Saturday, August 16, 2014

The Giver

The Giver is one of those books that's required reading in school. Although back when I was in school I don't think that was one of the books we read. For years Hollywood has tried to turn this 1993 Louis Lowry into a movie and now they've finally done it. Unfortunately it's just... okay. Don't get me wrong, while I didn't love it, I didn't hate it either.

The Giver takes place in a futuristic society where everything is seemingly perfect. There's no war, suffering, or pain. Everyone seems to be happy with their place in life. When Jonas (Brenton Thwaites) is 17 he's chosen to be the society's Receiver of Memories. He begins training with a man called The Giver (Jeff Bridges). Jonas learns all about the truths of the world- including war and suffering but also about love and beauty. Confronted with all this, Jonas must make some hard choices about his future.

One of the things I did enjoy about the movie was the visuals. Most of it is in black and white with a couple of scenes in color spread throughout. It was really creative and fit well with the story they were trying to tell.

For me though, the best part was Jeff Bridges. I thought he gave a really good performance. Given that the movie was so so, I kind of feel bad for him since this seemed like his passion project. In addition to playing the title character, he also served as one of the movies producers. Meryl Streep is in this as the Chief Elder of the society. She's good, but it's far from her best role. The rest of the cast, I felt, was terrible.

Also, the musical score was pretty. But other than the things I just mentioned, there was nothing about this movie that made me walk out thinking "Wow! That was amazing." Maybe because I've seen this premise before only done a lot better.

The Giver was one of those movies that had a lot of potential. Is it worth paying the money to see it in theaters? Not really. If you're a fan of the book and are curious to see how it turned out, wait until it comes to the Redbox. Better yet watch it when it's on tv.

My Rating: 6/10

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Guardians of the Galaxy (IMAX 3D)

Any time a Marvel movie comes out I have to go see it. Guardians of the Galaxy was no exception. I've been excited for this movie since the moment I saw the first trailer. I'm happy to say that it more than exceeded my expectations. I had such a great time watching this!

Guardians of the Galaxy tells the story of Peter Quill (Chris Pratt), who steals a mysterious orb that is desired by the villain known as Ronan the Accuser (Lee Pace). In order to stop Ronan and save the galaxy, he teams up with Rocket Raccoon (voiced by Bradley Cooper), Groot (voiced by Vin Diesel, who only says three words in various tones throughout the movie- "I am Groot."), Gamora (Zoe Saldana), and Drax (Dave Bautista).

This movie is very much Marvel's comedy. A comedic space opera some would call it. The humor was definitely one of the best parts of the movie for me. I could not stop laughing the whole time.

The director of Guardians of the Galaxy is James Gunn, who previously directed a segment in the god awful (and that's putting it mildly) Movie 43. Thankfully he redeems himself here. You could tell that he actually cared and was trying to deliver a fun summer blockbuster. I would definitely say he succeeded.

I also thought the casting was excellent. Chris Pratt ended up surprising me with his performance and now I can't imagine anyone else playing the role. But lets face it, the real star of the movie here is Rocket Raccoon. While Bradley Cooper, who I'm a fan of, may have been an odd choice, I think he nailed it. His character was my favorite. A combination of bad ass and hysterical.

I really liked Vin Diesel as Groot as well. Not many actors could pull off a character  who only speaks the same three words over and over again, but she sure does. I thought the rest of the cast did a good job as well.

Whoever was in charge of the soundtrack, I applaud you. Each song fit perfectly. It was also fun listening to a lot of the music I grew up listening to again.

As far as the 3D goes, it was kind of hit or miss for me. During certain scenes it worked well but in other scenes it wasn't even noticeable. The movie did look pretty good on an IMAX screen though so if you see it that way it's worth the extra money. Really, no matter what format you choose to see it in it's going to look good.

This should go without saying but- STAY TIL AFTER THE CREDITS! You would think after all these Marvel movies we've had people would know this by now. While it may not have been my favorite post credits scene I still thought it was fun and worth sticking around for.

Originally I had planned on giving this movie a perfect rating. But I got to thinking about the last Marvel movie I saw- The Winter Soldier (I'm not counting The Amazing Spider-Man 2), which I have a 9.5/10. I enjoyed Guardians of the Galaxy just as much, for different reasons. However, I thought The Winter Soldier had a much stronger villain. Not that Lee Pace didn't do a good job here as Ronan, he did. It's more of a personal preference.

During Comic Con this year it was announced that they are already planning on moving ahead with Guardians of the Galaxy 2, which will also be directed by James Gunn. I'm really looking forward to seeing where they go with this franchise. If it's anything like this movie, it'll be really good.

My Rating: 9/10