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Thursday, December 18, 2014

Movie Review - Penguins of Madagascar


Penguins of Madagascar $$$ 1/2  

 
 

PG
92 Minutes
Starring: Tom McGrath, Christopher Knights, John Malkovich, and Benedict Cumberbatch.  
Directors: Eric Darnell and Simon J. Smith.
  

            In my opinion, the penguins were the best part of any of the Madagascar films. They have their own television show. And now they have a movie. Hooray. 
            As far as a plot goes, to celebrate the birthday of Private (Christopher Knights) the penguins break into a highly-secure facility to obtain a rare treasure and are snagged by the evil mad-scientist, Dave (John Malkovich).
            Being the resourceful flightless birds that they are they escape and find themselves working at odds with a secret organization known as the North Wind. Both teams run afoul (pun intended) of one another as they attempt to prevent Dave from unleashing his diabolical plan upon the world.
     

            This is how I rated Penguins of Madagascar .

1. Fun – A movie like this might appeal to you if you like to laugh a lot. I know I certainly enjoyed it. Watch for the celebrity name dropping done by Dave whenever he speaks to his minions. I give it a Full MB for fun.

2. Story – The story really is only there to provide a vehicle for the penguins to travel around the globe creating havoc in their own unique way. I did like the plotline involving Private and his quest to be a valuable member of the team. I give it Half a MB for a decent, uncomplicated storyline.

3. Technical – Dreamworks puts out quality films with high expectations in the technical department. This movie is no exception. I give it a Full MB for visual and audio excellence.

4. Acting – Strong performances all around. You should already know what to expect from the penguins and they deliver. Perhaps a little more so from Private. John Malkovich does an outstanding job with Dave. Benedict Cumberbatch is great as Classified. The North Wind is well-represented with Peter Stormare as Corporal. I give a Full MB for the Dreamwork-standard voice work.

Put that all together and Penguins of Madagascar earns 3 ½ Movie Bucks. It is well worth the price of prime time ticket. Although, if you have several children you probably should consider catching it as a matinee.


                        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.

 

 

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Movie Review - The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1


The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1  $$$

 
PG-13
123 Minutes
Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, and Philip Seymour Hoffman.
Director: Francis Lawrence.  

            Continuing in a fairly recent Hollywood tradition, the third book of the Hunger Games series has been split into two movies. If done well I have no problem with the practice. However, it is easy to walk away from the first half of a split novel film feeling unsatisfied. Mockingjay – Part 1 left me hanging. I’m not nearly as excited about seeing the next installment of this franchise as I had been to see Part 1.  

            In short, Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) has joined the rebellion. Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) is being held in the Capitol. Both are being used as social and political weapons for the side that holds them. While there are some great emotional scenes the exploration of the media’s role in war makes for a rather slow-moving film.
 

            This is how I ranked The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1   

1. Fun – Interesting but slow. I enjoyed watching the movie, but it has no replay value for me. Watch for the scene where the rebels attack the power plant. Beautifully done and emotionally powerful.
            Mockingjay  gets Half a MB for fun.       

            2. Story – Both sides of the conflict pitting Katniss against Peeta is interesting and solid from a storytelling point of view. Unfortunately, that may not translate well into movie-going fun.  
            Mockingjay  gets a Full MB for story.  

            3. Technical – The film looked good. The direction of the film was good. The special effects were excellent. You definitely feel that you are in a different place when you watch this film and that is really the goal.  
            Mockingjay  gets a Full MB for the technical aspects of the film.  

            4. Acting – Solid performances all the way around. However, I wasn’t as wowed with the acting as much as I have been in the past. Perhaps because this focuses so much on Jennifer Lawrence and has less screen time for the actors that have really stood out in the previous movies. I would liked to have seen more Josh Hutcherson, Woody Harrelson, and Stanley Tucci. The footage they have of Philip Seymour Hoffman accounted for some of the strongest moments in the film.  
            Mockingjay  gets Half a MB for acting.  Jennifer Lawrence, with this character, is just too one-dimensional to support a whole movie.  

            Added together, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 gets a rating of 3 Movie Bucks. It has enough special effects to suggest seeing it on a big screen with a good sound system. A matinee showing of the movie would be ideal. It may be a little slow for younger children and at nearly 3 hours in length, that could be a drawback. 
 

                        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.

 

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Movie Review - Interstellar


Interstellar $$$
 


PG-13
169 Minutes
Starring: Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, Mackenzie Foy, and John Lithgow.
Director: Christopher Nolan.  
 

            A good story, regardless of genre, is about people. While Interstellar falls comfortably into the science-fiction genre the real story is about a father and his daughter. That is what made this film so appealing to me.
            Earth has been stricken by a blight which has destroyed most of the food crops which we produce. And it’s getting worse.
            Without giving away too much of the story let me say that Cooper (Matthew McConaughey) had been an astronaut before the blight changed the world and turned him into a farmer. His daughter, Murph (Mackenzie Foy) has a ghost in her room and that leads to Cooper being recruited for a last desperate mission to save the human race.
            The down-side to all of this is that due to the principles of relativity he could lose decades of time with his family. Each decision he makes on the mission very well could impact his ability to see his daughter again. That is where the human element comes in and what in my mind made this a great movie. 
 

            This is how I ranked Interstellar: 

1. Fun – I found this as interesting a movie as I’ve seen this year. However, my wife did not. She compared it to Gravity and felt parts of it were too slow. The difference could be that I was totally focused on the anguish Cooper felt over each scenario that could delay his return to Earth.
            Interstellar gets Half a MB for fun, but for hard sci-fi fans should consider this a full MB rating.  

            2. Story – I found the treatment of this topic to be reasonably original. It definitely focuses on character and not special effects or action. Some parts of the ending were less spectacular from a story-telling point of view, but not enough to detract from my overall impression of the story.
            Interstellar gets a Full MB for story.  

            3. Technical – Wonderful special effects. The sound was great. I feel that the director did a good job with the material he was handed.
            Interstellar gets a Full MB for the technical aspects of the film.  

            4. Acting – Pretty good for the most part. Matthew McConaughey is great in the lead. The vulnerability that Mackenzie Foy displays really helps set the human aspects of the story. No real complaints about the supporting cast. It was nice to see John Lithgow again. The only real problem in this area was Anne Hathaway, who turned in a fairly dull and lifeless performance. If the audience was supposed to like this character, I feel that she failed to elicit that emotion. 
            Interstellar gets Half a MB for acting. I think a strong female lead would have made this story even stronger.  

            Added together, Interstellar gets a rating of 3 Movie Bucks, but if you are die-hard sci-fi fan consider this a 3 1/2 rating. I suggest seeing this on a big screen with a good sound system. A matinee showing of the movie would be ideal. It may be a little slow for younger children and at nearly 3 hours in length, that could be a drawback.

 
                        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.