Movies, videos, etc. In theaters, on computer, on disc, or via Roku.

Jan 162014

We watched The Croods, an animation about cave people. Nicholas Cage voices the protective dad Grug, and Emma Stone gives voice to the voluptuous, bold daughter Eep. Despite a fast-paced opening, it wasn’t engaging until about a half hour in. There is almost too much action. However, some of the effects were probably beautiful on a big screen. Suspend all disbelief that there is any historical context for this fantasy.

If IMDB is to be believed, this movie did very well. I’d heard of it, but don’t know anyone who mentioned seeing it.

 Posted by at 4:21 pm on Thu 01/16/14
Oct 162013

When I heard about the book a couple of years ago, I read the first chapter. It was fine, but not enough to take me further. I hope it’s not a spoiler to say this 3 hour movie weaves 4 separate timelines together. (Actually, the modern timeline consists of the most characters and stories.) Several of the actors play multiple roles (a few are unrecognizable). It doesn’t seem to be simply a tale of two souls finding each other over and over again. There are more characters whose lives overlap and intersect over these timelines spread out over centuries.

The two stories set in the future interested me the most. The nearer future was well-imagined but ultimately disappointing, reminding me too much of Blade Runner and The Matrix — I don’t doubt a future in which corporations rule us, but I don’t think they’ll need machine guns to do so. However, the 4th timeline in a post-apocalypse was the most original and interesting. I don’t think either of the first stories could be movies on their own, but either of the last two could be.

 Posted by at 8:01 pm on Wed 10/16/13
Oct 122013

Sadly, I can’t recommend this movie, despite Felicia Day. The music on the soundtrack was straight out of a video game. No doubt, there is one of the same title. This movie is very serious without being frightening. It’s on a par with NBC’s Grimm. To its credit, it doesn’t have a happy ending. (Less to its credit, it hints at potential sequel, but actually too briefly.)

To see why Felicia Day might draw one to a film, see Dr Horrible’s Singalong Blog or The Guild.

 Posted by at 2:39 pm on Sat 10/12/13
Oct 062013

I have a stiff middle digit for “superfan” David Layman and his cohort for spoiling the end of Breaking Bad for “ordinary” fans who have to wait until the episodes are released to us. Thanks, Dick! And thank you to the Albuquerque Journal for tooting its own horn on the front page about how much impact something in the Journal can have on Social Media. The fact that it was an ad, not an article, just gives the owner a bigger boner. Finally, thanks to reporter Rick Nathanson for his fair and balanced observation that in all the world one person was unhappy with this spoiler(it’s at least two, you tool).

Thank god social media was non-existent when the Empire Strikes Back and the Crying Game came out.

 Posted by at 7:24 am on Sun 10/06/13
Oct 042013

First, this has to be compared with Dark Shadows, which has several of the same people involved. Alice is so much better than Dark, and each of those people involved in both is so much better in Alice. I heard it said a long time ago that Meryl Streep creates an accent for each character she plays. I realize now that is true too of Johnny Depp, who manages to carry each unique voice (and look) consistently through a film. Here, he is quite good as the Mad Hatter.

The story seems to mix the two books together. I don’t know why Alice is older here than in the books; accounting for that just bogs down the story. I wonder what Carroll would have thought of Alice as an emancipated, entrepreneurial woman. For the most part, I enjoyed this movie for the characters and the visuals, not at all surprising for a Tim Burton movie.

 Posted by at 9:19 pm on Fri 10/04/13
Oct 022013

The original Alien scared me to death. Everyone in it was good, but most especially Sigorney Weaver. The sequel Aliens managed to surpass the first movie, something that is rarely done. (Die Hard 2 would be another example; Tremors 2 would be an example of the more common collapse of a franchise.)

Ever the optimistic nerd, I had hopes for Prometheus, the prequel to Alien. It has a few great scenes, especially the android David in the alien planetarium. It has a few interesting characters/actors, such as Michael Fassbinder as David, Charlize Theron as Ms Vickers, and Idris Elba as Cap’n Janek. However, the movie has so many flaws, so much nonsense, it was almost unbearable to watch. Was the Engineer at the beginning creating or destroying a world? (“Sometimes, you must destroy before you can create.” Like destroy the respect Alien(s) earned in order to create … nothing respectable.) I do so hate stone tech, which I blame Indian Jones for popularizing. You know, press the stone glyphs to reveal a magically powered machine. What the hell was up with the virtual 3D security footage?

I know that Scott worked backwards from the phenomenal, darkly-lit, briefly seen Observer in the original Alien. He wanted to explain what lead the Observer/Engineer to be where he was. But wasn’t the Observer enormous, not just a big muscle-bound guy? How does the Alien Observer make sense in the context of the bloody (one of too many) death of the last Engineer?

The Engineer’s destruction of David was an interesting counterpoint to Blade Runner, where the android could have killed Ford but didn’t. Turns out our god was more senselessly violent than even we are. (Proving, as I’ve always felt, that we created god in our image.)

So, the Engineers came to earth and “created” (spawned) us. Then, they planned to come back and destroy us, but got interrupted by … what? worms on the exoplanet? So, David implants/infects what’s-his-name with a bit of the stuff engineered to destroy us (maybe), and David impregnates the no-Sigourney Noomi Rapace, who becomes pregnant with a squid child she extracts using a self-surgery machine. The squid child kills the last Engineer, giving rise to … ta-da .. the Aliens of the Alien series. I assure you it doesn’t help to understand or pay attention. Just watch things blow up. (Sound advice for all “blockbusters.”)

 Posted by at 7:00 pm on Wed 10/02/13
Sep 212013

When I was in junior high school, I hurried home to watch Dark Shadows each afternoon. I thought Barnabus Collins was super-cool. (I named my St Bernard Barnabus.) Many years later, I found Dark Shadows streaming on Netflix. I was reminded that we can’t really get back to an original experience, no matter how well we recall it. The show was so low tech, so slow and dark. I still think Jonathan Frid was a great Barnabus, but I lost interest on the soap opera pacing after a few episodes. (I never saw the remake of the series.)

When I saw the preview for the movie version of Dark Shadows, starring Johnny Depp and directed by Tim Burton, I thought the movie would be great fun. I was wrong. There were little things to like, not least of which is Chloe Grace Moretz. Perhaps the music was the best part, although this is the first movie with a score by Danny Elfman that I can’t recall any of his music — anybody alive in 1972 could have scored this one.

Eva Green’s character was unpleasant but she played her with great enthusiasm. I did not recognize her from Franklyn, a movie I enjoyed, or the Golden Compass, a movie I can’t remember because the book was so overwhelmingly good (until the 3rd in the series disappointed me almost as much as the end of the Harry Potter series). 

 Posted by at 11:50 am on Sat 09/21/13