Saturday, April 23, 2016

The Huntsman: Winter's War

I'm sure I'll get some shit for this but I loved 2012's Snow White & The Huntsman, It's far from a perfect movie but I liked the story. It was an interesting and different take on Snow White. I figured that they would make a sequel but after the whole Kristen Stewart scandal I wasn't sure how they'd do it. I guess they've decided to carry on without her for the time being. This movie is getting panned by critics and I can understand their reasoning. However, I can't say that I agree with them completely, There were parts of it that I liked. I don't think it was as terrible as people have been saying. Overall though The Huntsman was just... okay. Not nearly as good as the first one.

The movie serves as both a prequel and a sequel (300: Rise of an Empire did it better though. At least it stayed consistent with its predecessor). Really, only the first 20-30 minutes is a prequel. The rest takes place after the events of Snow White and the Huntsman. A war escalates between rival queens/sisters Ravenna (Charlize Theron) and Freya (Emily Blunt). Meanwhile, Eric (Chris Hemsworth) and his wife Sara (Jessica Chastain), members of Freya's army, try to conceal their relationship.

While the movie had some interesting ideas, it was not well executed. It felt rushed at times and there were also moments where it dragged. Most of the people involved put in the least amount of effort possible and it was obvious they were only making this due to contractual obligations. Charlize Theron and Jessica Chastain, both great actresses, looked like they didn't want to be there and it showed in their performances. The only one who seemed to be trying and having fun was Chris Hemsworth. He's very charming and I like him as an actor (he's the main reason I'm not rating this any lower than I already am). But the Huntsman is better as a supporting character. This movie really suffered from not having Snow White in it.

This felt like two movies just thrown together and edited poorly. It's almost as if they started out just wanting to make this a prequel but then changed their minds and started filming a sequel and just added the footage they already had.

The movie did have a few other things going for it. There was some beautiful cinematography/visuals (minus the goblins which looked like something you'd see on a SyFy channel movie). I also liked the score from James Newton Howard.

Is it worth seeing? I guess so. Especially if you enjoyed the first one. But would I suggest you pay to see it in theaters? No. I'm not even sure I'd watch this again unless they release a director's cut or I'm bored and I happen to come across it on Netflix.

My Rating: 7/10

Saturday, April 16, 2016

The Jungle Book (IMAX 3D)

The Jungle Book is the latest in a series of live action remakes of classic Disney animated movies. I absolutely loved last years Cinderella. It came very close to making my top ten list. So I was very interested in what they would do with this. I had of course seen the original 1967 movie and while I liked it, it was far from my favorite Disney movie. It was fun and damn did those songs get stuck in my head. So how's this version? Well, it's not perfect but it's still really good. 

I haven't watched the original in years but from what I recall this is pretty much the same story. After the death of his parents as an infant, Mowgli (Neel Sethi) is found in the jungle by the panther Bagherra (voiced by Ben Kingsley) and raised in a wolf pack by his adopted mother Raksha (Lupita Nyong'o). But soon the jungle becomes too dangerous for the young man cub when the fearsome tiger Shere Khan (Idris Elba) returns and will stop at nothing to hunt Mowgli down and kill him. 

I can see why they wanted to remake this. Technology has come a long way and you can do so many more things now in terms of visuals than you could just a few years ago. A lot of the credit here should go to the visual effects team for their amazing work. If I hadn't known ahead of time I would've guessed they used real animals. You can't even tell the difference. And it all looks amazing on an IMAX screen (although I didn't notice the 3D at all). 

As far as the kid who plays Mowgli, he's not that great of an actor. There's several dramatic scenes in here and he just couldn't pull it off. I can see why director Jon Favreau cast him though. He's a cut kid and he looks the part. This is his first movie so hopefully he'll get better with experience. 

The actors they got to do the voice work were wonderful. Idris Elba has such a powerful, commanding voice that he was a perfect choice for Shere Khan. 

For those going into this expecting a musical like the original, you might be disappointed. There's only two musical numbers. I absolutely hated what they did to Bear Necessities. So much so that I had to take a point off my rating. However, I really liked Christopher Walken's version of I Wanna Be Like You. Very catchy. 

While I liked Cinderella better, I would still recommend The Jungle Book. It's a well made movie that can be enjoyed by both kids and adults. 

My Rating: 8/10

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Eye in the Sky

This was the final live action role of the late Alan Rickman. That fact alone made me want to see the movie since I've always been a big fan of his. It's been getting good reviews and I can see why. Eye in the Sky is such a tense, well made movie and it's easily one of the best I've seen this year so far. 

The movie stars Helen Mirren as Col. Katherine Powell. She has a mission to capture terrorists in Kenya but it quickly turns from capture to kill when it's discovered that a suicide bombing is imminent. Things get complicated when a young girl enters the kill zone just as pilot Steve Watts (Aaron Paul) is about to strike. The choice of wether or not to go through with it has huge implications. 

Let me just start off by saying that if you go into this expecting some military action movie where a lot of shit blows up then you'll be disappointed. This is not one of those movies. A lot of it is people either sitting in a room or on the phone/computer talking, debating, and strategizing.  And you know what? I'm totally fine with that. I actually think it works better that way. 

Director Gavin Hood (who after seeing this I can't believe is the same guy who did X-Men Origins: Wolverine) has created a very tense, thrilling movie that presents both sides of the argument well. Do they cancel the mission and save the life of an innocent young girl, while potentially hundreds die in a suicide bombing? Or do they go through with it and the girl probably dies, which would be a PR nightmare. Either way they're fucked. 

The acting in this was outstanding. Helen Mirren can do no wrong. Alan Rickman plays Lt. General Frank Benson and he was great as usual. His final scene and line of dialog had me in tears knowing that this would be the last time we actually see this wonderful actor on the big screen (he has two more movies coming up but in those cases he did voice work). 

The movie does drag a little bit at the beginning and there are a few rough spots with the dialog but it's nothing that should stop you from seeing it. 

Eye in the Sky is a smart, thrilling movie that will have you on the edge of your seat until the very end. Just be prepared for a downer. It's one of those movies that's very good but so depressing that you'll need to watch several comedies just to cheer yourself up. I highly recommend it. 

My Rating: 9/10