Archive | May 2012

Summer Movies Hype Ranking!


If today’s weather is any indication, movie-goers will take shelter from the humidity in the theater quite often this summer. To help you decide which movies to see this summer, I have ranked nine upcoming films based on how good I personally think they will be.

 

The movies I included are (in order of release date):

 

  • Snow White and the Huntsman

  • Prometheus

  • Madagascar 3

  • Brave

  • Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter

  • The Amazing Spider Man

  • Ice Age 4

  • The Dark Knight Rises

  • The Expendables 2

 

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9. Ice Age 4: Continental Drift (July 13):

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Is anyone actually planning on seeing this? I’m not planning on seeing it. The original Ice Age was an awesome movie, but should have gone extinct before any sequels were created. And I know it’s an animated kids movie, but how long can we as an audience go on ignoring the fact that Ray Romano the talking mammoth (Ray Romammoth? No.) has to be around 200,100,000 years old by now in order to have survived the past three films? We’re talking the Ice Age, all three dinosaur ages, and now, apparently, the separation of Pangea. (Sequentially inaccurate, I might also point out.)

 

8. The Expendables 2 (August 3):

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Lately people have been asking me what my favorite ‘type’ of movie is. The Expendables 2 is exactly what it isn’t. Look at the poster. I sat there and counted the weapons. 13 guns and 13 knives on each side. Perfectly symmetrical, which I find amusing for some reason. Oh, and 6 pointy things under the skull. So 58 weapons in total, all extending out of an unpolished, metallic skull. Is anyone else wondering why the skull isn’t on fire? It’s obviously supposed to be.

 

7. Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted (June 8):

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We’ve seen what Dreamworks does with perfectly good movies. They take an awesome movie like Shrek, milk three or four crappy sequels of descending quality out of it, and give it a spin-off before finally, mercifully, laying it down to rest. The Madagascar franchise is following in Shrek’s steps, reaching its second sequel and already having a spin-off (some Nickelodeon show about the penguins). The first Shrek was awesome, and I loved the second as well. The third was one of the worst movies I’ve ever seen. The fourth was cinematic death. We’ll see how reviews for this movie go, but I’m willing to bet they won’t be pretty.

 

6. Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter (June 22):

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I’d actually be willing to see any of these top six movies. It’s just that I’m s o   t o t a l l y   o v e r vampire movies, so I will probably drag my feet a little to see this one. I felt the same way about Dark Shadows, and I was right about that one.

(For the record, any words or phrases on this blog that are darker than the rest are hyperlinks. Click them.)

 

5. The Dark Knight Rises (July 20):

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LOL I see you raging. At the risk of betraying and losing my newly formed audience, I thought the first two Batman movies were boring. Even The Dark Knight. To the remaining two or three people still reading this, I will probably end up watching this movie and enjoying it. Maybe I disliked The Dark Knight because I was watching it alone on a badly lit, laggy netbook. Who knows what was going on with me that day. Please forgive me.

 

4. Prometheus (June 8):

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I’ve seen the trailer for this movie enough that I’ve gone from “whatever” to “what is this about again?” to “I might actually want to see this!” The trailer’s music, complete with the wailing siren building up to a dramatic ending, is pretty awesome. Also, it has Michael Fassbender. I could go either way on this film, but right now I’m pretty excited for it.

 

3. Brave (June 22):

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When the film first entered post-production, Pixar advertised it as their first experiment with darker tones in a film. I was hooked from the first time I saw the original movie poster above. However, more recent commercials have been advertising it as the same light-hearted fun Pixar movies are known for. While my hype for it has consequently dropped, my initial excitement for it keeps it at number 3 on the list.

 

2. The Amazing Spider-Man (July 3):

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Spider-Man is the only superhero I would consider myself a fanboy of. (Well, maybe the Hulk…) I am one of the few people I know who can say they unconditionally love all three recent movies, even the third one. And so far, this one looks even better. Even though new Peter Parker’s hair kind of freaks me out. (Try to tell me that solid dome on his head doesn’t weigh 25 pounds.)

 

1. Snow White and the Huntsman (June 1):

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I’m looking forward to pretty much everything about this film, but most of all the special effects. Seriously. That fuzzy plant-turtle? The magical deer that Bella Swan/Kristen Stewart/Snow White – DON’T MESS THIS UP KRISTEN.

Ahem, sorry. The deer looks awesome too. It even has Chris Hemsworth in it, and he’s been in like the past twenty-three movies I’ve seen, so it’s like it’s meant to be.

 

Well, there’s my ranking. Any movies not included that you’d like to see? Agree, disagree, or rank your own in the comments! And expect my review of Snow White and the Huntsman sometime this weekend.

 

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Farewell High School!


Note: This post has nothing to do with movies or review. It’s a quick goodbye/thank you post for my memories at high school. If you can’t be bothered, feel free to click away.

 

The best and worst four years of my life have come to an end. It’s unbelievable that I’ll never go through my daily high school routine, ever again. I’ll never wake up at 6AM and head off to see my friends and sit through classes at Bangor High School. Never again will I share a locker with three of my best friends. Never again will I eat lunch in the cafeteria with my friends and classmates. Never again will I walk into the journalism room, ready to do what I do best: write. Back in first grade, I was convinced that graduating high school was just a myth. It was too far away to ever actually happen. Unfortunately, I was wrong on two accounts. One, the day has come. And two, it did not feel long at all. After today, my twelve years as a Bangor student have come to a finish.

 

Since my freshman year, I’ve learned not to care about what others think. No one scrutinizes every mistake you make. But not everyone is nice. Dealing with mean people is a part of life that you will face no matter where you go. It’s better to not care about what others think than let them get to you.

 

However, I also learned that some people really do care about you. Surround yourself with these people, block out the rest. I’m lucky to have so many friends who made a positive difference in my life. Katie, Alex, Janel, Conrad, Vicky, Maria, Dani, Abby, Sara, just to name a few. I’m also thankful to have a teacher in my life who made as much a difference as Mr. Madden did. He encouraged me to go places in my writing I didn’t know I could. And last but not least, I need to thank my parents, Lukas, and Levi for always being on my side no matter the situation and hugely encouraging me in my writing and future career, and never failing to make me laugh.

 

In my senior year I learned to never take a moment for granted. I spent a long while thinking I wanted to graduate and leave the school as soon as possible. I wished the time away. Time I wish I had back now. What I wouldn’t give for another month at high school.

 

My time at the high school has left me with invaluable memories and experiences that I’ll take with me in my second stage of life. Even though I won’t be moving to Philadelphia for another three months, I’m already looking forward to (hopefully) returning for a football game or two in the fall, visiting the school during Christmas break, and reuniting with friends.

 

Any underclassmen reading this, enjoy your time in high school. Senior year goes by faster than you can imagine. And though it probably doesn’t seem like it right now, there truly is nothing greater, than being a Slater.

Dark Shadows


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Dark Shadows: Vampire overshadows mundane story

Dark Shadows, like its identical twin Sweeney Todd, is a swirlingly dark picture directed by (who else?) Tim Burton and starred by a heavily-made up Johnny Depp. However, unlike its brother, Shadows brings nothing new and exciting enough to make it anything more than an unremarkable love story seasoned with Burton’s familiar (but nonetheless charming) creepy direction.

Based on the 1960s television show of the same name, Dark Shadows follows unfailingly-polite vampire Barnabas Collins (Depp) as he escapes his 212-year confinement and returns to his old mansion in Collinsport. There, he discovers that his descendants have allowed his once beautiful mansion to fall into near-ruin. Barnabas tries to restore the mansion and his parents’ sea food business to their former glory against the wishes of rival businesswoman Angelique Bouchard (Eva Green), who just so happens to be the heartbroken witch who cursed Barnabas two centuries ago. It’s no more Mr. Nice Guy (actually, Girl and/or Witch) when Barnabas refuses to forgive her.

Frankly, I didn’t really get the story. Were it not for the solid cast and Burton’s layer of mysterious icing, the film would be a bland yellow cake that could use another hour or so to finish baking. At its core, Shadows is a tale a dysfunctional family and the rivalry between two fishing businesses. It would have been completely mundane without the presence of a vampire and a witch sprinkled on top.

The love story between Barnabas and Victoria Winters (Bella Heathcote), the climactic point of the story that the audience was supposed to rally behind and make everyone go “aww” when it finally happened, flopped like one of the fish in the Collins’ factory. Winters enters the film five minutes in and leads the cast for several scenes before slipping into background character-hood for the rest of the film. Interaction between the characters was scarce; I can only recall them talking three, maybe four times total. I was confused as to why they seemed so in love with each other. Do they even know each other? They were like Katy Perry/Russell Brand when unfortunately I was looking for a Brangelina.

Though the forgettable story was unarguably the wooden stake to the film’s heart, the acting was very solid, and the movie was very appealing visually. I was pleasantly surprised to see Helena Bonham Carter wander onto the screen, and needless to say she delivered yet another intense, disturbing performance. In retrospect, why didn’t I automatically assume she was on board with this movie? Burton and Depp’s names should have been a dead giveaway.

This film also cemented my position as a Chloe Grace Moretz fan for her role as snarly, sassy 15 year old Carolyn Stoddard. She played my favorite character in Kick Ass and Hugo, and by far my favorite in this film. Maybe that’s because I myself am a sassy 15 year old girl. (Not really, but close.) Either way I loved every scene she was in, and wish she had more. Here’s to hoping she is in many more movies in the future.

Overall, I left the theater mellow and pretty unenthusiastic about the film. Yes, the acting was solid, and yes, Burton’s visuals (the best of which were the foamy ocean shots and Widow’s Peak) were awesome, and of course, the costuming and make up were excellent. But the story was the cement block that pulled the film down to the bottom of the ocean. Should you wake up from your 212 year nap and leave your coffin to see this movie? If the story isn’t the most important part of a movie to you, or if you like Alice Cooper, yes. If not, eh, whatever.

3/5 stars

Marvel’s The Avengers


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The Avengers: Justice served?

Box office hulk Marvel’s The Avengers used Thor’s hammer to smash records its opening weekend, grossing over $200 million in two days flat, the largest-grossing opening ever in North America. This makes previous champion Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2’s $168.2 million the Bruce Banner to Avengers‘ Hulk.

The CGI-and-action sandwich is based off the classic Marvel comic series of the same name. Six ill-fit superheroes/demigods join forces to defeat twisted deity Loki in his attempt to end the human race. Each hero is set up with a personal complication to conquer along with Loki in their quest to save the earth.

This naturally leads to numerous battle sequences between the avengers and their adversaries, as well as each other. The movie thrives during its action sequences, the meat of the picture. They’re exactly what its massive audience wanted, and do not disappoint.

My issues with the movie arose in between the epic battles. The script tries to balance one different back story/development arc for each of the heroes, on top of the battle against Loki. The educated fan most likely had no problem following along, but for someone like me, who jumped head first into the film with zero prior knowledge, following the characters’ lengthy conversations was fairly difficult. Once again drawing a Harry Potter comparison, it’s like watching one of the later films of the series without reading the books or seeing earlier installments and being expected to care about characters you know nothing about.

Rather than proceeding to nitpick this completely satisfactory flick, I’ll instead rank the Avengers based on their power, story line, and overall impressiveness solely in this film. (And making fans rage at how outrageously ignorant I am.)

6. Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) – This one is easy. Hawkeye impressed me a grand total of one time during the film, when he shot one of Loki’s creepy Chitauri behind his back. Without turning his head. Regardless, girlfriend was easily brainwashed within the film’s opening five minutes, and spent the following two thirds fighting against his own friends under Loki’s control. Un. Acceptable.

And hasn’t anyone told him that Hollywood already has its iconic bow-stringin’ arrow-slingin’ hero for the year? (click the link)

5. Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) – As I organized this ranking in my head during the film’s slow parts, Black Widow started out near the top and gradually slipped to the bottom. Her introductory scene, in which she tricks information out of three criminals and then proceeds to effortlessly demolish all three while tied to a chair, was one of the movie’s highlights.

But she never lived up to that scene later on. Despite Johansson delivering one of the stronger performances of the film, the only thing I know about her character is that she’s Russian. But, is she even a super hero? Or was she just a really flexible and smart Russian? These questions haunted me the entire film, and were never answered. And frankly, I didn’t feel at all compelled to look them up.

4. Captain America (Chris Evans) – I’m just going to be honest and admit that Captain America never stood much of a chance on any list ranked by me, because his hair annoys the hell out of me. Seriously. I never saw Captain America because of his hair. Not even kindergarteners get away with mushroom tops anymore.

Major points gained for the fact that his ever-glistening shield can withstand a strike from Thor’s hammer. Major points lost for spending most of the lengthy airship battle hanging over the ship’s edge for his dear life.

Because he slipped on a carpet.

All he had to do was pull the red lever for Iron Man.

America had an arc of trying to become the leader of the Avengers, which succeeded in showing that even though he is a super soldier, he still was a human once and has humane imperfections. It was an interesting change in perspective and provided likability and development and kept him away from the bottom of the list.

3. Thor (Chris Hemsworth) – A thunderstorm started outside as soon as I typed this, so I better hurry. Everyone’s favorite Norse deity is in the middle of the list because, even though he is arguably the strongest of them all, the script was kinder to the top two. Thor’s sole story arc was, need revenge on brother, roar.

While the script neglected him, the CGI did not. Almost every movement he made looked like it was performed by a legitimate god, which could not have been easy to create. His very first appearance on the screen, when he zoomed through the sky and latched onto a moving plane like a magnet to a fridge, was sped up to appear otherworldly.

Actually, it’s Chris freakin’ Hemsworth we’re talking about. It was probably slowed down.

Bonus points:

Thor: Have a care how you speak. Loki is beyond reason, but he is of Asgard. And he is my brother.

Black Widow: He killed eighty people in two days.

Thor: He’s adopted.

2. Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) – I hate myself for putting him this high. I don’t know why, but the second he started talking, he irked me. I probably just couldn’t handle his genius, billionaire, playboy, philanthropist words.

My spontaneous vendetta against him soon subsided, however. The script catered to him the most, giving him the most screen time and the best lines. Though he was far from the strongest (Thor owned him three times in his first ten minutes on screen), I went from indifferent, to disliking, to grudgingly liking him by the end of the film.

1. The Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) – Hulk destroy other Avengers. Ruffalo simultaneously served as comic relief and the emotional backbone of the film while he was human, then completely demolished everything that came into his path when he morphed into the giant, sassy, and above all bad ass Hulk.

Also:

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Though I wasn’t as thunderstruck as most moviegoers, or Loki, I still enjoyed the film, particularly the action scenes. Disney already announced a sequel, with director Joss Whedon stating he wished to take a “smaller, more personal” approach. Wow, exactly what I wanted. He probably read this review.

4/5 stars.

The Hunger Games


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The Hunger Games gives audiences a feast

     The Hunger Games, also referred to as ‘that movie everyone except me saw opening night’ and ‘Twilight done right’, managed to live up to its hype as the next pop culture craze taking over America.

    Starring fairly-newcomers Jennifer Lawrence and Josh Hutcherson, the picture wowed audiences and even sated the appetites of normally unquenchable book-to-movie diehard fans.

    Lawrence plays Katniss Everdeen, a rebellious and sneaky heroine who volunteers to compete in the yearly Hunger Games in place of her sister. Set in a dystopian North America of the far future, their government, the Capitol (think Big Brother mixed with Fashion Runway) hosts the Hunger Games once a year, in which twenty-four randomly selected children must fight to the death on live television.

    Katniss travels with fellow District 12 ‘tribute’ Peeta Mellark (Hutcherson) to the Capitol, where the two prepare for the Games. Their relationship is strained under the looming prospect that only one can survive the Games, but they become close in spite of this.

    Though the script focuses solely on Lawrence and her remarkable performance up to this point, I found myself rooting for a Peeta Mellark victory by the end of the train ride there. Anyone worried about Hutcherson (whose past roles include the lackluster Bridge to Terabithia and Journey to the Center of the Earth) can breathe a sigh of relief; Hutcherson nails it. I felt a huge amount of respect for him and his character within his first few minutes of screen time, a feat made even more remarkable by the fact he shared scenes with the eccentric Effie Trinket (Elizabeth Banks).

    Shortly after the pre-Game ceremonies, which include an ancient Greece-styled fashion walk and showing off deadly talents (Katniss snags the highest score after nearly decapitating Game-maker Seneca Crane (Wes Bentley)), it’s Games time.

    While I strongly believe Hutcherson stole the film’s opening third, I left the theater dazzled by Lawrence’s performance in the arena. I knew Katniss was in safe hands based off the previews alone (“I volunteer! I volunteer as tribute!”) but her true abilities as an actress shone during both the film’s intense action sequences and its softer moments. I will not include any spoilers, but bring tissues and an understanding grandmother with you.

    (Side note to all impressionable teenage girls reading this: Katniss is now your role model. Pay no attention to the other fictional teenage girl, who will remain nameless, who spends an estimated eighty percent of her life emoting nothing beyond sadness, a fascination with supernatural teenage boys, or incomprehension. She spends the other twenty percent sleeping. That is all.)

    To the audience who went to see the movie without reading the book, the movie could easily score five out of five stars. The acting was solid. It hit all the major points of the book. The shaking camerawork was a little dizzying at times, but maybe this was because I was only four rows from the screen. The odds were not in my favor. Nonetheless, The Hunger Games was a complete success.

    However, those who read the book (AKA ‘real fans’) may have been a little let down by the film’s pacing and excluded details. The movie runs two hours and twenty minutes, but still lacks the liberty to flesh out the world of Panem, including all of its politics and social corruption. Worst of all, it could not fully show the developing partnership between Katniss and District 11 tribute Rue (Amandla Stenberg).

    Overall, I was very pleased with the film. My initial twitter review read, “Best movie ever. Need to let the awesomeness sink in. No words.” Now that I had time to chill out and think about it, I can still credit it for being an excellent film, but not the best one ever created. The Hunger Games was a feast for those who had not read the books; but to those who had been spoiled by the book’s unmatchable splendor, it was a tasty, if not completely necessary dessert.

    ★★★★☆

Cabin in the Woods review


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Cabin in the Woods scares fews, confuses some, mocks all

 

I think, repeat think, that Cabin In The Woods is a horror movie about five college kids who are forced into a terrifying world of cliches and monsters. The film seems like a generic Hollywood money-grabber with no originality or creativity to justify it. But that’s exactly the point.

The film is directed by Drew Goddard and stars Kristen Connolly, Chris Hemsworth, Anna Hutchison, Fran Kranz, and Jesse Williams. It runs 95 minutes and is rated R.

The movie’s beginning is the epitome of all horror movie cliches. Five archetype college students (the jock, the nerd, the goof, the blond, and the ‘innocent one’) are looking forward to a weekend spent at a cabin smack-dab in the middle of the woods. On the RV ride there they stop at an eerie, run-down gas station populated only by a creepy old man who speaks in riddles. The characters use cheesy, unoriginal dialouge that adheres to their designated personality.

At this point I was genuinely considering leaving the theater and finding another movie to review. I was already in a bad mood, and this looked to be every other horror movie ever created condensed into one. I didn’t have much knowledge beforehand besides that it got glowing reviews and was parody of other horror movies, so I stayed. (I also already paid Regal’s ridiculous fee, so there was no way I was leaving without my money’s worth).

There was one twist keeping the movie’s opening thirty minutes watchable: the kids were being spied on by ‘technicians’ in an underground factory somewhere. These technicians lured the kids into the ‘arena’, and were able to manipulate them by releasing brainwash gases out of the ground. They also surrounded the cabin with an invisible fortress that instantly zapped anything that touched it into dust.

The kids are lured into the basement (“That door just flew open by itself, revealing a pitch-dark basement! Last one to mindlessly run inside is a rotten egg!”) where the technicians watch them investigate a variety of creepy antiques. As it turns out, the antique they choose determines what monster is sent to the woods to eat them. The technicians have pretty much any monster conceivable lined up at the ready. Innocent Dana reads a Latin curse that reawakens a family of ‘hick zombie farmers’, which are much different than normal zombies, the technicians insist.

Ugh, Dana. She had no idea what she was getting into. She’s just an innocent college girl with a pretty face! Who would have thought she had problems too?

Anyway, the hick zombie farmers come and start killing the kids one by one. Still unimpressed, I vowed to not get scared during this part, which apparently did not work because soon I found myself wondering if that dark figure across the theater was actually the axe-wielding, one-armed hick zombie farmer girl. I even started planning an escape route in my head, should it be her. Would she target me first? Would the friend who I was there with ever talk to me again if I abandoned her? Probably not. (Duh, she’d be eaten.)

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(This is a reenactment of my face during the hick zombie farmer scenes. Yes I was that scared. Note the panic-stricken eyebrows.)

Only two characters remained roughly an hour into the film, so something was up. Whoa, wait, where’s innocent Dana going?!

Without giving away vital spoilers, innocent Dana managed to unleash literally every horror movie monster ever thought of into the world. Hick zombie farmers just weren’t enough for her! I guess. The monsters go on a rampage, eating everything in sight. By the time the hick zombie farmer girl stumbles into the party, there’s nothing left to dismember! Geez, other monsters! I kind of felt bad for her. She’s my favorite character. I related to her more than the humans.

I don’t even remember how I felt during the movie’s closing third because I was too enraptured by it to think. Whatever I said about cliches earlier – that’s exactly what the movie wants you to think. The film is a purposeful mockery of every other cliché horror movie out there, and creates a safety net for other movies to fall back on. If M. Night Shamalan ever attempts to make another horror movie (Daemon god forbid) he can be all, “Okay, but the technicians were supposed to make it cliché, or else it wouldn’t have made any sense!!”

This movie may have created a monster.

I’m still pretty confused it. Am I supposed to figure it out myself eventually? I bet Chris Hemsworth knows all the answers. I’ll ask him about it later. I’ll text him.

My initial twitter review said, “I feel like no review of Cabin In The Woods could actually review it without somehow penetrating its complex set of pardoying laws.” First off, ew, why’d I use proper grammar in a tweet? That’s disgusting. Unfollow me. Second, that tweet took me around an hour to write, that’s how confused I was.

Third, my tweet is wrong – that very tweet is the only correct review of this film, which makes it wrong because it is right. I don’t feel like Cabin is a movie that should be discussed with someone who has not seen it, but it’s a thought-provoking, clever enigma of a film. I’m surprised it isn’t a bigger hit in the box office than it is. So go see it.

Final rating: I have no clue/5 stars. Hick zombie farmer axe-to-head, I’d give it four stars, and whine about how the movie isn’t perfect because the cliches in the beginning annoyed me too much for it to be perfect. But then a merman out of freakin’ nowhere would impale me with his trident.

Here goes nothing


Hello! I am Logan Krum, an aspiring journalist soon to start college at Temple University. I have entered the wonderful world of wordpress to create a portfolio for movie reviews I’ve written. I have had next to zero instruction on writing these reviews (as of yet), so bear with me. A follow or constructive criticism would be extremely appreciated!