Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Mini movie review: Pacific Rim

This is all you need to know plotwise about Pacific Rim:  On a future Earth, a chasm has opened in the Pacific Ocean, releasing gigantic alien monsters ("kaiju") from another dimension to decimate the world's coastal cities.  After fighting ineffectively against these creatures with traditional weapons, the people of Earth united to build gigantic combat robots ("jaegers"), each piloted by two mind-melded humans.  It is a last ditch effort with the remaining jaegers to close the chasm because the kaiju are getting bigger and smarter and they're showing up more often - the humans are at the end of their tether.

This is what you need to know otherwise:  The cast is decent, with the pretty Charlie Hunnam as one of the jaeger pilots, Idris Elba as the jaeger fleet commander, Charlie Day as a spastic scientist (who pretty much steals every scene he's in) and Ron Perlman as a thug running the black market for kaiju parts.  Hunnam is a total cutie-pie, by the way.  Yes, the dialogue can be cheesy but, really, you're not there for the dialogue - you're there to see giant robots fighting giant monsters and on that front, the flick delivers.  Both monsters and robots are exquisitely designed and rendered, and even though the nonstop large scale destruction does get a little exhausting after a while, writer/director Guillermo del Toro shoots the action in such a way that you can actually see the action.  I really, really liked it for what it was.

I don't understand why Pacific Rim hasn't been doing better: it is exactly the kind of brainless movie fun that summer calls for.  Even if it doesn't have big name recognition with its actors, it's still ROBOTS VS. MONSTERS and that should be all anyone needs to know.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Mini movie review: The Dark Knight Rises

Talk about movies that are too long!  I was shifting in my seat on the couch l  o  n  g  before The Dark Knight Rises was over and I can't imagine having been trapped in a theater seat for the duration.  This movie is by far the gloomiest and dourist of the Christopher Nolan Batman trilogy, redeemed (just barely) by the hopeful scenes at the very end (which I'm not going to discuss in any sort of detail because everyone else on the planet has already seen this movie and knows what I'm talking about).  I was disappointed that there was hardly any Batman in it at all.  Bain doesn't have the charisma the Joker had - although who could, really? - and a lot of his dialogue was unintelligible due to the face-concealing, voice-distorting mask.  Anne Hathaway's Catwoman wasn't as terrible as I expected but is clearly inferior to Michelle Pfeiffer's iconic iteration.  I did like the mini-Inception reunion with Joseph Gordon-Leavitt and Cillian Murphy; I find it fun when directors return to the same well of actors for different films.  In all, TDKR is a decent entry into this trilogy, and it left me wondering what will happen next, with Christian Bale and Nolan saying they're out for good.  The Dark Knight is far and away the best of the three, however, and practically untouchable as far as costumed superhero movies go.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Mini movie review: Ted

Ted is another over-long movie that got a resounding "meh" from Mr. Mouse and me.  Mark Wahlberg is kidding himself if he thinks he can pass for 35 years old at this point, which was pretty distracting.  The animation for the Ted-bear was quite good and Wahlberg did do a great job of acting against it.  Mr. Mouse has stated for the record that every movie would be vastly improved with the addition of Mila Kunis - and she was certainly a bright spot in this one.  Joel McHale brought some good, douche-y fun too.  I think both Mr. Mouse and I just expected Ted to be a lot funnier than we found it to be.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Mini movie review: Inception

I very much enjoy Christopher Nolan's thinky thrillers - Memento, The Prestige, The Dark Knight - and I expected to love Inception.  Well, I liked Inception, and I suppose the more I think about it the more I like it, but I didn't love it.  I loved the story concept - manipulation of people's dreams - and thought it was executed very well.  The movie was well-cast too although it could have used a couple more moments of humor like Joseph Gordon Leavitt's impish kiss with Ellen Page.  But I found it to be overlong and may have dozed off right in the middle of it, just for a very short while but long enough that I didn't really understand what JGL was up to, wiring explosives all over his second level dream location.  Still, Inception is head and shoulders above what passes for most mainstream Hollywood thriller/action flicks and well worth your time, if you don't mind having to use your brain a bit while watching a movie.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Mini book review: Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

Boy, was I ever late to the party on Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn.  I didn't get around to reading it until just about a month ago when my work neighbor Spencer recommended it to me.  Since everyone in the world has already read it, let me just add my puny $0.02 worth here.  Gone Girl is an incredibly well plotted, fast moving, captivating page turner of a novel, featuring two of the least reliable and twisted narrators you'll find. For the longest time, I couldn't decide which of them I liked least - but in a good way.  The main characters are self involved, manipulative, borderline sociopaths and Flynn makes every second with them a great read.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Mini book review: Out of Sight by Elmore Leonard

Whilst on a recent vacation trip with my family, I swiped Elmore Leonard's Out of Sight from my dad once he had finished reading it.  I'd seen the George Clooney/Jennifer Lopez movie quite some time ago but had never read the book - hell, I don't think I've ever read any Elmore Leonard before, although I do tend to enjoy the movie/television adaptations of his work (love Justified!!!).  Someone who has read more of his stuff should tell me: how does Out of Sight stack up with his other books?

It took me a while to get into the rhythms of his writing and the dialogue, and the prose is a little too spare for my taste (I like words and lots of them, a la Stephen King, George R.R. Martin, Neil Gaiman, etc.).  I also had some trouble keeping the scenes from the movie out of my head while reading and may need to see the film again to see how it compares.  In a nutshell, Out of Sight is a quick read, an efficient little caper novel, but it didn't make me want to run right out and pick up another Elmore Leonard right away.