It's 2 years later, and Stu (Ed Helms) is getting married to Lauren (Jamie Chung) in Thailand. Along for the wedding are friends Phil (Bradley Cooper) and Doug (Justin Bartha). Also, they reluctantly invite Alan (Zach Galifianakis). Come wedding weekend, Phil, Stu, and Alan wake up in Bangkok, and Lauren's little brother Teddy (Mason Lee) has gone missing. They have no idea what happened. Their only clues are Alan's shaved head, Stu's tattooed face, a monkey, Teddy's cut-off finger, and a naked Mr. Chow (Ken Jeong). Just as before, they must figure out where their missing person is, try to remember what happened to them, battle some gangsters, and get to the wedding before it's too late.
You've heard it all before, as I've said: This movie is a carbon copy of the first film. It's the same full outline and same exact jokes, just a different setting. But did that bother me? Not really. It almost became a game trying to figure out how they were going to emulate something from the first film (this might make me sound like an idiot, but that being said, I still couldn't figure out what happened to Teddy until the reveal). The main difference, though? This film felt much darker than the first. The first was much more lighthearted; even the gangster stuff never felt threatening, but silly (in a good way). The sequel, however, ups the stakes and makes you feel there's some real danger. It's actually uncomfortable how seriously the movie is taking itself at times (though it's not the whole time, thankfully).
But because of these similarities, I have nothing to review. The only new thing I can talk about is Teddy. His acting is iffy, and the movie missed a huge opportunity to have any kind of character development with him. Otherwise, I'll just leave it at this: if you liked the first one, there's no way you can dislike this one... unless the carbon copy/been-there-done-that feel of it bothers or annoys you. If you can get over that, you'll enjoy it. If you hated the first one, you probably weren't gonna see this one anyway. I saw it. I laughed. It was a good time. Could it have been better? Sure. But I went in knowing (mostly) what to expect, and that's what I got.
I never noticed this until I re-watched this movie recently (and thanks to Jess for pointing it out), but at about the halfway point of this movie, the songs just kind of stop and/or stop being all that good. Also, there is an uneven-ness with the choreography. Sometimes it's good, sometimes it's spotty. But there are a couple songs that hit all the right notes. One of these such songs is "Seize the Day," both the first time and the reprise (which occurs after that strange halfway mark).
First, Seize the Day:
This installment gives us almost sole focus on Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp). Because of his past with Angelica (Penelope Cruz), he ends up on the Queen Anne's Revenge, the pirate ship helmed by Blackbeard (Ian McShane). Blackbeard then forces Jack to help him find the fountain of youth. But he's not after it alone. Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush) is back and working for the British king, leading his men to the fountain, as well, bringing along Jack's first mate Gibbs (Kevin McNally), too. Along the way they meet some people, fight some mermaids, and have generally wacky adventures.
The first thing I noticed was that it was horribly clear this was a different director. Not only does the movie feel different, but Jack as a character feels off slightly. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, but it's not necessarily a good thing, either. The film pulls back and tries to capture the charm of the first film, though it doesn't quite get there. And in the process, it loses even some of the better things from the two sequels. For instance, there are maybe 3 good sword fights, but only one is really all that memorable, and it's pretty early on in the film. The action in the movie is scaled back, which is unfortunate, as that was always my favorite part.
Also sorely missed are some of the more secondary characters from the first three films. And no, I don't mean Will Turner and Elizabeth Swann. No, I mean the comedic duos (and often Greek Chorus) Pintel and Ragetti, as well as even the two British guards whose names I can't remember at the moment (that both become pirates by the end of the third movie, if I remember correctly). In fact, the whole of the Black Pearl crew is gone because, well, the Black Pearl is gone. It's a plot device--a really weak and overall unexplored one, but one that's there.
But the movie isn't all that bad. It's not all that great, but it's not all that bad. There's just nothing incredibly memorable about it. It's a fun time while watching, but afterwards it's just pretty decent thinking back. The mermaids are a lot of fun, though, to be honest. The whole mermaid sequence was pretty scary, actually, and unnerving. And then the use of the mermaids from that point on is interesting, even though the movie doesn't really go too deep into their mythology after the surface level.
Is Captain Jack back? Not completely, but he's getting there. My feelings on this film were almost equal to my thoughts on Fast & Furious (the fourth installment in that series, as well). It's fun while you're there, but there was a lot that could have been better about it. And hopefully, like that same series, a fifth will come about that will prove to be just as good as if not better than the original. If you're a fan of the series, this one won't hurt you. It's good--it just could have been better.
The movie tells the story of Marie (Cecile De France) who is going with her friend Alex (Maiwenn Le Besco) to her parents' farm home. But when a psychotic truck driver (Philippe Nahon) shows up and kills Alex's whole family and kidnaps Alex, it's up to Marie to save her friend from certain death.
Like the title says, the tension is rather high throughout the film. Though speaking of titles, I read something rather interesting. Apparently this movie completely rips off Dean Koontz's novel Intensity (even taking the root word for the title). I used to be a big fan of Koontz, though I hadn't read that one. But even looking up information on the book, I have to say--it's damn near plagiarism what this movie did. It should have given at least inspirational credit or something. IMDb gives Koontz credit, but I don't think the official filmmakers did, which stirred some controversy.
Regardless, the movie was intense and entertaining. The twist, as I'd been warned, doesn't make a lick of sense. I mean, a lot of you think the twist in Book of Eli doesn't make sense because things don't match up... just check this one out. Just thinking about it will make your brain explode. Still, the movie mostly overrides its twist and stays a good, fast ride.
I don't have a heck of a lot to say about the movie. Let's put it this way: If you're a fan of French horror--or even The Hills Have Eyes remake (particularly the portion of the film where Doug slowly becomes a badass)--you'll enjoy this movie. It's well made and entertaining. It's definitely not perfect, but you get what you want out of it. And it also continues my theory that I'll enjoy anything Luc Besson touches (even though he's only an uncredited co-producer in this case).
Troll 2, which I'll be reviewing later this year, is known for being the "Best Worst Movie." I can honestly say, even by the time I was less than an hour into 2001, that this is the "Worst Best Movie." After 3 minutes of blackness and music, about 7 more minutes of landscapes and music, another 15 minutes of monkeys (and/or early human species) and music, a random monolith (which shows back up later) and music, and another 35 minutes of random space travel and boring talkie stuff (sometimes with music), we reach the hour mark of the movie when the "story" picks up. Humankind is studying this strange monolith thing, along with a computer system HAL. And other really boring crap happens, too.
There are 2 things this movie excels at: Visuals and Music. Let me start with the visuals. The visual effects are mindblowing, and I found myself questioning how Kubrick pulled off a lot of stuff. But everything visually--practical and otherwise--definitely holds up. The soundtrack, of course, is fantastic, as well. But with its reliance on such a classical track and minimal talking, there are some obvious issues that arise. The movie is awfully dull, despite some fascination on how things were pulled off. There's only so much you can take with almost nothing going on for 2.5 hours.
The HAL stuff is definitely interesting. But, of course, that's the part that is most famous. It's the most quoted or referenced bit. It's mysterious and creepy. It also leads into the movie's "twist," which is why it fits into this month. But at the same time, it's still pretty dry and not supremely fascinating. Still, it's the best part of the movie (once things start going bonkers).
On the other hand, there's absolutely no reason to show us every single second of movement and whatnot. There's a reason movies and books tend to skip over scenes of the eventless, menial tasks of everyday life--sleeping (that's not horror or romantic), going to the bathroom (that's not a comedy), quiet meal times (that aren't filled with dramatic tension). I've always dreamed about going into space. But if there were a movie that could possibly make space travel unexciting and actually stop the child-like wonderment of being an astronaut, it's this one. Congratulations, Kubrick. You've made the "eventless scene" movie and killed my childhood dreams in the process.
So this is my summation of the film: The first hour of the movie is a dry Sci-Fi Fantasia with "talkie" interludes and without the charm of Mickey Mouse and dancing hippos. The second hour of the movie is like taking the music out of a techno song, leaving only the monotone, pointless, repetitive babbling. And the last 20 minutes? Um... God had an orgasm, ejaculated Tron, got pissed at how crappy it looked, destroyed the universe in an effort to get rid of the evidence, took some LSD, and remade everything--though with a slight uncertainty on what to do with Dave. That's about the best I can explain it (sorry if you found that offensive). You want to see what a more entertaining (and sensical) version of this movie would be like? You're in luck. It's called WALL-E. Check it out.
Premise: A no-nonsense lawyer takes on the case of a disturbed alter boy accused of murdering a priest, but things aren't quite what they appear to be.
Starring: Richard Gere, Edward Norton, Laura Linney, and Frances McDormand.
My Reaction: This was a good little thriller. This was one of the only films this month I didn't know the twist for (though Jason nearly spoiled it for me about 30 minutes before it was revealed). The acting is pretty dang good. The story is interesting, though almost too bloated. There are a couple side stories that fortunately tie into the main one, so they aren't too extraneous. Overall a really good film. The film bordered on too predictable and slightly cliche, but the last 15 minutes or so really does make up for most of it. Good stuff.
I didn't exactly love Sweeney Todd, and it takes a while for the movie to really pick up. But it's about this point in the movie I started liking it. The second I realize the direction the story is going and what this song is going to be about (pretty quickly), I couldn't help but laugh. The whole thing is morbid, punny, and hilarious. It's my favorite song in the movie--A Little Priest.
~Best Rating System!
~Best Blog Title!
~Best Podcast - The Demented Podcast!
After a nice discussion, we have our Versus. Who would win in a fight between the zombies and the village from Fuzz? It's really no contest. But you know what is? The Demented Tower! Rachel climbs it, and she has a lot to live up to as not only the highest scorer the previous season, but also as the current Battle Royale champion! And with her face-to-face with me, I can assure you she couldn't cheat. (As if she would do such a thing!)
Current Tower Leaderboard
1) Jason - 126 Points
2) Jess - 123 Points
3) Nick - 104 Points
4) Simon - 92 Points
Nolahn - Incomplete
Rachel Thuro - 171 Points
You can listen to this episode on the player below or by subscribing through iTunes.
That being said, enjoy! Thanks goes out to Kevin MacLeod's Incompetech website for great, royalty-free music. And thanks to Google for helping me find a website that will give me free video game audio samples.
Fortunately, the movie was a lot funnier than I expected it to be. The movie has been compared a lot to The Hangover, but it honestly isn't very similar at all. The similarities stop at the fact it's wacky adventures with a group of people, and one of them is goofy and strange. And similar to Zack Galifianakis in The Hangover, I'm not sure Bridesmaids would have been even half as good or funny without Melissa McCarthy. She really made the movie. Her whole part on the airplane was great, as was the scene near the end when she gives Annie a pep talk. Though the movie does take it one step too far in the extra credits scene.
I think the movie's biggest issue, though, is its pacing. Some things were too long. Some weren't long enough. The tone was a bit off, too. I mean, in one scene you could have a character taking a crap in the middle of the road. In a nearby scene, you could have a character discussing hitting rock bottom in life and just being all-around depressed (and not in a funny way). Kristin Wiig's character just went a bit too serious for a movie that has some of the gags it does. I also would have liked to have seen more stuff between Annie and Rhodes--a very sweet part of the movie that could have been built up more around the middle of the movie. Outside of that, there were issues with the length of scenes. Eventually, you're like "OK, we get it already. Move on." The airplane sequence, for example, just kept going on and on, but the jokes were essentially the same. It built to a good payoff, but the middle could have easily been trimmed. And there were quite a few scenes where this issue arose.
Speaking of trimming things, the bridesmaids themselves were only half important. Becca and Rita are completely pointless. They're basically just background characters. Yet some scenes are dedicated to showing their half of what's going on, when they have almost no importance to the overall scene or movie.
I know this review has seemed negative, but I really did enjoy the movie. It was really funny. The best parts dealt with both Melissa McCarthy and Chris O'Dowd (not together, obviously). And Jon Hamm as the douchebag ex-boyfriend is hilarious, too. He has some really funny one-liners. It isn't a perfect movie, but if you're looking for a good laugh, this would be a fun one to check out.
...and I was so bored through the whole thing. I honestly have almost nothing to say about the movie. I eventually stopped paying much attention after a while--something I've never done before in this project. Perhaps it was the timing of the whole thing (I was tired; I had just come from an amazing 4 days that continued to preoccupy my thoughts; etc.). Or perhaps I just didn't care for the style of the movie. It was Fritz Lang's first "talkie," made in 1931 (I believe putting it as the oldest film on this whole list). It's in German--I don't have a problem with subtitles, but put in the fact that I was tired and mentally preoccupied, and you might understand.
But the one thing that got to me the most was the sound... or lack thereof. There are a ton of moments where there's just... nothing. There's no talking, no music, no sound effects... just nothing. It didn't keep me engaged in moments that really needed to keep me engaged. Don't get me wrong, though--the fact that the killer went around whistling "Mountain King" was a great idea, and I did like that aspect of the whole sound thing.
All together, though, I just didn't care. I understand the commentary and blah blah blah behind the movie. It just didn't grab me. I might eventually give it another chance at some point in the distant future, because I know I didn't give it a fully fair chance. But yeah... Sorry, folks. I know, this was my lamest review for this project. I really don't want to put out those excuses (tired, preoccupied). It was a story I really enjoyed the idea of, but the execution was totally not my cup of tea. Send the hate mail now.
Today's musical number comes from one of my favorite Disney animated films. After Aladdin discovers Genie, he gets a little info on what he can and can't do. This is quickly followed up by a song that elaborates even more on the possibilities. It's a very fun and magical song, and it completely encapsulates everything it is to be in Robin Williams' head. So here's Friend Like Me.
The film is about Christina (Vera Clouzot), the wife of an abusive school headmaster named Michel (Paul Meurisse). Christina, however, teams up with Michel's mistress, a woman named Nicole (Simone Signoret), to kill him, but giving themselves a perfect alibi. And after they go through the entire process and wait for the body to be discovered "accidentally," they first discover that the body has gone missing. Now the women--particularly Christina--start going crazy, trying to figure out where the body went and what they should do next.
The first 30 minutes of this movie is horribly boring. I thought it dragged immensely, and I just waited and waited for it to go anywhere. I was really worried considering it was a 2 hour movie. Thankfully, it picks up pretty fast right around the 30 minute mark and the murder stuff starts. For the next hour and a half, it kept my attention (mostly due to the fact I was forced to pay attention to the subtitles). It did get a bit repetitive sometimes (I get it... she's paranoid). But there were some fun moments. Early on, when they're transporting the body, there's some suspense that they could be found out. Granted, I figured they wouldn't, but it was there. And then later, a detective joins the story, and I wish he would have been in the film more. I liked his character, and he's really only in it minimally.
There's not a lot I really have to say about the movie. The mood it sets is perfect. There are disturbing images (particularly anything with a bathtub), and there's a lot of shadow and stormy weather. I found it interesting that, while it shares a lot in common with even modern day murder thrillers, the story wasn't focused on the whodunit--or even the whydunit--but the will-they-get-away-with-it. And then the twist happens, and you realize it really was a whodunit and a whydunit all along. It's very clever like that.
Overall, it was an entertaining movie once it got going. If you like murder mysteries and thrillers--and/or french cinema--I'd say to check it out. I didn't love it by any means, but it was good. I actually really wish I hadn't had it spoiled for me. I honestly think I would have loved the movie had I not known and been surprised by the ending. Oh well.
For those of you who follow my podcast, you might remember an earlier episode with one Travis McCollum. During his turn on The Tower, he had to find the pattern between a bunch of movies... and one of those movies was The Crying Game. A running joke came from that episode when he couldn't figure out the answer--that all the movies had full-frontal male nudity--and all he could remember (and shared at great length) about said movie was, and I quote, "penis." Fortunately, I already knew the twist, and this didn't spoil it for me. And I don't believe it spoiled the overall movie for me, either.
The movie begins as IRA terrorists take hostage a British soldier named Jody (Forest Whitaker). One of his captors, Fergus (Stephen Rea), befriends him--until he's given orders to kill him. One of Jody's last wishes is for Fergus to find his lover, Dil (Jaye Davidson), and make sure she's alright. But then Fergus starts to fall in love with Dil... until he finds out her secret. The film co-stars Miranda Richardson as Jude (another IRA terrorist) and Jim Broadbent as Col (a bartender).
This is one twisted romance. A man falls in love with a woman who was in love with the man he was hired to kill, only to find out the woman is actually a man... and then get caught back up in IRA situations. And it all culminates in a scene where Dil is practically insane. I was fascinated by the relationship through the bulk of the film. However, the climax of the movie just seemed... off to me. It didn't feel right for the character. Not to mention the whole third act after the IRA peeps come back into the story just felt cliche and shallow, just added back into the story because there needed to be some action conflict.
The best part of the film, however, was the first act of the film. The bond formed between Forest Whitaker and Stephen Rea is fantastic and heartbreaking. But I do wish there would have been more focus on this part of the film, to make it seem like 3 days had actually passed. It also would have helped to know what was going on. Maybe I missed some throw-away line after he was taken, but I still have no idea why they took him hostage. The whole first 30 minutes felt rushed, despite the fact the relationship and chemistry between Rea and Whitaker was fantastic. It just would have helped the believability of going to find Dil and the conflict faced at the climax of the first act.
So yeah, the best thing about the movie was the relationships between both Fergus and Jody and Fergus and Dil. But everything else was just... OK. It was a good movie overall--I just think it could have been better. The acting was great from Stephen Rea; Forest Whitaker's strange British accent bugged me, though--and that says a lot coming from the master of bad British accents. Jaye Davidson was quite a find. Even after the movie, I had to look up and see whether he really was a guy or not. But yeah, good movie... not great, but good. And I could see why the only thing Travis could remember about this movie was... penis.
NICK: Thank you for speaking with me today. I know you're known by many names at this point. Do you have a preference?
THOR: That is correct. I am The Mighty Thor. Thor Odinson. The Thunder God. Donald Blake, MD. But I suppose you may call me Thor.
NICK: Well, Thor, I know when this mo--biopic--was first announced, there was some thought that it might not be all that "Mighty," so to speak. People haven't followed your life as much as other heroes. In other words, they didn't think the film would do all that well.
THOR: Yes, I have heard such things. Ignorant mortals think that just because nobody has heard of you that your life's story will mean nothing. But I am the god of thunder, for Odin's sake! Entire populations worshiped and feared me.
NICK: No offense, but that was a long time ago. And this film is based more on your serialized biography than the events themselves.
THOR: That is true. But the point remains, human, that there should have been no worry that my story would have been any less received. Just look at my friend Tony Stark.
NICK: Yes, that's a good point. Iron Man more or less exploded at the box office. Now, you mentioned he's your friend--
NICK: --Well, I wanted to talk about your upcoming exploit The Avengers. I noticed quite a few nods to the upcoming, um, biopic in your film.
THOR: Yes! The Avengers is by far our greatest accomplishment, and we like to build the anticipation for this particular quest in our respective biopics.
NICK: Yeah. Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk, and Iron Man 2 have already given us some insight, and Captain America is the last scheduled to arrive prior to the big one itself. However, do you feel that it's beginning to be too much? For instance, a lot of people disliked Iron Man 2 because of how it was more an Avengers prequel than a proper Iron Man story. What's to stop your story from falling into that same trap?
THOR: That is a good question. While Stark's second venture might have kept its focus on the Avengers aspect, my story is merely surrounded by it without being overwhelmed. For instance, if you have a good eye, you will notice a brief cameo by Hawkeye to set up his position in S.H.I.E.L.D. And if you pay attention, you will also note a brief, though unnamed reference to a Mr. Bruce Banner. Otherwise, only Agent Coulson--a man who has appeared in the other films--is a major connection to the Avengers storyline.
NICK: Yes, I did catch those things. I actually have to say I enjoyed the fact that it wasn't overwhelmed with Avengers storylines while still being there enough to keep it grounded in that universe. And speaking of universes, I'm curious as to how you thought this film portrayed your life story, or at least this part of it.
THOR: Ah, very well. It captured the beauty of Asgard and the dreary coldness of Jotunheim fantastically. Kenneth Branaugh, while sometimes using curious angles, did give us some amazing shots. He also managed to capture both the humor of situations and the complexity of my transformation from arrogant god to a calmer, more understanding being.
NICK: Yes, I agree there was some good humor, particularly from the lovely leading ladies. And what I thought was captured even more interestingly than your own complexity was the complexity of your brother, Loki. He's not your typical villain. I found his reasons for things he did were interesting and sometimes well intended, however misguided. You could tell he wasn't pure evil or even crazy; his motives came from a logical place, and his transformation was notable.
THOR: Yes! Villainous as he might be, Loki's tragic downfall was indeed captured well. He's not just some emotionless being.
NICK: The last thing I'd like to ask you about it the action. Do you think it showed you to your full potential?
THOR: Absolutely. From start to finish, I was shown as the fantastic fighter than I am. It is a true spectacle and quite fun, if I do say so. I have heard rumblings that the ending might feel anticlimactic between my brother and I, but I must disagree. While not as epic as the fight with The Destroyer, the fight with my brother was much more emotional on multiple levels and, thus, quite satisfying.
NICK: Well, I know you're a busy god. Is there anything else you'd like to announce before I let you go?
THOR: Keep an eye out for The Avengers next year. And stay tuned after the credits for another extra scene--it might not make much sense now, but I promise it will in the future.
THOR: This was a fantastic interview. You are a very charming human. I will make sure you do not die in any future battle.
NICK: Well... thanks!
THOR: Of course.
[Immediately after this interview, Thor was hit by a car. But he's OK. Promise.]
I said there would be more numbers from musical episodes of TV shows. Well, here's the next one. There's no way this one couldn't be on the list. There are quite a few good songs on this episode, but this is far and away the best. It's the ultimate bro-mance song... and that's really all you need. It's Guy Love.
I think the sign of a good mystery is that, even if you know the twist, you're still engaged. And in this case... that held true. For this film, there are really two twists. There's one that happens about halfway through (the big one that was spoiled for me) and the whodunit at the end. While I didn't know the whodunit, there is a very limited cast in the movie, and it could only be a few people. Thankfully, it kept me guess. Was it this person? That person? More than just one person? Why did it even happen? And you find out and it's so simple.
The acting was good for the most part. It started getting strangely melodramatic near the end, a trait the movie hadn't had for the majority of the time. Vincent Price looked so much younger than he typically does in other things I've seen him in--to the point it took me over half the movie to realize it was him (despite seeing his name in the opening credits). But the main person I'd like to talk about is Dana Andrews as the detective. He's a cool, somewhat smooth jackass who--at times--was really fun to watch. However, he really walked that line between cool cat and completely dull. His voice bordered monotone and uninterested. It was never enough to fully distract me, as he bounced back and forth between the two.
But then there's the big thing about the film that I heard a lot in looking up about this film: the detective falls for the dead woman he's investigating. To be honest, I didn't really see it besides one obvious scene. Otherwise, I saw maybe some infatuation with her looks, but most of it was obsession over solving the case and what happened. This isn't really an accusation of the film itself as much as to those who reference the film and say that this is a major part of the story. Maybe I just missed something.
Strangely, the film won a Best Cinematography Oscar, but I didn't notice any super fantastic cinematography. It just seemed normal. Though maybe it was a "of the time" kind of thing. It was, however, nominated for other things, as well... including writing, which I think would have been more deserving. Though I honestly can't say I've seen (or heard of) the other films from that year (1944), especially the two films that seemed to sweep the awards that year: Wilson and Going My Way. But the writing was rather solid, and I enjoyed quite a bit of the back-and-forth dialogue between the characters.
Overall, I enjoyed the film quite a bit. I find, however, that it's one of those films I enjoyed more as I watched it than as I go back and think about it. And regardless of liking it even while knowing the big twist, I think I would have liked it even more had I not. So really, if you're a fan of detective stories and/or murder mysteries, I'd say give it a go. It's a really entertaining ride, and I for one wouldn't mind seeing it again.