Mini Movie Review: Argo

I saw Argo a long time ago. And then I moved and never got around to writing a review. I was watching the Academy Awards with some friends when two of them said they were leaving rightthissecond to see Argo. So I went! It was about 10:00 on a Sunday and so no one was there, just the three of us in the theater, which is always fun.

Anyway, Argo is not my typical movie. I don’t usually like movies about politics or war, or things based on a true story (unless it’s a funny true story), or dramas unless they are also quirky or something. But I really liked Argo! Why? Because even though I knew what was going to happen (based on a true story) the movie was still truly suspenseful and I was legitimately nervous for the outcome the whole time. Even though I knew everything was going to be ok. So I think that’s a sign of a pretty dang good movie. So you should totally rent it, even if it’s not your typical film genre of choice.

In case you forgot because it was so long ago, here’s the preview:

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Mini Movie Review: Identity Thief

The preview for this is so hilarious! It has a 25% positive review rate on Rotten Tomatoes though, which is really low. But I decided to see it anyway because I love Jason Bateman and Melissa McCarthy.

The verdict? It was funny. A little long. Most of the funny parts were in the preview. But by the end of the movie you really care about the characters and their growth. One of my friends thought it was stupid and way too long and not funny enough. My other friend and I agreed it was enjoyable, perhaps because we went in with the low standards set by Rotten Tomatoes. Overall it’s a rental, and I knew that going into it if I’m being honest!

Here are the best parts of the movie condensed into two and a half minute:

Movie Review: Warm Bodies

My friend Alison and I were discussing an article that showed how the popularity of vampire movies and zombie movies correlated with whether Democrats or Republicans were in office, respectively. You can read it here, but to summarize: vampire movies are popular when Democrats are in office as Republicans fear vampires because they are sexually deviant, foreigners, and parasitic (just like Democrats?). Zombie movies are popular when Republicans are in office as Democrats fear zombies because they are mindless consumers, seek to remove those who do not conform, and do not think for themselves (just like Republicans?). The article is written humorously, but it makes sense.

What we were discussing: there’s a Democrat in office now, and Twilight is basically the most popular thing ever. So what’s up with that? This article is talking about what scares us, and Twilight isn’t scary (at least it’s not supposed to be). Twilight is supposed to be sexy. It takes all the things Republicans fear about vampires and puts a sexy spin on them.  We joked that maybe more young people would vote Republican if they made a sexy zombie movie. “But they could never do that, ” we said. “Zombies are gross.”

Until one day, Alison sent me this trailer:

Oh. My. GOSH. They did it??? We immediately made plans to see it. And see it we did. The verdict? Alison liked it. The critics liked it. I did not. I’m not sure why.

Maybe my expectations were too high? The previews looked funny and another friend of mine said it was better than Twilight. I actually disagreed. It bothered me that the zombies could talk a little, and that the seemed to function relatively normally, just real slow. The main zombie has thoughts, feelings, and desires. He makes decisions and long-term plans. He can drive a car! This is just not very zombie-like. Every vampire movie puts a different spin on vampires, but they always have that scene where it’s like “oh garlic doesn’t hurt us, we made that up so people would think they were safe” or “I can walk in the light because blah blah blah”. This movie didn’t have that though, it was just like SURPRISE zombies are just like you basically!

Additionally, the leading lady was even stupider than Bella, she just kept trying to escape and literally every time the zombies would chase her and the main zombie would save her and bring her back to his “house”. This happened like three or four times before one of her escape attempts actually moved the plot forward. And speaking of the plot/pacing… this movie moved as slow as the zombies. I mean, it had to I guess because you have to watch these slow creatures move around. It’s like a movie about snails, obviously they’re going to move slowly. But it just seemed to drag the plot out unnecessarily.

Anyway, everyone else seemed to like this movie, so maybe don’t listen to me. In fact, don’t. Go see it and let me know what you think!

Movie Review: Les Misérables

This post is wayyyyyyy overdue! I saw Les Misérables with my parents on Christmas day, then with some friends from church on New Year’s day. Then again on Sunday with some other friends from church. And I’m ready to see it again! If only movies weren’t so expensive…

Anyway, I read the novel by Victor Hugo during my senior year of high school. And I loved it. I mean I ate that thing up. After reading it I saw a student production of the musical and rented the 1998 film with Liam Neeson. I loved both. Eventually I saw a professional production of the musical and loved that even more. I think I’ve seen the musical two or three times at this point, and I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve listened to the soundtrack. This is just to set the stage for you: I LOVE all things Les Misérables.

So how did this film version of the stage musical live up? Obviously it was awesome, because I’ve seen it three times. There have been lots of complaints about the film from fans (mostly about Russell Crowe’s singing and Tom Hooper’s not-so-steady camera work), but I don’t care. I thought this movie was as perfect as you could get.

Hugh Jackman is amazing. I saw him on Broadway in a musical called “The Boy from Oz” so I knew he could sing, and he’s always been one of my favorite actors. He did a great job portraying both the hardened and the redeemed Valjean. Some people said his vocals were too nasally but it didn’t bother me. Maybe because I already knew how his singing voice sounds, so it wasn’t surprising. The only thing I didn’t like about his performance was his “old man grunt” at the very end. He kept saying “oh!” in this sad little old man voice, and I was annoyed. Other than that, he was perfect.

Russell Crowe was fine – he was a great Javert to me although I do agree his vocals were underwhelming in comparison to the rest of the cast. His voice just doesn’t seem to project as much, and he does these weird little dips sometimes. But I don’t need Javert to be the bestest singer ever, and his acting more than made up for his singing.

Anne Hathaway obviously blew it away as Fantine. She was NOT afraid to be ugly while she sang/cried, and I mean more than just that haircut. Her facial expressions were brutal. She sang beautifully and did her big song all in one shot. Impressive. (Note: I didn’t link to a song here because it’s in the trailer below).

Samantha Barks has played Eponine before, so maybe she had an unfair advantage over the rest of the cast, but she nailed it. Her voice was perfect, and she adapted herself well to the screen. Sometimes stage actors go too big in movies, you know? But she got it right. I am pretty sure we’ll be seeing her in more movies. Also I think we should all take a moment to be thankful that Taylor Swift did not get this role.

Amanda Seyfried as Cosette was a little disappointing for me, but I’m okay with it. My friends complained that her voice was quiet, breathy, and too “trilly”. And those things are true, but aren’t those things also how you’d expect Cosette to be? Eddie Redmayne as Marius was actually my biggest problem with the movie. He had what I call a “kermit-y” tone, where he just sings way too far in the back of his throat sometimes. He also says “sorry” a lot (see clip) and does this weird thing where he shakes his chin and sometimes his entire head when he sings. Anyway, here is a clip of them singing a love song. Aaron Tveit was Enjorales and he killed it. I can’t find a clip, which is a shame. His acting and singing were both killer and I am sad he wasn’t a bigger part in the movie.

I have more thoughts about this movie obviously but this is already a long post, so I will leave you with the trailer and my recommendation to go see is as soon as you can!

Mini Movie Review: Wreck-It Ralph

I saw the preview for this months ago and was struck by how original the idea is. In case you haven’t heard of it, Wreck-It Ralph is about a video game bad guy who is tired of being bad and starts going from game to game in the arcade trying to win a medal so the people of his game will respect and like him. My mom and I saw this move on Black Friday and we both loved it! I loved the references to old video games and jokes about how different character are programmed or glitches or whatever. Both Ralph and one of the characters he meets in another game are rejected by the others in their game and struggle with their identities and where they fit in, something a lot of kids (and adults!) can relate to. Eventually, both characters realize and accept who they truly are, so that’s a nice little message for the kids (and adults!). It was funny, heart-warming, and even a little action-packed. My only warning is that a great deal of the movie takes place in a candy-themed game which made me REALLY want candy after the movie. Also get your classic video game consoles out because you will probably also want to play Mario Kart after.

Mini Movie Review: Breaking Dawn Part 2

I saw Breaking Dawn Part 2 on Saturday and I never thought I would blog about Twilight but I have some opinions! So here they are (oh there are spoilers so watch out!):

  1. Never has a movie presented teen motherhood in such a positive light.
  2. Kristen Stewart was still twitchy, but not nearly as much as she usually is.
  3. I liked that the film seemed very aware that Jacob “imprinting” on a baby is weird as f#@$! It’s weird enough when a man dates both a mother and daughter, but even more weird when the daughter is a newborn.
  4. In general this film did not seem to take itself too seriously. There were a number of times I laughed, and I’m pretty sure I was supposed to laugh, but it wasn’t because the source material is funny. Does that make sense?
  5. I am so glad they included a fight scene because seriously the whole book built up to a fight scene that never happened and that was stupid.
  6. However, did the battle have to be so violent? This movie is PG-13! There was no blood which is how I assume they got away with that (also lol, no blood in a vampire movie???) but beloved characters died, up close and in horrible ways.
  7. Also, I was disturbed by the amount of cheers when the bad guys died. I was recently part of a class discussion on how our culture celebrates the death of “bad people” when death of a fellow human is something that should probably never be celebrated. I know these are fictional characters and technically not human, but it bothers me to hear people, especially young people, cheer with excitement over the death of anybody.
  8. Furthermore, the bad guys in Breaking Dawn aren’t that bad. The Volturi are supposed to be the “big bads” in this series, but really Victoria was much worse. She actually had a motive and intent to kill Bella. Imminent danger. Scary. The Volturi were just creepy and maybe jumped to conclusions too quickly, but basically once they figured out that no crime was committed they’re like “oh ok, cool, no harm no foul”. So my point here is that Breaking Dawn would have been better with some real bad guys, and also people cheered over the deaths of people who were not that bad!!!!! Maybe they weren’t even bad at all! What did Jane ever do other than show off her gift of causing pain to people? She didn’t do it for that long, it’s like giving someone a noogie because you can. She caused no long-term damage.
  9. Okay, here is the biggest spoiler, sort of: The fight did not actually happen. People, myself included, can talk crap about the Twilight books and movies all day long. They are not good. Entertaining, sure, a little. But good? By no stretch of the mind. But it requires a certain amount of genius to be able to fool a crowd of people who KNOW HOW THE MOVIE IS GOING TO END. And we were fooled! I cried a little bit because the deaths were so brutal. People in the theater were outraged, saying “but this didn’t happen!” When it was all revealed to be Alice’s vision and not a real fight, the entire theater let out a collective sound of surprise and relief. Even though we knew this was a happy ending, we knew there was no fight scene, we were all fooled, at that is some solid screenwriting/directing right there. Though for the record,  I did whisper to Kathleen about half-way through this scene that it had to be a dream sequence, and she can vouch for that.
  10. The end credits showed a black and white clip of each character, with the character’s and actor’s name. The whole theater cheered for Taylor Lautner and his abs, kinda cheered for Robert Pattinson, and remained silent for Kristen Stewart. Awkward….

Anyway… who would have ever thought that I would have so much to say on a Twilight movie? Did you see it? What did you think?