Archive for Emily Blunt

The Huntsman: Winter’s War

Posted in Action/Adventure, Movie Reviews, Sci-Fi/Fantasy with tags , , , , , , , , , on February 25, 2017 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

Freya the Ice Queen (Emily Blunt) brings her sister Ravenna (Charlize Theron) back to life, and the powerful evil siblings plan to conquer the Enchanted Forest. Only the Huntsman (Chris Hemsworth) and his secret lover Sara (Jessica Chastain) can stop them in this sequel continuing the inventive twist on the Snow White fable.

What people are saying:

The Huntsman: Winter’s War is visually arresting and boasts a stellar cast, but neither are enough to recommend this entirely unnecessary sequel” 2.5 stars

“When people gripe about Hollywood’s reliance on sequels and cheap franchise cash-ins, this is the kind of movie they mean: no Grimm’s Fairy Tale, but a grim tale nonetheless.” 2 stars

“Visually beautiful with all kinds of now-typical fantasy action, “The Huntsman” is that pretty but dumb date we all wanted, but knew wouldn’t be good for very long. I enjoyed it for what it was, and truly the visual effects are stunning and creative, but the plot was paper-thin (even as the writers tried to contrive a complicated story by pushing a lot of plot lines in quick sequence).” 3 stars

“If you can get past Chris Hemsworths terrible Scottish accent this is a lot better than the Snow White film. I suspect that’s mainly down to the lack of the abysmal Kristen Stewart. This is quite fun and pretty to look at (I’m including Mr Hemsworth in that), and Sheridan Smith, Nick Frost and Rob Bryden add some much needed comedy element! ” 3 stars

“The Huntsman: Winter’s War is an unnecessary sequel that wastes its talented cast. Why did these actors do this movie? They are all better than this. Chris Hemsworth and Jessica Chastain are only in this for the paycheck. Emily Blunt and Charlize Theron overdo it as the villains. Thankfully, Theron camps it up with her performance, making her performance the most fun to watch. Unfortunately, there isn’t any emotional attachment to these characters. You just don’t care about them. The plot is generic and boring. The script is terrible. They try to do humor in this film, and it fails miserably. The action is fine, but it just isn’t exciting. Overall, there really isn’t any point to this movie. These excellent actors are trapped in a movie with a lazy script and dull action.” 1 1/2 stars

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Edge of Tomorrow

Posted in Action/Adventure, Movie Reviews, Sci-Fi/Fantasy with tags , , , , , , , , , , on April 8, 2015 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

A race of aliens called Mimics has taken over continental Europe. General Brigham, head of humanity’s United Defense Force, orders Major William Cage, a public affairs officer and former advertising executive, to cover combat on the beaches of France during the next day’s assault on the Mimics. Cage objects to the dangerous assignment and threatens to use his public relations skills to turn the public against Brigham when the casualties start increasing from the invasion. General Brigham has Cage arrested; Cage is knocked out during an ensuing escape attempt. He wakes in handcuffs at a forward operating base at Heathrow Airport and discovers he has been labeled a deserter and put on combat duty for the invasion under the command of Master Sergeant Farell.

The invasion is a disaster for the humans. Cage manages to kill a large Mimic but dies as he is sprayed with its acid-like blood. He then wakes up at Heathrow the previous morning. No one believes his story that he knows the invasion will fail. He repeats the loop of dying on the beach and waking at Heathrow until he encounters Sergeant Rita Vrataski (Emily Blunt). She recognizes his ability to anticipate events and tells him to locate her the next time he “wakes up”.

Together, Cage and Vrataski meet up with Dr. Carter, a former government scientist and expert in Mimic biology. Cage learns that the kind of Mimic he killed in his first loop, an “Alpha”, resets time when it is killed to give the Mimics an advantage in battle. Cage inherited this ability when he was doused in the Alpha’s blood as they both died. Vrataski had gained this ability in a recent battle but lost it after receiving a blood transfusion. She tells Cage that they must hunt the Mimics’ hive mind, the Omega.

Over innumerable successive time loops, Vrataski molds Cage into a far more effective soldier. Frustrated by his continued failures, though, he retreats to a London pub, only to discover the Mimics will overrun the city after their invasion on the beach. He and Vrataski then spend several loops learning how to survive the battle on the beach and get inland based on his vision of the Omega hiding within a Bavarian Alps dam. After numerous loops end in Vrataski’s death, Cage decides to hunt the Omega alone, abandoning her and the rest of the invasion to doom on the beach. When he arrives at the dam, he discovers that the Omega is not there. He manages to kill himself before an Alpha can steal his blood and prevent him from resetting the day. Back at Heathrow, he tells Vrataski and Carter that his vision was a trick.

Cage and Vrataski adopt a new approach: they infiltrate the Ministry of Defence in search of a prototype built by Carter that will allow Cage to discover the Omega’s true location. After several failed loops they obtain the device, which reveals that the Omega is located under the Louvre Pyramid in Paris. They are injured as they flee; Cage is saved by a blood transfusion, but it removes his ability to reset the day.

Vrataski frees Cage and they return to Heathrow, where they convince his squad to help destroy the Omega. The other squad members sacrifice themselves to get Cage and Vrataski beneath the Louvre. Vrataski distracts a waiting Alpha while Cage advances on the Omega. The Alpha kills Vrataski and mortally wounds Cage, but not before Cage primes and drops a grenade belt into the Omega’s core, destroying it, which neutralizes all other Mimics.

Cage’s dying body floats down into a rising cloud of the Omega’s blood. Regaining the power to reset himself, Cage wakes up en route to his meeting with Brigham the day before. Brigham announces that Mimic activity has ceased following a power surge in Paris. With the events leading to his arrest never happening, Cage travels to Heathrow on his own, retaining his original officer rank. None of his former squad mates recognize him. He finds Vrataski, who greets him with the same initial rudeness as previous loops, causing Cage to smile.

REVIEW:

Tom Cruise is back and this time he has a mech suit! That’s right, people, the insane scientologist dares to make use believe he is still a bona fide action star. Following his string of successful action flick, this is a perfect choice, right? Well, let’s see.

What is this about?

As Earth fights an alien invasion, Lt. Col. Bill Cage is killed in action, and a time loop forces him to continually relive his last day. With each iteration, Cage’s skill grows, as does his understanding of the enemy and how it operates.

What did I like?

Pacing. In most pictures like this, we get an action scene early on, then it is just uninteresting subplot, exposition, and forced love story to pad out the running time until the climactic 2nd action scene, which is shortly followed by the end credits. This director obviously took notes on that formula, because the pacing in this film is very fast paced. Just as it starts to slow down… *BAM!* We are back in the thick of things. For someone who has to be in the mood for slow paced films, this has to be a plus!

Blunt object. Emily Blunt gives me strange feelings. That sounded weird, I better explain. No doubt she’s a great actress and, while not bad looking (looks like she got ripped for this role), there is something about that vacant stare of hers that puts me off. That being said, she kicks ass in this film, and she’s not even in the film that much!

Groundhog. Everyone has seen, or at least knows about the movie Groundhog Day. In some respects, this film is very similar in that the main character keeps repeating the same day over and over again, just under different circumstances. It is nice to see a new spin on this tired cliché, I must say.

What didn’t I like?

Creatures. Normally, I’m all for seeing creatures in sci-fi films. It fascinates me to see the magic and madness that can come from someone’s mind. With that said, I don’t see the originality. The “Mimics” as they are called are very similar to the creatures in The Matrix: Revolutions. Of all the films to rip off from, why that one?!? Surely, there had to be something better that could be used as an evil creature in this film, right?

Mech. I have never really been a fan of mech suits. In concept and animation they work just fine, but when it comes to execution, the things are just slow and clunky. Basically, you’re sacrificing speed and agility for firepower. Is it worth it? Only for some, but does you entire fighting force need them? No!

Training Day. I’m not sure how many times we were going to have see Tom Cruise go through that training montage. Wasn’t once or twice enough? I just didn’t get the need to keep showing the same thing over and over again. The whole point of him going back was to learn and change things the next time. It was just frustrating that they went the lazy route of cut and paste, I suppose.

Final verdict on Edge of Tomorrow? It’s a big budget, sci-fi action flick that plays it safe. It doesn’t try to give the audience too many subplots, nor does it insult our intelligence. The creatures, which are obviously CG, have an almost practical effect to them. No love story is forced down our throats. As a matter of fact, it is barely hinted, save for a couple of places. So, do I recommend this flick? Eh, it isn’t great, but you could do a whole lot worse. Give it a go, I suppose!

3 1/2 out of 5 stars

The Young Victoria

Posted in Drama, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , on September 1, 2013 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Princess Victoria of Kent is the heiress presumptive to the throne during the last years of the reign of her uncle King William IV. She is brought up under a strict set of rules devised by her mother (her father having died when Victoria was a baby), the Duchess of Kent and comptroller of the Duchess’s household, Sir John Conroy, who calls it the “Kensington System.” Conroy hopes that William IV will die while Victoria is still a minor, thus the Duchess would be appointed Regent, and he would be the power behind the throne through his considerable control of the Duchess. Victoria grows rebellious and resentful of her mother and Conroy’s oppressive control of her every move. During an illness, her mother and Conroy attempt to force Victoria to sign papers that would make Conroy her personal secretary upon her majority. Although weak and ill, Victoria is strong enough to vehemently refuse this ploy, throwing the papers on the floor.

Her uncle King Leopold I of Belgium wishes to use his influence through family ties to secure an alliance between Britain and Belgium. He realizes his sister, the Duchess, exerts little influence over Victoria and decides to have his nephew Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha seduce Victoria. Albert is trained by Baron Stockmar to learn Victoria’s interests, including her favorite novels, music and opera. The Duchess invites the Coburg brothers, Albert and Prince Ernest of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha to visit the household. Victoria and Albert develop an early fondness for each other, despite Victoria knowing that Albert was sent by her uncle to win her favours. They begin writing to one another after Albert has returned home.

To maintain control over Victoria, Conroy and the Duchess keep her away from the King’s court, and are unhappy when she insists on attending the King’s birthday reception. At the reception in Windsor Castle, the King, stating his wish to be closer to Victoria, insults her mother in public twice. The King increases Victoria’s income but this is rejected by Conroy, who physically subdues her in front of her mother, heightening the animosity between them. The King is outraged and sends the Whig Prime Minister Lord Melbourne to advise her. Victoria agrees to appoint Lord Melbourne as her private secretary, and he appoints her ladies-in-waiting, including the Duchess of Sutherland.

King William dies after Victoria’s 18th birthday, avoiding a regency. After accession, Victoria immediately begins to exert her independence, including moving into her own room and banishing Conroy from her household and coronation. During her first meeting with the Privy Council, she announces, “I am young, but I am willing to learn. And I mean to devote my life in service of my country and my people. I look for your help in this.” Victoria moves into the recently completed Buckingham Palace. The Queen Dowager, Queen Adelaide advises Victoria against accepting all of Lord Melbourne’s proposed ladies-in-waiting, but he persists. Lord Melbourne and Albert begin a battle for influence over Victoria. Albert goes to England to spend more time with Victoria. They bond further, dancing during her coronation and Albert hints at going further with their relationship but Victoria resists.

Lord Melbourne loses a vote in Parliament, leading Victoria to invite Sir Robert Peel of the Tories to form a new government. Victoria refuses to allow Peel to replace her ladies-in-waiting, who are allies of Lord Melbourne. Peel in turn refuses the queen’s invitation, allowing Melbourne to continue as prime minister. The subsequent crisis damages Victoria’s popularity, leading to demonstrations outside the palace and insults hurled at her in public. The loneliness during the turbulence draws Victoria closer to Albert through their letters. She invites Albert to England and proposes marriage.

Victoria and Albert have a loving marriage, but Albert is frustrated at his initial powerlessness in the household. Queen Adelaide advises Victoria to allow Albert to take on more duties, which he does. He reorganises the running of the royal household and dismisses Conroy for mishandling funds. He also becomes Victoria’s primary adviser, rejecting the influences of Lord Melbourne and King Leopold. He overreaches when he goes over Victoria’s head in a matter with parliamentary politics, leading to a fierce argument between the two. One morning, while riding in a carriage together, Victoria is fired upon by a would-be assassin. Albert shields her, and his bravery leads to their reconciliation.

The final title card explains that Victoria and Albert had nine children. Their descendants are the royal families of Britain, Spain, Sweden, Norway, Yugoslavia, Russia, Greece, Romania and Germany. They reigned together for 20 years. Albert died from typhoid fever at age 42. In memory of him, Victoria had his clothes laid out every day until her death at the age of 81. Victoria and Albert championed reforms in education, welfare and industry. They also supported arts and sciences that were celebrated in the Great Exhibition of 1851. Victoria remains the longet reigning British monarch to date.

REVIEW:

Certain people in this house love lavish costumes, not to mention all things British, so The Young Victoria was sure to be a crowd pleaser, at least in some ways. I was hopeful that the film itself would be worth watching, like other similar pieces such as The Duchess and The Queen, but I’m not s sure this one lived up to my expectations.

What is this about?

Eighteen-year-old British royal Victoria ascends to the throne and is romanced by future husband Prince Albert in this lush period film that chronicles the early years of the British monarch’s larger-than-life reign.

What did I like?

Blunt. It must be the fantasy of British actresses to get dressed up and play royalty, because they all seem to bend over backwards to do it. I wasn’t so sure what I would think of Blunt as a “serious” actress, but she actually did a pretty good job as the headstrong titular character of Victoria. I’m a little biased against this role for her, though, as I think this is what she turned down Black Widow in Iron Man 2 for, but don’t quote me.

Costumes. Period pieces are almost always going to be noticed for their lavish outfits, and this is no exception. I don’t know how authentic they were, but I was impressed. There is just something eye-catching about the dresses from back then, and I’m not talking (just) about the cleavage.

What didn’t I like?

What just happened? As I sat here watching this picture, I noticed that it was already nearly over and I really wasn’t sure what just happened over the last hour and a half. Some movies you can lose yourself in and they’re over before you know it, but this one just dragged on, I suppose just wanted to keep going with its drama, exposition, and I believe there was a love story in there, too.

No boys allowed. It really seems like this film veered more toward the female audience. Everything about this picture screams female empowerment, and that is fine. Seeing as how I’m a guy, though, this isn’t really the film for me, and the lack of anything interesting happening throughout the films made it even nearly unbearable.

Bland. Maybe it is just me, but I expected something more from the relationship between Victoria and Albert. There was no real passion that I could see between them. They weren’t devoid of emotion, just not convincing until the film’s final scenes when they have an argument.

Each week, when I’m contemplating what to move up in my Netflix queue, The Young Victoria comes up. I should be asking myself, was it worth the wait, but the truth is that is wasn’t. For me, this was a rather dull, drawn out drama. There is an audience for this kind of thing, but I’m not part of it. So, if you want to give it a shot, go ahead, just be ready to fall asleep after the first 5-10 minutes or so.

3 out of 5 stars

Looper

Posted in Action/Adventure, Movie Reviews, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Thrillers/Mystery with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 9, 2013 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

In the year 2044, 25-year-old Joseph Simmons (Gordon-Levitt), works for a mafia company in Kansas City as a “looper”. Led by a man sent from the future named Abe (Daniels), loopers kill and dispose of victims sent back in time from 2074, and are paid by employers with bars of silver attached to the target. Additionally, when a looper is retired, the looper’s future self is sent back in time exactly thirty years as a routine target, but with a gold bar payment; this event is referred to as “closing the loop”, and, similarly to routine hits, carries serious consequences if not carried out.

One night, Seth (Dano), Joe’s friend and a fellow looper, visits him in a panic; on the verge of closing his own loop, Seth’s future self (Brennan) warned him of a mysterious character called the Rainmaker, who overran the future crime bosses and was retiring all of the loopers’ contracts in 2074, resulting in numerous premature looper deaths. Hesitating, Seth unintentionally allowed his future self to escape, and is being hunted by his employers for failing to close his own loop. Joe hides Seth in his apartment and is taken to Abe; under threat of losing half of all his silver, Joe reluctantly tells Abe where he hid Seth. Mutilating the young version of Seth, Abe scares the future Seth into returning by violently damaging his past self’s body; upon returning, however, the future Seth is killed to close his loop.

When Joe closes his own loop, he shoots his older self (Willis) without hesitation, as his head is sacked and is therefore initially unidentifiable. He retires to Shanghai, China where he later falls in love and marries. After his 30 years pass, Joe is taken from his home to be sent back to 2044 to close the loop, only for his wife to be accidentally killed in the process. Fighting and killing his captors as a result, Joe returns to 2044 unmasked and unbound, allowing him to surprise his younger self and avoid death. Later meeting his younger self, old Joe explains he still returned to 2044 to kill the Rainmaker as a child. Young Joe, still trying to close his loop, ends up in a struggle trying to kill old Joe. Stealing a map containing coordinates and a code from old Joe, young Joe then flees when Kid Blue (Segan) and Abe’s men appear with the intent to kill them.

Young Joe, following the map, reaches a farm house owned by Sara (Blunt) and her son Cid (Gagnon). When Joe shows Sara the map, Sara recognizes the code as Cid’s birthday along with the zip code of the hospital he was born in, prompting Joe to discover old Joe is going to kill the three children that could become the Rainmaker. Joe then decides to wait at the farm for the arrival of his older self, and becomes close to Sara. Joe soon learns that Sara is a telekinetic, and that Cid was raised by Sara’s sister for most of his life until she was accidentally killed by Cid. One morning, they are attacked by one of Abe’s thugs named Jesse (Dillahunt), who is killed when Cid falls into a rage and lets out a large telekinetic blast. Cid’s extraordinary telekinetic powers – which are far more powerful than any other mutant’s – cause Joe to realize that he is the Rainmaker; however, the realization radically changes old Joe’s memories, tipping him off that Cid is the Rainmaker. Before old Joe can act, however, Kid Blue captures him.

Escaping capture, old Joe kills Abe and his gang, and heads for Sara’s house. Kid Blue, reaching the farm, is fought and killed by young Joe; concurrently, old Joe pursues Sara and Cid into the farm cane fields where he maims Cid, resulting in Cid causing a telekinetic blast. Before Cid can kill old Joe, Sara calms and reassures him to stop his telekinetic rage; then telling Cid to run, Sara stands in old Joe’s path to stop him shooting Cid. Young Joe realizes that his older self will shoot Sara and enrage Cid, perpetuating the creation of the Rainmaker rather than preventing it. Unable to stop his older self, and knowing it’s his last chance to stop the Rainmaker, young Joe instead shoots himself; by doing so, he erases his future self through suicide, saving Sara and potentially preventing Cid from becoming the Rainmaker.

REVIEW:

In the future, are we destined to become so violent a society that we send people back in time to be killed, including ourselves? This is a question that was going through the back of my head as I was watching Looper.

What is this about?

In the year 2042, Joe (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is a Looper, a hired assassin for the mob who kills people sent from the future. But what will he do when the mob decides to “close the loop,” sending back Joe’s future self (Bruce Willis) for assassination?

What did I like?

Future. Truthfully, I don’t believe this would have worked in modern-day. We all know that if they would have thrown that time travel thing in there, someone would be screaming how unrealistic it is and all that junk. The future setting works and allows the film room to breathe and get creative, which I really liked. It shows that someone out there in Hollywood still has a functioning imagination, rather than just the ability to steal something from a book or in the past.

Make-up. No one is going to accuse Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Bruce Willis of having anything to do with each other, but the make-up artists here do as good a job of making Willis looks like an older version of Gordon-Levitt, and vice versa. The two men also have to use their actual acting talent by taking over certain mannerisms of each other, in an attempt to make their performances believable. For me, it worked, but for some other, it may not come off as believable.

Plot. The idea that mafia level assassins in the future are using time travel to send their targets back in time to be killed is an interesting one to me and I can’t really tell you why. I guess it is just because of the way they do it and the whole “closing the loop”. I’m curious why they use something as crude as a blunderbuss to off their targets.

Time travel. If you’ve seen any time travel movie, read any book about the subject, or what have you, then you know trying to keep up with all the rules, what a person can and cannot do, etc. is maddening. Willis covers this in his meeting with Gordon-Levitt at the diner. Let me just say that the diner reminds me of another Willis film where he met his younger (and older) self, The Kid. Anyway, it initially seems like Willis is brushing the question off, which he is, but he is really making sure that this film doesn’t become one about time travel, but rather the characters.

What didn’t I like?

Divergent. At a point fairly on, the film does some kind of switching timelines where the Joe we have been watching since the film started becomes old Joe, the other old Joe is killed, and we get a new young Joe. For the purposes of this film, I guess it works, but this is a cerebral film and one would think we have enough to think about other than divergent timelines and figuring out who’s who.

Kid. About halfway through the film, we switch from focusing on the loopers, to a sob story from old Joe and how he has to stop the Rainmaker because he killed his wife. First off, that little boy didn’t resonate with me and I almost wished Willis had killed him. Second, what was the point of casting Emily Blunt in the role of the mother and having her slum it out there on the farm. If this was an Oscar contender flick, I’d say alright, but let’s face it, that isn’t what this is. They could have either found another actress better suited for this role, or put her in setting better suited for her talents. Finally, I feel like the film wanted to get a little deeper into the whole telekinetic mutation that this kid has, especially since it is so strong with him, but doesn’t, either because of time or for fear that it’ll veer off into X-Men territory.

Length. I kind of get the feeling that they could have shaved a good 10-15 minutes out of this and it wouldn’t have hurt it all. As a matter of fact, it may very well have made it a better picture. To me, it felt like they were dragging things out for no real good reason. I appreciate the attempt to flesh out some characters and all that, but when it is obvious the film is coming to an end, just let it end.

I really did like Looper. Many people had this as one of the top films of 2012 and someone even had it at #1! For me, it wasn’t that great, but I can see why everyone went ga-ga over this picture. It isn’t very often we get a good, original, sci-fi thriller and the twist at the end is one that you really won’t expect. Give this one a shot!

4 out of 5 stars

The Adjustment Bureau

Posted in Action/Adventure, Movie Reviews, Sci-Fi/Fantasy with tags , , , , , , , , on January 29, 2012 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

In 2006, Congressman David Norris runs a promising but unsuccessful campaign for United States Senate. While rehearsing his concession speech in a hotel bathroom, Norris meets a woman hiding in a stall. The two share a pleasant conversation, ultimately leading to a kiss. Inspired, Norris delivers a candid speech that is well-received, making him a favorite for the 2010 Senate race.

Some months later, Norris is preparing to start his first day at a new job. At a park near Norris’s house, Harry Mitchell receives an assignment from Richardson, his boss: ensure Norris spills his coffee by 7:05 AM; shortly thereafter Mitchell falls asleep while waiting and misses Norris, who boards his bus. He encounters Elise, the woman from the bathroom, who writes down her phone number on a card and gives it to Norris. When Norris arrives at work, he finds his boss and campaign manager, Charlie Traynor, in suspended animation and is being examined by unfamiliar men in suits. David attempts to escape and the men give chase. Norris is incapacitated and taken to a warehouse to meet Richardson and his men.

Richardson explains he and his men are from the Adjustment Bureau. The job of the Bureau’s “caseworkers” is to ensure people’s lives proceed as determined by “the plan”, a complex document Richardson attributes to “the Chairman”.[7][8] Charlie is fine and will not remember his adjustment, and Norris is warned that if he talks about the Bureau he will be “reset”—akin to being lobotomized. Richardson informs David that he is not meant to meet Elise again. He burns the card containing her phone number and tells David to forget her.

For the next three years David rides the same bus downtown, hoping to see Elise. He finally encounters her and they reconnect. The Bureau tries to stop him from building his relationship with her by causing their schedules to separate them again. David races across town, fighting the Bureau’s abilities to “control his choices” to ensure he will meet Elise. During the chase the Bureau uses ordinary doorways to travel instantly to locations many blocks away.

Richardson discovers that David and Elise “were meant to be together in an earlier version of the plan”, and Harry speculates on whether or not the plan is always correct. David and Elise spend an evening at a party, connecting when David tells her he became a politician after the loss of his mother and brother. They spend the night together, cementing their bond the next morning.

The Bureau has Thompson take authority regarding David’s adjustment. He takes Norris to a warehouse, where David argues he has the right to choose his own path. Thompson says that they gave humanity free will after the height of the Roman Empire, but humanity then brought the Dark Ages down upon itself. The Bureau took control again and created the Renaissance and the Enlightenment. When free will was returned around 1910 it resulted in two world wars and the near destruction of the planet with a nuclear conflict. Thompson releases him, and he runs to Elise’s performance at her dance studio. Thompson follows, and tells him that if he stays with Elise, he will ruin his political future as President of the United States and also ruin Elise’s future as a world-famous dancer and choreographer; with David, Elise will be limited to teaching dance to children. To make a point, he uses his adjustment power to cause Elise to sprain her ankle. With his future in jeopardy and faced with sabotaging Elise’s future as well, David abandons her at the hospital.

Eleven months later, David runs for election again and sees an announcement of Elise’s imminent wedding. Harry, feeling guilty for earlier events, contacts David via secret meetings in the rain and near water. David learns from Harry that the Bureau’s weakness is water, allowing them to meet without the Bureau finding out. Harry reveals that Thompson exaggerated the negative consequences of David and Elise’s relationship, and he teaches David to use the doors so he may stop Elise’s wedding. He gives David his hat, empowering Norris to use the doors. David finds Elise in the bathroom of the courthouse where she is to be wed. Furious and hurt after his earlier desertion, Elise is shocked when David reveals the Bureau’s existence to her and shows her how he travels through doors. They are pursued across New York City. When David and Elise find themselves at the base of the Statue of Liberty, Norris decides to find the Chairman. Elise wavers briefly but then follows David across.

They go through the door to the Bureau headquarters. Eventually, they are trapped on a rooftop above New York, with Bureau members closing in. They declare their love for each other and embrace in a passionate kiss before David can be reset. When they let go of each other, the Bureau members are all gone. Thompson is abruptly on scene but is interrupted by Harry, who shows him a new, revised plan from the Chairman for David and Elise. After commending both of them for showing such devotion to each other, Harry takes his hat back and tells David and Elise they are free to “take the stairs”. The film concludes with David and Elise walking through the streets accompanied by a voice-over from Harry, speculating that the Chairman’s larger plan may be to get humanity back to a point where they can write their own plans

REVIEW:

If ever there was a case for a film not being what you expect, then The Adjustment Bureau is it. Judging from the trailers, one would expect this to be something akin to typical spy faire of today, only that isn’t the case. In actuality, there is a sci-fi thriller element going on here that really puts an interesting twist on things and captivates the audience, but is that enough to make this a good film?

The film starts with the meteoric rise of a promising young politician, played by Matt Damon. It seems as if he has the election locked up, then we all of a sudden see this guy who has this look about him, like he’s pissed about something. I assumed he was just someone who was wronged in the past, but I was wrong. Anyway, he gets a call and the next thing we know stuff starts spiraling out of control and he loses the election.

While he is in the bathroom practicing his concession speech, he meets a young woman, played by Emily Blunt, who gives him some advice all politicians should follow, which results in the funniest, truthful, and eye-opening lines of the film.

This chance meeting actually was not supposed to happen, let alone the two meeting again on the bs sometime later. It is because of this that the Adjustment Bureau reveal themselves and what they do, which make sure everything and everyone’s life goes according to “the plan”. If this wasn’t enough, they take the young woman’s number, burn it, and basically forbid them from seeing each other. Needless to say, that doesn’t work, but the rest of the film is spent in this chess match, of sorts, between the two factions. A battle of sorts between the Bureau and the free will of mankind.

I love this story. It really makes you wonder if there are mysterious guys out there controlling and adjusting everything about our lives. It would certainly explain how some people suddenly have changes of heart or don’t show up for a meeting, etc.

Speaking of the Adjustment Bureau guys, they sort of reminded me of the watcher guys from Fringe, especially with the old man hats they all wore. I would say that this may have been done on purpose, but this isn’t an original idea, but is based on a short story, which I haven’t read…yet.

They have this labeled as a romantic action thriller. Two things about that. First, I didn’t even know that was a category and second, I’m not so sure you can say that the romance is enough to categorize it anymore than you can with almost any other action flick. Yes, it is there, but does it really warrant being part of the subgenre?

One thing I liked about this film is how they let Emily Blunt’s character have her individuality and spunk, but she was still the proverbial damsel in distress. Not to sound misogynistic, but it seems like in every film nowadays the female lead is so busy trying to up the guy that it has become as tiresome as some say the damsel in distress was at one time. Could this be the start of us coming around full circle? I sure hope so!

Matt Damon and Emily Blunt master their roles, but it is the chemistry between the two that really stands out in my mind. Too often nowadays do we get on-screen couples that might as well be a couple of over paid wet blankets up there. Damon and Blunt seems as if they really were falling for each other, and it is that sort of believability that can make or break a film like this.

John Slattery, of Mad Men fame, proves that he can step out of his comfort zone of the suit and tie world…wait, he was still in a suit and tie, ok…um, where was I going with this. Ah! He adds his name to the list of actors from that show who have shown they are true talents, a list that does not include the overrated January Jones, but that’s a topic for some other time.

Terence Stamp is…well, he’s Terence Stamp.  As per his usual, he’s creepy and evil, yet dignified, respected, and distinguished. We’ve come to expect this and nothing less from him.

Newcomer Anthony Mackie makes quite the impression in this fairly major role as the member of the Bureau he seems to have a soft spot either for mankind, or Damon, for most of the film we’re not sure, but it is revealed at a later point of the film why he is like he is.

The chairman is never seen, but they make him out to be some sort of omnipotent being. I read some message boards on this film, you know the kind where people over-analyze every little aspect of movies, and they speculated that the chairman is God and the bureau are angels. Another posters said the same thing, bt on the other side of the spectrum, saying that he was the devil, and they were demons. One guy even went so far as to go into the whole turning the knob left and all that mumbo jumbo. It was enough to give me a headache and remind me why I don’t go into such lunatic rantings over a film.

Still, it would have been nice to have seen the chairman, bt on the other hand, his presence there was like a mysterious powerful cloud hanging over everything. I can go either way on that topic. A few people have joked that Ben Affleck should have been the chairman.

Not really being a fan of Matt Damon films, it was really a long shot that I was going to like this one, but the sci-fi element, coupled with Emily Blunt made this worth watching. To be honest, it is the titular characters that really make this film one to see.  I was enthralled in this film almost from the minute it started and think you will be as well. Give it a shot, you may be pleasantly surprised!

4 out of 5 stars

Gnomeo & Juliet

Posted in Animation, Family, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 5, 2011 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Mrs. Montague and Mr. Capulet (Julie Walters and Richard Wilson) are two elderly people who despise each other. When they leave the garden, objects come alive in both their gardens. The Montague garden is filled with blue garden gnomes, and the Capulet garden houses red garden gnomes. Later, both blue and red gnomes attend a lawnmower race. Representing the blues is Gnomeo (James McAvoy) and representing the reds is Tybalt (Jason Statham). During the race, it looks like Gnomeo is winning; however, Tybalt cheats and wins the race, destroying Gnomeo’s lawnmower. Gnomeo and his best friend, Benny (Matt Lucas), insult Tybalt for cheating, but Tybalt ignores them. Benny watches Mrs. Montague ordering a new cheap lawnmower, disappointed.

Later that night, Gnomeo and Benny, infiltrate the red garden in disguise, with blue spray cans. Benny sprays Tybalt’s well and accidentally triggers a security light in the process, alerting the red gnomes to attack. During the escape Gnomeo ends up in a nearby neglected garden. He bumps into a disguised Juliet (Emily Blunt), the daughter of the red gnomes leader Lord Redbrick (Michael Caine). Juliet is attempting to retrieve a unique orchid, and the two romantically fight over it. They each discover the other’s colour before fleeing the garden. When they both go back to their gardens, Juliet tells her frog friend Nanette (Ashley Jensen) about her newfound love. Nanette states that the relationship is romantically tragic.

Gnomeo and Juliet then have secret meetings in a secret garden, where they meet a pink plastic flamingo named Featherstone (Jim Cummings). He supports and encourages their love, and the two begin to meet regularly. Though when the two of them are getting ready for a date, Lord Redbrick introduces Juliet to Paris (Stephen Merchant), a red gnome that Nanette has fallen for, though Juliet manages to get away. Later, when the two return back to their gardens, Gnomeo finds his mother Lady Blueberry (Maggie Smith), who is distraught after the reds infiltrated the garden and destroyed the plant Gnomeo’s deceased father planted. The blues want Gnomeo to take revenge on the reds, and he realizes that he cannot refuse unless he tells his secret. He tunnels underneath to reach the red garden, but just as he is about to spray the prized flowers of the reds, Juliet sees him. He backs out suddenly, telling Benny that the nozzle on the spraying bottle was jammed.

When he and Juliet meet up again, they briefly argue until Featherstone stops them, telling them that other peoples’ hate destroyed his love. He and his girlfriend were separated when the two people living in the house, where their garden was, got divorced. After he has explained this, Gnomeo and Juliet apologize, but when they are about to kiss, Benny sees them, distracts them, then runs into the alleyway, where Tybalt is waiting with his lawnmower. Tybalt drives at Benny and chops his hat clean off with a trowel. Tybalt fights Gnomeo on his lawnmower, but he is destroyed when crashing into a wall, killing him. The reds attempt to attack Gnomeo, but Juliet, to the surprise of her father and clan, defends Gnomeo, saying that she loves him. A woman suddenly jogs along, so all gnomes become still and inconspicuous. Gnomeo ends up on a road, and everyone believes he was run over by a truck. Lord Redbrick has Juliet glued to her fountain because he does not want to lose her like her mother. Gnomeo’s pet, a mushroom named Shroom, is left alone and goes on the road, where he realizes that what appeared to be Gnomeo is actually a broken blue teapot, and that Gnomeo is still alive. Gnomeo eventually ends up in a park, and climbs onto a statue of William Shakespeare (Patrick Stewart) and tells him his story. Shakespeare tells Gnomeo that his story is very similar to Romeo and Juliet and that it is likely Gnomeo’s will have a sad ending as well. Shroom and Featherstone come to find him.

Benny, meanwhile, buys the Terrafirminator lawnmower using the computer and cancels the order of the Kitten Clipper, to get revenge on the Red Gnomes, despite Shroom trying to convince him that Gnomeo is still alive. The Terrafirminator goes out of control and destroys most of the two gardens. Gnomeo makes it back to Juliet to try to un-glue her, but he is unable to. She tells him to go, but he refuses, and the two share a kiss just as the lawnmower crashes into the fountain, self-destructing in the process and the William Shakespeare statue in an “I told you so” moment of confidence. Everyone believes that both Gnomeo and Juliet are dead. Lord Redbrick and Lady Blueberry, both realizing that their feud was responsible for this, decide to call a truce. Suddenly, both Gnomeo and Juliet climb out of the rubble and are both fine just as Mrs. Montague comes back to see if the Kitten Clipper lawnmower has arrived and so was Mr. Capulet who are soon horrified to see the destruction. The film ends happily with Gnomeo and Juliet getting married on a purple lawnmower, which symbolizes the truce.

REVIEW:

As I’m sure many of you probably did when you first saw something about this film, I rolled my eyes and let out a deep sigh in disgust that we were about to be forced to sit through yet another telling on the Bard’s immortal Romeo & Juliet. This time however, it is told with through the use of CG animation (which is really starting to get on my nerves, especially since this was released in 3D!!!) and the use of lawn gnomes (and various other lawn ornaments).

Gnomeo & Juliet is quite the cute little tale, and I was totally not expecting to like it. The only reason I even bothered watching it was because of the voice cast, which was superb, by the way. Listen forthe voices of Ozzy Osbourne and  Jason Statham as Deer and  Tybalt, respectively,  if you don’t believe me.

In all the tellings of this story, this more than likely will go down as one of my favorite, not necessarily because it is told better or is more memorable, but because it isn’t as depressing as the others…save for the one patch near the end, but that’s forgivable.

The animation is really good, but not great. The biggest flaw with it, though, may have to do with the fact that this was released in 3D, thus allowing for it to look rather muddy on DVD.

This isn’t a musical, though it might have worked better as one. Elton John provided the soundtrack for the film, and somehow it works. Don’t ask me how, but the tone of the film melds very well with the light hearted feel of Elton’s songs.

The jokes in here aren’t too childish that adults will be bored, nor are they too over the top for the kids. I think there could have been a few pop culture references thrown in, though. That might be a result of being spoiled by the Shrek movies, though.

Gnomeo & Juliet is a surprise hit for me, and I’m sure more than a few people who have seen it agree. While it may seem to be the dumbest premise one has ever conceived, the film itself is really quite good. Not to mention it is sweet, cute, and an all around good time for the family. I definitely recommend that you put aside any prejudices you may hold for this film and check it out.

4 out of 5 stars

Gulliver’s Travels

Posted in Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , on August 10, 2011 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Lemuel Gulliver (Jack Black) is the boss of newcomer Dan (T. J. Miller) in the mail room of a New York City newspaper, but soon, Dan is promoted to a boss. Deeply depressed at his dead-end job, Gulliver decides to talk to journalist Darcy Silverman (Amanda Peet). He convinces her he could write a report about his (false) extensive world “travels” saying his dream is to become a writer. After suffering writer’s block and thinking that Darcy will not want to hang out with a “guy from the mailroom”, he plagiarises a report from other publications on the Internet. The next day, Darcy, impressed by his writing, presents Gulliver with a new task – to travel to the Bermuda Triangle and write an article confirming that the legend of ships mysteriously disappearing in the area being caused by extraterrestrials is not true.

Upon arrival in Bermuda, Gulliver rents a boat and travels into the triangle. After falling asleep at the helm of his ship, he’s caught in a freak storm and the boat is overwhelmed by a waterspout. He washes up unconscious on the shore of Lilliput, where he is immediately confirmed as a “beast” by the town’s tiny people. He is captured and imprisoned in a cave, citizens claiming him to be dangerous because of his huge size. Here, he meets another prisoner named Horatio (Jason Segel) who was jailed by General Edward (Chris O’Dowd) because he likes Princess Mary of Lilliput (Emily Blunt), whereas Edward wants her for himself. After the island across from Lilliput, Blefuscu, infiltrates commandos to kidnap Princess Mary, Gulliver manages to break free of the plough-machine he is forced to work and then rescues the princess from being kidnapped. Gulliver also saves her father, King Benjamin (Billy Connolly) from a fire by urinating on it (this caused the film to recieve negative reviews).

Gulliver is declared a hero by Lilliput’s citizens and makes up a deal of lies saying he is the President of the United States, says Yoda is his Vice-President and a living legend in his homeland. Edward, however, becomes enraged due to the luxurious accommodations that have been built for him, and even being presented as an honorary general of the Lilliputian Army complete with uniform. When the townspeople find Gulliver’s boat and his things, Gulliver gets angry voice mail messages from Darcy, angrily saying she has to take his place and travel to Bermuda now, and also found out about his plagiarism and she no longer wishes to be friends with him. The next day, chaos ensues as the Blefuscian Navy lay siege on the city when Edward shuts down its defense system as an act of revenge for Gulliver’s treatment. Gulliver defeats the armada, invulnerable to the cannonballs being fired at him (although he receives numerous welts on his stomach). Embarrassed once more, and with Mary no longer wanting to do anything with him, Edward defects to the Blefuscians and brings with him blueprints of a robot coming from one of Gulliver’s sci-fi magazines. The Blefuscians secretly build the robot based on Gulliver’s magazine, with Edward as the pilot.

The Blefuscians invade Liliput and the robot-wielding Edward makes Gulliver admit to the people that he is “just the guy from the mail-room” and nothing more. Edward banishes Gulliver on the shores of Brobdingnag (“the island where we dare not go”), where he is captured by Glumdalclitch, a giant girl who is to Gulliver as Gulliver is to the people of Lilliput, and forced to become her doll complete with wig and dress. Darcy is then imprisoned by the Blefuscians when she is lost in the Bermuda Triangle in the same manner as Gulliver. Horatio, who has gone to Brobdingnag after being spurned by Mary, reveals to Gulliver that Darcy is imprisoned. Gulliver narrowly escapes with him, using a parachute that he took from a dead U.S. Air Force pilot sitting in the dollhouse (a crashed F-104 Starfighter is seen in the girl’s yard).

Once again accepting a duel from Edward, this time not only for Lilliput’s freedom but for its fate as well -as Edward threatens to destroy it should Gulliver fail- Gulliver ultimately defeats him with the assistance of Horatio, who disables the machine’s electrocuting weapon. Horatio is hailed a hero and gets King Benjamin’s permission to court the princess. Edward, reaching the point of insanity, threatens to kill the princess, but the princess, finally having enough of Edward, knocks the traitor down in frustration. Gulliver then helps to make peace between the rival island-nations by reciting Edwin Starr’s “War” and he, along with Darcy, return to New York on their repaired boat. The film ends with Darcy and Gulliver holding hands walking away from the screen.

REVIEW:

I’m actually a little surprised that the novel, Gulliver’s Travels has not been made into a film more often. The best one that I’ve seen was a miniseries in the mid 90s starring Ted Danson. I say that was the best one becuse it captured the essence of the book…at least from what I understood at the time.

This version centers on the first part of Gulliver’s excursion, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing if your intention is to make a franchise, which wouldn’t be a bad idea…just not with Jack Black as Gulliver.

I’m not a hater of Jack Black, but I’m no fan, either. It may be hard to believe, but this is one of the few roles where he is actually not the worst thing on the screen. On that same note, though, he is still Jack Black, and sometimes just goes to far trying to be funny…emphasis on the trying.

The worst part of the cast has to be the overacting of Chris O’Dowd. I realize the guy is playing the total douchebag antagonist and all, but I never really bought him as anything more than a nuisance.

Emily Blunt has never looked better, but her acting leaves a bit to be desired. She’s not a bad actress, but this was not the script for her. I wonder if she’s regretting turning down the role of Black Widow in Iron Man 2, yet. I will say that she look very tasty all pushed up in that corset of her, as does the Queen, played by extremely busty Bristish actress Catherine Tate.

I’m not really sure why Amanda Peet was even in this film, as she was nothing more than eye candy in the bookending “real world” scenes at the beginning and end.

I give the filmmakers kudos for attempting to go in a different direction with this story, but it just didn’t work. I mean, I don’t recall any part of the book where Gulliver pisses on a castle to put out the fire, or any giant robot.

The special effects aren’t bad, but, as with every other film that shows people over very little height, they just don’t have that realistic look. I guess since the technology may or may not exist, I shouldn’t fault them for it.

As far as everything else goes, the inverted whirlpool was pretty nasty looking….in a good way. It was one of the most believable things in this film!

So, let’s not beat around the bush here. This film is not worth watching. If you want to see Gulliver’s Travels on film, then find one of the older version. I recommend the one starring Ted Danson. This film is just an insult to one’s intelligence and the actors seemed as if they phoned it in and Jack Black is oblivious to how bad this picture is. No, you shouldn’t avoid this like the plague, but I highly recommend staying far away from it.

2 out of 5 stars