Sunday, July 19, 2015

Insidious: Chapter 3 (2015)

Insidious: Chapter 3 is as you would guess, the third movie in the Insidious franchise. However oddly enough it works as a prequel to the first and second film. So if you have not seen the other two films, this is not a bad starting point. Yes the 2nd film has portions that pre-date this one, but seeing this and the first movie will make them mean more. Insidious follows a Elise Rainier as she uses her ability to reach out to the dead to try and help various families who are being haunted. In the first movie which is quite possibly my favorite horror film, she is helping a family who believe their home to be possessed. The 2nd is about her origins and details her relationship with a the female spirit who was featured in the first film while also offering up a more complete ending to the story the first film started. They take place one right after the other, and while the 2nd film was not in the same league as the first, I did enjoy how well they worked together.

Chapter 3 one again features Elise, though the main character is a young girl by the name of Quinn Brenner. She is a high school girl who lost her mother a year or so back and believes her spirit is reaching out to her from the other side. She approaches Elise who was referred to her by a friend and seeks guidance. We learn that Elise is retired and instead of embracing her gift like in the other films, is now running from it instead. While she is unable to help Quinn, she does give her a warning. Stop reaching out, that thing is not your mother. Well if Quinn would have listened it would have been a short movie, though at 97 minutes it isn't that long to begin with. Quinn keeps reaching out and soon the spirit is able to take form in this world and starts to come after her.

The story isn't bad for a horror movie, it actually has all the needed elements for some creepy fun. Stefanie Scott plays Quinn, you may know her from something called A.N.T. Farm. I had to google that, no clue who she is. She did well enough in this role, nothing overly dramatic or any real stand out moments. Elise is played by Lin Shaye once again, although not with the same flair she had in the previous films. Frankly everything about this film was lesser then the others, which was odd. The story was not as complicated, the atmosphere was far weaker. It did get me laughing a few times, however I am pretty sure I was supposed to be frightened at most of those moments instead. In the first Insidious I was genuinely freaked out for a good portion of it, the pacing was spectacular and I loved the way it was shot. It had great atmosphere set up by the cinematography and the audio and music it used. The demon was fantastic and the effects were very cool. This one just seemed like a cash in and nothing more. The main villain was weak and never imposing. They tried to focus on jump scares instead of creating a horrific environment. They never used the movies score or sounds to any real benefit. It also didn't help that three of the characters showed in the later two movies. It kind of killed any suspense when they were in danger. Insidious was great, the 2nd was decent and was carried by the fact it was attached to the originals story. Chapter 3 is the weakest of the 3 and was entirely forgettable in the end.

Watch the first one, watch the 2nd one, skip this one. That is my recommendation.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Ted 2 (2015)

When Ted 2 first came out everybody was saying pretty much the same thing. It is not as good as the first one, which most people seemed to dislike anyways. Pretty much every review I read, or every person I talked to had negative things to say about the movie. It honestly made me worried and lead to me putting off seeing it. I saw the first Ted with my wife during a trip of ours. I had no real expectations for it as I am normally not a Seth Macfarlane fan. Family guy is unwatchable to me, but I did enjoy the Cleaveland show. So I figured why not give the funny little teddy bear a chance? I loved it, it was not the best comedy I have ever seen, but it was consistently entertaining to me. Mark Wahlberg was hilarious and was perfect in his role as John the guy who brought Ted to life. Mila Kunis was a lot of fun and seeing her awkwardly trying to play off of John and Ted was one of the highlights of the movie. The three had a good chemistry and the movie was better for it. In ted 2 however Kunis was pregnant and ended up dropping out of the project. We instead get Amanda Seyfried who I am biased towards, so I had no issues with that. But it did created a odd moment in which the first movie seemed to almost not matter any more. The entire point of that film was John growing up and him and Ted finding a way to stay friends while he made the important relationship in his life work. It ended with the three of them in a good place. For this movie to get rid of her role created a pretty big issue. We don't see the destruction of that relationship, we are just told John did not like the changed he made and decided he wanted to go back to who he was so they split up. I understand why she could not do the film, but it made it feel almost like I was watching Ted 3. As if I missed a movie in between.

Ted 2 starts with Ted and his girlfriend from the previous film Tammy-Lynn getting married. It is also here we are told that John is now single and has been for awhile. The movie then skips forward 6 months and Ted and Tammy-Lynn are having marital issues and decide the best way to save the relationship is to have a baby. If you remember Ted has no ability to reproduce as he is a stuffed animal, so they decide to adopt. Ted is deemed to be property and not a person so they are denied a child. This begins a downward spiral as his status comes into question over and over again and his marriage is annulled, he is fired as he can not legally be hired and so forth. The movie revolves around the concept of what makes one a person, and if a stuffed animal is able to fill that role. John being Teds best friend decides to help him and they enlist Amanda Seyfried's character Samantha as their lawyer. There is a romance subplot with John and Samantha, but for this film Ted is the staring role. We see him struggle with the decision that he is simply property and question his importance. It was actually a pretty fascinating concept to me. He is a toy after all, he was bought at a store. Does magic giving him cognitive abilities make him a person? My wife said no, which actually surprised me. I was 100% on board with Ted being a person. So I asked if she would compromise and say he was at last a animal and she once again said no. I jokingly called her a rude name and we laughed and continued on. That is actually a pretty good representation of the movie in a way. There is a serious moment that tries to make you think, then a crude joke to take you out of the moment before they try to go back on their way. It makes it hard to concentrate on some of the scenes that could have easily been stronger by dropping the comedy for a moment.

The jokes in Ted 2 are largely like the first. Foul Language, sexual humor, and drug references. It works for them, and it had me cracking a smile the entire time. Some lines are better then others, and the instagram feud between Ted and John accompanied by the corny hashtags was a favorite of mine. The "Can you help me get home" strain of marijuana had me on the verge of tears the few times it made a appearance. Ted 2 seemed to hit the comical mark more for me then the first one did. And I loved the little call backs to the first movie. While yes I would have preferred it to approach some of the scenes with a more serious tone, I really can't complain to much about what they gave me. The time flew by, I easily enjoyed it more then the first movie.

The acting is a odd thing to talk about here. It is not like this was a drama in any sense after all. Wahlberg was great, and he really seems to be taking to comedy in his last few roles. I would much rather see him in a movie like this then anything else right now. Seyfried was fun and she handled the jokes they gave her well enough. Her schtick being that she knew nothing pop culture related while hanging out with people who watch tv and movies all day really did work for me. The movie had a huge comic con portion, and she was golden throughout it. Calling Star Wars characters captain Kirk, not knowing what Lord of the Ring was. She killed that role, and hopefully if we do get a Ted 3 she can come back for it. The only role I didn't care for was Patrick Warburtons, but I don't think that was due to his acting but his lines. Though he did have a really cool moment that fans of his will love, so that was worth him being there regardless. Also Liam Neeson's gives comedy another try, and I love him for it.

Ted 2 has some trouble, but in the end it came off more enjoyable then the first venture. While I do wish Mila Kunis could have come back, Seyfried did very well with her role. I enjoyed her character and thought she fit in nicely with the boys. We get a serious story that deals with a interesting question, and the movie was better for it. If you liked the first Ted, you should find something to enjoy in this one as well. Both were great, but this one was simply better to me.

It is worth noting one of the best parts in the trailers was not in the final cut, the part where the car explodes and Ted and John lie about the people being fine. Hopefully that means we get some good extra content when the DVD drops.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Justice League: Gods and Monsters (2015)

A movie that looks at a world where the Justice League is comprised of murderers and potential villains. But a world where they still are perceived as heroes despite this. The movie opens up with a quick origin for the new Superman Hernan Guerra who is the son of Zod instead of Jor-El. We are then treated to a scene where the 3 members kill 50 or so terrorist without a second though, and get to see vampire batman drain somebody. I wouldn't say it was jarring as much as being almost comical to see these 3 killing people like it was nothing. It is not what you expect from the Justice League, and even though they showed much worse in the various shorts they used as advertising, I was still a little surprised at the whole thing.

The story for the movie revolves around the idea that the league could take over the world if they wanted. They know it, the people know it, everybody knows it. A group decides to start killing off scientist using super powered beings with abilities similar to the league in order to frame them and turn the world against them. As the league isn't exactly filled with boy-scouts in this world, that is not all that difficult. We are then presented with a world that hates and fears them, but now has the power to stand against them. Will the league become the villains or the heroes of the story?

The league consists of 3 members, Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman. Purists might be put off by these variations of the characters, but DC did a good job of addressing this. They changed the identities of all the characters so that it would not tarnish the classics. Batman is not Bruce Wayne but Kirk Langstrom who you may remember as Manbat from the main continuity. Wonder Woman is Bekka wife of Orion from Apokolips who is also another established character. I was not familiar with Superman's new persona, so maybe Hernan Guerra was a new character. Each is given a brief origin story in the movie to time them all together, and each fits into the over all story as well. It was kind of neat to see the new team and I enjoyed the different take we were presented with.

This is a straight to DVD animated movie, so the animation will not be on par with things you would see in the theater. It is still good though and reminded me more of the classic batman animated stuff then the newer justice league movies. The style was charming, but not overly realistic. As far as parental advisory goes, I believe it was pg-13. There was some very minor nudity, a decent amount of blood, and a older kid being burned alive at one point. I think the pg-13 is fair, but it should be established it is not a movie geared towards children. So the younger crowd may need to skip this one depending on your own personal views.

There really is not a lot more to say about this one. The concept was a darker Justice League and that is what you get. It served as a starting point and there will be a digital comic series launching alongside the movie on the 28th that furthers the story. I do think they built it up a little to much, and that it failed to deliver on the Evil has a new Playground tag line they went with. The 3 animated shorts we were given as adverts actually had a much darker moment in them then anything the final product did. Seeing Superman forced to kill a toddler version of Brainiac was a horrible moment the film never came close to touching. It also did a much better job of showcasing the evil vs good argument for those characters as well. The film felt like a missed opportunity after that, almost like they were afraid to pull the trigger on these new versions. While it was still overall enjoyable, it never became that great classic it wanted to be.