Tag Archives: Movie

The Internship (A movie review)

10 Jun

Hello Everypony!

Sorry that it’s been so long since I gathered my wits enough to write. Things have been a little wonky here in Equestria. It hasn’t necessarily been okie-dokie-lokey around these parts. But they’re getting easier. I won’t bore you with the details any further–let’s just dive right in to the review!

When I first saw the trailers for this movie, I thought to myself, they’re trying to recapture the magic of Wedding Crashers all over again–this is going to be a disaster. (So of course, I made a point to go see this. I couldn’t look away!) Yet, surprisingly enough, Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn manage to recapture the fun chemistry they had in Wedding Crashers without killing the rest of the film.

The film opens with two salesmen, Billy (Vaughn) and Nick (Wilson) pumping themselves up for what they hope will be a big sale. Unfortunately for them, it turns out their company has gone under and they’re the last ones to know. Defeated and in a rut, they go their separate ways and face their own woes, (divorce, foreclosure, begging off of family, working for jerks) which are essentially the stereotypical whole nine yards of cruddy things someone might have to deal with after losing their jobs.

Billy, desperate to find a job, stumbles across an opening for Interns at Google and immediately stakes out to find his partner, Nick. After a small scene involving Will Ferrel as a huge jerk of a boss, (a moment that feel weirdly unneeded.) Billy manages to convince Nick to go with him to California to apply for the internship in the hopes of obtaining a job with the internet giant.

Of course, hilarity ensues as the older gentlemen tackle the younger generation and the unfamiliar technological territory involved.

In general this movie was interesting to me, especially after having recently taken a course on Generational Diversity. For a moment or two, I was able to see how the generations above me might handle (or not handle) technology, and what the younger generation can teach them. Along the same thought; I also saw what the younger generation (including myself) might learn from the older generation that we seem to be lacking. (People skills for one. Optimism for another.)

All and all the movie was the sort that’s good for warm-fuzzies, big smiles and a happy aftermath of contentment. Sure, the characters sometimes feel very familiar–the Revenge of the Nerds might seem to meet with Sixteen Candles in there somewhere. (Especially when Yo Yo goes wild. You’ll see what I mean.)  Yet, the movie was pretty good about not leaving loose ends, and wrapping it all up with a nice bow in the end.

I give this a four out of five cupcakes scale! Dig into that sweetness and smile!

Never heard of it? Google it.

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Oz The Great and Powerful…Not so Much…

12 Mar

Hello everypony!

Thanks to the string of poor weather up this way, and various other obstacles I hadn’t been posting much because–well, frankly, I was being boring. Trapped inside due to inclement weather, work, and general laziness–I dove into video games instead of my usual novels or films.

Well–I hope you’re super, extra, excited tonight to know that I managed to drag myself out long enough to see Disney’s latest film, Oz The Great and Powerful, last night.

I went into this film with high hopes. It was hard not to–with the super-star line up that included, Mila Kunis, James Franco, and Scrubs Zack Braff. Surely, this was a combination for success? Not to mention that this movie was a prequel to my childhood favorite, The Wizard of Oz.  I had been very much looking forward to what I hoped would be a charming, witty and powerful prequel. But I was about to be mildly disappointed.

The film starts in black and white, an appreciated tip of the hat to the original Wizard of Oz, (which had also been the first movie ever in color!) and the audience is introduced right away to the main character: a con-artist Houdini wannabe called Oz (James Franco). It’s made obvious that Oz is a liar as well as a player who tricks beautiful young woman with his quick hand and silver tongue. Ultimately, that is the most exciting this character gets. The first twenty minutes or so are spent reflecting how much of a jerk Oz really is. His magic is fake, he’s mean to his only friend (Zack Braff) who he claims isn’t a friend at all–but a trained monkey and he’s been messing with the hearts of every woman he seems to meet. His playboy mannerisms get Oz into trouble with the carnival’s strongman, who attempts to chase down and crush the weaselly, Oz. Oz manages to escape in a hot air balloon–but soon regrets this decision as he is sucked into a spiraling tornado.

After managing to survive his encounter with mother nature, Oz crash-lands in–well…OZ. This is also where the movie becomes vibrantly colored. (So much so that it made me cross-eyed. A word of warning–I don’t recommend this in 3D or in IMAX.) After what felt like an overly-drawn-out panning scene that takes in the multi-colored nature around him, Oz meets his very first witch, Theodora (Mila Kunis). She claims she saw him fall from the sky, and starts babbling about a prophesy, convinced that the con-man, Oz is meant to save their world as a great and powerful wizard. Taken with Theodora’s beauty, Oz goes along with her assumption, wooing the unsuspecting witch as she leads him to the Emerald City. On the way to the city, Oz saves the life of an animated winged monkey in a bell-hop suit called Finley (Zack Braff’s voice) who vows to serve Oz as thanks.  Finley soon regrets this vow as Oz reveals that he is not the prophesized king, wizard and savior of their land–but is in fact just a con-man and Oz swears him to secrecy.

Once at the Emerald City, the audience is introduced to Theodora’s sister, Evenora(Rachel Weisz) who immediately reveals herself as the villain. (But not the main one. Spoilers!) Wanting to keep the throne for herself, Evenora sends Oz off on a journey to prove himself and kill the “wicked witch”. Overwhelmed by greed, Oz agrees and sets off without a word to Theodora. Later, Evenora leads her sister to believe that Oz had woo’d her as well, making Theodora hate him.

While on this journey, Oz comes across a village that had once been made of giant porcelain tea-pots. (Yeah, it felt really random and pointless to me too.)  Hearing someone crying, Oz and Finley discover a little china girl with busted legs. Oz helps her and somehow she manages to stick around for the rest of the film. (haha) The three head onward to face who they believe to be the wicked witch. Of course, this is not the case, and they end up meeting a young, Glinda the good witch.

Glinda makes the group realize who the real villains are, just in time for the group to be chased by angry flying baboons who have multiple annoying 3D jump-scares for you to enjoy. (or not.) Glinda helps them escape with her magic bubble, and takes then to munchkinland where she convinces Oz to lead her “army” against the true wicked witch.

At heart this is the whole plot of the film (leaving out the ending of course.) and I was honestly disappointed. The 3D graphics are beautiful but overwhelming, and occasionally overdone. The plot is overly predictable. And the most believeable characters in the whole film were the two animated ones: Finley and the little China Girl.

As my boyfriend pointed out, Sam Raimi is a hit or miss director. This style worked for Alice in Wonderland–but not so much for Oz as it felt too familiar and over-the-top. I would have liked to see more diversity in the “Quadling” people possibly along the same lines as Wicked where they’re frog-people. The plot was tolerable, but didn’t contain many surprises that I felt were good additions to the film. All in all, I could have saved myself the money and waited for this one to come out on DVD.

I give this a two out of five cupcake score. Not so great or powerful.

 

May contain Goodness

Oz–the not so great or powerful

 

“R” you in love with Warm Bodies? A book and movie review

8 Feb

“I am dead, but it’s not so bad. I’ve learned to live with it.”

And I was hooked. This is the first line of Isaac Marion’s novel, Warm Bodies, and right away I felt that I had connected with his main character–who just so happens to be a mildly clear-thinking, witty, brain-eating zombie. If I had to sum up this story: it’s a romance–with zombies. Marion’s novel stuck with me as he narrates a story above life, love and survival from the eyes of someone who is already dead. (well…sort of. )

The lead character, who goes by only the letter R as he has forgotten the rest of his name, is a zombie. He explains right away that the living dead can’t remember their names, their past lives or what it was like to be alive anymore–they only keep going, unable to communicate, trapped within rotting bodies.

This brilliant novel struck a chord with me–and it is obvious from the movie that it struck the filmmakers in the same way–in regard to the lack of human interaction and communication in the present. R poses questions to himself and to the reader as he faces his inner self in various conflicts–like eating people, for example. Although R knows that he has to eat people to survive, he doesn’t like to hurt people. He has inner conflict about it. I suppose that is partly why he was susceptible in the first place to falling for one of the living.

After eating the brain of a boy named, Perry, R finds himself hopelessly enamored with a girl named, Julie. The only problem is that she is alive. Torn between his nature and his newly discovered feelings, R seeks to protect the terrified Julie, and after camouflaging her scent in his dead blood so the other zombies won’t smell her, he takes her back to his home in the airport. Julie is understandably terrified at first, but soon R shows that he is becoming something bigger than he once once. Speech begins to return to him in blurbs at first, hunger for flesh and brains ebbs and his attachment to Julie grows.

I have always been a fan of the unusual point of view narrations–but so far, Warm Bodies takes the cake as one of my favorites. R’s narrative is an exciting combination of poetry, philosophy and gore. I quickly grew attached to the lead character and found myself rooting for him as he fights to change and as Julie rallies with him to find a “cure” to the zombie “plague”. All the while they each face their own version of zombies, both actual and physical as the actual humans within the story begin losing what made them such and emotionally slowly decays.

The film Warm Bodies, does a pretty fair job of picking up on R’s sense of humor–though I would have liked if it retained more of his inner narrative than was given. However, it was impressive how much emotion I felt came across from the actor who played R, Nicholas Holt,despite his lack of much facial expression or vocal cues.

Perhaps it was because I read the book that I felt that the actress who played Julie, Teresa Palmer, seemed to show less emotion than Holt, who was the actual zombie. She didn’t seem nearly as charismatic or lively as she is depicted in the novel: however, the film’s version of Julie has a grittier, older feel–and for a moment or two it feels like the movie version of The Hunger Games. (Which perhaps was the point?)

What I applaud the film most for is the horrific visual of the Boneys, skeleton-like zombies who within the novel are the leaders of the Zombie “hives”. They were truly grotesque in movements and presentations. They even made me jump.

Though, I wish that the film has stuck with the ending given to Julie’s father, General Grigio. It better reflected the comparison between current humanity and zombies, and though grim, I felt was more suitable. But alas, Hollywood loves their happy endings!

I rate the novel a 7 out of 10 on the restless writer scale, and the movie a four out of five cupcakes.

All and all, both the film and novel are worthwhile time-passers for this winter. And for those who love romance and also zombies–these are to die for. (Or perhaps to live!)

Les Miserables will make you miserable! (But in a feel-good kind of way)

15 Jan

I wasn’t exactly sure of the plot of Les Miserables, but I understood what the title meant: “The Miserables.” So, one thing was certain; I wasn’t signing myself up for a family comedy.

Even so, I was convinced that I had to see it. After all, it’s a musical, and I haven’t yet met a musical that I haven’t liked.And I had always wanted to see the play. So, as the lights dimmed and the music drummed up, along with a surge of sea-sounds and booming baritone voices, I felt a thrilled chill dance along my vertebrae.That chill was only the start of what felt like an enveloping experience at the movie theaters.

If one has never seen Les Miserables, it is a mildly difficult thing to try to explain in mere words the emotional force that the music seems to contain. (But I will do what I can!) Les Miserables is a musical emotional force. It starts and ends with a heavy orchestral hand that leaves you slightly a-gape. Les Miserables is more like an opera than a musical, as there is little to no spoken dialogue and nearly all of the major plot is in song, which could have been a huge drawback if the singing wasn’t generally well done. (With an exception of Russell Crowe, who plays the chaotic good cop, Javert, who comes to an end that I believe should come to all poor singers.)

Each scene is loaded with a raw humanity: a prisoner who has hardened his heart, a priest who opens it again, a mother who does anything she can to support her child alone, a child abandoned and found again, a man rebuilt, learning to love, be loved and let go, a young man finding his place in the world and learning loss. Saying that this movie is heavy, hardly covers the plunge into problems that Les Miserables rockets its audience through. This film is not for the faint of heart. (I recommend stocking up on extra napkins at the concession stand if you don’t have tissues on hand.)

Les Miseables opens with the main character, Jean Valjean (Hugh Jackman), working as a slave in a shipyard. The prisoners are waist deep in seawater as they struggle to bring a wounded ship to port. Manacled at the neck and hands, they sing a powerful baritone rendition of, “Look down”. Here the audience is also introduced to the main villain, Jevert (Russell Crowe) who seems to particularly loves to break Valjean. Valjean, having filled his prison sentence, is handed his papers to be free, but they mark his as a “dangerous man”. Once free of the prison, Valjean is still treated like a criminal and finds himself unable to find a job or shelter. Instead, he finds himself sleeping on a doorstep. Luckily, a kindly priest discovers him there and takes him in for the night. Desparate, Valjean steals away the Church’s silver in the night and runs off before they wake–but is immediately caught and brought back before the priest by the police. But the priest proclaims Valjean innocent and the police are forced to let him free. Valjean then makes a point to turn his life around and the movie follows his story.

There are of course multiple branches, time frames and points of views throughout the film. The character Fontaine (Ann Hathaway) is introduced next as a factory worker who is separate to support her child, and ends up selling her teeth, her hair and her body to male strangers. Her story is a tragic one, but her daughter Cosette(Amanda Seyfried) is more fortunate as Valjean takes her in as his own daughter and raises her under his new alias.

Yet, Javert soon discovers him and realizes that he is the former thief who skipped parole and seeks to recapture him. The story leads the audience through the brutal French revolution, introducing yet another character, Marius (Eddie Redmayne) who falls for the lovely Cosette.

Though the story is full of absolute misery, death, and despair–it has such a powerful beauty that though you might be a little boogery by the end you feel a sense of revitalization. Small flecks of humor lighten the otherwise heavy atmosphere throughout the film, and the tiny glimmers of love throughout the otherwise dark film seem large and luminous in comparison.

All and all, I would see this film again and found myself humming “I dream a dream” all the way out of the theater. Les Miserables brings humanity back to film and I give it four cupcakes out of five.

Les Miserables

Disney Doesn’t “Wreck-it” with Wreck-It Ralph

10 Nov

After the more recent disappointments of The Borrower Arrietty and Brave, I was somewhat wary to see Disney’s most recent animated film, Wreck-it Ralph.

The advertisements looked promising, giving me a small hope that this would be the film that once more redeemed Disney’s animated films in my eyes, but I reminded myself that the ads for Brave and Arrietty had looked gorgeous too. So when my boyfriend and I finally made it down to the theater this week, I held my breath as the lights dimmed.

To my great relief, Disney had pulled it off. (Possible Spoiler alert!)

Wreck-it Ralph opens with a pixilated Steam-boat Willie, and then the lead character, Ralph begins to narrate over a close up of what appears to be an old arcade game, complete with 8-bit music, where we see Ralph living his day-to-day.

Ralph is the bad guy–but as all the ads point out (and  out of Street Fighter Zangeef’s mouth)–he isn’t a bad guy. It’s easy to feel badly for Ralph, a character who is programmed to be the villain of his game, wrecking an apartment for the hero, Felix, to fix; however, even after the arcade closes and the characters are allowed to be themselves, Ralph is still rejected by his fellow game characters and lives a lonely life in the dump.

The story takes place on the 30th anniversary of Wreck-it Ralph’s game, Fix-it Felix JR, with Ralph attending what appears to be an Alcoholic’s Anonymous style meeting of game villains where he admits that he wishes he knew what it felt like to be the hero. Here Disney playfully injects bad guys from games as familiar as Bowser from Super Mario, Zangeef from Street Fighter, A Pac man Ghost, and Dr. Robotnik from Sonic the Hedgehog along with characters the younger generation may recognize. (I couldn’t figure them out myself.) Ralph also admits that he doesn’t want to be the bad guy any more–but the group of baddies laugh it off and encourage him to take it, “one game at a time.” and not to “go turbo”.

After returning from his meeting, Ralph realizes that the other characters in his game are celebrating their 30 year anniversary with a party and, a little hurt his invitation never arrived, promptly makes an appearance there. The hero in his game, Felix, is a sweet and utterly loveable little man with a magic hammer is urged by his fellow characters to “get rid” of Ralph. Too nice to tell Ralph to hit the bricks, Felix invites Ralph in for cake instead, where Ralph is egged on by some of the other characters and ultimately he ruins the party. Ralph insists to the disbelieving group that he could earn metals just as easily as the hero, Felix, and is challenged by another character that if he gets a metal he live with them in the apartment instead of in the dump.

Urged on by the idea of living with the other game characters, Ralph embarks on a journey to obtain his own hero metal.

The audience travels with Ralph on his journey to be a hero and to be treated fairly through various games as Ralph “game jumps” to a very Halo-esq game called, Hero’s Duty, a one person shooter where he is faced with massive Bug-monsters that become whatever they eat. With absolutely no finesse, Ralph manages to steal a metal, but in doing so, also launches himself (literally) into another game as he struggles with a Bug that has clung to him in a stolen escape pod. They crash land in a game called, Sugar Rush, which is sort of like a candy-land racing game, where the Bug sinks and disappears in frosting. Here Ralph encounters a little girl called, Vanelope Schweet, who promptly steals his hero metal, thinking it’s a coin.

It turns out that Vanelope is in her own string of trouble,  and like Ralph, facing  isolation from her fellow game characters. The other characters claim Vanelope is a glitch that can’t be allowed to race with the other characters (or compete in the reindeer games!) and feeling badly for the girl, Ralph promises to help her.

Meanwhile, In Ralph’s game, the Arcade is open for business again and Ralph is a no show. Gamers who play notice the missing villain and bring it to the manager’s attention thinking the game is broken. Felix and the other characters finally realize that Ralph is missing and Felix promises to “fix-it” and sets off to find Ralph before the plug on their game is pulled. Felix and the female captain from Hero’s Duty team up, Felix searching for Ralph and the captain seeking out the Bug that escaped her game with Ralph.

Wreck-it Ralph is a movie about not making judgements–but even the villain of this film may surprise you. I think it may have been a first for me since I was young that I didn’t immediately know who the villain was and I loved the surprise. (I won’t spoil it for you.) The film is full of jokes that all ages can enjoy between the obvious “duty” jokes to the more adult themed (over the kids heads) jokes, this film is one I would consider seeing in theaters again.  Disney managed to pull it out of the bag for me on this one. The graphics are smooth and gorgeous and even the music is helplessly catchy. It gets a five our of five cupcakes from the Restless Writer scale.

 

ParaNormon Paraphrased: A Movie Review

19 Aug

Norman isn’t normal–in fact–he’s paranormal–as the trailers would have you believe. My  little brother and I, both avid fans of movies such as Coraline, Corpse Bride and of course, the classic stop-animation recollection from my childhood, Nightmare Before Christmas decided that we absolutely had to see ParaNorman. In the dark of the old-fashioned Cameo Theater in Weymouth, we munched happily on candies and waited eagerly for the film to start. The best part? I only paid $5 per ticket for this lovely Sunday Matinee–and aside from my kid brother and myself, there was only four other people in the entire theater. But come the end of the film we found that ParaNoraman slightly missed the mark, and pales in comparison to our other stop-motion favorites.

Following the recent trend of Gothic looking characters and backgrounds in stop-motion, Paranorman opened up right away with our main hero, Norman, watching an old-time cheesy Zombie movie with his grandmother, which gives the audience a sort of foreshadowing as to what sort of mischief Norman will lead the audience into later. Norman is called into the kitchen by his parents to take out the trash and is asked by his Grandmother to ask them to turn up the heat, as she’s terribly cold. Norman scoots off to his parents in the kitchen–and the audience is straight away confronted with the aggressive, non-supportive father figure and the over lovey feeling mother character.  When Norman asks for the heat to be turned up for his Grandmother–it’s explained that his Grandmother is dead. His Father, it is made clear in the first few moments of the movie, and regularly enough throughout the film to make me dislike him, thinks Norman is a freak. His  older sister Courney, seems to agree. His mother takes a more open-minded, but level approach–but is almost to the point of being unbearably understanding throughout the whole film. All the same, this scene makes it clear to us that Norman can see and speak to the dead. That’s about where the charm in this movie ended for me.

Unlike it’s predecessors, ParaNorman stuck with an extremely modern undertone throughout the whole film. The old-timey, good-old-days charm that films such as Coraline or Corpse Bride held are essentially lost in ParaNorman. I believe it is for this reason that the film just didn’t give off that same feel-good vibe that we had come to expect. Like the Corpse Bride, the movie takes a long look at death–a rather weighty subject for most adults, never mind children–but the constant heaviness that comes with it, the constant battering of negative comments at Norman the main character and the ultimately dark lesson of accepting others cruelness as their fear, accepting whatever that makes them do to you and moving on made this film really not sit well with me.

On the plus side, the animation in this film is really well done. Compared to the stop-go motion of old, like Gumby and Pokey, it’s amazing to see how far stop-go animation has come. Most things look impressive and rather realistic as far as stop-go puppets go. Also, this movie is really genuinely trying to reach out to the newer generation. (Just in a rather negative scope.) Bullying is a major focus of the film, as is the acceptance of people different than you. ( Spoiler! The biggest reach out was that Mitch turns out to have a boyfriend.)  But other than that the movie is very much real to life–people are mean to each other, people are stupid, people judge and life tends to be crap–which isn’t what I personally go to see an animated film for. And I expect wasn’t what my kid brother had hoped for either. He put it best to sum up this movie when I asked what he had thought when he said,

“It was okay.” with a shrug of his shoulders.

On the Suddenleighanyonymous scale this movie rates a three out of ten. Another wait for DVD or rental or if you can avoid spending more than $5 on a movie ticket.

 

The Campaign Review (Spoilers!)

13 Aug

Hello my faithful sidekicks!

So, lately, I haven’t been keeping up with this blog as much as I would like–between writing and life–things keep getting in the way. But I’ve had two days off from work now -faint applause in the distance- and actually found myself sitting still long enough to formulate some kind of a post.

This past Friday my boyfriend and I took in the new movie, The Campaign, with Will Ferrell and Zach Galifianakis. We had seen the trailers previously–and we knew the humor would be crude–but what we hadn’t realized was that the humor would also be rather dark.

In The Campaign,congressman Cam Brady (Will Ferrell) appears to be running unopposed for his fifth consecutive term for North Carolina–but two rich CEO’s (Dan Aykroyd and John Lilthgow) have a power plot in mind. With hopes of selling this district of North Carolina to China for a sweatshop for higher profit, the CEO’s back a new cadidate: Marty Huggins ( Zach Galifianakis) to run against him. Ferrell’s character is an immensely corrupt, somewhat insane congressman that will do literally anything to win back his position in congress. He is unfaithful to his wife with one of his “groupies” as well as with his opponent’s wife for an advertisement. (Which was meant to e funny, I guess, but I found borderline disturbing.) He is a hyper-sexed example of a corrupt politician in the U.S.

Unlike the corrupt  Cam Brady, Galifianakis’s character Marty Huggins is a slightly effeminate, family-oriented, awkward, badly dressed but utterly ordinary guy. (A pretty typical set up. Like the Odd Couple.) He had been previously giving tours of his tiny town, and seemed genuinely happy with his simple life. Once the Motch brothers (the CEO’s) take an interest in him, his whole life is turned upside down  He is assigned a new advisor, Tim Watley (Dylan McDermott) who makes him change everything about himself, from his beloved Pug dogs to his hygiene. Soon the movie leads us to see that Marty is tearing his life apart to win this campaign, ignoring his wife and kids and becoming a less-than lovable character as he sabotages Cam Brady’s campaign at Tim’s advice. It isn’t until Marty is confronted with the truth of his backing from the Motch Brothers that he sees the flaws in his actions. He refuses to make illegal wage concessions for the sweatshop, and turns his back on the CEO’s to try and save his town.

When Marty begins to win the campaign, Cam’s wife leaves him and does not return until the Motch Brothers change sides and pays her to be with him for appearances. Due to the power and monetary control that the CEO’s have over the election, Cam Brady wins–but steps down–acknowledging that somewhere along the way he has lost his way and his desire to fight for the people–giving Marty the job.

The humor within this film was funny at times, but at other times too close to reality to be anything other than disturbing. The personal attacks that both Ferrell and Galifianakis’s characters make on one another take a satirical jab at the current election campaigns and the points out the speed in which campaigns can become childishly and inappropriately personal.

On the Suddenleigh scale I’d say this one is probably a four out of ten. It may be a better idea to wait for this one to hit DVD.