Saturday, October 20, 2012

Movie Review - Tower Heist

This movie is like almost like an Ocean's Eleven but with a load of crazy silliness mixed together with a little bit of heart.  The movie is Tower Heist, starting Ben Stiller, Matthew Broderick, and Eddie Murphy.

Josh Kovaks (Ben Stiller) is at the top of his game managing The Tower, a prestigious apartment complex in New York City.  Very quickly though his world gets turned upside down.  Josh is talking with Arthur Shaw (Alan Alda) a big time investment broker in the beginning of the movie.  Josh and Arthur are fairly close given that Arthur lives in the building and Josh takes care of his every need.  Josh sees Arthur being stuffed into the back of a work truck and springs into action locking down The Tower.  Josh then personally chases down the truck when he is clotheslined by Special Agent Claire Denham (Téa Leoni) and the van is stopped by the FBI.  This is where we find out that Arthur Shaw is wanted for fraud and has defrauded all of his investors of their money.

The plot thickens when we find out that Josh had asked Arthur Shaw to invest the  pension funds of all the workers at The Tower.  Feeling personally responsible for this Josh hatches a scheme, why not steal the running money that he has stashed in his apartment.  He is pretty sure he knows where the safe is but he needs a team to pull off the job.  This is where the movie really starts to get interesting.  Josh recruits the biggest bunch of misfits that you could imagine to steal 20 million from a high profile target who is being protected by the FBI.

Ben Stiller does an amazing job in this film.  In the beginning of the film he is an overly professional guy who takes nothing personally and lives to server the residents of building.  Once his tough exterior starts to chip away you then get to see the real character underneath.  He could care less about the residents and completely about the staff who he has sworn to settle up with.  The transformation is pretty cool when you are watching it.

Alan Alda is fantastic as the hyper intelligent cold calculating prick Arthur Shaw.  His portrayal of the character make you really want to see him get it in the end.  The fact that he can elicit such an emotional response proves that he is a great actor.

Matthew Broderick is simply amazing in this role of Mr. Fitzhugh the out of work down on his luck stressed out financial manager.  In the film they mention he worked at Goldman Sachs handling their money.  He is very smart but also incredibly afraid of everything.

Eddie Murphy preforms a very exuberant dirty handed bad guy as Slide.  The way that Eddie manages to bring a little bit of humor to the role is excellent.  There is a great scene when Josh and Slide meet for the first time that had me laughing because of the way Stiller and Murphy work together.

The special effects were really well done.  It's not real obvious but there are certainly many scenes with special effects in them.  You can tell that they really put the extra money if for this one.  There is a scene where Mr. Fitzhugh is hanging off a building and it looks very believable.

All of the costumes are very appropriate for each character.  I would expect this of any movie that I watch.  There is a very wide variety of costumes to cover in the movie as well.  You have Shaw, rich and pretentious, Slide streetwise thug, Mr. Fitzhugh, business casual, and Josh who goes from expensive suits to causal dress.  It was all put together quite well.

The dialog always seemed very natural and not forced.  This shows a good writer at the helm of the ship.  When they can pull off this casual competence with the dialog it makes for a better film.

I rate this film five out of five smiley Mike heads.  It has humor, style, imagination, and action.  What's not to like, I highly suggest this film to anyone.  It seems like the producers actually cared when they created this film, and it shows.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Movie Review - Knowing

Wow.  That about sums up this movie.  Another mind twisting film from the mind of
Alex Proyas.  The movie is Knowing starting Nicholas Cage.  IMDB - Post

The other film that springs to mind when talking of Alex Proyas is Dark City.  Taking a peek at his resume show a list of credits for other films that I love.  This list includes, I, Robot, The Crow, Dark City and now Knowing.  His films have a way of being dark but not being overly intense.  This film is no exception in that it is creepy and dark, very suspenseful but not too intense.

The movie stars Nicholas Cage as John Koestler.  I know many people who do not like Nick Cage because he tends to play the same character in every movie.  I can understand that point of view, however I feel this role is a bit different for him.  This movie is not your typical action movie that Nick Cage is know for.  John is a astrophysicist at the prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology or MIT for short.  He is the father of Caleb Koestler our other lead role in the film.  While there are moments where you get the somewhat wooden performance that is Nicholas Cage he is very serious and portrays the brooding and thoughtful character very well. 

I only wish that he would have been more open with his son in this film.  He keeps many things from his son which perhaps in the end is a good thing.  I would like to think in his shoes spoken more with my son about what was actually going on. 

Speaking of sons Chandler Canterbury who played Caleb was actually quite good.  It is hard with child actors, you never quite know if they are going to be good or not.  I have recently watched a few films with horrible child actors, this film is not one of them.  Chandler is quite convincing in his role.  Caleb is very intelligent and trying to make a deeper connection with his father now that his mother is gone.  Chandler's acting all seems very realistic and natural which adds credibility to the role.

There are many other great actors and actresses in this film.  Everyone does a great job with the roles they are portraying.  Another small but important part in the film is John's father who is a preacher.  He has very few lines but delivers them exceptionally.  Right to the heart of his point without using too many words.

The special effects in this film are superb.  There are several big scenes in the film with very prominent special effects.  The special effects are very cool to watch, and are totally believable.  In some scenes it is a bit much, especially where you are watching people get burned alive.  It is still shot in such a way not to over dramatize things but to really show you what is going on.

I would highly recommend this film to anyone who likes mysterious films.  Likewise if you are a fan of suspense films you might enjoy this one as well.  While there is a few good action scenes I do not think this would keep the hard core action movie fans interested throughout the entire movie.

I rate this film to be four and a half out of five smiley Mike heads.  If the relationship between the father and son had been a bit stronger I would have given it five smiley Mike heads.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Movie Review - Run Fat Boy Run

Tonight's movie took me completely by surprise.  I was expecting a pure comedy much like Shawn of the Dead but this movie actually had a plot.  The movie of course was Run Fat Boy Run.  IMDB - Post

Simon Pegg is amazing at playing the awkward person.  The guy who just doesn't quite fit in right with society.  Dennis is no exception to this list.  Dennis is the main character of this film.

We start the film with Dennis at his wedding.  He is sweating profusely and absolutely beside himself with terror of his impending nuptials.  His best friend/cousin Gordon played by Dylan Moran is trying to comfort him in a poor men don't have feelings sort of way.  The last time Gordon tries to check on him Dennis has climbed out the window and is running down the street.

We flash forward 5 years, Dennis is still running.  As we zoom out from Dennis we find he is in a uniform, chasing down a shoplifter.  Apparently he is working as a security guard for a women's boutique.  He manages to tackle the perpetrator and wrestle the stolen pair of panties from her grasp.

As we follow Dennis further into his world we begin to find out that he doesn't have such a great handle on life.  He locks himself out of his apartment, and then has to talk to his pissed off landlord to let him in the front door.

The next scene shows Jake as played by Matthew Fenton watching Lord of the Rings on TV.  Jake is in his mother house waiting for Dennis to pick him up for a Lord of the Rings musical.  Libby, Dennis's almost wife is played by Thandie Newton.It is in this scene where we meet Whit played by the always excellent Hank Azaria.  Whit is Libby's new boyfriend, he is intelligent, organized, and well off. 

Libby who is understandably bitter towards Dennis, is accepting of him being in Jake's life.  When Dennis and Jake leave for the show we find out that Dennis does indeed not have tickets for the show and tries to buy them off someone only to find out that the gentleman is an undercover cop.  Dennis gets arrested for purchasing tickets from a scalper and gets thrown in jail.  Libby comes to his rescue and takes Jake home for the night.

A little later in the move we get to the plot of the film.  We find out that Whit is running in a marathon.  Dennis wanting to win back Libby agrees to join in and run the marathon as well.  Swearing to change his life and win back his girl Dennis makes a piss poor attempt to start training.  Only after his cousin Gordon makes a huge wager with his gambling buddies that Dennis will finish the marathon does he actually start training for real.  Gordon now having a stake in his success decides to be his coach.

For me this is where the film actually start to get interesting.  Watching Dennis be a complete loser for the first half of the film isn't exactly amusing for me to watch.  It is important though to show personal growth.  I do like to see a character grow in a film, to actually achieve something before the end of the film.  Makes me think I actually didn't completely waste two hours of my life.

The film has a absolutely wonderful ending, realistic, well, maybe.  Lets just say you won't be disappointed if you decide to watch this movie, at least I wasn't disappointed.

I rate this film four and a half smiley Mike heads.  It was funny, in a slightly uncomfortable mildly British humor sort of way but still fun.

If you like odd ball sort of movies I highly suggest this one for you.

Movie Review - The Hunger Games

A very interesting look at the future, yet frustrating to watch at moments.  I wish they had talked more about the revolution and why it happened.  I guess that's why you go out and buy the book after watching the movie, to learn more of the back story.  The movie is The Hunger Games IMDB - Post

The Hunger Games is set in the future.  They talk of a revolt against the federal government which failed.  As a way to remember the revolt and perhaps to control the population of the 12 sectors that staged the revolt the government sets up The Hunger Games.  Everyone is entered into a lottery once a year, if you win you are chosen to participate in the games.

They pick two people from each village to participate.  The games are essentially a winner takes all death match in the woods.  The woods however are filled with traps and the other competitors armed with weapons of all kinds.  The winner gets to go home to their sector to live out a happy life.

We start the movie following Katniss Everdeen, her mother and sister Primrose.  Katniss played by Jennifer Lawrence, sneaks outside the boundaries of the sector to hunt.  This is when she runs into her best friend Gale Hawthorne.  Gale is following her into the woods to keep an eye on her, and spend some alone time with her.

We cut away to people gathering in an assembly space.  They are getting ready to choose the names of the people that will participate in the 74th annual Hunger Games.  We see perhaps the first bit of color in the movie in Effie Trinket's purple dress.  Effie played by Elizabeth Banks is Sector 12's assigned cultivator.  She is the one who picks the names of the participants from the bowl.  When Primrose's name is pulled out of the bowl Katniss quickly volunteers to take her place.  The other person chosen to participate is Peeta Mellark, played by Josh Hutcherson.  We soon find out that he has a crush on Katniss.  We then follow the two of them as they travel to the capital so they can begin the ceremonies surrounding the Hunger Games.

On the train ride we meet Haymitch Abernathy who acts as their mentor for surviving the games.  Haymitch is played by Woody Harrelson actually survived a previous Hunger Games to be in the position that he is in now.  They are also accompanied by Effie, the two of them try to explain what will be expected of them and how best they can represent Sector 12.  Once they reach the capital we then meet Cinna who is in charge of their public image.  Part Stylist and part fashion coach Cinna as played by Lenny Kravitz certainly helps them make a statement on their first public appearance.

As the movie progresses you start to feel how callous and shallow the people in the capitol are.  They could care less about the participants of The Hunger Games and are only interested in the show of it all.  It reminds me much of the spectators of the Roman Gladiators of ancient times.  You really start to feel bad for Katniss who has no interest in being a play thing for these people.  She just wanted to save her sister from being killed in the games.

The costumes were great, the acting was excellent, the sets were fantastic.  The capital is very futuristic and fun to explore.  The special effects were very well done as well.

It is an interesting view of a possible future for humanity.  Some things in this movie were hard to watch, but were always believable.  The ending was a far cry short of what I was hoping for.  I didn't realize going into this movie that this was based on a series of books.  Knowing that now it makes the ending feel a little less disappointing.  I can say I look forward to any future movies that may come out since they did a great job of creating an interesting universe of characters.

I rate this movie four out of five smiley Mike heads.  The ending left me feeling melancholy and felt unfinished.