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Monday, August 18, 2014

Movie Review - Hercules


Hercules  $$$

 

PG-13
98 Minutes
Starring: Dwayne Johnson, Ian McShane, John Hurt, and Rufus Sewell.
Director: Brett Ratner.
          

            The previews promised an action-packed retelling of the 12 labors of Hercules, including wrestling with Nemean Lion and a clubbing of the Erymanthian Boar. Combine that with the charm that Dwayne Johnson brings to the big screen and I found myself excited to see this movie.
            Unfortunately, that is not what I got. What I had thought were scenes from within the body of the film were actually packed at the beginning as part of a narrator’s telling of the Herculean labors of fame. I made the mistake of grabbing a drink of water and missed half of them. I felt cheated when I discovered that the scenes in the trailer were nothing more than a compacted history of Hercules and not part of the actual story being told in the film. Had I known that I would have been a little more hesitant about going.
            As it turns out the actual story involves a mortal named Hercules who is quite strong. The legends of the demigod are merely the fabrications of men. Okay, that is a cool concept, but unfortunately rather than base the plot on that it too is used as background for a rather average story about a group of mercenaries who are tricked into helping an evil ruler to become king.


            Here is how I ranked the film: 

1. Fun – If you like cheesy fantasy movies, and I do, then this should entertain you. The characters are interesting and I liked the basic concept. However, all the really cool stuff is jammed into the introduction.
            Hercules gets Half a MB for fun.
 
            2. Story – The concept is original, but the execution of that story is very mundane. It felt as if they lifted the plot from any number of B movies about strong-armed, dim-witted, sword-wielding heroes.
            Hercules gets Half a MB for fun.

            3. Technical – The cinematography and the special effects are on par with any of the big Hollywood productions. However, the directing seemed uninspired and this is where I ding the movie for putting together a movie trailer that I felt mislead me about what I could expect.
Hercules gets a HALF a MB for industry standard technical effects.

             4. Acting – I love Dwayne Johnson when he is charming. His serious acting is less of an attraction to me because he is less of an actor and more of a charismatic personality. In Hercules he attempts for some serious acting with a little bit of charm to go with it. I think it fails. The good news is that Ian McShane is outstanding in his role as the seer, Amphiarius. John Hurt and Rufus Sewell also turn in note-worthy performances.
            Hercules gets a Full MB for acting even though The Rock could have don better.
 
            Hercules gets a rating of 2 ½ Movie Bucks. This definitely felt like a discount theater movie. Even though it has a 2 ½ rating I still suggest waiting for it as a rental.

 
                        Randy’s Rating System 

$$$$   = Full Price    See this movie right away and pay full price, it’s worth it.
$$$     = Matinee      Catch this as a matinee or other discounted showing.
$$        = Discount     Wait until this movie reaches a discount theater near you.
$          = Rental         Wait until this movie reaches your local video rental outlet.
0          = No Sale       Don’t see this movie at any price.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Movie Review - Lucy


Lucy  $$

 
R
89 Minutes
Starring: Scarlett Johansson, Morgan Freeman, and Min-sik Choi.
Director: Luc Besson.
           

            What would happen if a person gained the ability to use 100% of their brain? That’s the premise of Lucy and an interesting one. 
            Lucy is tricked, by her boyfriend, into delivering a mysterious suitcase to Mr. Jang (Min-sik Choi). The suitcase turns out to be filled with a new, synthetic drug. Jang forces Lucy to carry a package of the drug inside her stomach in order to smuggle it out of the country, but due to an unfortunate incident the bag is ruptured. Lucy absorbs the drug which expands her mind, giving her the ability to use more and more of her brain.         
            Here is how I ranked the film:
 
1. Fun – I did not enjoy the movie at all. It was excessively violent when it didn’t need to be. I didn’t really care what happened to any of the characters and when the movie finally ended I was left with a "so what?" feeling.
            Lucy gets Zero MB for fun.  

            2. Story – The concept for the story was interesting, but not original. Lucy reminded me of other films, like Matrix, which were much better films. It is basically an extended chase story where Lucy flees the ruthless drug dealers.
            Lucy gets a Half a MB for story.
         
            3. Technical – There are a few special effects that added to the story, Lucy seeing the flow of data streams through the air, the cool super computer at the end, and a time travel bit. They were not enough to overcome the flaws of the film.
            Lucy gets a FULL MB for technical.   

            4. Acting – The problem with this film is that the lead character, Lucy, is envisioned as loosing her emotions as she gains greater use of her brain. For the most part acting is emotion. The only notable performance is from Morgan Freeman who basically is just there to provide the audience a lecture on what happens as humans gain the ability to use more and more of their brain. Frankly, they could have taken this portion of the film and turned it into a ten minute short and I would have enjoyed it more. The rest of the support cast does a reasonable job, but left no lasting impression with me.
            Lucy gets Half a MB for acting.

 
            One last note, it really bothered me that during one of the chase scenes Lucy uses her new-found brain power to toss police cars aside without any concern as to who might be injured or killed in the process. Then in a later scene she confronts thugs sent by Jang and merely disarms them, floating them harmlessly in the air afterwards. Why show restraint towards the bad guys and needlessly endanger the good guys and innocents?
            Lucy gets a rating of 2 Movie Bucks. People less bothered by the brutal approach taken with this film may like it better, however, I recommend catching it as a rental or not at all. None of the special effects require a big screen to appreciate.

 
                        Randy’s Rating System 

$$$$   = Full Price    See this movie right away and pay full price, it’s worth it.
$$$     = Matinee      Catch this as a matinee or other discounted showing.
$$        = Discount     Wait until this movie reaches a discount theater near you.
$          = Rental         Wait until this movie reaches your local video rental outlet.
0          = No Sale       Don’t see this movie at any price.

 

 

Monday, August 4, 2014

Movie Review - Guardians of the Galaxy


Guardians of the Galaxy  $$$$

 

PG-13
121 Minutes
Starring: Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Bradley Cooper, and Lee Pace.
Director: James Gunn.


            Based on a Marvel comic, Guardians of the Galaxy deals with a group of misfits that come together a team of heroes in the end. This is the movie I have been waiting for all year and I was not disappointed. 
            Peter Quill (Chris Pratt), a.k.a Starlord, was abducted from Earth as a child by a band of galactic rogues. Jump ahead 26 years and we find Quill pulling a galactic Indiana Jones as he recovers a mysterious orb. His buyer backs out of their deal when he discovers that Ronan (Lee Pace) is also interested in the artifact. As if that isn’t bad enough, the bounty hunter team of Racoon (Bradley Cooper) and Groot (Vin Diesel) attack him and an assassin Gamora (Zoe Saldana) attempts to steal the orb from him at the same time. All parties involved end up in jail and decide to work together in order to escape.
            The movie is fast-paced, action-packed, and funny. Here is how I ranked each of the aspects of the film: 

            1. Fun – Yes. Of the four areas I rate each movie, Guardians of the Galaxy fared the best in the fun department. Great fights. Great humor. Great characters interacting with one another in an extremely entertaining manner.
            If I could give more than a Full MB for this category I would.  

            2. Story – The main storyline is fairly typical. A bunch of misfits learn to work together to become something truly great. And for that I would normally only give a half MB for story. However, the writers did an excellent job of weaving a heart-warming element into the film. That’s right, I said heart-warming. The subplot between Peter and his mother really gave it the additional emotional boost to make this film special.
            I give Guardians of the Galaxy a Full MB for story.

            3. Technical – There are plenty of explosions, cool alien ships, and of everything that goes with them. The Director did an excellent job putting the film together. My only complaint with the film is I didn’t care for the makeup job they did on the red aliens. That part of it looked a little cheesy to me. But it wasn’t enough for me to reduce the rating of the movie because of it.
            I give Guardians of the Galaxy a Full MB for technical.

            4. Acting – I thoroughly enjoyed most of the characters in the film, but if I had to pick out a weak point in the movie it would be acting. Chris Pratt is amazing as Peter Quill. After seeing him in this film I want to find out what else he’s done and watch those movies. Dave Bautista as Drax and Michael Rooker as Yondu were also great. I felt that the rest of the cast were good, but not nearly as impressive.
            I give Guardians of the Galaxy a Full MB for acting.            

            Put all of that together and Guardians of the Galaxy gets a rating of 4 Movie Bucks. It isn’t a perfect movie, but its strengths really made up for its weaknesses. I caught it as a matinee, but only because I wanted to beat the crowds.

 
                        Randy’s Rating System 

$$$$   = Full Price    See this movie right away and pay full price, it’s worth it.
$$$     = Matinee      Catch this as a matinee or other discounted showing.
$$        = Discount     Wait until this movie reaches a discount theater near you.
$          = Rental         Wait until this movie reaches your local video rental outlet.
0          = No Sale       Don’t see this movie at any price.