Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Watching Movies In Suits [Superman]


Suits is a show on the USA Network that one of my good friends had been trying to get me to watch for the longest time. Long story short, I finally bit the bullet. I fell in love almost instantly with the drama, humor and story being top notch. Also the sly movie references was the icing on the cake for me. They are littered in every episode and gave me this idea for a weekly blog series. Suits in short follows the story of a successful law firm in New York. Their top lawyer hires a kid who is basically a genius, but never went to law school. The kid must learn the ins and outs of working at a law firm, alongside higher ups and with arguably the best paralegal in the city. The longer this charade goes the harder it seems that his dirty little secret will stay one. We're continuing this series, and what I'd like to call "Superhero Month" with, Superman!

Suits Superman Reference #1
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Suits Superman Reference #2
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Suits Superman Reference #3
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Suits Superman Reference #4
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Suits Superman Reference #5
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Superman is easily one of the most recognizable superheros of all time. Until the Marvel boom of movies in the early 2000s, the first couple of Superman films (as well as the Batman ones) done in the 1970s and 1980s, stood as the best superhero films to date. With Marlon Brando, Gene Hackman, Christopher Reeve and Margot Kidder, this all star cast made Superman what it is today. It's on the forefront of great superhero movies and we may never see an ensemble cast like this in a superhero film ever again.

Superman follows the story of Clark Kent/Superman (Christopher Reeve) as he is sent to earth from Krypton as a baby. Jor-El (Marlon Brando), a scientist from Krypton, is providing evidence to the Ruling Council that three men: General Zod, Ursa and Non (Terence Stamp, Sarah Douglas and Jack O'Halloran), should be sentenced to eternal living death. Jor-El, however, is unable to convince the elders that Krypon is about explode. So he puts his son Kal-El in a spaceship and sends it to earth. Three years later the spaceship finally reaches earth and crashes into farmland near Smallville. It is found by Jonathan and Martha Kent (Glenn Ford and Phyllis Thaxter), who raise Kal-El (they name Clark) as if he was their own. At the age of 18, Jonathan passes away, and not long after Clark is contacted telepathically. He finds his ship stowed under the barn and a green crystal and is told to go to the arctic. Once there, Clark throws the green crystal into the waters and it creates The Fortress of Solitude. Inside a vision of Jor-El explains to Clark about his planet, powers and his responsibilities. After 12 years, Clark has mastered his powers and in spiffy new costume, begins work at The Daily Planet. There he meets Lois Lane (Margot Kidder) and is attracted to her. He also learns that Lex Luthor (Gene Hackman), his girlfriend Eve Teschmacher (Valerie Perrine) and his moronic henchman Otis (Ned Beatty), have hatched a plan to send California plunging into the ocean. The city is just finding out who Superman really is and in order to save California [and as it turns out Lois Lane] Superman must overcome the evil mind of Lex Luthor.

This movie was well before it's time I think. This movie was done in 1978 and while there are parts that you could tell were very "70s", as a whole, the look and feel of this movie was better than most stuff made in the 80s itself. This is essentially an origins story for the lore of Superman. Jor-El sends his son to earth because their planet Krypton is in peril. Kal-El is found by Jonathan and Martha who raise the boy (now Clark) till he's 18. As an adult he becomes Clark Kent, reporter, and when need be, earth's savior, Superman. I know that's just a condensed version of what I wrote above, but it's such a simple story that started the original comic craze of Superman. I've never been a huge Superman fan. The big guy overflowing with powers, who never loses and get's the girl. Always seemed so, simplistic. But this movie casts it all in a different light. You see that he's sort of an outcast growing up. You see the pain he feels when Jonathan Kent, the only father he knew, dies. You see that he in fact doesn't even get noticed by Lois outside of "Superman". It humanizes him in a way, and makes him relateable on personal level. This is what makes me love the characters in the movie. With the simplistic story, the characters and how they were portrayed was amazing. Marlon Brando, is well Marlon Brando. Christopher Reeve plays both sides of his role greatly, as mild-mannered Kent and superhero Superman. Gene Hackman is deliciously dubious as the evil archenemy Lex Luthor. While Margot Kidder is great as Lois Lane, the reporter Clark Kent falls for sent to investigate Superman. The story, coupled with the good writing, good characters and great acting by the main cast made this a pleasure to watch. This movie was a bit over two hours, but it was done so well you want it to keep going. While the music and score is almost iconic.

I'm gushing at this point and I feel I'm rambling. My love for these now classic comic book movies are ever growing as I'm continuing to watch them (and re-watch them) each week. As I said above Superman isn't one of my favorite heroes, but this is a fantastic movie. Humor, action, emotion, storytelling and great acting, make the first installment in the Superman franchise a mega hit. I'm hard pressed to find superhero movies before Spider-Man 2 that I truly enjoy for being more than just comic book adaptations. But this rendition of Superman from 1978, hits the nail on the head.


The Croods [A Fat Jesus Movie Review]


Dreamworks, at least their animation side, has always been the number two to Pixar in animation. While usually always good, they never quite get the praise of Pixar stuff. Rightfully so as Dreamworks releases much more bad than good when it comes to their animated movies. But stuff like: ShrekMadagascar,  Kung Fu Panda and Megamind are all pretty great animated features. I went into The Croods knowing next to nothing about it, and it turned out to be a pretty fun little movie. Not quite Pixar level, but not Shark Tale level in the slightest. Side note, I really want a pet sloth.

The Croods follows the story of Eep (Emma Stone) a teenage girl in prehistoric caveman family. She has always been taught by her dad Grug (Nicholas Cage) that new things are bad, and avoid new things is how the family has survived. These two are living with Eep's mother, Ugga (Catherine Keener), younger sister, Sandy (Randy Thom), brother, Thunk (Clark Duke), and grandmother, Gran (Cloris Leachman). One night she ignores her fathers warning and sneaks out of their cave. She follows a light source that she sees and find that it belongs to Cro-Mangon caveboy, Guy (Ryan Reynolds) and his pet sloth, Belt (Chris Sanders). The light source turns out to be fire and she wants to learn more. Guy informs Eep that he believes that the world is going to end and subsequently asks her to join him. Eep declines, but Guy gives her a noise making shell in case she ever needs him. About this time Grug catches Eep and drags her back to the cave. Eep shows the shell to the family, who destroy it in fear. As this happens a earthquake starts and destroys the cave they live in forcing them to run and they all land in a lush forest. Grug only knows one thing, and that's to find a cave for his family to live in. But they may have to rely on Guy if they was to survive the "end of the world".

First things first, this movie looks nice. From the ho-hum rock and sediment colors to the lush rain-forest like area, all looks vibrant. Nothing is just eye popping to be eye popping. The CGI isn't bad as well. Especially with a lot of Dreamwork stuff is them going for that "cartoony realism" in their human characters. This keeps it relatively good. While there are spots where they look superhuman and/or over exaggerated, as a whole they keep a good balance between realism and CGI. Making things too real, or too animated, in a movie like this can bring complaints, but like I've been saying, this has a pretty great, balanced look. The other great thing about this is, surprisingly, the amount of times I chuckled. This a kids movie through and through, but some of the lines, and bits they do, are pretty good. Just about everything Thunk (Clark Duke) did was pretty funny and reminded me why I like characters, like Kevin from The Office. While the stubbornness and retort between Grug and Gran and Grug and Guy are pretty good. You may not be a fan of Nicholas Cage's acting in live action movies, but he made for a good voice in this. The other two big parts were Clark Duke and Ryan Reynolds. While Emma Stone is the main character, it's her support that really takes the cake. Not saying she's bad, but like Catherine Keener and to an extent Cloris Leachman, Emma is a highly forgettable voice. Combine that with a lot of the good lines coming from Cage, Duke and Reynolds and Emma just feels left out in this.

The rest of this movie is average at best. While a lot of the characters have funny moments, it's really just left at that funny moments. I never really get into any of the character's or their overall story, aside from the close of the movie with Grug. They're there to facilitate the story, comedy, etc, and they do that well. But as I'm not a kid, I don't really invest in them overall. I wanna feel emotion in these types of feel-good family movies. I wanna tear up like at the end of Toy Story 3 or the opening scene of Up! I wanna laugh at giant monster being scared of a toddler or a fish with short term memory. With The Croods there just no one that memorable. Give me Mike Meyers, give me Jack Black, give me Ben Stiller or give me Will Ferrell as a lead. Don't give me Emma Stone only to have her out-shined by Nicholas Cage and Ryan Reynolds. The story is fine as well. A caveman family, who spends all their time inside, cause they fear if they leave they'll get killed. Until the curious daughter ventures out and sets off a series of events where the family must learn to love outside of a cave. It's fun, it's simple for kids and it's a sure bet. Not reaching with story elements, or trying to cater to much to the parents who will be watching with their kids. It's a safe story that wasn't going to flop, with above average CGI and comedy. I was into it, it kept me interested and the ending of this is a pretty good one as far as kid's movies go. The music was fine, dramatic when needed and lighthearted when needed as well. The length was fine as well. Not too short to not tie up neatly and not overly long where you could feel it dragging. There were a couple of scenes where I was thinking to myself, "Why is this in here?" Then I remembered I'm watching a movie targeted at kids.

All in all The Croods is an average movie from a year, so far, that has been very underwhelming. The first kids movie of the year is one that's alright. Nothing is bad in this, just nothing is that good either. The comedy is well above what I thought it would be (a lot due to Clark Duke) and the CGI is pretty good throughout. Dragged down my the mediocrity of almost every other facet of this, The Croods is a great one off movie. A great movie that kids will surely enjoy, while the parents won't be bored to tears watching.


The Dark Knight [A Fat Jesus Movie Review]


If you read my Batman Begins blog post from last week, here, you know that I already love the movies in the Christopher Nolan "Batman"series. Compared to the original movies from the 90s....well there is no comparison, as this blows them out of the water. The Dark Knight is no exception to the love. This movie is nothing short of astounding and should be in the class of greatest superhero movies. We get the emergence of the greatest performance of The Joker, by Heath Ledger, and the solidification of Christian Bale and Christoper Nolan, making arguably the best superhero movie of all time.

We open The Dark Knight with The Joker (Heath Ledger) robbing a bank in Gotham City. He kills all of his accomplices and gets away with a ton of loot. We cut to Batman (Christian Bale) and now Lieutenant Gordon (Gary Oldman) discussing the inclusion of the new district attorney, Harvey Dent (Erin Eckhart), in their plans to help Gotham City. Bruce Wayne decides to throw a party to endorse Dent to gain favor in the people's eyes and help campaign funds. Dent is dating a familiar face in Rachel Dawes (Maggie Gyllenhaal), Bruce's childhood friend. Meanwhile mob bosses are having a meeting and are informed that businessman from China, Lau, has taken all the money as precautionary measure to keep Gotham from seizing it. The Joker crashes the party and says that there is no place Batman can't go and the only real way to get things back on track, so to speak, in Gotham, is to kill the Batman. The mob bosses laugh at him as he says he'll kill Batman for half of what was taken and one of the mob leaders put a hit on him. Fast forward and The Joker is brought to said mob boss, presumed dead, but is playing possum. He kills the leader and assumes control of all the organizations. He informs the people of Gotham, through a video tape of him torturing a man, that he will start killing people everyday until Batman reveals his identity. Batman has overcome this new threat to Gotham in The Joker, while managing to keep his identity unknown and protecting the people from dying. But to do this he must become the watchful protector, the silent guardian, the Dark Knight.

This movie is damn near perfect in my eyes. I could single out Heath Ledger playing The Joker perfectly or Christian Bale as Batman, or Gary Oldman as Gordon or anyone who acted in this film. They all did a phenomenal job. Heath Ledger makes you crack up at times, while having that pure evil core. Christian Bale is still this unnerving presence in Gotham. Gary Oldman commands the screen when he's on, yet you know he's pulling the strings when he's off. Same with people like Michael Caine and Morgan Freeman. You can do no wrong. Then there a flip side adding people like Erin Eckhart and Maggie Gyllenhall in. While not commanding the screen they brought much needed emotion to the film. Not saying no one else did, but there are a few very "tear-jerky" scenes in this superhero movie. The story is amazing from start to finish and once again this well over two hour movie never drags or feels long. The dialogue is both humorous and heart wrenching and the monologue by Gordon to close was just awesome. Like in Batman Begins there are funny parts, the obvious serious parts, and a range of happiness to terror throughout. You could not keep the better part of a full ensemble add a few people in a do a better job than this.

Once again these fight scenes are fantastic in this movie. They are still brutal and they still show-off Batman in hand to hand combat well. You can't have a Batman movie without the lowly grunts getting bashed around in that "BIFF! BAM! BOOM!" fashion. Yet again I'm wondering if this series inspired Batman Arkham Asylum and Batman Arkham City games. When Batman starts using the sonar scanner in the hostage building it feels A LOT like Detective Mode in the games. Either way I love all the new gadgets, suits, and vehicles. Also again the huge chase scenes aren't over done. There are explosions, and flipping cars and trucks, etc. Some may be unnecessary, but you can't blame The Joker for having a flair for the dramatic. Some men just want to watch the world burn. See what I did there? I know, I'm awful. Once again Nolan does a great job of incorporating the Batman universe into this. he brought back the important people (Batman, Alfred, Fox, etc), there were cameos from the first movie (most notably Scarecrow) and added in the new SO well (The Joker and Harvey Dent). Everything melded well and you would think this full cast had done a full movie like this before. I love it. For films fans alone, and even to people just watching cause this is a Batman film, this is a great meld of film-making and comic incorporation.

In all honesty this has been the first one-two punch of a trilogy that I truly enjoyed both movies out of. I really liked Spider-Man 1/2 as well as SAW 1/2X-Men 1/2 were pretty solid as well. But none to this scale for me. None to the film making level Nolan took these. These are two movies are that great. This movie alone is great. These are superhero movies that don't FEEL like superhero movies. I love that because the genre is so watered down. That there are still people, like Nolan, who just want to make good films. The Dark Knight is one of those films.



Thursday, May 16, 2013

G.I. Joe: Retaliation [A Fat Jesus Movie Review]


If you've ever talked to me you know that the 2009 movie G.I. Joe movie,  G.I. Joe: The Rise of the Cobra, is one that really let me down. I went into it thinking it would be a nice action flick, and came out bored and hating what they had done with the characters. Sure the action was alright, over the top and explosive. Just what you'd expect, but it was also a movie that tried to tell and perpetuate a story that it didn't need to. I don't want overly complex and baldy written characters in my action movies. I want a bad-ass that takes down the bad guy in over the top ways and then goes home for dinner. Dwayne Johnson, aka The Rock, has been on a tear this year, movies and wrestling-wise, and has a couple performances I really like. This also has Channing Tatum always being a solid choice for action, or now-a-days comedy, and arguably the greatest action star of all time in Bruce Willis. This is sure to please right? Right? Well for me it was better than the first, but that doesn't make it good.

G.I. Joe: Retaliation follows the story of G.I. Joe's Roadblock, Flint and Mary Jaye (Dwayne Johnson, DJ Cotrona and Adrianne Palicki) as they hunt down Cobra Commander (Luke Bracely). Before all this happens the Joes are attacked by a military strike where all are killed save for Roadblock, Flint and Mary Jaye, including Duke (Channing Tatum). While all this is going on, Storm Shadow (Lee Byung-hun) and ex-Joe Firefly (Ray Stevenson) are breaking Cobra Commander from a maximum security prison in Germany. The Blind Master (RZA) hears of the breakout and sends Snake Eyes (Ray Park), and Storm Shadow's cousin Jinx (Elodie Yung), to bring him back to their clan for punishment. The three surviving Joe's sneak back into the US, where they are presumed dead, and take up residence in an old, rundown gym. Lady Jaye discovers that the President is being impersonated. Roadblock then leads them to find General Joseph Colton (Bruce Willis). He is on the Joe's side and agrees to arm them, quite heavily, and help save the president. Colton snakes Jaye into a formal dinner where the president will be attending and she retrieves and sample. All but confirming that the president is an impostor. Meanwhile Snake Eyes and Jinx have successfully apprehended Storm Shadow, and they join the Joe's to stop this new threat that the world is facing.

Everything about this movie is average. We'll start with the acting, while not bad in the slightest, you can do worse, it was all forgettable. Channing Tatum isn't around for anything past the intro and Bruce Willis doesn't get into this until halfway in. Dwayne Johnson is great throughout and Adrianne Palicki was okay as well. But, Dwayne Johnson needs someone to play off of, and DJ Cotrona isn't going to make him look good in the slightest. Tatum was great in his limited role and I really think he's a hugely underrated actor. While Willis, as great as he is, is pretty bland past the initial scene where his character is introduced. You've gotta give me people to like. When one (of the two) isn't around and the other is bland, I tend to space out and not care about the story. Which leads me right into the characters, which are only alright. Roadblock commands the screen, while Storm Shadow and Snake Eyes provide the more technical of the action sequences. Everybody is tough, big and full of all the unnecessary testosterone, yes even you Lady Jaye, that you'd come to expect going into a G.I. Joe film. No one bad, but it seems like I never really cared for anyone but Roadblock, Snake Eyes and Storm Shadow. Not a good thing when you're trying to get me into an ensemble cast of characters.

Surprisingly the story is fine, though split into three parts to start, it all meshes together well by the time the credits roll. Like I said in my opening paragraph, I hate when action movies try to be more than just action movies. This has a pretty basic plot, good guys are attacked, bad guys are threatened and finally they have to come together to win in the end. It's formulaic, it's campy, it's simple and it worked for a movie like this. The people who see big budget, Michael Bay-esque, explosion movies like these don't go for the story they go for the thrill. But all in all, like the acting, the action was pretty forgettable. Amidst the "WUBWUBWUB" of the blaring music, the action was nothing to write home about. The best scenes were in fact the opening scenes and one in the near the end involving Storm Shadow, Cobra Commander and Zartan (Arnold Vosloo). The rest of mediocre fight scenes involving ninjas. Those almost completely overshadowed any tactical or action stuff that the Joe's were involved in at any point. I wanna be wowed by action when I watch a movie, not be hard-pressed to remember stuff when I want to tell people how I felt about a movie. When the action was good it was admirable, but for me this just didn't come off well at all. The length was fine, but like the first one I felt it was overly long and a lot of things could've been cut. There were a ton of dragging scenes and for an action movie that not good. Also the music was wholly annoying through out, and for me detracted a lot of the time. I like Jay-Z as much as the next guy, but it doesn't mean his music is gonna fit into a given movie.

If you're a fan of the first film, then G.I. Joe: Retaliation is right up you're alley. You're going to love all the characters, the action, though it is lacking, and the story itself. But for me, while this is a vast improvement over G.I. Joe: Rise of the Cobra, this is riddled with problems that keep it from being a good action flick. The length, music are well, not good. While everything else is pretty average. Everything from the acting to the action, is mediocre and highly forgettable. Dwayne Johnson and a lacking story isn't enough to save this movie. So unless you're a massive fan of G.I. Joe, than I would consider skipping this one.


Monday, May 13, 2013

Batman Begins [A Fat Jesus Movie Review]


I love the Christopher Nolan Batman trilogy. I wrote reviews for this movie here, Batman Begins, and The Dark Knight, before I saw The Dark Knight Rises last year. Batman is easily one of the most recognizable superheroes to date. But his movies never really got an amazing rap until these Christopher Nolan ones. Batman grew up and got serious. No more is there a movie full of Arnold Schwarzenegger doing Mr. Freeze puns or Jim Carrey laughing TOO maniacally as The Riddler. Now we have a movie where Michael Caine is a bad-ass Alfred and Gary Oldman is the intimidating Lieutenant Gordon.

Batman Begins follows the story of Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) as he beings his journey to become Batman, and protect Gotham City from Jonathan Crane aka Scarecrow (Cillian Murphy). We begin with Bruce Wayne and Rachel Dawes (Katie Holmes), as children, playing together in the back yard of Wayne Manor. Rachel finds an arrowhead and Bruce takes it and runs off. While running away he falls into an abandoned well and a swarm of bats fly past him, causing a phobia to develop. One night as Bruce, his father and mother are at the opera, Bruce gets scared of the bats portrayed on stage and they must leave. Walking though the alleyway outside of the opera house they are confronted by a mugger. Even with full compliance the mugger shoots and kills both of Bruce's parents and runs off. Skipping forward a few years, Bruce is now a young man. There is a parole hearing for the man who killed his parents and it's presumed that he will walk after giving up information about Carmine Falconie. After the hearing, Bruce fully intends to kill the man who killed his parents, but one of Falconie's assassins gets there first. Bruce decides to leave Gotham (for seven years) to learn about the criminal underworld and hopefully learn ways to stop it. He ends up in a Bhutanese prison and is approached by Ducard (Liam Neeson), who offers him training at The League of Shadows led by Ra's Al Ghul (Ken Watanabe). Bruce completes his training, learns of The League's true intentions, destroys the headquarters, kills Ra's, saves Ducard and calls Alfred (Michael Caine). On the plane ride back to Gotham, he informs Alfred that he's coming back to save Gotham from the criminal and the corrupt. To become a symbol for the people, the eventual Dark Knight. Batman.

We have to start with the acting. Christian Bale plays Bruce/Batman phenomenally. Just get past him going on a tirade on set over essentially nothing. There is emotion, seriousness, humor (when needed) and a general sense that he wanted this reboot to go well. Where there was hardly any discernible (good) acting in the earlier movies, (aside from Michael Keaton and Jack Nicholson) everyone here wanted this to do well. It also helps that this was written WELL. When you give actors gold like this, it's hard for anyone to mess up. Much less greats like Gary Oldman, Liam Neeson, Michael Caine and Morgan Freeman. Props to Nolan for getting this great ensemble cast. Leading me to the point that this screenplay is awesome. The dialogue is real and the origin story is great. I'm sure everyone knows the tale of Bruce's parents being killed and having to grow up with Alfred. Full of vengeance and confusion. But this adds to it, it adds true emotion and really makes you feel sympathetic towards Bruce as a kid and even growing up. Also we really got to see the transformation of Bruce into Batman (training and suit/gadget assembly-wise) as well which really appealed to me. The music is grandiose. As it should be for a reboot and a story a big as this one. Nothing felt out of place and never detracted any scene.

There is not a lot that I disliked about this movie, so we'll continue with the good here. I loved the fight scenes in this movie. Especially the one at the docs and the one inside of Arkham Asylum. They were done beautifully. I'm started wondering if the people that made Batman Arkham Asylum and Arkham City, drew inspiration from these scenes for some of the combat and level design in the games. The fights looked good and looked brutal. Even still without Batman killing a single thug. The chase scenes are pretty damn cool too. Batman driving essentially a tank anywhere and everywhere in Gotham and even the train scene (complete with fight on board) was awesome. Thank God Michael Bay didn't do these scenes. The inner comic book nerd loved this movie too. Besides the new Batman suit and badassery. The inclusion of criminals like Zasaz and the story-line revolving around Scarecrow (Cillian Murphy) and Ra's al Ghul was awesome to me. That you didn't need the big name villains like Penguin, Freeze or Riddler to have a great Batman story. To have such a big pool of villains to choose from, I'm glad Nolan started with a very underrated one, in Scarecrow, and one of my personal favorites. If I had to pick anything "bad" about this is the length. While all the Batman movie in Nolan's trilogy are fairly long. I felt that this had a couple dragging scenes and that a bit could have been cut from here.

All in all this is how a reboot should work. Only a few dragging scenes, to me, a great story, awesome acting, amazing fight scenes and visuals, and an ending leaving the viewer wanting more. Christan Bale completely carries this movie and his supporting cast compliments him great. Batman is a deep character, more so than I think a lot of superheroes. He's much more relate-able to people I think as well. So I'm glad Nolan started this off on a more serious note. I'm also glad that this caught on, and spurred a great modern trilogy. This is the Gotham City and this truly is the beginning of Batman.




Friday, May 10, 2013

Scary Movie V [A Fat Jesus Movie Review]


Well this movie was something to say the least. It had more of a story line than Movie 43, but was less funny than A Haunted House. Apparently 2013 is going to be a year full of spoofs, and Scary MoVie aka Scary Movie 5, does nothing to stand out from the pack. In fact it almost does nothing to be funny. They dragged Charlie Sheen out of whatever drug hole he was in and also Lindsay Lohan from whatever court room she was in. Also they choose Ashley Tisdale as a lead? Well she's finally broken away from Disney to headline a truly awful movie. Scary Movie 5 is hardly the worst spoof you'll see this year, but like the best one, it's really not good at all.

Scary Movie 5, starts out with Charlie Sheen and Lindsay Lohan getting together to make a sex tape. After various things happens such as gymnastics and a horse coming in to bed with them they finish. Charlie is then pulled around the room by a paranormal force that soon possesses Lindsay. She kills Charlie Sheen and then flees. It's reported Lindsay has been arrested for the murder of Sheen and Charlie's three children are missing. Several months later Snoop Dogg and Mac Miller are in the Humboldt County woods looking for weed. After stealing a comically over sized joint, they flee into an abandoned house. Once they're in, they find three creatures, who appear to be little girls, and are later confirmed to be Charlie's missing kids. Snoop and Mac proceed to turn them in for the a reward. The children are placed in isolation, since they are feral-like. A few months later, Charlie's brother, Dan Sanders (Simon Rex), and his wife Jody (Ashley Tisdale) are called to take the kids in as guardians. Jody doesn't like the idea of living with the kids, but soon gets used to the notion. While all this is happening, she auditioning for the lead in a ballet production of Swan Lake, and is cast as the swan queen. Both on and off the stage Jody and everyone she has come into contact with is experiencing bizarre paranormal events. She has to learn to continue to live with these children and overcome this evil that is consuming her life.

There is some good in this movie. It actually has a fairly decent story-line, which most spoofs seem to lack on. Despite it being a terrible one, it sticks well to the story once it kicks in. I find it hard to find a lot of redeeming things about this, so I'm clinging to the smaller stuff.  I like stoner comedy, probably more than most, so the small parts of the movie that involved Snopp Dogg and Mac Miller were actually pretty humorous to me. I liked their back and forth, the one liners and the general stupidity that comes with the stoner brand of comedy. There were also pretty good one liners scattered throughout. Most all of the gag and prop comedy used is bad, but there's a lot good in the dialogue if you choose not to focus on the bad. This may be the shortest "the good in this movie" paragraph I've ever written, but there is literally nothing else that I found redeeming about this movie.

The acting is this is mildly entertaining at best. The best performance went to Simon Rex for and that's mostly cause I didn't know who he was at all. I had no expectations towards him and mostly why he was decent. Sheen and Lohan provide nothing but the opening and Snoop and Mac Miller, while funny to me, aren't around much either. The lead in Ashley Tisdale is bland and boring to me as well. I think that's mostly cause of the writing, but I think this wasn't the best role for her to finally break away from Disney. It's what she does from here on out that will really break her career. This would just be what pushed her down the hill. The other huge thing his the humor. I'm supposed to laugh watching this. That just didn't happen. While the parts including Snoop Dogg and Mac Miller were entertaining to me, nothing past a few witty one liners throughout. The jokes are bland and some of the spoofs are outdated. The bit parts and physical comedy weren't funny at all either. This is bland story that is mostly unfunny throughout. The two biggest things Scary Movie V hinges on, the acting and the humor, are so bad that you're gonna wonder why this even got picked up to be made.

Scary Movie V is not a movie that's worth seeing unless you're an uber fan of the series that hasn't been good since it's first movie. If you go in to enjoy Ashley Tisdale outside of Disney finally you'll be wholly disappointed. While this spoof actually follows a story, it's a bland one. Finally this is a comedy. Comedies are supposed to be funny, which this just doesn't do. While you may smile a few times, or be entertained by stoner comedy, like me, there just isn't a lot to laugh at all. There is just everything wrong with Scary Movie 5, and unless you have to see it to fulfill seeing the first four, I strongly suggest you stay away.


Thursday, May 9, 2013

Watching Movies In Suits [Batman]


Suits is a show on the USA Network that one of my good friends had been trying to get me to watch for the longest time. Long story short, I finally bit the bullet. I fell in love almost instantly with the drama, humor and story being top notch. Also the sly movie references was the icing on the cake for me. They are littered in every episode and gave me this idea for a weekly blog series. Suits in short follows the story of a successful law firm in New York. Their top lawyer hires a kid who is basically a genius, but never went to law school. The kid must learn the ins and outs of working at a law firm, alongside higher ups and with arguably the best paralegal in the city. The longer this charade goes the harder it seems that his dirty little secret will stay one. We're continuing this series, and what I'd like to call "Superhero Month" with, Batman!

Suits Batman Reference #1
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Suits Batman Reference #2
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Suits Batman Reference #3
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Suits Batman Reference #4
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Suits Batman Reference #5
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The year was 1989. I wasn't even born yet. Tim Burton was a wee young director. Batman was his third feature film. He had garnered enough attention from Pee-Wee's Big Adventure and Beetlejuice, to be able to land this massive directing role. Before Christian Bale and Batman: Begins you probably knew of Micheal Keaton as "the best" movie Batman. Sorry Adam West, but you owned the TV series. Jack Nicholson was the evil, yet humorous, Joker and is widely regarded as one of the best super villain performances of all time. This is the first installment of the original Batman series, and while it has flaws, it's still a pretty good superhero flick.

Batman follows the story of Bruce Wanye aka Batman (Micheal Keaton) as he protects Gotham City from Jack Naiper aka The Joker (Jack Nicholson). As a kid Bruce watches his parents get killed, he vows to avenge his parents by fighting crime, eventually becoming the mysterious Batman. Newly elected District Attorney Harvey Dent (Billy Dee Williams) and Police Commissioner James Gordon (Pat Hingle) still can't put a check on the corruption in the police department. Which is being headed by crime boss Carl Grissom (Jack Palance). Meanwhile reporter Alexander Knox (Robert Wuhl) and photojournalist Vicki Vale (Kim Basinger) are now investigating reports of a shadowy figure, dressed as a bat, fighting crime around Gotham. One night Jack Naiper, Grissom's number two, is sent to a chemical factory for a job. The police are tipped off, which also alerts Batman. Amidst all the commotion Batman attempts to save Jack Naiper from falling into a vat of chemicals to no avail. The fall causes him to need plastic surgery, though his face is permanently stuck as though he's always grinning. Hating the way he now looks he reinvents himself as The Joker and begins to terrorize Gotham City. From robbing galleries to killing the public with his patented Joker Venom, Batman must keep his identity secret while saving Gotham from a maniacal villain.

There is a lot of problems, but there is also a lot of good with this first installment of the original Batman film series. But the glaring problems are pretty glaring. Starting with the fact that in this incarnation, they have The Joker kill Bruce's parents. Which in itself is fine, if you haven't followed the Batman story ever. I don't know why they decided to go in this direction with it, but anyone with even a inkling of "Batman" knowledge knows that The Joker did not kill Wanye's parents. Another problem is the over-goofiness of The Joker. While I understand the The Joker is meant to be an over the top character, the random musical number, and the music during the parade scene, is enough to make you wonder why Burton let these happen. Maybe he wasn't acquainted with the Batman lore, or wanted to liven up an otherwise "dark" movie, but he really needed to choose one or the other. A superhero flick with comedic tones, or a superhero flick that stuck to a story-line, no matter how "deep" it got. The direction is the last problem I have. While I like Burton, this was not the movie for him. Burton is made for zany, dark, over the top with comedic tone in an original story. Not a widely acclaimed superhero movie. While this might have launched his directing career, this is nowhere near his best work. The good is pretty great though. The acting by Michael Keaton as both Bruce Wayne, and Batman, was pretty good. He worked well as the billionaire playboy and was good enough as Batman to be convincing. Kim Basinger played a good role as reporter/damsel in distress Vicki Vale. She was a nice compliment to both Keaton and Nicholson onscreen. Finally the acting by Jack Nicholson as The Joker was great. While there's a lot of over the top moments with him I didn't like, he played into the character well. He gets into the mind of The Joker and is crazy, and insane enough, to make you think he really is The Joker. The action was very 1980s but it worked. The gadgets were pretty cool too. I loved seeing the Batplane, Batmobile and various other staples. While the story was a good start to what was a promising film series at the time.

I love the Batman character and lore. I usually love any movie based around it as well. The story kicked off  what would be a 1990s films run that a lot consider to have one of the worst movies of all time in it. But, this was the first installment and was pretty solid. Despite it's flaws the story and character development is pretty great. Keaton and Nicholson are fantastic in their respective roles and Basinger provides a good supporting role. The direction by Burton leaves to scratching your head at times, but don't throw the whole movie out on this account. Batman in the end, is a very good superhero movie, well before superhero movies were considered the norm.


Monday, May 6, 2013

Mean Girls [A Fat Jesus Movie Review]


I never went to a huge public high-school. Both schools I ended up going to, and graduating from, were very small and medium sized private schools. Our family was never rich, don't get me wrong, I just never went to a big public school like the one featured in Mean Girls. I never had the interest of seeing this growing up. I probably always wrote it of as a "girly movie" or something I'm sure. But now I'm a completely normal and well adjusted 22-year old male, and after the urges of a couple friends, I finally got around to this. I love Tina Fey, and this was well before Lindsay Lohan when on her first coke binge, so I held out some hope for this. I wasn't disappointed, but this was just not my cup of tea.

Mean Girls follows the story of Cady Heron (Lindsay Lohan) as she goes to high school for the first time. Cady's parents, Betsy and Chip (Ana Gasteyer and Neil Flynn), are zoologists and they spent the last 12 years doing research in Africa. Luckily on the first day Cady meets Janis and Damien (Lizzy Caplan and Daniel Franzese). They teach Cady the ins and out of the high-school, including all various cliques, and there is a ton of them. They single out one group in particular, The Plastics. This trio of girls, the insecure one, Gretchen Wieners (Lacey Chabert), the rich, but ditzy one, Karen Smith (Amanda Seyfried) and their leader, The Queen Bee, Regina George (Rachel McAdams), run the school. When The Plastics take an interest in Cady, Janis hatches a plan to destroy them from the inside out. After being accepted into the group Cady is shown something called "The Burn Book". This is the ultimate book owned by Regina that keeps the rumors, secrets, gossip from all the girls and teachers in the school. Not long after, Cady falls for Aaron Samuels (Johnathan Bennett), Regina's ex-boyfriend, which causes Regina to steal him from her. This prompts Cady to decide to continue on with Janis' plan. But instead of destroying The Plastics, she may be destroying her name and alienating herself from the entire school.

My biggest problem with Mean Girls is that I find almost no way to relate with a lot of the stuff going on. Sure, in movies you're supposed to experience things as the characters do. But, with some movies you kinda need to have some sort of connection with at least something in there for it to hit you. This does in no way make it bad per se, but for me it really does downgrade my liking of it by whole lot. Once I stopped caring about the petty gossip or the unnecessary drama, this movie doesn't have a lot to hold it up. One liners, even though there were a lot of great ones, and decent performances by Lohan, Caplan and McAdams, aren't enough to hold up this movie. I just named almost the full main cast there, and if the main cast aren't getting the job done for me, you can bet the supporting roles, the great Tina Fey and Tim Meadows, won't be able to pick up the slack. Speaking of acting, while I went into this not expecting The Godfather-like performances, everyone came off as ho-hum. Lindsay Lohan was perfectly fine as the lead, Lizzy Caplan had a great supporting role, Rachel McAdams was great as the antagonist, with Fey and Meadows getting some good moments. Everyone else seemed disconnected to me though. Amanda Seyfried does not have acting chops in the slightest. While her stupidity, in character, was cute for awhile, you can't believe someone is that moronic. While Lacey Chabert, was forgettable. Hell, I didn't even know who she was since hasn't done anything worthwhile, outside of voice acting, since this film.

Just because the acting is sub-par and I didn't connect with a lot of the movie doesn't mean everything was bad. There was a lot of good humor in this. From one liners, to observational humor, Tina Fey is great at bringing out the funny in anything. As evidenced by her writing for SNL for nine years and 30 Rock for seven years. Fey is no slouch and everyone in this movie was written very well. Whether they did all they could with the role, Tina wrote it what anyone plugged into the hole, so to speak, could bring the humor out. The writing was top notch as well, as you can probably tell by these past few sentences. While the story is very "teenage", it was still a good one that's better than most teen dramas on TV or in the movies today. Engaging characters, a good lead and a great bad guy. When they aren't on the screen the support and story is good enough to make this a hit for both adults and teens. The adults laugh at the stupidity of some of the characters and the humor, while teens are engaged by the drama aspect of it all. Not many tweener movies get this balance right. They try too hard with its humor or goes too far with the drama content. I do wanna single out a few people for their acting. Lindsay Lohan is great in a leading role, at least she was ten years ago. She personified the shy girl trying to fit in. From gaining the acceptance of her first two friends, to generally being apprehensive whenever she was with The Plastics. Lohan played Cady flawlessly. McAdams on the other side of the coin was a great villain. She played the popular high school girl, that would ruin anyone's lives on the turn of a dime very well.  Pretty, popular and peccancy, McAdams personified Regina George. Finally the best supporting role goes to Lizzy Caplan, well at least before Lizzy got "big". She played the conflicted, to an extent, friend of Cady to a fault. While also wanting to destroy her self proclaimed enemy. She is the anti Cady that Cady needed in the film. The acting, writing and humor was all solid, which kept me watching.

Mean Girls has a lot of good, but for me personally a lot of bad. I had no connection to much in this film and the lazy acting by a lot of the people on screen really hurts this. This is still a greatly written movie, and all credit goes to Tina Fey there. The humor is solid throughout, yet repetitive. Despite the lacking acting, Lohan, McAdams and Caplan are pretty good, with Fey and Meadows providing great moments as well. This is a very like or hate it movie. Especially if you liked it growing up. At best for me though it was only okay, but this is still one of the better teen drama's you'll ever see. At the very least we can be comforted that "fetch" will never happen.


Saturday, May 4, 2013

42 [A Fat Jesus Movie Review]


I love sports and while baseball isn't high up on my list of favorites, playoff baseball is always fun to watch. Baseball movies as of late, like Moneyball and Trouble With The Curve, are pretty good movies. Which gave me the hope that 42 would at least be as good as the latter. Jackie Robinson is one of the most prolific players to ever compete in any sport. He broke down racial barriers in an exclusive sport and changed how things worked within, at the very least Major League Baseball. This movie is about how a sport was changed, now if only players would quit doping up, and maybe the sport can reclaim some of it's former glory.

42 is a biopic and follows the story of Jackie Robinson (Chadwick Boseman) being recruited to, and playing for, the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947. Robinson is traveling with his team as they stop to get gas on the team bus. Robinson asks to go use the restroom, to which the attendant denies. Robinson threatens to take their business elsewhere, and the attendant lets him use the restroom. Afterward, a scout from the Brooklyn Dodgers approaches him and sends him to Brooklyn to speak with Dodgers owner Branch Rickey (Harrison Ford). Rickey offers Robinson a $600 a month, with a $3500 signing bonus, contract to play with the Dodgers on the condition he keeps his anger under control. After the meeting Robinson calls his girlfriend, Rachel Isum (Nicole Beharie), and proposes to her, to which she says yes. Robinson already has to deal with being a black man, even in the minor league on the Montreal Royals. Also, because a white man is playing second base, Robinson is forced to learn how to play at first instead. Through racial trials, such as heckling and violence, and being denied residence at hotels, Jackie Robinson broke through barriers and stereotypes when he became a Brooklyn Dodger.

I liked this movie. Let me rephrase that, I like this movie when Chadwick Boseman is on the screen. But we're not gonna start with my likes here, we're gonna start with what I didn't like. There was a fair amount of bad in this. We'll start with Branch Rickey, again let me rephrase that. We'll start with the portrayal of Branch Rickey by Harrison Ford. It started out fine, I figured that was just how he talked, or at the very least it was how a lot of owners talked back in those days. Now don't misunderstand me, I don't mind if a movie drops the taboo "n-word", especially if a movie is set in a racially charged era. It was nothing to do with content, but with delivery. After about the third scene with Rickey in it you get tired of the accent. You get tired of his mannerisms. You get tired of Harrison Ford doing whatever's he doing to portray Branch Rickey. Maybe it was overacting, or maybe it was that Harrsion was told to do it that way. Whatever the reason, it was quite annoying to me throughout. The other big thing about this is that scenes not directly involving Chadwick Boesman as Jackie Robinson were pretty bland. Now thank goodness this was a Jackie Robinson movie of this could've gotten way out of hand. There were a few scenes where it soley revolved around Rickey and other GMs or Rickey and his managers, and they were so boring to me. It's not just limited to Rickey scenes. Even the scenes with Jackie's wife, Rachel, I just didn't seem to care about. There's a definite focus on Robinson, and while I understand he can't be the only person on screen, at least make me care about the others when they are.

I loved the overall story of this. While I don't agree this is a racially dominated society anymore, well at least not at the moment, I do appreciate what Robinson had to go through playing for the Dodgers. Chadwick Boseman did a fantastic job in his first major role, especially such a high profile one. You got the feeling that he really became Jackie Robinson. You felt the highs and lows that he felt. You could feel the emotion pouring out form his performance. He was truly the lead in this movie and made every scene that involved him. From playing on the field, to locker-room interaction and life between games, Boseman personifies Robinson. The story is written very well too, whenever you watch a biopic you want detail. From the little things like having an announcer giving play by plays during the game scenes, to managers setting line up and and working with other players. It all flows so well. When you watch you'll can catch the bigger things like John C. McGinley announcing games, and the smaller things like coaches, well coaching. The other half of this is the story itself. Following Jackie's life both on and off the field from signing to acceptance was a great thing to watch over the course of the movie. The writing was done well, but like I said above, some of the performances could have been handled much better. Finally I'll touch in the baseball scenes themselves. I love the old style of the stadiums. I love the crack of the bat and the olden style uniforms. Everything about the games themselves added a huge air of authenticity. This movie is full of great moments, scenes and historical significance. Everything from the portrayal of Robinson and the scenes full of periodical racism, to baseball mangers behind the scenes and general managers negotiations. Everything is top notch and provides a great looking into the way things worked in the 40s.

42 is a great biopic, but it's execution could have been done a lot better. The story is top notch and has great source material. Chadwick Boseman is phenomenal as Jackie Robinson, and despite this movie's flaws that should not be overlooked. Harrison Ford, in this, to me is annoying, but maybe you'll like what he did with Branch Rickey. If you love baseball you're gonna love this biopic. It has everything from game play to behind the scenes interactions. If you're not a baseball fan you'll still be able to appreciate all that Jackie Robinson went through to break down racial barriers. While 42 has its problems, it's still well worth a watch, and I really do look forward to seeing Chadwick Boseman in other films.