Saturday, November 30, 2013

Movie Review - The Oranges

Hello again, just in time for the holiday season I bring you my review of The Oranges.

The Oranges is an off-beat comedy about two families living in the suburbs of New Jersey.  It follows the families through a major changing point in their lives.

We start the film by introducing the two fathers Terry (Oliver Platt) and David (Hugh Laurie).  They are best friends that live across the street from each other.  Their families have grown up together and they are as close as any neighbours could be.  Terry and his wife Paige (Catherine Keener) are in a rough patch in their relationship, when Terry's 24 year old daughter Nina comes home for Thanksgiving.

Nina's meddling mother Cathy (Allison Janney) is busy trying to set her up with David's son Toby (Adam Brody).  When Nina goes over to hang out with Toby, he ends up passing out on the couch.  Since Toby is asleep, Nina wanders through the house and finds David.  They soon realize there is chemistry between them, and when they act on that chemistry the film gets quite interesting.

The rest of the movie has David and Nina trying to work things out between them, her parents, and David's other two children.  It is a funny, yet moving film about how quickly lives can be changed forever.  The film always manages to feels quite real, and it is never boring.

Things don't go as you might expect they would in this film.  There were a few of time where I expected the film would go a certain direction, but I was pleasantly surprised when it did not.  As you would expect, there are a few uncomfortable moments, but overall I found the film quite entertaining.

The acting in this film is top notch, which is good considering in a film like this the acting is the center point of the whole movie.  Since there are no special effects or CGI it stands to reason that the acting becomes key.  The actors really make the characters come to life.  You feel like you are living in the neighborhood with these people watching their lives unfold.

Since I am married to a costumer I need to point out the costumes in the film.  While nothing spectacular, when compared to a period piece (Lord of the Rings, Titanic, Labyrinth) they are still quite well thought out.  Every character has on clothing that seems appropriate.  The costumes always match the scenes in which they are being worn as well.  Formal clothing for formal situations and casual for casual situations.

If you are looking for a film that will make you think, and feel then this is certainly a great choice for you.  If you like comedies that are a touch uncomfortable to watch then you should pick this one up right now.  No, really got out and rent a copy because this is comic gold.

As everyone knows I am a huge stickler for how a movie ends.  If you have not read any of my previous reviews then I will restate this fact.  The ending of a movie is perhaps the most important part of the film for me.  The ending can make a crappy movie good, or make an amazing movie into a steaming pile of dung.  This film had a very realistic ending, which suits this movie quite well.  Having given it some though it really seems like the most logical ending I could imagine.

I would rate this film four smiley Mike heads, but when you add in the great acting and interesting subject matter I have to rate this film four and a half out of five smiley Mike heads.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Movie Review - Beginners

This film is an amazingly human film.  It has odd uncomfortable scenes, but there is also happiness, love and compassion.  The film is Beginners staring Ewan McGregor and Mélanie Laurent.

When I picked it up I knew it was not your average Hollywood movie, but it truly surprised me with its depth.  The film follows the events surrounding the life and death of Hal Fields (Christopher Plummer) as see from the eyes of his adult son Oliver Fields (Ewan McGregor).

There are no fancy special effects, explosions, car chases, or expensive costumes.  This film really is all about the story, the actors, and their emotions.  The film time shifts quite a bit between the past and the present, but the flow between time shifts is really well mapped out, so it is easy to follow the story.  It really is quite interesting to follow the path of the story to get to the end of the film.  This film has heart, and it shows in every scene.

Because the characters drive the story the acting is really critical to the success of the film.  The actors certainly did not disappoint you with their performances.  One must really give credit to the casting department for finding such great actors to fit the parts.  The characters are so well thought out, they are complete with character flaws and quirks to boot.  It makes you think that you might very well know some of the people in the film in your everyday life.

I really enjoyed this film, occasional uncomfortable scene aside, it really is worth watching.  I like films that make me stop and think, feel, and appreciate the life we live.  Yes there is loss, and heartache, but there is also happiness and joy.  There is also a sense of wonder, and just being happy with what you have and who you have in your life right now.  I rarely feel that sense of wonder when watching a film, so I try to give credit to the ones that can do that for me.

If you like movies that make you feel something, and take you on a journey, then I highly recommend this film for you to watch.  Plus it would make a good date night movie.  Who doesn't want a sobbing date leaning on your shoulder by the end of the movie.

I rate this film four and a half out of five smiley Mike heads.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Movie Review - Star Trek Into Darkness

This is quite possibly the best Star Trek movie in recent history.  The film, Star Trek Into Darkness.

The plot of this film is amazingly well written.  There are parallels to previous Star Trek films that are extraordinarily well laid out.  When I saw the previews for this film I thought that it was simply a movie about a war (Star Trek DS9 anyone); however I was pleasantly surprised with the events of this film.  Sure there is fighting, and destruction, but what good Star Trek film does not have these elements.

The acting was spectacular.  We have the same actors from the first film reprising their roles as the most famous crew members.  The casting in these films is a stroke of genius.  With famous actors such as Karl Urban as Bones, Zachary Quinto as Spock, and one of my personal favorites Simon Pegg as Scotty.  Having strong actors playing well established characters makes for a very entertaining film experience.  Heck we even have Leonard Nimoy coming back for a cameo as old Spock in this film.  The fact that both of these new Star Trek films take place in an alternate universe from the original Star Trek Series certainly frees the actors to perform these roles in a more personal way.  It means they don't have to strive to perform the roles just like the actors that made the characters famous.

The special effects are just stellar in this film.  Oh how technology advances, you almost feel like you are getting dirty when they are in the volcano.  You can see every bit of dirt and grime and space debris in the special effects shots now.  These sorts of shots were just not possible even three to five years ago.  I do like how they took some creative liberties with the ships and the weapons to make them fit in with our modern style while still resembling the devices of the original series (TOS).  While we are talking about effects, I have to say the transporter is one of the cooler effects in this film.  Redesigned to be something totally unique when compared to the rest of the Star Trek universe.  The swirly yellowish lights are fantastic to watch as the people get beamed off to a distant location.

The costumes in this new Star Trek universe are excellent.  As many other things in these two new films the costumes resemble the uniforms of TOS while still being fresh and modern.  I cannot imagine the amount of costume people they must have to create and fit all of the people in this film.  The main crew aside there are perhaps upwards of twenty people in just about every scene.  This is an insane amount of costumes for one film.

If you liked the first film you will love this film.  If you have ever seen the original Star Trek films then you are in for a real treat with this film.  I don't want to give anything away, but it is pretty great.  Even as a action film set in space it is pretty darn cool.  I highly recommend this film to anyone who likes a great story and powerful acting.

I rate this film five out of five smiley Mike heads for amazing effects, spectacular acting, and a fantastic script.

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Movie Review - Larry Crowne

Hello folks, it's Baatezuu back for another movie review.  This evening's movie was Larry Crowne.  This film was a bit more than your standard romantic comedy.  It was the story of redemption and reinvention. 

We follow Larry Crowne (Tom Hanks), as the title would suggest, as he has a collection of the worst moments in his life.  It is really what Larry does with those downfalls that makes this movie so interesting.  Where some people would think that their lives our over, Larry manages to pick himself up and make things better.

The acting in this movie is really great.  Tom Hanks is a spectacular actor, he does a great job portraying the average guy with a positive attitude.  He brings a upbeat energy to Larry that is necessary to make you like him.  If Larry was a grumpy sad sack this film would be very boring to watch.  Julia Roberts as Mercedes Tainot, was a wonderful bit of casting.  Julia is an amazing actor that brings strength to the character of Mrs. Tainot.  Mercedes is also going through a transformation in this film.  When we meet her she has become stagnant, and has lost her passion for teaching.  By the end of the film you can see a metamorphosis in her character.

Costumes are a very big part of this film, and help portray the changes that are going on in Larry's life.  We start with boring and drab, and we end up with chic and suave.  The costume designer must have had some great fun with this film, since we have many different styles of costume throughout.

There were quite a few interesting locations for this film.  Many of the places he visits in the film look like authentic, real life places.  The locations are just as much a part of the film as the actors themselves.

As for his experiences in community college, they differ greatly from my own.  Perhaps that is because I am going to school in Michigan and not in California.  Or perhaps Larry is just a friendlier guy than I am.  I don't mean to say anything in the story is unrealistic, but it would certainly take the right set of circumstances for everything to fall into place like it did in this film.

If you like character based films where people seem genuine, and the characters learn and grow from their experiences, than this is certainly a film you should not miss.

I rate this film four and a half smiley Mike heads. The characters were amazingly well thought out and it was set in a modern realistic setting.  I almost forgot to mention George Takei as Dr. Ed Matsutani.  As always he is a great actor, I love his evil laugh in this film, it is so well placed.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Movie Review - Sucker Punch

I have many mixed emotions about this film.  It was great, but it was sad, yet it was triumphant and awesome.  The film is Sucker Punch.

The film starts out quite dramatically, there is action, passion, and mystery.  Then we slow down the pace and we set the main plot of the movie.  There is a neat scene in the film that fractures Babydoll's reality, and everything shifts into a more interesting version of reality.  All the other characters around her end up as erotic dancers in a corrupt mental ward/prison instead of the mental patients they are in reality.  This not being odd enough for this film things shift again in the scenes when Babydoll starts to dance.  She opens her eyes to find herself in another reality altogether, where she learns of the things she needs to escape her situation.  Every time she dances for someone we get another flash to an alternate reality.

That altered reality scenes are truly remarkable to watch.  These scenes transform Babydoll, and later her friends Sweat Pea, Blondie, Rocket, and Amber into bad ass superheros.  Fighting Nazi's, robots, trolls, and dragons, this superhero brigade kick some serious ass.  Not only are they kicking ass, they look fantastic doing it.

Which brings me to the costumes, they are spectacular.  Of course the women have amazing and sexy outfits while they are kicking ass, but everyone else is quite well outfitted as well.  Before the split in reality everyone is dress in 40's ish clothing that looks spot on for a mental institution.  The nurses, doctors, businessmen, and girls are dressed quite for this approximate era.  They are also very drab, which helps to define what reality we are in.  Once we split off into the alternate reality, where all the girls are dancers, we have a dramatic change in wardrobe.  What used to be drab doctors and nurses are now men in shiny and bold suits, and women in flashy cocktail dresses.  It all has the feel of a sophisticated night club, which is perhaps much more happy then the mental institution that the film is set.

This type of storytelling approach is very dramatic, and exciting to watch.  It is certainly preferable to the way the story would normally be told.  It also helps to shed some light on the mental status of the main character.

With all I have said it hardly seems necessary to mention special effects, but I will anyways.  Fantastic, alright I'm done.  No really, they are amazing well done.  When the dragon bursts out of the castle it really looks quite natural.  When the same dragon takes a bite out of a plane in mid flight you never question how the special effects work, you just roll with it and believe.  One other great thing about this film is they manage to make good use of the bullet time technology.  The robot fighting scene has quite a bit of bullet time in it while they kill all the dang robots. 

The acting is exceptional as well.  There are some very talented actors in this film.  Emily Browning (Babydoll) has a look of innocence about her, but manages to pull off bad ass, and perhaps a touch of sexy, quite naturally.  Her performance never feels forced or unnatural.  Even when she is being the bad ass it is never over the top like I have seen some actors do.  Jena Malone (Rocket) was great with showing hidden strength.  Even in the scenes where Rocket is showing her vulnerable side you can always see her strength.  Scott Glenn (Wise Man) has perhaps some of the best lines in the film.  The Wise Man shows up in each one of Babydoll's dance hallucinations to guide her and her teammates.  I have seen Scott in other films and he has always had an ability to deliver a line with strong conviction.  The character of the Wise Man continues to showcase his ability.

Now the not so great part.  Being a stickler for endings that I am, I was somewhat upset at the ending of this movie.  In any movie that centers on a mission, or achieving a grand plan, the characters are expected to have to struggle to achieve their goals, yet this film seems to ask to much of its heroes.  In the end, the things they manage to accomplish are great, but the price paid seems rather high.  While some may argue this makes the film that much more realistic, I feel it makes for a bittersweet ending.

If you don't mind a little bloodshed and violence, or you like a good superhero movie, then this is the film for you.  Even though they are not superheros in the tradition sense, they are fighting bad guys in costume.  It is certainly great fun to watch them all kick ass.

Due to the mixed emotions of the ending, I am only rating this film four out of five smiley Mike heads.  I just wish that things could have worked out differently in the end.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Movie Review - Cloud Atlas

This film was every bit the grand sweeping story that the trailers present it to be.  The movie I am speaking of is Cloud Atlas.

The movie follows the story of multiple characters throughout multiple times in history and the future, yet the characters are all portrayed by the same actors.  It is certainly astounding to watch as the same actor plays a good guy in one timeline while simultaneously playing the bad guy in another timeline.  For some this may make the film somewhat hard to follow, but I feel it adds to the layers of complex storytelling.

The way that the story is told is like no other film that I have seen before.  Just as one of the story lines starts to heat up they jump to the next one.  Instead of being frustrating, as I would imagine it, this helps to build up to a frenzied pace by the climax of the story.  At the end you are so engrossed in every storyline when they jump to the next one it is a welcome transition so you can see what happens in that story.  This film is incredibly well written, if half the movies on the video store shelf were written half as well I would be a happy man.  They also do a great job wrapping up all the story lines so they don't leave you wondering what happens.

The ending is one of the most important aspects of a film for me, which you all should know by now.  A bad ending can ruin a good movie; likewise a good ending can lessen the suckage of a bad movie.

As for the ending, it really shows you the best in humanity on a grand scale.  I felt a sense of connection to the human race that I rarely feel in daily life.  This film also shows the darker side of humanity though.  You see many different kinds and types of villains in this movie as well.

The special effects are simply amazing.  In the futuristic parts of the film you see a city of grand proportion, and flying ships.  Everything is done in such a way that it looks like someone simply filmed the ships and the city.  This is after all what special effects are supposed to do, make us believe the unbelievable.

The make-up and costumes are fantastic as well.  There are some period pieces in this film, yet there are not a bunch of ball gowns.  There is however some great men's fashions, suit coats and vests.  As for the make-up, there are a few characters that have tattoo's on their face and bodies that look real.  I also really like how dirty the tribal people are in this film.  It seems very realistic to me that they would not be clean and pretty.  Their clothes are made of organic materials and are very loose fitting as you would expect crude clothing to be constructed.  As for the futuristic scenes we have lots of close fitted clean monochromatic clothing.  As a whole they do a fantastic job aging all of the characters.  Since we are also skip around in time the make and costume crews do an amazing job making everyone fit the era that they are portraying.

The film does take about 10 to 15 minutes to really start to catch your attention, yet once it does it never fails to keep you entertained.  I cannot imagine what else anyone could ask of a movie.

If you can pay attention and follow more than one story line at a time then I highly recommend this film.  I can imagine that this film would be one that you could easily watch more than once.  You may actually need to watch it more than once if you hope to catch all the nuances this film holds.

I was torn between four and a half and five smiley Mike heads for this film, so I asked my five year old (who did not watch this film with me) and he said "uh five," so I rate this film five smiley Mike heads.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Movie Review - World War Z

Well here is a first, and you are here to share it with me.  This is the first movie review that I have written for a movie that is still in the theater.  The movie is World War Z.

I will preface this review by saying this is not typically the type of movie that I watch on my own.  I was invited by a friend to go see this flick.  It was a fun time, I got my butt off of my couch and actually got to go to the movie theater again. 

I had seen trailers for this film, which is why I knew it wasn't my kind of movie, but did not really know what to make of this film before I went to see it.  After watching it I still don't really know what to make of it.

Let's start with the positive, the special effects were awesome.  The zombies are really well done, they are scary, shambling, monsters.  The transformation scenes are quite gruesome and intriguing to watch.  There is a scene in the film where the zombies are trying to climb a wall that is quite epic.  They all throw themselves at the wall and smash into each other and just start climbing over each other until they form a human scaffold.  This scene was really quite terrifying, because it presents the zombies as a single minded, unstoppable, killing force that is scary as hell.  The movie makeup is very well done, assuming they had some real people playing zombie in the film and it was not all computer graphics that is.  There are some scenes late in the film where you are quite close up to the zombies and it is amazing how well done they are.

On to the acting.  There were some really amazing actors in this film; although I would not count Brad Pitt among them.  Perhaps the writers are to blame, but Gerry Lane (Brad Pitt) is so laid back that you don't really get the feeling that he cares about anything.  Sure he is all dark and broody but he is so detached from his surroundings that it sort of takes away from how crazy the events of the movie really are.  Many of the supporting actors are quite amazing in their roles though.  One example is Mireille Enos who plays Gerry's wife Karin.  Mireille does a great job, Karin is strong for her family, yet scared as hell at the same time.  She pulls this off quite well actually.  Or perhaps Fana Mokoena who plays Thierry Umutoni, a government agent who helps Gerry and his family out of the zombie infested city.  Thierry is very serious in this role as you would expect any person to be in the given situation.  And lets face it, some of the zombie actors are even better at displaying emotion than Brad Pitt is in this film.

Perhaps the biggest gripe I have with the movie is it's cohesion.  There are several very good scenes in the film, the zombie's at the wall for one example, but as a whole the movie just isn't very good.  The movie feels very forced.  The way that they follow Gerry eludes to the fact that he is important, yet they never really tell you why he is important.  Yeah they say he was an great agent in the past but the events of the movie never show you that side of him.  The way they make a big deal out of extracting him from the city you would think he was the president.  They give Gerry the task of finding out how to stop the zombies.  This is of course is the whole point of the film, but you don't really feel like you are solving that problem until the last 30 minutes of the film.  The rest of it feels like filler, trying to expand on the story, yet only proving to bore you with details.

The whole film feels like a bunch of disconnected events smashed together until we finally present you with a goal, which is then complicated by events that just there to extend the length of the film.  We need something, but zombies are in the way, we can't possibly just get this something we need somewhere else.  No, we must get it here, so we will now sneak through the zombies in an intense, yet unnecessary scene that adds drama to the film without really adding any substance.

As a whole this film was entertaining, but lacking.  It could have been better, but they had to have that blockbuster feel of all these big scenes that did not really help tell the story.  If you are into zombie films then perhaps this doesn't matter to you.  There certainly is plenty of zombie carnage, gore and destruction, yet I can't help but feel the story could have been stronger.

I rate this film two smiley Mike heads.  It was clever in the solution to the problem, and it had some really neat zombie action, but the story was severely stunted

I was going to rate it two and a half smiley Mike heads but I realized I didn't have an image for that, so I bumped it to two.  Laziness for the win.  In a why it sort of is fitting for this film, since the writers were too lazy to write a decent script for it.

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Sunday, April 28, 2013

Movie Review - Goats

After having picked this movie up several times in the video store I finally decided it was time to rent it.  The movie is called Goats.  This film was equal parts beauty and chaos.  The story centers around a teenage boy named Ellis Whitman and his incredibly messed up family.  I know everyone thinks their family is screwed up but this family is a real gem to watch.

The film starred David Duchovny as Goat Man, the Whitman's pool boy and gardener.  David Duchovny is fantastic in this role, he is so chill and smooth he really brings a deepness to the character of Goat Man.  

Also of notable mentions is Ellis's father Frank who is played by Ty Burrell from TV's Modern Family.  It is pretty interesting to see Ty play a serious character; especially since his Modern Family character is such a klutzy, goofy person.  The rest of the cast was amazing as well.  The cast works really well together overall and they are quite amusing to watch.

The production value of this film is great.  They spent a great deal of effort making the film look great.  Half of the film is set in the Arizona desert which is a beautiful set for this often melancholy film. The beauty of the dessert is an interesting backdrop for the this dysfunctional family's misadventures.  The other half of the film is set in the city, and it is interesting how the city scenes have a very different feeling to them.  It also shows the different sides of Ellis' life in this film.

This film has an original score and the composers did a very good job with the film score.  The music was always perfect for the emotions that were being displayed in the various scenes.  You really can't ask anything more of a film score.

The costumes are perfect for the characters in every scene.  The costumes really helped to define each characters individuality.  Ellis' mother is always brightly attired while his father is very professionally dressed.  The costumes are just part of the devide between Ellis's parrents.  This devide makes up the majority of the angst in this film.  Ellis loves his mother, and he wants her to be happy, but he also wants to reestablish a relationship with is father.  Throw in Goat Man, a jerk of a boyfriend and you have a crazy amusing mess.

Overall this is a great film the characters are very memorable and the production value is high.  There were a few scenes that were not critical to the movie but they were few and far between.  If you like films that show personal development in the characters and make you feel better about yourself, then this film is for you.

I rate this film four out of five smiley Mike heads.  It was amusing to watch and the characters were certainly memorable, but it had a few scenes that were a bit uncomfortable; otherwise I would have rated this film higher. 

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Movie Review - Seeking a Friend for the End of the World

 This movie manages to show you both the worst and the best of humanity all at once.  The film is Seeking a Friend for the End of the World.

This is another one of those awkward films that I love so much.  The end of the world is not a popular subject with most people, however this film does an amazing job of portraying it with grace and dignity.  The acting is simply amazing, and really is the highlight of the film.  While there are explosions, and action, this film is truly a story about the human experience.

We start the film in a car parked on the side of the road.  Dodge () and his wife Linda () are listening to the radio they are absolutely quiet and still.  There is an announcer stating that our last chance to divert the giant asteroid headed for earth has failed.  In the next moment Dodge looks over to his wife and says "honey I think we missed our exit", she gets out of the car and runs away as fast as a woman in heels can run.  This event sets Dodge on his course for the rest of the film as he tries to find what is important in life, so he can hang onto in in his final moments.

Steve Carell is terrific as Dodge the character of Dodge is very beaten down by life.  He is so stuck in his daily routine that you wonder if he even knows the end of the world is upon him.   Steve brings such a quiet intensity to this role.  Sometimes you can really see the gears turning in his head and other times he is a veil of ambiguity.

Along his journey Dodge meets Penny ().  Penny is very vibrant and full of emotion, the polar opposite of Dodge in every way.  Where he is clean and organized, she is dirty and chaotic.  Keira Knightley is an amazing actress and she really brings a much needed vibrant energy to the role or Penny. 

As I mentioned, this film sheds light on both the best and the worst of humanity.  We see looters, rioters, sleazy guys who are taking full advantage of the end of the world.  Yet in the midst of all this negativity we find love, kindness, and compassion for fellow human beings.  This is the first film I have watched, in quite some time, to truly make me feel something.  Happiness, sadness, remorse, longing, and heartache, all in the span of 101 minutes.

I will admit that because Steve Carell does such an amazing job playing an unfeeling character it does take a little while to really care about his character.  I thought a few times, why do I care about Dodge, he is a human twig, devoid of all emotion.  Having said that, this film is also a great study of the human condition.  It seems like the writers spent some time researching what makes us all tick when writing this film.  There is never a moment where the dialog felt forced or unnatural.  All of the characters in the film are very believable, I could imagine myself in their position very easily acting the same way.

I would highly recommend this film if you like movies that dig deeper into who we are as a species.  Heck, even if you like to people watch you might enjoy this film.  Watching people deal with the biggest dilemma in the history of humankind is pretty interesting to watch.

Because of the amazing way the film portrayed humanity's final moments and still managed to end the film on an up note, I rate this film five smiley Mike heads.

Movie Review - Dredd

I am the law, so says Judge Dredd.  The movie is Dredd, the new one from 2012.

This is a very different film form the first film about the Judge Dredd character.  The first film was a grand story arc told in a very short amount of time.  This film however is a much more detailed account of a very short amount of time in the world of the character.  Like many of the recent superhero movie retellings this one is very realistic and gritty.  It is filmed in such a way that you can really get a sense of what is going on in the different characters heads.  In some characters this is exactly what is happening.

In this film Judge Dredd (Karl Urban) is breaking in a rookie Cassandra Anderson (Olivia Thirlby) who happens to be psychic.  They work this power of hers in a much more personal way then I have ever seen.  The scene is not overloaded with special effects and it does exactly what it needs to do to tell the story.

Karl Urban does an great job playing the law enforcing, crime fighting, sentence delivering hero.  He manages to follow the sentiment of less is more.  Even though we can only see half his face Karl manages to display a full range of emotions.  Even though I have not read any of the Judge Dredd comics I can imagine that he isn't much for small talk, and Karl Urban manages to deliver a lot with very few words.

The rookie Anderson on the other hand display a wide range of emotion from fear to anger.  Olivia Thirlby plays the character of Cassandra Anderson very well.  She brings a bit of innocence to the character but also a toughness as well.  This character undergoes a wonderful transformation throughout the film that is fascinating to watch.

The cinematography is nothing short of breathtaking.  Director seems to have a great vision of the world of Dredd, along with a high working knowledge of what works on the film.  Watching the making of revealed to me that there was a great deal of experimentation in the filming of this movie.  They shot the film in 3D and the director had never worked in 3D before this film, the results are truly amazing though.  This is really the first film that I have seen that has a valid use for the super slow motion photography, that has been highly overused in films since the Matrix came out.

The bad guys in this film are pushing a drug called slo-mo which slows down time for the user of the drug.  All of the scenes filmed with the super slow motion photography are filmed from the perspective of one of the drug users.  This use of the "bullet-time" effect certainly sets this film apart for me.

As for sets and costumes they were both exactly what you would have expected of a major Hollywood production; however this was a fairly low budget film.

If you really like superhero movies then I highly recommend this film.  If you don't mind a fairly moderate level of gore in your films then this one is highly entertaining to watch.  Honestly even the gory scenes are filmed in a very artistic sort of way.

For the high art value while still telling a compelling story and actually having a good use for Bullet-time filming techniques I rate this film four and a half smiley Mike heads.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Move Review - 30 Minutes or Less

When I saw this movie at the video store I expected another dumb guy movie.  Well, I did get another dumb guy movie but, this film was written better then I  expected it to be.  The film is 30 Minutes or Less.

The characters are very believable and realistic.  They are really just normal people put into extreme situations.  It is fascinating to see how they all cope with the stress of their individual situations.

The protagonist of this film, Nick () is a down on his luck 20 something who is in a dead end job delivering pizza's.  Jesse is fantastic in this role, his natural energy really lends itself to Nick's manic state of mind.

Nick's best friend Chet (), is a bit high strung, but he means well.  Aziz plays the nerdy teacher really well, his nervous energy is very much needed.  There are several scenes where Chet tries to help only to make things worse.

The antagonist of the film comes in the form of Dwayne ().  The first time I saw Danny McBride was in the K-Swiss commercials as Kenny Powers and I thought he was the dumbest guy ever.  After watching him in a few other movies I think I can finally appreciate his brand of humor.  Which is good since he is the exact same character in this film that he always plays.  His father is a huge douchbag and treats him like crap; which is what sets the entire crazy plot of the movie in motion.

The acting is what really makes this film great.  There are special effects in the film, they are really well done.  The special effects team does what they are supposed to, create an illusion of reality in an otherwise unrealistic scene.  There are car crashes, shootouts, and explosions, and they all look pretty cool.  While not a costume film (big dresses, fancy suits), the costume department did a great job dressing everyone look like you would expect them to be dressed in their roles.

Overall this was a great film, and if you are a fan of stupid guy humor then this film is for you.  .  If you are offended by strong language then I would recommend that you steer clear of this movie though.

I rate this film four out of five smiley Mike heads since it is very well written and never predictable.  It was a bit too stupid humor though for me to rate it five smiley Mike heads.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Movie Review - Seven Psychopaths

This is the first movie that I have seen where the name is exactly what the movie is about.  The film is Seven Psychopaths.  The premise is quite simple, everyone in this movie has issues.

The acting in this film is really exceptional.  Christopher Walken, is a psychopath in every role he has ever played, so he is perfect for this movie.  Christopher Walken plays Hans.  Hans seems like another ordinary guy when we meet him, with the exception that he is a dog kidnapper.  Although as the film unfolds you start to learn more about Hans and his troubled past.

Collin Farrell plays Marty, Marty is an alcoholic writer who is struggling to keep his relationship with his girlfriend.  Marty is writing a screenplay called Seven Psychopaths.  His best friend Billy is trying his worst helping Marty to finish his screenplay.

Sam Rockwell plays Billy.  Billy who turns out is the real protagonist of the movie.  He is like that one annoying guy you sometimes hang out with who doesn't have the best social skills and always has awkward things to say.  He means well but is a bit misguided, and as the film progresses you find out how misguided he really is.

As Marty discusses the screenplay there are cut-scenes that play out his narrative.  It is a clever device used in the film to progress the story line.  The film does a wonderful job of taking the stereotypical action, tough guy movie and changing it up a bit.  There were many scenes where you think you know what is coming, but it doesn't work out quite the way you expected.  The film is very well written, and keeps you guessing all the way up to the end.  Speaking of the ending is was a surprisingly good ending for a movie of this nature.  In the end the characters get run through the ringer, but they learn from these experiences.

There are some really great sets in this film as well and the cinematography is nothing short of stunning.  The scenes filmed in the desert are almost like moving artwork.  The special effects are pretty good, even though there are some that are a bit cheesy.  Of course the cheesy effects are done that way on purpose, to illustrate a point.  Overall it was very well produced and filmed.  It was very fun to watch with pretty scenes and interesting characters, all written so wonderfully dysfunctional.

This film is fairly graphic, but it isn't for mere shock value, it is needed to tell the story.  There are a few scenes where the film flashes back to tell someone's story which get a touch disturbing.  Despite these scenes it is still very enjoyable to watch.  If you are a fan of movies that make you think a little bit, and blood and guts doesn't upset you too much, I would highly recommend this film for your viewing pleasure.

Overall this film was excellent, with a few minor bumps in the road along the way.  I am going to give this film four smiley Mike heads for originality and great acting.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Movie Review - Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengence

I saw a making of for this movie before it released into the theatre.  They talked about how they were doing innovative shots with hand held cameras.  After having watched the film I would translate that to mean low budget.  The film is Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengence.

I am certainly glad I didn't watch this film in HD.  Everything I have seen in HD makes me a touch queasy when the camera moves, pans or tilts.  This camera in this film almost never stops moving.  There are entirely too many tight shots where the film would have benefited from having a stationary camera.

While the acting was pretty good overall, even for the relatively unknown actors in the film, the poor writing and shaky cameras made this film really feel much less like a sequel to the amazing first Ghost Rider film with Nicolas Cage and more like a B-Movie rip off.  While I will admit I liked some of the special effects in this film better, effects alone don't make a movie.  In fact given the overall poor quality of the script I'm surprised that Nicolas Cage even agreed to be in this film.

There was a really bad scene where you first see Ghost Rider.  He rides into the middle of a gang of bad guys and takes his sweet ass time getting off his motorcycle and stands there posing while the bad guys stare at him.  Perhaps you should, I don't know, kill them or something.  It gets worse, once he manages to get his hands on one of the bad guys he proceeds to do what appears to be the penance stare in this close up shot with the bad guy.  What it feels like is Ghost Rider's attempt to kill the guy with his bad breath.  The scene is just way too long, kudos to the actor playing the bad guy for his performance, however he should have died much sooner.  Not to mention if he was performing the penance stare his eyes never turned all ashen like in the first movie.

The film goes on in pretty much this same manner, there is no real transition between any of the scenes.  It feels like the location scout said, "Hey I found all these cool locations" and the writers said "hey, lets write a reason for them to go there into the story."  In the end I just wanted the film to be over.  Who cares if the bad guys wins just put me out of my misery.

Near the end of the film there is a chase scene just as the sun is starting to rise.  Of course you are expecting that the Ghost Rider will be banished by the light.  They film it all dramatic like the good guy are going to lose, yet  Ghost Rider walks out into the daylight and chases after the bad guy on his bike.  Did I miss something? I'm pretty sure that Ghost Rider cannot ride in the daylight.  They established this in the first film, and even hint at it in the beginning of this film.  Apparently shooting a cool scene is more important then sticking to the rules of your own universe.

If you are a sucker for super hero movies and you don't mind a sub par flick then this might just be for you.  While I did enjoy a few scenes, and there were a few special effects that were really well done, this is just a case where the sum of the parts does not make the whole great. 

I rate this film three smiley Mike heads, it wasn't great, but I have seen much worse films.  Perhaps you should watch this film first and then the original, you will be much less disappointed that way.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Movie review - The Dark Knight Rises

It has been six movies and over a month since my last post to my movie review blog.  I figured if the Dark Knight could rise, so could Baatezuu, to write a review for this film.  The movie of course is The Dark Knight Rises.

This film truly tells a story, it is not simply a bunch of spectacular action scenes tied together with a thin string like other superhero movies have been.  Like The Dark Knight before it this film feels much longer than it really is.  There is so much going on that you really feel like you are living through it with the characters.  This film however doesn't have the same creepy overtone that The Dark Knight seemed to have.  Christopher Nolan has done an amazing job throughout this trilogy making the mythos of Batman believable, and fresh.  The story really comes to life on screen for all of us to experience.

The acting is amazing, Christian Bale's performance as Bruce Wayne is phenomenal, he really brings an emotional pain to the character.  Christian's performance as Batman was pretty good as well.  This is a hard feat to accomplish too, others have tried in the past and only one has succeeded in playing both roles equally well.  Batman actually has more dialogue in this movie than any of the other films in this trilogy.

The always beautiful Anne Hathaway as Selina Kyle (Catwoman).  Not the person that I would have expected them to cast in this role; however she was amazing in her performance.  She brought a great strength to the character that was really needed to make her feel genuine.  She was the yin to Batman's yang, willing to do what he wasn't to get the job done.  Her moral flexibility certainly made Selina a much darker character then Batman was.  In the end of the film she felt much like the character of Han Solo in Star Wars.  Not used to playing as a team, and conflicted between doing what's right and saving herself.

There is such a strong cast of supporting characters in this film.  Their stellar performances really draws you into the film and make you feel like you are apart of the city.  My short list of amazing actors is as follows; Gary Oldman as Commissioner Gordan; Tom Hardy as Bane; Morgan Freeman as Lucius Fox; Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Blake; and Michael Caine as Alfred.  The actors in this list were simply fabulous at portraying their characters in a believable and realistic fashion.  The emotion they put into their roles was well worth watching.

Unlike the last time we saw Bane on the big screen, this character was very much a proper villain.  Plotting, scheming, and even outsmarting Batman along the way.  This film really does the character of Bane justice on the big screen.

The costumes of course were amazing.  I was perhaps most impressed with that of Selina Kyle's cat burglar costume.  You can tell that much thought was put into its creation.  Sexy but functional, it was never too revealing but every part seemed to serve a purpose, right down to her heels that she was wearing.  She had goggles on that when flipped back on top of her head looked very much like cat ears.  I found this to be a very clever trick of the costume.  Considering this trilogy has seemed to completely rethink things like the Batman costume and vehicles this only seems fitting for Catwoman.

This film has seemed to really expand on the events of the last two movies in a truly unexpected way.  This really neatly tied up the story arc while simultaneously leaving things open for the imagination to wander in new directions.  Christopher Nolan is a true master of his art, having co-authored the screenplay with his brother Jonathan Nolan, produced, and directed this film.

I rate this film five out of five smiley Mike heads.  If you are at all interested in superhero movies, or if you simply like a good action movie, then this one is for you.