Monday, August 17, 2009

The Return of the Movie Review

I used to review movies whenever I saw them in this space. Then it slowly became taken over by Michigan football and Detroit Red Wings hockey. Now, it's summer and I've had little to write about either subject. I smell a comeback.

This summer I have watched 26 new movies and probably just as many that I'd seen before. That totals about three or four days' worth of my life that I won't get back anytime soon. Some of the choices were amazing ones, and others not so much. This post is going to be long enough as it is, so without further ado, your ridiculous list of movies in the order that I watched and reviewed them, with a whole new grading scale from 0-100.
  • The Hangover: 95. Absolutely amazing. The funniest movie of the summer with a great cast of characters. So many quotable parts and awesome little scenes (like Zack Galifianakis as Rain Man coming down the escalator) made this such a fun movie to watch. The immense amount of previews looked like it would be a bad omen, but it turned out that the previews didn’t even live up to how good the movie was. So. Hilarious. I loved it and saw it twice in theaters.
  • He’s Just Not That Into You: 72. I actually liked this movie, which is why it gets a low rating. That doesn’t make sense, you say? Well, I watched it alone in my apartment for one and then I saw it again with a bunch of family members later on. Nothing tells you how lonely and pathetic you are quite like seeing a sappy chick flick more than once. That being said, the cast was full of all-stars, Justin Long and Ginnifer Goodwin were hilarious and it showed me how crazy women can be. I liked it, but I’ve lost enough self respect having seen the movie twice so I can’t possibly give it a decent rating.
  • Slumdog Millionaire: 88. It’s always hard to watch a movie after it won Best Picture because you always feel like the expectations are too high to begin with. I really liked Slumdog, but it didn’t quite live up to what I envisioned. The plot was quite clever and the way the film was set up was awesome (revealing each question and then showing how he finds the answers). The acting was great, the girl was beautiful and you could really feel what the actors wanted you to feel. I don’t know why this doesn’t get up to the A level, but somehow it just didn’t feel as amazing as I thought it would be.
  • Seven Pounds: 84. Another meaningful film by Will Smith that makes you think. It was a little slow and I didn’t understand what was happening for a while, but it was a good movie by the end. It wasn’t exactly my type of movie, which is why it’s rating isn’t as high as it could be, but some unbelievable acting from Will Smith, as you’d expect, keeps it in the solid B range. Pretty solid movie overall.
  • Fanboys: 85. Hilarious. Much better than I anticipated. Probably my favorite role ever for Seth Rogen, and that’s saying something. I didn’t like how they tried to be serious with the whole friend who had cancer and died thing because it had nothing to do with the movie and added nothing to the movie, but there were plenty of moments of raucous laughter. The cast was awesome, with plenty of hilarious actors that aren’t all that famous (Chris Marquette, Jay Baruchel, Danny McBride, Ethan Suplee, Roy and Darryl from the Office, Will Forte, Jay and Silent Bob). The cameos from Shatner, Billy D. Williams, Carrie Fisher were awesome too. Oh, and Kristen Bell in the Leia outfit from Return of the Jedi might be the best thing my eyes have ever seen.
  • Body of Lies: 84. Interesting movie. A plot I didn’t see coming, and a twist at the end that was quite clever. I wasn’t overly impressed by either Russell Crowe’s or Leo DiCaprio’s performance, but that probably has something to do with the fact that I expect them to be beyond outstanding in any movie, considering track records. Good action movie with some cool espionage and gruesome torture scenes. Solid effort.
  • Gran Torino: 91. Really, really good in so many ways. Subtle comedy, good action, lots of suspense, touching compassion, inevitable sense of right and wrong. Clint Eastwood was incredible. The other no-name actors and actresses were actually pretty bad, especially one particular scene where it was supposed to be tense and dramatic and I laughed to myself because the scream was so lame and poorly executed, but Eastwood more than made up for it. His character was truly complex and great at heart. Stone cold on the outside, warm in the right places on the inside. I’ve been pleasantly surprised by just about everything I’ve seen with Clint Eastwood. He’s an amazing actor, and this was one of his better roles that I’ve seen.
  • The Taking of Pelham 123: 90. I saw this one in theaters the day after I saw Gran Torino, and I liked it just as much. Denzel was great as a meek, civil servant working for the city of New York and John Travolta was even better as an insane criminal with some serious overall knowledge. The plot was very interesting and the suspense was amazing. I spent so much time on the edge of my seat that I cramped up and had to lie back a little. I can’t say it was the best movie of the summer, but it was worth the price of admission and lived up to my expectations. Go see it.
  • Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist: 82. Cute, but meh. I usually like the feel-good movies with Michael Cera, but I didn’t like this as much as I thought I would. Cera was still hilarious, and I thought it was a funny and enjoyable movie, but it wasn’t quite what I expected or hoped for I guess. So, not much rhyme or reason behind the lower-than-usual score, but I just wasn’t impressed. Good soundtrack though.
  • Defiance: 88. Horrifying and heroic. Action packed and thoughtful. Daniel Craig kept his acting resume intact as far as I’m concerned and came through in spades with this role as a rebel Jew fighting to survive against the Germans in World War II. A touching true story that hardly anyone knows and movie that does it justice. There really wasn’t anything I didn’t like about the movie; it had just about everything, but it was slow at times and you need to be in the right mood to see it.
  • Sex Drive: 80. About what I expected. Crappy, but moments of hilarity. But a stupid premise, bad acting, and expected outcomes were nixed by incredible hot girls without shirts, Clark Duke (he just makes me laugh in pretty much everything) and Seth Green as the Amish guy. Probably not worth the couple hours I spent lying around watching it, but it’s another movie on the list. Clark Duke and Michael Cera should team up in a movie – other than their tiny scene together in Superbad – because they would be awesome. Just a thought.
  • Zack and Miri Make a Porno: 70. Why did I watch this movie? I really don’t know. It seemed like a better alternative to Bride Wars, but that remains to be seen. It was the typical Seth-Rogen style comedy, even if it was directed by Silent Bob instead of Judd Apatow. Definitely some funny parts, but I’d probably rather have those two hours back and go on living my life rather than have a few jokes in my head. Too late now, I guess.
  • Vicky Christina Barcelona: 86. Crazy movie. Very unpredictable, and I like that. Great acting, interesting story and the use of a narrator made it a very atypical movie from everything else I’ve watched so far. I wasn’t sure what to make of the ending, or the overall message, but I liked it. It certainly was a nice change-up from the previous two nights when I watched sub-par comedies with tired jokes and ridiculous plots and characters. Also, I found a new definition of beauty in the multiple kissing scenes shared by Penelope Cruz and Scarlett Johansson. Not that such a magnificent image would affect its score or anything.
  • Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen: 92. I don’t think I can put it above the Hangover as my favorite movie of the summer just yet, but it was awesome. I liked it so much that I almost forgot I went to see it by myself in the theater. It was hilarious; some of the dialogue and funny sequences were just side splitting (I hope Michael Bay planned for that and didn’t just do it on accident). The action was incredible (what else would you expect from a Bay film?) and of course, any movie with Megan Fox in a starring role gets an automatic 85 points. Luckily, this one was good enough to bump it up an extra few.
  • Public Enemies: 86. Above average. It was slow and a bit artsy-fartsy, but still an awesome story and Johnny Depp was badass. Christian Bale was less than impressive, but he didn’t make the film worse, I suppose. The old cars, guns, fashion and everything was cool; I always kind of like movies set in the 1930s because it takes real film expertise to make it realistic. That said, it wasn’t enthralling and moved a little slowly for a movie about gangsters. Solid effort and worth the money, but not as good as I hoped.
  • Bruno: 55. If Borat was mostly funny and kind of gross, Bruno was incredibly gross and kind of funny. I mean yes, I was laughing most of the time, but a lot of it was out of pure discomfort. The majority of the laughs were in the trailers, and there were way too many naked male body parts. For a movie that was only an hour and a half, it sure threw in a lot of penis. Acceptable in funny ways like Forgetting Sarah Marshall, but not so acceptable in a movie like Bruno.
  • Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince: 88. It could have been the best movie of the summer. By far. But the ending was so aggravating it fell all the way out of A range. I still think it was probably the best Harry Potter yet, but the lack of accuracy in the last 15 minutes drove me crazy. No fighting, no spellbinding curses at Harry and no Dumbledore pleading. I wasn’t pleased. The first two hours were great: not that much crappy acting that I’d come to expect from the Potter series, some good action and hilarious dialogue. So, I guess that puts it above average, even if the ending annoyed me.
  • Paul Blart - Mall Cop: 80. Kevin James is funny, but this movie was pretty stupid. Mostly predictable and a pretty lame plot keep this one at a low score, but I’m happy I saw it. The mall cop character was perfect for Kevin James, and he seems to get better with every movie he does. Always a strong comedian. Not much else to say, expect I thought it was hilarious to see Todd, the gay son from Wedding Crashers, play the uber-badass bank robber in this flick. Pretty funny contrast, I must say.
  • My Best Friend’s Girl: 85. Dane Cook. That’s all you need to know. He’s at his absolute best in this one. Yes, it was a sappy romantic comedy by the end of it, but the sheer amount of vulgarity was enough to win me over. Guy humor, what can I say? The Dane Train was in perfect form, especially in the incredibly ass-holistic scenarios. Jason Biggs was a good fit too, and Kate Hudson is gorgeous. Winner winner, underrated chicken dinner. Not bad, considering my expectations were at “beyond awful” and could really only go up from there.
  • 500 Days of Summer: 90. It takes real ingenuity to make a pretty basic plotline (boy meets girl over the summer) and turn it into something original and special. I thought this indie flick was very good, and it made me laugh and think about relationships as a whole. It was a little cheesy, especially the part at the end, but I can enjoy cheesy sometimes. It also based a lot of its story on fate, which isn’t something I strongly believe in but is something I think about and consider from time to time. So, overall, a very pleasurable movie experience.
  • Iron Man: 94. Yeah, I’m a year late on this one. I heard all the hubbub about it last summer when everyone was saying they loved it and I kept finding excuses not to see it. I assumed it was just another superhero movie and about a character I cared little about. But when I finally saw it on a very hungover Saturday afternoon, I loved it. Robert Downey Jr. was awesome, Gwyneth Paltrow was beautiful and Jeff Bridges was a decent villain. It was nothing like a stereotypical superhero movie, and it might even be the best superhero movie I’ve seen, including the Dark Knight. Absolutely awesome.
  • The Hurt Locker: 93. Really great. It honestly makes me rethink the military. I thought the characters were amazing, the story was very interesting and I was on the edge of my seat the whole time. There are very few movies where I can’t predict anything that’s going to happen with any certainty, but this was one of them. The bomb technicians angle was so cool, just because it’s not the typical story of a soldier, but once you realize the struggle that everyone’s going through collectively in the warzone, that’s what makes the movie great.
  • Funny People: 86. Pretty hilarious, but way too long. Plenty of great scenes and I loved having a movie centered around stand-up comedy, but two and a half hours was ridiculous. The old Adam Sandler videos were awesome to see though, so the movie kept me entertained throughout. I just wanted it to end a little earlier and make a little more sense. Why was Leslie Mann’s character even in the movie? Solid effort from Apatow though.
  • Pride and Glory: 96. Amazing. Nothing to do but put it at the top of the list. Edward Norton. Colin Farrell. Corrupt cops and lots of intense violence. I had no idea where the movie was going or how it would end, and that made it all the more awesome. I really can’t believe that more people haven’t heard about this movie. It’s absolutely incredible.
  • Miss March: 47. I have no idea why I rented this movie. It was a pretty bad plot idea with no good actors or actresses whatsoever. There were a few hilarious parts, especially with Daryll from The Office as the rap superstar “Horsedick.mpeg” (coincidentally one of the best fake rap names ever). The movie itself though was completely awful.
  • Children of Men: 86. Quite enjoyable. Clive Owen rarely disappoints and he was very good in this role. The plot was interesting and the whole concept of infertile women was pretty intense to think about. I didn’t really like the ending much, but overall the movie was definitely worth watching. Better than average for sure, and almost extraordinary.
I've still got a couple movies to see before the summer's over, but who knows if I'll review them here. I've rented the International with Clive Owen and I still want to see Inglorious Basterds with Brad Pitt, Taking Woodstock with Demetri Martin, Extract with Jason Bateman, and eventually Couples Retreat with Vince Vaughn.

Clearly, I've seen too many movies this summer, but hopefully these reviews will help you avoid a couple disappointments and find a couple new movies to enjoy. Oh, and only 19 days until Michigan opens the season against Western Michigan. Awesome.

1 comment:

Meg said...

if we're ever wondering why you're behind with designs and stuff, we now know.

defiance should be at least a 90. at least.