The Grinch

The Grinch would be the biggest Dr. Seuss effect on society if it wasn’t for that feline that wore head accessories.

Speaking of the Cat of the Hat, I have still never seen that live action movie. But it was supposedly terrible, so bad that that the Seuss family said no more live action films. Just animated. Which means that eventually we got to have The Lorax from Illumination Entertainment, a company normally on my shitlist, because they make shit to average films.

And despite seemingly having any Seuss thing to work with, they figured they could just do The Grinch again. Why? I don’t know. We have a successful animated 2D version, and a successful 3D live action version, so I guess we need another version, this time animated and 3D.

If it was a better company, I would be annoyed because they could have decided to do One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish instead. Maybe Tim Burton will tackle that one after Dumbo.

Snowman
One way to ruin Christmas is to teach the local youth about jerking someone else off.

Oh yeah, this is the section where I talk about the plot of The Grinch.

So uhhh, there is this place called Whoville, where all these Whooligans live in splendor and wonder. They are overtly happy and cheerful, and for whatever reason, they all enjoy the shit out of Christmas. Decorations, noise, presents, togetherness, food, you name it. Christmas is number one. Celebrations all month long.

But someone doesn’t love Christmas. No, he hates it. The Grinch (Benedict Cumberbatch) lives in a mountain outside of Whoville, alone and bitter, with his dog, Max. He just wants to be left alone, but he has to visit Whoville to buy food occasionally. Normally he hides up all December to avoid the festivities.

This year, however, he has to return and get involved. Because they are putting everything bigger, 3 times bigger at least, and that he cannot stand. He must steal this Christmas from them, to make them feel as sad as he does all the time. That will show those Whos who’s boss.

Also featuring Angela Lansbury, Cameron Seely, Kenan Thompson, Rashida Jones, and Pharrell Williams at the narrator.

Santa
That’s not Santa! Santa Claus is a black man!

There is only really one major point I want to harp on, so I will get to the quicker stuff first. The Grinch doesn’t seem mean, just sad and lame. The film felt too long, and featured what turned out to be an unnecessary reindeer plot to pad the time. And the backstory they gave to him paints the city of Whoville as a terrible place to be with a bunch of assholes, and also sort of makes his behavior completely justifiable. Great.

However, besides all of that, I have a question. Do you think the Whos in Whoville worship Jesus or believe in any sort of god? Because in the last two movies and the book, they have not made any references to Jesus or religion. They celebrate Christmas like Americans, the secular ones at least. Presents, Santa, food, and togetherness.

There are no mangers in Whoville! This is not Earth at all, it is its own planet or city or entity. Shit, maybe it is on a snowflake.

But not in this movie. The first sign was when a choir was singing “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” in what was definitely a minute long and silly scene. It took me out of the movie. They had Angels on trees, which isn’t as bad. But then even later, there was a singing of Silent Night, another very religious song.

These movie makers are so out of touch with the material, that they are getting their own potential Christmas traditions mixed up with Whoville Christmas traditions and that is a problem.

Come on, you know it is true. A fundamental breakdown of this magnitude is either agenda driven, or a lack of intelligence, neither of which should be celebrated.

1 out of 4.

Avengers: Infinity War

I really don’t have to spend a lot of information on this intro, do I?

Avengers: Infinity War (originally called Avengers: Infinity War Part 1, but people were nervous about half movies, and now the next one’s title is a secret because of spoilers or something.

I was an ecstatic little girl when the first Avengers film came out, waiting for it as soon as the first Iron Man film finished. Since then, things have been a bit more middling. My reviews have generally always been positive, none of them ever received under a 2 out of 4, and some of which are maybe too highly rated. Not everything I am extremely excited for, but most I definitely have a higher interest.

Last year, no superhero movies made my top of the year list (although one of them was about a super hero, sort of). This year, I already had Black Panther as a 4. And yet this film, this one right here, has me just as giddy as the first one for so many reasons.

So let’s just get into it.

Group 2
Oh yeah, look at these folks. Maybe this is just Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3?

At the end of Thor: Ragnarok, we had a surprise for Thor and his crew. This film takes place right after that point. Bad news for the Asgardians, Thanos (Josh Brolin) is here. At this point he has one of the infinity stones, out of six total. His goal? To wipe out half of the life in the universe.

Now presumably this just means sentient life forms who walk around and have languages. I don’t think he has anything against puppies. Or plants. He isn’t doing it out of spite, he is calling it mercy. It is sort of his thing. He has been doing it manually with his own crew for a while, but he wants the stones to do it instantly, so that the survivors can flourish. You know, by having more resources, more space, less crime, whatever. He is a benevolent God.

It turns out some people have some issues with him wanting to do this though. And with two of the stones (that we know of) being on Earth, he is going to have to come crashing down, where a few people down there are decently strong and going to have to put up a little fight.

Starring every goddamn person ever. You know, Chris Evans, Robert Downey Jr., Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo, Scarlett Johansson, Don Cheadle, Karen Gillan, Danai Gurira, Bradley Cooper, Letitia Wright, Winston Duke, Benedict Wong, Benedict Cumberbatch, Tom Holland, Chadwick Boseman, Zoe Saldana, Tom Hiddleston, Paul Bettany, Elizabeth Olsen, Anthony Mackie, Sebastian Stan, Idris Elba, Pom Klementieff, Dave Bautista, Vin Diesel, Chris Pratt, and Benicio Del Toro.

Also featuring some newbies, like Peter Dinklage and Carrie Coon! Two whole people! Wow! And some technically regular people like Gwyneth Paltrow and William Hurt. Damn, did I get them all?

Group
What is this a crossover episode?

What’s to say that isn’t already all over the internet?

Avengers: Infinity War is a fan pleasing romp across the universe, adding most of the cast we have come to love into a few surprising show downs, where the stakes have never been higher. It is certainly one of the darker and serious Marvel films at this point. People are going to get hurt, people are going to be sad, and people are going to cry. Well, maybe. I know I cried near the end, and almost another time before then.

Acting wise, a lot of the stars gave their A-game. Shout out to Cumberbatch who really felt like a leader of this group, despite being one of the most recent additions. Holland was brought in for his acting ability, and it really showed by the end. A lot of pain was on Evans’ face throughout the film. Hemsworth is so goddamn Thor-y, its fantastic, and I am glad we got so much of him in the last few movies. And finally, Saldana, who is normally a low point from the acting carried a lot.

Of course I also have to talk about Brolin as Thanos, a role we have been waiting for for years and it really paid off well. This is a goddamn villain right here. It is really great writing when you sympathize with someone who is trying to kill half of the universe.

I don´t entirely know where Marvel is going with its ending, but I do have a feeling I will be incredibly annoyed by it in the next film. I think they are going to take what they did great here and ruin it with the second part, but that is just a gut feeling.

Avengers: Infinity Wars has some of the best fight scenes and team ups yet, and is just pure fan service through and through while giving an incredible story as well. I wish this film was longer.

I don´t have to tell you to go see this one, I know you will, and I can´t see anyone who likes the series to be disappointed with this milestone achievement.

If there is anything to be disappointed in, it is Marvel´s poor decisions to not include their other people. I haven´t seen Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. in forever, but it seemed to react to the movies but never impact them, but someone from there might have been involved. And the Netflix shows? Come on, there was stuff happening in New York. If the Netflix shows ignore this event (which they didn´t ignore the first Avengers movie…) then they are just making poor decisions.

Group
You’d think with three group shots I’d have gotten all the heroes. But nope.

4 out of 4.

Thor: Ragnarok

Okay, Thor: The Dark World was sort of bad. I was caught up in Marvel hype at the time, but I still stand by my original Thor rating.

I love the god of Thunder, and I want Chris Hemsworth to be in many more movies, so I just ooze out happiness towards him, hoping everything is great and falling in love. Except for Blackhat. And The Huntsman: Winter’s War. And Ghostbusters. Okay, so lately Thor is all he has going for him outside of Rush (is it the four letter word theme?!).

But that is not why I am excited about Thor: Ragnarok. I am floor to the wall excited thanks to Taika Waititi.

Who? The indie film New Zealand director who gave us What We Do In The Shadows and Hunt For The Wilderpeople (one of my top films last year). This man is so good at his craft, bringing natural humor and an adventure out of little. The fact that he was given a Marvel film to helm, to put his own spin on things, blows my minds, and honestly, I just could not fucking wait.

lightning
Basically, Thor is now full on Rayden.

Ragnarok takes place sometimes after the events of other movies. Thor (Hemsworth) is roaming the stars, leaving Midgard (Earth) behind for a bit in their squabbles, as he makes sure life around the Realms is swell. He is having nightmares about Asgard falling in flames, and he would rather not have that happen to his home.

After dealing with threats, he returns to Asgard and finds it complacent in the suffering of the realm. Heimdall (Idris Elba) is missing. Odin (Anthony Hopkins) is clearly Loki (Tom Hiddleston) in disguise, not actually dead like everyone assumed. But that is only the beginning of the issues.

It turns out that Thor has an older sister, Hela (Cate Blanchett), the Goddess of Death, who has been imprisoned by Odin for some time. She is set to return, to return Asgard to a machine of death and destruction to conquer the cosmos. The Asgard of the past was a scary place, everyone would prefer peace time now, but it is hard for that to occur when she shows up on their doorstep, stronger than the other Asgardians and willing to kill anyone who gets in their way.

Thor and Odin are expelled from their realm, with mixed results. Odin would like to survive and run, while Thor would prefer to get out of his new reality, defeat his sister and finally claim the throne he has denied in the past. I mean, he has to, or else everyone will die or something.

We get a few new characters into the story, including the Grandmaster (Jeff Goldbloom), Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson), and Skurge (Karl Urban).

Also featuring the Warriors Three (sort of) (Zachary Levi, Ray Stevenson, Tadanobu Asano), the voice of Clancy Brown, Rachel House, Taika Waititi (he is in his own movie, yes), Mark Ruffalo, Benedict Cumberbatch, and a few cameos to keep on your toes.

War
This is probably what I would wear if I got into LARPing.

Thor is such an odd character to make films about. The goal is to make sure the films have their own unique feel to them and are not a generic action superhero film. This means that Thor gets to go to other planets and realms, but not like the Guardians of the Galaxy, as his is more solo based and war based. GotG is more bad dudes all around.

Years ago this was being noted of being a sort of Road Trip Marvel film, which is not a very apt description. We get to see different areas, different people, at various amounts, while Thor deals with his friends and family tearing itself apart. Unfortunately like a lot of those films, some areas spend too much time, seemingly drag on, when the viewer might just wish it to move its ass along eventually. Namely, the trash planet with the gladiators. Sure, some cool stuff happens there. Some sweet characters. But damn it, get going, get out, let´s get this plot going!

And there is a lot of cool stuff in this film! Thor at the end of the movie is a complete badass, finally rocking out in such an epic way that it feels like a Thor makeover, and I don´t just mean his hair. Hulk is given a decent amount of screen time and gets to show off. Loki is around, which is okay. Hela likes to throw spikes or whatever, and I guess she is strong doing that. Heimdall finally has a purpose in these movies, but still not a lot of purpose. And cameos!

Then there are questions like: Where is Lady Sif? She is a major part of the Thor crew, but she is basically replaced with Valkyrie and we are supposed to be cool with it? (She could not make the filming time, and they just ignored her existence. The Warriors Three at least had parts though).

The questions brought up at the end of The Dark World with Odin/Loki were really quickly dealt with as well. TDW had a very ominous ending and I have been waiting many years for this to come about and it was a disappointment.

Again, the film has tons of fun moments. It does a lot of things right, and it is quite hilarious and badass at various points. It is just a bit too long, rushes through the better things, drags at others, and ignores characters without a good reason.

3 out of 4.

Doctor Strange

Feeling weird? Then you haven’t felt enough, yet.

I have been waiting probably at least five years for a Doctor Strange movie to grace our screens, holding onto every casting rumor. I was straight up distraught when it was pseudo announced that Joaquin Phoenix would play as the titular hero before casting fell through. I knew that he wasn’t the kind of guy to sign multi year deals and wouldn’t want to fully embrace being a super hero.

Which also explains why I was so excited when Cumberbatch was signed on. Given his role as Sherlock and what I have seen it just made since based on what I had seen of the character in other forms of media. Being a complete Cumberbunny helped of course as well, I’d watch him in basically anything.

Note, despite waiting for this film for years, I am not some weird expert on Doctor Strange. I first saw him in the 90’s Spiderman cartoon and just instantly thought he was pretty cool. Then I keep abreast on him every once in a while to see what kind of shenanigans he is up to and that is about it. That’s right, zero comics read with him as the lead.

Spirit Punch
This falcon punch gets you right in the feels.

Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) is about the world famous egotist and neurosurgeon, Stephan Strange. He is arrogant, cocky, and other words that mean those same things. But he is also extremely intelligent. One of those guys with photographic memory and all of that, so the cockiness comes with the territory. Well, these character flaws lead him to an accident, where his body is broken and his hands are practically shattered. Fuck!

Not being able to really bend your knuckles and stop your hands from shaking makes it hard to be a surgeon and his life begins to deteriorate. After chasing cure after cure, he finally submits based on a rumor of a past patient and heads to Nepal to find a mystical healing place called Kamar-Taj. There he meets The Ancient One (Tilda Swinton), the Sorcerer Surpreme who eventually is willing to teach Strange the Dark Arts. He only wants to heal his hands, they want him to protect the world from other universes.

He also meets her second in command, Baron Mordo (Chiwetel Ejiofor), and the master of the library Wong (Benedict Wong). Needless to say, his intelligence gets him far, but his attitude gets him into some tough situations, including dealings with Kaecilius (Mads Mikkelsen), a former trainee who wants to take out the Ancient One and release the world into utter darkness. You know, the usual.

We also have Rachel McAdams as an ER doctor / sometimes love interest, Michael Stuhlbarg as a surgeon to be the butt of Strange’s jokes, Scott Adkins as generic bad guy fighter, and Benjamin Bratt playing basketball to remind us all of Catwoman.

Cape
Oh an the Cape is played by Andy Serkis.

Rarely do I make this recommendation, but with a movie like Doctor Strange it practically begs you to watch it on the biggest screen you can with those incredibly annoying 3D Glasses. It is just so goddamn pretty and there is so many details going on, it would be a shame for your eyes to have them all squished together and miss them. And yes, that means don’t download this in the future and watch it on your shitty laptop, damn it.

In terms of actual movie plots, this is a fun and interesting super hero movie. We are in a new direction! We finally have magic, something the MCU has been adamant in avoiding as much as possible (especially given the direction they took Iron Man 3).

Strange is certifiable jerk, asshole, and badass all in one. When I first heard their intention was for him to replace Iron Man as the face of the Avengers after Phase 3, I could only barely believe it, but after seeing the film it makes a lot of sense. I can’t imagine Downey Jr. surviving Thanos, let us just say that.

Wong was a fun addition, Ejiofor and Mikkelson’s characters could have been more fully fledged out, and Swinton was a unique choice as a Celtic Ancient One. Of course, we also have McAdams in here as a love interest, making this the FOURTH movie in her career where she is the love interest of someone who has time altering abilities. What a god damn oddly specific type cast. The other three are The Time Traveler’s Wife, Midnight in Paris, and About Time.

Doctor Strange is visually stunning, funny, and complete with amazing battle scenes and a decent ending. I will also note I almost flipped out over the mid credits scene in surprise. It isn’t the best super hero movie, but it is a damn good start and I can’t wait to see the character in future films.

Oh and a warning. It does feature the cringey line of “Forget everything you think you know,” a line that is literally never spoken by a real person ever.

3 out of 4.

Zoolander 2

Zoolander Zoolander Zoolander!

Fifteen years ish ago, I remember being a young impressionable teenager watching it for the first time. I laughed so much, so long. I quoted it so far for the rest of my life. It is probably one of my favorite comedies of all time and I am always in the mood for it. Hell, I remember putting in the DVD just to watch the Special Features Menu, because it was also hilarious. THE MENU!

The idea of a sequel has been kicked around for a long, long time. And yes, it has been delayed. But in this case, I am glad. If they forced a sequel, it would probably be shit. I expect they waited for a good script. I hope they waited for a good script.

Because it is clear that Dumb and Dumber To wasn’t waiting for the right script. They just got the idea, ran with it, and gave us a pile of shit. Please Zoolander 2, don’t be a pile of shit. Pleaaaase.

All
Bamblesport Cunnilingus was in it, so it can’t be completely shit!

Fifteen years ago, Derek Zoolander (Ben Stiller) saved the Prime Minister of Malaysia with his Magnum look and changed the world of fashion forever. Mugatu (Will Ferrell), Katinka Ingabogovinanana (Milla Jovovich), and Evil DJ (Justin Theroux) went to jail! But bad stuff started to happen almost immediately.

Without spoilers, Zoolander soon found himself without his wife (Christine Taylor) and son (Cyrus Arnold), with Hansel (Owen Wilson) refusing to speak to him, and a laughing stock again in the world. So he left to become a Hermit, living alone in a cabin on a mountain.

Now, in 2016, he receives an invitation to Rome, by Alexanya Atoz (Kristen Wiig), the new big fashion person. Derek, along with Hansal, are to star in a new campaign and revitalize their careers. Derek wants to do it to get his family back. Hansal wants to do it to run away from his problems, from being part of a family.

Also, a whole bunch of celebrities are being killed. Including Justin Bieber! When they die, they seem to have Zoolander’s classic look on their face. This investigation is being led by Interpol’s Fashion Police division, Valentina (Penelope Cruz).

And featuring Kyle Mooney as a fashion designer, Sting, Kiefer Sutherland and Susan Sarandon as themselves, Fred Armisen as an 11 year old boy, and the return of Billy Zane and Nathan Lee Graham as Todd.

Boobs
Zoolander’s hands are being played by Jerry Stiller.

Sure enough, Zoolander 2 is not as good as the first film, but in reality that was impossible. Humor was a different beast in the last 90’s and early 2000’s. If they went for a film with the exact same tone, it would most likely feel just dated.

But damn it, this sequel gave me Zoolander and Hansel back, and they are acting like they never went away. These felt like the characters, the movie was true to them, and they didn’t become warped caricatures. Well, maybe a little warped. But not terrible. I believed everything they did and said.

The film had a few unique laugh moments that had me in stitches. They rehash a lot of the old jokes, but it thankfully isn’t a majority of the film like how it felt for Anchorman 2. They come and go, sometimes they stick, some time they don’t. For instance, the Hansel being so hot joke? It was poorly placed and made it completely shit.

I would probably have given this a higher grade, for enjoyability and nostalgia, but the plot is almost incomprehensible. Looking back on it, trying to figure out character actions, none of it seems to make sense. I can’t even tell if Billy Zane is supposed to be a bad guy. It has a large conspiracy element like the first film, but this one is so badly done I can’t imagine how they thought it was a good idea.

And for the most part, the cameos were disappointing. The only two that had a large presence were Bieber and Sutherland. Everyone else was one joke and done, quite a shame.

Overall, you should definitely watch the film if you want more Zoolander. But you might not have to see it in theater.

2 out of 4.

Black Mass

Johnny Depp is the type of guy who is always working and trying out new bizarre characters. It gave him some early fame but lately people are getting tired of him. Mortdecai gets to be one of the worst films of the year, as people assumed it was just a mustache obsessed Johnny Depp playing Johnny Depp.

But then there was Black Mass. Based on trailers and word of mouth, we were told this would be Depp acting, playing a real character, and not the same old shit as before. Something new by technically making him play a more normal role! A sadistic mean and manipulative person, but a real guy nonetheless. No super annoying quirks, no autism, just a dude who didn’t mind killing people.

The acting was supposed to be so great that people were going to remember how great Depp could be when he gives a shit. I am sure he gives a lot of shit when doing his latest Burton film, but after awhile, it just looks like he has no more cares left in the world and he would rather just sit there and shit money. (Assuming they don’t flop, which they have been as well!)

Face
That’s the face I make when I shit normal things. Can only imagine other objects.

Black Mass is the story of James ‘Whitey’ Bulger (Depp), America’s Most Wanted criminal for a long time. You may have heard about him for many reasons. Or maybe you watched the documentary (or read my review of), Whitey: United States of America v. James J. Bulger, which was out a year or two ago on Netflix. It went over his crimes and the trial once they eventually caught the guy (spoilers), while the film version specifically only talks about his crimes for the most part until he started to hide elsewhere in the USA.

Like most crime movies, this one also takes place in the scariest city in the USA for people who like grammar, Boston. Bulger and his gang (some members played by Rory Cochrane, Jesse Plemons, and W. Earl Brown) are criming up the streets and kicking butt. They basically control all of South Boston. But there are rivals, and there are conflicts of interest.

You know, like John Connolly (Joel Edgerton), when he returns to Boston, his home, but now a member of the FBI. He is friends with Whitey, despite the mostly common knowledge of his criminal activities. Eventually he convinces Whitey that he should become an informant, because there are other bad people out there who he can rat out to get them in trouble. Doing so, that would allow him to gain even more power on the streets, having the FBI in his back pockets. Oh hey, Whitey’s actual brother (Benedict Cumberbatch) is also part of the Massachusetts State Senate. Pretty sneaky stuff.

This becomes a win win. Whitey gains gang power, and the FBI catches a lot of bad guys. It isn’t until things get more and more violent that some people out there begin to get fidgety and want to bring in Whitey as well, because something very sketch is going down with his relationship with the FBI.

Also featuring Dakota Johnson, Julianne Nicholson, Adam Scott, Kevin Bacon, David Harbour, Peter Sarsgaard and Corey Stoll.

Dinner
A gangster, an FBI agent, and a David Harbour walk into a restaurant…

I had a BlackWeek on my website, and I was most upset that Black Mass came out so much later than the other Black films. I was excited to see Depp back in greatness, although I think his role from Tusk and Yoga Hosers is actually pretty sweet.

And then I watched Black Mass and it all felt unoriginal. Just because I watched a documentary about Whitey doesn’t mean I remember a lot about him. The only thing I really remember was him being a rat and getting the other gangsters in trouble while he got away for decades. Black Mass should have been a nice companion piece to the documentary, giving us intense recreations of some of his worst work and making Whitey seem like a real person.

Even though I didn’t know about his individual crimes, the reason it felt unoriginal is just that it felt like every other gangster movie before it. Sure, plot wise it had the original true element of actually working with the FBI, because the real life plot is so silly no one accept it as something plausible in a fictional film. Stylistically, it felt the same. Elements of the film seemed to be bad recreations of Goodfellas.

Yes, the acting was there. Depp, Edgerton, Sarsgaard all did wonderful jobs. Cumberbatch sounded funny and I wanted more scenes with him because of it.

But I would hope that the film didn’t feel like the gangster films of the past and tried to make a truly unique experience for this real life story. I guess I could also be biased, because I also have recently seen Animal Kingdom (with Edgerton), and it was definitely a unique gangster film.

1 out of 4.

Penguins of Madagascar

With the Penguins of Madagascar, every major animated release in the US in 2014 should now be reviewed on Gorgon Reviews. Hooray! Exciting!

Unfortunately it is the sequel/spinoff series to Madagascar, which I found to be very mediocre or bad. However, this one at least also had a TV show before it came out, so there is a lot of back stories with these characters and their adventures that I am wildly unaware of.

Bring on the penguins! They are cute I guess.

Octo
Holy, shit, we also get an Octopus? I am now ecstatic.

Skipper (Tom McGrath), Kowalski (Chris Miller), Rico (Conrad Vernon), and Private (Christopher Knights) are all penguins who make up a pretty unique fighting team. Or at least they think they are. Going on adventures, using code words, what have you. Recognize the voice actors? Exactly, because this movie isn’t sold on celebrities, it is sold on characters and people who are real voice actors, damn it.

Either way, while celebrating the 10th birthday of Private, directly after the events of Madagascar 3. While getting some sweet ass Cheezy Dibbles, they get kidnapped by Dave (John Malkovich, bring on the celebrities now!), an Octopus! Apparently Dave has had a shitty life of living in zoos all around the world, where he is always second fiddle and ignored thanks to cute animals like the penguins. PENGUINS.

So he wants to get rid of them all. Or make them ugly. Something like that. ALL THE PENGUINS MUST BE PUNISHED.

That should be enough plot for you. Spy movie guys. Lot of things happen. There is also another agent group, the North Force (Benedict Cumberbatch, Ken Jeong, Annet Mahendru, and Peter Stormare).

NF
I will let you decide which voice should go with which character.

Shit, if you like Octopuses in movies, you are going to love this movie. Yes, Octopuses, mother fucker. It is the right way. They all reminded me of Octodad a little bit, especially since the main octopus is wearing a human costume sometimes.

In all reality, it was just an okay movie. I am glad that the penguins all had personality, but they didn’t really make me laugh all that much. I thought North Force was underutilized and the big bad guy plot was pretty lame as well.

There was one ongoing joke throughout the film, involving celebrity names and puns. They were fantastic and clever. Well done on that department.

But comparing it to other animated movies, the quality is definitely lower (although in line with the Madagascar animation, so at least they are consistent). It probably feels like an extended episode of the penguin TV show, so if you like the show, you will probably like the movie.

It could have been worse. It could have featured Firework over and over.

2 out of 4.

The Imitation Game

2014 has been the year of the Doppelganger. Not Doppelganger Movies, that was just two Hercules movies.

No, 2014 gave us Enemy and The Double (which may have been 2013) and The One I Love. Clones everywhere.

But The Imitation Game, despite its clone sounding title, is totally not about clones! What’s up with that? No, instead we are getting a historical drama about Alan Turing, a British man who did things during World War II. Yes, this is another World War II movie, but instead of bombs and death, we instead get math and death.

Computers
“The square root of a bullet is still a bullet.” – Albert Einstein

You see, Alan Turing (Benedict Cumberbatch) was one of those very eccentric individuals who also did smart man things. Aka, the perfect type of person to make a movie about, because acting!

Alan Tuning is most famous for kind of leading the science way towards real life computers. Back in the 1940s, they didn’t even have the internet, so presumably all their free time went towards doing crossword puzzles. Especially Mr. Turing! A professor at Mathematics, he loved puzzles and solving cryptography. So he gets himself into an interview with the British Royal Navy to join their puzzle solving squad. Namely, trying to crack the German Enigma Machine.

The Engima was thought to be uncrackable. They had a copy of it, but they didn’t know the code. The code changed daily, right at midnight, and their first message intercepted would be at about 6 am. So they have to go back to square one, even if they solve that days code, every morning. It would be a tireless effort, but these men (Matthew Goode, Allen Leech, Matthew Beard) are up to the job! Just not with the anti-social awkward Turing. Who also doesn’t want to help their daily efforts, but instead build a machine that can crack the code almost instantly and help the Allied forces win the war!

Hurrah!

And he was gay. That is important, because homosexuality in the UK was illegal at the time, so his mere existence was causing him to be an outlaw, yet a huge savior of World War II.

Also featuring Keira Knightley as Joan, a WOMAN on the team (kind of), Charles Dance as the head of the Navy, Mark Strong as a MI6 agent involved as an overseer, and Rory Kinnear as a detective trying to find out what Turing is really up to.

A WOMAN
Being a woman in a male dominated field of doing puzzles really makes you stand out.

I am pretty sure a lot of this movie was fictionalized to increase drama and make everything a lot more exciting…and I am completely fine with that. Man, was this film tense and exciting. And well acted! Not just the Cumberbatch either, but the other guys and gals, they did pretty good too.

As for Cumberbatch, it is interesting that in an episode of Sherlock, he referred specifically to Alan Turing’s life and issues they had after finally solving the Engima machine. It was a huge plot point and involved moral ambiguity (which I am always a fan of), and shit, now he is Alan Turing doing the same thing he talked about in another role! Crazy! And a bit eerie. But even more importantly, like a lot of his recent roles, this role was very different from his past jobs and you could tell a lot of fantastic acting was going on there. So good the acting. Acting that shows a love of the craft and maybe a love of the subject matter.

Is it the best at acting? Nah, probably not. But it is up there for sure.

I found the whole thing easy to watch and follow, and it was great that we also got a story of Turing when he was in grade school before he got his PhDs. It is great having WW2 movies that aren’t just about how war is terrible and people are dying and all of that. Which is I guess what The Monuments Men tried to do and failed.

4 out of 4.

The Hobbit: The Battle Of Five Armies

Ding dong the mother fucking witch is dead. That is how I am starting to feel about this franchise. In college, I wanted to do a semester abroad in New Zealand because it is a beautiful country, but now I think I have seen enough of it.

Everyone knows the Lord of the Rings are incredible, so I won’t mention them. I was really excited with The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, it was a bit longer, more CGI, but hey, let’s return to Middle Earth.

I completely hated The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug. It was far too long, and it was a completely filler movie. I mean. FUCK. It didn’t end with the Death of Smaug. The obvious end point at least. It was just a long tease that made me bored and tired.

So, here we are, at The Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies. Two things of note come up with the last part. First off, I really hate the title. I booed so hard and long once they announced the title change. It was originally The Hobbit: There and Back Again, a title taken from the book of his journey. Great title. This one is as lame as The Desolation Of Smaug (given that Smaug doesn’t get desolated).

Two, this one is going to be a lot more exciting than the second film. That much is certain. It is pretty easy to do when you leave like one cool aspect into the second film and delay the rest for the ending. The third film gives the end of the dragon and the big battle, so it will be super awesome. But at what cost? A shitty second movie. Given the connectedness of these films, it is important to look at them individually and as parts of a whole. So I don’t know if I can really enjoy this movie as much knowing that it was essentially delayed a year because the movies were broken up from two films into three films.

I think I am allowed to be a little biased and peeved going into this film, as I believe the second movie was 160 minutes of my life wasted.

Rams
But this one has tiny men on rams! Yay rams!

Okay so. Battle of Five Armies. Before that, we got a Smaug (Benedict Cumberbatch) to kill. And then they do that. Moving onnn.

Humans are all pissed off because their water town is destroyed. They have lost everything, their wealth, their homes. They need a place to go. Making Bard (Luke Evans) their de facto leader, they decide that they kind of want to head to the near by Dwarven stronghold for safety. And to get some of that gold that was promised to them.

Speaking of people who want to go to the stronghold, the wood elves are dicking around too. Apparently there is some priceless treasure in there that they want back. And that is all. A bunch of the elves are played by these people (Lee Pace, Evangeline Lilly, Orlando Bloom). Hugo Weaving and Cate Blanchett are elves too, but they are in another part of the story. I don’t really understand what they are doing with Christopher Lee and Ian McKellen, so I won’t talk about it.

Oh yeah. Dwarves. Like Thorin (Richard Armitage). He is now a real King because he has a real Castle, but he is after his special stone and is kind of going mad. Mad enough to go to war with the humans and the wood elves. But also, the orcs that no one know are coming. And Bilbo (Martin Freeman) is kind of just hanging around.

There are also non Dwarven actors, like Ryan Gage and Stephen Fry. But also all those Dwarves? I still don’t feel like tagging most of them. Just Billy Connolly, Aidan Turner, and Dean O’Gorman. I think I am done talking about the plot. And actors.

BUT WHO IS THE FIFTH ARMY?

Guys
Orlando – “I heard you got a role in another franchise. Lucky. This one is finally owner.”
Luke – “Dude, no one is going to watch the Monster Avengers movies.”

Yeahhh, dead dragon and big army fights!

And some of that was really cool. Well, the dragon death felt kind of rushed and awkward. Like, somehow, the cartoon version of The Hobbit had a more intense dragon death scene than this movie. It kind of just happened, exactly as one would expect too. So that was actually disappointing. Just that it ended so quick and easy, they could have made the death way more awesome and also, you know…put it in the fucking second movie?

Now the army fight was pretty bamf. So that is good. Entertaining fight scenes, although it was hard to follow just how many humans were actually in the war and how the battle grounds were laid out. You just kind of had to go with it and accept it, although I doubt it was planned out. Martin Freeman still made a good Bilbo, so that was good. But of course, the focus wasn’t really on him this whole movie, despite the title. He gets super pushed to the side.

The love story is not as bad as the second one I guess, because of all the fighting going on during it.

And as I said above, I have no idea what the point of the necromancer story line was. Like, they resolved it I guess, but it was totally unexplained and felt incredibly pointless. It was really shitty.

Overall, that makes this movie just okay. Not the weakest of the series, maybe the best. Hard to say. None of these match the LOTR quality and I don’t think that was their goal. But I can’t help but feel the entire franchise was a let down. I haven’t bought any of them, because I know I want to wait for the cool extended package with all of them bundled. But also, will I actually watch any of these again? Probably not. I will probably watch the cartoon Hobbit more.

2 out of 4.

August: Osage County

Here’s a totally non surprising confession.

I. Love. Plays.

And musicals. But that live shit, on a stage? It is great. I especially love plays because the entire focus point of the play will generally always be people conversing with one another. No amazing special effects. Just acting and great dialogue. Mmm, great dialogue. I fancy myself a shitty writer. The only good part about my stories is the dialogue, so I think I need to write plays.

This is me blabbering on, and not talking about August: Osage County, which won the 2008 Pulitzer Prize for Drama. So of course it was turned into a movie. Of course it was nominated for awards. And of course, I watched it.

Family
If you look closely, you will see a confused and bewildered Benedict Cumberbatch.

The year: Who knows. The month: Probably August. The location: Osage County, Oklahoma.

Why? Well, Beverly Weston (Sam Shepard) has flown the coop, and left his house without notice. Known for being a drunk, he at least hired a maid (Misty Upham) to clean up the house. His wife, Violet (Meryl Streep) is extremely distraught. She has mouth cancer, and is addicted to a lot of pills, so she calls in her family during this time of woe.

We do have a big cast of people coming over. Of course her sister, Mattie Fay (Margo Martindale), is there, with her husband, Charles (Chris Cooper), and their son Lil’ Charles (Benedict Cumberbatch). Her youngest daughter, Ivy (Julianne Nicholson), still lives in the town, so of course she is there right away too.

The eldest daughter, Barbara (Julia Roberts), who left for Colorado, has brought her husband, Bill (Ewan McGregor), and 14-year old daughter, Jean (Abigail Breslin). Her middle daughter, Karen (Juliette Lewis), has brought along her new fiance, Steve (Dermot Mulroney), from Miami.

Lot of faces, lot of family, and a lot of time apart. It doesn’t help that very early on (not a spoiler), Beverly is found dead after he wandered away, so the family is now grieving. Perfect opportunity to air out grievances, abuse drugs, and tell people what is really going on, no matter who it hurts.

Death Laugh
“Oh, he died! Ha ha ha!” Creepy women, yo.

Let’s keep this short and simple, self. I gotta remind myself to not go overboard with these analyses sometimes.

I loved every character in this play. A lot of them are horrible people. But I loved every single one. Every person had a reason to act the way they acted. The movie explained the reasons for everyone eventually, and not much was left open by the end. Sure, there was a general “Where do they go from here?” but that one is completely fine and worth being left open ended. I loved every character, so of course I loved every person acting in this movie as well. They all brought something to the character, and conveyed information with more than just words and loud noises.

That’s right, this is a movie for people who like great acting and a decent plot, nothing more. The plot itself is of the dysfunctional family variety, and even by the end I was surprised to find out some of the secrets that were kept hidden. Sure, they made some plot lines a bit obvious and easy to figure out, but others came from quite far out of left field, it was a joy experiencing them all.

My only issue with the movie is that the beginning felt a tad bit slower, up til the funeral. Post funeral is where the movie really kicks it into high gear, and then stays at that level of intensity until the credits roll.

4 out of 4.

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