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Chronicle (2012) review
02/03/12 at 10:37 AM by EvilButters
Andrew Detmer (Dane DeHaan) is what you'd call your typical high school loner. Most students peg him as a loser, but he's really just misunderstood. His mom is practically on her death bed, his dad is an abusive drunk, and he has no friends. Nobody is willing to give Andrew a chance and he's too shy to break out of his shell on his own. Even his cousin Matt (Alex Russell) is a bit hesitant to hang out with him in public. As Andrew begins to start filming his life at all times, he soon discovers something of another world with Matt and student body president Steve Montgomery (Michael B. Jordan). Despite each of them developing chronic nosebleeds, they also discover they now have superhuman abilities. Andrew, Matt, and Steve push themselves to the limit and become stronger in the process. But as Uncle Ben said to Peter Parker, "With great power comes great responsibility." Friendships will be tested and destruction will become nothing more than an afterthought.

I felt a little weary going into Chronicle. The original trailer was interesting, but the TV spots seemed to show too much. They essentially gave away every key point of the storyline. Not only that, but they gave away too much of the special effects as well. That wouldn't be much of an issue if the effects didn't look so shoddy and cheap. Seeing it on the big screen did help, but they still looked a little hokey in the process.

Chronicle is shot in the documentary-style you've been forced to accept as a regular style of filmmaking ever since The Blair Witch Project came out in 1999. The upside is Chronicle doesn't look as amateur as what you may be expecting. There are a few shaky moments, but it's mostly in the beginning before Andrew gets a new camera. Once that happens, everything visual becomes a bit clearer and the perspective becomes a lot more interesting. The "floating camera" perspective is one of the more original aspects to come out of the film. One of the highlights of this perspective is when Andrew first puts the firefighter costume on. That scene in particular is pretty awesome, but is even more exceptional thanks to the intriguing camera work.

Those scenes where Andrew, Matt, and Steve develop their superpowers to their maximum potential are the best in the film. What human being has never dreamt of flying? The way Chronicle pulls that sequence off is incredible. The humor in it isn't too shabby either. It's typical high school drama at times, but it eventually grows on you much like the rest of the film.

Coming back around to the special effects, they plague the film in the second half. It wouldn't be so bad if there wasn't such a heavy use of them. More often than not, something computer generated looks out of place or is heavily shaded when it shouldn't be. It's almost as if you can get a glimpse of the original CG model that was used in whatever special effects software they used before it was actually rendered or something. Andrew's view of life is awful as everyone he runs into beats the snot out of him. After viewing the film, you can understand why this was done but most individuals aren't that cruel and it seems a bit much. Chronicle does seem to get better as it progresses, but it drops the ball in its final moments. You can see the opening for a sequel coming from a mile away.

Chronicle is much better than the trailers and TV spots let on. The camera work is fairly dynamic for a documentary-style film, the acting is very good for a generally unknown cast, and it's actually a lot smarter than it lets on. With that said though, its $15 million budget becomes very obvious with its heavy use of special effects and the finale of the film practically ruins everything good the movie has going for it. Chronicle is a pretty fun ride in the long run though. While it may not be totally original on the surface, the journey in the middle is fairly unique. Setting its flaws aside, Chronicle is quite possibly one of the most exciting stories of the birth of a super villain to ever hit the big screen.

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Tags: Chronicle, review, movies, action, drama, sci-fi, superhero, found footage
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In Time (2011) review
10/29/11 at 08:20 PM by EvilButters
It seems like Justin Timberlake has gotten a lot of media attention for his acting since The Social Network, doesn't it? His name is pretty much a regular thing in media anyway, but I think The Social Network was around the time people began to take him seriously as an actor and not just that guy who used to be in N*SYNC. In Time looked to have a lot of potential. A futuristic thriller where currency is measured in time with Justin Timberlake getting a stab at the lead. Like most, I was skeptical but the trailers reeled me in. Regrettably, In Time proves that an interesting concept can't always go as far as you'd like it to.

It was really difficult to get a read on this movie while you're sitting there watching it. You can usually get to the point where you're familiar with the projects certain actors choose and whether you're a fan of their work or not. In Time was all over the place. Olivia Wilde was the first sign that this probably wasn't going to go well. As I've mentioned before, Wilde is amazing on "House MD" and is incredibly talented but her range seems so limited in the movies she chooses to be a part of. Alex Pettyfer was another name I wasn't pleased to see. His outing in I Am Number Four wasn't really anything to be proud of. Now that I think about it, I Am Number Four and In Time are pretty similar; glow in the dark arms/hands, an interesting concept leading to a disappointing result, and both films being in the sci-fi genre among other things. On the other hand though, Justin Timberlake is a pretty decent actor. As a big fan of The Social Network, I was eager to see Timberlake stretch his acting legs a bit more. He's easily the most charismatic character of In Time by showing the widest range of emotion. Amanda Seyfried eventually breaks out of her shell, but she spends half the movie being too rich to really have any need for emotion or do anything remotely noteworthy. I was excited to see Cillian Murphy as he's usually very memorable, creepy, and/or absorbing in some way with his performance but he was just as dull and flat as nearly everyone else around him.

Nearly every character of In Time fails to have any sort of personality. There's no character development and calling them one-dimensional is a bit of a stretch since they barely qualify as that. While it does make sense for the rich to be devoid of emotion, you'd think others would be able to show a little more personality. The odd thing is I hear many people calling this movie "futuristic," but nothing is really futuristic about it other than time being the currency and the timekeepers cars being stolen from "Knight Rider". Having a glow in the dark clock on your arm that counts down to your death doesn't count either. Frank from Donnie Darko is insulted. There are a number of plot holes and inconsistencies, as well. The model car being used in the car crash scene along with never really finding out what happened to Will Salas (Timberlake) father despite Raymond Leon (Murphy) referring to him constantly and hinting at revealing something huge about Will's father early on. The main issue is that nothing really sticks out.

The standout scene from the film takes place in a hotel room in the second half of the movie. Will and Sylvia (Seyfried) are hiding out when Fortis (Pettyfer) and his minute men bust in trying to get a piece of the couple's 10 year reward. Fortis and Will "play to zero" and the end result is easily the most entertaining portion of the movie. Youtube that scene in a few months and you'll be golden. It's interesting since In Time reminded me quite a bit of Repo Men. Not so much in tone or in subject matter, but in the way that each film took a concept that was fairly unique and completely blew it.

In Time feels like it was never fully developed. A fascinating idea and a good message lies somewhere buried underneath all of the cliche garbage that seems to plague the movie from beginning to end. There are a handful of plot holes, most on-screen characters are too similar to each other to really have a distinguishable personality, and toys being used in an elaborate sequence early on basically squander whatever interest in the movie you may have once had. The whole experience is left feeling bland and doesn't ever really feel like the exciting portion of it ever really kicks in. In Time is not only a disappointment, but walks the line of embarrassment.


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Tags: In Time, movie review, sci-fi, thriller, crime, Justin Timberlake, Amanda Seyfried
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The Thing (2011) review
10/25/11 at 01:53 PM by EvilButters
John Carpenter's version of The Thing is a horror classic that has not only stood the test of time, but is considered by many to be one of the best horror movies ever. The desire to return to the 1982 film to attempt and capture a similar atmosphere in a modern motion picture is understandable, but the journey is likely to not only tarnish its reputation but weaken the impact it once had. Despite being held in such high regard, it's not like The Thing is a huge money maker. The 1982 film didn't even break $20 million at the domestic box office and didn't really become a success until it was released on VHS. Fast forward nearly thirty years and a new version of The Thing has covertly made its way into theaters or at least that's what it would like to lead you to believe.

The Thing has a pretty decent opening. What's a modern day R-rated horror movie without a really terrible raunchy joke to break the ice (pun intended) minutes before everything hits the fan? The scenery is kind of breathtaking, as well. The roaming shot that opens the film where we see many of the snow caps in "Antarctica" along with most of the scenic shots are fairly beautiful. There's something about vast, snowy landscapes and icy structures that's mesmerizing.

The special effects are probably the main reason to see The Thing. Many horror fans that have seen the prequel are upset that the film relied so much on CG, but I found them rather extraordinary. There's a mix of both practical effects and computer generation for a result that is both gnarly and out of this world. It's not so much that CG is so relevant in films nowadays that turns me off of it it's the amount of cheap-looking CG that constantly gets used. In regards to living up to Carpenter's film, The Thing came closest with how the creature looked. That along with how everything happening seemed to explain events in the 1982 version are a drawing factor. The Thing feels like a remake, but the events that unfold explain what happened leading up to the opening shot in Carpenter's film. The sound effects also at least make the film worth a viewing in the theater. The creature's sounds alone are pretty intense. The score wasn't necessarily memorable, but was just subtle enough and just enough to put you on the edge to add a little bit to the film. Lastly, Mary Elizabeth Winstead is the most decent part of the cast. She's no R.J. MacReady, but she has the most developed personality.

Unfortunately The Thing pretty much has everyTHING working against it despite showing quite a bit of potential. It has the blandest dialogue. Everything is so boring and monotone. All of the characters feel one-dimensional, as well; paper thin. Character development is mostly nonexistent. The jump scares feel cheap and it's so dead set on staying close to Carpenter's vision that it isn't able to establish an identity of its own. The "test" in the prequel is beyond weak and the film?s constant absence of logic becomes groan-worthy.

In the 1982 film, Childs (Keith David) says at one point "If I was an imitation, a perfect imitation, how would you know it was really me?" This version of The Thing aspires to be a perfect imitation of Carpenter's version and it crashes and burns. It barely passes as an imperfect imitation. The way it relies on Carpenter's film as a crutch hurts it more than anything. However the special effects at least make it worth seeing in the theater. Although disappointing, The Thing is somewhat decent, better than what most review sites are giving it credit for, and moderately entertaining.

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Tags: The Thing, movie review, horror, mystery, sci-fi, prequel, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, J
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Blu-ray review: Mimic (1997) (The Director's Cut)
10/04/11 at 03:14 PM by EvilButters
Guillermo del Toro is one of the most original visionaries still directing and creating films today. His films are usually very attractive visually and put a different spin on something you may already be familiar with while also darkening its tone. Even if you don't fully adore whatever del Toro film you just watched, you can probably find something in there to admire and the experience still turns out to be more interesting than the average popular fluff that people go gaga for. del Toro has also produced some amazing projects with The Orphanage gaining quite a bit of praise and being called one of the most original horror films of the past few years and Splice having one of the most surreal audience reactions I've ever witnessed in the theater just to name a few. Guillermo del Toro's projects aren't necessarily films you've never seen before, but are more along the lines of the films you want to see Hollywood producing. His English language debut, the sci-fi thriller Mimic, has just been released as a director's cut on Blu-ray. After realizing how intense the uphill battle was for del Toro just to get this thing made and fighting tooth and nail just to keep what he could from his original draft(s) of the screenplay, it's really quite incredible the movie turned out as good as it did.

The amount of work that went into making something as silly as giant cockroaches become a reality may be the film's biggest achievement. del Toro didn't want a gorefest or give these creatures extra appendages or teeth to make them more menacing. Scientifically speaking, all of the modifications stay within the boundaries of nature. A great deal of research went into creating these monsters and you can tell. The way they mimic humans, where their lungs are placed, and the amount of puppeteering involved are all pulled off in a way where it's obvious a lot of time went into planning how they'd be executed. It's a welcome change of pace worth noting since most horror films along the same lines as this are all about the quick scare and creating a monster that is visually menacing rather than staying within the limitations of reality. del Toro makes it clear in the commentary that Mimic is more about suspense than aiming to be scary. The fact that the film is a slow burn allows you to digest everything a bit more than a film that would throw everything at you all at once.

The special effects look very dated, but only when it comes to digital stuff. Thankfully, it's kept to a minimum because of the budget but all of the practical stuff is fantastic. Seeing their mouths move just like a cockroach's is such a simple idea, but seeing it executed in a creature as big as we are is something extraordinary. The concept of them using their front appendages to form a human face is really creative and exceptional, as well. The method in which this team has pulled off adding human traits to a cockroach without it feeling too far-fetched is spectacular in itself.

Unfortunately I never saw the theatrical cut of the film so I can't really compare the differences, but del Toro's explanations of it don't really make you want to actively hunt it down and see it since this is obviously the cut of the film he wants people to see. The last thing that should be touched upon is the lighting (or lack thereof) used in the film. Most of the camera work in the film seems very straightforward, but having a dolly sliding to the right while another slides to the left makes something as simple as the camera circling around two characters seem a bit more extravagant. An emphatic use of shadows, textures, and amber and blue lighting is used throughout the film to give it a look that many other genre films don't have. Everything just feels very unique and like something you'd only find in a film by del Toro.

Mimic isn't del Toro's greatest achievement, but all of the elements you love about the Mexican director are all there. The attention to detail is astounding as del Toro's scientific approach and staying true to nature made giant cockroaches as realistic as possible. Mimic is also visually remarkable in the way it not only uses shadows, but a minimal use of lighting and heavy textures as well. The only real complaints lie within the dated CG and the fairly atrocious ending. Its obvious flaws and production troubles aside, Mimic is more intelligent than you're probably expecting and a very solid experience overall.

The special features are pretty cool. Video Prologue with Director Guillermo del Toro is only about a minute long but del Toro talks about how this is as close to a director's cut as we'll ever get, being happy with this cut, what the movie could have been, and so on. The Audio Commentary with Director/Cowriter Guillermo del Toro is the Blu-ray's crowning achievement. del Toro is so open about everything that happened behind the scenes, but doesn't seem bitter about any of it. He's very straightforward and isn't afraid to use harsh language, but the entire commentary just makes you admire the film and the rest of del Toro's work just a little bit more. He seems so easy to get along with and relate to. During the commentary, many topics are covered including the opening credits being similar to Se7en, Mimic teaching del Toro more than some of his other films have, the cockroaches originally being bark beetles/scarabs, the never-ending studio battles, original ending idea involving the male cockroach in the subway, the film originally being planned to have no explosions, and he even talks about the direct to video sequels among many other things (he actually recommends seeing Mimic 3). del Toro refers to Mimic as his "imperfect child." One of my favorite lines from the commentary is when del Toro is talking about Sarah having her Ripley moment as she yells at the male cockroach to get away from Chuy. del Toro says, "You cringe every time, I cringe every time, let's cringe together." The commentary track just helps you admire the film a little bit more and that's coming from a guy who isn't a big fan of commentary.

The rest of the special features are fairly short and sweet. Reclaiming Mimic is about fourteen minutes long. del Toro discusses how important suspense is for a film like Mimic, a B-movie concept needing to be executed as an A-movie, the different subway ending, and this director's cut being free of "second unit crap." A Leap in Evolution runs around nine and a half minutes and mostly goes into detail about staying true to nature and puppeteering. Back into the Tunnels is a five minute behind the scenes featurette, there are three Deleted Scenes that total around five minutes in length and include an alternate ending, Storyboard Animatics cover six scenes in the film, and a two minute Gag Reel rounds up the special features rather nicely. The second disc of the two-disc set is just a digital copy of the film presented in widescreen in 1080p High Definition and English 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio.

Mimic (The Director's Cut) is unrated, but was previously released in a version Rated R for Terror/Violence and Language. This unrated version contains material different from the original R-rated version. It's presented in 16x9 widescreen with a 1.85:1 ratio while also being presented in 1080p High Definition, has an English 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track, and has English and Spanish subtitles available. The film is approximately 112 minutes long. Mimic (The Director's Cut) is available in retail stores and most online retailers now (it's currently still $9.99 on Amazon).

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Tags: Mimic, movie review, Blu-ray review, Guillermo del Toro, sci-fi, horror, thriller
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Another Earth (2011) review
08/12/11 at 11:35 AM by EvilButters
I think just about everyone looks up at the sky every so often and wonders what else is out there. Outer space is filled with so many unexplored territories that logically speaking there has to be intelligent life out there somewhere. Otherwise it'd just be a waste of space. Undiscovered planets and unimaginable life forms are only the half of it. What if there's another planet somewhere in the cosmos similar to earth? Raising the stakes a bit, what if you and everyone you knew was also on that planet in addition to earth like an alternate universe that was right within our grasps? That is essentially what makes Another Earth so interesting.

Earth 2; that's what the planet is being called that is right within our atmosphere. They're saying another you is on that planet that may have made all the decisions you wish you had or married the person you always wish you did. Sometimes the concept of a film is really powerful. It's so powerful and so intriguing that it kind of backs itself into a corner since there's really no way the film will ever be able to follow through with a product that's quite as good as its concept. Another Earth is kind of like that. The film does its best to intertwine the stories of Earth 2 and the blossoming relationship between Rhoda Williams (Brit Marling) and John Burroughs (William Mapother) and it all comes together in a really satisfying way. But you're also left wondering what the planet would be like if we actually got to take the trip there in the film. Is animal life the same? Do they have similar technology? Are famous monuments altered at all? The questions are endless and while its best to leave these questions open ended, part of you is left wondering if some of these questions could've been answered with a larger budget.

The soundtrack was nearly as brilliant as the concept of the film. It's a rather brilliant mix of classical and electronic music with more of an emphasis falling on the classical part since John Burroughs is a composer. Classical scores always seem to bring out the best in films and the few electronic tracks threw in a little bit of unpredictability that also strangely fit the tone and atmosphere of the film.

The biggest weakness Another Earth has is its camera work. It feels downright amateurish at times. Things seem to smooth out a bit in the second half, but objects and people on screen start off being blurry or out of focus right from the start. So while there were a few interesting perspectives thrown in, it didn't really make up for the camera being out of position at times and wondering if the awkward camera work was intentional at others.

Another Earth latches onto your interest right out of the gate with a rather high impact introduction and keeps that engrossing factor alive throughout its duration. The bonding that takes place between Rhoda and John takes the front seat while the hype around Earth 2 is kind of the side seat driver; you're always hearing about it but it never really becomes a factor until the conclusion. Another Earth also delivers a really satisfying ending. Thinking back on it, there really isn't another way to end a film like this. If it wasn't for the camera work that feels somewhat unprofessional at times, Another Earth would be really fantastic. An absorbing and engaging film with a unique storyline, Another Earth is one of the most thought provoking films of the year.


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Tags: Another Earth, movie review, sci-fi, drama, Brit Marling, William Mapother, Mike Cahi
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Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011) review
08/06/11 at 10:54 AM by EvilButters
Planet of the Apes is one of those franchises I never really saw the appeal in. The original one is the only one that seems to get continuous praise from people, but it along with its four sequels have been labeled as dated more than anything else. Then there was the Tim Burton remake from 2001 that nearly everyone says is terrible. It's usually referred to as "the one with Marky Mark" and I overheard a conversation a row ahead of me earlier tonight where somebody said, "I couldn't even finish it." So I was essentially entering Rise of the Planet of the Apes with a fresh mind; seeing it as a standalone film rather than a reboot of a franchise. To be honest though, Rise of the Planet of the Apes is excellent no matter how you look at it.

The compelling story is what really makes the movie. It makes you feel sympathy for these apes in ways you probably can't even fathom when you're first sitting down to see it. The relationship between Caesar (Andy Serkis) and Will Rodman (James Franco) is the heart and soul of the movie. Caesar's facial expressions and actions just immediately make your chest tighten and heart beat in ways to let you know you're seeing something special. If Andy Serkis is involved in any way when it comes to motion capture technology being used in an upcoming movie expect magic because that's what you're going to receive. You feel more for Caesar than anyone else in the movie and you should. It is a movie about apes taking over the world after all.

Rise of the Planet of the Apes is a smart movie; plain and simple. There's a lot of scientific jargon thrown in there and whether it's all legitimate or not it all comes together in a way that makes sense. It's story structure is brilliant, as well. It starts off a little slow and shows how Caesar becomes a part of Will's life while also showing the struggle Will's father Charles (John Lithgow) is going through with a case of Alzheimer's that's quickly making his health deteriorate. Will works for the Gen-Sys lab, which develops antidotes that they test on primates with hopes of it curing human disease. ALZ 112 is what they hope will cure Alzheimer's, but it backfires. It has an alternative effect on humans than it does on apes; humans tend to get sick and die while it makes apes more intelligent. As the years pass, Caesar and Will become close but they're separated after Will is forced to put Caesar in a primate reserve. As Will focuses on trying to save his father's life and bring Caesar back home, Caesar begins planning a revolution and starts to relate to his brethren.

There are a few references to the original Planet of the Apes films. Since I haven't seen them, I was really only able to catch a few of them. The cool thing about them though is that they can be looked at as planted seeds for potential sequels or just as a throwback to where the movie originated from. That's something special in itself; a movie able to accomplish something open-ended.

The cast is pretty fantastic, as well. James Franco has always been an actor with the potential to deliver a great performance and he does so here. John Lithgow was a pleasant surprise as I wasn't aware he was a part of the cast until I saw him on-screen. The way he handles Alzheimer's is really incredible. Andy Serkis, as already mentioned, is the guy that makes the whole thing come together; Caesar is just amazing. Brian Cox makes a brief appearance as a rather low-life individual and Tom Felton plays his son who's a lot like Draco Malfoy in personality. Tyler Labine takes a break from comedy to show he's not too bad at drama while David Oyelowo shows how you can be despicable while just trying to do what's best for the company you work for. The strong cast is just as impressive as the fascinating storyline.

This is the first Planet of the Apes movie to use CGI effects rather than actors in prosthetic makeup. You may be asking yourself how that's going to look. Don't put much thought into it; it looks outstanding. Weta Digital really outdid themselves with this movie. Everything blends together so well that the apes look genuinely realistic the entire time. Their emotions are portrayed to perfection, which is probably the most important aspect of this movie. I'm a pretty big stickler when it comes to the more exciting sequences in modern films being littered with noticeable CGI creatures in front of a green screen. That sort of thing is so minimal that I honestly can't remember having that feeling during Rise of the Planet of the Apes. So not only do you get great action, you get seamless special effects as well.

Rise of the Planet of the Apes is ridiculously good on all fronts. It features an excellent cast, an absorbing storyline, explosive action, and marvelous special effects. This is easily one of the best films of the year. Rise of the Planet of the Apes is emotional, exciting, and mesmerizing; it's everything a summer movie should be and monkey mayhem at its finest.

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Tags: Rise of the Planet of the Apes, action, drama, sci-fi, James Franco, Andy Serkis
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Cowboys & Aliens (2011) review
07/29/11 at 08:31 AM by EvilButters
This does contain some minor spoilers

Cowboys & Aliens was an awkward movie in terms of anticipation towards its release. Expecting more than what was already given to you in the title would be silly on your part and the premise already seemed really simple yet kind of brilliant since you probably can't name another time aliens were brought in to the western genre. Anticipation on my end fluctuated; I thought it looked so-so for the longest time, then at one time I was REALLY excited for it, and then my excitement for it had all but died by the time the screening finally came around thanks to less than stellar reviews and word spreading around the internet that the potential summer blockbuster was rather mediocre at best. Cowboys & Aliens is kind of funky in what it actually offers its audience because there seems to be just as many bad or floundering things about the film that there are good.

The opening scene let's you know what you're in for as Jake Lonergan (Daniel Craig) wakes up in the middle of a desert with no memory, a strange wound to his abdomen, and a mysterious bracelet strapped to his left arm that seems to be permanently attached to him for good. Three men stumble onto Jake who think he's just escaped prison and attempt to take him in under the assumption there's a bounty on his head. Jake defeats all three men in spectacular fashion before stealing their clothes and a gun. Jake is essentially an insatiable bad ass. Even as we learn more about his character as the movie progresses, there's never really an explanation why Jake can somehow take out half a dozen men or more consistently throughout the movie. That's pretty much all you get out of Jake, too. If you were expecting any actual personality or emotion from the guy, then you're looking in the wrong place.

In fact, all of the leads in this sci-fi action extravaganza are really boring. Harrison Ford basically comes off as portraying himself and is nothing more than a bitter old man who's pessimistic about everything. Then there's Olivia Wilde, who's shown how wide her acting range truly is on "House, MD", but has been nothing but dull in her blockbuster roles. Her character, Ella Swenson, has some interesting aspects but they're kind of all over the place and never effectively come together in the proper fashion to be considered a well developed character. She also tends to have the same stupid look on her face the entire movie without much portrayal of emotion. The most interesting roles lie within the supporting characters. Hands down the best character in the movie is Clancy Brown's Meacham; a quick-witted preacher who knows how to use a gun, has memorable dialogue, and makes himself useful more than anything. Paul Dano is also incredibly entertaining. He plays Percy Dolarhyde, the son of Harrison Ford's Woodrow Dolarhyde. Dano is easily the most despicable character of the line up and his portrayal of the character is just so spot on. It was interesting to see Sam Rockwell play Doc, who is an all around good hearted individual. Rockwell makes the most of his part, but you're used to seeing him play the villain or the vilest character on-screen. This was a welcome change of pace.

Cowboys & Aliens is really sporadic when it comes to the storyline, as well. Once we get a glimpse of the aliens, we eventually learn that they've come to earth to steal our gold. Besides melting it and having it float up to a puddle on the ceiling there doesn't really seem to be much else they had planned for it. It's as if they said to one another, "Our spaceship is seriously lacking in solid gold puddles peculiarly placed on our ceilings. Let's find the nearest planet and rectify this dire situation." As you've seen in the trailers, the dummy ships are sent out, capture humans by basically lassoing them with alien technology, and bring them back to the mother ship. It looks pretty cool the first few times, but you get kind of sick of it once you get past the first hour. So what are the aliens having the humans do? Enslaving mankind for some strange alien purpose perhaps? Only if you count having them stand around, stare at a light in the ceiling, and erasing their memory a strange alien purpose. These aliens just have a fascination with things located on the roof. The aliens would look pretty awesome if it wasn't for their eyes. They have these beady, bullfrog-like eyes that completely ruins whatever awesomeness they once had in their appearance. Their chests would also open up where you would see their beating heart along with a pair of three fingered hands that would attempt to shove a victim inside of them. It comes off as being more humorous than anything. It actually just reminded me of Kuato from Total Recall. "Quaid....start the reactor."

The ridiculousness doesn't end there though. When the aliens first come and Woodrow informs Jake that he's coming with them in search of these aliens that just took their people, he hits Jake in the stomach with the butt of his gun and Jake immediately turns around and punches Woodrow in the face. They stare at each other almost longingly for what seems like an eternity before Jake finally walks away without them saying another word. I guess that's how you have to make friends out in the old west. Once they find the mother ship and they're planning their strategy on how they're going to try and get into the alien craft Jake just leaves. He doesn't say anything to anyone and everyone is just kind of like, "Oh, Jake is leaving." The very next scene Jake finds reinforcements, mentions how hard it was to find them even though it seemed like he just walked around a corner, and brings them back to help on the mission. Miracles seem a lot more outlandish in westerns these days.

Cowboys & Aliens is not terrible. It's actually fairly amusing and crazy entertaining when it needs to be. Unfortunately bringing aliens into a western atmosphere is a really awkward transition that isn't pulled off smoothly. The entire movie as a whole comes off as bizarre and fantastically farfetched the majority of the time. With its weaknesses taking center stage, it's difficult to consider Cowboys & Aliens as anything more than crazy, stupid fun.

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Tags: Cowboys & Aliens, movie review, sci-fi, action, thriller, Daniel Craig, Harrison Ford
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Captain America: The First Avenger (2011) review
07/23/11 at 06:10 PM by EvilButters
I've never been the biggest Captain America fan. Even when I was into comics he always just seemed kind of boring to me. I have friends these days trying to tell me he's even more awesome now, but it just seems like too little too late. My comic book reading days are over, for the most part. But despite that Captain America: The First Avenger looked like it had a lot of potential. Chris Evans seemed to fit the Steve Rogers role incredibly well and Hugo Weaving always plays an excellent villain. I've also enjoyed nearly every Marvel film since Iron Man anyway. So Captain America: The First Avenger looked like it could be great, but also had a lot to live up to. It mostly delivers, but comes up a little short in being fully and completely satisfying.

Just about all of Captain America is spent in 1942 during World War II. We follow Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) as he persistently tries to join the army and fails repeatedly due to his small size and asthma. A scientist named Dr. Abraham Erskine (Stanley Tucci) sees potential in Rogers and recruits him to Camp Lehigh in New York. Erskine sees something in Rogers; his integrity, his honor, his natural desire to be nothing more than a good man. It's here that Rogers is chosen for the "super soldier" experiment and eventually becomes Captain America. Meanwhile, Johann Schmidt (Hugo Weaving) leads HYDRA, a private terrorist group, and has just come into possession of a mysterious tesseract that Schmidt claims gives him the power of the gods.

The cast is ridiculously flawless in this. I've always been a big fan of Chris Evans, but I never really imagined him in the role of Captain America. He fits the role so well. He does look a bit odd before he gets the super soldier serum injected into him, but the method used was probably the best way to go. Evans is able to portray Rogers in a spectacular light. You believe heís a good guy just doing what he thinks is best for his country. Hugo Weaving is also a fantastic Red Skull. He's so hellbent on destroying the world yet he has class taking time out to have someone paint his portrait or enjoy a glass of wine in the middle of a pep talk to his HYDRA troops. Tommy Lee Jones also manages to squeeze in quite a few humorous one-liners. I feel like Hayley Atwell deserves the most credit though. In most superhero films, the love interest usually just does that; makes love to the superhero and sits on the sidelines worrying about him the rest of the time. Atwell's Peggy Carter actually makes herself useful. If it wasn't for her, Captain America never would've been given a serious chance as a soldier. Atwell also showed the widest range of emotion in the film next to Evans, as well.

Captain America felt simple in the most flattering of ways. It never strayed too far from Cap swooping in and having to save the day and never tried to over complicate things by cramming too much of the comics into an origin film. The action usually resulted in tremendous explosions and men being thrown across the screen. It's like the movie gave you pride to be an American without being too political or overly preachy. In fact, it wasn't either of those things at all. It was just extremely gratifying entertainment that did its source material justice.

The special effects were really top notch, for the most part. The finale with the highly anticipated battle between Red Skull and Captain America is probably the most impressive. Thereís a fight that takes place in freefall between Cap and a few henchmen thatís done incredibly well and the special effects always shine brightest whenever that blue cube Red Skull is obsessed with is shown on screen. Some of the scenes that were obviously shot in front of a green screen kind of got to me though; once you notice that it kind of takes you out of the action for a moment. Luckily, this was a film that made it easy to get sucked back into it.

Captain America has a lot of buildup with the pay off coming up short of completely delivering. We spend all this time with Steve Rogers before the super soldier serum and after and his time on stage selling war bonds. We're basically itching and craving for him to beat the snot out of some Nazis by the time he goes off venturing on his own to where the 107th's last known whereabouts. That scene delivers the action in spades, but everything else thatís exciting after that seems incredibly short. We get a montage that would've been amazing in its entirety and we basically get bits of incredible action sequences sprinkled throughout the second half of the movie. We never really get that tingling sensation from being punched in the face too hard during an incredible action scene. Fantastic things happen in the film, but they seem to end as soon as they begin.

Captain America: The First Avenger is one of the best written and most well-rounded superhero films of the year. The entire cast is phenomenal, the special effects are impressive, and it has all the right seeds planted for next year's The Avengers. The action almost feels like an afterthought though. It's as if there was too much story to tell and Joe Johnston had to cut down on action to cram in more dialogue. Captain America: The First Avenger is still explosive, exhilarating, captivating, and fairly entertaining, but it drops the ball on delivering a completely satisfying climax.

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Tags: Captain America, movie review, action, adventure, sci-fi, based on comic
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