The Hangover Part II

“Y’know, it may just be that Im too distracted by what’s currently on my tv screen, or it could be that The Hangover Part II wasn’t particularly special that I cant quite remember enough to write about. Cause I know I wasnt drunk during it, so it’s not like I got too into the spirit of the film shall we say.

I think that this movie suffered from sequel-itis in the worst way. It was two fold.

First off, was a matter of expectations. The first Hangover looked awful and unfunny to me. From the overplayed trailer, I had no intention of seeing it. Then the buzz picked up, curiosity kicked in, and I went to see it. I seem to recall still not caring about it right away, but thinking about it more and more fondly as time went on, and loving it by the time I watched it on Blu-Ray. This time, I went into the film expecting the awesome and was somewhat disappointed.

The other part of sequel-itis is the problem that every sequel faces. Where do you stick to the original plan, and where do you venture into new territory? It seemed like The Hangover decided to play it safe and stick as close to the original formula as possible: exact same plot, eerily similar twists, same progression of events, characters in the same situations. There really wasnt much new to it. Now, something like that could have worked if they upped the ante with the dialogue and humor, but it didnt feel like they did. Yeah there were some gags that made me chuckle, but nothing spectacular.

I do love the cast. Im still not the biggest fan of Zack Galifianakis, but thankfully they resisted the urge to overuse him. Ed Helms carried a bit more of it this time around, which he does well with. And of course, no matter how unimpressive the rest of the film may be, there’s always Bradley Cooper to look at. The way that Justin Bartha was used was interesting. I would have expected him to have taken part in the shenanigans, but it made sense leaving him as the “”anchor”” back with the wedding party.

Anyways, I know there’s a rush to the theater for Hangover fans to see this film. I think it may work better for a drinking game at home. Then again, maybe like the original, it’ll grow on me over time

The Hangover Part II – \m/ \m/ \n

Priest

“Gonna be short because the cats are hungry, Im sleepy, and there wasn’t much to this movie.

Priest is one of those movies that looked awful, but I still felt compelled to go see it. For one, I’m a sucker for vampires (pun somewhat intended), and for another, I do love Paul Bettany. But ugh, this movie is so \m/ beneath him. It was Legion all over again, only slightly less sucky.

But at least I had a freebie to use, and I knew what I was potentially getting myself into. I walked into the theater armed with some pleasant daydreams to fall back on, and settled into my seat with them.

I wouldnt necessarily call this a bad movie. The story was streamlined, there were some \m/ good action scenes, and I liked the cast. But there wasn’t anything special about it. Nothing that got me excited. Nothing that makes it particularly stand out from any other generic vampire movie. But at least there wasn’t anything that made it stand out as particularly awful.

Priest – \m/ \n

Bridesmaids

“From the few times I saw the trailers for Bridesmaids, I was pretty sure that I wasn’t interested. It looked way too damn girly for me. But then, it began to build buzz as more and more people saw it, which got me curious. I discussed it with a friend who knows my taste in movies pretty well, and he said that the trailer did seem girly, but it wasn’t very representative of the film. The trailer was clearly a publicity ploy to bring in a certain audience, and that I should give it a try. Sold.

I am glad that I saw it. I didnt find it particularly amazing, but I do think that it’s the type of film that Hollywood needed. It wasn’t the girl-ness of the film that made me not care for it. I didnt have a problem with that. I just didnt find it particularly funny (mostly because it didnt have the golden comedic dialogue I crave), and it seemed to drag after a bit.

The other point against it is that there were a lot of little things that made me identify strongly with Kristin Wiig’s character, and it scared the \m/ outta me. Seriously, I was a bit uncomfortable seeing someone like me in some ways hitting bottom and spiraling out of control. Even once I saw where the line was that separated me from her, I still couldnt get past that feeling in my gut. Its just weird.

Anyways, taking a step back, why does Hollywood need this film? As a result of this movie, there’s been a lot of discussion about women in film, especially in comedy. They all come to the same conclusion, which is that you dont see much of women in comedy. Except for a few character roles here and there, the most us chicks get is silly rom-coms, and we all know those are shit. Here’s a movie that had fuller, non-idealistic characters, and a plot that was focused on more than just getting a guy. The boys have so many bromance and other comedic type of films, it’s a nice change to see one for the girls. Dont get me wrong, I absolutely \m/ LOVE boy comedy. I still prefer it to girl comedy, but then again, I’m the girl who always hangs with the boys, dropping f bombs and laughing at fart jokes. But knowing there’s a more feminine movie that I wouldnt be embarassed to be seen at is a good thing.

Kristin Wiig really anchored the film with a very strong performance that was both comedic and dramatic. I’ve never cared too much for her, but I thought she was fabulous in this film. What I realized is that, like Will Ferrell, I can only take her off-the-wall characters in small doses. But in this case, when she played a very real character, I loved her. The other thing that was great was her BFF chemistry with Maya Rudolph. Watching that early scene of them shooting the shit in the diner, it made me think of hanging with my BFF (yeah he’s a boy, but he’s a bigger girl than I am). I also felt like that was a pair of girls that I could stand to spend some time with, without wanting to stick my fork into my eyeball.

Another thing that impressed me was the way that Melissa McCarthy’s character, Megan, was used. Sure, for the most part, she was the equivalent of Zach Galifianakis in The Hangover. She could have gone only as far as that, and would have still been amazing. But instead, she was used to drive one of the biggest emotional turning points for our heroine, which I felt was a brilliant choice.

Overall, while I may not have found this to be the best movie ever, I would again like to state for the record that I am very happy to see it out there. And I would very much like to see more films like it.

Bridesmaids – \m/ \m/ \m/

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides

“Time was when me and my peeps would go to midnight movie premiers week after week. Some summers, the majority of my numerous hours spent at the movie theater were at ungodly times. I think it started with X-Men 3, but there’s a long list of ’em that I can recall midnighting: Pirates 2 and 3, Star Trek, The Simpsons, Bourne Ultimatum, Transformers 1 and 2, Terminator Salvation. But then, they dropped off somewhere along the way. For that very reason, I managed to get myself elected as Social Comm for my theatre group, specifically to bring back midnight movies (and other long lost social fun).

Except for the last two HP’s that were just my roomie and I, it’d been a while since the last midnight premier. So I ridiculously overplanned it. Bought a group of tickets days in advance, showed up an hour early to save seats, opted for the 2D showing in the big auditorium instead of the 3D in a smaller one, prepared to exchange ticket stubs in the bathroom for people assigned to a different room. Yeah none of that was needed. The movie was playing in four auditoriums that were nowhere near capacity. Still, I managed a group of about 10 or so, taking up the front row behind the bar of the big auditorium. Much fun was had by all. I think that makes my first official event as Social Comm a win.

Okay, well what about the movie itself? First, I should mention that the atmosphere of a midnight movie kinda changes your perception of the film. It has bigger hype, with more friends and fun. But when its so late, even with taking a nap after work, you’re falling asleep and unless it’s amazing beyond all reason, you just want it to be \m/ over. Right so, overall impression of Pirates, a very enthusiastic meh.

The movie was fun and entertaining, as we’ve come to expect from the franchise. But that’s exactly the problem. It’s all so expected at this point. What made the first film so brilliant was that no one knew Captain Jack Sparrow and his endless quirks. Johnny Depp just kept on pulling surprise after surprise. It was so shiny. But now, it takes a lot for him to catch us off guard. I’m not saying that he doesnt have his moments, but its just moments now. It’s not the nonstop magic that it used to be. (Last year, Iron Man had a similar issue).

The first noticable difference is the change up in the cast. I actually think that was a smart move. Yes Kiera Knightly and Orlando Bloom were an invaluable part of the franchise, but their story was concluded. Bringing them back would have been forced. Penelope Cruz is a fantastic actress who really is able to bring some new spark to play off Cap’n Jack. Also, it was kinda fun playing the game of trying to figure out the order scenes where shot in, based on the size of preggers Penelope’s boobs, or if her bottom half was even visible at all.

The structure of the story was a little off. I think that one lesson learned from 2 and 3 was to not overcomplicate things. Those two got tough to follow (although maybe its because I did first see them at such a late night hour). This one was more streamlined, but also a bit underdeveloped. It felt like some relationships and interactions were rushed, and never fully resolved or realized. Apparently, they’re planning it as another trilogy, which could explain some of it, but I dont take that as a valid excuse.

The plotline I was getting into was with the missionary Phillip, played by Sam Claflin and the mermaid Syrena, portrayed by Astrid Berges-Frisbey. They were fresh new characters that I enjoyed, but that’s one of the spots where the story could have been fleshed out better. I also dont know how I feel about the way mermaids were characterized in general. I’ll save the spoiler, by just saying it was odd. Ariel was definitely not amoung them.

I feel this is one of those that you’re already decided on whether or not you’re seeing (probably seeing it if you bothered to read this).

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides – \m/ \m/ \m/

Hesher

“Y’know how I have a list of actors who I will blindly follow to any film? Joseph Gordon-Levitt is on that list. This is why Hesher moved up my priority list. I didnt really know too much, or anything really about this film. I knew the following:
-Joseph Gordon-Levitt
-Natalie Portman
-Metallica featured on the soundtrack
-something about a distraut little kid
-JGL is shirtless for most of the film.
The first point was enough to grab my interest. The final one was enough to seal the deal.

With the minimal knowledge I had of the film, it really wasn’t at all what I expected. All the hype about Metallica and the title logo design made me think there was a much bigger rock element to the film. There wasn’t.

Okay, so here’s the deal. You have a kid, TJ, dealing with his mom’s death (although it took a while to explicitly say what was going on) and his dad’s depression. He meets Hesher, this crazy burn out rocker wannabe, who somehow forces himself into TJ’s life (and home).

I think that the film had a lot of potential, but needed to be reworked a bit. The characters felt really hollow, and there was a big disconnect between much of what was going on. However, the ending was really heartfelt and satisfying. But the rest of it was just weird and awkward.

I feel like the majority of Hesher’s antics were just done for shock value. While I can appreciate that, it just didnt flow with the rest of the film. But I will say that JGL played the role fantastically. Its very different for him, but I absolutely loved the fact that you could see that classic grin of his occassionally break thru the dirty long hair and scruff. So as a fan of his, it was worth the watch. But I wouldnt otherwise recommend the film.

Hesher – \m/ \n

Thor

“There’s a lot of ways to measure the start of summer. You have the day that the calendar tells you. Or the last day of school. Or the first really hot day of the year. For me, its the day that I watch the first big summer blockbuster. Therefore, readers of Expletive Dleted (all two? of you), welcome to summer!

Its not uncommon for me to not see a movie until during the week, but its rare that I feel so outta the loop about it. My weekend was full with other stuff, so it got put off to today. But then I saw a bunch of my friends yesterday who had already seen it. Such a weird feeling for me not to be able to contribute to the conversation.

Ultimately, not a bad way to kick off my favorite season (as far as movies go). Big action, pretty people, touch of comedy, mindless fun. It had its flaws, of course, but no one’s really looking at a summer blockbuster as Oscar gold, except possibly in the technical categories.

I guess we’ll start with the flaws, so that we can end on a high note. The flow was a bit strange. It felt rushed at the beginning, and then some details got confusing. But what did impress me was how adeptly it balanced storylines between worlds. It felt a lot like two different movies, but without being disjointed as you’d expect upon hearing that statement.

What also impressed me was Thor’s character arc. I really disliked him at the beginning, and was totally crushing on him by the end, and not just because he’s pretty. Character development that strong and believable is rare in this type of film. So points there!

I also really liked Loki, but his motives are what confused me. A friend who’d been chatting about this flick told me that if not for Loki, he’d have lost all interest. I can certainly see where he’s coming from. Loki is what kept me going until Thor finally got me on his side. I dont know that I’d have been able to get as into the film without him.

Starting to enjoy the build up to The Avengers, as well. I had some concerns that these films were getting cranked out too fast, and while those concerns havent quite been alleviated, we’re on a good track. Mostly I think it just made me happy that Clark Gregg’s role got bumped up quite a bit. I’ve been a fan of his since Choke, and he makes what could be a throwaway character incredibly memorable. The Hawkeye cameo was also much appreciated, even if Im not familiar with the character.

The action was good, although I’m not sure how worthwhile the 3d was. The minimal addition really wasn’t necessary. I think the effects could have stood alone on their own.

In an uncharacteristic for me way, I actually liked the girls in the film. Natalie Portman, while I dont think she did much, did bring a great deal of street cred to the film. And she made the damsel far more interesting than usual. Kat Dennings totally stole all her scenes. Yes, she was written as the doofy comic relief, but it worked. Maybe its just that I saw a lot of myself in her. The one who only speaks to snark about something.

Overall, if the main point of this film was to start to build hype for The Avengers, then I’d say mission accomplished.

Thor – \m/ \m/ \m/ \n

Fast Five

“*peeks out from around the corner* Hello? Anybody still here?

Hola internets. After slacking off while directing Spelling Bee, I am now back, bitches! In short, the show was a ton of fun all around for all involved. The audience loved it. We got a fantastic review in MIT’s paper The Tech. Overall, win!

While I had been seeing movies here and there, I’d decided to be lazy and not blog the write ups, since I had very little me time as it was. So tonight, Im out of legit excuses to put it off, and so here we are. And Im actually really happy to be doing this write up for tonight’s flick, Fast Five.

Movies like this one remind me why I \m/ love action movies. Yes, I am an action junkie. It’s my fave genre. I think we’ve established this. Actually, if we wanna get technical about it, my fave genre would be action comedy, but it has to be heavier on the action. Okay maybe it is more accurate to say that my fave is action movies with good comedic relief. Starting to go off topic.

Now while Fast Five (or really anything in the Fast Franchise) is by no means a perfect film, the blend is pretty damn close. You’ve got: high velocity action, characters you care about, well timed wisecracks, beautiful cars driven by even more beautiful people. With a combination like that, who gives a \m/ if its not the type of film that’s ever gonna win an Oscar.

Let’s start getting into the specifics. Something that was particularly fun about this one, that’s a bit different from the rest in the franchise, is that this was actually more of a heist movie than an action movie. I do so love heist movies: the suspense of the chase, the genius of the plan, the morally gray areas. On the action side, I felt they could have had a bit more. However, all was redeemed with the final climactic car chase. That one was really creative, and different from any I’ve seen, and I’ve seen a \m/ of a lot of cinematic car chases!

Having seen all the movies in the franchise, the characters have really grown on me. I absolutely love Vin Diesel’s Dom. Such an amazing balance of bad ass and sweetheart. I swoon whenever he’s on the screen. Similar feelings for Paul Walker’s Brian, although his acting ability (if I dare even call it that) is still a bit lacking. It was also cool bringing in characters from all of the previous movies. However, I prolly shoulda done my homework beforehand and verified who was coming from where because it kept bothering me when I couldnt remember.

Also, bringing in Dwayne Johnson was a genius move. I mentioned before how happy I was to see him finally back in his element, and playing him off Vin Diesel was an incredibly smart casting decision And yes, there was a no holds barred, all out brawl between the two. It was seriously among the most satisfying fight scenes I’ve ever seen. Those boys are just built for this sh…sort of thing.

One final note. Be sure to stick around thru the end of the credits sequence. There’s an additional scene (before the full credits roll). I knew there’d been talk of a sixth movie, but the set up for it felt like a hard blow to the chest. I cant remember the last time I left the theater so anxious for the sequel. Okay, so maybe it was HP, but we knew that was coming. This was totally unexpected. While the movie had its flaws, the final chase and that end scene left me on such a high note, that it didnt matter.

Dont hate.
Fast Five – \m/ \m/ \m/ \m/

The Mechanic

“I was gonna start this with the phrase “”I’ve said before…”” but I think I overuse that. I should just flat out say what Im gonna say. Too \m/ bad if Im repeating myself. There are a handful of actors that I will blindly follow to any film: Edward Norton, James Franco, Jake Gyllenhaal, Jared Leto, Christian Bale are a few examples. Its rare that there’s two such actors in one film (at least not opposite each other in the top roles), but The Mechanic managed to do just that by casting Jason Statham and Ben Foster.

In thinking about the write up, I’d originally intended to refer to Statham as one of my favorite action stars. However, pondering it further, I think he really is my number one in that area. I really can’t think of anyone else that measures up to him right now. I tried to think thru my fave recent action flicks, ran thru the cast of The Expendables, and it seems the trend is to train up hot shot celebs for the one film and then move on. Maybe you groom them for a franchise, but its not like the days when Stallone and Van Damme ruled the genre. The only others I can come up with that are moderately active are Bruce Willis and Dwayne Johnson (Im purposely omitting Jackie Chan and Jet Li since I consider martial arts a separate subgenre). So naturally, this action junkie will follow her number one action star to any of his films that tease me with shiny things.

Ben Foster, I’ve been a fan of since he was on Flash Forward on the Disney channel. I lost track of him for a while as he dove into indie territory and I wasn’t quite into film. But in recent years, he’s been making a name for himself and I’m far more in touch with film in general. Especially once he led me to The Messenger last year, I really cant help but remain his disciple (hmm that word may be a bit strong).

I’d only seen the trailer once and didnt really remember it, so I wasnt entirely sure what I was in for. I expected action, and that did eventually come, but for a while it was heavier on the dark drama. While that caught me off guard at first, I really got into it. The storyline was predictable at pretty much every turn, but I couldnt help but be absorbed by it. The subject matter was just dark enough, and shit got \m/ up fast.

The fight sequences and such were really raw and gritty, as I’ve come to expect from Statham. They weren’t the over the top extremely implausible crap you get in the blockbuster action flicks. Nothing against those big summer movies, but I think I do prefer this style. It looks more real and feels more intense. Although, in defense of the alternative approach, you do get some of the more creative WTF moments there.

There was some cleverness to the characters and their tactics, even if that may have been lacking in the story. I only say it was lacking because it was all entirely expected. Hell, I even predicted a few exact lines of dialogue. But the film wasnt pretending to be any more than it was. It kept the plot to a nice and streamlined minimum, keeping the pace quick, the run time down, and the action abundant. I’d rank some of Statham’s other work (ie The Transporter) above this, but ultimately it was worth a quick trek in the cold.

Oh, one last quick note. This was in the RPX auditorium, the first non-3D movie I see there. I really didnt notice anything extra shiny about the screen. Yeah the seats are marginally more comfy, but I’ll stick to my previous decision which is not to go outta my way to catch movies there. If the ideal time for a film is that viewing (or in this case the only viewing), fine. Otherwise, eh.

The Mechanic – \m/ \m/ \m/ \m/

The Adjustment Bureau

“The plan was gonna be just to come straight home to bed and skip the write up. I’ve pretty much resigned myself to the fact that Im not gonna see EVERY movie like I always do until my show is done, and that the ones I do see aren’t getting written up. But I \m/ loved THe Adjustment Bureau so much that I needed to share.

What we have here is easily my favorite movie of the year thus far. I was completely absorbed by the whole thing. I actually felt a lot like I did during Inception, except that it wasn’t nearly as confusing.

The premise here is that every decision that we make is monitored by these classy men in sharp suits. If our choices dont fall in line with “”the plan”” that these dudes have been handed, then they intervene to get you back on track. So of course, our hero, Matt Damon falls off track because of a girl, Emily Blunt, and he fights these workers to be able to keep the girl and keep everything else he wants. There were three reasons why it worked incredibly well

First off, the plot was kept very well streamlined. It was a unique concept and they didnt overcomplicate or over simplify it. There was no extraneous backstory, no over the top schitck, just direct and to the point story telling.

Next were the characters. Matt Damon’s David Norris was incredibly likeable for a politician. With his charm and drive and charisma, you rooted for him, and wanted him to get what he wanted. Emily Blunt’s Elise was a girl you could fall in love with between her spirit and creativity and strong will. By the the sub-par standards that pass for on screen romance today, I would not classify this as such. But if you wanna dig into the type of connections that past leading characters had, it was beautifully romantic. Im always the first to gag whenever a scene gets mushy, but I’ll admit that I hold this one line I stole from Fringe to be true “”within every cynic you have a frustrated romantic””. I bring that up just to say that I truly did feel the romance vibe between the two characters, and really wanted them to be together, not just because that was the expected response.

The third factor of awesome was the cast. I am just so impressed with Matt Damon. I’ve loved him for years, and he really does seem to improve with every movie that he does. Not a lotta actors can say that. But if you look at him back in the days of Kevin Smith movies, pre-Good Will Hunting, and compare that to now that boy has matured and grown so much. Its only a matter of time til he aquires another shiny piece of hardware for his mantle, this time for acting instead of writing. Emily Blunt is rapidly becoming one of my favorite actresses. He has this amazing balance of grace and grit that I can only stive for. You cast too flimsy of a girl in a film like this one and it falls apart.

There were some great supporting cast members as well. I loved John Slattery. Mad Men has given him a niche that he plays into very well, and I like that he takes advantage of it. Also enjoyed Anthony Mackie’s performance, and Terrance Stamp was brilliant as well. Maybe I’m just proud of myself for recognizing Mackie (he’s been on my radar since Behanding in Spokane when I got his autograph at the stage door) and for one of the few times of being able to correctly identify Terrance Stamp right away without first thinking it was Malcom Macdowell.

Oh the film also gets bonus points for the dance element. Maybe that’s why I had a stronger emotional connection than is my norm.

Right well, time for ice cream then sleep

You already know how many rock hands this is getting

The Adjustment Bureau – \m/ \m/ \m/ \m/

The Lincoln Lawyer

“Was really tempted to be lazy and skip the write up. As a compromise, I’ll likely keep it short.

Yes, I did use that Fandango Groupon on this movie. But even without that, this was my high priority movie for the weekend. However, that Groupon meant that I could go tonight for just as cheap as a matinee, which then makes the rest of my weekend logistics alot easier. And I’ll still have time for an ExpDelTop100 flick (the next one’s short anyways).

I very much enjoyed this one. I’ve established that I like trying to solve the puzzle or the mystery in a story, and thats exactly the type of thing that The Lincoln Lawyer delivered. I actually intend to pick up the book next time I find myself at Borders.

Great cast. Matthew McConaughey played the surprisingly layered lawyer superbly. I adore Ryan Phillippe, especially in these darker roles. He plays intense with a lot of fire (not to mention how smoldering he looks when doing it). Marisa Tomei annoys me. I think she’s one of the most overrated Oscar winners of the day, and I just didnt like her here. But the unexpected appearance of Michaela Conlin (Angela on Bones) more than made up for it.

And I got distracted by YouTube just now. Gonna call this one done

The Lincoln Lawyer – \m/ \m/ \m/ \m/