Archive for Jemaine Clement

The BFG

Posted in Family, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , on July 15, 2017 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

Roald Dahl’s spooky children’s book is transformed into a family-friendly fantasy centering on young orphan Sophie, who meets a colossus called the Big Friendly Giant — who’s exiled from his peers for refusing to eat boys and girls.

What people are saying:

“…this splendid Steven Spielberg-directed adaptation makes it possible for audiences of all ages to wrap their heads around one of the unlikeliest friendships in cinema history, resulting in the sort of instant family classic “human beans” once relied upon Disney to deliver.” 4 stars

“An undeniable master at telling deeply affecting matinee-style tales, [Spielberg’s] 29th feature retains enough magical elements from the source novel to delight kids and captivate adults.” 4 1/2 stars

“This is one of the few Roald Dahl books I’ve never read, so I can’t speak for the accuracy regarding the book, but I thought this movie was brilliant of its own accord. The graphics are beautiful, the story is touching and the acting is perfect. I honestly only planned to see it because I’m willing to see just about anything Disney releases, but I was very impressed and will definitely be seeing this again.” 4 stars

“The animated ’89 version of The BFG was a staple of my youth, so naturally I was excited for a Steven Spielberg redo. Unfortunately, I don’t think the tale lends itself well to the live action format. That, or the hands making this piece were unable to concentrate the narrative to where it went. In either case, the end product is a film with many tiny endearing moments of nostalgia that at no point come together to create a laudable whole.” 2 stars

“Well acquainted with the quirky Roald Dahl books from when I was a kid, I enjoyed this and it’s pleasing to see that Disney didn’t water it down. The screenplay was penned by the late Mellissa Matheson (ET The Extra Terrestrial) and the CGI was visually superb and believable. Infact, the warm-hearted giant was rendered very lifelike (looking as he did, like Liam Neeson!) and terrifically voiced.” 3 1/2 stars

Moana

Posted in Animation, Family, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 10, 2016 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

In the beginning, there was only ocean. Then Te Fiti, an island goddess, emerged. Te Fiti’s heart, a small pounamu stone, possessed the power to create life. It was stolen by the demigod Maui, who was planning to give it to humanity as a gift. But the lava demon Te Kā confronted him, causing the heart to become lost in the ocean along with Maui’s magical fishhook.

A millennium later, Moana Waialiki, the daughter and heir of a chief on the small Polynesian island of Motunui, is chosen by the ocean to receive the heart as she is collecting shells on the shore. Her father, Chief Tui, insists the island provides everything the villagers might need, but when fish become scarce, coconuts begin to spoil, and the island’s vegetation begins to die, Moana proposes going beyond the reef to find more fish. Tui angrily rejects her request, as sailing beyond the reef is forbidden. Moana’s mother Sina confesses Tui fears the ocean because he lost his best friend when he attempted to sail beyond the reef.

Moana’s grandmother Tala finds Moana on the beach after a failed attempt to sail past the reef and shows Moana a secret cave hidden behind a waterfall. Inside is a fleet of outrigger sailing canoes, revealing that the island’s ancestors were seafaring voyagers. Tala gives Moana the heart of Te Fiti, which she has kept safe for her granddaughter ever since she was chosen by the ocean, and shows her that the darkness unleashed by Maui’s theft is now consuming the island.

Tala suddenly falls ill and with her dying breaths tells Moana to set sail. Moana departs to find Maui with her pet rooster Heihei, who has accidentally stowed away on the sailboat. A manta ray, implied to be Tala’s reincarnation, follows Moana. Moana follows a constellation that looks like Maui’s fishhook, but a huge wave caused by a typhoon flips her sailboat and knocks her unconscious. She wakes up the next morning on a small island inhabited by Maui, who distracts Moana by boasting of his exploits, traps her in a cave and steals her sailboat. After escaping the cave, Moana tries to convince Maui to return the heart, but Maui refuses, fearing other dark creatures will be attracted to its power.

Pygmy pirates called Kakamora surround the boat and manage to steal the heart, but Maui is able to get their massive sailboats to collide just as Moana retrieves the heart. Maui agrees to help bring the heart back to Te Fiti, but in order to do so, he needs his hook, which is hidden in Lalotai, the Realm of Monsters and held by a giant coconut crab named Tamatoa. The two journey to Lalotai, where they manage to retrieve the hook by tricking Tamatoa into singing of his glamour. Back on the sailboat, Maui teaches Moana how to sail and to navigate by the stars and, with Moana’s encouragement, reacquaints himself with the transformational powers of his magical hook. Moana learns that Maui was a human raised by gods after being abandoned by his parents.

They arrive at Te Fiti, where Te Kā appears and tries to destroy them. Maui tries to fight back, but Te Kā is too strong and he tells Moana to turn back. She ignores him, believing that they can use Te Kā’s aversion to water to their advantage, and Te Kā severely damages Maui’s hook and repels their boat out to sea. Maui leaves Moana stranded, fearing that going back to fight Te Kā will permanently destroy his hook. He tells her that the ocean chose the wrong person to save her people.

Moana, distraught at her failure, begs the ocean to take the heart and choose another person to return it to Te Fiti. The spirit of Tala appears and encourages Moana to find her true calling within herself. Moana swims down to retrieve the heart and returns to Te Fiti to return the heart. She is nearly killed by Te Kā, but Maui, having had a change of heart, returns to distract the lava demon, though his hook is destroyed in the battle. Moana, reaching the top of the mountain, realizes that the island is gone and that Te Kā is actually Te Fiti without her heart. Moana asks the ocean to clear a path so Te Kā can approach her. Moana sings a song to Te Kā to calm her and remembering what she truly was she is able to restore her heart and Te Fiti returns. In gratitude, Te Fiti gifts Moana a new canoe and Maui (who apologizes to her for stealing her heart a long time ago) a new hook before slumbering at peace. Maui and Moana bid each other a fond farewell.

Moana returns to her island and later sets sail with the rest of the villagers in search of new islands as Maui accompanies them in his hawk form.

In a post-credits scene, Tamatoa, who has been stranded on his back during Moana and Maui’s escape, wonders if people would care more for him if he was a Jamaican crab named Sebastian.

REVIEW:

Disney heads to the Polynesian islands for Moana, a film that has been controversial ever since the first teaser trailer was released. You know what they say, though, sometimes controversy is the best thing for a film, as it turns into publicity. Question is, though, how is the film, despite people complaining about this, that, and everything else?

What is this about?

Moana Waialiki is a sea voyaging enthusiast and the only daughter of a chief in a long line of navigators. When her island’s fisherman can’t catch any fish and the crops fail, she learns that the demigod Maui caused the blight by stealing the heart of the goddess Te Fiti. The only way to heal the island is to persuade Maui to return Te Fiti’s heart, so Moana sets off on an epic journey across the Pacific. The film is based on stories from Polynesian mythology.

What did I like?

Can you smell….what Maui is hooking? Dwayne Johnson, better known to some of us as “The Rock”, lends his voice, charm, charisma…and ego to Maui, the demigod. Johnson has been pretty busy the past few years with his exploding movie career and all. I think the last time he did a voice for a feature length animated movie was Planet 51, and that didn’t work out so well for him. Maui seems to have all the qualities that made The Rock likable (or hateable), but he even does the “People’s eyebrow”. I feel I should also mention his tattoo which, like the ocean is a character all its own, much in the same way the magic carpet is in Aladdin.

Music. Compared to Frozen, I think the songs are less catchy, with a couple of exceptions. That being said, the heavy use of percussion really drives the music and captures the audience’s ear. Not to mention it is also a good way to honor and respect the islands for which this film is set. I do guarantee, though, that there is one song, which is pretty early on that you will be singing for days. As a matter of fact, I think I’m going to download the soundtrack to my Spotify player as soon as I finish this review

Pre-show. Two things. First off, baby Moana is cute as a button! Second, the short before the film, which seemed like a failed attempt at mixing Up and Inside Out at first, turned out to be pretty solid. Why did I mention Up? Well, all the guys in the office have the same head as the old man. It was a nice lead in to this film, though some would say this short and the one in front of Inside Out could have been switched, due to subject matter and the films they were preceding.

What didn’t I like?

Animal encounters. Early on, when Moana meets Maui, he calls her “princess” and says she has an animal sidekick. The audience got a chuckle out of that, and why not? It is true, with the exception of Tiana, who was turned into a frog, and the actual animal princesses; Nala, Maid Marian, etc. So what is my issue? Well, these animals, specifically the chicken, aren’t useful or funny. it is just there. Hell, that giant crab that thinks its David Bowie and seems to be jealous of Sebastian would’ve made a better sidekick!

Daddy issues. There is a little incontinuity with Moana’s dad that I picked up on. In the whole first part of the film he foaming at the mouth with anger trying to keep her from going out past the reef. In some scenes, it seems like he doesn’t even want her to go near the water! At the film’s end, when she comes back, he doesn’t seem to give a damn. I understand people can change, and that’s well and good, but this was an about face that leaves me scratching my head.

Danger! Maui says that the Heart of Te Fiti will bring out all sorts of danger. Well, the only danger that came after them were the Kakamora and then when they had to face Te Ka. The rest fo the time, they were too busy fighting amongst themselves or diving into the realm of Monsters after Maui’s hook to deal with any dangers. Still, it would have been nice to get some more perils, even if was the return of the Kakamora.

Final thoughts on Moana? Disney has outdone themselves with this one. Not only did they make a film with a great story, but this is one of those rare films that isn’t necessarily aimed at the girls or boys, though you make arguments for and against for both. I do have a few small issues with the film, but they are really just small nitpicky stuff. The animation in this flick is gorgeous. I know we all can’t live in the Polynesian islands, but it does make one want to at least drive to the beach…maybe when it isn’t 43 degrees outside! Do I recommend this? Yes, very highly! Moana is sure to bring a smile to your face and joy to your heart!

4 3/4 out of 5 stars

Rio 2

Posted in Animation, Family, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 1, 2015 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Blu and Jewel enjoy life in Rio with their 3 kids, the oldest and music-loving Carla, book smart Bia, and the youngest and mischievous Tiago. Meanwhile, Blu’s former owner, Linda Gunderson and her ornithologist husband, Tulio are on an expedition in the Amazon and eventually discover a quick-flying spix’s macaw that loses one of its feathers. When word gets out about this through television, Jewel believes that they should go to the Amazon to help find the blue macaws. While the kids are ecstatic, Blu is uncertain, but is pressured into going along. Rafael, Nico and Pedro decide to come along. Luiz attempts to follow, but fails. Blu brings a fanny pack full of supplies, one of which he uses mostly is a GPS, much to Jewel’s displeasure.

Meanwhile, the leader of a group that is in a line of illegal logging named Big Boss, discovers Linda and Tulio’s expedition to find the macaws and orders his henchmen to hunt them down to avoid disruptions to their work. Also, Blu and Jewel’s old nemesis, Nigel the cockatoo, has survived the plane crash from the first film, but is now unable to fly and is working as a fortune teller/con artist. When he sees Blu and his family flying overhead of him, he immediately decides to seek revenge on them. He enlists two minions to help him in his plans; a silent anteater named Charlie and a poison dart frog named Gabi, the latter of which is in love with Nigel. Blu and his family use a boat to get to the jungle (with Nigel’s first plan of revenge being inadvertently foiled by Charlie), and when they arrive, they find nothing in sight. However, they are eventually taken to a flock of blue macaws that are hiding in a secret paradise land. There, they meet Jewel’s stern long lost father, Eduardo, his older sister Mimi, and Jewel’s childhood friend, Roberto. Eduardo seems unimpressed with Blu’s domesticated human behavior.

While searching for the macaws, Linda and Tulio are eventually trapped by the loggers. Meanwhile, Blu does his best to fit in with the flock, as his family and friends are doing, although the flock (especially Eduardo) are against humans and all things human. Meanwhile, a disguised Nigel plans to kill Blu at the new Carnival show after landing in an audition hosted by Rafael, Nico, Pedro, and Carla. When Blu tries to pick a Brazilian nut for Jewel, he accidentally tries to get it in the territory of the Spix Macaw’s enemies, the Scarlet macaws, led by the hostile Felipe. Blu inadvertently causes war between the two tribes for food when he accidentally hits Felipe with a twig. The war turns out to be just like football (soccer), and Blu accidentally costs the flock the food when he sends the fruit ball into his own team’s goal.

Blu visits Tulio and Linda’s site, where he discovers that it has been majorly disturbed. After discovering the loggers are destroying the jungle, Blu sends Roberto (who followed Blu) to warn the flock as he saves Linda and Tulio. Blu persuades the macaws to defend their homes, and they easily outmatch the loggers with help from the Scarlet macaws and the other animals. Big Boss tries to blow up the trees as a back-up plan, but Blu steals the lit dynamite. Nigel goes after Blu, and reveals himself as they are falling down when he tugs on the dynamite. After the dynamite goes off, Blu and Nigel engage in a battle while tangled in vines. Gabi and Charlie try to help Nigel by shooting Blu with a dart that has Gabi’s poison on it, but it accidentally hits Nigel, who gives a Shakespearean death speech before seemingly dying. Gabi tries to commit suicide by drinking her own poison and the pair are seemingly dead. However, Bia reveals that Gabi isn’t poisonous at all (she was lied to by her parents that she was). Nigel tries to attack Blu one last time, but Gabi showers Nigel with affection against his will. Meanwhile, Big Boss is eaten alive by a boa constrictor.

With the flock now under Linda and Tulio’s protection, Blu and Jewel decide to live in the Amazon with their kids and friends, though still agreeing to visit Rio in the summer. Meanwhile, Nigel and Gabi are captured by Tulio and are both taken back to Rio, Luiz finally arrives in the Amazon after hitching a ride with Kipo, and Charlie joins the birds’ party.

REVIEW:

I was not the biggest fan of Rio, the first film featuring a rare blue macaw, but apparently more than a few people liked it. How else do you explain the existence of Rio 2? Here’s hoping this is better and not just some cruel April Fool’s joke someone is playing on me.

What is this about?

Blu, Jewel and their three youngsters visit the Amazon, where they find adventure, friends old and new, and even a little danger. The family finds the rain forest in peril, but first they must contend with their old nemesis, Nigel the cockatoo.

What did I like?

Singing frog. Kristin Chenoweth had a recognizable voice, so casting her is really a no-brainer. When casting her, especially in a kids film such as this, it is almost automatic that she’s going to get the chance to belt out at least one number. Considering how we can’t see her vertically challenged cuteness, then we as the audience expect nothing less and I believe the filmmakers knew this, as well. Why else would that little pink frog have a song in a film that really isn’t a musical?

Colors. If there is one thing to be said about this film, it doesn’t skimp on the colors! They are brilliant, vibrant, and plentiful. Even in the darker parts of the film, we are blasted in the face with color, but not in a way to make us wish for less, just enough to keep respectful to the region. I can respect that and wish more films of this, or any, nature would take note and use the color palette as liberally.

What didn’t I like?

Bigger does not always mean better. I don’t care what franchise it is, when it comes time for the sequel, there is more money, which makes filmmaker go bigger. This does not equal better, though. Using the jungle setting of most of the film seemed like a good idea, especially with the 3D, but other than the birds, we really didn’t see any wildlife. This brings into question, why use the jungle at all. Wouldn’t have just been easier to keep everyone in Rio and bring in these new birds? I just didn’t get it.

Length. For a children’s film, I felt this was too long. Sure, the aforementioned bright colors will keep kids’ attention, but what about the adults and/or older siblings that are forced to watch with them? This story is not strong enough to justify the nearly 2 hour run time. A good 30 minutes needed to be cut, methinks.

Enough Eisenberg. I will never be a fan of Jesse Eisenberg. The guy is a no-talent hack who somehow has a career. His voice grates on me, and it is even worse in animated form. The stammering thing he does is not cute. In comparison, Jay Baruchel has a much more annoying voice, but at least he’s doesn’t annoy the living %!#%^@$& when he talks.

Final verdict on Rio 2? Well, it is definitely a sequel. I don’t really have much to say on this other than that. I mean, the first film was forgettable and this one follows suit. Other than some inspired voice casting with the likes of Kristin Chenoweth, Rita Moreno, Bruno Mars, etc., this is just a mess of a film that only got the greenlight because kids can be sold just about anything these days. I do not recommend this!

2 out of 5 stars

Men in Black 3

Posted in Comedy, Movie Reviews, Sci-Fi/Fantasy with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 26, 2012 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

On July 16, 1969, Agent K (Tommy Lee Jones) apprehended the intergalactic criminal Boris the Animal (Jemaine Clement) at Cape Canaveral in Florida before setting up the ArcNet shield, which protected Earth from an invasion by Boris’ species and rendered them extinct forever.

In spring of 2012, 43 years later, Boris manages to escape from the Lunar Max prison facility on the Moon and arrives on Earth, intent on taking revenge on K – who took away his left arm during his arrest and locked him for decades. After investigating a spaceship crash in New York City, K deduces that Boris has sprung out of prison, and he regrets not having killed him back in 1969. He returns back to his apartment.

The next day, Agent J (Will Smith) notices that K is no longer in his apartment. He arrives at MIB headquarters to discover that K has been dead for over 40 years. Agent O (Emma Thompson) , the new Chief after Z’s passing and retirement (with his memory erased), deduces that there has been a fracture in the space-time continuum based on J’s insatiable craving for chocolate milk to ameliorate his headaches. J comes to the conclusion that Boris acquired a time-jump device and traveled back to 1969 to kill K, resulting in an inevitable invasion of Earth due to the absence of the ArcNet. J goes to Obadiah Prince (Lanny Flaherty) , a black market dealer who sold Boris the time-jump device, and acquires one of his own. As the time-jump device needs a certain amount of velocity to activate, J must jump off the Chrysler Building to make the time-travel. He travels to July 15, 1969 – one day before the incident involving Boris and Agent K.

Upon arriving at the timeline, J travels to Coney Island, knowing that Boris will be committing a murder based on the original incident report he accessed beforehand. However, a younger agent K (Josh Brolin) arrests him and has him placed in a larger, more primitive Neuralyzer. At the very last second, J convinces K to stop the process when he reveals the truth of his mission. K decides that he is telling the truth and takes him to the MIB headquaters, which is largely changed that it’s in it’s 2012 version. He also meets with a younger version of Agent O (Alice Eve). They eventually work together and follow Boris’ trail. Their clues lead them to a prescient alien named Griffin (Michael Stuhlbarg) , who is in possession of the ArcNet. Being able to look into multiple probable future outcomes and scenarios, he warns the two agents of Boris’ impending arrival and hurriedly leaves the venue.

Based on the clues left for them, the Agents locate Griffin, who gives them the shield that has to be placed onto the Apollo 11 lunar rocket launch occurring in less than six hours. Upon arriving at Cape Canaveral, the two agents and Griffin are quickly arrested by military police. The Colonel (Mike Colter) in the scene, however, allows the two agents to carry on their mission after Griffin uses his precognitive power to show them “how important they are”. The Colonel shares a long look with Griffin, his demeanor immediately softens, and he seems to take a more personal interest in assisting Agents J and K in their mission. The reason for this is revealed shortly thereafter.

J and K arrive at the launch pad, but are confronted separately by both 1969 and modern-day incarnations of Boris. Modern-day Boris impales J with his spikes before they both fall off the pad; however, J uses the time-jump to travel back to the beginning of the fight and avoid the spikes before pushing the criminal off the pad into the fiery exhaust gases of the rocket. Meanwhile, as K battles the younger Boris, he ruptures a fueling hose, causing it to spray liquid nitrogen on 1969 Boris’ left arm and shatter it. K then successfully plants the ArcNet on the rocket, which deploys after reaching the Earth’s atmosphere. The Colonel congratulates K, who in turn invites him to join the agency.

As J watches from the distance, however, 1969 Boris emerges from the blast chamber and kills the Colonel before he changes into his true alien form only to be disintegrated by K within seconds. A young boy named James (Cayen Martin) exits a military van near their location looking for his father. He pulls the pocket watch out of his pocket revealed earlier in the movie to have been passed down to Agent J’s by his father. This reveals James to be Agent J as a little boy and the Colonel to be his father. Young James is slowly coaxed away from the gruesome truth by K while older Agent J looks on in sadness from a distance in realization that he just watched his own father die and that Agent K tenderly cared for and softened the blow to young James knowing who he was. Specifically, K neuralyzes young J/James, telling him that his father was a hero and a great man, then walks with him along the beach holding his hand.

J returns to the present day, where he meets up with his partner at the usual diner. There, he shows K his father’s pocket watch. The senior agent, in return, tells him it was an honor to have met him that fateful day. As they leave the diner, Griffin – who is a few seats away, tells the viewer that all is well with the world, except for an inevitable asteroid impact on Earth because K forgot to leave a tip. But when K returns to leave his tip, the asteroid collides with a satellite, thus avoiding the catastrophe.

REVIEW:

I remember when the original Men in Black came out and I was blown away by not only how different it was, but how it paid homage to classic sci-fi, and had some reflective moments, as well, which made it a high quality film. Some people weren’t so thrilled with Men in Black 2, but I liked it. Many years later, the men in black have returned for Men in Black 3, a film that many thought would never happen. So, the question is, should it have just been something fans of the series wished for or was it worth the long wait?

I can say with strong conviction that fans of this franchise won’t be disappointed, for the most part, but at the same time, there is just something that doesn’t feel right. I am chalking it up to the time between films, but I’m sure there are those out there that are going to say this was just forced into production, which it may very well have been, I’m just not going to use that as an excuse.

So, what did I like?

Josh Brolin. This guy nails Tommy Lee Jones’ Agent K. Everyone has been blown away by his spot on interpretation of Jones. I know that I sure was.

What’s old is new. Yes, New York is a huge city, but there are only so many places you can fight aliens there. How do you solve this problem? Simple, just go back in time and Bam!….everything is new again.

Literal leaping. I found it kind of funny that in order to travel through time (they call it time jumping), J, or whoever, had to literally take a leap off a building to do it. It reminded me of the leap of faith from the Assassin’s Creed games, only without the eagle screech when he did it.

Celebrity cameos. In the previous films, and you may have missed this if you blinked, there were certain cameos of celebrities whom the tabloids claimed were aliens at one time or another, such as Sylvester Stallone and Michael Jackson, who actually has a small speaking role. This film keeps with that tradition, as we see Lady Gaga on that list twice. Come on, you know you can’t help but think she’s an alien!

Gone, but not forgotten. I am so glad they didn’t just random;y change the head of MIB. Well, they sort of did, but they wrote it in that he died, which wasn’t a bad way to go. I do have to wonder why he didn’t come back, though. May have something to do with his legal issues, more than anything else.

Not all roses. It isn’t very often that time travel flicks bring up the topic of race relations, but they make an attempt to bring it up here, if ever so briefly. Granted, 1969 was a lot better place as far as racial tensions go than 1869, but it still is a far cry from 2012. It was nice of them to touch on the topic, and since this is a comedy, they didn’t dwell on it too long, or make it a major point. It got just the right amount of attention.

What didn’t I like?

No more familiar faces. The worms were back, briefly, but what about Geebs and Frank? Was there really a need to not have them around? At least we got a glimpse of Frank, albeit a creepy one, in a giant photo that hangs over J’s bed.

Female agents. I honestly wonder if they brought in Emma Thompson/Alice Eve just to have a female agent, since the past couple of films have had the whole damsel in distress thing. The problem with bringing them in, though, is that they don’t really add anything, but rather just seem to be a pretty face that K had a crush on (yet she had no mention in either of the previous films, or the cartoon, if I”m not mistaken).

Emptiness. I wasn’t planning on seeing this in 3D, but traffic had me running late and I had no choice since I missed the start of the last 2D showing. I belive this will be the film that unseats The Avengers for the #1 spot (I’m hoping so…rather than that abomination of Snow White that is coming out next week starring Kristen no talent Stewart), but the theater was literally empty, with the exception of one family. A few people trickled in, but it was far from full.

Lost art of villainy. In the previous films, the major villain hasn’t exactly the most sympathetic of characters, especially Edgar. However, this Boris the Animal is nothing more than psychotic, overacting comic foil. Sure, he actually was fairly capable villain, but he was a bit too over-the-top for my taste.

Family ties. I don’t know, the whole thing in the last few minutes about the family thing seemed kind of forced in there. Yes, it is mentioned early on, but you would think that was nothing more than just something they randomly said. I wasn’t really a fan of them shoehorning in this back story of J, especially in the last 5 minutes of the film, and to top it all off, they made it seem as if K has been basically watching over him all this time. That could have been a good story, yes, but not for this film.

Men in Black 3 lacks the magic and whimsy of the two films the preceded it, but it still manages to keep the audience interested and entertained. I don’t know if it was worth spending the money to see in theaters, especially in 3D, but it is worth seeing. I highly recommend it. There aren’t too many films that come out today that are like this…lighthearted fun. So, sit back and enjoy the ride!

4 out of 5 stars

 

Rio

Posted in Family, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , on September 21, 2011 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

n Brazil, several types of exotic birds get smuggled to different countries. A crate with a male blue macaw hatchling falls off the truck into the streets of Moose Lake, Minnesota. Linda Gunderson quickly finds the macaw, adopting him as her pet and naming him Blu. However, he is unable to fly, which makes him subject to ridicule by the Canadian Geese that frequent the outside of Linda’s bookstore.

One day, ornithologist Túlio Monteiro invites Blu and Linda to vacation in Rio de Janeiro, on the condition that Blu mate with a female macaw before his return to Moose Lake, as he is the last male of his species. Linda takes the offer and the three are flown to Rio, where Blu meets a Red-crested Cardinal named Pedro and his Yellow Canary friend Nico. Blu is taken to Túlio’s aviary, and falls in love with Jewel, a cynical, fiercely independent blue macaw longing to flee into the wilderness. Blu and Jewel are captured by a boy named Fernando and a psychopathic Sulphur-crested Cockatoo named Nigel, both of whom work for a group of smugglers led by Marcel. Nigel tells the macaws that he vowed to smuggle exotic birds because of his role being replaced on a television program. Blu and Jewel flee from him, ending up in a jungle.

Fernando meets Linda and Túlio, explaining that Marcel had forced him to capture birds before cooperating with the two to Blu. The macaws meet a Toco toucan named Rafael, who offers to take them to his bulldog friend Luiz to remove a chain connected to their legs. He also tries to teach Blu how to fly, before the three meet Pedro and Nico. Nigel hires a horde of thieving marmosets led by Mauro to capture Blu and Jewel. Pedro and Nico take Blu and Jewel to a bird’s Rio-style party, where they perform a duet, but are attacked by the marmosets. Their bird friends fight them, allowing the five to flee. Linda and Túlio are taken to the smugglers hideout. While there, Marcel explains that he will use the Rio Carnival to kidnap Blu and Jewel.

Meanwhile, Blu and the others meet Luiz. Luiz manages to release the chain holding Blu and Jewel using his drool. After a brief falling out, Blu and Jewel decide to go their separate ways. When Blu and Rafael learn from Pedro and Nico that Nigel captured Jewel, the four rush to the carnival to rescue Jewel, while Linda and Túlio organize a rescue attempt on the birds.

While Linda and Túlio pose as dancers, Marcel enacts his plan, using Nigel to capture the birds. On board Marcel’s Short SC.7 Skyvan, Blu and Jewel release the captive birds out of the plane, but Nigel fractures Jewel’s wing and then proceeds to finish Blu. Before he can do so, Blu uses a fire extinguisher to send Nigel into the propeller of the plane’s engine, and the smugglers flee. Unable to fly, Jewel slips out of the plane, falling towards the ocean. Blu jumps out of the plane to rescue Jewel, and finally discovers that he is able to fly. Later, Linda, Túlio and Fernando organize a sanctuary to protect the jungle from smugglers. Blu and Jewel raise three chicks together and celebrate with their bird friends, Nigel is ridiculed for his loss of feathers, and the smugglers are sent to jail.

REVIEW:

Remember those days when animation was hand drawn? Oh, how I miss those days! Rio is another of these compter animated films in which the characters all look nearly alike and the plot is more generic than peanut butter.

Is it me, or are of these films from Dreamworks all starting to seem like they want to be something bigger, but they just haven’t been able to measure up to Shrek, yet. I can think of two that were really good, but the rest, including the Shrek sequels (excluding 2), all fall into mediocrity. This one is no exception.

Sure, the plot is a nice one about a rare blue macaw that was kidnapped from Rio, somehow ended up in Minnesota where he was taken in by this socially awkward little girl who took care of him and then somehow they are asked to go back to Rio so that he can mate with the only other of his kind. Along the way, there are perils, hijinks, and a psycho cockatoo.

The problem I have with the plot is that it all seemed too…I dunno..formuulaic, for lack of a better word. The whole while I was watching this, nothing happened to make me sit up and say wow! Everything was something we’ve all seen before and you could tell what was going to happen next throughout the entire picture.

If there was a surprise, it was the random musical numbers. These would be fine, except for the fact that the songs were quite horrid! These are the kind of musical productions that make you wish those wannabes on American Idol actually got a shot. Yes, they were that bad!

Not to make it sound like this is a total downer for me, I will say that the animation of Carnival and the city itself was breathtaking. Now, it quite possibly be that the colors were distracting from some shortcomings, but hey,it worked.

Voice casting was fine for the most part. My only issue is with Jesse Eisenberg. This guy has no talent and is just annoying. I mean, the guy from How to Train Your Dragon, Jay Baruchel, is annoying, but his annoying voice is what works for him. Eisenberg is just a hack. He didn’t work for this character, in my opinion.

I’ll be honest, I was really expecting to like this film. It is a huge disappointment that it turned out to be this…whatever this was. There is a ton of wasted talent, forgettable, forced music, and a story that probably should have been tweaked a little more before they went into production. I recommend Rio for two groups of people…if you’re one of those that has kids that are fascinated by brilliant, fantastic colors or if you want to be blown away by the way they captured the essence of Rio in computer animated form. Everyone else would do better watching one of the far superior Dreamworks films,or even better watch a classic Disney hand drawn masterpiece!

3 out of 5 stars

Dinner for Schmucks

Posted in Comedy, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , on March 12, 2011 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Tim Conrad (Paul Rudd) is a mid-level financial executive, who acquires a negotiation over special novelty lamps with wealthy Swiss businessman Martin Mueller (David Walliams). Impressed by Tim’s ingenuity, his boss Lance Fender (Bruce Greenwood) invites him to a “dinner for winners” in which he must find and bring an eccentric person with a special talent; the winner earns a trophy and the executive that brought him or her gets glory. He soon learns it is more of a “dinner for idiots”, and the partygoers will be mocked mercilessly. Meanwhile, Tim’s girlfriend Julie (Stephanie Szostak) lands a curator deal for eccentric artist Kieran Vollard (Jemaine Clement), and Tim unsuccessfully proposes to her, as he has done several times before. After learning of the cruel nature of the dinner party, Julie becomes upset and asks him not to attend and he agrees.

The next day, Tim accidentally hits IRS employee Barry Speck (Steve Carell) with his car when Barry tries to retrieve a dead mouse in the road. Witnessing Barry’s bizarre behavior (he taxidermies mice and arranges them into elaborate dioramas), Tim realizes he is the perfect loser for the dinner. That night, Barry shows up at Tim’s apartment unannounced and accidentally invites over Darla (Lucy Punch), who had a one-night stand with Tim years ago and has been stalking him. Barry decides to guard Tim’s apartment from Darla to make up for inviting her. When Julie arrives at his apartment, Barry mistakes her for Darla and sends her away, giving Julie the mistaken impression that Tim is cheating on her. Barry decides to call Vollard and finds the number saved in the phone. While talking to him, he and Tim think they hear Julie in the background and head to Vollard’s apartment. Barry tosses Tim’s keys through Vollard’s apartment window and must break in, only to find Kieran preparing to make love to two girls dressed like animals (neither of them are Julie) and head back home.

Afterwards, Barry opens the door to find Darla waiting outside. Julie calls and asks Tim if he’s having an affair and Darla steals the phone and stuffs it down her pants. While Tim hides in his bedroom, Darla and Barry get into a bar-styled fight, scaring Darla away. Julie accidentally left her phone at Tim’s apartment and a voice message from Vollard reveals to Tim and Barry that Julie is leaving for his ranch. Barry works for the IRS and offers to take Tim to work to find Vollard’s ranch address, where they meet up with Barry’s boss and rival, Therman Murch (Zach Galifianakis) (who stole Barry’s wife), who displays his “mind control” power over Barry. Tim leaves the next day for his brunch with the Muellers but Barry crashes, with Darla pretending to be Julie, when he gets a call from Tim’s assistant telling him to bring a still missing Julie. Tim is pushed into asking Darla to marry him by Barry and Julie walks in during. Tim and Barry chase Julie down to Vollard’s ranch, where Tim accidentally offends Barry (which further hurts his and Julie’s relationship).

To his surprise, Tim found Barry already at Fender’s dinner party. Barry is a hit with the group and is a shoo-in for the trophy, but unexpectedly, Therman arrives, embarrassing Barry with his mind control. Tim then tells Barry everything and, after some encouragement, gets Barry to win with “brain control”, before causing his boss and fellow executives to reveal the truth. A guest reacts badly to the news and inadvertently causes chaos in the process, with Mueller losing a finger. A fire breaks out, while a bird brought by one of the guests flies away with Mueller’s finger. Tim is fired, as is Julie after Barry makes Vollard realize it would be a problem to have her continue working for him. In the end, Tim marries Julie, Barry enters into a relationship with Darla, does some artwork with Vollard, and hosts a monthly “breakfast for champions” for all of the losers. Therman writes a new book in the mental hospital and Tim gets a new museum started in Switzerland for Mueller. After the closing credits, it is revealed Fender’s company has gone under and the Forbes magazine has named him “Wall Street’s Biggest Loser.”

REVIEW:

One of the films that was overshadowed by the summer’s blockbusters (and flops) had to have been Dinner for Schmucks. Now, I purposefully waited until this was released on DVD to see it because it just didn’t seem like the kind of film one would need to waste the money for the skyrocketing price of a ticket on. Not to mention that I’m not really a fan of Paul Rudd. He annoys the living bejesus out of me!

This film is about a guy who is trying to get ahead in his stock firm. One day, in a meeting, he impresses his boss, who invites him to dinner and tells him that he needs to bring a “winner”. A while later, said guy accidentally hits his “winner” with his car, thus forming an uncomfortable friendship that makes the rest of the film.

The comedic pairing of Rudd and Steve Carrell really works here. I think this is some of their best work (sorry for you fans of The Office). They play off each other so perfectly, yet uncomfortably, that the audience really feels sorry for both of them.

Unknown actress, and hottie, Stephanie Szostak made a nice little debut in this film, though I didn’t really care for her character. I don’t know, she just seemed to be more of a nag or worrywart than anything else. I know there may be some of you that think otherwise, but that’s how I saw her.

Zach Galifiankis is only a supporting actor in this flick, but the brief time he’s on-screen, you definitely take notice…maybe even moreso that when the main cast is doing anything.

Jemaine Clement is another supporting character, like Galifiankis, who only is on-screen for a brief few minutes, but those are some of the most memorable moments in the film. Oddly enough, I just saw this guy in what I thought was over the top performing in Gentlemen Broncos, but this took that to another level.

The true highlight of this film has to be the dinner. After all, it’s in the title, right? The mixture of eclectic personalities there, including a cameo by Jeff Dunham and the return of Zach Galifianakis’ character from earlier in the film just made for quite the enjoyable, yet sad and pathetic, time.

Dinner for Schmucks is one of those film that will make you laugh and feel uncomfortable at the same time. Having said that, I did actually enjoy this flick, and I really didn’t think I would. Is it anything to brag about? No, but it does what it was meant to do and that is entertain the audience. After all isn’t that the primary objective of movies, anyway? I hope you check this one out.

4 out of 5 stars

Gentlemen Broncos

Posted in Comedy, Independent, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , on March 5, 2011 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

Gentlemen Broncos tells the story of a homeschooled teenage outcast and aspiring science fiction writer named Benjamin. He attends a writing workshop to show off his work but his idea, Yeast Lords – The Bronco Years, is plagiarized by the legendary fantasy novelist Ronald Chevalier, who has turned desperate for ideas after his publisher rejects his latest novel and informs him that they intend to drop him entirely. The story is also adapted into a disastrous movie by the small town’s most prolific homespun filmmaker.

REVIEW:

 The twisted minds that brought you Napoleon Dynamite now bring us Gentlemen Broncos. Many of the same elements are present here…outcast lead character, weird family life, obscure part of the country (either Alaska or Utah…not sure which one), odd supporting characters, etc.

So, what is this film about? Well, a homeschooled boy who lost his father has taken up writing science fiction and his mother sends him off to some home school writer’s camp of some sort. Here, he meets his hero, who doesn’t want to be there and eventually plagiarizes his manuscript.

During the film, whenever someone reads the story, we are privy to what the story is. When I was in high school, I watched this really bad, low-budget film called Galaxina. These scenes reminded me of that, or those Saturday Night Live sketches with Tracy Morgan as a spaceman (can’t remember the name off-hand).

I seriously have to wonder what is wrong with these Hess guys to create, let alone put these things on screen. It was like they went a middle school and got some kid to come up with a story and told them it would be on the big screen.

To make things worse, when Chevalier got his hands on the story, it got even worse, not as bad as the homemade version, though. That was almost unwatchable, let me tell you!

The comedic timing amongst the cast is a major selling point for this picture. They really sell the simplistic outlook of these characters, much in the same way the cast of Napoleon Dynamite did.

This is one strange film, let me tell you. Approach at your own risk. However, as out there as it is, there is also that train wreck mentality. What I mean by that is you just can’t look away. I guess the best way to give a recommendation is to think of it this way…when Napoleon Dynamite was released, people either loved or hated it. That is still the case today, and Gentlemen Broncos will probably strike your fancy or irk you to the point of no return. The only way to know is to check it out for yourself.

3 out of 5 stars