Tag Archives: Lamar Greene

Prometheus

Prometheus, the official line is “…a team of explorers discover a clue to the origins of mankind on Earth, leading them on a thrilling journey to the darkest corners of the universe.” We all know this is the highly anticipated prequel to the legendary Alien franchise. Nuff said.

I sooooo wanted to love, Love, LOVE! this movie, but it was not meant to be. Let’s start with what I like about Prometheus. I can call this film visually EPIC in the very definition of the word. You get the feeling you are watching an EVENT. Something important and worth every second of your time. It is absolutely gorgeous and expansive. Too bad the crew doesn’t convey that wonder.

And for the bad… As grand as the film work is, the story and characters are lacking. Important points and events are introduced and never explained. The key word of the last sentence is “important.” Not a little detail like what does one eat after a long hyper sleep, but more like, “Hey, I wonder what killed off all these superior life forms that we traversed the galaxy to find, and finding out may be very relevant to surviving this mission.”

We get the now familiar artificial life form (Michael Fassbender) and meeting of the hodge podge support crew in the cargo bay, getting briefed about the mission. But we never really get to know the “red shirt” crew. The only memorable portrayal is Fifield (Sean Harris). Apparently throughout time, no one actually knows what the hell they are signing up for that involves deep space travel and years of your life. They just go, “Yeah, I’m in,” and jump in a clear tube to sleep for the journey.

A symptom of space travel seems to be a loss of common sense, on a human level and as a scientist. Charlie Holloway (Logan Marshall-Green), one of the lead archeologists, becomes infected, and what does he say? NOTHING! He is totally aware that something is not right, and continues on. The only benefit I can see of this is to give Meredith Vickers (Charlize Theron), an opportunity to show some intelligence and not let him back on the ship when he is transforming. Another symptom must be not giving a shit. If you get to the point when discovering new, sentient life forms on another planet and ground breaking information about human history becomes blasé, I guess you can say you have done it all.

If I had to choose a single phrase for Prometheus, it would be gorgeous but underwhelming. I expected more of a cohesive story. It wasn’t as bad as watching Lost, but in the ballpark. If you just sit back and take in the wonder, and don’t pay attention to the details, this can be an enjoyable film. Given the mythology that has been created, I feel the details are crucial. The imminent sequel holds promise, but then so did this.

 

Dark Shadows

I have never seen the original Dark Shadows, so I am coming in to this with only the trailers giving me pre-conceived notions. Being a Johnny Depp and Tim Burton vehicle, I expected more. All I could mange was a few giggles and stifle even more yawns.

Barnabus’ (Johnny Depp) family came to America in 1750 to expand their fishing business. The expansion was a success and the town was named Collinsport. Barnabas becomes a man, and Angelique  falls in love with him. She expresses her love to Barnabus, but it is unrequited. He instead falls in love with Josette. Angelique kills Barnabas’ parents, causes Josette to kill herself and curses him to be a vampire. (From what I have learned about vampire lore from books and other movies, a vampire is not created by casting a spell.) At some point after the curse, Angelique gets a mob to attack and bury the monster. He is set free in 1972 to find the family business and estate in ruins. Angie and her “ancestors”, have been running the company that has dominated Collinsport since Barnabas had “gone away.” (They neglected to say who exactly took over the business as the principal players were out of commission.)

The story seems to be based on 3 shaky topics- showing how comically out of place Barnabas is, needless sex references (specifically with Angelique [Eva Green] &  Doctor Hoffman), and depicting how obsessed Angelique is. More on this later…

The other players had potential to add to the story that was never explored, or was left on the virtual cutting room floor. It felt like everyone was just a backdrop to support Depp’s greatness. Here’s who we could have learned more about:

David Collins (Gulliver McGrath) – Descendant of Barnabas who is considered troubled because he can see and speak to ghosts, specifically his dead mother.

Dr Julia Hoffman (Helena Bonham Carter) – She is the consistently hung over, onsite psychiatrist who has been treating David for his “condition.” (There doesn’t seem to be much of a condition, except in the conversations about it.)

Roger Collins (Jonny Lee Miller) – David’s never present dad. We do learn one more important thing about his character later…

Carolyn Stoddard (Chloë Grace Moretz) – David’s older sister. A 15 yr old growing up in an unquestionably crazy situation, with nowhere to turn.

Victoria Winters (Bella Heathcote) – David’s nanny, as if having your own live in doctor is not enough.

Willie Loomis (Jackie Earle Haley) – The drunken, underutilized caretaker.

David’s mother (Josephine Butler) – Or should I say the ghost of. She was introduced to us as a child masquerading as a ghost. A ghost in a sheet. Really? I think they wrote her in so she could be recalled to help add absolutely nothing to the haphazard, confusing ending.

What I took away from this is that no matter how powerful, successful, pretty or smart a woman is, she can still be monumentally crazy. 200 years after Barnabus’ imprisonment, Angie has built an empire, is (still) a witch, and haves whatever she wants. Except the love of a single man. When she learns that Barnabas has risen, she attempts to get him back.

I don’t know where Tim was headed with this one, but he missed the exit.

The Avengers

Forget for a minute that I am a fanboy… (yeah, right.) The Avengers is a good, entertaining movie. It does for super hero groups what Heath Ledger did for the Joker, Zack Snyder for Watchmen, and J.J. Abrams for Star Trek (2009). It transcends its geeky, isolated, basement roots and brings it into mainstream acceptability. It makes me really want to see super heroes duking it out on the streets of New York. Yes, it would be dangerous, but so is a tornado. Doesn’t make it any less awe inspiring.

Let’s run down the list of what we get…

Joss Whedon-The director and brilliant creator that brought us Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, and Firefly. The man is a genius at fleshing out characters and going them another dimension. These heroes were already in place, he brought them to another level. We get a fight and dialogue scene involving Loki (Tom Hiddleston) and Thor (Chris Hemsworth)that was better than the whole Thor movie. Joss is also good at throwing in some twists… There are 2 I’m pretty sure you won’t be expecting, and the first happens in the opening 10 minutes. His use of cultural relevance is spot on. Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) tells Captain America to have Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo) “suit up.” (This works for two reasons, and when you see the movie, I hope you’ll understand.)

Action- Not only that, but action we can see!!! There were 2 instances that caught my eye where I went, “what was that?”, but only a few measly seconds. The rest of the time, we can see Natasha Romanoff, (Scarlett Johansson) the Black Widow, kicking ass. We can tell that Captain America(Chris Evans) just threw a punch, Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) even gets into the fray. As a special bonus, Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) is bas ass! No stupid purple mask thing and dorky costume. He is a top S.H.I.E.L.D agent. Comic book fans may recognize some of their favorite panels brought to life. They may not be literal translations, but you definitely know where they came from. (Pssst-> Iron Man and Thor…) And a nice nod to the Marvel Ultimate Alliance video game.

Comic Book tech- We get a freakin’ Helicarrier! Not some lame ass ship with a S.H.I.E.L.D. logo painted on the side, bit the full blown aircraft carrier that can fly! Did I mention the Quinjets? I don’t remember them being called that by name, be they are there.

Story- What does it take to give us a good hero(s)? A good villain. Loki, The Master of Lies has made his way back to earth. I really can’t tell too much here without spoiling some things, let’s just say his return is like an onion…

Balance- The mix of action, humanity, humor, depth, and story are spot on. I didn’t get bored when they were “dialoguing.” One of the things I appreciate is that is an ensemble cast, and all characters are used well.

What we don’t get is War Machine. Unless you count the 6 yr old that dressed up.

Get a great director (who knows comics and imagination), story, actors, RIGHT & PURPOSEFUL special effects, and what do you get? A huge summer blockbuster that I will gladly go see again. I admit, I did not see it in IMAX or 3D. I have been told they are good, but I don’t think it is required to enjoy the awesomeness. I predict, (ok, hoping like crazy and crossing my fingers), that on the strength of his handling of the Avengers, Joss will be able to revive the Wonder Woman project…

FYI, before there was Siri, there was Jarvis… : )

Update: I’ve seen this movie for a second time, and I have to say, the 3D wasn’t atrocious! Much like the special effects, it looks like it was utilized correctly.

Think Like a Man

Think Like a Man is based on the best selling book by Steve Harvey. I actually thought him being the author was part of the script. That should tell you how much I travel the relationship aisle of the book store… In spite of myself, I found this to be somewhat enjoyable. I say that because I have a looong standing aversion to romantic comedies. Why? I’m glad you asked… From my perspective, they suck. More on that later.

The premise is the women are tired of the way their relationships are going, and discover Steve Harvey’s book. The women follow the advice and get the men to fall in line. The men find out the women are using the book, and start to use it against them. The plot focuses on 5 (but should really be 6) men and the women they are interacting with. The Player, Zeke (Romany Malco). Self explanatory… Non Committal Guy, Jeremy (Jerry Ferrara). Jeremy has been dating Kristen (Gabrielle Union) for 9 years their place still looks like a frat house. The Dreamer, Dominic (Michael Ealy). He’s a great guy, changes careers often, with no real plans for the future. The Mama’s Boy, Michael (Terrence Jenkins). Soon to be Divorced Guy, Cedric (Kevin Hart). His character tends to go a bit over the top for me, and is one of the reasons I can’t totally invest. I laughed at your initial antics, move on. We get it. Quit milking the joke. Much like I am over emphasizing this topic. And finally, Happily married Guy, Bennett (Gary Owen). He is a balance of Cedric- witty, dry and straight to the point. And way under utilized.

What was so special about the predictable and formulaic love story that made me not hate it? You are so full of good questions today! I felt that portions were almost believable. If the “90 day rule” had not had such an onscreen presence, I could have overlooked the (less) compressed time frame that is such a reality killer in romantic comedies.  I won’t say the characters were totally developed, or that any performance is worthy of an Oscar nomination. I did laugh and it flowed pretty well. I probably over identified with too many of the situations, (except the mama’s boy). They seem to have left out Dated Too Many Crazy Women Guy. That would have been me!

I appreciated that some of the relationships were already in progress. Not everyone went from “Meet to Love” in 2.9 days. This is probably the biggest complaint I have about romantic comedies, couples falls in love too quickly, I cannot suspend that much reality. Star Trek has done a better job of making me believe that man can travel through space, and most other reaches are humanoid. Maybe its my belief structure. Having lived as long as I have, met as many women as I have, gone on as many dates as I have, it all seems like crap when they meet for 15 min and are instantly in LOVE! Add all sorts of issues that are only somewhat funny in movies, but would be intolerable in real life to the mix, and you might as well add a unicorn. The average romantic comedy should be rebilled as fantasy.

Many of the characters, men and women, had some sort of evolution. Granted, they were all on almost the exact same time line, and it came pretty conveniently, but there appeared to be some progress.

John Carter

John CarterBefore I start this review, I would like to make sure I have the attention of the person(s) responsible for Star Wars – Episodes 1, 2 & 3. Are you out there, are you listening? Good… The massive [correct use of ] technology was required to tell this type of story, it was not a vehicle to show off how much time was put into design and computer processing ability. And “Oh, yeah… let’s try and build crappy story around it.”

John Carter (Taylor Kitsch) is a normal earth man, and a civil war vet, who finds himself transported to Mars (known as Barsoom to the inhabitants) and caught between warring factions. As Mars has lower gravity than Earth, John soon finds he has some enhanced abilities. Upon his arrival, he is discovered by Tars Tarkas, (Willem Dafoe) leader of the Tharks. Tharks are a race of tall, bipedal, four armed, green skinned, nomadic beings that inhabit Mars.

Did I forget to mention the Humans, (or at least human-like)? Yeah, there are some of those too. I was scratching my head about this, and then eventually let it go. There are two factions of “humans”, the city of Helium, of whom Deja Thoris (Lynn Collins), is their princess. (Deja is freaking incredible!) Sab Than (Dominic West), is the leader of Zodanga, a traveling city of destruction and the sworn enemy of Helium. Mark Strong makes a very memorable appearance as Matai Shang, a mysterious manipulator with (obviously) his own interests in the outcome of the conflict.

I cannot speak to the books by Edgar Rice Burroughs on which this movie is based, but the following comments are grounded in seeing this movie today, and the films that have come before it. Is John Carter the most imaginative piece of work I’ve ever seen? No. Is space travel/teleportation a unique concept? No. Do we see shades of other scifi, fantasy, love stories and aliens that will look familiar? Most definitely. Then why should I see this movie? As the answer parents give when they don’t want to explain everything, “Because I said so…”

John Carter has some flaws and a few inconsistencies, but I was so involved in enjoying myself, I didn’t care. It is fun, engaging, fanciful and the characters actually make me give a shit about what is happening to them. There will most likely not be any academy award nominations for best dramatic anything, but you will come away having enjoyed that 2hr 19min.

I have purposefully avoided focusing on some of the flaws of the film, because for the type of story and adventure John Carter is, I do not think they are important. Instead of trying to pick them out, sit back, relax and prepare to whisked away. Pay attention to Earth side story as well. It is important background (and just as entertaining as the off planet story) of how John Carter has become, and will become, the man we see on Mars. The Earth story also includes a special appearance by one of my favorites, Bryan Cranston.

3D is still useless. It blends ok in normal scenes, (I still don’t feel like I can reach out and touch the flying ship.) In action sequences is an abysmal and unnecessary distraction. Save the extra $ and see it in 2D.

In Time

Yeah… Let’s start off by saying I like Justin Timberlake, and Amanda Seyfried is ridiculously cute. But liking and looks are not enough to save “In Time.”

The story is set in an indiscriminate era that visually reminds me of Equilibrium, where time is literally the new currency. Presumably to cure overcrowding, the aging gene stops at 25. At that time, a visual biological clock starts a countdown of one year. That amount can be increased or decreased by working or paying off bills. The “rich” have a lot of time and the poor have to scrounge and live day to day. You get the idea? Good.

Will Salas (Justin Timberlake) is a working man who saves Henry Hamilton (Matt Bomer) from being robbed in a bar. Henry is an old man who is basically ready to die. Don’t forget no one appears older than 25. Henry (through a much used, but not explained process of control) transfers almost all but a last few moments of his time to Will. Will is assumed to have killed Henry and later goes on the run. But not before he is unable to save his mother (Olivia Wilde) who dramatically dies in his arms and he becomes angry at the system.

While on the run, but before he knows he is being pursued, Will meets the daughter of Phillipe Weiss (Vincent Kartheiser), Sylvia (Amanda Seyfried). Phillipe is one of the richest men in country? World? I’m not sure. Sylvia is also upset at the system. Specifically how the rich are alive for however long they can afford, but they do not live the life they have. From here, it becomes more incoherent. And the whole checking how much time is left, and transferring of time gets played out very quickly.

For a technologically advanced time, no one has a cell phone. A poor plot point is completely reliant on a pay phone… During this crappily executed point, Raymond Leon (Cillian Murphy), a Timecop, is shot. He lays on the ground, apparently seriously wounded. Next scene he is walking out of zone 12, bleeding and injured. (he went in with no back up and his vehicle was stolen). The next scene seems to forget the last 2 ever happened and no indication of a wound ever shows up again.

More items pop up but never seem to pay off or make sense. If a person won a windfall, twice, what would they do? Will’s father and his legacy… (He is mentioned multiple times, and the associated reveal is LAME) Can one or two persons by themselves, without a substantial plan, really make a difference? How much is too much blatant exposition? (To cover the plot holes that were created). How can passengers in a convertible that flips and rolls multiple times, with no seat belts on, not fall out? Is this supposed to be Bonnie & Clyde? Or Robin Hood? Or Romeo & Juliet?

I will say that I liked the cars. Mostly old school and muscle cars with flat black paint and modified lighting. The only  thing that will make me feel better is “Logan’s Run” which it seems this movie was inspired from. Watch the extended trailer, it’s more cohesive and entertaining than the movie.

Captain America

Captain America joins Iron Man and Batman Begins in the ranks of damn good comic book movies! Hollywood is restoring a little faith for this fanboy.

Captain (Chris Evans) primarily takes place during WWII, and does an admirable job of showing patriotism without being overly so. Instead of focusing on Hitler’s attempt to dominate, The First Avenger’s nemesis is the Red Skull (Hugo Weaving [who isn’t abusing the speech patterns of Agent Smith]). He is the leader of Hydra, the German version of the war era (and more succesful) X-files/special weapons division. The Red Skull has been on the hunt for, and has found, an energy source of the gods which will enable him to wipe out those he believes to be unworthy. Which is pretty much EVERYONE, including Hitler.

We are treated with an actual hero’s journey (Thor, take note) that didn’t take place in 48 hours… Steve Rogers must deal with his desire yet inability to be recruited into the war effort and then how to be the man he was never meant to be.

I would categorize this as an action drama. It’s got enough good action to keep many entertained, but the right amount of drama so it does not pander to the lowest common denominator.

This may be my shortest review ever, but what can I say beyond it is worth seeing. This character is one of the most prolific in comic book history and his story is well known. This adaptation is well told. And of course brings us up to today in preparation for The Avengers

Also stars Hayley Atwell, Sebastian Stan, Tommy Lee Jones, Dominic Cooper, and Stanley Tucci.

NSA

No Strings Attached is supposed to be “every” guy’s, and some women’s best fantasy… This concept is repeatedly verbalized by the supporting characters of Eli (Jake M. Johnson)and Wallace (Ludacris). In case you are unaware, NSA means having sex with no commitment or expectations.

The first 10 minutes begin with a mix of caring, boldness, and comedic subtlety that I have not seen in a while. Unfortunately, it was not maintained… As this was directed by Ivan Reitman, I was expecting a bit more. While I didn’t not enjoy this movie, (yes, that was a double negative), let’s just say I am waiting for the unrated DVD.

The story actually begins 15 years ago, when Emma (Natalie Portman) and Adam (Ashton Kutcher) are teenagers at summer camp. Frome there, they have a few random (non sexual) encounters until “current day.” Emma is in residency, and anybody who has seen Scrubs knows that doctors-to-be do not have a lot of free time. The morning AFTER a hard night of drinking on Adam’s part, and an early morning hookup with Emma, the NSA plan is formed. From here we descend into romantic comedy territory with mostly familiar scenes and the required montage.

Back to supporting characters… I really wanted to see more of them. More Eli, Wallace, Shira (Mindy Kaling), and Patrice (Greta Gerwig). The friends surrounding the relationship had quite a bit of potential in themselves that was never utilized. Most notably, Wallace. I don’t remember if we even found out his name on screen. Why use a character like Ludacris, and have his most memorable line be, “Look at my face.” I’m not saying he is the most talented person in Hwood, but I doubt he is cheap, and I know he has more range than what we saw here.

Maybe I had too many expectations… The teeth I was hoping this film would have just didn’t sustain. How edgy can this topic be anymore? Craigslist has a whole section dedicated to it. Natalie Portman continues her determined walk away from the perceived girl next door image, (If she ever had one. Especially after The Professional and Black Swan), with some stimulating scenes. I will give kudos to the period playlist… (I don’t consider this a spoiler as it is listed on the official website). Overall, NSA was sufficiently entertaining, even if my sides were not in pain from laughing the whole way through.

Scott Pilgrim vs The World

Quality movies based on comics, graphic novels and video games are cashing in right now, and Scott Pilgrim is possibly at the top of that list. Brought to us by the same man who gave us Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz, (where is Simon Pegg?), Edgar Wright brings his latest often low key, otherwise pinpoint accurate comic genius to Scott Pilgrim vs The World.

Scott Pilgrim is a 22yr old Canadian bassist who plays video games, rocks with his band, deals with his gay roommate Wallace (Kieran Culkin), who can text in his sleep, telling his sister Stacey (Anna Kendrick) absolutely EVERYTHING, and is in love with Ramona Flowers (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), the new girl in town and the girl of his dreams. As we know, Scott must defeat her 7 Evil Ex’s, specifically defined as NOT 7 Evil Ex Boyfriends (this was given away in the trailer). Each ex is more powerful than the last and has a unique power. Who knew that being a Vegan could give you special abilities, like punching the highlights out of someones hair?!?

Having come from a somewhat geeky background, Scott Pilgrim strikes home. From the opening Universal logo in 8-bit, to the closing scene, I was enamored with this film. The sound effects are splashed in text across the scene, we get on screen hit point meters and character synopsis, plus Catholic School Girl uniforms! The setting appears to be a mix of the early 90′s and today. Meshing two worlds with a prolific use of pay phones and cell phones into a cohesive duality that works with the music, characters, and social/movie references.

The surrounding world is completely forgiving of everything that pops up, literally. No one is surprised nor questions Scott’s new found skills or the League of Evil Ex’s that surrounds Ramona. The first Ex, Matthew Patel (Satya Bhabha), arrives while Scott’s band, Sex Bomb-omb, is onstage. He sent an email detailing his intentions to do battle, and breaks out in a Bollywood style song complete with sexy ghost-like Demons. Scott only skimmed the email, and wonders what to do. Wallace yells the sage advice of, “FIGHT!!!”

Not only are we treated to a visual romp through a fantasy land that I wish I were a part of (come on, you want super powers too!), there is plenty of wisdom, smart dialogue, and useful dating and life lessons embedded within. With Scott being such a young man, he has a lot going on in his life. Juggling an ex in the band, Kim (Alison Pill), a current girlfriend groupie soon to be ex, Knives Chau (Ellen Wong), an unstable ex and lead singer of a popular band, Envy (Brie Larson), and the woman he believes he is in love with, Scott ultimately heads on his journey into manhood.

This movies is absolute awesomenessness. Yes, I typed that correctly. Wright makes no excuses for items that are unexplained, but I don’t care. If you are more interested in the fine details of how the Vegan police were called, or if Sex Bomb-omb was playing the proper chord, maybe this movie isn’t for you. But it is definitely for me.

The Expendables

Sylvester Stallone has been around for a while, and like older women that look like they have raided their daughters closet, maybe it’s time to let go of the past. I’m not saying curl up and die, just accept some things may not be for you anymore…

Expendables started decently, doing the things that could have made it successful had they continued down that road. There was comical banter in a tense, over the top situation that legitimately should have left them all dead. There were even several attempts to create backstory and give the characters depth. Statham had a love interest, Lacy (Charisma Carpenter), he was on the outs with, due to his questionable availability. Li kept saying he needed more money, but the reasons kept changing. Couture was in therapy dealing with issues. The biggest stretch was Lundgren being a drugged up, burnt out mercenary. At least they tried.

Let’s address the main selling point of this film, the cast allegedly consisting of some of our favorite action heroes from days gone by. Just because they make an appearance, does not an ensemble make. Remember the preview? That was pretty much the whole appearance by Willis and Schwarzenegger. The rest of the film was a Stallone vehicle, accompanied by Statham (he does have some of the best fight scenes). Some loose storylines involved Lundgren, Rourke and Li. And pretty much appearances by everyone else. I don’t remember Terry Crews even throwing a punch!

The basic plot is the team is hired to to free a small island from tyrannical leader General Garza (David Zayas) who is backed by rich Americans profiting from his drug trade (fronted by Eric Roberts with Steve Austin as the muscle). Their contact happens to be Sandra (Giselle Itié), the ridiculously attractive daughter of the dictator. After an inane confrontation that I imagine would NEVER happen if they were doing real reconnaissance, Stallone and Statham safely return home minus Sandra, as she will not leave her homeland. In the most touching scene and arguably the best acting of the movie, Rourke recants a tale of a previous mission. He had taken so many lives that day… He comes to a bridge where a woman was about to jump, she pleads to him with her eyes to save her, and he walks away. He hears the splash and knows that his humanity is gone.

Stallone decides to go back alone and help Sandra free her people. In true pack animal form, the guys go back with him, even though he says he is going alone and they are not getting paid. Right about now the shark gets jumped, the bowl gets circled, and crows are pecking at the dead flesh of The Expendables. It degrades into a stereotypical bad action flick that relies on explosions and gunfire to make a point. Or lack of a point. I wanted to see if our best action heroes still had what made them famous. I couldn’t tell, because I can’t see anything! The fight scenes are way too close and quick cutting. The General’s trained army is completely dismantled by six men. And why the hell is the helipad located outside the confines of the palace, along the most dangerous path available? Oh yeah, the palace has been reduced to a pile of rubble, and with no chase through the compound the movie would be shortened by 25 minutes.

The Expendables didn’t have potential, it was actually using what could have made it enjoyable and a movie to remember (in a good way.) It goes to some unnecessarily dark places, and includes story points that just don’t fit. Remember Rocky and First Blood? This is no where close. Darn that Hollywoody crap for getting in the way.