Chappie (2015)

chappie.jpg

Chappie is about Chappie the gangsta conscious robot from Johannesburg. He learns to walk, talk, fire guns, beat the shit out of people and most importantly… he learns to love. I absolutely love this robot. He’s voiced by Sharlto Copley who was the lead in District 9 which was directed by the same director and also took place in Johannesburg. It must be the guy’s accent because even in District 9 he had me cracking up. Something about the way he swears gets me every time and this movie is no exception. The way he swears, calls Yolandi and Ninja mommy and daddy, and his childlike innocence was just hilarious to me and I was thoroughly entertained by him. The shootout at the end was a little cheesy with the slow motion yelling, but I did enjoy how they left enough time to really feel the emotion of the scene. Not to mention, the special effects were pretty damn good in this movie. There were times when I wasn’t sure whether I was watching a real prop robot or a CG one and I loved that.

While I just loved watching the scenes with Chappie in it, I absolutely hated the scenes with Deon. I hate the stereotype that all programmers have to chug red bull to keep coding through the night. You’re going to tell me some mid 20s kid wrote the code for perfect consciousness all by himself by chugging some red bull? Like please… there are teams of people with scientific backgrounds that still haven’t been able to do it. I find this so annoyingly unrealistic that it made me mad enough not to want to watch the rest of the movie. To put a rotten cherry on top of that sundae, he brings his new found AI to the boss lady and explains it as a robot that can learn to write poetry and paint. Seriously? That’s your best pitch? How about that you discovered consciousness which in itself can be very useful in military and police applications, but if not for that then to harness and sell for a lot of money. Not the most moral of applications, but I find it impossible to believe someone can just discard this discovery. She won’t even give him a garbage robot to do his little experiments on. It’s an incredibly clumsy way for Deon to be able to power up Chappie in private without the company knowing about it.

This is a hard movie for me to recommend or even rate because my brain knows that the plot was sort of weak and it wasn’t the best made movie… but my heart can’t get enough of that robot. This verdict comes down based on pure entertainment value. I think it’s a movie I would watch again. I’d just maybe skip over the first 20 or so minutes.

Verdict: 7/10 No! You don’t use guns!

Advertisements

Catching Up

It’s been quite a while since I wrote anything here. I haven’t felt the desire to really put my thoughts about what I’m watching into words. Not to say I haven’t watched things lately that weren’t worth writing about. I’ve slowed down a lot on movies, but I’ve watched some great TV Shows. I’ll do another quick fire of things I’ve watched recently to get my juices flowing. Then the next movie I plan to watch, At Once, will hopefully have something worth writing a full post about.

The Newsroom (2012)

This is a TV Show that aired on HBO for 2.5 seasons. I watched the first episode and was hooked. I actually couldn’t make myself stop watching it. I watched the first season and a half in just 2 days. I thought the premise to try and run a news broadcast that focuses on the news and not ratings was interesting because I hate watching the news for that exact reason. I immediately fell in love with the ideas, the characters and the dialogue. I’m a fan of the fast talking sarcastic quips they do fairly often. I laughed a lot and ended up caring about almost every character on the show. Season 2 was brilliantly laid out and made it so I had no choice but to keep watching. They start off somewhere in the middle of the season’s plot and then fill in the pieces with each episode until you’re caught up. I watched the first episode and just had to know what could’ve possibly happened that was so bad. Season 3 took a little bit of a dive with the first 2 episodes feeling dull, and the series finale wasn’t bad but it also wasn’t that great. If they were able to do a full last season and finish it off stronger I would have given it a perfect score. It’s definitely worth a watch, just make sure you have a couple hours set aside cause you won’t be able to watch just one episode.

Verdict: 9(.5)/10 


carolCarol (2016)

I absolutely loved this movie, it’s now one of my favorites and is on my regular re-watch list. I’ve seen it twice and am probably going to go for a 3rd watch soon. Maybe tonight because writing about it makes me want to see it again. It was so beautiful and restrained, nothing felt forced or unrealistic. It was slow but it sucked me in completely. Carol is kind, sophisticated and knows what she wants. There is something about her that just draws you in and it’s easy to see how Therese felt drawn to her. The movie had ups and downs that kept me emotionally invested and I felt so much throughout the entire movie. That feeling of thinking you found something special and then having it ripped away from you is devastating. I don’t want to say too much on the plot cause I think not knowing how it turns out really amplifies every decision the characters make and leaves you in suspense. It’s one of my top favorite romance movies and 100% recommend it.

Verdict: 9/10


hushHush (2016)

This is a horror movie where the main protagonist is both deaf and mute. I’ve never seen anything like it before in my life. As far as thriller/horror movies go, this is one of the most suspenseful and thrilling ones I’ve seen. I really wanted the main character, Maddie, to succeed and get out of there alive. Every scene is straight out of all the other horror movies out there, but it’s elevated to a new level when we know she can’t hear anything. He could be coming up behind her and she would never know it. When she’s trying to be quiet walking on the roof, she doesn’t know if she’s making lots of noise or not. That unknown makes it all the more suspenseful. Not to mention the fact that they inject some realism into the story with her not being able to load the crossbow.  Great, she got a weapon, but she’s still just a regular person and didn’t immediately become some badass who can shoot a man with a crossbow from across the room. Not that I don’t love that, but when I don’t have to suspense my disbelief as much, I enjoy movies a lot more. This one is on Netflix and is definitely worth the time.

Verdict: 9/10


10_cloverfiled_lane.jpg10 Cloverfield Lane (2016)

As I was writing my other reviews, I realized a common actor among them–John Gallagher Jr.. He was in the Newsroom, Hush and in this review’s movie, 10 Cloverfield Lane. This is a “sequel but not really” to Cloverfield which I liked a lot when it came out. I didn’t know much about the movie before I started watching it and felt myself getting frustrated wondering when the Cloverfield things were going to start happening. So much so, that I almost couldn’t finish the movie because I thought it was crap and a waste of time. So I paused it, went over to IMDb and realized that it’s a standalone movie that merely exists in the same universe as the other. Once I understood that, it became a lot better of a movie. It was suspenseful and mysterious. I kept going back and forth in my mind wondering if John Goodman was telling the truth or if he was lying to keep her imprisoned. If it were me in that situation, I wouldn’t want to believe him because all I could think is that I’d end up as some idiot who was tricked into living in a bunker for 10 years. Momma didn’t raise no fool, so I really felt her predicament. On the flip side,  I’m really crushing on John Gallagher Jr. now. He was so sweet in this movie as Emmett and in the Newsroom. Ok sure, he was like a serial killer in Hush… but he was also in Short Term 12 which was an equally amazing movie. It all balances out in the end and I loved his character in this movie. When Emmett, let’s just say, was no longer part of the movie my jaw hit the floor. I love when movies have balls and just shock me with a plot decision. Overall, this was a really cool standalone movie that I will definitely re-watch.

Verdict: 8/10


And lastly, one sentence verdicts on some of the other movies I feel deserve a shout out.

10.000 km (2014) – Another great romance movie, except the characters start out in love and the movie progresses from there. Verdict: 8/10

Victoria (2015) – A 2h 18m movie all done in 1 continuous shot with strong characters and plot. Verdict: 7/10

Moulin Rouge! (2001) – A loud, obnoxious, annoying movie with weak characters and plot. Verdict: 5/10

Ant-Man (2015) – Pretty boring super hero movie that was lacking something that I just can’t put my finger on. Verdict: 5/10

Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961) – Great movie but needs a re-cut without the Mr. Yunioshi scenes… Verdict: 8/10

 

The Maltese Falcon & Citizen Kane (1941)

There was a time before I started my crazy journey where I couldn’t sit through a black and white movie. Now, I’m starting to almost like them more than colour. Maybe it gives my mind something to work for by trying to fill in the colour blanks… maybe it’s simply the style of film that happened to be around during the black and white period. Who can really say for sure? Regardless, I took a double dip into 1941 today and watched 2 black and white classics.

the_maltese_falcon

The first is The Maltese Falcon, a film-noir about a private detective who gets caught up in the middle of some murders and a statue of a bird. I’d say I’ve really enjoyed about 50% of the film-noir’s I’ve seen. This movie fits right in because I enjoyed about 50% of it. I liked the beginning up to about half way then I started to lose interest. I’m not a huge fan of the film-noirs that in the last 10 minutes have the main character figure out the entire mystery. It’s kind of like most of the movie is just to entertain then at the end they go “Ok, so here’s what happened if you were still interested.” It just seems like lazy writing to me that they feel the need to explain everything at the very end, instead of giving us pieces of information throughout the movie so that maybe we could piece it together ourselves. Or, they could’ve had Spade talk more about his theory a little earlier. The bottom line is that this was just alright for me and that’s really all I have to say about it… it’s time to move on to something a little different.

Orson Welles standing on stacks of newspapers in a scene from the film 'Citizen Kane', 1941. (Photo by RKO Radio Pictures/Getty Images)

The second movie I watched is what some consider the greatest movie ever made. Yeah, you know the one… Citizen Kane. How can I even go about discussing a movie with this kind of reputation? Well, I’m reminded of a post I read where someone mentioned how they never met anyone who legitimately liked this movie and could answer the question “What did you like about it?” without regurgitating lines about cinematography from articles or reviews. So that is exactly what I’ll do. Here is why I liked Citizen Kane, regurgitating only lines from my own brain.

The pacing and execution of the story was, for the lack of a better word, rhythmic. It was like being caught in wave after wave of exquisite storytelling. The movie starts off (after the whole Rosebud scene of course) with a really broad summary of Kane’s life–this is the bottom of the wave. The reporters read from his father’s memoirs which gives them a run down of his life from when he was a child. We get more details that flesh out the initial summary that was given, like how Kane got his wealth and how he got started in the newspaper–this is the top of the wave. As the memoirs go on, the details start becoming more vague–bottom of the wave again. The reporters then go talk to his friend who knew him at the paper and we find out some of the details behind the headlines we saw while we were on the last wave–back to the top of the wave. Near the end of this one, we get some vague details about Kane and his opera theater–brought down once again. Finally, the reporters go and talk to Kane’s ex-wife who fills us in on the details about the opera theater–brought right back up. After her story, we are suddenly thrown from the top of the wave when we hear the reported at Kane’s house say that we may never know just what Rosebud means. Just as suddenly, we’re picked up and taken to the top of the final wave in the very last shot of the sleigh on fire. Any movie that manages to leave me at the top of a wave will keep my brain thinking after the credits have rolled and that’s usually a very good thing.

However, story alone does not make a movie great… so it’s a good thing this one also had some pretty good dialogue, acting and camera work. My favorite line is from Kane’s father, “He thinks it’d be fun to run a newspaper…” Why is that my favorite? I guess because I wasn’t expecting it and it made me laugh. When he delivers it, he breaks the fourth wall and stares right into the camera at me. My favorite moment of acting is after Kane’s speech when he is talking to Emily in the car. She asks him if he will come with her to see his “mistress” and he doesn’t say anything right away, but you can see it in his face. You know how they say acting is about action and reaction? This is a great reaction… you can read the scene right off their faces, no words are even needed. He’s thinking “Oh shit,  the jig is up.” and she’s thinking “You asshole, get in this car right now… I know what you did.” Finally, my favorite shot will have to be when the camera starts on the roof of the El Rancho and zooms in through the sign then looks down through the glass roof and transitions into the interior of the building all in one mostly fluid shot. It was one of the shots that stood out for me and was pretty nice for 1941.

I can’t lie and say I was exactly looking forward to watching this movie, but I have to say it more than lived up to it’s reputation and some day in the future I think I will watch it again. The Maltese Falcon, not so much.

The Maltese Falcon Verdict: 7/10

Citizen Kane Verdict: 9/10

Back and Bigger and Badder than Ever!

Ok well maybe a slight exaggeration there… I’m back and the same as ever. It’s been awhile since my last post and I’ve watched many movies (27 to be exact) since then, but haven’t been able to find the words to review them. Fear not, my ability to put thoughts into words has returned! I will be rapid firing off some short, quick reviews of the movies I’ve watched that I can still remember well enough.

Casablanca (1942)

casablanca I think this is the one that broke my blog writing spirit. Such a classic, but honestly not very enjoyable for me. It suffered too much from a case of unbelievable romance. For a movie in the romance genre, if I’m not buying it… I’m not enjoying it.

Verdict: 7/10 Meh


 Ex Machina (2015)

ex_machinaOn the other hand, this is the one that almost re-invigorated my blog writing spirit. I was looking forward to this one since I saw the trailer, and it did not disappoint. I loved every minute of it. That house was beautiful and the story was very intriguing. I’m a huge sucker for these sci-fi movies and with AI in general, so it really hit home for me. The implications of the ending completely blew my mind and made me look twice at every one I pass on the street. Who really knows? I sure don’t! For all I know, you’re a robot scanning the internet for information to one day enslave the human race. And for all you know, I’m a robot who literally lost their ability to put words into thoughts and was out getting repairs this entire time.

Verdict: 9/10 I’m keeping an eye on you…


The Imitation Game (2014)

imitation_gameAnother of the movies I was looking forward to. Sadly, in this case, it did disappoint. It disappointed hardcore. If they gave an award for most anti-climactic movie, this one would definitely be in the running. It just ended… that’s it. The pacing was way off and it was hard for me to stay interested in it. It was another of those movies with scenes that are tossed in because they need to quickly advance the plot. For example, Turing’s girlfriend, Joan, gets in a fight with him and tells him he is wasting his time. He will never solve the problem. This shows us that there is some turmoil in the relationship. That is a great little scene to toss in, but then immediately after this he asks her to marry him. If they were going to show us problems in their relationship only to have them instantly be mended, what was the point? Either split that scene up and sprinkle that seed of relationship doubt throughout other scenes, or ignore it completely and just have them be “happy”.

Verdict: 7/10 Needs to come with a free extra large coffee


Pitch Black (2000)

I knew exactly what I was getting into when I watched this movie and it actually wasn’t too bad. As an action type movie, it was interesting enough. Yeah the special effects were pretty awful, but I’ve seen a lot worse. I would recommend watching this with someone else just so you can laugh at the cheese factor together.

Verdict: 7/10 Entertaining enough


Enemy (2013)

doubleIf you’ve heard of this movie, you’ve probably also heard, “Wtf was that spider at the end?!” so I’m not going to go there. Yeah, the ending is a little weird, and the whole movie might also be a little weird, but it has a Fight Club type appeal for me. I didn’t realize what was actually happening the entire time with the whole double thing, only after I was reading posts about the movie did it finally click. I think you’re better off not really understanding the movie, then understanding it and then watching it again through a different pair of eyes. This is exactly what I plan to do at some point… until then the verdict will be pretty average, but this is an interesting little movie for sure. Jake Gyllenhaal is awesome!

Verdict: 7/10 Weird, but interesting


Honorable Mentions

Tokyo Godfathers (2003) Verdict: 8/10 Make it through the first 10-15 minutes and you’ll get into it

The Internet’s Own Boy: The Story of Aaron Swartz (2014) Verdict: 8/10 Infuriating and sad

Citizenfour (2014) Verdict: 8/10 Very interesting and informative

Still Alice (2014) Verdict: 8/10 Sad… really abrupt ending though

OXV: The Manual (2013) Verdict: 8/10 Really weird, just stick with it and it gets better and better

Rebecca (1940) Verdict: 8/10 Entertaining and likeable characters


Dishonorable Mentions

Serpico (1973) Verdict: 6/10 Bad music, slowly paced, semi-anti-climatic ending

Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984) Verdict: 6/10 Willie is one of the most annoying character I’ve watched, the rest of the movie is pretty solid though

Birdman: Or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) (2014) Verdict: 6/10 Wasn’t as good as I was expecting, might re-watch at some point

Fitzcarraldo (1982) Verdict: 5/10 Just really boring, a pain to sit through

On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969)

on_her_majestys_secret_service

A James Bond movie, how can you possibly go wrong with that? Well, the answer is simple, you sort of can by having a completely insane plot. But let me discuss something else before I go down that road because there is something positive I would like to say about this movie. Replacing Sean Connery with George Lazenby was a good move for my enjoyment. I never liked Connery as Bond, maybe it was just because of the decade it was made but he was a real jerk to women. I mean the woman says no I don’t want to have sex with you and then he pretty much does it anyways… I think that’s called rape. But he’s Bond so we let that slide I guess. Hard for me to get past that. Not to mention, I didn’t find him attractive in the least so it wasn’t believable to me that he got all those women. Lazenby was sort of weird but he was at least a likeable guy. He wasn’t as smooth and cool as the other Bonds I’ve seen though, he seemed too nice at times but then he’d throw some guy off a really tall cliff to his snowy death… there was a little give and take there. I liked the direction they were heading in this movie away from how Connery acted towards women, even if another guy did knock a woman unconscious so she would get into the helicopter.

Now to talk about something that really turned me off from this movie in the first half. Bond was undercover as a gay genealogist named Hilary and wore a kilt. Maybe in the 60s this was the epitome of suave cool manliness like Bond is supposed to be, but… uh yeah not doing it for me. The whole “I only sleep with men” thing seemed entirely unnecessary since he almost immediately slept with 2 different women on the same night he got there. Fine, I can excuse that as long as the rest of the movie is reasonably plausible. Nope, he is at a clinic that tries to cure women of their allergies. At dinner everyone was eating the food they were allergic to, like the one woman with a plate of corn on the cob or the girls that were allergic to meat, and were suggestively eating it in front of Bond. Is that supposed to be some kind of innuendo, like “look at me, I love eating meat, isn’t this so sexy?” One of the women’s reason for coming to the clinic was because she worked at a chicken farm and was allergic to chickens… did the woman allergic to corn work on a corn field too? They should have saved time by making all the women allergic to men then they’d have to eat Bond at dinner and we wouldn’t need to suffer through all that nonsense. I will say though, the idea of Bond getting married was sweet, and Lazenby was really good in those scenes. I leaked some sort of clear fluid from my eyes at the end, made a doctor’s appointment to get that checked out. I will also mention that I liked the bobsled fight scene and even some of the skiing. The green screen was obviously hilarious and fake, but still much better than a CG fight scene where you can’t even tell what’s going on.

The first half was just awful but I liked the second half more and I would have liked to see Lazenby in another movie over Connery. Connery’s Bond movies had a better story, but Lazenby was a more likeable guy. Because of the ridiculous story, I was going to give this a pretty low score but I did like that ending so I have no choice but to raise it up a little bit.

Verdict: 7/10 Needs less men named Hilary and women with chicken allergies

Cool Hand Luke (1967)

cool_hand_luke

Well it’s been awhile, the past 2 weeks have been pretty crazy and I haven’t had too much time or desire to watch or review any movies. But this is a very special post because it marks my 700th watched movie. I feel this weird mixture of pride and shame, but nonetheless it is a milestone movie. I picked carefully from my list of movies in queue and I thought I had a winner on my hands. However, for a movie so well liked, what Cool Hand Luke had was a failure to communicate with me. I faded in and out with this one and just couldn’t seem to stay invested. The biggest hurdle to me enjoying this movie was that I wasn’t too interested in the characters. Since this is mostly a character driven story revolving around Luke, I’d say that’s a problem. Luke was interesting, but everyone else I honestly couldn’t care less about. To me they were just a bunch of nameless prisoners who liked to play poker and watch a woman provocatively wash her car, both of which I am not that interested in.

There were some scenes that I really enjoyed watching, particularly the egg scene. The first time I saw this scene was on Malcolm in the Middle where Francis tried to eat 100 Peeps on a bet and I had no idea it was a spoof of this movie. The scene was entertaining enough and one of the more memorable moments in the movie. Aside from that scene, I enjoyed the last 45-ish minutes of the movie when Luke really started breaking out and getting caught. I found this is where it picked up and I became more interested in the characters. I thought the entire movie would be more like the last 45 minutes but they spent so much time building up the characters and setting the stage that it just didn’t work for me. If they had flipped the structure around and had 45 minutes of character setup and then an hour and 20 minutes of the parts I found more interesting well I think I’d be inclined to give it a better verdict than what it has now. Maybe this was one of those guy movies and I just didn’t get it.

For my 700th-movie post, I wish I had more to say. I picked a middle of the road movie where there wasn’t much that I liked and not much that I could really dive into and complain about on a high level. I have literally had this post open in my browser for 2 weeks trying to pick my brain for something even remotely intelligent to say other than “Meh.” Did I accomplish that goal? I don’t think so. Did I make it over this hurdle so I can move on to other movies? You bet!

Verdict: 7/10  Meh

Notorious (1946)

notorious

Notorious is a movie by the great Alfred Hitchcock that centers on a love triangle between a Nazi, a government agent and a somewhat alcohol dependent woman. As far as Hitchcock movies go, this wasn’t my favourite. It wasn’t bad but I just wasn’t feeling it. The romance developed between Alicia and Devlin felt rushed and half way through the movie I couldn’t really remember why they loved each other in the first place. I find with older movies they tend to rush the romances and sometimes it works while other times it doesn’t make any sense… this falls into the latter for me.

Alicia wasn’t the typical movie woman of the 40s with her drinking and sleeping around so I enjoyed watching her, but Devlin fell flat as a character. I feel like his only use in this movie was to be Alicia’s love interest; there was no development of his character. He is almost like the secondary character, while the movie was actually focused on Alicia and how she was playing Alex to get information. At the end though, they flipped it around and had the man rescue the poor woman. I would have liked it better if they cut out Devlin altogether and at the end Alicia just saves herself.

As far as the plot goes, the movie was solid. Girl seduces old boyfriend to get information on the Nazi’s then he finds out and tries to kill her. It was a good idea and aside from the problems I had with the characters and romance I liked what I saw. In particular, I liked the wine cellar scenes with the bottle smashing and Alex using the dates to find out that someone was in there. However, the fact that he only realized something was up because of the missing key kind of bothers me. I feel like having that clay key copying gadget would’ve been so useful for Alicia to just make a copy of the key instead of taking what appears to be the only one. How did she think he wouldn’t notice that? If he loves wine so much that he has a room devoted to it and meticulously organizes it by year, it’s reasonable to assume that he would visit it often enough to know his key was missing.

All in all, this movie was just average for me. I’m noticing a trend where my least favourite Hitchcock movies always seem to star Cary Grant, hopefully this will change in the future.

Verdict: 7/10 Needs more character romance development