Review: ‘Godzilla (2014)’

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                I was never into Godzilla when I was younger.  I had seen bits and pieces of the old films and was familiar with the story but never got into the movies.  I did see the 1998 miserable remake that made me care even less about this franchise.  When the news of another remake broke I just moved on until the first teaser came out.  I gave it a shot and I was glad I did.  It was an engrossing trailer that was the definition of teaser.  It was well paced and looked incredible, this was a modern Godzilla movie that I could get behind and even get a little excited about.  More trailers came out and they just kept getting better, so I knew I was going to be seeing this Godzilla with some anticipation.  So, how was it?

                Joe Brody (Bryan Cranston) is living in Japan with his family as he supervises one of the country’s nuclear power plants.  One morning, Joe discovers some weird underground seismic activity that he tries to tell his superiors about.  Of course his warnings are ignored and the plant collapses in on itself and Joe’s wife is killed and the town they live in is quarantined.  Fifteen years later his son, Ford Brody (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) is returning home to his wife (Elizabeth Olsen) from serving in the Navy as a explosive ordinance disposal officer.  Home for only a short time, he gets a phone call that his dad has been arrested in Japan for trespassing and Ford needs to come get him.  Joe has been spending the last fifteen years trying to explain what the real cause of the disaster at the plant was and is ignored by his son as a crazy man.  They both go to the quarantined town to grab something from the old house when they are arrested by nearby military that take them to the plant the world was told was destroyed by an earthquake.  When they get to the site, they find out the real reason for the disaster and that something bigger is hunting it.

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                Visually, this is a great looking film.  The action is tight and fun to watch and some of the shots, like the soldiers parachuting down to Godzilla, are inspired.  For most of the movie it is just fun to watch the cinematography because there are some truly great shots in this film.  The acting is fine but unfortunately has no real stand outs.  Cranston is good, but isn’t given much to do.  Taylor-Johnson is fine but also not given much to do except move the story along, which he does fine enough.  Olsen is given the least to do by just being the one who is constantly running or worrying about her characters husband and son.  If there was any stand out performance here it would be from David Strathairn who plays a convincing admiral thrown into being in charge of dealing with Godzilla.

                Gareth Edwards has done the impossible in my mind, make a modern Godzilla that keeps your attention and gives the audience a lot to enjoy.    He may have said that this was a “global warming” cautionary tale, but that didn’t get through to audiences and you can read why here.  Thankfully the director failed in any attempt to preach to us that false gospel and instead gave us one of the better summer movies in the last few years.  A true popcorn flick where you can sit back, enjoy the action and check your brain at the door and that’s a good thing.

3 stars out of 4

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Review: ‘The Amazing Spiderman 2′

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                While it did seem unnecessary for Sony to reboot their Spiderman property, the 2012 offering was surprisingly good.  Andrew Garfield was pitch perfect casting for Peter Parker/Spiderman and Emma Stone as his love interest was inspired casting as they both had great chemistry.  This new Spiderman was a little cockier and sure of himself which was an upswing from the sometimes tepid Toby Maguire.  The energy was constant and the casting for all other characters, especially Martin Sheen, were great choices.  It may have underperformed, even though it did make tons of money, it was guaranteed a sequel and thankfully it had everyone returning.  So how was it?

                Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield) I still living two lives, one of the high school graduate and the other as superhero Spiderman.  He is in an on again off again relationship with Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone) because of the promise he made to her dying father.  Spiderman one day rescues the lonely and ignored Max (Jamie Foxx) as he is on his way to work where he is underappreciated for his contribution to the cities new power plant.  Max is made to stay after work to fix a problem one day in the circuitry of the office space he works in and he falls into a electrical tank and transforms into the future villain Electro.  Shy at first, Max is scared but an accidental assassination attempt on him when talking to Spiderman makes him angry and he begins to destroy Times Square until Spiderman stops him.  Harry Osborn (Dan Dehaan) has come back into Peter’s life after a ten year absence and finds out that he has the same illness that killed his father and that maybe Spiderman’s blood may be the way to cure him.  Electro escapes, another villain begins to scheme and Spiderman tries his best to protect the city and the people he loves.

                The Amazing Spiderman 2 is better than the first movie but not really by that much.  Acting is still great, as is the visual appeal, but it just didn’t deliver on what looked like what was promised in the marketing.  This was most likely always going to be the case when a studio is already starting to build an entire movie universe surrounding one superhero and tries to build up in a single movie that anticipation.  Worked in some cases, like giving little nuggets of what is to come by showing more of the secretive Oscorps Corporation.  It unfortunately fails in other ways.  There is a surprising lack in showing growth with the relationship between Peter and Gwen.  Also, bringing in a best friend coming back into Peter’s life out of nowhere and not having that relationship built in a meaningful way was a shortfall.  You also then have a main villain in Electro that becomes a villain for no real reason and really doesn’t make a convincing road to being a bad guy, it just happens in a few seconds.  If you’re able to get over those things then you really are going to see a fun film.

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                The new actors that were brought in to introduce the expanding universe do well in the perspective roles.  Dan Dehaan is the obvious winner in the group, giving the Harry Osborn character a different spin than what James Franco did before him.  This Harry is more believable and a little more fun to watch.  Chris Cooper, though he is only in the film for a few minutes regardless of what the trailers showed us, is always a good choice for casting.  Jamie Foxx is the weak link of the bunch and its most likely that he had some pretty poor dialogue he had to say.  He has his comedic moments that truly are laugh out loud, but when it comes time to be the villain, he holds back too much to wear, outside of his powers, doesn’t seem all that menacing.  Of course Garfield and Stone bring that great chemistry back and the flirtatious scenes are well done.  Sally Field is given a little bit more to do this film as Aunt May and for the scenes that she is in she is fun to watch and brings some needed emotion to some of the more weightier scenes.

                There is no real sense of a central theme bigger than good fighting evil, which is fine; it just wasn’t as big in tone as the first film or the previous trilogy which makes it feel empty.  There are speeches about hope that don’t really go anywhere and that’s a shame because it seemed like that would be the main theme of the movie from the start.  This is more of a highly entertaining filler movie that really only exists to get us to The Amazing Spiderman 3 & 4 and the Sinister Six movie.  It feels a little rushed and the ending seems to wrap up just a little too quickly.  All of a sudden bad guys converge, fight Spiderman for a few minutes and then done.  Even if those last few action scenes are fun to watch, they seem to wrap up a little too neatly and too fast.

                When you see the movie, and if you are a fan I suggest you do, know that there is going to be a lot of stuff missing that we saw in the trailers.  You’ll most likely get annoyed by some things that could have been done better or taken their time to develop more.  It seems, again from the trailers that they were there but ended on the cutting room floor.  Maybe all that stuff could have eased the movies problems if left in, but unless we get a director’s cut, we’ll never know.  All in all, still a entertaining movie.

3 stars out of 4

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Review: ‘Grudge Match’

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                When I first heard about this movie I was hesitantly excited.  Sounded like a no brainer to bring Rocky and the Raging Bull together to make an old timers boxing movie.  Was it going to be great?  Most likely no but it did have that factor that perks a lover of movies ears up.  Most of us who were fans of 80’s action films were downright gitty when we heard Schwarzenegger and Stallone were going to spend some screen time together in The Expendables even if it was for a few minutes.  They were iconic for a generation of men growing up during that time and we all wanted this to happen way back then.  Now, having two stars from two of the best sports movies ever made were brought together to give us another something special.  Was it any good though?

                In the city of Pittsburgh there are two local boxing legends, Henry “Razor” Sharp (Sylvester Stallone) and Billy “The Kid” McDonnen (Robert de Niro).  Over the course of their beef with one another, they had each won a title bout against each other, but when it came time for the tie breaking match, Henry retires.  Thirty years later, Henry is working in a local factory while Billy owns a car dealership and restaurant and is still mad about not getting his shot to beat Henry one last time.  In steps eager boxing promoter Dante Slate Jr. (Kevin Hart) who gets the two to begrudgingly agree to fight each other one last time even though they are way past their prime.  As the two beginning training, Henry continues to fight his utter hatred for Billy as they have to work together to promote the fight.  Billy on the other hand is struggling with losing weight while also getting to know his son (Jon Bernthal) he had years ago from a one night stand.

                This film is filled to the brim with cliché after cliché and surrounded by a story where the viewer can guess exactly what is coming, but it doesn’t matter because the talent in the film makes it worthwhile.  Stallone is doing some good stuff in his later years and it’s been a very long time since de Niro has done this good in a comedy.  Kim Basinger is a welcomed addition but isn’t given much to do here.  Alan Arkin is always good and he plays off Kevin Hart very well.  I can’t help shaking off the feeling that Kevin Hart, while extremely talented and very funny, is the new Chris Rock or Eddie Griffin and as soon as Hollywood decides he’s not funny anymore, the roles will dry up, which stinks.  Most comedies don’t look this good, but the gloomy color scheme for the films looks great when looking at the shadier sides of Pittsburgh and the flashy ringside ending pops off the screen.

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                The themes are the usual ones for this type of film.  Family is important, coming to terms with the bad decisions you made in your life, forgiveness and so on.  Again, even though some of these themes are clichéd in this sort of film, because of the performance here, they bring the needed heart to these characters that the story requires.  The interaction and chemistry between de Niro and Bernthal, who plays his long lost son, is very touching in certain scenes and doesn’t feel forced.  It’s not a movie that wants to break the rules or give you something different, it knows its formula and brings about a movie that has heart and some fun along the way.  After the credits role, I sat there and wanted to see more of these characters because they felt like they had more story to tell.  That’s a good achievement for a clichéd movie.

                There’s little language here and some sexual references but all in all a pretty save movie to watch.  It’s fun and does have some great turns from aging actors who show they’ve still got it.

3 stars out of 4

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Review: ‘Captain America: The Winter Soldier’

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                The first Captain America was a hit but not as appreciated in my opinion as much as it should be when placed against the other Marvel movies.  It was unashamedly pro-American and showed a deeper love for our soldiers than many movies before or after it.  So when I saw the first trailer for Winter Soldier and heard some of the lines coming out of Captain America’s mouth, I was very hesitant.  I was hesitant because the extremely talented Joss Whedon tried to put in liberal talking points in The Avengers in the form of a monologue coming from the Captain.  It looked like, to me at least, that maybe similar liberal nonsense found its way into this new movie.  That comes from years of having movies preach to us stupid diatribes full of so much fantasy that Peter Jackson would be proud.  Then I read the early reviews, that the movie mocks Obama and I got excited again.  Not so much that it mocked our girlie president but that for once I didn’t have to get preached to some moronic stance that made fun of me and half of America.  Knowing that, how did the movie end up?

                Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) is still struggling to find how he fits into a world he barely knows.  To keep himself preoccupied, he dives into his new role as one of the head tactical soldiers for S.H.I.E.L.D. and continues to do numerous missions.  He finds himself on a boat for one particular mission and finds out that his partner, Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) has been given other orders that he is unaware of.  This rubs him the wrong way and as he begins to know more and more about the organization he works for, he becomes unsure of his role in it.  A new enemy, once thought just a myth, known as the Winter Soldier begins to thwart S.H.I.E.L.D. at almost every turn.  The Captain, Widow and a volunteer to the team, Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie), try to figure out who the mystery villain is while protecting the organization they are not sure they trust anymore.

                Wow, what an incredible movie that is two plus hours that flies by with practically no down time or off beat scenes.  Chris Evans continues to show that he was a brilliant choice for the role, continuing to bring depth, innocence and bravery to a role that means a lot to comic book fans.  Johansson, in one of the only roles she hasn’t bugged me in, keeps up with Evans in not only the comedy but the action as well.  Robert Redford may be a hypocritical lib, but man can he command a scene.  He’s smooth confident and a constant welcome presence in this universe.  While I thought Sam Jackson as Nick Fury initially seemed great, his presence has become stale and they need to bring something to the character that seems fresh.  They tried it here and it worked a little, but not enough.  Mackie was a great addition and keeps up with Evans and Johansson.  Sebastian Stan as the Winter Soldier, while great as Bucky, is nowhere near as menacing as the Winter Soldier as I would have liked.  He was too fresh faced and not scary enough, especially when he doesn’t have the mask on.  The action is top notch, and some of the best edited action in years.  The world is back to feeling accessible again after the so-so Thor 2Everything from the production value to the story is pulled together extremely well that even the little missteps are forgiven because the surrounding awesomeness is just great.

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                The story is not only one that is overdue from Hollywood, but is also gripping and plays up the promised political thriller given by the directors last year almost masterfully.  There’s tension throughout the film, even though you can guess what the outcome will be from the start.  Once again, Captain America is given a hero’s heart and is willing to sacrifice all for the protection of not only his country but even his enemies.  The basic story of information overload and the ease of someone to snatch that info, secret, private or public and use it against people is scary enough in the Marvel world let alone what is going on in the real world.  A speech the Captain gives about what true sacrifice is about near the ending of the movie is not only touching but inspiring.  Thank God there are real heroes like this in the world today and The Winter Soldier pays tribute to those people, America’s military, once again throughout the film.  The themes of hope, courage, manliness and sacrifice are very powerful, even today and this film gives them all their due.  The film grabs you from the very beginning and only let’s go when the credits roll.  There’s well paced tension that pays off in the end and gives the audience heroes to cheer for.

                This movie is an enjoyable two plus hours that has hints of current relevancy to what is going on around us.  What is happening in this movie and in our time, you know, the things liberals said George W. Bush was doing, is actually being done under the Obama administration.  How refreshing that Hollywood finally had the courage to say so in a movie.  It must be pointed out when it happens, because it is so rare and I hope that the money that flows into their coffers encourages more.

3 and ½ stars out of 4

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Quick Reviews

                Here’s a list of a few recent viewings I have gone through lately that I didn’t or didn’t want to review for whatever reason.  Hopefully I can give a short review that may peak your interests to either watch or pass on a film you might have been considering.  There can be a mix of newer/older movies with a few insights.

Austenland

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                After reading about the plot to this film and then seeing its trailer I actually was happy to watch this with my wife.  It looked good and had an interesting story of a huge Jane Austin fan that gets to live her dream of living out one of the famous authors stories.  Even though Keri Russell and JJ Field give really good performances, the movie was a complete and utter let down.  There were too many odd choices for characterization by the equally and normally great Bret McKenzie and Jennifer Coolige which were annoying and not at all funny.  Odd plot choices that didn’t make sense or came about much too early than the usual romantic comedy formula make this a waste of a movie, which again, is lame because it is a really good idea.  There’s also things that just happen in the story with no explanation, case in point, at the end of the movie it looks like all the actors are hooking up together at the closing ceremony and we’re not told why because there is no hint of hooking up throughout any previous scene.  Another odd thing about the film is we got it on demand and it said it was rated R, with nary a swear word, violent scene or any hint of nudity.  I would strongly suggest skipping this one if you were thinking about seeing it, you will be disappointed.  1 and ½ stars out of 4

Knights of Badassdom

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                I saw a trailer for this one over a year ago and was looking forward to it and it never came out.  A few months ago there was an update saying that it would be brought to On Demand networks and I picked up that excitement again.  My wife and I watched it the other night and, while it did have some good laugh out loud moments, I was left a little disappointed.  The story of a group of Larpers (Live Action Role Playing) who accidently call into the earth a succubus from hell seemed like a good idea and a great movie trailer, it just didn’t live up to the potential.  The cast is great with Steve Zahn, Peter Dinklage and Jimmi Simpson bringing the big laughs as well as more of the well-rounded characters, but the story didn’t flow like it should have.  This could have been a really great movie; instead it’s just passable as a time waster.  2 stars out of 4

Taxi Driver

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                I’m not sure why it took me so long to watch this film, but I finally did and it was beyond interesting.  I remember hearing that this was one of those films during that decade where it showed the tortured Vietnam vet coming back into the world and struggling.  How do these people see that?  The main character mentions once that he was in the war and it doesn’t seem to have given him any lasting damage that says “anti-war” film.  Instead, you are seeing a loner not sure how to interact with people and while watching that I got that it he was like this before and after the war.  That was the character, always like that.  Beyond that it is a great actor’s film, De Niro is phenomenal of course but there was one really great scene where Scorsese of all people does a great job of creeping you out.  It’s definitely not a movie for everyone, only for those true Scorsese fans or ones that love the character study type movie.  2 and ½ stars out of 4

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Why You Won’t See a Review for ‘Noah’ Anytime Soon

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                It has been an interesting road for me on whether I was going to pay to see this movie or not.  It came up on my radar a year or so ago when I heard the guy who made The Wrestler was going to take on the story of Noah.  I then read a script review from Brian Godawa that made me even less excited about the film.  You see, Hollywood has yet to get that they aren’t really trusted to handle the material that is held as sacred Scripture by Christians around the world.  Outside of more recent releases like The Passion of the Christ and to some extent The Prince of Egypt, Hollywood doesn’t really have a love for the true God and His followers.  How can they take anything like the Bible seriously when they hate it, its follows and its Author?  From what I have read in the last few days, I cannot justify spending the money to see a movie that will make me sinfully angry.

                What solidified it for me was not only Godawa’s review of the film, but also Dr. Brain Mattson’s review , entitled ‘Sympathy for the Devil’ and the  breakdown of the pagan nature of the film he gave:

“Darren Aronofsky has produced a retelling of the Noah story without reference to the Bible at all. This was not, as he claimed, just a storied tradition of run-of-the-mill Jewish “Midrash.” This was a thoroughly pagan retelling of the Noah story direct from Kabbalist and Gnostic sources. To my mind, there is simply no doubt about this.”

                Read the whole review to get an incredible insight into what happens when someone who hates the biblical God like Aronofsky does, tells a story from Scripture.  This is a person who thinks God, if He exists, is an uninvolved murderous evil tyrant, that eating meat is one of the great evils, that man needed to be destroyed by a flood because his carbon footprint was too big and that man knows better than God and is morally superior to him.  That’s just ridiculous liberal self and earth worship that’s been around for quite some time.  From Godawa:

“But as Aronofsky said in an interview Noah’s journey is God’s journey of being so judgmental that he has to learn mercy. Because you see, Aronofsky has said he is a humanist. Humanists believe man is the measure of all things and man is not created in God’s image, God is created in man’s image. So it makes sense within his atheism to portray God as learning to be more merciful since God is merely an extension of man’s own imagination.”

That’s not only wrong, it’s evil.

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Both reviewers mentioned above and others have also helped point out how certain Christian “leaders” were duped into endorsing the movie:

From Mattson:

“Some readers may think I’m being hard on people for not noticing the Gnosticism at the heart of this film. I am not expecting rank-and-file viewers to notice these things. I would expect exactly what we’ve seen: head-scratching confusion. I’ve got a whole different standard for Christian leaders: college and seminary professors, pastors, and Ph.Ds. If a serpent skin wrapped around the arm of a godly Bible character doesn’t set off any alarms… I don’t know what to say.”

                From Godawa:

“Christians, you are tools being played if you think that this movie is anything BUT a subversion of the Biblical God and an exaltation of environmentalism and animal rights against humans. Those who say that hurting the earth is just part of the sins of mankind in the story are missing the deeper point. No matter what “sins” of man that are portrayed in this story, they are only expressions of the ultimate sin, which is to sin against the earth. Every time it talks about man’s sin and God’s intent, the context is always “creation” not God, and not man as God’s image. The guy who preaches “man as God’s image” is the villain. “Creation” as in “Nature” is the metanarrative here, NOT God.”

                Russell Crowe and others who participated in the film tried to even get the Pope’s blessing, for whatever that’s worth.  Even to the point of lying that they got it.  Okay, par for the course for a lib, but when it came to Christian “leaders” giving the movie their blessings and then reading what the film portrays and how it portrays it, I was saddened.  Even though I knew I should not be because so much of the American Christian today looks like your average moral relativist who believes in a social gospel more than the true one, it still stinks.  Those who stand up for Truth are not the ones who get the attention unfortunately.  It is the fakes who fit the picture liberals think Christian’s are, for example the Westboro church, Joel Osteen, pedophilic priests and others who claim Christ but do not know Him.  The “good” Christians are the ones who claim to be but have no signs of working faith in their life and have abandoned the Truth for a lie like Nancy Pelosi, Rob Bell, Kristin Chenoweth and so many others.

                It’s a sad state and the controversy that made the movie a hit over it’s opening weekend will give courage to more Hollywood types, like Aronofsky, to make fun of Christianity or in the case of this movie, give a narrative that twists and perverts the character of God to push an agenda that man is the ultimate good.  They’ve done it before and they will do it again.  When the film is free I will review it, until then, nope.

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Review: ‘The Grand Budapest Hotel’

grand budapest hotel poster

                Wes Anderson, so far, has only made one bad movie.  That movie was The Darjeeling Limited and it was god-awful.  Every other film he has made has been masterful and among some of the best in my generation.  So, it was no surprise to me when I saw the first trailer for his latest film, The Grand Budapest Hotel, that it was going to be one of the most anticipated films of 2014.  Full of Anderson’s usual cast of great actors, there was going to be a new player to the list and that was the great Ralph Fiennes.  When I watched the trailer it seemed like a no brainer that Fiennes would be in a Wes Anderson film and he looked like he was going to do the character and the story justice.  So how did the movie fair once I sat down to watch it?

                In the mountains of the Republic of Zubrowka an author (Jude Law) sits in a once great hotel.  One evening he meets with the hotel’s owner, Zero (F. Murray Abraham) who tells him the story of the Grand Budapest Hotel.  In 1932, a much younger Zero (Tony Revolori) is hired as a lobby boy by the hotel’s concierge, Gustave (Ralph Fiennes) who quickly becomes his mentor.  Gustave is not only one of the world’s best concierges; he is also one who is known to sleep with his rich elderly guests.  One such guest, Madame D (Tilda Swinton) is found dead shortly after their last encounter and he inherits a priceless painting from her much to the chagrin of her family.  The family frames Gustave for her murder and he and Zero must find a way to get him out of jail, clear his name and return to their duties at the hotel.

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                Yet again, Anderson has brought together an incredible cast with each character bringing the usual fun to the oddness of Anderson’s world.  Ralph Fiennes is the best part of the movie.  He delivers his lines quickly and confidently with such a strong sense of comedic timing that I am surprised he has not been in an Anderson movie yet and would not be surprised if he is utilized again.  Newcomer Tony Revolori keeps up with Fiennes bringing the heart of the story to full fruition as he plays a shy and naïve young man coming into his own.  F. Murray Abraham, who is only in the film for a few minutes, hasn’t been this good since Amadeus.  Jude Law, Bill Murray, Edward Norton et al are fantastic in this universe as are the rest of the cast.  As usual, Anderson’s vision of how his film should look is masterful.  The color pallet jumps off the screen, the interesting small models he uses throughout are great to look at and the camera shots are nearly perfect.  Yet it is the story that is the best of them all.

                The story isn’t really about a womanizing gentleman running for his life with the help of a naïve young kid; it is more about the end of an age.  End of an age of gentlemanliness, which Fiennes brings to the forefront with his droll accent and commanding presence as he continues to pursue kindness, protecting others, speaking proper English so on.  It’s about a world that is lost amidst a coming war that will tear it apart.  The film is also about young love and the effect it can have on a man throughout his life and it is done in an incredibly touching way.  You are instantly drawn into this world and its characters and quickly care of their outcome, that’s really one of Anderson’s gifts in film making.  The story flows seamlessly with hardly an offbeat moment that slows the pacing down.  A truly fantastic modern movie of the loss of innocence in a harsh world surrounded by comedy and fun story telling.

                I cannot recommend this film highly enough.  There is a lot of language in the film, so know that going in.  If you are a fan of Wes Anderson this film will cause that fandom to expand greatly. 

3 and ½ stars out of 4

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Terrific Trailer Tuesday: ‘Captain America: The Winter Soldier’

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                This week the sequel to Marvel’s great Captain America: the First Avenger comes out.  While I will definitely be seeing it, I am weary because of the trailer below, that this will push some backwards liberal worldview that will make the film preachy and annoying.  I am hoping that I am grossly misunderstanding the trailer, because I love the Marvel movies.  Maybe the creators realized that conservatives have been rallying around just about every one of their films and their messages of personal responsibility, heroism and evil needing to be stopped that they just couldn’t let that stand and had to make another preachy film spouting stupid and naïve liberal talking points.  Here’s to hoping that the Captain doesn’t turn into some caricature of the Harry Reid’s of the world who declare defeat in the midst of victory.  We’ll see.

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Little Buddy Review: ‘The Muppets Most Wanted’

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                I made it absolutely clear in my review a few years back that I loathed the first installment of the new Muppets.  It was boring, used the cameo appearances with too much self awareness and overuse and of course had the stupid liberal talking points about who is evil in the world, big oil of course.  Yet it was used in such an over handed way that it made no sense.  Would Los Angeles really let a freaking oil man take over a building in the middle of the city and then let him drill for oil…IN THE MIDDLE OF THE CITY?  Sometimes the stupidity of the liberal mind just to preach to their audience is staggering.  Regardless of this I decided to go to the sequel because there didn’t look like there was an agenda this time.  So did that make any difference in the new generation of Muppets that is about Judd Apatow humor, sexual innuendo and a built in disdain for a big chunk of their audience or was it more of the same?

                Picking up right where the first one left off, the Muppets find themselves together again and wondering what they should do with their show.  Dominic Badguy (Ricky Gervais) suggests to them a world tour that he would co-manage with Kermit.  Though Kermit is reluctant and would rather polish their acts, he is convinced to do the tour by the rest of the troupe.  Meanwhile, in a gulag in Siberia, the world’s most dangerous frog, Constantine, has escaped and plans on taking Kermit’s place while sending Kermit to jail for his crimes, which should be easy because they look so much alike.  Dominic and Constantine stage the new Muppets show world tour in different countries always next to their target to steal clues that will ultimately help them steal the crown jewels.  Kermit on the other hand is trying to figure out why his friends seem to have forgotten him as he gets used to life in the gulags.

                First off, much better than the first one, but still lacks the heart of the earlier films that I grew up on.  Voice acting and puppetering, while all good, but just don’t really bring anything new to the universe.   I think the use of CGI for some scenes instead of the inventive way Jim Henson would get his Muppets to do the impossible also takes you out of the universe of the Muppets.  The use of cameos again is overused and to little to no effect to the audience.  For example, one celebrity shows up and is very aware they are doing a cameo and points it out to the audience; it’s awful and not funny at all.  The original movies made such good use of the cameos that they were memorable.  Today they are there because that’s what everyone remembers from the originals and they are some of the worst parts of the movie.

muppets-most-wanted-still

                I’m thinking because of the way the first one was received, Disney decided that maybe you don’t want to do a media blitz where Muppet characters make fun of people.  There is absolutely no liberal sucker punches, no stupid liberal message, no media interviews where conservatives are made fun of, just a story that is meant to be fun and entertaining.  And it is, for the most part, especially the first 45 minutes or so.  After that though, it gets boring to an unnecessary extent.  I found myself as anxious to leave as my son did.  There were some really funny parts, especially from a scene with Kermit and Stanley Tucci (the only cameo that works), but the film seems to hit the brakes pretty hard and slowly crawl to the end.  The story wants to bring home the theme of family and being there for each other but it is never fully fledged out properly and is hurried along in the last few minutes.

                I just have to face the fact that the Muppets I knew and loved are really gone.  It will never be the same and I wish this would make them stop.  This one did have its moments, but when you look at the movie as a whole, they are not enough to save it from being something that’s just running through the motions hoping to make a lot of money.  Ah well, at least we still have the first four movies, original television shows and holiday specials to fall back on.

2 stars out of 4

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Terrific Trailer Tuesday: ‘X-Men: Days of Future Past’

x men days of future past poster

             Are we seeing one of the biggest movies of the year or Bryan Singer’s latest flop?  Judge for yourself below.

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