Friday, December 30, 2011

We Bought A Zoo

Cameron Crowe's best movie since Almost Famous

My rating: 4 and a half reels out of 5

The movie opens with Benjamin Mee (Matt...Damon) who is an adventure writer. He is full of life, seeks adventure, and has instant charisma. Someone you are easily drawn to and want to know more about. Now a struggling single father trying to raise his two young kids, he seeks a fresh start and revive family spirit by moving his family out to the countryside to renovate and re-build a struggling zoo.

We Bought A Zoo is light and heart-felt drama from Cameron Crowe. It's his first movie that is an adaptation. From the book We Bought a Zoo: The Amazing True Story of a young family, a broke down zoo, and the 200 animals that change their lives forever. While it's not a movie that's based on Crowe's personal experiences, it's a story centered around family and inspiration. A perfect fit for Cameron Crowe. After going through Aline Brosh Mckenna's script, Crowe infuses his personal touch. Of course, Crowe always adds the best selection of songs and he brings out the depth and reason of his characters especially the main character, Benjamin Mee.

Matt Damon gives the character Benjamin Mee a lot of enthusiasm, optimism, and humor. Like Crowe, he is a perfect fit for the movie. Surrounding him is Scarlett Johansson, who plays the a down-to-earth zookeeper who has dedicated her life to the animals of the zoo. Thomas Haden Church, plays Duncan Mee, the play-it-safe brother of Benjamin Mee. Dylan Mee, played by Colin Ford, is very combative with his father. And Rosie Mee, adorably played by newcomer Maggie Elizabeth Jones. Rosie, like her father; is lively, full of joy, imagination and optimism. It's a little reminiscent of the kid from Jerry Maguire except a hundred times more adorable (and a hundred times less annoying). Cameron Crowe is also reunited with Patrick Fugit (Almost Famous). I honestly forgot he was in the film after seeing his name in the opening credits, he is an underrated actor. The movie also stars Angus Macfadyen (Braveheart), playing Peter MacCreedy, the zoo's enclosure designer. Elle Fanning (Super 8), playing Lily Miska. And John Michael Higgins (Best in Show), playing antagonistic zoo inspector, Walter Ferris. A huge cast but a great cast for an inspiring movie.

You can tell a lot of love went into this film. It comes out through its actors and its story. But it's not all joy, there is some sadness to the film too. The characters go through struggles. The family deals with loss. Ben struggles financially. One character deals with her feelings as she experiences her first crush. The family and zookeepers struggle against the one who impedes their goals of re-opening the zoo. The characters are lovable and you want them to succeed. The humanity of the film is overcoming adversity. We Bought A Zoo is genuine, optimistic, and hopeful. It's a movie that will leave you smiling at the end.

You will probably like this movie if:
1. You like heart-filled comedy dramas.
2. You like Cameron Crowe.

You will probably not like this film if:
1. You find nice people boring.
2. You don't like to be smothered with good hearted feelings.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Young Adult

Better than I though it would be.

My Rating: 3 and a half reels out of 5

Soon after her divorce, a fiction writer returns to her home in small-town Minnesota, looking to rekindle a romance with her ex-boyfriend, who is now married with kids. 

Mavis Gary is not the kind of person I encountered in high school. She seems more like the kind of stuck-up high school brat I would see in movies of high school. Her plan to reclaim her ex-boyfriend is a little farfetched. It's not often you see a film about a person who disregards a marriage and family for their own selfish reasons and it's hard to sell such a film to an audience, but the filmmakers make it work. 

Diablo Cody (best known for writing Juno) does a good job in crafting the characters and the world they live in. Just imagine a small town filled with the people who were never going to leave. There is a history and depth to each character that's a little different but still plays on stereotypes of cliques in high school. Director Jason Reitman brings out the best in the actors, but when you already have a great actress like Charlize Theron, it's one less thing to worry about. 

Charlize Theron plays Mavis Gary. It's the subtleties that really make the character. From her expression to the way she reacts to her environment like simply taking a bottle of glue and sniffing it. Charlize takes an unlikable character and makes the audience sympathize with her. In the trailers, she definitely appears as a hated person and the only thing that would bring a person to watch such a movie is curiosity. 

How is she going to achieve this goal of hers? Is she insane? Is somebody going to tell her to just grow the f*ck up? Curiosity is what brought me in and I left with something a little more than I expected.

You'll probably like this movie if:
1. You like Charlize Theron movies.
2. You like Jason Reitman movies.

You'll probably not like this movie if:
1. High school was a time you like to forget.
2. You can't watch a movie about a unlikeable character. 

The Darkest Hour

I felt dumber after watching this.

My rating: 1 and a half reel out of 5

In Moscow, five survivors of an alien attack seek to find refuge. The unfortunate thing about some of the survivors is that they are a little on the dumb side. There is a scene where a couple of the characters open the trunk of an unlocked police car with a crowbar. I'm not familiar with Russian culture, but I'm pretty sure they would have a trunk release switch somewhere in the car. But the characters obviously reflect the intelligence of this plot-hole filled unintentionally hilarious movie. 

The Darkest Hour is another sad attempt of alien invaders coming to earth and wreaking havoc. The aliens are near invisible. If you watch closely enough you can see a flicker of light or the surge of electricity as they pass by unpowered instruments. See it quick enough and you just might survive being turned instantly into dust. If you're one of the main actors, you'll luckily survive a little longer in the aliens' grasp as they decide to drag you a little bit before they do you in. There are other limitations to the aliens but some of these points are forgotten in order to create more action and speed the story along. 

There are some good things about this film. Cinematography was nice, they made the film look good. They used the science behind Faraday Cages correctly. Special effects are pretty good. Um...the film is short. But among cheesy dialogue, plot holes, and "WTF" moments, these values hardly salvage this movie. 

You'll probably like this movie if:
1. You like B-movies. 
2. Your expectations are really low. 
3. You've never seen a movie in your life!
4. You want a good laugh.

You will probably not like this movie if:
1. You want a certain level of intelligence in a movie. 


A short review because I saw it a month and half ago and it's a little hard to remember. That should something about the film itself.

My rating: 3 reels out of 5. 

King Hyperion has declared war on humanity and marches across Greece to find a secret weapon that could unleash the Titans and destroy humanity. A mortal man named Theseus, secretly chosen by Zeus, must lead his people against him. 

From what I remember lots of cool action with bits of super slow-motion mixed in and that's about it.

Oh, and I believe there was some female nudity.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

J Edgar

It's not often I say this, but this movie was boring.

My rating: 2 and a half reels out of 5

J Edgar is a biographical drama about the life of John Edgar Hoover, director of the FBI for nearly 50 years. A man who was both feared and admired but held secrets that would ruin his image, career, and his life. 

The secrets that J Edgar had seem a little tame by today's standards. Secrets about powerful U.S. figures? Those are big secrets but J Edgar as a cross dresser? Meh. Was J Edgar secretly gay? Meh. The movie's main focus was J Edgar rather the FBI itself which seemed to me would've been the most interesting aspect of history to see. The filmmakers seemed like they were torn in different directions on how to portray J Edgar and did not fully invest themselves on ideas, such as J Edgar's rumored cross dressing behavior or his sexuality. 

The movie spans from when J Edgar first became director to his death. That is a lot of time to cover and there is a lot of skipping around. Some side stories are only touched upon and you are left to fill in the blanks with your imagination. And that is just too much information to leave for the viewer to decide. In particular, the relationships around J Edgar such as his right hand man, Clyde Tolson (Armie Hammer) and his secretary, Helen Gandy (Naomi Watts). 

Leo does a great job in portraying J Edgar, but it seems like everyone is subdued around J Edgar, like everyone was told to act scared around J Edgar. Armie Hammer, the actor who played those pesky twins in The Social Network, stands out among the other actors. But my favorite bit of acting actually comes from Jeffrey Donovan (the spy in the show Burn Notice), who portrays Robert Kennedy. A small role, but fun to see his portrayal of RFK. And as J Edgar, Clyde Tolson, and Helen Gandy get older, they get drowned in make-up that becomes a little too distracting. 

As much as I can enjoy dramatic movies, this one could not sustain my interest. I found my mind wandering and was starving for action. When the action does come, it's very little. By the end, it was hard to sympathize with the character of J Edgar the filmmakers portrayed to us and I was glad to get out of the theatre.

You'll probably like this movie if:
1. You like biographical dramas. 
2. You like Leonardo Dicaprio.

You probably won't like this movie if:
1. You like a fluid storyline. 
2. You are bored by talking movies. 

Monday, December 26, 2011

Pulp Fiction in Chronological Order

Take an unconventional movie and put it in chronological order and what do you get? A movie that is still as enjoyable.

Post-modernism takes a back seat. 

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Prometheus trailer

Can't believe it will be nearly 30 years since the last time Ridley Scott made a science fiction film. 

Remind you of another trailer?