Saturday, December 29, 2012

Hugo (2011) review


It's good seeing something new from Scorsese, especially this quirky, inspiring fairy tale on cinema, but it isn't the best he's ever done.

PLOT:Hugo Cabret (Asa Butterfield) is a young orphan who lives in a Parisan train station's clock tower because his father died in a fire. The only thing his father left him was an old automaton which needed fixing. Hugo has been stealing parts from a toy merchant to use, but this time the merchant (Ben Kingsley) finally catches him and steals his book of automaton design. Hugo follows him home, begging the merchant not to burn it, and meets his "granddaugher", Isabelle (Chloe Moretz), who teams up with him to save his book and fix the automaton. What they don't know, however, is that they're about to get into a mysterious adventure. It's a great plot executed wonderfully.

ACTING:The acting in this was pretty good overall. Asa Butterfield played a suprisingly good part as the lead child, Hugo. Chloe Moretz also played off of him rather well as Isabelle. The best role was probably Ben Kingsley as Georges, the merchant. The other shiners were Sacha Baron Cohen as the Station Inspector, Jude Law as Hugo's father, and Christopher Lee as Monsieur Labisse.

SCORE:The score was very intense and inspiring by Howard Shore. It really went with the film.

EFFECTS:The effects in here for the most part weren't the best to me. The CG effects looked rather cheap and too fake to me. The effects used for the clock and the old films showed in this were pretty great though.

OTHER CONTENT:This film was a pretty fantastic addition to Scorsese's resume, but it did have some problems. Aside from the British accents in the Parisan town, this film didn't have a real solid plotline and didn't show as much honor to the director as his other works. The plotline can't settle on exactly what it's trying to convey, but its execution more than somewhat makes up for that. However, it still remains a tad to quirky. Also, Martin Scorsese is a brilliant director, but this film just doesn't seem to match up to what he's done in the past. Aside from these minor flaws, this film was very fun, interesting, and a great honor to the magic of film in its pure form.

OVERALL,a great film with a wonderful plot, pretty good acting, inspiring score, cheap CG effects but good other effects, and a great honor to pure film, but the plotline seems a bit messy and it doesn't seem to add up to what Scorsese can do.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Mixed Nuts (1994) review


The reason I didn't hate this as much as I should've was probably because I was watching it with a friend, but it still wasn't too bad. There were a good bit of parts it was very funny.

PLOT:It's Christmastime and things are going screwy in this California setting. Philip (Steve Martin) is the manager of a company named Lifesavers, which is a dedicated suicide hotline. Working with Philip is Blanche Munchnik (Madeline Kahn) and Catherine (Rita Wilson). Things are running pretty smooth around Lifesavers until the landlord (Gary Shandling) gives Philip the eviction notice of their company. Philip must keep it a secret from his co-workers while still dealing with his many calls, including the pregnant and stressed-out Gracie Barzini (Juliette Lewis) and the cross-dressing Mr. Lobel (Robert Klein). It's an ok plot executed almost decently.

ACTING:The performances in here were okay. Steve Martin played a pretty good part as the stressed and depressed Philip. Rita Wilson played a pretty decent part as Catherine and Madeline Kahn played a good part as Mrs. Munchnik until the near-end of the movie. Adam Sandler played in this as the delivery boy, Louie, but he actually isn't as bad as most of his roles. Maybe it's because this one isn't a leading role. The other shiners, so to speak, were Juliette Lewis as Gracie Barzini, Robert Klein as Mr. Lobel, Anthony LaPagilia as Felix, Gary Shandling as Stanley Tannenbaum, Rob Reiner as Dr. Kinsky, and Jon Stewart as one of the tree carriers. However, none of the roles except for the first three were really good at all.

SCORE:The score was made up of mainly Christmas music, so it wasn't too bad.

OTHER CONTENT:I didn't hate this as much as I expected to because I had a friend pointing and laughing at certain things, plus it did have some hilarious parts. Overall, though, most of the jokes and plot twists fell flat.

OVERALL,an ok movie with a near-decent plot, okay acting, Chrsitmas score, and some hilarious parts, but most of it just fell flat.

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012) review


This return to Middle-Earth was not only refreshing, but also spectacular overall as a movie. However, it's pacing and tonal shifts steal the majesty away from it.

PLOT:Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman) is a hobbit that lives in a small house and usually keeps to himself. However, the great wizard, Gandalf (Ian McKellen), knocks on his door and invites him to go on a great adventure. He, being himself, turns it down. However, Bilbo is bombarded that night by dwarves needing a hand in their journey of recapturing their old kingdom lost years ago to a dragon. After much consideration, Bilbo accepts and they set on to travel to the kingdom. There are many evils that face them along the way though, so it'll be a rough journey. It's a great plot executed brilliantly for the most part.

ACTING:The perfromances in here are fantastic. Martin Freeman plays a great part as the young and wary Bilbo Baggins, as does Ian McKellen as a fantastic Gandalf. The best performances aside from them would be Richard Armitage as the powerful Thorin, Andy Serkis as the mysterious Gollum, Christopher Lee as Saruman, Cate Blanchett as Galadriel, Hugo Weaving as Elrond, Sylvester McCoy as Radagast, Barry Humphries as the Goblin King, and all of the other dwarves with a cool cameo by Elijah Wood as Frodo. There really wasn't a bad performance in the bunch. Everyone did a great job.

SCORE:The score was amazing. The themes were epic and very well-composed by Howard Shore with a haunting song by Richard Armitage and the other dwarves. I really liked it.

EFFECTS:I'd say at least over half of this film was done with special effects. The computerized effects for the trolls, goblins, Gollum, animals, spiders, orcs, and all the rest were dazzling and pleasing to the eye. The make-up effects were pretty awesome too, for Bilbo, the wizards, and the dwarves.

OTHER CONTENT:This trip back to Middle-Earth was definitely pleasing to fans of the franchise, whether of the book or the films. Everything was executed to the best degree and done with epic movie magic that would make you want to see the next installment. However, Peter Jackson has a knack for stretching a film out way longer than it needs to be. The slow pacing in this film takes away from a lot of the majesty it earns as being a great film. What runs through his mind to stretch it out so much, I can't tell, but it makes him money. Also, it was a little uneven to me in some parts. One minute it's epic and dramatic and the next it's easy-going and funny. I felt a great unevenness in some parts and it also stole from the film's greatness. Overall, though, it's still an epic addition to the LOTR franchise.

OVERALL,a great film with a brilliantly-executed plot, fantastic performances, amazing score, dazzling effects, and a great bit of movie magic, but the pacing was too slow and in some parts I found it to be uneven.

Remember the Titans (2000) review


Though I'm not the biggest fan of football movies, this one was pretty well done. It was inspirational, true to the time, and even.

PLOT:In 1971 Virginia, three high schools are forced to integrate with one being black and the other two being white. The football coaches of two of the schools, long-time favorite, Coach Yoats (Will Patton), and new-comer, Coach Boone (Denzel Washington) agree to try and combine their teams and integrate their players to form the almighty Titans. It's not easy, however; the players constantly fight each other and the town's racist mind's often interfere. However, they can pull through with a loving heart and a strong mind. It's a good plot executed fairly well.

ACTING:The performances in here were great. Denzel Washington played the best of them as the wise and forceful Coach Boone. Will Patton also played a pretty decent part as Coach Yoates. In some places, I could see where he could've done better, but he did well overall. The other shiners were Ryan Hurst as Gerry Bertier, Craig Kirkwood as The Rev, Kip Pardue as Sunshine, Donald Faison as Petey, Wood Harris as Julius, and Hayden Pentierre as Sheryl Yoast.

SCORE:The score was mainly songs from the time period mixed withe some inspirational themes. It wasn't too bad.

OTHER CONTENT:I thought this was just going to be another cheesy inspirational movie, but I was proved wrong. This was a little cheesy and inspirational, but it did everything right. It balanced the humor and drama with the performances evenly to tell the story true to the time period. I appreciate how accurate (from what I've studied) they depicted the time. Though this still was cheesy in places as well as predictable, it played its cards right and remained fairly even throughout.

OVERALL,a good movie with a good plot, great acting, alright score, even tonal balances, accuracy to the time, and lots of inspiration, but it was still a bit cheesy and predictable.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Everybody's Fine (2009) review


Besides the performance by Robert De Niro, there's nothing really memorable about this movie. It's not bad, but there's just nothing significant about it.

PLOT:Frank (Robert De Niro) is the father of four kids: Amy (Kate Beckinsale), Rosie (Drew Barrymore), Robert (Sam Rockwell), and David. Each one has grown up, moved on, and seemingly hit it big somewhere. When the mother of the family dies, Frank tries to bring everybody together this holiday season like it used to be, but everybody seems busy. However, Frank decides to see them anyway by packing up on a cross-country trip to see each one, but it's not all peaceful among them. Each has their set of problems, especially David, who's apparently vanished off the face of the Earth. Will his kids reunite with him truthfully and reveal their secrets? It's a great plot executed pretty blandly.

ACTING:Robert De Niro was almost the saving grace of this movie. He played a nice, calm, heartfelt role as the old father, Frank. He played the role the best that he could based on what he was given. The other shiners were Drew Barrymore as Rosie, Kate Beckinsale as Amy, and Sam Rockwell as Robert. They went with the flow of the movie, but they weren't horrible.

SCORE:The score was mainly composed of some random, mood-fitting songs of alternative and classic pop. It was pretty cool.

OTHER CONTENT:This movie could have been so much better than it really was, but it just fell flat. The writers of the story and script didn't add enough moments of interest so it felt as if nothing happened for most of the movie. The humor and dramatic moments also felt out-of-place since they only came around a few times; it seemed uneven. They could have taken this idea and skyrocketed it with a more eventful and even plot, but they lived on a careful performance by De Niro and didn't try to make this one break the formula. However, it's not terrible. There isn't a lot of bad aspects to it; it's just bland.

OVERALL,a mediocre movie with a blandly-executed plot, decent acting, cool soundtrack, uneventfulness, uneven plot twists, and a bland formula, but it's not a terrible movie.

Monday, December 10, 2012

E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial (1982) review


This timeless family classic has lived in the hearts of many movie-goers over the years with its touching sentimentality and iconic film moments.

PLOT:Young Elliot (Henry Thomas) lives in a normal neighborhood with a mean older brother named Michael (Robert McNaughton), an adorable little sister named Gertie (Drew Barrymore), and his mother Mary (Dee Wallace). They have just been through a separation and have been recovering when Elliot discovers something in his backyard: an alien. Elliot finds a short, chubby, brown, homesick alien in his backyard and decides to take it in to raise it, letting only his siblings know. However, E.T. misses his home and has to make contact soon or die. It's a good plot executed pretty well.

ACTING:The acting was pretty good overall, but iffy in some places. Henry Thomas played a decent part as the lead, Elliot. He had his moments of good and bad. Drew Barrymore played a cute part as the little Gertie, but served no more a purpose than a charm of the film. The other shiners would be Robert McNaughton as Michael, Dee Wallace as Mary, Peter Coyote as Keys, and Debra Winger as the voice of E.T.

SCORE:The score is one of the best and most memorable parts about the film. John Williams does a great job composing a symphony of soundtrack for the film. The theme here is curious, triumphant, and just memorable all over. I loved it.

EFFECTS:The effects were pretty good for its time. E.T. was animated for the most part with puppetry and some computer graphics. They did a good job of making his movements fun and simple. The effects of the spaceship was pretty well done in computers, but nothing too spectacular.

OTHER CONTENT:I used to hate this film for the longest time because I thought it was just boring and cheesy, but I eventually gave it a re-watch and rethought my opinion. The film is touchingly simple with enough overwhelming charm to win over a high score. However, this film still does maintain a few of the same flaws it did with me. It's very cheesy and has a few slow moments, even for the '80s. However, it's still overall a very touching film for everyone to enjoy.

OVERALL,a great '80s sci-fi with a pretty good plot, decent acting, memorable score, good effects for the time being, simplicity, and lots of charm, but it was kind of cheesy and slow at times.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Santa Claus Is Comin' to Town (1970) review


This has always been my very favorite of the Rankin-Bass Christmas specials for its sentimentality and entertaining story.

PLOT:It's Christmastime again, and the children have started sending their letters to Santa. The local mailman (Fred Astaire) sees these letters every year and decides to tell the story of Santa Claus. Discovered by toy-making elves, Kris Kringle (Mickey Rooney) is raised with a determination to take the toys over the dangerous mountain, guarded by the evil Winter Warlock (Keenan Wynn), to deliver to the children of Sombertown. However, mayor Burgermeister (Paul H. Frees) has banned toys from the town due to an injury induced by one. Kris comes to town and learns that he has to distribute the toys in secret. This tale eventually develops into the complete backstory of Santa Claus. It's a good plot executed charmingly.

VOICES:The voices in here are decent for the most part. Mickey Rooney plays an awesome Santa Claus/Kris Kringle. Fred Astaire played a charming part as the narrator as well. The other shiners would be Keenan Wynn as the Winter Warlock, Paul H. Frees as Burgermeister Meisterburger, and Joan Gardener as Miss Jessica. The minor character voicing was the pretty sucky part of the voicing.

SCORE:The soundtrack of songs are pretty dated, but very fun to hear. Such original songs like "The First Toymakers to the King" and "Put One Foot in Front of the Other" are just catchy and fun altogether.

ANIMATION:In today's times, the animation would be pretty bad, but for the time it was made, the animation was pretty good. Even now it's still very nostalgic and unique. Everyone remembers it for how it is.

OTHER CONTENT:This Christmas special runs mainly off charm and cuteness, but it's also nostalgic, heart-warming, and full of good storytelling. This has the power to warm the heart of every Christmas-loving family that has seen it. However, the fact that it makes its base off of cuteness and charm doesn't make up for the missing holiday substance.

OVERALL,it's a great Christmas special with a good plot, decent voice acting, fun soundtrack, nostalgic animation, cuteness, charm, the power to warm a family's heart, and good storytelling, but the minor character voices are pretty bad and the fuel of the special can't make up for what it's missing.