Sunday, April 25, 2010

The Losers

We are getting 3 versions of the same movie this year and I have absolutely no issue with that. The Losers clocks in first in the badass mercenaries genre and sets the bar quite high for The A-Team and The Expendables later this summer. No one may end up seeing it but that is their loss.

The Losers is another in what seems like an unending line of variable quality comic book adaptations. Like many of the others, this was one of the better stories in the past decade so at least the source material was of high quality. The movie only uses the first book in the series so some of the stranger plot twists don’t have to be dealt with. The key point is that none of the characters are significantly altered in any way in fact most of them are damn close to the book.

The standout performance, in a nice foreshadowing for the future, was by Chris Evans. The future Captain America dominated every single second of his screen time. Jensen may have been the comic relief but Evans just went all out. The “Don’t Stop Believing” scene is quite simply the greatest use of Journey in movie history. Coming in right behind Evans is Columbus Short as Pooch. Pooch is one of the only noticeable changes made and that is just the common Hollywood idea of taking a character who is much older and turning him into a young man. No matter, Short has turned into a dependable actor since that masterpiece Stomp the Yard. And of course there was Stringer. Ah Idris Elba you will forever have a free pass to show up in whatever you damn well please. And once again Zoe Saldana is ridiculously hot.

When I turn my brain off, The Losers is exactly the type of movie that I want to see. Slick action, great characters, and constant hilarious one-liners. Please make some money so they might make more?

9 out of 10


So after a long wait Kick-Ass was finally released to the world and it was damn near exactly as I expected. Luckily I had extremely high expectations and was gifted with a movie that I will watch every single time it shows up on cable. There were points where I thought this may have been the perfect action movie … it wasn’t but there were moments.

No more shying away from the most important part of Kick-Ass, Chloe Moretz is this movie pure and simple. Once Hit Girl is introduced it became a game of waiting until she was onscreen again. Every single second was a highlight reel. From Big Daddy shooting her to show her what feels like, to all of the hilariously inappropriate profanity, to the 25+ bodies she racks up. Her fight scenes have already earned their place in my all-time favorites. They even accomplished making the first person perspective video game look work for one of the scenes. I wouldn’t want a whole movie in that style but for a couple of minutes it was fun. I'm not saying she should get the Best Supporting Actress but her name should be thrown into the discussion.

There were no bad performances here. Aaron Johnson was able to make Kick-Ass believable, while Nic Cage went the other way and made Big Daddy damn near insane. He shifted from this really goofy loving dad into a fricking Adam West impersonation when in costume. Mark Strong was his usual standout self by mixing actual menace with some great moments of humor. McLovin is McLovin and he excels at it. One of the minor characters who deserves mention is Clark Duke. He improved every scene he was in just be giving a look.

Matthew Vaughn only has three movies to his credit but that is all it has taken for me to want as the director of any movie I am looking forward to. His choices for Kick-Ass were damn near perfect. He was able to keep the tone serious enough that the whole thing never became ridiculous but it was still constantly funny. And all of the soundtrack choices were phenomenal, they just enhanced the awesomeness of Hit Girl in action. I can't see what he moves onto next.

If it weren't for the jetpack, I may have thought about giving Kick-Ass a perfect score. No worries though, it got the job done. I do feel bad for people that can't get past what Hit Girl does in the movie. From everything I've been able find out, this actually isn't real and Chloe Moretz only killed about 3 people on set.

9 out of 10

Clash of the Titans

Screw you Hollywood! Within 30 days you have completely destroyed any desire I had to see movies in the third dimension. I will pay whatever it costs to see movies in the theater because I love it so, but this naked cash grab is so offensive that I might have to now boycott future movies if I can’t see them on regular screens. That is just the long way of saying that Clash of the Titans had nothing to offer me but a pain on the bridge of my nose when I finally took the glasses off.

Hey I like monsters and I like Greek mythology but sometimes that is not enough to sustain my interest. Believe me, I’ve seen cheaper looking movies so it wasn’t that the Kraken looked lame or the giant scorpions were laughable instead it just felt unnecessary. Nothing new was brought to the table, you knew who was going to die, you knew when they were going to die, and you knew the final outcome before the story even got in gear. And that is not because of Harry Hamlin because I don’t even remember the original Clash of the Titans. Worse of all, you can’t botch the final confrontation because it skews the whole movie and that is exactly what happened here. Everything was building to Perseus’ battle with Hades and when it finally happened it was over before it even started.

What a waste of Liam Neeson, Ralph Fienes, and Mads Mikkelsen time. Liam stood around in his blurry armor and spoke in his Narnia god-voice. That’s it. Voldemort is easily the better Ralph Fiennes super villain. And this is the best Hollywood role Mads could get after being a Bond villain? I have nothing bad to say about Sam Worthington he is completely serviceable as the everyman blockbuster movie actor. Nobody else worth mentioning.

Oh wait a second, what month is it? April? That is why Clash of the Titans, a movie that should have been a big summer blockbuster, was a complete waste of time. Still got my 3 extra bucks though...

5 out of 10

Repo Men

Can I just grade Repo Men based on the trailer? Even after all this time, a slick trailer that shows only the cool shit can easily sway me. Well then I saw the movie and it doesn’t hold up at all. I feel conned.

I’m not sure what I was expecting from Repo Men, but I’m fairly certain I didn’t get it. The action was slick even if they stole the hallway fight scene from Old Boy. Badass Jude Law and Forest Whitaker were amusing. Live Schreiber had an amusing accent and RZA had a sweet afro. But the big plot twist was more annoying than a revelation and the whole movie does not hold up to a closer inspection. I get that it is one those let’s show how shitty our world is by taking things to the extreme in the future movies, and I’m sure that’s the exact name of the genre, but it was not enough. They jumped straight to their big idea of repossessing artificial organs instead of making sure the whole thing made any sense. To get really nitpicky Remy loses his heart in the line of duty but he still has to pay for the artificial heart? Did the rights of employees disappear in this weird future? Where was the repo men union when he needed them?

The goriness of Repo Men became downright hilarious by the climatic scene. I know I’m supposed to chalk everything up to the idea that it’s the future! Shut up and believe what you are seeing! But they are just cutting bodies and reaching their whole arm into people innards. This is the accepted practice? Where is the anesthetic? Are those tools clean? No one survives what happens in that final scene.

Ah well, not all movies get the job done. Repo Men had a bunch of people I love seeing in film, but was not able to give them anything worthwhile to do with their skills. Maybe the next dystopian future will be better.

6 out of 10

Brooklyn's Finest

Well, what would you do if every movie you make since Training Day was a different level of failure? Brooklyn’s Finest is Antoine Fuqua’s return to the world of dirty cops; he ups the ante by having three of them this time around. Yet I don’t see Denzel anywhere and without his sheer force of will, the movie has no way to distinguish itself from every other corrupt cop story.

Maybe following three different cops going down three different roads to corruption was not the best way to spend a couple of hours. Brooklyn’s Finest ended up being a damn depressive movie. It went beyond the deaths of major characters; all the choices being made were so brutal that it was shocking that anyone survived when the credits rolled. Because of how dark the storylines were, the deaths of each major character were not shocking in the slightest. Instead it was just another sigh and shake of the head. I’m unsure why Ellen Barkin’s character had to be such a caricature of a bitch, or why Ethan Hawke needed sooooo much money for a down payment on a house (was he trying to buy 50 Cent’s house in Farmington?), or why Richard Gere was so suicidal, but all it did was foreshadow every character’s downfall.

Even with the weakness of the tone of the film, Brooklyn’s Finest had many actors doing some fine work. It’s always nice to see Don Cheadle in the forefront of a film. He definitely had the standout performance as the undercover cop who just can’t get out. Plus he got to work opposite the best Wesley Snipes role in over a decade. I get that Snipes still thinks he is an A-list action star but it was nice to see him show up as an actual character in a legit movie for once. The same thing I wrote about Ethan Hawke in Daybreakers can be said here; he always is playing another version of tortured. Ellen Barkin looks weird.

I usually really love movies like Brooklyn's Finest but something was off this time around. The whole thing never really came together and the depressing darkness just colored the whole damn movie.

7 out of 10

Green Zone

Awww … can’t I just get another Bourne movie? Green Zone was in no way a bad movie but it was just another combat in the Middle East story. It looked and felt like a Bourne movie with a weak plot and an agenda. No matter how hard they try, these movies always feel like I’m being preached to.

There were positives to Green Zone. The casting alone made this movie worthwhile. Matt Damon fits right in to these roles as the righteous man trying to expose injustice. I compared this to Bourne but outside of the similar skill sets, Miller was much more of a soldier who actually spoke in full sentences and got his ass kicked from time to time. The other major characters were all populated with talented actors like Brendan Gleeson, Amy Ryan, Greg Kinnear, and Jason Isaacs. Isaacs even grew a sweet fu manchu mustache for the occasion … thank you for that. Along with the cast, Greengrass’s style is perfect for whenever action gets frantic. And since the majority of Green Zone is Damon chasing after someone, the movie just flies by.

If you can just turn you mind off and just enjoy the ride, Green Zone is a solid wartime action movie. But if you want to be engrossed in the plot, look elsewhere. None of the revelations were strong, the identity of Magellan was obvious, Kinnear’s shady government bureaucrat was nothing more than the standard shady government bureaucrat, and worse of all the shock at the climax was telegraphed to the point where I just wanted it to happen so we could move on. On top of all that is just my general unease with sitting there and getting taught about the evils of American actions in the Middle East. Can we at least wait until this is a historical event and not a current event?

Green Zone was a completely serviceable soldiers in action movie. But when it's Matt Damon and Paul Greengrass it should be more than that. Well, that's why some movies come out in March.

7 out of 10

Alice in Wonderland

From this point forward, I’m gonna need a new sliding scale when rating 3D movies. Unless the 3D actually enhances the experience, when I get robbed for an extra three bucks, these movies will automatically get docked a point. At normal price Alice in Wonderland would have been one of the better Tim Burton films but they mugged me for a few extra bucks and this is my only payback.

It would probably have helped if I had read the book somewhere in the last couple of decades but I have not so any changes made to the plot flew right over my head. In fact, the whole point was that Alice was much older and everything had changed and blah blah blah. So it was supposed to be a where are they now and look at the destruction caused by the Red Queen sequel. All very amusing if the story of Alice in Wonderland is not some sort of sacred text to you.

This was a Tim Burton movie so of course there was Johnny Depp. Now it would have been difficult, but not impossible, for Johnny to portray Alice. Instead he gets the other iconic role of the Mad Hatter which is just exactly as it should be. What I’m saying is that this was in no way a stretch. Still fun to watch him create something weird. Part two; this was a Tim Burton movie so of course there was Helena Bonham Carter. She may have even outweirded Johnny in this one. Her Red Queen was the highlight of the movie, just pure insanity. Mia Wasikowska was fine as Alice but aging her to late teens took away some of the fun of having the young girl experiencing such a strange world. Good voice work from Stephen Fry, Alan Rickman, and others rounded out the performances.

Let's just finish by saying that the 3D effects were pointless. I don't remember a single scene that was improved by being brought to me in the third dimension. This new Hollywood cash grab is fricking offensive.

8 out of 10