Sunday, January 4, 2015

Into The Woods (2014)

I wish...I could say I loved the movie.  Recent musical adaptations from the stage to screen have left me disappointed.  Big disappointments include Phantom of the Opera (I have never enjoyed Joel Schumacher's work anyway), Les Miserables mostly due to the casting of Javert, and the current abomination of Annie (2014).  The movie musical isn't dead though, Chicago and Dreamgirls were quite satisfying adaptations and perhaps because they lent themselves better to film from the stage than other works.

Into the Woods first premiered on Broadway in 1987 and was later filmed for television and subsequently released on home video/DVD. I have watched that production many times over the years as well as several live stage versions over the last 20 years.  The plot was created for the theater. The songs were placed in such a way that build toward the end of a first act and then the shift for the second act. Much like the Phantom movie musical, the transition through the eliminated intermission feels feels awkward and rushed.  It also creates the need to alter or eliminate songs from the score.  Into the Woods was without several songs from the original score, this did not however, take away from the plot and would be missed by a movie audience.

The story revolves around some familiar fairy tale characters; Little Red Riding Hood, Jack and the beanstalk, Rapunzel and Cinderella along with some new characters including a Baker and his wife.  Their stories intertwine in a newly created storyline of the Baker and his wife trying to remove a curse so that they can have a baby.  The story is creative and all seems to be wrapped up into a happy ending. This is traditionally where act one ends.  Act two then follows with what happens after and then the story takes a steep dark turn. In the history of the stage show, many audience members have left after the first act, believing that it was the end of the show. The same went for the movie, where I heard some folk after the show saying that they felt the movie was too long and could have ended after the happy ending midway through the film. I had to to laugh, because that is just part of the Into the Woods experience.

Stand out performances came from Emily Blunt as the Baker's wife. She has a pleasant singing voice and was nice to look at.  I was less enthralled with Meryl Streep as the Witch. I just felt she was phoning in her performance in a paint-by-numbers portrayal of the role.  Frankly, she is also too old for the character.  The movie looked great from a cinematography standpoint but fell short of looking spectacular. I did take into account that much of the film takes place in the woods, a dark and dreary place and symbolic for the world in which we all live.  Into the Woods does not have a happy ending ultimately and you will not walk away feeling great about things.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Moon (2009)

Moon staring Sam Rockwell, was a darkly fascinating film. Sam's character Sam, is working on a moon base sending energy from the moons surface back to earth, very Dune like with harvesters and a cool A.I. buddy very like HAL 9000 from 2001. This film is a little like Fight Club mixed with a little Cast Away. It's a bit of a psychological drama, with a look at how those corporate bastards are just out to screw people over.
I really enjoyed this film, Sam does a wonderful job of playing multiple roles, Kevin Spacey as the voice of the computer GERTY does a great job voice acting.... or what ever you want to call it. This film is available on Netflix for instant viewing, Totally worth the time spent!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Lost Boys: The Tribe (2008)

Holy crap it's Crap! So I watched this film on Netflix from my Wii, and I am surprised my Wii did not need a good wipe down after this crap came out of it. Lets take a classic great vampire movie and ruin it with surfing vampires and too much sex for it's own good. Ok, so Corey Feldman needed some cash, and what do we get?
Weak story, weak plot and I just got bored! Sorry thats my complaint. It just was not interesting. From Frog brothers comics to Frog brothers board shapers... LAME!!! Sorry this is a short review, only cause much can not be said.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Avatar (2010)

The much anticipated 3D film came out screaming! I had high hopes for this film and it did not disappoint. If we were to take Fern Gully and Dances with Wolves and mash them together in 3D, Avatar is what would come out.
Ok it has a relatively simple and familiar story, What I'd call Americans, have come to an alien planet in the quest for unobtanium, a resource native to the planet and a large deposit of it just so happens to be under the alien species home tree. There, as we know from history, the outsiders try to take what is not theirs not caring who they displace or kill on the way to get it.
We follow a marine who learns to love the people he is sent to infiltrate. Enough said.
This film is worth seeing, in 3D any of the flavors of 3D just don't wast your time seeing it in 2D. A film this beautiful must be seen, so go see it, I know it's getting pricey it cost nearly $30 just for my wife and I to see it, that was just ticket cost...

Friday, August 21, 2009

Inglourious Basterds (2009)

Quentin Tarantino is one of the only directors in our times that creates for audiences a true cinematic experience. He does it again with his latest opus, Inglourious Basterds. The film is sort of a remake of an obscure Italian B-movie from the 70s, but other than the name, time and location of the film, it's pretty much a completely different movie. Like many Tarantino projects, this follows multiple storylines than eventually intersect.

The Inglourious Basterds are a commando group of Jewish Americans dropped into France during the Nazi occupation of WWII. Brad Pitt is the head of the group. All the characters are strong and unpredictable. They scalp a lot of Nazi's. There is so much more to the plot, but that's all I care to share at this point.

The movie is beautifully shot by cinematographer Robert Richardson, who is popular with Scorsese and Oliver Stone. The pop soundtrack was limited in this Tarantino release, but present and appropriate. Also missing was the strong language usually found in his films. The language issue is this film is that there is dialogue in English, French and German. There are a lot of subtitles to be read.

Tarantino takes time in the film to also show off his knowledge of both French and German cinema knowledge of the 40s. There are references to films and actors from that time in both countries. It's not often to get a modern film referencing UFA (the principal studio during that period in Germany). There is also a salute to the old nitrate film stock.

The R rating comes mostly for the graphic violence, i.e. realistic scalping! (153 minutes)

District 9 (2009)

District 9 does what hasn't been done in a long time. On a relatively meager budget, it manages to pull off a convincing sci-fi/action/morality tale. The film takes place in the present. A large spacecraft has stalled above Johannesburg, South Africa. Aboard were a bunch of sickly aliens who look similar to humanoid craw fish. They are kept in a secured concentration camp-like area called District 9. The area has become a slum and the government decides to evict them all...action ensues in the process.

There is the obvious correlation of this story to South African apartheid, but also a bigger statement on how we treat each other and other living things. Everyone becomes expendable.

The film is presented somewhat in a reality show ala Cops fashion but then morphs into a regular narrative driven film. The movie is cast with unknowns which helps bring you into the story without being distracted by a celebrity face. The CGI aliens are very realistic and also are not a distraction. The pacing is just right as you move through the story in almost real time.

I walked out of this thinking, "this is a great movie!" I think most people would feel the same way. The film is Rated R for the violence and language...think Humans and Aliens...blowing up, literally. (112 minutes)

Friday, June 5, 2009

Land of the Lost (2009)

"Marshall, Will and Holly
On a routine expedition
Met the greatest earthquake ever known
High on the rapids It struck their tiny raft (insert screams here)
And plunged them down a thousand feet below
To the Land of the Lost
To the Land of the Lost
To the Land of the Lost"
Sid and Marty Krofft have done it again, well kinda. I went into this film not expecting much, I was a fan of the TV series with all its cheap blue screen tricks and recycled stop motion animation. Directed by
Brad Silberling and starting Will Ferrell, Danny McBride and Anna Friel. It was everything I expected from a Will Ferrel movie and more. The countless call backs to the old TV series, the silly banjo music. It was quite a fun ride, if you are in the mood for a fun movie, this is it. The sequence when they all got loaded in the desert was pretty darn funny. Basically check it out.