Friday, April 29, 2011

The Dukes See A Movie: Hanna


As was mentioned in the review for Your Highness there was a recent divide among The Dukes over the attendance to the aforementioned movie. While my standards and reasoning for not attending Your Highness with Zac and Coombsy are nowhere near as laudable as Zac made them out be (seriously, ask Zac why I didn’t see it and let me know what he says) they were still enough to push me to do something which I have never done before in my entire life: See a movie by myself.

My first thought was “Who am I going to make fun of this movie with?” because after seeing previews and reading the plot to this movie, I was completely prepared to lampoon it to the briny depths. The premise seemed absurd, and appeared to be no more than a rehashed coming of age story about a little girl growing up and so forth. The previews honestly did absolutely nothing for me. I was not planning on seeing this movie at all, but then this opportunity arose (it was playing at the same time as Your Highness) and I took it; and was once again shown that more often than not, I have no idea what in the hell I’m talking about.

The movie starts with Hanna, a teenage girl, in the middle of nowhere hunting a caribou or something. After killing the caribou she is busy doing the post killing stuff (gutting, skinning, preparing and so forth) when she is viciously attacked by a strange man. They spar for a while, with Hanna finally getting the best of him. The man turns out to be her father and the two of them live in the middle of the frozen tundra (it never really says where that I can recall) For all intents and purposes it appears that Hanna’s father is training her to be a survivalist/killer, which you actually find out is exactly what he is doing. Filling her brain with knowledge (he reads to her from the encyclopedia every night) and not much else (when she asks what music is, instead of explaining it by possibly singing, humming or whistling, he turns to the entry for music in the encyclopedia and reads it to her). Eventually Hanna tells her father that she is ready, the audience is still in the dark about what she is ready for, but her father pulls out a radio transmitter which, when turned on, will notify an agency of the US government (it never really calls it the CIA, but it’s kind of assumed) who will then apparently come to find them. Hanna activates the transmitter while her father leaves before the people come to find them. They have plans to meet up at a later point after different goals have apparently been accomplished. The movie kind of continues from there, Hanna is picked up by the agency, escapes her initial holding cell, and is chased around by said agency. It has a very Sci-fi/action-adventure feel to it, but mixed it with it is a coming of age story that actually works, add a dash of “twisted version of little red riding hood” and you’ve got yourself a pretty entertaining movie.

This movie had a bit of everything, good story, interesting plot, and some exceptionally well choreographed fight scenes. I honestly enjoyed watching Hanna transition into the real world, even though more often than not I’m not a huge fan of this “watch a girl learn and grow” films. It was interesting to see how the portrayed her first interactions with someone other than her father, and also how she reacted to the world, with her first experiences with music and so forth. It also helps when part of that transition is her flipping a kid who tried to kiss her for the first time on his back, then apologizing and thanking him for a nice evening. The reason that she is hiding from the CIA, err, sorry, “Unnamed Agency” is kind of obvious as it’s been used in multiple movies, but it’s still a fun ride. Kate Blanchet does an excellent job being a heartless woman, and Saoirse Ronan provided an excellent show as being a little psychotic girl with no real world experience.

One thing that I feel I should mention in regards to this movie is that I purchased the soundtrack. I never do that. I’m actually kind of anti-movie soundtracks. While I appreciate the importance of music in movies (I know exactly what it will sound like when a shark tries to eat me now, thanks to Jaws) I’ve never been the type to go buy the soundtrack. This movie, however, had one of the best sound tracks I’ve ever heard, done incredibly well by The Chemical Brothers. When there is about to be a fight or an exciting scene, you feel it through the music more than anything. The song “The Devil is in the details” gets in your head and will not leave, which is kind of creepy when you associate it with the movie and the guy who whistles it.

All in all Hanna was a pleasant surprise. Would I purchase it, probably not, but would I see it again, in a heartbeat.

4 out of 5 stars


Tuesday, April 26, 2011

This Blog is Awesome: Or Why You Should Follow This Blog

That movie is and example of what will happen if you do not follow us. Zac will dress up in a panda costume and terrorize you at work and at home.

Ladies and Gentlemen for a couple months now we’ve been trying to provide a solid piece of entertainment here. This blog was the brain child of bad Chinese food and too much caffeine with a little friendly nudge from Chris Adams. We decided to spread the joy that is us through the internet, with stories that we have and reviews of movies we’ve seen. Honestly I think that I’ve enjoyed it more than anyone else, however, in recent days and weeks we’ve noticed a disturbing trend. While we have quite a few visits from different people, we don’t have that many followers. We appreciate those who have made the commitment to follow us, I know that it has been a rollercoaster of emotions and we appreciate your stability.

That being said, shame on those of you who read and do not take the time to click the follow button!

Reading the blog but not following it is like jumping out of a plane without a parachute. Sure you get the thrill that those who jump with the parachute get, but you lose the safety of knowing that we know who you are; which is safety indeed.

As an incentive to encourage people to follow our blog, we promise to do something crazy (pronounced: ku-RAY-zee) once we have 100 followers. This crazy (continue with pronunciation instructions previously given) thing will likely be either Zac cutting his hair and me dyeing mine. However these are negotiable we’re always open to suggestion. Now that is the positive reinforcement. If we do not get the 100 followers shortly, then we will begin with the negative reinforcement which may include shooting hostages (albeit the only two hostages we have are Moorman and Coombsy but you’ve got to start somewhere) also there may be other negative repercussions. So please take us seriously.

Yay for following the Intrepid Dukes!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The Dukes See a Movie: Your Highness

Recently the Dukes found themselves in an ethical and moral dilemma or quandary as it were. We weren't sure if Your Highness was a movie we should see. I said yes because the main characters and director have made me laugh in the past, the main example I will give is their work in Pineapple Express. Ricky on the other hand decided he was going to be an honorable man and not see this movie with questionable values. This led to the first movie rift in this blog's history. (Not including my solo excursion to see The King's Speech. Ricky still hasn't forgiven me.) I found myself with Coombsy watching Your Highness while Ricky was in a theater nearby watching Hanna. (Review coming soon) It felt a little odd having the Dukes separated by more than a few seats, but nothing could change what had happened. Although while I think Ricky made the right decision it didn't stop me from enjoying the film.

As the story unfolds it shows two brothers (James Franco, 127 hours)(Danny Mcbride, Eastbound and Down) and the relationship they have with their father the king. James is a true prince. He loves to quest and he is constantly bringing honor and glory back to his father and the kingdom. Danny on the other hand is the second son and is lazy and pampered almost beyond belief, pretty much like a male TBQ(The Black Queen). In the beginning of the film James has just returned from a quest and has brought back a bride (Zooey Deschanel, 500 days of Summer) and the head of a Cyclops as a trophy. He wishes to get married the next day and have his brother as the best man. On the day of the wedding some small event causes Danny to pout and leave the festivities. While he is off getting high and chasing sheep (I told you it was by the same person that did Pineapple Express) his brother has an evil wizard crash the wedding and take his bride to a far away tower.

James starts getting a group together to rescue her and Danny is forced to go by his father who threatens to take away everything if he doesn't help.  A short way into the quest the brothers find out that all the other soldiers are traitors and have been helping the evil wizard. At the conclusion of an exciting carriage chase the intrepid questers find themselves in a strange forest and are inevitably captured. While captive they run into the super hardcore Natalie Portman who, after a brief solo outing, joins their quest.

From here on out it pretty much follows the standard buddy quest movie. The brothers argue and break up. The younger one decides he needs to change the type of person he is. The older one feels bad and manages to get captured. The younger one continues on the first part of the quest alone and completes it. He rescues the older one and they rescue the damsel in distress together. The hardcore lady falls in love with the younger, newly changed man. Both couples return home and live their lives in happiness and peace, unless they make a sequel.

All in all I liked the movie but it had a lot of things that I don't think were necessary to the story. I won't mention them here due to the crude nature of these things but if you must know you can just ask me in person or see the movie for yourself.

Rating: 3.5 stars

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

The Dukes See a Movie: Source Code

I will break down this movie review in a few simple equations.

This is a base equation for films: Good movie = Good plot  + Good Actors + Good Director (for a bad movie replace one or more of the goods with a bad)
Movie plot = Groundhog's Day + 12 Monkeys (both enjoyable movies)

Jake Gyllenhaal = Good Actor

Duncan Jones = Good up and coming director (He directed Moon which I thought was a winner)

So in the end we get: Source Code = (Groundhog's Day + 12 Monkeys) + Jake Gyllenhaal + Duncan Jones

And to put it in numerical terms...

Rating:  3.75 Stars

(In case you couldn't tell I was too lazy to write an actual review and I am a math fan.)

The Dukes See a Movie: Sucke[r] Punch


Why did this have to happen to me? What did I do to deserve such a painful humiliation? When I was first introduced to the concept of Sucker Punch, I was in awe. It was supposed to be the ultimate guy/nerd movie. It was supposed to be so much more.

Good looking girls in short skirts: Check

Samurai robots with Gatling guns: Check

Zombies: Check

Nazis: Check

Zombie Nazis: Check

Trench warfare: Check

Dragons: Check

Orcs: Check

Burlesque house: Check

Robots: check

I thought to myself “Jeepers, this movie has everything!” But there was one more item on the list

Coherent story: …

Sucker Punch suffers from a couple different issues that I feel brought down what could have been a great movie. I will attempt to list them here in such a way that will help you, dear reader, to understand why I feel so terribly betrayed.

Sucker Punches Faults (in no particular order)

1. Inceptionism – Inception was quite possibly the best film of 2010. The idea was unique and new, something that Hollywood had seemed to forget how to do in the current days of remakes, reboots, and video game movies. Sucker Punch took the inception idea and ran with it, right into a brick wall. With inception the idea of a dream within a dream within a dream was well explained, and you understood what was happening in each layer and why it was relevant. With Sucker Punch the only time you even touch the real world is at the beginning and the very end. For the most part the “real” world is some burlesque house, run by a strong handed pimp. Once you stepped into the dream worlds, crap got crazy. This bothered me because I was unable to follow the transition from burlesque world (level 2) to real world (level 1 – the actual insane asylum where the main character was). For example: The Main character is given a list of items that are needed for her escape, one of these is fire. So in the dream world (level 3) she fights a castle full of orcs and kills a baby dragon to obtain stones that make fire. Awesome. In level 2 she dances and kind of hypnotizes the mayor who is visiting the burlesque house, while her friend who is sitting on his lap picks his pocket and takes his lighter. Makes sense. In level 1 (the actual asylum) it never explains how she went about getting the lighter, it simply shows that a person has a lighter in the beginning, and in the end that she lit a fire in the asylum. For the other items the same is true. I understand how she got it in Level 3, and level 2, but the transition to level 1 is unclear.

2. Too much talkie, not enough fighty – This movie was marketed towards nerds, that’s the bottom line. I went in expecting non-stop fighting, and of the coolest kind. Zac Snyder, who directed both the Watchmen, and 300 did not disappoint in either of those. Fight, fight, fight, bit of story, fight, fight, fight. That was his process in those two. In this one however he decided to break away from that format, and it was more like Interesting opening, boring, boring, burlesque house, boring, boring, FIGHT!, boring, boring, boring, FIGHT!, boring, boring, boring, FIGHT!, so on and so forth. My beef with the movie is this: If you’re gonna market it as fighting and almost nothing else, it better damn well be fighting and almost nothing else. Bait and switch!

3. Feminism – I have absolutely no problem whatsoever with movies being politically driven. I appreciate it even. Movies are a medium for directors and actors to express their beliefs, hopes and fears (I really believe this I’m not just making crap up); so when the movie looks like a pro-girl-power-guys-can’t-boss-us-around movie, I’m fine with that. What bothers me is when in the middle of this said idea, it suddenly does a full body, calves to head pan of one of the main characters, slowing down in all of the right places (if you get my meaning, wink wink , nudge nudge) it betrays itself. Showing that it’s not a pro-girl power thing, and just a look at this thing, what I’m trying to say is either stick with your moral of the story, or don’t have one. Don’t try and walk the line between because you look like an idiot.

4. Acting – Oh. My. Hell. This movie had some of the worst acting that I have ever seen in my entire life, and I watched Final Sacrifice. Albeit the acting was not nearly as bad as that, but sweet mercies it was terrible. For me, the attachment that I feel to a character is directly correlated with the way an actor portrays said character. If the actor does a good job, I become attached and genuinely care. If they do not, I don’t bother remembering their name because in the end I kind of hope they die. That’s what happened in this movie. I couldn’t remember for the life of me the names of the characters that were involved in this movie. All I knew was that in the end, I didn’t care.

Now I’m not saying that this movie was totally without merit, the visuals were stunning (and no Morgan and Stacy I’m not just referring to the ladies). Watching Steampunk Nazi Zombies getting massacred and having steam shoot out where blood and guts would usually be was both different and entertaining. The different dream realms that were created for this were also quite impressive. That being said, they couldn’t redeem the rest of it.

The bottom line for me is this. I tend to expect a lot out of certain movies. I understood that this movie was not going to be groundbreaking; it was not the next Citizen Kane or Casablanca. I knew that it would not have a ton of substance behind it. I went in expecting fluff, pure entertainment, but I was also expecting a whole lot of entertaining fights, coherent story, and semi-decent acting. What I got was fluff, which was trying to be something more, mediocre fight scenes, one of the most convoluted stories I’ve ever seen in my life and acting that makes Kristen Stewart look like a method actor.

In the end there were two warning signs I should have seen and headed. The first was the marquis at the theater. Either the letter had fallen off, or the theater staff were lazy (seeing as this was Carmike 12, the latter is likely) but the marquis read “Sucke Punch”. It was a terrible omen. And a few days later I remembered, upon seeing a commercial for it, what the tagline for the movie was: “You will be unprepared”. Bryan was there and quipped “I was, I really was”. So was I Bryan, so was I.

1 out of 5 stars.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

The Dukes See a Movie: Paul

It was hard trying to decide what to say about this movie so I will just say it was exactly what I expected. Now I should probably say what I mean by that. I was very excited to see this movie for three main reasons.
  1. It is a story about nerds. Being a nerd I always look forward to seeing a movie about my kind. I feel an instant connection to the characters and it makes me want to do something nerdy myself. (Here are a few examples: bust out my red Magic the Gathering deck and do battle in some dimly lit game shop, dress up as an Uruk-hai and go to Hobbit town and yell "Find the Halfling!", or just be me since that is nerdy enough.)
  2. The cast. I heart me some Nick Frost and Simon Pegg. I cannot think of a single show either has been in that I haven't liked. Especially when they are in a movie together like Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz. (These are two of my favorite movies ever.) The cast also includes Seth Rogen and Jason Bateman. When I read through the cast I may or may not have squealed like a girl and fainted. Don't judge me.
  3. The name. Paul is such a sexy and wonderful name. For those of you that don't know we have a friend named Paul and if I had left him out of this review he would have been a sad, sexy man.
The movie starts with best friends Simon Pegg and Nick Frost having themselves the ultimate nerd-cation. They first stop off at Comicon and geek out over a myriad of things including authors, swords and lady nerds. After Comicon they head on a road trip to visit the most famous paranormal sites in the US. While driving from one of these sites they witness a car crash. They stop to help and investigate and while searching the wreckage they meet Paul the alien.

After a brief freak-out period that involved fainting and pant-peeing they are told that Paul needs their help to make it home. Simon agrees (Nick is passed out at this point) and they hit the road together. It doesn't take long for them to realize that they are being pursued by three agents. Two are bumbling rookies and one (Jason Bateman) is pretty dang hardcore.

While running they happen to pick up another person. She is the cyclops daughter of rv park owner and is incredibly religious, the crazy bible thumping version of religious. You can bet she isn't too keen on having her world crushed by an alien but that is what ends up happening when he heals her eye and gives her his knowledge through a mind meld.

There are many close shaves and a lot of laughs as the attempt to reach the meeting point. Once they get there you meet the director of the project that Paul had escaped. Sigourney Weaver. I hate her so much. It is a rage that wells from deep in my soul. If I met her in person I would probably get over my distaste of hitting women and just go to town on her face.

Here are two pictures of the same person.

This hatred is leading me to give away part of the movie.


Sigourney Weaver gets crushed by a spaceship! This moment sealed the deal on my enjoyment of the movie.
In the end I really enjoyed this movie. It was a lighthearted romp that made me laugh and didn't make me think very much. If you have a few hours of time and no aversion to foul language you should see this movie.

Rating: 4 stars