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.)

  Friends Giveaway!

Our friends over at Warner Brothers are giving away some limited edition special prizes just for checking out the video below!

Want to win a Friends prize pack including two Friends mugs, and a limited edition picture frame exactly like the one that hung over Monica’s door?  Just drop a comment on this post, and you’re entered! Winner will be picked at random on December 5th, 2012.

Also be sure to check out the Friends weekly trivia game!

And be sure to get your copy of the Friends: The Complete Series on Blu-ray, available now at any reputable retailer!

  The Awakening

The Awakening Review

The Awakening

If you’re interested in seeing The Awakening, you’ll likely read how it takes bits and pieces from The OthersThe Sixth Sense, and countless other suspenseful types of movies over the last few decades.  You’ll also likely read that it isn’t very original, and that people may have not liked it.  I’m here to tell you that those people couldn’t be more wrong.  Sure, it pulls from other movies from the genre.  How can you not? More or less everything’s been done over the last few decades, it’s tough to come up with any new ideas that don’t have a hint of another film in them.  That’s near impossible.

The Awakening, I’d go as far as saying, is fantastic.  I loved it.  Perhaps it’s because I’ve loved Rebecca Hall since The Prestige.  Perhaps it’s because I was dying to figure out what was actually going on the entire time.  I kept thinking I had it all figured out, and then it turned out I was wrong.

I think the reason some people didn’t like this movie is because they expected to be scared out of their minds the entire time.  And that’s not what The Awakening is meant to do.  Sure, it’s a “ghost story” in the traditional sense, and that’s how it’s been billed in the (limited) trailers I’ve seen for it.  But that’s not what it is at its core.  It’s got a few jump out of your seats spots, but nothing to make you want to cry.  It’s not that scary, and I’m okay with that.

What is it then? It’s a story that happens to take place at a boarding school for boys, that happens to be haunted.  The story that we see, and the point of the movie is to tell why the boarding school is haunted. And I loved the way they tell this story.  It gripped me in a way that one of these types of movies hasn’t in quite a while.  I think back to the last of these types of films that I saw in the theater, which was the absolutely dreadful The Woman in Black, starring Daniel Radcliff. Which was abysmal, at best.  The Awakening doesn’t scare your pants off, but it does get the job done.

I don’t want to say too much, or give away too much of the reveal at the end, as that’s the whole point of the movie.  So I can just reiterate how much I loved the film.  It’s not perfect, which is why I’m only giving it 4.5 stars, instead of 5.  But it’s close enough to perfect that I’ve pre-ordered the Blu-ray (which as of the writing of this review, does not have a release date.)

If you like movies that make you think, let you try to figure out what the “answer” is, and have people with British accents, this film’s for you!

  Taken 2

Taken 2 Review

Taken 2

Let’s get right to it, shall we?  I wasn’t as in love with Taken 2 as I wanted to be.  Sure, it’s a great film with lots of fun action scenes, and tons of Liam Neeson punching people.  But it just wasn’t the same.

Since it came out a couple of years ago, Taken (the original) has become quite the cult classic.  While it didn’t do that well at the box office, people adore it, and most people (like myself) will watch it any time it’s on television, regardless of the channel or editing.

Its sequel comes flying at us, written and produced by Luc Besson who did the original, but not directed by him.  And it’s clear that it’s directed by someone else, which may or may not be a bad thing, depending on how you look at it.  I personally didn’t care for the directorial style during the fight scenes, but some of the cinematic shots of Istanbul and Los Angeles were quite nice.

Neeson returns as Bryan Mills, all around bad-ass kung-fu ninja with marksmanship to boot.  Famke Janssen returns as his ex, mother of Kim (played by the never aging Maggie Grace), with a much larger role than the first film. Which, if you’re a fan of Famke, is a good thing for you.

Taken 2 has plenty of punching, shooting, and a pretty bitchin’ car chase scene where Kim herself gets to do the driving.  The entire time she’s trying to elude bad guys, and her dad’s shooting at them out the passenger window, he’s yelling at her to drive faster.  Which makes her more nervous.  It’s both hilarious and awesome at the same time.

As we were leaving the theater, my movie going partner turned to me and asked what I thought, and I could only tell her that while I enjoyed it, I didn’t love it.  In reading some other reviews before heading to the theater, it seems most others had the same reactions.  It’s a good film, but it fails in comparison to the firm Taken film, which was one of my favorite movies the year it came out.

I won’t waste time in summarizing the plot for you, it’s really simple: revenge.  Marco (from the first film) is dead, and his dad is pissed.  That’s about all you need to know going into this.  Dad wants Bryan dead. Bryan wants to not be dead, ergo, fighting.

I’d definitely see this again, and while it has its flaws, it’s also a great film to pass an hour and a half of your life.  It’s not perfect by any means, but it’s certainly a film worthy of taking your $10 at the box office.

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