Posts Tagged ‘review’

As stated in my last post, I had a busy month at work due to doing not only my job but my co-workers, but that didn’t mean I wasn’t reading. In fact I’ve read quite a few books, and have some reviews backlogged that I need to get written up and posted. I’ll be starting with the first book I mentioned, The Magicians by Lev Grossman.

The Magicians is a book I wanted to love. It’s about a kid who shows an exceptional gift for magic and gets to go to a special magical school. Now don’t get me wrong, I didn’t go in expecting Harry Potter which is what this book sounds like when I describe it as that. In fact, some other reviews I read of this before picking it up warned me that this was not a ‘children’s book’ and was written for a mature audience. Never mind the fact that the Harry Potter series stopped being a ‘children’s book’ after Prisoner of Azkaban… I went in with an open mind. What I got was a world that was underdeveloped and characters that I didn’t like much less love. It was an amalgamation of other author’s ideas that were not executed well. Putting all that aside, I was just bored by the book… because I tried my hardest not to draw comparisons to these other worlds as I read.

The initial chapters drew me in… our protagonist Quentin gets invited to a magical school, we spend a third of the book covering his many years there, and I still didn’t develop a proper understanding of the different specialties the characters could learn and how the magic worked (No wand waving, just funny hand gestures and speaking gibberish). We get glimpses of the dark side of this magic and then our protagonist graduates. This whole portion of the story was rushed. If it had been me, I would have flushed this out in more detail THEN moved on to the other two parts of the story… probably as other books. I wanted more and didn’t get it, I got two more parts to a story that I didn’t want, didn’t like and found to be ridiculous… and not just because they borrow heavily from other ‘fantasy’ stories. I didn’t develop a relationship with the protagonist where I WANTED to know what happened to him, in fact I didn’t really care one way or another. Apathy is NOT what you should feel when reading a story.

Part two of the story was like a bad drama on the CW. (GOSSIP GIRL I’M LOOKING AT YOU). The kids all graduate and go to live out their lives in NYC. They use drugs and party and don’t really study or use their magic. They are adrift. Is this the best way to show that they are adrift? By glamourizing drug use and partying and making the characters so irritating you can’t find any redeeming qualities in them? CHUCKBASSANYONE?

Segue to part 3.  A different magician that Quentin and crew never got along with in school appears and reveals that he’s found a magical portal that lets him go to other lands. He wants everyone to go with him to explore so we go jumping through puddles a la The Chronicles of Narina. Are you confused yet? That would make two of us. Why is this necessary, what is the point? Big, dark and nasty magic happens in Narnia, the book ends, is anticlimactic and YET there is a sequel being written to pick up where the story left off… they’re going back to Narnia (okay, they call it Fillory but the Narnia movies were on TV today).

The protagonist is time and again given everything he wants and still he’s unhappy with his lot in life. In my opinion he has no one to blame but himself. That being said, I don’t think I would recommend this book to you all. I did read the excerpt from the new book, and it ALMOST makes me want to pick up the sequel when it’s released (it actually could be released by now, I’m not sure). I doubt I will though, this book was a chore to finish and I don’t want to be sucked into yet another book that was painful to get through. I love fantasy, I love fiction, I love magic and I love coming of age stories but I can’t understand why this book got such rave reviews. I didn’t love or loathe Quentin, I didn’t care about him at all, and that is probably the worst thing about this story.

Page Count: 416/100,000


No updates since Harry Potter?  That’s so ridiculously sad.



Anyways, this is probably where I should make some excuses and apologize and say it’ll never happen again, but uh, I hate apologizing (because I AM NEVER WRONG!) and it will most likely happen again (probably tomorrow) and I haven’t actually SEEN any movies in the theater since Harry Potter… so not much to write about eh?!   (That’s a lie I saw Captain America and wrote half a review but didn’t finish it… not apologizing for that either… LOVED Captain America btdubs… that was basically the review… I MIGHT be tempted to do another blog where we play Marry, Kill or Bop with the Avengers… we’ll see *shiftyeyes*).

So then what has inspired this blog?  A trip to the movie theater, today in fact.  I saw (WAIT FOR IT)


I agreed to see the remake with my sister, in return she will NOT make me see Breaking Dawn Part 1.  First off, why the HELL did they break that crappy piece of bat shit insanity into two movies?!  Secondly, I did have to sit through the Breaking Dawn trailer which made me want to vomit and gouge my eyes out simultaneously.  That in itself is pretty impressive.

Goodness, I’m in rare form tonight.

Moving on.  Footloose was quite enjoyable, if you like that sort of film.  Dancing, angsty teenagers, awesomely (bad) music, rebelling against authority figures?  Of course I like that sort of film.  As you probably know, the original stars The Baconator aka Kevin Bacon (who is in every movie ever made, he is the white Samuel L. Jackson) as Wren or is it Ren, I’m too lazy to look it up so I’m going to swap between the two spellings as I see fit.  It also has the AMAZING John Lithgow as the preacher.

The remake stars a kid I’ve never heard of named Kenny Wormald as Ren.  Originally Zac Efron (DUDE THAT IS A BOSS ZEFRON POSTER… sorry random A Very Potter Musical quotes must happen when the Zefron is mentioned) was slated to play Ren but stepped out of the project as he didn’t want to get type cast in that sort of role.  Best decision he ever made.  He wouldn’t have done it justice.  Chace Crawford from Gossip Girl was also slated to play Ren and that would have been an even bigger disaster than Zefron.  Ugh.  I think that because this Kenny kid looks like The Baconator (Zefron does not, and I don’t think Chace can actually dance had he been cast).  He looked a little rough around the edges with that Boston accent, which wasn’t that thick but was ‘just right’ for the film as he was an outsider coming into a small Georgia town. Frankly, he wasn’t as irritating as I found the Baconator to be in the original.  One of my complaints about the original is that Ren doesn’t come off as a troubled, misunderstood youth (as he does in the muscial version… I ran lines for this version with my friend Joey once upon a time which clearly makes me an authority), he just comes off as a whiney, teenage brat that I want to slap from time to time for being TOO stubborn and hard headed and opinionated.  Anyways… I very much approved of this casting.   Wormald was charming, a fantastic dancer and just enough of a rebel  to be interesting, but you could still bring him home to mom.

Juliana Hough from Dancing with the Stars (a guilty pleasure show of mine) stars as Ariel, and the love interest of Ren, with Dennis Quaid and Andie MacDowell starring as her parents (the preacher and wife).  Hough, who apparently has been trying to have a country music career since leaving DWTS, was quite good as well.  Surprising considering she’s had no real acting experience (to my knowledge).  Quaid was adequate as the preacher but it’s very hard to top John Lithgow (seriously, have I mentioned how much I love John Lithgow?) My favorite actor of the bunch though has to be the kid who played Williard (Miles Teller).   He played the ‘aww shucks’ ‘good ole boy’ ‘redneck’ sort so well, all while being endearing.

Aside from that, the film was pretty much the same with updates to music as well as some of the classic songs that made the film so awesome in the first place.  Williard still learns to dance to “Let’s Hear it for the Boy” and Rbaconen rolls into school listening to “Black and Yellow” by Wiz Khalifa which of course I loved.  There were also lots of homages to the old film like Ren driving a yellow VW Bug.  He also wore the maroon tuxedo jacket to the prom and did the “LET’S DANCE” shout before throwing confetti everywhere.  The final dance also mimicked a lot of the moves from the original.

So then, my final thoughts?  Rent it and watch it, it’s a good time.  Frankly, I can’t wait for it to start airing on TV so I can flip through and watch it.  (Seriously, I can’t watch Dirty Dancing one more time… give me something else to watch as a guilty pleasure please!)  I still question WHY it was even made, when it is so spot on to the original.  Was it really necessary?  Probably not.  Then again, if they remade all the Harry Potter films, would it be necessary, probably not… would I still see every single one?  You betcha.

Coming later this week (if I have the time before I got to Disney World) the introduction of a new… non movie related project.

Did I mention I’m going to Disney World?  Winning!

I have a love-hate relationship with Pixar.  I want to love them, but most of the time hate (well am indifferent, hate is a pretty strong word for this context) the films they create.  That’s right; I’m probably the only person alive who doesn’t like two of their biggest hits, The Incredibles and Wall-E.  I’ve also got a few issues with their other films like Finding Nemo (the opening scene is NOT appropriate for a small child) and Up! (the opening scene is really the only part of this film I loved, I was fairly bored through the rest of it).

So if I don’t really like Pixar films, then why did I go bother to see Cars 2?  Because for each “miss” for me, there is a “hit” and the first Cars was just that.  I was hesitant to see it when it first came out; in fact I waited until it was in its final run at the theater I worked at.  I saw it late at night, with no one in the audience, in one of the smaller auditoriums (#7 for the Carmikers who read this) at the theater I was working at.  I only ended up seeing it because I had a free evening and had seen everything else playing at the time.  Never underestimate the appeal of seeing a movie when you’re not paying for your ticket.

So I sat, I watched and I LOVED the film.  I tried to figure out what it was that made the first film so great and I came up with the following criteria:

  • stunning visuals
  • memorable characters
  • a great soundtrack
  • a story that imparts a life lesson
  • nostalgia

As I sat down to watch Cars 2 (a Sunday matinee on opening weekend, filled with small children… what in the world WAS I thinking, oye!) I was cautiously optimistic.  I had to remember that Toy Story 2 was amazing, heck even Shrek 2 (yes I know Shrek is produced by Dreamworks, shaddup) as far as a sequel went nearly blew the original out of the water.  Surely Cars 2 would get the same careful treatment by Pixar.  I wanted to love this film; I wanted to leave with a smile on my face.  I didn’t however.  I just felt indifferent, as I had after so many Pixar films.

Don’t get me wrong, as a stand alone movie it would have been great.  It however wasn’t a stand alone movie.  It has an established back story that is utterly ignored and neglected in the sequel.  It was a spy movie that was dumbed down so it was suitable for kids, where animated cars were the spies.  No really, that’s basically the synopsis of the film.  If you have a 5 year old, take them to see it, they’ll probably love it.  That being said should I not nitpick it, because I’m not the audience for whom it was intended?  It’s my blog, so I’ll nitpick as much as I want, and frankly, Pixar is known for making films that appeal across the board to children and adults so I figure I’m allowed to complain… I mean critique the film.

If we look at the criteria established above, it only hits 2 of the 5 categories I’ve listed:  stunning visuals and a story that imparts a life lesson.

As always, Pixar films LOOK amazing.  This one didn’t disappoint.  The clever tie-ins to previous films (the restaurant from Ratatouille in Paris) and incidentals you have to really be paying attention to pick up on like the Lassa Tyres signage around the track (the films director is Lasseter) are all there.

The life lesson that is imparted is that you should always be yourself, and be proud of who you are, not change yourself to fit in.  A worthy lesson for kids to learn.  Tow Mater (Larry the Cable Guy) was the vehicle (pun intended) through which this lesson was imparted.  Lightning McQueen (Owen Wilson) was upset with him for being himself (a crass, country bumpkin) when a more refined image was needed.  Mater leaves the racing circuit rather than embarrass McQueen and he is mistaken for an American spy with his dumber than dirt image being his cover.

So then, what are we missing?  Great characters.  The stand out in the original film was Doc Hudson (aka the Hudson Hornet) who is only briefly mentioned in this film.  Special props also need to go to “The King” voiced by Richard Petty (the actual king of Nascar racing… yes, I grew up in a house that watched Nascar so I can appreciate all the attention to detail that was paid to the ‘sport’ in the first film).  We can surmise that Doc Hudson passed on to that great big dirt track in the sky from what is glossed over in the film.

The cavalcade of other characters (Luigi, Guido, Sarge, Filbert) travel along with Lightning McQueen acting as his pit crew as he competes in three races all across the globe.  Part of the original Radiator Springs crew is left at home however, including Ramone, Flo, Sally and the adorable Red.  We are introduced to two new characters, British spies Finn McMissile and Holly Shiftwell played by Michael Caine and Emily Mortimer respectively.  Mater becomes the featured star of this film, instead of the loveable side-kick.  For people who only found Mater amusing in small doses (myself for instance), making the new story revolve around him was an issue.

All of that aside, we can focus on the last two things that were missing from this film:  the soundtrack and the nostalgia.

I LOVED the Cars soundtrack.  I have it on my iPod and could recognize all the songs (and the artists singing them which is rare for me) as I watched Cars for the first time.  This movie, I didn’t recognize any of the music, with the exception of Brad Paisley singing on the credits with someone else… who I’m guessing is British based on the lyrics?  Music drives a film, and it certainly drove the original Cars.  (Really, these driving puns need to stop).  Couple it with the lack of nostalgia because we are not in the American heartland, looking at great and classic cars (instead we get Gremlins and Pacers and other notorious lemons) and seeing sweeping scenes of the southwest and it’s a disappointment.  I understand that you can’t remake the first movie, that this was probably the natural progression for the film but all the things that made the first film so perfect don’t carry through to the next installment.

My final rating is 2.5 out of 5.  If you have a small child I’d take them to see it, or at least rent the film when it’s available from Netflix or Redbox.  Otherwise this is one to skip.

(I also apologize for my lack of pictures and links in this review, you’ll have to forgive me just this once!  The post was written a few days ago with the intent to add the links when I was on my personal computer.  I got caught up tonight after work… making jam and jelly if you must know (4 types!)… and I just wanted to get it posted by midnight so I didn’t blow through yet another deadline.  Thursday apparently has not been a good day for blogging.  Maybe I need to reevaluate what nights I post, lol!)

I saw X-Men: First Class a few weeks ago and I’m in full agreement with most every other review I’ve read (all three of them), that it is the best entry into the X-Men franchise thus far.  Remember that Green Lantern Review I did, where I gushed about how much I LOVED super hero movies?  Yeah, that doesn’t apply to X-Men.  That’s not to say I hate the X-Men, just that they aren’t my favourite… and don’t even crack my top 5 as far as super heroes go.  It’s probably because I never followed their evolution (PUN!), or that my first exposure to this particularly complex and motley crew was on a band trip.  We were driving home from Florida or Indiana or somewhere else and the first X-Men movie was the DVD that was playing (or VHS tape, DVDs were still pretty new back then).  It was loud and my seat was right under the speaker and it was late and all I wanted to do was sleep.  THERE WOULD BE NO SLEEP.  Sigh.

That being said I sat through X2 and loved it, which prompted me to sit through X3 which I was pretty much indifferent about, which in turn almost made me skip Origins: Wolverine entirely but Hugh Jackman cannot be resisted.  Sadly though, the first Origins was awful, bad CGI claws, even worse acting, Hugh Jackman couldn’t save that travesty (or Ryan Reynolds and his abs of awesome).  This was why I was hesitant to see First Class.  I gave in though when I heard fan boys gushing.  If fan boys, who are notoriously nitpicky loved it then well, it would be worth a trip to yonder Cinemark.

For the most part it was… worth the trip that is.  The film basically gives us the backstory on Professor X and Magneto, which not being overly familiar with the X-Men franchise I appreciated.  I felt this was lacking in the earlier films.  I also loved the ‘look’ of the movie.  Granted it was set in the 1960’s which gave it a great vibe as far as color and feel goes, but the film didn’t feel as sterile as the chrome and leather of the early 2000 versions.  I also loved Magneto at the end of the movie when he is busting January Jones (aka Emma Frost) out of jail, his look reminded me of the comics (as did their black and yellow flight suits). Magneto

For me the stand out stars were Michael Fassbender (Erik Lehnsherr/Magneto) and Nicholas Hoult (Hank McCoy/Beast).   James McAvoy also gets a special nod because I’ve been obsessed with him for nearly as long as I’ve been obsessing over Ryan Reynolds.   (If you haven’t seen The Last King of Scotland go see it… NOW).  The rapport between Fassbender and McAvoy was fantastic.  They played well off of each other, and perhaps the best thing is that you leave the film not knowing who you should be rooting for, the newly formed X-Men or Magneto and his band of mutants.  Magento is the default villain in earlier films.  Instead of being that default ‘baddie’ he now has some much needed depth, and we have the understanding of why he is the way he is.  He’s a compelling leader, just as McAvoy is as Professor X, and more than that you understand why his vendetta against those who won’t accept him or his kind is so strong.

BeastHoult is equally as charming as Hank McCoy.  Smart, awkward, adorable and a mutant.  He shows certain vulnerability that the other mutants lack.  You truly see the transition from McCoy to his Beast-ly personality.  He is not comfortable in his own skin, but must learn how to cope with it and eventually accept it.

All in all it earns a  4.5 out of 5 stars.  I do have concerns about where the franchise will go from here.  The look and feel that I loved cannot be duplicated as the franchise moves on (and our mutants all start to age) because we move into a new era (the 70’s and 80’s were not exactly glamorous).  I only hope that the depth and personality of each character that we got in this installment will carry into future ones.   (Note the lack of commentary on Kevin Bacon.  He’s Kevin Bacon, he’s in everything, now I have yet another movie to play the 5 degrees of separation game with.  That’s really all I have to say about that… oh and I want to watch Footloose and Apollo 13 of and Frost/Nixon as those are my favorite baconater movies, lawls).

Cars 2 review will be up on Thursday!

ryanreynoldsewAlright, first post is out of the way and it’s time to get down to the nitty-gritty and get a review under my belt.  There is one housekeeping thing to address first.  It’s small though, unlike the dust bunnies currently living under your bed and mine.  Posts will be coming to your way twice a week, on Sunday and Thursday.  See, I told you it was small, brief even, but it had to be done.  This way all the haters can berate me if I miss a day.  Damn those haters…  Anyways, on to the abs, I mean the review.

I need to preface by saying that I LOVE super hero movies.   I love them like a fat kid loves doughnuts.  This love has meant suffering through Fantastic Four and Fantastic Four Rise of the Silver Surfer as well as the horrid Tim Allen film Zoom and Sky High.  That’s right, you only have to mention the word superhero and I’ll shell out my hard earned monies to see it, even if it looks (and is) awful.  That being said, I was DYING to see Green Lantern.  In fact, aside from HP7:2 this is probably the film I was most looking forward in the summer line up.  I purchased my tickets a week in advance, buying tickets for a 3-green lantern stubsD show because they had no 2-D shows available.  They added them after I bought my 3-D tickets… the bastards.  My utter hatred of 3-D will have to be saved for another post though.    Anyways, I got my tickets, was excited for it all week, got to the theater early, got my favorite seat… I was set, ready to go, ready to experience a movie featuring one of my favourite (and often neglected) super heroes.   Keep your Peter Parker and your Bruce Wayne, give me Hal Jordan any day of the week.

Need I preface the rest of this with a spoiler alert?  *SPOILER ALERT*  That’s the first and only one you’re getting, so don’t get used to it.

The film wasn’t terrible and it wasn’t great; I’d give it 3.5 out of 5 stars.  (Actually, I’d give it a 2.5 out of 5, but well, Ryan Reynolds abs get a point because I like the man candy… I’ll admit it, will you?!)  The most obvious problems with the film were an utter lack of chemistry between Blake Lively and Ryan Reynolds, poor dialogue and Peter Sarsgaard and his giant head and receding hair line.   Oh, and the 3-D, was nothing special.  It wasn’t the worst 3-D I’ve seen (that would be Fly Me to the Moon) but it had no real ‘special effects’ added so you felt immersed in the film.  Not worth the extra $$$, it rarely is.

Let me be the first to say I understand how important it is to explain the back story of how a superhero manifests his power, even though it sometimes felt never ending in this movie.  My first inclination is to compare this to Spiderman.   The first Spiderman movie was a wonderful foray into the life of Peter Parker, but the second film blew it out of the water (we’ll not mention the third though, what with the dancing and the weird musical number in the middle).  That’s how I sort of see the Green Lantern franchise.  There is so much confusing back story that NEEDS to be explained.  It can’t be glossed over and still make sense.    Because so much time is spent developing this story, you don’t really get to see our boy shine as the Green Lantern.  It lacks those death-defying fight scenes that I tend to enjoy.  Now that the back story is established we can perhaps see more ass kicking in a sequel.  I’m hoping.  Sure him figuring out that overcoming fear and not actually being “fearless” are what will give him enough strength to defeat the big baddie requires all this back story, but I like explosions… that or I’ve watched too many Michael Bay films.

On to the acting.  I’ll admit I’m a sucker for Ryan Reynolds, and not just because he’s easy on the eyes.  I’ve loved him since his days as Van Wilder and though he has mostly stuck to the comedies, he’s started to show some more depth with Buried and was downright charming in The Proposal.  That being said, I find it hard to find fault with him in this movie.  It wasn’t his fault the dialogue was sometimes awful, or that he had to ‘serenade’ Blake Lively in a bar a la Top Gun.  He did the best with what he was given.

My biggest issue was with Blake Lively, aka Serena Vanderwoodsen of Gossip Girl fame.  She was not a convincing Carol Ferris.  I can’t look at her and believe she’s a fighter pilot cum business executive cum love interest.  She was nothing more than a clothes horse with a bad dye job.  I never felt a real connection between her and Mr. Reynolds, I never felt that there was some unrequited love or lingering issues under all the ‘daddy’ angst Hal Jordan was crippled by as he went about trying to figure out why he was the one chosen to take up the ring and lantern.  Do I have a suggestion for a new Carol Ferris… not really… but how about someone who doesn’t look like they could be blown over by a strong wind.

greenlanternsarsgaardFinally, the one thing I really didn’t like was Peter Sarsgaard.  The giant head, the weird glowing eyes… even before he’s infected by an alien virus he comes off as a creeper.  He’s like the guy who lives down the street and you just know he has dead bodies in his freezer.  You know the guy I’m talking about.  Are we supposed to feel sorry for him because his senator dad doesn’t love him and is ashamed of him, or because he never ‘got’ the girl because someone more handsome was always in the way?  Are we supposed to be creeped out as he’s infected by alien goop then turns into an asshole because he can finally get back at the people who neglected him and over looked him?  I’m not sure what I was supposed to feel… or if he was necessary to the plot at all.  Wasn’t there enough going on that you couldn’t have figured out another way for Hal to realize he had to try and fight to save his planet?  Something?  Anything?  Bueller?  Meh.  All I felt was nauseous, and that was from looking at him.

That aside, I stick by my 3.5 rating (out of 5) because I’m feeling generous.  If you enjoy the ‘magic’ of the big screen and seeing a movie in an audience of people who will geek out with you, you could make a trip to the local cinema for a show.  Frankly though, my recommendation is to rent it when it comes out on DVD.  It’s not the best, it’s not the worst, it’s pretty average but I think the franchise has potential to grow into something awesome.

Now then, who is ready for Captain America!?