​A blog/journal about my life and the stuff I like. Popular subjects include music, guitars, gear, books, movies, video games, technology, humor.

Filtering by Tag: Action/Adventure

Movie Review - Pirates 3

The same cast of characters from the first two movies returns with the addition of several Pirate Lords played most notably by Chow Yun Fat and Keith Richards (in the role of Jack Sparrow's father, although I couldn't immediately tell a difference from his last Stones appearance, and I kept waiting for one of the other pirates to call him Keef). The story is a bit confusing as it consists of a meeting of the same Pirate Lords, the release of a mythical creature called Calypso, attempts to free Jack from Davy Jones Locker (the world of the dead?) and the battle(s) to gain control of the chest with Jones heart in it, control of the Black Pearl, control of the high seas, etc. I think there were at least three sides in the movie with the British Navy as one, Davy Jones & crew as another, and then the collection of the main characters as the third. 

The problem is that at any given moment one group is in league with another, someone from one group betrays the others and crosses sides, etc. After awhile I gave up on understanding where the plot was supposed to be going and just enjoyed the action and humor. Johnny Depp just seems made for this character and he is consistently funny throughout. The action sequences and special effects are as good as they come and although the movie was little too long at 2:45, the time went by fairly fast. If you consider yourself a fan of the first two, it's worth seeing in the theater once. If you weren't, this won't win you over. I give it a mild thumbs up.

Movie Review - Spider Man & Shrek 3

We saw Spider Man and Shrek 3 this weekend and in both cases, I suppose the third time isn't as charming as hoped for. If you liked the first two of each, then these aren't completely forgettable, but they both suffer from where they occur in the series. I think we've seen all we need to see of both these series now (although I'll be surprised if there isn't a least one more sequel for each). Spider Man 3 - a little too long and too many villains. This movie suffers from trying to do too much and thereby gives too little attention to anything, leaving you wondering at the end exactly who was that Sandman guy, and where the hell did the black gooey stuff come from? And why couldn't it wait until the next movie? I'd say it's worth a rental, but you may want to save your theater money for something else. It does look great, though.

Shrek 3 - is at least visually impressive as they have managed to continue the graphics improvements with technology to the point that some things in the movie look very convincingly real. Unfortunately, the charm of the first two movies gets a little lost in this movie in which Shrek and Fiona are much more mainstream characters, reminding me of some sitcom roles as opposed to the rude and abrasive (and more entertaining) Shrek from the first two movies. The best roles (and lines) in this movie are for the minor fairy tale characters;  Donkey and Puss-n-boots are also underutilized.  It's still worth a rental (in about 6 months) unless you've got kids who will probably demand to see it in the theater. I really wish they could do an R-rated Shrek. If you pushed the vulgarity, sarcasm and exploited the twisted fairy tale idea to its limit this could be really funny. Sadly, that'll never happen.

A common theme in many sequels now is that they all benefit from the newest technology and manage to surpass their predecessors on some audiovisual level, but that is often the only objective goal they seem to have in mind. Look at the Star Wars prequels, for example. They all surpassed the original trilogy from a tech standpoint, but they all were found lacking in script, dialogue and characters. I'm unashamedly a techno geek and I will often watch a movie that is otherwise forgettable if it looks cool, but I'm really starting to tire of the tendency to treat story and dialogue as secondary. Why can't we make great looking, epic movies that also remember the importance of storytelling at it's most basic level?  The Lord of the Rings trilogy is an example of how you can do both although they had the benefit of a great story to start with.  I often wonder if all the tech advancements have been a positive for the movie industry. A great story begins and ends with words and unfortunately in a visual medium this is sometimes an afterthought.


Popcorn season commences

There are some decentish movies coming out this summer, the overwhelming majority of which are franchises. Hollywood knows how to ride a horse until it drops. That being said, I am looking forward to the following corntastic flicks: Bourne Ultimatum, Evan Almighty, Oceans 13, Spider Man 3, Pirates 3, Harry Potter 5, Shrek 3, Fantastic Four 2. We typically watch dramas, comedies (and the less spectacular) on our big screen at home as you don't necessarily lose much compared to the multiplex. 

Those listed deserve at least one theater viewing.  We watch most movies at home and typically enjoy the experience more without the added multiplex frustrations (noisy kids, tiny seats, rigoldarndiculous food prices, etc.), but there still is something special about a screen so big you can't take it all in without panning your eyes left and right. I'm a big fan of IMAX, and I would probably go see more regular films in that format but they never offer them in the markets where I live (thanks Army, no really, thanks).


Movie Review - Casino Royale

We Netflixed (yeah, that's a verb) this after watching it in the theater and my first impressions hold true, in that I think this is the most promising first Bond picture I've ever seen. Daniel Craig is exactly how I picture Bond, much more in the mold of a Jason Bourne with the story grounded in realism as opposed to trying to outexplode or outsex the previous versions. Not that there are not some nearly unbelievable stunt sequences and the requisite number of gadgets and toys, but never to the extent that previous movies showed. I liked the fact he had to drive a rental car at one point until he managed to win a better one in a, wait for it, card game. There is one sequence where Bond is chasing a guy through a construction site that is one of the most impressive I have ever seen and it's all on foot (counting the jumping, bouncing, springing, etc.). Suprising, the villian is very Bond-esque with a scarred and translucent eye and on paper would seem like another standard over the top villian, but he actually works and the physical appearance doesn't take away from his believability. The movie manages to capture the original Ian Fleming concept without glamorizing it more for Hollywood. I am really looking forward to future installments now. Not to say that I didn't like Pierce Brosnan, but his Bond (and the series in general) had gotten very stale for me, and I consider myself a pretty big fan.

Movie Review - 300

A very stylized graphic novel adaptation of the story of 300 Spartan soldiers who defended their country against thousands (depending on what history you believe) of Persians who were running roughshod over much of the civilized world. It's a combination of Gladiator for context and Sin City for the look, with more archetypal characters in the lead roles as opposed to going for real accuracy. Not for the squeamish, blood and interesting ways to separate it from the human body are explored here. Still, it delivers on what it promises and it was a good movie for the style. Worth a rental if you're not inclined to pay movie theater prices, although you need to see it on a big screen to enjoy it.