Thursday, August 28, 2014

Andrew's Cinematic Adventures: What If Movie Review

My most recent movie experience wasn't necessarily my greatest experience of all time. While the company I was with was fantastic, the movie I saw left a little (well...a LOT) to be desired.

I initially went into seeing "What If" with an open mind. I had not seen Daniel Radcliffe in anything other than Harry Potter. But I had seen Zoe Kazan in "Ruby Sparks" and I have always been in love with her.

Seriously. She has replaced both Ellen Page and Zooey Deschanel as my shameless celebrity crush. Zoe Kazan is gorgeous, beautiful, cute, adorable, and any other adjective you could use to describe the attributes of a woman. SHE IS ALL OF THEM DANGET. THE WOMAN IS GLORIOUS (she's the one with the blonde hair in the movie poster on the left, if you were wondering).

Back to the movie. If you haven't heard of "What If", it's essentially the story of a guy named Wallace (played by Harry Potter) who meets a girl named Chantry (I spent the majority of the movie thinking her name was there's that) at his friend's party. They have an instant connection, but she has a boyfriend. Wallace then spends the entirety of the movie being her best friend/puppy dog guy who follows her around hoping he can lift her back up once her boyfriend turns out to be the doosch bag he's inevitably going to become. This movie is basically about the horrors of the friend zone.

By the way, I don't actually think the friend zone is a thing. My opinion is that the friend zone is something created by non-confident guys to make girls who don't want to date them feel bad about not wanting to date them.'s ok to just be friends with girls. ITS OK.

So Harry is essentially wanting to date Zoe throughout the movie. There's a lot of sexual tension. A lot of Harry just being Harry and giving her that look that says he wants to invade her "dormitory." But because there's a Keeper (boyfriend), he cannot access her Golden Snitch. (I'm sorry...there's just so many Harry Potter references to be made). I think I can find a picture of that weird/creepy wizard look he gives Zoe throughout the movie. it is:

The movie was ok. I'm not entirely sure it knew what it wanted to be. It was half romantic comedy/ half raunchy comedy. Zoe Kazan was was Harry's (I know his name isn't Harry) best friend (played by Adam Driver). I really just struggled seeing anyone other than Harry Potter for the entirety of the film. I'm not sure Daniel Radcliffe will ever be to be anything other than Harry Potter. There was a part in the movie where "Wallace" says he wishes he could just disappear and I yelled out, "But you can Harry! Use your CLOAK OF INVISIBILITY! Or apparate..."

Radcliffe just wasn't made for romantic comedies. He's awkward in a way that just didn't work for this movie. And there was very little chemistry between he and Zoe. I felt more chemistry between Harry and Ginny in Harry Potter (there wasn't much, but more than between he and Zoe). Plus there was a lot of awkward forced dialogue and conversations about things I don't believe any sane person would have a conversation about (like Elvis' bowel movements and whether he had one the night he was found dead in his bathroom...yeah).

I was honestly just waiting for Harry to go back in his cupboard under the stairs and tell Hedwig it was all a dream about how he realized he wouldn't necessarily make it in the world of Muggles. And then Zoe Kazan would be free for me to come sweep her and her beautiful self off her feet. She'd forget all about the "Chosen Boy" Harry Potter that she didn't want to date for half the movie anyway...

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Andrew's Cinematic Adventures: 'The American' Movie Review

I'm back. And I'm not going anywhere. To prepare you all for the incoming FLOOD OF JAMES BOND MOVIE REVIEWS, I'll start with something a little different but slightly similar. A movie review on a fine film with George Clooney called "The American." Watch it.

I am not entirely sure what pushed me to watch this movie. It had been sitting on my Netflix queue for awhile now, and I think I accidentally pushed play or something...but was too lazy to find anything else. Regardless, I was pleasantly surprised with this film.

The movie essentially follows George Clooney's character Jack/Edward...or something. He's called a lot of things. Jack is an assassin who had been hiding out in Sweden, where he was tracked down and forced to relocate for one last job in Italy. It's a remarkable film that really grasps the feel of what village life would be like in Italy. That's what kept me most interested in the film. I love it when a film can grasp a certain aspect of a culture, or lifestyle (especially one I'm not used to) and really push it through the screen, helping the viewer feel like they are actually there. 'The Amercian' does this flawlessly.

Also, if you've ever wondered what it would be like to be an assassin on the run, while simultaneously not being able to have any close friends or family, and at the same time second guessing your career choices....well I guess you could say George Clooney really shows what THAT would be like. If you were wondering.

This is not an action flick. You can't go into it expecting Jason Bourne or Jack Bauer. This is entirely a character-study of a fed-up assassin who can't trust anybody, including the person he relies on the most (his boss). It's a slow movie, with very little dialogue (a lot of the dialogue is actually in Italian, with subtitles). Still, the way it is filmed is fascinating and George Clooney nails the role of the bitter assassin better than most could. I don't think this movie would've worked with anyone else in the lead role.

It's also definitely a change of pace for George Clooney. From what I've seen of him, he's mostly in light-hearted roles, banking on his charm and general gorgeousness to sell a character. In The American, he plays a much darker, less smiley version of himself. But for some reason, the Italian ladies still love him. He has a love interest throughout the movie (a prostitute), who quickly falls for his mysteriousness and overall lack of cheer. Not gonna lie, I somehow found myself falling for it also....Clooney really is a silver fox.

But like I said, it's a very different George Clooney. I watched it expecting this Clooney:

And was greeted with a lot of this Clooney:

Really. I don't think he smiled once during this movie.

Overall, I enjoyed the movie. I honestly could see myself adding it to my movie collection. I wouldn't recommend it if you're looking for an action movie. It's not one. Lots of guns in the movie...but the guns aren't used very often. Buttttt....if you're looking for a thought-provoking character study...or just want to look at George Clooney a "The American." It's a fascinating film and accomplishes exactly what the movie set out to accomplish...which doesn't happen very often.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Andrew's Cinematic Adventures: My First James Bond Movie Experience

I have always been aware that James Bond was a thing, but I had never actually watched a James Bond movie. So for my next reviews, I have decided to watch all of the Bond movies (yes, ALL of the Bond movies) and review them in the eyes of a newcomer to the Bond movie franchise. The closest I've ever come to a Bond movie is the Goldeneye game for Nintendo 64. While a fascinating and, at times, frustrating game, I don't believe that game could properly prepare me for this movie experience. So here we go.

My first Bond movie was the most recent one that game out: Skyfall. I know, technically I should've started in the 60s with Dr. No or something, but I didn't have that movie readily available. So I started with Skyfall...mainly because it is available on Netflix and is a nice, quick watch. I would say it gave me a good start and feel of what to expect in the coming days of all things James Bond.

This was a Daniel Craig movie and before I even get started, let me just say that I am not a big fan of Daniel Craig. I find him him to be fairly unlikeable, not convincing as a ladies man, and overall just an unpleasant human being. So, clearly, watching him as James Bond wasn't a good start to my James Bond movie-going experience. I basically wanted to punch him in his smug face throughout the entirety of this movie (which is ridiculous because he has the capability of killing me one slap to the face). . The first time I ever saw him in a movie was in Road to Perdition (in which he played quite the creeper) and then of course the Internet has provided me with a 90s version of Mr. Craig. Try getting the following picture out of your brain:

I know what you're thinking. And yes, that is his real hair. Kinda makes him a little less masculine doesn't it? Glad I could help.

Back to the movie. I DID enjoy the movie. But NOT because of Mr. Craig. The main premise was that a list of the top MI6 agents had gotten into the wrong hands threatening to expose their identities and something about Bond pretending to die and coming back later all pissed off and mad at M (Judi Dench) for accidentally shooting him. Just watch the movie. It makes sense if you watch it, plus I don't want to give anything away.

Here are the things I liked about the movie:
1. Judi Dench- Not much to say here. She is gorgeous for being upwards of 70 years old, her voice is angelic, and she's just adorable. Look at her.


Honestly, I would have been much more interested watching her fight on top of trains and perform epic action sequences than watching Daniel Craig be all masculine. Maybe that's just me. Let's make it happen. A Judi Dench action movie. I'd watch the hell out of that movie.

2. Javier Bardem- If there was a list of actors who were born to play villians, Javier Bardem should be at the top of that list along with guys like Kevin Spacey, Ralph Fiennes, Anthony Hopkins, Christoph Waltz, and Jack Nicholson. The guy just makes my skin crawl. I first saw him play the lead villain in No Country for Old Men, where he was just pure evil. He was even better in this film as the pissed off former agent. When he's on screen, you can't help but cringe. Let's get him in more movies ASAP.

3. The Bond/Q dynamic- It reminded me a lot of Sherlock and Watson. They had a great banter going back and forth between the two of them. It was a tough guy vs. the smart guy sorta banter. Let's keep that up in future Bond movies. And whoever played Q...loved him.

What didn't I like? Honestly, just Daniel Craig. Everything else seemed to work well in the movie. I especially loved the Bond theme subtly playing in the background every now and then. My biggest disappointment was that I never once heard Bond say, "I'm Bond. James Bond." Really? Not, even once?

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Andrew's Cinematic Adventures: Kill Bill Vol. 1 Movie Review with Bonus Thoughts on Tarantino

After watching Django Unchained a year or so ago, I made a personal goal to check out everything Quentin Tarantino had to offer. His style stood out so uniquely to me and I was, honestly, incredibly intrigued. Yes, it's weird. Yes, he's creepy. Oh and yeah...he's bloody as hell. But still...intriguing.

As of this post, I have officially and finally watched a good chunk of Tarantino films and can say I truly enjoy his style. I've enjoyed every single one of his movies. Kill Bill (volume 1) was my latest endeavor. was...interesting.

This movie (I'm sure most of you have already seen it) follows the exploits of THE BRIDE (a brilliant character played by Uma Thurman) who recently survived a blood massacre at her own wedding by a guy named Bill (hey...that's the guy in title of the movie...) and his henchmen. The whole film is essentially about her finding everyone who was involved and murdering them in increasingly creative ways. Yes...creative.

I'm not going to lie. I enjoyed it. But after awhile, I found myself struggling to make it through. I wouldn't say this is Tarantino's finest work (obviously), but it was fairly enjoyable for what it was. The style is very...well...Asian and the soundtrack (as it always is) was well used. The best parts of Kill Bill are the fight scenes, with my favorite being the very first scene of the movie between The Bride and Vernita Green. What a great way to start a film...and a good idea as I'm sure it grabs most people as soon as they sit down. I've noticed that a lot of Tarantino's movies start off slow and build up. Not Kill Bill. It starts bloody, loud, and fast. Definitely a different mood for Tarantino.

If you're thinking of watching Kill Bill, let me warn you. It's very, very, very bloody. Wait...hold up. It's not very, very, very bloody. It's VERY, VERY, VERY, VERY bloody (I had to add one more very). That should be a given though. It's about an assassin murdering other assassins. Also, it's a Quentin Tarantino movie. So if you're going in expecting a movie that makes you think about the meaning of life....well go watch the Lion King or something. This is not that movie. It's exactly what it's supposed to be: violent, colorful, weird, and strangely endearing. Just like all of Tarantino's works. If I were to rate it on a scale of 1 to 10...I'd probably have to give it....hmmmm....perhaps a 6. It's above average movie quality. The cinematography is abnormal...which makes it stand-out. The dialogue always...very smart. It's a 6. But not the greatest film I've ever seen.

And on that note, I'd like to actually rate the rest of Tarantino's films (at least the ones I've watched). Because my opinion matters. We all know that.

1. Pulp Fiction- Could it really be anything else? This is STILL considered a masterpiece of storytelling and dialogue. It really put Tarantino on the map as a force to be reckoned with. Whether it be Samuel L Jackson's one-liners (" a tasty burger!) or John Travolta's's not a film that is easily forgotten after you watch it. I am comfortable suggesting that everyone should watch Pulp Fiction at least once in their life. It's weird, wacky, the storyline is out of sync, but it's one-of-a-kind and Tarantino's finest work to date.

2. Reservoir Dogs- I'm not gonna lie. I may have been more entertained by this movie than by any other movie I've ever watched. I loved the whole concept of a caper gone wrong and a bunch of "wise-guys" turning on each other. It was highly entertaining. Plus, you can't go wrong with a character named Mr. Pink played by the always lovable Steve Buscemi. Watch it. Have I mentioned it's bloody?

3. Django Unchained- I absolutely adored this movie. The concept was intriguing, with Jamie Foxx playing a slave trying to save his wife who's still in captivity. And who does he team up with? None other than Tarantino's favorite Christoph Waltz, playing a very lovable dentist character who drives an adorable tooth-carriage thing. This movie has to be top 3 in Tarantino movies. It got me to watch every other movie he has created. the way....this movie also has a bit of blood in it. Should I really have to say that every time?

4. Inglourious Basterds- Christoph Waltz plays a Nazi. Brad Pitt is in the movie. It's a bloody story of Nazis getting what they deserve. Plus, it's exactly what it's supposed to be. The movie is haunting....but in a really funny way. It's incredibly hard to describe without spoiling anything.

If anything, Tarantino has the entertainment factor down. He definitely knows how to give the people what they want. And a lot of it.  Basterds is nothing different.

5. Kill Bill, 1 and 2- Bloody, unforgiving, I've already talked about it plenty. Not incredible, but definitely Tarantino.

6. Jackie Brown- Just because this movie comes in last on the list doesn't mean it's a bad movie by any means. It's signature Tarantino, but the movie I enjoyed the least. BUT I STILL ENJOYED IT.

I found it a lot easier to follow than say...Pulp Fiction. The story revolves around a flight attendant who's been framed by the always glorious Samuel L. Jackson (with long hair this time). Instead of going down quietly, she sets a scheme up to frame Jackson and also trick the cops who are following her. Not as bloody as most Tarantino films, but definitely a lot smarter. Pam Grier was phenomenal and alarmingly frightening in this movie. Check it out.

In the end, Tarantino definitely has a style that no one else can really duplicate. It is his and his alone. Also, he's certainly not for everybody. Not for the squeamish. Not for the easily offended. Make no mistake about it...every film will entertain you. But he is also creepy and I'm not sure what goes on in his head....I mean...look at the guy...makes sense right? --->

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Andrew's Cinematic Adventures: Into the Storm Movie Review

If you've kept up with my blog, you'd probably already know that I was at one point extremely afraid of the wind. I also love movies. I've grown up a little, but I still get a little goosebumpy when the wind gets...well...windy. Regardless, when Into the Storm was announced, I knew I had to see it. A MOVIE....ABOUT CRAZY WIND?!?! Part of me likes to receive the adrenaline rush you get when seeing a movie that utterly terrifies you. Let's it put this way...I own a lot of alien movies (creepy as hell) and I also own the movie Twister.


Into the Storm is essentially your normal disaster movie. It was basically Twister on steroids. By that, I mean the disaster is what makes the movie. Movie goers will care more about the disaster on the screen and the characters are really as lifeless and boring as you can possibly imagine. This movie is full of boring story-lines, wooden acting, and lame dialogue. BUT I LOVED IT. And not in a "holy hell this movie is incredible/Oscar worthy/the the best thing I've ever seen." It was more of a "my goodness this is so stupid it's hilarious" kinda enjoyment.

The story is filmed in a "found-footage" format much like Cloverfield, Chronicle, and The Blair Witch Project. At times, this format made me dizzy, but it also helped me feel like I was actually there. But mostly...I was dizzy. Taking place in the small town of Silverton, Oklahoma, the movie follows a number of flawed characters like an awkward boy who is in love with an out-of-reach hot chick, a dad who sucks at bonding with his kids, a single mom who cares more about storm chasing than her actual daughter (played annoyingly by Sarah Wayne Callies (Lori in The Walking Dead), a couple of redneck thrill seekers (easily the best parts of the movie), and a ridiculously storm-obsessed storm chaser dude who puts everyone's lives at risk just so he can get "that shot." Every single character has some sort of problem they are dealing with, which are ultimately resolved at the end of the crazy tornadoes they endure. 

And oh boy are there tornadoes! Tornadoes everywhere! I think one of them was the size of the Superdome (they call it an F5 I learned...because of the updrafts...or something...). 

In reality, the only story-line that I cared about was the storm-obsessed dude. His name was Pete and he was played fabulously boringly by Matt Walsh (known mostly for character acting in comedies). He and his crew drove a gigantic tank-like machine that was supposed to be tornado-proof. It was pretty cool-looking and the brunt of many jokes during the movie. My friend and I settled on dubbing it was a mix of the Batmobile, the shaggin-wagon from Dumb and Dumber, Auntie Em's house in the Wizard of Oz, and most importantly the Tardis from Doctor Who (due to it ACTUALLY being named Titus in the movie). 

The worst part of the movie was definitely the character played by Richard Armitage (Thorin Oakenshield in The Hobbit) He had the dramatic and daunting task of portraying a vice-principal dad who has a hard time bonding with his two boys. I don't think his tone changed throughout the entire movie. His dialogue was horrid and the monotone was almost laughable. The following video is a good example of what it was like listening to his portions of the movie:

The movie wasn't all bad though. I was pretty impressed with the special effects. The tornadoes were SUPER RAD, especially the fire tornado. I also enjoyed the sharks flying out of the tornado (spoiler alert: there are no sharks in this movie). There were also definitely some scary visuals and moments. But for a movie that's supposed to make me terrified for the was pretty laughable and very poorly done. I shouldn't have been laughing as much as I was during the movie. 

The characters were so bad that my friend and I were trying to figure out what their names were about halfway through the film. We had to refer to them by other names we know them Lori from the Walking Dead, or that funny guy from Community...or Peter Pan. There was even a point where I was referring to the black guy as....well...the black guy (i.e. "Wait...where did the black guy go? Did he die?")

Overall, it was an enjoyable movie-going experience. I laughed, I didn't cry, I was slightly scared, and I will forget the movie tomorrow. Out of 10 stars, I would give it 4..  but I only give it 4 stars because of the entertaining rednecks and the Tardis. 

Just go see it. Please? Have a good laugh.