Sunday, July 28, 2013

Movie Review: The Conjuring

If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you might wonder why I didn’t see this last weekend.  Horror movies are my guilty pleasure.  I love watching them, love getting scared out of my gourd.  This movie, brought to you by the makers of Insidious, delivers several knock-out blows before leaving you with your eyes covered.

Based on a true story, the movie takes us into the lives of real-life paranormal experts, Ed and Lorraine Warren.  The story is set in 1970 when Ed and Lorraine had been working for some time, trying to legitimise their efforts by speaking all over the area.  The duelling story with theirs is a family that moves into a new house and the very first day, strange things begin to happen.  The house is old and the price was just right.  The father is a truck driver and isn’t home all the time and the mother stays out home when four out of five girls go to school on a daily basis.  The scares start small, a creaking door here, a strange new imaginary friend there, the action ramping up effortlessly.

If you’re familiar with any sort of haunting or horror movie, the story revolves around a problem and the solution to the problem.  Like clockwork, the action escalates, forcing those affected to change their behaviour or lose a loved one.  The slight twist to this story was seeing the inner workings of the Warren family.  It is presumed that they are experts, but few get to see more than the snippets given from haunting-type shows.

The movie does an excellent job of making small things terrifying and playing on the innate fears of the movie-goers.  Many of the scariest movies aren’t gory or have someone running at the camera, but use little elements to make you wonder what is going on.  There was a perfect scene early in the movie when the mother walks down the stairs first thing in the morning and finds the clock set to a time I didn’t see.  The scene moved so fast, but the action was subtle and when I saw the next clock, I knew what had happened.  Less is often more and this is the case with this movie.  The Conjuring was a fairly well-told scary movie and well worth seeing.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Movie Review: Monsters University

I had the rare opportunity to go to the movies on a Monday night.  The hope was that after over a month, there would be less annoying children in the theatre.  There were less than 10, but those 10 made their presence known.  Would it kill AMC to have a screening of kids movies that adults might like without kids in attendance?  I mean, I have to work too, you know?  I’m excited you brought your kids after work, but if little Johnny can’t shut it, he should go outside.  This isn’t an interactive movie…I digress.

Monsters University was a prequel to the rather popular Monsters Inc. that came out several years ago.  In this movie, we meet Mike Wazowski and James P. Sullivan as college students.  Mike is still small and wears a retainer, convinced he can be a fantastic scarer.  Sully is a lanky college kid that is trying to ride the coattails of his father and the rest of his family without doing much work.  Both are trying to do well on their exam in their first scarying class when an accident happens.  This forces them to work together and they do so with mixed results.

The story is very engaging and at times it makes you miss your college days or reminisce about how things were at your school.  The antics are spot on and can be over the top, but only to a degree.  What struck me was the ending.  If you haven’t seen it, you may want to stop reading here, because I’d like to discuss it, so to speak.

In most movies everything is tied up in neat little bows.  When Mike and Sully don’t stay in school, getting expelled, there is no tidy, perfect ending, not really.  Instead there is a montage of images of them working their way to what we see in the first movie.  To me, the lesson that Pixar hits squarely is that while you may have the best laid plans, if they don’t go your way, there are other ways.  I thought that message was well worth watching and turned the movie from regular Disney movie into something more.  It has been almost a month since this movie came out and while there are annoying kids still seeing it, it’s still worth seeing and I’ll probably grab it on DVD as well.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Movie Review: Pacific Rim

There isn’t a lack of action-adventure movies these days.  Just this week I saw Red 2 and a few weeks later saw World War Z.  Action movies seem to be plentiful, but that doesn’t mean they are all equal.  In this monster movie, Guillermo del Toro does his best to make the genre feel fresh.  I saw this movie in IMAX 3D and it was worth the extra money.

Pacific Rim finds the world dozens of years in the future, where all the powers of the world must unite to create massive machines to combat what appears to be an alien invasion.  The science of the movie is paper-thin, but it doesn’t matter.  The characters are all very rich and yet somehow seem to fit into the usual Hollywood archetypes.  The movie starts off with two brothers manning this massive machine and one brother dying, leaving the other to lament the death.  The government decides to shut the project down, forcing the director to do something drastic to get his pilot back into the programme.  The failsafe that would have put the mechanical monster business out doesn’t hold and the director is able to continue working.

The story is as predictable as it can be.  There was not one point where I felt surprised or moved by the story or the acting.  While Idris Elba is a Brit, the accent was distracting and felt inconsistent throughout.  Lead man Charlie Hunnam was easy on the eyes and also uninteresting.  The special effects made this movie worth seeing, the acting, not so much.  I can’t mention the movie without giving credit to Ron Perlman and Charlie Day, both playing the same characters I feel like I’ve seen them play before, but just as entertaining.  This isn’t a must see movie, but given the lack of good action movies right now, it might be worth watching.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Movie Review: Red 2

Once again I was lucky enough to get passes to see this movie in advance of release.  If you’re not a member of AMC Stubbs or the Regal Movie Club, you’re missing out on some nice freebies.  Last night I got to see Red 2 for free, over a week before the movie was being released.  When we arrived, they told us we couldn’t bring any phones or anything with a camera in, but then they didn’t actually check any of us, so it seemed kind of silly.  The theatre was packed, odd for a Wednesday, even in the summer.  The movie started without any previews, which I kind of missed.

The movie picks up where the first movie left off.  Based on a DC comic, Red follows a group of former CIA operatives who have retired.  Frank Moses is trying to be a home-maker of sorts, keeping his girl Sarah away from harm despite his friend Marvin’s best efforts.  Not long into the movie we discover that Frank and Marvin are accused of being involved with hiding a weapon of mass destruction.  Goon squads are sent out to kill them and the race begins.

The story is fast-paced and the characters jump off of the screen in the manner you would expect from a comic.  The characters are all extremes and the cast is balanced so well that none stand out more than the other.  The inclusion of Helen Mirren as a sniper-wielding killer is especially entertaining.  The cast expanded slightly in this new iteration, but the key is that the tone and story stayed true to the original.  It almost makes me want to read the comics, if I only had time.  This one is well worth seeing despite the glut of big-name/big-budget movies out right now.