to rescue (how many times can Bonnie Bedelia get stuck on a plane?).

This movie featured his son. In Russia. With lots of guns, action, helicoptors, etc. It's an absolute flop.

McClane is reduced to a grumpy old man with lame catchphrases ("I'm on vacation!"... does that get funnier after the 10th time?). The actions in this movie don't really make much sense. I think the "I'm going to shoot the heli down with a car" scene from the last movie was a bit more believable.

His son is completely lame and flat as a character.

At the end, what really happened? What was the point? Who knows. It's just an excuse to revive the franchise, put the character through a few more paces, and make yet another sequel (Die Harder? These names are getting a bit ridiculous).

The problem is that the plots and many scenes from previous movies are just so memorable; the icicle stabbing, plane hostage takeovers, heli-car shootout, falling off the Nakatomi tower in slow mo. This movie has... a heli shooting a building? I'm not sure. Nothing really stands out to me.

So, severely disappointed. They had some amazing movies, but this proves it's just become a cash cow. Movie goers will keep seeing these because of the name & mindless action. They don't need to do better.

Oz the Great and Powerful

Posted by james on July 15, 2013

(post.rating: 4)

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This one was a bit confusing. I feel like there was a lack of clear direction here, like a few different visions/directors were having input into what the feel of the movie was going to be.

First; I do like James Franco. But he really didn't pull this off. I think he's a bit too aloof to give this character the "scumbag with a heart of gold" the heart that would make us empathize more.

Same with Mila Kunis. I like her in other things (comedies like That 70's Show) and she wasn't bad in Book of Eli (if still a bit... un-emotive). But this one just fell flat. She's supposed to be the naive witch who falls for the protagonist, then gets her heart spurned and you get to see her descent into evil & corruption. But neither part is that convincing.

Just about all characters seem flat. You know where they were going, but they didn't quite get there.

The opening black & white section (the real world, pre-Oz) is confusing low-budget looking. My suspicion is that they were intentionally trying to mimic the old-fashion set look, as a throwback to the old movie. But maybe that's just hopeful thinking; really, it just looked like they ran out of budget and didn't know how to work a set.

I kept thinking I was watching Alice in Wonderland. But there weren't enough colors for that, and not *nearly* enough Johnny Depp. Which is a bit ironic, since he was one of the top picks before Franco for the lead. He would have done it, and well. But I think a more straight approach would have worked here. The other top pick was Robert Downey Jr. I think he would have been perfect for an Oz film, but probably not this one; it wouldn't have made the rest of the script & characters better.

It's too bad. The story & heritage of Oz is neat and magical, and this just falls flat. I wouldn't be very excited for any other sequels from the source material, unless it's a reboot. Plus, thanks to copyright issues this is based on a non-copyrighted book, but cannot borrow anything from the Wizard of Oz movie which is still in copyright. So no Dorothy or ruby slippers.

This just feels like a badly done rehash. I need to go watch Return to Oz. At least they didn't try to emulate the original, and instead attempted to give little children lasting nightmares of severed heads and the Wheelers.

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