Archive for the ‘Theatrical Review’ Category

Transformers: Dark of the Moon

Posted: July 19, 2011 5:33 pm in Theatrical Review

Transformers: Dark of the Moon

PG-13 – 157 Min – 2011

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Starring Shia LaBeouf as Sam Witwicky and Rosie Huntington-Whiteley as Carly Spencer, “Transformers: Dark of the Moon” follow the Autobots as they learn of a Cybertronian spacecraft hidden on the Moon, and then race against the Decepticons to reach it and to learn its secrets.

It almost seems too soon for another Transformers movie. Yes, the time between the first two movies was two years, just as between the last two. But, I can’t help but feel that this one was a little rushed. Despite that, I saw this movie not only in theaters on opening weekend, but in IMAX. And not only IMAX, but 3D. Hey, it had to be an epic installment right?

One thing can be said about this installment, it did not feel like the normal Transformers movie. The previous movies were action filled, but entirely light hearted in the core due to the amount of jokes (especially from Shia). This one toned down the jokes and went in a rather dark direction. The whole movie leaves you feeling despair and that all hope is lost for these characters that we’ve come to know since “Transformers” in 2007. I mean, the earth is getting utterly destroyed by the Decepticons. Like there is almost nothing left by the end of the movie. One comedic aspect that wasn’t absent, however, was Shia’s signature scream that he’s been doing since “Even Stevens” . That was during the first of two times in the film that a car transforms with a person inside (a complete first in the series, and I thought it was hilarious).

The casting was pretty much the same as the previous two films. Shia LaBeouf returned to his role as Sam, and actually made this go ’round a little different. We see a Sam who is completely tired of whats happening to his life. He has saved the world many times over, and yet he can’t tell anyone about it. This frustration comes to light in one of many job interviews he goes on. His parents were again played by Kevin Dunn and Julie White, and they were just as funny as ever. Josh Duhamel and Tyrese Gibson also returned to play Lennox and Epps, and rounding out the returning cast members was John Turturro as Simmons (probably one of everybody’s favorite characters). The spot previously filled by Megan Fox for the “hottie of the movie” was filled in by a no experience actress named Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, who only got the role because she’s ridiculously good looking (she was a Victoria Secret model for pete’s sake). Patrick Dempsey came in as an awkward bad guy named Dylan (even though I never watched a single episode, he’s known to me as the doctor from “Grey’s Anatomy”). Also new to the cast was John Malkovich (after hating him for so long, this guy redeemed himself for me when he played Marvin Boggs in “Red”).

The storyline for the movie was probably the most iffy thing to me. It felt less like a movie about transforming robot cars, and more like an alien invasion film (and God knows we’ve seen enough of those). The pacing was set to high the entire movie, and because of that you get rushed through some scenes without getting to fully take in the amount of special effects that were put into this. The overwhelming nature of this film acts as a distraction to an Autobot’s death as well. I mean, there were definitely some parts to the film that were great, but if you are viewing this as part of a trilogy, it doesn’t do justice to the previous two. I honestly didn’t really like the turn for the dark that they went for. With Sam flying off the handle at everyone in the movie and getting in fights that he knew he couldn’t win, and the Autobots dying off or almost dying off every five seconds, none of it seemed to be in character for anyone.

The greatest thing about this movie can be summed up to two words. Leonard Nimoy. Not only is he Spock, but c’mon, he’s has the most bad ass voice (with Liam Neeson in second for that trophy). Him voicing one of the transformers was perfect. No other words can be said but that. As well as having him in the movie, there’s a scene where a couple of the small Autobots are watching television in Sam’s apartment, and what are they watching? An old “Star Trek” episode with Spock in the scene. That made me very happy inside (on that same note there is another reference to “Star Trek” when Sam mentions that somewhere looks like the bridge of the Enterprise). In the same scene, if you look on the wall as Sam passes, there is a poster for a band named “The Dandy Warhols”. This is cool to me because, not only are they an indie band, but they did the theme song to one of my favorite shows “Veronica Mars”.

Over all, movie is decent. It’s a decent installment to a good series, it’s a decent action movie, and it’s a decent special effects movie. Had I not seen it in IMAX 3D, I probably wouldn’t have been as impressed as I was. I cannot say for certain whether or not it’s worth a watch, but I will say this. If you care at all about the direction that this story line was going, watch it. If you got bored after “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen”, it’s not worth your time. I did hear that this is Shia’s last time screaming “OPTIMUS!”. So, really should we even bother?

 

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X-Men: First Class

Posted: June 24, 2011 9:43 am in Theatrical Review

X-Men: First Class

PG-13 – 132 Min – 2011

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Starring James McAvoy as Charles Xavier and Michael Fassbender as Eric Lehnsherr, “X-Men: First Class” is the prequel to the X-Men series, following the future Professor X and Magneto who are best friends dedicated to harnessing their powers and promoting the education of fellow mutants during the turbulent 1960s. The duo works together to stop a powerful adversary that threatens mankind, but their ideological differences drive them apart and turn them into ferocious enemies.

Hurray! Get To The Monkey’s first Barrel of Monkey’s review! And thank goodness, I thought the day would never come when I would go to the theater and come back with a new favorite film. I am a huge Marvel fan, and especially an X-Men fan. I loved all of them, aside from finding laughable aspects to the 2009 entry, “X-Men Origins: Wolverine”. So when I found out that they were doing another origins film I was pumped. So much so, that I about went to the midnight showing. If I had, it wouldn’t have been a waste of time or money.

Let me start out with some complaints, as there aren’t very many. I realize that to fill Patrick Stewart’s shoes has to be a challenge. I mean c’mon, he IS Professor X. But I can’t say that I was 100 percent on board with James McAvoy portraying this iconic role. Maybe it’s hard to shake the hoofs out of my mind, but that was the only casting problem I had. That being said, he did do a really good job, the only thing I’m saying is that compared to his predecessor, it was hard for my mind to make that transition. The other thing I had to say, I didn’t like the casting for Mystique, Jennifer Lawrence. She had the boobs, er, shoes of Rebecca Romijn to fill. Of course, all of those thoughts went away as there was a nostalgic cameo from Ms. Romijn about mid way through the movie. Aside from the two casting problems, I couldn’t think of anything wrong with this one. Michael Fassbender was perfect as Magneto. He captured the essence of Ian McKellen’s interpretation, then adding youth and rage to the character. He was easily my favorite character in the film. Kevin Bacon did a great job as Sebastian Shaw, just one of the biggest bastards of a bad guy I’ve ever seen. His mutant power was pretty beast too. Speaking of beast, Nicholas Hoult played the young Hank McCoy/Beast previously played by Kelsey Grammer. As you can see there are a few differences between the two, but I didn’t mind. The rest of the cast of young mutants were all pretty good. January Jones as Emma Frost, that was just amazing. Eye candy, and a good performance. Michael Ironside, the voice of my favorite video game character Sam Fisher from “Splinter Cell”, had a small spot in the movie. I thought that was cool. One thing I noticed is that there was no Stan Lee cameo in this movie. He’s had one in pretty much every Marvel film to date, so that was weird.

There were so many scenes in this movie that were awesome, I don’t know if i can choose one to be my favorite (I lied, the best scene in the movie involves a surprise cameo from someone and I’m not telling who, it is so funny though). Pretty much every scene with Magneto was great, and yet they didn’t outshine any of the other character’s scenes. When a movie can be so good that there wasn’t a better part than the other, you know its a good one. I’d have to just buckle down and say that the very end when we see Charles and Eric become Professor X and Magneto was probably the most exciting part of the film. It was a great build up, and an even better pay off.

Speaking of build up, the soundtrack was excellent in this installment. Usually Marvel movies have a pretty epic soundtrack with a lot of tension build up, and this was no exception. I went and bought two of the songs from iTunes.

This is definitely one to go see in theaters, one I will absolutely be buying when it comes out. There is no secret scene at the end of the credits (which is weird being that pretty much every Marvel movie has those now), so I can save you the ten minutes of credits I waited through for nothing. But the movie was so good it didn’t need an extra scene to make you want to see more, cause I’m already counting down to “First Class 2”. Just please Hollywood, don’t call it “Second Class”.

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides

PG-13 – 136 Min – 2011

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Starring Johnny Depp as Jack Sparrow and Penélope Cruz as Angelica Malon, “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides” is about the cunningly clumsy Captain Jack who meets his match when mysterious beauty forces the him to join her in search of the Fountain of Youth. In the fourth installment of the action-packed “Pirates of the Caribbean” franchise, Sparrow tries to determine whether Angelica is friend or foe while the adventure sets him aboard a vessel belonging to the fearsome pirate Blackbeard.

Let me start off by saying, the only reason I even watched the original “Pirates of the Caribbean” trilogy was because I liked the Jack Sparrow character so much. I was one of the people who got irritated at the presence of Will Turner and Elizabeth Swann, and wished that they would make a movie devoted to only Jack. Well, after some falling outs between Orlando Bloom, Keira Knightley and the people behind the franchise, I got my wish. And yes, while the absence of the two characters left out the nostalgic feel of the franchise, they had the opportunity to take this installment in a completely different direction.

The story picks up noticeably years after the events of the third installment, in the middle of a trial for Captain Jack that turns out to not be the Captain but a familiar face. From the opening scene, we rarely have a Jack free scene, which is great. In my opinion that could be the only thing that could save this franchise, having more Jack centric movies. There were only a weak points in the plot and casting, and from there on out it is a solid film. Plus, getting to see the two greatest pirates, Jack and Barbossa, teaming up for once, amazing.

The villain in the movie is Blackbeard, one of the most feared pirates of all time. Now, I wasn’t impressed with how this whole situation was handled. First off, they cast Ian McShane as Blackbeard. I’m sorry, but he will never be anyone but Rod’s annoying and violent stepfather, Frank Powell, in the funniest movie ever, “Hot Rod”. I just couldn’t shake that role long enough to take him seriously as Blackbeard. And aside from that, they didn’t even present him to be that menacing. Like Barbossa was pretty bad ass, and Davy Jones was down right diabolical, but Blackbeard, eh. That was really my only complaint. Penélope Cruz made a great addition to the cast, she’s probably one of the most sexy actresses out there. Her character, Angelica, was the perfect match for Jack. You could tell that in some scenes he was actually stumped as to how she out smarted him. The only returning members of the original cast, besides Johnny Depp, were: Geoffrey Rush, Kevin McNally and Keith Richards (he of course only having a small role in the previous installment, had a smaller role in this one). Now, either I missed how much time had elapsed between part 3 and 4, or Geoffrey is getting really old these days. Barbossa looks ancient in this movie, but ancient or not, he actually made this movie great. Kevin McNally reprised his role as Gibbs, while Keith Richards reprised his role as Captain Teague (Captain Jack’s father).

Now, a lot of people had a lot of bad things to say about this installment. Oh, that it didn’t follow the same path as the other three, that the mermaids were dumb, that the fountain of youth should have been in Florida, blah blah blah. What they need to understand is that, this installment is the beginning of a new set of stories. They weren’t trying to continue the same old path that was worn out after three rounds. The story isn’t even one they pulled out of they’re old bag of tricks, it was a book written in 1987. They followed the plot of the book which features Blackbeard, the fountain of youth, and zombies. So really, stop whining and enjoy the movie. Another thing I’ve heard a decent amount of times, is that the side love story of Philip and Syrena was stupid. I thought that it actually fit great into the movie. It certainly was better than watching another movie with the Elizabeth and Will annoyance.

Overall, this was a great time at the theaters. I thoroughly enjoyed myself, not only because of how epic the movie was (you’ll be surprised to see that the overall tone of the movie is much darker), but also because of how many funny scenes there are because of how much Jack is involved in the plot. My favorite scene is in the dialogue between Jack and Angelica in the very end, it’s so funny that I won’t spoil it. Speaking of the very end, there’s a worthwhile hidden scene at the end of the credits, so stick around for that. All of the new additions fit perfectly, and all of the aspects taken out were not missed. I will be adding this to my collection once it releases onto blu ray. Good job on this one, and here’s to many more.

Thor

Posted: May 26, 2011 6:29 pm in Theatrical Review

Thor

PG-13 – 115 Min – 2011

Check Out The Trailer

Starring Chris Hemsworth as Thor, Natalie Portman as Jane Foster and Anthony Hopkins as Odin, “Thor” is about the powerful but arrogant warrior who is cast out of the fantastic realm of Asgard and sent to live amongst humans on Earth, where he soon becomes one of their finest defenders.

I have not been very enthused about this movie. I remember reading Marvel comics all the time as a kid, but whenever Thor came around I always just got kinda bored. I mean, he’s a god. With a big hammer. Woo-hoo. So, when I heard about them making “The Avengers”, I was pretty stoked. Until, I remembered that Thor was gonna be in it. Well, after seeing the pretty rad cast that got rounded up for the film, and hearing rumors that there was a big secret scene at the end of the credits, I decided I would give it a shot. Only, I was going to a matinee, and no 3D. Good thing too.

First off, I’m gonna start out by saying that it wasn’t a horrible film. There were some cheesy moments, and some actually dreadfully awful parts, but not enough to make the movie a complete waste of time. Although, with that being said, this movie did nothing but further my dislike for Thor in general. I still just don’t see how he fits in with the super heroes around him. He’s a Norse god, people! Anyway, the whole to-do about the frost giants was kind of lame. It was hard to grasp just who was the bad guy through out the movie. The frost giants are, but then again so is Loki (Thor’s brother-ish, played by Tom Hiddleston). But, the rest of the plot was very predictable, partly because they play the entire plot in the trailer. But honestly, if you know anything about how Hollywood’s movie formula works, this one will not shock you.

The casting was excellent in this movie. We have Anthony Hopkins, who is still a creepy old man to me (due to seeing him play Hannibal in 3 movies), did a very good job as the king of Asgard. He has a certain presence of screen that captivates the watcher, and frankly I think he plays the perfect royalty kind of role. His queen, Frigg, was played by Rene Russo. She doesn’t have a big role in the movie (in fact shes only in about two major scenes), but she is a very good actress. As I mentioned earlier, Tom Hiddleston played Loki, and he did a great job playing that conniving and dark bad guy. I haven’t seen him in anything else, but I can see that he will probably be cast into this role again. Stellan Skarsgard (whom I know as Bootstrap Bill from the 3rd and 4th “Pirates of the Caribbean” films) was pretty funny in the movie. Though his character wasn’t supposed to be, I found him kind of amusing. Finally, my two favorite characters in the movie, Volstagg and Sif, played by Ray Stevenson (who I know as Dagonet from “King Arthur”, again my favorite character in the film) and Jaimie Alexander (who will always be Jessi from “Kyle XY“). They were great.

Now, I need to touch on the most annoying characters in the movie. Chris Hemsworth’s accent in the movie was driving me banana sandwich. I don’t even need to get into the character of Thor, cause obviously I don’t even like it, but Chris was very annoying (though the scenes of him when he first gets to earth without any powers was pretty funny, like getting run over and shot with a needle, it was pretty great). Speaking of annoying, Kat Dennings needs to go back to where ever she came from and stop acting. Her cute little one liners were going to drive me insane. The whole theater would laugh every time, and I would only shake my head. And, unfortunately, Natalie Portman was kind of irritating, and I honestly couldn’t tell you why. I just, I don’t know. I didn’t like her in this movie. Sorry if that’s a really lame excuse, but I can’t help the vibes I get off of certain characters.

There were many things in the movie that were true to the comics. The twirling of the hammer when he’s flying, yea straight from the comics. Most of the scenes would only look good in a theater, or IMAX. They went all out on designing Asgard, and some of the visuals in and around the city were stunning. But yet, these things could not redeem it for me. It was a bore. For 80 percent of the movie, Thor doesn’t even have his powers. So, explain to me the reason in calling this a super hero movie. The action sequences went in reverse order, meaning the biggest fight scene was in the beginning and the lesser ones followed. So much for a climax. Also, the ending was retarded. Oh, and the “sneak peek” scene at the end of the forever long (and Foo Fighter filled) credits, wasn’t even that great. I will tell you that it reveals who the bad guys are gonna be. But, if you’re a smart cookie you could probably just figure it out. I did without seeing the scene. Also, I dare you guys to find the reference to the Incredible Hulk, I was pretty proud of myself when I found it.

In conclusion, I didn’t really like it. I’m very glad I didn’t waste more money on it, though I wish I hadn’t spent any. It did nothing for me, and I felt like it really did nothing for the series. Maybe if you are/were a comic book “Thor” fan, you’ll get a kick out of it. I will not be surprised if this one finds its way onto Netflix Instant queue soon after its release. Uh-oh, watch out super heroes with super powers, Thor has a hammer.

Fast Five

Posted: May 1, 2011 10:47 am in Theatrical Review

Fast Five

PG-13 – 130 Min – 2011

Check Out The Trailer

Starring Dwayne Johnson as Hobbs, and with the entire Fast And Furious cast returning, “Fast Five” is the fifth installment of the explosive series. Brian (Paul Walker) and Mia (Jordana Brewster) break Dom (Vin Diesel) out of prison, and they head to Brazil to put together a team to take on a drug dealer who wants to kill them. At the same time, they have to elude the capture of uncompromising federal agent Hobbs, who’s been dispatched to Rio to take them down.

All right guys, my first theater review, and also the first movie I’ve seen in the theater this summer. And boy, did I pick a good one. I grabbed a buddy and headed on down expecting nothing short of an awesome movie, and that’s what we got. And plus there’s an intense smack down between Dom and Hobbs. Seeing those two fight is reason in itself to go see it. That and Jordana Brewster. Be still my beating heart.

The Fast and Furious franchise has been pretty good so far. The first was awesome, then the second, “2 Fast, 2 Furious”, was just alright. I never watched the third, “Tokyo Drift”, but I heard it sucked, so I really have no desire to see it. Plus, no Dom? I think not. Then the fourth one came out two summers ago, and I really liked that one. There were a few things I would comment on, but I’ll write a whole review on it some time. And just when you thought that the story was running dry, here comes the fifth, and personally, my favorite in the series.

The movie picks up right where the fourth left off. Like, the same scene. So, I thought that was pretty cool. Right from there I knew this installment was gonna be something different. They switch gears (pun intended) from racing to a heist film. Honestly, I’d much rather watch a heist film, as long as it has orgasmic muscle cars, then a racing flick any day. Also, there was more action and more comedy in this installment then I remember from the others. Bringing back Roman (Tyrese Gibson) and Tej (Ludacris) was the main reason for the step up in the comedy field. It was an awesome reunion movie as well. We get to see nearly every cast member from the past installments. One thing that surprises me is how poorly Paul Walker still acts. You’d think after being in the whole series that he’d at least have a little stronger screen presence. But, I personally love Vin Diesel. He’s a beast! If he doesn’t return for the next one, I won’t be watching it, but until then, bring on Fast 6!

I’ll probably be buying this one when it’s released. And, I really don’t want to say anymore about this movie because I want you to get off the computer (or iPhone) and go watch it, NOW! I promise if you are a fan of the series like I am, you will love it. It’s a great time at the movies, with a great cast and story, and just so many cool things happening. 4 out 5 monkeys means it’s worth the 11 dollar ticket fee. Just stay tuned for the scene at the end of the credits, it’s a pretty big plot twist.