Snow White and the Huntsman
I didn’t see the other Snow White movie that came out earlier this year, but I’m going to go out on a limb and say that Snow White and the Huntsman is probably the better of the two. It’s definitely got the moody and dark atmosphere going for it. From the sets to the locations even right down to the color palate; everything gives you the impression that this isn’t Disney’s Snow White (or a kiddie version either).
The cast was also pretty solid too. I mean, when you have an Oscar winner as the main antagonist you’ve already half the battle won. Charlize Theron gives a great performance as the evil queen. From the way she recited the classic “mirror mirror” line to the way she used her magic, as well as how she spoke to her brother really made her the evil queen. Thor himself was pretty decent as was KStew–she didn’t seem as whiney as in those Twilight movies.
One thing I thought was a little out of place was a certain magical/fantastical scene in the middle of the film. I know there’s a magical element to the film, but this one really stuck out and seemed a little awkward. I don’t know, other than that the film was pretty solid all around.
Rating – 3.5 stars
Rock of Ages
I’m not generally a musical guy, but put a bunch of rock ‘n’ roll hits into a movie populated by a cast including Tom Cruise and I’m game. And I’m not going to lie, I was expecting Glee, just without the whole high school thing. What I got was Glee 2.0 or Glee “The College Years” with known actors belching out some great songs.
The music is fun and is definitely the highlight of the film. Each rendition is pretty well performed and there’s even a few different takes on some of the songs. What I really liked though was how the songs were incorporated into the storyline of the film; for the most part I thought they did a really good job with that.
The best part of the movie though, had to be anytime Tom Cruise was on screen. Cruise seemed to be the perfect guy to play Stacee Jaxx and I wouldn’t be surprised if he was channeling some sort of inner emotions when playing the character. He pretty much steals every scene he’s in in the film. The most amazing part . . . he’s actually not that half bad a singer. When he starts on ‘Wanted Dead or Alive’ that’s when I knew I was having a good time with Rock of Ages.
Rating – 3.5 stars
That’s My Boy
I know everyone pretty much gives out a collective sigh every time Adam Sandler brings out a new movie, myself included. Especially after last year’s Jack and Jill (one of the worst films of last year for me) it’s totally understandable why people would feel this way.
However, I was pleasantly surprised by That’s My Boy. Going in I was definitely hopeful that having Andy Samberg (not one of Sandler’s usual film buddies) would provide chemistry that would maybe give us a little more substance that we’ve seen from his films than in the past. And while Samberg was a decent enough edition, I feel the added substance didn’t come from in front of the camera. Sure Samberg looks the part and can even act the part of Sandler’s son, but I think it was director Sean Anders (Sex Drive) that provides the hidden potential in this film.
Don’t get me wrong, there were a ton of laughs that just feel flat and a bunch of stuff for people to be offended by in this movie, still there were good jokes to be had a few setups, that while they may not have paid off, I thought were ripe with possibility.
In the end it a decently funny Sandler film wrought with untapped potential.
Rating – 2.5 stars
With their latest film Brave, I really do think we may have past the high water mark from Pixar. While these guys don’t know how to make a bad film, Brave is definitely not on bar with some of their greats like UP, Wall•E, or Toy Story.
Never at anytime during the film did I feel an emotional connection to Merida or her plight, something that I can say I did have in the aforementioned Pixar films. Also, the story was some what predictable.
However, that’s not to say the film was bad. The animation was simply stunning, maybe more so that in previous films. And, the Pixar level of comedy was their as well, especially with the Triplets who practically steal every scene they’re in. I will say that the relationship between Merida and her mother definitely felt spot on and authentic, but what didn’t make me fully buy in was that Merida didn’t realize she caused all these problems until very late in the film.
Overall the film is better than Cars 2 and does have a heartfelt lesson that it strives to convey, but it just feels like lesser Pixar to me. I don’t know, maybe it’s not fair to compare Brave to the films that have come before it.
Rating – 3.5 stars
Seeking a Friend for the End of the World
Doing a comedy/drama is never an easy thing. Without the right combination of the two the movie ends up being either a really lame comedy, or a really lame drama; which I think this film falls into the latter category.
Steve Carell and Keira Knightly are both ok in this film, but I never bought their developing romance/love over the course of the film. While age is just a number, that number seemed way too great in this movie. I just didn’t see Knightly’s character going for him. And as for the comedy . . . a lot of separate moments in the film were funny, but I thought it didn’t mesh well with the overall drama of the story and situation.
This film just really didn’t know what it wanted to be, and because of it, it’s not a bad film, but it’s not a good one either.
Rating – 3 stars
Safety Not Guaranteed
Under the conceit of time travel, Safety Not Guaranteed provides a fun look at our sense of self, love, regret, and our desire to change; not just our past, but who we are as people. It’s got a really great cast with Aubrey Plaza and Mark Duplass leading the way. Both of them are really great together; Plaza’s deadpan humor meshes well with Duplass’s character’s eccentricities. You also have Jake Johnson as a lovable douchebag and newcomer Karan Soni as a funny, but awkward Indian intern.
The film isn’t really about time travel, but rather uses that as a way to study how these characters deal with forming meaningful relationships. In many ways the film is like a romantic comedy, however, it’s definitely a different take on the genre . . . and a welcome one at that. The relationships that the characters forge during the course of the film make each of them endearing and make Safety Not Guaranteed an unexpectedly sweet film.
Rating – 3.5 stars
People Like Us
If you’re looking for a decently fine drama in the middle of summer then People Like Us definitely scratches that itch. The story is definitely sentimental and a little predictable, but overall I bought in to what Chris Pine, Elizabeth Banks, and writer/director Alex Kurtzman were selling me.
The four major stars in the film (the aforementioned Pine and Banks along with Michelle Pfeiffer and Olivia Wilde) are all fine enough in their roles and I did feel where each of them were coming from. The odd man out definitely was the character of Josh played by Michael Hall D’Addario (the son character in the film) who gave some funny lines, but didn’t offer much else in the way of acting. On another note, chalk up another movie for Mark Duplass this summer. He has a small role in this film . . . very small.
So yeah, kind of a mixed bag with People Like Us; though it’s a perfectly fine movie.
Rating – 3 stars
I saw Magic Mike on the night it opened. It was the last show of the night and while the theater was maybe half full, a majority of those present were female . . . and excited. The cat calls began as soon as the theater went dark. Then the movie began and Matthew McConaughey launches into the “rules” of the club. Of course the whole time he’s just building suspense . . . not just for the ladies in the club, but also for everyone in our theater. Then, just as McConaughey finishes up and gives the guys their cue to come out on stage . . . director Steven Soderbergh cuts and sends us to another point in time; effectively setting up an elaborate tease if you will judging from the many audible “WTFs” heard in the theater. It was at that moment I knew the film had me.
Despite any preconceived notions you have about a film about male strippers, Magic Mike is a really fun movie that can be enjoyed by anyone, females AND males alike. Yes, there are men removing clothes in the film, but that–like the jobs the men have in the film, are just for show. There’s also a lot of humor as well in the film and a lot of honesty to go with it.
In any other hands a film like this could have degraded into a “that male stripper movie” type of reference. In the hands of a director like Steven Soderbergh though, he manages to elevate it into something more than what you’d expect. While there is a loose story framework of a veteran male stripper (Channing Tatum) taking on a new up and coming kid (Alex Pettyfer), the film stands as more of a character study of these men and the world they live in more than anything–which is why I think the film really works. It’s not just hear to show off good looking men, it’s here to explore this world.
Hey, male strippers are people too.
Rating – 4 stars
For my thoughts on Prometheus, check out the full review here.