Saturday, May 30, 2009

Review: Up

Grade: A+

Pixar's tenth feature movie Up is about a man, Carl Fredricksen (Voiced by Ed Asner) who dreamed of being an adventurer when growing up. He marries a woman who truly has a passion for adventure. They both share a dream of someday traveling to South America just like their childhood hero, Charles Muntz. Life happens and they unfortunately never do make it. Carl, who was a balloon salesmen, now lives by himself in his house. A construction company is building a complex around his house but he refuses to sell his house and move to a retirement community until a mishap one day that lands him in court and they force him into the retirement home. Instead of going quietly to live out the rest of his days, Carl ties 10,000 balloons to his house and decides to essentially sail off to South America in his house. He finds a stowaway boy, Russell, who decides to assist Carl on his journey. Along the way to Carl's dream retirement location they encounter a talking dog and even Carl's childhood hero, who has become obsessed with finding a rare bird that has become friends with Russell.

This movie is so beautifully done. It is a wonderful story about growing old, remembering the little things in life and making your own adventures. Carl sees a younger version of himself in Russell and begins to connect with the boy. He has lived a long life with his wife and is very lonely but misses her greatly and regrets never taking the big adventures with her that he promised that he would only to have it brought to his attention by Russell that his whole life with her was a series of adventures. Russell is a young boy in search of a father figure who finds friendship in the old man. It is an extremely touching story that will fill your heart with joy. It is also a very funny movie. When the characters encounter Dug, a dog with a special collar on that voices his thoughts. Dug is an eccentric dog that gets distracted easily and isn't very good at his job. He befriends the duo and helps them out with their adventure and helps fight off Charles Muntz. Dug and the other dogs with the special collars really steal most of the scenes they are in.

Pixar hits again with their animation. The first part of the movie shows Carl as a child when he meets his future wife and they pretend to be great adventurers. After that there is a montage of him and his wife getting married and growing old together. With no words Pixar knows how o perfectly tell a story with just body language and emotion. It is probably the most touching part of the movie. The people at Pixar are some of the greatest, if not best, story tellers in Hollywood today. Their movies just get better and better. I can't wait to see what they come up with after they separate from Disney after the release of Toy Story 3 next June. The academy might as well just hand over the Oscar for this movie right now because I am willing to guarantee that no other animated movie this year will come close to Up. In fact, Up is so good that at this point it should be a nominee for best picture, not just animated.

This movie is great for children and adults alike. Pixar does a great job making movies that everybody can enjoy. On top of that Up delivers a great message for everybody to walk away with. It teaches that it is the small things in life that matters and that life is the greatest adventure of all. I suggest everybody go out and see this movie as soon as possible, it is simply amazing top notch entertainment.

Great line: "I was hiding under your porch because I love you."

Quick Warning: This is mostly for die hard Pixar fans. While the 3D version of the movie is awesome and well worth it, they do not play the Pixar Animated Short before the 3D version.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Review: Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian

Grade: B+

Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian is the follow up to the hit movie Night at the Museum. A couple years have passed and Larry Daley is no longer working at the museum. He know has a successful gadget/invention business called Daley Products. He decides to visit the museum one night and find out that it is being closed so they can install high tech upgrades. Larry also finds out that most of the exhibits are being shipped off for storage under the Washington Smithsonian museums. The next day he gets a call from one of the exhibits that there is a battle ensuing at the museum. He rushes to Washington to discover that Dexter (the monkey) had brought the tablet with him and Kahmunrah (brother of Ahkmenrah)wants the tablet in order to resurrect and army to take over the world. Larry meets Amelia Earhart and together they decide to work together to prevent Kumunrah from succeeding un his plan. What ensues is a great and hilarious battle amongst some of history's greatest figures.

If you enjoyed the first Night at the Museum then you will definitely enjoy Battle of the Smithsonian. This movie is filled with humor and adventure fueled by great actors portraying some of the most famous figures in history. There is something in this movie for everybody and if you have kids they will love it. Set in the backdrop of Washington D.C. 's Smithsonian museums and the national mall. I will admit that the writing is not all that great.

Ben Stiller (Tropic Thunder, Zoolander) returns as Larry Daley, the now former night guard of the museum. Stiller gives a decent performance in Smithsonian, not his best performance but definitely not the worst. I was surprised at how few jokes went to his character. Amy Adams (Doubt, Enchanted) comes into the movie as the famous pilot, Amelia Earhart. Adams delivers yet another great performance. She is smart, funny and for lack of a better word, spunky as miss Earhart. In fact, I actually prefer her casting as Amelia over Hilary Swank who is portraying her in a movie about the pilot set to come out later this year. Owen Wilson returns as well as Jedediah Smith, the miniature cowboy. Steve Coogan comes back as Octavius, the miniature Roman commander. Both of these characters and actors are great and play very well off each other.

The rest of the supporting cast in this movie is fantastic and really helps the movie along. Christopher Guest (A Mighty Wind, Best In Show) shows up as Ivan the Terrible. Robin Williams (RV, Man of the Year) returns as Teddy Roosevelt. Bill Hader (Superbad, Adventureland) plays a brilliant version of General Custer. As well as Craig Robinson, Jay Baruchel, Ricky Gervais, Eugene Levy (as the voice of the Einstein Bobble heads) and Clint Howard (in an ironic cameo as a NASA controller), as well as cameos from George Forman and Jonah Hill. Not to mention Hank Azaria's great performance as not one but three historical figures, Kahmunrah and the voices of Abe Lincoln and The Thinker. There were many great historical figures tossed into this movie including Amelia Earhart, Abe Lincoln, General Custer, Ivan the Terrible, Napoleon Bonaparte, Al Capone, Attila the Hun, Sacajawea, Darth Vader and Oscar the Grouch. There are also three cherubs that keep showing up that are voiced by the Jonas Brothers.

This is a great family movie filled with many laughs and plenty of excitement. I highly recommend getting out and seeing Battle of the Smithsonian this memorial day weekend. It is well worth it.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Review: Terminator Salvation

Grade: A-

Terminator Salvation is the fourth movie in the infamous sci-fi franchise. Salvation takes place almost 10 years from now in 2018 in and around what was LA. Judgment day has happened and the surviving humans are at war with Skynet, an artificial intelligence that became self aware and launched all nuclear war heads and now develops super-efficient killing machines known as terminators. The one man who saw Judgment day coming, the man who many believe to be mankind’s savior is John Connor. Connor is a commander in the Resistance, groups of survivors that fight against the onslaught of machines and terminators, searching for a way to bring down Skynet when a stranger by the name of Marcus Wright stumbles into the group. The last thing Marcus remembers is being on death row years earlier. Suddenly Connor realizes he is living in a future he was not prepared for and is unsure about humanities ability to survive much longer. He must decide if he can trust Marcus and find common ground to stop Skynet’s new methods of wiping out the Resistance forever.

I have always been a fan of the Terminator movies ever since the first time I saw Terminator 2 when I was probably 10. The terminator movies have been some of the best and most ground breaking Sci-Fi movies ever. I even liked the critically bashed Terminator 3. These movies are just great popcorn fun and I have wanted a terminator movie that actually takes place during the war with Skynet since I first saw T2. Then when they made Rise of the Machines and it ended with Judgment day I have been begging for it. Well, they finally delivered. Salvation has many of the things that make the first 3 movies so great. On top of that they have included so many different machines in this movie it will make your head spin, they even included some new ones not mentioned in the previous movies. There are the Hunter-Killers, T-1, T-600 (a less advanced version of the T-800 Arnold plays), Moto-Terminators (Motorcycle terminators), Hydro-terminators (snake like robots that swim through the water) and several others.

Christian Bale (Dark Knight, The Prestige) plays John Connor in Terminator Salvation and he does an excellent job. This is the third actor to play this role and is the best at it. Christian Bale is a magnificent actor and really makes this role his own. Relative unknown Australian actor Sam Worthington (upcoming movie Avatar) plays Marcus Wright and he too does a great job. Worthington hasn’t really done anything but after seeing him in this he shows great potential. Marcus is an extremely confused and conflicted character and he does it so well. Moon Bloodgood (What Just Happened, Pathfinder) is another relatively unknown actress but again did a pretty good job in this. Bloodgood plays Blair Williams, a resistance fighter who finds Marcus and develops a bond with him. Shooting star Anton Yelchin (Star Trek, Charlie Bartlett) plays the role of Kyle Reese, John Connors father (I know, weird). Yelchin’s career has been skyrocketing lately and if he keeps up the great work he’s going to go places, heck, this is the second famous character he’s portrayed this month. The rest of the cast is great as well and really helps the movie along and includes Bryce Dallas Howard as Kate Connor, Common, Helena Bonham Carter and the action movie legend, Michael Ironside. Not to mention the much rumored Arnold Schwarzenegger cameo (which is really quite interesting actually).

The action in this is great and never really lets you down. The special effects were fantastic. I loved seeing all the other forms of terminators and kind of the evolution of the terminator. The T-600 looked amazing and the scenes with it were fun. The moto-terminators were great and really exciting to see something new like that. The massive Harvest Terminators were very threatening. The Hydro-terminators were terrifying. All around the action in this movie is great and makes for a great popcorn flick.

A lot of people give McG a bad rap. I actually enjoyed Charlie’s Angels and I really thought he did a good job directing and developing Salvation. I do, however, feel that the writing could have been better at times. The ending could have been a little better but at least the didn’t go with the atrocious original ending. I also feel that he shouldn’t have strived for a PG-13 rating. I know it sounds weird to many people but I really feel this movie could have been better if it were rated R, like the rest of the franchise, and hopefully they realize this and make the next two movies rater R. Other people feel that this movie and the third movie are a betrayal to everything laid out in Terminator 2 and the “there is no fate but what we make”. Well to them I say that Judgment day has to happen and the war has to happen because if it wasn’t for all that stuff, Kyle Reese never would have gone back in time and John Connor never would have been born. So it had to happen.

This sequel/prequel/reboot (really weird but it is all three) was a very fun movie to watch and I highly recommend all fans of the original Terminator movies go see it. In general I would say anybody who likes a good action/sci-fi movie will probably enjoy this movie.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Review: Angels & Demons

Grade: A-

The Pope has died and the conclave has been called to elect a new Pope. But, the secret society known as the Illuminati seems to have risen from extinction and has kidnapped the four top candidates for the Pope's throne and on top of that they have stolen a canister from the super collider in Switzerland containing a large number of particles known as antimatter, a substance that if it comes in contact with anything will cause a massive explosion that could wipe out the Vatican. The Vatican calls upon the help of a man who in the past has only caused controversy surrounding the church, Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon. Robert Langdon realizes that the four preferitti will be executed at the four churches of the four elements along what is known as the path of Illumination. Langdon and physicist Vittoria Vetra much search for the clues along the path to find the next location in hopes of saving the Cardinals and stopping the Illuminati from destroying the Vatican. This leads them to a dangerous adversary, a disturbing discovery and a shocking truth.

Tom Hanks (Forrest Gump, The Terminal) returns to play the main character Robert Langdon. He does a spectacular job with this role and thankfully ditched the bad haircut from DaVinci Code. Hanks brings a certain level of excitement to the role that really help the plot along. Ewan McGregor (The Island, Star Wars Episodes 1-3) plays Camerlengo Patrick McKenna, who was Basically the Pope's assistant. Ewan McGregor is a fantastic actor and did a great job in this movie. Ayelet Zurer (Munich, Vantage Point) played the beautiful physicist Vittoria Vetra. Zurer is a relatively unknown actress but she did a fantastic in this role. The rest of the cast really did a great job as well and really helped the movie flow. Ron Howard (Frost/Nixon, A Beautiful Mind) returns to direct this sequel and he does a great job. Ron Howard is one of the best directors of today and just keeps getting better at his craft.

One of the main themes of this movie has to do with science vs. religion. The Illuminati were started by a group of scientists whom the catholic church condemned for their work. They resisted the church but at one point the church started to hunt them down and kill them so they went underground and the secret brotherhood was thought to have disappeared forever. The start of this movie shows the supercollider at work as it tries to recreate the moment of creation i.e. the big bang, but on a vastly smaller scale. When this happens it creates two things, antimatter and it's opposite which is sometimes referred to as the god particle. This is why the Illuminati are after the antimatter in the movie, they believe it can prove that there is no god by these events.

Angels and Demons is a faced past thriller that keeps you glued to the edge of your seat. The suspense and mystery is non-stop and very exciting and fun. The movie just unfolds at such a rapid pace that it keeps you interested the whole time. Then there is the huge twist at the end which is very intriguing. The cast and crew do a great job bringing this story from book to screen. If you are a fan of The Da Vinci Code or just a fan of suspense movies I highly recommend watching this movie. It is great and just might be better than its predecessor.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Review: Star Trek

Grade: A

Star Trek is the new reboot of the famous franchise. This movie goes back to the beginning and shows how the crew came to be together on the U.S.S. Enterprise. It starts out on the U.S.S. Kelvin which goes under attack by a ship that mysteriously appears out of a lightning cloud in space. George Kirk ends up taking the helm saving most people on board’s lives, including his wife who is giving birth to James T. Kirk during the attack. Next we see the full scene that is in the trailer of a young Kirk driving a corvette off a cliff. We see a young Spock in a Vulcan school being harassed for being half human. Then it’s a few years later and Kirk is getting drunk in a bar starting fights, this is where he meets Capt. Christopher Pike who convinces him to Join Starfleet. Next we see how Kirk meets Dr. McCoy and Spock and all the rest of the Enterprise crew, we also see how they all came to be aboard the U.S.S. Enterprise. I am not going to discuss the plot any further as I don’t want to risk giving spoilers as to what happens as it is very interesting and exciting and you should just see it for yourself.

I would like to take this time to mention that I am not a Star Trek fan. I had in the past tried to watch an episode or two and had only seen the Star Trek X movie before recently. In preparation for this new movie I watched the first four movies and still just could not really get that into them, I liked them, I just didn’t love them. Now let me say that this Star Trek movie is phenomenal. J.J. Abrams (Creator of Lost and Cloverfield) rebooted the franchise like I never imagined someone would. In a way reinventing the Star Trek universe and giving the fans spectacular effects and a great plot. The movie was exciting, thrilling and beautiful, unlike any Star Trek movie you’ve seen before. He also managed to put in plenty of laughs and Star Trek culture references. Some people say that this movie is Star Trek XI while others, most of who believe that every odd numbered Star Trek Movie sucks, call it Star Trek 0. I’m going to have to go with the latter as this is a whole new Star Trek.

I have heard that some people are upset with J.J. Abrams casting choices, I have to say that this cast was perfect. Chris Pine (Bottle Shock, Smokin’ Aces) takes the helm of the U.S.S. Enterprise as Captain James Tiberius Kirk. Pine hasn’t done much and while he’s no Shatner, he fills the role as the new Kirk almost perfectly in my opinion. He’s funny, sharp, smart and clever, everything you want in Capt. Kirk. Zachary Quinto (TV’s Heroes) takes the role of the infamous Spock. Quinto looks amazingly like a young Leonard Nimoy in his Vulcan makeup. He portrayed Spock very spot on, showing no emotion most of the time as per his Vulcan up bringing but still letting some out in bursts due to the Human half of his genes. Zoe Saldana (Vantage Point, Guess Who) played the sexy Uhura. Saldana gave a great performance as the movies beautiful leading lady, she was tough, smart and sympathetic. Karl Urban (Doom, The Lord Of The Rings) played Dr. Leonard “Bones” McCoy. Urban has a decent resumĂ© as an action star, but here he shows a different side as the nervous and neurotic at times Dr. McCoy. He was very funny at times and really took hold of this role. John Cho (Harold and Kumar) took on the role of pilot Hikaru Sulu and did a fantastic job showing us that he can do more than silly comedies. Break out star Anton Yelchin (Charlie Bartlett, Alpha Dog) did a great job as Russian Pavel Chekov, very funny role at times. My personal favorite casting choice was of the very funny and brilliant Simon Pegg (Shaun of the Dead, Run Fatboy Run), who took the role of engineer Scotty. Bruce Greenwood (Eight Below, I Robot) played Capt. Christopher Pike, a man who convinces Kirk to join Starfleet and is the first Captain of the U.S.S. Enterprise. Lastly, Eric Bana (Troy, Hulk) played the antagonist of the movie, Nero, the captain of a Romulan ship.

As I mentioned before, the visuals of this movie were simply fantastic. Paramount gave J.J. Abrams a sizable budget and it was money well spent. The battle scenes were intense and spectacular. The planets and space travel were beautiful at times. All of the special effects and visuals used to create the futuristic cities were superb. This movie also has a great plot that will grab hold of you and not let go until the credits roll.

This movie was a glorious reboot. If you are a Star Trek fan or simply a fan of movies, go see this movie. It will have you glued to your seat. I was never a Star Trek fan before, but I am now after watching this movie. This is a Star Trek for a new generation and I cannot wait to see the sequel that is already in production.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Review: Battle For Terra

Grade: C

Battle for Terra is a 3-D animated movie about a humble planet in a far off galaxy, where the inhabitants are a peaceful people who coexist with the environment. One day a mysterious massive object shows up and starts to block out the sun. Some ships come down from the sky and start abducting people, many people think they are gods so they willingly glide in front of them to be taken. A girl, by the name of Mala, her father is taken and while trying to get abducted herself she gets in a flying machine and starts to search for him. A ship chases her down and she manages to get the ship to crash. She rescues the pilot, by the name of Jim Stanton, and brings him back to her place and, with the help of his robot Giddy, helps construct a bubble the pilot can live in. The pilot promises to help the girl get her dad back and they set off to get his ship back to go do that. In the process they find out that the people of Terra have a secret past. The general on the ship in the sky, known as the Arc, makes the decision to invade and kill all the people of Terra by force and by changing the environment to sustain human life, which would kill all the inhabitants of the planet. The titular battle ensues.

This movie was pretty good and entertaining and the 3-D animation looked really good and made the movie that much more interesting. The movie did play out like I was afraid it was going to. It was very heavy handed with the pro-environment and anti-war messages. They just really beat it into your heads. Right off the bat they show that these people live successfully with the environment and coexist extremely well. Then the humans show up and talk about how they killed Earth by mining all the recourses and so they terra-formed Mars and Venus. Then the people on those two planets went to war destroying both planets. So now the survivors from all 3 planets left the galaxy in pursuit of a livable planet. The General wants nothing more than to go to war and kill all the people on the new planet. I knew these messages were going to be there I was just hoping it wouldn’t be so beat into the movie.

The voice cast was great and expansive as it included the voices of Evan Rachel Wood (The Wrestler, Across the Universe), who voices the main character Mala. Luke Wilson (Vacancy, Idiocracy) did the voice of the sympathetic human pilot Jim Stanton. David Cross (Arrested Development, Kung Fu Panda) was highly entertaining doing the voice of Jim’s robot helper Giddy. James Garner (The Notebook, Space Cowboys) played the main elder Goron. Justin Long (Accepted, Waiting) did the voice of Mala’s best friend Senn. Denis Quaid (Undercover Blues, Vantage Point) did the voice of Mala’s father Roven. Also, Brian Cox (Bourne Identity, Troy) did the voice of the angry and evil General Hemmer. There were many others including Beverly D’Angelo, Chris Evans, Danny Glover, Mark Hamill, Amanda Peet, Ron Perlman, Danny Trejo. A very full voice cast.

This movie was good but like I said, very heavy handed with the left messages of War being wrong and evil and that we need to live and coexist with our environment. If you do want to see this movie I highly recommend seeing it in theaters with the Real-D technology, made this movie that much more enjoyable.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Review: Ghosts Of Girlfriends Past

Grade: C-

Ghosts of Girlfriends Past is a very interesting and different telling of Charles Dickens “A Christmas Carol” about a man, Connor Mead, who is a photographer and more than a bit of a playboy, who goes to his younger brother’s wedding at his uncle’s estate. While there he plans to get with all of the brides maids and pretty much as many women as possible. He doesn’t believe in love or marriage and tends to offend many people, including the bride, while he’s there. At one point the ghost of his uncle Wayne shows up to tell him he is leading a life of emptiness and hopelessness and tells him he will be visited by three ghosts throughout the night. These ghosts show up to try to change him and make him realize who he is supposed to be with.

This movie played out pretty much just how I thought it would. The first 20 minutes to a half hour, maybe a little longer, was actually pretty good and pretty funny, but everything after that was just bad. Mathew McConaughey (Dazed and Confused, Fool’s Gold) plays Connor Mead. He does a good job at being a womanizing jerk but McConaughey just is not a good actor at all, and it really shows in this as he plays the same character he plays in 90% of his movies. Jennifer Garner (Juno, 13 Going on 30) plays Jenny Perotti, the girl that Connor has known since they were 5 and the obvious love interest for Connor as well. She almost seemed out of place in this movie. I know she is supposed to be the serious girl who Connor falls in love with but she’s the Maid of Honor at her friend’s wedding. The bride and all the other bride’s maids are giggly, drinking, slutty girls while she is this super serious, almost never smiles woman. Again, Jennifer Gardner just can’t really act to well and played the same character I’ve seen in pretty much every one of her movies.

The supporting cast in this movie was actually much better than the two stars. Breckin Meyer (Rat Race, Road Trip) played McConaughey’s sentimental younger brother Paul. Lacy Chabert (Lost in Space, Mean Girls) plays Paul’s nervous perfectionist fiancĂ©e Sandra. But the two people whose backs must be killing them after carrying the whole movie including Mathew McConaughey and Jennifer Gardner are Michael Douglas and Emma Stone. Emma Stone played the titular ghost of girlfriends past also known as Alison Vandermeersh. Alison was not Connor’s first girlfriend so much as the first person he had sex with. Emma Stone was absolutely hilarious in this role, so very priceless, kept me laughing. Now, Michael Douglas had the best role. He played Connor’s uncle Wayne. He is the one who shows up to tell Connor he will be visited by the ghosts. Then comes back later and we find out that he is the one who taught Connor all of his moves for picking up women in one of the funniest scenes in the movie.

Like I said, after the ghost of girlfriends past leaves, the movie is on a steep downward slope and it just gets worse and worse. One thing I don’t like is that they make Uncle Wayne out to be a bad guy for teaching Connor how to pick up women and they make Connor out to be a bad guy for listening and doing the things he does. But, if you watch the movie there is a scene where it shows a young Connor and Jenny at a high school dance or something and they both clearly want each other, then two of Jenny’s friends come over and tell her this guy wants to dance with her and make out with her. So she immediately runs over to the guy, leaving Connor, and starts to make out with this guy, breaking Connor’s heart sending him down the path that makes him the person he is today. So really, it’s all Jenny’s fault for being a bit of a slut in high school that turns Connor into the man slut he is, because she broke his heart.

Anyway, I felt this movie was worth it and it is of course a great date movie, but outside of that the bad acting and poor writing at times really dragged this movie down. The first third of the movie was funny and entertaining but it all stops shortly after that.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Review: The Soloist

Grade: A-

The Soloist is based on a true story about Steve Lopez, a Los Angeles Times writer who while trying to find a story in all the wrong places happened upon a homeless street musician who was playing the violin beautifully even though he only has two strings. The violinists name is Nathaniel Ayers and he claims to be a former Julliard student. Steve Lopez does a little research and discovers that Nathaniel Ayers did actually attend Julliard but dropped out after his second year. Lopez then starts to befriend Ayers in the process of trying to find out how a former Julliard student is now living on the streets of Los Angeles. People read Steve Lopez' article and start to help out however they can, one woman even sends him a Cello to give to Nathaniel Ayers so he can have an instrument in proper working order to play. As their friendship grows they start to learn things about themselves from each other.

Robert Downey Jr. (Tropic Thunder, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang) gave a great performance as LA Times writer Steve Lopez. This is probably one of the best performances of his career. Watching his characters relationship with Nathaniel Ayers was great. It all started out as just Lopez trying to find a good story then evolved into a beautiful story of him trying to help him get back on his feet. Jamie Foxx's (Ray, Collateral) performance Nathaniel Ayers Jr. was absolutely amazing. He really portrayed Ayers' schizophrenia very well and was just mesmerizing at times. Catherine Keener (40 Year-Old Virgin, Hamlet 2) was excellent as Steve Lopez's ex-wife Mary. Keener and Downey Jr. had great chemistry together in the movie and played very well off each other. This movie really just had a perfect cast.

The music in this movie was absolutely fantastic. Nathaniel Ayers had an obsession with Beethoven and there was plenty of his music throughout. All the scenes of Nathaniel Ayers playing music, even the scene where he only had two strings, were all amazing and beautiful. There was a great scene where Steve Lopez took Nathaniel Ayers to the Disney concert hall for a private viewing of the orchestras rehearsal and the scene did this great fantasia acid trip type scene where they have a bunch of different colored lights to the sounds of the music. It was great. Dario Marianelli did a fantastic job with the score of the movie that really helped it all flow along very smoothly.

The writing, acting and music in this movie was all superb. If you are looking for a good quality movie with an emotional feel good story go see The Soloist. I think this movie is an early Oscar contender.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Review: X-Men Origins: Wolverine

Grade: B

X-Men Origins: Wolverine is just that, it is the origin story of the infamous character Wolverine. It starts out in the mid 1800’s when we see a young Jimmy Logan and Victor Creed. Logan’s father is shot and he becomes furious and suddenly claws appear out of his hands, he kills the man who killed his father then he and Creed take off into the night. During the opening credits we then see the two fighting in the civil war, World War I, World War II and the Vietnam War. With each war you see Victor’s blood lust increase. William Stryker appears at one point and brings them onto a team of mutants that include Agent Zero, Wade Wilson/Deadpool, Bolt, Fred J. Dukes/ The Blob and John Wraith. After a conflict in Nigeria Logan becomes disturbed by the team then leaves. Years later we see him with a woman and he appears to be in love. Creed shows up at one point killing this woman and infuriating Logan. Stryker then convinces him to join the Weapon X program and have an indestructible metal infused to all of his bones. Once the procedure is done Wolverine goes on the war path to hunt down and kill Victor Creed and everyone else involved in the death of his girlfriend.

This movie is very intense and the action was fantastic. It was nice to see them bring the character back to where he should be. In the X-Men trilogy as each movie advanced he became more and more domesticated and calm and loving. If you know anything about the character you know this is the opposite of what he should be. This movie shows the “Berserker Rage” that Wolverine was always known for. This was a great relief to all the fans of the character. Throughout the movie you see his intensity and anger on a level not seen in any of the previous movies.

Hugh Jackman (The Prestige, Van Helsing) did a great job portraying the character of Wolverine. One thing that gave me hope for this movie was an interview I saw where he stated that he almost turned this movie down because he felt they softened Wolverine too much in the previous movies, specifically X-Men 3. This is true so the fact that he saw enough anger and emotion in the script to do it made me happy. Liev Schreiber (Defiance, Scream) did an amazing job as Logan’s one time friend and brother Victor Creed, who goes on to become Sabertooth. He really showed the characters violent tendancies and anger very well. The rest of the actors did a pretty good job with their characters but unfortunately in many cases, the characters were on screen for such a brief amount of time it almost wasn’t worth it. (from the band Black Eyed Peas) play John Wraith, Daniel Henney played Agent Zero, Dominic Monaghan (TV’s lost) played Bolt, Kevin Durrand (Smokin’ Aces, Wild Hogs) played Fred J. Dukes who turn into The Blob, Ryan Reynolds (Van Wilder, Waiting…) played Wade Wilson/Deadpool and Taylor Kitsch (TV’s Friday Night Lights) played my personal favorite, Gambit. All these characters are great and have such great potential that it was very disappointing to see that they all have about five to ten minutes of screen time.

Granted, this movie didn’t really do what it was portraying itself to do. The first X-Men movies had plenty of questions about Wolverines past, but unfortunately this movie barely answers any of them. It does reveal more about his relationships with Victor Creed/Sabertooth and William Stryker, but not much else. It only half heartedly explains his memory loss. To be honest this movie did need to be a bit darker, edgier and more violent to truly show Wolverine’s origin. I can get over all of this because I really didn’t expect Fox Studios of all people to really try to make an honest origin story for this character. Plus if nothing else it was a great popcorn flick and that is all I was honestly looking for.If you are looking for a good action popcorn flick to kick off the summer, X-Men Origins: Wolverine is the way to go for sure.