95: Real Steel (I really did watch it)

Real Steel – October 7, 2011
Starring: Hugh Jackman, Evangeline Lilly, Anthony Mackie, Dakota Goyo
Written by: Shawn Levy
Directed by: John Gatins

The plot: “Set in the near future, where robot boxing is a top sport, a struggling promoter feels he’s found a champion in a discarded robot. During his hopeful rise to the top, he discovers he has an 11-year-old son who wants to know his father.” – IMDB (I have to say that this description is kind of shit. His kid feels like he’s found a champion and his father only agrees after he wins a few fights.)

My thoughts: So I watched Real Steel last night, much to my surprised as I remember seeing the trailer in the theater and saying “I’ll not be seeing a movie about Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots” and yet there I was last night, watching Hugh Jackman virtually box for a robot.

So basically, Hugh (I’m only going to call him Hugh, not his character name) is not a good dad. The woman who gave birth to his son dies which makes him the next of kin. However, the mom’s sister really wants the kid and Hugh really needs some money (because he has to be kind of down and out and learn a lesson from the kid and all that), so much so that Hugh sells him to the kid’s uncle for 100,000 dollars. The catch is, Hugh has to keep him for the summer so the hoity toity new parents can go to Italy.

But of course, the kid is cool and after some grumbling and obvious points about how the kid and Hugh are so similar, they fix up an old sparring ‘bot and – hold on, I’m not sure you’re gonna believe this – they start winning! And on their first professional fight (in a huge ass arena) this smug little kid runs up, grabs the mic, and challenges the apparent God of robot fighting to a battle. Let me just say, he was spittin’ some whack shit.

And then Hugh Jackman gets the shit beat out of him (but not really because it’s a kid’s movie. They make sure to tell us that it’s “within an inch of his life” though, just so we understand how bad it was supposed to be.) So he makes an adult decision and brings him back to his new parents as people wish to beat him up on the reg, it seems. But then he goes back to Evangeline Lilly (who surprisingly isn’t annoying) and they smash their lips together and he realizes he made a mistake in giving the kid up a second time.

I want to mention one thing: this kid and his robot? They dance. And even though everyone in the movie is like “Oh damn! That kid and his robot got mooooves!” They don’t. I assure you. He is an 11-year-old who has no rhythm and no ability to groove in any capacity. I suffered major second-hand embarrassment every time he started dancing. I guess I shouldn’t be so critical of an 11-year-old who was hired to act, not to dance.

For being a movie about boxing robots and family stuff, it could’ve been worse. I can’t help but like Hugh Jackman as well as his muscles that have muscles. The robots were kind of cool, the backstory was believable (though the way they told us was a bit exposition-y. Kid’s movie, Kaitie. It’s a movie for kids.) and it…it had heart.

Stars: 2.5/5

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94: Snow White and the Huntsman (in which I analyze)

Snow White & the Huntsman – June 1, 2012
Starring: Charlize Theron, Kristen Stewart, Chris Hemsworth
Written by: Evan Daughterty, John Lee Hancock, Hossein Amini
Directed by: Rupert Sanders

The plot: “In a twist to the fairy tale, the Huntsman ordered to take Snow White into the woods to be killed winds up becoming her protector and mentor in a quest to vanquish the Evil Queen.” – IMDB

My thoughts: I’ll talk about the good stuff before I just ramble on and on about what I didn’t like about the movie.

1. Charlize was badass and beautiful and over-the-top (which I liked). Her costumes were a-maaah-zing.
2. Special effects were really cool. It was absolutely a movie I liked watching. It was visually stimulating. A+ on all that.
3. They made it gritty and that was cool. It was kind of “Game of Thrones”-esque inside the castle. I like that they weren’t afraid to “go there” as it were.

So let’s get down to it. If you’ve read even a few of my blog posts, you’ll probably have noticed that I tend to give movies the ol’ feminist eye when I watch them and I went into the movie thinking “Please be feminist, please be feminist” because it had such an opportunity to make it that way. And it just…didn’t. Not really.

Some people see KStew’s acting as being subtle, quiet, deep, whatever. Other people see her as being boring as shit and having the most annoying ticks/acting habits ever. I fall into the latter category. So yes, I did not read her as having a “quiet strength,” I saw her as being sulky and never once smiling and having zero passion about anything.

This take on Snow White gives the illusion of feminism. It says, “Look! Here’s this totally atypically beautiful girl (not at all), who is gentle (boring), but possessing an inner-strength (she just wants her kingdom back), and she doesn’t need to end up with a guy (the movie is called Snow White & the Huntsman and that lingering look at the end? Try and tell me that we’re not lead to believe that they end up together off-screen. Because they do).” Now let’s break this shit down:

BEAUTY

Great value is still placed on beauty in this movie, but it’s only okay if you’re just naturally beautiful. If you suck it out of anyone, then you shouldn’t be beautiful. There are some women in the movie who have given themselves (let’s be honest, minimal) scars on their faces and suddenly they’re not considered beautiful? What message is this sending? And why must “fair” hold the connotation of “beauty, attractiveness” when the twist could be that it means “just”? This movie could have done so much – had a truly normal-looking girl play the lead and give it a message of beauty only being skin deep and that strong character and will is what makes someone beautiful and worthy of the throne.

VIRTUE

The symbolism in Snow White was just about as obvious as the symbolism in The Chronicles of Narnia. In the movie, Snow White is said “to be life itself” and by that they mean she’s pure and by that they mean she is virginal – she is what a woman is meant to be. And it’s sooo obvious what they mean. She only rides white horses (who just appear when she needs them and die for her, no big deal), The Great Stag or whatever (also white) only appears for her and come on, that right there is a God-like figure. When she comes back to life, she is wearing a simple white dress, not unlike Christ and in the typical color of purity – White. She dies eating an apple (naturally poisonous because women are always fucking up by eating apples) and her name is SNOW WHITE. And she’s been trapped in a tower all her life so she’s hardly even been looked at by a man, let alone any human.

MASCULINITY

None. She has no masculinity in this movie. And I’m not saying she needs to, but it’s odd that all of her strengths are distinctly feminine. She connects with animals, she saves people, she cries, men fawn over her, and so on and so forth. Sure, she suits up and goes into battle but does not know how to fight. She is a damsel in distress for a large majority of the movie. When she saves the Huntsman from a troll, she does so with a scream and a calming energy or whatever. So yes, her femininity is her strength, awesome. But the fact that all she has is femininity is gendering her in an odd way.

WOMEN FIGHTING WITH WOMEN

Man, why are these stories about women being terrible to and having issues with other women? We already have men trying to bring us down, why do we have to go after each other? If anything, Ravenna’s revenge plan seems skewed. She hates men who use her for her beauty so she becomes more beautiful and kills other beautiful girls who probably also suffer the same fate that she did/would have? You think she’d be rounding up all the women trying to take down all the men but then this would be a review about all the misandry in the movie. The point is, the core of this story is about one woman hating another woman – not doing a damn thing for a plight, ladies! And over who’s hotter of all things.

Man, I don’t even know. I wanted it to be feminist, to truly have a strong female warrior lead who could blur the line between masculine and feminine and change the idea that “beauty wins” because that isn’t the right message.

Critics are right in calling it a darker fairy tale because it is dark. It’s dark to let young girls or impressionable women leave a theater with this belief that beauty+goodness=GOOD and beauty+evil=BAD because that’s not the point. GOODNESS=GOOD, EVIL=BAD. Beauty has nothing to do with it. God damn Hollywood, just perpetuating the myths of beauty and purity, always pitting woman against woman. How you gonna do us like that?

Stars: 2/5 (1 for visuals, 1 for Charlize)

93: Speed (In the form of a Drunk Film Review)

Hey all! I’m back (and this weekend is going to be chock-full of movie watching so hold tight)! Believe it or not, up until just the other week I had never seen Speed. It’s been around for nearly two decades and somehow…never have I laid my eyes on it.

And so I decided, “This would be perfect for a drunk film review! Let’s do this thing!” I took a fair number of peppermint patty shots and drank a few hard ciders and here is the result. Please to enjoy, yet again, my drunken antics!

Stars: 2

P.S. Does anyone enjoy these things? Can I get any feedback? Pretty please?

92: Safe House (spoilers that you could never hope to guess even a little bit)

Safe House – February 10, 2012
Starring: Ryan Reynolds, Denzel Washington
Written by: David Guggenheim
Directed by: Daniel Espinosa

The plot: “A young CIA agent is tasked with looking after a fugitive in a safe house. But when the safe house is attacked, he finds himself on the run with his charge.” – IMDB

My thoughts: Hold on tight, guys, because you’ll never see the twist in this movie coming. Not in a million years. No other film can prepare you for what you’re in for if you watch Safe House, the most unique movie to come along in nearly three decades.

For the first time ever, Denzel plays an ex-government agent in trouble with the law. But is he really guilty of all those crimes the CIA is accusing him of?

FUCK NO. When is Denzel ever really a bad guy (okay, so Training Day but that’s basically just the opposite of this movie)?

And young Ryan Reynolds. Will he continue to ignorantly love his country despite all of the evidence stacking up in front of his eyes and Denzel being strangely honest and frank with him?

FUCK NO. Ryan Reynolds will begin to doubt anything and despite attempting to see the good in his government/higher-ups, a single, solitary statement by his mentor will change everything. Complete 180! Shock! Awe! Disbelief.

And what about that guy that seems shifty but come on, could it be that easy? Could he really be the one pulling the strings? Surely it’s just a red herring and it’s just too bad that he seems so shady. It can’t possibly be him!

FUCK YES IT CAN BE. The moment he comes on screen and seems a bit too kind and decent and yet oddly secretive, well, sorry David Guggenheim, everyone just figured out all your little plot twists and secrets.

Action? Good. Denzel? Cool as hell. Ryan Reynolds? All-American rippling abs and a heart of gold. Everyone else? Vanilla government agents. I don’t know what I expected. Oh well, at least “No Church in the Wild” played in the end. That song was sick in the trailer.

Stars: 1/5

P.S. This movie is like…an hour too long. The only thing that happens for an hour and fifteen minutes is Ryan Reynolds chases Denzel, catches him, and loses him. Lather, rinse, repeat as unnecessary.

89: Drunk Film Review – it’s finally here! And it’s all about Ghost Rider

Yikes! Nearly two months since my last review. I feel so ashamed 😦 Somehow, my final quarter of college has been my most hectic. However, I did manage to make some time to get drunk, watch Ghost Rider, and review it. Tantalizing, I know. What follows is 9 minutes of a somewhat funny, quite drunk film review. Please to enjoy (and comment!)

85: The Hunger Games

The Hunger Games – March 23, 2012
Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Joshua Hutcherson, Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks
Written by: Suzanne Collins, Gary Ross, Billy Ray
Directed by: Gary Ross

The plot: “Set in a future where the Capitol selects a boy and girl from the twelve districts to fight to the death on live television, Katniss Everdeen volunteers to take her younger sister’s place for the latest match.” – IMDB

My thoughts: Yes, I am a fan of The Hunger Games book series (although, I will say that Suzanne Collins’s writing style isn’t exceptional. It’s the plot that’s top notch.) However, rather than blathering on and on about what they did and didn’t do right in the movie in comparison to the book, I’m going to try to keep it strictly movie related.

Unfortunately, it didn’t quite meet my expectations. Mind you, that might be because I had ungodly high expectations for the movie as I’ve been waiting for what feels like forever for it to come out, but all the same, not quite as good as I’d hoped. One thing I wasn’t a huge fan of was the cinematography. I get that it was an action movie and that shaky-cam adds a certain something. However, the second half of the movie was action and even then, there wasn’t a ton of all out running sequences. The camera just seemed too out of focus, too shaky, and like Tom Stern (director of photography on the film) couldn’t figure out what the hell he wanted to look at (I noticed this big time in the scene where Effie is making her announcements and pulling names). For a lot of the beginning of the movie, it’s hard to get a good look at where you are or who’s on screen.

The acting was a bit touch and go. Jennifer Lawrence had some really great moments but her delivery suffered a bit when it came to either crying or acting lovey-dovey toward Josh Hutcherson’s Peeta. Still, she remained a badass throughout. Perhaps she just plays the serious side of things a bit better on screen. But I must say, it was the supporting characters that blew. me. away. First of all, when is Woody Harrelson not wonderful? I swear you could give that man a script covered in shit and he’d make it work. He was perfect as the drunken, but still very wise, mentor Haymitch. Elizabeth Banks (and the entire makeup/wardrobe department) did a pitch-perfect job with Effie. Somehow, she manages to completely likable because of all of her unlikable qualities. Lenny Kravitz was good (not enough screen time, though) as Cinna and the plastic bag guy from American Beauty as the game’s director Seneca Crane was also lovely. And Stanley Tucci…well, do I really need to elaborate?

The set design was incredible. It was exactly as I imagined while reading and somehow better. The one thing I will say in regard to the book vs movie is that they certainly didn’t sacrifice or cut out anything stylistically. All of settings were so well done – something I think fans probably appreciate.

In general, I enjoyed the movie. I can see a lot of people who didn’t read the books enjoying it. However, my one gripe is all of the people (read: the girls sitting directly behind me) worrying only about the love triangle between Gale, Katniss, and Peeta because that’s supposed to be a sub-plot. And later in the books, it might not even qualify as that. The point is, she’s supposed to be a revolutionary and a strong female character. Stop worrying about how the super hot guys feel and worry more about the fact that there’s this 17-year-old girl forced to slay 23/die at the hands of her peers at her governments command. Sheesh!

Stars: 4/5

76: Haywire

Haywire – January 20, 2012
Starring: Gina Carano, Ewan McGregor, Michael Fassbender, Michael Douglas, Antonio Banderas, Michael Angarano
Written by: Lem Dobbs
Directed by: Steven Soderbergh

The plot: “A black ops super soldier seeks payback after she is betrayed and set up during a mission.” – IMDB

My thoughts: Oh Haywire, how could I not see you. A lady lead plus a few choice men in an action flick? I’ll take one please! I found that what I didn’t like about the movie was…what I liked? Let’s see if I can reform that sentence so it doesn’t sound like I’m A.) out of my mind crazy or B.) drunk. (This reminds me, I think I’d like to start a new bi-weekly segment entitled “drunk reviews” in which I get drunk while watching a movie and review it. Drunk.)

Anyway, let’s clarify that questionable statement. On one hand, I was hoping for/anticipating a Jason Statham style action flick – lots of weapons and outrageous combat scenes. So, when the fighting was raw and realistic looking, I was a bit let down. On the other hand, I kind of liked that Soderbergh went in that direction with the film. It provided a believable female lead (as well it should have – homegirl is an MMA fighter!) as you could obviously see her kicking ass in comfortable, steady, and lengthy (length for an action movie) shots. For being a movie about a woman who beats the shit out of multiple men, it was a quiet film.

There was one sequence I thought was kind of awesome: the Barcelona chase scene. It had a very 60s, new wave-y film style. Unfortunately, the internets are not complying with me in finding a full clip of the scene. Still, it’s awesome in that it stays trained on Gina’s character and gives a few overhead shots of how close she is to the guy she’s chasing after. And the music is all cool, 60s spy. Here’s a quick clip to give you a taste of what the scene is like (and you can see Gina kick some ass.)

What a lot of people are saying (and what I’m inclined to agree with) is that movie is all style and no substance. It’s a bit of a boring plot and at time moves along somewhat slow. However, getting to see a strong woman in a film that is cinematically gorgeous (her fight with Michael Fassbender is awesome) isn’t really the worst thing.

I feel sort of in-between about the movie. Visually lovely, plot a bit bland, quality acting (with the exception of Channing Tatum/Tatum Channing/Tanning Chatum/Chatum Tanning). I was a bit letdown by it. That and I couldn’t help but wonder who in the hale was putting her hair in cornrows throughout the film.

Stars: 2.5/5