Mr Popper’s Penguins

“I really dont know what pushed Mr Popper’s Penguins onto my must list. I do like Jim Carey, but I never feel I NEED to see his movies. I like kiddie films, but I usually go for the animated ones. I think it was a combination of Clark Gregg, and the movie being on EW’s summer list thingy on GetGlue. Either way, really happy I went.

I gotta admit, I was a bit apprehensive when I walked in. There were a lot of little kids, littler than usual. And right behind me there was a lady with a total mom laugh. Y’know, laughing really loudly at all the stupid obvious slapstick and such that’s directed at the five year olds. But I also saw a couple of families there that were so sweet. In front of me was a Mommy and Daddy and their two daughters. Its usually just one parent or the other.

But yeah, you know how I’ve been complaining about how they dont make family movies as good as they used to? Mr Popper’s was the first step in the right direction that I’ve come across in a loooong while. Sure a lot of the humor was juvenile, but it was a really heartfelt story with solid three dimensional characters. Besides, who doesnt love cute little penguins? Nimrod was totally my favorite, and not just because he had the bestest name. True, most of his gags were “”oh he fell over”” but there was this one bit that had me laughing hysterically for a while. I also loved the fact that even Captain, one of the penguins, had a character arc.

Good performance from Jim Carey. It gave him a chance to balance some drama with his usual comedic flair. The supporting cast was fantastic as well. Loved seeing Clark Gregg as the baddie type, since he’s typically the hopelessly good guy. David Krumholtz was a pleasant surprise, even if his character was a douche. And you can never go wrong with Angela Lansbury.

Penguins also gets props for the peculiar Pippi and her penchant for p words. This lover of alliteration legitimately liked that.

Is it weird that I walked outta there with a wicked craving for tartar sauce? It was all the damn fish the penguins kept eating.

Mr Popper’s Penguins – \m/ \m/ \m/ \m/

Super 8

“And now we arrive at the flick I actually saw today. Like most fans of sci-fi I was rather excited about the collaboration between JJ Abrams and Steven Spielberg. Actually, it was more Abrams, which is something that makes me happy.

In short, I feel like the film was a good idea, but felt rather disjointed. It centers on some kids who are filming a zombie movie during their summer vacation, and they end up witnessing a mysterious train crash. And then, because it’s a JJ Abrams film, supernatural stuff starts occuring around town. I did enjoy the monster movie set up because it gave the characters a lot more dimension, however, it created such a delay in getting to the alien thing. Then by the time we got there, the original set up no longer mattered.

What I did love were the children. Again, because of the set up, we got a deeper look at them than we would have if it was just a straight up scifi film. They were a ragtag bunch of Goonies, each with their own quirks and stories. I was particularly impressed with Elle Fanning. I expected her to be kinda annoying, but I loved her. She’s not nearly as precocious as her big sis Dakota.

Unfortunately because of the disconnect between the parts of the film, that dragged the pacing down, so I was kinda checking the watch a lot towards the end. I would be interested to see what would have happened if this ended up just being a film about kids making a zombie movie. Clearly, it would have resolved itself much differently, but that was the part of Super 8 that I most cared about.

Super 8 – \m/ \m/ \m/

Green Lantern

“Here’s one of the movies I was most excited for this summer. The main reason for that excitement I will freely admit was Ryan Reynolds, and his abs in 3D. In that area, at least, the film didnt disappoint.

I do like superhero movies. But with the excpetion of Superman (and some Batman) I’m a Marvel girl. DC just isnt my world. If it hasn’t been on the big screen, I know nothing about it. Such was the case for me with Green Lantern. I was actually kinda excited to see this because I knew nothing about him. And I did have one of my buddies geeking out beforehand giving us Green Lantern 101, which was much appreciated. As far as the film itself, it’s one of those that just sorta was.

So much of the film was spent on establishing the character and his story. It’s an inevitable part of a superhero movie, especially for one who isn’t so mainstream. With Lantern, you not only needed to introduce Hal Jordan and how he got his powers, but you also had to explain how those powers work, and the backstory behind them. Yeesh that’s a lotta exposition. With all that, you really dont have much left for the rest of the movie. and that’s really how it felt.

Ryan Reynolds did add a certain charm to the film that kept it engaging. As my Lantern loving buddy pointed out afterwards, any of the clever moments and snappy dialogue was all Reynolds since that’s not typically part of Lantern’s persona. My response is thank God for that, because it really would have been an utterly boring film otherwise.

I am interested to see what happens with the franchise if it can take off. There was a mid credit scene that sets up the next storyline, which also lines up with the Lantern lesson I’d been given pre-movie.

Green Lantern – \m/ \m/ \m/”

Tree of Life

“I have a little bit of catch up to play. The past few days have been sorta nonstop and exhausting, so I didnt feel like putting in the effort to get these done on time. Considered just skipping them, but I actually do have a lot to say about Tree of Life.

The buzz coming back about Tree of Life from Cannes was quite curious indeed. The early report was that there were boos and walk outs at the screening. But then somehow it went on to win the Palm D’or. Strangely enough, having watched the film, I could see how it’d get such strong contradictory reactions. And I hate to say it, but Im on the negative camp.

The approach to the film was interesting. It wasn’t really a through story, just a bunch of images. By images, I mean small scenes, but they weren’t connected in a narrative. It felt more like a moving picture gallery. Frankly, I found the whole thing \m/ boring. I’m sorry, but I like to be told a story, and I didnt grasp one here. Sure, most of the images ran like scenes in any other movie, but there wasn’t a strong connection between them. It was like jumping from one set of events to another without any resolution. It’s exactly the sort of snooty and pretentious feel that does go on to win awards at film festivals.

But here’s the real kicker for where it lost me. Yes, it started off with some images of the family and then a few of the flash foward to one of hte kids as a grown up. Then, the next 45 minutes was just images of nature with classical music playing. Kinda reminiscent of 2001, but far longer and with less point. IMDB trivia tells me that apparently Terrance Malick had wanted to do a film about the origins of life. This is sorta the remnants of that idea. Bo-ring. In all honesty, I fell asleep for a good half hour or so during this, drifting in and out of consciousness, only to find that nothing had really progressed). Again, the type that wins film snob awards.

I hear tell that Malick has a 6 hour long director’s cut in mind. Please dear God dont ever make me hafta sit thru it.

Tree of Life – \m/

Beginners

“The excitement I get for smaller indie films is different than the one I get for the big blockbusters. I dont know how to explain it really. I suppose I feel more drawn to the characters and the hopes of a deep, moving story as opposed to a lot of flashy pretty stuff. I felt that way about Beginners. I was just dying to see it. Although Im sure Ewan McGregor was a big part of why I was psyched.

Okay here’s the quick recap for the majority of you who are scratching your heads at this movie. Ewan McGregor plays a guy who’s dealing with the recent loss of his father, played by Christopher Plummer. Plummer’s character came out as gay in his 70’s right after his wife passed. Soon after was when he was diagnosed as terminally ill. The film goes back and forth between two points in time centered around McGregor: 1-spending the last few years with his father, living his life to the fullest as a newly out and proud gay man, and 2-picking up the pieces of his life now that his father’s gone, and starting a new relationship with a girl he meets played by Melanie Laurent (one of the badass Inglorious Basterds babes).

The film was just so beautiful and so sad. I was crying through so much of it. The reason for the tears was how much the father reminded me of my Daddy, except for the whole homosexual thing, of course (although that did greatly appeal to my hag side). It was mostly in the way he chose to live his life without letting it be controlled by his illness, which in turn made the scenes where he was beated down by it that much stronger.

The cast was so strong. I fell in love with all three of those main characters. Their emotions all felt so real. I could hear sighs and cries all around me in the theater. As I left, I saw the girls who’d been sitting on the other end of my row sneak into the auditorium that had started the movie 45 minutes after our screening, just to be able to watch some of it again. I was kinda half tempted to follow.

Beginners – \m/ \m/ \m/ \m/

X-Men: First Class

“Little late on this write up, but I feel I hafta spread the awesome of this movie. So better late than never, yeah? Two reasons for my tardiness: I saw it on midnight on Thur, and I went to see Jimmy Eat World last night.

Anyways, continuing my social summer with my theatre group, I coerced a few of my peeps to come to the midnight show. The group was smaller than Pirates, but this one was so much more worth it. I realized earlier in the day how excited I really was for the film. I think I hadn’t let myself get to that point, partly due to the lack of hype, but mostly because on some level I feel rather protective of the X-Men. They are what got me into comics, and why I am a Marvel girl (even though Superman is my hero and he’s DC).

It all started in second grade. My daddy and I used to go to Blockbuster every Friday and rent a video game for the Sega Genesis for the weekend. One day we brought home X-Men. This was in part prompted by the fact that I had one of my guy friends coming over on Saturday, so we wanted to get something he’d be interested in. I was just in awe of the characters. I picked up a few comics, and books, and videos, and thus began my fandom there. I’ll admit, I dont know all the characters’ backstories as well as I should. It was always a sporadic interest, not something I obsesed over. I did have a subscription to Uncanny X-Men for a while, but a lot of them stayed unopened (why the hell did I throw so many of those out?!)

Dont worry, I’ll get to First Class in a bit. Just wanna throw in a few quick words about the previous movies first. I did enjoy those, mostly because the characters were portrayed so well. All of the cast was perfect, and it was so exciting to see these characters that I’ve loved for so long come to life. And it was particularly great seeing new ones brought in with each sequel. But I was never particularly wowed with the series. Maybe with the first one a bit just because it was so new, but they’re not ones I think about as favorites.

I may be speaking too soon (I dont like to give such strong opinions until a second viewing, once I’ve processed and the excitement has lessened) but I think First Class blew the others out of the water. It was easily better than Last Stand and Origins: Wolverine. However, I think you need an appreciation of the other films to truly love First Class. I’m not only saying that because of the \m/ amazing cameos (I wont spoil, but go watch soon since the surprise is just awesome), but it tied in so well with them. People have been thinking of this as a reboot (since that term seems so popular) but it really is a prequel, meant to tie in. Hell, it starts off with the exact same scene as the first movie did. And the way that future events are referenced is perfect. Some of them are comical (okay, there may have been one too many bald jokes in there), some are forboding, others are just winks to the audience.

For me, when it comes to X-men, the characters are the most important element. And this time around they were cast just as perfectly as they had been previously. You really do think that no one could top Patrick Stewart as Professor X, but James McAvoy was perfect. I can’t say one was better than the other (it would feel blasphemous no matter which I chose), but because they represent the prof at different stages in his life that’s totally fine. Michael Fassbender blew me away as Magneto, much like Ian McKellan did.

For some reason I’ve never been able to understand, Beast has been my favorite X-Men since the beginning. Sure now I can attribute it to his nerdy goodness, but I dont think that was the attraction in 4th grade. Anyways, I absolutely adored Nicholas Hoult. He was spectacular in A Single Man, and getting to see him in bigger film is great. I will say that I preferred him over Kelsey Grammer, but then again I was never a Frasier fan. Granted, young Beast is a very different person from old Beast. Here he was more the awkward yet loveable nerd type that I could relate to, as opposed to being the wise and collected scientist.

Also really excited to see Jennifer Lawrence as Mystique. I’ve been completely eating up all of the Hunger Games hype, and I can’t wait to see her as Katniss. X-Men made me even more stoked for that. The one who really suprised and impressed me was Kevin Bacon. Did not know he was in here (which of course meant that I spent a good while memorizing actors in the film to add to my Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon arsonal), and he really kicked ass as Shaw. Although I think I was just impressed by his early scene in German. Points for January Jones as Emma Frost. You do see a little bit of a cold evil in her as Betty Draper on Mad Men, so watching her run with that here was a treat.

With midnight movies, it’s often a fight to stay awake, even if I took a nap beforehand. This time around, my nap was cut short by a work event, so I was rather worried. But I was so absorbed by the film, I didnt even have a moment to lament my loss of naptime. The pacing was quick, the story was good, the action sequences were fantastic. Aaaaand Im noticing the length of this write up and guessing I’ve lost most of you, so I’ll quit my gushing now. I actually kinda wanna go see this again…

X-Men: First Class – \m/ \m/ \m/ \m/

Kung Fu Panda 2

“I love Kung Fu Panda. We know this, because it ended up at #75 on my top 100. So I was rather excited about the sequel. Verdict, eh (but with a little raise in pitch on the end there). I know better than to expect too much from a follow up.

Where it did go right is that they did expand on the original story pretty well. Here we got a lot more of Po’s backstory, which was actually the main driving factor in the plot. That was good. But the movie still felt kinda lacking overall. The action sequences (with the exception of the big chase thru the city) weren’t as much fun as I remembered in the first. And the quotes weren’t as clever. Granted, a lot of the magic from the first came from it being unexpected.

One thing that I do like is that it is a positive film for the little ones. The characters had a lot more teamwork than before, but it was subtle. I like that image. And they do continue the whole believe-in-yourself thing from the first.

I did see it in 3D, but as per usual, dont feel too much was gained for it. I had a real sad moment at the beginning when I realized that all the young’uns have gotten just as jaded with the extra dimension as I have. I used to love sitting in an auditorium crowded with munchkins, hearing all the oooohs and aaaaahs every time something jumped out, even as during the trailer and the intros. I didnt hear any of that at all, and there was a fair amount of lil tykes in there.

But I will say that with all the same ol’ same ol’ going on, the last 30 seconds really caught me off guard, and got me excited about a possible threequel.

Kung Fu Panda – \m/ \m/ \m/

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/