Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle

A few years ago, The Jungle Book remake came out, and people were confused or impressed or didn’t see it. One of the first “live action” remakes (whereas everything is still animated but one character basically) from Disney and it was a good way to test the waters with their technology and realism.

The problem is, there was another Jungle Book movie trying to come out before that one. It was to be directed by Andy Serkis, and yes, also mostly CGI, but also a lot of mocap technology, the same stuff that made Serkis famous. HE wanted to see those famous actors pretending to be animals, really getting into those characters.

And because of the Disney release, they decided to delay this one. Wait a couple of years, and release it fresh with new eyes. But The Jungle Book announced a sequel, which means there will never really be a time when there isn’t a Jungle Book movie coming out, so they just needed to get it out at some point. People rushed things, advertising potential was low, so they instead sold it to Netflix, so that it can hopefully just be successful there.

Poor Serkis, there is no way he wanted his movie to premiere on Netflix. And at some point they changed the title to be Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle, because Mowgli apparently wasn’t good enough on its own.

Race
Mowgli and the four realms wolves.

Look, I know and you know, that you are not here for the plot. We know that a boy has his parents get all murdered by a mean tiger (Benedict Cumberbatch), so some wolves take him in and raise him. He is also watched over by a panther (Christian Bale), who is soft or something, and really wants the baby to not die, while also being pretty darn afraid of a tiger.

And occasionally, a bear (Andy Serkis) is around to give advice/teach/protect. The snake? Well the snake (Cate Blanchett) is less evil and more godlike, with a bit of an oracle-sense, she is there to be unnerving, not just looking for a bite to eat.

Anyways, the boy (Rohan Chand) tries to be a good wolf, not realizing he is actually a human, and you know, not die to tigers.

Also starring the voices of Naomie Harris, Jack Reynor, Peter Mullan, and Eddie Marsan. If you want other real people, Matthew Rhys and Freida Pinto are also notable characters who have more than just a voice.

Bath
When bathing, make sure you focus on your bare niceties.

Really, to have two movies based on the same source book around the same time, those movies better be really different. They need a reason to exist and not just because they wanted to see who can do it better.

And regardless of who had the idea first, or how pitch meetings went, this just feels like a competition to try and see who can do it better. I would like to do a big list of comparisons of the two and argue which is better, but I saw The Jungle Book years ago and don’t really want to make that sort of review. This film has more zoomed in looks at the animals faces, probably for mocap reasons as they created animals around acing faces. None of them looked like people creepily, but the mouth movements felt a bit more natural to have human words coming out of them.

But that doesn’t make the graphics better. I am having a hard time to really figure out which one counts as better, so just put the movies as good enough graphics. They are telling the same basic story too, except this one is a bit darker at times. The monkey scene in particular is really frightening, as are some of the chase scenes. The snake scene is more confusing than anything.

However, this film has problems. Namely, when Mowgli gets to the village. That isn’t the end of the movie, but maybe two-thirds of the way through it. Once that happens all momentum is dropped. The movie seemingly comes to a stop and just takes forever to move the hell on. It loses its steam and can never really gain it back, as most people then decide at that time to start checking their watches waiting for it to end.

Voices are fine, graphics are suitable, darkness is less appropriate for a family movie, and holy shit does it take awhile to just end. Easy pass, but since it is on Netflix, you will see it large and around for weeks, and sure, it will probably frighten your kids.

2 out of 4.

The House with a Clock in Its Walls

Apparently The House with a Clock in its Walls was a book. I haven’t heard of it. The author really loves it, and made a whole bunch about these people. Studios be trying to get all pseudo famous books into movies, because the scripts are halfway made and have a following.

I don’t know it, nor do I care. This title is unforgivably awful. At no point does this scream out sexy, fun, or cool. It sounds god awful. This is about magic? This is the least magical sounding title of a movie ever.

How anyone saw this title and wanted to read the book is beyond me, but at no point is this one I would want to watch without being a reviewer. This is a film that I would skip on principle alone.

Goggles
Why the fuck is this kid wearing goggles? To show he is whimsical?

Lewis Barnavelt (Owen Vaccaro) just lots his parents, in some sort of car accident. Now he has to move to some place in Michigan, to live with his Uncle John (Jack Black), an eccentric man that his family never talked about and whom he never met. for many wonderful reasons. He lives in a mansion. It is weird, and decorated with Jack O’Lanterns.

And shit, inside the house things move around and are a bit spooky. Why? Well, his Uncle is reluctant to tell, so we have to let things be a mystery for a while. Maybe he is a murderer, and he will kill Louis one day.

There is also a purple loving neighbor, Florence Zimmerman (Cate Blanchett), no relation to the Florida vigilante, who is hanging around, also involve in some sort of shenanigans.

Alright, okay, they are warlocks and witches. Not bad ones, not necessarily good either, but certainly not evil. And Louis is showing promise so, shoot, he can be one too.

No, this is not The Sorcerer’s Apprentice. This is the Warlock’s apprentice, damn it.

Also starring, Kyle MacLachlan, Renée Elise Goldsberry, Colleen Camp, Sunny Suljic, Lorenzza Izzo, and Vanessa Anne Williams.

Old people
“Hey, we’re cool, we’re hip, we know magic!”

To be honest, it has been a good while since I fell asleep during a movie in the theaters. The last one was probably Deadpool 2, I know, how dare I do that thing.

Well, when a movie is boring, its boring. I know I missed full scenes, because they referred back to them later in the movie. “What cemetary scene? A blood what?” I think to myself. Oh well, not important. Because of how slow the film decided to start, really going hard after that old time asthetic, we had to watch character development scenes that really don’t move the story forward.

At no point would I say are the school plot points really useful for this story. People don’t like him because he is new. Normal stuff. People don’t like him for being a nerd? Hard to say. Really, they don’t like him for wearing goddamn goggles. Take that shit off your head. Which another character even points off, but nah, need those goggles on.

The school scenes are all just to set up future movies that probably won’t happen. Even the normal plot line of finding a friend didn’t work out, defying no tropes along the way.

The movie feels overly polished and CGI heavy when we get to the magic aspects. The ending isn’t fun or exciting. It mostly feels like convenient moments after convenient moments to get to what they eventually call an ending.

Eli Roth tried to do a family film. I shouldn’t be too surprised at the low ranking, since he has been disappointing me with his R rated endeavors recently as well.

1 out of 4.

Song to Song

I have put off watching Song to Song as much as possible. At this point in my career, I am more likely to check out the director before watching an unknown movie for only one reason. To see if Terrence Malick was secretly the director.

Because if he is, I need to go into the movie with a completely different mindset than literally any other film.

I need to have hawk eyes to figure out just what the main plot of the film is going to be, especially when the narrators decide to switch on me, or even be from characters I never paid attention to.

No one else makes me waste my time like Malick. And I just need to know before seeing if a movie how mad I will be five minutes into it.

Lighs
Yeah, get that bitch some Christmas lights…

What do Ryan Gosling, Rooney Mara, Michael Fassbender, Natalie Portman, Cate Blanchett, Holly Hunter, Val Kimer, and Bérénice Marlohe have in common?

They are all in this series of maybe related scenes “film,” and have been tricked into working with Malick!

Dynamic
Look at all these dynamic camera shots!

2017 was a year of change for me. I gave up watching the Sharknado movies, because heck, they didn’t need my review saying they were shit on top of the pile of reviews saying they were shit, as it did nothing. Everyone agreed they were shit and I realized I can stop. I also gave up on the Transformers films, because fool me four times, then fuck me over.

I think…I think I might have to do it for Terrence Malick films. Which is a significant director still in the film community, so it is not something that I can say lightly. Or maybe I will never see them in theaters again, and only at home…where I can distract myself with my phone.

At this point when it comes to directors, I am still willing to watch things that Luc Besson has dealt with, even if I generally hate it all, whereas I feel like I will just burn into painful flames if I have to watch a complete Malick film.

They are all now just feeling the same at this point. I can’t imagine saying new stuff for the next film, I didn’t even really say new stuff for this film.

Song to Song is just home made movie trash.

0 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.

Knight of Cups

I cannot stand Terrence Malick films. No I haven’t seen a lot of them. I haven’t even seen The Thin Red Line.

But I have seen The Tree of Life and To The Wonder. The former I couldn’t get behind at all, despite some lovely visuals, and the latter was just a complete train wreck from my point of view.

Some people call him pompous, some just refer to him as art house, and I just cannot stand his movies as of right now. So sure, I will give Knight of Cups a chance. But I am going in with a huge bias on my shoulders that I cannot shake. I will never get the time I lost from To The Wonder. Never.

Metaphor1
Given the director, you have to assume every shot, no matter what, is actually a metaphor.

Also given the director, describing the plot of the film can be a bit tricky. So let’s run to IMDB for some help:

A writer indulging in all that Los Angeles and Las Vegas has to offer undertakes a search for love and self via a series of adventures with six different women.

Our writer is of course Rick (Christian Bale), whom is apparently good at his job and sought over, but he cares not about his job that much. He cares about his past and who he is going to fuck next. And that means he has more than six relationships in the film, as there are a lot of unnamed girls without speaking roles.

The six women include: Nancy (Cate Blanchett), his ex-wife, Elizabeth (Natalie Portman), a museum enthusiast, Helen (Freida Pinto), a model, Della (Imogen Poots), a free spirit, Karen (Teresa Palmer), a stripper from down under, and Isabel (Isabel Lucas), who, I dunno, likes beaches I guess. They all like beaches though. Beaches are kind of a big thing here.

Oh and he has family! Wes Bently plays his brother, Brian Dennehy his dad. Antonio Banderas has some role of significance, if you can call it that. But I don’t know what or why. Some rich guy.

Metaphor
There has never been a more metaphor-y beach.

I tried, I really did, to understand this movie from a different light. To think about the bigger themes that he might be getting at. To imagine the scenery as its own character. This was all advice people gave to me about Malick movies. Despite my hatred for the last two movies, I knew I had to watch this one do my best to review it fairly, because only watching movies I will probably like does not make me a great film critic.

But this movie just felt like a waste of time. It is two hours long and it felt like it was over three hours. The film felt like it was about to end three separate times before it finally showed the credits. The story that was told could have ended at any moment, because it is hard to say that there really was an actual ending they had in mind. It was all very spiritual and airy. Rarely do you see any character actually talking. Most of the dialogue is spoken over scenes of characters living and interacting with each other. And of course other dialogue is made by never seen characters, some talking poetically, or telling random stories, or…just who the hell knows.

Knight Of Cups is a confusing film. It is broken down into sections named after Tarot cards, which is also where the title comes from. And if you try hard, you might figure out why a section with the characters in it is called The Moon, or Freedom, or Death. Knight of Cups is presumably made so that you can derive your own opinions on the film based on what you get out of it.

And what I get out of it is a big waste of time. Sure, there are some well shot scenes. A whole lot of beaches, and some Californian mountains and death valley. But if I cared about well shot pictures of nature, I’d be watching Planet Earth, not a film that should have a basic story.

0 out of 4.

Carol

As it happens every year, this year I find myself lacking in the Best Actress potential nominee department. Somehow these films with strong lady leads allude me, it is probably cause I am a man.

But damn it, this year I got to see Carol before they announced Oscar nominations. Sure, it might presumptuous for me to assume that it will get nominated for anything, but it literally received two nominations for Best Actress for the Spirit Awards. One film, two spots of the five. That is pretty damn good. I admire that they didn’t try to shoe horn one of their leads into a supporting actress role, like plenty of films attempt depending on how crowded a potential category is. And after all, competing against yourself must feel a bit awkward. But for 40% of the nominees to be for Carol, I’d have to imagine at least one of them be given some love for the Academy Awards.

Not that strong independent women need to be shown anything at all, technically. Fuck, feminism is hard. What do I say? Just start the review? Okay okay.

Shop
See? I am so feminist, I won’t even mention that thing that is on Carol’s head.

Film is called Carol? Fine, I will talk about Therese (Rooney Mara) first then. Therese is young and living in her own apartment in NYC in 1949-51, I couldn’t figure out the year. She works part time at a department store for the Christmas holidays, selling dolls and trains. She has a cheap camera for taking photos, thinking she might be a photographer one day. She is dating a fine young boy, Richard Semco (Jake Lacy), who wants to marry her and taker he on vacations to Europe.

But then she meets Carol (Cate Blanchett). Carol is older and richer and lives out in New Jersey. She has a husband, Harge (Kyle Chandler) but they are getting a divorced, and a young daughter (played by Sadie Heim and Kk Heim. Yes twins, and no, Kk is not her official real name). Why divorce? Well, the love is gone. And Carol might have had “a thing” with the godmother, Abby (Sarah Paulson), Carol’s childhood friend. Yes, a thing means a romantic relationship, when she was already married, to a woman.

Well, due to reasons, Carol and Therese become friends, Therese never really knowing she could find a woman desirable. But this was set 65 years ago and that would not fly. In fact, it is very bad news for Carol’s divorce, as her husband is using her past moral indiscretions as reasons to file for full custody of their daughter, not joint. This wedge is meant to bring her back into the fold, but Carol would rather flee the North east to be away from him, to be herself, until the trial where hopefully it would all just be heresay. But she wants Therese to go with her. Travel west, see the country side. Enjoy each others company. You know. Regular road trip stuff.

Some other guys are in the movie, but they aren’t lesbians, so fuck them. John Magaro, Cory Michael Smith, and Nik Pajic.

Dance
I would be appalled as well dancing with Chandler.
You just know he is constantly whispering “Clear Eyes, Full Hearts, Can’t Lose” in her ear.

Carol was intricate, intimate, and insanely detailed [Editor’s Note: Yes, that was already covered by intricate.] Carol seems like the type of film that must be based on real events, with the actresses involved recreating the scenes word for word, smile for smile, as it happened in real life. From the first frame, you will begin to feel that old timey movie atmosphere wash over you. It feels like a film that literally came out of the 1950’s, but with the cameras used and credit style. Of course my own viewings of 1950’s cinema is excruciatingly low, so I am not a complete authority on that. But damn it, it still made me feel that way.

Since my rating is already obvious, my only real complaint about this film is that it took me quite a long time to get really involved with it. The beginning is slow, mostly the scenes of Therese without Carol where she is hanging out with her boyfriend and his friends. Yes it is important to establish her life outside of the future romance and not make her a love sick puppy, but they dragged on. Potentially on purpose, to show the boredom that had crept into her life.

But the scenes between Carol and Therese? Everything was golden. Their eyes, their body language, their tones. Fuck, I could stare at Rooney Mara starring at Cate Blanchett all day. It was that real. These two women were complete power houses in their own right. I can see them both being nominated for Best Actress for the Oscars as well, not just Blanchett for playing the titular role.

Carol will probably be in the running for Best Director as well. I think this is a heavy category this year, with Spotlight and The Revenant, but Todd Haynes completely dominated this film. Everything was on spot and meticulously planned. He is the type of guy who has great attention to detail, but isn’t insane about it like Wes Anderson.

Finally, if I wanted to be vague, I could describe this film as “Cate Blanchett has a mid life crisis, leaves her husband, and travels west” and you might think I was talking about Blue Jasmine. What’s that? Blanchett won Best Actress for that film? You don’t say.

3 out of 4.

Cinderella

Alright, fine. Disney is going full money grab. Disney Princess line is a success. Frozen has made multiple billions from sales and merchandise. They have bought Marvel and Star Wars. They want all the money on the planet, that is the only way to describe them right now.

Because if they keep making live action movies of their animated classics, they get to print even more stacks of cash out, keep up any copyrights they have (totally researched argument, this could be a false statement), and re design the character as see fit. After all, most of the early princesses are pretty passive people and terrible role models for women. They can make all of these women stronger independent ladies. They can make the movies more exciting or just tell a better story.

The first attempt was Maleficent, which I thought was terrible. The changes they made (all of it) were terrible, and instead of getting a bamf villain, we got a misunderstood fairy who spent a third of the movie just watching a girl grow up. We are getting Beauty and the Beast which I already have issues with casting wise, but I will tease and not talk about it until that review comes out in 2016 or whenever.

So now we have Cinderella, which for the most part, looks to be the exact same story. Maybe some more details, but exactly the same story with all of the same songs. Wait, what, no songs?

Ball
We are just getting fancy dancing? WHO WILL SERENADE ME?

Ah little Ella (Lily James). Living on her slightly big house with servants and shit. A loving family. Her dad (Ben Chaplin) is a merchant w ho goes on trips a lot, leaving her with just her mother. Did I say mother? Just kidding. She died. She told her to always be good and nice to people, because that was her gift.

Eventually the dad was feeling a bit lonely and he also wanted to be nice. So he heard about a lady who needed help, who was also now a Widow with two daughters. He wanted to marry her and move them in so that Ella would have friends and a family again.

Hah. Just kidding. New mother is a bitch (Cate Blanchett). New sisters are whiny bitches (Sophie McShera, Holliday Grainger). And of course her dad kicks the bucket too while he is out on a trip. Fuuuuuuuuuuck.

So they are poor now. They have to let go all their workers leaving just poor old Ella to make the food, clean the dishes, and help her “family” have some sort of luxury. She is too gosh darned nice.

So when the local Prince (Richard Madden) is going to have a ball to find a wife before the King (Derek Jacobi) croaks. Of course Ella can’t go because of bitches. Then we have a fairy godmother (Helena Bonham Carter), transformations, glass slippers, running, big search, and maybe some more shenanigans you don’t even know about.

Also with Stellan Skarsgård as a Duke and Nonso Anozie as a captain! Wait, no, his name is officially Captain it looks like.

Step
Yep, none of them are blonde, therefore they are all evil.

It turns out, Cinderella doesn’t have a lot going on with its plot. I mean, in its basic form, girl is living with step family, doesn’t get to have fun. Some magic happens, she gets to have fun, and a Prince saves her and they live happily ever after. Not a whole lot going on for Ella. She just cleans a lot and is really nice. Fuck, so many times watching the movie, I was just thinking that she should just lock her fucking house doors when they go out to town and be done with it all.

But her niceness meant she just had to get shit on for years or months or however long the time line happened? Man. What a beta.

Okay, boring character aside. Boring plot aside. They don’t really change anything at all from a story sixty five years ago. They have a bit more back story and some more late game scheming, but literally nothing new and so it isn’t a surprise.

The only people who seem to have any amount of personality are the bad guys!

But despite all of it, is is indeed a pretty movie. Visually stunning, outside of one terrible CGI scene involving the pumpkin to carriage (it was gross and the humans looked fake during it), it was just an incredibly beautiful film. They really did great work in the costume and make up department, so you can expect an Oscar nomination there. Overall though, just too much filler and time wasting, especially at the ball.

Also, I feel uncomfortable with Skarsgård having a biggish role in a PG movie after seeing Nymphomaniac.

2 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.

How To Train Your Dragon 2

For those with a lot of courage, you may have seen my review for How To Train Your Dragon. Why courage? because that review is old and weak and it certainly shows. It is weak because it was one of my first 100, which I made in like a month by adding words from my facebook status reviews that they came from. And because I tried really hard to avoid spoilers that basically didn’t exist.

Basically, parts near the end bugged me so much it lowered an overall fantastic movie to a meh movie. I still haven’t rewatched it for that reason.

But now we have the sequel, How To Train Your Dragon 2. This one perfectly allows for the crap that happened in the first to not happen again, because now we are based with the assumption that dragons are awesome, and we should train them.

Flight
Yeah. So you can stoically sit on top of them doing zero tricks. Good job, guy.

Set five years after the events of the first film, Hiccup (Jay Baruchel) is still a god amongst mortals in his small Viking town. Although technically not immortal, he does have cyborg parts now and a flame sword. So I mean, basically. He has his dragon, and now he is exploring more and more areas outside of the small town. After all, with dragons they now have the ability to explore, because Vikings rarely explored on their own.

While exploring he finds…dragon nappers! And giant sheets of unnatural ice through a fort. The nappers are lead by Erit (Kit Harington), who is collecting dragons with his crew for the great and powerful Drago Bludvist (Djimon Hounsou). A mad man who claims to be able to control all of the dragons and wants to use them to take over the world. Your typical desires from an awkwardly darker skin character than everyone else in an animated movie.

Oh no!

It becomes up to Hiccup to use his excellent cyborg dragon abilities, and excellent sized human heart, to save the day. Especially if he can use the help of the mysterious dragon lady (Cate Blanchett), who you already know everything about if you watched the trailers. But in case you didn’t, you are welcome.

A lot of returning characters, such as his dad (Gerard Butler), the smithy (Craig Ferguson), his lady friend (America Ferrera) and his other friends (Jonah Hill, Kristen Wiig, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, T.J. Miller). And of course, dragons.

Drago
And that is how I met and trained your dragon master’s mother.

First off, after the success of the first movie, DreamWorks starting thinking long term about this as a new franchise. So they put into development this sequel and a third film, at the same time. Which is why there was a four year delay between 1 and 2 (heavy CGI movies take a long time if done right (meaning not Planes)), but only two years before the third movie comes out.

Speaking of DreamWorks, I have hated or thought meh towards their last six movies. That is insane. Literally haven’t had a winner since Kung Fu Panda 2. Thankfully, How To Train Your Dragon 2 turned that downward spiral around. And I don’t just mean clockwise to counterclockwise, I mean up. Like a daring dragon flying maneuver.

This sequel has a lot going on for it. The CGI is extraordinary, which is probably too fancy of a word to describe it, but it really is gorgeous. They spent a lot of time and detail on every character, every scene, every dragon. Speaking of detail, the backgrounds of scenes are rarely pointless. They either showcase great scenes, or have hidden jokes and tomfoolery going on in the background as other characters are talking. It was awesome.

Bonus
To avoid this wall of text, here is a bonus picture. Just. No. Bonus. Joke.

There is a lot of humor, there is a lot of character growth, there are more than one touching moments, and there is a lot of daring fight scenes. In fact, there were some terrifying scenes, and some darker moments, including some potentially heavy material for a PG movie. One drowning scene in particular still makes me shudder.

I will say there are some issues I found in terms of messages they are trying to convey. I think some parts of the ending directly contradict information said earlier in the film, a similar message given to us by Pokemon: The First Movie – Mewtwo Strikes Back.

But overall? Shit, this thing is enjoyable. Minor moral issues aren’t a big problem. The 3D only seemed blurry in the first scene of the film, so that is good.

For those who have saw it, I made a theory halfway through the movie on how the third one might go, and the ending seemed to solidify it. I’d love to talk to anyone in private about my theory, but if it goes the way I hope, then yeah, it will be epic. But this is all jibberjabber at this point. Awesome flick, and probably going to be one of the top 3 animated movies this year (to go with The LEGO Movie, and The BoxTrolls, based on its fantastic trailers alone).

4 out of 4.

The Monuments Men

Finally, it is February, which means theaters are allowed to show good new movies again! Both The Monuments Men and The Lego Movie are out the same weekend, which adds some credit to the theory that studios literally wait to release their movies right outside of January, to separate themselves from the junk.

This movie in particular has an all-star cast, directed by George Clooney (his fifth overall), and a World War II story. Yeah, it has a lot going for them.

Group
Typical rag tag group of men to save the day.

The Monuments Men tells the true story of a group of seven men, mostly art historians, curators, and museum directors, who join up with the Allied forces to preserve culture and art that might be destroyed during World War II. Most of these men are old, or out of shape, but they believe in their goal, and convinced the men in charge to let them help.

They were brought together by Frank Stokes (George Clooney), who had the idea after they almost lost The Last Supper when the UK bombed a city. His hand picked team included James Granger (Matt Damon), a painter, Richard Campbell (Bill Murray), an architect, Walter Garfield (John Goodman), a sculptor, Preston Savitz (Bob Balaban), a historian. They also have Donald Jeffries (Hugh Bonneville) and Jean Claude Clermont (Jean Dujardin), a British officer and a French man, for culture purposes. They are later joined by Sam Epstein (Dimitri Leonidas), a German translator.

These men split up around the war front from 1943-1945 searching for lost and stolen treasures. The Germans hid the art in their country and intended to destroy them should Hitler be killed. They also are racing against the Russians, who have lost so many men in the war that any stolen art they find they will steal right back and keep for themselves as a sort of reparations.

Also starring Cate Blanchett, as a very convincing French art curator, who really enjoys a nice painting. Like. A lot.

Murray Giant
Bill Murray looks like a fucking giant in this movie.

Well drat. Turns out, The Monuments Men ended up being the antithesis to That Awkward Moment. If you remember, That Awkward Moment looked bad, but turned out to be decent.

Clooney took an interesting piece of history, put in great actors, and gave us a mediocre movie overall. It is incredibly disappointing that this movie wasn’t amazing, but I have to make sure my review still accurately reflects the overall quality, and not just say it is bad because I am feeling betrayed.

This movie did surprise me in a few ways. One, I saw Murray give a real and convincing cry, which I definitely did not see coming. I don’t think I have ever seen that man cry, it was heartfelt, and I almost teared up as well. Two, I did learn about some famous art pieces in Europe, and it is awesome how close they came to being destroyed/lost forever. Three, there isn’t a number three.

All of the funny moments made it into the trailer, leaving not a lot more for the movie. That is incredibly disappointing, as it was advertised a comedy, with not a lot of laughs. The rest of the movie was slower and more dramatic, but most of the times I didn’t really care enough about the individual characters to care what was happening to them.

The Monuments Men will be forgotten with time. It was a decently acted movie, certainly not bottom of the barrel in terms of quality, it just didn’t have a lot more going on for it.

 

2 out of 4.

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