Friday, June 20, 2014

22 Jump Street (2014)

22 Jump Street is of course the sequel to 21 Jump Street. If you saw the first film, then you know what to expect from this one. They don't deviate from the established formula to much, and even reference that fact through out the movie. In fact the movie constantly commentates on what it is doing, and even criticizes itself throughout. Usually that is not a positive sign, given that and what at first seems like a rehashed story from the last film, is there really any reason to see this one? If you saw Hangover, then saw Hangover 2, you know that simply using the same material does not work. Did 22 Jump Street suffer from the same misfortune? Short answer, probably.

The story this time, Schmidt and Jenko (Hill and Tatum) are sent to college to find the supplier of a new drug called Whyphy. They are to infiltrate the dealer, and find the supplier. During the movie they of course take the drug, party, and one of them feels left out. Exactly like the first film, something Ice Cube tells them over and over again. That and the department having a bigger budget is the ongoing joke of the film. It gets tired quickly, though the fact that they do change up the story and create a somewhat different film did make it seem more relevant in the end. There are small changes at first, this time Schmidt is the one who seems left out while Jenko fits right in. Jenko actually gets the majority of the story in this film. He aligns himself with the football team as they suspect the dealer is on it. Jenko of course accels at the sport and begins to focus on that and his new team mates more then the case. Schmidt once again finds himself a girlfriend and hangs out with the art majors. We don't see to much of what they are doing, but we do get introduced to Jillian Bell's character Mercedes through him. She comes off pretty much exactly like her role in Workaholics, which at first was great. But as she kept showing up, it tended to lose its appeal. The comedy in Workaholics is very different then this movie, and the styling just didn't cross over as well as I wanted it to. Still her first few appearances were a treat.

Is the movie funny, or better, it is more funny then the original? Well if you liked the comedy of the first one, you will enjoy this one. However it is no where near the level of the original sadly. The tone is very different, though it still defaults to immature humor more often then not. In the first film we had plenty of Humor from Tatem dealing with how out of place or idiotic his character was. In this film he is in his element and that awkward humor that came across so brilliantly in the first film is lacking. It also lacks the huge stand out moments the first one had. No Korean Jesus, or any other moments that just stay with you after the film. The bike cop segments at the beginning are something I will always think of when that movie is brought up. That is not to say I didn't laugh through out most of it, but just not as much as the first film. Ice Cube still delivers great laughs, and has a larger role in this film. Nick Offerman uses his straight style of comedy quite well, and still turns in a enjoyable performance. Honestly I felt most of the comedic lacking came from Hill, who is known for comedy. He had a few scenes that drug on for far to long, and some of his bits just didn't seem to connect with me. Still though, a overall funny movie. Just not at the level I enjoyed the first film.

One big thing that I loved about the first film, was the villain. Dave Franco did such a great job on that film, he really helped it along in a big way. Brie Larson was another role that really did a lot for that film. In this movie however we don't have that big villain or a Dave Franco role. And Brie Larson is replaced by Amber Stevens, who does well enough, but her character wasn't as entertaining. This was another reason I felt this film was lacking compared to the first. We don't know who the dealer is in this film until the end, and the overall cast just does not keep my interest the same way the first one did. Franco does make a cameo, though it is short lived and has little comedic impact.

The over all production value of the movie seemed higher. They had bigger scenes and more going on. But it did not really add to the film. The finally was spring break and had helicopters, and fast cars. But it was also the weakest scene of the film. It seemed like maybe they tried to do to much with this one. Add in all the call backs to the first film, and it starts to loose its footing very quickly. While I still enjoyed the movie, and felt it was worth the money I paid for it....I don't see myself ever buying, or even renting it once it comes out on dvd. If you enjoyed the first film, it is worth seeing. But go into it with lower expectations. Also watch the credits, as it spoils the ideas for the next 50 or so Jump Street films in a pretty decent montage.

In the end, it was a solid film. It just failed to live up to the greatness of the original. I should have seen How to Train Your Dragon 2 instead.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Grudge Match (2013)

By this point most people will have already seen this, so a short review seems to be the best idea. Grudge Match is a movie about 2 retired boxers who have spent the last 30 years of their lifes suffering the fallout of their final match. They had a 2 fight series in which each fighter won once, but the final match to determine who was better never happened. Each fighter has their reasons for hating the other, and the movie comes across as more of a drama then a comedy. It deals with their every day lives and reasons for wanting that last fight, more then the actual boxing itself.

Sylvester Stallone plays one fighter, while Robert De Niro plays the other. Kevin Hart puts the fight together as the Promoter, and tries to simply get his life back together by profiting off of it. Each fighter is now way out of fighting shape, and neither has kept up with their training, but that doesn't stop them from getting into it seemingly every opportunity they get. While recording lines and doing motion capture work for a video game, the two get into a physical altercation which is then put up on youtube. That is how the final fight comes about, the video gets so much attention that they decide their is a market for it. Stallone who retired calling off the 3rd match 30 years ago, is not interested in another fight. However many bills and him trying to help support his old trainer forces him into it. De Niro has done better in life, and his his own business that provides him with enough money. His motivation is very different, and he wants the fight to finally prove he is better. The fact that that last fight never happened has dictated his life the past 30 years, and changed him into a bitter old man with no real likable qualities.

As the movie progresses we learn why the fight never happened, and more as to why both fighters are suddenly so into it 30 years later. We learn that Stallone only retired to take away the one thing that truely mattered to De Niro, and why he hates him so much. As the movie continues we are meant to grow attached to both these characters, but that sadly does not happen. Until the final few minutes, De Niro never comes across as likable, he never redeems himself. Stallone on the other hand tries to accept the past and starts to work on the mistakes he made in life. The movie ends with him in a much better place, and you are happy for him. De Niro on the other hand, you simply don't like or care about. It made the movie so lacking, as he is a huge part of it and a focal point of most of the film. While the acting was superb, if I don't care about the character or his story, acting will not be enough to carry my interest.

The finally was decent, though nothing spectacular. I thought the way the fight played out was kind of poorly handled. De Niro makes a conscious decision late into the fight that I know his character would have never made, and it just felt out of place. The entire film reminded me of the far superior movie "Warrior (2011)" with Tom Hardy and Joel Edgerton. Everything about that movie was just better. Stronger story, much more emotional and had me far more invested in it. And the fighting was vastly superior. Not to say Grudge Match wasn't decent, but it felt like it never lived up to what it wanted to accomplish. In the end I had trouble finishing it after losing interest a couple of times. Kevin Hart and Alan Arkin kept me in the film however, and provided much of the comedy to try and break up the more serious moments.

Not a bad movie, but nothing great.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox (2013)

*This movie is not for kids. Yes it is a cartoon, and most parents will rent it for their children from redbox without looking at the content. We see Batman shooting people in the head, literally blowing their brains out. We see children being killed, one having their throat slit. We see somebodies heart ripped out, limbs removed, people disintegrated and burned. DC makes animation for adults, and they stick true to the comic source. If your kid is in his teens or older, they are probably fine. But just know what you are giving them.

I love DC animated films, they consistently deliver super hero goodness at a level most other films fall short on. Recently I reviewed X-men Days of future past, I enjoyed it. However They did not follow the actual story, and the variations they did make, ended up making for a weaker story overall. Why do companies do this? Because comics are a very different medium, they tell long stories over many months and sometimes years. A movie can not do that, you have 2 hours and have to make it work. Big studios won't take risks, but a straight to dvd animated feature can. And DC always delivers on these.

The story is about Flash, and since he is getting his own tv series, it seemed like a good time to bring this film up. Barry Allen is the flash, and he has a decent life. However his origin like most, is not a happy tale. His mother was murdered when he was a child, and he blames himself for not being their. One of his main villains is Eobard Thawne from the 25th century. He also goes by Professor Zoom, or the reverse flash. If you don't know about Flash, his powers come from the speed force. I won't go into that, but know other people who draw from that, all draw from the same source. So there is a limited amount of power, so having 2 flashes active at one time weakens their potential. Zoom uses the speed force as well, which is a major plot point. Flash is almost killed, but him and the Justice League save the day as they usually do. He wakes up however in a world that is different from the one he knows. Batman is a murderous vigilante that uses firearms and blades instead of the non-lethal hero who hates such things that we know. Some villians are not good guys, some heroes are now villians. Aquaman and Wonder Woman are at war, and humanity is being wiped out as a casualty of said war. Barry believes something happened int he past to alter how the world would turn out, but he now has no powers and can't really influence or change the past to right the events.

The other world is the main setting for the movie, and it does a great job of taking the established heroes and creating something new from them. In that world Bruce Wayne's parents never died, instead the killer murdered Bruce in that alley. His father then beat the mugger to death while his mother went crazy. Batman is now Bruce's father Thomas Wayne, and his mother is now the Joker. Now imagine if every hero has had their past altered to that degree, and you start to see the creativity and opportunities this story has to offer.

As I said in the opening, this movie is not for kids. It is violent, and slightly graphic. While most of the dirty is done off camera, you do have some "oh ****" moments. The movie does not shy away from showing you the horrors it creates, and I think it is better for that. I couldn't help but think, they would never do a live action like this, while watching. Which is to bad, because I honestly think if they did it right, it would be a amazing comic book film. But if I have to stick to animated, I am glad DC is behind it. The animation style was fantastic, and everything looked great. They always get solid voice actors to. Nathan Fillion is one again Hal Jordan. Which reminds me, why is he not always Jordan? Why does he not play him in the live action films to? Flash was played by Justin Chambers who I had never heard of before, but he did a great job with the character. And Bruce Batman was done by Kevin Conroy, as he should always be.

If you like the comics, you need to check this movie out. It acts as a prequel to Justice League War, and was honestly a little better then that one was. I loved the new world with the messed up time line, and seeing what eventually caused it was a great reveal. It told a clever story, with a fresh look at the heroes we know and love. While I never read the flashpoint books, this telling of it was amazing and something I can't recommend enough.

Oculus (2013)

*I won't go to indepth into the story on this one. The movie plays off you not really knowing that aspect of it. So in order to keep your enjoyment, I will just give out some thoughts about the movie while keeping information about what happened during it to a minimal.

Oculus was a film I knew nothing about, except it was being put out by WWE studios. That usually means a wrestler is in the movie, though I don't recall that being the case this time. It also means every Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and some Sundays, I was bombed with adds for this movie while watching the one tv show I consistently follow. It also meant I had zero interest in this by the time it came out, and had actually built up some detest towards it as well. That is also the same reason I never saw The Call or whatever the last WWE movie was called. However my wife was overly excited to see this, and constantly asked me if we could check it out. Finally that worked out, and we sat down to enjoy what I could only assume would be a waste of time.

I don't watch a lot of Horror, they just don't appeal to me very often. So while I have read some criticism about the plot to this movie, and how predictable and over done it is....well that didn't apply to me. It actually came off as a really neat idea, and a very unique movie. While I did call the ending about 15 minutes into it, the journey was more then enough to keep me interested. The story is that there is a mirror, that mirror is possessed and kills off its owners by feeding on their life force and driving them crazy. It can manipulate them and force them to do things they normally wouldn't, and can distort their views on reality and what they perceive is going on around them. What we get is a story that takes place in two times spaced out about 10 years apart. We see the mirror come into a family, and then we see the kids from that family trying to destroy the mirror 10 years later. The in-between is then filled in as we see both stories played out. We know the son Tim has spent most of his time in a psyc ward and his Sister was on the outside left alone to deal with her emotional trauma. She has re-acquired the mirror and when her brother is finally released, they decide to destroy it.

This is actually where the movie picks up. The sister Kaylie played by Karen Gillian goes very much overboard in her quest. She wants to show her family was not responsible for the tragedy that happens to them, and wants to prove the mirror has powers. She sets up many cameras in her house with there own power supplies, as well as many other items in order to prove what they capture on film is indeed real. She has timers for when they need to eat, drink, change batteries, and even outside sources calling her from outside the mirrors range of influence to constantly check in on them. There is more, and it all comes off as delightfully crazy, which added to the film for me. You see, Tim believes his sister is crazy, and for awhile so did I. The film does a good job of trying to confuse you by jumping back and forth between timelines. It also cleverly hides what exactly is going on. Tim and Kaylie each see different things happening at the same time, they have different memories of the past. The film tries to make you question whether the mirror really does have something inside of it, or if it is all in Kaylie's head. I enjoyed that aspect of it.

The movie does tell two stories, but they converge into one, in more ways then you might imagine. Remember how I said the mirror was able to manipulate people and change how they see what is going on? Well that plays into effect greatly here. The two time lines start to cross paths and the different versions of the characters start to interact with each other. It is almost as if they are reliving those moments, but they also appear to be there themselves. It was a cool effect, and further made me believe, damn these kids might just be crazy after all.

While the ending was a little weak, and you will see it coming a mile away, the movie over all was still very solid. I enjoyed it for what it was, and I enjoyed all the little twists and turns. Seeing the two siblings lose it was more satisfying then I thought it would be. And while there really were no scares, it still had some suspense to help out the pacing.

Knights of Badassdom (2013)

Knights of Badassdom is a movie that simply put, it not for everybody. Honestly it might not be for a lot of people, which does work against it. However if you can look past the silliness, the poor effects, and the subject matter of the film, there is actually something really great here. I would say if you are interested in this one, go into it with lower expectations then you probably have. The Director of the film is not pleased with the final version, mostly due to how much it has changed from what was originally intended. The financiers did not care for the original cut, and basically refused to put the film out unless they got control over how it was put together. What we are now given is their cut of the film, and it is not one without issues. The reasons given for this, was hopefully to make the film appeal to a larger audience, but honestly I think it had the opposite effect.

The story at its core, is a about a break up. Joe (Ryan Kwanten) has just been dumped by his girlfriend. Her reasoning made no sense to me, as she was upset he lived with his friend who was a millionaire, and more then happy to fund Joe's life. Joe just writes heavy metal songs, has his dream job, and lives in a castle with his 2 best friends. Honestly how is that not the perfect life? But his girlfriend wants more from him, she wan'ts him to change his life to fit what she thinks is the proper mold. Joe is saddened and his friends Eric (Steve Zahn) and Hung (Peter Dinklage) abduct him, and bring him to a weekend long LARP event without his consent. Before we continue I would like to point out weekend long LARP events are a real thing, and I am pissed off nobody told me this before now. As Joe has not played in years, his character is considered dead. They have to do a resurrection ceremony to revive him, and Eric being a level 26 Wizard is the guy for the job.

*LARP is Liave Action Role Play. Basically imagine Dungeons and Dragons but played out in real life. People get in costume, decide on classes and jobs, and make large foam weapons. They then have actual fights and large scale battles with each other. Having never actually experienced it myself, it looks like the best thing ever. Back to the story....

Eric uses a old book he bought off of ebay, written in a language he doesn't understand, because it makes the spell sound cooler. He also sings it, well because it makes it more entertaining for us. The spell book turns out to be real, and they instead summon a Succubus into the world. She starts killing off the gamers, and our heroes have to use there medieval skills to defeat her.

If you are wondering if this movie is for you, let me ask you this. Did you know what LARP was before, and does it interest you? Do you like Metal, and do you think it could be used as a script for casting a spell? Does seeing Peter Dinklage in full LARP gear, high on shrooms teaming up with Danny Pudi (Abed from Community) sound awesome to you?

Let me talk about Peter Dinklage for a moment. I don't watch Game of Thrones, it is not on hulu and I don't have cable. I have read the books though, and I have seen many clips on youtube and other places. Dinklage is one of the high points from what I have seen, and he continues that trend in this movie. He is the main source of comedy, and you can tell he really had a great time filming this. We see him running around with his swords screaming at the top of his lungs. He really just gets into it, and comes off over the top, but in a good way. Add in that his character is on druges the whole film, and it just takes it up to another level. We see him trying to act like a badass one moment, then putting flowers in his hair the next. Other stand out roles were Danny Pudi, who could have used more screen time, but was entertaining none the less. Summer Glau played one of the main roles, and while she didn't really do anything to make her stand out, she was by no means bad in this. Steve Zahn was about what you would expect from his previous work. He was humorous, and did well as one of the main focus points of the film. He does not come across as one of the strongest actors in the film, but he greatly fits his role. He really does seem like the kind of guy who would spend his weekends out in the woods playing these games. I think he was a great casting choice.

The special effects in this movie range from good, to god awful. The Succubus kills people in gory fashions, and that always looked great. However the later half of the film includes a demonic presence that is comprised entirely of CGI and just looks awful and fake. There is also a huge showdown at the end, which should have easily been the strongest scene in the film. Ryan Kwanten sings a heavy metal ballad to summon a undead Warrior to fight the Demon in a duel. Honestly that line alone would have gotten me to buy the dvd, so it is a shame it looked so fake when it does happen. Still a great scene and good fun, but it was not as good as it easily could have been.

A cool idea for a film with some minor issues. A directors cut is a dream of mine, though I don't know if we will ever get one. Peter Dinklage kills it and makes every scene he is in infinitely better. The movie uses a cast that will appeal to its core audience, people who know who Summer Glau is, and portrays LARPing in what I consider a positive way. Ryan Kwanten won me over, and while he is not actually singing those songs, he owns that last scene with his performance. Knights of Badassdom is not a horrible movie, it is just a missed opportunity. What we receive is likely the only version we will ever see. While it is different from its intended form, that does not mean there is nothing to enjoy here. Give it a watch, have some laughs, and just enjoy it for what it is. A decent film about why being a nerd is not a bad thing.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

X-men: Days of Future Past

Everybody loves Marvel Movies, and by that I mean Marvel Studios movies. Iron Man, Avengers, Captain America, they are huge movies and almost like a event when a new one comes out. Fox studios however doesn't quite have the best track record. The x-men films in general don't have a great record either. The Wolverine solo films, X-3, even First Class was rather poorly received. So for X fans, Days of Future Past was a big deal. It was a chance for them to win some of the fans back, and try to compete with Marvel Studios offerings. However the franchise has been left in shambles before this movie came out. Most of the X-roster was killed in X-3. Seeing as this movie takes place both before and after that, it became a huge issue. Was the movie able to overcome those issues, and give the fans the film they have been waiting years for? Well sadly, I find that a hard question to answer. Fans of the comics will be split, but those who never read it might be as well. This is not a action movie, and while it does work off of a strong story, it might be slower then most people expect. Fox sets a very different tone then the fun fast paced movies Marvel is putting out. I worry people will go into it expecting it to be something it is not. Early on they said this movie would accept the early 3 x-men films as cannon. However it did seem to pick and choose which parts of those movies it wanted to use and which parts it didn't. Go into this just assuming X-X3 never happened, or you may just be confused by certain things.

It was neat seeing how much better of a movie they could make, when they actually decided to draw influence from a great established story instead of simply making up their own. Days of Future Past is a story line published in 81, that has been revisited multiple times since then. I don't think it would be considered a iconic x-men story, but it is a very well known one. And one that seems to pop up in every form of entertainment the x-men take. The most recent x-men cartoon pretty much devoted its its final few episodes to it. So for the movie to tackle it is a big deal. In the comic, Kitty Pride is sent back in time. The Sentinels are hunting mutants down and placing them in camps. They have recently taken over America, and are now turning their attention worldwide. With fear of a nuclear holocaust, the x-men project Kitty's mind 30+ years into the past. Her mind takes over her younger self in the early 80's, and she is given a chance to stop a major event thought to cause that future. In the movies however, Kitty Pride is not really a established character. So they decided to do what they always do, and give the reigns to Wolverine instead. The future is roughly the same, camps and oppression. Wolverine is sent back instead, and returns to the 70's to try and unite a young Charles Xavier and Eric Lensherr. (Prof X and Magneto) The actual story that takes place in the 70's is very different from the books, but it stands on its own. Mystique is going to kill Bolivar Trask who is trying to get the Sentinel project established and off the ground. Originally the US turns down his proposal, but when she kills him and is then captured, they decide to go ahead with it after all. Her DNA is used to create hybrid Sentinels with her shape shifting ability, which then can adapt to fight any mutant ability.

Magneto is a very unique character, and one that the movie does very well. He is a horrible person at this point in time, and the movie does not shy away from that. Logan (Wolverine) has to try and appeal to his love of mutant kind to get him on their side. While the movie does alter many characters greatly, Magneto stays true to his comic book self. It is why he is one of the stronger roles, they don't mess with a working formula. Charles however is the exact opposite. He has a drug problem, and he is lost. While I found it believable given his circumstances, it was in no way similar to the Charles from the books. In the movie he has given up his mutant powers for a drug that makes it so he can walk again. He does not seem to care about the mutants, and even when he joins Logan's cause, it is not to help his race. He has even shut down the school, and is no longer offering to help young mutants. While I did enjoy seeing this new Xavier, fans of his may not. Given the context of the story, I feel the changes worked well however. I also enjoyed the change from Mystique's target being from Robert Kelly to Bolivar Trask. Trask is played by Peter Dinklage, and while he never gets in stand out moments, he did a solid job none the less. Really everybody did a good job with their roles. I can't think of anybody I just didn't like or care for. Even the Quicksilver character that everybody seemed so down on before the movie came out. He was easily one of the more entertaining parts of the film.

The movie takes place in the 70's, and then 50 years after some math....2020's? Each time has a different roster of active mutants, and different casts of characters. There is one scene where young Charles and old Charles have a conversation with each other. It was a really cool moment that was slightly ruined by the fact that they look nothing like each other. Unless James McAvoy gets some serious work done, he won't grow up to be Patrick Stewart. However seeing them balance the two teams was pretty neat. And the future team is filled with some new and old faces. Colossus, Kitty, Iceman, Storm, Magneto, Wolverine, Professor X from the original 3 X-men movies. While adding in fan favorites Blink, Bishop, Warpath, and Sunfire. By not really having to establish those characters, or even explain anything about them, they were able to just toss them into the mix. You are not told what they can do, but instead shown their powers in a opening sequence that really set the tone for the entire movie. The future sequences were some of my favorite parts of the film, mostly because of Blink. Her powers were very well handled, and the way then incorporated her Portals into the battles was very well thought out. Her powers actually had some of the better special effects in the movie.

Sadly special effects were both a strong point, and a weak one in this film. Certain mutant powers looked great. Blink and her portals were fantastic, but Colossus and his metal skin looked awful. It just looked like some sort of silver liquid was covering his body. Bishop absorbing energy and seeing it course through him looked very neat. Watching Mystique transform not so much. You get some great moments with Magneto lifting and throwing large objects like it is nothing. The future Sentinels look very cool and seeing them adapt and switch up powers was a visual treat. But then they follow it up with Iceman or Beast who just looks ridiculous when transformed. They did put Kelsey Grammer Beast in for a quick Cameo at one point, he looked so much better then the younger version. It was just odd how they could use CGI so poorly and so well in a single film. There was no consistency. One of the best scenes in the movie involved Quicksilver, a mutant who can run very fast. The entire scene was CGI and involved him basically freezing time and running around the walls while manipulating everything around him. It was incredible, and just made all the other CGI blunders look even worse in comparison.

The movie to me was more of a drama then action film. There were a few good action sequences, however most of the fighting took place in the future. With the majority of the film taking place in the past, most of it was more focused on telling a story. I think that worked well, and I found I really enjoyed the over all experience. The slower pace helped them focus on the different characters, and we are able to see some of them develop as time goes by. X-men: Days of future past is a very different film then other super hero movies out there right now. It may not be as good as Captain America 2, but it also feels like a very different type of film. It is however better then the more recent X-men films, and really that was all I wanted. While I do hope the next one focuses on something other then Wolverine, seeing as he does have his own franchise, he didn't deter from my enjoyment. Days of Future Past is a solid film, and with them announcing Apocalypse as the villain of the next movie, it does a great job of making you feel like maybe they can actually pull that off.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Ride Along (2014)

Ride Along is a movie staring comedian Kevin Hart, and Ice Cube. Ice Cube plays James Payton, a cop who is also the brother of Kevin Harts characters girlfriend. Hart plays Ben Barber who is a school security guard who wants to become a cop. He feels that accomplishing that will make him worthy of being able to start a life with his girlfriend. He wants to marry her, but he feels like he needs the approval of her brother James. You get the feeling the cop thing is simply a means to do that. James decides to take him on a ride along in order to show him he is not cut out for the job, or his sister, and hopefully get rid of Ben. Obviously other stuff happens, shenanigans ensue, and there is a bigger event at play. Not exactly a great story, but as this is a comedy, it doesn't really need to be anything grand or spectacular.

So if the laughs are going to be the movies main appeal, how well does it do in that area? Let me ask you this, do you like Kevin Hart's stand up? He brings that same whiny voiced, high energy to this role. I don't know that he improved a lot of his lines, but it felt like he did. They had a very similar style of humor that you expect from him, and I think that really helped the movie out. If Kevin Hart fans are what this movie is trying to appeal to, it makes sense to just let him do his thing. Ice Cube on the other hand, not so great at the comedy. He is often trying to play the straight man to Harts more eccentric personality. He does get a few opportunities to be humorous, but he doesn't have the comedic presence that Hart does. More often then not, he seemed to be the reason the movie was dragging. If you are unfamiliar with Hart, and want to know if this movie is for you, this should help some. In the movie Hart's best friends are his Video Game buddies. One of which simply goes by his gamer tag Assface23, even outside of the game. Hart goes by TheBlackHammer, and goes into great detail as to the meaning of that name, with sound effects and hand gestures. If stupid humor like that doesn't appeal to you, or if you just don't get TheBlackHammer joke, you may want to skip this movie.

There is a story, and it involves Ice Cube trying to catch a big time criminal he has been chasing for years. I think he may be selling drugs, but to be honest I don't remember. Nobody knows who the guy is, or what he even looks like. They have no real clues or leads to help them. So when Hart starts accidentally coming up with information thanks to his video game knowledge and other means that Ice Cube does not approve of, it creates more friction between them. Hart is trying to prove himself to a guy who has already decided he is not worth anything. While I felt they were trying to get me to care about that, I never could bring myself to do that. Ice Cube was unlikable for most of the film, and I just wanted Hart to tell him off and get married without his blessing. And while they tried to add in a story, they didn't add in a good one. There are a few twists and turns, but after the first 30 minutes or so I stopped caring. It become fairly predictable, right down to the ending. That being said I did enjoy the humor, and found myself laughing through out most of the film. While one scene in particular went on for far to long, the movie in general kept a good pace.

There is a blooper real at the end of it, check it out. It was enjoyable, and showed that Ice Cube is a funny guy in real life. While I did enjoy the movie, I don't think I would watch it again. For a rental, it is not a bad option. Kevin Hart amuses me, and this movie showcases him with some great scenes. Trainbows, threatening children, androgynous bikers, you will find something to laugh at here. KICK MOVE!

No trailer this time, they all ruin some of the better parts of the film. Seems odd to show you those, as it would negate any real reason to watch said film....

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Son of Batman

This is a animated movie about, well Batman's son Damian. If you are unfamilar with Damian, you are not alone. One thing I really enjoyed was reading reviews for this movie on various sites. Before it actually came out, it was rated 1.5 stars on The reviews have been deleted, but there was one that simply gave it the lowest score possible because "Batman doesn't have a son. And who is this woman, she is not catwoman." I guess stuff like that shouldn't surprise me, not everybody reads the Batman books. Most people simply know him from the movies, and the many tv shows. So let us start with some history, I promise not to geek out to much here.

Batman, or Bruce Wayne, had a kid with Talia al Ghul. She drugged him, and pretty much had her way with him. They kind of skim over that part in the movie, it is alluded to but they don't go to big into it. Talia was in the Nolan batman movies, so if you saw the more recent films, you may remember her. She was in the last one they put out. Her role wasn't to large, but she ended up being one of the main bad guys and was killed at the end of the movie. You should know her father though, Ra's al Ghul, who was the main villian of the first Nolan movie. He was played by Liam Neeson. Bruce and Talia do have a relationship of sorts, however her being unable to give up her assassin heritage stops it from advancing. Ra's is the leader of the League of Assassins. He wants Bruce to Marry Talia and take it over. Now that he has Bruce and Talia's kid, he wants him to take it over.

The story starts at that point. Damian is 10, and has been trained by the League of Assassins since birth. He is violent, a killer, and very skilled in various forms of martial arts and weapons. Deathstroke, who you should know if you watch the tv show "Arrow," was once thought of as a possible successor to the league. He attacks the league and kills Ra's in order to take it over. Talia and Damian escape, and she confronts Bruce and tells him about his son in hopes that he will protect him. Damian is mad and wants revenge for his family, he swears to kill Deathstroke and is unable to comprehend why Bruce is so against it.

A good portion of the movie is spent on trying to establish the relationship between Damian and Bruce. Bruce did not know he had a kid, and he has no real idea how to be a father. So he ends up treating him like a new Robin for the most part. He is impressed by his abilities, and tries to teach him that there is another way then killing. Some of the more enjoyable scenes are when the two are out of costume. Damian showing up at Bruce's job and catching booking mistakes that he missed. Or Alfred and Damian arguing over the small things. They really did a good job of establishing the Damian character. He is not likable, but you feel like he can be. He was raised as a killer, but you can see that there is hope for him to be something else. He wants to impress his father, and he is receptive to his ideology.

The animation isn't to bad, I would say a notch above what you normally see on cartoon network. I think the more recent Justice League movie was a bit better in this department, but I was still happy with what was offered. The writing was decent, but nothing special. And the story was about the same. This was a solid straight to dvd film, but compared to some of DC's other offerings, it did feel a little lacking.

While this is a Batman movie, Damian really is the star of it. Damian gets the final fight, he gets the main story, everything is about Damian here. That works well enough, Damian is pretty entertaining after all. Seeing a 10 year old beat a big man almost to death is oddly satisfying. However people who are unfamiliar with him may not find it as endearing as I did. If you are a fan of the comics, and think Damian is the best robin, this movie is for you. If you have no clue who he is, well it might be a pass. It was a good enjoyable DC animated film. But it does not live up to some of their better offerings. If you just want to get into batman, I would recommend finding a copy of Under the Red Hood instead. That is the Batman movie as far as I am concerned. Or check out Justice League War, which is also currently at redbox this month.

The Lego Movie (2014)

I saw part of this movie in theaters when it first came out. I made it about 2/3rds of the way into it, then something came up and I left the theater. I always wanted to finish it, but never made it back. So when it finally showed up on amazons instant video, I was very happy to see how it all ended. So I sent the kid off to grandmas for a weekend, and the wife and I decided to sit down and enjoy this. While it is billed as a kids movie, it has plenty to offer adults as well. I honestly feel if you approach it with a open mind, anybody can find something to like about this one.

The story of the lego movie is simple, yet complicated. At its core it is a story about a villain trying to take over the world. Lord Business, played by Will Ferrell, collects relics of great power. Vitruvius, Morgan Freeman, is a wise old hippy who claims a prophecy of a "Special One" that will appear and stop Lord Business. The movie is about a average guy named Emmet, who is believed to be that "Special One." The story is pretty easy at first, business is bad and is oppressing the free will of the other lego people. He controls there entire life and gives them instructions to follow each day in order to be happy. He controls what is on tv and the radio, and unknowingly to them, controls pretty much their every action. But then the Master Builders come in. They can look at the world around them, and build anything out of it. They represent the kids who don't follow the instructions. The ones who just buy legos, then make their own sets out of them. Now the story is about which is the correct way. Should we buy sets and build them as intended, or make our own things out of them? It continues to take it a step further at the end, in a scene that was oddly depressing given the tone of the rest of the movie. But without spoilers I can not get any more into it. Just know that the movie does have a lot going on. And I mean that in a good way, the various layers added so much to it. And they resolved it in a way that will leave everybody happy, regardless of how they choose to use their legos.

I feel the animation is something that should be talked about. If you have seen the previews, it looks almost like they are using real legos and stop motion animation. That is not the case, but it is clearly what they were going for. The animation style was wonderful, and works very well for the movie. Seeing Emmet trying to do jumping jacks, then just moving his legs and arms in the limited fashion a lego is able to put a smile on my face. Seeing a world where the water, and even the explosions are comprised of bricks was astounding. If you play the lego video games, you know they don't use legos for the ground or the levels themselves. This movie did, everything was lego. While the site gags are enjoyable, the legos are given more movement in most scenes. But they still looked just like the toys, and whoever came up with the process to make that happen deserves a lot of credit for it.

They also include many different lego sets in the movie. From the older sets, 1980 something space guy, to the newer ones like the Ninja Turtles. You will see many people you know, and each new appearance will make you happier and happier. I love Green Lantern, I read the books, I have a silver GL ring.....GL is my favorite comic hero. In this movie, he is portrayed very differently. But it was fun, and seeing a GL voiced by Jonah Hill, harassing Superman over and over again. Shaquille O'Neal voiced himself in a great cameo. He busts out the Jock Jams song from Space Jam of all movies, in one of the better one liners the movie has to offer. The stand out role though was Will Arnett as Batman. This is not the batman you know and love, however I would argue this one is better. He writes his own song about darkness and being a orphan, and how being rich makes it better. It is a bit of dark humor that runs in the background of a scene. He only uses black and dark grey bricks when building, and he names everything the bat something or another. He is also the biggest jerk in the movie, and it is awesome. Charlie Day as Benny, the 1980's space man was another great role. The movie has such a large cast, but everybody gets their time to shine.

The movie is very fast paced, and it comes off as very hyper. The diolague is pretty good, and it has some great comedy moments. Seeing Vitruvius get Gandalf and Dumbledore mixed up for example. There are plenty of one liners, sight gags, and running jokes. Liam Neeson's Bad cop has a prolonged war against chairs that cracked me up constantly. It comes off feeling like something a child put together, then some great writers took that idea and ran with it. It was a visual treat, and any fan of lego's or comedy should enjoy it. Yes it is a movie geared towards children, but there is enough there that adults can enjoy it to. It even manages to fit a moral lesson into the equation, and not just one for children. While the ending did get into a very different tone, and slow down the movie, I felt it tied everything together nicely. It made you appreciate the rest of the film, and the fact that they were able to take that sort of risk and have it pay off. In the end I really enjoyed this movie, and it is one I will watch again. For me, that is not all that common.

And a Lego version of the Lego trailer.