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-James

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Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World

Posted by james on Jan. 2, 2011

(post.rating: 9)
Rating:

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The minute I saw this preview, I knew I had to see this movie. It seemed so strange - a weird mixture of typical geek/girl romance and crazy over the top batman-style action graphics. Awesome.

This is one of those movies that satisfied my expectations and then some. The whole movie is taken from a series of comics, and knowing that made the movie more enjoyable (even though I hadn't read the comics... yet). The whole thing is shot & edited in a very comic-book like fashion - over the top dialog, quick editing (like reading through the panels of a book... conversations start in one place and end in another, seamlessly), and the "action graphics" make sense - it's all comic style.

There's two aspects through the whole thing - the "fight all the evil ex's", which comes out in the trailers, and the backstory of quirky romance. The latter was surprisingly not-annoying. I've seen Michael Cera in too many quirky romance type movies by now (Juno, Nick & Nora's Infinite Playlist, Youth In Revolt) and I'm a bit sick of them. While Juno was fun and original (Thanks to the awesome Ellen Page), the others are a bit lackluster and derivative. So it was fun to see how different and fun the romance was in this movie.

There are some movies where it feels like a really neat story was mangled beyond recognition into a mass of jumbled holly wood ideas. Scott Pilgrim Vs The World is the opposite - it reeks of strong, creative intent. I can only guess that they either found a director that loved the source material and wanted to give it an amazing homage, or that the original author may have been on hand to play a creative role. For all I know the movie was nothing like the original comic, but there's just way too much character here. The editing style is fun and keeps things surreal (which is necessary to keep things from getting weird - see the first fight/singing/dance scene). The graphics and 8-bit music is a nice touch, and I think I even heard some classic Nintendo themes in there. And the cleverness is pretty consistent throughout the whole thing.

And the music. Awesome. The music seems to tie into the feel & character of the movie perfectly. I love that they had a bass-guitar battle (go underdog instrument of every band ever!), and I love even more that it doesn't feel embarrassingly campy or annoying - it's actually really fun.

I want to see this one again. I might even want to own it (in this age of streaming, ripping, renting, that's saying a lot). Let's see more like this one!

And go Aubrey Plaza! I was hoping there'd be more of her in this, but the small bits were good enough. Actually, just about *every* actor(ess) in this movie was just perfect. This was really an amazingly well balanced movie. Man, I really want to see this again. I wonder if banko's seen it yet? I wonder if that'll be our next movie & junk food choice?

Killers

Posted by james on Dec. 30, 2010

(post.rating: 3)
Rating:

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I'm always fascinated when two different movies come out around the same time with nearly indistinguishable trailers. This movie "Killers" was really hard to tell apart from "Knight and Day" after watching both trailers. They both featured cool guys who turn out to be spies, and their romantic hot-girl counterparts are accidentally brought along for the ride. Basically "True Lies" with less of a ironic twist.

However, the reviews clearly separated the two: Killers got 11% on Rotten Tomatoes, Knight and Day got 54%. So I wasn't expecting much - which is probably why I wasn't pained to sit through this one.

I'm not a fan of Ashton Kutcher, but he's done some interesting movies (Butterfly Effect) so there's always a chance. I actually am a fan of Katherine Heigl, but lately it seems she's been doing one character - an anal retentive professional single woman who gets rounded into a romance with her exact opposite.

So much of the same here. The story really is like True Lies, albeit with a whole lot less cheek & character, a whole lot more random story elements, and absolutely zero cohesiveness. There are gaping questions just before the "big reveal" at the end - Why are people trying to kill them? Who was his previous employer? Why does Heigl just accept everything and go along like nothing's wrong? And in the end, they answer some of those questions with an answer that just make you sit back and think... "Really?"

It's a definite case of "What were they thinking?" And all I can guess is that this is a design-by-committee movie. A bunch of writers must have put a bunch of successful tropes into a hat, pulled out about 20-30, and written them all into the movie however they could. It reminds me of those drawings where you draw the head, someone else draws the body, and the last person draws the feet. That makes for a funny picture, but a confusing and aimless movie.

In the end, it's not awful. Just confusing and aimless. It doesn't help that the acting is as confusing as the plot. Fine enough when nothing else is on TV, but not worth much else.

Predators

Posted by james on Dec. 18, 2010

(post.rating: 7)
Rating:

IMDB   Apple Trailers

I really didn't have much hope for this one after seeing Aliens Vs. Predator. That movie was a crapfest of the worst of both series. PG13? Cheesy stereotypical human characters? The weak girl becoming an "honorary predator" at the end? What the heck?

But I figured, why not. This movie surprised me in a very good way. First off, a very impressive list of characters: Danny Trejo (Desperado), Alice Braga (Blindness), Topher Grace (cmon, it's Foreman!), and especially... Adriane Brody. Having Brody as the lead pretty much sold the trailer to me by itself.

The story is pretty clear, but it's not really about the plot, is it? It's the interaction between the characters. It's nice that the movie ignored the decadent 90's themed Predators 2 inner-city setting, and the "let's do one in space!" Aliens vs Predator setting, and went right back to the original Predator - in the thick of the jungle. Granted, this is an Alien jungle. But still a nice touch.

I really expected a gorefest with a bunch of action stars thrown in, and the creativity limited to "let's see how each one dies". But the movie was surprisingly enjoyable, a few twists, and the ending left open for a sequel. Depending on the trailer, I'd go see it.

The pseudo buddy/romance among the top two leads was a bit worn out, but overall a good movie. Much better than I expected.


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