Sunday, December 30, 2012

My Best and Worst Movies of 2012

Here are my top 10 Best and Worst Movies for 2012.

Top 10 Best movies of 2012

10. [Rec]3 Genesis
9. Dredd 3D
8. Seeking Justice
7. Looper
6. We Need to Talk About Kevin
5. Argo
4. Chronicle
3. Sinister
2. The Cabin in the Woods
1. Django Unchained

Top 10 Worst movies of 2012

10. Dark Shadows
9. Silent Hill Revelations 3D
8. The Woman in Black
7. Resident Evil Retribution
6. Wrath of the Titans
5. Total Recall
4. The Raven
3. Red Tails
2. Chernobyl Diaries
1. The Devil Inside

Friday, December 28, 2012

Django Unchained- review

With a touch of exploitation, a hint of buddy comedy, and throwback to a spaghetti westerns story, writer/director Quentin Tarantino gives audiences a unique look into the Pre-Civil War days of the American South.  The acting is great for the most part and the story is epic and intricate.  While being a great movie, it is not without its faults.

Django, played by Jamie Foxx, is a slave that has recently been set free by a German bounty hunter named Dr. King Schultz, played by Christoph Waltz.  They become partners and fast friends over the course of their work.  When Django finds the whereabouts of his wife at the plantation of a sadistic, yet charming, Calvin Candie, played by Leonardo DiCaprio, he has to come up with a clever ploy to rescue her.

With Oscar winners of this caliber you would expect nothing less than great acting, and Christoph Waltz and Jamie Foxx do not disappoint.  They play off each other incredibly well and their friendship adds a very believable chemistry.  Leonardo DiCaprio shows a great deal of skill in being both incredibly smooth and at the same time chaotic and terrifying.  While many others gave notable performances, those three actors stole the show with their talent going above and beyond. 

The biggest question for this movie is why did Quentin Tarantino decide to cameo?  His choice to use a bad Australian accent was also baffling.  Samuel L. Jackson would have been an interesting character if he didn’t speak modern blaxploitation slang instead of the Pre-Civil war era speech.  These sorts of changes are a bit jarring and it took me out of the movie with the change in tone.  There is no reason for it and the bizarre desire to do so only puzzles me more.

The story is long and intricate.  It weaves like a Kurosawa movie however there are times when it could have been trimmed for time and other scenes that are just humor for humors sake or training montages that could have been shortened.  Either way, much of the time was skimmed by a text crawl mid movie.  The movie could have used another trip through the editing room just to keep it taut and interesting.

Despite the flaws, Django Unchained is still a very great film.  The acting is top notch and the story is a lot of fun albeit long.  I highly recommend it if you are a fan of Tarantino’s other work or you are fan of the action or western genre.  It is good to see such a great pool of talent working together to make something so interesting and original. 

Saturday, December 15, 2012

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey- review

Peter Jackson brings us back to Middle Earth in the tale that preceded the hit Lord of the Rings trilogy.  This time, the single book has been broken into three separate films.  It’s a good movie with decent visuals.  It is however, filled with padding that could’ve either been edited into two movies or at the very least given another round through the editor’s booth.

Bilbo Baggins reminisces to Frodo about his adventures with Gandalf and the company of dwarves.  As he is remembering he turns into a younger version of himself, played by Martin Freeman. Bilbo recalls being hired as a burglar by Gandalf, played by Sir Ian McKellan, to help a group of dwarves reclaim their homeland from the dragon Smaug. He faces many challenges and goes out of his comfort-zone for this great adventure.

Martin Freeman does a fine job as Bilbo. It’s great to see many of the old characters again. Andy Serkis as Gollum is great and the CGI on him has improved sharply. The problem is that the new characters are fairly forgettable at this point. Even after lots and lots of padding, the dwarves are easy to forget.  

The length of this movie causes a major problem. The long hours of The Lord of the Rings movies worked because the threat of Sauron was so immense. In The Hobbit, the threat is localized to the characters themselves and is harder to identify with- a dragon that stole the gold of the dwarves. It’s not nearly as epic.  The simple fact is that The Lord of the Rings trilogy raised the bar really high and it’s going to take a lot to get to that level again.

If you are a fan of the book you will enjoy this movie.  If you enjoyed The Lord of the Rings movies you will most likely find this one to be the weakest of the series.  The series still might get better. The dragon Smaug was barely shown, leaving me to really anticipate The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug. I have a feeling there is a lot more action yet to come.  At the very least see it as a matinee.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Red Dawn (2012)-review

Red Dawn is the remake of the 1984 film of the same name.  The film received a lot of press during development when it changed the villains from the Chinese to the North Koreans in order to maintain access to China’s box office.  The film still contains much of the same mood concept of the original, though it lacks some of the spirit.  On its own it’s not a bad movie.

Jed Eckhert, played by Chris Hemsworth, is visiting his family after a tour of duty with the Marines. His brother Matt, played by Josh Peck, is bummed after losing a football game and will spend a majority of the film being mopey and annoying.   They wake one morning to find North Korean paratroopers landing and taking over the city of Spokane, Washington.  They gather a few other people and head for the woods where they start a resistance group called the Wolverines- named after their high school mascot.   Will these young people be able to thwart the North Korean menace?

The acting is okay for the most part.  Chris Hemsworth gives a good performance as usual.  In addition, Jeffrey Dean Morgan gives a decent performance in a relatively small role.  Josh Peck as Matt, is one of the biggest let downs in this movie.  He is an absurdly written character that truly is in need of a beating. It’s the smug look he has on his face every time he delivers a line that makes him deserving of a sharp slap to his gob. 

It’s difficult to talk about this movie without talking about how it compares with the original.  I thought the CGI paratroopers looked ridiculous and lacked any threat for a modern attack.  It was also odd that after just one montage, the high school kids were relatively good and confident at using firearms, making explosives with C4, and even using RPGs.  In the original the kids were good at their attacks but it was clear that they were amateurs.  Not that that the original was a great movie; the movie had more holes than a slice of Swiss cheese.  I just felt it was a noticeable difference.

For the most part the movie is entertaining.  Though not nearly on the same level as the original, it at least showed it wanted to belong in the same mood and attempt some of the same themes. If you are in the mood for a movie that gives a new take on the old theme then give it a rental or catch it during a matinee.  

Sunday, December 2, 2012

The Walking Dead- video game review

The Walking Dead has been a huge hit since the television show on AMC.  Based on the hit comic by Robert Kirkman, The Walking Dead faces a zombie apocalypse scenario with realism and a unique sense of humanism that is rare for this medium.  Telltale Games has clearly worked well to make a game that looks like the comic come to life in an episodic adventure.

You play as Lee Everett, a criminal on his way to prison at the time of the big zombie attack.   The game play is point and click and the dialog works very much like a “chose your own adventure” novel.  The great thing is that the game remembers your decisions so that in each episode events will change and sometimes the dialogue will alter depending on your choices.  There are a few really interesting plot twists that make it almost gripping to watch at times. 

It is a well-written script and the characters are interesting and for the most part likable.  While there are a few people that you don’t mind seeing zombies turn into lunch, it still allows a certain level of character development so you care if these people survive the episodes.  The game will also tell you how other players who have played the game made their decisions at the end of the episodes. You will also come across characters from the comics that are very well known such as Glenn and Hershel.

If you are a fan of The Walking Dead comics or the television show you will enjoy the game.  It’s fairly easy to get into and not too difficult to play.  This is the sort of game that you play for the love of the source material not so much for the challenge.  If you are looking for something to get you through those dry spells when the season is not doing anything, consider playing The Walking Dead video game.