Friday, June 15, 2012

That's my Boy - Bad parents make mediocre comedies

Andy Samberg, the legendary man from "The Lonely Island" and of course SNL stars in this dime-a-dozen comedy which also stars Adam Sandler. Bizzarrely, Vanilla Ice is in this film and actually has a few good moments. Unfortuantely, a "few good moments" is all that this swearing laden, throw away plot comedy has going for it.There were a few genuinely funny moments, but nothing hysterical that will last beyond me writing this review.

Adam Sandler movies are all very similar in the way he plays his character, which is a shame because I genuinely think he has an acting talent. Perhaps he should try doing an action flick, might be a nice change of pace. We know him, we love him, and even though he doesn't really bring anything new to the table here, he's still good enough to make it passable. The concept of the film is Sandler's character, in his youth, knocks up his teacher who births the child whom he looks after until he is 18. It's amusing, but the humor is all done crudely and rather predictably. There are few surprises that catch you off guard and really make you laugh. I chuckled for the most part, but a few moments really had me laughing.

Though the plot unfolds exactly how you might expect, its still a fun experience. There's some very cringe worthy moments, and some utterly ridiculous ones, but for the most part you'll see everything coming a mile away. I must say that I know its a comedy but some of the things you're supposed to laugh at are just too crude and disgusting. Sandler's production company, Happy Madison, produced the film. I can't help but feel that the script should have been better and wittier, instead it is filled with tried and true technique that is very obviously technique for this genre. To a degree it works, but the formula is tiresome.

Now to be fair, when you go to see an Adam Sandler film like this, you're not expecting much. It entertained me for its run time and that was good enough for me. The problem was that it just wasn't funny enough and left me feeling like I was only laughing because a few other people in the theater were. Andy Samberg impressed me, he's surprisingly confident and shows that he definitely has potential.

PART: THE SECOND - %$*& YOU, YOU $%&#ING #&^%!!!
Swearing is a part of any language on the planet, and I get it, I really do. Swearing in comedy used correctly can turn a dorky line into a funny one. I'm not sure if it was the writers or the actors or even Sean Anders' direction - but it was overkill to the extreme. It's not the case but after the first act alone I felt like I'd heard every combination of swear words possible. Some might consider that an achivement, and had this film been funnier it would be. But this isn't South Park and we're not singing about Kyle's mom. Some of the running jokes in the film are so bad, one of the characters actually says "People still do that?" or something to that effect. Though unintentional I'm sure, this made me chuckle.

While we're on the subject of lines, anyone will notice Sandler doing an utterly ridiculous accent throughout the film. It is, as you might have guessed, ridiculous. It's completely unnecessary, doesn't add anything to the character that belongs in a comedy of this nature, and just isn't funny. I'm sure the idea was to make him sound more child like, but the effect was just obnoxious and irritating. Another irritating thing is the utter disregard for getting the simplest things right. One scene involving Samberg being punched in the face with a right arm sends him flying the wrong way. Normally I wouldn't care, but it wasn't funny enough to distract me enough from noticing the complete disregard for the laws of physics. It was like they set up the stunt, did the whole thing and saw how corny it was and just shrugged and rolled with it.

The film does have some redeeming qualities, though they're few and far between. One particularly hilarious scene involving a spa session had me roaring, even though it started off very akward. The 80's sound track was a lot of fun and made me grin, and of course in this kind of film you don't really care about the original music or much less know that its there. And that's a running problem with this genre - things that you'd normally be keen on in other genres don't matter in the slightest, they're done because they have to be. You go see a movie like this because you want to sit in the chair in the dark in a room full of strangers and laugh your ass off for an hour and a half. Unfortunately, you won't be doing that the whole way, but if you have a more crude sense of humor and think saying saying f**k every three lines is funny, you'll really enjoy this film.

Overall, this is a fun movie. It tries to hard to be funny, and shoots itself in the proverbial foot in doing so. I enjoyed watching it for the most part but there was a few times when I wanted to sigh in exasperation.

What I loved:
Vanilla Ice in the bushes, the "five-oh", seeing the credits roll
What I hated: 
The overkill on a lot of things, the fact that its half way to being a granny soft-porn, Sandler's fake accent.

Final Rating: 1.5/5 stars, or 62%, or C-. Worth renting on DVD/BlueRay. 

If you enjoyed this review or would like to tell me what you thought of the film, please leave me a comment or two! Share this on facebook/twitter/tumblr or whatever it is you use, and thanks for reading.


Thursday, June 14, 2012

Prometheus - Close but not quite.

Prometheus, for those somehow unaware - is a prequel to the 1979 classic "Alien". Sure, Ridley Scott and the producers have been saying they wanted it to be its own story and its own thing, but that doesn't change the fact that it is definitely a prequel to Alien. However, it doesn't set the stage for the first film, which I was sort of expecting. I consider it a pleasant surprise. I love the franchise, and "Aliens" (1986) is one of my all-time favorites.

Overall, I thought this movie was good and entertaining. There were a few things I almost wished I could have rewound through to see again, but I enjoyed it and found it well worth going to see.

So the basic story of Prometheus is primarily about the Space Jockeys. Secondarily, its also about where the notorious "xenomorph" aliens came from. The opening of the film was a little screwy, and I don't think a lot of people understood that the beginning was showing the origin of human life, but I got it and that really added a lot of understanding to later parts of the film. The first act of this film is mainly just giving us back story and setting the scene and tone of how things are going to play out. I found myself intrigued. When we finally get on board the Prometheus herself, the fun starts. Michael Fassbender plays David, the synthetic/android/'artificial person' whatever. And he does an absolutely amazing job in the role, managing to convey exactly what an android in an Alien film should be - polite and charming on the surface with a core of malicious intentions. Some of David's actions don't make much sense despite it being incredibly obvious what his intentions are and where he's getting his orders from, it could have been done better but that's just a nitpick - he was definitely my favorite in this film.

At first the mission and the plot have a heroic feel to it, like its celebrating this brave band of noble explorers who are on a fantastic voyage to expand humanity's understanding of its origins. Charlize Theron then steps in and gives you a slap in the face, letting you know the real reason that Prometheus is on LV-223. I have to say until that moment, I was beginning to raise my eyebrow at the plot. Eventually, we see what became of the so called "engineers" - fans of the first Alien will know them as Space Jockeys. As the team explores the dank, creepy environment filled with things that obviously are not conducive to anyone's good health, there is so much that seems to be crying out to be explained, and is just forgotten. It helps add an air of mystery to what happens, but its not the greatest. I feel that the plot could have been better and had less horror cliches in it, but its good enough to carry things along. So here's a question for you: if you were in a space suit, in a underground cavern looking for your creator, and you happened to find a huge pile of their corpses, do you think you would stick around? Definitely not. Things like that really irritate me sometimes, and I feel with the talent that is behind Prometheus, they could have come up with something a little less mind-numbing, something that doesn't take the suspension of disbelief and try to throw it out the window.

That said, there are some very creepy moments, and a few genuinely terrifying ones complemented by some outstanding visual effects. A scene involving medical treatments to Noomi Rapace's character (whom she plays marvelously) comes to mind, one I won't soon forget. What does let the film down a little is Marc Streitenfeld's forgettable score, its not awful but like I said, forgettable. In fact there's one moment where the feel of the music almost directly contradicts the harrowing nightmare the characters are experiencing on screen. 

Perhaps intentionally and perhaps not, this movie shows where the xenomorph aliens in fact came from. At least, thats what I gathered from it. You probably won't realize it until late in the film, or in my case after. Sitting there having a glass of water and wham! Now you know where they came from. It was an interesting twist, and when Rapace's character unleashes it thats when you'll likely figure out where the xenomorph's came from. Like I've stated though, this film does NOT set the stage for the first Alien film, or any of the other ones, not even the silly Aliens vs Predator films. What it does do is make you go "ohh, NOW I get where they come from!" and then feel disappointed that it didn't go further.

I understand why Prometheus wanted to only loosely be connected to the original Alien films, but frankly I think it was a bad decision. Sure, having its own spin on things and being in a slightly separate universe allows new, younger fans to break themselves into the franchise. But honestly, I don't think there were many people in the theater who came just because the previews made it look like a good sci-fi/horror flick. Both before, during, and after the film people were talking avidly about Alien and Aliens. I wanted so badly for this movie to set the stage for the first Alien, and I'm ok that it didn't, but it still felt a little disappointing to have the film start filling in blanks and then suddenly stop and change directions. We started with goo, and ended up with enormous face-huggers and chest burster 2.0, and you're just going to stop there, really? The ending of the film felt like a cheap shot, and in fact I'd have to say that the transition from the second act to the third was really abrupt and sloppy. Following a WTF was the point of that whole scene moment, suddenly revelation that you were expecting followed by cliche. Don't misunderstand, I'm satisfied overall with this film, I just think that fans of the franchise might feel a little cheated by how things play out.

The creature design for the Space Jockeys/Engineers is pretty interesting, and if you like a bit of gore in your movies there isn't any in short supply here. The build up to some of the crazier moments will get your blood pumping and your butt clenching, the tension in this movie is incredible and though it takes a bit to really start, once the wave of suspense starts it keeps right on going until the end with only a few minor hickups. 

So, overall this film is great and very entertaining. Would I see it again? Sure, once or twice, but it doesn't have the longevity of Alien or Aliens. The acting is phenomenal in this film, absolutely fantastic work by all the actors. The film looks wonderful with breath taking special effects and set design. Some of the props were a little odd but no complaints. The music was forgettable but the sounds are great. Apparently the orchestra was given sheet music to be played backwards which was then digitally reversed to create unsettling sounds - rather creative and quite effective. The plot is a little screwy and no matter how much you read about it wanting to be more of its own thing, fans of the series won't be able to help wanting more connection with the rest of the franchise.

What I loved:
The suspense, the gore, the back story of not only humanity but the xenomorphs.
What I hated:
The plot, the score, the messy continuity, and not seeing Charlize Theron naked ;)

Final rating: 3/5 stars, or 70%, or B-. Worth seeing in the theater for full price.

Please tell me what YOU thought of this review and the film its about in the comments :)


Hello, and welcome...

Hello. My name is Devon. I am at time of writing, 25 years old. Among many things, I (obviously) adore film and cinema. So I've decided to write about it. That's the simple version, anyway. If you're here and actually reading this, you're looking for a lot more than just a few cheeky sentences, so let me explain a little about me.

I was born and raised in Florida. I studied film and media at Sir John Deane's College in Northwich, Cheshire, UK. I really appreciate films for the art form they can be, and not just the entertainment value of an hour or two of your life time. Films can send you to another place, take you out of reality for that period of time. They can also make you want to jump out of the nearest window and get hit by a truck. Regardless of what I thought about it, I'll share it here.

One of the main reasons I've started this lately is to disagree with mainstream critics. How often do you go and see a movie and think to yourself how much you enjoyed it then get home and watch some big-wig critic absolutely slam the film because of this and that when it has nothing to do with the movie? Well I'm here to give a more down to earth person's opinion on the films I've seen. So enough about me for now, I hope you enjoy my reviews. Please leave me comments and share this blog with your friends. If you like it, post it on your facebook/twitter/whatever. If you loathe it, post it twice as many times.