Okay, I don’t know how I let myself go so long again between updates. It’s either Dragon*Con insanity, or just pure laziness on my part. Either way, there are four movies I haven’t reviewed yet that I’m going to knock out right now, or I’m going to let myself fall behind even more. Starting with the first one I promised:
I’m just now starting to become familiar with Wes Anderson. When most people’s first exposure to Anderson was Rushmore or The Royal Tenenbaums, mine was The Fantastic Mr. Fox. I didn’t expect to like The Fantastic Mr. Fox as much as I did, but the slowed down frame rate and the quirky, somewhat adult spin on a children’s story was a treat in terms of stop motion animation. Plus, Petey’s Song had to be the best part of the movie.
I guess it’s appropriate that the followup to Anderson’s adaptation of a Roald Dahl novel is a story about childhood and first love. Moonrise Kingdom has all the elements of a live action Wes Anderson movie. There are the delightfully insane characters, the adults who aren’t quite satisfied with their lives, the bright primary colors that don’t seem to exist in real life, and the masterful use of music. However, it doesn’t feel as hilariously bleak as a usual Wes Anderson movie. Instead, there’s a bit of hope and optimism to be had between our protagonists Sam and Suzy. They’re young, misunderstood, and in love. And no adult is going to keep them apart. I kept expecting a terrible turn around for the two due to Suzy’s more pessimistic nature or the adults who seemed determined that they had to be apart, but was pleasantly surprised and relieved when it didn’t turn out that way.
Through the story of Sam and Suzy, we get to see the usual Anderson adults, but they’re not the focus of the story. In fact, some of them even have improved lives by the end of the film after the events of chasing the two runaway lovers across New Penzance. There are a few Anderson newcomers among them, such as Bruce Willis and Edward Norton, but there are also some great memorable performances from Bill Murray and Jason Schwartzmann, who probably only have about 30 minutes of film between them. A lot of credit has to be given to the child actors though. Jared Gilman and Kara Hayward made me fall in love with Sam and Suzy so much with their performances and all the Khaki Scout boys managed to be hilarious as well.
This movie was a fun and hilarious watch, and a great addition to the world of Wes Anderson. I hope he continues to make these children’s movies for adults, because he seems to be rather good at it.
Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter
There are many goofy moments, some very terrible racial connotations with the vampires using slaves as a food source, and horrible CG, but if you can turn off your critical eye for a couple of hours and turn on your inner Crow T. Robot, this movie is a fun piece of Alternate History. An Abraham Lincoln that acts like Liam Neeson with an axe that doubles as a shotgun, Rufus Sewell as a deliciously decadent baddie, Mary Elizabeth Winstead defying her aging makeup as Mary Todd Lincoln, Dominic Cooper being a hot vampire teacher, and Anthony Mackie bringing out his inner Samuel L. Jackson? Again, they make this slow motion trainwreck of hilarious badness amazing.
Also Alan Tudyk and one of the McPoyle brothers are there. Enough said.
The Dark Knight Rises
I wanted to like this movie so much more than I actually did.
There were several good elements, like Anne Hathaway’s performance as Selina Kyle and Joseph Gordon Levitt as John Blake, Cillian Murphy’s cameo as the Scarecrow that brought back memories of Batman: The Animated Series, and Michael Caine making me cry with his emotional performance as Alfred Pennyworth, but as a whole, there seemed to be so much missing. Catwoman’s arc wasn’t developed enough, Bruce suddenly going broke was sort of trite, the twist about Talia and Bane really shouldn’t have been a twist and/or developed from the first or second film, and Tom Hardy’s voice as Bane was purely laughable. Among other things about his whole plot to destroy Gotham.
Or was it Talia’s?
Either way, there was so much of this film that didn’t seem to go together. It didn’t really feel like a Batman film either. For how much Bruce was absent throughout this film and how much focus their was on the police and the antagonists, it felt like it was actually Christopher Nolan trying to adapt Greg Rucka’s Gotham Central but added in Batman being a recluse ala Frank Miller and trying to get rid of a bomb ala Adam West just to appease Warner Bros. Well, if that was the case, where was Renee Montoya? Because she was the B:TAS character I wanted, not Daggett. Though, any time Burn Gorman as Daggett’s assistant got beat up by Selina, I felt satisfied due to my hatred of Owen Harper.
The biggest crime of this film though? They killed Batmanuel. That is completely and utterly unacceptable.
Finally, I saw The Watch, Akiva Schaffer’s second film as a director. If this film had been presented to me with its plot and only with Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn, and Jonah Hill, I probably would have waited to see it on DVD or HBO.
However, I was presented with an irresistible fourth lead: Richard Ayoade, making his American film debut.
With that, I was pretty much required to see this movie.
The Watch isn’t the best comedy ever. In fact, it’s not even as hilariously ridiculous as Hot Rod, Schaffer’s directorial debut. However, Ayoade brought an amazing performance as Jamarcus. The character was slightly like Moss from The IT Crowd, but there was enough cursing, confusion, and enjoyment of sex to set the character apart from Moss. Plus, there were some legitimately hilarious and heartfelt moments in the film. I was actually pretty surprised with the way the story of Bob (Vince Vaughn) and his daughter Chelsea turned out. I expected it to be the two of them arguing throughout the film, but it turned out to be quite realistic and sweet the way their relationship turned around. Ben Stiller’s character also had a interestingly realistic story arc with him and his wife trying to conceive. It was surprising, but refreshing as well.
The film also features great cameos from R. Lee Ermey, Billy Crudup, and The Lonely Island. In fact, The Lonely Island’s cameo seems to harken back to their 100th digital short on SNL.
I’m all caught up now. Next topic will be my late halfway through the year music coverage.