The Nutcracker and the Four Realms

I saw a trailer for The Nutcracker and the Four Realms, I was astounded by the screen in front of me.

I honestly didn’t know this was a movie coming out, and my first impression was, “…is this another goddamn Alice in Wonderland movie sneaking its way out?”

I have an easily hate relationship with those two movies. Alice in Wonderland was telling a story so awkward, because it decided to be a secret sequel, and Through the Looking Glass is just legit one of the worst films I have ever seen.

This film just seemed to be equally CGI heavy, with a British slant, and some sort of fantasy uncomfortable world.

But why a CGI fantasy movie about the nutcracker? Was there clammoring for a nutcracker based movie? I mean, it seems to only be loosely based on the play/ballet as well. It certainly is not going to be a ballet showcase. So, a serious non dancing version of a famous dance? Like…Why.

That would be like taking a Tony award winning musical and turning it into a not really musical movie. A very poor decision.

Group
Speaking of poor decisions…the agents of these famous people!

This yarn is about a girl named Clara (Mackenzie Foy) who is really smart and charming in her own way. The kind of girl that boys will chase later in life when she is successful, not when boys are stupid and in school. Her mom died in the last year, and that made things really sad. She has an older sister (Ellie Bamber), a younger brother (Tom Sweet), and a dad (Matthew Macfadyen) who is trying to keep things normal by avoiding the issue almost completely.

So they are taken to a big Christmas Eve ball party for their British aristocratic friends and neighbors. Clara had received an early present before the ball of an egg with a lock, but no key. Her mom had left it for her before she died. Clara is more focused on the key than silly dances.

And sure enough, thanks to the plot, at some point Clara wanders into a different wintry world. No, this is not a world with lions and witches and wardrobes. This one has nutcrackers, mice that seem extremely intelligent, toy soldiers, and sugar plum fairies (Keira Knightley). A world of four lands that have come together to be swell together, or something. A land that her mom used to be the queen of and now it is her time to lead! Once she gets the key and fixes a few issues of course.

Also starring Eugenio Derbez, Richard E. Grant, Morgan Freeman, Helen Mirren, and also Jayden Fowora-Knight as a major role, his second role after Boy Playing Tennis in Ready Player One.

Rats
“Go my rat minions! Go and steal the cheese!”

The Nutcracker and the Four Realms…first, the title is terrible. Honestly, why did they not just call it The Nutcracker? That is good, iconic enough, and can get those ballet people in. This title is too hard. THE nutcracker and THE four realms. The first THE could be cut out and it works better. But they wanted the play title too badly. And the second half? The four realms? That does nothing for anyone.

Alright, this is a movie about the nutcracker and four kingdoms. Will we have very location specific places? Different worlds? One of candy, one flowers, one of ice? Yeah, probably. But guess what. Most of the film that takes place in our magical land, takes place just at a castle and one of the realms that is now forsaken.

I have no clue if the “castle” is actually one of the realms or not. Because we don’t do a damn thing with the other 2-3 realms. Why the fuck is the title and advertising focusing on four realms, when we don’t even get to play in four realms? What are they setting up? What is the point?

And the point is nothing. There seems to be very little point in this movie. I guess it is about a young girl who has to use her daring and smarts to save the day. Save the day of a fantasy kingdom that has relatively low stakes. And that effects her regular life about zero. Where no one is close to dying, and everything just feels…flighty.

Speaking of flighty, the only strong connection to the Nutcracker ballet (besides aspects of the story) is the soundtrack, which features music from the nutracker. Some of it is obvious, a lot you may not notice, but they did not fit the story that great. If the music takes out of the story, then it might not be doing its job.

Near the end, a scene with a giant robot fighting toy soldiers (sigh, yes) spliced with other action shenanigans ends up feeling dead. It felt like an unfinished movie. There was no sense of dread or suspense, and it just didn’t feel like it matched what was supposed to be an intense scene.

And you know what? To top it all off? There was a small dance scene to music, where the characters involved were dancing a waltz. But the music was not a waltz song. Come on guys. You’re not even trying.

This film is forgettable, regrettable, and probably something that Disney is really going to bury in the future. I expect no sequels, no great toy tie ins, and just a lot of disappointment from everyone involved.

0 out of 4.

The Fate of the Furious

Okay, let’s start this with my fast and the furious order of liking the films.

1, 5, 3, 7, 6, 4, 2.

And now that I have seen The Fate of the Furious, I would either put it after 7, or after 6. The trend continues, that I would have mentioned in a few of the previous F&F reviews I have done.

The even ones are not as good as the odd ones. It is science, bitch!

Pull
I think this is also some science.

F8 begins with Dom (Vin Diesel) and Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) in Havana, Cuba on a honeymoon. A honeymoon! Hooray! And it comes complete with a street race so absurd and contradictory, you can accept anything else the film has to offer.

While walking around, Dom runs into a stranded woman. Car problems, sucks to suck. Turns out it was a trap, this lady is named Cipher (Charlize Theron) (A name that always means villain in any movie that features it), and she has something to blackmail Dom with. She needs him to run a mission, he can’t tell anyone, and yes, it will involve betraying his friends and loved ones to do it. But part of the film is learning about the mystery, so why would I tell you now?

We have a lot of returning characters, including: Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson), Tej (Ludacris), Roman (Tyrese Gibson), Ramsey (Nathalie Emmanuel), Deckard (Jason Statham) and Owen Shaw (Luke Evans), Elena (Elsa Pataky) and Mr. Nobody (Kurt Russell). For some reason, no Brian, although he is mentioned a ton.

But also new characters! Mainly featuring Little Nobody (Scott Eastwood), underling of Mr. Nobody who is going to be geared towards our new Brian, Rhodes (Kristofer Hivju), Cipher’s main muscle, and Helen Mirren doing something or another.

Sub
Ending with Mirren is like popping out a secretive submarine out of nowhere, right car guys?!

What is it like to enjoy this movie? I truly cannot fathom it. It seems to be plagued with issues, from ridiculous character decisions, to plot points, to plot twists. I understand that not every character should be smart, but this group of people has now turned into an international task force that deals with apparently world ending problems, so they have to have some intelligence.

But instead we get a main character who says that ¨It doesn matter what is under the hood, but who is behind the wheel¨ before a street race. So when he is called out on that quote and given a shitty car, what does he do? A whole lot of quick modifications in order to change what is under the hood. Ah, thanks Dom, so it does matter, okay.

And that was just the beginning of the film, with the rest of the movie falling straight in line with those scenes.

We have a few mentions of Brian, but terrible reasons for not involving him. We have returning bad guys, meaning you actually have to remember the inane plots from previous films, and then watch as these bad guys gain sudden redeeming qualities and everything is fine again. We get a build up of a big fight, and it never gets to occur.

And again, we get poor decision after poor decision. In one of the above pictures we have all the cars driving in reverse to keep the middle car in place. Before that, they were just breaking to keep him stopped. But at this point in the film I had to scratch my head, wondering what their plan was going to be to actually stop him, because keeping him in place with a lot of moving tires is clearly not a good idea with no end goal. Before this scene we had a great idea with cars being hacked and forced to get in the way and block up traffic, but for whatever reason, that tactic had to be thrown out of the window for these scenes.

And you know what? The ending explosion and save rivals Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. That might sound harsh, but it is true.

Some amusing banter aside, if you like superhero films where there power is driving and surviving explosions, while also having lower than average intelligence, you will enjoy The Fate of the Furious.

1 out of 4.

Collateral Beauty

Have you seen the trailer to Collateral Beauty? Well, please do so. Here is one and here is another. They are both great. I saw it first a few months ago and knew I had to see that movie, right away preferably.

It has actors I like in it, the story looks neat, and looks like a perfect holiday film, without being cheesy Christmas. And it looks like it would make me cry.

But man, it turns out this movie is incredibly fucked up and inappropriate.

Love
Ah love, Knightley knows all about that one.

Like I said, please watch the trailer. Now here is the real plot.

Yes, Howard (Will Smith) used to be good at his job. He ran an advertising firm, preached that every ad should speak to three absolutes: Love, Time or Death, and people loved him. And then, he had his daughter die. Now, the majority of the film takes place TWO YEARS LATER. And now, he is still dealing with his grief. He is barely audible, he spends most of the time just making dominoes just to knock them down, not even looking at them as they fall.

And this leaves most of the company to his three main friends/colleagues. Whit (Edward Norton), Claire (Kate Winslet), and Simon (Michael Peña). Whit is recently divorced and his pre-teen daughter hates him. Claire wants to maybe get a surrogate baby. And Simon, well, Simon might be dying.

All of them have their own issues, but they are still doing their jobs, and right now their company is failing. They have an offer to sell their company though, for $17 a share, which is more than what they really are worth! They just need Howard’s approval, but he refuses to do anything. So they think, sure, maybe they can just show he isn’t right in the head to make decisions without him.

So they develop a scheme, hire a P.I. (Ann Dowd), and she finds out that he has sent letters to Love, Death, and Time. Whit decides that the best option now is to hire actors to be these three entities, make him look crazy in public, record the display, digitally remove the actors, and bam, they can sell the company and do good things.

Yay morals. Featuring Helen Mirren, Keira Knightley, and Jacob Latimore as the actors, and Naomie Harris as a grief counselor.

Suit
Two of these characters are considered more of a main character than Will Smith.

My eyes could not believe what I was seeing. I had to both shake my head and put it in my palms at various points in the film. What trailer did I see and why did it lie so hardcore to get viewers?

Oh yeah. Money.

I haven’t seen a trailer so deceptive of a movie since Hercules, but in that case it was a nice surprise. It didn’t change the plot of the film. In this case, people go in expecting a heart warming tale and get a story about very dickish people and they don’t get punishment. Seriously. There may still be heart warming elements, but they come to people who are not worthy of our sympathy.

Here is a fact. Yes. I teared up a bit in the film. But making me cry does not a good movie make. It is frankly really easy to do nowadays, especially if part of the plot involves a dead daughter. But I cried during Jem and the Holograms and could still see its shitty elements.

Look, trailer lies aside, the main ending after all of it is pretty easy to figure out. Except for one element and that is because it doesn’t make any sense. It could have maybe been considered an okay film, but I have to shake my head about the last final reveal. It seems tacked on and never explained, and makes me question how it even got to that point. Almost as bad as the reveal at the end of Now You See Me.

There are a lot of big names in this film and I was really excited to see it after I saw the trailer. But it is easy work for basically everyone involved. Smith feels like a supporting character until the end of the movie. No one is giving I their all and everyone seems to be collecting an quick paycheck.

Collateral Beauty is emotionally manipulative while being morally terrible. That is not a good combination anywhere. And especially not around the holidays.

1 out of 4.

Eye In The Sky

Sigh, my first review of an Alan Rickman film since his passing.

Unlike other stars, Rickman only had two films in post production at the time of his death. This film, Eye in the Sky, and Alice Through the Looking Glass, which he is just the voice of the caterpillar.

That makes Eye in the Sky his last live action role, so arguably his last film ever. Such a shame, because these films tend to be a bit stinky, and not knowing anything about the plot, I doubt it will have a good send off for his character like they had for Robin Williams in Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb. Heck, or even anything like Paul Walker in Furious 7.

No, this will probably just be a normal role, nothing fancy, but hopefully not forgettable. Because screw the Alice movie.

BB
Rest in peace you beautiful bastard.

Drone warfare. A lot of problems with it, morally, ethically, and so on. It basically can turn war into a video game, where we have no one on the other side getting hurt, and we can hurt them without impunity. Terrorist in a house? Bomb the house! If the house had civilians in it, then whoops! And then we move on.

Eye in the Sky is about one fictional attack.

Colonel Katherine Powell (Helen Mirren) is a British agent who has been leading a task force looking for Ayesha AL-Hady (Lex King) and a few other people on their East African most wanted list. Ayesha is actually a British citizen who has gone against her country to become a terrorist in Nigeria. They hear about a meeting between her, her husband (also in the top 5 wanted list), and a few others taking place. So they get the local Nigerian police force to help them set up a sting, with their “eyes in the sky” coming from an American drone, piloted by Steve Watts (Aaron Paul).

But things don’t go as they have planned. A few of them get in a car and change meeting location to a heavily militarized neighborhood, so the Nigerians cannot enter without starting a huge battle with many casualties. This was supposed to be a capture mission for these people to stand trial. A local Jama Farah (Barkhad Abdi) has to go undercover with a tiny bug drone to see inside the new house, where they find the members of their list, and material for suicide bomb vests. Shit. This changes everything. If they are setting up to go blow up a shopping center, maybe hundreds of lives are at stake. And since they cannot get a force in their easily, they might just have to bomb the building.

Can they do that? Can they go from a capture to a kill mission? Do they have clearance? Does the fact that American and British citizens in the house change things? Or, how bout the presence of a little neighborhood girl, selling bread right outside of the house? Well, jeez. I wouldn’t want to have to make these decisions, and apparently most other people in this film agree.

A lot of people are in this. On the British soldier/bureaucrat side we have: Iain Glen, Babou Ceesay, Alan Rickman, Monica Dolan, Jeremy Northam, and Richard McCabe. Some of our Americans are played by Phoebe Fox and Gavin Hood (the director)! And our locals on the ground crew and its citizens are: Ebby Weyime, Armaan Haggio, Aisha Takow, Faisa Hassan, and Vusi Kunene.

Gaming
His gamer tag has to be “CaptainNow,” just look at him!

Yes, this really is a film just about a single fictional drone strike, and a whole lot of people talking about it. In terms of action scenes, there is really only one actual scene. It had running and guns firing and lasted mere minutes. The rest of the film was talking, and people waiting to talk.

And it was somehow the most intense feeling ever. I was literally on the edge of my seat throughout the film, only leaning back when I had to laugh nervously or get a small “whew’ in before something else went wrong. A rollercoaster of words.

You will get mad at characters, cheer certain ones on, and then quickly change your mind five minutes later. They really examine this whole situation, and every time a wrench is throne, it is unbelievable.

But the best part of Eye in the Sky, is that it never really says that one way is right and the other is wrong. Yes, a decision is made, and the decision affects dozens of people, not including those who are actually in Nigeria. It gave a lot of respect to both arguments for drone strikes, way more than say, London Has Fallen, who just hamfisted its opinion into us with a scream of “FREEDOM!”

Good news Alan Rickman. Your last live action film didn’t suck. Now if you will excuse me, I am going to go marathon Harry Potter and cry everytime.

3 out of 4.

Trumbo

Trumbo! The great white buffalo! Of the main acting awards, this is the final film I needed to see to complete the categories.

I missed it when it came out in November, because, I dunno, I was busy or something. I didn’t care to see it. I figured it wouldn’t get nominated, no matter how much I like Bryan Cranston.

But hey, he did get nominated for best actor. And with a mustache! It is basically what Johnny Depp was doing with Mortdecai. That is the movie in 2015 he wanted to win Best Actor for right? I can’t think of any other film.

Erm. Trumbo! True story! Communists! Time to party! Red Party.

Bribe
That’s a communist joke and damn it, that is probably a communist dress too.

Back to Trumbo, or Dalton Trumbo (Cranston) as everyone everywhere calls him. He lives a good life. He is one of the most successful writers in Hollywood. He has contracts with movie studios to write exclusively for them, meaning that his family can live a nice life. That is of course his wife (Diane Lane), main daughter (eventually Elle Fanning) and two other kids who we don’t care about.

But he has a secret. A very vocal secret. He cares about the rights of the workers. Any workers technically, but specifically the Hollywood workers who don’t make money and should make more instead of the Hollywood fat cats. He is a…a…a…COMMUNIST. And there are a bunch of them too. This is now the late 40s and people are starting to get afraid of the Commies, thanks to the Russians and the coldness of their threats. So they try and round up all the communists in Hollywood and KILL THEM! No, not kill them, but black list them. Refuse to let them work in movies ever again. After all, if they are writing their movies, they could be putting subliminal communist things into mainstream America and fuck us from the inside! That would be terrifying.

And Trumbo is about how this man and his friends decided to try and fight for their first amendment rights. And to work despite the blacklist through aliases, friends, or by boldly ignoring the threats of others. Guess how many Oscars Trumbo won while black listed? Three. He was basically penning the “Fuck The Police” song well before the boys in Straight Outta Compton.

And of course we have more people in this movie: John Goodman and Stephen Root are brothers who make a shit ton of B movies. David James Elliott plays JOHN WAYNE. Louis C.K. is a fellow writer commie, Alan Tudyk is a fellow writer, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje is a prison man, and Helen Mirren and Michael Stuhlbarg fuck some shit up.

Press
It is rumored that Cranston was able to grow out the ‘Stashe in just 3 minutes.

Despite my wildly successful movie watching lifestyle, I am super behind on almost everything before 1990. I only barely have the 80’s covered, and everything before that is pitiful. So if I can watch a modern movie telling me about movies back in the day, I consider it a win. I have never seen Roman Holiday or The Brave One, but you bet your ass I have seen Spartacus. Getting to hear behind the scenes stories of how these films were written and what they had to do to hide Trumbo’s name was fascinating. It is probably the sexiest thing I have ever heard of when talking about 1950’s Hollywood writers.

Cranston gave a pretty good performance. I am not willing to call it incredible. I saw a lot of Cranston that I have seen in other roles, and I never really saw someone other than himself. I didn’t feel like he ever fully transformed into the man he was playing, not even when he was sitting in the bathtub. I can say it was my least favorite of the Best Actor nominee performances, and would probably rather someone like Steve Carell or Mark Ruffalo from Infinitely Polar Bear.

C.K. and Lane both did excellent jobs with their supporting characters, although Lane wasn’t given a lot to work with.

Story wise, again, there were a lot of interesting moments, but I will say I got confused a few times at a lot of the extra characters, who they were supposed to be, whose side people were on, and just why they were relevant. There are a lot of extra characters here with important roles, too many to list and name, and yeah. I can’t remember most of them. Thankfully it was only small bits of confusion and I could still easily grasp the main points of the story.

3 out of 4.

Woman In Gold

I felt a bit bad, reviewing Self/Less, talking about how it was Ryan Reynold‘s forth movie for the year, and realizing that I skipped two of them in the process, only reviewing The Voices.

I’m sorry Ryan. We’re still cool right? I am going to make it up to you by reviewing Woman In Gold right away (whenever this gets posted). For your non-Ryan Reynolds readers out there, yes, I am almost certain Ryan reads these reviews. Don’t be jelly.

Despite the lateness of this review, after watching two disappointing films about a Woman in Black, I am excited to see what one wearing Gold can pull off.

painting
Oh no, she has some black on her as well! Oh nooooo!

Tie your shoes, folks. There are Nazis in this movie.

This film takes place during World War II and during modern times! As you may have heard, the Nazis stole a lot of artwork during the wars. There was a very mediocre movie about protecting that artwork. And at least one Simpsons episode about having stolen artwork! This is about one woman’s true story to get a painting back.

You see, Maria Altmann (Helen Mirren) is from Austria, but when she was a young girl she was played by Tatiana Manslany. Her Aunt was beautiful and also the subject of the very real Woman In Gold painting! Well, to make a long story short, they had to flee the city thanks to the Nazis, some people were killed, and in a will from the Aunt, the painting was donated to an Austrian museum and is now considered a national treasure.

But the will shouldn’t be legal, as it wasn’t the Aunt’s painting to give! And since Maria is the only family left, she wants her dang painting back, because it belongs to her family and it is the right thing to do.

However, she needs help. So she gets some random inexperienced lawyer (Reynolds) to work on their case. And so they have to go back to Austria, then America, then a lot of American courts, then Austrian courts, and eventually hey they win and she gets the painting back the end. This is the only expected outcome, if you didn’t know that this true story would end happy, you are silly.

Also staring Daniel Brühl, Max Irons, and Katie Holmes in the role of “wife to important character that isn’t an important role” that is quite common in…so many damn movies.

law
In this movie, Reynolds acts as a man with imperfect vision.

Woman In Gold is not everything you’d expect it to be, but actually a bit less. If anything, the trailer makes it looks like it would be an exciting courtroom drama, about freedoms and the right thing happening. About taking down the big bad country lawyers with a small town boy, in a trial worth millions!

Unfortunately, the whole story seems to take a backstage to a few flashbacks in Austria, about love, war, and paintings. Very little characterization is given to the now. Instead it is all set in the past, with characters the viewer will care a lot less about. We already know what more or less happens in Austria at the start of the film. Our main character lands in America, her family has to die for the painting to be taken, and you know, World War II. But at least a third or more of the film takes place in the flashbacks, leaving me bored and ready for excitement.

And excitement I thought I was finally about to get with 40 minutes left! We had a real court scene coming up. Time for witnesses, deliberation, objections, and yelling! Maybe some bribes too. No, none of that. All of the court scenes are incredibly short, dealing with maybe one issue, and then they move on. The reason we get so many court scenes is just because of all the levels of court they have to go through: to the USA Supreme Court then back to Austria.

And it is the dullest of experiences. The real life story probably has some exciting moments, but they go an incredibly safe route with the entire film and instead we get a boring disaster. And the worst part is, Reynolds and Mirren do a fine job acting in this movie. Too bad no one would care by the end.

1 out of 4.

The Hundred-Foot Journey

One hundred feet is not a big deal, in most cases. One case where it is a super big deal is if that is the number and units of the pile in your living room. That’d be pretty gross.

Another time when it would be a hard distance to cross is if racism was involved. Which is one the The Hundred-Foot Journey seems to be about. Classic European Racism, cooking, and good old fashioned stereotypes.

Does it get any better than this?

Car Ride
Look! A big Indian family cramped in a van! Hilarious!

Papa (Om Puri) and his family used to have a nice restaurant in India. It was very popular and his wife taught one his sons, Hassan (Manish Dayal), all the secrets to spicing food right and how to cook. Unfortunately, I used the past tense and they lost the restaurant in some…voting riot thing? They also loss the mom and somehow out of this got a fat stack of cash to start a new life somewhere. Leaving Mumbai, they go to England but it sucks there. So instead they go to the main part of Europe, driving around, looking for good vegetables and a community to get a new house and start a new restaurant.

Well, their breaks kind of freak out near a small town, and that is where Papa is inspired. There is an abandoned building, complete with inner courtyard, perfect for Indian food. It is just right across the street from a One Michelin Star restaurant, led by Madame Mallory (Helen Mirren). These small town French people are not used to Indian food or culture, so it seems like a terrible idea, but the Papa insists to spend his money his way.

So they do that. It causes competition. The restaurants rage war. Some racism may occur. Dirty tactics are used. But Hassan just wants to fight. And f–, err, and befriend Marguerite (Charlotte Le Bon), one of the sous chefs across the street. But even eventually Mallory won’t be able to deny Hassan’s talents, offering to teach him even more skills, so that one day he might even conquer the world.

Other family members of Hassan’s are played by Amit Shah, Farzana Dua Elahe, Aria Pandya, and Dillon Mitra. We also have Clement Sibony and Michel Blanc to add real french people to the mix.

Sex
This reminds me of that one scene in Ghost. You know the one. Yep.

The Hundred-Foot Journey aims to be a feel good movie about cooking and overcoming obstacles! However, everything feels so rushed (And thus, undetailed) that it plot of the movie seems to almost change every 20-30 minutes, leading to a lack of focus. That is my analysis in a nut shell.

Basically it starts off as the feuding between restaurants. Mirren sees the error of the ways and then they become all nice nice the rest of the film. Then it becomes Hassan learning from the nice restaurant and helping add his own styles to the cooking scene and helping them do good. Then he moves on from that as well and experiences life away from family and friends, doing even more innovative cooking on much grander scales.

Not a lot of that aspect is shown in the trailer. Basic plot description is too feuding restaurants. Despite being two hours, that and every other part feels rushed. In fact, after opening night of the Indian restaurant, they literally never show them having customers again. I guess they didn’t have issues or worries, even when they lost their main chef? Apparently they were doing okay and that didn’t matter anymore.

I also really hated the ending. It seemed to contradict what the first half of the movie was about. Clearly it was about not judging people/groups/foods by their cover and giving things a shot. That all methods of cooking are unique and special and worthy. Yet the end felt like it went against that message. It was really weird. I hated it and by achieving their own self morals, it just seemed fake and plastic at the end.

Also, for a movie about cooking, there is an awful lot of this movie without showing cool food dishes. An inspirational tale that doesn’t know what it wants to really inspire.

1 out of 4.

Red 2

When it was released, Red received pretty decent reviews from critics but didn’t do amazing at the box office. It made up for it in DVD/Blu-Ray sales though, gaining a small cult following, which is why they green-lit the sequel, surprisingly named Red 2.

The main notable difference between the two is that this one doesn’t have Morgan Freeman. For shame.

Malko
Although, as you can see from the picture, it has a lot of John Malkovich being very very John Malkovichy.

The movie begins with Frank (Bruce Willis) and Sarah (Mary-Louise Parker) trying to build a home together. Frank is retired (and still extremely dangerous) but he wants to put his past behind him. Too bad Marvin (John Malkovich) comes prancing in, warning him that he thinks someone is trying to kill them.

Well, it turns out there actually are people trying to kill them! Reports have surfaced that they are nuclear terrorists, who are trying to take out Russia. In fact, the CIA are trying to take them in, including their main man Jack Horton (Neal McDonough, who looks like the white Robert Ri’chard), who has hired the world’s best assassin Han Cho Bai (Byung-hun Lee). The MI6 are sending their old friend Victoria (Helen Mirren), and Russia has Frank’s former fling, Katja (Catherine Zeta-Jones). Sarah doesn’t like Katja.

So Frank, Sarah, and Marvin have to work together and find Dr. Bailey (Anthony Hopkins), a brilliant war scientist who has been kept in the loony bin for over thirty years. Together, they hope to clear their name, and possibly stop a nuclear bomb from taking out a huge populatio of the world.

Gun
I decided to not talk about John Malkovich with my second image.

I don’t think you need to see Red in order to understand Red 2. All you have to know is that Frank and Sarah met in the first film, and everyone else has a huge history with everyone else. If you had to only pick one to watch, go with the original.

Red 2 isn’t bad per say, but it just doesn’t seem to care too much. Sure, it is entertaining, and funny at times, but not a lot happens overall. They are framed fugitives being hunted by the top governments around the world, yet they still have time to walk around Paris and go shopping. It just seemed odd and ruined the flow of the movie for me. The ending chase scene ended up being really predictable as well.

Red 2, just like R.I.P.D. had its enjoyable moments and was entertaining, just not something I would ever recommend to see more than once. I think Red 2 is not really based on the graphic novel like the first movie. Instead it is based on whatever the writer felt like. I usually don’t care how close a movie is to its source material, but I think in this case, they really didn’t know what to do with their characters. Because of that, it just felt like a mess.

John Malkovich is brilliant as always, and a bit more insane than normal. Malkovich is the main reason to see Red 2, and the only real reason.

2 out of 4.

Monsters University

I will say this right up front: I was not looking forward to Monsters University at all. First off, I thought the first film, Monsters Inc. was only okay. More importantly, I think doing prequels is generally very lazy writing. Monsters Inc. gave us not only a lot of character development, but also entire society development. Doing a prequel basically says fuck you, we are going to ignore all of that change and go back to the original ideas from our movie instead.

This is also Pixar‘s first attempt at a “college” movie, and what better way to parody all of the college movie stereotypes by using monsters?

Gang
I am starting to think that purple dude on the left is just a manifestation of the other guys mustache.
Monsters University takes place when our heroes are freshmen in college at (you guessed it), Monsters University. There is more than one college in the area, don’t worry, the boring sounding one is just the one they both picked. Mike (Billy Crystal) wanted to go there his whole life to train to become a Scarer, while Sully (John Goodman) was basically bred to be a  Scarer like his famous father.

Basically, Sully gets to be the jock that has everything handed to him, but he doesn’t take it seriously, so he does really bad on all the tests. Mike is not scary at all, but he studies enough, so he knows everything to do in every situation! Classic nerd. Either way, both of them get into hot water when their constant bickering gets them kicked out of the Scarer program. Dean Hardscrabble (Helen Mirren) isn’t fucking around. She is also terrifying by the way.

This forces our heroes to join the “lame frat” on campus, having to turn a group of losers into the scariest monsters in school, in order to get back on their career track to be the best Scarer team Monstropolis has ever seen. A lot of famous people voice random monsters in this movie too. Steve Buscemi returns to his role from the previous film, but we also have new comers with Charlie Day and Aubrey Plaza.

Dean
Seriously, check this bitch out. Dragon wings to fly and centipede body for cackling down a hall. Utterly terrifying.
Originally I was going to ignore the first film for this review, to try and go in watching it as neutral as possible, but it turns out, I actually liked Monsters University more than Monsters Inc. Maybe it is the subject matter (College, yay!), or maybe it is actually just a better structured film overall.

Obviously we know that somehow our heroes will end up coming out on top by the end of the film, because “Monsters Inc.” has already happened, and they are clearly Scarers. What we don’t know, is just how twisted and strange that journey actually ended up being. I was shocked at the clever ways the story developed, while also maintaining a parody vibe in relation to other famous college movies.

What did bug me was the ending. It felt like it dragged on near the end, so I found myself getting a little bit fidgety, hoping it would get to the point. It wasn’t as bad as the ending to The Lord Of The Rings: The Return of the King, but it still took its time at the finish line.

I also think they did a poor job of showing that there are other majors and departments in the university outside of fields related to Scaring. After all, in Monstropolis, Scaring is just one job profession, and they still have scientists, mathematicians, historians, and all of that, but the only classes that ended up getting shown related to Scaring. Sure, they had a dancing major, but outside of a casual mention, they could have shown a quick clip of a class. They even mentioned scaring in their school song. Now imagine a university doing that with just one department, like Physics. Pretty messed up yo.

3 out of 4.

Hitchcock

You know what would be a bad idea? Telling you how little I knew about Mr. Hitchcock and the films he has made. Same story as the other famous things, they are just so old, I haven’t got to them yet. But hey, maybe a movie about Hitchcock would actually be better not knowing much about him. I don’t know any silly rumors about his life, I feel like an open book ready to learn!

Hopkins
Holy fuck, look at him! Look at his face! His Hitchface.

Instead of a full biography movie, this one also focuses on a smaller, potentially more significant part of his life, such as the recent Lincoln film. Hitchcock (Anthony Hopkins) was already a wildly successful director, having just released North By Northwest. But he is getting old, shouldn’t he retire by now?

Wait a minute. The entire time I watched this movie, I wondered who the hell was playing Alfred in the movie, because I couldn’t recognize him as anyone famous. ANTHONY HOPKINS. Just so you know, it didn’t sound like Hopkins, nor did it look anything like him (in my eyes). See the picture above. Damn, give them a make-up award, stat.

Anyways, after that movie, he needs a new project, but has run out of ideas. Tired of the same old crap. His wife (Helen Mirren) who has helped him make all of his movies is starting to work on a script with another man! Some lame Whitfield Cook (Danny Huston) fellow. Despite that, and his secretary’s (Toni Collette) best efforts, he has found himself interested in a book called Psycho. Why not have a horror film made by an established great director? Then it might not be complete crap!

Why not also how he may have tortured Janet Leigh (Scarlett Johansson), his main actress or the film, and a former star of his, Vera Miles (Jessica Biel), who had to go and get pregnant/start a family on him. What the hell.

Spoilers? Nope. Psycho ended up being his highest grossing film, and arguably most famous one. Then he died a few years later, after making a few more big ones of course.

Showahh
We also get a remake of the shower scene! But less gratuitous violence and nudity. After all, acting and shit.

After seeing Hitchcock, I can say that I kind of want to watch Psycho now. And North By Northwest. Maybe Rear Window, but after that I am probably good. The film is most likely littered with tiny references to his various movies and TV series, but not knowing them didn’t get in the way of enjoying the movie.

I already stated how great Hopkins did in the role, but hey, I will do it again. Maybe he overacted and everything was over the top, but I really enjoyed the performance. How close he was to the actual Hitchcock I will never really know. The making of Psycho is actually an interesting one, and learning of his personal problems and obsessions was pretty sexy as well.

3 out of 4.

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