Sunday, February 21, 2010

"Shutter Island" - in theaters

I really wish that Leonardo DiCaprio would act in a nice romantic comedy. Why is it that he always has to play such complex, damaged characters? Seriously Leo... take a Xanax and make me laugh for crying out loud.

That being said, I actually did enjoy "Shutter Island". I was apprehensive to go and see it, mostly because I thought it was going to be more of a horror film, and we all know how I feel about horror films. But, I was pleasantly surprised. I only had to plug my ears twice (which is what I do when I get scared... it's weird, I know). The rest of the film is simply mysterious and suspenseful, and frankly, very entertaining.

Probably what I loved most about this entire film was Leonardo's come-and-go Boston accent, which he honed in "The Departed", and got to drag out into this film. He plays Teddy Daniels, a U.S. Marshall called to a mental facility on the aptly titled Shutter Island. A prisoner has escaped, and it's his and his new partner's (Mark Ruffalo, who's always such a delight to watch on screen in my opinion) duty to find the missing woman. But, being a Scorsese film, things are never that simple, and Teddy is soon investigating the hospital itself as well as facing his own personal demons. He has a rollicking case of PTSD from his time as a soldier in World War 2. That being said, the audience is treated to many flashbacks of Teddy as a soldier, wandering through a concentration camp, coming across corpse after corpse and shooting German prison guards. It's slightly horrific and gory, but necessary to understand the demons of Teddy's past and present.

I enjoyed the slight moment of Jackie Earle Hayley, who plays a prisoner in the dangerous Ward C of the hospital. He is one creepy dude, but his tete-a-tete with DiCaprio is fabulous.

The last line of the film has really stuck with me since leaving the theater this morning, so much so that I'm still thinking about it now. I'm tempted to write it here, but while I don't think it would tell much, I don't want to spoil the ending.

So, on the CWeave scale, I would rank this film an 8. While I don't think I'll own it, I do recommend that everyone see it. I promise, it's not as scary as it looks. And let's face it: you can't go wrong with Scorsese. Or at least most of the time you can't...

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

"Percy Jackson and the Olympians - The Lightening Thief" in theaters

I was in Florida this past weekend, visiting my sister when I went to see this movie. First off, I'd like to say that I am in love with this book series. The author, Rick Riordan, works Greek mythology into present day life with such ease and believability, not to mention a very sharp wit that all ages can enjoy. So, needless to say, I was pumped about going to see this movie.

As a film, I enjoyed it immensely. There were good action sequences, it was quite humorous, and also heart-warming. However, it differed radically from the book. For one, two main characters were left out, which makes doing any sequels a bit troublesome, as one of these characters is quite important in the later novels.

Percy was played by Logan Lerman, who, as my sister pointed out, looks, talks, and has the mannerisms of Zac Efron 3 years ago. And ever since she said that, that's all I can think of when I look at him. However, Logan did an admirable job. It was clear that he spent a lot of time training with weapons, and the chemistry between him, Annabeth, and Grover was good. What he did lack was the sense of humor that is so evident in the books. In the film, pretty much all of the funny lines were given to Grover. Brandon T. Jackson (i.e. Alpa Chino from "Tropic Thunder"), did a great job as Grover, and his comedic timing was spot on.

Annabeth had a certain air of smugness and self-righteousness about her that Percy chipped away at throughout the film, which is generally how it went in the books. And just like the book, the filmmakers didn't give you any sort of release for all of that sexual tension.

I have an issue with the director choice of Christopher Columbus. While yes, he is very accomplished at what he does, I find that he tries to make everything almost too family friendly. Case in point: the movie version of "Rent". The fact that he took R-rated material and made it into a PG-13 rated movie took away a lot from what the original play was about. But I'm not delving into that here.

My biggest pet peeve during this film was that Zeus decreed that all Gods were not to have any contact with their children. I thought that this was an effort by the director to make the gods seem like they weren't assholes. But that isn't sticking to the roots of Greek mythology, which pretty much state that yes, the gods were assholes. They made their kids fight their battles for them, and a lot of the time, the kids didn't want anything to do with the gods. In the Percy Jackson books, it goes along the same lines. Zeus didn't decree anything of the sort. What he, Poseidon, and Hades did do was create a pact that said they wouldn't have any mortal children after World War 2, because WW2 was the result of the skirmishes between them. The fact that Percy Jackson exists in the first place is a HUGE deal in the books, but not so much in the film.

But I digress...

I've learned that you can't go into an adapted film with the idea that it's going to be exactly like the book it's based on. So, as a whole, I still enjoyed this film for what it was. So on the CWeave scale, I give this movie a 7.5. I'd probably see it again in the theaters, and it will certainly become a part of my collection when it comes out on DVD.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

The Academy Awards

Even though this is technically a movie review site, I have to put in my two sense about the Academy Award nominations. I know that they happened over a week ago, but I took a long time to dwell on what I was going to say about them. And here it is:

Basically it all boils down to the fact that if "Avatar" wins Best Picture or James Cameron wins for Best Director, I'm going to lose a little bit more faith in the Academy. Yes, "Avatar" was an epic movie, with dazzling special effects and millions of dollars at the box office, but seriously? As a friend of mine put it, the storyline is basically a retelling of "Cowboys and Indians". The dialogue is weak and corny in a lot of areas, and Cameron really needs to learn how to edit. A shorter film would have delivered just as hard of a punch.

And Cameron for Best Director? I'm sorry, but one shouldn't get an Oscar simply because they know how to use a computer. That's what the Visual Effects Award is for. I'm just saying...

Comparing "Avatar" to the other Best Picture nominees like "The Hurt Locker" (which is my personal favorite for winning) or "Precious" or hell, even "District 9", it falls short. I just hope the Academy can look past the millions of dollars and see that the story behind the blue skin doesn't add up to much.

And that's my take. Love it or hate it? Leave me a comment, and we can discuss.

Monday, February 8, 2010

"Dear John" - in theaters

I know that when I sit down to watch a Nicholas Sparks' film, I can count on a few things:

1. I'm probably going to be a weepy mess at some stage of the film.
2. At least one principal character that I have become emotionally attached to will contract a debilitating disease and die.
3. The romance will be cheesy and utterly delicious.

All in all, "Dear John" did not disappoint when it came to these things. However, as my friend who accompanied me to the theater pointed out, the preview for the film did not really resemble what the film was actually about. It only advertised the first 40 minutes, and then the rest was a total surprise. I mean, seriously, you don't really see it coming. I won't spoil it for you here though, because that's not my style.

The person to whom I became attached was Richard Jenkin's character. He played Mr. Tyree, or Stockard "Channin Tatum" O'Neal's on-screen dad. What made him so poignant for me was his very isolated way of life. It made my insides ache, and his scenes were when most of my tears were shed.

The two principles in the film (Amanda Seyfried and Channing Tatum) were well cast, and they did a decent job at convincing the audience that they fell in love after only two weeks. That's what I love about Nicholas Sparks' storytelling. He has characters fall madly in love after a brief time together, and then has them stay in love until it eventually kills one or both of them. Oy vey.

The part when the two principles are not together (you know, the part that no one saw coming), is a little unbelievable, and I lost a little respect for Mr. Sparks for taking it in that direction. There could have been other ways for him to separate the two lovers that would have been more convincing.

But hey! It was an alright movie. And for all the girls out there, Channing Tatum is often without his shirt, which is always a good time.

So on the CWeave scale of 1 to 10, I give "Dear John" a 6. It was entertaining, sad, and just a little too ridiculous to get a higher rating from me.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

"Zombieland" - on DVD

I'm fairly certain that if the zombie apocalypse were to happen, that I would survive (and not just because a quiz on Facebook told me so). I've seen enough crappy horror films to know that you should get your hands on a lot of weapons, a good supply of food and water, and a really nice SUV in order to make your way in the zombie world.

That being said, I thought "Zombieland" was utterly fantastic. I saw it in the theaters and recently purchased it on DVD. It is extremely tongue-in-cheek, following a set of rules set forth by Columbus (Jesse Eisenberg, the epitome of a computer nerd turned unlikely survivor). These rules flash up on the screen at pertinent times, and add more humor to the movie itself. The character of Columbus is certainly lovable. His disposition is reminiscent of Michael Cera at times, but I can't ever picture Cera holding a shotgun and shooting a zombie in the head with it. When Columbus hooks up with Tallahassee, and subsequently Wichita and Little Rock, the opportunities for humor and horror run aplenty.

Personally I thought Woody Harrelson made this movie. As Tallahassee, a banjo-playing, pick-ax swinging, defender of the human race zombie killer, he was funny and heartwarming all at the same time. While his Oscar nomination for "The Messenger" was probably well-deserved, in my opinion he could have received one for this movie too. I find that comedic movies rarely get the recognition they deserve from the Academy. Excuse me for my little rant here, but it's true. It is my belief that you can make almost anyone cry, but you cannot make everyone laugh. I'm just saying...

I was asked to review the Blu-Ray disc of this film, but unfortunately, I don't have a Blu-Ray player. However, I took at a look at the packaging, and it seems as if the special features are the same as on the regular DVD. The one advantage of the Blu-Ray is that it comes with the digital copy, which, let's face it, is key to LIFE. Best Buy sells a two-disc DVD edition, but I wasn't able to get my hands on it. Unfortunately there's no gag reel (which is my absolute favorite special feature), but there are some deleted scenes, a commentary, and a few behind-the-scenes extras.

So on the CWeave scale, I give this film a 9 (close to brilliance). It's funny, touching, gory, and has one of the best cameos EVER. I won't spoil it for you here, but trust me, it's fabulous.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

"Angus, Thongs, and Perfect Snogging" - on DVD

I love the British. Whether it's their accent or the clever words that they say, I find them very entertaining. So when I found out that one of my favorite book series by Louise Renison was being made into a film, I was very excited. I was even more thrilled when I found the DVD on Netflix. Needless to say, it jumped to the top of my queue (or as my dad pronounces it, "quay"), and arrived at my doorstep within the next few days.

Before I review it though, I just have to make a comment on the title. The name of the film is "Angus, Thongs, and Perfect Snogging", but the first book is entitled "Angus, Thongs, and Full-Frontal Snogging". I really wonder why they changed the name of the film. Is it because film goers can't handle the phrase "full-frontal"? That's what makes it funny for Pete's sake!

I wasn't disappointed in the film. I found it to be highly enjoyable, but to be honest, I cannot discern whether I found it entertaining because of the way the content was presented, or because I was reminded of the reasons why I loved the books so much. I think it's the latter. First of all, the books are way funnier. The movie really downsized the role of two characters who, frankly, make the entire series (Sven, and Dave the Laugh, for those who don't know). How can you cut out a character with a Viking heritage with a propensity to wear light-up flares? Or a character who hangs on a sign on the outside of his school that says, "For Sale"? Classic stuff. Plus, in the later books, Dave the Laugh becomes the principle boy of interest. The way he is portrayed in the film does not really leave it open for such a plot turn.

The end of the film found the main character, Georgia, pining away for Robbie, i.e. The Sex God, who is two years older, and vastly more mature. Georgia comes to the realization that to land Robbie, she needs to stop being the immature teenager that she is. My problem with this whole situation is that in the books, she is the exact opposite. The fact that she is an immature teenager makes the books that much funnier. What she doesn't understand is why everyone else isn't as game for a laugh as she is. And that's what I love about her character.

So, on the CWeave scale, I give this film a 7 (alright). I liked it simply because I loved the books, and I recommend for people to read those first. Trust me, you'll be laughing out loud.

Monday, February 1, 2010


I hate horror films. You'll never see me review one on this blog because I simply refuse to watch them. I guess what angers me most is that the characters in them are always such morons. "Wow, there was a loud sound coming out of the basement that sounded menacing. Let's go check it out!" is often the sort of situation that pops up in those types of films, and I can't stand the stupidity of the characters that come up with these blatantly BAD ideas.

So what does that have to do with this film? Well, "Legion" had the makings of being a slight horror film. There was a theme of possession that I wasn't expecting, but it was more of an action film than horror. Plus, I'm a sucker for post-apocalyptic films that show the strength of character that mankind possesses in those "end of the world" type of situations, so I was pretty excited to see "Legion".

All in all, this movie was entertaining, but I'm happy that I didn't have to pay to see it (Christmas movie certificates are always a welcome gift). The story itself was a good idea. Having angels wreak death and destruction upon mankind because God has lost faith in the human race is compelling. Top it all off with Michael, the Pure of Heart, coming down to protect one lowly pregnant woman, and you've got a great idea for a movie.

But this was not a great film. The dialogue left a lot to be desired and some of the character arcs were bit flimsy. And while I enjoy Paul Bettany without his shirt on as much as the next girl, I would have liked to have seen more hand to hand combat. I mean, you can't tell me that with angels attacking the earth, all it takes to beat them is a few loaded guns with normal bullets? Shouldn't celestial bronze come into play here? And the angels sure gave them a lot of down time in between their attacks. If they really wanted that girl and her baby dead, you would think that they would have tried a little harder.

So on the CWeave Scale of 1 (utter shit) to 10 (utter brilliance), I would say that "Legion" falls at about a 5 (not bad, but not good either). I'd wait for a rental on this one.