I’M BACK!

Dear Squids! I know I have been pretty much MIA for two years. My life has been crazy. I just finished my first year of graduate school, and now I am on summer break and have some free time, so I thought it was time to revive my blog.

So, for my first new post, I thought I would go over the movies I saw in theater since my absence, provide a rating, and a breif explanation. So, here we go.

 

Anna Karenina: 2012

Rating: 8

 

I loved this movie. The acting was enthralling. The two main characters (Kiera Knightley and Jude Law) create such tangible, raw emotions more powerful than few other films. What I loved most about this movie was the way director Jon Wright makes it look like a play. The film begins with a curtain going up, and characters have extravagant gestures and motions in a delightful way. Also, the adding of the repetitive sound of the train that will eventually kill Anna Karenina (sorry for the spoiler alert if you have not yet seen the movie or read the book).

That said, This film is not without flaws. It is very long. A very reasonable problem considering this movie was adapted from a Tolstoy novel, but anyway I think the editing could have been just a bit tighter to shave off at least a half an hour.

 

Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunter: 2013

Rating: 2

I don’t remember too much about this movie, except for the amazing face that I was actually able to be dragged to see it. That said, this movie was entertaining, not a bad way to kill an hour and a half. That’s really it. It didn’t stick with me. It was predictable, unchallenging, and a clear formula action movie. All though I will admit the costumes were pretty cool.

 

Iron Man 3: 2013

Rating: 5

I believe the first Iron Man is actually a pretty good movie. I haven’t reviewed it on this blog, but I think I’d give it a rating of 7. I despised Iron Man 2. My favorite thing about Iron Man was the witty banter that Tony Stark (Robert Downy Jr.) has with Pepper Pots (Gwenyth Paltrow). The second movie completely loses it, is not near as innovative, was sloppily put together, and quite frankly, I found it boring. However, while I know a lot of fans hated Iron Man 3, I thought it was much better than Iron Man 2. I was relieved to see the witty repartee restored. I also found myself sitting on the edge of my seat like the first one. However, I still think Iron Man the original is the best of the trilogy. The third one had a few problems. I found the motives of the villain not very clearly established. And Pepper Pot’s moment in danger was very predictable. Still so much better than the second one. Then again, it’s not hard to make something better than complete crap.

 

Ender’s Game: 2013

Rating: 6

I was really looking forward to this movie. I loved the book. In fact, I read it in about two nights. I actually really enjoyed the film. I thought it was a very good book to film adaptation. Of course, some stuff was left out, but that is always the case. I think Gavin Hood kept what was needed to keep the themes of the book alive.

That said, I am not sure I would have enjoyed it as much as I did had I not read the book. I have a feeling without reading the book the film would have been very hard to follow.

 

Hunger Games: Catching Fire: 2013

Rating: 6

I preferred this film to the first one, which really surprised me. I found this movie was better put together, easier to follow, and the action didn’t give you a headache. I also found that this film is much stronger in resonating emotionally. It’s hard for me to explain why I gave it a 6 because it has been a number of months since I saw it, but I am clear I did not think it was a perfect film.

 

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug: 2013

Rating: 4

So if you have read my review of the first Hobbit, you know I was very disapointed by the movie. I do think this film is better, but only because of one thing: Smaug. Smaug the dragon was amazing. Benedict Cumberbatch was the perfect casting, just as much as Andy Serkis was for Gollum in the Lord of the Rings Trilogy.

That said, I found other aspects of the film bad enough to have made Tolkein turn in his grave. I will only write about one, because it really pissed me off: the romantic relationship between Killi and the female Elf, whatever her name was. I don’t have such a big issue that this story-line was not in the book. I understand that book to film adaptations need to make changes. However, I think it is possible for film makers to make these changes while still keeping the most important themes from the books alive. For example, was Tom Bombadil really necessary in The Fellowship of the Ring? No. So my question is, what the hell is this interspecies relationship attempting to do? It’s admirable if Jackson was trying to give a nod to interracial romance, but it seems so implausible after the LOTR trilogy taught us that elves and dwarves are at each other’s throats. For God sake. It took Legolas and Gimli three films to trust each other ad become friends. A hundred years before, a dwarf is going to fall in love with an Elf and vise versa in all of two minutes? I’m sorry Jackson. Think again.

 

Saving Mr. Banks: 2013

Rating: 10

I loved this movie. It is rarely that a a film makes me cry at the end not because of sadness, but because I am so overcome by the beauty. But I did that at the end of this film. I found no faults. I think the strongest aspect of this film was the cast. Emma Thompson is one of my favorite actresses, and she was amazing. As far as I am concerned, Tom Hanks is now the only man who can play Walt Disney, and Colin Farrell and Paul Giamatti were impeccable as well. However the film was also put together seamlessly as throughout the story are frequent flashbacks. Also, there is a powerful subtlety that really made this film a joy to watch.

 

Monuments Men: 2014

Rating: 4

I really wanted to see this movie because of it’s all-star cast and the historical narrative it is presenting. However, I was disapointed. The film suffered from the common issue of too many characters. It was plot driven, not character driven, so I couldn’t get as emotionally connected. Also, the plot continually going in different directions was incredibly hard to follow.

However, for a WWII movie this film has a good amount of enjoyable, clelver humor.

 

Jack Reacher: 2012

Rating: 2

I’ll be honest. The only reason I saw this film was because one day when I was living in Korea I took my host sisters to Daegu. We went to a theater and I told them we would see any movie they wanted. They picked Jack Reacher. I was disapointed, but I kept my word. I don’t seem to remember finding anything redeemable about this movie. A very typical action movie, down to the seemingly dark and corrupted hero to the villain who persuades his hench men to eat their fingers.

 

Epic: 2013

Rating: 7

I am often wary of going to see children’s movies, simply because a large portion of them are only meant to satisfy an audience of five-year-olds that it lacks any real depth. I still want to get the hour I lost watching G-Force. However, Epic left me presently surprised. While it seemed enjoyable to children, the story was complex enough to keep me enthralled. The creation of a microscopic civilization was detailed to the point that it almost seemed to reach LOTR standards for me. The animation was also very well done. I would say one of the best children’s films I have seen in the last few years.

 

OK, so I am hoping to get some new posts going in the next few days. Unfortunately, being a graduate student, I am quite poor, so I don’t know how much I will be able to review new films. I guess you’ll all have to be complacent with what I can access on Netflix.

 

Not Another One: A Commentary on Sequels

We all know about this and have experienced to some degree. I think I started realizing it when I was a teenager. There are a lot of sequels being made in Hollywood. And a lot of them suck, even if the original film was somewhat good. I have decided to tell all my faithful Squids what I think of sequels. The good, the bad, the ugly.

First off, I recognize two different types of movie sequels: there is the first kind, The Intended Sequels, or sequels that have been planned to be created as the first one is being made. These are usually films based off of series of books like Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, Twilight, and The Hunger Games. However, even if the first book from a series is interpreted into a movie, that does not necessarily mean the sequels will be produced. That factor always depends on whether or not the original made enough money. Remember Eragon? God awful movie that was basically Star Wars with Dragons. It was adapted from a trilogy. Where are the film sequels? They are non-existent because Eragon the film sucked despite the presence of Jeremy Irons and did not satisfy the studio’s bottom line. So the sequels got the axe. Which brings us to our next kind of sequel: the Non-Intended Sequels.

Non-Intended Sequels are sequels that are not planned during the creation of the first film. Maybe it’s being thought of, and ideas are getting thrown around, but nothing definitive occurs until the original is released. If it makes enough money, the sequel is created. If not, no harm done and the original movie may stand alone.

While money is a factor in both types, it is my opinion that it has much more sway in the Non-Intended group, and because of this, the movies are more about money than quality. See, Hollywood knows that if a bunch of people went to see the first one they will go see the second one. So it doesn’t matter as much if it is a good movie. This is why we have what I like to call the Sloppy Sequel Syndrome. The following sequels suffer from SSS: The Hangover, Legally Blonde, Shrek, Ocean’s Eleven, Iron Man, Transformers (but I’m not sure if this one really counts because the original sucked just as badly) Pirates of the Caribbean, and Ice Age. This does not nearly cover them all. Please comment on the sequels you hate! Symptoms of watching movies with SSS may include frustration, disillusionment, hysteria, constipation, anorexia, depression, and in most cases, suicide.

I like to think however that Intended Sequels are more likely of higher quality. This is not always true. Consider X-Men, for example, and the most recent Chronicles of Narnia. I believe however that since the sequels are planned from the beginning the film makers are thinking less about money and are more occupied with getting a true adaptation of the book and making sure fans are satisfied. These are some films with more satisfying sequels: Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, Star Wars (the original trilogy, not the more recent crap) and the Bourne Identity movies.

So now when you go to a movie theater and see a trailer for the tenth Transformers (sadly, you know it’s going to happen) and you think, “Why is another one being made?” Now you know why. Money. It has nothing to do with quality, which is why so many sequels suck. While I do believe in capitalism to a degree, it is not very conducive to art. When you have an American population that is more willing to see robots doing water ballet than a movie with an actual story, what is of quality and what is popular is usually not the same thing. It is the sad tragedy of the movie making business. This is why I’m a cynic. I foresee many a horrible sequel in filmmaking future. Tres tres triste.