RIP my sides
If you left the theater for This Is The End with any complaints about acting, cinematography, lighting, or any other technical aspects of film, you watched it wrong. Directed, written, and produced by Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, the film brings Rogen together with many of his past costars and basks in their own outlandish corner of the comedic universe. At its roots the movie is nothing more than a group of friends (who happen to be famous comedians) who one day decided it would be a good idea to come together to film a 106 minute-long inside joke. Luckily, they’re all beguilingly hysterical enough to, in their own specific charm, sell the film to almost anyone with the least amount of appreciation for humor.
The film’s “story” would be just okay had it been approached conventionally. Instead the actors play overdramatized versions of themselves, a simple twist that made the film as entertaining as it is. Jay Baruchel (who’s a real living actor I guess) visits his BFF Seth Rogen in Los Angeles, his least favorite place on the planet. Jay is one of those hipsters who think hating on LA is cool, but Seth Rogen forces him to attend a mansion-opening celebrity party hosted by his other BFF and common costar James Franco.
Captain Kirk to the rescue
I want to preface this very delayed review by saying I’ve never paid attention to anything involving Star Trek before I saw this movie and I was still very gripped by it. I don’t know how closely Into Darkness followed the original television series (or any of the subsequent hundred thousand spinoff series) but some of the ideas that went into this film made my brain pop like a physically strained puffer fish. From what I gathered, their organization, the USS Enterprise, protects species from extinction (whether due to natural calamity or intentional genocide) without letting said species know they exist and are meddling, or something. Breathe if I’m wrong.
This movie was good enough to compel me to watch the first of the new J. J. Abrams’d film series, so I can confidently say, after hours of research, Into Darkness picks up where its predecessor left off. Newly Captain James T. Kirk (Chris Pine), as hyperactive and controversially opinionated as ever, risks his position as captain to save half-human half-Vulcan Spock (Zachary Quinto admirably sporting a bowl cut) from the center of an exploding volcano during a mission to save a creepy race of alien and their neon-red CGI jungle. Spock is incapable of being grateful for the rescue, as the Vulcan part of him forbids any human emotion, which makes Captain Kirk vewy angwy.
Is this your card?
Oh. It isn’t?
For a movie about sly street muggers performing supposedly death-defying stunts, Louis Leterrier’s Now You See Me doesn’t play very smoothly. You may not believe your eyes when the star-studded cast and gripping story premise fail to deliver a memorable show. Or who knows, maybe you will. “The closer you are, the less you see,” Jesse Eisenberg casually mentions about a dozen times throughout the film. Maybe it’s best to squeeze in close for this one.
Cast aside, the best thing about the film is its mostly intriguing story. Four talented street-level magicians (Eisenberg as an illusionist, Isla Fisher as a daring escape artist, Dave Franco as a pickpocket, and Woody Harrelson as an intrusive mentalist) are selected by an anonymous gray hoodie’d mastermind to perform some of the world’s greatest magic as the Four Horsemen (which, if you ask me, is a #super cool name). One year after tricking tourists into paying their rent, the Horsemen are snagging millions of dollars from international banks in front of massive live audiences, drawing the attention of both adoring fans and the FBI.
A while ago I posted about my friend Alex and the music he was working on. Alex has been a huge help with this blog and I would like to repay his kindness.
His EP, titled “Scene One: Leaving” is now available to stream over at shivertheband.bandcamp.com. The EP is four songs and is building up to his upcoming full length album.
The album is an interesting mix of rock, folk, punk, and indie, so if any of those genres appeal to you, check it out!
Picking up where I left off yesterday, I will continue ranking the 16 movies I’ve seen in 2013 so far, finishing the list by ranking the only 6 good ones. If you missed the ranking for the bad list, click hurr.
By process of elimination, these are the 6 movies I would ever want to see again, in the order I saw and reviewed them:
Ranking winter-spring 2013 movies
It’s that special time of year again where I rank all the movies I’ve seen in the past few months from my least favorite to favorite. While my reviews are mostly objective (emphasis on mostly) these lists are more subjective to my personal opinions, and since my opinions usually piss everyone off you’ll probably ragequit reading this about halfway through.
Overall 2013 sucks so far movie-wise but the first four months are notorious for having crappy movies every year. People don’t start paying attention until May. Here’s the whopping list of movies I’ve seen, in the order I saw and reviewed them:
The okay Gatsby
Baz Luhrmann’s 2013 adaption to F. Scott Fitzgerald’s American classic is certainly young and beautiful, but doesthat mean we will still love it? I know you will, I know you will.
The Great Gatsby novel is about a lot of things. Money, desire, work, play, the Roaring 20s, the American dream, and too much more. Unfortunately for its latest film adaption, directed by Baz Luhrmann, it doesn’t tackle overindulgence.
Nick Carroway (Toby Maguire), ambitious and happily inexperienced, moves from the Midwest to New York one summer wet his ears as a bond salesman. He also lives close to his cousin Daisy Buchanan (Carrey Mulligan) and her husband, his old Yale buddy Tom (Joel Edgerton). His new neighbor, the shadowy Jay Gatsby (Leonardo DiCaprio), never introduces himself, but invites Nick via hand-delivered envelope (unheard of from Gatsby!) to one of his locally famous weekend shindigs, where his mansion becomes a palace of confetti and fireworks (and apparently dubstep music, though that doesn’t make any sense chronologically). Gatsby only wants one thing in the world, and he needs Nick’s help to get it.
I am Iron Man
Just kidding. Robert Downey Jr. is the only person with the right to say that.
As we stand now, Robert Downey Jr.’s Iron Man is the face of Marvel. The metallic gold and red of his ultra-destructive suit shines green in the eyes of Marvel execs, and allures audiences to cushy theater seats opening weekend. Downey does not take his role as Head Superhero Honcho Since Batman Ended lightly, and neither does Marvel, as Iron Man 3, quite possibly the best film of 2013 so far, highlights his role of Tony Stark more than it does his robotic baddie-blasting ego.
Stark has turned a 180 since his first adventure. Once a pampered playboy philanthropist heir to a billion dollar industry, he’s now a billionaire playboy philanthropist who has saved the universe. After the events in The Avengers, he’s inadvertently drawn worldwide attention to himself, and begins to suffer from severe anxiety attacks. He can’t sleep; instead he spends the night tinkering with new weapons of mass destruction in the basement, causing friction between him and his girlfriend Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow, who as far as science can tell is not fully human either).
America the beautiful
Set in a hypothetical future America of gorgeous destruction, Oblivion delivers amazing effects, but a just decent story.
When I first saw previews for Oblivion, I didn’t think it would follow in Inception’s or Looper’s footsteps in being a film with incredible action scenes that are outshined only by its mind-bending plot twists. And I was right, it didn’t. The film’s story (which supposedly “borrows” elements from many other sci-fi movies, but we won’t talk about that) is a great idea executed poorly. Still, the picture focuses on personal sentimentality brought by a war rather than the futuristic, CGI-reliant ticket-selling war itself, and the risk is a refreshing reminder that action movies can have equally entertaining moments of calm, too.
Not to detract from the film’s action scenes. Rationed rather than overused but still effective, the action scenes travel in whirlwinds spinning 900 miles an hour with stray lasers, explosions and rockets swirling in the computer generated debris. One of the highlights is exploring a post-apocalyptic America (vaguely recognizable by several half-standing famous monuments) in Tom Cruise’s sleek Bubble Ship (the blueprints for which were found discarded next to a leftover Star Wars prop storage unit). Cruise excels at action scenes, as always, and is at his dependable level of solid but not spectacular acting (not that the script calls for an award-winning performance).
The Purge advanced screening: Cleansing Hollywood of its sins
The Purge is better than you probably expect, and you’re probably already hyped for it. It’s rare that a film has writing, directing, and acting work with perfect synchronization to establish a solid image for the film. It would have passed as a stirring horror/thriller based on concept alone, but it refuses to rely only on its marketable premise to attract viewership. Finally, we can enjoy a horror movie without feeling like we’re being baby-talked to.
The Purge toys with the concept of an America in which all crime (as long as it is not at the expense of a prominent government figure) is legalized for 12 hours, one night a year. During this time no help is available; police and hospitals are preoccupied hiding in their own homes. Purging night has helped whittle crime rates to a measly 1% of what it used to be, and helps Americans unleash pent-up aggression. It’s a foolproof system.