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  Edge of Tomorrow

Edge of Tomorrow Review

Edge of Tomorrow

Incredible. That’s the one word I’d use to describe this film if I was only given one. Incredible.

From the completely fantastic CGI, to the story telling, to the way it’s all laid out and placed so delicately in front of you, it’s fantastic all around.

Is it perfect? No. Do I think that everyone will love this movie? No. And here’s why:

The standard norm for telling a story isn’t present here. The usual beginning, middle and end are all here, but they’re not presented in a standard format. The timeline of the film jumps around a lot, as that’s part of the primary story. There’s a lot of repetition of days, but the way it’s done is visually appealing and doesn’t cause you – the viewer – to get lost at all. At least it didn’t for me.

It’s been compared – a lot – to Groundhog Day. I think this comparison comes from people that are too unclever to appreciate this movie’s true genius. They compare it to the only other film in recent memory in which the main character (or characters) end up repeating the same day over and over again. But Edge of Tomorrow is so much more than that. It’s an action movie, filled with epic battles, and character arcs, and mystery, and aliens. It’s filled with frustration of trying to understand why things are happening the way they are, and why our heroes can’t get past certain challenges.

It’s a story of a journey, an often frustrating one for the characters. It’s a story of a battle for Earth, the fight to maintain the human race while a new breed of super Aliens tries to take over the planet.

I was completely opposed to wanting to watch this at first. I mean, Tom Cruise, right? C’mon. When was the last good Tom Cruise movie? Interview With the VampireVanilla Sky? (Ugh, according to his IMdB page, they’re filming Mission Impossible 5 right now. Ugh.) I was so uninterested in watching it, I put it off all week and finally gave in last night because there was nothing better to watch. I was completely taken by surprise at how much I enjoyed it.

The special effects work, specifically the CGI is top notch. The imaginations of those creating this new – previously never before seen – alien race and the backstory that accompanied them is incredible. Imagine an octopus on steroids, but fifty times larger and that moves at speeds you’ve never seen aliens move before. It’s incredible.

My only problem with the movie, as you can guess, is Tom Cruise. He could have very easily been transplanted from any of his other movie roles into this one. The acting’s the same, the dialogue is almost interchangeable, and his overall demeanor seems to never change in the characters he’s playing.  I suppose one could argue that Emily Blunt’s character is also a bit washy. She starts out as this amazing badass, one that the men fear and the stories follow her around. And then, by the end of the movie, she seems to be incapable of doing anything on her own without teeny-tiny-Tom Cruise. Kind of a waste, in my opinion.

That said, I really enjoyed the movie. You may not like the way the story’s told, how it jumps around and repeats itself a lot, but I thought it was quite well done.




  Maleficent

Maleficent Review

Maleficent

I suppose I should start by saying that I didn’t really have any desire to see this movie. It just happens that it was all that was available on a Friday night after a long stressful week.

I’ll follow that up by saying I’m glad I watched it. It was quite enjoyable in a number of ways. While I was never big on the story of Sleeping Beauty, that’s essentially what Maleficent is, but from a slightly different perspective.

The movie looks visually stunning. The landscapes and imagery that were digitally crafted are beautiful. Sometimes more beautiful than you’d expect and the special effects teams are showing off a bit. For example, there’s a big battle scene near the beginning of the movie and part of that battle shows Maleficent (Angelina Jolie) flying around overhead and zipping around the enemy, mostly (I think) so they could show off the scenery around their created landscape.

I didn’t mind much, though, because it truly is gorgeous and very well done.

The story isn’t all that different from any classic Disney princess story we know from our childhood, though there is a slight twist at the end. It wasn’t quite a surprise and was fairly predictable as the film went on. It was, I will say, a welcome change to what was expected. It strays from the typical Disney princess stories of the past and tries something new that’s only been done in one other Disney film (very recently), if memory serves.

Angelina Jolie puts on an incredible performance as Maleficent, though you likely already know that. She embodies the character she plays, more so than she’s done in the past, and truly shines in the role. You both love her and hate her all at the same time, which is exactly what I think they’re going for.

I didn’t care for Sharlto Copley — you remember him from District 9. He’s stale in his role and could have easily been replaced by any number of other actors who could have pulled off the small, but important, role much better.

Elle Fanning is adorable, whimsical, and eager. Just as you’d expect Princess Aurora to be (yes, that’s Sleeping Beauty’s name). It seems where Dakota left off, Elle is picking up.

Overall I really enjoyed the film. It wasn’t the greatest story in the world, but I didn’t care. I enjoyed it, its scenery, the dynamic between Maleficent and Diaval, and also Aurora. If you like classic Disney stories that have been updated for today’s day and age, this one’s for you.




  Godzilla

Godzilla Review

Godzilla

Wow. Another Godzilla reboot. Another director, different writers, a big named star. I mean, Bryan Cranston for God’s sake. Walter White. How could this possible be bad. This is going to be incredible.

That’s what I thought before I started watching it. Despite everyone I knew that had seen it telling me how incredibly bad it was.

The story’s nothing new. It’s the same Godzilla garbage they’ve been jamming down our throats since they were made overseas. Nothing imaginative there. I get why they want to remake a movie like this, I really do. With today’s technology and advances in computer imagery, how could you not want to make a giant dinosaur-like creature that destroys cities and fights with other giant things? It seems like a no brainer, right?

I don’t need to go into the details here. It’s Godzilla versus Mothra and Mothra’s girlfriend. They battle across cities, across the Pacific ocean, and end up San Francisco. Why wouldn’t they end up in San Francisco? Every movie seems to end up there lately.

The problem — aside from the problem that Walter White’s only in the movie for like a quarter of it (if that) — is that there’s not enough Godzilla.

Is there a lot of people talking about Godzilla? Yes.
Is there a lot of people looking at camera footage of helicopters and planes flying over Godzilla? Yep.
Does Ken Watanabe say “Godzilla” with the most awesome accent? You know it.
Is there enough actual Godzilla? No. Hell no. Not even close.

I didn’t count, but I’m pretty sure Godzilla’s only on the screen for a handful of minutes, at best. There’s a lot of “I see his back spikey fin things coming out of the water!”, but there’s very few scenes of him actually doing stuff.

I’d have given this zero stars, save for one moment. There’s a really great scene towards the end where Godzilla spits blue fire into the mouth of one of his enemies and the CGI on it is incredible. Clearly that’s where a good chunk of their special effects budget went. To that one scene. The rest of it didn’t look any better than the Godzilla of 1998 to be honest. I hoped for more.

I gave it my best shot. I went in with an open mind, despite the haters. I wanted to enjoy it and cheer and yell as Godzilla smashed the hell out of everyone and everything. I even hoped for a silly throwback to someone saying “oh no, it’s Godzilla” and having their mouth keep moving like it did in the old dubbed films. But alas, this was a snorefest.

I can’t even recommend watching it just to see how bad it truly was. It’s so bad you should just skip it. You’ve wasted enough time on Godzilla just sitting there and reading this. If you did see Godzilla and you liked it, we can’t be friends anymore.




  The Conjuring

The Conjuring Review

The Conjuring

It’s no secret that the trailers for The Conjuring are fairly terrifying.  So it’s obvious that I wanted to see it.  Despite being a big scaredy-cat, I do love this type of movie.  Based on what I was reading online beforehand, it was going to live up to the hype and terrify me.

I’m not sure if it was the annoying woman two rows in front of me that kept yelling “oh god!” or the nervous laughter from some of the teenagers in the theater, but it wasn’t that scary. It had its moments where you jumped or were scared for a second or two.  To be honest, I expected more. Especially towards the climax.  I wanted a good fifteen minutes of pure terror, one scare after another, non-stop.

I didn’t get that, though.

I won’t deny that there were a few times where I yelled “oh my god!” out loud, because something terrifying happened.  But it’s quick scares.  They happen and then they’re gone, just like that.

The lovely Vera Farmiga is wonderful, as always.  She embodied Lorraine Warren quite nicely. I really got the sense that she spent a lot of time researching the role.  Patrick Wilson plays her husband, Ed, and does most of the heavy lifting in terms of their tag-team demonologist-ing.

Lili Taylor and Ron Livingston round out our main cast as the parents of the Perron family, parents of five daughters, all equally scared of whatever’s in their house.

I won’t call this a period piece because it doesn’t take place that long ago, but the ’70s were a lifetime ago for some people.  It doesn’t feel old, though.  There’s old cars, old radios, and an old TV, but it doesn’t slap you in the face with its era.  The technology that they use to try to capture evidence to bring to the Vatican is period correct and very antiquated by today’s standards.

I enjoyed the story, but don’t buy that it’s based entirely on a true story (though Googling suggests that it is).  The movie was an enjoyable Sunday evening at a theater that serves dinner, so I really can’t complain.

Would I like to have been more terrified? Yes.  Was I happy enough with the movie? Yes.  Do I think that it was as scary as people are saying it is? No.  Close, but no.




  Monsters University

Monsters University Review

Monsters University

You’ve likely already heard how Monsters University is “nothing original” and “rehashed old material” from other reviews.You’ve probably heard of how Monsters University isn’t as good of a sequel as Toy Story 2 was. (Even though Monsters University is a prequel, not a sequel.)

I’m here to tell you that all those reviewers that didn’t like the movie, or thought it was rehashed from the original are out of their minds.  Monsters University was excellent.  So much fun, such a great story, and so exciting to see these characters that we fell in love with back in 2001 all over again.

I suppose we should start with the animation.  I’ll go (not too far) out on a limb and say that Pixar’s animation is unrivaled in their industry.  Sure Dreamworks does a good job with their animation, but Pixar is leaps and bounds ahead of everyone else in the game.  The level of detail in Monsters University is so lifelike that at times I thought it was real footage I was looking at.  The Pixar short before the feature film was equally as amazing. I was near convinced that what I was seeing was actual footage, shot with a camera, of New York in the rain.  The fact that it was animated blew (and still blows) my mind.

But Pixar doesn’t stop there, it’s not just their animation that’s amazing.  Their stories are incredible as well, as is the case with Monsters University.  We already know these characters and we love them.  But this story lets us get to know them all over again in a new way.  We get to flash back to Mike as a child and learn why he wants to be a scarer and how he ends up at MU.  We learn that Sully’s family is famous for being scarers.  We learn so much yet it’s not forced down our throats, it’s not presented to us in a way that feels uncomfortable or awkward.

It’s been a while since I’ve been to a movie that there was applause at the end.  But there was a good round of applause not only at the end of Monsters University but at a number of points throughout the film as well.  Without giving anything away, there’s a number of scenes where you’re rooting so hard for the “good guys” that you find yourself smiling and cheering when they come out on top.

I found myself having so much fun that I didn’t want it to end.  I wanted to keep following Mike and Sully after the movie ended.  Moments before the movie ended I found myself leaning over to my movie companion and saying “We should watch Monsters, Inc after this!”  I wanted to pick up right where Monsters University leaves off, which is right around the beginning of Monsters, Inc.  A very well tied together pair of films and Pixar pulled it off quite well.

I’m 100% glad I disregarded the reviews I read about this film and went to see it anyway.  I laughed, I teared up a bit, I clapped a lot, and I overall had a wonderful time.  I couldn’t have expected anything more and Pixar couldn’t have given me anything more.  Monsters University is as close to perfect as they could have gotten it.




  Now You See Me

Now You See Me Review

Now You See Me

It’s no secret that I love magic and movies pertaining to magic.  My review and explanation of The Prestige is the highest trafficed set of pages on MovieSnobs.  So when Now You See Me‘s trailer showed up on the scene a few months ago, I knew I had to see it.

I’ve since read a number of reviews and forum postings about the film, and it seems that I’m un the minority of people who liked it.  In fact, I’d go further than saying I liked it and say I loved it.  Is it a perfect movie? No, not by any means.  Is it enjoyable and a greatly told story? I think so, yes.

To truly enjoy Now You See Me, you have to suspend your disbelief.  Now that goes without saying when you’re watching a movie, but this time you have to suspend everything you know about magic.  Some of the tricks they show are truly movie magic versus something that I think a real magician could do.  Though thinking back to childhood, David Copperfield made an elephant disappear, so I suppose anything’s possible.

I wouldn’t go so far to say that the case is “all star”, but they’re certainly well put together.  Relative newcomer Dave Franco (younger brother of James Franco) pulls off a wonderful surprise in the third act with a stunning display of athleticism and acrobatics.  He’s otherwise his same smart-ass self you’d have found back in watching him on “Scrubs”.

Many people will tell you that they “figured it out” throughout the course of the movie.  Like most Hollywood films these days, there’s a twist at the end.  If you’re clever and watch for the clues, you’ll figure it out too.  It’s not quite as hidden as Nolan’s The Prestige, but it’s still a nice surprise.  I didn’t figure it out as quickly as I think I should have, in thinking back.

This is definitely a movie I’ll be buying a copy of when it comes out on Blu-ray.  I’d love to see the behind the scenes and directory’s commentary, as I imagine it’ll be a lot of fun to dive into the making of features that will likely be on the disc.

If you enjoy magic or even just a good story told in movie format, you should check out Now You See Me.  It’s a great (nearly) two hour film that tells a great story and has lots of flash and bang.  Car chases, fights, double (and triple!) crosses, and lots and lots of magic tricks.




  The Call

The Call Review

The Call

I was actually semi-surprised by The Call, I was honestly expecting to completely hate it and want to smash my TV after I watched it.

But I didn’t hate it and definitely didn’t smash my TV, despite this being a “WWE Studios” film, which are notoriously horrible.

Unlike most WWE Studios films, this one had some actual star power in Halle Berry and Abigail Breslin — that didn’t stop them from adding in wrestler-turned-quasi-actor David Otunga, and round out the cast with a bunch of relative unknowns.

The premise of the movie sounded enticing, which is why I decided to give it a viewing last night.  A 911 operator takes a call from a girl that’s been kidnapped and is in the trunk of a car.  After a bad experience with a similar situation months earlier, Halle Berry‘s character Jordan takes the reigns on the phone and tries to help Abigail Breslin‘s Casey escape.

A solid concept for the story, and one that I enjoyed.

Abigail Breslin gives a riveting performance as the girl who thinks she’s about to die.  At some times I almost believed she was really in danger.  Her screams were deafening at times, but I enjoyed it.

Halle Berry is equally as great as she always is.  She conveys a pain from her character that you’d expect, given the situation she’s placed in.

My favorite part was towards the end.  Without giving anything away (though you can probably guess what happens), I enjoyed the last few minutes quite a bit.  It was a nice change to see it end the way that it did.

I also quite enjoyed the way it was filmed.  It’s hard to explain but during key points in action shots, the video freeze frames for a second right before something’s about to happen, almost like a teaser of “this guy’s going to do something right now!”  I quite liked that. It wasn’t something I’ve often seen in other movies.

Would I recommend The Call? Sure.  If you’re at home on a weekend and want to grab something mindless but fun from Redbox or Netflix, have at it. It’s a great hour and a half.




  This Is 40

This Is 40 Review

This Is 40

I don’t want to say that I was disappointed by This Is 40, because I’m not a huge fan of Judd Apatow (though I did love The 40 Year Old Virgin).  I will, however, say that I wasn’t as impressed with This Is 40 as I thought I would be, based on all the positive reviews.

Sure, I identified with a lot of the storyline, a lot of the bits, and most of the jokes.  And yes, I laughed out loud a few times, in very short bursts of laughter.  Was I rolling around crying with my sides hurting? No.  But that’s not what Judd Apatow movies are all about — at least not for me.  While surely funny, his movies have more heart than humor.  I absolutely loved Funny People, despite not many people liking it.

Paul Rudd is his usual awkward, yet hilarious self.  We don’t see anything new or ground breaking from him here, but we still get our typical laughs out of him.

Leslie Mann is great, as she always is.  Just the right amount of “I’m funny” mixed in with “I’m a serious actress” to balance it all out, and not be too much of either.

Apatow’s kids, Maude and Iris, are growing into fine young actors. Which they should, since their dad’s been putting them in movies since they were tiny children.  Maude, especially, is really becoming quite an actress, and stole a few scenes from those that she was acting with.

Overall I enjoyed This Is 40. I wouldn’t say it was the best movie I saw this year, not by a longshot. But it was still good for a few hours at the movies, laughing with those around you (even if the theater was mostly empty on Christmas Eve.)




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