Archive for Josh Gad

Beauty & the Beast (2017)

Posted in Family, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 17, 2017 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

In Rococo-era France, an enchantress disguised as an old beggar woman offers an enchanted rose to a prince in exchange for shelter from a storm, but he refuses. For his arrogance, she places a spell that transforms him into a monstrous beast, turns the servants into anthropomorphic household objects, and erases the castle from the villagers’ memories of loved ones. She gives the Beast a magic mirror that shows faraway events and leaves him the enchanted rose. To break the spell, the prince must learn to love another and earn her love in return before the rose’s last petal falls, otherwise he will remain a beast forever and his servants will lose their remaining humanity.

Years later in the village of Villeneuve, a young woman, Belle, lives with her father Maurice, an artist and tinkerer. Gaston, a celebrated former soldier, seeks her hand in marriage, but she is repulsed by his arrogance and narcissism. On a trip to the market to sell music boxes, Maurice and his horse Philippe lose their way in the forest and are attacked by wolves. They seek refuge at the castle, but Maurice is imprisoned by the Beast as penance for taking a rose from the garden. When she realizes her father is missing upon Philippe’s sudden arrival, Belle ventures into the forest in search for him, and finds him locked in one of the castle’s towers. The Beast confronts her and accepts her offer to take her father’s place, despite Maurice’s objections.

Belle befriends the servants in the castle: Lumière, Cogsworth, Plumette, Madame de Garderobe, Mrs. Potts, and Chip. After the servants treated her with dinner, she eventually wanders into the forbidden west wing and finds the rose. The Beast, enraged, frightens Belle into fleeing into the woods. However, he later rescues her from a pack of wolves but gets injured in the process. Belle escorts him back to the castle and nurses him back to health. A friendship develops, and the servants tell her she may be the one who can break the curse. The Beast develops feelings for Belle and allows her access to his library. However, Belle remains uncertain of her feelings due to her imprisonment. The Beast shows Belle a gift the enchantress gave him, a book that could take people wherever they wanted. Belle uses it to bring the Beast and herself to the attic of an old windmill in Paris, where she used to live with her parents as an infant. Upon finding a plague doctor mask, Belle discovers that she and her father were forced to leave her mother’s deathbed as the latter succumbed to the plague.

Meanwhile, Maurice returns to Villeneuve but is unable to convince the others to rescue Belle. Gaston agrees to help Maurice, but when he reveals that he only agreed to help Maurice in order to win his favor to give Belle to Gaston in marriage, Maurice refuses. In response, Gaston ties up Maurice in the forest to be killed by wolves. Maurice is rescued by a hermit, Agathe and confronts Gaston, accusing him of committing an attempted murder, but Gaston convinces the townsfolk to send Maurice to the local insane asylum.

After sharing a romantic dance with the Beast, Belle discovers her father’s predicament using the magic mirror. The Beast releases her to save Maurice, giving her the mirror to remember him with. At Villeneuve, Belle proves Maurice’s sanity by revealing the Beast in the mirror to the townsfolk. Realizing that Belle loves the Beast, Gaston furiously has her thrown into the asylum carriage with her father and rallies the villagers to follow him to the castle to slay the Beast. Maurice and Belle escape from confinement and Belle rushes back to the castle while Maurice deals with Monsieur D’Arque, the asylum keeper.

During the ensuing fight, Gaston abandons his companion LeFou, who sides with the servants to fend off the villagers. Gaston attacks the Beast in his tower, who is initially too depressed to fight back, but regains his will upon seeing Belle return. He corners Gaston but spares his life before reuniting with Belle. However, Gaston fatally shoots the Beast in the back before the stone bridge he is standing on collapses beneath him, and Gaston falls to his death. The Beast dies as the last rose petal falls and the castle’s servants become completely inanimate. Belle professes her love to him, then Agathe reveals herself to be the enchantress and undoes the curse, restoring the Beast’s life and human form. The servants’ humanity and the villagers’ memories are also restored, with several villagers recognizing some of the servants as their relatives. The Prince and Belle host a ball for the kingdom, where they dance happily.

REVIEW:

One of the most beloved Disney movies of all time, or least since the Disney Renaissance is Beauty & the Beast. When a live action film was announced to be in production, you can imagine the outcry of rage and, conversely, support. For me, I try to wait until I see the finished product before I judge. Well, I just finished seeing it. Time to judge!

What is this about?

Disney’s animated classic takes on a new form, with a widened mythology and an all-star cast. A young prince, imprisoned in the form of a beast, can be freed only by true love. What may be his only opportunity arrives when he meets Belle, the only human girl to ever visit the castle since it was enchanted.

What did I like?

Bring me to life. Many have tried to bring animation to life (see the recently released Ghost in the Shell). While we are curious as to what these world would look like, it just doesn’t seem to work. That is, unless you are Disney! They literally took the beloved animated classic, made very few changes, toned it down a bit for today’s cynical audience and voila! Everything is here from the opening sequence with Belle singing, the wolves attacking Beast in the woods, the iconic ballroom scene, and even the fight with the villagers at the end. Much care was given to this project to make sure everything was exactly right and it shows!

Crazy old Maurice. In the original, we don’t get to know much about Maurice, other than he’s Belle’s father and some kind of crackpot inventor. Also, if that last scene is to believed, he may have started a little something with Mrs. Potts, but that’s open to interpretation. I really appreciate how this film gave us a little bit more insight not only into Maurice, but introduced new characters, or characters whom we didn’t know their names, such as Plumette, the feather duster Lumiere is in love with, Madame de Garderobe, the wardrobe, etc. If only we would have gotten a bit more about life before they got turned into appliances and such.

Visuals. This is a beautiful film. I don’t think I’ve seen a more beautiful sight than when the camera pans back in the opening and we get a good look at the castle. That’s just the start of it, though. Without spoiling anything, your eyes are in for a treat the deeper you get into this film.

What didn’t I like?

Be original. While I appreciated the film for bringing a beloved classic to life, I can’t help but feel like they could have done something more with this material. No, I’m not talking about furthering Emma Watson’s feminist agenda, but give us something new with this story. For instance, Maleficent was told from a different point of view. Imagine if this was told from, let’s say Lefou’s point of view?

Where was the fear? I was not impressed with the look of the Beast. Sure, they tried to make him look more animal, but he had too much of a human look to him for my taste. Much like with superheroes, I feel they were trying to keep the actor’s face in the public, rather than giving us a true frightful looking beast. Also, they may have had something more blood curdling in mind, but this is a kid’s movie when all is said and done, so I can understand that. Still, the animated version was a kids film and there were times when Beast gave us jump scares. Not so much with the live action version, though.

Realistically creepy. I’ve had issues with the servants since I first saw what they did with Mrs. Potts. First off, let me say that I have no problem with the casting. My issue is with the look. These days it seems as if we want everything to look as realistic as possible. Well, the nightmare inducing versions of Cogsworth, Lumiere, Mrs. Potts, etc. are on all of you that want things to be as real as possible. I mean, seriously, this is a fairy tale about and prince who gets turned into a beast and his servants that become the household objects in the castle. What is real about that?!? *SIGH*

Final verdict on Beauty & the Beast? Very solid for a live action remake of a beloved animated classic. The music is taken straight from the original, with a few changes here and there. The acting is solid, plenty of laughs to go around, and the new characters fit right in with the ones we already know and love. The problems I have with this film are very small, but they do add up. So, do I recommend this? Yes, especially if you’re looking for a good date or family film to check out or just want a bit of nostalgia. Check it out!

4 1/2 out of 5 stars

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The Angry Birds Movie

Posted in Animation, Family, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 2, 2017 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

In the 3D animated comedy, The Angry Birds Movie, we’ll finally find out why the birds are so angry. The movie takes us to an island populated entirely by happy, flightless birds–or almost entirely. In this paradise, Red (Jason Sudeikis), a bird with a temper problem, speedy Chuck (Josh Gad), and the volatile Bomb (Danny McBride) have always been outsiders. But when the island is visited by mysterious green piggies, it’s up to these unlikely outcasts to figure out what the pigs are up to.

What people are saying:

“The game “Angry Birds,” at its core, is a destination for switching off your brain. And movies, even throw-away summer animated kid films, should aim for something more.” 1 star

“This movie suffers from the problem of the trailer giving away all the best scenes. I expected a lot more humor, since the trailer was actually pretty hilarious, but unfortunately they just crammed all the humor into that two minute trailer and the rest was just kind of… there. The animation isn’t anything to write home about, and the plot is really pretty simple. It was cute, and I’ve certainly seen worse, but I wouldn’t be tempted to see it again. ” 3 stars

“This isn’t a movie. It’s a colorful, unfunny headache, that utilizes Limp Bizkit in an unironic way, and whose funniest aspect is a mime…yes, a mime.” 1 star

“The Angry Birds movie was one of the best surprises of 2016 for me. It could have been the complete lack of expectations but the animation, character & set design, lighting, and dialogue quality had me reeling and constantly smiling at how entertained I was. Unfortunately, despite its unshakable quality during the first half of the movie, it suffers a disappointing hit in quality regarding story development and gags more or less exactly from the point wherein toilet humour is (somewhat literally) introduced. Despite its faults, this movie holds a special place in my heart for making me feel so very, very good.” 4 stars

“I went into this movie with no idea what to expect. The Angry Birds Movie is arguably the best video game adapted movie ever made, which sadly isn’t saying very much. For once, I agree with the critic consensus-this movie is way more entertaining than it has any right to be. Some of the humor is forced and some is just bad, but most of it is pretty funny. The final attack on Piggy Island is pulled straight from the games with some new stuff added in-and that’s exactly why it’s so great. The opening scene is a little forced and awkward, but there’s enough good in the rest of the movie to make up for it. Probably the best thing this movie has going for it is the voice cast. Andy Sudeikis, Bill Hader, Josh Gad, Peter Dinklage, Danny McBride, and Sean Penn are all perfectly cast, and the others are all great.” 3 stars

Frozen

Posted in Animation, Family, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 19, 2014 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Elsa, princess of Arendelle, possesses the magical ability to create ice and snow. One night while playing, she accidentally injures her younger sister, Anna. The king and queen seek help from the troll king, who heals Anna and removes her memories of Elsa’s magic. The royal couple isolates the children in their castle until Elsa learns to control her powers. Afraid of hurting Anna again, Elsa spends most of her time alone in her room, causing a rift between the girls as they grow up. When the girls are teenagers, their parents die at sea during a storm.

When Elsa comes of age, the kingdom prepares for her coronation. Among the guests is the Duke of Weselton, who seeks to exploit Arendelle for profit. Excited to be allowed out of the castle again, Anna explores the town and meets Prince Hans of the Southern Isles, and the two immediately develop a mutual attraction. Despite Elsa’s fear, her coronation goes off without incident. During the reception, Hans proposes and Anna hastily accepts. However, Elsa refuses to grant her blessing and forbids their sudden marriage. The sisters argue, culminating in the exposure of Elsa’s abilities during an emotional outburst.

Panicking, Elsa flees the castle, while inadvertently unleashing an eternal winter on the kingdom. High in the nearby mountains, she casts off restraint, building herself a solitary ice palace, and unknowingly brings to life her and Anna’s childhood snowman, Olaf. Meanwhile, Anna sets out in search of her sister, determined to return her to Arendelle, end the winter, and mend their relationship. While obtaining supplies, she meets mountain man Kristoff and his reindeer Sven. She convinces Kristoff to guide her up the North Mountain. The group then encounters Olaf, who leads them to Elsa’s hideaway.

Anna and Elsa reunite, but Elsa still fears hurting her sister. When Anna persists in persuading her sister to return, Elsa becomes agitated and accidentally strikes Anna in the heart with her powers. Horrified, Elsa creates a giant snow creature to drive Anna, Kristoff, and Olaf away. As they flee, Kristoff notices Anna’s hair is turning white, and deduces something is very wrong. He seeks help from the trolls, his adoptive family, who explain that Anna’s heart has been frozen. Unless it is thawed by an “act of true love”, she will become frozen solid forever. Believing that only Hans can save Anna, Kristoff races back with her to Arendelle.

Meanwhile, Hans, leading a search for Anna, reaches Elsa’s palace. In the ensuing battle against the Duke’s men, Elsa is knocked unconscious and imprisoned back at the kingdom. There, Hans pleads with her to undo the winter, but Elsa confesses she doesn’t know how. When Anna reunites with Hans and begs him to kiss her to break the curse, Hans refuses and reveals that his true intention in marrying her was to seize control of Arendelle’s throne. Leaving Anna to die, he charges Elsa with treason for her younger sister’s apparent death.

Elsa escapes and heads out into the blizzard on the fjord. Olaf finds Anna and reveals Kristoff is in love with her; they then escape onto the fjord to find him. Hans confronts Elsa and tells her Anna is dead because of her. In Elsa’s despair, the storm suddenly ceases, giving Kristoff and Anna the chance to find each other. However Anna, seeing that Hans is about to kill Elsa, decides to throw herself between the two just as she freezes solid, blocking Hans’ attack.

As Elsa grieves for her sister, Anna begins to thaw, since her decision to sacrifice herself to save her sister constitutes an “act of true love”. Realizing love is the key to controlling her powers, Elsa is able to thaw the kingdom and even helps Olaf survive in summer. Hans is sent back to the Southern Isles to face punishment for his crimes against the royal family of Arendelle, and Elsa cuts off trade with Weselton. Anna and Kristoff share a kiss, and the two sisters reconcile; Elsa promises never to shut the castle gates again.

REVIEW:

It was recently brought to my attention that Disney had shut down their traditional animation department. Now, everything will be done by computers, except for the stuff on Disney Channel and Disney X D such as Phineas & Ferb. With this news, I was ready to boycott Frozen, until I heard how great it was. Curiosity has gripped me since its release back in November, and now it is time to see what all the hype was about.

What is this about?

After her kingdom is doomed to suffer from eternal winter, intrepid Anna goes on a quest to find her reclusive sister, the Snow Queen, and break the curse. Along the way, Anna teams with eccentric mountaineer Kristoff and his comic reindeer, Sven.

What did I like?

Powers. This has been a fairly rough winter here in the states. I think we can all agree on that point. Hell, it even snowed…twice…down here in south Louisiana!!! What does this have to do with anything? Well, Else has massive amounts of ice power. Aside from the Game of Thrones memes that were going around, a running joke was that someone has pissed off Else and she was making everything so cold. I got a chuckle out of it, but not that I’ve watched the film and saw what immense power she has, it makes more sense. Want to know how much power she has? If you’re a comic book fan, think of the amount of power Jean Grey and/or Storm have when they aren’t in control and mix that with Iceman’s power and you have Elsa.

Writing. Not to take anything away from the latest Pixar creations, but Disney animation seems to have stepped up their game while Pixar seems to be falling off. Of course, John Lassiter, who was head of Pixar is now leading Disney, so that could be a part of it, right? At any rate, this is the kind of story we would expect in the days when Disney was still alive or during the Disney Renaissance, arguably the two best eras for Disney animation. Each of these characters is well developed and thought out and, as an audience, we can share the emotions that they seem to be going through. Lesser Disney films would have just stuck a funny sidekick in there to distract from the film’s flaws.

Musical. What was the last true musical that we saw on the big screen, animated or otherwise? I’m tempered to say Les Miserables, but I think there has been something in between that I just can’t think of right now. Having a film that actually delivers on being a fairytale musical the way Disney used to do. Of course, it is hard to escape the film’s most popular song, “Let It Go”, which is belted out with authority by Idina Menzel in what can be described as the flick’s showstoping musical number.

What didn’t I like?

Olaf. Enter the token comic relief character, a friendly little snowman named Olaf. What is wrong with the guy? Well, nothing really, except that he mysteriously appears, conveniently, when things start getting too serious. I’m all for comic relief, and the way they use Olaf was sparingly, but he was never really brought to life, especially when it was shown that Elsa’s giant bodyguard snowman was brought to life. Maybe I’m just nitpicking, though.

Baddie. A fairytale without your typical antagonist looming over everything just doesn’t have the same effect. Take out the likes of Jafar, Maleficent, Ursala, Capt. Hook etc., and see what you have? Not much of a story, right? By not having a true antagonist, at least until the end, this film manages to cover new ground by making one of the protagonists an ersatz antagonist, even though she does nothing to make her one. That is just the result of the way the townspeople treated her as she ran out of town, and of course the fact that she built a castle of solitude (a quite impressive one, I might add) probably played into that ideal.

Wicked. Maybe it is just my  desire for a Wicked movie, but I felt as if this had similar themes. That isn’t bad, but when you cast Idina Menzel, is was a bit of a tease. I wonder if they had Kristin Chenoweth in mind for Anna, because that would have just been a giant cock tease for everyone. All that aside, the similar themes aren’t exact, so don’t misunderstand me, but the sisters trying to help reminded me of that Broadway play and yes, I know that is a bit of a stretch.

I still miss traditional hand drawn animation, but if there was going to be a film that could convert me, perhaps Frozen would be it (but not likely). I don’t want to poo poo all over this film, but I honestly don’t see why everyone is so ga ga over it. Yes, it is really good and entertaining, but the way people are reacting to it, one would think it was done by ghost of Walt Disney himself. Still, it is nice to see a film that goes back to fairytale musical that works so well. Maybe this is the start of another Disney Renaissance? Do I recommend this? Yes, very enthusiastically. I would even venture to say this is a must see before you die kind of film!

4 3/4 out of 5 stars

The Internship

Posted in Comedy, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 21, 2013 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Billy McMahon (Vaughn) and Nick Campbell (Wilson) seek employment after being laid off from their positions as watch salesmen when their employer goes out of business. Billy then applies for an internship at Google for the two of them, and they are accepted due to their unorthodox interview answers, despite a lack of relevant experience; they are the only interns not of traditional collegiate age. They will spend the summer competing in teams against other interns, also known as “Nooglers”, in a variety of tasks, and only the members of the winning team will be guaranteed jobs with Google. Billy and Nick are teamed with other interns seen as rejects: Stuart, who is usually engrossed in his smart phone; Yo-Yo, an Asian-American boy who was homeschooled by a stereotypical overbearing Asian mother; and Neha, an Indian-American girl who is an enthusiast of nerd-related kink. The team is led by Lyle, who constantly tries to act hip in order to hide his insecurities. Another intern, Graham, aggressively bullies Billy and Nick’s team. Mr. Chetty, the head of the internship program, also expresses his doubts about the older men’s abilities. Stuart, Yo-Yo, and Neha see Billy and Nick as useless during a task focused on debugging, and send them on a wild goose chase. But later, during a game of Muggle Quidditch against Graham’s team, Billy rallies his team to a comeback that unifies them as a team despite ultimately losing.

When the teams are tasked with developing an app, Billy and Nick convince the team to indulge in a wild night out. At a strip club, Neha admits to Billy that, despite her rich fantasy life, she has no real-world experience and is nervous; with his support, she decides to stay. Nick gets Yo-Yo to break out of his shell by drinking and receiving lap dances. And, encouraged by Billy, Lyle approaches one of the dancers, Marielena, who is also a dance instructor at Google on whom he had developed a crush. She is charmed by him, but another customer challenges Lyle for her attention and a fight breaks out; the team is ejected from the club. Before sunrise that same night, overlooking the Golden Gate Bridge, Stuart learns to appreciate his surroundings, and Lyle’s drunken antics inspire the team to create an app that guards against reckless phone usage while drunk; they win the task by earning the most downloads.

Meanwhile, Nick has been flirting with an executive, Dana, with little success. When he begins attending technical presentations to impress her, he takes a real interest in the material. While the teams prepare to staff the technical support hotline, only Billy feels at a loss. A Google employee, “Headphones”, who always wears headphones and had not been seen to talk to anyone, approaches Billy and tells him that the way he interacts with people is special. He tutors Billy on the technical information. Dana agrees to go on a date with Nick, and she invites him in at the end of the evening. During the task, Billy is comfortable with the material, but his team receives no score because he failed to properly log his calls for review. Dejected, Billy leaves Google to pursue a new sales opportunity with his former boss. The final task is announced as a sales challenge; teams must sign the largest possible company to begin advertising with Google. The team is stunned when Nick tells them that Billy has left, and they declare that they do not want to do the task without him. Nick convinces Billy to return, and Billy leads the team to show a local pizzeria owner how Google can help connect him with potential customers and how Internet resources can help him expand the business while remaining true to his professional values.

The team arrives during the final assembly just as the winners are to be announced; but the official rules allow them to present their results even at the last moment. The screen behind Chetty shows all the team members dancing with giant afros and Billy is throwing pizza at everyone. Chetty recognizes that although the pizzeria is not a large business, its potential is now limitless because it has embraced technology. Graham protests and is dressed down by Headphones, who turns out to be the head of Google Search. Nick, Billy, Stuart, Yo-Yo, and Neha are declared the winners and will receive jobs at Google, which the latter three will start after their senior years in college. As the students depart, Nick and Dana are still seeing each other, as are Lyle and Marielena. Stuart and Neha have formed a romantic connection, as well, and Yo-Yo asserts himself to his mother.

REVIEW:

In this economy, is it any surprise that people are losing their jobs and having to go back and learn new skills? It shouldn’t be. Someone got the masterful idea to take this notion and create a comedy, The Internship. I’m not so sure if this was a good or bad idea, when all is said and done, though.

What is this about?

Two out-of-work salesmen, lacking the digital-savvy skills they need to find jobs, sign on as interns at a high-tech company. While their new assignment may give them the training they need, it also means staying one step ahead of their ignorance.

What did I like?

Google. I don’t know if Google really is like they have it portrayed here, but if it is, I’m going to quit my job and become an intern out there…even though I know little to nothing about computers. Still, the film makes the place out to be this giant playland, of sorts, for computer geeks. Throw in the free food, places where you can actually take a nap during working hours, and free coffee (if you drink it), and that place could be heaven!

Culture gap. Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson’s characters are a bit older than the rest of the interns. This is no more obvious that when it comes to various references that expose the culture gap between the generations, such as quoting the plot from Flashdance or various books/video games of today. Some of the funnier parts of the film are watching as these scenes unfold, especially the quest to find Professor X!

Quidditch. One of the things that I loved the most about the Harry Potter books and films was Quidditch. To this day, I still wonder if there was a way to actually create some sort of real version of the sport. Well, we finally got that, sort of, with a quick game amongst the intern teams. The way it was just as brutal as soccer and yet still a friendly game, until the golden snitch shows up. I’ll leave you to see what happens after that.

What didn’t I like?

Union Jack. How is it possible that someone who is actually British has an accent that sounds so fake? Seriously, I have to question this guy’s British-ness with that horrible accent. As a character, he wasn’t bad. He actually was a decent antagonist, even if all he did was give evil looks and sowed the seed of doubt in Vince Vaughn’s character. Still, that accent was not something I could get past.

Interns. I felt the interns were great, but would have liked to have learned more about them. This film is already too long, so I hesitate to say we needed some background on them, but I did feel that all of the time was spent on the group leader. Personally, I felt each of them had something to bring to the table and would have liked to have gotten more from Tiya Sircar’s character, who seems to have a fetish for nerdy stuff.

Formulaic. We’ve all seen these films where you can pretty much tell what is going to happen once it gets going, right? Well, this is another one of those. Pretty much from the minute these guys walk into Google, you can tell what is going to happen. Nothing can’t be predicted. Is it so wrong to want an original script these days? Is that too much to ask? If you must rehash this formula, then at least do it well and/or bring something new and fresh to the party.

Tired. Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson have been doing the same thing throughout their entire career. Wilson, who I already am not a fan of, plays the sensitive, soft-spoken guy who ends up with the hot chick. Vaughn plays the big, fast talking guy. In their teleconference interview, the two of them were so busy trying to outdo each other that I nearly turned the film off, for fear that I wouldn’t be able to take these two. If they must insist on the same shtick for the rest of their careers, then they need to do it separately, because together, while they have great chemistry, they hard to stomach.

The Internship is a film that has its moments, but not enough to make it worth your time. With that said, had this film been released at least a couple of years ago, it surely would have been a hit, but as it stands, it feels as it is dated, and not in a good, nostalgic way. Do I recommend this flick? I can’t say that I do, but it isn’t bad enough to totally avoid. I would say that if you must watch, wait a couple of years for it to show up on the basic cable stations and you’re sure to be able to watch it then.

2 3/4 out of 5 stars

 

Ice Age: Continental Drift

Posted in Animation, Family, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 27, 2013 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

In an attempt to bury his acorn, Scrat inadvertently causes the break up of Pangaea. Meanwhile Manny and Ellie must deal with the trials and tribulations of their daughter Peaches, now a teenager desiring to fit in with her peers. Ellie is fine about that, but Manny becomes extremely over-protective. Peaches’ only friend is Louis, a molehog, tries to protect her as she tries to approach a mammoth named Ethan whom she has a crush on. Sid’s family returns, only long enough to drop off the elderly Granny before abandoning them both again. When Manny catches Peaches sneaking off to meet Ethan, they argue and fallout. Shortly afterward, a continental break-up separates Manny from the herd. Trapped on a moving chunk of ice with Sid and Diego, Manny has no choice but to ride out the current. Meanwhile a giant land shift encroaches on Ellie, Peaches, and those remaining on land, causing them make their way toward the land bridge.

At sea, violent weather pushes Manny and the others further away from land while Scrat, in a side adventure, finds an acorn that has a treasure map on it that directs him towards an island. Soon, after Manny, Sid, and Diego find Granny (who was sleeping inside a hollow tree stump, on the ice raft), they are captured by a band of pirates sailing on a floating iceberg as a ship led by a Gigantopithecus, Captain Gutt, who attempts to press gang them into his crew; when they refuse Gutt tries to make them walk the plank. Manny, Sid, Diego, Granny and Scrat (who was also taken captive) escape, but cause the ship to sink and Gutt’s first mate, a female sabertooth named Shira joins them out of no choice of her own.

They then find Switchback Cove, which has a current that would direct them home, but after washing ashore a remote island, Shira escapes and tells Gutt and the pirate crew (who are also on the island) of their whereabouts. Gutt, wanting revenge on Manny for sinking his ship, plans an attack. Along with the hyrax inhabitants of the island, Manny coordinates a plan to steal Gutt’s new ship to return home. Shira decides to leave Gutt, when she and Diego begin to fall in love, but she stays behind to ensure Gutt doesn’t catch the herd. Gutt and his pirates quickly make a new iceberg ship to sail after the herd, determined to get revenge. Meanwhile, Scrat, using one of the hyrax’s leaf “planes”, flies off the island, only to be swallowed by a shark.

Peaches finally begins to fit in with the mammoths her age, but accidentally insults Louis, who is referred to as a freak by the others, by saying they are not friends. When she sees the other teens’ careless disregard to the danger, she turns her back on them, warning that their extinction will come sooner than they think.

As they are sailing back, Diego, Sid, and Granny encounter monstrous sirens taking the shapes of what the group finds most attractive. Fortunately, Manny realizes this after hearing a siren, disguised as Ellie tell him something she would never say and saves them at the last second. Later, Scrat encounters a siren, taking on the shapes of Scratte (that Scrat ignores) then an acorn. Scrat immediately runs up and attempts to bury the “acorn”, but is attacked by other sirens and escapes unharmed.

Manny, Sid, Diego, and Granny soon return home only to find the land bridge destroyed in the earthquakes and Gutt and his crew made it there first and have captured Ellie and Peaches. Louis stands up for Peaches and a battle ensues between the herd and the pirates. Shira frees Ellie and helps fend off her former comrades, while Granny’s previously unseen (and claimed imaginary) pet whale, Precious, appears and turns the tables on the rest of the lot. Gutt then attempts to kill Ellie but Peaches, using her possum-like skills, manages to save her. Manny defeats Gutt in a duel and reunites with his family and friends. Later, Gutt encounters a siren taking on the shape of a female of his species and is eaten.With their home destroyed, the entire party and inhabitants then sail to an island that they found to settle down. Manny allows Peaches to “have an adventure” having gained a new respect for her and toward Louis. Shira joins the herd and becomes Diego’s girlfriend, while Louis becomes a hero among the teenage mammoths.

At the end of his journey, Scrat discovers the island on the map, know as Scratlantis (a mock up of Atlantis), but his uncontrollable urge to hunt acorns in the acorn-rich city inadvertently causes the entire island to sink and Scrat is ejected into what is now known as Death Valley.

REVIEW:

I have issues with films that just release sequels for the sake of making money, as opposed to telling a good story. My feelings toward such films turns to rage and hatred when it seems as if each film gets worse. Ice Age: Continental Drift is said by many critics to be the best of a series that should have died along with the dinosaurs.

What is this about?

The animated Ice Age series tacks on a game-changing fourth act when unexpected events set the continent in motion, sending Manny (voiced by Ray Romano), Diego (Denis Leary) and Sid (John Leguizamo) away from Ellie (Queen Latifah) and the herd and into the vastness of the open sea. The world around them is forever changed, but at least one thing remains the same: their ability to make the most of extreme climate change.

What did I like?

Pirates. I hear everyone raving about Peter Dinklage in Game of Thrones, but I’ve only seen one episode since we don’t have HBO. I best know him as Simon Barsinister in Underdog and the male nanny in a few episodes of Nip/Tuck. The guy has some real acting chops, as he puts on display here as the pirate captain Gutt. Truth be told, I don’t remember much of the other Ice Age films, but Gutt and the other pirates are something to remember about this film, a much needed shot in the arm. Someone should consider a spinoff!

Scrat. A lot of people would argue that Scrat is the best thing about this franchise. You’ll get no argument from me. The things this little squirrel does just to get that acorn are highlights of the film. I just wish there was more of them, and not just what equates to a bunch of shorts featuring him.

Animation. Going back to the first Ice Age and comparing the animation to this one, it is quite obvious that two things have happened. Technology has advanced quite a ways and the animators have gotten better at what they do, because this is some gorgeous computer animation, which is saying something coming from me, someone who isn’t a fan of CG.

What didn’t I like?

Too many. It seems like in each film, they keep adding on characters. At some point, they just need to stop because, as we can see here, it hard to give each of them decent screen time. Take for instance, Ellie, she was just left over on land with her daughter, who had her own little story going on. If not for some motherly advice moments, she probably wouldn’t have been seen until the very end, if at all, once we got past that point. All the little ancillary characters that we saw in previous films and had actual relevance are there in the beginning and show up at the end as if they were a major part of the production, but up to that moment, who really even thought about them?

Rappers do not equal actors. Rappers Nicki Minaj and Drake somehow managed to get cast in this. Nicki Minaj is quickly making her way up my most hated list, mainly because she has no talent and is on a show judging singers (when she’s supposedly a rapper). Her lines were painful to listen to, but I think has I seen this before this season of American Idol started, the images of her “judging” wouldn’t be so ingrained in m head that I can’t give her fair judgement. Drake on the other hand was actually an actor at one time. It came to attention this week that he had a fairly major role in the Canadian teen drama Degrassi: Next Generation. The guy has talent, I just don’t think this was the right role for him. Sure he’s not Lil’ Wayne or Wiz Khalifa, but he still doesn’t exactly scream clean-cut, family entertainer. On that point, go back to when Queen Latifah was a rapper, and you could’ve said that same thing about her.

Stagnant. For me, this film felt a lot like a franchise that is stuck in neutral. It wants to keep going, but doesn’t know how to kick it into the next gear. Personally, I think the way this ended would be a way to end the franchise (same can be said for the others, I’m sure). If they want this to keep going, then do it with new characters. It is high time Manny, Sid, Diego, & company are put to rest. Of course, it will be just our luck that these films keep going, forgetting what they were originally about, and the next thing we know there are about 50 sequels that no one cares about. Seriously, all those sequels to The Land Before Time did was tarnish the legacy of the original…and I believe they are still making those things!!!

Is Ice Age: Continental Drift the best of the franchise? Perhaps, but as I stated earlier, I can barely remember anything about those previous films. This one at least has some memorable moments, highlighted by some great action scenes. Is this enough to justify the need for this to have been made or that this franchise keep going? The answer to that is an emphatic no. Kids will love this, though, and adults will get a kick out of some points here and there, but as a whole, I wouldn’t really recommend this, unless you’re doing an Ice Age marathon.

3 out of 5 stars

Love & Other Drugs

Posted in Comedy, Drama, Movie Reviews, Romantic with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 23, 2011 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

In the year 1996, Jamie (Gyllenhaal), who works at an electronics store, is fired for sleeping with his manager’s girlfriend. After his parents find out and criticize Jamie for leaving medical school, his wealthy brother Josh (Josh Gad) offers to find him a job as a medical representative. Jamie goes to work for Pfizer and tries to get doctors to prescribe Zoloft and Zithromax. He is rebuffed constantly much to the dismay of his partner Bruce (Oliver Platt), who sees Jamie as his ticket to the “big leagues” of Chicago. Bruce tells Jamie if he can get Dr. Knight (Hank Azaria) to prescribe Zoloft instead of Prozac, all the other doctors will follow his lead. Jamie uses his skills as a womanizer to gain access to Dr. Knight through his female staffers.

Jamie meets one of Knight’s patients, Maggie Murdock (Hathaway), who suffers from early onset Parkinson’s disease. Jamie arranges a date with her, which lasts only minutes before they return to her apartment and have sex.

In the hospital parking lot, Jamie is beaten up by the top-selling Prozac rep Trey, also one of Maggie’s lovers, who warns Jamie to stay away from her and the doctors. That night, Jamie goes to Maggie’s apartment, and they start having sex but Jamie is unable to get an erection. Maggie teases him that he should use the new erection drug, Viagra, that his company has developed. Jamie starts selling Viagra, which becomes very popular with the doctors.

Jamie tries to convince Maggie to have a fuller relationship with him, but she refuses. The next day, Maggie is helping senior citizens onto a bus bound for Canada to get cheap prescription drugs when Jamie shows up. They argue about their relationship and she leaves. Jamie waits in the parking lot, and the next day when the bus comes back, Maggie is touched that he waited and tells him she will have a relationship with him.

Jamie asks Maggie to go to a medical conference with him in Chicago. While at the conference she is invited to a Parkinson’s convention across the street. She is moved by the people and their stories. She asks Jamie to come over and join her and he meets a man whose wife is in the final stages of the disease. Jamie asks for advice about Maggie, and the man tells him to run. This shakes Jamie. After the convention, Maggie tells him how much she loves him.

Jamie starts researching Parkinson’s and pushing Knight for information on specialists. He starts taking Maggie to a specialist and paying for her to have tests done. At one office Jamie becomes upset because their appointment was rescheduled after they had flown in to see the doctor. While Jamie is yelling at the receptionist, Maggie walks out. They fight and Maggie says there is no cure. Maggie sees that Jamie can only love her with the hope that one day there will be a cure, and so she breaks up with him.

Some time later, Jamie goes to meet Bruce for dinner and runs into Maggie, who is on a date. Bruce shows up and says that Jamie has been promoted to the Chicago office. Jamie goes home and starts to pack but realizes he wants to be with Maggie and goes to the diner where she works. Her boss tells him she has left for Canada to obtain drugs and Jamie goes off after her. Jamie flags down the bus Maggie is on. Maggie gets off and says that Jamie has five minutes to talk. He tells Maggie about how she makes him a better person, that he loves her and needs her. She starts to cry and says she will need him more. The film ends with Maggie and Jamie living together with Jamie refusing the Chicago promotion, and enrolling in medical school.

REVIEW:

I seem to be watching alot of movies based on book here lately. Perhaps this is just the warmup for the summer blockbusters that are almost all comic book films…at least the ones that I’m excited about, anyway.

So, Love & Other Drugs is another in this line of films I’ve watched that was based on a book. I’ve never read the actual book, but speculation among those who have seen this film and read the novel is that they used very little from the source material. I’m no fan of departing from the source material, but after watching the film, specifically the second half, I can live with the departure if it lightened it up a little.

The film revolves around Jamie, who comes from what appears to be a rich, or at least well-to-do family, but he hasn’t made anything of himself, yet. Whereas his siblings are doing well for themselves. For instance, his brother is some sort of internet millionaire or something. Jamie does have the “gift of gab” as someone put it, which would make him the ideal salesman, and at the suggestion of his brother, he becomes a pharmaceutical salesman. This is how he ends up in the Ohio River Valley area (it is never said exactly what city or state). Up there, as he is getting he feet wet in the sales world, he meets Maggie, a young photographer who has stage I Parkinson’s Disease. The two have lots…and i do me mean LOTS…of sexbefore Jamie suddenly gets all serious and wants a relationship. This is a romantic comedy, so you can guess that this, coupled with the Parkinson’s stuff is where the comedy stops and the drama begins.

Many who have seen this seem to be saying the same thing. It feels like two different films. The first half, which is the kind of stuff we guys like sex and jokes and such, whereas the second half is all about feelings, relationships, and all that sappy stuff that women are into.

Being a guy, I obviously preferred the first half, but the second half wasn’t bad. I think what turned me off was the sudden change in tone. I’m a big fan of films that keep the same tone throughout. If you’re going to be all serious, then do it from the get-go. If you’re going to be light-hearted and funny, then do so.

With this film, and such a heavy topic, such as a major disease like Parkinson’s, I think it would have been better served to keep it light, and not get so serious. I have no problem with some serious scenes here and there, but to change the entire tone of the film, just sort of ruined it for me.

Going back to the first half of the film, though, it was sheer brilliance. On top of being funny, there were plenty of skin shown. I heard someone say in a reve that these were some of the most realistic sex scenes done on-screen, because they didn’t cover up afterwards. Usually, women have sex, and then get all modest, whereas, here, Anne Hathaway just gets up and struts around afterwards. I’m exaggerating, of course, but you get the picture.

The chemistry between Jake Gyllenhaal and Anne Hathaway is priceless. We’re talking up there with some of the premiere cinema couples like Humphrey & Bogart, Astaire & Rogers, etc. Yes, they are that good together.

In terms of their individual performances, Gyllenhaal gives one of his best, but then again, he rarely does anything bad, even if the film isn’t that great. This character seems to have been written just for him, as he totally owns it.

For me, it was hard to see Anne Hathaway run through the first half of the film naked. Don’t get me wrong, I could watch her nude anytime…unless I had just finished watching portions of The Princess Diaries the night before. It kind of threw me for a loop. On the same token, she has really come into her own as an actress that many thought would have disappeared by now. This is truly a meaty role. She had to be not only sexy and funny, but a little bit on the damaged side, as well as portray the disease, which couldn’t have been an easy task.

There is a scene in this film that was just disturbing. Without spoiling anything, think about what it would be like if you made a sex tape and your sibling happened to see and decided to start masturbating to it. Yeah, it was quite odd. Funny…but odd. Sort of leaves the audience with that WTF?!? uncomfortable feeling.

In conclusion, Love & Other Drugs is one of those films that comes along and gives something for both men and women. Unfortunately, those things happen at opposite ends of the film, causing a bit of disconnect throughout the picture. That point aside, this actually is a really well-made film. Is it perfect? No, but it is worth watching and a definite must-see.

4 out of 5 stars