Friday, September 30, 2011

X-tra Ordinary

X-Men: First Class
Director: Matthew Vaughn
Cast: James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Kevin Bacon, Rose Byrne, Jennifer Lawrence
Released: June 3, 2011

Warning: spoilers

When it comes to the X-Men, my only knowledge is the first three movies which I've only seen once. (I've also seen Wolverine - big mistake, but I like Hugh Jackman!) I've never read the comics or watched the animated series. I've enjoyed all the movies (well, except for Wolverine, obviously) and this one was no exception (or should I say X-ception? Haha!) 

It takes place in the early '60s and we meet Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) before he became Professor X (played by Patrick Stewart in the previous films) and Erik Whoever (Michael Fassbender) before he became Magneto (who Ian McKellen played in the other films). Before they were enemies, Charles and Erik had to work together to stop the bad mutants from starting World War III. As far as super powers go, Charles definitely has Erik beat. Erik can move objects with his mind, which, okay, that's cool and it did come in handy a few times in the movie. However, Charles can read minds (and he can control at will whose mind to read), have conversations with people inside their minds, freeze people in time, and who knows what else. Team Charlie! 

I can understand why Erik becomes evil because his mother was killed right in front of him as a young boy, so it's understandable why he has a bunch of pented-up rage. I don't understand why both young mutant girls decided to go to the dark side. First, when Kevin Bacon leads the bad guys to the government building where the young mutants are being guarded, Angel doesn't put up a fight and just decides to join them and it was like, "Really?! Really?" Like I said, I've seen the X-Men movies, so I knew Mystique was a bad "guy", but how she got there makes no sense to me. She and Charles are quite close and have a brother/sister relationship, but at the end of the movie, after Erik nearly kills thousands of innocent people (but Charles manages to stop him), he asks who wants to join him, and Mystique decides to go with him and Charles is like, "Okay, that's cool. I know that's what you want to do." Um, hello, Charlie? But you're letting one of your closest friends join the bad side! 

Mystique has one of the coolest powers of all the X-men (or women, in her case). She's a shift shaper and can turn into anybody she wants. At first I was a little confused that 1960s Mystique was played by 20 year old Jennifer Lawrence and Mystique in 2000 was played by late 20s Rebecca Romijn, but it's explained to us that she has genetic make up that makes her age quite slowly. We also find out that Mystique was the one who suggested the nicknames Professor X and Magneto for Charles and Erik. 

There's a few fun cameos: Rebecca Romijn and the best is Hugh Jackman as Wolverine. It was unexpected and really funny; they made nice use of their one F word in the PG-13 movie. 

How about that death scene with Kevin Bacon? If anyone had to be killed in that manner, than he certainly deserved it - he was the one who killed little Erik's mother right in front of him, after all.  I have to give the movie credit; I've never seen anyone killed like that. That made me cringe! I will never look at a coin the same way again. 

I was really entertained by this movie and the special effects were amazing, though in ten years they'll probably look awful! 

Thursday, September 22, 2011

It's all Gwyneth's fault

Director: Steven Soderbergh
Cast: Matt Damon, Laurence Fishburne, Jude Law,  Marion Cotillard, Kate Winslet, Gwyneth Paltrow
Released: September 9, 2011
Viewed in theaters: September 22, 2011

Warning: some spoilers

If you already hate Gwyneth Paltrow, like I do, then you will hate her even more after watching Contagion!  Not only do we find out that she's cheating on her husband (Matt Damon) in the first ten seconds of the movie, but she's the reason this fast-killing virus spread to the United States after returning from a trip from Hong Kong where the virus originated. She infected thousands of people who died, including her own six year old son! Good job, Gwynnie, good job!

Luckily, her husband is immune to the disease and even luckier, his daughter was with his ex-wife. There is widespread panic as many people fall sick and entire cities and towns become ghosts towns with stores being unable to operate without people to run them and those who are still healthy start rioting and breaking into stores to steal food and other equipment. Matt just wants to leave the city with his daughter before she gets infected, but they are quarantined.

Meanwhile, in Atlanta, at the first sign of the outbreak, a doctor (Laurence Fishbourne) sends an expert in viruses and epidemics (Kate Winslet) to Minneapolis, one of the first cities to get infected (Gwyneth's hometown). Let's just say, she should have worn a mask more than she did. (I always thought those masks looked like they couldn't keep germs away).

We also have Jude Law who plays an obnoxious blogger who thinks the government is lying to everyone and that they are keeping vital information from the public about how they can be helped. On a shallow sidenote, you can definitely tell Jude is British because he has some messed up teeth! I guess some stereotypes are true.

Marion Cotillard, who is so very, very, very pretty, plays a doctor with the World Health Organization who travels to China to see how the disease originated. I was worried about her because she is also shown not wearing masks at times and they did a lot of close ups of her touching item after item after item after item. I don't want to spoil her storyline, so I'll just say I was a little confused with how they wrapped it up.

This was a decent movie, but it was a tad bit on the boring side at times. Reviewers kept saying that this movie will scare the daylights out of you because everyone gets sick and germs are everywhere!!! Eh, whatever. I was fine. I even used the restroom at my theater after the movie ended!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Where's Al when you need him?

Source Code
Director: Duncan Jones
Cast: Jake Gyllenhaal, Michelle Monaghan, Vera Farmiga, Jeffrey Wright
Released: April 1, 2011

In order to talk about this movie and discuss things that I find interesting (and confusing!), I have to spoil this movie, so if you have not seen it yet, you have been warned. There are going to be some huge spoilers revealed. I repeat, you have been warned! (By the way, it is a movie worth checking out, so go see it first and then come back and read this, because I would hate to have ruined it for you!)

Okay, so have you seen the movie? Good. If you haven't, I'll explain what it's about and maybe that will get you interested in seeing it before I really start spoiling things (which I need to do to really go in depth about this movie). Jake Gyllenhaal is sleeping on a train and wakes up quite disorientated. It's clear he doesn't know where he is or why he's there. He's looking around wildly and the woman sitting across from him (Michelle Monaghan) asks him if he's all right. It's clear that she knows him, but he doesn't know who she is. She keeps calling him "Sean" and he tells her his real name is Captian Colter Stevens and she just sort of laughs him off. He goes into a bathroom and when he looks in the reflection, it is not his, but a stranger's. The train ends up being blown up and he wakes up in a pod. On a TV screen Vera Farmiga is asking him if he found the bomb. Colter is very confused and soon learns that there has been a terrorist attack on the train and he's been sent to relive the last eight minutes as one of the passengers on the train (who was picked because he has the same body shape and was about the same age as Colter) to find who was responsible so he could stop a more massive attack on the entire city of Chicago. (Please don't ask me to explain the logistics of the situation...)

He keeps going back to this man's last eight minutes and with each one you get a different scenario, so it was kind of like a serious Groundhog Day. With each scenario, you got a clue to who wasn't involved and you learned something new each that fact that Colter was actually dead, but they were keeping a part of his brain alive so he could go on these missions. Don't ask me how that works.

Eventually Colter does find the bomber and he relays this information and the police and FBI are able to stop the suspect before he blows up an entire city. His mission was to stop this, but he wants to go back one more time and save everyone on the train because after going back so many times, he has fallen for Christina, his pretty companion. He does end up saving her and everyone else and he suspects that after the eight minutes this time, he'll die and the real Sean will be saved too, but no, Colter is still alive, but he's still inside Sean's body, so everyone thinks it's this Sean guy, but really it's Colter who's controlling him. Well, what about poor Sean? Everyone else on the train got to live, but that poor schmuck is the only one who had to give his life that day and not only that, but some stranger has inhabited his body and will have his girlfriend and his family confused...(and even more confused when they notice that "Sean" is acting differently), they'll never know that the REAL Sean is dead. Doesn't seem very fair to me! Now as an audience member, I know we're not supposed to care about Sean since we never met him and only see what he looks like for a split second.

There were many elements of this film that reminded me of Quantum Leap and while watching the commentary, the director said the same thing and he got Scott Bakula to voice Colter's father, so I thought that was cool.

I did like the movie, but it kind of gave me a headache and I felt bad for Sean!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Bowler Hats Needed

The Adjustment Bureau
Director: George Nolfi
Cast: Matt Damon, Emily Blunt, Anthony Mackie
Released: March 4, 2011

The Adjustment Bureau is part romance, part sci-fi with a dash of politics. Matt Damon plays David Norris, a young New York politician who's running for the state Senate. Before a big speech he has to give, he meets Elise (Emily Blunt), a ballet dancer, and immediately feels a connection with her, but is unable to get any contact info because she has to leave before security catches her because she had been crashing a wedding in the same building he's to give his speech. He had been down in the polls, but meeting Elise inspired him and he changes his entire speech so it's more him speaking and not the correspondents who help him with what he should say and should wear to appease the voting public.

It just so happens the next day he runs into Elise on a bus and is thrilled. They start up a conversation and she gives him her number. (Personally, I don't know what he saw in her - I thought it was extremely immature when she took his phone when someone was calling and answered by saying, "He's not here", and even more immature when she dropped his phone in her coffee. Like that's totally charming.)

Men With Hats
One morning David walks into his office building and notices that everyone is frozen and sees a group of men he doesn't know dressed in suits and bowler hats. Like anyone in his situation, he gets freaked out and starts running and calling for help, but the group of men sedate him and he wakes up to find himself in a huge abandoned warehouse. The leader of the group tells him they are part of the Adjustment Bureau and that they "are the people who make sure things happen according to plan". He tells David that he wasn't supposed to see them just now; that he should have spilled his coffee, gone back to his apartment to change, and had been ten minutes late. He tells him that if he tells anybody about them, that he will erase his entire mind and he will not remember anything at all or even know who he is. On top of all that, he tells David that he was never supposed to run into Elise on the bus and that he is never to see her again and burns the paper with her number on it.

Even though he only has Elise's (first!) name to go on, David doesn't give up trying to find her and three years later sees her walking down the street while on the bus and runs out to talk to her. She thinks that he had just blown her off all that time ago and doesn't believe him when he tells her he lost her number. She agrees to have lunch with them and the Bureau is alerted and quickly tries to come up with ways to separate them. They succeed, but David is determined and still manages to get to her with all these roadblocks in his way.

Why is the Adjustment Bureau so adamant about keeping David and Elise apart? Because separately they would have turned into extraordinary people. David is destined to be President, but could never be if he stayed with Elise because she is too much of a free spirit. Elise is destined to be one of the world's most famous dancers, but if she stays with David, she'll only be a ballet teacher for young kids. David is fine with giving up that dream to be with the woman he loves, but when he learns that her dream will never be fulfilled, he walks out on her while she's in the hospital after she sprains her ankle (something the A.B. made happen). I didn't understand why he couldn't just talk to her and say, "Look, I'm worried that if we stay together, I'll hold you back from being a great dancer and I think we should split up." She would have either agreed or not cared if that happened. Seriously, who cares if she never became one of the world's most famous dancers. There's nothing wrong with teaching ballet. She could always choreograph awesome dance movies like Center Stage! Can anyone even name a famous ballet dancer because I sure can't.

Eleven months pass and he finds out that Elise is getting married to her ex-boyfriend and decides that he does want to be with her (make up your mind!) and with the help of one of the members of the Bureau played by Anthony Mackie, he finds a short cut to get to the courthouse where she is to be married. The members of the Bureau have the cool ability to walk into one door and appear at a totally different location when they cross the threshold. Anyone who is wearing a bowler hat can do this. I loved the scene where he's running through doors and trying to dodge any of the members; I thought that was really well done.

Good movie, I really did like it despite some of my complaints. Personally if I were given all these signs that I shouldn't be with someone, I would take them all into account and be like, F it! They must not be worth it. That power with the hats is pretty cool though; that walking through a door and being closer to your location would come in rather handy, especially during the winter so I wouldn't have to drive in snow!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

July 15th

One Day
Director: Lone Scherfig
Cast: Anne Hathaway and Jim Sturgess
Released: August 19, 2011
Viewed in theaters: September 1, 2011

I saw this movie with my mom and we had both read the book by David Nicholls. We both agreed that if we had not read the book, we would have been a little lost. 

Before I go into my review, let me tell you about our audience. My mom and I were the first ones in the theater and more people came in right before the film started. Four older ladies sat right in front of us, a couple sat in the same row as us, and two people sat right behind us. The theater wasn't that small - there was plenty of room to spread out! Not only that, but the four ladies sitting in front of us TALKED THROUGH THE ENTIRE MOVIE! Ugh, it was really irritating. I kept hearing one of them ask the other something and felt like saying "Well, if you just watch the movie and STOP TALKING then maybe you'll know what's going on!" Of course they probably hadn't read the book.

The movie is about Emma (Anne Hathaway) and Dexter (Jim Sturgess) who start a relationship of sorts the last day of their college graduation, which is July 15, 1988. They're only friends at first, but there's the hint that they could be something more. We see their relationship evolve each year on July 15 for the next twenty years. Well, it's supposed to be twenty years. In the book, the first chapter starts in 1988 and the last one starts in 2007. The tag line on the poster reads "Two people, twenty years, one day". Well, the only thing thing is that while the movie starts in 1988, it ends in 2011! I can understand that they want to be current, but that drove me a little crazy because they're LYING on the poster! 1988 - 2011 does NOT equal twenty years! They should have have re-worded the tag to "Two people, twenty-plus years, one day".

Each time they want to establish it's a new year in the movie, they do a clever way of placing the year on the screen. I remember one was written on a wall and another is written on a computer screen. It kind of reminded me of the clever ways Heroes used to show its titles. (Loved season 1 of that show, but it just wasn't the same after that!) Some of the years go by pretty fast. While you may get a good twenty pages for each year in the book, in the film, you might only get five (or less!) minutes. Obviously in the book, Emma and Dexter are more fleshed out.

One of my favorite scenes in the book is when Dexter is having dinner with his girlfriend's (not Emma) family and they're very rich and snooty and she has younger twin brothers who are being little snots. They play a parlor game called "Are You There, Moriarty?" and if I had seen the movie without reading the book, I would have been very confused. The book explains the parlor game and it's a lot funnier when he accidently injures his girlfriend. Her twin brothers are also a lot funnier (and snottier!) in the book.

It was fun to see the fashion and technology and hear the music for each year. That was one of the things that the book couldn't really show.

Word of advice: you might want to bring tissues with you to the theater. I won't say that you'll cry happy tears or sad tears because I don't want to spoil anything.

It was a nice movie, but the book is better. I would advise to read the book first, then rent the movie when it's on DVD.