So, you’re saying District 9 was good?

So far, I’ve been hearing nothing but good things about “District 9”.  Some people are saying the gore was a bit much but overall, great movie.  Yay!  I’ve been waiting for this movie since I saw the trailer on Youtube a few months back and it’s nice to know that it delivers what was promised.

If my husband survives camping, we will have to go this weekend (he was quite miffed that I was in the Bay Area when “District 9” opened).

Oh and “Ponyo” has to be seen as well since I’m such a Miyazaki/Ghibli fan.

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G.I. JOE: The Rise of Ire

G.I. JOE: The Rise of Cobra (2009)
PG-13
Directed by: Stephen Sommers
Written by: Stuart Beattie,David Elliot
Starring: Channing Tatum, Marlon Wayans, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Christopher Eccleston, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Byung-hun Lee, Sienna Miller, Rachel Nichols,
Ray Park, Jonathan Pryce, Dennis Quaid, Saïd Taghmaoui, Arnold Vosloo
Runtime: 118mins

So I’ve stated before, I was not expecting much from this movie.  I had pretty low expectations and this movie exceeded them…and not in a good way.  Yo, Joe, your movie sucked!

Where to begin…

I think the thing that pissed me off the most was the horrible dialogue.  Line after line of clichéd jokes, cheesy encouragment, and forced homage to the original cartoon was just too much for me.  It was like Terminator 4 all over again.  Though this time, instead of just assualting my ears, they flipped an already established universe upside down.  They changed the story of the G.I. JOE force and of Duke, Baroness and Ripcord.  They also rearranged the relationships.  The force is no longer American; it is international.  There’s no love triangle between Duke, Snake Eyes and Scarlett.  Instead, Duke and Baronness have some sort of prior romantic history (ah, that explains why she’s no longer Russian) and Scarlett and Ripcord have “an attraction”.  And as for who Cobra Commander is and how McCullen/Destro becomes involved with him…well, I won’t spoil that for you.  All I can say is, REALLY!?!?!  *facepalm*

It didn’t help that the acting was mediocre for the most part.  I do give the actors the benefit of the doubt since they had such a poor script to work with but oh man.  There was a particular scene between Ripcord and Scarlett where Marlon Wayans and Rachel Nichols sounded like they were forcing the emotion, the dialogue, everything…it was like watching a kid swallow cod liver oil or something like that.  Dennis Quaid, who usually does a great job seemed to lack any interest or enthusiasm in the role.  I didn’t like the way he played General Hawk; Hawk is supposed to be gruff but, as one friend put it, Quaid played him too happy.  And his line of “knowing is half the battle”?  Writers, I appreciate you trying to honor the original cartoon but STOP. FORCING. THE. ISSUE.  Marlon Wayans as Ripcord was okay; he was his usual slapstick smartass comedy relief.  Channing Tatum was actually decent as Duke, well this version of it.  I have to give kudos to Sienna Miller as Baronness.  She was bitchy through and through (though I wonder if this was considered a stretch assignment for her).

Even the action and CG in the movie were questionable at times.  I get that you want to give a movie some cool action sequences and have the audience think “Okay, that was awesome!”  Transformers had that.  G.I. JOE had “Oh, come on…really?  That’s just…no.” scenes.  Too over the top and the whole “Let’s slow things down cuz it’ll look more awesome!” technique was abused.  Don’t get me wrong.  I love action and big Baysplosions but at some point in this movie, you get the feeling that they aren’t doing these shots because it fits and makes sense; they’re doing it just cuz they can.  The animation for the Sigma-6 suits looked shoddy, paticularly when running.  The pace didn’t match the amount of ground covered, I thought.  And why even introduce Sigma-6 suits when you’re not going to be using them consistently!?!?!?  The whole chase scene thru the streets of Paris had me sitting in my seat, annoyed cuz it was just ridiculous and not in an entertaining way.  The longer it went on, the more I wanted to join my husband in the popcorn line.  Yup, the man who pretty much loves any movie got up and left to get popcorn cuz he didn’t think he would miss anything by doing so.  And he didn’t.

And speaking of the action, HELLO Star Wars references!  This movie either was paying homage to Star Wars (why?) or stole a lot from it.  There was an underwater battle where the JOEs were using submersibles to attack a base and all I could see were X-wings trying to take out the Death Star.  The base even had a super giant pulse cannon that the JOEs needed to take out otherwise their mother-sub would be sunk.  Yeah…

The end set up for a sequel (optimistic, aren’t we?) and finally reveals Cobra Commander.  Let’s just say that it was bad.  Particulary the look of Cobra Commander.  Remember in the cartoon how he had a helmet and hood?  Well, apparently, the word is that the writers/directors thought the hood was too KKK (um…but wouldn’t that help -ENHANCE- his villiany?) so they gave him a mask instead.  Okay.  Fine.  I would have been okay with that if the mask had been cool looking and maybe related to oh..I dunno..COBRA?  You’d think that the leader of a criminal organization who has an admiration for cobras and names his syndicate after the animal would have a mask fashioned that would somehow incorporate the look of the creature?  But noooooo.  He gets some weird plastic-y looking thing.  Wow.  I think he would have been better off donning a Pharoah’s hat instead.  At least that has a cobra on it!

The end also sort of wraps up the Duke/Baroness storyline and oh gawd…talk about straying from the G.I. JOE universe.  *beats head against wall*  Actually, I should beat the writers’ heads against the wall.

I could keep going but then we’d be venturing into heavy spoiler territory.

There’s very little worth watching in this movie, especially for the price of a ticket these days.  I’m not sure it’s even worth a rental unless you are doing a bad movie night.

G.I. Joe clip

Ain’t It Cool News posted a clip from the upcoming G.I. Joe movie: http://www.aintitcool.com/node/41240

Okay, anyone else have issue with the fact that Baroness does NOT have a Russian accent?  *head desk*  Seriously?  Was Sienna Miller just too lazy to even bother trying to fake one?  Didn’t the studios think to hire a dialect coach or something?  C’mon!!!!

The effects looked a bit choppy, mainly the scene where the suit goes hopping onto the roof.  And yeah…um…suits?  That’s not the G.I.Joe I grew up with!  Apparently, they borrowed this from the Sigma 6 reboot series.  *sigh*  Okay…

I’m going to expect this movie to go the way Transformers did – I walked in expecting to hate it because Michael Bay was raping my childhood and walked out with an adrenaline rush due to the massive action.  It’ll be fun and entertaining but it won’t really be much like what I remember from my childhood and I’m sure there’ll be plot holes n’ stuff.  I’ll be shocked if it’s near the same level Star Trek was.  That is currently the best movie of the year in my book.

Wow, Ron Howard listens to critics…

Angels & Demons (2009)
Directed by: Ron Howard
Starring: Tom Hanks, Ewan McGregor, Ayelet Zurer, Stellan Skarsgård
Rated: PG-13
Runtime: 138 mins

It’s not common that a sequel ends up being better but thankfully, Angels & Demons is an exception.  Ron Howard & team fixed the problems that made The Da Vinci Code a flop – namely the pacing and Tom Hank’s hair.  Apparently, Robert Langdon found time to get a haircut in between solving all those pesky clues left behind by famous artists. Much better, thank you.  I didn’t have to sit thru 2 hrs wishing I could jump in the movie with some hair product, a comb and scissors and do something with that mess on Tom Hanks’ head.

There’s not much to say about this movie, especially if you’re familiar with The Da Vinci Code.  Basically, you’ve got a similar plot only this time, there’s more action and better pacing so you don’t end up bored or losing interest as Robert Langdon goes off on some historic whatchamacallits.  It’s pretty cookie-cutter and the supposed twist is predictable.  Tom Hanks is a great actor but the character of Robert Langdon really isn’t all that complex.  This role is something Hanks could execute in his sleep and it sort of feels like that’s what he did.  Actually, it felt like most of the acting by the cast was done lacklusterly.  I think it had to do more with the fact that the characters in this movie are fairly flat so there’s not much to convey in terms of development. In all honesty, it’s not like Dan Brown is a brilliant writer…  However, I do have to say, at least this movie paid attention to continuity and plot unlike Terminator Salvation (yes, I’m a bit bitter about that).

I did like the sets.  They filmed in Rome so the outdoor shots are all real but a lot of the internal settings had to be replicated, especially anything inside the Vatican.  From what I can see, they did a phenomenal job with accuracy.  This movie was a great tourism ad for Rome.

This movie is more enjoyable than its predecessor and I would say it’s not a bad one to see if you’ve already seen Star Trek and Terminator Salvation or are up for matinee.  However, it is not material worthy of a summer blockbuster and I don’t expect to be in theaters long or for people to remember it.

And just a little bit of T4/Transformers humor thanks to IGN

Transforminators

Terminator 4 – No salvation but maybe reincarnation

Terminator Salvation (2009)
Director: McG
Starring: Christian Bale, Sam Worthington, Bryce Dallas Howard, Moon Bloodgood, Helen Bonham Carter, Anton Yelchin, Jadagrace, Common, Michael Ironside
Rated: PG-13
Runtime: 130mins

Is it worth seeing? Well, it depends. McG and crew deliver great action so if all you want to see is some Resistance kicking Skynet’s ass, then go. However, if you are more interested in the story, in seeing John Connor make his way to becoming a leader n’ all that other story development stuff, you will be disappointed. It seems that somewhere along the line, someone decided that continuity and plot development was unnecessary. Whether it was McG’s directing, the multiple rewrites, too many writers, production, whatever…someone FAILED.

Let’s talk about the good stuff first, shall we?

This movie was extremely action-intensive which was fantastic. There were times where I was on the edge of my seat and actually pumped my fist in the air when Skynet’s robots would go down. I loved seeing the multitude of different types of robots, some familiar, some new, all awesome. The special effects were spot-on clean n’ sharp…none of that crappy compositing we saw in Wolverine. They did a really outstanding job in terms of delivering great action sequences that could give Michael Bay some competition.

The acting on Sam Worthington and Anton Yelchin’s part was fantastic. Seeing Yelchin in two very different roles in such a small time frame really helps show off his ability and I fully expect to see him appear in more features. Worthington stole the show as Marcus Wright who was easily the most interesting character in the movie, mainly because he was the most developed and least flat. Despite the bad dialogue and some cheesy “human element” scenes, he managed to do a decent job in showing the conflict and confusion in his human-turned-machine character. Jadagrace, who makes her debut in this film as Star, Kyle Reese’s child sidekick, had no speaking lines and had to convey everything thru facial expressions and body language. She did an impressive job given her young age. Christian Bale and the rest of the cast, unfortunately, didn’t have much to work with and this resulted in mediocre performances at best.  Most of the characters only had a short amount of screen time, too, which really didn’t do much for allowing the audience to connect with them let alone care for them.

The “human element” scenes failed miserably. A lot of it seemed out of place and didn’t make sense while other aspects that you were wondering about were never addressed or even acknowledged.  As for showing a developing relationship or even an established one, nada.  The chemistry between people was pretty much nil.  It almost felt like the production’s priority was the action and the character and story development was a last minute afterthought. Sad as a lot could be done with this story to comment on humanity, on the instinct to survive, etc.  Ah well…

The big issue in this movie was the lack of continuity and development. A lot of things happened that served only to get the movie from point A to point B without any concern as to whether it even made sense. When you’re sitting there throwing your hands up in the air because you just saw something that made you think “Wait…WHAT???”, you have to wonder what the hell the writers were smoking. I won’t delve into details due to spoilers but just be prepared shut your brain off here and there.

Overall, I was entertained. This movie was better than expected in terms of the action and visuals but a sore disappointment in the plot arena. I had my doubts on McG’s directing ability and apparently, I should have really worried since I just found out that the writers were also responsible for some cinematic atrocities like Catwoman. I would have to say that, so far, Star Trek >>>> Terminator Salvation > Wolverine.

What the hell is this?

WTF?  At first I thought this was a spoof but turns out no…this is REAL.  I don’t really remember the Transformers movie (1986) cuz I was a little young but apparently, Stan Bush was the guy who came up with “The Touch” song for that movie.  Well, Michael Bay brought him back to revamp it for Revenge of the Fallen.  Basically, Stan Bush decided that since Linkin Park’s song did so well as trailer music for the first movie, he should just redo the song Linkin’ Park style.  /sigh  Okay, I can live with that.  But WTF is this crap music video?  Art Douglas, I banish you back to music video hell!  At around 3:03, I died.  Really?  Let’s do melodramatic slo-mo “I’m so weary” poses?  And what’s with creepy-smiley old guitarist dude?  Die in a fire, Art Douglas.  I think that’s merciful considering this crap you unleashed on us.