Tag: Stanley Tucci

Beauty and the Beast

Wow, how do you introduce a tale as old as time? Something as true as it can be? You just gotta speak from the heart.

I do love the animated Beauty and the Beast film. It celebrates intelligence! It has one of my favorite introduction songs. Gaston is fascinating, with his own great song. But I have always had issues for it. So I better get it off my chest now:

The main takeaway from Beauty and the Beast is bullshit. The prince was punished for not seeing someone’s true beauty, so he was turned into an ugly creature. To learn his lesson, he needs to fall in love and be loved in return, with a nice kiss too, before he turns 21. (Which of course means he was punished as a kid, joy). So how does it eventually happen? By getting the perfect person in his life. She is smart, kind, but also the hottest chick in the village. To really drive the point home, she should have been not matched the perfect standard of beauty. It is kind of crap. Shrek and Shallow Hal end up driving the point home better.

Okay, no more of that. I also appreciate that Gaston is set up as a typical old school Disney Prince, who just wants love because they are beautiful, so it sort of shows Disney going away from their older film tropes.

What I am really getting at is that I am excited for the live action version of Beauty and the Beast. I was not excited for the live action Cinderella, because the plot of Cinderella is shit and celebrates obedience to mean people and doing chores until a prince can take you away. Fuck that.

Give that bitch a book. Bitches love books.

In some nondescript village in old timey France, there was a castle. None of this is Paris, we know that for certain. There was a prince (Dan Stevens), who lived in the castle, and he was mean. He was so mean to some haggy bitch, that the haggy bitch turned him into a really hairy dude and all of his servants into utensils and shit. What in the fuck!

Now years later, they have almost given up hope at becoming human again. The Beast has to not just fall in love, but have someone love him back. They are depressed, cold, and a spell was put on the area for people to forget about their existence. So that doesn’t help either.

Thankfully, there is a really freaky girl in that poor provincial nearby town. Belle (Emma Watson), a girl who was trained to use that brain of hers, an inventor, a girl who likes books and is somehow still decent looking. Some shit goes down with her dad (Kevin Kline). He finds himself locked up in this castle forever. Thankfully, their horse was also trained to use its brain and he is able to take her to the castle and HOLY FUCK, A BEAST!

Using that goddamn brain of hers, she is able to trick her dad into taking his place, planning to escape in the future. You know, because she is so youthful. But then she falls in love. Oh, way too early. A lot of strife happens. But after a good old fashioned food orgy, she starts to love the place, and thinks about calling it home. Plus, it can clean itself, with the magical slave item army and all.

Also starring Ewan McGregor as a candelabra, Gugu Mbatha-Raw as a duster, Ian McKellen as a clock, Emma Thompson as a teapot, Stanley Tucci as a piano, Audra McDonald as a dresser, Luke Evans as a tall, dark, strong, handsome brute, Josh Gad as his miniature life mate, and also Hattie Morahan as a begger.

Gaston’s face cannot be shown because Gorgon Reviews is not a big enough website.

Remember Cinderella? That film I already mentioned? Again, it was okay. It was colorful. Shit story. Good dresses. A terrible idea for a first run. It was like the Universal Monsters series trying to give us Dracula Untold as the start of their shared Universe. But now they gotta get The Mummy to save their asses. Yes, I recognize we have had a few other live action films since Cinderella, but this is the first one since then to be about a Disney Princess!

Beauty and the Beast delivers, and it delivers hard.

Of course, we get the best parts from the original. Bonjour is fascinating, with a village of real people, and we still get the “Please Let Me Through!” line. Be Our Guest is an explosion of extravagance. The Gaston song starts off awkward for me, but grows into its own, feels like a giant party, and has a few surprises. (Although, the chorus of that song is also almost impossible to understand)

But we also get a whole lot new! An expanded introduction, more backstory on the Beast and Belle’s lives before the film and their parents, bigger connections to the castle and the village and why it is a big surprise, Belle being a stronger female character, and more. AND! Alan Goddamn Menken, the Disney musical genius, came back to rewrite some of his songs from two decades ago, plus a few new ones. Three at that. Day in the Sun and Evermore are great additions to the film and Evermore had me crying. And don’t worry, the Human Again song added to the animated film does not take place in this movie.

I am annoyed that at the timing of this review, I have to wait a week to hear some of the newer songs again, just to see if I like them as much as I am writing.

Beauty and the Beast is not just a remake. It is also a re imagining. With more backstories, more lines for side yet important characters, everyone feels more fleshed out. Even Gaston and especially LeFou. We get some good call backs, and good changes to match the times. It was an incredible job done by the team, who treated their source material with respect, and really matched what made the first film great 26 years ago.

4 out of 4.

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2

Hooray another franchise is over! After Harry Potter, I am grateful book series are still afraid to break from the trilogy format. Or else we’d get these yearly movies that drive up the box office and everyone freaks out about and so on.

You know, like Marvel movies. Or the upcoming Star Wars films. One a year. Fuck.

Of course, this time it is The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2. The studios will say over and over again it is because the last story needs all that time to tell the story, but it is just for money grabbing purposes. It is putting a pause in the plot, usually meaning neither half are a complete film and overdrawn.

Part 1 was the worst film of the franchise. It had about 30 minutes of plot spread out over two hours. And because of that, Part 2 is almost definitely going to suffer for similar reasons. Even if Part 2 is great, the fact that Part 1 exists and is bad, instead of one coherent picture, means both are weaker than they should be. Happened with the final two Twilights, happened with the final two Harry Potters, and will probably happen again here.

You know, Katniss, this is the last time I might get to dress you.” – Creepy Effie

Katniss Katniss Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence). Katniss found herself choked up over the fact that they saved Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) from the Capital, her emotions all over the place. She knows one thing now. She will help Alma Coin (Julianne Moore), Plutarch Heavensbee (Philip Seymour Hoffman), and the rebels in any way she knows how. The Capital and President Snow (Donald Sutherland) must fall! And die!

Got it? Good. I’m done with that point of view. Lets change it up.

My man, Finnick Odair (Sam Claflin) is still a bad ass mother fucker, cool spear trident weapon thing. No one can take him one on one. Except one girl. That’s right, Finnick is getting married. They will have ginger babies. Apparently they are all Irish, and Irish is a thing in this world, because their wedding has Irish violin music and jigs and shit. But that won’t stop him from putting his life on the line to take down the bad guys, YEAH!

Okay okay one more. Caesar Flickerman (StanleY Tucci) is the best host in all of the districts. He has flair, hair, and style. Unfortunately in this movie, he only has one scene as a shitty news anchor person. We don’t delve more into his life. Sad news.

Alright, everyone else in this movie are played by the same people you have seen before. Liam Hemsworth, Woody Harrelson, Willow Shields, Elizabeth Banks, Mahershala Ali, Jena Malone, Jeffrey Wright, Patina Miller, and of course, Elden Henson as the best video camera man in the world. Formally best at shooting the puck really hard.

“What are you going to do, just walk up to the door stop and kill him?”

I felt a bit silly typing up the plot outline for this film, as you may have guessed. They are finally doing that fight thing. No longer is this about the hunger games, it is about a revolution, damn it. They should really assume the viewers are smarter and just call it Mockingjay without THG.

Part 2 ended up being a lot better than Part 1, but not as good as the first movie or Catching Fire. The ending wasn’t full of epic moments, but just a slow fuse that slowly ran out of steam. And then a couple more scenes, and an epilogue. Hell, the ending was very confusing just in terms of time. I can’t be more specific without bigger spoilers, but the events being shown and that were talked shouldn’t have overlapped as such.

There were some decent action scenes in the middle though. The best was the sewer scene, although it was also confusing. Dark places means they don’t have to make coherent action, which might just be an allusion to the first film where they just changed the camera angles a lot and shook the camera. They threw in zombies out of no where, which is I guess the cool thing to do in a teen book franchises (see Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials). I am sure technically they are not zombies, but they came out of no where and never were really explained, so that is all I can really call them.

When I think back on the Hunger Games franchise in the future, I will just think about the first two movies. As long as you accept that Catching Fire ends with a crappy cliff hanger and doesn’t resolve anything, it will save you from the extremely mediocre two film filler after the fact. With only a handful amount of Finnick scenes to get you by.

2 out of 4.


I love journalism movies. You may not know it, but I used to be a journalist. Yes, sure, 99% of my articles were reviews for a few papers, but damn it, I worked in the newsroom, I discussed articles occasionally, and I wrote at least one article on my own about a non movie thing.

But you know what is even sexier than journalism? Investigative journalism! You know, the journalism that requires investigations! Weeks to months to potentially years of digging around, looking for scoops, talking to witnesses, etc. That is like modern detective work, but where the pay is shit and you are only working for the greater good (or whatever).

Movies like All The President’s Men and Shattered Glass are examples of interesting or even great films that go through the real life process. Maybe some dramatization, but damn it, the facts are there! Spotlight is a new film, also about true events, and about the team that brought them to the public.

You can tell they are a real newspaper because they are actually working and not throwing footballs around.

The year is 2001! Don’t worry, September hasn’t happened yet. It is just summer time. You can tell it is a different time and place by the giant ass AOL billboard in the film. In Boston, life is pretty damn normal. People work, people go to church, people get drunk, eyyyyy Bawston. The Boston Globe is like a lot of other papers, they are worried about the internet taking away a lot of their jobs and trying to change things up. So they bring in this single, Jewish guy from Miami, Marty Baron (Liev Schreiber). He is not a Bostonian, however a lot of the paper happens to be from the area. This really gives them a sense of purpose and makes them think they are helping their community, so they are worried about a non Catholic outsider coming in and doing bad things.

And guess what he wants to do? He wants to…make sure the paper matters for the community. Oh okay, that sounds good. But he wants to also do some follow ups on a story he read about. Some priest had apparently been molesting kids for years, but the paper only ran a couple articles on him. He wants follow up and research. So he puts the Spotlight crew on it. A four person team who does the longer projects on it. Lead by Walter ‘Robby’ Robinson (Michael Keaton) who has been with the paper forever, he also has on his team Mike Rezendes (Mark Ruffalo), Sacha Pfeiffer (Rachel McAdams), and Matt Carroll (Brian d’Arcy James).

But can they really do that? Can they (what most people would see it as) wage war on the church? They all grew up Catholic and have that culture ingrained in their subconscious? Could it really be a bigger issue and something everyone just turned a blind eye towards?

Also featuring James Sheridan, Billy Crudup, Neal Huff, John Slattery, and Stanley Tucci.

This was definitely not a real scene from the film, but boy is it convenient to showcase the actors.

When the credits began to role, I had the biggest investigative journalism movie boner ever. That shouldn’t sound graphic or surprising, because that is an oddly specific thing to say and thus doesn’t mean a lot.

I wanted to go out, quit my job (hah!) and become a journalist again to save the world from bad people. I wanted to call strangers and find out information. I wanted to jostle notes on a small pad of paper while people talked. Oh okay, I technically already do that during movies, but I want to be able to do it when I can also see the paper well and not in a dark room.

Spotlight is a unique story where everyone knows how it will end, but the journey is so fascinating that it still can keep the tense moments. Sure, we know the article gets published, but you can still let out a small fist bump when everything finally comes together, happy that justice and journalism finally win despite the enormous pressures to fail. This is some of the best acting I’ve seen from Ruffalo, Keaton, and Schreiber. Maybe second best for all three. I think they are better in Infinitely Polar Bear, Birdman, and Goon, respectfully.

If there is any weak point in this film, it has to be Slattery. His character just felt like he was a cartoon, being a weird sometimes foil, sometimes not, maybe bad guy, maybe not. It was frustrating with little to no payout.

But outside of that, go see Spotlight, go see some sexy reporting, and damn it, support your local paper.

4 out of 4.

The Wind Rises

Studio Ghibli has made a lot of movies and most people would consider them to be a big deal. More importantly, their main director Hayao Miyazaki has created some of the best, most financially successful and well known anime movies to come out of Japan!

I have only seen a handful of their movies and only reviewed one before (The Secret World of Arrietty), so I am not an expert on the subject. But since it is the internet, expertness is just a click away.

Either way, The Wind Rises is now most known for being Miyazaki’s final film, finally ready to retire. This was released barely last year in 2013 for like a week to make the Academy Awards and then released for real barely in February. Needless to say, this is another one that took forever to see. But I guess they have no rush since it totally didn’t win Best Animated Picture. Sucks to not go out on a high note, Miyazaki.

Which is probably why he made a movie about objects that go so high.

“Wait a minute,” you might be stating quite boringly. “Does that tag on the bottom of the page after the review is over say Biography? This is an animated movie!” Why yes, person who reads the tags before the review. This is a pseudo biography of Jiro Horikoshi (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), an airplane engineer for Japan who designed some sweet planes before World War II. Yes, the war where Japan used planes to fuck up parts of America.

It starts with tiny Jiro who wants to one day be a fighter pilot. But with his poor vision, he realizes he would never be allowed to fly one. That is when he does research on plane manufacturers and begins to dream about Giovanni Battista Caproni (Stanley Tucci), an world renowned plane designer who tells him that making the planes is far more exciting than flying them. That planes should be beautiful creations and not war machines. He tells him that and oh so much more.

Well, with hard work and perseverance, Jiro becomes kind of awesome at planes and engineering. He gets accepted into a top program in the field and meets his sarcastic and always joyful friend Honjo (John Krasinski). He eventually gets a job with Mitsubishi where is boss Kurokawa (Martin Short) is a strict tiny man, but one who knows Jiro has what it takes.

Oh, Jiro was also involved in the Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923. That is where he meets young Nahoko (Emily Blunt) who, wouldn’t you guess it, has some effect on him later in life too?

Other famous people are Mae Whitman who voices his younger sister, and William H. Macy, who is surely someone important because it is William H. Macy voicing them.

“Less pew pew pew and more zoom zoom zoom!” – Paraphrased movie quote

Given the majority of Miyazaki’s work dealing with fantasy and the bizarre, it is quite odd to find a movie that is set so firmly in reality. I mean, a biography? Set in Japan? The only strange things that really happen in the movie are when Jiro is dreaming, where anything goes anyways. I can’t tell you how factual the film is, but it seems to paint a realistic picture of society and of Jiro. Even the smaller details I appreciated, such as Jiro and Honjo smoking. A lot. Many smokes were had in designing and school, and they didn’t ignore that just because kids might watch it like Disney did with Saving Mr. Banks. He didn’t whitewash history despite Japan’s tendencies to do that (especially from that time period).

As always, the animation is also absolutely beautiful and showcases how great these types of films can be without CGI. Fucking talent right here.

It tells a story about love and reaching your goals, but I do feel like parts of the film tend to drag. I also decided as an experiment to watch it dubbed with the same English subtitles, because sometimes there are big differences. For the most part it kept with the same theme, but there was one scene where it mentioned someone had a kid in the subtitles and completely ignored it in the English dub version. There might have been more stark differences that I missed, but holy crap, did they get rid of a kid in the dubbed version? That’s like animation murder.

It is a fine movie on its own right, but The Wind Rises was clearly not the best animated movie of last year. It is a fine send off for an established director and I tip my fedora in his honor.

3 out of 4.

Transformers: Age Of Extinction

Transformers. Michael Bay. Cash Money.

That is some of the reviews in a nutshell. I didn’t check up on what people said about Transformers: Age of Extinction ahead of time, because I knew I would probably agree with them. I figured the film might be full of inaccuracies that I would find painful, but I’d rather go in and see what I can find on my own without researching afterwards. Like the cringe worthy Washington, D.C. desert in Transformers 2.

But this is a start of a new “trilogy” because we can’t have things not in trilogies anymore. Not when they print so much money for the companies. Our lead human has an upgrade, no longer Shia LaBeouf who is doing some sort of joke on public with his awkward break downs. I mean, no Shia? That is great news on its own. This movie can’t be that bad for that reason.

It should be noted that I am not a Bay hater. In fact, his movie last year Pain & Gain I gave a 4 out of 4. But with some of the advertisement material, I can say that it looks like the Transformers franchise might be running out of gas.

Heh. Hehehe.

This film takes place let’s say, I dunno, five-ish years after the last Transformers. The Autobots are now on the run, because public opinion has somehow turned against them. Sure they fought with our military and helped us defeat people, but the government says they are bad now, so, they are bad now. After all, they fucked over Chicago completely, taking out about half the city and millions. Millions? Did I say millions? Well, just kidding. The media said (I think) 1300 died at the end of Transformers 3, which we know to be ridiculous.

Either way, Cade Yaeger (Mark Wahlberg) is a tinkerer, who invents gadgets in his garage. He is behind on all bills, but who cares, he will make it one day. His daughter Tessa (Nicola Peltz), the 17 year old sex symbol for this movie, is graduating soon and they need college money. As luck would have it, Cade finds a Transformer (Prime) who they could sell to the government for lots of cash.

Needless to say, government is corrupt. The hired assassin (Titus Welliver) tries to kill them too, so they escape and a man hunt begins. This man hunt involves at least three or four different plot lines that are wrapped up in the very short 2 hour and 45 minute movie. But trying to explain them all would just take up time and energy that isn’t necessary. But Kelsey Grammer plays a high up in the CIA, Jack Reynor as Tessa’s secret Irish boyfriend, T.J. Miller as a guy who works with Cade, and Stanley Tucci as the head of a science corporation in Chicago.

Chicago? Yes. Because apparently despite its huge widespread destruction, they basically rebuilt it all up very quickly exactly the same way it was before. We only know that because we go back to Chicago and the bots fuck up a lot of it again.

We still have more characters though. More women, like Sophia Myles, a “geologist” who doesn’t do any exciting geology, and Bingbing Li, a scientists from China who allow the film to end in China so that this movie can make a lot more money over there. Which is what a lot of films are trying to do now, including Iron Man 3 which literally had extra scenes in the Chinese version to get more cash. Blah.

Let’s not forget our voice actors. We have Optimus Prime (Peter Cullen), a man made Transformer Galvatron (Frank Welker), a Samurai-bot? (Ken Watanabe), some evil bad guy Lockdown (Mark Ryan), a Trenchcoat-bot (John DiMaggio), and literally a Transformer that just appears to be John Goodman (John Goodman).

Optimus Prime’s sword is voiced my Sir Swoosh-A-Lot.

Did you notice I didn’t mention a specific Transformers based entity that was heavily featured in all of the advertisements? The Dino-Bots? Yeah, they are in this movie I guess. They don’t talk, their plot lines are questionable, and they are in at the end to help fight bad guys. So, they do exist, albeit for twenty or so minutes. And to be fair, their action scenes are pretty bad ass. They are just grossly underused based on the advertisements and felt like a let down.

Speaking of annoying. More technicalities. A plot point puts them in Beijing. A big bad bot wants to blow up a bomb in the biggest city on Earth. Beijing is 2, so that is close enough. One of our characters knowing this goes on the run with the bomb. To Hong Kong. What in the fuck? First they make it seem like Hong Kong is a few hours away, and its really fucking far. But Hong Kong itself is a giant ass city with millions of people too. How is that better? There is literally thousands of miles of empty space all around China and they do the riskier thing?

This movie, like the third one, features tons of human casualties that they decide to brush aside and ignore. Early on it also does its best to ignore the Transformers completely. Like during a chase scene and a battle, they show mostly the humans running away from humans, than Prime fighting Lockdown. One of the biggest complaints of the franchise is too many humans (and too many women just around for their looks) and this film has that going on too. It is hard to understand why this keeps happening. It is of course also a giant advertisement for GM and other sponsors, such as Beats and Victoria Secret, which have moments that stand out in the worst way.

Some parts of the movie are delightful. Some of the fights are kind of cool. But the dialogue is terrible, acting is whatever, and there is just far too much going on for not enough payout in this movie.

1 out of 4.

Mr. Peabody and Sherman

Ah, Hollywood has set out to ruin reintroduce another beloved cartoon franchise for the modern masses! This time it is Mr. Peabody & Sherman, based on Peabody’s Improbable History, a short featured on the original Rocky and Bullwinkle cartoon show.

Which is great. I know they did The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle about fifteen years ago, and it bombed, by why not the short associated with it? In fact, we need more shorts from shows to make it to the big screen. If I had to chose just one, I’d pick Justice Friends from Dexter’s Laboratory. Yes, that would make an excellent film indeed.

Run Away bitches
But only live action, like Underdog, another successful cartoon to movie reboot.

But I digress. It is this dog’s day to shine.

Mr. Peabody (Ty Burrell) is the smartest entity in the world and he has invented a lot of things. The one challenge he had left to face was raising a son, however, so as luck would have it, he finds a boy Sherman (Max Charles) to adopt. Mr. Peabody vows to raise the boy right and teach him all about the world!

So he invents the Way Back machine (or “WABAK” but I never saw it written that way in the film) that allows him to travel time and space. Now he can teach him fun historical facts! As long as he doesn’t travel to a time where they already exist, because then there would be two of them which could have catastrophic consequences!

However, at this point, it is time for Sherman’s first day of school ever, which is also apparently first grade. There, he is picked on by a girl bully Penny (Ariel Winter, our second Modern Family cast member) and he bites her! Oh no! A social service lady, Ms. Grunion (Allison Janney) believes it is Mr. Peabody’s fault as a dog cannot properly raise a boy.

With Mr. Peabody’s integrity on the line, he makes a plan to invite Penny and her parents (Stephen ColbertLeslie Mann) for dinner, to prove that he is a good parent and hopefully reconcile the relationship between Penny and Sherman. Unfortunately, Sherman shows Penny the Way Back and everything falls to pieces.

Also featuring the voice talents of Stanley TucciPatrick Warburton (yes, Krunk), and Tom McGrath.

Shut up
“Now shut up Sherman while I go bang some pre-historic bitches.” Wow, Mr. Peabody used to be a jerk.

Ah yes, a movie about time travel, history, and learning! All with the potential for both kids humor and “smart jokes” without necessarily getting into the “adult joke” territory.

However, if you are going to make a movie involving time travel, you have to be prepared to be judged accordingly, regardless of intent. To me, there were a lot of flaws with the way time travel was presented in this movie. It created paradoxes (outside of the ones shown in the movie) and other bad time no-no’s, but chose to ignore all of them. Bah. It is not too hard to make a sensical time travel movie, this one just failed to do so.

Speaking of nonsense, the ending was a huge mess. Everything was bad, excrement was hitting the proverbial fan, chaos. But they had a plan to solve it! Yeah, it didn’t make any amount of sense, scientifically or otherwise. It worked in the movie and then it ended. Honestly, it felt worse than a deus ex machina. It just made me feel cheated.

Basically, the creators said that if they are going to make stuff up, they might as well go completely made up.

Other than that, this movie did have some enjoyable moments and jokes. There were nice puns everywhere, as a throwback to the original and a few touching scenes. However, the plot they give the movie is under developed and doesn’t even serve as a good excuse for time travel. I think Mr. Peabody & Sherman could have been so much more and easily turned into a huge franchise.

Oh well, at least I got the sweet 3D Glasses Add-On.


1 out of 4.

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

Before we get started, I should mention some things about The Hunger Games. I gave it a 2 out of 4. I also didn’t watch it until 5-6 months after it went to theater. Not surprisngly, I didn’t read the books, so I had no stake in it.

I knew the rough outline. For some reason, teens have to go into a competition and kill each other, with only one remaining. Literally teens killing teens, very brutal. So I knew it should have been a brutal movie, but they decided to have it about teen death, and show practically nothing, through the use of shaky cam and just not showing crap. Shaky cam makes things look hectic and rushed, placing the viewer in the shoes of a character I guess. It is supposed to increase tension, but really is cheap, lazy, and lowers the rating. So that was annoying for the entirety of the games.

Outside of other random issues, the story felt complete after the games. Her life is going to change, but whatever, that doesn’t mean we need more story about it. Basically, I feel like I felt after watching Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. Interesting story, no need to move on. But they both move on? The next two movies for Girl felt forced, and just didn’t feel as good as the first. So I am worried the same thing will occur here too, with The Hunger Games: Catching Fire.

I mean, we will see how it goes, just throwing out my thoughts ahead of time, so you know where I am coming from.

All of those thoughts were quelled when I realized it featured a literal merman, though.

The sequel takes place almost a year after the original movie. Everything is back to normal. Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) isn’t anything special at home, for whatever reason. She just wants to get her love on with Gale (Liam Hemsworth), but has to pretend to be in love with Peeta (Josh Hutcherson). Or else like, President Snow (Donald Sutherland) said he would kill all of her loved ones. You know, typical teenage girl stuff.

Why? Because she is a threat to the government. The districts are furious that two winners were allowed for once, and if it isn’t true love, they will feel scammed. They will riot. They will assume the government isn’t all powerful. But her love games aren’t fooling anyone it turns out. So they have to make an alternative strategy.

Plutarch (Philip Seymour Hoffman) is made the new games dude, and they are allowed to fuck up the rules when they hit a quarter mark anniversary. Oh good timing! Number 75 is here! In an act to show that the government is the greatest power and no one can defy their power, not even past winners, they decide to pick the tributes solely out of the past winners still alive per district. Yay! We are talking old people and adults! Also people who know how to kill.

So what is a Katniss going to do? Maybe she is going to have to kill Peeta yo.

Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks, Lenny Kravitz, and Stanley Tucci reprise their roles from the first film. Also introducing Sam Claflin as the merman (kind of), Jena Malone as an axe wielder, and Jeffrey Wright and Amanda Plummer as really smart people from District 3. All in the games, of course.

Peeta gave that bitch some protests. That bitch loves protests. [But still not Peeta]

Despite the weather’s best attempts, I still was able to watch this movie on its opening premier, which means surrounded by a lot of rabid fanboys and girls. Armed with my best Twilight T-Shirt, I was able to sit down and get ready to criticize all of the problems I already saw from the trailer with the story. And then the unthinkable happened. The movie explained the “problem areas” in the movie, and all of my pre-concerns were gone. Damn. Ain’t that a bitch?

Seriously. Fuck the trailer for Catching Fire. It was badly put together in comparison to the movie, showing some nonsensical crap and in retrospect, basically a piece of shit. Because the movie explains everything and doesn’t leave any of the potential plot holes out there. It does a great job of explaining it all.

What else did I dislike about the first movie? The shaky cam. Well, there is a lot less of that. Easy enough fix. I am not saying there was more action, because that is debatable, but there is definitely less shaky cam.

Overall, I was pretty entertained by watching Catching Fire. It was full of surprising moments to me, as a movie watcher, and kept me more or less on my toes. I do have to wonder why the tributes, if they were all super pissed that they had to be there (literally all of them, who wouldn’t be?), even decided to battle and kill the tributes. It would be a good show of solidarity if they just all refused to do it, you know. But that isn’t action-y enough I guess, we need some bad people still.

This section was looking too wordy, so I threw in a third picture to distract you. And make it look even longer.

I disliked how the film chose to end. Reminded me of the ending of Matrix Reloaded, which was bad enough that I didn’t watch the third one. I get it. Based on a books so stories won’t be completed. But they chose to end it after giving a lot of new information and changing things up, which should only be a tactic for weekly TV shows, not movies. It is already enough bullshit that the third movie is being split into two again because “there is so much story to tell!” (re: money to make). And now I am getting what feels like childish cliffhangers instead of a full story for a movie.

In addition to that issue, I will note the games themselves felt way easier this time than last time, which is kind of annoying. I am being advertised that this is the best of the best, all born killers, but she has a pretty easy time during these games compared to the last. Not only is it easier, but she has fewer moral choices to make too. A bit disappointing.

Catching Fire is definitely a step up from the first film though, and overall, pretty decent of a movie..

3 out of 4.

The Fifth Estate

Movies based on true events are always a tricky endeavor, especially if those events are within the last few years. If they are based on a single person, who happens to be alive, then it can get all sorts of awkward.

Julian Assange, the founder of Wikileaks is currently living in the Ecuadorian Assembly in London. If he ever leaves, London is going to send him off to Sweden for what he claims are bogus charges, who are then going to send him back to the US for all sorts of “War crimes.” If you never heard his name, and don’t know who he is, then The Fifth Estate is probably the movie for you!

I wouldn’t describe this as a thinking movie, but there are a lot of thinking scenes.

Despite being about Julian Assange (Benedict Cumberbatch), this film is told from the perspective of Daniel Berg (Daniel Bruhl, who was also just in Rush). Daniel started to work with Julian in 2007, drawn into the idea of Wikileaks, which was a way for whistle blowers to anonymously report wrong doings and keep their identity secret so that they can not face repercussions.

A nice idea. They want to make the world more transparent, allow everyone to have secret information, and protect those that give that information. But what if WikiLeaks becomes more about Julian Assange than the original message? What if they don’t care about protecting lives anymore?

It should be noted that the movie is based on two books that came out in 2011, one written by Daniel, who was no longer with the company, both with a negative bias towards Wikileaks. Because of that, it is hard to say how much of the events in this film are accurate in their portrayal.

Despite their now aggressive relationship with each other, we get to see into the workings of the early years of Wikileaks, their volunteer army, their expansion of servers across Europe, their battle against banks and in the courts for free speech and some of their biggest scoops. It also tells the story up to including the famous Afghan War Diary, its biggest scoop, that was taken from the government by Bradley Manning.

As far as other actors, I guess they are important enough to mention. Laura LinneyAnthony Mackie, and Stanley Tucci all play various US Government employees, Lydia Leonard and Moritz Bleibtreu (from Run Lola Run / In July fame!) play other members of Wikileaks, and David Thewlis the main reporter for The Guardian who is covering Wikileaks.

Bunch of lookers too, but not in the way that phrase normally means.

Needless to say, Julian has gone on record to say he doesn’t agree with his own betrayal in this movie, calls it one sided and a smear campaign against Wikileaks. He has at least one point going for him: If powerful organizations want to discredit Wikileaks and cause it to lose trust in citizens of the world, then discrediting Julian as a bad person is one way to go about it. They mention it in the movie, and he says it in real life a lot.

In fact, the ending of the film is Benedict recreating an interview that was done with Julian, about his thoughts on the film. Sure, it made the movie end weirdly, but encouraged the viewer to do their own research on the subject. Kind of meta, kind of cool.

Of course, Julian also hasn’t seen the film, just read several scripts, so I can’t take his word completely either.

The Fifth Estate definitely makes Julian look like a dick, but also a guy who more or less has his heart in the right place. He wants to make the world a better place, but at the same time he is only human.

I think the main problem with this film is they made this story far too melodramatic that it almost made it seem either over the top, or just no longer real. The film even comes complete with “visual metaphors” because making movies about the internet and data is pretty hard without making it look silly. So there are many scenes of a warehouse, almost infinite in size, with desks and computers showing the Wikileaks army at work. What I am getting at is they still end up just looking silly.

Benedict did an excellent job at acting as always, really doing his best to imitate Julian and also seems to be a fan of the man from interviews. There is a documentary coming out eventually, We Steal Secrets: The Story of WikiLeaks, which may give a more accurate portrayal of events. But until then, we are only left with this okay melodrama, about a man and his website.

2 out of 4.

Percy Jackson: Sea Of Monsters

This just in. The director of Percy Jackson: Sea Of Monsters is named Thor Freudenthal. What a bad assname.

He has done a few kids movies before (Hotel For DogsDiary of a Wimpy Kid), but that is it. Hopefully directing this movie is a sign of changes for this man. With a name like that, I want him involved in most action movies from now on.

Back to the movie, I am pretty excited for this sequel. I actually enjoyed Percy Jackson, The Lightning Thief. As an undergraduate, one of my majors was Ancient History, which of course gave me a love of mythology as well.

No, I don’t hate that these films change the Greek Mythology meaning and stories around. Because this is just another case of a movie not being identical to the source material. If I am fine with what happened in Iron Man 3, I will be fine with whatever they can throw at me here.

Besides, these mythologies are basically dead. I love it when anything can attempt to spice them up a bit. This one is promising to add a whole sea of monsters! Hooray!

Horse? Sea horse!
Look! There is one right now! It looks nothing like a rainbow version of The Water Horse, either!

Percy Jackson (Logan Lerman) is no longer a big deal in the demigod camp after the first film, as teenagers are fickle. Who cares if he just saved Olympus/the world. What has he done for them lately? For fucks sake, Percy.

His friends, Annabeth (Alexandra Daddario) and Grover the Satyr (Brandon T. Jackson) believe in him, but everyone is else is obsessed with Clarisse (Leven Rambin), daughter of Ares. She wins all the events and challenges at camp.

Don’t remember her from the first movie? Well, presumably she was there somewhere. Maybe she just sick the two or so days that Percy visited in the first film, since at that point, Annabeth was the best warrior in the camp. Maybe they can’t handle two great female fighters at the same time.

Well, it turns out the protective barrier around their camp is falling, and it is all thanks to Luke (Jake Abel), son of Hermes, villain from the first film. Of course! He wants to do the unthinkable, and resurrect Chronos, the Titan, so that he can kill all the gods and ruin the world.

Classic villain strategy.

But that is not as important. They just want to restore the barrier to their camp, and to do that they have to find the Golden Fleece! Anything else is just gravy.

Oh, Percy also has a new half-brother Tyson (Douglas Smith), a young cyclops. His dad Poseidon just gets lonely sometimes, I suppose. Poseidon, Zeus, and Hades do not make any actual appearances this movie, but we do get Hermes (Nathan Fillion, technically a recast), and Dionysus (Stanley Tucci), who for some reason didn’t get to drink wine. Chiron is also back in this movie as the camp mentor, but he is played by Anthony Head (of Buffy fame), and not Pierce Brosnan. Boo recasts.

Group shot
I would have raged the hardest if Brandon T. Jackson was replaced.

I would say that overall, Sea of Monsters is not as good as The Lightning Thief. But one major improvement was getting rid of the “& The Olympians” part out of the title. That title was long enough to be comical.

Here is one of my biggest issues. Luke as a villain doesn’t make a lot of sense in this movie. To resurrect Chronos, he also needs the Golden Fleece. Unless he didn’t think he could get it himself with his band of mighty demigod soldiers, it is silly to break the camp barrier, causing them to go after the fleece as well. Instead, he could have not done that, and succeeded in his plan as no one even knew he was alive.

Instead we have a movie where there is a ton of buildup for the great and powerful Chronos, who then gets easily “defeated” in a matter of minutes. It happens in a lot of fantasy films. I am surprised more people don’t get angry when they are teased about the destroyer of the world coming, but when he finally does, its a whimper. The Sorcerer’s Apprentice is another recent example of that.

It does have a lot of cool effects still. Caribdis was gorgeous and they had a manticore! However, the manticore went out in a single hit. Caribdis ended up being comparable to the whale from Pinocchio. I didn’t feel scared for any character, because the solution was always immediate or obvious. Plus, you’d think there would be more monsters in the sea of monsters. At least more than one. Maybe.

They did have some good attention to detail for the minor mythologies though. I loved the gas in the Oracle scene. There are many references to The Odyssey. Just showing Caribdis without bringing up Scylla is unique. Tyson the cyclops seemed like a horrible addition early on, due to the awkwardness of his CGI’d eye, but I got over it, and he became a funny/sweet character.

Overall on its own, it is a decent family movie. Minor continuity issues arose, but they can be ignored easily by most movie goers. The ending was cliffhanger-ish, which generally feels tacky when used in movies.

I mean, what if we started allowing cliffhangers in everything? Like songs, movie reviews, and

2 out of 4.

The Company You Keep

Robert Redford is starring in a movie!

That should be the first thing out of your mouth, seeing The Company You Keep. The other thing you will notice is it has quite a hefty list of famous actors thrown into the mix. Robert Redford doesn’t act much anymore, but when he does, he calls out all the stops.

Robert Redford
See? This is him literally calling out all the stops.
From watching movies, I have learned that the 1960’s were a terrible time. But hey, terrible times lead to great movies about how terrible it all was. War, protests, the whole shabang. Some protesters couldn’t stand being peaceful though, like the Weather Underground movement. These group of youngsters thought they saw their government committing terrible crimes, so they wanted to get their attention back at home by blowing stuff up, and maybe even murder.

They also were never caught in the act and prosticuted. Until now.

Sharon (Susan Sarandon) has just been picked up by the cops, wanted in the murder of a cop from the ’60s. They have everything on her and all of her phone logs. Thanks to some reporter with gusto, (Shia LaBeouf), an article was published linking lawyer Jim Grant (Robert Redford) to the crimes and a nationwide manhunt for his arrest. Hooray! Take that violent political activist from the ’60s!

But did he really do the crimes he is being accused of? If he is innocent, why would he run? After all, the FBI (Terrence Howard) and newspaper editors (Stanley Tucci) all seem to think he’s guilty. Yet for some reason, he is being erratic, and looking really hard for one Mimi Lurie (Julie Christie). Hmm, I wonder what she has to do with all of this mess.

There are far too many famous (and famous-ish) actors to just throw their name casually in the plot, so I will just list them all here: Richard JenkinsAnna KendrickBrendan GleesonBrit MarlingSam ElliottStephen RootNick Nolte and Chris Cooper.

Stephen Root is standing next to lettuce. Yep, nothing to see here.
The first thing I noticed is that Robert Redford no longer looks identical to Brad Pitt. But hey, now we know what Brad Pitt will look like in about 20 years.

Looking at Redford’s work schedule, he hasn’t been in a movie since 2007, but he has at least two more on the pipeline. The more notable one is Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Even better, the reason he is in the Marvel Sequel is just because he hasn’t ever played a role like it and thought it would be fun. I love it when actors tell the truth.

As for The Company You Keep, it has an interesting story behind it, but in the end it is just okay. It takes a little bit to get going, and kind of fuddled up in the middle, but it all makes a lot of sense by the end. Not that I actually liked the ending, as I thought there were multiple cop outs from various characters in the film. Acting was fine, just like Lawless, I didn’t hate Shia by the end of it, but he wasn’t exceptional in it either. Seeing him with facial hair (well, the small amount he could pull off) was an interesting change at least!

In other news, watch it only if you are missing Robert Redford in your normal life and like slow moving political-ish thrillers.

2 out of 4.